I Am The Mouth

I didn’t really expect to revisit the output of one Stewart Godard aka Adam Ant so soon after starting this thread, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

On Saturday night, when I was out enjoying some gorgeous nosh, a friend and occasional reader of these pages and I got chatting about the reruns on Top of the Pops I mentioned the other day.

He’s a little younger than I am, though not as much as he claims, and we were talking, amongst other things, about which editions we could actually remember seeing.

I do have a vague recollection of seeing Sparks, mainly because Ron Mael’s curious moustache and death stare, though I wold struggle to say which song I saw them perform.

But when one of the editions I did remember when got reshown, I found myself bellowing “Yes! Four stages Adam!”

Which sounds like some kind of recovery plan, but in reality refers to the time that Adam Ant performed today’s tune – which never gets played out, and I have no idea why, because it’s such an absolute gem – and practically was given free reign of the Top of the Pops studio.

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Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes

And here, if you’re interested, is that multi-stage performance on Top of the Pops:

Kudos to the Top of the Pops producers for recognising a genuine pop star and allowing him to do what he wants, even if it is a bit Benny Hill in places, and does feature Adam frankly not being arsed to lip-sync at one point, and also allowing him to display his proficiency on the polystyrene crumbling column as an instrument.

But still, “Goody Two Shoes” is one hell of a record: a blistering assault on the media’s obsession with digging up the dirt on the famous and successful. Oh, how so very little changes.

More soon.

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This Is Pop #1

Second of my new threads for the week now, and here is where I want to expand on the whole “there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” ethos which is supposed to pervade this palace that I have built. It’s also the thread which is most likely to shatter what little is left of my credibility.

But first, I want to draw on a couple of things my blogging peers have written. Firstly, to Rol at My Top Ten‘s tagline: “Irk the Musos!”, and secondly to something Alyson said recently over at What’s It All About, Alfie?: “It seems you should never be dismissive of any genre of music as one day you may suddenly just “get it” and you have a great new world to explore.”

This is a life-long philosophy of mine. I always hate it when I meet someone for the first time and as an ice-breaker they ask “What kind of music do you like?” because I always want to answer “Don’t try to pigeon-hole me, I like music. Not all musics, but lots of musics,” but figure I’ll sound like a bit of an idiot, so end up saying something even more excruciating, like “Oh you know, I guess I’d be called an Indie kid if I was 30 years younger.”

An example: I don’t really like reggae music. It’s fine, I can listen to it, it’s not a race thing, I understand the importance of it, it just doesn’t float my boat, doesn’t grease my wheels or whatever analogy you might choose. I still post reggae tunes when suggested in The Chain, because whilst broadly I’m not a fan of the genre, every now and then I’ll hear a tune and think: “Actually, that’s bloody brilliant.” (N.B. none of the tunes that have made me think that were by cod-white Brummies UB40)

And the same applies to any genre: there’s some songs I, we, you, like, and some that I, we you, don’t. Don’t ever dismiss, because undoubtedly you will be the one to miss out.

Which brings me here, to this second new thread of the week, where I unashamedly nail my colours to the mast and say: this is a pop record, and I really like it.

The thing with pop music is that it’s not supposed to remain popular, fashionable, or current, it is, by its very definition, transient, here today and gone tomorrow. And there’s nothing wrong with finding glee in a pop record that a few weeks later is no longer the flavour of the month.

And so, to Girls Aloud. I like some Girls Aloud records. Actually, I like quite a lot of Girls Aloud records. There. I’ve said it.

And I like them because they are brilliant pop records.

Many of you will disagree, and you’re not wrong to, but I’m not wrong to like them either. Subjectivity, that’s where we are.

This is the second Girls Aloud single, and the first thing I ever bought by them. Lyrically, tt’s  a mighty, anti-authoritarian “Don’t tell me what to do!”; musically, it obviously references “My Sharona” by The Knack, which just makes it even better in my opinion.

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Girls Aloud – No Good Advice

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start extolling the virtues of Saturday Night ITV scheduling, but when they get it right, as they did here, with Girls Aloud (and I’m struggling to think of another “product” from that particular farm this applies to) it can be magnificent.

Girls Aloud will feature again in this thread, because like it or not, they made more than one ace pop record, so I’d suggest you either get used to it, or just don’t come visit on a Thursday.

By which, of course, I mean: More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #1

It occurred to me quite a long time ago that any song which featured handclaps, finger clicks or whistling was by default a happy, upbeat cheerful song.

So I have decided to test this theory, and post songs here which feature one or more of the above.

Happy, upbeat and cheerful is of course what we’re aiming for, in the face of all this absurd adversity the real world represents. Don’t get me started. I’m barely keeping a lid on it at the moment.

And I’m doing this on a Tuesday because Tuesday’s are almost as horrible as Mondays; if not blue, then certainly a deeper shade of cobalt.

I say all of this, and yet the first tune I’m posting doesn’t particularly make me feel happy, upbeat or cheerful. But, crucially, the name of the band does. Besides, what we’re going to do here is make you a playlist to put a spring in your step, so consider this very much the intro track:

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – Clap Your Hands!

More soon. No really, I have loads of these.

Catchphrases

It occurred to me that I seem to have inadvertently come up with three phrases that I use pretty regularly here, catchphrases if you will.

There’s “More Soon” which I sign of every post with (and, to be honest, I wish I’d thought of something better than that).

There’s “Well if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this” which occurs at least once a week on The Chain.

And then there’s “And this record seems rather appropriate.”

Having had a spell of January blues, writer’s block, call it what you will, and now being all back, back BACK!! (and with a couple of new threads that I hope to launch this week), well, this record seems rather appropriate:

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Muddy Waters – Got My Mojo Workin’ (live)

More soon etc., etc.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sometimes, knowing that there are those who read this who know far more about Country music than I, I struggle to think of a decent tune to pick to play here. And sometimes, one just falls into my lap.

Last night, I was out with friends to celebrate my mate Neil’s 40th birthday. We met for cocktails in Central London, then headed over to Denmark Street in Soho for some frankly wonderful Thai food at The Smoking Goat.

As I was walking from the tube to meet them, my on-shuffle iPod decided to give me The Pogues’ “Rainy Night in Soho” to listen to; I love those serendipitous moments when your mp3 player of choice decides to give you something absolutely perfect for the moment. I knew right then that the night was going to be a good one.

Actually, I knew long before that: Neil is a bit of gastro connoisseur, so when he says the food or drink at a place is good, then I’m always more than happy to accept that recommendation. And he is never wrong.

Anyway, the food was just incredible, the staff lovely and friendly, our waitress simply unflappable, and the music…was perplexing me for a while. It was a very busy restaurant, so I couldn’t really hear it, but I was pretty sure I’d heard “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges getting played.

The night wore on, the place emptied, I could hear the music better, and my suspicions were confirmed: we were indeed being treated to The Stooges album. That ended, I wasn’t really paying attention to what came on next, before someone said “What’s this playing now? I really like this.”

I cocked an ear. I could hear a bit of guitar, maybe a violin, but no vocal.

“Why don’t you Shazam it?” I suggested. I’m going to assume you know what that means, if not please ask.

“Good idea,” she said, reaching for her handbag to retrieve her phone.

The unflappable waitress had heard us. “I’ll go get the album sleeve for you if you like?”

“That’d be great,” I said (the words “album sleeve” had piqued my interest), and whilst she disappeared to get it, a conversation began about a quiz night someone knows where you have to race against Shazam to identify a song.

At which point, I caught a bit of vocal.

“Sounds like Gram Parsons to me,” I offered. Ten seconds later, the waitress appeared clutching the vinyl sleeve of “Grievous Angel”.

Cue impressed looks from my fellow diners.

And this was the song:

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Gram Parsons – Return of the Grievous Angel

A few minutes later, my mate Ian caught me grinning.

“You’re still pretty pleased about getting that right, aren’t you?” he laughed.

“Pleased? I’m fucking delighted!!”

And here I am, three hours later, writing this, still fucking delighted, because now I can listen to it properly.

As can you.

More soon.

For What I Dream Of: That The Sequel Is Great

I’ve been watching the reruns of the 80s Top of the Pops since they first started airing on BBC4 for quite a while now and absolutely love them. It’s a great little trip down nostalgia road, and, if I’m honest, gives me a nudge in the direction of certain songs that appear here at some time or another.

There’s also the added bonus of the occasional appearances of John Peel hosting it, of course, coming across as your slightly put-upon grumpy uncle with his deprecating wit and withering intros.

When they first started rerunning the shows, there was one a week and it was shown on the same week anniversary of it having aired, which was something I loved: that this was what I was watching exactly twenty-five years ago. Of course, the shows got all out of sync for a while, as certain editions hosted by certain former Radio 1 DJs, weren’t able to be re-broadcast for fairly obvious reasons. They seem to have got it sorted out again now, and the shows appear to be pretty much in time with their anniversary, but for most of 2016, while I still tuned in, I found myself irritated that it didn’t quite work, that they showed a Christmas edition in the middle of the year. This struck me as being easy enough to resolve – just hold back a few episodes, or play an extra couple, until they lined up again. I began to wonder if maybe this was some kind of OCD I had developed where my enjoyment of a repeat was tarnished simply because the edition they showed in the final week of August 2016 wasn’t the same edition as they showed in the final week of August 1980.

I mention all this now, because today, January 27th 2017, is a very special day. It is the day that a film gets released which is the sequel to an era-defining film from 1996. And much as I loved that film, and much as I fully intend to go and see the new one, I feel a little niggle that whilst it is set twenty years on, it has come out just slightly later than the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first film. I feel safe mentioning this now, because I saw the film’s director, Danny Boyle, being interviewed the other day, and he said he was a bit disappointed they hadn’t quite got it out in time too.

I speak of course, of this:

I should stress that this is the only thing that irks me about the sequel. What I do find immensely promising is the fact that this almost happened ten years ago, but all parties agreed that the script then wasn’t quite good enough. Since all of the surviving originals and director are on board now, this gives me hope that “T2: Trainspotting” will be something a bit special.

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about going to see this, to catch up with Renton, Spud, Sickboy and Begbie after all this time. The movie is loosely – very loosely, from what I’ve heard – based on Irvine Welsh’s follow-up novel “Porno”, which I really enjoyed, although I seem to be in a minority there. Part of me rather wishes they had actually called the movie “Porno” just so I could make a joke about going to a cinema to watch a Porno, but you can’t have everything I guess.

Not only was the original movie a quite brilliant, ground-breaking film (they showed it on TV the other night, and I found myself dragging myself to bed at 2am having promised my self I was only going to watch five minutes), it also had an era-defining soundtrack album (actually, it had two, but the second one really wasn’t a patch on the first), and for around six or seven months in 1996, pretty much every one had a copy of it.

You’ll all know it, of course; kicking off with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and featuring Underworld’s breakout hit “Born Slippy (NUXX)” it was an album which, with the benefit of hindsight, did more to make me start listening to dance music than anything else. Except ecstacy a few years later, of course, but that’s another story for another day.

Chief among the dance tracks on the album which caught my ear was this one, and to this day I find a massive grin spread over my face when I hear it.

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Bedrock feat. KYO – For What You Dream Of

If “T2: Trainspotting” is half as good as the original – and the reviews I’ve seen so far seem to agree it is at least that – then I know I’m going to love it. It’s pencilled in for me to go and see next week. I seem to have Wednesday evening free. I cannot wait.

More soon.