Sunday, 30 September 2007

Doing the Doodoo

I saw this the other day and couldn't quite work out who it was. It's a recognisable dance track so it could have been Luciana from the Bodyrox single. But on closer inspection, wasn't it actually, erm, Betty Boo?

Bless her for thinking it's still 1989: the look, the speeded up cartoon wiggling, the blow-up doll sexiness. I love this track.

To 37 year old Alison Clarkson this must be a welcome change. Being back in the limelight must be fab. But if I had earned the reported £23 million from Hear'say's Pure and Simple, I'd just retire.

Giving me Daggers

This mean looking lot are Daggers, from Manchester. Before you read any more, quickly nip over to their MySpace and listen to Money.

Fab isn't it? They've been ramraiding the 80s for clues as how to put a hi-gloss pop song together and all the elements are there: the earnest lead vocals, the girlie backing vocals, the catchy keyboard sequencers, the huge synth stabs and the bombastic chorus. But it's also like an amalgam of 80s bands that never should go together; Human League and The Cars; Simple Minds and Yazoo. And as a first single, it promises a future as bright as the Thompson Twins' dayglo fingerless gloves.

The double A side single, Money/Magazine (how 80s, who reads mags these days?) will be out on download on October 22nd.

But here's a great remix:

Money (Modernaire Remix) - Daggers
(mp3 Download)

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Another London song...

...and as I write, Hometown Glory has to be in the top ten. Adele, (here I could make the comparisons with her fellow young female chanteuse peers like Kate Nash, Amy MacDonald and Amy Whitehouse, but I won't. Doh! Already have), has penned a beautiful travelogue on the people, feelings and wonders of her London. It's the perfect antidote to Lily's grimy, LDN and Catatonia's acidic two-fingered salute, Londinium. And her voice is perfectly suited to the smoky, foggy feeling of the song - there are even touches of the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser towards the end.

Adele (no surname BTW) is another Brit School alumni (see also Wino, Nash, half of The Feeling and Katie Melua). What is it with that angst-ridden showbiz school? Unlike the Fame type scenes in the canteen with Bruno going mad on his synths and Leroy dancing on the tables in dayglo leggings, there's probably Amy strumming her guitar in a serious manner to a circle of pained-looking fellow pupils, holding hands and humming.

Hometown Glory
is out on October 22nd as a limited edition vinyl 7", and a debut album is being recorded now for XL Recordings (home to the White Stripes and Dizzee Rascal) so expect her to 'do a Nash' and go stellar before the year's out. She's got a pop star's stature - big hair, tiny body - so she'll fit easily into the firmament. But for the moment, she's still got her feet on the ground: that pic above, taken in her kitchen, looks suspiciously like she still lives at home with her mum. Bless.

Adele, performing Daydreamer on Later With Jools Holland via YouTube

Hometown Glory - Adele (mp3 Download)

Adele's MySpace

Monday, 24 September 2007

Where's the light switch?

Oh! There's one...

...and another...

...another switch, and...


Oh! Now you've just messed it up.

Disco 4
is out 8th October. I'll be buying the CD just to add to the collection, but really, I'm a bit disappointed that these tracks have been available on other releases down the years. Most of the tracks on the Disco 1-3 albums were at least, previously unheard.

Hey ho.

Here's a random b-side from some PSB CD or other which may or may not pop up on a future release. Probably not. But I likes it.

Silver Age - Pet Shop Boys
(mp3 Download)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Wot? No Boy George? No Scissor Sisters?

Details of the tracks featured on Kylie's forthcoming X album were released today. And the Scissors' White Diamond is nowhere to be seen. Boy George will also be disappointed to be left out of Camp Kylie, but, hey, them's the breaks.

"Marylin? The bee-atch said 'No!'. I tell ya, girl, that's us back on the cheap ciggies. Apparently there's some new kid on the block called Kelvin Harris. What? Rolf Harris' grandson... That explains it. Those Ozzies bloody well stick together. Harumph".

It's no surprise, really. White Diamond has been doing the rounds as a live version for a while now and George's contributions never sounded substantial enough. What is a surprise is that the Groove Armada tracks weren't included. After such a strong album with Soundboy Rock, any producer/songwriter role on X promised a lot. Kylie's loss is Roisin Murphy's gain - just wait until her album comes out and you'll see what I mean!

Groove Armada 1: "You fucked it up!"
Groove Armada 2: "How? We got the track down and she seemed really into it".
Groove Armada 1: "Yeah, but you don't let her see what you've scribbled on the CD cover! I ask you, 'Song 4 Short Arse'?!"

The listed contributors is a smorgasbord of European pop with stalwart Richard 'Biff' Stannard doing most of the studio shifts and Swedish meisters Bloodshy and Avant coming a close second. Eg White and Karen Poole, two names which crop up with regularity across 99% of UK pop (the other 1% being A. N. Other) will no doubt be interesting, but the ones to watch out for are newcomers Guy Chambers and Cathy Dennis.

There's some nonsense knocking around about X being named in tribute to Michael Hutchence who died ten years ago to the day (X = Roman numeral for 10, wake up at the back). Honestly, people will read anything into everything... Hmmm. X? Could it be that Kylie has in fact named the album in tribute to her alive sister Dannii, referencing her TV show X-Factor?

Whatever, I'm just sitting here countin' the days! But until then...

Word Is Out (Summer Breeze Mix) - Kylie (mp3 Download)

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

London's own Pied Piper of Fashion

London Fashion Week is half way through. The fashionistas have blisters on blisters criss-crossing town from one faaabulous show to another. But they all came scurrying to the National History Museum at the start for Gareth Pugh's fantastic show. I was told by one lucky audience member that the mice collar brought everyone to their feet in applause. Isn't fashion fab. Read Hilary Alexander's piece in the Telegraph (thanks for the header, love!)

As a tribute, here's his favourite muse Roisin with a the gloriously titled and suitably schizoid dub mix version of Overpowered.

Overpowered (Herve and Roisin in the Secret Garden Mix) - Roisin Murphy (mp3 Download)

And, shhh! Go here for a certain NEW single from Roisin...

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The music takes you round & round & round

Ooooh! News on Arjanwrites is that Seal and Stuart Price are working together. I'm immediately thinking the Eurodisco of Madonna's Confessions... mixed with Seal's first album. How fucking exciting and... at last! There's only so much salivating you can do over both the Kylie and the Roisin Murphy albums after months of build up. What we need is a good old-fashioned side-wipe of news that two musicians like Price and Seal, one bringing technical wizadry, the other bringing the emotional voice, have met and gotten on... "He loved the songs and I loved his production technique and we just took it from there", Seal said. The album is called System and is out in November.

It's preaching to the converted here when I declare Price's album for Madge, Confessions..., as one of her best. But Seal's 1991 debut, Seal (not to be confused with the 1994 album Seal) has been long-forgotten because of his stadium-rock pretensions thereafter. Seal appeared through a fug of dry ice somewhere at the beginning of the 90s on Adamski's Killer. And then came his solo effort: he went beyond the confines of the club stuff, produced a worldwide smash and it still sounded fab on E! It's just a pity his own comedown lasted 15 years...

But apparently Seal's returning to that uptempo dance style of his first album, something to do with his family. I think. In Lala Land speak: "I am finally in a content and happy place to the point where I feel like I need to sing about it. It's made me want to address things that are close to home". Well, whatever. I can't wait.

Future Love Paradise - Seal
(mp3 Download)

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The stars they are...

I had to flag this track because I can't stop playing it. The Ghost of Genova Heights with it's ethereal lyrics and beefy melodies remind me of Prefab Sprout and Captain - especially with the female vocal flitting in and out. This Canadian band Stars have a new album out in physical format called In the Bedroom After the War and you can get it here on iTunes. Check out the song The Night Starts Here which first got me interested. Just gorgeous.

The Ghost of Genova Heights - Stars (mp3 Download)

The true pop star

The Marc Bolan thing all happened and ended long before I even had an inkling that there was something called pop music. 30 years ago today, 16th September 1977, he died in a car crash. I can't even say that I'm taken with his music: I can't stand the pre-glam twiddlings of Tyrannosaurus Rex and am kind of interested in the hits as an historical reference. But the man himself and his huge influence on pop is fascinating.

Would glam rock and dressing like a Christmas tree have happened without him? Would David Bowie have parodied the whole thing to stunning effect as Ziggy Stardust without him? Would David Essex have made the brilliantly bad Stardust movie without him? And would Siouxsie Sioux have written her new song Into a Swan without him? I think not. At the time he seemed to be a different and brand new take on the pop star. But for most of us, years later, he is the epitome of a pop star, for several reasons:

1) He died young. Marc was only 29 when the Mini being driven by his girlfriend and former backing singer, Gloria Jones (who sang the original Tainted Love) came off the road in Barnes, south London, and hit a tree, now a shrine kept by devoted fans.

2) Like Madonna, Prince (sorry XO) and Kylie he was tiny. At only 5' 2" he was described by pop supremo, (Marc's first Manager and later Wham's Manager) Simon Napier-Bell as "a sort of pixie rock star".

3) His androgyny and sexual ambiguity gave a platform for gayers to become the pop stars of their generation. Boy George and Marc Almond were besotted. At a gig as a teenager, Almond says, "I was in awe, unable to comprehend that he was there in person, in front of me. He looked unhappy and swept past us knocking aside the posters we proffered for signing. [Another pop star moment if ever there was one] His famous corkscrew hair brushed past my face. I didn't care that we had been snubbed. I'd seen him up close and in the flesh".

Boy George's mum recognised Marc Bolan's influence in little George's life. Maybe it was the fact that, aged about nine, he would go to a friend's house for tea dressed in a long camel coat with his mum's 'wedding' hat bedecked with a long chiffon scarf. When she wanted to get him a school coat, a padded green Parka, she pleaded: "But Marc Bolan would wear it". George refused saying "Marc has better taste".

4) He was a drink and drugs monster. Like all good pop stars, the demon drink was a mainstay in Marc's early success. Tales of him consuming entire French vineyards' worth of champagne were mixed with stories of blizzards of coke. But later on, after the birth of his son Rolan, (Rolan Bolan? Zowie Bowie? Poor kids), he gave up alchohol altogether. As a forerunner to today's equivalent of rehab he needed to get back into shape for the rigours of fatherhood and a career comeback. He lost a ton of weight simply by giving up brandy. He said: "If I'd known that I wouldn't have wasted thousands of pounds on health farms".

He was cocksure of himself. Upon first meeting Simon Napier-Bell, he said (and do this in a Star Stories kind of voice): "I'm a singer and I'm going to be the biggest British rock star ever".

6) And finally, he was ruthlessly determined to make it. He would have shagged the devil if need be. Again, Simon Napier-Bell (with whom he actually did do the dirty as a way of getting him to be his manager) recalls after rejections from every record label in London: "Marc was deflated. He went deathly white and said 'OK, what do I have to do? I'll do whatever they want and whatever you tell me'. I was surprised. Where had the uncompromising artist gone? 'I don't want you to blow it with all this art crap. I wanna be a star'. He was tight-lipped and serious and as he said the word 'star' he smashed his fist on the table. Then he ran to the toilet and I heard him vomitting".

No. It's not Robert Smith...

If I had a favourite track, it would have to be Life's a Gas. In the 80s I had a teenage fixation on the sixties/seventies version of Cilla Black. On her TV show she would duet with the pop star of the day; the most incongruous of which had to be Marc Bolan. In hindsight, with his mainstream aspirations, it's actually a perfect pairing and this is the track they performed.

Life's a Gas - T-Rex
(mp3 Download)

Life's a Gas - Marc Bolan & Cilla Black (mp3 Download)

Marc Bolan interviewed by Russell Harty

"I feel I do what I do for people who wanna listen, for those who don't wanna listen, crap 'em, I don't care"

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

On the season's edge...

As everyone clings to the hope that the warmish days mean summer's still here, the chill in the air at night and the fact that it's pitch black by tea-time means autumn's scraping on the door like Freddie Krueger... Give up the ghost, people. I saw my first tree devoid of all its leaves today: a circle of brown leaves on the floor made the poor thing look like its skirt had dropped.

With the change in the season comes a change in the sound of new music. Through the wonders of (Hey You) What's That Sound?, I've discovered The Mary Onettes, (love the name!). My, oh, my... they're amazing. Where to begin? The emotional sweeping melodies, the sparse Joy Division tinges and the mixture of retro and modern like hearing the Stone Roses for the first time... Hailing from Sweden, it would be easy to talk about the magpie effect; a bit of New Order here, The Byrds there and a pinch of Echo and the Bunnymen but like their fellow Scandanavians, Lorraine (where ARE they?) The Mary Onettes have created their own sound.

And I fucking love it.

Their eponymous album, Mary Onettes, has been out for a few months (how Joy Division is that cover?) but now is the time. The track below is my favourite and cuts through bonfire smoke like a knife!

The Mary Onettes - Void (mp3 Download)

And the next song is the one that got me going...

The Mary Onettes - Lost (mp3 Download)

And go here for the gorgeous Pleasure Songs video


If only the farmer knew of the wanton vandalism

(name, blurgh, band yay!)
I couldn't imagine this band doing the summer festival circuit just yet... With a very autumnal feel, their forthcoming single, You & Me is out at the end of September. I heard this the other day and instantly thought of a steamy pub dancing around an overcoat mountain. But you could easily imagine this north Yorkshire band taking over the airwaves and purloining the summer like The Kooks... if only their name wasn't as naff. Go to their MySpace for a listen...

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Look What I Found!

Last month, going through my records, CDs and mp3s I found some hidden gems. Some of them are too good to be hidden, so, as an occasional post, called imaginatively, Look What I Found! I'll upload a few...

Ruth Joy - Don't Push It
(mp3 Download)
Dan Project76 mentioned this one in a comment after I posted the Krush track. And here it is. It didn't do anything chartwise, and Ruth disappeared after that. She popped up later as the wife of Inner City's Kevin Saunderson with a veritable football team of titchy RuthKevins, but unfortunately no massive solo musical output.

Cleopatra Jones - Hot Pants (mp3 Download)
A couple of years before Danny Rampling and his mates came from Ibiza dripping in an E sweat and introducing a new kind of dance music, this is what London clubs were jumping too. The scene that spawned S'Express also had this little diamond, a definitive 'getting ready' track: "Put on your hot pants, put on your hot pants...

Perfect Strangers - Without You (Extended Version) (mp3 Download)
Try as I might, I couldn't find any web info on this band. I can remember Janice Long loving this track and playing it to death. Anne Dudley, of the Art of Noise and later film score composer, produced it and you can hear her influence in the tight, meaty strings. The girl/boy duo (so common in the 80s) Roderick Syers and Martha McGowan broke up after the record flopped. This is the 12-inch version which allows the backing track to be heard in all its glory.

A reposte

The rant below in the post, The Good the Bad and the Ugly about this week's Tube strike has garnered an equally vocal reponse. So I thought I'd further explain my reasonable argument as another post...

I'm all for strikes when a workforce is being undermined and sold down the river like the BA catering staff a couple of years ago or the firemen before that. As a form of action, there's sometimes no choice but to withold your labour. BUT. This strike was pointless. Metronet, the employers ignored the union request for assurances on job security and pensions. When it finally came up with a reply, five weeks later, the union then ignored Metronet... Round and round, chasing tails with NO ONE sitting down and to talk to each other. There was a level of childishness and puerility on BOTH sides. The strike was taken and the public, who let us remember do not have any say in this, suffered. What the unions have now agreed to was the same offered to them before the strike.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly... reverse order!


Bob Crow and his 'Awkward Squad'. I don't want to bore the rest of the UK with the story behind this tit, but my poor blistered feet, tattered nerves and general feeling of helplessness compel me to say, "Fuck that". As Leader of the RMT Union, the biggest representative for Tube workers, he has guided all his members out onto a 3-day strike as a pre-emptive measure against redundancies which has meant a 90% shut down of the biggest underground transport system in the world. When miners' families were fighting against the imminent threat of job losses it was a real and present danger. Bob Crow's actions are power-crazed, lacking in purpose and cynical. He has shown no remorse or sympathy for the millions of people affected. Imagine a city of 11 million who are sitting in gridlocked traffic (while wanting to stick pins in their eyes), packed, oven-hot buses bursting with people (wanting to end it all) or people walking miles and miles just because it's quicker (hobbling and cursing). His behaviour in the media has been UGLY and Facebook has pulled no punches (which is quite nice to see in such a fluffy network); just key in Bob Crow and feel the anger! UPDATE the RMT have now agreed to go back to work *does a cynical "Whoo!"*


The album above is being released in time for Christmas. I saw this promo sleeve on popjustice and wept. Not because Money is on there (time hasn't been kind) but because there is a need for the album. The fact that most of the world refused when Jamelia asked to Walk With Me means that money has to be recouped and she is gently shoved down pop's dumper - just ask our Bev (Knight), she knows all about it. Above it all is that BAD, cheesy title, Superstar. It sums up everything that's wrong: the only song the majority of people will know her for and the only song anyone will choose to download or sing in a karaoke, (actually, I'm guilty of that one, so I'll get my coat).


The ad on TV for a BBC drama (see below) gets my heart racing and something else stirring. Consenting Adults (pic above) is part of a huge BBC 4 series of programmes called Hidden Lives commemorating the huge social impact of The Wolfenden Report 50 years ago. Basically, a chance to show load of gayers on TV. Yay! The GOOD! But *ahem* seriously, a committee of 14 men and women decided that the Law should not interfere with 'consenting adults' leading to a ten year debate on the legalistaion of homosexuality. Although it may be quaint, Wolfenden suggesting that, for the sake of the ladies in the room, they use the term Huntley & Palmers - after a popular biscuit brand at the time - for Homosexuals and Prostitutes, the country was still homophobic and repressed. This report was the beginning of the gradual dismantling of anti-gay culture. The series includes the ITV classic film, The Naked Civil Servant (itself affecting a social shift in British attitudes) about the life of Quentin Crisp - my little identity at the top right of this very blog.

BBC 4 Consenting Adults

Monday, 3 September 2007

You'll never forget!

Over the pungent smell of stale chocolate and farty popcorn, tens of twenty-something women are re-living their yoot with gay abandon. Never Forget, the Take That musical is currently touring the UK's premier fleapits and here's a clip. Look beyond the TV variety show set and the James Last arrangement and there's this... Click here for the heatworld clip and prepare to be dazzled... its sheer awfulness. I'm getting my ticket tomorrow!