Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Out of the Acne

I have recently acquired all my previously deleted blogs from the evil empire of Myspace after they deleted every remaining good thing about their site a while ago. I am uploading them steadily, all correctly backdated, to here:

Before I had access to them, I remembered these blogs as being prime examples of the effervescent wit you only get from 17 year olds and better than anything I ever did here on this site, which is basically dedicated to me repeatedly emphasising to you what a big softie I am through vaguely rare soul and disco records and flowery writing. In reality, of course, the myspace blogs are the self-absorbed jeers from the back of the class of someone who needs you to know they listen to Bjork and is genuinely impressed by a missy elliott/le tigre mashup.

Odd things stand out like some (I stress some) of my points about punk, but most of it I don't agree with anymore. Nowhere is this truer than the horrifying rant against Westwood, who I now think of as the best example of the Romantic ideal of becoming whoever you want since Lawrence of Arabia.

I will probably start a new blog soon,


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Prose poem about the post-modern, post-ironic crisis inherent in a Jools Holland appearance.

the unending strain of trying to do something truly anarchic and spontaneous in our slot on later with jools holland. it never leaves us.

noise solos dont even work cos he has like jazz shit on all the time and so it's just normality to him.

how do we make the man sweat, is it really impossible

i could wear an eccentric dress

you could sing along despite not having a mic, like it's one of your fav songs and you'd sing along no matter what you were doing

it never leaves us

can't trash the stage; too obvious, contrived.

the stage is a prison and we can never be truly free. never fly. jools our overlord and protector.

like feudal peasants we both love and resent our paternalistic ruler, but we lack the means to rebel.

we resign ourselves to fate, for now: the opening single-chord collaboration intro. we pretend it's our own choice

but in the back of our minds the guillotine looms large.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Of course love, mood-enhancing drugs, sensual delights; these can all make us very happy indeed. But really all we want is reggae cover versions of our favourite pop songs, let's be honest. And it's instumental so you add your own silly-voiced 'awwwwh juh temm's as you gambol on the carpet.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Stars Down to Earth

I saw Drive last night. I thought it was good and don't really understand the 'best film ever' hype, but it coincidentally tied together some thoughts I've been having recently in an almost profoundly neat way and I might as well write about it.

When I saw the poster for Drive, I said 'wow I hope it's a film based entirely around the Cars song.' Cos I futtin' LOVE that song:

I was basically right in my prediction (any moment in the film could be soundtracked by the above), but it also uses music in some pretty neat ways which linked several thought chains I've had on the go recently.

Firstly, it uses italo disco as the stylistic anchor for the film. People talk about its 80sness and what they're talking whether they know it or not about is the retro echoes of italo disco. Most movingly, it uses Desire's Under Your Spell:

But that's not their best song though it is of course boss. This is:

That synth riff bopping up and down like a hyperventilating chest.

What did hit me about Drive was that only the morning before I watched it I was day-dreaming about night-driving.

Driving aimlessly at night is so obviously the most romantic thing two people can do together, it's obscene. Just as kissing is better than sex for its manifest pointlessness, so driving is better than dinner because of its vagrant absurdity.

'Do you wanna go for a drive?'

Two people, looking not at each other but straight ahead, hands on thighs. One person in control, the other a willing passenger, unknowing and uncaring of destination- that's what love is.

I come from an area of the world rich in transport links. Trod up the hill to 'churchies', the field next to St Laurence's where my parents got married, and you look out at the marshland corrugated by line after line of means of moving; first a railway line, then the M56, the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey, and finally the runways of Liverpool airport. By any means, the North West is rich in ways to get about, not least Motorways:

I live pretty much where it says 'M56' there on the left. That's me.

The M56, Queensferry to Manchester. Highway 56 runs right by my baby's door. Between Junction 12 (Frodsham) and Junction 14 (Stanlow Oil Refinery, Elton, Helsby and Helsby Services (Whimpy, W.H. Smiths, shower block we used for a month when we didn't have a boiler)), there's no junction 13, for reasons much mythologised. I live straight between the two junctions. My area would be unlucky if it had a junction.

Americans romanticise their highways. In Britain this is looked down upon but in reality this road has huge sentimental potential for me. It leads right into the Centre of Manchester and I didn't have to take a single turning to end up literally outside my ex's house in my late teens. It is an ever-present drone to the citizens of Helsby, some including my mother saying they find it hard to sleep when away from it in silence. I use it as a barometer for the how the world works; at midnight on New Years Eve I look out across the Mersey firstly to watch the Liverpudlian fireworks reflected in the river but I always find myself looking at the motorway, and wondering what the half dozen drivers on it at that particular time are thinking; are they even celebrating?

The motorway is the modern-day river and holds the same position that the river held in the renaissance imagination. We use it to travel far and near, for food and for work, and so even when we're not using it, it becomes a symbol for the world beyond the immediate.

From an early age it became apparent that the only interesting thing to do in Helsby is travelling. Not travelling to somewhere else, just travelleing. Initially it was just walking the length of the A56 which of course runs parallel to the motorway, from the park to the shops and back over and over. I still see kids doing this every Saturday, only now it's expanded from the new Tesco to the shops and back. Later, we'd get buses to Chester and do nothing there but walk up and down the high street. Then I learnt to drive and found just another new way to wander. And so came the night drives up and down the M56, sometimes knocking onto the '62, or around the dual carriageway maze of Runcorn.

The architecture of motorways at night becomes as profound as anything in the modern world. Everything is reduced to three primary colours of red, white and black. Lights bob up and down in the distance, cities burn on the horizon. From a distance everything is the same- houses, street lights, cars, industry, offices, security lights bleaching the side of a warehouse. The world is homogenised and comes alive as a result. Whilst in the day motorways are a green tunnel strewn with rubber skids and shrapnel, at night-time they seem like the only place in the world, a speckled band of light in the dark.

There are two options for lovestruck passengers on such a path.

1) Silence, appreciative silence. A sense of common purpose when there is none. We are on a journey, we are young, be quiet, we are taking ourselves seriously because what's going on is serious.

2) Talk as you'd never talk anywhere else. Leaning across the steering wheel, emphatically waving the hands in the air, proselytising to the back of a Transit van. Sitting sideways on the passenger seat, repeatedly turning the radio down. Laughing, gossiping, treading old ground. Lovers become Proustians; everything must be discussed. Tristram Shandy remarked that he could never complete his life story as to describe anything takes infinitely longer than the event itself. But no one in the front seats of their parents' cars on a motorway at 2am cares. When there is no end in sight, anything is possible and everything is infinite. A conversation has no foreseeable ending and so its length is insignificant.

Stanlow refinery takes on a unique beauty by night, as everything and everyone does of course, and from the motorway it doesn't smell as foul as it does from the single track road on the other side.

Legend has it that Ridley Scott drove past Stanlow, presumably on the M56, and used it as the basis for Blade Runner's grotesque industry:

I dunno, who knows?

Anyway, OMD, bards of the teen romantic heart obsessed with the stark, wrote a song about Stanlow's physicalising of local heartbreak and heartache:

But OMD were from up the Wirral, pfft, and probably only saw Stanlow on their holidays or something. For me, I looked at it every day out of my bedroom window, and the gas flares were modern-day beacons, literally the light of my life:

So what has this to do with Drive?

Desire, from way up above, are labelmates of Chromatics, who alledgedly are on the Drive soundtrack but I didnae hear 'em. Chromatics released an album called Night Drive which explicitly channels the feeling of those aimless nights when you knew exactly what you were doing. Astoundingly, only one person on youtube has matched a song from the album with actual footage of a night drive:

Even before the Chromatics album, it was obvious that italo disco was the sound of night drives, if they were to have any sound beyond the prayers of the loved sent unceasing into the night. The gentle hi-hats replicating the quick swish of each successive streetlight momentarily highlighting faces and gazes, that neat rubbery bass methodically sloshing around underneath everything like tyres on tarmac, and the ghostly vocals echoing the rest of society to you in the moment: distant and almost irrelevant.

Anyway, keep on drivin'. Out of the darkness, into the light...

"Come here, go anywhere."


Ps. here's some Widnesians singing about shagging in cars. The opening 25 seconds took four days to record.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Sweetness and Light, 9th March 2012

This week's development was a presence of a thread throughout the whole playlist. See that blend from lady mcs to lady popstars with the brass sections linking it into the udi band and zen baseballbat? I did that on purpose.

1) Roll Deep- Remember the days (in at the deep end, relentless)
2) Charles Trenet - La Mer (Best of, trism leisure)
3) Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark - Georgia (Architecture and Morality, EMI)
4) Lady Sovereign - Ch-Ching (Run the road vol. 1, 679)
5) Missy Elliott- We Run This (Respect M.E., Atlantic)
6) The Slits - Heard it through the grapevine (Cut, Island) (<-- this sounds brill through headphones)
7) Kylie Minogue - I Believe in you (Ultimate Kylie, EMI)
8) The Marvelettes - Someday, Someway (Greatest hits, Motown)
9) Betty Padget - My Eyes Adored You (Lovers Rock, Trojan)
10) UDI Aberdeen City Band - The Final Countdown
11) Zen Baseballbat- An Ode to Purple Ackey (I am the champion concrete mixer, moonska)
12) Talking Heads- A Clean Break (Let's Work) (The Name of this band is Talking Heads, Sire)
13) Cap'n Jazz - Basil's Kite (Analphabetapolothology, Jade Tree)
14) Blind Boys of Alabama - Have Faith (Sanctify my Soul, Union Square)
15) Roy Orbison - Love Hurts (best of, sony)
16) National School - Life of Locomotion (ladies mile, self-released)


I still blame the Ordinary Boys for the disintegration of Lady Sov's career and drift into john lydonesque jeering. Was a time when I held onto every syllable.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sweetness and Light, 2nd March 2012

Problems on the mic (ahem) will be fixed by this week, promise.

1) Charles Wright-You gotta know what you're doing (funk drops, warner bros)
2)make believe - we're all going to die (make believe, flameshovel records)
3) venga boys - boom, boom, boom, boom (the party album, positiva)
4) those dancing days - those dancing days (those dancing days, wichita records)
5) altered images - i
could be happy
(best of, sony bmg)
6) RFL - You're the one (self-released single) (<--- this was pair of 8 year olds joe knew growing up and they don't have a strong online presence)
7) Fandango Boys - All you need is nasty sex (fandangomania, quiet records)
8) dizzee rascal - stand up tall (showtime, xl)
9) john holt - ali baba (ska madness 2, spectrum)
10) lee perry - cow thief skank (the upsetter, metro)
11) the band of the cheshire regiment - india, arabia (marching all around the world, hallmark)
12) abba - voulez vous (abba gold, polar)
13) roll deep - the avenue (in at the deep end, relentless)
14) half man half biscuit - fix it so she dreams of me (90 bisodol, probe plus)
15) h20 ft platinum - what's it gonna be jamie duggan remix (the sound of bassline, niche) (<------ sometimes i wonder if i love this more than the original)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sweetness and Light 24th February 2012

I now have a slot on student radio where I play records from 1-2 on Friday afternoons over here. Listen in if you will.

The station asks for my playlists and I don't know what they do with it tbh so I'll post them here as well. When the song's not on youtube I've linked to a similar track from the same album:

1) Rob Brady - Everybody's going to the love in (the best of the northern soul story, sony)
2)zen baseball bat- 100 years of seaside entertainment (i am the champion concrete mixer, moonska)
3)jammer- destruction vip (run the road vol. 1, 679 recordings)
4)beastie boys - sounds of science (paul's boutique, capitol records)
5)no lay- unorthadox daughter (run the road vol. 1, 679 recordings)
6)bonnie prince billie - i see a darkness (i see a darkness, domino records) (<-video there still chills and moves)
7)camille yardborough - take yo praise (fly girls, soul jazz records)
8)staples singers- respect yourself (blues brother soul sister, dino entertainment)
9)kelly marie- feels like i'm in love (disco classics, weston-wegram)
10) betty everett - it's in his kiss (blues brother soul sister, dino entertainment)
11) odyssey - going back to my roots (disco classics, weston-wegram)
12) beatles- soldier of love (live at the bbc,
13) wave pictures - apple boy (beer in the breakers bonus disc, moshi moshi)
14) half man half biscuit - floreat inertia (this leaden pall, probe plus)
15)lou courtney - trying to find my woman (the best of the northern soul, sony) (<--- my favourite song atm)
16)hot chip - no fit state (the warning, EMI) (<--- i didn't play this live version but the segue into temptation in the middle is awesome)