As alluded to in yesterday’s post, had I been able to come up with an hour’s worth of anti-establishmentarian tosh then tonight’s mix would have been very different.
But I couldn’t, so here we are: Jubilee Night and part 3 of the completely unrelated and unpatriotic, non-flag-waving, Volume 4 which was super-long, nobody listened to, so I’ve broken it down into hour-long parts instead.
Volume 4 clocked in at 4:41 minutes, so to make it to a round hour, I either had to add 20 minutes or lose 41. You can guess which of the two won, I think.
So, if you happened to be one the people who listened to this mix in it’s full glory when I first posted it, you’ll note some changes to this one – to the running order, and there’s three tunes dropped and one added – the one added is making a point, which I’m sure you’ll get when you listen to this.
Brace yourself: next week sees the addition of the missing twenty minutes. You have been warned.
Here comes the admin: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are, of course, mine.
And there’s a couple of tunes towards the end of this one which contain a bit of effing and jeffing so:
Firstly, I wanted to do a mix unlike the Not Christmas one, which I thought strayed a bit too far into the territories of cheese or chart music. Whilst it served a purpose, it wasn’t really indicative of the sort of tunes which usually feature here.
This one, though is a corker, even if I do say so myself.
Regular readers may recall that way back in the late 1980s, I started DJ’ing at college because I was fed up with being able to guess what song the indie DJs would play next. So imagine my annoyance when my own brother told me that on a previous mix he’d been able to predict my next choice a couple of times. Grrr.
But this mix has proved to be such a pain to complete; when I came to do it today, it tells me that some of the tunes have been played 22 times, which gives you an idea of how many times I’ve tried to get this one right. Pretty much once a week, since Christmas.
What’s gone wrong all those times? Well, on more than one occasion professional pride kicked in: I’ve messed up a mix between tunes, so have elected to start again.
On more than one occasion, preoccupied with playing Solitaire or Candy Crush just to have something to do whilst recording the mix, there’s a sudden, irretrievable silence where the next record should be. Oops!
Once I forgot to stop recording until an hour later, and, triumphant at how the mixes had worked out, I couldn’t understand why the mix lasted over 5 hours, until I listened to it.
The other problem is booze. More than once, I’ve taken drink to such an extent that I’ve forgotten I was doing a mix until the silence after one record has finished hits home and startled me awake.
Last weekend, I got to the third record from the end, and suddenly woke up to silence and realised I’d messed up again. That’s not an indictment of the standard of the mix, by the way, more an example of how drunk I’d gotten.
Even last night, when I finally nailed it, it was my second attempt of the night, having got through most of the mix when I had a drink-spillage event, which I thought I’d sorted, until, four records from the end, suddenly the sound cut out whilst the tunes kept playing and I had no idea if it was still recording the sound or the sound of silence.
Anyway, we’ve got here, and this has been a real pain, so if you could take a listen, that would be great.
I will confess that I have broken the golden rule of not featuring the same act more than once in this mix; this wasn’t intentional, but as the various run-throughs progressed, I simply forgot said acts already appeared as “featuring” acts. One is deliberate. Sue me (Please don’t).
Time for the usual disclaimer: any glitches, skips or jumps are down to the software or the uploading/downloading process, and nothing to do with my limited mixing skills.
Oh, and the usual “effing and jeffing” warning applies; it seems I’m incapable of doing a mix which doesn’t include more than the occasional swear.
I’m not posting a link to download here, other than the one to Soundcloud, where you can either download or stream it.
I couldn’t be bothered with the last ones, but I’ve done it this time: you’ll see a list of all the acts featured in this mix at the bottom of the page, so you can check whether this one’s likely to be your cup of tea before going to the hassle of actually listening to it. If you’re particularly short of things to do, you can try to guess which song I’ve picked by which artist. There’s fun.
But by way of a description: pretty much all life is here, from indie rock to 60s California hippy-shtick, some Old Skool dance classics, some hip-hop and some soul classics via some Northern Soul belters via some TV show theme tunes (sort of); there’s some hoary old rock and some psychobilly, and a couple of tracks which should have featured in a New post by now, but the bands in question played the 6Music festival last weekend so you’ll probably know them intimately by now. And, of course, there’s The Fall.
Easy on the cheese this time, there’s even some poetry so we can all pretend we’re intellectual. You’ll have chance to dance, sit and recover for a few moments, before getting back on it again.
Available for a limited time (i.e. until I do the next one), you can download or stream this on Soundcloud here:
Sorry it’s been a bit quiet around here for the past couple of weeks. Nothing is wrong, as such, just…*gestures hopelessly at everything*…y’know….stuff.
When I was younger, my dear Mama taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. (Other pearls of wisdom: “Your face will stay like that if the wind changes”, “I can see you, you know” and “Keep doing that and you’ll go blind.” Mind you, when teaching me about road safety, my parents also once told me that one of my aunt’s had their head chopped off when they got run over by a cyclist. I remember challenging them on this: “But she’s got a head now?”, which elicted the response that “it had grown back but took a very long time”. It’s probably a good job I never challenged the “you’ll go blind” one, or Lord knows what I’d have been told.)
But I digress.
What I’m trying to say is that I try to be positive, especially here, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve found that an increasingly difficult façade to project. I didn’t want to come on here and just whinge and moan about how tough things are when pretty much everyone is feeling it; I wanted to be upbeat, overwhelmed by some notion that I was a guiding light to all who visit here. And if I couldn’t do that, I’d rather say nothing at all, to misquote Ronan Keating.
I’ve sat at my laptop several times over the last two weeks, determined to write something, anything, just to dislodge the blockage, but on each occasion I closed my laptop again, article half-written, no faith in what had splurged out, and returned to scrolling through Netflix or NowTV in the hope of finding something to cleanse the soul.
And then it occured to me: at the moment, in these days of Covid-19 “lockdown”, this is my only outlet for venting. I’m still working from home, so the opportunity for a rant at the metaphorical water-cooler isn’t there; I can’t visit friends, who all live down in South London, as far away from me here in North London as possible (I’m really bad at taking hints); my parents have had enough on their plate without having to listen to me banging on about how frustrated I feel with the world right now; and God forbid you express an opinion on a social media platform like Twitter for fear of it being taken wildly out of context and misquoted as unequivocal evidence that you’re a racist transphobic mysoginistic homophobe. None of which I am, I hasten to add.
Which just leaves here.
So apologies to those of you who roll their eyes when I have one of my episodic rants, but I need to get a few things off my chest.
You’d think from what I have just said that I’d be delighted that “lockdown” restrictions are gradually being lifted. And you’d be wrong.
Before I go any further, I fully accept that these are unprecedented times, and that managing the country in such times is an incredibly difficult thing to have to do. And that the balancing act of the economy versus public safety is tricky, to say the least.
What would be nice right now would be to have a leader who was actually just that: a leader, rather than one who is just playing at being one and who looks increasingly out of his depth with every Wednesday PMQ’s.
So you won’t be surprised to learn that I also think the Government has got pretty much every important decision wrong from Day One.
This shouldn’t have been that complicated; I don’t know if you’ve noticed – although I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Dominic Raab hasn’t quite grasped it yet – but the United Kingdom is an island (or one big island, a slightly smaller island, and lots of teeny tiny ones, if you’re going to be pedantic) and so restricting the movement of potential virus carriers from coming into and going out of the country should be fairly straight-forwards.
Freedom of movement, that’s basically what Brexit was about, right? Stopping them pesky forreners from coming over here? Well here you go, here’s your chance to close the ports and airports, a dry run for when the Brexit transition period ends. Fill your boots.
But just as we failed to implement rules which were in place when we were in the EU (and then blamed the EU for that), so we failed to do anything. It’s only now, what, eleven, twelve? weeks in, that anyone entering the country who is displaying symptoms of the Covid virus must self-isolate for 14 days. Stable door, horse, bolted.
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that if your job was one where you cannot work from home, then you must return to work, as long as you observed the social distancing rules at all times. Cue those in low-paid jobs – cleaners, retail workers – crammed onto public transport, where social distancing is simply not possible.
It’s hardly surprising that people in those kinds of jobs, who are more likely to come from BAME communties, have been found to be most susceptible to contracting the virus. Yes, because we’ve thrust them out into a potentially hostile environment to see how safe it is before us whities emerge. They are our canaries in a coalmine.
Let’s also not forget that at the start of the lockdown, we were told that wearing facemasks was a good idea, but might not have any real effect. And now, a couple of weeks after the poorly paid have been crowbarred onto buses, are we told that wearing a facemask when travelling on public transport is mandatory. Why wasn’t that in place when certain sections of our communites were told it was safe to return to work?
And this creates a ridiculous situation where some schools have reopened and teachers are told that they have to wear face masks should they travel to work on public transport, but not when they’re actually at work, as if a school is protected by some sort of force field which viruses bounce off of.
Plus, how disconcerting must it be for the children who have returned to school? It’s been sold to them as if they are returning to normal school life, when the reality is that there are whole load of new rules to observe. To them, right now, it must be unbearable, thinking that life will never get back to normal. I’m not sure we’ll ever know what psychological damage has been done to some of them.
See, much as I wish they were gone altogether, I don’t think restrictions should be getting lifted. Not yet. Not until we have a day, or preferably several days, when there are no new cases of people either contracting or dieing from the Covid virus. Which I fully accept is a very draconian position to take, but saving lives must take precedence here, surely?
The austerity measures we’ve all had to endure for the past ten years, the cutting back of social services, have been shown to be a lie. Remember when those on the right mockingly goaded that “there’s no magic money tree”? Well, we suddenly seem to have found it, not just to promote the notion of a No Deal Brexit (soon to be returning) but also to fund the furloughing of employees to save their jobs.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I’m saying this isn’t quite what we’ve previously been told.
And much as the Government try to claim that herd immunity – the idea that the virus should be allowed to spread throughout the country, until everyone has had it and (hopefully) can’t catch it again, and never mind that thousands may (and have) die – has never been the policy (and right at the start, it definitely was, I watched the press conference when they announced it), it seems pretty clear to me that’s exactly what’s going on now, albeit in a different name.
So brace yourself, for I fear there’s going to be a second wave, and all those lifted restrictions will slam back into place again.
Part of the problem here is the constant moving of goalposts, the flim-flam of governmental advice – and again, I totally get that as circumstances change, so does the advice.
The thing is, since “lockdown”, for the most part, the advice was quite consistent: Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.
To extrapolate: remain indoors, only venture outside to buy food or medicines. This will lighten the load on the (criminally underfunded and underprepared) NHS, and by extension, save (some) lives.
Which of course leads me on to Dominic Cummings.
We all know what happened by now, but to recap: on 27th March, Cummings and his family drove from his London home to his parents’ property in Durham, at a time when the public were being told to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As it all unravelled, it also became clear that Cummings had driven to Barnard Castle, a thirty-minute each way trip, to check that his eyesight was good enough to allow him to drive back to London. Witnesses, however, described seeing him and his family enjoying a picnic at the half-way point of this hour long round journey.
As calls for Cummings to be removed grew louder, Boris defended his plotter-in-chief’s action, refusing to sack him, and instead claiming that he had “acted on instinct” and that that was fine.
This was a massive slap in the face to all of us who had observed the very rules which Cummings had been part of devising. Regular readers will know that on April 19th, just days before his 80th birthday, my Dad had a fall which resulted in a five-week stay in hospital. Because of the lockdown rules, I could not visit him, nor could I visit my Mum, who – and I don’t think she’ll mind me saying this – alone for a sustained period of time for the first time in their many years of marriage, was perpetually worried and at a loose end throughout. We all felt helpless, impotent, useless. I took a few days off work, because whilst sometimes it’s good to have something to take your mind off whatever is going on in your life, I simply could not focus and I worried that I might be making expensive mistakes.
I can, but don’t, drive, so to visit my Mum would have involved me getting a train; I knew that at all London stations, police were out (not socially distancing or wearing PPE, I should add) challenging people as to the worthiness of their journey. I know damned well that had I rocked up at London St Pancras and told the enquiring officer that I was acting on my instinct I would have been sent back home pretty sharpish.
But it’s okay for Cummings, because he’s the puppeteer pulling Boris’ strings.
It was with much amusement and indignation that I read an entry from Brewer’s slang dictionary which said “Barney Castle” was existing slang for a “pathetic excuse” deriving from a 16th century general’s refusal to leave his fortified position there to engage in battle. I have no idea if that’s true or not – I suspect not, it’s just too delicious. But still, in these days of Fake News, worth repeating.
So here’s one for you and your ridiculous excuse of driving to check your eyesight, Cummings you absolute cretin:
And so to the other main event from the last two weeks: the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in America, here in the UK, and all across the world.
Anyone who has seen the footage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer cannot help but have been horrified. I would only recommend that you seek it out if you have a strong stomach and really, really need verification.
There’s a tendency with such things to say “Well, they must have been doing something….”, but I have watched a lot of footage of peaceful protests where the police response has been alarmingly disproportionate. If I linked to every one, this page would never load for you to read.
Here’s some lowlights. Firstly, a car, containing a pregnant woman and in no way involved in the protests, has pepper spray fired at it by US Police:
Here’s your friendly Minneapolis police firing tear gas at journalists:
And here’s some footage of Minneapolis police slashing the tyres of parked cars, irrespective of whether the owners are or are not, involved in the protests:
Meanwhile in Houston, a protestor is nonchalantly trampled by a police horse:
Many years ago, I was in a protest in London where the horse-mounted police were sent in to disperse the crowd. It was – and excuse my language, for I have managed to get this far without the need for expletives – fucking terrifying. I’ll save this story for another day, because this is not about me.
Let’s not forget how we got here: by peaceful protestors being dispersed so that Trump could dog-whistle to his Bible-belt redneck supporters, by awkwardly holding up a book he has never read at a photo-opportunity:
And how do I know he’s never read it? Because of this:
This should have been sorted out years ago. In the 1990s, there were riots after the beating that Rodney King took at the hands of the LAPD, and it was promised that things would change. But they didn’t.
If you only watch one of the clips I’ve posted here, make it this one:
There’s only one song to play when faced with such horrors:
Okay, there’s more than one song. This is perhaps a more expected one. It came out in 1971, when there was genuine hope that the civil rights movement might have some long-lasting effect. And yet here we are, almost fifty years later, fighting the same fight:
And so to the protests on this side of the pond. In spirit, I’m with the protestors, of course. Systemic authoritarian racism is not limited to America, much as we might want to kid ourselves that it is.
But I have concerns.
Firstly, that if there is a second wave of the virus, that the Government will be able to point to the UK BLM protests as the cause, rather than any failing on their part.
Secondly, that solicitors Berryman Lace & Mawer (BLM) are going to be getting way too much business come their way.
And thirdly, that, as seems to be happening already, the dialogue is shifted away from matters of such great social importance as racial inequality, to a discussion about which statues are good and which are not.
I lived in Cardiff for many years, and visited Bristol many times, often going to see gigs at a venue called Colston Hall. I had no idea who Colston was, and even less of an idea that there was a statue erected to his memory and his legacy somewhere in the city.
For the uninitiated, we’re talking about Edward Colston, who amassed a personal fortune and subsequent notoriety on the back of his involvement in slave trading.
Had I known that, would that have been enough to stop me going to gigs at a venue named after him? Probably not, if I’m honest.
But when you have an historical figure held up as someone to be respected, by way of statues or public buildings or whatever, there has to come a time when their actions are scrutinised. The question has to be asked: does this person, with whom our city is so closely linked, continue to characterise and epitomise how we feel now?
Last weekend, protestors in Bristol gave a resounding thumbs down to this question, pushing over the statue of Colston and dumping it in the river.
Do I agree with it being removed? Absolutely. Do I agree with it being tossed into the Avon? Absolutely not.
What should have happened is that the statue was removed from public display and placed in a museum, where their fame, wealth and actions can be viewed and explained in a correct social context.
A statue says: We, as a city, respect and agree with this person’s actions. A museum place says: this person did a lot for this city, which is appreciated, but it’s complicated and here’s why:….
It’s all about the context.
Which is why I don’t have an easy answer to the question of Winston Churchill and the many statues erected in his honour. This is much more complicated: he is undoubtedly, and rightly, considered a hero of our wartime efforts. But at the same time, he held a lot of views which in the current climate would be considered racist. Because they were. Does one cancel out the other? Does his WW2 leadership mean that we should ignore the unpleasant stuff?
I have no answers on this point.
I do have a song though, which shouldn’t be taken too literally:
Last time I posted something by today’s group in this series, I dove (dived? daved?) for cover, expecting a barrage of mockery to come my way for posting such a hoary old rock band.
I should have known better, for what I actually got was a fair few people telling me how much they love this band, and a couple of others pointing out that I should have posted the version from their 1972 live album Made in Japan.
I speak, of course, of Deep Purple.
So, I figured I’d take the advice, and go for the final track on the double vinyl album.
There’s another reason: my mate Ferg has mentioned posting some Deep Purple a couple of times to me, and I’m not entirely sure if he’s winding me up or not. (He’s more of a deep house than a Deep Purple kinda guy). So I figured a song which does more than just wander into prog rock territory, and which is so long (19:54) as to allow time for me to get up, showered, have breakfast and get to work should test his mettle somewhat.
I love the audience reaction to this: firstly, when they start applauding at the false finish, and scondly, the utter silence when the song actually finishes, like they’re all sitting there with their arms crossed, thinking: “Oh, you’re done now are you?”
It’s ok, I’m not ill or back in hospital or anything…I just decided to take a few days off from writing the usual tosh I come up with here.
But what a few days….the Ashes glory (for now)…Parliament getting itself all prorogued…and I went to the cinema.
I imagine all of the above will get further mentions at some point over the coming days (OK, I plan to mention them all), but for now I’ll focus on the latter.
On Thursday evening I had my first IMAX experience. I know, I know, about time. Truth be told, I didn’t plan on having this one; regular readers will now that I have one of those “Pay monthly, see as many films as you like” set ups, which I rarely take advantage of as much as I could because…well, it may be prepaid but that shouldn’t mean I feel obliged to go watch something with Gerard Butler in it, ta very much. (see also my other pet hates: Keifer Sutherland and Julia Roberts)
And so, on Tuesday, as there is a film out at the moment that I really wanted to see, I cranked up the movie theatre app I use, checked out the times, cursed that there wasn’t a showing starting post-work any earlier than 19:30 hours, bit the bullet and pressed “Book Seats”.
After selecting my seat of choice (aisle seat, towards the back), I was surprised to see it wanted to charge me £4.20 for the privilege of seeing the film in question.
I cancelled the purchase, and tried a different film. No additional charge. And it was then that the penny dropped (all four hundred and twenty of them), that I was being charged extra because the film was being shown on the IMAX screen.
Ordinarily, I would have then waited until the film went over to boring old standard screenings, but I figured that I really wanted to see this one, so I’d stump up.
At work on Thursday, I mentioned to the chap who sits next to me at work – a film buff, I didn’t just collar him – that I was going to see the film in question. He pointed out the length to me (stop it!) and I told him it was just over 2 hours, which was fine. A quick check confirmatory check in iMDB clarified that it was actually 2 hours and 40 minutes.
A visit to the local supermarket to stock up on munchies was going to be required.
So, in case you haven’t worked it out yet, the film I went to see was Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film (or eighth, if you count Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2 as one film, which I don’t), Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.
Now, I love Tarantino films, but I had realised I hadn’t actually been to the cinema to see one since Jackie Brown back in 1997.
And I’ve still not seen his last film, The Hateful Eight, at all, despite it having been in My List on Netflix for at least a year now. Well, I’ve seen the first twenty minutes or so, before I got bored as nothing had happened, bar Jennifer Jason Leigh getting punched in the face a couple of the times, which didn’t really float my boat, if I’m honest.
I’d read nothing but good reviews of QT’s latest offering though, so I figured it was about time I reacquainted myself with his works. I read an article which ranked his other films, and I was shocked to see that on said list ReserviorDogs and Pulp Fiction weren’t #1 and #2. (I’ve searched for the article again in advance of writing this, to confirm what was, but I can’t find it and can’t remember what they chose as #1, but whatever it was, they were wrong: how can any review of Tarantino’s films not conclude that those two films are his finest (interchangeable positions, I must admit)…?
So I watched Reservoir Dogs again last weekend, and it still stands up. There were a couple of things I noticed this time around – and it’s great I can watch a film which I first saw back in the early 1990s, have watched many times since, and still notice new things about it now – is the sound. Set predominantly in a disused warehouse as it is, I loved the echoey speech, and that you can hear better what someone is saying the closer the camera gets to him (they’re all “hims”, there are no female characters in Reservoir Dogs, we’ll come on to that later); also the many scenes where several conversations are taking place and you can focus in on any one of them, dip in and out, and yet nobody is trampling on anyone else’s lines.
Recently, I’d posited to a couple of people – my brother, some people at work – that people of a certain age must be really confused by adverts for motor insurance which feature Harvey Keitel dressed only in a tuxedo, a dodgy tache and a Noo Yoik accent. To folks of my generation, it’s clear: he’s reprising his role as Mr Wolf, the Mafia fixer from Pulp Fiction, only now he sees an insurance-related issue and he fixes that. But anyone who hasn’t seen Pulp Fiction must be looking at those ads thinking: “Who’s this guy? Why is he dressed like that, and why does he like his coffee with lots of cream and lots of sugar?”
Take my parents (please!). They have never seen a Tarantino film, and that’s fine because I don’t think many of them are the sort of film they would enjoy. My brother and I discussed letting them watch one: it can’t be Reservoir Dogs, as my father can’t stand the sight of blood, and there’s a lot of it in that one. And in pretty much all of them. Except Pulp Fiction. I mean, there’s a bit in Pulp Fiction, but not lots. Not main-character-shot-in-the-stomach-in-the-second-scene-and-left-to-bleed-out-on-a-ramp-in-a-disused-warehouse-for-the-rest-of-the-film-while-somebody-else-gets-their-ear-cut-off amount of blood, but there’s a bit.
Someone else I mentioned this to said: “What about the whole Zed and the anal rape scene?” I shrugged; they may wince, but I reckon they’ll be alright with that.
Mum, Dad: our Christmas viewing is sorted.
There is very little blood split in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, and I’m not sure if it’s wrong for me to wish there was.
Ok, so avoiding any spoilers, here’s the plot: it’s 1969 (a bloody good year) and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star, forever filming pilots which never get picked up, or making one-off appearances in other people’s shows, playing the baddie, and getting his ass royally whupped.
Throughout life he is accompanied by Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) – note, not Clint Boon, or that would have been a very different film – his stuntman, although it soon becomes perfectly obvious that Booth no longer gets any fall guy work, he is essentially Dalton’s driver, his go-fer, his rent-a-buddy.
This is made clear by a scene which has no purpose whatsoever, except to show that Booth will indeed climb up on to a roof to repair Dalton’s TV aerial, and in the process take his shirt off.
Dalton is approached by a new agent, Marvin Shwarz (Al Pacino), who thinks Dalton would be perfect for the burdgeoning spaghetti Western scene in Italy, and wants him to fly out and give it a try.
Dalton fears this is a sign that he is washed-up, and so takes a part in another Western, desperate to prove his acting chops. Which he does, and then takes the Itaian lira anyway.
And that takes up pretty much all of the first two hours.
Mixed up with that is the incidental news that Dalton lives in a prefab just outside the walls of director Roman Polanski’s gated apartment, where he lives with his young wife Sharon Tate.
Now, anyone of my age probably knows how this pans out. Any moment now, a character called Charles Manson will appear and this could get interesting. And sure enough, there he is, goofing up to the Polanski residence, ostensibly looking for a couple of the Wilson Beach Boys.
And that’s the last we see of Manson.
But we’ll shy away from that for a moment, and concentrate on Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Quite simply: she’s not in it enough. She has three big scenes:
She arrives at a party and dances. This scene is only there so that Steve McQueen, played by Damian Lewis… (?!?!), can explain to us/his associate/us the relationship between Tate/Polanski/Jay Sebring (Tate’s ex).
2. She visits a movie theatre which is showing a movie she is in with Dean Martin, and asks the cashier if she can come in for free as she’s in the film;
3. The end scene, which I won’t spoil for you.
Sure, she pops up in the film every now and then, generally greeting people with a hug, but Robbie is criminally underused. The scene where she watches herself on screen in the cinema (sorry, a spoiler: she gets let in) is an absolute joy; she giggles and nervously looks around to assess the audience’s reaction, before relaxing, kicking her shoes off, and putting her feet on the backs of the seat in front.
Robbie absolutely nails the few scenes she’s in, and she should have been in more. But that’s the problem with Tarantino films: he ain’t that great at writing female characters.
Those first two hours really could have been edited down and still explain the Dalton/Booth dynamic and give Robbie more to do, but hey ho, what do I know, I’m not a millionaire film director.
And that’s another issue with Tarantino: given carte blanche, nobody is reigning him in. That’s why Kill Bill is spread over two parts and that’s why Once Upon A Time… could have been cut to around the two hour mark and nobody would have complained. I hear rumours that there is a nine-hour version which I won’t be watching.
The other truly great scene is when Pitt’s character (Booth) picks up an underage hitch-hiker and gives her a lift to where she squats with her Family, on a disused film-lot where Booth used to work, and knows the guy who still owns it.
It’s a genuinely tense 20-30 or so minutes (or so it seemed) as it becomes apparant that he has wandered into the home of The Family, the group which Charles Manson assembled around him, and for a while there’s a brooding feeling that something is about to happen – and since this is a Tarantino film, it probably ain’t gonna be too pretty.
If you follow Tarantino films – and if you do then you’ve probably already seen this, so I won’t be spoiling it for you – I’d place Once Upon A Time… in the same bracket as his WWII flick Inglorious Basterds in that it’s an historical film based in reality, where rather than show how things did pan out he posits an alternative reality where what we know happens doesn’t. And while the alternative is, in typical Tarantino style, quite brutal and unpleasant, I’m not sure it’s any less pleasant than what actually happened.
And then there’s the music.
I’ve written before about how songs used in films can almost become an additional character.
Nowadays, if you hear the George Baker Selection’s Little Green Bag or Stealers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle With You, chances are you’ll be reminded of Reservoir Dogs.
Similarly, hear Dick Dale and His Del-Tones’ Misirlou or Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man or even Urge Overkill’s version of the Neil Diamond gem Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon or Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell and if you’ve seen Pulp Fiction then the scenes they appear in become your immediate frame of reference.
And although Once Upon A Time… has a great soundtrack the same won’t happen. It sounds kinda forced to me, like knowing the commercial possibilities of a Tarantino-soundtrack, he tries to cram as much in as possible. But none of the songs really latch on, take hold, in the film in the way that they were allowed to in his older movies. The songs are clearly a soundtrack, rather than an integral part of of the movie as they were back in the …Dogs and …Fiction days.
What I mean is this: on the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, dead-pan, existenstial one-liner comedy God Steven Wright plays the DJ, and it’s brilliant. There’s the same on the Once Upon A Time… soundtrack (and I know, I bought it before I saw the film) only now it’s not Wright it’s just a radio jock, and thus half of the appeal is broken. And in the film, not one song is given enough time or space to take hold, to really get a grip in the way that they’d been allowed to in his older films, so whilst the songs are still great, they become forgettable in the context.
In twenty years time, I won’t be hearing Deep Purple’s Hush and saying: “Oh yeh, this is the bit in the film where they drive around for a bit and then park.”
These songs are all in the film, are all brilliant, but literally blink (or whatever the not-listening equivalent is) and you’ll miss them:
It’s weird how things pan out. We have various categories here, where I award points for (nobody’s counting, the points mean nothing, apart from giving a warm glow for the recipient) the following:
Worst/Cheesiest Record of the Week
Showboat Comment of the Week
The Next Record in The Official Chain
Well, this week, we have a suggestion for each of the above. All of them will receive points. Yes: one person correctly guessed the next song in The Official Chain. If I could afford Ray Winstone’s head to pop up to ask you to lay your bets “nahhhhh”, this is where he’d be.
To recap: last week, we ended up with “Bonny” by Prefab Sprout, from their “Steve McQueen” album. Plenty of food for thought there, you’d think? Well, we have the most tunes ever to get through this week, although that’s mostly because I kept thinking of new ones.
Oh and by the way, it was rather pleasing to note that absolutely nobody complained about my deliberate mistake last week, which was to omit the link for the Crazy Frog tune. My faith in humanity is almost restored.
But before we go any further, many of you will know that regular Chain Ganger Badger’s better half was Lorna was involved in a car crash last week. Needless to say, our thoughts and best wishes go out to them. Get well soon.
“Beans often come from sprouts so how about something by Sunflower Bean? Tame Impala perhaps…”
Yes, that’s Tame Impala by Sunflower Bean, rather that Sunflower Bean by Tame Impala. As it says on their Bandcamp page: “Tame Impala wrote a song called Led Zeppelin and now they have a song named after them.” You can’t fault their logic.
“I feel that this is as good a time as any to mention Jasper Carrott and Funky Moped, although I think that a fair proportion of its sales were down to the inclusion of the non-musical Magic Roundabout on the flip side.”
You’re probably right, GG, so let’s stick with the A-Side which is, by the way, the Worst Record of the Week:
And since we’re in Belgium, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:
“Plastic Bertrand is the only Belgian singer I’m aware of….”
What, you haven’t heard of Arno before, CC…..? Care to nominate a song by the most famous Belgian (after Hercule Poirot and Jan Vertonghen, both of whom would have done better than our actual defence did yesterday).
In a normal week, the next suggestion, from George, would win the Comment Showboat of the Week. Not this week though, oh no:
“Using the song title, Bonny, to the name Bonnie, which leads to child star of the 70s Bonnie Langford, who appeared on a TV show with Lena Zavaroni, one of Rothesay’s famous exports, and there is no way I’m suggesting ‘Mama He’s Making Eyes At Me’, NO WAY, because I am linking from Bonnie Langford to Jon Langford, founder member of The Mekons, and to the song ‘Prince Of Darkness’, who seems to be having a rare old time at the moment in the UK and the USA. (The Prince of Darkness, that is, not Jon Langford)”
See that? Biting satire as well a great suggestion:
Time for The Robster from Is This The Life? with a bit of a history lesson:
“The only thing I’m coming back to is ‘My Bonnie’, the 1961 debut single by Tony Sheridan. He was backed on this by some young upstarts called The Beat Brothers (as the label credited them). Apparently they went on to become quite famous under a slightly different name…”
Many of you weren’t content at simply linking to Bonnie, plumping for songs which reference, or are just plain about, famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Here’s another one of mine to kick this batch off:
Okay, are you all sitting comfortably? Good, because I’m about to go off on a bit of a tangent, and hog the limelight for….oooh…the next five songs.
In the movie about the outlaws Bonnie & Clyde, pithily titled “Bonne and Clyde” Bonnie was played by Faye Dunaway, and Clyde was played by Warren Beatty. Beatty may, or may not have been the subject of this record:
And, of course, her co-star in The Thomas Crown affair was one Steve McQueen, which is, of the course, the name of the album that this week’s source record comes from.
(If I could award myself the Comment Showboat of the Week for that little lot, I would. Guess I’d better give it to one of you lot instead. Harumph.)
Go on then George, do your stuff:
“From Steve McQueen to Alexander McQueen, the designer, whose partner was George Forsyth, which is also the name of a long dead American General, and also of a Peruvian footballer. And also from Peru was Daniel Alomia Robles, who wrote the song El Condor Pasa, which was made famous by Simon And Garfunkel as ‘El Condor Pasa (If I Could)’.”
“Shaun Ryder cribbed the opening to the Happy Mondays’ ‘Step On’ (“You’re twistin’ my melon, man…”) from a documentary about Steve McQueen. ‘Step On’ is, of course, a cover of a John Kongos number that I believe has featured on these pages before [it hasn’t, so we could have it…] Happy Mondays also covered Kongos’ Tokoloshe Man. So that instead, please.”
Fair enough. This featured on “Rubáiyát”, which was released to mark record label Elektra’s 40th Anniversary:
Okay, where shall we go next? I know, let’s have some suggestions relating to Prefab Sprout themselves, and to kick things off, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?
“I always thought that their ’88 hit ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was called ‘Albuquerque’ as the word comes up so often in the lyrics – Whenever watching the TV show Breaking Bad which was set in Albuquerque I thought of the song ‘A Horse With No Name’ by America (from Ruislip) and sure enough it popped up in the third season (and is my suggestion for this week). A tenuous double link is that the America band members back in the early ’70s would have worn the fashionable trouser of the day – loon pants – and Prefab Sprout’s main man was of course Paddy McAloon!”
“I should go from something by Prefab Sprout to the *original* Prefab Four, i.e. The Rutles, but I’m not actually familiar with their output. ‘Cheese and Onions’ is a mildly infamous song of theirs, though, so I’ll go with that.”
Now, we’ve had numerous links to Steve McQueen, the album that the source record features on, but what about other albums by Prefab Sprout?
“Prefab Sprout’s next album was ‘From Langley Park to Memphis’ and one of the singles from it was aforementioned ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Elvis of course was the KORNR and he lived in Memphis so an alternative suggestion is ‘Walking in Memphis’ by Cher (as she dressed up as Elvis on ‘Top of the Pops’ back in the day).”
No extra points, I’m afraid Martin, but I will take this opportunity to nudge you in the direction of Swiss Adam’s Bagging Area, where he has just finished posting a week of protest songs. Worth a visit, in my opinion.
Anyway, that’s your lot for this week. Except, a little while ago, Rigid Digit mentioned the Steve McQueen film and Blur album “The Great Escape”, but didn’t actually nominate a song from said album. Magnanimous host that I am, I asked him if he had one particular song in mind:
“My choice would be the peerless ‘The Universal’ (despite it’s continuing usage on the British Gas advert)”
So this is what Thursday looks like, is it? I’m not sure I care for it much. It’s no Wednesday, is it?
We ended last week with the 32nd record in The Official Chain, “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa, and my usual open invitation for suggestions for songs which can be linked to that.
And, as usual, the usual diverse range of songs came in, linking a numerous amount of clever, corny, obscure, obvious, tenuous or terrific ways. This week, for a change (and because it’s a lot easier) we’re going to look at them in the order they came in.
Also this week, as I was struggling for ideas for my own suggestions, I seem to have developed a new catch-phrase.
First out of the traps this week was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, with a suggestion which truly fulfils the remit of the name of this here blog:
“‘Frank Zappa and the Mamas were at the best place around’ according to Deep Purple on Smoke on the Water”
That’s taken from their 1972 album “Machine Head”, an album which my brother owned when we were kids, on gatefold vinyl. When opened, this was the collage which greeted you:
As you may be able to see, each of the band member has their photo with their name on the right hand side – there’s Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord, Paice, and then on the left, just one photo bears a name, a name which my brother and I found hilarious when we were kids: Claude Nobs.
This sounded to us like one of those comedy innuendo names, like Ivor Biggun or Hugh G. Rection. But actually, Nobs is there for a reason. He does not appear on the record. He is not one of the sound technicians. During Zappa’s concert, when the fire that the song tells the story of broke out in the Montreux Casino, started by a fan firing a flare into the ceiling, Nobs was a hero, saving several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames.
He still has a funny name, mind.
Anyway, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this version, just in case you think that what that song needs is less guitar riffs, and more salsa brass:
If that version isn’t on Strictly Come Dancing some day, then…well, I won’t have the faintest idea, as I never watch it.
Over to the Great Gog now:
“Frank Zappa’s band were the Mothers Of Invention which set me thinking about anything referring to invention / inventiveness or whatever, and inevitably our old friends, Manic Street Preachers cropped up with ‘Another Invented Disease’.”
I think sooner or later I’m going to have to draw up a league table of the acts who have featured the most in The Chain. The Manics have to be right up there, along with Kirsty MacColl and maybe The Bluetones.
“Also springing to mind on a separate train of thought,” continues the Great Gog, “was a band who I’m guessing didn’t name themselves purely to be next to Zappa in the record store racks, but achieved that anyway. That will be Zapp and the only song I can recall of theirs is ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’ – and it didn’t to the Great British record-buying public at least, because it wasn’t much of a hit.”
And here’s why I think that was: because we just weren’t ready for someone trying to sound like Prince after he’d had a vocoder forcibly inserted:
Time to welcome back Dirk from Sexyloser, conspicuous by his absence the past week or so, and, from the length of his suggestion, keen to make up for lost time:
“That’s an easy one and one that links to one of my favourite tunes in the history of the whole wide world ever: how cool is that? Now, Zappa had this song on the album “Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch”, which was released in 1982. Now, if you have a closer look at the lyrics of “Valley Girl”, you start wondering who stole from whom when you take into consideration that The Valley Girls’ “Marina Men” (a m.i.g.h.t.y. tune, friends!) was ALSO released in 1982: if some expert now told me that the Valley Girls’ 12″ came out first, my life would be complete, believe me!”
“Plus,” Dirk continues, “in order to show you that I’m a friend of the stars: one of the first comments I received when I started sexyloser years and years ago came from Pamy out of The Valley Girls: she thought it was cool to see the record being brought up again some 25 years after its release. Had I already known about the Zappa – tune then, I would have asked her for the exact release date straightaway! So Pamy, if you’re reading this, who was first: you or Zappa? Also, as a kind reminder: I’m still waiting for this lyric sheet, alright?!”
I don’t think she reads this, Dirk. Not unless one of you is about to suddenly rip a mask away from your face to reveal your true identity, like the owner of the run-down, reputedly haunted, circus in every episode of Scooby Doo ever.
Charity Chic is back, with two more suggestions now, one absolute belter, and one…er…less so. I wonder if you can guess which one is which?
“The Skids who recorded the mighty ‘Into the Valley’ were from Dumfermline…..”
“…Fresh from seeing Pixies in Cardiff last night, and with my body still recovering from a full TWO HOUR onslaught in the mosh-pit, my mind turns to lead singer Black Francis. Now he has released records under the alternative name Frank Black. In 2000, with his backing band The Catholics, he recorded an album called ‘Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day’, the title track of which was a cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet track. The album was never officially released, although Frank did distribute some copies at gigs. He re-recorded the track for his 2005 album ‘Honeycomb’ while other tracks ended up as b-sides or on compilations. It also provides a double-link for The Chain!”
Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, my own double-linker, one of the greatest Northern Soul tunes ever, and frankly (see what I did there), I can’t believe nobody else suggested it this week:
“Alice Cooper released two albums on Frank Zappa’s Record Label Straight. Ian Dury and The Blockheads sang ‘I Want To Be Straight’, and to complete the circle (back to Frank’s middle name) [and back to George’s suggestion, for that matter] he also recorded ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.”
(You did mean the Series One Theme Tune, right Martin? Pah, of course you did. Nobody would pick the Series Two Theme Tune. The Series One Theme Tune is the best Space:1999 Theme Tune ever, everybody knows that).
“A better ‘moon’ connection – Keith wrote, sang and drummed on the excellent ‘I Need You’ from ‘A Quick One’ by The Who…”
“…Another ‘valley’ connection: The Monkees, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’…But ultimately, I will revert to type. Yes, I want to pitch Pleasant Valley Sunday to you, because it’s utterly brilliant, Gerry Goffin and Carole King at their 60’s song-writing zenith. But, to maintain my indie boy credentials, can I hesitantly suggest The Wedding Present’s 1992 cover of same….?”
Oh, Martin. Never be hesitant round these parts when suggesting The Wedding Present. Besides, when they released a limited edition 7″ single at the start of the month, every month, throughout all of 1992, with an original song as the ‘A’ side and a cover version on the ‘B’ side, I bought the lot, and still have them all. And their version of Pleasant Valley Sunday was on the flip-side of May’s “Come Play With Me”:
Time to welcome back Julian Badenoch for a second week on the trot, and after I’d spent a few days scratching my head and trying to work out where I knew his name from after he kindly dropped by last week, I was reminded – admittedly by him – that he writes, as he calls it the “unreliable music blog”: Music from Magazines (“unreliable” seems a little overly self-deprecating, Julian. I think “sporadic” is more appropriate):
“This may be wrong for the girls but …Valley sounds like valet which leads to valet parking, and Grace Jones’ instruction to ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’…”
Now I’m not the biggest fan of Ms Jones generally – we got off to a bad start when she battered Russell Harty about the head – but that’s an absolute stone cold classic (I’ve not said that for ages, I don’t think…)
Anyway, Julian proceeds: “…which could be paired with ‘Relax’ [I’m skipping that one, as I’m not quite sure I follow what the link is; doubtless I’ll get it the second I press Publish] or even ‘If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It’…”
Next! Over to Alyson from What’s It All About Alfie?, permanently scuppered in her efforts to get her suggestions by a combination of a) being in work and b) those fast-fingered blogging boys:
“…as I have absolutely no indie boy credentials whatsoever to maintain, I can go in a totally different direction. One of the first songs I can think of that links to the word Moon, is by Al Jarreau and it’s his theme from the TV Show ‘Moonlighting’. I mention this only because a certain Chain Ganger, who shall not be named, recently revealed a first album purchase which did kind of link to that show!”
I’m not going to mock. I bought a single from the same album. It most definitely wasn’t my first single, so I cannot even afford myself the luxury of that excuse.
Here’s a little know factoid for you: Al’s surname is actually spelt Jarrow. His parents adopted this as their family name after they took part in the 1936 Jarrow March. However, when he started earning his corn as a soul singer, young Al decided to change the spelling from ‘Jarrow’ to ‘Jarreau’ because he didn’t think being associated with the Tyneside town with the same name made him sound “suave” enough.
100% true, that. Except for the bits that aren’t. Which is all of it, obviously.
“Other than that all my Moon suggestions come from way back, Moon River, Blue Moon, Moonlight Serenade etc. or are by Showaddywaddy (and we won’t go there). Slightly more recently there is ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ by Toploader (this millennium anyway, just) [DON’T YOU BLOODY DARE SUGGEST THAT!!]. The one I’ll go with as my actual suggestion [Phew! Crisis averted]however is going to be ‘Moonlight Shadow’ by Mike Oldfield (featuring the vocals of Maggie Reilly). As ever I don’t know if its cool or uncool to like Mike Oldfield around these parts but not averse to hearing a bit of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ at this time of year.”
Also a single I bought when I was a kid, so it’s a thumbs-up from me:
“SWC will be along later with his suggestions,” wrapsup Badger, in whatlookssuspiciouslylike anaudition forhostingdutiesonsomeinteractivemusicblog, likethat’sanideathatwouldevertakeoff, “I think he was going down the Frank route. Or something to do with Lithuanians.”
And here is he, right on cue. Badger and SWC both write When You Can’t Remember Anything, so it’s quite nice that their suggestions have come in next to each other, not least because I only have to type their blog name once.
Anyway, SWC, what’s all this about Lithuanians?
“So…in the city of Vilnius in Lithuania there is a statue of Frank Vincent Zappa. There is a reason it is there, but I can’t remember what it is. [You can read it here, if you so wish to do – Helpful Ed] As I’ve stated Vilnius is in Lithuania which gives us a lovely link to ‘Lithuania’ by Jaga Jazzist.”
In case any of you are unsure as to why SWC refers to Top Gun as being homoerotic, then watch this, written and performed by Quentin Tarantino from early 90s indie-flick “Sleep With Me” (which, by the way, is definitely Not Safe for Work, containing, as you would probably expect from anything written and performed by Tarantino, a fair degree of effing and jeffing)
Now, I’ve noticed a scarcity of records vying for the title of “Worst Record of the Week” this week, so, time for me to wheel out my new catchphrase.
If you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:
Europop at it’s most….erm…most distinguished there.
As an aside, do you remember when in 2006 they re-recorded that for the football World Cup, which was being held in Germany? No? Have a listen to this (not the official video, needless to say – all traces of that seem to have been wiped from all corners of the internet):
England got to the last eight that year, going out on penalties to Portugal. I think they deliberately lost so that we didn’t have to hear that rubbish ever again. Until today.
Here’s Rigid Digit, back to inject some class back into proceedings:
“Frank: Frank Bough presented BBCs Grandstand – all the big sporting events, mainly Football, Rugby League, Horse Racing and Snooker were covered every Saturday Afternoon. ITV offered an alternative with World Of Sport fronted by Dickie Davies which focused on Wrestling, Darts and Stock Car Racing.
And just in case you don’t know what Rol and I are referring to, it’s to the broadcasting career ending expose of Bough, when it was revealed he enjoyed attending S&M dens, dressed in stockings and suspenders, and indulging in a little light flagellation.
Over to George again now, and you may recall that last week George suggested a tune by Emerson Lake & Palmer, and the next day Greg Lake dropped dead. Let’s see who he has in the cross-hairs this week:
“I can get a link to the Clash, but I’m not going to [regulars will know why – Semi-Helpful Ed]. Frank Zappa was made a special ambassador for Czechoslovakia by then President Vaclav Havel. Vaclav Havel was a founder of Charter 77 (formed in 1977, and isn’t that the title of Clash song…?) so I am of course suggesting a track from Talking Heads’ first album, 77, namely ‘Don’t Worry About The Government'”
So tune in tomorrow for tributes to one of the late founding members of Talking Heads:
Here’s The Beard with his usual clutch of contributions:
“Valley Parade is the home of Bradford City FC. The dreadful nineties outfit Terrorvision hailed from Bradford. I stood next to their lead singer at a Supergrass gig at Leeds Town & County Club in 1996. He was wearing, if memory serves me right, awful trainers. I can’t remember what made them so particularly awful but since I always associate Terrorvision with bad footwear. As awful as his trainers were they were nowhere near their single Tequila in the scale of awfulness. Bile inducingly bad. Tequila is of course a type of alcoholic drink. Better songs loosely linked to alcohol, to name just a few, are:”
(I have genuinely never heard that record as being described as “better” than any other, so fair play for buying in to the ethos of this place, trying to justify those records traditionally considered “guilty pleasures”, which we all know don’t exist. Well, not in the land of music, anyway)
He’s not done yet though:
“‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream (“here she comes again, with vodka in her veins”)”
If I hadn’t posted it yesterday, this would undoubtedly have featured today. We’ll call it an honorary mention this time, and we’ll try to think of a reason to post it some other time. Sorry!
Well, if you’re suggesting louche cover versions of alcohol based beverages, then I’m going to suggest this louche cover version of an alcohol based beverage (Wasn’t quite as catchy that time, was it? Mental note to self: new catch-phrase needs some polishing):
“…and Nick Seymour from Crowded House [if Midnight Oil are ‘The Oil’, are Crowded House not ‘The House…? – Facetious Ed] is the brother of Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors, so I’ll go for the oft covered ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by them…”
Today is Andrew’s birthday. Andrew is my older/only brother.
For once I don’t have to take international time-zones into consideration to ensure that he reads my birthday wishes on the right day, for this year he’s home from India and back in the UK for a couple of weeks.
To mark the occasion, I’m travelling up to my folks for the weekend, and to inevitably spend Saturday night sitting up and drinking Jack Daniels with him. Often when I go home, I’ll prepare a playlist of stuff to listen to, but often this has to take into consideration what the ‘rents will put up with having to listen to. So I thought this week, I’d post a few songs here which remind me of my Big Bro because…well, he bought (most of) them when we were kids.
As I was choosing the songs to play tonight, it occurred to me that my musical evolution followed a pretty similar path to his. This is hardly surprising since I used to listen to his records in that period before I started buying my own on a regular basis. We both had: a dodgy rock stage, a dodgy pop phase, followed by some semblance of redemption by way of liking something approaching decent indie records (although he had more than a passing Goth phase too).
I’ve talked about some of the records from our shared past before, here and he even wrote about the songs he bought when he was younger here. I’ve tried to avoid the songs played on those posts and focus on the…less cool stuff. For a start, anyway.
(By the way: my file sharing service Cut Pi, seems to be becoming increasingly erratic, and doesn’t seem to recognise some of the mp3s as being mp3s. It’s been doing this for a while and I can’t work out why. Upshot is, some of the links are shared via Zippyshare. Hope they work okay. And George – you got your wish.)
So let’s break these into the aforementioned three sections.
The Rock Stage
Of course, he had bought AC/DC’s seminal 1980 “Back in Black” album, (and later owned copies of “Let There Be Rock” and “If You Want Blood…You Got It!” (an album title I always thought would have been better suited to Kiss or Alice Cooper) but I imagine you all know pretty much every song from that album, so I’ve plumped for this from their 1981 release, which pretty much sums up us at the time, the band, and how the start of tonight’s post is going to go:
Shortly after we moved into what became the family home throughout our childhood (mid-1970s), our parents converted a part of the loft into what they christened “The Playroom” – which was fine whilst we were kids, when it housed Andrew’s model train set and my Dr Who toys, but a little embarrassing, in the way that teenagers find everything embarrassing, when they would suggest we took any friends who called round up to The Playroom, which by our teens housed a sofa, a TV and a record player.
At first, the record player was one of those old ones, with the arm that came across and held your next record on the spindle whilst the current record played underneath. But soon, Andrew had saved enough cash up to purchase his first stereo system, one of those with a radio, twin tape deck, a space for records to be stored, a silver beast housed in a teak cabinet with a glass door to the front.
This next album made regular appearances on both turntables; I preferred the album’s title tracks, whilst Andrew always loved this one, ironically, I like to think, given he spent 20-odd years in the RAF:
Next, a song which he didn’t buy, but every time I hear it I am reminded of those formative years spent listening to records, and in particular one Thursday evening when we had been banished upstairs to watch Top of the Pops, on which this record appeared, and which led to the pair of us leaping up from the sofa and frantically playing air-guitar, in full on foot-on the monitor mode:
The reason I think I remember that is because it was probably a turning point, where we both admitted to liking the same records as each other. Up until then, we hated, or pretended to, each other’s musical choices – dammit, we pretended to hate each other (that’s what siblings did when they were that age, right?), having many a play fight which spilt over into full on physical violence, as the snooker cue that I broke over his back once attests (Look, he was bigger than me, I was fully entitled to come tooled up, okay?). As does the broken violin bow we had argued over a few years earlier when we had both found ourselves learning the instrument at Junior School. (I know, I know – fights involving violin bows: it’s not exactly “Angela’s Ashes”, is it…?)
(As an aside: my friends Hel and Llyr went to the Reading Festival in 2005 when Iron Maiden head-lined. They watched them, and afterwards reported that the section of the crowd they were in were distinctly non-plussed by the veteran rockers. Lead warbler Bruce Dickinson, attempting to whip the crowd up into a frenzy would call “Do you remember this one…?”; the crown responded as one “Nope!”)
Particularly indicative of our love/hate relationship came one Saturday night in, I guess, the early 80s. Saturday nights were a family night, which we would spend playing records from my Dad’s record collection. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, Dad’s taste is predominantly Country records, but there was/is diversity there: he likes a bit of jazz, some folk, some classical. There was a series of classical albums that he owned, a spin off from a BBC radio programme, called “The World of Your Hundred Best Tunes” (a name I toyed with giving this very blog, until I realised there may be copyright issues). We were categorically not allowed to bring our own records down to play. But my brother figured out a way round this, and got one song – a cover version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the next band from their “Difficult to Cure” album – played. So offended was I that he had been allowed to have one of his songs played, but I hadn’t (as I had no rock covers of classical records) I spent the entirety of the song under the dining room table, kicking and screaming about “how unfair” it was. (“So Unfair” was, I’m reliably informed, mostly anytime my parents watch any Harry Enfield sketch involving Kevin & Perry, practically my catchphrase when I was a teenager. This was just me warming up, I reckon)
Obviously, I’ve mellowed with age. But I’m still not playing “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince unless someone comes up with a bloody good reason to. And I mean bloody good.
Anyway, I’m not playing the Beethoven cover either; since they’re unlikely to feature again (more than once more) on these pages, I thought I’d plump for the big single from the same album:
Rainbow were, of course, one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Deep Purple, another band that we begrudgingly admitted to having a shared passion for back then. Again, Big Bro’s record collection featured several of their albums, but the first I recall seeing – and to this day, the only one I’ve ever purchased myself (Cheers Fopp (Cardiff branch) and your £2.00 shelf!) – was a compilation album called “Deepest Purple”, from which this one is lifted:
And you’ll be relieved to hear, that’s the end of the Rock Stage…
The Pop Phase
…and perhaps less relieved when you see what comes next.
Luckily for you, I’ve talked before – here – about the fact that we both mysteriously somehow came to own our own copies of Billy Joel’s “An innocent Man” album, so I’ll spare you that.
Ditto, I’ve previously posted – here – the two songs from Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” album, which he also owned that are any good (and I’m not going to post “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as it annoys me even more than the aforementioned “Summertime”)
But here’s a song by a band I’ve never really liked but – and I can say this without fear of correction, as he denies remembering anything from our childhood – I’m pretty sure Andrew joined the fan-club of:
Twins, see? And there were three of them. Pfffffft. Funny guys (and a girl). (They were named after the characters from the Tintin cartoons, as everyone knows – The Ed)
Moving swiftly on, to a song which I had completely forgotten about until Brian over at Linear Tracking Lives! posted it a month or so in his wonderful alphabetical trawl through his own record-buying history.
Lifted from her “The Drum is Everything”, much was expected of Carmel and her brand of smoky, jazzy pop, but she feel by the wayside shortly after this was released (although I did pick up one of the singles from the follow-up album, which I’ll feature soon enough, and which utterly tanked):
I should at this point talk about the records by groups like The Go-Go’s which he brought back from a summer in America staying with relatives, working on their blueberry farm. Instead, I’m going to post something from an album which contains another of my most disliked pop songs ever by another group I was fairly indifferent to for much of their existence, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see did have some decent pop tunes, particularly in their early 80s synth-pop phase.
But the album Andrew bought by Eurythmics – “Be Yourself Tonight” – does not come from that period. It comes from their just-after-the-synth-pop-phase, and from an album which brought their only UK Number 1, the aforementioned disliked pop song “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (It’s the over-singing that does my head in). The album spawned two other hits: “Would I Lie To You?”, which I posted recently, and this one, which I’d completely forgotten about until I came to write this, gave it a listen, and decided it’s not too bad at all:
But there was one band from his pop period who loomed large. I believe they were the first band he ever saw live (albeit supporting The Police), and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a band I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for too:
I don’t recall which of these albums first surfaced on The Playroom’s record decks (ha! like it was anyway near as cool in there as that sounds), what I do know is that a) I have recently bought both of these albums on vinyl myself, and b) shortly after The Jam album appeared I remember laughing at my brother for wearing white socks, the only mod accessory one could get away with at our school. Still, at least he didn’t steal them, of if he did, he wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Ahem.
But these were the first shoots of liking more credible records, for very soon, we were fully into stage three, where he has resided ever since.
The Road to Redemption
There’s only one place to start. The Alarm’s haircuts may have influenced his for many years afterwards, when he could get away with it, but it was the dress sense and image of one of the Sex Pistols that most captured his imagination. He was told many times that he looked like this sneerer, which I’m pretty sure always thrilled him, however indifferent he may have appeared to look.
It’s credited to Sex Pistols, but make no mistake, released in 1978 as the band were imploding, this is a Sid Vicious record in everything but name:
And so, with his black hair sprayed vertically, skinny black jeans with black studded belt and black winkle-pickers or occasionally cowboy boots (which, if memory serves, were brown when he bought them, unable to source a black pair, and which he spent several hours glossing over with a tub of Kiwi black polish and an oily rag), there was only one place he was going to go next:
He also bought the one and only album by this next lot, who I mention because I cannot hear it without thinking of the summer I spent as an underage drinker, hanging out with him and his mates Rob and Phil, driving round Cambridgeshire’s village pubs, where no-one knew our names, pubs like The Barnwell Mill, which had a massive juke box, and only one record they liked upon it. Once they realised that it didn’t differentiate between the same song having been selected twice by different people, they realised they could have hours of fun, by simply playing this, over and over and over and over and over again, often leaving after they’d heard it once, leaving the rest of the drinkers to sup their way through it another 17 times:
Gradually, our musical tastes have pretty much merged. At no time was this more apparent than when I was at Sixth Form, between 1986 and 1988. As I mentioned recently, on a nightly basis I found myself preparing mixtapes to play in the Sixth Form common room the following day, and there was one album which Andrew had bought which was invaluable for that. For he is the only person I know to have bought the legendary NME C86 album when it came out (admittedly, he bought the vinyl version, not the original cassette only version, but props are still due).
This band featured on the album in question, but not with this song, which he both realised we loved within the last few years, when discussing how much the much-missed The Long Blondes reminded us of them:
In 1997, our paths crossed back at our folks house, and, presumably after they’d gone to bed we were either playing records, or more likely watching a music TV channel, this came on. I’d not seen him so enthused for some years (actually, I’d probably not seen him for years), and he proclaimed this “the new punk”:
At which point, I’d better draw things to a close. If I don’t, it won’t be his birthday anymore by the time I post this.
So, one last one, by a band I remember him going to see towards the start of their career, and telling me afterwards how he’d been to see a band who used bashing-themselves-on- the-head-with-a-metal-tea-tray as a percussion instrument. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get an airing tomorrow night:
Happy Birthday Bro. See you tomorrow. I’ll bring the Jack Daniels.
And to the rest of you – well, as I’m away, it’ll be a little quiet around here for the next couple of days, certainly not as busy as it normally is of a weekend. If I have time to write them before I set off tomorrow, there will be a Late Night Stargazing and a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but no promises. Otherwise, The Chain will return on Monday, so you’ve got another couple of days to get your suggestions in if you haven’t done so already.