Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Manics in Derby

This week a concert rolled round that I had been curiously looking forward to more than I had been expecting, going to see the Manics in Derby. I was looking forward to the gig because of the line up, Manics back on form, cracking new album coupled with support from British Sea Power, a good band in their own right - waving flags and No Lucifer were a couple of my favourite tunes last year (in no small part down to the 'Easy, Easy, Easy,' chorus for No Lucifer).

The evening panned out slightly differently to what I was expecting - firstly I set off to Derby late, a cardinal sin but never mind, only to find that Derby has a shocking one way system, and all street parking near where the Sat Nav said I wanted to be was full. Add this up with major roadworks meant that I was trolling round for a good 20 mins trying to find a car park, very poor, including driving the wrong way into some underground markets due to dodgy signage (not my driving probably). So this was a down, but then on an up, the venue was not what I was expecting, a quality non sticky carpeted big venue with balcony etc. A nicer version of the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton - and closer so back on an up.

But then a down - I walked into the Venue to the last Chord of British Sea Power good night! a downer again.

Half an hour later the Manics came on, this was the closest I have been in the flesh and it was an experience, James Dean Bradfield - sensible chap, looks like a good man to go for a beer with, Black Shirt, rolled up sleeves, jeans - yes a good sensible clothing look for the middle aged man with a bit of tummy (said from experience) and next to him Nicky Wire.

Now Nicky Wire was fascinating, long gangly legs, that gangled throughout. Hair which to his own admission looked like Robin Askwith from the Confessions series of films, wearing an old school tie, and camp sailors hat, lots of glamour really - and his head is huge compared to his body. Iconic.

The set was excellent - I've been a bit sniffy about the manics over the years, bought 4 albums, but always considered them one of Mrs P's bands (like the Beautiful South). However they have really added some quality new songs recently, really up there. The duet with Nina Perrson from the Cardigans (You're love alone)

also the new single (It's not war, just the end of love)

are both in my opinion right up there with any songs that they did at the pomp of Britpop.

So overall the gig finished on a real high, as expected, but not for the reason I was expecting.

The other thing about the Manics that makes me smile is my copy of their album this is my thruth tell me yours.

It makes me smile because the wobbly red line indicating the spelling mistake was obviously ignored in my early copy of the album purchased at Reddingtons Rare Records. 7/10 must try harder.

Friday, 1 October 2010


Looking back at the concerts I've seen over the years can be quite interesting, but this week 7 years ago was quite impressive. I had managed to wangle through work a jolly, and a massive jolly at that, I had been asked to Chicago, with work, i was second replacement so very jammy, to meet with parent company for a couple of days. The work trip was grand, lots of nice huge steaks and I learned that the followers of Green Bay Packers are called the Cheese Heads, a very glamourous Nick name but they do wear big triangular foam cheese hats to the games so fair play to them. My work was over by the Friday and having hub bed through New York this meant I could get 24 hours in the big apple which was very hard to turn down.

I stopped in a nice little hotel and looked out of the window in the morning with the hustle and bustle of NYC. It was time to get out and do stuff, whenever in a city in the US I will always grab the free papers, to find out what's going on, the local quality record shops etc and local culture. Having grabbed these I settled myself in a coffee shop, to watch the world passing by and get my thoughts together. Breakfast was suitably NY I felt having bagels and black coffee, years before I became addicted to star bucks venti black americanos. I did feel top of the world. Sitting there I read the free papers and found out a quality B Movie which was coming out in the US -Bubba HoTep,
this film caught my imagination as film that stars an aged Elvis Presley (post faked death) in an old folks home battling against a zombie just sounded exotically relevant to my trip and I logged the film away to check out later (and it did turn out to be a classic).

From here it was off to various locations, I have no idea the order, but I walked everywhere, seeing everything, with particular highlights being seeing the Dakota Building where Lennon was murdered on my birthday, and the Strawberry Fields memorial garden lots of random tourists sat around quietly, the MOMA (museum of modern art) as Mrs P's sophistication has rubbed off a little, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Chelsea Hotel where Nancy Was killed by Sid, where the twin towers used to be (to be fair just looked like a building site to me, and various record shops. Time Square was excellent, so much Neon and brands flashing everywhere, a pop into the MTV store was fun.

On the way back to my hotel I wandered past Maddison Square Gardens and decided to have a look in, having heard of this venue many times, and my luck was in, double luck in fact, REM were playing, result, but so was the fact that they had not sold out, so I bought a ticket and was back ready to watch later.

They were great, as were Sparklehorse the supper. Michael Stipe was in blue face phase, and I had a couple of young American lasses sat beside me who seemed to be impressed with my English Accent, I must have hid the Brummie well that day.

Do I remember much more, well no, but it was cracking to have had such a 24 hours before heading back to Blighty.......and there is talk of another Jolly to come, once every 7 years, bonus.

I suppose my lack of gig memory is largely due to my not having followed REM when they were cult etc, but where REM have evolved for me is from a band who did a cracking song when I was at school (Shiny Happy People) borrowing one of the B-52's who I did like a lot, and then decided that that song was not grand so they would distance themselves and not play it. It always annoyed me that they were seen as this incredibly cool band and the B-52's a bit of a novelty, to be fair perfectly justified, but then I have listened as the whole world has over the years and have come to appreciate some absolutely cracking tunes, Crush with Eyeliner is top drawer, and the end of the world at the gig to round things off (at what Stipe considered was his hometown gig) was particularly amazing.......

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Charlatans at V Festival 2010

The Charlatans are a band I have had quite an interesting relationship with over the years, and are now filed under the status of one of my top 10 favourite bands, but that is a status they have not held for too many years. My first awareness of the Charlatans was at school and the purchase of the 7 inch single of 'the only one I know' . This now holds a special place in my affection being the first genuinely indie song that I had ever bought. The song was so different due to the driving organ sound throughout, it instantly grabbed my attention, and is probably the reason why I have held The Charlatans in such high regard ever since as there are close links with the organs coming from The Stax stable of records.

The 7 inch did not instantly embed itself as a classic, I always loved it, but I loved every 7 inch (in fact every bit of vinyl purchased) with a passion. It got played a lot, made the trip to uni with me, got copied onto lots of mix tapes but was just in amongst the crowd. In fact in do have a bit of a blind spot between there's no other way by blur and this single and have to concentrate not to mix them up.

Then the Charlatans were lost to me for a number of years until the collection Melting Pot and the eruption of Britpop which they jumped on the tails of. Melting Pot was a cracking collection, introducing wierdo and can't get out of bed plus the Britpop staples of How high and North Country Boy set The Charlatans up there as one of my faves of the era, but no better than the Mansuns and Casts of this world.

So they then got themselves elevated by the simple fact that they have stayed around, created quality albums and reinvented themselves. I think the transition to legendary status came when they released the Wonderland album. This was a revelation as Tim Burgess sang the album in falsetto, and the tunes really stood up to the treatment.

On release, as I was heavily into the NME on a weekly basis they gave it favourable comments, normally the ex Britpop releases were passed over with a brief 7/10 if lucky and I seem to remember it getting compared to Curtis Mayfield -high praise indeed. But this was a style kept for one album, before evolving again and again on subsequent albums. They have not stopped still, a fact that shone through in their set at V this year, songs from a load of different albums all greeted with great affection, See Blackened Blue Eyes for an example of the quality recent output.

In fact the Charlatans were in the forefront of giving away their album free to the public but by the cooler medium of Xfm radio station rather than the daily mail, they did however get overshadowed by the whole Radiohead, In Rainbows phenomena (pay what you want for the biggest release of the year)

The final reason for their elevation to (borrowing a phrase from the NME) Godlike genius was I found out that the bulk of the band are Brummies, and Tim Burgess now living in LA means Manchester can't claim this chameleon of bands really any more, so they are a home town band!

So why was V 2010 special, yes the set was good, and the perfect way to finish the Festival in the Union tent (despite the band huddle after three songs for a quick blocking from Tim I imagine)' but that was not the reason, the reason was my meeting the band, in the signing tent, getting signed cd and poster, shaking hands with the band, getting my photo taken, and the official picture of me and Tim Burgess being shown on the NME website, a thrill in itself given my history with that publication.

Even the queuing was an experience, as having come from seeing Lissie (quality tunes and pipes and was on the front row) I went to queue for the signing tent, but I was a little early and the queue had some Lissie fans in front, I thought i might meet Lissie for a minute, but the 2 die hard Charlatan fans in front of me, who had been queuing for hours already made it clear that anyone over the age of 19 was not allowed to see Lissie, so I stayed put and was very pleased to have done so. As I stood watching Paul Wellers set from the side of the main stage waiting for the Charlatans I got more and more excited until then it was time, I made the day of the chap in front of me, being his official photographer, I think he was more excited as the photos he took for me were a tad blurry, but igit to meet all the band and was suitably star struck just being able to shake hands and say thanks to everyone in the band. At least I recovered enough by the time I met Tim Burgess (last on the line) to say how much I love the band and to get him to shake my hand for the official picture with the nme.

Superb, superb, superb physical product (signed up at the lake cd) which is now framed on my wall. Happy days.

(and I did feel sorry for Lissie, due to the popularity of the Charlatans, only 8 people met her in her signing, but I'm sure they all had a good long chat!)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

James Brown's I Feel Good - for the sick

James Brown was an iconic larger than life individual, the Godfather of Soul, which meant that it was only him, Elvis and Michael Jackson who had their own iconic names in my life. Unless you counted Sir William of Idol which Billy had been christened by Smash Hits magazine. My first experiences of James Brown came from the Blues Brothers - a superb cult movie with a soundtrack that provided me with a love of stax soul music that endures to this day and probably more importantly from the cd that I had bought for me, James Brown's the best of. This was an important cd as, arriving in 1987 it was one of the very first I got to play on my lovely new cd player, (funded ironically by my Dad despite my telling him for at least 12 months that cd's were inferior to vinyl and I would never be getting a cd player, I have no idea why Dad succumbed to my wining to get one subsequently, I would have made have given him a load of grief. I think it arrived for doing my GCSE's but I'm not too sure).

It was interesting how I came to get James Brown's greatest hits, because I didn't have to buy it myself, Mom bought it under my direction, because......... I was poorly, and as it came out in 1987 I guess I was 15 at the time and stuck at home with a temperature feeling sick. This was a very rare occasion, I don't remember many instances of being at home being poorly, missing an early Rich Bennett birthday party, getting a day off school by spinning round and round in the hall until I felt sick, amazingly, one time when I received Muffit the Daggit from Battlestar Galactica and this instance. I probably was ill quite a lot as every child was on reflection, but those were memorable, as was the day I got The Best of James Brown. Actually it was quite amazing to be bought a cd, because they cost a fortune in 1987, at £13 which seemed to be the going rate they cost the same as a couple of lp's but a quarter of my season ticket down the blues and a lot more than toys, and Mom and Dad were sensible in lavishing gifts on us as money was quite scarce.

The disk was well spun, partly because it was one of the few I had but also because James Brown's tunes were very accessible to the young Neil whose music taste was quite limited - I feel good and sex machine were crackers to bounce around to as was Living in America - which was already a firm favourite as it featured on the Rocky 4 soundtrack. Now this was an iconic movie, and one I had bought the soundtrack of on lp. I went to see this at the odeon cinema in Sutton, without parents, which was great, and the cinema seemed to be filled with people from school. It was the scene of one of my coolest moments when I was sat some way back and launched (what was either a minstrel or a little round mint, the sort that you get from a curry house) a sweet forward in the daylight and it bounced with a satisfying 'thunk' off the head of one of the square boys from my class. It was a great bounce, no doubt embellished in my memory, but it bounced up in the air in my memory and the whole school saw and admired it, with me taking a bow. But in actual fact I was probably limited to accidentally hitting the lad, feeling embarrassed and sinking into my seat looking behind me to deflect the blame to the naughty kids at the back, but I like my memorys version better, as I was cool for a second.

With such a love of the record, it seems strange that when I went to V99 with Mrs P some years later, and the legendary James Brown was headlining the second stage I didn't push myself to the front. But I was caught in the grip of Britpop and the manics were on the main stage so I tried to do both, which meant loitering at the back of James Browns audience, which was massive unsurprisingly, waiting to hear a loved tune before heading to hear the manics singing a design for life. But this plan did not work, I didn't know that James Brown's show consisted of lots of acting and introductions before he took to the stage, so much that we got bored of the intros, and left, to see the Manics, who I can't remember anything about at all, and JB is now dead so I won't get to see him, Pish. I am sure he was ace eventually, the NME said so in ironic terms.

Amazing what memories the cd brings back. This was also in hind sight the first cd that I took full advantage of the skip function and program function to create ...... A playlist....... as songs, get up, papas got a brand new bag, gonna have a funky good time, gravity, America and i got you I feel good definitely got loads more spins that the others, but actually looking at the reverse of the CD, all of the tracks resonate really well, I may listen again in the way to the office now......

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My Life Story meets Ronnie Scotts

The Golden Mile is a great cd, the second album by My Life Story a band riding on the cusp of britpop and not really crossing over to any great extent. I read about them, as I did with many bands in NME and remember seeing them live in the white room, a cracking music show fronted by Mark Radcliffe. The next day they were coming to Brum to promote the single on a mini tour and doing things differently by playing the far more prestigious Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club rather than the flapper and firkin. The venue was more appropriate for My Life Story as they had an air of the theatrical about them, strings the normal and single to be promoted (twelve reasons) a really theatrical production.

I loved it when bands I liked appeared at Ronnies but previously this had been limited to 80's revival gigs (when 80's revival gigs were not trendy at all and hence played these little venues, witness Howard Jones and Toyah both of whom had a profound impact on my love of music). I loved it particularly because at my work it was a very closely guarded secret that we had corporate membership to Ronnies, so closely guarded it seemed just to be me who knew. The membership entitled people to phone up and get 8 free tickets and the days before email this was not publicized around the office. I must have had the secret passed onto me on a drunken night, in some initiation, but rather than take clients and entertain them (presumably the reason for the membership) I would entertain family and friends as i did not have too much spare cash then (the wage of £9k didn't stretch to too many gigs). In fact the membership was so secret that when I passed on the fact to another person and they tried to book, they were asked whether they had had the booking approved, 'no who should they get it approved by' was the response, and the answer was me. I was seen as the key person behind my company when in actual fact I was the lowest of the low, oh the power!

Ronnies was a Great venue, dark with cabaret tables or benches serving food whilst the gig was on, really civilized. I am not too sure what it looks like now as when Ronnie Scotts ran into financial difficulties, it became The Rocket Club, a lap dancing club that must be doing ok as it is still there today, I wonder if they still serve meals in baskets in between dances?

The gig itself was great as I met the enigmatic Jake Shillingford, the first time I had met anyone who I considered cool. I have met many since and struggle to get more words out than just 'hello, I think you are great and I love your music'. Today was the same but I got my first autograph, on the picture from the NME so I must have been prepared and planning to meet them, 'best wishes Jake.' I also had the excitement of standing at the urinal next to one of the support act which again was quite exciting, he had nice shoes I recall, zebra skin effect. But both of these meetings (in the loosest sense of the word) led me to realise that these glamourous individuals on vinyl cd and tele were in fact very normal people whose clothes up front were a lot less glamourous than when seen from the audience or on tv. Probably due to sweating into a suit, something I know from hot days in the office is not very glam at all.

But I do remember loving them and the gig, the sound was so different to the bulk of britpop, and felt really theatrical, like Mark Almond crossed with Jarvis Cocker. I have to admit I loved the gig more than seeing Oasis at Knebworth which happened within 7 days. Obviously I never told anyone at the time, (uncool) but probably reflected in the fact that whilst I own all of oasis's albums, I own all of My Life Storys albums, plus all of the various singles, in multiple formats, (they really did stretch out the bsides with different interpretations of the same song) and recently bought Jakes next bands debut album Exileinside (a good ebay purchase for £1)

The physical product of the album did create a conundrum that I have faced a number of times with 2sides of my personailty vying for supremacy. The album came as a limited edition little book version with a nice picture of the 11 members (yes count them 11) of the band in the centre, (not surprising the neve made it big with cash being split 11 ways). So

Question - do I buy the limited edition (a Great edition to my music collection) but one that was outsized and did not fit on my cd shelves, forever to sit in a little pile with the Pixies greatest hits and Spiritualised ladies and gentlemen in the stupid pill box

or do I get the regular shaped boring disc that will fit pleasingly to the eye on the cd racks, and meet my slight case of OCD.

Well it tends to be limited editions every time, and a special shelf has been built for the outsized Duran Duran albums complete with separate DVD and book et al, although are the extras bits ever listened to, watched or read?.........

Friday, 6 August 2010

On this week 1 - Roundhay Park free Britpop Festival

In 1995 I was gripped in the fever of Britpop, in love with Suede but desperate to get hold of anything that I was told by Q, NME, Melody Maker and Select was part of the Stuart Maconie named Britpop scene. Every week with my new found wage resulted in a trip to HMV in Sutton or a trail round the record shops in Brum, particularly Reddingtons Rare Records who provided all CDs at half price on a Saturday and had shelved packed with promos (an album always felt much more special if itched gold writing embossed saying it was not for resale) and imports from the states.

In 1995 an adventure was to follow though, a road trip to see the free Britpop festival in Leeds. I am not really sure how it arose but me and Mrs P had tickets along with my ex and her new fella from uni in Sheffield (nice chap with good long indie hair I seem to recall). Getting there is resigned to history but must have been a bit of a challenge arriving in my beige metro (I can't believe that I drove a beige metro for a good 3 years everything about that car was shit) but I remember walking into the park quite clearly very excited for what seemed miles and into a cracking natural amphitheatre. I believe that the festival had 2 stages but being a festival virgin I was only interested in the main stage because it featured no less than Salad (like a granite statue) Powder (sh sh sh shave me) Marion (heroine fuelled) Menswear (breathe deeper, day dreamer criminally underated and lost to the hype myth) sleeper (just my inbetweeeeener) culminating in the headliners Pulp. Seeing Jarvis up there in front of many thousand fans, with them in the palm of his hand was superb and probably fuelled my love of all things Britpop one hundredfold. I love to see a headliner with the audience in the palm of his hand, chatting nonchellantly through the set, it's a rare gift that very few manage.

It's funny what memories stay with you, do I remember the sun setting over the field, or perhaps the dancing with Mrs P to a bit of Razamatazz, no, what I do remember is eating noodles from the vans that stood around the side of the field.

Looking back this was an amazing free experience, and one that I rate Heinekan highly for as a result. Do I think that a free festival with back to back performances of my favourite bands who were the next big things is likely again? - well no, but luckily festivals were not on every weekend as they are now and somehow I managed to get a ticket. Superb, but in actual fact, probably well worthwhile for the bands as I feel I may well have repaid them for their performances as I own every album they have done and a great many cd singles (in multiple) formats.

Great tunes

Pulp's cruelly missed Razamatazz


Powders sing along Shave me

Dirty Dancing at the drive in

I didn't really know what to expect having signed up to watch Dirty Dancing at Weston Park in the drive in yesterday. Drive in movies were something American from the movies and the RAC who sponsored the event did not conjour up the same images that grease used to when I was a kid. But having convinced Mrs P that this was a good use of Friday night and got Mom in to baby sit we hared over to Weston Park. The setting was lovely, we drove into the grounds an hour before the show and there were deer roaming around, many doing a great impression of bambi. When we arrived we found loads of enthusiastic staff showing us the ropes, giving out free gifts and handing over headsets which we could use or tune the radio in. First mistake of the night had been having some tea because the RAC provided us with vouchers for a free tea from Gourmet Burger. Cracking Chips and a nice burger with a massive lettuce leaf which would have been nicer if not resting on a BLT sarnie. Then the pre match entertainment, a quiz, with the MC resplendent with roving mike running around asking questions of the audience shouting with arms aloft in return for skaletrics sets themed on Top Gear. The questions ticked through and Mrs P had all the Dirty Dancing answers down but we did not get near a win until the penultimate question. What is the closing song from the Italian Job (subject of tomorrows film) - easy as number 1 son is obsessed by the mini car movie, up shot my hand as quick as a flash and the MC was staring straight at me, as he came towards me I had a moment of geek nervousness - was it a trick, could it be 'on days like these' I remember that song and was that the closing titles, I began to panic but luckily the MC went to the lad in the mini before he got to me, he would surely know the answer but mumbled something with society, the MC gave him a second, said no, and headed on, up shot my hand, he came to me, and into the Mic I said , 'I think it's the self preservation society' correct! And the exchange for a fantastic Childs toy (massive box worth £100 per Amazon) happened, I did feel like a champion having won my boy his Christmas pressie.

The sun came down and the movie commenced, lots of honking of horns and then we settled down to what I hate to admit being a bloke but a classic film. I have probably seen it a couple of times with Mrs P but in that arena watching the big screen in the open air, soundtrack blasting from the speakers was cracking, even better with the window open and a bit of fresh air. Within 5 minutes I had been reminded why I bought the soundtrack too as we had had ' do you love me' followed by another cracker. But I must admit my favourite bit was the classic 80's montage moment when backed by wipeout - a cracker of a tune, the heroine of the feature learned how to wiggle her steps across a little white bridge getting better and better.

Free popcorn was provided and the show finished to rapturous applause from the crowd. An incredibly orderly exit sorted by the happy RAC marshals and their young children in orange coats followed and me and Mrs P left having had a fantastic evening. It felt like we had discovered a little gem that no one else knew about, an amazing evening for £15.

It was interesting that this movie compared to the others I loved in the 80's (Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Lost Boys) hasn't dated, probably because it is set in the 60's and is still set in the 60's.


Listening to this brings that memory flooding straight back Do You Love Me ........ and a cracking soundtrack album no home should be without.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Salt -n- Pepa and lashings of hard work

In the Virgin trains magazine today was a lot of retro reminiscing about the 80's which is flavour of the month at the moment due to the joyous A team remake (a highlight of my year used to be returning from a 4 week summer holiday to watch 4 episodes of the A team taped on Dad's £700 video recorder. It seems amazing how important this was and how much anticipation me and my sister had for this event. It was summed up in the year when the timer recording did not work properly and how gutted we felt) and other sundry things. Interestingly it wasn't the Ateam or Karate kid movies or even the Live action Danger Mouse theatrical performance (is there any brand out there that will die?) that caught my eye, but the news that Salt n Pepa were reforming to perform at a London Festival.

Now I have fond memories of Salt n Pepa and am instantly transported to the purchase of the greatest hits as a youngster, a bargain cd purchase, played on a CD Walkman whilst undertaking manual labour for my Gran and Grandad. I didn't do a lot of the manual labour but one summers day I had the joys of earning some spends whilst back from Uni by clearing a road that had overgrown the access to a gateway that was to be used again. The over grown gate was covered in nettles and brambles and it was very hot, I ended up hot sweaty scratched and stung. With the greatest hits blasting away (and the threat of batteries running out at any moment) I seemed to labour for hours to the tunes of Push it, shake your thang, let's talk about sex and all (funnily enough I would never have told my Gran I was listening to a song with the word sex in the title).

A great sense of achievement was gained from this labour and in hindsight it was something I should have done loads more of in my youth to spend more time with Gran and Grandad but my visits were limited to this........ and adventures on 'the ride on mower' - a fantastic hulk of a machine, petrol driven and probably about as fast as my first car. I remember making up quite complex games speeding round and round in circles based on Formula 1 to keep myself interested, and particularly listening to the inevitable first relegation of Birmingham City to the old 3rd division on the day of the Bradford City fire tragedy.

But I do have a soft spot for Salt n Pepa, their poppy brand of rap really hit the spot and Push it was an inspired song that filled many a Rugby Club disco. I am sure they felt pretty radical at the time but having read their wiki page it makes me smile to think these radicals were called Cheryl and Sandra which I will happy refer to them in the future.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Communards - Celebrity lookalike !

The Communards are what one might call a guilty pleasure, had I not over the last few years come to recognise that I have a particularly eclectic set of musical tastes and that should I need to run through the list of records that I had purchased, then something such as the Communards would be seen as particularly cool when sat next to my Sam Fox LP, remix LP 12' singles and picture discs.

The Communards, and this particular tune, struck a chord with me back at school, when I distinctly remember myself and a friend, interestingly the only other person from my school who supported the same football team as me - Birmingham City - singing this tune at ridiculously high pitched range whilst twirling round with arms outstretched faces looking heavenward and eyes closed. Well my eyes were closed, not sure whether Alison's were (his name wasn't Alison but he had bought his sisters lunch box to school earlier and the nickname had stuck much to his disgust).

This form of dancing has surfaced many time subsequently, however only when under the influence, and often to far cooler tunes - The Stone Roses at Indie Discos (Ramshackle in town a good example) had the same effect a few times. It is quite an art to master when spinning round with a beer in hand, eyes closed without the expected bumping spilling outcome, which inevitably did arise, with a comment along the lines of 'watch out baldy' I would imagine.

The phrase 'watch out Baldy' brings out another link I have had later in life with the Communards, or Jimmy Somerville in particular. Now I am not sure that there is anything more than being folically challenged in this but. When at work the celebrity look alikes were dished out, Jimmy Somerville was mine, as was Phil Mitchell, and Grant, and Phil Collins and sundry other 'celebrities' who had no hair. But Jimmy Somerville stuck for a little while and this song cropped up being sung again, but without the swirling dance moves in the office. Although Karaoke was always a favourite..... and now you come to mention it.......

On the 12', purchased from a very reputable car boot sale, is another cracking extra long remix of

followed by b-sides resplendent in piano

and the live recording from the BBC of Czardas a traditional hungarian folk dance, which if you listen to it, you will recognise it and consider, briefly, crouching down and flinging legs out, before realising this is not the way forward.

Overall great value for money for the 50p outlay (I didn't even haggle)

The final thing to say about the tune is that it is one that does surface every now and then when I am thinking about Mrs P, I may have lost my hair, but there is a romantic soul deep down...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Transvision 12 inch memories

The weekend held the catch up with a number of friends & acquaintances that I have not seen in some instances for the 20 years since leaving school. The topics discussed started with where people lived (a number surprisingly still in the locale) and whether people had kids (it seems second generations of kids have been playing together without anyone knowing) and finding out what people do for a living, a surprising amount in IT and surprising people to have gone into the teaching profession.

When a few more beers had been quoffed, to top up the one for dutch courage before going out the discussions got into good old fashioned reminiscing.... about all manner of things, a particular favourite being how in assembly people would borrow hymn books and then launch them over the balcony at the back of the hall, making life difficult for the Jehovah's witnesses (not allowed to sit with us) who had to dodge them and random shoes. Plus the fact that at every assembly the same gag was played on the unsuspecting individual sitting at the end of the row, by sliding the seats along one place (they were linked together) during the hymn when standing, sitting down resulted in a member of class falling flat on his backside - this happened so many times and we never got into any grief about it - probably because the teachers found the site funny too. This reminiscing really brought me out in fits of giggles - I had been transported back 20 years.

We did get to the topic of music once however, a really good friend of mine reminded me of our trip to see Transvision Vamp, and the legendary Wendy James. This was at the Aston Villa leisure centre - a real hole of a venue, better suited to basket ball than seeing the years heart throb belting out hits such as Revolution Baby, I want your love and the only one.

The video for the only one nicely summed up the feel of the concerts if not the level of sweat

A couple of things stand out from this concert (the middle of 3 visits to the Villa leisure centre to see Wendy and the Gang, the third being in support of the 3rd album never released in the UK 'Little Magnets versus the Bubble of Babble' and a concert that I could not entice anyone to come with me - oh how times changed in that 2 year career).

The first was I drove, in my beat up mini, that overheated all the time, with my newly installed cassette tape player that I had spent all weekend installing and was very proud of, but found that it played tapes slowly which was not too flash.

The second was that this was my first gig when I was thrust into the mosh pit from the start of the gig to the end, I have never been in a hotter place. Jeff, Fitz and I were soaking and on returning to the car steamed it up in shocking fashion, but I did encounter a catastrophe which haunted me for quite some time. I invested at the beginning of the gig in some over priced merchandise, a cracking tour programme, which I now realise was a single sheet folded.

Now the issue I had was I purchased this (piece of paper that cost as much as an album!) before Wendy came on stage, and I went in Jeans and T Shirt, so naturally when I went moshing, to hold onto it I shoved it up my T Shirt and ended up with a wonderful purple paper mache blob, with one small salvagable image (bottom left tiny pic flicking hair - I can still remember after 21 years!).

This didn't stop my enthusiasm for the band but spurred me on to buy every 12' they ever produced, in fact everything they ever released on Vinyl, and this was the era of great 12' mixes.

So the first 12' I bought from Wendy and still cherish was I Want your love, with

and B sides

These were the start of a lot of 12 inches and lots of memories to return to in time.....

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Welcome to the Monkey House - 20 years since school

Todays entry reminisces on a song that I have only purchased through the joys of Ebay but brings the pleasures of the last year of school racing back. Why's that in mind, because on Saturday I am off to a reunion in a pub to celebrate 20 years since I left 6th form.

This pub, the Station was the pub where we would congregate in the beer garden, no matter what the weather as many were under age. Buy bottles of grolsch with flash tops for a pound and generally try to chat to any girls we new. The pub was always rammed and a great venue to rush to after working at Asda on the tills for £3 per hour, I felt rich with that wage.

The tune 'Welcome to the Monkey House' was a staple in all the parties that year, (it was released in 1984 so no doubt had been a staple for a few years), at Shenstone, Spartans or the Rugby Club and would immediately result in everyone bouncing about in the middle of the dance floor bumping into one another. Every weekend had a party, celebrating a birthday of someone or other, it didn't matter who so long as you got an invite, which everyone seemed to. I seem to recall at the time dodgy kids from other schools all attending but the level of violence and drugs was nil, all alcohol experimentation, a particular favourite being the Purple Nasty, snake bite and pernod and black, so the worst you had was a vomiting mate waiting for parents to take him home.

But going back to the tune, it was an incredible buzz to hear the first few bars and would immediately result in a 'here hold this' to which ever young lady was being chatted to and a sprint to the dance floor. From what I recall the dance moves were not too hard, they consisted of bouncing up and down whilst moving in and out of a circle, in fact a mixture between baggy trousers and New York New York (which ended said parties).

I didn't know anything about the artist at the time, and now from what I can gather the band was the starting point for Paul Caplin, he signed to emi and supported Duran Duran but he didn't enjoy the constraints. He was then part of Haysi Fantayzee (in the background whilst his girlfriend was in the foreground) before ditching music to get into computing in a really successful way. He won an Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year award and is allegedly looking to get funding for more development, quite a left turn in career.

The B side is interesting, but not a patch on on the single which does not seem to have charted so no wonder I never managed to buy it in Woolies, Boots, Smiths or HMV.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Westworld: Sonic Boom Boy

Westworld were a band I found out about in school, a random lad enthused about this single and at the weekend I went and bought it and fell in love with it. The strange thing was when on Monday I sat behind him in French I think and told him about what a fantastic single it was he just looked blankly at me making me think I had dreamed the whole episode. But his loss really was my gain and Westworld despite only charting with 4 singles have become a major part of my record collection and if this catches on I will write more about them. But Sonic Boom Boy was the start.

I have the single twice, my version from school and also one from a record fare in Liverpool Uni student union. This was purchased because it was signed by all 3 members of the band (as shown in the photo) Bob Derwood Andrews (from Generation X) Elizabeth Westwood (fabulous American voice and pretended to be Elvis on the cover of Silver Mac) and the other one. These record fairs were another great way to miss lectures and to thumb through hundreds of tapes 7's and albums for that missing Sigue Sigue Sputnik promo.

I always wondered why Derwood had signed the single 'Wiggle Derwood' . Was this a second Nickname, or something that related to a discussion with the fan he had signed the record for. In the early days of the Internet I got the chance to find out as I briefly sent emails back and forth with him. Whilst I did find out some interesting facts about where to go in LA on holiday I was disappointed to find out that he had no idea why he signed it thus and so the mystery will remain. I was also left missing an answer to why Andrews, Westwood and the other one were credit on the KLF album with a writing credit. As was he! That comment shows how anoraky I was about Westworld and I seem to remember writing to Q with an article to put in the where are they now bit. (the answer being in the US writing and recording as Moondogg).

The third Sonic Boom Boy format I got was again from a record fair. A hand made promo sprayed by the band. One of 500 and Ebay provided a second one of these 500 I hope the other 498 don't turn up because after a pint or two I will purchase them I know I will. This was a nice one to get - record fare at the NEC - as being hand sprayed I now owned something I imagined the band had been creative with in their own homes.

and the music........ it was like nothing else in the charts and for me is pretty timeless borrowing from the past and infusing with the cutting edge (for the time), so now that would mean borrowing from the past and a bit more of the later past. A nice line in samples which every now and then I will come across in a film and it will throw me back to my school days. It was nice to hear it used for a Sony Centres advert recently as it had me bouncing up and down with my little boy in the front room.

The A side, with possibly Hi Tech or low budget video, really bounced along and Mark Radcliffe said he had a soft spot for it on his Radio Show when played

The B sides that came with this were an interesting mix:

On the 12' was Bubble Bo Duddley a tribute to Bo Diddley and then a rap done by Elizabeth impossible Mission

The promo edition that was hawked round record companies included this remix, Sonic Boom Beat with a lot of additional samples - ahh, the joys of 12' remixes

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

No 1. Prince - Purple Rain - Multiple Formats

With Prince releasing his new album 20Ten through the Mirror at the weekend (and being provided a physical product by the Father in Law - nice one) it provided me with the impetus to do something I had been meaning to get round to, capture the memories music evokes for me, if for no better reason than my boy and girl won't have the joy of buying CD's, tapes and vinyl in record shops for weeks on end, and hence may not feel the way I do about tunes.

Prince's Purple Rain is the ideal place to start as I have more physical versions of this Album than any other.

The first copy arrived in school, not on the day of release, but when the chap I sat next to got bored of his tape (and Wham!'s make it big) and offered it to me in return for a blank tape so he could tape the charts. Without the pocket money for albums, but with availability of Dad's box of blank tapes, it seemed an easy way to expand my music collection.

Unfortunately this album saw the one and only piece of censorship in our household that I can remember, and quite clearly. I used to get the joys of listening to an album on the way back and forth to swimming twice a week on the car stereo and slipped Purple Rain in with the usual fodder of Madness, Adam Ant and Shakey. We got through a few listens, no doubt with Dad being zoned out, but suddenly the album was never to be played again, with no explanation. In hindsight certain of the lyrics to Darling Nikki may have contributed .....(innocent days and an embarrassed Dad not wanting to get into this I guess)

The LP arrived a few years later, complete with a slit taken out of it, from Power Cuts Record Shop in Manchester. A bargain in the 90's at 69p. Power Cuts opened a whole new world in record collecting as annually LP's with the slits (due to being imported I believe) were flogged off cheap in legendary sales and the poor student I was got too excited and came away with Armful's of LP's (some of which never received a rotation).

Power Cuts is discussed eloquently here and it seems that others have equally bulked record collections of dubious note but remember Power Cuts fondly:

The CD arrived to further bulk out my University record collection (I was keen to improve my CD collection having been bought a CD player for passing my A Levels), via one of many trips to 'the big HMV in Liverpool' a decent stroll down from the Union, but one I seemed to make most days. HMV's regular 3 CD's for £20 seemed like such a bargain 15 years ago....... in fact such a bargain that a lot of my student grant!!! went this way rather than on books, food (the Missus reminds me I lived on Sausages and Ketchup at Uni which seems to be my boys favourite food now - a child prodigy obviously) and clothes (the home knitted grey baggy cardi meant I did not need to buy many other clothes) but not rather than Aldi Vodka.

The DVD - Region 1, was brought back from the last minute holiday to Vegas (£243 all in for a week with a car if you go today) having trawled the local record shops for CD's and DVD's which I would continue to do for a number of years.

But the final over riding memory from this album was only a year or so ago when Prince decided to do his residency at the O2. Seeing a spare ticket sent round on email, I thought I would go along for Nostalgia's sake, not having played the album in years. On arriving Prince looked the same as in 1984 and when the opening bars to Purple Rain started ........

......... the hairs on my arms just stuck up on end.

Will sitting in front of my computer downloading mp3's evoke such memories in the future for my boy and girl.......................