Friday Night Music Club

Here we are again, and this week, as ‘promised’ a completely new mix for your Friday Night enjoyment.

Not much to say about this one (man alive, I know how to pitch!), except to say that after the first track, it goes a little bit Radio 2 for a few songs (which is no bad thing in my book), before diving head-long into a right old Indie disco, starting off over in the USA (and mostly New York) before switching to some tunes which are unmistakeably British, along with a rip-roaring final track to bring matters to a close.

Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (there’s one biggie in the first tune, but other than that it seems to have behaved itself this time); any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine.

Friday Night Music Club Vol 9

And here’s your track-listing:

  1. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Darklands
  2. Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
  3. The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang
  4. Electric Light Orchestra – Sweet Talkin’ Woman
  5. Eagles – Take It Easy
  6. The Lemonheads – You Can Take It With You
  7. The Wedding Present – Go-Go Dancer
  8. Redd Kross – How Much More
  9. The Go-Go’s – Beatnik Beach
  10. Ramones – Rockaway Beach
  11. Kings of Leon – The Bucket
  12. Weezer – Hash Pipe
  13. Interpol – Slow Hands
  14. The Strokes – Reptilia
  15. Fountains of Wayne – Radiation Vibe
  16. David Devant & His Spirit Wife – Ginger
  17. Cud – One Giant Love
  18. Status Quo – Mystery Song (album version)

Long-term readers should not read anything into the inclusion of the third tune. It’s not coming back.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

More from one of my favourite ever bands tonight, and a track which doesn’t sound anything like anything they ever did before they went on a long hiatus.

This is from their, in my opinion, much over-looked fourth album, Watusi. Where George Best and Bizarro had been displays of the fast-paced, rattling guitars and tales of failed relationships, and Seamonsters had been more of the same but louder and beefed-up by Steve Albini’s mighty production, Watusi was very much the band turning to their more experimental and poppier side, which main man David Gedge would shortly go off and play around with under the Cinerama moniker.

I properly love Watusi and am baffled by most people’s indifference to it; it’s filled with the same cracking hooks and lyrics we all had come to know by then, but with a glossier finish, and the odd breath-takingly beautiful and delicate tune like this, which proves, to those who need it proving, that this band is no one-trick pony:

The Wedding Present – Spangle

In case you’re interested as to what Watusi means, here’s what Wiki has to say about it:

“The Watusi is a solo dance that enjoyed brief popularity during the early 1960s. It was one of the most popular dance crazes of the 1960s in the United States. “Watusi” is a former name for the Tutsi people of Africa, whose traditions include spectacular dances. The naming of the American dance may have been inspired, in particular, by a scene in the 1950 film King Solomon’s Mines which featured Tutsi dancers, or by its sequel Watusi.”

And here’s some footage I found on YouTube:

There you go: entertaining and educational.

More soon.

Back

Apologies for the lack of any posts all week. There is a reason, and I’m going to turn to comedian Frank Skinner to explain.

I’ve tried to find a clip of this, to no avail, but I remember him telling a story about how he was doing a stand-up gig for some charity or other – you know the sort of thing, where several comedians put on a night to raise funds for some worthy cause or other – and he was waiting in the wings with another, much younger comedian (the name of whom I don’t recall), when he (Frank) winced and rubbed his (own) back.

“What’s wrong?” asked the youthful, but anonymous, comic.

“I’ve hurt my back,” replied Frank.

“How did you do that?”

And, says Frank when relating this episode, he suddenly realised that he had no anecdote with which to explain his discomfort; no “Oh, I fell down the stairs”, or “You should see the other guy!”. Just: my back hurts, and it’s probably one of those things that just happens as you get older.

And so it was with me. On Tuesday, I stood up and was suddenly aware of pain in my lower back, which doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Consequently, having spent every day this week hunched over my work laptop, the last thing I felt like doing afterwards was cranking up my own laptop to write something for this place. Damned selfish of me, I’m sure.

Still, despite the pain, I’m proud to report I’ve been Mummy’s Brave Little Soldier and I haven’t cried once. Or more than once, before you say it.

Here’s some sort of relevant songs to kick-start your weekend:

Inspiral Carpets – Monkey On My Back

The Wedding Present – Back For Good

More soon.

Rant

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I really like Boy George.

As a personality, as a celebrity, as an icon, as an inspiration, yes yes yes, I’m in.

But as a music artiste? Hmm. Well, I can’t think of a single record by Culture Club that I actually like. There’s a couple (‘Time (Clock of the Heart)’ and ‘Church of the Poison Mind’, if you’re asking) which I think are kind of alright. But mostly, Culture Club is a band name synonymous with the word ‘dreadful’ in my book.

Let me give you an example: there have been many, great, anti-war songs. Edwin Starr’s War; Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son; Billy Joel’s Goodnight Saigon; Springsteen’s Born In the USA; Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town; The Pogues’ The Band Played Waltzing Matilda to name but a few.

Somehow, George’s intellectual insight doesn’t really cut the mustard:

Culture Club – The War Song

It’s just vacuous and meaningless tosh isn’t it?

Ineffectual, much like the JohnsonOut hashtag currently swirling around on Twitter, gathering next to no traction, because they keep sticking a different number at the end of it.

Now, with the exception of #MeToo, hashtags on Twitter are largely pointless, They never bring about change, and have even less chance of doing so if you keep changing the hashtag everyday.

If you wish for a large showing of defiance on social media, then you have to at the very least have a solid, unwavering hashtag for all like-minded thinkers to get behind. Given that he’s the first PM to have been questioned by the police as part of an ongoing investigation, might I suggest that #CrimeMinister might be a more appropriate one to go with?

Speaking of ineffectual, the sanctions our #CrimeMinister (I’ll get this to stick, I’m sure) announced against Russia following their threatened invasion of Ukraine definitely fall into this category.

Now, in a spirit of transparency, I’m writing this, furious, on Wednesday night, and so there may have been a change of heart since, but the sanctions against Russia announced by our #CrimeMinister earlier today didn’t really cut the mustard.

Here’s Lib Dem Layla Moran using Parliamentary Privilege to list 35 Russian oligarchs, unlikely to be affected by the sanctions, who perhaps should be:

And here’s how our #CrimeMinister reacted when Labour MP Chris Bryant attempted to ask him a question about one of those Russian oligarchs who would be unaffected by the sanctions he had just announced:

Probably off to find a nice fridge to hide in.

The problem Johnson has is that, much as he wants to come across all Churchillian, he can’t send troops to help Ukraine, because he knows that’s the first step to actual war with Russia, which nobody wants, especially the Ukranians. I would imagine that right now they are pining for quieter times:

The Wedding Present (aka The Ukranians) – Davni Chasy (Remaster)

(Yes, I have deliberately mis-labelled that; it’s just The Wedding Present but it made more sense in context to mention The Ukranians than to not mention them at all)

(And I deliberately chose that tune, given that the only lyric appears to be documenting Johnson’s career: “Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie” etc etc ad infinitum.)

But Johnson also can’t make sanctions against the Russians too severe, because the Conservative Party is mostly funded by Russian money. And if you’re not convinced as to just how deeply entrenched the party is with Russian lolly, you should note that Carrie Symonds, the current Mrs Johnson, and often rumoured to the real power behind the man, was a founder member of The Conservative Friends of Russia. They sound nice.

It’s no wonder that we still have not been allowed to see the report into Russian interfering with our elections and referendums, is it?

But Johnson’s probably quite happy about the invasion of Ukraine, because it stops everyone from talking about the ongoing Partygate enquiry, and his unfounded, incorrect and uncorrected claims that Labour leader Kier Starmer was in some way responsible for the failure to prosecute now notorious and, crucially, dead paedophile Jimmy Savile while he was still alive and rustling in a tracksuit.

Airing this lie in Parliament, and then refusing to retract it or correct the record, was a dog-whistle to the morons, and led to Starmer being abused in the street by a gang of knuckle-draggers. And you know they meant business because Starmer was with black Labour MP David Lammy, who they left alone for once.

It was a trick lifted straight out of the Donald Trump playbook.

Two serving MPs, Jo Cox and David Amess, have been murdered by extremists. Johnson’s words, reacted to with a despicable smirk when challenged in interviews, gives the impression he thinks two isn’t enough.

And let’s not forget what our PM once said, unprompted, about the police investigating historic sex abuse cases (which he later denied saying):

It’s almost like he’s an habitual liar, isn’t it?

Given the current Met Police investigation, it’s hardly surprising he was against the investigation of historic crimes of any sort, is it?

Actually, if you really want to link Savile to a particular political party, and decide who is culpable in the failure to make him face justice when he was still alive, then there’s plenty of evidence as to which one it should be:

Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies

Paedophiles, Russian money-launderers: it doesn’t matter to this lot. As long as you’re loaded and have no morals, your money and support is welcome in the Conservative Party.

Watch him for the next few weeks dodge questions about Partygate by saying he’s determined and focussed on “getting Ukraine done”. No doubt he has an oven-ready solution up his sleeve, which, much like the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement he signed, he won’t have read either.

The Horrors – I Can See Through You

Back in the early 80s, Thatcher was glad of the Falklands conflict: her patriotic response (giving the order to torpedo Argentinian ships leaving an area of interest included) was a vote winner at a time when she needed it most. Johnson is banking on the Ukraine giving him the same wriggle room. Don’t be fooled by him again.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Here we are again, and I’d like to start off by thanking all of you who got in touch to say they enjoyed last week’s mix; it seems Swiss Adam was right: make them shorter, and people are more likely to find time to listen to them. Truly, he is the Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams of the blogging world. (Somebody will get that reference, I’m sure.)

I really enjoy spending my Friday nights putting these together, although it has been to the detriment of the rest of the blog, I must admit. Hopefully I’ll get the balance right soon.

And so this week’s mix, Volume 6.2, the second hour (or so) of the six hour (or so) mix I originally put together before thinking better of it and splitting it down into six mixes, which should sound alright if you want to play them all in sequence. I guess you could say this is my equivalent of those collector’s magazines that seem to come out this time every year, where you buy one piece of a model per edition, glue it to the one you got last week and then wait until the next week when you can have your wallet lightened to the tune of a tenner in order to secure the next bit.

Except, with the Friday Night Music Club there is, in the words of Melba Montgomery’s mawkish 1974 hit (or J J Barrie’s 1976 hit, or Tammy Wynette’s version or Johnny Cash’s version or…aw you get the picture) No Charge.

And it’s more of the same this week, although perhaps a little less pop-heavy than last time, but essentially the usual formula of a real mixbag with a couple of unexpected 70s lost/over-looked/forgotten tunes thrown in (nothing as kitsch as an old one where I included The Dooleys, Guys & Dolls and The Nolans in the same mix, you’ll be relieved to hear), and where I momentarily slide off into what could loosely be called “a theme”. Fans of all things Gedge will immediately spot why The Wedding Present track follows the song it does, and how that started me off on the theme. Don’t worry, I manage to rein it in. Eventually.

If you are still dancing from last week’s mix, then this week’s definitely gives you plenty of time to have a nice sit down and get your breath back.

The first two records in particular remind me of people, if you’ll indulge me for a moment. The opening track is by The Kinks, and whenever I hear a Kinks record I’m always reminded of my mate Rob, because an old double album of their Greatest Hits, which I’d bought on vinyl from Britannia Music Club when I was a kid, would always make an appearance when he came back to my place after a night out clubbing.

The Kinks’ song I’ve selected also always reminds me of my old mate Richie. He was the first person to ever play it to me, and he insisted on performing a whole routine based around the lyrics of the song, which he mouthed as he pranced around. Truly, the spectacle of him acting out the line “…and when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight…” was so funny it lives with me to this day, thirty-five (or so) years later.

He repeated the trick with the next song, the B-Side to Jilted John’s eponymous classic. You don’t hear Jilted John on the radio so much these days, as some of the phrases used in it are…let’s call them “of their time.” No such problem with Going Steady, though, to my mind a much funnier song, which has does some “of their time” lyrics of its own, most notably when Double J mangles the word “butch” so that it rhymes with 70s police show stars Starsky & Hutch.

Anyway, I’ll waffle on no further, other than to slide my usual quality disclaimer in: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record choices are 100% mine.

Here you go:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.2

And here’s the track-listing:

  • The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion
  • Jilted John – Going Steady
  • Graham Coxon – Bittersweet Bundle of Misery
  • Mud – Rocket
  • The Wedding Present – Flying Saucer
  • Menswear – Stardust
  • Darwin Deez – Constellations
  • The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
  • Portishead – Wandering Star
  • Kylie Minogue – Slow (Chemical Brothers Remix)
  • Suzanne Vega – Blood Makes Noise
  • Fujiya & Miyagi – Knickerbocker
  • Pop Will Eat Itself – X Y & Zee
  • Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life
  • Rialto – Monday Morning 5:19 (Widescreen)

More soon (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.

Tuesday Short Song

On Friday night, I received a Whatsapp message from my brother which read: “FYI this just came up in conversation, and I thought you might be interested in how long it is?”

Wash your minds out: we may be competitive, but not in that way, thank you very much.

Within the message was a link to this record:

If you ever find yourself in a conversation about who the most influential artists have been in the world of popular music, and the person you’re talking to offers the names The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, walk away, or enjoy belittling them, for they know nothing.

The Stones regularly cite old blues artists as influential, whilst The Beatles – and countless others around the same time – would name skiffle bands and artists, such as Lonnie Donegan.

Lonnie’s influence simply cannot be underestimated, if not in the musical style of those who adored him, but in the simple fact that he inspired so many to learn to play instruments. Skiffle in the 1950s was the same as Punk in the 1970s, it had its own DIY ethic, impacting on so many, guiding them to pick up, or even construct, their own rudimentary instruments. The (double) bass was a wooden box with a mop handle and a string attached, for Gawd’s sake. And Lonnie was at the forefront of this revolution.

In 1992, to mark 40 years of their publication, the NME released a triple CD where current (at the time) indie acts were asked to record a cover version of a #1 that meant something to them. It’s a bit of disappointment overall, to be honest, but one band stepped up to the plate to pay homage to Lonnie, and thankfully that band was The Wedding Present and when you hear this, everything I’ve just said will make sense. And in true Weddoes style, they rattle through it even faster than Lonnie did:

If that doesn’t persuade my Dad to listen to The Wedding Present, then nothing will.

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

When you’ve written a song which is universally recognised as a classic, and which has been covered over 150 times, then when you announce which your favourite cover version is, I would imagine the person responsible for the cover must feel pretty chuffed.

Such a little nugget was dropped on this week’s edition of Guy Garvey: From The Vaults, a show currently airing on Sky Arts, which has recently become a free-to-air channel (I’m not sure if this is a permanent arrangement, although I suspect it might be as it’s been given it’s own channel number on my tellybox, and another one shunted out of the way). It’s a channel – and a TV show – worth checking out, because they generally show gigs on a Saturday night, by the likes of Nick Cave and Pulp, to name just two.

As for From The Vaults, it features the avuncular Elbow singer introducing clips from ITV’s music TV vaults, not somewhere I would have thought particularly blessed with valuable content, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The first episode included some wonderful, never seen before footage of Kate Bush from when she first toured at the end of the 1970s, so good that I wished I’d made more of an effort (read: been able to afford) to go and see her when she finally got round to playing her second set of live dates a couple of years ago.

The classic song that I mentioned at the top of this post popped up in this week’s edition was this absolute beauty:

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

And here’s the footage they showed, snaffled from an appearance on The Russell Harty Show back in 1975:

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that the reason I mention all of this is not just to nudge you in the direction of a really good pop music archive show, but to give me an excuse to post the version of Make Me Smile that Mr Harley likes best out of all of them, as mentioned by Garvey on last night’s show (and he wouldn’t make it up, now would he?),from their 1990 3 Songs EP:

The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)

He’s a man of great taste, is Mr Harvey.

Guy Garvey: From The Vaults airs at 9:00pm (UK Time) on a Friday night, is doubtless repeated at least once, and the whole series is currently available to stream via NOWTV.

More soon.

Sticky

For a while now, every now and then, I would receive a message from a concerned reader, asking whether everything was ok, and telling me they hoped I started writing again.

This confused me, since bar the odd day or two here and there, I’ve been posting stuff much more regularly than I have for ages.

And then I realised that all of these messages had been left as comments on the same post, which I wrote way back in May this year.

So I investigated, and it turns out said post was the last time I “stuck” a post to the top of the blog. This is a function available here on WordPress which I never used to tick when completing a post, but when I noticed it, I figured it ensured that when people visit my blog it would be the first post they saw.

Which it does. I mean I have to commend them, it works brilliantly.

But this function is akin to having a Pinned Tweet on your timeline on Twitter. And because I then began ticking the “Stick Post to the Top of the Blog” box for a couple of months, throughout pretty much all of April and May, that meant that all of those “stuck” posts appeared, in sequence, before anything else more recent that I’ve posted appears.

So I spent Tuesday night going through them all and making them…erm…unsticky. Normal service should now resume.

And here’s two songs which were rattling round my head as I was doing it, the first of which is another track by the recently featured Little Boots which, as with the last tune I posted by her, it doesn’t seem to have got a commercial release, remaining reserved for white label affcianados :

And this one, the tenth single from The Wedding Present’s Hit Parade series, where they released one limited edition 7″ single at the start of each month for a whole year:

Apologies to those hoping to hear either Lionel Richie or Huey Lewis and The News.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

Back in 2017, to mark the 30th anniversary of the original release of their wonderful George Best album, The Wedding Present – by which I mean founder member, stalwart and only remaining original member David Gedge – invited Steve Albini to record and produce an entirely new version of the album.

The results are really quite impressive, breathing new life into not-exactly-tired-sounding originals, making them sound much more like live studio recordings.

And, even more surprisingly (given their initial brevity), managing to shorten some of the tracks, including this one, which now ducks just underneath the two-minute ticker tape required to permit it entry into this series:

More soon.