I Heart the 80s

This is the other copy of the Daily Mirror from the 1980s that I kept, a dramatic wraparound cover from the day after the IRA tried to assassinate Maggie Thatcher in Brighton. Together with the front page from Live Aid they’re like the light and dark sides of the 80s coin.

I’m not sure how I feel about this now but I have to admit that at the time there was a moment when I wished they’d got her. The woman did inspire a rather irrational level of hate.

See the full-size version here.

Download: Suspect Device – Stiff Little Fingers (mp3)


Mouth Almighty

Inspired by today’s post at The Vinyl Villain I had the urge to serve up some vintage Wah! Heat. Leader Pete Wylie might not be as well known as fellow Liverpudlians (and, briefly, fellow band members) Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch but at his best Wah! were more than a match for them.

This is both sides of their 1979 debut single. Not everything I heard on John Peel way back then still lights my fire today but these do.

Download: Better Scream – Wah! Heat (mp3)
Download: Hey (Disco) Joe – Wah! Heat (mp3)

And, what the hell, here’s a storming track from their terrific 1981 debut album Nah+Pooh-The Art of Bluff — I still have no idea what that means, those wacky Scousers!

Download: Otherboys – Wah! Heat (mp3)

Feed The World

I’m sure you don’t need yet another reminder that you’re getting older but today is the 25th anniversary of the Live Aid concert. Yes, it was a quarter of a century ago. I had conflicting feelings about the event at the time, being a cynical young lefty student who had absorbed the anti-hippy attitudes of punk at an impressionable age I was a bit sniffy about the idea of pop stars thinking they could change the world by singing a few choruses of “Give Peace A Chance”, especially when those pop stars included Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones. And looking back we can “blame” Live Aid for the fact that nearly every major tragedy since has come with it’s own usually-dreadful charity single and worthy televised celebathon.

But it’s easy to sit on the sidelines lobbing snarky grenades at other people’s good intentions or blame Bob Geldof for not overthrowing international capitalism instead, and I wasn’t enough of an arrogant prick to begrudge the fact that at least someone was doing something and what I thought about their records or motives or haircuts was beside the point. Though those feelings never led to me actually giving any money to Live Aid, something I felt a little guilty about that summer particularly as I had donated quite a few quid to support the families of striking miners.

So I wasn’t entirely caught up in the whole thing and actually missed the first part of the concert as I was on a train back to London from Kent where my second year of art college had ended the day before and I’d been to an end-of-term party. Though I was a little miffed at missing The Style Council I don’t remember feeling that I’d missed the moon landing or the first half of a World Cup final or something because, to me, it was just a charity rock concert and it was only as the day went on that it became this massive, history-making, must-see global EVENT that we all know it as today — I think even Geldof and Midge Ure were a little surprised at the scale of what they had started.

But I must have thought Live Aid was important enough to have kept The Daily Mirror from the following Monday who did one of their great wraparound covers for it (click here for a full-size image of the whole thing). In case you’re wondering what was on the telly that night, the BBC were showing ‘Allo ‘Allo while on ITV there was a repeat of The Sweeney plus Des O’Connor Now with guest Engelbert Humperdinck.

Download: Rocking All Over The World – Status Quo (mp3)

Watch With Father

One of the best things about having kids that the books don’t tell you about is it gives you a chance to relive your own childhood without feeling the slightest bit guilty or self indulgent. I’ve used my daughter as an excuse to buy DVDs of The Clangers, Bagpuss, and Camberwick Green which thankfully she liked (though not as much as me!) and were a nice reminder that children’s television shows once had the laid-back tone of a kindly uncle instead of being your “cool” best friend who is shouting at you all the time.

I’ve also indoctrinated introduced her to old film favourites like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which were as much a part of my childhood as jam sandwiches and grazed knees as I imagine they were for most people my age. Happily, not only have these two stood the test of time but I think I’m more impressed with them now than I was as a kid because I can appreciate what truly top-class productions they are, the songs especially are as good as any you’d hear in a Broadway show and are probably better than they needed to be for a mere “kids film”.

Mary Poppins needs to be bloody good too because it has to withstand the infamous horror that is Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent which sounds like an Australian chewing a golf ball and makes it hard to listen to great songs like “Chim Chim Cher-ee” without cringing. Luckily everything else in the film is perfect especially Julie Andrews who rightfully won an Oscar for it and, I probably shouldn’t admit, there are times when I think she looks quite, well, sexy in it, especially in that orange coat and white shoes. I think I’m just suffering from an Englishman’s pervy attraction to prim and stern nanny types. Spit spot!

Download: Chim Chim Cher-ee – Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews (mp3)
Download: Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) – Julie Andrews (mp3)

I remember being taken to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when it came out in 1968 and I used to have a Corgi toy model of the car which is probably worth a mint today. Though the film was partly an attempt to copy the success of Mary Poppins (Dick Van Dyke is in it, Julie Andrews was offered the female lead and the songs are by the same composers) it’s still terrific with lots to enjoy (though The Childcatcher scares the crap out of my daughter) and thankfully Van Dyke didn’t attempt an accent this time for which the people of England are eternally grateful. If he had done this lovely, lovely song might be known as “‘ushaboye Moun’ayn” which, gor blimey guv’nor, would ‘ave bin a bloomin’ tragedy.

Download: Hushabye Mountain – Dick Van Dyke (mp3)

As any parent will tell you, 99% of kids movies and tv shows these days are rubbish which seem to exist just to sell toys and Happy Meals and the only modern studio that puts in the same kind of care, effort and skill that went into Mary Poppins is Pixar who never insult the intelligence of kids or their parents, so thank God for them. Everyone else seems to think all you need are some breakdancing cats and a few poop jokes to keep the nippers happy — they’re not wrong, kids will watch any old rubbish if you’re not careful, they have terrible taste.

Nuts to Brazil

I wonder if I’m the only one — apart from Dutch fans — who was happy to see Brazil get dumped out of the World Cup last week because, frankly, I can’t stand them.

My animosity started during the 1998 World Cup when the American television commentators would cream their pants over them and couldn’t let a sentence go by without some drooling reference to “samba football” and “the beautiful game” whenever one of them did some poncy step-over as if no other team had skillful players or played good football and I resented the implication that to be against Brazil (by wanting France to win that final for instance) was to be against life itself.

They’re often called “everyone’s second-favourite team” when what they really are is the Manchester United of international football, treated like Gods who have a divine right to win everything and supported by people who haven’t been within 1,000 miles of Rio in their lives just because they win a lot and it’s “cool” to like them. We all hate those kids wearing United shirts who aren’t from Manchester and you see just as many non-Brazilians wearing their yellow shirts too — glory hunters the lot of them who all true football supporters should want to punch in the face. It’s easy to support Brazil, any idiot can do it (and they often do) or make them their “second favourite” team, but it takes real commitment to cheer for a team that lets you down more often than not (eg: Spain and Holland) and keep coming back for more, and you probably have to be mentally deranged to keep believing in England.

Admitedly most of that isn’t the fault of the Brazilian players themselves but they do also have those childish one-name nicknames — Ronaldinho, Juninho, Kaka (snigger), Dunga — which I find ridiculous and reason enough not to like them. Imagine if the England team came out with Lamps, JT, Crouchey, and Stevie G on the back of their shirts, you’d piss yourself laughing at them, wouldn’t you?

So yes, I’m a joyless bastard who hates Brazil. I also hate puppies, small children, cakes, and nice sunsets.

Download: Mas Que Nada – Tamba Trio (mp3)

Nurse, the screens!

Well, it’s been a funny old week. I went to the doctor Tuesday morning because I was having bad stomach pains and it turns out I had appendicitis so I was whisked off to the hospital where I had the offending organ taken out yesterday.

While the nurses were very nice, every time I go into the hospital these days a little part of me cries because they don’t wear these uniforms anymore.

I’m back home now feeling a little fragile but also rather pleasantly woozy from being doped up to my tits on painkillers.