Keith

I can’t let the week end without mentioning how sad I was to hear of The Prodigy’s Keith Flint’s passing, and particularly the manner of how he left us.

This is by no means an original observation, but he embodied what counter culture is all about: the Firestarter video was a real “What the hell is that??” moment for many, his extreme looks and persona made parents suddenly fearful in a way that probably hadn’t happened since the Sex Pistols lurched into view some twenty years earlier.

Incidentally, there’s a song-writing credit on Firestarter for Kim Deal, former Pixie and by then established Breeder, as the looped guitar riff is a sample of The Breeders track S.O.S. Factoid.

I remember when visiting our parents one Christmas in the mid-1990s, my brother and I were sitting up (drinking, of course, we’re such boozy lads) one night, watching a music channel and Firestarter came on. My brother declared that this was the new punk rock, and I think he totally had a point. (He was saying that so he could remind me that he used to go drinking with Pop Will Eat Itself, who helped The Prodigy out on a couple of tracks on Music for the Jilted Generation, and got a name check on the liner notes of The Fat of the Land. I don’t begrudge him this, since it pales into insignificance with my ‘got on the guest list for a Milltown Brothers gig‘ story.)

Nothing sounded like or looked like them before or since.

Much as I love Firestarter, I prefer the follow-up single, Breathe, also a #1 in the UK. I was in Nottingham’s Rock City one night in the mid-90s and the DJ played both, one after the other. Needless to say, the dancefloor went bonkers in a way normally reserved for when I’m DJ’ing (sense the ironic tone there, please).

Breathe

The Prodigy – Breathe

Plus, I’ve always thought the video to be much more – appropriately – unnerving:

The Prodigy first came to my attention back when I was DJ’ing at college, with their “Don’t Talk to Strangers” government safety ad-sampling “Charley”. Although I liked it, I was fairly dismissive of it at the time, viewing it as a bit of a novelty record. It was around the time of Smart E’s Sesame’s Treet, so you’ll excuse my misplaced cynicism.

My then-girlfriend bought Songs for the Jilted Generation, and whilst I remained, for the time being, firmly in the “dance music has no guitars, therefore it is rubbish” camp, some of the songs definitely caught my ear, not least this, aptly titled, absolute belter:

No Good

The Prodigy – No Good (Start the Dance)

I only ever managed to catch them live once, at Cardiff’s CIA (as it was called then), when they were touring to promote their Greatest Hits album, Their Law. They totally blew me away, one of the most incredible live acts I’ve ever seen.

Looking back, The Prodigy were probably my gateway drug band, the ones who enabled me to make that leap from blinkered guitar obsessive to pill munching hedonistic party legend (again, sense the tone). So for that, cheers.

Keith will be sorely missed, I think, more so than many others who have passed over the past few years. Moreover, from the many tweets sent when his death was announced, a genuinely nice bloke too.

A true showman, one in a million, rarely copied (because, what would be the point?), never bettered.

More soon.

Be Llŷrious

This is the series where I remember my recently passed best friend Llŷr by featuring songs which remind me of him.

I mentioned our friend Martin in my post the other day. Martin and I have spent the week swapping details of recommended acts we think the other would like. Actually, most, if not all, of the suggestions have been his. They’ve all been really, really great and will doubtless feature on these pages soon, once I’ve thought of a terrible pun involving his name to call the post.

If I remember this correctly, when Llŷr and I lived in the crappy flat with the mountain of washing-up and a chair recovered from the streets, Martin was responsible for a load of vinyl suddenly arriving at ours (and if he wasn’t, it really doesn’t matter, because that’s not the point of the story). He was having a clear out, take what we want, give him back what we didn’t, he’d flog them or take them to a charity shop.

This is how it was, living with Llŷr. If someone wanted to know what a song was, it was him they contacted first. If they wanted to off-load some vinyl, it was his doorstep they turned to first. My nose learned to cope with being out of joint.

We both frantically flicked through them, both alighting on one 12″ that we both loved and wanted.

This one:

bass-o-matic

Bassomatic – Fascinating Rhythm

Llŷr won, of course, the record quickly slotted into his own collection.

Fair enough. A small price to pay.

More soon.

****

Llŷr‘s younger sister Sian is running the London Marathon this year, to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity. Many thanks to all of you who have donated thus far; if you can spare some pennies, pounds, whatever, we’d all be extremely grateful. Here’s the link:

 

 

Who’s a Pretty Boy Then?

Oooh. Someone’s new haircut makes him look smart, doesn’t it?

Boris haircut (2)

It’s the sort of haircut you get when you’re hoping for a promotion. Or when you’re trying to impress the Judge in a divorce hearing. Or when you’re about to start banging the drum for driving your country over a cliff so you and your tax avoiding hedge fund mates can make some quick bucks.

Or, to put it another way:

devil's haircut (2)

Beck – Devil’s Haircut

More soon.

Bad News Comes in Threes

When, at the end of January, I first posted about my best friend Llyr’s passing, it attracted many lovely comments.

Something happened last week which reminded me of one them, which JTFL (that’s Johnny the Friendly Lawyer to you and me) had posted: “Oh, man. It really pours.”

For just as I thought my year couldn’t get any shittier, a letter from the letting agency I rent my flat through landed on my doormat.

This is what it said:

Please find enclosed an official notice confirming that possession will be required at the end of the notice period.”

The notice informed me I had two months in which to find somewhere else to live and, somehow magically, conjure up a deposit/bond for the new place.

I believe the phrase is: Oh. Fuck.

Some background info: last year, after six years of me not exactly complaining about cracks in the walls and ceiling, but certainly mentioning it to the letting agency I rent through, suddenly something happened. The matter was referred to the landlord’s buildings insurers, who did some testing, identified the issue and rectified it.

They now wished to come into my flat, do whatever repairs were required, and then redecorate.

This is quite an unusual situation for a tenant; usually any redecoration happens between tenancies, but here was an insurance company offering to redecorate whilst a tenant was in situ.

Obviously, I wanted to assist, and it was agreed that I would vacate the flat for a short period, roughly two weeks, whilst the works were done. All of my worldly belongings would be placed into storage, and I would be placed in a Travelodge or similar for the duration.

Inconvenient though it was, I was on board with this. To be honest, I was looking forward to an Alan Partridge “Big Plate” kind of scenario.

So I started packing all of my stuff away.

And then I was admitted to hospital, and everything ground to a halt.

As regular readers will know, since my discharge from hospital, I’ve been experiencing pain and loss of strength in my arms, and pain and loss of grip/function in my hands. Investigations into this are ongoing (I had a PET scan this week), but this prevented me from continuing to pack my stuff away.

Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve noticed a real improvement. I can open some bottles and jars which I couldn’t before. I have to take fewer painkillers. I’m gradually increasing my hours at work. There’s an upwards trajectory.

What I should have done was notify the letting agents/the landlord of my current condition, but I didn’t.

Hence the repossession notice.

I understand why it happened: they thought I wasn’t playing ball anymore, so decided the only way to progress matters (and get the insurers to pay for the repairs and redecoration) was to get me out.

A flurry of emails ensued, including one where I explained all that most of you have read on these pages recently about my ill-health, apologising profusely for failing to keep them in the loop.

And then, thankfully, the much-welcomed news came through: the landlord would revoke the repossession notice (not said, but implicit: as long as I played ball with the redecoration stuff).

So, I’m going nowhere (except to the delights of a Travel Tavern, somewhere in my locality, taking my big plate with me).

Phew. Bullet dodged.

This song springs to mind:

pleasure

Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Which, of course, I only know of because of this cover version:

theweddingpresent

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

Although this one springs to mind too:

Therapy+Nowhere-47092

Therapy? – Nowhere

I am, of course, mindful, that had my email appeal not been succesful, then this, absolutely wonderful, long-forgotten song would have been a far more appropriate tune:

lodger

Lodger – I’m Leaving

I’ve been trying to find a reason to post that for ages, without tarring it with the Brexit brush. Result!

When I found out that my persuasive skills had prevailed, I called my parents, who were obviously on notice of the situation. My mother seemed unsurprised; when I was growing up she had to deal with many pointless arguments with me, insufferable teenager that I was. Not just a bit like, but a lot like this:

I emailed the insurers on Wednesday, inviting them to call or email me so matters could progress. No reply as of yet.

More soon.