It’s a bank holiday weekend in Margate. The sun hasn’t shone properly for what feels like an age, but a huge crowd are still clinging on to a summer spirit and are clearly hoping The Specials will bring some extra good vibes to the seaside town on the first night of their ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012’ tour.
Blending power pop with gentle satire, Irish band Ha Ha Ha pay a backhanded tribute to The Queen on their current single ‘The Betty Windsor Show’ and couple their whimsical thoughts with a fun new video clip.
After XTC’s career came to a slow and somewhat unceremonious end, with Andy Partridge recording ‘Spiral’ and Colin Moulding recording ‘Say It’ for, in Moulding’s own words, “the XTC album that never was”, Colin retreated even further from the limelight. Fans wouldn’t hear any more from him for almost a decade. In 2015, he appeared as a guest performer on Billy Sherwood’s ‘Citizen’ album before he withdrew again, seemingly having no interest in fame or re-igniting his career on a full time basis.
The previously unthinkable happened three years later, when ex-XTC drummer Terry Chambers returned from Australia and recorded new material with Moulding, instigating new musical project TC&I. Their sole studio recording was a little scrappy, but somewhere within its DIY style, Colin’s gift for melodies remained obvious. The TC&I project really came into its own the following year when the duo took to the stage for three nights of shows in Swindon, resulting in an excellent live document placing the new material in context with some old XTC classics. A few weeks after those shows, Moulding announced his retirement, effectively putting fans back in the mindset of 2006: was that it? Would we never hear from him again?
Canadian pop heroes Dany Laj And The Looks have returned and the follow up to their insanely catchy single ‘Don’t Keep Me Guessing’ is a similarly infectious piece of retro pop.
After leaving Yes in 1979 following the tour for their ‘Tormato’ album, Jon Anderson barely rested. Between 1980 and 1982, he split most of his creative time between his own solo projects and collaborations with Greek keyboard virtuoso Vangelis, which brought the vocalist some UK chart success with the commercial new age/synth pop singles ‘I Hear You Now’ and the much-loved ‘I’ll Find My Way Home’. By the summer of 1981 and with the second Jon & Vangelis album ‘The Friends of Mt. Cairo’ having barely hit record shop shelves, Anderson was back in the studio working on the material that was soon to become his third LP ‘Animation’.
Upon release in June 1982, ‘Animation’ was a cult hit among fans, but not especially a commercial success. It marked the first time since the 1960s that Anderson failed to break the top 40 of the UK albums chart, and yielded no hit singles – which might seem weird considering his recent success with Vangelis – but, in all fairness, ‘Animation’ is a really complex animal. On the surface, it’s shiny pop oriented sound and extensive use of the technologies of the era make it appear as if it should’ve been much better received, but closer inspection reveals a sometimes challenging album that often delights in being busy, sometimes for the sake of it, and very occasionally at the expense of obvious hooks. However, it’s one of those albums which, with enough time invested, will eventually present a lot of brilliant material. Some of it is about as singalong as the more excessive bits of ‘Topographic Oceans’, but as is often the case with solo Jon, there’s far more at stake cheeky pop tune.