Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Everybody Up! 6 - He Drove The Fastest Painty-Can Cart In The West


1. MOTT THE HOOPLE "All The Young Dudes"

# He can kick like a mule, its a real mean team, but we can love; oh yes, we can love...

Yay!  A friend of mine once introduced me to the concept of cheering when a character in a film says the name of the film, which has stuck ever since, and of course occurred to me in this situation.  Note that the less appropriate the timing of the cheer, the more satisfying this little game becomes (see: "Secrets and Lies").

I don't really think you need me to run this one down for you; Bowie wrote this for Mott, who were somewhat in the doldrums at the time.  It provided a shot in the arm for them - and later a new guitarist in the form of Mick Ronson - but so Bowie is the song that it's odd hearing another artist do it, even if they did do it first, and Bowie's never really managed to get a good version on record.

Thus begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a - hang on a minute...  That sounds like... 


2. LOU REED "Walk on The Wild Side"

Sigh.  Here comes ol' painty-can Lou Reed, again, to ruin everything, again.

Yes, here's every apologist's nightmare - arguably your artist's biggest song, which sounded "exotic" at the time, turns out when viewed through modern society's unforgiving prism to be full of outmoded and borderline insulting language, unfortunately targeted at a minority whose causes are just starting to come into sharp focus. 

It's also boring as fuck, though the clever production on the backing vocals through what must be, by a process of elimination, the "chorus" is actually pretty good.  This still falls foul of one of the fundamental rules of the universe: when PJ And Duncan's version of a song improves upon it in every conceivable way, you have a problem.

Finally, to quote a very underrated writer, "the best that can be said for an artefact of this level of throwaway frivolity and outmoded prejudice is that human morality's inexorable progress has rendered this almost impossible to judge by modern standards" - which either makes Lou Reed the American Noel Coward, or Noel Coward the English Lou Reed (delete as applicable).  Either way, one thing is undeniable: Lou Reed's garage contained many half-finished cans of paint.

3. ROXY MUSIC "Virginia Plain"

Not that I'm necessarily saying that Eno doesn't have a stash of Crown's finest, probably all in slightly differently named shades of white, but at least his painty-can-ness tends to manifest in ground-breaking or entertaining fashion - note that's not an and/or, as he doesn't quite seemed to have mastered doing both at once.

This track is great, and features probably the best use of oboe in rock.  In fact, are there any other high profile uses of the oboe in rock?  Answers on a postcard.  We'll be hearing from Byron Ferrari again later on, but unfortunately it will be a bit less exciting than this offering; it's easy to underestimate how exciting and progressive Roxy Music must have sounded at the time, particularly in the context of mainstream pop.

Thus (truly) begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a Midlands-brewed beer in hand and one of them hats like Noddy Holder had perched atop yer head.  Come on, let's feel the noise!

4. T-REX "Metal Guru"

BOSH!  Top of the shop.

It's all in the walk.  The walk I do when this song comes on tells me everything I need to know about the song.  It's not a strut, it's not a swagger, but it's supremely confident.  There's even some swish in the hips, a less masculine quality that bubbles to the surface, sensing a lack of fear, the absolute steely focus that the beat and screeching that hails the arrival of this song instils in me.

It is solid, it is unstoppable, it probably looks really bloody stupid on a Tuesday afternoon in a machine-washable Primark suit, whilst trying to rush back to work with a Tesco meal deal in one hand and a permanently buzzing mobile phone in the other, but damn it if it isn't a great, great deal of fun - even if nobody seems to know exactly what a Metal Guru is.

5. THE OSMONDS "Crazy Horses"

First off: not glam rock.  Not anywhere near.  However, what a track.  Seriously; for all my espousing of Digital Hardcore acts, mid-nineties Touch & Go Records alumni and ear-scorching Japanese punks, this may be one of the most extreme tracks in my collection.

Bear in mind that this is The Osmonds - the Mormon, perennial goody-two-shoeses of the seventies music industry - producing an extremely loud rock song.  By modern day standards, with the jaded, seen-it-all attitude of these bloody millenials, it's the equivalent of One Direction torching an orphanage and releasing the screams as a single.

Featuring a riff that can only be described as "metal", a spacey synthesiser and a dangerously berserk, shout-until-you're-hoarse (pun intended, always) vocal about killer horses taking over the world, or something.  The saxophone towards the end derails it a bit but it's too late by then - your mind may well have been blown.

In short, avoid judging this book by its cover; unlike certain other snooze-worthy offerings by certain Dulux-collecting "legends" we've recently encountered, this snaps, crackles and pops with an undercurrent of genuine danger.

Join us next time when we'll be looking for a kiss and trying to work out how one cans a can.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Everybody Up! 5 - Two for Sorrow, Three for Joy

1-17. FANNY "Charity Ball"

Cor!  I'd love me some no sorry I'm not doing this bit.  Next.


A song this writer is more than familiar with, thanks to Radcliffe favourites and nostalgia specialists before it was cool The Adventures of Parsley, who dropped a version in the mid-nineties, when the arrival of Supergrass briefly convinced everyone that the seventies were coming back in a big way - which was halted two seconds later after Oasis' dominance meant it was time to dig out your parka and stick some Weller on.  Again.

(Anyone who says I'm old enough to remember the show itself is a communist.)

Magpie the show was ITV's attempt to do something along the lines of the BBC favourite Blue Peter, but with a remit to be a bit more groovy, man.  The main impact it has had on myself is as an afterthought in the sets of stand-up comedians of a certain age, about how they either weren't allowed to watch Magpie because it was on ITV, or made a point of watching it because it was on ITV.  In some cases this would take up hours of said material, only stopping for Jack Dee to say "Mojo" in a voice he presumably believed to be funny.

Whilst ostensibly being recorded by The Murgatroyd Band, named for the show's magpie mascot, the group largely consists of members of The Spencer Davis Group, such as Spencer Davis.  So I've learned something today.  Anyway, the song itself is pretty good; strangely hypnotic, but with an odd feeling of it only being very barely controlled - like it might set its controls for the heart of the sun at any moment, and plough off into mind-expanding bad trip territory, assumedly taking the watching kiddies with them.

1-19. CHICORY TIP "Son Of My Father"

Oh good lord.  Well I already skipped Fanny, so I'll have to have a go at this one.

Chicory Tip, who were known as Chicory in the USA (still not as bad as The London Suede - really, why would you go with that?), presented this English re-write of a German song and then did basically nothing else of worth.  They had one album, but somehow have had five compilations of their oeuvre released.  The only way to get the album on CD is, bizarrely, on Japanese import.

And by thunder, is it ever boring.  One of the main reasons it took me a while to write up this next post was the sheer fear of having to find something to find about bloody Chicory bloody Tip with their bloody meandering bloody boring song.  And then I realised: that.  That's what I could say.

And everything was alright, forever after.

1-20. T-REX "Hot Love"

For years I did not know what this song was called.  In fact I was about to accuse this of doing the classic Nirvana move of having a title with nothing to do with the lyrics, but luckily thought to Google it beforehand.  I'm still going on record as saying it's well hidden for a song title.

The track itself seems oddly restrained compared to later offerings such as "20th Century Boy", but sounds like a nuclear war when taken against the earlier Tyrannosaurus Rex material - however, the greater historical significance (and I'm sure someone will be more than happy to correct me if I am wrong) is that Bolan's appearances on Top of the Pops to promote this very single are credited with bringing the glam look to the masses.

We'll be dropping in on Bolan again before very long.  Whilst he may have provided the initial opening, others would arguably capitalise on it better, at least in the short term.  Somewhere in Laahdahn town, Bowie, far from saying bye ta-ta as he promised us half a disk ago, was heading into space; any number of UK rockers were raiding their sisters' dressing tables; and in darkest Wolverhampton, some unlikely icons were shaping their sideburns...

1-21. SLADE "Coz I Luv You"

Disk One comes to an end with an appearance by a band who are synonymous with the mainstream vision of glam due to their outrageous outfits, despite not necessarily fitting the bill musically.  For Slade were, at heart, a hard rock band - could they have been anything else, hailing from the West Midlands at that time? - it just took them a little while to get there.

And this song is a very interesting sidetrack before they got there.  A classic pop song, with easily memorable lyrics, simply understood platitudes and an instantly recognisable guitar hook, this wasn't typical of Slade at the time, who were transitioning from their skinhead phase to something less overtly confrontational.  In fact, when taken in tandem with the previous track, we're on a run of songs that kickstarted fluctuating careers and in retrospect don't exactly fit with the modern expectations of those acts.

This was very much a case of cometh the hour, cometh the band, and the production does just enough to keep the boiling rage under wraps, which would actually no longer be necessary after this hit number one and the UK embraced Slade's more raucous anthems.  We can argue all day about whether they'd have done it on merit without adopting the visual tropes established by Bolan, but that
would be pointless, and I've stuff to do.

And that ends disk one for us!  Join us next time for disk two, where we'll be cheering as the title of the album is sung, catching up with Byron Ferrari and trying to work out what a Metal Guru actually is.  It's going to be great!...  Hang on...  Can you hear the rattle of paint cans?