Fire & Skill: The Jam Live – 6 CD deluxe box set

‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’
‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’

The Jam was formed in Woking, Surrey, in 1972 by Paul Weller and various friends at Sheerwater Secondary School. In the early days The Jam played local pubs covering early rock and roll songs until Paul Weller discovered My Generation by The Who and became interested in Mod music and lifestyle. Rick Buckler played those early gigs but Bruce Foxton joined the band much later.

On 29 April 1977, Polydor released The Jam‘s debut single,”In the City“, hit the UK Singles Top 40. They went on to become one of the most successful pop bands of their generation racking up no less than 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-WXzz9cZLc

It’s 40 years since Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton & Rick Buckler began performing live as The Jam. The band had a phenomenal impact on pop music and wider youth culture. In their short career, they influenced a generation with their music, style, politics and inspiration.

With Somerset House’s current exhibition and Universal Music’s recent CD ‘About The Young Idea’ which both trace the band’s story in hits and images – Universal/Polydor now announce a live box set that follows the journey through incendiary concert recordings.

Named after the legend painted on Paul Weller’s amp, ‘Fire & Skill’ is a superb six disc box set – featuring six previously unreleased concerts, one from each year of their major-label career….

1. Starting with an early gig at London’s famous 100 Club from 1977, the show featured took place 10 months after they first played the venue in November 1976, and was recorded for broadcast on American radio ahead of the trio’s inaugural visit to US in October 1977 for a six-date tour.

2. A Music Machine show from 1978, featuring most of the 2nd album – ‘This Is The Modern World’. This was The Jam’s sixth live show of the year and one of four low-key shows in the capital to fanfare their new ‘News Of The World’ single under the banner ‘The London Blitz’.

3. Reading University – Feb 1979. Playing material from their breakthrough album ‘All Mod Cons’, this was The Jam’s first live appearance of 1979, and found the band in a radically different place to their showcase at the Music Machine 12 months before. In that time, their third album, ‘All Mod Cons’, had been released to critical acclaim, and their status as one of the New Wave’s most musically substantial and exciting bands had been secured. And Weller was still only 20 years old…

4. Newcastle City Hall – October 1980, previewing songs from forthcoming album ‘Sound Affects’. In the time between the show at Reading University (on Disc 3) and this appearance at Newcastle City Hall 20 months later, there had been more extraordinary developments in the group’s world. ‘Setting Sons’, their fourth album, had given them a Top 3 hit with ‘The Eton Rifles’, which was followed in February 1980 with the stirring Number 1 single, ‘Going Underground’. After three years on Polydor, The Jam had finally become the biggest group in the UK.

5. London’s legendary Hammersmith Palais – December 1981. Part of The Jam’s four consecutive nights, previewing material from the forthcoming final album ‘The Gift’. The shows took in the innovative form of a ‘60s soul revue, showcasing new acts including Bananarama, Department S and TV21.

6. One of the band’s final ever gigs at Wembley Arena – December 1982. Late in 1982 The Jam announced they were splitting up – there would, though, be a final chance for fans to experience The Jam’s astonishing live shows, with a 14-date ‘farewell’ tour announced. The centrepiece was a five-night stand at Wembley Arena, the 10,000-capacity shed next to the London football stadium (the recording here is from the second date), the biggest live venue in the capital.

* Packaged in mini, lift-off lid box with 72-page, colour hard-back book.

* Individual gatefold wallets for the discs, designed as facsimiles of the original tape boxes.

* Includes new essay, period photos, rare memorabilia and set of five postcard prints.

* Remastered at Abbey Road.

* Featuring stunning live versions of all the band’s classic hits and favourites of which only 11 tracks previously released.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-5QN0QaGJE

‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’ 6 CD deluxe box set
‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’ 6 CD deluxe box set

‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’ Tracklisting

Disc One
Live at the 100 Club – 11th September 1977

1. I’ve Changed My Address
2. Carnaby Street
3. The Modern World
4. Time For Truth
5. So Sad About Us
6. London Girl
7. In The Street Today
8. Standards
9. All Around The World
10. London Traffic
11. Heat Wave
12. Sweet Soul Music (b-side of ‘Modern Word’ single)
13. Bricks And Mortar (b-side of ‘Modern Word’ single)
14. In The City
15. Art School
16. Back In My Arms Again (b-side of ‘Modern Word’ single)
17. Slow Down
18. In The Midnight Hour
19. Sounds From The Street
20. Takin’ My Love
21. In The City (encore)

Disc Two
Live at the Music Machine – 2nd March 1978

1. The Modern World
2. London Traffic
3. I Need You
4. The Combine
5. Aunties And Uncles
6. Standards
7. Here Comes The Weekend
8. Sounds From The Street
9. News Of The World
10. London Girl
11. In The Street Today
12. Bricks And Mortar
13. In The Midnight Hour
14. Carnaby Street
15. All Around The World
16. Slow Down
17. News Of The World (Sound-check – bonus track)

Disc Three
Live at Reading University – 16th February 1979

1. The Modern World
2. Sounds From The Street
3. Away From The Numbers
4. All Mod Cons To Be Someone
5. It’s Too Bad
6. Mr Clean
7. Billy Hunt
8. In The Street Today
9. Standards (Originally released on ‘Dig The New Breed’ album 1982)
10. Tonight At Noon
11. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
12. News Of The World
13. Here Comes The Weekend
14. Bricks And Mortar / Batman
15. The Place I Love
16. David Watts
17. Heat Wave
18. ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street

Disc Four
Live at Newcastle City Hall – 28th October 1980

1. Intro
2. Dreamtime
3. Thick As Thieves
4. Boy about Town
5. Monday
6. Going Underground
7. Pretty Green
8. Man In The Corner Shop
9. Set The House Ablaze
10. Private Hell
11. Liza Radley
12. Dreams Of Children
13. The Modern World
14. Little Boy Soldiers
15. But I’m Different Now
16. Start!
17. Scrape Away
18. Strange Town
19. When You’re Young
20. The Eton Rifles
21. Billy Hunt
22. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
23. To Be Someone
24. ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street
25. David Watts

Disc Five
Live at Hammersmith Palais – 14th December 1981

1. The Gift / Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
2. Man In The Corner Shop (originally released on ‘Live Jam’ album 1993)
3. Ghosts
4. Absolute Beginners
5. Town Called Malice (originally released on ‘Live Jam’ album 1993)
6. Set The House Ablaze (Originally released on ‘Dig The New Breed’ album 1982)
7. That’s Entertainment / Tales From The River Bank
8. Precious
9. Happy Together
10. In The Crowd / David Watts
11. Boy About Town
12. Pretty Green
13. Funeral Pyre (originally released on ‘Live Jam’ album 1993)
14. Circus
15. Going Underground
16. Big Bird (Originally released on ‘Dig The New Breed’ album 1982)
17. Little Boy Soldiers

Disc Six
Live at Wembley Arena – 2nd December 1982

1. Start!
2. It’s Too Bad
3. Beat Surrender
4. Away From The Numbers
5. Ghosts
6. In The Crowd
7. Boy About Town
8. Get Yourself Together
9. All Mod Cons
10. To Be Someone
11. Smithers-Jones
12. The Great Depression
13. Move On Up
14. When You’re Young
15. David Watts
16. Private Hell
17. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
18. Mr Clean
19. Trans-Global Express
20. Going Underground
21. The Butterfly Collector (originally released on ‘Live Jam’ album 1993)
22. Dreams Of Children
23. The Gift

‘Fire & Skill: The Jam Live’ is scheduled for released on 30th October 2015 on Polydor / Universal.

About The Young Idea – the Very Best of The Jam

About The Young Idea - the Very Best of The Jam
About The Young Idea - the Very Best of The Jam

To some, The Jam were the most influential group to come out of the punk movement. Whereas their contemporaries referenced Velvet Underground and The Stooges, The Jam introduced a new generation to The Who, Small Faces and 1960s Mod culture. From the outset they looked different. They stood out from the punk crowd when they played the famous punk rock club, The Roxy by wearing sharp, tight fitting black suits, white shirts and black ties as they raced through cover versions like the Motown hit ‘Heatwave‘ and ‘Slow Down‘.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRxHF7AnjjQ

By 1979 the UK was in the grip of a Mod revival courtesy of the film Quadrophenia and new bands The Specials and Madness. At its helm was The Jam and the voice of a generation, Paul Weller – the Modfather. But in 1982, at the height of their commercial success, Paul Weller decided to disband his boyhood group he started with two school friends Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler and start afresh. He very quickly formed The Style Council with The Jam’s session keyboardist Mick Talbot and in the late 1980’s pursued a successful solo career.

Since their demise there has been countless compilation albums of The Jam’s greatest hits, singles and digitally remastered editions of the studio albums. But with an army of followers that never appears to wane, there will always be space for another compilation, so it seems.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdFZSF_LmVo

‘About The Young Idea – the Very Best of The Jam’ is a limited compilation released to coincide with a new exhibition at Somerset House of the same title and organised by among others, Paul Weller’s sister, Nicky.

The 2-CD 47 track compilation features the hit singles, b-sides and a couple of demos including the previously unreleased ‘Takin’ My Love’.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pixTbnvvDUQ

The Jam – About The Young Idea track listing:
Disc: 1
1. In The City (radio ad)
2. In The City
3. Art School
4. Away From The Numbers
5. Takin’ My Love (demo – previously unreleased)
6. All Around The World
7. The Modern World
8. In The Street Today
9. News Of The World
10. David Watts
11. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
12. Billy Hunt
13. To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)
14. English Rose
15. In The Crowd
16. ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street
17. Strange Town
18. The Butterfly Collector
19. When You’re Young
20. Smithers-Jones
21. The Eton Rifles
22. Thick As Thieves
23. Private Hell
24. Saturday’s Kids
25. Burning Sky (demo)
Disc: 2
1. Going Underground
2. The Dreams Of Children
3. Start!
4. Liza Radley
5. Pretty Green
6. Monday
7. That’s Entertainment
8. Man In The Corner Shop
9. Boy About Town
10. Funeral Pyre
11. Absolute Beginners
12. Tales From The Riverbank
13. Town Called Malice
14. Precious
15. Ghosts
16. Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero?
17. Carnation
18. The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)
19. Beat Surrender
20. Move On Up
21. Shopping
22. Pop Art Poem

The Jam – About The Young Idea Tracklisting:Disc: 11. In The City (radio ad)2. In The City3. Art School4. Away From The Numbers5. Takin’ My Love (demo – previously unreleased)6. All Around The World7. The Modern World8. In The Street Today9. News Of The World10. David Watts11. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight12. Billy Hunt13. To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)14. English Rose15. In The Crowd16. ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street17. Strange Town18. The Butterfly Collector19. When You’re Young20. Smithers-Jones21. The Eton Rifles22. Thick As Thieves23. Private Hell24. Saturday’s Kids25. Burning Sky (demo)
Disc: 21. Going Underground2. The Dreams Of Children3. Start!4. Liza Radley5. Pretty Green6. Monday7. That’s Entertainment8. Man In The Corner Shop9. Boy About Town10. Funeral Pyre11. Absolute Beginners12. Tales From The Riverbank13. Town Called Malice14. Precious15. Ghosts16. Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero?17. Carnation18. The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)19. Beat Surrender20. Move On Up21. Shopping22. Pop Art Poem

‘About The Young Idea – the Very Best of The Jam’ is released on Polydor via Universal. It is a timely reminder, if one is ever needed, just how dynamic and powerful The Jam were.

The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy, album review

The Membranes - Dark Matter / Dark Energy
The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy

With so many bands from the 1980s and 90s reforming these days, and who can blame them, it’s with trepidation that I decide to listen to any new material after such a long time away.  We’ve all grown much older, listening to new sounds and influence; got married and had kids; lived, loved, lost… and moved on.

Furthermore, for me anyway, I believe it’s more difficult for a band that in their youth were filled with spitting angst and aggression to be still frothing at the mouth and full of enthusiastic ‘we can all make a difference‘ and sloganeering about a ‘wasted youth‘, while celebrating their fifty-something birthday.  However good, there’s something not quite right, not quite so edgy when middle-aged men with extra pounds and greying hair attempt to relive their youth along with the odd yet ubiquitous original punk with a colourful mohican and studded leather jacket pogoing for a couple of minutes before retiring to the bar for a mineral water.

It’s 2015, and the UK music scene is awash with nostalgia, bands reforming in name alone without original members or dignity.  But then I am asked to review The Membranes new studio album, their first since 1989. In the 1980s, The Membranes were firm favourites  of the late John Peel and have since been cited as a big influence by bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Big Black and Mercury Rev. No better excuse to revisit The Membranes and see if they’ve managed to pull out all the stops or make a right pigs ear of a comeback by not leaving the reunion at a few paydays reciting old favs and classics.

The album starts with the meaty big, powerful and brilliantly titled ‘The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light‘. Dark Matter / Dark Energy opens like the big bang theory.

The album drives straight to the centre of an ever pulsing sun called Planet Prog Rock with a dark alt Kraut Rock underbelly.  As I settled in, for what appeared  to be a comfortably smooth ride, the album unleashes another side to The Membranes ‘sound’ as they explode into the abrasive rockabilly energy of ‘Do The Supernova‘; and with their familiar abrasive, hard-nosed and jagged noise on ‘21st Century Man‘… I’m hooked.

Dark Matter / Dark Energy is a great album that tightens its grip like a boa constrictor.   Three songs deep, and I’m knee-deep in The Membranes, as if they’ve never been away.

I’ll be honest and say, I enjoy 2015 more than 1980s Membranes. Each song stretches my appreciation as the album pulls me from pillar to post.  I feel slightly drained, like I’m trying every ride in a theme park, never quite sure if I’m ready for another ride, but enjoying myself nonetheless.  On  ‘In The Graveyard‘, The Membranes sound expands once more with a slab of mighty white post-punk dub. John Robb plays a throbbing bass line, the likes of Paul Simenon would be chuffed with,  while giving his very best Joe Strummer ‘Armagideon Time’ karaoke.

Dark Matter / Dark Energy is a record about life and death, the universe and space itself.  The album was inspired by a chance meeting between band frontman John Robb and the head of the CERN project who were working on the Higgs Boson project. The album also takes on Robb’s grieving for his father who died midway through the recording. The music weaves noise, Prog Rock drones, discord, dark dub, free punk, heavy rhythms and ultimately freedom into a unique whole of beauty.

John Peel was a big fan of The Membranes; and he’s never wrong.  Maybe I was.

The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy Tracklisting:

1.             The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light
2.             Do The Supernova
3.             21st Century Man
4.             Money Is Dust
5.             The Multiverse Suite
6.             Space Junk
7.             Dark Matter
8.             If You Enter The Arena, You Got To Deal With The Lions
9.             In The Graveyard
10.          Hail To The Lovers
11.          Magic Eye (To See The Sky)
12.          5776 (The Breathing Song)
13.          Dark Energy
14.          The Hum Of The Universe

The Membranes Dark Matter / Dark Energy is released on 20th June on Cherry Red Records.

Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums & BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set

 Alien Sex Fiend - Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set is released by Cherry Red Records
Alien Sex Fiend - Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection

In the early 1980s the New Romantics scene had dissipated. The underground hipsters had moved on.  The fasion had hit the High Streets and the likes of Spandau Ballet and Visage were appearing on Top Of The Pops. What took its place in the underground clubs was a gothic punk scene. The likes of Sex Gang Children, The Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend were making a scene; and the place to be seen was the famous Batcave Club in London, where Nik Wade (AKA Nik Fiend) happened to worked.

Alien Sex Fiend were formed by Nik Wade (Nik Fiend), Christine Wade (Mrs. Fiend), David James (Yaxi Highrizer) and Johnny Freshwater (Johnny Ha-Ha) in 1982 at The Batcave.

The band soon became known in the emerging gothic rock scene for its dark, electronic industrial-leaning sound, heavy samples and loops. They stood out from other bands in that goth punk scene and were ahead of their time in their use of synthesizers, loops and their fusing of industrial sounds with electro beats. They quickly built a loyal fan base from their exciting live performances.

In 1983 they released a cassette (The Lewd, the Mad, the Ugly and Old Nick) produced by Youth (Killing Joke). In the same year, they released the track “R.I.P.” on the Batcave Club compilation, The Batcave: Young Limbs and Numb Hymns. That year they signed to the Cherry Red subsidiary label Anagram, and released their first single, “Ignore the Machine” and the critically acclaimed debut album, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Brain.

The following year, they recorded two John Peel Sessions for the BBC. They managed to outstay the gothic scene and watched their contemporaries fall away before them. But by 1987 they were reduced to a duo as Mr & Mrs Fiend continued to record under the name, even though by now, their most popular days were behind them.

Alien Sex Fiend – New Christian Music
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOKVTJnOj_c

No less than 12 studio albums later, the latest being Death Trip (2010), Nik Wade (Nik Fiend) & Christine Wade (Mrs. Fiend) continue to record and perform live as Alien Sex Fiend.

In February 2015 Cherry Red Records released a 4 CD box set entitled Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection containing the first 4 albums – Who’s Been Sleeping In my Brain, Acid Bath, Maximum Security and It. The box set also includes single mixes, b-sides, rarities and six previously unreleased John Peel session recordings.

Alien Sex Fiend – I Am A Product
Recorded at the Brixton Fridge in September 1984
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtFSeS0hsc

Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection Box Set tracklisting:
DISC ONE
WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BRAIN?

1. WISH I WOZ A DOG
2. WILD WOMEN
3. I’M NOT MAD
4. NEW CHRISTIAN MUSIC
5. WIGWAM WIPE OUT
6. I’M HER FRANKENSTEIN
7. I AM A PRODUCT
8. IGNORE THE MACHINE
9. LIPS CAN’T GO
10. BLACK RABBIT

BONUS TRACKS
11. UNDER THE THUNDER (IGNORE THE DUB)
12. 30 SECOND COMA
13. RIP (BLUE CRUMB TRUCK)
14. NEW CHRISTIAN MUSIC (SINGLE VERSION)

DISC TWO
ACID BATH

1. IN GOD WE TRUST (IN CARS YOU
2. RUST?)
3. DEAD AND RE-BURIED
4. SHE’S A KILLER
5. HEE-HAW (HERE COME THE BONE
6. PEOPLE)
7. SMOKE MY BONES
8. BREAKDOWN AND CRY (LAY DOWN &
DIE)
9. E.S.T. (TRIP TO THE MOON)
10. ATTACK!!!!!! #2

BONUS TRACKS
10. DEAD AND BURIED
11. ATTACK!!!!!
12. BONESHAKER BABY
13. I AM A PRODUCT (LIVE)

DISC THREE
MAXIMUM SECURITY

1. I’M DOING TIME IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY TWILIGHT HOME
2. MINE’S FULL OF MAGGOTS
3. DO YOU SLEEP
4. IN AND OUT OF MY MIND
5. SPIES
6. FLY IN THE OINTMENT
7. SECONDS TO NOWHERE
8. THE BEAVER DESTROYS FORESTS
9. DO YOU SLEEP (VERSION)
10. DEPRAVITY LANE (THINK I’LL TAKE A TRIP…)

BONUS TRACKS
11. IGNORE THE MACHINE (ELECTRODE MIX)
12. ATTACK!!!!! (LIVE AT THE BBC)
13. DEAD AND BURIED (LIVE AT THE BBC)
14. HEE-HAW (LIVE AT THE BBC)
15. IGNORE THE MACHINE (LIVE AT THE BBC)

DISC FOUR
“IT” THE ALBUM

1. SMELLS LIKE…
2. MANIC DEPRESSION
3. BELIEVE IT OR NOT
4. APRIL SHOWERS / WOP-BOP
5. GET INTO IT
6. LESSON ONE
7. DO IT RIGHT
8. TO BE CONTINUED…

BONUS TRACKS
9. BUGGIN’ ME
10. I WALK THE LINE
11. HERE SHE COMES
12. CAN’T STOP SMOKING
13. IN GOD WE TRUST (LIVE AT THE BBC)
14. E.S.T. (LIVE AT THE BBC)

Alien Sex Fiend – I Walk The Line
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nA7KZF94wk

Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set is released by Cherry Red Records.

The Pop Group set to release a new studio album

The Pop Group set to release a new studio album in 2015
The Pop Group set to release a new studio album in 2015

The Pop Group were formed in Bristol in 1978 with Mark Stewart (vocals), John Waddington (guitar), Gareth Sager (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion).

In the open-hearted times of post-punk post-modern late 1970s Britain, The Pop Group fused punk agitpop revolution with a chaotic cacophony of white noise-fuelled garage dub & funk music like none of their contemporaries, that had Nick Cave & The Birthday Party relocating to London in search of a scene, and John Peel inviting the boys in for a session as early as 1978.  Similar to PiL’s Second Edition, it was like nothing else I had ever heard before and left no trace of where it had originated from.

The Pop Group released just two studio albums and a clutch of singles before disbanding in 1981. Band members  went on to join Pigbag, Maximum Joy, Head, The Slits and Rip Rig + Panic.  While Mark Stewart forged a solo career while working closely with Adrian Sherwood & the On-U Sound posse.

The debut album,’ Y’ was released in 1979 and followed shortly thereafter by the provocatively titled ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder’ (1980).  The former was adorned with a photo of a tribe of pygmies with Frank Sidebottom-like mud heads; and the latter came with a morbid poster of a dead body on an old metal-framed bed. The poster took pride of place on my bedroom wall, much to the bemusement of my father.

Singles including ‘She’s Beyond Good & Evil’ and ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ cemented their place in my hallowed record collection; and as time passed, I never thought:

a) The Pop Group would get back together

b) Sound great live if they did

c) Release a third studio album

I was wrong on all three accounts.  The Pop Group blew my socks off last month @ the Islington Assembly Hall and if this new track is anything to go by, so will the new album.

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