Lucky Dip

Download: Zerox – Adam & The Ants (mp3)

Some pre-warpaint and pop stardom Adam Ant for you. Their second single from 1979.

Image: Jackie by Andy Warhol (1965)

Getting Too Old For This Shit

Up to my tits in work and really worn out at the moment. I’m lucky enough to like what I do for a living, but there are times when I want to retire and live a life of leisure, blogging, and t-shirt designing. Which is another way of saying don’t expect much here for the next couple of weeks.

Download: Up Against It – Pet Shop Boys (mp3)

This is one of my absolute favourite PSB tracks, from their 1996 album Bilingual. It also has one of my favourite lyrics of theirs in “Such a cold winter, with scenes as slow as Pinter”.

Something for the Weekend

I lost interest in Eurythmics the further they strayed from their original synth sound into more conventional pop/rock. But they sold a shed-load of records so what does it matter what I think? They were pretty damn good for a while though. This is from a 1983 gig at London club Heaven.

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.

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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