Late Night Stargazing

This week, I have been mildly obsessed with Billy Bragg. For three reasons.

Firstly, apropos of nothing, I had this, an extra track on his You Woke Up My Neighbourhood CD single, as an earworm for a few days:

Secondly, because as long-term readers may recall, a load of my vinyl inexplicably vanished a few years ago, stolen either by an ex-flatmate who did a runner, or by some unsavoury types invited back from a ropey local pub and left unsupervised by later flatmates, and amongst the records lost was my entire collection of Billy’s records.

This week, all for the princely sum of £15.00 + P&P (a bargain!), I (re)purchased Brewing Up With…, Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy, and a 12″ single of this, :

…which of course includes this on the B-side, guitar courtesy of Mr Johnny Marr:

Billy Bragg – Walk Away Renee

Thirdly, because, to cheer myself up, I bought this bad boy:

No offence to Mr Bragg, but I bet you can guess which of the three tunes I still cannot play.

Nobody plays guitar like Johnny Marr.

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

Regular visitors will recall that a few weeks ago, I took ownership of on the responsibility of looking after my brother’s vinyl.

In case you missed it, a brief recap: my brother has been living overseas for the past few years, the majority of his belonging in storage whilst he was away.

Now he’s back, all of his worldy belongings have been retrieved, and since he hasn’t owned a turntable since sometime in the 1990s, he decided he had no use of his vinyl anymore, and that it could go to an appreciative, caring home (i.e. mine.)

He’s quite techy, my brother, so I don’t really envisage him investing in a turn-table anytime soon. I’m not saying his vinyl is now my vinyl but….

The other week, he arrived at my gaff in North London, having driven from our folks house in Northamptonshire, dropped off his vinyl and, to my surprise, his CD collection (which I haven’t even ventured into yet; there’s three crates worth for me to investigate, although a cursory glance picked out a mix CD I’d made him, obviously much appreciated), before we headed off to Staffordshire to his new place, where we dropped off the rest of the stuff he had collected from our parents’, and then it was off to Nottinghamshire to one of those Big Yellow places to collect his tropical fish tanks and an absolute fuck load of gravel.

At the first stop at his new home, one of his new neighbours approached us, proffering a parcel of his which she had signed for. The three of us chatted for a few moments, during which time it came out that he had got rid of his vinyl as part of the move. The neighbour seemed shocked he could let the vinyl go, and we reassured her by telling her I was looking after them.

“Well, at least they’re local if you want them, then,” she said.

“Not really,” I replied, “I live in London.”

Anyway, as no doubt those of you who were aware of my recent receipt of this cache of vinyl loveliness had been expecting, I figured I’d write about some of them. But where to start?

Thumbing through them, I was reminded of both our early obsession with rock music; there’s a lot more Deep Purple than I expected, quite a bit of Led Zeppelin too. Ah,we were all young once.

And then I began to notice the records I remembered him owning but which weren’t there: where were his copies of AC/DC’s Back in Black and For Those About to Rock that I distinctly remember him owning. And his copy of Quo’s 12 Gold Bars? And, considerably less rocky, an album that we’d inexplicably both owned copies of, like (brace yourself) Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man?

And there’s my “in”, I thought. Let’s start off my by looking at the records we had in common.

For there are some, and not just ones which I’ve subsequently bought, which we have in common, and a couple of albums, by the same band, which I don’t remember him owning, but which I definitely did.

That should not be misconstrued as an allegation of theft, by the way.

But very very long term readers may remember that I wrote here about my youthful obsession with the God that is Shakin’ Stevens, and how I grew out of it and into The Police just at the wrong time in terms of Christmas presents being bought.

Weirdly, as we drove north from London to Staffs, our conversation turned to the band in question, as this got played on the radio:


The Police – Spirits in the Material World

It’s a running joke between my brother and I that I’m “in charge of remembering things”. We’re not just talking birthdays and anniversaries, but also people we’ve both known in the past and, on this occasion, that The Police was the first proper gig that he went to. I think he was a little taken aback by the fact that I remembered this.

I remember this not because of The Police, but because of their support band that night (The Alarm), who my brother and his mates came away feeling more excited about than the main act. Shortly afterwards, they all started spiking their hair up, and from there it was but a short step to the World of Goth they all inhabited for the next couple of years (and which he wrote about here), much to the chagrin of the local knuckle-draggers who, when faced with three spikey haired, tight black jeans, flowery shirts and winkle-picker wearing youths, decided that the only thing to do to something new that they didn’t understand was to kick the living shit out of them at every opportunity.

But more of this another time.

A few weeks ago, I featured an album I’d purchased on vinyl shortly before learning I’d be taking ownership of my brother’s stash, and which I suspected would be amongst his collection (it wasn’t). Since I didn’t remember him owning a copy of today’s record, which I’d also recently re-purchased, here’s some other tunes from the same album:

The Police – Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

Look, I know Sting is a twat. But that, my friends, is a fecking great pop song.

The Police – Rehumanize Yourself

The Police – Too Much Information

The Police – Demolition Man

(Yes, we have Sting to blame for a terrible Stallone/Snipes movie!)

The Police – Invisible Sun

And to round things off, a cover of that last tune; I’d like to say this is the one redeeming feature from the worthy but ghastly Peace Together project from the early 1990s, but I’m not sure that even that platitude is accurate:


Therapy? – Invisible Sun

More soon. Maybe something interesting, who can tell?

Replenishing the Vinyl

Regular viewers may recall previous mentions of the influence my older brother (actually, my only brother, if we’re excluding Brothers from Another Mother) had on my musical inclinations as we grew up.

They may even recall that he has been living overseas for the past few years, and it wasn’t even for tax reasons (as far as I know).

Well, now he’s back, Back, BACK! (obligatory Smash Hits reference, there) in the UK and this weekend I have the pleasure of helping him collect all of his wordly possessions from a lock-up and move them to his new home.

Not my preferred way of spending a Bank Holiday weekend, I must admit, but I owe him one, as when I moved from the sleepy backwaters of Cheltenham up to That London, he hired a van, drove from Nottingham and collected me and all of my crap and delivered us to my old shared flat.

Brotherly love, eh? Can’t beat it.

And there’s even a sweetener for me. Now he’s back in the UK, we had been trying to sort out a good weekend to spend with the ‘Rents, if for no other good reason than to mark Dad’s 78th birthday, which fell a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s how that conversation went:

Bruv: So I’ll hire a van and I’ll either drive down to London to pick you up or drop you back.

Me: You really don’t need to do that.

Bruv: Yeh I do, how else are you going to get it all home?

Me: Get all what home?

Bruv: My vinyl.

A light-bulb pings open above my head. Unlike me, my brother has never sold, lost, lent or traded his vinyl, but it has been in storage for years, partly because he was living overseas, mostly because he hasn’t had a turntable for about thirty years.

What I’m saying is this: expect a series very soon where I go through his record collection.

What I’m also saying is this: anyone else whose vinyl I have been looking after for the past six years, and who has been promising for over a year to come and collect it, you need to up your game. I’m running out of room.

Anyway, whilst the news that I’m about to take on the responsibility of caring for my brother’s record collection obviously fills me with delight, there is a slight downside.

For just the day before our conversation, I had bought today’s record, which I’m pretty sure he owns too.

The Men They Couldn’t Hang get a bad rep, generally described as “not as good as the Pogues”.

It’s an unfair comparison, firstly because very few bands are as good as The Pogues were in their absolute pomp, and secondly because they’re more anarcho-politico-folk-punk (have I just invented a new genre?) than The Pogues ever were.

A fairer comparison would be The Pogues meets Chumbawamba, although that makes them sound absolutely awful, which they most definitely are not.

Here’s the evidence:


The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Day After

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – A Night to Remember

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Walkin’ Talkin’

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Kingdom Come

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Ironmasters

I’d direct you to the last of those tunes, which is an absolute belter in my book. Although as the song talks about 18th Century riots in Wales (“From the smokey stacks of Merthyr, to the hills of Ebbw Vale….on a hill in Brecon is Crawshay’s ruined house…”) my connections with the green and pleasant land may colour my judgement somewhat.

The Crawshay in question is Crawshay Bailey, an English industrialist and staunch trade union opponent. You can look him up if you so choose.

Anyway, achy-armed will be back with some more soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

Hello. I haven’t gone. Just fancied a break.

Whenever I’ve decided to go on hiatus before, I’ve usually said so in advance, but I decided to do so again this time might come across as a little needy, actively encouraging regular readers to ask if I was okay, to tell me that when writing this place becomes a chore then it’s time to take five – precisely the advice I’ve offered to my peers, as it goes. (oh, and thanks to those of you who did take the time to contact me anyway to make sure I wasn’t laying dead in a pool of Jack Daniels and my own bodily fluids.)

Truth is, I wasn’t suffering from writer’s block, nor did I feel the blog had become a task to be completed, several times a week. Actually, I just couldn’t be arsed to write anything for a while.

Anyway,  now I’m back and I thought I’d kick off with something light.


I’ve made no bones in the past of my utter adoration of The Smiths, late as I was to the whole party (did Smiths fans ever got to parties…?), but I did write a few months ago about how I had reached the end of my tether with the bequiffed professional grump, in light of some rather dubious opinions he had aired.

And lo and behold, he’s been at it again. I’m not going to give any more column inches to what he has actually said this time, but when I go on to Twitter and see my old mate Rich – a die-hard Morrissey fan if ever there was one, and, lest I forget, the man who properly switched me on to The Smiths back in 1986 (see, I told you I was late to the party) – has done a triple-linked tweet @Morrissey explaining why he was wrong, then suffice it to say Stephen Patrick must have crossed a line.

Now, I’m not going to criticise Rich for his continued adoration of Morrissey, despite all his faults. If I’m honest, I’d expect nothing less; after all Rich is my longest serving, and therefore most faithful friend, and if he can see past and forgive me for all of my oh-so-many faults, then I’d expect nothing less than for him to extend the same courtesy to the man who has by far had the greatest impact and influence on his life.

I mean, I’ve never written a lyric anywhere near as good as How Soon is Now? (though I have written a lot that are considerably better than Roy’s Keen. Just wait until I get round to telling you about the song about self-abuse based on both Bohemian Rhapsody and a Purple Ronnie card that I both wrote and performed live. Actually, now that I write that, it sounds fricking incredible).

I think the reason I’m so had-it-up-to-here with Morrissey is the sense of utter betrayal. When I was a teenager, assembling and honing my political position and societal standpoint which, let’s be honest, leaned ever-so-slightly to the left, and living in a leafy area of Cambridgeshire where I was most definitely in the minority, Morrissey was a beacon, a guiding light. His position was stoically working class (I can’t pretend I was anything other than middle class, but I empathised), anti-establishment and anti-royalty, sexually and gender ambiguous (okay, I never got fully on board with this to the extent where I wanted to dip a toe in, but still…) and to see the message he sends out now just feels like…is treasonous to strong a word? Duplicitous? I dunno.

See, I don’t understand how someone can go from being in one political position to being at almost the polar opposite a few years later. I appreciate there is the idea that as one gets older you become more right-wing, but it’s not something that has happened to me. In fact, I sit with Elvis Costello when, back in 1989, he said when introducing Tramp the Dirt Down on a BBC Late Show Special:

“I’m not some little kid that they can say “There, there, now, you’re just these young little teenagers that are having their moment of protest. I’m a man. I’m 35 years old. And I’m fucking sick of it, with what’s going on in this country.”

Part of me wants to attribute Morrissey’s recent statements to having a new record to promote, wanting to stir up a bit of controversy. But that’s no excuse with aligning yourself with unsavoury knucklescrapers.

Take his recent comeback single, Spent the Day in Bed. Something niggled at me when I heard that, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But the other day, it finally clicked into place. It’s that line:

“Stop watching the news, because the news contrives to frighten you.”

Isn’t that an ever-so slightly more articulate way of saying “Fake News”?

Remember when Ben Elton went from co-writing revolutionary landmark comedies The Young Ones and Blackadder, and doing vitriolic stand-up routines routinely attacking “Mrs Thatch” and being universally adored by the Left and the Youth, to being pilloried and lambasted for selling out by writing musicals with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sun City stalwarts Queen? That’s what this feels like.

To paraphrase: Morrissey is the music world’s Ben Elton.

And I’ll be honest: vowing not to buy another record by Morrissey is not that tough an ask, given that I haven’t truly loved anything he’s released for, oh I don’t know, at least ten years now, probably longer.

But still.

Still there’s a part of me that won’t let go.

In the back of my mind there’s not just The Smiths that I have to thank him for. There’s the other cultural references he gave me way back then, things I may never have discovered for myself, things which are as important to me now as they were back in the day.

Oscar Wilde. Shelagh Delaney. The Primitives. Keats and Yeats.

Sandie Shaw.

The Sandie Shaw/Smiths collaboration was over long before I had tuned in to the Mancunian four piece, and it wasn’t until The South Bank Show documentary which focussed on them that I really became aware that she was more than just a woman who didn’t wear any shoes and who won the Eurovision Song Contest sometime in the 60s.

So here’s some songs by Sandie that I love, and which are included in a cheap Best of (although it is careful not to call itself that) album on the Hallmark label (the words of Nigel from Half Man Half Biscuit on 24 Hour Garage People ring in my ears: “That’s sure to be good!”) that I recently picked up.


Sandie Shaw – Puppet on a String

Sandie Shaw – Message Understood

Sandie Shaw – Girl Don’t Come

And my absolute favourite by her, not least because of the horns which come parping in towards the end, like they’ve wandered in from Tom Jones recording It’s Not Unusual in an adjacent studio:

Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love

See? Keeping it light.

Morrissey can still sod off, mind.

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

The more keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed that this series, when I can be bothered to write it, features not records that I used to own and have lost for various reasons (read: skint and sold it); rather it tends to feature records that I wished I’d bought years ago, or records which remind me of being a kid, by which I mean records owned by either my Dad or my brother.

Such is today’s choice, a record that loomed large over my childhood, and of which I have no complaints about (either the records looming or my childhood, this isn’t Angela’s Ashes).

Mention John Denver to most people and they will say something along the lines of  one or all of the following things:

  1. The Annie’s Song guy?
  2. The Grandma’s Feather Bed guy?
  3. Didn’t he do a record with The Muppets?
  4. The crashing his airplane into a mountain guy?
  5. The Milky Bar Kid guy?

The thing is, when you’re growing up, or more specifically, as I grew up, I’d rather have eaten my own testicles than admit to liking any records that either my Dad or my brother liked. Their music tastes were my mortal enemy, to be defeated at every opportunity (generally by playing Quo really loudly).

But as I got older, and both me and my music tastes mellowed, I came to see they both had a point. As a kid, my brother liked the Stones, so I liked The Beatles, just to be contrary and different from him. That changed. And my Dad liked Kris Kristofferson, then okay I’ll sing along to appease him, but what I really wanted to hear at the time was some thumbs-in-belt-hoops, double-denim, three-chord boogie.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point the barriers came down. With my brother and I it was when we were in our teens; there’s only a couple of years between us so this was probably inevitable, I guess. But with my Dad’s record collection, I’d say maybe I was in my mid-twenties when I realised he had a point about some of the acts he loved.

A drunken night with my brother probably sealed it.

Me: Shall I stick some tunes on?

Him: Have you got Me and Bobby McGee?

Ah, bugger, he’s right again.

See, I feel rather blessed that music was such a big part of our family life as I was growing up, and much as I pretended to hate all those old records my Dad played, their effect was just as inescapable: they kind of soaked in, I absorbed them and stored them up for future use.

It just took me a little longer with some of his records than others, and John Denver falls into that category.

In fact, it wasn’t until in my mid- thirties – in a moment that I now realise resonates greatly with a moment in my teens I wrote about here when I could only bring myself to admitting to liking a record by Suzanne Vega because a mate said they liked it first – that I got into a conversation with a work colleague who was learning to play the guitar, and was ecstatic as he had mastered the aforementioned Annie’s Song.

“That’s such a great record,” I surprised myself by assenting.

“It is a great record,” he confirmed, a tiny bit of saliva threatening to escape his bulging jowls.

And there it was. I had admitted to liking John Denver to another human being. I was outed as a Denverite. And not to just anyone, someone who could play guitar and wasn’t a nerd at all.

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, he played chess, and went on to tell me in rib-nudging fashion about some female professional Russian chess players he really fancied. But apart from that, definitely not a nerd.

And so, to today’s record: Windsong by John Denver.

Some things you need to know:

  1. It contains nothing as drop-dead wonderful as Annie’ Song (and if you don’t think that’s a drop-dead wonderful song a) you’re wrong, and b) you need to befriend a chess player
  2. It contains nothing as yee-haw hill-billy-esque as Grandma’s Feather Bed
  3. It does contain some pretty ruddy marvellous songs.

Like these (and by the way, this guy was such a massive star in the 70s, he didn’t even have to bother putting his name on record sleeves):


John Denver – Windsong

John Denver – Cowboy’s Delight

John Denver – Looking for Space

John Denver – Shipmates and Cheyenne

John Denver – Late Nite Radio

John Denver – Fly Away

John Denver – Calypso

John Denver – Song of Wyoming

If you only listen to one of those, make it Calypso. Or Late Nite Radio. Or…oh I give up. Just listen, will you.

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

Back in 1994 I got my first credit card.

Armed with it, I ventured into Cardiff, determined to purchase some music.

My girlfriend at the time feared the outcome, thoroughly expecting I would blow the whole of my credit limit in one go.

Obstinate bugger that I am, I returned home with just one CD, one of those tribute albums, where current cool bands cover songs by one particular artiste.

This particular one was called “If I Were A Carpenter”, a tribute to – you guessed it – The Carpenters, featuring acts like American Music Club, Sonic Youth, Grant Lee Buffalo, Sheryl Crow, Redd Kross and, as they say on irritating adverts, many, many more.

The Carpenters are, I think, one of those bands that people consider sickly sweet, a bit naff, a guilty pleasure, but as you know, we don’t like that phrase round these parts.

No, as the sticker on the front of the CD proclaimed “The Carpenters are cool!”, and these bands and this album gave those who secretly liked their records permission to out themselves as fans.

When I worked in a motorway café as a teenager, often after work we would go back to someone’s house, have a few drinks, play a few records and have a bit of a sing-song. And The Carpenters, without fail, were always played, because everyone knew they were great, and everyone knew all of the words.

Curiously, though, I’d never owned anything by them.

Until recently, when I stumbled over a double Greatest Hits album of theirs, on sale second hand. Ker-ching!

The story of The Carpenters is, of course, tragic. Karen never wanted to be the front woman; she was a drummer by trade, and as fame found her she yearned for nothing more than to be allowed to get back behind the skins, sticks in hand.

Conversely, brother Richard did want the stardom, but the public, and, more importantly, the record label, wanted Karen out front. As a result (probably) of her unwanted place in the spotlight, Karen developed anorexia nervosa, and died from heart failure caused by complications from her illness at the tragically young age of 32. Too young, far too young.

Here’s some of their finest moments which I now proudly own, sugar sweet, glorious and catchy as hell:


The Carpenters – Yesterday Once More

The Carpenters – We’ve Only Just Begun

The Carpenters – Superstar

And, featuring one of the greatest rock guitar solos ever committed to record:

The Carpenters – Goodbye To Love

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

Not really a Saturday morning kind of record, this one. More a ‘in the wee small hours of a Friday night or Saturday morning record’, really.

But it’s a gorgeous record that my Dad owned and which I picked up recently.

I know nothing of Rod McKuen, other than Frank Sinatra did this album of his songs. Oh, and my Dad also has a Rod McKuen album, Live at Carnegie Hall (I think), which is also magnificent.

But this is a record that evokes smoky bar rooms, whiskey on the rocks and some mafia types looking on appreciatively. It’s poignant, mournful, moving and beautiful. And it contains next to none of his famous songs, bar maybe one which many will know because Johnny Cash covered it on “American Recordings V – A Hundred Highways”:

Frank Sinatra A Man Alone 1969

Frank Sinatra – A Man Alone

Frank Sinatra – I’ve Been To Town

Frank Sinatra – The Beautiful Strangers

Frank Sinatra – Love’s Been Good To Me

More soon.


Replenishing the Vinyl

When I was younger, I was a serious vinyl junkie, much to my mother’s annoyance.

Every spare penny went on two things:

  1. records, and
  2. the bus fare into town and back so I could buy records.

And every time I returned home, square plastic bag clutched in my sweaty little hand, I would race upstairs to listen to my latest purchases, oblivious to my Mum’s calls after me that “money burns a hole in your pocket”.

Well, something happened this week which, when she reads this, will lead her to tut, roll her eyes and mutter how she was right and how nothing has changed.

I’ll explain. Wednesday evening, I’ve finished work and am waiting to catch the bus home. Just next to my bus stop is a charity shop which has fairly recently opened. I’ve no idea what charity it supports; I rarely check the benefactors of such establishments, just in case its one that I don’t like. You know, one of those notorious bad charities.

Anyway, the shop has closed but the shutters aren’t down yet so I thought I’d do a bit of window shopping. Truth is, I’ve done this quite a lot at this shop recently, ever since the chap who sits on the desk opposite me (also a vinyl junkie, also a lover of trawling round charity shops in the hope of unearthing a bargain) waltzed back into work after lunch, gleefully clutching a hardback copy “Alan Partridge: Nomad” that he’d picked up for £2.00 there.

The book shelves are quite close to the window, and with a bit of squinting you can make out some of the titles: Dan Brown, Dan Brown, Russell Brand, Dan Brown. The usual selections one finds donated to charity stores.

But underneath that, I spied a new addition to the Entertainment Section: a plastic container full of vinyl, and there, right at the front, a copy of “Now That’s What I Call Music Vol II”. I determined that I would return there the following day to investigate further.

Thursday lunchtime. I’ve been out visiting one of the schools in the Borough and have caught the bus back to the office. I say the office, but actually I swung by the charity shop in question en route. (S’ok, it was my lunch break.)

The 80s compilation album was there, priced up at £3.75. Reasonable, I thought, as long as the vinyl itself was in good nick. I slipped both discs from their inner sleeves (reassuringly, the previous owner had placed them with the opening facing upwards so the vinyl couldn’t roll out or attract dust), held them both up to the light from the window and examined them. A tad dusty, but not warped and no obvious scratches or blemishes. I decided to buy it. As I turned to approach the counter, I glanced down at the plastic container, and there, now, after I had liberated “…Vol II”, at the front was….

“Now That’s What I Call Music”.

The first volume. They didn’t call it “Now That’s What I Call Music Vol I” for much the same reason, I imagine, as the First World War wasn’t called that at the time: they didn’t know there was going to be Second one.

I knelt down again, pulled that one from the container. And behind it was “Vol III”. And “Vol IV”. And “Vol V”. And “Vol VI”. And “Vol VIII”. And “Vol IX”. And “Vol X”. And “Vol XI”. And “Vol XIV”. And “Vol XVI”. That’s 12 volumes, all in pretty good nick, all, bar Vols I & II, priced at just £1.10 each.

Five minutes later, I left the shop, just over £18.00 poorer, but immeasurably happier. So, what if it’s two weeks until payday, I don’t need to eat every day.

At work, one of the girls asked me what I’d bought. She’s quite a lot younger than me, so I showed her, but started off by saying “You’re probably not old enough to remember these…”, meaning when the “Now…” series started. “Oh, I remember those,” she said. “My Dad used to own some records.” Bubble of joy duly punctured.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how much I enjoy watching the reruns of old 80s editions of Top of the Pops on BBC4, as they bring back so many memories and the same is true of these albums, the first couple being from roughly the period those repeats are no now. Although, perversely, I didn’t buy a single one of them back in the day. (I say perversely, but I know exactly why I didn’t: Quo don’t appear for the first time until Vol VIII. Had they featured earlier/more frequently, the teenage me would have undoubtedly been unable to resist. And to save you checking, yes Vol VIII was amongst the ones I bought.)

So I thought I’d spread some 80s joy today, and every now and again on a Saturday morning, picking my favourite track(s) from each side of each one that I picked up.

Volume I was released in 1983, and the compilers of the album have made my task somewhat easier by picking two tracks by Kajagoogoo (no thanks) and, one by former Kajagoogoo singer Limahl (by far the worst record on here, and given the inclusion of UB40 – also twice – that’s really saying something. Bop bop shoo be doo wah.) Seriously, breaking the golden rule of mix-tapes and compilations by featuring the same artist more than once really didn’t bode well for this series of releases, but here we are, 24 years later, and they’re still going.

Anyway, front and cover art is below, so you can have fun guessing which tracks I’ve picked, deciding which you’d have picked, and trying to remember what the significance of the pig was:


Heaven 17 – Temptation

(Surely their finest moment…?)

Rock Steady Crew – Hey You (Rock Steady Crew)

(I love this. It was going to feature on my motivational Monday morning series sooner or later, but I can’t resist the…erm…temptation to post it here.)

Human League – Fascination

(They were just brilliant back then, weren’t they? Then he cut (the other side of) his hair and they went off the boil.)

Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know

(It’s nowhere near as great as the original, but it least it has Kirsty on it, performing the “Baby!” at the end of the musical bridge, as Ullman couldn’t hit the note.)

Will Powers – Kissing With Confidence

(That record taught me a lot when I was a teenager…)

Madness – The Sun And The Rain

(If I’m pushed, that’s probably my favourite record by The Nutty Boys. But, I don’t understand why people call them The Nutty Boys. It takes longer to both say and type than Madness does.)

That’ll do you.

More soon.

Replenishing The Vinyl

Following on from last week’s post about Voice of the Beehive, we move back to 1964 and the first solo album by probably the most famous beehive wearer, marginally ahead of Amy Winehouse and Peggy Bundy.

I speak, of course, of Dusty Springfield.

‘A Girl Called Dusty’ is very much a showcase album; recorded shortly after The Springfields had split, and after, but oddly not featuring, her debut hit “I Only Want To Be With You”, it contains a mixture of pop songs, and marks her first collaboration with legendary song-writing duos Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

Here’s the pick of them:


Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Own Me

Dusty Springfield – When the Lovelight Starts Shining Thru His Eyes

Dusty Springfield – Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa

Dusty Springfield – Will You Love Me Tomorrow

Dusty Springfield – Wishin’ and Hopin’

More soon.

Replenishing The Vinyl

It appears to be Saturday morning again, which makes it time to have a peek at what vinyl I’ve bought recently.

Today: a debut album from 1988 by a band who achieved some modicum of success with it, releasing five singles (and re-releasing a further two). I’d bought their second single on 12″ the first time it was released (in 1987, when it wasn’t a hit), and managed to give my smug “yeah, I bought that the first time it was out” an airing for the first time when it got re-released (in 1988, when it was).

Centre-stage were Tracey Bryn and Melissa Brooke Belland (you have to be careful how you write and pronounce that) who became better know as Tracey and Melissa Beehive, and there was Woody from Madness on drums.

I speak, of course, of Voice of the Beehive, and here’s some songs from “Let It Bee”:


Voice Of The Beehive – Just A City

Voice of the Beehive – I Say Nothing

Voice of the Beehive – I Walk the Earth

Voice of the Beehive – Don’t Call Me Baby

Voice Of The Beehive – Man In The Moon

Listening back to those, I don’t think they’ve aged all that badly at all, really.

As a special little treat (although you may disagree), here’s Tracey and Melissa covering Johnny Cash, from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time:


Tracey and Melissa Beehive – Five Feet High And Risin’

More soon.