We come to the letter which has the most entries in the box.
First up we have a bit of Italian, New Orleans fusion and the best use of harmonica and banjo together that I have in my collection. In The River by Fab Samperi was one of those records that the first time I heard it, it stopped me in my tracks and I knew that I would not be happy until I had. It took quite a bit of searching before I found a copy of this bad boy I can tell you.
I have always liked St Etienne but thought of them as a singles band rather than as somebody that I would sit down and listen to an album by all the way through, up until quite recently, Foxbase Alpha being the only album that I owned but those singles both seven and twelve inche being well into double figures. I have had a great time over the last few years discovering the very many brilliant album tracks that up until then I was ignorant of. But for me it always comes back to the first two singles. The second of which, a cover of the Field Mice song, sung by Donna Savage edges it. For me it is a brilliant summer song and evokes long sunny days coming down after a brilliant night of excess and over indulgence that really comes into it's own just as you are starting to feel human again. The first single in it's 12" Weatherall remix form is in the big box.
No self respecting record box would be complete without a Sex Pistols record and for me it has to be the EMI promo copy of Anarchy In The UK but as I don't own a copy of this rather pricey artifact I will make do with my copy of Pretty Vacant. A better song in my opinion, I think the intro is full of foreboding and Lydon's vocal is at its menacing best on this single.
Fife's finest, The Skids were responsible for more than a few great singles , I can think of six truly great and a further five really good ones. Woman In Winter is probably my favourite although Circus Games and Charade come close. One thing that does kind of bond all the singles together is the fact that I have never been able to work out what the fuck Jobbers is going on about in any of them, with the possible exception of Charles, who worked in a factory.
I suppose if you had to pigeon hole Slow Club they would be called nu-folk or some such thing. I think that they make a great racket and whose lyrics are very witty and clever. I just love the frenetic pace of Trophy Room and the drumming reminds me of the Woodentops.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Shoegaze when it sort of evolved in the late 80s, early 90s. I did like My Bloody Valentine but I think my prejudice lay in the fact that I saw it as progression of Goth which I really despised. Another thing that put me off was the awful dress sense and the uncleanliness of its followers with their matted hair, holey jumpers and manky footwear. How could these people not keep their trainers clean for fucks sake? The whole lot of them needed to be rounded up and stood in front of a fully functioning water cannon. I did however, love the first Slowdive album and Catch The Breeze in particular.
Strychnine by the Sonics is a song I came to courtesy of Mark Edward Smith and his cover version from a Peel session back in 1993. When I eventually got my hands on a Sonics compilation I found out that Strychnine wasn't their only great original track, Psycho and The Witch being nearly as unhinged as the track the Fall had covered. They also made a great job of covers themselves, whether it be The Night Time Is The Right Time, Louie Louie or the numerous others.
What can I say about Sonic Youth apart from they have recorded some great stuff over the years, they have also produced some things which I find practically unlistenable. One thing I would never have said was " You know who I think Sonic Youth should collaborate with? Chuck D. You know I can really see that happening". But it did on the second single from their excellent 1990 album Goo. Possibly the band at their most accessible.
I once described Handsfree by Sonny J to be the bastard child of Nancy Sinatra and Quentin Tarantino, if he made music and not films but my description was influenced by the video for the track which is very Tarantioesque but I still think that it is the sort of tune that could crop up in one of his films, the strange mix of the country vocal and the mariachi horns.
Up The Junction is just my favourite kitchen sink drama song and one of the best records ever, period. But I always wondered why having a bath on Sunday was an event worth singing about, was it that unusual? We are back to personal hygiene issues again. Does anyone own a copy of this on black vinyl as I think the only copies I have ever seen are on lilac coloured plastic?
Gangsters is another classic, the start of a label, musical genre, youth movement and the habit of people wearing ill-fitting Sta-Prest trousers and three button jackets that looked good on the members of the Specials etc but not so great on your average 10/11 year old in Lanarkshire. But what a tune and also with The Selecter on the flip side you get two great bands on one single.
There are times when I think that Spiritualized are the best band in the world. I'm not sure why I Anyway That You Want Me is in the box over Smile or Good Dope Good Fun or any the others. Probably because it was the band's first single when they were more of a band. Pierce sets his stall out from the beginning on this cover of the Chip Taylor song, although the sound would get much deeper over the years all the elements are there right from the off.
Phil Spector has had quite a few mentions on this blog and Silence Is Easy will undoubtedly be his final production unless he gets a group together in prison but I think that those days of prisoners producing music while incarcerated in correctional institutions are over. To be honest this is not a bad record for him to be associated with. I would however like to hear, if there are any, the recordings that Starsailor made of the track before Spector got his hands on it.
One of the best gigs I've ever been to was in 2003/2004? when I saw The Raveonettes, as I said last week the Raveonettes gigs are always great even the night that the mixing board blew up. The reason that this gig was so special was not only the headline band but the support also blew me away that night. I had never heard Stellastarr before but from about half way through the first number they had me sold, the energy was amazing and after two or three songs I was a fan. They had a sound deeply indebted to British indie of the 80s, I could hear bits of the Cure, the Bunnymen and a whole load of the best bits of Big Country. Somewhere Across Forever was the band's first single and is a prime example of the energy and sound of the band. I have seen them live on three further occasions and after the last a guy standing next to me turned round and said "that was fucking brilliant, I bought a ticket on spec, best fucking tenner I've spent in a long time" and he was not wrong.
Long suffering readers of this nonsense will know of the dilemma that happens every March for me. To go or not to go, that is the question and see SLF at the Barrowlands on St Patrick's Night. It's not because the band will be rubbish, as they never are, it's just that with maybe with one random thrown in , you know what the set is going to be and it's quite depressing to see the amount of people that the last thirty odd years really haven't happened for. The Clash excepted, SLF are my favourite punk band and at one time there were 5 singles in the box but over the last couple of years three have had to make way for other things with only Suspect Device and Alternative Ulster, the first two singles remaining. Alternative Ulster was the second single I ever bought, from a stall at Wishaw market. Suspect Device although the first single by the band was purchased or more probably swapped a couple of years later, not quite sure which. The thing about these singles and everything up to and including At The Edge is the rawness and sheer force of the sound, even now all these years later there is an energy off of these singles that is missing from a lot of punk records, I'm not saying that Jake Burns and the boys were more "real" and meant it more than any of the rest but they did really capture that sense of urgency in the recording better than most.
The final single in the S's is by a band who were hailed by the NME at the time as the saviours of indie rock. I have always been suspicious of such claims and to be honest at that point in time I wasn't particularly bothering about white middle class boys with guitars and vared not a jot if the genre were thriving or not, so I was a little late to pick up on the Strokes but when I heard Last Nite, I really enjoyed what I heard and bought the single, quickly followed by the album. From the outset the track always sounded quite familiar but it was a while until I realised what it reminded me off, American Girl by Tom Petty, a big favourite of my mate at school Ben, the boy who introduced me to R.E.M.
So that's yir whack for the S's.
Fab Sameri - In The River
St Etienne - Kiss And Make Up
Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant
Skids - Woman In Winter
Slow Club - Trophy Room
The Sonics - Strychnine
Slowdive - Catch The Breeze
Sonic Youth - Kool Thing
Sonny J - Handsfree (If You Hold My Hand)
Squeeze - Up The Junction
Special A.K.A. - Gangsters
Spiritualized - Any Way That You Want Me
Starsailor - Silence is Easy
Stellastarr* - Somewhere Across Forever
Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster
The Strokes - Last Nite
Squeeze -Up The Junction