Having finally polished off the six parts of Volume 6 last week to less than rapturous applause, we move swiftly on to Volume 7, and a return to the Indie disco and *gulps* a ‘theme’.
I would imagine that most of you will spot the theme when the first track drops. If you don’t, then I would suggest you’re probably the sort of person who should be out handing out Covid conspiracy and anti-mask leaflets with Piers Corbyn.
I really enjoyed putting this mix together, and had a good old sing-a-long to it when listening back to it to check for ‘quality’ purposes (feedback and training, y’know the sort of thing).
Not that you should take that as me likening it to telephone hold music, far from it: here you’ve got 22 songs crammed into 70 minutes, only two of which dare to outstay their welcome by venturing past the four-minute mark. There’s the usual mix of songs you may have forgotten about, scattered amongst the ones you’ve never heard before, and maybe some you never want to hear again, there’s pop, there’s balls-out rockers (or whatever the female equivalent is….realises that L7 feature, and they literally showed us when they appeared on The Word), there’s a couple of tremendous cover versions. Something for everyone, in other words.
So without further ado – and look: not even a disclaimer this week! (although their are a couple of skips, but you know why that is by now) – here we go:
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 tothem.”
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:
There’s some songs I love which I don’t really know the words to.
One such song is today’s pick, which a brief t’internet search tells me are these:
“Though this world’s essentially an absurd place to be living in, it doesn’t call for bubble withdrawal
I’ve been told it’s a fact of life, men have to kill one another
Well I say there are still things worth fighting for: La resistance!”
It’s not your typical One Direction (or whoever is the current flavour of the month is) lyric, is it?
Whilst I’ve been stubbonly not commenting on recent political events (you all know what I think, I’m not going to change anybody’s mind here, so I choose not to bang on), I can’t ignore that Tory (Remain) MP Anna Soubry (amongst others) was recently cajoled and confronted by a group of right-wing (Leave) gammons as she tried to attend a television interview and then go to work. The group, clad in yellow hi-vis jackets, bombarded her with insults, shouting that she was a Nazi.
Putting aside the irony of them calling her a Nazi for a moment, this was totally unacceptable, of course, and I’d be saying the same thing were it a left wing group who had hassled her, or anyone else. The fact that I’m bothering to defend a Tory MP should tell you enough.
But allegiances beside, there’s an interesting point here: the gang, and subsequent protestors, have worn their yellow hi-vis jackets seemingly as an homage to, or to display unity with, the recent working class gilete-jaune French protestors.
That’s France, who are part of the EU.
Nice of these pro-Leave, anti-EU idiots to point out a further similarity with our brothers and sisters in the EU…..
Time for a tune from that notoriously tolerant bequiffed chap we all used to like, but now feel rather conflicted about:
Today’s nonsense backing vocals come courtesy of, to my mind, one of the most unique and most under-rated bands ever: Stereolab.
This track first appeared back in 1994 as one of the extra tracks on the Ping Pong EP, and later resurfaced on Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, a 2005 three-CD, one-DVD box set.
Coining a phrase that adequately describes Stereolab’s sound is no mean feat: I’ve seen terms such as post-rock, avant-pop, Marxist pop (one which the band objected to) used. I’m not great at identifying a genre or generating a pigeonhole into which a band can be shoved, but if I have to I’d plump for saying they’re sound is Euro-Space-Pop, and even then I’m only including the term Euro because more often than not, their lyrics were at least partly in French.
As is the case here. But don’t let that put you off; if you’ve never heard Stereolab before, here’s three good reasons why you should give this a listen:
Because it’s chuffing well ace
Because you’re life will be greatly enriched by having Stereolab in it
Because I will be asking questions as you leave the auditorium to see what you’ve learned today.
Sometimes, you have to think not so much about what is said, than what is not said.
Last week, when Donald Trump, President of the country responsible for the production of the second highest amount of greenhouses gases in the world, announced he would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement – joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only attendees of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change not to sign it – the remaining signatories released statements condemning or expressing disappointment at the decision.
But one leader was notable by her absence from joining the chorus of disapproval. You guessed it: that strong and stable, “bloody difficult woman” Theresa May.
Of course, that’s not the only Trump-related subject she’s been notably quiet about, for, sadly, another opportunity to show some strength and leadership by speaking out against him very came very swiftly afterwards. For as the world queued up to not only show support for the UK in the wake of the third terrorist attack on our shores this year, but also to denounce Trump’s baseless criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, where was our Theresa?
Probably off thinking really hard about the Brexit negotiations again, I suppose.
I find it incredible to think that the Conservatives have run their election campaign focusing on the strength, stability and leadership qualities, hoping that by repeating sound-bite of the year “strong and stable” enough we’d eventually believe it. A bit like Kenny Craig, if you like.
“Kenny who?” I hear you ask? Kenny Craig. You know Kenny Craig, you just probably don’t know that’s his name.
This is Kenny Craig:
In the last few days, the issue of national security and policing levels has, unsurprisingly given result events, moved centre stage in the election campaign. After the Manchester bombing, a friend of mine, a police officer in London, posted this on Facebook (since I’m not sure whether or not he’s supposed to make political comments, I’ve edited it to remove his name):
It was a sentiment echoed on Sunday evening by Jeremy Corbyn:
“You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts. Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’”
That is a reference to a speech that May gave back in in 2015, when she was still the Home Secretary. I’ll hand over to James O’Brien of LBC to explain further:
May, of course, denies there have been cuts: “Since 2015…we have not cut the police but protected their budget….we have increased the number of armed police officers, improved co-operation between the police and specialist military units, and provided funding for an additional 1,900 officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.”
Former senior Metropolitan police officer Peter Kirkham begs to differ. In an interview with Sky News at the weekend, he said: “The police service is in crisis as a result of the cuts…We hear talk of extra police officers on the street. They’re not extra, they’re officers that have had their rare leave days cancelled, they’ve had their 12-hour shifts that are now done routinely extended into 16 hours.”
So that protected budget, those extra officers, are actually officers who are being forced to work longer shifts, and have less days off. They must be knackered. Which makes their eight-minute reaction time on Saturday night all the more amazing.
“Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, don’t look around the eyes, look into my eyes…”
But, other than bullshitting us about the cuts to our police services which she has overseen since she became Home Secretary and then Prime Minister, she has a plan to combat the rise in extremist terrorism, right? Sure she does. Here you go:
“While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country…We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”
Now, I’m not saying that’s not important, that she doesn’t have the semblance of a point there. But let’s counter-balance that with the report into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups commissioned by David Cameron when he was Prime Minister. The report was to be shown to Cameron and May, then Home Secretary. The report is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis.
Well, that’s brilliant, isn’t it? We just have a look at that report, see what it says about the funding, take action against those funding the terrorists, and we’re on the way to sorting this out, right?
Oh, except there’s just one thing. The Home Office have announced that the report won’t necessarily be published, because the contents may be “very sensitive”.
What could be sensitive about that?
On Monday, Lib Dem leader shed a little light on this for us when he wrote an article saying that the report should be published and that it: “…should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those such as Saudi Arabia that the government claims are our allies.”
Huh? “Embarassing conversations?” “Our allies?” What can he mean?
Oh wait a minute….
That was taken when May popped over to Saudi Arabia (in a rare moment when she wasn’t thinking about the Brexit negotiations, of course) to discuss our lucrative arms deals to the Saudis. At around that time, the Saudis were being roundly criticised by all and sundry as reports emerged of their bombs hitting schools, hospitals and wedding parties as it intervenes in the war in Yemen. And who sold them the bombs that killed the innocent civilians in those schools, hospitals and wedding parties? Yup, the good old UK. Fair makes your heart swell with pride, doesn’t it?
I mean, even America has stopped the supply of precision guided munitions to Saudi Arabia on the back of those reports. But us? Nah, we’ll carry on regardless, thanks.
So May happily sides with a nation that possibly gives financial and logistical support to ISIS, suppresses a report into just that, whilst telling us that we need to tackle extremism and denying that she has been responsible for the cuts in police numbers in the UK which undoubtedly leave us exposed.
And she refuses to condemn the words and actions of Donald J. Trump.
That’s two truly special relationships we have, right there.
So, before you pop off to vote tomorrow, you’ll have lots of questions to ask yourself. Make sure that one of them is this: who do you think really has the safety of the country at heart? Is it the party that has pledged to recruit an additional 10,000 police officers (even if they can’t remember how much it’s going to cost), or the party that has axed the police numbers over the past seven years whilst cutting arms deals with countries who are, in all probability, providing resources to those very people who seek to destroy our way of life?
All being well, I’ll be back later tonight with an overview of what the main parties are offering. I’m sure it will be a real laugh a minute.
Friday night is upon us once more, which means it’s time for the next five songs in the Friday Night Music Club playlist.
Given the horrific events in Paris last Friday, I wish I could say that I had planned to include the first two tunes as a show of solidarity with our Gallic brothers, but alas, it’s a coincidence. If I was that smart, they would have been in last week’s selection. Still, cracking tunes though.
And to finish, two songs which are nowhere near as well known as they should be. First, an utterly bonkers song featuring an hypnotic chorus with the words “vanilla strawberry knickbocker glory ” repeated over and over, followed by a verse which talks about seeing the ghost of Lena Zavaroni, a child star and winner of 1970s talent show Opportunity Knocks. Her story is an utterly tragic mood-killer, so we shan’t dwell on it any further here.
And finally, this song, which from its opening rip-off of (sorry, I mean homage to) “Be My Baby” through to it’s just wonderful title is a joy from start to finish (and yes I appreciate that’s technically from just before the start to the start, but that doesn’t scan as well…)