Friday, 23 October 2020

Jack Jones

The ultimate social distancing song? Well that's easy, innit? When Billy Idol and Tony James visited Tokyo in 1979 they went to a couple of clubs where they saw kids dancing on their own in front of banks of mirrors. On the plane back to the UK James scribbled a few lyrics down and Idol, once back in London, hung a tune around them (it was always that way around). 

There were to be several versions of Dancing With Myself; the original demo featuring Generation X guitarist Bob Derwood Andrews - that never saw the light of day for 20 years as the band broke up the minute Derwood unplugged his amp. Idol and James then licked their wounds and regrouped (literally) - as Gen X - bringing in a raft of session guitar players including ex-Pistol Steve Jones. But they too split up - only two months after the finished version made its way on to their Kiss Me Deadly album released in January 1981.

And then Billy took it to America where he faded all the guitars and instead cranked up the percussion - turning it, you've guessed it, into a dance track. The song made him (with a little help from MTV) and he never looked back.

So which version have I gone with today? The answer is: none of the above. I hope you like it!

Chloe Feoranzo - Dancing With Myself (2019)

With thanks to Rol

Monday, 19 October 2020

Swiss Time

In 1964 Switzerland held a national exposition. The Swiss like expositions - they have one every 25 years; you can almost set your watch by them. This one was was known colloquially as Expo 64 and was hosted by Lausanne, situated on the Lake Geneva shoreline. Amongst the myriad of attractions were the Spiral Tower and the Monorail - which amazingly survive to this day. However, looking at the monorail it was no match for the one at Butlins - both of a similar vintage.

One of the many Kodachrome slides in my collection is this one dated September 1964 - written on the back is LAUSANNE EXPO. 1964. Researching  what was on display at the time I think this photograph may have been taken in the L'art de Vivre (Art of Life) section. It's a personal favourite of mine.

Sunday, 18 October 2020


Edward Hopper - self portrait

I slipped anchor this weekend; a getaway to the seaside for 24 hours in a bid to energise my failing batteries. With a fair wind and a watery sun I pointed the car in an easterly direction and trusted to luck. I can't remember the last time I visited Skegvegas, and even if I could I doubt very much it would make my Top 10 Memories list.

Like a lot of seaside towns its fall from grace (if grace was indeed where it fell from) is apparent the minute you clap eyes on it. The kebab shops and amusement arcades look even more tacky than before and the air was thick with chip oil, candy floss and despair (not necessarily in that order). Wait till it gets dark I thought to myself; like Ray Davies' Lola she'll look better at night. And, sure enough, at the stroke of dusk, with nothing more than a splash of neon, the turd, though not polished, is temporarily rolled in glitter. I took loads of photographs to commemorate my smash and grab raid on the town, but the one I want to share with you is a terrific Art Deco Italian restaurant down a little back street away from the glitz. It was like something Hopper would have painted - if he was unlucky enough to find himself billeted 22 miles north-east of Boston, Lincolnshire, that is. 

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Love Comes in Waves

I split my Saturday evening listening between BBC Radio London's perpetually excited Gary Crowley and BBC Radio Nottingham's Dean Jackson (more becalmed than GC but still excited on the inside - celebrating 30 years of his excellent Saturday show 'The Beat'). But I can't for the life of me remember which one of them played this next tune I'm featuring. It's by Andy Bell (yes, I know there's two; it's the Ride and Oasis one, not the Erasure one).

Unlike his previous employer, Noel Gallagher, who was forever channelling Beatles tunes overlaid with Marc Bolan riffs, Bell appears to be picking up where the Stone Roses left off and is resurrecting a sound that many listeners will remember as part of the Madchester/Baggy scene; whilst others (with younger ears) will probably tell you it's a sound that never went away.

Either way, here's his new single. It skips along at quite a pace and I think it's worth four minutes of your time. Can't say fairer than that now can I?

Andy Bell - Love Comes in Waves (2020)

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Is all Hope Lost?

I went out on Thursday evening. My sojourns into town have been getting less and less frequent. Hopping on a bus and going out for a drink is no longer the carefree, joyful experience it once was; yes, even going into the city on a No. 17 bus was, I realise now, joyful - I just didn't know it at the time: no masks, no drivers behind  perspex screens, no sanitising stations, no Orwellian safety announcements on the tannoy. And disgorging at the other end, piling into a bar and meeting friends is now a very different proposition; the hoops we now have to jump through just to make any of the above happen have ensured that every last bit of fun has been utterly squeezed out of life. 
This isn't living; this is nothing more than existing - we're all, every last one of us, merely going through the motions. And it's gonna get a whole lot worse. When the widely predicted stricter restrictions come into force next week (as they surely must), any last glimmer of hope for a return to even just a modicum of normality will have finally been extinguished.

(I took one last photo. It was dark and miserable. Quite.)