Thursday, 29 September 2016


1.  Sandie Shaw – ‘Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself’ (1965)
Adam Faith did an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink version of this Chris Andrews song but Sandie’s is stripped back (although still elegantly arranged) allowing her vocal to confidently command centre stage.

2.  The Boots – ‘Alexander’ (1966)
These German loons go go-go crazy on this organ and horn freak out.

3.  Gil Bateman – ‘Wicked Love’ (1966)
Gil’s groovy garage grind. The fourth of his five singles.

4.  Shirley Scott & the Soul Saxes – ‘You’ (1969)
Ms Scott cranked up her organ and was joined by three gentlemen – King Curtis, Hank Crawford and David ‘Fathead’ Newman – blowing their things for an album on Atlantic of soul/pop material. It’s all uptight and outta sight as you might imagine but this Marvin Gaye number is dancefloor dynamite.

5.  Joe Chambers – ‘The Alomoravid’ (1974)
From a super new Ace/BGP compilation Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970 to 1974. Chambers made his name at Blue Note during the mid-60s but had to wait until ’74 to cut an album as leader. ‘The Alomoravid’ was the title track with him up front leading, what sounds like, a small army of percussionists including David Friedman on marimba.

6.  Weldon Irvine – ‘Gospel Feeling’ (1976)
Funky, churchy jazz with more than a hint of The Generation Game. Maybe there’s a new genre for enterprising reissue labels to market: Gameshow Jazz. Didn’t they do well?

7.  Roky Erickson – ‘Crazy Crazy Mama’ (1986)
Head down, no nonsense, rockaboogie with Roky in tremendous voice. From the Don’t Slander Me LP.

8.  Teenage Fanclub – ‘The Darkest Part Of The Night’ (2016)
It was a good month to be a non-teenage Teenage Fanclub fan. A love-in at the Islington Assembly Hall and a brand spanking new album, Here. ‘The Darkest Part Of The Night’ one of the many highlights from both.

9.  The Embrooks – ‘Nightmare’/’Helen’ (2016)
Despite a couple of weeks of deliberation and repeated plays I still can’t quite decide which of these two songs I like best. Luckily for us the reconvened Embrooks have put them either side of their new 7-inch waxing. The sawing, chugging freakbeat of ‘Nightmare’ sends sparks flying and buildings tumbling while the springy pop-psych ‘Helen’ do-do-doos in joy like the climax of a Euro-Mod weekender. Were the Embrooks this good the first time around?

10.  The Missing Souls – ‘Sweet, Sweet Sadie’ (2016)
Don’t know anything about these cavemen other than, like the Embrooks, this is also on State Records and they can only give us everything: lead riff fuzzed to eleven; organ swirling in its own stroppy stew; lyrics rhyming Sadie, maybe, crazy, lady; hey-hey-hey backing vocals; chomping break; and all wrapped up in two minutes. Exhilarating and a garage-punk masterclass to boot.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


The intensity which defines Carlisle space-cadets The Lucid Dream remains but they continue to expand their boundaries on their third album, Compulsion Songs.

Although broadly ‘psychedelic’ they’re far from clichéd and one-dimensional; keen to poke, prod and pulsate the body as well as the mind. Magnificent opener ‘Bad Texan’ has a baggy - almost acid house – influence, reminiscent of when guitar bands suddenly claimed there’d always been a dance element to their music. It soars, then swoops, exploding with multi-specks of light and glitter. A hypnotized field of ravers lost in its bass propelled groove and metronomic yet aggressive beat.

The tension between heavy-limbed dub, shooting reverb and melodeon on the eight minutes of ‘I’m A Star In My Own Right’ recalls Primal Scream’s finest hour, Vanishing Point, while the Stone Roses would do well to adopt ‘Stormy Waters’ now.

Their stock-in-trade are lengthy excursions. The 20-minute Krautrock finale ‘Nadir’/’Epitaph’ might not be for the faint hearted yet is thrilling nonetheless but they can cut to the chase too. ‘The Emptiest Place’ is a galloping spaghetti western nightmare and on the burning urgency of ‘21st Century’ they cry “Let’s take ‘em on! You gotta push on!”

The Lucid Dream are doing that, from the front. If they could clean the slight muddiness from their recordings, the sky’s the limit.

A slightly edited version of this review first appeared in Shindig! magazine.

Friday, 16 September 2016


The Locarno Dance Hall on Streatham Hill, South London was opened by band leader and former footballer, fighter pilot and bus driver, Billy Cotton in 1929. It was Britain’s first purpose-build ballroom and held 1500 people. Like Cotton, the ballroom saw many changes over the years - from hosting appearances from Charlie Chaplin to Miss World to cage fighting - but it remained a nightclub, of sorts, until finally knocked down in 2015.

I remember it as Caesar’s nightclub from when circumstances dictated a short-lived residency the wrong side of the river during the late 90s. Its façade featured a Roman chariot with four horses protruding above its sign in bold red letters. Needless to say I never passed through its doors. In 1969 it was rebranded and refurbished from the Locarno to The Cat’s Whiskers, where gangsters and suedeheads rubbed shoulders as the stage revolved and one band would magically be replaced by another while the DJ played ‘Time Is Tight’.

The footage below shows the Locarno in 1967 playing host to a Saturday morning club for teens and pre-teens. These kids are all dressed up in their finery and dance - either awkwardly or enthusiastically - to records and young (presumably) local band The Reaction, drink Coca-Cola, eye each other up and partake in a bike race around the hall. Unfortunately, the ten-minute sequence is silent (if you want sound you’ll have to pay Huntley Film Archives) but even so it’s a wonderfully evocative piece of film.

Ice creams on their way to Rich Turnham and the soul children of Epping for tipping Monkey Picks the nod to this treasure.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


UPDATE: To catch up with this show, and to hear Paul Orwell's exclusive and incredible track recorded especially for the show, go here: MWWS on FUSION.

“When are you next doing your radio show?” you’ve both asked. Thanks Mum, thanks Dad. Well, the wait is nearly over as this Sunday, Monkey’s Wandering Wireless Show returns to the airwaves of the hippest station on the dial, Fusion.

If you’ve listened before don’t let that put you off and if you’ve not done so it’s one hour of songs you know and songs you might not all thrown into a big aural pot of monkey magic. Spanning about 60 years and they’ll all be great of course.

I’m still finalizing the playlist but fans and admirers of Paul Orwell should definitely tune in… 

Ensure you click on for an 8.30pm sharp start. If you want to join Mixlr beforehand to join the chat/abuse with the Fusion family as the show goes on help yourself but not essential to listen. See ya there comrades.

Fusion runs every Sunday night 8.30-9.30pm with different listeners selecting a playlist. An essential, and great fun, end to the weekend.

Saturday, 10 September 2016


In Miles Davis’s autobiography, Miles, he calls ex-wife, Betty (Davis nee Mabry) ‘a talented motherfucker’; it’s the highest form of accolade given by a man not known to freely dish out the superlatives.

In May 1969, approximately halfway through their year-long marriage, with a band assembled by Miles featuring Mitch Mitchell, Harvey Brooks, Billy Cox, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Larry Young and John McLaughlin, Betty Davis recorded a session for Columbia Records in New York with producer Teo Macero. Unheard since, not even known to bootleggers, The Columbia Years finally reveals not only the roots of Betty’s raunchy funk - she’d wait another four years to unleash the first of her four super-funky albums – but also Miles tentatively exploring the jazz-fusion groove that he’d begun with In a Silent Way and would soon manifest in Bitches Brew.

A couple of points to note. Most importantly, this was not, as it could appear, a husband using his influence and clout with his record company to cut a deal for a wife of limited abilities. Betty had already cut a few singles and seen her songs used by others. She had (motherfucking) talent, looks, attitude, knew her own mind and was also the one who, still in her early 20s, hipped Miles (by then, virtually ancient, in his 40s) to the psychedelic rock stew of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and James Brown’s latest bag and kitted him out in the latest with-it clobber. The second point is if you consider Bitches Brew an instrument of torture, don’t let that put you off here as the results are far more accessible.

Why Columbia passed on the result is a mystery on this evidence. The playing – jazzy R&B with a funk twist – cooks and Betty’s vocals are sassy as hell yet less abrasive than they’d become. Cream and Creedence Clearwater Revival are covered by ‘Politician Man’ and ‘Born of the Bayou’ respectively but mostly Betty brings her originals to an exuberant party and the snatches of conversation between Betty and Miles demonstrate they both brought ideas into a shared creative process. These were only demos, and only enough for one side of an album, but it’s abundantly clear how much fun everyone had in the studio. Miles at one point asking, “What’s Jimi Hendrix drummer’s name? The one they call Mitch…” before falling into a fit of wheezing cackling laughter.

Three 1968 Hugh Masekela backed numbers, including a footstomping ‘My Soul Is Tired’, round things off in a more traditional full 60s soul style. As always with Light In The Attic releases it’s well packaged with interviews and commentary in the accompanying booklet. Stripped of historical interest this is an engaging half hour; with it, utterly compelling.

The Columbia Years is released by Light In The Attic Records on LP and CD.
An edited version of his review appears in the current issue of Shindig! magazine.

Friday, 2 September 2016


Last night saw the latest instalment of Dave Edwards and Giles Plumpton’s Sidewinder Club in Islington. For over five years the first Thursday of the month has seen the backroom of the Wenlock and Essex has swung to the R&B, Blues, Soul, Ska, Jazz elements of the modernist palate.

Many thanks to Dave and Gilo for asking me back to spin a few 45s, always enjoyable, and cheers to those who cut a rug or took the time to say nice things about the sets; it goes a long way, so thanks. A few folk asked about certain records and if they’re anything like me they will have forgotten within five minutes so the sets are listed below to jog memories. The raw blues of Smokey Smothers appeared particularly popular, and rightly so.

Also guesting was London Mod DJ institution and exuberant ball of boundless energy, Ian Jackson, and original DJ from the old Ricky Tick clubs in the 60s, Martin Fuggles. Before fairly recently being coaxed back to the decks Martin’s DJing ended in 1967 and, very evocatively, now plays the exact singles he did between sets by Georgie Fame, Geno Washington, John Mayall, Zoot Money and the rest back in the day. Martin's sets are listed below and also see his comments at the foot of this. One difference now being these are transported in a proper record box rather than the small suitcase he used to tie to his scooter or stick in the back of his mini. In addition to being a lovely chap there are a couple of other things I like about Martin. (1) He always starts his sets with The Impressions, it’s his little tradition and a mighty fine one, and (2) the way he’d sticker his records with his name on – a common enough practice when taking hard earned treasures out of the house – and also add the date he bought them. For someone as equally nerdy about lists and dates this is especially endearing (see picture of Len Barry 45 above).

Anyway, all great fun. Remember, first Thursday of the month at the Wenlock & Essex, Essex Road, Islington, N1. Free admission.

2100-2130 Monkey Set 1
The Hammond Brothers – Thirty Miles of Railroad Track (Abner)
Lowell Fulsom – Talkin’ Woman (Kent)
Bobby Bland – Dust Got In Daddy’s Eyes (Duke)
Dick Holler – Mooba Grooba (Comet)
Marv Johnson – Come On and Stop (United Artists)
The Downbeats – Request of a Fool (Tamla)
Lloyd Price – Take All (Jade)
The Garden State Choir – Who’s Over Yonder (Simpson)
Hindal Butts – In The Pocket (M-S)
Cecil Garrett – Bearcat
Jimmy Nelson – Tell Me Who (Chess)
Ronnie Milsap – A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (Scepter)

2130-2200 Martin Fuggles Set 1
Impressions - It's Alright
Sam and Dave - Soul Man
Drifters - Sweets for my Sweet
Spinners - Sweet Thing
Temptations - Why you wanna make me blue
Slim Harpo - I'm a king bee
Googie Rene Combo - Smokey Joe's La La
Marvin Gaye - You're a Wonderful One
Blendells - La La La La La
Martha & the Vandellas - Heat Wave
Capitols - Cool Jerk
Brenton Wood - Gimme little sign

2200-2230 Monkey Set 2
Big Maybelle – Do Lord (Brunswick)
Artie Golden – Look Out (Sunshine)
Lonesome Sundown – I Had A Dream Last Night (Excello)
Grover Pruitt – Little Girl (Salem)
Lester Young – Wobble Time (Chase)
Lowell Fulsom – Love Grows Cold (Chess)
Smokey Smothers – I Got My Eyes On You (Gamma)
John Lee Hooker – Dimples (Vee-Jay)
Slim Harpo – I Need Money (Excello)
Freddy King – Now I’ve Got A Woman (Federal)
Dean Jones – Women (Valiant)
Chuck Reed – Females (Minaret)
Dick Jordan – I Want Her Back (Jamie)
Robert Moore – Harlem Shuffle (Hollywood)

2230-onwards Martin Fuggles Set 2
Impressions - You've been cheatin
Sam and Dave - You don't know like I know
Four Tops - Something about you
Junior Walker & All Stars - Shake and Fingerpop
Marvellettes Too many fish in the Sea
Ramsey Lewis Wade in the Water
Donnie Elbert - Little piece of leather
Chuck Wood - Seven days too long
C.O.D's - Michael
Soul Brothers Six - Some kind of wonderful
Wilson Pickett - In the Midnight Hour
Elgins - Heaven must have sent you
Darrell Banks - Open the door to your heart
Sugar Pie Desanto - Soulful Dress
Booker T & the MGs - Green Onions
Desmond Dekker & the Aces - 007
Temptations - The way you do the things you do
Gene Chandler - Nothing can stop me
Edwin Starr - Stop her on Sight (SOS)
Prince Buster - Madness
Kim Weston - Helpless
Isley Brothers - This old heart of mine
Len Barry - 1-2-3
Mar-kets - Surfers Stomp