It’s been a good old while since I posted anything by gothic-country outfit The Handsome Family, so here, by way of the shortest post ever, is me rectifying that:
It’s been a good old while since I posted anything by gothic-country outfit The Handsome Family, so here, by way of the shortest post ever, is me rectifying that:
I can’t quite recall why I’ve had this song on my brain all week – I think a different cover version much have popped in something I watched, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it was.
Anyway, whatever it was, it made me want to revisit not the original, but this cover, by the late great Man In Black, from Volume IV (or 4, if you prefer) of his Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings series, which is just perfect for some late night introspection:
Posting Silence by Delerium the other week had these old knees yearning for the days when I was young and thin enough to go clubbing, so I started digging out some of the old tunes I used to love hearing when I was out.
I realised – or, rather, I recalled, as I must have noticed this at the time – that often the crowd pleasing moment of any tune was the breakdown; that part of a club record where it suddenly goes quiet before it all either comes crashing back in again, or the bpm is reintroduced, increased in tempo along with the decibels until it all…er…comes crashing back in again.
I have never felt so old as I just did trying to explain that, when I could have just said “You know: the quiet bit about 2/3 of the way through”.
Anyway, I say ‘I must have noticed this at the time’ because I once bought one of those “100 Best Anthems…Ever…!” type compilation albums, only this one was called something like “The Greatest Trance Breakdowns….Ever..!”
Sadly, it was a document of hypnotist shows which had gone wrong, but it was awful.
Not because the tune selection was poor, nor was the mixing so bad as to make one of Friday Night Music Club mixes sound like John Digweed had done. Oh no.
It was so awful because all you got from each tune was the breakdown section; no sooner had one finished, then it got mixed into the build-up to the next. All context, all life, was sucked out of each and every one.
Thankfully, I was unable to locate the CD in question. I think I may have skimmed it into a lake so that it never accosted my ears again.
When I first started writing this now-resurrected series (and that’s what it is like it or not), the idea was that I would write about some of the fun times I had in my clubbing days. But for what I guess I should call “legal reasons” I can’t really continue with those, since pretty much every story involves the people involved having their nights, shall we say, “chemically enhanced” in one (often not legal) way or another.
Giving them pseudonyms to protect their identity only stretches so far; there’s one guy who I would love to write at least one post about, but he was only known by his nickname, which related to his stature. I could flick through a thesaurus and find an equivalent, but anyone who was out clubbing in the same era as we were would undoubtedly recognise him.
He’s a police officer now, so would probably prefer not to be identified in this manner.
So instead of a story (although they will doubtless crop up from time to time, where false names, or those who have given permission to use their real ones, are the only ones involved), I thought I’d simply feature some my favourite tunes which have majestic breakdowns in them.
Starting with this one.
Now in it’s normal guise, this is by no stretch of the imagination my favourite, or even one of my favourite, New Order tunes. But in the remixing hands of Lee Coombs, it becomes a majestic thing of beauty, especially the breakdown.
The first time I heard it was also the only time I ever heard this being played out, at Cardiff’s now defunct Emporium, the greatest club I ever went to (and we went there a lot), for reasons which I will go into another time (yes, I know I keep promising this whenever I mention the place).
But alas, non-plussed with the choice of New Order track the DJ had chosen, I was making my way away from the dancefloor when the breakdown kicked in; there’s a twinkly piano motif which made my spine tingle and I wished I was still out there amongst the hedonists, savouring the moment.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when, to quote Hel’s wedding speech, I buy a bargain bucket of KFC, drink pints of White Russians, and sit in my
pyjamas lounge wear watching the rest of Europe make jolly entertaining, if awful, records before they vote the UK into oblivion and beyond. Again.
(I will also be following along on Twitter, which, if you’ve never done before I can heartily recommend: imagine everyone in the world making jokes about the same thing at the same time. It’s great fun!)
Unfortunately, Russia doesn’t compete in this, or we might not find ourselves bottom in the popularity stakes at the end of the night yet again, once the impenetrable voting process has completed.
Similarly, Ukraine is tipped to win, not because of the quality of their entry, but as a show of solidarity against them pesky Ruskies.
And that’s fine by me; since former Eurovision coverage for the UK God Terry Wogan sadly passed away, it’s nice to have some constants, even if it is the UK coming last or as close to last as to make no real difference.
There’s also the nod that current host Graham Norton always gives to his predecessor: “For those who aren’t aware song number nine is famous because Sir Terry always warned me not to have anything to drink until that point. During song number nine this year…[as always] I will be encouraging everyone to raise a glass.”
So what to post this year, to mark the evening? Well, I could go for the obvious and post the fictional entry by Father Ted, as I did back here; or, not for the first time, post what is to my mind The Greatest Song to Enter But Not Win Eurovision (also here – same link, though I could have chosen one of many other times it’s featured here), but I thought perhaps this year I should feature a different old UK entry I really liked at the time.
I first became aware of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976, when the UK entry Save Your Kisses for Me by Brotherhood of Man stormed to victory. I remember Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran’s entry the following year, Rock Bottom, and loved them both at the time, blissfully unaware of the kitsch points I was inadvertently accruing.
But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that I was properly hooked and let’s be honest, it was the skirt ripping antics of Bucks Fizz which caught my attention (along with a catchy as hell tune which not only went and won the ruddy thing, but had me, as I have mentioned before, filling up a C90 cassette tape with the same song, taped from the radio whenever it came on and I was close enough to press Play and Record at the same time).
Indeed, the early 1980s was a period rich with great (in context) UK entries; Bucks Fizz in 1981; The Greatest Song to Enter But Not Win Eurovision (Bardo) in 1982, Belle and the Devotions in 1984.
Weirdly, I have no recollection of 1983’s entry, Sweet Dreams performing I’m Never Giving Up. I think I must have shunned this as being just a bit two derivative of the entries from the previous two years: where the Fizz had two guys and two girls, and where Bardo had just a girl and a guy, Sweet Dreams had one guy and two girls. Where The Fizz had their frankly thrilling skirt-ripping dance routine, Sweet Dreams had some bar-stools and girls in aerobics-workout headbands. And the guy from Sweet Dreams appeared to be some weird morphing of the Fizz’s Bobby Gee and Mike Nolan (and no, I didn’t have to look them up to check their names).
I have looked Sweet Dreams up when researching this post though (yes, again, it does happen), and listening to it now I’m kinda surprised I didn’t like it at the time, although it is very clear whoever was selecting our entrants were merely looking to recreate the success of Bucks Fizz.
Have a look for yourself:
I mean, it’s a travesty that that finished higher than Bardo did the year before.
By the way, I was even more surprised to learn that in 1979 our entry was by none other than Black Lace, they of Agadoo fame. Needless to say, I have not investigated further. Even my dubious taste has limits.
And so to 1984, and our entry, Love Games by Belle and The Devotions. I’ll be honest, although I really liked it at the time, it probably wouldn’t be getting a mention here were it not for a TV show I stumbled across the other day.
Flicking through the channels, trying to find something to watch before I could put off bedtime no longer, I found one of those “…When (Some TV show format) Went Horribly Wrong” shows, and with one eye on tonight’s activities, those brackets were filled with the word ‘Eurovision’.
Now, other than some shonky links and piss-poor performances – I’m looking at you, Jemini, with your off-key delivery and your guy with a Conference League footballer’s haircut:
…I wasn’t particularly aware of any controversy surrounding the UK’s entry from 1984 until I watched this show, and they pointed out that Belle and her Devotions’ performance on the night was met with boos at its conclusion:
Online, the major theory for this was that the song was more than just evocative of the Motown sound, it was a downright rip off of The Supremes’ Baby Love. Judge for yourself:
I mean, it’s similar stylistically, an obvious Motown homage, but the same as…? I don’t think so.
But there was a further reason: apparently it emerged during rehearsals that a backing trio, hidden off-camera, were doing the majority of the backing singing, while the microphones of Devotions Sofeld and James were not even switched on. Which may well explain why they spent most of the performance with their backs to the audience. Who did they think they were, The Jesus & Mary Chain??
If you watch that clip again, right at the start, on the left, you can see some people wo certainly appear to be singing, just off stage.
In the TV show I watched, Belle and her Devotions explained it all away thusly: Eurovision rules were that you could have up to six backing singers performing, and you could place them anywhere. As the act were known for being a threesome, they elected to have their three permitted backing singers off stage.
Do we buy that, dear reader?
This is where Brexit took root, the moment when we began to show a flagrant disregard for them rules what them unelected Eurocrats tried to impose on us, and I’m damned proud of Our Girls for sticking it to Johnny Foreigner.
Love Games should be sung at the Last Night of the Proms instead of Rule Brittania, and Nigel Farage should be forced to have the words Love and Games tattooed on each arse cheek in a nod to where his pseudo-patriotism stems from.
Boris would too, if he didn’t already have the words Oven and Ready tattooed there (actually, he has ven on the right cheek and Ready on the Left, both upside down, so he has to stand on his head in order that it reads properly). The job of tattooing the PM’s buttocks didn’t go out to tender, but was hurried through a VIP lane, where one Dido Harding was awarded the gig, despite having zero experience in the art of the needle, but she does have the experience of being married to a Tory MP, which will do just as well.
Got there eventually.
Hope those images don’t spoil your night.
Here we are again, and this week, as ‘promised’ a completely new mix for your Friday Night enjoyment.
Not much to say about this one (man alive, I know how to pitch!), except to say that after the first track, it goes a little bit Radio 2 for a few songs (which is no bad thing in my book), before diving head-long into a right old Indie disco, starting off over in the USA (and mostly New York) before switching to some tunes which are unmistakeably British, along with a rip-roaring final track to bring matters to a close.
Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (there’s one biggie in the first tune, but other than that it seems to have behaved itself this time); any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine.
And here’s your track-listing:
Long-term readers should not read anything into the inclusion of the third tune. It’s not coming back.
This morning, for your delectation, a tune from an album I stumbled across last year.
Here’s what Omnivore Recordings (who released the album today’s tune is from) had to say about it:
“When Buck Owens took over co-hosting duties on Hee Haw in 1969, he brought along singer Susan Raye who he had also featured on his earlier television program The Buck Owens Ranch Show. As Buck’s popularity reached a new audience, the hits kept coming including hits for other artists associated with Buck, and Susan Raye emerged as a viable county artist in her own right. With 3 Top hits of her own in 1971, she certainly had her fans, but in addition to her solo work, she also recorded multiple albums with Buck in the first half of the decade.
Together Again collects 22 tracks released between 1970–1975, the five years in which both Buck & Susan released a dozen solo albums each plus 5 duet albums together. To say they were both prolific is obviously an understatement! Deep cuts from Susan coupled with Buck & Susan hits like The Great White Horse, “Togetherness,” and “Love Is Strange” make for a unique and satisfying overview of the couples’ work together. Compiled and Produced for Release by Grammy-winner Cheryl Pawelski and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Michael Graves, Together Again’s packaging features photos, ephemera, and new liner notes from Grammy-nominated writer Randy Poe (Buck Em! The Autobiography Of Buck Owens.) Together Again is more than a document of the last five years of Buck’s classic reign at Capitol Records, it’s also the story of the beginnings of another country music superstar—Susan Raye.”
And I would say two things:
Anyway, here’s a little something from the pairs’ Together Again album; it’s rather great even if it is a bit “samey”, by which I mean: if you spread this across a whole album, it does become pretty tiresome after a while.
I’ll leave y’all to have your say about this:
A few weeks ago, I posted a tune by the mighty FC Kahuna which featured chief Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys on guest vocals.
And here he is again, popping up on the opening track from Simian Mobile Disco’s wonderful 2009 album, Temporary Pleasures:
And so my efforts to resurrect some old series that I used to write, but have somehow fallen by the way-side, continues with one of my favourite records ever.
Other than the track that the title of this series is taken from (Billy Bragg’s The Saturday Boy, in case you didn’t know), I can’t think of a song which sits better here, where I feature a song where somebody is infatuated with somebody, but that person is just not interested.
Think back to your teenage years: we’ve all been there, right? I’ve got a list as long as Inspector Gadget’s arms after a long session on the rack, if I’m totally honest. But let’s not open that can of worms again. Not until a few more of them have died, anyway. That’s my plan: out-live them so I can slag them off here.
Today’s song came up on my iPod shuffle the other day, and it led me to seek out what I had written about it when it had featured in this series as it surely must have. Surely.
And I checked. And it hadn’t.
And then I also remembered that back in September 2019, my dearest friend Richie and I went to see this band play at the legendary 100 Club in That London, supporting The Chesterfields, a band who we had both loved way back when we were actually Indie Kids, as opposed to the fatter (me) wrinklier (also me), balder (yup, me too), greyer (ah-ha! both of us! Although, some 40 years on, it’s astonishing how little Richie has changed; I must check his attic for an aging portrait) middle-aged men we now are.
I was going to write about that gig here sometime – there were four acts on the bill, occasional-Blue Aeroplane Rodney Allen, and Japanese duo Da-Nichi making up the quartet of acts, plus Johnny Dee (of The Chesterfield’s Ask Johnny Dee fame) DJ’ing in between acts – but, other than relating an embarrassing moment that I wandered into before the gig had even started, I’ve not got round to it yet. I promised at the time that I would “…get round to writing something about the gig itself at some point, I promise…” and I will, but not now, although I will relate another tale from that night.
Today’s band, The Waltones, had finished their set, The Chesterfields are on, and Richie and I have positioned ourselves three or four rows back from centre stage, as close to the middle as the pillars in the room will allow. We haven’t yet got to the point where dancing has commenced, but it is the point where many men and women of a certain age were staring at the stage, all smiling, as we watched a band that we genuinely never thought we would see perform live again (or, for Richie and I, for the first time). I’ll explain the very sad reason for that – which I wasn’t aware of until that night – another time too.
Anyway, I’m standing there, surveying the crowd and admiring just how loving and ruddy happy everyone looked, feeling like I had found my people and that I finally belonged, when I realise I am standing next to James Knox.
Yes, THE James Knox.
James Knox. Lead singer with The Waltones. Yes, THAT James Knox.
Now. I have written before about how, on the rare occasion that I bump into a celebrity in daytime, normal life, I prefer not to bother them. Catch their eye, give them a knowing smile or nod (so that they know that I know who they are, and I have chosen to leave them be), but ultimately, let them go about their day uninterrupted.
But this is different. I am standing next to someone who has just played at a gig I am currently at. I have thoroughly enjoyed their set. And, of course, they played one of my favourite songs in the world.
The rules are different.
I simply have to say something.
I turn to Richie and whisper in his ear “Look who I’m standing next to!”
Richie looks, and recognises him, but to be fair, I think he may have struggled had he not just watched this bloke sing a bunch of songs.
“Should I say something….?” I continued.
I had been bugging Richie for a good while about how excited I was to see The Waltones live, because of today’s song. He knew how much that song means to me, because I pretty much hadn’t shut up about it since I found out they were one of the support acts that night.
“I think you have to,” Richie responded.
So what to say? I had to think of something, fast, before he moved away from my immediate vicinity. There would be little worse than if, having finally composed something to say, I turned to find he had moved, and then I had to hunt him down to deliver my platitude.
I landed on (something like) this: “Hi. I just wanted to say thank you for playing tonight. I never got to see you first time around, so tonight is an absolute treat. She Looks Right Through Me is one of my favourite records ever, so to finally see you guys play it live is just…”
I ran it through in my mind several times, to make sure it didn’t sound weird or like I’ll be going through his bins later, and satisfied I had the tone right I turned to him and said:
“Hi. I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t say hi. Hi and thanks. Thanks for She Looks Right Through Me. And hi for being here. I love being here. Thank you. For playing tonight. Thank you. And for that record. For both. For the record and for being here. Thank you. Great to see you. Thank you all of you. What a treat!” Pause…then mwah! (the chef’s kiss).
He looks back at me, quizzically.
“Sorry, what did you say?” he asks, like I wasn’t a nutter.
I realise that not only have I not stuck to the plan, I have spoken it at a million miles an hour, and I’ve mumbled it inaudibly like a serial killer.
“I said: I’d be kicking myself forever if I didn’t say hello, but I just wanted to say thank you for playing tonight. I never got to see you first time around, so tonight is an absolute treat. She Looks Right Through Me is one of my favourite records ever, so to finally see you guys play it live is just…”
And I do the chef’s kiss thing.
Thankfully, he heard me this time, smiled, laughed and thanked me.
“I like your t-shirt”, he continued.
Bloody hell, I thought. This has developed into an actual two-way conversation that I was neither expecting nor prepared for.
I looked down. I was wearing this:
I’ve mentioned this t-shirt on these pages before; it’s generally my gig-going t-shirt, and I wear it as a kind of joke about my ever-expanding waistline. Many of you will recognise it as the t-shirt representation of this toy from the 70s:
“My missus told me to wear all black tonight, she says it’s slimming,” he continued.
“Ah, that’s where me and her differ: I say embrace the middle-aged spread!” I breathed out to accentuate it, and patted my belly satisfactorily. “But then again, I wasn’t up on stage tonight, so that’s easy for me to say. You should have married me.”
“Well, it suits you,” he said, laughing.
“Anyway, I won’t bother you any longer,” I concluded, realising I had just said the most psychopathic, stalkerish thing it’s possible to say, even if it was meant in jest, “but, just: cheers.”
And that was it. By the time I had turned to Richie and mouthed “I’m chatting to him!” and turned back, he was gone, probably and quite rightly wanting to return to the safe enclave of his own bandmates. Can’t say I blame him, I would have been struggling to keep the conversation alive for much longer.
Anyway, I first heard today’s tune on a compilation album called Bananas!, which I’ve always wanted to write about, but there really is no point as it was covered much more efficiently than I could ever muster over at Football and Music.
And I was smitten from the moment I heard it, and still love it today as much as I did when I first clapped ears on it. I never tire of hearing it, and I don’t think there’s a greater testament you can pay to a record than that.
You’ll probably hate it now I’ve written all that:
It’s only Friday again, and, even though it’s not actually a Bank Holiday weekend, there’s plenty to celebrate, with the Tories taking an absolute shoeing at yesterday’s local election results, losing hundreds of seats across the country.
Sure, these were local elections rather than a General one, so many of these can probably be seen as ‘protest votes’, a fact that did not escape the attention of Conservative candidates in some regions, who resorted to having their party name listed as “Local Conservatives” on the ballot paper, in an effort to distance themselves from the bunch of crooks, wasters and philanderers currently in Government…
…but there’s been so little to be happy rather than angry about for a good while now, tonight’s mix – entirely non-political, in case you were concerned – lands at just the right time.
For tonight sees the posting of the second and final part of the previously-available-as-one-long-mix which I only made available via Soundcloud (an experiment I soon got bored of), and it’s a beauty. There have been some tweaks in the running order since it’s last incarnation, as well as some changes in the songs included, but it gives y’all the chance to shake your booty to some top-notch pop records.
If I may pinch a title from Drew at the much missed Across the Kitchen Table blog: “It’s Friday….Let’s Dance”! (And if dancing on a Friday night is good enough for Drew and The Dude, then it’s good enough for you too):
Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (and there are a few, sorry!); any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine (and this last bit is especially relevant, for when I say “some top-notch pop records” I mean there’s some cheesy-but-great 70s and 80s stuff in this one…I stand by their inclusion, 100%. You trust me by now, right? Right…..???)
Good. Off we go then:
And here’s your track-listing (look away now if you want to avoid spoilers):
Next week: an entirely new, never been heard before mix, you lucky people.
Or, to put it another way: more soon.
It’s a Bank Holiday (again) here in the UK, so (and again, with apologies to those who do have to work today) there’s no need for the usual New Mood on Monday post today.
Instead: a while ago, I briefly had a series on here called Art (I say brief: 2 posts in total is probably beyond brief) where I talked about some of the various pop culture references which adorn my walls – predominantly, but not exclusively, prints of album covers I love.
Since I’ve moved home though, I found the need to buy something my old flat never had – a doormat. But I didn’t want just any old doormat – I wanted something which fitted in with the pop culture feel of the stuff that covered the rest of the house. ‘I have pop culture references on the walls, so why not the floor too?’, I reasoned to nobody but myself. (Regular readers will be aware that pop culture is not just limited to the walls in my pad, for I own a pair of these, courtesy of my brother. I bought him a Sisters of Mercy clock for Christmas, but there’s not a song about that, so it’s not nearly as clever.)
So the search began, but nothing I found fitted the criteria, all too bland, or too “nice” and a bit too welcoming. No, I wanted a doormat which reflected my personality and, more specifically, my love of music.
And then I stumbled upon a place who do bespoke doormats; just send them what you wanted to have printed on it, and they would oblige, stamping your design on to the bristly little dog-dirt wiping bugger.
But now, faced with this blank canvas, I had to decide what should decorate this otherwise bland household item.
At first, I toyed with the idea of having the blog’s DJing Elvis logo on it, but wasn’t convinced a picture would come out so well on such a canvas, so I rejected that idea.
Words, that was what was needed. Something to replace the “Welcome” one normally finds on such things.
My next thought was to get one with the word “Binky” written on it, in reference to this tune, from (arguably) R.E.M.’s last if-not-great-then-at-least-pretty-good album:
Knowing how much I love R.E.M., you’ll be surprised to learn I rejected this idea too.
Instead, I plumped for a reference to this old skool banger:
And here’s the frankly ruddy marvellous cover from Klaxons – 2007’s Mercury prize winning, next big thing (and promptly never heard of again) – which, if I’m totally honest, I prefer to the original:
All of which means that in the unlikely event that anyone ever visits, this is what they will see when I open the door (with apostrophes in the right place):
Yes, you’re right: I am cool, aren’t I?
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