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)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

If you’ve been lucky enough to watch Rich Hall’s Countrier Than You (which I see is back up on the BBC iPlayer, so I assume it’s been broadcast again without me noticing) then you’ll know that the boundary lines between folk and country music are blurred at the best of times.

A while ago, my brother and I converged on our parents’ house; after dinner he got out his iPad and, using his iTunes streaming subscription as the database, we played an impromptu game of The Chain. The iPad got passed round the table, and the lucky holder got to choose what record we heard next.

At some point, my brother played a song by this morning’s band, perhaps their most famous record, certainly their most commercially successful one. He looked genuinely wounded when I said he could have chosen something better by them.

In America, this would be classed as either Country, Folk or Bluegrass, but here in the UK we sniffily call this lot a bunch of crusties. Which shouldn’t detract from the fact that this, and a couple of other songs they did, are rather fine:


The Levellers – Far From Home

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I was feeling a little run down towards the end of last week, so on Friday I decided to have an early night and went to bed with Graham Norton.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. I went to bed and watched the Graham Norton show.

The guests included actors Ewan McGregor and Sam Neill, long time buddies it turns out; they related that they had spent many any evening in each other’s company, drinking until the wee small hours, before invariably indulging in a sing-song.

They took little persuasion to recreate this, both seemingly having arrived with ukuleles in anticipation of the event, and they broke into a fairly decent version of a song that, as I lay in bed, I knew I’d heard before, thought I owned a copy of somewhere, but couldn’t quite put my finger on who the version I owned was by.

A half-hearted flick through my vinyl and CD racks failed to offer up any clues, so, now unable to sleep, I surfed the net to try and answer that question and also find a good version of it to post for your delictation.

And this is what I found. Not the original, but of the God-knows-how-many versions I listened to, the one that stood out the most for me:


Tia Blake & Her Folk Group – Plastic Jesus

I’ve never heard of Tia Blake before, but there’s something Mo Tucker from Velvet Underground-ish about her vocals that I really like.

Anyway, a much longer search of that there internet failed to garner me with the details of where I knew the tune from, and it bugged me for most of the day.

Then, mid-way through the second half of the England game, as my mind understandably wandered, it came to me. The reason I hadn’t found it was because I owned the song with a different, Kanye-esque spelling of Jesus. By this lot of crusty dog-on-a-string types:


The Levellers – Plastic Jeezus

I’ll leave you to decide which version you prefer.

More soon.