heard on the wire

There’s a noise on the wire


There’s something essentially comforting about travelling the flatlands of the east of England by train, the apparently endless vistas broken only by pylons and cooling towers. It’s a landscape where the gentle triumphs over the majestic, where you’ll never hear a gasp of wonder but find, instead, the space and time to occasionally close your eyes and let your chosen music wash over and through you.

Unfortunately, the database on my iPod classic is corrupted, a catastrophe (of sorts—let’s retain a little perspective) that can’t be resolved until I can reunite it with its iTunes in a few hours’ time.

So in place of my chosen music, I’m relying on the playlisted subset of my iTunes collection to the proverbial table to provide my seat 42 soundtrack. It’s a smart mix of old and new, of oft-heard tunes that comfort me still and forgotten or little-played gems that delight as if discovered all over again.

So, in an attempt to recreate that experience, here is a selection of those tunes, starting in 2011 with what seems to be the only release by Washington DC’s Ivory Splinters.

The Ivory Splinters :: Does the Sun Still Rise in the East?

It does, though it’s conspicuous by its absence right now as we leave the flatlands and approach Yorkshire, home to a quartet who released their only LP in 2004.

The Blueskins :: Magpie Blues ⬇ [iTunes]

Audio MP3


Word of mouth failed to make a hot of Word of Mouth, but the Wakefield band subsequently enjoyed their 15 minutes when the LP’s third track, Change My Mind, soundtracked an ad for Lynx deodorant.

Such fame has yet to come beckoning at the Motherwell doors of A Sudden Burst of Colour, whose post-rock would be the perfect accompaniment to any journey. If that journey ended at Fir Park, more’s the better.

A Sudden Burst of Colour :: Zen

There may be more to come from them, but not from this Herefordshire septet whose 2010 EP left an all-too-small imprint on the history of rock ’n’ pop.

We Do Kung Fu :: Volume ⬇ [free]

Audio MP3


Volume is what you’ll be turning up for the excellent free compilation that includes the the best cover I’ve heard this year. A take on the Shangri-Las’ second, 1964 single, it’s what Adele might sound like were she given a hefty injection of sixties soul and a better musical director.

Amy Lynn and the Gunshow :: Remember (Walking in the Sand)

That’s also on the band’s debut LP, Don’t Trip on the Glitter, which has to be worth a listen.

It’s debatable whether many would say the same of any Boomtown Rats LP, not least because Bob Geldof, the band’s singer and principle songwriter, appears to have annoyed people by objecting to hunger and debt strangulation.

He’s no saint, of course, a multimillionaire businessman not averse to accepting a fee and other inducements to talk about the poverty he condemns.

His solo career is best forgotten, likewise the last three of the six LPs he recorded with the Rats. The first three, however, have their moments, provided you navigate carefully between some of Geldof’s more questionable lyrical utterances. One of those moments opens the third LP, 1979’s The Fine Art of Surfacing.

The Boomtown Rats :: Someone’s Looking at You

Photo: Surveillance; some rights reserved.

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