The final part of this personal musicology. Coincidentally this week the Guardian and Observer decided to bombard us with the 1000 songs you must hear, obviously inspired by this meme. Time to get this finished before YouTube delete all of the music videos…
My only joke inclusion. Or is it? This is Take That singing Could it be Magic from 1992. I have a theory that the director of this video had taken something very strong on the day of the shoot. Everything is crammed in to make it fun; there’s a couple of pretty girls dancing. Also some urgent car mechanics. Then, suddenly, a settee! A bicycle! It’s interesting that the reformed Take That stand very still when they sing, completely opposite to their early incarnation. Proof that there is a cure for ants in the pants.
I urge you to watch this video! Ooh … doesn’t Robbie look young!
Feargal Sharkey has been vocal in the current YouTube rights debate, so I though it only fitting to include The Undertones.
This clip of the Velvet Underground could easily be mistaken for a spoof, although student parties never really got much better than this.
For an eternity I’ve been trying to decide between Scott Walker and Paul Weller. Sorry Paul.
Swindon’s finest, XTC. And Richard Branson in a bizarre acting role.
The Young Knives, Ashby-de-la-Zouch’s finest. I love this League of Gentlemen ish video.
It’s Zager and Evans! Bad miming, but one of my all time favourite singles. And still a very worthy warning, although they didn’t manage to predict the internet and social networking.
More trawling through my listening collection for the penultimate post in this mammoth A-Z music meme.
Admittedly I had a lot of trouble with N. I wanted to feature New Order, but thought it Manchester overkill, especially as I’ve previously featured Joy Division and Magazine. I toyed, very briefly, with Gary Numan. Then I remembered Kate Nash with this fantastic song. Miles above the higher-profiled Lily Allen.
In the early 80s Top of the Pops didn’t always know what to do with the more unusual chart bands. I’ve already featured the off the wall Associates, and here’s another Scottish band from the period who the BBC decided to surround with dancing girls. During this decade, pop was a party for the BBC. Fun, balloons and gurning DJs. Orange Juice were a great pop band, but somehow didn’t quite gel with the party they were thrust into here.
P is for Pink Floyd and my chance to feature the great Syd Barrett. The internet was a dream come true for Barrett obsessives, YouTube even more so, with obscure footage surfacing of his post-Floyd life. I’m going for the traditional, this promo for the Floyd’s extraordinary first record Arnold Layne.
Next to I, Q was my most difficult letter. And I don’t like Queen, so who else to choose from? There’s always ? Mark and the Mysterians with this jolly tune.
I’ve had a funny relationship with the Rolling Stones, going through lengthy periods of not liking them at all. But this clip of Gimme Shelter is unbeatable. Notice the ? on Mick Jagger’s shirt? I haven’t just thrown this together you know.
It’s got to be The Smiths. Don’t accuse the young Morrissey of being a poser because, for me, The Smiths helped rid the world of the posers of 80s music. Morrissey could look cool in a pair of old jeans – there was no longer a requirement for the elitist fashion of the Kings Road. At last! When The Smiths emerged I’d already been wearing my granddad coat for a couple of years. Now I found a new avenue for my wardrobe – flowery shirts! Quiffs were allowed!
The Smiths were a part of my growing up, and I can align memories of where I was and what I was doing with the release of every one of their albums. I’m glad that Morrissey is still around, still successful and still making records, but he’s a shadow of his former self. He sings a rather pitiful version of This Charming Man with his current band, but here’s the original in all its glory. The business.
Here goes with the second instalment of the bands A-Z. More sorting through old albums, more jotting down indecipherable lists and more time spent listening to obscure indie bands from the early 80s.
To begin with, a record I’d forgotten about from the late 80s by Australian band The Go-Betweens:
2009 sees the 30th anniversary of The Specials, with the ageing rude boys back on tour. Terry Hall has appeared under a number of different guises since they first split in 1981, including Fun Boy Three and this lot, The Colourfield. This is a one of his shorter lived combos dating from 1985. Later still, I saw Terry Hall live at the Shepherds Bush Empire in 1994, supporting The Lightning Seeds. His solo album from the same year was a big favourite at the time. Usually dubbed as a misery guts, this is an upbeat track that debunks the image.
Okay, I was a tricky one. Especially as I detest INXS and don’t really care much for The Inkspots. What else is there to choose? But then I remembered Janis Ian and this song from the mid seventies which I’ve always had a soft spot for.
Joy Division were near the top of my list before I’d even started sorting my alphabet. This is a band I’ve listened to through vinyl, CD and digital music. As a very young lad I listened to John Peel’s radio show in the early 1980s under the duvet cover. Literally, with tinny radio and earpiece. I hope my mother isn’t reading this. Those ten to midnight midweek slots were a revelation for me, opening a world of strange and brilliant music quite different and quite superior to the usual chart mush. Best of all was Joy Division.
A few years ago I bought the deluxe 3-CD set of Village Green Preservation Society for a Christmas present to myself. Call me an anorak, or more kindly a Kinks completist, but I love the album in any version. Ten or so years ago I saw Ray Davies in concert, still on top form.
I have a theory that John Lennon went completely mad in about 1968 and never really recovered from the loony world he fell into. This is one of my all time favourite clips, the only time he appeared as a solo artist on Top of the Pops singing Instant Karma. It’s brilliant, but crazy. Look into his eyes, not around the eyes, but into the eyes. He is mad.
To conclude here’s Magazine, featuring the very eerie Howard Devoto. Until next time enjoy this forgotten gem of a band…
Inspired by Chartroose, an alphabatical trawl through my favourite music. When considering this exercise I first thought about consulting my vinyl collection. Ah… my poor vinyl collection, yellowing sleeves squeezed together and gathering dust in the corner of the spare room. But I just didn’t have the courage to face those long neglected records. So instead, I turned to my iTunes library, with a flippant if it’s not on there, it’s not a favourite approach.
However. My iTunes collection was a touch uninspiring. And as I’ve written about it quite a lot recently, I was faced with no option other than guiltily climbing the stairs to face the music…
Here goes then. Artists beginning with…
The Associates enjoyed some success in the early 80s. Despite being touted as the band to be scaling great musical heights unfortunately this never happened, and they faded into obscurity. A shame, but I think this clip of them performing 18 Carat Love Affair reveals their couldn’t-care-less attitude towards that serious thing called the music business. They had quite a lot of charm, perhaps not needed for success in a climate where the Durans and Spandaus triumphed.
Alas, they threw all their money away on chocolate and never had another hit after this.
I wanted to avoid The Beatles in this listing but it’s difficult to find anything else warranting a “B”, even my obscure Easy Listening album Beatles Bach and Bacharach Go Bossa has a Fab Four connection. So here’s my Beatly anecdote, a transcript of my short meeting and exchange with Paul McCartney as I remember it:
the scene is just before a recording of Top of the Pops
Me: could you sign this please?
he begins to sign his name but has difficulty because the ink has run dry. He turns to somebody in the shadows and asks to borrow their pen. He signs the autograph and hands it back to me along with my faulty pen.
Me: thanks. Sorry about that
McCartney: it always happens
Now I suppose that was something of a wasted opportunity, and I could have quizzed him about his days in Hamburg, the cruel side of John Lennon or even the hidden meanings behind the songs on The White Album, but hasn’t he had all that a million times before? And when you come face to face with a surviving Beatle you do just tend to crumble a little.
For an alternative “B” how about an artist that isn’t, unlike most of my choices, actually alternative. John Barry is famous for co-writing the best of the Bond themes but also wrote countless other music for movies and tv including The Ipcress File, Born Free and The Quiller Memorandum. In many ways Barry appeared to effortlessly create the soundtrack to an entire era.
Somehow Persuaders episodes never lived up to their great opening titles and music.
Back to my more recent collection for this one from Graham Coxon. I kept changing the clip below in a bid to sell Mr Coxon to the uninitiated, showing him in the best possible light, but he probably wouldn’t thank me for such a marketing scam. So here he is in all his nerdy glory.
The real brains behind Blur, and no mistake.
Today I rediscovered New Boots and Panties by Ian Dury and the Blockheads in my vinyl collection. I was lucky to see the late Mr Dury twice in concert, once at the Brixton Academy in 1990 and then again a couple of years later supporting Madness and Morrissey at the notorious Finsbury Park concert. Here’s a clip from the very odd Revolver, introduced by Peter Cook:
The Lionel Bart of the 70s!
In the early 1980s Ian McCulloch earned himself the nickname Mac the mouth. The music papers loved any band frontman who spoke an endless stream of bollocks, and the lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen fitted the bill perfectly. He was eventually surpassed by Morrissey, who spoke an equal amount of, although a different kind of, bollocks.
During my delve I uncovered a couple of records by the Cocteau Twins. I remembered this Cocteau Twins/Felt collaboration Primitive Painters which I found on YouTube. I’m listening to Felt right now and they’re great. Sadly forgotten.
Look at that hat!
More episodes of this series will follow, but I’m waiting for Chartroose to take the lead. Keep watching though, as I have a really good Z!
Time for the first lines meme. This is the meme where you quote the first sentence from your first post for every month of the last year.
David Thewlis is a British actor who has appeared on screen in Mike Leigh’s Naked, the violent thriller Gangster Number 1 with Malcolm McDowell and the ill-fated The Island of Doctor Moreau with Marlon Brando.
Since closing the last page of Cold Mountain I’ve been considering quietly forgetting this book, leaving a small gap and then swiftly moving onto the next.
A meme to keep things ticking over – if you’d like to join in.
Browsing in a second hand bookshop, I overhead a customer making an unusual enquiry.
Then we Came to the End by Joshua Ferris gave me one of the strangest reading experiences of recent years.
Devil May Care is a new James Bond novel written by Sebastian Faulks to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth.
Unusual for a music autobiography, Alex James hasn’t used a ghost writer for his memoir Bit of a Blur.
Inspired by Simon’s post I’ve been giving some thought to my holiday reading this year.
Call me unusual, but I found Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 perfect summer reading.
It’s October time again so my choice in fiction is already turning towards the dark, haunted and peculiar.