Little Ted

I love everything about this 1977 photo of a young Teddy Boy in London. With his immaculate DA, purple drape jacket, pink socks, and white brothel creepers he looks like a proper dandy. Then there’s the Evening News box, a London newspaper which doesn’t exist anymore, and the Wimpy Bar which is a rare sight in England too now. He’s probably having a burger before heading down the King’s Road to beat up some Punk rockers.

You used to still see a lot of Teds in the 1970s, but at some point in the 80s they just seemed to vanish. I think maybe a lot of the youngsters got into Rockabilly style but I don’t know where the older ones went. Probably moved to Essex where they’re now retired and voting for UKIP.

This is a Rockabilly classic from 1956 that has been covered by The Yardbirds, Aerosmith, and Motörhead but this version still rocks like crazy, man, crazy. 

Download: The Train Kept A-Rollin’ – Johnny Burnette (mp3)


New-ish Monday

Both of these are from great albums which came out last year that I’ve only just discovered. Better late than never, eh?

Britta Phillips is the bass player in indie dreampop band Luna and last year she released her first ever solo album Luck Or Magic. As you can imagine from her other job it’s a dreamy and shimmering record with this lush opening track sounding like a lost Bond theme.

Diane Birch has released two albums of 70s-ish pop/rock that evoked Fleetwood Mac and Carole King which were decent but not that special to my ears. Since then she’s moved to Berlin and put out the self-produced and released mini-album Nous which shows her going in a new and more interesting direction of gorgeous, minimalist ballads like this one.

Something for the Weekend

This clip is from a TV show in 1978 called Blackcurrent presented by DJ Greg Edwards. According to the person who uploaded this to YouTube it was a British version of Soul Train but I have no memory of it at all. I do remember there was a short-lived British Soul Train show in the 1980s presented by Jeffrey Daniels but this one is new to me. Nothing on Google either. Anyone?

Whatever the show was, this is fantastic. Hi-Tension were one of the first black British bands who could play the funk as well as their American cousins and they’re really smoking here.

Uncle Brian

Losing John Noakes the other week was bad enough, but now the children’s television legend that was Brian Cant has left us too. If you’re a British person of a certain age the news would have been greatly upsetting and a reminder of the passing of time. Having them both die so close to each other was like having a curtain come down on your childhood.

Cant was the sort of older, friendly uncle figure you don’t get on kid’s telly anymore now all the presenters try to be your cool best friend instead. With a 20-year career that took in narrating Camberwick Green, Trumpton, and Chigley, and presenting both Play School and Play Away, he was a constant fixture for our entire childhood and his voice part of it’s soundtrack. We literally grew up with him, and hearing that warm voice sparks happy memories just like an old teddy bear or a bag of boiled sweets.

Here’s a lovely song from Chigley that Half Man Half Biscuit covered (sort of).

Download: The Little Steam Train – Brian Cant (mp3)

My Twelve Inches

Not sure if this 1982 single is quite great enough to be called a lost classic, but it does follow the pattern of only being a very minor hit by a band that broke up soon after one more flop single and a solitary album. I certainly liked it enough to buy it on 12″ at the time.

King Trigger were hyped as the next big thing back then — they were on the cover of Sounds before they even had a record out — but it never panned out for them. Maybe because their percussive, tribal sound was too similar to the likes of Pigbag, Adam & The Ants, and Bow Wow Wow. The big production by Steve Lillywhite on this also makes them sound like a more friendly Killing Joke. Guess the charts can only handle so much Burundi drumming at one time.

Download: The River (12″ Version) – King Trigger (mp3)

Beyond Belief

Dah yard de odder night
when mi hear “Fire!”
“Fire, to plate claat!”
Who dead? You dead?
Who dead? Me dead?
Who dead? Harry dead?
Who dead? Eleven dead

Download: Mi Cyaan Believe It – Michael Smith (mp3)

Michael Smith was a Jamaican Dub Poet who released just the one album in 1982 before being murdered in his homeland the following year. The album was produced by his British peer Linton Kwesi Johnson, but Smith’s patois is so thick he makes Johnson sound like WH Auden so this can be hard to understand, though his passion and anguish aren’t. Words with translation here.

I heard John Peel play this one night back in ’82 and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s still mesmerizing and chilling. 

Sadly the experience of being poor or a coloured immigrant hasn’t changed much since he wrote it. We might even be going backwards. With its combination of greedy landlords trying to save money at the expense of the lives of the less well-off in one of London’s richest boroughs, the Grenfell Tower tragedy is like something out of Dickens.

Feel So Alive

I have an iTunes playlist called “Chip Shop” where I keep all the tracks I want to write about at some point, usually once I can think of something interesting to say about them or tie them into some story.

This one has been on the playlist literally for years because I can’t think of anything to say about it beyond OMG I LOVE THIS SO FUCKING MUCH! But as I’m up to my tits in work and the old blogging muse is a bit tired right now, I think that’s good enough.

I seriously think this is one of the greatest records ever made, especially in this longer mix by Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards themselves. Along with the 12″ of “Spacer” I think it’s their greatest production. So utterly sublime.

Download: Lost In Music (Nile Rogers & Bernard Edwards Remix) – Sister Sledge (mp3)

Gold Record

Though I was fully immersed in New Wave and Post-Punk by the late 70s I did still harbour a secret taste for the forbidden world of American Soft Rock. I bought singles by Toto, Boston, and Foreigner that I kept hidden under my bed along with my dirty magazines in case anyone saw them (that second bit isn’t true). This is another illicit purchase I made in 1979.

I had never heard of John Stewart before this record, but he had been a member of The Kingston Trio in the 1960s and wrote The Monkees “Daydream Believer” before becoming a cult solo artist. “Gold” was his biggest (and only?) hit due in no small part to the guest vocals of Stevie Nicks and guitar by Lindsay Buckingham. Both were flying high on Rumours fame at the time so having them appear on your record was quite the coup.

Records don’t sound much more Californian than this, a mellow groover that probably sounds great while driving a big car on a warm night. I had no problem listening to this sort of thing alongside Joy Division, and because I’m old I’m more likely to listen to it now.

Download: Gold – John Stewart (mp3)