Rock. Sea. Music

I wish I could remember when I first heard this.  I’m sure I’d have thought that it was pretty awful; that keyboard intro is all out of key (or so it seems to me, having no musical ability whatsoever) and Ferry’s vocals are challenging at best.  And yet I listen to it today and rate it as my favourite Roxy track among many other outstanding offerings.  I suppose I heard it in the dorm’ at school, or perhaps the dayroom.  I certainly recall seeing the cover of their subsequent album, Country Life.  Yes, I would have studied that for some time, I’m sure.

This record marks the end of the Eno era.  You have to wonder what would have become of Roxy Music had he stayed.

When you look at the band and at the look of the band, coupled with that noise, it’s difficult not to hanker after a return to something more avant garde in today’s music.  Can you return to the avant garde?  I doubt it, but I want to see and hear something more radical now and again.

Having said all that, today I heard an old favourite from an electronica band from the mid 90s.  Next, it’s a bit of Jazz, but without the jazz.

Sometimes, the drugs do work*

Every time I hear this record I picture myself in the 5th form study at school.  Every time I picture myself in the 5th form study listening to this record, I tell myself that I must be wrong and that I have simply imagined the scene.  I would have been in my final year at school, trying to steel myself for my A-Levels, probably wandering around the house checking on my subjects, stealing their biscuits and drinking their coffee, claiming the most comfortable chair on which to relax for a few minutes before returning to my own private (i.e. not shared) study to resume learning quotations from Hamlet and MacBeth.  The point is, this was 1980.  Could this song really have been playing at that time?  It still feels really fresh and modern to me, almost 35 years later.  I checked.  It was released in April 1980.  It’s a genuine memory.  I think it had been bought, or brought in to the study, by Glyn ‘shit, piss, ditto’ Morgan, showing remarkable taste for one so square.  Again, lovely bass on this.

I am rather ashamed to admit that I don’t have anything by The Cure in my collection.  This bothers me, especially when looking for this, I have realised that they have a terrific body of work.  Fear not, there will be more.

I’ve been listening to a documentary about Glam Rock, so stand by for something from that era from the art-school end of the spectrum.

Footnote:  Last I heard, Morgan was a hot-shot lawyer in that London.  Well, a lawyer.  Not sure about the hot-shot bit. ;)  Hi Glyn!

*It’s The Cure, you see…

… you got what you wanted

Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.

I have to admit that I find Mr Lydon rather tiresome these days.  He has become a kind of caricature of himself, continually spouting the same old same old to underpin his persona, although he did do a few good shows as a guest presenter on 6Music a few years back.  I’d guess that he is somewhat more mellow in person than his (public) image will allow.  Whatever his shortcomings, I do think he has made some really interesting records.  His Sex Pistols stuff is a given, but I also rate the Leftfield track, as you will know if you read this back in August.  I think Public Image Ltd was his first post-Pistols work and this record reminds me of being 16.

It has a few things to make it stand out.  That opening bass line, courtesy of Jah Wobble I believe(?), Lydon with relatively normal hair and that perfect ending to the song.  Goodbye.

When I say relatively normal hair, I’m thinking normal in the sense that it like Robert Smith’s, which has to be a good thing.  Guess where that is going to take me tomorrow!

A Cole, but no Commotion

Although I don’t have anything by Nat King Cole in my box of records and CDs, I can’t get through this without hearing his voice.  I associate his singing with family Christmases, partly because we’d hear his rendition of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) on the radio every years, but partly because I’m pretty certain that one year when we were up in Sunningdale (always a great venue for Christmas when we were kids) Reg bought Mart a copy of When I Fall in Love.  I was rather shocked to learn that he died at just 45 years old.  Nat, not Reg.

His delivery was certainly interesting.  He wasn’t going to be rushed, was he?

Another crossing of the spectrum next, to a certain Mr Lydon in one of his projects.

Flaming Hell, what a racket…

There’s another Flaming Lips record that came to mind first when I was thinking about today’s song, and I’ll probably go back to find it in due course, but this little gem marks the point at which I came to know about the band.  I have to admit that each time I hear this I really wish the producer had taken the drums down a bit in the mix, but then again, this is The Flaming Lips and they generally do something a little off kilter with their music.  I’m rather fond of Wayne Coyne.  When I hear him talking I kind of wish I could invite him round for dinner for a chat, ’cause I just know he’d be really entertaining.  That’s not something I’d say about many artists, as you know what they say about not meeting your heroes?   Coyne’s is another of those voices that would never have got past a panel of talent show judges, so that has to be a good thing.

I’ve never seen this before.  I have no idea what’s going on.  Just what I expected.

At the other end of the spectrum is tomorrow’s choice.  I heard on of his songs on a documentary on the radio this morning and thought that here is a voice that would wow any panel of judges, anywhere.  Unforgettable.

This is Phil Talking

There is something wonderfully hypnotic about this record.  Yes, they only sing the words hard times about 43,000 (hard) times, and the old-fashioned grumpy lot among you will say “oh, I could’ve written that!”  Well, yes.  But this came out of Sheffield in 1981.  Sheffield, for heaven’s sake!  Of course it was hard times.  It holds a special place for me, not because I used to frequent some sweaty club with this blasting out and making me tummy rumble – you know the feeling…? – but because I had the 12″ single which used to be my chosen disc having reassembled my hi-fi after moving house and checking that everything still worked and sounded okay.  It could have been Mike Oldfield or Junior, or any one of the others, but I always chose this.  Dunno why, apart from the fact that it sounded great with the Kefs turned up to 11.

I like the fact that you can hear the opening bars of Love Action (I Believe in Love) just bleeding into the track.  It was a double A-side.

Oh, what the hell, I’m counting them as one as I could never listen to one without the other, so here’s that side too (two).

Actually, you need to see Phil’s haircut and that Susanne/Joanne dancing stuff.  The eighties, eh?  Bonkers.

Tomorrow, a band who’ve just done something good (apparently) with Ms Cyrus.  But not that, obviously.

TRBeleive me, this is marvellous

We used to listen to the Tom Robinson band in the study and day-rooms at school, and the album from which this track comes became a firm favourite.  (I saw a pristine copy – vinyl, obviously -in a charity shop a few years ago and have been kicking myself ever since.  Just a quid and I left it there in the rack.  What a pillock!)

Back when I first discovered BBC 6Music, I used to listen to Andrew Collins in the late afternoon, and he always handed over to Tom at seven.  After several attempts, I finally persuaded Andrew to play this at the end of the show – I think it was the first time I’d ever heard it on the radio.  Hardly surprising as the content is still pretty controversial (if you are of a particular political persuasion), but it remains a wonderful record with a message which is as potent today as it was back at the end of the seventies.  It also boasts one of my favourite bass lines.  Ever.

If you are easily offended by certain *ahem* words, you may want to look away now.

Now I’m wondering how to follow that.  Part of me wants to bring in that tune by The Darkness, the name of which escapes me right now, but I can’t honestly say it’s up there in my top 500, let alone top 365, so that ain’t going to happen.  Rather, the earlier mention of vinyl has reminded me of a 12″ single I have in a box somewhere. A record by one of Sheffield’s electronic new wave(?) bands.  Listen out for the lyric.  You’ll soon pick it up.



For Molly

A change of plan today as I just had some sad news.  A good friend finally lost her battle with illness and died yesterday morning, so I wanted something more appropriate than my planned offering.

Molly Radford was a good friend neighbour to mum and dad over the last fourteen years or so, and she and her husband Brian also became good friends to me and my family during our visits to Oswestry.  I know the folks back home will be really feeling her loss, even though she had been ill for some time, so a song like this may help raise the spirits.   I have to admit that I have no idea what kind of music appealed to Molly.  I do know she was a keen and accomplished golfer, so I considered Straight Down the Middle by Bing Crosby, but that tune has no particular meaning to me.  However, since she was also a regular bridge player, there could only be one choice.  Okay, the link is slightly tenuous, but this is a firm favourite of mum and a defining moment of my own pop music history.  I probably heard this record more than any other before I reached the age of ten.  It’s goosebump time again, and maybe there’ll be a tear or two.

What a fabulous tune.

(Gordon) Bennet

I genuinely have no idea about this band, except that I assume they are British, based on the subject matter of the song and the lack of a foreign accent in the singer(s) voice(s).  The video is a bit of a giveaway, too.  Very British.  I remember hearing this on the radio, almost certainly being championed by Simon Mayo back in his Radio 1 days.  I’m pretty sure it got a few airings on The Evening Session as well. Either way, I reckon it is a rather exceptional pop song and I am surprised they never repeated the success of this (assuming of course that it had some success.  By which I mean that it probably made the Top 40 and they ought to have had at least one Top of the Pops outing.  Even more surprising is that, as far as I am aware, the titular supermarket didn’t exploit the recording in any way.  Part of me wishes the band refused any association; another part hopes that the lyrics were unsuitable; another part finds it a shame that the band didn’t cash in on the opportunity.  Kerching!

Great little guitar riff.  I bought the single during my CD single buying phase, which reminds me of another favourite from the same period by a band called Gay Dad. Yes, really.  However, instead of bringing you their tune, I will return to another offering from an old favourite by a gay dad and his band.

Once a Sugar Cube

Last year, my wife curated an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei.  She was fortunate enough to gain the support of Björk, or at least Björk’s record company (One Little Indian), and the show included a screening of Wanderlust.  It’s not the most commercial of her recordings, but the video is well worth a look, especially if you can get it in 3D.

This choice probably marks the moment at which I became aware of this unusual young woman with the very distinctive voice, although (as has often been the case) I imagine The Sugar Cubes may well have featured on John Peel’s show over the years.  This has an underlying groove that I like, tying everything together at that nice gentle pace.  The video is a bit bonkers – as you’d expect, perhaps – but I enjoyed watching it and for the handful of other brilliant Björk tracks that were thrown up when searching and browsing.  I could well include a second entry before the year is out.

I can hardly play an Icelandic musician without being drawn to a single referring to that country.  Tune in tomorrow, Gordon.