Friday Night Music Club

Tonight, in a week where confessions are back in vogue, even if they’re not entirely sincere, some answers for you.

Chiefly: what exactly was I up to at the end of last year when I didn’t post anything for a couple of months?

Well, for a start, I definitely wasn’t attending a jolly at Downing Street. Oh no. But if I was, I reckon I’d be able to identify it as a jolly, and not claim to have thought it was a working meeting. For a start, in either case, what the hell would I be doing there? I have no idea how to govern a country…..oh. Fair point.

Long time readers will recall that I moved house at the start of October, out of That London to the glorious environment that is Peterborough (I’m currently reading comedian and actor Miles Jupp’s hilarious Fibber in the Heat which contains this description of Indian city Nagpur: All that I can say about it at first glance is that it was like an Indian version of Crewe or Peterborough – somewhere that you would only really visit deliberately if you were hoping to experience the sensation of changing trains which made me laugh a lot) and me and my conscience couldn’t square off writing bloggy things when I really should be unpacking and sorting my new home out. So I set myself a rule: no more blogging until I’ve got my new place sorted.

What this failed to take into account was a) how lazy I am, and b) how much I like to take drink on a Friday night, which is when I usually write most of my posts. Yes, that means that much of what you read here has been prepared when I’m if not drunk, then I’m very much on the way. Which may explain some of the choices I’ve made about what I think is a good idea to write about.

To get round this self-imposed embargo, Friday nights were spent putting together a new playlist, the idea being that it would trumpet my return to the blogging arena. But it turns out, I’m a man who needs a deadline, for the playlist in question grew and grew and grew and got tweaked and rearranged every Friday night until eventually I had a mixed set I was pretty happy with.

The only problem was that it was over 6 hours long, at which point I took on board a previous comment from Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area once left for me: “I enjoy doing long mixes too but sometimes wonder whether people have the time to commit to listening to them.”

Which is an absolutely fair point; the mixes I do are meant to accompany a stay-at-home-Friday-night, but I also very much appreciate that 6 hours is a) a lot of time to invest in a playlist poorly mixed by a drunken oaf, b) a lot of time to be drinking at home (you lightweights), and c) I’m up against some stiff competition, what with every celebrity in the world doing some podcast about puddings they like or favourite trousers they once owned or some such.

So, I’ve split said mix down into six constituent parts, all around a much more manageable hour (or so) long each. If you’ve downloaded previous playlists, they should still work as a whole, whilst also working as an individual mix in its own right.

Tonight, the first part, which is probably the most disparate of the lot. A good chunk of it is very pop, but before we get there, we go a little bit crusty, and also tip a hat at a feature JC briefly did over at The Vinyl Villain, where for a short time he featured bands who never quite made the grade, and which he called – quite brilliantly and appropriately – “Indie Landfill”.

Whilst I was disappointed when JC called a halt to this series, I understood where he was coming from in doing so. In his book 31 Songs, Nick Hornby talks about how it’s so much easier to write about records you don’t like than explain what it is about songs you do. JC’s justification was that it was all a bit too negative for a blog about records he loves, which is absolutely fair enough.

But I thought the Indie Landfill idea was something someone could have a lot of fun with, so I did toy with the idea of asking JC if I could take over the series, but then remembered that about five years ago I promised him I’d contribute something about The Wonder Stuff for his wonderful ICA (Imaginary Compilation Album) series which I never delivered on, so decided against it. JC, if you’re reading this, the offer’s there. There are three consecutive candidates for inclusion towards the start of this mix. You’ll spot them, I’m sure.

So, on to tonight’s mix, the first in a series of six which I’ll post over the next six weeks, and, assuming I’ve done more in the meantime, I’ll continue afterwards.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me.

One thing to add: the first record in this mix got added at the last minute. I’ve not had time to write a piece about the brilliance that was Ronnie Spector, who passed away this week, so I figured I’d honour her by letting her most famous record kick this mammoth playlist off. This does not mean I now like the film Dirty Dancing, which remains the source of my most embarrassing moment.

And in any event, Swiss Adam has put it far better than I ever could, here.

Ladies and Gentleman, listen to this and raise a glass to Ronnie:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.1

And here’s the track listing (and I should explain – the third track: I’m not a fan, it’s there purely as a response to the second…awww, you know how I do things by now…):

  • The Ronettes – Be My Baby
  • The Beloved – Hello
  • Roxette – Joyride
  • Boy Kill Boy – Suzie
  • Chapel Club – All The Eastern Girls
  • Reverend And The Makers – Heavyweight Champion Of The World
  • New Model Army – Vagabonds
  • The Levellers – 15 Years
  • The Charlatans – Weirdo
  • Paris Angels – Scope
  • Madonna – Hung Up
  • Estelle (Feat. Kanye West) – American Boy
  • Rachel Stevens – Sweet Dreams (My L.A. Ex)
  • Rihanna – S.O.S.
  • Girls Aloud –Biology
  • Stereolab – French Disco
  • Wet Leg – Wet Dream

More soon (specifically: Vol 6.2 this time next week)

Not Appropriate

The more astute amongst you will have noticed that my shtick these days is this: write about something, post a song which sort of links to the subject, to illustrate the point.

Looking back, I can see the birth of this idea comes from occasions when I felt totally inappropriate records were either played or suggested to be played.

Many UK folk will recall a series of adverts that Peter Kay did for a well known bitter, one of which dealt with this exact subject:

See, the art of avoiding the airing of an inappropriate song was something I was aware of from my mid-teens, and consequently I became if not obssessed, then hyper-aware, of when your intentions in playing a record could be misconstrued.

By way of example: I once was asked to do a mixtape for a friend, and in between me saying that I would, she had the misfortune to break up with her boyfriend.

Now, as any compulsive mixtape/playlist maker knows, the first draft is never the one that is gifted: there are many, many more drafts as you think of better records to include. But through all of the drafts, there was one song on the tape which I didn’t want to get rid off, because it’s a wonderful, wonderful record.

However, given recent developments, I worried that it might touch a nerve, and be considered a tad on the insensitive side.

So I figured I would ask Llŷr and his answer was this:

“I think you’re massively over-thinking things.”

This was the song in question:

Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

The song remained. No offence was taken (I think).

So where does this unfounded terror stem from?

Here: as a teenager I went to my cousin’s wedding. I was of roughly the same age as the bride’s younger brother, and so we sat together, me, him and one of his mates, when the latter announced to us that he wanted the DJ to play a certain record that he really liked.

Because he hadn’t thought about it.

And both my cousin and I tripped over each other in our efforts to stop him from approaching the DJ to ask for this, which we both told him was not a song that should be played at a wedding reception:

Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield

It’d be like playing Going Underground at a funeral or Something’s Burning at a cremation (not that many wakes have a DJ, just the cool ones, but you get the giste).

Quite a few years later, I was asked, along with a friend, to DJ at a friend’s wedding. We agreed, and my co-DJ told me that they really wanted to play the next record.

“We can’t play that,” I said firmly.

“Why not? It’s a great record!”

“Yes. Yes it is. But we can’t play it.”

I didn’t think it needed spelling out, but I was wrong.

After the second or third time I removed it from the deck, each time challenged as to the reason, I finally broke:

“Because our friend is marrying a rather wealthy banker, so this is not an appropriate record for us to play at their wedding.”

This one:

Kanye West (feat. Jamie Foxx) – Gold Digger

I’m right, right?

More soon.