Posts Tagged ‘Norman Blake’

May be an image of 6 people

A leading light of the short-lived C-86/anorak movement of the mid-’80s, the BMX Bandits stood at the epicenter of the Scottish pop music scene for over a decade; however, despite helping launch the careers of talents ranging from Teenage Fanclub and Eugenius to the Soup Dragons and Superstar, they never grew beyond the confines of a fervent cult following, though they never gave up making sweet, idiosyncratic pop music. The band was essentially the vehicle of singer/guitarist Duglas T. Stewart, a Bellshill native and onetime member of the Pretty Flowers; he formed the band in 1985, sarcastically selecting the name “BMX Bandits” out of his belief that they would fall apart after only one gig.

Instead, the group became a popular local attraction, and soon signed to Stephen Pastel’s 53rd and 3rd label. Recorded with a line up of Stewart, bassist Sean Dickson, guitarist Jim McCulloch, drummer Willie McArdle, and backing vocalist Billy Wood, the BMX Bandits‘ charming 1986 debut single, “E102,” launched them to the forefront of the C-86 uprising, despite being denied a spot on the NME magazine compilation cassette of naïve jangle pop that gave the movement its name. By the follow-up, “What a Wonderful World,” both McArdle and Dickson had exited, and were replaced by ex-Boy Hairdressers bassist Joe McAlinden and drummer Francis MacDonald; Dickson soon founded his own band, the Soup Dragons, the first of many BMX Bandits spinoffs to eclipse the original group’s success.

Janice Long session 23​.​06​.​86

The first BMX Bandits session for long time supporter Janice Long. never before released on vinyl and featuring crazy version of early live favourite “Strawberry Sunday”. Includes free download of original BBC files plus sleeve notes by Duglas – and a set of three postcards.

http://

Songsheet:
Strawberry Sunday
The Day Before Tomorrow
Groovy Good Luck Friend
Girl In The Pink T-Shirt

Janice Long session 09​.​04​.​87

BMX Bandits’ second BBC session for Janice Long – featuring Jowe Head, Norman Blake and an unreleased cover version of jazz classic “Take 5” with lyrics. Comes with free download of original BBC files and sleeve notes from Duglas – plus a set of three postcards.

http://

Songsheet:
Flipper
Rosemary Ledingham
Figure 4
Take 5

Get both double singles in one go in this package featuring the two BMX Bandits session releases, namely Janice Long 23.06.86 and 09.04.87 – plus all the postcards. It’s the same records just a bit cheaper than buying them separately and save on postage!, Classic BBC radio sessions (and maybe other rare stuff) by artists we like in lovingly curated vinyl packages with exclusive sleeve notes and pics. Coming up: the Jasmine Minks, BMX Bandits, Blueboy, Heavenly, Marine Research and more … and yes, let’s make this precious
“How can someone not like BMX Bandits???” Tim Burgess

Releases March 1st, 2021

Star Wars (30th Anniversary edition)

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of BMX Bandits seminal sophomore LP Star Wars, Past Night From Glasgow will release the remastered album on Vinyl on May 4th (Star Wars Day)

Featuring the classic BMX Bandits line up: Stuart, McAlinden, Blake, Kelly, Keen and MacDonald the album is jam packed full of chiming guitars and catchy choruses not to mention the odd spectacular ballad. The sleeve has been updated (new wallpaper no less) and now features a die cut photo frame with an inner printed horse, how’s that for classy updates?, Rock & roll is not a game for those with innocent hearts. Fortunately, there have been a few people with innocent hearts who have slipped through the cracks and brought a real sense of joy to the music scene. One of them is Jonathan Richman and the other is Duglas Stewart and his BMX Bandits cohorts (including Francis MacDonald, Norman Blake, and Joe McAlinden, amongst others).

Perhaps these artists are not literally innocent, but the music they bring to the table is passive, pure, and carefree, not aggressive or mean spirited in nature. The Bandits, of course, are one of Scotland’s great unsung bands, sharing members with Teenage Fanclub, the Soup Dragons, Superstar, and others, yet steering a clear path of their own with captain Stewart and co-pilot MacDonald at the helm. Stewart’s voice is a strange mix of Mike Love, Lou Reed, and Richman, but works perfectly within the context of the Bandits’ music. With the sweet-voiced McAlinden (later of Superstar) handling lead vocals on a few tracks (and backing vocals throughout), there is a nice balance that saves the album from certain monotony.

Loaded with pop songs galore and beautifully produced by Duncan Cameron and the band, Star Wars is the first in a line of great Bandits albums. From the joyful “Come Clean,” “Students of Life,” “Life Goes On,” and “Do You Really Love Me?” to the heart-tugging “Extraordinary,” there is hardly a wasted moment within earshot. If you can imagine the sheer pop genius of Teenage Fanclub with Mike Love singing lead, then you may have an idea of what you’re in for. And if you could put wide-eyed innocent pop back onto the charts, then BMX Bandits would be superstars. 

May be an image of 6 people

742 teenagefanclub endlessarcade cd3 1400

The first album in five years from Teenage Fanclub is also their first without bassist and vocalist Gerard Love. In his place, the group recruited Euros Childs of the Welsh band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. “The whole process of making this album was very invigorating,” guitarist and vocalist Norman Blake said in a press release. After a 2018 vinyl reissue series put many of their iconic albums back in print, “Endless Arcade” looks to be another welcome reintroduction to Scotland’s power-pop giants. Losing a songwriter as good as Gerard Love, who bowed out of Teenage Fanclub in 2018, would be a blow to any band, but luckily TFC still have two other great singer/songwriters in Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley and now count former Belle & Sebastian’s David MacGowan as a member. Despite those major lineup shifts, TFC’s jangly, harmonious sound is likely to remain un-phased.

Even if we weren’t living through extraordinarily troubling times, there is nothing quite like a Teenage Fanclub album to assuage the mind, body and soul, and to reaffirm that all is not lost in this world.

Endless Arcade follows the band’s ninth album Here, released in 2016. It’s quintessential TFC: melodies are equal parts heart warming and heart aching; guitars chime and distort; keyboard lines mesh and spiral; harmony-coated choruses burst out like sun on a stormy day.

In the 1990s, the band crafted a magnetically heavy yet harmony-rich sound on classic albums such as Bandwagonesque and Grand Prix. This century, albums such as Shadows and Here have documented a more relaxed, less ‘Teenage’ Fanclub, reflecting the band’s stage in life and state of mind, which Endless Arcade slots perfectly alongside. The album walks a beautifully poised line between melancholic and uplifting, infused with simple truths. The importance of home, community and hope is entwined with more bittersweet, sometimes darker thoughts – insecurity, anxiety, loss.