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)


Jungle Groove

I think most people here know that the Happy Mondays’ “Step On” was a cover of John Kongos’ 1971 hit “He’s Gonna Step on You Again”, but I didn’t know until recently that they also covered his follow-up “Tokoloshe Man” on the b-side of their 1991 single “Judge Fudge”.

Kongos was from South Africa and the groove of “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” uses a tape loop of African drumming while “Tokoloshe Man” sounds like Slade playing Afrobeat. I’m not surprised the Mondays were drawn to these which both have shaggy, stomping beats right up their own ramshackle alley. Kongos never says “You’re twisting my melon, man” though, that’s all Shaun Ryder.

Download: He’s Gonna Step on You Again – John Kongos (mp3)
Download: Tokoloshe Man – John Kongos (mp3)

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

Because it is now officially summer and I’m being too lazy to think of anything else here’s a happy sunny tune. This is one of several songs from the musical Hair that were hits in the summer of 1969. My mum didn’t have this record but it’s one of those Sunshine Pop tunes that was always in the air when I was a kid.

They really don’t write lyrics like “Sabba sibby sabba, Nooby abba dabba” anymore.

Download: Good Morning Starshine – Oliver (mp3)