Q&A with Charlie Layton from The Wedding Present

I’m a big fan of the podcast The Trap Set where Joe Wong interviews drummers. It’s far more interesting than it sounds and they don’t just discuss paradiddles and flams for an hour. If you’ve never listened then I’ve put links to some of my favourite episodes at the bottom of this.

Being a US-based podcast I thought it was unlikely they’d ever get around to interviewing one of my favourite drummers, Charlie Layton from the semi-legendary Wedding Present. So I thought I’d just ask him a load of questions myself.


What was the first instrument you learnt to play? 

Drums! Ha… I begged my parents to buy me a guitar when I was 12 and they refused. I did tire of the idea when I realised that most of my mates were playing guitar, so when no one was playing drums and we were talking about forming bands I thought I’d give it a bash (literally!). It was that or vocals and being a shy kid, that was never going to happen.

Did you have lessons or self-taught?

I had my first kit (Premier Olympic) when I was 14 and there it sat for the first month, set-up (badly) and untouched. The threat was, ‘get lessons or it’s going!’ I found a guy called Scott who only taught a maximum of 3 students. He had a slot free and he was like a big brother to me. I had lessons with him for about 3 years until I started playing in bands and then they stopped completely when I moved to London at 18.

What bands did you play with before Wedding Present?

So very many! Though none that you would have ever heard of before.

I really liked your band The Dirty Fingernails who played the mini festival at Holmfirth Picturedome a few years ago, what’s happening with them these days?

Very kind of you to say! That was the 3rd band that I had been in with Sami. He’s like my Finnish brother. We met in London in 2001 and started a band called Librium together and I also loved his songs and him as a person, so ended up drumming with him all the time. The band ended in 2012, as I had moved to Berlin. He’s now back in Helsinki. Leon the bassist is now in band called All Flags Are Grey. They played At The Edge of The Sea this year.

How did you get the drum job with The Wedding Present?

Contacts. Terry de Castro was in a band called Goya Dress in the 90s. Their manager was a guy called Nick Moore. In 2005 he was managing my band Seeing Scarlet (said you wouldn’t know any of them). We had just finished watching Art Brut (my mate Eddie’s band from Bournemouth) headline Tin Pan Alley music fest in Denmark Street when his phone rang. It was Terry asking if he knew of a drummer that could stand in for a festival the following weekend. I said yes, it went well, I was asked back at the end of 2005 for a few Spanish dates and the rest is history.

You don’t look old enough to remember the early Wedding Present records. So how familiar were you with the band’s music when you first joined? 

I knew the name and remember seeing the adverts for Watusi in Melody Maker & NME at the time. I started buying them weekly from the spring of 1994 and reading them religiously. Then I began taping John Peel’s shows in about 1997 and by then it was Cinerama, which at that time wasn’t up my street! My musical tastes have changed over time though and some of those Cinerama tracks are up there with my favs. I love strings in pop music!

You’re now one of the longest serving members the band have ever had. What’s the secret to your successful working relationship with David?

Being in a band is tough (oh boo hoo I hear you say! I’d kill to do it!). Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but as it is David’s vehicle, every member has to rely on other work to make it viable to be in the band. For years I was tour managing bands when I wasn’t on tour with TWP. However I didn’t see that being sustainable long term. Since 2015, I have been teaching at BIMM Berlin (a university specialising in the music industry). I’ve been fortunate to be able to juggle it all. David is easy-going and is happy to work things around my schedule as well which helps. We are both Taurus, not that I’m a massive one for the stars, but I can see the similarities. We are both driven individuals who work hard and I’d like to think there is an understanding there. Touring isn’t for everyone. I used to drink a lot on tour, heavily most nights, whereas today I rarely drink at all. Times change, you grow older and you want different things from life. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my personal life and within the group. Long may that continue!

When you’re recording new material, how fully formed are the song arrangements when David first presents them to you?

It’s actually generally the guitarist at the time that will present an idea to David. They may then work on it and develop it together, or that may start in the rehearsal room. We’ll knock it into some sort of shape and get a rough recording down. David will then leave it for a while and return to it with fresh ears in a month, maybe two or three later (depending on our touring schedule) and add bits, chop bits out, move things around and then send it out to us for thoughts. We then rehearse it again, record it and see whether it’s worth keeping. Sometimes songs might go through this process a few times, others might be really quick.

ALL THE SONGS SOUND THE SAME: Some questions about writing the setlists

The gigs when you do the whole albums, which of those albums is the most enjoyable? And which is the most difficult? 

We played Going, Going… in its entirety last year (2017) at Cadogan Hall in London. Accompanied by strings and a choir. As that is an album that I was involved with from start to finish, that was a pretty special night.

I was there and you’re right, it was!

Most enjoyable: Tommy! I love the simplicity of everything. That and the pace of every song. Lots of fun to play.

Most difficult: There honestly isn’t one. George Best is a drum machine and straight-forward, albeit pacey like Tommy. Bizarro is Simon Smith’s debut album and with my style being similar to his, I love playing the parts he writes. He really thinks about the parts that he plays on each record, which makes it enjoyable to learn and play.

Are there any songs that you put on the setlist through gritted teeth because you don’t enjoy playing it? I have a theory that Lovenest doesn’t get played much because the drumming near the end sounds quite tiring.

Ha ha! No Lovenest is great! I had it in the set for our North America tour this year (2018). I think it’ll be back at some point later this year as well.

I’ve just mentioned Simon and our styles being similar. Graeme Ramsay (drummer from 2006 – 2009 & Guitarist until 2011) has a very different style to me. The song, ‘Soup’ on El Rey is one I really struggle with. He has this lovely light touch that I just can’t replicate!

Play Lovenest at the Stoke gig in December please! 

Are there any songs you’d like to play more frequently but the other bandmembers don’t like playing?

I don’t think there are. Even the songs that you are most comfortable with need to be changed up at some point. When you start not having to concentrate on playing some thing, it’s time to rest it for a bit.

You change the setlists quite a bit and the fans really appreciate that. Does that also help to keep it interesting for the band or is it a pain having to learn and rehearse so many songs?

I have played most of the songs live at least once now, so learning the songs is a simple process for me. Head to the rehearsal room and run through them on my own a few times. I think it’s much harder for the guitarists and bassists than it is for David or I.

Can you do the “one from each” challenge for us please, choose 1 favourite song from each Wedding Present studio album. 

GB: Anyone Can Make A Mistake

Tommy: Once More

Bizarro: What Have I Said Now?

Seamonsters: Dalliance

Hit Parade: No Christmas

Watusi: Spangle

Saturnalia: Snake Eyes

Take Fountain: Perfect Blue

El Rey: Boo Boo

Valentina: Deer Caught In The Headlights

Going, Going…: Broken Bow



INTERSTATE 5: Some questions about touring

When Elvis Costello was recruiting bandmembers for what became The Attractions, the advert promised “Fun Travel and Excitement.” What percentage of being on tour is that? 

Well the one great thing about joining a band like TWP is that though the band isn’t huge, it’s known well enough to be able to play all over the world. As David runs the whole operation himself, it means that he’s able to keep costs to a minimum and make shows to 150 people in Bangkok financially viable.

So though you don’t get to spend much time in each city you do get a feel for a place and the people. Our recent Asian tour was amazing. The places we went to, including 3 firsts for the band and the fantastic people that we met along the way.

I do find touring fun. I think I’ve adapted to it. I’m sure David and Jessica have seen the changes in my behaviour on the road over the years! I’m like David in that regard, I love planning things. I use the time when I’m driving the van to process thoughts and then say to David, ‘Maybe we could do ‘this’ next year?’ We then chat about it and 9/10 it comes to fruition!

So what’s the best & worst thing about being on tour?

Best: Places, People (band / crew and audiences), Playing

Worst: Food. I’m a fussy eater, so anywhere outside of the UK can be hard for me. I need food in order to play and I become a misery if I’m hungry! That and waiting around. A friend of mine, Knox Chandler (awesome session guitarist) when asked, ‘What are you good at?’ He said, ‘ Waiting around.’ You have to know how to kill time. If you are sat in the van, at an airport, in a venue, in a dressing room, then you have to know how to amuse yourself.

Do you all travel together? If so what roles do different bandmembers have? (e.g. who’s driving? who’s navigating? who’s choosing the music?)

Yes, we all travel in a Splitter van. David, Jessica and I all drive. The co-pilot navigates when the sat nav goes wrong! Music: We have weird rules. As David is generally in the passenger seat, he’s always working, so there’s no music for the UK / European drives.

In North America it’s different. The drives are so long and so the rule is that the driver chooses the music.

I really enjoyed the recent Marc Riley session. “Getting Nowhere Fast” / “Felicity” sounded amazing. The new songs there were great too, so the big question is are there plans for a new album?
Thanks, it feels great to be working on new stuff again.
We’ve been so busy touring since Going, Going… came out, that there simply hasn’t been the time.
As things start to settle a bit more now, the plan is to get cracking on a bunch of new ideas. These (Panama & Jump In, The Waters Fine) were worked up over summer. We now have a couple of months before the next shows and files are being sent back and forth which is very exciting!
Whether it’ll be an album I don’t know. That’s for David to answer! But hopefully they’ll be some more new tracks being played at some point next year.

In your glamorous rock’n’roll lifestyle, have you got to meet many of your heroes? If so who was really lovely and who was a disappointment?

I’ve VERY briefly met Damon Albarn at the America Embassy. Blur were my favourite band as a teenager and of course David knows him! They had a little chat and that was that. I’m generally too ‘star’ struck to talk to people, however once you do, you soon realise that you have a lot in common, know the same people and well, you do the same job after all!

Now I’m not just wriggling out of the disappointment question. The fact is that I’ve not been.

You mentioned being friends with Art Brut before. Are you playing on their new stuff?

Yes we recorded the album together in London last September (2017) I’ve know Eddie since we were teenagers and our bands used to grace the same line-ups back in Bournemouth in the last 90’s. We both live out in Berlin, I love Art Brut and it seemed like a good fit!
Are you playing their live dates next year?
Yes I will be touring with Art Brut. With some forward planning it’s easy to make the schedules work for two bands.

If you could magic yourself into any band, past or present, which would you choose and why?

The Clash! Love them. So prolific. Great songs and great new look to accompany each album.

Four Horsemen

A few bonus questions from @Shinpad11 on Twitter…..

What does Charlie pin to the back of David’s shirt to make him smile so much whilst playing? 

Ha! Well the songs are a lot of fun to play. As I’ve said already, it’s a perfect fit for my style. Also the facial expressions are just part of my style. I don’t even realize that it’s happening and then I’ll see some photos afterwards and think, ‘Oh boy that looks terrible.’ I physically can’t do anything about it though!



Are Mr & Mrs Gedge surrogate Mum & Dad to the rest whilst on tour? 

Nah. We look out for each other though. Jessica does always make a cracking brew as we get set-up for soundcheck. That’s always nice. She’s also great when you are feeling poorly. So maybe a little bit actually!

Will they ever get around to playing “Box Elder” live? (since we asked that question it’s actually been played quite a bit, including the Sheffield and Chester gigs I went to)

As you know, we played it live earlier this year. As David often says, ‘There are about 300 songs to chose from. We can’t play them all!’

Last 2 questions now, these are the ones we ask everybody we interview…..

You’re in a caff ordering a breakfast. You can have toast and your choice of tea or coffee and then you’re allowed 4 more items. Go.

Extra crispy bacon, fried eggs (over easy), sautéed potato (like in a Little Chef, Olympic Breakfast!) and beans.

The Breakfast of Olympic Champions

Cricket, is it any good or is it just bollocks?

It’s bloody amazing! I’ve played from the age of 10. Medium pace, right-arm over, swing bowler. Terrible with the bat unfortunately. The last side I played for was the Tower of Dudes in London. It was made up of musicians and writers. It was mainly about the drinks after though!


Catch The Wedding Present’s “Tommy 30th Anniversary Tour” in December in Portsmouth, Exeter, Bristol, Stoke (see you down the front!), Bradford, Galashiels, Carlisle, Leicester, London and Liverpool.

Full details of “All this and more” on Scopitones website

Also follow Charlie on Twitter along with his bandmates David Danielle and TerryBut most importantly follow Doris the Wedding Present dog on Instagram.


Other Wedding Present related articles on this website:

Recommended episodes of The Trap Set podcast:



New album review: Sleepers Wake by Percy

“Sleepers Wake” is a cantata written in 1731 by Johann Sebastian Bach. If you’re roughly my age, you might associate it with Maurice Mimer, one of Kenny Everett’s least funny characters, whose sketches were accompanied by an easy listening Moog version. It pops up here on the track “Teutonic” played on the keys by frontman Colin Howard alongside snippets of other Germanic hits “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Deutschland Uber Alles.” All of that is accompanied by mucho mucho surf guitar and repeated shouts of the song’s title. This is what “Tequila” would’ve sounded like had it been recorded by The Cramps rather than The Champs.


It’s also an appropriate title for the album because it’s been a while since we’ve heard from Yorkshire Super Heroes Percy. I first stumbled across them on a boozy pub crawl round Camden with a couple of mates. Late in the evening our attention was grabbed by the glorious racket from the 3 piece band in the corner. Closer inspection led to a Fred Titmus moment as we all simultaneously realised who was on drums. Fucking hell, it’s Hugh Whitaker!

A drunken conversation with the band after the gig led to them subsequently supporting one of the bands I was playing in. Hugh even drummed for us at a gig in Sheffield when our drummer was laid up in a hospital bed. The brilliant singles “Donny Rednecks” and “Caravan” got a few radio plays from John Peel / Steve Lamacq and that was the last I heard of them.

But now, like Rip Van Winkle waking from a 20 year snooze, they’re back, back, Bach!

Baby Got Bach

The album kicks off in furious style with Howard posing the question “Why Are You Still Here?” to some irritating political twerp on his TV screen. Someone “ministerial” with a “wayward nob” who’s “peddling lies” and “full of it.” Can’t you narrow it down a bit?


Bit of a Buzzcocks vibe here with Howard’s Devoto-like vocals. A different track “Going Off On One” somehow reminds me of “Something’s Gone Wrong Again” while simultaneously sounding nothing like it.

Another great Mancunian band are more directly referenced on “Hep!” In the aftermath of the great Mark E. Smith’s death, Howard rails against “people trying to reclaim [him] for their individual ends” and “freeloading bastards” who “last bought an album in 1985.”

Parts of “Gut of The Quantifier” are thrown in, along with the famous Beatles opening line (from a song The Fall covered) “I heard the news today” but with the “oh boy” appropriately changed to “oh brother.”


The spirit of MES lives on with rockabilly feel of “Exploding Head” which sounds a bit like “Container Drivers” played by Dr Feelgood. The brilliant verses tell of the mind-numbing tedium of being stuck in traffic or in a pointless desk job followed by a catchy chorus of “why am I living a lie?”


The rhythm section of ever-present Andy Wiles on bass and relative new boy Jason Wilson on drums play a blinder throughout, but particularly on some of the wilder tracks. Throw The Stooges and “Trompe Le Monde” era Pixies into a stew, mix in some of Future Of The Left’s cynical humour and you’re somewhere near. The vocals even get a bit Jello Biafra in some of their more unhinged moments, the repeated “fear of a thousand arseholes” on “Streets of 1000” being a good example.


An even more menacing mood is created on “Alice Stone” where we hear a sinister and sneeringly delivered tale of “an ordinary girl” who “met a guy in corporate finance” and became a “stay at home mum.” Her fragile mental state is conveyed brilliantly through the woozy proto-reggae accompaniment which starts and ends fairly calmly but builds and almost collapses in on itself in the middle section. The Wobble-y bassline adds to the ominous mood and Paula Duck’s creepy chromatic Farfisa organ calls to mind masterpieces like “Friday Night and Saturday Morning”, “Grey Day” and “Watching The Detectives.”

Things get a bit more Half Man Half Biscuit with the brilliant and hilarious “Off The Meds” which starts off as a joyful celebration of being, well, off the meds. The second verse sees our protagonist walking to the market square and exposing himself (another use of the word “nob” here, very impressive.) By the end of the song he is SPOILER ALERT: somewhat unsurprisingly back on the meds.


Another song proclaims “Oh Lord forgive me for I know not what I am about to ingest” over a church organ backing. There’s some kind of unholy communion going on here. Two OAPs (and possibly their dog too?) neck some hallucinogens that broaden their minds and make them feel and appear younger. Suddenly it’s “no more Fray Bentos, Gala Bingo, Skegness in the rain” as they visualise each other as Liz Taylor and John Major. All of this over a jolly galloping beat making “Enlightened” my favourite song on the album, just ahead of “Exploding Head” and “Off The Meds.”


“Sleepers Wake” is released on Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and Itunes later this week on but you can buy it on CD or download from Bandcamp below.



  • Hugh may not be in the band anymore but I’ll take any excuse to re-post one of my all-time favourite videos.


  • J.S. Bach wasn’t averse to a bit of a rumble you know. If you’ve never heard the story about him nearly stabbing a bloke after accusing him of playing the bassoon like a goat then get a load of this.

The HMV Years: 1988-1992

The HMV Shop, Swan Lane, Guildford. Photo and window display by Gavin Atkinson.


Thirty years ago this month a naive 17 year old boy from a rural village in Sussex started his first full-time job among the bright lights big city of Guildford! I’d been working Saturdays and school holidays in Comet on the top floor of Debenhams. The bloke behind the nearby Virgin Records counter got fed up of me constantly asking him if there were any jobs going there and told me to try HMV. Some of my peers sneered as they boasted of A levels they’d actually passed and prepared for their new lives at university. But as far as I was concerned I’d landed myself a dream job surrounded by music every day, what could be better than that? I worked there for 4 happy years, during which my musical tastes and knowledge broadened exponentially. I gradually started to “listen without prejudice” and stopped being such an indie music snob.

Here is a Spotify playlist with a selection of songs that remind me of those days.



“Moondance” by Van Morrison

In my interview I was asked some questions to test my knowledge of where records should be filed alphabetically.

“Where would you find a Van Halen album?” Under V obviously.

Followed by “Where would you find a Van Morrison album?” Trick question. Fortunately the band I’d formed with my schoolmates did a cover of “Moondance” so whilst I didn’t know anything else about him, I knew enough to know that he was a solo artist, not a band, and therefore is filed under M for his surname.


“Doctorin’ The Tardis” by The Timelords

Another interview question: “what’s currently number 1 in the singles chart?” Nailed it.


“The Only Way Is Up” by Yazz and the Plastic Population

I thought this was number 1 on the day I started the job but I just Googled it and discovered it was either “I Owe You Nothing” by Bros or “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” by Glenn Medeiros and His Epic Mullet. But those 2 records are both dreadful so let’s say bollocks to historical accuracy and put Yazz on the playlist instead.


“The Battle of All Saints Road” by Big Audio Dynamite

I hero-worshipped The Clash back then. Still do if I’m honest. BAD’s album “Tighten Up Volume 88” was released on the day I started and this song had been a highlight when I’d seen them play at my first ever festival a couple of weeks previously. It was the Amnesty International Festival of Youth at the Milton Keynes Bowl and I’ve talked on our podcast previously about how the whole weekend was a badly organised shambles and also how much I’d bloody loved it.


“Wap Bam Boogie” by Matt Bianco

Saturday morning phone-in wankers Matt Bianco also released a new album that day. It wasn’t very good but this song was a bit of an instore favourite. An influence on future number 1 “Renegade Master” by Wildchild? Probably not.


“My Philosophy” by Boogie Down Productions

Starting at HMV that same day was a lad from Woking called Graham who remains one of my very best friends to this day. He was (and still is in fact) a couple of years younger than me but he looked and acted older. The established staff members quizzed us on our musical tastes and feeling they’d got the measure of us they dubbed us “Indie Chris” and “Hippy Hoppy Graham”

All credit to “Hippy Hoppy Graham” for getting me into Scott La Rock and KRS-One.


“Mistletoe and Wine” by Cliff Richard

In December the shop was open on Sundays and stayed open late every night. I didn’t really have any other commitments so I did all the long shifts that were offered to me. The downside was that we had to listen to Christmas music all the time. And I do mean all the time. The only music permitted to be played instore was the compilation “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” and Cliff’s latest mawkish festive discharge “Mistletoe and Wine” which was firmly entrenched at number 1 for the whole of December 1988. Repeated listening to those Christmas songs scarred me for life and the opening notes of some of them still make me bristle and go into full “bah humbug” mode.

Top 5 Christmas songs I hate:

  • “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney
  • “Last Christmas” by Wham!
  • “A Spaceman Came Travelling” by Chris De fucking Bergh
  • “Merry Christmas War Is Over” by John Lennon
  • “Little Saint fucking Nick” by The Beach Boys

Occasional respite from all this was offered in the form of the Phil Spector Christmas album which I never get tired of hearing so I’ll put a track from that on the playlist instead.


“Solitaire” by The Carpenters

I’d been given a record player for Christmas when I was about 6 and started off with albums by The Wombles, Smurfs and Pinky and Perky before I’d starting buying singles from the charts soon after. I’d also listened to most of my mum and dad’s records. I liked The Beatles and Motown LPs by Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. My other favourites were Buddy Holly, Elvis and the double album soundtrack to “That’ll Be The Day” which had a load of great 50s rock’n’roll on it.

Apart from that it was mostly music from the 1970s that I tried to like but just couldn’t get into. Wings, Simon and Garfunkel, Bread, ELO, Elton John, Don McLean etc.

Then there were 2 albums by The Carpenters. I already knew a couple of the songs because they’d been covered by Pinky and Perky! Some of it, the faster songs mainly, was really REALLY naff. But I was a big Smiths fan whose favourite song was “I Know It’s Over” so I really liked the slow songs with their gloomy lyrics and dramatic chord changes.

My parents took the mickey when they saw what I’d been listening to. A bit rich seeing as they were the ones who’d originally bought the albums but clearly times had changed and The Carpenters were now the uncoolest of the uncool. So from then on I kept my liking for The Carpenters a secret.

In 1990 Sonic Youth released “Tunic (Song for Karen)” and a new Carpenters “best of” called “Yesterday Once More” came out and sold very well. Quite a few of the older, cooler, more knowledgeable people in the shop liked it. So I went home and told my parents that they were wrong and I was right because The Carpenters were now really cool, so there.

* From here on, rather than typing “older, cooler, more knowledgeable people” I will abbreviate it to “o.c.m.k.”


“Buffalo” by Stump

I’d seen Stump on The Tube a while before and been confused, yet intrigued. Noticing a new single arriving on the racks I remember plucking up the courage to ask Mark (o.c.m.k.) to put it on. After that one play, it was decided that the good folk of Guildford weren’t ready to hear a weird man shouting about big bottoms and fish early on a Monday morning. But that one listen was enough for me to decide I was going to buy that single and both the bands albums too. Perhaps my tastes had already been prepared for such weirdness by my love of The Sugarcubes where Bjork’s unearthly beautiful voice was counterpointed by an insane bloke playing trumpet very badly and shouting about lobsters and custard.


“Anything For You” by Gloria Estefan

This album had loads of hit singles and stayed in the charts for ages. Exactly the kind of music an NME / Melody Maker reading indie kid like me was supposed to hate. Secretly I bloody loved the big soppy ballads “Can’t Stay Away From You” and especially this one. I think it’s the chord change on the 4th line of the verse that gets me. How strange the change from major to minor as Cole Porter put it.


“I Thank U” by Adeva

Didn’t think soulful house tracks were my cup of tea either but I loved this one.


“You Set The Scene” by Love

Not long after I started HMV released a set of 16 albums called “The Classic Collection” which were only available in HMV shops. These were limited edition LPs packaged in a box with a booklet, kind of like a Deluxe Edition before such things existed. Included in each box was a letter from Brian McLaughlin, the big kahuna at HMV. You can see the list of 16 albums at the bottom of the letter.

I already owned and loved the albums by Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix and both Elvises. Like everyone’s dad at that time, my dad owned Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” but I didn’t and still don’t like it. As already mentioned, he had quite a few Motown albums so I was already a big fan of Marvin and especially Stevie. My elder brother had a Who greatest hits double album which I also loved and the songs from “Who’s Next” were my favourites.

But being a good company man, I thought I’d better listen to all the ones I’d never heard. The Led Zeppelin and Neil Young ones were pretty good but I think both of them have made much better albums. Like every Doors album, “L.A. Woman” has some great songs and some shit songs. I have no recollection whatsoever of listening to the Jean Michel Jarre one. I didn’t like The Eagles.

I would’ve sworn that “Forever Changes” was one of the Classic Collection but I just checked and it wasn’t. However it was an album that the o.c.m.k. staff raved about and played instore quite a bit. I was a bit wary of it at first, the cover looked very hippy and my Ramones-loving little punk rock heart beat in strict 4/4 time. Hadn’t I been warned to never trust a hippy. They’re the enemy, aren’t they? But I knew the first song “Alone Again Or” from The Damned’s very faithful cover. If The Damned like it then surely it’s ok to give it a try? The strings, brass and psychedelic lyrics soon got their many hooks into me and I bought my own copy on tape, then later on CD, then later on CD again when the double CD version came out. In 2003 I was lucky enough to see Arthur Lee play the album in full.


“Vertigo” by Bernard Herrmann

This was the first film soundtrack I can remember buying.

We used to receive our pay every week in cash which is a very good way of ensuring the staff then give a large proportion of their wages back to the company buying up tapes, vinyl etc that had caught their ear during the week. I’m sure I would’ve spent the whole lot instore every week were it not for the “Loans” system. This was a brilliant perk of the job that meant that each evening when leaving work you were allowed to sign out 3 items of stock to be returned the next day (having taped them overnight of course). The shop had a large collection of films on VHS and my mates and me began having regular Saturday evening “film nights.” Manager Andy (o.c.m.k.) really knew his stuff about film and gave us some great recommendations. During these years we watched the entire back catalogue of favourite directors like David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma, Terry Gilliam, Woody Allen, John Waters, Coen Brothers, Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock as well as countless daft exploitative horror films like “Attack of the Crab Monsters” and “Maniac Cop”


“2 Hype” by Kid n Play

Never actually heard any music by Kid n Play in my life. But I remember that Andy G (o.c.m.k.) and Rob (o.c.m.k.) would often stroll over to the K section, hold this album cover up in the air. Then we’d all giggle at the silly haircuts and the facial expression of the bloke on the left (Kid presumably)


“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor

The problem with very successful hit songs is that you hear them so much you get fed up of them. But I never ever tire of hearing this and I’m sure I never will. My favourite number 1 single of the 1990s.


“Doolittle” by Pixies

“Surfer Rosa” was the only record that every single one of my friends liked. We thought this new album wasn’t going to be as good. We were wrong about that. My favourite album released during my time at HMV.

A few weeks later they were the first band I saw at my first Glastonbury. I think so anyway. They might have been the second, can’t remember if they were before or after Throwing Muses that day.


“Abandon” “Hey Venus” “Sensitize” by That Petrol Emotion

This was a very popular album with the staff and we played it loads. Everyone seemed convinced that this was the album to finally make TPE into the big selling band they deserved to be. But despite a succession of great singles, some excellent remixes and a big promotional push by their label Virgin it just didn’t happen.


“I Am The Resurrection” by The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses album is now heralded as one of the classics of the era but it wasn’t that much of a big deal when it first came out. My colleague Billy (o.c.m.k.) had seen them live somewhere and returned wide-eyed and proclaiming them as the future. I’d heard the “Made of Stone” single. I liked it, maybe because I loved The Cult’s “Love” album and the guitars reminded me a bit of that. We put the album on in the shop as soon as it arrived that Monday morning and I remember enjoying it, particularly the guitar solos. But to me it didn’t sound particularly different from lots of other indie guitar bands of the day and I didn’t really understand why people seemed so excited about this one band. But then at the end of the album it got far more interesting and I can clearly remember clearly hearing the instrumental section at the end of “I Am The Resurrection” for the first time. This was something different. Still indie but it’s also psychedelic, it’s also funky! The Stone Roses made even better records when they took themselves further into funky town with “Fool’s Gold” and it’s equally brilliant b-side “What The World Is Waiting For” and even some tracks on the unfairly derided “Second Coming” album.


“My Name Is Not Susan” by Whitney Houston

Whitney’s beau calls out another woman’s name in his sleep.

Like Lisa Stansfield’s “I may not be a lady but I’m all woman” the lyrics are terrible but I still have a soft spot for it.


“Fisherman’s Blues” by The Waterboys

I have good friends who still haven’t got over the musical left-turn the Waterboys took with this album. They left behind the “Big music” of the brilliant “This Is The Sea” album for a new sound that that the music press, always keen to categorise and pigeonhole, dubbed “raggle taggle”

This album sent me off down various musical avenues. The cover of “Sweet Thing” prompted me into buying “Astral Weeks” and subsequently a load of other albums by the aforementioned Van Morrison. The song “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” and their cover of “Lost Highway” on the b-side of the “Fisherman’s Blues” single made me loan out a compilation “Hank Williams 40 Greatest Hits” which in turn led me to a whole load of discoveries in the previously uncharted waters of country music.


“She Makes My Day” by Robert Palmer

I really didn’t like Robert Palmer. I thought he was a ludicrous old man obsessed with singing about how sexy he was and that his horrendous watered down blues-rock records only sold because he put lots of attractive women in his videos. But annoyingly I really, really like this one song of his.


“The Short Answer” by Billy Bragg

Apart from Joe Strummer, my biggest idol in those days was Billy Bragg. I went to see his gigs whenever I could so when his album “Worker’s Playtime” came out, I’d already heard quite a few of the songs live. On the Monday morning it came out, I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard this song (in the corner by the tapes) with BB’s best opening line “between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary, there was Mary.” I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud at the rhyming of “spouses” with “trousers” too.

At a Bragg gig sometime around this period, I bought myself a t-shirt with the slogan “Capitalism is killing music” proudly emblazoned on it. Several of my colleagues pointed out to me how ridiculous it was to wear that while working in a high street record shop. They were quite right of course but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from continuing to wear it.


“I Wish U Heaven” by Prince

I already had Prince’s recent album “Lovesexy” on tape when I started at HMV and I still think it’s one of his best albums. The 10 minute remixed version of “I Wish U Heaven” was released as a single called “I Wish U Heaven (Part 1 2 3)” and it is just about my favourite Prince track of all time. Not available on Spotify unfortunately!

A while after that the video “Lovesexy Live” was released and upon entering our shop customers were treated to the sight of a lifesize naked cardboard cutout of Prince. Guess who took that home a few weeks later?

My bedroom, sometime around 1989


“Happiness” by The Beloved

The musical tastes of the staff at HMV were fairly diverse. There were goths, ravers, punks, folkies, soul boys, indie kids and various crossovers of those. Even so there seemed to be certain albums that everyone liked and The Beloved’s was definitely one of them.

Other albums I remember (perhaps inaccurately?) as being universally liked:

  • “Goodbye Jumbo” by World Party
  • “Seal” by Seal
  • “Club Classics Volume 1” by Soul to Soul
  • “Sunshine on Leith” by The Proclaimers
  • “Into the Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty
  • “Raw Like Sushi” by Neneh Cherry
  • “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians
  • “Listen Without Prejudice” by George Michael
  • “Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe” by Lloyd Cole
  • “Foxbase Alpha” by Saint Etienne
  • “Bandwagonesque” by Teenage Fanclub
  • “Love and Life” by Definition of Sound
  • “Woodface” by Crowded House
  • “Def Dumb and Blonde” by Deborah Harry
  • “Electronic” by Electronic
  • “Ingenue” by k.d. lang


“A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy Parts 17-24” by Momus

“Doing It For The Kids” was a sampler album released by the Creation label. I bought it because it had a song by Razorcuts on it and I’d really liked their song “Sorry to Embarrass You” which I had on a Melody Maker “Indie Top 20” compilation. Also I bought it because at £1.99 it was very cheap. But even at that price I remember being fairly underwhelmed by most of it. There were tracks by soon-to-be big names Primal Scream and The House of Love but neither of them made much of an impression. One song completely blew me away though, a drum machine and synth based track with sardonic lyrics. Imagine the Pet Shop Boys if they made an album with a budget of a fiver. Seeking out the album it came from “Tender Pervert” I discovered even better, even weirder songs like “Love On Ice” and “The Homosexual”

I first discovered dozens of other great bands via other independent label compilations of the time from Blast First, Food, El, Fire, Zippo, Setanta and 4AD.


“Organ Grinder’s Swing” by Jimmy Smith

Another £1.99 label sampler that took me off down musical paths I might never have otherwise braved. “A Sample of Blue Notes” opened my ears to jazz or at least some of it. I still think that most jazz is self-indulgent pretentious twiddly-diddly showoff bollocks. But a small percentage of it is really good! The stuff you can dance to. Following on from this sampler, I bought a whole load of jazz stuff, particularly Jimmy Smith who I caught live a couple of times at the Jazz Café in Camden. I started going to acid jazz nights at the Africa Centre and Electric Ballroom as well as the indie discos I’d been going to for a while. It wasn’t always well received though. I remember once putting an Art Blakey tape on in my car once and one of my mates asked “why are you listening to the music from Snoopy?”

Check out Jimmy Smith’s “Root Down and Get It” as well, sampled for one of the Beastie Boys greatest ever songs.


“Kennedy” by The Wedding Present

For some reason, record sales only counted towards the charts in certain shops and ours was one of them. So we used to get a lot of sales reps from various record companies and distributors coming in to hype up their new releases. Sometimes they’d give us free tickets for gigs but a lot of the time they were for gigs at the nearby Civic Hall which didn’t really get anyone decent. I’d first heard The Wedding Present on the “Indie Top 20” cassette mentioned above and I’d taped their album “George Best” from my mate Ralphy. When their first album for a major label “Bizarro” was released, an RCA rep came in with free tickets for their gig that night at Kilburn National Ballroom. There was a pecking order for these freebies and I was very pleased that none of the more senior staff wanted to go. I rang up Ralphy and off we went to our first ever free gig! Living the dream.


“Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs

When I’d started the vinyl shelves were in the centre of the shop and they were the first racks you saw on entering. Tapes were on a long wall nearby and CDs were tucked away around a corner.

Then one day word came from on high that we were to swap around the CDs and the vinyl. I think the general feeling among the staff was that this was a waste of time. These new-fangled CDs were never going to take off, they’re far too expensive. At the time a new release CD would be priced at £10.99 and the vinyl and tape versions would be around £5.99. The record companies had been saying for a long time that the prices would eventually be the same. I naively thought that meant that they’d start bringing down the prices of the CDs. But what they did instead was put up the prices of the tapes and albums. It wasn’t a very gradual increase either, all of a sudden they started charging the shops the same price for tapes and vinyl (around 8 quid) as they did for CDs. What was that again about capitalism killing music?

Around the same time, CD singles were beginning to be sold at the same price as the 7” version but usually with more tracks included.

I resisted buying a CD player for quite a while. I bought quite a lot of vinyl but I mainly bought tapes because they were the most portable format and could be listened to anywhere. I’d started to notice that some of my favourite bands were releasing songs on CD singles that you couldn’t get anywhere else. The 3” CD single version of “Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs had a track called “Party of God” on it that wasn’t on either the 7” or 12” version. Not only that but the song was a collaboration with Billy Bragg. Plus it was packaged in a fancy case that was shaped like an elephant! This was the final straw so I bought the CD single. The flimsy elephant case fell apart soon after but the little CD is still going strong.

I also bought 6 CDs of my favourite albums that I already owned on other formats. Those were “London Calling” “Sign ‘o’ The Times” “Geno” “London 0 Hull 4” “Surfer Rosa / Come On Pilgrim” and “Substance.” The last 3 of those all came with loads of extra songs that weren’t on the versions I had on tape or record.

It took me a few months to save up to buy something to play it on so I had all these CDs for quite a while before I bought myself a fancy new Aiwa midi system. My dad helped me wallmount the speakers and whenever people came round I’d dazzle them with the crystal clear sound and the fancy stereo effects at the start of “Bizarre Love Triangle”

They’d probably have been more impressed if they hadn’t been distracted by the lifesize naked Prince lurking nearby.


“Disintegration” by The Cure

With big new releases like this, we’d get people queuing outside the door before the shop opened on a Monday morning. The problem with this was that the couriers who delivered the new releases quite often didn’t arrive until halfway through the morning. Sometimes they delivered to the Our Price shop down the road first so people would unfortunately go and spend their money there instead.


“Human Touch” / “Lucky Town” by Bruce Springsteen

To overcome the courier problem, if there was a really big release coming out one of the staff would go and pick it up in person. I remember someone getting up very early on a Monday morning to go and collect a load of Michael Jackson “Black or White” singles so we had them out on the racks when we opened up at 9 o’clock.

A few weeks later, Bruce Springsteen was releasing 2 albums on the same day. Being a big Bruce fan, I volunteered to go and collect the stock from the Sony warehouse. That was somewhere in Basingstoke, a place I had never been to before or had any reason to return to since. No satnav in them days kids so I’ve no idea how I found the place but somehow I did. Getting back in my car I excitedly put a cassette of the album into the stereo.  How lucky was I, getting to hear this album before anybody else!

Oh hang on, it’s not very good is it.

The wider world agreed and quite a lot of that initial stock was still unshifted when I left!


“Abstain!” by Five Thirty

For the first half of my time at HMV I worked on the albums counter. Then I spent a couple of years at the singles counter which is where the shop’s stereo system was. So whoever was on the singles counter got to choose what was played instore! I used this power to play “Abstain!” several times a day.

The other thing about working in singles was that you got to meet the sales reps from the record companies. They would play you new singles before they came out and try and persuade you to pre-order lots of copies. I was notoriously awful at this and seemed to possess an almost supernatural inability to spot a hit.

I remember a rep coming in from a small independent distributor with this 12” promo of a song he assured me was “really big in the clubs.” He convinced me to put it on in the shop and about 30 seconds later I took it off, pretty much laughed in his face and told him “listen mate, nobody is EVER going to buy that crap but I’ll do you a favour and take 1 copy.”

“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred went on to become a Gold single and was in the top 10 for nearly half a year!

Other notable hits I failed to see coming:

  • Number 1 for 16 weeks “Everything I Do I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams: “He hasn’t had a hit single in years, we’ll take 5 copies.”
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana: “We’ve had 3 copies of that Tad 12 inch on the rack for weeks, those Sub Pop bands just don’t sell in Guildford.”
  • “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Bombalurina. “A cover of a children’s novelty song from the 1960s over a house beat you say? Sung by Timmy Mallett? [sarcastically] Oh yeah, I’m sure that’ll sell loads. Get out of our shop right now.


“The Last Beat Of My Heart” by Siouxsie and The Banshees

I didn’t like the single “Peek-a-Boo” very much and that had been a hit. But I really loved “Peepshow” the album that it came from and I was convinced that the follow-up single was going to be a huge hit. I pre-ordered loads of copies and put it on display prominently at the front of the racks. It didn’t even make the top 40.

Here are a load more songs I thought were going to be massive hits but weren’t. Even despite frequent airplay in our shop!

  • “Sons of the Stage” by World of Twist
  • “She’s So Young” by The Pursuit of Happiness
  • “La Raza” by Kid Frost
  • “Heaven Sent An Angel” by Revolver
  • “Egg Rush / Doris Is A Little Bit Partial” by Flowered Up
  • “You’re History” by Shakespeare’s Sister
  • “Ship Ahoy” by Marxman
  • “Second Hand Clothes” by Moonshake
  • “Chlorine Dream” by Spirea X
  • “Read My Lips (Lights Out)” by The Katydids
  • “Never No More” by Blab Happy
  • “My Affair” by Kirsty MacColl
  • “Days in the Trees” by No Man
  • “You’re a Rose” by Fatima Mansions
  • “Spiritual High (State of Independence)” by Moodswings featuring Chrissie Hynde
  • “Francisca” and “Conquistador” by Espiritu
  • “Drive That Fast” by Kitchens of Distinction

Some photos of those from my 12″ single collection:


“Especially For You” by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue

We played this every day as the very last song before we closed. I think initially the idea was let’s play something really rubbish to get people out of the shop. But like Pavlov’s dog hearing the bell, repeatedly associating this with the end of the working day and freedom to go home or to the pub made us all really like it. Still makes me smile now.



  • This blog post dedicated to Graham, Andy A, Andy G, Sue, Ali, Mark, Billy, Rob, John, Kate, Jamie, Jason, Colin, Tim, Jenny, Nick, Duncan, Paul, Charlotte and anybody else I worked with who I forgot to mention in that list.


Kicker’s Musical Missive – August, 2018

Well looky here, our Kicker has gone and put together a 90 minute playlist to soundtrack/block out your Championship match of choice this weekend (or any other).

bielsa bucket

So, upturn your blue bucket, make yerself comfortable and enjoy a flexible 3-3-1-3 formation of total music.


Podcast 84: Spare Snare Special

There aren’t many musical events that could have brought our Kicker out of a self-imposed podcast retirement, but the news that one of his favourite bands had not only re-recorded a selection of their back catalogue with a certain Steve Albini at the producer’s helm, but were also letting a select few hear these tracks ahead of official release has seen the cobwebs blown off this particular sleeping giant. Ahem.


And so it is that he joins forces with Rebel Rikkit to bring you a mini-podcast celebrating the wonderful Spare Snare featuring an exclusive play of the re-recorded classic, Super Slinky, from their forthcoming Sounds LP alongside a few of his other favourites .



That physicality

That new album…

Spare Snare – Sounds (recorded by Steve Albini) – released: Friday 20th July, 2018

Spare Snare, from Dundee, Scotland, celebrated 25 years of releasing records by asking Albini if he would co-host a Scottish Engineers’ Workshop with the band, and record Spare Snare for the rest of that week. A resounding ‘YES’ was returned and funding was secured from Creative Scotland to host the workshop and record the album.

The band chose to record 10 classic Snare tracks from the catalogue that have evolved with playing live, or would suit Albini’s sound. These Albini recordings have become one of the highlights for the band, sitting nicely next to their four John Peel Sessions.

Gideon Coe at BBC6 Music and Vic Galloway of BBC Scotland have been supporting the release and playing exclusives from the album.

Excitingly, the album will only be available on 180g vinyl and has been specifically mastered and cut with the word ‘audiophile’ (and the wizard, Kicker of Elves) in mind. It will also come with a download code for the likes of Chorizo Garbanzo.

Recorded on 2 inch tape, and mixed onto half inch tape by Albini, the album was then mastered and cut by mastering legend Pete Norman. It has been pressed at the mighty Optimal plant in Germany.

The vinyl will come, polylined, in a brown reverse card spined sleeve, with a one colour print.

The band wishes to support the shops they shop in themselves (and break the bank of Kicker of Elves), and have various coloured variants available. Collect ’em all!!

ORANGE Vinyl (75 copies) – Scottish Stores Exclusive (pre-order now from Monorail)

NEON YELLOW Vinyl (75 copies) – Rough Trade Shops Exclusive (pre-order here)

PINK Vinyl (75 copies) – Fopp / HMV Shops Exclusive

CLEAR/BLACK vinyl (75 copies) – Indie Store Exclusive

 You can see their new film for the track ‘Grow’ here:
 And check out Jan’s moves to ‘I Am God’ here:
Here’s another taster from the album:


Spare Snare live: the band have a confirmed live show at the Leith Depot, Edinburgh on Saturday 18th August, there will be an Edinburgh instore during that day too.


There is also another Scottish date being announced for October and in the New Year, the band will be playing this festival and hopefully elsewhere in England.

The last time they played Liverpool for us, they sounded like this:


Read our Q&A with the band here.

Kicker of Elves’ A to Z of Spare Snare:


Contact the band on Facebook and on Twitter @Spare_Snare 

An A to Z of Spare Snare

Following on from our insightful interview with Jan Burnett from the Dundee band Spare Snare, our Kicker has spent time rummaging around the band’s back catalogue to come up with an introductory playlist for the less informed.


The fact that they have songs beginning with both X and Z in their locker meant a 26 song A to Z playlist was inevitable.

So, while you are waiting for the release of their new Steve Albini produced album (available on pre-order on different shades of vinyl here and here and here and here and, for Rebel Rikkit types, on download here), check this out…

And remember, if you want a hand-picked introduction to the band, S is for Spare Snare.


Also keep an eye out in the next few days for this. Oh, yes.


Podcast number 81: The missing podcast


Way back at the end of 2017, we recorded a new podcast.

Then like a bunch of idiots we forgot to actually put it up on the website!

Apologies for the delay but here it is for your aural delectation.





Track listing:
Mondays – 808 State
808s and Heartbreaks – The Wednesday Club
It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City – Bruce Springsteen
Bricks, Broken Bottles and Sticks – Dean Parrish
The Circle – The Dream Syndicate
Off You – The Breeders
Knife Edge – The Near Jazz Experience
The Engine – Lost Horizons
The House That Leaves You Always Wanting More – Monkeyland [brilliant video here]
French Fries With Pepper – Morphine
Everything Will Probably Be OK – The Burning Hell

Q&A with Jan Burnett (Spare Snare)

As you should all be aware by now, the wonderful Dundee band Spare Snare have a new album, Sounds, on its way (released on Friday 20 July and available on pre-order here and here and here and here) an album produced by the legendary Steve Albini. Over the next few weeks tracks from the album will be given exclusive plays on a chosen few radio shows and podcasts, and we are delighted that the band have asked us at TTW to be involved.

In advance of the release of our podcast, we took the chance to ask Jan Burnett of the band a few of our deep and meaningful philosophical questions, which we hoped wouldn’t put him off sending us a track to play. Here are his responses along with some from the rest of the band (Alan Cormack, Barry Gibson, Adam Lockhart and Graeme Ogston):


Hi Jan, how the hell are you?

Jan – I am doing rather ok, thank you.

We are very excited to hear the new album produced by Steve Albini. In your press release you talk about choosing songs that would suit the ‘Albini’ sound. Can you tell us what that is?

Jan – Our live sound can be rather boombastic compared to the original recordings, and songs mature with age too.  Keeping that in mind we were looking for a choice of tracks covering most of our 25 years that would lend themselves to something Albini could do something with, that wasn’t a duplicate of the original versions.

Was the choice of tracks to record a unilateral decision or were the rest of the band involved? Was it difficult to get it down to just 10?

Jan – We actually had 8 definites, and 2 in reserve, which we were keen to sneak in.  We didn’t expect to be doing any recording on the first Engineers’ Workshop day, but we recorded 3, and another 7 the next day.  We then had a day for overdubs and 2 days mixing.

The first track we heard from the new album was one of Kicker’s live favourites, Action Hero, the first line of which he had never quite caught, but now he thinks he’s got it. Can you confirm it’s: “My traption’s hip again, bent isn’t breaking in” and, er, what’s that all about then?

Jan – Er, no idea.  A lot of how I write is getting the sounds first, then putting words to those sounds, which often don’t make too much sense, but then eventually over time, I get it.  I reckon I’m partly discussing a record, ‘the contraption’.  It does name check my cat at the time, Abi (Abigail).  There’s a lot of Dundee in that song.

The drums on the new recordings sound huge – was this a particular area Albini brought something new to the way you have previously recorded? What else was different?

Barry – Steve Albini turned up to the recording session with a couple of suitcases of microphones and a very set idea of how he likes to record drums, including the positioning of microphones around the kit and ambient microphones around the recording room. He also had microphones on both sides of the bass drum, which I hadn’t seen before. These all appear to have had a major impact on getting that big sound on the drums. He also suggested detuning the bass drum, which had a marked effect on the sound too. It was nice thinking that some of the microphones that were recording my kit were the same ones that had recorded The Breeders, Nirvana and Shellac amongst many others. 

Jan – If there is one thing Steve is known for, it’s his drum recordings.  I was chuffed to see he wasn’t shy to reveal his mike techniques to the workshop.  Some would say radical, some would say common sense.  He was pleased we were so rehearsed, and so there was no time wasting.  I know a few folk have quizzed Paul Savage, who owns the studio (Chem19), and was, in effect Steve’s assistant for the week, about how we could record an album in 5 days.  It’s all down to rehearsing and knowing what you want.

 Adam – For me the drums was the biggest change, the way he recorded them was certainly a lesson: 13 separate mics and using the sound of the space to create ambience rather than recording them dry and adding reverb later, as is the norm with a lot of studios. The thing that impacted the most was hearing how huge the drums were in the control room compared to the actual sound of the drums in the live room. Working with analogue tape was quite refreshing, even the subtle delay on the vocals used a copycat tape reverb. There’s something quite honest about tape: it forces you to keep things simple and not to do any complex edits, that you can do with digital recording.

We have seen video footage from the Engineer’s Workshop that Albini was part of and he comes across as both hugely knowledgeable and genuinely approachable. What was your particular highlight of working with him?

Jan – I drove him everywhere, so outside the studio it was a pleasure to chat to the ‘non recording engineer’ Steve, if that makes sense.  Listening back to the mixes as Steve was doing them was a clear highlight for me, as you don’t really know, when recording, listening through the headphones, what it’s really going to sound like.

Your debut album, ‘Live At Home’, is the only one you have released on vinyl (a gorgeous 10” package, ahem) before now.


As you can imagine, Kicker is very pleased the new record is being released on vinyl (he has lined up 3 of the 5 coloured variants already) – was the decision to move away from CD to vinyl for this album down to the, er, sound, of ‘Sounds’? Is it your preferred medium?

Jan – It’s all down to finance.  The first album was financed from our publishing deal at the time.  This (new) album was partly funded by Creative Scotland.  The other albums have all been self financed.  It made sense, this being a fully analogue recording, to go down that root.  You get as close to the studio sound (particularly the bass) with this vinyl cut.   I like both CD and Vinyl, I collect both.  The type of music will sometimes nudge me towards what format I buy for the home.

Is the ‘Live’ in ‘Live At Home’ a verb or an adjective?

Jan – Ha!  Do you have the 7” of Bugs?  The insert will tell you.


how did I never see this?

You are, rightly, clearly very proud of the new record, but last year’s ‘Unicorn’ was another career highlight for us. It seemed to be a more overtly political record than previous recordings – do you think that’s a fair assessment? Is the state of the world/this country likely to be a major influence on future recordings?

Jan – Yes.  I’m often more oblique with my politics on record, but Unicorn, for whatever reason made perfect sense in all ways.  The biggest influence on me is having a near teenager daughter, and fighting for her corner in this world.  Suffice to say her opportunities have shrunk dramatically in the past couple of years, and not because of Scottish voters.

Kicker tells us that he has all your 7” singles …

thumbnail (1)

snared singles

..and has ‘As A Matter Of Fact’ as his favourite. This was flipped from the B-side of your debut single (Super Slinky) on the US (Prospective Records) release – why was this?

Jan – Nice trainspotting question.  From memory, Prospective Records preferred ‘As A Matter Of Fact’, but it was my choice.  I also think they are slightly different mixes, but don’t quote me on that. Prospective actually released a double CD of their 7” singles recently, we’re the only non U.S. act I believe.  It’s been remastered and sounds great.  Doing all the hand painted sleeves was a task, but worthwhile. 

What is your favourite single you have released? 

Jan – Both the debut 7” and Thorns would be my favourites, partly sentimental, partly, they are great songs, all four tracks.

Graeme – Sort It For Afterwards 

Alan – Smile It’s Sugar. This is a song I really love playing live. It reminds me of some great times we had in the mid 90s when we did a co-headline UK tour with The Delgados and were a part of what the NME dubbed ‘The New Scottish Underground’ along with Urusei Yatsura, Bis & The Delgados. The title is a reaction against sugar free drinks like Diet Coke and synthetic stuff like Aspartame – at least you know where you are with sugar!

Barry – Hmm difficult, but maybe both versions of Smile It’s Sugar or maybe Bruising You, which is a bit of a forgotten tune these days. 

Adam – My favourite single is Smile It’s Sugar.​​​​​​

From the very start you have self-released your music on the Chute Records label – was this borne out of necessity or a preferred way of getting your music out?

Jan – In terms of attitude and perseverance, we are rather punk.  We have never had a label come to us and say, we’ll sign you.  I did have a lunch with someone many years ago, on a rather cool, funded label, and they said ‘you know too much, just do it yourself’.  That was either a lovely, ‘no thanks’ or a fair statement.  He did ask me for lunch by the way.  I maybe put people off by saying I will only licence.  20 odd years ago that was a weird thing to do.  Now it’s common place.

Can you tell us a little about your other band, who also record on Chute, The Grand Gestures?

Jan – Shucks.  Well, I’ve killed them off.  The plan was 3 albums, a Christmas album and a Remix album.  Done.  However, I have been chatting to someone who loves the albums and is keen to do a track, so I am considering compiling an album from the previous 5, with this new track on it.  I can’t tell you who it is, but they are not Scottish and it’s a male.

What about playing live (adj)? You have announced an August date in Edinburgh, but have also suggested more will follow. Will you be playing outside Scotland in the near future? Can you see the band playing in the US again?

Jan – No plans to play the States, unless someone wishes to pay for it, but yes, other live dates.  A Glasgow date in October about to be announced, and an English date in January: we are just awaiting the green light to announce.


You’ve had a long career making music, have you got to meet some of your heroes?

Barry – We haven’t really met that many names over the years. Mr Albini was probably the biggest name we have had any interaction with and he was a decent down to earth guy to work with. 

Alan – We met Joe Strummer before we played T In The Park in 1995. 

Jan – I’d rather not, I don’t want to be disappointed.

What song would you choose to soundtrack your life aged 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50?

Alan – Aged 10: Tommy Gun – The Clash. Give ‘Em Enough Rope was the first album I ever bought. Still has a special place. In fact, Barry is known to replicate the drum intro to Tommy Gun at the end of Wired For Sound when we play it live. 

Aged 20: Schizophrenia – Sonic Youth. Probably the band that made the most impression on me musically. 

Aged 30: Peloton (album) – The Delgados. I toured Europe with them in 1998, selling their merch. They were promoting the album and hearing the same songs every night made me love it. Favourite song: Everything Goes Around The Water. 

Aged 40: Far too many to choose from. I think turning 40 made me reevaluate my musical snobbery and open my ears to stuff I’d been resisting and dismissing as shite. Also with the birth of things like Napster it allowed me to explore and sample, opening my once closed ears to a whole new world of sounds. 

Aged 50: Again, far too many to choose from. Current listing includes The Goon Sax, Alice Coltrane, Billordo… I also listen to a lot of early 80s hardcore punk when I’m out running!

 Barry – Aged 10: The Beatles – Hard Days Night 

Aged 20: Cocteau Twins – Pearly Due Drops Drop

Aged 30: Aphex Twin – Richard D James

Aged 40:  Richard Hawley – Tonight the Streets Are Ours 

Aged 50: Kamazi Washington – Harmony Of Difference

Adam – Aged 10: Call Me Al – Paul Simon

Aged 20:  Man Called Aerodynamics – Guided by Voices

Aged 30: Hot Chip – No Fit State

Aged 40:  Landmark – The Field Mice

 Jan – Aged 10: Osmonds – Crazy Horses

Aged 20: New Order – Confusion

Aged 30: Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring

Aged 40: Flaming Lips – Waitin’ For A Superman

Aged 50: Taylor Swift – Shake it Off

What bands/artists should’ve been massive but weren’t? 

Alan – I’ve always thought The Go-Betweens should have been bigger than they were. 

Adam – Guided By Voices

Graeme – Hello Saferide and Judee Sill. 

Barry – Urusei Yatsura, B.A.D. (should have been U2-sized), Clinic, especially after having tunes appearing on American T.V. shows.

What is your favourite song with a question in the title? 

Adam – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? – The Wedding Present

Jan – How Soon Is Now – reminding me of the first time I played it as a B side, hearing it at Club Feet, Dundee and being blown away by it. 

Graeme – Must You Throw Dirt in My Face? by The Louvin Brothers

Alan – The Question Is How Fast? – Superchunk or Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? – Wedding Present

We are aware that we have taken up a lot of your time, but we are contractually obliged to ask one final question. You are in a café ordering breakfast. You are given toast and your choice of tea or coffee. You are then allowed 4 more items, what do you choose?

Barry – Fried egg, veg sausage, beans and potato scone (hash brown as acceptable alternative).

Adam – Poached Eggs, Black Pudding, Bacon, Beans.

Alan – After detesting eggs my whole life, I’ve recently have food rebirth, an “eggpiphany”, so it would have to be eggs four ways. 

Jan – Sausage (link), Black Pudding, Potato Scone, Fried Egg.  NO TOMATO or TINNED MUSHROOMS EVER.


yummy, apparently

And with that we will let you go. Thanks so much for answering our questions. What are you going to do now?

Jan – Listen to Disc three of the new Flaming Lips Warners Years compilation.

Contact the band on Facebook and on Twitter @Spare_Snare 

And coming soon…..


Live review: The 99 Degree, Paper Buoys, Circus Wolves + more #NorthByNorthwich @ The Gladstone Club

You have to look a long way down the list of famous musical towns before you get to Northwich. The town’s sole representatives in the annals of musical history are The Charlatans. Singer Tim Burgess is from nearby Moulton, the band initially met there in Omega record shop (Spinal Tap: “don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore”) and a photo of the cafe on Witton Street was used on the cover of the compilation Melting Pot.

They returned to CW9 for a week of gigs at Memorial Court, a building that hosted some legendary gigs in the distant past. The Beatles played here 6 times, but these days it is mainly used as a leisure centre (the water slides are ace!)

Along with their own gigs, the band put on a whole load of other events around the town creating a kind of mini Fringe. I live just a few miles from Northwich and whilst the town has a decent live music scene for covers bands and open mic nights, there are no venues whatsoever that put on “proper” gigs. In the 6 years I’ve lived round here there has not been a single gig I’ve wanted to go to. Until tonight when, like the metaphorical buses, 3 came along at the same time!

With people travelling from all over the world to be here, I decided not to even try to get tickets for The Charlatans gig. Better to let one of the band’s true devotees go to that than a casual fan like me. Indie legends The BMX Bandits were playing at The Salty Dog but I opted to get a ticket the Gladstone Club where a whole load of up-and-coming bands were playing.

The Gladstone Club is an old school Phoenix Nights-style club complete with silvery tinsel curtain at the back of the stage. I’ve played gigs here myself and also at the Wings ex-serviceman’s Club over the road and our covers of Buddy, Chuck, Elvis, The Big O etc went down very well with an audience old enough to remember those songs the first time around. Unsurprisingly none of that crowd were here tonight.

First up were The Delights. Most of their songs were propelled along very well by some great bass lines played high up on the neck. Peter Hook would approve, even if he might object to the bass being held high up on the chest, the very antithesis of Hook’s low-slung style. Really enjoyed the instrumental track, reminiscent of one of the funkier tracks from The Stone Roses’ unfairly derided Second Coming, an album these boys are definitely too young to remember. The rest of their songs made good use of distorted guitar sounds. They would’ve been even better with the vocals a bit louder in the mix but definitely ones to watch out for.

The Delights at The Gladstone Club Northwich 18th May 2018


Next up were Paper Buoys. Beards all round here, except for the drummer who possibly has the surname Beard. The singer played some abrasive trebly Black Francis style rhythm guitar on most tracks and their songs, especially the faster ones, are tuneful and memorable. They played a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” which made me smile when I realised I’ve covered the same song on that same stage! The cutting guitars and energetic rhythm section were reminiscent of the brilliant Future of the Left at times, but they also have some more instantly accessible songs like “Headshot” and the anthemic set-closer “Wasted.”

Paper Buoys at The Gladstone Club Northwich 18th May 2018


Now on to the main reason I wanted to come to this gig. Duck, you suckers, here come The 99 Degree. We played their song “Dead or Alive” on our podcast number 67 back in 2016 and I’ve been keeping an eye on their social media channels ever since trying to find an opportunity to catch them live.

Not quite sure how a bunch of lads from Manchester end up writing songs about the good, the bad and the ugly Wild West but the fact that they do keeps this lovin’ brother happy. The songs are dominated by the twangy lead guitar lines played on guitarist Phil’s Gretsch that looks and sounds both big and beautiful. Ry Cooder in a Mexican standoff with Dick Dale and Ennio Morricone. Hawaiian shirted singer Joe has a touch of Shaun Ryder in his half-sung half-spoken delivery, occasionally a bit of Birthday Party era Nick Cave as well. They opened with “Losing My Mind” from their recent Boot Hill Surf Club EP, catchy with a brilliant guitar solo. Joe stepped off the stage and prowled the dancefloor giving the stories all the drama and menace they deserve.

The 99 Degree at The Gladstone Club Northwich 18th May 2018


The highlight for me was an as yet unrecorded song called “Bed of Bones” but the whole show was great, pity there weren’t more people here to see and hear them. Their “Boot Hill Surf Club” EP was being given out after the gig for free but I think it’s easily good enough to be sold for a few dollars more.

At this point my faithful compadre The Lancashire Toreador and I were in need of some food so unfortunately we missed the next couple of bands.

We returned as another band were setting up and noticing the singer’s choice of trouser we came to the conclusion that white jeans should only ever be worn if both the following conditions are met: a) it is 1977 b) you are Mick Jones.

But we felt bad for our mild piss-taking once we heard him sing. Fucking hell, what a voice. A powerful force with a great falsetto, a bit Tim Booth, a bit Morrissey, a bit Billy Mackenzie. William, this is really something. The band are called Circus Wolves and it’s by no means all about the vocals, the band are exceptional too. More good beardage and shirts on display here. Does anyone else remember mid-90s Suede labelmates Geneva? They’re like a louder and more aggressive version of that. Currently they have just 3 songs on Spotify but all 3 of them are excellent.


Circus Wolves at The Gladstone Club Northwich 18th May 2018


Last band of the night were Control of the Going. They looked great but sorry to say neither me or The Lancashire Toreador found them particularly engaging. A bit too Controlled, not enough to get us Going. Their songs just seemed to be a bit too predictable and indie-rock-by-numbers to our ears. Having said that, they got probably the best reception of all the bands on so what do we know?

Even so a great evening’s entertainment with 3 bands in particular (Paper Buoys, The 99 Degree, Circus Wolves) worth the price of admission by themselves.

Have a listen for yourself on this playlist.


The following morning I came back into town to go to the “Vinyl Adventures” record fair in the Plaza bingo hall. I’ve walked past here many times but never been inside. Don’t think this building is used for anything these days, not even bingo. This is a tragedy because it’s a beautiful art deco building with a big stage. Unfortunately I was here too late to catch Tony “Longfella” Walsh. His brilliant poetry was a highlight of the Bob Dylan 50th anniversary concert I went to a couple of years ago and since then his poem “This Is The Place” went viral in the wake of last year’s Ariana Grande bomb attack.

I don’t currently have a working record player so I’ve temporarily banned myself from buying any vinyl priced over a quid. CDs only for me today and nobody’s buying them these days, so I’m not going to end up paying silly money for anything. Picked up some bargains including a couple of CDs from the lovely folk from The Reckless Yes label.


I also saw a vinyl copy of “Johnny Cash At San Quentin” selling for 100 quid! Taking the piss, surely? When I was a kid, everyone’s dad had that album so how can that possibly be a rare record?

Next I walked down to see the Charlatans exhibition in Barons Quay. There were an interesting selection of old diaries, flyers, posters and even instruments on display there and just like at the record fair, lots of interesting people and fellow music obsessives to chat with.



Hats off to The Charlatans for organising an event like this.

There’s usually so little going on in Northwich that seeing the likes of Mark Radcliffe and Norman Blake around town is quite a shock. See the same faces at a gig in Manchester and you wouldn’t even bat an eyelid! We saw John Robb at the train station but then again that’s not that surprising because he seems to pop up at pretty much every gig I go to! Stop stalking me John!

Is it too optimistic to think that this might herald the start of a new era of live music for the town? Probably yes but although there were definitely many people visiting Northwich from far away places this week, the huge majority of people I spoke to were fairly local. I spoke to music fans from Crewe, Helsby, Middlewich, Tarvin, Macclesfield, Congleton, Warrington and Knutsford. I’m sure that, like me, these people regularly travel to Liverpool and Manchester to see gigs, sometimes also to Wrexham, Preston, Stoke, Leeds, Birmingham, Holmfirth etc.

We’ve seen this week that are several really good venues right here in Cheshire that aren’t being used for much. Now that people have seen what can be done with these venues maybe some promoters will start putting on more quality live music around here. There’s certainly an audience for it. If you build it, they will come.

P.S. since initially writing this, it has been pointed out to me that The Charlatans are not the only musicians of note to come from Northwich. It turns out that Rupert Holmes was also born in the town. What do you mean, who’s Rupert Holmes? He’s the man responsible for “Escape” a.k.a. “The Pina Colada Song.” That song is either the very worst or the very best lyric of in the entire history of popular music. I’ve never quite been able to decide which.


More of our gig reviews can be found here and here.

New album review: Fire Behind The Curtain by Adam Stafford

The album title comes from a line in “Strangers Care When You Burn” whose story takes place at a wake with the narrator reflecting on the funeral with words like “a life summarised by a stranger in 30 minutes.” It’s the kind of powerful observational poetry former Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat does very well but here it is the only non-instrumental track on the album. For the rest of the album, it’s down to the music alone to create the mood. The album is dedicated to “anyone who has ever been hungover, down-and-out, running from themselves, running for their life, trapped in prisons internal/external” and its creator has had a long struggle with depression and severe dyslexia.   There are signs of struggle throughout, tension between the harmonious and the discordant and Stafford uses a dizzying sonic palette to achieve this atmosphere.

Most of the tracks are built around the 3 R’s as defined by The Fall: “repetition repetition and repetition.” Opening track “An Abacus Designed To Calculate Infinity” starts with a simple repeating figure music-box figure and a string quartet, soon joined by a buoyant piano line and a jaunty whistled melody. Two minutes into the album and I’m already hearing echoes of New York minimalism, classic film scores “Requiem for a Dream” and the carillon from “For a Few Dollars More”, Bjork’s “Vespertine” experiments with music-boxes and turn-of-the-millenium grab-bag anything-goes sample traders like Lemon Jelly and The Avalanches. By the time the track has concluded we’ve also heard distorted drum machines and sheets of MBV-like guitar noise.


Snaking guitar lines phasing and shifting over each other kick off “Zero Disruption” and are later joined by a choir reminiscent of Trio Bulgarka’s contributions to Kate Bush’s “The Sensual World” album or the fantastic all-female choir Bjork toured with a few years ago. Stafford took the track’s title from a self-help relaxation CD and says “the voices are meant to sound like alarms going off, and the track as a whole is based on panic and auditory hallucinations.” Conversely, I found it one of the most light-hearted calming pieces on the album. Have a listen for yourself here.


Another of the album’s more accessible tracks is “Sails Cutting Through An Autumn Night” which takes shape around a straightforward repetition of B and E and adds more and more overlapping layers of melodic invention and had me thinking of both The Durutti Column and Zbigniew Preisner’s brilliant and beautiful score for “The Secret Garden.”

The most straightforward “rock” and the only track to feature an actual 4/4 drumbeat is the charmingly titled “Museum of Grinding Dicks” which features a repeated bluesy riff. The combination of primal drums, bass guitar and saxophone calls to mind the much-missed Morphine and when the rest of the percussion kicks in it could be the Bad Seeds or Polly Harvey in full on talking-to-fish-about-her-drowned-daughter mode.

Far more challenging and disturbing music can be found on tracks like “Penshaw Monument” where effects-laden beatboxing and indistinguishable chanted words combine with animalistic shrieks, bird calls and weird distorted Exorcist-style incantations for nearly 11 minutes. Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.

Oh dear, what has Maradona done now?


Equally unusual but probably my favourite track on the album is “Witch Hunt.” Clocking in at 9 minutes, it starts with a repeated triplet guitar figure similar to Portishead’s brilliant “The Rip” and features more beatboxing, strings, several electric guitars, a choir singing “la la la”s and some weird cuckoo noises. Following the quiet-loud-quiet formula very well, it is consistently interesting and like Steve Reich’s music that clearly influenced it, you hear new melodies and interactions between phrases on every listen.

A special mention is required for The Pumpkinseeds string quartet and in particular their cellist and arranger Pete Harvey. This album would be very good without the strings but it is these arrangements that make the album into something really special. From the light rhythmic pizzicato of “Rivers Searches Into The Night” to the sinister microtonal “Fanfare For The Mourning Tallow” the strings are never cliched or predictable. They often leave you feeling unsettled or at times plain fucking terrified. This is particularly the case with “Invade They Say Fire” which features grindingly repetitive motifs creating a nightmarish atmosphere, like Bernard Herrmann stuck in a tumble dryer. But then again if you’re trying to create an aural illustration of mental illness then this is exactly what you need. For what is depression if not a succession of grindingly repetitive motifs creating a nightmarish atmosphere?


“Fire Behind The Curtain” was released last Friday on Song By Toad records. 

Stream and order the album below.



More of our album reviews can be found here and here.




The last day of the Championship season

To celebrate(?) the last day of the Championship, each of the wizards has chosen a song to sum up their team’s season.

Leeds  qprBolton-Wanderers



Kicker of Elves (Leeds United)

“I dare not say the way I feel about your inability to suck it up and win the match”
Top of the league after 7 games and then we lost. To Millwall. And that, seemingly, was that. Our captain and self-styled hard man, Liam Cooper, announces just before the end of the season that “the Millwall defeat in September hit the players hard and they haven’t ever truly recovered from that.” Oh. Fucking. Grow. Up.
In a season where our best player was banned for 6 games for spitting. we got knocked out in the cup by a fourth division side from Wales, thought it was a good idea to prepare for our centenary year with a change of badge designed by someone who clearly had never been to West Yorkshire, but probably had had heartburn, our stand out performance was against Millwall again. And we lost. Again.
Of course, we changed manager and, of course, that made things worse and now we see fit to take our pathetic team to a war-torn country in the name of ‘selling the brand’. Haven’t those poor people suffered enough?
“Of course I’m not complaining, I’m simply dying…”



Chorizo Garbanzo (QPR)

As our League position illustrates it’s been a mixed season for QPR. We’ve never looked remotely like going up or down and that’s fine by me, especially considering the huge self-inflicted hangover the club now have to endure following the disastrous and idiotic over-spending during the Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp eras.
Results at Fortress Loftus Road have been largely positive, only 5 teams have won more home games than us. Away matches have been dire with just 3 wins all season, worse than any other team in the division bar one (more details below). Seeing as these days I live 200 miles from Shepherds Bush and go to far more away games than home games, I consider myself very lucky to have witnessed one of those rare away wins (3-1 v Burton Albion)
The main positive of this season has been emergence of several youngsters who are beginning to establish themselves as first team regulars. Six players aged 21 or under have scored for the first team this season, more than any other team in the division. Maybe it’s still true that “you can’t win anything with kids” but you can attain mid-table mediocrity if the kids are alright!





Rebel Rikkit (Bolton Wanderers)
The exhilaration of promotion was not expected to last and so it was that after 10 games we propped up the table with no wins and only 2 points.  Lets just recap that: after 17% of all the games had been played we had not won one.  Imagine what that was like for a season ticket holder week after frustrating week.
Then the freewheeling, man mountain centre-forward is persuaded to go give up drinking alcohol and our form turns.  All of a sudden the sniggering behind the hand at the chant “Gary Madine Goal Machine” didn’t seem such a good idea.  The goals came not just from Gary’s usually unreliable head but tap-ins, pile-drivers and even free kicks bent round the wall from 30 yards.  By the transfer window we were 6 points away from the relegation zone, the boardroom squabbles were settled, the wage bill was manageable and everything at the club seemed rosy.  There was just a small matter of a £6 million loan to be paid at the end of the season if only we could find a way out of that. Oh that’s right we could sell Gary Madine!! What could possible go wrong?
We head to the last game second from bottom and face almost certain relegation. Only one song can sum this up…





Related posts on this website:

Happy birthday Kicker of Elves

Last month saw our founding wizard Kicker of Elves reach his half century. That left us other 2 wizards wondering what we could get him as a present.

As evidenced by the name of this very website and his chosen name, Kicker of Elves is obsessed with the band Guided By Voices. He also loves collecting rare vinyl. So we decided to combine these 2 passions and make him a Guided By Voices record that was truly unique because there’s only one copy of it in the world, thereby making Kicker of Elves the Martin Shkreli of GBV collectors!

Both songs are available for free download here.


Track 1: Subspace Biographies by The Malibu Storks


Over to The Malibu Storks a.k.a. Chorizo Garbanzo…

In the absence of an actual drummer I decided to programme the drums using Sonic Pi. This meant abandoning my original idea of covering “In a Circle” because its 6/8 time signature was messing with my head.

Then I remembered Kicker’s blog post in which he named “Subspace Biographies” as his favourite Robert Pollard song so I decided to do that instead. The drum beats and the rather un-GBV bassline were heavily influenced by “Neon Lights” by Kraftwerk, a favourite of mine when out running. I programmed that in about 600 lines of Sonic Pi code. That sounds more impressive than it is and I’m sure a more experienced and effective Sonic Pi user could do it in far less!

The twangy guitar bit is my homage to Glen Campbell who covered the Guided by Voices song “Hold On Hope” on one of his last albums. In the true spirit of Pollardian lo-fi, all of my vocal and guitar parts were done in one take.


Track 2: Teenage F.B.I. by Rebel Rikkit


Rebel Rikkit writes…

About a decade ago Kicker of Elves started bombarding me with GBV tracks initially on CD mixes. These evolved into shared drives and then onto Spotify playlists and blog posts. By this stage he was bombarding not just me, but the rest of the world. Lest we forget that every day in 2014 he published a blog post showcasing 2 GBV tracks each. It worked of course as a whole stack of GBV tunes are now amongst my firm favourites. But which to choose for the contribution to a Kicker dedicated vinyl record. Well, there must always be criteria so see below.

1. I must like the song
2. Kicker must like the song (could not be certain on this point, I assumed he likes them all)
3. I must be able to play and sing it with my limited musical ability

Fortunately there are a lot on online GBV resources to help you so I took to research some of my favourites. Echos Myron, Smothered in Hugs, Tractor Rape Chain, Glad Girls were all considered and dismissed as being too hard to sing. There were plenty more that fell into this bracket or where the guitar just didn’t sound right. Then the lightbulb moment of course, a simple “3 chords and the truth” rock and roll song that allowed a bit of vocal latitude where passion could mask a lack of ability. Or so I thought until I realised that there is what I imagine someone who knew a bit more about music than me would call a key change in the last verse. But too late, I was in too deep so I launched my vocal chords into action and hoped for the best to create a performance that has been called a cross between George Formby and Elvis Costello (esteemed company indeed).

A strange footnote was that Kicker liked my effort but didn’t like the original so the enterprise failed on criteria 2. That left me feeling like a Hot Freak with a Half Smile of The Decomposed to such and extent that I Did The Collapse.


  • If you want to get your own record pressed we heartily recommend you do it with www.cutsy.co.uk


Other Guided by Voices related posts on this website: 

New album review: Replica Figures by John MOuse

What an intriguing album this is.

The opening track “The End of Mankind” starts with a retro-sounding drum machine and a catchy but somewhat off-kilter guitar/keyboard riff. The verses are spoken and describe a novel in which there’s “a writer writing about a writer writing about a writer.” MOuse’s soft Welsh tones immediately remind me of John Cale’s narration on The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift.” But the story MOuse retells is definitely not for the squeamish and it makes Cale’s story of Waldo Jeffers intra-parcel death sound like a child’s bedtime story! Punctuating the horrific scenes of the verses, the chorus cheerily poses the question “is this the end of mankind?”

This nifty trick of bizarre spoken word verses coupled with a catchy chorus is repeated on the track “The King And Jesus Ganged Up On Me” which starts with an unsettling exchange in a men’s urinal and concludes with a football match where the pitch is invaded by God himself. If you’ve enjoyed the spoken word tracks that have been the highlights of recent albums by I Ludicrous and Half Man Half Biscuit (see playlist below) then you definitely need to hear this album.

A recurring theme in the album’s lyrics is the past. Indeed in the song “Memory” MOuse asks his memory “why are you mean to me?” and begs it to “leave him alone!”

Specifically the way that we remember the distant past and how those formative memories may or may not correspond with reality is examined in “Magnetic Frames On The Boiler” and idyllic childhood seaside holidays are recalled on the “Bunk Beds and Broken Sleeps.”

“Six decades in and I’m still in my 40s” sings MOuse at one point, only possible if you were born in 1969 I suppose.  That lyric comes in the middle of a Bullseye speedboat-load of 80s cultural references and another killer drum machine pattern sounding right off one of those Street Sounds Electro compilation cassettes.

The acoustic “Sue” is deliberately daft but endearing all the same. A kind-of follow up song to The Beautiful South’s “Song for Whoever” it could alternatively be titled “The Continuing Adventures of Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue” and includes additional nods to Pulp and Johnny Cash.

Whilst the humour is well executed here and on other aforementioned songs, my favourite songs on the album are the more serious ones.

Album closer “Gladiator / Contender” seems to be about being with a dying loved one whilst banal Saturday evening ITV plays in the background. A father and son maybe? It’s very possible I’m reading too much into it but the familiar words “Contender are you ready? Gladiator are you ready?” are re-contextualised here taking on a deeper meaning. To the son, the contender, are you ready to face up to responsibility, to be the head of the family? To the father, the gladiator, are you ready to face death? As if to emphasise the inter-generational theme, there seems to be a child singing with MOuse on these lines. A really clever song built out of such a simple idea.

The spirit of Felt can be er, felt on the album’s more uptempo tracks “The Fire Burns” and the aforementioned “Bunk Beds and Broken Sleeps” which reminds me particularly of their wonderful final album “Me And A Monkey On The Moon” and the keyboard playing of Martin Duffy. A different kind of a piano part dominates another album highlight “With These Hands I’ll Rip Out Your Heart.” Here a short Michael Nyman-like figure repeats throughout creating a dreamy atmosphere. The lyrics refer to the parent / child relationship again and back comes that theme of memory as MOuse yearns for the past with lines like “I long for the days when you fell asleep to the test card, I long for the days when you didn’t pay with a cash card.”  This sense of melancholy and something having been lost forever resonates through the album in a similar vein to much of ex-Baby Bird man Stephen Jones‘ recent output.

The album is produced by Stephen Black a.k.a. Sweet Baboo who has produced some of Euros Childs’ albums and also plays bass with the brilliant Cate Le Bon. In fact “Replica Figures” has a similar feel to a more lo-fi version of those artists. Well worth investigating further. Click the link below to stream / buy the album.


Playlist of Half Man Half Biscuit / I Ludicrous spoken word songs:

Chorizo’s favourite things of 2017

A month and a bit too late but never mind that, here we go.

You can download our podcast featuring my favourite songs of 2017 right here or click below to listen.


Favourite Albums of the Year – The Top 10

  1. Art Guards by Fishboy   [Listen to our Fishboy interview podcast here]
  2. Lurcher by The Wednesday Club
  3. Peach by Deerful
  4. Songs From The Sides of Lorries by I Ludicrous
  5. Strike a Match by Sacred Paws
  6. The Rap Guide to Consciousness by Baba Brinkman
  7. Juniverbrecher by The Indelicates
  8. Slap Bass Hunks by Christian Fitness
  9. Echo Bridge by Gavin Osborn and the Comment Section
  10. Ojala by Lost Horizons


Another 20 favourite albums (in no particular order)

Kentish Longtails by The Len Price 3

Hindu Flying Machine by Mean Motor Scooter

Love in the 4th Dimension by The Big Moon

Revival Beach by The Burning Hell

Better Friend by Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums

Spring by Flies and Flies

Life Love and Billy Fury by The Bordellos

English Tapas by Sleaford Mods

Lightning Likes Me by Oh Gunquit!

Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins by Chuck Prophet

How The West Was Won by Peter Perrett

Interplanetary Class Classics by The Moonlandingz

Spirit by Depeche Mode


Mind Yr Manners by Crumbs

You Might Be Smiling Now by The Just Joans

Come Play The Trees by Snapped Ankles

Intergalactic Sex Tourists by The Sex Organs


And Then Not Even Then by The Laureates

The Surfing Magazines by The Surfing Magazines

50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields


Favourite EP

Jelly by Charmpit


Favourite EP runners-up

Structure by Structure

The French Press by Rolling Blackouts C.F.

Volga Sturgeon Face by Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals

The Road Part 3 by Radio KWG

Boot Hill Surf Club by The 99 Degree

Lookalike Bond by The Humdrum Express

City In Revers / Kendrick Road by The Leaf Library

Deepdreaming / Stargrazing by Thousand Yard Stare

Me and Joe by Max Gomez

Six of Seven by The Moon Apes


Favourite re-releases

Bus Route to your Heart by Milky Wimpshake (20th anniversary re-issue)

Purple Rain: Deluxe Edition by Prince

George Best 30 by The Wedding Present


Favourite festival

Indietracks in Derbyshire. Particular highlights this year were Chorusgirl, Crumbs, The Wedding Present, Charmpit, MJ Hibbett, Milky Wimpshake, Cola Jet Set, The Just Joans, The Wave Pictures, Model Village and The Tuts.

Have a listen to our review of the weekend.

See you there next July.


Top 20 gigs of the year 

  1. Lost Horizons @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester (21st November)
  2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Arena (25th September) [Listen to our podcast review]
  3. The Moonlandingz / Goat Girl / Pink Kink @ Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool (25th March) [Listen to our podcast review]
  4. Snapped Ankles @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester (3rd October)
  5. The Wedding Present / The Primitives / Thousand Yard Stare @ Manchester Academy (27th May) [Read our review]
  6. Ash @ Central Station, Wrexham (17th August)
  7. The Dream Syndicate @ Bitterzoet, Amsterdam (23rd October)
  8. The Len Price 3 / Graham Day & The Gaolers @ 100 Club, London (4th March)
  9. Elvis Costello @ Bridgwater Hall, Manchester (19th March) [Listen to our podcast review]
  10. The Wedding Present @ Cadogan Hall, London (14th October)
  11. Gavin Osborn @ The Golden Eagle, Chester (16th September)
  12. The Burning Hell @ The Eagle Inn, Salford (22nd November)
  13. The Breeders @ Manchester Academy (17th October)
  14. Martha / ONSIND / Grotbags / Radiator Hospital @ Night & Day, Manchester (3rd January)
  15. Chuck Prophet / Max Gomez @ Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th February)
  16. Radiohead @ Old Trafford Cricket Ground (4th July)
  17. The Handsome Family @ RNCM, Manchester (22nd February)
  18. The Surfing Magazines @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester (1st September)
  19. The Who @ Echo Arena, Liverpool (3rd April)
  20. The Oh Sees / The Peacers @ Manchester Academy (14th June)

Here are some low quality photos I took at some of those gigs.

Proud wizard gig of the year

The gig by Billordo / Tremelo Ghosts that my fellow wizard Kicker O’Elves organised.

Favourite music books 

Mostly not released in 2017 but I read them this year.

1. Lee, Myself and I: Inside The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood by Wyndham Wallace

A tremendous account of a friendship between the great Lee Hazlewood and the author who was initially a fan, later a manager and collaborator. Highly recommended.

2. Keep On Running: The Unofficial Dexys Midnight Runners Fanzine

An anthology that brings together loads of fascinating interviews and anecdotes from fans and former bandmembers.

3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

An in-depth and incredibly honest autobiography.

4. Triptych: Three Studies of Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible by Rhian E. Jones, Daniel Lukes and Larissa Wodtke

Like one of those 33 1/3 books but far more analytical, personal and thorough. For obsessed fans of the album only!


Favourite non-fiction books 

Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India by Sashi Tharoor

Shocking and horrific stuff which made me feel ashamed of how ignorant I was about this period of history.

The Special One: The Secret World of Jose Mourinho by Diego Torres

Inside details of his time at Real Madrid. Hats off to this book for making me dislike The Moaning One even more than I already did. What an absolute monumental bellend.


Favourite fiction book

A Congregation of Jackals by S. Craig Zahler

Compelling and very violent Western written by the director of the film “Bone Tomahawk”


Favourite films / TV 

As with the books, these weren’t necessarily released in 2017 but these were my favourite things I watched this year.

Blade Runner 2049

Flowers (Channel 4)

Back (Channel 4)

American Vandal (Netflix)

Stranger Things (Netflix)



Favourite documentaries

The Barkley Marathons, The 13th, Man vs Snake, City 40, Meru, Virunga, Eddie: Strongman (all Netflix)


Favourite podcasts (other than ours of course!)

Bruce Springsteen Sings The Alphabet

2 blokes discuss every Springsteen song in alphabetical order. They’ve been doing this for 2 years and they’re up to “P”

The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson

Starts off as an investigation into the porn industry but as usual with Ronson he goes off on several entertaining tangents

The History of England

A man sits in his shed and retells the entire history of our nation. Far more entertaining than it sounds. Like a more laidback version of Dan Carlin’s much missed Hardcore History podcast.

Totally Acoustic

MJ Hibbett puts on gigs, records them and puts them out as a podcast.

The Trap Set with Joe Wong

Interviews with drummers. Thankfully they don’t just talk about drumming. I particularly enjoyed the episodes with Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello & The Attractions) and Bernard Purdie.

I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats

Author and super-fan Joseph Fink interviews Mountain Goats main man John Darnielle. Each episode is centred around one of the songs from his 2002 album “All Hail West Texas”

Podcast 82: Kicker’s Best of 2017

Well, hello again, and welcome to the brave new world of 2018. What could possibly go wrong this time?


To help you enjoy your undoubtedly temporary state of (blind) optimism, our Kicker has burbled on for a couple of hours while playing a lot of his favourite records of 2017, which you can download here or soundcloud there:



A slight disclaimer: This show was originally recorded as a demo for Dandelion Radio, but it was simply too hot for them to handle. Can you take it listener?

The songs played are:

  1. Circus Devils – Do The Nixon (Laughs Last)
  2. Tremolo Ghosts – Order For The New Slave Trade (Same Place The Fly Got Smashed)
  3. R. Ring – Cutter (Ignite The Rest)
  4. Friends Of Cesar Romero – Strumpet Sounds (I + IV + V E.P.)
  5. Flotation Toy Warning – King Of Foxgloves (The Machine That Made Us)
  6. Manray – Falling Off The Face Of The Earth (Falling Off The Face Of The Earth)
  7. Rob Rapp – Nitwit (unreleased)
  8. Vital Idles – The Garden (single)
  9. Deathcount In Silicon Valley – Voices (edit.) (Hex Void)
  10. Hulaboy – (Feels Like) The End (Split LP)
  11. LowMagic – Scarecrow (Keys To The Stranger’s Head Pt.1)
  12. Girl One And The Grease Guns – She’s A Calculator (Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances)
  13. Air-Sea Dolphin – Exploding (single)
  14. Heads Off – Hey You (Ad Absurdum)
  15. Little Whirls – For All Your Bebop Crimes (Rearrange The Comfort Zones)
  16. Jones – Today I Am Not Heartbroken (single)
  17. The World Of Dust – Tribal Memories (Golden Moon)
  18. Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals – Song For The Flowers (Effigies)
  19. Graham Repulski – Bob For Uncles (I’m Even Younger Now)
  20. Jim White – Plywood Superman (Far From Mississippi: Live 2004 – 2014)
  21. Keith Seatman – Boxes With Rhythms In (All Hold Hands And Off We Go)
  22. Rectangle Creep – Whalin’ Jennings (Is Taking Drugs)
  23. Material Girls – I Just Wanna Fall In Love With Myself (MG VS IQ)
  24. R. Stevie Moore And Jason Falkner – I H8 PPL (Make It Be)
  25. Selectasound ’88 & The Bob Boon Singers – Tabou (Funky Chimes)
  26. John Stammers – Waiting Around (Waiting Around)
  27. Nadine Shah – Evil (Holiday Destination)
  28. Mick Trouble – Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git (It’s The Mick Trouble EP)
  29. Mount Eerie – Emptiness pt. 2 (A Crow Looked At Me)

Kicker of Elves selects one from each of Robert Pollard’s 100

The 7th of April last year (remember that?) saw the release of what was deemed to be the 100th album from prolificacy’s poster-boy, Robert Pollard. This was marked by the release of a stunning 12″ x 12″ coffee-table book featuring the artwork from each album and when put all together looks like this:


Having reorganised (this part of) my Robert Pollard vinyl collection, it then became obvious that I needed to undertake a chronological listening experience that would inevitably lead to a Trust The Wizard’s favoured ‘one from each’ list, where I choose my favourite track from each release. This proved to be much easier in some cases than others and, of course, is open to change each time I listen to particular records (hello, Bee Thousand), where it was like choosing your favourite child, or doughnut. Impossible.

Nevertheless, here is what I have gone with.

  1. Like I Do (Guided By Voices – Forever Since Breakfast, 1986)
  2. The Tumblers (Guided By Voices – Devil Between My Toes, 1987):
  3. Trap Soul Door (Guided By Voices – Sandbox, 1987)
  4. The Great Blake Street Canoe Race (Guided By Voices – Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia,1989)
  5. Club Molluska (Guided By Voices – Same Place The Fly Got Smashed, 1990)
  6. Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox (Guided By Voices – Propeller, 1992)
  7. Gleemer (The Deeds Of Fertile Jim (Guided By Voices – Vampire On Titus, 1993)
  8. Smothered In Hugs (Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand, 1994)
  9. Crutch Came Slinking (Guided By Voices – King Shit And The Golden Boys, 1995)
  10. My Valuable Hunting Knife (Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes, 1995)
  11. No Sky (Guided By Voices – Under the Bushes Under the Stars, 1996)
  12. Psychic Pilot Clocks Out (Robert Pollard – Not In My Airforce, 1996)
  13. Unbaited Vicar Of Scorched Earth (Guided By Voices – Tonics and Twisted Chasers, 1996)
  14. Now To War (Guided By Voices – Mag Earwhig!, 1997)
  15. Subspace Biographies (Robert Pollard – Waved Out, 1998)
  16. Powerblessings (Robert Pollard – Kid Marine, 1999)
  17. Dogwood Grains (Nightwalker – In Shop We Build Electric Chairs: Professional Music By Nightwalker 1984-1993, 1999)
  18. Liquid Indian (Guided By Voices – Do the Collapse, 1999)
  19. Pop Zeus (Robert Pollard With Doug Gillard – Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department, 1999)
  20. Wondering Boy Poet (Guided By Voices – Briefcase (Suitcase Abridged: Drinks And Deliveries), 2000
  21. A Farewell To Arms (Hazzard Hotrods – Big Trouble, 2000)
  22. Pivotal Film (Guided By Voices – Isolation Drills, 2001)
  23. 7th Level Shutdown (Robert Pollard And His Soft Rock Renegades – Choreographed Man Of War, 2001)
  24. Stifled Man Casino (Airport 5 – Tower In The Fountain Sparks, 2001)
  25. Apparent The Red Angus (Circus Devils – Ringworm Interiors, 2001)
  26. However Young They Are (Airport 5 – Life Starts Here, 2002)
  27. It Is Divine (Go Back Snowball – Calling Zero, 2002)
  28. Dungeon Of Drunks (Acid Ranch – Some Of The Magic Syrup Was Preserved, 2002)
  29. Storm Vibrations (Guided By Voices – Universal Truths and Cycles, 2002)
  30. Action Speaks Volumes (Guided By Voices – The Pipe Dreams Of Instant Prince Whippet, 2002)
  31. Soldiers Of June (Circus Devils – The Harold Pig Memorial, 2002)
  32. Harrison Adams (Robert Pollard – Motel of Fools, 2003)
  33. Society Dome (Lifeguards – Mist King Urth, 2003)
  34. A Good Looking Death (Phantom Tollbooth – Beard Of Lightning, 2003)
  35. My Kind Of Soldier (Guided By Voices – Earthquake Glue, 2003)
  36. Sick Color (Circus Devils – Pinball Mars, 2003)
  37. Their Biggest Win (Robert Pollard – Fiction Man, 2004)
  38. Everybody Thinks I’m A Raincloud (When I’m Not Looking) (Guided By Voices – Half Smiles Of the Decomposed, 2004)
  39. Dolphins Of Color (Circus Devils – Five, 2005)
  40. Invisible Train To Earth (Guided By Voices – Briefcase 2: The Return Of Milko Waif, 2005)
  41. I’m Not Looking (Acid Ranch – As Forever: A Manifesto of Fractured Imagination And Wreckless Living, 2005)
  42. U.S. Mustard Company (Robert Pollard – From A Compound Eye, 2006)
  43. Be It Not For The Serpentine Rain Dodger (The Takeovers – Turn To Red, 2006)
  44. Jesus The Clockwork (Psycho And The Birds – All That Is Holy, 2006)
  45. Death Of The Party (Keene Brothers – Blues And Boogie Shoes, 2006)
  46. Pegasus Glue Factory (Robert Pollard – Normal Happiness, 2006)
  47. Lie To The Rainbow (Acid Ranch – The Great Houdini Wasn’t So Great, 2007)
  48. Circle Saw Boys Club (Robert Pollard – Silverfish Trivia, 2007)
  49. Pretty Not Bad (The Takeovers – Bad Football, 2007)
  50. Swing Shift (Circus Devils – Sgt. Disco, 2007)
  51. Miles Under The Skin (Robert Pollard – Coast to Coast Carpet of Love, 2007)
  52. Shadow Port (Robert Pollard – Standard Gargoyle Decisions, 2007)
  53. Love Your Spaceman (Robert Pollard – Superman Was a Rocker, 2008)
  54. Enon Beach (Psycho And The Birds – We’ve Moved, 2008)
  55. Weatherman And Skin Goddess (Robert Pollard – Robert Pollard Is Off To Business, 2008)
  56. Go For The Exit (Boston Spaceships – Brown Submarine, 2008)
  57. Stars, Stripes And Crack Pipes (Circus Devils – Ataxia, 2008)
  58. The Butler Stands For All Of Us (Robert Pollard – The Crawling Distance, 2009)
  59. Keep Me Down (Boston Spaceships – The Planets Are Blasted, 2009)
  60. In Your Hour Of Rescue (Circus Devils – Gringo, 2009)
  61. Nude Metropolis (Cosmos – Jar Of Jam Ton Of Bricks, 2009)
  62. Accident Hero (Robert Pollard – Elephant Jokes, 2009)
  63. Question Girl All Right (Boston Spaceships – Zero To 99, 2009)
  64. There Are Other Worlds (Guided By Voices – Briefcase 3: Cuddling Bozo’s Octopus, 2009)
  65. I Can See (Robert Pollard – We All Got Out Of The Army, 2010)
  66. Lurking (Circus Devils – Mother Skinny, 2010)
  67. Each Is Good In His Own House (Robert Pollard – Moses On a Snail, 2010)
  68. Unshaven Bird (Boston Spaceships – Our Cubehouse Still Rocks, 2010)
  69. Something Strawberry (Robert Pollard – Space City Kicks, 2011)
  70. Paradise Is Not So Bad (Lifeguards – Waving At Astronauts, 2011)
  71. Wish You Were Young (Mars Classroom – The New Theory Of Everything, 2011)
  72. Dunce Codex (Robert Pollard – Lord of the Birdcage, 2011)
  73. No Steamboats (Boston Spaceships – Let It Beard, 2011)
  74. Cyclopean Runways (Circus Devils – Capsized!, 2011)
  75. Laundry And Lasers (Guided By Voices – Let’s Go Eat The Factory, 2012)
  76. Dr. Time (Robert Pollard – Mouseman Cloud, 2012)
  77. Class Clown Spots A UFO (Guided By Voices – Class Clown Spots A UFO, 2012)
  78. Red Rubber Army (Robert Pollard – Jack Sells The Cow, 2012)
  79. White Flag (Guided By Voices – The Bears for Lunch, 2012)
  80. Biographer Seahorse (Guided By Voices – English Little League, 2013)
  81. I Killed A Man Who Looks Like You (Robert Pollard – Honey Locust Honky Tonk, 2013)
  82. Atlantic Cod (Teenage Guitar – Force Fields At Home, 2013)
  83. Idiot Tree (Circus Devils – When Machines Attack, 2013)
  84. Locomotion Blue Note (Circus Devils – My Mind Has Seen The White Trick, 2013)
  85. Tonight’s The Rodeo (Robert Pollard – Blazing Gentleman, 2013)
  86. Vote For Me Dummy (Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit, 2014)
  87. Males Of Wormwood Mars (Guided By Voices – Cool Planet, 2014)
  88. A Year That Could Have Been Worse (Teenage Guitar – More Lies From The Gooseberry Bush, 2014)
  89. Diamond Boys (Circus Devils – Escape, 2014)
  90. Mobility (Ricked Wicky – I Sell The Circus, 2015)
  91. Faulty Superheroes (Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes, 2015)
  92. Jargon Of Clones (Ricked Wicky – King Heavy Metal, 2015)
  93. Poor Substitute (Ricked Wicky – Swimmer To A Liquid Armchair, 2015)
  94. Hue N’ Dye (Circus Devils – Stomping Grounds, 2015)
  95. Linda’s Lottery (Guided By Voices – Suitcase 4: Captain Kangaroo Won The War, 2015)
  96. Little Pigs (Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are, 2016)
  97. Glittering Parliaments (Guided By Voices – Please Be Honest, 2016)
  98. Royal Cyclopean (ESP Ohio – Starting Point Of The Royal Cyclopean, 2016)
  99. Do The Nixon (Circus Devils – Laughs Last, 2017)
  100. Dr. Feelgood Falls Off The Ocean (Guided By Voices – August By Cake, 2017)

91% of these songs are currently available on Spotify:

Here are some of the others:

Not sure why Spotify has a live version of Trap Soul Door under Sandbox, but here’s the album version:

Finally, some statistics of note:



Band names

Song titles

UPDATE: There are 7 releases that could have been included in Robert Pollard’s first 100 ‘albums’, but weren’t.


For the completists, here are my selections from them:

  • If We Wait (Guided By Voices – Sunfish Holy Breakfast, 1996)
  • Alone, Stinking And Unafraid (Lexo And The Leapers – Ask Them, 1999):
  • I’m Dirty (Howling Wolf Orchestra – Speedtraps For The Bee Kingdom, 2000)
  • Avalanche Aminos (Guided By Voices – Daredevil Stamp Collector, 2001)
  • Look At Your Life (The Moping Swans – Lightninghead To Coffeepot, 2005)
  • Sucker Of Pistol City (Guided By Voices – Hold On Hope (Re-pressing), 2009)
  • UFO Nights (The Sunflower Logic – Clouds On The Polar Landscape, 2013)

Depending on where you are in the world, you can listen to most or all of these here:

Podcast 83: Chorizo’s Favourite Music of 2017

Happy New Year Listener! We teamed up with some of our showbiz friends to reinforce this message.

We could not let the year end without getting a wizard to run the rule over 2017 and so Chorizo has done the honours to magnificent effect.  Listen to the results here and below





Track Listing:

Summer – The Surfing Magazines

Plastic Fox – Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip

Everybody’s Burning Effigies – Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals

Black Lake – Hermitess

Kendrick Road – The Leaf Library

Make It Me – Max Gomez

Jesus Was A Social Drinker – Chuck Prophet

Art Guard – Fishboy

Hey Kids! – Here are the Young Men featuring Filthy Dirty

Black Hanz – The Moonlandingz

I Only Smoke When I Drink – The Just Joans

Stockport Syndrome – Crumbs

Margot – Charmpit

Hanging With The Moon – Snapped Ankles

Bruce Hated Puppies – Christian Fitness

Rest – Sacred Paws

Re:My Green Scissors – The Wednesday Club

Most Things In Life Will Either Sting Eat or Shoot You – Frigid Vinegar

Better Friend – Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimums

Before Us Comes The Flood – Deerful

Disco – Structure

Bag of Cans – Fighting

A Different Game – The Secret Goldfish

Soothing – Laura Marling

Bones – Lost Horizons



Podcast 80 Chorizo Does Porridge

The Wizards thought about Christmas shopping then realised it was their duty to serve up a present for the listeners ears.  However only one of them turned up however as Lenin said “Fewer, Better But Fewer”.

Gotta Love a Revolution

Chorizo is flying solo on this one and what a magnificent job he makes of it!

Enjoy by clicking here or visiting Soundcloud down below.





Hangin’ Round (demo version) – Lou Reed

Hanging Around – The Stranglers

Eviscerator – Baby Arms

The Music – Enderby’s Room

Chicken – Suggested Friends

Cupid – The Big Moon

Lemonade – Porridge Radio

Bury Your Young – Flies and Flies

So Dave Called – Gavin Osborn

A Fran Escaped – The Surfing Magazines

Kung Fu – Ash

Geoff – Philip Jeays


You wait ages for a Trust the Wizards podcast and then 2 come along at once. Come back to the site again in a few days time for Chorizo’s “favourite songs of 2017” podcast.




Kicker of Elves’ Favourite Things from 2017

Hello, remember me? Oh.

Still, once upon a time I used to be a regular part of a podcast on these very pages, but I have, for the last few months, been keeping my cantankerous misery mostly to myself. However, now the time is right for me once again to stick my frowny bearded face above the parapet in order to announce the winners of the Kickers of 2017. Hurrah!!


who wouldn’t want one of these little beauties?

Favourite song

There may well be a future podcast of me forcing Kicker Jr once again to pretend to like, and be interested in, a CD’s worth (24 songs) of my favourite tracks of the year, and if you were lucky enough to receive a  hard copy, you’ll know what’s in store for the poor lad. But, if I had to pick just one of those songs to be my top song of 2017, it’d have to be Circus Devils – Do The Nixon, so clap your hands twice, cross the road and listen to this…

Favourite album

In order, these are my top 25 albums of 2017. They are all indispensable. One of them is seemingly no longer available.*

  1. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me

20171220_1231082. Spare Snare – Unicorn


3. Richard Dawson – Peasant


4. LowMagic – Keys To The Stranger’s Head Pt. 1


5. Babybird – King Of Nothing


6. Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven


7. Flotation Toy Warning – The Machine That Made Us


8. Jeremy Tuplin – I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut


9. The Bats – The Deep Set


10. Smug Brothers – Disco Maroon


11. Guided By Voices – August By Cake


12. R. Ring – Ignite The Rest


13. Circus Devils – Laughs Last


14. Tremolo Ghosts – Same Place The Fly Got Smashed


15. Hulaboy / Safe Distance – Split LP


16. Graham Repulski – I’m Even Younger Now


17. Simon Joyner – Step Into The Earthquake

18. Telepathic – Self-Checkout


19. Rick Rude – Make Mine Tuesday


20. Odd Nosdam – LIF


21. Meursault – I Will Kill Again


22. JD Meatyard – Collectivise


23. The World Of Dust – Golden Moon


24. The Blue Aeroplanes – Welcome, Stranger!


25. Diagnos – Diagnos


And here, making up my top 50 albums for 2017, this time in alphabetical order, are 25 more albums I have really enjoyed and also highly recommend:

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Bill Baird – Baby Blue Abyss/Easy Machines, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice, The Bordellos – Life, Love & Billy Fury, Euros Childs – House Arrest, Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex, Deathcount In Silicon Valley – Hex Void, Dog Paper Submarine – Posthuman Melodies, Faerground Accidents – Co-Morbid, Girl One And The Grease Guns – Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers, Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals – Effigies, H. Hawkline – I Romanticize, Idles – Brutalism, Invaderband – Invaderband, The Just Joans – You Might Be Smiling Now…, Little Whirls – Rearrange The Comfort Zones, Mwstard! – Cloc, Nervous Twitch – I Won’t Hide, ONSIND – We Wilt, We Bloom, Chuck Prophet – Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, Rectangle Creep – Is Taking Drugs, Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination, Washer – All Aboard, Jim White – Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, Wire – Silver/Lead

*After I downloaded the LowMagic album, I contacted the twitter account linked to the page to say how much I loved the album, and then it, and the bandcamp page, disappeared. If you know anything about this artist, please do get in touch!

UPDATE: The fella behind that fantastic Low Magic album, Ian Cauldwell has been in touch and explained that the tracks will now be appearing as a series of EPs in 2018. He can be followed on Twitter at @thelowmagic

Best Compilations

  1. Aquabear Legion Vol. 6 (Aquabear Legion)

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2.  From The Furthest Signals (A Year In The Country)

3. Orange Daydream: A Tribute To Orange Cake Mix (Why The Tapes Play)

4. Witches’ Halloween Brew (Burning Witches Records)

5. The End Of The Day (Radio Cineola)


Top EPs:

  1. Craven Faults – Netherfields Works

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2. Friends Of Cesar Romero – I + IV + V

3. Cash Rivers – She Laughed I Left

4. Von Hayes – So Many Hearts

5. Honey Radar / Telepathic – Split

6. Rectangle Creep – Agnostic Mantis

7. Material Girls – MG Vs IQ

8. The English Teeth – The English Teeth

9. Billordo – Anti-Folk Troubadour

10. Pulco – Silex


Top Reissues/Not Strictly Speaking New Stuff

  1. Father – Pop Chops


2. Luke Haines – Luke Haines Is Alive And Well And Living In Buenos Aries

3. Black Reindeer – Staggering

4. Circus Devils – Laughs Best

5. Cleaners From Venus – Martin Newell’s Jumble Sale


Top Live Albums

  1. Jim White – Far From Mississippi

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2. The Replacements – For Sale

3. Man… Or Astro-Man? – Live At Third Man Records

4. Flying Saucer Attack – In Search Of Spaces

5. Goat – Fuzzed In Europe


The Robert Pollard Annual Output Roundup

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A year perhaps most notable for the release of Robert Pollard’s 100th album, a double, naturally, Guided By VoicesAugust By Cake. We also had #101 Guided By VoicesHow Do You Spell Heaven, a first-time-on-vinyl release of the Live From Austin, TX album, along with two 7″ singles: Just To Show You and, from the forthcoming album of the same name (and not yet in my possession), Space Gun. There was also the final Circus Devils album Laughs Last and a companion double album ‘best of’ Laughs Best. Tobin Sprout released a download-only cover of  My Back Pages,  a new album: The Universe And Me, and re-pressings of both Carnival Boy and Moonflower Plastic (Welcome To My Wigwam). We also had a new online collection from Todd TobiasTodd’s Remains Volume II. Intriguingly, we also had the Cash RiversShe Laughed I Left EP, which manged to cram 17 songs into 6 minutes. Both Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard featured heavily across the Sweet AppleSing The Night In Sorrow LP, and in the wider GBVworld, Mark Shue‘s new band, Chomper put out a suitably raucous self-titled EP, oh and Chris Slusarenko and John Moen‘s band Eyelids released the really rather great Or album and the (Go On) The First Flight single, but I forgot to put them in the photo. Dammit. It’s not that easy keeping the fuck up, you know.


The Bobby Pop Award For Prolificacy

  1. Ben Spizuco (Naked Ant/Hello Whirled): 215 songs released this year – start with ‘Wreckage’ and you’ll be hooked (for the next 8 hours and 37 minutes).

Hello Whirled

2. Stephen Jones (Babybird/Black Reindeer/Jones): 189 songs

3. Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices/Circus Devils/ Cash Rivers): a paltry 84 songs


Top 5 Music Related Books (Read This Year)

  1. Loudon Wainwright III – Liner Notes

thumbnail (6)2. Martin Newell – This Little Ziggy

3. Tim Burgess – Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul To San Francisco

4. David Cavanagh – Goodnight & Good Riddance

5. Steve Diggle – Harmony In My Head

Top Musical Book (Gazed At This Year)

  1. Robert Pollard 100

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look at it! just look at it!



Top Musical Film


The Sad & Beautiful World Of Sparklehorse


Musical Discovery Of The Year

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Gray Home Music


Label Of The Year

Third Uncle Records

Third Uncle Records


Top 10 Gigs

  1. Spare Snare / Billordo – Conroy’s Basement, Dundee, 5 May

Spare Snare filmed in Glasgow (the day before the Dundee gig):

2. Simon Joyner – Low Four Studio, Manchester, 4 November

3. Skids – The Ritz, Manchester, 2 June

4. Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express – The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 17 February

5. Lucid Dream – The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 26 August

6. The Handsome Family – Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 22 February

7. Tremolo Ghosts – Maguire’s Pizza Bar, Liverpool, 6 May

8. Jim White – The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 21 November

9. The Blue Aeroplanes – O2 Academy, Liverpool, 11 January

10. Luke Haines – Night & Day Café, Manchester, 15 October


Musical Quote Of The Year


Jim White speaking to me about the video excerpt I sent him: “You are obviously a musician.”

A Very Cherry Christmas (Volume 12)

Exciting times today as I received in the post my copy of this year’s “A Very Cherry Christmas” CD. In case you don’t know Cherryade Records is an Manchester record label run by Rachael Nieman. Indie-loving Mastermind viewers may remember Rachael for her incredible near-perfect round on specialised subject Belle and Sebastian.

Every year Cherryade release a Christmas album and previous years have included wizardly-revered groups such as Town Bike, John Shuttleworth, The Lovely Eggs, The Thyme Machine, Simon Love and The Just Joans. This year they’re up to Volume 12 and I’m proud to say that my band The Malibu Storks are on the album.

My song “The Best Part of Christmas Dinner” started off as a short poem about some medieval monks. But then before I knew what was happening there were sleigh bells, glockenspiels and congas involved. Recorded on Garageband in my garage with no band I must’ve been infected by the spirit of Phil Spector because the song grew into a bit of an epic. I can’t put it any better than my mate Mr Fingers who has bought the album and described my song as “the Bohemian Rhapsody of Christmas dinner eulogies”

Having received the album earlier today I’ve not yet had a chance to listen to the other 24 tracks. But I’ve just listened to track 1 and the lyrics mention Helen Love, Edwyn Collins and Kirsty MacColl so surely that’s already worth £6 of anybody’s money.

There are only 200 physical copies available so don’t hang about. When you buy the CD you also get festive board game called “The Race For The Christmas No.1” in which you play as either Noddy, Roy, Mariah or Cliff as you battle it out to see who will reach the top of the festive singles chart! You can hear 2 of the songs and order your copy below.

It’s the perfect festive gift for the discerning music fan in your life.



Thank you to Gareth Jones for his help in putting the album together and creating the board game. Over the next few week Gareth will be presenting a Christmas show on the always-wonderful Dandelion Radio so be sure to listen to that.  Click here for details.


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Q&A with Fishboy

In our first ever transatlantic interview, we speak to Eric Michener, leader of the band Fishboy. We discuss the band’s spectacularly unique new album “Art Guards” and other diverse topics such as baseball, Buddy Holly’s last gig, elephants, Texan driving laws, The Kinks, pizza restaurants and, inevitably, cricket.

Listen to the podcast here.


Listen to the album and click on the links below to buy Fishboy music / artwork in an array of interesting formats.


Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Live in Manchester 2017 Gigcast

Its Manchester 25th 2017 and the God Like Legend that is Nick Cave with his the Bad Seeds are thirsty for blood prowling the Arena in search for prey. They strike again and again and by the end of the concert the stage is full of bodies .  Rebel and Chorizo are called as witnesses and the arc of their testimony unfolds in this podcast.

Download and listen (if you dare) here and go for the full sound cloud experience below.

Some pictures from the show (Black and White video is the way forward yes?)

Podcast 79: Fake News and John Cale Based Dissent

Official confirmation is received that this podcast is the most listened to, most profitable, most sexually attractive and can be used to clean dishwashers.  More official facts supplied by reliable sources included (yawn Fake News Alert: Ed)

Indeed more wild claims and wild sounds from the wizards curated loins to listen to and download here

Or listen and download from soundcloud below.



Notes and Tracklist

30 seconds: Alternate Facts, Mush Buy Here

9 Minutes: You Told A Fib, Gene Vincent

13 Minutes: The Dopper Effect, Orkestra Del Sol (Fill your Honkcore boots here)

18 Mintes: Go, The Apples in Stereo (Why not Go to their Facebook page)

22 Minutes: Discussion regarding the Architecture on the Apples in Stereo Album Cover and the Doppler Effect

A rare instance of architecture in pop

29 Minutes: Dancing With His Dad, Gavin Osborn. Buy Here

Why not join the tour or join the Wizards at the gig in chester full details here

34 Minutes: Rebel has a massive rant about the John Cale Performance at the Liverpool Sound City event (other opinions are available) But they are wrong.

45 Minutes: There She Goes Again, The Velvet Underground (Judge the performance for yourself or sing a long a Heroin)

50 Minutes: Turn Off The Moon,The Primitives, Buy Here 

53 Minutes: Wasted on You, Lizard McGee buy Here

58 Minutes: Striped White Jets, Guided By Voices,

62 Minutes: Too Sad to Be Young, The New Faith Watch the discussed video here buy here

66 Minutes: Review of Soulson the new Album by Damien Dempsey

Signed with poster but beware no download code

81 Minutes: Soft Rain, Damien Dempsey Buy a signed copy here (still available at time of posting)

Film Review: England Is Mine

“Might please Morrissey fans but who else is ever going to bother with it?” Edward Porter Sunday Times 6th August 2017.

This was not an uncommon verdict of the new Morrissey biopic by Mark Gill released last week. The general sense from the reviews I read was that the film was a good natured solid piece of work with a very strong performance from Jack Lowden as our hero. However the consensus seemed to be that you would have to be a fan to really enjoy it. To test this theory I forced my long suffering Smiths and Morrissey hating wife along to give me a balanced view and my ardent Morrissey fan daughter to give balance.The conclusion of both my erstwhile reviewers was that the film was funny, moving and intriguing. It made both laugh and cry at least once. My partner completely lost the idea that it was about Morrissey and felt for the young dreamer trying to find their place in the world.

This is the point that the reviewers miss, the film is a story of someone who thinks differently and believes they have talent but can’t see how to express themselves whilst being crippled by shyness and doubt. Hell, its why X factor and the voice are on every Saturday night. We see Morrissey feeling driven to write constantly but not being clear whether these are songs, poems or a novel and settling for getting short reviews published in the NME. Then singing alone in his bedroom whilst being too shy to even talk to a potential band member.

The film gets behind that tension and shows that stark reality faced by so many people that dreams have to be compromised with the real world of employment, debt and relationships. Whom for all the magic in their heads they work with people who have little interest in them apart for someone to be the but of their jokes. The tough and stark environment of working class 1970s Britain is done brilliantly both in environment and culture.

However the key to a he films genius is the portrayal of the central character. This was described by radio 5 as “just a pain in the arse” but I though he captured what I have long felt about Morrissey in that he is a very funny character. Full of gangling incompetence for anything practical and seemingly unable to see the positive side of anything. He reminded me of Woody Allen. When he expressed his thoughts he was generally incomprehensible to others and in one great line that captures this a colleague says “you sound posh are you from Bolton?”.

There are problems with the film and it has been suggested that a film about the birth of or the death of the Smiths would be very exciting or a more gritty piece of the battle artistic acceptance of working class youth of the time would also be great but that ignores the great qualities of the film itself. I also worried that the end of the film lacked a dramatic climax and it does, albeit the ending is enigmatically satisfying.

Chorizo’s top 60 Tindersticks songs

Last week on Twitter @boywiththearabstrap posted one of his trademark song polls.


The result of this poll and in particular the lack of votes for the Tindersticks song provoked heated debate.



Admittedly The ‘Sticks (as nobody calls them) were up against strong opposition but the main reason they lost the poll so heavily was because “I Was Your Man” is not one of their best songs. So I waded into the Twittermelee to say so.



Being the kind of sad obsessive I am, having made a statement like that I then had to check it by compiling a list of my favourite 50 Tindersticks songs. They’ve done a lot of covers and instrumentals so I excluded those to make the task a little easier. Actually I couldn’t get it down to 50 so here, in reverse order as is tradition, is my top 60 Tindersticks songs interspersed with a few of the band’s official videos.

60. Desperate Man (Curtains)

59. Tiny Tears (Tindersticks 2nd album)

58. Slippin’ Shoes (The Something Rain)

57. Let’s Pretend (Curtains)

56. Black Smoke (Falling Down a Mountain)

55. Were We Once Lovers? (The Waiting Room)

54. A Marriage Made In Heaven (single)

53. Help Yourself (The Waiting Room)

52. Everything Changes (Don’t Even Go There EP)

51. Patchwork (Tindersticks 1st album)

50. El Diablo En El Ojo (Tindersticks 2nd album)

49. Medicine (The Something Rain)

48. Hey Lucinda (The Waiting Room)

47. People Keep Comin’ Around (Can Our Love)

46. Travellin’ Light (Tindersticks 2nd album)

45. Milky Teeth (Tindersticks 1st album)

44. This Fire of Autumn (The Something Rain)

43. No Man in the World (Can Our Love)

42. Mistakes (Tindersticks 2nd album)

41. For Those… (b-side of Marbles)

40. Make Believe (b-side of Rented Rooms)

39. Like Only Lovers Can (The Waiting Room) 

38. Walking (Curtains)

37. Second Chance Man (The Waiting Room)

36. Sweet Memory (Waiting for the Moon)

35. (Tonight) Are You Trying To Fall In Love Again? (Curtains)

34. Raindrops (Tindersticks 1st album)

33. The Waiting Room (The Waiting Room)

32. Another Night In (Curtains)

31. Her (Tindersticks 1st album)

30. Can Our Love (Can Our Love)

29. Until the Morning Comes (Waiting for the Moon)

28. Tyed / Tie Dye (Tindersticks 1st album)

27. If She’s Torn (Simple Pleasure)

26. Yesterday’s Tomorrows (The Hungry Saw)

25. Harmony Around My Table (Falling Down a Mountain)

24. A Night In (Tindersticks 2nd album)

23. Can We Start Again? (Simple Pleasure)

22. The Hungry Saw (The Hungry Saw)

21. A Night So Still (The Something Rain)

20. Talk To Me (Tindersticks 2nd album)

19. No Place So Alone (The Hungry Saw)

18. CF GF (Falling Down A Mountain)

17. Bathtime (Curtains)

16. Boobar (The Hungry Saw)

15. Trouble Every Day (Trouble Every Day soundtrack)

14. The Other Side of the World (The Hungry Saw)

13. The Not Knowing (Tindersticks 1st album)

12. Drunk Tank (Tindersticks 1st album)

11. Buried Bones (Curtains)

10. Show Me Everything (The Something Rain)

9. Chilitetime (Can Our Love)

8. Marseilles Sunshine (originally released on the first Stuart A. Staples solo album but qualifies here beacuse it was re-recorded by Tindersticks for their Across Six Leap Years compilation)

7. City Sickness (Tindersticks 1st album)

6. Cherry Blossoms (Tindersticks 2nd album)

5. Sometimes It Hurts (Waiting for the Moon)

4. All The Love (The Hungry Saw)

3. Jism (Tindersticks 1st album)

2. Factory Girls (Falling Down a Mountain)

1. I Know That Loving (Simple Pleasures)


So there you have it.

It’d be a different list tomorrow of course. If you’re a Tindersticks fan then you’ll know that there are several officially released live albums and superior versions of most of these songs can be found on those, particularly the Bloomsbury Theatre and San Sebastian ones.

But what’s that I hear you say? Is there a pictogram to go with this? Funny you should ask.


Click picture for a bigger version


Not all these songs are on Spotify but here are the ones that are. (I think you will only see this if you’re logged in to Spotify)


Thanks to @musesfan2 @_sandywishart @WillieMcalpine @INeedDirection @indieover40 @maffrj and @jones_jamie for contributing to the orginal Twitter thread.


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