Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Song of the Day # 163 - John Phillips

Second song from a beautiful and quite essential record, John the Wolfking of LA. I'm thinking of reinvesting in the vinyl album at some point. The record industry sees the likes of me coming a mile off.

2014 World Cup # 17 Holland 2 Mexico 1

I was travelling up on the train tonight so didn't see either game. Just back for extra time with Costa Rica and Greece. Missed this game though I did get a disappointed text from my sister letting me know the result. I thought it was a shoe-in that I could play this song as either Robin Van Persie or Arjen Robben would have scored justifying a dodgy pun. I arrived back to find this not to be the case. Still Robben was judged to have been fouled for the controversial last minute penalty. Not a penalty in a million years I reckon. Anyway, here you go! 

29th June 1968 - On This Day - Small Faces

They began a six week run in the UK at Number One in the album charts. Here it is.

Songs About People # 22 Frankie Lymon - The Weather Prophets

Nice, indie as it gets, (though it may have been recorded for WEA offshoot Elevation), Velvety tribute to the doomed doo wop star. Sounds good early on a Sunday morning as many gentle Velvets sounding songs do.

Great Disney Songs # 8 - Little April Shower

The film was much criticised by American hunters on its release. Hmm.

Song of the Day # 162 - Sugar Chile Robinson

Lives up to his name. A child prodigy of the forties and fifties. Played with Count Basie and Lionel Hampton and for President Truman before curtailing his career in 1952 at the age of fourteen to focus on his education.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 World Cup # 16 - Brazil 1 - Chile 1 (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties)

Somehow it didn't seem as if Brazil would go out just yet. Good as Chile were and how close they came. Neymar eventually scored the vital penalty. But somehow this game was all about Hulk. Disallowed goal, should have had a penalty when he was tripped in the first half, had a great shot saved, then managed to miss his own spot kick. But they still managed to get through. Here's Can's tribute to the big man!


Bobby Womack 1944-2014

An artist who knew everybody. Worked with everybody. Was brilliant. A true survivor. And must have listed a desperately full life.

28th June 1975 - On This Day - Tim Buckley

Tim Buckley gave his last concert today in 1975 in Dallas. He died of a drugs overdose the next day. Incomparable.


Early shot before they went Mod. From a great new book on the  New York scene in the early seventies.

Songs About People # 21 Seymour Stein - Belle & Sebastian

Written about the famed Sire Records Company executive who signed up The Ramones and Talking Heads, hung out in CBGBs, hit the payload with Madonna and always seems a decent guy. Belle & Sebastian understand and are in thrall to Rock and Roll lore as so many great Scottish musicians seem to be. The song appears to be about one part of a couple making it and leaving the other behind. The track ends with the sound of a jet plane soaring past overhead.
The three ages of Seymour Stein

Song of the Day #161 - David Hemmings

Now here's an interesting thing. To a certain kind of person at least. Until yesterday I didn't know this record existed. Now I own a copy. There's a very canny record stall owner who works in a shop in Canterbury which focuses on Rock and Roll culture. T-Shirts, incense, bongs probably, you know the kind of thing. I pop in there on a daily basis when I'm down here to see my folks. He always sees me coming way off  and proceeds to dangle objects that might be of interest in front of my nose.
A couple of days ago I debated buying a copy of Sticky Fingers with the Warhol zip. In the end, the zip was just in too good condition so it priced it out of my range. Yesterday, he offered me this. For those not in the know, Hemmings was a blazing comet of an actor in the late sixties. Perhaps he's best known for his starring role in Blow Up directed by Antonioni the Italian auteur which probably describes the 'Swinging London' of the time better than any other film from the period. This was Hemming's attempt to branch out at the height of his fame. The album was recorded in 1967 in LA. Produced by Jim Dickson the Byrds producer and with a backing band consisting of Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman from that band and drummer Ed Thigpen from the Oscar Peterson trio. So it sounds good!
I'll give it a full review when I'm reunited with my record player in Newcastle. For now I'm just glad to have it. I'm that kind of record collector. Here's the opening track. A Gene Clark song. The record stall guy and I agreed Hemmings sounded a bit like Bowie before Bowie sounded like this here. Thanks to Paul of the record stall!

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 World Cup # 15 - Rest Day

Day of rest between the group and knockout stages. The best World Cup thus far since? No idea, but it would probably go back at least twenty years. I hope it continues in this vein. It seems to me that the right countries have advanced out of the groups with the possible exception of Ivory Coast for Greece. Certainly the competition won't much miss England, Italy or Spain. I wrote up the former two countries game a couple of weeks ago when the tournament was fresh, soundtracked by The Seekers. I'd like to rephrase that with this now as for me it was one of the most memorable games of the last two weeks though certainly not the best. Here are the two nations at hammer and tongs. This goes out to my dear oldest nephew Andrew, a highly educated fellow who I discovered a couple of days ago has never heard of Peter Sellers. Shocking! 

Vinyl Purchase # 14 - Joni Mitchell

£10.00 Record Stall Canterbury
I had it on CD. Now I have it on vinyl. Which is better. It has a mottled sleeve and it's gatefold with the lyrics. This song, strangely was covered by Scottish rockers Nazareth.

The Slits

Songs About People # 20 Shadrach, Meshach & Abednigo - Louis Armstrong

'But the children of Israel would not bow down. Couldn't fool them with a golden idol'
Noble, devoted Jews who were thrown into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar II, (at least according to the Old Testament book of Daniel) for refusing to abandon their faith during the Babylonian occupation of Israel and their captivity in Babylon itself. The Good Lord intervened as documented by Louis here. A strong memory from my childhood as my father is an abiding Louis fan and a God-fearing man. From Louis' 1962 album Louis & the Good Book where he also name-checks Ezekiel, Moses and Jonah.

27th June 1925 - On This Day - Doc Pomus

Singer and songwriter. Born today. Died in 1991. This was his first big song. He wrote it, gave it to Lieber and Stoller who rewrote it, forgot about it then saw it on a jukebox whilst on his honeymoon and it persuaded him to chance his arm as a professional writer. Wrote or co-wrote Teenager in Love, Save the Last Dance For Me, Sweets For My Sweet, Lonely Avenue and (Marie's the Name) of his Latest Flame among others.

Song of the Day # 160 - The Gun Club

The Gun Club were an incomparable band who still don't seem to have received their due. It's difficult to imagine The Pixies existing as they did without them. Here's just one of their finer tracks. The lead song from 1983 EP Death Party. Eerie, sombre subject matter and one of the great song titles. The stuff of literature. Jeffrey Lee Pierce first came to prominence as President of Blondie's American fan club and remained in his looks throughout his career a strange, androgynous tribute to the beauty of Debbie Harry.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 World Cup # 15 Germany 1 - U.S.A. 0

Both teams went through. So many connections between these two countries. Marlene loved them both and divided her life between the two of them. The German version seems more appropriate in the circumstances.

Garage Bands # 9 The Count Five

'Run here my towhead grandchillen, and let this geezer dandle you on his knee. While you still recognize me, you little maniacs. You know the gong has tolled, it's that time again. Now let me set my old brain a-ruminatin', ah what upbuilding tale from days of yore shall I relate today?
'What's all this shit about the Yardbirds?''
So begins Lester Bangs revered essay Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung written for Creem Magazine in 1971. It pays tribute amongst other things to the glory of already largely forgotten San Jose garage band The Count Five. Best known of course for their Top Ten single Psychotic Reaction, as good as the genre got, and to my mind one of the best singles ever released. Bangs discusses at great rambling length the wonder of the single the album that followed, the band itself and what they represented to him, values he felt had already been forgotten and discarded just five short years later.
'The album had a killer cover too - the photo was taken from the bottom of a grave around the rim of which stood the members of the group, staring down atcha in the sepulchre with bug-eyed malice. Really eerie, except that they were all wearing madras shirts and checkered slacks from Penney's. Which was not so eerie but a nice touch in the long run. The colors and lettering were nice too.
The back had four pictures of them; Count Five in Lugosian capes on the lawn in front of an old mansion, trying to look sinister; Count Five on some L.A. dancetime show ravin' it up while a crowd of blooming boppers, presumably cordoned off from their idols, pushed eagerly towards them from the right side of the picture; Count Five in the TV studio; and Count Five loading luggage into the trunk of their car with proper sullen scowls on their faces, gettin' ready for the Big Tour as al popstars must (they probably took it in the manager's wife's station wagon.'
So here are five of their tracks. All from that first record. With respect to Bangs, the first two songs here are absolute stone cold classics. The other three less so.
1. Psychotic Reaction
2.Pretty Big Mouth
3. Double-Decker Bus
4. Peace of Mind

26th June 1955 - On this Day - Mick Jones

Mick Jones' birthday. Almost sixty. The passing of time.

Garage Discoveries # 8 The Leaves

LA garage band best known for their wonderful version of Hey Joe which was a  US Top Forty hit in 1966 and was later rediscovered on Lenny Kaye's essential early seventies Nuggets double album. Much of their other stuff comes across as weak Byrds and Love now. This is good though. Bo Diddley backbeat. Blatant hymn to the joys of drugs. It opened up their 1966 album, also called Hey Joe.

Things I've Found on My Local's Jukebox # 24 - Big Star

A quite beautiful, timeless pop song. Mid way between The Byrds and early R.E.M. In the eighties Big Star were pretty much the ultimate underground, cult band. Talked about in hushed tones by musicians but, in Britain at least, impossible to buy. I recorded this off an Andy Kershaw show in the mid-part of that decade and for years that was all I got to hear of them until, (in the early nineties I think), the original albums were finally re-released.

A Week of Gerry Goffin # 7 Aretha Franklin

I could probably carry on indefinitely. The list of great songs he had a hand in is endless. Here is the one that would surely end up on top every time. Incomparable.

Song of the Day # 159 - George Jones

I have a double album of Essential George Jones that surely deserves proper attention. There's something about the idea that Country Music makes more sense the older you get. George certainly takes you immediately into a world of experience. Here's something from the aforementioned Essential. Most of them seem to be about alcohol; directly or indirectly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 World Cup 14 - France 0 Ecuador 0

No immediate songs forthcoming today so the Ecuadorian midfielder Noboa gets a naff tribute to the tangerine bag that was thrown over his head-wound during the rather uninspiring, goalless draw that sent Ecuador out. He also proceeded to miss their best chance.
'Hey Mr Tangerine Man...'

25th June 1967 - On this Day - The Beatles

The Beatles perform All You Need Is Love via satellite to over 200 million people.

A Week of Gerry Goffin # 6 The Drifters


Vince Taylor

David Thomas

'Q: Do you consider yourself a singer-songwriter in the Bob Dylan - Lou Reed - Tom Waits vein?
A: No. Those guys are poets, working with a love of the poetic aesthetic. I don't like poetry. Mostly, it bores the life out of me. Those guys love words. I hate words. They read Pynchon or Faulkner or Rimbaud. I read Hemingway. They studied the arts. I studied science. I like to tell stories with as few words as possible and as little intervention as possible. I describe what I see as clinically as possible. I want to cram as much information into a three minute song as can be done. And that requires using every drop of sound to tell the story, as well as the voice, as well as words that interact not with emotions or intellect but directly with the hieroglyphic language of the human consciousness. That ain't poetry. That's journalism.'

Songs About People # 19 - Frans Hals - McCarthy

Eighties indie band McCarthy. Guitarist Tim Gane went on to form Stereolab one of the best bands of their era. Like much independent music at that time they were highly political, unlike many of these bands McCarthy were also highly melodic. I was led to this by the fine opening passage of Donna Tartt's 'The Goldfinch' where there is a huge explosion in a New York art gallery amongst the Dutch masters.
'They calculate how much it takes to starve a rat
And send it out to me
Sleeping in the trash
Begrudging everything
They're keen to deal with me
So yesterday I
This land informs me

These are better days
You stop your money
There's no more money
We've already paid
We're making money
I said you're joking

The rich are out to get to me
They want to see me hung drawn and quartered
You bastards gave me
And I will pinch you dry
It's not much to do
It's all I can do
But one day soon
The poor will deal with you

Make your will out mate
They know your names and they know your faces
Make your will out mate
They know your names and they know your faces
They will deal with you
They'll really deal with you'

Song of the Day # 158 - The Cure

In Catford visiting my sister and her brood. Stopped off in Richmond where I grew up on the way. It all made me think of the early Cure. Nothing has ever soundtracked London suburbia and the hinterlands better before or since.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 World Cup # 13 Uruguay 1 Italy 0

Luis Suarez embroiled in utterly predictable World Cup controversy. Here's something from Love Bites. Italy have nothing left at all. Oh and England can come home now.

American States # 18 Louisiana - The Walkmen

A fine song from a fine band who I saw with Andy and Miranda supporting Interpol in NYC months before 9/11.

A Week of Gerry Goffin # 5 - The Crystals

Not possibly the song lyrics Goffin would most like to be remembered for. It's at odds with almost everything else he wrote But it occupies a specific place in the Rock and Roll canon. And it's also a great song, pretty much as good as anything Spector produced. It was released and then gradually supressed when it got a negative public reaction. The inspiration behind it was born from Little Eva (The Loco-Motion), telling Goffin and King that her boyfriend was beating her. They were shocked and the song resulted. It has an edge of truth about it that a lot of songs from that time lacked though. Hence its reputation since.
It's been covered by Hole, Grizzly Bear, The Blackeyed Susans, Spiritualised (who changed the title, as they would to 'She Kissed me and it Felt Like a Hit'). Amy Winehouse loved it. Not perhaps something to put on the jukebox but a great and real lyric and song.

The Sonics

24th June 1977 - On This Day - The Jacksons

Number One in the UK.

Songs About People # 18 Wolfman Jack - The Guess Who

By Canadian band best known for hit single American Woman. Written about the legendary DJ who featured in American Graffiti. An American theme emerging.

Song of the Day #157 - The Langley Schools Music Project

A one-off  seventies American school project that produced some incredibly wistful eerie music. Not all of it works but this certainly does.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Song of the Day # 156 Brian Eno

A Week of Gerry Goffin # 3 Herman's Hermits

There's talk of better versions. But I like the rickety nature of this.

2014 World Cup # 11 Belgium 1 Russia 0

'Just like Edin!'
Belgium. Amongst the least entertaining of Dark Horses. But they're through. Overcoming the even less entertaining Russians. This time mostly due to some skilful wing-work from Edin Hazard / Eddie Izzard to make the space for the winning goal.

22nd June 1969 On This Day - Judy Garland

Judy Garland died today in 1969. Aged 47.

Getting it Wrong - Mick Jagger on Patti Smith

'I think Patti Smith is crap. I think she's so awful.. she's full of rubbish, she's full of words and crap. I mean she's a poseur o the worst kind, intellectual bullshit, trying to be a street girl when she doesn't seem to me to be one, I mean everything... a useless guitar player, a bad singer, not attractive. I was always very attractive, much better singer, much better with words, and I wasn't an intellectual poseur. She's got her heart in the right place but she's such a poseur.' 1977.

Songs About People # 17 - Levi Stubbs - Billy Bragg

Song to the lead Four Top. One of the best names in Rock and Roll.

Song of the Day # 155 Kim Wilde

The second part of my holiday odyssey. From Ulley to Glastonbury to stay with me old mucker Andy. Here's something from his wonderful singles box. Fake New Wave. Monochrome look nicked off Blondie. Quite meaningless lyric. Just great! And the start of another spurious series. Andy's Singles Box.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gerry Goffin - A Tribute

Wonderful article from The Guardian and a great writer Richard Williams.

Gerry Goffin: the poet laureate of teenage pop

A vivid lyricist and masterful songwriter, the composer of sublime girl group hits made listeners feel as if they were not alone with their emotions
Lyricist Gerry Goffin, writer of some of the biggest hit songs of the 1960s with his first wife, Carole King, died on June 18, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Lyricist Gerry Goffin, co-writer of some of the biggest songs of the 60s, died this week in Los Angeles. Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns
Gerry Goffin, a trainee chemist who became the poet laureate of teenage pop, specialised in coming up with a great opening line to grab the audience’s attention. Plenty of people will remember the first time they heard “Tonight you’re mine completely/ You give your love so sweetly,” from Will You Love Me Tomorrow, or “Looking out on the morning rain/ I used to feel so uninspired," from (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. But he didn’t stop there.
Buried a little deeper in those wonderful songs are the lines that really touched his young listeners’ hearts. The words to the bridge, or middle section, of that first Shirelles hit from 1960 were almost like poetry: “Tonight with words unspoken/ You say that I’m the only one/ But will my heart be broken/ When the night meets the morning sun?” And when Goffin presented Aretha Franklin with the second verse of A Natural Woman – “When my soul was in the Lost and Found, you came along to claim it” – he gave countless ordinary lovers a way to express their deepest feelings.

Misleadingly, they are often called “Carole King songs”. She wrote the tunes, and later on she would sing them when, after Goffin and King divorced, she embarked on a hugely successful solo career. But whenever King sang her own, gentler versions of the Chiffons’ One Fine Day or the Drifters’ Up on the Roof, she was still singing Goffin’s words. They were written by the man she had met when she was 17 and he was 20, and with whom she had two daughters while they lived in an apartment in the Queens housing project LeFrak City – and with whom she travelled to work in Manhattan every day at their cubicle in the offices of Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway, where they pumped out hit after hit after hit.
Goffin’s lyrics were so vivid and their potency so enduring that they were sometimes even borrowed for the titles of films: Some Kind of Wonderful for Howard Deutch’s 1987 high-school romance, for example, or One Fine Day for the Michael Hoffman's 1995 adult romcom, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney.

Other phrases remain lodged in the collective memory: “It might as well rain until September”; “Everybody’s doing a brand-new dance now”; “Girls grow up faster than boys do”; and “I think I’m goin’ back/ to the things I learned so well in my youth.” The title of his most controversial song, the Crystals’ He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss), appears, without attribution, in a lyric on Lana Del Rey’s new album.

Goffin’s talent was not just confined to his partnership with King. Even in the mid-60s, when they were at their most successful and prolific, he could work with other composers to come up with jewels that glitter more brightly with the passing years. With his friend Russ Titelman he wrote I Never Dreamed, recorded by the Cookies, and What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey Baby), best known in its versions by the Chiffons and Lesley Gore but most perfectly (if obscurely) realised in 1967 by the Inspirations. Sublime examples of New York girl-group music, both of them are much cherished by collectors.
He was a useful producer, too. Freddie Scott’s version of Hey Girl, which he supervised in 1963, remains a classic of uptown soul, with the kind of sound that eluded the many British groups who covered the songs of Goffin and King. The originals – whether Chains by the Cookies, Earl-Jean’s I’m Into Somethin’ Good or Maxine Brown’s Oh No Not My Baby – invariably stand the test of time better than versions by the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and Manfred Mann.

Those who accept the conventional wisdom that nothing happened in pop music between Elvis and the Beatles should listen to these marvellous records – and to the outpouring of memories of a man who did the best thing a pop songwriter can do: made listeners feel they are not alone with their emotions.
• Richard Williams blogs about music at

2014 World Cup # 10 Ghana 2 Germany 2

Great game tonight. It looked like Ghana might shade it but Germany scored a late equaliser. Given the identity of the man who equalised who came on as a substitute and drew level with Ronaldo as the all time World Cup top scorer, here's something from Closer.

A Week of Gerry Goffin # 2 - Carole King

From the wonderful Tapestry

21st June 1944 On This Day - Ray Davies

Ray Davies was born 70 years ago. Happy Birthday Ray, and thanks! It's a wonderful sunny day and I'm out in the countryside so...

Song of the Day # 154 - The Go! Team

Brighton outfit who do hip hop, double dutch, indie and noise and pretty much everything else in between. This is the title track from their most recent album a couple of years back. A pure My Bloody Valentine sound on here.