Random jukebox – Laurie Mayer

A very chilled out selection this week, from Laurie Mayer‘s lovely 2006 album Black Lining, here’s Jagged Rain:

The Assembly – Never Never

After a few stormy years with Depeche Mode and YazooVince Clarke‘s third attempt at a group was The Assembly, formed with Yazoo‘s producer (and provider of the first album title) Eric Radcliffe. It was a short-lived project, which supposedly was intended to consist of collaborations with multiple vocalists, but after the follow-up with Paul Quinn failed to break the charts, Clarke moved onto Erasure, and the rest is history.

So the lovely Never Never sadly never made it onto an album. Released thirty-five years ago this week, barely a year and a half after Yazoo had disbanded, it peaked at number four on the UK charts. As a standalone hit, it’s largely forgotten now, but it’s worth remembering from time to time.

It’s a great song, for the first time on a Clarke production featuring some very audible acoustic guitar work, and also including some early pre-echoes of Erasure‘s early work. But the overriding mood here is of Yazoo‘s unfinished business – you can’t help but wonder whether Clarke wrote this intending that Alison Moyet would be delivering the vocal. Instead, it’s Feargal Sharkey who does the honours, and he does a great job.

Side B brings us the brilliantly syncopated instrumental Stop/Start. Again, this would have fitted perfectly on the tail end of Yazoo‘s imaginary third album, and it’s hard to stop thinking about that now, but there’s also a fairly different feel to this track that maybe would prevent it from fitting in quite so well with Upstairs at Eric’s and You and Me Both.

The 12″ version of the single just gives us two extended versions – Never Never gains a long introduction which honestly sounds exceptional, and Stop/Start also gets some extra bits at the front, although they don’t add a huge amount in this instance. They also seem to have left the radio on in the background for the extra part of this recording, for some reason.

It’s a short, compact single, with just two tracks on each format, but you have to wonder slightly what might have happened if an album had followed. Instead, Clarke found peace and sold millions of records as half of Erasure, and Never Never was largely forgotten.

The 1996 CD reissue of Never Never has long since fallen out of print, but you can still find it as a stream or download.

Preview – Yazoo

Yazoo’s story essentially goes something like this:

  • 1982: Upstairs at Eric’s
  • 1983: You and Me Both
  • 1986-1996: CD reissues of singles and albums, and a nice remix of Situation
  • 1999: ropey “best of” compilation, and ropey remixes of Only YouDon’t Go, and Situation
  • 2008: lovely In Your Room CD box set and reunion tour, random remix singles Reconnected EP and Nobody’s Diary
  • 2010: live album
  • 2017: random remix of Only You
  • 2018: interesting looking vinyl box set Four Pieces, also inexplicably available on three CDs

The last thirty-five years have been a bit odd, so hopefully this mess all gets mopped up properly at some point… but for now, this:

Chart for stowaways – 22 September 2018

Here are the latest top singles!

  1. Ladytron – The Island
  2. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  3. Tiefschwarz – Never
  4. The Radiophonic Workshop – Burials in Several Earths
  5. Electribe 101 – Talking with Myself 
  6. Ladytron – The Animals
  7. The Future Sound of London – Collapsed Structures
  8. Tiësto / Dzeko / Preme / Post Malone – Jackie Chan
  9. David Bowie – Zeroes
  10. Keep Shelly In Athens – Our Own Dream – EP

Q Awards 2018

We looked at the nominees for this year’s Q Awards, and then the ceremony took place on 18th October this year! So now we’re in a position to let you know how everybody got on.

Q Breakthrough Act presented by Red Stripe

  • Amyl & The Sniffers
  • Goat Girl
  • Tom Grennan
  • The Magic Gang
  • IDLES
  • Bugzy Malone
  • Nakhane
  • Novelist
  • Nadine Shah
  • Jorja Smith
  • Rejjie Snow

Winner: jointly presented to IDLES and Goat Girl

Q Best Track presented by Firestone

  • Love It If We Made It – The 1975
  • This Is America – Childish Gambino
  • Girlfriend – Christine & The Queens
  • The Man – Goat Girl
  • Make Me Feel – Janelle Monae
  • Bells & Circles – Underworld & Iggy Pop

Winner: Underworld and Iggy Pop

Q Best Album

  • Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys
  • Hunter – Anna Calvi
  • Who Built The Moon? – Noel Gallagher
  • Joy As An Act Of Resistance – IDLES
  • Marauder – Interpol
  • I’m All Ears – Let’s Eat Grandma

Winner: Let’s Eat Grandma

Q Best Live Act presented by The Cavern Club

  • David Byrne
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Liam Gallagher
  • Stefflon Don
  • Taylor Swift
  • Wolf Alice

Winner: Wolf Alice

Q Best Solo Artist presented by Absolute Radio

  • Christine & The Queens
  • Drake
  • Noel Gallagher
  • Janelle Monae
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sophie

Winner: Noel Gallagher

Q Best Act In The World Today presented by Rocksteady Music School

  • The 1975
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • St Vincent
  • Paul Weller

Winner: Paul Weller

Q Best Festival/Event presented by Pretty Green Clothing

  • All Points East
  • British Summertime
  • Isle Of Wight Festival
  • Latitude Festival
  • RIZE Festival
  • Spotify Presents: Who We Be

Winner: Spotify Presents: Who We Be

Innovation in Sound

Winner: The Streets

Classic album

Winner: The Kinks, for The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

Maverick

Winner: Lawrence

Fender Play Award

Winner: Simon Neil

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: Noel Gallagher

Q Legend

Winner: Nile Rodgers

Q Inspiration

Winner: Trojan Records

Q Icon

Winner: Ian McCulloch

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Brett Anderson

Crash Test Dummies – God Shuffled His Feet

Somewhere, a quarter of a century back in history, lie the Crash Test Dummies. You may or may not remember the singer’s deep baritone from the hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm. If not, there’s a little slice of Canadian pop history that you should probably acquaint yourself with.

As it should be, the title track and final single God Shuffled His Feet comes first. It’s a great pop-rock song, with sweet bass work and a strong performance from the backing singers.

It’s immediately apparent from the track titles, and even the name of the band, that Crash Test Dummies have a slightly wicked sense of humour. Second UK single Afternoons and Coffeespoons talks of the steady march towards old age, with a bit of a wry smile. If you don’t get all the references (those of us outside Canada probably don’t), you can still enjoy a fun pop-rock song.

Then it’s the turn of the opening single, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, which appears to be something about miracle faith healers. Whatever the content, it’s another great pop song, and peaked at number two in the UK, hitting the top spot in various countries.

You could perhaps criticise Crash Test Dummies somewhat though, as Brad Roberts has an extremely distinctive voice, which he could easily use to debunk the common trend that always seems to exist in pop music that male singers can only use higher registers. He has, but he seems to have intentionally brought his delivery another octave or so lower, which can make them a bit of a novelty. It’s not too surprising really that their global hits barely lasted beyond this one album.

It’s generally a good album, though – In the Days of the Caveman, and Swimming in Your Ocean are both strong songs in the vein of those two or three hit singles. It’s not until Here I Stand Before Me that the quality really drops – how nobody could have spotted that this is essentially a bizarre medley of Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm and Afternoons and Coffeespoons is difficult to fathom.

Things do start to look up at the beginning of the second half though – I Think I’ll Disappear Now is good, but you do have to fight the feeling that you’ve heard this all before by this stage. But then there’s some weird production on How Does a Duck Know?, as it features some very uncomfortable panning and mixing – so much so, in fact, that it’s pretty much impossible to notice whether the lyrics are as witty as the title suggests. Honestly, this track is a total mess.

After that, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to turn the whole thing off, but with a bit of effort – When I Go Out with ArtistsThe Psychic, and Two Knights and Maidens, and the untitled final track are all a bit forgettable, to be honest. It’s strange really – this album starts so promisingly, but somewhere, about half way through, it just stops delivering. But it’s worth having for those couple of good songs. Crash Test Dummies may have been just a two or three-hit wonder for most of the world, but it wasn’t too bad while it lasted.

You can still find God Shuffled His Feet from all major retailers.