Thursday, December 20, 2018
As is traditional I've scoured the internet for a suitably funky Christmas mix to replace that 'Now That's What I Call A Bieber Christmas' CD that's somehow found its way into your home. I reckon Bieber plants 'em there. Anyway, this year I've plumped (literally...I've put on half a stone just thinking about Christmas) for Funky Santa's XXX MaaS Vol 14. I had to...it's got the frickin' Weather Girls on and I'll all about The Weather Girls.
Whatever you're up to have a cool yule and I'll catch you in 2019...unless I've succumbed to gin poisoning...which is a distinct possibility. Ho ho ho!
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Picked up a neat haul of US pop punk CDs from a chazza at the weekend, 49p a piece...good grief. One or two fresh names to me (Leftover Crack anyone?) but here's a brand new Christmas offering from one of the groups I did know, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, with a punked up dash through that ol' favourite Santa Baby.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Straightoutta Halifax The Orielles have released some cracking singles so far but I reckon this is the best yet. Apparently the song's about a cat that wants to...er...transform into a lady...okey dokey...you don't get that from Ed Sheeran lyrics do you eh?
Monday, December 10, 2018
If you're in any doubt about which punk band made the best collection of tunes just cop a listen to Singles Going Steady, released a mere two years into Buzzcock's career. I was lucky enough to see the band a few years back and they were every bit as good 30 odd years on. RIP Pete.
Thursday, December 06, 2018
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Friday, November 30, 2018
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Thursday, November 22, 2018
I picked up two copies of Morphine's Cure for Pain album over the weekend...and promptly put them back on the shelf again as I'd only vaguely heard of the band and didn't want to waste 66p. Oh foolish Baron. It turns out that Morphine are/were something of a hidden jazzy, bluesy, alt rock gem. Returning to the charity shop in question both CDs were, of course, gone so I've just spunked almost £9 on a copy from eBay (clearly I'm not the only one who's a recent convert). Anyway, have a listen. It might not be your bag but if it is I suspect you'll get as addicted as me...
PS: Sadly Morphine is no more as lead singer Mark Sandman died of a heart attack in stage way back in 1999. He was just 46.
PPS: Here's another one. How good is this?!
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Picked up another big haul of cheapo CDs at the weekend including stuff from Sigur Ros, The Blue Nile, The Wonderstuff, Buddy Rich, The Pixies and one time Prince collaborator Sheila E...13 CDs in total for a mere £5. Good grief. I've wittered on about how cheap CDs are now and, sure, you can just stream most of the tracks for free but that's a faff and generally the quality's a bag a shite so, if you've got the room and a half decent stereo there's simply never been a better time to fill your boots. Plus, is it just me or are those little shiny discs starting to feel a little retro cool...?
Friday, November 16, 2018
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Got given a bunch of records the other week and this is pretty much the only one I hadn't heard before, a lovely little slice of late 80s girl rap a la Neneh Cherry. No idea what happened to M.C. Syn-Dee but clearly John Peel was a bit of a fan. Who knew eh?
Friday, November 09, 2018
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
For some reason this track's been going round and round in my head this morning. What would the news be without endless prattling politicians (from all sides) eh? Still, give it 20 years and the world will be probably be run by 'Google'. In the meantime let's enjoy some rather fine heavy proto prog from 1968! Groovy man.
Friday, November 02, 2018
An album of horror themed metalcore tracks anyone? No? Just me then eh? In honour of both Halloween and the fact that it's ruddy Friday submit your eyes and ears to a little Ice Nine Kills and their throat ripping tribute to the Friday 13th franchise (new album Silver Scream features 13 such tracks...13...spooky eh...I guess 666 was a bit of a stretch for 'em). Play it loud and freak out the cat/dog/neighbours.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
George Formby yesterday and BED (Baxter Dury, Etienne de Crecy and Delilah Holliday) today, who says variety's dead eh? This track's been gradually growing on me over the past few weeks and now resistance is futile. Two minutes of utter wonky pop perfection.
If this floats yer boat then I can heartily recommend Baxter Dury's 2017 album Prince Of Tears. His old man (Ian Dury of 'and the Blockheads' fame) would be dead proud...
Monday, October 29, 2018
As regular readers will know I've got pretty broad tastes but even so this has to be the first time I've stuck up a George Formby track. There's a good reason though, after several years of searching I finally found a proper vintage pair of tweed Plus Fours on Friday for the absolute bargain price of £1. Yes. £1. Okay so there's the odd hole here and there but what the hell do you expect for £1. I reckon even George would be impressed.
PS: Ever wanted to hear a dance remix of When I'm Cleaning Windows? Your wish is my command.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Caught the video for this on one of the squillions of music channels the other night and simply couldn't resist popping it up on the Aid once again. If you've never heard/seen it before pour yourself a cup of something alcoholic, shut the curtains, dim the lights and revel in three and a half minutes of pure musical gold.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
We did 10 Glastonbury's back in the day, thankfully most of them before the whole thing became more corporate and 'trendy'. Yes, it really was possible to wander in to HMV in Brum a few weeks before the event and buy tickets over the counter. Now? Now you have to have 600 computers all set up to try to secure a ticket when they go on sale at 3am on a Sunday morning in October. OCTOBER! That's almost a ruddy year before the event. And don't get me started on the price. But still, we had some fine moments at Glasto and they don't get much finer than watching Bowie live back in 2000 in arguably one of his greatest performances. Apparently only a few tracks were shown on telly at the time but the whole shebang was recorded and it's being shown on BBC 4 this Friday night. I don't remember much of the gig so it'll be nice to see / hear it again but I do recall getting a little emotional over Heroes. Maybe it was the cider, the lack of sleep, the 'erb or just the feeling of being surrounded by lord knows how many thousands of people sharing an experience that you just knew would go down in musical history but watching this clip takes me right back to that moment 18 (18!!!!) years ago.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Back to the 80s for this week's Friday banger and Win with You've Got The Power which, if you're as ancient as me you may remember from an ad for 'orrible lager.
PS: In the highly unlikely event that you're in Dawlish (South Devon) this weekend Lady Baron and I will be flogging some vintage loveliness at this:
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
News reaches the Aid that a Misty's Big Adventure greatest hits (well they would have been hits in a better world) compilation is in the offing, hopefully it's at least 10 albums long...at the very least. Misty's were/are one of my absolute favourite bands of all time and the fact that the rest of the world doesn't feel the same way saddens me more than the sight of Theresa May at a disco dancing competition. Anyway, above this nonsense is a little heard Misty's gem from their Grumpier Fun album. Enjoy.
PS: And as a bonus here's a lovely vid for I Can't Bring The Time Back too.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Somewhat unbelievably it's three years to the day that Lady Baron and I left Poplar Road in Bearwood, where we'd lived for a mere 21 years, and decamped to Devon. So that's a perfect excuse for another airing of possibly the only song in history to mention Bearwood, Dexy's seminal What's She Like. While we're at it here's a cracking track from ex Dexy's man and current Bearwood (or close by at least) resident Pete Williams. Ar bab, it was good in the 'wood.
Friday, October 12, 2018
It's been the week (well alright then two days...I've had man flu...) of the trippy vids here on The Aid, first off we had John Grant and now cop a load of this mind melting 60s psych a go go beauty from The Good Water. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooovy baby.
Tuesday, October 09, 2018
And the award for trippiest video of 2018 goes to...pause for dramatic effect...John Grant for his video for He's Got His Mother's Hips. It appears as though more than a dozen animators animated their asses off then everything got mashed up into this piece of twisted genius. I'm also guessing that a lorry load of LSD was involved too, either that or some folk need a bowl full of therapy.
Friday, October 05, 2018
Okay so if you have ears you'll know this track. It's a stone cold classic Friday banger. But have you ever seen the vid? Nope, me neither. Man, they're some hairy assed dudes.
Of course they weren't responsible for the song, it's true origins are lost in the mists of time, but Leadbelly recorded one of the earliest versions without guitar, drums, bass...er anything apart from a hand and a knee by the sounds of it.
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
It's heartening to see/hear a little of the punk spirit coming back into music these days (see Idles, Honeyblood, Savages, Sleaford Mods etc) but will there ever be a more 'punk' outfit than Crass eh? I'm sure there's a load of footage, docs, interviews etc on You Tube but for a potted history of a band that really should be better known the ever reliable (well, unless someone's hacked into the thing and rewritten history) Wikipedia's not a bad place to start.
Monday, October 01, 2018
Not strictly music related this one (although Dan's bro Matt's the drummer for The Joy Formidable) but I couldn't let his passing over the weekend go unmarked and this track, from Anthony and the Johnsons, seemed appropriate.
If you've not heard of Daniel Thomas (aka PeeWeeToms) he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer back in 2015 and began blogging/vlogging about it - with impressive honesty and as much good humour as he could wring out of the situation it has to be said - soon after. Despite chemo, countless surgeries and as much fight as he could muster he died on Saturday at just 32 years old.
Watching the videos and reading his blog posts over the past few weeks really put life's little problems into perspective (which I'm guessing was partly the point of it all) and it's clear from the comments on his various social media accounts that his 'Don't give in! Don't give up!' philosophy struck a particularly inspirational chord with a people from all walks of life and backgrounds across the world. As legacies go that's not a bad one to leave behind is it eh?
As Dan himself would put it "See you later, ta ta, bye bye".
Friday, September 28, 2018
Thursday, September 27, 2018
So this Sunday really does see 'This Last Night' for Soft Cell as the band plays it's last ever (honest guv) live gig. Finances (specifically a distinct lack of) prevent me from going but I was fortunate enough to see 'em a couple of times during their noughties reboot. No idea what the set list's going to be this weekend but it'd be nice to hear one or two of their more obscure tracks, like this sleazy beauty. If you're going have a good 'un...and try not to weep too much during Say Hello Wave Goodbye.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Thursday, September 20, 2018
"Who?" you may ask. Well, if you're a fan of Heaven 17 you'll certainly know his artwork if not his name as he was responsible for several classic Heaven 17 covers including Penthouse and Pavement, The Luxury Gap and How Men Are (a bit of a forgotten classic in my humble opinion). RIP Ray.
So, Mercury Music Award time again tonight. As ever it's a bit of a mixed bag and the best album's highly unlikely to win (just cast your minds back to 2016 when Bowie's Blackstar lost out to Skepta, what were the judges thinking...?) but there's some good stuff in the shortlist (and some not so good stuff too, but we'll gloss over that). Personally I'd like Everything Everything to win, followed by Nadine Shah and then Wolf Alice, but what do I know eh?
Friday, September 14, 2018
I meant to post the new single from Boy George and Culture Club last week but, you know, life, work and everything in between. It's a neat little update of the Culture Club sound with George in particularly good form vocally. Hopefully the band can all get on with each other this time and health issues won't get in the way of tours and stuff as the world could really do with a little Culture Club right now...
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Thursday, September 06, 2018
How lovely is this? Funnily enough I was just wondering what had happened to Darwin Deez and, as if by magic, there's a bunch of new(ish) material from him on You Tube. Apparently he did the vid for this track himself too. Good grief.
In case you're wondering who the hell Darwin Deez is maybe this track will refresh your memory.
Awesome eh? Hey, us bros with dodgy moustaches have to big each other up from time to time.
Friday, August 31, 2018
Off to a rum festival this weekend...100 different rums to try...what could possibly go wrong? All this impending rum based fun reminded me of Sound of Rum, the jazz tinged band that the wonderful Kate Tempest fronted back in the day. It's been great to see Tempest go on to bigger things but honestly she deserves far, far more acclaim than she gets. Stormzy, schmorzy eh?
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Friday, August 24, 2018
Friday banger this week is a perfect slice of defiant queer punk from earlier this year courtesy of the brilliantly named Jesus and his Judgemental Father (who sadly seemingly split up in April). Play it loud and pogo yer ruddy legs off.
Thursday, August 23, 2018
After several solo releases one of folk's brightest young things Katherine Priddy is just on the cusp of unleashing her first band backed material and this is the utterly divine title track. Lush eh? Back in Brum I was lucky enough to see Katherine a fair few times, usually at MoFolk, and was always struck by the gilded gossamer of her vocal, delicate but with a confidence that belied her age, and it's been wonderful to see that talent continue to bloom over the past few years. Order the EP right here right now for £5 before September 1st and she'll even sign a copy for you. Priddy cool eh?
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Blimey. Not content with playing a farewell gig at the O2 Arena Soft Cell have just released their first new single in almost 20 years (link here...I can't copy and paste the vid because The Guardian's put some sort of voodoo on it). It's got that distinctive plinky plonky synthy sound that the Cell were famous for together with a little extra pop polish for good measure and, suitably enough, it's a homage to Marc and Dave's formative years in the Northern soul scene. Hmmmm, I wonder if they've ever heard Tainted Love by Gloria Jones...they should do a cover of that...might get somewhere...
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
No bargain CDs at the weekend but picked up a handful of 7 inch singles including this little 'darkwave' gem by The French with their cover of Kraftwerk's The Model. It dates from the same year that the single version of Das Werk's track was released and really couldn't sound much more early 80s if it tried. As far as I can tell The French only released a couple of singles so there's very little about them on t'internet. If you do happen to know anything about the band though please leave a comment and we can fill in yet another little hole in the musical universe. Merci!
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the loveliness of the chap concerned I managed to track down and catch up with The French's lead singer Mr William Redfern! Here's his message:
'Hi Daron, Ha! I am indeed that same person! How fantastic that all these years later people are still finding us. We were based in Manchester from 1980 until 1984 (after moving our band Art Failure from Nottingham and reinventing ourselves), which was an exciting time in that city- the band eventually fell apart and we all went our separate ways until a few years ago when thanks to Facebook we all got back in touch again, in fact our guitarist Graham Lees now has a studio in LA and he remastered all our stuff (and Art Failure's album) and it's all now available on iTunes, Spotify etc if you wanted to hear some more - though it's listed as The French 8083 as weirdly another band called The French came into being in the intervening years. Thanks for getting in touch, I'm so pleased that our 'babies' are still out there being discovered.
Ps, Just read your blog about it too, lovely thanks - and as you mention it came out the same year as Kraftwerk had a hit with The Model ...and thereby hangs a tale... The Model was of course released in 1977 on Man Machine and had never been a hit but we'd always loved it so thought it would be fun to do a funky version. Shorty after we released it Kraftwerk played at The Apollo in Manchester as part of the Computer World tour and we managed to blag in to see them backstage and gave them a copy of our single (they were a bit confused by our presence but were very sweet chaps) so, about four months later they re-released it as a double A side single with Computer Love, The Model was picked on up by a Radio 1 DJ (can't remember who) and became a number 1 for them - we are all convinced that they thought 'well if kids are doing covers of this maybe it time to release it again' - and whilst I have no proof I still reckon I play an, albeit anonymous, role in music history!'
Anonymous no more! What a ruddy great story eh? Bearing in mind that The Model first came out on the Man-Machine album in 1978 as Das Model it would be fascinating to know if Kraftwerk were indeed inspired to release the English translation on the B side of Computer Love in 1981 by The French's take on the track...
Here's a darn fine post punk track by Art Failure (pre-The French) too!
Friday, August 10, 2018
The growing tsunami of bargain charity shop CDs continues to flood into Baron Towers at an alarming rate, but at anything from 25p - 50p each I just can't help myself. Last week I picked up Nirvana's Bleach for 50p and the Floyd 'hits' album A Foot In The Door for just 33p which, let's face really it isn't a lot of money...ahem.
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Sniff the air. Can you smell it? Yep, there's a whiff of Autumn in the air quite possibly brought forward a bit by the fact that we actually had a Summer this year...with sun...and heat...and no sodding rain every sodding day. Hurrah! I actually like the different seasons so Autumn holds no fear for me, it's when every season blurs into the next in a depressing grey drizzle that I get hacked off with it all. So, in honour of Autumn's arrival (whenever it might actually finally kick in) here's a little All About Eve and the Autumn Rhapsody version of What Kind Of Fool. I can practically smell the patchouli oil oozing out of my speakers.
Friday, August 03, 2018
I keep hearing this track and every time I do I think "Damn that's some funky shit, who's it by?". Maybe it's old age or maybe I simply can't believe that it's the work of Chaka Khan who's now officially a pensioner, bless her. Undoubtedly the best thing she's done since, well this equally surprising track (another solid gold Friday banger) back in the day...
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Okay, with a name like Amyl and The Sniffers this lot ain't going to be a folk act are they eh? Nope, this is straight up old skool punk. Apparently they can cut it live too, not that I imagine they'll make it down to Devon any time soon. Shame, I'd happily share a pint of cider...or possibly even a cup of destiny or two...with them.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Plucked a random box of records to listen to last Saturday night and struck memory gold with Electribe 101's Talking With Myself. Apparently this track originally came out in 1988...30 ruddy years ago. Sadly the band had a bit of a falling out after achieving some minor success in the early 90s but this tune's a bit of a forgotten gem.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1983 when the original Now That's What Call Music came out I was just 13. I know, bless me eh?
I didn't buy that one or Now 2, but I did get Now 3 (I think) for Christmas in 1984. On tape. And a personal tape player too. How hip can you get? I remember wondering at the time how many of these Now albums will they release, fast forward a mere 35 years and we're now at Now 100. Wow.
I have no idea how many copies Now sells these days but back in the 80s it was a big deal with over a million copies of Now 1 being shifted on vinyl and tape (this was pre CD days kids). It was a cooler compilation series compared to the Ronco and K-Tel releases that we'd been used to and although it was all chart fodder chart fodder in those days seemed a lot better than what we've got now.
On top of the track above this gibberish here's a trio of other original Now tracks to prove the point. Enjoy!
Hmmmm, I wonder if they'll get to Now 200? That would make me...oh bugger...83. Curiously enough of course the first Now came out in 1983. Spooky eh? Right, I'll see you back here in 2053, it's a date.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
It’s been a while since I’ve done a ‘big gig’ and this was probably the first time I’ve ever attended one of those increasingly popular ‘mega names in a posh place’ shows. A number of performers (often those with a history that dates back almost as far as the stately homes that host quite a few of these gigs) hit the road (or air I’m guessing) these days and with tickets at £40+ a pop and a capacity of several thousand punters (plus a cut of the bar no doubt) you can see why.
Tonight’s show was standing at the rear and seated at the front, separated by a barrier which created a kind of ‘them and us’ divide that I’m not used to/in favour of. Plus, of course, the 'standers' (including us this evening) were some way from the stage with no chance of getting closer meaning that you end up watching the action on giant screens. I’ll be honest it’s not my bag but after a pleasant enough set from Into The Ark (the legend himself picked them during a recent series of The Voice and had apparently taken ‘em on tour across the States) Sir Tom delivered the kind of classic hits littered set that few performers left on planet earth could match.
For many of us the songs that made up the bulk of tonight’s set are practically in our DNA, What’s New Pussycat?, It’s Not Unusual, Delilah, Mama Told Me Not To Come, Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay, Green Green Grass Of Home, Ring of Fire, Kiss...not all Tom originals but he pretty much makes everything he sings his own. At 78 and a bit that voice is seemingly as powerful as ever but with an added richness that comes from decades (six and counting) of performing. Of course as well as being one of the greats this dude’s sung with pretty much all of them too, what I wouldn’t have given to have been a fly on the wall when he used to sing gospel with Elvis after shows in Vegas, just one of the little anecdotes casually dropped into tonight’s set.
All in all the boy(o) done good.
This might only be the second Snooky Fest but it’s already a firm favourite here at Baron Towers and, judging by our fellow festival goers we’re not the only ones. What’s not to love though eh? A wonderful location, some great bands, cider, sun and a truly life changing cause (The Snooky Trust which raises money to help 18-40 year olds in Devon who are suffering from a physical illness of any description).
As with last year the acts performed a crowd pleasing mix of self penned tunes and cover versions, everything from rock to reggae and punk to pop, some of which would genuinely give the originals a run for their money.
Too many highlights to list but The Gravity Drive deserve a special mention for a cracking set culminating with The Wake Of The Dawn (which I still maintain is a perfect Bond theme in waiting...even the title sounds 007-tastic) and festival closer Eventine who got me dancing about like a Duracell bunny on speed.
Massive respect to Caz Steffans and her team for putting it all on, here’s to Snooky Fest 2019!
Thursday, July 12, 2018
I gave up watching 'the game' after Croatia scored their first goal and spent the rest of the evening far more enjoyably by digging out some old tunes. Here's a bit of a hidden gem, Doris, with one of the finest slices of orchestral pop and soul ever committed to vinyl. Enjoy.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Okay, Kylie might not be playing (although if she happens to read this I'm sure she'd be more than welcome to pop along) but this Saturday's Snooky Fest bill is jam packed (obviously there's cream UNDER the jam too, we do things properly here in Devon) with the South West's finest, like the lovely folk from The Gravity Drive for instance. On top of being a cracking day out for all the family (and Kylie) all profits go to The Snooky Trust which raises cash to help 18-40 year olds with a physical illness of any description. Tickets are just £20 too, available right here right now.
Here's a little trailer to get you in the mood...
Thursday, July 05, 2018
Bugger me, it's been a while since I heard this one but for some strange reason it popped in to what's left of my brain just now. It's a little bit disco, it's a little bit bit indie, it's a little bit pop...whack it all together and it's a complete and utter banger. Boom.
No idea what happened to The Count & Sinden but Mystery Jets are still doing their thing, largely ignored by most of planet earth for some reason.
Tuesday, July 03, 2018
As I probably said last year (and the year before) it might not be the coolest festival around (Black Lace anyone?) but for pure pop pleasure you’d have to go a long way to beat a Let’s Rock line-up, that is if you’re of a...ahem...certain age. At 48 (jeez...) I fit snugly into Let’s Rock’s target audience, people who grew up in an era when pop was fun, vinyl was still king (for part of the decade at least) and millions of people of all ages tuned in to watch Jimmy Savile get suspiciously close to young ladies on Top Of The Pops. First up today though a group that can trace its origins all the way back to the 70s, Aswad, who, like many on today’s bill, played a short but sweet mini greatest hits set climaxing with Don’t Turn Around and Smile. Nice to see/hear original vocalist Angus Gaye’s son up there rappin’ away, who knows maybe he’ll be fronting the band at Let’s Rock 2038? Next up Modern Romance, now fronted by former drummer Andy Kyriacou, who Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey-ed his way through most of the band’s early 80s Latin tinged hits.
I wrongly assumed there’d be another break then and started making my way to the loo (hey, I’m 48...that cider goes right through you) and got halfway through the swamp of chairs, tents, rugs, picnic hampers and various other detritus just as Fuzzbox bounded on. Now I do love a bit of Fuzzbox but by the time I’d made my way back they’d romped through both International Rescue and Pink Sunshine and vanished backstage to get stuck in to the peanuts and crudités. Yes, Let’s Rock certainly whips through the acts. In fact the bloke from Brother Beyond was on and off so swiftly that if you’d blinked slowly you’d have missed him altogether. Still, on the plus side if there’s someone you don’t like you don’t have to put up with ‘em for long. I’m a bit uncertain of the order from here onwards (blame the age and the cider) but Wendy James stomped her way impressively through a trio of Transvision Vamp’s best bits with all the energy and attitude of a teen jacked up on speed, Bow Wow Wow’s Anabella Lwin went wild in the country and Hazel Dean got me searchin’...and indeed ‘lookin’ for love’ with an all too short set of Hi-NRG classics.
Somewhere along the way Peter Coyle (Lotus Eaters) gave us a fine Solsbury Hill (if you squint a bit he looks a little like Peter Gabriel from back in the day) and his own band’s only hit (hey, if you’re going to have a hit this ain’t a bad one to have) First Picture Of You and The Fizz (the original Bucks Fizz line up minus the old bloke) moved asses and hearts (this gig was just days after Jay Aston’s cancer diagnosis but she chose to appear and rocked her backside off...kudos). Who have I missed? Ah yes, Kim Appleby, someone else whose life was sadly touched by cancer when she lost her sister Mel back in 1990 at the age of just 23. Barring the odd release Kim’s been away from the music biz since her solo career fizzled out in the mid 90s which is a real shame judging by today’s utterly joyful set. Solo hit Don’t Worry still sounds great and after the duo’s biggest single Respectable (number one in at least 8 countries back in ‘87) she touchingly raised a single finger to her lips and then heaven in tribute to her little sis. A more than respectable comeback all round.
Black Lace came on and did what they do whilst we hid behind a tree before one of the biggest voices in pop, Heather Small BELTED her way through M People’s singles. Sadly I can’t listen to her now with picturing the short one in Miranda screaming “What have you done today to make you feel prouuuuud”, but it was nice to hear the pop housey One Night In Heaven again. Making our way back towards the stage we bumped into a lovely pair of ladies who insisted on glittering me up during Midge Ure’s set. He may have been dancing with tears in his eyes but I had glitter in mine. I’d read some disparaging remarks about Ure’s live vocals online but ignore them, he still sounds great especially on arguably the greatest number one that never was, Vienna. Maybe next year Let’s Rock should invite Joe Dolce eh? Hmmmm.
What can I say about the next artist? I’ve been a ‘proper’ fan of Marc Almond for a good 35 years now and I’ve seen him live oodles of times. I struggled for a while to reconcile the artist who’d taken such huge risks in his career (calling an album Mother Fist and her Five Daughters, recording an album in Russian, making a video with a real life sex dwarf...I could go on) with the one who leads sing-alongs of Soft Cell songs at festivals like this but if he’s comfortable with it then so I am. And why shouldn’t he be eh? Today’s set was, judging by the comments on Facebook, one of the best received of the day and although I’m clearly biased I’d have to agree. From opening number Tears Run Rings through to set closer, a glamtastic cover of Bolan’s Hot Love, Almond’s show was a master class in festival crowd pleasing...actually no, make that delighting. Is Almond the Bowie for my generation? Experimental but capable of delivering perfect pop, a great live performer, keeps his personal life to himself, appreciated more and more the longer he’s amongst us...hmmm...could be? To borrow a title from one of his lesser known solo albums, he really is a Fantastic Star.
If I had to pick another favourite band from the 80s (aside from Soft Cell that is) then ABC would well and truly be in the top 5 and Martin Fry’s recent-ish return to epic live performances (full orchestras, more strings than a mobile phone contract) is a ruddy wonderful thing. Look Of Love, Poison Arrow, When Smokey Sings, (How To Be A) Millionaire (incredibly this track didn’t even make the top 40 back in ’84) and bringing things right up to date with 2016’s Viva Love...now we know what ABC stands for...Absolutely Brilliant Concert.
Was Nick Heyward up next? I genuinely can’t remember. As I’ve said before it was sunny, there was cider...the dog ate my homework. Maybe he was. Anyway, whenever he played the former Haircut 100 frontman still looks about 26 damn him. The Haircuts were briefly a brass powered behemoth of 80s pop and today’s set might have benefitted from more live players but I’m guessing the economics of such things are tough these days. It’s a minor quibble and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) and Love Plus One were a crucial ingredient in making this a...cheesy link ahoy...oh come on...it has to be done...Fantastic Day. See what I did there? Oh. Alright.
Nearly there. Just two more acts to go. First off Sister Sledge, now down to just two Sledge sisters following the sad passing of Joni last year. Cop a load of these hits, We Are Family, The Greatest Dancer, Lost In Music...if there’s a Studio 54 in heaven Sister Sledge are pretty much guaranteed to be found in the VIP lounge sipping Babycham. Readers I danced my ass clean off.
Having been on my feet for roughly 14 hours already OMD needed to be pretty damn good to keep me going and the fact that I spent most of Sunday in bed nursing various aches and pains tells me that they were. By their own admission the band took themselves a bit seriously back in the day but now, older and wiser, they seem much happier up there, even lending a little lightness to one of the darkest pop songs in history, Enola Gay (about the bombing of Hiroshima back in 1945...you don’t get that from Little Mix do you eh?). Of course there’s a lot more to OMD than songs about nuclear annihilation and this evening the synth pop holy trinity of Electricity, Joan Of Arc (Maid Of Orleans) and Locomotion served as a timely reminder for anyone who’d perhaps forgotten just how many classic singles the band produced. Lead singer Andy seemed to be enjoying himself almost as much as the audience up there, unleashing his legendary dance moves on the crowd with more than a spoonful of self deprecation. And then it was all over, bar the fireworks, 18 acts in just over 10 hours.
Suggestions for 2019? Jimi Somerville, Tom Bailey and Holly Johnson PLEASE. How about a little Five Star if they’re still kicking about too? One thing that does need tackling is the access and egress to and from the standing area if you want to get to the bar/loos. This year you risked breaking your neck if you wanted to pick your way through the chair/rug strewn ground and the narrow supposedly chair free ‘corridors’ were far too small. Personally, unless you have a disability, I’m not really sure why you’d choose to spend the entire day plonked in a chair (I saw a fair few people actually facing away from the stage too...I mean...why...bother...going?) but there we go, each to their own. Oh...one other thing, we were informed by a Security Guard at the start of the day that bags (of any sort) weren’t allowed in the ‘standing area’ because they were a ‘trip hazard’. “How about if we carry them over our shoulder then?” I suggested helpfully. “Nope, not allowed” he countered. I didn’t argue with him. I ignored him but I didn’t argue with him. Now I’m all for health and safety but come on. The ground itself is a trip hazard. So are peoples’ legs. And as for the perilous journey to the loos and back... Indiana Jones would think twice about attempting that one.
Anyway, let’s end things on a positive note. I saw no trouble at all, there were plenty of loos (unlike in 2016 when they seemingly forgot that men existed) and for £30 if you’re a fan of 80s pop you’d have to hop into a DeLorean and travel back to 1984 to have this much fun for so little.
Friday, June 29, 2018
Almost time for Let's Rock Exeter, another winningly random selection of the good, the bad and the 'what the ruddy hell are they doing on the bill' from the 80s. There are some personal favourites in the line up this year, notably Marc Almond, ABC, Sister Sledge and Fuzzbox (technically more of a 90s band but we'll let it slide), Mrs B's looking forward to OMD and if Nick Heywood can pull of the Haircut 100 stuff on his lonesome that should be good too. Of course it's a cheesy as a cheeseburger with the burger and bun replaced by cheese...with a little extra cheese on top for good measure, but what the hell. I'm secretly craving some sweaty Hi-NRG from Hazell Dean, altogether " Searchin', lookin' for looooooooove". I know, have no shame.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Just heard a track by Guillemots on 6 Music and wondered whatever happened to them? Old man Maconie said he'd heard from Fyfe recently who said new music was in the offing but I can't find any confirmation of this online. It's been 6 years since the last album so I can only assume Mr Dangerfield's working on something suitably ruddy epic. Just in case you missed Guillemots first time round (or have forgotten all about them...and let's face it there's a lot of distracting crap around right now...like the Government's new 'over 40's tax'...sod right off) here are three more of their best:
PS: If Fyfe would like to update the world on his plans he's more than welcome to pop in a comment below. Cheers!
PPS: I once lent him a pen you know. Twice in fact. Now there's a claim to fame. Where's my star on Broad Street eh?
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Well, almost 23 years ago today. Yes, way back in 1995 I went to my first ever music festival and started with the granddaddy of them all, Glastonbury. Coincidentally Glasto and I are the same age, although Glasto's probably in better shape than me.
My memories of the whole thing are a little hazy but I remember we were hopelessly ill prepared for it (well, we didn't buy our tickets from HMV in Brum until a week or two beforehand...yes, really). We hardly took any booze (fail), food (fail), money (mega fail...this was in the days before mobile cash points) and 1995 was hot, hot, hot.
We didn't even take any roll mats so slept on the rock hard ground. I've still got the bruises to prove it. Remarkably (I say remarkably as 'smart' phones hadn't been invented...imagine that eh kids?) there are a few homemade films of Glasto 95 on You Tube and it looks like a different world (mainly due to the absence of the aforementioned 'smart' phones that seem, along with the internet, to have sucked much of the living in the moment fun out of the world in my humble opinion). Here's a delightfully 'old skool' Super 8 film of a bunch of lads from Caversham. I love the caption at the end, 80,000 people attended and tickets were £65. Good grief. I bet you couldn't get an organic emu burger for that these days.
Oh yes, who did we see. Good point. Well we certainly saw Pulp, Dodgy, Jamiroquai, Supergrass, Billy Bragg. I have vague memories of watching at least some of Jeff Buckley's set and seeing Captain Sensible in a tent up in the Green Fields. We watched a lot of circus stuff, a little comedy...did we see the legendary Malcolm Hardee?...hmmmm, maybe. I'm ashamed to say that we were so battered and broke by the whole experience that we came home on the Sunday evening but valuable lessons had been learnt and when we do make it along to a festival these days we take enough food and drink to keep a small army satisfied for a week. And wet wipes. ALWAYS take wet wipes.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
How's this for an existential banger eh? Walsall's very own The Assist are back with the kind of track that's practically screaming out to be played in front of millions of festival goers all hugging each other, mashed off their tits on cider and William Hague's private stash. Sounds like a good night out to me.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
I was reading an article about underappreciated albums in some magazine the other night and Bowie's Earthling cropped up. To be honest most of Bowie's stuff from the late 80s until his final two releases isn't really played much these days which is a bit of a shame. On the one hand stuff like Little Wonder sounds a little dated now (Drum 'n' Bass-tastic) but on the other I remember how much it annoyed some of the old Bowie purists when it came out which, I guess, was one of the reasons why he did it. Whatever his motivation it's not a bad track. If 90s Bowie floats yer boat check out Jump from another underrated album, Black Tie White Noise too, a mere 25 years old this year. Good grief.
Friday, June 15, 2018
Oh good grief. It's started. Six ruddy weeks of football. I'm not a fan of sports, watching or participating, so things like the World Cup leave me pretty cold. I'll watch the odd England game though, just in the vague hope that the team doesn't totally humiliate the entire country. But in the 48 years I've been on planet Earth they've pretty much been consistently hopeless. Still, football's inspired a few half decent songs so I'm prepared to embrace it...just for today (NB: Okay, I'm pretty sure A Tribe Called Quest weren't inspired by the 'beautiful game' but this track sort of fits).
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
We’ve had the vinyl revival, we’ve had the tape revival but will there ever be a revival in CD’s fortunes eh? If you frequent charity shops as much as I do you’ll have seen the prices of CDs plummet in recent years. Just a couple of weeks ago I picked up three decent double disc compilation albums and a single disc compilation for a quid. That’s SEVEN CDs for a pound. Nuts eh? Okay that may be fairly unusual but it’s not hard to find CDs for a 50p or £1 each, sometimes they’re pretty recent too (I’m guessing someone buys them, loads the music onto a digital music player and then dumps the physical version?). Compared to most digital downloads the sound quality of a CD’s vastly superior and, although it lacks the warmth of vinyl, let’s be honest it also lacks the snap, crackle and pop too.
Of course there’s still nothing like the ceremony of slipping an LP or single out of its sleeve, gently placing it on the turntable and delicately lowering the needle onto the record but popping a CD out of its case and onto the little plastic tray at least involves some kind of interaction between you and the music plus you’ve...er...got a cute little booklet to read and a plastic case to pop your drink on too. Awwww bless.
The collectors’ market for CDs is surely set to explode soon, especially as most of the CD singles sold in the 90s are probably now residing in a hole in the ground somewhere, and yet those little silver discs that just a few short years ago were...whooooooo...‘the future’ are now just about as popular as syphilis. I don’t get it but equally I don’t particularly care. I’m currently filling my boots with bags and bags of cut price music and doing my little bit for ‘charidee’ along the way. Result.
PS: If you’re wondering why there's a video for Bikini Kill's classic Rebel Girl track above this gibberish it's because I picked up a copy of the band's 'The C.D. Version of the First Two Records' from British Heart Foundations' Exeter Branch for 99p on Saturday, along with similarly bargain priced Bad Brains and Babes In Toyland albums.
PPS: The CD revival start here. Possibly.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Can't believe it's just over a month until Snooky Fest (huge congratulations to Snooky Fest's Caz Steffans on her British Empire Medal in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List 2018 by the way). Tickets are flying out like seagulls after a pasty so grab one while you still can (a ticket that is...not a seagull...) right here. Just like last year there's a great mix of bands, the sunshine's guaranteed (honest) and they'll be enough cider to keep me happy (that'll be about three pints these days...lightweight...still, I'm a cheap date). Here's a little Snooky Fest promo to get you in the mood.
Friday, June 08, 2018
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
I never met Olivia, one of the original Kids Interview Bands interviewers, but I spent many a happy hour watching the interviews they did with bands great and small. So when I logged onto Facebook this morning and saw that she'd suddenly passed away (I'm guessing she was just 17 or 18) I was...well...words fail me. I can't begin to imagine what her family's going through right now but if there's any crumb of comfort to come out of this then it's the fact that she did a hell of a lot more in her all too brief life than most people her age...or any age for that matter. RIP Olivia.
PS: You can check out all of Olivia's (and her co-interviewer Connie's...and Piper, Olivia's younger sister and current Kids Interview Bands interviewer) interviews right here.
Tuesday, June 05, 2018
For various reasons this track's buzzing around my befuddled brain right now. Queen's later work rarely gets played these days which is a bit of a shame as it's fascinating stuff, albeit tinged with the sad fact that dear old Freddie knew his days were numbered. This vid's pretty uncomfortable to watch at times but then again he clearly loved what he was doing even as AIDS was sucking the very life out of him so let's not get too maudlin eh?
Friday, June 01, 2018
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Came across a lovely slice of vintage James Brown style funk courtesy of the mighty Tower Of Power whilst trawling through some of the squillion albums I've somehow accumulated over the past...good grief...38 or so years of collecting. Play it loud and get yo' funk on!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
For various reasons I don't get to see much live music at the moment so when I heard the distant sound of a steel drum version of Daft Punk's Get Lucky drifting over the garden wall at Baron Towers I had to go and investigate. It turns out it was a school band called Panatical from Hampshire who've played, amongst other places, the Albert Hall, Radio 2 and Chris Evans' Car Fest thingy. They went on to play a dizzying array of tracks for almost three hours (all from memory I hasten to add) and were ruddy brilliant. A huge slap on the back for whoever booked them to play Dawlish Artsfest this year.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Here's one for the file marked 'Great singles by a band I've never had any interest in before and quite possibly won't again'. It's a bit post punk / no wavey and will no doubt get used to advertise something unspeakable awful like the new i-Phone but there we go, welcome to the 21st century.
Monday, May 21, 2018
Blimey...it's almost hot today. What's going on eh? Anyone would think it was summer. Shhhhh don't tell anyone. Anyway, today's blast from the past comes from the suitably named Hot Hot Heat who were ruddy great when I saw them a mere 15 years ago. Sadly they packed it in back in 2016 but we'll always have 'bag of jizz' to remember them by...
Friday, May 18, 2018
No idea why this track popped into my head wandering the beaches of Dawlish this morning but who knows how the human mind - especially mine - works eh? This is especially for anyone out there who thinks that Soft Cell only ever did Tainted Love. It's a little different n'est ce pas?
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
It's still pretty rare to hear a track sung in anything but English on the radio these days so gwrys yn ta to Gwenno and 6Music for giving the Kerneweck language a chance. I particularly love the fact that the track translates as 'Is there cheese' and apparently a t-shirt bearing the legend 'Eus Keus' is quite the fashion item amongst those in the know.
Old buggers like me may well remember Gwenno from her Pipette days. Here she is pulling shapes...
Friday, May 11, 2018
Itttttttttttttttttttttttttt's Friday. And what better way to celebrate than an ever so slightly cheesy (or maybe that should be paneery) mix of Cornerhop's seminal classic Brimful of Asha eh? Another Friday banger to dance around in yer pants to.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
After yesterday's excursion into glossy 80s jazz pop here's something a lot rawer (and newer), Michael Jablonka's latest release, Flump, a kind of rocky/bluesy bastard grandson of Hendrix and Nirvana with a little added glam for good measure. Play it LOUD!
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
You can say that again Julia. Not only are we almost half way through 2018 but at 48 the chances are I'm considerably well over half way through this thing called L - I - F - E too. Ah well, whattya gonna do eh? Fegeddaboutit.
Back in 1988 I had a bit of a thing for Julia Fordham. Okay so her music may well have soundtracked a million yuppie (remember them?) dinner parties but I'm a sucker for glossily produced jazz tinged beauties like this one.
Oh go on then, let's have a little Happy Ever After too, a massive number 27 smash hit back in the day.
Wednesday, May 02, 2018
It's been some considerable time since I was 22, 26 years on Monday in fact (yes, it's my 48th birthday...cards, rum, warped vinyl all gratefully received). Good grief. But I'm still loving the new single from Sunflower Bean, one of those bands whose singles I've pretty much all loved but whose name somehow slips my mind whenever anyone asks me what I'm listening to these days. That's old age for you.
I wasn't a huge fan of my 20s or 30s. Bloody hard work and a whole lifetime of slog stretching out ahead of you. Of course it's a lot worse for the poor sods who are in their 20s these days. A pension age that's likely to exceed your life expectancy, house prices beyond the reach of most and rising rents that suck up pretty much every penny you earn, especially if you've got one of those lovely 'zero hours contracts'. Oh happy days. Youth isn't so much wasted on the young these days but imposed on the unlucky buggers.
Maybe that's why so much new music these days is either pretty low key and reflective (see the Sunflower Bean track above for instance) or an escapist piece of auto tuned fluff that always seems to 'feature' some bloke who wanders on and raps badly (also known as doing a Sean Paul). By contrast my 40s haven't been too bad. Okay there have been one or two hiccups along the way but I spent a good 5 years of my 40s going to more gigs, shows and festivals than I had hot dinners and I'll either fall off my perch at some stage in the next 20 years or slip into a retirement and take up position at Ye Old Cider Bar. Result! Anyway, that's enough reflection for one year, here are a few more Sunflower Bean's classics...
Monday, April 30, 2018
Trawling through an old hard drive the other week I came across some gig photos that I took years and years ago with the cheapest digital camera in the world. Unsurprisingly most of the shots looked like a dog's dinner but occasionally one or two wouldn't turn out half bad, like the shot above from Gallows Bar Academy gig waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2007. Now that was a gig. Remember this one?
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sparks meets Steve Harley in a lock up garage just on the outskirts on Brighton, that's as good a description as I can come up for White Witches' new song taken from their even newer album Heironymus Anonymous, available to order right here right now. If the lead singer sounds familiar you may remember him from his days in the legendary Pink Grease. Here's a little reminder...awesome stuff.
Monday, April 23, 2018
It's Monday! Er...hurrah! Here's a nice little earworm that's currently going round and round in what's left of my brain. I don't know a huge amount about Mattiel but this track's got a lovely 60s-ish feel, shades of Nancy Sinatra at her Bang Bang best perhaps? Enjoy!
Thursday, April 19, 2018
With a set that promises 19...count 'em...19!!!!...new songs...a new bass amp and a band that's "clean shaven (everywhere)"...ahem...The Day Ends play live this Saturday at The Station in Kings Heath. And it's only bloody free too! Get in there.
Here's an oldie but a goody to get you in the mood.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Me? At a real live gig? Yep, that actually happened. In fact I even managed a freebie jazz gig (Ric Yarborough) at The Symphony Hall on Friday evening too. Niiiiiiiiiiiice.
It was all thanks to a brief return trip to my old home city of Brumingham and blimey...hasn't the place changed. The new/old library (depending on your age) has gone and is being replaced by one of the most boring building ever constructed but Grand Central (aka New Street) is a vast improvement though and generally, two and a half years after I was last there, Brum looked/seemed like a city on the up.
Speaking of being on the up tonight Pete Williams and band were better than ever with a set that mixed old favourites with tantalising slices of musical magic from the new album (due out in June apparently). As I've pretty much given up reviewing gigs for now I didn't bother taking any notes but one track in particular, which may have been called Twice Around the Bend, stood out as an absolute belter.
I've long since given up trying to figure out how/why some artists end up playing stadiums whilst others are lucky to fill a small toilet cubical (not that The Rep Studio falls into that category, au contraire, it's a decent sized venue that seemed to be pretty much sold out this evening) but if anyone deserves a big break I can't think of a better bloke than Pete Williams to get it.
PS: You can watch a vid of one of the set's highlights right here.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Attention Midlands based friends, the wonderful Mr Pete Williams is playing at The Rep Studio this Saturday evening April 14th and unveiling new songs - like this little beauty - from his forthcoming album. Tickets are a mere £15 right here right now but best get in quick!
Monday, April 09, 2018
Currently reading a fine biog of Sparks, Talent Is An Asset, which prompted me to go snuffling about the darkest corners of the internet...that'll be You Tube then...for some early footage of the band. I found this little clip. If you thought Ron Mael looked scary during their mid 70's prime cop a load of his look here. Quite what the German public made of a man with a Hitler moustache, long curly hair and eye liner glaring at them through the TV screen I'd love to know. Freeze the vid at 27 seconds in for the full effect.
Thursday, April 05, 2018
Wild Beasts may be dead and buried but if you like a little nuts in a nutcracker high voiced tropically tinged loveliness cop a listen to Love Gotten by BOKITO. It's enough to make you think summer's just around the corner...that's a hint if you're reading this 'mother nature'...I think we've all had enough of your Beasts From The Easts, Pests From The Wests and Complete And Utter Bastards From the Norths to last us a lifetime don't you?
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Chuffed to see that Snooky Fest is back on Saturday July 14th for a second year after a hugely impressive debut and early bird tickets are on sale right now for a frankly bargaintastic £15. The line up's still to be announced but a top notch and varied bill's pretty much 100% guaranteed. Here's a quick highlight from last year's Snooky Fest...
And don't forget that Snooky Fest exists to raise money to help 18-40 year olds with any form of physical illness in Dawlish and Devon so it's a ruddy great cause too! Get in there.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Monday, March 26, 2018
Heard this chap on Cerys' show on 6Music a couple of weeks ago and meant to post it last week but, ya know, time and stuff. It's a jaunty little number, slight echoes of Momus perhaps, accompanied by a truly disturbing vid. Best not to watch it before lunch. Or after lunch. Or if you're ever planning to eat again for that matter. Still, a great track!
Thursday, March 22, 2018
"EASY RIPPIN" by THE DAY ENDS from The Day Ends on Vimeo.
Chuffed sideways to hear a new track from The Day Ends...no, scratch that, not just a new track but a whole new genre...Post Blues Psych Punk. And you lucky Midlands based peeps have a chance to see it played live (possibly, Miles Perhower might well have write an entirely new set over the next few days) this weekend in yet another cracking edition of Sunday Xpress. Get stuck in ya muthas.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Heard this again for the first time in ages on the ever reliable 6 Music yesterday and thought it deserved a quick post, especially as we could all do with its distinctly summertime vibe over the weekend when we're apparently going to be blasted by the ruddy 'beast from the east' once more. Bugger me the shops round here still haven't recovered from the last lot yet.
PS: Is it just me or does this track have a bit of a Les Fleur vibe?