Sunday, 29 November 2009


Well that was a bit disappointing wasn’t it? I guess some bands are better on record and some bands are better on stage. Not much debate about where TPOBPAH sit after their fleeting, largely lacklustre appearance yesterday. I shall wipe it from my memory (not difficult) and get back to playing what still is the album of the year. Ho hum.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


What has Paul Weller been putting in his tea? Whatever it is give him some more please.

After all those years of flat, conservative, dullard, unimaginative fodder he chanced his arm with 22 Dreams and it’s paid handsome dividends in freeing the creative juices. Helped along by Kevin Shields, here’s the shockingly spooky first single from the next LP. Love it.

Friday, 27 November 2009


Who’s on Spotify? I wasn’t too excited at first as it simply looked another music streaming site. You can’t download but providing you can live with being forced to hear an advert every few songs, there’s about as much (or more) than HMV on Oxford Street at your fingertips, and it’s free.

One benefit though is the ability for users to create playlists and share the link with other Spotify users. So here, for those of you signed up, I proudly present Ramshackle Road To Rock ‘n’ Roll Ruin. Enjoy.

Click here

Thursday, 26 November 2009


I’ve been a tinsy touch hard on Hastings, but it must be said that among the hunchbacked Diamond White supping flotsam of this backward seaside town, there are a small number of warm, kind hearted, and generous citizens. I mean, only last time I was there, I wandered straight to the sea, leaned over the railings outside my hotel and was greeted with the unforgettable offer from two carloads of young folk. “Oi! Dirtyman! Suck my Dad’s cock!” I respectfully declined but it was a touching moment.

I might call their bluff next week. Or bring my Dad along to return the favour.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


What’s been hitting the decks in Monkey Mansions this month?

1. The Righteous Brothers – “Little Latin Lupe Lu” (1965)
Forget “Unchained Melody”, this is precisely two minutes of furious frugging that neither Simon Cowell or that slobbered face fuckwit Louis Walsh would ever dream of giving to one of their lobotomized freaks.

2. David John and the Mood – “Bring It To Jerome” (1965)
All the beat bands of the mid-60’s snuck this Bo Diddley song in their set but none quite as snottily as David John and the Mood. Joe Meek helped the recording by using the sound of a bog chain in a biscuit tin. Honest.

3. Eddie and Ernie – “Indication” (1966)
Credited to a mysterious Eddie and Ernie but only one (don’t know which) can be heard here. Whoever it is pleads with their aching soul for an indication their love will come back. Don’t reckon it worked but I’m appreciating their efforts.

4. Albert Ayler – Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe LP (1969)
I can live with any amount of free-form honking jazz baloney. I can even deal with the sound of bagpipes being trampled underfoot by herds of wildebeest marauding majestically across the hillside. But when Al’s old lady starts shrieking happy clappy hippy bullshit over the top, it’s torture like you’ve never heard.

5. Five Thirty – “Psycho Cupid” (1991)
It can be no coincidence that Five Thirty’s premature demise coincided with Paul Bassett’s discovery of the dubious joys of the purple velour catsuit. Thankfully, before disappearing up their arses they left behind a treasure throve of goodies including this modishly punky gem.

6. Pete Molinari – “Indescribably Blue” (2006)
Funny how you can go off people. Molinari’s recent sickly covers EP had me gagging so hard on my own cheesy puke I never managed to get to the end of it. We’ll call it an indulgent blip because listening again to the infinitely more heartstring tugging folk of “Indescribably Blue” I can feel myself softening.

7. Black Crowes – “I Ain’t Hiding” (2009)
Who’s been tampering with the Crowes’ time machine? Stuck on 1973 for 20 years, some mischievous scamp has punched in 1978 forcing them to spend six minutes boogying in a glitzy New York disco.

8. Girls – “Lust For Life” (2009)
Not the Iggy song, and not girls either, but a reassuringly cheapo plug-in-and-go pop combo. The first half of their Album is a joy.

9. Brett Anderson – Slow Attack LP (2009)
There’s a song playing on the radio” sang the arse slapping one during those halcyon Suede days yet there’s little danger of anything from Slow Attack filling the airwaves on the morning show. You’re more likely to hear it at Jemima’s dinner party as she serves up a Dome of Nougatine filled with Creme Brulee with lightly poached apricots.

10. Bob Dylan – “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” (2009)
I swear this is the funniest and greatest Christmas record ever recorded. I bet you can’t even listen to the first five words without pissing yourself. Mr Dylan – you remain an utter genius. I salute you.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Take a look at this footage of the Manic Street Preachers from late 1991/early 1992. If we ignore Sean's ludicrously unsuitable winter jacket, the rest is about as perfect as any band could ever be.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I never associate the word “diva” as being a good thing – too many negative connotations - yet someone in their wisdom decided to call last week’s shebang in W6 a “Divas of Motown” night. On my calendar I wrote “Motown Revue” instead. Sounds far more credible.

The set-up was Jack Ashford’s Funk Brothers would play and various guests would come out and do a turn. Like a revue in fact. Ashford is the only original Funk Brother still alive and claims to have appeared on 92 number one singles. I don’t know how he calculated that figure but suffice to say he played on hundreds of Motown releases, shaking his tambourine and plinky plonking his vibes like a good un. From the moment he walked out, tambourine in hand, and said “How you doing?” in his Philadelphian burr, he was coolness personified. He compeered the evening and told a few stories. I doubt he had much to do with putting the band together, but whoever did, did a sterling job. They sounded like a Motown band should. Smokey Robinson take note.

After a run through of “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”, first out was Mable John who signed for Berry Gordy a full fifty years ago. You want pedigree? Recorded for Motown, recorded for Stax, and was a Raelette. Now pushing 80, five foot nothing, Ronald McDonald wig hat on her head, she was a revelation. She didn’t cover herself in glory during her last London visit but here she was totally captivating and held the audience in her tiny palm. Fruity as hell and her bluesy voice showed little sign of age. With the band totally in sync she did “Able Mable”, “Who Wouldn’t Love A Man Like That”, “Running Out” and “Same Time, Same Place”. Only one Motown release (and three Stax) but what the heck. She wasn’t great in a patronising pat-on-the-head-for-the-mad-old-bird way; she was simply great and thoroughly earned her standing ovation. I was thinking then I could’ve gone home happy. Maybe I should have.

Next, the one I wanted to see, my favourite Motown lady, Brenda Holloway. A difficult one this. She was okay and her voice was fine but she was too offputtingly showbiz. After John’s no bullshit presence and attitude, Holloway didn’t come across as sincere (which is probably doing her a disservice) and her dramatic over-egging the pudding was too distracting. With only a five song set it was disappointing to start with something I can only presume was a 70’s (at earliest) track. Then came “When I’m Gone”, “Every Little Bit Hurts”, “Operator” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”. I’m being harsh because if anything she was actually trying too hard when she would have been better off just letting her singing do the work. It’s hard to criticize someone for that and I’d definitely go and see her again if she did a full gig.

Chris Clark’s limitations as a singer were exposed next but her self-deprecating manner (“who’d have thought I’d be the poster child for the 90 year old white woman on the comeback trail?”) was undoubtedly the right card to play. She croaked through “Love’s Gone Bad”, “Do Right Baby Do Right”, “I Want To Go Back There Again” and the Motown song most guaranteed to make my eyes roll round the back of head, “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)”.

After a break the Funk Brothers played “What’s Going On”, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Heatwave” before “The Supremes”. In truth, they were more accurately introduced as “Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence formerly of the Supremes” (like Bruce and Rick “From The Jam”). Anyway, there were three of them and whereas the evening had previously had an air of Motown Connoisseurs about it, all that changed as the assembled office slags who didn’t know what they were watching or listening to screeched with delight at the Friday night karaoke laid on for them. You could find better singers down the Dog and Duck come closing time than these three howling munters. They murdered four or five Diana Ross-era hits (I was knocking back the Red Stripe to dull the pain so can’t remember which ones) before I bolted for the door and legged it to the tube and the sanctuary of my iPod. I didn’t bother staying for Thelma Houston.

Sunday, 15 November 2009



there’s a place
in haworth
called the golliwog shop
(that’s not its real name)
i don’t suppose any black people
go in there

it sells two tone records,
swastika armbands
and every size of golliwog a man could ever need

they hang on the counter from
a rack by the till
on thick silver chains
a nice ‘kids-size’ keyring,
like long forgotten strange fruit
from a bygone age
before all this ‘nonsense’
from the p.c brigade

they make me uncomfortable,
these faces I collected
from robertson’s jam in the nineteen seventies
the playing cards, the children’s badges
thankfully banished
to the boxes in the attic

when i look at the golliwogs
hung in the shop
i think of alf garnett, the national front
pissed gorilla men at lower league matches
waving blow up bananas at all the black players
and i wonder if here, in heathcliff’s manor
if i’m the only minority
in the crowd of white faces
who doesn’t agree with this new
‘retro trend’

i leave the shop
wanting to return with a brick for its window
but coming up here
with my ‘london ways’
I scuttle off, red faced
into the wind
wishing i was a braver woman
wishing i could be confrontational,
and throw a hard punch at the golliwog man
but instead, like the coward that i really am
i walk to my car, switch on the radio
and swear at the windscreen
vowing never
to return
here again.

“Relics” is taken from Adelle’s new limited edition signed and numbered chapbook Cigarettes in Bed, published by Blackheath Books and available for a mere £5 alongside other vibrant underground writing at

My thanks to Adelle and to Geraint at Blackheath for their permission to include here.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


The next Pork and Beans is nearly upon us, so if you fancy starting the weekend with a box full of records containing monkey references and harmonica blowing, get yourself along. It’s free. And good. I’ll be the one drinking Bailey’s from a shoe.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Guess what? He didn’t find him.

Jovanovic only found a copy of Simon Price’s Manics biography Everything; a pile of yellowing music papers; some YouTube clips, and bundled them together to play amateur sleuth, padding out his weak book with a host of already proven false leads, pointless speculation, and irrelevant filler like what’s scribbled on a shopping list in his copy of Junkie.

With Edwards’ family and friends wisely unwilling to talk and rake over the same painful ground, there is scant new material. Whereas Price’s deep understanding of his subject inspired an intelligent and articulate portrayal, Jovanovic's approach is more akin to a Sunday newspaper hack chasing a lead, sniffing for scandal and outrage. If he can’t find any, he’ll simply throw in some groundless theories. With no actual body ever found you can’t prove Richey is dead, something Jovanovic frequently plays on: he could be in a monastery; he could be abroad; somebody close may have helped him disappear. Maybe he’s in the house next door like the “Canoe Man”.

As a subject for a biography Edwards is perfect material yet Rob Jovanovic isn’t up to the job. Come in Simon Price, come in Jon Savage, your time has come.

A Version of Reason is published by Orion Books, priced £18.99

Monday, 9 November 2009


Press release:

“NO:ID Gallery hosts this debut solo show for 2009 Photography graduate Jayne Taylor, in association with Photomonth 2009. Interiors is a series of striking portraits captured in stereoscopic 3D.

Jayne Taylor is a visual artist with a special interest in ‘obsolete’ photographic techniques. In her ongoing series Interiors, she revives a spectacular 3D technique last popular in 1950’s America. Her ‘found’ subjects – real people in their own homes – are equally idiosyncratic (and nostalgic). Each has been carefully chosen for their intense affinity with classic 20th century imagery, and their apparent eschewment of current mainstream trends in favour of more lasting and colourful 'vintage' alternatives.

Viewable by only one person at a time (through binocular-like viewers) in exhibition, each little diorama reminds us how magically transporting photography can be when given our full attention. Transgressing time and space, they offer the viewer a brief, personal flight from immediate surroundings to the borderland between vision and imagination.

The portraits themselves are refreshingly playful and have a subtly 'staged' air that heightens the paper-theatre effect of the stereo format. The scenes hover somewhere between image and reality in a way reminiscent of 19th century tableaux vivants (which, in the age of Flickr, is strangely enticing).”

My two penn’orth:

I saw these portraits earlier in the year and not only do they look amazing in 3D, they also demonstrate that amongst all the homogenised grockles there are still people with enough independent savvy to go against the grain; and I’m not just saying that because the above picture features a typical afternoon for Mrs Monkey and her sister at Monkey Mansions. Funny how I’m always the one making the tea when photographers call. Can’t think why.

Interiors by Jayne Taylor is at NO:ID Gallery, 31 Commercial Road, Whitechapel, E1. Friday 13th-Sunday 15th November 2009, 1pm-6pm. Admission free.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

86'd by DAN FANTE

Like most of John Fante’s current readers I discovered him via Charles Bukowski. Buk claimed him as his God, and that’s enough endorsement for anyone. Books like Ask The Dust and The Road To Los Angeles made aspiring writer Arturo Bandini an unforgettable creation: a self-absorbed romantic dreamer thoroughly convinced of his own genius.

Back in 2002 I saw Fante’s son, Dan, give a talk. He spoke about his father, Bukowski, and his own writing. I wasn’t much interested in his own writing until he read the opening pages from Mooch and was converted on the spot. It felt like the passing of the baton. We shared a few words and he wrote in my copy of Mooch “For Mark, I hope you like my new book – It drove out many old demons for me. Best, Dan Fante”. Many old demons, I’m sure, but a stack of novels, plays, poems and short stories later, Fante is still wrestling those demons and fending them off the way he knows best - the only way - with the written word.

86’d follows familiar ground as Fante’s alter-ego Bruno Dante woozes through the streets of LA struggling to keep a limo driving job and the booze at bay. Not a great combination. No sooner he climbs aboard one side of the wagon, than he spectacularly stumbles off the other. But through all his failures, blackouts, mental girlfriends, AA meetings and dumb moves, you’ve got to admire his pig headedness and dogged spirit even through the skuzziest of lows. “My life wasn’t a total shit sandwich”, he says. And it is dead pan lines like that, that make reading Fante such a treat. Also, no one throws abuse with such casual ease. As the pages get darker, and the voices in his head get louder, his fuse gets shorter. From shooting vitriolic insults from the hip, to indignant rage, to psychotic fury, the angrier he becomes the more incisive and funnier the writing.

Much of the story and characters are predictable but that’s hardly the point. 86’d contains a couple of Fante’s most memorable passages, which I won’t spoil here, and overall this may well be his best novel.

86’d by Dan Fante is published by Harper Perennial, priced $13.99.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


When the BFI/Flipside rescued their latest three British films from cinematic obscurity and gave them a deluxe DVD release, the one that initially looked the most unappealing turned out a real treasure. That was Gerry O’Hara’s 1969 All The Right Noises.

It looked iffy due to the storyline of a 32 year old married man, Len (played by Tom Bell), having an affair with a 15 year old temptress, Val (Olivia Hussey – yes, I know what you’re thinking but I’m not saying it). I expected a heavy handed, sensationalistic shocker, when in fact it’s a thoughtful, well scripted, subtle and engaging drama with convincing performances from Bell and especially Hussey who is brilliantly cast.

When Len and Val meet and start getting fresh, Len is unaware of Val’s age but when he discovers her in her school uniform he protests for, oooh, seconds. And seconds is what he has. He is coldly untroubled by his deceit and brazenness, even getting Val to stay at his flat whilst his wife is away. When we see his missus on her way home early, the tension is so gripping you question why you even care if the dirty dog gets caught or not. Why’s that? I wasn’t counting on getting so involved. Val may have been skipping her homework but director and screenwriter Gerry O’Hara had obviously done his.

1960’s scenes showing smoking on the tube, Leicester Square station, Uxbridge station, Brighton beach, and the River Thames would usually be enough of a recommendation in itself but these are only added bonuses to a film already rich with layers and detail. Shame about Melanie caterwauling on the soundtrack but you can’t have everything.

The other two are Man of Violence (aka Moon) and Herostratus. Man of Violence is a 1970 gangster flick with little to redeem it beyond busty birds whipping off their bras and waddling around in big saggy knickers. I couldn’t follow the plot; the leading man had all the charisma and presence of a tea towel; and at 107 minutes it done me bleedin’ head in. If that weren’t bad enough it comes with a “bonus” film of The Big Switch (1968) which is more of the same except the collars, lapels and sideburns are half an inch narrower.

It’ll be a long time until I can sit through nearly two and half hours of Herostratus (1967) again, but by jingo, what a film. I know jack shit about films or the art of filmmaking but can recognize and appreciate sheer bloody minded passion and dedication when I see it and it pours out of Don Levy’s precise and frequently haunting and surrealistic film. Michael Gothard plays Max, who asks an advertising company to make a spectacle of his suicide, which they agree to with icy detachment, gradually taking more and more control over the one thing Max has left in life. We moan about celebrity culture and media spin nowadays yet this film was started 45 years ago and it was already prevalent then. Gothard’s portrayal of Max is terrifying, no more so than in the early scene where he manically smashes his flat to pieces with an axe. I’m thinking “oh, be careful, you’ll hurt yourself”. The film is spliced with all manner of hellish news footage, bizarre images, strippers, slaughtered cows and Francis Baconesque stills. An extraordinary film. That Don Levy committed suicide in 1987, followed by Michael Gothard in 1992, is no surprise.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


The new season rolls in, and a new Beat Scene rolls off the press. This one is a bit special as it devotes every one of its 64 (advert free) pages to Jack Kerouac.

New articles on Jack’s hometown of Lowell; his brief trip to London; Neal Cassady’s first letter to Jack; an interview with girlfriend, and author of The Awakener, Helen Weaver; reprinted letters to and from John Clellon Holmes and Gary Snyder; a rejection letter for On The Road; reviews of new books and films; and much, much more.

There’s no magazine like it. It deserves your support. Subscribe at

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Until I get my mojo working, here's one of my favourite records this year.