V-CD3:KG — Liner notes

Since I’ve given this CD to a few people who weren’t V-ites, I’m going to repeat the rules for the exercise here:
• Something sung by a female
• Something Black (James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Public Enemy don’t count)
• Something Scottish
• Something Distressingly Unhappy
• Something Joyously Happy
• Something Short
And no Hives or Radiohead either.

The rules weren’t really a problem, as all of them will be obeyed in any mix-tape I produce. Even the Scottish one, in most cases.

All the sleeve notes, bar “Short Attention Span”, were written drunkenly, post-party, at around 3am, so will probably be more than a little rough in a couple of places. Forgive me, as I’m too busy to go and correct it.

Short Attention Span — Fizzy Bangers
Know nothing about these chaps, except Stuart Campbell turned up this seven minutes micro-buzzpop demi-classic for one of his Short Songs anthologies, and I’m stealing it to get the “Short Song” category out of the way.

AK-47 — Weird War
From their second album “If you can’t beat’em — bite ’em”, and probably the poppiest moment. A little late-sixties/early-seventies psychedelic funk punky thing about how, despite the growth in the technology of global imperialism, Ian still believes in the power inherent in the AK-47 for guerrilla resistance. Walks that political/humour line as tightly as almost anything else in his career.

Let Me Be Your Fantasy (Remix) — Ludacris (Feat. Trina, Shawn & Foxy Brown)
Remix of Ludacris’ single from 2000 that’s existed in my heart as my premier example of femme-slut lyrical flow. Hilarious, intimidating and sexy in the most basic, pornographic manner. Clever in that Ludacris normally exists in a hyper-machismo world where he is King-Stud. except here, with him reduced to a come-hither chorus he’s taking the role of a sex-toy sandwiched between these posturing hyperbolic claims of sexual prowess from the ladies. Each excels, but Foxy Brown’s final blitzkrieg takes it with three falls and total submission. She gets ruder, but “Still don’t give a fuck/Still pose naked/Still specialise in slitting nigga’s faces” hits like dynamite before falling into the l-l-l-lick me from my ass to my clit and I can’t help but gape.

Can I Take You To The Cinema — Kenickie
It’s a mix-tape by me, so I can hardly resist something from Sunderland’s Finest. My personal favourite of their B-sides — putting aside Acetone, because it’ll break my heart to choose between them — but this is just over a minute of giddy harmonies and pretty much everything I loved about the up-side of early Kenickie. Marie on deliberately banal open vocals, while the Lauren and Emmy harmonies express the screaming voices underlining everything she’s done. Utterly throw-away, hence — in the way pop works — utterly unforgettable.

Someone In My Bed — Sugababes
Sugababes V2.0 B-side which actually returns to the ramshackle lo-fi pop-sex-boredom thing that made Sugababes V1.0 so absolutely essential. I picked up from a Freakytrigger blog a while back, and It’s found its way onto my playlists ever-since. Slight playful coquettish — but not really convincingly so – edge to it which always delights me. And makes me wanna grind, y’know.

Rippin’ Kittin — Goldenboy Feat. Miss Kittin
Another relatively old one, included as I needed something to bridge Sugababe’s pure pop and the pop-experimentalism of the next pair. The elegant side of the electroclash thing personified in what I still think’s Miss Kittin’s Germanic bored dominatrix (Another Sugababes link) five minutes. To the previous track, I find myself dancing with my hands above my head to work the hips. With this, the hands stay at the waist and the shoulders jut coolly. Classic autobahn ticking.

Dead Dogs Two – cLOUDEAD
Single from latest album “Ten”. Hip-hop fired through a Dadaist filter. As many great art-pop records, based around Ballard’s “Crash” — but rather than attempting to use it in cheap horror tactics like most, while the lyrics are pure surreal realism, the expression is one of utter delirious joys. While they may be singing things like “We long to see our bones stripped to the tendons/The nudity of swelling/exposed veins” and “To be rip-tendoned up/blood breathing by the side of the highway” they never sound less than happy about the prospect. which makes it, depending on the listener’s mood, all the more chilling or brutally exciting. I find myself smiling in a vertigos manner when listening to it. Genuine contender for single of the year.

Under The Sun – Junior Boys
And more expansive pop-experimentalism. Junior Boys have only just clicked with me, so haven’t much to say yet — except that all the hype appears to be right. Think The Associates if they’d been exposed to turn-of-the-millennium ultra-tech R&B and Two-step and you’re in the right area. I chose this as it’s got a slow sense of glassy propulsiveness that holds its momentum for all seven minutes.

Uptown Top Ranking — Scout Niblett
Nottingham’s most awkward Singer-songwriter’s latest single is this cover of the early eighties pop-hit. Had the painful pleasure of seeing her perform this live around Christmas, and while this doesn’t quite get across the absolute preciousness of that moment, it’s still a hugely emotive thing. Scout’s trick’s a simple one — a brilliant voice framed in the most awkward music imaginable. You can literally hear her forming each chord on the guitar as she’s playing this, the song moving to a peristaltic rhythm around the needed deliberateness. Her playing’s about to fall apart at any second, and the fact it doesn’t means that it’s all the more precious. The voice shows that she’s equally likely to do so. And the entire song’s rude-girl bravado is recreated as indie-chick accusatory defence-hymn.

Stay Tonight — War Against Sleep
My favourite track from the War Against Sleep’s first album which I reviewed a couple of months back. Lo-fi Bristol-city-centre Scott Walkerism, basically, all deliberate sleaze and Marlboro-atmosphere. Obvious, yes, but I’ve never claimed to be subtle.

Vincent O’Brien — M. Ward
From the album I found down the back of my stereo at the beginning of this year, having received a review copy around September and have promptly lost it. Incredibly heartfelt Americana, basically, and I could have chosen one of half-a-dozen tracks to include. I went with this, as it has a perfect rootsy lyric, blessed-out by way-of-bittersweet inflection and that timeless atmosphere that only genuine force of emotion can create. while simultaneously being fun, especially important to leaven the tone in the mix.

If She Wants Me — Belle and Sebastian
For the “Something Scottish” requirement I was going to include the alternate side to the latest Belles’ LP (“Your Cover’s Blown”), because it’s the best kitchen-sink disco epic since Pulp stopped worrying about how to get their leg over. But I found myself listening to this for the first time in months, and when my eyes fought their way effortlessly to my eyes on the chorus I realised I’d be some kind of monster not to include it. From the last LP, illustrates everything that B&S have been doing for the last eight or so years — small, perfect observations of doomed lower-middle-class life, perfect storytelling and the best melodies of their generation. Only they could pull off a lyric like “It was hard/Like coming off the pill you take to stay happy” and not sound patronisng, but the half-breathed falsetto does it. And that chorus. Oh, to do one near-perfect thing or. well. do I have to choose?

Without You — Bobby Conn
Cover time again, picked up from “Copy, Right” blog. Bobby Conn takes on the big AOR classic with his tongue in his cheek and his hands in his guts. Utter melodrama.

Just Like Christmas – Low
Was going to finish the album with the Conn cover but when rooting around to find something else, I bumped into the lone example of a happy — almost impossibly so — Low song again, and had to expand to make room. Simple, simple Christmas song. They’re on the road and it starts to snow and someone says “It’s just like Christmas”. except, they note, it wasn’t really. And then they get to where they’re going, and they’re fucking around, and everyone’s so gloriously happy and together and with friends and loved ones. and that’s just like Christmas. And the simple warmth and intimacy of the song, coupled with its exquisite storytelling, makes that possibly saccharine sentiment swallowed as easily as the air in your lungs. Also: Sleigh Bells.

Glory Days — Pulp
And since I expanded the album, I needed something else to end it on. I prefer it this way, I think. While the arc from sex and joy to utter bathos is one thing, to have an emotional dead-cat-bounce into something bittersweet yet cautiously optimistic to lead to a possibility of a future made sense. Anyway — Glory Days is the great lost single from Pulp’s Commercial Suicide LP “This Is Hardcore”. Never released as a solo track because — I’m guessing — it works on an axis too close to Common People. Except that’s where it’s clever. It’s actually a critique of Common People. It’s a song that spends most of its time asking “So This Was The Time Of Our Lives? And Is That It?”. so had to sound like their greatest triumph, except that song’s furious stampede leashed to a melancholic canter. And while the song is castigating Pulp — and, by implication, my entire generation — for their absolute failure to do anything more worthwhile than sell a few records to keep a few people in cocaine, the timbre of the music, the fact these questions are even being posed and the final conclusion of the lyrics leaves you thinking that while we did fuck up, it’s still not too late to make amends. Full of great Jarvisisms too: “We were brought up on the Space Race/And they expect us to clean toilets?” comes to my mind at the most awkward moments in my life.

And Glory Days appears to have ripped badly at the end, meaning that it all falls apart which. well, you can read as some kind of critique on something or another (The End Of History? — Ed). Yeah, that sounds good. Go with that.