Jenny’s Wall


One curse of being a graphic designer is that it’s impossible to turn off your professional eye so you’re constantly noticing the design of things from the shittiest advert on the bus to the nicest record sleeve. The worst is the compulsion to mentally fix bad type kerning when you see it, which is often sadly.

It’s a curse that even Jenny Agutter is powerless to overcome, because my first reaction on seeing this picture was to admire the poster behind her and wonder who designed it. While 99% of the men looking at this are probably thinking “What poster?” I cannot control my eyes from being more interested in that than the lovely Jenny. Sad, isn’t it?

Of course I had to research it and, as I thought, the poster is the work of the great Seymour Chwast. Jenny had very good taste.

Download: Girl Watcher – The O’Kaysions (mp3)

Northern Soul aficionados will know this sweet classic from 1968. I always assumed The O’Kaysions were black but apparently not.

I Love Your Live Action


Saw the Dum Dum Girls on Tuesday night who were absolutely fabulous. Whenever you go see a band for the first time there’s always that nervous worry in the back of your mind about how good (or not) they will be live, but those fears vanished the minute they kicked into the first song (though I thought lead singer Dee Dee Penny’s vocals were mixed too quiet). Cliched and creaky though the genre might be, there’s still something thrilling about a good rock combo, and their drummer was especially good at nailing a primitive, sometimes Glam-Rocky beat. The girls all looked very stylish too, it might seem a trivial point but I appreciate it when a band (girls or boys) makes an effort with the visual side and doesn’t turn up on stage in jeans and t-shirts like they just rolled out of bed.

They played all of the new album Too True to start and then another set of older songs which made me want to buy more of their records beyond the two I have. The emotional “Coming Down” was the highlight of the evening for me, but as I’m not into filming shows myself this clip of them singing it is from a different show earlier this year.



After the gig I joined the queue at the merchandise table to buy an album, but instead of the usual bored road manager or drummer flogging gear there was group leader Dee Dee herself selling stuff. Oh, the glamourous rock and roll life! Great though this was, it meant the wait was even longer as people kept posing for photos with her and asking her to sign the records. So when she served me I did the polite English thing of not bothering her too much and just bought a record and left without getting it signed. Bloody wish I had done now, my mate did take this picture though.


Look! It’s me buying a record from a sexy girl rock singer!

Something for the Weekend



Here’s another duet between and old lounge lizard and a young lady better known for her looks than her singing.

In case you’re wondering this is from the 1974 TV series Twiggs. Yes, Twiggy had her own variety show.

And God Created Bardot


When I posted the video on Friday I had no idea it was Brigitte Bardot’s 80th birthday on Sunday. Though she’s mad as a box of frogs these days, she’s still the iconic queen of all the pouty, gap-toothed, French-movie sirens that have reduced so many of us to helpless blobs of jelly over the years.

Serge Gainsbourg’s most famously naughty song was originally written for Bardot, but stories of apparent heavy petting between the two of them while recording it caused a scandal before it had even come out. Brigitte was married to another man at the time — those French! — who was, not surprisingly, none too thrilled by this so she asked Serge not to release their version. It didn’t come out until the 1980s and I think is sexier than the version he did with Jane Birkin.

Download: Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus – Brigitte Bardot & Serge Gainsbourg (mp3)

Something for Le Weekend



There were several early Brigitte Bardot films on the telly here the other night and from what I saw they weren’t very good (with the exception of Contempt). But I guess when you have Bardot to look at the film being any good is an irrelevant detail.

Something for the Weekend



Discovering a Pauline Murray clip I haven’t seen before always makes my day. Finding one where she’s singing the gorgeous, ethereal “Dream Sequence” is even more of a treat. One of the great singles of the post-punk era I think.

Something for the Weekend



A little Tracie bonus for you, singing a song written for her by Elvis Costello. One mark of a great songwriter is the quality of the songs they give to other people and this is top class.

Any British men of a certain age watching this will be letting out a wisftul sigh.

The Girl That Paul Built


When Paul Weller broke up The Jam in 1982 they were the biggest band in Britain which gave him a lot of clout to do what he wanted. Besides forming The Style Council, he had a go at being a pop mogul by starting his own record label called Respond and put an ad in Smash Hits looking for a girl singer to join this Motown-wannabe of his. One of the young hopefuls who answered that ad was 17-year-old Essex girl Tracie Young — or Tracie! as she was initially known on her record sleeves – who made her singing debut on The Jam’s final single Beat Surrender.

Like Joanna and Susan in The Human League, Tracie was an “ordinary” teenage girl (who could sing) with the appeal of the pretty local lass who had a Saturday job in Boot’s and danced around her handbag at the High Street disco in the evenings. While you probably wouldn’t attempt to chat up Kim Wilde at a disco — too cooly Bardot glam — Tracie was a girl you might fancy your chances with. On Top of The Pops she looked like the siren of the Sixth Form in her denim jacket, pencil skirt, and white high heels and was voted “Most Fanciable Female” in the 1983 Smash Hits readers’ poll.


She was no shrinking violet pop puppet though, and had a row with Weller over his production of her records, especially The House That Jack Built which he sped up and put a lot of tinny synths and drum machines on. He wanted her to sound like a modern pop star, not “a little soul girl” in his words.

While I agree with Weller, the production was a bit naff but that didn’t stop her first two singles from being hits. Unfortunately the other acts on Respond like The Questions and A Craze didn’t do so well and by the time Tracie’s debut album Far From the Hurting Kind came out in 1984 she wasn’t having hits either and it only got to #64 in the charts which is a real shame as it’s a rather good album.

Download: Soul’s On Fire – Tracie (mp3)

With the lack of hits Weller lost interest in Respond and the label went belly up in 1986 leaving Tracie at Polydor where she recorded a second album No Smoke Without Fire which was never released. Pop career over, she had a family and then a second life as a radio presenter.

But last month — huzzah! — that second album finally saw the light of day a mere 30 years after it was recorded. I’ve not heard the whole thing yet (hasn’t been released in the States) but I do have extended mixes of some of the singles that are on it. How these weren’t hits is beyond me, Invitation especially shows what a great singer Tracie was becoming. One of the bonus tracks is the b-side curio 19 which takes Paul Hardcastle’s hit and turns it into an anti-vivisection protest song.

Download: Invitation (RSVP Mix) – Tracie Young (mp3)
Download: I Can’t Leave You Alone (Pick n’ Mix) – Tracie Young (mp3)
Download: 19 (Wickham Mix) – Tracie Young (mp3)

Nice to know that Tracie is doing well these days and didn’t become some pop casualty — she was a bit too sensible for that. Some of us are still carrying a little torch for her.

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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