Monday, February 27, 2006

Fifteen seconds of fame

Soundtrack: Various Elliott Smith

My brief appearance on '90s post-pub programme The Word was repeated on the telly last night, as part of a list programme about TV's 100 funniest moments. It was highly peculiar, but amusing, to see my 21-year-old self onscreen. My appearance wasn't a funny moment per se - it purely served as an aide memoire of how appalling the programme was overall. [The actual funny moment was an incoherent Olly Reed trying to sing a cover of Wild Thing while barely being able to stand. Alcoholics are so hilarious, aren't they?]

For those of you too young to remember (and to those of you with lives who may never have seen it), there was a featured segment called 'The Hopefuls' in The Word which dared people to do various disgusting/outrageous things just to get on TV. I suppose if you were feeling charitable you could say it was a forerunner to the atrocious stuff you see on reality TV now. I'm happy to say I was part of those early days of barrel-scraping: the thinking man's Jade Goody, only odder-looking.

AND I'm still due the other fourteen and three-quarter minutes.


In other news - Coldcut was fun. The aforementioned Jon Spencer was in evidence with an enormous beard. Good for him, he has to do something to detract attention from his height. Other guests included Roots Manuva and Robert Owens. Best bit? Warm-up DJ Ross Allen playing some of my favourite 80s songs, including Stool Pigeon. At-cha-cha-cha!

Friday, February 24, 2006

An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth

Soundtrack: The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Have been reading about Nick Cave's involvement in an upcoming movie The Proposition this morning. I saw a trailer for this film last week (I neglected to mention that we went saw the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line last weekend - which was enjoyable). Coming in to work today, I felt the need to immerse myself in some of Cave's back catalogue.

I'm astounded at the force of these songs - my three preferred tracks on the compilation are The Carny, The Mercy Seat and From Her to Eternity. Vengeance, death, religion,'s all here, in its filthy glory.

I'm sure I've said it before, but I find it astonishing that so many people refuse to give Cave airtime because they have an image of him as a doom-mongering goth. What they fail to see is the humour in what he does. Admittedly, it's black humour - but come on, if the 'Great' British Public can embrace The League of Gentlemen and Nighty Night, surely they can handle songs that deal with executions and suchlike...

This weekend's planned jaunt to Devon has been postponed. Instead, we're off to see Coldcut tomorrow night. Their new album is rather good and has some halfway decent contributors on it (including rock midget Jon Spencer - previously a favourite of mine, currently a man I view with complete indifference). *Blooze eggsplozhun!* Yeah, what-evah.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Never for money, always for love...

Soundtrack: Chairs Missing by Wire

Oh dear. The trouble I predicted a couple of posts ago is upon me. It's all work-related, bien sur, which you could have guessed. I feel like I've been battered, I'm so tired. It's been relentless. Went for a hot chocolate with a friend this evening whom is currently going through a very similar experience. Neither of us can quite believe the situation we're in. We sat there resignedly shrugging and sighing. Shit.

Elsewhere, out in the real world, I had an entertaining weekend. I read the book Hell Bent for Leather, which was very amusing indeed. It's kind of a twat's guide to heavy metal (as the author himself puts it). Now, I've flirted with metal myself. More than that actually - my teenage boyfriends were fans of bands such as *deep breath* Deicide, Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies, Napalm Death, Anthrax and Dio. [Dio, FFS. I mean, why?]

Not all metallers are sad. Merv, Jezza, Clouse - you're safe. You too, Mrs. West (in fact, you're the only proper female metal fan I've ever known). The book outlined a glam metal odyssey by the author which had me hooting with laughter. Well worth a look.

Also attended a vintage fashion fair in Hammersmith (gateway to the West) on Sunday. It was OK. I got some great sunglasses, which I intend to wear after dark. Also purchased: a black summer dress (sounds odd, but it works) and a black/pink tweed coat. This last item is one of the most punk rock things I've ever seen. It's getting cleaned, then I'm going to wear it to death. Coincidentally JJ ran into an old pal in the pub opposite the venue whose missus deals in all things vintage (clothing, jewellery; furniture).

So, in a couple of month's time I intend to be a fully paid up 1950s beatnik sweater girl. How'd ya like them apples?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Record box #4

4. Terry Hall

Fun Boy Three 'Our Lips are Sealed'
The Colourfield 'Thinking of you'

I've only seen Terry Hall in the flesh once and it was one of those moments that made me catch my breath. I was outside the Kilburn National, having just seen Beck do a gig. That was pretty good, but seeing Terry was 100 times better. I looked up and there he was, wandering down the street with a look on his face than can best be described as 'hangdog'. If there was ever an illustrated dictionary, they'd surely print a picture of Terry next to that word.

As a kid, I loved The Specials and from an early age I have associated Terry with some of the best moments of socially-concious (yet un-preachy) British pop music. [Apart from Vegas, his collaboration with Dave Stewart - I have just about forgiven him that particular transgression.] Here he is, represented in the record box by two of his finest moments, in my opinion.

Fun Boy Three were formed by Hall following the breakdown of The Specials and sounded very odd indeed when you consider the landscape of music at the time (over-produced new romanticism; the remainder of new wave and the re-heated leftovers of punk). Their sound was sparse and percussion-led. They are a criminally under-rated band that have always been overshadowed by the success of Hall's former project.

'Our Lips are Sealed' was co-written between Hall and Jane Wiedlin, of superior all-girl power-poppers The Go-Gos - whom also recorded a version of the song. From a comparison standpoint the two versions couldn't be more different - the Go-Gos version sounds positive, upbeat: it's a sort-of jaunty 'fuck you!'. The version by FB3 is melancholy-sounding and resigned. Hall's delivery gets me every time: every line is like a separate, stand-alone statement. In a nutshell, he sounds worn and bitter. It's a superlative '80s pop moment.

I must admit that I know relatively little about the Colourfield, Hall's next project after FB3. It strikes me that 'Thinking of you' was designed as an exercise in reproducing a lush, strings-laden 1960s pop song of the old style. What a good job they made of it too - as a duet between boy and girl, it recalls Nancy and Lee (and maybe even Peters and Lee!). Again, what is an ostensibly cheery love song has an edge - mainly because the lyrics are quite negative.

It's even more heartening for me that Terry Hall has recently admitted that most of his music collection has been bought at service stations. A confessed lover of cheesy pop music, he has rather smartly aligned himself to Sean Rowley's rather excellent franchise Guilty Pleasures. I'm going to get myself along to one of these soon to see him DJ, I think.


On another note: hope you all caught the mighty Prince on the Brit Awards last night. Perhaps this is a turning point for him, and he will be re-established in the bosom of the nation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The mirror always echoes

Soundtrack: Various (Roxy Music; My Bloody Valentine; Dollar; The Slits; Nirvana)

Another Tuesday night with the records in the back bedroom and a bottle of Budvar. This is my time, a time to think about how well I am the Fly segues into Girl U Want, and how many really dodgy 1980s 7" records I own (Tarzan Boy by Baltimora, anyone?). This evening I played Out of the Blue and Pyjamarama by Roxy. Neither of them is their finest hour, but I think the latter comes pretty close (if it had perhaps a little less sax solo?).

I must admit to being a little worn. I can sense trouble coming too. Not sure if this will be in work or in life, but something is brewing. There's lots of insignificant little bits of stuff floating about at present which I'm sure will add up to a great big something soon.

I've found a childhood photo of myself that I'll post here soon. I'm standing in a car park in Holsworthy (which is near the North Devon/Cornwall border, for those of you on other continents - hi, by the way!).

I'm wearing a bridesmaid's dress. I'm squinting at the camera and smiling without showing my teeth (which was very much my 'thing' as a kid). I've got a heavy fringe and it looks like my hair could do with a brush (that hasn't changed). Just looking at the photo I can remember the details: a summer wedding, followed by a holiday in Bude. We may or may not have had a caravanette on that holiday; my beloved pet dachshund Shoona may have been with us. It's at least 28 years ago.

One minute you're a six-year old in a pretty dress, the next thing you know you've woken up boring and a bit wrong and the highlight of your day is a fast train into town. Reality bites - and generally, right on your arse.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My pain and sadness is more sad and painful than yours

Soundtrack (in head): Chupacabras by Super Furry Animals

I had a four-day weekend. This can only lead to misery in the long run, as I’m sure you’re all aware. I got back to work today, to mayhem.

Some things I’ve done recently:

I watched an ostensibly serious TV programme about how to pay off a mortgage in two years, only to spend most of the hour weeping with laughter at the antics of a man whom thought that becoming a Cliff Richard impersonator was a sound business venture. He neither looked nor sounded like the bible-bashing 75-year-old-teenager. He even went to a former member of Black Lace for advice on the vocals! Christ on a sodding bike!! If it’s ever repeated, you MUST watch it. Please, do it for me.

I went to see two of the oddest bands in the world: Earth and Sunn O))). It was a strange night (in more ways than one). Sunn O)))’s set was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard – no drums, just the rhythmic throb of two guitars and a synthesiser. It was SO art rock…at one point they brought a black metal dude onstage through the dry ice to hiss venomously over the music. Which immediately made me think of the Sisters of Mercy, something I found hilarious(most of the rest of the audience were reverential. Or maybe stoned? Perhaps both.). Following the gig I thought that an extra pint on top of the four I'd had already was necessary, so I went to the boozer with Jezza. The following morning I awoke with a really bad hangover and quite a large amount of physical pain. I think the sheer volume and force of the music had tensed my entire body up.

I took part in a focus group for a final year Psych project. Not the usual sort of thing I find myself doing on a Sunday morning, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As a postscript, I should say that the title of this post is indeed ironic. I'm sure most of you will understand the sentiment/reference.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Grey gardens

Soundtrack: Rufus Wainwright

It was another successful weekend. Friday night was spent in the company of JJ, DL, Misses Budd 'n' Tate and Ms. Darlington. It was one of the most pleasant evenings out I've had in some time. Heard a great story from the lady Darlington about a date she went on with a man who wore a decoy duck on his head at a supper club, which had me weeping with mirth.

Saturday I was in a bit of a dazed and confused state, but had the very great fortune to bump into Miss JoJo in Kingers (and where else but a charity shop?).

On Sunday we spent a long time doing stuff at the allotment. Some of our older chums up there are being very complimentary about the plot ('You're very well ahead this year - it's looking great!'). This is good for us, because we're forever plagued with doubt about being a bit crap at it.

For the first time this year, I feel positive. It's such an unusual feeling, I can hardly comprehend it. Last night I lay awake running through possibilities for this year through my mind, and felt faintly euphoric at the things that lie ahead.

I know. It really isn't like me, is it?

Friday, February 03, 2006


I am truly saddened to hear that Smash Hits magazine is to fold after 28 years of publication. [An excellent eulogy by Pete Paphides here]

It was the magazine that shaped my childhood. Every fortnight, on a Thursday, I would get the new issue, read, re-read it and memorise the best bits for the two weeks leading up to the new issue arriving.

After Pete Burns' recent appearance on Big Brother, I recalled the lengthy double-header SH interview Pete did in the company of Morrissey. I gather they eventually fell out after Pete showed up at Moz's gaff in a fur coat. Nothing much changes, eh.

Another interview that sticks in the mind is one with Ian McCulloch where he was incredibly rude. The title of the piece was (something like) 'UUUUGHHHHHOOOOOOAHHHHHHWWHHFFHH' - an approximation of the yawn that he kept affecting to irritate his interviewer.

Great Hits phrases: 'Sir Billiam of Idol'; 'George Michael is back, Back, BACK!'; 'Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft'; 'Old Toblerone Bonce' (referring to Paul Weller's ugly, middle-parted hairdo).

Strangely enough - just yesterday I found my Smash Hits Yearbook 1987 (always the best present in the Xmas stocking). No other annual would feature posters of the Jesus and Mary Chain, the ugliest band on the planet...or indeed ask popstars daft questions such as 'Do you know anyone called Tarquin?'.

It made me what I am today - a sad music nerd. I'll never forget those glory years (1981-1988). Smash Hits, I thank you.