Songs Of The Year : (released and unreleased)
1. Blitzed- The Raveonettes
2. Lasso- The Duke Spirit
3. Crucify – Screaming Ballerinas
4. So Much For Love – Slow Down Tallahassee
5. Weight Of The World-Editors
6. Goodbye- Asobi Seksu
7. Apartment Store -The National
8. Somewhere -The Hot Puppies
9 The Last Significant Statement- The Indelicates
10.That’s Not My Name- Ting-Tings
12 Jessica -Screaming Ballerinas
13.Adrennaline- Emma Pollock
14.The Towering Inferno- Lucky Soul
15. Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk-The Wedding Present
“Goodbye” By Asobi Seksu
Albums Of The Year:
1. Lust, Lust, Lust -The Raveonettes
2. An End Has A Start-Editors
3. Make Love To The Judges With Your Eyes- Pony Up
4. The Great Unwanted -Lucky Soul
5 In Our Bedroom After The War-Stars
6 Citrus-Asobi Seksu
7 Sound Of Silver- LCD Soundsystem
8 Favourite Worst Nightmare – Arctic Monkeys
9 We Live And Die In These Towns – The Enemy
10 Lady’s Bridge- Richard Hawley
11 Made Of Bricks -Kate Nash
12. Gaps -Monster Bobby
13. 23- Blonde Redhead
14. Into The Blue – Charlotte Hatherley
15. Overpowered – Roisin Murphy
“The Night Starts Here” By Stars
Gigs Of The Year:
1. Editors ( Liverpool )
2, The Pipettes (Manchester)
3. The Wedding Present (Liverpool)
Remix Of The Year :
Let’s Dance To Joy Division – The Wombats -KGB Remix
Heroes Of The Year:
Villains Of The Year :
Connor Mc Nicholas
TV Of The Year :
Extras (Xmas special)
Discoveries Of The Year:
Fight Like Apes
Slow Down Tallahassee
The Pan I Am (well sort of new!)
Comeback Of The Year:
The Jesus & Mary Chain
The Wedding Present
Films Of The Year :
The Future Is Unwritten
The Last King Of Scotland
The Departed (ok so it’s basically a remake-but in a terrible year for movies all the above stood head and shoulders above the dirge)
Disappointments Of The Year ;
“Lucio Starts A Fire” – Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong (oh dear, I think there must be much better in their arsenal)
Avril, regressing musically to the level of a 6 year old and sharing the world view of a 12 year old-hardly a progression, artistically eh! Next year will see Avril riding a trike, and making romper suits the must have leisure wear item.
The finale of Dr Who (If that made sense to ya then lay off the LSD )
“Panic Prevention“-Jamie T ( After the majesty of “Sheila” I was expecting so much more)
Monkey Swallows The Universe- Split (?)
Regina Spektor Live (Liverpool) (Flat, and slightly dull -the “kooky” behaviour between songs just grated after a while)
“Neon Bible” – Arcade Fire
“The Good, the Bad & the Queen” – The Good, the Bad & the Queen
The Hot Puppies gigs cancellation (sniffle)
Quotes Of The Year ;
“Kaiser Chiefs just scare me. Every single one of them looks like a weird scary ventriloquist dummy. Specially the little man with the hat.”- Linda Hollywood (Havana Guns)
“Settle Down” Dogwood
“What gets me is that we really don’t have stars anymore. Bowie looked like he was from another planet, and behaved like a star – you’ve got to be a bit arrogant and tread that fine line, but few people really do anymore. The Internet has made bands / people too accessible – and that weird desire that everyone has to be ‘really normal, actually’ is bollocks. What’s interesting about being normal?” Ollie Pound (Screaming Ballerinas)
“We’ve never seen anybody who looks like Andy, dance the way Andy does” – Monster Bobby
“I’ve never heard that Alanis-thing before. I am not naked with a blurred crotch in my videos! I’ve never been to India! I fully understand the actual meaning of the word “ironic”! I’ve never even done a cameo on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” –Marit Bergman
“I have never seen anything referring to me as the male Yoko Ono before” –Simon Indelicate (the Indelicates)-Interview coming soon!
“After reading Cheryl Coles’s comments branding me a “chick with a dick” I was feeling pretty low. I know I’ve said bad things about people in the past but this is mean… I may not be as pretty as you but at least I write and SING my own songs without the aid of autotune. I must say taking your clothes off, doing sexy dancing and marrying a rich footballer must be very gratifying, your mother must be so proud, stupid bitch.” –Lilly Allen on the ever intelligent Girls Aloud WAG, Cheryl Cole
“F**k Girls Aloud. I’d rather be a fat chick with a dick, than an F**king asshole. It’s hard to feel good when magazines say you’re ugly, so I know how Lily feels.”-Beth Ditto
“One minute I’m waiting for Kate to arrive to join me in the Jacuzzi for a romantic evening. The next thing I can remember is doing cold turkey in a vomit-filled cell.” Pete Doherty
“It’s like people going up to Paul McCartney and saying: ‘So, Paul, who’s this fool, and where’s this hill? This is what we’re up against. This is what Kurt Cobain had to put up with. And what did he do? He blew his head off.” – Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson on people asking who Ruby is –(Comparing themselves to the Beatles and Nirvana? -hahahaha ! So please people keep asking who Ruby is , there’s still hope!)
“Johnny Borrell is an idiot, he just makes trouble for himself. Having his own tour bus or chauffeured car that drives behind? And at Reading apparently he had his own dressing room, his own tent that was his. I mean what’s that about?” –Tom Clarke -The Enemy
“Conor doesn’t understand how the relentless stream of “cheers mate, got pissed last night, ha ha” interviews that clutter every single issue of the ‘new’ NME are simply not interesting to those of us who have no trouble standing upright.” Morrissey on NME’s Connor McNicholas
Those Dancing Days
Big or Bigger Next Year ?
The Hot Puppies
Fight Like Apes
The Ting Tings
The Duke Spirit
Cut Off Your Hands
Lucy And The Caterpiller
The Hot Melts
“Crucify” By Screaming Ballerinas
1. Ollie Pound (Screaming Ballerinas)
2. Joe Lean – (Joe Lean And The JJJ)
1 French Dog Blues -Babyshambles
“I model lack lustre panicky in vain search for the remedy
No words only melody come so I take the day off
My love, my love, she sits with me, I love, I love her company”
2. Tranquilize– The Killers
“Always here, always on time
Close call, was it love or was it just easy
Money talks when people need shoes and socks,
Steady boys, I’m thinking she needs me” and of course “Acid rain, when Abel looked up at Cain
We began the weeping and wailing
A hurried high from pestilence pills and pride,
It’s a shame, we could have gone sailing “
3. Ruby-Kaiser Chiefs
“Due to lack of interest tomorrow is cancelled
Let the clocks be reset and the pendulums held
‘Cos there’s nothing at all ‘cept the space in between
Finding out what you’re called and repeating your name”
(so who is Ruby? ;))
4. Good Life – Kanye West
“Have you ever popped champagne on a plane
While gettin some brain
Whipped it out, she said “I never seen snakes on a plane”
Genius or a slightly childish. Misogynistic or new man?
“Y’all pop the trunk, I pop the hood, Ferrari
And she got the goods
And she got that ass, I got to look, sorry
Yo it’s got to be cause I’m seasoned
Haters give me them salty looks, ….”
Oh dear !
Videos Of The Year
The Truth About Cats And Dogs ( Is That They Die ) By Pony Up
Without further ado lets kick off with one of the best Xmas songs to be released, it’s by an old friend of mine……yes all the way from the Wirral, it’s Halfman Half Biscuit
“It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” By Halfman Half Biscuit
Well, the baubles have been vigorously polished, the tree has been erected, the turkeys been roundly stuffed, and we await Santa’s heaving, bulging sack with bated breath. But meanwhile, away from the buxom snowcapped, twin peaked mountains of the magical “Land Of Double Entendre” and back in the real world, parents are preparing for their annual blitzkrieg in “Toys-R-Us” over this seasons “must have toy/gadget.” This is of course due to the fact that if little Johnny doesn’t get exactly what little Johnny has demanded, then the child who has yet to be acquainted with the word “no” or even the concept of compromise may well grow up to be psychologically damaged. (or worse, a solicitor ) It is against such a background that the corporate giants expertly manufacture this kind of hysteria. Huge advertising campaigns, involving the sort hyperbole Alistair Campbell could only dream of, are launched, which cleverly exploit parental guilt, the basic message being, if little Johnny doesn’t get this product you are a CRAP parent, a loathsome individual and you deserve to live a life of friendless, unremitting misery, forever haunted by your shameful neglect. With this in place they then deliberately undersource retail outlets of said product in the run up to Xmas, thus creating the kind of Seasonal pandemonium, that sees quite reasonable, educated people fighting over Nintendo WII’s in order to assuage their guilt. Meanwhile others are cramming their shopping trolleys to bursting point with ludicrous amounts of food that they quite frankly, could never eat, even if the entire population of Birmingham had been invited for Christmas dinner! But hey-ho, if nuclear war ever breaks out, let’s pray it’s over the Christmas period , as we, as a nation, will be well stocked ! It most certainly is “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” the season of goodwill and indeed the season to be jolly! So bollocks to all that negative humbug ! We love Christmas, and as the song says “It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” so let’s be thankful for all the positives, as we reflect on the year, and what Christmas means to us. It is also a chance to thank all the readers, musicians and contributors who have joined in and to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas.
As a seasonal treat we thought it would be fun to quiz some of our favourite artists and special friends, enabling them to share their thoughts on the festive season, how do they spend Christmas?… what do they love about it (or not) ?? and/or , what are their most cherished Christmas songs that warm the cockles of their hearts and induce a fierce and compelling desire to roast their chestnuts on an open fire.
Well, Christmas certainly has arrived early for Mr VP as one of his all time heroes ex- Lush legendMiki Berenyiagreed to share her favourite Christmas songs with us:-
MIKI : “Frosty the Snowman” featuring Angela McCluskey
from “The Rumor Mill’s Christmas On Clinton St.” charity album. Heard this very recently and knew nothing whatsoever about Angela McCluskey (that’s how out of touch I am). What a lovely voice! Also an excellent cause (http://www.savefrosty.org) and a lovely video on YouTube (below)
“Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Crystals
“Both from the Phil Spector Christmas album – I’d pick every track but these 2 are my favourites. Genuinely the most HAPPY renditions of any Christmas songs EVER, this is a staple of our family Christmas and will induce dancing, singing and genreral whoops of delight from me, Moose and the kids.”
The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl “Fairytale of New York”
“You’re a bum,You’re a punk, You’re an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed You scumbag, you maggot, You cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God its our last ! “Lyrics that just beg to be yelled out as you stagger home from the Christmas booze-up”
“Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses
“Reminds me of being a teenager – I think I was about 15 when it was out! I remember seeing the Waitresses on some music programme miming or whatever. I thought Patty Donahue looked so amazing – this giant leggy geeky thing in a mini skirt. Brilliant! Love the sweet love-story soap-opera story line, too.”
“Frosty The Snowman” Angela McClusky
“Fairytale Of New York” The Pogues And Kirtsy McColl
1/ Come on Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance- Sufjan Stevens
2/ Snow plus Xmas- Pearlfishers
3/Santa Claus is Coming to Town- The Crystals
4/ I Was Born on Xmas Day- St Etienne
5/ The Wizzard One
“Come on Let’s Boogie To The Elf Dance”- Sufjan Stevens
For Yuki from Asobi Seksu it sounds like Christmas is a chance to rest
“I’m looking forward to wearing sweat pants and eating lots of food that is “bad” for you. Mostly this holiday, I’m looking forward to being in one place for an extended period of time. And in 2008- can’t wait to make a new album!”
Asobi Seksu have just released a fabulous reverb soaked festive cover of The Ramones “Merry Christmas ( I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight )”backed by the fantastic “New Year” get it here from One Little Indian Records
Rowena from Santa Dog describes her perfect Xmas thus ;
“It’s all about the food! Full on turkey, all the trimmings, flaming pudding, too much booze and sharing with those you love (aaahhh). Every other year we’re in Aberdeen and then it often snows – perfect. 2008 plans? To keep having fun and to get to Japan!”
And if you’ve ever wondered what Charlotte Hatherley gets up to at Christmas….apart from causing a near nationwide stampede at job centres in the rush to fill out those Santa Claus job application forms…..
Charlotte :” Every year I try to go to Sydney for Xmas where most of my family live (lucky bastards). I have Xmas on the beach drinking beer in the sweltering heat thinking how great it is to get out of London.”
Toby from The Duke Spirit will be full of Xmas Spirit and indeed possibly spirits !
“My parents live on the Isle Of Wight, so I like going to visit them for Xmas day. It feels like a cool adventure getting the train and boat down there. I’m a big Xmas fan. I love the excuse to cook huge meals, more food than you can eat, and drink for 3 days without feeling like an alcoholic. I like the suppressed childish excitement you can see in peoples eyes too. It’s a good time of year. 2008 The Duke Spirit start spreading their wings once again.–My hope for 2008 ?- to reap the rewards of 2007. It’s been a hard year but things can only get better.”
“Just Like Christmas” By Low
For Screaming Ballerina’s vocalist Laura Trouble its all about animal welfare, champagne and big eared farm boys !
“What I like about Xmas is lots of presents please. Christmas is good because i get to go home and see my beloved dogs (April and Ulie) (RIP Rosie and Scampy and Sooty) and cats (George and Oscar )and its the only time of year where my lunatic family get to be all together in a big ball off tinsel and fuzz and love. Watching Dad’s Army (“WHAT IS YOUR NAME , BOY? ….’Dont tell him Pike! ‘”….) and Black Adder “YOU SHOT MY SPECKLED JIM! “) is good . Throwing wrapping paper at the TV while my gran sleeps through the queens speech is bad. Going to the farm near my dads house to drink with all the inbred big eared locals and having to leave when some member of my family insults someone unintentionally- is bad but hilarious so its good. Getting over excited at 9 am and drinking so much champagne that i peak to soon and need a cat nap at 1pm – is bad. Eating a bloody nice xmas dinner – is good. Eating too much bloody nice xmas dinner – is bad and extremely uncomfortable. Listening to lots of music and wearing your slippers all day – is very good indeed. Fairy lights are the best invention in the world, so thats good, because they are EVERYWHERE . The apocaliptic blood bath that is 10 million turkeys getting slaughtered in the most in-humane way possible in an extremely short space of time – is very very bad.And makes me sad inside. But over all I do love Christmas, its a time for loving and giving and skipping and swaying and glowing and eating and shitting and singing and that my friends is a good thing.”
My fave xmas songs are
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sinatra
2. Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade
3 . “I Hope You All Die You Blood Hungry Carnivorous Christian Bastards”
– Laura Trouble (that’s a joke)
“What do I like best about Christmas?. Going home to my Mum and Dad’s and spending time with family and friends mainly. That’s the big bit! Then, singing Christmas carols, Christmas stockings full of bits you’ll find throughout the year that take you right back to Christmas, Christmas morning with “The Philadelphia Story” and Christmas evening eating too much chocolate! and the songs;
“Fairy Tale Of New York” The Pogues
“Oh Holy Night ”
And anything christmassy by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin!”
“What Christmas means to me….
-24 hour marathons of “A Christmas Story”
-Avoiding the malls at all cost (shopping online)
-Spending time with loved ones
-Mastering the art of regifting”
Favorite Christmas tunes….
Skating (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Let It Snow
Nutcracker- Op. 71: No. 2 March
“The Christmas Song” By The Raveonettes
Mr Von Pip, who having a birthday on Xmas Eve is rather fond of the festive season…” There are toooooo many great Xmas songs to mention , but here’s my top 10
1. Fairytale Of New York- the Pogues and Kirsty McColl
2. Merry Xmas From The Family – Jill Souble
3. It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas – Halfman Half Biscuit
4. Just Like Xmas – Low
5. Christmas Lullaby -Shane Mac Gowan
6. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
7. Donner And Blitzen – Badly Drawn Boy
8. Frosty The Snowman -The Cocteau Twins
9. All Alone On Christmas-Darlene Love
10. Same Old Christmas-Hilary Duff (!!)
And then theres the carols “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” “Silent Night” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”
And to this years festive releases:- as well as The Rumour Mills Christmas Charity Album mentioned by Miki which you can get HERE on I-tunes and Asobi Seksu’s single, there’s also Lucky Souls “Lips Are Unhappy” backed by an exclusive festive cover of “Lonely This Christmas” (all profits go to the War Child charity). Buy it here its only £0.40p !”
For films,well Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without “It’s A Wonderful Life” it is possibly my favourite film ever. Not only is it thoughtful, emotive, magical and Christmassy…it’s possibly the most subversive film ever made. George Bailey is on the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, and gets a chance to see what the world would be like if he’d never been born.”Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.” It appeals to me on every level, its humanity , its politics, it’s message, it really is so uplifting, people can make a difference, the little guy does matter! The good will out! The performance of Jimmy Stewart is incredible and it makes me cry-everytime! A perfect film! (sniffle)
“All Alone On Christmas” By Darlene Love
“Merry Christmas From The Family” By Jill Souble
Dogwood , who surely will one day be delivering the Christmas message to the nation, has this to say about the festive season :
“Hello Dogwood here, Settle down….
I don’t think Christmas has been Christmas since Andy Williams was forcibly removed from the schedules by the likes of Grade the Younger. Thank you Michael Grade, for reducing Christmas Day to an unceasing conveyor belt of Eastender ‘your gonna get yours’ storylines featuring nervous breakdowns, petty revenge, petty larceny, grand larceny, gay vengeance, straight vengeance, children coming out of the woodwork to unwitting parents, parents coming out of the closet to unwitting children – processed misery for the masses. Orwell would be proud. I’d like to sit down with my snowball and unshelled nuts and watch the afore-mentioned Williams or Como gad about in a sleigh against a filmed background of Aspen or some such place with a load of dolly birds in scanty Santa suits and white teeth. I can’t do that now because some idiot down at health and safety has decided that unshelled Brazil nuts represent too much of a litigation risk with the flying shell shrapnel that occurs when one applies their nutcracker.Back in Preston when I was a lad, Christmas would begin when Ma Dogwood would skin the tripe and allow us to mix the rendering pot whilst singing Industrial Revolution carols. My Dad, fresh from his Chartist meeting, would mix up a gin punch and serve them in a custard jug as we didn’t have any glassware. I would swig mine from a jam jar. Santa Claus would bring a variety of treats including a Satsuma, a root vegetable, a tin of pilchards, half a pound of cough candies, a box of matches and some woodbines. One year I got a scale size Anthony Eden whittled from driftwood. I still have him and he sits on top of my 4’ tinsel tree that I’ve had since 1968. Ipodman? I wouldn’t have known where to start lad.
As for my favourite Christmas songs, well: Perry Como and Angie Dickinson – The twelve foods of Christmas. It starts off with ‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a de-licious chocolate éclair and climaxes with ’12 Artic rolls, 11 Jaffa Cakes, 10 Swiss Rolls, 9 Wagon Wheels, 8 Mince Pies, 7 Iceland Bannofee Kebabs, 6 Lidl Lincoln biccies, 5 Crepe Suzettes, 4 Crunchie Bars,3 Selection Boxes, 2 Tins of Roses and a de-licious chocolate eclair’
The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forget – Vera Lynn. This always reduces me to tears as I WAS that boy in 1952.
Perry Como – ‘A Christmas Dream’ from The Odessa File. I admire Jon Voight immensely.
1 “Poetry For The Winter” By Komon (free download here)
2 As Above
3 As Above
4. Little Saint Nick By The Beach Boys ( or is it Hanson?)
5 Mary’s Boy Child (?) Boney M
BOBBY: ” I think my two favourite artists at the moment are Boney M and Komon (god knows what that says about the direction for the next Pips album..!) ” (Pipettes in Boney M- direction shocker!!? 3 female singers and a dude called Bobby ???!!!;)-VP)
“Mary’s Boy Child” By Boney M
For Marcella Puppini its “all-a about-a da family, capiche?”
For me, Christmas is all about going back to Italy and spending time with my extended family. We are really lucky as we all get on really well, and even my parents, who’ve been divorced for 20 years, get together during the holidays for family dinners. Our Christmas lunch is an absurdly lavish affair: the silver cutlery and embroidered table cloth come out, and we have about 6 or 7 courses, of which the main one is a whole rosted leg of pork. Every year we hope for snow, but these days it doesn’t snow until the new year. When I was a kid we sometimes would get snowed in for a couple of days and read by the fireplace. I loved that. The Christmas song that we listen to every year is an italian one called “Un Natale da buttare via” – a Christmas to forget. It’s a really tragic song about being dumped on Christmas day and it has always appealed to my melodramatic side. And there’s another song that my father requests every year, which me and my sister have been singing since we were about 7. It’s another Italian one, and my dad makes us sing it from the garden as it’s about the baby Jesus being cold on Christmas day. Us Italians do love a bit of drama!!! That one always makes us giggle.It’s a wonderful life is also a staple, which we usually watch on Boxing day.
“This Christmas I’ll be listening to the soundtrack of The Ghosts Of Oxford Street. I’ve had a cassette copy for years and finally managed to track down a CD of it earlier in the year. The Ghosts Of Oxford Street was a made for TV film/musical presented and written by Malcolm Mclaren about the history of Oxford Street. It features music by a whole array of peeps like Tom Jones, Kirsty MacColl, and true to form a pretty bad stab at a Stock, Aitken and Waterman techno style track by McLaren himself. To my knowledge it only aired once, in 1991. And its a great shame that it isn’t shown each and every Xmas as it would make a pleasant change from The Snowman.
The Ghosts Of Oxford Street (Sinead O Connor-Silent Night)
The final word however, with regard to the meaning of Christmas, I`ll leave to Eric Matthews who has been producing astonishing and innovative music for many years on the Sub Pop label and has worked with Tahiti 80, The Dandy Warhols, Ivy, Man of the Year, Elliott Smith, Paula Kelley, Pugwash, Volovan, and Bug 2000. 2007 has seen Eric as industrious as ever, which included working with Miki Berenyi and Christopher Sienk on the Seinking Ships album, due for relase next year .
“To me Christmas is a two fold thing. It is both a bizarre time where we I get all jazzed about spending stupid money on those closest to me and getting cool presents. But it is also an intensification of the general message of my religion. I think of Christ 300 days a year anyway but in this time it becomes more intense somehow. I surround myself in His glory and it really helps get me through.
3 songs: Christmastime Is Here, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and (from the hymnal) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
Movies: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ben Hur, Groundhog’s Day, and Jesus Of Nazareth.”
Quote Of The Year
Monster Bobby after a recent Pipettes gig in NYC discussing Mr Von Pips dancing!
(Courtesy Of Dave Cromwell)
“Christmas Lullabye” By Shane MacGowan
Happy Xmas , we’ll leave you with a special Christmas verse, from Neal Zetter
“When The Music Ran Out”
I had a horrid nightmare about
On Christmas eve the music ran out
The radio had no sound
There was silence all around
The magic that made the melody
Was just a distant memory
A buried treasure underground
Lost and never to be found
When the music ran out
iPods were idle
CDs ceased – all blank
The notes were all stolen
From the musical bank
Concert halls stood empty
Discos deserted and dead
No more songs left to write
Or to stick in people’s heads
So they read
When the music ran out
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Were consigned to history
F-sharp, A-minor, B-flat too
All unemployed with nothing to do
Standing in a long dole queue
On that day
When there were no tunes left to play
They packed the instruments away
Coloured rainbows turned to grey
Rappers were wrecked
DJs in disarray
Buskers broken in dismay
Andy Von Pip said “I’m anything but ok”
When the music ran out
Whistlers couldn’t whistle
Dancers couldn’t dance
Hummingbirds that tried to hum
Didn’t have a chance…
But on Christmas morning I woke up from my dream
I could feel my heart beat
I began to tap my feet
I switched on my MP3
The best possible presents were waiting there for me
My ears enthralled in ecstasy
Screaming Ballerinas, Wedding Present, Clash and the Pipettes
Hot Puppies, Operator Please, Pulp, the Raveonettes
Long Blondes, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Charlotte Hatherley
Ladytron, Duke Spirit, Smiths and Morrissey,
Left me without a doubt
That there will NEVER be a day
(I’m sooooooo relieved to say)
When the music runs out
HAPPY CHRISTMAS-“It’s A Wonderful Life”
Festive Greetings !
“Everthing’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” By Eels
The Duke Spirit have been compared to many great bands , Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, The Velvet Underground etc and such juxtaposition’s are clearly well founded, as the Duke Spirit are truly an incredible band, a veritable force of nature who know their musical history and how know how to rock and rock hard! Initially a three piece rather uninspiringly named “Solomon,”they evolved into to a quintet, consisting of Liela Moss, Luke Ford, Toby Butler, Dan Higgins and Olly Betts. They then gave careful consideration to the wisdom of Solomon being a suitable moniker for a self respecting rock band and after some cogitation became the primal, thundering, crashing, fragile, beauteous, cool as f**k entity that we now know and love as The Duke Spirit . At the outset their incendiary brand of rock n’ roll led to a huge word of mouth buzz due in no small part to their amazing performances, for those who had witnessed the power of The Duke live, where quite simply blown away …. Following the release of their debut album “Cuts Across The Land” in the US , they took on a grueling tour schedule, which may have sent lesser mortals completely barkingly howling at the moon, underpants on head stir crazy bonkers and which included a show stopping turn at the 2006 Coachella festival. This year the band have toured on a slightly saner scale and have been recording their second album “Neptune” with Queens Of the Stone Age and Melissa Auf Der Maur producer Chris Goss. The Duke Spirit are quite simply one of the coolest bands on the planet and 2008 will be their year, of that, there cannot be any doubt…
Toby Butler had a chat about music life and going crazy on the road
VP: Although you’ve been performing beforehand is it safe to say that The Duke Spirit came into being in 2003 ? Where did the name come from ? And what was your initial thoughts on what the band should be about?
TB : Yes, Luke, Liela and myself have been writing and playing together since about 1999. We put The Duke Spirit together in 2003 when the band we had before split and a moment of clarity presented itself to us. I guess when something you’re putting all your energy into comes to an end, you naturally re-evaluate your situation. We decided that we actually wanted to write and play rock and roll in it’s most pure and exciting state. We just listened to loads of our record collection and soaked it all up. The name was an accident really. The label were pressing up our first 7″ and we hadn’t decided on a name yet. We were at Simon Raymonde’s office (who was producing our first e.p. with us) and we found it in one of his books. It sounded like a gang or an attitude.
VP: After your debut was released in the US in 2006 you appeared to spend much of the year “on the road” there. Many bands talk about touring the U.S being a test of endurance. due to the sheer scale of the place . Was there ever a time it got a little crazy or you thought you were “losing it”
TB: The album can out in the UK in may 2005, but didn’t get released in the US until march 2006, so our touring schedule was really drawn out. The US is a vast place to tour, mainly because of the distance between each city. So somedays, we’d play a show, leave straight after playing so that we could get 4 or 5 hours driving in. Then sleep for 5 or 6 hours and get up and drive another 9 or 10 hours just to get to the next city in time. That can get pretty exhausting after 4 months. Plus we all like to drink, so your mind does start to suffer after a while, yes. We were falling out with our record label too at the time, so our morale was taking a bashing. It’s a cliche, but we knew if we could survive it then it’d make us stronger…… and we collectively feel pretty tough at the moment!
VP: You have been recording your new album”Neptune” with QOTSA Producer Chris Goss at RDLL in Joshua Tree, and have just released the excellent “Ex Voto Ep” as a taster to precede the album- as well as touring through November-. when will “Neptune” finally surface ?
TB: Neptune will surface at the start of February ’08 (only 2 months away now)! We spent 2 months out in Joshua Tree in the Joshua Tree recording with Chris Goss in Dave Catching’s studio ‘Rancho De La Luna.’ The area, as well as the studio, has an amazing feel to it. The vastness of the sky and the surroundings infuses itself into the whole recording process. Everything had to sound huge, or heavy, or delicate.
VP: What would you say have been the highlights over the past couple of years ?
TB: Recording the album in Joshua Tree was definitely an experience that will stay with us all. We played the Coachella festival in California last year, which i managed to do with a broken elbow. So that was pretty memorable! I think doing a headline show at the Astoria in London when the album came out was my favourite highlight. It seemed to creep up on us, and suddenly we were there playing to a huge crowd in our local venue where we’ve seen so many gigs ourselves. It was pretty surreal and exciting.
VP: Critics have compared you to everything from Nico and the Velvets through to My Bloody Valentine and PJ Harvey but who would you say are your major musical influences ?
TB: We obviously love all those people. It’s a little strange sometimes, because as fans it feels a bit odd being compared to ‘the greats.’ Like they’re putting too much praise on us….. or saying we’re completely unoriginal! I guess those comparisons are just meant to help people who haven’t heard of us know what genre we lay in.
I find it weird to talk about influences, as when I’m writing I tend not to listen to anything at all. Otherwise I find myself ripping songs off, consciously and subconsciously. We use more wide terms when writing and recording, like “make it sound like Ron Ashton” or “do the Shangri-Las thing.” We listen to a lot of old rock and roll, The Stooges, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, Gene Vincent, Nuggets box-sets, old soul like Candi Staton, Erma Thomas, Eddie Floyd, more recent stuff like Spiritualised, JAMC, QOTSA. There’s a new band called The Rascals I really like.
VP: What do you make of the current music scene in the UK
TB: It’s been pretty stagnant for a while now. I’m sick of hearing post-libertines bands, with the exception of a few, like The Arctic Monkeys who are clearly a great band. I’m slowly hearing some good new bands now though, so maybe things are changing. I like The Rascals, Future Of The Left, Creepy Morons.
VP: The Internet and music ? Has it helped or hindered.
VP: So you’ve worked with UNKLE, Chris Goss and The Jesus & Mary Chain , whose next ? Anybody else you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
TB: We’ve just got Teenage Fanclub singer Gerry Love to duet on a song, which was some thing Liela had wanted to do for a long time, they are heroes of hers. It’d be cool to do something with Bjork. I’d love to get Mark Lanegan to sing a song with us.
VP: The Spice Girls Reunion , a sign of the Apocalypse or harmless entertainment for some cash strapped old dears ?
TB : Harmless pop fun. I prefer Girls Aloud though.
VP: Five words to sum up Leila’s reaction to being asked to sing “Just Like Honey ” live with the Mary Chain….?
Yes sometimes nice people send us music, sometimes we “randomly” discover it ..
So whats on the VPME I-pod this month ? (in no particular order)
Operator Please– “Get What You Want”
Pure incendiary, deep down and dirty rock n roll – This is where its at ! A classic. This is a band who really should be as enormous as John Prescott’s waistline. Ripper, as they say in Oz.
The Pipettes –“Your Love For Me” (a new song from the Japanese Import Of “We Are The Pipettes”) sounds a little bit like what The Sundays may have produced if they’d have adopted a 60’s girl group vibe, and stopped moping around (and had three Harriets)-which is a good thing! Hurrah!
Millburn –“Wolves At the Door”
Somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, Sean Bean and Reverend And The Makers, there is Millburn, I can’t pretend I don’t like it, so i wont, I like it!
Róisín Murphy–“Dear Miami “
Ah Ms Murphy is back with a lovely slice of Electro/Disco/Funk, cooler than a chriogenically preserved James Dean, in an ice cream parlour, with the door left open, in Alaska, in January….
The Phantom Lovers-“Heroes And Idols”
This is their first single apparently, due out at the end of the November. A dark menacing gothicy vibe, with a layered sound that swirls around like the presage to some great foreboding revelation …she’s got a great voice and repeated plays really make this track grow on you. But is it bland enough to get radio play ? No, it’s far more interesting and therefore will probably get no airplay…
The Blue Smarties – “I Feel Like Ian Beale”
Anyone remember these little pop pixies ? The Pipettes should cover this lost classic about the unluckiest man in Albert Square. Mind you he was and continues to be, a Tw*t !
The Hot Puppies – “Clarinet Town”
This band just get better and better , from the forthcoming “Blue Hands” album- which I’m very much looking forward to. I just wish their gigs where easier to attend 😉
Siouxsie– “Here Come That Day”
Blimey ! No it’s not about Darren Days ex’s waiting to beat up the philandering little shit, it’s a storming return to form from the High Priestess of Punk, the best shes done for many moons, this time she remembers that sometimes songs can sound better with a tune-Great Stuff !
Screaming Ballerinas –“Jessica” (demo)
They can argue all they like, but this is a song Blondie would have been proud of, more hooks than Peter Pans nemesis and a fantastic vocal, hard to believe the tracks on here are essentially demos -Amazing!
The Bordellos –“Blank Letter”(bass version)
What would have happened if The Jesus & Mary Chain’s Reid brothers had let Bobby Gillespie sing and not bullied him into playing the drums ?-Possibly this, its raw, and conjures up the bedroom sleaze of early JAMC demos. From The Album “Meet the Bordellos” which contains the frankly disturbing ” These Boots Are Made for Stalking” ….
Babyshambles–“French Dog Blues” – Oh dear, I almost thought this was going to be good, the melody strains to escape, almost succeeds and then Pete says “Chien bleu” and thus ruins the whole song, as he sounds a complete cock, he’s no Serge Gainsbourg that’s for sure… And what the F*ck does ” I model lacklustre panicky in vain search for the remedy, No words only melody come, so I take the day off “????- What a load of pretentious half baked w*nk in a Tupperware box ! If that’s what’s considered by many to be modern day poetry then my name’s TS Elliot. Rhyming panicky with remedy is almost in the same class as when the world of pop bowed down to the genius of Billy Ray Cyrus when he rhymed “achy” with breaky ” -time itself was almost torn asunder and Stephen Hawking’s head exploded, due the complexity of such a rhyme ….I was indeed humbled…….Anyway the guitars aren’t bad, problem is, just as it promises to deliver it becomes all limp, flaccid and ultimately deeply unsatisfying, rather like bad sex….
The Real Tuesday Weld – “Last Words“- Now this is good, imagine if Paddy McAloon and the ghost of Billy McKenzie sang lyrics penned by Jarvis Cocker – in Tin Pan Alley……It’s up on myspace for a free download too. I see there’s a penchant for pencil thin taches too 😉
The Duke Spirit-“Lassoo” (from the Ex Voto EP) . Magnificent, rollicking, epic sounding slice of blood and guts rock n roll . Its sheer quality transcends genre and in time it should rightly be regarded as a classic. Everybody should buy it !