Friday, February 29, 2008

The Friday Post Is Brought To You Today...

....by Messrs Floyd, Cropper, Jones, Jackson & Dunn, The Memphis Horns and the word 'SOUL'.

Eddie Floyd - 'Big Bird' (1968)

You know your Friday night starts here.

We Wants Him Back

One of the things on Mrs H's birthday list for Tuesday was a copy of Michael Jackson's Thriller and despite my best efforts to track the regular CD down ('Don't have any in at the moment'), I ended up getting her the all-new super sparkly record company profit-margin enhancing 25th anniversary commemorative DVD and bonus track-including gold letter-boasting remastered ooby-dooby.

This has occasioned great debate in our household, most of it led by my eldest daughter (8 and a half) and starting with her innocent assertion on perusing the famous cover that she (had) 'thought Michael Jackson was white'.

And why shouldn't she?

She and her sister belong to an entire generation who have grown up with an image of this man as a strange, Max Factored freak; a Willy Wonka-like weirdo who's in the news from time to time for strange parenting behaviour, complicated things involving money (or the lack of it) and sinister accusations relating to little children.

I mean, why would Mummy want a record by him?

Then we showed them this...







Quite rightly, they were rather impressed.

Now you and I know that Thriller is not even that good an album - for every 'Billie Jean' or 'Wanna Be Starting Something' there's a Macca duffer or 'Lady In My Life' (and I've never liked 'Beat It' much either) - but, call me a sentimental old fool if you will, it is a source of no small pride to me this week that in a tiny way two little girls have started to learn a little about how it used to be...

And hey! They've still got Off The Wall, 'ABC' and this to come....


Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Case Of Mistaken Identity

According to my Last FM thingy, in the last hour I have played tracks by Avantasia, Jonathan Larson, Danny Elfman and, horror of horrors, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

This is news to me, since I do not own music by any of these people, so it is at once a falsehood, a scary technical development (Last FM is supposed to link straight to your iTunes) and in the case of the Lloyd Webber, surely a deeply defamatory assertion likely to compromise my good reputation.

Curse of curses, I can't even delete this stuff from my 'Recent Tracks' list for the moment. (I have now - phew)

Has anyone else had this happen?

And if it were to, what would be the worst artist Last FM could ascribe to your listening pleasure?

Colin Newman - 'Not Me' (1980) (from this)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Late Night, Early Morn

This is a vinyl rip from a record I bought when I was just 18 years old. I like it that, so young, I was listening to stuff like this.

I'm 42 now, love it even more.
Billie - she was gone at 44.

Billie Holiday - 'Good Morning Heartache' (1946)

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Quiet One

The wife's favourite Beatle would have been 65 today. By way of tribute, and in celebration of her own birthday tomorrow (these Pisceans stick together you know) here's a track from 1974's Dark Horse album.
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The original's on one of Mrs H's LPs we rescued from the loft last week, and it's a song I'd never heard until she asked me to play it on Friday.
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I like it that you can be with someone for sixteen years and they can still play you old music that's new to you.
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Nice 'dedication' to Frank Sinatra at the start of this (and some nifty electric piano from Billy Preston)...
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George Harrison - 'Far East Man' (1974)

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Friday Night! They Think It's Moroder!!


...it is now.

Donna Summer - 'I Feel Love' (12" version) (1977)

From the year, as Mondo has rightly pointed out, that also gave us Star Wars, skateboards, 'God Save The Queen' and, may I add, the mighty Saturday Night Fever.

Your Friday night really does start here you know.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Break Spotter Blog Tennis - Second Set

Brave Mistress Ally's been out there in all weathers pluckily break-spotting for us this week with only her hard-boiled egg sandwiches and lemon squash to keep her company, and gawd bless her she's reminded me, as if I needed it, that De La Soul's Three Feet High & Rising is a happy hip-hoppy corker and no mistake. I'm not persuaded to buy any Hall & Oates though, but perhaps that's as it should be.

This is one from the loft.

I liked it then because it was a kind of hip-hop love song, and so - unusual. Still do, for similar reasons. I understand it is now, like, Old Skool rare, and so kickin', ILL - know wot I meeean??

There's a Ghost Of Electricity Virtual Big Gold Badge going out to the first of you who can name the sample (but no Googling...at the end of the day, you're only cheating yourself).

King Sun-D.Moet - 'Hey Love' (1987)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Too Pretty To Be Blue


"Of his many European tours, the most successful ever undertaken by Duke Ellington began early in 1963 during the worst winter in a hundred years. Foot-stamping queues, packed, enthusiastic houses and newspaper superlatives were the rule, and a crowded itinerary was somehow fulfilled as Duke and his men flew in and out of frozen airfields. Duke also found time to realise a long-standing ambition; to record those of his extended works which had been orchestrated for his own band and symphony orchestra"

"Duke Ellington arrived in Milan early one February morning to discover that the musicians of the La Scala Orchestra would be available to him for only two hours at 5pm. He had to write something that would not need much rehearsal and would take as little time as possible to record. He picked up his pencil at 10am and wrote this piece"

[from the LP sleeve notes by Stanley Dance]

In the unlikely event that there is a Heaven, and in the even unlikelier event that they will let me in it, this will be playing there.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - 'La Scala, She Too Pretty To Be Blue' (1963)

Monday, February 18, 2008

On The Ninetieth Floor

There has been a quite spectacular sunset over South West London tonight but sadly the view from my window is not quite up to this one (I can see into him behind's kitchen mind) .

I've really been enjoying this song though, from 1990's Red, Hot + Blue AIDS benefit compilation of 'contemporary artists performing classic Cole Porter songs'.

I think what I like about this is 1) it's not such a famous Cole Porter song that it's been played and covered to death 2) it has the sheen, wit and inner core of heartbreak (c) of his very best work and 3) La Stansfield does it with a big band - boy am I a sucker for a big band.

Since I ripped this the other day I haven't been able to get it out of my head (I even dreamt it last night, but then I was somewhat the worse for the Macon Villages) so in my time honoured fashion with such things, I am determined to share it now with you.

Lisa Stansfield - 'Down In The Depths (On The Ninetieth Floor)' (1990)

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POSTSCRIPT : As an added bonus, here's the smoky blue Blossom Dearie version (instrumental) available on this.

Blossom Dearie - 'Down In The Depths (On The Ninetieth Floor)' (1954)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yeah Baby


It's more funky than it's crackly honey.

Detroit Emeralds - 'Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)' (1972)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meanwhile...

An Old Fave Rave

So... The Clash had reggae and The Jam had soul....and in the face of what I would imagine (and you can partly hear) was a not entirely Tamla Motown-supportive crowd at the 100 Club in September 1977, the band let rip with the old soul numbers as encore.

What it lacks in the finesse of Ms D. Ross and Mr A. Conley it attempts to make up for in sheer old gutsy working class Surrey, er...SPUNK.

In short, 'here's a tune you might know'...

The Jam - 'Sweet Soul Music/Back In My Arms Again/Bricks & Mortar' (live at the 100 Club 11.09.77)

Rise Again

An exciting new era begins here today, er possibly, for I have at last worked out how to 'rip' vinyl to MP3. So I'll be up to the loft in a minute to have a dusty rummage for those lost 12 inch singles...

This one has definitely not been gathering dust under my drafty eaves however, oh no, but resting safe and sound and grime and heat-proofed in my nice shiny silver record box, for it is a treasure.

I worked with a guy once who was crazy, crazy into early House music when most of us were still listening to the Jesus & Mary Chain; he did me a tape (of course) and this was the first thing on it and I loved it from the moment I heard it. I went straight out and bought it.

Do all great dance records need an inner core of heartbreak? Oh I think so. I gotta dance to keep from crying after all. And like the man said, the blues is about getting outside of the blues. And House came from disco, and disco was made for people who knew all about heartache and hard times and getting glammed up on a Friday and Saturday night and hitting the floor to forget them both.

I bloody love this record - can't fault any of it, but the stunning vocal from Billie Ray Martin deserves a special mention.

Sure nuff your Friday night starts here.

Electribe 101 - 'Tell Me When The Fever Ended' (12") (1989)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A London Life


If life is a complex, high byte and multilayered File, this week mine feels like it went to auto-compress with too much Content wedged into Too Few Days - the Youngest Daughter's Birthday, earlier dolly shopping for same (!), more work mallarkey and then yesterday the unwanted news of the death of an old friend. No, it's OK - an OLD friend (aged 86) and mercifully quickly, suddenly, too, but still sad (very) and I am trawling down to Devon for the funeral tomorrow and back in the same day because I have stuff in London on Friday and can't stay over with the Aged Ps.

You would have loved Nellie. She was born, grew up and raised a family in a terraced house in Chiswick, West London - back before it was all Sofa Workshops and Starbucks around there. Her husband Charlie was a clippie on the buses and she was a good Mum and a party girl - loved the dancing and the good times and a whisky with water (never ice) and had the best laugh and the filthiest sense of humour you ever heard. She knew all the pubs West and South West of town I still go to and many more besides that they've pulled down and paved over since. She liked her bingo.

I'd never have met her if she hadn't have retired with Charlie to Devon, and then too early he died, she was on her own - but her son moved down too and then there was family, and lots of friends at the Community Centre, including Mr & Mrs H (senior). She would proudly and resolutely stand her own rounds, laugh her wonderful laugh, tell tall tales of 40s Chiswick in her 40s Chiswick voice, squeeze my twentysomething year old self tight round the arm on the way back home at chucking out time and, definitely, definitely, definitely never Act Her Age. An example, I'm sure you will agree, to us all.

I shall miss her a lot.

I wondered if Noel Coward might be a bit posh for Nellie - but you know, all that was fake, he was a humble boy really; and I think she would appreciate the sentiments of this...

Gawd bless you darlin'.

Noel Coward - 'London Pride' (1941)

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Mood, A Time, A Place

I would take this to my desert island.
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For Colin, who wanted a sad song.
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Tracey Thorn - 'Seascape' (1982)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Yeah Baby

I was really lovin' you....

Quincy Jones - 'Body Heat' (1974)
Minnie Riperton - 'Inside My Love' (1975)
Marvin Gaye - 'Soon I'll Be Loving You Again' (1976)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Meanwhile....

'The Time For Action' (2nd October 1979)

Naughty Alan's strict Dad looked like the bloke in the Bisto ads, but there the similarity ended. He had no discernible sense of humour, an inflated sense of his own moral superiority and ran a Repressive Parental Regime (I actually think his kids called him 'sir'); and so naturally Alan, who was really just a bit cheeky to begin with, rebelled big time when he hit adolescence and turned to a life of crime.

It started with nicking singles from Woolworths (at which he proved highly adept) and went on to breaking and entering (the local off licence, if you must know). Later I think he did actually end up in prison. I remember him as a nice, strangely generous person who had the first home computer game I'd ever seen (Pong)...and, well yes, a lot of 45s....

....which meant the rest of us got to make some seriously good compilation tapes.....

Ahem.
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This is the oldest cassette in my collection; hand-labelled by a 14 year old me it is, courtesy Naughty Alan's thievery, a little time capsule of the UK chart pop of the time.

And there's no musical snobbery here (that would come later) - plastic 'mod' and synthpop and disco and new wave and B.A bloody Robertson, I borrowed and taped it all. This is the authentic sound of Top Of The Pops, UK Top 40 radio and the Friday night school disco in the autumn of 1979.
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Side 1

'The Time For Action' - Secret Affair
'Strut Your Funky Stuff' - Frantique
'Message In A Bottle' - The Police
'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' - Michael Jackson
'Dreaming' - Blondie
'Ooh! What A Life' - The Gibson Brothers
'Back Of My Hand' - The Jags
'Street Life' - The Crusaders
'Cruel To Be Kind' - Nick Lowe
'Beat The Clock' - Sparks
'Is She Really Going Out With Him?' - Joe Jackson
'Contact' - Edwin Starr
'Angel Eyes' - Roxy Music

Side 2

'The Eton Rifles' - The Jam
'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' - Queen
'Video Killed The Radio Star' - The Buggles
'Cars' - Gary Numan
'I Want Your Love' - Chic
'Oliver's Army' - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
'Making Plans For Nigel' - XTC
'Diamond Smiles' - The Boomtown Rats
'Knocked It Off' - B.A Robertson
'Let Your Heart Dance' - Secret Affair
'Since You Been Gone' - Rainbow
'Angeleyes' - ABBA.
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Will you let me off with a caution?

The 90s CD Singles Rummage # 5 - The Bluetones


By popular demand....The Bluetones first single from 1995, reissued in this format in early 96 after the success of 'Bluetonic' and a cracking guitar-pop record that reached a rather spectacular number 2 position in the UK singles chart.

The kind of song you played over and over again when you first bought and felt the need to evangelise about to others.

Indeed, there was a big buzz about these guys at the time; NME hack hysteria and widespread plaudits for the seriously melodious debut album, which rather charmingly opened with the sound of jets roaring in to Heathrow Airport (the band are from Hounslow).

Nice. And they're still going too.

The Bluetones - 'Slight Return' (1995)
The Bluetones - 'Don't Stand Me Down' (1996)
The Bluetones - 'Nae Hair On't' (1996)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Buried


I'm a bit buried in work right now. And I've gone all tiredy.

This is a shame because I wanted to tell you all about going to the King Tut exhibition at the Dome on Saturday and seeing John Cooper Clark on the Jubilee Line on the way home. Also the Bruce Thomas book I've been reading which is a very funny and barely fictionalised account of his touring America with The Attractions and their nameless 'Singer' (until it goes all weird and quasi-'profound' at the end). But I've no time and less energy - I am a toiling lackey (I need the cash).

So then....something I've been enjoying of late to tide you over here from Burial (do you see what I did there?) about whose album I believe you need to say - "It's Massive Attack's Blue Lines for the dub-step generation" (don't ask me, I only read that somewhere).

Burial - 'Ghost Hardware' (2007)
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Ciao and here's to Friday x

Monday, February 04, 2008

The 90s CD Singles Rummage # 4 - The Seahorses

John Squire was the genius guitarist and Jackson Pollock-pastiching cover artist of the Very Important And Popular Stone Roses and in 1997 The Seahorses were his new band. We had great hopes of them at the time as I recall; The Roses Second Coming had been an eternity in the making and (bar about two songs) a hugely disappointing collection of flabby, sub-Led Zep indulgences, but with Squire promising punchier pop-rock with this lot, the future seemed a tad brighter.

In the end the band released just one album (the really-quite-good Do It Yourself from which this was the third single release) before splitting in 1999 whilst in the middle of sessions for the follow up. Squire went on to solo projects, none of which seemed to register on the end-of-Millennium radar. Maybe after all that Oasis mallarkey the record-buying public had had its fill of Mancs with guitars.
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I still like 'Love Me And Leave Me' (it has a certain brio to it, don't you think?) and the two other tracks are, well - pleasing enough (especially 'Falling..') and not available elsewhere.
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My favourite song of theirs though, and I'm sure you'll see why, is 'The Boy In The Picture'. It wasn't a single, but I've included it as a little bonus here because, hey, I loves ya and it's Monday.
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The Seahorses - 'Love Me And Leave Me' (1997)
The Seahorses - 'Shine' (1997)
The Seahorses - 'Falling Is Easy' (1997)
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Davy H's bonus blinder:
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The Seahorses - 'The Boy In The Picture' (1997)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Yeah Baby

Yeah baby, Sophisticated. I been watchin' you from afar little girl, you sure got the moves. Why don't you sit down right here, let me get you a cocktail. Hey bartender, make that two. So listen, have I seen you here before? Oh, this is your first time huh? Well you sure know how to groove honey, you sure know how to groove. Hey, is it me, or is it getting hot in here....?
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Freeez - 'Southern Freeez' (1981)
D Train - 'You're The One For Me' (1981)
Marvin Gaye - 'Rockin' After Midnight' (1982)
Isley Brothers - 'Between The Sheets' (1983)
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[Serving suggestion - turn up bass, play loud; make love not war].