Friday, July 28, 2006

Record Box #6

6. Electronic pure pop

Lori and the Chameleons 'Touch'
M 'Pop muzik'
Sparks 'The number one song in heaven'

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I bleedin' LOVE pop music. The above three songs make me want to jump and down, wave my arms in the air like I just don't care, and so on.

Sparks are a marvellous band. They comprise two bothers, one of whom has a squeaky operatic voice, and the other has a Hitler moustache and barely moves. You've gotta love that. To me they are a great combination of funny, weird and clever. Incredibly, for a period in the 1970s they were the stuff of Jackie annuals.
[I inherited several of these from my older sisters when I was small, and have a clear memory of singer Russell Mael featuring in a 'hunks' section - which seems incongruous, but those were the times of effeminate, non-threatening men in pop like David Cassidy and Leif Garrett, with breathy voices and flowing locks. My other clear memory of these annuals is the disturbing photo-love stories starring acne-scarred girls...]

As I was saying before I got distracted there, Sparks are godlike. This particular track was co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder, who is a genius (I Feel Love doesn't feature in my record box but it is in my list of top ten records, E.V.A.H. ever). The song is simply about the Number 1 song in heaven - the song you hear 'if you should you die before you awake, if you should you die while crossing the street'. Just download it, then dance. It's just fabulous.

Lori and the Chameleons were a Liverpool-based oufit that were put together by erstwhile Echo and the Bunnymen manager Bill Drummond, with help from Teardrop Explodes' keyboard player Dave Balfe. The song features a brilliant voice-over (to a fictional Japanese boy called Cato, for Pete's sake!) by Lori, who is trying really hard to lose her Scouse twang to sound posh, but failing dismally. It's clearly about a holiday romance ('Oh Cato, will I ever see you again?'). There's some superb cod-Japanese keyboard and guitar in the middle eight, which never fails to crack me up. It's kitsch and silly and a bit daft, but in a word: sound.

Pop Muzik is a song that I have loved for that long, I can't recall a time when it didn't feature in my life somewhere (well, prior to 1979 it didn't feature, but I can't remember much of my early years on this planet anymore). When you drop the needle onto the vinyl, it truly glitters...and in common with the other two songs here, has been over-produced within an inch of its life. Which is always a good thing. Any song with the lyric 'Mix me a Molotov, I'm on the headline' has to be alright, doesn't it?

Let me leave you with these words, see if they don't make you feel fantastic: 'Infiltrate it, activate it...New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody's talking 'bout pop muzik...'

Thursday, July 27, 2006

R u still in 2 it

Soundtrack: Mogwai

Yesterday evening I realised that it was about time I snapped out of my funk and sorted myself out. The last couple of weeks have been tough and kinda disappointing, but I'm putting them behind me. So there.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Check out my new Jesus

Soundtrack: Joy Zipper

A thoroughly down weekend. Both me and JJ were lacking energy to achieve anything. As such, nothing was achieved. The precious summer weekends are slipping away rapidly and I fear that there will be little to show for them if we don't get our act together. However, this feeling appears to be widespread: lots of people at work also seem to have this faintly disgruntled air about them.

Not that that is much of a departure from the usual feeling.

I spent an hour at the allotment last night, quietly watering plants. It was very peaceful, and just what I needed. I also took the red onions out of the earth to dry off. As long as we remember to put them in the shed before we have thunderstorms this week, we should be fine.

If only everything in life was as simple as gardening.

Monday, July 17, 2006

And I try, I try, I try...

Soundtrack: Soul Train by Swann's Way

The above track was a song that I loved when I was younger. I'm currently listening to the 12" version, which has a load of free-jazz sax tootling on it. I don't recall that from the original chart version...then again, I was about 10 when it was released, so it's possible that I had blanked the jazz bits out of my mind.

Swann's Way eventually became Scarlet Fantastic, who were one of Stock Aitken and Waterman's early acts. 'We dream of deserts, and fast motorbikes, uh-huh-huh!'

Enough of that. We had a very nice weekend, thanks very much. I've been working hard on various things - we spent a fruitful couple of hours at the allotment digging up spuds and suchlike, as well as looking in astonishment at how rapidly our squashes and pumpkins are coming to life. I've also been working on extracting myself from my current employ again. Fingers crossed, everybody, please.

Over to the wilds of Saarf London yesterday to spend time with Simply the Wests and the Rhyming Couple, and their delightful children, of course. Baby R thought that my trick of pretending to eat his arms like corn on the cob was the funniest thing in the world, which goes to show a bit of fake cannibalism doesn't do a youngster any harm. I suppose I'll be finding this less amusing when I get the bill for his psychotherapy in a few years' time.

Appropos of Tablegate (see a couple of entries below), things have neither improved or gotten worse. Apart from, the more I think about it, the more I realise that this was going to happen sometime. The circumstances might well have been different, but the net result (misery and much being sent to Coventry) would have been the same.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm not searching for these changes

Soundtrack: Swervedriver

The other evening I went out to a halfway decent boozer in Kingston for a drink or two with some old pals, and very jolly it was too. The Herrietts were out, as were Jim, Mr Partner and Ms Hignett. Mr Tecchia even came up from Worthing for the occasion. The topics of conversation veered from the fake Chas 'n' Dave, to roadside Smiley-face speed indicators, to minature pints of lager, to the pointlessness of un-branded drink mixer swizzle-sticks.

I managed not to mention the recent events en famille to the assembled throng. I see these folk too irregularly to regale them with that sort of thing.

The following passage is from an email from Mr Herriett regarding the topic of celebrity-spotting, which raised a smile earlier this week.

'About 12 years ago when travelling home from Gay Pride (I am neither gay nor proud so I was curious to see how these things work) I spotted Adam Faith walking along and like Mr Hasting felt it necessary to use the traditional Essex greeting, so shouted ‘Oi Budgie’ out of the car window. Unfortunately the 60’s heart throb never recovered from the shock of the brief and brash meeting and keeled over and died a few days later.

Whilst I’m not proud of this it has to be said that killing celebrities is a bit more extreme than just spotting them and I can’t wait for the day I cross paths with Axl Rose, you think we have problems with global warming now – wait til he is burning in hell.'

Amen to that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present

Soundtrack: Poses by Rufus Wainwright

Life goes from good to confusing in 24 hours flat, like it frequently does.

This weekend started well with a flying visit to Brighton (apols to you Brightoneers for not getting in touch), some lunch with Francakes at her flat in the Lanes and some excellent shopping. Nowhere else in the UK (apart from Totnes, perhaps) have I ever seen a health food shop so mobbed. There's something about that town. I do love it there, but it always seems to be bursting to the seams with men in their early 30s barking into mobiles and wearing ironic 1980s T-shirts. If I wanted that, I'd go to Shoreditch.

By contrast, Sunday unfolded itself like a veritable venus flytrap. A family feud has started over, I shit you not, a pine dining table and chairs. Well, that was the start of it - it snowballed into a furious argument via, I shit you not (x2), text message.

The upshort of the long story is this: two of my most hot-headed siblings (Numbers 2 and 4) are not speaking. My Mother and Nephew Number 1 are also right slap bang at the centre of it all. Some terrible things that can never be taken back have been said. I'm trying to stay out of it (as are Sisters Number 1 and 3), but it's difficult when you are receiving insane texts from one party every three hours, which veer between being venomous and pitiful. I've begun to refer to the incident as 'Tablegate', in a vain and flippant attempt to pretend that it's funny.

At the age of about eight, I realised that the country life wasn't for me. On hearing a West Country drawl coming out of a tape recorder for a primary school project, I made a conscious decision to get rid of the accent and give myself a chance of getting free of the place. All I had to do was sit out school and figure out how to get away. I'm aware that this is going to make me sound like a horrendous snob - so be it. Well, I did it. I have no more interest regarding living in Devon now than I did then.

Recent events remind me why I made that decision at such a tender age. This is the most recent in a catalogue of disputes that I've been dragged into at long-distance over the past fifteen years or so. I love my family, but as I get older, I find this sort of thing unnecessary, and not a little distressing. The sad thing is that everybody gets hurt, even the people on the periphery.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I'm only passing time

Soundtrack: 12"/80s/2/Disc 2

I dedicate this blog entry to the German world cup squad: those hard-working chaps who tried so hard to defend themselves this week against the flash and glamour boys, the Azzurris. They failed, but they failed heroically.

I never thought I'd ever hear myself eulogising about the German national soccer side, but there's a first time for everything. I suppose I'm still finding it hard to have anything good to say about the England team (apart from boring boring Owen Hargreaves, a man who has gone from zero to hero, in my estimation).

Longing for some excitement in my life. It's been months since I last went to a gig and I'm beginning to feel a bit like a hermit.

From a song I've been listening to a lot recently:

'Do you look a mess? Do you have a hangover? Did you overdo the lemonade, cut short on the soda? Did you do that dance the doctor told you that you shouldn't do?

I'm waiting for something, I'm only passing time...'