50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #21

Time for another band that I absolutely adore now, but back in 1985, when they were causing a proper stink by playing 15 minute long sets with their backs to the audience, around the time that their debut album came out, I absolutely hated them.

Often in this series, I struggle to pinpoint exactly what it was about a band or artist that I didn’t like then but do love now; often I can blame my blinkered “it’s got no guitars on it” viewpoint, but more often than not I have to shrug my shoulders and accept it was because…well…I’m a bit rubbish.

Today’s tune poses no such problems, however, as I can easily point to the exact reason I refused to like this band back in the mid-80s: sibling rivalry, which given that the band features two brothers is a tad on the ironic side.

My brother adored The Jesus & Mary Chain, but as far as I could see they were just two dour Scotsmen with a propensity for playing their guitars a bit too close to their amps and thereby generating a wall of unwelcome squealing feedback.

Talk about missing the point.

However, it was around this time that my brother and I, after years of fighting, and smashing anything we could get our hands on across each others’ back – snooker cues, violins (no one could accuse us of not being middle class) – started to decide we quite liked each other after all.

We went to the local pub one night, for his birthday – I think it was his 19th, which would make me 17 (shhh! don’t tell the landlord), and we came away at the end of the night, properly lubricated (ok, that sounds wrong…) and announcing that we had decided the other “was alright really.”

Shortly afterwards, I was commandeered by my brother and his mates Rob and Phil to join their pool team. I’m not sure how they had become the representatives of a pub in this respect, but somehow they had, and on the occasions when their normal fourth player wasn’t available, I was brought in.

In case you think I was a ringer, you’re sadly mistaken. I haven’t played in years, but back then I was pretty good. However, I don’t think I won a single game, and can recall with a shudder at least one game where I tried an outlandish shot only to accidentally pot the black and thus lose the game.

Anyway, roaring along the back roads around the villages we lived in (Rob and Phil lived in a different one to the two of us), heading to a nearby pub to shoot some pool, a compilation tape of all things goth would inevitably be played.

I should stress that none of us considered The Jesus & Mary Chain to be goths; however, their look – black drainpipe jeans, black winkle-picker shoes, black leather jackets, the occasional black and white spotted shirt, black shades – perfectly embodied the look my pool partners were rocking at the time. You can imagine the looks they all got when they turned up at a sleepy backwater pub, asked to be pointed in the direction of the pool table before announcing they were there to pot their balls, drink their beer and (totally fail) to seduce their women.

Those inter-pub crazy car journeys have stayed in my head ever since, partly because of the amount of times we nearly crashed, but mostly because it was then that I realised just how special The Jesus & Mary Chain were.

I didn’t buy myself a copy of Psychocandy until a few years later, but I did go out and buy the follow up album, Darklands, pretty much on the day of release.

For that reason, Darklands remains my J&MC album, but I have to admit that, great as it is, it’s nowhere near as magnificent as Psychocandy is.

So here’s one from that wonderful debut album; it’s one of my favourites but it’s a real short one that often gets overlooked in favour of the more famous tracks:

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy

More soon.


50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #20

Props to BBC4 for reshowing their Top of the Pops over-view of 1986 the other night, and thereby reminding me of this classic.

A classic which I, of course, ignored when it was a hit, for that age-old reason: it didn’t have any guitars on it. A reason I now see for its ridiculousness, of course.

What’s not to like about this absolute belter?:

Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk feat. Darryl Pandy – Love Can’t Turn Around

Go on, give yourself a treat: do as the record sleeve says and Jack It Up To The Top.

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #19

This morning, another song from the file marked “Why Didn’t I Buy This?”

Seriously, this was a huge hit, and a breath of fresh in the UK charts, where it clambered up to #3. Recent re-runs of Top of the Pops reminded me of just how often it appeared on the show back in 1987.

And yet, and despite me liking it, I didn’t buy it at the time. I soon rectified the absence of any Proclaimers records from my record collection, buying the next single, Make My Heart Fly followed shortly afterwards by their magnificent debut album, This Is The Story.

It’s one of those head-scratchers. I can’t think of a single reason why I didn’t buy it at the time, and yet there it still isn’t nestling amongst my vinyl collection.

It still sounds bloody great, mind, perfect Saturday morning fodder:

The Proclaimers – Letter From America

More soon.

50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish #18

Today, not just a single, but an album.

Now, I must profess I wasn’t that late into cottoning on to how great this record is; I recall liking a couple of the singles from this album at the time, but the money was not to be parted from my pocket (not when there were old Quo records which simply needed to be bought, anyway.)

By the time of the second album, Easy Pieces, released a year after today’s subject, I’d given in; I bought the first single from the album on 12″, and then when a mate said he had the album and didn’t like it (the fool) I bought that off him too. Best £2 I ever spent.

For some reason that I don’t quite understand, I’ve never fully got behind Lloyd Cole’s solo career – everything I’ve heard, or owned, by him I’ve really liked; maybe it’s that thrust of youth and discovery that can never be bettered – but for me his first album (with The Commotions) is an absolute jewel.

A friend of mine went to see Cole play recently; back at the office, my first question was: “Did he play anything off Rattlesnakes?”

It’s such an important album for me. Here was a lyricist who seemed wordy, intelligent, bookish, and who made references to people who seemed within my grasp. Whilst Morrissey may have introduced me to Oscar Wilde, Keats & Yeats and Shelagh Delaney, Lloyd Cole made me aware of people like Eve Marie Saint, Greta Garbot, Truman Capote and Simone de Beauvior.

I was only a year or so late buying this album, an album which I would still say is one of my favourite records ever, but a year or so late is enough to qualify for this series.

It’s really tough picking my favourite songs from this wonderful, wonderful album, because frankly I could just post the whole album.

But I’ll give it a go, here’s six from it. Most of you will know them; if you don’t, what are you doing reading this? Go buy it (or stream it or whatever you young people do these days):

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Perfect Skin

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Speedboat

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Forest Fire

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – 2CV

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Four Flights Up

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #17

Confession time.

During his oh-too-short life, I never bought a record by Prince.

Actually, that’s not quite true, as I did buy Hits 1 & 2, but I’m not sure that excludes me from criticism.

And, many years after it came out, I did pick up Cream on CD single.

But still…

It’s at this point that I have to give props to my brother, who at least bothered to buy the Purple Rain soundtrack.

But me? Nah. Despite a seemingly never-ending glittering array of incredible records by the Purple One, my pocket money remained in my pocket.

What was I thinking? I have no excuse.

On the plus side, that means I have a lot to choose from now.

But I figured nothing demonstrated my folly better than the first record that I remember hearing by Prince, and which I somehow elected not to buy, despite it’s undeniably cool sleeve:

Prince & The Revolution – When Doves Cry

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #16

Generally, I can come up with a good excuse why I didn’t buy a particular record “back in the day”.

No such luck with today’s choice, I’m afraid.

For I thought this was a brilliant pop single back in 1984, and nothing has happened in the intervening 35 (ouch!) years to make me change my mind.

And yet, back then, my pocket money remained, inexplicably, just that: money in my pocket.

I don’t need to say any more, other than to shrug my shoulders and point to the title of this post:

Laura Branigan – Self Control

More soon.

50 Ways To I’m Rubbish #15

You’d think that the bulk of the record I regret not buying, once I’d reached the age when regularly buying records has become “my thing”, would be from the early days, that’s the early to mid-80s in my book, when I hadn’t really found my musical feet, so to speak.

In 1989, I began DJ’ing at college, which sounds like an absolute dream job, and in many ways it was. But in one way it wasn’t.

Because for a couple of years I had a budget from the Student Union coffers to spend on nothing but records. Problem was, I didn’t get to keep them. Well, not officially, anyway.

Which means for that short period of time, there are swathes of records which under normal circumstances I (probably) would have bought for myself, but which I actually bought to live in the DJ booth.

Including this one, which I still think is bloody magnificent record:

Dream Warriors – My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style

Welcome to the weekend.

More soon.