Sometimes I forget that most of the people who made the music I love are old enough to remember being children, sitting clustered around a black-and-white television set with rabbit-ear aerials, watching the Space Race play out in real-time. I forget that they were old enough to see the Kennedy assassination, but young enough not to know what it was they were seeing. I forget that they were old enough to understand the significance of the moon landing, but young enough to believe that they might one day walk on its surface as well. I forget that this music bridges decades across a changing world, but the Inspiral Carpets remind me.
The Manchester District Music Archive is a user-led online archive established to celebrate Greater Manchester music and its social history.
Do you lot know about the Manchester District Music Archive? It’s a free, user-edited online archive of articles, pictures, sounds, videos, and anything you can think of from Manchester’s incredibly rich musical history. Photographs predominate, obviously, but there’s everything from T-shirts to tape reels in here, a recording of as many scraps of Manchester-that-was as we can scrape together, the next best thing to being able to swear you were there.
It isn’t just the website, either. There are special online exhibitions (at the moment, one about post-punk fanzines, one about Moss Side and Hulme, and one about queer culture), physical exhibits (for instance, Giles and I went to see “Defining Me,” the one that just finished its run at the Lowry Museum), events (such as concerts, DJ sets, lectures), and more.
Come and check it out! Do you have anything you can add? Join in and make a contribution. Just want to learn as much as you possibly can? Sign up and start exploring.
The MDMA is awesome, and the more people there are out there that know about it and want to be a part of it, the better. Why not you?
John Cooper Clarke is a self-styled “punk poet” from Manchester. His work is made up of about equal parts beat, punk, stand-up comedy, and the clever retorts you always wish you could come up with in the heat of the moment and yet never can. I think he may be my favourite poet of all time.
Be warned, though; don’t listen to this (or any of his work) if you don’t like profanity, disenchantment or controversial themes. If you do, he’s a bloody genius.
It wouldn't be at all hard - I'm sure it's already been done - to make a music player that used some random noise (in the mathematical sense) to generate some, uh... random noise (in the literal sense) on the playback of a track. It wouldn't even take much more to algorithmically generate cracks and hisses and pops based on peaks and troughs and decibel level in the music. You could even store data on how often the track is played and increase the noise level on heavily played tracks.
If you wanted to make a digital track sound like it was being played on vinyl, you could, but it would involve a lot more than just the addition of random noise to change the sound appropriately. (Of course, bear in mind that I’m just being a sort of reverse audiophile here and that the average person probably wouldn’t care at all, but here, have some random thoughts nonetheless.)
Beware; below the cut there be much technical rambling about sound.
The network of influence between musicians is so intertwined and complicated that it’s practically impossible to nail down to specifics. It might be possible to pick out one or two influences on a given song or album, or trace the rise and fall of various influences throughout a band’s career (see: The Jam), but in general, it’s a fairly complex web of events and inspirations and it’s hard to isolate a single driving force, other than their own, in any artist’s work.
That said, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem has never made a secret of The Clash’s influence on his music. He’s talked about it in interviews, participated in Strummerville events, and even made it pretty much inescapable in his song, “I’da Called You Woody, Joe.”
If you listen, though, you begin to realize that it isn’t necessarily The Clash in exclusivity that inspire him, but the musicianship of Joe Strummer. (You’ll note, along with innumerable Clash references, the line in the aforementioned song that goes, “And a girl on the excitement gang,” calling back to Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros’ “Coma Girl.”)
Anyway, the point of all this rambling is to offer the following two songs up to you, not just because they’re both really good, but also because I’ve been thinking about influences and inspirations and perhaps you can hear a little of that from one song to the other here.
Five bands/musicians you wish you saw live, but now cannot for whatever reason. This can include previous lineups of still-playing bands.
Because I am pathologically incapable of choosing just five of anything, I’m afraid I have corrupted your question into “five shows you wish you’d seen live,” rather than five bands or musicians. Even so, I’ve left out dozens of artists I wanted to include, but at least I’ve managed to cheat my way into a few extra bands as openers. (Note that these are not in any particular order, and that one band’s opening for another doesn’t mean I want to see the headliner more than the openers.
Behind a cut, because, as usual, this got rather longer than expected.
Twenty-five years ago today, New Order’s Technique album was released. As a result, both Technique and I have a birthday today, which means I have an excuse to post this, my favourite song off the album. I love the sound (though I’ve got to confess that I love the 7” mix even more) and I love the lyrics and this couplet, in particular, always made a strange sort of sense to me:
The picture you see is no portrait of me It’s too real to be shown to someone I don’t know
In any event, happy birthday to Technique and all that.
It’s that time of year again – gearing up for Gallifrey One, the world’s largest Doctor Who convention. I love going, not only because there is grand fun and amazing programming and incredible opportunities to meet people, but also because some of the best friends I have are ones I’ve met at Gally and whom I see only once a year, when the convention rolls around again.
And also, I give talks there.
As usual, I’ll be talking about the music of Doctor Who this year on the “Dulcet Tones of Doctor Who" panel. This time, in a terrifying turn of events, they have put one of the actual composers from the show on the panel with me. (Yes. You read that right.) And to make matters even scarier, it’s Dominic Glynn, who is not only the composer from the era I profess to know most about, but also a music producer I admire completely apart from his work on the show.
And, for the first time, I’ll be giving another panel as well – a British Invasion panel called “The British Are Coming,” in which I’ll get to ramble in real life about British youth and music subcultures, their influence on America, which ones survived and which didn’t, and all sorts of awesome nonsense like that, normally reserved for my Internet ramblings alone. I’m intimidated, but also incredibly excited. I tried hard to land this panel, so I’m very honoured to have been given it.
So, er, the long and the short of it is, if you’re going to Gallifrey One this year, come and say hello! Or come and see a panel or two! It’ll be a good time, I promise (and I have ribbons, too).
g o d that was so sad [lies on floor] but tell me about this famous gig that everyone claims they went to cause it started so many bands (if u have the time !!!)
You mean the Sex Pistols on June 4, 1976, at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. That’s the gig everyone swears they attended because it (theoretically) gave rise to pretty much the entire Manchester punk and post-punk scene and therefore everything that happened afterward as well.
Brace yourselves for a hilarious story of my being an idiot. It starts – or so I thought – in grade two, when I was seven or eight years old in art class at school and my teacher would play the radio every day while we worked. I’d keep hearing this song, over and over again, and it stuck in my head for years. Only I’d mis-remembered the lyrics slightly, so no matter what I searched for or how hard I tried, I could never find this song again.
Right, so I was thinking about it again today because I was asked about songs from my childhood, and by some miracle, I managed to hit upon the right combination of search terms and incorrect lyrics and find this, Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.” You have no idea how big this day is or how long I’ve been looking… and please bear in mind here that not only am I an adult with reasonably good Google search capabilities, I’m actually quite familiar with Marcy Playground and probably had this song in my music collection all along. (Update: I checked. I didn’t. I feel marginally less stupid now.)
Furthermore, it turns out that this wasn’t released until November of 1997, which means that – while I’m certain I heard a radio pre-release, because I know I listened to it in Europe and yet we moved to Canada in July of that year – I was actually three years older than I thought I was when I first heard this song.
Also, I’m not sure why, at ten years old, I was able to mis-hear the word “marijuana” into the lyrics. Shouldn’t I not have known about things like that yet?
So I always thought this track sounded a lot like the material New Order was putting out at the time (in the mid-eighties) and that the Stockholm Monsters should have been held in far higher regard than they ever were. There’s actually a fascinating structure to this piece in that it starts out sounding like an electronic dance anthem and ends up being something quite different – and on top of that, the chorus is instrumental, which is beautiful. I mean, there are all sorts of things that could be said about the way the song itself is formed around its own themes, deliberate or not (“I can’t think what to say” prefacing the wordless choruses, “I just have to run and hide” at the softest point in the song), but you really don’t want to hear me ramble about that, so just listen to the trumpet work in the choruses. A lot of new wave and funk bands were incorporating brass sounds into their music at this point, but the Stockholm Monsters do it in a way that’s different to any other band I’ve heard.
This was originally released as the B side to “All at Once,” and the run-out grooves on the single read “WHEN A MAN’S MIND!/TURNS TO ROMANCE!” I’ve got it on an original pressing of Alma Mater, though (complete with Manchester Public Library stamp and FACT 80 handwritten on the label!), so mine says “YOU KNOW WHAT TONIGHT IS!/AND WHAT GOES!”
Forgive me, but in addition to answering your question, I’m going to co-opt it into a quick breakdown of mod and rocker subcultures, because triforce-of-brixton asked me to explain even though I am incredibly unqualified, and so I thought I might kill two birds with one stone.
So, er, yeah! DJing for a while. Punk, post-punk, mod, Madchester, who knows? Whatever I feel like playing? Whatever you guys want to hear? (You can suggest songs on the website, or drop me an ask.)
Anyway, come over and join us at the (ridiculously-named) Festival of the Twenty-Eighth Summer.
Update: I think we’re done for now – and wow, I did not expect to go for six hours – but everyone seemed to enjoy it, so I’ll definitely be doing it again, and I’ll definitely let you guys know when it happens. Thank you for stopping by!
Most of you have probably already heard the version of “This Is the One” off The Stone Roses’ debut album, but you may not have heard this version off Garage Flower. This was an album recorded four or five years before their eventual debut release, but the Roses initially didn’t want this one released because they weren’t happy with the job Martin Hannett did producing the songs. In a number of cases, I tend to agree with them (although if you listen to some of their other early work, like “So Young" or "Tell Me,” it’s neat in that Hannett’s sound signature is so unmistakeable). I really disagree with them about this song in particular, though; I think this is the most transcendent version of “This Is the One” I’ve ever heard.
Hey Mick, tell us what your top 5 tracks of 2013 were!
I’d love to do that! Thank you for asking. I should warn you, though, that it’s practically impossible for me to narrow things down to my five favourite tracks, so what you’re actually getting here is five of my top tracks of 2013, and perhaps even some boring backstory as well.
I’ve talked about this one before, but I guess it sums up the past year better than anything else could. Mick Jones and Tony James do wonderful things here (and the artists’ comments that originally went along with the release were essentially a love letter between best friends), the video is beautiful, and the lyrics – well, we survived, didn’t we? And the sun is still rising. And I reckon that’s about all I could have asked for out of 2013. Everything else was a bonus.
Over the past year, Giles and I have been lucky enough to see Johnny Marr play twice (once on the outbound and once on the return leg of his Messenger tour). The first time he played this, he said, “This song is for anyone who thinks they think too much. And that’s all right.” The second time, he said less, but played it with – if it’s even possible – more energy. I like the way Johnny approaches life, and I like what he’s trying to say here, and I think everyone ought to hear this song at least once, whether you choose to think about it too much or not.
I know I’m technically cheating with this one, but bear with me. The original track was released in 1980, but the album on which it appeared, The Return of the Durutti Column, was re-issued this year and I own a copy, so I’m slipping this one in and hoping you don’t notice. It’s more meaningful to me than most of the music released in 2013, because over the past year, Giles and I have been privileged to meet and form a friendship with the Reillys, so this is not only a beautiful composition of guitar and effects, it’s a song that used to mean a band I loved and now, a year later, means a friendship I also love.
These guys were the openers at this summer’s New Order show, and honestly, I think they were my second-favourite opening band all year*. They’re what’s happening next on the dance scene and they’re really cool, and this is one of the songs off the album they released this year. They also played it at the gig, and let me tell you, if you like it through your laptop speakers, imagine it live in a fourteen-thousand person venue.
As you already know, New Order are another band that Giles and I were lucky enough to see live this year. They’re also a band I’ve loved for a long time, as well as a group of people who are all really cool. They invited us to be on the guest list for their show, they were gloriously kind about our book, and they released a short, but properly quality album (with a really flash cover that Pete Hook went on to tweet about for months, and I’ve got to be honest; I hope he never stops). It may not be the band’s best album of all time, but there are a fair few memories from this year wrapped up in it.
I know. It wasn’t released in 2013. It wasn’t re-issued in 2013. It has nothing whatsoever to do with 2013, so why is it on my list of top tracks of 2013? The truth is, I would be remiss in summarizing the year in music if I didn’t include something by Crispy Ambulance. They’re another band that have, in the past year, gone from names on the covers of our favourite albums to names in our list of mobile phone contacts. They’re another band that have been incredibly supportive of our book, and of us, too. They’re another band that were once heroes and are now friends as well, and I couldn’t properly talk about music that was important this year without including them. And at any rate, I think this probably ranks as the song I listened to most over the course of 2013 (not to mention this was the year we finally found and bought the album from which it originates), so that’s got to count for something.
Other cool music that was released this year:
I’ve run out of room to recommend tracks, but these are some other things that happened in 2013 that I can’t bear not to mention.
Rubberbear have a new EP out, Elements; you can listen to it all here and wow, it’s definitely worth hearing. The Arctic Monkeys released AM; you can listen to most of that here. Miles Kane’s latest album came out; it’s a partial collaboration with Paul Weller, which sweetens the deal, and you can find parts of it here and here. And, finally, Hot Vestry released their new EP, Tell Me How It’s Done, which you can listen to here or here.
*Note: My favourite opening band this year were Slaves of Venus, who opened for Peter Hook and The Light. Look it up. You’ll enjoy the joke more when you do. (And while you’re at it, here’s what may be my favourite live track of 2013; check it out!)
For music, do you prefer vinyl to CD? MP3 to everything? Is vinyl hard to find? Are digital purchased-downloads (ie: from Bandcamp) good for the artists? Better than other formats? Are even there any cassettes left in the world, other than the Paul Simon and Van Halen ones in a shoebox under the seat of my mum's car?
Wow, that’s a fair number of questions all at once!
(And the answers got rather longer than expected, so here’s a read-more cut.)
YOOOO MY BRO! please tell me: are The Jam good? If so, what album would you recommed? thanks mate :D
Well, bear in mind, of course, that I’m just firing my personal opinions at you – but I think The Jam are pretty brilliant. They’re a mod revival band at their core, but (if such a thing is possible) I think I’d say that The Jam get about as close to punk rock as a mod group can do without hopping genres.
(And, for your personal interest, The Jam toured with The Clash on the May 1977 White Riot tour – though it wasn’t an unmitigated success, as The Jam weren’t thrilled at the financial arrangements and later dropped out of the tour after accusing The Clash of not having given them the chance to sound-check properly.)
(Also, I saw Paul Weller play last summer and before I did, I thought he’d mellowed out a lot because his recent releases have been much more easy-going than his early work – but I was wrong. When he plays live, he’s just as dynamic and energetic as he ever was. Highly recommended!)
Disagreements with The Clash aside, I’d honestly recommend any of The Jam’s albums. If you’re asking because you’re considering buying one, I’ll do something I wouldn’t normally do and suggest getting Snap! It’s a compilation, yeah, but it’s a really good and comprehensive overview of some of the band’s best work. (There’s also a version called Compact Snap! that’s available on CD only; I’d still recommend it, but it isn’t as good because they had to remove a few of the tracks in order to make it fit onto a single disc.)
More about their individual studio albums under the cut!
Hey Jey, Blue Monday is EXACTLY what i needed today and It reminded me of a question that i was thinking i should ask you (as my source of all New Order knowledgfulness). i thought i saw/read somewhere (maybe in/about 24 Hour Party People?) that the syncopation on the drum track for this song was actually a mistake—someone started it half a beat too soon/too late in the studio or something and it sounded so good they kept it. Is this trufax or did i imagine it?
You’re right! I can’t say exactly where you might have learnt that, because it’s been discussed in all sorts of places, but yes, the beat and the melody are out of sync with one another. It isn’t the drums that are off (relative to what New Order originally intended), though; it’s the sequencer track.
If you listen to it (here's the original), you can hear where the beats fall in the bass drum line, and if you follow the rhythm, you can also hear the way the melody falls in between the strong beats.
It’s actually a really easy mistake to make, because in order to create “Blue Monday,” New Order went through all sorts of electronic equipment - for instance, the drum line is on an Oberheim DMX drum machine with effects; the bass line is through a Moog Source and sequenced using a machine Bernard Sumner built himself (as were many of their early works, because they couldn’t afford a proper sequencer); some of it, I’ve heard, was done with punch and step recording (techniques where it’s quite easy to drop a single beat or note); and there are vocoders, electronic drums, all sorts of things. Frankly, it’s a miracle there aren’t more accidentally-syncopated songs out there!
(Random side note unrelated to New Order: I was listening to Dick Mills, one of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound engineers, talking about constructing the early Doctor Who soundtracks, and he was discussing exactly this process. The early equipment in the sound shop included a punch-tape sequencer, and he and the other Radiophonic staff used to roll the tapes out all throughout the corridors of the building, start at one end, and go all the way down to the other end checking each note on the tape to ensure they didn’t end up missing beats. So you can imagine what a laborious process it must have been!)
This graphic novel anthology is a collection of short stories in the vein of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and EC Comics!
Hey, guys! This is a Kickstarter campaign for a Twilight Zone-themed comic anthology that’s going to be awesome. I have a story in there (written and lettered by me; illustrated by Tony Sedani) and a number of my really cool comics colleagues have worked on the book as well. Take a look, ask me questions if you like, and please consider backing us or spreading the word! It’s definitely worth it. (Not to mention that Giles and I could, unfortunately, sure use the money.)
Also, if you look through the rewards, the $25 level includes a sci-fi punk rock comic by me and Giles, one of the $100 levels includes having me write a 16-page custom comic script about whatever you’d like, and the $350 level includes a custom four-page comic by me and Giles about anything you want! Check it out!
Jey do you know much about reggae, could you rec me some good reggae?
I know a bit about reggae! I don’t know if you could describe it as “much,” but I know a little. Definitely, though I can recommend some good reggae!
I did put a few songs in here (which, to be fair, is doing a bit of a disservice to the reggae genre, throwing it in with first-wave ska), but music this rich in history and meaning deserves its own discussion. Thank you for asking about it.
Most of this is older reggae from the birth and early evolution of the genre, and it’s roughly chronological. There’s some more recent stuff near the end, as well as a number of international groups (from the United Kingdom, various African countries, even Denmark), but modern reggae is quite a different sort of music and that may not have been what you were looking for. If you have questions about any of it, or if you’d like more or want to try out different styles of reggae, let me know!
So this past weekend, Giles and I went to see Peter Hook and The Light play a New Order double album set live. I don’t talk a lot about gigs on here, but this one bears mentioning over and over again until all of you go and see these guys play, because… wow.
I mean, Hooky didn’t start out as a vocalist. He wasn’t even a great one when he started touring with The Light. The difference between then and now is amazing, though. Holy smokes, the man can sing. Not only that, but he somehow manages to stay true to New Order’s original album tracks while simultaneously turning them into punk rock. It’s fantastic. You’ve got to hear it to believe it.
It isn’t just him, though. His son Jack doubles up on bass (and is entirely self-taught, because Hooky said he didn’t want him to pick up bad habits) and he’s got a new guitarist this tour, David Potts (from Monaco, one of his previous bands), who’s brilliant. I don’t think anyone else could have taken over so well from Nat. The other members of the band, also ex-Monaco, are also great – and it’s obvious they’re all having a good time onstage, which makes a hell of a lot of difference.
Anyway. The point is, if you ever have a change to see these guys play live (tour dates here), you should. Because they love what they’re doing, because they could use the support, and because they’re incredible.
(Yes, I know the audio track is their version of “Isolation.” Go here for some of the band’s New Order work.)
Mick Jones really evolved as a lyricist after leaving The Clash. He might not have been the “voice of a generation” that Joe Strummer was, but he was subtle and really clever (listen to the lyrical hooks in “Electric Vandal,” one of my favourites) and his work with B.A.D. is some of his best.
This song in particular has fantastic meta (just listen to the bridge!) and uses a lot of the sampling and digital techniques that Mick loved at the time – which unfortunately contributed to the musical disagreements between him and Joe, but, to be fair, also resulted in cool new music like this.
How'd you feel about doing an intro to goth? You do the best mixes <3
I’m sorry this has taken me so unconscionably long. The truth is, I don’t really know anything about goth, as a genre or a subculture or a classification of any sort, so I had to go away and learn some things and also consult with friends of mine who are involved in that scene. That said, I did compile a mixtape (and thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoy them!), but you are free to laugh me off as an amateur, because with regard to this I really am.
I ought to warn you that not everything on there is strictly gothic rock/punk/dark wave/what-have-you. There are a number of songs on there that are either “proto-goth,” post-punk or industrial or garage rock sounds like the first few tracks, or more contemporary songs that I’m told are modern goth club staples.
In any event, tracklist here, because the read-more cuts don’t appear to be working right now.
Hey Jey if it's not too much trouble could you make us a Welcome to Night Vale fanmix?
This is kind of cool, because I don’t get asked to do themed mixes like this very often. Thanks for the request!
If you don’t listen to Welcome to Night Vale, you might like to check it out – it’s a fortnightly podcast in the format of a community radio show and the juxtaposition of the creepy and the mundane is delicious.
Here's a mixtape. I hope you like it; it's a bit different from what I ordinarily do! Tracklist, as usual, under the cut.
It wasn’t possible, though, to let the occasion go unmarked, and so here is one of my favourites of his early songs, from back when he was in the 101ers, one of a million little pub rock bands that dotted the surface of England in the 1970s. The turns of phrase and imagery he uses are what make me love this song so much (“the ragged wind blows me through the town,” “me and Bakelite all alone”); you can already see the beginnings of what he eventually became as a songwriter.
Also, for what it’s worth, here are a couple of links:
to Strummerville, the foundation set up in Joe’s honour to promote and support new music internationally
Would you ever consider explaining Euskadi Ta Askatasuna in a little more detail? There's too much information out there to begin to make sense of.
I assume you’re asking because of this post, so I’ll tell you what I can, but please bear in mind that I’m no expert. I only know what I’ve pieced together from random reading.
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, better known as ETA, started out as an organization for Basque nationalism and separatism. They were initially intended in support of traditional Basque language and culture, but have evolved into what is essentially (and officially, according to the European Union) a terrorist group. They’re the central organization of the Basque National Liberation Movement and the chief player in the bid for independence from Spain and France.
In theory, ETA are a group whose main goal is Basque independence; however, though there are numerous other organizations and political parties who support either independence or at least self-determination, ETA are the only group who engage in or even approve of violent or terrorist activities to achieve that goal.
Some history below the cut for you, if you’re interested.
What do you think a duo of Johnny Marr and Peter Hook would sound like?
Actually, that was once proposed – shortly after New Order went on hiatus in the nineties, Peter Hook actually asked Johnny Marr to join his new band. Unfortunately, Johnny had only just agreed to work on Electronic with Bernard Sumner, so it never happened.
I think it would be reasonably interesting musically, though. Hooky is so well-known for his unique style of bass playing (that high, melodic sound) and Johnny for his jangly, open, bright guitar (he’d tune a step up and work with particular variations of chords to get the sound he wanted). I think they’d gravitate toward more of a “pop punk” sound, because Johnny’s style lends itself to that and Hooky’s always wanted to play in a punk band. There would probably be fairly strong bass lines, a more equal division of labour between guitar and bass than in most bands, partly because Johnny learnt to play from a bass perspective while he was in The Smiths and partly because Hooky seems to rather like the spotlight. I’m also guessing that Johnny would do the lion’s share of the singing (chiefly because he’s the more melodic singer of the two), but Hooky would get the harder numbers (because he enjoys it). If they were a Strummer-and-Jones-type duo, Johnny would be the musical Mick Jones and Hooky would be the heart-and-soul Joe Strummer.
I may be talking complete rot here, and of course I’ve no idea how the two of them would play off one another, but that’s my wild guess. Either way, I think it would be pretty brilliant.
hey jey why didn't the clash wanna play on the top of the pops?
There’s a simple and a complicated answer to that question.
The simple answer is that they refused to mime*. The Clash, and Joe Strummer in particular, were very much into the authenticity of their performances – they always wrote for the everyman, played to the everyman, preferred smaller venues, crammed as many audience members as they could backstage after the shows, had as many people as they could in their dressing rooms, talked to everyone, helped people with guitar problems, had local artists open for them, and so on. To be on Top of the Pops, they would have had to mime their performance, and that went against everything they stood for.
The more complicated answer is also that there was (and still is) a sort of “in-crowd” to pop music, and if you aren’t a part of that, then you’re distinctly out of place. Despite their success, The Clash were decidedly outsiders in the pop scene, and part of that outsider status was their refusal to mime – something that most groups on the show did without question. The Clash knew they had different perspectives and different values to the pop crowd, and appearing on the show would have damaged their credibility in more ways than one. (You’ll notice that other “outsider” bands who’ve appeared on the show have flouted the unwritten rules in various ways; several 1970s proto-punk bands insisted on playing live, the Pogues performed with Shane MacGowan too drunk to mime properly, the Stone Roses played with Ian Brown messing about with his microphone instead of singing, and so on.) Further to that, none of the members of The Clash were great with authority, and the producers on Top of the Pops wielded far too much over the bands they invited into the studio.
In short, The Clash were a principled band who disagreed with the artifice of the status quo, and Top of the Pops was exactly the opposite of what they wanted to represent.
* Miming, in this case, refers to performing with a specially-recorded backing track. Band members didn’t actually play their instruments or sing, but the Top of the Pops policy at the time stated (possibly in an attempt at maintaining some last vestige of credibility) that everyone who played on the recorded track had to be present in the studio.
Of course! I will always make a mixtape for anyone who asks.
I know you like Frank Turner and /Passenger, and you told me you also like Mumford & Sons, folk music, ’90s music (which I choose to interpret creatively), and drum-and-bass. Hopefully you’ll find something you like on this!
My apologies to anyone who’s asked me for a mixtape lately – I promise they are getting done; life has just been a madhouse lately. I love being asked and I love making them, so they’ll be up as soon as possible.
Going semi-off-topic for a bit, a lot of people ask me about comics. Specifically, comics that Giles and I make for publication. So here’s a post about how that happens, or at least, about how it happened once. (It’s only semi-off-topic because the comic is about music, which I know will surprise no one.)
Jey why is there spanish in some songs by The Clash?
Joe Strummer was fascinated by Spain – its history, its people, its stories. He grew up there for a time when he was young, used to vacation (or run away) there whenever he could, made friends with locals, moved there when The Clash called it quits to try to escape his past; he admired the country’s attitudes and was terrified of the implications of its civil war; he loved Spanish musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, everything. He met a Spanish punk band called 091 and liked them so much that he wrote them music, produced their second album, and offered thousands of pounds out of his own pocket to bring it to completion. He bought himself what he called his “Spanish-American car,” an old silver Dodge muscle car, and drove it all over Spain visiting locations that were meaningful to him. He fell in love with the work of Federico García Lorca to the point where… well, let me show you:
In short, Joe loved, or at least was deeply captivated by, everything about Spain. That’s why he wrote "Spanish Bombs," which references many of his most significant interests in the Spanish Civil War. It’s why he decided to do the backing vocals to "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" in Spanish*. It’s why there’s now a plaza dedicated to him in Granada, his favourite location in Spain. And it’s why so much of, not just The Clash’s, but all of Joe Strummer’s work, contains Spanish language and references to Spain.
* About this song: you might notice that the Spanish in this particular song doesn’t make much grammatical sense. What happened is that Joe decided at the very last minute that he wanted to do the backing vocals in Spanish. His own patchy knowledge of the language was all Castellano, while Joe Ely’s was all Mexican (or “Tex-Mex,” as he refers to it himself). They got the tape operator, Eddie Garcia, to help them translate by reading the lyrics over the phone to his mum, and she was Ecuadorian, so what they ended up with was a mashed-up, not-entirely-accurate translation.
Also, hey: if you’re interested at all in Joe Strummer’s wilderness years (or, perhaps, his Spanish-American car), there’s an extremely cool documentary project here that could definitely use more publicity. Check it out!
I’ve talked about Terry Chimes before. He’s the most overlooked member of The Clash, the most overlooked drummer on the punk rock scene, and basically the coolest guy around – and he doesn’t even take credit for any of it.
Most of you have probably already heard his work with The Clash. He was the drummer on the band’s first album release, as well as on a number of live tours. He also appeared in the music video for “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” which, when the re-release of the song rocketed to number one on the charts, was what gave him away as a badass punk rock drummer to his unsuspecting classmates at chiropractic school.
A lot of people aren’t familiar with much of his other work, though, so I put together this twenty-track mixtape of other things Terry Chimes has done. Some are better-known than others, and certainly some are better audio quality than others. (That’s deliberate; I tried to include as many live performances as possible, because a lot of Terry’s work was never recorded on studio albums.) Either way, I hope you enjoy it, because Terry Chimes deserves so much more credit than he ever gets.
Tracklist to the mixtape (in roughly chronological order) is under the cut.