Thursday, December 31, 2015

Eric Burdon

Jazz # 4 Quincy Jones

From Quincy's 1966 album, Quincy's Got a Brand New Bag where he rifles through and jazzes up a whole series of contemporary classics. Also includes great versions of Mohair Sam, Hang on Sloopy, I Got You (I Feel Good), and of course the title track. Well worth tracking down!

Great Lost Band Members # 1 Stuart Sutcliffe

I'm looking for thirty of these. We'll see how it goes. The basic premise is band members who departed their bands for one reason or another in the early days but left an indelible mark on the group they left behind and the question mark of what might have happened had they remained. Stuart Sutcliffe is obviously the original in this respect. Chose art and love over music leaving the bass to McCartney and he and Lennon to forge a closer friendship and songwriting partnership. Sutcliffe meanwhile, unfortunately didn't live long enough to truly enjoy either of the things he'd left for. 

The Supremes

Their first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Diana Ross's face throughout a picture of sheer youthful ambition!

December 31st 1960 Paul Westerberg

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 6 The Beatles

Meanwhile, back in 1966. An interesting selection for Hibbert to opt for of all the Beatles singles. A pivotal release on their part as they moved from being a live band towards being a wholly studio-based concern. It also indicated a shift in their lyrical focus and worldview:

'Neither side of the new single gave any indication of pandering to the public. 'Paperback Writer' was an extension of 'Day Tripper', that song's monolithic riff-accelerated and broken into a tumble of words, Beach Boys-in-raga harmonies, and punchy, ringing guitars. This was not a song about love, but about the mass media, performed under fierce compression, as though the images and thoughts were coming in too fast to process....

This new aloofness was mirrored by the hard shiny surfaces of the new single, designed to throw off the casual listener. Construed as arrogance and laziness, this lack of willingness to please was immediately spotted by the ever-alert fans, who queued up to give their verdict on both sides of the single in the 4 June Record Mirror. Mostly in their late teens, workers rather than bohemians, they had grown up with the group and did not much like what they heard:

Ann Shaw (23), typing pool supervisor: 'not as good as their previous hits.'

Vera Shotton (19), copy typist: 'I couldn't understand a word of what they were singing on 'Paperback Writer'. They're just not as good as they used to be - there are better groups around these days. As for 'Rain', it just dragged on and on. I didn't like it at all.'

Alan Herrick (18), apprentice compositor: 'I didn't like 'Paperback Writer' much. It seemed to be too much the same. I preferred 'Rain', it has more of a tune to it.'

From Jon Savage's 1966.

Note to trainspotters: Lennon and Harrison are singing 'Frere Jacques' as the central backing melody of the third chorus.

Song of the Day # 711 Petite League

The last day of 2015. A final plug for a record put out this year. Though it's not an actual album, except in digital form. From a duo from Syracuse in New York State. Reminds me a little of things like Real Estate, Cloud Nothings and vocally there's some resemblance to Mercury Rev in that it sounds like the singer is in a jar. But the album has more than enough life and energy of its own to  recommend it. It fairly buzzes along! Plus the whole of it, (Slugger by name), all ten songs, is less that twenty five minutes long which is a noble feat of pop concision in itself.


It's all very much a cottage industry. Go to their Facebook page and you'll find lead guy Lorenzo Gillis Cook packing and posting t-shirts and doing all he possibly can to offer interested parties free streams of the record. Good luck to them! Slugger is a joy. A small sea of invention. Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. Sometimes introspective. Always inventive. Always moving somewhere new, lyrically and melodically. A gift that keeps giving! Just one song to link to here but there are a couple more on Spotify and the whole thing can be found here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Beat

Songs Heard on the Radio # 113 Dexys Midnight Runners

Just a blast to hear this coming out at me over headphones from online radio. So I'm sharing. From 1983's Too-Rye-Aye.

2015 Bands I Saw

As 2015 gradually winds down, a last chart. Didn't see too much live stuff this year. A meager six gigs aside from lots of great Newcastle locally based jazz. Ride was the pick of these six. Astonishingly, I left the venue under the realisation that it was one of the best things I'd ever seen in over thirty years of gig going. They were just blisteringly good. Have been promising to write more about the night on here and will do so next year. In the meantime, the order of merit otherwise goes as follows:

1. Ride
2. The Legendary Shack Shakers
3. Bill Ryder-Jones
4. PiL
5.. Courtney Barnett
6. Jane Weaver (the solitary disappointment)

Melody Maker - Romo

An astonishingly desperate moment of barrel scraping in the history of British Music Journalism. At pretty much the height of Brit Pop Melody Maker chose to feature a scene they might as well have invented themselves, an apparent attempt to revive the New Romantic movement of the early eighties. Nothing came of it. Seriously, what did they expect? Melody Maker effectively folded less than five years later.

Here's Katie Puckrick at the time offering appropriate scorn.

Covers # 46 The Barbarians

It seems today is Barbarians day on It Starts With a Birthstone. A quite astonishingly inept and tuneless take on The Byrds debut single, itself a retake on the Dylan original. I'm afraid even I don't have the heart to post The Barbarians' version of The House of the Rising Son which follows on from this on their debut album released in 1965 (Moulty and his prosthetic hook, far right on the cover).

December 30th 1942 Robert Quine

Guitarist for Richard Hell & the Voidoids and later Lou Reed. Also born today remarkably, Bo Diddley, Del Shannon, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Patti Smith and Jeff Lynn. 

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 5 The Barbarians

'Will you remember Jerry Lee? John Lennon, T.Rex and Old Moulty?'

Now this record and band are an absolute goldmine of pop trivia. The Barbarians, from Cape Cod Massachusetts. featured on a famous TAMI Show broadcast which also featured The Stones, Supremes, Chuck Berry, Beach Boys James Brown, Marvin Gaye and The Miracles (clips posted below for good measure). They had a minor national hit with Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? A daft record, worth tracking down in itself.

Otherwise, they're probably best known for Moulty. A song narrated by and about drummer Victor 'Moulty' Moulton, who played with a prosthetic hook in place of his right hand having lost that in a pipe-bomb accident in his teens. Backed, not by the other Barbarians, but by a set of New York Studio musicians Levon & the Hawks who later became The Band.

This song actually got to Number 90 in the US Billboard Singles Chart in February 1966, featured on Lenny Kaye's landmark Nuggets compilation released in 1972 and also British DJ and comedian Kenny Everett's radio show and record The World's Worst Record Show from later in the same decade. Also in the lyrics of The Ramones' Rock and Roll Radio, quoted above. Some legacy for a song that sounds like this! 

Song(s) of the Day # 710 The Human League

Because, for whatever reason, this song has been rattling round my head since I woke up. For the song itself, for its lyrics, for Phil Oakey's rap, for the girls, recently brought into the band, (a genius reinvention move), for the whole Dare album, one of the high watermarks of British Pop Music. Oh, and I'll give you Sound of the Crowd for good measure. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Covers # 46 Rockin' Vickers

For Lemmy again! That's him in the striped jacket and playing guitar on this from an early band of his. A cover, (frankly an almost note-perfect carbon copy), of Dave Davies' Kinks song.

John Bradbury 1953-2015

                     John's the one in the background here. But it was too wonderful a photo not to post!

A Social Media tribute from today from the other half of The Specials rhythm section, Horace Panter:

'It feels very strange to know that I will never work with my 'other half' of The Specials' rhythm section again. Brad jokingly referred to me as 'the glue', the man who held it all together, but he was the backbone, the bedrock of the music, and he was responsible for its signature sound, that tightly stretched snare and highly original style that he called 'attack drumming'. He drew on the drive of Northern Soul but had the jazz influences of ska and the sensuality of reggae. He always played like his life depended on it, always on the money, always in the pocket. To have been able to play music with him has been an absolute privilige and the fact that I'll miss him is the height of understatement. Thanks Brad, you played great!'

Thurston Moore

Lemmy 1945 - 2015

29th December 1946 Marianne Faithfull

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 4 The B-52s

All credit to them, Number One in Canada in 1979.

Song(s) of the Day # 709 Boogarins

Wonderful, contemporary Brazilian band, playing in and building on the great Tropicalia tradition of Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso and the rest.

Monday, December 28, 2015



December 28th 1950 Alex Chilton

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 3 P.P.Arnold

Clapton is God!

Day Ravies - Influences

1. Can

Having posted that Day Ravies are diverse, here are a few songs singer-guitarist Sam Wilkinson chose in response to specific questions in interview here to prove it. If only to give me the opportunity to post Can's Bel Air.

2. Neil Young

3. Broadcast

4. Madonna

5. Guided by Voices

Song(s) of the Day # 708 Day Ravies

I was pretty much sold on Day Ravies just upon chancing across their name yesterday, before hearing a note of their music. Fortunately, having done so, I can endorse them further. These songs come from their second album Liminal Zones, released earlier this year where every song sounds a little bit different from the one before.

Hailing from Sydney, Australia. Doesn't every second great band that comes along nowadays turn out out to be Australian? You may not like the whole record it's so varied but couldn't accuse them of standing in the same place and doing the predictable thing for a moment. Three of them contribute songs and it's constantly diverse to the point at which talking about influences is almost pointless. Nothing I've heard reminds me at all of The Kinks. They're poppy. They're great!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mick Jagger

December 27th 1931 Scotty Moore

Songs Heard on the Radio # 112 Maalem Mahmoud Guinia & Floating Points

New music patron and guru on here is James Endeacott, (once with Loop), now British Alternative Scene mover and shaker whose blog is listed on the right hand side of this page and seems set to be a major source of many things I post here in the immediate future given what I've heard via him, his blog and his radio shows in the last couple of hours. This was played on his Soho Radio show of the seventh on this month, posted as a Mixcloud link on his page. Maleem Mahmood Guinia is a recently deceased Moroccan Gnawa musician, perhaps best known for his 1994 collaborations with Pharoah Sanders.

Douglas Hart

Douglas Hart, former bassist of The Jesus & Mary Chain, film-maker and interesting fellow talks about his history with that band as well as his videos and films.

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 2 Annette

Over to LA. Now here's a curiosity. Tom Hibbert, whatever his reasons might be, is clearly a devotee of this particular moment in Pop History, Muscle Beach Party, a deeply trashy celebration of Californian early sixties beach culture featuring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon and backed by music from The Beach Boys, Dick Dale and strangely the first screen appearance of Stevie Wonder, aged just thirteen. Here's the opening scene. The Beach Boys ham it up massively. Heaven only knows what Mike Love is doing!

Song(s) of the Day # 707 Quicksilver Messenger Service

The Haight Ashbury bands aren't generally order of the day around here. Although I've always found the idea of the scene they arose from and fed into quite interesting, the music itself has never much appealed. Despite their formidable reputations, I've only ever found a handful of Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane songs that I get along with. None of the other San Francisco bands meanwhile seem to have a series of records to their name that seriously rival those put out by LA's Byrds, Love and Doors.

So to Quicksilver Messenger Service. What have they got going for them apart from one of the very best band names of all? Mostly their reputation is as a twin-lead guitar live band. Spotify has one bootlegged concert after another for them. Second album Happy Trails is considered their best studio record but for the most part my vinyl copy sits alone and unplayed in the Q section of my collection.

Here's their best known single Fresh Air which scraped the American Top 50 in 1970. Also, Who Do You Love (Part 1), from said record Happy Trails, to give an idea of the fluid guitar style that they made their name on. and a third song, Pride of Man, which hails from their first album.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Instrumentals # 44 Amon Duul

From their 1970 debut album Yeti. She came through the chimney for Amon Duul at round about the same time as she was coming through The Beatles bathroom window.

Songs About People # 154 Elvis Presley

Many, many Elvis songs to choose from of course. But I'm going with this one...

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 1 ABBA

And so to another long-running series. This recent purchase, a 1982 book edited by Tom Hibbert, has recently been acting as an inspiration for several posts on here. At the back of it, Hibbert himself gives a highly partial selection of single choices. It feels like rifling through his record box. So here goes. Alphabetically listed. Not unnaturally, he starts with ABBA. This particular song was / is much loved by John Lennon, Ray Davies, Pete Townshend and John Grant among others.

December 26th 1970 George Harrison

Went to Number One in The States with this where he stayed for four weeks.

Song(s) of the Day # 706 Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers

'I keep my baby under glass...'

Roy Loney sounds like nothing quite so much as the keeper of the flame. Founding member of The Flamin' Groovies, a band out of time if ever there was one, his guiding influence can be heard in their fabulous early records Sneakers, Supersnazz, Flamingo and Teenage Head.

'You know, everybody's accused me all throughout my career of being a Rockabilly guy, basically. (laughs) It's my main influence. I guess it's sort of there. Rockabilly and basic Rock'n'Roll... Back then, I was sort of an outsider with my Rockabilly thing. Except for Elvis, nobody listened to that kind of stuff. I was the guy who had the little Carl Perkins 45s and Eddie Cochran 45s, and everyone went, 'Wow! What's that?'


After Teenage Head which Mick Jagger himself lauded as a better record than Sticky Fingers, it seems that Cyril Jordan wrested control of the band and they moved away from The Stones and towards The Beatles. Loney meanwhile left and became an A&M man for ABC Records for a number of years, having a hand in promoting Ramones, Dwight Twilley and Tom Petty records among others.

Towards the end of the seventies he regrouped, put a band together that pretty much was the Flamin' Groovies line up minus Jordan that put out Teenage Head, and began releasing a series of quite remarkable records. Listen to the compilation posted above for evidence. Loney sounds like the missing link between Captain Beefheart, Jonathan Richman and Lux Interior. Suburban deranged and utterly joyous.

Or watch the band at work here. They're not cool. Loney himself is relentlessly geeky and the rest of the group don't help. The hair, the mutton chops. Clothes that don't match. But their sound is cool! Also quite effortless. They've clearly been doing this for a while. The Out of Dark album from the same period, released in 1979 is well worth tracking down. Slightly variable in quality, there's a cover of Return to Sender for example which seems unnecessary except as a statement of intent.

Elsewhere though, it's quite inspired. The band barrel full throttle down the Rock and Roll highway, howling at the universe. With Neat Petite, (posted at the top of this), particularly, they flirt with greatness. 'She's tight...She's loose...obtuse... She's nate patite, she's nate patite, she nate, ba nate ba nate ba patite...she nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba...she nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba...' splutters Loney. Well, why wouldn't you?

It's part I Wanna Be Your Dog, part Waiting For The Man, part Spanish Stroll, part schoolyard gibberish, part genius. Lester Bangs might have dreamed it. For today it's the finest Rock and Roll song I hadn't heard until yesterday. Loney meanwhile, you'll be glad to hear, is still doing the thing he does in 2015 on the verge of seventy...

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25th 1957 Shane MacGowan

100 Power Pop Songs Countdown # 5-1

5. The Nerves

'This is the last time I'm gonna try...'

Chicago mid-seventies band best known for Hanging on the Telephone, made famous by Blondie of course. This song is modelled on a basic Beatles prototype and I think deserves its high placing.

4. The Exploding Hearts

'I'm a pretender at the game of love...'

And trust the internet at Christmas, there's no direct link to this song so here you go! Portland, Oregon quartet from the end of the nineties and turn of this decade who did a neat, modern variant on all that Punk and New Wave wonderful-ness before a tragic road accident brought an end to them. 

3. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

'Well she was an American girl. Raised on promises. she couldn't help thinking that there was a little more to life. Somewhere else...'

Yes, despite all that Petty, went on to do next, this to my ears is Power Pop. And as good as it gets. Such an explosion of emotion and then after two minutes the lyrics are played out and the band just ride the melody down to the end.

2. Big Star

'How can I deny. What's inside...'

The kings of all this. They could have littered the Top Twenty with their songs if I'd let them. Given that everyone only gets one selection. This one had to be it.

1. The Flamin' Groovies

'Shake some action's what I need. To make me burst out at full speed...'

Only one song could have kept them from Number One. This one!

Happy Christmas!

Song(s) of the Day # 705 Gwenno

These sounds reasonably Christmas-sy and you're not getting a carol. From Gwenno's wonderful debut album Y Dydd Olaf which came out this year and I discovered a few days back. Spacey. Everything sounds great in Welsh! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Album Review Revisited # 31 The House of Love - The House of Love

Happened to chance upon this and thought I'd re-post it. something I wrote about the first House of Love album from 1986 from a year and a few months back.

'An anecdote. A small club in Hampton on Wick some time in 1987. I'm there with my sister. We live across Bushy Park in Teddington and we've come here to see Primal Scream. Not many people have joined us. Enough to give the feel of a small crowd but the sense of anticipation is hardly feverish.

Those here sport the indie look of the time. Frizzy hair, black, hooped, polka-dotted and paisley shirts, skirts and pointy boots. It later becomes a cliché, makes it across the Atlantic and colonises a fair portion of the indie/ college scene there, catered for by countless shops and stalls. At this point it still seems quite authentic, chosen by those who wear it. Hardly Punk, but definitely a scene, and one of the few I flirted with during my lifetime. I still very much love a lot of the records associated with those times. You can read all about it in the recently published book A Scene in Between.

Amongst the scrum of people around the low stage for the support band are the posse of Creation Records main-players themselves. Label owner Alan Magee, Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie, other members of the band, and their entourage. The Primals are here to play in support of their debut album Sonic Flower Groove which doesn't walk the walk and is not selling. The support are a somewhat less hip outfit than they themselves, clean cut, their haircuts and clothing neat, their playing likewise. Primal Scream meanwhile have swallowed the whole Rock and Roll lexicon and are living the dream inside their heads: Love, The Doors, The Byrds, The Stooges, MC5. However, at this point it is very much just within their own heads. This bunch don't pass muster in their eyes.

They come to the end of their frankly non-descript set and announce that they'll do one more. The lead singer says, 'This is a song by The Byrds, called 'Feel a Whole Lot Better'. This causes an outbreak of superior, snobby mirth from the Creation contingent behind us. It is clear the support are not cool. The fact that they announce it this way casts them into the abyss. That they choose this well-known track from The Byrds early period rather than some obscurer, more psychedelisied selection from a year or two later probably seals their fate. The Creation inner-circle in these early days were impossibly hipper than thou and unnervingly assured in their own sense of destiny. Yet they still sold no records.

The House of Love arrived on the label at round about this time and probably occupied a similar space in the minds of the Creation elite as the support band we saw. They lacked the required inner-city urban cool. They lacked the record collections Their reference list was a little too obvious, The Doors, most obviously but also Leonard Cohen who has fingerprints all over half of Guy Chadwick's lyrics without the sense that Chadwick has plumbed the emotional and literary depths that brought forward Cohen's masterpieces. But what Chadwick and The House of Love indisputably had, which no-one else on the label at this point of time had, was the songs. This album their debut, is brimming with them and they still stand up all these years later.

From the bruising, brilliant guitar of Christine. Chadwick throws lines around like 'chaos and the big sea' and 'the whole world drags us down' and they don't really stick but the band are clearly surfing their wave. That pretty much holds for the length of the record. Five songs each side. Lean, spare and effective. It's all pretty much a suburban view of existential existence with the templates clearly being the debut albums by The Doors and The Velvet Underground plus the obvious writers. They take their name from an Anais Nin novel or a Doors song also named after it  Take your pick. But it's a very British take on all this decadence.

The House of Love's secret weapon is Terry Bickers who stands brooding behind Chadwick on the record's excellent sleeve, the bassist and drummer are relegated to the back cover. Bickers is an enormously versatile dark presence (he had something of Keith Richard's swagger, high-praise indeed), probably the best British guitarist at this point in time after Johnny Marr and his playing makes the record a joy to listen to. Hope, Road and Sulphur follow Christine. Faultless pop songs all. One word titles. Man to Child ends the side, Chadwick rifling through his Cohen songbook. Jesus, Mother, Father, God and Love all get a mention. Frankly too Sixth Form to pass muster but the band have build up good credit by this stage and on the second side they ride their wave again.

First song, Salome is a great Rock and Roll heroine and song title and 'I love the way she cries...' a class opening line. Chadwick is at his best when he keeps it simple and doesn't nourish his inner poet too much. He keeps it very lean here. The song is come and gone within two minutes and is all the better for it. Blistering.

'I love the way she cries
Skin is red and muscles stretch
And loose in love, oh happy death
I love the way she cries

I'm walking on the street
In a crowd but not alone
Cool and sharp, I've really grown
I'm walking on the street
Like someone

Peel away your dream
Take a finger, use a tongue
You're not alone, you're not alone
Just blow away those darker dreams

I'm walking on the sea
Salome is dead, the king is free
Oh not a man without greed
I'm sailing on the sea, back to me'

And so to Love in a Car where the album probably reaches its high watermark . This is assured, clinical song writing and playing of the first rank. The band know exactly what they're doing and come within touching distance of their heroes' work. If House of Love were to get castigated as thin, generic, white indie, (and they're undoubtedly very white, there's not an ounce of funk or black soul on here), I'd put Love in a Car, as first case for the defence. One of their very best songs and as good as anyone in this particular field was producing at this point in time.

From this point on the band just need to maintain a certain standard and the record's status is assured. They do so pretty effortlessly. Happy and Fisherman's Tale keep the pot boiling without bringing anything particularly new to the feast. The ingredients are well-established by now. Touch Me polishes things off. It's a well judged, enclosed, cleanly produced,  'Outsiders' Independent Rock album.

The record was sufficiently good, (though it didn't sell enormously), to start an industry fire around the band. When they followed it up with the one off single Destroy the Heart, (their genius moment), a few months later, it was clear they were on the cusp of breaking big, but more importantly of realising Chadwick's dream of teenage, bookshelf existentialism taking shape in a fiery, melodic, vaguely dangerous English Rock and Roll band.

It never happened. They were swallowed up by the machine. They left Creation for Fontana and ate up a huge budget for their second album. Gobbled up on drugs for the most part. They didn't sell enough or make good enough records to justify the excess. For the full, sordid, slightly Spinal Tap-ish story read My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize. Most crucially, Bickers and Chadwick fell out and the former left the band. They were not The House of Love without him. He had provided the spark and heart that made them a genuine prospect. Without him, Chadwick and his poetry were exposed. They were yesterday's papers.

This is their best record. I've been spinning it for the last couple of hours while writing this and it still stands up. It evokes the feel of being 17 and having a raft full of conflicting emotions, a shelf of Penguin paperbacks, a stack of records, certain clothes, and looking for a band and a record to soundtrack those intense, yearning, rebellious, angry, in retrospect slightly foolish, but nevertheless real teenage emotions. Those are very pure feelings, which those of us who have experienced them never quite lose regardless of what life does to us with the passing years. The first House of Love record soundtracks all that as well as any other record. Remember them this way.

'Steal a car, the highway calls
Stick some pins in your toes
Suck your cheeks
Dance, boy, down the road ''

December 24th 1977 The Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols last British gig. For an audience mostly comprised of children in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Nowadays their songs are played by ukelele orchestras in The Royal Albert Hall.

100 Power Pop Songs Countdown # 10- 6

10. Teenage Fanclub

'I know. I can't believe. There's something about you. Got me down on my knees...'

Of course Teenage Fanclub were always going to be here. And always with this. Stops at 1 minute 59 seconds. There you go!

9. Dwight Twilley Band

'All my life I've been looking for the magic..'

I bought the album this hails from yesterday. One of the best records ever to be housed in a truly dreadful sleeve. This was always highly prominent in remaindered bins of second hand record stores in my early record buying years. The album I remember most in that particular. There were always scores of copies of this. I should have had the sense to buy it then.

8. Shoes

' I didn't mean to call and shake you up...'

While we're on a theme, this was an album I did have the sense to buy way back when, at some point in the eighties. It must have been on a whim because I would have had no idea whether it was any good or not. Sometimes you had to go on a hunch in those days. The whole record is a drop dead classic of its kind. Recorded in a living room in Zion, Illinois in 1977. Many highly presentable candidates to choose from it, but it would be this one.

7. Badfinger

'Guess I got what I deserve...'

From one of the great, small cult bands to one of the saddest band stories of all. It's all there online if you want to find out about it, but hey it's Christmas. I'll just post the song.

6. Cheap Trick

'Get out on the street. You got nothing to lose...'

From one real Power Pop mainstay to another. That's the point we've got to by now. From their fine 1977 record In Color

Ten Days of Christmas # 10 Bruce Springsteen

Well, we're nearly there! In my local recently talking to the biggest Bruce fan I've pretty much ever known, (and I've met a few), he asked me if I was going to do a series of Christmas songs for the blog. I think he had this in mind to top the list. And while it's not my own favourite of the ten songs I've chosen here, it is a fitting one to draw this to a close and brings back personal memories of semi-legendary DJ Roger Scott, (pictured below),playing it on Capital Radio in London in the seventies. So Happy Christmas Norman!

Song of the Day # 704 The Fortunes

Generally this blog is an exercise is an exercise in a certain kind of taste. You'd probably call it classical NME good taste, not too radical or avant gard. but I know and like my Pere Ubu, my Can, my Go Betweens, my Al Green and so forth.This is different. Classic early seventies pop kitsch. It was really perfected during this period. There was plenty of it in the fifties and sixties of course but during these years it was refined to a golden glow of pure corn which takes me back to listening to the radio of the time where you'd hear song after song bearing its unmistakable hallmarks as if you were watching the conveyor belt on a factory line. All different but all essentially the same. This record is as good an example as you can find of that.

I also have John Lydon to back me up. From his latest autobiography, Anger is an Energy:

'There's something in them three chords that hits everybody; that's why, to this day, the bottom-line function I see in what I do is - I write pop songs. I can go into elaborate versions of pop songs but the basic root of me is pop music. I love 'Storm in a Teacup' by The Fortunes as much as I do - well a lot more than I do - 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple.' 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 23rd 1941 Tim Hardin

100 Power Pop Songs Countdown # 15 -11

15. Blondie

'Walking the line. You were a marksman. Told me that law, like wine is ageless.'

So what have I learned about Power Pop from this experience? Really, that I don't like a lot of what is traditionally known as Power Pop but love what you can do with it by shoehorning into the category given a bit of license. Like this. Among Blondie's very best. Also watch the video and Chris Stein and Gary Valentine fighting over the camera's attention. Valentine left shortly thereafter.

14. Compulsive Gamblers

'And all your friends they say I'm bad...'

A late entry this one for which I had to eject Nick Lowe, but the man has broad shoulders and is related through marriage to Johnny Cash so why should he care?

13. Guided by Voices

'I'll climb up on the house. Weep to water the trees...'

Guided by Voices do pretty much whatever they like as well as anyone else. Power Pop is pretty much a piece of cake.

12. The Undertones

'Always running up the alley. Trying to get home. Or standing on the corner. Never alone.'

I don't care for Teenage Kicks. There I've said it. Do care for this mind!

11. Mikael Cronin

'No be bolder. Golden light for miles...'

The most modern take on this here. Builds and remarkably just keeps building.

Ten Days of Christmas # 9 Otis Redding

Song of the Day # 703 The Bridewell Taxis

Much of the music made in the Madchester years at the end of the eighties and early nineties doesn't seem to travel too well. But I came upon this yesterday and thought it maintained a certain zest and energy. The Bridewell Taxis hailed from east of the Pennines, took their name from the police vans that conveyed unfortunates to the Bridewell Station in Leeds. They had a brief but vivid history. Find out more about them on their spirited, but highly partial Wikipedia Page. Seems to be written by a fellow traveler. This, their third single has something of a Northern Soul kick to it.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22nd 2002 Joe Strummer

Songs Heard on the Radio # 111 Moon Duo

As you grow older, you begin to have a strange relationship with new music that reminds you of your favourite bands. Disdainful, dismissive, 'Seen and heard it all before' and so forth. Then, just very occasionally, slightly euphoric, when despite the unmistakable, overwhelming imprint of influence that might as well have been branded on the young artist's forehead, they still get it very much right. Portland, Oregon's Moon Duo from their current album Shadow of the Sun. Sure they love Suicide. But so should everybody. This is remarkably spirited, freewheeling Rock and Roll whichever way you hold it up to the light!