The Chain #36

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.

For example, first up, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“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:

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Simple Minds – Reel To Real

Reel to Real, you say? Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this lot:

r-47885-1282972620_jpegReel 2 Real feat. The Mad Stuntman – I Like To Move It

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:

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Cliff Richard – Wired For Sound

Just when you thought we might be all Cliffed out for this week, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“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.”

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Cliff Richard & The Shadows – In The Country

Quick! Someone suggest something slightly more credible!!

The Great Gog steps up to the oche.

“I suppose there’s also the very relevant “On Tape” by The Pooh Sticks.”

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The Pooh Sticks – On Tape

Over now to SWC from the very much still alive and kicking When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“I will be heading, like Charity Chic, down the tape route. I will start with the excellent ‘Freak Out’ by Tapes ‘n Tapes”

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Tapes ‘n Tapes – Freakout

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.

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“The Pooh Sticks were my first thought, but I knew I’d be beaten to that, so I offer the far more obscure…..”

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Dan Bern – Tape

And here’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“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’”

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Bauhaus – 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.”

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The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’

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…”

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Travis – U16 Girls

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]

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The Clash – Red Angel Dragnet

As is traditional, Rol picks up the mohawk baton (which, surprisingly isn’t a euphemism) and kind of runs with it, as far as this:

“Mohawks lead me to recall Pop Corn & The Mohawks – ‘Custer’s Last Man’.  Worth a spin if you can find it”

Ok..

Two minutes later, Rol posted this:

“P.S. Having listened to it all the way through again now… you must dig it out. It is utterly mental.”

Blimey, Rol, give us a chance!

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Pop Corn & The Mohawks – Custer’s Last Man

We seem to have got a little way away from the subject in hand. Anyone care to drag us back to the whole tape thing?

Oche vacated, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area

“Wild Billy Childish and the MBE’s ‘He’s Making a Tape’ (‘and it’s not for me’ she sings, Billy’s wife, Nurse Julie)”

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Wild Billy Childish and the MBEs – He’s Making A Tape

Continuing the tape theme, Martin’s back:

“Following the C30, C60, etc, into the land of mixtapes, how about ‘Press Play and Record” by Lois Maffeo?”

I could only find the same song credited to just Lois, so I’m hoping this is the song you had in mind:

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Lois – Press Play and Record

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.

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Frank Turner – Losing Days

SWC: two shots on target, two goals.

Go on, have another go.

“You could also go down the mixtape route which is regularly used by rappers taking us nicely to the odd future tape and ‘Slow it Down’ by Tyler, The Creator.”

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Tyler, The Creator Ft. Hodgy Beat – Slow It Down

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!):

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The Membranes – Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder

First appearance of the week now from Jules of Music from Magazines fame:

“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:

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The Chemical Brothers – The Private Psychedelic Reel

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:

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Dubstar – Bow Wow Now

And since we seem to have stumbled into the vague area, here’s the aforementioned George:

“From Bow Wow Wow, to violins (played with a bow) and to some prog rock, namely King Crimson and ‘Larks Tongues in Aspic Part 2’ , which has some violin-ing in a splendid racket of a song.”

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King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part Two

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.

First, here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“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’.”

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Adam & The Ants – Jolly Roger

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…”

And I suppose that’s my fault, is it…?

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The Psychedelic Furs – Blacks/Radio

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:

hometaping_remix

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:

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Venom – Black Metal

Now I know I mentioned in jest that I wouldn’t post Rigid’s three suggestions in order, but truth be told, they do pretty much work in that order, fair play. So, here’s his third:

“3) The 21st Century equivalent of home-taping is downloading, so no pre-ambling explanation: Weird Al Yankovic – ‘Don’t Download This Song’.”

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Weird Al Yankovic – Don’t Download This Song

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]…”

Clang!

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The Specials – Gangsters

“…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!”

CLANG!

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The Selecter – On My Radio (1991)

“…And lastly I’m going to link to Tom Robinson’s ‘Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio” for the radio link. And lets face it, we all used to tape stuff off the radio, didn’t we?”

CLA – oh. Sorry.

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Tom Robinson – Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio

Two more categories to go now until the big reveal, and unsurprisingly, we’re going to the dogs now. But before we do, a quickie from Jules:

“Songs with numbers in title, how about Culture’s ‘Two Sevens Clash’..?”

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Culture – Two Sevens Clash

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:

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New Order – Stray Dog

A change of pace now, and here’s Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything, or rather, Mrs Badger on his behalf, as he had much more important things to sort out at the time:

“Greetings from the mountains. Mrs Badger here.
Tim wishes to link to ‘Old Brown Dog’ by Ralph McTell.
He’d tell you himself but he’s at the bar getting me a mojito.”

I had to check twice to make sure she hadn’t put us all to shame by submitting that in the form of a haiku.

Here’s Ralph:

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Ralph McTell – Old Brown Dog

Two Ralph stories.

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.

Ooopsies.

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

30+60+90=180 degrees, a complete turn around

Of course the link is Bow Wow Wow

And what do you do with dogs (quiet at the back)?

Run with them”

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Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia

Of course, any mention of Dogs, and there’s one person who we just have to mention:

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Snoop Doggy Dogg –  Gin and Juice

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?

Here’s Martin:

“Bow Wow Wow is the noise a dog makes, as described by a child… who might describe said dog as a doggy… hence:

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Patti Page – (How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window?

“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?

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Wonder Dog – Ruff Mix

“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…”

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I, Ludicrous – Trevor Barker

“(Actually, that didn’t take much explaining at all, did it? Must try harder.)”

That’s it, is it mate? Cheers.

Okay, last one, and last one from me. Following on from that, here’s Underworld’s “Diamond Jigsaw”. The link? It’s from their album “Barking”. I thank you.

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Underworld – Diamond Jigsaw

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…”

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36. Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive!

Can’t really argue with that, can we?

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.

Thanks for your time.

More soon.

A Goth Steps From The Dry-Ice…

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:

birthday The Birthday Party – Release the Bats

The_Jesus_And_Mary_Chain_-_Upside_Down_(Single) The Jesus & Mary Chain – Upside Down

300px-Bodyelectric The Sisters of Mercy – Adrenochrome

Bauhaus_ziggy_stardust Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust (far better than the Bowie original, sorry David), and

P1010755_edited You Weren’t Born, You Were Created – by someone (The Playn Jayn – Ed) I don’t remember (You’re welcome – Ed) 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:

220px-Rain_cult The Cult – Rain or possibly

220px-Happy_When_It_Rains_(EP) The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”

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.

Footnote

*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)

The-Rose-Of-Avalanche-Velveteen-378341 The Rose of Avalanche – Velveteen

Helena, call us a cab, dear…..