MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (21)

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It’s now coming up to 8 years since I started up TVV during which time many very fine bloggers have come and gone, many of whom now concentrate their efforts on podcasts or other more instant forms of social media.

It has become increasingly rare to find new kids on the blogging block – particularly those who decide to focus in on that punk/new wave era which was so exciting – and so you can imagine how delighted I was to find my way onto For Malcontents Only, particularly given that it is a place which looks back at the scene in and around Glasgow.

This excellent blog kicked off back just 12 months ago.  Judging by some of the postings, I’m hazarding a guess that Jamie (I’ve only just learned his name thanks to his e-mail address!) is maybe a couple of years older than me given that he is able to reminisce about gigs in pubs at a time when I was dreaming of being able to shave on a regular basis… or maybe unlike me he didn’t have a baby face and a great fear of knock-backs from bouncers.

As you’d imagine, it’s a place heavy with nostalgia but there’s also a tremendous selection of posts concentrating on the here and now.  One of the most unique aspects of FMO is that it features interviews with some of the lesser-known artists who were part of the punk/new wave scene and brings their stories bang up to date.  In short, it is the sort of blog that I had dreams TVV would look like when I set out all those years ago!!

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from May when Jamie looked back at a single released on a small Scottish label:-

The Human League: Being Boiled (1978) Fast Product

In a Melody Maker interview back in February 1979, Martyn Ware of The Human League mentioned that the band were more influenced by films than by they were rock, claiming he’d rather see a good film than a good rock band. In the cinema, ‘You’re part of the experience. Whereas, watching a rock band, it’s just some guys up on a stage.’
When a tour (due to take in Edinburgh and Aberdeen) was later announced supporting Talking Heads, it became apparent that The Human League didn’t see themselves as your standard guys up on a stage kinda band.

Their idea for the show was a multimedia extravaganza, utilizing their new synchronization units that meant they could operate slides in sync with each song. The problem with the plan as far as Talking Heads (not exactly backwards looking dinosaurs themselves) were concerned was the fact that while each member of The Human League would be at the gig, rather than being the centre of attention, they would supposedly be in the audience, hopefully discussing the automated events on stage and signing autographs.

The idea got the band dropped from the tour although they wanted to press ahead with the concept and even expand it.

As their manager Bob Last explained to NME: ‘It’s cost us a lot of money to set up and now we have audio-visuals, tape memory banks – in fact, the whole gist of the show – just sitting in boxes and waiting to go.’

Last outlined the potential of the show and spoke of creating a version for discos rather than rock concerts. ‘There are various other avenues to be explored. For example, I think it would be the ideal support for Alien, or a film of that nature.’

After the comparative failure of second album Travelogue, tensions within the band increased; eventually singer Phil Oakey decided that he wanted to sack Ware, Ian Craig Marsh wasn’t keen on the idea and the pair quit and teamed up on a new project to be known as the British Electric Foundation (BEF).

Remaining members Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright retained The Human League name, although they had to be convinced by Bob Last to do so. The music press didn’t see much of a future for a band with only a singer and director of visuals (even if Wright had started playing incidental keyboards). And you could hardly blame them.

Oakey, though, came up with a possible solution to enable a forthcoming European tour to still go ahead. His plan to fill in the gap left by Marsh and Ware revolved largely around the recruitment of two schoolgirls, Suzanne Sulley (17) and Joanne Catherall (18), who he’d spotted on the dancefloor at the Crazy Daisy’s ‘Futurist’ night in Sheffield although he also additionally employed a professional keyboard player, Ian Burden.

Neither girl had any kind of remarkable singing voice and neither was that great at dancing either. If the pair had time-travelled thirty odd years forward and showed up at an X-Factor audition, they would likely be dismissed as no-hopers.

Luckily the pop buying masses of 1981 didn’t require performers with touching ‘backstories’ on Saturday night TV, neither did they require anyone to have been coached by professionals to perform pointless vocal gymnastics or to display a look that had been (supposedly) ‘styled’ to perfection by somebody with no sense of originality or indeed style.

Having seen the new look League on Top of the Pops miming to Sound of the Crowd, the pop buying masses decided they actually liked the caked-on mascara, beauty spots and lippy and the slightly awkward and un-coordinated dance routines. Generally, girls identified with them while boys fancied them.

Joanne and Suzanne soon became the poster girls for synth-pop but Bob Last, in particular, judged the band could be improved further by the addition of one final and vital ingredient, another professional musician, after Ian Burden temporarily left post-tour.

It might have appeared that the ex-guitarist of the retro obsessed Rezillos and the futuristic Human League had little in common bar sharing the same manager but in April 1981, Jo Callis was invited to become a permanent member, the idea being even stranger if you bear in mind Callis’ confession that he had never been near a keyboard in his life.

The first Human League album with the new line-up, Dare was released in October, 1981 and quickly made its way to the top of the UK album charts. By Christmas it had gone platinum in Britain, its number one status equalled by a single that Phil Oakey hadn’t wanted released, Don’t You Want Me – he only agreed finally on the condition that a large colour poster accompanied the 45, otherwise, he felt, fans would feel ripped off by the ‘substandard’ single alone.

Co-written by Callis, Oakey and Wright, the ‘substandard’ single went on to become one of the UK’s biggest ever selling songs*, the British Christmas number one of 1981 and also later an American #1 too and a worldwide smash.

And here I finally get round to the Scottish independent labels part of the post. Due to the success of Don’t You Want Me, the first ever Human League single, Being Boiled, which had been originally released during the summer of 1978 on Bob Last’s Edinburgh based Fast Product label, was made available again and this time entered the top ten of the singles charts, where it should have been first time around. For me it’s a much better record than Don’t You Want Me. See what you think:

mp3 : Human League – Being Boiled

And if anybody is wondering, this is only the first of a number of entries in this series looking at Fast Product, so I will get round to writing more on the actual label in the future. Honestly.

* It even re-entered the charts here a couple of months ago after being taken up by Aberdeen fans in the run up to their team winning the Scottish League Cup.

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I’ve never met Jamie…not knowingly anyway…..but there’s no doubt that over the past 35 years, we have been in the same place at the same time on many an occasion…we might even have nodded to one another in passing and noot realised!!

The last of this particular Friends Electric series will be tomorrow. TVV should, all being well, begin to return to normal next week.

 

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (20)

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If yesterday’s friend electric can provide 500 reasons why the 80s didn’t suck, then today’s featured blogger extraordinaire can give you 500,000 reasons why club music is the dog’s bollocks…

Ctel, the brains and driving force behind the legendary blog Acid Ted is one of the real inspirations for what I do. There’s a whole load of reasons for that, and those of you who have been on this journey with me since back in September 2006 will know many of those reasons why.

Back in February 2010, when it looked as if Ctel he was giving up on blogging I typed:-

“Now I can’t claim to be a huge lover of the dance genre that was championed over at Acid Ted, but I made sure I went in on a very regular basis and read all that was said if only to learn a lot more about acts and music that was often alien to me.

It was actually almost impossible to keep up with ctel’s prodigious output – sometimes he could produce six postings over a 24 hour period. He began his A-Z of the genre on Thursday 14th February 2008. Two years to the day afterwards, he completed his epic task and laid down his keyboard.

Ctel is a long time friend of TVV. He has posted here on a reasonably regular basis and not just when I’ve been away on holiday and given him the run of the place – I will always be in his debt for him stepping in to keep the blog going during a spell when I ran into some difficulties with my hardware crashing at home, all the while keeping Acid Ted ticking over as well.”

Little did I know that within a few months, I was to experience a personal and sudden tragedy when my young brother died in a car crash…without any prompting, Ctel again took over my blog for an extended period and elicited some astonishing pieces from many people as my internet friends rallied round in my hours of need. I can never thank him enough for that incredible gesture….and its the loss of those particular postings when google pulled the plug on the original blog just over a year ago that really angered and upset me.

I was lucky enough to meet the great man in the flesh a few years back when we shared brunch in London one Sunday morning when I was down there for a weekend break.  He was tremendous company and we spent the time dissecting music, politics, sport and life in general; if anyone passing by looked across or listened in they must have thought we had been mates for decades and that the brunch was some sort of ritual we carried out on a regular basis such was the flow of chat and the sheer joy we took being in each other’s company.  I’m hoping to be down in the capital for a few days later in the year and fingers crossed we will again meet up.

I had planned to feature some dance music to go with the post but instead I’m turning to another band who meant so much to both of us when we were of that age when going along to gigs was the be-all and end-all.

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine came out of seemingly nowhere to become bona fide chart stars in the early 90s. Much of their meteoric rise can be attributed to the energy and vibrancy of their live shows, all of which got off to the most perfect of starts thanks to the deployment of an MC called Jon’Fat’ Beast.

Sadly, Jon Beast passed away a few days ago, but the extent to which he was an essential part of Carter USM, as well as wider the role he played in the music scene in London, can be seen from this piece in one of the major UK newspapers:-

“Tributes were paid today to Jon “Fat” Beast, the music promoter who was best known as the warm-up act for indie pop band Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Fans and friends pledged nearly £5,000 to an internet appeal to raise money for his family following his death aged 51.

Carter lead singer Jim Bob, told The Independent that the former MC had been ill for some time and was understood to have been suffering from septicaemia.

“He didn’t have any money and he had been in and out of hospital for the past few years. We got a message a couple of days ago that he was quite seriously ill then pretty much a day later we found out he had died,” he said.

Beast was a much loved feature at Carter gigs before which he would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him and he traded insults back.

But before that he had run the highly influential Timebox club at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town, north London.

In the mid-1980s it was one of the most important venues of the then thriving indie live scene celebrated as a place that would give unsigned or even unheard acts the opportunity to perform in London.

Among those that played there were Voice of the Beehive, Half Man Half Biscuit, Jesus Jones, Pop Will Eat Itself and Carter USM.

“We met him when we played there, and he was doing the lights as well as running the club. For some reason he had his own microphone and he used to heckle us from the stage,” recalled the singer, now an author whose latest novel, The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81, is written under the name J.B Morrison.

“He was a very lovable character,” he said. “He asked us to come on tour but we said no and he just turned up. The audiences really liked him,” he added. “When we reformed in 2007 he came back for those shows. He was a handful. He was so enthusiastic about everything all of the time but he was genuinely lovely,” he added.

Carter are due to play their last ever shows in November which sold out in a matter of minutes. These are now expected to include a tribute to the former warm-up man.”

These are for ctel and all Carter fans:-

mp3 : Carter USM – Surfin USM
mp3 : Carter USM – Rent
mp3 : Carter USM – After The Watershed (Early Learning the Hard Way)
mp3 : Carter USM – Bloodsport For All

More Friends Electric tomorrow

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (19)

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Today’s Friend Electric is Uncle E. His blog is a real labour of love. It’s called 500 Reasons Why The 80s Didn’t Suck. He set out on this expedition back in September 2012:-

“Let’s for a moment forget about the poofy hair, Reagan and Thatcher and the threat of nuclear annihilation, parachute pants and Eddie Murphy movies. This blog will concern itself with the music of the decade, much of which was wonderful and groundbreaking, as opposed to popular thought which has skewed opinion to remember the 80’s as the worst decade EVER of popular music.

This blog will focus on dispelling that notion by highlighting 500 musical reasons why the ‘80’s categorically did not suck. I lived through the ‘80’s so I should know, and although I made some pretty terrible choices a good majority of the bands and albums remain relevant and enjoyable even today. I didn’t listen to top 40 radio then and I don’t now, so a lot of the stuff that was played back then on that medium won’t be a focus here. No, I’d like to attempt to point you in the direction left of the dial; those albums and bands that were played at underground clubs, the forgotten gems that took research and word of mouth to discover. Trial and error baby, trial and error. These were the days before the internet, kiddies, and when you found a cool band or an album back then you owned it and shared it with your peers. You poured over the latest issues of the NME and Melody Maker (imports for me, of course) and more often that not went by the style of the LP cover or gut impulse, or sometimes both.

The music I focused on back then was new wave, post punk and punk, genres that are really now just considered ‘alternative’. I remember making wildly weird and off-kilter mix tapes up the yin-yang, an art form that has sadly died out with the advent of file sharing and MP3’s. Gang Of Four sat comfortably next to New Order and The Cure, which segued into the Dead Kennedys, NOMEANSNO and Black Flag, followed by OMD, the Psychedelic Furs and early Simple Minds. The bands back then, the early ‘80’s, were trying everything out as there was no template. The Pistols and the Ramones and The Clash blew the old blueprint up a few years prior and these new upstarts, inspired by the DIY ethics of the former, created something totally fresh, totally weird and totally cool in the wake.

So.

I reckon there are at least 500 reasons I can give here why the music of the 1980’s didn’t suck, and I’ll be counting down from that number with the next post. It’s time to dispel the horribly misguided notion that the music from the 1980’s was the worst ever. I’m not quite sure it was the best, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. I hope you all chime in from time to time and give me your feedback. And while I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the music of the ‘80’s I am certainly not arrogant enough to think I know it all. If there is a band or an album that you think I should know about, let me know in the comments section. If I can turn a few of you on to something then all the better.

Thanks for reading. We’re gonna have some fun! Also, as a side note: any of you who want to contribute via a guest post, I’d welcome it in a heartbeat. Just email me or leave a comment you’d like to do so and we’ll make it happen.”

The above words will, I’m sure, chime with many TVV readers – especially those sentences about mix tapes. Happy memories of spending at least 10 hours at a time trying to out the perfect 90 minutes together to help me get through the sheer awfulness and tedium of the daily Glasgow – Edinburgh commute.

Uncle E has counted down to reason 353. Most of his reasons are very sound although there will be a few which raise eyebrows with, for example, reason 421 featuring an LP by Queen. What is especially enjoyable is the succinct style on offer – just a few short sharp sentences to define what he believes makes a great record. Another bonus is the layout and indexing system so that if, for example, you click on New Order you will find they are responsible for reasons 492, 398, 394 and 371

Alongside the various reasons you will also enjoy some very well argued posts offering his thoughts, views and opinions on various aspects of music and musicians. Those of you who aren’t fond of U2 might enjoy his critique of the band. Just click here.

I agree with a lot but not all of the reasons outlined so far by Uncle E. I was looking for an excuse to feature this lot….so here’s reason #461 Why the 80s didn’t suck:-

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“Holy crap, was there a better pure pop band in the 1980′s than Squeeze? Me thinks not. I love everything they did up to East Side Story. Even the debut had it’s moments, and everything after fell apart. In the middle you have this little masterpiece, Squeeze’s strongest and most catchiest songs conveniently compiled on one little piece of plastic. Pulling Mussels, Another Nail In My Heart, If I Didn’t Love You, Vicky Verky, the list just goes on, man! If you track it down the ‘deluxe edition’ is really quite worth it for the concert alone, and the b-sides and other stuff is pretty essential as well. If all you have is the single disk “Singles” (which is fantastic, by the way), you’re cheating yourself out of some terrific tunes. Overall, the best album by Squeeze, no contest.”

mp3 : Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From A Shell)
mp3 : Squeeze – Another Nail In My Heart
mp3 : Squeeze – If I Didn’t Love You
mp3 : Squeeze – Vicky Verky

Enjoy.

IT’S ALL CAUGHT UP WITH ME

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I didn’t build in any time over the weekend to catch up with the blog. Big bundle of emails needing dealt with as well as postings to keep things going this next few days. Will try and get back on track by tomorrow.

In the meantime feel free to listen and dance to this classic:-

mp3 : Stereolab – French Disko

Enjoy!

PS

Here’s something special happening in Glasgow this coming Saturday:-

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I’ll be there all day from about 2pm after taking part in a golf tournament (how very rock’n’roll).

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 20)

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A bit of a historical moment this July 1991 single as it marked the first release featuring the then relatively unknown Boz Boorer – the one consistent member of the Morrissey entourage over the past 23 years.

The song was a new one that hadn’t featured on Kill Uncle or any of the singles taken from that LP released just four months earlier. But it was one that had been written in conjunction with Mark Nevin who had been so heavily involved in the LP…

It’s a single that I was very impressed with on its release. It was a more than passable move to a rockabilly sound completely different from anything Morrissey had done before. My only grumble is that over the next few years, the rockabilly sound proved to be just about the only way this band could play live and too many of the gigs and tours in the early part of the 90s were a letdown….

But I digress…for this series is really only about looking at the single, and as I mentioned above, it was one I liked on release and one that I still have a soft spot for even now all these years later.

The other tracks on the CD single (for it was in that format I originally bought the single although I now also have a 12″ copy as well) were a strange mix of a cover, a live cover and a live version of a song that had previously been a b-side…..

mp3 : Morrissey – Pregnant For The Last Time
mp3 : Morrissey – Skin Storm
mp3 : Morrissey – Cosmic Dancer (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – Disappointed (live)

The single only reached #25 in the charts, marginally higher than the two efforts taken from Kill Uncle, but a bit of a let down given it was a new song altogether.

Skin Storm had originally been recorded by Bradford, a band much-lauded by Morrissey, who had in fact been the support act at the (in) famous Wolverhampton gig in December 1988. Despite the great man’s endorsement, the band never really amounted to much beyond a cult. Here’s the original version:-

mp3 : Bradford – Skin Storm

The live cover version is of a song that, courtesy of Mrs Villain, can be found inside the cupboard in its original release on vinyl from away back in 1971 when she was a teenager with a big crush on Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn and bought all their records at the time…..and here’s a rip from that LP, Electric Warrior:-

mp3 : T Rex – Cosmic Dancer

She clearly took great care of her records……

Incidentally it says on the back of the sleeve of Electric Warrior:-

“This stereo record can be played on mono reproducers provided either a compatible or stereo cartridge wired for mono is fitted. Recent equipment may already be fitted with a suitable cartridge. If in doubt, consult your dealer.”

A reminder that in those days, you tended to buy records from specialist music shops, most of which existed primarily to sell electrical luxuries such as record players, transistor radios and stereograms with vinyl being just a small section over in the corner with a separate counter.

Happy Listening.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 101)

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You might scoff at what Simple Minds evolved into come the mid 80s, but this 7″ single from January 1980 is very worthy of your attention:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Changeling
mp3 : Simple Minds – Premonition (live, Hurrah Club in New York, Oct 79)

This noise was coming out of Glasgow at the fag-end of the 70s and was well ahead of its time. If the band had broken up there and then or maybe 2/3 years later on, then I’ve no doubt they would be getting hailed today as one of the most distinctive and influential bands ever to set foot in a recording studio. Instead, their defining legacy to most is that they, together with U2, were at the forefront of the drift back into stadium rock in the wake of Live Aid.

Oh and that b-side is how it is on vinyl…a dreadful edit with the final notes of the previous song followed by applause and then the intro to Premonition…all very sloppy.

Enjoy.

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (18)

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The above image has nothing at all whatsoever with today’s friend electric other than it is same as the name of the site.

Manic Pop Thrills (MPT) is the place where you will find the musings of Mike Melville, a man with who I have much in common, not least our obsessions with alternative music with Raith Rovers Football Club.

MPT is very fine blend of music, book and gig reviews. I used to post gig reviews on TVV but I stopped as I found myself not able to enjoy what I was seeing and listening to as I was too busy trying to frame the proposed review in my head. And then when it came to trying to capture the moment on-line the following day I found that the reviews were far too lengthy to be of any interest other than to those who were there. Mike however, has a great knack for it as demonstrated by this piece :-

I’ve Fallen For A Monster

Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat / R.M. Hubbert – Twa Tams, Perth – Friday 23rd November 2012

I’ve actually seen Bill and Aidan perform several times before but never as a headline act in their own right. So, last night’s show was something to look forward to.

I’d only been to the Twa Tams once before but I quite liked it’s layout. The gigs seem all to be free but there’s only about a third of the pub given over to the venue with the room with the main PA accommodating only about 100 people (although there’s a screen and secondary PA in the main room). Of course this set-up guarantees that there’s going to be people in the pub who aren’t there for the gig.

Which threatened to be a problem for R.M. Hubbert. Indeed when he started it was difficult to hear him over the chatter from the next room and I briefly worried that the whole evening might have been spoiled. But stepping closer to the speakers helped and the distraction quickly disappeared.

I’d not heard much of him before and even the descriptions of his music, to be honest, didn’t sound too enticing. Yet I actually found his guitar playing quite hypnotic and soothing and, structurally, the handful of pieces he played seemed almost post-rock with an almost drone-like approach. His half hour was over far more quickly than I thought it should have been, which was undoubtedly a good sign.

Fortunately Bill and Aidan didn’t suffer from distractions from next door as a) there were more people to hear them, and b) their set-up was actually a fair bit louder.

For some reason, every time I’ve seen them perform, it’s been in the stripped back 3 piece with Bill and Aidan enhanced by Robert on trumpet. It’s an approach which suits the tunes but this time out Aidan also played percussion throughout which changed the basic dynamic somewhat – in a good way.

The set was essentially based on the award winning LP with a B-side, a cover and, for the encore, no fewer than 3 new songs. Yet there was no feeling of over-familiarity and, despite the melancholic nature of some of the tunes, I found myself feeling quite elated by the whole show.

Maybe because they’re operating some distance away from the MPT motherload, I think I underestimate them sometimes but it’s nice to be reminder that actually the songs ARE fantastic and that seeing them played in person is a rewarding experience.

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Mike makes this live review lark  look so very easy but I know from bitter experience that it’s not.

He didn’t post any songs with the review, so that allows me to take advantage and include an early version of one of the standout track from the award-winning Everything’s Getting Older LP – a version only made available via the luxury boxset

mp3 : Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – The Copper Top (Take 1)

Ever since Google took down the original TVV blog this time last year, I’ve tried not to link to any videos on YouTube, but I really do have to draw your attention to the promo made to accompany the final version of The Copper Top.  One of the best and most memorable ever made.

 

More Friends electric after the weekend regulars.

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (17)

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Bloggers have all sorts of strange reasons for coining he title of their own wee corner of t’internet. In a sense, it’s a bit like trying to come up with a decent name for a band or superhero….

Back in 2006, I came up with the idea of ‘The Vinyl Villain’ as an identity to hide behind as the idea of posting and sharing mp3s may well have been a technical breach of the law but the scale I was intending to operate on was miniscule. It was only some time afterwards that a friend pointed out TVV was very close to name of a second-hand record shop in Edinburgh (Vinyl Villains) – a shop I had totally forgotten about – but by then I was too comfortable to switch back to one of the other names I had been considering. I did however, use one of the other names – The Ghost of Troubled Joe – as a non de plume for a few joke pieces on the old blog.

All of which leads me to today’s friend electric. His name is George and the blog has the tremendous title of Jim McLean’s Rabbit for the reason that “My father helped Jim McLean rescue his pet rabbit ca. 1972. Jim very kindly gave him an autograph book of the Dundee United squad of that era. I hope my brother still has it…….”

It helps to know a little bit about the history of Scottish Football to understand the reference to Jim McLean. Click here for help………

George doesn’t keep an archive on the blog, so heading back to find old posts isn’t the easiest. Like so many of us, he has some regular features interspersed with random ramblings about life all accompanied by the most eclectic of music collections. He’s also got a great habit of throwing in a track every day to commemorate someone’s birthday…..

He’s no longer living in Scotland having, just over a year ago he took leave of his job in teaching, thought about alternatives and ended up moving with his other half  (Jo) to Portugal. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t admire what he’s done and there’s plenty of times, especially in the winter, when I wish I had the courage to do something similar. But deep down (actually not all that deeply buried) I know that a failure to speak anything other than English and the addiction of wanting to go and watch bands in small venues in Glasgow will keep me here for many years to come.

Here’s a posting from Jim McLean’s Rabbit that will hopefully make you smile:-

(Almost)Friend of the (Almost) Famous

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7 March 2014

In my first teaching job, as well as teaching the son of a founder member of Wizzard (and how good is that???) I also taught the daughter of the man who………………INVENTED THE CURLY WURLY!!!

For those of you not familiar with the Curly Wurly, well, it was a chocolate-covered toffee sweet, which when I was about 12 years old, seemed to be about a foot long (30cm), but in reality I suspect it was considerably shorter. But what a belting sweetie. Chewy, very sweet, great tasting. I have no idea if they are still available. But remember, I TAUGHT THE DAUGHTER OF THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE CURLY-WURLY!

And whilst I’m on about Claims-to-Fame, today we have some music made by the brother of Jo’s friend in town. Two, yes two, tangential claims to fame today. And I’ll throw in a third one. Not tangential at all, though. I met the Queen of Great Britain in 2002.

So here’s some Portuguese accordion music by Carlos Luz (brother of Jo’s friend Carmen).

mp3 : Carlos Luz – Perico do Segovie

I suppose someone will ask me what it means. I do not know what it means.

And here are two more tracks from that great Portuguese rock and roll compilation I featured here a few weeks ago. From the cracking album Rockin’ Around Portugal

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are tracks by the Rhythm All Stars and by a band with a great name, the Texabilly Rockets. The album has 22 rock and roll/rockabilly songs. Get it.

mp3 : Rhythm All Stars – My mountain

mp3 : Texabilly Rockets – The leaves keep a fallin

The Ryhthm All Stars might also be known as Carl and The Rhythm All Stars, and have been together for 12 years. The Texabilly Rockets have been on the go since 1993. I am trying to find out if either or both are playing anywhere near here soon. Or anytime.

And finally….

on this day in 1952 Ernest “Ernie” Isley was born, And yes he was one of the Isley Brothers, and he co-wrote this splendid song:

mp3 : Isley Brothers – Who’s that lady

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More Friends Electric tomorrow

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (16)

Keeping It Peel - October 25th

JUST BECAUSE……

http://keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/

and in particular:-

http://keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/john-peel-10-years-gone/

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session)
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Lover’s Town (Peel Session)
mp3 : Cinerama – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Delgados – No Danger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Mr Cave’s A Window Cleaner Now (Peel Session)
mp3 : Madness _ Bed & Breakfast Man (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)
mp3 : T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)

 

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (15)

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With a tremendous title, lifted from a line in Jilted John, today’s friend electric is one of the longest-running out there, dating back to December 2006.

Crying All The Way to the Chip Shop delivers ‘the sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures’ and in a way that is incredibly stylish, wonderfully laid-out and as easy to navigate your way around as the London Underground map. But then again, given that London Lee (LL) is a graphic designer by profession it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.

It’s all very well for a blog or website to look great, but LL also pulls off the trick of coming up with the content to match. Here’s a gem from January 2010:-

The First Time I Felt Old

It was 7:15 in the evening on Friday the 3rd of December, 1982. I know because I still have the ticket.

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I was at one the The Jam’s farewell shows at Wembley Arena and even though I was only 20 myself at the time I felt like one of the oldest people there as the hall seemed to be full of 14-year-old boys wearing cheap Parkas that looked like their Mum had bought them in Millets. It was like being in the audience for Crackerjack or an England Schoolboys football game, and for the first time in my life the words “bloody kids” came into my head and I had that awful feeling of smug superiority that I had been a Jam fan from way, way, way back, long before they were stadium-playing superstars – four years at least! Where were all these spotty little bandwagon-jumpers then, huh? Mucking about with their Tonka Toys probably. I had to fight the urge to grab one of them by the Parka and say “Of course, they were so much better at The Rainbow in ’78. I was there, you know” as if I was some grizzled old hippie droning on about Woodstock.

Several massive hit singles and a Mod revival had happened since that last gig and my mate and I both came to the the rather snotty conclusion that we understood why Weller was breaking up the group if this was their audience now — and selling out Wembley five nights in a row wasn’t very “punk” was it? — which is exactly the sort of condescending attitude you’d expect from a 20-year-old who thinks he knows it all (don’t they all?) But looking back now I feel bad for those kids, they were at the age when they were starting to get into music seriously and I can imagine how important The Jam were to them because I remember that feeling well myself. Paul Weller was your hero and you would hang on his every word for tips on what to wear, what to read, what old records to buy, even how to vote. And then — maybe in the same week you bought a George Orwell novel because Paul mentioned him in an NME interview — the bastard went and broke the band up. Who did that leave you with? Secret Affair??? That’s like losing a pound and finding a penny — well, 50p maybe.

I don’t remember much about the actual gig itself apart from Weller smashing up his guitar Pete Townsend-style after he tripped over his guitar lead and Bruce hanging around on the stage waving to the crowd at the end long after Paul had buggered off. But I do have a bootleg of the concert from the night before at Wembley which is about as close as I’ll ever get to recreating that magical night when I became an old git.

Download: Precious – The Jam (mp3)
Download: Move On Up – The Jam (mp3)
Download: Boy About Town – The Jam (mp3)
(Live at Wembley, December 2nd, 1982)

Another reason why I had no right to feel superior to those kids: When I was their age I was into ELO.

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Sadly, I don’t have the songs from the bootleg so instead I will offer versions from my own collection of music from the trio who, more than any other, turned me into a music obsessive:-

mp3 : The Jam – Precious (demo)
mp3 : The Jam – Move On Up (live on’The Tube’)
mp3 : The Jam – Boy About Town (flexidisc version)

LL has also taken some of his best postings and turned them into two volumes of books. Click here for more details. I’ve just placed an order for both of them….

More Friends Electric tomorrow

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (14)

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Many of the more informative and entertaining blogs come from the simplest ideas. Today’s Friend Electric is Charity Chic Music, maintained and managed by Charity Chic (or CC for short).

The first ever posting on the blog in November 2012 set out the philosophy:-

“The idea of this blog is to share music I have discovered in Charity Shops.

When real life kicks in and you can’t afford to buy as much music as you like or used to you are faced with a number of options:-

1. stop buying
2. buy less
3. buy less, hit the library and the charity shops

I’ve gone for option 3.”

It’s expanded a wee bit since then, taking in gig reviews and a range of themed postings including cult labels, southern soul and what must be a world first in ‘Bands I’ve seen in Helensburgh’ (a very small town at the end of the railway line some 25 miles west of Glasgow).

He will darken the doors off all sorts of charity shops in the hope of unearthing something for his blog, and I’ve stolen his words and music from a posting back in October 2013 partly as the shop in question is away up on the north coast of Scotland, not too far from the home town of my dear friend Jacques the Kipper, and partly as I agree with every word he says about the CD he featured:-

The Portsoy Thrift Shop Experience

Wouldn’t that be a great name for a band!

The thrift shop in the rather pleasant North East Scottish village of Portsoy has probably got the cheapest CDs that I’ve yet come across – four for a pound!

I could only see two that caught my fancy. In retrospect I should have grabbed another two and recycled the jewel cases.

This was one

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This Sheffield band is a personal vanity project of one Stephen Jones and are famous for one track “Your Gorgeous” which reached number 3 in 1996 .

Anyone spending more than 25p on the album and expecting more of the same will be extremely disappointed.

According to the sleevenotes Ugly Beautiful is the search for perfection and is like trying to kill flies with scissors.

A pile of pants I say

Babybird – Candy Girl

Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

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More friends electric tomorrow

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 19)

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mp3 : Morrissey – I Have Forgiven Jesus

Released just before Xmas 2004, the song title clearly rattled the controllers at the BBC for they didn’t allow it to be playlisted on either Radio 1 or Radio 2. Other radio stations weren’t so concerned, nor were various music video channels, and so this became the fourth highly succesful single to be taken from You Are The Quarry, hitting #10 on its week of release.

Last week I mentioned that, between 1989 and 1997, only one out of the twenty of the great man’s singles released during that period got as high in as the Top Ten in the UK. Fast forward seven years to the comeback…and all four singles released in 2007 go Top 10. The only other act to enjoy such chart success in the UK that year was boy band McFly…..

The single came out on 7″ and on two CD formats. The b-side on the 7″ and the widely available CD1 is probably the weakest of the three previously unavailable songs – and its a cover of a record released back in 1987 by Raymonde, a band that featured James Maker who appeared as a dancer/backing vocalist with The Smiths at a handful of their very early gigs – but that in some ways is a bit of a harsh criticism as they all have something to offer:-

mp3 : Morrissey – No One Can Hold A Candle To You
mp3 : Morrissey – Slum Mums
mp3 : Morrissey – The Public Image

No One…is the cover version. Slum Mums and The Public Image surely deserved to be on something other than CD2 of the fourth single taken from an LP, for they are among some of the best things he has released since embarking on the comeback. Particularly ‘The Public Image’ which I think is a rather wonderful song….

The cover photo is a still taken from the promo video

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 100)

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From wiki:-

Shop Assistants were an indie pop band from Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1984, initially as Buba & The Shop Assistants. After achieving success with independent releases they signed to Chrysalis Records sublabel Blue Guitar, releasing their only album in 1986. After splitting in 1987, with singer Alex Taylor moving on to The Motorcycle Boy, they reformed for two further singles in 1990.

The original line-up was Aggi (Annabel Wright, later of The Pastels), on vocals, David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums) and Ann Donald (drums). This line-up released one single, the now highly-collectible “Something to Do” which was produced by Stephen Pastel. Stephen Pastel also contributed backing vocals.

Aggi left to be replaced by Alex Taylor. Soon after, the name shortened to simply ‘Shop Assistants’ and the first release under their new name was the Shopping Parade EP in 1985 on The Subway Organization, the lead track from which, “All Day Long” was described by Morrissey as his favourite single of that year. Ann Donald left round about November 1985 and was briefly replaced by Joan Bride (possibly a pseudonym!). Shopping Parade was followed in early 1986 with “Safety Net”, the first release on Keegan’s 53rd & 3rd Records, which peaked at number two in the UK Independent Chart, and the band recorded a national radio session with Janice Long and a second John Peel session, both of BBC’s Radio One.The exposure they gained from the sessions enabled the group to have two songs to be voted into John Peel’s Festive Fifty in both 1985 and 1986.

In 1986, they were featured on the NME’s compilation C86 with one of their slower songs, “It’s Up To You”, taken from Shopping Parade EP. Also in that year, they signed to Chrysalis Records’s sublabel Blue Guitar for another single, “I Don’t Wanna Be Friends With You” as well as their first and only LP album, Will Anything Happen. This spent one week at number 100 in the UK album charts, which gives the band the distinction of being the (joint) least successful act ever to hit the national charts. The album was re-released on CD in 2001, although it is now very hard to find.

The band split early in 1987, when Taylor left the group to join The Motorcycle Boy. After a two-year hiatus, the band reformed without Taylor in 1989 with Kneale on vocals and MacPhail on bass and the addition of Margarita Vasquez-Ponte of Jesse Garon And The Desperadoes.

And here is one of THE great indie-singles of the era:-

mp3 : Shop Assistants – Safety Net
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Almost Made It
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Somewhere In China

Again…from wiki:-

The song was first recorded for the band’s first session for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show on 8 October 1985.It was recorded for release on 24 and 25 October 1985 at Pier House, Edinburgh, and released as a single on guitarist David Keegan and Stephen Pastel’s 53rd & 3rd Records in February 1986, the first release on the label.

The single reached number two on the UK Independent Chart, spending seventeen weeks in the chart in total. The song was voted to number eight on the 1986 Festive Fifty, with only tracks by The Smiths, Primal Scream, The Fall and “Kiss” by Age of Chance receiving more votes.

“Safety Net” was described by David Sheridan of Trouser Press as “nothing short of brilliant”.Gillian Watson of The Scotsman called the song an “early classic”, which “captures how nervous and exciting it feels to be a young adult in the city at night”.

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (13)

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Today’s friend electric describes herself as a ‘music obsessed cooking freak’ which always makes me laugh.

The blog is called I Sing In The Kitchen and the genius behind it is Tricia.

I say genius and in this case I think it’s an accurate use of the word for it really does take someone special and talented to come up with the idea of a blog which has a daily recipe linked into a piece of music or a singer or band. And she’s been entertaining us in this way since January 2011 never ceasing to amaze with the extent and variety of the recipes and the music.

Tricia has an incredible taste in music and is forever using her blog to recommend all sorts of new stuff with a fair bit of it featuring singers and bands from Scotland, many of which were previously unknown to me. The thing is though….Tricia isn’t from my part of the world – indeed she lives a long long way from my part of the world.   Vermont, USA to be precise and it never ceases to amaze me the depth or her knowledge and the extent of her enthusiasm when it comes to Jock’n’Roll.

By most reckonings, I should be getting as far away as is humanly possible from a food related blog.  My taste in food is about as bland, unimaginative and boring as you could imagine and therefore so much of what Tricia so lovingly describes is wasted on me. My idea of cooking is to remove something from the refrigerator, pierce a hole in the cover and press the appropriate buttons on the microwave.

Tricia though, has a real passion for here recipes and recommendations.  Have a read at this from February 2011 and please note the photos are taken as Tricia prepares and completes the recipe:-

Ooh La La! French Macarons With Raspberry-Rose Buttercream.

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Recently my daughter needed to make a French recipe to share with her French class at school. We decided to have a go at making macarons and I am so glad that we did. French style macaroons, or ‘macarons’ en français, are two delicate meringue style cookies sandwiched together with a rich buttercream or ganache. When you bite into a macaron the crisp exterior of the cookie gives way into a slightly chewy center that in turn gives way to a delectable cream filling. Delicieux.

I had never used rose water prior to this recipe. The buttercream recipe only calls for a quarter teaspoon and the smallest bottle sold at my supermarket was 300 ml! Holy Rose Water! Please, if you know of any other good recipes using rose water send them my way!

Please indulge me while I have a momentary flight of ideas:

Rose + Water= Titanic——>Sinking

Kills me everytime!

Back to the baking.

French Macarons With Raspberry-Rose Buttercream

Cookies:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup sifted almond flour

3 large egg whites

2 Tbs plus 1/2 tsp sugar

Filling:

16 oz frozen raspberries

1 cup plus 6 Tbs sugar, divided

2 large egg whites

10 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, softened

1/4 tsp rose water

Directions:

1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

2. Sift confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a large bowl.

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3. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt until medium peaks form. Add egg white mixture to almond mixture and fold to incorporate.

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4. Working in two batches, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch diameter plain pastry tip with batter. (Batter will be thin and will drip from bag). Pipe batter in 1 1/4 inch rounds on baking sheets, spacing one inch apart. (Cookies will spread slightly). Let rest on baking sheets at room temperature for 20 minutes.

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5. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven.

6. Preheat oven to 375℉.

7. Bake cookies 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325℉. Continue to bake cookies until puffed and golden on top, about 10 minutes, reversing sheets after 5 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets on rack. Carefully peel cookies from parchment.

(The cookies can be made one day ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Filling:

1. Bring raspberries and 1 cup sugar to boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook until berries are soft, juices thicken, and mixture measures about 1 1/2 cups, stirring frequently, 7 to 9 minutes.

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2. Measure 1/2 cup of raspberry mixture and strain into a small bowl. Cool strained jam and jam with seeds separately.

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(The jams can be made one week ahead. Cover them separately and refrigerate)

3. Combine egg whites, 6 Tbs sugar and 1/4 tsp salt in bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water. Heat until candy thermometer inserted into mixture registers 140℉, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes.

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4. Using whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture at high speed until stiff meringue forms and mixture is at room temperature, 5 to 6 minutes.

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5. With mixer running, add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is incorporated before adding next. Beat in rose water. Add 3 Tbs seedless jam, 1 Tbs at a time. (If the buttercream should ever appear curdled, place bowl over medium heat and whisk to warm slightly for a few seconds, then remove from heat and beat again. Note: I never had any curdling and have no idea how common a problem that is.)

6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Using 1/2 tsp jam with seeds for each, spread jam over flat side of half of macarons. (These are super delicate cookies. Handle very carefully or they crush.)

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7. Spoon buttercream into pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch plain tip. Starting at outer edge of flat sides of remaining macarons, pipe buttercream over in spiral. (I had to hold the macaron in one hand and pipe with the other since the dang things would move all over the place if I tried to pipe the buttercream while they were sitting on the parchment.)

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8. Gently press macarons, jam filled side down, onto buttercream coated macarons. Place on sheet. Cover and chill overnight.

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(The macarons can be made 2 to 3 days ahead. Store in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving)

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine. (They said they got about 3 dozen sandwiched macarons. Even when I realized, early on, that I was piping the cookies too big I still only ended up with about 24 sandwiched macarons.)

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Here are a few French songs to get you in a macaron mood.

Lloyd Cole-Si Tu Dois Partir

Serge Gainsbourg-Sea, Sex And Sun

DeVotchKa-Viens Avec Moi

Cheers!

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I was lucky enough to meet Tricia, along with her incredible family, when they all came over to Scotland as part of a vacation a few years back.  I read on someone’s Facebook page that she’s heading our way again in the not too distant future….my fingers and toes are crossed.

JC

 

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (12)

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Here’s someone else who has been a long time friend of the blog.

Rol Hirst is, like so many of the folk I’m featuring this month, a great talent.  He has, in the past, produced some incredibly entertaining comics and if you go to his website/blog My Top Tens you will find a link to his novel, available as an e-book via kindle.

Rol has been responsible for some great on-line material over the years, especially over at the now defunct Sunset Over Slawit, and nowadays he entertains us with My Top Ten which is, in his own words – very little waffle, just ten songs on any given subject.

The thing is, in just under two years, Rol has written more than 200 such lists on all sorts of weird and wonderful subject matters. His imagination knows no bounds.  Here’s an example

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My Top Ten Strike Songs

I’ve been on strike today for the first time in my life. I managed 41 years without ever going on strike; I’ve been a full time teacher just over a month and already I’m unionised and refusing to cross the picket line. Billy Bragg would be proud…. which probably gives away this week’s Number One.

Special mention to the Flying Pickets… obviously.

10. Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger – Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?

Perhaps one day Sam will ask me this question. Perhaps I’ll point him to this post.

The song itself… you won’t hear a better chronicle of the darkest days of the 1980s.

9. Strike Anywhere – You’re Fired!

Very loud but extremely apt.

Hopefully the name of the band won’t lead me to the title of the song.

8. Elvis Costello – Clown Strike

I hate clowns, so they can stay on bloody strike for all I care.

7. Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union

Perhaps not about that kind of union, but what it lacks in relevance it makes up for in passion. And any song that mixes Bruce Springsteen with Billy Bragg gets my vote every time…

“No, I never wanted to change the world, but I’m looking for a new New Jersey
Because tramps like us, baby, we were born to die”

6. Ry Cooder – Strike!

Lots of songs about striking miners… couldn’t find any about striking teachers.

We’ve got it easy, to be honest.

5. Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life

Growing up in Wales, the Manics were hit hard by the miners’ strike. Their biggest hit was inspired by it… and they’re still angry (referencing the Battle of Orgreave) on their excellent new album, Rewind The Film.

4. The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again

Yes, yes, this is also somewhat off-topic… but you didn’t really think I was going to leave it out, did you?

3. Billy Joel – Allentown

Even the union can’t help the inhabitants of Allentown. For anyone who dismisses Billy as a balladeer, here he’s as angry at his country as Springsteen on Born In The USA. Great song.

2. Pulp – The Last Day Of The Miners’ Strike

Coming from South Yorkshire, Jarvis will have seen the worst effects of the miner’s strike firsthand too. Working in Barnsley, I’m reminded of it regularly. Those scars are still raw.

“Well by 1985, I was as cold a cold could be
But no-one was underground to dig me out and set me free
’87 socialism gave way to socialising
So put your hands up in the air once more
The north is rising”

1. Billy Bragg – There Is Power In A Union

Sharing its title with a song written in 1913 by Joe Hill (presumably not Stephen King’s son… unless time travel or supernatural naughtiness are involved), Billy’s version sounded defiant against Thatcherism in the 80s… but is it a forlorn hope today?

“Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?”

Those were my striking anthems. Which one would cross your picket line?

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mp3 : Billy Bragg – Don’t Mourn, Organise
mp3 : Billy Bragg – There Is Power In A Union (live)

Both taken from a gig recorded live at the Barbican Centre in London in March 2004…the first is the three minute spoken intro for the latter.

More Friends Electric tomorrow