Fog On The Wire

This month I am literally speechless with excitement (though I’m sure I’ll soon recover) as top alternative music magazine The Wire has devoted a significant portion of it’s June 2012 issue to discussing the recently released ‘Notes On Cow Life’ album!

Disclaimer: I might have adapted parts of this image

Yep, a copy of the cassette fell/was pushed into the hands of one Mr. Byron Coley of the ‘Size Doesn’t Matter’ column that specialises each month in reviewing new music released on unusual and obscure formats. And look – there we are in the prime spot of second column, fifth paragraph down on page 66! The last time I was this giddy (or included in a magazine) was that time when a thumb-nail image of me appeared on page 166 of an issue of ‘Q Magazine’. Simple mathematics therefore suggests that I am now exactly one hundred pages more famous than I was then! Wowsers!

I was literally mobbed on the street when this first came out…

So, what does Mr. Coley think of our inaugural release? Well, for those of you too remote or too stingy to purchase your own copy, I’ve reproduced it below. I’ve also made it nice and big to really emphasise our star-billing:

Note: This isn’t life-size. He didn’t like it that much!

What do you reckon? A good review? Not bad overall, I reckon, worth the £20 note I slipped into the jiffy bag as an incentive.  I must add, however, that I was momentarily troubled by having my contribution seemingly described as ‘slight’, possibly the first time that adjective has ever been used in connection with your humble scribe. ‘Slight effects’? What could this mean? Naturally I took it personally and spent several minutes sobbing in the newsagents. But having spent the past week repeatedly analysing this paragraph, I’ve made my peace with it and also decided that for the next album I shall increase the level of effects from ‘slight‘ to ‘pronounced‘. And the cash incentive to £40.

In the meantime, copies of ‘Notes On Cow Life’ are now available as part of Sound//Space, a pop-up record store and community hub located within the V22 Summer club in The Biscuit Factory, Clements Road, Bermondsey. The latest project from the brains behind the excellent Sound Fjord Gallery, the shop stocks releases from a wide variety of obscure musicians and sound artists on tiny bedroom labels from around the globe, as well as a full programme of performances, installations, films and theatre pieces until the end of July. Check out their full listings here.

Don’t worry if you’re not lucky enough to be based here in swinging London, you can still pick up a copy from our label The Fog Signals’ website in limited-edition bright orange cassette and/or download. And of course The Wire magazine is available from all good newsagents, record shops and selected trendy bistros. There’s an interesting article about Bass Clef this month too. And a really good ‘Inner Sleeve’, which is always the bit I read first…

A Fistula Dollars

A video discovered on the internet. Two inappropriately dressed women from the north of England are standing in an expensive but sparse-looking kitchen, pretending to drink from impractical square cups. Presumably the director has asked them pass the time by ad-libbing, which would explain the following rapier-sharp exchange that pulls no punches and transports the unsuspecting viewer right into the midst of a white-hot drama rich in narrative and characterisation:

Girl 1: You’ll never guess where I’ve been today.
Girl 2: Where’ve you been, then?
Girl 1: I went to the shops and bought some nice skirt.
Girl 2: Did you? Did you spend a lot on it?
Girl 1: No, it were a right bargain.
Girl 2: Was it now?
Girl 1: Yeah.
(Knock at door)
Girl 2: Are you expecting someone?
Girl 1: As it happens, I AM expecting someone.

(After that it all gets a bit unpleasant)

Why am I mentioning all this? Because it’s time for another helping of Chips!

Ben, Clare, Scott and Michael at home yesterday. Mini Pops not in picture.

Yes indeed, everyone’s favourite freak-pop avante-garde funk mentalists have a brand new single out this week and it’s a corker. ‘Fistula’ and it’s B-side ‘Mobility Plaza’ were both recorded in a basement in Chicago by the legendary Bobby Conn, have received airings on BBC 6Music, and are available now on 7″ single and/or three-track digital download. Three-track? Oh yes, because customers will be happy to receive an extra digital bonus track with their purchase, a remix of Fistula by a certain Robin The Fog, which will hopefully sweeten the deal still further. In fact, here it is now:


Available now from Parlour Records and I would imagine all the usual places such as Rough Trade, i-tunes and what have you. And don’t forget to attend the single launch party at Power Lunches in London’s fashionable Dalston on 17th May, along with two other excellent bands, METHODISTCENTRE (homoerotic street punks) and EARL SHILTON (black metal). To avoid confusion I’d like to point out that this event will NOT be at lunchtime, it will kicking off at 19.30 or thereabouts in the evening. Just wanted to clear that up.

See you there. Make sure you wear a nice skirt.

Love, Love Me Dupe?

I have never been a particularly massive fan of The Beatles. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like that one off ‘Revolver’ that goes backwards and the other one about dragging a comb and catching a bus. But otherwise I can’t say they have played a particularly substantial role in my life up until now. But all that has changed! Because, gentle reader, I have finally hit the jackpot. My latest crate-digging mission in the flotsam and jetsam of recorded media culminated in the discovery of this miraculous item sitting sleeveless and forlorn in a Notting Hill charity shop; and fame and fortune could do nought but follow:

As you can see it’s a 7″ single of breakthrough Beatles hit  ‘Love Me Do’, with the slightly lesser known ‘PS I Love You’ on the flip (obviously you can’t actually see that bit, but I’m assuming a little preliminary knowledge here). You may also have noticed, however, this is not just any old single. It’s a Test pressing! In STEREO, no less!  Were my eyes deceiving me? How was this even possible? My already mounting excitement then took another giant leap forward after discovering a webpage discussing the top five selling vinyl releases on ebay, which claimed that a Parlophone demo of ‘Love Me Do’ with sleeve sold in October last year for a whopping $17,334.20. Despite the fact that the similarities between a demo and test pressing are somewhat blurred, and that this record didn’t come with a sleeve at all, I quickly realised that any record collector or Beatles fan worth their salt would pay through a succession of noses to get even a sniff of this treasure; and that I would comfortably be able to retire on the profits, perhaps building that little place in the country I’ve always promised myself;  filling it with tape machines while engaging a kindly old butler to finally help me catalogue my BBC sound effects collection (and also make toast). All this for an outlay of fifty pence. Not bad at all.

And yet as I admired the view from my freshly-purchased ivory tower, I spared a moment of pity for the poor sap who forsook all of this splendour by foolishly donating this highly covetable rarity to a charity shop only two doors down from Notting Hill’s Music And Video Exchange, possibly the most famous second-hand vinyl emporium in the whole of London. The poor man (and it’s always a man) could never have known what he had. So close to finding a profitable home for this treasure. And yet so far!

I must say my associates have been less enthusiastic about it all.  There have been those who, no-doubt motivated by jealously, expressed frank doubts as to whether this was as genuine an article as my brief, sweeping glance had confirmed. Such nay-sayers are quick to point out that there is clearly an actual proper printed black label visible under  the hastily glued-on white one. They go on to observe that the catalogue number ‘Parlophone 5148’ was actually a 7″ single by The Roulettes, entitled ‘I’ll Remember Tonight’, released two years later. And that an ‘actual’ stereo version of ‘Love Me Do’ didn’t even exist until 2009. And the fact that there is clearly a third track cut into the B-side. A ‘PPS I Still Love You’, perhaps?

‘Furthermore’, continued my so-called well-wishers as the butler politely-but-firmly attempted to show them the door, ‘What does the fact that you bought it for 50p in a charity shop lying in the very shadow of  The Music And Video Exchange tell you?  A little reading between the lines suggests that some pathetic attempt  at espionage was afoot, but the staff at MVE quickly spotted it and laughed them out of the shop! You’re a fool, Robin The Fog!’

Dreadful people. But I must confess, as the drawbridge closed behind them, my natural scepticism did start to creep back. It’s true that it’s a little unlikely anyone would be so unaware of the 60s supergroup as to sling out their rare promotional material in the same way they would dispose of, say, Johnny Mathis or Russ Abbott LPs. But all doubts evaporated once I gingerly placed my needle into it’s astonishingly valuable grooves. Here’s what I heard:

That’s enough, we don’t want to wear it out. But I think you’ll agree it’s the Beatles alright. That’s definitely McCartney on the piano. This must be some incredibly scarce early demo of ‘Love Me Do’ perhaps created before their manager Brian Epstein convinced them to radically overhaul the song and add lyrics, guitar, bass and drums. Plus Ringo on the tambourine. It’s even rarer than I thought! And what a fascinating insight into the early days of one of our greatest bands as they explored their light-classical, easy-listening roots! Appalling inept forgery? I think not, I know what side my bread’s buttered. Even if I now have a Butler for that…

My asking price is £1,000,000. I can be contacted at the usual address. Please form an orderly queue.