Saturday, 30 March 2019

MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - TWENTY



The 20th edition of Monkey’s Wandering Wireless Show features music from 1951-2019, tracks from every decade from the 50s onwards (minus one) and features artists from at least nine countries. None of that was planned, just the way it ended up. Expect lots of stuff with horns! Get yer groove on comrades. Enjoy.

Friday, 29 March 2019

HIP ITALIAN CINEMA: LA DECIMA VITTIMA (1965)


For sheer visual elegance alone, Elio Petri’s 1965 Italian movie, La Decima Vittima (The Tenth Victim), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress, is riveting, but its added combination of style with substance, social commentary with wry humour, make it essential viewing for fans of cult 60s cinema.

Mastroianni, a huge star since La Dolce Vita, had led in Petri’s 1961 directorial debut, L’Assassino, accused of murder in what Petri described as an examination of “a new generation of upstarts who lacked any kind of moral scruple”. It’s a theme carried over to La Decima Vittima, based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story, Seventh Victim, where contestants find celebrity in a legalised game of murder, The Big Hunt, and their elderly parents are locked away, hidden from the authorities, for reasons best guessed.

A giant computer in Geneva selects a hunter and victim. The hunter knows the victim, the victim must find out and kill their potential assassin. Kill the wrong person and face 30 years in prison. The winner receives a cash rising to a million dollars if they survive ten rounds. The general public are hooked. A cool club of beautiful people applaud their evening’s entertainment Andress fires lethal shots from a silver swimsuit made of twisted tin toil while the Ming Tea Company want to film her tenth kill for a new advertising campaign.

For all Petri’s lofty aspirations and desire to Say Something Important about morality and murder, commercialism and celebrity, marriage and relationships, organised religion (check the scene where the Sun Worshippers are abused by the Moon Worshippers, “Take your sunsets someplace else!”), it's all done with a light pop touch. Political but playful rather than po-faced. It’s fun and, let’s be honest, pairing the gorgeous Andress with Mastroianni, a constant source of edgy discomfort, it’s damn sexy.

Every scene is a feast for the eyeballs. Set at some point in the 21st Century, it’s futuristic without being too science-fiction; there are no spaceships, beaming up, and the most hi-tech contraption is a small robotic pet. When Marcello (Mastroianni) needs to contact his mistress, he parks the car and uses a phone box. Instead it scans like a flick through the pages of mid-60s Vogue or Queen. Black and white op art paintings hang on the walls; pop art is at every turn; comic books are now antique collectables; there’s the pinball machine, the furniture, the strange sculptured figures dotted around house and garden; Andress swans around in an E-Type Jag; and Blur would later pinch the television dancers’ costumes for their Music Is My Radar video. The single most striking item is a giant, blinking eye behind a heavy-set pair of spectacles. It could be Harry Palmer wearing this iconic Curry & Paxton frames, but is Joe Tilson in a fabulously cheeky reworking of the pop artist’s self-portrait, Look!, from the previous year. The whole film, in fact, is eyewear heaven.

Piero Piccioni's soundtrack is glitzy space age jazz, a combination of plinking strings and fuzzy organ, the chirpy yet dramatic title theme sung by Mina, who’d recently been banned by Italian TV and radio for causing scandal with her pregnancy by a married actor. Her inclusion by Petri, a working-class former communist who’d had his own issues with the Catholic church, presumably no coincidence.

“I’m going to die, I’m sure of it” confides Marcello, unaware of his hunter. “I know you’ll die, Marcello”, replies his mentor at the Big Hunt training centre, “but the important thing is how one dies. Like an insect or like a samurai”. In other words, whatever you do, do it with style.

This piece first appeared in Anglozine, Issue 2, produced by the hip outfitters of the same name whose current range is inspired by the film. You can kit yourself out here

Saturday, 2 March 2019

CURTIS MAYFIELD - LIVE ON BEAT CLUB (1972)



This is almost too good to be true. An hour of Curtis Mayfield, clear as day, live on the telly, from January 1972.

I've seen parts of this before but not the complete set and not in such good quality. I won’t spoil any of the surprises, just watch it, it’s amazing, and his band featuring Craig McMullen (guitar), Joseph ‘Lucky’ Scott (bass), Tyrone McCullen (drums) and ‘Master’ Henry Gibson (percussion) are smokin’. 

When ya think ya couldn’t love Curtis Mayfield more…

Sunday, 24 February 2019

OUT NOW - MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - NEW SEASON!


It’s back! Yep, after months shuffling its feet in the wilderness, Monkey’s Wandering Wireless Show returns and is available to listen NOW!

The format is the same as before, the only difference, following the sticky demise of Fusion-on-Air, is it’s now an independent production and not part of a collective. A shame in some ways; Fusion was a brilliant thing to be involved with for years and I’m immensely proud of it. Many of the contributors have reconvened as Passion Radio but I fancy a new challenge and working to the beat of my own drum and having freedom to do shows more regularly (the intention is monthly).

No longer part of an internet radio station I will miss the buzz of broadcasting “live” and the communal spirit of listeners engaged at the same time but many caught-up after the event anyway. Shows will now, like how films with limited commercial potential went straight to DVD, be uploaded direct to Mixcloud/Mark Raison12 and advertised via the usual social media channels.

The hour-long broadcasts will continue to be based, but not rooted, in the 60s; decades and styles meandering back and forth with an emphasis on soulful shufflers and popish toe-tappers.

Hope you find time to tune in. Spread the word. Enjoy! 



Monday, 21 January 2019

THE SOUL CELLAR OPENS ITS DOORS AGAIN: A TRIBUTE TO PETER YOUNG


It’s 1986. I’d left school at sixteen the previous year, was still living at home, and after a few months stocking freezers and pushing supermarket trollies to customer’s cars (they couldn’t be trusted to return them), was now spending my days cutting and pasting reports in a nondescript office block (physically cutting and pasting, armed with scissors and Pritt-Stick and a photocopy machine). I was a mod of a few years standing and little else mattered beyond music and clothes. The mod scene, the one dominated by kids who’d only caught the tail end of The Jam, had peaked during ’85 and was disintegrating by the week as the more popular bands folded and people gradually drifted from the centre.

Soul music was still, increasingly, the thing. That and rhythm and blues. Jazz was its exotic, mysterious cousin. The talismanic sounds of black America were fuelling the imagination and passions of white British suburbia. Sunday nights, while my dad was at work and my mum piled through the ironing (“Mum, remember to do the top button up on my shirts when you hang them”) I’d lie on the living room floor with the radio/cassette player tuned to Capitol Radio, my finger hovering over the play and record buttons for 9 o’clock and the start of the Soul Cellar, presented by Peter Young.

It’s difficult to explain quite how influential these shows were, not only to me but for thousands of likeminded brothers and sisters. When Peter died in November 2018, it was heartening to see people my age posting their memories of the shows and saying how they too would record them. I taped thirty shows in total, which I’ve now begun to share on Mixcloud.

Each week I’d have my trusty notebook in front of me. On the right-hand page, I’d write down the tracks. To economise on tapes, I’d edit out a few overly familiar songs or very rarely a track I didn’t like, to fit a show on one side of a C-90. After a few months, the pub called more loudly on a Sunday night and my mum would kindly hit record. I’d then collect the songs. Once purchased, either on single or on compilations (CDs didn’t count as owning it, having it on a cheapie MFP album from Woolworth’s did) I’d underline it in red pen. On the left-hand page, I’d doodle: drawing scooters, dancers, Right On fist salutes and get excited about the next 100 Club allnighter or Curtis Mayfield or Style Council gig.

The shows were a massive education. "PY, the Pork Pie" a wonderful teacher: warm, knowledgeable and so obviously enthralled by the music. The thumping sixties club-soul sounds were the Soul Cellar’s stock in trade but they featured much more. The first show I recorded, on Sunday 20 July 1986, perfectly demonstrates their breadth and how they broadened the horizons of purist young mods to whom December 1966 was previously the cut-off acceptance point.

There are some big Motown hits, a dedication to mods going down to Brighton for the weekend, but also Jimmy McGriff attacking ‘Jumpin' At The Woodside’ in a way Count Basie could never have envisaged and tapped into how jazz would be the next touchstone with all those Jazz Juice, Jazz Club and Blue Note compilations jostling for attention next to the trusty Kent soul LPs; the low-down blues brilliance of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee’s ‘Uncle Bud’; rare groove and anything James Brown related was becoming huge and Lynn Collins’ ‘Think’ soon sampled to an inch of its life; and finally, Jackie Moore’s ‘Both Ends Against The Middle’ and Barbara Acklin’s ‘I’ll Bake Me A Man’, from 1974 and 1973 respectively, smashed open the doors to a new unexplored decade.

Whether you listened to the Soul Cellar originally, and fancy revisiting them over 30 years later, or are coming to them for the first time, even allowing for the now familiarity of some tracks, they still sound fresh and exciting. Thank you, Peter Young, for the best radio I've ever had the pleasure to hear.


Follow on Mixcloud or Twitter for updates when new shows added (plenty more to come plus other radio shows of interest...)

Saturday, 3 November 2018

THE COOKIN' CATFISH CLUB, KENT - SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2018

Two weeks to go until I make my return the R&B club DJ-ing arena, on a top looking bill at the Cookin’ Catfish Club in Kent. It’s been a while so will be great to crank out some of my all-time favourites plus more recent acquisitions to the box of Monkey magic. Here are the Catfish comrades with the full spiel…

Kent's sharpest night out returns. Saturday 17th November. 8pm until 2am. This time at The 4 Degrees Bar inside the historic Royal Star Arcade in the heart of Maidstone town centre. A venue of great pedigree which, as The Royal Star Hotel, hosted artists like Georgie Fame, The Alan Price Set & Davy Jones & The Manish Boys during the 1960s.

Raw rhythm & blues, soaring club soul. Latin, jazz, ska, beat & more will be on the menu once again. All spun before the dancefloor on original vinyl from the 20th Century's golden era of the 1950s & 1960s. Sean, Russell, Ivan & Mark will be in position on the decks as before, along with a truly mouth-watering line up of guest DJs.

Mark Raison, Mr. Monkeypicks, the man behind the legendary Shake club will be bringing his records from the big smoke down into leafy Kent. Should you follow his blog or radio shows on Fusion-On-Air, you'll require no further introduction. Top level.

The great Lee Miller will be making the journey down from Leeds back to his hometown again to build on his fantastic sets at the first CCC in June. A DJ on top of his game at the Brighton Mod weekender & worthy of the admission fee alone.

Stoke's Rob Powner, of Wang Dang Doodle fame, fresh from a storming set at Brighton and an electric turn at Dreamsville will be bringing the fire. Break any new shoes in prior the night is our best advice.

We're also pleased to welcome Jeff Farrant on board. One of the modernist scene's coolest cats will be bringing his fantastic records up from the South coast to get our dancefloor moving.

It promises to be a cracker once again with the venue's large dancefloor giving plenty of room for our crowd of superb dancers plus hopefully, you & yours this time. Advance tickets can be purchased for £6 from 4 degrees bar or via PayPal (friends&family/gift please) russ-breakaway@hotmail.com. include your postal details in notes. Admission on the night will be £8. Please be in by midnight.

Being a town centre venue there will be security, so please bring ID if you are fortunate enough to look young. People will be very smartly dressed at The Cookin' Catfish, though we do not enforce any dress code. Respect & tolerance is our way & we'd ask everyone attending to enjoy the night in the same spirit. Hope to see you there. Wear your dancing shoes...

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

ACTUALISATION by THE LUCID DREAM (2018)


Psychedelic, spacerock, Krautrock, dub, drone, shoegaze, blah, blah, blah. Never a band to worry about categorisation, The Lucid Dream sent the proverbially cat scurrying into a pack of startled pigeons in April when they unleashed ‘SX1000’ onto the public who, judging from pockets of indignation, hadn’t all been paying enough attention.

Traces of ‘SX1000’s squelching acid house sound could be found in the DNA of the band’s previous work but now it was out in the open, in all its beating Day-Glo glory, a 12-inch siren in homage to a distance summer of love.

If ‘SX1000’, and the revelation their next album was written without guitars and using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, gave the impression Actualisation would be a full-on warehouse party banger, the resulting record doesn’t fulfil that promise/threat (delete as appropriate).

The clue comes before listening. There’s no big yellow smiley adorning the artwork, but a continuation of all their previous three albums. Two silhouetted figures stand on opposite precipices: dark, grey, desolate, eerie, take your pick, but it’s an environment where the division of joy is thinly cut.

The Lucid Dream are capable of, and on occasion do, twist one’s melons, but Actualisation doesn’t grab the listener in a pharmaceutically charged embrace in the spirit of openness and one-love but largely smashes their skull against the nearest wall in desperate urge to free itself from the suffering claustrophobic air of anxiety and frustration. The world is fucked, sunshine. Forget ecstasy, these are the days of spice and monkey dust.

‘Alone In Fear’, gets the blood is pumping from the off. This isn’t a celebration of a hedonistic yesteryear but a chilling mirror of today’s Britain at war with itself. Helicopters circle. “Grind you down, grind you down, grind you down, down, down” repeats Mark Emmerson like a whining trapped dog as the apocalyptic nightmare unfolds. Thump, thump, thump. Clickety-clack. “There’s no one home” he screams, “come on!” The end feels like a release.

‘Zenith (Part 1 and 2)’ hits a dark funk groove and, even in the face of adversity, offers a broadly positive spin before ‘SX1000’ works its magic and temporarily banishes the gloom for six and a half minutes. Although, to be honest, heard in the context of the album rather than a stand alone track it now feels less joyful than it did in the spring.

The guitars, and there are some, on ‘Breakdown’ echo John McGeoch’s playing on Siouxsie and the Banshees’ similarly terrifying (and equally brilliant) JuJu album.

After a spiralling psychedelic intro, ‘Ardency’ throbs into hypnotising action, the bass acting as rungs on the ladder, steps on a magical beanstalk, reaching higher and higher. “Sweet, sweet love” is the refrain, “love is all you need” the cry. Someone did pack a pocketful of doves after all. Love ya mate. That euphoria is short lived as reality bites again and “No Sunlight Dub” takes us home and it’s no gentle Sunday afternoon on the sofa comedown. “I can see no sunlight” repeats a petrified Emmerson, “loneliness is such a sad thing, where will the love go?

Where indeed? And where will The Lucid Dream go next? Constantly stretching, forever pushing themselves, there’s no telling. Actualisation isn’t for the faint hearted but it’s real and the fearless Lucid Dream stand up to and capture the mood of now like few others dare. An important and vital band of our time. 

Actualisation by The Lucid Dream is released by Holy Are You on Friday.