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One Album Wonders Northside's Chicken Rhythms

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 23, 2015 03:55pm | Post a Comment
NORTHSIDE - CHICKEN RHYTHMS (1991)


My introduction to the quartet named Northside came in my second year of college, I believe, a few years after the release of their only album, Chicken Rhythms. As a teenage fan of all things Madchester, I'd heard of them, of course, but it wasn't until Liz lent me a cassette that I was able to give it a listen. Although I was at first dismissive of what seemed to me to be by-the-numbers Baggy, over time the album unexpectedly grew on me.

Northside were formed in 1989 by Warren "Dermo" Dermody (vocals and United supporter) and Cliff Ogier (bass and City supporter). They were soon after joined by Michael "Upto" Upton (guitar) and Paul Walsh (drums). Upton was soon after replaced by Timmy WalshAll were residents of either Blackley or Moston, in Manchester's Northside. In August they recorded a demo at The Cutting Rooms, part of Abraham Moss College




Northside received some airplay byTony the Greek’s program on Piccadilly Radio and Craig Cash on KFM, Stockport. They capitalized on their growing local fame with their September live debut at Manchester’s Boardwalk which sold out. Not long after, Tony Wilson visited them at their rehearsal space and offered them a contract with Factory and they accepted. They closed out the year opening for Happy Mondays at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in November and a performance (supported by Paris Angels) at the Haçienda's Christmas party. In early 1990, Northside were profiled on the Granada documentary, Madchester – The Sound of the North


In April Northside headed to the capital to record their debut single with producer Ian Broudie, "Shall We Take A Trip" b/w "Moody Places," released on Factory. It was very much of the time, with wah-wah guitar, funky drumming, and vocals sung in the style of The Stone Roses' Ian Brown or The Charlatans' Tim Burgess. A not at all veiled paean to LSD, it was predictably banned by the BBC and climbed to No. 50 on the singles chart.



Second single, "My Rising Star,” was both less derivative and less distinct but no less winning. It reached No. 32 in the charts and spent seven weeks on the charts. 

Northside Chicken Rhythms

Chicken Rhythms was released in 1991 (some re-issues also included "My Shining Star"). The album's cutesy artwork, designed by Manchester's Central Station Design, suggested strangely that Northside were some kind of twee boy band. Their third single, "Take 5," climbed to No. 40 in the UK (and No. 1 in Canada). It was 
released on 1 June, the same day they played Leeds’s Elland Road Stadium with Happy Mondays, The Farm, and The La’s.



Northside began working on demos for a follow-up but Factory went out of business in 1992 and the follow-up was never completed. Northside went their separate ways in 1996. In 2003, Dermo and Ogier formed Silent Partners, with Malc Law (drums) and Danny Yates (guitar). Ogier left and was replaced by Dom Morrison.

In 2006, following the reformation of Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays, Dermody, Morrison, Yates and new drummer Spencer Birtwistle (The Fall)
 played as Northside on a handful of dates. In 2014, the original line-up of the band re-formed but so far no new material has emerged.



*****


Follow me at EricBrightwell.com 

One album wonders: World of Twist's Quality Street

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 24, 2014 08:00am | Post a Comment
WORLD OF TWIST - QUALITY STREET (1991)

World of Twist
are one of the greatest one album wonders, on par with The La’s and The Sex Pistols — if unfortunately much more obscure than either. Although they’ve been broken up for more than twenty years, their cult still remains small although it seems inevitable that they will some day be granted the adoration which they so deserve. It seems only a matter of time before an excellent documentary on them screens at Don’t Knock the Rock or appears on video. 




As with many one album wonders, though not prolific as recording artists, the World of Twist’s members were involved in music for many years. From 1977-1979, Dave Conner (vocals), Gordon King (bass), James Fry (guitar), Julia Adamson (guitar), and Tony Ogden (drums) played in a punk band called The Blackout when all were art students in Art & Design at Stockport College in Greater Manchester.

Around 1982, King and Fry followed the latter’s older brother, Martin (of ABC) to Sheffield, then one of the most musically interesting cities in the UK (see Made in Sheffield). Over the next few years the line-up grew to included Ogden, Andy Robins (synthesizer), and Rory Connolly (saxophone). After Robins quit they were joined by Andrew Hobson (bass) and Nick Philips (organ) and by 1984/’85 they had a repertoire of about a dozen songs which they recorded as demos. Three songs from 1985 were released in 1992 after World of Twist had split up.

World of Twist - "The Sausage" (1985)

As the Sheffield scene grew increasingly predictable and homogeneous, solidified around bleak, industrial post-punk sound, World of Twist were increasingly and defiantly at odds. They opened started a club, The Wigwam, at which aimed to meld Northern Soul vibes with the aesthetic of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Aside from Julian Cope and Dexys Midnight Runners, they weren't just out-of-step with Sheffield, but music of the era. 

In 1988 the band gave up on Sheffield and Hobson, King, and Ogden moved to Manchester where they shared a house with Martin Wright of Laugh. Fry moved to London to pursue photography and Ogden took over vocals. New members of World of Twist included Alan “Adge” Frost on synthesizers and visual effects, Julia “MC Shells” McGreechin on “swirls and sea noises,” and Angela Reilly on visual effects. Before long, Nick Sanderson (formely of Sheffield’s Clock DVA and later, Los Angeles’s The Gun Club) came along to fill Ogden’s vacant drum kit.



World of Twist gained attention in part for their live show, inspired by that of The Residents and progressive rock bands and which included an elaborate set pieces and effects. Their live show was described by various writers as “a dry ice fantasia” and “ a mesmerizing mix of Bacofoil, ancient technology, and Brylcreem” but because they were danceable, based in Manchester, and this was the late 1980s, that World of Twist were to be lazily lumped in with the Madchester/Baggy scene was inevitable. In reality, only fellow pastichists Happy Mondays approached the breadth of World of Twist’s bricolage, drawn as it apparently was from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, bubblegum, Detroit proto-punk, glitter rock, Joe Meek, Krautrock, mod, and space rock


A series of demos were recorded at the beginning of 1990 but the only label which showed interest was Virgin subsidiary Circa — then known for sort of adult alternative and sophisti-pop bands like Hue & Cry, Neneh Cherry, Julia Fordham, and Millions Like Us but as with all majors, Virgin were eager to sign a band from Manchester, which they did with World of Twist. In August, World of Twist sold out Manchester’s International 1. On 22 September, the newly-signed band recorded a Mark Goodier Session at Studio 5 in London.


World of Twists’s debut single, “The Storm,” was released 15 November, 1990. It was famed producer Martin Hannett’s last production work — he died in April 1991 of heart failure brought on by obesity and drug abuse. The band made their national television debut on Channel 4’s The Word. Guest Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood described them as great and likened them to "The Velvet Underground on acid." On the other hand, when it was reviewed on BBC's Juke Box Jury, a bit normal guest Bernard Sumner derided them as "a bit 'we are weird'." 




Although hotly tipped and huge at home, “The Storm” failed to connect outside the north and only reached #42 in the charts. On 23 December they sold out the Manchester Ritz, supported by Laugh, who’d recently changed their name to Intastella.

By the spring of 1991 World of Twist’s fame had grown sufficiently to the point that they sold out the London Astoria on 27 March, 1991 — supported by Saint Etienne (whose then-new singer, Sarah Cracknell made her live debut with them that night) and Sensurround. On 29 December, World of Twist returned to Sheffield for a homecoming band, supported by another band who’d left Sheffield in 1988, Pulp. Five recorded songs from the show were shown on Granada. On 25 June, they recorded a Peel Session



Music writer Simon Reynolds summed up World of Twist’s sound as “kitsch-adelia” but their next single, albeit again seemingly delivered with tongue-in-cheek, was the stomping "Sons of the Stage,” released the same month they again played The Leadmill again with Pulp, the then growing increasingly kitschadelic themselves. 


On 30 September, 1991, the World of Twist released the “Sweets,” dripping with saccharine  and ironically promoted with packs of cigarettes. The two singles did less well than "The Storm," climbing only to #47 and #58, respectively. Still the band were earning themselves fans, sometimes in high places.

Saint Etienne’s debut, Foxbase Alpha, was released the same month as "Sweets" and the lyrics of “London Belongs to Me” included the lines:
To the sound of the World Of Twist
You leant over and gave me a kiss
It's too warm to even hold hands
But that won't stop us from making plans

Likewise, Noel and Liam Gallagher were so enamored of World of Twist that they considered naming their dadchester band Sons of the Stage before settling on Oasis. They also used World of Twist's James Fry as their photographer and Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye went so far as to record an unremarkable World of Twist cover. 


Tony Ogden (image source: Die Rache)

What was to be World of Twist’s only album, Quality Street, was released on 28 October, 1991. It included a cover of The Honeycombs“This Too Shall Pass Away” and nine, single-quality originals. However, the mixing and production of the original release were problematic. In a 2005 interview with The Guardian, Ogden claimed, “We spent £250,000 making an album with the smallest bollocks in pop history.” (A 2013 re-issue does wonders in correcting the mix and adds a disc of extras.) Quality Street only reached #50 in the charts (which were then populated with artists like Amy Grant, Bryan Adams, Roxette, and Seal) and their label dropped them. They had a meeting with Alan McGee and seemed like an excellent fit at Creation, but they didn’t sign. Ogden had let it be known that he no longer wished to sing or appear on stage.

NME announced World of Twist’s split in the 27 June, 1992 issue. Ogden became something of a recluse, moving back to his parents’ home in Stockport. He continued to write music as a solo artist (listen here) and later, as Bubblegum Secret Pop Explosion, who released the digital EP Escape in the Love Machines in 2005. Ogden also collaborated with Mum & Dad on 2000’s “Dawn Rider.” Fy, King, and Sanderson continued to perform together in a new band, Earl Brutus. The Pre New are comprises of Fry, King, Laurence Bray, Stuart Boreman, Stuart Wheldon, and Vincent Gibson.

Although World of Twist failed to top the charts or even record a second album, their influence could be heard several bands and scenes that followed. In 1992, the British music press tried to make a thing out of the so-called Glam Revival (The Auteurs, Denim, and Suede). In 1993 they pushed the junk-shop retro-futurist Crimplene Scene (Pulp and Saint Etienne). The more interesting bands of Britpop combined influences drawn from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ’80s. In 1995, Romo briefly attempted to correct for New Lad with some New Romantic revivalism. In 1997, U2's the sound and video of "Discothèque" suggested that the Irish veterans had discovered World of Twist.

Ogden died suddenly, at the age of 44, in 2006. Sanderson died after a long struggle with lung and lymphoid cancer on 8 June, 2008. According to his obituary, his idea of heaven was driving a train whilst listening to Steve Hackett’s Spectral Morning. In 2009, artist Jeremy Deller created a piece, Procession, which included a “We Miss the World of Twist” float. In 2012, Saint Etienne again sang about World of Twist in their song, “Over the Border,” which recounts a break-in to Peter Gabriel’s house by late Nick Sanderson. It's only a matter of time now before the rest of the world catches on. 


Special thanks to World of Twist (library) for keeping their legacy alive.


*****


One Album Wonders: Candyflip's Madstock... The Continuing Adventures of Bubblecar Fish

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 22, 2014 01:39pm | Post a Comment
Here is an additional edition of my series of great, mostly obscure, one album wonders. In the album era (roughly the mid-1960s until the mid-2000s), the album was the dominant format of recorded music expression and consumption. It seems that most musicians from that era, if able to scrape together the funds for the recording of one studio album, generally returned with at least one more.  Some, like Sun Ra, somehow released more albums than I've had hot dinners. Even most excellent bands, in my opinion, would have done well to find something other to do with their time rather than keep making records after their fifth album or twelfth year (although there is the Go-Betweens Exception). The following acts mostly date fromthe Golden Age of the LP -- and yet were unable or unwilling, in all cases, to record more than one. 
*****

Hippies and Hooligans -- Great Madchester covers of 60s tunes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 3, 2014 04:57pm | Post a Comment
 
Although our music and our drugs stayed the same, Although our music and our interests are the same

1988 -- the Second Summer of Love. 1989 -- the end of South African apartheid and the cold war. Love was all around and if it wasn't enough to make one euphoric there was ecstasy and Madchester to the rescue. What were baggies but hip-hop-and-house-hip hippies-cum-hooligans-cum-hippies again? In case we needed further proof, the baggies made the connection more obvious with their updated covers of psychedelic and Situationist era tunes which at their worst sounded like karaoke versions spruced up with the funky drummer beat but at occasionally exceeded the popularity of the originals.




1988 - The Inspiral Carpets had formed in Oldham in 1983 and from the beginning were obviously smitten with 1960s garage punk and made no bones about it, releasing a cover of ? & the Mysterians' massive 1966 hit, "96 Tears," in 1988.

In 1989, Scottish band The Soup Dragons released a cover of a 1965 Rolling Stones song, "I'm Free." It was whilst watching the video to this song that one of my uncles (who'd experienced the first Summer of Love firsthand) who remarked "This is just the '60s."


In 1990, Scouse veterans The Farm covered Boyce & Hart's "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (as "Stepping Stone") from 1966. 



That same year Candyflip (a duo from the members of which were from Stoke-on-Trent and Merseyside) covered The Beatles' 1967 hit, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and Manchester's Happy Mondays covered John Kongos's "He's Gonna Step On You Again" (as "Step On").



By 1991, the Madchester buzz was fading and the much-missed World of Twist -- who sort of bridged Madchester and the proto-Britpop Glam Revival and the Crimplene Scene --  covered The Rolling Stones' 1967 tune, "She's a Rainbow."

*****

Stone Roses Profiled in New Doc

Posted by Billy Gil, October 23, 2013 06:24pm | Post a Comment

The Stone Roses were one of the best and most beloved Britpop bands of the early ’90s, helping the dance-influenced Madchester sound of the late ’80s and early ’90s take the British charts by storm with their classic self-titled debut album. In the U.S. their immediate impact was smaller, yet their influence stretched from predecessors like Oasis to more recent bands including Jagwar Ma and Diiv. Their sound, a blend of jangly guitars not unlike those employed by Johnny Marr in The Smiths with dancier beats and psychedelic effects, helped make them NME cover stars at the time, as did the presence of cocky, charismatic frontman Ian Brown, who once declared the band would become “the biggest band ever.” The band's second album failed to take off, and the band broke up in 1996. They reunited in 2012, after 16 years, to headline the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and have even garnered the Twitter ire of one Azealia Banks, as sure a sign as any that the band’s relevance continues today.

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