I Love Your Live Action

On Sunday night I braved a snow storm (another bloody one) to go and see Wolf Alice play live on their very first US tour. My motivation being that one day they might be famous, arena-playing rock stars and I can bore people to death by smugly telling the story of how I once saw them in a tiny club in front of about 100 people.

They should become famous if there’s any justice (though we all know there often isn’t): they have the songs, the riffs, and judging by the performance I saw, can do the business live too. For a band that has yet to put out it’s first album (finally arriving this June) they have the chops of a more seasoned outfit, though one still young and keen enough to have a good time onstage and act like they think rocking out in a band is like the greatest thing ever.

A good-size crowd turned up considering the weather and Wolf Alice’s low profile in the States, and right from the opening “Fluffy” to the closing “Moaning Lisa Smile” they made us all very glad that we had trudged through the snow to see them. The songs off the new album sounded great too. My only gripe is that they didn’t play an encore.

I did have a go at filming some video myself this time and captured about two minutes of them doing their rifftastic new single “Giant Peach” before deciding I’d rather just enjoy the concert without that bother.

That one drove the crowd nuts and literally had the floor shaking, but the lovely “Blush” was my favourite song of the evening. Here they are playing it the night before in New York.

If you’re interested there’s a recording of the whole gig here.

Cover Me

This is one of the five Roxy Music songs Bryan Ferry originally re-recorded for a solo single b-side that ended up on his 1976 album Let’s Stick Together. Like the other Roxy covers on the record it’s far more conventional than the original but I’ve always loved its suave funkiness and this was the first version of the song I knew. The band playing on it is basically Roxy Music too.

Download: Re-Make/Re-Model – Bryan Ferry

Something for the Weekend

How great were Lady Miss Kier and Deee-Lite? Really bloody great, that’s what.

In The Navy

One of the many reasons why it was so great being a boy in the 1970s: 20-foot high billboards of Caroline Munro in a wet suit plastered everywhere.

Mott the Hoople are rightly famous for being one of the best rocking bands of their era, but they also did some lovely ballads like this one. I actually think Ian Hunter’s voice is more suited to slow, melancholy songs.

Download: Sea Diver – Mott The Hoople (mp3)

Beside The Seaside

You may have heard that this has been an especially brutal winter here in New England. As a result I don’t think I have ever looked forward to a summer more. If you hear me complaining about the heat in August, feel free to hit me over the head.

Download: Seaside Shuffle – Terry Dactyl and The Dinosaurs (mp3)

In case you didn’t know, this was a 1972 novelty hit by a band that featured Jona Lewie.

Something for The Weekend

Prog Rock isn’t quite the uncool evil it once was but I’m still of the conventional post-Punk opinion that it’s mostly too noodly, complicated, and plain silly at times. But when they reign in their indulgences and keep it pop-song length it can be quite magical like this.

Edited out of this clip is the bit at the end when the men in white coats come to take Peter Gabriel away.

Lucky Dip

Download: Worlds Apart (Demo) – The Jam (mp3)

Paul Weller’s sketches were better than a lot of songwriters finished articles. I can see why he never finished this one though, and instead used part of it for “Strange Town” where it was much improved.

Strange Days

I first heard of the late Steve Strange in 1979 when he was the notoriously-strict doorman at the Blitz club in Covent Garden and his refusal to let Mick Jagger into the club became a minor tabloid story. An act that served as both bravely sticking to your style guns and two fingers up to the crusty old rock establishment — though when Bowie showed up he was treated like a God, they were his children after all.

Back then, the Blitz Kids (as New Romantics were called initially) were still just a small underground clique and I can remember seeing these dazzling peacocks in flamboyant clothes and make-up hanging around the King’s Road or going out at night on the Tube, and would be startled by how they looked which was a million colourful miles away from the Punk and Mod styles everyone else was wearing. I had no idea who they were but admired the balls it took to go out looking like that, in those days just looking “weird” could easily get you beaten up.

Steve Strange grew up in Wales as plain old Steve Harrington and, like many kids of his generation, had his life changed by seeing the Sex Pistols and moved to London with dreams of reinventing himself, changing his name, creating his own scene. This was when it was possible to survive in London without much money and get by on the dole and living in squats which most of them did. It was also that exciting time post-Punk when outsiders and oddballs like Strange, Boy George, Gary Numan, Adam Ant, and Marc Almond could be given the keys to the pop kingdom and become bona fide stars. God knows we could do with some colorful mavericks like them in mainstream pop music today.

The New Romantic cult can look very silly today (never boring though), but Strange and his Blitz friends had an influence way beyond that one movement. They changed the look and sound of British pop, defining 80s music in the process. It was also the first British style/musical movement to come out of the club scene which would prove to be the incubator for nearly every other one to come after.

Once you look past the frills and eyeliner it did produce some great records too. Because Strange was thought of as just a club promoter and fashion plate it wasn’t exactly cool to like Visage (despite the rest of the band all being members of Ultravox and Magazine) but I did love this one, particularly the extended 12″ dance version.

Download: Night Train (Dance Mix) – Visage (mp3)

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com


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