Superstars, secret stars, rising stars, and a ghost from the past hovering over it all.
The Internet moves fast. Here’s a fond look back at our favorite links from the last seven days:
AM, Then FM wraps up its “12 Days of Christmas” with a holiday mp3 bonanza [AM, Then FM]
10 fun facts about Krampus, the Christmas Demon [Topless Robot]
Happy Birthday, Keef Richards [The 6149]
Robyn Hitchcock streams unreleased covers of Dylan, Cash, and the Grateful Dead [Slicing Up Eyeballs]
Colin Gawel gives us all a reason to still love Christmas [Addicted to Vinyl]
The Wings for Wheels 2010 holiday mix [Wings for Wheels]
The top 40 albums of 2010 [Popblerd!]
Insane Eagles-Giants play from Sunday’s game, immortalized in Tecmo Bowl [Kotaku]
What up, witches! It’s another year and another Halloween. Last year, I was all boo-hoo over the fact that no one comes to our abode to trick or treat. Sure, we buy candy, and sometimes we wait for the kiddies to come by, but they never do. It’s kind of sad, but we’re pretty much over it. So, what to do? Well I guess I have sublimated my desire to give treats to strangers to, well, here. Oh, and my apologies for not putting a “full mix” here. For some reason Garageband was acting up and it kept freezing right at the last part of the mix down process. But, half a loaf is better than nothing at all, right? Okay, let’s get this party started!
Kimberley Rew is one of those British musicians who is revered among those who take the time to know the history behind their favorite pop tunes, but it would be overstating things to suggest that he is a household name, a fact which will seem particularly ironic once you have learned that he’s the composer of one of the bounciest and best-known songs to emerge during that dastardly decade known as the 1980s.
We’ll hold onto that bit of trivia for a moment, however, as we discuss some of his other credits.
Rew spent the late ’70s and early ’80s as a member of The Soft Boys, a group arguably best known for providing the world with an eccentric songwriter known for writing about fish, women, insects, and balloon men…not necessarily in that order. I speak, of course, of Robyn Hitchcock, who would go on to forge his own recording career after the dissolution of The Soft Boys. Rew did, too, with the release of a well-regarded EP entitled The Bible of Bop which found him backed by members of The dB’s, and somewhere around of the new millennium, he would finally get around to following that EP up with a full-length album (Tunnel into Summer) that subsequently led to a semi-regular schedule of solo releases. From a commercial standpoint, however, Rew’s greatest post-Soft-Boys contribution to music came when he joined forces with Alex Cooper, Vince de la Cruz, and Katrina Leskanich to form…wait for it…Katrina and the Waves.
That’s right: Kimberley Rew is the man who wrote “Walking on Sunshine.”
Tummy Tuch has just reissued the first two indie albums by Katrina and the Waves…entitled, appropriately enough, Katrina and the Waves and Katrina and the Waves 2…but, even more impressively, the label has also opted to reissue Shock Horror!, the record released by the band when they were simply called The Waves (don’t worry, Katrina’s voice still comes through loud and clear), as well as Rew’s aforementioned solo debut, The Bible of Bop. In conjunction with this return to record store shelves, Popdose was provided with the opportunity to chat with Mr. Rew via E-mail, but while we admit that we tend to prefer phoners, we were grateful to see that Rew actually took his time when composing his responses to our questions and gave us some great answers.
Now, where were we?
Oh, that’s right: we were chatting with the one and only Francis Reader, frontman for the Trashcan Sinatras. If you tuned in last week (and you really should have, you know), then you’re already aware that the conversation between Frank and myself was one that was a little freewheeling in its form, but the end result seems to be well appreciated by fans of the band…and, indeed, by members of the band. Our own David Medsker spoke with Paul Livingston a few days later – look for that interview on Bullz-Eye.com in the very near future – and remarked that I really seemed to have caught Mr. Reader in a talkative mood. Well, all I can tell you is that the decision to make it less of an interview and more of a conversation seems to have worked in my favor, and I’m glad that it seems to be going over well. Now, mind you, I did hear from one friend of mine who, after praising the piece, noted that it perhaps wasn’t the kind of interview that the band’s manager would want, given that there was zero mention of the band’s latest album, In the Music.
What luck, then, that there’s quite a bit of chat about the record in the second and final part of our conversation.
Popdose: So what’s Davy Hughes’ status with the band? Did he drop out? Did he just not want to participate anymore?
Frank Reader: Well, Davy’s still involved, but he’s…you know, he’s got a family, and it’s just not the kind of thing, really, where you can give your all your time to it when you’ve got a family and kids to support. Neither me or Paul or Steven or John have got kids, and although three of us are married, John’s married to another musician, and me and Paul are married to very understanding, beautiful women. (Laughs) For Davy, it was just a case where we had to work out a different way of having him involved, and that was…what we kind of do now is that we keep in touch, obviously, and every now and again, he’ll say, “You know, I managed to get ten minutes’ peace from the kids…” (Laughs) “…and I sat down and did a bit of writing, and here it is. If there’s anything you can do with it, do something with it.” So he contributed to In the Music in that way. And it’s great, because it feels good to have him involved, because he’s a touchstone in my life. He was there in the very beginning, although he didn’t play on Cake. He was actually playing with us once or twice before we made an album – when we were just doing covers, he was around then – so it’s good to have involved. It’s kind of “once a Trashcan, always a Trashcan” with him, you know? (Laughs) And the keyboard player we have, Stevie, has been with us off and on since ’95, so he’s more permanent now, too.
He denies being the man who murdered love, but he is one of the men who served as a member of XTC. That’s right, he’s Andy Partridge, and this upstanding musical legend was kind enough to take on the daunting task of answering the questions of the Popdose readership…questions which, it must be said, ranged from the obscure to the ridiculous and hit virtually every spot in-between. Mr. Partridge was a gem throughout the conversation, however, and endured them all with great aplomb, never failing to come back with a witty retort.
(“You bastard” still counts as witty, right?)
Join us now as we enter into the Popdose Interview with the one and only Andy Partridge…
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Mainstream Rock: Silverchair, “Tomorrow” (1995)
John: It’s Jim Henson’s Kurt Cobain Babies!
Zack: Everybody made such a big deal out of this band because the members were so young. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean their music doesn’t suck. It kind of feels like the record company played the role of the doting parents whose six-year-old brought home a laughably bad drawing of the beach cottage the family rented last summer and hung it up on the fridge, all the while snickering behind their hands. And the public, not getting the joke, all agreed that it was pretty terrific.
Will: How far they’ve come. I didn’t give a flying flip about these guys when they first came around selling their wares, and this song reminds me why. (Granted, the video’s a little creepy.) Since they dumped the Nirvana wannabe sound and embraced the glory of the pop hook, their stock has risen considerably. The turning point for me was “Across the Night” — and they’ve remained on my “can’t wait to hear the next record” list ever since.
David: What Will said. I love their last record, Young Modern, and also liked the Dissociatives, that electronic project that Daniel Johns did. But this song still bugs me. So derivative, so void of any personality.
Jeff: It should surprise none of you that I got bored with grunge sometime in the fall of 1991 — right around the time “Even Flow” or “Alive” was reaching its 10,000th spin on our local rock stations — and by the time Silverchair came around, anything that sounded the least bit like flannel was switched off immediately. I know this was just one aspect of Silverchair’s sound, but I’ve never bothered to check up on their later recordings, despite Will’s evangelism.
As I wait for another fine, upstanding artist to find time in their busy schedule to provide me with answers to the Q&A I’ve sent their way, I thought I’d tackle one of my favorite obscure various-artists collections.
Alvin Lives (In Leeds): Anti Poll Tax Trax isn’t by any means what you’d call the most consistent compilation, but I’m a huge fan of cover songs, and I always find it fascinating to listen to how some artists play it safe and do straight-up Xeroxes of the originals while others have the balls to switch up the arrangement or even the melody to make a song their own. This 12-track compilation came out on Midnight Music in 1990 as a reaction against the so-called Community Charge, which was instituted by good ol’ Maggie Thatcher in 1989 and proved so tremendously unpopular that it led directly to her departure from office. Her successor, John Major, alleviated the problem by replacing the Community Charge with the Council Tax system, but Brits can still relive their painful memories by revisiting this CD and remembering just how up in arms they got about it back then.
I stumbled upon this compilation when I was in the UK for the first time, back in 1992, and was scouring through every CD store that crossed my path, looking for all the obscurities I could possibly fit into my bag. This mission ultimately proved so successful that I needed to mail an entire box of CDs home, which was a pricey endeavor, but I don’t regret it for a moment, as just about everything I purchased on that trip remains in my collection to this day. At the time I purchased it, I was familiar with less than half of the artists, but it really only took six words for the disc to find its way up to the cash register:
Robyn Hitchcock does “Kung Fu Fighting.”