heard on the wire

Slam dance the cosmopolis


Some bands go on and on, churning out record after record, selling millions, flying the world in private jets, filling stadiums. Others go quietly about their business, putting smiles on the faces of the few lucky enough to hear their music. These aren’t the bands you’ll hear on daytime radio—you’re lucky to hear them on nighttime radio these days—and who’ll never to get to join Jools for the jam sketch.

They may leave a substantial legacy, like the recently retired Ace Bushy Striptease, or they may just leave a handful of songs that can only leave us thinking what might have been.

Take Swansea’s Adelines for example, who’ve brought to an end their brief career, leaving behind just a couple of excellent singles and these three tracks. It’s a scant legacy, but there’s so much here to love that we can scarcely complain. The private jet, however, will have to wait.

The Adelines :: Farewell

Brighton’s Popguns enjoyed a ten-year recording career before calling it a day in 1996. But the lure of the stadium was just too much and they returned to the stage in 2012. A new LP is promised this year, but meanwhile, courtesy of the fantastic and fantastically cheep Indietracks 2014 compilation, here’s their fresh take on their indiepop classic, Waiting for the Winter.

The Popguns :: Still Waiting for the Winter

Decades can’t help but come to an end, but their spirit lives on. The Yearning are the latest in a list of 21st century bands like the School and Lucky Soul who mine the wealth of sixties pop and soul for their inspiration but manage to sound entirely fresh and of their time.

Dreamboats and Lemonade is their third long player and the perfect accompaniment to long summer afternoons.

The Yearning :: How Will I Know?

If pop of the most soothing kind is your thing then you could do a lot worse than downloading the entire archive of free music available from the wonderful EardrumsPop.

Their latest project is three LP’s worth of collaborations. But Tom Jones murdering Prince with the help of the Art of Noise this isn’t.

The highlight may be the meeting of two bands who’ve featured here before, Spook School and Just Joans.

As with all EardrumsPop releases, the three Between The Waves—The Second Wave releases include a neat booklet. Volume C’s reveals that this song has an accompanying, if slightly unsettling, computer game and that the band’s name was borrowed from the swiss army knife-wielding genius of eighties TV fame.

We quite wanted to use the opportunity of having a band that could potentially only ever have one song to choose a band name that links with the song title. So we chose Ivor MacGyver ’cause “Ivor MacGyver—Saliva” has a pretty nice phonetic ring to it and we quite want to make up a silly music video where we splice up clips from the show MacGyver to make it look like he’s the “single boy” in the song.

We’re waiting. Meanwhile here’s the “slight wee acoustic song” written by the Just Joans’ David Pope turned into “a snarling indie disco monster”.

Ivor MacGyver :: Saliva

Of course there have been bands who can fill stadiums and make millions while remaining innovative and exciting and avoiding the horrendous trappings of excess. The Clash left us with many of the finest records of all-time in an all-too-short career brilliantly documented by Don Letts in The Clash: Westway to the World.

By the time the band came to record their fifth LP, Combat Rock, the natural divisions within the band where becoming cracks. Cracks that were only widened by drummer Topper Headon’s heroin habit, which neither sat well with many of Joe Strummer’s lyrics nor with the job of keeping the beat.

In the jazz days the saxophone section would be addicted to heroin. The drug has a nature. That surely suits horn playing cause you can float over the music doing your thing, but it doesn’t suit drumming which is like nailing a nail into the floor. The beat’s gotta be there.

The Clash, thankfully, didn’t have a saxophone section. Instead this track, an under-appreciated work of genius, has beat poet Allen Ginsberg providing the commentary to Strummer’s lament.

The Clash :: Ghetto Defendant ⬇ [iTunes]

Audio MP3


The Clash’s place in musical, indeed cultural, history is secured. Stanley Winston is unlikely to make the footnotes. This was among the ten records John Peel chose in 1984 for Radio One’s My Top Ten and if it weren’t for the late DJ, the only extant recording by Winston may have been forgotten.

As far as I know it is the only record this bloke made. And I wrote to a chap who specialises in deep soul records up in Wakefield—I don’t know if he is still in business—and said, you know, just send us 15 or 20 of what you regard as being the very best records and this is one that he sent me. And the man’s voice is just stunning. And what is so frustrating about it is the knowledge that he is probably still alive, working as a janitor or something like that and nobody is interested in recording him.

Stanley Winston :: No More Ghettos in America ⬇ [iTunes]

Audio MP3

Photo: airliners.net.

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