Late Night Stargazing

Tonight, a tune I was inspired to post by one of the ones I included in Friday night’s Halloween mix.

I’d not listened to Bloc Party’s ‘Hunting for Witches’ – or anything by Bloc Party, for thst matter – for quite a long time, so I had forgotten there’s that bit at the start where it sounds like someone scanning an old radio.

And that reminded me of this tune, which I got on a free “Best of 2002” CD with Musik magazine back in…er….2002, which takes a similar bitty approach to the construction of a tune to the nth degree:

Akufen – Deck The House

PS: UK peeps, don’t forget the clocks go back tonight.

More soon.

Halloween Night Music Club

So much for my “no more themed mixes” rule – you didn’t really expect I’d be able to resist doing one for Halloween, did you?

See, there’s so many Halloweur/scary/monsters linked songs (and there’s a clue right there as to the identity o)f one that features this week), I could have made this one at least three times as long, had I been so inclined. But I managed to resist temptaion, and kept it to (just over) an hour – the trimmed ones can make their appearances next year. Or the year after. Or the year after that.

Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Halloween. The only good thing about it, as far as I can see, is that I can legitimately keep my curtains closed and refuse to answer the door all weekend.

Anyway, here we go with what I hope is not an entirely predictable mix for you all to enjoy whilst stuffing your faces full of the candy you decided not to give to Trick or Treaters, or whilst you’re cleaning the smashed eggs off your front door having ignored them.

I’d recommend turning the lights off, drawing the curtains, lighting some candles and turning it up loud:

Halloween Night Music Club

And here’s your track-listing and sleeve notes. Look away now if you like surprises!

  1. John Murphy – In The House – In A Heartbeat

Or, the super spooky music from one of the best British horror movies from the last 20 years: Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. It beautifully encaspulates the peace and silence which pre-empts all the blood and gore and zombies in a loudQUIETloud kinda way. I don’t profess to be an expert of either band, but it does make me think of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

In case you’ve never seen it, a) what on earth have you been doing? and b) here’s the trailer, which includes some of those iconic deserted London scenes which were breath-taking at the time (and still are):

The thing I love most about 28 Days Later is that for the first 2/3 of the film, you think it’s just another zombie movie, albeit majesticaly and creatively filmed. But when the last 1/3 kicks in, you realise that’s not what the film is about at all,,,

2. Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead

From John to Pete Murphy. I could have filled this mix with goth classics, but in the end plumped for just the one. And if I’m lucky, I’ll have squeezed this in just before SWC completes his wonderfully entertaining countdown of the Top 20 Goth records over at No Badger Required and, since it hasn’t featured yet, I assume crowns this as #1.

This is as intense and moody as hell, slowly building from the intricate drum patterns which sound like flapping bats’ wings, through to the booming darkness of the lyrics: it’s one heck of a record.

Mr Lugosi was unavailable for comment. Because he’s dead.

3. David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

From the album with the same name, the first after his notoriously influential, but commercially unsuccesful, Berlin trilogy. Apparently, this return to a more commerical sound (!) was inspired by his loathing of Gary Numan, who was viewed as a Bowie rip-off.

4. The Automatic – Monster

A remix of this almost appeared in a recent Friday Night mix, but got dropped at the last minute. Which is lucky, because it’s ideal for this one.

I’ve never actually read an interview with this Cardiff based band to confirm it – Wiki says the lyrics were “…a metaphor for the monster that comes out when people are intoxicated…” – but I definitely heard that it was about when all the boys from the Valleys would descend on the capital city of a Saturday night and cause absolute mayhem.

5. Peaches – Trick or Treat

Extraordinarily for a record by Peaches, I don’t think this contains any actual swears. Sure, there’s innuendo a-plenty – at least that’s what I assume her mention of never going to bed without a piece of raw meat is, anyway. Probably best I slap one of these on it anyway, to be on the safe side:

6. Radiohead – Bodysnatchers

Included for two reasons: i) when I was a kid, the movie Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (the remake, with Donald Sutherland) absolutely scared the crap out of me, and ii) because it’s one of the many tunes where Thom Yorke sounds in tortured pain, which seems appropriate somehow.

7. Miley Cyrus – I Get So Scared

If you’ve not yet succumbed to the charms of Miss Cyrus, then may I direct you to the album this is lifted from, Мiley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, described in various quarters as experimental, psychedelic, psychedelic pop and space pop, which will come as less of a surprise when you learn that Wayne Coyne and the boys from The Flaming Lips were massive influences on the creative process and feature on the record too. Seriously: check it out. It absolutely changed my perception of her.

Anyway, there’s no need to be scared, Miley; here’s….

8. Bobby ”Boris” Picket & The Crypt Kickers – Monster Mash

Predictable? You betcha. It’s still great though, 50 years since it was first released.

9. Bloc Party – Hunting for Witches

I don’t have much to say about this one, other than it’s obvious why it’s here and it sounds like…well, like Bloc Party.

Actually, I would say that hunting for witches sounds like a very bad idea indeed. I mean, what are you going to do if you catch one? End up in a disappointing sitcom?

Yes, you.

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Burn The Witch

Ah yes, that’s always an option, I guess.

11. Spinnerette – All Babes Are Wolves

The placing of this, by the former Mrs Josh Homme, is entirely coincidental. Honest. It does provide a rather nice segue into tunes about wolves, mind. Plus, it’s a terrific record, in a quite-a-bit-like-Hole kinda way; a record which was largely and unjustly mostly overlooked when it was released in 2009 and deserves to be revisited.

12. TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

Neil! Neil! I remembered it all by myself!

13. Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

Another from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile.

Included for two reasons: i) I don’t think, and I’m open to correction, any other single to make the UK chart has the word spewing in it; I’m certain no others have He finds his heaven spewing from the mouth of hell, and ii) these are preceded by perhaps the most ludicrously misplaced Ooh yeah baby! ever committed to vinyl.

Genius, in a bat-biting, ant-snorting kind of way.

14. Super Furry Animals – Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon

Time for a breather before the glorious finale, and it seemed appropriate to follow up a record where the lead singer dressed up as a werewolf (a furry animal, no less) on the cover of Bark at the Moon, with a song by the Super Furry Animals, who aren’t adverse to dressing up as big furry animals themselves, singing about how we should just let Ozzy get on with it. Sort of.

15. Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon

Not just the last record from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile, but the last record in this mix.

And I need say no more about it than this: magnificent.

Oh, and: more soon.

New Mood on Monday

Apologies for the absence of any posts for over a week; contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t busy trying to rustle up 100 supportive Tory MPs, rather I was away this weekend and didn’t have time to write anything before I set off on Friday morning.

I actually spent the weekend meeting up with my old group of friends, some of whom I’ve not seen since before lockdown, in a massive house in East Sussex.

The venue was amazing: set in what seemed to be endless acres of land, with a swimming pool, a tennis court (not that I used either), enough rooms that all the kids could attend and play with each other without disturbing the adults unduly, a massive open-plan kitchen/dining area with bluetooth speakers set into the ceiling – a perfect place for drinking and dancing to take place. Suffice it to say, we had a really great weekend.

The reason we were meeting up? It was to celebrate the first from the gang to join me in the 50+ club. They shall remain nameless, since I’m fairly sure they wouldn’t want their age to be announced here.

Because of the magnificence of the venue, I’ve had just one song on my mind all weekend to post on my return:

Blur – Country House

That was, of course, the single which won the Blur vs Oasis battle to top the UK singles chart in 1995. It was up against Oasis’s Roll With It, a song which earned the band the nickname Quoasis, which briefly made them a little more appealing to me.

But let’s me honest, neither of them were the finest moment in either band’s career.

I’m sure I’ve said it before on these pages, but I never really bought into the idea that you had to pick one or the other, that allegiance had to be shown, that it was forbidden for anyone to like both.

As it happens, I bought both singles on the week of release, possibly trying to get a reaction out of the girl working at Our Price in Cardiff. I refused to be pigeon-holed, although it may be telling that I bought each in a different format: Blur on CD single, Oasis on cass-single.

Anyway, Happy 50th Hel!

(Oopsies!)

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s about time, I think, that I posted something else by the late, great John Prine. It’s Prine Time, if you will.

This is the closing track from 1980’s Storm Windows album, when he was rocking an air-brushed Dave Grohl meets David Crosby look. The record which saw Prine returning to a more Country sound, following the absolute slating his previous album, 1979’s Pink Cadillac, received at the hands of the critics:

John Prine – I Had a Dream

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

After declaring on here a couple of week’s ago that there would no longer be themes to these mixes, I found that on the first completion of this week’s mix, that’s exactly what I’d gone and done. You’ll probably guess from the first couple of tunes, and then another couple later on, this was going to one which featured nothing but pop records

So having painted myself into a bit of a corner, I had to U-turn faster than Liz Truss’ car in Autopilot mode; fortuitously, me dropping a load of pop songs from a mix and sticking a whole load more in their place doesn’t have the effect of crashing the economy. Again.

Because this week’s has been subject to several revisions, I’ve not had time to write any sleeve notes again. I’m sure you’ll learn to live with that.

So, here you go: 18 songs, 63 1/2 minutes of partly poppy fun:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 22

Look out, track listing incoming!:

  1. The Lightning Seeds – Ready Or Not
  2. Blur – Popscene
  3. The Associates – Party Fears Two
  4. Courtney Barnett – Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party
  5. Cansei De Ser Sexy – Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above
  6. 5ive – Everybody Get Up
  7. Blink-182 – All The Small Things
  8. Girls Aloud – No Good Advice
  9. Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
  10. The Sugarcubes – Hit
  11. Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrel Williams – Drop it Like Its Hot
  12. Britney Spears – I’m A Slave 4 U
  13. Charlotte Church – Crazy Chick
  14. Scissor Sisters – Filthy/Gorgeous
  15. The Sweet – Ballroom Blitz
  16. New York Dolls – Personality Crisis
  17. The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow
  18. The Charlatans – North Country Boy

More soon.

The 100 Greatest UK Number 1 Singles – #89

The other day I was winding down after work, watching tea-time quiz show Pointless (now with 100% less Richard Osman), when I heard guest host, actor Stephen Mangan, mention something which sounded strangely familiar.

You’ll recognise Mangan if not from his name then perhaps from one of his many stints guest-hosting Have I Got News For You, or from appearing in such comedies as Green Wing, Nathan Barley or Episodes, or as the voice of the eponymous hero in Postman Pat: The Movie, or in TV dramas like The Split, or films like Billy Elliott or Rush, or, most likely, for being on the receiving end, albeit unaware that he was, of this classic bit of Partridge:

(And yes, you’re right, all of that was just an excuse to post a clip of North Norfolk’s finest.)

Anyway, the strangely familiar thing that I heard him say was along the lines of: “In 2020, The Guardian newspaper printed a list of what they considered to be the greatest 100 singles to reach the #1 position in the UK charts. Please name any of the artists which featured on the list, trying to choose ones which the fewest of our audience of 100 people remembered.”

Wait a minute, I thought: I used to write a series on exactly this subject, which I would preface with the words: This is the series where I feature The Guardian’s idea of the 100 best UK #1s ever, and we see what I have to say about them (which usually isn’t much, to be honest).

This will be a doddle, I also thought, before being totally baffled when I didn’t remember writing about any of the songs mentioned. And that was because I hadn’t written one since June this year, and in fact had only gotten as far as #90 in the countdown, despite having started the series back in November 2020.

When I last bothered to write one of these, I mentioned that I had deliberately not checked further on the list to see what awaited me, and the subject’s appearance on Pointless had somewhat scuppered that for me. But every cloud has a silver lining: I now know that I can continue safe in the knowledge that I won’t be having to feature anything by Ed Sheeran in this series.

So, what did The Guardian have to say about the record which had reached the giddy heights of #89 in their chart? This:

“Producer Richard X gets a lot of credit for the shuddering magnitude of invention behind the Sugababes’ debut UK No 1 – the first legit single of the 2000s bootleg wave, bringing together Adina Howard and Tubeway Army – but not all of it. The newly minted trio of Mutya, Keisha and Heidi pull off a more convincing “I’m grown now” transition than any of their American pop peers, thanks to the terrifying nonchalance innate to British teenage girls. It’s got a classic belting “may-ee!” (that’s “me” in millennial pop terms) and without it, you wouldn’t have Sound of the Underground – or, even, possibly, whisper it, Toxic.”

They, speak, of course, of this:

Sugababes – Freak Like Me

I’m not sure I follow the argument that without this record there wouldn’t be a Sound of the Underground – the idea of manufactured female pop groups was hardly a new idea when Sugababes appeared on the scene – and I honestly can’t see any link at all between Freak… and Toxic, other then the gender of the performer(s).

I’d be gobsmacked if neither of those records feature later on in the countdown, so we’ll return to this theory then (if I remember and if I get that far, of course).

What I would say is that Sugababes are possibly my second favourite all-female pop group, after the aforementioned Girls Aloud, and probably vying for second place with Bananarama.

And it always annoys me when they’re subject to very predictable jokes about the ever-evolving line-up (which, hands up, I’ve been guilty of myself); they’re truly the Trigger’s broom of the pop world:

But I digress: what of this mention of Freak… being “…the first legit single of the 2000s bootleg wave….”? That “…2000s bootleg wave…” is The Guardian’s way of saying “mash-ups”, which for those of you unfamiliar with either terminologies is where the music from one song has the lyrical part of another laid on top of it, thereby creating – hey presto! – a completely new song. Think sampling taken to the nth degree.

These were immensely popular at the start of the century, as a billion bedroom DJs produced their own. Barely a week would go by without another one where Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On was suddenly backed by the theme tune to Pebble Mll at One, or something equally ridiculous, and to be fair, they were a lot of fun, for a while. Still are when you stumble upon a decent one.

Perhaps it was the musical snob in me that disliked ones where a sample of the lyrics from the featured music also briefly appeared; this seemed to me to be at best a case of giving the listener a helping hand in identifying both featured tunes, or at worst the mixer wanting to show off (“Look at what I did!”, “Yes, we get it, very clever!”).

But Sugababes manage to dodge this particular bullet by keeping the lyrics of Adina Howard’s original…:

Adina’s range of discreet sanitary products never really took off

Adina Howard – Freak Like Me

…entirely seperate from the mechanical mumblings of Gary Numan on Tubeway Army’s classic:

Tubeway Army – Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

But returning to that Guardian description, and the reference to the Sugababes’ Freak… being “…the first legit single of the 2000s bootleg wave“; the word ‘legit’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, since surely the credit for the first mash-up single to go overground must go to Freelance Hellraiser’s A Stroke of Genius, which combined the music from The Strokes’ track Hard To Explain with Christina Aguilera’s pop hit Genie in a Bottle“. It was met with a ‘cease and desist’ order from the record label which housed both Aguilera and The Strokes, RCA:

The Freelance Hellraiser – A Stroke of Genius

A Stroke of Genius came out in 2001 and didn’t chart (probably due to that ‘cease and desist’ order); Sugababes’ Freak Like Me was released in 2002. See? It’s all about that word “legit”.

And of course, I’ve written all of this without even mentioning the producer behind Freak…, on Richard X; but it’s getting kinda late now and I’ve banged on for quite long enough, so I’ll revisit him another time.

All of which rather implies that I don’t have much time for the record at #89, and that would be incorrect, for I think it’s a ruddy marvellous tune which, depending on what lies ahead of us, probably should be placed higher than this lowly position.

More soon.

PS – Despite my confusion, I still got all of the answers on that round of Pointless.

TuesGays

No, not a typo.

A few weeks ago as I was walking home from the town centre, a sign which I must have walked past a few dozen times since I relocated here caught my eye.

It was for a nightclub which I have never yet known to be open, but that’s probably because I’m not generally out when clubbing folks are out going to clubs these days.

Anyway, the sign looked like this:

It’s bugged me ever since that the marketing team coudn’t decide whether to call it TuesGay or TuesGays before releasing the promotional material. Come on guys, pick a side – your Tueday night punters clearly have!

I do worry sometimes that perhaps this place isn’t inclusive enough and so ever since I spotted this, I’ve toyed with the idea of a new series, posting songs by, or embraced and associated by, our friends in the LBGTQ+ community every Tuesday, and, obviously nicking the name for the series from you-know-where.

But I wanted to be sure that in doing so my intentions weren’t misconstrued. Rest assured, these will be songs that I love too.

Even more than that, I don’t want to accidentally “out” someone, or worse still, incorrectly “out” someone.

So I figured I’d start on safe ground, he says with a knowing wink and an innocent halo emoji:

Electric Six – Gay Bar

…which of course gives me the opportunity to post the very funny video too:

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

Anniversary time again as this, these words that you’re reading right now, are the opening sentence in my 2000th post.

And what better way to mark the occasion, and to give you the pick-me-up you didn’t know you needed until you realised it’s Monday morning, than this:

Pulp – Disco 2000

More soon

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I’m not really sure why I’ve always ignored Neko Case.

But a while ago, I picked up her retrospective album Wild Creatures and was blown away by her.

Here’s the live version of one of her songs from that album that I love, even if she can’t spell the title correctly:

Neko Case – Favorite

Stunning.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Tonight, a song which, when I first heard the album it lives on, was probably my least favourite song by the band in question. And that’s despite it featuring rather a good joke, which I can’t be the only one to have noticed, but which I’ve never seen anyone else mention.

Tonight’s song is by The Smiths, and is lifted from their final studio album, 1987’s Strangeways Here We Come.

Now. I know many people feel conflicted about The Smiths these days, on account of Morrissey turning out to be a a supporter of extreme right wing views. But back in the 80s, he and his lyrics, combined with Johnny Marr’s often juxtaposed guitar work, were the main appeal of The Smiths.

Integral parts of the whole that they were, literally nobody loved The Smiths because of Mike Joyce’s drumming or Andy Rourke’s bass lines. It was all about Morrissey’s tormented words, making a virtue of solitude and outsider-ness, offset against Marr’s chiming, jangly guitar.

How we all laughed, as we earnestly did our Morrissey impressions on the dancefloors of indie clubs, wearing our cardigans, pretending to have either a hearing aid or a fistful of gladioli, wagging a finger and furrowing our brow as we sang-a-long-a-Mozzer.

We suspected, of course, that something was not quite right – the interview where he announced that “all reggae is vile”, for example (he’s just thinking of UB40, surely?) – but these thoughts never encroached or disturbed the lyrical content, which remained steadfastly both left-wing and Northern. But we chose to ignore it.

Until tonight’s record.

I’d like to think that Marr had some degree of creative control, and refused to allow some lyrics through. He doesn’t mention it in his excellent autobiography, Set The Boy Free, but then again he was never the kiss-and-tell type.

And although Death of a Disco Dancer seems to be a pondering of life, death and the afterlife, that title has always bothered me. It seems to at best to witheringly accept, at worst condone, the bludgeoning of someone who likes disco music – a genre usually associated with either gay or ethnic communities – in a manner which didn’t manifest itself again until Morrissey’s solo work – see Bengali in Platforms‘ “Life is hard enough when you belong here”, or all of The National Front Disco, with all it’s orchestrated Union Jack waving, skinhead baiting Finsbury Park rhetoric.

So what to do? Do we deny our experience and love of The Smiths on the basis of what Morrissey patently is, or at best, has become. I know of many people who cannot bring themselves to listen to the band’s records, because of what he now represents. I get that, totally.

Me? Until now, I’ve made a disctinction between him in The Smiths and his solo work. The Smiths stuff has the dust blown of its grooves every now and again, but the solo Morrissey records have obstinantly remained on the racks. Fortuitously, much of the latter has been dull and plodding pub-rock – watch his band try and perform The Smiths’ hits live compared with how Marr handles it, and there’s a world of difference.

My rule has been this: post nothing of his solo work, but if you absolutely must, thenposting The Smiths is fine because everything was (almost) okay back then.

On my commute to and from work on Friday, my trusty iPod kept shuffling Smiths’ tunes into my ears which I’d not listened to in ages because, well….because. And it was lovely to hear I Don’t Owe You Anything, and tonight’s tune, and Rusholme Ruffians. And then it gave me Suedehead, and I began pondering cancel culture.

Suedehead is a magificent record which holds many memories for me; am I to deny myself the pleasure of ever listening to it, of reliving those memories, simply because I disagree with the singer’s political views? Am I heck.

Have I stopped posting Ian Brown’s records because he was a vocal anti-vaxxer? No. I rarely post anything from his solo canon because it’s not very good (bar F.E.A.R.).

Do I refuse to post anything by Gary Numan just because he does more than dress to the right? No (but again, get passed Are Friends Electric? and Cars and there’s little I’d be likely to mention.

Why do radio stations continue to play Micahel Jackson, but not Gary Glitter? Does it make a difference that one was convicted whilst the other paid off his accusers victims?

The list goes on. And the thing with being cancelled is that rarely has the person moaning about having been excluded actually been so – if they had, then we wouldn’t hear them complaining about it.

So I refuse to deny myself the pleasure of listening to or featuring records by artist swith whom I disagree. But when I do, I’ll be mentioning why I feel conflicted. And I think I’ve covered that tonight.

So here’s Death of a Disco Dancer in all it’s possibly racist and homophobic, sounds-a-bit-like Dear Prudence grandeur:

The Smiths – Death Of A Disco Dancer

And here’s Morrissey wearing a For Britain badge on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:

And here’s a close-up, just in case you weren’t sure:

And as for that joke I mentioned earlier? Well, the pawing at the piano described as being keyboards on that is none other than Morrissey himself, and this after him singing on The Queen is Dead : “She says ‘I know you and you cannot sing’; I said ‘That’s nothing you should hear me play piano!'”.

That joke isn’t funny anymore.

But this is: Jools Holland playing piano with The Beach Boys after Adam Buxton has “just tweaked the sound ever so slightly”:

More soon.