MIND DE-CODER 11 (23-03-09)
Written by El on March 23, 2009
MIND DE-CODER 11
JULEE CRUISE UP IN FLAMES
Back when Twin Peaks was first on Julee Cruise was the girl for me. She was the coolest girl around, she sang numbed out songs about broken promises, crushed relationships and heartache in a way that made loneliness seem almost narcotic. She looked great too. Words by David Lynch and music by Angelo Badalamenti, this track is from the album The Voice Of Love, released in 1993. This particular track is from a live performance of Lynch and Badalamenti’s Industrial Symphony No.1 in which she starred as the The Dream Of The Heartbroken Woman. It still gives me shivers.
And while that was getting started, you may have noticed the opening minute or so of The Stone Roses’ Breaking Into Heaven, from 1994’s Second Coming, that is to say, the bit John Leckie produced before bailing out. I mention this, just in case you thought it was vaguely familiar and it was puzzling you where you may have heard it before – because, let’s face it, none of us would have played The Second Coming recently, would we?
BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD EXPECTING TO FLY
I’ve never really been a fan of Buffalo Springfield, but this particular Neal Young written track, taken from 1967’s Buffalo Springfield Again, is as light as a feather and never fails to enchant. (It was arranged for orchestration by Jack Nietzche, trivia fans).
The first thing that you notice about this opening track from their debut Coppelia EP is how short it is, given everyone was expecting Topographic Oceans. The sound is one of syrupy vocals spiralling around this condensed wash of noise that cascades to a sudden stop and leaves you simply needing more…sugar oceans, indeed.
C.C.C. MAN ALIVE
This evening’s mash-up, and very clever. C.C.C.’s speciality is to mix classic 60’s tracks together. In this track he combines The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Th Spencer Davis Group, Pink Floyd and Mick Jagger’s one outstanding solo track Memo To Turner (from the soundtrack to Performance) to mesmerising effect. You can find it at http://www.mashups.blogspot.com/ along with a whole bunch of excellent mash-ups. CCC is the creator of Revolved and Cracked Pepper, two Beatles Mash-up albums also available at the same site.
VELVET UNDERGROUND LADY GODIVA’S OPERATION
First time I heard this track it blew me away. When Lou Reed’s voice breaks in over John Cale’s blank vocals on this Burroughsian rendition of the Lady Godiva tale I very nearly leapt out of my skin. Taken from 1967’s White Light/White Heat, one of my favourite albums of all time. I’d never heard a record like it before, and I haven’t heard anything like it since. I’ve never re-bought The Velvet Underground on CD, prefering to stick with the original vinyl recordings After all, if you take away the background noise in a VU recording, you’ve taken away half the song. I believe the studio was actually being built around them as White Light/White Heat was being recorded. Mo Tucker sounds like she’s playing telephone directories – which I think she was.
THE ALIENS BOATS
This was originally recorded by Aliens founder Gordon Anderson under his Lone Pigeon moniker on the album Schooozzzmmmii a year or two ago. Then The Aliens re-recorded on their most recent album, Luna, released last year in 2008. Of the two, the former version has a rougher edge and a guitar solo that sounds like a mosquito buzzing around your head while you’re outside some warm summer’s evening trying to enjoy a quiet smoke. The Aliens’ version has an altogether more organic feel to it with a softer edge. I toyed between the two but came down on the side of The Aliens, but I’m still not entirely sure I made the right choice.
THE BYRDS 8 MILES HIGH
I listened to this once under agreeable circumstances and the experience literally thrilled me. I never knew how much was going on it, how important the noise of it was. It’s one of the greatest records ever made, and taken from their 1966 release Fifth Dimension, the last to feature Gene Clark in the line-up. This was, without doubt, his finest hour. I’m a big fan of their next album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, but I think this was The Byrds at their very best.
PINK FLOYD SEE EMILY PLAY
And then we come to quite simply my favourite record from the sixties, Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play, released in 1967, when England was swinging liked a pendulum do. Playful, childlike, slightly taunting, sonically amazing – it’s the perfect pop song, and trippy as anything. Syd Barret’s finest moment. It never fails to put a smile on my face.
After that I thought a play a section from one of those helpful educational films warning against the dangers of mixing LSD with hotdogs. The film is a trip in itself. You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-Sk5EsLvI4 All I can say is, it’s never happened to me.
THE BEATLES IT’S ALL TOO MUCH
By no means The Beatles’ greatest song (George Harrison wrote it, for a start, but it does have that brilliant intro, though), but a very good example as to why I prefer English psychedelic music over the American approach. American psychedelic music is notably rock-based, and at its very best is pretty far-out, transformational, and usually has something to do with losing yourself in some desert and riding a wild snake, or something. English psychedelia, on the other hand, is usually pop-based, has a cozy, traditional Victorian nursery-rhyme feel to it and the limits to personal transformation can be summed up in Harrison’s lines: "Show me I’m everywhere, and get me home for tea", a lyric I’ve always enormously comforting. Although recorded in 1967 in the midst of their post-Pepper comedown, you can find it on The Yellow Submarine soundtrack, released in 1969.
LISTEN WITH SARAH BLUE PARSLEY
Avant-garde, experimental folk music from Sarah Nelson, aka Listen With Sarah. This particular track can be found on the Folk Off: New Folk And Psychedelia compilation album, released in 2006, but can also be found on The Blue Parsley/July EP released in 2004. She specialises in cut ‘n’ paste, dada-esque sound collages and was discovered by John Peel about a week before he died.
RIDE ROLLING THUNDER
A lovely tune, this, taken from their third album Carnival Of Light, released in 1994, after they’d left the shoe-gazing scene behind decided to get all authentic. It’s a sweet album, but I think the in-fighting had begun by now and they were not much longer for this world. It was more or less at this time that Oasis burst onto the scene with Definitely Maybe. Singer/guitarist Andy Bell was heard to opine that he wished his band sounded like Oasis. A few years later he joined them – which just goes to show that you should be careful what you wish for.
JAPANSE TEMPLE BELL ISEHARA
Sometimes you just need to give your mind a little space in which to drift away. This does the job perfectly. Taken from the album Japanese Temple Bells 8-17 Century (every home should have one), this particular bell can be heard at Isehara, near Yokohama, apparently.
VLADIMIR COSMA PROMENADE SENTIMENTALE
Taken from the soundtrack to the defiantly stylish 1982 French art-house film debut by dirctor Jean-Jacques Beineix, who went on to make the classic Betty Blue (still my favourite film ever). Exquisitly shot, the film is well served by this beautiful piano piece by Vladimir Cosma. The film absolutely haunted me the first time I saw it and I spent months searching the record shops of London until I was able to track down a copy of the soundtrack in a little back street off Covent Garden. This was in the days before the internet , of course, and if you really wanted to find an obscure French soundtrack you had to be prepared to give up your weekends for the hunt. I’ve never regretted the time it took, because Promenade Sentimentale is one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear, and I seem to have owned a copy of it for 27 years. Cool.
JULIAN COPE METRANIL VAVIN
Metranil Vavin was a fictional Russian emigré living in Paris in the 1970’s who wrote soggily sentimental poems about his mother, who was either dead or possibly stayed behind in Russia; I understand it was never made entirely clear. None of this has anything to do with this track, that for me always sparkles like a jewel in the Julian Cope treasure chest of songs. You can find it on World Shut Your Mouth, his debut solo LP which he released in 1984 and which remains my favourite of the 30 or so albums I seem to own by him. In the sleeve notes, he writes:’Metranil Vavin was a good poet’, but I always thought he was singing about me.
THE LOLLIPOP TRAIN JOYFUL
Lovely, pastoral pop from Angie Tillett, taken from the compilation Dream Drops, released by Spanish label Siesta as part of a series of three psychedelic albums for children (the other two albums in the series being Algebra spaghetti and Simultaneous Icecream) that kind of sound like The Yellow Submarine on a detour through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory . Angie Tillett, purportedly a teenage chambermaid from the kitschy English seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, went on to produce two infectiously giddy pop albums under the guise of the wonderful Death By Chocolate, based around 60’s spy movie instrumentals, 70’s childrens programmes theme tunes, quirky bubblegum psychedelia and a quintessentialy English pop sound. With the Lollipop Train she produced one album, Junior Electric Magazine, an album that shimmers with incandescent vivacity that is frivolous, sophisticated and engaging – you won’t hear a prettier record. I’m a big fan. Can you tell?
MARK F SMITH PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN
Mark F Smith, mind, not Mark E Smith, because that would be too weird. Wind In The Willows is one of my favourite books that typifies the kind of Englishness that English psychedelic pop of the 60’s aspires to, so it’s only fitting that I play my favourite chapter here – the magical, haunting Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (needless to say it made something of an impression on Syd Barrett, too). Think of it as a bed-time treat. It will take you somewhere far away.
SCHUBERT TRIO IN E FLAT OP.100
I know nothing about classical music – I don’t even know what ‘Op.100’ means – but I do know that I like this, that it fit the mood of comfortable reverie I was trying to create, and that you can find this particular recording on the soundtrack to Tony Scott’s The Hunger, that I played a little something from last week. Seems to me that once the psychedelic bubble burst a lot of bands were burnt out and were looking for something simple and authentic to return to. A lot of bands found it in American country music, others looked to the blues. I can’t really be doing with either – but having enjoyed a bit of Schubert under engaging conditions, say, I don’t think that you can get very much more authentic than this. Bach’s pretty good, too. (And I think we can safely leave The Band at The Big Pink).
THE BEATLES TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
Possibly The Beatles’ finest moment, certainly one of the greatest psychedelic records ever made, if not the greatest – the exhilerating Tomorrow Never Knows. "I want the sound of a thousand Tibetan monks chanting…" said John, and he got it. From 1966’s Revolver, of course, this was the only song I could think of to finish the Mind De-Coder series with. ‘Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream’. Sometimes that sounds like a call to arms…
And that was Mind De-Coder 11. The final in the series by me, at least. I will return later in the year with Meadow Meal.
Until then, thanks for listening. It’s been a pleasure.
And remember kids…just say ‘know’.
(That’s Mick Jagger at the very end, by the way. Just in case it was bugging you.)