I Have Twelve Inches


I can’t remember why I bought the 12″ of “Where Does That Boy Hang Out?” by David Lasley in 1984 because I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard it (doubt if it was ever played on the radio) and I had no idea who Lasley was either. I think it was as simple as liking the song title and the fact that it was produced by Don Was. Some of you kids might find this hard to believe but in those pre-internet days you couldn’t hear every record ever made and sometimes bought them unheard on a whim or a hunch. Back then I had the disposable income to do so, too.

I’m really glad I did buy it because it’s a terrific blue-eyed soul record, and the b-side “Saved By Love” is equally great too. Lasley has a gorgeous, soulful falsetto voice and was better known for singing on other people’s records (Chic, Sister Sledge, and Odyssey among others) than his own, and he also wrote “You Bring Me Joy” for Anita Baker. He only made a few solo albums and the original versions of these were on Raindance which is out of print now.

Download: Where Does That Boy Hang Out? (12″ version) – David Lasley (mp3)
Download: Saved By Love – David Lasley (mp3)

My Summer House


Back (sadly) from our holidays in Rhode Island. Had a great time, though as you can see from the above photo, the wife had to go catch our dinner every night.

Seized by a bout of nostalgia for late-90s club music I took on the trip the CD Beach House, one of the many, many Hed Kandi compilations I bought back then — just looking at the distinctive sleeves they had sends me back in time.

The first track on the album is “Music and Wine” by Blue 6 which originally came out on Naked Music, another label I bought a lot of back then with equally distinctive sleeves. Naked specialized in smooth and soulful dance music and “Music and Wine” is one of the most sublime, summery House records you’ll ever hear. It was my favourite single of 1999 and still sounds wonderful.

Download: Music & Wine (Original Funkaphonic Vocal) – Blue 6 (mp3)

Give me a few days to get back up to speed here.

They Can Do Magic


I’ve been playing this song a lot lately. I’ve known it since it was a hit in 1973 so it’s far from being a new record to me but I heard it again recently and was suddenly struck by what an utterly great pop-soul record it was, with a sunny and breezy charm that’s quite, well, magic. Music is funny like that sometimes, one minute a record is like wallpaper — always there but not really noticed — the next you see it’s beauty with new eyes (or ears in this case).

And what a great name for a band Limmie & The Family Cookin’ is. They were formed in Ohio by Limmie Snell and his sisters Martha and Jimmie — the latter of whom is the sweet voice on this — who never had any hits at home but scored three in the UK of which “Magic” was the first and biggest.

Not sure if a song that got to #3 in the charts can qualify as a “lost” classic but I think this is one of those records that only people of a certain age know, and for some of us perfectly captures Radio One in the 1970s.

Download: You Can Do Magic – Limmie & The Family Cookin’ (mp3)

Sleeve Talk


When I think of living rooms in the 1970s certain things always come to mind: brown shag carpet, G-Plan furniture, spider plants, an Alphonse Mucha poster on the wall, and on a shelf a copy of Motown Chartbusters Vol. Six with the bluebottle-spaceship cover painted by Roger Dean.

As a kid I thought that spaceship was fantastic — though I had no idea what it had to do with Motown — and was a big fan of Dean’s work along with other SF/Fantasy artists like Chris Foss and Patrick Woodroffe whose art adorned the covers of the SF novels I was reading. Before I started spending all my money on records I spent it on collections of their work like Dean’s book Views. My number one artistic wish at the time was to draw Marvel comics, but second would have been to paint like those guys.

Dean is best known for his Prog Rock album covers, particularly those for Yes so he might seem a strange choice of artist for Motown to commission, but the album came out in 1971 early in his career before he was too closely associated with Prog. He had already painted a couple of album covers for Afrobeat group Osibisa so he did have some previous with black music.


Looking at this and the Motown album I’m thinking George Clinton should have got Dean to do some Parliament/Funkadelic sleeves.

Though there was never a set style for the Chartbusters series, most volumes usually had art that was either abstract or generic and a bug-spaceship may not seem like the sort of imagery you’d associate with a soul record. Hiring Dean could have been another of Motown’s attempts to appear more tuned-in and hip to the long-haired generation. In the 60s they’d added psychedelic flourishes to records and released more socially-aware material, and Vol. Six came out the same year as What’s Going On? so this may have been a way of selling some more of that counterculture vibe.


Whatever their reasons they got a sleeve that is highly memorable and distinctive because it’s so unexpected, and I wish they’d given Dean the whole series to do. I also love how the back cover imagines a Motortown Review in the futuristic date of 2008 happening on a spaceship. Unfortunately we know the reality wasn’t quite so far-out.

Download: Nathan Jones – The Supremes (mp3)
Download: Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor (mp3)

Commercial Break


This ad is a classic example of turning rebellion into money, in this case using women’s lib to sell booze. These ads are never aimed at people who already are adventurous, rebellious rule-breakers, but instead they’re for people who want to be like that. The message is always the same: Drink this, eat that, wear this, listen to that band, and you will be a cool person. One of the good things about getting older is not caring too much about that anymore, which is why advertisers don’t care about my demographic either.

The “until I discovered Smirnoff” campaign was so famous it inspired jokes like “I thought Cunnilingus was an Irish airline until I discovered Smirnoff” but was stopped in 1975 when the British government passed a law against alcohol advertising that claimed drinking the product would lead to sexual or social success. This is a witty ad but it does unfortunately equate women’s liberation with being sexually available, especially once you’ve got a few vodkas inside you.

Smirnoff certainly wasn’t the first company to co-op youth or social movements for the purposes of capitalism but I wonder who was. Probably someone in the 1920s using the Bright Young Things to sell headache powders.

Let’s get funky.

Download: Liberation Conversation – Marlena Shaw (mp3)

Something for the Weekend



The release of the Tabu Records Box Set inspired to dig out my Alexander O’Neal albums the other night which still sound terrific. His first two are nearly perfect thanks to the genius of Jam & Lewis but if forced to choose between them I’d pick Hearsay over his debut because of tracks like this.

The video is rather great too. Like, totally 80s.

A New Career in a New Town


I doubt if the designers of this poster intended to make “new town” Milton Keynes look like some post-apocalyptic dystopia populated by creepy zombie families living in concrete bunkers, but that’s what they ended up with.

No, I’m not going to post that Style Council record because I don’t like it much. This 1987 club classic (that they covered), however, is brilliant.

Download: Promised Land (Original 12″ Mix) – Joe Smooth (mp3)

My London

“The Greater London Council is responsible for a sprawl shaped like a rugby ball about twenty five miles long and twenty miles wide; my city is a concise kidney-shaped patch within that space, in which no point is no more than about seven miles from any other. On the south it is bounded by the river, on the north by the fat tongue of Hampstead Heath and Highgate Village, on the west by Brompton Cemetery and on the east by Liverpool Street station. I hardly ever trespass beyond those limits, and when I do I feel like I’m in foreign territory…It is the visitor who goes everywhere; to the resident, a river or railway track, even if it is bridged every few hundred yards, may be as absolute a boundary as a snakepit or ocean.”
Jonathan Raban, Soft City (1974)

A bloke at work asked me recently if I’d been to Abbey Road to see the famous zebra crossing and was really shocked when I said I hadn’t. He assumed that, being a Londoner, I must have.

Besides the fact that I would never act like a sight-seeing tourist in the city I grew up in*, Abbey Road is in NW8 which might as well be Mars to this boy from Fulham SW6 who rarely ventured to the north of the city. To me, Camden was a foreign land I only ever visited to go to the Electric Ballroom. My London — the city I knew and was comfortable in — was bordered on the north by the Westway, went as far east as Holborn, out west to Hammersmith, from there south of the river to Barnes, and then east on that side of the Thames as far as Wandsworth.

If it was a Tube map it would look like this:


Though I have lived and worked in some of them at various times, the areas beyond these borders might as well have a Here Be Dragons sign on them – or at least Here Be Media Luvvies (North London) and Here Be Pub Fights (SE London) — for all I know about them, or care to. Visiting friends who lived outside my comfort zone I often didn’t feel like I was still in London even though the A-Z said I was — I mean, where the bloody hell is Stoke Newington? It’s doubly uncomfortable feeling like a stranger in your own home city, and you don’t ever want the shame of someone thinking you’re a tourist or out-of-towner by asking for directions or looking at a map.

Every Londoner will have their own version of the city like this (just as there are New Yorkers who never go uptown or downtown) because it’s just too big for one person to feel at home everywhere. I remember several times falling asleep drunk on a night bus and waking up in unfamiliar territory near the end of the route. You quickly get off the bus in a panic — where the fuck am I? — and start walking (or staggering) back in what you think is the right direction. Then, in the distance, you see a building or road that you know and immediately your spirit lifts and your pace quickens. You’ve crossed the border into your London and everything is going to be all right.

Download: London Town – Light of The World (mp3)

Pretty sure I posted this song before a few years ago but what the hell, it’s worth doing again. Think this might be my all-time favourite London record, and there’s been some good ones.

*I have also never been inside Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, or The Tower of London.

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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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