Friday, October 27, 2006

Favourite Artists (No.2) - The Beloved

I was recently reading Dylan Jones rather interesting account of his re-discovery of his record collection in 'iPod, Therefore I Am'. In it Jones insists there are very few albums that have more than three or four tracks worth keeping on an mp3 player. Although not exactly revolutionary, it is a point well made and one I largely agree with. There are exceptions however, and 'Happiness' by The Beloved is a case in point.

The band began life in the early to mid-eighties and were a favourite of John Peel, performing a session for him in early 1985. There are obvious comparisons to be made to New Order, and this probably explains my early fondness for their efforts; but despite the indie sound they never featured too highly in my listening habits. That is until 1990 and the release of 'Happiness'. For a couple of years this was my saturday night record and an anthem for the time. I still cannot understand why it never makes these lists of 'best albums' that make the rounds of the music press. The band (by this time only Marsh and Waddington) had adopted the dance flavours of the time, and the poppy sound was an instant hit.

After 'Happiness' and the accompanying mix album 'Blissed out', Jon Marsh and Steve Waddington parted company. Marsh and his wife Helena then continued to DJ, write songs and release a couple of further albums but with only patchy success. So the story of The Beloved is only a brief one, but when their star shone it burned very brightly.

Tracks to savour:

This Means War (mp3)

The Sun Rising (mp3)
A Hundred Words (mp3)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Songs and Images of a Lifetime - 1965

Hmmm, a difficult decision with the choice of music, and an easy one with the film. I think that this is going to get harder and harder as I go on.

Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone (mp3)

I know this is two in a row for the folk meister. I also know this was the year of 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction'. I further know that this was the year of one of my favourite fab four records in 'Girl'. But this record is simply too huge to miss out. The speculation of who the song is about fuels the mythology that surrounds it. Rolling Stone magazine ranks it as the finest single ever produced, and although I'm not in agreement I can see why they, and many others, rate it so highly. Fantastic.

'Repulsion' - Dir. Roman Polanski

Not my favourite Polanski film, but this effort stands out in a rather bland year for cinema. I have also got to have at least one film starring Catherine Deneuve.

Buy Bob Dylan here

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Everybody Move to Prove the Groove

When I was 17 I went on an economics fieldtrip (yes they did exist) to Sheffield. It seemed like going to a musical Mecca with the well documented rise of the Sheffield synth sound in full swing. I had been an avid follower of The Human League for a couple of years and now disastrously they had just split. My thoughts at the time were that the split would herald the end of this revolution that was going to destroy rock. In fact, of course, it led to the birth of both Heaven 17 and the new Human League and rather than destroy rock and pop the synth sound embraced them wholeheartedly. Both Caberet Voltaire and Comsat Angels were already in place, and then came ABC later that year with 'Tears are not Enough'. It was an extraordinary time for this smallish city and I just loved the place. Looking back now it was all so short lived and of course Sheffeld has since produced other great bands - Pulp and Arctic Monkeys for starters anybody - but the late seventies / early eighties was just inspirational.


ABC - Poison Arrow (mp3)
Human League - Crow and a Baby (mp3)
Comsat Angels - It's History (mp3)
Heaven 17 - (We Dont Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (mp3)
Caberet Voltaire - Don't Argue (mp3)

Buy ABC right here
Buy Human League here
Come on buy Comsat Angels here
Buy Caberet Voltaire here
Buy Heaven 17 here

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Week in Politics ........

I share a lift into work most mornings with a friend of mine. We tend to talk about a range of topics and this morning it was politics. 'Why buy British?' was the central point at issue, and we threw around a number of points in our journey in what turned out to be quite a stimulating discussion about socialism. Anyway, to cut a 30 minute discussion short, we also started to think about politics in the media. Or in other words politics in music and film. So here are my top five political films and five of my favourite political songs (there are lots in this catagory but these five came to mind immediatly).


1. Battleship Potemkin (1925) Dir. Sergei Eisenstein
2. Bob Roberts (1992) Dir. Tim Robbins
3. Reds (1981) Dir. Warren Beatty
4. All The Presidents Men (1976) Dir. Alan J. Pakula
5. Salvador (1986) Dir. Oliver Stone


1. Gang of Four -
At Home He's A Tourist (mp3)
2. U2 -
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (mp3)
3. Paul Hardcastle -
19 (mp3)
4. Stiff Little Fingers -
Alternative Ulster (mp3)
5. The Jam -
A Town Called Malice (mp3)

Buy Gang of Four
Buy U2
Buy Paul Hardcastle
Buy SLF here
Buy The Jam

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Favourite Artists (No. 1 of ???) - Kate Bush

I remember a poster my brother had on his bedroom wall of a rather buxom Kate looking the viewer directly in the eye. I still think of it even now. Heaven knows what I must have been thinking at the time as a testosterone fueled 14 year old. I also remember having The Man with the Child in his Eyes as my number one single of the year at a time when anything not 'New Wave' was frowned upon by all my friends. Yes, she's as mad as a badger but what a talent. Here are my top ten tracks:

1. The Man with the Child in his Eyes
Cloudbusting (mp3)
3. This Womans Work
4. Running Up That Hill
5. Wuthering Heights
6. There goes a Tenner
7. Wow
Night of the Swallow (MP3)
9. Breathing
10. The Big Sky

Go ahead and buy Kate

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back to Basics

Watched 'Double Indemnity' again yesterday and this confirmed what I had always suspected. Namely, what a great film and what a shame they cannot do these any more. Double Indemnity works on a number of levels for me:

1. That studios today just cannot seem to risk any kind of budget on a character driven narrative, free from the bells and whistles of CGI.
2. What fantastic femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck makes.
3. You cannot get away with saying 'baby' to the object of your affections. (It just makes them want to shoot you).
4. That Billy Wilder should rightly be regarded as one of the directing greats.

Musical choices for today are:

The Cure - A Forest (mp3)
The Cure - Charlotte Sometimes (mp3)

You can go right ahead and buy more of The Cure

Monday, October 16, 2006

Songs and Images of a lifetime - 1964

Well the start of something that will last much longer than I would really like it to. The top songs and films of each year of my humble existence. I hope you like some of the choices. I'm sure I will have great fun thinking up excuses to think of these than do my job properly.

Bob Dylan - The Times they are a-changin' (MP3)

I always think that 1964 was a great year for music (Baby Love, Hard Day's Night, I Get Around - just for starters) but this takes the biscuit. I just loved the album when I started listening to Dylan in the late 70's, and this seemed to sum up the mood of a generation with Vietnam just around the corner.

Buy Bob Dylan Here

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)

My favourite director has always been Kubrick. No list can start without an immediate reference to the master.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thunder and Lightning

Woke up this morning to the sounds of a violent electrical storm. Got me in mind to think of my favourite storm related songs:

1. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
2. Concerto for a Rainy day - ELO
3. Wild is the Wind - David Bowie
4. Here Comes the Rain Again - Eurythmics

I'm sure there is plenty more. Still, gave me inspiration for humming practice on the way to work ...............