Sunday 26 October 2014

James Brown's best song titles

James Brown - godfather of soul and the hardest working man in show business - had a gift for song titles. Asking Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles if they saw "those cakes" in a hymn to butts mightn't have been his finest moment, but what a song.

For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes
I Got Ants In My Pants (And I Want To Dance)
I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)
Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants)
It's A New Day So Let A Man Come In And Do The Popcorn
Just Won't Do Right (I Stay In The Chapel Every Night)
Santa Claus Gave Me A Brand New Start
Don't Tell A Lie About Me And I Won't Tell The Truth On You
Get Up I Feel Like Being Like A Sex Machine
Turn On The Heat And Build Some Fire

Warning: if you play all of these songs it'll get "too funky in here, so open up the window and gimme some air".

Saturday 25 October 2014

John Peel offensive content

The BBC bigwigs put their Parents Music Resource Center hat on in 2004 and deemed that the delicate wallflowers who listened to grindcore and grime needed warning about "offensive content".

Undergound music had obviously gone down a seriously scatological sidestreet since Peel's favourite album of 1988, Carcass' Reek of Putrefaction, which featured such family favourites as Vomited Anal Tract and Genital Grinder.

If Peel was going to fling filth at the kids, they needed to be warned. When the list of public-spirited musicians - Albini, Gedge, The Delgados (if I remember correctly) - was exhausted Peel turned to his listeners.

I dedicated up to 30 seconds to scribble a public service announcement and then emailed it:

If colourful language, badinage of an adult nature and punk-ass kids swearing with youthful brio offends you, then you’re probably listening to the wrong programme.

We don’t question you why you’re listening, but merely ask that if you stay tuned in you should drop out and enter into the spirit of the John Peel wingding.

That very night, Peel sombrely announced that no contributions of worth had come from listeners. But the next morning I got a very excitable email from his production assistant asking me to record it, preferably on minidisc. I had a minidisc recorder (I still do - reasonable offers accepted) and breast bursting with pride that I was saving Britain's youth from unwittingly hearing about sucka MCs, I recorded my missive.

I can't say that I listened every night thereafter. There were gigs to go to and pubs to be patronised. So I don't know if I got played on the John Peel show. It's not like I made a record. But I did feel part of a community every night - and there were very many nights - I listened over the course of 18 years.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

The truth about Withered Hand and my dog

Tonight at the Scala gig, Dan said on stage I looked sad because of my dog. Let me put the record straight.

2 years ago I put up Dan - then an impoverished minstrel - after he supported a rock band in London. I left Dan in my flat when I went to work the next day. When I returned, my dog was pregnant.

Quick work, right? I'm not suggesting Dan "interfered" with my dog. You see, even then, before Dan strode the world like a rock love god, he had a magical sexual power that could impregnate animals just by looking at them.

Dan said sorry tonight, again, about my dog. It was a long time ago. I'm over it. I can't speak for the dog, but she seems ok. I was surprised that Dan said my dog was now dead. I suppose it was what she would have wanted. Had she been asked.

There's no moral here. On the way out of the venue tonight, someone asked me what I'd done to Dan's dog. This is how rumours start. There's a chance that if this blog post isn't published, I may be thought of as someone who messed around with a rock star's dog. I didn't.

It's worth concluding with the fact that I don't have a dog. I never have done. Not even an imaginary one. But this long-running joke, or shaggy-dog story if you like, is in danger of ruining the reputation of either a kick-ass rock love god (Dan) or a mithering indie milksop (me).

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Radiator Hospital: Torch Song

Torch Song is better than last year's - admittedly very fine - Something Wild album by the same magnitude It's A Shame About Ray is better than Lovey.

Like the Lemonheads, Radiator Hospital turn bone-crunching riffs into sweet pop hits. No one, surely, will need persuading to play Honeymoon Phase repeatedly. This and Blue Gown and Bedtime Story have that immediate powerpop energy that puts in a pep in your step. They'd sound great on daytime radio. Or in a car with the roof down.

Philly in 2014 is sounding as exciting as Boston in 1990. So far only Waxahatchee are getting the attention, but make space for Radiator Hospital, Cayetana, Little Big League and Strands Of Oak. Right, I'm going to play Sunburn by The Blake Babies. Then Torch Song again. And again.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Buy these records

The wiaiwya singles club hits 3 new highs. You should buy them all. Yes, they look great - these picture discs are very attractive - but, god, they sound great.

My Favorite
Ah, the sound of Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat. Dance With A Stranger is a twilit Domino Dancing. Second Empire is what Say Hello, Wave Goodbye would have sounded like if it had been recorded as the Berlin Wall came down. Somewhere in the background David Bowie is smoking a cigarette and musing on the futility of discotheques. This is, er, my favourite.

The Human Hearts (with Franklin Bruno and Jenny Toomey)
Distracted should have been Vanessa Paradis' follow up to Be My Baby. Flip it over and it's cocktail hour as Loyal Opposition brushes shoulders with The Girl From Ipanema while John Barry dims the lights and ups the atmos. It's entirely reasonable to imagine that Jenny and Franklin recorded this while wearing monogrammed pyjamas. No, this is my favourite.

As lovely as it's lonely, eagleowl match gentle menace with brooding lullaby. Life We Knew is a funereal shanty, bleakly captivating and rousing, and a reminder that the boys Yorkston and Roberts used to make records this good. Yes, they still make good records, but not quite this good. And that's just the b-side. Clean The Night is just as strong. No, this is...Oh, fuck it, they're all my favourites. Buy these records. You'll love them.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Allo Darlin: We Come From The Same Place

Allo Darlin was where they found their feet and Europe was where they learnt to run. We Come From The Same Place is where Allo Darlin are bigger, bolder and better than before.

Kings and Queens gets renewed with a sledgehammer bassline, Half Heart Necklace is the song J Mascis forgot to write, and Bright Eyes sounds like it hitched a ride on Halley's Comet.

Bright Eyes is a duet between Elizabeth Morris and guitarist Paul Rains. It makes good the weak spot, Dreaming, in their back catalogue. Where Dreaming sounded like it was played for laughs, or karaoke, Bright Eyes is confident, playful, ragged and knocked about. It reminds me in a way of Otis and Carla's Tramp. This whole album has that loose Memphis groove.

Allo Darlin didn't get this good by accident. They've toured for most of the past 5 years. They didn't get rich and famous along the way. No one does at this end of the music business. So they still play for love. And it shows. I admire Elizabeth for turning down big money last year for a Benetton advert (for using an Allo Darlin song, I think, or maybe for a photo shoot - I sometimes forget stuff I'm told in the pub).

I admire her and the band heaps more for this record. Part of me thinks it will be their last because of the normal demands of earning money, raising families and living in separate countries might get in the way of making another record. If so, they leave on a high. If not, We Come From The Same Place will ensure them a bigger audience for the next one.