The Singles Box


This 1980 single is the only Psychedelic Furs record I ever bought. They were a good band, but in a crowded field of a million Bowie/Roxy-influenced post-punk acts I didn’t think there wasn’t anything that special to make me spend my Saturday job wages on them. But I obviously did like this enough.

“Mr. Jones” is from their second album Talk Talk Talk but this single version was given a bolder, brighter production which I prefer to the rawer album original. It’s less punky and shorter, but the beat has more punch to it. It didn’t make a dent in the charts so it’s one of the many “Am I the only one who bought this?” records I have.

Download: Mr. Jones (Single Version) – The Psychedelic Furs (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



The Pretenders were my favourite band in 1979 when this was filmed, even more than The Jam I think. I have a photo of me in my bedroom circa that year and there are three posters of them on the wall, and readers of this blog will know all about the massive crush I had on Chrissie Hynde, even writing letters to Smash Hits in her defense.

I was lucky enough to see the original line-up live in 1980 (with UB40 and Tenpole Tudor supporting) and I will carry the sight of Chrissie swaggering around stage in leather trousers until my dying day. The rest of the band were pretty good too as you can tell from this performance. Decided to post the entire show as it’s all great.

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.

Texture


One more from “Lost Worlds”:

“One of the great losses of the Information Age is texture. Consider the pre-computer desk: a litter of papers, large and small, handwritten, printed and typed, coarse and fine; letters in varying hands, envelopes of various sizes bearing stamps from all over the world. Here are books, annotated and bookmarked; here is a typewriter with its ribbon and its heavy steel frame. Here are photographs and drawings, coins and banknotes, documents bearing seals and counter-signatures, pristine originals and faded carbon copies, correction fluid marking the palimpest of human error, dog-ears distinguishing what has been well-thumbed from what has been largely ignored. Papers lie in piles, navigable vertically according to what has been most recently consulted; some are turned sideways-on to mark the stack. Boxes of note cards are neatly indexed; bundles of them, held with rubber bands, less neat but closer to hand; notes and memoranda are thumbtacked to the bulletin-board.
Now consider today’s equivalent. All is stored on the network and accessed via mouse-clicks on a clean glowing screen. Everything is the same: an image seen through glass. We touch nothing, mark nothing, smell nothing. In the new world of IT, it is not just the desktop that is a metaphor: everything is a metaphor, where nothing yellows with age and everything is clean and new. We have become creatures of sight alone, our whole attention focused on a hundred and fifty square inches of expensive glass.
We have lost something in the process. Not just texture. Something more. The computer makes everything retrievable but it doesn’t retrieve everything. Only the surface. Scratch that surface and — look! — more surface. The rest is lost.”

Download: Digital – Joy Division (mp3)

The Feminine Principle


A big part of post-punk philosophy was a rejection of the macho posturing of traditional rock music, with many bands disdaining masturbatory guitar solos and playing music that was more influenced by black rhythms because white rock was seen as conservative, sexist, and reactionary.

Another revolutionary thing about these groups was that many of them were either all-female or led by women. Some were more politically strident or musically radical than others, but bands like The Raincoats, The Slits, Delta 5, The Mo-Dettes, Marine Girls, and Essential Logic all challenged how rock music should both sound and look, and brought a feminist perspective to traditional rock song subjects like love and relationships.

Birmingham combo the Au Pairs were one of the most committed to that perspective, and though a co-ed band they were dominated by the striking voice and attitudes of Lesley Woods (the NME cover girl above) who, while not as well known as your Siouxsies, Traceys, and Paulines, really should be considered one of the great female icons of post-punk and one of its best singers.

In an era overflowing with classic debut albums the Au Pairs’ 1981 Playing With A Different Sex is one of the greatest, casting a savage eye on female sexuality, gender relations, and politics over some of the best post-punk-funk music ever made. There was a dryly sardonic edge to Woods’ voice that made her bitter pills easier to swallow and you could dance to it too, it’s like the funkiest lecture on feminism you’ll ever hear. Songs like “Come Again” are brutal but funny on the subject of sex, and with lyrics like “Do you like it like this?/Please, please me/Is your finger aching?” it’s not surprising it was banned by the BBC.

Download: Come Again — Au Pairs (mp3)
Download: It’s Obvious — Au Pairs (mp3)

The 1980 single “Diet” wasn’t on the album but I think it’s the best thing they did, a devastating little Play For Today of a song about Stepford housewives.

Download: Diet — Au Pairs (mp3)

Bonus clip: Here they are in action. Unfortunately the band broke up in 1983 after their second album and Woods eventually left the music scene to become a lawyer, though judging by this rare interview she seems to be trying a comeback.

Something for the Weekend



Magazine must be contenders for best assemblage of individual talent in one post-punk band, or band of any kind really.

Nice to see Annie Nightingale at the start there.

Making Plans For Crackerjack



Though it’s undeniably silly I hope that XTC were well chuffed with this. Getting played by John Peel or appearing on Top of The Pops are nothing compared to having your song performed on a great British television institution like Crackerjack. I would have retired happy after this.

A friend of a friend of mine worked on Crackerjack in the early 1980s and got a group of us tickets to see a show. We had a bloody marvelous time, Stu “Ooh, I could crush a grape!” Francis was the host then and Depeche Mode were on performing “Monument” (apparently, I’d forgotten). Every time we shouted CRACKERJACK! the Boy Scouts sitting in front us turned around and gave us funny looks as if they were thinking “What are these old people doing here?”

I still have the ticket.


We didn’t get Crackerjack pencils but the bloke we knew on the show got us copies of Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame album signed by all the band. Like a fool I later gave mine away to my girlfriend, it wasn’t a great album but really wish I hadn’t done that now. Wonder if she still has it.

Something for the Weekend



When “Gangsters” first came out The Specials (or The Special AKA as they were then) played at The Greyhound pub which was a small venue near us in Fulham. My sister asked me if I wanted to go and I said no for some reason. What a fucking idiot.

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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