The Bright Side of Life


The world is such a depressing place at the moment. Terrorism, mass shootings, beloved music icons dying, and politics on both sides of the Atlantic becoming a fucked-up mix of circus clown show and Nuremberg rally.

Being English I’m normally a gloomy, glass-half-empty pessimist but I find that having kids is the antidote to that. Sorry if this is a naff greetings card sentiment, but having them in your life (when they’re not complaining anyway) makes the world seem not entirely shitty. Booze helps too.

And music of course. Think I may have posted it before years ago but, what the hell, it’s one of the best extended mixes I have.

Download: I Could Be Happy (12″ mix) – Altered Images (mp3)

Coals To Newcastle


It took a while for us Brits to make soul and dance music as good as the Americans. Our efforts were decent but, from Dusty Springfield’s Motown-esque pop to early Britfunk like Hi-Tension and Linx, often suffered from thin production and lacked the warmth and oomph of our Yankee cousins.

As a consequence British soul music didn’t cut the mustard across the Atlantic and the acts which did make it were white and made their records over there. It wasn’t until 1982 that Londoner Junior Giscombe’s debut single “Mama Used To Say” became the first record by a black British soul artist to be a major success on the American R&B charts. In addition to that barrier-breaking he was also the first black Brit to appear on “Soul Train” which is a real badge of honor. 

We hadn’t completely cracked the code though. To become an R&B smash in the States the single still needed the help of a punchier American remix which beefed up the original. But we must have learned something because after that America opened its hearts and charts to other Brit soul acts Loose Ends, Sade, and Soul II Soul.

My copy of the single is a 12″ white label promo, bought in a record store I used to frequent which had a lot of review and promo copies of records probably offloaded by music journalists for booze and drug money. It has a sticker on it that says “Special New Mix” which is different to the others I’ve heard so I’ve no idea if it was ever a commercial release.

Download: Mama Used To Say (Special New Mix) – Junior (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



I assumed the “DJ” in this clip wasn’t the same guy talking on the record, but after some internet detective work I discovered that it actually is him — a fellow called Mike Cleveland who formed the group. Would never have put that voice with that face.

Classic tune this of course, so proud that my kids know the words to it. Parenting job done.

B-Side Beauty


This was the b-side of Roxy Music’s 1980 single “Same Old Scene” and was the first time they put out a 45 with a totally new, non-album track on the flip that wasn’t an instrumental. I think they only did it twice so it’s a rare entry in their discography.

Much as I like it when bands have original b-sides on their singles — especially ones as good as this — I wish Roxy had put this on Flesh+Blood instead, in place of the ropey cover of “In The Midnight Hour” which really blemishes an otherwise terrific album.

Download: Lover – Roxy Music (mp3)

Photo: Anjelica Huston and Manolo Blahnik by David Bailey for Vogue UK January 1974

The Singles Box


This 1981 single is the last one Post-Punk squawkers Essential Logic released. A year later Laura Logic quit the music biz to join the Hare Krishnas with old buddy and former X-Ray Spex bandmate Poly Styrene.

They could be quite atonal at times but this is a sweet, bouncy record that’s about as pop as they ever got. Probably why I bought it and still have it.

Download: Fanfare In The Garden – Essential Logic (mp3)

Apparently they reformed — as everyone does these days — in 2001 but I haven’t heard any fruits of that.

Something for The Weekend



This is the first record Ultravox made with Midge Ure. I quite liked the Vienna album at the time but wasn’t all that keen on them after that. Not sure what their critical rep is these days but I’ve a feeling even Gary Numan is cooler than they are now.

Something for the Weekend



This is a great find, Debbie Harry (who looks stunning) singing with avant garde punk-funkers James White & The Blacks at Hurrahs in New York in 1980.

Something for the Weekend



When I first heard this on the radio I didn’t know who Electronic were and it took a minute for the penny to drop that it actually was Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant singing and not some copycats.

This must be one of the few instances where a “supergroup” makes a record as good as the ones they did with their original bands.

PS: I fucking hated it when Top of The Pops got the audience to whoop it up to add more of a “live” atmosphere to the show. It sounded so bloody fake, the complete opposite of what they intended.

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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