Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Last Man Standing


I said last time I'd join the dots between my friend Tom Wardle and the mighty Monophonics. Since Tom left Nottingham and moved his life to New York he's found himself writing and recording with many, many musicians all over the states - east coast and west. Not bad for a young lad who used to play for pin money in some pretty crumby dive bars in Nottingham. With a voice often compared to Rod Stewart, Tom's written some great songs; always finding that unforgettable chorus you'll be singing days later having only heard it the once. A recent tweet from Tom however had me intrigued: joining forces with acclaimed producer and DJ, Villem, on a drum and bass track? Surely some mistake! And then the penny dropped; it was a cover of Last One Standing (the song I featured last time) which is absolutely made for Tom's soulful pipes. I'd love this to get some serious radio play - it deserves to be a massive hit

Villem (feat. Tom Wardle) - Last One Standing (2022)



Friday, 13 May 2022

Bang Bang



Despite my advancing years I still like  to latch onto new bands (new to me, I mean), take them to my heart and call them my all time favourite band ever; before 10 minutes later jettisoning them with nary a backwards glance, as I go in search of my next new shiny thing. 
This week I have mostly been listening to the Monophonics. They are, to borrow a quote from Craig Charles, two pounds of funk in a one pound bag. They sound like this. See what I mean? Btw, remind me to tell you about my friend Tom Wardle and his connection with the band. Next time.

But it was whilst listening to them in the car this week, and their spellbinding version of a Sonny Bono penned classic from 1966, I remembered just how good Nancy Sinatra's version was. Yes, better than Cher's (Sonny's ex) and yes, even better than Frank's - Nancy's dad. You don't believe me...

Nancy Sinatra: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) - 1966


Anyway, back to those Monophonic boys. Here they are tearing up a little club in Athens in December, 2015. Enjoy...

The Monophonics: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)



Friday, 6 May 2022

Brother from another mother

Apparently, when Angus Young of AC/DC heard Sad Café's My Oh My he said it was the best record the Stones had ever made. I know what he means; I came to it late (and by late I mean within the last few weeks) and was convinced - when I first heard the vocals kick in - it was Karl Wallinger and World Party. And anyone who knows Wallinger will attest that his Goodbye Jumbo album contains (at least) three Stones cast-offs. File under 'what goes around comes around'. Judge for yerself.

Sad Café - My Oh My (1980)


Ten years later; can you tell them apart?

World Party - Way Down Now (1990)


Paul Young (1947-2000)

Monday, 2 May 2022

Bloody Hell Fire!


WhatsApp is a very instant medium - something often done on the hoof - so brevity is prmnt. Sorry, paramount. Any shortcuts or abrvtns, though not always grammatically pleasing, often find their way into my text lexicon; don't get me wrong, I love language and punctuation more than most, but sometimes one punchy acronym can paint a thousand (real) words. When I told my friend Riggsby during my American trip that James and I will often exchange a particular three letter rejoinder when, say, Notts County are 3-nil down at half time or some other unpleasant news reaches one or both of us, he nodded sagely. In fact, I went on, I'm always on the look out for cars with the number plate bearing said three letters. They act as a perfect meme to the aforementioned bad news. If you see any on your travels, I think I may have said, he could humour me and email them to me! 
Anyway, I thought no more about our conversation; that is until the postman arrived last week. Here's an extract from Riggsby's letter...


Pretty neat, huh? So, I gave James the choice - Ohio or Kentucky? 'I'll have the birthplace of aviation please, dad!'


Which leaves me with the bluegrass state.



If you see any BHF plates whilst you're out and about, you know what to do...

Monday, 18 April 2022

Everybody had a wet dream


Hype; the next big thing. The music industry has been inextricably linked with hype and the next big thing ever since Elvis first gyrated his hips on American TV in 1956.

66 years later and not much has changed. The music industry still wants to push new acts and the music listening public will always want to think they're ahead of the curve. Thankfully I am no longer part of a demographic whereby I am in any way influenced by anything other than a catchy tune.

Cue Wet Leg. I like them. And I like the sound they make.

Wet Leg - Wet Dream (2022)



Monday, 11 April 2022

Put another dime in the jukebox


It probably won't surprise you that I frequented one or two watering holes on my recent trek across America's Midwest. Finding dive bars where tourists don't frequent was easy peasy as the kind of places we went to (not counting Chicago or Los Angeles) were populated almost entirely by locals if not indigenous people.
Dive bars always have a bar the length of an aircraft hangar with stools housing firmly planted buttocks that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Yes they sell Bud and yes they sell Miller, but now, thanks to something of an American craft beer renaissance, they also sell some killer IPAs - or APAs, depending on how you define the origin of your ales. Dive bars also have at least one pool table - some will have pinball machines - and they all have a jukebox.



Perched on a stool at Whiskey & June's in downtown Atascadero and I'm chugging a rather tasty strawberry blonde from the Barrel House Brewery (based in Paso Robles, CA I subsequently found out) and next up on the record machine I hear some quintessential Johnny Cash come bursting out of the speakers. No need to turn it up, it's already loud. Struggling to work out which album it's from - Unchained? American Man IV? (I really can't place it) I walk over to the back wall and peer thru the glass at the 'now playing' icon. 



Oops. Not Cash at all - but sounding more like the man in black than the man in black himself - I quickly grabbed some more dollar bills and put it on again. And again. I hope you like it as much as I did. (If so, next time you see it on a pub jukebox, feel free to play it three times back to back.)

Colter Wall - Sleeping on the Blacktop (2015)


Thursday, 7 April 2022

Where the action isn't; that's where it is


I did last month's Thursday Vinyl on autopilot; I'd not been back in the country long and sleep had been a stranger to me for the previous 48 hours. Fair play to Alan, my second in command, who brought the room up to speed with all things Devo while I nodded sagely, as opposed to off. 

This month, however, I'll be buzzing. Wide eyed and bushy tailed I'll be telling you why I think John Cooper Clarke's 1980 album Snap, Crackle & Bop is more punk than the Pistols, more cathartic than the Clash. (And more dastardly than the Damned.) Evidently Chickentown and Beasley Street alone prove that JCC has guaranteed his top table status along side Lydon, Strummer et al.

Come on down as Mr. Crowther used to say. It's free and it's fun. And, like the bloke who can't pronounce his f's and th's, you can't say fairer than that. Even if you can't make it to Nottingham's liveliest arts centre on the 28th, tell me what album you'd like me to play for a future session and I'll see if we can't put it under the microscope and marvel at it.

Perversely, for today's musical interlude, I've deliberately not gone with a cut from 'Snap', instead I've opted for an absolute banger from Inspiral Carpets. But you won't be disappointed - check out Doctor Reliable's cameo at 2:34.

Inspiral Carpets ft. John Cooper Clarke - Let You Down (2014)


Sunday, 3 April 2022

Ain't that America

I haven't been ignoring you, I've been away. Honest; I got back into Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon after being in America for three weeks. Travelling across eight states on Amtrak was a belated 60th treat as well as something else to tick off my bucket-list. Seeing the U.S. from a train window is, arguably, the only way to see this vast country. You really do get up close and personal as the Southwest Chief (or Missouri River Runner - we hopped on and off various locomotives over a number of days) trundled thru mountains, deserts, dustbowls, hick towns, and a lot more besides.

And although we hired a car and did the ubiquitous Californian road trip with our friends when we met up in Los Angeles, there was a bewildering amount of treats along the way in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona that easily matched, if not exceeded, those we experienced in the Golden State. A full travelog may well appear in this blog later when I've had chance to decompress (I'm still assimilating the full magnitude of what we did in my head) and I will put together a photo-book of all the best bits once I've condensed the 1000+ photographs I took. In the meantime here a few images I posted along the way (if you follow me on Twitter @JohnMeddUK  you may have seen my daily updates/photo journal).

Coming in to land #Chicago


The way


No sign of Amy Turtle


Tumbleweed not pictured


Christ lives on Route 66


It's the craziest pace I've ever been


In the style of Hopper 


Whiskey Richards


Pink Floyd album cover


Preacher man


It's just a big hole in the ground; OK, it's a very big hole in the ground


Yikes


Johnny's


Main Street


Riding the Crest


Del Ray


Walking the dog


I wanted this truck


All garages should look like this


Me and Riggsby 


Walking in Venice

Travelling companions

John Mellencamp - Pink Houses (1983)


Tuesday, 1 March 2022

DEVOtional


Five months in and I feel we're really finding our feet at Thursday Vinyl (formerly Monday Vinyl). Ben and everyone at The Carousel have made us feel really welcome. So far we've listened to some phenomenal albums by Depeche Mode, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and the Lightning Seeds. And at the end of the month this illustrious quartet will be joined by none other than the utterly unique Devo. That's right, flowerpot time! Never has a yellow boilersuit looked so fucking cool. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Devo - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (1978)



Sunday, 27 February 2022

Love Comes in Waves


I've mentioned my dad once or twice around here; although I love him dearly, he has the ability to infuriate the hell out of me. But then again, whose dad doesn't? I've also mentioned his nom de plume: my father, Gordon Medd, is Jigsaw Man; as Superheroes go his ability to do a thousand piece jigsaw may be a pretty rubbish super power, but, hey, he's my dad and I won't hear a word said against him (after all, that's my job).

In the past he's done circular jigsaws, double-sided jigsaws, single colour jigsaws; you name it, he's done 'em. Many of them have come by way of Christmas and birthday presents from me; yes, I've long since stopped fretting over what to get dad as December 25th approaches.



But his latest project has turned out to be his toughest assignment yet: Hokusai's The Wave had my dad teetering on the verge of madness. I was getting progress reports, photos, even selfies, of just how tricky this latest puzzle really was. It would appear that every piece, excluding the border, was exactly the same shape.

Each and every piece had to be painstakingly offered into position tens of times, scores often, before finding its rightful place. Dad's texts to me made for harrowing reading.



He told me that he would wake up in the middle of the night troubled by the most recent tricky section; dad would come downstairs in the wee small hours and to try and find a home for a few more pieces. It was only when the final piece was slotted into position that he could could finally breathe a sigh of relief and get his life back. 





That's when that I realised I couldn't just let him dismantle it and put it back in the box. I had to preserve it. The Jigsaw Man had invested so much time - so much of himself - on this amazing picture, I couldn't bear the thought of it being turned back into a thousand tiny pieces. So I rang my friend Ed at Paramount Pictures in Nottingham and brought him in as chief framer. 


Tasked with carefully transferring this labour of love  from dad's beloved 'jig-roll' into a beautiful dry mount and frame, the finished artwork - which looks amazing - is now on display at Medd Towers (with all the above photos on its flip side). As Rod said, every picture tells a story. 

Andy Bell - Love Comes in Waves (2020)



Monday, 21 February 2022

Wonky


Today's Monday Long Song is pretty self explanatory: it has a wonky bassline and is a disco banger. It's also something of a kitchen staple here at Medd Towers.

The head honcho behind Red Rack'em, Danny Berman, is a musical geek. If loops, drum patterns and samples are your bag then you need look no further to see how the whole 8 minutes and 10 seconds was painstakingly pieced together.

However, I only speed read it as, a bit like magic tricks, I'd rather not know how they work (it quite literally ruins the magic); which reminds me - I must tell you all about Mike, the landlord in my new favourite bar, who specialises in close-up magic - maybe next time... 

Red Rack'em - Wonky Bassline Disco Banger - 2016


Tuesday, 15 February 2022

At Sixes and Sevens


On Sunday evenings in 1972 any self respecting teenager with access to a radio and a rudimentary tape recorder could be found in their bedroom with their fingers poised over the play and record buttons as they constructed their very own playlists. Between 4pm and 6pm the weekly chart rundown was presided over by Radio 1 jock Tom Browne. All the platters that mattered got an airing; well, nearly all. For some reason the Beeb had a problem with Judge Dread. Tom would skim over the fact that Big Six (and later Big Seven) was sitting at #8 in the charts - but steadfastly refused to play it. What was going on? What could it be that prevented it from being played on the airwaves? And who was buying it if nobody could hear it? It would be a number of years later till I got to hear it in full. And what great tunes they were (Six and Seven). My 11 year old self would have loved 'em, nothing's so sure.

I don't know if Dread, real name Alexander Minto Hughes (1945-1998), lost too much slip over his blanket ban by the corporation - probably not (it didn't seem to hinder sales). Everyone loves an anti-hero and in 1972 Judge Dread certainly fitted the bill.

Judge Dread - Big Six (1972)


Sunday, 13 February 2022

Jollification


It probably says a lot about me when I tell people that our fourth upcoming Vinyl Session features a new album. Ha! New! It came out over 25 years ago, yet, in my head, I think of it as a recent release. Ian Broudie reached peak Lightning Seeds when he unveiled Jollification to a public already balls deep in the Spice Girls, TFI Friday and all things Britpop. 

But Broudie's masterpiece from 1994 is so much more than cool Britannia. Yes, it's a quintessential English pop record packed to the rafters with catchy singles, but dig a little deeper and it's tender and reflective too. And with standout vocal cameos from Terry Hall and Alison Moyet I can honestly say this is one Thursday night I'm really looking forward to. Come and join us for some great music and lively chat. I'll keep a seat by the door for you...   

Lightning Seeds - Perfect (1994)


Sunday, 6 February 2022

Put Your Life on It


When I was growing up in the 70s my life was soundtracked from the moment I switched on Radio 1 in the morning till my regular nighttime obsession with Radio Luxembourg - playing FAB 208 under my pillow till I couldn't stay awake any longer. And if you've dipped in and out of my blog over the last ten years or so you'll probably have a feel for the kind of music I consumed (glam, essentially) and the tunes I took onboard (a bit like osmosis, I guess) - tunes that are still lodged firmly in my brain. And if I said my palate mainly comprised Sweet, Slade, T. Rex, David Bowie and Alice Cooper et al you'd probably be able to piece together yourself what a typical day would sound like in my head.

But glam had a younger brother. Bubblegum. Not as brash, not as lairy; but fun nonetheless. For every Slade there was a Rubettes and for every Sweet there was a Racey. Great pop bands both, but no grit; no substance. Which was fine - it was all grist to Radio 1's mill: Tony Blackburn and Diddy David Hamilton lapped it up; well they would, wouldn't they? What's not to like?

And that's kinda how I feel about Kasabian: I have no strong feelings about them one way or the other. But it seems to me that, recently anyway, when they've been trying to write glam anthems (Bless This Acid House anyone?) they come across sounding more like Hello than Mottt the Hoople, more Alvin Stardust than David Bowie. Which, as I've just said, is no bad thing.

Here they are sounding like a cross between Lieutenant Pigeon and the Glitter Band.

Kasabian - Put Your Life on It (2017)