Late Night Stargazing

Lifted from Super Furry Animals stalwart Cian Ciaran’s debut solo album Outside In, this is, this is quite lovely and unbearably sad at the same time.


Cian Ciaran – Love Thee Dearest

More soon.

Oh, and UK readers, don’t forget the clocks go forwards tonight.


Saturday Night Coming Up

Last Saturday, we left¬†our hero (that’s me, by the way)¬†having just dropped for the first time, standing (I can’t claim I was dancing, although there was definitely some sort of rhythmical movement going on. Twitching seems more accurate), sweat¬†pouring off me, staring out of the glass ceiling of the conservatory part of the bar we were in, rubbing the top of my head and trying to avoid eye contact with anybody, as I was pretty sure I’d be rumbled.

I mentioned two songs that I remember being played that night, and posted one. This is the other;¬†many people seem to get the name of the act and the song mixed up, presumably because the name of the act is mentioned in the song, but the song title isn’t.

Confused? You will be. I know I was.


Zombie Nation – Kernkraft 400

I think, responsible adult that I now am, I should add a little footnote to these posts. Even though I mention having taken drugs in these posts, this should in no way be construed as me condoning or recommending you do the same. Don’t do ’em, kids.

More soon.



Something Got Me Started

It’s funny, isn’t it, how the whole Brexit ideology seems to have very swiftly dissolved into rhetoric and symbolism.

Nowhere is this more true than the issue of the British passport.

Out of the EU, they told us, our passports can be blue again, like in the old days!


We could have chosen to have blue passports when we were in the EU. We just decided not to. We decided to go with the maroon colour we’re all so familiar with. Y’know, to fit in with¬†our friends in Europe. (The title of this post is a simply red/Simply Red¬†gag. Geddit?)

I’d also wager that most people don’t actually give a flying fuck what colour their passport is, as long as it does it’s job with the minimum of fuss.

And by “minimum of fuss” I mean this: less queuing at passport control.

Of course, deciding to leave the EU, and therefore making¬†movement between the UK and the rest of the EU more complicated, slower, does the opposite of this. It’s a good job we’re used to queuing.

And then this week, gloriously, it was announced that the contract for producing the new passports was awarded to…a French/Dutch company. Hey! Alannis! You might want to rewrite at least one of the lines of Ironic to include this!

Some have said that¬†EU rules¬†force us to accept the French/Dutch bid as it was the cheapest,¬†and that may be the case. But come on….if the Government accepted a bid that cost us more, then they’re going to get slaughtered for that instead.

Here’s some words you won’t hear me say often: I actually feel sorry for the British government at this point. What were they supposed to do?

Just wait until the UKIP lot find out the company in question is called De La Rue. Bit too close to Danny La Rue, that. And he was a homosexual, which is definitely not the stiff upper lip way.

This country – any country –¬†is run as a business. A business running at an absolutely massive deficit, but a business nonetheless. So, if you put a contract out for tender, provided the standard of the product is acceptable, then it doesn’t matter where the bidding firm is based, you accept the most attractive, competitive bid.

The EU hasn’t forced us to agree for¬†a French/Dutch company to produce the new passport; simple business and economical practices direct us to.

The contract represents a £120 million saving. Brexiteers (Oh how I hate that term) should be rejoicing that we have been able to place the business where we choose and save some money which can be invested elsewhere.

But no.

Much better to¬†moan about the fact it’s them Frenchies what did it (and not mention the Dutch, because we quite like them and they’re not French).

As ridiculous and¬†meaningless as it is: You got what you want, didn’t you? A blue passport (tick!)¬†produced as aesthetically pleasingly as possible (tick!), as cheaply as possible (tick!).

Perhaps you should chuck a load of passports into the Thames as a protest?

A tune, selected for the irony of it’s title more than anything (and, of course,¬†because it is a totally brilliant tune):


The Icicle Works – Love is a Wonderful Colour

More soon,

A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend

And so onwards, or rather, backwards, to 1988, or maybe 1989, and to a compilation I picked up on cassette in Cardiff’s legendary Spillers Records.

I wasn’t really in the habit of buying cassettes, so I must have really wanted this, and can only assume that a vinyl or CD copy wasn’t available in the shop on the day I visited.

Also, looking at the track listing, I can’t see anyone on there that I was especially¬†bothered with at the time. Maybe I bought this at around the time that I was just getting into either James or Inspiral Carpets, I dunno.

I suspect that the cover art had more to do with my compulsion to purchase there and then, for in 1988, I was obsessed with all things Smiths-related, and stone the crows if that isn’t either Morrissey or someone trying very hard to look like him right there on the cover:


Often with impulse buys such as these, I would listen to them a couple of times, and invariably decide that there was only one or two songs on them that I was particularly bothered about. However, I think because this was on cassette and therefore not so easy to skip to the next track if I disliked the one that was playing, in the way that it was with the vinyl or CD formats popular at the time, then I listened to it a lot and consequently came to love well over half of the 14 songs on here.

Let’s have a listen to the ones I liked and still like, shall we?

First up, a quirky band with a wacky name which I imagine they hoped, when announced, would elicit a positive response:

The Man From Delmonte – Australia Fair

According to Wikipedia, they were once managed by then-journalist and Frank Sidebottom band member, now-author and screenwriter¬†Jon Ronson. According to Google, there’s a band in Glasgow currently playing cover versions at weddings that is also called The Man From Delmonte. Looking at the photos and their set-lists on their website, I’m fairly confident they are not the same band.

Inspiral Carpets – Joe (Original Version)

This is the version with original singer Stephen Holt on vocals. It’s nowhere near as good as when the band re-recorded it with new singer Tom Hingley a few months later. Still worth¬†a listen, though.

I know nothing about this next lot, other than their name seems to be a place in Netherlands, and that they released an EP called Time Flies, also in 1988. This isn’t on it; it reminds me a little bit of The Bodines’ Therese:

Pepplekade 14 – Uptown

Next up, another band that the internet seems to know nothing about. I’m assuming that the purveyors of this rather heart-felt number are named after the 1970 Dylan album. Or maybe not.

New Morning – Working For A Payroll

On now to a band who I own a few records by, and who I love (one of their singles – not this one – is one of my favourite records ever, and will feature here soon), and who I think had they held it together, could have been a pretty great Indie band of the time. Sadly, by the time they released their debut album in 1989, they seemed to have lost their way a little, and they split in 1990. Guitarist Rob Collins went on to join The Charlatans.

The Waltones – Smile

Next, another track by an artist that I can find very little about on t’internet, although I think I may have located her Twitter. If it is her, she seems to be a clinical psychologist now. The pop world’s loss is the world of science and medicine’s gain. I say loss, because¬†this is rather great:

Penny Priest – Sometimes

And so to a band who a few years later would release a single also called Sometimes. You know who this lot are without any further explanation. As the compilation came out in 1988, this when they were still quite folksy. I had probably heard their marvellous Strip-mine album around the same time; I definitely¬†owned a copy of¬†The Smiths’ version of What’s The World. Either would have been sufficient to¬†prompt me to buy this.

James – Sky is Falling

I’m not sure I knew about Bradford when I bought this. Maybe I did, as Morrissey was waxing lyrical about their gorgeous single Skin Storm around this time, and my record collection from this period of my life is littered with records I bought simply because he had mentioned them in an interview somewhere. (Raymonde, anyone….?)

Bradford – Lust Roulette

Another band who fall into the “could have been massive” category now; their big mistake was signing to a major label. As soon as they did – and, heavens above, had a hit single, how very, very dare they!¬†– their credibility and appeal seemed to vanish. Shame.

The Railway Children – Sunflower Room

I’ve listened to the next song God knows how many times over the years, and always thought the voice reminded me of someone, but have never been able to quite put my finger on it. And then, when writing this and performing the most basic of internet searches, I found out that it’s actually John Bramwell, in pre- I Am Kloot days. I think I’ll spend the rest of my days face-palming myself about that, because now, as I listen to it again, it’s bloody obvious it’s him.

Johnny Dangerously – Subway Life

And finally, to a band that I have a little story about. At the end of the 1988/89 academic year, I joined the Ents Team at university – aww, who am I kidding, it was a Polytechnic when I was there, changing to a University literally days after I graduated – and began DJ’ing. Often on a Friday night, we would showcase an up-and-coming band, and there would be a DJ in between the acts and then again after they’d all finished. I’d been dropping this next song regularly on the Indie Night I did, and so when the band were booked for one of the Friday night shows, it made sense for me to do the DJ’ing honours. (Plus, I got paid the same as if I did a whole night. Which was nice.)

We had a general rule of thumb that whilst we would play records by bands booked to appear in the future, we wouldn’t play their records on the night, just in case their live performance drew unfavourable comparisons.

So after they’d finished, I made my way to the Ents Office, which doubled up on gig nights as the band’s dressing room. Occasionally, audience members would queue up outside the dressing room door (which was right next to the stage) after the gig and ask if they could come backstage and meet them. Even more occasionally, they agreed.

The only person waiting was my mate Keith, and, since I had an AAA pass (there really wasn’t that many areas that I needed access to, to be honest), I told him to come in. The band were there, towelling themselves down, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, generally winding down.

“Great gig, lads!” I exclaimed.

They looked up, semi-gratefully, nodding, grunting a¬†“Cheers mate” response.

“Shame you didn’t play Janice is Gone,” Keith enthused.

They all stopped what they were doing, turned to stare at him, mouths agape.

“You know Janice is Gone??” one said in an apparent state of shock.

“Yeh,” Keith continued, “Jez’s is always playing it.”

They all looked at me.

“Hello!” I said cheerfully, giving them a wave. “I’m Jez and I play Janice is Gone a lot. Usually goes down pretty well, too.”

I’ve never seen a group of guys look so incredulously excited.

“We’re playing the Students Union in Cardiff tomorrow. Want to come? We’ll stick you on the guest list?”

Keith and I joined them in excited incredulity. Put on the guest list by the band! This was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to these two 19 year old music nerds.

And so the next night, we rocked up to the front of the queue for The Hanging Gardens in Cardiff University’s Students Union,¬†a much bigger venue then the one at our Polytechnic, but where they did much the same thing on a Saturday night as we did on a Friday.

“Hi, we’re on the guest list,” I said to the guy on the door, who got his clipboard out, found our names, and ushered us in. Already this was going brilliantly.

The band came on, and true to their word, played the song, and dedicated it to Keith and I, “their oldest fans”.

Here it is. It really is a cracking little record. The titular Janice¬†is none other than Janice Long, and the song is about¬†when (if I remember correctly) she¬†was forced to leave her Radio 1 show because¬† she was pregnant and unmarried.¬†Generally, mostly, when¬†I’ve played this to people since, they’ve wondered why the band didn’t carry on making songs this good.

Milltown Brothers – Janice Is Gone

Told you so.

After the gig, Keith and I went backstage again, congratulated the band and thanked them for playing Janice… It had gone down well, so they were pretty chuffed too, and said they’d think about keeping it in the set for a while. They gave us some beer from the rider (which was way more impressive than the one we’d provided them with the¬†night before). After a while we all ventured out into the venue again, where an Indie Disco was in full swing.

I say this like we were part of their gang by now. We felt like we were, but looking back at it now, I can clearly see that we were just following them round, very occasionally exchanging words.

And then it all kicked off. The keyboard player got himself into a conversation, and then a disagreement, and then an argument, and then a fight, with one of the bouncers. The next thing we knew, he, along with the rest of the band, were being escorted from the premises. One of the¬†bouncers looked at Keith and I. “Are you with them?”

“Who? Us??” we replied, butter-wouldn’t-melt expressions magically appearing. “No mate, we’re just students. That’s the band you’ve just thrown out.”

He shrugged and walked off.

Many bands on the way up say they can’t get arrested. The Milltown Brothers managed to get themselves chucked out of their own gig.

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #18

I’m going to assume you’re all clever enough to be watching Mum.


*Deep breath* Okay…

I mentioned it in passing way back here when the first series was on, and the show is currently nearing the end of it’s second series on the BBC.

Written and directed by Stefan Glaszewski, who cut his comedy teeth in sketch group Cowards and was also responsible for the almost as brilliant Him and Her, it tells the story of Cathy (played by Lesley Manville), trying to carry on after the death of her husband. Which doesn’t sound like the most cheerful of premise for a comedy show, I’ll admit, but it’s so well written and acted it’s pretty much perfect and irresistible.

The ensemble cast includes her son, Jason (Sam Swainsbury) who still lives at home with her (and is always eating), and his girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrills) who, shall we say, is not the brightest bead on the rosary. As with Him and Her, every episode is filmed in the same location, the family home, where Cathy, Jason and Kelly are inevitably visited by Cathy’s newly-separated brother Derek (Ross Boatman) and his hideously wannabe posh new girlfriend Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson), who spends every scene looking down her nose at whoever she is on screen with her. Also in tow are her in-laws, the fabulously cantankerous, bewildered and foul-mouthed Reg (Karl Johnson) and Maureen (Marlene Sidaway).

And then there’s Michael (Peter Mullan). I’ve only ever seen Mullan play tough nuts, bad guys or Swanney (aka Mother Superior, on the account of the length of his habit, in Trainspotting) before, so his portrayal of Michael is a real revelation to me. Michael clearly is clearly smitten with Cathy, is forever popping round to do jobs for her in the hope that she’ll notice him in “that way”, never able to tell her that he has feelings for fear of ruining their friendship. Every time he is interrupted by someone else walking into the room when he’s alone with Cathy, who can see in his eyes the inner torment that’s raging.

It’s this relationship which forms the heart of the show, a “will they/won’t they” scenario that you’re genuinely hoping will end positively, even though you know that will almost definitely spell the end of the programme.

Often with the show, it’s not about what is said, it’s the silences, the nuances, the looks between the characters that really makes Mum so wonderful. It’s like a funny Pinter play. I can’t speak highly enough of it, so if you haven’t done so yet, check it out on the BBC iPlayer whilst you still can. Suffice it to say, if you loved Detectorists – and if you didn’t then we can never really be friends – then chances are you’ll also love Mum.

Oh, and then there’s the theme tune, a revival of the 1931 Carter Family song “When I’m Gone”, which, depending on which corner of the internet you look, is either called “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, “Cups”, “When I’m Gone”, “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me)” or “You’re Gonna Miss Me (Cups)” and so on and so forth. What is not up for debate is that it’s by Lulu and the Lampshades, and the “Cups” refers to the method of percussion used in their interpretation, but I’m pretty sure I can hear some claps and clicks in there too:

lulu (2)

Lulu and the Lampshades – You’re Gonna Miss Me

More soon.

They Want Your Soul

I’ve not had a really good rant on here for ages, have I?

You shouldn’t take that as a sign that I’m mellowing with age. Far from it. It’s just that things seem to happen so fast these days, by the time I’ve crystallised my thoughts, formulated the argument I want to put forward¬†and, more importantly, thought of a decent song which sort of links to the topic under scrutiny, the news has moved on to the next thing that we’re supposed to feel outrage about.

For example, a little over two weeks ago, a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury. By the time I’d had chance to read up on it, identify some reliable sources to quote and choose a couple of absolute doozies of tunes to play, I looked up and found that the debate was no longer about whether or not the Russians were responsible, but had moved on to the much more important topic about whether or not the BBC had made Jeremy Corbyn’s hat¬†look “a bit Russian” in a backdrop on Newsnight.¬†And I have no decent records about hats, or rather none that I’d care to sully the already sullied name of this blog by posting.

So that one sits on the back-burner for now; apparently the police investigation into it is likely to last until summer so, y’know, it can wait.

I did have a pretty good tune ready for whenever I saw that the next round of Brexit negotiations starting again, but really the whole Brexit debacle seems to be one long blur of never-ending lies and mind-blowing incompetent twattery…I’m sure there’ll be plenty of time to return to this too. Well, there definitely will be, for we now know that the terms of the Brexit Transition Period have now been agreed. And just how many points was¬†the guy in our corner, David “Double D” Davies, able to get¬†the EU to concede to in order that a transition period could be agreed? None. And what about the other way round – how many of the EU negotiator’s points did Davies agree to? All of them.

Oh go on then, you can have that tune now:


Grace Jones – Send in the Clowns

And then over the past few days, the whole matter of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica hit the fan. Just in case you’re not fully up to speed on this: following a whistle-blower interview and confession,¬†Cambridge Analytica have sort of¬†admitted to helping UKIP’s Brexit efforts to win the referendum by harvesting information based on the sort of stuff people post on Facebook, then identifying people who seemed likely to vote Leave, or seemed undecided, or just seemed to be an idiot, and targeted them with false information designed to gently nudge them towards voting the way their paymasters wanted them to. It’s¬†like when you were younger, and didn’t want to go out with your partner anymore, but didn’t want to be seen to be the one to finish things: you behave in a way so subtly appalling as to make them end things and think it was their idea all along.

Cambridge Analytica, of course, denied any wrong-doing, and in fact they had never helped the¬†Leave campaign and if they did, which they definitely didn’t, but if they did, then it was only for¬†a bit, and they definitely weren’t paid for it, they did it as a freebie, not that they did anything at all.

Meanwhile, central figures in the Leave campaign, namely Aaron Banks Рco-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, and one of the largest donors to UKIP has posted this on Twitter:


Bit awkward.

Just in case you don’t recognise Banks, here’s a picture which you definitely will recognise, which some kind soul captioned so that we can identify all of the lovely people posing:


And this turns out to be quite a handy way for me link to¬†the fact that Cambridge Analytica is¬†not just accused of meddling in the EU Referendum,¬†they’re also implicated – along with them pesky Russians, of course – in some distinctly underhand¬†shenanigans on Facebook in the US Elections back in 2016. Perhaps come back to this another time.

But make no bones about it, whilst the focus is, for the moment, on Cambridge Analytica, Facebook are just as culpable in my eyes for allowing them to do what they’ve done. Moreover, they’ve¬†known about this for at least two years and have taken no action¬†until the current crisis hit.

Personally, ever since I learned about updated Terms & Conditions that Facebook had implemented which basically said that any content that you uploaded onto there was, essentially, theirs to do with as they please, I’ve practically stopped using Facebook. I rarely post anything there, but I have a few friends who are on there and who I see rarely, so it’s a handy way of staying in touch with them. However, the consequence of me not posting anything on Facebook pre-Brexit to indicate my political inclinations meant that I didn’t have to wade through any of that guff on the occasions when I decided to flick through my time-line to see what they had been up to.

The thing is, many people did not realise how the data that they innocently posted on Facebook was going to be used, and may still be used. Facebook followed the iTunes model of knowing full well that when they send customers a 12+ page updated Terms & Conditions, with the possibility of clicking “Accept” rather than actually having to read them all, 99% of them will take that option. Which means that Facebook, iTunes et al,¬†can put whatever they like in those T&C’s and You and I will have no idea what’s in them.

And then, when we complain, they can say “You clicked ‘Accept’. Sorry.”

Which all sounds a bit mad conspiratorial 1984 Big Brother, I guess. And normally I’d agree, if this wasn’t all getting played out right now.

A tune, then, which I’ve not been able to get out of my head since the story started to emerge:


Freeland – We Want Your Soul

More soon.