Thursday, 30 January 2014


This month's Monkey morsels...

1. Lowell Fulsom – “Love Grows Cold” (1963)
Slack-jawed Chicago R&B magic on Checker Records, shortly before Fulsom moved to Kent on the West Coast. A perfect modernist dancer.

2. Grant Green – “Daddy Grapes” (1965)
From the album His Majesty King Funk and as cool as Green is with the old guitar – and he is extremely cool – it’s Larry Young’s organ workout which steals the show. As for his majesty, his throne looks to me like a wooden garden chair.

3. Townes Van Zandt – “Tecumseh Valley” (1968)
Caroline was a daughter of a miner, left town looking for work and a place to stay, times were hard, jobs were few, she found a job tending bar for Gypsy Sally, saved enough to send back home, but Pa had died, she turned to walking the streets, many men walked beside her. Then things got worse. Van Zandt must’ve known how special this song was; he included versions on two out of his first three albums.  

4. Frank Sinatra – “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” (1968)
Ol Blue Eyes called this the greatest torch song ever written. I can’t think of a bad version and Frank’s – helped by a sumptuous arrangement - is one of the best.

5. The Normals – “Almost Ready” (1979)
Track two on an excellent recent compilation Punk 45: Kill The Hippies! Kill Yourself! The American Nation Destroys Its Young - Underground Punk In The United States of America 1973-1980, Vol.1. An unwieldy title but one which handily negates me having to add much more other than to say The Normals were from New Orleans and “Almost Ready” sounds like The Ramones jumping the mod revival.

6. The Times – “Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat?” (1983)
Not so long ago I thought The Times were flipping lousy but – like the Television Personalities – I’ve grown to rather like their quaint cheapness. To fair This Is London does sound like they spent fifty quid recording an album rather than their usual quid on a blank cassette.

7. The Nubiles – “I Wanna Be Your Kunta Kinte” (1996)
In the rare moments I’ve dragged myself away from Bed, I’ve been listening to Tara Milton’s post-Five Thirty combo and their Mindbender album. It’s a tough, challenging, uncompromising record as exemplified by this typically radio unfriendly single demanding the killing of the BNP.

8. The Pastels – “Secret Music” (2013)
The album Slow Summits is best enjoyed quietly in the morning with a fresh pot of coffee as the sun rises.

9. Wooden Shjips – “Find The Way” (2013)
All aboard the magic swirling shjip as these San Franciscan beardies glide across a sea of gently pulsating waves.  

10. The Lucid Dream – “Moonstruck” (2014)
Always an exciting moment when the first record arrives with the new year printed on the sleeve/label. That honour for 2014 goes to Cumbrian drone-rock noise merchants The Lucid Dream.

Saturday, 25 January 2014


It’s the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend. Not that it matters to Queen’s Park Rangers whose aversion to cup competitions means they bail out at the first possible opportunity. At least this season they rolled over for a decent Everton side; a shade more palatable than being beaten at home to a team representing Vauxhall Motors as they did not so long ago. But whoever the opposition the club rarely gives a toss about any cup competition.

It’s a real pity fighting relegation, chasing promotion or even scrabbling over league positions is now the be-all and end-all to clubs. Winning a cup doesn’t carry the prestige it once did but I’d love it, love it, to see my team do it. Just once would be enough. When I kicked a tennis ball in the garden against the side of the garage as a kid I dreamt of scoring the winning cup final goal. All normal kids did. I couldn’t think of anything better in life; to such a degree I even imagined dying the next morning and the club erecting a statue outside the ground in my honour. Bit of an extreme fantasy for a child and one which became a greater dilemma once I became more interested in music and agonised over whether I’d prefer a number one single instead. In the increasingly unlucky event I achieve either of these (previously considered) monumental achievements it's doubtful many will even notice. 

Back in 1967 (before I was born) when QPR won the League Cup – to date their only major honour - cups were still a big deal. As a third division side Rangers beat first division West Bromwich Albion 3-2 after being two-down at half time in front of 98,000 people at Wembley Stadium. How’s that for a fairy tale?

I’d wager the two young fans on the cover of the 9th September 1967 issue of Football League Review were there. It’s an evocative snapshot - by Peter Robinson - from a bygone era. The fan on the left appears to have stuck a number 8 on the back of their mum’s stripy dress, pinched the waist in with a length of rope, and decorated a hat pinched from the local butcher. The fan on the right sports a variation on a traditional bobble hat, painted one of their dad’s old work shirts, and has scrawled the names of the team on back in felt-tip: Springett, Hazell, Larazus, Keen, Morgan, Marsh etc. Back then one knew the team, it was always the same. There weren't massive squads or players with a number 42 on their shirt who saw 20 minutes of playing time. Even as late as 1981 when Aston Villa won the first division they only used 14 players all season. Players didn’t get injured despite being allowed to kick seven shades of shit out of each other. The metatarsal, thankfully, had yet to be invented. 

Football League Review started life in 1965 as Soccer Review, changed its name the following year until 1972, and spent its last three years as League Football. Flicking through the 20 pages in this issue (50p from Walthamstow Wood Street Indoor Market last weekend) it’s interesting to see how things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same. I can’t remember the last bout of violence I witnessed in a ground but in 1967: “The Football League and its clubs are concerned to root out hooligans, to see they receive punishment that fits their crime. But they are also aware that the vast majority of spectators are immaculately behaved and are equally concerned to clear out the louts”, reads Harry Brown’s typically pompous editorial.

One of the causes of trouble identified in a separate column was “the factions who flaunt flags and banners simply to annoy or enrage rival supporters. They incite passion, and passion starts brawls, I have seen many a flare-up on the terraces ignited in this way. So have you”. Of course nowadays, as anyone who has had the misfortune to step inside Stamford Bridge knows, clubs – well, Chelsea – create huge plastic banners with slogans like “JT CAPTAIN, LEADER, LEGEND”, in support of their odious lump, guaranteed  - with just those few words - to boil the blood of opposing supporters. So, it does work, passions can be incited by a banner, even inside a soulless corporate shitbox.  

The gamesmanship of footballers was also under scrutiny in 1967 with complaints of “childish and petulant behaviour of many players”. Arguing with referees’ decisions, flashes of ill-temper, gesturing, kicking the ball away and time wasting are all highlighted as detracting from the spectators' enjoyment. “What would happen if a club decided to cut out all this malarkey, and play the game in a proper gentlemanly spirit?” asked Mr. Frank Hales from Oxford. I dunno Frank but just you wait until 2014.

Increased footballers’ wages were already an issue of concern and how “pound notes on the eyeballs blunt enthusiasm for leather footballs”. Manchester United's manager, Mr. Matt Busby, did not agree, claiming star salaries were the making of the modern footballer. “He is a smart, sophisticated man about town… soccer is really a profession with a future now”.

Amongst the consternation and brow-beating, light relief was provided with a little something for the ladies who each week got to vote for their most attractive footballer. This particular week, Georgie Best had to concede top spot to Sunderland’s Jim Baxter. Glaswegian “Slim Jim” wouldn’t have been my idea of a dreamboat but he did have a cool modish haircut and was something of a character, famous for drinking himself unconscious on Friday night and then turning in a great performance come three o’clock on Saturday. Hardly the epitome of smart sophistication but impressive nonetheless and guess who now has a statue in their home town? Yes, Jim Baxter.

Right then, who's for a game of three-and-in? Bring some jumpers for goalposts. Bagsy Charlie Austin.
Slim Jim Baxter, Sunderland & Scotland

Friday, 24 January 2014


Last March I wrote about the launch of litzine PUSH, edited by West Ham United sufferer Joe England. Since then the issues have appeared quicker than Andy Carroll at the bar and vanished faster than Rio Ferdinand at a drugs test. Produced as strictly limited editions they’ve sold up almost immediately via England hawking them outside the Boleyn and to an eager mob of postal purchasers. There are no back copies to be found of a now collectable series.

Issue nine is out now with an increased print run, so if you look lively there may yet be time to bag a copy. And you should, it’s very good. A stable line-up of regular contributors – including England, Joseph Ridgwell, Michael Keenaghan and Carlton Burns – lay the foundations with a blend of literary tough tackling and deft poetic touches. They’re supplemented this time by a couple of familiar renegades and mavericks: Dan Fante and Adelle Stripe. A natter with Primal Scream biographer, Sham 69 narrator and street-smart factotum, Grant Fleming, provides accompaniment to the half-time pint.

Sixty pages bristling with sex, drugs and punk rock ‘n’ roll. And Trevor Brooking. Sign up here. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


The second Jukebox 7”s night at the Elixir Bar in NW1 last Friday was good fun, not least for Long John McNally, Miles Macleod, Elliott Marmaduke Jones and myself who got to play a pile of our favourite records, drink ourselves into a stupor, and listen to a geezer with tattooed hands tell us about his mate Eric Burdon and going to see The Animals at The Downbeat Club in Newcastle. 

As before, the idea was to not be too obscure but play a mix of stuff to create what one might hear on a particularly well stocked jukebox. I think we achieved that. My contribution is listed below. Have very little recollection of that final set bar The Smiths and Glen Campbell so this list is as much for my benefit as yours.

Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself
James Brown – Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs
The Flying Burrito Brothers – Older Guys
The Byrds – Mr Spaceman
The Stairs – Weed Bus
Five Thirty – Abstain!
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – Born To Lose
Buzzcocks – Promises
Birdland – Hollow Heart
Bob Dylan – From A Buick 6

T.Rex – Born To Boogie
New York Dolls – Jet Boy
The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Spellbound
Adam & The Ants – Xerox
13th Floor Elevators – You’re Gonna Miss Me
Outsiders – Touch
Mouse & The Traps – Beg Borrow and Steal
Leroy Van Dyke – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
The Boo Radleys – Wish I Was Skinny
Manfred Mann – If You Gotta Go, Go Now
The Who – Doctor, Doctor

The Choir – It’s Cold Outside
The Smiths – Handsome Devil
The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard
The Jam – Heatwave
The Byrds – Feel A Whole Lot Better
Shrag – Rabbit Kids
The Vapors – Turning Japanese
Suede – Metal Mickey
Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
The Housemartins – Sheep
Manic Street Preachers – Show Me The Wonder
The Redskins – Turnin’ Loose (The Furious Flames)
The Impressions – This Is My Country
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
The Action – Since I Lost My Baby
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tears Of A Clown
Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman

Sunday, 19 January 2014


Not much to report from me this week so venture over to the most outrageously comprehensive guide to The Avengers you’ll ever see.

Mrs. Peel We’re Needed! provides a synopsis for all 187 episodes (including The New Avengers) but it’s some of the other details that make this site so impressive. All the cast and crew are searchable, there’s an Avengers calendar, a guide to the main characters' clothes, a catalogue of every vehicle featured (two Vespas, no Lambrettas), a body count, even what the characters had to drink.

The collection of programme stills number into the thousands (2080 from the Emma Peel episodes alone) plus in series five (the colour Diana Rigg ones, i.e. the best ones) all the cute “Mrs Peel We’re Needed” scenes that began the show are uploaded to view; as are the jokey end sequences.

Loads of other things to pass the time including a fun Avengers drinking game. Take a sip of Bollinger Maison Special Cuvee Brut "Every time Emma is coquettish". I'll drink to that.

Thanks to Number 6 over on the Modculture forum for flagging this up.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Here's a collection of music magazines featuring the mighty mighty Curtis Mayfield as cover star. If you know others I'd love to add them. Please get in touch and we'll see how many we can find.
Cash Box (1971)
Blues & Soul (1972)
Jet (1973)
Black Music (1974)

Blues & Soul (1974)
Blues & Soul (1975)
Jet (1976)

Melody Maker (1979)
New Musical Express (1983)
Blues & Soul (1994)
Goldmine (1997)

Mojo (2002)
Wax Poetics (2009)
N'digo (2013)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


The current Pop Art Design exhibition at the Barbican has a familiar feel about it with many examples seen in London galleries in recent years: from Roy Lichtenstein’s comic strips; Ed Ruscha’s block text graphics; William Klein’s dazzling film montages; Harry Gordon’s paper poster dresses; Martin Sharp’s psychedelic posters; Richard Hamilton’s collages; Andy Warhol’s flowers; Peter Blake’s Beatles; Pauline Boty’s female icons and so forth. But Pop Art by its very nature is familiar with its appropriation of everyday items, branding, advertising and cultural figures.

Pop Art Design looks at how design – furniture, clothes, architecture, etc. - and Pop-Art are entwined and inform each other. Andy Warhol’s Close Cover Before Striking (1962), a large acrylic on canvas piece depicting a matchbook adorned with Coca-Cola advertising, is placed above a 1960’s Coca-Cola dispenser; both equally bold designs and beautiful works of art. Pop Art might say something about consumerism and capitalism but to me it simply looks bright, vibrant, fun and reflects a world I can relate to. That’ll do.  

Yet what caught the eye, time and time again, was the work of Alexander Girard, a name I wasn’t aware of. Each time Mrs Monkey and I spotted something interesting and “new” it inevitably had his name on the caption. Magazine covers, lettering on cushions, curtain fabrics, household items, even a whole restaurant, there was the Girard name. As an architect, interior designer and furniture designer “Sandro” was commissioned in 1960 to design every part of La Fonda Del Sol Restaurant in New York, from the kitchen to the servery counter to the tables to the crockery to the menus and to packets of sugar. It looked an incredible place with his cheerful collection of 80 different sun motifs as an ever changing logo. And no, of course it’s not still there, I’ve checked. Not the real one anyway.

Well worth a mooch around with plenty of inspiration to be found among over 200 pieces by 70 artists. The walls of Monkey Mansions have looked starkly white and colourless ever since.

Pop Art Design is at the Barbican Centre, London until 9 February 2014, admission £12. 
For more on La Fonda Del Sol see Burning Settlers Cabin blog.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


When James Brown appeared on the David Frost Show in 30 March 1970 he was rather obviously courting the white vote as he schmaltzed (JB style) through covers of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, “What Kind Of Fool Am I?”, “Georgia On My Mind” and a duet with Vicki Anderson on “Let It Be Me”. His current album Soul On Top followed a similar theme with jazz standards, middle of the road numbers and even a Hank Williams tune. Three weeks after recording the Frost Show, James was in the studio, back on the good foot, recording “Sex Machine”.

By his own admission Brown was now 25% artist and 75% businessman and although he looked after Soul Brother Number 1 first, he gives a good account of himself to Frost, touching on how his radio stations help communities and how - exasperated by those getting fat of the land whilst poor people suffer – he was issuing James Brown Food Stamps to the poor in the cities he played. It’s entertaining to watch Frost struggle to communicate with Brown but JB’s message of “If everybody gets their shoulders together and push, we can accomplish something here, so let’s do it” is loud and proud.

Friday, 3 January 2014


The second dime drops into Jukebox 7”s on Friday 17th January at the Elixir Bar, up the road from Euston station.

I’ll again be joining genial host Long John and Miles Macleod to offer a wilfully eclectic mix of surprises - regardless of genre or era - from big hits to far away misses.  

All the DJs have immaculate and sometimes wonderfully contrary taste (even if I do say so myself) and promise to plunder their 45s to soundtrack your Friday night shenanigans like the best pub jukebox in town. A place where the Staple Singers, Sly & The Family Stone, Suede and Shrag can coexist in harmony. Think of a club night equivalent to this very blog and you’ll get the gist.

Jukebox 7”s at the Elixir Bar, 162 Eversholt Street, London, NW1. 8pm-2am. Five pounds.