Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sounds For Sunday

The Festive edition.

I have to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas. We had a couple of bad ones when I was a kid, where we lost some relatives, so I associate it with sadness and loneliness. I try to get into the spirit but it doesn't always happen. What I'd really love one day is to just have a really simple Christmas, not to go mad, not to overdo it on food and alcohol, not to feel the pressure to make a big spend. An old fashioned simple day.

It would be nice to feel like I wasn't drowning in a sea of cheese where music is concerned too. There is some room for it, but not all the time. I just get fed up of the jingling of bells over every track.

Anyway here's a few tunes that I hope sidestep the cheese somewhat. These will be playing on Christmas Day as first drink.

Happy Christmas!!!

Alton Ellis And The Lipsticks - Merry Merry Christmas
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles - Jingle Bells
The Aggrovators - Santa Claus Dub
Diana Ross And The Supremes - My Favourite Things
The Kingstonians - Merry Christmas
The Jackson 5 - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
The Maytals - Happy Christmas

Saturday, 20 December 2008


Well this year is the last I'll spend as a 30 something; I lost a parent and found out I'm to become a parent myself. Quite big events all.

And impacting on life in strange little ways. Musically I've always been fairly much the same since I was a teenager. Paul Weller, The Clash, The Who, 2 Tone, punk and old soul and reggae, with a detour into dance music during the late 80s early 90s.

But I've found that, during the 'shock' period after my loss and discovery of impending parenthood that my old records didn't feel the same. So away mostly for the rare Northern soul sides and onto the iPod with my Sigur Ros albums which I'd quite liked before. Now they sound like masterpieces.

What else suddenly sounded good was Paul Simon; something about that weary resignation just feels like home. And now I find myself really loving Rumours. Yes. Fleetwood Mac. I started the year with an iPod full of rare soul and reggae sides and find myself finishing it with soft rock from the 70s.

There's just something about it's warmth and semi acoustics, the harmonies and the underlying tension that just makes it crackle like a real fire. And the fact that there's no trace of irony involved, no tongue in cheek: they mean it. Man. And there's a feeling that this is the blueprint for a whole generations music. No, it's not The Clash. But there is a sense of cool about it that I didn't think it would contain. Maybe I'm just getting old....

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Fred Parris was (and still is) the lead voice in the classic doo wop group The Five Satins, who had a huge hit with In the Still of the Nite.

Dark At The Top Of My Heart is a little later, late 60s, early 70s. But over a pulsating bass and funky backbeat the doo wop roots stand proud. Listen to the harmonies over the 'top of my heart' line.

Beautiful stuff.

Fred Parris - Dark At The Top Of My Heart

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Leaves That Are Green

Well, the opening line to this song was a bit of a surprise I must say....

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Takedowns Galore

I managed to be under the radar for the first group of takedowns that were hitting seemingly everybody else. I had a visit from the 'web sheriff' asking politely to take something down but that was all.

This week I've had FOUR removals. To be honest it doesn't bother me that much, the thought of some big corporation scanning the web looking for these things. Copyright law is copyright law, like it or not. And that's a whole blog worth of thought and argument right there.

What does bother me is the fact that two of the tracks removed are pretty rare. You can't buy them, so nobody's sales are being affected. Which leads me to believe, (because anybody can make a complaint and get your post removed, it doesn't have to be a big corporation bullying us little folk)that it was actually some collector worrying about the value of his/her collection being affected by the availability of a tune.

Yup that's right. I think it was somebody just like me. One of the little folk.

And that's really sad.

(Any more removals may just lead to the blog disappearing. Blogger do that from time to time. If that happens don't panic. Take note of my blog list to the right and keep an eye open on their comments. I'll be back if my pages do a disappearing act.....)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Here's a little Otis for today. It was 41 years ago on the 10th of this month that we lost the man, who was only 26 when he went.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Party Chambers

Adam over here is talking about The Style Council and their first album Introducing today. It made me think about their first b-side, Party Chambers, which to me is one of those Weller B-sides that stay with you long after you're sick of the A-side. It's also pretty typical of a Weller strand that sort of got lost. It's jazzy, but it's not really jazz; it kind of sounds like 60s film soundtrack music, but modernised and Weller-fied. I'd sit it alongside The Jam tracks like The Great Depression and Shopping, both for quality B-side status and for their musical similarities.

I love the Moogy solo over the finish, it ends too abruptly for me: I could listen to that for hours.

I was 14 when I heard this first and in the midst of a huge teenage crush/unrequited love thing. It reminds me of wet pavements and Benson & Hedges; of really good chip shop chips and Coke of the cola variety. It sounds like the ups when she chose to smile at me and the downs when she ignored me completely.

"Let me sink in sadness, cause I can't forget her;
She was on my mind and
Try as I might I spend all my time thinking about her"

The Style Council - Party Chambers

Monday, 1 December 2008

Carnaby Street

A lesser known tune by Booker T & The MGs here today.

Carnaby Street was a tribute to and inspired by the British groups as they moved from beat pop to psychedelia. It appeared on their Hip Hug-Her album in 1967. It's quite unusual for Booker and the boys; it's less of dance track and more jangly 6ts pop, that autumnal sound that I associate with 1966-67: it's very very Small Faces in it's style, with some lovely riffs and changes and an absolutely soaring Hammond chorus. Enjoy!

(Some research made today found an interview here with Ian McLagan of the Small Faces that suggests they were 'inspired' by this instrumental in their creation of their own classic Tin Soldier.)

Booker T & The MGs - Carnaby Street

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sounds For Sunday

There's a scary version of Try A Little Tenderness on the TV as I'm sitting here, which is so shouty and forced and completely un-soulful that it's making me feel a little ill.

So here's some classic tunes that pretty much define soulful without even breaking a sweat. These are in their full length form too, so watch out: there's about half an hour's music in these three tracks!

Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up
William DeVaughn - Be Thankful For What You've Got
The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sounds For Sunday

1983 was a turning point for me in a lot of ways. Where music was concerned it was the moment where I stopped simply discovering music from it being played to me via the radio or TV and went out and found it. It was the year I became a soul fan.

Several things came together to make that happen. I started to become interested in what influenced the bands I liked. Before then the records they made seemed to be in a vacuum. They came fully formed and I didn't really care who the bands had listened to to come up with their music. It was all new.

But in 1982-83 I started to realise that these bands didn't exist in a bubble of their own, they were part of a bigger thing. Weller would talk about Motown and The Clash and The Who. Joboxers took over presenting a radio show and talked about Northern Soul, Madness did something similar and talked about Costello. Costello would talk about Burt Bacharach. And then when you would work your way backwards through those people you would then find that, hey wait a minute that sounds familiar and work forwards again through other bands. So, while Weller loved Motown, so obviously did the Human League. Joboxers loved Northern Soul and so did Soft Cell.

And so it began.

A couple of years ago my mum was retiring, moving out of London and going back to her hometown in Wales. When she packed up I gave her a hand and found a couple of suitcases in cupboards filled with my own stuff, leftovers from my teens that I'd never taken with me when I left home. There were old comics and pin-ups, copies of Smash Hits and old school jotters. Some of those were filled with lists of songs that I would hear on the radio and make note of so I could get them later. One in particular was kept by the radio specially for a show that I used to listen to on Capital Radio, Pete Young's Soul Cellar. In the winter of 1983 that became a huge favourite of mine as I claimed that particular style and sound for my own.

Flicking through that one I realised that I actually owned most of the tunes listed these days. But back then though you couldn't get some of the sounds for love or money. Well you could, but you had to be prepared to spend loads. Today's sounds are a selection of that list. Listening to them now I can remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that excitement at hearing them, but also that desire to own them myself.

Booker T & The MGs - Slim Jenkins' Place
The Soul Sisters - I Can't Stand It
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - If You Can Want

Friday, 14 November 2008


It's funny. You spend your whole life thinking about, chasing, and if you're lucky having:

Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.

And then you remember what sex is actually for.

Positively so...

In six months time there'll be a mini-me or mini-wife. I'm absolutely over the moon right now, especially given the times that we've been through in recent months.

You'll maybe understand that I'm not really up to blogging lately; the last few months have left me a little drained in that department!

And this week there'll be no posting because it's time to go and visit the family. So in the meantime here's some Stevie Wonder to make the weekend go down a little easier.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sounds For Sunday

This is something a little bit special today. "I Cried" by Tammi Montgomery was a single in 1963. Tammi was 18 years old and signed to James Brown's Try Me label. This song was her only release for the label. You can hear James Brown all over it, the backing track is pretty much note for note one of his more famous ballads. I'll leave you to work out which one.

It's a beautiful track though, with an amazing vocal, and the gorgeous flute parts just send shivers down my spine.

It's even more special for it's place in soul history. Because, two years later Tammi was signed to Motown and became the more well known Tammi Terrell. Tammi died at the tragically young age of 24 after leaving behind some great music, especially the ballads with Marvin Gaye. And this:

Tammi Montgomery - I Cried


Thursday, 30 October 2008


An album from the past couple of years that I keep finding myself listening to, usually very loudly is the debut album 'Cookies' by 1990s. I'm a sucker for glam punk pop with loud shiny sharp guitars. And this is loud, shiny and sharp and wasted around the edges, albeit with a tongue firmly in cheek. If you like your Clash and Pistols, Ziggy Stardust and New York Dolls then you'll probably like this.

Enjoying Myself
You're Supposed To Be My Friend

Simply thrilling. Honey.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Big Audio Dynamite

I was listening to the last Clash album the other day, Cut The Crap. My God, never again. Luckily there was another Clash album. Of sorts. The second album by Mick Jones' Big Audio Dynamite, produced by and partly written with Joe Strummer. One of my favourite albums. Beyond The Pale is quite possibly the best song by Strummer/Jones and one I identified with, being about immigration bringing people to London and the troubles they face.

My dad and his family came to the UK from Mauritius in the early 60s, and a lot of my mates growing up were Jamaican or Turkish, the two main immigrant communities in our area. Beyond The Pale was something of an anthem for me and my best mate.

Big Audio Dynamite - V.Thirteen
Big Audio Dynamite - Limbo The Law
Big Audio Dynamite - Beyond The Pale

"If you don`t know where I come from
You better stear clear of my trail
From the dark side of London
And that`s way beyond the pale
My grandpa came from Russia
Stowed away hidden in some bales
And he took my grandma dancing
To the air raid sirens hail

Saint George used his sword
On the immigrant poor
`Cos he can`t kill no dragon
If I was in those shoes
I`d say Soweto`s gonna happen here too
I gotta get a message through
Tell everybody the news

And with the winter coming...

Crossing all the borders
Through the smoke of war and rain
Papers out of order
On a military train
A coat a bag a baby
Status: refugee
These are the people of my family

Don`t anybody know that
This city was made
Of immigrant blood and money
If I was in those shoes
A blackshirt with the playboy blues
I gotta get a message through
Tell everybody the news

And with the winter coming...

Now there`s a rocker in Vladivostok
Got every side by Jerry Lee
But for accidents of disorder
That guy could well be me
I want everybody to know this
I want everyone to hear
Immigration built the nation
You got a bloodclaat standing here

Saint George used his sword
On the immigrant poor
`Cos he can`t kill no dragon
If I was in those shoes
I`d say Soweto`s gonna happen here too
I gotta get a message through
Tell everybody the news

And with the winter coming...

Don`t anybody know that
The city was made
Of immigrant blood and money
If I was in those shoes
A blackshirt with the playboy blues
I gotta get a message through
Tell everybody the news

And with the winter coming.."

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Bongo Jams A Speciality

(otherwise known as Sounds For Sunday..)

I've been on something of a Clash tip this week. Makes for poor blogging though, because as I said the other day, they mean so much to me that I find it difficult to put anything into words.

Here's a little something Clash connected today: the original version of Revolution Rock, which The Clash covered on their best album London Calling.

Revolution Rock - Danny Ray

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

What did you want to be when you grew up dad?

Well, for my part I wanted to be Joe Strummer. My first electric guitar was a Telecaster because of him, and when pushed I will say The Clash are my all time favourite band. It's difficult to write about them for me. There's just too many things to speak about, the bass lines, the guitars, the drums, Mick's vocals, Joe chewing a mouthful of angry wasps over the top.

And the way they looked too. I can honestly say that for me no other band looked as good as The Clash. They were just the perfect band.

Strummer and Jones weren't necessarily the best singers ever - they wouldn't get past the first audition for something like X Factor thank God, but they were amongst the best vocalists ever.

One of my favourite performances by the band is The Magnificent Seven (although I found out recently that bass line was a loop played by the Blockheads' bass player who was standing in for Paul temporarily). It's the energy of the thing, the excitement you can feel from the speakers at this band from London playing the first white rap tune. It's brilliantly ridiculous, Joe sounding like he was singing what he saw as somebody flicked through the TV channels.

What have we got? Magnificence!

The Magnificent Seven - The Clash

Sunday, 12 October 2008

It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

...And I feel fine...

Armagideon Times - Willie Williams

*this is still a 'sounds for sunday' and, no, I'm not going anywhere......

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Tell It Like It Is

This version of the soul classic is a live version by The Neville Brothers with Aaron. I first heard it on the soundtrack to 80s movie The Big Easy; I'm not sure where it actually came from before that. If anybody knows leave me a comment!

I've been thinking about my favourite performances a lot lately and this definitely fits in with that. I've heard a lot of different versions of this song but none are quite as...slinky as this one. In The Big Easy it's playing in the background when Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin's characters get it together. It's definitely a good tune for those kind of moments....

A classic performance of a classic tune. It doesn't get much better than this...

Aaron Neville & The Neville Brothers - Tell It Like It Is

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Pop Quiz answers....

On Sunday I asked the following:

"Ok, Dancing In The Street inspired which classic rock tune/riff?
In My Lonely Street was ripped off by which Mod icon for one of his excellent b-sides? And name the song...
And finally the Rolling Stones cover of Marvin Gaye's version of Hitch-Hike inspired which 80s Indie anthem?"

And the answers....drum roll please...or at least a bacon roll...

Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

Apparently the famous guitar line is a magpie moment of Dancing In The Streets, even though Keef thought it was an unconcious rip . So much so that he wanted to bin it at one point...sometimes I listen to this song after not having heard it for a while. And do you know what? It's great!

Headstart For Happiness - The Style Council

Not really a surprise that Weller would nick a riff from somewhere, especially a Motown tune that was covered by 60s Mods The Action.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths

I remember an interview with Johnny Marr back in the 80s where the interviewer suggested the intro to this had been 'inspired' by The Velvets "There She Goes Again". Which would have been a very mid 80s indie influence. He put them right by saying he'd got it from the song Hitch Hike, but not the Marvin Gaye version, the Rolling Stones version. Around that same time Julian Cope was waxing lyrical about the Stones too. For some reason - their dinosaur status most likely - the Stones were not supposed to be an acceptable indie influence around the mid 80s. It wasn't until the Stone Roses came along that changed as I recall.

And finally: Does anybody have Seven Ways To Love by Cola Boy? I would be most grateful: I can't find my copy of it anywhere!!

***Thanks to the long time lurker I now have a copy again. Which is very nice! Thank you so much*******

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sounds For Sunday Part Two

A little pop quiz for part two:

Three tracks by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas.

Dancing In The Street
In My Lonely Room
Hitch- Hike

Ok, Dancing In The Street inspired which classic rock tune/riff?
In My Lonely Street was ripped off by which Mod icon for one of his excellent b-sides? And name the song...
And finally the Rolling Stones cover of Marvin Gaye's version of Hitch-Hike inspired which 80s Indie anthem?

Sounds For Sunday

A handful of cover versions today of a song that has always irritated me in it's original form. Yesterday by The Beatles. I don't know why it irritates me so, it always has. Even as a child I found it to be cheesy. The fact that we sometimes sang it in school assembly probably didn't help.

That's a little strange looking back: but there were a few teachers that were definite hippies. One of my teachers had a boyfriend who would sometimes come to the school in his Afghan coat and play songs on his guitar. They drove a VW minibus covered in flower transfers. This was when I was about six or seven. We thought they were great.

Anyway here's three versions that make me listen to this song with new ears.

Marvin Gaye - Yesterday
The Bar-Kays - Yesterday
Roosevelt 'Rosey' Grier - Yesterday

The last one is probably my favourite here. And Rosey Grier's story is pretty amazing.

I have Funky16Corners blog to thank for introducing me to this one! Lovely stuff!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Love And Money - Dear John

Back in the mid 80s I was walking around imagining myself some rock n roll poet, like Joe Strummer if he'd written love songs with the conviction he wrote about everything else. My flag was unrequited love, and I carried it high. Strangely though the one song that seemed to make sense of how I felt was Love And Money's Dear John. James Grant had been a member of the should have been huge Friends Again. And with Love And Money it looked for five minutes like that success was in reach. Almost but not quite. Which lends this track a sense of failure which is bittersweet.

It's funny, all the Wellers, Strummers, Ray Davies, Costellos don't get me quite like this one..a contender for my favourite lyric of all time....hey, I was 17....!

"Up it rose like the morning sun
Letting me know the day had begun
My cigarettes my naivety
Never meant so much to me
Out of the blue out of the air
Like the silken fingers through my hair
the night was young the truth was fey
You took my hand and led me astray

Well I never felt like I belonged
For I know this world is the world of the strong
But like the wind it came with gifts of pain
Putting words on the tip of my tongue
When you lose that thread you lose yourself
You know you're always ready to fall
Well I used to wonder but now I know
That the broken hearted are beautiful

In another time in another place
With the will to defy and the power to take
I walk like a man dance like a fool
And I carry a photograph of you
Well remember those days when dreams were dreams
When the music played everybody screamed
Well I used to wonder but now I know
That the broken hearted are beautiful

Dear John I'm in heaven
For so long I could not live with myself
Now only time will tell
but I don't want to be forgiven"

Love And Money - Dear John

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Forest Fire

The opening moments a churchy organ underpinning a visual image of a girl crossing herself as she gets dressed, vague impressions of a wild living thing, a good girl gone bad; reinforced by the second verse which introduces our (anti-)hero. Both consumed by this 'forest fire', driving and living too fast.

"I believe in love, I'll believe in anything
That's gonna get me what I want and get me off my knees"

The rise in tension for the 'doo doo' middle section which only grows for the next section:

"Hey pick you up, put you down
Rip you up and spin you round
Just like we said we would
'cause we're a forest fire
Believe you me, we'll tear this place down"

The way Lloyd's voice almost breaks on the falsetto across "spin you round" breaks my heart.

The drop down into the last verse failing to resolve the tension and Lloyd's final aside to camera "It's just a simple metaphor, It's for a burning love; Don't it make you smile like a forest fire" almost convinces you he's being too clever clever, almost makes you believe he's trying it on to get what he wants, but the tremelo guitar solo brimming over with melodic feedback tells a different story. This guitar gently weeps. The feedback almost sings and the track burns down to the end.

There was lots of talk about Lloyd and Co making a kind of garage soul, somewhere between Lou Reed and Al Green in the press at the time. This track was the closest they came to that. Simply beautiful.

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Forest Fire

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sounds For Sunday: JJ Barnes

JJ Barnes was from Detroit, and released some cracking tunes. At one point he was signed to Motown, but because he sounded a lot like Marvin Gaye they didn't know what to do with him. And yes there similarities to Marvin vocally. But there are, as I said, cracking tunes, including an incredible version of Daytripper that in my opinion outdoes Otis' version by a mile. Listen and enjoy.

(Check out last week's Sunday sounds for a couple more tracks by Mr Barnes too..)

JJ Barnes - Forgive Me
JJ Barnes - Our Love Is In The Pocket
JJ Barnes - Snowflake
JJ Barnes - Call On Me Baby
JJ Barnes - Welcome Back Now That I've Got You Back
JJ Barnes - I Need A Change
JJ Barnes - Sweet Sherry
JJ Barnes - Time Is Love
JJ Barnes - No Ifs, Ands Or Buts
JJ Barnes - Daytripper

Friday, 19 September 2008

Diana Ross: Love Hangover

Simply one of the sexiest grooves ever.

Diana Ross - Love Hangover

Random Play: Spandau Ballet

I came back from my exile in the Welsh Valleys to find lots of blogs about Spandau Ballet, and discarded freebies from the Daily Mail littering the streets. Well not so many.

I always liked Spandau. I grew up in the same part of town, a few of them were ex pupils at my secondary school. And there was something about their sound I liked right the way through until Through The Barricades - which I hated!

I liked the songs, the grooves on some of their earlier tunes, Gary Kemp's guitar playing was pretty good, there were always good backing vocals and the Communication 12" was the first I ever bought. Spandau also provided a soundtrack to teenage romances.

Lyrically there were a few nuggets that still stick in my head - the 'pill on my tongue' line in True, the mildly ridiculous but true line in I'll Fly For You: "I'm just an average boy, You're more than average girl, And when you sing to me the shoo be doos, You sing so well"....Yeah, I know, it's not great but it sums up pretty much how I've felt with every girl since I was 14.

And then there was Instinction's "steal a cake to eat the moon"...what the hell was that all about? Great single though!

Anyway here's that Communication 12" which I still love and listen to now. Have a great Friday!

Spandau Ballet - Communication 12"

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Funky Judge

I've got so much music on the computer that sometimes when I'm listening with all dials set to random a song will come on that I've never heard. And I'll sit there wondering how I'd never listened to it before. This is one of those tunes:

The Funky Judge by Bull & The Matadors. This was a US hit in 1968 but I'd never heard it before. I've now listened to it about twenty times! Give it a listen. Knowing you lot you will enjoy it!

And now I've got to go, Stay In My Corner by The Dells just came on....

Bull & The Matadors - The Funky Judge

Random Play: Stoned Out Of My Mind

The Chi-Lites: I first heard this, like a lot of people around these parts, through The Jam covering it on the b-side to their version of Move On Up that came with Beat Surrender in a double pack. I really like Weller's version, I think it's one of the best covers he has done over the years, a really understated vocal, and the way he sounds on the fade ad-libs is great.

But it's not as good as the original, which just turned up as I sit here in sunny North London. The Chi-Lites version is more bouncy and funky and full of that beautiful falsetto vocal.

......Actually, listening to the two back to back The Jam's version does a pretty damn good job. So I think I'll post both of them!


The Chi-Lites - Stoned Out Of My Mind
The Jam - Stoned Out Of My Mind

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Random Play: The Jam (again)

Sometimes a song you think you know inside and out will come on and take you completely by surprise. It will sound fresh and new and like you've never heard it before.

I was on the bus today and Going Underground, followed by Strange Town and The Gift, came on. All three are tunes I could play in my head for the rest of my life without ever having to hear them again.

Going Underground and Strange Town were surprising in how much Weller fit into three minutes and how natural the flow of the tunes felt considering how many separate components were involved. And The Gift just made me want to jump up and down.

I guess what I'm trying to say is familiarity doesn't always breed contempt!

Going Underground
Strange Town
The Gift

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sounds For Sunday

They don't prepare you for this. I guess my mum's mum was gone by the time she was two; so she didn't know about this. The dark cloud that's just there at the edge of your vision, that occasionally sweeps across and obscures everything. Then it passes and you feel...well normal again.

I was down in the Welsh Valleys for what felt like forever. Without my music. I was even starting to regain the Welsh accent that I'd had as a kid. I felt the need for music as a physical thing. Loud music that I could feel in my bones. The first thing I did after getting home was to turn it up full blast.

The Hideaways - Hideout
Dee & Joe - Who Is It Gonna Be?
JJ Barnes - Baby Please Come Back Home
JJ Barnes - Baby Please Come Back Home (Acappella)
Rose Batise - Come Back In A Hurry
Billy Preston - Billy's Bag

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Saturday Rest

I'm back at home finally, with the traffic and the dirt and the tower blocks. Thanks to everybody who has left comments the past couple of weeks. Was very much appreciated.

So just to get the old ball rolling again here's something a little random: a track by Wendy James from her Costello penned album "Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears". The lovely little Clash inspired tune LONDON'S BRILLIANT!

Wendy James - London's Brilliant

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I Love You

In the midst of all this...sad surreality I find myself on the opposite side of the country to my wife on our 3rd wedding anniversary. My beautiful wife who has been my source of strength for the past few weeks. I couldn't have gotten through these times without her. Every smile I've been able to muster has been because of her.

I love you babe, like nobody's business... ;)

"I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast."

And now for some music: I was going to post Super Furry Animals' Fire In My Heart, to which my wife walked up the aisle to me on our wedding day. But being away from home I don' t have access to it. I do have something that reminds me of the time leading up to the wedding and, especially, our honeymoon. You might not think this is romantic, but honestly it is!

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Thrown Across The Water

It's funny, how certain times make it impossible to listen to certain songs; and how other songs simply jump out at you. Jump out at you with a force that you hadn't noticed before. There are songs that only fit break-ups, others that only fit celebration. Right now my head is all over the place; constant noise inside.

All last week I had none of my music to hand but all I wanted to listen to was loud guitars. This week back at home I'm after strings and mood pieces. So Paddy McAloon's I Trawl The Megahertz (oh such a beautiful record, especially the title track - go and listen if you haven't) has been on rotation. And the first album by The Guillemots found it's way into the random play.

Sao Paolo has turned up in other blogs recently. I liked it, but it didn't speak to me like it is now. Especially the cacophonous strings and piano which sound like the inside of my head. And the second half of the track "thrown across the water like a stone" just says everything to me right now.

That's all.

The Guillemots - Sao Paolo

Friday, 22 August 2008

Temporary Gap In Service

I'm afraid I won't be updating these pages too often for a little while. Unfortunately life has changed forever. My mum has been taken seriously ill and there are more important things to think about than my favourite b-side - however much I love doing that.

I'll still be posting, but I suspect this will be more like a steam valve than anything else.

Take care of yourselves people. And go and give your mums a call for me.


Saturday, 16 August 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Another side to the Mod revival: Two Tone!!

Here's the original versions of tunes that were played by some of the main players The Specials, Madness and The Beat!

Prince Buster - One Step Beyond
Dandy - A Message To You Rudie
Prince Buster - Madness
Toots And The Maytals - Monkey Man
Lloydie & The Lowbites - Birth Control
Prince Buster - Judge Dread (400 Years)
Prince Buster & The All Stars - Al Capone
Prince Buster - Enjoy Yourself
Prince Buster - Rough Rider
Prince Buster - Too Hot
Andy & Joey - You're Wondering Now

Random Play: The Way Out

The Way Out as far as I know only released two singles. Matthew Wiles was the singer/songwriter/guitarist. And as far as I recall his brother was on bass, and Buddy Ascott from The Chords was on drums for this single.

It's a shame they never really released anything else, because they were a great little band, with some great hazy psychedelic new wave pop songs. They remind me now a little of The Icicle Works, with that Rickenbacker power-trio sound. And Matthew was a great guitarist too. Gotta love the screaming feedback over the end of This Working Way!

Any way, Ladies And Gentlemen, this is The Way Out!

This Working Way
Just The Girl

The Direct Hits

The Direct Hits were Geno Buckmaster, guitar and vocals, Colin Swan bass and vocals, and Brian Grover on drums. They were a South London based trio, formerly known as The Exits (who had a single called Fashion Victim). The Direct Hits released a couple of singles and two albums Blow Up and House Of Secrets. And for a couple of years they were quite possibly my favourite band.

Blow Up came out in 1984. It is, like a lot of their material, very 1966 influenced. Groovy pop that leans into the psychedelic. Touchstones would be The Beatles Rubber Soul, The Who A Quick One and The Jam All Mod Cons. There are close harmonies and backwards guitars and in the 8 minute long Henry The Unhappy Inventor a mini rock opera. It's all incredibly melodic and occasionally verges on the twee, but with a sense of melancholy that never fails to move me. Great music for sitting back and daydreaming. And, for all the obvious influences, The Direct Hits were very much their own band, with a very very individual sound. Live they were also one of the loudest bands I've ever seen!

In the summer of 1984 I almost didn't listen to anything else but Blow Up. The second album House Of Secrets featured some great songs, but it lost the magic a little. And then that was that. I'm not sure what they did next. I know Colin Swan, who sang the majority of the songs, turned up a couple of years ago in a band called This Happy Breed. But apart from that nothing else. It almost makes the band perfect for me. No long slow decline into the ordinary; just a little burst of wonderful pop music that still stands up today.

You can find their music out there if you look hard enough. A compilation called The Magic Attic came out on CD in the 90s and looking through the iTunes store the other day I found Blow Up.

Somewhere it's 1966 all year round, the scene is swinging and The Direct Hits are playing....

Ever Ready Plaything
A Place In The 80s
Modesty Blaise
Miranda Berkley
The Old Curiosity Shop
My Back Pages
Henry The Unhappy Inventor
She Really Didn't Care
Christopher Cooper
Last Night I Saw Sunrise

Friday, 15 August 2008

Mod Revival '79

Well you could argue that it hadn't really gone away. Punk itself harked back to the mid 60s in it's sound; it was all very Who and Kinks in sound and attitude. But in the late seventies there was a return to the style of the Mod, albeit in a fairly superficial way.

A number of factors may have led to this: the 60s influences of the punks, the film Quadrophenia, based on The Who's album about a Mod called Jimmy, and the success of The Jam, Paul Weller's Mod styled trio. Whatever it was suddenly the place was awash with Fred Perrys and Parkas. And loads of bands.

I leave you on this beautiful Friday night with a selection of the biggest bands from the Mod Revival era.

Secret Affair - Time For Action
Secret Affair - My World
Secret Affair - Dance Master
The Chords - Maybe Tomorrow
The Chords - Somethings Missing
The Chords - I'll Keep On Holding On
The Lambrettas - Poison Ivy
The Lambrettas - Page 3
The Lambrettas - Runaround
The Purple Hearts - Frustration
The Purple Hearts - Can't Help Thinking About Me
The Purple Hearts - I've Been Away

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Random play: David Bowie: The Mod

David Bowie could be said to be responsible for a lot of the course of music through the 70s and 80s. Obviously there was the whole Glam thing. He along with Roxy Music and Marc Bolan were the figureheads of the whole thing. A few years later a lot of people on the punk scene talk about Bowie being the vital spark that kicked off their lives. And if you listen to Ziggy Stardust and Pin-Ups there's a lot of similarities between the sound he was playing with and some of the punks. And then the Young Americans album pretty much defined the whole sound of the early 80s. Of course a lot of the people from the punk scene were the same people that created the New Romantics thing so there's not a lot of surprises there.

What gets missed sometimes is Bowie's influence on the Mod Revival. In 1973, partly as a way to close the chapter on the Ziggy Stardust period and partly I think to revitalise his creative juices, Bowie released an album of covers. The songs were all songs he loved during the mid 60s. The album opened up a lot of people's eyes to that music, and led a lot of people to go digging into the whole 60s scene, and in particular the Mod scene.

A lot of the Glam musicians had been around for a few years by the time of their success. Bowie, Bolan and Ferry had a musical history that stretched back through the 60s. A very Mod history. It's no wonder that Glam was so centred on image.

Here's a couple of tunes from Bowie's mid 60s output. One is a repost of a classic Mod pop tune and the other is a bonafide Mod anthem, albeit a sad and sorry tale of the darker side of coming to London to get in on the scene.

David Bowie - Can't Help Thinking About Me
David Bowie - The London Boys

*Coincidentally there is a great post about Bowie and his 60s period over at Another Nickel In The Machine. A fine fine blog which everybody should visit! Check the blogroll for link!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Random Play: The Creation - Making Time

One of the original 60s Mod bands. Formed from The Mark Four, The Creation were ferocious. Making Time was their debut single in the summer of 1966 and what a debut it was.

Rolling in on a jagged riff and a very funky backbeat, Making Time was far closer to the spirit of punk ten years later than the Summer Of Love a year later. What was punk anyway, but something of a Mod revival? The Creation's guitarist Eddie Phillips was an excellent guitarist, being the first rock player to use a violin bow, which he does on this to beautifully noisy effect.

"Our music is red with purple flashes" indeed!

The Creation - Making Time

The Times - This Is London

The Times were formed by Ed Ball, ex Television Personality and future Creation Records exec. This Is London came out in 1983 and was one of the first Mod albums I bought. Part Jam and Kinks, part Monty Python, This Is London creates it's own little world. A world where Groovy London stuck around and became twisted.

It's quite twee, but edgy all at the same time. Ed Ball's lyrics are sarcastic and witty, painting a picture of a dirty old town, where hope is losing the fight. There's a lot of Ray Davies here, but it's fed through John Lydon's sneer.

This Is London was one of the first albums I listened to where the lyrics meant more to me than the music, perhaps in preparation for my later obsession with Costello...That's not to say the music is weak. Each track takes something of a different style: This Is London and Goodbye Picadilly are vaguely New Wave in their attack, Big Painting and Goodnight Children Everywhere are more 60s, Stranger Than Fiction is reminiscent of The Who tune The Real Me and Chimes Of Big Ben is ska influenced pop.

"I'm walking in the streets of Battersea in search of happiness
But all I find is misery in this London borough mess
My very best friend deserted me for someone else today
She met a small time insurance broker
And they'll be married by next May"

The Times - This Is London
The Times - Goodbye Piccadilly
The Times - Big Painting
The Times - Goodnight Children Everywhere
The Times - Stranger Than Fiction
The Times - The Chimes Of Big Ben

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Random Play: Purple Hearts

Here are a couple of Purple Hearts rarities.

First up is Just To Please You, which was a b-side of a 1981 (I think) single called My Life's A Jigsaw. I had this track on a compilation called Uppers On The South Downs. It's a cracking little 6ts garage punk number, like early Animals jamming around the bassline from Pretty Woman.

The second track is a very different side to the Purple Hearts, a gorgeous little acoustic ballad called I'll Make You Mine. Originally this was on a compilation put together by Eddie Pillar the founder of the Acid Jazz label, and a prime mover on the 80s mod scene. The compilation was called The Beat Generation And The Angry Young Men and had some corking tunes on it. This was my favourite, due to it's lovely little atmosphere. It's available now on a compilation of Purple Hearts rarities called Smashing Time.

I'll be featuring some more Purple Hearts later on.

Purple Hearts - Just To Please You
Purple Hearts - I'll Make You Mine

Adrian Holder - The Man Of The Moment

Adrian Holder, ex-frontman of Mod Gods The Moment is poised to release a new album.

In the meantime get yourselves over to his Myspace page and check him out.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Random Play: The Scene

The Scene formed out of the ashes of '79 band 007. Unashamedly retro and very well dressed, they performed very speedy little 60s styled groovers, just as if they were some forgotten band from 65/66 that point where things were getting druggier, and darker.

"Something That You Said" came out in 1984. It's a great little single, all ragged Rickenbacker riffs and 'ba-ba-ba' vocal lines. It's kind of reminiscent of The Teardrop Explodes if they'd done less acid. It starts off running and doesn't stop until the last burst of feedback at the end. "Stop-Go" was the b-side, and supposedly live. Listening to it now I'm not so sure it was actually live - there's some crowd sounds at the start and end, and it's a lot less slick than the a-side, but I suspect it was recorded live in the studio...It reminds me a little of early Smiths, but that's mostly to do with the guitar work. All those jangly Rickenbackers.

"Still my head goes around and round, I feel I'm in the wrong part of town, but you know something that I need, now I've got such a taste for speed..."

The Scene - Something That You Said
The Scene - Stop-Go

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Moment

When I got into the whole Mod thing it had gone underground following it's fashion revival in the late 70s. There were still Mods around, but in London at least they were few and far between.

I first started dressing as a Mod around this time in 1983. I was quite loose about it at first, the odd Fred Perry, Harrington jacket. Then as I got a bit older I bought suits and things. I never owned a parka. I went to gigs. There were a few of us floating around who had the 'habit' so to speak and we would congregate. Eventually the others grew out of it, and finally so did I about 1986/87.

Mostly it was a way of expressing on the outside what I felt I was on the inside. And what I felt on the inside was the music. A whole great universe of music that was mine. That I was discovering for myself, not hearing about on the radio or in the music press or from older relatives. For a few years you had to dig to find this music. And dig I did.

Now I listen to some of that music and it's fun to hear, and the nostalgia levels are high. But some of it simply isn't as good as I thought it was. However, some things have become constants in my music collection and have never lost their favour with me.

The Moment were Adrian Holder (guitar/vocals), Rob Moore (bass/vocals),
and Anthony Lambdon (drums). For their first single In This Town Rob took lead vocals, but Adrian took over vocal duties fairly quickly. He was also the main songwriter. I first read an interview with them in a fanzine called Shadows And Reflections by Chris Hunt (who since became a very successful journalist and writer). The article described them as starting out as a sort of Mod Revival era type band like The Chords, only moving on from that and producing a very modern Mod sound. And that they did, probably because they took influence from music outside of the normally narrow Mod scene. I was intrigued and when their first single came out I searched it out.

I loved the a-side In This Town, which did sound very Chords/Jam. But better still was the Adrian Holder sung b-side Just Once which sounded like a thunder storm brewing. Then the second single One,Two, They Fly came out later that year and I fell in love. Big bright jagged guitars, brass and huge amounts of energy as Adrian and Rob duetted over beautifully melancholy chords.

And it sounded new. There were sixties and punk influences but they didn't control things. And then their only album came out The Work Gets Done. The Moment had developed. Guitars were bigger and more edgy (even Edge-y, in places the guitars verge on the stadium.), melodies were more powerful and even more melancholy. And Adrian's vocals were huge and powerful and emotive.

Added to this was the brass which appeared on several tracks. By this point The Moment were nearer to being a five piece as live they were regularly backed by a brass section (one of whom Steve Rinaldi has become a performer in his own right as Rinaldi Sings). And they were so powerful, strident and driving one minute, soft and tender the next. They sat next to my Jam and Dexys albums perfectly.

(They also provided a huge part of the soundtrack to events mentioned earlier this week in the Yeh-Yeh posting, which I bought on the same day as The Moment album....)

There is a compilation available if you search called Mod Gods that features everything they released, and if you like these tracks then there are others just as good on there.

Just Once

The b-side to The Moment's first single In This Town, Just Once reminds me of a thunder storm brewing, all tension that never quite resolves. It's all chop and staccato,

"What have I got to show that you were mine?"

One, Two They Fly

The second single with that great opening guitar riff, layered edgy Rickenbackers and acoustics, the melancholy brass, the stop start rhythms, and the joyful "whoo" before the jagged searing guitar solo. Then the stuttering vocal breakdown afterwards that recalls Daltrey's frustration on My Generation.

"I wait in the dark, to stay and wait for luck"

Flag To Fight Behind

This is almost post punk with it's throbbing bass and moody atmospherics. Again there's that sense of tension that almost never releases, and more of those stop start rhythms.

"The songs you sang for us, now nothing else can make us rush to change our ways"

The Tailor Made

This apparently started out life as a Small Faces influenced tune, but it's almost Goth Mod, verging on the psychedelic, (much like The Stone Roses who were apparently huge fans of The Moment, but more on that soon). I love the moody vocal and the almost ballad feel to this. The lyrics are very obscure but full of meaning and I still find the whole thing really inspiring. My favourite part is the very Dexys staccato breakdown after the middle section.

"And I was only running from you"

Sticks And Stones

This features a huge pulsing bass line and some great brass. And one of my favourite vocal exclamations ever in the 'Hah!' that follows the guitar breakdown.

"Five, Six, We're made of sticks to burn us down"

In Front Of Men

Like The Tailor Made this supposedly started off as a Small Faces influenced track and you can hear it in the arpeggios that open the track. But then it heads into that Goth-Mod style that I mentioned earlier. There's some very U2 style guitar chops and a breakdown that manages to remind me of Siouxsie & The Banshees for some reason.

"So she cries out loud once more, it's only hate that made us poor"

The Work Gets Done

A beautiful melody, small P political, heading into full on Redskins territory in the second verse. And then the trumpets that fly over the end of the track, such gorgeous gorgeous trumpets.

"We're never gonna cry these tears again"

Poor Mr Diamond

This was the b-side to their final single from 87-88. Remember mention of The Stone Roses earlier? The Roses started out as a Mod influenced band called The English Roses, went through a vaguely Gothic period, with bandannas and floaty shirts then became The Stone Roses that we all know. But listen to this track. Floaty psychedelic pop leading into a full on funk workout that goes on for about ten minutes. Sound like anything The Roses did a couple of years later? While it's nothing new - after all Hendrix was doing the same back in the 60s - it was enough for members of The Moment to comment on a few years later in the sleevenotes to Mod Gods.

"Poor Mister Diamond - Shine...."

If I had to give away my music there are some I would fight tooth and claw to keep. The Moment are one of the few.

Random Play: The Lambrettas

More Mod music from my iTunes random.

The Lambrettas and Da-A-Ance. The Lambrettas were one of the Mod revival bands that came out during 1979/80 after the success of The Jam and the return of the Mod fashion. They were always talked about with a bit of a sneer amongst people I knew, as if they were a little bit plastic. But this track is a perfectly fine piece of power pop as far as I'm concerned.

I love the rhythmic changes, the way it rushes along underneath parts of it then stop starts under others. I love the chords, the melancholy feel and the innocence of it. It reminds me of being 16.

To be honest I think The Lambrettas music stands up a lot better than some of the other Mod Revival bands. There's a lot less of The Jam influencing their stuff and it's dated rather better because of that. In my humble opinion.

The Lambrettas - Da-A-Ance

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Random Play: Yeh-Yeh - You Will Pay

This song is one of a bundle of songs that remind me of my first heart break.
Mixed in with that are snowbound February, rainy March, rainy April, rainy May and the smell of wet paving stones and Benson & Hedges along Old Street. A girl who changed her name four times.

"You Will Pay" by Yeh-Yeh was released in early 1986. Yeh-Yeh were a mod band from Lancashire I think, but I'm not sure. I think this was the only record they released. If you like The Jam and Motown then you'll probably like this brassy power pop tune.

"Now I suppose that it's all over, Well I feel sorry for the next poor boy that you choose I have done my course, Now it's somebody elses turn"

Yeh Yeh - You Will Pay

*Following contact from Andy From Yeh-Yeh, here's somewhere for you to go to see what they're doing now:

Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby?

Davy at The Ghost Of Electricity has just posted a great tune by The Crystals called Uptown. Coincidentally I've had a bunch of girl group tunes lined up. They are all lesser known tunes, mostly from the later end of the 60s when the earlier girl groups had been pushed aside by the new 'soul' groups. One of which is The Crystals.

Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby might be more familiar to some as a tune by Candy And The Kisses. Their version is great, but a lot softer and less dynamic. The Crystals version is bigger and beefier and brassier, verging on the funky in places. It's a huge huge sounding record, all strings and percussion and fantastic brass and massive vocals. And now Davy's reminded me of it I had to share it - hey the girl group posting can wait!

The Crystals - Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Random Play - Hall & Oates

We never owned a record player when I was a kid. We got our first one when I was about 12. So up until that point all the music I knew came from either Top Of The Pops or the radio, or from cassettes when the cassette player worked.

Cassettes in the house were either sixties soul, Elvis or country. And a Beach Boys compilation that I obsessed over.

My prized possession was a radio. I'm not sure if it was the one in the picture. I definitely know it was a brown Grundig, and bought for me in about 1975 or 1976. I listened religiously to the chart rundowns, the breakfast show before going to school and Capital Radio in the night when I was supposed to be asleep. Capital Radio for those not from London is still going strong and is a London based station (the clue is in the name...). Their staple sounds on the late night shows were soul or soul influenced tunes and Bruce Springsteen. And when I hear a lot of Seventies soul tunes or Born To Run I just get this huge wave of nostalgia for my old radio.

Hall And Oates were huge Capital Radio favourites too, especially a song like She's Gone, with it's big Philly sounding choruses and moody 'hot in the city' feel to the verses. It would probably have come up as a request tune for some bloke called Gary from Holloway missing his girl Sharon who he'd just split up with. And the DJ all smooth and deep voiced would have said something like "It'll get better mate, meanwhile Sharon, he's missing you love something rotten. This one is for you from Gary. Hall And Oates and She's Gone..."

Seemed like some strange other universe to a seven year old.

Hall And Oates - She's Gone

Random Play - The Stranglers

"Making love to the Mersey Tunnel
With a sausage, have you ever been to Liverpool?"

The Stranglers - London Lady

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Feeling a little bit jazzy today.

First up is the wonderful Gil Scott-Heron with "Lady Day & John Coltrane" beginning things in a not so typical up-tempo style. But then just for Sunday we'll slow things down with Jimmy McGriff's Blue Juice, nice and funky. And to close the beautiful and summery Cease The Bombing by Grant Green, protest music with style from one of the best guitarists ever.

Ever feel kinda down and out, you don't know just what to do?
Livin' all of days in darkness, let the sun shine through
Ever feel that somehow, somewhere you lost your way?

And if you don't get help quick you won't make it through the day?

Could you call on Lady Day?
Could you call on John Coltrane?
Now 'cause they'll wash your troubles, your troubles away

Plastic people with plastic minds on their way to plastic homes

There's no beginning, there ain't no ending

Just on and on and on and on and...
It's all because we're so afraid to say that we're alone
Until our hero rides in, rides in on his saxophone

Could you call on Lady Day?
Could you call on John Coltrane?
They'll wash your troubles, your troubles away

Gil Scott-Heron - Lady Day And John Coltrane
Jimmy McGriff - Blue Juice
Grant Green - Cease The Bombing

Friday, 1 August 2008

Random Play: Xanadu

Well, the shuffle on my iTunes seems to be hitting the summer of 1980 at the moment. Xanadu by Olivia Newton John and the Electric Light Orchestra.

I love this, big shiny pop music. Makes me think of hanging out with my old school friends for one last summer before we all went off to our secondary schools. The last summer before everything changed.

Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton John - Xanadu

Random play: The Jam

People ask: you grew up in London? What was that like? And I'll always answer: Quiet. That's right; I grew up almost right in the centre of London, five minutes walk from The City Of London to the south, fifteen minutes walk from The West End, to the...West.

And it was a quiet part of town where I grew up; after five o' clock in the week and all weekend the surrounding parts of the city emptied; the workers went home and all that was left was the locals. These days the area I grew up in is a busy part of town, plenty of pubs and clubs and nightlife. But then we had to go elsewhere for entertainment.

What people forget or don't know, especially if they're not from here, is that London may be a city but it's a mess of small towns. And those small towns are just like small towns anywhere.

But London these days is getting more and more like one city. We're overflowing with people and the city really doesn't sleep anymore. And the more it becomes like that the less space and peace you get. I used to be able to wake up before everyone else did and go for long walks down empty streets. I can't remember the last time I was the only person on a street. It starts to close in on you after a while. Sometimes you just want to get away.

The Jam - The Place I Love

Random play: theaudience

Random Friday; theaudience and their tune A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed, one of those Britpop hits (number 27 apparently!) that would probably be forgotten were it not for the fact that it featured a much younger Sophie Ellis-Bextor doing her best Sandie Shaw impression. Infact the whole thing sounds a lot like Sandie backed by The Smiths. Rather nice!

theaudience - A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Stax Live

BBC Four showed a Stax concert recorded in Norway in 1967. It was absolutely superb. YouTube as ever comes to the rescue. These are cut in some odd places, halfway through songs, but it has to be watched. Check out Steve Cropper's face during the first Otis number. Sheer joy!

Part 1


Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Monday, 28 July 2008

Forgotten 80s

One of the best thing about the mp3 blog world is how many tunes turn up that would just be forgotten. All those records that people had that were simply never hits. And I'm not talking about wilfully obscure indie bands either, but those artists releasing records on big labels, getting lots of radio play back in the day. And then disappearing without a trace. I always think it's a crime that some of the records I loved, that formed a major soundtrack to my life were never really heard by anybody else.

Of course sometimes there's a reason for that. Going back and listening to songs years after the fact leaves you with the impression that you had really bad taste.

Hopefully not with these two anyway...

First up is quite possibly the worst band name ever - Bonk. Bonk was a gent called Barry Flynn, who also released material under the name 'The Chant Of Barry Flynn'. "The Smile And The Kiss" was a single 82/83. It's a nice piece of typical 80s pop, landing somewhere between The Human League and Motown. It was all over the radio at the time, but probably stalled somewhere around number 67. It must have made it into the Top 75 because my local record shop would only order songs that did.

It's place in history was slightly secured by one fact though: the brilliant female backing vocals that made me go a little weak at the knees at the time were by one Toni Halliday, later of Curve, who was also on the cover of the single.

Bonk - The Smile And The Kiss

Second up today is a single I was given. The band are called Still Life and the song is called Away From This Town. Again this got a lot of airplay and the band supported Culture Club on tour and that's about all I know. I got this in a bundle of 7" singles I got when I visited Capital Radio after winning a contest in October 1982. I wrote the last chapter to a story and my prize was to read it out on air. It was all pretty exciting, and strangely dull all at once, being at a radio station. For starters, most of the rooms were no bigger than cupboards, with lots of equipment in them. I did get to meet Mick Brown the DJ, later of Pat and Mick infamy. See, exciting AND dull. All at once!

I got home with this pretty large bundle of 7"s, which later on I realised were just unwanted promos. And most of them were pretty crap to be honest. This one though just stood out, and for me, like the Bonk tune, I can't really work out why it wasn't a hit. After I heard it I played it to people and off they went and bought it themselves. Obviously I didn't play it to enough people!

Jon Newby, the singer from Still Life has a Myspace page with a nice acoustic version of this:

Still Life - Away From This Town

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I wanna dance now.

Parliament - One Nation Under A Groove

Monday, 21 July 2008

Tapper Zukie/Horace Andy

I had one of those moments today, walking through North London, the sun was out and the perfect tune came on the iPod.

Rub A Dub A Weh Them Want by Tapper Zukie, a glorious slice of dub, with beautiful horns and a gorgeous bassline, in perfect timing with the sunshine on Seven Sisters Road. And here as well is the original tune produced by Tapper and sung by the wonderful Horace Andy, Natty Dread A Weh She Wants.

I can't think of a more perfect sound for Summer.

Rub A Dub A Weh Them Want - Tapper Zukie
Natty Dread A Weh She Want - Horace Andy

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sounds For Sunday

There are some songs that you feel you know inside out. They are the definitive version. Dionne Warwick's version of the Bacharach And David classic 'Walk On By' is one of those tunes. Or it was until I heard another version.

Isaac Hayes had been one half of a successful songwriting team for Stax with David Porter, writing songs such as Soul Man and Hold On I'm Coming for Sam And Dave. In 1967 he'd released his first album 'Presenting Isaac Hayes' which pretty much flopped. A return to writing and producing was on the cards. Then following the death of it's major star Otis Redding and the sale of it's back catalogue to Atlantic Records, Stax needed records and fast. Isaac Hayes was one of the people asked to produce an album. Having seen his first album flop Hayes wanted complete control over his next album or he wouldn't do it.

Hot Buttered Soul was the result. And it opened with a 12 minute version of 'Walk On By' which is a monster orchestral funk jam of completely epic proportions. If you feel the song is overly familiar to you then listen to this. It completely tears up the blueprint and turns it into something else entirely.

I must have heard this song a million times, hey I've heard Isaac's version countless times too. But it still surprises me.

Remember: turn it up!

Isaac Hayes - Walk On By