Saturday, 27 June 2009


This 1997 collection makes for a fine accompaniment to the official album release, featuring many tracks that were recorded for Urban Hymns but failed to make the final cut.

That's not to say this makes for a poor listen: because it doesn't.

To say The Verve were hot in 1997 is a gross understatement; they could have recorded 'Agadoo' at that time and it would no doubt have made for an interesting listen.

But there really are some great tracks here, and they could easily have got an e.p. out of this material.
Perhaps the tension was just too much; and with history repeating itself Ashcroft, McCabe and co had to go their separate ways.

There has always been a bi-polar-like duality evident within The Verve's music - most obvious on the Urban Hymns album - veering from the one extreme: a psychedelic styled, kick-ass, gutsy rock band, to another: a singer-songwriter with accompanying musicians.

That opposition is well represented here, as it is made up pretty much fifty-fifty of Verve tracks and Ashcroft songs; several of which he went on to record as solo projects.

There are several familiar tunes here, including a tasty, crisp, live sounding and untweeked recording of 'Space and Time' for openers.

The psychedelic styled roots of the band's music can certainly be heard on several of the tracks, and are perhaps best captured during these early stages of recording.
Tracks such as the instrumental 'One Before Dinner' and the hooky numbers 'A Little Bit of Love' and 'Come On People (We're Making It Now)' allow the band to really shine, proving what a tight, smart, organised rock band The Verve truly were.

With the extra guitar added to the band's pallet, when The Verve kicked-ass and really got down to it a much fuller and richer sound was produced; McCabe's gorgeous, controlled, swirling feedback always lifting and rising; forcing up the tempo, peaking, and finally crashing forward into a heady rush to the end.

For what this is - a bootleg recording from the master smuggled out of the studio - the quality is exceptionally good, and captures The Verve in the studio in a particularly authentic way.
If you are a fan of the band, and especially a fan of this period, this recording is essential, and for some reason still seems to be in very short supply.

The Verve - Urban Hymns Sessions (1997)

Space and Time
A Song For the Lovers
One Before Dinner
Misty Morning June
Lord I've Been Trying
The Drugs Don't Work
Come On People (We're Making It Now)
The Crab
A Little Bit Of Love
Lord I Guess I'll Never Know
Monte Carlo
Oh Sister
New York
One More For the Lovers
It Takes Two

CD rip to mp3s
Expand your Verve here

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Sunny Delight

What could be better on a summer's afternoon than lazing around in the garden while listening to the Adrian Sherwood instigated jocular dub musings of Dub Syndicate?
It even makes the odd diluvial deluge seem exciting.

More than a compilation album, this Classic Selection includes remixes, imported single releases and ten previously unreleased tracks.

The On-U Sound collective here features Bim Sherman, Style Scott, Errol Holt, Dr. Pablo, Dwight, Skip McDonald and others, all carefully arranged, produced and manipulated by Sherwood, the true master of the knobs.

Some of the tunes may seem familiar, especially if you are a listener to other On-U Sound artists and recordings, such as Bim Sherman or the excellent collaborative album Lee Perry made with Dub Syndicate: Time Boom X De Devil Dead.
But here the tracks are pared right down, emulating the true origins of Jamaican dub music.

Quite remarkable really, considering the majority of On-U Sound's music originated from East London.

Dub Syndicate - Classic Selection, Volume 1 (1989)

J.A. Minor
Night Train
The Show is Coming
Geoffrey Boycott
Man of Mystery
Dr. Who?
Ravi Shankar
Hey Ho
Short Sharp Treatment
Je T'aime
See a Man's Face
Tremolo Dub
Before the Future
Satan Side
Radics 7

CD rip to mp3s, includes artwork
Syndicate yourself here

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Tad More

The presence of Albini is obvious throughout this recording: he's all over it like a rash.
And Tad's sound roars to life as a consequence.

The opening three tracks of this Albini produced mini-LP - the A side of the original vinyl - are to my mind the best tracks Tad recorded.
In fact I'd go further, and say that Salt Lick was one of the best recordings to emerge from the disparate, fracturing grunge scene.

The real stand-out number has to be 'High on the Hog', where we hear about Tad's schooling:

My girl taught me how to drink,My girl taught me how to smoke,My girl of eighteen years
Taught me everything I need to know.


(Hmm, not a Nirvana song then.)

Listening to this really makes me wanna grow my hair well long, just so I can send it arcing round my body in time to these thudding, grinding riffs.

It so brings out the primordial metal-head inside of ya; the one deep down that exists in each and everyone of us... resistance is futile... Aah!... get back you bastard!
Tad - Salt Lick (1990)

Axe to Grind
High on the Hog
Glue Machine

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Release the beast here

Monday, 15 June 2009

Majestic Toast

Had fun in the sun yesterday while listening to this; so thought I'd share it.

Probably The Originator's most accessable album, leaning as much towards rock steady as it does roots music; but U Roy's take on rock steady is by no means conventional.
With his trademark yelps and hollers, an unpredictable tourettic edge was brought to the somewhat narrow genre, brightening it up no end.

The skanking opener to this album really sets the mood, as 'Runaway Girl' is probably one of the most danceable songs ever recorded.

But the real highlight of the album comes from the second track: 'Chalice in the Palace', a wonderful piece of audacity from U Roy, toasting his thoughts on how he'd like to have a smoke with the queen of England:
'Ya Majesty, I really wanna have a toke with you.'

Not too sure how Prince Philip would feel about that...

U Roy - Dread in a Babylon (1975)

Runaway Girl
Chalice in the Palace
I Can't Love Another
Dreadlocks Dread
The Great Psalms
Natty Don't Fear
African Message
Silver Bird
Listen to the Teacher
Trench town Rock

CD rip to mp3s
Blehhh along with The Originator here

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Just a Tad

It's a real sin that Tad's early material has been deleted and is now (outside of the blogosphere) quite unavailable.

Suffering somewhat from the fallout of one time label mates Nirvana's massive success - for once they were equals, appearing alongside each other on those wonderful Sub Pop tours across Europe at the end of the nineteen-eighties - they soon dropped out of the zeitgeist (as did Mudhoney, another of those early Sub Pop bands who were destined to be the next big thing) and grunge became territory that belonged strictly to Cobain and his cohorts.

It was apparent from those early tours that Tad were definitely the heaviest of the three acts, both literally (Tad Doyle was quite a large chap; appearing long before the BIG guy became an important accessory in many a metal band) and materially.

Their version of the so-called Seattle sound was rooted far more in metal than it was in blues or punk, the inspirational genres that fueled Mudhoney and Nirvana.
And on the occasions I saw them, they well managed to capture the hearts and imagination of the London audience, and were certainly able to hold their own alongside the other acts.
This first album, produced by Jack Endino, represented their sound and dynamism pretty well. There isn't really a poor track on it; and several outstanding numbers, 'Helot' (one of the best 'grunge' tracks ever), 'Sex God Missy' and 'Satan's Chainsaw' make you want to go back for more.

For some reason - a lack of direction in the way they were marketed may account for some lost opportunities - Tad were never able to sell many records; and as soon as Nirvana showed a hint of success Sub Pop seemed to concentrate their efforts solely on them.
Shame, coz Nirvana soon flew the nest and subordinated themselves to the whims of David Geffen and the whiff of corporate dollars.
You know the rest...

Tad - God's Balls (1989)

Pork Chop
Tuna Car
Sex God Missy (Lumberjack Mix)
Cyanide Bath
Boiler Room
Satan's Chainsaw
Hollow Man
Nipple Belt

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Get down and dirty with God's Balls here

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Club of Assassins

I have always found The Orb's music deeply evocative.
Their tumbling stop-start beats perfectly capture the wind-blown effects of sound heard outdoors, evoking the proximity to a festival stage or the approach to a rave.

Being representative of the prog faction within the dance scene, The Orb continually referenced their muse; whether it be Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, the Koran or Minnie Ripperton [!], their sound was purposely post-modern, evocatively borrowing and stealing from whatever and wherever; creating waves of aural gratification to the often horizontal listener.

'Assassin' was an apt title for what I think is their best single release; for assassin is itself a terribly evocative word, and one relevant to The Orb and their audience's world.

The derivation of the word is best described by the French poet Theophile Gautier in his Club of Assassins, written in 1846:

There formerly existed in the East a redoubtable order of religious fanatics commanded by a sheik who took the title of the Old Man of the Mountain or the Prince of Assassins.

The Old Man of the Mountain was obeyed unquestionably: his subjects, the Assassins, proceeded with absolute devotion to the execution of his orders, no matter what they were; no danger would deter them, not even certain death. At a sign from their chief, they would leap from the top of a tower, they would stab a ruler in his own palace, surrounded by his bodyguards.

By what devices did the Old Man of the Mountain elicit such complete self-abnegation?

The answer: by means of an extraordinary drug of which he held the recipe and which possessed the property of bestowing marvellous hallucinations.

Those who had partaken of it found real life so sad and colourless by comparison with their intoxication that they would joyfully sacrifice their lives to return to their dream-paradise.

On dosing the fanatics, the Old Man of the Mountain led them to believe that it was within his power to bestow on them the paradise of Mahomet and the houris of the three ranks.

The drug was hashish,* from which is derived hashishin, the eater of hashish, the origin of the word assassin, the ferocious signification of which is amply explained by the sanguinary habits of the henchmen of the Old Man of the Mountain.

*hashish is an extract of flowers of hemp, cooked with butter, pistachio nuts, almonds and honey, forming a kind of jam very similar to apricot conserve and with a taste which is by no means unpleasant.

The mp3 format is more appropriate to this product - originally released as two discs, forcing a break in mood - allowing for a continuous listening experience.
And despite the fact the track is repeated - there are four versions of 'Assassin' here - Paterson knew how to deter boredom; so as a whole (fifty-five minutes in total) the recording retains interest: working like a symphony, continually improvising and expanding upon its own theme.

The Orb - Assassin (1992)

Assassin - Oasis of Rhythms Mix
U.F. Orb - Bandulu Remix
Assassin - Radio 7
Assassin - Another Live Version
Assassin - Chocolate Hills of Bohol

CD rip to mp3s
Taste the mix here

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Just how does an anarchist vote in the looming European elections?
Does an anarchist vote at all?

The trouble with not voting is that it doesn't prevent those seeking power from gaining it.
It could in fact give them more power; the party faithfuls will always subordinate themselves, willingly voting on the behalf of others, leading inevitably to minority representation.

But if you are of the same mind as Chumbawamba, then you'll recognise that these politicians, they're all the bloody same.
The names may have changed, but is there really any difference between Mr. Heseltine, Brown, Cameron or Griffin?

Never Mind The Ballots, Chumbawamba's second album, is a deeply cynical critique of Western democracy.
Much of the anger found on their debut release, Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, gives way to pathos, and the band give us their elegy to democracy.

And it's not only aimed at politicians, 'Come on Baby (Lets Do The Revolution)' is a polemic targeting those who sell and buy into the 'anti' business, whether it be corporations who claim themselves green or the latest celebrity who's going to heal the sick.

Originally I did think this album was so much a product of its time that it wouldn't be worth posting; listening to it now, I realise that nothing's changed, this recording is just as relevant and vital as it was on release twenty-two years ago.
So how does an anarchist vote in the European elections?
Reluctantly, I guess.

I'll probably just spoil my paper.

Chumbawamba - Never Mind The Ballots (1987)

Always Tell The Voter What The Voter Wants To Hear
Come On Baby (Lets Do The Revolution)
The Wasteland
Today's Sermon
Mr. Heseltine Meets His Public
The Candidates Find Common Ground.
Here's the Rest of Your Life!

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs.
Several tracks appear as single files as I didn't want to break the segues.
Gain some political conscience here

Monday, 1 June 2009

Roots & Culture

Imminent for re-release, this 1992 offering from Mad Professor was undoubtedly one of his best; helped out enormously by the words and masterful yelps of top toaster U Roy.

Very much an album to skank to; most of the tracks skip along with joyful exuberance; and with the Prof on the knobs, arrangements and effects are predictably mind bending.

This is great music to take out into the garden: crank it up, crack a can, and pass the dutchie to your neighbours.
Yeah, man!

Mad Professor - True Born African Dub (1992)

True Born Dub
Six Million Dollar Dub Version
Treasure Isle Style
Dub Pon Me Corner
Sistern Version
Black Is Dub
Bengali Dub
Money Dub
Feather of Dub
Dubwise Soca
Dub City

CD rip to mp3s
Get back to your roots here