Something for the Weekend

This “Seven Minutes of Madness” remix by Coldcut from 1987 is still an amazing and radical piece of sound collage, throwing in Ofra Haza, Humphrey Bogart, James Brown, and a BBC Play School record while still keeping the bones of the original. Though we were all to get sick of that “This is a journey into sound” sample they were the first ones to use it.

Apparently Eric B dissed this as “Girly disco music.


Photos Album

Why didn’t The Photos make it? They seemed to have all the ingredients for pop success: catchy New Wave tunes and a sexy lead singer in Wendy Wu. But they never had any hits and their 1980 debut album was the only one they released. They recorded a Tony Visconti-produced follow-up but for some reason the record company shelved it and the band broke up soon after.

Their label hyped them as “the British Blondie” and gave them a big marketing push which helped get that first album to #4 in the charts. I bought it on the strength of that buzz – and the fine-looking Wendy – but while it was a solid enough record it was no Parallel Lines. No crime in that of course, especially considering that was Blondie’s third album, so I don’t know why The Photos weren’t given a shot with their second.

You could say they needed more time to develop. Hahahahaha.

Download: Barbarella’s – The Photos (mp3)
Download: Do You Have Fun? – The Photos (mp3)

That second album, titled Crystal Tips and Mighty Mice, was finally released in 2008. I havent heard it but it seems like it might actually be pretty good.

Lucky Dip

I’m no expert on the oeuvre of Cheap Trick but I do remember their 1979 album Dream Police being poo-pooed by some critics because of its big production and strings which made them sound like a Power-Pop ELO. Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of a “Power-Pop ELO” sounds great to me, and I’ve always loved every bombastic second of this record.

Download: Dream Police – Cheap Trick (mp3)

Giant Steps

NASA’s entire archive of photos taken by the Apollo astronauts has recently been uploaded to Flikr — that’s over 13,000 images of the greatest achievement of the 20th century, scanned in beautiful high-resolution. We all know the famous and iconic Apollo images, but seeing the entire rolls of film unedited — lots of shots are blurry, wrongly-exposed, or badly-framed like holiday snaps you’d reject — brings home the scrappy, imperfect, and seat-of-the-pants nature of the endeavor and makes it even more awe-inspiring because it seems so human. Even when it’s just an empty photo of the moon surface (which is a lot of them) they’re amazing because it’s the fucking moon and it was taken by a human being standing on it.

I was 6 years old when Neil Armstrong took his famous step on July 20, 1969. It happened at 4am in England and my mother woke me and my sister up to see it. I think I watched most of the Apollo missions in my pajamas as the big events tended to happen either late at night or early morning our time which made them seem even more special because I was up watching TV when I was supposed to be in bed. Being a typical boy I was into rockets and space, and I was entranced by the fuzzy black and white television pictures, and the staticky chat between the astronauts and Houston punctuated by that high-pitched beep! 

Even 40-plus years later there is still something incredibly glamorous about Apollo: the towering spire of the Saturn V, the white spacesuits that made the astronauts look like heavenly knights, and the ships gleaming in the raw sunlight of outer space. Of course another reason for the enduring wonder of these images is that we haven’t been back to the moon since, so they still look like the future — a future we never had. Back then the year 2000 was this far-off date that only existed in science fiction, and by which time we thought there’d be people living on the moon or even on their way to Mars. Sadly it turned out that Apollo was just another example of 60s optimism that ran aground on the rocks of dismal reality in the 1970s.

Download: Space Oddity (1980 version) – David Bowie (mp3)

This song was a hit thanks to the BBC using it in their Apollo 11 coverage, so Bowie owes his career in part to the moon landings. This is the version he recorded in 1980 which is more sparse and Plastic-Ono-Band in style, I’ve posted it before many years ago but it’s still not a widely available track so here it is again.

Attack of The Killer Veg

The young lady being attacked by what looks like a giant rhubarb is Nicole Maury in a promo photo from the film version of The Day of The Triffids. I haven’t seen that for years but I do remember it diverges quite a bit from John Wyndham’s terrific original 1951 novel which was a highly prescient story about genetically-modified crops getting out of control, while the film was your usual scary monster flick.

Man-eating plants might seem a bit silly but book and film did have some genuinely terrifying moments, especially the haunting opening scene of a deserted London which was ripped off by 28 Days Later. I also like to think it influenced Cerrone’s 1977 electro-disco masterpiece “Supernature” which is also about how messing with the DNA of fruit and veg could have bad consequences. It’s a strange subject for a dance record but that could be because the lyrics were written by an uncredited Lene Lovich which I had no idea about until I wrote this post and blows my mind a little.

This is the mega 10-minute version so it’s a big file.

Download: Supernature – Cerrone (mp3)