Something about running



It's been awhile since I've done a running post, but it's also been awhile since I've raced. 13 months to be exact. I have been training, but when you're not training for anything in particular it's easy to lose focus here and there. Saturday was a gut check. I decided it was time to sign up for a race and actually compete. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way things went. I ran 19:23 for 5K (6:14 per mile pace) and my splits were super even. I was 12:28 at the 2 mile mark and held the same pace tot he finish. This means that while  much slower than I have been in awhile, I at least still have a solid sense of pacing and race rhythm. I ended up 4th overall. The first 3 guys were all under 18 minutes and the guy behind me was about twenty seconds back. I passed him with about a mile to go. It was fun getting in there and mixing it up again. Next up is another 5K on the same course in Lakewood Park on October 25. Hopefully I can make a significant improvement to my time. I've already penciled in a good 5-week training block to get ready.

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Pete Fij and Terry Bickers: Broken Heart Surgery

(Some of this will appear in the next issue of The Big Takeover).

Coventry, England's Adorable were one of the best bands of the early nineties, releasing two stellar albums on Creation Records: Against Perfection (1993) and Fake (1994). Unfairly lumped in with the so-called shoegazer scene, Adorable were anything but timid lads staring down on the floor, especially live. Their brand of noisy guitar pop band brought to mind legends like Echo and the Bunnymen and the Jesus and Mary Chain; crushing songs with exceptional songwriting. Frontman Piotr Fijalkowski's (AKA Pete Fij) lyrics read like excerpts from noir films or novels. Just take one listen to "Road Movie" and you'll see what I mean. Adorable broke up in 1995 and Pete went on to form a new group Polak with his brother Kris (ex-Bardots) and would go on to release several great albums, the last one being Rubbernecking in 2002.


Some twelve years in the making, Broken Heart Surgery is Pete's long-awaited collaboration with guitarist Terry Bickers (House of Love). The duo impresses on this raw, stripped down album, which documents the breakdown of a relationship in a brutally honest and, at times, humorous fashion. One can’t help but chuckle on "Out of Time" when Pete laments, "You send me emails and send me texts, you know I can’t connect – I’m not a techno-lover." Other highlights include "Betty Ford" with its clever word play comparing love to drug addiction ("And Hope, it's more addictive than coke"), the poignant single "Downsizing," and the gorgeous "Parallel Girl," where Pete pines for the one who got away backed by an orchestrated arrangement worthy of John Barry. 


More info can be found at: petefijterrybickers.blogspot.com 

Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records

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New sounds from an old favorite: the story of Into Paradise and Dave Long

Dublin's Into Paradise remain one of my favorite groups of all time. They released four incredible albums and a number of killer EPs from 1989-1994 -- mainly on Keith Cullen's famed London imprint Setanta -- before calling it quits. The band had a postpunk vibe that brought to mind legends such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and the Sound. The late Adrian Borland, who fronted the latter, even produced some of Into Paradise's records. I discovered the group in 1989 when I bought their Blue Light EP and debut full-length Under The Water on a visit to England. I'm not sure where I read about them, but obviously something in the description lead me to buy the records without hearing a note. I'm certainly glad I did! I was immediately transfixed by the epic, moody sounds, and the singer Dave Long's breathtaking vocals. A favorite song from this early period is the stunning ballad "I Want You."



Soon after these records came out, Setanta was able to get a licencing deal with Chrysalis and a bastardized version of the debut album, simply called Into Paradise, which combined songs from Under The Water and another EP Change was released in America. Below is a fanzine review I wrote about Under The Water.



Next up was the major label effort, which should have been huge. It was a harder and heavier record with postpunk killers like the intense Magazine-like "Burns My Skin." At this time I struck up a correspondence with Keith Cullen and he even sent me the 12" of "Burns My Skin" which featured a cover of "Shot By Both Sides" as a B-side as well as the debut EP by another Dublin group I came to love, Power of Dreams. Into Paradise did not become the next U2 and their last two albums, Down All The Days (1992) and For No One (1993) were released on Setanta to critical acclaim in Ireland, but without the commercial success that was so richly deserved.

Into Paradise even make a cameo in my forthcoming Whipping Boy-inspired novel, when the protagonist sees what turns out to be one of their last gigs at the Rock Garden. The scene was inspired by this recording of their last ever gig, recently posted on the excellent Fanning Sessions blog.

Some twenty years later and Dave Long is back with a tremendous self-released solo album called Water Has Memory. The man hasn't lost a beat. Songs like the windswept ballads "London is Fog" and  "Music Goes" and the edgy "Saturday Night" bring it all back home again. I hope to visit Dublin next year and would love to buy him a pint or two -- that's the least I can do to thank him for all the wonderful music.




Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records

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Vintage House of Love, Stone Roses and Ride fanzine reviews

A few days ago I posted the first interview I ever did. Here are some reviews I wrote of now-legendary debut albums back in the day by the Stone Roses, House of Love, and Ride. I loved them then and love them now!









Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records

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That Petrol Emotion: The story behind my first interview ever

Before running Vendetta magazine from 1994-2002, I edited a shortly lived zine called New Direction from 1987-1991. While cleaning out my closet, I came across a box of old issues, so I decided that I'd start scanning some articles over the coming weeks, including reviews of then 'new' albums by the likes of the Stone Roses, House of Love, Ride, and the Cure's Disintegration. But first, I wanted to share the first in-person interview I ever conducted with the now legendary Northern Irish outfit That Petrol Emotion.

The group became an immediate favorite of mine when their debut Manic Pop Thrill was released in 1986 while I was studying abroad in England. I remember reading rave reviews in the British press and running out to buy it with my best friend Marc. That Petrol Emotion even make a cameo in my novel Wivenhoe Park when the protagonist Drew and his buddy Johnny see the band in London and talk to Steve Mack afterwards. When I came back to America, I discovered The Big Takeover magazine and was immediately inspired to start my own fanzine. For the first few years I just published record and live reviews, until a friend of mine, Jon, kicked my ass into gear. We went to Detroit to see That Petrol Emotion at St. Andrew's Hall. At the gig Jon went to the side of the stage and started chatting to a dude who turned out to be the group's tour manager. When the concert ended, Jon said to me, come on we're going backstage. I told their manager that you write for Spin and that you just interviewed Billy Bragg! We went backstage -- I'm sure my hands were visibly shaking -- and got to meet everyone in the band, before I conducted a brief interview with bass player John Marchini. As I didn't have a recorder, I jotted down notes on the back of a concert flyer and blended them into the short article below.



I would end up interviewing a hundreds of bands in the coming decade, including Ride, Catherine Wheel, Suede, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Brian Jonestown Massacre, but this little chat with That Petrol Emotion will always remain one of my favorite writing memories.



Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records

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Two greats from '88: House of Love and Ultra Vivid Scene

1988 was a great but somewhat overlooked year in rock 'n' roll. The English music scene that captivated me so much when I first fell in love with alternative sounds at the beginning of the decade was going through growing pains. My beloved Echo and the Bunnymen, who could do no wrong, released their tepid fifth self-titled album in 1987;  one that would break them in America, but at a price. They were never the same again. The original Sisters of Mercy lineup disintegrated, the Psychedelic Furs lost their edge, and most depressing of all, the Smiths broke up. My favorite band, the Jesus and Mary Chain released a much different follow up to Psychocandy, which while great, left me jonesing for noise.

Noise would make a return. Groups like Spacemen 3, Loop, and My Bloody Valentine had already been revisiting the spirit of Psychocandy, with unique twists of their own, while American acts like Dinosaur, Jr. and the Pixies were making a similar splash, especially in England. All of these groups would end up becoming huge influences on what would later be termed shoegaze. Against this backdrop, the House of Love and Ultra Vivid Scene released their seminal debuts in 1988 on Creation and 4AD, respectively.

The House of Love were the perfect marriage of sixties rock 'n' roll classicism and contemporary noise pop. Think Mary Chain meets the Smiths. The combination of Guy Chadwick on vocals and Terry Bickers on guitar was as mesmerizing as Morrissey and Marr. Their self-titled album was a breezy affair, clocking in at barely thirty minutes without a wasted word or note. I remember buying a vinyl copy of this for $5 at a used record store in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Wazoo and playing it five times in a row that Saturday afternoon. Later, I would pick up a German compilation of the singles that did not appear on the record, including "Destroy The Heart" and "Shine On."



Ultra Vivid Scene was an American act fronted by Kurt Ralske, who brought to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground, and Spacemen 3. At this time, I was writing a crap fanzine that shall go nameless (a predecessor to my much better '90s zine Vendetta) and was able to score an Ultra Vivid Scene promo cassette. I wore it out so much in my car that I ended up having to re-buy it on vinyl! To this day, that record and the group's follow up Joy 1967-1990 are in heavy rotation.



Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records

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