Thursday 30 August 2018

She gives me everything, and tenderly

Liverpool tomorrow. I'm training it - using split tickets for the first time - ETA into Lime Street around lunchtime. Ray's flying in from Belfast, due to land around the same time, so it'll be a spot of bush tucker in the Philharmonic, and then we'll see where the fancy takes us.

We're not expecting to see Macca during our two day stopover, though if he did care to join us I'm sure he'd be good company. There are many questions I'd love to put to him, not least: 'Why, at the age of 76, are you still getting bent out of shape about songs being credited to Lennon & McCartney and not McCartney & Lennon or, in the case of 'Yesterday', McCartney & Lennon can whistle? Life's too short Paulie, get over yourself.

If I've got this right, these two Hard Day's Night period classics - which, as you can see (above) were paired as an 'A' & 'B' side for their American release - were written by the pair thus:

And I Love Her (1964)- McCartney, with Lennon writing the middle eight* 

If I Fell (1964) - Lennon*

*Unless of course you, or indeed Macca, know different

Friday 24 August 2018

What Happens on Tour...

Essential holiday reading*
Maybe Jimmy Page has already been questioned by the authorities about having sex with underage girls in the 1970s; maybe he hasn't. One thing is certain though - Led Zeppelin weren't big on asking to see picture ID when young girls queued up to get back stage after gigs. Or when they made their way past hotel security and found which rooms the band were occupying. On the contrary, their manager, the notorious Peter Grant, actively encouraged the practice. Different times? Maybe. Different crimes? Well, no, actually.

Oh Lori
The notoriety surrounding similar events today are played out in the press as vile acts carried out by vile people. But in1972 Lori Maddox was a 13 year old virgin when David Bowie publicly bedded her on his Spiders from Mars tour. I say publicly: Bowie knew she was jail bait. His entourage knew she was jail bait, and so did every band, bartender & bellboy in Los Angeles where Maddox was part of a groupie inner circle that hung with any bunch of musicians knocking around Sunset Strip.

Led Zeppelin was one such bunch and, not long after Bowie's exploits with Maddox, Jimmy Page called her and had her chauffeured to his hotel suite. Lori was all of 14 at this point. Page knew this but wasn't remotely bothered. There's nothing more to add really; it's a salacious story that needs no further embellishing. It was Led Zeppelin and it was the 1970s. That seems to be the general consensus of opinion. Just read Hammer of the Gods, or indeed the new Page biography [*pictured poolside- above - by Danny Baker], where you're never more than ten pages from a juicy 'What happens on tour...' story. Only, these stories never stayed on tour.

I discovered this tune only recently on a Classic Rock station coming out of New York that doesn't play Rocky Mountain Way on the hour, every hour. Jimmy Page lends his guitar skills to this 1968 diamond in the rough from Donovan.

Donovan - Season of the Witch (1968)

Monday 20 August 2018

Blue Eyed Soul

Blue Eyed Soul was a lazy catch all phrase that some music hack coined back in the sixties to describe anyone with white skin having the audacity to sing rhythm and blues or soul music.
And everyone from Rod Stewart to Adele, via Paul Young and Mick Hucknall, has subsequently been burdened with the tag. It should be redundant now, but you will still see a rake of compilation albums bearing the name, and flyers too for various club nights; as the duty roster included the likes of George Michael and Spandau Ballet, you'd know to leave your parka on the coat hook and your scooter in the garage. Northern Soul it is not.

One of the names (well, two to be precise) constantly mentioned when Blue Eyed Soul gets a name-check is Hall & Oates. Their take on all things soulful was never anything less than luxurious. It all sounded so effortless. And frighteningly good, too: Kiss on My List was just about as good as it got.

Here's a version Daryl Hall did as part of his Daryl's House series - a couple of octaves lower and a tad slower, I think it shades the original.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Birthday Girl

Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., aka Stormzy, has crammed a lot into his first 25 years; not least funding scholarships for black students to enable them to scale Oxbridge's ridiculously high walls. And, calling out Theresa May for her woeful inaction in the aftermath of Grenfell.

The fella also writes some blinding tunes. If it's your birthday today, Happy Birthday!

Stormzy - Birthday Girl (2016)

Thursday 16 August 2018


Two songs below that share the same title. Both make me happy. One deliriously so. I'll let you guess which. And it's all in the brain. Music lights up our limbic system and quite literally turns us on. It's official. But I'm just a mere layman, I won't insult your intelligence with my mumbo jumbo - read all about it from people who know their shit. Ok this might not be Stephen Fry, probably more Brian Cox, but you get the drift. Now, those two songs:

Exhibit 'A' 

Pharrell Williams - Happy (2013)

Exhibit 'B' 

Rolling Stones - Happy (1972)

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Jelly (Helplessly Hoping - Again)

Don't worry lads, I'll play yours next time

Got a favourite song, but haven't got a Scooby as to what it's all about? I've got a shed load of them, as I guess you do too. I've even been known to avoid reading the real words to incomprehensible songs and using my own which I think work better. I know, I need to get out more.

I could've told whoever wrote this about one of my top tunes that it's like nailing jelly to a wall. As much as I love Helplessly Hoping, and even though every word in it is as clear as a bell, I think its meaning changes every time I listen to it; none the worse for that. It keeps me on my toes, that much I do know. But right now I think I've sussed it - right time right place, perhaps. Though if I revisit this piece in six months it may be a different story.

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

And just like the last time I posted it, I have, perversely, chosen the most delicate of covers.

Jellywine - Helplessly Hoping (written by Steve Stills in 1968)

Sunday 5 August 2018

Don't walk towards the white light

Cured Bacon
I was reading on the train yesterday how Richard Bacon cheated death; a very powerful story. One minute you're feeling a bit unwell on an aeroplane, the next you're in Intensive Care with more tubes sticking out of you than can possibly be good for you. He was told by the Consultant that if they didn't put him into an induced coma for at least seven days in the next 20 minutes he would die. No ifs, no buts.

As he was digesting this news the sleep inducing drugs were already in his system and slowly shutting him down. He remembers his wife whispering into his ear - "Don't walk towards the white light." And there, wrapped up in six words, is my new mantra.

Saturday 4 August 2018

Lucky You

A whole month of World Cup action recently came and went and I managed to keep this sleepy digital backwater a football free zone for the duration. Likewise today, on what is Ian Broudie's 60th birthday, I'll try not to mention that song; you know which one I mean.

Ian Broudie has written some cracking songs over the last thirty years or so. His band the Lightning Seeds was really nothing more than a vehicle to take the songs he'd written on the road and play them live. Like a lot of musicians he's much more at home in a studio working by himself, writing, recording, refining. The Lightning Seeds was just a name above the door. When he recorded the tracks for what would become Jollification, apart from some additional vocals by Alison Moyet and Terry Hall, Broudie played every note of music himself and, of course, produced it. Quite literally a one man band.

Jollification came out slap bang in the middle of the Britpop boom and could be seen and heard rubbing shoulders with the likes of Oasis, Blur, Dodgy (who he also produced), Ocean Colour Scene et al. The fact that it spawned four hugely successful singles should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Except, maybe, the slightly morose, slightly awkward scouser who wrote them all.

This one has, for a number of reasons, become something of an ear-worm just lately. Lucky You may not have set the charts alight, but nearly 25 years later it's till ringing in my ears; lucky me.

Lightning Seeds - Lucky You

Thursday 2 August 2018

Hong Kong Ping Pong

Every now and again you come across a mixtape that you wish you'd put together yourself, such is the quality not just of the tunes, but the inter-song banter, the timing, the pace, the very feel of it. And so it is with Hong Kong Ping Pong Mixtapes. I'm reliably told they operate out of a club in Bristol; all I know is I'm hooked - I've had it playing in my ears all week.

Mixtape  #10 - it's funky, it's jazzy and it's got soul - with a capital S O U  & L. See what you think. You might love it, you might hate it. But, just so you know, I love it. The intro is particulatly elogant - it's lifted from Deadwood and the hilarious, I think, 'Wu sketch'. Fill yer boots: