Friday, 30 December 2016


1.  Little Nicky Soul – ‘I Wanted To Tell You’ (1964)
Handclapping, shuffling, gospel-soul dancer on the obscure and short-lived Shee Records out of New York. Little Nicky was Nichalous Faircorth and the song – with great supporting vocals – was, it’s believed, his only single. If you’re only gonna cut one record, make it a good in.

2.  Patti Labelle & the Bluebelles – ‘All Or Nothing’ (1965)
Newly signed to Atlantic Records and Patti, Cindy Birdsong, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash rewarded the label with a number 68 pop hit. By rights it should have climbed higher as not only was it their best release to date it’s everything you’d want from a sultry and dramatic girl group 45.

3.  The Sweet Three – ‘That’s The Way It Is (When A Girl’s In Love)’ (1966)
Another girl group beauty, this one written and produced by still-to-come Philadelphian legend Leon Huff. Nice flugelhorn intro and a gorgeous record from beginning to end.

4.  Pharoah Sanders – ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ (1969)
Judging by the squawking terror that occupies a chunk of this sprawling 33-minute epic from Karma not everything went as smoothly as the Master may have wished.

5.  Eldridge Holmes – ‘Pop, Popcorn Children’ (1969)
The fourth volume of Soul Jazz Records’ New Orleans Funk shows no sign of dwindling returns. There’s enough in the opening track to keep an old-school hip-hopper in breaks and samples for a month.

6.  Jimmy Smith – ‘Recession or Depression’ (1971)
A vocal track with sweeping strings from the Hammond maestro, sounding for all the world like he’s written the soundtrack to a Blaxploitation movie before such a thing was even in vogue: recession, depression, unemployment, inflation, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, trying to make ends meet. An unexpected moment in Smith’s catalogue.

7.  Senseless Things – ‘Everybody’s Gone’ (1991)
Twickenham’s Pop Kids have reunited for what’s billed as a one-off show next March in Shepherd’s Bush. Saw them many times in the early 90s and revisiting their stuff now I’m reminded why. Great live band with short, fast, pogoing-punk belters with an ear for a good melody. Now all we need are for The Revs to be added to the bill.

8.  The Prime Movers – ‘Don’t Want You Now’ (1991)
Much, I’m sure, to Graham Day’s irritation his time in The Prisoners will always overshadow his other work. Listening back to the second Prime Movers album, Earth Church, it must rank alongside the best things he’s done and ‘Don’t Want You Now’ encapsulates the mean, rock and roll fuck-offness of the Mr Day we know and love.

9.  Peter Doherty – ‘She Is Far’ (2016)
It’s a pity there’s so much baggage with Doherty as it’s possible to produce some quality records out of him. New album Hamburg Demonstrations hits a high percentage of satisfying tracks. ‘Flags of The Old Regime’ is stunning and if Dexys had cut the evocative ‘She Is Far’ you’d never hear the end of it. 

10.  RW Hedges – ‘Wild Eskimo Kiss’ (2016)
They don’t make records like this anymore. Only they do. A magical, almost Orbisonesque, seasonal offering from RW Hedges ahead of a new album next year. Lovely. Listen here.

Thursday, 29 December 2016


The exceptional Mavis Staples was the recipient this month of a lifetime achievement award at the Kennedy Center Honors gala at the White House.

"The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates the spectacular talents of artists whose brilliance has left a lasting impact on our society," according to Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.

"Reflecting on the powerful commitments these artists have made to their crafts as well as the cultural contributions they have made over the course of their illustrious careers is a humbling experience," added Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.

Look at this speech given by President Barack Obama; everything about it is wonderful. Brings a lump to the throat. Fully deserved Mavis. Congratulations.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


I don’t usually go in for end of year lists but here, in no order other than the one they appear above (which was arranged with the design in mind rather than anything else), are my nine favourite albums of 2016.

William Bell – This Is Where I Live
French Boutik – French Pop
The Lucid Dream – Compulsion Songs
The Monkees – Good Times
Daniel Romano – Mosey
The Senior Service – The Girl In The Glass Case
The See No Evils – Inner Voices
The Junipers – Red Bouquet Fair
Teenage Fanclub - Here

Saturday, 24 December 2016


Right, can't hang about, gotta give Brigitte her presents. Have a good one people and thanks for dropping by. See ya on the other side.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


It’s been a while coming but the latest issue of Mark Hynds’s Subbaculture has been worth the wait. As always, it’s intelligently written, thought-provoking, inspiring and imaginatively designed. Although Subbaculture’s remit is a multitude of street styles it’s the enduring Mod one which takes centre-stage.

There’s a two-part Routes Out Of The Mod Revival feature: one taking the paisley path, the other heading down the strict purist road as captured through the lens of Paul Hallam; author Jason Brummell gives an interesting insight into the world of independent publishing; Peter Jachimiak takes a look at the British art scene of the 50s and 60 with one eye on their sartorial get-up; and the film version of Absolute Beginners is given a reappraisal (so much so I’m going to have to watch it again as my opinion may have changed since I, as a know-all teenager wrapped up in the Colin MacInnes novel, dismissed it as inauthentic 80s rubbish when I saw it for the only time in 1986).

The case for 1980 being music crowning glory is food for thought; there’s an extract from Mr. Brummell’s forthcoming novel; and, although it feels a little tacked-on, Jeff Hately from the band Wolfesbane offers his thoughts from a metal/punk point of view.

Best mag out there. They won't be around long so look sharp, get yours here. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016


Broadcast on 7 December 2016 in the USA as part of the Unsung series, this 35-minute documentary takes an affectionate look at the life and career of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and needs no further sales pitch from me. Enjoy.

Watch here: Unsung.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Join three unwise men – Mick, Doc and I – this Sunday for the Fusion Christmas Cracker. We’re offering up an hour of party poppers to have a drink and dance to. There’ll only be one or two Christmas related songs, the rest just great old soul, beat, R&B, Mod, whatnot singalongs; Czechoslovakian psychedelic B-sides must wait for our own individual shows.

So, grab a bottle of Baileys and tune into Fusion in time for an 8.30pm start. And, while on the subject, can I say thanks to everybody who tunes into Fusion on Sundays (not only the ones I have a paw it) - it's much appreciated. Spread the word. Ho ho ho.  


Sunday, 11 December 2016


Looking back at his time in These Animal Men, Julian Hewings – then trading under the inviting-ridicule nickname, Hooligan – claims the band decided early on their venture wasn’t to become a business or a career but would be an “artistic moment to express our defence of rock and roll and the ordinary kid”. There might be some revisionism going on there but there’s no denying his assertion that they “were doomed but we just fucking went out and blazed it.”

Flawed Is Beautiful is a film by Adam Foley and tells the story of These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H; two bands the weekly music press dubbed leaders of 1994’s genre-of-the-moment, New Wave of the New Wave. Ultimately NWOTNW didn’t leave much of an impression but it did – for good or bad – do much of the spadework for Brit Pop to flourish the following year. Through archive footage and interviews with band members, journalists and music biz people two quite separate stories emerge.

These Animal Men wanted to exist in a world where rock ‘n’ roll was king. Three minute blasts of adrenaline-driven  pop, dressing up, wearing eyeliner, dying your hair, making a noise, star-jumping on stage, pulling poses practiced in the mirror in front of an audience, getting under people’s skin, taking cheap drugs and having huge heaps of fun; where being in a band was the best possible thing one could wish for and being on Top of the Pops the ultimate achievement. They did it. They lived it and revelled in it. “If someone was gonna do something it had to be someone ordinary, and pathetic, and snidey, and a bit of a prick. And that was me,” says Hewings, his pride obvious. Hewings/Hooligan is the star of this film with his interview segments capturing all that is wonderful about being in a band, balanced with an underlying appreciation of the ridiculousness and transitory nature of the beast.

They courted controversy from the start which is always a double-edged sword; gets attention but invites suspicion which is inevitably impossible to shake. If the lyrics, title and spelling of debut single ‘Speeed King’ weren’t enough, they somehow managed to persuade Virgin Records to throw in a These Animal Men branded (empty) wrap of speed with each copy and have a sleeve depicting a huge bowl of (fake) amphetamines with four straws. And if that wasn’t enough, attempt to play live in schools around the country, with obvious results. To this day, it is a constant source of embarrassment and anxiety for bassist Patrick Murray but sums up the band in one episode.

While These Animal Men had a swashbuckling attitude, blurring punk rock with modish glamour (incidentally, ‘This Is The Sound of Youth’ is the best Mod Revival sounding record ever made, amalgamating Secret Affair and The Chords into something greater than the sum of its parts) and an endless stream of quotable soundbites looking and sounding like a bunch of cut-price Richey Manics, S*M*A*S*H were darker, angrier and grubbier. The Men had style but arguably S*M*A*S*H had more substance. Drummer Rob Hague comes across as a salt of the earth kinda geezer but their story involves suicide and smack addiction, political benefit gigs, awkward punctuation, singles called ‘LadyLoveYourCunt’ and ‘(I Want To) Kill Somebody’ with lyrics about murdering members of the tory government and a video showing John Major having his cock bitten off. That last achievement is without doubt impressive but which band would you sooner have been in? Very little about their tale sounds like much fun.

Flawed But Beautiful is a labour of love for Adam Foley and even if you’re unfamiliar with the bands – or not particular a fan of either – a terrific film capturing dreams, youthful spirit, energy, excitement and white-hot rock and roll. It didn't last long but they did it. More should try it.

Flawed Is Beautiful is out now on DVD.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


Just to keep things ticking along, here are our European comrades, Les Darlings, with a swirling dollop of garage goodness. Out now on Lust Records.