Saturday, September 29, 2007


I have absolutely no bloody idea why I have had this in my head all day today but I don't see why I should suffer alone, so I'm sharing it with you.

I HAVE this, on single, from 1979 - yes! the year of 'Setting Sons' and 'London Calling' and 'Armed Forces' and 'The Specials' and 'Unknown Pleasures' (I have all those too).

I have nothing else by this band. Not even the more famous, bigger hit 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime'.

Why should it bubble up from the primordial depths of my consciousness now?

Am I weird? I mean, does anyone else like The Korgis??

The Korgis - 'If I Had You' (1979)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where The Railroad Meets The Sea

I have an unexpected day free tomorrow and in a carpe diem moment am taking the chance to visit The Aged Parents in South Devon. I'll be taking the train down from London and the journey will take me along one of the most beautiful stretches of railway in Britain - Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Dawlish section of the Exeter-Plymouth railway.

When the train leaves Exeter (last outpost of culture - a University, a cathedral, some bookshops!) it slips alongside the Exe estuary and you get this beautiful calm panorama of the river, the sandflats and the soft, distant hills beyond. At the mouth of the Exe, the train rounds Dawlish Warren, a duny sandspit with mini-golf and a few huddled beach huts, and then the drama begins; for the next few miles the track hugs the red sandstone cliffs on the right and on the left there is nothing between you and the open sea.

It's a calm day in the picture, but even on those the spray hits the train windows; on bleak winter days huge waves crash over the trains, the tracks and everything. Sea, shingle and storm debris frequently close the line. It's the most expensively-maintained stretch of railway in Europe and climate change is making things worse. There's talk of re-routing the whole section. God though, it's beautiful.

There's no interwebby in Devon: well, there is, but not in the home of The Aged Ps. So I'll be silent for a while. Back for the weekend, crashing surf notwithstanding...

Here are three very special songs that will soundtrack my journey.

Heidi Berry - 'Northshore Train' (1989)
Cocteau Twins - 'Road, River And Rail' (1990)
David Sylvian - 'Where The Railroad Meets The Sea' (1986)

And yes, I know it's about the wrong sort of station, but this seems kind of appropriate too...

The Field Mice - 'Coach Station Reunion' (1991)

[from this (more about her here), this, this and this - but I expect you knew that already]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Strangely Enough I Been Struck

I have told the tale here before of my glamorous days as a DJ at South London's fantabulous Hospital Radio Nine - drafty gothic tower studio in boiled cabbage and urine-scented psychiatric hospital, etc: happy days! - and this track evokes that time of my life for me more than many.

I would fair bounce up Tooting High Rd with my record bag on my back and this in my head, so excited about playing it, so excited by the whole jazz hip-hop thing, in fact - that these smart young black kids were rapping about relationship stuff, a genre taboo, over samples from old jazz-funk and Blue Note records: maaan, it felt like such a breath of fresh air...

Actually Guru, the prime mover of Gang Starr (and the man behind Jazzmatazz too) was not so young - he was about my age, and maybe that explained why I identified with the sensibility at work here.

Anyway, I still think this sounds great and rather than save it for a Friday Night Funk-Out I thought I'd 'drop' it as a Monday heart-starter: get you going at the beginning of the week, all that.

Apparently the samples are 'Trying To Make A Fool Of Me' by The Delfonics, 'Pain' and 'Never Had A Dream' by The Ohio Players and 'Ain't There Something Money Can't Buy' by Young-Holt Unlimited: since I've heard all these except the last, I assume that's the source of the wonderful central horn riff, but maybe there's a Darcy-esque soul-funk expert out there who can confirm that.


Gang Starr - 'Lovesick' ('Upbeat Mix') (1991)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Didn't Even Have To Use My AK"

Ah, bliss, you know how it goes sometimes...

Your mum cooks you a pork-free breakfast, you trash the guys at basketball and you finally get to shag that girl you've fancied for years. What's more, nobody you know gets killed in South Central LA...

Ice Cube - 'It Was A Good Day' (1992)

[And all to an Isleys sample. From this. 'Parental advisory' - etc, etc]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Country Darkness

I found this review of PJ Harvey's new album 'White Chalk' in the Observer Music Monthly at the weekend really intriguing, and the 'advance tracks' that are bobbing about the internet confirm that this one's going to represent a fair departure for Dorset's Polly Jean.

She's singing in a 'different' voice, has dropped the electric guitar for (mostly) piano and all in all is coming on like a Victorian Gothic Vashti Bunyan. Nice one!

Have to say I love the title track and the single (below) though was less convinced, on first listen at least, by a track called 'Mountain' which I found more than a tad, er, caterwauly.

I deeply admire her for innovating though, and Dark Pastoral is surely the zeitgeist again now we're all snapping up reissues of Anne Briggs albums.

You can pre-order 'White Chalk' here.

PJ Harvey - 'White Chalk' (2007)
PJ Harvey - 'When Under Ether' (2007)

[I'll be leaving these up for just one week officer].

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cold Snaps

Sharp sun, blue skies and crisp cold here today - real autumn.

Look, some blackberries have still to ripen.

And I found some conkers my girls haven't gathered yet (their room is full of them).

So I think I at last get to post this...

Coldcut - 'Autumn Leaves' (Irresistible Force Full Chill Mix) (1993)

[Realise the lovely original was written in France in 1945 and you get a whole new perspective on its sadness and sense of loss. The French lyrics ('Les Feuilles Mortes') were by the poet Jacques Prevert. And speaking of poetry, may I also recommend the 1958 Miles Davis version with Cannonball Adderley from this ? Ta.]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lost Just What It Takes To Be Honest?

I'm late with this I know, but it's been bringing me so much joy since Michael posted arguably the best tracks from it and inspired me to invest in a copy that I now have to share it with you - and maybe that'll be OK if you've missed it until now too...?

Paddy McAloon's acoustic re-recording of eight tracks from Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen (made to accompany the album's 'legacy edition' remastering by original producer Thomas Dolby).

Happy *sigh* and happy *sigh* again.

For the most part these are not 'unplugged' busking or 'solo live' versions of the originals, and I intend that as a recommendation because I don't know about you, but I always find that sort of thing a bit of a yawn...There's no puritanical refusal to overdub from Paddy, and though the only instrument is his guitar (and it is lovely) many of the new arrangements are almost as multi-layered as the originals and all of the songs are re-invented, sometimes very radically ('Desire As'). PLUS McAloon's voice is excellent - warm and strong and dark and sounding if anything better than it did 22 years ago.

Is Steve McQueen a Record Of Your Life, the 'Pet Sounds' of your 80s? Then I really can't recommend this enough.

Now please can we have a remaster of Swoon with a comparable 2nd disc treat?

Paddy McAloon - 'Bonny' (acoustic version) (2006)
Paddy McAloon - 'Faron Young' (acoustic version) (2006)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Teenage Dream

It's thirty years to the day since Marc Bolan died in a car crash on Queen's Ride, Barnes - just a mile from our house (as it was a mile from his).

I cycled over there this afternoon and joined thirty or forty people milling about in the dappled light beneath the trees by the road, reading the messages, taking each other's pictures in front of the memorial, breathing in the incense someone had lit. A few looked like original rock survivors, and maybe they were even old friends; a few others, like the girls in the pic, were young enough to be their kids.

It was all very civilized and not especially solemn; downbeat but sincere. Someone had brought camping chairs. How very British.

I saw no feather boas except the one on Marc's plinth...

RIP Master Feld.

T.Rex - 'Cosmic Dancer' (1971)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dance Friday...Internationalists!

I've just got back from Birmingham (West Midlands, not Alabama). Actually, not Birmingham but somewhere indeterminate east of the M42. I stopped in a Co-Op in a small village to buy a fruit juice and they had a grocery section headed 'International Cuisine' - it had Sharwoods noodles, Uncle Ben's rice and some jars of curry sauce in it. Hey! Let no-one tell you there is no cosmopolitan living to be had in the 'Heart Of England' !

Anyway, look....since I've spent most of the day schlepping up and down the motorway I haven't had time to come up with a load of flannel (er sorry, 'research') about this Friday's Dance Post and I don't have any kind of even semi-amusing anecdote to relate in connection with this track either so I'll just say that a) Joe Smooth was one of the original pioneers of Chicago house music and b) I absolutely bloody well love this and so should you.

And as there have been references to Paul Weller in the two posts prior to this, I will not even mention The Style Council here.

Now then, set the volume control to 'high' and prepare to be uplifted my friends. It's Friday and mine's a large one (fnaar fnaar).

Joe Smooth - 'Promised Land' (original 12" mix) (1988)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tired Of Doing Day Jobs?

Seems to me the 'ex-Mods who were sick of prog' epithet for pub-rockers - coined, I think, by a member of the Feelgoods - fitted Eddie & The Hot Rods better than anyone.

They might have found themselves (not unluckily) lumped in with punkers and new wavers in the crazy musical explosion post-77 but it's the amphetamine rush of early Who and Small Faces I hear most in their music now, and there's no doubting their influence in turn (along with The Jam's, natch) on the mod revivalists circa '79.

Legacy and short-lived commercial lift aside though, punk (and numerous band personnel changes) pretty much did for The Rods as a unit, though two members ended up joining The Damned (!) and their manager Ed Hollis (brother of TalkTalk's Mark, fact fans) worked with that band, SLF and Elvis Costello for a time.

A version of the Hot Rods reformed in the early noughties and is still touring proving, as I think we all know, that you can't keep a good Essex rocker down.


Eddie & The Hot Rods - 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' (1977)
[Hot Rods compiled here]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Everybody Needs A Shot Of R'n'B

Given that we've gone all Balearic over at Barefoot, what better and more contrasting a way to start the week here at The Ghost than with a serious shot of no holds barred Essex rhythm and blues....

Stone me but these lads were 'tight' (even without Wilko Johnson on guitar).

Dr Feelgood - 'Down At The Doctors' (1978) [from this]

Meanwhile for evidence, should you need it, that the young Paul Weller based his entire early look & moves on Wilko, have a look at this (recorded in 1975!).

[With thanks to Dr. Al]

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Baby

I have a new baby in Wordpress, but like the beautiful little thing in the picture, it's not properly formed yet and will need time to grow strong....

I'm very excited about it.

Hope you will be too...

Dance Friday... which legendary dance producer remixes r&b diva's MOR ballad (from pen of Diane 'How Do I Live?' Warren no less) into a deep-house anthem that is at turns dark, brooding and sparklingly uplifting.

A mate and I boogied to this once at a Las Vegas nite club (oh, the glamour!) after having imbibed a fair quantity of Mr J.Daniels' excellent bourbon on ice.

We were delighted, and frankly more than a little surprised, when our terpsichoric excellence clearly attracted the attention of two lithesome young ladies, whose dancefloor moves towards, before and around us could only be described as 'provocative'.

It was a whole three rounds of drinks later that we discovered the young ladies, far from having been seduced by our rug-cutting fluidity and ineffable Brit charisma, were in the employ of the establishment and charged with encouraging poor saps like us to spend more bucks on expensive booze at the bar.

'Do the hustle' indeed. *sigh*

They sure could dance though...

Toni Braxton - 'Un-Break My Heart' (Frankie Knuckles Franktidrama club mix) (1996)

[actually quite rare, though apparently being sold here for 77p! I've got it in Spanish too if anyone's interested. No, thought not].

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In Between Days

It's not summer; it's not winter. The holidays are over and it's a long time till the next ones.

It's midweek. I'm (whisper it) middle aged.

I'm waiting at the station for the train of inspiration, but it's late...

Last night the iPo shuffled this at me, and it felt kinda right.

Ben Folds - 'In Between Days' (The Cure cover) (2006).

[from this; pic - the Millennium footbridge and St Paul's Cathedral, London, 6:30pm yesterday].

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September Song

"Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day"
- John Donne (1620)

David Sylvian - 'September' (1987)

[from this]