Monday, 30 March 2020


With everyone's life currently on hold (parked up), and staying in becomes the new going out, we now have to embrace a whole new world of substitutes. Depending on how lavish your lifestyle was BC will dictate how adversely this new regime will affect you PC; if and when when normality (normalcy) ever returns it will of course all centre around freedom of movement - the taboo subject (elephant in the room) linking Coronavirus (Covid-19) with Brexit (the UK's slow and painful suicide).

But that's a debate for another day; a debate which will be, I'm sure (be in no doubt), front and centre - pushing its way up both the political and cultural agenda for a long, long time to come. Substitute your lies for fact.

Today's musical selection is not, as you may have been expecting, from the 'Oo. (They're no longer young, but still backdated.) No, it is instead a song written by Willie Nelson released nearly a decade on from the single Pete Townshend famously called 'our first number four.'

The Righteous Brothers - Substitute (1975)

A couple of years later it would go on to be a number one smash in South Africa for a female five piece from Johannesberg. However, I've substituted the lip gloss and spandex of Clout for a bunch of ageing London mods whose front man has got that don't fuck with me look about him. A look you often see in lead singers.

Smashing Time - Substitute (2008)

Sunday, 22 March 2020


Quite by chance, at a recent vinyl evening (in those dim and distant pre-self isolating days when I quite really did get out more), two tracks were played back-to-back that both had exclamation marks in the title; a point (literally) not picked up at the time (why would it?). But as they were both from my collection it was only when I was putting them away that I clocked the fact.
As something of a musical pedant I'm pretty big on musical punctuation and generally getting song titles right - therefore, Sweet's 1973 Number 1 hit is not Blockbuster, it's Block Buster! And the song that followed it on the night in question was Mél Torme's Right Now! Although a B side, it's every bit as special as the lounge/mod classic you'll find when you flip it over.

Mel Tormé - Comin' Home Baby (1962)

A recent discovery of mine from a freakbeat collection titled Sugar Lumps comes courtesy of a band calling themselves Smashing Time. To my shame I know vey little about Smashing Time (an out of date Facebook page would lead you to believe they came from London and called it a day c.2015/16). It's a belter and although it doesn't have an exclamation mark it does have a question mark.

Smashing Time - Is it Her? (2005) 

I'm playing it on heavy rotation here at Medd Towers; it's got under my skin well and truly. Not least, I think, as it tips the wink to Comin' Home Baby. Yes, no? Its other influence, IMHO, is this beauty written by Rod Argent. Again, see what you think.

The Zombies - She's not There (1964)

Friday, 20 March 2020


In these new dystopian times I'm trying to stay positive; my overriding sense of humour is being, and will continue to be, tested to its absolute limits. And because the landscape is changing on an hourly basis, it's a struggle to keep to the path; and to stay sane.

Don't get me wrong, my personal situation is by comparison (judging by the decimation of my local high street and the number of desperate callers currently ringing James O'Brien on LBC - to use just two indicators) not as perilous as I know it is for some. But at this critical time in all our lives, we need decisive leadership and reassurance. And a modicum of hope. All of which are in short supply at the moment. 

We're all clinging on to whatever lifelines we can - family, friends beer, music, whatever. Though, for some, even those touchstones may not be enough.

The corner shop at the top of my road has always been 'there for me'. And never more so than now. Recent footfall has increased considerably and, despite now being increasingly populated by Tesco refugees, it will, I'm sure, be vital to my physical and mental wellbeing as social distancing becomes the new normal. 

Cornershop: St Marie Under Canon - 2020

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

1970 (5/5)

The final song in this mini series hasn't just popped into my head, its been kipping in the attic ever since my son was born. Sweet Baby James is 50% cowboy song, 50% lullaby, 100% immaculate. There may well have been better songs written than this; but not many. Even its writer, James Taylor, said it's the song he's most proud of. I can't disagree with that.

James Taylor: Sweet Baby James (1970)

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

1970 (4/5)

Did he? Or didn't he? We can talk till the cows come home about how George Harrison accidentally or otherwise plagiarised He's so Fine by the Chiffons, but it won't change the outcome. In 1976 the judge - after years of legal wrangling - found Harrison guilty as charged. Beatle George never saw a dime from his multi-million selling chart topper - ironic as he was the first of the post-Fab Four to land a Number One single on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, whether I'm singing the George Harrison original (well, as original as a song with a nicked riff/motif can be), or the version George produced for his mate Billy Preston - before Harrison committed his to tape - My Sweet Lord is the 4h. selection of songs currently pin-balling round my skull 24/7.

Billy Preston: My Sweet Lord (1970)

John Lennon once famously said that whenever he heard My Sweet Lord he was convinced there was a God. Even as a non believer, I think I know where he was coming from.

George Harrison - My Sweet Lord (1970)

And, finally, the elephant in the room. It's hard to believe nobody (not even Phil Spector) told the ex-Beatle he was treading on very thin ice. But, hey, it made for a great rock and roll story.

The Chiffons - He's so Fine (1963)