This year is really taking the piss. I swear the death of Victoria Wood has upset me almost as much as Bowie did. She was one of the greatest comedy talents Britain has ever produced, but on a personal level she means a lot to me because my mother loved her and I have many happy memories of watching her TV shows with her. My mother could quote Victoria Wood lines the way I could with Monty Python in my teens, so I’m sad for more than just the loss of a great comedy writer and performer.
Though Wood made her name in the 1980s she existed outside of the London-centric, politically-edgy “Alternative” comedy crowd and created her own brilliant comedy universe. She was never as fashionable as them and, even though her humour could be cruelly accurate and cutting, she had a Northern working class warmth that made her less hip, but she was funnier and for longer.
She was also an influence on Morrissey, especially this song she wrote in 1978 which inspired parts of Rusholme Ruffians, and her “they didn’t know what drugs were” line in the intro may also sound familiar.
The 1980 Floor Show was a television special Bowie recorded at the Marquee in London in 1973 for the American music show The Midnight Special. It was never shown in England and still hasn’t had an official release. Mind boggling when you see how good this is, and singing a duet of “I Got You Babe” with Marianne Faithful dressed as a nun is audacious even for him.
This “Seven Minutes of Madness” remix by Coldcut from 1987 is still an amazing and radical piece of sound collage, throwing in Ofra Haza, Humphrey Bogart, James Brown, and a BBC Play School record while still keeping the bones of the original. Though we were all to get sick of that “This is a journey into sound” sample they were the first ones to use it.
Apparently Eric B dissed this as “Girly disco music”.
Disco didn’t produce many great bands because that’s not what it was all about, but Chic must be one of the greatest in any genre — certainly one of the best rhythm sections ever — and they produced some marvelous records for other people too. Not that I give a shit about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but the fact that they’ve been nominated 10 times and failed to get in is a sad indictment of those rockist wankers.
Want to see Public Enemy walking around 1980s London in a video introduced by Tim Westwood wearing an MA1 flying jacket? Of course you do. Those were the days.
I saw Public Enemy live in 1992 supporting U2 at Tampa football stadium of all places (Big Audio Dynamite were also on the bill). It was my first week living in Florida and my first experience of how American rock audiences didn’t give a shit about — and were even hostile to — black music, especially in the South. I was all excited about seeing PUBLIC ENEMY but no one else around me seemed to care. Personally I thought it was brilliant when Flavor Flav chased Chuck D around the stage dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
What a mind-blowing record this still is. Westwood’s phony American “street” accent sounds really dumb though.