Sunday Evening Coming Up

Back in my clubbing days, which seem oh-so-long ago now (but not as long ago as they should be for a man of my age), Sunday night on the August Bank Holiday weekend meant that me and some of my chums would venture to one of the “shiny” clubs in Cardiff.

Let me explain.

We used to frequent a long-since closed club called The Emporium, a dark, dingy club, safe in the knowledge that it was the most accepting crowd in Cardiff. Nobody cared what you looked like, how old you were (as long as you were old enough to be in there, of course), as long as you were happy to dance in one of the three rooms and not bother anyone. It wasn’t a club where you went to pull (although that doubtless happened there), it was  a club where you went to – if it’s not too corny a thing to say – feel the vibe.

All the rest of the clubs in Cardiff seemed to be the opposite, all lights and mirrors, the sort of place that attracted blokes in button-down collar shorts, who wanted to carry on drinking bottled lager once the pubs had closed, and either have a fight or pull a girl. They had the glossy, plastic people in them, all handsome, gorgeous, made up to the nines, and me and my band of merry men definitely did not fit in.

But come Bank Holiday weekend, if you wanted to go clubbing, you had to bite the bullet and just go to one of them.

One such weekend, Roger Sanchez was playing one of the shiny clubs. That was the sort of calibre DJs these nights would pull in: Roger fucking Sanchez. I had wanted to go, but none of my mates were up for it. I ended up going for a couple of pints in town with Colin instead.

Colin was the anti-clubber. He hated dance music in the same way that I had back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. We’d managed to drag him along to The Emporium one night, convinced that if he ever gave it a go, he’d love it; he had a kip on one of the long seats and was “asked” by security to leave. I’m not quite sure what kind of risk he posed to security, but then again, I suppose having a grown man snoozing by the entrance isn’t quite the impression you want to give to people who’ve just paid to get in.

Anyway, this particular Bank Holiday Sunday Night, I had resigned myself to not going clubbing, when a mate of mine, Byron, wandered into the bar we were drinking in, and asked me if I was going to see Sanchez. I told him I wasn’t bothered, but so unconvincing was my response – or possibly, so unentertaining my company – that Colin said if I wanted to go he wouldn’t be offended, as long as we didn’t expect him to come along too.

And that was that. Byron and I went, paid on the door together, then I never saw him again. He had a habit of doing this; many’s the time he had rocked up at The Emporium, bought some pills, then gone home again, and I suspect that’s what happened that night.

Luckily, I bumped into some people I knew from The Emporium, and I hung out with them for the rest of the night. There’s a couple of stories there, but we’ll leave them for another time…

What I’m trying to get round to saying is that Roger Sanchez was awesome. Ordinarily, I’m a little scathing of DJ’s who drop their own records or remixes, but on this occasion, Roger played this, by a band I don’t have much time for ordinarily, but this sent the dancefloor wild:

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No Doubt – Hella Good (Roger’s Release Yourself Mix)

More soon.

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The Sample Life

Not done one of these for a while, and it occurred to me to revive it when I was thinking about what to post in this week’s “Late Night Stargazing” thread.

It was going to be one of these records. Can you guess which one?

It could’ve been oh-so different for The Beta Band. Following the critically-acclaimed “The 3 E.P.’s” – acclaimed both as individual releases and as the combined album they forged together – and an eponymous album that they freely admitted they hadn’t quite nailed it on, The Beta Band holed up in a studio to give it another crack.

I would imagine you all know the story by now, but just in case you don’t:

The Betas finished their “Hot Shots II” album and pencilled this in for the lead single from it:

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The Beta Band – Squares

Any concerns that they had failed to nail it again were dispersed: “Squares” is magnificent, prime trippy Beta Band gold, sampling as it does, this:

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The Günter Kallmann Choir – Daydream

But there was a problem. For just as they were ready to roll with the release of “Squares”, a previously unheard of act called I Monster released a single which featured exactly the same sample from exactly the same tune. What are the odds of that happening?

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I Monster – Daydream in Blue

The weird thing is, I feel like I’m being unfaithful to The Beta Band by posting that.

“Daydream in Blue” was a smash hit, or so my befuddled memory tells me. I had it in my head that it reached the top of the UK charts, but a little research tells me it only got to No. 20.

But the damage was done. The Beta Band elected to postpone the release of “Squares” for a couple of months, but by then, the British record buying public were all Gunther-ed out, and it failed to make the Top 40.

Still, if you asked me now which I’d rather hear, it’s The Beta Band every time.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Kris Kristofferson, particularly the records he released in his purple patch between 1970 and 1972.

Over the years, it’s become a bit of a mission of mine to introduce Kristofferson’s songs to friends of mine who I think would find their existence considerably enriched by having these records in their lives (by which I mean everybody), or at the very least to be aware that Kristofferson isn’t just the old bloke from the “Blade” film franchise.

 My go-to songs for such occasions are the one which shares a name with this thread, or “Me & Bobby McGee”. Some will know the latter because of Janis Joplin’s version.

But on more than one occasion, when playing the latter, and probably puzzled given Joplin’s version, I’ve been asked if Kristofferson was gay. I’ve had to point out that “Bobby” can be a nickname for a girl, being short for Roberta, and as an example have said “You know, like Bobbie Gentry”.

The problem with this, is that if the person I’m talking to doesn’t know who Kris Kristofferson is, they sure as hell don’t know who Bobbie Gentry is either, so I then have to explain who she is as well.

This morning’s post is going to save me a lot of time from now on.

This is Bobbie Gentry, not with her most famous song (that honour must surely go to genuinely unsettling “Ode To Billy Joe”), but instead with this Bacharach/David composition, perhaps more famously done by Dionne Warwick, despite Gentry’s version being a Number 1 hit in the UK before Warwick had even released her version, which failed to chart here.

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Bobbie Gentry – I’ll Never Fall in Love Again

Plus, just look at the sleeve. That Bobbie ain’t no dude.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

About ten years ago, I had the absolute pleasure of making the short trip from Cardiff to Bristol’s beautiful Colston Hall to watch Idlewild perform an acoustic set.

Tonight’s post is not, as far as I know, taken from that gig – I have no idea where it was recorded, if I’m honest – but nevertheless it is a live acoustic recording of one of my favourite songs by them.

Enjoy.

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Idlewild – Love Steals Us From Loneliness (Acoustic)

More soon.