Monday, 31 December 2007

The creme de la creme

So, on the last day of 2007, here's my liddle ole list to add to the many. Mine is a simple rundown of my favourite 20 tracks. The tracks I would hit repeat on, just because to hear them once is never enough. I may have more by the same artist (Roisin has a whole album of favourites to choose from for example), but to be more various, I've given them one chance to impress. A couple of notable absentees are Robyn - fab songs, too old blah blah - and Kylie - just couldn't get the X factor baby.

1. Double Je - Christophe Willem (zShare)
The boy I thought was a girl was my summer chanson. Lying on the beach in France, my radio tuned into NRJ, this song was played non-stop. And when the singer in residence at Le Bar Six in Nice sang it just for me, that was it. Hooked. Line and sinker. I love the first line where he says his voice sounds just like the Bee Gees (just in case anyone in France living under a stone hadn't heard of him).

2. Call the Shots - Girls Aloud (zShare)
Superfluous to superlatives, except to say I'd always humoured Girls Aloud but after hearing this killer track, and the rest of the album Tangled Up, I became a convert. I am the gay stereotype. When I want to be. But it's a pity I've cursed them now. It seems they'll be going their seperate ways next year.

3. My Great Regret - The Millioners (zShare)
Back in May, I wrote about this lush Lorraine-sounding song. But The Millioners have a sound all their own. The fact that half their tracks are dance instrumentals belies the fact that the lyrics are very narrative and very pop. Another act for Xenomania (as popjustice are wont to say) when GA are no more.

4. Overpowered - Roisin Murphy (zShare)
This was the first track I'd heard from the album of the same name and it heralded a new, previously unheard Roisin Murphy. I'm a sucker for synths and anodine lyrics, so this sleek electro track ticked every box. XO's Middle Eight gave her the Big Ass Pop Star for 2007 Award and he describes the Roe-sheen phenomenon perfectly. And my pop image of the year goes to our Roe freaking Hoxton's Joe Public (esp. that woman holding the water bottle on the right) with her daywear.

5. First Class Riot - The Tough Alliance (zShare)
In April, I wrote about this lovely Swedish duo thoroughly taken with their JoBoxer Beat sound on this marvelous single. And the lead singer ain't half bad too! Phew.

6. Redeem Me - Marc Almond (zShare)
My idol (yes! He really is) bounced back from near tragedy, to produce this corking brand new song written with Marius de Vries. Without bitterness or regret he sings of the man he used to be and always will be. The perfect song every 50 year old performer wished they had written. Probably.

7. Get Around To It - Tracey Thorn (zShare)
This slinky tune is my favourite from her magnificent Out of the Woods album.

8. Undisco Me - Billie Ray Martin (zShare)
A somewhat patchy output from La Ray Martin means that we get monolithic dance tracks like this and then... no more. Come back, Billie!

9. Hometown Glory - Adele (zShare)
Adele is garnering comparisons with every female singer past and present. But with the bravura new single Chasing Pavements, let's just say she's the first and ONLY Adele. This is the track that got me onto the gorgeous Brixton lass.

10. Uptown - Pleasure (zShare)
Fred Ball's second album, Pleasure II comes close to the top of my albums of the year. And his band should have been MUCH bigger in the UK this year.

11. Money - Daggers (zShare)
I want big things to happen with this Manchester band in 2008. Fingers crossed.

12. The Girls Say - Groove Armada (zShare)
Groove Armada surprised everyone with their album Souyndboy Rock: every track a killer. My favourite tracks switch from Lightsonic, Paris, Drop That Thing and Love Sweet Sound to this one. I described it as a hip-hop Human League, but listening again, it could be an electro Outkast. Take your pick.

13. Rock D'Amour - Emmon (zShare)
Emmon knocks around with The Knife and Robyn. If she produces more of this sumptuous, lush and chunky dance sound in 2008 she could be major. Oh. Go on, Emmon!

14. Hanging On - Marsheaux (zShare)
The Greek duo seem to be building a Robyn-like momentum, so expect their album Peek-a-Boo to get a UK re-release in 2009! This was the lead-off single. Glossy, glamorous and Euro-edgy.

15. Void - The Mary Onettes (zShare)
As the segue from summer to autumn, The Mary Onettes provided the perfect soundtrack. Like an urgent-sounding Echo and the Bunnymen round a bonfire they warmed my cockles!

16. Boy Ain't Right - Readers Wifes (zShare)
Here's a potted history of the Readers Wifes (sic). This very British, St Etienne-type track is the best from a great album called Gaslight.

17. Ghosts - Siobahn Donaghy (zShare)
As an introduction to the album of the same name, this backwards vocal atmospheric track was as different as it was retro with lashings of originality and shavings of Kate Bush (!). Apparently she's going to re-promote the album in 2008, as soon as she's got that bloody mistake, Rent out of the way.

18. Secret Sunday Lover - Ali Love (zShare)
Unfortunately, Calvin Harris got all the attention this year, putting Ali in the shade. 'Tis a pity because he's a million times better.

19. Uninvited - Freemasons feat. Bailey Tzuke (zShare)
The Freemasons kept many a diva afloat this year with their super chart-friendly remixes. And this was a welcome self-penned, self-produced track which lit up late summer.

20. The Ghost of Genova Heights - Stars (zShare)
In the abscence of any new material by Captain, the Canadian Stars more than filled the gap!

Image of 2007: NYC by Tricky

Into the Galaxy - Midnight Juggernauts (my original post titled Nice Juggs gets loads of hits. Wonder why.)

Wow - Kylie (there she is!)

Better In Time - Leona Lewis (ten times better than the first single)

A Modern Midnight Conversation - The Chemical Brothers (my favourite from a brilliant album)

Can't Get Over - September (you can sing Call the Shots over this. Fact!)

Change - Sugababes (sublime).

Friday, 28 December 2007

Blink and you will miss it!

Electrovamp are getting the attention they need to make this a big fat hit. But I hope they're not a flash in the pan and that the next single doesn't sound like this fresh debut re-fried. I don't want to rain on the parade or anything, but it's always a danger with catchy 'novelty' sounding tracks. They're a couple of brand new characters, just what the clubs and the charts need at the beginning of another year. Bon chance, girls!

I Don't Like The Vibe In The VIP (Jack Rokka Club Mix) - Electrovamp (zShare)

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Balls to Christmas

Not really! But these are my lovely baubles hanging at the window. I'm off to my mother's for Christmas today and there's no internet connection. Shock, horror! But that's a good thing actually.

It leaves me one more chance to give upload one more Christmas song. In fact it's a trio! My favourite festive players, The Hollyridge Strings, performing 3 classics in their own camp way.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Hollyridge Strings (zShare)

Santa's Got a Brand New Bag - The Hollyridge Strings (zShare)

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - The Hollyridge Strings

I may get a chance to do a wee post on Christmas Day, but until then, from me and The Rockettes from my tree, let me wish all of you a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

worrapolava xxx

Can't speak, I've got snow in me gob

Can't Speak French - Girls Aloud, Friday Night Xmas Project, Channel 4, Dec 2007
Why does TV insist on using that polystyrene fake snow. It looks shit and it's near choking the poor Girls Aloud as they perform Can't Speak French. Clever Cheryl, though, hides the Alps forming on her lip gloss with the mike. After a shaky start by Nadine - it's too low, love - they get into their stride. And the blokes are a bit tasty too.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Christmas time, Girls Aloud and wine...

Those darling Girls Aloud have just been the guest hosts of Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, and vare funny they were too. Being good sports they dressed up and fooled around, like this nativity scene above singing A Gay in a Manger with Alan Carr (the poove in the manger) and Justin Lee Collins. And until the clips appear on YouTube, who knew Nicola was so ballsy and good at the goofy acting malarky. Sarah Hard-on (as Alan kept calling her) had a few too many Chardonnays, but she's a happy drunk, so that's OK. Cheryl was sweet as cheryl pie. Kimberley's voice is getting lower and lower. And I still can't understand a word Nadine says.

P.S. they did a fab choreographed version of Can't Speak French. The new single methinks.

Christmas Selection Box

That's it! Work done. Finished. And relax. Well, until you're wherever you're going to for Christmas. I'm off back home to Newcastle, yes folks. I'm one of them there Geordies complete with accent. I left work early and came through Chelsea which was heaving with office parties spilling out of pubs and posh old women, all fur coat and no knickers, poking their way down Kings Road. Anyhoo, here's a few small stocking fillers for today.


Bitchslapped for Christmas. Season's Greetings from EastEnders.

Yawnzzzz. Crap characters no one could give a fig for. Bring back Den 'n' Ang (from the dead of course).


It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas - Pet Shop Boys,
TFI Friday, C4, Dec 2000

Ropey vocals from Neil. I think it's too high, love! This is from that Chris Evans show but Dame Elton introduces the Boys. Oh, he is funny with his quick one-liners. And see Chris Lowe dressed as Wizzard.


Gawd! Ain't they ugly!

Mine and La Corgan's paths never really crossed when they were populaire. I was too into dance music and they were a million miles away on some faux goth planet. But the meeting of minds came when I heard this a couple of years ago. It's bloody lovely! Here's today's Christmas song for ya!
Christmastime - Smashing Pumpkins (zShare)

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Kiki and Herb stick it in the Shepherd's Bush for Christmas

Kiki and Herb: Stick a Yule Log in the Shepherd's Bush, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, December 19th 2007

Have you ever seen that naff horror film Black Christmas? Not the 2006 remake but the 70s original. The paper-thin plot sees a group of sorority sisters staying together for Christmas being terrorised by nasty phone calls. A housemate goes missing and then they all start getting brutally murdered one by one... This movie crossed my mind several times during Kiki and Herb's deranged show at Shepherd's Bush Empire last night.

The beautifully insane Kiki DuRane and her 'Jewtard' accompanist, Herb E began suitably with My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade and maniacal medley of Nina Simone's Sinner Man and Kanye's Stronger. Using the nativity as their theme, went on to explain how she and Herb were actually born Naomi and Ishkabibble in the Middle East, in 12B.C. In fact, Kiki (nee Naomi) went on to become the first lover of Jesus Christ - in serious competition with that 'bitch' Mary Magdelene. They were here to tell the tale because they had drunk milk from the cow in Jesus' manger which had elixir-type qualities. And in her everlasting lifetime, a highlight was becoming a lover of Adolf Hitler, until he lost it, became bitter, twisted and Jew-hating through only having one ball.

This black and blasphemous theme was at the core of the show. Tori Amos' Crucify popped up as did a soul-ripping chorus of Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumours. But despite the shrugged indifference to any mention real emotion, Kiki does actually have a heart. Getting lost in the alcoholic monologue rants, she wails over the modern troubles of the world which rest heavy on her wizened bony shoulders.

In the second half of the show, we're back with the baby Jesus and talking about child murders. Gulp. JonBenet Ramsey apparently "knew too much". You could "see it in her eyes" and comparing her to "that other one, whasername?" (Britian, don't read this) Madeline McCann, or "McCacacaca" as she put it. Gasp. The fact that the audience accepts these knive-edge monologues is testament to Kiki and Herb's act. No one either does it, nor does it as well. A story about Herb being gang-raped in a mental institution is at once tragic "he was screaming for me in his death throes", comic "outside the infirmary, his little hiney hole itched and twitched" and neo-religious "and the one set of footprints behind him was because they were mine as I CARRIED HIM!".

This was a pivotal show for the pair. The place was packed to the rafters with a crowd who has loved and grown with them who cheered the old K&H favourites which were mixed with the new. But where to now? The homorati were out in force, as were their girlfriends, who it seemed were being introduced to K&H by their GBFs. The Feeling's Dan was there (is he stalking me?) as was Pam Ann. The straight-ish celebs were represented by a beany-hatted (to disguise those giveaway corkscrew curls) Alan 'Jonathan Creek' Davies (argh! Don't bite me!) and the teeny Daniel Radcliffe.

Interesting factoid, Harry Potter is a HUGE Kiki and Herb fan. And what a lovely young man he is! My friend knew his friend, blah, blah and after introducing himself with a shouty "I'm Dan!" he went on to say he plays their double Carnegie Hall concert CD all the time. When I told him I had been there at the 2004 'farewell' show his jaw hit the floor. Expect to see him at the series of Washington shows next March then.

Anyhoo, in 2000, the pair released a Christmas CD, Do You Hear What We Hear? , which contained the folowing two tracks which make up today's Christmas song offerings:
Fox in the Snow/Holiday - Kiki and Herb (zShare)

Frosty the Snowman - Kiki and Herb (zShare)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Last Christmas (version 217 and counting)

Whoa! Go easy on Rudolph there, George-ous!

With their chunky knits and chunkier hair George-ous Michael and Andrew Ridgely were on course to top the UK charts in December 1984 as the cherry on the cake to their fab year. And then along came Band Aid. Last Christmas was kept off number 1 and has never bothered the top since. But bloody hell, it's never stopped selling. There's a lot of kerchinging every day when it's played a million times and downloaded like buggery around the world.

And the universal obsession doesn't stop there. This brilliant site, called, funnily enough, has painstakingly and lovingly put together as many cover versions of Wham!'s festive favourite. Think of a genre and it's covered. They've even started a list of artists who HAVEN'T done it.

Come Boxing Day, I start listening to the original b-side Everything Thing She Wants.


Today's Christmas song comes courtesy of and in keeping with the theme, there are more than one...

Last Christmas - Britt Nicole
(zShare) - she's Christian Rock, apparently, but hey ho, it's actually a very listenable sub-Kelly Clarkson!

Last Christmas - Mon)tag (zShare) - a creatively different electro/folk thing.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A Christmas Message from The Queen

Please be standing. His Royal Sleazeness, Marc Almond has a Christmas message for the whole land on his brand spanking new site: clicky here for a looksee. Go to the NEWS section (dated 15th December) for his festive best wishes and round-up of what has been a tremendous and milestone year for him. That dreadful accident left him virtually for dead. It was awful. But 2007 has seen him ever more productive and creative. The results of which were the amazing Stardom Road album, the hugely memorable 50th (!) birthday concert in London, the sold out UK tour and a myriad of high profile guest appearances all over the shop.

Of his first tentative shows this year at Wilton's Music Hall in London he says: "Wilton's is a special, atmospheric place; a London Jewel under threat. It feels like a performing home to me and I hope to return there regularly." And his momentous birthday concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire I reported here: "It was a brilliant evening that I shall never forget, one of my best ever shows. It was a milestone day, my 50th birthday, and the fact that I was alive to celebrate it made it more special."

I think I'm going to cry.


Today's Christmas song isn't a Eurovision special but a George Harrison 70s chug-along. It's like that record the whole pub sing along to in Educating Rita: it sounds familiar but was never really a hit. Written for his 1974 album, Dark Horse, like a lot of George's stuff, it's infectiously catchy. Marv.

Ding Dong, Ding Dong - George Harrison

Monday, 17 December 2007

Leona last year, Leon this year... who will it be next year? Leo?

Bugger the cod operatics of Rhydian. This was the better version on the night, and outside the competition it stands up. Leon has a voice that sounds GREAT on the radio. Hearing his single floating from a shop's tinny transistor on Sunday afternoon, it was as if he had been doing it for longer than the duration of X Factor. And I loves da cheesey song.

Rhydian's version would've sounded awful on the radio: the mannered style is like Marmite, you love or hate it and I can't stand it. But he's a trained singer after all (as he repeatedly told us in the "Pick me! Pick me!" rounds) and will no doubt go on to have a career as a sucessful West End Wendy.

And Leon, the cut-price Michael Buble, will be whisked off to pop star boot camp for a year, given proper vocal coaching and requisite brain washing and come back on next year's X Factor all-conquering. And his people will have only one mantra in their heads: "But would Leona Lewis do it?".


Today's Christmas song is an hilarious queer romp courtesy of Retro Wonderland. Pansy Division were formed in 1991 with the full intention of being a properly gay band. With a name like that, how could you be anything but? Jon Ginoli, the founding singer, guitarist says: “Instead of being depressed about it, we tried to make music that would make us—and our audience—happy. We could laugh about it, so we put that joy into the music.”

And the funniest, splutter-the-mulled-wine-all-over-yer-mum on hearing it is "Licking nipples, licking nuts, sticking candy canes up our butts". Bona!

Homo Christmas - Pansy Division (zShare)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Adorabubble Adele

Adele just keeps getting better and better. I was so struck by the gorgeous Hometown Glory single back in September I had fingers crossed that it wasn't a fluke. The latest, Chasing Pavements is a beefy, string-laden heart stopper and proof that the excellent debut wasn't a fluke. The album, 19, because that's how old she is, is due out in January. Looky here for more info.

She's already 'doing a Mika' and topping everyone's tip for 2008 lists so I make no apologies in sticking the Brixton singer/songwriter at the top of mine.

Chasing Pavements - Adele


From their 1993 E.P. Snow, here's today's Christmas song by the gorgeous Cocteau Twins. They manage to take a cheesy genre and uncheese it into something all their own. Liz Fraser and the boys were unique; they never did, and never have since, sounded like ANYONE else.

Winter Wonderland - The Cocteau Twins (zShare)

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Smash Hits! Happy Christmas from the stars!

It's December 1982 and Neil Tennant has another brainy idea for the glam and glossy pop mag Smash Hits. "Hey, why don't we gather every pop star in the land and get them to record a Christmas greeting for Britain's kidz? It's cool, it's happening, it's flexi-disc, it's NOW!". And so, at a pretendy Christmas party, Mark Ellen pretends to be in the same room as a myriad of 80s pop stars. Stitched together with party sound effects, the popsters try to be funny, try to be a bit Scrooge, try to be pretendy pissed, actually ARE pissed or are just rubbish.

The full listing reads like a Top of the Pops who's who, or in the case of The Piranhas, 'who?'. In alphabetical order: ABBA, ABC, Adam Ant, Bananrama, Boy George, Bucks Fizz, Captain Sensible, Duran Duran, Fun Boy Three, Haircut 100, Imagination, Madness, Mari Wilson, Musical Youth, Paul Weller, Police, Steve Strange, Toyah and Midge Ure.

The flexidisc was given away free ('sniiiiiippppp'!) with Smash Hits, and in a venture ahead of its time, the whole jape was sponsored by Black Levis (then a trendy new type of Levis at the time!) who have three (quite funny) ads about a Santa finishing school. My copy is a bit scratched, (a bit!) but I gave it a spit and wiped it on the curtains, so hopefully it's a little better. There are both sides of the 7-inch flexi together as one mp3 which comes in at about 12 mins...

So sit back, flip off your wig and enjoy:

HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM THE STARS from Smash Hits, December 1982 (zShare mp3 download)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

'Ave it!

'Ave yourself a merry little Christmas, me dears. Today's festive choice, a cover originally made famous by Dame Judy of Garland, comes courtesy of Hem, the New York "countrypolitans" (what an odd word). Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas started off as a bit of a grim tune. In the film Meet Me in St Louis, Judy's character is singing it to her lil' sis to placate her after she got all upset about the whole family having to up sticks from St Louis to New York. In context with the narrative, the original words go: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last" [in our St Louis home], but the Hollywood Execs thought it too morbid, as if Margaret O'Brien, (lil' sis) was dying, so they had the whole thing changed to: "Let your heart be light".

It's terrr-oo!

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Hem (zShare)

And watch out for a very special post tomorrow. It's a night of a thousand 80s pop stars at Christmas, together on ONE DOWNLOAD. And I'm NOT talking Band Aid 1 or 2...

Here's a clue.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

They're back, back, BACK!

S'OK boys, don't get up...

All that disappearing and stuff, Lorraine, have slunk back into view shrugging their shoulders like what was all the fuss about. But we were worried... OK? XO's Middle Eight reported a month back of their plans for a 'new' single and general business of the band. Saved is out now on iTunes and here's the second carriage of the Lorraine parade: Digital Spy have a neat little interview with singer Ole Gunderson. In it he puzzles over questions about changing labels: "I think the setup is pretty much the same, even if it says something else on the record." and talks about the forthcoming album Euphoria, "Euphoria - sounds of love and happiness. We've written lots of great songs - some uptempo ones, some ballads. There's stuff people will have heard from concerts, and some stuff that's totally new, but to me it all sounds like euphoria."

Here's something to be chewing on until said album appears: a chunky little electro mix of Heaven...
Heaven (Sébastien Léger Electro Dub Mix) - Lorraine (zShare)


And today's Christmas song is a right old hippy affair in keeping with the 70s 'medieval revival'. The BBC purloined this Mike Oldfield ditty (originally a Christmas hit in 1975) for the background to its Christmas TV schedule in the 80s and In Dulci Jubilo has the remarkable ability to SMELL like patchouli oil as you listen. Think tangerines though and it'll be dead Christmassy instead.

In Dulci Jubilo - Mike Oldfield (zShare)

Is it just me?

Or will St Trinian's turn out to be a bizarre...

...remake that kind of works or a...

...Rupert Everett blessed turkey which is...

...a weird old bag o' shite.

Girls Aloud
seem to have been pushed to the front of the red carpet meleé. But the song isn't doing them any favours! Sozz Girls.

Monday, 10 December 2007

I wish I had a river...

Todays Christmas song is a classic. Apparently. I'd never heard it before until last year when I went to see Christmas in New York a gorgeous revue show produced by West End stars in a theatre loaned to them on a Sunday evening. This year, the second production went down just as well. Here, the Director Paul Spicer, a right West End Wendy, enthuses about his little baby.

I missed it this year, but am thankful I saw the show last December, if only to hear this beautiful Joni Mitchell number for the first time. The lonely piano and regretful lyrics brought a tear to my eye. Or maybe that was just the red wine.

The River - Joni Mitchell

Sunday, 9 December 2007

My all-time Christmas favourite

I make no excuses. Todays Christmas song deserves a post all its own. I vaguely remember the singer, Kay Starr, popping up on TV with her pencilled-in eyebrows in the 70s. Probably daytime. Probably Pebble Mill at One. But I first heard heard this a few years ago on the fabulous Ultra Lounge compilation, Christmas Cocktails and have loved it ever since. It's naughty, brassy and Christmassy. A giddy combo. Have a looksee here at iTunes.

(Everybody's Waiting For) The Man With the Bag - Kay Starr (zShare)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Rufus the cover star

Rufus as the surprising cover star of (the not gay) Esquire UK January edition. This is the subscriber's edition. Wot, no coverlines? Go here to see the witty news stand version.

His thoughts on pop music after discussing the craft with Neil Tennant: "I think a lot of pop music is based on foundations that have already been built... they're all very strong, whether it's disco or R&B or whatever. But it's like building a ruin on a ruin. There's no height to it".

On the current tour with his his unfeasibly large band: "I'm taking a tremendous loss. Which is fine. It's very old school. It's my Ziggy Stardust tour! Thank god I have the ability to do solo shows to make up the difference". Interestingly enough, he has learned about adapting shows to suit overheads from his parents: "They were very popular then disco came in and it was like the plague. They had to survive. They had to downsize quickly and fast... and successfully"

The whole piece is a bit bland for a cover feature. Maybe THAT'S the shocking revelation after all the jaw-on-floor press he's done this year: Rufus can be mainstream and ordinary.

Todays Christmas song comes courtesy of La Rufus. A bittersweet little number.
Spotlight on Christmas - Rufus Wainwright (zShare)

See things you thought you'd never ever see...

The Human League @ Hammersmith Apollo, London, Dec 1st 2007

My friend texted me just as I arrived at the Hammersmith Apollo last Saturday night for the Human League gig: "We're in the upstairs bar and it's full of old farts". Nice. I thought. Stands to reason though. The League have been going in various formats for 30 years and in recognition of the feat, the breakthrough album Dare! from 26 years ago was performed in its entirety, in track order. That's a lot of time passed if you were a spotty 12 year old like me when it became the album of a generation. I wracked my brain to try to think of something to make this gig report 'current' but then realised there's no need. Dare!'s influence on pop music is so deep it's timeless. And it sounds just as fresh, glossy and glamorous as ever.

The Apollo was packed to the rafters and as the opening handclaps of The Things That Dreams Are Made Of began, the place went into uproar. Everyone danced like Jo and Susanne: dancing babies with hands flailing in the air. The image of Phil and the two girls either side is an iconic image and the set behind projected equally iconic images illustrating the clinical lyrics of Dare!.

Open Your Heart sounded monolithic tonight. It's sequenced pop was perfectly suited to a massive hall. And it it's always a pleasure to hear the line "Make a shroud pulling comb through a backwash frame/Find the copies in a carbon mount pass around" (!) from Sound of the Crowd sung live by the man himself. Darkness is apparently one of Phil's favourite League tracks as he said to eeveryone:"I've always loved that song and it's great to be able to perform it tonight".

Do or Die
, with its infectious latin rhythms, was followed by the bleak monophonic theme to the film Get Carter (a very Oakey idea for the album originally). The booming I Am the Law together with still excellent Seconds keeps up the bleak part of Dare! but then we're back into hands in the air. Love Action fulfills Oakey's 1981 wish for The Human League to be ABBA with synthesisers, and of course I always sing loudest at the "But this is Phil talking" line.

The climax of the first half, the 'button', was Don't You Want Me; the last track on the album. Put out as a single in time for Christmas 1981, it was not a popular choice as far as the band were concerned who thought three hit singles were more than enough. Of course it went on to become one of the biggest-selling singles EVER. "Shows you what we knew!" Jo Catherall said later in interviews. And the crowd tonight knew every word. Smiles and drinks aloft, especially when Susanne stepped up to sing her 'reply'.

The second half was a greatest hits extravaganza starting with The Lebanon ("And where there used to be some shops!" hahahaha) which sounded strangely uplifting. The rest of the Hysteria was ignored (no Life On Your Own or Louise, slight boo) but Mirror Man sounded lush, Human simply lovely and (Keep Feeling) Fascination as fresh as ever. The encore was Oakey's solo effort Together in Electric Dreams, now firmly entrenched in the Leagues canon. The whole hall seemed to be bouncing en masse, and even the stage intruder lifting poor Susanne and swinging her around seemed in keeping with the feel-good moment.

It was a truly special event, as equal in affection and warmth as Marc Almond's 50th birthday concert in July this year. Phil Oakey was outstanding. The voice and its lusty croon is intact and stronger than ever. Pitch perfect, he had a massive 'who knew' energy, running about the stage weaving in and out of the girls. And, of course, without the girls it wouldn't be The Human League.

Open Your Heart (Afront remix) - The Human League (zShare)

Fab live pics courtesy of DAVE KNIGHT via Electronically Yours (& Flickr)

Friday, 7 December 2007

Merry Christmas and a Happy New, oh, sh*t, b****cks! Can we go again?

B.D. (Before Digital) everything in TV land was recorded on tape. The department who would oversee every piece to camera, live feed or studio recording was known as VT. These TV geeks never saw the light of day holed up in their bunkers, but at Christmas they would entertain themselves, and everyone else in TV land with their compilation tapes of bloopers, parodies and general fuck-arounds. Where do you think the blooper show idea came from? Dennis Norden and his 5,037 It'll Be Alright on the Nights would never have happened if his producer hadn't been stuck for an idea whilst working at the BBC...

This BBC VT tape is from Christmas 1979 in the style of a evening rundown of shows for Christmas Eve. At 0:59, the clean-cut Sue Lawley shows just how foul-mouthed she really is.

Now in TV hell, the morning ITV franchise TV-am produced this slice of Christmas cock-uppery. Fuck. I sound like Dennis Norden now. Anyhoo, in this early 80s selection, at 3:40 Kid Creole pops up without his Coconuts and it's lovely to see him again.

Yorkshire TV, the ITV franchise for Yorkshire (obviously) uses it's biggest programme in 1977, the soap Emmerdale Farm, as the coat hook to hang these dodgy old clips from. Isn't Tom Baker a bad-tempered old sod! At 3:04 he's being all actor-y and c*ntish just like he is in the BBC VT tape above.

And finally, here's Julie Andrews in a VT collection of out-takes and bloopers from her US TV series, The Julie Andrews Hour which only lasted half a season in '72/'73. Of course we all know Julie swears like a navvy these days, but the crew on her show belly laughed at comments like "Big tits" at 4:20. And yes, doesn't "bastards" sound weird coming from the mouth of Mary Poppins.

Muchos Gracias to prisoner5 (!) on YouTube for uploading all the shizzle!


Todays Christmas song is my absolute favourite version of Rudolph. It's by Billy May (me neither) and every four mambo-type bars or so there's a little nugget of comedy. At 1:34 Carol Channing comes in like a drunken skunk with "Holly berries!". And at 2:06 "Kris Kringle!" ALWAYS makes me howl.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo - Billy May

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Pop stars with the seX Factor

A friend asked me today if I'd ever fancied Phil Oakey. Like, urgh! No way. His half-man, half woman look was too androgynous. And quite threatening, like the Robert Mapplethorpe of the man with the bullwhip up his arse. Oh, go on then, clicky here. Nah. Never. Fancied. Him.

Now, David Essex on the other hand. Totally non-threatening. Those puppy dog eyes, that soft voice. How cute?!!

How cuter??!!!

Heaven help me, I even got the cod reggae and general dick-headness out of my brain to fancy, shhh, Sting.

Predictably, these days, Shayney gets my USB stick all hot and bothered...

And I just wish it had been my toggle A-list indie kid Surfjan Stevens had blown into instead of Santa's...

The list is endless of pop stars we'd all like to boff. And that's exactly why most of them are around. Which makes me wonder what the future holds when this is the future...

*Does a lumpy little sick into the back of throat*


Today's Christmas song is the very 1982-sounding A Winter's Tale by the aforementioned David Essex. Now to an awkward bolshy teenager like myself, this Mike Batt composed song (yes! I know! Kate 'bloody' Melanoma), would have me groaning loudly when it came on TOTP in that attention-seeking way: "Ugh! This is shit". But we all know that secretly I was thinking: "I actually quite like this". Here's the guilty pleasure in mp3 form below...

A Winter's Tale - David Essex

BTW, this is David Essex these days:

Er. Bless.