Archive for the ‘Alan McGee’ Category

My Bloody Valentine

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Listen: Soon / My Bloody Valentine

Alan McGee had invited me down to an early My Bloody Valentine show at London’s ULU during February ’89, just after he’d signed the band to Creation. Seemed like every time I’d get back from the UK, there’d be a good reason to return straight away. New groups literally materialized overnight. It was a dream come true for an A&R rep with a frequent flyer miles addiction.

I timed this visit to take in the latest media invented genre, shoegazing, with My Bloody Valentine being crowned the apparent rulers. I do wish I could recall who else was on the bill that night. I want to say Silverfish and Spiritualized. Regardless, the whole thing was dead boring. Not a flipping song in sight the entire evening. Then and there, I never saw the point of this appropriately described genre. Dreadful stuff.

But fast forward a full year and a half. ‘Soon’ is the band’s new single, one of those records you hadn’t heard of when you left New York, but was everywhere upon arrival in pre-internet July ’90. Gary Crowley played me it that first afternoon. It was even on the car radio when we left his apartment. Just about every office at Island seemed to be blasting it the next day, each attempting to out hip the other. ‘Soon’ was most definitely my soundtrack to that visit.

The following winter, the band played the new Ritz in New York. By then, the club had moved uptown to 54th Street. Although most of the magic the original place had was now gone, there were still plenty of great shows. Both Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers peaked their club band periods on that stage, Primal Scream did SCREAMADELICA, the return of the original Damned and Buzzcocks happened there, The Charlatans made their US premier, Ministry playing behind a chain linked fence, daring audience members dove into the mosh pit below from the second floor balcony during The Ramones’ two nights in February ’90 and a jungle red latex clad Lux Interior drank wine from a stray hightop sneaker shot onto the stage during The Cramps LOOK MOM NO HEAD show.

So the opportunity was set for My Bloody Valentine to prove their worth, become royalty, leave a most historical stamp on the moment, the way ‘Soon’ had and has. With intense crowd angst, the band came on to a visual storm of dry ice, saturated red and purple pulsing strobes and seriously tore into ‘Soon’. For a minute or so, the shrill and volume felt painfully positive, but the intensity of high end squeals and attempted white noise was unbearable. Ears were covered, the crowd physically gasping, it was relentless, horrible, unlistenable. Confused and tortured, many, and I do mean many, hit the exits. We tried, we wanted it to be as powerful as ‘Soon’ but we were defeated too, avoiding the surge for refunds at the box office window on the way out. This wasn’t art, it was insult.

Great single though.

Super Furry Animals

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Listen: (Drawing) Rings Around The World / Super Furry Animals

Do not adjust your sets. ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’ sounds distorted and sonically noisy. Don’t fret, it was meant to. Despite that minor issue, the song is so good, and as their show opener, so memorable, it’s pretty hard not to love it.

Back during summer 2001, Rob Stringer at Sony UK asked if I’d stay in London an extra day for Super Furry Animals’ record release party. It was a small do, a bunch of regional sales reps from across Britain were brought into London, food and drink offered up. The limited access, and a Friday dinnertime event meant most of the crowd were boringly annoyed at the interruption known as the band’s set, as opposed to excited fans thrilled at the privilege. For me, it was indeed a perfect opportunity to stand front and center, like being treated to a private rehearsal. As with the record, this live show opener haphazardly found it’s footing by transforming an initial tune up like chaos into a powerful groove and swing, dare I call it an unleashing. Yes, that’s what it was. Superb stuff.

RINGS AROUND THE WORLD was the band’s first album on Sony imprint Epic UK. The previous five years, parent company Sony had distributed Super Furry Animals’ releases through a deal with Creation Records. When Creation founder Alan McGee had had enough of running the label, most of the bands moved onto the corporation’s various imprints.

Rob was logically looking for a US partner, and as much as I loved that album, Columbia was just a poisonous place populated by clueless leadership when it came to music with such culture and class. It would have ended in tears. So I passed, and I suppose Rob never forgave me.

Never mind, got what bordered on an audience with the Queen, and a limited 7″.