Ha-Ha!! Gotcha! (or, more appropriately, Gertcha!)
Only yesterday I wrote “…don’t worry, I’m not about to post the Cockernee-twosome’s Rabbit here…” and, to quote Rik from The Young Ones: “You fell for it like the true fascists you are”.
Go on, admit it. Your Monday morning is already 100% better for hearing that, right?
This always reminds me of Hel’s DJ partner and our friend Leslie; often on a Friday night after they’d finished playing their resident set (with 3rd DJ Cat) at The Boogaloo in Highgate, we’d all pile back to ours. Leslie, who is American (which I think is important to stress at this point – they don’t all think we talk like the characters in DowntonAbbey) was delighted when I moved in with Hel, because I owned this on CD and she would demand it be played every time. I would, of course, happily acquiesce.
At the risk of sounding like your Nan, when I posted the track by Loney Hutchins last week, looking at the record sleeve I was struck by the resemblance between him and a young Chas Hodges.
Chas who? I hear you ask.
Chas Hodges, one half of one of the finest musical duos the UK has ever produced (and I really mean that, without even the faintest trace of irony): Chas & Dave.
But don’t worry, I’m not about to post the Cockernee-twosome’s Rabbit here, fantastic record that it is.
No, instead a tune from when Chas was in a band called Hands Head & Feet, along with such luminaries as Wizard of the Fretboard Albert Lee, who I’m graciously going to assume you’ve heard of and don’t need further expansion.
I’ve always loved this song by This Mortal Coil, mostly, admittedly, because of the lead vocal provided by Kim Deal.
I always felt her voice was criminally under-used during her time with the Pixies, where she was mostly consigned to backing vocal duties. I can only think of two songs where she was permitted to sing the lead part: the gloriously filthy quietLOUDquiet Gigantic, and Into the White, B-side to Here Comes Your Man, both of which would easily sit in my Top 5 Pixies tracks.
But This Mortal Coil do not make the same mistake, putting her right out front on You and Your Sister:
The first time I ever acquired a copy of that record was on a 4AD sampler stuck to the front of some magazine or other. It was when I was working at Boots the Chemist in Cardiff, and I remember returning to the staff “restaurant”, clutching the WH Smith’s bag it was contained in, and being asked by someone at the same table as me why I looked so pleased, at which point I produced the magazine and CD from the bag, to the noise of total disinterest and non-plussedness.
I was reminded of this tune recently because this lady:
…who I refuse to accept is 63 years old, has included a rather fine cover version of the tune on her current album, Bright Lights:
Mental note to self: do not make any more jokes about people you admire in pop culture dying whenever a new mix in my Friday Night Music Club series is released.
Two weeks ago, on the eve of me dropping the first in the current series, Ronnie Spector died. Last week, it was Meat Loaf.
And this week, it was Barry Cryer.
The word ‘Legend’ is bandied around far too much these days, to the point when a genuine legend passes, the phrase is diluted. But make no mistake, Barry Cryer was a comedy legend.
It would probably be quicker to write a list of all the acts that he didn’t write for rather than all he did, but a quick role call shows the following sample: Dave Allen, Stanley Baxter, Jack Benny, Rory Bremner, George Burns, Jasper Carrott, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Kenny Everett, Bruce Forsyth, David Frost, Frankie Howerd, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Spike Milligan, Mike Yarwood, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise. Alright, a bit 70s, but not a bad CV, right?
That’s not to mention the countless panel shows he has appeared on over the years. Here he is cropping up on Would I Lie ToYou? a few years ago, back when they all sat a bit nearer to each other and neither team captain had grown a beard:
Nor does it even begin to scratch the surface of the many, oh-so many appearances he has made on Radio 4’s anti-panel show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, a show which he says he has been doing since “before the invention of sound.” If you ever have 30 minutes to idle away, then pop over to the BBC Sounds app, there’s usually a few editions there for you to dive into, I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Just don’t try to understand the rules of Mornington Crescent (spoiler alert: you’re not supposed to).
Oh, and he even had a hit single once. Yes, his version of The Purple People Eater reached the #1 spot….in Finland:
More recently, Barry had, like everybody else in the world it seems, started doing a podcast with his son Bob called Now Where Were We…?, available through all the usual places you get your podcasts from. The premise is simple: Barry and Bob take a highly regarded friend (Stephen Fry, Miriam Margolyes, Danny Baker, Sanjeev Bhaskar) to the pub (or, in Margolyes’ case, pops round to hers for a cup of tea) and just has a chat. Cunningly disguised as an interview, it’s really just a ruse to allow Barry and his guest to trade anecdotes and jokes (Bob doesn’t really join in that much, to be honest, except to remind his father of a joke or story he knows).
Here’s one of my favourites, which Barry tells in one of them:
A man is driving along a country lane late one night. It’s dark, and he doesn’t see the bird in the road in front of him until it’s too late. He gets out of his car after he’s hit it, and finds it’s a cockerel, and he’s killed it stone dead.
He looks around and sees a nearby farmhouse, and decides it must have escaped from there. Full of remorse, he picks the bird up in his arms and walks towards the farmhouse.
He knocks on the door, which is answered by what he presumes to be the farmer’s wife, dressed in a nightie, curlers in her hair. “I’m very sorry,” he says, “but I’ve killed your cockerel and I’d very much like to replace him.”
“That’s very kind of you,” says the farmer’s wife. “The chickens are all round the back, be my guest.”
In actual fact, more often than not you find on Now Where Were We…? that it’s Barry being interviewed by the guest rather than the other way round, the guest gently steering him towards recounting a particular anecdote or joke they love. It’s an absolute joy, a testament to the warmth felt towards him, the high regard in which he was held – but with only six episodes released so far, and with presumably a few more in the can to drop, it’s likely to be one of the shortest-lived podcast series ever.
Time for a song, and the title of this one springs to mind, not least because the title is a play on words, which Barry loved:
Great though that is, it’s a little sombre, while Barry was all about the laughs, and was magnanimous enough to not care whether it was him or somebody else providing those laughs – he didn’t care, as long as the laughs kept coming.
So, to finish off, a song written by one from that list of names I gave you right at the top that Barry had written with. My Dad had a copy of this on 7″ single, and it was compulsory (but voluntary, I should add) listening when I was a kid, 3 1/2 minutes of utter lunacy and silly voices. I’m sure Barry would approve:
Welcome back to third instalment of my mammoth six-part cut-out-and-keep series of mixes.
This one starts off a little political, which, since I’ve not had a Rant on a Saturday morning for a while, I hope you’ll let slide. I’ve tried to puncture the serious tone by chucking in a seemingly out-of-place indie tune (which only seems out of place in respect of the musical jump, not the theme), and then by a late 70s/early 80s children’s TV theme, which I’ve deliberately not named in the track-listing (partly because I want it to be a surprise, mostly because I have no idea who to credit it to), but will make sense in the running order. It’s nicely juxtaposed, I think, with some Rage Against the Machine. Look, it made me smile when I thought of including it, and these days that’s enough reason.
After that, we take brief trip through some late 80s/early 90s rap and hip-hop (I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is) including a track by House of Pain. Not that track, no; instead I’ve selected their final UK Top 40 hit, It Ain’t a Crime (which, were it not for the bad boy lyrics probably would have appeared in one of my Saturday morning Rants with reference to our ‘Crime’ Minister – see what I did there?) partly because it’s the only single of theirs that I ever actually bought back in the day, but mostly for the very reason that I bought it back then: it has some of the most cringe-worthy lyrics ever committed to vinyl (or in the case of the format I bought it on: to cassingle!).
Telling the story of Johnny (I bet it took them ages to come up with that name) who “…was a bad boy, he was a juvenile delinquent/He had his picture on the wall of every precinct…” it contains these gloriously bad lines:
…He hit the backdoor like his name was Carl Lewis Dipped to the payphone to find out where his crew is He called up his homeboy Jose, “What up!” “Can I come over my man?”, he said, “No way A cop was here he was looking all over for ya But I told the pig I didn’t know ya” He said, “Cool meet me up at the school I need a ride cause I’m wanted for homicide…
..which I’m sure you’ll agree are a bit special, but not in a good way.
A History of Dubious Taste in no way condones the actions of Johnny, by the way, who sounds like a very naughty young man indeed.
I wish I could say it was planned to drop this mix on the day after the anniversary of his passing, but in all honesty it’s a complete coincidence. See, Llŷr was a massive hip-hop fan (and tried many times to explain the difference between it and rap to me, with no success), but also of the genre which makes up the last few tracks (as was I): electro-clash, a short-lived bubble of dance music from the early 2000s.
In fact, for a even shorter time, I was dating a woman who was also into electro-clash, so I got Llŷr to knock me up a mix CD of some of his favourite moments to give to her, which he happily did. All of the tracks featured today were on it, I think. Certainly Tiga & Zyntherius’ brilliant cover of Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night, which Llŷr proudly owned on vinyl, did.
She split from me about two weeks later, by the way. I’m pretty sure the two facts weren’t linked. Her boyfriend before me was, coincidentally, also called Jez and, having dated probably the only two Jez’s in Cardiff, she decided to move on to a different name and work through them instead. Good luck, Ji – I hope you’re very happy.
Often, mates would came back to ours after we’d all been out clubbing (they usually didn’t want to go home and face/wake up their partners, so, since Llŷr and I had no such concerns, our flat would generally end up being their place of refuge for a few hours) and I would slip on Vitalic’s wonderful OK Cowboy album, a noisy and gloriously beaty but odd record, and watch our guests either get right into it or sit terrified. Included in this section is a single from said album.
The mix ends with the archetypal electro-clash tune, Emerge by Fischerspooner. Released in 2001, right at the start of the electro-clash, it always felt to me that it would never be bettered, and so it proved.
Anyway, to the tunes, by way of my usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps in the mix are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me (although I think I’ve done pretty well on this one, I think); all record choices are 100% mine.
Oh and one more thing: there’s a fair bit of effing and jeffing on this one, so I’d probably better slap this on it:
Three years ago today, my bestest buddy Llŷr passed away.
Three years. Where on earth did that go?
I still think about him and miss him every day, and I don’t think that will ever change, nor would I want it to. Yet it just doesn’t seem possible that so long has passed without seeing him.
When I’ve written about Llŷr before, the focus has been very much on the music, the records that remind me of him.
But, as I alluded to in my post shortly after he passed, when we lived together, as well as the music, there was an awful lot of television watching which forged bonds between us.
I often watch Gogglebox – a show which, for the uninitiated, films people at home watching TV and talking about it (and whatever else is going on in their life) – and I think: they missed a trick by not having Llŷr and I on board for this.
For every evening spent watching TV – which, to be honest, when we weren’t out and about together around Cardiff, was pretty much every night – was a night when we would both be creasing up, each trying to make the other laugh so hard about whatever we were watching that snot might come out of the nose.
Sure, there are many many songs which remind me of him, but it’s the laughing that I miss so much now that’s he not around anymore.
I won’t pretend that our taste in TV was perfectly aligned; again, as alluded to previously, Llŷr was much more interested in the whole Pop Idol/X Factor/AmericanIdol shenanigans than I was, but there was definitely a shared love of certain reality shows.
Obviously, there was Big Brother, which first aired around the time we first began sharing a flat, and which we both watched almost religiously, to the point where on more than one occasion we turned down an invitation to go out on a Friday night because we didn’t want that week’s eviction to be subject to any bar-room TV spoilers.
There was a dating show, aired on BBC2, called Would Like To Meet, where a panel of three experts would set some loveless sap a number of challenges designed to bolster their confidence. In the climax of the show, they’d go on a blind date which they were expected to ace, having taken on board all of the advice they had been given.
Llŷr and I loved this show, partly because we both we both quite fancied one of the panel – the appropriately named sexpert Tracey Cox – but mostly because we thrived on some of the situations the subjects were put into to try and bolster their self-esteem.
Most notably – and I wish I could find a clip of this, but alas, I cannot – a girl who was instructed to stand by the magazine rack in WH Smiths at lunchtime and try to engage men reading magazines in conversation.
Thankfully, her very presence prevented any – ahem – surfers of the “top shelf”, but one guy picked up a music magazine, Q or Mojo or some such, whereupon he was approached by the girl asking “Excuse me, can you tell me which tunes are excellent please?”
This made Llŷr and I howl, and forever afterwards whenever we were out and a tune got played which one of us failed to recognise, we would turn to each other and say “Excuse me, is this tune excellent?”
As with many private jokes, you probably had to be there. But that phrase still rings in my head, especially whenever I’m in a newsagents.
The other show we loved was Channel 4’s Faking It, where somebody was plucked from their normal job and way of life and given four weeks to learn a completely new and opposing skill, tested at the end of the show by a panel of experts who would try and snuffle out the imposter.
There are a couple of episodes which normally attract the most attention – timid vicar becomes a car salesman, burly sailor becomes a drag queen – but the episode which Llŷr and I loved was an early episode, where a young female classical cellist (Sian – no relation), who has not one clue about youth culture and clubland, had four weeks to pass herself off as a club DJ.
For those four weeks, she goes to live with hardcore DJ Anne Savage, who is supposed to be her mentor, but in actual fact it’s Savage’s mate Lottie, also a renowned DJ, who does much of the tutoring.
This is especially poignant for me, as Llŷr and I saw Lottie DJ a few times, the most auspicious of which was when we happened to stumble on her playing a mid-afternoon/early evening set as a favour to the landlord of Progress Bar in Tufnell Park. It was the day after we had been to Fatboy Slim’s legendary Beach Boutique 2 so we were both, I think it’s fair to say, a little worse for wear. Still, Lottie was kind enough to pose for some pictures with Llŷr, which we’ve tried to source and share here, but sadly we’ve not managed to track down. So here’s a picture of Lottie instead; you’ll be able to see why Llŷr was so keen – other than her DJ’ing prowess, of course – to have the moment he met her captured for posterity (on film, I mean. We didn’t kidnap her, or begin to plot to, honest!):
The other reason Lottie’s involvement is relevant is because it was her that I saw the first time I went clubbing after Llŷr got ill and wasn’t able to go anymore. It was at TheEmporium in Cardiff – sadly a venue no more, but without doubt the greatest club I have ever been to. I may have written about it before; it will certainly crop up again at some point. Needless to say, Llŷr had many fun nights out there.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Faking It. At the end of the four weeks, Sian has to play a set to a packed club, which included four club promoters and DJs and the like; they had to try and pick her out from amongst three other female DJs, whilst she tries to convince them that she was not the one who only started DJing four weeks ago.
I wanted to post the entire episode here, but can’t find it to share. It is available to watch on Channel 4’s streaming service All4, and if you’re able to, I’d urge you to watch it. Even if you find dance music generally a bit meh, it’s one of the most amazing and uplifting pieces of television, watching this young woman blossom and come out of her shell, battle all the forces against her (which were mostly of her own, and her upbringing’s making), and discover and reclaim her lost youth.
There is an edited version of the episode on YouTube, which, if you do want to watch the whole show and avoid spoilers, I would not recommend you watch:
If that does nothing else, it will make you nostalgic for the days when you could smoke fags indoors.
Llŷr and I watched many, many hours of television together when we shared the Flat of Filth and then the House of No Housework, but there’s only a few which really stick in my mind. This is one of them, and when I watched it again the other day, I found myself laughing, smiling and sobbing in equal measure.
So, to wrap things up for today, remixed by the great Greg Wilson, an appropriate tune, which just so happens to pop up in (Coming Soon!) Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.4. It’s also a tune which I don’t know that Llŷr ever heard (I mean this mix, of course he would have known the original version), but I’m damn sure he would have loved – the sentiment (of the title at least) utterly sums up him and his loveably jokey ways perfectly:
And, just in case you want more evidence of Llŷr’s love of television, can I point you in the direction of one edition of The Xennial Dome podcast, where Llŷr’s younger sister, the talented, funny and gorgeous actor Sian Reese-Williams, talks about, amongst other things, growing up and being obsessed with – and acting out – public service adverts from TV with Llŷr. It’s a really lovely hour, which made me laugh a lot and blub a little too:
Country loving friends and family (by which I mean my Dad and my mate Martin) will probably be surprised it’s taken me this long to post something from this album, given that when I listened to it for the first time just before Christmas I sent messages to both telling them to check it out.
For anyone who longs for the days when Country music doesn’t sound quite so polished as the modern stuff does, and who loves the Outlaw bracket of Country music (Cash, Kristofferson, Haggard), Loney Hutchins’ Buried Loot: Demos from the House of Cash and Outlaw Era, ‘73-‘78 is a real treat; a double album of previously unheard nuggets from the previously unheard man in a dodgy hat.
Hutchins worked for Johnny Cash’s publishing imprint House of Cash for a five-year stretch during the 70s, and did release a couple of albums – one in the 70s, another in the 90s, with the time in between spent in the world of music therapy, writing and performing for survivors of traumatic brain injury – but they made little to no impression. Buried Loot... goes some way to redressing that with literally not one duff track on it.
Don’t be put off by the word “Demos” in the title either; these are not scratchy initial drafts recorded on a cassette, but fully formed and produced songs on an album which has become one of my favourite discoveries in the past few years.
I could have picked any of the 24 tracks on this gold-mine to post here, and it’s taken me a very pleasantly spent hour or so listening to the whole thing again trying to decide which song to post, so doubtless I’ll return to it soon enough.
I think I’ve built this up enough now, so here you go. I hope you love this as much as I do:
So, for the second week running, I find myself having to write about the passing of a legend. Last week I dodged the sadness of Ronnie Spector’s death by passing it to a fellow blogger who had already written a beautiful piece which said all that I wanted to say, but I suspect the love from the blogging community at the news that Michael Lee Aday aka Meat Loaf has died may be a little thinner on the ground.
So here’s the first thing I want to say: Bat Out of Hell is a great record. Just because it’s one of the most commercially successful records ever does not make it a bad record. You know that phrase: 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong? Well, yes they can, but in the case of Bat Out of Hell (and, fair dues, Elvis too) they’re not.
I’ve written about my love for that album before, here, should you wish to check it out.
Although he hasn’t made a record I liked for 40 years or so, and anything he did release which didn’t involve Jim Steinman should really be avoided, I loved Meat Loaf for he was the soundtrack to a part of my youth.
There was a really good documentary on BBC4 last night about him, called MeatLoaf: In and Out of Hell which I can thoroughly recommend. If you’re in the UK it’s currently available to stream on the BBC iPlayer.
But I’ve noticed a worrying trend starting with these two most recent celebrity deaths. Is there a link? Or is this just a way for me to shoehorn a loads of great songs into one post?
Here we are again, and I’d like to start off by thanking all of you who got in touch to say they enjoyed last week’s mix; it seems Swiss Adam was right: make them shorter, and people are more likely to find time to listen to them. Truly, he is the Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams of the blogging world. (Somebody will get that reference, I’m sure.)
I really enjoy spending my Friday nights putting these together, although it has been to the detriment of the rest of the blog, I must admit. Hopefully I’ll get the balance right soon.
And so this week’s mix, Volume 6.2, the second hour (or so) of the six hour (or so) mix I originally put together before thinking better of it and splitting it down into six mixes, which should sound alright if you want to play them all in sequence. I guess you could say this is my equivalent of those collector’s magazines that seem to come out this time every year, where you buy one piece of a model per edition, glue it to the one you got last week and then wait until the next week when you can have your wallet lightened to the tune of a tenner in order to secure the next bit.
Except, with the Friday Night Music Club there is, in the words of Melba Montgomery’s mawkish 1974 hit (or J J Barrie’s 1976 hit, or Tammy Wynette’s version or Johnny Cash’s version or…aw you get the picture) No Charge.
And it’s more of the same this week, although perhaps a little less pop-heavy than last time, but essentially the usual formula of a real mixbag with a couple of unexpected 70s lost/over-looked/forgotten tunes thrown in (nothing as kitsch as an old one where I included The Dooleys, Guys & Dolls and The Nolans in the same mix, you’ll be relieved to hear), and where I momentarily slide off into what could loosely be called “a theme”. Fans of all things Gedge will immediately spot why The Wedding Present track follows the song it does, and how that started me off on the theme. Don’t worry, I manage to rein it in. Eventually.
If you are still dancing from last week’s mix, then this week’s definitely gives you plenty of time to have a nice sit down and get your breath back.
The first two records in particular remind me of people, if you’ll indulge me for a moment. The opening track is by The Kinks, and whenever I hear a Kinks record I’m always reminded of my mate Rob, because an old double album of their Greatest Hits, which I’d bought on vinyl from Britannia Music Club when I was a kid, would always make an appearance when he came back to my place after a night out clubbing.
The Kinks’ song I’ve selected also always reminds me of my old mate Richie. He was the first person to ever play it to me, and he insisted on performing a whole routine based around the lyrics of the song, which he mouthed as he pranced around. Truly, the spectacle of him acting out the line “…and when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight…” was so funny it lives with me to this day, thirty-five (or so) years later.
He repeated the trick with the next song, the B-Side to Jilted John’s eponymous classic. You don’t hear Jilted John on the radio so much these days, as some of the phrases used in it are…let’s call them “of their time.” No such problem with GoingSteady, though, to my mind a much funnier song, which has does some “of their time” lyrics of its own, most notably when Double J mangles the word “butch” so that it rhymes with 70s police show stars Starsky & Hutch.
Anyway, I’ll waffle on no further, other than to slide my usual quality disclaimer in: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record choices are 100% mine.