Okay my little chickadees, a sample of what’s been rocking Monkey Mansions this month.
1. Plas Johnson – “Downstairs” (1959)
Tenor man Johnson is all over hundreds of R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll recordings, including hits by the Coasters, BB King, Larry Williams, Young Jessie, Duane Eddy, Johnny Otis, Gene Vincent, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye and more, but most famously it’s him playing the lead on “The Pink Panther Theme” in 1963. “Downstairs” is super cool and hard hitting; like the soundtrack to a detective series set in smoky basement strip clubs.
2. Lou Rawls – “The House Next Door” (1964)
With the greatest respect to Long John Baldry, when I heard him do this my immediate thought was I bet there’s a great original version somewhere. And here it is; almost as recognisable as Lou’s voice is H.B. Barnum’s kitchen-sink orchestral arrangement.
3. Fenwyck – “Mindrocker” (1967)
Much like The Factory’s “Path Through The Forest” when I first heard this slightly trippy folk-rock jangler in the early 90s I thought - thanks to the Stone Roses influence still hanging in the air - it was a new record.
4. Bob Thiele and Gabor Szabo – “Eight Miles High” (1967)
Wowsers, this is so flipping groovy I’m in half a mind to remove my clothes, paint my body and go skipping down Walthamstow High Street handing out flowers. And that’s before I’ve digested my body weight in industrial strength LSD. Psychedelic big band jazz score with massive Eastern knobs on. Bob and Gabor should’ve retitled it “Eighty Miles High”.
5. Grant Green – “Hurt So Bad” (1969)
Smooth yet funky jazz rendition of the old Little Anthony and the Imperials hit from Green’s splendid Blue Note LP, Carryin’ On.
6. The Saints – “(I’m) Stranded” (1976)
The Damned claim they fell about laughing when they heard the first Sex Pistols single, saying it was so slow, an accusation they couldn’t have held against Australian band The Saints with their debut 45. It gives “New Rose” a run – make that sprint - for its money and beat it to release by a month.
7. Pigbag – “Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag” (1981)
On Saturday, for the first time in my life and only the second time in their history, Queen’s Park Rangers won a final at Wembley. I can’t think of a more dramatic way to win any game than to do it with ten men and for a substitute to score with ten seconds of the 90 minutes left. To do it in the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final, to secure promotion to the Premier League, in front of nearly 40 thousand QPR fans, at Wembley, was truly unbelievable. Usually after a QPR goal the fans give a quick cheer and then follow with a blast of the Pigbag tune. When Bobby Zamora curled in that shot with his left foot, Pigbag, for once, was forgotten amid total pandemonium and frenzy. I’ve no idea now what I yelled, it wasn’t anything recognisable, simply a bellowing, guttural noise. In 32 years supporting QPR through thick and thin, this was the greatest moment, the pay back, and a memory to treasure forever.
8. Laxton’s Superb – “Coming Round” (1996)
Laxton’s Superb got lost in a sea of Britpop wannabes but they did have one good song in them, this sweeping gem which although now sounds very-TFI Friday retains an ebullient charm.
9. Joanna Gruesome – “Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers” (2013)
Indie like back in the olden days when it was, you know, indie. One for old duffers and young whippersnappers alike.
10. Brian Jonestown Massacre – “Vad Hande Med Dem?” (2014)
The pulsating opening track from the new LP, Revelation. I’ve long given up trying to understand what Anton Newcombe and company are on about (let alone on) so best not try to analysis what they do and just go with it. Not everything works (and they can go on a bit) but when they hit the spot they’re worth persevering with.