Something for the Weekend

I think The Proclaimers are considered a bit of a novelty act in the States because of the jolly, singalong nature of the one-hit wonder they had here, but when they first appeared their decision to sing in their (verrrry thick) Scottish accents felt like more a statement of national identity than a mere gimmick. I loved their first album, especially this song which is as glorious and moving as ever — especially now that I’ve moved to America myself.


Nice Chopper

The greatest bike ever made? I think so. I desperately wanted one when I was a kid, but sadly it was not to be.

This track from David Essex is, believe it or not, 10 minutes long. He wasn’t just a pretty face our Dave and this is his “Jungleland” (though I imagine it being set in Plaistow instead), a ridiculously overblown street epic that’s also utterly brilliant.

Download: Out On The Street – David Essex (mp3)

North vs. Sarf

Though my childhood manor of Fulham is situated right on the north bank of the Thames, the river doesn’t cut the city exactly in half and if I had to choose between one of the two compass points I would consider myself a South Londoner — and a proud one at that. To my mind the only advantage North London has is more Tube stations and it acts as a rather good buffer zone between us and the rest of the country beyond Watford (only kidding. No I’m not. Yes I am).

The argument over which side of the city is better is a touchy subject for Londoners, even ones like me who haven’t lived there for 20 years, so in a recent Guardian interview with Saint Etienne this comment from Bob Stanley really ticked me off:

“South London’s not really London, is it?” Stanley says. “It’s just an endless suburb.”

Bob’s comment is doubly annoying because he’s from BLOODY CROYDON which makes him A PRETEND LONDONER, and just confirms my opinion that North London is full of poseurs who aren’t actually from the city. Methinks he needs to spend less time in trendy caffs in Kentish Town and get out a bit more.

Here’s a cracking number from South London’s Meesha Paris.

Download: South of The River – Mica Paris (mp3)

Something for the Summer Holidays

One year some naughty boy played this over our school tannoy system on the last day of term, and it still reminds me of the pure joy of running out of the school playground on that day to the freedom of the summer holidays. The girls up on stage look like they’re having the time of their lives too, just watching them gives me a big smile.

New Monday

As noted before, I get a lot of emails from PR companies plugging new bands and new releases which I ignore 99.9% of the time. I did click on this one though (I liked the embedded graphics, we designers are suckers for that shit) and I’m glad I did because it’s a great track — moody, epic, and soulful.

Unfortunately the email didn’t come with any information about who Society actually are, and there’s nothing about them on the old internets apart from the fact that they’re from Reading. Guess they’re going for the “keep it mysterious” approach.

PS: I’m off for a few days with the family so don’t expect anything new here until at least Friday.

Ashes To Ashes

Much as I love records I’m not sure I’d want to be memorialized in this way when I die: Having my ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Seems a bit creepy to me (at least it isn’t a picture disk), and I’d probably end up covered in scratches and filed in the wrong place.

Though I guess you could convert it to an mp3 so your loved ones can carry you around on their iPods.

Download: When I’m Dead And Gone – McGuinness Flint (mp3)

The Ace Face

There’s an excellent interview here with Nick Logan, the man who was editor of the NME during the punk late 70s (where he hired two unknown kids called Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons) and then went on to independently create Smash Hits and The Face which must be about as brilliant a track record you can get in the yoof culture business.

I was a keen NME reader when The Face first came out in 1980 and carried on reading them both for a few years, but increasingly it was the glossy newcomer I looked forward to getting the most. As a design student I ate up the influential, envelope-pushing layouts of Neville Brody and it’s slick production values which were a lot more attractive than a smudgy, inky newspaper. In comparison the latest weekly news about The Smiths wasn’t that interesting to me anymore and The Face just had it’s antenna and attitude better tuned to the new decade.

Looking at back issues now is like opening time capsules of the trends of the 1980s, and the contents of my own wardrobe too. The cover of the “Hard Times” issue above is exactly how I was dressing circa 1982: ripped 501s, studded belt, deck shoes, vintage 1950s shirt from Flip. Then a few years later, I (along with every hep young man in London) was wearing my 501s (always 501s) with chunky Doc Marten shoes and an MA-1 flying jacket, a look credited to the magazine’s fashion stylist Ray Petri. I still have the dark blue MA-1 jacket I bought 25 years ago, still in very good nick too.

I don’t know if Logan was a genius or just lucky, but The Face hit the streets at exactly the right zeitgeisty moment (Smash Hits too), catching the start of a style-obsessed decade when the word “designer” was applied to everything and a pop star’s haircut and trousers were considered worthy of serious notice. But the most inspiring thing I got from the interview was that The Face was never market-researched or focus-grouped or any of that bollocks. Logan just had an idea for a magazine he’d like to read himself and filled it with stuff he thought was interesting — that was the only criteria. As someone who’s suffered through hundreds of interminable and depressing marketing meetings that suck all the life out of any good idea, that seems like a dream come true and the only way anything great ever gets done.

Download: Look Sharp! – Joe Jackson (mp3)

Multimedia Bonus: I vaguely remember seeing this ad in the cinema at the time but don’t think it was ever on television, I can’t imagine they’d have the money for that.