Late Night Stargazing

Bands names are a minefield.

Some claim their name means nothing, just a couple of words thrown together. Such was the defence of The Soup Dragons. (Oh yeh? And you just happened to throw together two words which just happened to be a character from 1970s animated and shown just before the news series “The Clangers” did you…?)

Some name themselves after literary works. Generally, this seems to be either “A Clockwork Orange” (Heaven 17, Moloko) or “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (Level 42…er…and I’m sure lots of others that I can’t think of right now. Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”. There is, I kid you not, an estate agent in North London called Hotblack Desiato. I hate estate agents, but props for the name).

Then there’s the bands who place some intellectual worth on their name. Prime amongst these must be The Smiths, apparently chosen as a reaction against all bands who chose complicated named to emphasise their music (are you watching, Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark? That’s you, that is)

And then there’s TV On The Radio.

Think about those words for a moment.

TV.

On.

The.

Radio.

That’s a hell of a mission statement.

Our music, they are saying, is so good, when you hear our songs on the radio (i.e. rarely), it’ll be like you have pictures shown in front of you.

A hell of a claim, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Last night, I went to see TV On The Radio at The Roundhouse in London. Their claim is not at all misplaced.

But first, a lil back story here that you won’t get in any of the other posts in this section.

Until about 18 months ago, I knew the name TV On The Radio, but knew nothing of them. Then one night round at my friend Neil’s flat, he played this: Wolf Like Me. My ears pricked up. What the fuck was this, and how have I managed to avoid hearing it until now??

This became a recurring joke. Whenever I was at Neil’s, we would drink some and listen to tunes, and he would pop that record on, and at first I would have forgotten who it was, and then ultimately I’d remember who it was, but would play along and ask the same question anyway.

“Who’s this?”

But then, around the turn of the year, there was a tragic loss in Neil’s family: his niece Jasmine died suddenly, inexplicably, unfairly. She was just six years old.

Now Neil is one of the bubbliest, happiest blokes I know, and for a while, as you would expect, that wasn’t the case. The wind was understandably knocked from his sails.

But.

Shortly after that, I saw him being utterly inspirational by picking himself up and doing what he could to raise funds for this charity.

I am genuinely in awe of the man. He makes me proud that I can call him my friend.

And I can count the number of my friends that I feel that way about on one finger.

I would urge you to make me feel a little less insignificant by donating whatever you can afford via that link.

Around the same time, I saw that TV on The Radio were coming to town, and I wanted to do something to make him happy again. So I bought me and Neil tickets.

That gig got cancelled, and rearranged for last night.

In the intervening 8 months, I could quite easily have cribbed up on their back catalogue, but I chose not to. I had a suspicion that seeing them live would be all the more incredible if I knew none of the songs.

This proved to be a well founded suspicion.

Last night I spent 90 minutes pinned to my chair, held in by how fucking brilliant TV On The Radio were. I wish I could be more articulate than that, but fucking brilliant is what they were, so let’s just call it what it was. Fucking Brilliant.

Neil, it seemed and I hope, loved it.

Here’s the song they opened with. This very much sums up what this thread Is about: music you can close your eyes to and just be transported away.

Mission accomplished.

TVOR_Young_Liars TV On The Radio – Young Liars

The Sample Life

Although their popularity and useage seems to be on the wane somewhat (I have nothing to back this up, as I don’t seem to listen to current music as much as I should) I thought it might be interesting to play you some songs which feature a sample or two, and let you hear the song from whence the sample was ripped. Rippingly good fun, no?

(This might be one of the shortest lived themes ever. I’ve only thought of two so far…..)

Here’s the first:

Goldie-Lookin-Chain-Your-Missus-Is-A-334175 Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Your Missus is a Nutter

This is the song which they played at the Millenium Stadium before the Wales v England World Cup/Euros/Whatever qualifier. They dedicated it to David Beckham, whose wife, Skeletor, was in attendance, if memory serves me right.

No surprises to learn the sample is from this:

Serge_Gainsbourg_Cannabis Serge Gainsbourg – Cannabis

Makes perfect sense, no…?

Late Night Stargazing

I’m not stalling for time, honest. 1985 will be here soon, I promise.

But for now, something new(ish.)

A few years ago I was living in a now ex-friend’s house whilst they went off travelling. I was house-sitting, if you like.

Anyway, before my now ex-friend returned from travelling and gave me precisely two days to get out of her house, effectively rendering me homeless, I was a smoker who was strictly forbidden from sparking up indoors. So I would often find myself standing outside, puffing away, nothing to do but look upwards, and eventually I decided I needed some appropriate tuneage to accompany my late night lung cancer encouragement.

What I ended up with was a playlist on my ipod which gave me cause to stop and think, whilst marvelling in the glory of the night sky.

Okay, I haven’t described that particularly well.

What I mean is, the tunes in this section will be obviously late night songs, as opposed to the more up-beat strum-a-long Sunday Morning posts.

Fuck it. I’ll just say it. Have a spliff and enjoy the tunes I post in this section.

This should make all of that make sense:

hqdefault Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I think I’ve spoiled you recently, with my five songs to a post on here. Austerity rules, I’m afraid, Back to one per post (subtext: or I’ll run out of stuff to play you pretty quickly).

The keen observer will have noticed that I’m a big fan of R.E.M. When I say I’m a big fan, like most other big fans I accept that they had their day in the spotlight, and that their last few albums really aren’t much cop.

Usually with great bands, it’s a bit tricky, trying to work out where it went wrong. Not R.E.M. Oh no. With them, there are two things that happened around the same time, and after they did, nothing was ever the same, or as good.

Firstly, the signed a multi-million dollar deal with Warner Brothers. Nowt wrong with that. They’d paid their dues. They was owed.

Secondly, BIll Berry, the drummer, quit the band. The guy did collapse with an aneurysm mid-concert, so you can’t blame him for getting out before he became a Spinal Tap/Pretenders dead drummer statistic.

The last record he appeared on was “New Adventures in Hi-Fi”, an album mostly recorded on the road whist they promoted the “Monster” album. It’s a great record, even if a friend of mine insists on pronouncing it he-fe. (Not sure that translates…)

And then, after that…well, it just wasn’t the same. Poor pronunciation or not.

However, whilst they soldiered on for another few albums, they must have known their days were numbered, finally giving in and quitting in 2011. (As I type that, I honestly can’t believe it’s been 4 years since that happened.)

Anyway, they released a Greatest Hits album as they died, and of course it featured, as is the vogue these days, a few unreleased tracks. And there, hidden amongst them, was today’s post, a song which was exactly the sort of song their fans had been hoping they would make again:

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R.E.M. – We All Go Back To Where We Belong

I can’t help but think that had those final years had a few more songs like this, then they might still be with us. Ho hum.

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

Onwards, to 1989. (I hope you’re not expecting posts in this series to be in any kind of order. Or maybe they are, time being all timey-wimey and all that)

By the way, this has nothing to do with the Leeds/Reading Festival this weekend, although a quick hello to my Glasto-family who are at the Leeds site for the weekend, and have probably been there since about Wednesday.

And so, to Brassneck. Or rather to one of the tracks on the b-side (remember them…??) of the 12″ (remember them….???)

the-wedding-present-brassneck-rca The Wedding Present – Box Elder

Now. I have a confession to make. When I bought this record, I had no idea this was a cover version. In fact, I remained oblivious to this fact until 1992. And then, in December, I ventured down to the metropolis from sunny Peterborough and went to my first ever gig at what used to be called (and still is by right-minded people) The Brixton Academy.

On the bill: headliners – Sonic Youth, promoting their “Dirty” album. Gig opened by Riot Grrrrl troupe – Huggy Bear. And sandwiched in the middle – Pavement, promoting their “Westing (by Musket and Sextent” album.

I knew nothing of Pavement at the time, at least so I thought. Then, as their set approached the end, they played a song that I realised I knew, and the penny dropped.

pavement_westing Pavement – Box Elder

And that was it. A band nobody else (that I knew) knew, that Gedge had endorsed via a cover version on a b-side of a 12″ single. How could I resist..??

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sometimes, when I’m feeling the need to be organised, I write a few of these posts at the same time, and such was the case with today’s offering of Sunday morning loveliness (I didn’t have much else to do, since I was using my bro’s post yesterday).

Imagine my surprise, then, when having completed today’s selection of Sunday songs and settling back to watch Match of the Day last night, to promote Match of the Day 2 they played the first song I had lined up today. Now, all I can think of when I hear this is Shearer looking smug, which I’m pretty sure was not the desired effect:

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Dinah Washington – A Sunday Kind of Love

Quite a few years ago, I worked in a video store in Cardiff, a job I loved, but ultimately was crappily-paid so I had to find something else to do to earn my corn. The legacy of those couple of years, of which you will learn much more later, is that I love any films which are based in and around such establishments. Clerks, for example, is one of my favourite films (but not Clerks 2). A couple of years ago, I watched “Be Kind, Rewind”, and was delighted to find it heavily referenced Fats Waller, a jazz pianist and singer I had a bit of a soft spot for, mainly thanks to my Dad playing me this when I was a kid. So, to keep things on a jazzy tip this morning , here’s some more Fats:

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Fats Waller- I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

And now, as they say, for something completely different.

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The Dandy Warhols – Godless

Nothing like remembering what Sundays are all about, eh? Speaking of which:

Sunday_Sunday_7_cover

Blur – Sunday Sunday

And finally, a few months ago I posted on Facebook that I had just discovered the next artiste, probably a long time after everyone else, and was informed that the video for this song was filmed in Grangetown, a less than glamorous suburb of Cardiff. I honestly figured the person telling me was winding me up until he posted the link to the video and I can confirm he was right, that’s Grangetown alright. Makes yer heart fair swell with pride.

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John Grant – Chicken Bones

More soon.