Friday, October 31, 2008

The Dears at The Key Club

You've got to hand it to Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak - it would take most bands years to recover from such a drastic line-up change but The Dears haven't missed a step and are back with a new album and tour.

The previous incarnation of The Dears was amazing live so I was a little concerned seeing a new lineup playing a new album I'd only heard a couple of times... However, the new songs sounded great live and the five new members are accomplished musicians - definately a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. The old songs sounded good (Lost in the Plot, 22 - Death of all romance and Bandwagoneers) although 'White only party' was too much for the drummer and bass player to handle!

Only stuck around for a few songs of Secret Machines and this proved to be a good move as we ran into The Dears outside and I got to say a quick hello to Murray!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ExDetectives/The Tail at The Derby

The opening band Versaille were three goths who sounded like Keane - I'm not even going to go there...

ExDetectives played a solid set including a new arrangement of my least favorite song 'Return', which is morphing from Jefferson Airplane into My Bloody Valentine and suits Meriah's vocal a lot better. At least it didn't morph into Jefferson Starship...

The Tail celebrated Halloween a couple of days early (at least I hope thats what they were doing...) with Maiana dressed as a character from Cats (ie a cat) and Ted doing his best Pirates of the Caribbean. There's no doubt their songs are damn catchy although somewhat stuck in an 80's timewarp. Ted's swashbuckling guitar was again the main focal point and reminded me a little of James Honeyman-Scott, which is an improvement on the Andy Summers vibe I was getting last time I saw them...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Brookline at Detroit Bar

Worst band-name of the year so far goes to Satellite Crush, who at best sound like they have been moonlighting by writing songs for the Jonas Brothers - jangly pop with some reasonable harmonies. However, the last three songs were fucking awful... You know those first four chords you learn on the guitar? Well just repeat the same four chords over and over, only get a bit louder in the chorus but keep playing the same chords. Appalling...

Warpaint were cool - Bat for Lashes meets Cowboy Junkies with Tony Allen on drums.

Brookline were back to sounding their best but after seeing them three weeks this month in the same venue I spent more time talking to OC hipsters outside...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stupid Cut...

Kissing girls and liking it is one thing but posing with a blade when knife-crime has reached epic proportions - stupid and irresponsible...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SLR/Brookline at Detroit Bar

If there's any advantage to writing a blog that no-one reads it's that whatever you write is unlikely to come back to haunt you. However, there's always the possibility of being one Google search away from a black eye... And so last night I was talking to a vaguely familiar guy called Shane who is a friend of the Brookline guys. He mentioned that he was in a band (isn't everyone?) and they were called 'Free Lions'. I saw them a while ago at Spaceland and here's what I said:

"Free is supposed to be a magic number but there was precious little magic in evidence, except for wanting them to disappear. Marks out of ten? Is zero a number?"

I'm not sure I believe in karma but I brought a camera to the show with no memory stick! However, I will not be be softening my jornalistic stance - if I think your band is shite I will write about it in my blog without fear of reprisal.

Anyways STANLEYLUCASREVOLUTION picked the perfect set and were at their menacing, manic best. Samples of Sarah Palin being asked about the Bush doctrine took on a sinister note when played along the usual mixture of religious fanatics. Sean played the following:

Consultation Valley Ruse
Gods don't worry
We still love them
Is a with dubs
New Stone 40

Brookline sounded a little flat after the last couple of times I've seen them but apparently singer Brandon was a bit under the weather.

Grainy cell phone shot of SLR:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sliding Away...

It may be a sign of the times but I really had to force myself to muster enough enthusiasm to listen to new albums by Oasis and The Verve.

It's interesting The Verve should name their album 'Forth' because I don't see any progression forwards. 'Forth' is no 'Urban Hymns' that's for sure - there is a distinct lack of anything approaching a great song and what has happened to Richard Ashcroft's voice? The singing isn't bad except it doesn't sound like Richard Ashcroft - too smooth and polished... 'Love is Noise' sounded great live but in the cold light of (velvet) morning is just an uninspiring Hacienda nostalgia trip...

'Dig out your soul' perhaps should have been called 'Dig out your Beatles collection' because you'll find the same songs there done better. They even rip off the same Beatles song (Come Together) twice, give a name check to magical mystery tour and you know when they sing about a revolution where they got that from...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tegan and Sara at The Music Box

'How cute - a family!' Taking a young nephew to see a show is fraught with danger...

Tegan and Sara were pretty good - not really my cup of tea but despite only knowing a few songs I had a good time. Most of it sounded like a spikier Alannis Morrisette especially when Tegan was singing... Matt Sharp from The Rentals came on for the encore and they did one of the latters songs. Oh and by the way, Vote NO on Prop. 8...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Black Kids at The Mayan

Voxhaul Broadcast are like a less preppy Vampire Weekend and not as good...

The singer of The Virgins sounds remarkably like Joe Strummer, and the music is 'Combat Rock' era The Clash, albeit played by Hard Fi. I wonder what the New York equivalent of Slough is - plenty of white trainers, skewed baseball caps and Nike vests in evidence - Aiii!

Black Kids are great - such a joyous fun performance. One hopes they can survive the indie dance-pop backlash that is surely just around the corner but if they continue to write songs of the calibre of 'Hit the heartbreaks' and 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You' then there shouldn't be a problem...

Monday, October 13, 2008

I started something I couldn't finish... Part 4

and so we come to 1983! Before I start I would like to apologize to drummers, Australians, people who wear wigs, fat blokes wearing makeup and the Scottish. Best line: 'shame they didn't warn him about young boys...'

Jan 1983

1) Phil Collins – You can’t hurry love (2 weeks at #1)

“Just trust in the good times, no matter how long it takes”

Pleasant enough remake of the Motown classic! Amusing video featuring three ugly drummers from Genesis… 6/10

2) Men at Work – Down Under (3)

“Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder - you better run, you better take cover”

They’re from Australia don’t you know… where women glow and men plunder… Humorous song about being Australian, if that’s possible… 6/10

Feb 1983

3) Kajagoogoo – Too Shy (2)

“Modern medicine falls short of your complaints - Ooh, try a little harder”

Catchy song with its “Too shy shy, hush hush, eye to eye…” chorus! Kaja, the band that launched a haircut… silver on top with black underneath. Probably a wig! Didn’t reach these heights again – despite getting rid of Limahl… 7/10

Mar 1983

4) Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (1)

“People always told me be careful of what you do - don't go around breaking young girls' hearts”

Shame they didn’t warn him about young boys! I’m surprised this one only stayed at the top a week – good song with its hypnotic bass line and stylish video… Sales of gloves and white socks increase…7/10

5) Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the heart (2)

“We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks”

A classic line… hmmm… Bonnie rasping voice and an over the top video help this reach the top… 5/10

6) Duran Duran – Is there something I should know? (2)

“Don't say you're easy on me, you're about as easy as a nuclear war”

A good video is just as important as a good song in 1983 and this was a great video… The bad haircuts, bad make-up and frilly blouses of Planet Earth have disappeared and now the band has a more tailored (Taylored?) look and cool haircuts. Even Simon doesn’t look as fat as usual. A good song despite its contrived opening - a great verse and bridge let down slightly by a wordy chorus… 8/10

7) David Bowie – Let’s Dance (3)

“(Let's dance), Put on your red shoes and dance the blues”

Less is more for Bowie in this lyrically simple tune. Funky bass and some nice sax accompanied by a stylish Bowie in the obligatory cool video… 8/10

8) Spandau Ballet – True (4)

“Why do I find it hard to write the next line”

Gary Kemp turns balladeer and Tony Hadley holds back just enough for this to be a classic song of it’s time… 8/10

May 1983

9) New Edition – Candy Girl (1)

“My girls like candy, a candy treat”

The US boy band featuring Bobbi Brown amongst others, release a cheesy song that sounds much like the Jackson 5… 4/10

10) The Police – Every breath you take (4)

“I feel so cold and I long for your embrace”

Andy Summers clipped guitar notes and Stings plodding bass line set the backdrop for The Police’s best known song… A classic, kind of… (8/10)

July 1983

11) Rod Stewart – Baby Jane (3)

“Now you're moving in high society - don't forget I know secrets about you”

Average outing from Rod… no Maggie May but slightly less embarrassing than Do ya think I’m sexy... 6/10

12) Paul Young – Wherever I lay my hat (3)

“For I'm the type of guy who gives girl the eye, everybody knows”

Paul Young could sing, no doubt about that, but unfortunately he couldn’t write. You can only release so many covers before you get found out… this was a cover… 7/10

Aug 1983

13) KC & the Sunshine Band – Give it up (3)

“Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na na! Baby give it up, give it up”

Harmless white disco effort from KC and his band. Song of the year? Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, no… 5/10

Sep 1983

14) UB40 – Red red wine (3)

“Red, red wine goes to my head - makes me forget that I still need her so”

Pleasant enough reworking of the Reggae standard! Unfortunately, for the Brummy boys there were only so many gems tucked away in the Reggae vaults… 7/10

15) Culture Club – Karma Chameleon (6)

“Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream - Red gold and green, red gold and green”

Wow – was this really up there for 6 weeks! Seems longer somehow… this sounded like a farewell song somehow, and so it proved for Culture Club… their career over in about 12 months… (7/10)

Nov 1983

16) Billy Joel – Uptown Girl (5)

“She's been living in her white bread world”

Billy’s most commercial effort to date… to date model Christie Brinkley who appeared in the video. It worked, they eventually married! This song however was a slap in the face who preferred Billy the piano troubadour. (6/10)

Dec 1983

17) The Flying Pickets – Only You (2)

“All I needed was the love you gave, all I needed for another day…”

More Christmas weirdness as an all male ‘a cappella’ group cover Yazoo’s electro-pop classic. A novelty at best… (5/10)

Ian’s Top Ten Number 1’s of 1983

1. David Bowie – Let’s Dance
2. Spandau Ballet – True
3. Duran Duran – Is there something I should know?
4. The Police – Every breath you take
5. Paul Young – Wherever I lay my hat
6. UB40 – Red red wine
7. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
8. Phil Collins – You can’t hurry love
9. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
10. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

The Tail at The Airliner

Support band The Rhone Occupation were very good - Elliott Smith meets Thom Yorke...

The Tail played an confident and well received debut show. The songs are catchy power-pop dominated by Ted Scarlett's excellent guitar work. However, the guitar effects are a little overwhelming for me and sound like a cross between 'Dreamtime' era Billy Duffy (which is fine) and Andy Summers treacly chorus fx which have not dated well... The girls in the band are accomplished musicians and Maiana Lila Noce is a good singer but needs to connect with the audience more...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I started something I couldn't finish... Part 3

A punk from Croydon, a man wearing a dress and the perils of buying prophylactics, anyway - enough about me, here's my review of 1982. Best line: 'do you vant fries viz your order?'

Jan 1982

1) Bucks Fizz – Land of Make Believe (2 weeks at Number 1)

“Shadows, tapping at your window. Ghostly voices whisper will you come and play?”

The Fizz prove the exception to the rule that representing the UK in Eurovision is a bad career move! However, being in a near fatal coach crash is and later this year their career takes a hiatus in which it would never recover… Harmless song if you like that sort of thing… (4/10)

2) Shakin Stevens – Oh Julie (1)

“Stay with me, baby, lay with me, baby!”

Shaky chalks up his 3rd Number 1. Was this a cover? If not it certainly sounds a lot like one… Another Rock’n’roll cliché and another number 1! (4/10)

Feb 1982

3) Kraftwerk – The Model (1)

“She's posing for consumer products now and then”

Only Kraftwerk could use “consumer products” in a song and get away with it! The appetite for electronic music has been whetted over the last 12 months by some young pretenders and it’s good to see the grand masters reaching the top spot! Beautiful electronics from those efficient Germans… (8/10)

4) The Jam – Town Called Malice (3)

“Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard”

Another Jam single straight in at number 1! Weller bids farewell to the institutions of milk floats, Steam trains and Sunday’s roast beef over a Motown inspired beat complete with Hammond organ. Lyrically a nod to Ray Davies’s Village Green but Weller was always honest about nicking from Davies, Marriott, Lennon and McCartney… Backed with the funky Precious, an excellent single… (10/10)

March 1982

5) Tight Fit – The Lion Sleeps Tonight (3)

“A wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a wimoweh”

My spell-check just crashed! What can I say about this one? A remake I believe and totally unforgivable! (2/10)

6) Goombay Dance Band – Seven Tears (3)

“Seven tears have flown into the river; seven tears are running to the sea”

From what I remember this had a bit of a jungle feel too, or was I still having those nightmares about The Lion Sleeps Tonight… Certainly had a world music feel to it before world music was popular… Alas, this song was popular (3/10)

April 1982

7) Bucks Fizz – My Camera never lies (1)

“Wonder why you’re wasting your time with another disguise ‘cos there’s no compromise”

…and that was one of the better lines! Last of the hat-trick of number 1’s for the chirpy Buck’s Fizz! Didn’t the hot girl leave at some point? Wonder if she puts Buck’s on the CV! Not as strong as the previous hits (it that’s possible!) (3/10)

8) Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony and Ivory (3)

“We all know that people are the same where ever you go - there is good and bad in everyone”

This record did little for racial harmony – probably because the two parties involved were on different continents for its recording and promo video! I’m sure McCartney was holed up in Kintyre following his recent marijuana bust in Japan. Insipid song… 5/10

May 1982

9) Nicole – A Little Peace (2)

“Just like a bird that can no longer fly - I'm feeling that way some times”

Another Eurovision winner hits the top! I think she was a young German… wonder what she did after this… “Do you vant fries viz your order?” 5/10

10) Madness – House of fun (2)

“Box of balloons with the feather-light touch - pack of party-poppers that pop in the night”

Only in the UK could a song about world peace be followed by a song about buying prophylactics! Madness reach number 1 for the first time and a lot of fun it is too – a whole house full to be sure… Fun video too... 7/10

June 1982

11) Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes (2)

“We don't follow fashion - that would be a joke!”

Indeed. Marginally better than Prince Charming and quite a catchy (in an influenza sort of way…) song about the press, who would very soon be saying Adam who? 6/10

12) Charlene – Never been to me (1)

“I've been to paradise but I've never been to me”

You should go – I have you can get some good one-ways deals at the moment… Awful song and corny as hell… 3/10

13) Captain Sensible – Happy Talk (2)

“You've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream - how you gonna have a dream come true”

Surreal - A punk from Croydon getting to #1 singing a song from a 30 year old musical!!! Shouldn’t have worked, but the Captain stays faithful to the spirit of the original and makes a damned good song! 7/10

14) Irene Cara – Fame (3)

“I can catch the moon in my hand - don't you know who I am”

Catchy theme tune to the TV series about talented kids dancing around in the school cafeteria. 6/10

Aug 1982

15) Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen (4)

“You in that dress - my thoughts I confess verge on dirty”

A pleasant enough song from Dexy’s but this would be the albatross that everything that came after would be judged upon… No-one had a clue what Kevin Rowland was singing about, but no-one at the school disco cared! We just liked to do a little jig and go crazy to the fast bit at the end! (8/10)

Sep 1982

16) Survivor – Eye of the tiger (4)

“Went the distance now I'm back on my feet - just a man and his will to survive”

This really was an eclectic year at the top – but not in a good way… Another movie tie-in – Rocky I think… Interesting accented intro but then degenerates quickly into hair-band cliché, complete with helium induced vocals… (5/10)

Oct 1982

17) Musical Youth – Pass the Dutchie (3)

“'Cause the spirit of Jah, you know he leads you on!”

An African-American friend was dismayed when I told her Musical Youth were not in fact from Jamaica – they were from Birmingham! Nice little Reggae sing-a-long about food, apparently, although I’m sure there were some Ganga references thrown into the pot… (6/10)

18) Culture Club – Do you really want to hurt me (3)

“Precious kisses, words that burn me - lovers never ask you why”

It seems amazing looking back but how someone looked and dressed was still a big deal in 1982…Was he a boy or a girl? All that did matter was George had a great voice and this was a good song… 7/10

Nov 1982

19) Eddy Grant – I Don’t Wanna Dance (3)

“I love your personality - oh but I don't want our love on show”

The UK has gone mad for Reggae – three consecutive songs at #1. Perhaps the UK has finally embraced its multi-racial society! Average song… 6/10

Dec 1982

20) The Jam – Beat Surrender (2)

“And as it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end”

The last single… not their best but a pounding rhythm and some excellent horns guarantee Weller gets his wish to go out on top! 8/10

21) Renee & Renato – Save your Love (4)

“Save your love my darling, save your love - for summer nights with moon and stars above”

There’s nothing like saving the best for last – and this is nothing like it! Cheesy song with a hilarious video featuring the two conspirators and their combined weight of at least a tonne! (2/10)

Ian’s Top 10 Number 1’s of 1982

1) The Jam – Town Called Malice
2) The Jam – Beat Surrender
3) Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen
4) Culture Club – Do you really want to hurt me
5) Captain Sensible – Happy Talk
6) Madness – House of fun
7) Kraftwerk – The Model
8) Musical Youth – Pass the Dutchie
9) Irene Cara – Fame
10) Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes

Morvern Callar (2002)

Morvern Callar is a movie you should love because A. It has the brilliant Samantha Morton in the title role and B. it's arty. However, Morton has her hands tied by an almost non-existent script and indeed there is very little (if any) dialogue in the first hour. The thin plot surrounds the unexplained suicide of Morvern's boyfriend, who leaves a note on his computer along with his first (and definitely last) novel, with instructions to print and send the book to the first of a list of publishers. Morvern changes the author's name on the manuscript to her own and starts printing the novel. With the body still warm she goes out with her friends to party - think 'Shallow Grave' without the humour...

The second half of the film is a little better with Morvern leaving the dreary unnamed Scottish town where she lives for a holiday somewhere in Spain. The film suddenly bursting into color as Morvern and her friend ditch their cheesy 18-30 hotel and go off into the Spanish countryside as the film turns road-movie. In the meantime, the publishers fly out to Spain to meet Morvern and well, you can probably guess the rest...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

SLR CD Release show...

I started something I couldn't finish... Part 2

And so to 1981 - the death of a legend, riots in the inner-cities and Bucks Fizz. Only in the UK can music so perfectly capture the mood of a nation... Best line: 'a couple of bubbly blonds and girls aren't bad either...'

Jan 1981

1) John Lennon – Imagine (4 weeks at #1)

“Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too”

Despite a couple of weeks of temporary insanity involving a Grandma and a school choir, the nation mourns the death of one of it’s greatest songwriters and it’s fitting that his best solo record tops the charts for the whole of January… (10/10)

Feb 1981

2) John Lennon – Woman (2)

“And woman, hold me close to your heart - however distant don't keep us apart; after all it is written in the stars”

What better to way to follow up a Lennon classic than another Lennon classic song! Continuing the theme of redemption and new beginnings from Double Fantasy this is a straight-up poignant love-song! (8/10)

Feb 1981

3) Joe Dolce – Shaddup your face (3)

“Ah, shaddap-a your face“

Precisely… Next! (0/10)

March 1981

4) Roxy Music – Jealous Guy

“I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm sorry that I made you cry. I didn't mean to hurt you - I'm just a jealous guy”

Ferry’s re-working of a Lennon 1971 album track was a stroke of genius. But where there was once a song about jealousy in a relationship, there was now a song about a stalker who was willing to commit murder… (9/10)

5) Shakin Stevens – This Ole House (4)

“Ain't got time to fix the shingles, ain't a-got time to fix the floor”

Good old Shaky – a national hero, albeit a slighty slow, west-country, rock’n’roll one! The English Elvis if you like, but without the charisma or the sales… A fun record, and Green Door would soon be a knocking! (5/10)

April 1981

6) Buck’s Fizz – Making your mind up (3)

“Don't let your indecision, take you from behind”

The UK’s entry for Eurovision song contest in 1981… Did we win? Did we care? Another fun record, with a couple of bubbly blonds – and the girls weren’t bad either! (5/10)

May 1980

7) Adam and the Ants – Stand and Deliver (5)

“Even though you fool your soul your conscience will be mine, all mine”

Adam Ant that discarded the last of his art-punk credibility and the public was loving it… But this was the MTV age and the Ant’s videos were more camp than a month at Butlins - face-paint, leather strides and a few buxom wenches and the world was his… for a while… The song, was there one? Burundi drums, apache yelps and pantomime lyrics! (6/10)

June 1980

8) Smokey Robinson – Being with you (2)

“People can change, they always do - haven't they noticed the changes in you?”

Smokey was past his best but he could still hold down a song… The video didn’t hurt - beaches and casual jumpers…are you taking notes Duran? (6/10)

9) Michael Jackson – One day in your life (2)

“And when things fall apart, you'll remember one day”

Sentimental rubbish! The pre-wacko Jacko and a little boring to be honest… with Thriller, mega-stardom and Bubbles a mere blip on the horizon. Hey Micheal, a word of advice – give Quincy a call! (5/10)

July 1981

10) The Specials – Ghost Town (3)

“Bands won't play no more, too much fighting on the dance floor”

The political mood of the nation captured perfectly, Thatcher in power, riots in the cities and unemployment reaching epidemic proportions! The Specials were about to split in half and this was a fitting swansong! Brilliant (10/10)

Aug 1981

11) Shakin Stevens – Green Door (4)

“There's an old piano and they're playin' hot behind the green door”

Shaky proves that lightning can strike twice in the same place! Another rock’n’roll cliché much in the same vein as This Ole House. Unfortunately, the man’s future seems, well, a little shaky! (4/10)

12) Aneka – Japanese Boy (1)

“If only he would write me or call - A word of explanation that's all!”

In the years after the Black and white minstrels but before political correctness, it was good to see you could still dress up Japanese and get away with it… As for Aneka, I would prefer a Japanese boy… (3/10)

Sep 1980

13) Soft Cell – Tainted Love (2)

“This tainted love you've given, I give you all a boy could give you”

Soft Cell remake a Northern soul standard and turn it into a classic! Marc Almond is the new anti-pop star and Dave Ball proves that synthesizers can be used with warmth and subtlety when a good song is included in the recipe! (9/10)

14) Adam and the Ants – Prince Charming (4)

“Ridicule is nothing to be scared of …”

Another flashy video, but it’s obviously Mr Goddard has started to take himself far too seriously… Lacking the humour and punchiness of Stand and Deliver it’s clear that the Ants are running out of ideas! (5/10)

Oct 1981

15) Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin – It’s my party (4)

“Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone but Judy left the same time”

Another oldie remade for the new electronic age. Not a patch on Tainted Love but Dave Stewart realizes what he can do with a good singer… Annie, where are you? (5/10)

Nov 1981

16) The Police – Every little thing she does is magic (1)

“It's a big enough umbrella but it's always me that ends up getting wet”

Sting and the boys can still produce the hits but it’s all getting a little stale… time to move on me thinks but there may still be a classic left in them! (6/10)

17) Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure (2)

“Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn…”

Mercury and Bowie put their ego’s aside and come up with a great collaboration! From the bass riff opening to the signature Brian May guitar wanks - it shouldn’t work but somehow it comes off! (8/10)

Dec 1981

18) Julio Iglesias – Begin the Beguine (1)

“When they begin the beguine, quiero sentir las cosas de siempre”

Julio’s accented croonings smooth their way into the number 1 spot. The fact no-one understands the words, and the tales of his womanizing only add to his appeal. Marginally better than Joe Dolce… (4/10)

19) The Human League – Don’t you want me (5)

“The five years we have had have been such good times - I still love you”

The League join Soft Cell in flying the electronic flag on top of the charts. Brilliant analog electronica, a catchy tune, eye-catching mini-movie video and a couple of backing singers pulled out of the school disco make this an irrestible classic!

Ian’s Top 10 Number 1’s of 1981

1) The Specials – Ghost Town
2) John Lennon – Imagine
3) Soft Cell – Tainted Love
4) The Human League – Don’t you want me
5) Roxy Music – Jealous Guy
6) Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure
7) John Lennon – Woman
8) Adam and the Ants – Stand and Deliver
9) Smokey Robinson – Being with you
10) Police – Every little thing she does is magic

Friday, October 10, 2008

I started something I couldn't finish... Part 1

A couple of years ago I started on the gargantuan (well not really) task on reviewing all the #1 Hit Singles in the UK charts during the 80's... Why? Why not! Call it an exorcism of ghosts from the collective memory of every teenager sitting in front of Top of The Pops on a wet and windy Thursday evening at 7:30pm waiting to see if their hero's would be appearing, or more importantly what Pan's People would be dancing half-naked to. Anyway, here for your reading pleasure and entertainment is what I thought of the hits of 1980... Best line: 'sung by a heavy white chick… A portent of worse times ahead at the local disco…'

Jan 1980

1) The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket (2 weeks at #1)

“I gotta have some of your attention – give it to me!”

The Pretenders take a turn pop-wards in the first number 1 of the eighties! Chrissie Hynde is cool, sexily prancing around in her leather strides. She’s sexy but she’s trashy - with a face only a mother (or Jim Kerr) could love. A catchy song and a worthy way to start the decade… 7/10

Feb 1980

2) The Specials – Too much too young (2)

“Now you’re chained to the cooker making currant buns for tea”

Terry Hall, Jerry Dammers and co warn about the perils of teenage marriage and pregnancy in this social message to urban youth… Another great song and Two-Tone records is flying high, despite Madness jumping ship after their debut “Prince.” More commercial than the ska-tinged debut “Message to you Rudy” and an energetic chart topper that was accompanied by a blistering live version video…. 7/10

3) Kenny Rogers – Coward of the county (2)

“His mama called him Tommy, the folks just called him yellow”

…or Yell for short… How a country singer ever makes it to number 1 in the UK I’ll never know! A heart-warming story about standing up for your girl when she’s being attacked by red-necks. Corny, and alas popular… 3/10

March 1980

4) Blondie – Atomic (2)

“Oh, uh-huh make it magnificent. Tonight. Right”

Blondie start to move away from their New York new wave sound and start to embrace disco. But really, who cares about the song when you’re transfixed watching Debbie Harry in the videos or on Top of the Pops! 6/10

5) Fern Kinney – Together we are beautiful (1)

“Can't you see, it's the chemistry - You really must agree together we are beautiful”

Inoffensive, lightweight, pseudo-disco from Fern. Isn’t she on TV now – or maybe that’s someone else… Not sure how, or why, this made the top but thankfully only stayed for one week… 4/10

6) The Jam - Going Underground (3)

“You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns”

Great single from Weller & Co – a defining single from The Jam’s arsenal. Weller’s political rant was probably lost on most of the people (including myself) who bought the record – we just liked to pogo around to it at the school disco. Brilliant! 9/10

April 1980

7) Detroit Spinners – Working my way back to you (2)

“I'll be working my way back to you babe, with a burning love inside”

Motor city and Motown’s popularity remains strong through the 80’s… Smooth harmonies and a pleasant song about trying to get back with your woman after you screwed it up the first time… 6/10

8) Blondie – Call me (1)

“Roll me in designer sheets I'll never get enough”

Debbie’s back and what’s she wearing this time? Unfortunately, Blondie have kinda jumped the shark by this point and this was a disappointing single despite the clarion call of the chorus. Lyrically poor and covering old ground musically… 5/10

May 1980

9) Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s – Geno (2)

“This man was my bombers, my Dexy's, my high!”

Fantastic homage to Geno Washington from Kevin Rowland and the gang - you’ll not hear better brass than on this song… Dexy’s are heading for mass popularity and Eileen is just around the corner. A band who’s output is sadly overlooked due to a forthcoming song with a fast bit and a little jig at the end! 8/10

10) Johnny Logan – What’s another year? (2)

“What's another year for someone who's lost everything that he owns?”

Quite a long time Johnny… but probably just long enough to write another lyrically impoverished follow-up… Popular with the aged, the Irish and especially the aged Irish!

11) Theme from MASH – Suicide is Painless (3)

“Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please”

Popular TV show by all accounts, although I must confess I always used to switch channels… I don’t know about suicide being painless – this song isn't. Not that it’s a bad song; it’s just kind of depressing. Ian Curtis from Joy Division had committed suicide in May 1980 and hearing this song all the time bummed me out… 5/10

June 1980

12) Don McLean – Crying (3)

“But darling what can I do, for you don’t love me, and I’ll always be crying over you”

What was it with the UK in 1980? Third depressing song in a row and 8 weeks of number 1’s being a real downer! Was Thatcher in office yet? Maybe that was it… I really don’t remember this song at all – I’d probably given up on music all together… Surely the next chart topper will be better… 4/10

July 1980

13) Olivia Newton-John & ELO – Xanadu (2)

“A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star”

Be careful what you wish for… a cheerful record hits the top of the charts and well, it could have been something way better than this… A OK tune and after Grease, Olivia could get away "OK" and still reach #1… 6/10)

14) Odyssey – Use it up and wear it out (2)

“Gonna use it up, gonna wear it out, ain't nothing left in this whole world I care about”

More low-wattage disco from the US. I’m pretty sure no bands from the UK were making this type of music at the time – thank god! The days of Level 42 and Shakatak were still a couple of years down the line, so we were still clinging to the dog-end of American disco! 5/10

August 1980

15) Abba – The Winner takes it all (2)

“I don’t wanna talk about the things we’ve gone through”

The Swedes’ tale of lost love that really hits the mark. Must have been a tough time in the band with the two break-ups but produced some brilliant songs and eloquent lyrics… 7/10

16) David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes (2)

“The shrieking of nothing is killing - just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I ain't got no money and I ain't got no hair”

Bowie’s first number one since Space Oddity and lyrically also a follow-up on Major Tom’s progress – still up there floating in a tin can I guess! Average song but a cool video with Steve Strange, some cheap video effects and some silly hats! 7/10

Sep 1980

17) The Jam – Start (1)

“It doesn't matter if we never meet again, what we have said will always remain”

Weller’s rip-off of Harrison’s Taxman and a disappointing follow-up to Going Underground… Another good video with a pop-art theme featuring Weller’s Lichtenstein decorated Rickenbacker guitar. . 7/10

18) Kelly Marie – Feels like I’m in love (2)

“Ain't been this way before but I know I'm turned on”

Was this the UK’s first home grown Disco smash? Possibly, and unsurprisingly sung by a heavy white chick… A portent of worse times ahead at the local disco… 5/10

19) The Police – Don’t stand so close to me (4)

“Book marking, she's so close now, this girl is half his age”

The Police tackle some weighty subject matter in this tale of a teacher/pupil relationship. The controversy couldn’t hide the fact that The Police weren’t the force they once were… 6/10

Oct 1980

20) Barbara Streisand – Woman in love (3)

“I kiss the morning goodbye, but down inside you know we never know why”

Babs could hold down a tune, but I think her lyricist was unavailable during the writing of this one – I’ve never heard such nonsense! Average song and was probably in a film to make it so popular… 5/10

Nov 1980

21) Blondie – The Tide is high (2)

“The tide is high but I'm holding on, I'm gonna be your number one”

And yes, you knew this was gonna get to number one! Blondie mailed this one in and got away with it! A calypso/reggae flavored walk along the beach but the sun was already setting on Blondie’s popularity and ability to write a good tune… 6/10

22) Abba – Super Trooper (3)

“All I do is eat and sleep and sing, wishing every show was the last show”

Not one of Abba’s best by a long shot. A cheerful song about trying to stay focused and happy whilst on tour… The cheesy chorus detracts from quite interesting subject matter… 6/10

Dec 1980

23) John Lennon – Just like Starting Over (1)

“Our life together is so precious together”

John Lennon has been shot dead in New York – a nation mourns! A simple rock’n’roll love song for Yoko… Starting over was a theme for not just this song but the Double fantasy album that accompanied it… 7/10

24) St Winifred’s School Choir – There’s no-one quite like Grandma (2)

“And one day when we're older we'll look back and say: there's no one quite like Grandma”

The good old Christmas number 1! No Cliff Richard this year? Oh well, we’ll buy some other novelty record. I remember the cute girl with the lisp singing this… sickly sweet and corny as hell, but it is true – there is no-one quite like Grandma! 3/10

Ian’s Top 10 Number 1’s of 1980

1) The Jam – Going Underground
2) Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno
3) David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes
4) The Specials – Too much too young
5) The Pretenders – Brass in pocket
6) Abba – The Winner takes it all
7) The Jam – Start
8) John Lennon – Just like starting over
9) The Police – Don’t stand so close to me
10) Blondie – Call me

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Whatever happened to Love Hammer?

I'm stumbled across some stuff I wrote at the beginning of 2006. I used to be quite a funny guy - not sure what happened...

16th February 2006... Hard-Fi, The Jam, The Cure, The Specials and The Clash

Hard-Fi could do for Staines what The Jam did for Woking and The Cure did for Crawley - absolutely nothing! But it goes to show that even the most horrible towns south of Watford can actually produce some good music. As the larger towns clean up their inner cities, the once prestigious suburbs and commuter towns take on the urban alienation once reserved only for the big city estates!

Anyway, back to Hard-Fi - my advice would be forget about sounding like The Clash and The Specials (leave the melodica at home when you're recording the next album) - you could be the best thing out of Staines since Ali G. Aiii!


15th February 2006... Moby, Eminem, Dido, The Beatles and Marilyn Manson

I read that Moby said Eminem has "blood on his hands" after a fan killed his girlfriend after listening to Shady's song "Stan." Even though it was probably the dreadful Dido that drove the fan to this heinous act, Moby has committed far worse atrocities - everything he has released since "Play!"

Fact is, music has long been associated with murder, from Charles Manson's adoption of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" through to the Columbine killers liking for Marilyn Manson as a warm up tune... I don't for one moment hold any of the artists above responsible for murder, except Moby, who has killed his own career stone dead!


29th January 2006... Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and Hear'say...

I'm sick of hearing about bands writing their "difficult second album"... Mostly, this is an excuse for laziness, lack of imagination or inability to write something that isn't simply rehashing the first album. The bands declare "it took my whole life to write the first album" but this is rarely true: most bands that get signed, do so within the first year or two of forming the group (presumably with a new set of songs) and those that don't, write some new songs to improve the opportunity of getting signed.

The real reason for a second album being difficult is that the music press don't care any more - they're too busy hyping the next 'big' thing. Take Arctic Monkeys (please take them...) who are nothing more than a slightly more polished northern version of The Libertines (without heroin and supermodels - so far) but the music press love them. The frenzy has even spilled over to the tabloids, with The Sun proclaiming their debut album may be the fastest seller of all time. Wow, that's amazing; until you realize the previous fastest seller was Hear'say's Popstars. Well, the press can continue to go ape but whilst I eagerly await their difficult second album, Arctic Monkeys leave me decidedly cold...


28th January 2006 - INXS and Love Hammer

I have a small confession to make. Well, quite a serious one actually – I went to see INXS last night! Yes, that’s right, the INXS that found their new singer, JD Fortune, on a reality TV show. For those that missed it, Rock Star: INXS was a reality show (a kind of rock version of American Idol) where the guys in the band chose a new singer out of 15 hopeful rockers. It was actually a good TV show and as Laura was into INXS back in the day, we decided to get tickets for the gig, which we enjoyed. I had forgotten how many hits INXS had over the years and new singer JD, although he’s no Michael Hutchence, is a good performer and singer and the old songs sounded very good. The new songs, however, sounded a little overwritten and you can always tell something bad is going to happen when a video screen comes down and some footage starts playing to take your mind off how bad the song is… Oops, up it goes again and straight into “What you need”. The one song from the new album that did go down well was JD’s “Pretty Vegas” (a song he wrote and performed as part of the Rock Star: INXS competition) although it remains to be seen whether INXS let him write anything else for the band...

Opening up (and somewhat less enjoyable) was runner up in the Rock Star: INXS competition, Marty Casey and his new band Love Hammer (you know I’ll get to the name in a minute...) Stuck between traditional rock and new rock, with not enough of either to please fans of either genre - they certainly didn’t appeal to a crowd made up of aging INXS fans, a lot of whom brought along their kids who liked the TV series. The highlight of Love Hammer (ok, ok, I’ll get to it soon…) was Marty’s song “Trees” (also written for the competition) and although it’s a good tune, the lyrics sound unsophisticated is this less poppy environment:

It'll be you and me up in the trees
and the forest will give us the answers.
It'll be you and I up in the sky
It's a combination for disaster.

You said it Marty, which leads me nicely onto the name of the band: Love Hammer. First, their LH logo looks like a couple of worms that got washed out of the hills by the rain and then run over by a car. Second, if you’re going to name a band after your penis, a little subtlety can go a long way…


16th January 2006... Bloc Party and J-Lo

I don't dislike Bloc Party, far from it! Well, perhaps not that far but anyway, the name just bugs me... It sounds like Blue Peter had a viewers competition to come up with an appropriate name for an indie band. In case you hadn't examined the nuances of the name, I will explain... Bloc Party sounds like block party - a large informal public celebration in which many members of a single neighborhood congregate to
observe a positive event of usually local importance. Well, obviously every indie kid loves a block party but this name isn't exactly hip (Jenny from the block anyone?) so let's change the first word to Bloc! Genius! This is really cool cos Bloc makes you think of eastern bloc countries: a little dangerous, a little
political and a little edgy. (They're obviously too young to know about red wedge!)

I know this is all a little complicated so here is a mathematical recap:

block party + (eastern) bloc = bloc party

Got it? OK, I'm off to listen to some J-Lo...


15th January 2006... The Editors, The Sound, Interpol, Joy Division, The Cure, Wire and Mike Flowers Pops

I was checking out The Editors as they are coming to town and they sound ok. The music reminded me of The Sound in their heyday, which is a good thing but the singer sounded like the guy from Interpol, which is a very bad thing. Anyway, it got me thinking about this whole post-punk sound-alike contest that's been doing on for a few years now. Interpol imitating Joy Division, Bloc Party imitating The Cure, the
world and his wife imitating Wire. Well it has to stop! Like Rockefeller getting a stock tip from the shoeshine boy, the market is ripe for a fall. When bands start sounding like bands who got their sound from another band, things ain't gonna last... Personally, I'm waiting for the next easy listening revival! Mike Flowers anyone?...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The SLR psych-pop road trip didn't need too much gas in the tank for the home territory show at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, joining those other vivacious darlings of the Orange County scene Brookline on the first night of their October residency...

Sean put in a storming performance - probably the best gig I've seen him play and the sound was excellent. The cohesive set included the five best songs from 'Evolutionary Sunset Call' plus another runout for the screamadelica stomp that is new song 'Is with a dub'... Great set and a wildly enthusiastic crowd for a change, the only disappointment being the omission of 'Gods don't worry' which I'm sure would have taken the roof off. The full set was:

Consultation Valley Ruse
Is a with dubs
New Stone 40
We still love them
Brand New Way

I didn't catch much of Brookline as I was over at the merch table but their songs are starting to become more familiar and I think with the right producer to give them a slightly edgier feel the kids would dig them. But what do I know?


Monday, October 6, 2008

James at House of Blues (Anaheim)

James played an excellent final US show in the somewhat surreal location of downtown Disneyland... Definately more energy than the San Diego show although still a little pedestrian in set arrangement in the middle third. The encore was the highlight with a runout for the baggy curio 'Gold Mother', the romantic 'Fred Astaire' and the sing-a-long 'Sometimes' with support band Unkle Bob joining the festivities...

Went to the after show but was happy to take a back seat and vicariously experience the joy of our friends Carlos, Sarah, and Cynthia (all James freaks...) meeting their heros...


Saturday, October 4, 2008

James at House of Blues (San Diego)

Support band Unkle Bob were pleasant enough, their light songwriting somewhere between Trashcan Sinatras and Snore (Snow) Patrol. Unfortunately, they were lacking charisma but what do I know? Expect to hear them soon on Grey's Anatomy or in some indie flick about a quirky love affair...

My enjoyment of James was partially spoiled by perforated eardrums courtesy of Kevin Shields and company Thursday night. However, despite having to wear earplugs I enjoyed the show and James put in a predictably flawless performance. My only criticism was they played a lot of slower songs in the middle of the set and even Sit Down was lacking in energy... Hopefully the day off today means their batteries will be fully recharged for the Anaheim show Sunday...

Got to meet Tim briefly at the after-show and was chatting to Saul and Dave for a while... Nice guys...

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Bloody Valentine at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

Noise terrorists My Bloody Valentine put in a blood curdling performance last night on the final night of their US tour. This is the first time I wore ear-plugs to a gig and although I don't have the post-concert ringing in my ears I do have a low frequency buzzing...

Even with hearing protection this was by far the loudest concert I've ever been to - a couple of times I loosened my ear-plugs and it was absolutely deafening. Anyway, it was a good show as MBV worked their way through the best parts of 'Isn't Anything' and 'Loveless', which seems to be the more popular album here.

We've all seen the YouTube clips of the noise barrage that is the closing part of 'You made me realise' but nothing prepared me for the sheer power and intensity of the experience. After the first part of the song MBV break into an explosion of noise which can only be described as like being strapped to the jet engine of a DC10 on take-off during a thunderstorm with a multi-story building collapsing on top of you. My whole body was shaking as the apocalyptic soundscape threatened to blow the ceiling off of the auditorium into the nearby pacific... The noise barrage went on for over 20 minutes (I timed it) without any reduction in intensity and had many fans stumbling shell-shocked towards the exits...

This isn't the clearest video but this is the closest one I found to what it actually sounded like: