Having finished splitting down Volume 6 into hour-long mixes a couple of weeks ago, and them being on the whole well received (many thanks again if you were kind enough to send me a message or leave a comment letting me know you’d enjoyed them), I figured that as the first few mixes were also lengthy – and, crucially, only available for a limited time via Soundcloud, a tradition I can’t be arsed with keeping up – I thought I’d go back to the start and give those early mixes the same treatment.
So for the next few weeks, Volume 1 will be broken down into its constituent parts (5 of them), after which there will be a new mix (Volume 8) before I go back to Volume 2 and split that down too, and so on until they’re all done (although I won’t be doing Volume 3, for reasons which will be apparent if you remember it from first time around, and which I’ll explain when I get to where it should be in the sequence).
Confused? You won’t be, I promise.
I have taken this opportunity to fiddle around with the running order a bit on some of them, but unless you downloaded it from Soundcloud at the time you’ll have no idea what changes I’ve made anyway.
Also, I didn’t post the track-listing on those early ones anyway, so….maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it. If I was vain, I’d try to blag it and claim the originals will be worth so much more, but I’m not, so I won’t.
(They will be though. Some day….)
Disclaimer time (you’ll know this off by heart soon enough): any skips and jumps in the mix are down to the mixing software; any mistimed mixes are down to me; all record choices are mine.
Here we go then, with the usual mix of an appropriate, if odd, opener, followed by some stuff you’ll know and some stuff you might not; some stuff you’ve forgotten and are pleased to be reminded of and some stuff you may wish had stayed forgotten:
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write a series here called Friday Night Music Club.
Here is what I wrote way back in March 2015 to explain:
“Friends of mine will tell you I love a themed mix tape or CD.
In my old flat, we used to have what we (ok, I) liked to call The Friday Night Music Club. This would involve us a) getting very drunk b) me shaving my head at some point c) listening to the latest CD mix I’d made (later, when I bought a sound system that allowed me to just plug my iPod in (other mp3 playing devices are available) these mixes got waaaay longer, and probably waaaaay more tedious for the listener) and d) ideally having a bit of a dance.
I’ve done mix tapes and CDs for friends and family all my life (but you already knew that, right?) but the idea here was to make a series of mix CDs which, when played in sequence, you could play at a house party and which would keep the night bubbling along nicely.
Actually, this is something I’d already tried a few years earlier. Friends of mine used to have the most excellent parties at their flat on Hilldrop Road, usually with a DJ playing, but on one occasion the DJ – and for that matter, their decks – couldn’t make it. In their absence I prepared a set of 11 CDs – about 15 hours – which, when played in sequence, took you from aperitifs and welcomers, to “go on have a bit of a dance”, through to off your nut party anthems, and then back down to sitting round talking nonsense about radishes until 6am.
Anyway, back to the Friday Night Music Club. Occasionally I’d make a theme out of the whole thing (hey, if Bob Dylan can do a radio show using the same format, I can do a mix CD, okay?) or do more than one CD and spread the theme out (there was once a 4 CD opus to a former flat mate which deserves a mention in passing) but more often than not the theme would occur to me in the middle of preparing it, and that’d be it…I’d be off….“
As an aside, I appear to have missed some fairly significant landmarks in the history of this place: my first ever post was in September 2013, and if you think my posts are sporadic now, bear in mind that my second post didn’t happen until a year later in 2014. Whatever, a belated 5th anniversary to me!
Anyway, it was when I became rather fixated on the theme rather than with just posting some songs which sound good when played together that I knocked the Friday Night Music Club series on the head.
Since there are now more of us are spending our Friday Nights at home, many of us getting drunk, I figured I would bring the series back for at least a one-off for you to use as your sountrack to your Zoom/Houseparty chats. There might be more, I’ve not decided yet.
Also, this, right here what you’re reading now, is my 1500th post, so I’d like to mark at least one of my landmark posts in a timely manner.
I figured we’d go back to where it all began, to the first few episodes of Friday Night Music Club, but now with fewer attempts to be clever/funny and just more songs to rock your end of the working (from home) week/kids are in bed celebrations.
Actually, I’d hoped to bring this to you last weekend, in time for the Bank Holiday, but time simply caught up with me, the bastard.
The initial intention was simply to repost those early “mixes”, with a few new songs thrown in here and there (and some brutally culled). But as I was working on it, it metemporphasised into something different, perhaps better described as a completely new mix of tunes, very loosely hung on the framework of the old ones, in an effort to reinvigorate them, poncey as that may sound.
If you’d prefer to just listen to this on Spotify, you can do here:
…although a word of warning: Spotify doesn’t have all of the songs in the playlist, so the only real way to enjoy this in it’s full…erm…glory is by ploughing through the links below.
Oh, and a second word of warning: there’s a fair bit of effin’ and jeffin’ on some of these, so perhaps not for those with young ears.
Hopefully, there will be something for everyone in here (there’s seventy tunes in just over five hours, so I bloody hope so!), so push back the sofa, get yourself a pint of White Russian (or whatever your weapon of choice is), dim the lights and turn up the volume. Let there be grooves. Let there be guitars. Let there be cheese. Let there be some surprises, some forgotten tunes and some old favourites. Let there be singing. Let there be dancing.
Tell you what: I’ll play a song or two by way of a little intro whilst you’re getting yourself sorted:
There. That’s caught you all out. The Chain on a Wednesday morning.
Don’t get used to this. I’m at a work conference this afternoon and won’t get back until late, so I figured if I didn’t get it done before then, it’d end up being another week before it appeared. So, I started writing it earlier than usual (but still a week late, if you’re being ungratefully picky).
Anyway, we’ve lots to get through this week – 63 new suggestions in total – and so, as has become usual, we’ll start off with a reminder of the source record for the week:
Yet again, one of you correctly guessed the next song in The Chain, but we’ll come to that later. Or, more specifically, at the end.
But first, where to begin? Link-wise, I can think of no finer place than with therobster from Is This The Life? although, as you will see, the first tune of the week can only be partly credited to him:
“I’ve gone down the ‘intentionally misspelled animal-related band name’ route. How about some Def Leppard? No…?”
Yes! But with no actual one-armed suggestions forthcoming from the robster, in stepped Rol from My Top Ten:
“If therobster isn’t going to suggest one, can I suggest…”
Now, just in case any of you were planning on pulling me up on using that sleeve, let me explain. RCA Records bosses told the band that they would not release the song with the title “Randy Scouse Git” (which, incidentally, is taken from 1960s sitcom “‘Til Death Us Do Part”), and demanded they gave it an alternate title. “Okay”, said drummer/singer Mickey Dolenz, “‘Alternate Title’ it is.”
Here’s another band that fits nicely into the category:
(NB. I tried to track down a video clip of just the Partridge – Kraftwerk introduction, sadly to no avail. But imagine my surprise when typing the words “alan partridge introduces kraftwerk” into Google to find that the fourth link it offers is to…The Chain #28!)
But I digress. GMFree seizes the opportunity to do the old Chain link one-two shuffle:
“Which leads me to my [next] suggestion with the recent death of Holger Czukay…”
Ah yes, Apple Records. Alex G picks this up and runs with it:
“‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous 1968 LP, their first on their own Apple Records imprint. So from one artist-owned label named after a fruit, to another: Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records. I do wonder whether the Beatles got the idea from him, though nobody else seems to think so. Anyway, let’s go for Ray Charles’ version of…”
And the bloke leaning over my shoulder at the bar is called Dave, amongst other things
So let’s switch on the Magimix ™ and see what delight we get
………… and the winner is
David Soul ‘Silver Lady'”
Much as I love that record, it’s featured before, way back in The Chain #8, and as such has to be disqualified. But since GMFree has done the old Chain link one-two shuffle, I suggested Julian might want to follow suit. So, since, he’d got to David Soul, perhaps one of his other songs? Nope. That’s too straight-forward for our Julian:
“David Soul starred in a short lived TV show called ‘Casablanca’, so how about…”
Having valiantly chipped in to assist therobster earlier, Rol’s back with a suggestion all his own doing:
“‘Martha My Dear’ is from The White Album. Another band who released a ‘White Album’ (following on from their Blue, Green and Red albums… even though all of them were actually just eponymous) were Weezer. From that, I’ll suggest…”
Do any other White albums spring to mind? Well, no, although there is, of course “The Whitey Album”, by Sonic Youth off-shoot Ciccone Youth (I really thought this would get suggested, especially as I posted a track from it in a recent post).
“It occurred to me that The Beatles ‘White Album’ reminds me of Mr Barry White…I can’t find any dog-related [this will get explained soon – Ed] Barry songs or ones about a girl called Martha [I think we pretty much used them all up last time – Ed] so it’ll have to be the next most appropriate for this place:”
Now, all this white stuff is all well and good, but let me draw all of your attention back to something Alex G said earlier: ‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous1968 LP…” And he’s quite right: the album in question is colloquially known as ‘The White Album’ but it’s actually, officially, called ‘The Beatles’.
Which takes us back to George, who suggests a new category: “…the ‘eponymous album that wasn’t a debut’ route.” And specifically he suggest this, from Blur’s 1997 album, the fifth that they released:
I must say, this is my favourite link of all that were suggested this time. It had never occurred to me before that most acts, when releasing an eponymous album, made it their debut, presumably to double the impact of their name, get it “out there” as a recognisable brand. So I did a little digging and found these acts also released eponymous albums, but not first time around:
Yes, everyone calls their fifth album “The Black Album”, but it’s not called that, it’s called ‘Metallica’.
And at the other end of the musical spectrum, this lots’ first album was 1973’s “Ring Ring”, but it wasn’t until two years later, when they released their third album, that they released an album called…well, you can figure the rest of that sentence out for yourselves:
Now, remember how in her suggestion Alyson mentioned something about dogs in songs? Well that’s where we’re going next and here’s Dirk from sexyloser to explain why:
“..the title ‘Martha My Dear’ was inspired by McCartney’s Old English Sheepdog, named Martha.”
Which leads us nicely into a whole batch of songs about dogs. Sort of. But before we get to Dirk’s suggestion, here’s The Great Gog, awake at 02:31am and thinking about dogs:
“All this talk of Martha has me thinking of my one of my sister’s dogs, which goes by that moniker. Martha is a spaniel, no idea what type of spaniel though. One type is a cocker spaniel which immediately led me to thinking of…”
“Another famous Old English Sheepdog was Alfie, who starred in ‘Serpico’, so – of course – did Al Pacino. And Al Pacino will always be remembered – at least in my household – not for Serpico, but a) [for the sex scene he had with the fabulous Ellen Barkin in] ‘Sea Of Love’, the film being named after a single by Phil Phillips from 1959. I prefer The Heptones’ version from 1968 though, also we don’t have enough Rocksteady on ‘The Chain’, I’m sure you’ll agree!”
Sorry, I stopped paying attention at the mention of Ellen Barkin. (I was wondering you were linking to her surname)
“We could also have something by Blondie as well…‘cos contrary to what everyone thinks, the band didn’t choose their name because Debbie Harry was blonde, no, they named themselves after Adolf Hitler’s German Shepherd, Blondi (the ‘i’ – ending was generally regarded as being too uncommon for American ears, so much so that the ‘-e’ was added)!”
Which is good enough for me. Here’s the Blondie track Dirk suggested:
Ok, brace yourself. It’s time for the undisputed Worst Record of the Week award, and to present the award here’s all round nice guy and not a white supremacist enabler at all, Sean Spicer accept the award and explain what the hell he was thinking when he sent me this suggestion is Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense:
“…sticking firmly to the Dogs route (and a contender for Worst Record Of The Week)…”
Not just a contender, Rigid, but so nailed on The Worst Record Of The Week that nobody else even bothered to try to think of any more because this was so obviously unbeatable.
But first some context.
The song is about Barbara Woodhouse, a dog trainer who found celebrity status in the UK in the late 1970s/early 1980s, back when celebrities were required to have some semblance of talent (see also celebrity steeplejack Fred Dibnah). Here’s a clip to give you an idea:
And here she is, interviewing William Shatner, teaching his dogs a thing or two, and then revealing a little too much about her bedtime habits for my liking:
And here’s Rigid’s suggestion. Remember: in the world of The Barron Knights, a man putting on a ladies voice = funny:
And here’s two actual funny women, Rebecca Front and Joanna Scanlon, parodying Ms Woodhouse directly and subtly:
I’ll leave the last word on that Barron Knights song to Charity Chic who quipped:
“I think you missed an H out of the title.”
Rigid then goes on to mention the Dogs d’Amour, but doesn’t actually suggest a record by them. Luckily for us him, babylotti steps in with three suggestions by the band; I’ve picked the one he cited as his favourite. Because I’m nice like that.
I must say I always get the Dogs d’Amour mixed up with The Quireboys. Were they around at the same time? (NB: This is a rhetorical question, the type where instead of already knowing the answer, I already know that I don’t really care.)
So let’s have some more doggy-do’s, and one which I was surprised nobody else suggested. A song which is famously about a dog, although the name in the title was changed from ‘Brandy’ in the first draft (who sounds more like a stripper than a dog, if I’m honest) to:
(I was going to post a Buzzcocks tune and had settled for the (s)punky little burst that is ‘Orgasm Addict’, until I realised how that might look when played after the previous two songs…)
Time for another one that I was surprised nobody else came up with. The original version has featured on The Chain before, so I would have had to disqualify it. But, as with the helping hand I tried to give Julian earlier, had the original been suggested than I would doubtless have given you a nudge towards this:
Their record label initially refused to release that, on the grounds that it was trying just a bit too hard to sound like The Small Faces. Harsh, but fair.
But as Rigid astutely concludes:
“There ain’t many songs whose last words are: ‘lovely buttocks'”
A fair point, well made. But just think of the songs which could be improved by the inclusion of those words. “God Save The Queen” springs to mind.
Speaking of which…
Often, the suggestions link from one song to another by way of one word in the title. But there wasn’t much to work on here, just three words, and one of them, Martha, was pretty much done to death last time. But there was one more song to link to that name, from Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area:
“I have a niece called Martha. Her Mum, my sister, was born in June 1977. My parents sometimes say that if she’d been born on the Queen’s jubilee day they’d have called her Jubilee. At least I think they’re joking. So [this] seems an appropriate link (Pistols obvs).”
So, where to start with this little lot. Well, let’s split them down into songs which feature the word “Dear” in the title (or prominently elsewhere in the lyrics) and, first, songs which can in some way be linked to Deer.
And, after missing last times linkage, it’s a warm welcome back to SWC, who proffers this:
(Except it’s not really the Sex Pistols, is it? It’s got Eddie Tudor-Pole on lead vocals for a start. And it’s from ‘The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle’. And it’s title and that picture are clearly meant to shock, but it’s shocking for the sake of being shocking. Not cool.)
But no, Julian was in fact going here:
“Ok it’s the rain song from Bambi”.
This caused a little confusion at Chain HQ, as the song that Julian actually wanted was this:
I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Blade Runner. Sacrilege, I know. But it’s one of those films that everybody bangs on to me about how amazing it is that it can never live up to expectations. I guess I’d better rectify that before the new one comes out later this year, right?
Over to babylotti now, who suggests these two:
“[I’m] going to fall back on Marvin Gaye’s divorce settlement album, ‘Here My Dear’, with obvious reference to Martha my dear….I’ll suggest the title track rather than any of the singles.”
Martin from New Amusements snuck his suggestion under the wire just in time:
“Keith Moon used to call everybody “Dear Boy” and he did a pretty fair cover of Beatles track ‘In My Life’ for his lone solo album ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ (even if it was played with too straight a bat). Anyway, a double-linker!”
Time for C from Sun Dried Sparrows tune now, and this is an example of me saving the best ’til (almost) last; I think this is my favourite song by this lot. I love a good bracket (see?)
“I went down the ‘dear’ route too and another song whose title ends in the word ‘dear’ (there can’t be many, surely?). “Dear” is such a charming, old-fashioned word, I always thought it sounded a bit out of place for Blondie to use it but I love that they do. So I’d like to suggest…”
Now, when the suggestions start coming in, I will often have a little bet with myself as to who I think will suggest what. I’m rarely right, of course. For example, this week I was sure that Dirk would suggest this:
…which, given it’s a cover of a song from The Beatles’ “White Album” and features the word “Dear” is unquestionably a double-linker (Points!!).
And I wouldn’t be so sure about neither of your suggestions being right, CC, for you’re right on the money with your second one. The official link is, quite simply “From one Dear to another…” and the next record in The Official Chain is this:
I’d forgotten how great that record is too, as it goes.
So, CC, congratulations. A huge bag of non-existent points is winging its way to you. Hopefully that makes up for The Chain making you late for work last time. And today, too.
Ok, you know what happens now. This is the bit where I invite your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “There, There, My Dear” by Dexys Midnight Runners, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Who knows when that might be.
You’ll recall there was no Friday Night Music Club last week, on account of me being too preoccupied with my fruitless efforts to get my new phone to work.
You’ll all be delighted to learn that I’ve got it sorted now. Just one ultimately embarrassing contact with my tax-avoiding network provider later, where they pointed out my Sim card wasn’t working because I hadn’t requested that they activate it yet, and I was up and running.
You’ll all be slightly less delighted to hear that in the interim period, I started thinking about songs which involved telephones or telephone calls. It occurred to me that there weren’t very many happy songs involving telephones: they all seemed to involve hoping someone would call, or someone not answering/pretending not to be home, or leaving messages on answering machines (that’s voicemail to you youngsters).
Before I knew it, I’d compiled a little playlist involving such songs, which I’m going to foist upon you all tonight.
Before we go any further though, my normal file sharing service is apparently having “internal issues” which is preventing me from uploading any of today’s songs. Maybe it’s some kind of protest at my selection, I dunno. So for tonight, we’re off back to the service I first used when I started writing this, Box. Hopefully, none of you will have any issues with playing or downloading (for evaluation purposes only, of course), but if you do, let me know and I’ll try and sort out a different link.
** ALL LINKS NOW AMENDED (I hope) **
OK, so, admin out of the way, to kick things off, here’s that there ABBA lot, with what is as close to an upbeat sounding song about telephones as I came across, where Agnetha, or maybe Frida, or maybe both, are pondering why their other half has not called them. Quite why they don’t just ask them – one of them is playing the guitar, the other the keyboard on the song they’re singing, after all – is beyond me:
Feargal – perhaps the reason she hasn’t used it, is because judging by the sleeve of the single, you appear to have given her the record’s catalogue number, rather than your actual telephone number. A schoolboy error.
ABBA and The Undertones are not alone in bemoaning the lack of contact from a potential beau. Here’s Macy Gray (remember her??):
Macy – at the risk of this turning into one long Agony Aunt page, I suspect that the reason you didn’t get a second date here is because according to the above, you have also confessed to admitting murder. If I’m honest, I’d probably think twice about getting back in touch if I knew that.
Some people, rather than simply sitting around moping about the fact their phone hasn’t rung, take matters into their own hands, and start hassling those they consider accountable:
Although, frankly, if a simple call to the operator makes you wonder whether they might be a more suitable life partner, I’d say that suggested you weren’t all that committed to idea of remaining with the person you were trying to call in the first place.
Now, I don’t wish to appear unsympathetic or unkind, but is it just me that thinks most of these people should be taking a hint?
Take Rialto, for example, who seem to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the absence of a reply:
All of this missed call, calls not being answered mullarkey could easily be avoided, and the hint taken a lot earlier, if some of these people moved off Pay As You Go and invested in a phone with a voicemail. Like Little Mix (and Missy Elliott), for example:
The chorus of “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” is, of course, directly lifted from…no, sorry. I can’t bring myself to post it.
Instead, consider this: sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason why someone might not answer the phone. Here’s Paul Evans with your obligatory “Blimey, I’d forgotten all about that” record of the week:
Now, I love a good bracket as much as the next man. Unless that man is in a dress and called Hinge. But surely the (The Telephone Answering Machine Song) is the most superfluous addition to a song title ever. Firstly, I don’t think anyone has ever referred to them as Telephone Answering Machines. Secondly, it implies that listeners are too stupid to understand that’s what’s going on in the song and need to be reminded. Thirdly, while the answering machine theme is predominant throughout the song, surely if you’re going to treat your average record buying public as idiots, you may as well call it “Hello, This is Joannie (The One About The Girl Who Doesn’t Answer The Phone Because She’s Dead)”.
Look: when George “Shadow” Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich wrote The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack”, they didn’t feel the need to pop the words (The One Where She’s Going Out With A Wrong ‘Un Who Gets Killed While Riding His Motorcycle) on the end of the title, with good reason.
Plus: if we are to believe Paul Evans, he got drunk with Joannie, had an argument, let her drive home, and in between attempts to call her the next morning, wrote a glib ditty about how he couldn’t get through, finds out she’s dead, finishes the song off, and bemoans the fact that never again would he be able to kiss her “funny face”. Joannie sounds well off out of it, if you ask me.
And he looks like a grumpy Peter Powell.
Now then, question time. What’s worse than the following: not being called, being called too much, getting through to an answerphone, or your partner being killed before they can answer the phone?
Answer: being David Gedge, that’s what. Poor old lovelorn David is trying to call his girlfriend, and he gets through…to her sister, who, much to his humiliation, pretends she’s not home when she clearly is:
Joan is rather forgotten these days, which is a shame. For to these young eyes and ears, in 1980, when this came out, she was something I’d never seen before: a black, female singer/songwriter. Sure, I didn’t realise it at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight, the phrase “trail-blazer” springs to mind.
And then, there’s this, still peerless, almost thirty years (ouch!) after it first came out:
You cannot overstate how refreshing De La Soul were when they first burst onto the scene. They were truly revolutionary, a fact I didn’t properly grasp until years later.
My girlfriend at college, and her best friend who she shared a house with (along with three other thoroughly odd, mismatched people), used to have keys to their rooms which had a plug attached (not a euphemism). One had a label “Plug One”, the other “Plug Two”. Not fully appreciating the significance at the time, I just thought it a quirk, rather than a homage.
At a time when middle class, white folks were frothing at the mouth about rap music and their perceived misogynistic, self-aggrandising perspective, De La Soul were one of the most important bands ever, a black hip-hop band promoting peace, love and unity in a witty, catchy way that nobody had ever managed before.
Plus, the album that this is taken from, “3 Feet High and Rising” was genuinely innovative, a concept album if you will, set out like a game show.
And they sampled – not quoted, or referenced, but sampled – both James Brown and Johnny Cash on “The Magic Number”. They knew what they were doing alright:
Just for shits and giggles, a new (very) occasional thread allowing you to listen to a few covers which fall squarely into the “Fine as a sound check, but why would you do this, and then release it to the general public?” category.
The plan for this week’s post was to travel back to 1983 and talk about some of the records I bought back then. But I was, and still am, truth be told, struggling to think of anything much of interest to say about any of them. So as I was lazing around my blog-cave today, seeking inspiration by watching “Pride” (which is rapidly becoming my favourite film ever; if you’ve not seen it yet, I urge you to do so: it’s the one of the best films ever about the relationship between gays, lesbians and striking miners. Well, I say one of the best: it’s definitely in the Top 10 of that saturated genre, anyway), when I received an email from See Tickets, telling me that my tickets for this year’s Glastonbury had been posted out to me today.
Yes, indeed. Glastonbury here I come. This will be my 6th Glastonbury, the first being back in 2003. I guess you could say I was a bit of a latecomer to the whole festival scene, and some will probably take this as evidence of Glastonbury being tailored towards the more middle-aged, middle class clientele these days than it used to be.That might well be the case; since I didn’t go to my first Glastonbury until 2003, I have no frame of reference as to what it was like in the good old days, bar the usual old stories about how much better it was before the fences went up, and of course Julian Temple’s rather wonderful 2006 rockumentary, pithily entitled “Glastonbury”. (I don’t know how he does it, I really don’t)
Glasto 2003 wasn’t the first festival I’d been to. No siree bob. The first festival I went to was Reading in 1989, at the end of my first year at college. (I appreciate calling it a college makes me sound like a plaid-shirted, gum-chewing, Chevy-driving, yee-hawing Yankee, but having dossed around far too much at school, I didn’t get good enough grades to go to a University, and I ended up going to a Polytechnic. A Polytechnic was a place where people not bright enough to go to University, but who weren’t ready to go get a proper job yet, ended up, like an Immigrant Holding Cell for the moderately clever but lazy. It became a University literally moments after I graduated. I’d no sooner handed back my mortar board and gown after my graduation ceremony than they started painting over the sign and giving the whole campus a makeover. I swear they were waiting for me to leave.)
Reading 1989 was an experience I was not keen to replicate, hence the 14 year gap before I attended another festival. This was the first year after it stopped being “Reading Rocks” (I believe a bottle of piss throwing incident involving the crowd, Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler was the final nail in the coffin of that particular incarnation of Reading. Tyler has subsequently apologised). My reluctance to go to another festival had nothing to do with the line up at this one: the headiners were Friday: New Order (tick!); Saturday: The Pogues (tick!); Sunday: The Mission (ah well, can’t have everything, I suppose).
Utter virgins at this kind of thing, me and my mate Ian had turned up with a borrowed tent on the Friday morning, pitched and rocked up to the Main Stage (I say Main Stage, my recollection is that it was the only stage, although I’m open to correction there), just in time to a) miss Gaye Bikers on Acid (result!) and b) catch Spacemen 3. I was already a massive fan of their “Revolution”, which regular readers may remember I posted a while ago in those wildly optimistic pre-election days. Next up were My Bloody Valentine: this would have been around the time they were starting to record the masterpiece that is their “Loveless” album, and so the set comprised, as far as I recall, mostly of early versions of what would go on to become that fine album. I was totally blown away by them. And of course they played this, which I still think is one of the greatest, noisiest records ever made that I somehow managed not to buy.
(Actually, I know how I managed not to buy it: I had just started DJ’ing the Indie Night at the Student’s Union, so I could listen to it as much as I liked there, often getting paid to play it. At least one person I know would say that no amount of money would be enough to make her listen to it.)
But anyway, I digress. This isn’t about Reading or me DJ’ing – I can talk about both another time. And I will. You’ve been warned.
No, this is about me popping my Glasto cherry,
Now, I don’t intend to review each act I saw that year, or on any of the years I’ve gone to since; gig reviews are not really what I do here, and besides, there are people who do gig reviews a whole lot better than I could (which reminds me, if you get chance, check out Lorraine’s blog over at “Still GotManners“. She’s very good, and has a taste for going to the right gigs; her recent review of the Super Furries recent gig in Glasgow is so on the money you’ll see why I didn’t even attempt to write a review after I saw at them at Brixton Academy a few weeks back. No point – she’s already done it far better than I could have managed)
So, Glasto 2003. 10 of us had managed to get tickets – these were the days before it sold out in 26 minutes, and we’d all spent hours redialling and clicking refresh. Seven of us hired a minibus and drove up from Cardiff on the Thursday, the other three came from further west in Wales (Neath) and we not only all managed to meet up, but also pitched our tents together. This would not happen these days; if you’re not there first thing Wednesday morning when the gates open, you’re going to struggle to find space to pitch one tent, let alone a group of tents. Somewhat optimistically, we pitched them in the round, and woke up on the Friday morning to find someone had pitched theirs right in the middle of our group. Morning!
You’ve probably noticed a reluctance in the past for me to name people I’m writing about (I haven’t even told you my brother’s name, and he’s been mentioned loads), and that’s because I wanted to afford them some level of anonymity, just in case I ever write about anything on here they would rather I didn’t announce to the world. But usually I’m just talking about one person, and they know I’m writing about them; now, with 10 of us, I think it’s time to call a register.
There was me (Hello! Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by), my flat mate Llyr, his sister Hel, two of our mates O’Keefe and Ballard (mates from work, both blokes, hence referred to by their surnames, as is the tradition), Mike and Vicky (married, from Neath), Johnno (not a bloke, hence everyone else apart from me calling her Claire), Mark and Val (couple, also from Cardiff). I wish I saw all of these people more often than I do these days. What a merry band we must have looked as we all wandered around the site on the Thursday afternoon, drinking in the atmosphere, before visiting the late night fun on offer that night, and then we finally traipsed off to the Pyramid Stage ready for the first act, on stage around mid-day on the Friday.
We decided we’d head towards the back of the field (stopping off at the bar on the way up, of course) and positioned ourselves right at the top of the slope. There’s a first aid tent there we decided was a convenient reference point in case any of us got lost. I’ve used this as a rendezvous every year that I’ve been since.
First act on were The Darkness. This was before they went massive – or as massive as they got – and imploded (before reforming). We’d never heard of them, but were all pretty impressed with them.
About mid-way through their set, it started raining. Of course it did. Disorganised Glasto virgins as we were, none of us had considered bringing waterproof clothing out with us, so we all purchased what was essentially a transparent bin bag with a hood and two arm holes cut into it from an enterprising local who wandered past. Hilariously, Mark’s only had one arm cut in it, and I will never forget the utterly pissed off look on his face as he attempted to smoke a cigarette using the tethered arm, as rain dripped off his brow.
Next up was the newly reformed Inspiral Carpets, who we all loved, being from “our era” as they were, followed by Echo & the Bunnymen, who the continued rain seemed to suit (and who I also loved). It was a running joke for years later that wherever we went, Mr McCulloch and co would be playing somewhere; it was some years later before a year happened where we didn’t see Echo & the Bunnymen play.
Still the rain continued. It was that fine rain, the sort that soaks you right through. Some of the gang wandered off to go and watch other things – namely Junior Senior, and Har Mar Superstar, the latter of which has resolutely failed to tickle my fancy. But I remained, along with a few of the others to watch the Inspirals and the Bunnymen. Later acts were De La Soul and Jimmy Cliff, and it was during one of these acts that the sun finally decided to reappear. It’s such a simple pleasure, but there’s very little better in this life than the sun coming out at Glastonbury; you can feel the mood of the whole place lift.
You can tell this was my first Glastonbury, because I pretty much spent the rest of the weekend in the same spot, watching all the acts come and go on the Pyramid Stage. This was fine by me, for although The Other Stage culminated on the Friday with Super Furry Animals, with Primal Scream headlining, R.E.M. were playing the Pyramid, and there was no way I was going to miss them. This would be the third time I’d seen them, and I still say that the greatest gig I ever went to was not this one, but R.E.M. at the Newport Centre in 1989 promoting the Green album. More of that another time.
(NB – when you arrive at Glastonbury, you’re given a little booklet showing the band times for the whole weekend; having just checked mine from 2003 (of course, I’ve kept it) I find that my recollection is a little skew-whiff: apparently Super Furries headlined the Other Stage on the Saturday night, and Jimmy Cliff played the Pyramid on the Saturday too. This is not my recollection, although I’m certainly not going to argue. But this is about what I remember, so take it that the running orders from hereon in may not be accurate. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organisers of Glastonbury, you could say. The reason my memory might be a little off beam will become clear…),
R.E.M. would at this time, 2003, have been promoting, or at the very least working on, their “Around The Sun”, generally accepted as being the worst album they ever made. This is not a consensus I would disagree with; bar one, maybe two songs, it’s an absolute stinker. Thankfully, most of the songs on there were still in their early stages, so we were subjected to very few of them. Instead, we basically got a Greatest Hits set, which is, I think, what you want of an established band at a festival. Their gig was also memorable for Johnno complaining afterwards that it would’ve been nice to hear Stipe sing, rather than having my dulcet tones bellowing along to every song in her close vicinity. Here’s them doing Electrolite; ask me nicely and I’ll sing it in your ear throughout.
So ended Friday. On Saturday, a few of us settle ourselves at roughly the same spot, and it was here that an extra member of our group was introduced to me. One of our little gang (who shall remain nameless, for fairly obvious reasons) had brought it upon themselves to bring some cakes with them. Brownies, to be precise. As you can imagine, there was chocolate in them. And one other vital ingredient, which you can work out for yourself.
The sun was absolutely blistering that day; yet we munched on the brownies like they were going out of fashion (which they had, around 30 years earlier) and then found ourselves totally incapable of speaking, let alone moving, for the rest of the day. I remember sitting next to O’Keefe and neither of us uttering a word for about 2 hours, just looking at each other every now and then and either giggling or just staring. And this was nothing to do with not being able to be heard over the sound levels.
All sorts of cretinous acts passed before us, who I would not normally have gone within a mile radius of. However it’s quite amazing how you find yourself able to endure the likes of Jools Holland and his Boogie Woogie Band (that’s probably what they were called, anyway), Turin Brakes and (I think) David Gray when you are so utterly mashed on space cakes that your legs don’t work.
O’Keefe, from somewhere, suddenly managed to muster the energy to get up and move. He later told me he thought he was going to get sunstroke and decided he had to go and try and find shade, which he did, in one of the Dance Tents, where he promptly had a kip to the sound of some banging techno.
(On returning home, I read about a woman, probably a bit older than I am now, who had been spotted at the festival, clearly off her face, naked, propped up against a bandstand in one of the peripheral fields, legs akimbo, demonstrating the old rustic art of Bean-Flicking to anyone who cared, or could hold their falafel down long enough, to watch. There but for the grace of God, and all that….)
One of the highlights (I think) O’Keefe missed was The Polyphonic Spree, a band I was aware of and had heard a couple of tracks by, and who seemed to be going for the record for Most People on a Stage Wearing White Smocks. They were great, perfect sunny afternoon whilst trashed fodder.
Saturday night was rounded off with The Flaming Lips (wonderful) followed by headliners Radiohead, who were just incredible. I, despite my brilliant plan of making sure every one was by the First Aid tent, managed to get lost on the way back from a trip to the loo, and found myself wandering almost to the front during Karma Police There’s something almost reassuringly unsettling about meandering around, lost in the dark, utterly mashed, in a crowd of some 100,000 or so people who are singing in unison that they’ve lost themselves. Yeh, you and me both.
On Sunday, I vowed that I wasn’t going to spend the whole day at the Pyramid Stage. And thus it was the case: plus everyone else swore off the remaining brownies and I was given the unenviable task of “looking after them” for the day. I decided that “Looking after them” could be interpreted as “eat as many as you like”, and I considered this a challenge I was up too. Cue me comatose outside the Acoustic Tent half listening to Roddy Frame as I drifted in and out of consciousness. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, understandably. I know that I somehow managed to hook up with most of the gang over at The Other Stage in time to see Grandaddy (never heard of them before, loved them so much I bought some of their records when I got home), Sigur Ros (ditto) and Doves (already perfectly aware of them, thank you very much).
So that was Glastonbury 2003. If you’ve ploughed through all of that, you deserve some tunes: