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)

Christmas Eve Music Club

A couple of weeks ago, I had the dubious distinction of co-hosting this year’s Christmas Party at work.

This involved me and three others planning and then hosting the event, which got moved to an online virtual party a little more than a week before it was scheduled for, due to the latest Covid strain and the advice to avoid face-to-face meetings unless they were absolutely necessary. This meant a lot of frantic rewriting, but it all went well in the end, with remarkably few technical issues. I’ll maybe write some more about this later.

You won’t be surprised to learn that my main contribution with regards to content was a pop quiz, in the form of a Spot the Intro round. The organisers last year had done one about Christmas Number Ones, so I had planned to do one about Christmas Number Twos, mostly so that I could make a particularly lavatorial joke.

However, you’d be surprised how many records which were #2 in the UK charts on Christmas Day are not particularly Christmassy at all, so it got changed to The Not The Christmas Number One Quiz, which isn’t a particularly snappy title, I must confess.

I prepared 20 intros of Christmas records and invited the attendees to name the song, the artist, the year it was originally a hit, and what was actually #1 that Christmas.

This allowed we to slip in a few gags when delivering the answers: “That was Coldplay with Christmas Lights, setting the template for the soundtrack to every M&S advert since” and, my favourite, “From 2008, that’s It’s Christmas Time by Status Quo, which was kept off the #1 slot by Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah. That, and 38 other records.”

Anyway, that put me in the mood for doing a Christmas mix, remembering that this time last year Christmas was cancelled and I posted a very long and defiantly un-Christmassy mix.

My brother is picking me up to go to be with our parents later today, so this mix is intended to be played on the journey over there (you’ve been warned, bruv!), and then when we arrive too. As such it’s geared towards Christmas Eve, travelling home, Santa visiting (and what the randy old dog gets up to when he does) and the hope that this Christmas is better than last year. It’s full of slightly obscure tunes and the occasional cover of a Christmas favourite. And you’ll be relieved to hear that, unlike most of my mixes, it’s only about an hour and a quarter long. There’s only so many jingling bells one can take.

The length doesn’t seem to have effected the occasional skip or jump (my usual disclaimer) but having listened to it through that shouldn’t spoil your enjoyment too much.

And yes, of course The Wedding Present and Status Quo (R.I.P. Rick) make appearances.

I’m having fun guessing at which song my father will try to work out how to turn the volume down a little, and when exactly my mother will ask just what on earth we’re listening to. I reckon if it’s not when Helen Love is covering Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight) then it will certainly be when Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo makes his annual appearance. And so we’re back to Christmas #2s.

Here you go:

Xmas Eve Music Club

And here’s the tracklisting:

  1. Saint Etienne – Driving Home For Christmas
  2. Summer Camp – Christmas Wrapping
  3. Low – Just Like Christmas
  4. Cuckooland – Silver Bells
  5. Charley Pride – Christmas In My Home Town
  6. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  7. George Jones – My Mom And Santa Claus
  8. John Prine – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  9. Bob Dylan – Must Be Santa
  10. Girls Aloud – Not Tonight Santa
  11. Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
  12. The Ronettes – Sleigh Ride
  13. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – White Christmas
  14. Joey Ramone – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
  15. Helen Love – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight)
  16. The Housemartins – Caravan of Love
  17. Cocteau Twins – Frosty The Snowman
  18. South Park – Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
  19. The Wedding Present – Step into Christmas
  20. Fountains Of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas
  21. Shonen Knife – Space Christmas
  22. Ash – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
  23. Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today
  24. Status Quo – It’s Christmas Time
  25. Darlene Love – Marshmallow World
  26. Weezer – We Wish You A Merry Christmas

I haven’t had time to prepare anything else to post over the Christmas weekend, but I’ll probably be back before the New Year, so for now I’ll just wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

More soon.

I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

Morning all.

I suppose that since it’s Christmas Day next Monday, I’d better play something festive to get us all going today.

So, since I think I posted one of these last year, here’s a couple of tracks from the greatest Christmas album ever made:

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

Darlene Love – Marshmallow World

The Ronettes – Sleigh Ride

Ringa-linga-linga-ding-dong-ding indeed.

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

I’m not sure the shower has quite done the trick. I think I need to hear some unquestionably wonderful records to cleanse my soul of that last post.

Luckily, I have just the thing, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, 02:40 ever committed to vinyl:

CS478753-01A-BIG

The Ronettes – Be My Baby

Not a song title to be messed with, you’d think. And you’d be right.

Unless you happened to be banging Lenny Kravitz and getting him to write songs for you at the same time. Well, maybe not at exactly the same time, that’d just be impractical. And messy. Probably end up with a lot more “oohs” and “aahs” in the lyrics too.

And even then, frankly you’d be taking a bit of a punt.

Now, I don’t have much time for Mr Kravitz. He’s made a couple of decent tunes, sure, but not quite enough to deserve the cool cat tag he seems to have.

But this is without doubt the best thing he ever had a hand in (the record, not the soon-to-be-Mrs Johnny Depp, you foul minded folk):

V00002095

Vanessa Paradis – Be My Baby

More soon.