Kinky Beats

Who among us hasn’t felt like a good spanking once in a while? I know I have.

Download: Spank (12″ Disco Version) – Jimmy “Bo” Horne (mp3)

This is a fantastic bit of dirty Disco-Funk from 1978. One of those records you can hear the blueprint for House music in.


Old Money

I’m old enough to remember when Britain still used pounds, shillings, and pence for currency before the nation switched to the decimal system in February 1971. You would think a system based on units of ten would be easier to figure out than one that used twelves — in the old money 12d = 1 shilling and 20 shillings = 1 pound (or 240d) — but for a lot of people it wasn’t. Despite a long government campaign explaining it, the supermarkets and grocers were full of confused old ladies complaining they didn’t understand this new-fangled money.

But us kids all thought the new coins were great and couldn’t wait to get some because they were new and shiny and grown-ups didn’t like them. I do miss the old money names though, like a Tanner (sixpence), Bob (shilling), Guinea (21 shillings), Half a Crown (two shillings and sixpence). The thrupenny bit was a nice heavy little coin to hold in your grubby kid hands too, and a paper 10-bob note felt like a more special gift from an Uncle than a 50p coin.

There have been enough cover versions of “Money” over the years to earn a very large pile of shillings for its composers, and this is one of the newer ones I like. This was a bonus track on a limited-edition CD release of Charli’s Sucker album and sounds more like she’s covering The Flying Lizards than the original.

Download: Money (That’s What I Want) – Charli XCX (mp3)

Blonde Ambition

I have a confession to make: My name is Lee and I bought the first two singles by Marilyn.

Not Monroe or Manson, I’m talking about the cross-dressing friend of Boy George and fellow Blitz Kid “face” who shared a squat with him in his pre-Culture Club days. That second-hand fame got him a record contract when labels went looking for another flamboyant and sexually ambiguous singer to follow the huge success George was having in the early 80s.

Because he was seen someone who was only famous because of who he knew and what he looked like, Marilyn was considered a bit of a joke and the ultimate in style over substance. But, surprisingly, he could actually sing and these first couple of singles from 1983 were pretty good if very much cut from the same cloth as Culture Club’s pop-soul. 

And I have to say he did look gorgeous.

Download: Calling Your Name (12″ Version) – Marilyn (mp3)
Download: Cry And Be Free – Marilyn (mp3)

Latin Lovers

“Gaudete” is a 16th century carol which gave folk-rockers Steeleye Span an unlikely hit in 1972 and is one of only two British hit singles to be sung entirely in Latin. The other is Sarah Brightman’s version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu”. How’s that for some top trivia?

Though it’s a Christmas song I’ve always found this record to be a little creepy and scary. Maddy Prior’s voice is lovely but the male chanting sounded to me like some hooded Satanic cult about to sacrifice a virgin in a Hammer film. Didn’t help that when the song was on TOTP Pan’s People performed dressed in monk’s robes carrying candles. 

Download: Gaudete – Steeleye Span (mp3)

Very surprised to discover that Erasure also did a version of it.

Northern Soul

This record was the first time most people heard the powerful Manchester pipes of Lisa Stansfield. British sample wizards Coldcut had already made Yazz a star with their earlier single “Doctorin’ the House” and for their next trick they did the same for our Lisa in 1989 — though her career did miles better. She’d already made some records with the group Blue Zone before this without much chart luck, but the success of “People Hold On” encouraged her to go solo and her first single “All Around the World” was a monster smash.

This is what they call a real banger. A monster piano riff over a big House beat with a euphoric wave-your-hands-in-the-air chorus. It still gets me going — well it would if my hips and knees let me these days.

Download: People Hold On (Full Length Disco Mix) – Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield (mp3)

PS: Listening to this it occurred to me wonder why Adele hasn’t recorded a club banger like this. She clearly has the lungs for it — not to mention the big personality to be a proper Dancefloor Diva — but she just sticks with the same turgid sappy shite. What a waste.