There was always an infectious warmth and joy that radiated from Four Tops performances, even when delivering such desperately pleading lines as "Empty nights/ Echo your name" and “This emptiness won't let me live without you/ This loneliness inside me darlin'/ Makes me feel not alive”.
With this being the 50th anniversary of Motown, raise your glasses to Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Obie Benson and Lawrence Peyton.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Some songs for September.
1. Richard Wylie and His Band – “Money (That’s What I Want)” (1960)
Barrelhouse piano, a crazy mixed up melody, and bendy guitar lick so sneaky it’ll reach deep inside the tightest confines of your pocket and pinch your last dime without you even noticing.
2. Tubby Hayes – “The Late One” (1961)
Tenor virtuosity from the Tubster as he leads his quartet with lightning fingers and a lairy shirt.
3. The Miracles – “I’ll Try Something New” (1962)
Call a doctor, there’s been a severe case of Smokey fever sweeping through Monkey Mansions this month.
4. Dave Berry – “Don’t Gimme Me No Lip Child” (1964)
Berry’s meaty, beaty, big and bouncy bombshell must’ve taken a few teenyboppers by surprise when they flipped over his “Crying Game”.
5. The Byrds – “Why” (1966)
The version on the B side of “Eight Miles High” was recorded a year before the Younger Than Yesterday one, and contains a far groovier wigged out raga bit in the middle.
6. Lou Ragland – “Since You Said You’d Be Mine” (1973)
Paying Our Dues is one of my favourite Kent compilations and as Ady Croasdell perceptively notes on the sleeve the lyric “I’m three times happier than the law allows me to be” is pure class. Remixed by John Cale. That John Cale?
7. Pissed Jeans – “Ashamed Of My Cum” (2005)
Yes, there really is a band called Pissed Jeans, and yes, they really do have a song called “Ashamed Of My Cum”. Not quite X-Factor material unless Simon Cowell sees pound signs in the sound of starving apes trapped in a recording studio taunted by the sight of food waved at the window. Is that a recommendation? Only if you’re thirteen and looking to piss off your parents.
8. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart LP (2009)
Once upon a time, back in the late 80’s, indie meant indie. The girls had bobs and cute button noses and the more astute boys yearned to look like Sterling Morrison. Distorted guitars would wash over Spectoresque drums, waves of sound and melodies would dreamily float in and out the fuzz, and earnest young fanzine writers would sit in their bedrooms armed with cheap typewriters, scissors and Pritt-Stick as John Peel played another Mongolian import. Ah, sweet memories.
9. The Cribs – Ignore The Ignorant LP (2009)
Oh dear, what’s happened to The Cribs? They’ve now all the bite of a dog with its teeth removed. And it probably seemed such a great idea getting Johnny Marr to join. He sprinkles his nice fancy Marrisms over the new album, but if you sprinkle sugar over a turd it’ll still taste of shit.
10. The Lemonheads – “Layin’ Up With Linda” (Live at the Forum, Saturday 19th September 2009)
Yep, they’re still going and last Saturday, with the grungeometer turned to ten, they beat the buggery out of their fabulous back catalogue and threw in some new ones like this cover of GG Allin’s chucklesome tale of killing his girlfriend.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Start handing out the Music Book of the Year awards now. Simon Goddard, I hope you’ve a very large mantelpiece.
Over 600 entries across 532 pages cataloguing in exhaustive detail everything you’d ever need about Morrissey and Smiths songs, plus all the books, films, actors, singers, groups, records and anything else that has lit Mozza’s muse. All the significant people he has worked with, all the places of interest, all the odds and ends that paint the most comprehensive portrait you’ll find of the man. And he’s maybe not quite the man you think he is. Or perhaps he’s more men than you think he is.
Yes, he’s the vegetarian, flower smashing, hearing-aid modeling, James Dean worshipping, master of Wildean wit and withering putdown; he’s also a football watching, boxing following, beer swilling, ecstasy taking, listener of the Cockney Rejects.
Goddard’s pain staking research and the book’s attractive encyclopedic format offers more scope to cover beyond a bog-standard music biography and it does with glorious aplomb.
Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths by Simon Goddard is published by Ebury Press, priced £25.
Monday, 21 September 2009
None of the usual Monday frivolity. Richard Hawley’s new album, Truelove’s Gutter, is out today and here’s a stunning Scottastic track from it.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
When I first came across Joe Ridgwell’s writing a few years back – mainly short stories scattered across the internet - he claimed to be the author of a novel Last Days of the Cross. After searching for it to no avail I put it down to self-mythologising bullshit, but no, here it finally is courtesy of new independent publishers Grievous Jones Press.
Ridgwell delivers straight down the line, no nonsense, no fussing, unpretentious, conversational storytelling where the words fly off the page. In Last Days of the Cross his romantic notion of becoming a poet lands him in Australia, where he assumes wondrous poems will come tumbling forth to critical acclaim and Joseph Ridgwell Appreciation Societies will be founded. That he chose Australia in the first place shows his head ain’t screwed on straight and further evidence of his rash heart-ruling-the-head nature comes when Joe falls for a junkie prostitute who’s just nicked his money.
There are obvious (and acknowledged) influences of both Arturo Bandini’s delusional claims of artistic greatness in John Fante’s Ask The Dust and Henry Chinaski’s need to hustle ridiculous jobs as poetry doesn’t put beer in the fridge from Charles Bukowski’s Factotum. Readers of those will find much to enjoy here as the tale wobbles from self-inflicted heartache to pure comedy on the turn of a page, leading to a cringing will-he/won’t-he dilemma when faced with an unexpected proposition.
Thoroughly recommend this and as good as it is I predict Joe’s next one will be even better. That appreciation society might not be too far away.
Last Days of the Cross by Joseph Ridgwell is published by Grievous Jones Press, priced £10. www.grievousjonespress.com.
In Search of the Lost Elation at www.josephridgwell.blogspot.com
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The Godlike Genius that is William “Smokey” Robinson is coming to London to play the Roundhouse as part of the BBC Electric Proms on Saturday 24th October. How bloody exciting is that?
Here's part of the official blurb:
"A true soul legend takes to the Roundhouse stage for a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Motown records. Smokey Robinson performs his greatest hits plus songs from his new album Time Flies When You're Having Fun.
Smokey Robinson and his band will be joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra. For the first time, BBC Electric Proms has specially commissioned brand new arrangements of these cherished hits for what promises to be a magical performance".
The "new arrangements" part sounds ominous but I'm prepared to swallow that for a paltry £25. If you hear some cockney bellowing on the telly for “If Your Mother Only Knew”, “Whatever Makes You Happy”, "Choosey Beggar" or “A Fork In The Road”, that’ll be me.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
I love a good old black and white kitchen sink drama and so, it seems, do Odeon Entertainment as they continue to release forgotten gems of the genre on DVD for the first time, the latest being The Wind Of Change.
Set around Portobello Road and the Notting Hill race riots of ’58, the film stars Johnny Briggs – better known as demented pajama clad knicker boss Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street – as Frank, the leader of a racist Teddy Boy gang who also count a youthful David Hemmings in their ranks. The gang head out looking for “one of them” when they spot a black man with a white girl and proceed to do their business with bike chains and coshs. The couple happens to be Frank’s sister Josie and her new boyfriend.
The film then explores the relationships, attitudes and prejudices within Frank and Josie’s family. The mother sees little wrong in her precious boy, whilst Pops (Donald Pleasence) is more or less the voice of reason; he even keeps a black rabbit with his white rabbits and they get along. Not that it stops Pops, seemingly innocently, naming him Nigger. The racist language throughout would make even Alf Garnett wince and Briggs’ performance is frighteningly convincing in its moronic idiocy.
Hence the reason it’s not likely to be screened on the box. It’s a difficult film to love but as documentary and drama of the time (and probably, unfortunately, not just of it's time) it’s well worth investigating. The DVD comes with an extra film, the 1962 espionage thriller The Traitors. I’m no fan of spy capers so the highlight there was spotting a few Lambrettas on London streets.
The Wind Of Change/The Traitors is released by Odeon Entertainment and sells for £7.98 on Amazon. Other retail outlets are available.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Friday, 11 September 2009
If you happen to be flouncing through the streets of Milan in a couple of weeks, you’ll be in time to catch me DJing for those fine folk at Buzz With The Fuzz.
Who am I kidding? I’ll be there supping my espresso and Peroni, you lot won’t. I’m only posting it here to show off.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
The Cat Inside, first published in 1986, was one of four Burroughs titles reprinted as part of the Penguin Modern Classics series last week, containing anecdotes, diary entries and dreams all about his love of cats and it’s quite unlike anything else in his canon. Bill, then in his early 70s, comes across as a sweet, slightly sentimental, old codger pottering about adopting stray cats and making small talk in the pet food store. It does little for his reputation as a literary outlaw but humanizes him and injects (pun unintentional) some belated warmth into his chilly persona. Here’s a typical entry:
“I don’t remember exactly when Ruski first came into the house. I remember sitting in a chair by the fireplace with the front door open and he saw me from fifty feet away and ran up, giving the special little squeaks I never heard from another cat, and jumped into my lap, nuzzling and purring and putting his little paws up to my face, telling me he wanted me to be my cat.” (Ahhh).
Burroughs is usually utterly distinctive but you’d never recognise him from that cute fluffiness. You’d maybe expect Ruski to then morph into some disease ridden alien life form that tries to fuck you up the arse before snapping your spine but he doesn’t. Bill’s fascination with guns and weapons was deep rooted but here cuddly Bill becomes furious after a badger is shot, goes into apoplexy about fox hunting and bemoans the destruction of rainforests like Swampy’s incensed Grandpa waving his cane.
But the focus is cats. If you’re not a cat person you’ll not get much out of The Cat Inside but if you’re stuck for a present for your feline fancying friend this’ll beat a moggy mug. It might even turn Granny on to Naked Lunch…
The Cat Inside (1986), Interzone (1989), Letters 1945-1959 (1993) and My Education: A Book Of Dreams (1995) are all published by Penguin Modern Classics.
Monday, 7 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Jack Kerouac enthusiasts will be raising their glasses to the publication of Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats by Isaac Gewirtz.
Readers of his biographies will know as a child Jack devised an elaborate world of fantasy sports games (primarily horse racing and baseball); not only inventing the games, with sticks and marbles, but creating tournaments, players, coaches, trainers, betting tips, then recording all the results, stats and news in painstaking detail on scorecards and in his own newspapers.
If the horse racing game was relatively simple and dropped by the age of sixteen, the baseball game was so baffling in its complexity as Jack wrestled to reflect every conceivable outcome of play, that he continued it right through his adult life; a fact he chose to keep from his beat buddies. Think how different On The Road might have been. “Hey Dean, instead of heading to that gloomy Mexican whorehouse, how about we play marbles?” “Wow! Yes Sal! Yes! Yes! Yes! That is of course what we must do. Think of the kicks we’ll have”.
Gewirtz’s book reproduces a mere 5% of the surviving collection of this curious, solitary occupation that reflects not only Jack’s imagination and thirst for recording events but how serious and obsessive he was with writing from an early age. Later he would meticulously log his daily word count and agonize if he hadn’t written enough, and even here as an adolescent he’d fill endless pages with neat penciled handwriting, before moving to the dense blocks of typed text seen in the scroll version of Road.
A curio for the collection but a welcome one.
Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats by Isaac Gewirtz is published by the New York Public Library (www.nypl.org)
Friday, 4 September 2009
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Found this great little film of the Brighton rally on YouTube. Dont know who made it but they've captured it just right I reckon. Well done whoever you are.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
After another depressing week of reading the on-line bickering and pronouncements on the Death of the Mod Scene, plus a few balls being taking home in a huff, it was a welcome relief to get to Brighton and find there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
Friday night at the Smugglers had yard for yard the smartest turnout I’d witnessed for ages and those that fret about ruining their tan suede driving shoes could’ve relaxed as friendly, civilized decorum mixed seamlessly with well mannered hedonism to a soundtrack heavily slanted in the R&B direction.
The Saturday and Sunday allnighters were less civilized (but no less fun) as a sell-out 400/500 crowd packed the Komedia Theatre. It’s increasingly difficult to get an aging scene (with some very notable and welcome exceptions) to run of the mill club nights but they’ll make the effort when presented with something special. From a DJ-ing point of view, it was a real buzz to play to an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd more into dancing than standing around (bit of pot, kettle and black there I admit), and in a venue with not only a cracking PA system but a decent sound engineer too. Also the fact mine and Speed’s sets tended to be next to each over the weekend, me playing R&B/Soul and he British Beat/US Garage, with no discernable difference to the dance floor showed people’s tastes aren’t always as black and white as you could be led to believe.
Sunday daytime saw the scooter ride-out and although numbers were small fry compared to what was happening at the Isle of Wight, they were up on previous years and I’d sooner see Mods on Mod scooters than any number of scooterists (or "trees" for those that are still scarred by the 80s) on whatever bastardized machines they want to inflict on the world. Some footage.
A weekend, as always, to meet old friends and new and rekindle the faith. Next year I’ll finally take the SX.
Here’s my playlist from Saturday (to save on space I'll skip the Sunday ones):
Lou Donaldson – The Humpback (Blue Note)
Fred Ford – Blackeyed Rattlesnake (Duke)
Toussaint McCall – The Toussaint Shuffle (Ronn)
Ray Charles – You’re Just About To Lose Your Clown (ABC)
Lloyd Price – Take All (Jad)
BB King – Beautician Blues (Kent)
Jimmy McCracklin – Susie and Pat (Art-Tone)
Big Jack Reynolds – I Had A Little Dog (Hi-Q)
L. Roy Baimes – Hey L. Roy (BJR)
Buddy Lamp – My Tears (Double-L)
Danny Brown – Chewing Gum (Earth)
Anna Belle Caesar – Little Annie (Gladhamp)
Gospel Pearls – Two Little Fishes (Liberty)
Guitar Red – Just You and I (Checker)
Leo Price and Band – Hey Now Baby (Up-Down)
Dee Dee Sharp – Deep Dark Secret (Cameo)
Gloria Grey – It’s A Sweet World (Warner Brothers)
Ray Scott – Right Now (Decca)
Aretha Franklin – Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your Jacket (Columbia)
Mike Pedecin – Burnt Toast and Black Coffee (Federal)
Grover Pruitt – Little Girl (Salem)
Bobby Peterson Quintet – Mama Get Your Hammer (V-Tone)
Gardenias – What’s The Matter With Me (Fairline)
Lloyd Price – The Chicken and the Bop (KRC)
JB Lenior – She Don’t Know (Checker)
Sugar Boy Williams – Little Girl (Herald)
Banny Price – You Love Me Pretty Baby (Jewel)
Dick Holler – Mooba Grooba (Comet)
Ritchie Barrett – Some Other Guy (Atlantic)
Marv Johnson – Come On and Stop (United Artists)
James Brown – Good Good Lovin’ (Federal)