Going Long

Some records are just too damn short. I’m sure you all have songs you love but wish they were longer, the ones with the great riffs, melodies, or grooves that you want to go on forever. This is especially true of the pre-Disco 12″ era when records weren’t given extended versions.

Isaac Hayes is no stranger to long records — his version of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” clocks in at an epic 18 minutes — but for some reason “Shaft” was only 4:37 and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of that wah-wah guitar and swishy groove. To the rescue comes YouTuber DJDiscoCatV2 who has a page full of his own, home-made extended mixes like this one which stretches out Hayes’ classic to 9 minutes — even that feels too short though.

Download: Theme From “Shaft” (Soul Purrfection Version) – Isaac Hayes (mp3)


Back To The Future

Originally published July 2009

The future used to look like such a brilliant place to live when I was a kid, all sleek and shiny surfaces, rockets, hover cars, robots and talking computers. But now that we’re actually living in what I considered “the future” back then — 2001 was eight 18 years ago! — it doesn’t seem half as exciting and the long-term outlook is a bit grim. Given the choice I’d rather live in the future of Gerry Anderson’s 1970 TV series UFO which had all the usual science fiction gizmos and vehicles, but was also a groovy-looking world of mod interiors and futuristic babes in cat suits and silver mini skirts.

I was a huge fan of the show when it was first broadcast — I even made my own SHADO badge out of cardboard — but as I was only 8 at the time I was more interested in the Interceptors and Ed Straker’s car than all the space-age dolly birds lounging around on modular furniture. But even I took notice of the girls stationed on the Moonbase who wore tight sparkly uniforms and purple wigs (the function of which has never been explained but who cares), especially Lt. Gay Ellis played by the lovely Gabrielle Drake (top) whose forceful command of “Interceptors! Immediate launch!” in that posh Head-Girl voice of hers conjured up all sorts of, um, thoughts.

Innocent though I was, I definitely had the feeling that there was more going on in the show than I understood (it had “adult” themes — ooooh) and scenes like this left a long-lasting mark on my impressionable young mind. Gabrielle, as you probably know, was the older sister of Nick Drake, though in that outfit she looks more like she’s related to David Bowie.

Unfortunately we don’t have this sexy future to look forward to as the show was set in 1980 which, far as I remember, didn’t look anything like that. Though with all the silver outfits and purple hair I like to think it predicted the look of Glam Rock.

Like all Gerry Anderson shows it had cracking theme music.

Download: UFO (Main Theme) – Barry Gray (mp3)

The Jingle Jangle Morning

Originally published July 2007

“Boy, it began to rain like a bastard. In buckets, I swear to God. All the parents and mothers and everybody went over and stood right under the roof of the carousel, so they wouldn’t get soaked to the skin or anything, but I stuck around on the bench for quite a while. I got pretty soaking wet, especially my neck and my pants. My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway. I didn’t care though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going round and round. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going round and round, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.”
J. D. Salinger
The Catcher In The Rye (1951)

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read The Catcher In The Rye (I still have my old Penguin Modern Classics copy which cost 30p) but I was the type who identified with Holden Caulfield and still am a little. He was the clever, sarcastic kid who wasn’t very good at games and was prematurely cynical about the world, but had a sentimental streak a mile wide. Holden was a teen rebel but not in any wild, living-on-the-edge, rock and roll sort of way. His awkwardness and love of childish innocence made him more of an indie-pop sort of rebel, the patron saint of quiet boys who start fanzines in their bedrooms, make mixtapes for pretty girls, or form indie bands.

Orange Juice made his influence apparent when they put out records on a label called “Holden Caulfield Universal”, but if they were to make a movie of the novel I’d nominate The Pale Fountains to supply the soundtrack. Edwyn Collins had Holden’s sardonic humour, but Fountains’ lead singer Michael Head captured his wistful yearning and fragile sensibility.

Download: Just A Girl – The Pale Fountains (mp3)

In my movie version of Catcher In The Rye I can imagine The Fountains’ lovely second single “Thank You” bursting out like fireworks over the climactic scene with Holden’s little sister spinning around on the carousel while he breaks down in tears at the transcendent beauty of it all. With it’s soaring crescendos of strings there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

Download: Thank You – The Pale Fountains (mp3)

By the time their debut album Pacific Street finally emerged in 1984 they had competition from new bands like the even more bookish and precious Prefab Sprout (who wrote songs based on Graham Greene novels). Flop though it was, the album did produce their best ever moment in the majestic single “(Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War” which was called “You’ll Start A War” on the album but was made even more swoon-worthy on this extended 12″ version. God I wish you could’ve been there.

Download: (Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War (12″ version) – The Pale Fountains (mp3)