heard on the wire

You lose your sting and die


A friend and reader suggested recently this week that ELO might have been better than New Order. Doctors have been called. (He’s a Brentford fan, so he has previous).

He was referring to the bands’ performances at the recent Glastonbury festival, where Jeff Lynne’s ELO, as the hirsute, prog-ish, sometimes-pretentious rockers are now known, brought lots of grey-haired, pot-bellied men of my age to the Pyramid stage on a soggy afternoon. Later New Order lit up the night sky on one of the festival’s plethora of other stages, presumably to an audience comprising, in a not insignificant part, of grey-haired, pot-bellied men of my age.

Now, as a broad- and open-minded individual (stop laughing at the back), I decided to give both sets a listen. ELO started with some pub-rock, derivative tedium that lasted until a couple of songs from the end, when they played Mr Blue Sky. A bit of Beethoven from the Orchestra bit of ELO strung (geddit‽)the entertainment out for a few seconds more, before Lynne & Co reverted to type. To paraphrase the Smiths, I tried and they failed.

Thence to New Order and a show that began with the outstanding track of last year’s Music Complete, a song that deserves to be listed among the finest that the world’s greatest ever band* have ever recorded. (*See, told you I had an open mind on this.)

Released as single this year, the track was taken by Erol Alkan and remixed onto a whole new level. Single of the year by miles and miles.

New Order // Singularity [Erol Alkan’s Extended Rework]

Such is the infrequency of New Order LPs that each one feels like a comeback. Particularly the last one, the return of Gillian Gilbert on keyboards lending new vigour to the sound after the plodding indifference of Waiting for the Sirens’ Call.

Freshly invigorated could also be applied to Lucky Soul, who have returned after a six-tear hiatus. The news single steps away from the Dusty-inspired sixties soul of their first two LPs and embraces the Philly sound of the early-to-mid seventies. Lush doesn’t even come close.

Lucky Soul // Hurts Like a Bee Sting

How long does an artists have to be dormant, recording-wise, till their new record can be considered a comeback? If we were to set an arbitrary five-year timespan then Helen Love could have been the the indiepop comeback queen, having released just two LPs since 2002. But now she’s gone and spoils it, by releasing a handful of singles and two new long-player in the last four years. The latest, Smash Hits, holds no surprises. You know exactly what you’re going to get, great pop tunes with Helen’s unique lyrical twist (and in this case a blatant lift of a Van Halen riff). More of the same please.

Helen Love // Thank You Poly Styrene

It took six years for Emma Pollock to deliver her third solo LP, when certainly puts it in the comeback category. A return for her much-loved former, band, the Delgados, seems unlikely, but while she’s making records as good as In Search of Harperfield is it even necessary?

Emma Pollock // Parks and Recreation

We started with Jeff Lynne’s ELO comeback and we finished with Emma Pollock. Well almost. Just imagine what could happen if you combined them. I know This is the third time I’ve posted this. But the Delgados showing ELO how good their best song can be is always worth another listen.

The Delgados // Mr Blue Sky

Audio MP3

And all that talk of comebacks without once mentioning the Fall, the ultimate never-went-away band. Damn, I’ve gone and done it again.

Since the first single in 1978, Mark E Smith and his multitude of incarnations have released a record every year, save for those barren days of 2014. This is the eponymous track from latest.

The Fall // Wise Ol’ Man

Audio MP3


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One Response

  1. Sav says:

    To be fair my bigging up of ELO was slightly tongue in cheek [I’ve only ever bought one of their records – their first single when it first came out!] But I did think they were impressive, especially as they had a daylight slot and it was raining. Personally I think they showed they have a lot of well-crafted tunes, as of course do New Order!

    As for pub rock, there’s nothing wrong with paying 50p to go into the back room of a pub and watch Dr Feelgood or Nick Lowe or Ian Dury.



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