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.

At The Edge of The Sofa

Ordinarily, once a year Brighton’s Concorde 2 venue plays host to At The Edge of The Sea, a three-day music festival curated by The Wedding Present’s main man David Gedge.

Sadly, due to the Covid crisis, this year’s event wasn’t able to take place.

Instead, we got the rebranded At The Edge of The Sofa, a virtual festival, hosted by Gedge from his living room.

This included the Locked Down and Stripped Back sessions, a selection of career-spanning live perfomances by the current Wedding Present line-up, all recorded seperately from their own boudoirs.

Without fail, they’re all just marvellous. Much as I like the newer stuff, it’s the older tracks which I have an unmoveable place in my heart, and so here’s three absolute corkers, all given yet another faultless rework:

You can stream both days of the virtual festival via the band’s YouTube page, here (subscription required) or, if you just want to watch Gedge and the Gang do their stuff, you can do so here. And I really can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want to.

I’d recommend you do, if for no other reason than to realise Gedge looks quite the silver fox now.

There is mention of these getting a commercial release at some point in the future, so watch this space.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

One of the great things about working from home, and thus not electing to have another half an hour in bed or rushing to catch a bus, is that I’ve been able to watch the re-runs of Cheers on Channel 4.

When I was younger, Cheers was a staple of our Friday night for Friday night was Mum-and-Dad-have-gone-to-the-pub night (we were old enough to be left alone, before anyone asks. Four is old enough, right?) and so, suddenly allowed control of the remote, this is what we would watch together. If one of us was feeling particularly brave, they’d sit in Dad’s chair.

Anyway, I don’t think I could have fully appreciated it back then, for watching it now I’m blown away by how great it is. I mean, I knew it was a funny show back then, but I guess I get more of the more adult jokes now, and, having spent more than my fair share of time propping up bars in the intervening years, can probably identify and empathise with Cliff and Norm a lot more.

Which leads me here: I think they’re on the fourth volume of Marc Riley sessions by now, this is from the first (they’re all wonderful, of course):

The Wedding Present – The Theme from ‘Cheers’: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Yeh, I thought I would have posted the George Best 30 version of Shatner before this too; funny how things pan out, isn’t it?

More soon.

Bad News Comes in Threes

When, at the end of January, I first posted about my best friend Llyr’s passing, it attracted many lovely comments.

Something happened last week which reminded me of one them, which JTFL (that’s Johnny the Friendly Lawyer to you and me) had posted: “Oh, man. It really pours.”

For just as I thought my year couldn’t get any shittier, a letter from the letting agency I rent my flat through landed on my doormat.

This is what it said:

Please find enclosed an official notice confirming that possession will be required at the end of the notice period.”

The notice informed me I had two months in which to find somewhere else to live and, somehow magically, conjure up a deposit/bond for the new place.

I believe the phrase is: Oh. Fuck.

Some background info: last year, after six years of me not exactly complaining about cracks in the walls and ceiling, but certainly mentioning it to the letting agency I rent through, suddenly something happened. The matter was referred to the landlord’s buildings insurers, who did some testing, identified the issue and rectified it.

They now wished to come into my flat, do whatever repairs were required, and then redecorate.

This is quite an unusual situation for a tenant; usually any redecoration happens between tenancies, but here was an insurance company offering to redecorate whilst a tenant was in situ.

Obviously, I wanted to assist, and it was agreed that I would vacate the flat for a short period, roughly two weeks, whilst the works were done. All of my worldly belongings would be placed into storage, and I would be placed in a Travelodge or similar for the duration.

Inconvenient though it was, I was on board with this. To be honest, I was looking forward to an Alan Partridge “Big Plate” kind of scenario.

So I started packing all of my stuff away.

And then I was admitted to hospital, and everything ground to a halt.

As regular readers will know, since my discharge from hospital, I’ve been experiencing pain and loss of strength in my arms, and pain and loss of grip/function in my hands. Investigations into this are ongoing (I had a PET scan this week), but this prevented me from continuing to pack my stuff away.

Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve noticed a real improvement. I can open some bottles and jars which I couldn’t before. I have to take fewer painkillers. I’m gradually increasing my hours at work. There’s an upwards trajectory.

What I should have done was notify the letting agents/the landlord of my current condition, but I didn’t.

Hence the repossession notice.

I understand why it happened: they thought I wasn’t playing ball anymore, so decided the only way to progress matters (and get the insurers to pay for the repairs and redecoration) was to get me out.

A flurry of emails ensued, including one where I explained all that most of you have read on these pages recently about my ill-health, apologising profusely for failing to keep them in the loop.

And then, thankfully, the much-welcomed news came through: the landlord would revoke the repossession notice (not said, but implicit: as long as I played ball with the redecoration stuff).

So, I’m going nowhere (except to the delights of a Travel Tavern, somewhere in my locality, taking my big plate with me).

Phew. Bullet dodged.

This song springs to mind:

pleasure

Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Which, of course, I only know of because of this cover version:

theweddingpresent

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

Although this one springs to mind too:

Therapy+Nowhere-47092

Therapy? – Nowhere

I am, of course, mindful, that had my email appeal not been succesful, then this, absolutely wonderful, long-forgotten song would have been a far more appropriate tune:

lodger

Lodger – I’m Leaving

I’ve been trying to find a reason to post that for ages, without tarring it with the Brexit brush. Result!

When I found out that my persuasive skills had prevailed, I called my parents, who were obviously on notice of the situation. My mother seemed unsurprised; when I was growing up she had to deal with many pointless arguments with me, insufferable teenager that I was. Not just a bit like, but a lot like this:

I emailed the insurers on Wednesday, inviting them to call or email me so matters could progress. No reply as of yet.

More soon.

La Singe est sur la Branch

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far, far away, I used to post a thing on a Friday night called Friday Night Music Club.

The intent was to try and recreate some playlists I made when times were hard and staying in (and drinking, maybe dancing but hopefully singing-a-longing) were the only goals.

I stopped writing it when it metamorphised into ten tunes with a linking theme, and I realised that Rol over at My Top Ten already did pretty much the same thing, much better. Props to the originator and all that.

Anyway, one of the themes I focused on way back then (for way too long, if memory serves) was song titles with a question in it. And looking back, I find it bordering on incredible that I missed out today’s tune, which I was reminded of when 6Music tweeted this the other night:

q

This one:

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The Wedding Present – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?

Not least because it would have been an opportunity for me to bang on about Remain and illustrate it by posting the French version, which popped up as an extra track on the CD single version:

r-597306-1293311184_jpeg

The Wedding Present – Pourquoi Es Tu Devenue Si Raisonnable?

Still, now I get to sound bilingual (which I’m not) and a fan of Eddie Izzard (which I am):

Plus a venir. (More soon)