The other thing about having a day off on a Friday is that I have more time to put together a few songs for your Friday night delectation. Which you would think means an improvement in quality, in the tunes if not the writing. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s the case or not.
At the very least, it’ll be delivered earlier than usual.
After last week’s poptastic disco post, we’re heading back into slightly louder indie territory for this week’s selection. Oh, and a theme towards the end. Of course.
So, first up, the second song I ever heard by one of my favourite ever bands, and still sounding fresh as a daisy:
Now to a band that I managed to catch twice last year, and have written about on these pages before. When I last waxed lyrical about them, I mentioned I have a semi-amusing story to tell, which I would save for the actual “A History of Dubious Taste” thread. That still holds, you’re getting nowt out of me now. (I realise I may be building this up a bit too much, of course. Calm down. Note the words “semi-amusing”. They have been chosen for a reason.)
Anyway, from their “Play” EP, for me, this is one of their finest moments:
(Happy Birthday Neil)
Something a little more recent now, and when I say recent, this is my definition, so I mean released two years ago. From Worthing, in Sussex, here’s some:
And whilst I’m attempting to at least appear vaguely hip and current, here’s another one from way back in the midst of time (i.e. 2014):
Okay, time to take you back, and to a psychobilly group that had one hit, this one, back in 1983.
King Kurt came to my attention via the Personal File of lead singer Gary “The Smeg” Clayton in Smash Hits, where I’m sure they referred to him as Smeggy, but I can find nothing to corroborate this, so maybe I’m wrong. It’s been known to happen.
The Personal File in Smash Hits was usually a half-page feature and was a telephone interview, which gave the interviewer (usually, if memory serves, the late, great and much missed Tom Hibbert) the advantage of not having to be too concerned about any awkwardness his questions might cause. Hibbert was the master of this format; he would start by asking a few standards (Name, Date of Birth), move into obviously teen-pop magazine territory (First Crush?) then ask something so off-the-wall as to make the interviewee think the article was going to be just fluff at best.
As an example, having done the above, he asked Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys “Does your mother play golf?”, quickly followed by “What kind of underwear are you wearing?” (Note – this is not a question to be asked in any other context. I’ve got in a lot of trouble that way.) With the interviewee now suitably relaxed, Hibbert would go in for the kill. Again, from his Neil Tennant interview: “What does Chris do in Pet Shop Boys?” and “Why does he always look so moody?” – to be fair, the questions everyone had always wanted to ask – and so deliciously skewered is Tennant, so caught off guard, he provided the following answers, respectively: “He tends to write the songs’ ‘hooks'” and “Because he is moody…’sulky’ is a better word…When he found out we were Number One all he could do was complain that we had to do Top of the Pops again.”
Anyway, dragging myself back from the tangent, there was one of these about Gary “The Smeg” Clayton/Smeggy, about which I can remember nothing other than that I thought his name was funny, but then I was a 14 year old boy at the time.
Onwards now to 1994, and a blast of Inspiral Carpets, who were derided by many when they were at their peak, and even more so when they attempted a come-back. Unfairly so, I think: in my book they were a great and consistent singles band. In December last year, my little group of friends met up, as we do every year, in the Dublin Castle in Camden for our annual drink-and-plough-pound-coins-into-the-juke-box-a-thon. There will always be a bit of a drunken sing-a-long, always, as I think I may have mentioned before, to “Fairytale of New York”, but last year also to the Inspiral’s “This Is How It Feels”. Y’know, cos it’s such a cheery Christmas song. One of my happiest moments of 2015, as it goes.
Anyway, here, from their “Devil Hopping” album, is this:
Back in the early 1990s, Top of the Pops had a policy that, were you lucky enough to appear on the show, you had to perform the vocals live. This led, most infamously, to Kurt Cobain performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as if he were a 45rpm being played at 33rpm (and yes, I appreciate that some of my younger readers will have no idea what rpm means. Google it.)
It also gave rise to, as far as I’m aware, the only ever appearance on Top of the Pops by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. It’s worth a watch, if only to see him getting the words wrong and forgetting where he is supposed to come in, cackling into the mic when he gets it wrong, despite frequently (and obviously) checking the words on a crumpled piece of paper, whilst Inspirals singer Tom Hingley gamely ploughs on with his bits.
If for nothing else, we should all be eternally grateful to Inspiral Carpets for giving us this.
All of which has got me in a Fall kinda mood, so here’s my favourite record by the ramshackle Mancunian growlers:
As with many bands I figured I needed to know more about, I bought their “45 84 89” singles compilation when I was younger. I have to confess, there was much that I didn’t get at the time. But there were also several tracks I loved, some of which I knew were cover versions, one of which I only found out very recently was one. So let’s start there:
Somewhere in the back of my head is the factoid that R Dean Taylor was the only white singer to release a single on the Tamla Motown label, but I’ve found nothing online to support this. What I have found is that he was signed as both a writer and performer for the label, and even played on Motown classics “Standing In the Shadows of Love,” and “Reach Out” (even it was only the tambourine he played).
Finally this week, a band that, I’m relieved to say, needs no introduction or further comment:
That’ll do for now.