New Monday

Faye Webster‘s third album Atlanta Millionaires Club came out a few months ago but only just found it’s way into my earholes. I’m glad it did because it’s a magical blend of pop, folk, country, and R&B with an Indie edge. Love it.


Just Like The Girl In Dr. No

Originally published May 2011.

Despite being inspired by a rather kitsch advertising campaign I think “I’m Mandy, Fly Me” is the greatest thing 10cc ever did, better even than the sublime magnificence of “I’m Not In Love.” Those of us old enough to remember will know that the title comes from the National Airlines advertising campaign of the early 70s (though I could have sworn it was it was Pan Am) featuring pretty air hostesses urging you to “Fly Me” which wasn’t in the slightest bit suggestive, no sir.

The song shouldn’t be that great at all given those origins, but somehow they turn this unlikely source into a beautiful Pop Art mini-movie packed with great moments and genuine pathos: the swooning, pillowy-soft beginning, the scorching guitar solo, and then the line “I felt Mandy pull me up, Give me the kiss of life, Just like the girl in Dr. No, no, no” which makes no sense if you’ve actually seen or read Dr. No but still sounds beautiful and evocative.

I don’t really like flying that much myself anymore. It’s not the thought that the plane will suddenly plunge into the sea (to the sound of a guitar solo), or the security checks and the cramped seats, but it’s the white-knuckle anxiety I now feel when the plane is taking off and you can feel the power of the roaring engines and, as it climbs into the sky you’re keenly aware that this monster vehicle is just hanging in the air. In those moments the slightest bump or shake will give me kittens and make my heart skip a beat. I never used to have the willies about flying and actively enjoyed it, but now that spoils the whole experience for me. I’d much rather take the train these days, pity those don’t go to England from here though. Maybe I just need a Mandy to soothe my anxiety with a blanket and a little bag of peanuts.

Download: I’m Mandy, Fly Me – 10cc (mp3)

The Top Shelf

Originally published October 2011

This Playboy from December 1978 was the first girlie magazine I ever bought, a rite of passage for a young man only slightly less stressful and potentially humiliating than getting your hands on a real naked woman for the first time. I was 16 at the time which meant buying it was not only nerve-wracking but also illegal, and I can still remember the superhuman effort it took to work up the courage to go in the shop (first making sure there were no other customers), quickly grab it from the top shelf and take it to the counter. “This please” I said, placing the magazine in front of the shopkeeper, trying to act as nonchalantly and cooly grown-up as I could while inside my heart was pounding like a hammer, thinking that any second now he’s going to ask me how old I am (or worse), or some woman is going to come into the shop and see what I was buying which would make me die of embarrassment. I swear I wouldn’t have been surprised if an alarm went off, a steel cage dropped down on me, and armed police stormed in to drag me out to the street for a public shaming.

Though Playboy was relatively tame and almost respectable compared to some other magazines it shared top shelf space with, that didn’t make me feel any less of a dirty little pervert (albeit an exhilarated and excited one — I did it! I bought one!) so when I got home I hid it in my bedroom cupboard under my comics, as you do. My mother had once told me she’d be more worried about me if I didn’t have any girlie magazines but I certainly didn’t want her to know I’d got it, all the therapy in the world wouldn’t have cured me of that particular mortification.

But while I vividly remember buying it I’m not sure now what made me want that particular issue so much, you’d think all that heart-pounding stress would have been for a woman I seriously fancied but Farrah Fawcett was my least favourite of Charlie’s Angels and I certainly didn’t care about NFL cheerleaders, only having the vaguest idea what those even were in the first place. Maybe it was the Gunter Grass short story. Yes, that must be it, I was buying it for the articles.

Oddly enough, I’ve never had any embarrassment problem buying condoms and never felt in the slightest bit nervous going into Boot’s, picking up a packet of Durex and handing over my money to even the most stern-headmistress type woman there. Maybe it was because one purchase proudly declares “Yes! I am a virile and desirable man who plans to have sex very soon!” while the other is a sad admission you have no chance of getting any for the foreseeable future — which was pretty much the story of my life when I was 16.

Download: Razzle In My Pocket – Ian Dury & The Blockheads (mp3)

Something for the Weekend

Kate was on a lot of TV shows at the start of her career and YouTube is full of clips of her miming songs on all sorts of cheesy music variety programs all over Europe. This one is better than most of them because she’s obviously worked out some choreography with the single camera and it’s like she’s dancing with it.