So much for my “no more themed mixes” rule – you didn’t really expect I’d be able to resist doing one for Halloween, did you?
See, there’s so many Halloweur/scary/monsters linked songs (and there’s a clue right there as to the identity o)f one that features this week), I could have made this one at least three times as long, had I been so inclined. But I managed to resist temptaion, and kept it to (just over) an hour – the trimmed ones can make their appearances next year. Or the year after. Or the year after that.
Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Halloween. The only good thing about it, as far as I can see, is that I can legitimately keep my curtains closed and refuse to answer the door all weekend.
Anyway, here we go with what I hope is not an entirely predictable mix for you all to enjoy whilst stuffing your faces full of the candy you decided not to give to Trick or Treaters, or whilst you’re cleaning the smashed eggs off your front door having ignored them.
I’d recommend turning the lights off, drawing the curtains, lighting some candles and turning it up loud:
And here’s your track-listing and sleeve notes. Look away now if you like surprises!
John Murphy – In The House – In A Heartbeat
Or, the super spooky music from one of the best British horror movies from the last 20 years: Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. It beautifully encaspulates the peace and silence which pre-empts all the blood and gore and zombies in a loudQUIETloud kinda way. I don’t profess to be an expert of either band, but it does make me think of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
In case you’ve never seen it, a) what on earth have you been doing? and b) here’s the trailer, which includes some of those iconic deserted London scenes which were breath-taking at the time (and still are):
The thing I love most about 28 Days Later is that for the first 2/3 of the film, you think it’s just another zombie movie, albeit majesticaly and creatively filmed. But when the last 1/3 kicks in, you realise that’s not what the film is about at all,,,
2. Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
From John to Pete Murphy. I could have filled this mix with goth classics, but in the end plumped for just the one. And if I’m lucky, I’ll have squeezed this in just before SWC completes his wonderfully entertaining countdown of the Top 20 Goth records over at No Badger Required and, since it hasn’t featured yet, I assume crowns this as #1.
This is as intense and moody as hell, slowly building from the intricate drum patterns which sound like flapping bats’ wings, through to the booming darkness of the lyrics: it’s one heck of a record.
Mr Lugosi was unavailable for comment. Because he’s dead.
3. David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
From the album with the same name, the first after his notoriously influential, but commercially unsuccesful, Berlin trilogy. Apparently, this return to a more commerical sound (!) was inspired by his loathing of Gary Numan, who was viewed as a Bowie rip-off.
4. The Automatic – Monster
A remix of this almost appeared in a recent Friday Night mix, but got dropped at the last minute. Which is lucky, because it’s ideal for this one.
I’ve never actually read an interview with this Cardiff based band to confirm it – Wiki says the lyrics were “…a metaphor for the monster that comes out when people are intoxicated…” – but I definitely heard that it was about when all the boys from the Valleys would descend on the capital city of a Saturday night and cause absolute mayhem.
5. Peaches – Trick or Treat
Extraordinarily for a record by Peaches, I don’t think this contains any actual swears. Sure, there’s innuendo a-plenty – at least that’s what I assume her mention of never going to bed without a piece of raw meat is, anyway. Probably best I slap one of these on it anyway, to be on the safe side:
6. Radiohead – Bodysnatchers
Included for two reasons: i) when I was a kid, the movie Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (the remake, with Donald Sutherland) absolutely scared the crap out of me, and ii) because it’s one of the many tunes where Thom Yorke sounds in tortured pain, which seems appropriate somehow.
7. Miley Cyrus – I Get So Scared
If you’ve not yet succumbed to the charms of Miss Cyrus, then may I direct you to the album this is lifted from, Мiley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, described in various quarters as experimental, psychedelic, psychedelic pop and space pop, which will come as less of a surprise when you learn that Wayne Coyne and the boys from The Flaming Lips were massive influences on the creative process and feature on the record too. Seriously: check it out. It absolutely changed my perception of her.
Anyway, there’s no need to be scared, Miley; here’s….
8. Bobby ”Boris” Picket & The Crypt Kickers – Monster Mash
Predictable? You betcha. It’s still great though, 50 years since it was first released.
9. Bloc Party – Hunting for Witches
I don’t have much to say about this one, other than it’s obvious why it’s here and it sounds like…well, like Bloc Party.
Actually, I would say that hunting for witches sounds like a very bad idea indeed. I mean, what are you going to do if you catch one? End up in a disappointing sitcom?
10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Burn The Witch
Ah yes, that’s always an option, I guess.
11. Spinnerette – All Babes Are Wolves
The placing of this, by the former Mrs Josh Homme, is entirely coincidental. Honest. It does provide a rather nice segue into tunes about wolves, mind. Plus, it’s a terrific record, in a quite-a-bit-like-Hole kinda way; a record which was largely and unjustly mostly overlooked when it was released in 2009 and deserves to be revisited.
12. TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me
Neil! Neil! I remembered it all by myself!
13. Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon
Another from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile.
Included for two reasons: i) I don’t think, and I’m open to correction, any other single to make the UK chart has the word spewing in it; I’m certain no others have He finds his heaven spewing from the mouth of hell, and ii) these are preceded by perhaps the most ludicrously misplaced Ooh yeah baby! ever committed to vinyl.
Genius, in a bat-biting, ant-snorting kind of way.
14. Super Furry Animals – Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon
Time for a breather before the glorious finale, and it seemed appropriate to follow up a record where the lead singer dressed up as a werewolf (a furry animal, no less) on the cover of Bark at the Moon, with a song by the Super Furry Animals, who aren’t adverse to dressing up as big furry animals themselves, singing about how we should just let Ozzy get on with it. Sort of.
15. Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
Not just the last record from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile, but the last record in this mix.
And I need say no more about it than this: magnificent.
And we’re back! Back! BACK!! (obligatory Smash Hits reference for you there.)
Here we go with another dose of interactive blogging; you all know how this works by now, so we’ll crack straight on.
Last…erm…time, we left you with “C30 C60 C90” by Bow Wow Wow and the usual plea for your suggestions for songs that can be linked to that tune.
Younger readers may not know what the C30 etc in that title stands for, so allow me to explain in a slightly patronising tone.
Many years ago, music as we know it today did not exist. MP3s was the name of a robot from Star Wars (probably); the term “streaming” meant that water, or some other liquid, was flooding out of something.
Back in those dark days, us old timers listened to music via the radio, (sometimes referred to as the wireless, but let’s not go there or things will get really complicated), or cassette tapes. These could either be purchased pre-recorded, or blank, onto which we would record the vinyl records (some naughty people recorded songs from the radio, which is definitely not okay, as we will find out), and these cassette tapes were then played on cassette players or, later, on portable devices called a Walkman. The length of the blank tape varied, and the 30 signified you could record thirty minutes of music onto it, the 60 held sixty minutes, and so on.
I mention all of this to save any puzzled looks when we start going through the suggestions, for many of them refer to that medium of music presentation.
“C30 C60 C90 refers to taped music [okay, you’ve put that a lot more succinctly than I just did…] – you can tape to tape and in days gone by this would be in the form to reel to reel tapes. So Reel to Reel by Simple Minds from when they were good please.”
“From when they were good”, eh? Well, that certainly narrows things down quite a bit:
That Mad Stuntman, he really was quite mad, wasn’t he? Textbook lunacy, there. Lovely stuff.
Over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense who ventures: “Can I get away with 3 suggestions in one comment?” You can, but I will of course break them up into three separate suggestions and post them all out of sequence and context.
“1) C30, C60, C90 – all variants of the most portable music delivery method [Can you all stop putting that more succinctly than I did please?] Now all you need is something to play them on whilst on the move. Aah .. the Walkman – which leads (in my mind) to a roller-skating Cliff Richard in the video for Wired For Sound.”
It’s the stuff of dreams, if you’ve eaten far too much cheese before bedtime, that video:
That bit when he’s driving…does it remind you of anyone….?
May not make the midnight deadline now, as I have literally just watched that about ten times.
Anyway here, for anyone who may want to listen to it and be reminded of all that lycra again, is the single:
“I remember well dancing to Go Wild In The Country by Bow Wow Wow back in the day (Mr WIAA,A?’s predecessor and I used to do a bit of show-dancing to that one) but another song about being In The Country (but not being wild) was by Sir Cliff & The Shadows back in 1966. Sir Cliff is also a great tennis fan and although this is tenuous, Annabel Croft was our British female no. 1 for a while and the lead singer with Bow Wow Wow was also called Annabel(la) so a double link.”
They’re a band that have managed to pretty much pass me by, are Tapes ‘n Tapes. I remember reading about them, but never actually hearing anything by them. I think I was put off by the missing apostrophe from the other side of ‘n. Time for me to investigate some more, I think.
“C30, C60 & C90 were all commercially available cassette tape lengths [Ahem…! What did I just say….?] (as was C120, but who used those?) [Erm….] and the Bow Wow Wow song in question was the first ever cassette single. Pete Murphy of Bauhaus famously appeared in a TV advert for Maxell cassette tapes, so I’ll go for ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’”
Brace yourself now, as we are about to step into the nerdy world of which cassette tape was our weapon of choice back in the day. Welcome back, Alyson:
“The tapes of choice for me were usually made by Philips which was a Dutch company and 2 Unlimited were Dutch…… Oh no, did that link last week time.
Include another L in Philips and you have the surname of half of the members of The Mamas & the Papas and I don’t know about you but “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day, I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A., California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.” Yes it’s a bit of California Dreamin’ from me.”
And here’s Dirk from Sexyloser to chuck his thoughts on the matter in:
“For me it always had to be BASF cassettes, they really were the best. Although, somehow, they smelled rather disgusting, strangely enough ….”
They say the olfactory sense is the most powerful in terms of invoking childhood memories, so let’s see what that little sniff and scratch session has brought back to Dirk’s mind:
“I was thinking about other famous people with a nice mohawk (‘cos that’s what always impressed me mightily when looking at Annabella [of Bow Wow Wow] back then … that and her figure, of course … I always thought she was smoking hot! Still admire her today, to be brutally honest! Perhaps I should be careful these days when saying such things, bearing in mind she was only 13 or 14 when the first singles came out, and I don’t want to end up being the one with the paedophiliac stamp in future posts of The Chain! Then again she’s two years older than me, but does this fact legalize my continiuing adoration? Interesting subject, once you think about it …”
You do realise you’re talking out loud, don’t you Dirk? Reign it in, old chap.
But before you do, here’s Martin to add a little background to Dirk’s ramblings:
“Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow was famously photographed for the album sleeve art with not too many clothes on, despite being a minor. Cue tabloid frenzy and a visit from Scotland Yard for Malcolm McLaren. And on that basis, I’ll make my suggestion, an ode to being sure she’s old enough…”
Back to Dirk, who hopefully has had time to have a cold shower. Dirk, fancy picking up where you left off, and maybe coming up with something which not only links to the subject record, but also to Martin’s suggestion?
“Famous people with a mohawk are Mr. T out of the A-Team of course, but also Robert de Niro as Travis Bickle in ‘Taxi Driver’, which gives me a fine opportunity to annoy George (again) and link to The Clash and ‘Red Angel Dragnet’ [because it features several lines of dialogue lifted from the film]“
Back to SWC now, with his second choice, and his second choice by someone who has passed me by, mostly because I’ve always viewed him as a Billy Bragg wannabe, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we’ve already got one Billy Bragg, so…
Anyway, having listened to this, I may have to reassess.
We’re almost at the end of the Tape links, here’s Dirk with one more, no build-up, no pre-amble, just introduced by the words: “Clever, eh? But this happens when you remember every old shit no-one else knew all along!):
“One of the best uses of tape in a promo video was of course in “America What Time Is Love?” By The KLF.”
It took me ages to work out what he meant. See if you can spot the reference:
Jules will be back shortly with some actual suggestions. Some of which I may even allow.
I haven’t suggested anything for a while. Feeling a bit left out actually. So how about I wrap up the Tape section with one of mine?
Every now and then, post The Chain, I get an email from George, telling me how much he loves a song that I’ve posted. They are always the songs that I least expect him to like, which is a mark of the man. George, I mention this because, going off some of the previous ones you’ve told me you enjoyed, you’ll love this, if you don’t know it already (though I would imagine you do).
Tidying off the tape section with another Reel song, here’s The Chemical Brothers:
Oh and George: next time you email me, there’s no need to attach the video clip of you dancing round your kitchen. But if you must, please can you be wearing some trousers next time? Or at least some underwear. Thank you.
Okay, before we move on to the next batch of links, a couple of random ones. First up, is Alex G from We Will Have Salad:
“Let’s play Chain Letters! Take Bow Wow Wow, change a letter, and you get Bow Wow Now, which is a song by Dubstar”
Quite a short game, really, that, wasn’t it? I suggest you work on a second draft before submitting it to one of the major TV channels. Although, stick the word ‘Celebrity’ at the start of it, and Channel 5 would probably be interested in it right now:
One of the other recurring themes that came up after last week’s time’s source record, was home taping, the hobby/habit/thriftiness/call it what you will that so many of us of a certain age indulged in in our youth, sitting hunched and “hovering over the Pause & Record buttons on your knackered old tape recorder when the Top 40 was on a Sunday evening…cursing when you accidentally taped even the briefest snippet of Bruno Brookes…” as I once described it elsewhere on these pages.
This was known as piracy, which led two of the Chain Gang to come up with suggestions.
“One thing immediately comes to mind, and it’s a double-linker! C30, C60, C90 Go! was a song about taping music off the radio – music piracy. The pirate skull and crossbones flag was called the Jolly Roger. Bow Wow Wow consisted of ex-members of Adam And The Ants, also formerly managed by McLaren. Adam banded together a new bunch of Ants and modelled himself as some kind of glam-punk pirate, recording a song called ‘Jolly Roger’ on the album ‘Kings of The Wild Frontier’.”
And then came The Great Gog, who I am used to receiving a suggestion from at around 3am the morning after I post The Chain. This time, he has a rather unique way of coming up with a suggestion:
“Like Robster, I started thinking of piracy, in particular the old cassette and crossbones logo that used to adorn many an album cover back in the early eighties. “Home Taping Is Killing Music – And It’s Illegal”, that one. This set me wondering how quickly I’d find one of these if I were to randomly pull out a few records from my vinyl collection. Around a minute or so as it turned out. The Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut LP was the album in question. Did any particular track lend itself to The Chain? Well, much home taping was done from the good old wireless, so a case could be made for “Blacks/Radio”. Of course, I’m now wide awake listening to said album through headphones when I should be sleeping like the more sensible members of my family…”
Mention of the ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ campaign reminded me of this alternate logo, which always made me chuckle, and which at least one other blogger used to use on their website. Can’t remember who, suspect it may have been Dirk, but wouldn’t want to swear to it:
I had that made up into a couple of t-shirts (for myself), so I probably owe somebody something for that blatant copyright breach. Ah well. Join the queue.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Home Taping is Killing Music thing. Here’s Rigid Digit with the second of his suggestions:
“2) Fuelling the Home Taping Is Killing Music campaign, the cassette single of C30, C60, C90 … Go had a blank side – this also led to the band parting company with EMI. The logo was used in the back of Venom’s Black Metal album with the words ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music… So are Venom’…Venom have a place in my ears, but if I’m honest, they really aren’t that great…”
Don’t start backing down before we’ve even played it, Rigid!
So, here’s some words I never thought I’d type. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Venom:
It won’t have escaped your attention that musically that’s based on this:
My two favourite bits on that song are when Cyndi Lauper comes on and kicks some ass (vocally), and (long term readers and friends, forgive me for making this joke yet again), the bit where Bob Dylan does his impression of Cartman from South Park.
But I digress, yet again.
Having allowed Rigid’s three suggestions to appear almost uninterrupted and in sequence, I’m going to break with tradition and allow the same thing to happen with babylotti’s.
But first, round our way, whenever someone name drops, we tend to shout the word “Clang!” It is often bawled at me when I start regaling people with stories of all the bands and comedians, some on the way up, some on the way down, some going absolutely no further, that I worked with, albeit usually only for one night, back at the end of the 1980s/start of the 1990s. I mention this now, apropos of nothing.
Over to you, babylotti:
“Being from Coventry the thought of bootleg tapes immediately brings to mind my first serious music love, Ska. Or Two Tone Ska as it’s become known as. So my first suggestion is Gangsters by The Specials with the line ‘Why must you record all my phone calls…’ [I’ve had the privilege of playing as drummer with several members of the band since]…”
“…My next suggestion is staying with the same scene & to suggest The Selecter & On my radio, the 1991 version is better IMO. And I’m proud to say I actually deputised as their keyboard player for one gig, a very happy moment!”
To the dogs! And one from me, from an album that I’ve had for a while, but never really given it much of a chance; not sure why, probably partly because I’d not been fussed about their last one, partly because with Hooky gone I didn’t think they’d sound anywhere near as good, despite the decent reviews the album got.
But then the other night, the Iggy Pop growled his way out of my speakers on a tune I didn’t recognise. This one:
When we were kids, although I have no recollection of my brother going to stay in Germany (and I know I definitely didn’t, I tend to remember that kind of stuff), we played host for a couple of weeks to a German exchange student by the name of Ralph. And of course, part of the task of having a foreign exchange student is to teach them about the British way of life, sample our culture, teach a little history even.
It was only years later that it occurred to me that perhaps there were less inappropriate, more tactful places of interest that we could have taken a young German lad, away from his family for the first time, than the Duxford Imperial War Museum, which has, amongst many other things, a permanent Battle of Britain exhibition.
Second Ralph story isn’t really a story, but everyone who knows me knows that having featured a song by Ralph McTell, I simply cannot resist posting this:
Over to Jules, again, who is now in full on pun mood:
“Been feeling a bit ruff lately so I thought I was barking up the wrong tree with the cassette link until I did my sums
I don’t know if this particular story crossed your radar a couple of years ago, but it’s a prime example of why television interviewers, like barristers, should never ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. Especially when you’re interviewing a Welsh farmer who has recently met Mr Dogg, and who drops da bomb at around 01:18 on this clip:
Here’s Jules with…a less successful suggestion:
“Oh! As mentioned many times Bow Wow Wow lead’s to dogs which are canine….. Sounds like K9 to me the robot dog in Dr Who
Put all the ingredients [including the earlier KLF reference] into the blender and simmer for a while and one gets
The Timelords’ ‘Doctorin’ The House’.”
Apologies Jules, but I can’t allow that one as it’s featured on The Chain before (The Chain #28, to be precise, before you started frequenting these pages, I think), and is therefore now off limits.
When I get time, I’ll set up a page listing everything we’ve posted here so far. Might take me a little while as we’re fast approaching the 800 mark, mind, but it will happen sooner or later, as I do hate having to disqualify a perfectly good suggestion on these grounds.
So, we’ve done dogs, but what about dog noises?
“Bow Wow Wow is the noise a dog makes, as described by a child… who might describe said dog as a doggy… hence:
“Twee but terrible,” he continues, before going on to suggest what is unquestionably the Worst Record of The Week. “So how about the noise that dog makes? In which case, “Ruff Mix” by Wonderdog, in which sampled barks are used for lyrics?
“Fascinating (debatable) fact,” Martin adds, “the human voice of Wonderdog, in promo appearances, was none other than Simon Cowell in a dog suit – mindboggling and depressing in equal measure. Also twee but terrible.”
If only he’d stayed there, eh readers?
Two songs to go, and it’s at this point that I suddenly realise I haven’t sorted out the next song in The Official Chain which we’re all trying to either guess, or better. Bit of an oversight by me that.
I’ll leave you in Rol’s capable hands whilst I sort that out. Rol, it’s all yours, and try to pad it out a bit, will you?
“If you want a link that requires (a little) explanation, then…Bow Wow Wow is the sound of a dog barking, so…”
Before we have the final record, can I just say that all that up there that you’ve just read, that’s why I love doing this, and that’s why I don’t want to introduce any maximum suggestions per person. For where else would you hear Bauhaus, Snoop Dogg, The Pooh Sticks, Wonder Dog and King Crimson in the same post, other than here at The Chain?
Apart from on Charles Manson’s record player, of course.
So, to the official tune, and some of you got within a whisker of the link, if not the actual tune:
“C30/C60/C90 – types of cassettes. Cassettes were made by Dolby…”
So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link to Thomas Dolby’s “Hyperactive!”, along with your explanation on the links you propose.
And don’t forget, we’re moving to Sunday as of next post, so the next edition of The Chain will be with you the first weekend in February. Feel free to make your submissions as early as you like though.
Something different this week. A while ago, my older brother, who kindly follows the inane toss I splurge onto these pages, emailed me something he had written which he thought would be good to include here. I agreed, but told him it needed polishing. (There has to be some semblance of quality control, otherwise what I do would become devalued, reduced to the drunken ramblings of a man trying to justify his own self-being in the world of almost-modern pop culture. Which it obviously is.)
In other words, for one week only, I get to live out my Smash Hits fantasy and be “The Ed”.
What follows is the result.
If nothing else, you will note that being a facetious bastard runs in the family.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, a Freephone number will appear at the end. (No it won’t – The Ed)
So first: an apology. This is not being written by Jezbionic himself.
It has been hinted in the mainstream press that due to an overdose of artificial colourings mixed with imported vodka he was stuck in a Glastonbury based “Groundhog Day” and is currently sat explaining to Betty Ford why Super Furries really aren’t a figment of his drug fuelled imagination. Whether that’s true or not I can’t possibly comment, but I can tell you he has asked me, his older brother, to stand in for one blog only.
As such I need to make a very clear opening statement: this edition only contains one reference to Status Quo (the one you just read, which is required to get past the editorial censoring committee) (Tick! You’re in – Ed).If you only normally read this blog for three chord wonderment save yourself the time and stop reading now. Not to be judgemental or anything, but maybe the time saved would be well spent looking at some of your life choices? Just a thought.
The other point I need to make before I start is that I am in total agreement with Russell Brand, that although it would be very simple to use Google to check the facts as I write them, that would break my concentration and lead to me becoming a simple minded fool looking at cute videos of kittens and what not, so accept this as a stream of consciousness article and save any of your bile for when my ickle bruvva’s back next week.
My own musical beginnings were nothing out of the ordinary. I grew up in rural Cambridgeshire, with the normal early eighties hormonally challenged male obsessions with heavy metal: Purple, Zep and a little Sabbath. Your standard occultism stuff, nothing unusual, to that point.
A post ‘O’ levels summer spent picking blueberries in Michigan broadened my musical horizons somewhat, leading me to discover the Go-Gos (I only found out years later they scored cool points as mates with the Fun Boy Three, trading songs and what not), Rick Springfield (again, unknown to me at the time, as uncool as the Go-Gos were cool, a General Hospital soap actor turned manufactured pop star, but I still think Red Hot and Blue Love rocks) and Def Leppard (I make no excuses: when God cuts your drummers arm off to shut you up maybe you should just accept that you’re shite?)
But still, no real indication that music was in any way an important part of my life. Aged sixteen I joined Her Majesty’s esteemed Royal Air Force and began my ritual brainwashing, during which it was made abundantly clear to us that music was just something to keep time while you’re marching, and that white heterosexuality was the only acceptable human state. The fact that we all believed this without question, whilst moonwalking to Michael Jackson and PWAH!ing to Frankie Goes to Hollywood while we polished our shirts and ironed our socks at two in the morning ready for a dawn kit inspection is sign of just how good a job the brain washing did.
Within a year though, things had started to change. Come the end of the working week I would carefully remove my well formed beret, take off the boots (you could see your own reflection in the toecaps), and hang my immaculately ironed number two uniform in my solitary locker.
Once they were all removed I would start the rebirthing process: a little eyeliner here, maybe a dab of black nail polish there. Definitely hairspray, up to a can at a time.
ST-ST-ST-STUDIO LINE FROM L’OREAL, FIXING GEL:STRONG HOLD! *
Weekend uniform no less strict than the weekday one:
trousers, very black, very tight
blouse, old woman’s (Evans loyalty card monopolised): large, white, flouncy as possible
winkle pickers, black (obviously) pointy (obviously), as many buckles as possible (er…helloo…??)
wide brimmed black hat (optional, but hell yeah)
Like Clark Kent slipping into something more comfortable in a New York phone box, I had changed from a crab** to a Goth……
What, you may ask yourselves, could cause such a once in a lifetime change in such a short time?
Sometimes the smallest thing can change a life, the one snowball thrown at a mountain that starts a (Rose of) avalanche.***
My butterfly flapping its wings in the rainforest moment was a simple mix tape. Nothing more, nothing less, but it changed my life, for better or worse, forever.
You see, just because I took the Queen’s shilling at sixteen, not all my friends did. My mate Rob stayed in Cambridgeshire, seeking out all the great wonders of the world to be found at the sixth form in Stanground. (I am reliably informed by a pretty reliable source (i.e. Rob himself) that Rob didn’t go to Stanground, he went to 6th form at Orton Longueville, where all the cool kids went – Ed) That meant that through him I was only three steps removed form the PleasureHeads, of whom my only other recollection is an NME article which described the fact that the lead singer was seen removing a pair of leather trousers to change into his stage gear (more of them later – Ed). At the time I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I still struggle to think of anything cooler now, to be honest.
So Rob got a copy of a mix tape from a PleasureHead, and I got a copy from Rob. Simple as.
On that one C60 were the songs that I still hear in my head every day now:
…and who never did anything else again, because basically, once you reach the heady heights of the mixtape, what else is there to aim for?
From that one mixtape can be traced all the important things that happened to me for years to come: accidentally reverse crowdsurfing onto stage with the Soup Dragons (pre-“I’m Free”, when they were good and sounded like the Buzzcocks – Ed); having breakfast on more than one occasion with the drummer from Pop will Eat Itself (he was “friends” with my then girlfriend’s sister whenever they played in Aylesbury) (CLANG! – Ed); singing Republican anti-English songs at multiple Pogues gigs whenever Shane proved that the drunken Irishman act really wasn’t an act; right through to being one of only twelve people in the mosh pit at an early Oasis gig in Zeebrugge, while several thousand Belgian and Dutch had a nice schmoke and waited for Schimple Mindsch to come on, which led Liam to turn off all the amps half way through “I Am the Walrus” and stomp off stage in a huff (taking Helena Christiansen with him, which I can’t help thinking may have counted as an ulterior motive for not playing an encore)
Epilogue: I’m writing this whilst sat on a beach in Goa. I tell you this not to boast that I’m in Goa (I live in Bangalore, and to Bengalurians and Mumbaisters, Goa is just a short low cost flight away: think Marbella in the sub-continent. If you think Marbella is cool ask the Quo fans to scoot up, you need to spend some time considering your life choices). I say this merely because Goa is probably one of the least Goth influenced places on the planet, so you may think that Goth is something I once was, something I grew out of. Not so. There’s not a day that goes past without the voices in my head singing some eighties Leeds-influenced goth classic. Occasionally when it rains (and it’s currently mid-monsoon season, so it rains a lot, and I’m happy when it rains) I think of:
But on at least six days a week my internal soundtrack is of the rain, the rain, the LA rain, the sky is black and the sun don’t shine. There are 13 million people living in Bangalore, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe I’m the only one with that particular soundtrack to the city. I have the Rose of Avalanche, and Rob’s mix tape to thank for all of that.
And may you all live for a thousand years with the blessings of the Buddha upon you.
*If you recognise this as one of the adverts placed between the tracks on the first (and thankfully only) album by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, then well done, you win a place in the darkened room with the Quo fans to have a good long think about what you’ve achieved with your life. (That’s three pops now. I’m not inviting you round again – Ed)
**A Crab is a derogatory term in the UK Armed Forces for a member of the RAF, as supposedly we all marched sideways. My first draft of this had me changing from a caterpillar to a goth, which made less sense but pleased me in an “I am an egg man” kind of way. Feel free to self edit as you see fit, I don’t have any preciousness about this writing, once it’s on the page I don’t want it to feel trapped, I want it to continue to grow, like a semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower
***Originally this was the more Praustian explanation of throwing pebbles at a mountain to start a landslide, his Jezship the editor thought the Rose of Avalanche gag was worth including. I’ll let you, dear readers, make up your own simple minds, like elementary penguins, singing Hare Krishna. (Seriously, you should’ve read the first draft. Praustian my arse – Ed)