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DJ Playlist – Balham Bowls Club, Saturday 17th February

Supporting Vaseline

 

Changes – David Bowie

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

How Soon Is Now? – Smiths

Loaded – Primal Scream

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – Clash

I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass – Nick Lowe

Girls & Boys – Blur

1999 – Prince

Heart Of Glass – Blondie

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – Ian Dury

Too Much Too Young – Specials

John I’m Only Dancing – David Bowie

School’s Out  – Alice Cooper

Start Me Up – Rolling Stones

Lola – Kinks

All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople

Handbags & Gladrags – Rod Stewart

Kiss – Prince

Brass In Pocket – Pretenders

Rock The Casbah – Clash

I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Elvis Costello

The Sound Of The Suburbs – Members

Roadrunner Once – Jonathan Richman

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – REM

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Sound Of The Suburbs

Featuring The 49ers and me

February 3rd, 2018, The Portico Gallery, West Norwood

Onstage The 49ers look like they are really concentrating on playing well and putting on a good show for a hall full of fans. Or at least the female 3/5 of the band does. Suzi exhibits Tina Weymouth-style “my bass is bigger than me so I must really focus” cool. Lead singer Emma comes over as bit stern but delivers some good strong vocals and less than intelligible stage announcements, although her request for two more gin and tonics came through loud and clear. Cleo – introduced as “our Ginger Spice” – generates some impressive keyboard sounds during Walk Like An Egyptian, which also featured some carefully shared vocals. The male 2/5 is a bit more extrovert with Dave doing a bit of Les Paul posing and cool titfer wearing and Steve The Drummer gurning in a way that would definitely put me off my vegan curry.

The 49ers play songs their audience will know and they play them well it’s a good mix of material and nothing jars or feels out of place. I loved Pyscho Killer and their version of the evenings theme song. The audience responded by bopping feverishly, with the more youthful members playing some sort of chase game which lasted for most of the evening and did for the monitors at one point. Feverish calls for an encore brought two, finishing with an augmented version of Too Much Too Young.  After the 49ers finished DJ Zero took over, playing some funky sounds for serious dancing.

The Portico is a well-used space in the heart of West Norwood where all manner of community-based stuff happens.  Tonight is a benefit for West Norwood Wonder, a cause I still don’t understand even though it was explained to me twice. Before the 49ers I had fun playing a punky 76-77 DJ set (see playlist here). I also dressed in the clothes I wore during those two fine years – bumper boots, Levis, plain T shirt, denim jacket. In other words what I wear now, though these days we say Converse rather than bumper boot.  And I had so many badges on my jacket because that was A Thing back then, when slogans included “How Dare You Presume I Am Not A Lesbian?” and “Wearing Badges Is Not Enough”. My current fave is “Is There Life After Youth?”, found at the V&A when we went for the Bowie exhibition.

I had a great time and I think if you went to see the 49ers you would have a great time too. They are a bit like the film Paddington 2 – it is impossible to envisage any sane person not enjoying them.

My thanks to Steve The Drummer for inviting me and Zero for the loan of his decks.

Sound Of The Suburbs DJ Playlist

The Portico Gallery, West Norwood on February 3rd 2018,

Supporting The 49ers

 

Public Image – Public Image

Keys To Your Heart – 101’ers

Top Of The Pops – Rezillos

Remote Control- Clash

Smash It Up – Damned

Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric

So It Goes – Nick Lowe

Rockaway Beach – Ramones

Shake Some Action – Flamin’ Groovies

Do Anything You Wanna Do – Rods

Gloria – Patti Smith Group

One Chord Wonders – Adverts

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

Love > Building On Fire – Talking Heads

You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory – Johnny Thunders

Another Girl Another Planet – Only Ones

Mannequin – Wire

Where Were You? – Mekons

Police On My Back – Clash

Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

Pump It Up – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Jilted John – Jilted John

I Wanna Be Your Man – Rezillos

What Do I Get? – Buzzcocks

I’m Stranded – Saints

Roadrunner Twice – Jonathan Richman

New Rose – Damned

London Calling – Clash

Slim Dunlap – My New Old Records

New West Records NW5 102 (double Vinyl LP)

This re-release marks the first appearance on vinyl of Slim Dunlap’s brace of solo LPs from the mid-90s. Slim was recruited by the Replacements to take over from original lead guitarist Bob Stinson – his real name is Bob Dunlap, but they couldn’t handle going from one Bob to another Bob so they reverted to the childhood nickname of Slim. Before that he was a journeyman Minneapolis musician who was known and liked by everyone.

Solo albums. Usually disappointing and rarely a patch on the albums made as a band. For some reasons guitarists seem to make better solo LPs than lead singers. So Keith Richards yes, Mick Jagger no. Ron Wood yes, Rod Stewart no. Phil Manzanera yes, Bryan Ferry no. Why this should be I have absolutely no idea. Anyway these records work better than 90% of Paul Westerberg’s solo stuff. Slim is now very ill and his label manager – the estimable Peter Jesperson – has arranged for them to be released to raise money for Slim’s medical bills.  The results are a labour of love –  thick vinyl, a poster, a 7” spider, guitar pick, affectionate sleeve notes from Slim’s drummer Brien Lilja. More about this and related releases at songsforslim.com

The Old New Me (1993) represented Slim’s debut recordings. The sound is glorious, barely produced, the sound of a band playing live (even if they weren’t) and in perfect balance. Slim underplays throughout with consummate taste – even when he lets rip on James Burton’s Love Lost it is all done with care and precision. The songs have great hooks which don’t need a “big” production to register whilst the lyrics manage to be rueful without being cynical, especially on The Ballad Of The Opening Band which has to be autobiographical. The opening double header of Rocking Here Tonight and Just For The Hell Of It form a swaggering statement of intent which rolls as much as it rocks.  If you enjoyed Keith Richards Talk Is Cheap, give this a try.

The second LP “Times Like These” came out in 1996. Slim experiments a bit more musically and lyrically on Chrome Lipstick and Jungle Out There but his commitment to catchy melodies and lyrical grace remains unwavering. Radio Hook Word Hit explains why such a thing is so difficult to achieve but the country-tinged title track brings it all back home. Paul Westerberg guests inaudibly (as he did on The Old New Me). Production is credited to “anyone handy”

Bob Mehr’s book ‘Trouble Boys’ made it clear that Slim had to really practice to sound this good. These records ooze love and commitment. They never sold much the first time around, it would be a fitting tribute to a lovely guy if they sold a few more copies now. Just as I was writing this review I noticed that in the poster of Slim onstage his Marshall amp has been clumsily modified to read Mats. Somehow that sums him up – committed, unpretentious and someone to whom music was a calling rather than a career.

My Bible: The 1975 NME Annual

I was an impressionable teenager when Father Christmas stuffed this in my stocking:

The NME Christmas Annual – or to give it its full title The 1975 Hot Rock Guide – contained a series of brilliant essays by a team of writers at the top of their game, working with some great raw material. Highlights included Charles Shaar Murray (CSM) on Bowie and Mott, Nick Kent interviewing Lou Reed and the New York Dolls, Roy Carr chatting with Mick Jagger, Ian McDonald doing a retrospective on Todd Rundgren, Andrew Tyler getting Ray Davies and Marianne Faithful to talk from the heart and Kent again sparring with Bryan Ferry .

What these pop stars all have in common is that

  1. They give genuinely interesting interviews – even Mick Jagger who could win Olympic Gold for evasiveness
  2. They looked great in the pics
  3. They had hit singles – imagine!

The most productive writer was Nick Kent, enfant terrible of the magazine and then at the peak of his powers. His Syd Barrett piece was a genuine departure for the weeklies  – it ran over 3 weeks and was unashamedly retrospective. In a world where Mojo and Uncut did not yet exist this was a real departure. Also here is Kent’s interview with completely wasted 13 year-old Slade fans and his encounter with Captain Beefheart, who gave him the same old guff as he gave every other journalist. CSM does an affectionate overview of Heavy Metal and wins Best Headline for “Donny! I’m A Mormon!”, a classic profile of the simpering brothers.

It’s not all great – Pat Boone’s presence is inexplicable and Roy Carr falls for Sly Stone’s line that he’s gone straight. Andrew Tyler was clearly the non-music specialist, he interviews the Python team on the set of “…Holy Grail”. He also meets Jimmy Saville and the resultant article shows Saville to be evasive about his personal relationships with the exception of his feelings for his Mother (“The Duchess”).

I re-read this book on a regular basis and the piece I find the most affecting is the late I Mac’s thoughtful assessment of the career of Todd Rundgren, still the best thing I have ever read on this most exasperating of artists. The article makes a good case for sticking with Rundgren through his prog excesses, so I did (for a while). There are some omissions from my personal pantheon of greatness but in 1975 only the readers of Zig Zag had heard of Alex Chilton or Cyril Jordan.

As a snapshot of a time when great music was also commercially viable this book is a stunner. If you lived through it. It will take you back. If you were too young or too old it will make you kick yourself that you weren ‘t around.

Cost 85p, value priceless (although currently going for about £6.50 on eBay)

 

Through The Past, Brightly

Yardbirds ’68 2CD ( jimmypage.com )

The Rolling Stones On Air 2CD (Polydor)

Two stunning double CD sets to end the year, both great examples of how familiar material can be sonically upgraded to allow the richness of the performances to shine through.

Yardbirds ‘68 is a live/studio set and represents the culmination of many years work by Jimmy Page. The live set has in the past been released officially but controversially by Epic as The Yardbirds Live At The Andersen Theatre Featuring Jimmy Page. Page sued successfully to get the LP withdrawn, considering it a desparate record company ploy to get some final product out of a rapidly disintegrating group. Previous releases have been marred by a poor mix with overdubbed bullfight-type cheers at random intervals. Page has completely remixed the original tapes to reveal a tough, exciting gig by the final Yardbirds line-up in which he plays a prominent part. Gone are the extraneous crowd noises, replaced by the sturdy and flexible rhythm section of McCarty and Dreja, Keith Relf in fine form on vocals and harp and Page himself sounding suspiciously good – if he really got this guitar tone in March 1968 he really was, in the words of The Third Bardo,  Five Years Ahead Of His Time. You get a real sense of what was coming next –the first Led Zeppelin live dates were played under the name of the New Yardbirds – with fine versions of Dazed and Confused and White Summer. The companion CD ‘Studio Sketches’, recorded in New York around the same time, features an instrumental version of Knowing That I’m Losing You, later to emerge on Led Zeppelin III as Tangerine.

Also featured on the studio CD are a fierce alternate Drinking Muddy Water and a cover of Garnet Mimm’s My Baby plus some atmospheric works in progress such as Spanish Blood and Avron’s Eyes. Sound quality is improved from when these tracks appeared on the NMC Cumular Limit CD. Taken together with the Little Games Sessions set, Yardbirds ‘68 makes a convincing case for the Page-era Yardbirds being much more than unsuccessful pop playthings for Mickie Most. Please note that there is a minor drop out in the live Over Under Sideways Down and corrected CDs are being sent out to all who have bought the set direct from jimmypage.com.

The Stones set is available in various formats but the Deluxe 2CD set delivers maximum bang for your bucks with 32 tracks recorded for the BBC as part of their “needle-time” allowance. Recorded from 1963 to 1965 the tracks are presented in non-chronological order so as lead with the hits. The booklet provided has key recording details in white reversed out of pale pink making them mostly illegible. However everything else about this set is terrific. Careful  ‘de-mixing’ of the tapes at Abbey Road has brought a clarity and level of detail unimaginable from the myriad bootlegs we have listened to over the last fifty years. And what treasure! A version of Come On that eclipses the stiff studio single. A delicate, calypso style Crackin’ Up which would not be played again until the El Mocambo gig in 1977. A version of Everybody Needs Somebody To Love which starts with some lovely piano (played by who?). I Can’t Be Satisfied with a stunning Brian Jones slide part. A driving 2120 South Michigan Avenue that really motors. And loads of covers never officially recorded like High Heel Sneakers, Cops And Robbers and Memphis. The long-lost  Jagger/Richards harmonies feature strongly, sometimes slightly askew  but more often ragged but right. A fuzz-box driven, stomping Satisfaction from September ‘65 is the most recent recording and points the way ahead, leaving behind beat group staples and moving towards Nanker Phelge world domination.

Get on the hotline to Santa. You need both these stuffed in your stocking.

 

Dessert Island Discs

Like most music fans I fantasise about what 8 records I would choose if the BBC invited me onto R4 Desert Island Discs 

Realistically that is never going to happen. So I have written it anyway. At the risk of sounding a bit Nick Hornby it is liable to change on a weekly basis.

1. Lola, The Kinks
This was the first song I can remember listening out for on the radio. I was around 12 and I thought it was weird the way Ray Davies sang “Cherry Cola” – only much later would I discover that the BBC had made him re-record this line. The rest of the lyrics added considerably to my teenage confusion about everything.

2. Virginia Plain, Roxy Music
The second band I ever saw live (the first was the rather less credible Uriah Heap). A gang of us saw their first UK tour in 1972 at Guildford Civic Hall just as Virginia Plain was entering the charts. Somehow we ended up backstage after the gig and were massively impressed by the champagne and glamorous girlfriends.

3. Couldn’t I Just Tell You?, Todd Rundgren
The soundtrack to a lot of teenage and early 20’s angst (see also the first two Big Star LPs). For some reason Todd Rundgren was massive in the suburbs of South West London during these pre-punk days: his Everybody’s Going To Heaven is an all-to-accurate description of our then lifestyle. I even tried to mimic the multi-coloured hair he sported on the cover of Todd (1974) with purloined gold and silver brush-in hairdye.

4. Lovers Of Today, The Only Ones
Punk cut through the London music scene like a knife through butter and I was a convert, having seen the Pistols in 1975. It was a time for great singles, but albums – not so much. Exceptions were the Heartbreakers and The Only Ones. In my 20 years of writing for Bucketfull of Brains magazine the band I liked the most were the Only Ones, and their guitarist John Perry remains a friend to this day.

5. Start Me Up, Rolling Stones
I have not missed a Stones tour since Knebworth 1976 – a gig it took me a week to get home from. Most recently I saw the band in Paris on the No Filter tour and they can still cut it. This is my wife’s favourite song and we paid daft money to be down the front at Wembley Arena in 2003. We were so close we could have counted Keith Richards wrinkles (he calls them laughter lines, but as George Melly pointed out, nothing is that funny)

6. Sunrise, The Who
Really a Pete Townshend solo track from The Who Sell Out and a key song from the cassette I made to accompany our wedding breakfast. Breathtakingly beautiful.

7. Left Of The Dial, The Replacements
With my collection of 7” vinyl singles approaching 1,750 I decided to start working as a DJ. My highest-profile gig to date has been the brace of Replacements gigs at the London Roundhouse in June 2015 where I met Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson and was able to thank them for all the fine music they have given us since 1981 . Left Of the Dial is not just a great song and a brilliant performance: it also functions as a call-to-arms for independent music.

8. Where Did Our Love Go?, The J Geils Band

The best gig I ever saw was J Geils in at Manchester Free Trade Hall, June 2nd 1980. A crowd of less than 200, rattling around in a huge venue – the band could have been forgiven for going through the motions. Instead they played as though it was a sold-out Wembley Stadium. This cover was a highlight, check it out on the Blow Your Face Out double live LP

The One Record I Would Keep
Start Me Up.

Book (excluding The Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare)
The All Music Guide To Rock (3rd Edition, 2002) – nerdy but sometimes you just have to know when Da Capo was released

Luxury
An infinite supply of cheese and pickle sandwiches (has to be cheddar and Branston)

So what are your 8 platters that matter?