Friday, November 30, 2007

Yes Sir



Ah, a sultry Spanish-accented vocal, lush disco strings and a lyric that deploys the oldest euphemism in pop (‘I can boogie all night long’ – I bet you can love).

They’ll have worked ages on that dance routine too.

My French pen-pal had a cassette compilation of disco classics and I’m certain this was on it, along with Donna Summer’s sublime ‘Down Deep Inside’ from 'The Deep’ (music by John Barry).

Phew. Baccara and Donna Summer moaning and Jacqueline Bisset jumping in and out of the sea in the most famous white T-shirt in movies. For me 1977 was a year of awakening - and punk rock had nothing to do with it…

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reason To Believe

I can't claim to have been a Rod Stewart fan back in the early 70s (I was really more of a Chigley fan at the time) and when I had got old enough to be buying records regularly, he'd gone rubbish disco, leopard skin & spandex and 'Sailing' (worse was to come) and was therefore the antichrist; but of course like any right-thinking person I had always acknowledged the genius of 'Maggie May' and in 1991, when it was all My Bloody Valentine and Catherine Wheel and Ride around here, I forked out somewhat controversially on this two CD set one Saturday shop in Camden, determined to finally get my head and ears around seminal early Rod.

I was 26 - coincidentally, and fittingly, the same age Rod had been when he recorded Every Picture Tells A Story.

And what treasures lay there....

I mean, I knew the bloke could sing from his work with The Faces in particular, but such great lyrics too and such fabulous playing from Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Martin Quittenton (that hallmark Rod-solo acoustic guitar sound) and others.

This is witty, heartfelt, dirty, beer-soaked Brit rock-soul played by pros who'd paid their dues, and it shows. As I get more grizzled and old, it sounds even better - and Oasis, you may keep crying your hearts out...
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Rod Stewart - 'Every Picture Tells A Story' (1971)
Rod Stewart - 'Mandolin Wind' (1971)
Rod Stewart - 'Reason To Believe' (1971)
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[The Mercury Anthology is out of print now, but this one-CD comp covers the period nicely. My favourite anti-Rod quote is from Tom Waits, who said of his cover of 'Tom Traubert's Blues' - 'If I'd have known that bastard was going to record it, I never woulda written it'].

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Songs For Dark November



We had a night drive out of London and into The Country to make on Saturday, and because I can't plug my iPo into the car stereo (why isn't this standard in all motors by now?) I decided to shove 10 songs I'm currently liking onto a rewritable CD for the journey.

It's been a while since we've had a song list here and I know how much you like one; it struck me that the tracks on this CD pretty much sum up what I'm into at the moment and taken together have that requisite sad, dark, late November feel to them.

Listing them also gives me an opportunity to thank a couple of blogger companeros for recent musical introductions (if they'll forgive me reposting their stuff) and announce my first discovery from Last FM, which I finally got going with properly last week (from now on, should you wish, you can follow what I'm playing via the Last FM widget thing on the right there in the sidebar. What larks.)

Anyhow, here's the list (or CD, if you will)...

David Sylvian - 'Darkest Dreaming' (1999)
From this. And if there's a better dark-winter-night-song, I haven't heard it.

Hooverphonic - 'Circles' (2007)
Result! A few hours after downloading the software that connects (ahem - 'scrobbles') what you're playing in iTunes to their site so they can hook you up with musical 'neighbours' Last FM introduces me to this band. Still looking to chart their landscape maaan but boy, do I love this. They're Belgian, have been around since the mid-90s, and this is from their new LP. Site here.

Catherine Howe - 'Up North' (1971)
Unspeakably gorgeous to my ears and I have the lovely Beth to thank for the introduction. There's a bit of a Vashti Bunyan story to this: former actor Howe recorded this album in 1971 on an independent label which soon after went bust - the album lay largely unheard for thirty years until recent re-release. She did have a radio hit in the mid-70s with the song 'Harry' which Terry Wogan liked a lot, but you shouldn't let that put you off. More here.

Emma Pollack - 'Paper & Glue' (2007)
I didn't have a lot of The Delgados stuff but always liked what I heard. This leapt out at me from a live session she did on Radcliffe and Maconie's prog last week.

Lucy Kaplansky - 'More Than This' (2007)
Another from Beth - and a weepie. From this.

The Killers - 'Romeo & Juliet' (2007)
I suppose that after the Springsteenisms of Sam's Town, a Knopfler cover was inevitable. From this, their Hatful Of Hollow, which perhaps Santa will bring me. Inexplicably sound - but it always was a good song, as my good friend Mart and the Tutu Vicar will surely attest.

David Sylvian - 'The Scent Of Magnolia' (1999)
I'm sort of obsessed with Sylvian right now - it's an autumn thing. This is an out-take from Dead Bees On A Cake and I have the tireless Jon at The Vinyl District to thank for bringing it to my attention.

Tom Waits- 'All The World Is Green' (2002)
Tom Waits - 'Take It With Me' (1999)
And if it's not Sylvian at the moment it's gonna be Tom. Reading this is inspiring me to plug many gaps in my Waits collection; Toad getting sentimental about 'Take It With Me' helped too... From this and this respectively, but you knew that.

The Teardrop Explodes - 'The Great Dominions' (1981)
Ah, the last and greatest track on Wilder - headphone music from when I was 16. And was it in The Guardian's 1000 albums list? Was it heck. Though Kilimanjaro was, to be fair.

That's it: total running time 45:05 - aka one side of a C90, the best compilation length of all. Go buy stuff!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Not Cool



Friday night and I'm 13 years of age - rushing my tea down (Mum's fish and chips), begging the old man for a lift: off to 2-3 Club and the school disco... and this.


I thought it thrillingly original when I first heard it - the tense little guitar and piano intro, the big-riff saxophone rush to the West Side Story finger snaps and groovy bass line, the lyrics about a world we actually lived in ('little Judy's trying to watch Top Of The Pops') the dramatic shifts in tempo and melody - and it used to go down a storm in the lights-out school hall as the Class Outsider flailed his scrawny limbs and twisted his four-foot-nothing frame into weird shapes to narrate the whole thing from the centre of the dance floor like the manic lead of some avant garde ballet troupe.

We loved it. It was an epic. It was our epic - big and dramatic and clever but (cake-and-eat it!) apparently New Wave too! Johnny Fingers wore pyjamas in the street! WILD!

Ahem.

Then we heard early Springsteen and Thin Lizzy and we started to realise that Geldof was really not much more than the sum of his influences. And seriously pre-punk (oh! the shame of it!).

And within a year or so, he was definitely uncool and Rats singles were commonly to be found in the 'reduced to 30p' box in Woolies...

Ah, the fickle fingers of fate 'n' youth.

The Boomtown Rats - 'Rat Trap' (1978)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fred Perry Knew My Father


Some of you may have formed the unfortunate impression from these pages that I am some crusty old pint-swilling nostalgist, but as I'm sure you will conclude when I share with you my current enthusiasm for this lot, I am actually a hip urban warrior who is 'down' with the 'kids'.

The Enemy - 'We'll Live And Die In These Towns' (2007)
The Enemy - 'You're Not Alone' (2007)

Blame my mate Carlos who listens to a lot of XFM.

[The Enemy's MySpace is here. Buy their stuff!]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One Of Those Days In England

Hmm... and it pissed down too.

Oh - if you find a CD with all my bank details on it, let me know eh?

The Smiths - 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' (1984)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Keeping The Faith

If you've been hanging around here for a while (and I do sympathise) you might remember an anciente poste of mine about those fabulous Fulham nearly-men The Faith Brothers.

'...they were a fabulous band, especially live - all soaring melodies, urgent brass, elatory vocals and humanistic commitment. Lead singer/writer Billy Franks was a passionate and charismatic frontman - even when long after the band's glory days (supporting The Alarm!) performing to a few hundred with his soul band in 'The Leather Bottle' pub in Wimbledon Chase'.
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A number of us remembered Billy as an excellent singer and were rather thrilled, but perhaps not too surprised, to discover that he was also a very groovy guy, prepared to offer downloads of the long out-of-print Faith Brothers albums from his personal website and asking only voluntary donations for the same.

Less happily, in a way, he was also playing free gigs on Sunday nights in a Shepherd's Bush boozer...

Well, I've very much enjoyed having The Faith Brothers back in my listening roster this year after so long (all their music I had was on lost or unplayable cassettes) and was thrilled skinny to learn this week from Billy's site that he has booked the 2000 capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire for a gig in May 2008 and is 'hoping to fill it'.

He's also uploaded more music - this time B-sides, live tracks and Radio 1 session recordings.

Here's what I think - 1) everyone who remembers the Faith Brothers or Franks' solo work with any affection should help publicise the gig - word of mouth is a powerful thing and the word of the blogosphere may be more powerful still 2) anyone within reasonable travelling distance of West London should be at it. I will! (cheers, thanks for asking, mine's a pint).

Oh, and in the unlikely event that you are a live music marketing guru with time on your hands and a philanthropic bent, perhaps you could give Billy a bell? I get the impression he's doing all this by himself at the moment...

Faith Brothers - 'Eventide (live)' (1985)
Faith Brothers - 'A Stranger On Home Ground (live)' (1985)
Faith Brothers - 'Easter Parade (early version)' (1985?)
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[this fan site isn't going to win any web design awards - but hey! it has a discography!]

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rave On Zang Tuum Tumb


Another £1 gem from the Romanian Orphans Charidee Shop. Very Saturday night at Fac 51 eh?


Sorted, top - yo a stuodent or wha'?


808 State - 'Pacific 202' (1989)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Heaven


You know, there are people who think we are foolish for having such things as 'favourite ever bass-lines' - but these people, let me tell you, are shallow.

Chic - 'I Want Your Love' (1979)

Head

Ah yes, a couple of Nurofens and a slug of Lemsip and a long hot shower and a bit of a lie down and I'll be fine.

I used to be able to sink six pints with equanimity but now it seems my ageing mortal frame is likely to protest after four, and it wasn't on an empty stomach or mixing the grape and grain or any of those other things your mother warned you about either.
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Still, the lights of the South Bank were twinkling, the company (my good friend Dr Al) was convivial and I am unable to answer the missus's 'So what's the news?' question this morning, which means we spent the evening talking about things that really matter like how good Tom Waits's One From The Heart soundtrack is, why Bob Dylan's songs are great but his albums are mostly rubbish and how men never ask for directions when they are lost but women can't tell north from south.
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And it's Friday. Have I peaked too soon?
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If I stick to the white wine tonight and knock up a half-decent DavyH prawn curry into the bargain then I guess I should make it through. It could be worse.
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Mary Gauthier - 'I Drink' (2005)
Aretha Franklin - 'Drinking Again' (1964)
Dean Martin - 'Little Ole Wine Drinker Me' (1967)
Tom Waits - 'The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)' (1976)
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[One hour later: that beer's starting to look quite tasty. Good old Lemsip]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Not Taking Things At Face Value

It was yesterday's Frida post (Happy Birthday Frida!) that set this off in the end, but it's been weighing on my mind for a while and I need to let it out.

Phil Collins has made some of the worst records I have ever heard, records so bad I would leave the room, cross the road or throw myself off of the proverbial train to avoid hearing; surely that bloody 'Against All Odds' whinge and the sputum-inducing 'Another Day In Paradise' are literally execrable and the whole chirpy cockney geezer and cuddly multi-millionaire Tory-donates-to-charidee schtick is beyond endurance - and, and, AND...! YET....
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And yet.

1. The man can play the drums (big, muscular, right-through-your-diaphragm thumping, sounds like no-one else).

2. I flipping well love quite a lot of Face Value (and I bet you do too)

3. He gave Genesis some much-needed welly when Gabriel left and they had seriously disappeared up their own harrises (they disappeared back up there again soon afterwards of course).

4. Despite a largely nonsensical lyric, this Philip Bailey track from the PC-produced album of (almost) the same name is a CORKER (a great vocal yes, but those drums! again!!) and a frequent and elatory accompaniment to our good time Friday nights.

Pah! Don't ask me to explain or justify - never explain or justify that's my motto - and please don't burden me with all that guilty pleasures mallarkey (guilty? about music? No, feel guilty about lovers betrayed and violent crimes committed against the person, not about the records you like).

But thank you for listening.

And no, Abacab isn't anywhere.

Philip Bailey - 'Walking On The Chinese Wall' (1984)

(Oh go on then, here's the drumming gorilla too).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grattis pa fodelsedagen!

That there Frida from ABBA is 62 (!) tomorrow.

Mind you, as her mother was Norwegian and her father German, perhaps I should have posted Happy Birthday in a language other than Swedish - and you'll probably tell me its incorrect anyhow, but hey! that's why I love ya.

Poor old Anni-Frid...never voted Rear Of The Year and forever Not The Blonde One (in fact she has shown a remarkable predeliction for dying her hair a range of unfortunate colours over the years) she was a pop star of some standing in Sweden before ABBA (yes! like the Blonde One!) but despite tirelessly chipping away at it in the 80s and 90s failed to crack that post-group solo career. I blame Phil Collins, for this and many other things, frankly.

I wanted to post a video clip of Frida singing 'I Wonder (Departure)' from The Album to celebrate, but no such footage is to be found on YouTube, unless we include photo-montage thingies posted by borderline psychotic "I HEART FRIDA!!!!" fans, and I really don't think we should.

So here instead is an equally cracking track from the 'Voulez Vous' album. I like to hear this of a Friday night with our in-house disco lights going, personally.

I confess it was all Agnetha, Agnetha, Agnetha for me too as a pre-adolescent tike, but in maturity I am glad to say that I have found much consolation and joy in the arms of brunettes....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wild In The Country

Your Monday heartstarter comes courtesy of my local charity shop where last week I picked this up on CD for £1.00. Less than the bus fare there! (except I walked). Don't you just love it when in amongst all the 'Uncut' magazine Playlist CDs and Dance Trax 95 compilations you find a real gem like this?

This is Roxy's fourth album and some think their finest. Tux crooner-mode Ferry shows signs of emerging from inside of the art-rock thrash but doesn't yet dominate, and the songwriting is tiptop throughout.
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Oh, and for those of you who take an interest in these things...'the supposedly 'uncredited' cover models are in fact named on the album - but not as models. They were Constanze Karoli (reportedly the sister of Can's Michael Karoli) and Eveline Grunwald, who are credited on the lyric sheet with the German translation of "Bitter-Sweet." Bryan Ferry met them in Portugal and persuaded them to do the photo shoot as well as help with the words to the song' (Wiki).

So there you go.

Roxy Music - 'All I Want Is You' (1974)
Roxy Music - 'A Really Good Time' (1974)

(Buy here - or keep trawling them charity racks...Thanks for all the comments to the 'last post' x)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Memoriam


THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved.
Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.

(Bertolt Brecht)

In memoriam all victims of war.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Two Days To Live

Don't know what it is about this Friday, maybe it's just been a hard day's night; we've done funk 'n' soul 'n' house 'n' reggae 'n' tarty 80s classix but this time only loud moddy-boy guitars'll do...

Button badges on your parkas everyone, we're off down Brighton for a rumble.

The Jam - 'Here Comes The Weekend' (1977)
The Chords - 'Maybe Tomorrow' (1979)
The Who - 'The Kids Are Alright' (1965)
The Libertines - 'Time For Heroes' (2002)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pegged (cont.)

This bloody Reader's Digest 'Mystery Gift' * peg solitaire from the 1970s that I rescued on my recent visit to the Aged Ps is driving everyone in our house to distraction.

For the uninitiated I should explain that the purpose of the game is to remove pegs by jumping them with others, checkers style (vertically and horizontally, but not diagonally) until just one peg remains - in the centre hole.

Can I do it? No dear reader, I cannot - and sadly that has been the case since I first attempted it, aged 8.

I know there'll be lots of boffins out there on the interweb who'll have posted the solution, but that's not in the spirit of the thing is it?

Can anyone actually do it without cheating?

You can have a go at it on your computer here (and there's a load of formulae for cracking it underneath, but if you use them Your God will know and Punish you).
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If you manage to do it, I hate you.

* A mystery gift was what you got when you bought mail order items from The Reader's Digest. My Dad, as we have discussed here previously, bought a lot of LP box sets. The mystery gift, though it promised so much, was almost always a piece of shite. This one is the only one we kept.

A Picasso Doodle


The story goes that in his 80s the great artist Pablo Picasso is invited onto a TV talk show. The talk show host thinks it would be a wheeze if Picasso creates a work of art during the show's live transmission. Picasso agrees. They cut to another item for a few minutes and when they return to Picasso he has completed a simple pen doodle on the paper supplied him.

'Well come off it Mr Picasso' says the talk show host. 'It's taken you maybe two minutes to do that drawing, but it would probably sell for a million dollars. How do you feel about that?'

Picasso looks him in the eye and says

'My friend, it took me 80 years to draw that'...

I feel the same about this simple sketch by a musical artist often compared to Picasso (whom he very much admired).

On the surface it's a simple instrumental version of a decent little pop song.

But listen carefully and you hear 60 years of artistry and emotion inside it.

I've posted the original too because feckit, I quite like that as well.

Miles Davis - 'Time After Time' (1985)
Cyndi Lauper - 'Time After Time' (1983)

[The Miles originally from this and the Cyndi available on this]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Words Of Advice


I put 'Carousel' on for my girls on Sunday. They watched it for a bit, then went upstairs to play.

I watched it all and ended up in pieces. Again.

Baz Luhrmann - 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen' (1999)

Material feat. William S. Burroughs - 'Words Of Advice' (1994

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sparkler

My favourite cover of my favourite song from my favourite Elvis Costello album (probably) - just for November 5th.

Did you ever have indoor fireworks when you were a kid? They were rubbish weren't they? And my mum said the house smelt of them for days afterwards. But that was probably just the old man's cigars.

Laura Cantrell - 'Indoor Fireworks' (2005)

[Generously available free from Laura - along with a number of other rarities - here]

Saturday, November 03, 2007

And On The Conveyor Belt Tonight...


'X Factor' and 'Strictly Come Dancing' ? PAH!

This is what we called Saturday night entertainment when I were a lad.

I hope he remembers that nice spice oil and vinegar rack...

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Notting Hill Set

I went to meet my very good friend Dr Al for a pint up at Notting Hill Gate recently and with lots of time to spare and a nice evening settling in, decided not to take my usual bus up there from Shepherd's Bush Green but to stay on the Hammersmith & City Line to Ladbroke Grove and make the walk up Portobello Rd.

I used to hang out in this area a fair bit - in the back room of the Earl Of Lonsdale mostly with my 'in an indie band' mates and my bought in Camden Market leather jacket, drinking pints of Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Bitter and trying to look rock and roll. Emphasis on the word 'trying'.

Realistically it is probably 15 years since I last walked those streets.

Unsurprisingly I suppose, but it still came as shock to me, the red flock wallpaper sticky-carpet corner pubs are all now chi chi bar-restaurants with covered terraces, the second-hand record shops, piercing and tattoo parlours are emporia for brightly-coloured soft furnishings, chrome table lamps and designer DAB radios and the always-on-the-edge vibe of the place, which I am not romanticising but which gave it an inner city something, has been firmly supplanted by the well-heeled and rather smug ambiance of young Cameronistas living in £3.5M Georgian terrace houses.
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I felt like I'd stepped out of the Tardis - which in a way, I had.
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May I then good people, as the soft pinko liberal nostalgist that I am, offer for your Friday night delectation three songs in honour of the W10 I kinda miss.
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And yes before you ask, I miss rickets and open sewers too.
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I Roy - 'Black Man Time' (1973)
The Clash - 'Groovy Times' (1979)
The Clash - 'One More Time' (1980)
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Play LOUD.
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[PS: All the music files on this page are now up & running again - with MediaFire]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

'And I Strive For Purity'

You know how it is sometimes, a scratchy day, scratchy times. Minor irritations, major worries; and to boot, its getting dark early. I'm sorry, has this blog been a little blue lately? I dunno.

Tonight I went out driving, just to the supermarket - load up with wine and get the ingredients for a Good Fish Pie, that always cheers me up. And I drove through the most amazing South West London suburban sunset as an Airbus A320 sliced across the sky, kind of low - on its way into Heathrow. A big, pink/golden stretched London sky, and the fumes from the MOT-failing car in front of me spewing up my air con.

Last knockings of summer, 1st of November.

This playing on the in-car CD. *sigh*

Tom Waits - 'Grapefruit Moon' (1973)

Moments like this, you know you're alive.

[That's not my picture. No camera in the car. But the sky was even pinker; you'll have to trust me on that.]

Screwed

It's Fileden's 'time of the month' again which means that because of bandwidth mallarkey the older MP3 files here won't be downloadable for a day or so. Yawnsville.

I've switched the music in all the posts since and including Pegged to the very sparkly new Mediafire hosty thingy though, which seems to be working well enough for Young Michael, so I hope your experience of it here will be satisfactory.

Meanwhile here's a little amuse bouche (also via Mediafire) to tide you over for 24 hours...

Pinch, punch, first of the month, etc.

Gorillaz - 'November Has Come' (2005)