Manchester, So Much To Answer For

Even Mike Leigh at his most misanthropic couldn’t have come up with something as grimly excruciating as this. Don’t miss “One of Great Britain’s top recording groups” about 3 minutes in, and stay for Charlie Williams making racist jokes. After that it somehow manages to keep getting worse. 

We occasionally watched Wheetappers & Shunters at home and I don’t know what is more depressing: The show itself or the sad thought that I might have actually found it entertaining.

Something for the Weekend

Controversial though they still were when they became famous, this early live footage makes you realize Frankie actually toned their act down.

Free Fourplay

The NME released 38 compilation cassettes between 1981-88 that could be bought cheaply by mail. Some of them, like C81 and C86 became famous and era-defining. Less well known is the short series of 7″ vinyl EPs they gave away in the middle of the decade. Unlike the tapes these were included free with the paper which must have caused headaches to make sure they didn’t end up at the newsagents broken into little pieces. I had all of them at one point, but the only one I still have is Fourplay from September 1986 (where the hell did the others go?)

As a snapshot of 1986 this is a very strong quartet of tracks. The Miles Davis is taken straight from his divisive Tutu album while, as far as my ears can tell, the Mantronix and Elvis tunes are slightly different mixes to the originals. Only the Billy Bragg sounds like it’s a different recording. Sadly my crappy old copy sticks right at the end of that track so I’ve had to fade it out. Sorry about that. My favourite of the four was (and is) the pile-driving Mantronix tune which still blows my socks off.

Download: Hardcore Hip Hop (NME version) – Mantronix (mp3)
Download: Uncomplicated (NME version) – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (mp3)
Download: Honey, I’m A Big Boy Now (NME version) – Billy Bragg (mp3)
Download: Splatch – Miles Davis (mp3)

New Monday

The new album by Miley Cyr… WAIT! COME BACK! COME BACK! Bear with me, I swear I haven’t lost my mind.

The new album by Miley Cyrus is a collaboration with The Flaming Lips called Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz that also features Ariel Pink. Intrigued by this team-up and wanting to be hip to the zeitgeist I gave it a listen online thinking I would last about five minutes and need an ear bleaching after. But instead I discovered that… (whispers) it’s actually quite good.

Well, about 75% good anyway. With 22 tracks clocking in at 92 minutes it’s way too long and weighed down with Miley’s self-indulgent need to keep telling us she enjoys sex and drugs. She obviously thinks this is edgy and controversial but instead I just want to give her a clip ’round the ear and wash her mouth out with soap. The album’s rambling, druggy nature makes me think of it as her “Exile On Main Street” but The Stones were mature enough not to record stoner nonsense like “Fuckin Fucked Up” and “I’m So Drunk” — I don’t think Mick Jagger ever sang a teary song about his dead fish either.

But cut out all that bollocks and you have a very strong collection of trippy spacepop that is as wonderful as you might think a young girl singer fronting The Flaming Lips would sound like. As the father of a young girl myself I have opinions about the way Miley dresses and behaves, but I do admire her balls in putting out something as quirky as this. As George Michael said, listen without prejudice.

Something for the Weekend

Another contender for most sublime single of the 70s. This is a terrific live version with a gorgeous vocal from our Colin.

Commercial Break

At my school you wore a badge of honour if you were able to recite “Lip smacking thirst quenching ace tasting motivating good buzzing cool talking high walking fast living ever giving cool fizzing PEPSI!”

B-Side Beauty

Petite, beauty-spotted singer-songwriter Lynsey de Paul originally wrote this song for the vocal trio Thunder Thighs who were famous for their backing vocals on “Walk On The Wild Side” and “Roll Away The Stone.” It was only a small hit for them in 1974, but the same year Lynsey put out her own version on the flipside of her theme song for the TV sitcom No Honestly which made the Top Ten.

She shouldn’t have hidden it away like that because this is a terrific record. Not only is it miles better than the a-side, it’s better than Thunder Thighs’ version too: sophisticated, glittery pop you can imagine Sarah Cracknell singing. Despite its shiny surface the song itself is a strange, dark affair about a policewoman shooting a stranger in Central Park at night. Shame Lynsey didn’t do more idiosyncratic songs like this and fewer themes for naff sitcoms — and made them a-sides.

Download: Central Park Arrest – Lynsey de Paul (mp3)

New Monday

Destroyer’s Kaputt was my album of the year back in 2011 and the follow-up Poison Season is finally with us. I’m happy to say that it’s very, very good indeed, with the same smooth 70s/80s influences but with a heaped tablespoon of Springsteen and Bowie added to the mix.

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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