Monday, November 24, 2014

SPAZ reviews INSPIRAL CARPETS' fab new album!



INSPIRAL CARPETS

INSPIRAL CARPETS



First time I heard Inspiral Carpets was in 1990 when their debut album, Life, was released.  Their earlier indie singles never entered my radar and I don’t think I ever heard of them until they signed to Mute.  With organist Clint Boon’s raging keyboards, Martyn Walsh’s throbbing bass, Graham Lambert’s slashing guitar and Craig Gill’s steadfast drumming, the band were world’s away from the E-inspired bands that were gravitating towards Dance rhythms instead of their Rock ‘n’ Roll origins.  Vocalist Tom Hingley (who had replaced original vocalist Stephen Holt before the Carpets signed to Mute) fronted the band and while he was known as the ‘voice’ of IC, each of the musicians carried the same amount of clout on record.  

A mix of Garage, Punk, Psychedelia and Pop with just a dab of Bubblegum, Inspiral Carpets were one of the best Manchester bands to emerge from that city in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (and yes, better than the always over-rated Stone Roses).  For four albums and loads of singles, the Carpets nailed it almost every single time.  Though they didn’t change things up a whole lot, they did progress as musicians, became more creative and their songwriting became even stronger over the years.  With the Carpets, their songs were much like a plane ride: the intro was the jet engines revving, the verses were the plane heading down the runway and the chorus is when they really fucking soared.  Their hooks were so heavenly that you could practically glide in the clouds with them. But by 1995, it was over.  

The band split but reconvened in 2003 and continued to play live but did not release any new music.  Hingley quit in 2011 and original vocalist Holt came back to the fold. At that point, the band released Dung 4, a pre-Mute collection that was previously only available on cassette. 

Now, in 2014, the band returns with their first new studio album in 20 years and it’s pretty damn brilliant.  The opener, “Monochrome,” is a decent opening track - however, it doesn’t have a hook that slaps you upside the head. Oh, but when “Spitfire” kicks in, the magic begins.  From that point on, the album is a non-stop thrill ride filled with goosebump-inducing melodies, great harmonies and an energy that equals anything they released two decades ago.  Everything you loved about the Carpets back in the day is still here in full force.  Songs like the aforementioned “Spitfire,” “A To Z Of My Heart,” “Calling Out To You,” and “Hey Now” are as good as anything they have released. On one hand, it’s like they never left yet there is a sense of maturity that comes out in the grooves – these guys STILL love to make music and it shows.  And a guest appearance from the great John Cooper Clarke on “Let You Down” is ace!  

This self-titled platter is quite possibly the best full-length the band has released since their debut and is definitely one of my top ten favorite albums of the year.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SPAZ reviews the four CD box set MILLIONS LIKE US: THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL



MILLIONS LIKE US: 
THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL
(4CD/100 tracks)

I was a Mod fan before you was a Mod fan!

First off, let me be perfectly clear: I was never a Mod. I was never dapper or thin enough to look good in snappy clothes and ride a scooter.  Even when I was 16 back in ’79, I was too much of a dork to ever follow any type of fashion.  Besides, all of my money went to records back then anyway.  So, while I bought every Mod-related single and LP I could get my hands on, I was never technically a Mod.


The Mod look was always sharp and cool. Since it was a UK based ‘movement’, I never quite understood its roots back in the day – all I knew was that the music was amazing.  Sure, some of the bands were more than likely fashion followers and had been Punk acts before slipping into Mod suits, but if the songs were good, then it didn’t matter. To me, it has always been about the music, which is why I loved Punk, Mod, New Wave, Power Pop and any other form of guitar-fueled, hook-filled Pop/Rock yet never dressed the part.  OK, I had a few Jam t-shirts, but that was about it.  I tried the skinny-tie thing a few times but gave up because everyone else did it so much better. 

The original Mod scene in the ‘60s faded out after a few years, although bands like The Who and Small Faces/Faces would continue long after the scene died.  Miraculously, when The Jam released their career-defining album All Mod Cons in 1978, it inspired the underground Mods to come out of hiding and create the Mod Revival scene.  Again, it was a short-lived movement, but it had a ripple effect that still inspires bands today much like the original Mod scene had. 


So, what does ‘Mod’ sound like?  Well, like many other musical movements, there are different subgenres of Mod – the punky Mod, the Rhythm & Blues Mod, the Power Poppy Mod and mixtures of all three.  The bands seldom sounded exactly alike but the one thing they had in common was that their songs were short, energetic, melodic and often-times anthemic.  The songs were pop songs at the core and easy to sing along to.  They were songs that made you feel like you were part of the scene even if you lived on another continent.  The movement did in fact spill over into the U.S. although it was overshadowed by all the different ‘new music’ scenes that were sweeping the country.  The original Mod Revival scene may have been born in the UK, but it spread across the globe although it was not quite as influential in other regions outside ol’ Blighty. 

Instead of me trying to explain Mod any further (and making an ass of myself), I would recommend that you rush out and grab yourselves a copy of MILLIONS LIKE US – THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL, an amazing set that features nearly every major Mod band – The Jam are the only main band missing – and stands as one of the best box set releases of the year.  I bought tons of singles and albums back in the day but missed out on so much because I never saw it in local L.A. or O.C shops here in Southern California.  While there have been Mod comps over the years, this is the one that you need to own whether you have purchased those other comps or not.  Yes, there are tracks here that have made it on CD in the past, but MILLIONS LIKE US – THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL is so comprehensive that I can only find ONE fault with it.  Yes, only one!  And what is that, you ask?  Well, this set doesn’t include The Killermeters’ “Twisted Wheel”, one of my favorite Power Pop/Mod singles ever.  But hey, that is only a minor gripe (and I can find that song on the deleted This Is Mod Vol. 2, so at least I have it on CD). Elsewhere, all the greats are here including Squire, The Lambrettas, The Chords, Secret Affair, The Merton Parkas, The Purple Hearts, Nine Below Zero and loads of others.  Other highlights include The Donkeys (oh, how I love The Donkeys), New Hearts (pre-Secret Affair band), The Crooks, The Nips (featuring a pre-Pogues Shane MacGowan),  Seventeen (an early incarnation of The Alarm), The Truth (Dennis Greaves’ post-Nine Below Zero outfit), The Q-Tips (fronted by blue-eyed Soul vocalist Paul Young, who later achieved solo success), The Jetset (Mod meets The Monkees), Dee Walker, Eleanor Rigby, etc.  The music contained in this set spans a 12 year period (1977-89) and is absolutely solid from beginning to end.  The main focus is on the UK scene but there are plenty of other artists here that represent other countries like France and the U.S. 


MILLIONS LIKE US – THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL is an amazing collection of delectable guitar Pop songs  that will hopefully inspire a new generation of musicians and show them how a proper tune is written! There are 100 examples here!


For fans of the Mod Revival, Power Pop, Punk, Garage Rock, Psych Rock and New Wave. 


Peace, Love, and Pancakes,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

MILLIONS LIKE US: 
THE STORY OF THE MOD REVIVAL

Available
12.16.14

Friday, November 14, 2014

SPAZ reveals: "Why SPANDAU BALLET's "True" is my favorite song... EVER!"



THIS MUCH IS "TRUE":

Stephen SPAZ Schnee 
discusses his love for 
SPANDAU BALLET's 
biggest American hit!


Nobody asks me what my favorite song is of all time... and the reason they don't ask is that I'm already willing to tell anyone that SPANDAU BALLET's "True" is the song that tops my list. And since I've been ingesting practically every form music since I was two years old (or younger), I am keenly aware of what I like and what I don't like.  I've had 50 years to figure it all out!

So, why is Spandau Ballet's "True" my favorite song?

Why the hell not?

It has everything I love about music - a gorgeous melody, a chorus you can sing along with and, most importantly, it has FEELING.

The song has a marvelously emotive arrangement that is soothing but not overly dramatic.  And unlike ballads that get too bombastic in order to stimulate the listener's emotions, "True" naturally draws those emotions out. What is the song about?  To be honest, I have no idea, but it stirs my soul much like many of my other favorite songs - The Beatles' "Long And Winding Road," The Moody Blues' "For My Lady," The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks," Squeeze's "Is That Love," Split Enz's "Stuff And Nonsense," Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," The Records' "Starry Eyes", Right Said Fred's "Stand Up (For The Champions),' etc.

Just the first 10 seconds of the intro is enough to send me right back to my 19 year old self, standing in Music Plus on Garden Grove Boulevard (in Garden Grove, CA), thumbing through LPs as the album was being played in-store the day it came out.  I was digging the songs on the album, but when the intro to "True" came on, I stopped looking through the bins and just stood there, absorbing every note.  By the time the song faded out, I knew I had to own the album!

I'd been a Spandau Ballet fan ever since I heard "To Cut A Long Story Short," the first single off of their debut album, Journeys To Glory, in '81.  Heck, all of my friends were instant fans when we heard that hybrid slice of Synth and Funk.  Tony Hadley's voice was more of a bellowing croon (if that is possible) compared to his contemporaries, but it caught everyone's attention.  By the time their second album, Diamond, came out in '82, I noticed that Gary Kemp (guitarist and songwriter) was writing catchier melodies overall, which I really dug. Though some may not have noticed, their sound seemed to be shifting away from the New Romantic Funk of their debut.  But I was not prepared for the album True.



The True album was a beacon of light, a blue-eyed Soul album filled with melodic hooks galore. Gone was the funk of the debut (and most of Diamond), replaced by a smooth layer of cool courtesy of Gary's songwriting and Steve Jolley and Tony Swain's production.   They band was still serious about their art, but it was obvious that they were having fun - you could hear it in the grooves. The album is a near-flawless gem - I can do without "Code Of Love" - and since I'm a Pop music geek, I fell in love with the LP immediately.  But the song "True" was heaven to me.  It warmed my heart when life turned cold, it raised me up when I was down, and it still brings great joy to my life to this day, thousands of listens later.  I played it when I was laying sick in bed in the hospital, I played it when my heart was broken, I played it when I was filled with joy... I have played that song more times than any other song in my life.  It always makes things better, no matter what.

And to think Gary Kemp was only 23 or so when he wrote "True". I find that amazing and astonishing. When I was at that age, I was a drooling idiot.  I still am, I'm afraid.

Is "True" my favorite song because I first heard it during a great time of my life - in the prime of my youth?  And because it fills me with innocence and hope? To be honest, I'd say yes to those statements but there is so much more to "True" than just that.  I listen to plenty of songs that match that criteria but they don't have the same effect on me.

"True" is the real deal.

But bear this in mind: in order for "True" to be my favorite song, it has to be the album version, which is a good minute longer than the edit most of you are familiar with.  If I'm going to listen to "True", it HAS to be that version. The second runner up would be the 2001 mix, which restored the original - and inferior - song intro but extended the ending of the song. The third runner up would be the single edit, which is the one they play on the radio (and in the video). And yes, I am a geek because I know the difference... plus I also know the instrumental version AND the 2009 acoustic version!

I continued to follow Spandau Ballet until their break up in 1990 and subsequent reunion in 2009.  I've been an avid fan of their music and it often amazes me that some write them off as just another flash-in-the-pan '80s act. There certainly is a lot more to the band than the critics give them credit for.  I could go on and on about them, but I'm attempting to focus on the song "True" without getting too distracted. That in itself is proving to be a very difficult task as you can tell... if you have read this far!

So, I recently had a chance to meet the five members of Spandau Ballet in Hollywood at a private screening of their Soul Boys Of The Western World documentary. And I couldn't resist telling each of them just how important "True" was to me.  While I did tell all five guys  - who were all gracious and very kind - how much the song meant, I walked away wondering if they thought I was just another weirdo music fan who only knew the song "True"... or if they really understood.  In the end, though, I guess it doesn't matter because I know how much it means to me, right?

Finally, I know that some folks my find my love of "True" to be entirely uncool, but I'm not trying to be cool in the first place!  My love of music is far more important than my desire to be accepted by other music fans or other music journalists. "Serious" music scribes can go on and wax poetically about Zappa, Big StarDylan, etc., but I love what I love, whether it is Spandau Ballet, The Osmonds, Status Quo or whoever else may be considered out-of-fashion at any given time... and I see nothing wrong with that. I don't believe in 'guilty pleasures' - you should love what you love regardless of what others say.

Although I've written liner notes for nearly 30 reissues, written reviews for All Music Guide and I've had more than 100 interviews published in Discussions Magazine, I don't consider myself a music journalist or critic - I am a music fan first and foremost.  I am just lucky enough to be able to express my emotions through a very limited vocabulary and hopefully inspire someone to listen to something.

Again, why is Spandau Ballet's "True" my favorite song of all time?

Because it's a f***ing great song. 

End of story.






SPANDAU BALLET

THE STORY: THE VERY BEST OF




Also available:

SPANDAU BALLET

THE STORY: THE VERY BEST OF
(2CD EDITION)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An EXCLUSIVE interview with STATUS QUO's Francis Rossi!


ROCK 'TIL YOU DROP:

An EXCLUSIVE interview 
with 
STATUS QUO’s 
Francis Rossi

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Status Quo is one of the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll bands in the world. Yes, that is quite a bold statement, but one that is backed by 50 years of hit singles and albums, decades of touring, drugs, sex and all of that nonsense. In Europe, they are considered Rock royalty, although the critics haven’t always been kind to them. From their Psychedelic beginnings – including the hit “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” – to their denim clad Boogie heyday throughout the ‘70s, Quo have rarely stopped giving their all in the name of Rock. Even when the original quartet (nicknamed ‘The Frantic Four’) split in the early ‘80s, leaders Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt took very little time off before deciding to reform a new version of the band, which continues to tour and record to this day. When you think about it, Status Quo has been contemporaries of every great Rock artist, stretching back to the mid ‘60s. Not only did they compete in the charts with the likes of The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Moody Blues and The Rolling Stones, they also shared chart space with everyone from ELO, T. Rex, The Clash, The Jam, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet to Nirvana, Radiohead, R.E.M., One Direction, U2, and Coldplay.
     Status Quo are superstars in Europe, Australia and practically everywhere else on the globe except for the U.S., which is mind-boggling since their sound is based on American Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. They’ve had albums released in the States, but nothing has really bothered the charts in a long time. If Americans are going to be familiar with Quo at all, it will be for being the first band to play Live Aid back in 1985 – they opened the show with “Rockin’ All Over The World,” a John Fogerty-penned track that they have turned into a true blue Quo classic. Speaking of Quo classics, the band’s songwriting has remained top-notch throughout the years. Originally Blues-based, their songs are now more melodic than ever, filled with more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box. However, they still know how to rock and prove it over and over again with each album release.
     In 2014, they finally decided to record an album of acoustic versions of some of their hits and fan favorites. Instead of doing straight-ahead acoustic retreads of the tunes, they’ve opted to rearrange many of the songs to give them extra flair and spice. Aquostic (Stripped Bare) contains over twenty tracks of tasty Pop and Rock ‘n’ Roll songs that prove that the band most certainly does know its way around a melodious tune. With longtime Quo members Andrew Bown and John Rhino Edwards – plus new drummer Leon Cave – Francis and Rick have made their most accessible album to date. With the extra added bonus of accordion, female backing vocalists and strings on some tracks, the recordings on Aquostic (Stripped Bare) bring the melodies to the forefront and reveal layers of beauty that may have been missed before. Just one listen to Quo standards like “Pictures Of…” or “Claudie” will make even the most hardcore Quo fan weep with joy. The album is the perfect introduction to American fans that may not be familiar with Quo’s extensive repertoire while also serving as a ‘thank you’ to their loyal followers. In short, it is simply wonderful.
Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Quo member Francis Rossi, who gladly chatted about the album, Quo’s past and future, and much more….


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE:  How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had so far? It debuted at #5 in the UK charts, right?
FRANCIS ROSSI:  Yeah, I’m kind of elated, but it’s still early days yet. I’d like to see how it’s doing in five or six weeks’ time – if we’re still hanging in there. We’re getting the best reviews we’ve had in centuries. Thus far, I haven’t heard one negative, and it’s just a bit nerve wracking. I keep looking over my shoulder expecting someone to try and shoot me or knife me or something. Really, it’s been fantastic. I really enjoyed making it. I didn’t think I would. I don’t know what happened, but it was fantastic to make.

SPAZ:  I’ve read that you were initially hesitant (about recording an acoustic album). Do you remember at what point during the rehearsal or during a playback that you finally said, “Yes, this is going to work”?
FRANCIS:  It was in the first couple days. Rick couldn’t be with us because he had family commitments and such, so it was Andrew, John, myself, Mike Paxman, the producer, and our engineer, and there was this real creative vibe, which kind of sounds a bit weird for somebody of our age. I’d have to go back to when we were doing this ad for Australia with “Down Down.” I’d always liked the melody and then I thought the melody was now being allowed to come through. We did a mockup in Shepherd Studios for this ad. We did kind of that ‘Presley in the round’ thing, and the manager was very, very keen. Unbeknownst to us, he’d been pushed by somebody at Radio 2, their music director, who wanted to see if they could get us to do an acoustic album and Jeff Lynne to do ELO in Hyde Park this year. He managed to get both of them done and both have been ridiculously successful.
So thinking back to the early 70s, there was always criticism for the Quo that they had these “poppy” melodies and some people didn’t like the melodies, but loved the grungy Rock & Roll thing going on underneath, and accepted the melodies. I suppose the thing that makes this work is people are now thinking, “Oh, I really like the melodies. I never really heard the melodies or the lyrics before.”  Everybody’s talking about how we’ve reinvented the band. I hate that expression, but that seems to have been what’s happened. Everyone’s now thinking, “Oh yeah, we really like you.” (This album) opens it up for people who aren’t necessarily receptive to Status Quo and are now going, “Oh yes, we rather like this.” We’ve had more downloads than we’ve ever had before and far more people that are kind of coming out of the woodwork that you just didn’t think liked Status Quo and actually admitted to not particularly liking them until this project. I’m very enthused, I’m very up, and I’m committed to the next two years, I suppose. If this really does carry on and does well, we’ll do some shows early next year. There may be a full blown tour late next year. I suppose it’s like when we were younger and the first couple of albums had taken off, it’s all kind of thrilling, you know? And with the guys of our age, doing what we’ve done for so long, it’s kind of “Well, yeah, it’s just what we do.” And, I suppose if we’re really honest, if you go to the press, particularly in this country and Europe, that Quo’s got a new album, they’ll go, “So fucking what? They’ve had loads of new albums. It’s another Rock album. We know where they’ll be.”  With this one, we’ve seemed to have sidetracked everybody and made them think, “What the fuck are they doing?”

SPAZ:  Did reworking some of the songs give you a new appreciation or maybe reignite your passion for some of the tracks?
FRANCIS:  Yeah, and I think that’s the same effect it’s had on other people. You know, the project was supposed to take us four to six weeks and it took four and a half months. I was coming back from somewhere with a driver and I had the acoustic in the car, and I was playing the acoustic and we got home and the driver said, “I never thought you could play an acoustic.” “What the fuck are you talking about? Of course I can!” And it seems a lot of people think, “Ah – that’s real music if you play an acoustic guitar,” which is kind of weird. Most of the songs that we’ve done were written on acoustic guitar. I think my reluctance (in recording an acoustic album) was that people would say, “What are they doing? They shouldn’t plunder their own catalog.” Whilst one might say you shouldn’t be bothered by what people will think, we’re in show business – of course we’re fucking bothered by what people think.


SPAZ:  I’m more of a fan of the Quo stuff starting in the early ‘70s. But when I heard the new version of “Pictures Of Matchstick Men,” I heard a real beauty to the song I never heard before…
FRANCIS:  The same things have happened here with that song, and I believe that’s possibly going to be the next single. These days, the band doesn’t really get involved with what we want or don’t want as a single because we don’t really understand the market anymore. But, that’s one that everybody’s talked about that perhaps in the American market you might be able to get some airplay. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if Status Quo, this late in their career, got to have a hit album in America? I’m dribbling, I’m dribbling (laughs).

SPAZ:  There are Quo songs that I didn’t pay much attention to like “Rain,” “Don’t Drive My Car,” and a few other things, but these versions hit me this time in a way they never have before.
FRANCIS:  That’s the same with me. We were trying to do “Rain” and we tried it one time and thought you can’t really do that. The following day, John (Edwards) came back and had pared the riff down somewhat, and then we all bounced off that and lo and behold, got the new version. The same with “Car.” This is the first album since the advent of the CD that I’ve actually listened to all the way through without getting tired. I find with the advent of CDs that we were all putting loads and loads of tracks on there, and in the end people really do get tired. You think, “Oh fuck, I can’t listen to it anymore.”

SPAZ:  Aquostic does not include anything from your albums post ’91. Is there a reason for that?
FRANCIS:  Somebody asked me the other day from Switzerland why didn’t we do “Roll Over Lay Down.” I said, “Well ‘Roll Over Lay Down’ was written on electric guitar,” blah blah blah – and as I was on the phone talking to him, I thought, “No, no, no – I can see how we can do that one now.” And, I think, if this one continues with the success it’s having, we will be asked to do another one. And again, as much as I would think, “No you don’t want to do it,” you should want to do it. It’s the world we live in. You’d be a fool not to. In the dressing room the other night, we mentioned a couple of songs we could do – “Oh, that one would be good!” I’m sure if I go onto the next one, we will address some of the later songs and maybe even some earlier stuff, because if it appears successful, success does breed success. I mean, it will encourage us. I’ve not finished this one yet, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

SPAZ:  “Little White Lies” off of Under The Influence, I think that would work…
FRANCIS:  I adore that, yes. I think we should’ve done that one too. We did think about “Little White Lies.” I thought it’s already where it should be. I remember when Rick was writing, and he took a long, long time to write it, and he said, “Does it sound like ‘There She goes’ (by The La’s)?” I said, “Yeah it does.” He went “Oh.” I said, “No, that’s still fucking great.” I don’t care. I love that song.

SPAZ:  One of the main things that always drew me to the band was the fact that you guys wrote and still write great songs. In fact, I can tell you that the Bula Quo album is probably one of my favorite batches of Status Quo songs and that’s saying a lot, because I’ve loved loads of Quo albums.
FRANCIS:  I thought the album before that (Quid Pro Quo), we’d actually got to the point of where we were kind of full up. There were no highs or lows. They were all pretty much the same keys and pretty much the same tempo. So luckily, although the movie was a bit (makes a raspberry noise), the soundtrack allowed us to say we can do this, we can do that because there were no boundaries – they didn’t say you can’t do that. You just do what you like.

SPAZ:  Well, both you and Rick sound great on the new record. Like the actual songs themselves, I think people tend to overlook how great your voices sound together. Was it daunting to think about the fact that people are going to be able to really hear the vocals? People are really going to hear the melodies?
FRANCIS:  Well, luckily, we didn’t give that a thought because now that you’re saying it to me, it makes my bottom twitch a bit. (laughs) But, no, I didn’t give that any thought. At the very early stages, the first day or two, I was so taken with the project that I would just keep going if I could. This project was fantastic all the time. I was really looking forward to getting up in the morning, get in the studio. It was the most enjoyable time I’ve ever had in the studio with the band ever. I mean, the old stuff, new stuff, everything. It was just a joy. I can’t really put my finger on why…

SPAZ:  Are you planning to add an acoustic set into your normal electric show? Or maybe take the acoustic show out on the road?
FRANCIS:  We are talking about that. We’ve got to finish this year out because there are some electric shows to be done in the middle of next year. Again, should the success carry on and one has to plan like this – this is what show business is about, I’m afraid – it may well be that 2015, at the end of the year, we would do an acoustic tour. People say, “Can you not do half this and half that?” Well, no we can’t because apart from the setup being so vastly different, the amount of people being brought in would be so different, we’d be carrying so many people just to do half a show. And if it does appeal to the people, some of them will definitely not come to an electric show because it’s too fuckin’ loud.


SPAZ:  I’ve seen a lot of shows in my time, but my absolute favorite show is when I saw you at the House Of Blues in Anaheim on the Heavy Traffic tour in 2003. I still tell people about that show.
FRANCIS:  So do I, because they talk about gigs – they ask me was Live Aid good, was doing this one good… But that one show – I don’t know what happened, but it was better than wanking (laughs). It really was. There was just something happened that night, and it’s one of those shows you think, “Oh fuck, why can’t we take that one around with us?” I’m glad you saw that show.

SPAZ:  How did you get Canadian superstar Bryan Adams involved to do the album cover?
FRANCIS:  So fuckin’ easy, it was ridiculous. We talked about the album cover (with our manager). “What do you mean fuckin’ naked?” I was in a serious argument with him. Then I stopped and thought about it. I thought, of course, what do you do? You’re stripped bare, you’ve got an acoustic in front of you and even from a negative point of view, people will go around and show somebody else, “Look what these two dickheads have done.” Well, they’re doing your PR job for you. Then he said we’ll get Bryan Adams to take the photograph. I’ve never, ever been asked who did the album cover other than this album. Everybody’s said, “I see you’ve done it naked.” So, I’m afraid, it’s become mostly about marketing. It’s sad to say that in the music industry that it isn’t necessarily about the music. Unless you have the marketing angle, people won’t listen to the friggin music anymore. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just older bands. But, like I said, if we just sent you “another Rock album” you’d go, yeah, nice. You like Quo? And you’d go yeah, fine. But there’s so much more to talk about with the fact that it’s acoustic, we’re in the nude, you had Bryan Adams, and lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala. Our manager is very, very good at that, and that is the world that we live in.

SPAZ:  I have never felt that Quo just went through the motions. Every record – there still seems to be that passion and love for making music. Now, how do you maintain that?
FRANCIS:  I don’t really know, and I believe with mankind, generally, whatever we do, once we think we know what’s going on, we start fucking with it and ruin it. So we just kind of kept going. It’s the same with the shows. There is such a commitment in those live shows – they physically hurt in the end and the older we get, the more it hurts. But you can’t help it. When you’re out there, this tension comes about the body and it hurts afterwards. But when you’re out there, I can’t explain it. I’m so lucky to have done this so long with any amount of success.

SPAZ:  Well, would you consider it the greatest job in the world?
FRANCIS:  It is for me, because I would be shit anywhere else.


Thanks to Francis Rossi

Special thanks to Carol Kaye, Danielle Isitt, Dana House and Nick Kominitsky



STATUS QUO
AQUOSTIC (STRIPPED BARE)

IMPORTCDS     DEEPDISCOUNT

Sunday, November 9, 2014

SPAZ reviews EL TORO RECORDS' latest releases!



El Toro Records is one of the most exciting labels in the world if you are a fan of early Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Rockabilly, Hillbilly and Country music.  Their catalog consists of little-known classic music from the days when Rock ‘n’ Roll was in its infancy (ie: the ‘50s) as well as contemporary artists who magically capture that vintage sound in modern studios.  Sometimes, when I’m listening to one of their ‘new’ artists, I have to peruse the booklet to verify that it is indeed a current artist and not an obscure mid ‘50s recording by a long-forgotten performer.  In essence, El Toro Records offers thrills without the extra frills. This is music stripped to its core – primitive, wild, vibrant and vital. 

 The label’s latest batch of releases are some of their best yet.  Here, I’ll offer a few thoughts on each the releases, but bear in mind that all are very worthy of your attention.  Perfect for those who want to turn back the clock to the days when primitive Rock ‘n’ Roll blared out of the corner jukebox of the local diner and would have sounded great alongside some of Elvis' Sun Records sides.

 
THE WISE GUYZ/Hot Summer Nights

One of El Toro’s most prolific artists, The Wise Guyz are a fantastic modern Rockabilly band from the Ukraine with an authentic ‘50s sound.  If your idea of Rockabilly is the Stray Cats, then leave those thoughts at the door - The Wise Guyz are here to introduce you to a batch of hot monaural recordings that blend Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hillbilly and R&B and really swings! You’ll be convinced that this is an actual album from an unknown ‘50s Midwestern outfit… although the sometimes noticeable Ukranian accent might give the game away. The addition of some great sax playing adds to the fun.  And you’ll be amazed that almost every track here is a Wise Guyz original!  Recommended tracks: “Miss Chris,” “Way That I Love,” “Don’t Break Your Poor Heart,” “Cool Cool Boy,” “How Long,” and the title track.

TERRY O’CONNEL & HIS PILOTS/If You Give Me One More Try

First time I played this album, I didn’t look at the liner note info and let the music do the talking.  To be honest, I thought that this album was a collection of rare and obscure recordings by a ‘50s artist I’d never heard of.  It was only afterwards did I realize that Terry O’Connel is indeed a new Swedish artist who plays authentic Rock ‘n’ Roll. It can be astounding to hear an artist turn back the clock some 60 years and still sound fresh – sounding vintage doesn’t mean that they aren’t electrifying.  Closer to classic Sun Records recordings than The Wise Guyz, there’s even a hint of Elvis in Terry’s vocals (although that is probably unintentional). Solid from top to bottom, this is great slab of rockin’ fun. Recommended tracks: “Say Yes,” “Let My Sorrow Roam Free,” “Let’s Cut To The Chase,” “Cupid I Blame You,” “Let My Sorrow Roam Free,” and the title track.

 
BLUEGRASS STUFF/The Old Bridge

Though I have never heard of them before, Italy’s Bluegrass Stuff has been one of Europe’s most beloved Bluegrass outfits for over 35 years!  Their sound is traditional American Bluegrass and recalls many of the great Bluegrass bands that have kept the music alive over the last 80 years or so.  But don’t you get ‘trad Bluegrass’ confused with that annoying hipster Americana stuff that is all the rage these days!  No, Bluegrass Stuff play it like it always should be played: with heart, with vigor and with respect.  And boy, can these guys play!  Stunning.  A good time guaranteed for all! Recommended tracks: “Hurt And Feeling Sad,” “Big Ball In Brooklin,” “My Swiss Mountain Lullaby” (complete with yodeling!), “Drinkin’ Her Memory Away,” and the mournful “Do Not Pass Me By.”

 
GEORGE BARNES/Quiet Gibson At Work: 1938-1957 (2CD)

elgb2
GEORGE BARNES/Restless Guitar: 1952-1962 (2CD)

 Before the internet made more information accessible to music fans, session musicians were often the overlooked heroes of recorded music.  George Barnes was most definitely one of the most important guitar players for nearly 40 years before a heart attack ended his life in 1977 at the age of 56.  So, why was he so important?  Well, he is believed to have played the first electric guitar in ’31 and made the first commercial recording of an electric guitar in ’38. He appeared on so many recordings during his career that he may have been the most prolific guitarist of the pre-Rock ‘n’ Roll era. These two double disc collections gather together some of his finest work and breaks them up into four different categories: Blues & Country Jazz (1938-48), Swing & Country Jazz (1948-57), Pop, Plunk & Twang (1952-61) and Rhythm, Blues & Rock ‘n’ Roll (1956-62). Though there are a myriad of styles to choose from here – a total of 120 tracks – they are all held together by Barnes’ fluid and clean style.  Not quite Jazz, not quite Blues and not quite Country, his playing mixes it all up and carries each of the recordings.  These discs include songs released under his own name as well as tracks with Big Bill Broonzy, Jazz Gillum, Washboard Sam, Blind John Davis, The Sweet Violet Boys, Dean Hightower, Jaycee Hill, The Coasters, Chuck Willis, Homer & Jethro, Janis Martin, Little Willie John, Dinah Washington and many others. So much great stuff to listen to from a guitar legend.

 elfred
FREDDY VELAS & THE SILVERTONES/Back To Street Harmonies

 I love Doo Wop and to hear a modern band take a stab at vintage-sounding Rhythm & Blues/Doo Wop is a pure delight. If you didn’t know better, these could be straight from America in the mid ‘50s, but make no mistake – Freddy and the boys are a modern Italian Doo Wop band with great guitar, sax, piano, drums, bass and heavenly harmonies. This is an album that takes the listener back to a simpler time when music was created to entertain people and inspire them to dance and fall in love. This is a wonderful slice of fun that should NOT be missed by those looking for music perfect for their next sock hop!  Recommended tracks: “Lulu,” “Crazy Over You,” “Dance Girl,” “Doo Wop Time,” “Life Is But A Dream,” and “Shouldn’t I.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NEW Selena Gomez single/video!

SELENA GOMEZ

PREMIERES NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO 

“HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS”

FROM FORTHCOMING
GREATEST HITS COLLECTION
FOR YOU 

November 6, 2014 – (Burbank, CA) – Multi-platinum recording artist Selena Gomez premiered her new single and video for “Heart Wants What It Wants” moments ago.  “Heart Wants What It Wants” premiered on Selena’s social platforms as well as radio and VEVO. Selena also speaks exclusively today with Ryan Seacrest.  For You is set for release November 24, 2014.
“Heart Wants What It Wants” was written by Gomez, Antonina Armato, David Jost and Tim James, and produced by Rock Mafia; and is an emotionally charged song of unrequited love.  The video was shot by award- winning director Dawn Shadforth (Florence & The Machine, Charlie XCX, Kylie Minogue, Oasis) in Los Angeles, CaliforniaFor You features three new previously unreleased songs, “Heart Wants What It Wants” and “Do It” and a Spanish version of “More,” as well as new mixes of “My Dilemma” and “Forget Forever. “

The complete track listing is:

Heart Wants What It Wants
Come & Get It
Love You Like a Love Songs
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
Who Says
My Dilemma 2.0 (New version of “My Dilemma”)
Round & Round
Forget Forever (Boy Lightning Remix)
Slow Down
A Year Without Rain
Naturally
Mas (More – Spanish Version)
Bidi Bidi Bom Bom
Falling Down
Do It


An EXCLUSIVE interview with THE WEDDING PRESENT's David Gedge!


Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?

An EXCLUSIVE interview with 

THE WEDDING PRESENT’s 
David Gedge

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Formed in 1985 in Leeds, England, The Wedding Present became one of the UK’s most respected bands, with support from radio legend John Peel, music critics and a fiercely loyal fan base. From their first early indie singles and their genre-defining debut album George Best, the band forged their own path for twelve years, miraculously avoiding being pigeonholed into any of the many genres they outlived – from the C86 movement to Baggy/Madchester, from Grunge to Britpop. Never kowtowing to label pressure once they signed to RCA, The Wedding Present has cast an influential shadow over the Indie guitar bands that followed in their wake. They’ve never lost their credibility over the years, due in no small part to singer, songwriter and band leader David Gedge’s unique musical vision. With a constantly rotating line-up, Gedge has remained the sole original member throughout The Wedding Present’s blistering career, yet their output has been remarkably consistent regardless. The band took a sabbatical in 1997 – and Gedge formed Cinerama – but returned with a vengeance in 2004 and have been touring and releasing albums ever since.
     Their albums released between 1985 and 1996 still sound as fresh and vital today as when they were first released. Over the years, the band’s sound went from wonderfully shambolic to gloriously hard-hitting, yet has always been deeply emotional at its core. The Wedding Present’s devoted fan base connected with Gedge and his mates on many different levels. It always seemed that they were right on the cusp of crossing over into the mainstream, but it never quite happened and they remain one of the UK’s best-kept secrets of the late ‘80s and ‘90s here in the U.S. Just about ready to celebrate their 30th Anniversary, David Gedge and The Wedding Present are still a force to be reckoned with. He may be considered an elder statesman today; however, his fire still burns as intensely as ever.
     Nearly three decades on, Edsel Records is reissuing the band’s entire studio output between ’85 and ’96 in deluxe packaging. Each album will feature loads of additional bonus tracks including non-album cuts, live tracks and more. From George Best to Saturnalia, each release contains three CDs plus a bonus DVD housed in hardback book packaging. Painstakingly compiled, these releases feature everything the band released during their first twelve years plus loads of rare and previously unreleased recordings. Every fan of The Wedding Present needs to own these reissues as they are the definitive versions of the albums they released on their own label (Reception Records) and through RCA. Edsel continues to do an excellent job with their reissue programs and The Wedding Present releases are no exception – in fact, they’ve raised the bar with these!
   Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with David Gedge about The Wedding Present reissues and much more…


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE:  The Wedding Present’s 30th anniversary is just around the corner and this reissue campaign by Edsel Records is pretty amazing. How are you feeling about this journey you took to get to this point and seeing these releases in front of you?
DAVID GEDGE:  First and foremost, I’m actually proud of it. It’s something I didn’t really plan or envisage, and then I just got this invitation about a year and a half ago to go and meet with Edsel and they said, “Here’s what we want to do – we want to release all these albums in this kind of format,” and they showed me examples of what they’d done before and there was one half of me that was thinking, “This is brilliant, this is kind of that definitive release. It will be the final thing we do probably on each album because this is kind of everything,” you know? It’s like all of the album, all the extra tracks, all the radio stuff, all the live – everything is on there. And then there’s another half of me thinking, “This is going to be a lot of work.” Everybody in the meeting was all kind of enthusiastic and happy, and I was thinking, “Yes, I’m the one who’s going to be rummaging through my storage units.” And to be honest, it was quite a lot of work. It sounds a bit weird, but I’m the only person in the world who really knows how to do it. There’s people who kind of came and went in the group. Ultimately, there are certain questions which only I can answer, because I’ve obviously been there all the time, and I’ve had a great interest in it. So, all the time that they were kind of firing these little questions at me – “Can we do this?” and “Where can we find this?” and “What do you remember about this particular session?” – and so there’s a lot of going back through old tapes and diaries and photograph albums and press cuttings and stuff, but I enjoyed it. It was interesting to do. It was quite a task, but having seen the finished result, I’m very pleased with it.

SPAZ:  Were you amazed at just how much material you were able to find and use? Were there things you had maybe forgotten about?
DAVID:  Oh yeah, there were. There were things like just little radio sessions that we did for Virgin Radio here in England. There’s one that used to be in London and we just played a couple songs acoustically, around the time of Watusi, and I had totally forgotten about that. And then I was looking through some tapes and I thought, “Oh what’s this?” and played it and it sounded really good, and I thought, “Well that’s definitely one to go on there.” You know, there’s a lot of stuff, obviously. When you make a record you do a lot of promotion stuff and you do sessions and concerts and things so I’m quite good at kind of retaining a lot of that. I’m worse now than I used to be. I think when you first start a group you’re so excited because, you know, someone writes a review in the paper or something so you collect everything. And for the first few years I had quite a comprehensive kind of archive really and then I suppose as the years go on, you kind of get a bit more relaxed after that. I’m not quite as meticulous as I used to be, but thankfully, for the periods pertaining to these releases especially, I still had a lot of stuff. And also, people helped me. When I was missing things, which I knew we’d done, I just kind of asked a few people, and they said, “Oh yeah, I’ve got that,” whatever it was. So, it all came together. It was very labor intensive!

SPAZ:  Looking back, while the band grew musically with every release, do you feel that you achieved your own personal goals and ideas for each record?
DAVID:  Well, I think my goals have always been quite low! (Laughs) My chief goal, if I’m honest with you, I think my major ambition was to actually, A) have John Peel play one of our records and B) do a session for that program. So when that happened, I was kind of like, “Okay, I’ve done what I set out to achieve.” That was my main target, and it was a particularly lofty one, so anything that came after that was a bonus. I think the only thing that I wanted to achieve, which I think we’ve kind of done fairly well over the years, is make each record different. I know a lot of artists kind of say that and then you play the records and you think it kind of sounds the same, but I’m quite proud of the fact that apart from my voice and my lyrical style, I think the music just kind of shifted and changed through the years. Partly, it’s because we’ve had different lineups over the years, but it’s also been a very conscious thing to try and do that. In some ways, it’s not the most commercially successful way of doing things because you alienate sections of your audience if the next LP doesn’t sound like that last one, for instance. It puts people off, but I’m quite happy to do that because these eight albums almost sound like different groups. You know, it sounds like three or four different groups over the period of the eight records.

SPAZ:  I noticed that when you signed with RCA, the band’s sound remained intact. Did you manage to retain creative control over the recordings, or were you just lucky that the label liked what you were doing?
DAVID:  It was definitely a conscious thing. For the first few singles, we were on our own label and even before we recorded George Best we were getting interest from majors, but we were kind of happy being on our own at that point. We had these meetings with people and there was this kind of almost patronizing attitude of, “Well, you’ve done very well so far, but if you sign to our label, we will do this and do this and change this and put you out to the world stage, and we’ll take you from this level to REM or U2 or something.” And you know, it didn’t really appeal to us. We didn’t want to change anything because we were happy with the sound and happy with the direction it was taking. We didn’t feel like these business people would have anything to offer us really. So, over a period of a couple of years we met every major label, I think. Then we released George Best and, lo and behold, it was actually quite a successful record, so that kind of increased the attention even more. We still said no. And so we finally met somebody who works at RCA Records, as you say, and he said, “Look – I certainly understand what you’re doing here and what I’m offering you is basically the option to do that exactly as you’re doing it now, but just using RCA almost as a distributor rather than a record label.” And that was the first time we felt that we could do that really. You know, carry on and be on a major. So we said, “Okay, well, put that in the contract,” and he did. It was kind of a quite unique contract for that time, I think. It was quite lucky, because actually our own label was distributed by a company in England who actually went into liquidation shortly after, so it was the luckiest thing for us anyway to move from there to RCA. It’s just the way we’ve always worked. I can’t imagine not working in that way. It kind of baffles me when I see these creative people, artists and bands and stuff, and then they’re willing to kind of compromise because some business person at a record company says, “Well you should do it that way.” Obviously they want to sell more records, but at the same time – I don’t know, I think if you’re in the business of creating something, you want to have the freedom to create it, really.

SPAZ:  In regards to modern technology and social media, if The Wedding Present started out today, do you think you would have stuck it out on your own or still gone to a major?
DAVID:  I think we would’ve stuck it out on our own. It’s obviously a different situation today because there’s less money to be made. When we had our own label in the mid-‘80s, we actually made money from that. With young bands now, there’s no money to be made from that. It’s not even just illegal downloads, it’s streaming and Spotify and YouTube. So, if The Wedding Present was starting now, I think it would be harder, but I’ve always been stubborn. I’ve always had this kind of mentality that I don’t care. I’m not happy to take your money if it means I’ve gotta change the way that I work or the band works.
I’d be the first to admit to you that if we had gone down certain routes and changed certain things, I’m sure we would be more commercially successful – especially in North America for instance. But, you feel like you’re compromising some kind of integrity. I’m not saying I’m even right. Maybe that’s not the right way to do it, but it’s just the way that I’ve always worked and I’ve always been comfortable to do that. And I’m perfectly happy with my lot.


SPAZ:  Well, I know that here in the U.S., fans were pretty rabid and you guys seemed to be getting a lot more attention than a lot of your contemporaries. Why do you think the U.S. took to The Wedding Present and maybe not to some of the other bands at that time?
DAVID:  I think we always showed an interest in North American kind of Pop and Rock culture, which maybe has something to do with it. First of all, we grew up fans of American comics and American movies and American music and then I think, even at the time when in the formative years of The Wedding Present, we were very open to the bands from the U.S.A. I think even more importantly, your producers – we always had decided we’d like to work with Steve Albini, and then later Steve Fisk, people like that. Even though people in the United States actually say that The Wedding Present has a very British sound, I’ve never felt that myself really. I’ve always felt we kind of had one leg on each side of the Atlantic, so to speak, and we’ve drawn influences from both cultures. I think that’s possibly one reason why it’s more acceptable to an American ear, I guess.

SPAZ:  When I listen to The Wedding Present, I can hear influences, but I don’t hear you ripping off any bands like The Pixies or whoever. What were your main influences musically?
DAVID:  Well, that’s a very good question. I think you’ve answered the question in the actual question –because we were very conscious that we didn’t want people to say that. Obviously there are bands who sound like other bands – it’s the nature of the kind of art form in a way because it’s very cyclical and people grow up listening to a certain type of music and then wants to hear that kind of music later – but we were very conscious that we wanted to have an identifiable and hopefully unique Wedding Present sound. So whenever we are working on a new piece of music, whatever it might be, and we start arranging again, then somebody will say, “Oh that’s really cute, it sounds like The Pixies.” And you think, “Yeah…I don’t want people saying that sounds like The Pixies,” and so at that point we tend to move away from that really. It’s almost like a subconscious thing, but I think it’s like fear of being accused of plagiarism or something. I think it’s easier now because we do have a Wedding Present sound and we kind of work within that framework rather than scrambling around trying to sound like other people. So, the answer to your question is really a myriad of influences over the years. Again, it probably comes back to John Peel because the bands he played, especially those in the early ‘70s and ‘80s and maybe into the ‘90s, I think they were the bands that probably influenced us the most anyways. But no specific artist, really.

SPAZ:  Do you feel that it’s easy to separate yourself from your previous work and just get on with it, or is there some sort of pressure trying to outdo what you’ve already done?
DAVID:  I think it’s natural in any kind of art form, whether it be writing or making films, you always want to kind of progress and make something that’s better than what you’ve done before. I’ve got to be honest with you – in two weeks I could write you another record that sounded like George Best because I know how to do that. It’s fairly simple for me to do that, and I’m sure it might be quite successful, but at the same time I’ve done that. It’s already finished so I want to move on and try different ideas. We’ve never had a problem with that, to be honest. I’d say it’s stressful, but at the same time, it seems to evolve naturally. I think it’s probably because we’ve had such a shifting lineup over the years. So every time somebody new comes into the group, obviously, straightaway you’ve got this person who has got a whole set of new ideas and new inspirations, and enthusiasm as well. I think the band goes through this little kind of rebirth, if you like, and that often takes us off on a tangent. I do rely on the input of the other members over the years. I think if it was my band and I was some kind of weird dictator, I think it would have been more one-dimensional. I do feel like I’ve been in like four or five different groups over the years, and I think they’ve all had a slightly different feel to them, and the records have changed in mood as we’ve gone through the years, really.

SPAZ:  The band successfully survived so many musical fads – everything from C86, Grunge, and Madchester to Britpop. You managed to swing your way through with integrity. Was it sort of difficult to not succumb to the flavor of the moment?
DAVID:  No. I think we’ve always felt more comfortable outside of that really. None of us ever wanted to go and live in London or New York or wherever and hang out with all the kind of the movers and shakers. We’ve always been a bit more comfortable being outside of those scenes and just plotting our own little course. We’ve always steered clear of any little scenes, really.

SPAZ:  Do you think that there’s a certain album or era that is overlooked? Personally, I think Saturnalia and Watusi were highly overlooked records. Is there an album you think people should really pay attention to?
DAVID:  Yeah, those two, actually. I think Watusi less so. If I had to name one, I’d say Saturnalia because I think Watusi attracted attention because it was so different from the rest of them, so that was kind of cool. And then you had George Best, obviously the big debut, and then Bizarro, signing to RCA, Seamonsters with Steve Albini, and Hit Parade, which was the singles. But I think Saturanalia didn’t really have any special kind of feature other than it being a good record, really. There’s a lot of experimentation happening on that record, which people don’t necessarily see because they are not familiar with it or they glossed over it. I think we kind of looked at the way The Wedding Present operates and tried to change some of the ways we approached songwriting, and bringing a kind of more avant-garde feel to it, but still kind of make a Pop record out of it. So, Saturnalia and Watusi are actually two of my favorites. I came very quickly to the conclusion it’s not usually the best records that become the most famous. It’s the ones who had a bit of luck in the marketing. There’s loads of reasons why records become successful and it often has nothing to do with the quality of the music or vice versa. You know, you hear brilliant albums that are completely unknown.

SPAZ:  On the other hand, was there an album that you didn’t feel quite as strongly about, but once you put the reissue together, you had a whole new appreciation for it?
DAVID:  In my mind, George Best is the weakest record because the band had just started, and we didn’t really know what we were doing, and then subsequently we kind of learned how to write songs better and arrange songs and record songs. I always kind of thought that Bizarro was almost like a better version of George Best. It’s the same kind of sound, but it was better production and just kind of more depth to it. Whereas George Best, in my memory, it’s just this kind of total jungle thrash 100-miles-an-hour racket. So, it was interesting to go back and then play them all again. I think I changed my mind slightly. I think George Best isn’t quite as one-dimensional as I thought. I think there is some kind of charm in that collection of songs, which possibly I didn’t notice at the time because I was there, but looking back now, you know, there’s a quite youthful exuberance and a certain naiveté. I still think it’s probably one of the weaker records, but I do see the appeal now I think, which I didn’t really before.

SPAZ:  Is there a particular lineup that you consider the definitive Wedding Present lineup, both live and/or in the studio?
DAVID:  Absolutely not, no. There’s sort of a romantic part of me that feels like the first lineup is, but then again, I think some of our best work has come after that. (Since reuniting), there’s been three more Wedding Present records, and I think some of those are the best things we’ve ever done. Again, I feel like I’ve been in four bands over the years (laughs) plus Cinerama, plus the Ukrains (a Wedding Present side project), and all the rest of it. It’s hard to compare them really. You know, they’ve all got different ideas about how to make a record. I’m very pleased with Watusi because I think, as I said before, all the records sound different. I think Watusi sounds especially different. At the same time, I think it was a very challenging record and I think it was a very successful one. So, I do have a soft spot in my heart for that particular lineup, as well as the first one, I think.

SPAZ:  Do you feel that Watusi was a foretelling of Cinerama?
DAVID:  Oh yes, definitely. I’ve always had interest in that kind of music, by which I mean, I guess more, slightly Lounge-y, kind of Pop music. But then also I’ve had interest in soundtrack music like Ennio Morricone, but I think if you take away the soundtrack music, I think the other stuff there was definitely kind of always in me. I think Watusi was a chance to actually experiment with more of that. I think once we did Watusi and enjoyed working in that particular area, it did inspire me a few years later to actually take on the project of Cinerama and apply some of that kind of influence and inspiration into that record.

SPAZ:  Do you prefer the finished studio recordings, or the radio sessions and live stuff? Because I feel the studio recordings often have more emotional depth, but the live stuff has more intensity.
DAVID:  I think it depends what mood you’re in, really. I think there’s definitely a certain charm to the kind of live stuff and the radio sessions, so you’ve got that kind of tension and that possible aggression stuff. But then when you’re in the studio, you haven’t got the time constraint so you can put more into it, and if it’s not working you can stop doing it and try another day or change something around. I wouldn’t say I prefer one to other at all, really. They’ve all got their own different kind of personalities.

Thanks to David Gedge
Special thanks to David Beaufoy, Alex Jimenez, Jonathan Hanscombe, John Campbell, Dana House and Nick Kominitsky


GEORGE BEST
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)

TOMMY
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


BIZARRO
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


SEAMONSTERS
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


HIT PARADE
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


WATUSI
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


MINI
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)


SATURNALIA
(Deluxe 3CD + DVD Edition)