Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s not been the greatest 7 days in the world of celebrities surviving until the end of the week.

I have a nasty feeling that I’ve forgotten someone, but we lost actor Anne Heche (I’m not overly familiar with her work, but she’s bloody great in Donnie Brasco); one third of the legendary Holland/Dozier/Holland song-writing and production team, Lamont Dozier, and at least one other person I’m going to kick myself for forgetting shortly after I posted this.

And Olivia Newton-John.

For many, she will always be Sandy in the 1978 smasheroo movie Grease, a film which I have to begrudgingly admit has some popular tunes. But when it comes to the plot of the film, I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with an ex-Arsenal player:

He’s (w)right, of course. Olivia’s role in Grease is not a great role model in these times. Can you imagine Grease being made today? It simply wouldn’t happen, not in the same way as it did back in 1978. Now, Danny would have to learn to appreciate Sandy for who she is, rather than how she dresses. And I say that’s good progress.

None of which is Olivia’s fault, of course.

Grease spawned a whole load of hit singles, and monopolised the top of the charts for a good chunk of the late 70s. I was going to post Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker’s godawful version of You’re The One That I Want now, but it seems disrespectful.

But Olivia had a decent career either side of Grease, popping up in the early 80s collaborating with ELO on the theme tune to Xanadu, before cashing in on her sex-bomb, good-girl-turned-bad persona with Physical in 1981, the video for which probably had thousands of pubescent boys reaching for the tissues.

Pre-Grease, though, she was the sweet smiling innocent looking singer, and she carved a career out of releasing great pop singles and had seven Top Ten Billboard Hot Country singles, mostly cover versions, and such is this morning’s choice: a cover of a clean-living John Denver track by a clean-living Country gal, which she almost manages to infuse with a gospel sound at the start:

Olivia Newton-John – Take Me Home Country Roads

R.I.P. Lovely Livvy.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

It’s fairly well documented round these parts that I bloody love R.E.M., but even I will concede that after Bill Berry left, there’s very little of any merit in the remaining albums they put out.

I struggle to recognise the titles on some of them. Sometimes one comes up on shuffle and whilst I recognise it as being R.E.M. – Stipe’s vocals were distinctive until the end, even if his lyrics weren’t – but I have no clue which album it might be on. At a push, I could probably name the singles from each, but I wouldn’t want to make it my specialised subject on Mastermind (I have made my peace with the fact that I will never appear as a contestant on Celebrity Mastermind).

So imagine my surprise when one such song came upon shuffle the other night, and I found myself thinking: That’s not so bad, really. Granted, it’s no Country Feedback (but what is??), but still, y’know, okay, even if that is in the context of their latter career with it’s diminishing returns?

This one:

R.E.M – Until The Day Is Done

As I say: not great, but not terrible either. Alright, I guess.

I’ve not really sold this one to you, have I?

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #26

Last weekend, when I really should have been working on my extremely overgrown back garden (not a euphemism), or sorting out my man-cave (also not a euphemism) both in advance of my first guests coming to visit in mid-September, I actually spent the whole time glued to the television. I am truly the Prince of Procrastination.

I noticed the other day that all three series of Mum are now available to watch on the BBC iPlayer, a show which I loved and (I think) I wrote about on here at the time.

It turns out it’s there to whet the appetite for a brand new series by the chap who wrote Mum, Stefan Golaszewski, which starts on BBC1 tomorrow night (Sunday 14th August 2022, in case you’re not reading this on the day of publication). Marriage stars Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, and having had my passion for Golaszewski’s writing reignited by my Mum-binge, I can’t wait. They’re both great actors, but neither renowned for their comedic chops.

But that’s fine, because the central pairing of Mum weren’t either.

In case you’ve never seen it, Mum tells the story of recently bereaved Cathy (Lesley Manville – most recently seen in BBC1 drama Sherwood, which I also heartily recommend, but for very different reasons) and the possibility of a romance blossoming with her dead husband’s best mate, Michael (Peter Mullan).

Of the two, it was perhaps Mullan’s casting which raised most eyebrows, and I gather he took quite some persuading to take the role on. Which is hardly surprising when you think about the weathered tough guy roles he had made his name playing: I first encountered him as a largely silent hood in Danny Boyle’s 1994 movie Shallow Grave, then he popped up again in Boyle’s masterpiece Trainspotting as Swanney ‘Mother Superior’ (“So called because of the length of his habit”), who spends much of the film cooking up on a kitchen breakfast bar in a filthy crack-den, and takes Renton (Ewan McGregor) to hospital after he OD’s in his flat. But you know all this, right?

The beauty of Mum is the naturalistic conversation, which never sounds in the least bit scripted; it’s in the looks and glances between Cathy and Michael – from the moment he arrives, it’s clear that Michael is besotted with Cathy, but has never been able to act upon it. But now his friend and Cathy’s husband is no longer on the scene, the path is clear and he’s wondering whether he should lay his cards on the table, and if so, when is an appropriate amount of time for him to wait? Cathy, meanwhile, still grieving and putting on a brave face, is oblivious. There were so many moments I was close to blubbing, so perfect were the performances and the script.

And that’s why I hold up such high hopes for Marriage; because in Mum, Cathy and Michael get very few of the funny lines – they are the drama around which the comedy takes place.

Mum gives us a whole plethora of funny characters: there’s Cathy’s son (Sam Swainsbury), forever wandering around in his boxer shorts, shovelling the contents of another packet of crisps into his gob (in this respect, he very much reminded me of an old flat-mate of mine and Hel’s); his girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrillis), beautifully blonde and airheaded, heart in the right place but incapable of engaging mind before mouth, forever saying the wrong thing; Cathy’s dim-but-trying brother Derek (Ross Boatman), focusing on all the wrong minutiae of life, and his awful partner Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson) who looks down her nose at everyone and dishes out not-even-slightly subtle insults and put-downs (in Series 3, the moment when, after being on the receiving end of one such put-down for the umpteenth time, Cathy sweetly says: “You can go fuck yourself” to Pauline, I almost wanted to punch the air in celebration; Pauline of course has it covered: “Well done,” she says, in begrudging admiration, and a ceasefire, a new found respect between the two is, briefly, in place); and then there’s Cathy’s in-laws, Reg (Karl Johnson) and Maureen (Marlene Sidaway) who are at the age when they really don’t give a fuck about saying what they think, who hears them or who they might offend.

What I’m trying to say is this: Mum is pretty much perfect, there’s not a mis-step throughout all three series, and that’s a very rare thing indeed. If you want to escape the horror of the sun this weekend, you could do a lot worse than drawing the curtains and working your way through them: I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Time for a tune or two. Or three. Actually, four. But they all sound a bit samey.

I wanted to post the theme tune, “Cups (The Long Way Round)” but I’m really not sure who actually performs it.

See, Shazam identified it as being by Jean Simone:

Jean Simone – Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone) (Radio Version)

However, wikipedia credits it to American actor Anna Kendrick, as apparently she sings it in one of the Pitch Perfect movies:

Anna Kendrick – Cups (When I’m Gone)

But even that is, according to wiki “adapted” from Lulu and The Lampshades, which I’m pretty sure is the version I posted when I first wrote about Mum:

Lulu and The Lampshades – You’re Gonna Miss Me (aka Cups)

Much as I think Ms Kendrick is the hottest thing since the jar of jalapeno chutney I recently purchased, I’ll have to eschew her inevitable advances and plump for Lulu and her Lampshades version as the version of choice for me. Sorry Anna.

Although I think Shazam has it right as to which version is the actual theme tune to Mum.

But imagine my surprise when I found out that it’s actually a “revival” (which is different to a cover version, apparently) of an old Carter Family tune:

The Carter Family – When I’m Gone

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

Enjoy, and happy binge-watching.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Without wishing to bang on about my tech issues yet again, were it not for the heat preventing me from sleeping, there may well have not been a shiny new playlist for you tonight.

I know, how ever would you have coped, right?

So my laptop continues to play tricks on me, seemingly picking a random program to banjax. This week, it was my mixing software program, which decided to crash every time it got to a certain song. Every one’s a critic.

And then, when I’d finally sorted that out, I managed to make an absolute hash of one the mixes, which really annoyed me as I thought I’d got all of the rest spot on.

So I practiced the one I messed up, got it right (Hoorah!) then got one of the later ones wrong (Hurroo!). And so it went on and on.

If I told you that I have listened to the opening song of tonight’s mix 19 times before something went tits-up later down the line, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that this mix, above any I’ve done, was a test of my patience, my will-power and my determination.

I hope you think it was worth it, and that by the end you’ll be dancing like nobody’s watching. Or, if you prefer, like the lady in the gif up top: dancing like everybody else is facing in the opposite direction, with good reason.

Disclaimer time (having listened to this mix as I was writing this and spotted a couple of blips that were nowt to do with me): any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software or the uploading process; any shonky mixes are down to me; all song choices are mine.

So let’s crack on, shall we?

Friday Night Music Club Vol 15

And here’s your tracklisting and sleeve notes:

Since I mentioned the song which got into a spot of bother by sampling tonight’s opening tune last week, it seemed only logical to post it:

  1. The Andrew Oldham Orchestra – The Last Time

With the sad passing this week of Lamont Dozier, it seemed only right to include something from the mighty body of work that is that of Holland/Dozier/Holland. Following on from the opening track, this seemed a natural follow up:

2. The Supremes – I Hear a Symphony

Not long after I moved to London, my mate Ferg (hello!) persuaded me to go to The Horatia, a pub on Holloway Road in North London, to see Greg Wilson DJing. Whilst I have to admit to not having particularly high expectations – “I play bars in North London, and I’m not very good – why should I pay to see this bloke I’ve never heard of?” I said. “Because you’ll love him,” replied Ferg, and my God he was right.

Here he is adding some extra oomph – not that any is needed – to The Third Degree’s cover of Duffy’s Mercy, a cover so good, so authentic, that many, including my good self, assumed that Duffy’s version must be the cover, which must have delighted her once she had escaped from her kidnappers:

3. The Third Degree – Mercy (Greg Wilson Re-Edit)

Keeping the groove going, another cover, this time by Sharon Jones, seemingly minus her Dap-Kings, although I suspect they are just uncredited, because this sure sounds like them:

4. Sharon Jones – I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In

And since we’re on cover versions by dead soul singers, here’s one by a much-missed performer who utilised the skills of the aforementioned Dap-Kings on her Back to Black album and then as her touring band:

5. Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse- Valerie

Next up, one of a clutch of my favourite singles by an often-derided band, although the lead singer is a much beloved presenter on 6Music these days. I thought I’d go for one which doesn’t get an airing as much as the others. Cos that’s what I do:

6. Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Korean Bodega

Something new-ish next (by which I mean, released in 2020), by one of those bands who seem to have such a dull name, they’ll never show up on an internet search. Indeed, when I typed their name into Google, I got taken to a forum discussing the current manager of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club:

7. Pottery – Texas Drums Pt I & II

The mix of the next song is not the one that I wanted to post. Somewhere on some mix CD buried in a box I have a really great version with a female vocal on it. But can I locate it, or find the version in question online? No. So, you’ll have to make do with Tom Middleton, who adds his trademark spacey whooshing and swirling noises to this classic that the Orbital boys released under a nom de plume:

8. Golden Girls – Kinetic (Tom Middleton 2008 Remix)

Time for an old skool banger, or, as they were known round our way back in Cardiff, a City Hall Classic:

9. K-Klass – Rhythm Is A Mystery

Kate Bush is very en vogue again at the moment, thanks to the inclusion of her 1985 hit, Running Up That Hill, in Netflix’s nostalgic sci-fi hit Stranger Things. Here, then, is the Utah Saints sampling and snipping La Lady Bush:

10. Utah Saints – Something Good (Van She Tec Mix)

I need to wean myself off Soulwax, for they seem to appear in the majority of the mixes I do in one way or another. True to form, here they are again:

11. MGMT – Kids (Soulwax Remix)

I’ve gone remix-crazy this week; next up is Superchumbo making the bassline on an already quite dirty Basement Jaxx tune utterly filthy:

12. Basement Jaxx – Get Me Off (Superchumbo Supergetoff Remix)

And somehow, this song seemed a fine and natural way to round things off for another week, and so imagine my delight when I found it could be mixed into the Basement Jaxx tune, despite it being in no way a club banger:

13. The Cure – Let’s Go To Bed

Footnote: I’ve only realised as I wrote this that if one were to read the last three titles alone, without the mention of any remix, it doesn’t paint a great picture of yours truly.

Kids. Get Me Off. Let’s Go To Bed.

Please don’t put me on a sex pest register.

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

Sometimes an uplifting tune to post in this series just falls into my lap. And such is the case today.

This morning’s upbeat start to the week is an instrumental hit from 1982, and it crossed my radar recently:

Pigbag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag

The reason it crossed my radar was because it’s recently become a crowd sing-a-long with newly added, very relevant, very irreverent (NSFW warning) words:

And here’s Jamie Webster (no, me neither) leading his audience in a chorus of it at this year’s Glastonbury:

And finally, some Celtic fans having some fun:

Now, whatever you may think about the political sentiment behind the newly-added lyrics, you will have to agree it’s better than singing “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” along to the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

After last week’s post, where Alyson kindly confirmed what I couldn’t be bothered to check – that I’d posted the song before – I have performed due diligence this week.

And I was staggered to find that not only have I never posted today’s song before, I’ve never posted anything from this album at all (not counting the time one song from the album was suggested as part of The Chain).

I imagine most of you will know this already, but to be on the safe side: Mermaid Avenue is an album of previously unheard lyrics written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie, set to music and performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

And it’s a thing of beauty and wonder, as I think this will amply demonstrate:

Billy Bragg & Wilco – Hesitating Beauty

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

As I desperately try to wring as much life out of my laptop as I possibly can, one of the things I have tried is to remove and reinstall various programs.

One of which was iTunes.

Which meant that, once I had reinstalled it, I had to then reimport all of my tunes to it. Again.

The plus side of this is that my attention has been drawn to a few tunes which were ripe for posting while I still can, and here’s one such beast.

Mention Utah Saints and you’ll probably think of some banging early 90s tunes which sampled Kate Bush, Eurythmics and the Human League amongst others.

But tucked away towards the end of their 1993 eponymously titled album is this little down-tempo (by comparison) gem:

Utah Saints – Trance Atlantic Glide

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

After having stated numerous times over the past few weeks that I try not to make these mixes themed, saving those for the occasional airing over at JC’s place, a themed mix is exactly what tonight’s is, although it’s a very loose theme that you may not have even noticed had I not been stupid enough to mention it.

I was thinking the other day about how I often bang on about when I started DJ’ing when I was at college, taking over the fortnightly Indie Disco at the beginning of my second year, which was way back in 1989. And I thought it might be rather nice to do a playlist of the sort of things we used to play, until the Madchester scene exploded and changed 80% of our playlist (for the better; the night was dying on its arse until we were saved by the lads and lasses in hoodies and massive flares).

So that’s what tonight’s mix is: a load of tunes from around the time when I started, some from a little earlier, some I must admit, from a little later. Also, I’ve tried to avoid some of the big hitters – so no Smiths, Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen. But I’ve tried to recreate how an hour of our Indie nights generally sounded back way back when.

Also, in a change to normal, instead of just giving you a tracklisting, I’ve added some sleeve notes for you. Cos I’m nice like that. I might carry that on, we’ll see.

Anyway, chocks away, here we go:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 14

  1. The Stone Roses -Bye Bye Badman
  2. The Chesterfields – Two Girls and a Treehouse

I’ve kicked off with these two as a tip of the hat to the guy I first started DJ’ing with, a lad off my course named Danny Sweeney. He would always try to squeeze these in because “nobody else plays them”. Danny was sensible enough to stop DJing after a year so that he could focus on his course as it entered it’s final year; I was less sensible, stood for election for the post of Social Secretary, DJ’d loads more, and ended up having to retake my final year, adjudged to have failed the course because, although I passed all the exams and coursework, I hadn’t turned up to enough lectures. Not that I’m still bitter about it or anything, thirty years later, you understand.

3. The Darling Buds – Shame on You

Because of the size of the venue (400 capacity), we would often get little-at-the-time bands, on their way up. The Darling Buds played one Friday night; a day or so later I was talking to two blokes who were absolutely astounded that we’d had a band on who they saw on Going Live! (or whatever the Saturday morning live show on the BBC was called at the time) the next day.

The Darling Buds were one of a clutch of indie bands fronted by blonde female singers – see also The Primitives and Transvision Vamp. They were also the first band I ever met; my mate Keith and I being permitted access to the dressing room after the gig, where the band (and lead chanteuse Andrea in particular) studiously ignored us for about fifteen minutes until we sloped off with our tails between our legs.

4. The Wonder Stuff – Unbearable

Because the Indie night was not exactly the hottest ticket in town, you tended to notice and recognise most people there. And so it was that Keith and I took pity on one lad, who was always on his own. We invited him to join us, which he did. Soon afterwards, we realised why he was always alone: he was exceptionally dull. But now he thought we were his friends, so whenever we arrived he homed in on us like the world’s most boring missile. Burned into my memory is the time this tune, with lead Stuffie Miles Hunt at his sneering best, got played; we all danced, but Keith, unkindly in my opinion, kept singing the chorus in the lad’s general direction at first, and right in his face later. Fortunately, he just thought Keith really liked the song.

5. The Fall – Mr Pharmacist

Some big-hitters I just can’t leave out, and having mentioned Miles Hunt’s sneering, it seemed only right to post something by the late great Mark E. Smith, who seemed to have his upper lip permanently set to curl.

6. Sandkings – All’s Well With The World

Remember Babylon Zoo? Once upon a time, they had a few seconds of their record Spaceman used in a jeans advert, resulting in it being catapulted to the top of the charts, as was the way of the world back then. Problem was, the few seconds used in the ad were by far the best thing about the record, which swiftly descended into one of the dullest turgid drones ever to grace the charts at all, let alone the coveted #1 position. Well, this is the band that Babylon Zoo’s Jas Mann was in before he briefly found fame, and this is loads better than Spaceman. Around the time, many bands were trying to sound like either The Smiths or R.E.M.; this falls into the latter category.

7. Milltown Brothers – Never Come Down Again

Speaking of bands trying to sound like R.E.M., that was an allegation often levelled at this lot. I can kinda see what they meant, although it’s not a comparison I would have made myself. This is ace though, in an of-its-time way.

8. The Family Cat – Steamroller

Contains a really great loudQUIETloud section which is so good they repeat the trick later on, stretching out the elastic of the QUIET bit for so long that when it eventually twangs and the loud crashes back in again, the joyous rush it brings still gets me every time all these years later. Play it loud.

9. The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh

Okay, okay, another from a big hitter, but this is one of the extra tracks from the Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm 12″, each of which is an absolute belter, detailing, as Wedding Present songs so often did, relationships on the cusp of breaking, or which have just gone over the edge. Gedge at his bitterest best.

10. Kingmaker – When Lucy’s Down

Because those few people who actually remember Kingmaker generally remember them for Ten Years Asleep, and not for this little beauty. Which is rather sad.

11. That Petrol Emotion – Hey Venus

Because many people think that the former Undertones only ever had one decent tune (Big Decision), and they’re wrong because this is pretty great, if a little poppier, too.

12. The Waltones – Bold

The Waltones should have been huge. But having tip-toed to the very verge of being popular, Madchester happened and suddenly their brand of jangly indie pop had fallen down the pecking order. Them’s the breaks.

13. James – How Was It For You?

The song which, along with Come Home, laid the foundation for their less-folky, more-stadium sound, before Sit Down was re-released for the umpteenth time and became the smasheroo we all know and love/hate (delete as applicable).

14. Inspiral Carpets – She Comes In The Fall

Still stands the test of time this one, in my book. Also in my book: the Inspirals were one the best singles bands of the late 80s/early 90s. Moo!

15. The Motorcycle Boy – Big Rock Candy Mountain

Just as C86 darlings The Shop Assistants had tickled the fancy of indie tweesters up and down the land, lead singer Alex jumped ship and formed The Motorcycle Boy. This is by far the best thing they ever did.

16. The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure

Oh, Harriet *sighs*.

17. World Of Twist – She’s A Rainbow

Long before The Verve, and around the same time as Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine felt the wrath of Jagger and Richards legal team, World of Twist released this rather wonderful cover of the Stones’ classic. They were sensible enough to dodge the lawsuits by remembering to credit the wrinkly wonders as songwriters though.

And that’s your lot, til next week.

More soon.

Get Off My Playlist! #6

Last one of these, until I next get it together to do another mix for JC. There’s no point in my continuing the series with reference to the Friday Night Music Club mixes, as invariably if something doesn’t make the cut in one it will turn up sooner or later in another (with the notable exception of a couple of tunes which have been dropped on at least three occasions each now).

Sometimes when you bump one tune from a playlist, there’s a domino effect. Suddenly, the song which would have been next to it seems out of place, an island cut off from the mainland.

And so it is with today’s record, which, once I had decided against including yesterday’s psychedelic swirl by Super Furry Animals, now had no companion piece to anchor it to.

In other words, it stood out like sore thumb, and therefore had to go, which is shame because it’s an absolute beauty:

Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve – Sunday Morning Sun-g

I tried to retrieve the situation, but all I could come up with which both fitted the theme of the mix and sounded good next to it was a record I figured I would be accused of building the playlist around, even if it did come from a time when the band in question sounded very different to the way they sound now, a time before they had ditched the The from their name, when actually the opposite was true: it was considered purely on the basis of thematic and sonic appropriateness.

And so I ditched both.

I still think they make pretty good bed-fellows, mind:

The Status Quo – Ice In The Sun

Yup. All these posts, building up to that.

More soon.

Get Off My Playlist! #5

It’s very easy to explain today’s tunes deselection from the batch of tunes I had first come up with for the summery play list I prepared for JC’s place recently.

For to include it would have been a direct breach of #1 in The Rules of Making a Playlist: Thou shalt not include the same artiste more than once in the same mix.

Having dug out two records by Super Furry Animals which met the original “must have the word sun in the title” criteria, it was a straight choice between today’s tune and Hello Sunshine.

Whilst I wanted to champion the fine city I used to live in – Rhod Gilbert and Rob Bryden have both had the Visit Wales advertising campaign gig, surely I’m next in line? – Cardiff in the Sun is a huge sprawling psychedelic groove full of sha-la-la-la’s and Beach Boys harmonies and, crucially, is over eight minutes long; Hello Sunshine, on the other hand, is a concise, catchy and cool way to start the mix off and, crucially, isn’t. Time and space were rearing their ugly heads again.

And so today’s tune got kicked into touch, only to reappear here today for your delectation:

Super Furry Animals – Cardiff in the Sun

More soon.