Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Haunted

'When a relationship dies do we ever really give up the ghost, or are we forever haunted by the spirits of relationships past?' (Sex And The City)

Love And Rockets - 'Haunted When The Minutes Drag' (1985)
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Kristin Hersh - 'Your Ghost' (1994)
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Trembling Blue Stars - 'The Ghost Of An Unkissed Kiss' (2001)

(bah whizzes to witches and pumpkins x).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Coming Of Samhain

Ah yes, Samhain (pronounced sow-inn) - the ancient Celtic festival of the taking in of the harvest and the preparation for the dark time; the last marker of summer's end and the onset of winter; the time when we pay our respects to those who have come before us, for although we are living and they are dead, the line that divides us is fine and the fabric of the world is weak.

Another perfectly decent pagan festival relating to our position as people on the Earth and in Time, co-opted first by those pesky Christians and then by those who build the great cathedrals to the god of shopping; and ye shall know him as the Lord Walmart and ye shall bow at his cash-till and weep...

Nick Drake - 'Harvest Breed' (1972)

Neil Young - 'Harvest Moon' (MTV Unplugged version) (1993)

OK, relax. We'll do some ghosty posts tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Post For My Dad

It's my Dad's birthday today. He is an incredible 84 years old (I know! - they had me late).
One day I'll tell you a whole bunch of stories about my Dad; how he's a war hero (no really - twice!) - all that.

Tonight though I just wanted to post something for him. Not that he reads blogs, or knows I have one. Or knows what one is. Or has a computer. Or knows how to turn a computer on, frankly....

BUT!

My Dad plays music constantly. He walks into a room - usually on returning from a pub - and he turns music on. I do the same. If some music's on, then the room's alive. It's home. You put the lights on afterwards; that's a secondary consideration.

And I was thinking 'What music would Dad put on the blog on his birthday?' and struggled a little because for Dad (unlike for me) music is a kind of background thing. Soothing, warm, nice - but NOT SOMETHING YOU'D WRITE STUFF ABOUT.

But I think this man has never been 'background' to him. I think that if such things figured in his world, this man would be his All Time Favourite Artist. Certainly, Dad introduced him to me, when I was about four years old. And I love him very much too.

And so....happy birthday DavyH senior. You daft old git.

Nat 'King' Cole - 'Unforgettable' (1951)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Queeny Strop

I've read more than a couple of posts lately - and I honestly can't remember where, such was the trauma I experienced - that have seriously argued the David Gray cover of this is superior to the original. This seems to me to be somewhat analogous to suggesting that Jordan could do 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' better than Dusty (oh christ, I hope this doesn't get the bloody idea out there), Jack Vettriano paints nicer than Goya and 'Hamlet' could well benefit from a rewrite by Dan Brown.

Young people, watch my sad old chapped lips: Marc Almond is a GENIUS DIVA; David Gray is a noddy-headed Van Morrison-lite for Mail On Sunday readers.

Sort yourselves out.

Soft Cell - 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' (1982)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Can Call Her Bettye

I'm posting on the fly this week as my girlies are home for the half term holidays and our days are jamborees of museums, parks, pizzas and cinema trips; or at least they would be if we could get our sorry selves out of bed in the morning (it's dark).

But I certainly can't let the birthday of Bettye Swann go by unannounced; she's been one of my all-time fave soul singers ever since I heard her cover of Aaron Neville's 'Tell It Like It Is' on an old Stateside compilation and tracked down more of her stuff in the dear old lost and much lamented record stores of Camden Town.

This anthology came out a couple of years back and is an absolute corker if you like your soul Southern and your singing effortlessly warm and pure. I heartily commend it to you - and wish the former Ms Betty Jean Champion many happy returns of the day. She's special.

Now, about those tickets for 'Ratatouille'...

Bettye Swann- 'Tell It Like It Is' (1968)
Bettye Swann - 'Cover Me' (1969)
Bettye Swann - 'Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)' (1969)

[Whatever became of Bettye Swann? Read Tim Tooher's CD sleeve notes here]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Splutternick

I've seen it all now.
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According to the BBC you can build your own Sputnik with an old biscuit tin, a Tomy baby monitor, four large batteries and a balloon.
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What the f- ?
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XTC - 'Another Satellite' (1986)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Premier League

The lines are closed and the votes have been counted. You plumped by a clear margin for the 'Tarty 80s Classic' - and I was so hoping you would...

The Human League - 'Hard Times' (1982)

Originally the B side to the 'Love Action' single, this is the Martin Rushent remix from the League Unlimited Orchestra's 'Love And Dancing' mini LP and it is quite glorious - as fine a slice of electronic pop as you're ever likely to hear.

Back in the day, our school ran an innovative Friday night club for 2nd and 3rd formers called, radically enough, '2-3 Club'. It was very much a club of two halves: the first part of the evening occupied with plenary activities run by volunteer 6th formers - photography club, Scalextric club, war games club, football club; the second part of the evening a disco. When we were little kids we attended, and when we were big kids we got to help run things - and me and another guy did the disco every week (there had to be two of us because there was only one turntable and someone had to change the records while someone else talked in the gaps. Classy.)

My co-DJ had the 12" single of 'Hard Times/Love Action' which segues both tracks into an inspired electroboogie whole, and it used to go down a storm. Usefully, it was also long enough to allow the DJs a toilet break....

Tragically, that 12" mix is unavailable on the League's recently issued compilation of remixes and 'rarities'. Aren't record companies rubbish?

Anyhoo, why not turn down the lights in the front room tonight and dance like Joanne and Susanne? You'll feel better about everything, I promise.

Your Vote Counts!

Don't forget to vote in The Ghost Of Electricity Friday Post Poll. There's still time to influence the result. Lines close at about 3pm UK time and the winner will be revealed shortly afterwards. Catch you later!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Swedes In Season


It's Swedish indie-pop a gogo on the interwebby right now. What are they putting in the water over there and can we please have some too? Only this week thanks to Colin I have made friends with the delightful Club 8, and a nice little Scandinavian playlist has been building on my compuder for quite some time now (hello Hello Saferide in particular).
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I first heard this chap's 'A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill' the year before last and had the urge to press it on everyone I knew for a number of months thereafter.
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This one has another great title, sparkly strings and more than a little Edwyn about it, all of which are Very Good Things in my book.
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Jens Lekman - 'The Opposite Of Hallelujah' (2007)
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I'm really paddling in the shallow waters of this music, nervily unsure as to where to take the plunge, so helpful advice from some of you more experienced swimmers out there would be eminently groovy.
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[Jens' website here]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thoro In The Boros


Your Monday heartstarter for this week - the Beasties' unexpectedly affecting and, best of all, pointedly inclusive celebration of their home city, from the album 'To The 5 Boroughs'.

It's a long way from the frat brat schtick of 'No Sleep Till Brooklyn' - and all the better for it.

Failed to chart as a single in the US though, oddly...

The Beastie Boys - 'An Open Letter To NYC' (2004)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Et Pour Le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg...


Mais oui - it's the lovely Vicky Leandros.

Someone for whom I know a few of you still carry une petite torche...

This was her first Eurovision entry for Luxembourg, in 1967 - the year Sandie Shaw won for the UK with 'Puppet On A String'.

Vicky came 4th; but as I'm sure even Sandie would agree, this was the better song - and it went on to be a huge international hit, and one of the most covered Eurovision songs of all time. So there.

Do you like Vicky in that dress? I do. But I may have to have a little lie down now, for a while....

Vicky Leandros - 'L'Amour Est Bleu' (1967)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Soul Show


If you had been unlucky enough to be in St. George's Hospital, Tooting in the early 1990s, and too confused or impaired to find a proper radio station on your bedside dial, you may have stumbled upon the Friday Soul Show on Hospital Radio Nine, presented, after a fashion, by this blogger.

As you struggled in vain to alert the duty nurse to your distress, these are some of the things you may have heard....

Wilson Pickett - 'Hey Jude' (1969)
Sam & Dave - 'Soul Man' (1967)
Bobby Bland - 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' (1974)

(Whilst I packed my records away at the end of the show, the guy who did the hour after me arrived. He was a quiet, beardy man in his forties called Roger Wallace and he presented the 'album track show'. Nice.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pegged

Some good news on the iconic ancient game front though. On my recent trip to visit the Aged Ps in not-so-sunny Devon I did manage to rescue my original 70s copy of the seminal code-breaking game 'Mastermind' from the toy cupboard in the spare room before my Dad took it to the charity shop as he has done (quite rightly) with everything else from this period of my childhood.

You will recall that this classic from Invicta Plastics, Oadby, Leics (Game Of The Year 1973!) involved attemping to deduce via structured logical thought (or guessing) your opponent's combination of coloured pegs in as few tries as possible whilst he 'marked' you with little white and black pegs.

Me and my friend Brian were both quite good at it, having passed many a rainy afternoon playing it. And there are a lot of rainy afternoons in the winter in Devon, I can tell you.

Completist that I am, I also had the 'pocket' and 'word' variants: no doubt these are going for a fortune on ebay right now. Or not.

Anyway, in what I considered a marvellous generation-spanning moment last week I introduced the game to my eldest daughter, who is 8, and set her a devilishly tricky code to crack. She got it in four moves. Harrumph.

Remember this?

Furniture - 'Brilliant Mind' (1986)

[Read about the 30 years-on reunion of 'Mastermind' 'cover stars' Bill Woodward and Cecilia Fung here. No, really]

Monday, October 08, 2007

Twisted

STOP PRESS: 'A Japanese teenager has won the Rubik's Cube World Championships in Hungary's capital, Budapest, taking less than 13 seconds to finish the cult 80s puzzle' [BBC News]

Sheesh. I've had mine 25 piggin' years and I still can't bloody well do it.

Mashed

Evidently Those In The Know have been aware of this track for ages but since I am clearly Not In The Know I am afraid that it has only just come to my attention - and then only thanks to my good friend Dr. Al.
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I find it a hoot - and strangely life-affirming.
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According to Wiki there's a little Aerosmith via Eminem in the 'mash' too, aside from the obvious Travis/Oasis/Green Day. Always like a grating of nutmeg myself.
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Party Ben - 'Boulevard Of Broken Songs' (2004)
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[Lots more of this sort of thing to download at Party Ben's site, where he also reveals that he used the Eminem because he didn't have any actual Aerosmith and couldn't get any off iTunes. Bless].

Saturday, October 06, 2007

In The Beginning

I remember just two LPs. They stood leaning against the side of my parents' 'radiogram' in the front room we only sat in on Sundays and they were the copy of The Beatles' 'Help!' my 17 year old brother left behind when he went to join the Navy, and The Seekers 'Come The Day'.

Later, my Mum & Dad bought 'The Very Best Of The Seekers' too.

When I hear this music now I am instantly three again – and nothing else does that, except maybe the smell of real (pre-'smokeless') coal fires coming out of chimneys on a cold winter night.

I think I am still in love with Judith Durham, by the way.

The Seekers - 'I'll Never Find Another You' (1965)

Thanks for all the kind comments to 'Blub' x

Friday, October 05, 2007

Blub

This blog is one. I believe this is a traditional excuse for self-congratulation, big shout outs to fellow bloggers and friends, fave track re-posts, Oscar acceptance speech-type mallarkey and a picture of a frickin' cake with a candle in it.
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Yes, there is massive disappearing-up-one's-own-arse potential here.

So let's not do any of that eh? EXCEPT the thanking bit, because when I started this a year ago I thought no-one was listening and I didn't care and I thought I was some sort of 'writer' which I'm not and instead what this thing has done for me is help me make loads and loads of new friends none of whom I have actually met - although Ally and I came close when I was in Manchester but she was washing her hair that night, oh my good gawd.

So, at the risk of coming over like a Jamelia album credit (and thanx to GOD!! I LOVE U!!! THIS ALBUM'S FOR U!!!) please may I send out big thanks and kissies for 12 months of good vibes, inspiration, comments, encouragement and claptrap to, in particular...the aforementioned alleged Faithfull-lookalike, Crash (who left the first ever comment), Darcy, DVD (please start blogging yourself old bean), Emmett, JC (also one this week), Lee, Liz (come back!), Matthew, Michael, Mick, Mondo, Rob, Steve and, still having his internet connection dug up, Tutu Vicar. For their often beautiful, always interesting, frequently iconoclastic and in the end just downright individual blogs also to Beth & Howard, Brent, Joe C, Monkey, peteski and The Vinyl District (but please tell us your name because we can't call you VD). Hugs too to everyone else who checks in here regularly and/or comments; please don't think I've forgotten you just because I haven't mentioned you by name.

Finally to Colin, whose 'Let's Kiss And Make Up' was the first mp3 blog I ever looked at and who still sets the standard to which I humbly aspire.

Shit. It turned in to Gwynnie at the Oscars after all.
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All rise for the blog title song.
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Bob Dylan - 'Visions Of Johanna' (live acoustic in London, 1966)
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Normal service resumed tomorrow.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Harperpost

I was interested to read over at Jude Rogers' blog that the critically-lauded harpist and (for me) strangely wailing banshee Joanna Newsom was 'supported' at her concert at the Royal Albert Hall recently by none other than Mr Roy Harper, genius poet and singer of these Isles.

Surely it should have been the other way round? i.e...trendy strange waif backs up bona fide Britfolk/rock legend at big town comeback gig??

There is no justice in the world. Obviously.

I LOVE Roy Harper.

This is the man who gave us, to name but a few...'Another Day' (think the This Mortal Coil cover is superb? And it is! Well hear his original, The Most Played Song On My iPod 2005-2007: FACT!), 'One Of Those Days In England', 'The Same Old Rock' and 'Cherishing The Lonesome', sang lead on The Floyd's 'Have A Cigar', had a whole Led Zep song dedicated to him, made Johnny Marr's favourite lost album of all time, sired a genius-in-his-own-right songwriter and guitarist AND recorded these - two of the loveliest songs for the ending of summer and the onset of autumn that you will ever hear.

That's the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band on 'Cricketer' - and they never fail to bring tears to my bloodshot eyes.

If you are hearing these songs for the first time ever, I genuinely, genuinely envy you...

Roy Harper - 'When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease' (1975)
Roy Harper - 'The Flycatcher' (1980)

[Originally from this and this; but both now available on this]

[Footnote - 'Cricketer': 'Legendary British DJ John Peel made an agreement with his producer John Walters that in the event of Peel's death, Walters would play the song. Unfortunately, Walters died in 2001, making the agreement redundant. Nevertheless, the song was still played in tribute to Peel on several radio stations after his death in 2004' - Wikipedia]

[And! Nick Harper's lovely 'Riversong' is playing over at Barefoot In The Head. Ain't I good to yooz?]

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weirder

Of course it goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway, there would have been no Korgis without 10CC. And sorry, all 'post-modern', clever clever, nudge-nudge wink-wink irony bollocks aside, I absolutely chuffing well love this. I know! It's not even an OBSCURE 10CC track! (such things must surely exist? No?). It's not a lost gem from an otherwise pants-rated album! It's not an early acoustic demo scratched out pre-fame in a barbiturate-fuelled fug! NO! It's the one, Simon Bates Our Tune spinning, solid gold FM local radio station-loving, disco-snogging classic. *sigh*

It really is true that the woman on the 'big boys don't cry' spoken word bit (Kathy Warren) was the receptionist at the recording studio, drafted in at the last minute to smoulder. Hey, but you knew that.
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Did you also know though that vocalist/guitarist Graham Gouldman was a former member of the Mockingbirds who had written hits for Jeff Beck, the Yardbirds, the Hollies and Herman's Hermits, singer/guitarist Eric Stewart was a former member of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and that they originally got together with studio musos Lol Creme and Kevin Godley in 1970 as a session band called Hotlegs and had a surprise hit with "Neanderthal Man" ?
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Did you WANT to?
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You didn't? Tchh! Indie kid!
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10CC - 'I'm Not In Love' (1975)
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Go on, 'save target as' - you know you want to.
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(Time for my medication. Draw the curtains. It's OK. I'll be fine).