The Legend! live (with Shop Assistants, Galaxie 500, Nirvana, Calvin Johnson)
Thought I’d upload a couple of songs on to YouTube.
UPDATED 26/7 amended title of my sixth single back to ‘The Ballad’ (it was never called ‘She’s Always Hiding’). The opening chord sequence came about as an attempt to play The Velvet Underground song ‘Femme Fatale’.
The Ballad (featuring Alex from Shop Assistants)
This is the A-side of a Constrictor single that came out in 1988 (Germany only). Recorded by Jowe Head in London somewhere: Jamie would’ve played on it for sure, and Simon (another old housemate), and possibly Alison Wonderland on drums? Not sure. Alex co-wrote the other side, and also sang on that one. This song is kind of an obvious rip-off of The Servants (Luke Haines’ pre-Auteurs band) song ‘She’s Always Hiding’, not that I was aware of it at the time. I think I probably thought I was ripping off The Go-Betweens (who The Servants always sounded very like). It’s the most out-and-out cutie song I ever recorded and, as such, I’m a fraction surprised it’s never resurfaced since. Perhaps it’s too obscure even for the obscurists? A few years back, I was talking with kill rock stars about releasing a double-album of Legend! songs … but nothing came of it after Maggie went off with the tape I left on Tobi’s desk (or the other way around). The idea has been mooted several times since, but The Legend! really has very little cultural cachet when it comes down to it.
What Goes On (w/ Damon & Naomi)
This was recorded in Damon & Naomi’s apartment in Boston, probably on the occasion of my first visit there. (Dean Wareham lived in Manhattan.) Earlier that week, Chris from Buffalo Tom had taken me into a record store about to close that was selling off thousands of Folkways Records. I loved the idea of creating a documentary record of The Legend!’s life to date, similar to those on Folkways: so one afternoon, I sat down with Damon & Naomi and we recorded a whole series of songs that were special to me (either originals, or cover versions like this Beatles song that I used to hammer out on the piano at home for hours on end). We also tried more experimental pieces, like reading out a review of Galaxie 500 and masturbation over music. And, true to Folkways, in-between each musical segment was a spoken word segment where I introduced each number and tried to tell the story behind it. On this version, I sing multi-tracked vocals and Damon adds acoustic guitar. Needs a trumpet.
I Wanna Be Your Dog (w/ Nirvana and Jad Fair)
This song has quite a chequered history for me: I was performing it on stage at The Living Room in front of a pick-up band of Creation ‘All Stars’ as early as 1984, and also with a pick-up band of indie ‘all stars’ at the Camden Underworld in ’91 (or thereabouts) as part of a Camden Town anniversary ‘celebration’. (There’s a great sequence of photographs somewhere of me at the show, before and after someone’s emptied a pint over me.) I’ve also performed it with Mudhoney, for sure. This is surprising, because I have no particular fondness for either this song or Iggy, and – to the best of my knowledge – I’ve never known more than the one obvious line. This particular version is from the Roseland Ballroom, tail end of 1993 and, if it’s the performance I believe it to be, it was noteworthy for Jad’s son’s futile attempts to smash Kurt’s guitar, passed to him expressly for that purpose. Jad’s the one yelling down the megaphone. Nirvana are creating the glorious infernal din. I’m the one speaking, yes, that one line over and over again. I believe there were also several other musicians on stage.
Quite my favourite live ‘noise’ recording of anything I was involved in.
Summertime – The Legend! w/ Calvin and Heidi
This was my brief attempt to write a Shop Assistants song. A Ramones song. A two-chord three-minute two-line pop song. I kind of really like it, despite the fact I’m so trying to sing so like Calvin Johnson – probably influenced by the fact it’s kind of really hard to not sound like Calvin Johnson when Calvin Johnson is playing guitar – that I should just have got Calvin to sing it himself. Guess it might have lost some of its charm then. There’s a live version of this song also, recorded the same evening during an impromptu support slot for Eugene Chadbourne. It was snowing outside, real Olympia magic where we lay down in the snow with Nikki and Ian and created snow angels and threw snowballs all the way home. I’m fairly sure this was 1990: not sure how it tallies with recording the Go Team single with Calvin and Tobi in Tobi’s mum’s garage because obviously this wasn’t a single and equally obviously it couldn’t have been a Go Team single even if it had been made a single because Tobi’s not playing drums on it. I do really like this, though: another cutie gem.