Thursday, 12 June 2014

Biffy Clyro


I’ll be honest. Once a band hits “megastar” status, I tend not to go and see them play anymore. Cash plays a factor, but the fact that a band you might have seen in the early days are now headlining some enormodrome, well, it just doesn’t seem like much fun to me. Biffy Clyro are, in the UK at least, superstars nowadays, but thankfully, I saw them a few times in their formative years in far more intimate surroundings than the arenas they play now.

I first saw them at the Highbury Garage in 2001, supporting The Llama Farmers. Biffy had just signed to the same label as the headliners, which partly explained why they were supporting, and like many support bands, had to put up with the indignity of the crowd talking all the way through their set. I had never heard of them, but as I watched, I found that I enjoyed their quiet/loud approach, even though they were nearly impossible to hear during the quiet bits thanks to the crowd chatter. My immediate thoughts were that they seemed like a “Scottish Nirvana”.

Their first single for Beggars, “27”, appeared soon after. Although it was their first for the label, it was not their first release. They had already issued a couple of now-impossible-to-find CD singles during the previous few years, one off releases for various independent labels. The group had formed in the mid 90s and come to the attention of these label owners as they toured around the country whilst still at college. “27” failed to chart, but a buzz began to build around the band soon after, and subsequent singles started to dent the top 200, before the release of their debut LP “Blackened Sky” in 2002. The band returned to the Garage, this time as triumphant headliners, but they were still obviously a cult band - I recall that one of the band members at one point was put in charge of the merchandising stall, and if you bought a T-shirt, you could get a free postcard signed at the same time!

The band’s second LP, “The Vertigo Of Bliss”, was issued in 2003, where the artwork approach changed. The band had a new logo, and the album and it’s attendant singles all appeared in “erotic” picture sleeves. Now, here’s something not mentioned on the net. Around about the same time, the group agreed to appear as one of the supports for a Limp Bizkit freebie gig in Finsbury Park, on 6th September 2003. Once done and dusted, the band then hopped onto the North Circular to make their way to Harrow Lodge Park in Hornchurch, Essex. There was a local “Battle Of The Bands” event, and somehow, somebody had asked Biffy to appear as guest headliners - and incredibly they had agreed. At about 10pm that night, the band took to the stage in front of what must have been no more than 50 people, and put on the best show I have ever seen them play. Despite the relatively non existent crowd, they really seemed to enjoy it, at one point revealing their regret at doing the Limp Bizkit show, by announcing “better to be here than in London”. They even came back to play an unscheduled encore. Even now, I still can’t believe I saw them play that show, especially as the last single, “Questions And Answers”, had dented the top 30. What were a hit single producing band doing playing at a local park? Their next 45 didn’t do quite so well, “Eradicate The Doubt”, was done as a limited edition, including a bizarre CD+DVD doublepack, which surely couldn’t have been eligible for the charts, which might explain how it seemed to only just get into the top 100, seemingly on 7“ and download sales only.

2004’s “Infinity Land” spawned more top 30 hits though, although the album itself, like it’s predecessors, failed to hit the top 40. Again, the artwork design was different for this one, another new logo, and completely different art direction from what had come before. Each single appeared on 7”, CD and DVD, with unique material on each format. It would turn out to be the last Biffy release on Beggars, and upon switching to 14th Floor Records, part of the much bigger Warner Brothers group, the band would suddenly find that the big budgets of a major label was instrumental in turning them into proper rock stars. Beggars would respond to this by issuing a number of “cash in” releases thereafter, with a singles collection and expanded vinyl repressings of those first three LP’s.

Given that the objective of this site is to list the records, and not so much describe the sound of the music - after all, if you are reading this, I assume you know what Biffy sound like - this is just as well here because Biffy have generally followed the same post-grunge path during the years on a major, so I am not sure what I could really say about this part of their career. I don’t mean this as a bad thing, indeed, second major label 45 “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” is probably their greatest song ever, if I was a real hipster I wouldn’t admit to that would I? Although much has been made of how the move to Warners saw the band polish up and remove their more “prog” tendencies, I am not so sure - this particularly tune opens with a monumental rock/classical extended instrumental intro, truly left field stuff but utterly thrilling. Far from confusing the general public, it was the band’s second top 20 hit on the trot, and the accompanying LP, “Puzzle”, issued in June 2007, went to number 2 in the charts. It, and the various singles, came in some distinctive looking Storm Thorgerson artwork - as have all subsequent albums and singles. There are some really good songs on these later albums, 2009’s “Only Revolutions” having been previewed by the rock monster that was “Mountains”, an album that featured the glorious punk rock thrash of “That Golden Rule”, the lighters-aloft ballad “Many Of Horror” and the catchy as hell pop punk of “Bubbles“.

Aside from the technically import only “Opposites Live From Glasgow” and the DVD/CD “Revolutions Live At Wembley”, the last Biffy album was 2013’s double album “Opposites”. Unlike a lot of double albums that are short enough to fit onto a single CD, this is a proper double album, two CD’s each with their own title. Initial copies were actually issued as a triple disc release, as they came with a free “making of the album” DVD. Double disc editions of “Puzzle” and “Only Revolutions” also exist.


Discography

ALBUMS

Simply because they are probably the easiest to find, and are not missing too much in the way of extra music, I have listed the standard CD editions for the band’s seven studio/compilation albums so far. The three expanded reissues of the Beggars albums, if you can find them, are of some interest though. They were pressed in 2012, although some seem to have been repressed again in later years, and are available in various different coloured vinyl editions. The reissue of “Bliss” is the hardest to find for some reason. Basically, the original album has been expanded to double LP length, with the addition of B-sides from the period, but radio session material, live recordings and DVD only B-sides are missing, so they won’t fill in all the gaps for the newbies amongst you.

Blackened Sky (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 226)
The Vertigo Of Bliss (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 233)
Infinity Land (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 238)
Puzzle (CD, 14th Floor 2564 699 7633)
Singles (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 2047)
Only Revolutions (CD, 14th Floor 5186 561452)
Opposites (2xCD, 14th Floor 2564 645 2477)

SINGLES

When first released, virtually all Biffy 45’s appeared with an element of interest - rarely did a Biffy single appear that was “missing” something that you could get on another format. And of the one such single that did exist in this state, the “missing” material dates from the Beggars years, and so is now on the relevant expanded LP. So, I have simply listed every Biffy single on every format, because most of them are still of interest, depending on what you already own or have an interest in owning, etc, etc. As ever, buying the expanded albums will tick some of the boxes, but not all, so try before you buy as I always say. For ease of use, I have listed, where relevant, some of the tracks that later got a second lease of life with the Beggars cash in releases, as the affected singles will now have lost a bit of their USP.

Iname/All The Way Down Chapter 2/Travis Perkins (CD, Babi Yaga YAGA 001 CD)

Thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow EP: 57/Hope For An Angel/Justboy/Less The Product (CD, Electric Honey EHRCD 013)

27/Instructio4/Breatheher (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352)
27/Instructio4/Breatheher (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352 CD)

Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355)
Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355 CD)

57/Kill The Old Torture Their Young (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358)
57/Hope For An Angel (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001)/Time As An Imploding Unit/Waiting For Green (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358 CD)

Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys (Edit)/Joy Discovery Invention/All The Way Down Chapter 2 (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361, a-side available on “Singles“)
Joy Discovery Invention/Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys/The Houses Of Roofs (SBN Session Version) (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361 CD)

The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365)
The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious/Do You Remember What You Came For? (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365 CD, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)

Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/Ewen’s True Mental You (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers (Edit)/Good Practice Makes Permanent/Let’s Get Smiling (CD1, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD, unique p/s, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/I Hope You’re Done/Questions And Answers (Video) (CD2, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD2, unique p/s, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)

Eradicate The Doubt (Live)/The Ideal Height (Live)/Justboy (Live) (Numbered 7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374)
Eradicate The Doubt/Convex Concave (Live)/57 (Live)/Now The Action Is On Fire! (Live)/Eradicate The Doubt (Video)/Justboy (Video) (CD+DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374 CD/DVD)

Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377)
Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/Bonanzoid Deathgrip/Stars And Shites (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Glitter And Trauma (Video)/Go Your Own Way (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004)/Untitled Movie (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 DVD, white bordered p/s)

My Recovery Injection/Diary Of Always (Acoustic) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379)
My Recovery Injection (Edit)/It’s Always The Quiet Ones/Corfu (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
My Recovery Injection (Video)/Making Of My Recovery Injection (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 DVD, white bordered p/s)

Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Tradition Feed (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384, b-side also released as hidden track on album)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Drown In A Natural Light/Gently (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Video)/Breatheher (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 DVD, white bordered p/s)

Saturday Superhouse/I’m Behind You (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V1)
Saturday Superhouse/Miracle Of Survival (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V2)
Saturday Superhouse/Scared Of Lots Of Everything (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR19CD)

Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Loneliness (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V1)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Kittens Cakes And Cuddles (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V2)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Relief Or Fight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR21CD)

Folding Stars/Coward (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V1)
Folding Stars/A Headline (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V2)
Folding Stars/Asexual Meat Kitchen (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR24CD)

Machines (Remix)/Classical Machines (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V1)
Machines (Remix)/(Demo) (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V2)
Machines (Remix)/Hermaphrofight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR27CD)

Who’s Got A Match?/But I’m Serious (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V1)
Who’s Got A Match?/Cracker (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V2)
Who’s Got A Match?/Umbrella (BBC Radio 1 Version) (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR29CD)

Mountains/Paperfriend (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V1)
Mountains/Robbery (2nd 7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V2)
Mountains/Little Soldiers (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR32CD)

That Golden Rule/Eyelids (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR38)
That Golden Rule/Time Jazz (Orange Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR38X)
That Golden Rule/Prey Hey (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR38CD)

The Captain/Once An Empire (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR40)
The Captain/Party On (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR40X)
The Captain/Help Me Be Captain (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR40CD)

Many Of Horror/Lonely Revolutions (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41)
Many Of Horror/Creative Burns (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41X)
Many Of Horror/Toottoottoot (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR41CD)

Bubbles/Hiya (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43)
Bubbles/Street Love (Green Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43X)
Bubbles/Sad Sad Songs (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR43CD)

God And Satan (Single Mix)/10 Bodies (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/51 Trumpets (White Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44X)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/Hawkwind (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR44CD)

Black Chandelier/Milky (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR48)

Modern Magic Formula (Live)/City Of Dreadful Night (Splattered Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR50)

Opposite/Feverish (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR51)

Victory Over The Sun/Break A Butterfly On A Wheel (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR52)

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