Thursday, December 31, 2009

HNY



That there's a Black Velvet - Guinness with a dash of champagne - and it's what I'll be drinking to welcome in the (yes Mondo!) very sci-fi sounding 2010 (though actually mine'll have a darned sight more Guinness in it and quite a bit less bloomin' champagne and will be served in a PROPER PINT GLASS! but you get the general idea).

Anyway.....New Year, old record, best intro ever.

Cheers!

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - 'The Night' (1971)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post Solstice, Postgate



Dark, isn't it?

No wonder we people of the northlands bring the only trees that are green into our huts and light our fires & candles and quaff of the winter ale and tell our tall tales at this point in the cycle of the turning of the mother earth.

It is all I can do to lift my head from the pillow of a morn.

The Jesus & Mary Chain - 'Darklands' (1987)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peace, Out



I've wrapped the presents but still have that nagging feeling I've forgotten something important; Mrs H is back from the supermarket with vittels and I'll be making the booze run later. We've already watched The Snowman, The Muppets Christmas Carol and that daft one where Leslie Nielsen is Santa with memory loss, but haven't yet steeled ourselves for the weepfest that is It's A Wonderful Life (be strong my heart!). The mother-in-law arrives tomorrow ("Is there anything I can do to help?"). Someone has eaten all the cheesy footballs and most of the Quality Street before it's even Christmas Eve. The sprouts have two more days to boil.

Putting this on for a moment I'm in Vegas in '63.......JFK's still alive and the crowd at The Sands are wearing those pointy foil party hats you only ever see in the movies - Frank, Dino and Sammy are living high in the dirty business of festive dreams. I won $35,000 on the blackjack tables earlier today and blew it all on diamond jewellery and that sexy red dress with the sequins for Mrs H. The girlies sleep tight in their great feather bed in the penthouse suite.

Sing it Sammy.

Sammy Davis, Jr. - 'It's Christmas Time All Over The World' (1963)

And so it is! And so are you - my friends.

Thank you so much for your company this year.

And have a splendid one - wherever you are x

Friday, December 18, 2009

R'n'B Home For Christmas


In which B.B and Lucille Memphis-up our last Friday before Christmas.

Yeah baby and woo hoo! the cheesy footballs are on me!

B.B. King - 'Christmas Celebration' (2002)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seductional*


Julie London - 'I'd Like You For Christmas' (1957)

* Yes, I know that isn't actually a word.
But it should be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Traditional


Goodness me, I love this record.

Last posted two years ago to the day!

Aretha Franklin - 'Kissin' By The Mistletoe' (1961)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Once Upon A Time



Just got back from watching the girlies' school Christmas production - the musical version of Roald Dahl's subversive Cinderella, in which Cinders decides not to marry the handsome prince (because he seems far too keen on chopping people's heads off) and plumps for the local jam-maker instead; quite rightly.

It reminded me a bit of this...

'Any Prince To Any Princess'August is coming
and the goose, I'm afraid,
is getting fat.
There have been
no golden eggs for some months now.
Straw has fallen well below market price
despite my frantic spinning
and the sedge is,
as you rightly point out,
withered.

I can't imagine how the pea
got under your mattress. I apologize
humbly. The chambermaid has, of course,
been sacked. As has the frog footman.
I understand that, during my recent fact-finding tour of the
Golden River,
despite your nightly unavailing efforts,
he remained obstinately
froggish.

I hope that the Three Wishes granted by the General
Assembly
will go some way towards redressing
this unfortunate recent sequence of events.
The fall in output from the shoe-factory, for example:
no one could have foreseen the work-to-rule
by the National Union of Elves. Not to mention the fact
that the court has been fast asleep
for the last six and a half years.

The matter of the poisoned apple has been taken up
by the Board of Trade: I think I can assure you
the incident will not be
repeated.

I can quite understand, in the circumstances,
your reluctance to let down
your golden tresses. However
I feel I must point out
that the weather isn't getting any better
and I already have a nasty chill
from waiting at the base
of the White Tower. You must see
the absurdity of the
situation.
Some of the courtiers are beginning to talk,
not to mention the humble villagers.
It's been three weeks now, and not even
a word.

Princess,
a cold, black wind
howls through our empty palace.
Dead leaves litter the bedchamber;
the mirror on the wall hasn't said a thing
since you left. I can only ask,
bearing all this in mind,
that you think again,

let down your hair,

reconsider.

- Adrian Henri (RIP).

----

The show was excellent. And so was the mulled wine. Oh yes it was.

Donna Summer - 'Happily Ever After' (1977) (camp as Christmas)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Morrissey On 'Desert Island Discs'



I missed this when it was on the radio, and then I missed its run on the iPlayer (hopeless!), so thank you dear person unknown who uploaded it in such fine quality to Media Fire.

It's a warm, funny and (for him) relatively revealing interview and an tip-top selection of tunes, only one of which I had heard before.

Morrissey's Desert Island Discs (presenter, Kirsty Young) (BBC Radio 4, November 29th 2009)

The songs played are listed in comments - 'so if you don't want to spoil the surprise, look away now'.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ja Baby


Neon Licht
Schimmendes Neon Licht
Und wenn die Nacht anbricht
Ist diese Stadt aus Licht
-
Neon lights
Shimmering neon lights
And at the fall of night
This city's made of light
-

Mein Gott, Ich liebe this.

Ein groß Bier bitte Brigitte!

Kraftwerk - 'Neonlicht' (1978)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Little Boy Lost, Little Boy Blue


This song comes from a sweet children's animated film based on the book & illustrations of David Melling and when we watched it on telly with the girls last Christmas, I was most struck with it.

It popped up on the iPo the other day in one of those Mr Shuffle Gets It Right For The Season moments, and then I heard Kate Rusby interviewed on Radcliffe & Maconie too.

As the summer always turns me on to sweet soul, funk and reggae, so these nights-below-zero send me back to things that are English and folky and ancient-sounding.

Kate Rusby - 'Little Jack Frost' (2005)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

More Advent-urous



Well....I've been waiting and waiting and I think I finally must now be allowed to play this again. And look! It's so early, Low's lights and tinsel haven't even arrived yet!

Low - 'Just Like Christmas' (1999).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Woking Class



Out in the pastures we call society
You can't see further than the bottom of your glass

Here's a band you might know x

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ping Pong



It's alright 'cos the historical pattern has shown
How the economical cycle tends to revolve
In a round of decades, three stages stand out in a loop
A slump and war then peel back to square one and back for more
Bigger slump and bigger wars and a smaller recovery
Huger slump and greater wars and a shallower recovery
You see the recovery always comes 'round again
There's nothing to worry for, things will look after themselves
It's alright, recovery always comes 'round again
There's nothing to worry for if things can only get better
There's only millions that lose their jobs and homes and sometimes accents
There's only millions that die in their bloody wars, it's alright
It's only their lives and the lives of their next of kin that they are losing
It's only their lives and the lives of their next of kin that they are losing
Don't worry, shut up, sit down, go with it and be happy.

Stereolab - 'Ping Pong' (1994)

Monday, November 23, 2009

King Me



As if I needed another PC-based distraction, I seem to have developed an addiction to internet checkers (or draughts, as we used to call them).

I'm playing it late at night and early in the morning, with a cup of tea at lunchtime and whenever I should be doing something 'important' but am bored.

It's not as if I've played the physical version obsessively over the years - there's been the occasional sortie on holiday with the girls or Mrs H, and my grandad used to visit slaughter upon me with it when I was a kid (lawdy didn't that generation know their board games, their cards, their billiards?). But this infernal computery versh has got me hooked.

It's taught me a few things about myself, mind you, viz -

- I can't think very far ahead (hence rubbish at chess)
- I'm impatient when things aren't moving quickly - so act in haste and make mistakes
- I'm not very good at taking risks
- I play defensively
- I can play well when the chips are down

I've tried to work on all this, and have started to win more.

Yesterday I finished a game with a satisfying flourish by taking the last three of my opponent's pieces on the board (all kings) in a single move.

Because I bided my time.

It all reminds me of those lessons the Master used to give Grasshopper in Kung Fu.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet - 'Everybody's Jumpin' (1959)

If you're running one of the older versions of Windows, the pesky game is lurking in your Start menu right now waiting to lure you - be warned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yeah Baby



Our occasional series of extended disco classics builds into a magnificent collection your whole family will enjoy.

This week - a solid gold classic in rarely-heard twelve inch form.

From that stash of vinyl we've been discussing.

It's big and it's bassy and the breakdown's to die for.

Jocelyn Brown - 'Somebody Else's Guy' (12") (1984)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Their Tender Grasp


When one of the Dads at the girlies' school told me he was moving house and planned to chuck all his vinyl out (!) I was round there like a shot for a rummage; he'd very sportingly granted me first refusal on the 'stock' before he hefted it up to the charity shop.

He's a bit of a disco bunny, as it turns out - so I picked up some late Marvin and an Imagination LP (*sings* - "Music and lights! I'll sing and dance with you all night!") a couple of nice twelve inches I'm sure will crop up here some Friday or other and - a tad anomalously given the general spangled thrust of his collection - this.

Which he was kind enough to let me have for nothing, even though I said I thought it'd fetch a few quid 'out there' (I was right - crazy prices for even the CD!).

We popped it on chez H last night and oh, what loveliness we found it to contain.

Sorry, poor work-rate I know, but I'm only part-way through computerising it I'm afraid; still, I wanted to share a little of it with you.

This old music is lighting up my dark, dark November, and perhaps it will yours, too.

The Lotus Eaters - 'German Girl' (1984)

The Lotus Eaters - 'Out On Your Own' (1984)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tagged



*sigh* Evidently I have been 'tagged' by the Drewster.

I don't usually approve of this sort of thing, but he's a companero and it would seem churlish not to comply.

The rules of the game are

1 To post a song that makes you happy
2 To tag as many people as you want
3 To say one thing about the blog(s) that you tag that will make them smile.

I tag Mick because it was his birthday yesterday, I like him 'Simpsonized' and this might encourage him to post twice in the same month.

The world's a brighter place in my beautiful balloon.

The 5th Dimension - 'Up, Up And Away' (1967)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wo Wo Wo, It's Magic



Shoot me down in flames but I most wickedly and indulgently took a lunchtime-afternoon off on Monday to meet my old funk-buddy Wayne 'up West' for pints and a pub tuna-melt & chips.

There was much quaffing and blethering on about nonsense.

At one point Wayne asked me if I'd heard a certain song by Bobby Womack, and when I said I hadn't, he played it for me down his iPod. We agreed it was a smoker, the acoustic guitar (Bobby's) high up in the mix a special delight, and I said 'I've gotta find that, it'd make a tip-top Friday post'.

Just an hour or so later as we flicked through the racks at Revival Records in Berwick St, looking for nothing in particular, we found a 'near mint' copy of the original album with the song on for just £2.

£2!

The great and beneficent gods of vinyl be praised, it was another of those moments when you know they are smiling down upon you.

How could I not buy it? It had been waiting there for me. And it turns out to have lots of lovely things on it, mostly ballads, with Mister Mack in fine vocal form.

So I get to post what I wanted...

Bobby Womack - 'When The Weekend Comes' (1986)

and a bonus for your late nites too...

Bobby Womack - 'I Can't Stay Mad' (1986)

Both songs - Bobby Womack/Harold Payne.

Yeah baby and Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winter Garden


If you came to my garden right now you'd see a shambolic layer of soggy, fallen leaves on what passes for the lawn and a couple of old bicycles rusting in the rain.

Minnie's sounds better.

Minnie Riperton - 'Come To My Garden' (1970)

[Stepney if you've heard this one before]

Friday, November 06, 2009

Back To Bass Licks



Our occasional series of extended disco classics builds into a magnificent collection your whole family will enjoy.

This week, the extraordinary bass playing of Mr Bernard Edwards (R.I.P).

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, hot damn.

Chic - 'Everybody Dance' (12") (1977)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Goodbye To All That


Miss
- hotdogs & soup, wrapping up in scarves and gloves, standing by the bonfire with my friends, going 'Oooh!' and 'Aaah!' and writing my name with sparklers in the air.

Don't miss - teenage boys chucking bangers in the streets frightening cats, old ladies, little kids and me; horrible injuries caused by fireworks in the hands of the incompetent, small or malicious; the roots of the festival in the worst kind of anti-Catholicism and the nasty prejudices it perpetuated.

XTC - 'Sacrificial Bonfire' (1986)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Synth You Mention It


I did love their doomy, glacial stuff.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - 'Almost' (1980)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bonjour Finesse



I am grateful to my good friend Dr Al for bringing these ladies to my attention on a mix CD he pressed upon me in early summer; I rather like this, and it will surely serve us well as a Monday (and new month) heartstarter.

Au Revoir Simone - 'Shadows' (2009)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Virgin Peely


Our occasional series of bloody good things builds into a random collection your whole family will enjoy.

This week, a whole hour of music and chat with your Uncle John, as recorded for in-store entertainment at Mr Branson's record shops 30 years ago this month.

This will certainly help your Friday poison-of-choice slip down and if you play it really loud tomorrow night you might even be able to drown out the incessant door knocking of those pesky trick or treating kids.

John Peel - Virgin In-Store Show, October 16th 1979 (part 1)
John Peel - Virgin In-Store Show, October 16th 1979 (part 2)

In memoriam
JP (five years!) and with thanks to the Peel Wiki and our very own Turkish Adam wot started it up, the treasure.

Track listings in comments. You'd have definitely walked out with the new Specials LP...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Half Term



There will be a short break whilst 1) we (again!) drive to Devon and back in a single day to wish my Aged Father a happy birthday, and 2) I generally gather my autumn thoughts (with motorway sandwiches).

Quentin Crisp - 'Stop The Music For A Minute' (1982)

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's Friday, I'm In Love.....With 'London'



This one's been lurking for a good few weeks now, popping up in pub conversations and iPod shuffles, making a cameo appearance in this post, breaking the surface in this book and yesterday its opening line running through my head on the southbound train from New Street (along with Dexy's - 'I'm on the train from New Street to Euston, I'm going back to Harrow again...').

I used to think the lyric was 'train creep on to Euston', but how much greater is 'heave' ? I suppose that's why he's Morrissey and I'm.....not.

I love how that opening squeal of feedback seems like the inertia-breaking brakes and suddenly we're off, fast fast fast down the tracks.

Smoke lingers 'round your fingers
Train heave on to Euston
Do you think you've made
The right decision this time ?

You left your tired family grieving
And you think they're sad because you're leaving
But did you see jealousy in the eyes
Of the ones who had to stay behind ?

And do you think you've made
The right decision this time ?

You left your girlfriend on the platform
With this really ragged notion that you'll return
But she knows that when he goes
He really goes

And do you think you've made
The right decision this time ?

A whole world, a whole drama, in two minutes, two seconds.

That's a lovely, affectionate fan video too.

The Smiths - 'London' (1987)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bolder To Birmingham



Oh yes, I'm off to Britain's second biggest city for two days' work and a hotel night between (hello trouser press and 'gold' taps, hello cheap teabags) so I'm selecting this fruity slice of West Midlands psychedelic pop to serenade me on my way.

According to my Birmingham A-Z there is, sadly, no Blackberry Way in the city, though there is a Blackberry Lane in the suburb of Halesowen, wherever the Roy Wood that is.

See you back here on Friday.

The Move - 'Blackberry Way' (1968)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still Life With Pears


Cooked this tonight for Mrs H - last time we made it, it was for friends that have long since gone (er....to Merseyside, not the Great Beyond) ; first time, it was when we had the Aged Ps up to London from Devon on the event of the first birthday of the first daughter and my Mum said 'Well, I can't believe Dave cooked something like that" which she meant, and I took, as a compliment.

Tonight, perhaps because I am off to Strange Parts for a night later this week and perhaps because me and Mrs H spent our wedding anniversary this year driving north on the autoroute from SW France and eating in service stations and perhaps because, damn it, it was a dull Monday on a darkening week at a darkening time of year, I cooked it again.

This time though, of course, I had the girls helping, but had to explain that 1) whilst Delia has good cooking ideas she is 2) a bit over-fussy, and there's no need to follow her to the letter, you know....Improvise around a stated theme, maaaan - it's a jazz thing, baby.

Anyway, it was nice.

Though our bastard dishwasher has broken and there's a hell of a lot of washing up for tomorrow.

Quincy Jones - 'Something's Cookin' (1969)

From the 'Italian Job' OST, and, I think, Art Decade, originally....thank you New York!

Painting by Jos Van Riswick.OK. I'll shut up about cooking for a bit now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

House Work



This Friday, in a change from our usual programme, we go all post-punk funk agitprop with some people from Leeds, one of whom's called Hugh.

If you are unfamiliar with this and expect dour avant-gardeism you may be pleasantly surprised by its sprightly pace and funky bass'n' drum.

Lefties can dance! It's like the 80s were about to happen!

Gang Of Four - 'It's Her Factory' (1979)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

House Music


Tonight back late, tired and tapped out, I poured myself a glass of wine and briefly exchanged news of the day with Mrs H who was imminently off on a Girls' Night Out (outrageous!). The daughters got the Monopoly out ("Well, it is a bit late for that..." - 'Oh, Daddy...!"), I set Mr Shuffle to 'Go' and started cooking up a dhal.

Mr Shuffle played the best, most right-for-my-mood and the moment and the time of year and all, little shuffle sequence.

The girls played on, buying up the train stations - two a piece ("always buy up the train stations"), building houses and hotels, and Mr Shuffle dropped his tunes and the tomatoes sank into the cooking lentils and the aroma of fresh ground ginger and garlic arose and.....things were good.

The wine was fine.

Things were good.

------

I go all old indie and goth at this time of year - it's an almost involuntary reaction to the turning of the earth and the lengthening of the shadows.

If you came here for this sort of thing once upon a blogdream you'll now be saying 'At last!'

If you came here for the funky when the summer was around, you'll now be thinking 'You wha-?'

If you've been around for a while, you'll know the score by now.

This Mortal Coil - 'Help Me Lift You Up' (1991)
Biff Bang Pow! - 'She Paints' (1988)

Mr S. actually played these back to back; it just went. We must add TMC to our list of tracks with good thundery bits at the start.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Peachy


Our occasional series of extended disco classics builds into a magnificent libr-oh, you know the rest.

This baby has a bass line that can only be described as FAT and Melba funks around it like a good 'un: you best turn it up and tell your neighbours it's Friday.

Melba Moore - 'Standing Right Here' (extended version) (1977)

[Still recording]

King Richard



Some of you might be wondering how Hawley was last night and the answer is quite, quite superb - tighter and slicker and more serious than when I last saw him, his voice still astonishing and his guitar-playing exemplary. The songs from Truelove's Gutter were razor-sharp live and this one, of course, made me cry (maybe I will drink a little less).

"I wrote it for The Mrs. I were dead pleased with it and played it to her. I said 'What do you think of that then?' She said 'Yeah, it's all right is that. Now what do you want for your tea? Shall we have a Chinese?' "

[All things Hawley here: buy stuff!]

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Echo In A Shabby Bay


Way back in the dying, dog days of the late 80s I was a summer out of college and had failed to get a job to keep me in London. I had returned, sad and defeated, to my parents' in Torbay. Applying for jobs in the local paper, I'd wound up in the customer accounts department of British Gas.

It was the run-up to the 'Tell Sid' privatisation and they'd taken on extra people to cope with what they imagined would be an increase in calls from members of the public wanting info about shares. No such calls, of course, came (there was a well-publicised hotline the gullible phoned instead) and I just got absorbed into the department, taking final meter readings over the phone from people moving house, clearing up account queries, helping old ladies understand why their bills had been 'estimated' even though 'I'm always in my dear, they only have to knock', making appointments for meter readers, referring hardship cases to the DHSS. It was, for the most part, inestimably grim.

I spent rainy lunchtimes (and in my memory of those days it is always raining) in the library, or in the not especially well-stocked Torquay branch of HMV or with a sympathetic colleague in the town's one proper coffee shop. I was living an extended hangover from a terrific time at college where the world had been my oyster, now fearing - like the old Jam lyric had said - that my future was a clam. And the sympathetic colleague turned out to be a sort of Mrs Robinson figure, which, calm yourself, didn't really help, to be honest.

One impossibly dark and drizzly lunchtime I went and bought this; how odd to think now that this 'late' there were still new Echo & The Bunnymen albums out. Its sweep and its tug and its singing-through-grey seemed all I needed, and I played it to bits.

The summer came and went and like Billy Liar I knew I had to get out; unlike poor Billy, I did. 'Do you think you've made the right decision this time?'. Yes. I packed a bag for London and I never went back.

I've been playing these songs again lately, not because it is grim here, or I am sad, or nostalgic for the past, or any of that obvious stuff, but because they stand up as songs, seem right for the season* and because the LP is, I think, underrated, and I like it a lot.

Echo & The Bunnymen - 'The Game' (1987)
Echo & The Bunnymen - 'The Game' (acoustic demo) (1987)
Echo & The Bunnymen - 'All My Life' (1987)

[*I see the album came out in July. Bah! It'll always be autumn for me]

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

At Last I Am...


Three years of my life peddling this nonsense! 526 posts! 4,695 comments! Some of them from real people! And popstars! Write ups in The Grauniad! Links from The Word! Countless witterings! Quite a lot of music! But still no podcasts! Or pre-planning! Hurrah!

Thank you for your companionship - I'd have given this up long, long ago had it not been for you - yes, you! xx

Here's a lovely, apposite, 3 minute 42 second thing from a while back you can listen to whilst, Winslet-like, I 'gather, gather'.

Tanya Donelly - 'My Life As A Ghost' (2004)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Echoes In A Shallow Bay



Dark in the mornings now, isn't it? And it's a drizzly-greasy one today, a slow drip drip drip.

Here's a perfect thing.

From Elizabeth via Robert Wyatt out of, somewhat incredibly, Chic.

Elizabeth Fraser - 'At Last I Am Free' (2003)

[From this]

Friday, October 02, 2009

Yeah Baby


Our occasional series of extended disco classics builds into a magnificent library your whole family will enjoy.

This week - La Ross! Enfin!

Diana Ross - 'Love Hangover' (12") (1976)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Duke Consideration


I don't imagine you'd think yourself familiar with the work of Vladimir Dukelsky, and the name Vernon Duke might draw a blank with you too.

But if you've been digging 'Can't Get Started' in the Cannonball or maybe already know vocal versions by Sinatra or Mel Tormé, if you've ever sung along to 'Autumn In New York' or 'April In Paris' or swung along to 'Taking A Chance On Love' then You Have Been Listening to the man in question.

A Belarusian émigré to the US who trained at the Kiev Conservatory, staged ballets with Serge Diaghilev, became a close friend of both Sergei Prokofiev and George Gershwin and continued to compose 'classical' music throughout his life under his real name, Duke (as we shall cheekily call him) also happened to pen some of the most beautiful standards in the American popular songbook.

Sinatra especially always namechecked him in performance. His wistful lyricism and soaring melodies are really quite something; and with Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern as contemporaries, he was hardly running in a race of pygmies.

On Monday I started playing his tunes, but the strange thing is, I didn't make the connection...I just hopped from the perfect-for-the-time-of-year 'Autumn' to a lovely 'What Is There To Say?' as done by both Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins, to 'Can't Get Started', which I posted for feeling that way, and only afterwards did I realise all these songs were Vernon Duke's.

Then I learned from Wiki that his 'old calendar' birthday was on Sunday.

'These are the coincidences that thrill my imagination'.

Let the leaves fall....

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - 'Autumn In New York' (1957)
Sonny Rollins - 'What Is There To Say?' (1957)
Frank Sinatra - 'I Can't Get Started' (1959)

As you'll tell from the crackles, the first and third are vinyl rips. Thanks to Greer, who stoked the flames of this one x

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blue Monday


We've got that same feelin', Jules and me.

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley - 'I Can't Get Started' (1961)

Friday, September 25, 2009

FLASH! Aaa-AAAAAH!


Keepin' it old skool, bro.

I have this on single from back in the day; that Sugarhill label's a purty thang.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - 'The Message' (1982)

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Smoke Without Fire



I bought my first new 7" single in two decades from the Rough Trade shop at the weekend. It's this lovely thing from the lovely Smoke Fairies, which comes in a limited edition pack with a 'free' 5 track CD (which is, let's face it, the EP). What larks!

The Smoke Fairies are two nice girls from Sussex who picked up some dirty blues and slide guitar licks and sad, dark Appalachian bits in the States and Canada that offset their sweet English folk harmonies like a good Kentucky bourbon does a ginger ale. Or something. I like them a lot.

They're supporting Richard Hawley on tour next month, which would seem a winning combination all round, so I'd better get my ticket sorted pronto.

Smoke Fairies - 'Morning Light' (2009)

Their MySpace.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've Got A Loverly Bunch Of Coconuts


August Darnell! Hipster turned popstar! A single I haven't played in 25 years!

Steady me matron, I'm getting a Proustian rush....'Stool Pigeon' at the Radio One roadshow at Torre Abbey Meadows Torquay with your host DJ Mike Read, get there early and get to the front, it's the happy, happy sound, souvenir mug and back to Tall Phil's to hear 'Sandinista'.

This is slower than I remember. Is there another version they play on the radio? I tried cranking it up, but then it goes all Alvin & The Chipmunks.

No hang on, that lilting bass is a bit sexy....Damn it, it sounds good.

'Ona, ona, onomatopoeia, ona, ona, onomatopoeia...'

Kid Creole & The Coconuts - 'Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy' (1982)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finders Keepers


Friday Mrs H and I take some quality time-out together down the Portobello Road, saying we must come back with the eldest daughter, who at 10 is very interested in small things from bric-a-brac stalls.

Saturday This excerpt from Victoria Coren's new book appears in the paper...

I am 12 years old, in Portobello market with my father. He thinks it's time for me to start collecting something. So we are rummaging around the antique shops and the bric-a-brac stalls, looking at ornaments and knick-knacks and pictures and hats and stuffed animals and silver trinkets, deciding what I am going to start collecting.

It's a beautiful day. The air is soft and warm, smelling of jasmine and hot-dog stands. All the stall-holders are chatty and ready to haggle. I've got a toffee apple. In the back of a dusty little shop near the Ladbroke Grove end of the market, my father picks up a china boat. It has a funnel at each end, also made of china, and if you lift them out they are salt-and-pepper shakers. The boat is a creamy-pearly colour, with blue piping, and on the side is printed "A Present from Southend-on-Sea".

"How about that?" my father says.

I think it is the cleverest, prettiest thing I have ever seen. It is a lovely shiny object anyway, but it's also a salt-and-pepper set and it's also a boat!

"And it's a present from Southend-on-Sea," my father says. "You could collect china seaside souvenirs. You could look for ones that said Bournemouth and Weymouth and Margate and Clacton. That's about right for a collection: bit difficult to find, but not too difficult."

We buy it for £12. "Just enough to make it a significant purchase," my father says, "but not enough to cripple you." The man from the shop wraps it up in newspaper and gives it to me. And as we walk back down the street, me gingerly clutching what at this point constitutes my entire collection, my father says, "One day, when you're all grown up and I'm not here any more, you'll remember the sunny day we went to the market together and bought a boat."
My throat feels tight because, as soon as he says it, I am already there. Standing on another street, without my father, trying to get back.

I try to soak up every aspect of the moment, to help me get back when I need to. I feel the weight of the chunky parcel under my arm, and the warmth of the sun, and my father's hand in mine. I smell the flowers with their sharp undertang of cheap hot-dog, and taste the slick of toffee on my teeth. I feel the joy of an adventurous Saturday with my father and no school, and I feel the sadness of looking back when it is all gone. When he is gone.

------

I've had this post-Tamla Four Tops song about fathers on my brain for the last few days; I found it in a junk shop years ago. It's a curious old thing with it's wah-wah pastiche of the Whitfield/Strong Temptations 'protest' sound and its contrasting call to absent Dads to quit said protest and get on back to their families where they belong. I like the tune though, and the pink Probe label.

The Four Tops - 'Keeper Of The Castle' (1972)

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Should Know The Score By Now


Extended disco classics to cut out and keep; our occasional series builds into a magnificent collection your whole family will enjoy.

Odyssey - 'Native New Yorker' (12") (1977)

(With big love to the good people of New York City).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Face Dances


Long time, no blog tennis.

The Small Faces - 'I'm Only Dreaming' (1967)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Winner's Speech



Never mind Kate Moss stropping and dropping her lipstick (though that is very funny), this was the big entertainment news last night.

Well done Ms Elliot.

Speech Debelle - 'Live & Learn' (2009)

Her site

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Yeah Baby



We're pushing it with this in early September I know, especially after 'Harvest Home' and all, but 'Ian just driving back from Margate to London' asked Trevor Nelson to play it on the radio the other night and good for you Ian just driving, because it's lovely.

If you listened to Robbie Vincent's Soul Shows in the mid-80s I'm told you might know it well; me, I heard it this week for the very first time. And all I know about the McCrarys is here.

Did Lady Summer quit your scene? Then turn up the music baby, and dream...

The McCrarys - 'Love On A Summer Night' (extended mix) (1982)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sweet Rain



I first got this out of Torquay Library (on a cassette tape!) when I were a lad.

(It smelt of old books and old people, did Torquay Library; the old people came in there to sit somewhere warm, the old books didn't seem to mind).

Later I bought it on Compact Disc: older readers may remember these unloved and unlovely things, insets always too small to read the sleeve notes, and that was the least of their problems, oh yes.

Now here it is (or a bit of it) as a little file in the ether.....whilst thick drizzle thwacks SW London, my, my.

Stan Getz - 'Sweet Rain' (1967)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Traditional (Reprise)



David Sylvian - 'September' (1987)

Friday, August 28, 2009

And We Have A Caller On Line One


"Allo? DavyH? C'est Françoise. Oui ça va - et toi? Ecoutes, ils m'ont dit que tu cherches un idée pour le vendredi. Trois petits mots cheri: Un. Gin. Tonic.......Oui. Bisous".

Françoise Hardy - 'Gin Tonic' (1980)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On The Boundary


It's all over by August Bank Holiday weekend, the English summer, everyone knows that. The shadows are long, the evenings are drawing in and there's a slight chill in the air; they'll soon leave the cricket fields and the pub gardens, unless there's a sunny September, and that's the best thing, like you somehow cheated death, chased winter away, but of course you haven't really, it's a stay of execution, nothing more.

And musically it's all Skylarking, Apple Venus and the splendid new Duckworth Lewis Method at my house, and Mrs H is making passata with the excess cherry tomatoes...

Toodle pip old summer, old boy.

The Duckworth Lewis Method - 'Mason On The Boundary' (2009)
XTC - 'The Last Balloon' (1999)
Ronnie Lane - 'Harvest Home' (1976)*

For Dr. Al * Thanks Mondo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sad Songs & Sunsets


Yes, yes, I know some of you North Americans drive 700 miles for a pint of milk of an evening but for tiny little island types like me that's a long (11 hours!) drive in a day, so you'll excuse me if I'm a tad post-autoroute today, all unkempt demeanour and dirty washing, and not especially inspired as a consequence.

We had a lovely time, thank you - like we had driven into summer: it was sunsets and rosé and acting like we were kings o' the hill.

Had one great night in particular cooking after sundown with John Peel's 40th Birthday Party Show playing on the iPo, the girls chasing the cats and chickens around outside and Mrs H with her nose in a book and a bottle....sigh.

This is, as JP says, a very sad song (on his own Dandelion label) and I was very happy when I heard it, but nevertheless it was a....moment.....you know?

Mike Hart - 'Almost Liverpool 8' (1969)

I've posted the actual (bit hissy) clip from the show with Peelie's intro/outro, but you can buy the original here, like I just did.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

En Vacances



So our bags are packed, we're ready to go, the motor's waiting outside our doh, etc.

We have the obligatory early rise tomorrow (boo!), but Big Fat Breakfast on the ferry (hooray!) before several long hours of autorouting South begin. Should hit Paris and the fairground ride-like thrills of the périphérique around lunchtime, the stopover budget hotel by teatime, the Rustic Retreat (sic) we're renting sometime Saturday afternoon.

About this we are excited, there being apparently two cats and five chickens to look after, eggs to collect and, undoubtedly, small and very nimble lizards to attempt, and fail, to catch. Et du vin rouge, naturellement.

There's no internet connection and no dishwasher; whether I miss you or the 40 minute hot-wash setting more, we'll have to see.

Don't be daft, it'll be you of course!

Good job I'll have with me all the lovely music we've blethered on about and shared to remember you by, eh?

We're back Aug 25th.

Look after yourselves x

Françoise Hardy - 'Qu'Ils Sont Heureux' (1966)
Canned Heat - 'Going Up The Country' (1968)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blue Tuesday



A few too many late nights lately, and that next day lethargy that comes with them; I'd been doing so well too with the cycling helping me crunch up the calories (I bought a new bike, and it's been brill; whizzing round the park with my lungs working for the first time in ages, it feels).

London is emptying - well, our bit of it seems like it is, anyhow....and you feel odd and a little melancholy still to be here, kicking about, hoping for a sunny day, getting one sometimes.

We have a few days before we head South too - across the Channel, down on the autoroutes, into (we hope) the Blue encore une fois.

Here's a bitta Oscar I picked up just yesterday. "Nice".

Oscar Peterson Trio - 'Night Train' (1962)

Friday, August 07, 2009

I Think I Went To Heaven



Three hours to kill whilst the car got its service and M.O.T, I thought I'd pop up to Notting Hill Gate and have a look at Mick Jones's clobber whilst there's still time, thanks Miss Ally for the reminder.

Bloody marvellous - BOAC bags, Clash tour guitar cases, Linn drum machines, Grundig radiograms, ancient samplers, as-worn-in-famous-photoshoots shirts (several), B.A.D set lists, mix tapes, videos, LPs, old punk fanzines, a hundred NMEs, Beatles Books and defunct pop mags, Shoot annuals, Dixon of Dock Green games (!) signed copies of Peter Orlovsky's poems ("To Mick Jones & Joe Strummer 1981"), toy redcoats and zulus frozen fighting the Battle of Rourke's Drift, Dinky models, London Calling gold discs, plastic Statues Of Liberty.

And then I grab a very nice anchovy pizza slice here and pop in to the Uxbridge for a pint where the bloke at the bar in the big hat and musical-note socks can't help but ask me about my 1977 t-shirt, which was a birthday present from Mrs H, and it turns out he's Gaz Mayall, ska-skankin' son of John, who's just made a record about Ronnie Biggs - released today, turns 80 tomorrow - "in the spirit of 77" with..........Mick Jones.

My friends, I call that a good Friday morning.

(They gave the car a vacuum too).

Have some Clash rappin'...

The Clash - 'The Magnificent Seven' (1980)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Far Beyond The Wave

Blair Drawson
Here's a little lost three minute gem I've been enjoying a lot lately, from the other side of the very famous and still lovely 'First Picture Of You'. It's like a slight sketch dashed off on a dreamy day, but no elaboration could make it better.

Looking them up, I see they reunited for a concert in Liverpool last month, and are planning to release a new album soon; there are some working versions of new songs on their MySpace.

Who'd have thought?

The Lotus Eaters - 'The Lotus Eaters' (1983)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

All On A Golden Afternoon

Balthus
'Evans was having trouble finding good bassists, but La Faro's arrival precipitated the advent of one of the finest piano trios jazz has ever documented. The bassist's melodic sensitivity and insinuating sound flowed between Evans and Motian like water, and....the playing of the three men is so sympathetic that it set a universal standard for the piano-bass-drums set-up which has persisted to this day.

Evan's own playing is elevated by the immediacy of the occasion; all his contributions seem all of a piece, lines spreading through and across the melodies and harmonies of the tune, pointing the way to modality yet retaining the singing, rapturous qualities which the pianist heard in this material.

All of the Vanguard music is informed by an extra sense of discovery, as if the musicians were suddenly aware of what they were on to, and were celebrating their achievement.

They didn't have much time: LaFaro was killed in a car accident ten days later.'

Richard Cook & Brian Morton - The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette (1992)
-----

'So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality...'

Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1865)

------

Bill Evans - piano
Scott LaFaro - bass
Paul Motian - drums

Recorded live at The Village Vanguard, New York City, Sunday June 25th 1961.

Bill Evans Trio - 'Alice In Wonderland (Take 2)' (1961)