Sunday Morning Coming Down

And so as my Glastonbury family prepare to head off down to Pilton for a few days of bloody lovely debauchery and vodka alchemism without me (I’ll expand on this in the next few days), I thought I’d post something to remind folks of one of the legendary appearances in the Sunday Legends slot:

Dolly Parton – Sweet Summer Lovin’

You kids have fun now.

More soon.

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Late Night Stargazing

It’s rare that I dedicate a song to a specific person here, rarer still that it’s to a famous person, even rarer that it’s to a Tory politician for whom I have absolutely no respect whatsoever.

I appreciate that doesn’t narrow it down that much.

But, Michael Gove, this one’s for you, you rubber faced goon:

The Webb Brothers – All The Cocaine in the World

More soon.

50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish #6

Today’s choice, as with the next one, and probably the one after that, would make an ex-girlfriend of mine really laugh.

We met at Uni, when I was DJ’ing and she came to ask me to play something. Yeh, I know, a totally irresponsible abuse of my power.

The record she asked me to play that night will feature soon enough; for now though, I think it’s fair to say that when we first got together our musical tastes were polar opposites; not just at completely different ends of the spectrum, but without a single cross-over point. It would have made the dullest Venn diagram ever.

It’s odd, because now, musical taste is probably the highest thing on my list of things I look for in a potential partner, if I could be bothered looking at all.

Despite this, we stayed together for seven years, and never once in that time could I bring myself to admit to her that I quite liked some of the records I owned.

She, on the other hand, being a girl and therefore much more grown-up than I was at the time, was quite happy to tell me she liked a record I did. Which is how she ended up being bought an I, Ludicrous vinyl 10″ as a Christmas present once.

Our split, when it came, was amicable. Over the next few years, we would occasionally bump into each other in pubs and bars around Cardiff. We were always civil, and I was always pleased to see her, and if she wasn’t pleased to see me too then she gave a good impression of someone who was.

I didn’t end up buying this until she was a just a dot in the rear-view mirror, a safe distance away that I had accepted she would never breeze into my bedroom again, flick through my CD collection, and hold this triumphantly aloft. Not that she would have done that anyway, she’d probably have just said: “Luther Vandross…?” *knowing look* “I see…”

So, anyway, this is bloody great:

Luther

Luther Vandross – Never Too Much

More soon.

Footnote 1: If ever you are compiling a playlist, and feel the urge to include the above tune, can I recommend you pop this tune in next to it? They sound just perfect sitting next to each other.

crusaders~~_streetlif_101b

The Crusaders feat. Randy Crawford – Street Life

Footnote 2: I’ve always considered this to be a record by Randy Crawford, but in researching this post – yes, I know, it’s staggering, but I do occasionally do research – I can’t find anything to suggest that Miss Randy Crawford ever released this as a single, she *just* features on The Crusaders tracks, and as far as I can glean even they didn’t have the courtesy to credit her.

I’m open to correction on this point, of course.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

Every now and then I stumble across/am reminded of records which would nestle neatly into a series that I can occasionally be bothered to write.

Here’s how my Friday nights usually go: eat, watch a bit of telly, open a bottle of red, pop some tunes on, start writing some stuff that I hope is good enough to post, praying that inspiration will strike at some point.

Last night, my iPod played me this little belter that I’ve not heard for ages.

In the mid-to-late 80s, I bloody loved The Flatmates, but then I had a bit of an infatuation with girl-fronted indie bands at the time.

The Flatmates have been supporting The Wedding Present on some of their current UK dates; never having seen them back in the day I’m hoping they’ll still be on board when I go to see Gedge & co in December (health permitting!). Ten years ago, I caught The Wedding Present on their tour to mark the 20th anniversary of their Bizarro album, and The Primitives – another female-fronted band I loved but had never seen – were supporting them, and I had an absolute blast when they played.

I always thought that, had their records been slightly more polished, then The Flatmates could have been pretty big. See what you think – here’s some classic late 80s indie ba ba ba ba ba’ing:

the-flatmates-i-could-be-in-heaven-the-subway-organization

The Flatmates – I Could Be In Heaven

More soon.

When The Scales Fell From My Eyes

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a clip of the opening moments of an interview which has been doing the rounds on social media this week, featuring The Cure’s Robert Smith, as the band were about to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

I was reminded of a conversation I had with my friends Gary and Meg when I stayed over at theirs the other weekend.

We were talking about encounters with famous people; I was saying that I generally wouldn’t approach them, as I figure they must get hassled by people enough without me adding to it. I prefer to catch their eye and give them an appreciative nod, maybe tweet them later so they understood I had been respecting their right to public privacy.

Gary’s view was that on such occasions it was perfectly okay to speak to them as you would probably never have the chance again – provided you were going to say something nice rather than confrontational.

Meg’s position was that in her line of work, she had encountered many celebrities and coming over all fangirl was definitely frowned upon.

We all had various examples of our actions to support our position; me: Al Murray (who clocked me as I waited for Gary and Meg outside a Teenage Fanclub gig, and who gave me a “Don’t you fucking dare” glare – not that I was going to – I tweeted him about it later and he was perfectly lovely), future Dr Whos Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (independently of each other, and both just before they were announced as the next Dr Who, to the point where I wondered if any actor I encountered would be unveiled as the next TARDIS incumbant shortly afterwards): Smith caught my nod and gave me an appreciative smile in return, Capaldi sat opposite me on the tube, steadfastly refusing to make eye-contact with anyone, like most people do on public transport); Gary: George Martin, who he accosted in a theatre (at a Rolf Harris gig, of all places….this was some years ago, I should add) and got his autograph for his troubles; Meg: Jonathan Ross, Caitlin Moran, one of The Magic Numbers (I forget which one), and Robert Smith, amongst others.

And it was as she related her tale of not bothering Smith that she came out with a phrase which I thought was so brilliant, I asked her to repeat, and then clarify:

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith….

Me: Sorry, what?

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith…

Me: Sorry, what do you mean, ‘dressed as Robert Smith’?

Meg: You know, his hair was all over the place, loads of mascara, slightly wonky lipstick…

Me: But you’re describing Robert Smith to me. Are you saying he doesn’t always look like that?

Meg: Well, yes. He can’t look like that all the time, or he’d always be getting stopped. He must dress like Robert Smith out of The Cure only when he’s being Robert Smith out of The Cure, surely?

It was something which had never occured to me before, but the more I think about it, the more I think Meg’s probably right. Much as I’d like to imagine Robert Smith popping to the shops to buy some toilet roll dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, he probably doesn’t. He probably just wears the eyeliner and passes on the lipstick.

Me: That’s brilliant. You know I’m going to use that on my blog, right? Credit will be given, of course.

Meg: (utterly nonchalant about the epiphany I’d just had) Course you can.

I’m a man of my word.

Here’s a bloody great song by The Cure, featuring Robert Smith dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, one which I bought on 7″ back in 1987, and which still gets a spin every now and then:

cure

The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?

More soon.

Keith

I can’t let the week end without mentioning how sad I was to hear of The Prodigy’s Keith Flint’s passing, and particularly the manner of how he left us.

This is by no means an original observation, but he embodied what counter culture is all about: the Firestarter video was a real “What the hell is that??” moment for many, his extreme looks and persona made parents suddenly fearful in a way that probably hadn’t happened since the Sex Pistols lurched into view some twenty years earlier.

Incidentally, there’s a song-writing credit on Firestarter for Kim Deal, former Pixie and by then established Breeder, as the looped guitar riff is a sample of The Breeders track S.O.S. Factoid.

I remember when visiting our parents one Christmas in the mid-1990s, my brother and I were sitting up (drinking, of course, we’re such boozy lads) one night, watching a music channel and Firestarter came on. My brother declared that this was the new punk rock, and I think he totally had a point. (He was saying that so he could remind me that he used to go drinking with Pop Will Eat Itself, who helped The Prodigy out on a couple of tracks on Music for the Jilted Generation, and got a name check on the liner notes of The Fat of the Land. I don’t begrudge him this, since it pales into insignificance with ‘my got on the guest list for a Milltown Brothers gig‘ story.)

Nothing sounded like or looked like them before or since.

Much as I love Firestarter, I prefer the follow-up single, Breathe, also a #1 in the UK. I was in Nottingham’s Rock City one night in the mid-90s and the DJ played both, one after the other. Needless to say, the dancefloor went bonkers in a way normally reserved for when I’m DJ’ing (sense the ironic tone there, please).

Breathe

The Prodigy – Breathe

Plus, I’ve always thought the video to be much more – appropriately – unnerving:

The Prodigy first came to my attention back when I was DJ’ing at college, with their “Don’t Talk to Strangers” government safety ad-sampling “Charley”. Although I liked it, I was fairly dismissive of it at the time, viewing it as a bit of a novelty record. It was around the time of Smart E’s Sesame’s Treet, so you’ll excuse my misplaced cynicism.

My then-girlfriend bought Songs for the Jilted Generation, and whilst I remained, for the time being, firmly in the “dance music has no guitars, therefore it is rubbish” camp, some of the songs definitely caught my ear, not least this, aptly titled, absolute belter:

No Good

The Prodigy – No Good (Start the Dance)

I only ever managed to catch them live once, at Cardiff’s CIA (as it was called then), when they were touring to promote their Greatest Hits album, Their Law. They totally blew me away, one of the most incredible live acts I’ve ever seen.

Looking back, The Prodigy were probably my gateway drug band, the ones who enabled me to make that leap from blinkered guitar obsessive to pill munching hedonistic party legend (again, sense the tone). So for that, cheers.

Keith will be sorely missed, I think, more so than many others who have passed over the past few years. Moreover, from the many tweets sent when his death was announced, a genuinely nice bloke too.

A true showman, one in a million, rarely copied (because, what would be the point?), never bettered.

More soon.

Being Around

I went to a gig on Tuesday.

First one since I came out of hospital. Yey! Go me! Look, here’s a photo I took to prove it:

evan 5

Knowing that I had missed out on all of the gigs I mentioned here, my lovely work colleagues chipped together (coerced/encouraged no doubt by Kay) and bought me a load of credits on Ticketmaster so I could buy some new tickets to new gigs.

The Lemonheads strolled into London town on Tuesday, playing at the Kentish Town 02 Forum, a band I’ve loved for many a year, so I decided the time was right to go gigging again.

But when I tried to buy a single, solitary ticket, I wasn’t able to. I had to buy two.

Putting aside for a moment the obviously scamming nature of this transaction, suddenly, I found myself with two tickets and with nobody to go with.

And then, I remembered.

Many years ago, before Llŷr got ill (I think – but certainly when we both shared a place in Cardiff) we had bought tickets to see them perform their wonderful It’s a Shame About Ray album at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. We were supposed to be accompanied by a chap I worked with, and had been to a few gigs with, but he had to drop out at the last minute.

“Take my ticket, see if you can get anything for it, but if not, no worries,” he said.

We were crashing at Hel’s flat post-gig, so it only seemed right and fair we offered the spare ticket to her first, free of charge. But she declined on the grounds that she didn’t know enough of their songs. Fair enough. It’s not like we thought she’d been a member of The Lemonheads fan club or anything.

By the time we got home post-gig, Hel had realised the error of her ways, and told us she wished she’d come with us.

Well, now’s your chance to make up for that, I thought, and gave her a ring to see if she wanted to come with me.

For Llŷr’s post-memorial service reception, Hel and Sian had compiled a couple of Llŷr-related playlists (more of this later), and Hel told me that she’d loved to come to the gig, as she’d included two songs by The Lemonheads on the playlists. I needed warning, in case she got a bit upset if they played them.

These are the two songs in question:

Lemon Arms

The Lemonheads – Into Your Arms

and this:

lemonheads confetti

The Lemonheads – Confetti

Yeh, chances are they’ll play those, I thought.

I had one in mind too. Every time I had ever been to see The Lemonheads, or Evan Dando on his own, with Llŷr, he had insisted on calling our friend Mikey G when this particular song came on, because he knew it was his favourite:

LEMONHEADS_ADMAT BASIC

The Lemonheads – Rudderless

Hel and I went for some food before the gig, and we agreed we would look out for each other when/if any of those songs got played. Neither of us wanted to be a blubbing mess, but we both knew it was a possibility.

And then, a curve ball. Hel told me that when she went into Llŷr’s room at her parents’ house, the CD on the top of the pile, and therefore probably the last thing he was able to listen to, was a Lemonheads one. Consequently, she had listened to little else since.

And then I’d called, asking if she wanted to go see The Lemonheads.

Life and death are weird, I think we can all agree.

The support band on Tuesday (no idea what they were called, sorry) were very sixth form revolutionary – though we quite liked their last song – and then suddenly Evan was on stage, clutching his acoustic guitar and singing this:

Mrs. Robinson Front

The Lemonheads – Being Around

Quickly followed by a rendition of Frank Mills and then we’re in, singing along and totally enraptured by Dando and his loveable slacker persona.

Dando loves a cover version, to the point where any gig you go to of his is bound to include more than a smattering; indeed his latest album is a second collection of the such. On the night, he plays some which feature on the new record (John Prine’s Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness) some which don’t but he treats us to anyway, namely Townes Van Zandt’s I’ll Be There in the Morning (I’m delighted at this point that both have previously appeared on this blog and I can show off that I know them) and this, which the crowd (including me) loves, even if it is an Eagles cover:

FIRELP506 The Groundhogs - Blues Obituary OUTER SLEEVE

The Lemonheads – Take It Easy

There’s even truncated versions of Teenage Fanclub’s It’s All in My Mind and (I think) John Lennon’s Oh Yoko, which neatly segues into this:

lemon outdoor

The Lemonheads – The Outdoor Type

Which contains one of my favourite lyrics ever:

“I can’t go away with you on a rock climbing weekend

Oh, and they did their wonderful cover version of this:

Favorite Spanish Dishes Front

The Lemonheads – Different Drum

And then…and then they played Into Your Arms quickly followed by Rudderless.

We got through them both. Just about.

I didn’t call Mikey G.

We didn’t cry.

We smiled.

More soon.

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