Saturday, 31 May 2008

New Stuff....

I've a tune for you by Black Kids, new(ish) American alternative band of the moment. This is their last single I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You, which comes off their forthcoming album Partie Traumatic, with producer Bernard Butler. Fans of The Cure might find a lot to like about this. Vocally and melodically it's very Robert Smith, when he was going through his 'pop' phase in the mid 80s; it has the same sense of melancholy yearning from songs like Just Like Heaven and Caterpillar Girl, which is my absolutely favourite era of The Cure.

Also included today is a version of the same song by Kate Nash, who they've toured with, from a radio session. I'm unapologetic about my admiration for Ms Nash, and I think her version is pretty damn good.

Anyway listen and enjoy...

Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
Kate Nash - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

Friday, 30 May 2008

Rude Boy!!!

It's all gone a bit Two Tone around here tonight! So get on your shades and your pork pie hat and join me in a skank around the front room!

The Specials - Stupid Marriage
The Beat - Too Nice To Talk To
Madness - My Girl

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Otherwise known as Sounds For Getting Past The Middle Of The Week After A Dreary Bank Holiday...

I don't know about anybody else but I tend to get obsessed with a single tune at a time, especially lately. I've kind of reverted back to my teens, when I would play the same song over and over again until the rest of the family knew it as well as I did. And were sick to death of the sound of it!

This week I've been listening to a tune by Ken Boothe. (It's The Way) Nature Planned It pts 1 & 2. It's a version of a song originally cut by The Four Tops in the early 70s. Ken first recorded it on his album Let's Get It On in 1974.

Ken is one of the great reggae vocalists. History hasn't been as kind to him as some other singers however. Mostly because for a while he was known as the 'ladies' favourite'. Being too smooth for the boys meant that a lot of people viewed him at the time as being less authentic, less 'real'. It's bollocks really, because he is simply an amazing vocalist; it wouldn't be ridiculous to describe him vocally as the reggae Marvin Gaye. And he was a sharp looking guy. Check out the picture above....

The version of the tune I'm obsessing over isn't the original recording from 1974 however. In the late 80s, following Boy George's version of Everything I Own (which Ken recorded in the early 70s), a compilation of re-recorded versions came out. This version comes from that. It is a bit 80s around the edges, especially in the brass, which would appear to be 80s synth brass in places, although that might just be the production..But the vocals are amazing, absolutely amazing. I did toy with posting the original, complete with turntable hum and slightly at the wrong speed, but thought better of it, because I do think this is better, brass be damned!


Ken Boothe - (It's The Way) Nature Planned It pts 1 &2

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Weller's 50 today. Happy Birthday!

Here's some tunes you might know....

(The connection, for those of you who don't know, is that Weller has performed versions of these in the past. Meeting Over Yonder was a regular in The Style Council's set around 1984. Move On Up was released with Beat Surrender, The Jam's last single back in 1982, and was, again, a regular Style Council live number. Heatwave was on The Jam's Setting Sons album in 1979; Big Bird was on the Dig The New Breed live album in 1982 and Back In My Arms Again was on the b-side to The Modern World single all the way back in 1977.....
Here's also three versions of War: Edwin Starr's classic, a version by The Temptations and a reggae version by A Darker Shade Of Black, which achieved the impossible for me by making this song seem new. It takes it's cues from the Temps version, especially the 'hup 2,3,4 backing vocals. But I think I like it better!)

Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - (Love Is Like A) Heatwave
The Impressions - Meeting Over Yonder
Eddie Floyd - Big Bird
Diana Ross & The Supremes - Back In My Arms Again
Edwin Starr - War
The Temptations - War
A Darker Shade Of Black - War


Weller's FIFTY on Sunday.....Sounds For Sunday may just have a Weller connection. In the meantime here's the title track from his latest album 22 Dreams. I'm loving this track!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Sounds For Sunday

I'm doing some joining of the dots this week. Years ago I had a tape of songs I'd recorded from the radio. I'd been listening to some chart show playing hits from a particular year. This year had been 1965. So there was some Rolling Stones, some Who, some Small Faces. And Manfred Mann doing 'Oh No Not My Baby' the Goffin/King classic. I was about 13 at this point and still in the dark about music from before 1980. But I was learning. I loved that song. The Manfred Mann version is a pretty good poppy blue eyed soul performance.

But then a few years later I heard the original on Pete Young's soul show on Capital Radio. Maxine Brown. A fantastic vocalist, with plenty of classics currently sitting under the term 'Northern Soul'. But this one is my favourite. It's got an innocence to it, an almost 50s sort of lyric. But, drawing the dots...I hadn't heard anything yet. A few years later Aretha Franklin performed it. I didn't hear that version until about ten years ago.....Wow. A big summery funky groove, with great brass. And typically Aretha performs the ass out of the song. It's back in my life and currently firmly fixed into every playlist I'm making right now. I can't get enough of it.

And while listening to Aretha this week, her version of Nina Simone's Young Gifted And Black came up. So I followed the song to Bob And Marcia's classic pop reggae version. You almost can't tell that they're the same song. Aretha's version is a slow builder, all gospel moves that takes it's time over the melody until it hits the groove it fades out on. Bob And Marcia's version is tighter on the melody and seems to take it's cues from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's Onion Song. It's a much better song than that one though. (I hate The Onion Song. It's one of those songs that just...irritates....)

The final joining of the dots took me from that to Bob Andy on his own and his song You Don't Know. What a fantastic tune. A fantastic lyric, almost Dylanesque, especially in it's rhythm and wordplay. In fact the whole tune sounds like an imaginary collaboration between Dylan and Smokey Robinson on holiday in Jamaica. It's simply gorgeous, and along with Aretha's 'Oh No Not My Baby' taking up my time on the iTunes.

Listen and enjoy.

Maxine Brown - Oh No Not My Baby
Aretha Franklin - Oh No Not My Baby
Aretha Franklin - Young Gifted And Black
Bob And Marcia - Young Gifted And Black
Bob Andy - You Don't Know

Easy Like Saturday Morning

Ok, it's all gone a bit Jason King around here this morning. So bear with me while I give you some funky grooves and big organs. I'm Aquarius, what's your sign baby?

The Mohawks - The Champ
Brigitte Bardot - Contact
R Castiglione & H Tical - SOS
A Hawkshaw/B Bennett - Daytripper
Ethel Smith - Downtown

Friday, 16 May 2008


Gets me every time....

Recommended listening......

OK, I'm a bit behind on posting this week. Normal service will be resumed soon! But in the meantime get yourself over to Fire Escape Talking blog and give the tune you'll find there a listen. What a tune! Lovely stuff...

Click your way through here to see what I mean.....

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne are one of my favourite bands of all time. Ever since their versions of Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart and The Field Mice's Kiss And Make Up I've been madly in love with their mix of melancholy nostalgia and dance sensibilities. And amazing summery pop music.

And like a lot of my favourite artists their magpie touch is very strong.

Sounds On Sunday this week featured four tunes whose connection isn't simply that they're great tunes. They're also connected to Saint Etienne by way of that magpie touch.

First up was The Four Tops In A Different World which was sampled by Saint Etienne for a track on their first album Foxbase Alpha:

Saint Etienne - She's The One

Next was The Temptations' I Wish It Would Rain. Back on their album So Tough, Saint Etienne 'borrowed' the piano riff and sparkled some glitter on it and turned it into the violin in the chorus of this:

Saint Etienne - Mario's Cafe

The Shirelles' Don't Go Home (My Little Darling) only came into my life this week. It's a marvelous little tune, and knowing Saint Etienne's love of Sixties girl groups I shouldn't have been surprised by the 'influence' on this:

Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way

And finally Justine 'Baby' Washington's version of I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face. There are also fantastic versions of this by Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield. The flute and trumpet intro from the Dusty Version by way of the sampler found it's way onto this:

Saint Etienne - Nothing Can Stop Us

The thing is, I love it. I get 8 songs out of this that I absolutely love! And all of them sound amazing in the sunshine. Amazing!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Sounds For Sunday

Sounds For Sunday is early this week. Too much sunshine to get out into, family and friends to see.

I've got four little gems today. And this time, while there's a theme I'm not going to tell you what it is. Yup, pop quiz time! No prizes for guessing correctly, just the pride in being as much of a music geek as me.

What's the connection between these tunes?

The Four Tops - I'm In A Different World
The Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain
The Shirelles - Don't Go Home (My Little Darling)
Baby Washington - I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face

I'll look in at the end of the weekend after my frolics in the sun and post the answer in the comments. :)


I'm in a bright and shiny pop mood tonight. So here's some of the biggest brightest shiny pop I know:

The Human League - Love Action
Dollar - Hand Held In Black And White
Kim Wilde - Chequered Love
The Associates - 18 Carat Love Affair
Altered Images - I Could Be Happy

A little shout out to my good friend in Norway. Hope these put a smile on your face. Be well mate!

Thursday, 8 May 2008


Meanwhile, in the real world, one of my best friends and her husband have become the proud parents of a baby daughter. Which of course is amazing news.

Krissy, as she will be known in this posting, is one of my absolute best friends. When my wife and I got engaged I knew pretty much immediately that Krissy was the only choice for my 'best man', despite being very much a woman. After all, there aren't many friends in a life who you can say without hesitation or exaggeration have saved your life.

Back in the mid to late 1990s I was in a band with a guy called, for the sake of posting, Lucas. He'd answered an ad for a guitarist for the band I was in at the time. We met up, hit it off and for the next year made some loud noises across London's venues. One of the people that would come to every gig was an old friend of his called Krissy. Krissy was a classical singer, working with choirs across the country. But when the band Lucas and me were in dissolved and we began to put another one together we invited Krissy to sing for us.

We met up at the Bull And Gate in Kentish Town for drinks and there in the bar Krissy auditioned for us by singing Minnie Ripperton's Lovin' You a cappella. How could I say no? The band we formed were called Slinky and for the next five or six years Slinky played across the capital at every venue that would have us. We hassled every record company that would listen and for a while it felt like we were bound for glory. But as happens more often than not the wind changed and the band came to an end.

When the band first started I was involved in a relationship that was pretty unhealthy for me. Unhappiness makes for prolific writing they say. I was writing at least a song a day at one point. Most people I knew when questioned later said they knew I wasn't happy with my life. But nobody said a word. Except Krissy. One night after a gig we were sat in a bar drinking and she prodded and she poked and asked why I was living a life that made me unhappy. It might not sound like much but that one question and the response it forced from me were what saved my life. I wrote a post a while back detailing the life I was living and the choices I made to take me to my much happier life. None of that would have happened if Krissy hadn't made me be honest with myself about what I really wanted for me.

Krissy's own life wasn't what she wanted for herself either around this time. She'd seen in me what was going on within herself. It's how a lot of friendships begin. Her life was saved and changed for the better when she met her future husband Mr. C around the same time the band was coming to an end. She moved from West London where we were both living to North London and I followed, where I met my wife. Both myself and Krissy had our weddings within a year of each other. Krissy was my 'best man' and looked great in a suit. And it was some of the best news ever when her and Mr. C announced that that they were to become parents.

And now their new arrival is here! Congratulations to you both guys and welcome to the little one!

To celebrate I'm breaking a little unspoken rule of mine. I said to myself when I started this blog that I wouldn't post my own stuff. I'm not sure why. But our old group Slinky are nowhere to be found online. It's scary how many bands that must have existed, even amongst the signed bands, and of whom there's no trace.

So here's a couple of tracks by Slinky. There are other songs that I was listening to around that time, but it seems suitable to use our own tunes as our soundtrack. I can't promise I won't do the same again at some point in the future!

Slinky - Slinky
Slinky - Broken
Slinky - Free-Falling
Slinky - Just The Girl

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Mod In The Summertime

Here's Makin' Time, mod band from 1985 with one of their nearly hits Here Is My Number. Look out for the bass player, one Martin Blunt who went on to form The Charlatans.

This tune just smells of summertime to me. :)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Tuesday Sunshine

A nice sunny day in London can make anything seem better. Even Boris.

So, as I turn into a combination of Sid James and Swiss Toni, here's Charlie Higson in the days before comedy.

The Higsons - Music To Watch Girls Go By

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Sounds For Sunday

My wife and I paid a visit to the Cans Festival down at Waterloo. Described by the organisers as a 'street party of stencil art'. It made the news due to the involvement of Banksy, the stencil artist whose works are now a familiar part of the London experience.

Stencil art developed as an extension of, and heavily influenced by the graffiti art of the Hip Hop world. Lately money has gotten involved. This 'street party' involved a whole street running under the railway at Waterloo Station being taken over and stencil/graffiti artists from around the world spraying works all along it's length. Really, instead of a street party, it was the transformation of a street into a gallery space. And, while a lot of the work was amazing, taken out of context(that is being illegal, subversive and a part of the everyday environment) and placed side by side it lost a lot of it's impact.

I felt a bit cheated to see something like this become 'acceptable'. Once something subversive gets eaten by the mainstream it's like those circus lions, de-fanged and de-clawed, sedated and harmless.

Never mind. If art lets you down there's only one thing left to do, and that's dance.

Here's some Archie Bell And The Drells to take you through the rest of the bank holiday weekend....
Archie Bell & The Drells - Here I Go Again
Archie Bell & The Drells - Tighten Up
Archie Bell & The Drells - A Thousand Wonders

*The links were down. They should be alright now.....

Saturday, 3 May 2008


I was going to post Boris The Spider by The Who this evening. But I'm going to pretend Friday's results didn't happen.

Instead here's a radio session version of The Small Faces performing Tim Hardin's If I Was A Carpenter. Absolutely cracking and guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

Remember though, if you're from London and you voted Boris..go away...Hey I'm being know what I'm really saying.....

And if you didn't vote but you didn't want Boris....what the hell were you thinking?

Anyway.....Stevie Marriot and the boys......

The Small Faces - If I Was A Carpenter

Thursday, 1 May 2008

London Blues

The Smiths. Hmmm. I don't always get them. I love Johnny Marr's guitars. Morrisey's vocals and lyrics are great. Some songs are amazing. But I've never been what you would call a fan. I'm not sure what it is. All the ingredients are there: after all, it's not that far from Weller at his peak in The Jam and The Style Council to prime Smiths is it? I've known plenty of people who love The Smiths with a passion. There are countless bloggers who have praised them to the stars and back. So apologies for outing myself as somebody who isn't a fan.

I did like them initially. I bought What Difference Does It Make. And yes it had the original Terence Stamp sleeve. I've got one of the many best of compilations. I've listened to the proper albums inside out thanks to those people I knew I loved them.

But under the skin? No.

However there is a song and performance that I adore. It stands as one of my all time favourite recordings. And on a night when I might be seeing a Tory in charge of London a piece of beautiful melancholy by Morrisey/Marr seems kind of fitting.

Sandie Shaw - I Don't Owe You Anything

This was the b-side of her version of Hand In Glove. And, yes if you don't know this, that's The Smiths backing her. Man alive, Sandie sounds amazing on this. It really does make it sound like it's come from the soundtrack to some kitchen sink drama. I can almost see the foggy cobbled streets and dingy little flats. Cups of tea and toast. Winklepicker shoes and panda make up.

And the yearning: it's almost an instrument of it's own amidst the jangle.


And as something of a bonus here's her version of Jeane from the 12" of the Hand In Glove Single, plus her versions of a couple of 60s classics taken from her 1969 album Reviewing The Situation which Sandie produced herself. Told you I was into cover versions at the moment....My favourite here is the version of Sympathy For The Devil. How fast does that get? I dare you to try and dance to it!

Sandie Shaw - Jeane
Sandie Shaw - Lay Lady Lay
Sandie Shaw - Sympathy For The Devil