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Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Some blog tennis with those lovely people Ally and Davy.
I love those Small Faces guys. Steve Marriot is one of my favourite singers ever, and I just love the sound, that crunchy guitar, the solid but swinging rhythm section, and the Hammond organ. And most of all some of my favourite songs from the 60s. All that fuss over the Beatles or The Stones. I love them, but for me Townshend, Davies and Marriot/Lane are the Top Trumps. I wish somebody would work some of that remaster magic on the Small Faces catalogue.
A couple of useless facts. Steve Marriot was born five years later but shared the same birthday as my dear old mum. Who lived next door to the Small Faces in Pimlico. Where I was conceived.
Probably a little too much information eh?
Get Yourself Together
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Well August came and went. And with it came a fairly big house move; one that took me somewhere else. I've been offline for nearly three weeks as well, thanks to the joys of getting anything done without a computer.
I've missed you lot!
The move has left me with a journey that is, shall we say, longer than it was previously. Long enough to catch up on books I've had sitting there and to listen to albums in their entirety instead of twenty minute snatches here and there. I'm still trying to work out where I am in the world, and not quite feeling at home yet. But it's good. I've watched the sun rise over fields this week, which is a damn sight better than the early morning faces on the tube I have to say.
All is well.
However, I've still not unpacked my precious back up drive which has my music on it so there's no tuneage for you today. Just a little hello as we get some unexpected September sunshine.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Saturday, 1 August 2009
I've been looking around myself this past year. So many things have changed as I turned 40, before and after. I'm not looking at the same landscape I was last summer. New arrivals, big changes at work, at home. Friends have left town or are leaving. Other friends are leaving each other.
This week my old primary school burnt down. A huge chunk of my life gone. Probably the last marker of my childhood gone. My old part of town has been knocked down and built up so many times. You don't expect bricks and mortar and concrete and glass to be so transient.
Anyway I'm sitting here, watching Field Of Dreams, a beautiful film about the past and putting things right, coming to terms with who we are and what we have done. And I'm reminiscing and getting a little blurry.
Lets see, what was there going on back then? What do I think of when I was at Primary School? The summer of 76, too hot to sit out in the playground, everyone sticking to the shade, water from the taps being too hot to drink.
J, (like a Lloyd Cole song most of the important women through the ages have been inital J...)who was in the same class as me throughout. Looking back over old photos she was a pretty little thing but she grew up to look like her mother. Who looked like a potato.
D, my best friend at primary school, whose surname was the same as the first name of my best friend at secondary school. One day I went to knock for him and the flat was empty. He had moved and hadn't told me it was happening.
Monkey, with one of the best theme tunes ever, the talk of the playground the monday after.
Another D, the school nutter, from a family of nutters. Who for some reason always liked me so I never felt the terror of his presence like some people did. He looked like Paul Weller, which put me off The Jam for a long while. He ended up in prison and came out a preacher.
O, who had a huge crush on me and whose brother was in one of the Guy Ritchie movies years later.
The Dump, the site of a demolished Victorian tenement, where my little gang congregated on weekends, having wars and reading our treasure trove, a stack of porn that somebody had stolen from a nearby newsagent and thrown over the corrugated iron fence of the Dump to pick up later. A stack that we arrived one Sunday morning to find burning.
And Star Wars. Batman (parka hood up, buttoned at the neck). Spiderman. Never being chosen for football. Playing kiss chase one last time on the last day of school. Getting a slap around the face from J because I finally kissed her.
And then there's my mum, bringing my sister and me up single handed, with all the things that brought, including my inclusion into the free school meals gang. Getting called a tramp was a quick way for the person doing the name calling to get a punch in the face...
London Bridge is falling down but they'll keep building a new one in it's place.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Out of all the big events of the 20th Century, the one my mum talked about most was the moon landing. Apparently on that night she held me up to the sky to look at the moon and told me all about the astronauts being up there. I was five months old. And I can just imagine what she'd be telling us about if she was still here!
I'm about to step outside and see what I can see now forty years later and then I'm going to tell Alfie all about it!
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
I had a message asking if I was still alive this week. Well, I am!
It wasn't swine flu in the end, but it was a particularly nasty infection with some symptoms that were very flu-like. A couple of weeks later and a course of antibiotics and I'm up and running again.
Now, I hear you ask, where is the blogging? Where is the music? Well, not really been up to doing much of that lately; in fact I'm not sure what I've even been listening to. It is a blip at the moment though, there's a lot of things going on obviously at home and at work so... and besides which, all my music is on a separate drive and I'm sitting in another room on a laptop. Really can't be bothered to unplug things and replug them. Sigh.
I'm hoping things will settle down somewhat in a few weeks. I may be hoping in vain mind you!
In other news I've just discovered one of you lot (Mr Planet Mondo himself) is working about thirty yards down the street from where I work. I'm not quite sure whether to buy him a pint or stalk him. :)
Anyway, here's a tune I did have to hand, and it's a cracker. One of my most favourite remixes ever, and the moment when suddenly the world joined the dots between eras for me. A real lightbulb moment!
Happy Mondays - WFL (Wrote For Luck) - Vince Clarke mix
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Well, I appear to have flu. And, in a borough of London that has a high Swine Flu count, there is the possibility that I too have become one of the many statistics they quote on the news. I think the last time I became a statistic was when I was unemployed years ago.
Anyway, I have to stay at home, to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. And I may be receiving a swab kit in the post so I can be checked out. Only maybe however, they don't have enough to send to every body with possible symptoms.
And so, one of my all time favourite bands reforms and plays a gig in London, and I can't go.
So if I can't go out then I'm going to throw open the windows and turn up the music. A classic little Northern Soul tune, that as far as I'm aware isn't available anywhere right now; full of summer. Enjoy!
Ginger Thompson - Boy Watcher
Sunday, 28 June 2009
One of my all time favourite bands, covered in these pages last summer, The Moment, are reformed and playing live in London this Wednesday July 1st, at The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden Town.
Go to this very page of the blog for details about them and to hear some tracks:
Should be a damn fine evening!
Sunday, 14 June 2009
I've been in a little bubble for a little while now, months maybe. I'm going to be exposed to the real world on Monday, none of this purified air any longer, only other peoples germs and bad moods. I really do need to find a new walk, a new swagger to deal with this strange new planet I find myself on. But in the meantime the old tunes carry enough weight to lift me up ten feet high.
"First lets hear somebody sing me a record that cries pure and true"
Deep breathe in, breath out slowly. And relax.
Or alternatively, as somebody I know said earlier today:
"Gram of billy and half a bottle of vodka comming right up !!"Dexys Midnight Runners - Let's Make This Precious
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Just to let you know, I'm still alive, although I look today like I've gone through a war. Little Alfie is a joy so far, fingers crossed it stays that way!!
Music calms him when he is stressed, and gets his full attention when he is calm. Favourites so far include a Lee Perry reworking of an Al Green tune that I'll remember in a moment, and the tinkly tinkly sounds of Doll On A Music Box from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The moment in that when Dick Van Dyke comes in with Truly Scrumptious actually made him visibly shiver! And the soundtracks of John Williams on random play helped me get him to sleep with a bad stomach.
In other news: I'm back at work next week, after nearly a month off. The Beautiful Wife and me are still looking at each other with that 'oh shit what have we done' face.
And my old iPod nano died a death so I've gone for a proper one. 120 gigs. Already full. And a cabinet of CDs that are nowhere near a computer. I need to do some editing. Two months of music if left to play, without hearing the same song twice. Wonderful Radio Simon.
Anyway, I'll be back to something resembling normal service sometime soon!
Monday, 25 May 2009
.....The new Madness album The Liberty Of Norton Folgate....it is superb. Easily the best album they've made, but also one of the best 'London' albums I've heard in a while. Cracking songs, including the early doors favourite of mine Sugar And Spice, which is luvverly!
Like Adam over there I'm not going to post anything from it, because it is really worth your dough.
Go and buy!!!!
Meanwhile little sunshine is even more luvverly...sigh....
Friday, 22 May 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Here's a tune from the mid 90s, Sneaker Pimps and their major hit 6 Underground. I loved this tune: this version is the album mix, which isn't as concise as the single mix. I think I've about 5 or 6 mixes of this.
Looking back over everything the mid 90s might just be my favourite time for music.
Meanwhile: a quick rush through the blogs I've had going on in my head that I can't quite be bothered to write or upload for!:
ashes to ashes, episode 4 of this series was everything the rest of this series and the first series for that matter should have been: dark and humourous rather than tongue in cheek and strong in story and acting. The rest of Ashes To Ashes feels like a blurry mess compared to this one. "pigbag - papa's got a brand new pigbag"
last gang in town: I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I'll never form the next Clash, I'll never be the next Joe Strummer. Does this mean I'm growing up? Although I'm still convinced I'll be the next Han Solo when they remake Star Wars. "the clash - stay free"
40 and frisky. I'm absolutely obsessed with Pokerface by Lady GaGa. Damn fine pop music with a soaring chorus. Even if it does sample Boney M. I never thought I'd still get obsessed with pop music once I was...middle aged. Is middle aged the new teens? "Lady GaGa - Pokerface"
I can't quite believe the stories about the MPs and their expenses. Part of me, the cynic isn't surprised. Another part wonders if any of us wouldn't take the option if it was given to us to have our bills paid for us. I worked in the music industry for a few years, and have many friends who still do. Freebies were our lifeblood, mostly because wages were so crappy. And would you say no to free albums or gig tickets? But those freebies weren't paid out of taxpayers pockets. Tax payers who are being told how bad the recession is and could be, by these people who are then claiming for help on second homes and swimming pools and luxury furnishings. But mostly I'm surprised by how many of them really don't look sorry or apologetic: surprise and annoyance is what I'm seeing in most of their faces; surprise that people are angry and annoyance that they may have to give up these perks. Latest news is that some of them might be investigated by the police to see if fraud has occurred, and the possibility of huge tax bills on the horizon is very likely. Which is I guess a way of saying you have to give it back. Wonder where it will end up then? "booker-t & the mgs - hang em high"
Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground
Sunday, 10 May 2009
Friday, 8 May 2009
Generation X's version of Shaking All Over today; a fantastic song and Gen X do it justice. In fact Billy Idol was probably born to perform it and it's filled with some great guitar work too. All of which go together to make it one of my favourite cover versions, and certainly my favourite Gen X performance.
Meanwhile in other news: all my plans for the week have been left by the wayside. A week bookended by 'false labour' has left us feeling absolutely knackered. Strangely calm however.
Generation X - Shaking All Over
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Bank Holiday Weekend. Now we're into May the clock is ticking. I'm finding that I'm actually quite calm, but I can't really focus on anything, hence the lack of posts this week, even though the frazzled mind of the previous weeks has relaxed.
Musically I'm exploring the pastoral side of pop, lots of relaxing sounds. Although I'm punctuating that with some spiky punk. More on that later on the week. In the meantime sit back and enjoy some Young Marble Giants and their wonderful Wurlitzer Jukebox.
Heading to the pub for Sunday roast later, which will be nice. Remember, take time to enjoy the weekend, whatever you're doing. Be careful out there!
Young Marble Giants - Wurlitzer Jukebox
Sunday, 26 April 2009
I'm still overloading this week, so writing isn't really a priority. Have some lovely Sunday tunes to relax and unwind to. Then pop over to Rol's pages for a whole load more.
Nick Drake - Sunday
Bert Jansch - Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
Nick Heyward - On A Sunday
Sunday, 19 April 2009
I've just had a monumentally busy week, the kind of week that leaves you feeling like your brain is melting. The kind of week that leaves you wanting to drift away on a gentle breeze come the weekend. So, as the April sunshine begins to burn away the morning haze I'm contemplating an afternoon in the park just lazing around. Probably won't happen but it's a nice place to be in my head.
And as a soundtrack to that vision here's a few of what may have to become a necessary place to be in the next few months....sunday's soothers.....
XTC - Summer's Cauldron
The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice
Robert Wyatt - Sea Song
Lulu - To Sir With Love
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
I know next to nothing about this one. Cynthia Sheeler and "I'll Cry Over You".
Cynthia was from New Orleans, the record was on the JB's label; and that's the next to nothing.
Oh and it's lovely.
Anybody have anything more to add I'll be grateful.
Cynthia Sheeler - I'll Cry Over You
Monday, 13 April 2009
I've been, and continue to be, very busy at the moment. The clock is ticking down until we meet our new arrival. It's not long now. So posts may start to become sporadic for a little while.
Meanwhile I've developed something of an obsession with The Incredible String Band. The ISB were a psychedelic folk band formed in the late 60s by contemporaries of Bert Jansch and John Martyn. I can't say I've ever heard anything quite like them. Other people have worked in similar areas, but some of this stuff is out there.
Rainbow is from their 1970 album U. U was the recorded version of a stageshow they had been touring and was a double album recorded in just 48 hours. Rainbow itself clocks in at 15 minutes, and is stunning, being about five or six different songs in one, moving from slow delicate piano piece to raucous passionate proclaiming. Far out. Man.
The Incredible String Band - Rainbow
Monday, 6 April 2009
It's Paul Haig Day on the blogs. Go to the good man JC's pages here at the Vinyl Villain for information.
My little tribute to Paul is from a different angle today, because one of my favourite records he was involved in was the collection Memory Palace, a series of recordings made with Billy Mackenzie in the 90s. It's an amazing record, showing that, at the time of recording, both musicians best was still ahead of them. Sadly these recordings didn't see the light of day until after Billy's death.
It's a pretty diverse collection and yet one that hangs together beautifully; electronics next to guitars; moody cold ballads next to uptempo rockers. And the mighty Give Me Time, a Bond theme that never was.
Meanwhile Paul has released a long and interesting series of excellent albums; Cinematique 2 is a particular favourite that gets a regular listen. Please go here to Paul's own record label Rhythm Of Life and investigate immediately!
Haig/Mackenzie - Give Me Time
Haig/Mackenzie - Thunderstorm
Haig/Mackenzie - Take A Chance
Haig/Mackenzie - Listen To Me
Haig/Mackenzie - Listen Again
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Here's The Specials drummer John Bradbury, with his Northern Soul revival band JB's All Stars, on The Tube back in late 83, early 1984. I can remember this performance, but I must admit to forgetting the waistcoats and haircuts...I recommend you close your eyes and just listen! Some great songs and a really quite energetic and exciting performance. JB's All Stars!
Thursday, 2 April 2009
There's been something in the air this week; people I know seem to be feeling the same. Like we're all adrift, being taken by the tides. Flotsam and jetsam.
I guess when everything is uncertain you can't plan. It can feel like you don't know where you're going to, not knowing what shore you're going to end up on.
So while we're all lost at sea here's some tunes that sound very nice together, and are providing a suitable soundtrack.
Just remember folks it will all be ok. Even when the map says: "Here Be Dragons"...
The Style Council - It's A Very Deep Sea
Robert Wyatt - Team Spirit
Aztec Camera - Stray
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Goldfrapp's Black Cherry album was a huge album for my wife and me. It pretty much soundtracked our first six months to a year together. It was the only new album I'd bought that year. At the time I was sharing a flat with two other guys. One of them used to borrow it to soundtrack nocturnal visits from ladyfriends. I nearly bought a second copy so I could listen to it at least some of the time.
The big track on there for us was Train. I can recall many occasions when it provided a suitable soundtrack, but by far the funniest was the day after my birthday party that year. A friend had made special cookies as a present. We'd watched people visibly melting under their influence. Strong was not the word. And the wife and I finished them between us. All the while listening to Train on a loop. And then dissolving into hysterical laughter for several hours. All the while listening to Train on a loop. On a loop. On a loop. On a...you get the picture. I laughed so much that day that I couldn't breath, my sides ached so much. And Train? I can still listen to it over and over and over. A brilliant track from one of my most favourite albums.
Goldfrapp - Train
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Wet Wet Wet. I know. I know. Yes, that song. It did my head in too. I won't mention it, so you don't get it into your heads. Fifteen bloody weeks at number one though. Yeah, it definately did my head in.
But I'll let you into a little secret. I own their first two albums. Actually I think I've three albums, because there's one they did with Willie Mitchell in Memphis.
Anyway, despite being a fairly slick pin up band they were musically into a lot of the same stuff I listen to and post on here - for instance Dexys and Costello and old soul. So when my sister got a huge crush on their keyboard player back in the 80s I listened to their albums when she was out, having to buy them later on for myself.
Here's a couple of b-sides from their early singles. The first Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight is a James Taylor tune that the Isley Brothers once covered to great effect, and the second World In Another reminds me of one of Wet Wet Wet's other favourites Scritti Politti for some reason.
These are probably my favourite recordings by them, just because they're not as slick as some of the more known tunes. And Marti Pellow was a great singer.
Yeah. I know. But I don't care!
Wet Wet Wet - Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Wet Wet Wet - World In Another
I've had It's A Shame by The Detroit Spinners going around and around in my head for a couple of days now. It's a song that does this on a regular basis. I'm not sure if that means that I love the song more than most or if it's just super catchy. I find myself singing it to myself walking down the street, or while I'm cooking.
It is a great track mind you, and what I didn't know for years was that Stevie Wonder wrote and produced it, and plays a lot of the instruments on it. Listen to the brass lines and you can hear Stevie's melodic touch quite clearly.
Here's the original by The Detroit Spinners (just The Spinners in the US, renamed in the UK to avoid confusing them with our middle of the road folk group of the same name) and a lovely reggae version by Alton Ellis. I'll have this going around and around and around in my head all day now...
Detroit Spinners - It's A Shame
Alton Ellis - It's A Shame
Sunday, 29 March 2009
I managed to forget Sounds For Sunday last week. Not quite sure how.
Anyway, I'm on a Costello kick this week: primarily with The Attractions because they were superb. I'm never sure which album is my favourite of those years, at the moment Trust is actually up there. But along with Blood And Chocolate, Get Happy!! is my most listened to Costello album. Loads of songs, mostly played at high energy and filled with soul influences.
Hmm. Motown grooves played with punk energy and topped with snarled vocals singing intelligent lyrics. Weller as always was keeping watch I think, but this album really did show the way for a lot of bands in the early 80s. And what an album, Costello wrote better songs probably, and The Attractions played better elsewhere, but there's something about Get Happy!! that is just so direct and powerful. And some great choices of covers. Sam And Dave's I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down was a ballad and beautiful with it, and there is a Costello version in the same style, but somewhere along the way he sped it up. I Stand Accused was by Jerry Butler originally. Now I don't seem to have it, even after some searching. What I do have is an lovely Al Green version. Again it's a ballad, which is a huge contrast to Costello's extremely speedy version. On the other hand Costello's version of Betty Everett's Getting Mighty Crowded is quite faithful to the original, with a great vocal, and the Attractions powering on like Booker T & The MGs on speed. It's very Mod with a capital M. (It also ended up on a b-side at the time rather than on the album but we'll forget about that for the moment...)
Sam & Dave - I Can't Stand Up
Al Green - I Stand Accused
Betty Everett - Getting Mighty Crowded
Friday, 27 March 2009
Something soulful and full of strings for you this evening.
Sam Fletcher's I'd Think It Over is lovely, a big jazzy orchestral swaggering piece of soulfulness to dance circles around the front room. It builds beautifully, rising up and up to a nicely dramatic chorus. It makes me want to wear a sharp suit, drink whisky on the rocks and smoke french cigarettes. Whilst wearing shades inside. At night-time.
Sam Fletcher - I'd Think It Over
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Adam at Pretending Life Is Like A Song posted the wonderful Town Cryer by Elvis Costello recently. It's a wonderful song, with a great Costello vocal, changing the way he sings each repetition of the lines until you feel like he's been singing four or five different songs at once. And then there's the beautiful arrangement, those orchestral parts that feel like the sun coming up.
I didn't realise that I had three versions of the song however. The original and an acoustic demo which is lovely. And a very strange fast version, all jerky early 80s funk moves and Hammond Organ washes. I don't think either of the other versions are as good as the original, but they're great indications of how good the song is that it stands up to the differences. I especially like the vocal breakdown at the end of the fast version. Fun.
Town Cryer (demo version)
Town Cryer (fast version)
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Can't be posting Respond Records without mentioning Tracie. Tracie was the reason I bought Beat Surrender, and then Speak Like A Child and then a whole load of music. It was all her fault. There I've admitted it. I got into a whole youth sub-culture (so sub by this point that I was surfacing on the other side of the planet) because of a crush on a girl. All my Motown and Trojan and Who and Small Faces and Moment and Fred Perry shirts because of a girl. Tracie! Can't forget that exclamation point.
Ah but what a girl. One of my favourite vocals ever by anybody on The Boy Hairdresser, a Weller original that was the b-side to Give It Some Emotion, Tracie's second single. I love the high note she hits on the last verse, the one after the spoken middle. (Who was that speaking? Weller, Mick Talbot, or the late great Vaughn Toulouse?)
And then some eagle eyed folk may have noticed this posted in comments earlier on in the week, but I'll post it 'officially': I Love You When You Sleep, a great song written by one Elvis Costello.
Ah what a song. Absolutely gorgeous.
Keeps On Burning indeed!
Tracie! - Boy Hairdresser
Tracie! - I Love You When You Sleep
It's a great game isn't it - recreating Beatles albums purely with cover versions. Here's a handful of great covers of tunes from Rubber Soul, all from the Trojan Beatles box set.
Willie Lindo - Norwegian Wood
Ernie Smith - You Won't See Me
Jackie Robinson - In My Life
Joe White - If I Needed Someone
So, name some tunes to finish the album - in any style of music...
Monday, 23 March 2009
(Lee at Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop was reminiscing today about our diets back in the 70s and how steak was a luxury and seen as posh or upmarket. This was in part my response over there, and also a tiny bit of response over here.)
Back in the 70s and early 80s my mum worked at Smithfield Meat Market, doing the books for a big Scottish beef firm. Part of her weekly wages was a certain percentage in 'meat' so to speak.
And no I don't mean she was sleeping with the boss.
Anyway, she regularly brought home a leg of lamb, 2 chickens, sausages, pork chops most weeks. But I can't recall any occasion when she came home with steaks. Given that she worked for a Scottish beef company it's a bit odd. Steak must have been their prime resource or something.
I can remember vividly when we were able to start buying anything but the crap food from shops though. It was spring 1982 in our part of London when Safeway opened up one of their big stores near the Barbican. Cartons of orange juice. Fruit and veg that wasn't simply potatoes carrots and apples. Starfruit and kiwi fruit! And avocadoes. And cook in the oven pizzas with deep crust!
But still we wanted fish fingers and fray bentos pies. Bad pop - "it's frothy man" anybody?
Is there a link between the country's diet and the music we listened to I wonder though? Lumpy bad food in the 70s and then the colourful more healthy option in the early 80s: Did all that early 80s pop sound that much brighter and bubblier because I wasn't so full of crap?
Here's some of the bubbliest and brightest from that summer when Safeway opened.
Madness - House Of Fun
The Associates - Party Fears Two
ABC - The Look Of Love Part 1
Duran Duran - Rio
I posted The Questions last week and their song Tuesday Sunshine. I had a few requests for one of their other songs, Price You Pay, which came out in the spring of 1983 and takes me right back whenever I hear it.
I hear it quite often because it is probably one of my all time favourite singles. I love it, from the drum intro, to the Paul Barry ad-libs over the fade. I always think it should have been a huge hit. But that's how it goes sometimes.
The real sound of spring in my head.
The Questions - Price You Pay
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Nothing major, just a headful of all the things that have been happening, all the things that are going to happen, and a few things that will hopefully never happen. I could do with a cigarette, but music is better.
And so this song to soothe the way. An acoustic version from the re-issue of Steve McQueen. Lovely.
Prefab Sprout - Appetite
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Just about two years after it came out I got around to listening in full to the last Chemical Brothers album We Are The Night. When I listened to it before I must have been on full on skim mode because I completely missed Saturate.
Not this time. WOW.
A track that could sound like bleepy trance by numbers doesn't. Oh it comes close, simplistic sequencing and beats for the most part and lazy layering of riffs. But it's kind of nice. Then the chorus kicks in. And I mean kicks in, a huge ascending riff over a mammoth break beat that just goes sky high. Vertical Take Off. Talk about hands in the air, really beautiful and soaring and melodic, more like Orbital at their best than the Chems. I mean they've made some amazing music but it's not always about melody with them. But this is probably the best tune I've heard from them in years, maybe ever. Absolutely. Love. It.
Better late than never.
The Chemical Brothers - Saturate
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Rol at Sunset Over Slawit is doing a series about days of the week in music. It's Tuesday today over there, so I thought I'd post my favourite day of the week song ever.
Tuesday Sunshine came out around this time in 1984...25 years ago...wow. I was in the middle of being ill, stuck at home for a month, and I absolutely hated every song on the radio, which all seemed to be songs from Footloose, a film I still haven't seen all the way through. The Questions were one of the groups on Paul Weller's Respond Records and had released one of my favourite singles of 1983, The Price You Pay. So you can imagine I was quite excited to get my hands on Tuesday Sunshine. I played it over and over again, quite annoying my mum.
Listening to it now it's not quite the classic it seemed. Great vocals, musically a mix of Weller's Speak Like A Child and the Chairman Of The Board's Everything's Tuesday. It's great, but unlike The Price You Pay, I don't listen to it much anymore. It is however perfect for a sunny March morning.
The Questions didn't last much longer, releasing one album that summer. Paul Barry, vocals and bass is now a songwriter for hire, famously being one of the writers of Cher's Believe.
The Questions - Tuesday Sunshine
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Here's a vintage dance pop tune that's a little bit more 'modern' than usual. Weird to be calling a tune from 1990 'vintage', but blimey it's nearly 20 years ago...oh well....
JC over at Vinyl Villain has posted Chic's Good Times, which prompted me to mention Johnny Marr's love of Chic and the influence of Nile Rodger on his playing. Which reminded me of this track, Still Feel The Rain by Stex on which Johnny plays. I know very little about Stex other than Stephen Lironi (Mr Claire Grogan and ex Altered Images/Black Grape) produced it and Johnny played guitar. And it featured over at Acid Ted before Christmas.
This is the Grid remix which sets the main JM riff way out front for a large portion of the track. That synth brass is pretty unfortunate however. But it's a great track that takes me back, this got played out quite often for a while.
Stex - Still Feel The Rain
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Get your dancing feet on for this prime bit of seventies soul, with those scratchy funk guitars and cool brass lines that influenced so many early 80s records.
An original copy of The Perfections "Can This Be Real?" has been known to sell for as much as £300 on ebay!!!. I'm no purist, I'm glad I can get to hear these things, no matter what the format!
The Perfections - Can This Be Real?
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Sometimes a song takes you back so vividly that you can feel the sun on your face from a summer over twenty years ago.
The Smithereens are a New Jersey based power-pop band that have been around for nearly 30 years. Back in the mid 80s they released this single, with an old friend of theirs Suzanne Vega on gorgeous backing vocals. Her presence helped get the track played on radio, I bought it and played it to death; smoking cigarettes late at night, cursing lyric writers who could catch my state of mind so easily. "I'm alone and lonely every night" as the slow jazzy acoustic groove smouldered away.
Ah broken hearts. Bastard bastard things. Thankfully the only trace of a fractured aorta is in the songs of my life....
The Smithereens - In A Lonely Place
John's Children were a 60's Mod band mostly known for featuring Marc Bolan in their line up for about six months in 1967; during which time they released one of Marc's songs Desdemona as a single. The song was banned in the UK for the lyric "Lift up your skirt and fly". Not long after Marc was on his merry way towards Tyrannosaurus Rex/T-Rex and fame.
Desdemona is a cool little art-rocker with some great acid guitars and the unmistakeable sound of Marc's vocals on the chorus. Apparently The Jam covered it live back in the day, but I've never been able to track down a recording...if anybody has one......!!
John's Children - Desdemona
Ah I love this track. Taken from The Proclaimers first album This Is The Story, The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues is that rare thing, a white soul song that conveys joy, ecstasy, pure uplifting soul. There are a few people that have done it, Van is one and dear Kevin Rowland is another. Craig and Charlie have always 'proclaimed' their love for Kevin and he was quite involved with them in the early days, advising and paying for studio time so they could record demos. And his influence is quite apparent on this.
And yet who knew you could create something so uplifting out of a visit to a Hibs away game?
Just listen to those soaring vocals and the urgency of the second half of the track, and tell me you don't feel your soul take flight?
"I'm not gonna talk about doubts and confusion on a night when I can see with my eyes shut"
The Proclaimers - The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues
Sunday, 8 March 2009
I had a whole post worked out in my head about this track and how the original is one of my all time favourite songs and performances. A couple of pints of Guinness later and a decent pub roast and I'm kicking back with a cuppa, probably heading for a snooze.
So, one of those times when the music needs to do the talking I think.
The Young Rascals - Groovin'
Booker T & The MGs - Groovin'
Marvin Gaye - Groovin'
Willie Mitchell - Groovin'
Aretha Franklin - Groovin'
Friday, 6 March 2009
Ok, forget dancing on Fridays, here's three tracks that sound more like the Fridays of my life. Saturday night was always for dancing, Friday was more for going down the pub after wherever I'd been that day.
It's really difficult to explain how much The Pogues meant to me. More Last Gang In Town than The Clash, almost more fire and passion than The Jam and Dexys combined and in my opinion the best lyricist of all time in Shane MacGowan. And they arrived in my life when I was about 17, searching for identity, and jumping on my Celt ancestry like it was a runaway horse.
Here's three tracks, two of which are not so typical of The Pogues and probably their best song ever.
First up is the full length Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, where The Pogues turn to Stone of the Rolling variety. "I love your lips and I love your eyes, I love your breasts and I love your thighs" Great to turn up loud and jump up and down to.
Next is Haunted from the Sid & Nancy soundtrack, featuring Cait O'Riordan on vocals. This one is more like The Pogues doing Phil Spector by way of the Jesus & Mary Chain. And as far as I'm concerned it's as good as that sounds, one of my favourite songs from the mid 80s, all spaced out romance.
But not as good as this next one: Rainy Night In Soho. I posted this last year sometime, but it was the remixed/re-recorded/whatever version. This is the original version from the Poguetry In Motion EP, which I absolutely adore. It's rougher around the edges and simply majestic. Is there a better lyric than this song contains?
"There's a light I hold before me and you're the measure of my dreams" indeed. Indeed.
The Pogues - Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
The Pogues - Haunted
The Pogues - Rainy Night In Soho
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
I've been travelling lately. Picking up information and ideas. Finding out things I didn't know, hearing songs I never knew existed, and hearing things I knew about with new ears. Folk is a funny thing. Twiddley diddley-ey-ay. But of course it's not, it's blood and guts and sex and drugs and rock n roll. And twee whimsy too, absolutely off it's face on scrumpy to the point of hallucination.
It's weird, there's so many connections through my music collection to the folk scene. And I've been on it's outskirts forever. Hey, I know who Cecil Sharp was. If you don't, start googling. It's worth finding out about.
And "The Songs That People Sing" was itself a song about the traditions and songs and stories that get passed down by word of mouth. "Somebody should write down the songs that people sing" was the line. Catch those things before they disappear from the world, lost forever.
Anyway, I've been through the British folk revival from the sixties, your Davey Grahams and Bert Janschs; your Fairports and Wicker Man. I've followed those bands down and their peers and sons daughters of peers. Meanwhile I've also been listening to some electronic bleeps and glitches from Boards Of Canada, not thinking for one moment that I'd be able to find connection with the plucked acoustic instruments of folk, and found the connection there was via The Incredible String Band. Strange psychedelic soundscapes that also sound like the soundtrack to Bagpuss.
So I've been strumming my own DADGAD tuned guitar over bleepy techno until my fingers bleed. Which is nicer than it sounds! And somebody said, hey that sounds like Tunng. So off I went down another funny little path and found this little collective Tunng, folk and folk influenced pop over glitchy beats, like a cross between Simon & Garfunkel and Boards Of Canada, or the music from Bagpuss with extra Clanger. Beautifully laid back and imaginatively arranged with some great melodies and lyrics. Three albums so far and the sound of a band who are improving with every step. Take a listen to these tasters then go and search them out. As much to do with the Fairports as they are to do with Super Furry Animals. Dreamy and incredibly detailed, probably best listened to over headphones...
Pastoral and yet sounding like the city centre all at once.
Aphex Twin Folk Music.
Tunng - Secrets
Tunng - The Wind Up Bird
Tunng - Bullets
Tunng - Surprise Me
Matt from Worksop pointed out one absolutely cracking track that might make you go out and buy Felix catfood so I'm going to post that, and as a thank you for reminding me about it I'm also putting up Don Thomas, Come On Train, which is one of my all time favourite Northern tunes, hell, one of my all time favourite tunes by anybody. Beautiful stuff, I absolutely adore the Don Thomas vocals. I'm going to go away and sing very loudly now! And not think about it's connection to Visa one little bit!
Rubin - You've Been Away
Well, Don Thomas was up but no more. I got an email from the nice folks from New State Music who are releasing the track and it's remix, asking me nicely if I'd remove it. And of course I will! Both the original and it's remix are available from iTunes here. Go and buy!!
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Things have been a bit...interesting this week.
There have been letters from lawyers telling me I may have money, letters from employers telling me my job may be at risk, letters from musicians I've admired telling me they like my writings about them and an evening spent in a West End theatre listening to ABBA, which the Bump very much enjoyed if the movement was anything to go by.
Musically I've been on a funny little journey down a folky acoustic path, mixed in with some electronic music that at first glance had nothing to do with anything else. Typically, some investigation led me to discover that I was dancing around on the same path. There will be some tunes from that source later on in the week. If my bleeding fingers let me type.
Meanwhile on a Sunday we have some typically Northern(ish) tunes that may have a funny effect on you. If you find yourself wanting to go out and buy some Adidas gear, or Lambrini; or if you find yourself in KFC or running manically around Boots then it's not my fault.
Frankie Valli - Beggin' (Pilooski edit)
Little Milton - More And More
Al Wilson - The Snake
Ernie K Doe - Here Come The Girls
The Flirtations - Nothing But A Heartache
*You have to laugh sometimes. I wrote this piece this morning, and then this evening an advert for a credit card comes on with yet another classic piece of Northern, Come On Train by Don Thomas.
That's not exactly a well known tune however, so it suggests that the person involved is a fan of the music. Good God man, how do you listen to this stuff afterwards? Don't you forever associate it with a commercial?
I'd suggest laying off the old soul for ad campaigns. There must be some other type of music that's ripe for use. And that I can't stand. Please!!
Sunday, 22 February 2009
It so easily could have felt like the longest winter ever. One of the side effects of children - so my mum used to tell me - was that time moved so much faster. Never enough time, she used to say, never enough time. And while for a brief moment during the last six months I was frozen in place, now I'm thawing out and time is moving normally, fast even thanks to my own incoming offspring. I knew I was coming back to life, when I was finally able to write about how I was feeling recently. I normally am only able to write about my feelings when I'm on the other side of them. While I'm in the middle of a storm I'm too busy trying to survive.
I certainly wouldn't have been able to get through the winter without The Beautiful Wife. So I'll dedicate this Sounds For Sunday to her. Five years ago this weekend we became an official couple, after several months of dancing around the fact. Everybody knew what was going on, but sometimes you just have to be patient. And now look at where we are, where we've come, the road we've travelled on to this point, and the road we're about to travel on.
Like nobody's business... x
The tune today is Sister Sledge, Thinking Of You. Which is another one of those that I forget about until I hear it; a fantastic performance, song, and production, possibly the best Chic production. A perfect tune for the imminent rise of spring and drifting away with somebody special.
Sister Sledge - Thinking Of You
Friday, 20 February 2009
Everyone else seems to go for a dance on Friday. I think I'll go a little bit dreamy.
I inherited from a family friend the first four Blondie albums back in about 1982. When we were younger kids we used to listen to them in his front room and pretend we were Clem Burke, while his twin sister pretended to be Debbie Harry.
And here I am 30 years later still listening to them. And going off in a day dream to the best whoaah woahs ever.
Blondie - Shayla
Thursday, 19 February 2009
I've a pile of albums around here that I may only listen to a handful of tracks from. Maybe a greatest hits that only four out of the twenty tracks were the reason for purchasing. I've a few of Donovan's sixties albums which I listen to quite often, and a best of that is only useful for some of the 60s singles. But occasionally the odd track will come up on random by these sorts of people and I'll sit back and go "what is that??!"
Rock 'n' Roll Souljer is from Donovan's mid 70s output, when he wasn't anywhere near as successful as he had been. Unsurprisingly this track pretty much disappeared from trace. Which is a shame because it's damn good.
What does it sound like? Well, I've always thought that Bowie and Bolan owed Donovan a lot, musically, vocally, even image at various times (have you seen early pictures of Bolan in the Fisherman's cap?); so it's probably not a surprise that Donovan may have repaid the favour. Rock 'n' Roll Souljer is a glam rock pop stomper that sounds like T-Rex, Bowie and Steve Harley's Come Up And See Me. And yes it does make me smile!
Donovan - Rock 'n' Roll Souljer
Monday, 16 February 2009
Turning 40 was pretty painless thanks to The Beautiful Wife. Film and pizza on the day (Slumdog Millionaire - very very good, if you're a Danny Boyle fan then you will enjoy it and the cast is excellent); then my favourite Thai restaurant on Sunday with friends, organised in secret by TBW. Highlight of the day was surely singing a duet with my best mate's 9 month old daughter.
Monday finds me in acoustic reverie with a random selection from iTunes that are running on repeat currently in this house.
Firstly as a result of his passing I've been digging into John Martyn's earlier works and, in one of those funny little connections I find myself posting John The Baptist a week after posting Salome. It's a song I know, but you know sometimes tunes just make sense at a particular time. Well this just gets me right now, I love the opening lines:
"I'm John the Baptist
And this is my friend Salome
And you can bet it's my head she wants
And not my heart only
If you see me smiling
And you wonder why
You can bet it's a private joke
Between her and I."
And when John and Beverley repeat the verse as a duet halfway through I just melt. And the harmonies over the end are just beautiful.
Next up on the playlist is Kevin Mcdermott and a little tune from a little solo album (Slow Time And Temptation) he made back in the mid 80s called Farewell To Jenny Lynd, which I think is one of the most beautiful little songs ever, with a gorgeous melody and some great vocals.
Give Me Another Chance by Big Star has been a favourite around these parts in small bursts for a couple of years, a big Beatley melody that sparkles across slow strummed acoustics. It sounds like the sun coming out on a frozen winter morning.
Then a very random little tune, a demo of the song I Start Counting by Basil Kirchin which comes from a compilation called Fuzzy Felt Folk. Basil Kirchin had a long and interesting career, big band jazz, film soundtracks and experimental found sound albums and is well worth investigating. There are other versions, for instance you may know one by Dusty Springfield. But this is lovely.
Finally Sally Free And Easy by Davy Graham from his album Folk Blues And Beyond. A hugely talented and influential musician who passed away last December and whose death should have gotten just as much attention around the blogs as John Martyn. This probably isn't hugely representative of his work but it's a cool little folk pop tune all the same.
Friday, 13 February 2009
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
I had a whole thing about brown corduroy, old sofas and Soft Cell, somehow tied up with Abigail's Party and Jarvis being the best pop star ever lined up for this. Then I watched the video, which somehow does exactly the same without being poncey.
This song features my favourite lyric and my favourite exclamation in a song ever.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Quite possibly my favourite U2 track, Salome was a b-side from their Achtung Baby sessions. I've heard the various demos of the track and it was quite different, sounding more like the noisy Krautrock of Zoo Station than the glam rock of the finished track. The major change was the addition of a chorus, which when it kicks in just makes me go all peculiar. Bono's doing his best Elvis impression and the band sound like prime era Adam & The Ants, especially on that chorus.
U2 - Salome
Monday, 9 February 2009
I'm on a bit of a Beatles kick this week, especially the mid period pre Revolver. Beatles For Sale is probably my favourite album of theirs alongside Rubber Soul and Revolver, and the singles around 64-65 are sublime.
Anyway, the following was named by John himself as a huge influence on a couple of singles from that time.
Friday, 6 February 2009
"So anyway I look across the room and I can see you sitting at the table talking to some random. You're smiling at me and I know you're starting to feel the tingle, the little shivers up and down the arms. I take a drag on my cigarette and try and focus on the conversation I'm having. A little difficult, made even more so by the appearance of Other-D on his hands and knees in front of the washing machine. A moment later he sticks his head in the drum and starts singing.
I step back a little from the chatter, at least mentally if not physically. I'm starting to feel each and every rumble of that bass, the tempo rising, the clitter clatter of the percussion. Meanwhile the sounds of the room start to move away from me, like I'm climbing upward through a tunnel. There's only the tune and me left and your eyes across the room clocking what's happening, just as it's happening to you. There's a taste of puke in my mouth as my stomach feels it before I do, then I'm going off like a rocket, over the top on the roller coaster and there's a whooshing in my head, ears, body. My skin spikes, and again, blue wireframe over everything.
I let it take me, like a leaf on the breeze, up and down and sideways. I feel like I need to hang on to something, somebody, anything. Instead I sway slightly and take a deep deep puff on my cigarette. Across the room you laugh a little, quietly and mouth the word 'jesus' at me. Other-D is still singing in the washing machine, the kick drum is getting faster, the ascending note over the top rising upwards, ever upwards. Then the roof goes off again. Main man D and his lady E start nodding their heads in time with each other and the waves. Then they look in my direction and smile, kindred spirits."
The Chemical Brothers - The Sunshine Underground
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Something a bit more up to date than usual; this is only 10 years old.
Blimey, 10 years old already! I've got Basement Jaxx today with the absolutely amazing Red Alert which I've had on replay all week. A prime slice of punk funk that just grooves all the way from start to finish, with an outstanding vocal performance and so many things going on that the track feels like it's on the verge of explosion at any moment.
Basement Jaxx - Red Alert
And as an extra, something that might sound a bit familiar to those of you who know the track:
Friday, 30 January 2009
I got given a home burnt compilation not so long ago. This track was on it. I have no idea who the Vee Gees were/are. I know this came out in about 1974 and was on the Jump Off label. That's it, the track has travelled down from some original source like a lost treasure.
But it's fantastic.
Just listen to that groove, the guitars and the harmonies. It's a little bit Philly. But it's quite trippy, those layered harmonies and the almost bluesy guitars take it off in some other direction. Musically it almost reminds me of Orange Juice...And in the centre is a great vocal. Really rich and lush.
Whatever. It's damn damn good.
Vee Gees - Talkin'
(anybody got any more information?)
Thursday, 29 January 2009
I'm not sure if it's my mum dying or impending fatherhood that's done it; but at some point in the last six months my creativity died a death. I've been a musician for over twenty years, but I haven't played a note in months. And it's weird, part of me wants to play but another part really isn't fussed. I did pick up my guitar the other week, but there was nothing there.
Writing has suffered too. Look at the blog entries prior to the middle of August; loads of them, but afterwards I've been lucky if I manage one a week. I'm so used to being a participant in the things I'm interested in that this is all something new. Being a passive audience member was never really my thing.
There's a certain amount of fear involved too. I'm not sure I want to write about some of the things in my head. It's not that I'm bottling anything up, I'm not, but I'm not sure I want any kind of record of how I've been feeling; unless it's the good stuff of course!
It's kind of locked me into certain listening patterns where music is concerned. For the most part my default setting now is soul and reggae. Yes, I know, that's been a constant since I've been posting, but there's been other things in there too. Not so much anymore.
It's odd. It's kind of like waking up and finding that your face has changed. I don't quite feel like me anymore. God knows what the next few months are going to do to me!
Meanwhile the death of a computer and a new one with far more memory has led me to sit at the computer with piles of albums to load on. Which has led me to realise how many of the albums I bought in the 90s were dance albums. Underworld, Orbital, Basement Jaxx, Aphex Twin, the Chemical Brothers, Tricky, Sabres Of Paradise. I've had all of these on heavy rotation this week. I'd forgotten how much great music came out in the 90s. You see a lot of nostalgia for Brit-Pop and grunge and Take That. But far less for the dance scene. It really was an amazing scene, with so much talent and imagination. I was born too late for the 60s, was way too young for punk and was just a little too young to fully appreciate the early 80s scene. So when dance music took off in the late 80s I jumped on it and never really jumped off for most of the next decade.
The earlier tunes were a lot like 60s soul, perfect for compilations, not really great for whole albums. But the mid 90s left me with some of my favourite albums ever. Orbital's Insides, Underworld's Beaucoup Fish, The Chems' Dig Your Own Hole, Sabres Of Paradise Haunted Dancehall are absolutely fantastic albums, full of amazing tunes, lush layered textures. They sound amazing and hold so many memories that's it's frightening to believe how old some of them are...
Here's the opening track from Underworld's Beaucoup Fish, Cups. I love the opening string melody that seems to morph into something from Blade Runner. Then it's shift down into a chunky minimal electric piano techno. It's pretty damn laid back but throughout the first six minutes there's an undercurrent of tension that builds up with some faster harder riffs getting louder in the mix until the breakdown, where those lovely big squelchy chords come in before the big percussion attack kicks in for the last couple of minutes.
Underworld - Cups