Saturday, 31 March 2012

‘Kill Uncle’ – Morrissey (1991)

"I tried to surprise you,
I crept up behind you,
With a homeless chihuahua.
You cooed for an hour,
You handed him back and you said,
"You’ll never guess:
I’m bored now.""

If you received a free sample of Deep Heat cream rub through the post in Spring 1991, then the chances are I sent it to you. No, it wasn’t just some weird thing I used to do for fun. And it wasn’t exactly something I did by choice either. I was actually on work experience for a small design agency in Kensington.  

The idea was that my cousin Matt and I would get some hands-on experience to aid our college advertising course. We imagined highly intoxicating (and dangerously intoxicated) brainstorms for exotic campaign shoots starring Michelle Pfeiffer. We got a week in a cramped loft conversion stuffing thousands of packs of Deep Heat in to Jiffy bags and then hauling them off down the Post Office. So, yes, it was definitely hands-on. And it was certainly an experience.

With our hopes so cruelly dashed on that very first morning, we had one thing to look forward to at lunch-time: a new Morrissey album would be sitting on the shelves of Our Price. Yes, we’d been looking for a job and now we’d found a job, and Heaven knew we were miserable now. Moz would surely balm our tortured souls more gently than any Deep Heat. Well, if you’ve ever listened to 'Kill Uncle', you know what’s coming next. It was a travesty. It still pains me to write that even now. Because I had adored everything Morrissey had sung, written or said up until that lunchtime. But that’s the kindest word I can find for ‘Kill Uncle’.

Don’t worry though, as there’s an uplifting message of hope coming straight up. Matt and I perservered through to the second week of our work experience and had a great time doodling logos. Morrissey went on to release the landmark ‘Your Arsenal’ as his next album. And many good folk up and down the country found their muscular aches warmly soothed by a free tub of Deep Heat that they’d forgotten they’d requested six months earlier.

Spotify linky :

Thursday, 29 March 2012

‘Hollow Heart’ – Birdland (1989)

"Baby, take a train,
Maybe dance in Birdland.
I ain’t got the energy,
Maybe that I once had."

So where were you when you first heard the ‘Hollow Heart’ EP by Birdland? "Who?" Well, yeah, ok, fair enough. They blazed brightly, but all too quickly. In fact, they kind of peaked fifty-three seconds in to this first single.

Very rarely do I buy just one EP/single/album by a band. The completist in me strives to collect every multiple variant of every release by every band that bewitches me. It’s why I own more than one Black Lace record (Before you ask : Yes, they actually did make more than one record. And, give me a break, I was only 10!) And it’s also why I still buy Morrissey’s albums. But this is the one and only Birdland release to make it in to my collection.

For one glorious Spring in 1989 (the best year ever for music - fact), they were Melody Maker’s bleached moptop, buzzsaw pop darlings. Listening back to this first EP now, they must have known time was against them. The three short, sharp songs on side one belt along at such a pace that they actually collide into each other. Listening back to them now, I’m not sure why I gave up on Birdland so soon. My passion for them is reignited. The Birdland revival starts here.

And ends here, I guess.  

Friday, 23 March 2012

‘Prince Charming’ – Adam And The Ants (1981)

"Ridicule is nothing to be scared of."

So, we seem to have a dancing theme emerging in these recent posts. Which reminds me of the only moves I’ve ever mastered: the Prince Charming. Oh, yes, no-one dances the Prince Charming quite like me.

Ok, so it only involves striding forward very slowly, whilst crossing your arms above your head and then lowering them. But if only it was that simple. It’s actually all in how you possess the character. How the nobility, regency and ardour of the Prince Charming flows through you. Any ten-year-old knows that.

I also realised these skills needed to be passed down through the family, so I quickly tutored my younger sister. We’d then leap up from the sofas to dance round the room every time the video was played on the telly. Which was an awful lot in 1981.

To this day, my arms still instinctively lock in position every time I hear those familiar drums pounding. Which is a tad embarrassing when I’m in the queue at the chippy.

P.S. Shortly after this video was released, I was rather chuffed to meet the wonderful fairy godmother Diana Dors when she opened my school's summer fête. I didn't show her my Prince Charming.

Monday, 19 March 2012

‘The Lovecats’ – The Cure (1983)

"You’re so wonderfully, 
wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully  pretty.
Oh, you know that I’d do anything for you."

"Michael, what were you doing in your room last night?"

"Erm ... [Ok, this could be awkward.] Probably writing, or drawing, or something." [Yes, that sounds good. I'm arty - that's exactly the kind of thing I do each night.]

"Oh, because I walked past your house and it kind of looked like you were dancing. By yourself. Your shadow was bouncing around behind your curtains. With your arms doing that 'Robert Smith thing' around your head."

"Oh, yes … I was probably doing that too."

[Thanks, life. Here’s the one girl that makes me feel like dancing round my room. And she catches me dancing round my room!!! Argh! Hang on … since when does she know where I live?]

"Hey, how do you know where …"

[Oh, she’s gone.]

Lesson learnt: Swap your childish Spitfire curtains ("Spitfires?!!?" I know. Exactly. Why?) for much thicker ones the day you reach double figures.

P.S. A year after this tale, I lent the above video to the above friend. And she spotted the little nip Rob gets from the kitten when sitting on the stairs (at 1.34). She acted this out for me. It instantly became my favourite moment in any video ever.

P.P.S. Yes, long-time readers, this is the same girl.  

Saturday, 17 March 2012

‘Slowdive’ – Slowdive (1990)

"I hear your voice,
But it can’t bring me back.
I’m chasing all the things,
I ever thought I had."

Have you ever met your doppelgänger? Mine hangs out in Brighton. Well, he did 22 years ago when he was last spotted.

This was back in my college days. A guy I half-knew (I have a terrible memory for names – let’s call him Andrew, as that may be close) came up to me in class one Monday morning and accused me of rudely ignoring him at the weekend. I’d been staying with my grandparents’ and didn’t recall him popping round, but he swore he’d seen me in a bar on Brighton seafront. This was back in my bird’s-nest-hair days, so I said he probably just mistook me for another bedraggled shoegazing student across a crowded, smoky bar (pre-ban days). But he was having none of it and was getting increasingly narked.

Apparently, after my alternate self ignored an initial wave, Andrew then approached me and said ‘hello’ but I claimed not to know him. I tried to explain that it was because it wasn’t me and he'd tried to befriend a stranger. But Andrew was adamant that he looked just like me. And he talked just like me. And, most importantly, he behaved just like me. He had a point there. I absolutely would have ignored Andrew if he’d approached me in a bar in Brighton.

To this day I would imagine Andrew’s still convinced that was actually me - yes, it may well keep him up nights. And I’m still hoping I get to meet my doppelgänger one day. It sounds like we’d get on famously.   
 Me, circa 1990. Or is it? 

Spotify linky :

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)’ – Beastie Boys (1986)

"Your Mom busted in and said,
‘What’s that noise?’
Aw, Mom, you’re just jealous,
It’s the Beas-tie Boys!"

It’s hard to imagine now a time when partying was outlawed. But that was the ‘80s, kids. George Michael was the first to publicly declare that he was never going to dance again (something about guilty feet having no rhythm). This was swiftly followed by local ministers around the world banning any public displays of moonwalking or b-boying on cardboard boxes taken from round the back of Spar. It was a tough time, when the only entertainment that remained was playing chicken with tractors in your friend’s cornfield. All this of course was vividly portrayed in the harrowing documentary ‘Footloose’. So perfectly does it encapsulate these dark days that it can be hard to watch, even now.

But in the rebel leader Kevin Bacon we saw hope. And it was his valiant struggles in the small Rocky Mountain town of Bomont that inspired the Beasties. Now we could finally rise up as one and fight for our right to paaaaaaarty. And steal VW badges. This last bit was what really inspired my school friend Phil. Though he didn’t really think things through that carefuly when he decided to rip a badge from a teacher’s car. I'm not sure it was even a VW one. Ten minutes later the whole school was sitting in an emergency assembly and the Headmaster played his ultimate threat card: no-one would be leaving the hall until the culprit came forward. This could get messy. Except Phil was still wearing the badge round his neck and was swiftly dobbed in by some lower sixth lad hoping to earn a Prefect badge.
But there’s a happy ending. Mick Jagger and David Bowie decided to reclaim the streets for dancers everywhere (Chicago, New Orleans, New York City – and even some places not in America). And soon everyone was cutting loose and kicking off their Sunday shoes – whatever that actually means. Even George Michael had turned his life around and his feet had been found not guilty. His troubles were finally behind him and he knew the best of times lay ahead. What could possibly go wrong?

Please note: Some of the above may not be historically acurate. For instance, I’m not sure if Careless Whisper came out before Footloose, and I can’t be bothered to check. And I may have made some other stuff up too. But you get the idea.

Spotify linky :

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

‘Something Or Nothing’ – Pale Seas (2012)

"You know you’ve fallen,
But I know how high."

And we’re back… Happy New Year! Happy Pancake Day! Happy Birthday (if I’ve missed one – sorry – hope there was balloons and ice cream)! I’m sure you’ve been pining for more tales of musical misadventures, unrequited love, and Gothic persecution. Don’t worry, we’ll be getting right back to those. Just not today.

No, today, we’re kind of limbering up. Doing some scholary star jumps, if you will. And I wanted to start moving forward again by introducing a bewitching new song by a beguiling new band. (See what I did with the be- thing there? Yep, I still haven’t lost it after all these months away.)

"So, Michael, is this another of those new bands you’re championing where you just so happen to know the bass player’s, third cousin’s chiropodist?" Yes, perhaps something like that. But don’t let that concern you. Unless you need your feet looking at. In which case, I can probably hook you up there.

Anyway, enough of this. ‘Tis a beautifully emotive song. With a lovely sleeve. And look: clear vinyl. *swoon*

More Pale Seas loveliness here: