Thursday, September 15, 2016

Everybody Up! - Epilogue

OH YES WE CAN LOVE - A History Of Glam Rock

Purchasable here:

And here's the top pop picks from each disk!



Honourable mentions: BILLY FURY "Jealousy", CURVED AIR "Back Street Luv", VINCE TAYLOR AND HIS PLAYBOYS "Brand New Cadillac"


T. REX "Metal Guru"

Honourable mentions: MICK RONSON "Growing Up And I'm Fine", THE OSMONDS "Crazy Horses", ROXY MUSIC "Virginia Plain"


SPARKS "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us"

Honourable mentions: KISS "Rock And Roll All Nite", SAILOR "A Glass Of Champagne", FOX "Only You Can"


Argh...  This is too difficult...  Fuck it.  TWO WAY TIE!!!

THE RUNAWAYS "Cherry Bomb"

BONEY M. "Rasputin"

Honourable mentions: MAGAZINE "The Light Pours Out Of Me", ADAM AND THE ANTS "Antmusic", BLONDIE "Rip Her To Shreds"


Sorry to be predictable, but it has to be EARL BRUTUS "The SAS And The Glam That Goes With It" (here performed by their latest incarnation, THE PRE NEW)

Honourable mentions: MARILYN MANSON "The Dope Show", SUEDE "Metal Mickey", MORRISSEY "Glamorous Glue"


(See you all back here next week for "Each Holding An ORB" - it's only twelve years late!)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Everybody Up! 21 - Unstoppable (Except At The End)

14. THE DARKNESS "Growing On Me"

Fad retro metal here from the flavours of the half a week from 2003, featuring the constantly inappropriately-dressed frontman Justin Hawkins, who would eventually produce an imagination-free cover of "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" under the guise of British Whale, with a video featuring darts supremo Phil "The Power" Taylor.

(DON'T look it up.  It's not worth it.)

I did not fall under the spell of these particular flashes in the pan at the time, when they were suddenly selling out arenas and contending for Christmas number one before completely disappearing, though many of my contemporaries did, so I have had plenty of exposure to their works.

I must say that this isn't nearly as bad as I remember - "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" was always the more annoying of their main two singles, and this one is relatively inoffensive hair metal, with the jarringly high voice of their lead singer deployed as a special weapon rather than all over the bloody place - so you could say, it's grown on me!!! (cymbal crash, mild jeering)  Ooh, tough crowd...

15. GOLDFRAPP "Strict Machine"

Another act who had a brief flirtation with mainstream success, Goldfrapp draw a shocking lineage from our friends Fox, who back in the day (and on one of the earlier disks) built a reputation on a coquettish frontwoman and off-kilter pop stylings - in this case, strictly electronic in flavour, like Moloko taken to its logical end.

As it's all very "ooh, I might have sex with you and it might be a bit pervy", I really don't have a great deal else to say about this, so let me pull the curtain back a crack on this business we call show: sound engineers rate diva-ish antics by artists they process on the Alison Goldfrapp Scale, and let's just say no-one else tops that out.

16. THE ARK "Clamour For Glamour"

Here come some Swedes.  Seasoned swedes, at that, with a career spanning nineteen years between 1991 and 2010.  And pretty popular ones as well - in Sweden at least, with three of their five albums going to number one.  A stark contrast to their career in the UK, which was crowned by a single reaching 121; turns out we're not the centre of the universe after all!

You would be forgiven for thinking, after the run we've been on, that this track was largely included due to the word "Glamour" in the title.  But no: I'm pleased to report that they are thematically correct, being both glam AND rockers, and this is a pretty good offering.

I did promise myself I wouldn't just parrot facts out of the book that came with the compilation - for one thing, it gives you less incentive to buy it, and I do actually recommend you do so - but it would be remiss of me not to mention that they toured with The Darkness at one point since, well, we've just mentioned The Darkness.  So, y'know...  There's that.

17. FOXY SHAZAM "Unstoppable"

Oh my sweet lord Schumacher, we've actually made it to the final track of the final disk of the compilation, some approximately seventeen years after starting to write about it!  It's not pat on the back time yet, though; to be frank I usually drift off a bit on this disk after Marilyn Manson, so let's have a quick listen to this one and see if it evokes any distant memories...

(twenty minutes later)

...No.  It hasn't left an impression.  OK, so as an essentially new offering, what do we have here?  Well it's definitely glam in a good many ways, including the stomping beat, marching bass and inspirational riff, coupled with the Freddie Mercury-esque vocal (they really should have shelled out for Queen.  A bit of "Seven Seas Of Rhye" would have gone down a storm at the end of the last disk).  They're also American, despite sounding very English - it's usually the other way round, so that's quite heartening to hear for once!

It's obviously not the most heavily played or well remembered song on this collection - which is a by-product of ending a glam retrospective in the 2000s, I guess - but it's a perfectly cromulent offering, and one which I was glad to re-listen to tonight as I finally wave a fond farewell to the compilation.  It's been a journey not without its rough patches, but one that was very much worth taking.

Perhaps you'd like to follow in my footsteps?

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Everybody Up! 20 - Hair Design By Nicky Clarke

10. EARL BRUTUS "The S.A.S. And The Glam That Goes With It"

Long time favourites of this writer, Earl Brutus were arguably the most underrated band of the nineties - although I could probably give you a list of ten to twenty "most underrated bands of the nineties", depending on time, mood and level of inebriation.

Completely out of step with the mainstream perception of "indie" music at the time, with neither a sharp image nor sickening youth on their side, and a penchant for nodding to both punk and classic rock at a time when both were considered extraordinarily passé, their crunching wall of guitars, samples and popular culture sloganeering struck a chord with this oddbod at the very least.

This is probably their best known offering.  Named after an inscription on a VHS video spine, this is the perfect summation of what Earl Brutus did, and their continuing legacy band The Pre New still do: a simple but catchy guitar hook; an excellent shout-along chorus ("you are your own reaction", in this case); and a bit in the middle where it all breaks down and goes a bit sketchy, before crashing perfectly back into step to career down the hill to the end.


11. GAY DAD "To Earth With Love"

And now for something completely different: Cliff Jones, music journalist, like many of his kind (and, let's face it, your esteemed writer - I will not be a hypocrite about this) actually wanted to be a rock star.  So he tried and he tried and he eventually came up with this - an absolute photofit of the kind of thing that was getting indie bands signed at the end of 1997 by a music industry desperately, gluttonously eating itself up in search of a quick buck.

And signed did he get, to the eventually ill-fated London Records, and out did it come, getting to number 10 in the charts.  And lo, did they go on to do nothing of consequence, being arguably the biggest case of Emperor's New Clothes since good old Sigue Sigue Sputnik.  See?  I can do continuity.  Who said I couldn't?  (smashes bottle) WHO SAID I COULDN'T???


The exact opposite of Earl Brutus, then - had all the right moves for the time but no individuality and consequently no lasting legacy.  No surprise mentions on major terrestrial television, no love from The Quietus, no enduring iconography - nothing but this two bit writer resentfully banging out a tattoo of mediocrity upon his barely mid-range laptop.  And when my rancid tapping comes to an end, well: what remains then?...

12. MARILYN MANSON "The Dope Show"

An interesting personal case of full circle, here: some time ago, a friend of mine (hello, Christian!  Though you're not reading this!) opined that the Marilyn Manson album "Mechanical Animals" was the closest we would get to a glam rock album in this day and age.  He was right on the money as well - the drum patterns, the gender play, even some of the riffs fully support that assessment.

And here we are with a vindication of that position - the inclusion of that album's lead single.  A perfect example of how to piss off middle America, the song actually starts with a shout of the word "DRUGS!" and progresses as idiot-baitingly as you would expect.

But as is the norm with mid-period Marilyn Manson, there is actually a great tune buried under the controversy - and a glam rock tune at that, albeit one spiked with ketamine to achieve a funereal crawl, fighting for its own breath under the weight of its own diseased guitars.  Which a very funny way of saying I really like the song, but there you go.

13. PULP "We Are The Boys"

Oh fuck off Jarvis.

Some time ago, a friend of mine (hello, Dan!  Though you're not reading this!) opined that we would look back upon the music of the nineties with great affection, aside from one band.  That band, dear reader, was Blur.  Time has proved him wrong, for it is Pulp.

What appeared at the time to be innovative storytelling pop - and to be fair, hindsight hasn't dulled that - now grates, with the knowledge that every one-fingered keyboard intro will bring a tale of Jarvis Cocker's favourite hero, one Mr Jarvis Branson Cocker, and how incredibly great he is, and how every girl that's turned him down in the past is a sad, fat slag who made the wrong decision in not shagging him, despite the fact that he looks a creepy, lanky hobo scarecrow on dope.

It's a shame how grating this has become for me, as I was a big fan back in That Day - and "Intro" and "His 'N' Hers" are still pretty good, it's just the post-fame albums that are quite this formulaic - but I just can't do Pulp anymore. 

Oh, and just so I've actually said something about the song, it's from the "Velvet Goldmine" soundtrack, where Bowie's obvious reluctance to be involved in speculation about his sex life led to Britpop bands being tapped up to do glam-style songs.  That went exactly as well as you'd imagine.

Join us next time for the end.  Really truly, honestly, the end.  We're not pulling A Godawful Small Affair-job and chucking in another entry in the wrong order - if we did, not even a picture of a weasel could redeem us.  So join us next time for the omega.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Everybody Up! 19 - Pokemon Go! (NOTE: contains nothing about Pokemon Go)

6. THE FALL "Glam-Racket"

I did say I wouldn't be critical about the choices of tracks, but this one is literally just here for having "glam" in the title.  The song itself actually seems to be a protest about the perceived over-glam stylings of bands of the time - including Suede, who we just heard from, unless you're here for the first time, in which case you may be expecting something about Pokémon Go.  Sorry: we're not writing about that, but Simply Roxilicious did, so maybe try that?

I am certainly not going to complain about the presence of The Fall, though - particularly this track, recoded with the classic Scanlon/Hanley/Wolstencroft backing back (and Dave Bush, who I believe was the infamous Glastonbury 1995 streaker, appearing sans clothes during Elastica's last song). 

This track is from "The Infotainment Scan", their most successful album at least in terms of chart performance, hitting number 9 in the UK album chart, which also includes a cover of Sister Sledge's "Lost In Music".  The Fall do a surprisingly good line in covers for such an individual band, so maybe check that one out as well.


Carter USM were not a band I appreciated at the time, which is a bit of a shame; having "acquired" (borrowed, forgot to give back, moved to the other end of Britain - sorry, former workmate whose name escapes me!) their singles collection, "Straw Donkey", I probably should have been paying more attention to their sound and fury.

In my defence, they were pariahs by the time I started reading the weekly music press; cast aside in the same way that S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men were being treated a year or so later, to fit in with the sharp-dressed, sanitised, punk rock-free anti-grunge Britpop that was making mainstream inroads.

Again, I hate the British public.  (Please keep reading, though!)

Since having the chance to give them a listen, I find them entertainingly enraged - in this example, dually frustrated about modern life and the nature of fame - and whilst this particular song again appears to have been included simply for having "glam" in the title rather than any actual genre affiliation, it's good see any proliferation of their very individual and alternative sound - albeit one that was very much of its time.


Finally!  We've got to the trope namer.  And what a story we have here for the uninitiated...  Remember when we spoke of "Rock Follies" not so long ago?  Like that, times a kajillion.

(Cracks knuckles, gets to work)

The titular detectives were one strand of a...  I'm going to say sketch comedy, but I feel like the segments were large enough that they sort of transcended that.  It was more of a magazine format (and indeed, there was a one-off magazine), with big chunks of content designed to replicate the feeling of flicking through television channels.

This was relatively high-concept stuff by the usual standards of BBC Comedy at the time, with the obvious exception of "Red Dwarf", and I believe it was one of several pilots made at the time that got one or no series, possibly including "I, Lovett" and "Tygo Road". 

And you know what?  This is when I hate the internet - I can find nothing to corroborate or oppose these things that I may be misremembering from well over half my life ago, but I bet some bright spark will prove me wrong in four seconds flat once this is finished and published.

The show ran in 1995 and featured such leading lights of the time as Phil Cornwell and Doon Mackichan, but failed to set the world alight.  Therefore we were left with this, the theme tune from the show, extolling the virtues of funk and justice for all, as the major cultural artifact and proof of existence of what at the time was a potentially groundbreaking and heavily-hyped series (again, I think this was the case, remember I was quite young at the time).

And since it's the one we've been waiting for, why don't we take a quick break for some of that funk and justice?...  Is what I would be saying if I could find it on YouTube, but it's all just continuity.  What a let-down, after all that; half-remembered twaddle and no payoff.  Honestly, you might as well just come down the pub with me.


I did try looking this lot up, but most of the links I got were about violent fans at Euro 2016.  Hell, that's another popular search term right there!  Right, what else can we lie about featuring?  Justin Bieber?  Rickrolling?  Eve Myles' Tits?  We'll be packing in the Russian spambots tonight!

For the best part of twenty-five years I've been saying, "I must get into Saint Etienne at some stage".  And now here we are: in a situation where knowing anything about Saint Etienne (other than ripping off some facts from Tim Worthington's excellent book, "Higher Than The Sun") would be an absolute boon, and I know nothing.

Er...  Roll credits?

Join us next time for...  EARL BRUTUS?  Oh, ace!  We'll also be visiting with the God of Fuck, and the group who in retrospect are sadly this writer's pick for the most overrated Britpop band.  #it'll still be a good read, I promise!  Unless I accidentally delete it again, in which case you'll at least get a picture of a weasel.  Win win, mate.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Everybody Up! 18 - The U.S. Bombs Screaming Overhead


1. SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK "Love Missile F1-11"

Here we have a fascinating chapter in British musical history.  Formed by Tony James from Generation X after Billy Idol went fortune finding in the United States, this was a band like no other; a concept so totally, jarringly out of step with the earnest, grassroots alternative music of the day, yet too scary and weird for pop and too early to properly piggyback on hip hop and the resurgence of American dance music, they burned too bright, too fast.

Co-opting mass consumerism, early sampling techniques (with tons of uncleared samples, naturally), electronic manipulation of live sound, androgynous space-age outfits, "A Clockwork Orange", Cold War chic, rabble-rousing and maximum style over substance in a deliberate attempt to create a phenomenon, a movement, a moral panic, just ANYTHING that could increase the group's profile and generate sales. 

Their debut album had paid-for adverts in slots between the songs.  Gigs were often marred by violence.  They re-invented boastful myth-making and the grandiose statement, in a style later used by everyone from Oasis to These Animal Men.  They were perfect, and I should love them. 

But I don't. 

I wish I did.  But as it turns out, I like substance with my style, and all of their other songs were merely watered-down versions of their one true classic.  Luckily that classic is "Love Missile F1-11", as eventually (in a somewhat bizarre twist) covered by Bowie in 2003, thus closing the circle of glam.

One of the (no doubt uncleared) samples towards the end of the single version - as presented on this compilation, for the avoidance of doubt - runs thus: "soon, the whole world will know my name."  As the song fades out, you'll have just enough time to feel gutted that that never came to be for Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

2. HANOI ROCKS "Up Around The Bend"

Scandinavian rock time, and it's Finland we're visiting today.  Hanoi Rocks were a marvellously ill-mannered glam metal band, though sadly not detectives...  Though that's coming, oh yes, that is coming.

This was actually my first time listening to this band, whom I am familiar with in a relatively roundabout way: I am a fan of an article written by Carol Clerk for the Melody Maker which followed the group through a booze-fuelled tour of Israel during Passover, which is a contradiction in terms. 

It was originally published in the 16 April 1983 edition, which is some eleven years before I started reading the dear departed publication, but I read it in a brilliant compilation of chaotic interviews called "On The Other Hand, There's A Fist", given away free with the 19 October 1996 issue.  I recommend you check it out if you're able.

Where was I...  Oh, the song!  It's pretty damn good actually.  A Creedence Clearwater cover played with aplomb and obvious admiration, but not nearly as interesting as you'd expect from a band with a rhythm guitarist called Nasty Suicide (who is now a pharmacist, apparently).


I was about to ask why this wasn't "Temple Of Love", then I realised I'd still be listening to disk five for the first time if it had been.  So here is a shorter offering, albeit one still in keeping with their general modus operandi...  Which is odd in itself, as this is yet another cover version.

Even odder: it's a Hot Chocolate cover!  Which makes one wish they'd gone for "You Sexy Thing" instead, for maximum contrast.  In context, the story of a young lady's suicide after a lifetime of disappointment is far more appropriate for goth echoheads than cabaret-ready disco funksters, so perhaps it actually makes less sense the original way around.

Given that this is a song by a mid-eighties goth band on which you can practically here the dry ice being flooded into the venue, there's not much more to say here, so here's a Sisters Of Mercy Fun Fact: their drum machine runs an advice page on their website.  Hey, even moody sorts can have a laugh, y'know.

4. MORRISSEY "Glamorous Glue"

Here's our most controversial entry of the week - for it was during the performance of this song at Madstock  '92 that the infamous photo of Morrissey draped in a union flag was taken, later to be displayed on the cover of the NME as proof positive that he was a racist.  Bet he voted Leave, and all.  I'm not even going to get started with either of the debates I just foolishly brought up - I only mention it for historical context. 

Moving very, very swiftly on, this is brilliant stuff; a stomp, a romp even, if you will, sounding far more fun and hip-shakin' than the Morrissey/Smiths branding would ever suggest.  Plus there's a great bit where you get to shout "London is dead!" over and over, which is great for those of us in literally any other part of Britain.

Great run thus far.  Can't see how this could get any better...

5. SUEDE "Metal Mickey"

OH MY GOD IT'S SUEDE!  Here's one of my top five favourite bands ever with one of my top fifteen favourite songs of theirs.

(I got into them as a teenager.  There was a lot of list-making back then.)

If you were there, I won't have to describe for you the excitement of hearing Suede for the first time; you'll remember the electricity from the Brit Awards performance, bristling with contempt for the establishment, or you'll recall them standing out a mile from the baggy also-rans and the grunge hangers-on via early MTV adopters or on an ostensibly "alternative" Radio 1 broadcast.

Ignore for a second that the lyrics make no sense and that the title somehow makes even less sense, as I really can't be subjective about Suede, particularly not their first three albums - and the b-sides from the first two albums - all of which was nearly perfect except for "Starcrazy", which wasn't.  But that's one song on one album.

The only slight black mark on this offering, and the rest of their debut album, was that for a band that could have been the next Sex Pistols, the production style really filed the edges off of the spikier material, of which this is but a sample.  Still, this is very good stuff, and still crackling with revolutionary fire for anyone of a certain age and persuasion.

Join us next time for the entry you've all been waiting for: the one with the name of the blog strand in!  Plus we'll be checking in with Mark E. Smith, Carter USM and Saint Etienne.  You can't miss that one, surely?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Everybody Up! 17 - Covers (And Pete Burns) Up The Wazoo

15. ADAM AND THE ANTS "Antmusic"

When one speaks of acts whose music provides a lift to the stoniest of hearts, Adam And The Ants need to be in that conversation.  At present I am taking solace with "Prince Charming" in my darkest times, and whilst that's all well and good for my current situation, this one's a bit more of an upbeat toe-tapper.

This song is a spiritual UK number one, much like Ultravox's aforementioned "Vienna", except that instead of Joe Dolci being the target of our ire, "Antmusic" was kept off the top spot by one John Lennon, whose massively hypocritical, hateful and nauseatingly crass "Imagine" was fired to number one around that time.

This is a fact which, much like the song, makes me want to vomit blood out of sheer rage, but can easily be explained by the timing due to it being just post-Mark Chapman.  Having had the misfortune to want to have a life during the fallout of Princess Diana's death, I know the public loves mawkish sentiment just after the death of a treasured icon, so I can at least recognise the pattern of behaviour.

Er...  Hm, I've got a bit off topic there.  Apologies.  Before I subject everyone to my usual "Republic Now!  Royals Out!" rant, I'll swing back by Mr. Ant and his music.

So this song's bloody good, and like much of their output at the time, should probably be prescribed instead of/alongside Prozac for its sheer feelgood factor.  There is the palpable sense of challenge and danger that I seem to have mentioned quite a lot in recent posts, which definitely helps things along in terms of its personal relatability for me, but overall it's the sheer joy and glee that overarches everything that really marks out this period of Antmusic as a go-to for good times.

16. DEPARTMENT S. "Solid Gold Easy Action"

We'll be closing out disk four with three covers, the first two of which directly hail back to the days of glam, starting with this song originally popularised by T.Rex back in 1972.

This version was released in December 1980 as the B-side to Department S.'s debut single, "Is Vic There?"  I must admit to having had to do some reading about the band as frankly they weren't ringing any bells - in my defence, I would have been six months old when this was released, so I think I can be forgiven for that one - and have discovered a fascinating tale of a 'fake' band got out of hand, the legendary Guns For Hire, and how they segued into this group.  Well worth a read, but I won't nick it for this entry: find it instead here if you'd like.

It's a serviceable cover, close to but not entirely overlapping the original.  I also now want to watch "Department S", the late sixties ITC series from which the band took its name; it looks pretty good, and the episode synopses call "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" to mind, though from the little I have read I'm not sure if the earlier series was meant to be a spoof; in fact it would probably be funnier if it wasn't!

17. BAUHAUS "Ziggy Stardust"

And as night follows day, we seamlessly transition from Bolan to Bowie, and a cover of the (nearly) title track from what is arguably Bowie's most famous album by a classic 4AD goth band.  Dry ice very much akimbo in their usual work, then - and interestingly, it appears that in December 1980 (when Department S.'s "Solid Gold Easy Action" was about, remember?) they released a version of T.Rex's "Telegram Sam" as a single!  Small world, huh?

But we get this one instead, which brought them their highest charting single (number 15 UK, number 13 Ireland, pop-pickers!  Wait...  Has he been Yewtree'd yet?  I may have to withdraw that throwaway catchphrase).  I think the main accusation you can level at this effort is that it's entirely unnecessary; whereas Department S. did put a little of themselves into their effort, it seems like the opposite has happened here, and an attempt has been made to pitch the sound, vocal inflections and playing as close as possible to the original.

Which is, of course, a perfectly valid way of putting a cover version together, and you'll never find me saying otherwise - at worst it just leads to utter disposability, as has unfortunately happened here.  There is no reason for this song to exist outside of its existence itself; you can judge for yourself whether it therefore negates itself, or stands as a worthwhile artefact in its own stead.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure I can decide.

18. DEAD OR ALIVE "That's The Way (I Like It)"

And bringing proceedings to a fittingly perverse ending is this lot with a KC And The Sunshine Band cover because of course it is, why wouldn't it be?

If you've heard Dead Or Alive's most famous offering, the utter classic "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", you know what to expect.  It is, in essence, Pete Burns informing you in no uncertain terms that he's about to have sex with you and that there is little to nothing you can do about it, set to an extremely competent electronic backing with synth horn stabs a-go go.

And there will be horn stabs a-go go, as Pete has already made very clear.  I'm pretty sure the release of these songs counts as a form of foreplay for everyone in the world, and it's the best you're going to get; so just know that he's coming for you at some stage and it's not going to be a relaxing night.  Best just lie back and think of England; it'll at least be one to tell the grandchildren about.

I can't really get tired of Dead Or Alive doing what Dead Or Alive do, so this one gets a thumbs-up from me.  And this disk?  Pretty damn good.  A real tonic after a third disk that was a bit of a struggle, despite having some definite gems on there.  Join us next time for what should be an interesting one for me, and hopefully you - disk five, which drives us through the rest of the eighties in short order into the only bits I can offer any personal historical perspective on - the nineties, perhaps predictably followed by the early 2000s.

I'm pretty hyped for it - I hope you are too!

Join us next time for...  Hang on a minute, the non-italic guy's nicked my usual bit!  Well I shan't go quietly.  How best to respond to this?...  Ah.  Of course.  It's all so obvious.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Everybody Up! 16 - It Was A Shame How He Carried On

10. JUDAS PRIEST "Take On The World"

Unfortunately the only JP number I know well is "Breaking The Law", so I'm a bit lost for what to say here, other than noting that this is a very inspiring number with a rolling drum pattern that, when combined with the motivational lyrics about, well, taking on the world, definitely links it to glam as a genre and neatly brings in the sense of youth in revolt that every 'outsider' music genre since jazz has brought to the table.

It also sounds a bit like "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen, which unfortunately reminds me that Queen are a bit of a damning exclusion from this set; mind you I bet it costs a packet to licence their stuff, so maybe I won't naysay too loudly on that one.

11. BONEY M. "Rasputin"

Oh, I've been looking forward to this one.  I adore a bit of Boney M., me.  From "Daddy Cool" to "Rivers Of Babylon", it's nothing but a party with the blueprint for Milli Vanilli.

(Ouch - on a side note, I just looked up Boney M. creator Frank Fabian on Wikipedia.  Beholding that photograph is like staring at the Ark Of The Covenant.  I think I've gone insane.  View it at your peril...)

Never has the murder of a controversial Russian faith healer in the early 20th century been so danceable!  It sounds like everyone involved in making this had a huge amount of fun, non-participating "frontpeople" aside, plus it predicts Zangief's ending from "Street Fighter 2" pretty accurately, which will always be welcome. 

It deftly straddles the line between charmingly nonsensical and absolutely berserk, always carrying the whiff of danger without going full-blown "Crazy Horses" - not, of course, that there is anything wrong with "Crazy Horses", as we covered in an earlier entry; it's just that twice in five disks for that level of intensity is quite a stretch for the human brain.

In short, it's just so, so fun on a completely unintellectual level, and there's simply not enough of that about to enjoy these days.

12. GENERATION X "Valley Of The Dolls"

Are you ready?...  Oh, sorry; that was D-Generation X.  I've been watching too much Raw Is War from 1998 lately.  It makes my want to gesture repeatedly to my crotch, let fly with some outrageous innuendo and tell everyone I have two words for them, and then what those two words are.  I've got the former two down but our HR department tell me the latter is a sackable offence, so I'd best get back to the matter in hand.

So: enter Sir Billy Idol, perhaps the most perfect encapsulation of a rock star ever portrayed.  Sneeringly confident but impeccably pretty, full of piss and vinegar but still available and potentially tameable, a renegade you could take home to your mum (well, MY mum, anyway), and full of great tunes.

You cannot seriously sit there and tell me "White Wedding", "Dancing With Myself" and "Rebel Yell" aren't absolute class.  Well, you can, but I wouldn't hear you as I'm not there.  Which is probably for the best, as you'd only be subjected to much ranting if I did hear you.  So count yourself lucky, bub.  Unfortunately this one isn't quite as good as the aforementioned three, but it's still damn good.

And as a fan of Russ Meyer's film-making, it only remains for me to shoehorn in a plug for his magnum opus "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls" - the one with tits AND a plot, not that there's anything innately wrong with either element in isolation.

13. THE HUMAN LEAGUE "Rock 'n' Roll/Nightclubbing"

Another lesson in how to reference, but not feature, an excommunicated pivotal figure here.  The Human League's version of [redacted]'s 1972 single, as released on their "Holiday '80" EP as part of a medley with the not-yet-too-disgraced Iggy Pop's Berlin gem "Nightclubbing", is very much of their output at the time - driving, icy, flat yet exciting, stark and arresting.

The version of the latter is slightly more disappointing in the sense that it's almost handled with too much respect, and the apple doesn't fall far enough from the tree to make an interesting variation on the original - aside from some of the League's usual soundscape quirks, which aren't themselves that far from Bowie and Visconti's glacial take on the original, this is as close to a straight take as you're going to get.

Perhaps whereas "Rock 'n' Roll" sat so far outside of their scope in terms of instrumentation and execution, they had to have a proper go at bringing it into their space, "Nightclubbing" was more of a direct influence, and needing less work just naturally fell into its usual state.  Either way, it's not bad, and the juxtaposition of the two pieces certainly make for an interesting tonal shift - so probably better not to complain.

14. MAGAZINE "The Light Pours Out Of Me"

Well, this is a good run, isn't it? 

Howard Devoto was the original and best lead singer for the Buzzcocks, but gibbed them off after their first single to start Magazine, a more musically expansive band than the aforementioned (still really very good) combo, and with results like this you'd have to say he made the right choice; straight up punk rock isn't for everyone, after all, which I sometimes struggle to remember.

This is a great track, all told, and you can hear the glam in the shuffle of the drums and the insistence of the guitar riff.  In fact at this stage I am entirely convinced of the strength of early glam's influence on punk and new wave; before you had your Bay City Rollers and Muds and whatnot bringing the image into a more mainstream sphere, you had Bowie and Bolan as outsiders, plus Slade and Mott as hard rockers, and much of their style was carried forward in slightly more brutal fashion by the '76-'79 wave.

So really, this is all point proved on the part of the compilation itself.  And the tracks we've discussed in this entry may well be the best selection to show the wide ranging influence that glam had - we've touched on metal, disco, punk, electronica and new wave this week, and we're unlikely to see that kind of range again soon.  But there's still some real good tracks to come, so why not stay with us on our epic quest, given that it is nearly 80% done?  Seriously - I insist.

Join us next time for some ants.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Everybody Up! 15 - 1234!

5. RAMONES "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"

GO!  Yes, it is they - the dysfunctional non-family of mushroom heads, bringing their usual mix of fire, venom and sunshine.  What are they singing about?  Who cares!  Why on earth would that matter?  This is the first Ramones song I ever heard, and despite not quite being as immediately iconic as "Blitzkrieg Bop" it will always have a special place in my heart for that simple quirk of temporal fate.

I return to this track on a semi-regular basis - the last time during an almighty hangover inflicted by my team's 2014 Christmas Party, when it gave me the power to go straight out drinking again after a single yoghurt - and it is a semi-spiritual ritual for me, like returning to the primordial soup, or (and this is slightly more me, I think you'll agree) watching a repeat of a Michael Schumacher win.

On a final note, the greatest compliment I can pay them is this: when I listen to the Ramones - and I don't do as often as I should - it does not seem necessary for any other music or bands to exist.  It is a privilege to finally get to say that to a (slightly) wider audience.

6. THE RAH BAND "The Crunch"

"The Crunch", now, is it?  I remember when it was all "The Bump" around here...

The RAH Band are actually just one man: Richard Anthony Hewson (geddit?), who played all the instruments on this song but was better known as an arranger, including on some Beatles songs such as "The Long And Winding Road", for which he's probably much better known. 

There's apparently no synths on this, which is quite impressive given the range of sounds we have here.  Let's see what else they/he did...  Holy shit, did he do "Clouds Across The Moon" too?  I loved that one when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

(Goes off to listen to that instead)


Wow, where to start here?  So there was a television programme called "Rock Follies" - then "Rock Follies of '77", though I can never remember when they changed the name, ha ha - which followed a rock band called The Little Ladies, one of whom was played by Rula Lenska from "Resurrection of the Daleks"!...  And probably some other stuff...

Anyway, the soundtracks were written and produced by Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, lending yet more credence to its inclusion here.  They were not released under the Little Ladies moniker - mainly because they weren't real, I guess.  But the real surprise here is that this a pretty engaging tune, which definitely merits your ears' attentions.

So for all the slightly bizarre backstory, this is well worth a listen.  Funnily enough, a song written by professional song writers for performance by extremely talented session musicians is a recipe for general goodness.  Who could have seen that one coming?

8. ULTRAVOX! "ROckWrok"

Yes, that exclamation mark is factually correct.  For what we have here, well pre-"Vienna", is the John Foxx fronted version of the band that Midge Ure, who once played guitar for Thin Lizzy in a twist that I find endlessly fascinating and confusing, would later take to the dizzying heights of number two, kept from the top spot by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face".

On a side note, I hate the British public.

In fact this track is entirely Ure-free, and a lot more punk than the smoother electronic output they would become synonymous with thanks to the success of "Vienna".  There's also some naughty lyrics, which somehow didn't stop it getting played on Radio One - which nearly brings me back to Rage Against The Machine for the second week on the trot, so let's move on before someone waves a disapproving finger at me.

9. ACE FREHLEY "New York Groove"

Remember when I told you we'd be hearing from Hello again, sort of?  The prophecy has come to light, and all the planets are in alignment; that must be why The Spaceman has returned to rock 'n' roll all nite, and party ev-er-y day!!!...  Or, in this case, not.

From a period of Kisstory so luridly bloated that all four members released solo albums on the same day in 1978, this track was the only hit single to come out of it, and indeed Mr Frehley's album was marginally the most successful, so at least we're at the rich end of the affair. 

I haven't looked it up - I won't look it up, I don't feel the need to - but I confidently predict Peter Criss' would have been the least successful, as he was The Catman, and was therefore too busy shedding hair of the opposite colour to the garment I am wearing directly on to the garment I am wearing to record a quality album.

It's not the best in this selection - that's the Ramones, of course, as if I have to make that any clearer at this point - but it is a perfectly serviceable, well, groove, I guess.  Very strutty.  I'll take it.

Join us next time as we take a flick through (a) Magazine, Boney an M and...  Hm.  This particular conceit was ill-conceived.  Well...  Smell ya later, anyway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hear All About It: Code Break "Code Break EP"

Bloody hell - a post that ISN'T about glam rock?  Well, stranger things have happened.  And here's a bunch of reprobates who deserve a cock of your ear.

Liverpool is fast getting a reputation as the UK's go-to place for grassroots punk and hardcore music (yes, I hear you London; come back when I give a damn).  With a varied range of cheap, cheerful and friendly venues such as the awesome Maguire's Pizza Bar, Sound Food and Drink - when it reopens, anyway - and The Zanzibar Club, there's plenty of places for bands to carve out an identity in streets which echo (And The Bunnymen?) with the names of luminaries gone by: Big In Japan, Deaf School, The Crucial Three, Aeris Presley...  OK, maybe not the last one...

And right now we have The Down And Outs, The No Marks, Good Grief (the band, not the statement of frustration)...  White Blacula/Zombina And The Skeletones' horror stomp is still packing them in, whilst the masked destroyers that are Spanish Announce Team break the tables and Fort Baxter, despite perhaps not being the most outwardly punk rock of the lot of them, will be a name to watch for the future - they can hang with the best of them.  Also, Awesome Frankenstein's Monster are coming.  You heard it here first.

But today we speak of CODE BREAK.  Showing a heavy influence from the harDCore scene of '79 onwards plus Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and on into grindcore, whilst staying the right side of powerviolence (see?  I know my fucking subgenres!) and sugar-coasting the chaos with a deceptively melodic edge, they have much to say about the frustrations of modern life, as well as Billy Mitchell and wrestling.  And this is the perfect time for me to bring them to your attention, as they have merch to shill.

Pictured: some merch.

The "Code Break" EP features four tracks: the breathless stomp of "Into The Sea", the storming "Moving Targets", the downright berserk, furiously boiling "On Hold" and the classic quiet/loud dynamic of "The Last Stop".  Hear it - grab it - love it.  And come up and see them some time, it's a hell of a show.

You can catch Code Break at their Bandcamp page, and grab a CD or cassette (with free download code) of this EP while you can as supplies are limited, or download their earlier EPs "Brokedown Town" and "Falling Down" (great Michael Douglas pic by the way, lads!) here, or be their bezzy mates via The Facebook here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Everybody Up! 14 - You Know Her, With The Fish-Eating Grin


1. BLONDIE "Rip Her To Shreds"

"Fish-eating grin?  Is that really what you wanted to say?"


What does one expect from Blondie?  Being musical magpies who appropriated the best bits of every genre they came across, from punk, new wave and reggae to pop, disco, 60's girl group sounds and the nascent hip hop movement, it's pretty difficult to pigeonhole them, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say about a band.

Personally I don't think you can beat "Hanging On The Telephone", but here's a curio from their  early days, just after their first flush of success in Australia with the wrong song (don't ask; actually, no, do ask, it's a funny story).  It's a cool little tune, but my God: the lyrics.

This song consists of a single, total character assassination - in fact, character decimation would be more appropriate a term, so completely is this person carpet-bombed for their every trait, with every possible imperfection highlighted, explored, ridiculed and amplified.  I have long wondered who this was written about - A love rival?  A member of a rival band? A portmanteau of types they weren't keen on? - but I think there's little to gain for anyone by that being revealed.

A look at a more rough-and-ready, genre-appropriate Blondie here then - and absolute proof that you do NOT fuck with Debbie Harry, as she will rip you to shreds.

2. BE-BOP DELUXE "Ships In The Night"

I can honestly say this left no impression on me whatsoever.  I mean, I'm sat here listening to it now, and it's just not registering.  It's like it refuses to enter my ears, or if it does some part of my brain is refusing to process the sounds into anything tangible.

I suppose it's a little bit like...  No, I can't even do something that vague.  I was about to say it was third rate sub-Bowie, but I think that's just because I may have heard a saxophone, which reminded me of "Black Tie, White Noise".

Ah, there's like an ascending bit now!  Could be building to an exciting section...  Oh.  It's finished.

On the plus side, YouTube is now playing me "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" by Sparks.  That's a biiiiig tick right there.

3. THE RUNAWAYS "Cherry Bomb"

Now here is something very special indeed.  On face value and unheard you'd be forgiven for passing this one by.  After all, plenty of bands sing of teenage kicks and disenfranchisement, and some of them are even girls, shock horror!

But it is the sheer glee with which this is communicated that sets this apart from other anthems of transgression; it's infectious, it's giddy, it makes you want to disrespect authority and cut loose.  See, Zack De La Rocha?  THAT'S how you do it; po-faced rebellion is no rebellion at all, give me the thrill of unbridled, three-chord anarchy any day.

Apparently I'm not the only one with a soft spot a mile wide for this piece, as it has featured in everything from SUDA51's masterpiece of kitsch "Lollipop Chainsaw" to Marvel Comics' "Guardians Of The Galaxy", so to be fair you've probably come across it and formed an opinion already.  If you haven't, and you're looking for anything from simple punk thrills to an alternative feminist anthem, this is your good time, right here.


It was all going so well...  Another one I pre-scouted via vintage TOTP on BBC4 (are you watching?  You should be...), here are the ELO, previously known mainly to me through the Scarfo single "ELO", which actually has nothing to do with the ELO, other than being called "ELO".

Big glam points for these guys, as they used to include Roy Wood from Wizzard, though he was well departed by this stage.  This was also released before their magnum opus "Mr Blue Sky", which was released the year after and was the only good thing about "Love And Monsters" - so essentially we witness ELO between the bits where they would have interested me.

It's not really up my street, but it does show the sheer width of the vision that the band dared to conceive of.  There's nothing wrong with spreading your wings, and plenty right with reaching beyond conventional taste and style, so there's plenty for me to applaud here, even if I don't necessarily appreciate the product itself.

Phew, actually managed a proper post there!  Will wonders never cease?

Join us next time for a band that aren't a band, brothers that aren't brothers and Ultravox! that isn't Ultravox.  All this and nearly three more.  Well, two.  It's nearly three.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Everybody Up! 13 - OWWWWWW!

This instalment has been cancelled due to the loss of an entire article thanks to a slip of the fingers.  It would have included the following items:

* "Glass Of Champagne" by Sailor, a perfectly passable upbeat pop song that sounds a bit like a cut-price Roxy Music but features a really annoying pronunciation of the word "champagne";

* A quick chat about Ian Hunter's lengthy and fascinating career, including some speculation about whether much would have changed if Mott The Hoople had taken "Suffragette City" as originally offered rather than "All The Young Dudes" (the track on the disk is "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", by the way);

* A discussion of The Arrows' boring version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", and how Joan Jett's screaming on her version really livens up the dullest part of the song;

* A review of "Saturday Night" by Suede rather than "Saturday Night" by The Bay City Rollers, which is rubbish.

And that's disk three.  Disk four's pretty good though so amble back next week, by which time I may have regained the will to type.

Blah blah blah picture of a weasel:

Join us next time when we will be telling you why you do NOT fuck with Debbie Harry and segueing into the punk years with some belting girl power.  Seriously, it'll be way better than this post!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Everybody Up! 12 - And Party Ev-Er-Y Day

Before I start, I have to weigh in on the great debate that has rent Britain in twain over the last few weeks. 

People, good people that I know and love, on both sides of this cataclysmic divide are engaging in increasingly acidic and bitter attacks on each other just for their simple, one-word answer to a single question, leading to a fracturing of the public psyche on an unprecedented scale.

I mean it's really lucky that there isn't something going on that the Government wants to distract everyone from *cough* Tony Blair Iraq enquiry *cough*, so there's no harm done at present, but we need to heal this rift as quickly as possible, so we can continue to practice democracy and move as a force to keep our politicians honest, and remind them exactly who they work for.

And in response to those who have clamoured to hear what side of the fence I fall on - all three of you - and at risk of further stoking the fires, I say this, and only this:

Donuts are a breakfast food. 

Period.  Now let's come back together and move on, everyone.

9. KENNY "The Bump"

Tempting as it is to make a South Park joke here, we should at least try to give this song a serious, critical review, such as is deserving of all melodic works.

So, here we go with a Bay City Rollers b-side - oh, what a great start there - by a band originally called Chufff, and yes, as far a I can tell there was a third "f", who were apparently completely different to this before they were discovered by some songwriters who gifted them four hits.  And off they went, for a bit, and then they stopped.  The circle of life, there.

I find this particular offering pretty annoying.  Patterned after the dance fad of the same name, it doesn't seem to do much but extol the virtue of doing the bump, in a really patronising "look!  All the cool kids are doing it!" kind of way.  Well, I'm no conformist, so these guys can all just fade away.

By the way, you STILL haven't thanked me for linking you to The Exciters' version of "Tell Him" two posts ago.  You're fucking welcome.  That's the last time I help you out.

10. THE RUBETTES "Sugar Baby Love"

OK, I have two possible points of entry here:

1) The song "The Rubettes" by The Auteurs, which mentions this particular song in its mighty chorus, and was the first time I heard this song or band referred to.  When the song was used in an advert not long after, I was able to put two and two together and realise what I was listening to.

This makes this the second post in a row to mention a Luke Haines song.  Hello, Luke!  "British Nuclear Bunkers" was great, a real return to good form.  Could we please have an album of actual songs next time, though?  With no overarching concept or plot?  Cheers, mate!  Much appreciated.

2) In Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, near the fashionable Harajuku district, the rockabilly gangs gather each Sunday, be-quiffed and clad in black leather, dancing round their record players and trying to out-rocker each other.

When I was privileged to witness this unique culture collision, likely inspired by the American occupation of the country post-WWII, one of the gangs played this song.  I hope they were doing so ironically as the diabetes-inducing bubblegum pop really, really didn't fit with the image.

Which would you prefer?

11. FOX "Only You Can"

Now these are a band I've been interested in since I saw them on classic Top Of The Pops on BBC4 a few years ago; in fact if memory serves, they opened the first episode that was repeated on what was then Top Of The Pops 1976, with their then-top twenty hit "S-S-Single Bed", which was quite the earworm.

(As with all these things, memory might not actually serve and I could be totally wrong.)

Based on that, and this, they probably could have done better, with an innate instinct for a tune and  the never less than coquettish Noosha Fox out front, but...  Well, a number five hit isn't something to be sniffed at I suppose.  At least it was back then, anyway.  So...  Yay? 

You be the judge.  Frankly I'm still pissed too off about that Exciters affair to spoonfeed you.

12. KISS "Rock And Roll All Nite"

Alright, now we're talking!  Here's one of a handful of acts on here that I saw on the tracklist and went, "is this really glam?  I mean the outfits, for sure, but really, musically?"  And came out of it going, "Yes.  Yes, this works.  This is glam."

Plus: it's Kiss!  The world-famous spectacle from Detroit, Michigan!  The face-painted, bleeding, fire-breathing masters of bombastic stadium rock and splitting up a bit and replacing members, because they're just characters!  And, oh the characters: the terrifying Demon!  The cosmic Starchild!  The also-cosmic Spaceman!  And The Catman, who chases little balls of silver paper around the floor!

(There are two others but no-one really cares about The Fox and Ankh Wizard...  Ankh Man Egyptian...  Wizard Something...  Dude?)

Seriously, if you can't be moved by weapons-grade rock 'n' roll like this, you are dead, man.  Dead.  Even though I probably only get to properly party down ev-er-y couple of weeks in these twilight years, this is still a mandatory part of said soundtrack when the time comes around.

And now it's time for Battlestar Galactica Forum...  Where's me Cylon helmet?

Join us next time for a glass of champay-yin, why Joan Jett screaming like a harpy is the smartest move in rock 'n' roll and a Suede single from 1996.  Oh, I should be so lucky...  Wait, that was someone else.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Everybody Up! 11 - In Which We Say "Piss" An Awful Lot

5. BRYAN FERRY "The 'In' Crowd"

Byron Ferrari is BACK!  Shorn temporarily of Roxy Music, this is Bryan committing full-on, all-out, balls to the wall to his lounge lizard persona - a bit of an odd jump for the undeniably working class miner's son, and therefore one that needs this level of absolute commitment; living the gimmick, like a suave, sophisticated Undertaker.

Once again this is a cover, which shows how many of the iconic songs of this era were repurposed from older days, but it's made so much the artist's own that I find it impossible to associate it with anyone else.  Mind you, Ferry was really pumping out the covers at this stage; indeed, his first two solo albums are entirely composed of covers, which would be an unusual step nowadays.  Back then?  Not so much.

The only further thing I would say is that it's an odd inclusion given we could have had another Roxy Music one on here instead - "Love Is The Drug", anyone?  Or do I just like that because Kylie covered it? - but by odd, by no means do I mean unwelcome.

6. PATTI SMITH "Piss Factory"

Get down and get with it, for this uptempo toe-tapper about...  Erm...  A urine manufacturing plant?  OK, whatever.

Given that this is piss-weak performance poetry - hey, maybe that's what the factory was manufacturing?  I mean, she *did* work there and all - I nodded off a couple of times throughout and thought it best to have a read of the lyrics.  And my interpretation thereof comes down, in essence, to this:

* Patti has a job;
* Patti does not like the job;
* Patti wishes to tell her superiors to stick said job;
* Patti is moving to New York to be a star.

Well, good for Patti.  Fingers crossed for Patti.  Patti can also fuck right off.  I'm bloody sick of hearing creative types banging on about escaping the nine to five - Sleater-Kinney were the last band to annoy me with that behaviour, and their records have been banished to the 'Never Play' list.

Because whilst some may hear this as a clarion call, an example to impressionable young minds to jack it all in, move to a now-unsustainable life in a huge urban sprawl and try desperately to be noticed, an ant in a pile of identical ants, I only see the intense patronisation of the 'normal' human life in a capitalist society; the idea that they're all squares, wage slaves, salarymen and women, propping up the machine, maaan.

Some of us don't have the opportunity to leave the piss factory, Patti.  Still more only get as far as the piss office or the piss shop.  A few of us run our own piss businesses, some get stuck on the piss dole, a lucky few might get enough piss qualifications to go and work at the piss hospital or fly a piss plane.  And none of them are any better or worse than you, in your piss band with your pretentious poetry and your eventual pop sellout.

And the song?  Well, that's the only thing that isn't piss in this whole affair.  It's shit. 

Ahem.  Rant over.  Time to get off my piss soapbox and back to the music.

7. COCKNEY REBEL "Tumbling Down"

A much more engaging and heartfelt entry than when last we joined them just two short posts ago (keep up, slowpokes!), "Tumbling Down" is sonically much closer to the one Cockney Rebel song everyone remembers, "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)", although by the time that was recorded the band was shorn of most personnel aside from Steve Harley.

I thought I had heard this light, dramatic, mournful offering before, but couldn't place where.  Turns out it's one of the songs they used in flop glam retrospective drama "Velvet Goldmine", for the 'Bowie' character who isn't Bowie because he refused to let them use his name or songs.  Nice to know someone profited from that particular opportunity!

8. THE GLITTER BAND "Angel Face"

"#Gary Glitter, he's a bad bad man/ruining the reputation of The Glitter Band..." - Luke Haines, "Bad Reputation"

Ah.  It seems, both inevitably and unfortunately, that we have reached the point where we can no longer avoid dredging up that name.  A bold choice by the compiler then, though we must bear in mind that The Glitter Band (formerly The Glittermen, latterly The G Band) were the person in question's live backing band only, with the records being handled separately to all members save occasional interjections from the horn section.

And you know what, this song isn't bad at all.  It's very glam-by-numbers, but in doing so it hits all the right places - it may be overtly familiar as a genre piece, but it's a superior offering, clearly made by more-than-competent musicians, so it's never a chore to listen to.

But let this be a lesson to all of us to choose your friends, and where possible your collaborators and colleagues, very carefully - lest you be caught in the fallout of fatally toxic reputational damage.  Still, "Goodbye My Love": it's a hell of a record...

Join us next time for some foxy goings-on, a ton of greasepaint and an example of the Japanese getting it very, very wrong.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Everybody Up! 10 - The Jook's On You


1. SPARKS "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us"

Now, THIS is music.  Genuinely startlingly fantastic - although some of that startling comes from the gunshot sound effect right near the start, that after so many listens as to count as near-infinite, I still for some reason am not ever expecting, causing me to leap out of my skin in public on a regular basis, to my eternal embarrassment.

The music twists, turns and trills through a number of genuinely unexpected and compelling episodes, with Russell Mael's voice soaring majestically above it, conveying the snowballing desperation of the protagonist.

Anyone who thinks pop music cannot be ambitious, intelligent or challenging needs to have this injected into their brain as abruptly as possible; for that is exactly what this is: pop with a brain, heart and balls, streets ahead of today's non-stop parade of hyper-sexualised R and/or B.

There's every risk our children's children will never experience the rush of hearing new music with this heady combination.  Surely, we can't let things go this way?  Surely better heads must prevail, and turn back the tide of disposable pop?

In short: won't somebody please think of the children?

2. HELLO "Tell Him"

Is there a less imaginative band name than this?  (Yes: "The Band", you fucking idiot - Ed)

Heralded by about the most identikit glam rock intro ever, this is a cover of a 1963 song by a band by the name of The Exciters.  And...  It's OK.  It's a good song, but maybe the performance and the sideways shift into a very regimented glam rhythm has damaged it a little, as the original song is actually pretty damn good, but really suits the more spacious arrangement, and this just doesn't work quite as well.

In fact, why not just listen to the original.  You can thank me later:

Here's one for you, though: we'll be hearing another Hello song later, but not their version thereof.  See if you can spot it.

3. MUD "Tiger Feet"

Now here's a track you'll often find on glam/70's/classic rock/dad compilations, so it's only appropriate that I type this on Father's Day.  Hello, Paul, if you're reading this.  I'm going to wager that you don't like this song.

If I'm rambling on about things other than the song, you'll already know that I have naff all to say about this one.  I think it's due to the repeated inclusion on compilations, and television programmes about the best and worst of the 70's, that I'm suffering from Tiger Feet apathy, unable to add anything of interest about it - we all surely know there was a special dance, for instance.

So I'm going to rip off the fact from the (very nice, classy) book that accompanies the compilation, as it's quite an interesting one: the song was written by glam rock writers de jour Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, keeping another of their songs (The Sweet's "Teenage Rampage") off the top spot, and eventually being replaced by "Devil Gate Drive" - performed by Suzi Fruit-Flavoured Carbonated Drink, but written by, you guessed it, Chinn and Chapman.  There's nice for them.

4. THE JOOK "Bish Bash Bosh"

I'm not familiar with the kind of thing I just typed; I don't even know those words, but in a different order...  Well, maybe "bash".  So I've experienced something new today.  Usually good when that happens.

OK, let's dive in with both feet...  "#She's sweet sixteen"?  Well that's a bit of a bad first line, particularly in context of later events.  That the ensuing song appears to be about "easy" girls really doesn't help its case, and the sub-Status Quo racket that accompanies it fails to snap, crackle and pop in any meaningful way.

This does appear to be considered a 'proto-punk' record in hindsight, but it fails to chime with me I fear; however, to give us an excellently odd full circle moment, it appears that two members of this band went on to join - wait for it - Sparks!  So that town really wasn't big enough for both of them...  (cymbal crash, groans)

Join us next time when, having executed our closing joke-writers, we will meet Byron Ferrari once again, visit a piss factory and try not to mention you-know-who.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Everybody Up! 9 - In Which Bowie Is Covered, Yet Again

16. ALVIN STARDUST "My Coo Ca Choo"

Now here's a name you never see anymore.  Dare I say that, as one of the people most synonymous with the genre, he may have been a victim of the public's extremely justified horror around the actions of a fellow high-profile glam rocker.

It is a shame really, as Mr Stardust - not that one - was a magnetic figure at the time, and actually did good business on the nostalgia circuit up until his inevitable end.  Ignoring for a second that this record isn't actually performed by him (apparently he wasn't the first Alvin Stardust OR the first Shane Fenton), it is an iconic hit that will forever be associated with the man himself, whoever in fact he is.

I am therefore happy to report that this is a cracking tune.  A great little groove here, admittedly repetitive, but when you have bare bones this good there's no point in shoving extraneous sections in to make it more 'interesting' - it's interesting enough as it is.  More like this, please!

17. LULU "The Man Who Sold The World"

Alright, let's be as fair as we can be about this: this version was about as Bowie-endorsed as it possibly could be, so there was some quality control going on.  The public certainly liked it, the single peaking at number 3 in the UK.  And - importantly - it's better and less disposable than Dana Gillespie's "Andy Warhol" from two entries ago.

The main problem isn't even that the Bowie version is better, although at the time arguably not better known, than this one; it's those bloody Nirvana scamps who retrospectively made a rock for this version's back.

For when a certain blue-eyed, charmingly vulnerable, unwilling poster boy for a somewhat greasy-haired generation gazed up into the camera, acoustic guitar on lap (though it was creating a suspiciously fuzzbox-ish sound at the time), and a hundred thousand hearts broke for the tragic creature for whom fame was just too cruel, Lulu's version was pinned with a 3rd place ribbon and handed its metaphorical coat.

Does the job, though.  And it's better than Midge Ure's version.

18. MICK RONSON "Growing Up And I'm Fine"

In recent documentaries about the end of the Spiders From Mars, it was said that Mick Ronson was, if not in on it, then at least aware of Bowie's planned announcement of the end of the band that fateful night at the Hammersmith Odeon.  He was allegedly asked to keep quiet on a promise that his career would get the Bowie treatment next - the sky's the limit, fame and fortune, and so forth.

For whatever reason that didn't quite work out, to the point where even a Bowie obsessive such as myself had not found his output high-profile enough to have a listen to.  Reader: based on this evidence, I was a fool.  A fully justified, extremely handsome fool.

It's brilliant, to the point where my jaw legitimately dropped on first listen.  From the low-key piano intro, through Ronson's tale of moving on from his years as a teenage ne'er-do-well with the power of love, into a stomping chorus worthy of the closing titles of...  Something.  Anything, surely - this is sheer, unadulterated class.  Seek it out.

19. COCKNEY REBEL "Judy Teen"

In an odd phenomenon that often happens when I listen to music of a certain vintage, I spent a fair while wondering what this had ripped off that I already knew, and realised it was two songs that were released after this one!  Bloody time, eh?  Flexing like a whore... 

(Hang on, that's not on this album.  Damn.  It should be.)

The verse of this song that is essentially Adam And The Ants' "Prince Charming" with a slight calypso lilt, and there are shades of the vocal delivery in These Animal Men's "New Wave Girl", probably my least favourite song by that particular combo.

It's a bit of a whimper to end a disk on, and one that's been pretty damn solid all in all.  However we will be hearing from Cockney Rebel again soon, one of only two complete acts to make two appearances (T. Rex being the other), so they will have a chance to atone for their mediocrity.  Otherwise I can think of a certain Rock 'n' Roll Hall that will be accepting them very soon.

End of Disk Two! At this point we're largely through the "pure glam" section, and with approximately 60% of the collection left, we've doubtlessly got a few surprises coming up.  So please join us, why not, for the next instalment!

Disk two is in the books!  Join us next time for the start to disk three, which features "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" by Sparks.  And nothing else it contains can possibly matter, as it features "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" by Sparks.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Looks Unfamiliar - Hear Me Speak!

Looks Unfamiliar is the new podcast from writer and broadcaster Tim Worthington, where he discusses things that his guests think are obscure enough that only they have experienced them.  He was nice enough to ask me to do one, and lo and behold, Episode 2 duly features me. 

So like an Action Man with a pulled string, I can be found making noise here.  Amongst other things I discuss a unfairly-shelved crisp flavour, an insensitive wrestling faction and a range of toys with absolutely terrifying implications.

Despite me showing my control of the internet by linking straight to the source, you should also go to the index of The Benatical, TV's Ben Baker's home of quality audio produce, because you might just see other things you like on there. 

And you will - New Chart Riot with Ben and Phil Catterall is a...  Well, a riot, for a start.  And whilst not (currently) seasonally appropriate, Ben and Tim's Advent Calendar is a similar rush.

So get over there, and have a look.  Go on, it won't kill you!*

* = not a guarantee.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Everybody Up! 8 - You Can Miss This One Out If You Want

11. COZY POWELL "Dance With The Devil"

I'll level with you, I am not looking forward to this little run.  There will be a LOT of Wikipedia'ing required here, and the result will look every bit as half-arsed as it actually is.  I'm happy for you to wait this one out and tune back in next week - seriously.  I'll wait for everyone to file out...





Right, here goes nothing.

Featuring an intro that always annoys me, as if I'm only half listening I think it's "Rasputin" by Boney M, which is a song that is better than this song by an amount that the English language simply doesn't have a word for, this also contains huge chunks of Jimi Hendrix's majestic "Third Stone From The Sun".  Oh, and apparently Suzi Fruit-Flavoured Carbonated Drink is the bass player on this track, but that might be Wikipedia pulling my leg again.

The problem with this is that it's all utterly, utterly unnecessary - if I wanted to listen to something that had the riff from "Third Stone From The Sun" on it, I'd listen to "Third Stone From The Sun".  Actually, I do.  I do want that.  So that's exactly what I'm going to do.  See you in seven minutes.

12. DAVID ESSEX "Rock On"

Rock off.  I'm still listening to Hendrix.

13. WIZZARD "Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad)"

Ah-ha!  The classic sound of Christmas.  Yule logs, turkey with all the trimmings, hanging up your stockings on the wall - hang on, that's the other one - Meccano under the tree, rationing, the three-day week, Apple Macs, the workhouse, "here's Hurst, he might make it three. He has! He has - so that's it.  That is IT!", Australia's stolen generations, Hungry Hungry Hippos, "Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens"... (NOTE: your childhood Christmases may vary)

What do you mean, it's not that one?  What do you mean, it's a classic example of how pop culture was already riffing on the fifties when it had only just finished?  What do you mean, it appears to contain several bars of the theme tune from "Red Dwarf", years before "Loving The Alien" did the same?  And it was replaced at number one by "Eye Level" - the theme from "Van Der Valk"?

Ah, nuts.  I can't catch a break today.

14. ELTON JOHN "Bennie And The Jets"

FINALLY!  A track I'm more than familiar with (cheers, mum), and more importantly, an artist I don't bloody have to research!  Right, the gloves are off - here we go with a classic piece of writing.

The artist known as Elton John was born Harry Rodger Webb in India on 14 October 1940. 
In 1948, the Webb family moved to Carshalton, where young Elton became interested in skiffle music.

He entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to "become a real musician", joining a jazz-rock group in West Berlin, and playing in the Austrian bands Spinning Wheel and Hallucination Company.

In 2003 he was given a race seat at Jaguar, but after disappointing in the role he lost his seat to Justin Wilson and returned to Williams as a test driver.  Here he would find his greatest success, whilst filling in for injured drivers Ralf Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld over the course of the next two seasons, gaining a career total of eight points.

Since then he has found some success as a comedy actor, most natbly in two seasons of "Hyperdrive", and was most recently seen by cinema audiences in 2016's "The Huntsman: Winter's War".  And somewhere in the middle of all that he released "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Crocodile Rock" and "I'm Still Standing", all of which are better than this over-long piece.

(And I mean both the song and this awful attempt at comedy.  A point to anyone who can identify all of the people I'm actually talking about.)

15. BARRY BLUE "Dancin' (On A Saturday Night)"

I'm sure Barry Blue was the name of a novelty elephant-themed dessert available at Masterchef on Renshaw Street, Liverpool.  Anyone else remember that incredibly specific reference? 


Well you can all fuck off, then. 

Seriously, can you not just pretend to take an interest in my life?  It's always you, you, you (and also some glam rock reviews).  I have feelings!  I am a man!  I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does!

Actually, that gives me a great idea - I'll listen to "How Soon Is Now" instead of this garbage.

Our apologies for this frankly substandard instalment of "Everybody Up!".  By way of compensation, we present this picture of a weasel:

Please don't be discouraged from joining us next time when, after a heavy dose of happy pills, your esteemed writer will return to plunge a dagger into the heart of disk two.  This will feature a great track by one of music's greatest lieutenants, and... Some other stuff.  Peace out!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Everybody Up! 7 - Of The Can, And How To Can It

6. DANA GILLESPIE "Andy Warhol"

Jesus.  I came back for this?

Now, you may think I'm calling automatic Bowie Blasphemy on this one.  It's not the case that I criticise Bowie covers without prejudice - I've just had my head blown off by Girl In A Coma's version of "As The World Falls Down", for instance, and I don't even like that song when Bowie does it - but this one adds many, many bells and whistles, which only serve to take away from the beautiful simplicity of the original. 

In other words, the very worst kind of cover version.  Mind you, Bowie himself is producing and Mick Ronson (more on him very soon) is playing guitar, so they must have approved on some level.  Perhaps the contrast between the two versions would be found interesting and admirable, but... 

Ah, I just don't get it.  That's probably the kindest way to put it.  I think knowing that the song was in some way an expression of Bowie's disappointment at meeting someone he admired very much and having a poor experience means that dressing this in the gaudy baubles of pop just leaves me a bit cold.

7. SUZI QUATRO "Can The Can"

Not to be confused with the 1980's mixed fruit flavoured carbonated drink of (half) the same name - yes, we all enjoyed a tin of Suzi back in the day oh my God did I really just crack that joke that was utterly pathetic - this is arguably Ms Fruit-Flavoured Carbonated Drink's best remembered offering.  Well, this or "Devil Gate Drive".

Leaving aside for a minute whether the song is good or not, it does raise the question of how one cans a can, and whether it is, in fact, advantageous to do so.  "Canning" foods in a metal vessel that, in the UK anyway, is usually made of tin, helps to preserve the freshness and edibility of the contents.  So we have two possible interpretations here:

1) that to "can the can", one must place a tin can inside another tin can;
2) that to "can the can", one must place a tin can full of food inside another tin can.

I think option 2 is more is more plausible, given that there's little point in preserving an empty tin can - unless goats took over the Earth, and wanted to keep the metal that they would be eating fresh by encasing it in other metal.  Though being goats, they'd probably just eat both.  And anyway, goats haven't taken over the Earth.  Goats taking over the Earth?  We're trying to have an intellectual conversation here.  Stop being silly.

Now, what would the motivation behind double-canning an already-canned foodstuff be?  One has to think that there could only be two of these as well:

1) a boost in preservation power;
2) increased security.

Again, we can rule one of these out immediately.  Anybody that can get into one can possesses the technology to get into two; unless someone's invented some kind of super security can, with lasers or something.  And that's a stupid idea.  Why did you come up with that idea, idiot?  We're having a serious conversation here about canning cans, and you're bogging me down with some nonsense about security cans?  Just...  Just drop it, OK?

So there you have it: by a process of elimination, canning the can involves boosting the preservative power of a tin can of food by placing it into another can.  Perfectly sensible; no goats, no security cans (security cans - pah!), nothing but the very sensible idea of canning canned food.  And by a scientific process of elimination, that's what this song must be all about!

Oh yeah, it's quite good as well.  But "Devil Gate Drive" is better, so they should have put that one on instead.  Then we wouldn't have had to have that whole business about what canning the can is.

8. THE NEW YORK DOLLS "Looking For A Kiss"

Unlike my excoriations of Lou Reed, my criticisms of The New York Dolls are underpinned with a certain melancholy.  I should like this band - why don't I?  When I heard their reputation and read of their antics, I felt certain I would like them; I feel like I've failed myself in some way by not doing so.

I like plenty of image-over-music, ramshackle, arguably tone deaf, confrontational and heavily made-up bands.  If I didn't like those qualities, I'd be unable to appreciate such of my heroes as These Animal Men, Billy Childish, Guitar Wolf, S*M*A*S*H or Manic Street Preachers - and that's clearly not the case.

Maybe it's because I know what came next - that they were about to be beaten at their own game of spectacle and establishment-baiting by the original UK punk scene, and even some of their US counterparts.  For whatever reason though, they have failed to get under my skin.

Which means the only question I can really answer is: where does this stand in the huge category of The Three Songs I Know By The New York Dolls?  And the answer is: second.  Worse than "Trash", better than "Jet Boy".

9. NAZARETH "This Flight Tonight"

Scottish band Nazareth may not be quintessentially glam, but you can't deny there are sections of this offering that definitely show the hallmarks thereof; the chugging, insistent rhythm, the breakdown with handclaps, the talk of falling stars and starlight and whatnot.

Therefore what we have here is not so much a glam artefact per se, then, but a driving piece of classic rock, and one which fits in surprisingly well.  It's also a Joni Mitchell cover, which is a bit of a surprise, as it's certainly up to rockin' speed here.  My only complaint?  It's a bit anonymous in this company, suffering by association with better suited and realised pieces nearby. 

Which brings us nicely up to...

10. SWEET "Ballroom Blitz"

Or Tia Carrere's best song from "Wayne's World", for people of my ever advancing age...  On a slight tangent, a recent rewatch of said film showed me that the band The Jolly Green Giants can be spotted leaving the stage at the club, actually dressed as the outsized sweetcorn-shilling mascot.

See, who needs new things?  Old things are best.

Anyway: what a tune.  Approaching - but not matching, for what could - the sheer mania of "Crazy Horses" with its tale of a concert audience turning horrendously savage, it has a great combination of shoutability and a feeling of it being very barely controlled itself, making the music a great match for the message.

And what of Tia Carrere?  She managed to piggyback on Lara Croft-mania by playing a suspiciously familiar stereotype of a female action archaeologist in a show called "Relic Hunter", which if you were jobless in the early 2000s you may have seen far too much of on Sky.  If you take anything away from this review let it be this: it's really frustrating when you enjoy a song but have little or nothing to say about it.

So far, nearly all good for disk two so far then; much cause for optimism which I'm sure is well founded.  Goodnight, America!  Great to be back!

Join us next time for...  What?...  Who?...  (sigh).  This won't be a good one.  I don't mind if you skip it.  The one after's got Alvin Stardust though, so don't miss that!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Godawful Small Affair: Twenty-Six "Blackstar"

"BLACKSTAR" (2016)

THE COVER: I wish I could present this without further comment, but for the sake of continuity it's worth noting that the vinyl version is actually black on black.  It's so black, it's like, "how much more black could this be?"  The answer is none.  None more black.

A confession: I did not expect to be writing this.  I assumed "The Next Day" was a retirement album, one last jolly before liberating obscurity.  Then unexpectedly - and perhaps now in context, suspiciously - a new, extremely confusing ten minute single was released.
We now know that the new, less conventionally-structured songs on this album owe much to Bowie's decision to work with musicians who were more familiar with jazz than pop, meaning that the natural constraints of rock music are lifted, and the listener is offered a more challenging yet equally rewarding experience.
I didn't listen to "Blackstar" the song more than once before the album came out, figuring I didn't have to; buying the album was my default position, what I had heard was at least enough to convince me it was more interesting than, say, "Tonight", so there really wasn't much point.

What I can say about it is that I thought it was essentially throwaway pretension on the first listen and got that quite wrong; it's a grower that has at least three genuinely great moments in, moments earned by the journey that gets you there and that justify the sheer length of the piece, which remains an anomaly in rock or pop music.  I also find it helps to think of it as three separate movements; indeed its closest touchpoint in the oeuvre is probably "Sweet Thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet Thing (Reprise)" from "Diamond Dogs".
So track one's in the bag.  What else have we got?  Well, "'Tis a Pity She Was A Whore" is my particular favourite - but then it would be; whilst much of the album takes obvious cues from Bowie's unfairly maligned nineties output (the unrestrained saxophony of "Black Tie White Noise", the pummelling intensity of "1. Outside", the joyous, scrambling beats of "Earthling"), this is a track you could easily drop onto any of those albums.
"Lazarus", now lent new context (we're getting to that), "Dollar Days" and closer "I Can't Give Everything Away" are the more classically Bowie tracks, in so far as he has a classic sound; they ring with the confidence of "Heathen" and "Reality", but shorn of the more traditional cladding of those albums they fly with the abandon of the new, sounding as vital as any of his material has.

The one slight here - the "TVC15" of the album, if you will - is "Girl Loves Me", which is partially sung in a combination of invented languages.  It has been criticised in some areas of the press for containing swearing, about which I really couldn't care less; I just think it's a slightly less interesting and more repetitive trudge through the musical themes of the album.  Much like "TVC15" though, I bet Bowie was well pleased with it.

All in all the album was far more exciting and forward-looking than you would expect of any 69-year old's artistic output, and left us all wondering was next, and what, if anything, was there left to achieve?  That's the funny thing about life, though: as long as you're still alive, there's always one thing left to do.

And so this time we really do come to a rather final halt; no new albums will there be, no rumoured demoes will I countenance, no further entries for Extra Credit, no peachy prayers, no return for the Thin White Duke.

Which means I should probably try and have a stab at putting my personal admiration for David Bowie into a few inadequate words.  Where do I start with this one?

Firstly I would say that I haven't ever seen so many people that I care about be so perturbed by the passing of a stranger.  I think the reaction to Michael Jackson's death was probably fired by more people, as he was the larger international star, but in terms of people that I specifically share relationships with this was a real hammerblow.

Obviously people react to this in different ways; I and my contemporaries Tim and Ben are blogging.  Another friend put on a tribute night that amped up the attendees to the point the police were called.  Many have taken to social media to express a dislike of cancer.  Whilst I may feel the latter sentiment can go assumed and unexpressed, it's a valid way of assimilating the news, and yet more proof of its wide reach.

Secondly I would say that part of the reason his death has such resonance, and particularly in close proximity to releasing an album this eclectic and future focused, is that there is a genuine fear that there won't ever be another artist like David Bowie; someone who is left largely to his own devices by the recording industry to the extent that he is able to repeatedly inspire consecutive generations of people by adjusting his focus, rather than being encouraged to stick to a familiar formula that can be marketed in a set way.

Frankly, I personally think that this is the case, due to the changes in the industry since the sixties; the immediate post-Beatles landscape legitimised experimental and chameleonic acts, but the return of the rock dinosaurs post-Live Aid, the culture of big band reformation and how it has almost split the industry into two parts, not to mention the Internet, which has freed artists to be heard but also freed them from any hope of making any bloody money out of it, limits the possibility of this happening again.

But then again, I'm getting old.  I wouldn't know the new Bowie if I saw it, as I'd be too busy deriding it for not being the old one.

Finally, it's made me realise how inextricably Bowie's music has been woven into my life, and how many of my significant memories are tied in to it, including of course seeing him in person at Phoenix 1996 (full-on Outside era noise with some classics thrown in for good effect) and Glastonbury 2000 (all-out greatest hits, with a particular focus on "Station To Station" for no apparent reason).

Then there's the first dance at my wedding ("Let's Dance", obviously); the time I performed "Starman" in Karaoke Bar Champion on the outskirts of Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Tokyo; the many Bowie covers of popular beat combo The Eighteenth/Desperate Living, including but not limited to "Jump They Say" and "Heroes"; singing harmonies on "Space Oddity" with my mother shortly before leaving home; or any of a hundred heated debates at Orme Watch HQ.

Essentially in closing, I apologise for my hypocrisy.  For years I have said that we shouldn't be sad when an ageing celebrity who's had what appears to be an excellent life dies.  However: now I am sad.  But good lord, what a legacy to celebrate, and I'm glad I got a chance to do it in some small way.