Saturday, 24 January 2009

Julia: the forgotten Eurythmics single

At a time when Eurythmics were in their imperial phase - where nothing could go wrong and hit followed hit - the wheel buckled, slightly. The single Julia, a minimalistic and gorgeous ballad was only released in the UK and Ireland (reaching 44 and 17 respectively) as part of the 1984 'soundtrack' and remains their least successful single to date. But that's no reason to leave it off every compilation bar the Boxed CD version and have the ignomony of being the only single NOT on the iTunes version...

The 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) album was jinxed anyway. The director of the movie, Micheal Radford claimed Eurythmics were "foisted" on him by Virgin, the band's label and the film's backers. Annie and Dave said they would never have got involved in the first place had they known this. It's a pity, because the album, despite the massive hit Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty Four), was overlooked and much maligned - in the US it was virtually ignored because of prudish radio stations refusing to play a song entitled Sexcrime. Coming between the career highs of Touch and Be Yourself Tonight, this could have been an equally commercial and creative success. Thankfully the whole album is easily available everywhere.

I saw the Jane Fonda/Vanessa Redgrave wartime weepie Julia once on TV and instantly thought the song would connect more with this movie than 1984.

Julia - Eurythmics

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Just funny

Lady Gaga's appearence on Channel 4's The Sunday Night Project was licence for Alan Carr, Justin Lee Collins and guest host Catherine Tate to take the piss, which Alan did. Quite literally.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

White Lies of Mercy

I'm not the first, and I won't be the last (and always) to compare White Lies, here with their brilliant new single, To Lose My Life, with the grandaddies of goth, The Sisters of Mercy. The synth-driven, pomp pop of the 80s has been given a dust down and brush up by the London trio who have created something new and different. Watch them guide the BBC around their favourite haunts, including, fittingly, a graveyard. They're still just as doomy and gloomy as their forebears: wear black, don't smile and talk about death and stuff.

It's actually quite endearing, which is why I had a real soft spot for the Sisters of Mercy originally. All that grandiose gothic shit was quite cute. The Broken Doll, (R.I.P.), a nicotine drenched pub in Newcastle, was full of goths, all teasing their massive bouffants whilst looking suitably miserable sucking pints of lager and black through straws. But they were funny as fuck and sharp as pins. A non-goth who wandered in was quietly ripped to shreds. And the dancing! That electrocuted windmill thing was entertainment in itself.

Here's SoM from 1984 with Walk Away...

Walk Away - The Sisters of Mercy (zShare)

No Time to Cry - The Sisters of Mercy (zShare)

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Why on earth was Pulling pulled?

BBC Three have just shown both series of Pulling back-to-back. So if you're in the UK, head over to BBC iPlayer NOW. It's the antithesis to Gavin and Stacey: whereas the (equally funny) G&S is light and heartwarming, Pulling is dark and relentless, like a permanent cringe hangover. Donna, Louise and Karen, single, living together and falling apart are the funniest thing on TV.

The BBC, in their infinite wisdom, didn't pick up a third series. Writer, Sharon Horgan (who plays Donna), is fuming: "I haven't got a fucking clue why they did it. I can only think it's because the channel is changing. It's become much more youth orientated and we are all old birds in our late 30s. But I would love to know why they decided not to go with it anymore." Read this interview with her in happier times at the start of the second series last year. When there was a possibility that Pulling was going to transfer to BBC2, Irish Sharon was ecstatic: "People in Ireland don't really have BBC Three. I want people in Ireland to see it. I want people that I was at school with to see me on the telly."

Here's Donna and Karen with a new addition to the household:

And if you can't play the BooTube clip, here are some series quotes that aren't blocked!

"Reliable? Terry Wogan's reliable, but you wouldn't want him blowing his muck up you every night."

"Yeah, I think you're easy. But in a good way. Not easy like Abi Titmuss. Easy like Germaine Greer."

Karen at Donna's hen night: "Right. Double vodkas all round. And (to a pregnant girl) what do you want love? Something soft? Hooch? Carlsberg?"

Pulling is coming back for a one-off special in April to tie up the loose ends from series 2. They could call it Pulling One-Off. Hopefully, with the British Comedy Award under her belt, Sharon Horgan will be back on screen even more this year.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Now that's what I call the birth of a monster

Back in November, I reported on the ITV show resurrecting a load of 80s acts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first ever Now That's What I Call Music compilation albums. It was a fine old cheese-fest, shocking for two reasons 1) how much Nik Kershaw looked like Gary Glitter and 2) how Paul Young had the sheer nerve to mime to his recorded voice from 25 years ago. Well, finally, the first in the series has been reissued as a double CD, a format it never even had a sniff of - Now 10 was the first CD version. We're up to Now 71 in the UK and I haven't a clue who's on it. They kind of come and go, really. But there's a whole world of Nows out there... now.

Even then, I knew it was a bit naff because my parents bought a copy for themselves: "Oooh, that's the music sorted for New Year's Eve, then." But there was still a sense of something different about it. There were no fillers. No tracks disguising themselves as hits. There were 30 of the buggers on Now. And 11 of them number 1s if you please. A 'zany' Tracey Ullman told you so in this TV ad. And it must have been a long time ago; she's getting all moist over Paul McCartney for fuck's sake.

1983 was a vintage year for pop. Let's look at what you got for your £3.99... worra bargain, sniiiiiiiiip!

1. Phil Collins - You Can't Hurry Love
2. Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know
3. UB40 - Red Red Wine
4. Limahl - Only For Love
- me, neither. But it was a number 16 hit for the miniature frightwig
5. Heaven 17 - Temptation
6. KC & the Sunshine band - Give It Up
- this was MY summer tune of 1983. Picture the scene: a hot car, windows down, sat in the back getting everyone to shoulder dance, "Nananananananana Now!
7. Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch
- who would have thought that the middle-aged ex-Sex Pistols manager could score two big fat hits off an album born from the kids of NYC. It was on odyssey from start to finish... "too much of that Snow White!"
8. Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart
9. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
10. Men Without Hats - Safety Dance
11. Kajagoogoo - Too Shy
12. Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow
- I used to say this was crap, but secretly, I liked it. Smell the patchoulli oil!
13. Men at Work - Down Under
14. Rock Steady Crew - (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew
- there was a boy with a mullet, or was that a girl? Still can't remember what they looked like. But everyone danced to it.
15. Rod Stewart - Baby Jane
16. Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)
17. New Edition - Candy Girl
18. Kajagoogoo - Big Apple
- didn't Nick Beggs have a very feminine voice? A bit Hazell Dean-ish. And it's still a rubbish song after all these years.
19. Tina Turner - Let's Stay Together
20. Human League - (Keep Feeling) Fascination
21. Howard Jones - New Song
22. UB40 - Please Don't Make Me Cry
23. Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack - Tonight I Celebrate My Love
24. Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know
- the video with Paul McCartney. Actually he does look a bit, sniiiiiiip!
25. Will Powers - Kissing With Confidence
26. Genesis - That's All
27. The Cure - Lovecats
- still my favourite ever Cure track.
28. Simple Minds - Waterfront
29. Madness - The Sun & The Rain
- the beginning of the end. Bless.
30. Culture Club - Victims

Buy your copy here!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The sound of Labrador. Woof!

For us poor lot in the northern hemisphere, it's cold. Bloody freezing in fact. So here's something to warm yer cockles. The Swedish label Labrador sent me (Blogger please NOTE!) these two tracks from their roster, just for you...

First up is Pallers. Picture the scene: there's a light breeze, hot and dry, as you look out over an azure blue Mediterranean sea, with the sound of Humdrum drifting from the villa behind you. This is what assailed the senses of the duo above as they wrote it.

Bastards. Lucky bastards. And judging by their description of their sound it's all done in a very *ahem* relaxed manner: "One leg is always standing in the green grass of pop while the other leg is out on its own, wandering between places such as dancefloors, sandy beaches, cold concrete and a weightless existence in a bed or a hammock."

Humdrum - Pallers
Get Humdrum on iTunes UK here

Next up are The Sound of Arrows, seen here lovingly picking nits off each other and looking very colour co-ordinated within worrapolava. Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand have been making music together (oo-er) for a couple of years now. Their hometown in Sweden wasn't big enough (or exciting enough) so they moved to Stockholm where they now look at the world in technicolour. M.A.G.I.C. is a global song. It sounds like Englishman Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy performing a very a la mode French track alongside cute samples of Japanese school kids over some Eastern European fairground synths and a catchy Swedish backing track. They have also produced a lovely video with lots of lovely images which perfectly encapsulate the sound. M.A.G.I.C. and all it's remixes and extra tracks is out on 28th January.

M.A.G.I.C. - The Sound of Arrows (zShare)
Go to iTunes UK here to purchase their album from last year, Danger!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Nâdiya and Kelly Rowland in cahoots

<a href="âdiya-&-Kelly-Rowland-No-Future-in-the-past">Nâdiya & Kelly Rowland - No Future in the past</a>Here's French superstar, Nâdiya - her mammoth hit Roc is still a big fave of mine - duetting with Kelly Rowland on brand new R&B dance track No Future in the Past. It's derivative, hackneyed and formulaic. They've thrown everything in there, including, what sounds like, the kitchen sink. Kelly even does un petit francais at 1.40. And I LOVES it.

Here's Kelly (vid below) talking about how they bumped into each other in a hotel (yeah, right) where Nadiya gave her a copy of the track and asked her to duet on it. Do you think Kelly got some extra wedge to go off on a right old love-fest about her co-star?

Pet Shop B-sides: we ARE all criminals now

Bless Neil and Chris for still placing b-side tracks in high regard. And they've had this attitude towards the forgotten track from day one ensuring theirs are never forgotten. Songs like In the Night, Paninaro (an A-Side in Italy), The Truck Driver and His Mate and Your Funny Uncle are just as popular as any a-side. On their website yesterday, as an almost prophetic statement, they announced the completion of the b-side to upcoming single Love Etc.. Called We're All Criminals Now it comes just as the UK government announced today that EVERY SINGLE email sent and received in this country - 35,000 PER SECOND - will be recorded and kept for a year by service providers. Eek. Together with the most-per-capita CCTV cameras, GPS and phone call logs, we're all living in a Big Brother bubble in Britain.

Neil said about the song: "Yes, we're still banging on about the erosion of freedoms in this country." He also goes on to link to this excellent Guardian article about our too-powerful UK government.

**UPDATE** They have now completed a second (!!) b-side called Gin and Jag.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

"It's definitely time for some serious synth action"

So, in the first (and most full of itself) list of the year, the Sound of 2009 has student of the 80s, Elly Jackson and her band, well, duo, La Roux, at numero 5. Whether this translates into sales and mass recognition is irrelevant. For me anyway. Their material is more than promising. Elly's only 20 - like Adele was when she was crowned 2008's number 1 - and bursting with wide-eyed enthusiasm and passion. Watch this interview here with BBC News for her eloquent plea for a return to creative pop songs.

Elly is teamed with songwriter Ben Langmaid, who wrote for Kubb weirdly enough. As much as the image, (left) is working for La Roux, I think Ben should step out of the shadows, avec shades obviously, and style themselves as a new Eurythmics.

The numero uno of the Sound of 2009 is named tommorrow. It could be VV Brown, or hopefully Frankmusik. Just as long as it's not that bloody Little Boots, I'll be happy. Just how AWFUL is her track Stuck on Repeat?

Here's the new single, Quicksand:

Little Boots won and instead of my going "Boo!" and sticking two fingers up, Rob at EY pointed me in the direction of her cover of Freddie Mercury's Love Kills which is a REALLY good version. And she has a song on HerSpace called Every Little Earthquake which has changed my opinion... a little bit (it's actually a fab song).

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Robbie and the PSB are tranced

For the first great tune for 2009, watch this. It's Robbie William's vocals from his PSB cover, We're the Pet Shop Boys, fed through a trance mincer by Dutch DJ Sander van Doorn and, having been around for a couple of months, gets an official digital release on iTunes tomorrow. Close My Eyes appears on Cream's mammoth Future Trance compilation and is majestic. It highlights how suited Robbie's vocals are to dance tracks. I've always thought his more mournful stuff would make great techno. In fact, a friend once mentioned Feel as the ideal song for a dance makover so if anyone knows of a version already out there, let me know!

One last Christmas treat

Before everyone goes back to work on Monday (boo - oh, sorry, yay, 'cos I ain't), here's one last Christmas treat. Put off the festive detox for just a few minutes. Last Christmas, the website dedicated to Wham!'s song from 1984, has now featured up to 390 covers of said ditty. And this year, to save you from tears, they have a special visual cover version. The acapella band Bliss have recreated the video in Saas-Fee, the original Swiss location, and despite the ropey barnets, have done it brilliantly.