The Resistance

Been a grim and relentless couple of weeks news-wise. Hard to believe Trump has been President for less than a fortnight and it already feels like he’s broken the world. But I am inspired by the amount of people out on the streets protesting — often spontaneously — which is like a hopeful light shining at the end of a horrible tunnel.

This 1989 House banger popped up on my iTunes the other day and sounded so very now it lifted my spirits even more. I hope it’s gonna be alright.

Download: It’s Alright (Original 12″ Mix) – Sterling Void (mp3)

Must get back to writing about music and forget about this shit.


Something for the Weekend

It was remiss of me not to note the passing of the legend that was Peter Sarstedt a couple of weeks ago. I know his big hit from 1969 is regarded as being a bit naff but I’ve always liked how it references so many high-class names, places, and brands of the era. 

Listening to this again made me wonder if the record was an influence on Bryan Ferry. He also sang about the glamorous, jet-setting demi-monde in a very mannered voice. Though admittedly he did it better and without that stupid accordion.


The Girl With Cantaloupe Eyes

I loved this 1968 record when I was a nipper but had no idea what it was about. Turns out it’s a piss-take of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and lyrics like “Lemonade pie with a brand new car” and “Unzipper the strings of my kite” are intentionally meaningless faux-psychedelic bollocks. Makes me like it even more now.

Download: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) – John Fred & His Playboy Band (mp3)

Image: PB Grand Prix by Keiichi Tanaami, 1968

Even Stranger Things

The Netflix series Stranger Things is a loving homage to American pop culture tropes of the 1980s, especially those seen in Spielberg-related films like ET, The Goonies, and Poltergeist: Nerdy kids on BMX bikes, sleepy suburban towns, supernatural creatures, and shady government organizations (the 2011 movie Super 8 did a similar thing).

I’ve been thinking it would be a great idea to do a British version set in the 1970s that was influenced by creepy kid’s TV shows like The Tomorrow People, Children of The Stones, the Jon Pertwee Dr Who, and the scary public information films of the era.

In this version the kids would be telepaths who have adventures while riding around a dingy London on Chopper bikes. Fueled on greasy chips and Fanta, they would use their powers to fight toxic rubbish monsters that emerged from disused canals and rusty old fridges on bombsites. The mean old lady who lives in the crumbling, dark house at the end of their street would be a pagan witch who enslaved children when they climbed into her back garden to get their football back. It would be way more disturbing than anything Spielberg dreamed up.

The Stranger Things soundtrack also reached back to the 80s with throbbing analog synths straight out of Miami Vice or a John Carpenter film. In my imaginary show the music would be influenced by the eerie themes of those 70s kid’s shows. They still sound scary today, especially if you were an impressionable kid when they were first broadcast.

The Tomorrow People Theme – Dudley Simpson (mp3)
Children of The Stones Theme- Ambrosian Singers (mp3)
Dr. Who (Original Theme) – BBC Radiophonic Workshop (mp3)
Maneche (Theme from Picture Box) – Jacques Lasry (mp3)

Think I can get Netflix interested?

The Big Beat

I’m currently writing a long blog post about how and why I ended up in America which got me thinking about the music that reminds me of living in Florida in the 90s. 

During that decade electronic music was constantly hyped as the next big thing in the States, but I think it struggled to break through  because the natives — at least outside the big cities in “real” America — didn’t think music was proper unless it involved a guy with a guitar. So every bloody bar I went to back then you heard Hootie & The Blowfish, Garth Brooks, and The Spin Doctors.

But one strand of electronica that did make some inroads commercially was so-called Big Beat. The thumping breakbeat sound of The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Fatboy Slim did well probably because it sounded like the electronic version of rocking Jock Jams. The genre even produced American stars in duo The Crystal Method whose 1996 debut album Vegas went platinum.

A lot of EDM purists sneered at Big Beat for being too predictable and commercial, but it did break down some of the prejudices against electronic music in the States and you’d have to be a sad case to deny the euphoric rush of a record like this.

Download: Comin’ Back (The Light’s Southern Grit Mix) – The Crystal Method (mp3)

A Bit of Bovver

I love the word Bovver. It reminds me so much of the 1970s when Bovver Boys and Bovver Birds wore Bovver Boots while indulging in a bit of Aggro.

I know Skins and Suedeheads were into Reggae, but I think the perfect soundtrack for sticking the boot in would be some primitive foot-stomping Glam like this from 1974. 

Download: Dance With The Devil – Cozy Powell (mp3)

A drum solo was usually the part of the concert when you went to the bar, but in the 70s they became hit records. I didn’t know until yesterday that Suzi Quatro played bass on this.

Northern Blues

Carmel was another product of the early 80s Jazz revival, and I don’t know if it’s because she was from Manchester but she sounded tougher and rawer than peers like Sade and Blue Rondo a la Turk who were soft Southern Jessies from the trendy nightspots of London. I know it’s supposed to be grim up North, but her bluesy, wailing voice sounded like she’d just finished a shift in the cotton fields.

Her 1981 debut, the indie-released single “Storm” was an intimate and emotionally intense little number suited for a smoky Beatnik basement club in a dodgy part of town where serious young men in black turtlenecks recited poetry about the death of God. The major label hit “Bad Day” the following year sounded bigger and punchier but still kept the live rawness. It also featured some tasty keyboard playing by Steve Nieve.

She might have been a bit too intense for major mainstream success, though she had some hits in the UK the public preferred the smoother sound of Sade. She was very big in France though.

Download: Storm – Carmel (mp3)
Download: Bad Day (12″ version) – Carmel (mp3)

(Recorded from vinyl so forgive the crackles)