Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s a song that I bought on a now defunkt format: the cassingle.
I should make things clear: I didn’t buy this record on this format through choice, but because it was reduced in the bargain bin in Cardiff’s Our Price, which is also now defunkt.
A defunkt format from a defunkt store seems a pretty good place to start this series, I think.
I really love this record, from it’s blistering guitar riff to Hutchence’s zip-bursting vocal, most of which appears to be delivered through a megaphone. It’s a rip-snorting romp through all that’s great about pop music.
It’s probably the record that made me reassess my previously held (wrong) opinion about the Kick album, but it’s surprising – to me, anyway – how few people seem to know this tune. It’s one that seems to have somehow slipped under the radar.
Recently, Alexis Sayle sagely observed that Austerity is the idea that the 2008 financial crash was caused by Wolverhampton having too many libraries.
As we all know, libraries give us power. And this record, wisely, suggests that we don’t burn the libraries ’til we’ve read all the books.
I remember where I was when I first heard today’s band, if not this particular record.
It was in a mate’s bedroom, I was probably 15 or 16 and he played me something off their Listen Like Thieves album, but bookended by some stuff by Tangerine Dream.
I remember actively disliking Tangerine Dream, and I think that rubbed off on to today’s band.
There’s no other reason why I wouldn’t have turned a complete blind eye to the utter brilliance that is the Kick album, the follow up to Listen Like Thieves; I just had it in my head that I didn’t like them.
Fast forward a couple of years, and there’s me and my mate John driving into town. He’s done a mixtape, this is on it, he sings along wildly and is utterly baffled – and rightly so – by my lack of participation. “Don’t like it,” I shrug.
Time is not only a great healer, it’s also a great eroder of barriers, and so it was that a few years later, I had to admit that Kick is bloody great album, and this is one of the greatest singles from the 1980s.
I’ve posted this song before, about a year ago. Hopefully this time it won’t remind you of a tube being forced up Little Jez.
Back to my hospital exploits, and I should begin with a warning: this episode includes the reluctant return of ‘Little Jez’, and you should only read on if you are prepared for two great songs to be completely ruined by association to the little feller.
So, last time out, I had been summoned to go to A&E as soon as possible; it is not explicitly said that I am probably going to get admitted, but the inference is there. Despite this, I manage to pack nothing of any use in an overnight bag: no wash bag, no pyjamas, no phone charger, my ipod makes the cut but inexplicably my ipod charger does not.
I call Kay (my boss) to let her know what has happened and that I won’t be in work that day, but I decide not to call my parents until I know what they say at the hospital. No point in worrying them unnecessarily, I decide.
My phone pings: a message from my Mum asking how I’m doing. Well, that lasted a long time. I call her and fill her in the details of the call, and tell her I’ll let her know more as soon as I know.
The problem with the phrase “as soon as possible” is it’s a very subjective phrase, and my progress is severely hampered by my inability to move properly. I find I am unable to stand, and so fashion a mode of transport out of a sleeping bag, which I crawl onto and drag myself around my flat, attempting to get myself ready. I clean my teeth by reaching up to rinse my toothbrush under the cold tap, and spitting into the toilet bowl.
Unsurprisingly, it takes hours.
Finally, I’m ready to go, and I force myself to stand, despite the pain, and make my way downstairs to the street where I lean against a gate post and call an Uber.
About an hour later, I’m notifying reception of my arrival at A&E. I’m sent to a different desk, where I explain again why I’m here, and I can feel my phone vibrating in my pocket to notify me of a third missed call from the consultants who have asked me to come back in, and who are now wondering where I am (It is several hours now since I told them I’d be there asap.) I show this to the receptionist and explain that clearly I’m expected.
There seems to be some confusion about what is happening next. I overhear the receptionist making some calls: “No, he’s here…he’s been here a while…what do you want us to do with him?…Are you coming to get him…?”
An hour later, I am retrieved, taken to a little room where I strip to my underwear (at their request, I don’t just do that for fun), and I am pored over, poked and prodded. It is explained to me that the blood test shows that I am extremely likely to have a blood infection, but what isn’t clear is if this is as a result of my psoriasis, or something completely separate. I am told I am to be kept in overnight for further supervision and tests.
Shortly afterwards, I am wheeled onto a ward; I pass four nurses, deep in discussion, one of whom breaks off from their discussion to direct the porter pushing me where to put me, and to tell me they’ll be with me shortly. In place in my cubicle, I am provided with one of those attractive hospital smocks, which you do up at the back but which leave your arse exposed. It is not long before an exposed bottom is the least of my worries.
One of the nurses, a chap called James, accompanied by a student nurse, enters my cubicle, and tells me that a urine sample is needed and so they’ll be fitting a catheter. I react in much the same way as Joey from Friends when he learns of how they intend to cure him of his kidney stones:
“If they just want a urine sample,” I reason to James, “can I not just provide one rather than have the catheter fitted?”
He passes me a cardboard sample catcher, with a spout on one end, the sort the bed-ridden is provided with in the event of an emgerency evacuation. “Give it a go,” he says, “and I’ll check with the consultant.”
I have never tried to pee so hard in my life. Moments later, I have delivered a sizeable sample. James returns, picks up the sample and gives it a shake. “Not a bad amount,” he says, “but the consultant still wants me to give you a catheter.”
I feel duped, but resigned. “Does it hurt?” I sigh.
“We use a cooling gel as a lubricant,” James explains, “so it will feel a little odd but shouldn’t hurt.”
The curtains around my bed are drawn and James sets out a tray with various instruments on it that I dare not look at.
“Well, good luck with finding him. He’s terrified. I think he’s gone right back up,” I advise.
He sets to work, coaxing Little Jez out to make an appearance, explaining what he’s doing to the student nurse, who watches on intently over his shoulder. I try not to look or listen.
Moments later, it’s done. And he was right, I didn’t feel a thing.
And now, I am fitted with a tool which every man my age dreams of: a tool which means you no longer have to get up several times in the night, you can just pee where you lay, without it looking like a dirty protest.
In an effort to mentally deal with what has just happened, I appropriate my new accessory with a name, and I apologise now to anyone I know who has this name, but from now on whenever I hear this name I will think of a tube linking me to an ever-filling bag of piss first, and you second:
Today’s lesson: be Beck, and rope a load of your mates in to record tributes of certain albums you love. Record the whole thing in one day. Job’s a good ‘un.
Let me explain. Back in 2009, Beck set about his new project, Beck’s Record Club, the idea being that he would gather together an ever-changing group of musicians, charged with recording a new version of an entire classic album within 24 hours. Yes, it does sound like it has Nick Knowles written all over it, doesn’t it?
As far as I can establish, they got through five albums, all of which were download only for a short period of time (i.e. I can’t find them to download or purchase anywhere now – I’m happy to be corrected on this, of course!). Those five albums were: The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence’s Oar (nope, me neither), Yanni’s Yanni Live at the Acropolis (ditto), and INXS’s Kick.
The musician’s for the first four of those included Nigel Godrich (who is perhaps better known as a producer, particularly associated with Radiohead), Binki Shapiro (from Brazilian/American rock supergroup (it says here) Little Joy), Will Berman, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, Leslie Feist, all of Wilco, actor Giovanni Ribisi (Phoebe’s brother in Friends, Scarlett Johannsen’s mostly absent husband in Lost in Translation, to name just two places you’ll probably know him from), and Devendra Banhart and Thurston Moore, who I will assume need no further introduction.
As you can imagine, with the time constraints imposed, coupled with an ever-revolving line-up that would have made Mark E Smith jealous, the songs are often a tad on the ramshackle side, including much of the album today’s choice is taken from.
But not this track. Featuring Anne Clark on vocals, who is now much better know these days as St Vincent, this is their take on Never Tear Us Apart: