Friday, 31 December 2010

A happy new year

Today I have trampled in the mud and sludge of Danson Park, whilst arguing about this and that. We have travelled to Halfords and purchased a ‘Disney Princess’ Bell and a car vacuum cleaner, we have journeyed to the M&S for a hairbrush and mozzarella. And visted the 'Christmas lights' of Broadwalk.

Once I would be gearing up to listen to the dejaying prowess of Todd Terry in the Leeds Corn Exchange – six hours of the finest house music the world had to offer.

I miss dancing

But I wouldn’t change anything else. Here’s to the new year. I will refuse to describe or engage with the selection - I will simple say it is a tune. Enough said.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

No nostalgia rides

I was on the telephone talking to Paul the other night. About the concretes, his journey around the nation in the grip of ice and snow and how Stephen Pastel had come to walk him back to his hotel. And we spoke of the days when going to a concert was the straightforward. Seeing things is harder these days – for so many reasons – tiredness, disinterest, a better television schedule, fucked transport systems and of course children. Sometimes things just stop. Although I watched the end of some tacked together BBC4 festival programme with abhorrent middle class fathers leading their children through fields of mud in an effort to tap into some sort of a vision of a utopian Britain where everyone – I mean white C2 families can listen to dirge like rock and non threatening ‘other world’ bands whilst their children eat ‘vegan’ foods and paint themselves as they embrace ‘free politics’. I will never parade my children as accessories for festival fun times. I for one am social responsible and secondly – hippies do festivals and you should never trust a hippy.

But sometimes I would like to watch a moment of live music. Now if that moment of live music was a multi-platinum act and tickets were timed to go on sale at 7.16 am on the first Tuesday in March when the moon was waxing and not waning, then I guess I would have to join some sort of internet/ phone ticket system feeding frenzy with the masses – but I mean I would like to watch a band who are not moderately famous – who have not released a record – who have only played a handful of dates. I wanted to watch Jonny.

This crossing over of the independent, because we’re all ‘indie’ now both saddens and utterly unfazes me – I mean I shouldn’t be shocked by the nature of the capitalist control of culture – see how we fetishize all areas of existence. Note the build up to the forthcoming Creation Records documentary – I know I will watch it – will comment on its authentic voice and rally against the Sony sell out saying McGee had no option etc - but really Creation was a record label – it wanted my money – McGee and Dick Green wanted our money. Eventually they got it with the safety of simple driving rock guitars for mindless souls who love to sing in packs and enjoy the mob mentality of the imbecilic sections of the football terraces. Doing it for the kids? Really? Remember this was a label with Momus on it.

However – there was a time when you could turn up at a venue and venture inside and see the acts - without having to have a specific printed out piece of paper with several reference numbers and a time to collect. Of course I have bought tickets in advance – but it was a case of in advance – not at the first point of sale – the very minute they are released. Everyone wants a piece of it nowadays – how can Jonny sell out?

I first saw Euros Childs supporting The Concretes at the ULU in London. I had seen a glimpse of the Scandinavian group on a Glastonbury afternoon programme – they were wearing wigs and singing ‘You can’t hurry love.’ [Not a Phil Collins tribute – more a Nordic Velvets] I told Paul - as ever he had seen it - was already on the concretes tip - as he is wont to do – I bought an album and I thought very little else about it.

I read The Concretes were playing – I gave Paul a ring – we decided to get some tickets - I actually think he had purchased tickets for the tour already - but I was in London so we could go together –there was no rush. We purchased tickets – and Euros was on the supporting bill. First on – early start. He was an absolute revelation – I had dabbled on the outer fringes of the Gorky’s Zygotic Monkey catalogue of sounds. Listened to some Peel sessions, bought an EP but to be honest I didn’t even know who Euros was and that the Gorky’s had split. But I was mesmorised by his performance and that of his band – two from Radio Luxembourg at the time [now Racehorses – and they are always worth a listen with their wonderful craft of Floyd, Furries and Cole Porter ] and Richard/ or James Tam – they were awesome. It was mainly Chops – possibly with Henry and Matilda and Billy the Seagull – and what prime cuts they were – finishing the set with ‘First Time I saw You’ – this brooding, beautiful bass filled grower full of pure sentiment and love. First time I saw you – skirt was white and blue – first time I saw you. And throughout enthused with good cheer. I was laughing, dancing and feeling thoroughly entertained.

I have since seen Euros on several other occasions. I have always got inside the venue. I buy my albums off the fella himself normally after a concert – yes I am nearly forty but I get some sad flash of ‘teenage excitement’ in meeting the artist, having the record signed. And I once stage dived at a Teenage Fanclub concert – it was being filmed for Snub TV. It was busy – the Manics were the first act – all clashed and fired up - but we [me and James – a super cool young continental] got in. Probably bought our tickets a week or so in advance.

Now Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub and Euros Childs from Euros Childs are Jonny and everyone wants a piece of the indie action. How everyone has suddenly awoken to the subtle charm of ‘Do the Caveman’, or ‘Which Witch is which?’ is new to me but it seems I can’t get a ticket for this gig. But as I said -no nostalgia rides – the whole shape of the music scene has changed – has mutated and the mob has muscled in. I will read the review in the Guardian. I will put ‘WegotTickets’ web page in favourites and their telephone number in my mobile and next time be that little bit faster.

Or I might just decide to stay at home.

Sometimes that is just that bit easier.

Monday, 13 December 2010

We are not hippies: Kill all hippies

So Friday and Saturday came and went. The heavy excess of the Primal beat recapturing, remodelling and representing those ‘delia’ moments.

I was not there. I tend not to be there much these days. Echo and the Bunnymen, The Primitives, Teenage Fanclub, Pixies, The Zombies – the list goes on and on la did da dee da.

And now I wish I had been there.

There’s something sad in recreating the past – about nostalgia for the now. But there’s also something in the Scream Team that is very hard to capture without feeling that you want to be part of it. And in a way I had been – those teenagers moments spent with Innes, Gillespie and Young. Those hours in the company of older, wiser, rocking and rolling men with their rammalamalamma ways and musical prowess that far outshone my own.

I own half my record collection from Innes little chats – little recommendations – the passing on of pop knowledge. I think to some extent that sits with me today. I want to stop caring about the sounds [of the underground] but I just keep thinking about The Pastels or Euros Childs or Weatherall and then that bounces me off down a new avenue – a new way of experiencing sounds and I’m hooked again. I want to write again.

Sometimes I need to write a list of those tunes, moments , experiences and highs down for my children to read, hear and groove to. Because sometimes I am far too harsh with them – my moaning, my wanting a quiet moment – sometimes I need to remember they are the kids – and once I wanted record companies to do it for the kids. The kids are revolting and that’s a fact – and I want my kids to be revolting – always.

So let’s get back to the scream – this pure independent rock n roll band. We had travelled south and still playing our brand of 4AD/ Blast First and Creation rock had bored audiences to tears as they waited for the glamour and soul of that old rock n roll from the glasgae boys. And boy did they get it – dripping in that MC5 swagger and open spirit [mainly vodka] the scream were able to command an audience’s respect – as we punched the air to their she[er] power. And rolling to our final destination and final ‘gig’ of our respective mini tour – friendships had cemented and minds had been expanded. Loaded was being recorded and before you know it – the scream where rocking the clubs [the dance ones not the working men’s] and those heady screamadelic months would follow.

It was ‘Come Together’ that did for me – the Terry Farley mix – white label in a shop on Loampit Vale in Lewisham – obviously not there now – but you could buy records then in small shops – actually you could buy records in Lewisham shopping centre – not a shop just a stall in the shopping centre – I remember Lee [another old friend lost to the mercies of not talking] buying Chime there – before Orbital signed to FRRR.

I think the reason Come Together resonates is that it is still a scream record – one that has the essence of the past merged firmly with the future. That jangle riddled with soul and swagger – real dance music – or as i said in an early post – I just call it music. That trumpet blast – and a call to come together [because we know when we come together we have power] Gillespie provides that languid feeling – that hope that together we can not only party – we can change things. I’m not one for hands aloft moments in rock n roll – i don’t like stadium filling shit – but at the Marcus Garvey Centre in Nottingham in 1990 – we all just came together – holding hands – it was beautiful [really beautiful] – mind you were already feeling europhic. I think Ian [former band member and genuine top rogue] had already secreted himself in a bass bin as Dr Alex had supplied the dub madness. But in that one moment of pure ecstasy we came together – en masse – to music I know but it was a moment filled with possibility as the guitar descends and Gillespie asks – ‘kiss me – won’t you, won’t you kiss me?’ Come Together is an honest and open call to arms – something the Scream have always dealt in. We are not here for the hippies.

And the night turned wilder and weirder, Douglas Hart with his video camera – I often wonder what happened to all that footage – it never made the Screamadelica tape that’s for sure, Nightingale ‘organising’ proceedings and the music just flowing. Somehow we made it to Claire’s house.

Because when we come together – we have power – we are unified – we are together.

For some reason I can't find an audio copy of the Terry Farley mix - Sony have locked down the video onthe Screan channel. So here is the original speech which Weatherall lifted for the epic dub version.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I fought the mix and the kids won

When i passed my driving test – I envisaged this world of ours mapped to the soundtrack of my heart. A plethora of sounds drawn from the decades of music and shared with whoever would travel in the passenger seat. Well – the one person I wanted in the passenger street. It isn’t quite like creating a mix tape for someone or something – and I think i’ll do a post on that – because that’s just come rushing back – all those moments hands hovering over tape buttons so you could press the right buttons in sound.

But I duly downloaded CDs – selecting, rejecting, jostling with the running order and digging out old CDs with mixes and tunes I hadn’t heard for an age. To surprise – guide - explore this musical world or universe I had/ have been creating for years.

But the Bobby Fuller Four have got the best of me – a chance purchase in a second hand shop of The Best Sixties Album in the world ever....II – has become the soundtrack to all journeys with my children as they demand ‘I Fought the Law’ before we have even left the leafy environs of our part of South London. That simple guitar introduction – that chiming and ringing Stratocaster sound as the drums cut back and in comes that lazy yet defiant twang of a man ready to take ‘em all on. A socialist reading and an explanation for the kids in the back of the car. Robbing banks in the hot sun – I fought the law and the law won. It tends to.

And this is the tune they can’t live without – my daughter fell in love with it. Like I did as a child – except my song was ‘Tiger Feet’ and that still gets me stomping today. Oh one of the twins will shout for Fire Brigade by The Move or Daydream Believer – but ‘I fought the law’ unites them all – as it should.

So here’s to the back seat singers and sixties lovers – I like the fact my children know no other way – I like the fact we sing songs together.

The Bobby Fuller Four: I fought the law

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Imaginary sounds of the suburbs

School discos were an essential part of growing up - school discos in bleak northern Britain were and mostly still are the high point of a low year. Actually – i don’t think they have discos anymore – nowadays people want a prom. All borrowed cliché and romance from fatuous films predicated with an inane pop soundtrack and ending on a wonderful high where everybody has their moment. I was always more Carrie than Glee. Do you get me?

I remember the anticipation.

The getting together of the look – the style – the outfit – with as much fondness as the girls in my year did. To be honest I think everybody cared in some way or another – because discos are rituals. We map out our territories, desires, ambitions with the shake of a hip and our sartorial stylings. We cast our net and hope for a catch – of the rough and the smooth, of the slap and the tickle.

I went to many youth discos – they used to hold a regular one down near The Comet public house – it was known – quite catchingly as Comet Disco. There was big disco and little disco – the rites of passage marked by your ascendency to the ‘big’ one. And of course there were intermittent school ones – with gin swigged from miniatures and fags shared between three, four and sometimes five hapless teenagers.

And hopeful dances and embraces in dark corners and empty parts of the school grounds. I was a bit of an idiot looking back – but to be honest I didn’t care. This was heartfelt, passionate – always about the music – on the dance floor to the mix I believed to be authentic and straight off again when I felt I‘d swam into shallow waters of mediocrity and Top 40ness.

Well I almost always stomped off.

I never held back for the ‘smoochers’ – I’d dance to anything then as long I was able to get up close to which ever girl I had fallen headily in love with that week. In fact Wham’s Last Christmas could well have been my song – as I flitted and crossed the floor several times in the space of an evening. Once bitten – twice as likely to show off more. So what has brought this nostalgic rush of school days back? I heard from an old school friend this morning – one I had dreamt about many times [and I fell out of bed twice] and all those heady glances came rushing back sound tracked to the eighties power ballads, ska skankings, electro beats and indie janglings.

And just for the record – i wouldn’t change anything about the now – i can see the real me – but those school days with their musical backdrop formed this Scunthorpe lad – that and the acrid sulphur filled streets and bleak industrial townscape that rattled through my dreams. I could choose a whole heap of tunes for this post – and I need to turn the writing from nostalgia to music again – i’m getting all sentimental [said i wasn’t going but I went still.]

In some ways the post should be about True by Spandau Ballet, or Careless Whisper by George Michael – but I want to delve deeper into those discos and parties and remember why I wanted to get out this place [if it was the last thing I ever did.] I was invited to a party - i was most likely seventeen – spotty and opinionated – bowl headed and wearing a brown anorak as a sign that I had embraced the post C86 scene with abandon. I would take records to parties – they didn’t play my kind of music – i mean I would take sha la la flexis, Sarah records, the Fall and the Pistols to surburban houses where the Top 40 was moving and shaking the masses. I was a fool – but one who thought little shiny pieces of floppy plastic could break the capitalist system – by passing the fact I was part of it by producing and buying into it.

But who said you can’t be naive?

So here at David Ashton’s house party I attempted to play Anorak City by Another Sunny Day [ i would also do this in Rotherham – forcing some hairies to play Pristine Christine on the decks – until he started taking the piss out of its production on the microphone – kind of like an indie battle rhymer – yes – check out the urchins and their jangling sound, this fake piece of psychedelic underground – and all the bowl heads love to shake their stuff to it, but I’m the MC and this song is shit – it kind of went like that. It didn’t because the MCing scene had not yet hit the biking fraternity of Wath upon Dearne - but you can half imagine it]

So I force this smaller than usual flexi on the record deck – that fizzing and popping of cheap production as the drum machine kicks in and the incessant drive of chugging fuzzed up guitars begins – take a ride to anorak city – the singer enthuses – all soft and twee as I danced, fell, awkwardly stumbled in the dining room. As sport billies sized me up with a single glance and then a rush of blood to the head and a push and a shove and the walls came tumbling down and I am involved in a quarrel of epic proportions – can’t anybody see this is the real deal.

This is disposable pop.

And I was preaching to an audience of one. Well perhaps two.

And I still play Anorak City – you don’t hear that on Radio Two – where I can tap into the memories of school fumbles and chances. You don’t hear Another Sunny Day on a regular basis on any radio station and once I dreamed that we would.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Remember how it started?

I first met Mark Straw at a party – in a darkened room – my head swimming with cider and my mouth brimming with words. Mark made me laugh. A lot. Mark was also a marine with a slick side in modernist aesthetics – he was a ticking, clicking, gin sipping time bomb who put a smile across your face in an instant. I miss Mark. A lot.

Mark and I liked Paul Weller. We did not know this at first but we would [solid] bond over Weller’s look, lyrics and loves as those summers raced by. Clean living in dirty times was our mantra. To be fair I looked a right old hippy when I met him – in some attempt to grow out my hair – through what I would still like to imagine as a quality Ian Brown phase – but in retrospect I looked like a fat version of my mother in the 1960s – with a more pasty complexion and sunken eyes. So my hair was getting wilder but mind was staying focused. Again I would liken this to Roger Daltrey’s modernist balance in Tommy – it’s reckless, relentless but focused with the right amount of humour and aggression. This is where I was at.

I was in the throes of trying to hang on to a London life I had left behind – arriving back from that hippest of institutions – that Goldsmiths’ vibe man – I had surrendered the cultural sights and slights to a life at first behind a bar and then propping one up. But at least those Scunthorpe soul [less] days were spent with soulful people. All will be written about at some point. You are not forgotten.

Once again Paul has the underlying role in all of this [I have discovered some tunes myself] he returned home from town one day clutching THE PAUL WELLER MOVEMENT 12 inch single – those first bars of Into Tomorrow – descending scales and fluid bass as we all took a trip down boundary lane – and here I found myself again. I’d been losing track of myself [somewhere] for while – I would do again funnily enough but now was the time to wallow in the Weller and take that modernist approach to getting high/ by. This sudden grand return to modernism – a backlash against the grunge – the Seattle [freak] scene was welcomed in the North – it meant a return to suits – you see you know where you stand with a suit – you get dressed up for a Friday night. See me walking around – I’m the man about town that you heard of.

And Paul Weller was the catalyst for all of this – the loaded scene – the reinvention of the new male – one who could laugh at the 70s but secretly yearn that it was all a lot easier when Benny Hill was prime time. Now I had my fair share of mightily misogynistic moments – but I didn’t want to nail my colours to a scene of ignorance and stupidity of football chanting mediocrity - and Weller I feel had a little more soul than areshole about him. And that first single chimed with the times – it embraced the changes we were all looking for – and it made the style council seem redundant. It seemed if Weller had really channelled the Marriot magic and the Paul Weller Movement album just proved this - it’s underlying funk and RnB riot laying siege to the modernist within.

So we bought flat fronted trousers in markets in Manchester. Scoured second hand shops for shirts and tops and looked for new loafers to loaf in at public houses. And a dear friend Richard even got handy with the sewing machine, an iron and some soap – and was turning out the four button high collar suits with flat fronted fixed crease narrow cut trousers. I cannot fit into mine now. At that point I was the face. If you wanted it.

But let’s get back to Weller.

I saw him at the Royal Albert Hall – early Wild Wood tour. He simply was on it. It was excess with finesse. Craddock and White holding it all in – as Weller strutted in his Peacock Suit and sang with the masses. This was not dad rock – it never was to be honest. But lazy journalists like lazy terms.

But Mark and I’s love of the Weller would culminate in us sending ‘Stanley Road’ home in a taxi as Paul raged evermore and I drank to excess in The Honest Lawyer. You see I was a postman – that meant I was always up early – not always awake but up early. To sort my round – to put the letters in the frame – to bag up and get out. Feeling resentful like Jimmy in Quadrophenia. So with instructions to purchase the CD box set of Stanley Road – in its 12inch Peter Blake designed glory – I finished my round of the downtown of Westcliff and the surrounding environs and made my way to Mark’s so we could go buy it together.

Duly purchased we made our way to the finest public house in Scunthorpe – The Honest Lawyer and had what would be described as loosener. And then we had several more. All the time that Record Village plastic bag lay at the bar – shouting out that it was meant to be being played in a bedroom somewhere on the way to Ashby. It was one of those drunken epiphanies – to call the local cab office – to send it home – in the front seat the belt on. It arrived safely and I eventually rolled home. You see music can do that – it can send you spinning into places unknown.

And often with Mark the unknown turned out to be a revelation.

And often Paul Weller provided the soundtrack.

Paul Weller Time Passes

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I am counting bleeps

I had a feeling this was rolling into some guitar based – keeping the indie spirit [dead or] alive and sometimes it was the sound of machines that soothed my heart and perhaps I should write about that.

I guess those industrial towns that bring the soul down were crying out for the onslaught of technological future music and despite my loathing of a system that exploits and plunders people as commodities I’m thankful Detroit has burned and burned over the years. Because to be honest this is where I trace most of my musical journeys [oh you can say it was New York or Chicago or London and Manchester] but i think my heart lays somewhere in that Motor City. Admist the burned and broken buildings resides soul and I know you got soul.

But I don’t want to be all historical – and social – and political today – I just want to write about beats and bleeps. We know that these tunes are political statements – they are weapons – they undercut the banality of pop culture in an effort to create something new. They are opinions – wrapped up in LFO modulation calling out from that thick black vinyl to those who see new futures and horizons.

They make me want to dance.

I guess the thrill of the pill and the sublime experiences of acid house culture stay with you over time – but I was dreaming to the sound of repetitive beats for a long time before [if you count The Ronnettes – Be my Baby as a floor stomper] This Scunthorpe soul was amazed by the KORG catalogues in ‘Paul’s Music’ and Roland keyboards on TOTP – in fact the first instrument I owned wasn’t a guitar - it was CASIO MT65. Sort of creamy white with a few orange switches – it had simple drum loops and sounds you couldn’t modulate. But it felt like a synthesizer to me – like I was a member of The Human League or Depeche Mode.

And over time I would return to the euphoria of the acid bass line, the heavy beats and gated reverbs of ‘dance music’ – I just call it ‘music’ but you know some people get hung up on all of that. So it turns to late Saturday night this weekend just gone. Emma has ventured out – in celebratory style to drink, eat and laugh - looking happy and beautiful as she leaves for the taxi. Which leaves me at home with the twins and Constance – thankfully sleeping and thus giving me an evening to.

So where to start – as ever it starts with the beats – not the guitar and I find ‘High Tech Soul’, a DVD ordered some time back and still yet to be viewed. That’s because of children, tiredness and the fact that Emma knows that Derrick May ,Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson will not make her laugh like The Odd Couple or Miss Congeniality will. Nonetheless this paean to the emerging Techno scene of Detroit – the history it is not – but all the greats are on show – discussing those underground sounds that make you get down, finds its way to the DVD and I watch enthralled and amazed at the sound that Detroit produced – I remember those nights when Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes played – or Ritchie Hawtin or Weatherall and I was all out of breath and smiling and giddy and fawning and super charged and on it.

And then as I check the Guide [you see it’s The Guardian in our house – not just on Weekends either – papers should be delivered] I see that Fabric are hosting the 25th Birthday Party for Metroplex,with Juan Atkins manning the decks amongst other legends of Detroit.

And I am home – with children listening

And I am still dancing

MODEL 500:  No UFOs 1985

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sing me to sleep

These northern towns bring you down [down deeper and down] so I escaped them - left the panic on the streets of Humberside and headed for the [in] the city - because there's a thousands things you can say and do there. Oh yeah. But as ever drawn back to my youth - as i nudge ever nearer to forty. So these Scunthorpe streets that we pass down - those tarmac roads and pathways where I stole glances and dreamed of heady romances and kicked off on and passed out in come back to play on repeat in the endless i-player of the mind.

It's funny how your idols let you down - you know all the sayings blah blah blah - never meet/ work/ eat or sleep with them. Not all of them - but most - because ultimately that connection you made was through music - not through talking or sharing - it's all one way. They told you and you responded with gratitude - waiting for the next release or discovering an album by them, an interview - they never searched you out - they didn't come knocking but you joined the gang nevertheless - you swelled their numbers and sometimes you had the swagger to match them. And there have been many gangs I've joined in the name of rock n roll, several that seemed to require an old man's anorak or cardigan as regulation wear.

And i've met a few of them - pressing my nervous hand into the palm of a bewildered Brian Wilson - it should be one of those stand out unique moments - but I'd stood in line in an HMV - feeling odd and out of place - that reaching the man was a blessed relief - because then i could go home. But this post isn't about the Beach Boys.

It was going to be about The Smiths.

You see I was reading an inarticulate interview with the former Manchester miserablist and thought to myself - you're a bit of mug really - and I'd heaped so much adolescent adoration on that old blouse and gladioli that I wished i'd embraced the techno roots that were being carved out before Paul purchased 'Hand in Glove' on 7 inch from Record Village and This Charming Man, the NY remix from WH SMITHS on 12 inch. Actually I say techno roots - i think i was buying various Wham related records at this time.

But by the age of 13 I had seen The Smiths - and all that self pity and sad poetry was given vent in their sound - this band who sang to my heart - and my hair. They used to be concert coaches advertisements in the Scunthorpe Telegraph - you'd wait for Steelbeat on a Friday - the local music scene column and there beside it would be the concert coaches advertisement - so for 10 pound you could go see AC/DC at the Apollo, or in our case The Smiths at Sheffield City Hall.

And I remember catching the coach - Paul and I getting on and the nerves kicking in - as we sat down amongst the older youth of the day - it was the first Meat is Murder tour. James supported and to be honest I think they blew me away more - it was straight down Record Village to order 'Hymn from a Village' the next day. But nonetheless The Smiths were a marvel and a wonder,  a relief from the corporate capitalism I thought was being pumped at me through tinny speakers and mono televisions.

I met Morrisey eventually, despite waiting for him and the rest of the smiths several times in various places. I had been invited down to the Love Music Hate Racism concert at the Astoria - now sadly ripped away to make way for flats - by my then friend Phil Fisk [we fell out because I was lazy] and he was documenting the return of the Libertines - and it was truly amazing concert for so many reasons -Doherty and Barat really do have a chemistry that means you can't take your eyes off 'em. Cheeky.

So that night was wrapped up with passess and access to this and access to that - and quiet pints sipped free of charge and all of that razamatazz. I'd already met Mick Jones in the first 10 minutes of arriving - so I kind of felt that this night would be one I remembered for years to come.

It was just before the Buzzcocks were going to play - i looked up from my pint and there was Morrissey seated with Pete Shelley deep in conversation. And it struck me what a big heed the man had - i mean he is big but his head could match my granny's anyday. Thoughts crossed my mind - this youth from Scunthorpe who had religiously taped every session, every new play by Peel was now in the room with his hero from the past. Yes we had had the whole NME backlash and to be honest I wasn't buying his albums - I'd pretty much stopped after Viva Hate. But it was Morrissey and I thought no matter what I would talk to him.

I waited for the conversation from Pete to dry up - i actually think Steve Diggle butted in - or dragged him off leaving Morrissey and his other friends perched at a table overlooking the stage. I seized my moment - witness tha fitness - leant over and said to him, at the age of 13 I saw Wham and The Smiths in the same year - I think I made the right choice -and  I just wanted to thank you for that.

And that was it - he was pleasant said thank you we shook hands and then continued to watch the concert. All done and dusted.

So here's to The Smiths - a companion for youth and little more. Listening to Morrissey spout his nonsense these days - doesn't rile me - but just makes me lament the days when every word meant something. But sometimes your heroes turn out to a lot thicker than you are.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Doing it for the kids

There is always a moment of genuine disappointment with any musical find - that point when someone else connects with your band, group or singer  and you feel they have invaded your house with their rowdy ways and sullied everything.

This used to happen a great deal when I was younger - thinner but thicker - as I clearly missed the point that record companies only wanted our money and anyone's loyalty. But there were record labels that tried not to sell out - at the beginning - and had an independent spirit - a small scale cottage industry approach to getting the 'new sounds' to the kids.

So when Paul bought a Velvet Underground record - or I found a Bachelor Pad record it was because we had somehow taken that journey to that discovery by ourselves [with a thousand other people - but it felt like our own] I'm not certain that I care about the 'find' anymore - it used to be the defining moment of an 'indie kid's' life - but having three children that tire you out - that take up all your thoughts and fears and hopes and therefore your love doesn't leave much space to devoting your life to The Driscolls and all that they released.  But there was a time when I remember that record arriving at my house and finding its blend of chiming sixties beat pop and catchy simplicity to be a discovery akin to Darwin's. It wasn't and I find myself thinking more about Darwin these days than i do about the Driscolls.

To be honest I'm not certain how my children will discover music - my house had a few records in - good ones and bad ones. Elton John's Greatest Hits, Queen's Greatest Hits, The Rolling Stones Greatest HIts [no Beatles - pure rock n roll my parents] Simon and Garfunkel, and an Elvis Presley gatefold live affair that I seriously thought had been signed to my mum with 'Mary Thanks Elvis' - clearly it was 'Many Thanks Elvis' and it was a real signature it was part of the 'personal design' - in fact if you think about it if it had been signed I'm not sure why my mum would have kept it in a cabinet with the telephone on it. But there you go. My parents weren't keen to school me in the ways of popular culture - they didn't have time.

I actually saw a kid yesterday with a RAMONES t-shirt and different coloured Croc sandals - he was about eight and his mum was with him [clearly coming out of her goth revival days] now that kid might like the RAMONES. He really might have found the RAMONES for himself. Actually I don't know why I feel so bitter about it - I am certain my children will rummage through the records. Although we are currently dancing to a 7inch of Scottish Country dancing and a french song called Mashed Potatoes.

So this brings me to the Jesus and Mary Chain - a McGee discovery on the b-side of a cassette tape all fuzzed up, feedbacking fuckery. Whilst Upside Down was the breath of [dirty] air I was inhaling it was 'Never Understand' that really made sense to me.

I remember the red cover of the  Jesus and Mary Chain 'Never Understand' - it's simplicity and brutality there on the sleeve - now clearly the JAMC had switched to Blanco Y Negro - but McGee had some how orchestrated this move to keep with the independent foundations of Creation [well i'm saying that now] But it was that initial Creation release that led to this - the rise of the independents - their moving into bed with the big boys - oh it came back to haunt them but still - i still view 'Never Understand' as an independent record. So let's return to putting this slice of honest angst on the record player. Again if I remember - Paul had somehow found his way into the JAMC vibe and was introducing it to his younger brother - this 7 inch single purchased in WH SMITHS i think - rotating steadily at 45rpm.

The simple crackle of a rotating disc as the needle finds its way into the sounds contained within. A slow shriek of feedback growing ever monstorous as those Spector[ish] drums help us navigate the feelings of people just getting you wrong. You never understand me - you never understand. It's this heavy thrill of rock n roll at the core surrounded by the scottish temperament - there's a coldness - an estate mentally that says we live here - we hate it - you hate us. This machine kills all idiots. I bought a t-shirt too - a JAMC t-shirt - always show your allegiances - well you do at that age - and i can just about fit into it - in the mornings generally. The t-shirt is 25 years old. The Mary Chain still matter. Some things are as simple as that.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Never Understand

Saturday, 14 August 2010

we mean it maaaaan

and here we are again - with no future in England's dreaming. this 'coalition' running every thing into the hands of their public school educated friends companies - sell it off cheap and reap the rewards. so as i drift through this green and [un]pleasant land - i return to the original DIY aesthetic - PuNk RoCk. Scrawled sleeves and instructions as to how to release a record. [Or in Macolm's case - a manifesto - how we'll miss him. Next question.] This was the beginning for the kids like me - not that i was part of a scene [heavy on the music scene]. I was only 7 when the PiStoLs imploded - so i'm not going to claim that I was at the Manchester Free Trade Hall and witnessed it all.

But something was lit in these pitiful industrial towns - that would lead to youth congregating round 'the clock' [insert other suitable central town monument - where young uns can meet] and scaring the 'old' folks with their sub cultural two fingers waving in the air.

Not that the old were scared - you see they'd fought in wars - so a couple of pierced - bondage clad - post punk teenagers were hardly the nightmare vision of England that had really been fought and defeated. To be honest - i always thought PuNk was a fairly individualistic ideology chiming happily with the advent of Thatcher's Britain. In fact if you ever have the chance to watch PUNK:ATTITUDE by Don Letts - that's the mantra repeated ad nausea - except for Wayne Kramer - but i'll save the MC5 for another post - another time.

I mean - Siouxsie Sioux - 'You could wear what you want - it was liberating' - you know give me a fucking break.

And this is where we came in - seeing this country changing into something that will be alien to me - the dismantling of education, the NHS, public space and the capitalisation of every element of existence - brings me to those 'sparks' that lit fires in young scunthorpe hearts.

My brother and I used to walk to the town centre - on a Saturday - early morning - less people around. we never caught the bus - he didn't do that much human contact and besides we would have more money for records, tapes and in my cases crisps [scunthorpe market - Christies Cheese and Onion - stock up for the week - you get me] We were typically obsessed with music - i with Rock and Roll and him with the new wave - post punk cacophony of the Ants/ Blondie and stuff - to be honest - i'm not sure how he tapped into that post punk thang - he was good with picking this up - not that he spoke to anyone about it other than me.

And there used to a number of places to buy records in those days - you could work your way across town hitting the shops and picking up sounds from the end of Doncaster Road - right down to the Market. Independent retailers,secondhand stores, established players and market stalls. You see we wanted something to hold - something to look at - to cherish and love. I don't want my MP3.

admist the retro seditionnaires t-shirts - where Tom of Finland met John of [middle] England and wool stalls and jeans shops was a record stall located in the outside part of the market - deep in the back that stocked a range of left of field sounds, t-shirts, posters, badges and patches. To be honest we thought it it was too metal for our liking - but he had a new wave/ punk section and we often gave it a look.

now - we weren't rocking a post punk look - i didn't have a piercing - i wasn't spiking my hair and rubbing butter on my face - we weren't and never would be postcard punks and all that went with it. He had a leather biker jacket - i had a green bomber with patches on - he wore 14 holed docs - i had a pair of Dr Peppers - i kid you not - my mum wouldn't let me have docs [why my brother was allowed - doesn't quite make sense - but there you go]- so i had these clunky steel toe-capped monster boots.

We both had coloured laces.

so on this typical heavy grey skies sort of morning we had arrived at the stall - and were looking through the seven inch singles - i think this was most likely 1980 i should get better with dates [you see PUNK'S NOT DEAD - i know - PUNK's not DEAD - i know it's not]and Paul pulled out this record - it looked al hand drawn and amateur and chaotic. THE FALL - TOTALLY WIRED b/w PUTTA BLOCK - it was a Rough Trade record - it was ours for 99p.

To describe the The Fall is a waste - you just have to immerse yourself in Mark E Smith's world and you end up better off. This was small town punk - this was taking the mother right on - 'you don't have to be weird - to be weird'

herein lies the philosophy - the ideology - sometimes you have to work harder to hide your hate and contempt.It's too easy to opt [in] and out - i wasn't a rebel - but i had a rebellious jukebox [now]- and last night when we started arguing over the futility of PuNK and it's sell out - no holds barred capitalist sprint to the finish with off the peg AnARchY [whimsy]and i got all defensive - it's because of moments like discovering the FALL and realising that yes - all of this is vacuous throwaway rubbish - but it meant something and made me laugh and carried me through the northern nights of sulphur and smoke.

I said Doncaster - eat this grenade.

so here is THE FALL - Totally Wired[Live]

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Let's start with Tony Ogden

I thought I would start with Tony Ogden's last recordings. Bubblegum.

World of Twist were one of those bands - those Manchester bands -  who came riding along in the face of soul less, inward looking music that had begun to forget that pop - was pop - that pop was throwaway ,stupid and there to make you feel [soul] powered - for the moment.

It doesn't always have to be about a career, a rider and the NME front fucking page.

World of Twist was a working [class] aesthetic. A slant off to the left of the mainstream - a mixture of the future and the past - of acidic modernist approaches and psychedelic sixties pop prowess. And within it all was Tony Ogden - so important for the balance - the mix - the general gang mentality that permeated this POP group.

He's dead now of course.

And the tales of the Twist's second album often wake me from my sleep - where once I would have walked to Manchester and asked around about it - now I just hope that someone will post it up on the web. Life's easier with the web. You don't have to be so autistic - others will do the leg work.

But the Twist was my starting point. Brought to my attention by none other than my brother and the bassist in The Williams/ Superelectric. These hip young things [at the time] were soaking up the sounds of the underground and passing them my way - straight down to London Town.  They would marvel at the Adge's ability to create a bubbling underbelly of analogue beauty admist the MC5 hammer of the [super] group - and footstoppingrammalamma of the beat.

But they'd tell me about Tony.

Not that they knew him - wish I had now - but it's not to be. They told me about Tony's presence - his ability to communicate with a crowd. It's that star thing. It's charisma man.

So a trip to the Camden Ballroom from South ov tha riva - with a 2 for 1 cut out voucher culled from the back pages of the NME to see World of Twist for one night only [and it was only one night - I never had the pleasure of their [real] company again] They strode on stage - all white shirts and smart trousers - 'I heard they only let you in here in a shirt' and then it on with the show.

And show is the word to use. This was entertainment wrapped up in new sounds, new clothes, new music and new found love for the pop genre. This was quality [street] from start to finish  and I respect him and all the Twist for it. So here's to the passion of pop originality.

A final swansong to the great O

Honey by Bubblegum which can be found on Escape from the Love Machines [having some problems uploading this - but will rectify soon]

so this will suffice until then.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

we find a way back in to this

And the music seemed to fade into the background - it wasn't so constant and so consistent as it used to be. I guess I had fallen out of love with it - out of having any respect for it - and who was/ is going to guide me through this moronic culture [club] I now inhabit?

Those early memories of hope and positive attitudes came tumbling back to remind me of simplicity and shitness - the times when things ceased and hedonism reined [a love] supreme. I was driving into work this morning, the greatest hits of Primal Scream [not even a named album - things have slipped so far] raised in volume to awaken the [soul] power within. Not thinking - just feeling- as age grabbed my throat and wrestled the final vestiges of 'hipness' out of the electric windows.

So i decided as I trawled the digital zine scene - now our thoughts really do cost nothing - that perhaps I could/ should/ write again. In small bursts - like scatter bombs on the unsuspecting - the thoughts and stuff that revolves in here on a daily basis.

And also because I want to write about music and parenthood and all that shit in between - all those moments that come [and go] in Greenwich Park - and those looks and laughs we have as adults. And ultimately I want to remind myself of this beautiful city and all the things it offers.

I have - like most of us - moved on - but every now and again that relentless DIY spirit is channelled.

Sometimes listening is not enough.