Come on Let’s Go: Trish Keenan R.I.P.


I remember going into Other Music one day in 1997 and being instantly bewitched with the sounds of harpsichord, strings, a locked-down groove and, especially, the singer's distant, chilly vocals. It was Broadcast's "The Book Lovers" and I pretty much fell for the band right there, picking up their singles comp, Work and Non Work, on the spot.

It would be almost three years before we heard from them again, to the point where I almost forgot they were still around. But they were hard at work on their debut album, The Noise Made By People, released in 2000 which pretty much floored everyone who heard it. Adding subtle electronics to the mix (they were on Warp, after all), there was just something perfect about Broadcast's retro-futurism that managed to be both detached and inviting. "Come on Let's Go" was one of the year's best singles.

Trish Keenan's icy coo was instrumental to Broadcast's appeal, and it was with great shock and sadness to hear she had died this morning from complications with pneumonia which she contracted after getting the H1N1 flu in December. Broadcast were one of the best bands of the last 15 years, no question, restlessly creative. If you don't own The Noise Made By People, Haha Sound and Tender Buttons, your record collection is not complete. (You should also pick up b-sides comp The Future Crayon too.) I'd like to think if there is an afterlife, Broadcast would be playing in the lobby. She will truly be missed.

Here's a rarity, the amazing Two Lone Swordsmen remix of 2000's finest song, which was originally released in 1999 as the b-side of vinyl-only single "Drums on Fire":

MP3: Broadcast – Come On Let's Go (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix) 

Life Moves Pretty Fast: John Hughes R.I.P.

Ferris_Buellers_Day_Off_037The_Breakfast_Club_273Sixteen_Candles_134John Hughes died of a heart attack today while on a morning walk in Manhattan. He was 59. As someone who grew up in the ”80s, his films are pretty much ingrained in my teenage memories. I’ve seen Sixteen Candles more times than any other film (probably upwards of 100), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off isn’t far behind that. He directed less than you may remember  — though he wrote the scripts for Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, they were both helmed by journeyman Howard Deutch — and hadn’t been behind the camera since 1991’s forgettable Curly Sue., After mega-success writing Beethoven and Home Alone, he mainly scripted a lot of shmaltzy kid movies (dare I even bring up Baby’s Day Out?) when not working as a script doctor. And the last ten years, he’s been mainly known as a recluse. (Sound familiar?)

But Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (and Planes, Trains & Automobiles) are among the most quotable movies of the ’80s. 
As much as the lines of dialogue remain in my repertoire, John Hughes movies shaped my musical taste. Not just the soundtracks. I remember tracking down Cabaret Voltaire because Ferris had a poster of them in his room, and similarly I bought Easterhouse’s Contenders after seeing a poster for it in Eric Stoltz’s room in Some Kind of Wonderful.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off soundtrack struck a chord partly because they never released a soundtrack for it — though they were originally going to. If you watch the credits of the film, it says “Soundtrack available from Hughes Music/MCA.” I can’t tell you how many times I went to the mall record store in the summer and fall of 1986 asking about the soundtrack. I finally gave up and decided I’d compile my own. Songs like “Twist and Shout” and “Danke Shoen,” or even Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11” and Yello’s “Oh Yeah” weren’t to hard to track down, but the but bulk of music used was on the rare side. “March of the Swivelheads,” the instrumental version of the English Beat’s “Rotating Head,” was only ever released as the b-side to the “Too Nice to Talk To” 12.” Similarly, the Dream Academy’s vocal version of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” was findable, but no so much the instrumental version used in the film. And then there was The Flowerpot Men’s “Beat City” and Blue Room’s “I’m Afraid,” which were recorded specifically for the film and were only ever released as opposite sides of a 7″ distributed solely to members of the John Hughes fan club. I was not a member.

Blueroom Any time I went into a record store, I would seek these out, and I found almost all of them but those Flowerpot Men and Blue Room songs eluded me. I think the Flowerpot Men’s (not the ’60s group of the same name) only official release was a Peel Session, and Blue Room’s only other released song was on the
Pretty in Pink soundtrack. But then in 1999, Napster happened and I thought “hmm, maybe I can find them there” and 20 seconds later my 13-year quest to complete the Ferris Bueller soundtrack was done. At the time I thought, “now what?”

I always figured Rhino or Shout Factory would do a soundtrack I always meant to do a post on this, and certainly now seems like the time. I’ve since acquired that John Hughes Fanclub 7″ (thanks, Erich!) but have never found a real copy of the Dream Academy “Please Please Please” instrumental. But I did get an mp3, so here are all the “rare” songs from Ferris Bueller OST. You can dig up the Beatles, Yello and Wayne Newton on your own.

MP3: The Flowerpot Men – Beat City

MP3: Blue Room – I’m Afraid

MP3: The Dream Academy – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (Instrumental)

MP3: General Public – Taking the Day Off

MP3: The (English) Beat – March of the Swivelheads

And a Sixteen Candles bonus MP3: The Thompson Twins – If You Were Here 

We’ll miss you, John. If there’s a heaven, I bet it looks like Shermer, Illinois.


Life is Short: R.I.P. Lux Interior


My current obsession with reverby garage rock can be traced back to my love of those early Cramps albums on I.R.S., especially the Off the Bone compilation which in some ways I think is all you really need to own. Here’s a couple choice cuts:

MP3: The Cramps – New Kind Of Kick

MP3: The Cramps – Garbageman

Buy some Cramps.

The Cramps’ goth look only seemed silly till you saw them live: Lux Interior was one of the scariest mofos in rock. The version of “Tear it Up” from URGH! A Music War is the quintessential Cramps performance. Totally amazing, though I always felt sorry for the person who had to use the microphone after him:

We’ll miss ya, Lux.

Be Seeing You

I was never a Prisoner obsessive (though I've always wanted to visit the Hotel Portmeirion), but I always thought Patrick McGoohan was one of the cool ones. He was always great guest star on Columbo, too, for which he won two Emmys. He was 80.

If you're never seen The Prisoner, one of the great mindf*%$s ever made, you can watch the entire series (all 17 episodes) online at AMC TV's website. As you may have heard, AMC is remaking the series and will air this year. Before you start booing and hissing, they've got a good track record with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and it stars Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellan… maybe they won't screw it up entirely.

MP3The Times – I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape


Jerry Reed, We Hardly Knew Ye

Jerry Reed
, who died yesterday at a young age of 71, was best known for playing the Snowman in the Smokey and the Bandit films. (He was even the Bandit in the regrettable third film, that Burt Reynolds only cameo'd in, and an ailing Jackie Gleason's dialogue was entirely dubbed by Mel Blanc.) But I have very fonder memories of Reed's many appearances on Hee Haw, and even more his role in the 1979 comedy Hot Stuff, where he played a Miami police detective who goes undercover (along with Suzanne Pleshette, The Electric Company's Luis Avalos, and director Dom Deluise) to bust the cities many fencers and thieves.

It was lighthearted and corny and features a scene of a stoned Dom Leluise laughing for what seems like 10 minutes. There's also veteran comic Pat McCormick doing a seemingly improvised routine involving tangerines. HBO used to show this every other day in the early '80s and I'm pretty sure I saw it about 30 times between '82 and '85. I haven't seen it in at least 15 years, apart from the first five minutes which are on YouTube (including his country-soul themesong). Not on DVD, dammit! I'll miss ya, Jerry:

Lights! Camel! Action!

Heston_ripI’m off my game. Hammy, gun-loving actor Charlton Heston died a week ago and this fitting tribute only hit me now.

Stump were one of the stranger bands signed to a major label in the late-’80s.  Lumped in the with the C86 scene (they were on the cassette), this quartet from Cork, Ireland had more in common with Captain Beefheart than anything else. We played a lot of kooky stuff at my college radio but I remember Stump’s album, A Fierce Pancake, as one of the most hated records in rotation at the time. (Absolutely most hated during my tenure was Get Out of School by pre-tween punks Old Skull.) And that time was dominated by R.E.M., the Replacements, Morrissey, the Mighty Lemon Drops, Love & Rockets, etc.

But I always kind of liked it. Not the whole thing, mainly two songs. The first was "Buffalo," their UK indie chart "hit" that was on the C86 cassette and then rerecorded twice (on their EP Quirk, then for the album) in hopes of a bonafide hit. The song’s chorus was frontman Mick Lynch shouting "How much is the fish! How much is the chips! How much is the fish! Does the fish have chips!" It was the 80s. Anything seemed possible.

The other song was an ode to the making of The Ten Commandments that featured sampled frogs as the main percussive element. It also rhymed "Charlton Heston" with "put his vest on" which I thought was totally brilliant. The video, directed by Tim Pope and featuring 1000 live frogs, was pretty good too:

MP3: Stump – Charlton Heston

MP3: Stump – Buffalo

Weirdly, while doing some research for this post, I learned that A Fierce Pancake has just been reissued as a three-disc deluxe edition, including their first two EPs (never before on CD) and a bunch of tracks recorded for Pancake‘s follow-up that never happened.

I’m by no means an expert on Stump, though I figure I’m one of about 100 people in America who owns original A Fierce Pancake CD. If you’re interested in learning more, bassist Kev Hopper’s website has an informative and entertaining biography of the band full of the sad and rediculous stuff labels do to bands in an attempt to score a hit.

As for Chuck Heston, the Onion really said it best.

AdiĆ³s Matamoros

Matamoros_sopes1After 18 months of having a For Sale sign in their window, looks like Matamoros Puebla Grocery has finally given up the ghost. I headed there yesterday for some lunch and they were gutting the place. I was gutted too. They might’ve been merely renovating, I couldn’t bring myself to inquire, but I’m guessing not. The shutters were down when I walked by around 11am this morning.

Matamoros was one of the few places on Bedford that was still around from when I first moved to Williamsburg ten years ago. It was there that I first had "authentic" Mexican food and it’s cheap and delicious tacos, sopes and tortas got me through some lean years and continued to eat there probably twice a week. It was also my source for perfect avocados, crema, cotija cheese, dried chiles and bizarre tamarind candy. Mostly I will miss their amazing sopes, pictured above. I’ve had better tacos elsewhere in the city, but nobody did sopes as good as Matamoros. I am very sad.

So it Goes: Tony Wilson R.I.P.

Too many of these lately. Tony Wilson was a know-it-all prat but that certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t respect him. The way he ran Factory records — split the money 50/50 with the band, artist freedom, amazing sleeves, etc — didn’t make him much money but it came from the right place and even when his tastes were questionable (there was a lot of crap on Factory) you could never say he wasn’t passionate about all of his bands and music in general. Can you be a total genius and a total knob? Tony Wilson was living proof.

The Guardian has many tributes, from the likes of Paul Morley, Alan McGee and more.

Here’s a two-part memoriam the BBC aired last night, including interviews with New Order’s Steven Morris and legendary sleeve designer Peter Saville:

Factory Records output was spotty at best, with about four truly great bands (two of which were pretty much the same band), many bands with one or two great singles, and a lot of other groups that sounded exactly like their moneymakers. Here are a few of them whose names aren’t Joy Division, New Order or Happy Mondays. I’m not saying it’s all good…

MP3: The Durutti Column – Sketch for Summer (from Return of the Durutti Column [FAC 14])

MP3: Tunnelvision – Watching the Hydroplanes (FAC 39)

MP3: A Certain Ratio – Knife Slits Water
(FAC 62)

MP3: Section 25 – Looking from a Hilltop
(FAC 108)

MP3: Shark Vegas – You Hurt Me
(FAC 111; MySpace download, sorry about the quality)

MP3: The Wake – Of the Matter
(FAC 113)

MP3: Abecedarians – Smiling Monarchs
(FAC 117)

MP3: Quando Quango – Genius
(FAC 137)

MP3: The Railway Children – Brighter
(FAC 167)

MP3: Miaow – When it All Comes Down
(FAC 179)

MP3: The Wendys – Pulling My Fingers Off
(FAC 297)

MP3: The Northside – Take 5
(FAC 308)

MP3: The Adventure Babies – Camper Van
(FAC 319; Factory’s last signing before going belly-up)

The ultimate tribute to Anthony H. Wilson’s genius and knobbery is Michael Winterbottom’s fantastic 24 Hour Party People, featuring a brilliant performance by Steve Coogan as the man himself. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and remedy that soon.

My one run-in with Mr. Wilson was during a week he agreed to fill in for BBC 6 presenter Andrew Collins weekday show, Tea Time. He was talking about the current state of metal, and I emailed in to say that I’d much rather listen to the Darkness than Alien Ant Farm or System of a Down any day. He read my message on air and then ripped me apart for a good minute, going into an impassioned campaign about how System of a Down were one of the best bands around and that I was a total philistine to say otherwise. I felt about this small at the time, though I’d still rather listen to the Darkness, but to have Tony Wilson eviscerate me on-air was kind of a thrill.

Sooner or Later We All Make the Little Flowers Grow

Lee Hazelwood
lost his battle with renal cancer yesterday at age ’78. An amazing songwriter with an unforgettable baritone, he was ’60s icon and an extremely cool cat. Idolator has a nice obituary, as does the BBC.

He was best known for working with Nancy Sinatra, writing her biggest hit "These Boots are Made for Walkin’," as well as psychedelic classic "Some Velvet Morning" that has been covered countless times by indie/alternative bands over the last 20 years. (Slowdive’s version is particularly good.) But my favorite Nancy & Lee song is "Summer Wine," with its wistful, spooky string section.

MP3: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood – Summer Wine (from 1968’s Nancy & Lee)

And here’s a fitting song from Lee’s 1963 solo debut, a cowboy storyteller album called Trouble is a Lonesome Town:

MP3: Lee Hazelwood – We All Make the Flowers Grow

Stephen Jones (aka Babybird) covered "We All Make the Flowers Grow" on 2002’s Total Lee: the Songs of Lee Hazelwood, one of the more listenable tribute albums of recent years. I like his version, which samples Hazelwood’s original spoken intro, just as much.

MP3: Stephen "Babybird" Jones – We All Make the Flowers Grow

And that fantastic version of "Some Velvet Morning" by Slowdive:

MP3: Slowdive – Some Velvet Morning
(from their 1994 masterwork, Souvlaki)

Youtube clips are somewhat disappointing. Weirdly, I had to go to MySpace to find the clip of Nancy and Lee on horseback singing "Some Velvet Morning" from Nancy Sinatra’s 1968 NBC special, Movin’ with Nancy. But here it is:

However, YouTube does have most of the clips from Lee’s Swedish television special, Cowboy in Sweden (based on his album of the same name), which isn’t quite as good as the title might imply. But "No Train to Stockholm" is pretty great:

There’s also most of his other Swedish TV special, Love and Other Crimes. which is more of a standard TV variety hour. They really liked him over there. We like him here. RIP, Lee.