Red Wedgy

24 06 2017

 

 

Walls Come Tumbling Down by Daniel Rachel

 

Walls Come Tumbling Down charts the pivotal period between 1976 and 1992 that saw politics and pop music come together for the first time in Britain’s musical history; musicians and their fans suddenly became instigators of social change, and ‘the political persuasion of musicians was as important as the songs they sang’. Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel follows the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

Composed of interviews with over a hundred and fifty of the key players at the time, Walls Come Tumbling Down is a fascinating, polyphonic and authoritative account of those crucial sixteen years in Britain’s history.

 

 

Pop, politics and nostalgia collide in this rather unusual book which documents the development and disintegration of three big musical and political movements of the 70s and 80s. Commendably, the author has recorded and combined a series of first person accounts from all those who were there at the time (apart, I think, from Paul Weller who is represented by quotes from back in the day) and through these stories we learn about the remarkable force of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge. Inevitably perhaps participants want to claim these movements genuinely changed society and, while there are some reasonable claims about impact (with the anthemic ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ arguably the strongest), music and politics can’t coexist successfully for long. Did anything really change? Yes and no, but there are some great stories on the way and some great memories too. Slightly disappointed about the limited coverage of the Red Wedge shows in Edinburgh which I can remember distributing leaflets for but you can’t have everything.

 





For the Fans: Approximation of a playlist §70

17 04 2017

Football team nicknames

Some football teams really do have rather odd nicknames (others are a bit more obvious though):

I’m Your Villain – Franz Ferdinand

Go Now – The Moody Blues

Ram jam – Black Betty

White winter hymnal – Fleet Foxes

Canary In A Coalmine – The Police

Good Technology – Red Guitars

Green Hornet – Al Hirt

If I Had A Hammer – Mel Torme

Royal correspondent – Manic Street Preachers

Tiger Feet – Mud

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

Buffalo stance – Neneh Cherry

The Birds And The Bees – Jewel Akens

I Ran (So Far Away) – A Flock of Seagulls

Rockin’ Robin – The Jackson 5

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit

Bootie Call – All Saints

Magpie – Abraham

Darlin’ – Frankie Miller

Baggy Trousers – Madness

Ride A White Swan – T.Rex

Hey Dude Kula Shaker

Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

A Forest – The Cure

Back of My Hand – Jags

I’m sure there are plenty more.





Chinese New Year: approximation of a playlist §69

28 01 2017

Songs concerned with the Chinese Zodiac

A mildly topical playlist…

Black Horse And The Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall

Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions

Digging Your Scene – The Blow Monkeys

Rat Race – The Specials

The Size Of A Cow – The Wonder Stuff

Rabbit – Chas ‘n’ Dave

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

Who Let The Dogs Out – B-Boyz

Union Of The Snake – Duran Duran

A Horse With No Name – America

I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stoogesthe_rolling_stones-little_red_rooster_s_2

Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag – Pig Bag

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – U2

Tiger Feet – Mud

Sheep – The Housemartins

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night

Monkey gone to heaven – The Pixies

Spanish Horses – Aztec Camera

Diamond dogs – David Bowie

And Dreams of Sheep – Kate Bush

Rat Trap – The Boomtown Rats

Mansize rooster – Supergrass

Ox-ford Comma – Vampire Weekend

Goatman – Goat

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones

 

Happy New Year!





Helpful advice: approximation of a playlist §68

11 01 2017

Songs concerned with providing helpful advice

 

Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing – Incognito
You Can’t Hurry Love  – Diana Ross & The Supremes
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Don’t Marry Her – The Beautiful South
Honey Be Good – The Bible
Don’t look back in anger  – Oasis
Your Mother Should Know – The Beatles
Don’t Sleep In The Subway – Petula Clark
Treat Her Like A Lady – The Temptations
Don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington – Vic Reeves
Drive Safely Darlin’  – Tony Christie

 

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Handle with Care – Travelling Wilburys
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Your Mother Should Know – The Beatles
Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time – Nancy Sinatra
White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel
Don’t cry for me Argentina  – Julie Covington
You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees
Billy Don’t Be A Hero – Paper Lace
Don’t talk – 10,000 Maniacs

 
Wise words indeed.





Cheggers played pop: approximation of a playlist §67

28 03 2016

Just a few of the artists who appeared on one extraordinary TV show

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Cheggers Plays Pop was a classic game show (with an impossibly enthusiastic host) which involved a series of quiz rounds for kids interspersed with some music. What I always enjoyed was the sheer variety of the bands showcased. As this eclectic sample of performers demonstrates:

Suzi Quatro – If You Can’t Give Me Love
Slade – Give Us A Goal
Showaddywaddy – I Wonder Why
Mud – Cut Across Shorty
Sailor – All I Need Is A Girl
Darts – The Boy From New York City
The Dooleys – Don’t Take It Lyin Down
Brotherhood Of Man – Beautiful Lover
Lindisfarne – Run For Home250px-Cheggersplayspop_logo_large
Brian & Michael – Ma, When’s Me Dad Coming Home/Matchstick Men…
Racey – Some Girls
Rocky Sharpe & the Replays – Imagination
The Real Thing – Can You Feel The Force
M – Pop Musik
The Monks – Nice Legs, Shame About The Face
Dollar – Who Were You With In The Moonlight
The Wurzels – Wurzeling Time in Somerset
The Grumbleweeds – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick/Do You Think I’m Sexy
The Krankies – Charlie Brown
The Buggles – Clean Clean
Shakin’ Stevens – Hot Dog
Barbara Dickson – January February
The Lambrettas – Poison Ivy
Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno
Undertones – My Perfect Cousin
Bad Manners – Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu
New Seekers – Tell Me
Jona Lewie – You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties
B.A.Robertson – To Be Or Not To Be
Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up
Coast To Coast – Do The Hucklebuck
Duran Duran – Planet Earth
The Beat – All Out To Get You
Toyah – I Want To Be Free
Department S – Is Vic There?
999 – Obsessed
Paul Shane & Ruth Madoc – Hi De Hi (Holiday Rock)
Tenpole Tudor – Swords Of A Thousand Men
Modern Romance – Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey
Altered Images – See Those Eyes
A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran
Classix Nouveaux – Is It A Dream
Alvin Stardust – Weekend
Bananarama & Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something
Madness – House Of Fun
Haircut 100 – Fantastic Day
Bow Wow Wow – See Jungle (Jungle Boy)
Tight Fit – Fantasy Island
Yazoo – Only You
ABC – The Look Of Love
Nolans – Crashing Down
JoBoxers – Just Got Lucky
Big Country – In A Big Country
The Police – Every Breath You Take
The Fun Adicts – Bad Boys
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me
Bluebells – I’m Falling
Captain Sensible – Glad It’s All Over
Matt Bianco – Sneakin’ Out The Backdoor
Kajagoogoo – Turn Your Back
Nik Kershaw – Dancing Girls
Hazel Dean – Searching
Pauline Black – Pirates On The Airways
Flying Pickets – When You’re Young And In Love
Boomtown Rats – Drag Me Down
Limahl – Two Much Trouble
Spandau Ballet – Only When You Leave
Scritti Politti – Absolute
David Cassidy – Someone
Strawberry Switchblade – Jolene
Erasure – Who Needs Love Like That
Depeche Mode – It’s Called A Heart
Level 42 – Something About You
Ruby Turner – Bye Bye
The Stranglers – Nice In Nice
Hollywood Beyond – No More Tears
Amazulu – Montego Bay
Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit
The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hanging On
Red Box – For America
And finally, in episode 82, on 7th November 1986:
Dr & the Medics – Burn

 





Really not the Alan Bennett of pop

24 10 2015

Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn

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‘I was only sixteen when I bought an electric guitar and joined a band. A year later, I formed an all-girl band called the Marine Girls and played gigs, and signed to an indie label, and started releasing records.

‘Then, for eighteen years, between 1982 and 2000, I was one half of the group Everything But the Girl. In that time, we released nine albums and sold nine million records. We went on countless tours, had hit singles and flop singles, were reviewed and interviewed to within an inch of our lives. I’ve been in the charts, out of them, back in. I’ve seen myself described as an indie darling, a middle-of-the-road nobody and a disco diva. I haven’t always fitted in, you see, and that’s made me face up to the realities of a pop career – there are thrills and wonders to be experienced, yes, but also moments of doubt, mistakes, violent lifestyle changes from luxury to squalor and back again, sometimes within minutes.’

From post-punk teen-band rivalry in suburban Hertfordshire to international chart-topping success via a shared bedsit in Hull, three decades of touring and making music, and collaborations with Paul Weller, Massive Attack and dance legend Todd Terry – this is the funny, perceptive and candid true story of how Tracey Thorn grew up and tried to be a pop star.

I feel like I’ve grown up with Tracey Thorn. Her first solo album and the early EBTG recordings were pretty much the soundtrack to my late school and university years. As a result I found this memoir absolutely fascinating. Genuinely frank and funny it is a really easy read and offers real insight into the music business. Comparisons with any northern playwright, writer and diarist are very wide of the mark though (no matter what Caitlin Moran says).
 
4 star

Naked at the Albert Hall by Tracey Thorn

 

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Part memoir, part wide-ranging exploration of the art, mechanics and spellbinding power of singing, Naked at the Albert Hall takes in Dusty Springfield, Dennis Potter and George Eliot; Auto-tune, the microphone and stage presence; The Streets and The X Factor. Including interviews with fellow artists such as Alison Moyet, Romy Madley-Croft and Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, and portraits of singers in fiction as well as Tracey’s real-life experiences, it offers a unique, witty and sharply observed insider’s perspective on the exhilarating joy and occasional heartache of singing.

A natural sequel to Bedsit Disco Queen in this book Tracey Thorn covers the realities of being a singer together with lots of insights into the music industry. Full of rich anecdotes and frank commentary as well as observations from her peers, Thorn does a great job in covering singing in a fresh and entertaining way.

4 star





Gig nostalgia

7 02 2015

Everything But The Girl – January 1985

This academic year Edinburgh University Library has been publishing, each week, the edition of Student from 30 years ago. 1984-85 was my second year as a student at Edinburgh and every one of these brings back some great (mainly) memories. One of my favourites from the 31 January 1985 paper though is this review of the first Everything But The Girl gig I attended:

 

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It’s a rubbish headline obviously and not quite how I remember the gig which to my mind was uniformly wonderful.

That’s nostalgia for you though.








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