Late Night Stargazing

Apologies that it’s been a bit quiet round these parts this week, another case of life catching up with me and me having other stuff which needed to be done.

I’m at an old friend’s wedding back in Cardiff this weekend, and I’ve not had chance to write much in advance. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Anyway, this week, I was made to feel very old indeed when I learned that it is now 15 years since Doves released their “The Last Broadcast” album. Ouch.

Here’s the gorgeous closing track from it:

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Doves – Caught by the River

More soon.

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Late Night Stargazing

On Friday night, I thought I’d make some popcorn, dim the lights and watch a movie. I have quite a collection of DVDs, gathering dust now with the event of Netflix, so I decided to watch one that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, the second best comedy zombie movie ever: “Zombieland“.

Obviously, “Shaun of the Dead” is the best, but turn on ITV2 any night of the week and you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing that, assuming they aren’t showing “About a Boy” again.

Anyway: “Zombieland” stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone – who would probably get loads more work if Mila Kunis didn’t already exist – and Abigail Breslin as¬†four survivors of a zombie apocalypse in America, and their journey across country, each trying to reach a different destination, and of course the many undead-based scrapes they get into.

It also features one of the finest cameo appearances by…well, if you haven’t seen it I’m not going to spoil it.

The reason I mention this is because it has rather a fine soundtrack, including tracks by Willie Nelson, The Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, Mozart, The Black Keys…you know, the sort of wide range of stuff that gets suggested over at The Chain.

And there’s one other band on there, who I had completely forgotten featured from the couple of times I watched it. As the gang drive into a desolate Los Angeles, this song fades in:

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Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Doves: Mighty, majestic, much missed, more soon.

The Chain #20

A warm welcome to all the Chain Gang for the latest instalment in…erm…well, The Chain, obviously.

It seems you’ve decided to take it easy on me this week, with, at the time I’m starting to write this, just the 16 suggestions (plus mine) received. So far. Can’t rule out the occasional late arrival though.

So to recap: we ended last week with The Smiths ‚ÄúRusholme Ruffians/His Latest Flame (Medley)‚ÄĚ, and of course we were looking for your suggestions for records which can be linked to that.

Now you know the score by now: at this point I would normally simply go through the list of suggestions, in the order that I received them, until we get to the end, I suggest mine, reveal what the actual link from the official BBC The Chain is, and invite your links to that ready for next week.

This week, however, I’m going to mix it up a little bit, because, well frankly, the last suggestion I received simply has to be first.

Here’s George to explain:

“I‚Äôve got a link to Ant and Dec‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ..”

Is it just me, or has it suddenly got very cold in here?

“In The Smiths the drummer was Andy Rourke. PJ O‚ÄôRourke is an American journalist‚Ķ‚Ķ..and PJ and Duncan were in Byker Grove (not actually filmed in Byker) and they released a few singles, for example ‘Lets Get Ready to Rumble’ And PJ and Duncan are better known (according to my partner) as Ant and Dec!”

I love the double disclaimer in George’s suggestion, not just the “according to my partner” bit, but also spelling Rumble in the way he has, instead of the way that we all know it was actually spelt on that legendary single. Like this:

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PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble

Fear not. That’s not the last we’ve heard of from George this week. And I should stress, his suggestions get better, not worse.

So, to The Swede, of Unthought of, though, somehow with a short, but sweet, suggestion:

“From Smith to Jones ‚Äď Meilyr Jones with the terrific ‚ÄėHow to Recognise a Work of Art‚Äô.”

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Meilyr Jones – How To Recognise A Work Of Art

If you don’t know that record – as I didn’t until The Swede suggested it and I went a-huntin’ – I would heartily recommend you give it a go. It reminds me of My Life Story crossed with Johnny Boy’s “You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes”, and if that doesn’t tempt you, then I don’t know what will. In fact, if I can go all Victor Kiam for a moment, I liked it so much I’ve gone and got me the album, 2013, too. So, y’know, cheers Swede!

Anyway, back to business. Here’s babylotti:

“Mint Royale released a single called ‚ÄėFrom Rusholme with Love‚Äô, one of their most well known tracks is ‚ÄėSexiest man in Jamaica‚Äô, not many know the sample was lifted from a live Selecter album with Prince Buster introducing the song in his own humble way, so I suggest that song: The Selecter ft Prince Buster, Rough Rider”

I just confess, I’d often wondered where that sample was lifted from. Cheers for enlightening me.

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The Selecter feat. Prince Buster – Rough Rider (Live)

In case you don’t know the Mint Royale tune babylotti refers to, it’s this:

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Mint Royale – Sexiest Man In Jamaica

And before we go any further, it would be improper not to doff a cap, raise a glass, or show respect in whatever way you think is appropriate, to the now late, always great Prince Buster who passed away last week.

Look out, here come George again.

“I‚Äôve got a link involving Mick Hucknall‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ..”

No, it’s definitely got colder again.

“Johnny Marr of The Smiths was born in Manchester as was Mick Hucknall‚Ķ.(wait, it gets better) and Mick Hucknall recorded a trbute album of songs of Bobby “Blue” Bland (I promise you it gets better very soon‚Ķ‚Ķ), for which Mr Hucknall was fortunate not to be sent to prison, and amongst the many fine songs recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland is one from his R&B era, ‘Little Boy Blue’ (which is my favourite of all his songs).”

Judge for yourselves, Chain Gangers.

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Bobby “Blue” Bland  – Little Boy Blue

Better than his first suggestion, no? And at least it isn’t an actual record by the Tiffany-from-EastEnders’ vomit covered singer (look it up).

Ok, here’s SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“So Rusholme, Google tells me, is in Manchester. The Smiths also famously put Strangeways on their album sleeves which is also in Manchester. The Mull Historical Society also sang about Strangeways in their minor classic ‚ÄėStrangeways Inside‚Äô”

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Mull Historical Society – Strangeways Inside

That’s an album I’ve owned for ages but have never really got into. You’d think having seen them, albeit on the main stage at Glastonbury, on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon, when I was too mashed to move having over-done the space cakes would endear them to me, wouldn’t you?

“Or just post Sackville by the Carpets” continues SWC.

That’s more like it!

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Inspiral Carpets – Sackville

We are now about to go fully Manc.

I’ll hand you over to Badger (also of When You Can’t Remember Anything) for the next link:

“Taking the Manchester thing that my esteemed colleague SWC mentioned and twisting it slightly by introducing ‚ÄėShadows of Salford‚Äô by Doves”

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Doves – Shadows of Salford

“But‚Ķ” Badger continues, “Manchester is linked to Liverpool via a motorway. If you turn off that motorway near the end you end up near ‚ÄėNew brighton‚Äô. Which has a promenade famously sung about by The Boo Radleys.

Well, it certainly has a promenade The Boo Radleys sang about. Famously, though….?:

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The Boo Radleys – New Brighton Promenade

You’ll recall that last week Swiss Adam from baggingarea managed to correctly guess the next song in the official chain. Let’s see if he can manage it again this week, shall we?

“To jump on Badger‚Äôs suggestion, Doves also had M62 Song which handily links Manchester and Liverpool westwards”.

No, he can’t, is the short answer.

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Doves – M62 Song

“I love all this talk of the M62” proffers The Great Gog. “It‚Äôs Immaterial started off in Liverpool and hypothesised about heading out to Manchester on Driving Away From Home (Jim‚Äôs Tune). ‚Äď ‚Äúit‚Äôs only 39 miles and 45 minutes‚Ķand that‚Äôs my birthplace you know‚ÄĚ. Mine too!”

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It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)

One of my favourite records ever, that. I remember seeing them perform it on Top of The Pops back in 1986 and incredulously thinking: “What on earth is that??”

It’s a cracking anecdote, that, isn’t it?

“An alternative would be that in Rusholme Ruffians,” The Great Gog continues, “Morrissey makes reference to a speedway operator. The word speedway to me and many other Mancunians of my age evokes memories of the great Belle Vue Aces team of the 1970s, so perhaps a spot of Kathleen Edwards and ‚Äú12 Bellevue‚ÄĚ would be in order.”

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Kathleen Edwards – 12 Bellevue

This is where I piggy-back on The Great Gog’s idea. I made two semi-suggestions myself, both of which stem from his. The first was “Speedway” by Morrissey, but it seems a bit lame to link a record by The Smiths to a record by Morrissey, so I’ll scrub that.

However, I’m sticking with this absolute corker:

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Miaow – Belle Vue

Now then. We have an announcement. Regular Chain Ganger What’s It All About, Alfie? isn’t a spy at all, as we’d all suspected from her reluctance to divulge her name. No: it transpires that she has a name, and lo! It is Alyson.

Here’s her suggestion:

“Coming from the far north I get my English place names a bit muddled and in my head I got Rusholme and Rushden mixed up. I seem to remember when listening to football results being read out on a Saturday that there was a team called Rushden & Diamonds. Got me, in a very round about way, to thinking about the sadly missed Prince and one of my favourite songs from him ‚Äď Diamonds & Pearls.”

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Prince & the New Power Generation – Diamonds and Pearls

Now, on to my remaining suggestions. I have to admit I was struggling a bit this week, figuring that most of you would go with links to The Smiths, to Rusholme, to Rank, but that very few of you would come up with anything linked to Ruffians. So, I flicked through my thesaurus (which I really should refer to again to come up with some alternatives for the word “suggestions”) which proffered the word “Barbarian”. Which leads me to this:

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Voice of the Beehive – There’s A Barbarian In The Back Of My Car

And I was going to leave it there, but I happened to notice for the first time that that was co-written by 1980s grebo Zodiac Mindwarp, which leads me to this:

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Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – Prime Mover (Automatic Cannibal Mix)

Look out, George is back, and he’s taking the starting point for his third and final suggestion (which was actually his first…confusing doing this in a random order, innit?) as the album that The Smiths ‚ÄúRusholme Ruffians/His Latest Flame (Medley)‚ÄĚ is lifted from, Rank, and links it:

“…to J Arthur Rank (the British film producer) then using rhyming slang (‚ÄúI‚Äôm just off for a ‚ÄúJ Arthur‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a spot of one-handed lovemaking) to end with The Vapors song Turning Japanese, a song allegedly about Onanism ‚Äď but the writer says that this is wrong.”

I have to say I’m rather disappointed if that’s the case. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve told that is what the song’s about. Gah! Egg all over my face!

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The Vapors – Turning Japanese

Here comes Charity Chic:

“Staying on the ranking theme can I have the greatest one hit wonder of all time and a song which I think has featured on this series before (It hasn’t, or rather if it did, I forgot to tag it, although it has featured on this blog fairly recently – Ed.): Uptown Top Ranking by Althea and Donna.”

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Althea & Donna – Uptown Top Ranking

“If there is a rule about songs not featuring twice,” CC continues – there isn’t but I think we should perhaps introduce that rule now. Don’t want to make things too easy for me, now do you? –  “Ranking Full Stop by The Beat please.”

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The Beat – Ranking Full Stop

Time for the last of the suggestions, and I’ll hand over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad, who, rather annoyingly from my perspective, has a good memory:

“Well, you did lay down the challenge, so‚Ķ The Smiths obviously links to Will Smith, who was half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, and thereby had a hit with ‚ÄúSummertime‚ÄĚ. You really should listen to your friends when they tell you it‚Äôs one of the two greatest records with ‚Äúsummer‚ÄĚ in the title.”

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DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – Summertime

I remain unbowed. I’m not saying it’s a bad record (although I have probably said that at one time or another). I’m just saying that if I have to pick my favourite two songs with the word “summer” in the title, I’m going for “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone and “Here Comes The Summer” by The Undertones every time. But each to his/her own, and all that.

And that’s the end of that, and you probably will have noticed that normality has been restored, and there’s been no  correct guesses as to the official link this week. As usual, that’s because your suggestions are all really good, and as usual, the official one is ever so slightly underwhelming:

“Another famous ‘Smith’ is Cure frontman Robert…”

The song, on the other hand, is terrific. But you already knew that, right?

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20. The Cure – In Between Days

And that’s it for another week. I would think most of you know what to do now, but we’re having a few more visitors to these shores recently, so I’ll recap: send me your suggestions for songs that you can link to The Cure’s “In Between Days”, along with a description of how you have got to your suggestion, via the Comments section below. All suggestions welcome.

See you all same time, same place, next week.

Oh, and more soon, obviously.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For…. (Part 3)

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Mention Glastonbury to anyone who’s never been, and they will say one or both of the following two things:

1) they will make some reference to you, and everyone else who has ever been to Glastonbury, being a drug taking hippy,

2) they will say something about how crappy the weather always is.

Neither of these things are, of course, entirely true.

You may have noticed that in my last two posts, whilst I haven’t exactly banished the spectre of Glastonbury as¬†a haven for spliff-puffing,¬†pill popping¬†longhairs (it isn’t, though there is a fair bit of hippyness going on)¬†I have tried to shy away from mentioning the weather, partly because it’s so damned predictably English to talk about the weather, but mostly because on the whole it wasn’t too bad in 2003 and 2004.

In fact, I came away from Glastonbury 2004 with quite the tan, mostly because I’d lost my cap on pretty much the first day, and hadn’t bothered applying any sun cream for the rest of the weekend.¬†On my first day back in work afterwards, I was met with a couple of “Fucking hell, where did you go on holiday?”s, although this was probably because my bald bonce had burned so badly I was quite literally able to peel a whole layer of skin off in one go, leaving me with what appeared to be a swimming cap made of my own skin, like some macabre tribute to Duncan Goodhew made by Hannibal Lecter.

So that was the look I was rocking post Glasto 2004:¬†draw a line through the middle of my forehead and I was bright sore¬†pink above it and¬†tanned brown below.¬†I must have looked like I was going to a fancy dress party, had taken it waaaaay too seriously, and was going as a¬†Big Dog’s Cock.

But I digress. There’s really no getting away from it, the weather at Glastonbury 2005 was terrible. We (a considerably smaller posse this time, but I really have lost track of who was there this year) arrived on the Wednesday of our hat-trick year, pitched up and wandered round, and the weather was gorgeous, no sign at all of the quite literal storms to come. This continued through Thursday, and by Thursday evening we were all beginning to believe that we were about to experience that most rare of things: a sunny Glastonbury festival.

No such luck. On Thursday night/Friday morning, the rain came down. And down. And down. Camp sites were flooded, tents and their belongings swept away. Proceedings at the Pyramid were delayed starting due to flooding, with the first two acts, Adj√°gas, and The Subways having to bow to the storm and the threat of electrocution.

When I was researching (alright, trying to jog my memory) about the 2005 festival, I came across this on YouTube, footage taken by a festival goer showing before, during and after the storm. It kinda has the feeling of one of those camcorder horror films¬†like Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that were all the rage a few years ago; for the 1:40 seconds at the start you just know something terrible is going to happen and then…boom!

Still, at least there wasn’t a repeat of the Infamous 1998 Flooded Dance Tent Incident….You couldn’t make that…er…shit up.

But something happens when the Glastonbury Festival is hit by extreme weather. All the festival goers seem to come together in defiance, determined to have a good time no matter what the skies may throw at them, and assuming that your tents survived the deluge that’s about all you can do: chuck a waterproof on, decide “Aww, fuck it”, neck some scrumpy, and soldier on. That’s British Bulldog Blitz Bravado, right there.

Anyway, tracking down footage of some of the acts playing in 2005 proved rather difficult, presumably because most of the TV companies covering the event decided to follow the example of the Pyramid on Friday morning and elected not to risk electrocution by filming much bar the headliners.

As a result, I have nothing to offer you in respect of Editors on The Other Stage on the Friday morning, after which we trudged over to the newly named John Peel Stage to catch Maximo Park. We didn’t manage to see them, but we did manage to stand outside the rammed tent and hear them, a bit. You can get a better idea of how they were here.

Next it was over to The Pyramid to see the legend that is Elvis Costello. Sometime in the late 1980s I’d picked up a copy of his “The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)” album. This was back in the days when people released a “Best Of..” album when they had established themselves, and had a wide body of work to choose from and show off about, rather than after two or three albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in to sucker you into buying it. I’m with Dave Gorman on this one. (Hopefully, that link should take you to a rather brilliant analysis of the content of Scouting For Girls’ Greatest Hits album. Scroll up to the start of the chapter if it works. If it doesn’t, then buy the book from which it’s lifted “Too Much Information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think” here)

It would seem that the British Bulldog Blitz Bravado spirit hadn’t quite kicked in yet; much as I loved his set, Elvis went on record saying it was “fucking dreadful”¬†and pledged never to play in the UK again¬†(a threat he has, thankfully, reneged on since, returning to the festival in 2013, sporting, it has to be said, a rather natty hat)

Here’s him doing sticky Valentine¬†unrequited love classic Alison, and segueing into something by some other chap also called Elvis. Not sure what happened to him.

Next up, Doves. Not much to say here, other than I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Their slightly brooding but captivating sound certainly seemed to sum up how everyone was feeling as the weather resolutely refused to improve.

Next, The Killers. Promoting their first album, the aptly titled Hot Fuss, they were much anticipated by all that had not yet seen them. I, and most of our gang, being super-cool indie kids,¬†had already seen them, headlining¬†the NME Awards Tour earlier that year, with support from (and get this): Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and Kaiser Chiefs. Now THAT’S a line-up.

We’d decided they were okay enough to warrant us sticking¬†around and to watch them again, though this decision had more to do with the mud underfoot and the fact that The White Stripes were on next as headliners than any particular desire to watch The Killers again. That said, they put on a pretty good show, opening with my personal favourite by them, Somebody Told Me, followed by Jenny Was A Friend of Mine¬†(a song which, to this day, my friends and I are unable to say the title of without doing it in that ridiculous yelp Brandon Flowers does when introducing it here), before rounding off things with the song that has perhaps the most cringe-worthy rhyming couplet ever in it All These Things That I Have Done¬†The reaction of people to this song baffles me to this day, all eyes closed, hands and lighters in the air like it actually means something. I’m with Bill Bailey on this one.

Much like Adam Buxton in Commentary Corner, I can’t resist looking at the comments left under a clip on YouTube, and some of the screaming outrage on show under the clip of Mr Bailey, left¬†by Killers fans, is the internet version of those earnestly singing along to utter claptrap. Like Daniel Pacheco, for example, who says “The phrase in context of the song makes perfect sense. Hell even taken out of context it makes perfect sense. Bill Bailey is obviously retarded”. Well, no, Daniel, it does not, and I note that you haven’t actually gone as far as to explain why you think it makes sense. I would challenge him to expand on his theory via the YouTube comments, but I won’t, partly because I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing, but mostly because I’m not a masturbating fourteen year old. Sighs…I wish….

Anyway, The White Stripes are next, and they do their thing, which is Jack tossing off some awesome riffs whilst Meg just twats the fuck out of her drums, the two seemingly bearing no relation to each other, yet somehow working brilliantly at the same time. We get every White Stripes song you could wish for: Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, My Doorbell, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and, of course, Seven Nation Army¬†to name but a few that anyone has actually heard of.

So ended Friday, and off to our tents we all trudged (eventually), hoping Saturday would be a little drier.

It was, but not much. No more floods, thankfully, but still not exactly flip-flop weather.

My day was spent flitting between The Other Stage and The Pyramid. Apparently Goldie Lookin’ Chain played The Pyramid on Saturday morning, and a tiny part of me wonders if this is where my confusion with them playing in 2004 comes from, but a larger part of me remains fairly sure the line up was as I remember. Anyway, I couldn’t find any footage of them in 2005, so I guess I’ll never know.

Next up: Kaiser Chiefs. As already mentioned, we’d caught them on the NME Tour earlier that year, and until that night I’d been totally non-plussed by everything I’d heard from them. But that night they completely blew me away: they were first on the bill, started their set off with a blistering rendition of¬† “Na Na Na Na Na”, took no prisoners after that, and to my mind utterly upstaged all the acts that came after them.

Their set at Glastonbury followed pretty much the same pattern, and whilst The Pyramid Stage is a¬†rather different proposition to Cardiff University’s Great Hall, they still were pretty darn good. Here’s two out¬†of the three of their early singles that have the trademark¬†“Whooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh” in them: Oh My God and, of course, I Predict a Riot.

Next on The Pyramid, Ash. It’s incredible to think that they were still in their late-twenties by 2005; they seemed to have been around for ever, churning out indie classic after indie classic for ten years or so. They don’t need any more introduction, so here’s A Life Less Ordinary and Burn Baby Burn.

Back over to The Other Stage now for the obligatory Echo & The Bunnymen set, The Killing Moon being an obvious high-light, closely followed by Interpol.

Interpol are one of those bands that seemed to have made¬†one awesome album (Antics, for the record) and several kind of okay ones. Luckily, they were promoting said album in 2005, so we got Slow Hands and Evil (I’ve never seen them since, but I imagine they’re staples of every set).

Who’s on next? Wait…is that….Fuck, run!! Head for the hills!! It’s Kasabian!!!

Luckily, over at The Pyramid there was New Order, back in the days when they were still speaking to each other, kind of, occasionally, if they had to. This was a proper tear through their back catalogue, plus a couple from their slightly iffy new album, so we got some Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, of course), some classic New Order (Temptation) and Keith Bloody Allen, coming onstage riding a pantomime horse,¬†comic genius that¬†he is,¬†so he could¬†“join in” on World In Motion.

Choice of Saturday night headliners had been a bit of a quandary for me this year. 90% of our group elected to watch Razorlight on The Other Stage; promoting their one half decent album (Up All Night) they were probably the wise choice. However, one of the group really wanted to go to The Pyramid and watch…Coldplay. Somewhat bashful after how rude I was to the girl the previous year who wanted to watch Muse rather¬†than Orbital, I think I decided I needed to do something to¬†sort my karma out (now there’s some hippy bullshit, right there).

So, I volunteered – yes, volunteered!! – to go watch Coldplay with my buddy. Now that’s friendship.

They couldn’t be that bad, now could they? I reasoned.

Oh, but yes they could.

I can honestly say that I have never been so deathly bored at a gig in all my life. The one highlight, if you can call it that, was their cover of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, played as attribute to Kylie, who had to pull out of doing the headline slot on Sunday due to fairly well-publicised health problems.

Needless to say, they turn one of the finest pop records of the 21st century into a dull dirge. Oh and Chris, don’t give up the day job for comedy.

People, if you buy Coldplay records, CDs or MP3s, or go to their gigs, or buy their¬†T-shirts, then please stop. You’re just encouraging the morose posho dullards.

Sunday arrived, and the weather didn’t seem to be showing any sign of improvement. And then Brian Wilson played The Pyramid, and suddenly everything was alright with the world, for,¬†just like¬†during Belle & Sebastian’s set the year before, the sun suddenly came out to play, only this time we had Surfin’ USA, California Girls and a whole host of other Beach Boy-tastic tunes rather than wry Scottish indie pop songs about someone called Judy dreaming about horses to celebrate to. I have deliberately not posted a link to film footage of the set, partly because I again¬†struggled to find much of decent quality, but mostly because if I had, you would have to watch Brian looking…well, let’s just say he didn’t really seem to be fully aware of where he was, what was going on, and what he was doing, for the majority of the set. But no matter, Glastonbury loved him for bringing the California sun with him.

Next up: Garbage. I don’t mind a bit of Garbage, and actually met lead singer Shirley Manson many years ago when she was backing singer in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (CLANG! – the sound of a name drop there). Actually, she won’t remember it (nor should she) and I certainly don’t. I’ll explain this some other time. Needless to say, there is no gossip for you to get your teeth into.

Garbage were here in support of their fourth album, “Bleed Like Me”; an album that I would struggle and fail to name a single song from, much the same as with their third album, whatever that was called. Thankfully, they knew what to do in a festival atmosphere, so we got the decent singles from their first two (good) albums: Stupid Girl, Push It, and the apt-if-only-you’d-been-on-stage-a-couple-of-hours-earlier Only Happen When It Rains

Next: Primal Scream. I love a bit of Gillespie, Innes and Co., and now the sun was out, and about to go down again, I, along with probably about 85% of the rest of the crowd wanted a set of sunny-Screamedlica songs to compliment our new found joy and dryness. The signs were good when the into music was the chorus of the single version of “Come Together”, but The Scream don’t really “do” what you expect, so instead of summery dance records, we got their Kraut-rock set, which was fine, they were still fantastic, just not what most of wanted, I think.¬†They started by launching¬†into a blistering version of Accelerator¬†before ending up with Movin’ On Up¬†via Swastika Eyes¬†.

I say “ending up”, but anyone who was there, or watched it on television, will know that their set didn’t end after Movin’ On Up. Well not straight afterwards. Bobby was clearly not impressed that Basement Jaxx were now headlining the Sunday night in place of Kylie, and decided that he wanted to a) berate the crowd, and b)¬†play another song. Some of his taunts are just priceless (“Do you wanna dance? Yeh?? Well you should’ve been here fifteen fucking years ago”). This, I have decided, was definitely¬†aimed at me and the rest of the Screamadelica crowd. He had a point.

So, on to Basement Jaxx. You’ll recall that many of my fellow festivalees had chosen them over Paul McCartney¬†the previous¬†year, and whilst I have no regrets about seeing the former mop-top, I have to admit the Jaxx were incredible, giving Glastonbury the dance Bobby refused to and Kylie would have done.

Again, for some reason, footage seems to be in short supply; here’s U Don’t Know Me¬†from Glastonbury, and Oh My Gosh, which isn’t, despite it being the first time I ever heard it, and it became possibly my favourite song by Basement Jaxx.

Oh My Gosh was a new track on Basement Jaxx’s “The Singles” album. Which I bought. What does that say about me, Mr Gorman?

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For… (Part 1)

glastonbury

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 Got Manners“. 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:

The Darkness – Get Your Hands Off My Woman

Inspiral Carpets – She Comes in The Fall

Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts For Ever

De La Soul – Eye Know

Jimmy Cliff – Wonderful World, Beautiful People

R.E.M.- Little America

The Polyphonic Spree – Section 09 (Light & Day – Reach For The Sun)

The Flaming Lips – Race for the Prize (remix)

Radiohead – There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere)

Roddy Frame – This Boy Wonders (live at Ronnie Scott’s)

Grandaddy – On Standby

Doves – Pounding

As always, if you like ’em, go buy ’em. You don’t need me to tell you where from.

More soon.