Posts Tagged ‘Cherry Red Records’

The announcement that Lush’s Miki Berenyi had formed a new group called Piroshka was pretty exciting on its own but learning the rest of the line up made it even more so. The rhythm section is former Elastica drummer Justin Welch (who was Lush’s drummer on their 2016 comeback tour) and Modern English bassist Mick Conroy (who filled in for Phil King who quit Lush right before their final show). But the real excitement for me was learning that KJ McKillop of Moose (and who has two kids with Miki) was part of the band too.

Not a lot of people remember Moose, who formed in 1990 and were part of that initial UK wave of bands that formed right after My Bloody Valentine and Ride blew up in ’88/’89. It’s also generally accepted that the term “shoegaze” was first used in a Sounds review of an early Moose gig — they said singer Russell Yates spent more time looking at the lyric sheet taped to the floor than the audience so they earned their place in indie history right there. But they were also one of the best bands to come from that scene, even though they largely abandoned the loud guitar miasma sound after their first two (great) EPs. Starting with 1991’s Reprise EP, Moose let singer Russell Yates‘ vocals come more to the fore (it turned out he had an appealing, low key melancholic voice) and distortion pedals gave way to jangly guitars and country influences.

With their debut album ...XYZ, which they made with Let’s Active main man and early R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, there were no heavy elements in their sound, though “dreampop” still applied. They also discovered strings which, along with even stronger country flourishes, really shaped the sound Moose would carry out through the rest of their career. XYZ is one of the ’90s great lost albums — their label Hut dropped them and deleted it a week after being released — filled with sparkling, understated guitar pop with gorgeous, inventive arrangements that reveal new layers with repeat listens. It’s also got a cover of Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking” and guest vocals from Dolores O’Riordan whose band The Cranberries were still a year away from releasing their debut album. XYZ was, from the start, almost impossible to find (especially in America) but Cherry Red reissued it on CD in 2014 with a bunch of bonus tracks, including the U.S. Sonny & Sam compilation of Moose’s early EPs (which I think was their only U.S. release ever). If you’ve never heard this album, fix that today!

After an EP on their own label, Moose signed with PIAS for their next two records: 1993’s Honey Bee, which furthered their string-laden country dreampop sound; and 1995’s Live a Little, Love a Lot, which took them into jazzier territory. Both records featured Mick Conroy (who’s now in Piroshka) and The Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser on guest vocals (which wasn’t too hard of a get as Moose bassist Lincoln Fong was a recording engineer at the Cocteau’s studio, and his brother [and Moose guitarist] Russell makes handcrafted guitars and basses that Robin Guthrie and the band used). Around this era they also had incredible drummer Richard Thomas who played on records by Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Felt, Dif Juz, The Wolfgang Press, and more.

Moose’s final record would come five years later — 2000’s High Ball Me! which saw them incorporating loungey, Mondo Morricone-esque elements to their sound. Moose went silent almost immediately after High Ball Me!’s release though they never officially broke up. All four of their albums are terrific and worth seeking out, though only ...XYZ and Live a Little Love a Lot are on streaming services.

One more note: Even though onetime 4AD artist Chris Bigg designed the Piroshka logo, I would love to see the group work with Laura Lockton, who designed the stunning covers to Moose’s first three albums.

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There are two ways of remembering the late Mick Ronson. One is as the immortal guitarist/pianist/arranger for David Bowie, before (or after) sprinkling magic across everyone from Ian Hunter to Bob Dylan, from Elton John to Ellen Foley, and so many more that there’s no room to list them.  And the other is as the purveyor of two of the most amazing albums that the 1970s ever birthed, before he decided he really didn’t want to be the star of his own show, and got back to making other people sound astonishing. In 1970, Mick Ronson changed the career of David Bowie and went on to work with Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Morrissey and more.

Although Ronson’s career was defined by his time with Bowie, there was a significant before and after. In the 1960s he played in various Hull groups, including The Mariners, who were advised by Rolling Stone Bill Wyman to change their name to the King Bees at around the time Bowie was also fronting a group called Davie Jones And The King Bees; and The Rats, whose main claim to fame was a 1967 single called The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone.

Benny Marshall was The Rats’ lead singer and a close friend of Ronson. “Mick was the best guitarist in Hull, so when he left to head down south and join Bowie, I was pretty upset,” he says. “John Cambridge, our drummer, had played with Bowie on [the album] Space Oddity. He was the bloke who went back to Hull in January 1970 with the brief to find Ronson and bring him to London. He found Mick marking out the lines on the municipal football pitch.”

Cambridge did as instructed and the pair were introduced at the Marquee club, where Bowie was playing on February 3rd, 1970. Two days later Ronson had learned the riffs and song structures well enough to back Bowie, Cambridge and Tony Visconti for a John Peel Radio 1 show live in concert at the Paris Theatre in Lower Regent Street in London. They did 15 songs, including a new number, Width Of A Circle, and plenty of material from Bowie’s recently released self-titled second album. Reaction was positive. This was better than Bowie’s regular gig at the Three Tuns pub in Beckenham. Ronson moved into Bowie’s Haddon Hall apartment on Southend Road in Beckenham and became part of the family.

Having tired of the hippie collectivism, Bowie wanted to make a hard rock album. As Visconti said later: “We respected groups like Cream, but we didn’t have that in us. We needed someone to be [that] important element, and that somebody was Mick Ronson.” Everyone loved Ronson’s laconic Northern humour too, especially Bowie, whose father and mother came from Yorkshire and Lancashire respectively. He’d send Ronson up and get just as good back.

Before this auspicious occasion, bass player Rick Kemp had also scouted Ronno to play on fellow Yorkshireman Michael Chapman’s second album, Fully Qualified Survivor. “Michael said his producer Gus Dudgeon didn’t want him to play electric guitar,” says Kemp, “and asked me did I know anybody? I mentioned Ronson, which wasn’t a good career move for me, letting this little runt in. Gus told me to find him. I was driving a Morris 1000 with the wings flapping off and I spotted him working, mowing lawns. I put the question: ‘Do you want to play on an album?’ He replied: ‘What do you mean? One that’s in the shops for sale, like? And I get paid?’ I took him down to London, and within minutes of arriving he’d got the runs for glory.”

Tony Visconti insists that Ronson came to Trident Studio in September 1969, when the David Bowie album was being finalised: “Mick came to the mix of Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud, and was persuaded to play a little guitar line in the middle part and joined in the handclaps on the same section.”

In April, sessions began for The Man Who Sold The World. It was a brilliant album, but another commercial flop. It was so badly received that Bowie was convinced to ditch the band, and Ronson, Visconti, ex-Rat Woody Woodmansey and Marshall took the collective name Ronno and released a single, 4th Hour Of My Sleep/Powers Of Darkness, a freestyle rock-metal affair that showcases Ronno’s blistering Les Paul playing. It sank without trace, although Vertigo Records later included both sides on their Superheavy Vol 1 and 2 compilations.

Later on, Ronson’s crunching heavy metal attack, allied to arcane Wagnerian, dystopian, mind-fuck lyrics, was hailed as a masterpiece. Certainly Ronson’s contributions to Bowie tracks such as She Shook Me Cold, Running Gun Blues and the epic Width Of A Circle cemented his place, leading Bowie to call him, with a smug smile, “my Jeff Beck”.

Bowie’s 1970 album “The Man Who Sold The World” had not been a commercial breakthrough, but it added to Ronson’s confidence. Visconti and Ronson had masterminded the sound, dashing off arrangements in the Minstrel Gallery or the basement at Hedonism Hall while Bowie canoodled with Angie elsewhere, chucking out lyrical fragments in between romps. She Shook Me Cold, the dirtiest song he ever wrote, was directly about Mrs Bowie, but it was Ronson who provided the Jimi Hendrix-style intro and the power trio setting à la Cream. Later, Angie lamented the fact that Ronson didn’t receive the publishing he deserved: “In terms of kudos and feeling that one is valued, it would have been nice for Mick Ronson to have had publishing credits.”

Ronson had already written a mini-score for four recorders, used in the break in All The Madmen. It was a start. “I thought: ‘Well, if you can do that then so can I.’ I went out for dinner with Dana Gillespie, who had tracks that needed strings, and David said: ‘Oh, Mick’ll do that!’ I never had, but it was great. It was all done in your head and then straight to piano and guitar. David pushed me forward. That was his thing. He made stuff happen.”

Bowie was now heavily reliant on Ronson. On Hunky Dory the guitarist finally got his credit, as the arranger of Changes, Life On Mars?, Kooks, Quicksand and Biff Rose’s Fill Your Heart, virtually copied note for note. In retrospect many have noticed how similar the sound of Hunky Dory is to Michael Chapman’s Fully Qualified Survivor, including Chapman himself.

Ronson wasn’t fazed by his burgeoning role, giving the Royal College Of Music-trained Rick Wakeman instruction for the now iconic piano parts on Life On Mars?. On the Ziggy Stardust epic Five Years, his string section whipped up the hysteria. On Suffragette City, it was Ronno who came up with the funky, lurching ARP synthesiser sound that many mistake for saxophones. All those years studying piano and violin and listening to string quartets in Hull paid off.

After the rise comes the fall. On October 20th,1973, Mick Ronson played with David Bowie on stage for the last time in that decade. Only 200 people saw the appearance in the flesh, shot for NBC’s The Midnight Special.  Dubbed The 1980 Floor Show, it was a strange day. Bowie serenaded supposed transsexual Amanda Lear on Sorrow, and he and Marianne Faithfull duetted on Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe. Marianne was wearing a nun’s habit with the back cut out and no knickers, so everyone in the band could see the most sought-after arse of swinging London, although the audience couldn’t.

Bowie hated the end results: “shot abysmally”. This was the night Ziggy Stardust truly left the building, which may explain why a smiling Bowie ended each song with an affectionate pat on Ronson’s white satin-clad back. The two men wouldn’t appear on the same stage together again until 1983, when they reunited for a song at a show in Canada on Bowie’s Serious Moonlight tour. In 1970, Mick Ronson changed the musical fortunes of David Bowie, a struggling singer-songwriter with two novelty hits behind him. Together, and with their band the Spiders From Mars, they reinvented Bowie musically and created some of rock’s best-loved albums: Hunky Dory, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Aladdin Sane. Afterwards, Ronson struggled to match that initial success,

If the Ziggy album was a Ronson tour de force, the follow-up, “Aladdin Sane”, was a mixed blessing for him. His contributions were immense, but so were those of recently arrived pianist Mike Garson, whom Ronson had auditioned, later advising him to “make yourself indispensable. That’s what David likes. Don’t just be a session man.”

His work on Lou Reed’s Transformer effectively rescued Reed’s career after his debut solo album had bombed. “It was a good experience for me,” said Ronno. “Lou’s guitar was always out of tune, so I’d kneel in front of him and tune it properly. He didn’t care, cos he was so laid-back.” And without his contribution, Transformer might never have got off the ground. “It came out pretty well,” Ronson said. “Though I didn’t know what the hell [Lou] was talking about half the time. He’d say stuff like: ‘Can you make it sound a bit more grey?’”

Fortunately the album was a roaring success. “Transformer” is easily my best-produced album,” Reed said. “That has a lot to do with Mick Ronson. His influence was stronger than David’s, but together, as a team, they’re terrific.”

In the summer of ’73, having finished his sessions for Bowie’s covers album “Pin Ups”, most of which he’d arranged as usual, Ronson returned to the Château d’Hérouville studios outside Paris and made his solo debut album, “Slaughter On 10th Avenue”Bowie chipped in from a distance, gifting the songs Growing Up And I’m Fine, Pleasure Man/Hey Ma, Get Papa and a rough translation of Lucio Battisti’s ‘Io vorrei, non vorrei, ma se vuoi’, now christened Music Is Lethal. RCA weren’t overjoyed with what they heard, and the album’s release date was put back more than six months to 1974.

This box set focuses on the latter, rounding up 1974’s “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” and the following year’s “Play Don’t Worry”, and then adding two further discs of sessions, out-takes, and live tracks that trace Ronson through 1976… no longer interested in making a new LP, but curious what it might sound like. A lot of these have leaked out over sundry past collections, and once past the thrill of hearing that voice, that guitar. But the two albums that preceded these tapes, the two that were released  in the wake of his departure from Bowie’s band, at a time when it seemed inevitable that Ronno would be rock’s next stellar superstar… they are a different matter entirely.

Slaughter was especially delicious, a combination of covers (Elvis, Annette Peacock, Richard Rodgers), Bowie originals (“Growing Up and I’m Fine” and the co-penned “Hey Ma, Get Papa”), and Ronson’s own work with former SRC frontman Scott Richardson, it stood – and still stands – as perhaps the ultimate statement on glam rock, a collection of songs that could journey from early rock to modern jazz, from dark Europa to vivid glitter, and make the whole lot hang together.

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Other bands on the circuit were playing with each of these elements individually… listen to “Hey Ma,” and there’s the blueprint for what Cockney Rebel would do next. “Only After Dark” was scything rock, “Growing Up and I’m Fine” would have suited Roxy Music. 

But the opening “Love Me Tender” and the closing “Slaughter” itself do more than bookend the party. They offer up their own interpretations of what music could be made to do, the first building slowly until the vocal breaks your heart; the last lifting you so high that nothing could bring you down after hearing it. And live, it was even more stirring.

In 1976, at the height of his cocaine addiction, Bowie had washed his hands of the good old days. “I gave them [his band the Spiders From Mars] more life than I intended,” he said. “And I was also getting honestly bored. There’s only so much you can do with that kind of band. I wanted no more to do with that loud thing. Hurt my ears. Wasn’t pleasing my mind too much either. Since then, poor Mick has completely missed his vocation. From his faulty solo career right on down. I’ve been disappointed. He could have been amazing. I just don’t know. Christ, I haven’t spoken properly with him in years.

Evidently Bowie’s cage was rattled by Ronson’s comment: “David needs someone around him to say: ‘Fuck off, you’re stupid.’ He needs one person who won’t bow to him.” Bowie’s reply was: “I’ve got God. Who’s Mick got?”. “There was certainly a time when David relied on Mick,” says singer Dana Gillespie, a fellow MainMan artist and mutual friend, “but he’d drop all communication with you. Mick was badly hurt when David never returned his phone calls.”

In fairness, Bowie became more charitable later. “Mick was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character,” he said. “He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so what you got was the old-fashioned yin and yang thing. As a rock duo I thought we were as good as Mick and Keith.”

Within months Ronson was back in another band, joining Mott The Hoople for what would be their final single, Saturday Gigs. Ronson and frontman Ian Hunter had bonded back when Mick had knocked up a string arrangement for Mott’s Sea Diver, but the other Mott guys resented the arrival of this ‘rock star’ in their midst, with MainMan and RCA sending limos for their boy while Mott travelled together in a bus. Tired of the conflict, Hunter split the band.

Ronson went back to his solo career. Bowie didn’t take part in follow-up album Play Don’t Worry either, but allowed Ronson to use the backing track from the cover of the Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat considered for the American attempt at a Pin Ups album but soon discarded.

Play Don’t Worry was excellent in parts. Not a natural songwriter, Ronson did himself proud on the opening Billy Porter, his take on Claudio Baglioni’s ‘Io me ne Andrei’, translated into Empty Bed, and versions of two songs by Pure Prairie League, whose 1972 album Bustin’ Out featured his guitar and strings.

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“Play Don’t Worry” was a more straightforward collection… the opening “Billy Porter” could have made it onto Slaughter without disturbing that album’s perfect equilibrium, but “Angel #9” looked back to Ronson’s work with the Pure Prairie League in the early Bowie days; “Girl Can’t Help It” was an excuse for him and Ian Hunter to go full-bore Little Richard on our ears; and “White Light White Heat” was an out-take from Bowie’s Pin Ups sessions, with Ronno’s vocal instead of the other guy’s.

It’s still a great album, hanging together with consummate ease, and hitting all the right spots – the solo that dominates “Angel #9” is one of his finest ever, and the self-penned title track shows what  cracking songwriter he was, just as  “This Is For You” illustrates what a great, and expressive, voice he had. Still it’s a shame that one of the finest performances on the session, a gentle piano-led cover of another Annette Peacock number, “Seven Days,” only made it out as a b-side, but it’s also one of nine bonus tracks appended to the album, so that’s alright then. (Eight join Slaughter.)

Ronson returned to the studio with Bowie to create demos for future Diamond Dogs tracks 1984 and Dodo. His work wouldn’t appear on the finished album, a creepy, avant-garde affair, but his trademark guitar style did in the shape of Rebel Rebel, almost a Spiders From Mars pastiche riff, played now by Bowie, Ronno’s platinum-coated spectre was fading into the background.

After Bowie and Lou, where do you go? Ronson produced and played on Ian Hunter’s magnificent debut solo album, with that signature opening flash of epic genius, “Once Bitten Twice Shy”, and Hunter inspiring one of Ronson’s most fearsome solos by showing him a bad review for Play Don’t Worry before he went in to lay down a guitar part on The Truth, The Whole Truth, Nuthin’ But The Truth.

In 1975 Ronson moved to New York, rented a place on Hudson Street near the Meatpacking District and enjoyed the city with his best friend Hunter, who had provided safe haven via Mott The Hoople, Mott and the Hunter Ronson Band.

This is where they met Bob Dylan, who invited Ronson to join his band of gypsies, the Rolling Thunder Revue, after a meet engineered by Dylan’s main fixer, Bob Neuwirth. That evening began at the Bitter End on Bleecker Street. “We weren’t Dylan fans at all,” .“Mick thought he sounded like Yogi Bear. But Ian took us anyway. And Dylan played the Desire album and he was mesmerising, Ronno was soon back with Hunter, appearing on You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic and Welcome To The Club. With his solo career on hold, he became a full-time producer. He worked with Van Morrison, John Mellencamp and Roger McGuinn, and there was production work with artists as varied as David Cassidy, Slaughter And The Dogs and the Rich Kids.

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Again, there’s nothing here that hasn’t seen the light of day before, but having them all in the same place is definitely a bonus, and there are some glorious inclusions, including a cover of Bowie’s “Soul Love” that Ronson retitles “Stone Love,” and decidedly NOT a cover of “Life on Mars,” which is the song he performed during his solo spot on the Rolling Thunder Revue.

A handful of tracks from a projected Ronson live album include another b-side, “Leave My Heart Alone,” which is also another Pure Prairie League track;  there’s some jams and alternate versions, and even an interview recorded for Teen magazine in 1974, and given away free as a flexidisc.  Oddly, and completely out of place, there are also two numbers recorded on the 1979 Hunter-Ronson tour, but both fit in perfectly… a tremendous version “Angel #9,” and the show’s traditional opening number, the Shadows’ “FBI.”

The accompanying booklet tells Ronson’s story well, and pulls some great images from the archive, and with his own seventies catalogue now neatly corralled, maybe we can start to dream about the other box set Ronson deserves, documenting his life as a sideman. Morrissey has the fondest memories. “Everyone who worked with Mick expresses devotional love for him, whereas people who worked with Bowie express admiration. Mick told me that he alone wrote the main guitar hooks for Starman, The Man Who Sold The World and others – not just hooks, really, but grand choruses in themselves.

Ronson played guitar on Your Arsenal but didn’t want a credit. “Again this was Mick’s unaffected Cinderella aspect, which I later saw in Jeff Beck when I worked with him on my Years Of Refusal album,” Morrissey recalls. “Jeff and Mick were identical in the way that they would quietly pick up their guitars without fanfare, and as they sat in the corner they’d plug into the desk and a tingling earthquake would erupt without any discourse. And they both made their guitars sound like grand pianos.”

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In the late 1980s, Ronson’s health began to cause concern. He was diagnosed with liver cancer, something he neither made a secret of nor chose to acknowledge as a threat. Instead he threw himself into projects such as Morrissey’s Your Arsenal and Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise. He also kicked off a fine version of All The Young Dudes with Bowie and Hunter at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium on Easter Monday, 1992, which was the last time his fans saw him on stage.

On Ronson’s posthumously released Heaven And Hull, he wrenched out some of his finest ever work, particularly on Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, with Bowie’s astounding vocal inspiring the guitarist to take the song to another planet. And he still had enough time to play on The Wildhearts’ My Baby Is A Headfuck, recorded weeks before his death on April 29th, 1993. He spent his last hours in the company of Hunter, Suzi and sister Maggi at Tony Defries’s house on Hasker Street in West London.

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As the British Invasion kicked in the hits dried up for The Everly Brothers; the one bright spot was ‘The Price Of Love’ near-topping the UK charts in 1965; yet Warner Brothers kept faith and the fall of 1966 would find them in a Los Angeles studio with the session elite. Over the following two years they conjured a body of material – three albums and a plethora of singles and out-takes – staggering in both its invention and realisation. RPM bring it all together in this essential three CD collection. The Hit Sound Of The Everly Brothers and The Everly Brothers Sing came in quick succession, mixing intelligent re-workings of rock’n’roll songs – an extraordinary slowed-down ‘Blueberry Hill’ – with contemporary covers like ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, and two excellent Jimmy Webb songs – ‘She Never Smiles Anymore’ and ‘When Eddie Comes Home’.

Equally fine were the compositions of Terry Slater – often co-writes with the Everly wives Jacqueline and Venetia. Slater and Jacqueline would conjure ‘Bowling Green’ the one chart hit of this period. Roots had a clear concept, framed around The Everly Family radio shows of the 40s and 50s, but predominantly featured newer songs from Haggard, Glen Campbell, Randy Newman, and Ron Elliott; among the out-takes is Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Mr Soul’. Over the years Roots’ reputation has only grown; the same deserves to be true for the rest of this rich collection.

In 2014 The Everly Brothers’ legacy was saluted at the Americana Music Assn. show , held at The Troubador, Los Angeles. The artists in the show including Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Rodney Crowell, T Bone Burnett, Joe Henry, Asher, Rhiannon Giddens, Jim Lauderdale, Dawes, the Milk Carton Kids, used The Everly Brothers music as its musical anchor. With the current widespread rise in popularity of Americana music as a genre, now seems a good time to reappraise and re-establish one of the first true Country Rock albums – the 1968 Everly Brothers album ROOTS. This box set presents the build-up story to this landmark album.

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Originally released in 1999, “My Beauty” was the second solo album from Dexys/Dexys Midnight Runners’ lead singer Kevin Rowland. The album was mostly unfairly received by critics at the time, but in the years since has come to enjoy cult status. This reissue is the first time “My Beauty” has been available on vinyl and on CD with its originally intended track-listing.

“My Beauty” comprises twelve cover songs, personally chosen by Kevin and adapted to make the lyrics more directly reflective of his life. The result was an autobiographical concept record about his battle and recovery from addiction, and his own struggle with self-esteem, exemplified by his incredible version of George Benson / Whitney Houston classic ‘The Greatest Love Of All’.

Kevin’s choice of style for this record was men’s dresses – in stark contrast to the prevailing mood in the late 1990s of British lad rock. The cover design was a radical look for the time – silk dresses, stockings and make up, not cross-dressing but a look that was undoubtedly feminine.  The album was released on Oasis’ label Creation, after Kevin was signed by Alan McGee (who loved Kevin’s new look and labelled it “punk rock”). However, “My Beauty” was to be the last record released before Creation folded and the chaos that surrounded the label meant they hadn’t secured approval for the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’. Despite its flowing, elegant music, the album was viciously savaged by most critics, with some focussing on Kevin’s choice of attire rather than the quality of the music.

Now in 2020, on the album’s 21st birthday, the world has changed and it’s high time to re-evaluate this modern masterpiece. Only ever previously released on CD, “My Beauty” has been remastered by original co-producer (with Dexys stalwart Jim Paterson) Pete Schwier and Marco Migliari. Two new videos have been filmed. The first – for ‘Rag Doll’ – is mimed by a young man in make-up, dressed in a gender fluid way. It’s a look that has become rightly incorporated into modern society, and by the end of the video, it’s revealed the man is Kevin’s grandson Roo, importantly closing the circle on what has been a painful experience for Kevin.

Over time, some music critics have re-evaluated “My Beauty” as a lost classic. Kevin has lived through all of this, and it was a painful experience to be outcast and dismissed. Now that attitudes have changed, hopefully the music can finally reach the audience it deserves and Kevin can tell his story.

Kevin Rowland’s brand new video for his interpretation of Rag Doll. Taken from the forthcoming reissue of My Beauty, out September 2020 on Cherry Red Records. Video directed by Jack Satchell. Original VHS footage of Concrete and Clay video kindly supplied by Daniel Cooke.

First time on vinyl for this long-overlooked classic and is a Limited Edition pressing on baby pink vinyl.

Recorded at Stockholm’s legendary Vattenfestival, or Water Festival, during a European tour, ‘Swedish Fist’ captures Dinosaur Jr on ear-bleeding form, months before the group disbanded and undertook an eight year hiatus.

Performing material from across their career, including the classic ‘Freakscene’ and long-term live favourite ‘Sludgefeast’, this is a group doing what they do best – playing loud and hard in front of an enthusiastic audience.“Swedish Fist” will be available exclusively on Record Store Day 2020 and pressed in limited quantities on marbled chocolate coloured vinyl.

Today would have been Record Store Day, and though the event has been postponed and stores are not open you can still visit many of your favorite indie stores and support them online! When the rescheduled Record Store Day does come around, look for “Swedish Fist” from Dinosaur Jr. and Cherry Red Records,


Buzzcocks require no introduction. Pivotal to the punk and post-punk DIY movements, the group, led by frontman Pete Shelley and co-conspirator Steve Diggle, brought an essential pop sensibility and sartorial style to the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Having disbanded in 1981, the band re-grouped in 1989 and continue to write, record and perform to this day, despite the saddening and untimely loss of Pete Shelley in 2018. This handsome box set captures the eight albums and numerous singles the band produced with Shelley during a twenty three year period, alongside previously unheard rarities, demos and outtakes.

Packed with remarkable music, including excellent re-visits of much of their best loved material on ‘A Different Compilation’, ‘Sell You Everything’ showcases a longevity and a hunger rarely seen in a band now into their forty-second year.

Released in association with the band, ‘The 1991 Demo Album’ is alive with the combination of punk energy and melodic and memorable song writing the band’s reputation is founded on, and is both a long-awaited treat for fans and an important document of the group’s rebirth

When the Buzzcocks broke up following what, sad to say, were the worst three singles they’d ever made, it did feel as though that was it. What had been one of the sharpest, fun-est, poppiest and most successful of all the first generation punk bands was no more. Of course, now we know better. Reuniting in 1991, the band not only outlived their original incarnation, they dedicated the best part of quarter of a century to renewing, if not always refreshing, their legacy across what is now gathered together as an eight CD box set that contains… everything.

From the 1991 Demo LP that announced their return; through Trade Test Transmissions (1993), All Set (1996), Modern (1999), Buzzcocks(2003),Flat Pack Philosophy (2006) and the self-released The Way (2004), adding on demos, home recordings and live tracks, plus a collection of rerecordings that take us back to their first ever EP, this has to be the last word on the Buzzcocks archive.

In terms of the actual music, little had changed – Pete Shelley could still be relied upon to write the quirky sharp pop, Steve Diggle remained a rocker at heart. The balance of the songwriting would change over time, however. For the earlier albums, Shelley continued to pen the lion’s share of the songs; by the time of Buzzcocks, and again on The Way, the division was almost equal.

It was a smart move. In many ways, the later albums in this box are the most even, with the two songwriters almost-but-not-quite invading the other’s territory. Few people, one imagines, would ever hold up one of these albums as a true rival to Another Music in Another Kitchen or Love Bites, the first two albums from 1977/78. But in terms of solidity and, to an extent, an aversion to either novelty or space-filling jams, they are certainly stronger.

Of course, all bets are off as we confront disc seven. Subtitled A Different Compilation, it is the sound of the Buzzcocks readdressing their past from a couple of decades on, learning the lessons that both hindsight and however many live renditions had taught them, and what the likes of “Noise Annoys” “Oh Shit,” “Whatever Happened To” and “Ever Fallen In Love” lose in terms of freshness, they gain as true rock classics.

At their best, the Buzzcocks were one of the national treasures of punk-and-thereafter. We will never see their like again, but at least we can hear the whole story.







Shoes box

Having created a grassroots buzz with their homemade proto-power pop classic Black Vinyl Shoes, Illinois band Shoes duly attracted major label interest, and they signed to Elektra Records in early 1979. Over the next three years they released a triptych of classic pop albums – Present Tense, Tongue Twister and Boomerang – and a clutch of Wurlitzer-worthy seven-inch nuggets that should have catapulted them to fame, fortune and all manner of related excess. Sadly, however, they never quite made the leap from critics’ darlings to Top Thirty success, and the band were obliged to settle for enduring cult status as power pop avatars. But while rock-star level fame and fortune never quite came their way, Shoes do have the considerable consolation of knowing that their body of work has stood the test of time far better than many of their more commercially successful contemporaries.

This 4-CD anthology of the band’s recordings for Elektra, fleshed out with a swathe of pre-album demos, “lost” songs, alternative versions and live tracks dating from the same period, is a veritable smorgasbord of perfect pop from a time when Shoes were genuine contenders for rock’s glittering prizes. Housed in a stylish clamshell box, Elektrafied contains a 32 page booklet that features rare photos and a new 10,000 essay on the band’s adventures during their sojourn with Elektra Records.

Beat Poetry For Survivalists is the new collaboration between Peter Buck and Luke Haines. Peter Buck was the guitarist for the biggest band in the world – REM. Luke Haines was the guitarist for the Auteurs. The Auteurs were not the biggest band in the world. They were pretty good though. Luke Haines also does paintings of Lou Reed.

One day, Peter Buck bought one of Luke Haines’ Lou Reed paintings. They had never met before but decided that the fates had brought them together and they should write some songs together and make an album.

Beat Poetry For The Survivalist is that album. With songs about legendary rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, The Enfield Hauntings (of 1978), a post-apocalyptic radio station that only plays Donovan records, Bigfoot, and Pol Pot.

Beat Poetry For Survivalists is the new collaboration between Peter Buck & Luke Haines. ‘Jack Parsons’ is the first single and track from the new album

Peter has two new albums out this month including a collaboration with Luke Haines (ex-Auteurs) called Beat Poetry for Survivalists as well as new material with the No Ones called The Great Lost No Ones Album.

Beat Poetry for Survivalists which Peter calls “a freaked-out post-apocalyptic beast of a record,” was released on March 6yj on Cherry Red Records (UK) and Omnivore (USA) while The Great Lost No Ones Album will be released on March 27th on Yep Roc Records.

In addition, Peter will be touring in support of both records this spring,

Fickle tastes and trends aside, the Peter Wolf-produced Peace in Our Time (“King of Emotion”) was a slick, topical tour de force to mark the end of the ‘80s, and No Place Like Home (“We’re Not in Kansas”) and Buffalo Skinners (“Alone”) were all a series of terrific, hard-rocking album releases to greet the ‘90s.

But Big Country had lost its foothold on the pop charts: No Place and Skinners weren’t even released stateside, which raised the stakes for “Long Face” and tested the group’s mettle with minders, marketers, and bean-counters at Transatlantic, Castle, and Pure Records.

Formed in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1981 by the band’s guitarists and founder members Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson, Big Country quickly broke worldwide with their initial album “The Crossing”, selling over 2 million copies and receiving 3 Grammy nominations in the US. Success continued, and the band went on to put out another 5 highly regarded albums before the release of “Why The Long Face” in 1995.

With original singer Stuart Adamson at the helm, Big Country scored 17 top 30 singles in the UK, and achieved 5 gold and platinum albums during the period.

This release includes not only the full length album “Why The Long Face”, but also their live 1996 album “Eclectic”, plus a huge array of bonus tracks and band demos, including alternative and acoustic versions of classic tracks such as ‘In A Big Country’ and ‘You Dreamer’, plus a whole load of rarities including Big Country’s cover versions of Alice Cooper’s ‘Teenage Lament’, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Down On The Corner’ and Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My’.

All material contained within has been freshly remastered especially for this release. It Comes packaged in a clam shell box set, with booklet containing full sleeve-notes documenting the band’s activities throughout the release of the album.

Suffice to say, ...Long Face didn’t broaden Big Country’s audience as intended. Following a similar fate as The Seer seven years prior, the disc—packed with muscular, melodic guitars and bold, book-smart verses—sated core fans but didn’t yield any radio hits or MTV mainstays like “In a Big Country” and “Fields of Fire.”

The album’s under-performance on the charts never really warranted it being overlooked by listeners (who by now had latched on to Nirvana, Dave Matthews, and Pearl Jam) or its dismissal in the annals of rock history.

That injustice is precisely what makes Cherry Red’s reassessment so crucial.

Handsomely packed in a sturdy yellow case (instead of original powder blue) with another photogenic Doberman on front, the 4CD set  “Why the Long Face” 2018 includes not only the remastered ’95 album, but three extra CD’s worth of bonus Big Country tracks, demos, covers, and in-concert cuts from that era (1994-1996).

Disc One contains the album proper—fourteen tracks of sparkling guitar (clean and crunchily distorted), robust rhythms, and intelligent lyrics (about love, regret, and hope), all anointed by another serving of the same hardy, anthem-like refrains that made Big Country famous.

Opener “You Dreamer” rides high on a bagpipe-esque guitar riff and rugged, dirty power chords (courtesy Adamson and Bruce Watson) before introducing Stuart’s vignette of forgotten souls in pizza shops (where “prescription junkies” “watch the window fill with flies”). It’s an electrifying ode to shattered dreams that ponders a plethora of what-ifs and what-might-have-been…yet—in true Big Country form—keeps positive rather than give up the ghost to adversity.

“Is this the way that you believed your life was gonna turn out?” muses Adamson (quite possibly about himself). “Is this the better world that you were making all those plans for?”

Then there’s the typical (but effective) valentines to both imagined paramours (“One in a Million,” “Send You”) and humanity at large (“Message of Love”), reflections on personal triumphs and private travails (“I’m Not Ashamed,” “Wildland in My Heart”), and sundry entries (“Sail Into Nothing,” “”God’s Great Mistake,” “Post Nuclear Talking Blues”) that couple the Dunfermline four-piece’s penchant for outdoor themes (nature, freedom, adventure) and affinity for its signature Scottish sound into upbeat, zeitgeist-sensitive zingers.

Disc Two is jam-packed with bonus tracks including single edits of “Dreamer” and “Ashamed,” early / alternate takes of “One in a Million,” and acoustic versions of old standbys “In a Big Country” and “All Go Together.” There’s also a bunch of extra songs that didn’t make the album (but might’ve popped up on the band’s Rarities series later), like “Crazy Times,” “Ice Cream Smile,” and “Bianca.” This is also where fans will find working versions recorded by Adamson, Butler, and company at House in the Woods studio in Surrey (“Hardly a Mountain,” “Can You Feel the Winter”).

Disc Three is a digitally-retouched edition of the in-concert Eclectic album released by Castle Communications in the year following …Long Face. Recorded live at Dingwalls in London in late March of ’96 (and long since out-of-print), the album shines with a mix of old and then-new Big Country classics (“River of Hope,” “Where the Rose is Sown”), all rendered before an elated audience. Also on the menu here is an assortment of choice cover songs that speak to the band’s early influences (The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My,” CCR’s “Down on the Corner.” The smoldering set (with bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki underpinning the guitar hysteria with glorious grooves) also features guest spots by British vocalist/actor Bobby Valentino, rocker Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel), and American soul singer Kym Mazelle.

The Long Face prototype is represented by Disc Four: This is where collectors and curators will discover working versions of the tunes that would be polished up later for the final version of the album. Workshopped at various locations in Scotland and England (Audiocraft, Riverside, Chapel, HITW), this missing-link record presents some of Adamson’s best ideas in a stripped-down format. But most the program is dominated by near-finished “jam” versions of “Dreamer,” “Message,” “Ashamed” and other stand-outs that sound—unlike most demos or garage versions—almost as concise (in performance) and as crystalline (in production) as the finished Long Face LP.

So if you know Stuart Adamson and Big Country only by their earliest “essential” hits, now’s as good a time as any to revisit the well and get acclimated with the group’s strong, inspirational, and sorely-overlooked middle catalog. And there’s never been a better opportunity to take those first steps than with this respectfully-rendered Long Face deluxe box.

Cherry Red Records are repressing the 29 track expanded edition of The Armoury Show’s ‘Waiting For The Floods’ CD, available 10th January. This 2CD 29 track compilation includes the original album, plus 7″ & 12″ mixes and many b-sides.

This collection features various versions of the band’s singles: ‘Castles In Spain’ (album / single DJ edit and 12″ Wubb Dug mix), ‘We Can Be Brave Again’ (album / single remix / extended version), ‘Glory Of Love’ (album / single DJ edit / Universal mix), ‘New York City’ (single / N.Y. A Go Go mix / John Robie remix / John Robie Dance mix).

Other bonus material features the b/sides: ‘Innocents Abroad’, ‘Is It A Wonder’, ‘Catherine’, ‘A Gathering’, ‘Ring Those Bells’, ‘Higher Than The Instrumental’, ‘Tender Is The Night’ and ‘Whirlwind’ spanning 1984-1987. Also included, from the cassette version of the original release, is ‘Jungle Of Cities’.

The album has been remastered and the CD booklet will feature many of the original sleeves and a full UK discography.

The Armoury Show were formed in 1983. Richard Jobson and Russell Webb came from the ashes of The Skids. John McGeoch had enjoyed stints in Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees. John Doyle also had been in Magazine who had disbanded in 1981. The band signed to Parlophone and released six singles including a second outing for ‘Castles In Spain’ and the one full studio album “Waiting For The Floods”.

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