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No Movement – New Order releasing more material, still fighting

What becomes a legend least? In the case of New Order it would seem to be a messy, never-quite-definite split and an inability to just let things go. Whereas contemporaries such as The Smiths and The Cure have seen their reputations burnished to eternal indie sainthood in recent years, New Order have spent the last decade seemingly determined to make the world grow ever more disinterested in them.

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When bassists attack – Mani apologises to Hooky for Twitter outburst

Mani has apologised over his Twitter outburst last week in which he accused Peter Hook of “living off Ian Curtis’ blood money”.

The two Manchester bassists had recently played together in Freebass, though that band has now disbanded. Both Mani and Hook have spoken following the former’s Twitter outburst, which has now been taken down from the social networking site. Which is disappointing. A  celebrity boxing match would have been a far more entertaining way to end the argument in our opinion.

Mani said: “I wish to apologise unreservedly to Peter Hook and his family regarding comments made on a social networking site which was totally out of character for me. It was a venomous, spiteful reaction to a lot of things that are going on in my life right now and I chose to vent my frustrations and anger at one of my true friends in this filthy business, and ventured into territory which was none of my concern. Continue reading

I know a lot about art, I just don’t know what I like – 10 Classic Album covers

The Government estimates we produce over 10 million tones of packaging waste each year. The Daily Mail have declared war on the simple plastic bag, declaring it a hazard up there with nuclear war, Labour and immigrants. Even asking for one in Marks and Spencer is now akin to saying ‘I would like you to show me your most effective cakes for luring children back to my shabby abode for inappropriate fun’. The world hates packaging.

But truly great albums are not complete without a stand-out package. You simply couldn’t imagine, say, Full Moon Fever or Parklife coming in different covers or having a different track order. The sleeve notes, the insert photographs….they all have a part to play. In these days of instant individual download and songs never accruing any physical status, it’s sometimes hard to give albums that almost mythical status that some of these classics achieved.

Here are some of the albums you simply can’t imagine coming in a different cover.

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Fanfarlo/First Aid Kit – Glasgow King Tuts

FanfarloIt’s difficult to know, sometimes, where homage ends and pinching begins. Some are honest about it, viewing it as source material to try to create something new. Others do it and get precious when people point it out to them (Editors ludicrously deny any debt to Joy Division.)

Fanfarlo dress like the Arcade Fire, play like the Arcade Fire and sound like the Arcade Fire. Indeed, such is their sheer obviousness, it’s pretty easy to get past it and focus on a simple truth; Fanfarlo are very, very good. Continue reading

Fram – Glasgow Liquid Ship

Fram are a Glasgow band who came to our attention earlier this year with their debut album ‘This Is How We Live Now’ (see reviews). An unashamedly post-rock band, we enjoyed their delicate, fragrant shards of anti-pop. But there was, as we headed off towards the gig, a certain disquiet as to how they would translate it live. Would the brittle beauty of the record be smashed in the live arena?

Thankfully, they inject their live display with more sturdiness and (wonderfully) don’t have to trade any beauty for the extra beef. Sure, they will never be be balls-out, foot on the monitor rockers, but the British music scene is filled with bands who do that. Clearly more Sigur Ros than Springsteen, they allow the music to breathe and the organic nature of much of their work comes to the fore. It’s a well-paced set too, and it is clearly the work of a band who are aware just how much potential they have and happy to let the music speak for itself. It’s an ethereal, melodic and inspiring sound and it’s as tight as two coats of paint. The closer ‘Endurance’ is simply awesome, bringing to mind the power of Joy Division at their most masterful.

It’s so refreshing to see a band with sonic ambitions and one who clearly don’t pander to the lowest common denominator. The thing I like most about them is that they don’t patronise their audience; there is a great vibe of ‘we like this; we think you will like it too’ and to be fair, the crowd certainly do. Maybe they aren’t getting the attention that, say, Glasvegas are getting because they focus on substance over style. Fram may never sell a million records, but every copy they sell will be loved. And isn’t that the point?

Manchester, So Much to Answer For

Due to a football match being held there tonight, Manchester has been very much in the headlines in Glasgow for the last few days. ELM is a footy-free zone, but it did get me thinking about some great Manchester bands. there can’t be many provincial cities in the world with the rich heritage of the place. So many wonderful bands, great performers and the Paris Angels. Well, you can’t have everything. Here are a few ELM favourites;

The Stone Roses – Fabulous, chiming baggy rock Gods. The Roses were, for a couple of years, the total package – insouciant, witty, confident. Most of all, what stands up even now is the music. The debut is still an astonishing piece of work, barely dated by almost twenty years. The stunningly generous singles and b-sides collection ‘Turns Into Stone’ was incredible too. Obviously, they burned themselves out in the Supernova days, and true potential soon became pure rock cliché as money and drugs tore them asunder. John Peel once famously said they reminded him of the Hollies, forgetting two things; namely that the Hollies were brilliant anyway, and half the shite he played in his career, well….let’s not cast the first stone here, Peely!

Download; I Am The Resurrection

Joy Division – As dark as a very dark night in the darkest bit of the darkest land. During a powerstrike. With a blindfold on. But they looked so ordinary. Just four working class lads in cheap trousers and cheaper shirts. It’s music which is timeless because it never fitted into any time. Ignoring the punk mantra of ‘fuck this, let’s start from scratch’ (because, let’s face it, scratch is a pretty impovrished place to leave from) they instead brilliantly re-designed what rock music could be. Two terrirfic and fearful albums, and so many great moments. Ian Curtis set the benchmark for suffering in rock, and anyone mining the soul for despair would always be judged fake against him, but that doesn’t change the fact it was a tragic waste of talent.

Download; Dead Souls

New Order – We’re not doing the usual trick of lumping one in with the other. Three members were the same, yes, but this is a totally different band. After a false start trying to be Joy Division mk II (‘Movement’) they settled into a hybrid of rock and dance which was revolutionary at the time. Their influence was huge, and some of their 80’s work can rightfully be labelled the most influential of the 80’s. They weren’t perfect – the lyrics are often moon/balloon/June – but their dynamism and songwriting nous covered that.

Download; Run

The Smiths – If New Order were the most influential band of the 80’s, The Smiths were the best. They were great, they were romantic, they were life-affirming. They were funny, too, in a way which fans got and detractors didn’t and just made it seem even more like we were in on something the world was missing. Marr’s guitar work still sounds unparalelled, like God had given him these astounding runs of chords and sequences. Add to that Morrissey – and forget what he has turned into, just remember how he was – and you had a band that you simply couldn’t replicate. One of those moments were everything aligned right in planet rock – as Marr once said ‘nobody could write music for Morrissey’s lyrics like me, and nobody could write lyrics for my music like Morrissey.’

Download; Panic

Oasis – Deserve to be in there. Hard for some people to understand now, but Oasis did shake British music when they first arrived. From years of Grunge, Greebo, self-harming and plaid, suddenly a band came along and said, actually, fuck that, let’s get drunk and have a party. And it felt so liberating. It was cool to wear nice clothes again! The first three years of Oasis career were incredible, Zep-esque monsters of big albums, bigger gigs, bigger albums, more tabloid controversy, drink, drugs and Patsy Kensit. When it was gone, it was gone, and Oasis are now a (still huge) loveable old national treasure. But what they did in the first few years, for people of my generation, was show them that you didn’t need access to the Met bar to have a good time, and kids all over the UK loved them for it. Niiiiice one.

Download; Supersonic

There are countless others – the Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Comsat Angels, The Happy Mondays, Interstella, John Cooper Clarke and more recently the Ting Tings and Elbow who we could have mentioned…but we could be here all day. Some place, some heritage. Now is it better than Liverpool’s? Well, I’m not getting into that!

Flogging A Dead Horse

Joy Division are one of the greatest and most important bands of all time. While others were happy to take Punk’s Year Zero as an excuse to indulge in wholescale yobbishness, they were interested in the darker places and possibilities that had been opened up. Their two albums ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ are absolutely essential.

But I note with dismay that there is another compilation album out, primarily to cash in on the (deserved) success of Anton Corbijn’s biopic of them. Now, some of the early compilations were of interest, taking live shows, b-sides and curios. This cannot be said of the latest. It now stands at FOUR Joy Division ‘Best Of’s in the last ten years. And that is a ridiculous amount for a band with just two studio albums, no matter how great.

I have to blame our old friend, the record company. As with the recent spate of ‘Deluxe Editions’, this is not aimed at bringing the band’s music to a wider audience. New fans can (and will) simply download some tracks. This is aimed at the completeist, the chap who owns the albums already and doesn’t want a gap in his collection. It’s cynical, it’s exploitative and it’s lazy.

The Joy Division/New Order story is one of the most absorbing, thrilling, harrowing and uplifting in rock music. It does not need tarnished with cheap cash-ins and tired marketing. Avoid this album like the plague.