Friday Night Music Club

I was beginning to think this mix was jinxed.

I’ll explain, with some back story.

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:

Friday Night Music Club (Volume 4)

I hope you have as much fun listening to this as much as I had putting it together. And I found it utterly frustrating, so you’d better.

Oh, and it ain’t over ’til the fat bloke sings.

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

For many years, before I got into “proper” clubbing – far too late, I know, I know – my idea of going clubbing on a Saturday night meant going to an indie club.

To be honest, things have come pretty much full circle for me now; I’m far too old to go clubbing at all now, but on the odd occasion that I do, it’s far more likely to be to an indie club than a bass-pumping house music chugging one.

When I first lived in Cardiff, that would mean going to Subways – nothing to do with sandwiches, feel free to insert your own joke about having a foot-long here if you so choose to do – a subterranean bar with a tiny dance floor which had a pillar plonked right in the middle of it, which was as renowned for the toilets flooding as it was for the music it played.

Subways closed in the early 1990s, which pretty much left either Clwb Ifor Bach (or The Welsh Club as it was colloquially know to non-native speakers such as I), or, more often, Metros as your bona fide alternative music venue.

Like Subways, Metros was also an underground club in the very literal sense of the term, but was a much bigger beast than Subways had ever been. And for a year or so, I managed to get in free, thanks to some friends of mine.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, I used to drink regularly in a pub called The Tut ‘n’ Shive on City Road in Cardiff. Now demolished, I loved that pub like no other, and usually spent two or three nights a week in there, and both nights (and often days) at the weekends.

Consequentially, I was on first name terms with the bar staff, the landlady, and many of the regulars. It was the closest I ever came to being part of a bar like in Cheers; I can count on one finger the amount of times I went in there and didn’t know anybody. Truly, everybody knew my name (and sometimes, I could remember theirs).

One Saturday night, one of the bar staff – a lad called Dave, who since he also had a shaved head and glasses, was often asked if we were related, and vice versa – approached me and told me that he and the rest of the staff were going to Metros after work, and I’d be more than welcome to come along too if I wanted to. Dave and I had become friendly over the years I spent drinking there, and whilst we haven’t really been in touch for a few years now – since I left Cardiff, just over ten years ago – for a few years we were pretty good mates.

Anyway, I’d had a few by chucking-out time, and whilst my mind and body quite fancied the idea of carrying on into the wee small hours, my wallet was less enthusiastic. Not a problem, Dave advised me, for they had a deal with the club: staff from The Tut get in for free. All I had to do was not appear too pissed, pretend to work at the pub, and I’d be in.

And so off we traipsed, after they’d finished all the wiping down of tables and mopping of floors. It was about a 10 minute walk into town, during which time I sobered up enough to seem, I thought, inconspicuous when trying to get passed the bouncers.

Although, one did stop me, and tried to get me to pay.

“But I work at The Tut, with these guys,” I protested, puffing my chest out in faux-indignation, trying to appear taller and bulkier than I really was.

“Oh really. I’ve never seen you with them before,” said the shaved ape. “What’s the name of the landlord?”

A trick question. “Well, it’s Keith’s name over the door,” I replied, “but he doesn’t have much to do with the day-to-day running of the pub, not since…oh, you know…” (Legend had it that Keith had been beaten up by some ne’er do wells he’d been ejecting from the pub years ago; he now walked with a limp, assisted by a walking stick) “…so his missus Debs runs the show these days…”

Being a regular in a pub certainly pays off sometimes: “In you go then.”

The DJ at Metros had a playlist not dissimilar to what I tried to do years before when I DJ’d at Uni: anything indie-ish could get played, and he/I would try to encompass as many different sub-genres as possible. He wasn’t bothered whether one song sounded good next to the preceding one, his ony concern was getting people to dance for as long as possible, and work up enough of a thirst to spend money at the bar. And because the club was underground, it was always ridiculously hot; sweat would vaporise, collect and solidify on the ceiling and then drip back down on you.

But the fun of this approach, as a punter, was that you never really knew what would come next. One night I remember channeling childhood country dancing lessons along to The Proclaimers one minute, then wafting imaginary puffs of dry ice to The Sisters of Mercy the next.

And here’s the best thing about Metros, something I’ve never encountered in any club before or since: open until 4am, at around 2am they would start serving free toast. No, not a euphemism or code word for some kind of interesting drug: actual toast.

It was here that I danced to hip hop for the first time, if you can call it dancing. It was to a tune which the DJ would often drop, but which I nor anyone I knew, recognised.

Asking the DJ what a particular tune was equals a definite no-no at Metros, as I found out.

“‘Scuse me mate,” I once ventured, “what’s this tune you’re playing now?”

The enquiry brought a withering look from the man behind the decks.

“Fuck off” was the response.

For whilst he liked playing a wide-ranging spectrum of indie-esque tunes, he didn’t like people knowing what they were. Knowledge is power, and all that.

And so it was that, in those pre-Google days, it wasn’t until many years later that I found out what that hip-hop tune I liked enough to dance to was.

And of course, it was Llŷr who cast light into that particular shadowy corner for me.

“Do you mean this?” he said, after he let me pathetically attempt to describe (and, if memory serves, beatbox) it to him:

concrete

Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard

More soon. I’m off for some toast.