Not Summer Nights but Saturday Night

I must admit, I was sorely tempted to include a bit of Grease action today.  Summer Nights is a great pop tune, and it’s even better when seen in the context of the fillum (I think I may have had a crush on Ms Newton-John), but I don’t think the song is genuinely up there in my all time greats. Sorry about that. I can bring you some Travolta, however.  One of the great opening scenes to any film, I reckon, and a tune that should get me strutting around a bit this afternoon.  If only I still had the hair…

And if you can cope with the tight white trousers:

Let’s face it, the whole Saturday Night Fever soundtrack is rather special, if a little dated.  It was 1977, for God’s sake!  The queen had only been on the throne for 25 years.

I suppose this means I have to go to the Sex Pistols next.  Seems fair enough.

Weller Weller Weller, huh. Tell me more, tell me more…

I’m under pressure here.  How do I choose a favourite Weller track?  Impossible, I suppose, so I decided to go with the first of the singles I bought shortly before I invested in the Wild Wood album (and I came close to changing my mind and choosing Wild Wood itself today).  I seem to recall that PW drifted out of the limelight for a few years after the demise of The Style Council and I completely missed his first solo album, so it was really heartening to hear his solo work for the first time.  He could have turned into some flabby old has-been crooner (ha ha, not bloody likely!) and come back with some trite nonsense, but ever the innovator, here was a new Weller.  Same haircut, same chewing gum, but a new and exciting sound.  God bless ‘im, the old curmudgeon!  In fact, he was on the radio the other morning (and several other times in recent years), and I’m happy to report that he seems much more at ease with the world.  You can sense that he’s actually smiling a bit.  He did a great show with none other than Bradley Wiggins on 6Music a while back. Which was nice.

I found a couple of live versions on Later with Jules.  Compare and contrast:

Having just thought of that title, I feel I should acknowledge its source.  Stay tuned for more rock and roll, leather and Brylcreem.

Sparky’s Dream

If there is a better indie pop tune than this, I’ve yet to hear it, and what I don’t understand is why this never became a massive hit.  According to that Internet, it reached the dizzy heights of number 40 on the UK chart.  No, I didn’t buy a copy.  I don’t even recall hearing about the band until I discovered 6Music.  How come they weren’t on the Radio 1 playlist back in the day?  Maybe they were, but I was looking the other way.  If you don’t know it, have a proper listen and tell me if you think I’m exaggerating.  Bloody brilliant tune.

I had an email exchange with my oldest mate the other day, so I have been thinking about the one and only Mr P Weller.  Time for one of his solo efforts.

Scrub Away the SR Way

Today I’m going with another choice from my late teens.  I can’t really think of another punk ballad hit record, if indeed that is what this should be labelled.  The other X-ray Spex tune I know well is Oh Bondage Up Yours, but I think I prefer this for its melancholy, it’s melody and its lyrics.  Front woman Poly Styrene was the antithesis of the typical female pop stars of the seventies, proudly displaying those braces on her teeth.  She died a few years ago, in her early fifties, although I have no idea what became of her in the intervening years.  Here’s a tune that could and should get stuck in your head for a day or two.

The label on the clip is wrong.  It should read Germfree Adolescents.

Next, a cracking pop tune from another band from Scotland.  How they never became massive is beyond me.  They must have had a large, youthful following if their name is anything to go by.

 

On the Beach

Chris Martin has been in the news recently, along with a number of other so-called celebrities, contributing to Bob Geldof’s latest Band Aid venture.  I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but can’t be bothered to expand on the issue right now.  It has reminded me of this early offering from Coldplay; I have this track on a compilation album somewhere.  I think Parachutes was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, so it was probably on the album featuring a track from each of the nominees that year.  Whatever you think about Coldplay and their oeuvre (and they do seem to have become the recipients of an inordinate amount of stick since they became so successful) this is a beautiful song.  One which they’ve yet to better, in my view.

Charlie Higson was on the radio this morning, making the perfectly reasonable assertion that it’s the music from your teenage years that is ‘hardwired’ into your system and which remains the bedrock of your musical taste.  I feel much better about some of my choices now, many of which come from the late seventies.  Next, another from the golden era of singers with wonderful names with a song connected to the mundane task of teeth cleaning.

Well Jel’

I genuinely know nothing at all about The Rapture (and I doubt they were actually named after the Blondie record, but it made a good clue), but I do know that this is a terrific record.  Okay, the singer’s a bit shouty/screechy, but that fits just fine with the tune and the theme.  I remember hearing it during my student days, perhaps even at Loughborough Student Union’s Friday Night Disco (FND).  I was there to drive the kids home on the night bus, but it’s another of those tracks which could almost have forced me to throw some shapes on the dance floor.  Just as well I didn’t though, eh?

For the record, I detest the expression well jel’, largely because it’s used when the word jealous is not appropriate.  That is, people are using jealous when they mean envious.  So there.

Now I’m in need of something more gentle.  Envy makes me think of green, but it’s another colour and another debut, but this time a debut top five hit (rather than a debut single) which propelled the band to stardom.

Dire? Not really.

I can place myself sitting in the 6th form common room listening to this.  It would be safe to assume that it was immediately preceded (and succeeded) by something from The Stranglers or The Jam or Ian Dury and the Blockheads, so what was it doing on the record player?  Who knows?  Like the Squeeze single featured in yesterday’s post, this was something new and different and someone had the foresight and confidence to throw in a song which had the quality to hold its own, even though it lasted almost six minutes – that’s two singles for the price of one, near as damn it.  I can still listen to this and find myself mesmerised in some way by the gentle groove threading its way through to the twiddly guitar ending.  I don’t own anything by Dire Straits and, in spite of their massive success, I never really had the same sense of wonder at any of their subsequent releases.  It’s that curse of the brilliant debut.

Earlier today, I heard a track by a band named (I assume) after a Blondie track, so I have to feature their record tomorrow.

Earlier with Jules

I still find it hard to believe that this came out in 1978.  Just what had they been listening to before coming up with a record like this in the immediate post-punk era?  It doesn’t conform to any kind of genre I can think of and if it were released today, I’d still rate it as modern.  It’s another of those brilliant debut singles, but in this case, Difford and Tilbrook developed into one of the great songwriting partnerships of the late 20th century and a quick squint through their back-catalogue reveals an amazing sequence of hits.  I’d be hard-pushed to choose a favourite, but this gets an airing now as it reminds me of happy times as I entered the first year of the 6th form and took on responsibility as head of house for the first of two years.  There’s a lovely drum fill in here, too, and don’t forget to look out for a young Jules Holland on the keys.  Whatever happened to him?

Writing this has reminded me of another debut from 1978; another record that was out of time and out of place, but deserves a place in any list of top tunes.  The band went on to become massive, helped by MTV, I believe.

So you think you can tell heaven from hell

I’m not sure where to start with Pink Floyd, because I don’t think I’ve ever quite decided where I stand.  Dark Side of the Moon is in my collection, as it is in the collection of just about everyone of a certain age, no doubt, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.  It has to be, I suppose, as it’s one of those albums which was plugged and played to death by the 6th formers as we dozed off in the dorm all those years ago.  Having said that, I can’t say I have ever been excited by the band or news of the band or news of another album or news of a reunion.  I never felt that kind of connection.  I never knew the names of the band members until relatively recently.  I can’t even be sure which album features this track, but I don’t worry about such things now.  This is just a beautiful song.  It starts quietly, so stick with it and turn up the volume.

This morning I heard the debut hit of a band featuring one of the great British songwriting partnerships.  I’d forgotten just how different it sounded in the early part of the New Wave era.  It could be tight, but I’ll fit in in some how.

I laugh at your conversational skills, or lack of…

Another product from Scotland and a record that reminds me of singledom back in the late nineties.  I never argue if I can help it, mostly because I’m always right, so what’s the point, eh?  When I have to, however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen shapes.  I did see a psychotherapist once, when I was trying to kick a recurring headache problem.  I just wanted to punch him.  Back to Roddy Woomble and Co., and a band I’d place firmly in the underrated section of my favourites.  I was pleased to learn that they are back with new material, so I’ll listen out and let you know if it’s any good.

If anyone could interpret the video, perhaps you’d let me know.

There’s a reference to Sid Barrett in this song, so I suppose I need to remedy the fact that I’ve yet to select a Pink Floyd record.