Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of fast for many Christians and a reminder that Easter will be upon us in six weeks. It’s been decades since I took part in the rituals associated with the day, but for the last few years I’ve been using it to remember the musical trio from Downpatrick in the county of Down in Northern Ireland. Ash formed there 21 years ago and have released half a dozen albums since. They haven’t released any original albums since 2007, though, as the band has decided to focus exclusively on singles instead of the lengthier format. So, today I’m going to look at a couple of songs that appeared on singles by the band and also a couple of singles from a time when singles ruled. Punk Boy is a song by a Welsh band that formed in the same year as Ash and are named after their lead singer. Ash’s version of the Helen Love song appeared on the filp side of their 1995 single, Petrol. Who You Drivin’ Now? was originally released in 1991 on Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, the second album from Seattle grunge band, Mudhoney. Ash’s version is taken from a 1999 EP that also saw the band performing songs by Ween and Nirvana
The English singer and songwriter Reg Presley (above, far right) passed away last night at the age of 71. He was born Reginald Hall in the county of Hampshire in 1941 and became a bricklayer upon leaving school. In 1964, he formed a band called The Troglodytes, lopped a couple of syllables off his first name and took on the alias of a contemporary American rock & roller for his surname. The band’s title also became monosyllabic, just as the music they would make remains amongst the most primitive ever committed to vinyl. The Kinks’ manager, Larry Page, signed The Troggs in 1965 and the group released Lost Girl as their first (unsuccessful) single the following year
Apparently, today is International French Onion Soup Day. I’m a big an of French culture, onions and soup, but I’ve never drank evan a spoonful of french onion soup. It doesn’t look like it would be too difficult to make, so I guess it’s something to add to my list of things to do in 2013. A while back, I noticed I’ve got over three dozen songs named after this useful vegetable, but only one about onion soup. The late Vic Chesnutt‘s Onion Soup may or may not be French, but he does refer to it as “exquisite” in the song from his 1995 album, Is the Actor Happy? Pixies founder, Black Francis, has been pursuing a solo career as Frank Black for some time now. His Dog in the Sand album from 2001 includes a song called Richard Onion, which is about an American aerospace engineer named Robert Zubrin
One of my favourites singers turns 70 today. Scott Walker was born in the United States, but moved to England in 1965 and became a British citizen five years later. He’s lived there ever since and has continued to release a series of increasingly more experimental-sounding albums that bear little relation to his earlier, more commercial work. He was born Scott Engel in Ohio and changed his last name to Walker when he became one of the co-founders of The Walker Brothers. They were brothers in pseudonym only and their decision to base themselves in England led to a number of successes in the UK. Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore both reached the top of the charts in the UK and were the band’s only single to make it into the Top 20 in the US
Town Full of Losers would like to take this opportunity to wish all its readers a happy and prosperous 2013. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already got a few gigs lined up for later in the year and I’m also looking forward to the release of some new albums. Also, I hope to post here more frequently than I did in 2012. I’ll try to write at least one a week and, as you can see, I’ve gotten off to a good start already. I ended the old year and began the new one by listening to music and hopefully you did too. Perhaps some of you even had A Very Whiskey New Year, just like the two bands in the first song below, Three Day Threshold & Summer Villains. In any case, you were surely Changing With the Years, just like German chanteuse, Ute Lemper. Or maybe you’ve got great plans for the forthcoming twelve months, just like The Beautiful South in their version of the classic from The Zombies. However, the best advice I can give you is to Enjoy Yourself. As Prince Buster says “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink. The years go by, as quickly as a wink. Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”. Happy New Year!
A headline in yesterday’s Evening Herald newspaper about a tree surgeon cutting his leg with a chainsaw at Chris de Burgh‘s home got me thinking about the Irish singer and his daughter, Rosanna, which then brought the band Toto to my mind. There are many acts from the eighties that I chance upon now and then and I don’t mind admitting that these encounters make me want to check out their music again. Chris de Burgh is not one of those acts. I’m actually embarrassed to reveal that I once owned a number of the Irishman’s albums on cassette. In my defence, your honour, I was young and foolish and only beginning the long process of learning about music. De Burgh was on the radio a lot at the time and I picked up some of those tapes in a secondhand shop. It’s true, nobody forced me to buy them or subsequently listen to them. And I must have listened to them a few times because lines from songs I haven’t heard in decades have been popping into my head over the last few hours. I don’t have any of those tapes anymore. I don’t even remember when or where I got rid of them. Fortunately, I don’t have any of his stuff on CD, vinyl or mp3, either, and I’m relieved to announce that I had absolutely no desire to check him out on YouTube