Friday Night Music Club

For the past seven days, I have been picking out songs for this week’s Friday Night shenanigans, popping them into an order that felt right, and trying to think of something vaguely amusing to say about them.

But then on Thursday, I got some news which made me change this week’s theme entirely.

So, here are this week’s tunes; the tunes I intended to post this week would be next week, but I have next week’s planned already, so the original ones from this week won’t feature next week, but the week after that, unless anything happens in the next couple of weeks that makes this week’s get postponed for another week.

Everybody clear about that?

Ok, so this week’s theme is…well, let’s see if you can work it out. And please don’t write in, it’s just for fun. Nor is it particularly tricky.

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177. Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride

In case you were wondering, this is not the version used on the “Reservoir Dogs” soundtrack; that’s a cover version recorded by Nashville  group “Bedlam” who certainly sound scary, don’t they readers? I bet they have a “You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here, But It Helps!” sign on their studio wall.

By the way, have you ever noticed – and I do not claim to be the first person to have ever pointed this out – that the traditional depiction of a magic carpet, is not a carpet, but a rug?

Look:

Aladdin-and-Magic-Carpet

That’s a rug, that is. It’s got tassles on the corners!

Mind you, apart from the historical precedent that had been set,  I can see why Disney continued to refer to it as a carpet in their 1992 film Aladdin: too many references to rugs might have put Elton John off writing the songs for The Lion King.

Now who are these shifty looking chaps peeking out from behind some trees? It’s only blimming 60s rock pioneers and runners-up in the 1968 “World’s Worst Hide ‘n’ Seekers” Creedence Clearwater Revival, that’s who:

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178. Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Put a Spell on You

Have you got it yet? Okay, well let’s have another tune then. You’ll like this one. Not a lot, but you’ll like it. Here’s another load of hunks:

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179. Focus – Hocus Pocus

Yes, that was some proper yodelling you just heard there.

When I used to go clubbing, a mate of mine was into his progressive house music big time. At some point or another he heard the term “progressive rock” and was curious, so he asked me if I knew any bands he should check out. I mentioned “Yes” and “E.L.P.” which drew a blank look. Well, Dum Dum, if you’re reading this, that was prog 1970s style. I do hope you didn’t waste any money.

Moving on to 1982 now, and a song which I seem to remember used to get this 12 year old boy a little bit hot and bothered when the video came on Top of The Pops:

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180. The Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra

Looking at it now, I have no idea why:

I think it’s the line about “silk and satin, leather and lace, black panties with an angel’s face” that made me blush so. And if you think that’s rather lame, you should have seen the state I was in a year earlier when this was a hit:

Girls did not look like that in my class, that’s for sure. I might have turned up a bit more often if they had.

Anyway, I digress. The more astute of you will have noticed a magical theme through the songs so far, and that’s because here in the UK, 2016 claimed another celebrity from my childhood with the death of TV magician Paul Daniels.

When I was a kid in the late 1970s and early 1980s Daniels was everywhere: he had his own magic show on BBC1; hosted several game shows, and even had a children’s show called “Wizbit”.

It struck me recently, in a particularly dark moment, that one of the reasons so many popular entertainers from my youth have died recently is because I’m no spring chicken anymore either, and since they were generally about 30 years older than me back then…well, it’s hardly surprising. Yeh, I know, bleak, right?

Anyway, in his later, post-regular-TV-appearance years, Daniels became a bit of a figure of fun, a relic of those light entertainment shows from the period which had been banished from the TV listings by alternative comedy, by satellite and cable, by the mass media’s lustful craving for something a little saucier than he and the lovely Debbie Magee could ever produce. I always found that a little sad and distasteful, especially as he always seemed to take it all on the chin, and even play up to it to a degree. He’d made his fortune and got out while the going was good, what did he care?

But I come here not to bury him but to praise him. He always seemed a good egg to me (although it was pretty funny when he was hospitalised after Sooty hit him in the face with a pizza. True story. Shouldn’t laugh but…could an anecdote be any more 70s children’s entertainment?) and he was a genuine influence on my life, albeit briefly; I tried to take up magic in my youth, buying a pack of Paul Daniels Playing Cards and a book of card tricks, which I think I gave up on after a couple of weeks of realising I couldn’t even shuffle the bloody things properly.

So when the news of his death broke on Thursday, I was genuinely saddened and decided to dedicate tonight’s Music Club to him, and dig out a few tunes with a somewhat magical quality.

And here we are. Shall we continue?

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181. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic

Surely, somewhere, there must be a 60s-themed bistro called “The Lovin’ Spoonful”, right?

I’m absolutely gutted that I posted Super Furry Animals “God Show Me Magic” on here a couple of weeks ago, or that would be in this list. As it is, here’s a couple that I can’t really avoid posting:

akindofmagic

182. Queen – A Kind Of Magic

From one of their most commercially successful albums, which, coincidentally, was released the year after their iconic performance at Live Aid (I’m sure those two facts are in no way linked) this to my mind marked the end of Queen’s final purple patch. The next album, although yielding a Number One single in “Innuendo”, also saw them writing songs about being an Invisible Man (something it’s very hard to imagine Freddie Mercury ever being – and yes I know Roger Taylor penned that one, no need to tell me) and twatting about on top of steam trains at the Nene Valley Railway (near my childhood home) in the “Breakthru” video. Mind you, they probably had more pressing matters on their minds at the time…

Ok, here’s another one I can’t really avoid:

take-that-could-it-be-magic-1992

183. Take That – Could It Be Magic

Count yourself lucky I didn’t post the Barry Manilow version.

Time for a factoid: did you know Manilow nicked the chord progression for this from Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20? Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Maybe he didn’t write the songs that make the whole world sing after all.

One more blindingly obvious one:

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184. Pilot – Magic

What finer recommendation do you need for a song than that it was included on the soundtrack of “Happy Gilmore”? So I’m told, anyway. I wouldn’t know. Never seen it. Might be a very funny film, though I somewhat doubt it.

“Happy Gilmore” stars Adam Sandler, so I will never watch it. My default setting when it comes to Sandler is “Avoid”.

Though I have seen “The Wedding Singer”, but that had Billy Idol in it, which just about saved it.

Something a tad more contemporary now. From their third album “Bruiser”, and the main track  on their 2010 “Kusama EP”, the much under-rated:

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185. The Duke Spirit – Everybody’s Under Your Spell

That’s pretty bloody great, isn’t it? The greatest thing to come out of Cheltenham, easily surpassing “The Races” and the recent lower league footballers pissing into a pint glass and pouring it over a balcony controversy. Worst apology ever, by the way.

The Duke Spirit’s fourth album “Kin” is out in April, and I cannot wait. But I’ll have to. Stay with me til then, won’t you?

In 2007, frustrated by their record label’s decision to basically ignore their “Twilight of the Innocents” album, Ash started describing it as their “final album” and made it known that henceforth they would be eschewing the album format. This sparked many a rumour that the band was about to split; instead they began releasing a series of singles, a new one every fortnight between October 2009 until September 2010 on 7″ vinyl and digital download only. That’s 26 singles in total (take that, The Wedding Present, with your feeble 12 singles in one year!), one for each letter of the alphabet, hence the whole lot being released on two…erm…albums, pithily called “A- Z Series Volumes 1 & 2”.

This was the first, and watch out, it has one fuck of a bassline:

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186. Ash – Return of White Rabbit

Scooting along now:

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187. The Magic Numbers – Forever Lost

I was hoping to track down a clip of when they walked off Top of the Pops after host Richard Bacon introduced them as a band that had been put in a “fat melting pot of talent”, but apparently it was in the rehearsals so there is no footage. Ho hum.  Bacon is said to have tried to apologise and claimed he was referring to their status, not their appearance. Course you were, Richard. Course you were. And you only did the one line of coke too, right?

Next, a band who’ve never really made it big over here in the UK, which is a shame, for they made some really great power pop records in their time. This is from their 1977 album “In Color” (that’s not a typo, they’re American, that’s how they spell “colour”):

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188. Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me

As usual, I seem to have gone on a bit longer than I intended again, so just two more to go.

I was going to post Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s “Magician’s Assistant” but then I listened to it and remembered just how depressing it is, being about self-harm and suicide and all, so I decided against it. But the mere allusion (or should that be “illusion”? Ha, see what I did there?) to the lovely Debbie McGee allows me to post this classic TV moment:

And yes, that’s Peter Hook playing the walk-on music.

Hands up who want to hear Kelis? Very well. This is from her third album “Tasty”, the follow-up single to 2003’s “Milkshake”, when she was in full-on saucepot mode:

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189. Kelis – Trick Me

And if my recollection is correct, then chapeau to legendary pork-swordsman Jamie Theakston…

Finally, we go out where we came in:

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190. Mighty Dub Katz – Magic Carpet Ride

…who as I’m sure you know is actually Norman Cook in one of his many chart-busting guises.

And that’s yer lot, as they say.

Next Friday night I’ll be watching Underworld at The Roundhouse; it’ll be the first time I’ve ever managed to see them (quite how I’ve avoided them all these years is beyond me), so next week expect to see me trying to pretend I know something about dance music, other than tunes which I got out of my tree to back in my clubbing days.

Or to put it another way: More soon.

1983 Polished Off

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Back to 1983 it is then, which is where I left off talking about the records I bought as I was growing up.

I turned 14 in September 1983, and earlier that year, spurred on by my Quo obsession, and sick of either playing air-guitar or pretending to play a tennis racquet, I’d got my first two guitars; one an acoustic I’d persuaded my parents to buy me, the other a red electric Gibson Flying V copy (by which I mean cheap, £55.00 if memory serves me right) not unlike the one above. Mine, of course, did not bear the Gibson insignia, it was called something like Ribson or Gibton. Shortly afterwards, my great grandmother passed away (not from the shock of me buying such a ludicrously shaped electric guitar, I hasten to add), and she left me a modest amount of money in her will: enough to buy a Fender amp, which I considered was decent compensation for the sudden loss of the Crunchie bar she gave me every Saturday when we went to visit her.

And so I proceeded to attempt to learn to play the damned things. Soon I had those three chords learned (the Quo-umverate, as I believe they’re known), and started to look around for some new things to try and learn.

Around the same time, I had started going to the Dance, actually just a disco, which was held once a month in the hall of the secondary school I attended. These were open to the public, although it was predominantly attended by school kids, had a licensed bar which was manned by one teacher and a couple of civilians. The teacher was there solely to make sure none of the school kids got served.

Our task each month time was to try and get served at the bar, which meant queuing at the opposite end of the bar to the one the teacher was serving at. I got lucky here, for I didn’t have any lessons with the teacher in question (he taught Maths to the brainy kids, which counted me…er..right out), so he had no idea who I was and regularly served me, despite the fact I looked nowhere near 18. (I say I got lucky; what this invariably meant was that it was I who was sent to the bar by my mates who did have him as their teacher).

Apart from my missions to the bar, I was your typical adolescent wall-flower, spending the entire night sitting to the side of the dance-floor, only venturing on to head-bang (that’s right ladies, form an orderly queue!) when they played the same three rock songs they played every month: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC (by the way, isn’t that the least AC/DC audience you’ve ever seen…?), “Down Down” by Status Quo. That was generally enough, and I was ready to stop by the end of the third song, often believing I had felt my brain move inside my head and bash against the side of my skull. Which would explain a lot.

Occasionally, they would play a fourth one, usually “Layla” by Derek & The Dominoes, although not the long version. (A year or so earlier, we had been on a school holiday for a fortnight to the Butlins holiday camp in sunny Barry Island, South Wales. At a disco there, this was the only song my mates and I ventured onto the dance floor for, only to be told off by a redcoat for head-banging to it. Apparently such activity was banned. We sloped off in a strop to the cinema to watch Pete’s Dragon instead.)

Then one night, the DJ played a record I’d never heard before, and which, these days, is viewed as a cheesy party record. I was blissfully unaware of its reputation, loved it so much I went into town the next day and found myself a copy on 7″. I don’t think I’ve heard this for about 25 years or so, and gave it a spin for the first time in all those years when I was writing this. It’s nowhere near as bad as it’s commonly perceived to be, or as I remembered, for that matter. Judge for yourself:

jeff-beck-hi-ho-silver-lining-emielectrola-columbia Jeff Beck – Hi Ho Silver Lining

Soon this was added to my guitar repertoire. I decided that maybe learning some other older songs would serve me well – all the Teach Yourself to Play Guitar books I’d bought (anyone who has heard me play, will not be in the slightest bit surprised to learn I’m entirely self taught) were crammed with songs by The Beatles and The Stones and many, many more (as the adverts used to say) – and so I scouted around for some more.

Quite how I ended up buying the next single, is, therefore totally beyond me.

10cc – I’m Not In Love is not exactly a record known for being choc-a-bloc full of chunky guitar riffs for me to get my teeth into. But this was the next record to find it’s way onto my turntable, nonetheless. What it is known for is being is a wonderful study of a broken heart and of denial, which may well be why it struck a chord with this thirteen/fourteen year old who found himself utterly ignored by members of the opposite sex.

The other clue as to how it ended up in my possession is the label the copy I bought it on: Old Gold. Sadly, I can’t find any pictures of the actual copy on said label, but here’s one of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s “Fire” which might jog a few memories:

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Look familiar?

In the late 70s/early 80s, branches of Woolworths and W H Smiths had rack upon rack of these, and thinking about it, I suppose it was our version of finding songs on the internet. Need to find a certain record, but don’t want to shell out for a whole album? Then the song could be yours on Old Gold, for the price of a bus fare into town, followed by a good hour or so’s solid rummaging through the racks, and then the cost of the single itself (£1.99, I think).

Flicking through those racks of re-issued songs on the Old Gold label was my practice ground, where I learned the correct stance for vinyl perusal (legs apart, back bent, fingers working the top of each record, eyes focused on the disc label, for the sleeves themselves were uniform, and the exposed label was the only way to identity the song contained on the grooves within.)

The next record I bought was also on the Old Gold label, and I found out some years later that it was actually the UK’s Number One single on the day I was born. It was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”

The reason I bought this was down to one film, a film I still love to this day, and which as I write this I find myself suddenly filled with the urge to dig out my DVD copy of and give it another watch.

Yes, I’m talking ’bout “An American Werewolf in London”.

Now I could’ve sworn that “Bad Moon Rising” accompanied the first transformation scene in it, but I guess not: that honour goes to some song adopted by a football team whose supporters turn their back on the pitch when their team scores, just as I turned my back on them two years earlier.

You don’t need me to tell you that John Landis, who directed the movie, subsequently, and as a direct result, was hired to make possibly the most famous pop video in history: Thriller. (PS – assuming you get the same advert at the start, Now 91 looks shit, doesn’t it?)

You also don’t need me to tell you the other reason why “American Werewolf…”  had such a profound effect on this virginal thirteen year old. I give you two words: Jenny. Agutter.

When I was a younger man, the presence of Ms Agutter in the credits meant two things: firstly, it would probably (but not always) be a sign of quality; secondly, it would definitely have at least one scene I would get embarrassed watching in the presence of my parents. (see also: “Walkabout” and “Logan’s Run”, which I rather Freudianly mis-spelled as “Logan’s Rub” when I first wrote this part).

By the way, American Werewolf’s scene to make me blush in front of my parents but engage in a very different activity when alone with just me, the video recorder and the pause button, was accompanied by this.

Nowadays, of course, spotting Ms Agutter’s names in the credits means you’ve fallen asleep on the settee, dribbled all over the cushions but managed to dodge having to sit through “Call The Midwife” when visiting your parents. Oh, how the times have changed.

So: chords for two new songs learned. Next up was a single which was actually in the charts at the time. Featuring Maggie Reilly, who I had always assumed was famous for being in Steeleye Span or the like, but who it seems is most famous for appearing on:

Moonlight_Shadow_(Mike_Oldfield) Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow

Oldfield was famous for a few things: for his Tubular Bells album which, I’m sure you know, was the first ever release on the Virgin label and which set Richard Branson up for a life-time of twatting around in hot-air balloons, running rubbish railway services and paying Usain Bolt and David Tennant to pretend to be his friends in TV adverts; for his Christmas hit “In Dulce Jubilo”, and for “Portsmouth” – not one that might tickle your memory glands, that, but one which has been burned onto my psyche ever since we did Country Dancing at Junior School and I made a complete arse of myself attempting to do-si-do with Vanessa Simpson, who I had a massive crush on, crush turning out to be quite literally the appropriate phrase, as I trod on her feet countless times until she asked to be allowed to change partner.

Ahem. But I’m over that now.

Oldfield had also re-recorded the Blue Peter theme tune (it’s not a great quality that link, but it’s worth a watch, if only to see the masterful interview techniques on display from Simon Groom, who is probably more famous for a possibly unintentional live innuendo and for corpsing live on-air, which I can’t find a link for). (NB – Any mention of Blue Peter reminds me of this, and no, it’s not an elephant having a shit in the studio.)

So that’s a few riffers and one fiddly guitar solo learned, what next?

Amongst the singles I still have, are two by the same band, with very battered sleeves. They are:

Gimme_All_Your_Lovin ZZ Top- Gimme All Your Lovin’

and

ZZ-Top-Sharp-Dressed-Man-546769ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man

Ha ha! There’s three of them, and two have really long beards, and the one who doesn’t is called Frank Beard!! Brilliant!!! Hands up who’s utterly tired of that factoid being wheeled out whenever ZZ Top are mentioned?

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Thought so.

And hands up, who likes me? You utter, utter bastards.

I’d like to say that my purchase of the these two ZZ Top records was because I thought they were fine examples of Texan-boogie rock (I did, and still do really like them; no Guilty Pleasures, remember?), but in reality, it was because their videos contained what I believe the red-tops refer to as “bikini-clad lovelies”. I was 13, shallow and untouched downstairs, gimme a break. To show how I’ve grown up, I’m not going to post a link to them here. Plus I did resist the urge to buy the other single from the album, “Legs” which threw any pretension of not being about a bunch of middle-aged men ogling younger women out of the window.

Which kind of neatly leads me on to my first female popstar crush, albeit with ages reversed, who I think I mentioned in passing quite a while ago: Debbie Harry.

For it was in 1983 that I bought “The Best of Blondie”, an album that I still own on vinyl to this day (and on CD for that matter. And MP3.) I’ve mentioned before how I used to buy Best of albums as a way into a band (I realise I am not unique in this, I don’t think I’ve done anything particularly smart there) and such was the case with this purchase.

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My vinyl copy came with the above as a poster; I had no idea who Andy Warhol was at this point, or why he was BAD, but I still dutifully stuck the poster to my wall (no, with blu-tac, don’t be disgusting). The album remained on my turntable almost non-stop for several months, even after I’d learned to play as many as I could on my guitar.

Here’s one song which I wasn’t all that fussed on originally, but which I think now is probably my favourite Blondie song, and which probably explains my love of a good bracket (as you’ve probably noticed):

Blondie_-_The_Best_Of_Blondie  Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear

I suppose I should do one of those Like It? But It here things, right? Okay then.

In the words of Columbo: “Just one more thing before I go.” I recently bought myself a new turntable, and I’m going through the laborious process of a) trying to track down copies of all the vinyl I used to own and buying them again, and b) buying some other stuff on vinyl too. As well as this, I’ve decided to buy a few of the albums my one-year-older-than-he-was-a-week-ago-brother owned and which I used to borrow whenever I had chance. My vinyl purchases may yet develop into a new series here (once I’ve stopped buying all the old Quo albums. Again.), but in the meantime, here’s one from an album he bought (a Best Of album, you’ll note. Must be a family trait) and which, as far as I know, has never been released on CD, so I feel less bad about posting this:

910rcMvWnrL__SX425_ The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown

More soon.