New Monday



There’s no way I wasn’t going to check out an album called The Great Cybernetic Depression by an artist with the name Princess Chelsea when I saw it reviewed on Pitchfork. I’m already predisposed to like something like that before I’ve even heard it, and luckily it turned out to be a terrific album of lovely synthpop balladry that I would have enjoyed no matter what it was called.

Buy/listen to more here.

Daleks In Love


Dr. Who & The Daleks, the 1965 film with Peter Cushing as the Doctor, was on TV here the other week. It was the first time my kids had seen Daleks so I hyped up them up beforehand with tales of how much they scared me when I was young.

Now, my kids love Ray Harryhausen films so they’re not some jaded modern youths only impressed by state-of-the-art CGI, but sadly the Daleks didn’t frighten them in the slightest. Admittedly it isn’t a very good film, and it probably didn’t help that in it these supposedly terrifying machines were incapable of moving on a carpet. But still, at no point did either of the kids hide behind the couch which was very disappointing.

But the kid in me always gets a kick out of seeing the Daleks in widescreen colour instead of the grainy, black and white TV figures of my youth. The adult in me didn’t mind the lovely Jennie Linden either, that’s the young lady the Dalek is getting fresh with in the picture above. Careful where you’re pointing that plunger.

Download: Dalek I Love You (Destiny) – Dalek I (mp3)

Dalek I Love You was a post-punk synthpop group from Liverpool who weren’t all that successful and it’s members more famous for other bands they were in. Formed by Alan Gill and David Balfe who later joined The Teardrop Explodes (where Gill co-wrote “Reward”), the lineup at one point also included Andy McCluskey before he formed Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. This was a single from their 1980 album Compass Kumpas by which time they’d shortened their name to Dalek I. Didn’t make any difference to their record sales though.

Midnight Moroder


When I worked in the record department of WH Smith in the late 70s there were a few records which we were guaranteed to sell a copy of if we played them. Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack to Midnight Express was one, it’s haunting electronics inevitably bringing an entranced customer to the counter to ask what it was. I’m reminded of it now because it’s just been reissued on vinyl after many years out of print.

Director Alan Parker hired Moroder after hearing “I Feel Love” and asked him to do something similar, so while the album is mostly slow mood pieces he fully answered that brief with the pulsing opening track “Chase” which turned out to be just as influential as the Donna Summer record. The version on the album is over 8 minutes long but it was also issued as a 12″ single that clocked in at a whopping 13 minutes, and that’s the version I’m giving you here. At this length it moves beyond electronic disco into more trancey territory, sounding at times like a proto-Rave tune.

Warning: Even at 128kbps this is a 12MB file.

Download: Chase (12″ version) – Giorgio Moroder (mp3)

Sleeve Talk


There is some dispute about who originally coined the word “Yuppie” and when, but it first came into widespread use around 1983 and as we all know became one of the defining words of the 1980s: synonymous with “designer” lifestyles, conspicuous consumption, and Phil Collins albums.

But when Heaven 17 released their debut album in 1981 I doubt anyone knew how the decade was going to turn out. That was the year of the riots in Brixton and Toxteth, IRA hunger strikes, unemployment reaching 2.5 million, and Maggie Thatcher being the most unpopular Prime Minister in polling history. Though the wedding of Charles and Diana and the introduction of the Sinclair ZX81 home computer were signs of things to come, it’s fair to say that year the country was still struggling to escape the 70s.

After leaving The Human League, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh first appropriated the language of big business by giving themselves the corporate-sounding name British Electric Foundation (known by the faceless acronym “B.E.F”), and the sleeve of Penthouse and Pavement presents their recruitment of singer Glenn Gregory to form Heaven 17 as some kind of business merger. The copy proudly declares this to be “The New Partnership That’s Opening Doors All Over The World” in cliched, vacuous marketing-speak, while the power-suited band strike generic stock-photo “business” poses — shaking hands, on the phone — like it’s the cover of a brochure for some dreadful multinational corporation.

The “Heaven 17: Sheffield, Edinburgh, London” logo is apparently a Dunhill pastiche, and the same year those other Left-wing pop intellectuals Scritti Politti were doing similarly subversive, post-modern riffs on luxury brands with their own record sleeves. Heaven 17 took it even further by dressing as businessmen in photo shoots.


While this was all meant as a Lefty piss-take of capitalism and the pro-business rhetoric of Thatcher and Reagan, it turned out Heaven 17 were being unintentionally prophetic in their choice of visuals. Soon the power-suited, hair-slicked-back style of corporate tycoons made the leap from Wall Street and The City to become a mainstream, aspirational look driven by the new breed of go-getting Yuppies. Pop groups started wearing wearing Armani and pinstripes unironically, and the nation’s wine bars were full of young men looking like cut-price Gordon Gekkos in double-breasted suits from Next.

The 1980s ended when the stock market tanked on Black Monday, and coincidentally around the same time Acid House came along and the youth threw away their suits and chinos, and traded them in for dungarees and Smiley t-shirts. Personally I found that all a bit nursery school but it was better than looking like an accountant. Heaven 17 meant it as a conceptual gag but way too many people took it literally.

Download: Play To Win – Heaven 17 (mp3)
Download: We’re Going To Live for a Very Long Time – Heaven 17 (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



I’d completely forgotten about this Simple Minds single even though I used to have the 12″ version. I thought it was one of their best.

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)

The Way She Used To Be


Pick up any Chill Out/Trip-Hop compilation CD from the end of the 20th century (there were lots of them) and you’ll see a whole host of bands who only flickered very briefly and are almost forgotten now: Sneaker Pimps, Smoke City, Olive, Dubstar, to name a few. They all had a signature song – usually because of it being used in a film or television commercial — but then failed to make much impact beyond that.

London duo Mono were another of those. They released one half-decent album Formica Blues in 1997, and then – poof! – they broke up. The album mostly follows the standard Trip-Hop template of drowsy electronic beats over movie-soundtrack instrumentation, but this single verged away from that into Saint Etienne territory and is all the better for it.

Download: Slimcea Girl – Mono (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



This is the single PSB released after the massive “West End Girls” but it only got to #19 in the charts and there was a brief moment when I thought they were going to be one-hit wonders. Think it’s one of the loveliest records they made though.

PS: Is that Courtney Pine on sax? It is!

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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