It’s Pretty Oop North

I’ve heard it can be anyway. Being one of those Londoners who got a nosebleed (and cultural panic) if he ventured north of Watford I couldn’t tell you myself. Short trips to Manchester and Newcastle are my only experience of that part of the country.

This is a really gorgeous track by British folky Catherine Howe from her “lost” 1971 album What A Beautiful Place. Apparently it’s about her hometown of Halifax which I’ve never been to either, but I doubt if it’s as pretty as this song.

Download: Up North – Catherine Howe (mp3)

Something for The Weekend

Want more Clash? Course you do.

A performance that makes you think they should have changed their name to THE CLASH!!! in all caps with three exclamation marks.

I Have Twelve Inches

I can’t remember why I bought the 12″ of “Where Does That Boy Hang Out?” by David Lasley in 1984 because I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard it (doubt if it was ever played on the radio) and I had no idea who Lasley was either. I think it was as simple as liking the song title and the fact that it was produced by Don Was. Some of you kids might find this hard to believe but in those pre-internet days you couldn’t hear every record ever made and sometimes bought them unheard on a whim or a hunch. Back then I had the disposable income to do so, too.

I’m really glad I did buy it because it’s a terrific blue-eyed soul record, and the b-side “Saved By Love” is equally great too. Lasley has a gorgeous, soulful falsetto voice and was better known for singing on other people’s records (Chic, Sister Sledge, and Odyssey among others) than his own, and he also wrote “You Bring Me Joy” for Anita Baker. He only made a few solo albums and the original versions of these were on Raindance which is out of print now.

Download: Where Does That Boy Hang Out? (12″ version) – David Lasley (mp3)
Download: Saved By Love – David Lasley (mp3)

Punk Is Dead

The Clash became instant punk gods with their debut album but then had the problem of “What do we do next?” — a problem The Pistols solved by breaking up, and The Ramones ignored by just doing the same thing again (and again). The Westway Wonders rightly felt that they couldn’t keep doing the same primitive three-chord thrash, and with punk pretty much being declared over by the end of 1977 they had to move on.

Their second album Give ‘Em Enough Rope was an attempt to move forward that wasn’t entirely successful. It’s a decent album but some of the songs are a bit duff and I’ve never liked the production. In retrospect the track “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad” is a signpost for the future, but at the time it was regarded as a novelty lark.

The first taste of where they were going next came in May 1979 with The Cost of Living EP. The first track “I Fought The Law” was as blazingly ferocious as anything on their first album but with a production that was cleaner and brighter than anything they’d done before. The next two tracks “Groovy Times” and “Gates of The West” (one of my all-time favourite Clash songs) were even more different, one featuring acoustic guitars and harmonica while the other was an ode to America, a country the band once declared they were bored with. Clearly they were shedding their old practices and prejudices, freeing themselves from the shackles of punk orthodoxy.

Though The Clash are pretty much canonized now as one of the great rock bands, their reputation wasn’t quite so secure back then. I remember reaction to the EP being mixed at the time, with some feeling that they were running out of gas, and covering old rock and roll songs wasn’t exactly a sign of a band with new ideas, was it? Now it sounds like a stepping stone because seven months later they released London Calling. You know the rest.

Download: Groovy Times – The Clash (mp3)
Download: Gates of The West – The Clash (mp3)

BONUS: This is the short “reprise” of the first track that ends the EP. It’s basically Joe Strummer doing a jokey ad for the record, and far as I know this is only available on vinyl copies of it.

Download: I Fought The Law (Reprise) – The Clash (mp3)

Something for the Weekend

Don’t have the words to express how alive and happy this record always makes me feel.

She’ll knock someone out with those earrings.

Commercial Break

God knows how many years ago this was but I still can’t eat onion rings without getting this song stuck in my head.

“Pure ground beef that you cook like a steak and serve like a steak” – but tastes nothing like an actual steak.

The Tribes of Britain

Download: Girls Are Out To Get You – Fascinations (mp3)

Download: Aunties And Uncles (Impulsive Youths) – The Jam (mp3)

Download: Dressed In Black – The Shangri-Las (mp3)

Download: Jump Boys – The Undertones (mp3)

Something for the Weekend

Cher, Bing Crosby, Queen, Lulu. David Bowie could sing duets and make records with anyone yet still keep his artistic credibility. Truly, the man’s coolness is bulletproof.

BONUS: There’s something truly surreal about seeing Bowie on American light entertainment television. Here he is bringing da funk — and some cool dance moves — to Dinah Shore.



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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