My Sister’s Records


I’ve mentioned here before how my sister went from being a screaming, tartan-scarf-waving Bay City Rollers fan to loving those noisy punk rockers The Clash which is obviously something of a radical jump but people made a lot of radical jumps during 1976 and 1977, not just in musical taste but in the length of hair and width of trousers too.

My sister never actually became a punk herself — too sensible at the end of the day, my sis — but her friend Sue went the whole hog into bondage trousers, safety pins, and dyed, spiky hair. Nowadays no one would bat an eyelash at the “punk” look (it’s almost quaint now) but back then I remember walking down the street with Sue in all her pierced, ripped, and bound finery and people would visibly bristle when they walked past us, looking at her in disgust as if she had some disease or her very appearance was an affront to decency. Sue found it all very amusing and, like a lot of punks, took pleasure in playing up to the tabloid guttersnipe stereotype. One time we were out, some little kids were staring and pointing at her so Sue took a big swig from her can of Coke, turned to them, and belched very loudly in their faces. They ran away, probably going home to tell their mum how rude those nasty punks were. It wasn’t all fun and games though, one day she was spat on by a Teddy Boy while walking down the King’s Road where there were often fights between Punks and Teds during the summer of 1977. I actually used to be a little scared to go down there at the time.

Punk didn’t just cause a rift in English society either, for a while it caused a big split in our house too because one thing The Clash had in common with The Bay City Rollers was that I hated them both. As I’ve also noted here before, I originally thought this album was just a horrid, moronic noise that was like being hit over the head with a brick by a gang of angry yobs. As much as it pains me to admit it now but my sister was hipper than I was at the time. It really pains me to admit that. But I eventually got hip myself (and of course became far hipper than my sister, ho ho) and came to hear what was so incredibly great about it. Obviously it’s essential, vital, life-changing etc. etc. and I think the best album The Clash made, tighter and more focused than London Calling (which I have to say I’ve always found to be just a teensy bit overrated) without an ounce of fat on it.

They never repeated the primitive and visceral punch-punch-punch of this and to their credit they never tried to either and moved on musically. This was a quickly-taken snapshot of a moment that, like punk itself, shone brightly for a very short time and burnt itself out. But what a “moment” it was while it lasted.

I still think it sounds like being hit over the head with a brick by a gang of angry yobs — but in a good way.

Download: Hate and War – The Clash (mp3)
Download: London’s Burning – The Clash (mp3)
Download: Protex Blue – The Clash (mp3)
Buy: The Clash (UK version of course)

New Monday



Stunning and beautiful new video from Fleet Foxes, best thing I’ve seen in yonks. Watch it full screen.

Something for the Weekend



Somehow one doesn’t expect the lead singer of New Order to be dressed like this.

Lucky Dip

Download: Won’t Somebody Dance With Me – Lynsey De Paul (mp3)

My Mother’s Records


“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” is one of those oddities in my mother’s record collection, maybe not quite as off-the-wall a choice for her as the Status Quo single or Rugby Songs album she had but trippy jazz-fusion instrumentals weren’t usually her bag either. I can see why she liked it though, it’s cool and elegant and groovily cosmic without being too far out there — if they had the expression back then it would have been called “chill out” music.

This was a big hit for Brazilian ivory-tinkler (and future Kool & The Gang producer) Eumir Deodato in 1972 and, of course, is a cover of the Richard Strauss tune used in 2001: A Space Odyssey which had blown everyone’s minds a couple of years before. Oddly enough, even though my mother usually hated science fiction films (she thought they were “unrealistic” which, I know, is kind of the point of them) she actually liked 2001 which is about the most difficult and hardcore mainstream SF film there is, even more light years away from being her usual cup of tea than this record is. But we watched it on television together once and though I imagined she’d think it was like watching paint dry when it was over she said to me “that was good, wasn’t it?” Maybe she was secretly doing drugs and had been tripping out on the couch during the “Beyond The Infinite” sequence without me noticing.

Download: Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001) – Deodato (mp3)

New Monday



Summer Camp seem to have a thing for American teenage culture (especially as seen in John Hughes movies) and their debut album Welcome To Condale is something of a concept piece about growing up in a Los Angeles suburb during the Reagan era. Nothing odd about that you’d think, except Summer Camp are actually from London. Inspiration is wherever you find it I guess, and when it produces fab records like this who cares?

Something for the Weekend



Like my parents did to me we’ve managed to indoctrinate introduce my daughter to the delights of old Hollywood musicals. Her favourite is Singin’ In The Rain (starring “Kene Gelly” as she pronounces it. Bless) which might well be the greatest movie musical ever made and has many, many pleasures to offer — not the least of which is the legs of Cyd Charisse. Lord, even her name was sexy.

Deal Breakers


I’ve broken up with girls for lots of reasons in the past (or given them the Spanish Archer as we used to say), there have even been a few that have broken up with me — the nerve! Most of my relationships have ended with more of a whimper than a bang, slowly fizzling out when the initial spark faded so I don’t have too many dramatic stories to tell, but there was one girl who I caught on the phone having a secret, intimate chat with another bloke in the middle of the night in my own kitchen while she was spending the night at my place. That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been involved in a get-the-fuck-out! shouting match with a girl and I hope you agree it was perfectly reasonable of me in that situation.

But what about the unreasonable causes? For a while I went out with a girl who told me she voted Conservative (this was when Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister) and an American who said she thought Ronald Reagan was a great President. Though I didn’t, I hasten add, dump either of these girls on the spot, the thought did cross my mind that this might be grounds for terminating the relationship. Dodgy politics are one thing, but what if — horror of horrors — she had really bad taste in music?

I’ve been lucky in that regard, my long-term relationships (all three of them including the missus) have been with girls who shared roughly the same (impeccable) taste as me, but at college I briefly went out with a girl who liked… Chris De Burgh. This devastating information was given to me by a friend of hers before our first date who passed it on as if she was telling me the girl was a Neo-Nazi or liked to drown kittens — “she’s a nice girl, but…” Sadly she turned out to be a little dull and personality-free so I only went out with her three times, but I wonder if my opinion of her was tarnished by what I knew. Did knowing that she liked Chris De Burgh make her boring to me or did only boring people like Chris De Burgh in the first place? It’s a chicken-and-egg situation! I think I even avoided the “what kind of music do you like?” conversation with her because I’d have to fight the urge to shout HE’S SHIT!!! which would ruin any chance of a second date or getting her into bed (I didn’t), but I suppose if the relationship had lasted I would have had to cross that bridge at some point. I can’t even remember her name now but she has forever gone down in my memory as “the Chris De Burgh fan” I went out with.

Is there any group or singer so bad that they would be grounds for dumping a girl? I think the only answer to that question is “depends how good-looking she is.”

Download: Love’s Gone Bad – Chris Clark (mp3)
Buy: Soul Sounds (album)

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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