Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

Okay, so there’s been a couple of weeks of not very much happening round these parts, whilst I got all old and decrepit and…erm…oh yes! forgetful and stuff, time to get the show back on the road.

Did you ever instinctively do something, and then, when you’d had a moment to pause, reflect and analyse, realised it didn’t exactly show you in a good light?

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when me and my old mate Richie went to a gig at The 100 Club. (I will get round to writing something about the gig itself at some point, I promise. Like you care.)

Anyway, knowing there were four acts on that night, at least three of which we wanted to see, we arrived at the venue at 7pm, the advertised doors time, only to be met by a shaven headed doorman, fag in gob, who told us in no uncertain terms that the doors would not be opening until 7:30 and we should form an orderly queue on the pavement if we knew what was good for us.

There was one other bloke waiting, so we insisted he stood at the front of the line, Richie and I behind him. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another couple: he was clearly a bit of a muso and wanted everyone to know it. His wife (I assume) asked who it was they were going to see, and he replied “The Chesterfields. They released an album called Kettle in the 1980s which I have the original pressing of on vinyl”.

I leaned into Richie and whispered “Yeh, like it ever got a second pressing…” Richie giggled.

As we waited it became clear that she was much more interested in popping into the Boots store next door and reporting back on where they keep the tissues than in going to a gig.

7:30 came and went, and eventually we were allowed in. If you’ve never been to The 100 Club, it’s a wonderfully grubby venue, steeped in counter culture and musical history. There’s a reason why on I, Ludicrous‘ magnificent Preposterous Tales Ken refers to seeing the Sex Pistols play there. Put it this way: Richie slipped off to the Gents and came back, marvelling that they were “a work of art”. He even took a photo (thankfully nobody else was in there, or there may have been trouble):

There’s so many questions here: why does one toilet have a lid but the other doesn’t? Is it okay to leave the seat up in the Gents? And most importantly, does that partially obscured bit of graffiti at the top say Borrowed Time or Borrowed Tim? I really hope it’s the latter.

Inside the main venue, there is a bar at each end of the room, with the stage in between. It’s one of those glorious stages which are only about knee-high, so you can get really close to the act. On this occasion, to the right is a set of DJ decks, and then a few tables and chairs have been set out, either side of the stage.

Richie heads to the bar, I grab a table over to the left of the stage. Shortly after Richie arrives with the beers, the couple from the queue, predictably, come and sit on the table to our left, which is slightly in front of us.

Between acts, there is a DJ (hence the decks) who plays a dazzling array of much loved and much forgotten jangly indie classics from the era from whence the bands had come to see had founded there reputation. We get some Orange Juice, some early Wedding Present, and this:

The June Brides – Every Conversation

Ok, so technically it’s Na Na Na’s rather than Ba Ba Ba’s: I’m expanding the catchment area, that ok with you?

And then it happens.

A song comes on, and I see the bloke from the couple on the next table get his phone out and try to Shazam it.

For those unfamiliar with the app, imagine that you’re out and about, hear a tune you like but don’t know what it is and don’t want to betray your ignorance by asking somebody. Shazam is an app where you can play it a short snippet of a song and it will (usually) tell you who/what it is. Old school readers may remember, before smart phones and apps became a thing, you could type 2580 into your phone, hold it up, and get a text telling you what you were listening to.

But, as The 100 Club is subterranean, the guy’s phone couldn’t connect.

I know what this song is, I thought. I can help.

And so I leant – no, more accurately, lunged – across Richie, and tapped the bloke on his arm.

“Are you trying to work out what this is?” I asked, pointing upwards in what is the universally accepted hand signal for “this thing what we can hear”.

“Yes,” he replied, “but I can’t Shazam it.”

“Shazam won’t help you with this, my friend” I said, “but I can.” You know, like how people in adverts for stain removers talk.

For a moment, I imagined myself in a tight spandex suit and cape, swooping in to assist a befuddled musical inquisitor with their fruitless quest. “I am Obscure Tune Man and only I can assist you in your quest to identify jingly jangly guitar tunes from the late 1980s which nobody bought at the time!”

“It’s…”

The Brilliant Corners – Brian Rix

“Ah yes,” said the gent, “The Brilliant Corners! Of course! Thank you, I saw them back in 1988 or 89….”

Course you did mate. (That’s preposterous.)

And as I sat back in my chair, I realised just how needy I had just made myself look, so keen to show off, so desperate to bestow my knowledge on others.

How rather pathetic I looked.

Anyway, welcome to my blog.

More soon.

I’m in Heaven

No, not a grim follow up post to my recent hospital visit posts, rather a gloriously upbeat tune to welcome in 2019.

VAN_MORRISON_SAINT+DOMINICS+PREVIEW+-+SEALED-78027

Van Morrison – Jackie Wison Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

More soon.

Name That Tune

I’m happy to acknowledge the source of inspiration for some of my posts. When I can remember them, that is.

This post was inspired by a post on one of those links in the Blog Roll over on the left hand side of the page. Actually, one which I’d been thinking about removing as it seemed inactive, but it has recently been revived, which I can identify with.

Beauty Above All is written by Héctor BalaClava in a language I don’t understand, but that doesn’t matter, as generally he just posts a single tune, an indie classic mostly.

The other day he posted a tune by The Verlaines, a band presumably named after Tom Verlaine, main man of Television, whose Marquee Moon album you will regularly find lingering around the top half of any half-way decent Best Albums Ever…! list.

And that got me thinking; not about Television, or about Marquee Moon, or for that matter Tom Verlaine itself.

But about The Family Cat.

The Family Cat were an indie band who rose to…well, let’s not say fame, let’s say prominence..in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

They were a band who, like bands like peers Inspiral Carpets and James, understood the financial importance of merchandise, specifically tee-shirts, producing a whole slew of them.

I may have mentioned this before, but I really hope that whoever it was within the Cat camp that was responsible for coming up with the tee-shirt designs had the foresight to trademark them. For, when embarking on a UK Tour around 1992-ish (if memory serves) the released a range of tees bearing the following logo: FCUK.

Originally produced presumably to invoke shock and outrage (Dad: “You’re not going out wearing a shirt with a swear word on it!” Child: “What swear word, Dad?”), the four letter logo was appropriated by a certain chain of UK fashion retailers.

I hope the Cat boys got their dollar.

Anyway, here’s the tune Héctor’s post made me think of, for perhaps the first time in twenty years or so:

FAMILY-CAT-THE-Tom-Verlaine

The Family Cat – Tom Verlaine

More soon.

Name That Tune

When you’re young, songs that you hear have a profound effect on you. Some will stay with you throughout your life.

As you get older, this happens less and less frequently.

So when it does happen, it deserves comment.

In 2013, I didn’t go to Glastonbury. But come Sunday afternoon, I was positioned in front of my TV, waiting for the Sunday Icon slot to begin. It was Kenny Rogers that year; you know me, I love a bit of Kenny (Rogers, not G), and so I was mightily disappointed not to be there in person.

As I waited for the coverage to start, in the BBC “studio” – actually an elevated area close to the Park Stage – Lauren Laverne and Mark Radcliffe introduced these two Swedish sisters, who proceeded to stun me in to a silent awe, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the last time I’d watched something involving Swedish sisters, which I’d rather not go into right now.

You’ll all know this song by now (I’ve posted it before) – and if you don’t prepare to be similarly stunned – but here’s the first time I ever heard First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou”:

First Aid Kit – Emmylou (Live @ Glastonbury 2013)

Just…astonishingly beautiful.

More soon.

Name That Tune

Now the ticker tape parade of me reaching 400 posts has subsided, back to normality.

In my first year at college, every other Tuesday was spent in the Student Union’s nightclub/venue, “Shafts” (the college was in a South Wales mining community, in case you think there’s some innuendo to be found there) at the fortnightly Indie night, wittily called Funk Off.

The night had two resident DJ’s, Jim and Chris. Chris was rumoured to be a bit of a headcase, apparently carrying a knife with him when he DJ’d. Jim was a nice enough, bloke, who ended up playing bass in the band I was in a year or so later, and who I’m still in semi-regular contact with on Facebook (and who will be sent this post in the hope I haven’t offended him).

However, it was not, it’s fair to say, a well attended event, barely scraping fifty attendees on most weeks. We didn’t really mind this, as it meant that we could ask for any record we liked, and Jim and Chris would generally oblige, as it meant that at least someone would go onto the dancefloor.

My mate Danny Sweeney and I would often sit predicting what record would be played next. “Okay, so The Wonder Stuff are on now, bet they play Pop Will Eat Itself next…yup, there it is”. We, of course, thought we could do better.

So at the end of our first year, Danny and I approached the Social Secretary, a chap called Ken, and asked if we could maybe, y’know if it wasn’t too much trouble, totally fine if not, have a go at DJ’ing the Indie Night.

As it happened, Jim and Chris had, I think, decided they’d had enough of DJ’ing, and were ready to stand down from their post, although I have some dim recollection that Chris had been kicked off his course and Jim didn’t want to carry on without him.

And so Ken, and the Entertainments Manager Phil, agreed to giving us a go, and dates and times were sorted out when we could be trained up.

The DJ booth was a place of wonder to me the first time I entered it. There were two Technics decks with the channels unit/mixing desk positioned in between them, all facing out onto the dancefloor, and with two crates of albums and 12″ singles housed underneath. Next to that was the light controls, which could be pre-programmed (by which I mean, buttons pressed making each individual light whirr into life) or you could operate them manually (by pressing a button, etc etc etc). Next, a video player, monitor, computer and keyboard; “Shafts” had several screens positioned around it, and you could mix between vinyl and videos, as well as using the computer to write messages for the crowd to read. Back in 1989, this was pretty high-tech stuff.

Finally, embedded into the back surface was a tray containing a couple of thousand 7″ singles, which we would scour through before the set began, pulling up any we thought we might play that night.

I had my training session and was left alone to practice for a couple of hours or so. It seemed pretty straight-forwards, and my happiness at having conquered it was topped by being asked to turn up for the next week’s “Funk Off” where I would DJ with Jim. Danny would DJ at the next one after that and then, when term started again in September, the night was to be ours.

So, Tuesday night rolled around, and I strolled up, with a bag of vinyl that I hadn’t spotted in the racks when I had my training session, and which I thoroughly intended to play.

Jim was already there, and was programming our names into the computer. Screen One: Welcome to Funk Off. Screen Two: Your DJs: Jolly Jim and…

“We need to give you a name”, said Jim.

“Is Jez not sufficient?” I replied.

“No. You need something alliterative to go with it. Something that isn’t ‘Jolly’, because that’s mine.”

So for that first night, and never again, we were billed as “Your DJs: Jolly Jim and Jocular Jez”.

Harumph.

“You’ve brought some records”, said Jolly Jim. “Let’s have a look.”

Jocular Jez was reluctant.

“It’s fine,” Jolly Jim reassured me, “as long as you haven’t brought anything as fey and ball-less as Talulah Gosh, of course.”

You can guess what happened next, dear readers.

Yes, the first 12″ he pulled from my bag (okay, that sounds ruder than I meant it to) was none other than this:

talulah-gosh-talulah-gosh-53rd-3rd-1

Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh

Cue: awkward silence and a raised eyebrow in my direction.

I didn’t dare to play it, after that look. But Jim dropped a tune which I don’t think I’ve heard before or since, a proper ace skanking hornblast of a record, which fits here too:

the-larks-cover

The Larks – Billy Graham’s Going to Heaven

There’s a couple of tunes buried away in my back catalogue of records that I love, that I think have enhanced my life (for the better), and which I can directly attribute to Jolly Jim, and this is most definitely one of them. The others will surface sooner or later, rest assured.

Cheers Jim!

More soon.

Name That Tune

Ok, so it’s been a while since I did one of these. Admittedly, I’ve been struggling to come up with songs which mentioned famous people – not singers, that’s Charity Chic‘s patch – in their song titles to post here.

And then my beloved iPod gave me today’s song, which doesn’t have any famous people in the title at all (unless the title refers to Piers Morgan, which I wouldn’t want to rule out), but does name-check an Oscar winning actress and one of them there intellectual types that Michael Gove says we’re all fed up with.

Looking back, I can see this record as a stepping stone to me adoring bands like The Smiths, who I didn’t fully appreciate until their time was almost done. Bands who referenced intellects and authors; as my youthful thirst for intellectual stimulation expanded, so I began to listen to records which at the very least pointed me in the right direction. But by now, I wanted something a little less ham-fisted than The Police’s reference to “the old man in that book by Nabakov” on “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, and Lloyd Cole and The Commotions seemed to be able to provide everything that I needed.

“Rattlesnakes”, for that is the record I’m talking about, references  French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist Simone de Beauvoir. As I realise that paragraph above makes me look a little wanky, I should stress I have never read anything by Nabakov or de Beauvoir, but at least I knew who they were, and aged 16 that seemed to be enough somehow.

Similarly, it makes mention of Eve Marie Saint in “On The Waterfront”, a film she won an Oscar for (Best Supporting Actress), and a film I’ve never got round to watching. But I know she’s in it.

My life is full of these little bits of half-knowledge. When I was younger, I watched “Apocalypse Now” and found it was based on “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, which I rushed out and bought. And there it still sits, thirty-odd years later, unread and dusty on my book shelves.

What I’m trying to say is: I’m a pretty handy person to have on your pub quiz team.

When you’re a teenager, struggling to work out who you are, to assume your own identity, you clutch and grab at these things. To my mind, it didn’t matter that I’d never read de Beauvior or Conrad, or never seen Marie Saint act; what mattered was that I knew who they were, which many of my peers did not.

lloyd-cole-and-the-commotions-rattlesnakes

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

What’s spectacular about that record, is that as well as referencing a fixed point in cinema, there’s something cinematic about the record itself: you can picture Jodie, looking like Eve Marie Saint in “On The Waterfront”, speeding down the freeway, trying her luck with the traffic police. David Lynch directing, I think.

I didn’t buy the “Rattlesnakes” single or the album when they came out, but I remember my mate Paul having the album, and loving this song, along with “Perfect Skin”,  and “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?” from it. Of course, when I finally got round to buying the album, I realised that every song on it is utter perfection.

If you already own the Rattlesnakes album, I would hope the mere mention of it would entice you back to listen to it again. Just writing this has made me do so.

And since I mentioned “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?”, here it is:

are-you-ready-to-be-heartbroken-lloyd-cole-and-commotions

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

Since I’m posting that, I may as well post a bloody wonderful record which references Mr Cole and that song (CC: sorry if I’ve nicked this one off your toes!!):

camera-obscura-lloyd-im-ready-to-be-heartbroken-elefant

Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken

More soon.

Name That Tune

At the moment, I’m sorting out songs I bought in 1986 for your delectation, and the album this comes from loomed large, so I figured I may as well post this one now.

Plus, it seems that whenever I post some Half Man Half Biscuit, I get a lot of love for having done so. Call me vain, if you like.

The song in question features one of my favourite HMHB lyrics ever: “They’ve been cooking on Blue Peter, now they’re sampling the dishes. ‘I don’t normally like tomatoes, John, but this is delicious'”.

HMHB afficionados will already know which song I mean:

JBHMHBBitDHSS

Half Man Half Biscuit – 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd

And in case you’re wondering who Bob Todd is, there’s a reason I’m not posting a link to something he was in, and that reason is The Benny Hill Show. Go Google it yourself if you’re that curious.

Which makes it apt that I’m forced to post it using Zippyshare, so you all get to encounter those reputable ladies who apparently live very close to you. (By which I mean: please do not click anything other than Play or Download)

More soon.