Saturday, 25 March 2017

No. 35 Billy Mahonie - Whistling Sam

Billy Mahonie were a London based all-instrumental band; the brain child of Gavin John Baker. At the time of this single, their line up consisted of two bassists, a guitarist and a drummer. Their music was always labelled post-rock, I guess partly because of the lack of a singer and because they were contemporaries of bands like Tortoise and Mogwai. I'm not sure that either comparison is that helpful; whilst they could certainly play it loud, they were never quite as bombastic as Mogwai can get and unlike Tortoise, there's no black-polo-neck-and-goatee-beard-jazz thing going on. What you do get is rather lovely interplay between then guitar and basses, fairly sparse drumming and a sound that shifts effortlessly from quiet and intricate to loud (and still intricate). 

This was their first single proper; they'd previously release a split-single with fellow bass guitar over-users Rothko on Fierce Panda; this came out on Fierce Panda offshoot Livid Meerkat, in 1998. You can hear both tracks from the single, On The Brinck and Whistling Sam, at Gavin John Baker's excellent and exhaustive Bandcamp page, on the very fine Found compilations.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

No. 34 Big Black - He's A Whore

Big Black's final single included two cover versions. The first was Cheap Trick's He's A Whore, from their 1977 debut album, whilst the b-side includes their cover of Kraftwerk's The Model, which had already been included on their final album, Songs About Fucking.

So, compare and contrast time. First up, Big Black's take on He's A Whore versus Cheap Trick's original version; the video is worth a go, if only to engage with Robin Zander's hair and his outfit, which leaves little to the imagination. 

Then we have Big Black performing a fine live rendition of the Kraftwerk classic, alongside the Kraftwerk original (I still remember watching this promo clip on Top of the Pops as a teenager and thinking how alien and sci-fi it sounded).