Big week for singles this week, with releases ranging from Westlife's now seemingly annual single release to U2 and Green Day sending Stuart Adamson spinning in his grave and Richard Jobson surely thinking about joining him, from Paris and Madonna to the Sugababes and George Michael with Mutya, from All Saints to, erm, 10cc. That's what it says here, a single issue of The Dean & I. And the Rocky Horror Show's Time Warp 2007. One day we'll explain exactly why the Rocky Horror Show must die, but we have work to do. Not a great amount of songs we actually can recommend you shell out for, actually, but one of the most enjoyable surprise packages back at the Truck festival, SixNationState, issue Fire!, the first proper shot, and an impressive one at that, at capturing their full-on live skank'n'roll intensity. Intriguingly, we make it the first release on Jeepster since Belle & Sebastian's Storytelling album almost four and a half years ago, which even given Stiff Records is putting out a single for the first time in 20 years this week (shame it's the uneventful The Enemy, really) is quite a curio, really. Two more prevalent but not as common in these digital days formats also crop up this week: the double A-side, Gnarls Barkley's Who Cares?/Gone Daddy Gone, and the EP, Sparks sticking out a largely live set around Dick Around and the perenially overlooked drily funny, pinpoint lyrical gifts of Simon Rivers' The Bitter Springs finding five new songs for Poor Trace EP. Vinyl? That'll be Thom Yorke sneaking Analyse past us on 12" and the not-leaving-us-as-keen-as-many-others-but-we-can-appreciate-that Midlake putting out Head Home on 7".
Brakes' Give Blood, our tenth best album of 2005, clocked in at 29 minutes. The Beatific Visions doesn't even quite make that, albeit there's six fewer tracks. As ever, then, this is not a band that hangs around, although this time there's the added dimension of having been to Nashville to record most of it. The formula's much the same - wistful alt-country next to angular screes next to Violent Femmes-esque everything at the same time - but it now seems more focused, as befits a band by and large now concentrating on this project as opposed to the previous busman's holiday status, and that bit more thought through. You watch, they'll be up there in the end of years again. We mentioned the other week how we've never quite fallen for the Long Blondes despite ourselves, and as we say every time we know from their references and musical near neighbours that we should be treasuring this band's every move but we can't quite make the connection. We've not heard Someone To Drive You Home in full but we hear a lot of similar waverers have been convinced by it, so maybe. Thunderbirds Are Now! briefly looked like becoming blogger hypes at the start of last year but never quite made the jump but their serrated dance-punk-pop is worth a shot through third album Make History. And what of Joanna Newsom's Ys? Again, there's something about her that means we here have never quite made the leap into accepting her, and despite the presence of Van Dyke Parks, Steve Albini, Jim O'Rourke and Bill Callahan here and the five star reviews pretty much across the board we're not finding ourselves rushing to embrace a five track, 56 minute album. Convince us, commenters. As we get nearer Christmas the best ofs and repackagings really start building, and there's plenty here to convince the early shoppers. Notably the Everything Must Go: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition comes six months after the actual tenth anniversary, but it's hardly scrimping and saving with two discs full of live tracks, B-sides, alternate versions, remixes, demos and first takes plus a DVD of videos, live tracks, TV appearances and new Patrick Jones documentaries. Meanwhile it's the turn of Pavement's most prominent excursion into their more outre side, Wowee Zowee, in their own repackaging campaign, the Sordid Sentinels Edition, with the usual collection of fragmented memories in a mighty booklet, live and session tracks, unreleased material, B-sides and sundry obscurities. What do you suppose the Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks compilation, which provides one track, is? The Charlatans have put out a singles collection before but that only went up to North Country Boy, not even the last single off that album, so high time we got Forever: The Singles, although you still need to run it alongside Melting Pot for the full story. Paul Weller seems to release a career-spanning Finally Definitive Collection every couple of months, but we're assured the four disc Hit Parade is the genuine article. Produced By George Martin: Highlights Of 50 Years gets you know who out of the way quickly, takes time in the middle to remind you that part of what attracted Them (no, not Van Morrison's band, you know exactly who we mean) to him was his history with Goons-related comedy records and digs up all sorts of oddities, including a Tom Jones song called Come And Sweep My Chimbley. See, Colin Meloy, not so smart now. XFM Presents: This Is Music is actually quite decent for what it is, that is to say a cash-in Christmas 'indie' compilation, while We Are Scientists, who will surely qualify for British citizenship given another tour, throw together remixes, rarities and covers (Be My Baby, Hoppipolla, Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock & Roll in the style of the Velvet Underground) on Crap Attack.
English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer, lotus-fed Miss Havishambling opsimath and eremite, feudal still, reactionary Sweeping The Nation, that's us. Finally, Vivian Stanshall's peculiarly genius Sir Henry At Rawlinson's End is out on DVD, and there's an original trailer on YouTube to prove it. Where were we? Paul Weller: Hit Parade is two discs of videos and TOTP performances, Later With Jools Holland: Later... The Best Of 2000-2006 sweeps up everything not on the previous releases, climaxing with that mighty drum-off on Franz Ferdinand's The Outsiders from the last series, and oh go on then, Chas And Dave: Live At Shepherds Bush Empire. Including Snooker Loopy! Does Chas do impressions of the players, or what?