Some kind soul has uploaded every single episode of The Tube from 1982-1987 to Youtube. I’ve seen individual clips before but watching full episodes 40 years on is a revelation. I had thought it was a platform for ‘new music’ but seeing the full shows in retrospect it reveals itself as very much a mixed bag. Series 4 Episode 5 for example has Elton John, a boring turn from the Young Ones cast, a Mark E.Smith/Brix interview with Muriel Grey, Prefab Sprout and something from Soft Cell then back to Elton to end the show. The archive material here is amazing. Interviews with unsigned bands such as the Bangles and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Paula Yates visiting a fortune teller. 80s hairdressers explain their craft. The editor of the NME Neil Spencer responding to criticism of elitism. Jill Furmanovsky describing her approach to photography, Pete Frame saying he never gets bored with his rock family trees … and yet there is so much dross. One hit wonders such as King. And acts who seemed popular at the time (Carmel) being eclipsed by those who got a lukewarm reaction in the Tube clips (Madonna). Fascinating stuff, not sure how long it » Continue Reading.
He hasn’t had a good year, Mt Goulden. He’s become an old age pensioner, lost his [US] health insurance and his wife Amy Rigby was on stage when fold singer David Olney died in mid set. Now he’s tested positive for coronavirus but says he seems to be scraping through. I saw him last year at our local bowlo-turned music club in Petersham, Sydney. Hope he lives up to his name.
I’m no fan of rap but I was surprised to read this on the Australian ABC site. Our local plod are taking ‘proactive policing’ to a new level in their targeting a drill rap group. As the article states, they aim to use any legislation they can to stop the rappers OneFour working and performing, by using anti-motorcycle gang laws to prevent them associating with each other. They say the drill rap scene encourages violence and they aim to stop it by whatever means they have at their disposal – by banning concerts and even ordering Spotify to take down their music. Two members of the band are now in prison. The comments by Sergeant Truelove sound like Brian Epstein telling the Beatles to write something more wholesome. “Why can’t they sing about something else?” he asked. “It’s tough to live in Mount Druitt, sing about that. Speak about how brilliantly beautiful your wife is.” Is this just a bunch of racist white people telling black people how to behave?
Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney
This low key gig at a re-vamped suburban bowling club was billed as Wreckless Eric’s return to Australia after 38 years. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but went along out of curiosity and because Wreckless Eric featured in my first ever real gig – the Be Stiff tour of 1978 at Leeds Uni (along with Jonah Lewie, Lene Lovich, Mickey Jupp and Rachel Sweet).
Eric was playing solo, with just an amplified acoustic guitar, and this suited the venue, which is literally an old bowling club that has been taken over by the local community of inner-city ageing hipsters and turned into a craft beer bar that puts on a few gigs. As he was tuning up Eric made some quip about having a meat raffle and then launched into one of his newer songs, which went down well. He then did a spiel about this being his first tour Down under in 38 years “and if it goes alright I’ll be back in another 38 …”.
It was a small and intimate venue and a few members of the 100-or so crowd started shouting out questions and anecdotes » Continue Reading.
Picked up Dave Stewart’s autobiography (Sweet Dreams Are Made of This) at the library and it makes for fascinating if annoying reading. I never realised he had worked with so many people. The book is just chapter after chapter of name dropping. Even during the Eurythmics he’s working with Stevie Wonder (harmonica on There Must Be An Angel) and Stevie Nicks, simultaneously (or so it seems). And among others there are Clem Burke, Terry Hall (Vegas), Dylan, Harrison, Jagger, Elton, Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Tom Petty, Bono …
He seems like a nice guy but unfortunately the book gives little real insight into what inspires him or how he works.
For much of it he comes across a bit like Gary Bloke from Celeb cartoon. A typical bit might read:
“I was playing tennis with Tony Blair and Paul Allen from Microsoft at my second new property in Cannes when the maid told me there was a strange woman in our living room. Remembering the words of Deepak Chopra (or was it Nelson Mandela?): “A stranger is just a friend you have not yet met” I went inside to find Katy Perry lying on the floor tapping out a » Continue Reading.
I recently Facebook friended a work colleague who it turns out was a drummer in an obscure band in the 1980s (don’t ask). I’m not a great FB user but when I do use it I notice his shared posts now appear in my timeline with comments from many musicians of that era. It appears that as well as being a musician, my workmate was involved in industry management and PR for a while. As such, he became very matey with members of many bands on the Liverpool, Manchester, London and Australian scenes at the time. He’s about five years older than me, and his contemporaries were the people in the bands of my school and uni years. I now find that the people who composed and sang my favourite songs and played the memorable riffs of my youth are popping up on my FB feed talking about such mundane matters as electricity bills and AirBnB reviews. As a teenager I’d envied their rock and roll coolness and so much wanted to BE them, or at least in their gang. Now now they are just other names in the comments and replies section moaning about Trump or sharing inspirational quotes » Continue Reading.
A month ago our teenage son was arrested for dealing ecstasy and is now locked up in a Sydney prison facing a sentence of several years. You don’t expect it to be a palace but the reality of the conditions he’s being held in were still a shock to the system. Locked in an overcrowded cell with strangers for 22 hours a day. At first we thought he was holding up well, but after a couple of weeks when the reality of his long incarceration set in, he started to withdraw, become hardened and is visibly becoming “broken in” and institutionalised. The uncertainty is one of the worst things. We’ve been told it could be up to a year before his trial comes up in the clogged NSW legal system. And already he’s been transferred at short notice from one shithole to another. The lawyers we’ve hired are as pessimistic as they are expensive. Has anyone ever been in prison or knows anything about the system, and can give us any insight into how to cope with this?
Have you looked miserable in the doorway of Salford Lads Club or worn your baggy trousers to Chalk Farm Station? The recent post on National Trust Beatles got me thinking about places I’d visited because I had an interest in bands.
Having lived in Liverpool I’ve done all the Beatles ones. Apart from that … I did visit the Ziggy Stardust “K West” sign on one of my first visits to London in the late 70s. I also went to CBGBs well past its heyday, but that was to see an actual band rather than to see where Television or Blondie started out. Most recently I accidentally found myself at a spot near the Sydney Harbour Bridge that I recognised from the Go Betweens video Bye Bye Pride.
Are there any musical locations you have been to or aspired to visit?
The recent thread about posh accents in music got me thinking about the accents of the punk/New Wave era. There seemed to be a convention that in 1977 you had to speak a bit cockney or a like geezer such as Jimmy Pursey or Danny Baker. Listening to some old Mekons, Gang of Four and Delta 5 sessions it struck me how all these privately educated kids were putting on these right-on ‘”awright innit” accents. Suppose the same applied to folk like Strummer and Hugh Cornwell (PhD). What brought this home was Yorkshireman Graeme Fellowes telling 6 Music that he sang Jilted John that way because it was the ‘patois’ of the time. Any other examples?
There’s a great moment in 11.22.63 when Jake Epping (James Franco) sings a verse of a Beatles song to his girlfriend. But as a time traveller, he’s in 1962 and she has no idea what the ‘catchy tune’ is. This is just one of the “what if …?” moments in this enjoyable series. I’m not a big fan of Stephen King, but this is a non-horror outing, based on the tantalising question of whether you would try prevent the assassination of JFK if you were given the chance. I won’t give anything away, but much of this 8-part series is about a guy from 2016 trying to adjust back to early 1960s life and mores. I think it does the period very well (though I was born in ’63 so what would I know?) It’s interesting to see how much the early 60s were like a continuation of the 50s until the Beatles arrived on the scene – quite conservative and still bound by conventions such as wearing a suit and hat. There are some great cars and diners and songs from that era. If you can suspend your disbelief over the absurdities of his time travel capability, it’s a » Continue Reading.
There’s a great moment in 11.22.63 when Jake Epping (James Franco) sings a verse of a Beatles song to his girlfriend. But as a time traveller, he’s in 1962 and she has no idea what the ‘catchy tune’ is. This is just one of the “what if …?” moments in this enjoyable series. I’m not a big fan of Steven King, but this is a non-horror outing, based on the tantalising question of whether he would try prevent the assassination of JFK if he was given the chance. I won’t give anything away, but much of this 8-part series is about a guy from 2016 trying to adjust back to early 1960s life and mores. I think it does the period very well (though I was born in ’63 so what would I know?) It’s interesting to see how much the early 60s were like a continuation of the 50s until the Beatles arrived on the scene – quite conservative and still bound by conventions such as wearing a suit and hat. There are some great cars and diners and songs from that era. If you can suspend your disbelief over the absurdities of his time travel capability, it’s a » Continue Reading.
The recent death of Colin Vearncombe of Black got me looking on Youtube for Wonderful Life – a wonderful song and video in itself. Having lived in Liverpool from 1980-87, I also ended up re-listening/viewing a few other songs from great but overlooked Liverpool bands of that era (Cook Da Books?). At the time these bands were overshadowed by the likes of the Bunnymen, Frankie etc – but their songs have stood the test of time. So for all you sun-starved Brits in the middle of winter here is the very summery and most excellent First Picture of You from the Lotus Eaters. Thank you.
I’ve just finished watching the 1975-77 series Survivors, which was conceived by Dr Who writer Terry Nation. I’m not a big fan if science fiction but I found the first series of this engrossing and still quite disturbing, even after 40 years. Some of the acting is a bit wooden in that Onedin Line/The Broers/Colditz 1970s way, but the storyline was interesting.
I only meant to watch a snippet for old times sake but got so invested in the plot and characters that ended up watching the whole lot. It’s a bit slow paced compared to modern TV’s quick-change editing and sometimes nothing happens at all. There’s a certain innocence about it all – and I found it endearing and quaint when characters simply gave up and said they just didn’t know what to do – quite a contrast to the modern day win at all costs mentality.
The actual storyline is quite believable in the age of Ebola, bird flu and Zika virus. And the producers didn’t mess around with the subject of death – it is remarkably bleak without being gory or sensationalist. I vaguely remember watching it the first time around – I certainly remember the » Continue Reading.
One of the reasons I chose to go to Liverpool University in 1980 was because of the “Liverpool Scene” – it seemed to be one of the places where music was happening at the time (and it was cheaper than London on a student grant). I arrived with Crocodiles and Kilimanjaro LPs but I could equally have chosen Manchester, Edinburgh or Glasgow, which also had amazing band scenes.
If I was a student now, where would I choose to go? I was thinking about this recently because my son is just finishing his equivalent of A Levels here in Australia – but he has little interest in music and it’s not a factor in where he wants to go to study. If it were me (and I could choose anywhere in the world), I think I would probably choose Seattle. I recently came across their local radio station KEXP’s Youtube channel, which is a showcase for an amazing number of bands based around the city. Seattle seems to have shrugged off the grunge image and is now host to a lot of very diverse bands.
What is it that makes a city have a music scene these days? » Continue Reading.
Would it be sound like this? Just a thought as I was listening to it while cycling over Sydney Harbour Bridge today …
I’ve been (re) listening to Delta 5 a bit recently and one of my favourite tracks is Train Song. I can’t find any lyrics online but they seem to include references to knitting (“cast on three for another’s jumper”). Is this unique in he annals of popular music or are there other songs with lyrics celebrating knitting, crocheting, needlepoint or other fabric-related crafts?
Wasn’t sure what to expect of Bill Drummond. I really only know of him as the man behind Zoo Records and some of the Bunnymen’s more interesting ventures (having been a Liverpool resident at the rime). Was vaguely aware of his KLF and burning-a-million-quid activities – and his more recent efforts at baking cakes and giving out soup. So I was a bit wary when I walked into the small theatre to take the last available seat on the front row, and see a half-made bed on the stage. And I don’t mean unmade sheets – an actual wooden frame bed, surrounded by bits of timber cut offs. Was Bill going to burn it or get the audience to help him finish it off? Fortunately, the evening proved to be an interest journey through his theories on art, without any serious audience humiliation – although there were plenty of willing volunteers to have their shoes shined, pull raffle tickets out of hats etc. It was all quite low key. Bill Drummond strode on stage looking like he’d just stepped out of the garage after doing a bit of DIY – which is what he’d » Continue Reading.
During the long hiatus over the summer hemisphere summer I took a road trip to Melbourne. On the way what should come up on the playlist but a Peel session by Delta 5. I’d not heard them for years and had mentally filed them away as a dour feminist outfit. Therefore I was quite surprised to hear how funky they were, and the humour in their songs. Since getting back home I’ve been trying to track down more of their stuff, but apart from a decade-old album of re-releases and a single Youtube clip there doesn’t seem to be much out there. I knew they were part of the Gang of Four/Mekons crowd at Leeds Uni and I think I might have seen them at least once (but I saw so many bands then it’s all a blur). Anybody got any idea what happened to them – the only info I can find is a few anecdotes from their former drummer, who said they would ‘never reform in a million years’.