Late Night Stargazing

I’ve watched some stuff while I’ve been resting.

One of the things what I watched was Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

Here’s the plot: thrown together Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, your archetypal odd couple, who, faced with the impending apocalypse, go on a road trip together, the aim being to reconnect with important people from their past. Carell: an ex-girlfriend, Knightley: her family.

Knightley plays the cookie, vinyl junkie, who, when walking out on her boyfriend takes an armful of records with her.

The reason I mention this is because right here this is quite impressive attention to detail.

There’s a scene where Carell is alone in Knightley’s apartment, and he flicks through her vinyl collection.

Tonight’s record isn’t played, but you get a glimpse of it, and you (by which I mean me) find yourself nodding and agreeing that it’s exactly the sort of record that Knightley’s character would have owned, and you tip your hat to the researcher you insisted it was placed there. No songs from it feature on the soundtrack, it’s just there as an endorsement of the persona of its owner, left without comment for nerds like me to notice.

And notice I did, so here we are.

The album in question is The Magnetic Fields’ three disc opus 69 Love Songs, and this is probably my favourite song on it:

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The Magnetic Fields – I Don’t Believe in the Sun

If Nick Cave had sung this. we’d be tripping over ourselves to proclaim this, and the record as a whole, as genius. Which it is anyway. A must-own: go buy it if you don’t already have a copy.

More soon.

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Saturday Night Coming Up

I don’t really know how this story came to be.

There’s a back story which may shed some light.

When I lived and worked in Cardiff, a select few (blokes) were invited to a Tequila Night.

The venue for this was the upstairs VIP area in the Cuba bar, which was fairly close to our office.

Here’s what I remember happening there: we did a lot of tequila slammers.

Here’s the next thing I remember: me, and two others (who shall remain nameless for legal reasons) decided to go Evolution down at Cardiff Bay.

Evolution was a glossy, shiny club, the sort of place I would normally avoid.

Drunk and swaying from the tequila intake, we somehow managed to gain access, at which point one of my colleagues and I headed to the Gents, partly because we needed to do what one does in there, but partly because that was where we knew the deals went on.

And sure enough, we scored some pills, which we quickly scoffed and went out to try and find our third brethren member.

But our search was cut short, as my old buddy suddenly announced he needed to return to the gents.

And right here is where I place my usual disclaimer: yes, these stories involve the taking of drugs, but no: I would neither recommend nor condone anyone else doing it.

Because here’s the thing: if you’re stupid enough to buy drugs from a random stranger in the toilets of a nightclub – as I did on many occasions – you have no idea what you’re buying, or what it has been cut with. This is not a situation I would recommend to any one.

You see, as well as all of the touchy-feely, loved up euphoric feelings you get when taking ecstacy, there’s also a loosening up of your body that takes place, a relaxation of your muscles, if you will.

So when you neck a pill which has been cut with a laxative, as we did unwittingly that night, the rush to the toilets can suddenly becomes the most important rush you ever had.

And so my buddy suddenly disappeared from my side, heading for a cubicle he hoped wouldn’t resemble the one in Trainspotting.

I’ve subsequently referred to this as The Come Up Shits. My friend denies it’s a thing, because it happened to him. But I’ve been in many a club toilet where someone has run in, already unbuttoning, hand pressed outside of jeans but between cheeks, desperate in the hope that there’s a vacant cubicle for them to vacate in.

As I waited – it seemed like for hours – I found our third compadre. He was laying down on the edge of the dancefloor, having a tequila-enduced snooze. Like you do.

And as I waited, this record was played. And in my head now, whenever I hear this record, three words pop into my head: Come Up Shits.

Which should not detract from the fact that it’s a quite wonderful record:

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Roger Sanchez – Another Chance

I managed to clench, thanks for asking.

More soon. Less lavatorial, hopefully.

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:

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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.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #10

The thing about not posting stuff for a while, is that you – by which I mean me – start to investigate the various playlists you – by which I mean me – have made on your iPod, and are reminded of the many series I’ve started then either forgotten about or got bored with.

So it was with today’s post, sort of. A tune came on my iPod which I figured was ripe for this series, and then when I checked I found I’d not posted anything in this series since September 2017.

Ooopsies!

This should have been an absolute shoo-in, and would have featured long ago were it not for the fact that it’s title is annoyingly close to The Divine Comedy tune I previously posted.

Mention Juliana Hatfield to most people – and I fully expect to be corrected here – and most people will think of her backing vocal work with the Lemonheads, especially on their utterly brilliant It’s A Shame About Ray album. Sure, she’s had some success solo, and as part of Blake’s Babies, but it’s here that I always think of her.

She appeared less frequently on the follow up album, Come on Feel…, but blimey when she does (and please don’t confuse her with Belinda Carlisle’s appearance) she lights the place up.

This is from her early 90s solo period, lifted from her Hey Babe album, which I can heartily recommend. I think I first heard it on a compilation CD I borrowed from the local library, and I probably borrowed it because she was on it.

It’s a song that has stayed with me ever since, upbeat yet sad, exactly how I love my records to be (generally).

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Juliana Hatfield – Everybody Loves Me But You

More soon.

No, really. I’m kind of planning to go reinvigorate all of the series that I’ve started and then dropped, including one which was interactive and way more popular than I had ever thought it could be…Check your emails, in case there’s one nestling there from me begging for help with a tune (looks sternly at one Chain Ganger he has emailed but who hasn’t replied…)

Oh no! I’ve said too much.

More soon (again)

I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

The other day I watched Johnny Owen’s excellent documentary about the history-making Nottingham Forest team that won back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980, led by the Brian Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor.

I remember watching the first European Cup final against Malmo (it was probably one of the first football matches I ever watched on TV) and specifically, this goal by Trevor Francis, the first ever £1 million player:

The documentary is called I Believe In Miracles, and this morning’s song features heavily:

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The Jackson Sisters – I Believe in Miracles

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

If I were to list the honours bestowed on this morning’s Country act, I imagine that (like me) few of you will know who I mean.

He is an inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, the United States’ highest honour in the folk and traditional arts.

But if we did it the other way round and said: “Who is Mac Wiseman?” then  I suspect most will shrug their shoulders (not you, George, put your hand down).

This is Mac Wiseman, still recording at the grand old age of 92 (or ’92 years of age’, as football commentators seem compelled to say when describing someone’s age, like that makes them sound more articulate than saying ’92 years old’):

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Mac Wiseman – Somewhere Bound

More soon.