His Royal Genius


Fuck it. I can’t even.

Download: Money Don’t Matter 2 Night – Prince & The New Power Generation (mp3)

Funny Girl


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.

Download: Fourteen Again – Victoria Wood (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



Stop it 2016, just stop it.

What a fantastic band EW&F were, if you’ve never gone beyond the singles and tried any of their 70s albums I recommend you do so.

I See Dead People

Without wanting this blog to turn into LondonLee’s Book of The Dead I should mark the passing of Mott The Hoople drummer Dale Griffin. I posted this marvelous clip many years ago but it’s one of my all-time favourite Top of The Pops performances and well worth a replay.



As we all know Glenn Frey popped his clogs too. I know we’re supposed to hate The Eagles but they did have some good moments like this one. It sounds even better when you don’t have to look at them.

See These Eyes So Red


I tried to finish off some new posts for this week but realized I’m not quite ready to let go of David Bowie just yet. He’s pretty much all I’ve been listening to and thinking about this past week and the earth still feels a little off it’s axis to me.

I don’t have much of anything in the way of Bowie rarities but this one isn’t too common on compilations and whatnot. The original version of “Cat People” produced by Giorgio Moroder in its longer, 6:40-minute form on the movie soundtrack.

Download: Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – David Bowie (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



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.

Now I’m all sad again.

Goodbye Spaceboy


Well, this really puts Ed Stewpot in perspective, doesn’t it?

Unlike seemingly every other kid who grew up in the 1970s I didn’t have my life changed by seeing Bowie perform “Starman” on Top of The Pops in 1972 because I was only nine years old at the time and, to be honest, I don’t actually remember seeing it. But us kids were fascinated by Bowie who was clearly far stranger than Marc Bolan or David Essex in a way we didn’t really understand yet.

I had no clue about gender-bending or performance art, I just liked the fact that he sang about astronauts and aliens — and looked like one himself — and even though I had no idea what “Life On Mars?” was about (I still don’t really) the words fired my imagination and painted some bizarre pictures in my head. I remember going to the house of a school friend whose older sister had just bought Aladdin Sane and we stared at the sleeve image as if we were sneaking an illicit peek at his Dad’s porn magazines. It was both magnetic and a little bit… pervy. Heady, thrilling stuff when you’re a kid, if a little unnerving.

I was on the right wavelength for him by my teens though. The first album of his I bought was the compilation ChangesOne in 1977 which opened the gates and in the space of about two years I’d bought all the others right up to the newest one “Heroes”.

Digging in to Bowie’s back catalogue was a thrilling adventure, you never knew what kind of experience you were going to get and it’s astonishing to think that at this point Ziggy Stardust was only five years old but he had already covered more water and changed skin more times than most artists do in a career. I saw him live at Wembley on the Serious Moonlight tour in 1983 when he was in smiling, family-entertainer mode playing hit after hit after hit — Space Oddity! Life On Mars! Young Americans! The critics were sniffy but I was in dreamland.


Being another working class kid with an artistic/creative streak myself I had other reasons to be inspired by Bowie and even identify with him a little bit. Art schools like mine were full of his children, kids from shitty towns with blue hair and far-out dreams he had shown they could make reality. The early punk scene was driven by Bowie disciples, as was post-punk, synthpop, New Pop, Goth, and every other 80s act with cheekbones and eyeliner. The million tiny seeds he planted through the 1970s flowered and bore glorious fruit.

But all the conceptual, art-school trappings in the world would mean nothing if the records were crap, then he’d just be Steve Harley or some second-rate New Romantic act. The guy knew how to write a song that hit the heart and hips as well as the head and — something which gets overlooked in all the chameleon/artist/icon talk — he was a phenomenally great singer whether it was the theatrical sneer of Ziggy or the deep croon of the Thin White Duke.

And somehow through all he achieved and experienced he seemed to stay a charming, decent, and funny man. Thank you so very much Mr. Jones, may God’s love be with you.

Download: Somebody Up There Likes Me – David Bowie (mp3)

PS: What kind of person can rally themselves to make an album as good as Blackstar when they know they’re dying? Maybe he was an alien.

Stewpot


Oh man, now Ed “Stewpot” Stewart has gone and died too, that’s another massive part of my childhood taken. I listened to his show Junior Choice in my bedroom nearly every weekend morning when I was a kid and he was to my early years what John Peel was to my late teens and early 20s, the one who provided a large part of its soundtrack and whose voice immediately brings the past back with all its sounds, images, and feelings.



I still know every note of the songs he played regularly like “Puff The Magic Dragon”, “Jake The Peg”, “The Laughing Policeman” and, of course, the amazing “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera” which is wrapped up with so many memories I had to unpack them on one of the earliest posts on this blog. But the thing I most associate with his show isn’t a song at all but “Sparky’s Magic Piano”, an audio story from the 1940s which he ran in installments seemingly over and over again. While I have many fond memories of this the robotic voice of that piano always creeped me out and still does.

This is the whole thing, it lasts 18 minutes but the file isn’t too big.

Download: Sparky’s Magic Piano (mp3)

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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