Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greatest Albums of the 1980's Part 1

The collaboration by Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh and Glenn Gregory produced one of the great unacknowledged albums of this period, The Luxury Gap was a masterwork of brooding pop synths interlaced with mature socio-political lyrics and a slice of dance floor grooviness. Pop fans of the period really only remember them for the big hits like Temptation while the purists will snub this album for the brasher debut album – Penthouse and Pavement. 

Born out the demise of the original line-up for The Human League, they were always the bridesmaid to the fey disco sounds of Oakey et al. I’m not for a minute saying that Dare is in any way a worse album, its just that The Luxury Gap was a bit more grown up. Far funkier than The Human League part 2 and with the genuine satire of tracks like Let’s All Make a Bomb. This was fine, enjoyable song writing of a kind that they would never match. 

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (mp3)

Monday, October 20, 2008


When I got to college in the autumn of 1984 I began listening to music in a way that I hadn’t done for years. Sometime around 1981ish I’d flogged all my punk and new wave vinyl for some paltry sum to a fellow sixth former (quite why I still can’t fathom). I know the death of my mum had hit me pretty hard but I switched off almost entirely from new music. I went to Australia (hardly stretching the musical boundaries) then came back and found a new girlfriend who only seemed to like listening to gospel music. I had reached a musical nadir. I worked in a clothes shop for the summer before going to college and failed to recognize the likes of Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood playing over the speakers – even if they were some truly awful cover versions because the shop wouldn’t pay for the originals.

Anyway, I got to college and met Kurt who introduced me to The Fall. I didn’t really have much choice because Kurt played them incessantly. And I hated them. It seemed a sprawling horrible mess of a sound. Mark E. Smith did not make proper music I thought. But something happened at some point. I haven’t a clue when, but the penny dropped and it made sense. I started listening to music with fresh vigour and an open mind. So thank you Kurt. And thank you Mark Smith. If only they made some stuff like this again.

The Fall – Hip Priest (mp3)

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Sometimes you just need Elliott Smith and nothing else will do

Elliott Smith - Needle in the Hay (mp3)

And just for good measure:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Just Open Your Eyes

Trips to London as an older teenager. A few miles down the track. Off the train and down the Tube. Covent Garden. Pissed (ish). Back on the Tube. Back on the train. Home.

One day outside of St.Pancras and there was this beautiful facade. And grime and filth and hurrying people and pigeons and more hurrying people inside. Lesson learned (and forgotten).

Pet Shop Boys - Kings Cross (mp3)

Well it's near enough I guess.

Oh and I think this is 100th post - eventually.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


So by deleting the post I did before christmas I reckon that this now becomes your 99th post and that means that rather than sitting around like for the last few months saying 'I think I'll do this for my hundredth post' and having established that the next Friday 29th February doesn't fall until 2036 (thank you darlin') so you're not falling back on the 'I'm sorry I only post on Friday 29th February' excuse, you can use this as the impetus to start blogging again. Don't go telling me about deadlines for Year 11 marking, we've had so many deadlines for year 11 marking this year and we've waved them all goodbye as they've receeded into the distance. It will be done.

Listen, enjoy, get on with it.

Belle and Sebastian - Your Cover's Blown mp3
The Cure - The Caterpillar (unplugged) mp3
The Decembrists - Billy Liar mp3

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Blatant Attempt to Boost My Hit Counter

What you see above is 'phasing'. I'm still unsure what this means but I think I can hear it happening when it does.

British band Nirvana (You can see it fitting into place now eh?) were the first to use this all the way through a track. Apparently The Beatles with 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and The Small Faces with 'Itchycoo Park' used the technique sporadically.

I recently dug out an old Island Records sampler album called 'You Can All Join In' made in 1969. It featured most, if not all, of the artists on the Island roster that year; including Stevie Winwood with Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. In addition were the aforementioned Nirvana with 'Rainbow Chaser' - a track that was my favourite on the album. They were formed in the summer of 1967 (probably in a purple haze) and made the kind of  progressive, flowery music you would expect from a band that names their single 'Rainbow Chaser'. Their album 'The Story of Simon Simopath' has been described as the first narrative based concept album released.

So all you Nirvana (some US based alternative) fans coming here to find some obscure rarity may be disappointed. But download it anyway and expand your horizons.

Nirvana - Rainbow Chaser (mp3) Buy

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Richard Anthony Hewson

I have a really awful memory. Ask me to remember the names of students in my year group in sixth form and I would struggle. In fact, if it wasn't for the occasional glance at Friends Reunited about 10-15 would be my limit.

My sixth form years in general are a bit hazy. I remember some of my teachers but none of the content of their lessons. In fact my main recollection is of the sixth form block itself with the Space Invaders machine, two table football machines and the pool table. We used to arrange competitions on all of them and being a lazy sod I would spend the majority of the time inbetween lessons (and sometimes during them) on any one of these distractions. There were also cushion fights and card marathons a plenty.

But the prize of the sixth form block was the hifi system. Students would try to dominate it with their chosen tunes and sometimes the Hendrix set would win, sometimes the punks, and at other times the Motorhead/Rainbow/ACDC crowd. For a short while someone (I forget who) used to put on the twelve inch version of Slide by the Rah Band. I quite liked it I remember and so muggins here bought it.

Now I'd completely forgotten about this until recently they were mentioned by Mick (of Raiding the Vinyl Archive fame) in the comments section of the rather spiffing Ghost of Electricity. Well to cut a long story short I dug it out and did a vinyl rip. And here I present it to you ................ and it is very, very, very dodgy. In fact I still can't work out what I saw in it at the time? This was a young man into all sorts of worthy music and I liked this pop/disco nonsense? I seriously am beginning to think I was abucted by aliens for a couple of years between 1981 and 1983. There is simply no other explanation. Tcch.

The Rah Band - Slide (mp3)

Visit them on their page at MySpace

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Birthday CP - Oops! I Missed Again

The Contrast Podcast was 100 this week. So a happy birthday to Tim and everybody who has shared in this marvelous collective. And while I have not exactly set the blogosphere alight with my contribution to CP, I try to download and listen when I can. Some people contribute on a random basis, while others are stalwarts who rarely miss an issue. And this, of course, is the beauty behind it. Well done Tim keep up the good work. Here's to another 100 and more.

This week the topic was 100 (I wonder why?) and here are the contributions:

(00:00) Sharon Jones - 100 days, 100 nights

Betty from The Royal Family

(04:34) Fun 100 - Computer

ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(07:21) Love of Diagrams - At 100%

Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(11:32) The Soundtrack of our lives - 21st century ripoff

Chris from

(15:35) Maxi Priest - Full 100

Mark from Cinema Du Lyon

(21:06) The Byrds - One hundred years from now

Brian from State Fare

(23:56) NOFX - 100 times fuckeder

Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(25:59) Lyres - 100cc’s (Pure Thrust)

FiL from Pogoagogo

(29:11) Generation X - One hundred punks

Dirk from Sexy Loser

(33:03) Carlton Rees - 99 and a half won’t do

Matthew from Song by Toad

(36:35) Nick Lowe - One’s too many and a hundred ain’t enough

Anna from the Music I-Quiz

(39:30) The Anniversary - A hundred ships

SiD from Too Much Rock

(45:23) Shout out louds - 100 degrees

Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(49:26) The Cure - One hundred years

Eiron from A Blog of No Importance

(56:25) The Divine Comedy - I’ve been to a marvellous party

JC from The Vinyl Villain

(01:01:00) The Offspring - One hundred punks

Andy from Circles of Concrete

(01:04:33) The Tragically Hip - At the hundredth meridian

Thom from Better in the dark

(01:08:17) The Pixies - Oh my golly

John from And you’ll never hear surf music again

(01:10:30) The Loved Ones - 100K

James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:13:51) Roy Harper - When an old cricketer leaves the crease

Stuart Dade

Well done to all concerned then. Some wonderful tracks. In time honoured tradition I would now like to offer my own interpretation - so I begin with:

Blur - End of a Century (mp3) Buy

Beloved - A Hundred Words (mp3) Buy

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Droopy Drawers Number Forty Four

According to Andrew Oswald of Warwick University I should be at an all time low. I am 44 and have been now for 16 days. Fuck. You see 44 is the average age for feeling at your lowest. For the last few years it has all been down hill. In fact from my early twenties I have been heading inexorably for the doldrums, spiralling out of control as I plummet towards middle age. However, it is not the fault of the kids being a constant drain on my limited recourses, nor the fault of my inadequate job or my steadily greying head. Oswald states that there is nothing that can be done to alter my state. No kids, tough, you're still depressed. Filthy rich - well that won't help you either. The U-shaped curve of psychological well-being is fixed and unalterable.

So thats 384 hours of misery so far and 8400 more to go until things start to become a little better. But of course it will only be a small improvement because the theory states that I am at the nadir of the 'u' in my life. It will only get significantly better when I'm about 58 or so and by the time I'm 70 I will be beside myself with happiness. By then all my old friends will be dying off and I will be 'counting my blessings' as I realise what a lucky soul I am.

So how true is it? These things are always difficult to prove one way or another. A trawl through history and you will find a fair few unhappy souls in their middle years. Dante wasn't exactly a laugh a minute was he? But in many (most) ways I really don't give a shit. Some of my friends are divorced, some divorcing and some depressed. Others have a very positive demeanour most of the time. So either Oswald is right only some of the time or they are good actors. Pass the Oscar anyone?

The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now (mp3) Buy

Tori Amos - China (mp3) Buy

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Contrast Podcast

Its 1997 at the weekly jamboree that is Contrast Podcast. In my time honoured way I have failed to contribute. But have my submission here instead.

This is the playlist then:

(00:00) The Wannadies - Hit

Tim from The face of today

(02:43) Blur - Song 2

JC from The Vinyl Villain

(05:53) Radiohead - Electioneering

Linda from Speed of dark

(09:52) Cornershop - Brimful of Asha (original version)

Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(15:01) Legendary Pink Dots - Destined to repeat

ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(20:33) Stapleton - International departures

Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(24:23) Old 97’s - Melt snow

Greg from Broken Dial

(28:03) Matthew Sweet - Superbaby

Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(31:52) Ween - Mutilated lips

Dweller from Child without an iPod

(36:35) Whiskeytown - 16 days

Natalie from Mini-obs

(41:19) Wheat - Summer

SiD from Too Much Rock

(47:47) Bob Dylan - Make you feel my love

Eiron from A Blog of No Importance

(53:19) Everclear - Sunflowers

Andy from Circles of Concrete

(57:21) The Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench

James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:03:03) Celine Dion - My heart will go on

The Man from S.L.I.M.E.

(01:04:30) Cornershop - Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook remix)

FiL and Gina from Pogoagogo

(01:09:12) Radiohead - Paranoid Android (live on Later)


(01:15:56) Ben Folds Five - Evaporated

Marcy from Lost in your inbox

and this is my contribution:

The Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats (mp3) Buy

How they were ever missed off in the first place is a mystery.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly died this day in 1959. The plane crash that claimed his life (as well as Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper) when only 22 years old, had far reaching effects in the world of rock and roll music. Its hard to believe that Holly recorded songs for only three years.

Buddy Holly - Peggy Sue (mp3)

Weezer - Buddy Holly (mp3)

Buy Holly and Weezer here and here