That Summer Feeling #23

For many youngsters in the UK, today is the first day of the summer holidays, so today’s post seems rather appropriate.

Lifted from their third album, here’s some Art Brut:

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Art Brut – Summer Job

Be a nice change¬†to get served in shops¬†by stroppy, disenfranchised¬†teenagers instead of bored, disinterested adults for a few weeks, won’t it?

I’ve loved Art Brut and lead singer Eddie Argos’s witty lyrics and, shall we say, distinctive vocal style since the moment Llyr and I first stumbled across their debut single back in 2004. It’s a glorious yelp of youth, an announcement of arrival, coupled with an archness, a knowingness and¬†it steals the thunder of any critics who don’t like his “singing voice” before they have chance to fire up their laptops to pen a scathing diatribe: “It’s not irony, it’s not rock’n’roll, we’re just talking to The Kids!”

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Art Brut – Formed a Band

Love it. There’s a slightly more polished version on their debut album “Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll” which, if you don’t own, you really should. Or just stick around, I’ll find an excuse to post more from it sooner or later.

More soon.

That Summer Feeling #22

Last one for this weekend.

And I’m not sure that, strictly speaking, this qualifies as a summer record.

But, since part of the name of the act includes the word “Summer”, I’m posting it. The thread’s called “That Summer Feeling” for a reason. My rules. Moan and I’m taking my ball home.

I first stumbled across this record back when The Chart Show was still on Channel 4 on a Friday evening. I was aware of the female part of the three acts involved, through their “Rules and Regulations” 12″ which I’ve mentioned before, my brother and I both having purchased copies of it, in all its one-side-music-the-other-side-etched-caricature-of-the-band glory.

It took me a looooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggg time to track down a copy of this record. In fact, it was a good 15 – 20 years later that I finally stumbled upon it in Kelly’s Records, the second-hand record stall in Cardiff’s indoor market.

It was also, I think, my first introduction to the deadpan brilliance that is Ted Chippington, of whom I’ve also banged on about quite a bit here before, so I’ll spare you this time.

I speak of this:

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The Vindaloo Summer Special – Rockin’ With Rita (Head to Toe)

I bloody love that record. Cheesy smile on my face whenever I hear it.

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version (That Summer Feeling #20 – #21)

Aww, you guys.

Following on from my post yesterday about Mr Blue Sky, I received two comments nudging me in the direction of two more, very different, cover versions that I wasn’t aware of, both of which are so good, I felt obliged to seek them out and post them.

So,¬†and with thanks to Alex G,¬†first up here’s Lily Allen, who¬†did a version for a French mobile phone network advert (I think) which doesn’t seem to have ever had¬†an official release here in the UK, hence this awful sleeve I found online:

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Lily Allen – Mr Blue Sky

Further thanks to julianbadenoch for letting me know about this:

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Joe Brown – Mr Blue Sky

Joe will be featuring in¬†a future post I have lined up, so I won’t talk about him now, but I have to say, that’s bloody good, isn’t it? It really captures the happy-go-lucky essence not just of the record, but of Joe himself.

Dad – one for you to learn?

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing (That Summer Feeling #18)

Tonight, a song which means a lot to me.

Actually, three songs.

Over the past ten years or so, I’ve had the misfortune to spend some time¬†unemployed. When you’re around the 40-mark, this is a scary place to be.

Needless to say, it was an incredibly demoralising situation. My jobless times happened to correspond with summer weather, but I can assure you, the last thing you feel like doing is going out and passing the time sunbathing.

The first time it happened, I had just moved from Cardiff to Cheltenham. I’d landed a job with a firm of solicitors, and had been commuting between the two cities for three months whilst I worked out my probation period. Just before that three month period was up, I was called into the office by the MD, told I was doing great and encouraged to make the move to Cheltenham. Which I did, finding a decent two bedroom flat I could afford, and moving in as fast as I could.

No more than a couple of weeks later, I was called into the office again by the main partner of the firm – who had interviewed me, and given me the positon because of my background in¬†insurance¬†– who promptly “let me go” (which sounds so much nicer than “fired”) because I was “too Insurance-y” and because they’d hired people from an insurance background before and “it had never worked”. So: fired for the exact reason I’d been hired. Cheers for that.

There followed an extended period of unemployment, where I was stranded high and dry in a town where there were no prospects, and where I knew nobody (bar one girl, Emily, who I had befriended when she was a rollie-smoking temp at the same firm, summarily dismissed in much the same way as I) until I finally landed a job which allowed me to get the fuck out of Cheltenham and on to London. (As it goes, a year later I got made redundant from that job. I was really on a roll, or as my brother summarised in one phone call “Jesus, you just can’t catch a break at the moment, can you?”)

Anyway, tonight’s song was played quite a lot during the darker hours which occurred during that period of nothingness:

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Emiliana Torrini – Unemployed in Summertime

Categorically, this is not how unemployment treated me. It was a horrid, hollow, vacuous experience, where the only person I spoke to face to face was my counsellor, once a fortnight, at the Job Centre. It was not all sitting on Primrose Hill doing magazine sex quizzes.

There are two more songs, which articulate the pit I was in at the time, both suitable for posting here. Firstly, this, possibly one of the most depressing records you’ll ever hear, dealing as it does with rejection, depression, suicide, and the death of your parents:

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Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)

Cheery stuff, no? But perfect for late night contemplation.

And then there was this, a song about loneliness and depression, but penned in a defiant, triumphant manner:

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Neil Diamond – I Am…I Said

I would sing along, supplementing the word “Cardiff” for “New York”, and¬†“Cheltenham” for “L.A.”, which, with the benefit of hindsight,¬†didn’t scan so well, if I’m honest.

Ordinarily, I’m a fairly happy-go-lucky, laid back, nothing really fazes me kind of chap, but I’m sure anyone who knew me and was in contact with me in those times would confirm that’s certainly not how I was then. I may have fronted it up, but I was miserable. Had I been to see my GP and explained, I think I could easily have been diagnosed with depression.

Happy to report, though, all is well now. A friend of mine, Holmesy (hello! and thank you!), regularly tells me now how good it is to have “the old me” back, which is just lovely to hear, but the fact he feels the need to say it¬†is¬†a marker for just how down and insular I became.

By the way, I should make it clear that I could never have got through those months without the support of my family and friends. My folks for helping me with the financial problems that being on Job Seeker’s Allowance (which just about covered all of my bills, after which,¬†if I was¬†lucky, I might have enough left over to buy food)¬†inevitably brings; my friends – and Hel in particular – for just saying “Come and see us. We’ll pay. We want you to be here with us.” I can never thank any of you enough.

On top of that, writing this helps. So to anyone who has ever commented or tweeted me because of something I’ve written here: thank you. It really means a lot.

Ahem. *Pulls himself together*

I guess what¬†I’m trying to say is: just because it’s sunny outside, don’t assume everyone is happy inside.

More (and hopefully less depressing) soon.

Same Title, Different Song (That Summer Feeling #17)

And the hits just keep on coming.

So, what we have here is a triple whammy: one of the very few glorious Britpop summer romps, one which has absolutely nothing to do with summer at all, but it’s by a band that I haven’t posted enough of, even if this song is from one of my least favourite periods in their recording career (although this one does sound rather nice on a sunny day or late at night, take your pick), and one by one of the most influential dance acts of the last twenty years, who just happen to be French. Take that, Brexiters! (It’s not Take That, Brexiters)

First up: what’s not to like about Ash?

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Ash – Oh Yeah

And so to Roxy Music, and a single lifted from their “Flesh + Blood” album, and which is kinda okay in a suave, croony kinda way, but far, far away from how the band sounded when Brian Eno was involved, when we all know they were at the height of their powers:

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Roxy Music – Oh Yeah

And just to round things off (and I’m sure there area million other records with the same name, by the way), a little something a little more influential. From their debut album “Homework”, this:

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Daft Punk – Oh Yeah

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version (That Summer Feeling #15 – #16)

I would imagine many of you would have been surprised that today’s song didn’t feature in last night summer-themed Friday Night Music Club.

There was a reason for that. I was holding it back. Yes, further evidence of me actually planning what I’m going to write instead of, as it may often seem, simply sitting in front of my laptop, starting to type and see what crap I can get away with.

This is, unquestionably, not just one my favourite summer songs ever, but one of my favourite songs ever. As testimony: after hours at Glastonbury in 2010, Heledd and I wound up in The Silent Disco. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept: all attendees are provided with headphones. The venue has 2 DJs playing simultaneously. You, the headphone-wearing attendee, can flick between channels/DJs and dance and sing-a-long (there is a lot of singing-a-long, so the pretence of it being silent is something of a misnomer) to your hearts content.

It so transpired that at one point, Hel and I had tuned into different DJs, when I felt an urgent tapping on my shoulder. It was Hel, who had worked out from the pace of my amazing dance moves (shush!), and absence of singing, that I was not listening to the same tune as her, a tune she knew I would not want to miss. Which probably means over the years I have bored her senseless about how much I love it.

This one:

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Electric Light Orchestra – Mr Blue Sky

I know of only one band to ever have attempted to recreate the majesty of that song, and to be fair, it’s from a Peel Session, a bold choice¬†and they don’t try that hard to completely recreate the majesty of that song.

They do, however, manage to make quite a good, albeit indie-schmindie, fist of it:

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The Delgados – Mr Blue Sky

Actually, I’ve not listened to their version for a while. S’rather fine.

Oh, and bonus points to them, of course, for being named after Roger Delgado, the actor who originally played The Master in Dr Who (Jon Pertwee era).

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club (That Summer Feeling #4 – #14)

Evening all.

Remarkably, the shockwaves of me posting summery records for three consecutive days doesn’t seem to have had any detrimental effect on the weather – in fact if we’re to believe the weather forecasts it’s set to continue for the rest of the weekend.

So, I thought I’d give you a few more tunes to soundtrack your barbecues and beach parties over the next couple of days. Nothing terribly surprising in here, I don’t think, bar maybe one or two. But every one is an absolute pearler,

The first couple of songs pretty much sum up how my¬†week working in That London has been. Here’s Sir William Broad, under his alter ego, the King of the Curled Lip:

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326. Billy Idol – Hot In The City

and this, one of the greatest summer records ever, in my not so humble opinion:

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327. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City

I first came into ownership of both of these records at roughly the same time, when I was at 6th Form, where I took on the responsibility of providing tunes for the common room. There was a cheap and knackered old stereo in there, a turntable with a worn down belt that prohibited anything being played at the correct speed, and a radio that the aerial had long since perished on, and two tape decks, only one of which worked.

As you’ll find out soon – this is my definition of soon, mind – in the eponymous auto-biographical thread of this blog, it was at 6th Form that I forged my musical identity, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious, and I took great pleasure in preparing a new mixtape pretty much every night to grace the airs of the musty common room. My parents will¬†doubtless recall me spending every night hunched over my Dad’s recently acquired Midi system, headphones on, studiously selecting a new set of tracks to dazzle my peers with instead of, say, doing my homework. It was these tapes, finely honed to ensure every taste was catered for, that I think laid the foundations for me starting to DJ a few years later – not the technical skills, mind, I’ve never got the hang of “proper” mixing – but the ability to tailor a set to an¬†expectant, diverse¬†crowd.

By the time the first summer arrived, at the end of my stint in the Lower 6th, I was, I felt, a fully fledged Indie kid, but didn’t want to be one of those people who forces their music down everyone’s throats, so I elected to temper the cool stuff with some more mainstream records. I would ask that you bear this in mind for coming posts, as this will be my¬†defence for having purchased some pretty poor pop in the same period. It wasn’t for me, it was for those other kids who, y’know, wouldn’t know a¬†cool record if it bit them on the arse.

As part of this campaign, I bought a Now! album – the only one I have ever purchased – Now! That’s What I Call Summer. It’s a mixed bag, as you’d expect, with Cliff Richard a little more prominent than is frankly necessary.

But there were an above¬†average strike rate of good stuff on there too, and “Summer in the City” was chief among them, head and shoulders above many of the tracks featured.

In June 2000, fresh from picking up the Best New Act Award a year earlier at the Brits, through some pretty canny exploitation of voting via that there¬†new-fangled internet thing, Belle & Sebastian released this absolute corker, which, if you’re unfamiliar with, may have you scratching your head as to why I’m including it in a summer mix. Well hold your horses, and give it until the lyrical refrain at the end:

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328. Belle & Sebastian – Legal Man

Now, I may find myself saying this a lot tonight and over the summer posts that will follow over the weekend, but this is one my favourite summer songs ever:

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329. The Undertones – Here Comes the Summer

The song has recently been used in a TV ad campaign by Aldi, and I can’t make up my mind whether that’s a good thing or not. Sure, it means that every now and then I get to hear it blasting from my TV for 40 seconds, but on the other hand – Aldi????? Is nothing sacred?? Whatever next – The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” being used to advertise Pirelli tyres? “Tame” by Pixies advertising Smirnoff vodka? Oh wait….both those things have happened…..

So, anyway,¬†if you’re lucky, you’ll be spending some time soon on a beach somewhere, so here’s a few beachy heads which sound just as ace today as they did when they first came out, none of which require any introduction or comment from me:

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330. Ramones – Rockaway Beach

(I’m gobsmacked. Unless I forgot to tag them previously, this is the first time I’ve posted¬†a Ramones tune. I deserve to have my blogging credentials revoked.)

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331. The Go-Go’s – Beatnik Beach

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332. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach

Another one that featured on that Now! album, there. See, ¬£4.99 well spent already (which dates me, obviously. A newly released double album on vinyl for ¬£4.99 – them’s were the days…)

I was about to say “Now,onto something more contemporary”, which would be true, since the most recent tune I’ve posted so far came out¬†sixteen years ago, but I was saddened to find this came out ten years ago. Saddened only in the sense that it means it’s ten years since I witnessed bass player Thomas “The House of Lords” Dartnall fall off the stage in Cardiff’s Barfly. *Sighs* “I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.” (Bit of Prufrock¬†for you there, poetry¬†fans).

Still, it carries on thematically from Legal Man and Echo Beach in depicting a protagonist desperate to escape the drudge of an office job to enjoy some time soaking up the rays (NB: My boss should read nothing into this):

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333. The Young Knives – Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer)

“Hot summer, what a bummer”, indeed.

The next two songs were released ten years apart, but in my mind the latter is the spiritual offspring of the former.

First, here’s Damon and the Blurboys with their observations on the beery shag-culture of holidays in Greece:

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334. Blur – Girls & Boys

…and here’s Mike Skinner, living the dream:

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335. The Streets – Fit But You Know It (Radio Edit)

And so to the last tune for the night, and to one my favourite summer songs ever, by one of the coolest and most influential artists ever to walk this earth:

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336. Sly & The Family Stone – Hot Fun in the Summertime

That’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.

That Summer Feeling #3

The keener eyed amongst you may have spotted a comment from Heledd the other day after I had post the titular track from this summery thread of songs.

That’s the same Heledd who I’ve known for approaching 20 years now, and who I shared a flat with when I first moved to London. Amongst other things in that time, she’s been my drinking partner, my clubbing partner, my confidante (and I hers), my DJ’ing partner, and much, much more.

Of “That Summer Feeling” she said this:

“Well it‚Äôs between this and Summertime by Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince as the greatest song with Summer in the title. And I mean that with no irony.”

She really doesn’t.

Now, if you think I’m going to let Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince grace these pages, then you’re sadly misguided. One of you will have to come up with an acceptable¬†reason for me to post it in The Chain (yes, alright, it’s coming already!). And knowing how you like a challenge, I bet one of you does.

No, instead I’m mentioning this in a way for me to tenuously crowbar todays’ song in.

For were I ever to be asked to name my favourite two songs about lobsters, this would be number one:

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The B-52’s – Rock Lobster

And if I ever manage to track down a digital copy of my other favourite song about lobsters, you’ll be the first to know.

More soon.

That Summer Feeling #2

I have a playlist on my iPod of summer records. Every time I wake up, open my curtains and see the sunshine, the playlist gets popped on as I head to work.

Inevitably, by the end of the day the storm clouds have gathered, and I’ve got drenched when¬†I popped out¬†to Boots at lunchtime¬†to pick up my meal deal and flirt with the lovely wobbly randy old ladies on the till.

Equally inevitably, this will be the first song I play on such days, a perfect way to start a sunny one, without being as try-hard inspirational as that bloody song by Elbow about throwing open your curtains and having a wonderful day.

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Super Furry Animals – Hello Sunshine

Any song which contains the lines:

“I’m a minger, you’re a minger too

So come on minger, I want to ming with you”

is a) wonderful, and b) probably written but someone sitting in my sweaty vicinity at work in the last couple of days.

And I’m not trying to jinx the weather. Honest.

More soon.