And so here we are. Another bloody year older. At 53, I think this is the final year that I can get away with saying I’m in my early-50s. Next year, I’ll have to confess to being in my mid-50s and then….*shudders*…well, I’d rather not think about that any further, thank ou very much.
Still, better than the alternative, I guess.
Long time readers may recall that I used to mark my birthday every year by posting the same song, the one which was #1 in the UK charts on the day I was born. That record, for those a little newer round here, is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising, which I think is a pretty cool – and possibly appropriate – record to be associated with in such a way.
Inspired by a series Martin over at the ever brilliant New Amusements did a few years ago, where he discussed each song which had been #1 on his birthday each year, I decided to do something similar. Alright, something almost identical – the difference being that I’d just post one a year, on my birthday, to see how long the run of cool records being #1 on my big day could last.
Now, I must say that when I saw who this year’s record was by, my heart sank. I’m not adverse to a bit of 70s kitsch, nor oblivious to the charms of the odd teen heart-throb, but Jesus wept…David Cassidy….!
So I gave it a listen. And what do you know, it’s nowhere near as bad as I imagined.
Which is probably because I recognised it as a cover version of this, much more Scott Walker/Jacques Brel-esque version:
I think perhaps I’m trying to convince myself here. Sure, The Young Rascals version would have been preferable, or even better, the (not featured here for fear of overkill) Dusty Springfield version from 1970. But in all honesty, the David Cassidy version isn’t that bad.
I tell you what is rather galling though. On 26th September 1972, the David Cassidy version had only been #1 for two days. Had I been born even more prematurely than I actually was, on 24th September instead of 26th, then this would have been the next record in this series and I’d have been a whole lot happier:
Trying to decide what to post this week, I plumped for something by Michelle Shocked, who hasn’t featured here since February.
Next decision: which song?
So, I did a search on the blog to ascertain – and therefore rule out – those which had already featured, and I’m ashamed to say I fell into quite the rabbot-hole re-reading some of my old posts, which may sound a little egotistical (to quote the late Mac Davis from his classic Hard to be Humble: “Some folks say that I’m egotistical, hell I don’t even know what that means. I guess it has something to do with the way that I fill out my skin-tight blue jeans”), but it really wasn’t: I’m rapidly approaching my 2000th post here, and, whilst I have a pretty good idea of what songs I’ve posted before, when it comes to artists who have featured more than once, and who I really like and own a lot by, well…this old memory ain’t as great as it used to be.
Anyway, I landed on a post from 2016, which also featured Ms Shocked, and noting several comments had been left, I decided to give them a read too. And there was one from Charity Chic, author of one of my favourite blogs Charity Chic Music which I regrettably rarely have time to swing by and read these days. It’s one of the curses of writing one of these blogs – I used to spend hours each evening gleefully visiting the very long list of music blogs I used to frequent, rarely, if ever, leaving a comment or a thank you, selfish little sod that I was – but now it seems most of my spare time is taken up with writing my own. (I’m writing this on Friday night/Saturday morning and, wracked with guilt at this confession, I’ve just popped over there and was amused to see that, just as I bemoaned my failing memory earlier in this post, so has CC his in his post on Friday.)
But I digress: CC’s comment was that one particular Shocked song was his “go-to tune from that album [Short Sharp Shocked]”, so I figured I’d post that one for you, and him, today, as a little nod and apology.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that For All Our Days That Tear the Heart – the album where Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler collaborate – is pretty wonderful.
After all, we all know that Suede got a lot less interesting (and, arguably, a lot more succesful) after Butler jumped ship, and whilst we probably know Buckley better as a BAFTA (3 times) and Oscar (just the once, so far) nominated actor these days, it shouldn’t be forgotten that she first caught the public’s eye when she came second in the TV talent show I’d Do Anything, the sole purpose of which was to discover seomeone to play Nancy in the revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! In fact, she won a Laurence Olivier Award in 2021 for playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret – you know, the role that Liza Minelli famously made her own in the 1972 film version.
So, no, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that For All Our Days That Tear the Heart is pretty wonderful. What does come as a surprise is just how wonderful it is. It reminds me a lot of Laura Marling, (see also fairly recent Late Night… inductees Dot Allison and This Is The Kit, as well as much of Tracey Thorn’s solo output, who I’m surprised to find I’ve not featured here, so that’s next week’s post sorted) so if you like her/their stuff – and if you don’t, there’s probably something wrong with you – you’ll love this album.
Here’s the opening track, which sets the tone for the whole record, which you can just immerse yourself and get lost in:
Postponed from last week, as this edition is the very antithesis of a recent “indie guitars only” mix – it’s off to Da Club, and I thought some might find it disrespectful had I posted something encouraging you folks to dance on what was supposed to a very sombre weekend.
I ummd and ahhd about whether to include sleeve notes with each track, or simply write about an experience I had during my clubbing days, but I’m nowhere near drunk enough for the latter, so sleeve notes it is. Don’t worry, the story will keep for another day.
So, as this week’s playlist is one where I have to actually mix the tunes, I should probably blow the dust of the old disclaimer: any shonky mixes are down to me (listening back, it actually sounds ok, although one tune clearly ends a lot more abruptly than expected); any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software or the uploading process; all song choices are mine.
I wanted to start off with a tune which fades in, and what better way than with this tune, with Super Furry Animals main man Gruff Rhys on vocals. Lifted from one of my favourite records of the last – *checks notes* This came out WHEN?? – erm, 13 years, Temporary Pleasures. It’s a must-own album, in my book.
2. Jon Carter – Go Down
First of two appearances this week from the former Mr Sara Cox. I seem to remember this having trouble getting clearance for the vocal sample; listening to it now, whilst I can totally see what he was trying to do with the sample, I’m not sure it completely works. That said, I can personally attest that when it got dropped at around 2am in The Emporium, played by Carter himself, and when it was still a work in progress well…when the breakdown happens and that vocal sample kicks in, I can assure you it sounded magnificent.
3. Happy Mondays – 24 Hour Party People (Jon Carter’s Acid Vocal)
Carter Part 2. This starts off sounding like it’s going to be Leftfield’s Phat Planet until Shaun WIlliam Ryder’s vocals echo out; a mix I will forever associate with Llŷr, for we were once just leaving the dancefloor at The Emporium when that vocal boomed out – and, as you will hear, until that happens there is not one clue as to what the track is going to be (so apologies for the spoiler), for Carter has stripped away the distinctive keyboard stabs from the original and replaced the wonky bassline with a whole load of acid-y squelches, bleeps and boings. We both turned at the same time, eyes and mouths wide in surprised delight, and raced each other back to strut our stuff.
4. Green Velvet – La La Land
Now, it’s no great secret just how Ryder and his band of baggy brothers achieved partying for (at least) 24 hours, and this tune starts off sounding like it’s going down the same route, extolling the virtues of “those little pills” until that killer line “until they kill a million brain cells”. A tune which I shall forever associate with my old mate Dum Dum, for reasons which are probably fairly self-explanatory, but which I’m certainly not going to discuss here.
5. Soulwax – E-Talking
For once, a Soulwax tune which isn’t a Soulwax remix. This is from their truly wonderful Nite Versions album, which contains duffers not one. We’re getting dangerously close to a theme here, what with the “It’s not you, it’s the E talking” refrain. A bona fide banger (as are the next few choons).
6. FC Kahuna – Nothing is Wrong
Speaking of wonderful albums, this is lifted from one which is always criminally overlooked, often forgotten, some might say: 2002’s Machine Says Yes. Lyrically, it answers the question about why people go clubbing: “…to stop myself from bouncing off the walls”. Lovely stuff.
7. Narcotic Thrust – Safe From Harm (K-Klass Remix)
I know no more about and own nothing else by Narcotic Thrust than this; the original mix is ok, but Welsh wizards K-Klass’ remix elevates this one to a position of greatness, giving it a funky-as-fuck bassline you simply can’t help but shake your bits to. Turn it up loud and feel that bassline.
8. Plump DJs – The Funk Hits The Fan
Speaking of wonderful albums (as I was, a few minutes ago, remember?) here’s another which is often forgotten and criminally overlooked: Plump DJs 2003 belter Eargasm. I once had the pleasure of catching these perform live, upstairs in the Attic at The Emporium in Cardiff, a room I was more used to seeing half empty but on this occasion it was absolutey rammed and the crowd were going totally wild for them. Assuming you still have it turned up loud from Narcotic Thrust, I defy you to resist the bassline on this one. Magnetic. (Oh, and as previously stated, apologies for the abrupt ending…but if Peelie could get away with it, so can I…)
9. Fake Blood – Fix Your Accent
Tremendous fun, this one. This was going to be their eardrum shattering Mars, until I listened to this and the intro reminded me of something, so Fix Your Accent got added and Mars got bumped to work, rest and play another day.
10. Spiller – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)
The start of this tune is what I was reminded of by the start of the last. It’s always nice to bring things to a conclusion with something everyone knows. This, of course, features daughter of a Blue Peter presenter, look what she made earlier, Sophie Ellis- Bexter, who at the time had just left largely unsuccesful indie-wannabe’s theaudience (as they insisted on spelling it) and she was yet to embark on her immensely succesful solo pop career. I’m sure I remember reading an interview with her before Groovejet came out, saying how much she hated dance music, but I’m buggered if I can find it again, or indeed any reference to it, on the t’internet now. Anyway, assuming my recollection is sound (“…until they kill a million brain cells…”), then her beliefs went out the window the moment she got invited to provide the vocals for this #1 smasheroo, and indeed for the rest of her musical career. A place in the Cabinet surely awaits.
Something relatively new! I featured this lot a month or so ago elsewhere on these pages, and since then I’ve grown to love their Electricity album even more. Which, given the involvement of some of Hot Chip is hardly surprising.
12. Mansun – Wide Open Space (Perfecto Mix)
And to round things off – and it’s always nice to bring things to a conclusion with something everyone knows – here’s Paul Oakenfold doing what he does, which is either enhancing an indie favourite and introducing it to a whole new audience, or totally ruining a perfectly good tune by sticking beats and synths all over it, depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting. Me? I’m on the enhancing side. Just.
Anyway, that’s yer lot for this week. Hope you enjoy it.
Ordinarily on a Monday morning, tech issues allowing, I try to post something uplifting, to get your week off to a positive start.
But this is no ordinary Monday morning, it’s the day of the Queen’s funeral (not an elimation round on RuPaul’s Drag Race), so I figured that it wouldn’t be appropriate to follow my usual course on on this particular Monday.
When I was younger, I used to laugh and make jokes when those in the public eye passed away. I was in a pub in Cardiff when it was announced that The Queen Mother had passed away, and I, considerably louder than planned, said “About fucking time!” and got a round of applause. Would I do that now? Absolutely not. For a start, I don’t live in Wales anymore, so I suspect that support for anti-monarchy sentiment in public places may well be less forthcoming.
But also, well…I’ve grown up. I’ve lost people, experienced bereavement first hand enough times to appreciate that whilst I may not mourn the loss of a particular person, somebody out there does, and they have every right to be allowed to grieve without me poking fun at their expense.
I did consider not posting anything at all today, but I wanted to post something, partly to express my gratitude for an extra day off work (although there is literally nothing to watch on TV except funeral footage), whilst also not appearing to be disrespectful to those amongst you who do wish to mourn and grieve. Whatever I posted today, I decided, should include nothing which could be considered to be a reference to, or comment on, today’s sombre event.
Is that enough disclaimers? Good, then I’ll continue.
In 1999, one of those tribute albums was released where bands inspired by a particular recording artist are invited to provide a cover version of one of said acts’ tunes in homage to them.
The norm with this kind of project, as one would expect, is that they’re a mixed bag in terms of invitees and therefore quality of cover. The album in question, Fire & Skill – The Songs of The Jam, is no exception, containing more duffers than decent covers.
This, though, is one of the good ones, as one would perhaps expect if you’re at all familiar with the back catalogue of Buffalo Tom:
In 1998, McKuen and Kerr found themselves earning a rather surprising writing credit on Madonn’a seventh studio album, Ray of Light, which she produced with Wiliam Orbit, when a sample from Why I Follow the Tigers was used on this little beauty:
You could say that whilst there may be a massive queue to see Her Maj laying in state at the moment, there’s considerably less waiting time should you want to hear something by the Queen of Reinvention, Her Madge.
Tonight’s mix is not the one I had planned to post.
The one I had prepared was a little too upbeat for such a momentous weekend; whilst I personally won’t be joining in the nation’s mouring, I didn’t want to disrespect those that are.
And so I decided to create a mix “on the fly”; I decided what the first and last track would be, and then started recording as I journeyed from one to the other.
I tell you this instead of offering sleeve notes, as there will doubtless be those who think some of my selections are….disrespectful. That wasn’t the intention. The intention was simply to pick tunes which sounded good next to each other – any which may seem to have been chosen as some sort of comment on any recent high profile passings are entirely coincidental.
So let’s crack on, shall we?
(By the way, because this mix is just shy of 2 hours, Google Drive can’t cope and won’t let me upload it, so the link below takes you to my old Soundcloud account. Hope it works ok!)
In these uncertain times here in the UK – new Prime Minister in Liz Truss, new monarch in King Charles Spaniel III – I was mightily relieved when my trusty iPod shuffled this into my ears as I travelled back from the office the other day, as, despite it being about neither of those things, it did seem to strike a note of positivity which I’m not sure I subscribe to right now: