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.

Not a Sidewalk

I suppose Pavement may well have featured on Peel’s show at some point, but I don’t recall being aware of them until I stated at university in 2001.  One of my classmates lent me a tape or a CD, in return for which I lent him a Smiths CD, as far as I recall.  I like the sound of Pavement because they appear to have a slightly awkward feel to their songs, coupled with Malkmus’s voice, which is not always an easy listen.  They are not a band that you’d immediately appreciate – it takes a few listens to enjoy, if not understand, what they are doing.  I’m sure I’ve read or heard that they were a major influence on a number of other bands, although I can’t remember which.  Would Blur be too late for that?  Not sure…

Anyway, this tune is quirky, unusual, slightly awkward, slightly off-key perhaps, but give it a few listens.  It’s a lovely tune and a great chorus.  The video is new to me.  Absolutely no idea what’s going on there.

My university friend was, and still is I hope, Tom Walker.  He was and still is (again, I hope) also a fan of Björk.  She was going to get a play the other day, so now it seems appropriate to slip in my favourite from the little Icelandic songstress.


The Little Drummer Boy

If ever a record had a punctum, this has to be it.  It’s a good song, not a great song, but it is lifted into a new dimension simply because of that drum fill we all know and love.  Probably.

I wouldn’t admit to being a fan of Phil Collins’s work as a solo artist, but there is no denying that In The Air Tonight still does the old goosebump thing on my arms and legs when the little cheeky chappie launches into the drums.  I am a fan of Phil Collins the drummer, especially when he was the drummer in Genesis before he became the drummer and singer.  For me, PC has (or had) such a relaxed, loose style, he always appeared to be at one with his kit, working with it, rather than fighting it or giving it a good battering.  His energy was less obvious than some of the more aggressive drummers, but he seemed to have a kind of lazy mastery of the art.  It’s not that he made a different sound, as such, but rather that he seemed to do so with finesse.  Not something you’d usually associate with a rock drummer, I’d argue.  There are many Genesis tracks in which the Collins drum fill is the part I listen for most attentively.  No, I probably can’t identify them off the top of my head, but once a track starts, I know one is going to come and I wait for the moment, maybe even re-winding the tune to enjoy it one more time.

The video is not too bad, but some of the film of the live performances of the song are less palatable.  Reaching the drum-kit just in time smacks of rather too much cheese for my taste, although it’s still good to see how that noise was created.

As I was looking for the video, I came across other bits and pieces.  Well worth a look to perhaps get a flavour of what I am trying to describe above.

I guess Mr Collins made a few bob from Cadbury’s following their appropriation of the tune.  Good luck to him.

Earlier today, I heard a clip of a tune from a band introduced to me by a good friend at university, so I shall seek out my favourite of theirs for tomorrow.  An American band with (if you are an English English speaker) a name which means something different in American, although they haven’t messed around with the spelling.

Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick

I’ve never played a musical instrument, not even a recorder as a kid at school.  I always figured that the only thing I’d like to play was the drums.  I couldn’t face the thought of cutting my fingers on guitar strings and a piano-style keyboard always seemed to difficult to fathom.  Why are they all black or white with nothing on them to give a clue as to what not might lurk beneath?  In 1973, a single based around a drummer doing his thing was a revelation; drums could be more than something going on in the background.

I don’t know much about Cozy Powell, and it’s not a name that crops up too often these days.  I know he died relatively young several years ago, after a career working with a number of major bands.  While it’s not the greatest drumming I’ve heard, I still want to have this recording in here as a reminder of the time when I recognised that a bit of percussion could be lifted to a different level in a pop record.

There has been much debate about the best rock drummers and few would argue against the likes of Moon and Bonham and Grohl and Baker and Copeland, among others, but I have to stick with my favourite for my next choice.  He became successful as a solo artist, and has since become a figure of ridicule, rather unfairly, in my view.  Many of his records may not be to my taste, but that’s no reason to ignore his earlier work.  I have a craving for chocolate just now.  Good night.

One Little Indian

Siouxsie Sioux.  What a name, eh?  There were many contenders for best name from the punk era – think Poly Styrene, Sid Vicious, Jet Black, Rat Scabies, Adam Ant (yes, he was punk before turning into that pirate bloke) – but, come on… Siouxie Sioux?!  Brilliant.  When you listen to her and the Banshees, it’s apparent that they were better than punk, really.  They had great pop tunes and I especially like the production on this particular track.  I’ve not highlighted a punctum lately, but the drumming in this (at 1:40, then at the very end) is very definitely what I would term the punctum.  Punktum?  (Sory, if I’ve used that line before.)  It’s a good song, then it becomes a great song thanks to that thumping drum break and ending.  Ooh, I do like a good bit of percussion on a pop record.

As it happens, One Little Indian is the name of Björk’s record company.  I really should add a Bjork track, but I’d already decided that I want to continue with another favourite bit of drumming from a man whose name I’ve not heard for years.

Japan and China

I think this is a rather clever combination of West and East, managing to be both a great pop song while infusing what seem to me to be unmistakably Chinese sounds. Perhaps not, but I like to think so.  David Sylvian’s voice is like no other, so it’s worth a listen for that alone, with the added bonus of that drum break at around 2:20.  I have to admit that I couldn’t place this tune in my musical timeline – there is nothing I can associate with when this was in the charts – and I was alarmed to learn that it dates from 1981.  I’d have bet late eighties, and yet it still doesn’t feel dated.  Mr Sylvian’s hairstyle, however, is a bit of a giveaway.  Shocking.

I can’t help but be drawn to my next choice.  A punk queen (is that possible?) with a marvellous name who sang about a Chinese Takeaway, but a song with another memorable piece of drumming.

Mark and the Boy Lard

I think I need something daft like this to lift my spirits from time to time.  I have a real affection for Radcliffe and Riley; their show on Radio 1 was in a league of its own and I was rather upset when it came to an end.  As well as bringing some half decent records, their daily shenanigans often brought a smile to my lips, if not a chuckle or a guffaw.  I don’t suppose you’d want to listen to The Shire Horses all day, but a quick blast every now and then won’t do you any harm.  I forget who did the original song on which this is based, but I hope they liked it.

I just love the fact that they had an album called Our Kid Eh.  (If you don’t know, Radiohead released an album called Kid A).

We’ve been looking at buying a new car.  Word is that it’s best to go for one from a Japanese company, which seems logical.  By chance, a track by the band named after that country was on the radio a few minutes ago, so I’m going to track down my own favourite of theirs for tomorrow’s installment.