Saturday, 30 June 2012


This month’s trawl through the sounds currently rocking Monkey Mansions.

1.  The Ravens – “Rock Me All Night Long” (1952)
Jimmy Ricks’s big bass voice was one of the most instantly recognisable in doo-wop.  When he wanted rocking, he wanted rocking. This track is taken from a splendid new compilation on Bear Family Records, Street Corner Symphonies. The Complete Story of Doo Wop Volume 4: 1952.   

2.  Wanda Jackson – “Tongue Tied” (1961)
It is difficult to choose between Wanda’s rockabilly sides and her country sides but this puts forward a case for the former.

3.  Wes Montgomery – “Besame Mucho” (1963)
For me, what separates jazz guitarists like Wes and Grant Green from their rock counterparts is they understood space and time.  Wes’s crazy flipper fingers do tons of work yet there’s room to breathe between the notes and I can’t imagine him going all squinty eyed and grimacing whist he’s doing it. Featured on his rather good Boss Guitar LP with Mel Rhyne on Hammond and Jimmy Cobb on drums (jazzers like to name the whole band).  Muchos besos para Wes.
4.  Oscar Brown Jr – “Forty Acres and a Mule” (1965)
Brown recalls learning in school that all freed slaves were entitled to forty acres and a mule.  Now he wants his. 

5.  Jackie Mittoo – “Get Up and Get It” (1969)
Mittoo started out playing piano in the Skatalites before becoming musical arranger for Jamaica’s Studio One recordings.  “Get Up and Get It” is firmly in the funky-soul-jazz territory occupied elsewhere at the time by Booker T. & The MGs and The Meters. 

6.  Bond and Brown – “Scunthorpe Crabmeat Train Sideways Boogie Shuffle Stomp” (1972)
Graham Bond made Two Heads Are Better Than One with Pete Brown and is, as this title suggests, a doolally jazz poetry affair.  It would be his last LP and a suitably bonkers one to leave on.

7.  J.P. Robinson – “George Jackson” (1972)
In April’s Playlist I raved about Bob Dylan’s original version but hot on its heels came this soul stirrer.  One of the best Dylan covers I’ve ever heard.

8.  The Who – “The Real Me” (1973)
If you missed Can You See The Real Me? The Making of Quadrophenia on the telly last night you missed a treat.  Far from covering old ground about the record there was rarely seen live footage, new interviews with Townshend and Daltrey, old clips of Entwistle and Moon, Pete revealing notes and letters from his archive, interviews with some of the kids featured in the album booklet, Irish Jack revisiting the Goldhawk Road Social Club and loads more including Mark Kermode helpfully explaining what a double album was.     

9.  Devo – “Jocko Homo” (1977)
“Are we not men? We are Devo.”

10.  Crass – “Poison In A Pretty Pill” (1981)
When Jonny Wilks and I walked home from school we’d either sing Smiths albums from start to finish or repeat the title of Crass’s Penis Envy LP in as many ridiculous voices as possible.  I only heard the record for the first time this week.  Me and Jonny took great delight in serenading Ickenham residents to Morrissey’s “You can pin and mount me like a butterfly”; I’m sure “I want to rape the substance of your downy hair” would’ve gone down just as well.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


The Lovely Eggs were on fab form last night crashing through a set that’s increasingly feeling like a greatest hits package thanks to a strong run of recent singles.  That's greatest hits in my universe based on airplay in Monkey Mansions rather than the hit parade, if there is still such a thing. “Allergies”, “Food” and "Fuck It" are great but there still hasn’t been a better single in the 21st century than “Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)”. Had a little chat with Holly and David after I'd DJed and they were indeed Lovely Eggs. "Why didn't you play at our wedding?" they asked. Funnily enough, and I didn't tell them this, but me and Mrs Monkey thought about asking them to play at ours last year. "People Are Twats" would've gone down a storm. Thanks a lot to promoter Darren at Idle Fret Records for another well organised night; for letting me spin some suitable records alongside Ian from Art Brut; and for nabbing the wonderfully drawn set list.

The Lovely Eggs played (plus an encore of "Panic Plants"):

I played:
The Rolling Stones – Come On (1963)
The Pretty Things – Rosalyn (1964)
The Silver Factory – The Sun Shines Over You (2011)
The Primitives – Rattle My Cage (2011)
Jacco Gardner – Clear The Air (2012)
Bob Dylan – Positively 4th Street (1965)
Pavement – Trigger Cut (1992)
Manic Street Preachers – Motown Junk (1991)
Sissy & The Blisters – We Are The Others (2011)
Sex Pistols – C’mon Everybody (1979)
Johnny Burnette Trio – Lonesome Train (1957)
The Stairs – Weed Bus (1991)
The Seeds – Mr Farmer (1966)
Leroy Van Dyke – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue (1965)
The Who – Dogs (1968)
Mark Markham & His Jesters – Malboro Country (1966)
The Beckett Quintet – No Correspondence (1966)
The Buzzcocks – Love You More (1978)
Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene (1988)
Jilted John – Jilted John (1978)
The Kinks – She’s Got Everything (1968)

Sunday, 24 June 2012


In his foreword to Electrical Banana Paul McCartney comes close to claiming the Beatles invented psychedelic art. He’s a cheeky sod but few would argue the animation of Yellow Submarine is one of the most familiar examples of the genre. That was in fact the work of German illustrator and designer Heinz Edelmann, who notes “even in America it was believed the Beatles had created it themselves”.  He’s not bitter but is dismissive of the concept and clichés of the then emerging style. “I’m allergic to a few things in psychedelia: disembodied eyes and disembodied lips”. 

Edelmann is one of seven exponents of a loosely connected style whose work, along with new interviews, features in a suitably colourful and well produced new book.  Disembodied eyes and lips were the stock in trade for Martin Sharp. His posters for Oz; his album sleeves for Cream; his Roundhouse flyers; even the hallway in the film Performance looked and smiled from all directions.  Dudley Edwards painted furniture; shop interiors and exteriors; Paul McCartney’s piano; as well as cars, including the Buick the Kinks posed with. Marijke Koger was a quarter of the art group The Fool that designed sleeves for The Move, The Incredible String Band, their own record and, most famously, the mural on The Beatles ill-fated Apple shop. Keiichi Tanaami isn’t a name I was familiar with but his sharp pop-art collages are my favourite pages in Electrical Banana. Mati Kalrwein designed Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and had strong yet intricate style. Finally, Tadanori Yokoo is another artist who didn’t see themselves as psychedelic but whose use of colour, collage and garish fantasy fits the bill like a pair of velvet loons.

Electrical Banana: The Masters of Psychedelic Art by Norman Hathaway and Dan Nadel is published by Damiani, priced £27.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Following the recent post mentioning the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, Monkey Snr. has very kindly given me these old flyers.  They are shown in order from July 1965 to September 1966.  It seems incredible now to imagine wandering along the River Thames in Royal Berkshire to catch the likes of Solomon Burke and Bo Diddley.  No need to buy a ticket, just stroll in.  Monkey Snr. saw Graham Bond and Georgie Fame.  I would have gone every week.  Also, I love that some of the flyers were picked up from David’s Record Shop in Slough, which was the same place DJ Martin Fuggles bought his records to play in the club. Thanks Dad.  

Sunday, 17 June 2012


This is the new single by The Wild Eyes. I don't know anything about them and judging by fewer than 300 views on YouTube I'm assuming not many others do either. For a blast of simple shouty garage rock, take a look.  

Thursday, 14 June 2012


UK readers, you are in for a treat; non-UK readers, turn away now unless you can somehow manage to wangle access content on the BBC i-Player.  MonkeyPicks enthusiast Richard Turnham alerted me to a host of old London documentaries on the site, many not seen since first broadcast.  If Richard had his own blog (and he should) he’d be telling you about this himself rather than see me tap the ball in over the line after his mazy dribble from the half way line.    

Three Swings On A Pendulum is a black and white 47 minute documentary investigating whether London really was the Swinging capital of the world.  First broadcast on 8 June 1967, an Australian, a Frenchman and an Afro-American hope to find out as they traipse around chatting to Londoners, visiting strip clubs, Carnaby Street, Mod Male, Portobello Road, I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet (photo above by Philip Townsend), bookshops before checking out a Herbie Goins and the Night Timers gig.  It looks brilliant to me but the trio look down their noses with a frightfully sniffy attitude to everything they encounter.  Mrs Monkey was far from impressed with their squareness.  “It’s the 60s, just enjoy it, you bunch of cunts”, was her considered opinion.  Mrs M should have her blog too.  At least one young man they spoke to shared that opinion although chose to word it differently, “When you’ve got the threat of nuclear war hanging over you, let’s live for the present, damn it”, even an old bloke in his in his mid-70s agreed, “We’ve got to go on haven’t we?  Not go back. There’s new vogue coming in, I’m all for it myself.”  The footage, especially the shops stuff is fantastic and makes such a change from the usual stock footage of that bloke with the frizzy hair and granny glasses.    

In stark contrast is One Pair of Eyes: Who Are The Cockneys Now? which follows singer and actress Georgia Brown in 1968 as she revisits her childhood Whitechapel home and the East End she grew up in, and in particular looks at how the area was changing as the Jewish community were making way for a new immigrant population.  Lionel Bart makes an appearance cruising along in a Rolls Royce and Georgia pops in to catch on her old youth club friend Vidal Sassoon but the three of them look like they now belong to a different world to the majority of the people wandering the dilapidated streets.  It’s interesting that if Georgia turned up there today in her beehive and expensive leather coat no one would bat an eye.  The area is now packed with small independent shops and an air of trendiness making it London’s modern day Carnaby Street but who are the cockneys now?  I doubt many that technically are would even acknowledge the word.    

There are other similar features, if you can work out how to navigate the confusing BBC’s site, under the London Collection heading.  To save too much trauma click on Three Swings on a Pendulum and One Pair of Eyes: Who Are The Cockneys Now?.  Gertcha.  

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


By jingo, am I looking forward to the next Idle Fret night at the Heavenly Social. Regular readers will know how much I dig the off-kilter DIY punk of The Lovely Eggs, so taking along a record box to spin some tunes alongside Ian Catskilkin, guitarist from another of my favourite bands, Art Brut, is dead exciting. Not sure what to play yet but it’ll be suitable for the occasion (covers a multitude of sins that). Also on the bill are King Twit and Sheen who I don’t know but all Idle Fret bills I’ve seen before have been interesting. 

Tickets are only a fiver and available from We Got Tickets, or you could win a pair and one of three signed copies of The Lovely Eggs latest 45 "Food" in a competition by Rough Trade. Get yourself down there. As Tuesday nights go, it’ll take some beating.

Stop Press: Idle Fret have just announced news of a free download EP with a track from each band, including the Eggs's psychedelic muncher, the aforementioned "Food".  Tuck in, Free Eggs.      

Sunday, 10 June 2012


The M word has featured heavily during the last ten days or so, here's a look back.

I can’t recall the last time I saw a club advertised as a mod club and The Sidewinder in Islington doesn't, but that’s what it is.  Tucked away in a fabulous club room within the Wenlock and Essex, Essex Road, N1 on the first Thursday of each month it manages to be a relaxed affair yet still entice people on to the illuminated dancefloor with its soul, jazz and R&B soundtrack.  The highlight for me there this week was chatting to Martin Fuggles, who was the DJ at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor during the mid-60s.  There were a number of Ricky Tick clubs but the Windsor one, in a mansion by the river, is regarded as the main one, and the one replicated in the film Blow Up when The Yardbirds tore it up.  Martin would DJ on two turntables built inside a gold painted piano, a playlist dominated by the Motown, Atlantic and Stax releases he’d purchase each week from a stall in Slough. Martin said he’d been reintroduced to the mod scene a couple of years ago and was now enjoying trying to catch up on what he’d missed and seeing how things had developed in his absence.  He still has all his old records but had lost interest in music once Pink Floyd had come along, saying if that was the future of music he wanted no part of it.  We chatted about what sounds were popular at the time and I asked him about The Impressions, to which he pulled a great OH MY GOD, THE IMPRESSIONS sex face.  This was exactly the reaction I’d hoped for.  He often began his sets with “It’s Alright” and would buy half a dozen extra copies of their records to sell down the Ricky Tick.  He also said that their gig at the Barbican last year was the second best gig he’d ever been to (one behind Buddy Holly and the Crickets).  The group are playing at the Jazz Café in London next month and if at all possible you must go.  To read me becoming all emotional about the Barbican night click here.  Naturally I tried digging for info about The Action but although he knew they’d played the club he couldn’t remember anything in particular about them.  Damn.  Martin certainly considered himself a mod back, complete with scooter, but soon learnt “you needed four wheels if you wanted to pull the better birds”, and carry your records of course.  It was fascinating chatting with him and hopefully he’ll be on at Sidewinder in the future.  His Ricky Tick site has more news and more posters like the one shown above.  The next Sidewinder is on Thursday 5th July.        

The launch party at the Fred Perry shop in Covent Garden for The A-Z of Mod book by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter was a swinging affair with some well-known scene faces in attendance and even Phil Daniels popping by.  Luckily for him by the time I’d had enough to drink to recite chunks of Quadrophenia  – because he would have loved that – he’d disappeared.   It wouldn’t be right to review the book in detail as it was a birthday present for Mrs Monkey by Monkey Snr so try the one in The Guardian and work it out for yourself.  There’s a picture of Mrs Monkey and her sister in the book adopting their usual Kray twins stance - looking like they’d slash your throat with their haircuts if you stood too close. On the off-chance they read this I should add they aren't quite as menacing in real life. 

Also in Mrs M’s birthday haul was The Treasures of The Who by Chris Welch, a hardback, boxed book containing memorabilia inserted into the pages.  There are some great reproductions of Marquee contracts, posters, flyers (cool one from the Goldhawk “Beat” Club where The Who played Good Friday 1965 and The Boys played on Saturday), an early letter to fan from Roger Daltrey and a postcard from Keith Moon.  It sells for twenty five quid but was a lot cheaper in Fopp or a bit cheaper from that on-line retail place.  

On the subject of Keith Moon, keep your eyes open for a summer publication of Full Moon by Dougal Butler.  Original published in 1981 by Moonie’s personal assistant, with Chris Tengrove and Peter Lawrence, it's utterly hilarious in places and terribly sad in others.  I remember tears of laughter streaming down my face when I first read it when published as Moon The Loon.  Find out more at Full Moon The Book.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


The best bands are gangs you wish you were in. I always wanted to be in Spitfire.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


The mod scene’s ability to evolve has ensured different generations have created something of their own, even though for some this has meant straying too far (or not far enough) from its origins. 

Back in the early to mid-1980s it had little interest in adapting or modernising and was primarily concerned with using the account Richard Barnes gave in his Mods! book as a rigid template.  There were firm rules in place and any attempt to bend or break them would see the perpetrator bashed on the head with something heavier than a plastic cup.  Saturday’s Kids, Darren Russell’s new book of photographs, show strict dress codes advertised on hand drawn signs and young men in clubs uniformly dressed in suits and ties; one chap is even highlighted for pushing the boundaries by wearing a subtle check fabric rather than the plain dark one of his contemporaries.  Music also ran along immovable lines, with records in clubs had to have been made by black artists with an original release date no later than 31st December 1966.  Despite this slavish attention to detail, these kids did give clues to the times they were truly living in and, in retrospect, lost vital mod points by sporting white socks, huge spectacles and earrings for men.  I’ll confess to being guilty of two of those.  What were we thinking?  Among Russell’s images are a number of recollections from the era, including my own which I'll repeat here for context:

“For me and my gang of friends the 80s mod scene was driven by bands rather than clubs. We did occasionally go to clubs but as teenage boys we were far more impressed by the sight of a Rickenbacker than a box of records.

I don’t know where the line was drawn under the 1979 mod revivial (which we felt no part of) and where the 1980s mod scene began but The Jam’s last gig in December 1982 seems as neat a place as any.  Come 1983 The Truth arrived and those of us too young to have seen The Jam now had our own band to follow. In fact, the first gig I saw was The Truth’s under-16s show at the Marquee one Saturday afternoon that year.

By ’85 there were bands to see almost weekly: Makin’ Time, The Scene, The Rage, The Direct Hits and, for those of a more adventurous nature, The Prisoners.  Although The Prisoners have now been taken to the mod bosom it wasn’t the case then.  We scarcely a mod in attendance we thought we were particularly daring.

Still being at school, supporting these bands was reliant on pocket money and spending our dinner money on tube tickets from Uxbridge. Saturdays would be spent strolling up and down Carnaby Street because that’s what mods did. Sometimes there’d be aggravation from skinheads or scooter boys but I was never sure how much was myth-making and urban rumours.  It always seemed that if I stayed at home one week tales of smashed shop windows would circulate the school that Monday. 

Everything fizzled out through 1986. The decent bands spilt up and the remaining few played to rapidly dwindling audiences. Our group now had jobs and gradually drifted apart. Soul, jazz and rare groove took centre stage and the record box finally replaced the Rickenbacker. “

The most interesting photographs, for me, are the ones which show this period as it wasn’t well documented at the time despite it being a huge movement (although see Enamel Verguren’s 2004 This Is A Modern Life for a comprehensive account).  I have hardly any photographs of my own as taking a cheap camera was too clunky to carry around on a night out.  Unfortunately, the problem with Saturday’s Kids is the lack of dates for the photographs, which is exasperated by at least half from way beyond the period it supposedly covers, right into the mid-1990s when the clothes, music and attitudes had shifted dramatically.  The scene in 1994 bore little resemblance to that of 1984 so unless you can recognise and date events and people from personal experience the book as a journalistic record is deeply flawed.  If the pictures had been dated it wouldn’t have mattered too much (despite the misleading title) or if they’d been ordered chronologically it would have demonstrated the broadening of the scene’s outlook as it laid the foundations for, and then built upon, the Brit-Pop era.  It does neither, only confuses and misleads.

Dave Edwards’s introduction repeats the oft-used mantra “the first rule of mod – attention to detail”; it’s a real shame the publishers didn’t take heed as most of the fundamentals are here yet spoilt by the equivalent of white socks, huge glasses and hooped earrings.

Saturday’s Kids: The 1980s Mod Revival by Darren Russell is published by Foruli Codex.   

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Two years ago I championed Vic Templar’s debut novel Taking Candy From A Dog so I’m very pleased that after selling out the initial run it now has a second printing.  From a personal point of view it’s an honour to see a quote attributed to me on the back cover of the new edition.  It reads:

“Vic Templar’s Taking Candy From A Dog is the part memoir, part fiction tale of a very ordinary boy, living a very ordinary life in a very ordinary part of Kent, yet it is also one of the most touching and hilarious books you could read about life as a child.  It is warm without being cloying and funny without being too knowing.  It is a tale of picnics, wasps, summer that lasts forever, Wimbledon, Fred Perry, the Buzzcocks, Gillingham FC and family life in the 1970s.”

I stand by those words, even if they’re not mine.  Which they’re not, they belong to writer Iain Aitch.  I only noticed today when reading back my own review.  Iain’s quote on the cover is actually mine and for which Iain is now going to have to live with and try to explain away.  He’s a proper writer for daily newspapers, has published books (We’re British, Innit) and has been on the telly and stuff.  I hope his career doesn’t suffer being associated with:

“Written through the eyes of a frequently bemused and incredulous child/teenager, with the chapters interspersed by the savvy interruptions of a sock monkey, it sounds twee, cheesy and to be avoided but it’s far from it – Taking Candy From A Dog is one of the funniest books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  Wonderfully told with keen detail and dry wit, some of the dialogue had tears of laughter streaming down my face.”

As you can see they come from a similar place and for once you have someone corroborating my opinion.  So, read my original review here, get on to Blackheath Books for a copy, make it sell out, make Vic happy, and for the third printing Iain and I can have our own words back.  Everyone's a winner.