Wednesday, 5 December 2012

500 singles on a snowy night in Durham

Greetings from the frozen north. I’ve got a confession to make - it’s been over two months since my last 500 singles blog posting. If you find that kind of wait unacceptable, then you can find me on twitter (@boxofpeppers) where I ramble on a far more frequent basis.
To make amends here’s a picture of a classic single that features on our page 12 tonight.



We’re going to concentrate on page 12  this time (from The Rubinoos to Spandau Ballet –  singles numbered 363 to 395)
Page 12 goes pretty much as follows;
The Rubinoos – I think we’re alone now and Rock and Roll is dead – I was attracted to The Rubinoos for one reason and one reason only, their records appeared on the same Beserkeley label as Jonathan Richman
Saxon – Wheels of Steel – You can’t say this list isn’t varied!
Scritti Politti – The Sweetest Girl – quite simply one of the best pop singles ever recorded
The Scaffold – Thank U very much – pre-dating the kind of textspeak favoured by Prince almost 20 years later (note also the brief departure from alphabetical order here as seen on the original list)
Jack Scott – My true love – quite simply another one of the best pop singles ever recorded and boasting a b-side (Leroy) that most artists can only dream of as an a-side
Neil Sedaka – Happy birthday sweet sixteen
The Seekers – The carnival is over – the kind of thing that was considered ‘folk music’ back then (when it was really unfashionable to be considered as such!)
The Shadows - Mary Anne and Wonderful land – watch out for a version of Apache by The Sugarhill Gang on the next page
Shakatak – Easier said than done – probably haven’t listened to this single since that day 27 years ago
Shalamar – Friends and There it is (still known as ‘Ferret ears’ around these parts)
Sandie Shaw – (There’s) always something there to remind me
Shock – Angel Face – check out the very 1980 cover below (original by The Gl****r band)

Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl – at this point they were simply brilliant
Skids – Working for the yankee dollar – not their best by any means, but pretty good all the same
Sky – Cannonball – see comment re Shakatak above
Slade – Everyday and Merry Xmas everybody
Slik – Forever and ever and Requiem – Midge never really bettered these two single as far as I’m concerned!
Slow children – spring in fialta – just found it again on the Youtube, a classic lost early 80s single http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGod9lHmHmc if you’re particularly interested
The Smiths – This Charming man and What difference does it make? – it tends to be forgotten now but The Smiths were a great pop band
Sniff ‘n’ the tears – Driver’s seat and Driver’s seat (remix) – with the benefit of hindsight this seems a bit like cheating
Snips – 9 o’clock – a sort of power-poppy kind of thing struggling its way to 1500 YouTube views
Soft Cell – Soul inside, What and Where the heart is – What is a classic pop single, the other two aren’t (sorry Marc and David). Not sure if it was an urban myth, but we heard that Soft Cell’s producer Mike Thorne was the son of our primary school teacher from Chester Road school in Sunderland (just googled him and he was actually born in Sunderland – maybe it’s true!)
Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock – possibly the most influential single on this page? An classic early hip-hop tune
Spandau Ballet – Chant No. 1 – in many ways time hasn’t been to kind to Spandau Ballet and I wanted to prove time wrong so I listened again to this track and it turns out that time was probably right all along (sorry boys – did enjoy your court case though!)


 Soundtrack to this post  - 'Writer's block' by Peter Bjorn and John

Saturday, 24 November 2012

My favourite 50 films

Taking a brief break from the 500 singles and moving swiftly to my 50 favourite films. Inspired  to make my selection by a small and dedicated band of twitter geeks (tweeks?) here are my favourite 50 films, adhering strictly to the rule of no more than two films by the same director.

Please note that this is my list dated 24th November 2012 - ask me tomorrow and you may get a completely different answer!

According to my statistics the greatest year for film was 2004 with 7 entries (who knew?!) and the 1930s and the 1950s have no entries at all. Oh, and the whole of the top three are black and white.

1.       Metropolis (1927) – Fritz Lang
2.       Young Frankenstein (1974) – Mel Brooks
3.       It’s a wonderful life (1946) – Frank Capra
4.       Amelie (2001) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet
5.       Casshern (2004) – Kazuaki Kiriya
6.       Pan’s labyrinth (2006) – Guillermo del Toro
7.       Barry Lyndon (1975) – Stanley Kubrick
8.       Spirited away (2001) - Hayao Miyazaki
9.       Walk the line (2005) – James Mangold
10.   2001 : A space odyssey (1968) – Stanley Kubrick
11.   The Godfather Part 2 (1974) – Francis Ford Coppola
12.   House of flying daggers (2004) – Yimou Zhang
13.   Akira (1988) – Katsuhiro Otomo
14.   Team America : World Police (2004) – Trey Parker
15.   Blade Runner (1982) – Ridley Scott
16.   The Empire strikes back (1980) – Irvin Kershner
17.   1492 Conquest of paradise (1992) – Ridley Scott
18.   Ferris Bueller’s day off (1986) – John Hughes
19.   O brother, where art thou (2000) – Joel Coen
20.   Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – Arthur Penn
21.   Princess Mononoke (1997) – Hayao Miyazaki
22.   The Godfather (1972) – Francis Ford Coppola
23.   The Incredibles (2004) – Brad Bird
24.   The Untouchables (1987) – Brian de Palma
25.   The abyss (1989) – James Cameron
26.   Cinema Paradiso (1988) – Giuseppe Tornatore
27.   La vie en rose (2007) – Olivier Dahan
28.   The day after tomorrow (2004) – Roland Emmerich
29.   A.I. : Artificial Intelligence (2001) – Steven Spielberg
30.   A very long engagement (2004) - Jean-Pierre Jeunet
31.   Shallow Grave (1994) – Danny Boyle
32.   Say anything (1989) – Cameron Crowe
33.   Uncle Buck (1989) – John Hughes
34.   Belleville Rendezvous (2003) – Sylvain Chomet
35.   Edward Scissorhands (1990) – Tim Burton
36.   This is Spinal Tap (1984) – Rob Reiner
37.   Le diner de cons (1998) – Francis Veber
38.   Hellboy (2004) - Guillermo del Toro
39.   2012 (2009) - Roland Emmerich
40.   Being there (1979) – Hal Ashby
41.   The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Wes Anderson
42.   Dune (1984) – David Lynch
43.   Eraserhead (1977) – David Lynch
44.   Avatar (2009) – James Cameron
45.   The time machine (1960) – George Pal
46.   Westworld (1973) – Michael Crichton
47.   Almost famous (2000) – Cameron Crowe
48.   Carry on Screaming (1966) – Gerald Thomas
49.   The jungle book (1967) – Wolfgang Reitherman
50.   Heat (1995) – Michael Mann


Sunday, 30 September 2012

500 singles and a bag of KP Skips

In the halcyon days of the mid 1980s, just like the visitors to The Hacienda, a small, dedicated group held their own 24 Hour Party. Ours was in a small church hall in Southwick, Sunderland and was fuelled by industrial amounts of pop, crisps and fish ‘n’ chips.
Now I’ve just finished reading Peter Hook’s enlightening ‘The Hacienda – How not to run a club’ and I don’t recall Irn Bru or KP Skips (at 13p a pack as you can see from this 1985 advert) featuring predominantly at Manchester's finest.

Anyway, as you should know by now if you’ve been paying attention, we played (‘back-to-back’ as DJs say) 500 singles. When we last spoke I left you clinging, precipice fashion, to single number 296 at the bottom of page 9, which I’m sure you will recall was New Edition’s ‘Candy Girl’. I bet you expected that after that, page 10 would begin with a scorcher – well that depends on your point of view, but if you love Anthony Newley you won’t be disappointed.
You’ll no doubt notice my 1980s twin obsessions (in the N to R range at least) of OMD and The Police, the former still treasured and let loose on my turntable from time to time, the latter languishing, in all their coloured vinyl glory, in the loft with spiders, Subbuteo, Scalextric and the famous ‘six pack’ limited edition of blue vinyl singles by The Police. Unfortunately this hasn’t appreciated in value with anything like the speed that I’d hoped and I won’t be retiring on the strength of it anytime soon. So it goes. (With apologies to Kurt!)
Page 10, then, skips merrily from
Anthony Newley - Lifetime of happiness - (sounding for all the world like a young David Bowie……or is it the other way around?, to
New Order  - Temptation - (here’s that Hacienda reference again – I do have more than one New Order single by the way, but all of the others are on 12”
Nick Nicely – The classic ‘Hilly Fields 1892’ much loved by Mark Radcliffe and for a while thought to have a ‘connection’ to Paul McCartney
Klaus Nomi – Lightning strikes - looking a bit like Emcee from Cabaret, but sounding like a man with his knackers in a vice
Gary Numan – ‘On Broadway’ which I think came free with an album
Des O’Connor – I Pretend - at the time (but not now) I owned as many Des O’Connor singles as I did Prefab Sprout singles.
Hazel O’Connor – (no relation) with the ‘classic’ D-Days in which we were convinced Hazel sang all about her time in Dagenham
Odyssey – If you’re looking for a way out (and by single No. 304 many people were!)
The Officeboy – With a woman like you – I knew nothing about The Officeboy then and it’s fair to say that I know even less about them/him now
Mike Oldfield – Guilty (both the title of the single and a general comment on my ownership of it)
Oliver – Good morning starshine – from ‘Hair’ or some similar late 1960s musical remembered more for cast nudity than anything else
One the Juggler – Passion Killer – I think it’s high time we had a ‘One the Juggler’ revival, but I accept that I may be in the minority
Orange Juice – L.O.V.E love, Rip it up, Simply Thrilled Honey – I found my way to Al Green through Orange Juice, so for that, and many other things, thanks guys!
OMD – Seven (count them!) in total – Introducing radios (which was included with the LP Organisation I think), Electricity, Maid of Orleans, Messages, Red frame white light, Souvenir (still in my all-time top 10) and Talking loud and clear.
Ottawan – Hands up – a great Disco ‘crowd pleaser’
Ottway & Barrett – DK 50/80 – a fantastic single, but can’t hear it without thinking of WD40
The Paper Dolls – Something here in my heart – classic and cheesy
Graham Parker - Temporary beauty – I’m listening to the LP from which this comes as I type
Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters (what else!)
Tom Petty – Don’t do me like that (from the days before he wore that strange hat)
Piranhas – Zambezi (another crowd pleaser)
Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi (also hovering around my top 10!)
The Polecats – Rockabilly Guy (as you’ll see when we reach page 13 we have Polecats but no Stray Cats on the list – I can’t explain it either)
The Police – two of them on this page – Bring on the night (black vinyl), Can’t stand losing you (light blue)

And so to page 11
The Police – five on this page – Don’t stand so close to me (black vinyl), Message in a bottle (green), Nothing Achieving (black), Roxanne (red, I think), Walking on the moon (back to black)
Popular History of signs – Justice not vengeance – a great single, but otherwise, in the words of Manuel, ‘I know nothing’
Postman Pat – Postman Pat – in which Pat and his black and white cat, Jess, deliver the mail in Greendale
Prefab Sprout – Lions in my own garden (exit someone) – I love music and I love brackets, so tracks with brackets are some of my most favourite
The Pretenders – Kid – I know many don’t agree but The Pretenders get on my nerves a bit
Judas Priest – Take on the world – in which a man with more than a passing resemblance to Tim Brooke-Taylor dons studded leather and belts out a big tune.
Prince – Little Red Corvette – a diminutive genius
Private lives – Memory of your name – I refer you to my previous comment re. Manuel
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink – a 500 list high point I think
Public Image Ltd – Public Image – in which a former hero of punk music generally makes a lot of noise, but somehow ends up making a classic single
Q-tips – Tracks of my tears – in which a future major star (Paul Young) renders a half passable version of a classic, but only half passable
Queen – Bicycle race – of all the Queen singles, still I suppose it could have been worse!
Racey – Some girls – under-rated geniuses (the handwriting changes here you'll notice, with Susan taking over the duty for a while)
Gerry Rafferty – Get it right next time – not his best but still pretty great
The Ramones – Rock n Roll High School – One of the 10 best punk singles? Discuss.
Ray, Goodman and Brown – Special Lady – you may or may not know this one, but believe me Des O’Connor (No 302) is better
Chris Rea – Tennis – I’m sure even Chris would agree that this isn’t one of his best
Reluctant Stereotypes – She has changed (not you) – a rare and beautiful thing (with ‘Ben Shirtman’ on the b-side if I remember rightly)
Rezillos – Top of the pops – Please remember that this ism on the list when you see BA Robertson in 5 singles time
Cliff Richard – two from his good period (i.e. about 50 years ago) – Move it and Please don’t tease
Jonathan Richman – New England and Morning of our lives – my views on Jonathan (he’s the greatest living American) are well known
BA Robertson – Bang bang – it’s no ‘Kool in the Kaftan’ but you can’t have everything
Tom Robinson – 2 4 6 8 Motorway – or should that be TRB? In which a BBC 6 Music DJ sings (with gusto) about a motorway
Rocker’s revenge – Walking on sunshine – fantastically dubby (regardless of my spell-checkers’ protestations this should be a real word)
The Ronettes – Frosty the Snowman – The best Christmas single? The Darkness may not agree
Roxy Music – Jealous Guy and Trash – in which Bryan (with a Y) whistles and embraces the punk spirit respectively.

And that’s it for pages 10 and 11 – Join us soon for 12 and 13 featuring The Rubinoos, Neil Sedaka, The Skids, Slik, Soft Cell, Sparks and the incomparable Swans Way.
While typing today I listened to ‘Another Grey Area’ by Graham Parker and ‘Indiscreet’ by Sparks, both on lovely vinyl.



Sunday, 9 September 2012

500 singles and a brief history of Sunderland record shops

I thought I’d start this blog with something a little bit different – a musical history lesson. Or to be more accurate a little bit of detail to let you know where most of the ‘500 Singles’ came from. Now my memory is not too great but almost all of the discs came from record shops in Sunderland (with the exception of ELO’s ‘Sweet talkin’ woman’ which was bought in Keswick while on a school trip, XTC’s ‘Towers of London’ bought in Nottingham (Virgin I think), a handful bought in Whitby while at Scout camp and the odd one or two from shops in Newcastle).
At the time (late 70s to mid 80s) the record shops that I can remember in Sunderland went something like this;
The Record Rack – a second hand record shop in Hylton Road, within walking distance of our house. I loved this place and it had a major effect on my musical tastes for the short time that it traded. This is where I traded in my Yes, Genesis and Rush LPs for Magazine’s ‘Play’, Penetration’s ‘Moving Targets’, X-Ray Spex’ ‘Germ-free Adolescents’ and the first three Roxy Music LPs. I got loads of singles in here too, and even once found a copy of ‘Reward’ by The Teardrop Explodes on the pavement when halfway home from here. They used to fold bigger brown paper bags into 7” single sized covers and stamp ‘Record Rack’ on them with a rubber stamp.
The New Record Inn – A brilliant shop in Sunderland’s High Street (beside the legendary ‘Old 29’ pub) that sold ex-jukebox singles without middles (I now know that this is called ‘dinking’ apparently) at 10 singles for £1. They also seemed to be the only shop in Sunderland that sold Crass singles, but as one had a picture of rubber sex doll on the cover I never bought any! (in fact I used to hide my Boomtown Rats ‘Tonic for the Troops’ album because one track had the word ‘bugger’ on it! This may also explain why I was one of the last people I knew to own a copy of ‘Never mind the bollocks’). Both the New Record Inn and the Old 29 were demolished many years ago.
The Spinning Disk – This shop in Derwent Street (or Olive Street I could never remember which was which!) was a…….CHART RETURNS SHOP. If you ever wanted coloured vinyl, picture discs, T-shirts, double pack etc, etc, this was the place to get them.
Bergs – On the corner of Blandford Street and Maritime Terrace, the owner used to buy imported LPs and sell them cheaper than the other record shops in the town. My Spanish import of Genesis’ ‘Trick of the Tail’ came from here (which I later traded in at Record Rack) as did my copy of Blondie’s ‘Parallel lines’ (which I’m pleased to say I still have!). Incidentally just around the corner from Bergs was Josephs, the toy shop that didn’t like children to visit.
WH Smith – Beside the railway station, this was never the first choice for records, but I did once return three copies of Elvis Costello’s ‘Armed Forces’ there when they all jumped on my record player. It was also the place where I bought Spandau Ballet’s 12” single of ‘To cut a long story short’ on its first day of release, encouraged to do so by Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell. I was an avid listener to the old 275-285 mw in those days.
Woolworths – Also gone now of course, Woolworths was more of a chart singles only shop, but of course once singles dropped out of the chart Woolworths were keen to shift them fast and cheap!
HMV – In High Street at the time (in The Bridges now) and the only one of the shops on this list that still sells music. Once, just after the release of Scritti Politti’s fantastic single ‘The Sweetest Girl’ I visited HMV when they happened to be playing it. One of the learned assistants told another “It’s not as good as the old Scritti though is it”. For a while my only real ambition was to work in this shop (and not in Laws stores on Southwick Green as I did at the time)
Anyway back to the list I suppose! Pages 8 and 9 clearly include a major numbering mishap as you can see. They also include the usual suspect list of classics, lost masterpieces, guilty pleasures (a phrase not used at the time of course!) and downright embarrassments. Time has been kind to some (Joy Division, Lori & The Chameleons, Magazine for example) and not so kind to others (King Trigger, Marilyn and Multivizion)
There are lots of instances on these two pages where I only owned one single by a particular artist, although for many I have since corrected this sorry situation. Page 8 continues where page 7 left off, with Tom Jones (two of them), Joy (who?), only one by Joy Division (in my defence I had a few Joy Division 12” singles though), The Kalin Twins (‘When’, obviously), two by The Kane Gang (who were local heroes), Mick Karn’s ‘Sensitive’ (still one of my all-time favourites), Jane Kennaway, Nik Kershaw (2), Kid Creole & The Coconuts (also 2), King, King Trigger, Kraftwerk, Die Krups, Landscape (the classic ‘Einstein a go-go’), David Lasley, Thomas Leer, Leisure Process, Linx (2), Little Anthony (‘Tears on my pillow’ – my love of Doo-wop started early!), Little Tom (a sort of punky Tom Jones impersonator), Lori & The Chameleons (2), The Lurkers, M (3) and finally Billy McKenzie. A pretty strange mixture I think you’ll agree.
Page 9 runs from Madness’ ‘Our House’ through to New Edition’s ‘Candy Girl’. In between are classics such as Eddie Maelov and Sunshine Patteson’s ‘Lines’ and Magazine’s ‘A song from under the floorboards’. Also on page 9 – Marilyn, Bob Marley & The Wailers (2), Robert Marlow, Peter Marsh, Marshall Hain (bought at the Record Rack), Lee Marvin, Carolyne Mas (a lost pop classic?), Susan Maughan, Kate & Anna McGarrigle (2), The Members, The Midnight Choir, Stephanie Mills, Miro Miroe, Modern Jazz (the wonderful ‘in my sleep (I shoot sheep)’), Modern Romance, The Monkees, The Monroes, The Mood, Gary Moore, Motorhead, Multivizion, Munich Machine (essentially Giorgio Moroder – brilliant), Musical Youth, Naked Eyes, Nash the Slash, Bill Nelson and ending with the aforementioned New Edition.
That’s all for now – another post soon, hopefully. Incidentally The Icicle Works’ Birds fly (whisper to a scream) on the record player as I type.

If you're so inclined you can buy my Kindle book 'The Great Cassette Experiment - The Joy Of Cassettes' where I ramble my way through 130 albums of the '70s,'80s and' 90s.

If you're in the UK, simply take yourself to
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Friday, 17 August 2012

500 singles (pages 5,6 and 7) and a Smash Hits bonus

As a special treat for you today – 3 pages of the ‘500 singles’ list and a bonus picture of a 30 year old copy of Smash Hits found in the loft in the same box as the singles list.
It’s not just any old Smash Hits mind, it’s the Japan break-up edition. Contained inside is an interview with David Sylvian in which he is generally pretty miserable and moans about some of his earlier music – fairly representative of every David Sylvian interview I’ve ever read!
As usual, Mick Karn looks cool.
If you’re well behaved you might get more from this issue of Smash Hits at a later date as it also includes features on A Flock of Seagulls and Blancmange, a competition to win a Commodore VIC20 and a ‘what on earth has happened to The Rubettes’ question on the letters page – but for now it’s back to pages 5, 6 and 7 of the ‘500 singles’ list.
Page 5, as you can see starts with ‘Save the last dance for me’ by Drifters and ends with ‘December 1963’ by The Four Season. At least that’s what the list says – I’m fairly sure that there was more than one of them!
The Inbetweenies (Copyright Ian Dury) on page 5 are three by Duran Duran (before they were rubbish – sorry BT kids!), one by the aforementioned Ian Dury, Sheena Easton (I’m not proud of this), three by Echo and the Bunnymen (I am proud of this), Elias and his zigzag jive flutes (Tom Hark), four by ELO (including ‘Sweet talkin’ woman on purple vinyl), ‘The original bird dance’ by The Electronicas (rather than the vastly inferior remake), The Eurythmics (Sweet dreams), the fantastic ‘Wikka Wrap’ (list spelling rather than correct spelling I think) by The Evasions, The Everly Brothers, Falco (Junge Roemer not Rock me Amadeus), Fall out Club (nearly missed and included in the margin as an afterthought), five by The Farmer’s Boys (I loved The Farmer’s Boys – still do!), Bryan Ferry, Fischer Z, Fleetwood Mac (Tusk, still a revolutionary single), three by the amazing Flying Lizards, Eddie Fontaine, Foreigner and a very lonely Four Season.
I’ve given a lot of thought to my favourite page (which I know is rather sad) and I think I’ll choose at the end, but I hope you’ll agree that page 6 will be a serious contender. It has quality and variety, but it may also have, in number 186 (D.I.S.C.O. by Grops) the worst single on the whole list.
Page 6 starts with John Foxx, which I hope you’ll agree is always a good thing and moves on through Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Fun Boy 3, Funkapolitan (‘As the time goes by’ one of the world’s great under-rated singles), Future Daze (two by them but not sure why), Peter Gabriel (2), Genesis (Many to many, which I now know is spelled incorrectly), Robin Gibb, Ginger (not Baker just Ginger!), Glass Torpedoes (never seen another copy of this), ‘Angel Face’ by The Glitter Band (who of course started life as G**y G*****r’s backing band), God’s Toys (Everybody’s got a mother), Peter Godwin (only one because most of my Peter Godwin collection is on 12” singles, yours is probably the same!), Graham Gouldman (from the soundtrack to a cartoon that I can’t remember the name of), two by Grandmaster Flash (‘the message’ and ‘it’s a shame’ which is not the same as the Talk Talk track of them same name), Zaine Griff, Grops (with their vastly inferior version of D.I.S.C.O. – a fairly clever feat to pull off), H2O, George Harrison, Havana let’s Go (check them out on YouTube – you’ll love them! Unfortunately only ‘Torpedoes’ seems to be available), three by Heaven 17, Trevor Herion (also worth checking out), two by Nick Heyward, Jennifer Holiday, Honey Bane (her version of the Supremes’ ‘Baby love’) and Hot Chocolate.
Page 7, as you will understand if you know me, is dominated by The Human League and Japan but there are some other treasures too (and rather too many by Engelbert Humperdinck for comfort);
As you will see both my numbering skills and my grasp of the alphabet seems to dessert me on page 7, where we start with five by The Human League (all brilliant, but Empire State Human just gets better and better as the years go by ), three by Engelbert Humperdinck (more by ‘The Hump’ than by John Foxx – something’s very wrong here), two by Icehouse, two by The Icicle Works (including ‘Nirvana’), The Imposter (Declan to his Mum), In Embrace, ‘Steamhammer Sam’ by Intaferon (only the second single ever to use the ‘mouldy old dough’piano), I start Counting, three by Michael Jackson (he was very good, but the ‘King of Pop’ was actually Anthony Newley who features on page 10), The Jacksons, Rick James (is it me, or are a lot of the people on these three pages dead now?), six (SIX!) by Japan (including ‘Second that emotion’ on pink vinyl), and then, in no specific alphabetic order, Billy Joel, Gloria Jones (Tainted love – what else!), Grace Jones, Johnny Pearson Orchestra, France Joli and Tom Jones – there’s more Tom on page 8.
Join me soon for pages 8 and 9 when we reach the halfway point (sneak peak – Joy Division – Mick Karn – Leisure Process – M – Kate and Anna McGarrigle – Modern Romance – Naked Eyes and many more!)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

500 singles (pages 3 and 4)

Long, long ago, in the days before @helendisneygirl was a twinkle in the eye of @mummypace and me (@boxofpeppers), a disparate (and probably also desparate) bunch of us held a 24 hour record playathon type thing.
500 singles in 24 hours, all lovingly written on a list that has been hidden in a box in various lofts for around 27 years.
You already know about numbers 1 to 66, so here, as you can see, are numbers 67 to 132, David Bowie (Rebel, Rebel) to Dramatis (Ex Luna Scientia) and all points in between including Phil Collins before he was uncool.
As you can see from the attached pages 3 and 4, this section includes (as usual) some good stuff along with some decidedly indifferent stuff!
This section starts with two from Bowie, Box of Toys, Boystown Gang (the definitive version of ‘ain’t no mountain high enough), The Brecker Brothers, Bette Bright, The Bureau (with Mick Talbot), Kate Bush, The Buzzcocks, Irene Cara (Flashdance, not Fame), The Cars, CaVa CaVa (cruelly forgotten), Cerrone (got to be Supernature), Cheap Trick, China Crisis, Petula Clark (why not?), six by The Clash, Coati Mundi, Nat King Cole, Paul Collin’s Beat, Phil Collins (‘in the air tonight’ so not too bad!), Russ Conway (I love Russ Conway, I’m just not sure why), Elvis Costello (four in total),


Bing Crosby (‘White Christmas, naturally), Culture Club, The Daintees (two of theirs, ‘roll on summertime’ and ‘trouble town’), England Dan and John Ford Coley, Bobby Darin, Darts, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Titch (Xanadu), Dead Kennedys (only 14 places away from Phil Collins!), Desmond Dekker, Delta 5 (the fabulous ‘anticipation’), Depeche Mode, Devo, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Dickies (seven by them, all no more than about two minutes long, five on coloured vinyl), Dire Straits (only one), Lonnie Donegan (you can’t say this isn’t varied), Donovan, Dr Calculus (aka Stephen ‘tin-tin’ Duffy), Die Doraus & Die Marinas (‘Fred vom Jupiter’ on Mute records) and last, and definitely not least, ‘Ex Luna Scientia’ by Dramatis.
Join me soon (ish) for pages 5 and 6, from The Drifters to Tom Jones – not very 1985!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

500 singles (pages 1 and 2)

Way, way back in 1985, in the days before mobile phones, laptops and iPods a small group of us decided to hold a sponsored 24 hour marathon to play 500 7” singles. Every now and then I come across the photographs, but yesterday, while rummaging in the loft, I found the list!
The list includes most (but not all) of my 7” singles at the time, all of which still live happily (with thousands of more recent friends) up in the aforementioned loft.
I consider the list to be a historical document (for me at least!). It’s not a list of my favourite singles by any means, just 500 that I happened to own at the time.
On twitter recently a number of ‘Top 100s’ have appeared. I’ve enjoyed them immensely as, like most music addicts, I think nothing reveals more about anybody than their taste in music. So I thought I’d do something slightly different and blog my ‘500 singles' list.
The list was originally handwritten by me (@boxofpeppers on twitter) and my wife, Susan (@mummypace on twitter) who wasn’t my wife then! Then we typed a second copy of the list on my Olympia typewriter (sadly long gone).
We borrowed the double disco decks as we often did for discos at the time and on some long forgotten date (presumed to be 1985 by the presence of Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’) my little brother Andrew (@PANDASOURCING on twitter) and me played these records in a church hall to a group of fifteen people all sponsored to endure my singles for 24 hours. I presume that the church hall venue explains why none of my Sex Pistols singles feature on the list – The Dead Kennedys ‘California Uber Alles’ is included at number 110 though. For musical balance Des O’Connor’s ‘I pretend’ puts in an appearance at number 302, nestling between Gary Numan and Hazel O’Connor (no relation!).
At the end (once I find a decent optical character recognition programme) I will include a full list of the 500, but the handwritten lists seem much more exciting so they’ll be the ones included until the publication of the full list.
Pages 1 and 2 will feature today, starting inevitably with ABBA (Knowing me, knowing you) and ending with David Bowie (Let’s dance). As you can see in between those musical colossi (or colusses?) we played singles by Adam and the Ants, Afraid of Mice, The Alarm, Albania (the group not the country!), Herb Alpert (the mighty ‘Spanish Flea’), two singles by Laurie Anderson (I bet many didn’t realise she made more than one!), Paul Anka, Artery, The Associates, Aztec Camera, the B-52s (four singles, back-to-back), The Babys, Bad Manners (‘Special Brew’ – hooray!), Bananarama, Band Aid, Barracudas (the excellent ‘Summer Fun’), three singles by Bauhaus (which I’m sure went down a treat), The Beat, The Beatles, The Beautiful Americans, The Bee Gees, The Beverley Sisters (‘Little Donkey’, obviously), Big Country, Mr. Acker Bilk, Bim (whatever happened to……), Cilla Black, Black Lace (sorry!), Blondie, The Blow Monkeys, The Blues Band, Blue Zoo (the brilliant ‘Love moves in strange ways’ mine may be the only copy that still exists, and may be the only copy that ever existed), B Movie (Remembrance Day), Boomtown Rats (five singles), Pat Boone (‘Speedy Gonzales’), Bop and David Bowie who spans over from page 2 to page 3.
Not all of these are great as you can see, but many of them are. If any of your favourite artists are missing (Blancmange for example) the most likely reason is that I only had their works on 12” single instead!
Tune in over the next few days and weeks for pages 3-16. Don’t worry if you’re hoping for ‘Justice not vengeance’ by Popular History of signs, it’s right there at number 335 on page 11. I may also be persuaded to show the photos too.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

She spoke just like a Baroness

Three LPs today totally representative of their year of release,



Nina & Frederik by Nina & Frederik
Confusingly there were two consecutive Nina & Frederik albums called Nina & Frederik (not sure that this is where Peter Gabriel got the idea from!) and this is the one featuring the fantastic 'Eden was just like this', 'Man smart, woman smarter', Maladie D'Amour (later to return as Cha Cha Cha D'Amour) and the quaintly(!) titled 'When woman say no she means yes', which may have seemed mildly amusing to people in 1958, but this is a principle which can lead to a long custodial sentence in 2012.
Nina and Frederik were real life Baron and Baroness and this is an interesting and amusing LP with some great fake Jamaican accents.
Interestingly Nina appeared in the film 'American Gigolo' with Richard Gere - apparently (I never watch films like this myself of course!)



XL-1 by Pete Shelley
An LP as firmly rooted in 1983 as Nina & Frederik is in 1958 featuring Martin Rushent production and (get this!) a computer programme for the ZX Spectrum, which, when loaded, shows lyrics and graphics synchronised to the music on the LP.
It seems quaint (there's that word again!) now, but in 1983 this was ground-breaking.
Pete makes some great music, unfortunately not much of it on this album!



Year of the Cat by Al Stewart
An album that couldn't be more 1976 if it had dreamy lyrics, gatefold cover and Portrait of the Artist as a man in a wide-lapelled white suit (it has!) Still much beloved of Ken Bruce and Steve Wright (You're never more than two tracks away from either 'On the Border' or the title track here if you tune into Ken weekday mornings on Radio 2).
This may all come together to remind you exactly why punk happened.
Having said all that, I love this LP and listen to it at a ratio of at least 5:1 when compared to 'Never Mind The Bollocks'

Soundtrack to this post - Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches and Unbreakable Heart by Duglas T Stewart and Company

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Music in cars (Part 1)

I’m going to veer wildly away from vinyl for one day only today to think about earlier musical memories when listening to music in cars.

Part 2 (as you can see from the title this is part 1) will feature my pre '85 music only policy in my 1985 Mini Mayfair (of which also probably more later), but this part features listening to 8-track cartridges in my Dad's 1971 Rover 2000 when I was about 13 years old.

Dark green, with a tan leather interior, this was the first car that I ever drove - on a private campsite in Scotland during the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Unlike our other cars before this one that only had radios, and even some of the ones afterwards that still only had radios (although they were that 1970s luxury - 'push-button radios'!), this car had a luxury '70s in-car entertainment option, an 8-track cartridge player. My Dad had so few cartridges to play that I am sure I can remember pretty much all of them. For anyone who is unsure about cartridges, they were about the same size as a slice of 'doorstep' toast (see ad above) and had all of the tracks on an album split across 8 tracks of a broad tape - sometimes (believe it or not!) the tracks didn't fit entirely onto one track so they would be split across two tracks and there would be a gap in your listening pleasure while the first half of a song ended and the second half was located and started.

I'm not sure whether cartridges had a better sound quality than cassette tapes as I haven't heard one for almost 35 years, but in my memory they sound fantastic!

The cartridges we had (and played over and over again because we had so few of them) were;

Simon and Garfunkel - Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
As the years have worn on I am starting to think that Paul and Art's best work may have been when they worked separately (a sacrilegious thought in some quarters I know!) but my love of all things S&G related still remains....

Gladys Knight & The Pips - The Best of Gladys Knight & The Pips
I love music like this now, but at the time this was my least favourite of the cartridges that my Dad owned - and we tended to listen to it less frequently than the others.

Diana Ross and The Supremes - a Greatest Hits album (presumably 20 Golden Greats)
Of all of these albums this is definitely my favourite now, probably my second favourite then and almost certainly one of the best 'best ofs' ever released.

The Carpenters - The Singles 1969-1973 and The Singles 1974-1978
These collections of songs take me right back to the '70s whenever I hear them, but when you listen to some of the studio albums now (I listened to Horizon the other day) it's sometimes difficult to see what all the fuss was about! Calling Occupants was one of our favourites, but we also loved 'Goofus' and as it's not on either of these two albums, we must have had at least one more Carpenters cartridge!

Abba - Arrival and Greatest Hits
All thoughts of Abba seem to be seen through 'Mamma Mia' coloured glasses now, but we sometimes forget how they towered over everything in the mid/late seventies. Probably played more frequently than all of the other cartridges put together!

Soundtrack to this post - Granny Cool by Sugar (it's Rifftastic!) and Come Live With Me by Heaven 17

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Jonathan Richman 'Sings' and plays guitar sometimes

Two very Sunday morning LPs today,

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Bought second hand for the bargain sum of £1.50 (!) this has always been (and will always continue to be) one of my favourites. Sounds as fresh and innocent today as when it was released back in 1976. I've seen Jonathan live a few times and it's always an event, no more so than when he agreed to play 'Party in the woods tonight' for our daughter, Helen. Just to be awkward though I think this may finish a close third behind 'Back in your life' (which I only have on cassette - shame!) and 'The Modern Lovers Live' (which I have on vinyl and will be featured when I find it - probably in the boxes in the loft!).
The sleevenotes state - 'Jonathan Richman 'sings' and plays guitar sometimes.'

Streets I have walked by Harry Belafonte - A Japanese LP bought for £1 on which Harry sings songs from around the world, including Waltzing Matilda, This land is your land and Sit Down (nothing to do with James, this is 1963!). Just one of the best voices ever.

Soundtrack to this post - Mona Lisa by Nat King Cole

Friday, 23 March 2012

No quality control !

Here goes with next batch...........

Strangeways Here we come by The Smiths - Their last but not their best (although apparently both Morrisey and Marr think it is!). 'Girlfriend in a Coma' is the high point - but maybe only in my mind!
Systems of Romance by Ultravox - In the days before Midge when Ultravox were a essentially a punk band (this is still 1978 remember). Listened again to this today and not as good as I remembered it. This is, however, a building block on the way to Metamatic by John Foxx (which I will probably find in a few weeks) - one of the best 10 electronic albums ever!
After Dark by Kitty Wells - Just an amazing album with a cover that screams '1950s America'. When the label states 'Vocal with Instrumental Accompaniment' you pretty much know what you're going to get. Laura Cantrell recently released an album called 'Kitty Wells' dresses and I can confirm that Kitty is wearing a very pretty pale blue one on this cover.
Fly by Yoko Ono - Everyone should hear this album once. Brilliant and unhinged in a way that people like Lady Gaga can only dream of. Features the classic 'Don't worry Kyoko (Mommy's only looking for a hand in the snow)'. When I put this track on the record player this morning it frightened the cat!
And as it was World Poetry Day this week I thought I'd give a snippet from 'Mindtrain';
shining the clouds
shining the trees
shining empty buildings
shining my mind
thought of killing that man
thought of killing that man
and dub dub train passed through my mind
and dub dub train stabbed through my mind
pain, train, pain, train

Sentiments I think we can all identify with!
If John had still been around it would have been John and Yoko's 43rd wedding anniversary this week  - sadly they only actually made it to 11.
Soundtrack to this post – Beetlebum by Blur, Green Onions by Booker T & the MGs and Please don't let me be misunderstood by Nina Simone

In no particular order

So here are the first LPs grabbed pretty much at random - there's not a great deal of quality control in my collection, but I guess one man's 'Superstition' is another man's 'Ebony and Ivory'. It would be a bit dull if all of these records were great - often it's the embarassing records in a collection that make it interesting!
Here goes!!!........
Equinoxe by Jean Michel Jarre - with the imaginatively titled Equinoxe parts 1-8. This is one of my orginal 'box of 50' records from 1978 and if my memeory serves me correctly it was bought from Grattans Catalogue (remember when Kays and Grattans catalogues had an LP section - wow!)
6 Original by Devo - Inhabiting the strange middle ground between EP and LP this 6 track record on yellow vinyl claims to contain a 'slice of assorted singles for seventeen minutes from Devo!!' Sounds as fresh (and crazy) now as it did 34 (!!) years ago. I bought this second-hand somewhere, but have no memory of when or where!
Love and Dancing by The League Unlimited Orchestra - Owned and cherished since new (1981 - when else could it have been!). Essentially a fantastic Human League remix album that owes a huge debt to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. I own this on vinyl, cassette and CD - how sad is that!
Going Deaf for a Living by Fischer Z - Fischer Z made some fantastic albums, sadly this isn't one of them. Although it does include the excitingly titled 'Four minutes in Durham (with you)' - at least it's exciting if you live in Durham. Roger Whittaker apart, Durham doesn't loom very large musically. I paid £3 for this apparently - hmmm!
Night full of tension by Robert Gorl - Not so much mine this one - this one actually belongs to Susan and it's a 1984 LP on Mute Records. A former member of D.A.F. (who can forget hearing 'Der Mussolini' played loud at Heroes in Sunderland?) and friend of Annie Lennox who turns up on this LP singing in a strange German accent. Electronic music with an atmospheric German vocal was pretty big in 1984 - sadly, with the exception of Kraftwerk, not as popular since then! One of the few things I got from failing a German A-level was a love of music like this.
Talking Book by Stevie Wonder - My appreciation of Stevie has developed fairly recently and this album (bought for 49p at Help The Aged shop) includes some classic Stevie tracks. Also features both Jeff Beck and Ray Parker Jr - but not at the same time!
The Springfields Sing again by The Springfields - A very unusual album and if you've ever seen 'The Mighty Wind' you'll never hear this album in the same way again, particularly 'Lonesome Traveller'. Difficult to believe that this is the same Dusty as the one who recorded 'anyone who had a heart' - it's still great though!
I get my Dusty appreciation from my Dad, so I was listening to Dusty on our radiogramme long before I had any records of my own - in fact if I close my eyes I can still smell those valves warming up!
Soundtrack to this post Autumn Almanac by The Kinks and Empty Shell by Cat Power

Episode 1 - The spare room

I'm planning to blog my vinyl collection. It could be a big job!
I'm going to start with the LPs in the spare room and then move on to the ones that have lived in boxes in the loft ever since we moved into this house 12years ago.
I have lots of LPs (hundreds , maybe thousands – a bold claim but I’ve never counted them since I was 13 when all of my LPs lived together in one vinyl case) and along the way I aim to get them into some sort of order, maybe even sort out the ‘proper storage’ I’ve been threatening all these years. I may even catalogue or alphabetise them (although I’ve always had a slight mistrust of people who do this!).
Many of my records have been cherished and played regularly during the 34 years since I started collecting (I use this word loosely, I’m more of a gatherer than a collector!), but there are also hundreds that I just ‘own’.
I am embarrassed to admit that there are lots of records in my collection that I’ve never even listened to (‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell and for example) and many that I never want to hear again (I have no idea how I managed to amass so many Toyah singles!).
I have more singles than I have LPs, but they can wait for another time – maybe even another year!
So let's start with the LPs from the spare room.
(Soundtrack to this post - I am the Fly by Wire)