Sunday, 19 February 2012

"Sky Blue Bells Ringing Part 1" - A Jingle Jangle Pop Dream

"Bells are ringing through the town again,
Children look up, all they hear is sky blue bells ringing..."

I fancied making a mix of some of my favourite jingle jangle pop moments. So here it is: a mix of some of my favourite jingle jangle pop moments.

This is for my friend Andy McQueen. May neither of us ever wake up.

Download here

01. The Hollies - Can't Let Go
02. The Pretenders - Night In My Veins
03. Pale Fountains - Jean's Not Happening
04. Kirsty Maccoll - Free World
05. Jenny and Johnny - Animal
06. The Velvet Underground - Who Loves The Sun
07. The Monochrome Set - Ici Les Enfants
08. The Soft Boys - I Wanna Destroy You
09. Kurt Vile - Puppet To The Man
10. Big Star - What's Going Ahn
11. The House of Love - The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes
12. R.E.M. - So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)
13. Let's Active - Blue Line
14. The Bangles - Tell Me
15. Fairport Convention - Tried So Hard
16. Crowded House - Fall At Your Feet
17. Dwight Twilley Band - You Were So Warm
18. Mighty Mighty - Night After Night
19. Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream
20. The Clean - In The Dreamlife U Need A Rubber Soul
21. Roxy Music - Over You
22. Travis - Coming Around
23. Roy Orbison - You Got It

Friday, 23 December 2011

"Bowie-esque" - A Christmas Present

"We will be gods on nite flights..."

I recently organised a David Bowie tribute night for charity. I had a wild time dusting off my old RCA LPs and thinking about Bowie-flavoured music by other artists for my DJ set. Here are two mixes containing some of the tracks we played on the night, and some we forgot to.

Thanks for your company in 2011.


Download here

01. Magazine - The Thin Air
02. The Sea and Cake - Sound & Vision
03. Roxy Music - Both Ends Burning
04. The Walker Brothers - Nite Flights
05. Beck - Chemtrails
06. Psychedelic Furs - We Love You
07. Pop Levi - Blue Honey
08. Iggy Pop - China Girl
09. Suede - Europe Is Our Playground
10. Pat Metheney & David Bowie - This Is Not America (Instrumental)
11. Japan - Quiet Life
12. Neu! - Hero
13. Vince Taylor And His Playboys - Brand New Cadillac
14. Talking Heads - Memories Can't Wait
15. Philip Glass - V2 Schneider
16. Angelo Badalamenti & David Bowie -A Foggy Day


Download here

01. Sebastian Tellier - Fantino
02. T. Rex - Cosmic Dancer
03. Blur - Strange News from Another Star
04. Brian Eno - Dead Finks Don't Talk
05. Jobriath - World Without End
06. Luther Vandross - Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)
07. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
08. The Emperor Machine - Repetition
09. Tobor Experiment Disco Experience - Station To Station
10. David Bowie - When The Boys Come Marching Home
11. Brian Eno and John Cale - Spinning Away
12. Carla Bruni - Absolute Beginners
13. Brian Eno - I'll Come Running
14. Warpaint - Ashes to Ashes
15. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (Studio Instrumental)
16. Velvet Underground - Rock & Roll

Monday, 21 November 2011

I'm So Sorry

"I'm so sorry for everything I've done..."

It's Pop 'Til You Drop this Saturday night and I'm going to be playing a round-up of my favourite tracks from 2011. 'I'm So Sorry' is one of them. I really fell for Kitty, Daisy and Lewis this year, especially after watching them at Glastonbury. When I saw the stage times beforehand I worried that quarter to one in the afternoon on the Sunday might be a tall order, but when it came to it I was stationed at the Avalon stage on my camping chair by 11.30am, having showered and breakfasted elaborately, such was my excitement!

One of the best things about the KDL live experience is all the instrument swapping. Obviously, their overall band sound is founded on that magical sibling intuition, but each member also has his or her own distinctive style within that context. You know when it's Lewis rather than Daisy playing drums, for example. I love the fill he does at 3.58 on 'I'm So Sorry'. He may drift fractionally on the timing front but his sound is so joyful and raw. He punctuates with great invention. Jamaican ska trumpet veteran Eddie 'Tan Tan' Thornton also plays on the tune and joined the trio at Glasto. He lifted the whole crowd with his energy. Not bad for an eighty-year-old.

Almost every time I've played 'I'm So Sorry' out, someone has come over to ask what it is. It's a finger-snapper, a toe-tapper, a spinal cracker, for sure, but it's also got that emotional quality - it dislodges shy girls from their bar stools in fifteen seconds flat. Remorse on shellac. If Winehouse had covered this before she snuffed it, it would have been number one for months.

NME got it right for once when they said that the 'Smoking in Heaven' album 'fizzes with the simple joy of creation'. Buy it on 78rpm here!

This post goes out to Bill Quaintance - the inventor of the elaborate breakfast.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


"You know you wanna give the gong a bang..."

Memories of Y2K, as no one called it. Just a brilliantly wyrd record.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dreams Coming True

Nile Rodgers deconstructs 'Let's Dance' at Zion Arts Centre, Manchester 11/11/11.

Johnny Marr and Nile Rodgers slice out 'Le Freak' at The Warehouse Project, Manchester 12/11/11. (Click to enlarge.)

Photography: Joseph T Den

Note to self: dreams can come true.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Original Sin

"Dream on white boy
Dream on black girl
And wake up to a brand new day
To find your dreams have washed away..."

I've always had a thing for PROPER rock stars. FRONT men. High kickers, mike stand frottagers, the leather-waistcoat-no-shirt fraternity. Men who can prance down stadium catwalks like coke-eyed gazelles, dampening the crotches of onlookers, unconquerable, hair flailing. I don't want irony. I don't want knowing smirks. I don't want 'Hello Mum. It's me. Your son. It's Robbie'. I want Jim Morrison. I want 'Songs of Faith and Devotion'-era Dave Gahan. And sometimes, most of all, I want Hutchence.

'Original Sin', released in 1983, was written by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Fariss and is one of the great INXS singles. It was a massive hit worldwide - their first Australian number one - and every synthetic snare and tight little guitar lick in it screams 'produced by Nile Rodgers'. A pop match made in heaven.

Andrew Farriss remembers recording with Nile:

"We were fresh off the road. So we had the basic song completed and we'd been playing it live in the set. He was talking to us through the headphones, kind of saying things that were meant to encourage us, and we figured he was just getting levels and stuff on the whole band playing together, but after we'd run it down a couple of times he said 'OK, come in and have a listen'. We went in and the control room was sort of full of people dancing. Apart from adding background vocals [which were by Darryl Hall] and the sax solo, we were finished. We didn't even know he was recording."

Nile Rodgers is doing an In Conversation with Dave Haslam this Friday at the Zion Centre in Manchester. I'll be the one on the front row biting my fist with excitement.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Apocalypse Now Then

Thanks to Drake for this. x

Photos wanted!

"I was a teenage werewolf
The bride of Frankenstein
I had a baby with Dracula
And that blew Frankie's mind..."

Thanks to everyone who crawled out of their coffins, caves, hospital beds and laboratories to be at last night's Pop 'Til You Drop.

It was amazing!

This was one of my tunes of the night. Thanks to all my fiends at Music We Love for their supernatural suggestions.

We're on the look out for photos of all the mayhem - I was too busy trying to fit my headphones over my gorilla mask to take any. If you have some you'd like to share, please email them to:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hot Ice

Theme from the third part of the 'Friday the 13th' franchise, by Harry Manfredini and Michael Zager, released in 1982.

Thanks to Viva Radio for reminding me of this.

I will be spinning 'Hot Ice' on Saturday night in my gorilla mask, ably assisted by my lugubrious MC, The Abominable Doctor Phibes, who will also be overseeing any medical emergencies that should occur, it being our Hallowe'en spesh an all. On-site anaesthetic will be supplied, as always by Dr. Hopper and Absolut.

For your own safety, please do not be found without the soul for getting down.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

I Put A Spell On You

"I ain't lying'..."

Nina Simone has been putting a spell on me for over seventeen years now. I was lucky enough to see her perform (somewhat crankily, as I recall!) at The Albert Hall in 1998.

This was the song that first pulled me under. It features the best saxophone solo ever committed to tape, courtesy of HRH King Curtis.

'I Put A Spell On You' reached #23 in the US Billboard R&B chart in 1965; it also reached #49 in the UK singles chart that year, and #28 when it was reissued in 1969.

Expect to hear this and other spooky tunes at the Pop 'Til You Drop Hallowe'en Special this Saturday night at The Deaf Institute.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sheila E. Devotion

Prince's drummer shows us how it's done. I like it best when she drops into a straight 4/4. Thanks to Tyre Scowl for this.

Monday, 24 October 2011


"I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer
I spat out Plath and Pinter..."

A fortnight ago, whilst working my second to last ever shift on the counter at Piccadilly Records, I was rendered flustered and giggly by the sudden appearance of James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire from Manic Street Preachers. They were in Manchester, it transpired, to perform a secret gig at Night and Day Café. I haven’t listened to the Manics for years, but seeing them up close and personal in the record shop environment made me ponder the influence of their music on my teenage years.

When 'Generation Terrorists' first came out in 1992, I was still, at fourteen, an enthusiastic attendee of my local Free Methodist bible group. I was troubled by all the usual teenage questions about evolution, mortality and morality, and persuaded, for a time, by the adults around me, that the answers could be found, if not in the dense and bloody Old Testament, then certainly in the eminently accessible, and rather funky, New. When, one Sunday, my bible group leader - a not unlikeable lad in his early thirties - pulled out a copy of 'Generation Terrorists' and cited it as an example of all that was wrong and evil in the world, I felt spasms of both shame and excitement. My sister owned the record and we'd been playing it for weeks.

Trying to work out how you really feel about things as a teenager is like starring in your own complex and slightly hallucinogenic detective story. You pull in clues from all manner of sources, to compare, contrast, reject. You believe what you think you ought to until you can't any more. On the one hand I had the fluffy platitudes of Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still water”), which made Christianity sound like a really nice day out in The Lakes, and on the other I had the Sylvia Plath quotation from the back of the 'Motorcycle Emptiness' twelve inch: “I talk to God but the sky is empty” - a much more accurate description of what I was actually experiencing.

Thinking that Plath may be able to shed some light on the matter, I went to Waterstone’s one day and picked out 'Ariel', a slim volume - the only one I could afford - and immersed myself in it for weeks. Not the frothiest of reads, it has to be said. And not much help on the God front. But that's what the Manics did. They forced you to investigate. Richey and Nicky spewed out reference points incoherently and indiscriminately, like cultural muck-spreaders, inviting their fans to work it out for themselves. It seemed like they were desperate to tell us something, but what?

Pre-internet it wasn't easy to track down all those writers, those thinkers, those mysterious mind-shapers. Trips to the library were all part of the detective work: “Thus I progressed on the surface of life, in the realm of words, as it were, never in reality.” (Camus/'Love's Sweet Exile' sleeve.)

We got Henry Miller inside the ‘Generation Terrorists’ sleeve: “The tragedy of it is that nobody sees the look of desperation on my face. Thousands and thousands of us, and we're passing one another without a look of recognition.” (I won't forget reading 'Quiet Days In Clichy' under the duvet in a hurry.)

We got Marlon Brando: “The more sensitive you are, the more certain you are to be brutalised, develop scabs, never evolve. Never allow yourself to feel anything, because you always feel too much.” ('Motorcycle Emptiness' sleeve)

We got Ballard: “I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror.” ('Mausoleum' sample)

The work of all of these people, and many more, became familiar to me through the Manics. Their music inspired my jubilant descent into atheism and its attendant vices - an experience entirely comparable, I suspect, to being Born Again, and one for which I shall forever be grateful.

(The Manics perform 'Faster' on TOTP - watch out for Vic and Bob)

In terms of actual songs, for me, 'Faster' is the Manics' best – as lean as they ever sounded, stripped of the pop metal excesses of their previous albums, but still angry as fuck. The sample at the beginning is John Hurt in '1984': "I hate purity, I hate goodness, I don't want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt." I love JDB's guitar solo, which pops up unexpectedly in the last minute of the song, so waspish and wonky. In an interview, the band said they'd been listening to Magazine, Wire and Gang of Four. You can tell.

On June 9th 1994, the Manics opened Top Of The Pops with an incendiary performance of 'Faster'. At the time they were wearing a lot of military gear, in tribute, they said, to The Clash. JDB was sporting a paramilitary-style balaclava with JAMES sewn on it. He looked like he'd been working out. Many viewers felt the band were aligning themselves with the IRA. The BBC received 25,000 complaints.

Four months later I saw the boys play Manchester Academy. They'd covered the venue in camouflage netting and were still in their army and navy shop fatigues. They came on to a ricocheting loop of the last phrase in 'Faster': “So damn easy to cave in! Man kills everything!” It was a powerful gig. Loud, mean, genuinely unsettling. Richey was there. Rake thin, of course, naked from the waist up, hanging over his upturned mike stand like the original James Dean in 'Giant'.

Another four months on and he was gone, leaving behind a second ‘Holy Bible’ for me to pore over. With themes including prostitution, American consumerism, fascism, the Holocaust, self-starvation and suicide, it proved only slightly less punishing than the first.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hungry Heart

"I took a wrong turn and I never came back..."

Last night I was working with one of my favourite bartenders, Abby- a vision in hi-sheen leggings and heels - who keeps me going through the red-eye shifts with her encouraging grins and impassioned requests ("I fucking love Foreigner!"). She has a large autograph-style tattoo on her forearm that reads You Can't Start A Fire Without A Spark. Needless to say, she is an absolute Springsteen die-hard.

To be honest, I barely noticed The Boss until recently. Yeah, there's this earnest bloke who has forged an entire career out of sweating profusely in a lumberjack shirt. Yep, his song 'Born In The U.S.A.' was misunderstood the world over. Yeah, he made a rekkid called 'Nebraska' but who gives a shit? I couldn't even be frigged to shamble past the Pyramid stage during his fourteen-hour set at Glastonbury.

But then I remembered 'Hungry Heart'. I don't know why I know that track so well. Originally released in 1980, it was re-issued in '95, which must have been one of those I-have-absolutely-nothing-in-my-life-apart-from-the-Top-40 years. It's got a Motown-style tom/snare/tom intro fill that I adore (an almost identical one can be heard at the beginning of Charles and Eddie's 'Would I Lie To You?') and is as predictable as pie from thereon in. Make no mistake, we all know every turn 'Hungry Heart' is going to take before Bruce even gets behind behind the wheel. But fuck, fuck, FUCK, it's good. From that virile howl in the opening moments (YEAAH!) to the horribly optimistic jump to E flat for the organ solo, this song says: why let a ransacked heart stop you punching the doggone air?

The first time I played it out at the aforementioned bar something strange happened. There was an audible whoop of recognition from the crowd and then people started getting up on tables. Seriously. The whole night moved up a gear. I could hear the joyous sound of punters singing over the system. A middle-aged man pushed his way through the mêlée, sweating as though in tribute to The Boss himself, and bawled, "I haven't heard this record out for twenty years, love! Right, guess how many times I've seen him play? Guess. No. Guess. Guess! Thirty-bleedin'-two. Thirty two times, I've seen him, yeah." * Then Abby shimmied over with a brimming pint to exacerbate my bafflement and told me the song was originally written for The Ramones in '79.

A later glance at Wikipedia revealed this was indeed the case. Apparently, Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager, put paid to the collaboration back then - he was still sore about 'Because The Night' going to Patti Smith. John Lennon was said to be a fan of the song, commenting on the day of his death (allegedly) that it reminded him of 'Just Like (Startin'Over)'.

A last tune of mine for a while now, 'Hungry Heart' has taken on the quality of a melancholy TV theme. Time at the bar, credits rolling, the end. It's often ringing in my ears as I fight for a taxi, or wait, impatiently, for sleep. I got bossed in the end.

Funny ol' game.

*For film buffs, this incident was oddly reminiscent of Fred Willard's 'bench press' scene in 'Best In Show'.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Virginia Plain (Headman Re-Work)

"Havana sound we're trying hard edge the hipster jiving
Last picture show's down the drive-in..."

Always had a soft spot for this Headman re-work, which seems to take its inspiration from Roxy's unforgettable 1972 TOTP performance. Sadly, my lovely 180 gram seven inch is as warped as a David Lynch screening in an Early Learning Centre.