Friday, 31 August 2007

"Here comes a high-heeled sensation..."

Ask for some new music and it's always the Swedes that come up trumps. Emmon apparently knocks back the Absolut with Kleerup, The Knife and, probably, Robyn. She's also a member of the lovely band Paris (see the mp3 below). Her album, with a stylish cover, The Art and the Evil is available on UK iTunes here. And for all thing Emmon, go here.

The track Rock D'Amour (see below) starts off sounding like Salt 'n' Pepa's Push It and ends up as a gorgeous throbbing, synth twinkling slice of pop. And she looks like she's having a great time in the vid with her easy-going bopping.

Rock D'Amour - Emmon (mp3 Download)
You and I - Paris (mp3 Download)

Emmon -Rock d'amour

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

O2 many hits!

Prince @ The O2 Arena, London, Tuesday 29th August

U Got the Look, but Where the Fuck R U?

Walking into the massive 21,000 seater O2 Arena (inside the old Millenium Dome) last night, my first thought was: how on earth am I going to enjoy this? Prince isn't exactly pop's biggest star, literally, and the stage looked like The Borrowers were going to get up and do a turn. Anyhoo, the lights go down and onto the screen come Salma Hayek (!), Pharell Williams, Wendy & Lisa (obv.) and Joni Mitchell (!!!!) to extol the virtues of their pint-sized hero. And then. Up he came from under the stage to the centre of the 'symbol' right into Let's Go Crazy. Almost immediately the distance melted away and it became the biggest, most intimate gig I've ever been too.

It's to Prince's credit that he pulls off the seemingly impossible. He sells out 21 nights of 21,000 bums on seats - all at the democratic price of £31.21. And above all that, he wins over every crowd, every night with a potent mix of solid gold hits and a stage presence most of today's stars can only dream of. The Scissor Sisters, bless 'em, couldn't even make an 8,000 seater Wembley seem intimate, despite their desire to do so, which is why I eschewed a repeat performance here at the O2 in July. But Prince knows how to deliver a show to a massive crowd.

Alongside the fabulous dancing 'twins', he tore up every nook and cranny of the stage in his Cuban heels. The booty shaking, head-nodding and guitar-licking were immediately familiar as his trademark moves in a set littered with hits: U Got the Look, Take Me With U, 1999, Purple Rain, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. And almost as a snoot to the critics, "I've got TOO MANY hits!", some of his biggest tracks became 2-minute pieces as part of a fabulous solo piano effort which included Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette, Sign o' the Times and Alphabet St. There were a couple of duff choices for the main set like Black Sweat and, controversially, Controversy - I overheard someone complain about him choosing it over When Doves Cry. But two hours' worth was a right royal buffet!

The Miniscule of Sound in action...

Needless to say, the man knows how to end a show. After appearing through the floor for the fourth time, and for the umpteenth time thanking London for having him he saved the best 'til last: Nothing Compares 2 U. The lovely pissed old gay hippies in front of me only had to hear the words "It's been seven hours..." whereupon, they fell into a heap of purple chiffon, red wine and tears. And then, he too was gone.

Chelsea Rodgers - Prince (mp3 Download): the only track from the new Planet Earth album he played last night that I recognised!

Amy and Britney, together at last!

A sight you'd never thought you'd see, Wino and Britters having a liddle tete-a-tete...

...courtesy of French and Saunders! This is their usual celeb-baiting on the upcoming new series and, as ever, they've gone for the of-the-moment juggular. Can't wait.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

To the Manor Born

Like Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton I became one of the privileged and left the hoi polloi behind as I took to life at this manor in Sussex like a duck to water. Myself and 10 friends descended on it for the Bank Holiday weekend and for a change, the weather reflected everyone's mood; sunny and hot! Vare hot!

This Edwardian pile had a squash court inside the house (!) and 2 grand pianos in the drawing room for an Elton/Liberace sandwich. It has its own website here

And the tune of the weekend? Despite some quality tracks, the trash always wins out...

Wham Rap! - Wham!
(mp3 Download)

Monday, 20 August 2007

Nice Juggs...

A right pair here!

They're called Midnight Juggernauts and despite looking and sounding vare French, they're completely Oz-ian from Melbourne and they have a new album out called Dystopia. This track, Road to Recovery is my current wake up song in the morning. And whereas, walking to work I usually remind people that they must 'get some mince for tea', it's actually making me move purposefully with a very uncharacteristic swagger. It's also a song with huge VFM: it sounds brilliantly epic when you're out and cures the hangover in the morning.

Website


MySpace with REALLY GOOD tracks from the new album.

And the boys holiday pics, like this one above after meeting the Queen, here

Midnight Juggernauts - Road to Recovery
(mp3 Download)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

French & Saunders: a 100 year celebration

50 is the new 40. It has to be. So many artists seem to be using the half century as a landmark to their – by this time - huge body of work, Marc Almond being a current case in point. And now that French & Saunders are nearing the big 5-0 they aren’t disappointing. On September 7th, the BBC will be airing a new series, sort of. Called A Bucket O’ French & Saunders, it’s a greatest hits-type package of all their sketches stitched together with brand new ‘white room’ inserts and early next year they’ll be touring the UK. But after that, apparently, that will be it as far as being a TV duo.

I can’t really remember when F&S weren’t on TV they’ve been around for that long. 25 years ago when they co-starred in the Comic Strip Presents series for Channel 4 they were, for me, easily the most interesting and funny - Famous Five Go Mad in Dorset: "Oh, Timmy (the dog) You're so licky!". A sitcom for the BBC followed called Happy Families which was under-rated and under-viewed. That would have been the end of their careers these days, but the BBC had a policy of nurturing talent; allowing their stars to bomb at first. It’s a policy that paid dividends as the brilliant French & Saunders TV series proved.

Like all sketch shows, it was hit and miss (especially the last series 6 in 2005), but unlike other sketch shows the majority of it was definitely hit. Dawn and Jennifer’s relationship isn’t that complicated: they like each other, they never argue, they respect each other and think each other funny. And that, they surmise, is why it ‘works’.

The innovative influences of big budgets, locations, whole body prosthetics and the deadpan delivery can be seen in Little Britain and Catherine Tate which is ironic as these shows are part of the reason French & Saunders are hanging up their duo mantle. The big budgets have gone (on Little Britain probably) and that, Saunders says, is why they have to pack it in: “I’d like to work with Dawn, but it would have to be a different way on television.”

Go here for the lengthy Times Online interview from last week.

Anyhoo, why wait for the show in September when YouTube is chockerblock with F&S…

The Making of Titanic
here for part one and here for part two

The whole of The Lord of the Rings spoof here

The reason why Madonna has consistently refused to appear on the show here and here

Little Britain
and your body costumes, eat your heart out here

The wonderous skit on the 90s BBC costume drama House of Elliott here

"Take the pain, bitch!": Kate Moss gets it here

And below are some embedded YouTube clips. These are some of my favourites, but there are tons more I’ve missed!

Carl Davis French and Saunders spoof

french and saunders, field trip

Sonia spoof! (French and Saunders, 1990)

french and saunders, sixties

Friday, 17 August 2007

Is it just me?

Or does anyone else find it a bit weird that the 'reformed' ex-pill-popping, ex-crack-smoking Happy Mondays are now Amy Wino's replacements on the V Festival bill. There was a time when no one would touch the band with a shitty stick.

Shaun: "La, la, la, like your mother was dirty! (Aside to Bez) Don't worry, matey, it's only water in this beer bottle"
Bez: "S'OK, Shaun, mate. I'm only on Pro-Plus to give the impression that I'm bug-eyed after a triple drop. By the way, are we still going to see Il Divo next week?"

Zip it, Simon!

"I’ve been lucky, but I also know when not to outstay my welcome". Hasn't the man learned from Tony Blair's mistakes? DON'T SAY ANYTHING. "I have three more seasons under contract with American Idol and that will be it. And it will probably come at the same time The X Factor in the U.K."

Just GO when you have to but don't announce it yet! We'll end up getting a Simon Cowell retrospective just before the new series of X Factor followed updated version at the end of the series... At Christmas there'll be Simon Cowell's All-Time Favourite Christmas Retrospectives. And there after, a potted history of Simon Cowell every six months or so for THREE YEARS.

Come 2010 (!!!) we'll all be screaming "Oh just fuck off. PLEASE!". By which point, any fondness the nation may have had for the man will have evaporated into the ether.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

7 One Hit Wonders...

...of my 80s world.

And these are genuine one hitters where follow-ups either flopped or didn't even materialise. Even though the chart botherings of Naked Eyes and Matt Fretton aren't of stellar proportions, they qualify because I played the song as if it were a top ten smash. So, in no particular order:

Strawberry Switchblade - Since Yesterday (mp3 Download)
Reached No.5 in 1984
You can smell the hair lacquer from here... this gorgeous tune from the Scottish girl goths has trumpets and synths and a heart-stopping middle eight. And this amazingly comprehensive website devoted to Rose and Jill makes me feel a bit guilty for including them in a 'one hit wonder' post!

Carmel - Bad Day (mp3 Download)
Reached No.15 in 1983
The Amy Winehouse of her day (without the crack cocaine habit), Manchester lass Carmel has a voice which sends shivers down all the right places. Although there were critically acclaimed albums produced by the likes of Brian Eno, Carmel (the name of the band and the lead singer, confusingly) never really bothered the singles charts. They were massive in France though!

Naked Eyes - Always Something There to Remind Me (mp3 Download)
Reached No.59 in 1983
These two look like second-hand car dealers but did in fact have three big hits in the US of A while being virtually ignored here, hence the dismal number 59 placing. But it was a hit in my eyes anyway. Sadly, Rob Fisher died in 1999, but he did have quite a bit of homegrown success with Climie Fisher.

Krush - House Arrest (mp3 Download)
Reached No.3 in 1987
Yet another Sheffield creation (that city has a disproportionate amount of musical talent!), Krush was an amalgamation of dance writers and producers including Mark Brydon of Moloko. The track came from FON studios which also produced other one-hitters The Funky Worm. Ruth Joy, the singer, later went on to marry house supremo, Inner City's Kevin Saunders.
*UPDATE* - NOW ON A zSHARE LINK (WHICH SHOULD LAST LONGER)

Blue Mercedes - I Want To Be Your Property (mp3 Download)
Reached No.23 in 1987
This duo bounced around in shorts all over Saturday morning TV in 1987. Sounding like ABC and fed through The Hit Factory they should have been a lot bigger but the songs which followed just weren't very good. David Titlow, the vocalist, went on to better things though as a bona fide photographer.
*UPDATE* - NOW ON A zSHARE LINK (WHICH SHOULD LAST LONGER)

Matt Fretton - It's So High (mp3 Download)
Reached No.50 in 1983
This Dave Gahan look and sound alike was touted as the next big thing, even getting his own cover of Smash Hits before the single was even released. He had support slots with Depeche Mode and the Eurythmics and then the record came out. And no one bought it. Except for me, and I still love it.
*UPDATE* - NOW ON A zSHARE LINK (WHICH SHOULD LAST LONGER)

Jimmy the Hoover - Tantalise (mp3 Download)
Reached No.18 in 1983
A similar story to the above, Jimmy the Hoover was a band with credentials coming out of their ears: managed by Malcolm McLaren and a Smash Hits cover touting their future greatness (they were that good at picking 'em). And then the record came out. And no one bought it. Except for me, and I still love it.

'Ave it!

Robyn beats off the challenges from Timbaland and Kanye.

SHE'S NUMBER ONE! HURRAH!

It's all down hill from here, love.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

ANTHONY H WILSON


20 February 1950 – 10 August 2007

The Manchester impressario, blaggard, twat, entrepreneur, genius behind Factory and Manchester's creative scene has left a huge hole but an equally huge legacy. Bless 'im.

I remember his late night Granada TV music and arts show The Other Side of Midnight which would introduce new bands like The Stone Roses every week. And this, if anything epitomised the man: he would only need utter the words "And this new..." and you would either go with it or laugh it out of the house. A visionary man with either fabulous or nebulous taste.

Go here to the BBC for the story and the music heritage.

Goosebumpingly gorgeous

It's a fight for number one in tomorrow's Top 40 between Robyn and Kanye West. Obviously I have my flag planted firmly in the Robyn Camp. But according to popjustice, there's not much in it with Kanye at number one in iTunes already. Mind you, with this kind of press cropping up in the UK now, maybe this will be Kanye's last chance.

But all of these shenanigans aside, you HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS; it's worth the investment of 20-ish minutes of your time. As I mentioned earlier, Robyn was due to do a live performance and interview on Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show. And a couple of days ago, here she was...

Click here to go to the picture galleries and link to LISTEN NOW.

Confusingly, Sara Cox was standing in for La Whiley, but, believe me, that is a bonus! I like La Cox and her blunt northern ways. The interview went down the inevitable Show Me Love route with a cheeky aside to the Robin S track... but otherwise, Robyn came across as funny and wholly appreciative of the gushing compliments. And the music was AMAY. ZING. Described by one listener as 'goosebumpingly gorgeous', the piano-accompanied With Every Heartbeat stripped the song down but somehow intensified the emotion. And then the obligatory Live Lounge cover was, quite neatly, the Show Me Love ├╝ber-producer/songwriter, Max Martin's Since You've Been Gone. I thought Robyn wobbled a bit doing the higher vocals, but the arrangement was clever and unique. That Kleerup is a clever man...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Maccy Ds play 'Hide the Logo'

It's great this game. First you take out a double page ad in the UK's best-selling food mags (with the teeniest logo you need to find with a magnifying glass) which directs everyone to a site called makeupyourownmind.co.uk

There you'll find no nasty McDonalds logos or anything to remind you you're looking at a Maccy Ds damage limitation exercise. But look closer. In place of the logos, you'll find these highly entertaining questions from Joe Public in the How Do You Make section, especially good are numbers 1 and 15.

Bye, bye Maccy Ds!

Monday, 6 August 2007

"You're that George Michael out of the Wham! ain't yer?"

The Guide has two of the funniest columnists around in Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn and Grace Dent's World of Lather. But another funny writer, popjustice's Peter Robinson appears week by week under a lower-cased umbrella header of 'music' with nothing but a byline. These one-pagers are more than worthy of a header all their own.

This week, the subject was the latest episode of comedy biopics Star Stories; a seriously overlooked Channel 4 show, which has the perfect conduit in Peter Robinson. In a genuine moment of pop picking up a knife and fork and eating itself, he describes the next in the series, Simon Cowell - My Honesty, My Genius. which could easily be a popjustice version of pop history.

With one-liners in the upcoming Friday episode like "I didn't want to know about the Spice Girls - they'd only be a 10-year flash in the pan" I can't wait. Star Stories is like pissing yourself laughing with a mate who is:
a) a great mimic
b) probably a gayer
c) funny as fuck

This scene, (below) from the first series, is probably the best example from a top notch bunch. It's the George Michael story, starting with the Band Aid sessions. Where do I begin with the favourite bits? The Boy George as the witch from Chorlton and the Wheelies and a 'straight' Elton John! It's ALL inspired.

Go here for the first part, and here for last part of the episode.

Go here for clips! Take That: The Gary Barlow Story... !!

George Michael - Star Stories clip

Saturday, 4 August 2007

There's nothing like an English summer


And like a long-lost friend who suddenly texts out of the blue, a giant golden orb thing called 'the sun' appears in a cloudless sky to remind everyone in England that it is, in fact, August, and summer! Hurrah! And, more predictably, out come the noisy neighbours. How come warring couples choose to argue at the tops of their voices and a flat full of been-up-all-night-on-pills choose to make their presence felt and heard. In our neighbourhood we've even got an R&B star wannabe: it's a girl who fills her weekend days with renditions of Rihanna, Beyonce and old skool Motown. She's actually amazing, and I feel quite lucky to catch her snatches of vocal gymnastics now and again. But the open window syndrome means summer in a big old city like London is never peaceful. In some ways this is how it should be, but in other ways, having to put headphones on to drown out the summer noise is the necessity that goes against the grain.

And so I segue into the summer tune. Like Christmas, (doesn't that word sound so foul in the middle of a heatwave), the songs of the holiday season become timeless classics. Actual summer tracks referencing the season are great examples, Banarama's Cruel Summer despite the doom laden lyrics, is the perfect accompaniment to cracking pavestones and The Lotus Eaters' First Picture of You ("the first picture of summer") is a joyous, bright and breezy affair which always pleases (even with that very 80s winsome line: "Seeing the flowers scream their joy"). But it's the songs which are hits in the summer, or have a summery vibe that are the surprising classics. Spandau Ballet's Gold will always remind me of a summer spent in a Scottish highlands cottage surrounded by golden cornfields and I.O.U. by Freeez summons up images of hot balmy city nights in Newcastle with girls tottering down cobbled streets in white court shoes singing "A.E.I.O.U." waving a bottle Babycham.

So why am I sat indoors then? Dur!

Anyhoo, this summer, there are two tracks playing on my iTunes which are hitting exactly the right tone in this red hot summer sun. And, funnily enough, they hail from the Sunshine State. First up is Goldspot, an LA-based band who sound very English...

Friday - Goldspot (mp3 Download)


And the very "Weird Al" Yankovic-sounding cyber phenomenom Kennedy with a gorgeous slow disco track about getting off with 'your mama'. *quietly throws up in the corner*
Your Mama - Kennedy (mp3 Download)

I.O.U. - Freeez (mp3 Download)

The First Picture of You (Extended Mix) - The Lotus Eaters (mp3 Download)

Gold (Extended Mix) - Spandau Ballet (mp3 Download)

Cruel Summer - Bananarama (mp3 Download)

And this is the ultimate English summer song for me. Forget the Dorset cottages and clotted cream. This is summer, UK inner-city stylee. The first Eurythmics album, In the Garden, was nothing like the Sweet Dreams electro or US stadium rock of later years. And this track epitomises their sound at the time: contemporary for 1981 (!!!) especially during the middle eight where the wildtrack of a summer London street kicks in...

English Summer - Eurythmics (mp3 Download)