Saturday, 26 December 2009

Noughty but nice (Part 3) The XTC edition

If I had one wish for the next decade it would be for XTC to release a new LP. Well actually it would be for world peace, an end to hunger and…oh, everything! But in musical terms it would be the return of the best band of the last 30 years. I would make do with an Andy Partridge solo if it was filled with great pop songs as opposed to that improvised Monstrance nonsense but a full blown XTC reunion, preferably including Dave Gregory, is what I’d love to see and despite what I’ve read in Andy Partridge interviews I still see it as a realistic if remote possibility.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you their last studio LP was Wasp Star from 2000. A fine album that suggested to me they were still at the top of their game with plenty more to come. I particularly liked the final track which sounds like XTC, The Beatles and The Beach Boys in one song. I refuse to believe this is the end.

XTC - The Wheel and The Maypole (2000)

This is my second selection from this album in the last week so don’t expect the links to the mp3s to be live very long. Do yourself a favour – buy XTC.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Noughty but nice (Part 2) – The Todd edition

Regular readers will know I’m a big Todd Rundgren fan. In the New Year I intend to write some posts to explain this to non-believers. His 70s output was phenomenal, the 80s patchy but ended on a high with Nearly Human, the 90s were a total write-off with rapping and bossa nova versions of old hits but what of his Noughties output?
Well, there’s been a fair amount of activity. In 2004 he released Liars to rave reviews, some even proclaiming it his best since the 70s. I wouldn’t go that far but there was some good stuff on it including the single Soul Brother which has quite an amusing dig at todays so called R&B singers.

Todd Rundgren - Soul Brother (2004)

For some god knows what reason he decided in 2008 to follow this eclectic collection with an album of arena rock. Hands up who likes arena rock? Exactly! Fortunately this was Todd’s version of arena rock and a few good songs could be found buried in this fairly mediocre collection. Here’s one of them.

Todd Rundgren - Courage (2008)

Best of all, and I think I might be in the minority here, was his brief stint as singer in The New Cars – that’s The Cars minus Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr (the singers for the uninitiated) and Dave Robinson (drummer). Bass and drums were played by Todd’s friends Kasim Sultan and Prairie Prince. A pragmatic Todd referred to this project as "an opportunity ... for me to pay my bills, play to a larger audience, work with musicians I know and like, and ideally have some fun for a year." This curious Cars/Utopia hybrid toured and released one live album with three new studio songs. I have no idea what the rest of the album sounds like but one of the new songs, Not Tonight, is the best thing I’ve heard from Todd in years. It shows how Todd as Cars singer is not such a ridiculous idea as it manages to sound like classic Cars and it’s the type of melodic pop/rock I like to hear from him. However, maybe that’s just me because I’ve seen lots of negative feedback on the interweb.

The New Cars - Not Tonight (2006)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Noughty but nice (Part 1)

As you know this blog is mainly concerned with older music but since we are nearing the end of the Noughties I thought it would be nice to give a mention to some 21st century music. Not a Top 100 list or anything like that, I’m not that organised, just a few songs that I’ve enjoyed in the last decade.

First an artist who’s all over the blogosphere and I first heard over at Davy’s place. Our boys hate this (“It’s just boring”) but for Mrs Mick and me this has become a sort of ‘our tune’. When I played it last weekend the missus asked me if I wanted to dance (the beer/wine was already flowing) and the boys were disgusted: “Oh my God they’re having sex!!” Which we weren’t, of course, spontaneous nookie being out of the question with those pests around. Er, I’ve gone off topic. I hope I haven’t ruined the song for you.

Richard Hawley - Lady’s Bridge (2007)

P.S. In the new year I plan to buy a new improved turntable and start ripping my old records again and will even post some new improved versions of some old favourites.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

My word is final!

When Mrs Mick foolishly asked the boys to write a Christmas list a few weeks back all three of them included puppy on their long lists. I had to explain to them that I don’t particularly like dogs (always been a cat person) and they took a lot of looking after and we would only get one over my dead body. So……

Say hello to Sparky.

He’s been with us four weeks now and I’m slowly coming round to his charms.

Good points: Very affectionate, learned toilet training very quickly, bit of a babe magnet when I take him out.

Bad points: Never stops eating, chewed my shoes, I have to pick up his shit in those little black bags that are impossible to open.

Since I don’t have any good dog songs I’ve gone for a song that describes his personality.

XTC – Stupidly Happy

Monday, 16 November 2009

Tagged


I’ve been tagged by Davy, who was tagged by Drew who was tagged by Chocolategirl64 who was tagged by…well check it out yourselves.

The rules are:
1 You have to post a song that makes you happy
2 You can tag as many people as you want
3 Say one thing about the blog that you tag that will make them smile.

Fortunately I’m not as grumpy as Mr H and don’t mind this sort of thing. At least his cunning ruse has worked and forced me to blog twice in the same month. I tag Kippers because I’m sure he won’t mind and he’ll probably also include a Mildly Interesting Pop Fact.

I trusted my instinct and didn’t think too much about my choice. If this doesn’t get your feet tapping and make you happy you’re probably dead.

Rockpile - Heart

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: This is sung by Billy Bremner but not the Billy Bremner who played for L***s United and had fisticuffs with Kevin Keegan in the 1974 Charity Shield.

I would also have tagged Planet Mondo but I’ve been beaten to it.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

49


Shit, that’s one less than 50!!!

Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Tantrum...

We had a major tantrum from my 9-year old yesterday because he was banned from his favourite web site, Club Penguin, for 24 hours for breaking the rules. He was doing particularly well at Card-Jitsu in the Dojo (don’t ask) and meant to write “I can’t be beaten” but actually typed “I cunt be beaten”. The poor kid was instantly booted off with a great sense of injustice.

He’s now counting the minutes til he’s allowed back on….

Pet Shop Boys & Dusty – What Have I Done To Deserve This

Paul Jones – I’ve Been A Bad, Bad Boy

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Charity shop rummage...

I’ve been doing a fair bit of rummaging in charity shops since early summer and I’ve picked up a few interesting records and CDs which I will share over the coming months. How’s this for starters, especially since I promised more quality after yesterdays post: the 12-inch version of E=MC2 for 99p.

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2 (Extended Remix) (1985)

I loved this song on it’s initial release and was very pleased with myself because I understood most of the Nic Roeg references. At the time I would tell anyone who was interested (which was almost nobody) that he was my favourite director, although I had yet to see Performance so didn’t recognise any of the samples taken from that film. In fact, for years I thought it was James Fox’s voice was Michael Caine.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

WTF?

Come on admit it, you’ve all got some records that you look at and wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” Well I’ve decided it’s about time I shared some of mine with you. I bought this some 28 years ago and, the eighties being the eighties, I’m not sure if Yuka is a boy or a girl. Some elementary Googling tells me that Yuka is a female Japanese name but on the picture sleeve (which is inconclusive) he/she doesn’t look particularly look Japanese

It sounds to me a bit like Mika. Let that be a warning to you!!

Yuka – Who Would Believe A Young Man (1981)

A bit more quality tomorrow I promise but be warned - there are more of these in the vinyl archive.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Let's swing...

Three days, three posts! And they said it couldn’t be done – not by me anyway.

This swinging dance gem was produced by August Darnell which won’t surprise you if you remember the video - all zoot suits and Cotton Club. The brass and drums are great and the lovely yearning vocal by Stephanie Fuller is the icing on the cake.

Elbow Bones & The Racketeers – A Night In New York (Extended Version)* (1983)

*Mixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez

Thursday, 1 October 2009

We're climbing Jacobs ladder..

What better way to follow yesterdays post than this piece of pure pop magic from The Monochrome Set? All upbeat with sing-a-long verses and a faux gospel part – brilliant! Their best single and a nice picture sleeve too.

This more polished version is not the same mix as found on Compedium 75-95, The Good Life, Fin and Westminster Affair and as far as I know it’s not on any currently available CD.

The Monochrome Set – Jacobs Ladder (1984)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Back to basics

I’m going try a few days of vinyl rips to get this blog back on track. This is from the Farmer’s Boys 2nd album With These Hands which still isn’t available on CD unless you want to pay over £70 for a Japanese import. Their 1st album Get Out & Walk has finally been reissued (with bonus tracks) and is available at the usual outlets. I have to admit I’m only familiar with a couple of tracks but I’ll be investing in a copy soon.

On previous posts I’ve described their sound as a cross between the Monochrome Set and The Smiths. The Amazon reviewer also throws Orange Juice and the Human League into the mix and I can see what he means.

The Farmer’s Boys – All of a Sudden (1985)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Class of '79

I’ve had a bit of blogger’s block recently so here’s the first in an occasional series where I rip off good ideas from other blogs.

Going way back to 1978 my favourite band was Be Bop Deluxe, so you’d think I would have been devastated when they split that year having just released (probably) their best album. In fact I saw it coming. Drastic Plastic had been a bit of a departure with it’s simpler song structures and increased use of synthesisers and sound textures and it split the Be Bop audience to a degree so it wasn’t a big surprise that Bill Nelson wanted to move on. I wasn’t particularly worried – after all Bill was Be Bop Deluxe wasn’t he? Not entirely true as listening to old live performances and some of Bill’s solo work shows but that’s what I thought at the time. Even so, as the release of the debut single by Bill Nelson’s Red Noise approached I did get a bit apprehensive. There were rumours of Bill ‘going punk’ which worried me (at the time there were always rumours of people going punk or disco).

I needn’t have worried. Right from the opening drum beat and bleeping synth I was hooked. It took the sound of Drastic Plastic a stage further. The synth was upfront, the guitar was rawer, the singing more aggressive and Bill’s primitive drum style really suited the song. It was probably better than any Be Bop Deluxe single. Lyrically it celebrates isolation and in my mind is in the same category as Bowie’s 'Sound and Vision' and Gary Numan’s 'Cars'.

The tracks on the b-side confused me somewhat. The synths were there but the songs didn’t have the textures of Drastic Plastic or the urgency of Furniture Music. They have a home made quality which in hindsight is reminiscent of some of Bill’s solo work. Over the years I’ve grown to love Wonder Toys that last forever and, er, appreciate Acquitted By Mirrors, a favourite with Nelsonians (yes, they really call themselves that).

As for going punk, with the Sound on Sound album Bill did embrace the new wave to a larger degree than most of his contemporaries but, with the way people like to pigeon hole bands, seemed to end up not finding a big audience with his old fans or the hip new wave crowd. A long, meandering and extremely inconsistent solo career beckoned…

mp3: Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Furniture Music (1979)
mp3: Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Wonder Toys That Last For Ever (1979)
mp2: Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Acquitted By Mirrors (1979)

The same person who thought Heaven 17 sang ‘Bullshit! Bullshit’ on We Live So Fast also thought Bill sang ‘My testicles are green’ at about 1.27

Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson

So we’ve all heard the news by now and there’s nothing I can add to the millions of words already spoken and written except to reiterate remember the great music (pretty much everything from Jackson 5 to Bad and occasionally after) and don’t dwell on the media circus that was his later life.

On occasions like this everyone has a ‘how I heard the news’ story so, if you’ll forgive the indulgence, here’s the almost comical way I heard the news: Driving to work this morning for some reason I switched the CD player off to listen to the radio. It was tuned to Radio 2 and about 30 seconds of that Kennedy woman’s wittering was more than enough for me so I changed stations and spent the rest of my journey listening to Ben, arriving at work before it was finished. As I walked into the office the radio (which was tuned to an oldies station) was playing Got To Be There. If I gave it any thought at all I thought it was a coincidence. As the song finished the DJ said something like “The talent that was Michael Jackson” which I took to be his way of saying he didn’t rate the later stuff. It was only after another Jacko song he said something about him having died and of course my jaw hit the floor…

Here’s a favourite from The Jacksons:
The Jacksons - Show You The Way To Go

and a Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson song you don’t hear so often:
Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson - The Man

Slightly bizarre picture from the 1988 World Tour program.

Check out Lee’s post for his brilliant version of Ain’t No Sunshine. This is my favourite version of the song and the one I was originally going to use.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Take this with a pinch of salt but…

Mrs Mick listens to local radio station Eagle in the mornings and yesterday she told me the breakfast DJ announced that Woking council were planning some sort of memorial/tribute to The Jam and he had been informed by a band member that all three members would attend. I’ve done a bit of digging since then and I’ve found this thread on a message board that appears to be have it’s roots in this announcement and takes it a stage further. I’ll believe it when I see it but fingers crossed…

Woking is only 10 miles up the road so if anything happens I’ll be there with my camera.

If nothing else it’s a good excuse to dig out an All Mod Cons classic.

The Jam - It's Too Bad

Friday, 5 June 2009

The June Post...

Well that attempt at rebooting the blog was bloody great, wasn’t it? I think I’ll be a little less ambitious and just try to manage more than one post a month.

Here’s a little treat for all you faithful readers who still check in every day to see if there’s anything new…

mp3: Leisure Process - Love Cascade (Dance Mix) (1982)

Gary Barnacle all keyboards, tenor saxophone, electric saxophone
Ross Middeton vocals, guitar

In case you couldn’t tell it’s a Martin Rushent production.

Friday, 1 May 2009

We live so fast...


To celebrate finally getting my replacement stylus here is the song I was about to rip when I found my little darlings had broken the old one. It’s the six minute dance mix of We Live So Fast which in its original form was on the Luxury Gap album. This is ripped from the b-side of the Temptation 12 inch single.

If you’re familiar with this you’ll know the chorus starts “We live so fast…motion, motion..”. Back in the 80’s a friend of mine thought they were singing “bullshit bullshit” and I made the mistake of telling that to one of my kids. He of course told the others and now every time they hear this they sing “bullshit” and I get dirty looks from the boss if she’s around. (Of course, I sing along if she’s not there)

mp3: Heaven 17 - We Live So Fast (Dance Mix) (1982)

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Quick Sunday post...


Just time to wish a happy 68th birthday to everyone’s favourite Italian record producer.

Giorgio Moroder - First Hand Experience In Second Hand Love (1977) from this.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

3 tracks from the BRILLS




I know things have been quiet round here a while but don’t go thinking I’ve run out of old records. Not before time Raiding The Vinyl Archive is getting a reboot. I’ve ordered a new stylus and I’m determined to post at least two pieces of old vinyl a week as well as occasionally indulging in other stuff like the drunken Friday post.

To get things rolling here’s a low key effort from 1979. I know next to nothing about The Brills except they appear to be from Scotland and I only know that because they are on this CD (which also apparently features the 5th best garage band from Aberdeen). These recordings have a nice spare sound with few embellishments so they stand or fall on the songs and performances, which I think you’ll agree are pretty good.

The Brills - Gang Of One
The Brills - What Is Done
The Brills - Burst Of Old Flames

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Around this time many years ago…


…I was getting married as this ancient sepia tinted photograph shows. This day nine years ago we were supposed to be going out to celebrate our 2nd anniversary but Mrs Mick went into labour with our first born instead. But for complications he would have been born on our anniversary but he held on til the 5th. This year we're taking things easy.

Here’s some songs for the missus.

Henry Priestman - Greys The New Blonde
Nick Lowe - Hope For Us All

Friday, 3 April 2009

Disc-007


I do a lot of driving and it’s the only place I can listen to music without interruptions these days. Donna Summer has been getting heavy rotation on the car stereo for the past few weeks and I’ve been particularly enjoying Dim All The Lights. The other day I was groovin’ to it with my boys and one of them pointed out the music around 50-seconds in was similar to the excellent discofied James Bond theme featured in The Spy Who Loved Me, still one of my favourite Bond films if that doesn’t make me sound too Alan Partridge. You can here this tune on the Menu screen and when Roger Moore is being chased on skis by that bloke from UFO. Have a listen and see if you agree.

mp3: Donna Summer - Dim All The Lights (12-inch version)
mp3: Marvin Hamlisch - Bond 77

On a totally unrelated note do you know what you were doing at exactly this time eleven years ago? I was sitting in a pub in Dundee with family and friends celebrating my last night as a single man.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Sibling rivalry (Part 1)


I’ve seen it mentioned from time to time on the blogosphere how one automatically hated ones sibling’s records. Well, my house was no different (and to this day if my younger sister tells me a song is good I will assume it’s shit) but occasionally a record would transcend the rivalry. This was one of those. When I bought it family and friends alike found the call and response parts a bit hokey and thought I’d lost it, but it slowly became a favourite in our house. The sad thing is I mentioned it to BrotheRay who occasionally leaves comments on my posts a while ago and he couldn’t remember it. Come on Raymond click on the link below and let the memories come flooding back. The rest of you just enjoy a classic piece of Jonathan Richman camp.

mp3: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - The Morning Of Our Lives (1978)

Classic covers (part 1)


I think I’ve spotted a gap in the market. I’ve seen loads of blogs about classic album sleeves but no mention of single picture covers. This pic for the ‘Tears Are Not Enough’ single would have made a great cover for the Lexicon of Love album.

mp3: Tears Are Not Enough – Tears Are Not Enough (Single Version) (1981)

Monday, 23 February 2009

Bubblegum


Nice bubblegum post over at TVD on Friday. There were a few bubblegum records in our house back in the late 60s including this all but forgotten gem from 1969.

It was on the Major Minor label – whatever happened to that? Other artists we had on the label were Tommy James and the Shondells, Karen Young, Johnny Nash and Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Whenever I hear old songs that we had I always picture the record label and sleeve. Do you even know what label your CDs are on?

mp3: Crazy Elephant - Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ (1969)

My boys like this one even though it always ‘tricks’ them. When they hear the opening bars they think it’s ‘Cherry Bomb’.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Not exactly a Friday night party record…


...but it’s been a while since I indulged in my progressive rock fixation. Allmusic says of this song Refugees turns out to be a wonderfully moving song that eschews hidden meaning in favour of direct statement - this is a song about people fleeing to the West, taking next to nothing with them. An elegy to freedom, the song not only takes in the idea of escaping to freedom, but takes in the planning as well, though in poetic terms suitable for the average Peter Hammill lyric” which is mostly true but even a cursory listen to the lyric tells you there’s a much more personal story in there.

All you prog haters out there (and in my experience most prog haters haven’t heard any but have accepted received wisdom that it was all pretentious crap) give this a listen and see if you can honestly tell me it isn’t great.

mp3: Van Der Graaf Generator - Refugees (1970) (Buy)

This mp3 will only be available for a limited time.

Monday, 2 February 2009

It’s cold outside Part 2…


Message on the school website:
School (and Pre-school) closed due to snow on Tuesday 3rd February. Please continue to visit our website and listen to the local radio for updates.

That’s my quiet day off work buggered! Course it was worse in my day (see mid 60s picture above) and we didn’t have central heating. Frost on the inside of your bedroom window etc…Just read this post, you'll get the idea.

The Stiv Bators song comes courtesy of Darkdance, who thought it might be too punky for me. I actually think it’s a great piece of power pop.

mp3: Stiv Bators - It’s Cold Outside (1979)

It's cold outside...



The school's closed today so you can imagine how upset the boys are.

Update: We were a bit low on milk and bread so I’ve just walked up to the local Co-op for supplies. The snow’s about eight inches deep in places so it’s really quiet out there apart from that nice sound your boots make in the snow. I Don’t have to go into work til Wednesday.

mp3: Pezband - Baby It's Cold Outside (1977)

Friday, 30 January 2009

And finally...


Today is also Mary Balin’s birthday. It’s No Secret that Marty is one of my all time favourite singers so I won’t even attempt to write a tribute while I’m half drunk on a Friday night. It’s just that “The summer had inhaled and held it’s breath too long..” is one of my favourite opening lines…

mp3: Jefferson Airplane - Comin’ Back To Me (1967)

I’ve got some reasonably rare stuff to post but that will have to wait for another day.

Bargain...


I went shopping today and picked up a bargain (see above). Donna Summers (and Giorgio Moroder’s) “rags to riches” concept album Once Upon A Time. Originally a double LP in four Acts sides one and four are the disco sides with no breaks between tracks (similar to the MacArthur Park Suite), side three is mostly slower material (with the extraordinary Dance Into My Life) and side two is the electronic side featuring this:

mp3: Donna Summer - Now I Need You (1977)

Vintage Phil

There’s not much love for Phil Collins on the blogosphere so I thought I should spread a little on this, his 58th birthday. To celebrate I’ve got an 18-year old Phil (that’s him with the pink vest and long hair) singing Space Child from Flaming Youth’s 1969 concept album Ark 2 which tells the story of man leaving Earth to escape Armageddon (or something).

If you’ve never seen the vinyl version of this album its cover was a real work of art; a three way gatefold sleeve with a stained glass window effect transparency on the front, the lyrics inside and the story on the back cover. For this track it says: “Suddenly, after all, there is a future, for here is the first child born in space. And he has no hang-ups about the past, accepting life with innocent trust.” Just in case you wondered what young Phil was singing about.

mp3: Flaming Youth - Space Child (1969)

Bonus song for those fools who claim that Genesis turned shit the moment Peter Gabriel left:
mp3:
Genesis - Ripples (1976)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Be seeing you...

In memory of Patrick McGoohan (March 19 1928 - January 13 2009) star of possibly the best TV series ever…

Friday, 9 January 2009

Commence to Dancing

Had to get rid of that Santa picture. More music will be posted soon I promise. Until then enjoy Laurel & Hardy dancing to The Gap Band. I can't take any credit for this clip but my boys and I have been enjoying it since we found it around Christmas time (We love these guys).