Late Night Stargazing

So the other thing I’ve been doing this weekend is catch up on all of the BBC’s Glastonbury footage. I wasn’t there this year, and having seen how muddy it was on the Wednesday morning when everyone arrived, I’m kinda relieved about that.

I’ve been there when the weather was foul, and the ground underfoot fouler. But never when I arrived; the bad weather generally happened at some point when I was on site.

So before I go any further: actual 2016 Glasto-goers, I salute you.

Had I been there, then the first band I would have watched was James, opening the Other Stage, although I believe they had to be rescheduled to later in the day due to the bad weather.

This seems to be a new thing they do at Glastonbury: make the first act on the Other Stage an established indie band. Last year it was The Charlatans, this year James…my money’s on Inspiral Carpets for next year.

I’ve watched what footage there is of James on the BBC, and there is much to love about them. And they played my favourite James song ever, so I doubtless would have forgotten about the mud and just danced and sang to it in exactly the same way as I did when I watched here in my flat:

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James – Sometimes

Putting aside the fact that this is the song which, more than any other in their back catalogue, led to the “pretentious” tag I’ve talked about previously here, this is one  song that has special memories for me.

In the early 1990s my friends Daints, Louise, Paul, Helen and I used to frequent an Indie club in Cardiff called Subways, which was underneath a bar named GW’s. There was a pillar in the middle of the dancefloor that I used to swing round doing hilarious (ahem) Morrissey impressions. Cos I’m THAT funny.

One night/early morning as we emerged blinking from the underground bunker Subways was located in, it was, you’ll be unsurprised to learn given this was Wales, pissing it down.

As Daints and I stood in the doorway, surveying the wetness and shivering in our little indie t-shirts and cardigans, Daints uttered these words:

“There’s a storm outside”

Now I’m not a fan of musicals. But this was straight out of a (bad) musical script, for we both looked at each other, launched ourselves out of the doorway, like Butch and Sundance, into the rain, and into a rendition of “Sometimes” that, every time I hear that record, I’m immediately reminded of.

On further visits, we tried to recover that walk home magic, but as it wasn’t raining I don’t think we ever managed to get through the whole song again.

But that night was perfect. There’s very little that beats a drunken sing-song on the way home with one of your best mates, and any time I have to go out in a storm now it’s “Sometimes” that is my soundtrack.

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version

About a month ago, I posted Rihanna’s “SOS” in my Friday Night Music Club thread, and wrote these accompanying words:

“…Heavily sampling Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” (more about that over the weekend)…”

Well, then Euro 2016 and the trifling matter of the EU Referendum and its fall-out got in the way of me fulfilling that promise, so here we are.

You all know the record I was referring to:

Soft Cell - Tainted Love

Soft Cell – Tainted Love

I’m sure it’s not earth-shattering news to most of you that that’s a cover of this Northern Soul classic:

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Gloria Jones – Tainted Love

Soft Cell had ten Top 40 hits in the UK between 1981 (when Tainted Love hit Number 1), and 1991, although the latter singles were merely remixes, reissued, repackaged versions of earlier singles, and truth be told, their fifteen minutes were pretty much up after the 1982 release of this:

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Soft Cell – What!

It wasn’t until pretty recently that I found out that that too is a cover of a Northern Soul tune, when I picked up on a cheap(ish) second hand Northern Soul compilation (I’ve yet to buy one of these without finding at least one hidden gem on it) which had this on it:

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Judy Street – What

Actually, that’s not entirely true. My first introduction to the Judy Street version came via Drew’s consistently excellent blog “Across The Kitchen Table” and when I spotted a compilation album with this song on it, I knew my pockets were about to be emptied. So y’know, credit where credit’s due. Cheers, Drew, for making me poorer but my life richer!

Much as I love both of Soft Cell’s versions, those originals are a bit special, right?

But Soft Cell’s versions are magnificent on their own merit; “Tainted Love” ominously prowls, whilst “What!” camps things up in a way that was a fore-taster for lead singer Marc Almond’s solo career, particularly his love of all things Jacques Brel.

Which reminds me: I’m a big fan of musician’s autobiographies, and Almond’s “Tainted Life” is an absolute doozy that I’d recommend to anyone with a passing interest in 1980s/90s popular culture.

More soon.

Hey Mickey!

So, with time on my hands last night, with no Friday Might Music Club post to write, I found myself watching one of the re-runs of Top of the Pops they’re currently showing on BBC 4.

They started showing these a while go, and it used to be that they showed the anniversary week of the week we’re now in, but as the number of Radio 1 DJ’s they could still broadcast diminished, so they had to leave weeks out and we know find ourselves, prematurely, in early 1982.

Which, for me, is an absolute joy. For those of you who have followed my blog since the start will know, or those who have taken the time to trawl through the older posts, 1982 was the year of my pop record buying awakening.

And it is a joy, because I’ve been reconnected with several records I loved at the time and bought, several I loved at the time but somehow managed not to buy and quite a few I hated then and still hate now.

But in that middle category, is a song I loved at the time, but never bought, grew to loathe, but on hearing it again last night, I realised what a bloody great pop record it is.

This:

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Toni Basil – Mickey

There’s a reason why I love this song so much.

When I was a kid, my family and I lived in America for a couple of years. This inevitably led to a trip to Disneyworld, where, I am reliably told, I attempted to run off with Mickey Mouse.

Thankfully, there is no photographic evidence of this.

Oh wait. Seems there is.

Mickey & Me (1)

I’m the one not in a dress. Cool trainers, though, right?

Talking to my folks earlier today, they reminded me that at the time I was obsessed with singing the Mickey Mouse theme tune. You know, the “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” thing. Which would at the very least explain my recent Friday Night post about acronyms, if nothing else.

When I was a kid, my dad owned a couple of albums of Rugby Songs, one of which contained the following bawdy song (different version), a music hall standard, and which, apparently, I started singing on more than occasion at nursery school, much to the teacher’s concern:

Jeremy Irons – The Hole in the Elephant’s Bottom

I have no recollection of either event.

More soon.