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This page last updated
Mon, May 9, 2005 5:11 pm


THE CLASH: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THEIR MUSIC PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 8 2005
A CHRONOLOGICAL SONG-BY-SONG ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE ENTIRE CLASH CATALOGUE. WITH ADDITIONAL SECTIONS ON COMPILATIONS, FILMS, DVDs AND SOLO CAREERS. Available online through amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and at all good bookstores.


HEDONISM Tony Fletcher's debut novel is available mail order in the USA from Barnes&Noble.com. It's available mail order in the UK from amazon.co.uk or musicroom.com.
More info on Hedonism here.

REMARKS REMADE The first ever R.E.M. biography fully updated with ten new chapters covering Reveal and beyond. Available at UK bookstores, amazon.co.uk and musicroom. Available at select stores in the States and through BN.com.

MOON The American edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com, bn.com and amazon co.uk. More info here

DEAR BOY The British edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com and amazon co.uk. More info here.

Limited hardback editions of Dear Boy/Moon remain available through amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and barnes&noble.com.


Never Stop: The Echo & The Bunnyment Story is out of print.

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The iJAMMING! HITLIST
SPRING (CLEANING) 2005

A hectic bout of spring cleaning has unearthed innumerable prized personal artifacts from under, within and between various boxes that have otherwise been doing little but turning moldy these last few years in the Brooklyn basement. Fortunately, with the exception of some foreign editions of my R.E.M. book, just about everything has been well enough stored to have avoided accumulative dampness damage, and as well as those old gig lists that I talked about a few weeks back, I've been having fun going through diaries, photos, posters from yesteryear.

Best (if most daunting) of all, I've been back through my many boxes of cassettes. God knows how many of these quaint old audio files I must own, but I'd probably place it in the several thousand. And every time I think that the format is so cumbersome, so archaic, and of such poor sound quality that I may as well put them on the street and be done with it, I start playing some of them and realizing just how much more great music I own that I had ever thought. In the early days of iJamming!, the occasional rummage through cassette boxes inspired a Lost/Forgotten Classics series, but there's no time for such lengthy ruminations any more. Here's a brief run down on some of what hit the tape deck last week – and the memories they provoked.

LIVE AT THE NASHVILLE - THE SPECIALS (June 1979)

An audience recording and one we might presume is a bootleg but for the fact that 'Too Much Too Young' sounds suspiciously like the one that ended up on the top of the British charts a year later, this live tape was a trader's fave during The 2Tone heyday. And well it should have been, for if there's a better example of a band still playing the small clubs, on the brink of stardom, at the peak of its powers, and with a fanatical following already singing along to most of its words, well, I haven't heard it. In fact, you could scrap just about all the Specials' studio work, and present this instead as ample proof of their early brilliance. The set, so lively you can visualize the skanking, is perfectly dated by youth cult references. A breathlessly energized Neville Stapleton refers to the audience as "rude boys," though they prefer the soon-to-be-prevalent chant "skinheads." An equally motivated Terry Hall disses The Sun for its treatment of the mod revival as introduction to 'It's Up To You.' And the gig ends with an encore dedication to "the next band to sign to 2Tone Records," and a ferociously enjoyable version of that group's impending hit cover: Prince Buster's 'Madness.'

LOVE TRACTOR/AROUND THE BEND – LOVE TRACTOR (IRS), 1982/83

Hard to believe listening back to this "double-play" cassette, but the almost all-instrumental Love Tractor were once the biggest band in Athens, so much so that early drummer Bill Berry seriously considered committing to them over his friends in R.E.M.. Twenty-plus years later, history confirms that Berry, who has a solo songwriting credit for 'Motorcade' on the 19782 debut album, ultimately made the right decision: Love Tractor's party music is endearing enough, but only in short doses.

SOME SOUL KITCHEN - COOK DA BOOKS (Kiteland) 1984

History has Cook Da Books down as Liverpudlian also-rans, but listening to this album-length cassette – which I'm not sure ever saw vinyl release – that would appear to be our loss. Subtly synth-based, quietly grooving and perpetually, um, soulful guitar rock that was not, at the time, soft enough to be considered popperly commercial nor hard enough to be considered credibly rock, Some Soul Kitchen has endured surprisingly well. You might, if you were a Peel fan of the era, recall 'Wouldn't Want To Knock It' or the reggae-fired 'Piggie In The Middle Eight.' For my part, I recall an absolutely mental night in Zurich featuring a bunch of Liverpool bands (including The Icicle Works) during which Da Books sized up some potential trouble makers in the crowd and asked me if I was ready to join them for a rumble. The second song 'Gotta Learn How To Fight' takes on greater resonance with that memory in mind. It's sterling stuff any which way you listen back on it – and don't blame the band for the fact they weren't sufficiently fashionable.

SOUND OF CONFUSION/THE PERFECT PRESCRIPTION – SPACEMEN 3 (Fire), 1986/87

Last year, I helped edit/proof a biography on Spacemen 3. Wanting to listen as I read, I instead encountered major gaps among my CD collection – which seemed odd given that I felt like I was familiar with Spacemen 3's music itself. And here's my explanation: I had the albums on cassette all these years. As yet, I've only made my way through these two releases, of which I found the seven-song Sound Of Confusion far superior to the 'proper' debut album The Perfect Prescription. I'm not sure if that's despite, or because of the fact, that it features three cover versions, but I know that finale 'O.D. Catastrophe' sets out the group's stall in fiery form – and warns all too clearly that underling Jason Pierce will come to steal Sonic Boom's thunder in years to come.

LIVE AT THE COUNTY HALL - THE SMITHS May 1984

I surely wasn't the only person thronging London's South Bank that glorious day - 21 years ago this month - who brought his tape deck with him, but mine's still the only recording I've heard. A major musical show of support for Ken Livingston's embattled GLC (which Thatcher duly shut down anyway), the day included sets by, predictably perhaps, Billy Bragg and The Redskins. (It was not all peace and left-wing love: Jamming! contributor Richard Edwards got his nose broken taking on some fascist skins during the latter group's set. If anyone knows Richard's whereabouts, I'd love to find him.) As for The Smiths, they were at the top of their game at this time, and it's hard to believe that anything could have upstaged their hour-long performance. However, that's exactly what happens about fifteen minutes in to this tape, when the crowd – which numbered in the tens of thousands – switched attention from the stage to the brazen (drunken?) fool scaling the County Hall walls to get a greater view. As he swings precariously from gargoyle to window ledge, the entire audience buzzes and finally erupts in applause when he settles down on top of some inanimate object a couple of hundred feet above the ground. Suitably inspired, others follow suit and though The Smiths pass no comment at these various Spiderman impersonations, they too sound energized. The show never looks back. The songs? You name them, they played them. Tape quality? Not bad, not bad at all.... Apart from the so-called friend who walks up during one song and announces, loudly, "How's the tape going Fletch?"

HOODOO GURUS – BLOW YOUR COOL (Elektra), 1987

The straight-ahead Aussies never sounded more American, and I meant that in a good way: Blow Your Cool blows most of the era's American Invasion groups (Long Ryders, Green On Red, Three O'Clock etc.) "out the door," as the opening track puts it. The three songs that follow - 'What's My Scene,' 'Good Times' and 'I Was The One' – may not win marks for originality but they're as hard rocking as power pop ever gets without losing its appeal.

BIG FUN – INNER CITY (Virgin), 1989

It's funny to think that songs like the title track and 'Good Life' were considered techno anthems at time of their release - because 15 years down the line, they sound more like lite house. And, though the impact of Kevin Saunderson's Detroit-based group was monumental "back in the day," you may not be surprised to hear that it hasn't aged so well. On E, however, back in the clubs, it's probably a different story.

CLOUD CUCKOOLAND – THE LIGHTNING SEEDS (MCA), 1990

In the same box as this, there's a separate, pre-release cassette out of the UK with similar tracks in an entirely different running order that's simply entitled The Lightning Seeds. So let's presume that Cloud Cuckooland is the American revision, forget about what it must be like to see your running order re-arranged, and enjoy Ian Broudie for what he's also been best at: timeless, buoyant, classic, elegiac pop. Songs like 'Pure' and 'All I Want' may not be desperately deep, but for someone like myself, who's spent half his life in search of the perfect three-minute single, they're eternal nirvana.

LES 5 PLUS GROSSES BÈTISSES DES GARÇONS BOUCHERS (ISLAND), 1991?

Posie and I saw this band at CBGB many moons ago – and though she doesn't remember anything about it, I recall it being big fun. Precursors by many years to the whole American white boy rap rock band, Garcons Bouchers sound like Gypsy Kings jamming with The Pogues and Fishbone. Listening back to this undated tape, I ignored the painfully titled 'Le Rap,' and instead almost sang along to the far better named 'Du Beaujolais Pour Oublier La Nuit Ou Est Partie Marie.' Expect this song to crop up as an obvious music-for-wine recommendation the moment about now.


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