Some 33 1/3s Are Better Than Others

As the lockdown continues, I had this vague idea that I’d start writing about my favourite albums, or all of the albums by my favourite bands (not Quo, don’t fret, although……..nah), and whilst I toy with that idea, and how to try to do it differently to people who have mused on the same topic before (presumably writing about their favourite albums rather than mine), I remembered a bit of live footage which I used to have on videotape of one of those bands performing songs from one of those albums.

And it occured to me that other than their debut album, released in 1983, but which didn’t even begin to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my radar until five or six years later, I own absolutely nothing else by them, despite them releasing their tenth album in 2019.

Even then, when I say “own” it took me an awfully long time to actually purchase a copy on CD; I picked that up in Cardiff’s Fopp, and that didn’t open until 2004, having survived with a copy on an old C60 cassette tape from 1989 until then. I was, it’s safe to say, long overdue in investing in a copy.

I speak, by the way, of Violent Femmes’ peerless debut album.

I’ve mentioned it before on these pages, but it’s one of those rare albums with not one duff track on it, each one an absolute pearl.

So how comes I’ve never bought anything else by them?

Well, I’d like to tell you that it was because I’d listened to some of their other releases and just not been fussed, that nothing they did could ever live up to that first record, and so I’d rather my opinion of them remained unblemished.

That’s close to the truth, but still not quite true. I think that, sadly, that first record reminds me of someone.

I’ll explain.

In my first year at college, before I started actually DJ’ing at it, I would regularly attend the bi-weekly Indie night, Funk Off (terrible name) and it was there, the first time I went, that I bumped into two girls who I recognised as being on my course. They recognised me too, and over the next few terms we got to become really good mates, sitting together in lectures and bars alike. They would always come and sit with me and my male friends at Funk Off, to the point where the boys would refer to me as “Jez MP”, the MP standing for Magic Penis. (Pure jealousy, of course: all this actually meant was that I knew some girls and they were unable to even speak to any.)

Anyway, as was my want when I was that age, I became moderately obsessed with one of them, and it was reciprocated to an extent; after a night out, she and I would retire to my room in the halls of residence, put a record on, turn the lights off and lay on the bed listening and smoking.

Nothing ever happened, for I knew I was firmly in the friend zone, and that any kind of move would not be appreciated. Which was lucky, as I had zero moves in my repertiore.

Come the summer holidays, and I was back at home when I was summoned one evening by my mother to the telephone in the hall. That’s where phones lived back in those days: out of the living room so nobody has to be disturbed by your bellowing conversation.

There was a girl on the phone for me – which seemed to surprise my mother more than me – and when I picked up, it was her, the subject of my unrequited obsession.

“I’ve just heard this record, and I had to call you because you’re going to love it,” she said, disregarding the tradition of saying “Hello” at the start of a conversation.

And then she proceeded to play the Violent Femmes’ first album down the phone to me, like my own personal Dial-a-Disc. When the first side finished, I could picture her – as I can now – cradling the receiver under her chin as she flipped the record over and let side two start.

Neither of us spoke throughout and when it finished she did the equivalent of rolling over and falling asleep: she just said: “Amazing, isn’t it? Better go, this is my parents’ phone” and hung up, leaving me to sit dazed trying to work out how I could sneak the equivalent of a post-coital cigarette without my parents noticing.

When term-time came around again, she thrust the aforementioned C60 into my hands the first time we met up again.

That’s what you want in a partner, isn’t it? Someone who hears something, thinks of you, and makes damn sure you know about it.

And that’s why I don’t think I have ever bought another record by the Violent Femmes: for nothing could be as perfect, so unexpected, so welcome, as my introduction to them.

Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes is a masterpiece, choc-a-bloc full with catchy tunes, sing-a-long lyrics, teenage angst, enough rude words as to offend your parents’ ears, and all played on acoustic instruments which would inspire wanna-be musicians to learn to play their songs. I rarely give money to buskers, but if ever I hear one playing Add It Up I will literally empty my wallet into their flat cap.

So here are my favourite songs from that album; like I say there isn’t a duff tune amongst the ten, so it’s quite tricky to just pick four or five out, but I’ll give it a go:

Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun

Violent Femmes – Kiss Off

The next one contains some effing and jeffing; please approach with caution:

Violent Femmes – Add It Up

Altogether now: “Third verse, same as the first!”:

Violent Femmes – Prove My Love

As covered by Gnarls Barkley (aka CeeLo Green & Danger Mouse):

Violent Femmes – Gone Daddy Gone

And finally, possibly the most gorgeously yearning album closer ever; listen to this and you will understand why I didn’t want that phone call to end:

Violent Femmes – Good Feeling

Okay, that was six. Close enough.

Which brings me to that live footage I mentioned earlier. Recorded at London’s Lyceum Theatre back in 1984, broadcast in the wee small hours on regional TV, this is Violent Femmes performing the opening salvo from that album, and demonstrating why, if you’re filming your own gig, it’s essential that you make sure the cameraman is a fan:

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For

It certainly hasn’t escaped my attention, but I bet you haven’t even noticed, that Glastonbury officially starts on Friday and I am not there.

I mention this because the last time I went, two years ago, it was the Wednesday before it officially kicks off that I arrived.

Actually, I arrived late on the Tuesday night, but you’re not permitted onsite before Wednesday morning, so I, along with the group of folks I was camping with, only one of whom I’d met before, had met in one of the fields doubling up as a car park, like some weird dogging jamboree where everyone had arrived thoroughly prepared to get drunk to dull the pain of what was about to happen.

From there, we set off to join the impressively and annoyingly big queue for the gates.

And there we remained until early Wednesday morning, when the gates opened and what had been a reasonably orderly queue transformed into a mad free for all scrum to get inside.

Once inside, our group reconvened at our chosen spot for camping, and we all set about constructing our living quarters for the next few nights.

Although the gates had opened at 9am (I think), it was mid-day before we reached this spot, and, just like today, it was a gloriously hot and sunny day:


Noel Coward – Mad Dogs and Englishmen

By around 1pm, my tent was up, my mattress fully inflated, the contents of my rucksack strewn across the floor of my tent to make any potential thieves think someone had beaten them to it, and so it was at this point, with sweat dripping from every pore, that I decided now would be the moment to demonstrate to my new found buddies just what I do better than anything else in the world.

Have a kip.

I reckon if you asked any of that gang their thoughts on me by the end of the weekend, they would probably say: “Sleeps a lot.”

And they’d be right, and I’d be rightly proud.

But on this occasion, I had made one fatal error; I crawled into my tent, flopped down on my back, and lay with my feet and lower parts of my legs sticking out. It would create an amusing image for any passers-by, I thought.

When I awoke an hour or so later, my legs and feet were, of course, very sunburned, making any attempts to walk for the rest of the weekend an unpleasant and painful chore.


Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun

I soldiered on, of course. Aided by lots of tactical snoozes throughout the weekend with my legs safely covered.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

I had a lot of fun doing the sweary edition of Friday Night Music Club last week, so much so that, devoid of anything approaching an original idea, I thought I’d simply repeat the same trick tonight. If it works for the Quo, then why can’t it work for me?

So – be careful where you read this or listen to tonight’s post, for it is definitely NSFW, as I believe they say in some of the slightly bluer areas of the internet which I have definitely never visited and have only heard about, honest Officer.

But we’ll take it gently for a start. Well, gentle sounding anyway.

Darren Hayman is perhaps best known as the main man from Hefner, who gained a whole lot of airplay and blog-inches a couple of years ago because of their track “The Day Thatcher Dies”. Just as Prince wrote “1999”, Jarvis wrote “Disco 2000” and whoever it was that used to write Robbie Williams’ songs wrote “Millenium” all played the long-game and wrote singles about, end of the world excepted, fixed points in time in the future that would definitely happen (and their record would be played) so Hayman knew his ker-ching day would come soon enough.

But I’m not posting that song. I’m posting this rather lovely sounding track from his “January Songs” album, featuring Elizabeth Morris from indie-pop darlings and inverted comma users nightmare “Allo’ Darlin'”:


147. Darren Hayman – I Know I Fucked Up

Keeping it in a similar vein, here’s Jenny Owen Youngs from her debut album “Batten the Hatches”, which implies a pending storm, whirlwind, or hurricane, and is, I’m sure you’ll agree once you hear this, rather mistitled:


148. Jenny Owen Youngs – Fuck Was I

Now it’s not often you get a song with a four word title where three of the four words are swears. But here’s one from a rather unlikely source: daughter of Canadian American folk rock singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III (who older readers might recall used to have a guest slot on one of Jasper Carrott’s TV shows in the 1970s/1980s), daughter of folk legend Kate McGarrigle and brother of Rufus, here’s Martha Wainwright at her potty-mouthed best:

Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

149. Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

This gives me an excellent excuse to post the time that she appeared as a panellist on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” where she met the man with both the mind and the cock of a horse, Dappy, and…well, let’s just say it’s a little awkward (head to 11:24 of the clip):

Moving on, a song which surely needs no introduction:


150. Radiohead – Creep

Two memories from this: firstly, of the time the video appeared on Beavis and Butthead which rather annoyingly has been blocked on that there YouTube, but which I’ve managed to track down here. Actually, make that three memories, as watching that has just brought back lots of dial-up experiences of “buffering” (it works better the second time you try to watch it, honest). “If they didn’t have a part of the song that sucked, then the rest of the song wouldn’t be as cool.” Genius.

Secondly, or thirdly depending how you want to look at it, I was working in a video shop in Cardiff in the early 1990s when this came out, and I had, you’ll be totally unsurprised to hear, prepared a load of mix-tapes to play in store, one of which included this, but the clean, radio-friendly version. One of the chaps who worked in the store with me was unaware of this, and was at the front of the shop one evening helping someone pick a movie, when he heard the opening bars of this come on and thought to himself “There’s a very good reason why this should not get played in the store” but couldn’t quite remember what that reason was. The penny dropped just as it got to the bit where chainsaw guitars get cranked up (the cool bit), and he ran the length of the shop, vaulted over the counter, crashed into the bank of TVs and slid down to where the tape player was, just in time of the sanitised “…so very special…” came through the speakers.

Anyway, Radiohead recorded a clean version of “Creep” to ensure it finally got airplay, but there’s another way to ensure you get a single with a swear word on it played: have just one swear word, sung once, right at the end, when radio DJs are concentrating more on what they’re going to say next than on what is being played.

Step up to the mic Michael Stipe and his R.E.M. chums for this, the lead single and opening track from their 1994 “Monster” album. The final departing lyrical salvo, in case you don’t quite catch it, is “Don’t fuck with me”:


151. R.E.M. – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

A short non-musical interlude now. The relationship between Black Francis and Kim Deal of Pixies fame was notoriously fractious, and nowhere was that better illustrated than with this sound-clip which features as a track on the glorious “Surfer Rosa” album.


152. Pixies – You Fucking Die!

Yeh, course you were, Francis.

Moving on, I mentioned Jarvis Cocker earlier, so here’s something from his second solo album, “Further Complications” where Jarvis goes down the R.E.M. route of steadfastly not swearing until right at the end, but kind of misses the point by a) putting the offending word in the title, and b) not actually releasing it as a single anyway so it didn’t really matter:


153. Jarvis Cocker – Fuckingsong

Now: a band I adore, who John Peel loved, who are vastly under-rated, have never achieved anything like the commercial success they deserve, and have produced a whole host of songs which will unquestionably feature in my “Name That Tune” thread. I speak, of course, of none other than Half Man Half Biscuit, and this features as one of three songs on the “Dickie Davies Eyes” EP:


154. Half Man Half Biscuit – The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman

And in case you were wondering who Dean Friedman is:

Dean is the one playing the piano. Quite the dish, eh ladies?

If you think Half Man Half Biscuit have a daft name, then you’ll probably not be much of a fan of Pop Will Eat Itself’s name either, but that’s where we’re heading next, so tough titties. No swears in the title this time, but if you ever want to hear two former crusties/UK sampling pioneers from the Black Country bellowing the word “Motherfuckers!” then this is your go-to record:


155. Pop Will Eat Itself – Get the Girl! Kill The Baddies!

And since we seem to have strayed into kinda dancey territory, here’s some pure filth courtesy of John Creamer, a name which always makes me giggle like a naughty schoolboy, same as when anyone ever mentions the band “Tool”. We’re back in Beavis and Butthead territory I’m afraid, or more specifically, this chap:


Anyway, I digress. The next song is without doubt the filthiest thing I will be posting tonight, so please do not listen if you are under 18, easily offended, or sitting at your desk at work:


156. John Creamer – Fuck Sonnet (Vocal Mix)

There was a trend on club records about 10 – 12 years ago or so – probably still is for all I know, it’s that long since I’ve been to one – for the vocal part to just be just a deep voiced bloke spouting all sorts of sauciness. There is one in particular that I’d love to track down, which I won’t bore you with here, but if you know someone who really knows their dance tunes that fit that vague description, I’d really appreciate it if they got in touch.

Public service request dispensed with, here’s someone neither you nor I ever expected to pop up here:


157. Miley Cyrus – Fuckin Fucked Up

No wait, come back! This is lifted from her 2015 album where she collaborated with The Flaming Lips, and you can spot their wonderfully weird influence all over this. Plus, it’s only 50 seconds long so…y’know…suck it up and give it a go.

Time for a classic. This next song was the first ever song to get into the UK Top 40 that had the word “Fuck” in the title. The BBC banned it, of course; when they simply had to refer to it, they did so as “Too Drunk To…” and Top 40 host Tony Blackburn, who the BBC also banned from their airwaves last week just said it was a “a record by a group calling themselves The Dead Kennedys”. It is, of course:


158. Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck

In this week of controversial songs, perhaps one of the most controversial songs ever. From their “Straight Outta Compton” album:


159. N.W.A. – Fuck Tha Police

Which reminds me, I must watch the movie sometime.

Anyway, thank goodness for Adam Buxton’s cleaned up version:

Some of you may recognise the driver as Kerry Godliman, perhaps best known as playing Hannah in the Ricky Gervais comedy “Derek”, but a fantastic stand-up in her own right:

Back to the music, and a band much loved by Super Furry Animals, who they sampled on their indie-club classic “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” single, the sample being lifted from this very song:


160. Steely Dan – Show Biz Kids

Personally, I’m not all that fussed about that; I find myself not really paying attention until it gets to the bit that SFA sampled, at which point I suddenly perk up and start listening again.

On to a band whose debut eponymous album I was introduced to at college by a friend ringing me up, saying “You have to hear this” and playing this track down the phone to me:


161. Violent Femmes – Add It Up

This is one of my favourite albums ever, all killer no filler, but most people only seem to know  “Blister in the Sun”, the opening song from the album. For me, though, “Add It Up” is the best thing on there, partly because of that phone call, but mostly, if I’m honest, because it pretty much describes my life at the time. And a disappointingly large amount of it afterwards too, now I think about it.

Which makes the next song title rather apt. The B-side to their wonderful and without peer 7″ single “What Do I Get?” – which we used to do a cover of in the band I was in at college:


162. Buzzcocks – Oh Shit!

We’re on the home straight now, don’t fret.

Penultimately, a song by a group – no, by two groups – no, by a super-group that I waxed lyrical about after seeing them at Glastonbury last year. The amalgamation of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks into FFS:


163. FFS – Piss Off

And finally a song by an artiste/band that I own only this by, and even this I only own on “Sharks Patrol These Waters”, a CD featuring the best of those “Volume” compilations that came out in the 1990s (you remember them – they always came with a quite meaty book which talked about all of the acts contained therein and without fail had a picture of tropical fish on the cover)

Like this, in fact:


164. Mindless Drug Hoover – Fuck Off

All I can tell you about them (him?) is that they (he?) released one album in 1997 called “Don’t Take Ecstacy” which sounds like a terrible idea to me, and probably explains why I never bought anything else by them (him?)

Anyway, that’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.