Saturday, 20 October 2012

'Gimme Shelter' - The Rolling Stones (1969)

"War, children,
It’s just a shot away."

No-one needs to buy a Rolling Stones record. That’s what I used to think. Their poppy hits were played non-stop on Radio One when I was growing up. To the point that the songs were drained of any resonance. And then I heard The Sisters Of Mercy’s version of ‘Gimme Shelter’. A maelstrom of apocalyptic visions and pounding rhythms. I expected this from The Sisters of Mercy. But from the Stones? How little did I know.

My parents record collection was light on Stones albums, so it was off to Our Price for any album they had with ‘Gimme Shelter’ on. Which was this Greatest Hits double set. Here my love of the Stones began. In their hands, ‘Gimme Shelter’ was something else again. It simply reverberated with unbridled emotion. This is what Steve Wright should have been playing on the Radio One Roadshow. And to think I still had to discover ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘Exile On Main Street’, and so very many more.

I think we’ve all learnt something here about misconceptions. I’m now ready to hear The Sisters Of Mercy cover something by Genesis.  

Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie and Bill introduce last week's
world premiere of 'Crossfire Hurricane' at the London Film Festival. 

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Friday, 12 October 2012

'Ants Invasion' - Adam And The Ants (1980)

"10.35 and I hope I’ve made the right decision.
Heart is beating;
I’m alive,
But I don’t call this living."

"Don’t go in the bamboo!" These were the chilling words of warning I’d hear endless times as a kid. From my parents. From my teachers. Everyone seemed spooked by bamboo. These days it’s all pubescent vampires and post-apocalyptic zombies. Back in the Seventies it was giant grass.

There were tales. Told by flickering candlelight on cruel October nights. Well, some of them. Others were told under the flickering school hall strip lights in morning assembly. Of children being shredded alive by running through the bamboo patch on the school playing field. "Hold it there! What?!" Yes, exactly. I’m not sure who the school thought they were fooling with this. How come these grisly deaths by menacing perennial evergreens never appeared in the local paper? And why didn’t they just chop the bamboo patch down? I’m pretty sure our Head Master was cribbing his assembly notes from a Stephen King book.

And then there was the Bamboo Man. Who lived in the woods near our house. Apparently. "Stay away from the Bamboo Man!" "Is he made of bamboo then?" "Er, no. He lives in the bamboo." "Well, the name needs some work." Of course, the tales of a Bamboo Man just made you want to play in the woods even more. Would we see him? What did he eat? Did he steal those Micronauts I hid in the silver birch last week?

It would seem Bamboo Man was only visible to adults though, as none of us kids ever spotted him. Despite continually throwing rocks and assorted masonry in to the bamboo to flush him out. Kids, eh?

Three decades later though, I hear he’s still dwelling there. Well, that’s what my eleven-year-old nephew has been told. Surely this must be Son Of Bamboo Man by now though? And why is all this bamboo still around? Is someone panda farming in the area? Don’t people own scythes anymore?
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P.S. It's always a delight when I open an album sleeve and some forgotten treasure spills out. Today it was this 12-page catalogue...

Monday, 8 October 2012

'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' - John Williams (1981)


Was anyone here at my 10th birthday? I’m thinking of holding a reunion. It’s a long shot, I know. Especially as I think I only invited about three friends. Who I haven't seen for three decades. Can you guess what we saw? (Though the film actually has a different official title now. ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ Mr Lucas just loves to tinker.)   

This was my last birthday party. I peaked at 10. There would be no coming-of-age-type-events as I turned 18 and 21. No need. I’d seen Harrison Ford escape a giant rolling boulder. What was going to top that?

Only one other party comes to mind when I was younger. A dinosaur and pirates themed event in a local school church when I was about six. Shared with another boy in my class who had a birthday that week. I liked dinosaurs. He liked pirates. I wish I’d gone as a dinosaur pirate now. That would have been spectacular. Perhaps it’s not too late. I need to roll these parties together. A screening of ‘Raiders’ with everyone dressed as dinosaur pirates. And there’ll be warm Kia-Ora and a box of stale Revels for all. Who’s in?     

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Saturday, 6 October 2012

'Boys Don't Cry (New Voice)' - The Cure (1986)

"I try and laugh about it,
Hiding the tears in my eyes."

The Eighties in one image. Well, my Eighties. I can’t speak for the striking coal miners or those that fought in the Falklands War. I’m thinking they’d probably choose something less frivolous.

My Sixth Form days would begin and end with this poster of Robert Smith hanging over my bed. My black school folders had this silhouette drawn on them in silver pen. My friend Toni had a Boys Don’t Cry T-shirt she wore one summer day we were walking her dogs over the fuel allotments. It was on badges I found in Kensington Market and postcards bought on the Isle of Wight. I’m surprised I didn’t get it as a tattoo. (Well, not that surprised, actually.)  

And, of course, I’d painstakingly copy that look. Plumes of distressed hair, over-sized suit jackets, high-tops with multiple sets of laces, and a guitar slung nonchalantly over my shoulder (the guitar was one fashion accessory too far, to be honest - especially when out shopping or visiting the dentist). It would be a long time until another sleeve had that impact on me again. Probably ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ by Ronan Keating. Ho ho ho.