MY SMALL BUNDLE OF TEN INCHERS (3)

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Here’s ten inches of unadulturated silliness.

mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC – Where’s Me Jumper?

It reached the giddy heights of #67 in the UK charts in February 1992. It’s great fun to make a fool of yourself with on any dance floor.  It’s enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent times as it’s been used as the theme tune to this award winning comedy series.

Couple of decent b-sides too if you want to look on music as being enjoyable and not always needing to be serious,

mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC – I Said I Am I Said
mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC – Turnip Fish

Enjoy.

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (14)

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Disc 14 is The Magnificent Seven.

For all that I’ve never fallen totally for the charms of Sandinista!, the opening track on Side A was one that I loved on first play and have never since tired of it.  Yes, it was a total curve ball as it was not what any of us were expecting from The Clash.  Rap music was something us British new wave post-punkers only really read about tucked away in obscure parts of our music papers and up until this point I can’t say that outside of the Top 3 hit Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang (a single I had bought as a 16-year old) was a genre I was unfamiliar with.  But as I’ve mentioned in previous postings looking at times in my life, dancing and dance music has always been important to me.  And everything about the track insisted you moved your limbs to the best of your ability.

mp3 : The Clash – The Magnificent Seven

As wiki accurately reports, it was was inspired by hip hop acts from New York City, like the aforementioned  Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, both of whom were having an impact on all members of The Clash.

It was recorded in April 1980 at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, built around a funky bass loop played by Norman Watt-Roy of The Blockheads with Joe Strummer writing the words on the spot. It is probably the first time a rock band had tried to record a rap song – it predated the much more famous and successful Rapture, the #1 hit for Blondie, by some six months.

It’s a remarkable song in so many ways, not least the lyric which deals with the humdrum of everyday life (especially the need to work to survive) but also has an incredible stream of consciousness fashion that takes in shopping, the media and famous people in history. And cheeseburgers. And vacuum cleaners. And budgerigars.

It was released on 7″ vinyl with highly edited versions and an instrumental on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Clash – The Magnificent Seven (edit)
mp3 : The Clash – The Magnificent Dance (edit)

The 12″ versions were slightly longer but still shorter than the album version:-

mp3 : The Clash – The Magnificent Seven (12″ mix)
mp3 : The Clash – The Magnificent Dance (12″ mix)

The US 12″ version also contained The Cool Out, the remix of The Call Out as featured two weeks back.

A cracking essay is in the booklet for this one….

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN : Released 10 April 1981 : #34 in the UK singles chart

I bought Sandanista and I played the first and second sides loads and I think ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is the leading track.  At the time I had a job in a print factory, and the lyrics were pretty true to my life, “Ring Ring 7am, got to get up and start again”.  Most of the time I wanted to commit suicide, so the song portrayed that experience correctly. It made it funny as well..the “cheesburger” line. I heard he was making an order, and they kept it on the track.

The song’s about the futility of work and that’s what I felt, it voiced the experience I was going through. Living in a cage, imprisoned with no real future, that song gave me the courage to give up work. I always remember the lyrics because of that.

I loved Chic and this sounded like ‘Good Times’, but I liked it.  I didn’t know Joe was doing rap, I do in retrospect but at the time I never knew that. It sounded like a punk version of Chic.

It’s a rebel song you can really dance to.  One of the best, really brave, the album before was ‘London Calling’ which everyone was saying was a rock masterpiece, then they come out with a triple album full of disco, psychedelia, country, dub, everything.  I probably bought it at Soundtrack Records in Mount Florida, Glasgow. For some reason he always had punk records.  I was 18 years old, living at home with my dad. It’s an amazing record, great energy, great remixes, a truly wild record with some of Strummer’s greatest lyrics.

Bobby Gillespie,  Primal Scream

PS from JC…………………

The one thing I will say about the bass line from The Magnificent Seven, is that it bears more than a passing resemblance to this hit single from 1978:-

mp3 : The Rolling Stones – Miss You

Doesn’t it?

 

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (17)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 1 MAY 2008

here we go

I’ve been lucky enough to live almost all of my life in a reasonable sized city – 40 years in Glasgow and 5 years in Edinburgh (updated now to 48 years in Glasgow!). Both are well-renowned in the visual and performing arts, with proud-roll calls of musicians, painters, novelists, entertainers and raconteurs. You wouldn’t expect anything different given both have more than 500,000 residents.

There is a town called Falkirk that is situated almost exactly halfway between Scotland’s two main cities. It is home to around 33,000 people which makes it the 20th largest settlement in Scotland (you would be surprised to find just how small in global terms our towns and cities are).

It is a fairly typical Central Scotland town in that it was formerly heavily dependant on heavy industry and engineering, much of which has disappeared in the last three or four decades. Nowadays, many of the local population take the commuter train west to Glasgow or east to Edinburgh for employment.

I think it’s not unfair to say that Falkirk is the sort of town where folk grow up and usually look to move elsewhere when they can.

And yet it is a place that has produced some incredibly talented folk over the past two decades in particular. A couple of my favourite authors Gordon Legge and Alan Bissett hail from the town – both fill their books with ordinary and recognisable characters who are often besotted with music, football, cars, drugs and alcohol. (Sadly, Gordon Legge last wrote a novel in 1998, but Alan Bissett is still going strong and his website is here)

(NB : Since 2008, I can add Adam Stafford as someone connected with Falkirk to the distinguished list.  He was born in Sunderland but moved to Falkirk at a very young age….)

One of my favourite bands (now sadly no more), consisting of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton, hail from Falkirk. They were of course Arab Strap, a pair who filled their songs with recognisable characters who are often besotted with….well if the truth be told, sex and drugs.

The odds of a town such as Falkirk producing so many great artists in such a short timescale must be pretty high. There’s nothing about it that immediately grabs you as being inspirational – it’s a very ordinary, almost dull place. And yet each of these writers and musicians have taken their surroundings and produced narratives that grab your attention from the outset and keep hold of it until the last sentence on the last page or last note is struck on the single or album.

Arab Strap have often been accused of having been latent miserablists. Aidan Moffat as the principal songwriter has, by some folk, been labelled as misogynist. The evidence seems to be a lot of the songs are about failed relationships and that the protagonist often blames his other half for what happens rather than look at his own faults. He’s no misogynist, just a hopeless sad romantic….there’s no other explanation for song titles like The Girl I Loved Before I Fucked and Meanwhile, At The Bar, A Drunkard Muses. And have a listen to Where We Left Our Love if you still have doubts.

Aidan Moffat is probably the most unique songwriter to come out of Scotland in my lifetime. The characters in his songs are more often than not angst-ridden, lacking in self-belief, riddled with doubts and always in fear of failure. Almost all of his songs could be filmed as a short story. And when you dig a little bit below the surface, you will often find some fantastic examples of humour in his writing.

What makes the band so special however is that Malcolm Middleton was able to take these brilliant bits of narrative and set them to music that was equally as ground-breaking and imaginative.

(And before anyone pulls me up about how I’ve suggested the labour in the band was divided, I’m well aware that sometimes Aidan wrote music as well, and that Malcolm did contribute some lyrics.)

It’s true that Arab Strap are a bit of an acquired taste. But I think they were fantastic over the ten years they were together, and their break-up was a sad day for Scottish music. But at least we have the consolation of them both performing as solo artists now.

This single was released on the Glasgow-based label Chemikal Underground in 1998. It can also be found on the truly astonishing and jaw-dropping LP Philophobia, whose cover features drawings of a nude Aidan Moffat and his then girlfriend.

mp3 : Arab Strap – Here We Go
mp3 : Arab Strap – Trippy

Warning :  Trippy is more than 12 minutes in length.  It’s a short story about drug-taking that has got all sorts of sounds set to it.  It’s quite unique.

Here’s the lyric:-

Ailidh phoned me at work at about half four. It’s funny I don’t even speak to her any more, she’s a fucking wee cow. Better than everybody, ken? Doesn’t speak to her mates or anything like that. Anyway, we got in at the time and she phones me up and asked me what I’m doing tonight. I was only going to sit in and watch the telly as usual, wondering where everybody else was. So she said, come round to Rab’s house and that, get some trips, ken? So I said I’d go round about six. I was about an hour late and I was knocking on the door and that, and nobody answered. And I thought, oh fucking brilliant they’re away out without me and that, they’ll be away up the town having a laugh. So I walk back round the road, ’cause I thought they were away out, and I phoned. Turns out they had still been there. They were that out of it, they couldn’t even get to the door.

So I went back round. Everybody was fleeing as usual and I got handed my half. And I thought I’d just take it, ken? I’m working the next day, I better not go too far. But two hours later, nothing was happening. so I thought , fuck it. And I took the rest, which I’d been warned about already. Everyone was jumping about the front room as usual, and we were sitting giggling, having a laugh and then Cheg came and took us to the pub in his car. We told Cheg he should be our anchor, that was a fucking laugh. He kept telling us to calm down, as though he was our mum and dad and that, ’cause we were acting like weans and giggling and looking at the table and dropping our drinks all over the place.

We made it back to his car, jumped in, and he took us back round to the house. Then he decided to pack it in and go home. So Malcolm and I get back in the house and suddenly someone’s going on about Rab and how he’s he’s no fucking there , and how he’s away outside and he looks like he’s in pain or something like that. He had to go and pick up some more stuff ’cause they’d used all this stuff for Glastonbury the next week. And somebody said he apparently took something when he was there, so he’s writhing about in pain outside. So Malcolm and I walked out and he’s was walking along the edge of road on the grass and that with his fucking stomach held in his hands and he’s screaming and that. And then we lost him. He disappeared into the park and we didn’t know where he was. So Malc and I were walking about and then we found him. But we decided we should stay back a bit, ken? In case he got a fright. So we followed him up into this park, as though that wasn’t going to scare him anyway!! And when we did find him, he was there doubled up in pain, fucking screaming his eyes out, going on about how his stomach was knotted and he shouldn’t have taken it, and it was a stupid thing to do. So he’s sitting there on the hill and that with Malc and I on either side and all we can do is sit and giggle and look at the grass and take the piss out of him.

So we get him up on his feet and we start walking him about and he says he’s alright. And we walk up to the garage and he’s going on about his stomach. Then he starts shouting about how we should get away from him and that, in case something happens, in case he fucking dies or something. So he says he thought it was that bad, that’s what was going to happen and he didn’t want us to be involved. He always looked out for everyone else, ken? So we take him to the garage and he wants a bottle of Irn Bru and he’s fuckin’ downing this bottle of Irn Bru, talking about his fucking stomach and everything and how he’s taken this thing and he has to get it out of his system and talking about how it’s all in his bile, and he’s desperately trying to make himself sick and he’s screaming all the fucking time as well. And Malc and I are still laughing – we don’t know what he’s up to. He could have taken anything, I wouldn’t know.

Nobody’s sure yet about what he took. Fuckin’, he could have injected something, he could have swallowed something, nobody knows. But he just stood there with this dirty fucking face, it’s all black and dirty and brown, ken? He’s halfway down his bottle of Irn Bru and he’s being sick all over the fucking place. And a car went by, slowing down the road but he’s just screaming all the time about how it was all in his fucking bile and how he wants to be sick. He keeps fucking screaming… then he threw up.

(LONG INSTRUMENTAL BREAK!!!!)

So we walked him back to the house after made us swear we wouldn’t tell anybody. So he goes back to the house and he fucking tells everybody. He locked himself in his room and started eating a bag of sugar or something like that, while everyone else was talking about what a dick he was. I ended up at the park that night. Sitting eating Pringles with Paula and watching the wildlife. And the next day when I went to work I was still out of my face. I was pacing about on the stairs talking to myself and writing things and he walked in and stressed the point about making sure that no one would find out.

Enjoy.

WHEN CLARE MET ALBINI

rosaThat lot pictured above are Rosa Mota (but you can tell that as the promo picture says so).

It’s of course Rosa Mota the band as opposed to Rosa Mota the famous marathon runner.

The band formed in 1992 and consisted of Ian Bishop (vocals/guitar), Julie Rumsey (vocals/guitar), Sacha Galvagna (guitar), Michelle Marti (bass) and Justin Chapman (drums). Their first two singles were released on Placebo Records after which they signed to Mute imprint, Thirteenth Hour Recordings.

The debut album was called Wishful Sinking and was released in 1995.

But it was only with the release of the follow-up LP, Bionic, in 1996, that they first came to my notice.

And all because of Clare Grogan.

Readers of old will know my infatuation with the ex-Altered Images singer and will understand why I sat up and took notice of Rosa Mota.

The most-perfect woman ever to stride planet pop had been a long time away from the scene, concentrating instead on an acting career. But then the world was informed that she had sung joint lead vocals on one of the tracks on Bionic and there were even rumours she might join the band. The music papers carried a story that Clare had co-wrote a song not featured on Bionic for use on a future single, and quoted her as saying

“It was amazing, it was really nice, no pressure, and it made me realise that I enjoy being in a band. Working with Rosa Mota brought the fun back into it for me.”

That was good enough for me, so out I went and bought the CD.

Which turned out to be nothing more than OK, although it does have the brilliantly titled From Her To Maternity as an album opener (sadly the title is better than the song).

Clare’s effort is however, well worth a listen:-

mp3 : Rosa Mota – This Grudge

Just a pity the proposal came to nothing. On this evidence, we could have had something asking to the pixie of pop fronting a PJ Harvey type band.

The album was produced by Steve Albini and is full of his trademarks such as sonic guitar bursts and a near live feeling to the record with few overdubs. But while there is very little on the album to make it truly stand out as distinctive and special, it does contain a genuine hidden classic that was released as a 45:-

mp3 : Rosa Mota – Space Junk

Another that should have been a hit when you think of all the Britpop crap that got into the charts roundabout the same time.

Happy Listening.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #70 : THE WOODENTOPS

A guest posting from strictly rockers.

Woodentops ICA

Potted history:

The Woodentops formed in South London, 1983. Singer/Songwriter and top ‘Top, Rolo had previously played with The Jazz Butcher and The Wild Swans. Their sound was described by the Guardian as ‘a mix of 80’s skiffle, Rockabilly, Bo Diddley riffs played with semi-acoustic guitar and synthesisers’ which just about covers all bases. Their debut single, ‘Plenty’ (1994), on Dave Balfe‘s Food label, earned a ‘single of the week’ from Morrissey and radio plays from John Peel. After moving to Rough Trade, they released seven more singles, and two studio albums including their classic debut ‘Giant’ (1986).

A phenomenal live band, as captured on the ‘Live Hypno Beat’ album (1987), they embraced remix and dance culture many years before any of their contemporaries. They played the main stage at Glastonbury, the 1985 Miner’s Benefit in Brixton with Aztec Camera, Everything But The Girl and Orange Juice, a 1992 CND benefit with Big Audio Dynamite, collaborated with On-U Soundsystem, and supported both Prince and David Bowie.

The second studio album, ‘Wooden Foot Cops On The Highway’ (1988), was christened during an unplanned jam session with Lee Perry having mistakenly been dropped at their rehearsal space.

http://woodentopsmusic.com/wtmusic.html

‘Why Why Why’ was belatedly picked up by DJ Alfredo in Ibiza, spawning remixes, covers and interest in the UK from UK DJs Oakenfold, Weatherall and Rampling. In 1991, The Woodentops headlined their own club night at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square, just two months after Primal Scream‘s Screamadelica club launch at the same venue. The all-nighter featured support DJs and an expanded Woodentops line-up including Tackhead‘s Skip MacDonald was captured on the long form video ‘Smokin’ the Empire’. The eagle-eyed will see the 23-year-old me, gurning top right at about 29′ 34″.

After Rough Trade went into receivership in 1991, The Woodentops self-released three minimal white label 12″s. The band disbanded and Rolo concentrated on more studio-based projects such as Pluto and Dogs Deluxe.

2006 saw the live return of The Woodentops. They released the comprehensive, career-spanning 3CD ‘Before, During, After’ and a new studio album, ‘Granular Tales’ through Cherry Red (both 2013), and are currently touring, including 21 April at the iconic 100 Club. See you down the front!.

http://woodentopsmusic.com/

All the Woodentops record sleeves feature the beautiful visuals of Panni (Charrington) Bharti. Primitive, organic and instantly recognisable, her artwork is the perfect visual representation of the band and has grown and evolved alongside the music.

http://www.pannibharti.com/

The gratuitous Julian Cope link:

Rolo once unsuccessfully auditioned for the Teardrop Explodes and, when supporting Cope on his first solo tour, fuelled the infamous ‘Reynard’ belly-slashing incident by ‘out-performing’ the Archdrude on stage.

And now, to the music…

Timber: An Imaginary Woodentops Compilation Album for The (New) Vinyl Villain

Side One:

1) Plenty (Single, Food 1984)

Debut single produced by Dave Balfe. ‘This one fades in gently…’

2) Move Me (Godwin Logie Mix) (Single, Rough Trade 1985)

Produced by Andy Partridge of XTC. The song has an amazing barely restrained rumble. ‘You do it once. Do it twice. Every single time will be twice as nice’

3) Good Thing 12″ (Single, Rough Trade 1986)

Produced by Bob Sargeant. The heart-warming first single off ‘Giant’. ‘Sometime you try harder for me than I try for myself’

4) Why Why Why (Adrian Sherwood Mix) (2×7″ Single, Rough Trade 1986)

Remixed Adrian Sherwood of On-U Sound. The song that spawned many remixes – none that better this though!

5) Well Well Well (From Live Hypno Beat Live, Rough Trade 1986)

From ‘Why Why Why’ to ‘Well Well Well’ – the live version of the 1985 single – hold tight!

Side Two:

6) Stop This Car (Motor Mix) (B-Side of ‘You Make Me Feel’, Rough Trade 1988)

Remixed by Ian Tregoning and Rolo at Yello’s studio in Zurich. A song of two-halves, a bit like the Woodentops career in a song – the first at half speed, the second a full-on, down-hill, no brakes joyride! ‘I said, ‘What’s your sign?’ He said ‘No Parking’’

7) You Make Me Feel (Single, Rough Trade 1988)

Just beautiful. ‘No one makes me feel like you make me feel’

8) Travelling Man 12″ (B-Side of Good Thing 12″, Rough Trade 1986)

‘The’ song about ‘being on the road’. Kicking extended mix. ‘Can’t stop, won’t stop’

9) Tainted World (Kid Batchelor/Frankie Foncett Edit) (12″, Hyperactive Records 1991, credited to ‘The Woodentops vs Bang The Party’)

Bang The Party, Rolo and Ian Tregoning make an underground record. One of three white labels released in the early 1990s.

10) Stay Out Of The Light (From Granular Tales album, Cherry Red 2013)

Originally released as ‘barely-there’ minimal white label (1991), this vocal version was remade for the ‘comeback’ album (2013).

mp3 : The Woodentops – Plenty
mp3 : The Woodentops – Move Me
mp3 : The Woodentops – Good Thing
mp3 : The Woodentops – Why Why Why (remix)
mp3 : The Woodentops – Well Well Well (live)

mp3 : The Woodentops – Stop This Car
mp3 : The Woodentops – You Make Me Feel (remix)
mp3 : The Woodentops – Travelling Man (12″)
mp3 : The Woodentops – Tainted World
mp3 : The Woodentops – Stay Out Of The Light

Enjoy.

MY SMALL BUNDLE OF TEN INCHERS (2)

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The idea was well enough received and I’m at a wee bit of a loss for inspiration just now, so here’s another of the bits of vinyl in the cupboard on 10″ vinyl.

Gil Scott-Heron (1 April 1949 – 27 May 2011) started out as a novelist but from 1970 onwards became better known as a poet and musician thanks to a body of work which addressed much of what was wrong in modern society, particularly in his home country of America.  His long time collaborator was Brian Jackson, a multi-talented musician and arranger.  Scott-Heron and Jackson were unflinching in their approach, caring little for any criticism thrown at them that they were artists and musicians who had no concept of the ‘ghetto’ life they often wrote and sang about.  They didn’t care much for mainstream success and acceptance, happy enough to write music and lyrics that would attack the most conservative values of America knowing that the vast majority of radio stations and TV producers would shy away from giving them an airing.

The protest singing and poetry was well received in many parts of Europe. His songs and poems highlighted the dangers being posed by politicians who were moving ever further to the right, seeking out all sorts of enemies to fight with and all for the purpose of currying favour with an electorate stoked up by a frenzied media. It was a message that struck a chord with many.

He achieved most fame in the 80s as a vocal opponent of Ronald Reagan and the apartheid system, and the 10″ EP I have is a 1985 release to promote a Best Of compilation. Three of its songs are from the mid 70s, while the other – a superb attack on Reaganomics – was recorded in 1981.

mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – Winter In America
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – Johannesburg
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – “B” Movie

The 90s and first decade of the 21st Century were far from kind to Gil Scott Heron. There has been thirteen studio albums released between 1970 and 1984, but only more would appear before 2010 albeit some compilations and live recordings kept his name known, aided too by just about ever rapper who burst onto the scene mentioning Gil Scott-Heron as being a huge influence.  He developed serious issues with drug addiction that led to him spending time in jail.  Having been released in 2007, he dedicated himself to performing, writing and recording again, culminating in the release in 2010 of I’m New Here, an extraordinary but very short album (28 minutes spread over 15 tracks) full of intensely personal and reflective lyrics that one UK critic described as ‘Massive Attack jamming with Robert Johnson and Allen Ginsberg.’

A remix version of the album, We’re New Here was released in February 2011, featuring production by English musician Jamie xx, who reworked material from the original album to great effect. But just as many were again paying attention to Gil Scott-Heron, he died just a few months later at the age of 62. The cause of death has never been revealed, but the man himself in interviews on his release from prison had confirmed he was HIV-positive and that his health hadn’t been great.

A further album of stripped down music from the I’m New Here session was made available in limited release for Record Store Day in 2014, and the given a full release on 1 April 2015 on what would have been his 66th birthday. His life has been remembered too with the making and release of ‘Who Is Gil Scott Heron?‘, from the UK film makers Iain Forsyth and Jayne Pollard, whose previous work included the Nick Cave drama/documentary 20,000 Days on Earth.

Many of the tributes and obituaries at the time of his death used the words tortured genius. For once, they were being applied properly.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (18 & 19)

R-789761-1241507545.jpegR-537616-1294627425.jpegI don’t own any of the final two TSC singles that were released in 1989. What I have done is fish around other sites for various tracks and convert them to mp3s to wrap things up. But I can’t make the claim that they are from the 7″, 12″ or CD singles. What I can provide is factual info and a wee bit of commentary.

It was February 1989 when the 18th single was released.

It was a cover.

 

 

Not only was it a cover, but it was a cover of a house tune and The Style Council sounded like they’d never sounded before, especially on the extended mixes.

Promised Land was the work of Joe Smooth, a Chicago-based songwriter. It had been a minor hit under his name (although the vocal was delivered by Anthony Thomas, another member of the Chicago house scene) but had made such an impact on Paul Weller that he wanted to issue his own version.

mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (7″ version)

It was a hit in the clubs and of course there were still TSC fans who would buy the records, all of which helped it reach #27 in the singles chart and an appearance on Top of The Pops. The b-side and the alternative mixes are totally different from anything else that has appeared beforehand in this series:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (12″ mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (Joe Smooth’s Alternate Club Mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – Can You Still Love Me (Club Vocal)
mp3 : The Style Council – Can You Still Love Me? (12 O’Clock Dub)

And here’s the original:-

mp3 : Joe Smooth – Promised Land

Promised Land is hugely popular among many fans of the band and I can see why given just how different it is from anything else they ever did.  It also introduced them to a new and more diverse audience, those from the dance/club scene.  And there’s no denying that the tunes provide an uplifting and very happy few minutes, akin at times to New Order, especially via the 12″ version and club versions.

The following month saw the release of The Singular Adventures Of The Style Council (Volume 1) which, as these things invariably do, became a bit of a success story with a Top 3 appearance in the album charts. In order to maintain the momentum, the label re-released the best known song in a re-mixed format, together with a new b-side. Given that it was only a few years after the original (and that it’s a far inferior version), it’s no surprise that it didn’t light up the charts, stalling at #48.  What’s an ever bigger insult however to fans, is that the mix is identical to that which had been made available less than a year earlier on the 1234 EP

The b-side, was another house tune and was rumoured to be typical of the material that the band, thoroughly determined to quash those break-up rumours of late 1988, were working up for a new album.

mp3 : The Style Council – Everybody’s On The Run

In July 1989, on the back of the success of the greatest hits chart success, the band announced a one-off gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Fans snapped up tickets eager to hear all the old classics linked in with maybe a few new songs – what they got was a 21-song set, much of which was not yet released, with just one single and even that was Promised Land.  There were loads of guest vocalists used on the night which only added the confusion. The band was booed off the stage. This was the set list:-

1. Can You Still Love Me?
2. Move (Dance All Night)
3. Promised Land
4. Sure Is Sure
5. Everybody’s On The Run
6. Tender Love
7. It’s A Very Deep Sea
8. I Can’t Deny Myself
9. Fine
10. Little Boy In A Castle
11. Mick’s Blessings
12. A Woman’s Song
13. Now You’re Gone
14. Mick’s Company
15. Cost Of Loving
16. Waiting On A Connection
17. Depth Charge
18. Like A Gun
19. Changing Of The Guard
20. You’ll Find Love
21. That Spiritual Feeling

I’m still not sure if was deliberate sabotage or a total misjudgment on the part of Paul Weller. The record label felt the signals were that the fan base would not buy into the new sound and when the band presented the fruits of their labours – entitled ModernismPolydor Records rejected it.

This was a mere 12 years after In The City and it was unthinkable that things had completely broken down. Paul Weller was upset and angry…he was proved to be right in respect of house music soon becoming part of mainstream radio and moving out of the clubs. He genuinely felt he could make good house music and that it was a natural progression for him and his band and this act was the final straw. The Style Council broke up before the end of the year. The Royal Albert Hall had been the last gig.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey; as I mentioned at the start of the series, it made sense to have if follow on immediately after the The Jam singles given how short a gap there was between the end of the old band and the beginning of the new one.

Addendum…….

The comment from Neil after the previous posting in this series about how he was hoping I would be featuring a single called Like A Gun intrigued me as it wasn’t one I knew anything about.  So it was research time and this is what I found….

In February 1989, the Acid Jazz label pressed up copies of a single called Like A Gun  by an act called King Truman.  It was a 12″ single with four versions of the title track.  It soon became clear that the band were The Style Council masquerading under a different name and before too long the bigwigs at Polydor were threatening all sorts of action against the indie label.  The single was very hastily withdrawn with only a few hundred copies making it into shops.  If you want a copy nowadays, then there’s currently nine for sale on Discogs, none of which are from UK sellers, and the lowest asking price is approx £50 plus shipping.  Needless to say, I didn’t pursue things further.  But I have managed to track down an mp3:-

mp3 : King Truman – Like A Gun

And with that. I’ll sign off by saying that next up in the Singles series will not be Paul’s solo stuff. I haven’t liked anything other than Wild Wood…..

Stay tuned.

MY SMALL BUNDLE OF TEN INCHERS (1)

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I’ll begin with an apology.

Sometime towards the end of last year, one of you kind readers dropped me an e-mail in which reference was made to the rare art of the 10″ single.  I’ve misplaced the e-mail (probably deleted it in error if the truth be told) and so I’m unable to give you the credit for inspiring what will be an occasional series – but please feel free to identify yourself in the comments so that I can turn sorry into thank you.

I only have eighteen bits of vinyl that are 10″ in size, with the majority being singles/EPs. I’ll try to get them all on the blog over the course of time, but for now here’s the list:-

Adult Net – Where Were You?
Aloha Hawaii – Towns On The Moon/I’ve Been Bad For Years and Years
Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm
Arctic Monkeys – My Propeller
Arctic Monkeys – Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair
Aztec Camera – The Crying Scene
Breeders – Head To Toe
Curve – Clipped
Dave House/Jenny Owen Youngs – Split EP
Gil Scott-Heron – Winter In America
Joe Jackson – One More Time
Lemonheads – Confetti/My Drug Buddy
Madder Rose – Car Song
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Bring It On
OMD – Messages
Sultans Of Ping FC – Where’s Me Jumper
Tom Robinson – Still Loving You
The Wedding Present ‎– Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela / Українські Виступи В Івана Піла

First one to feature is this 2003 single, an edited version of a track on the mostly underwhelming LP Nocturama

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Bring It On

Bring It On features a co-vocal from Chris Bailey whose most famous song is this punky effort from 1977:-

mp3 : The Saints – (I’m) Stranded

The two b-sides are typical of the sort of ballads and slower-tempo numbers the band was mostly churning out at the time. It was a period of real transition as the sound became ever more reliant on Nick Cave‘s piano/organ playing and the violin contributions from Warren Ellis. It’s not the most fondly remembered period in the band’s long and illustrious history.

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Shoot Me Down
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Swing Low

Enjoy.

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (13)

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Disc 8 is Hitsville UK.

An unashamed tribute to Tamla Motown, from the opening few bars that rip off You Can’t Hurry Love through a bass line that Holland/Dozier/Holland and Smokey Robinson would equally be proud of, to the title which apes the Hitsville USA marketing slogan closely associated with the Detroit years of the label.

Trouble is, it’s not really very good is it?  It’s certainly not worthy of most of the other singles that had gone beforehand and in many ways represents much of what was wrong with Sandinista, the triple album that had been released at the end of 1980.  I know I’m probably in a minority, but I was never a fan of the album, albeit it does contain a reasonable number of decent songs.  It was almost as if the band wanted to put out six sides of vinyl at minimal cost as a two-fingered salute to CBS and also to demonstrate to their fan base how little the idea of making money appealed to the greatest of rock’n’roll bands.

Hitsville UK features a vocal from Ellen Foley, who was Mick’s girlfriend at the time.  It’s hard to imagine nowadays the furore this caused at the time (the vocal…..not the relationship!!) as she was best known, in the UK at least, for being the co-vocalist on one of Meat Loaf‘s epic numbers which back in 1977 has been seen as one of the defining moments as to why it was important to embrace the short and sharp sound of punk/new wave.  The thought of such an out-and-out rocker, as she was being portrayed in the press, becoming part of The Clash was a hard one to absorb.

mp3 : The Clash – Hitsville UK

The single bombed.  It’s strange as the lyric is a good one, with Mick acknowledging just how influential the indie labels in the UK were starting to become with the likes of Small Wonder, Fast, Factory and Rough Trade all getting name-checked in some shape or form as is the joy of the three-minute single (another link to the really heady days of Motown).  The logos of many of indie labels (including Postcard) are reproduced lovingly on the sleeve. But it all gets lost in a sadly anodyne production – but maybe that was the band’s plan all along.   It’s not one I go to very often.

The b-side also didn’t offer any succour for those looking for the punky sound of the band, as it was a Mikey Dread number that developed further the sound offered up on Bankrobber a few months back:-

mp3 : The Clash – Radio One

HITSVILLE UK : Released 16 January 1981 : #58 in the UK singles chart

Every film I’ve made I’ve tried in vain to get ‘Hitsville UK’ into it. This stab of post-punk and Motown would elevate any British film. It’s also the perfect blueprint of how to make a British film. For a long time it was on the end of ’28 Days Later’ but mutants, creeps and musclemen persuaded me to replace it with something else.

A couple of months later, Joe Strummer died and although I’d helped to shower him in spit and beer, I’d never met him or any of the group. Now I felt in some stupid way that I’d let him down. Finally, I got it into ‘Millions’ – and will never again delay paying dues.

Danny Boyle,  film director (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, Shallow Grave)

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (18)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 30 APRIL 2008

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Like many others of my age in 1980, I bought a whole bundle of singles by new emerging bands such as The Beat, Madness and The Specials. I didn’t go the whole hog and buy the natty suits and pork-pie hat, but I loved my ska bands.

In 1981, The Specials released Ghost Town, a song that was completely unlike any other that had ever emerged from the ska movement. It bulleted up the charts and spent a number of weeks at #1. In retrospect, it has been called the most prophetic of songs ever to be a chart-topper, and there’s all sorts of great pieces of writing all over the internet about how politically significant it all was.

But…….I’m sorry to say, and this may be seen as a piece of heresy, but my love for the song is solely related to the tune and the great vocal performances…

However, that shouldn’t be taken as meaning that I wasn’t aware of the political stooshie that Ghost Town was causing. I was growing up fast in 1981, just about to leave school and go off to University. I had a comfortable and very pleasant upbringing, but I was from an area where I had friends who should have come with me to university, but were in circumstances where they had instead to take on a job to in banking or with the civil service to help support their parents, one or both of whom were out-of-work. Poverty and deprivation weren’t alien concepts to me.

There is no other way to put it – Ghost Town is a savage attack on the state of British society at the outset of the 80s. The Tories under Margaret Thatcher had come to power in 1979 thanks in part to a famous main campaigning slogan of ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ with a poster that showed a huge crowd of people waiting to get into the unemployment office and sign-on.

Two years on, the situation was even worse – unemployment rates had almost doubled across the country. In some areas, particularly where there was a high concentration of young ethnic minorities, as many as 8 out of 10 folk weren’t in employment.

Throw in the rise of the fascist far-right in the shape of the National Front who were blaming non-whites for the state of the nation and a police force that was being given more and more stop-and-search powers by a government determined to appear as the party of law-and-order, then the ingredients were there for something to kick-off.

The people were getting angry.

So angry in fact that in April 1981, something happened that was totally alien in the UK. There was a riot in the streets.

It happened in Brixton in London, and it began as the reaction of a crowd to what they saw was the racist arrest of a local youth (something that was subsequently proven to be true).

The trouble escalated over a 48-hour period before being brought under control. For the first time that I could recall, pictures of police and civilians fighting toe-to-toe in the streets were shown on television, along with images of what seemed to be a whole neighbourhood on fire. And it really did look as if there was going to be some sort of major uprising, but within two or three days, the police had regained order.

Two months later, Ghost Town was released as a single.

But the song wasn’t just a reaction to what had happened in Brixton – in fact it had been written and recorded before the April riot. But to some it seemed to act as a rallying call, for within weeks of its release, as it climbed its way up the charts, there were more riots on the streets.

This time it was Toxteth in Liverpool that was initially in the spotlight. Again, it was initially a reaction to tensions between the police and disaffected black youths, and similar scenes of carnage were beamed live into our homes courtesy of the TV (and all this in the days before we had 24-hour news channels). Toxteth was on a larger scale than Brixton and before long, other riots broke out, the largest being in Handsworth in Birmingham, as well as in many other towns and cities across England.

My recollection is that it took about a week to get things back to normal.

Living in Scotland, I had a feeling of being sheltered from all of this trouble. It may have been Liverpool, Birmingham, London and so on, but it felt as if it was as far away as Detroit, Chicago or Los Angeles.

There was no rioting in Glasgow. Nor was there ever any threat of rioting in Glasgow, despite the unemployment problems being every bit as bad here as anywhere else. What I believe was crucially absent at the time, was a disaffected ethnic minority in my home city that was prepared to take to the streets in protest. I’m not going to make any absurd claim about racism not being an issue in Glasgow in 1981, but it certainly was nowhere near as big a problem as it was in the inner-cities south of the border. Oh and its fair to say, that policing methods were slightly different as well…

The fact I was physically separated from the trouble and violence is why I never, at the time, made the connection between Ghost Town and what was happening in many parts of the country. It was only in the cold light of day a short while later, when the music papers in particular made the connection that the little light bulb went on above my head.

To lots of people, this song will always be associated with events that briefly threatened the very fabric of British society. To this humble scribe, it’s just a great song.

Here’s the 12″ cuts with the second of the the two b-sides featuring probably my favourite ever Terry Hall vocal. Having said that, the other b-side is up there with the very best of The Specials.  It really is a maginificent three-track single.

mp3 : The Specials – Ghost Town
mp3 : The Specials – Why?
mp3 : The Specials – Friday Night, Saturday Morning

Enjoy.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #69 : BILLY JOEL

JC writes

One of the entrants to the recent Chemikal Underground competition got in touch again a few days afterwards with an observation that the ICAs were incredibly varied and demonstrated an incredible range of tastes on my part.  I was of course, able to explain that many of the ICAs were completely the work of others with a number of them comprising bands who I’d just about no knowledge of beforehand such as the likes of Tilly & The Wall, Detroit Cobras, A.R. Kane, SBTRKT and Stars.

He was also astonished that I was prepared to publish any submitted ICA and I didn’t censor anything on the grounds of me personally not liking the music.  As I said in my response, I regard this little corner of the internet as being a collective effort.  I might do a bit of the heavy lifting and shifting, but without guest contributions, comments and indeed those who drop in regularly to read for the sheer hell of it, then it would be a waste of time.  His next e-mail contained an ICA of his own…..composed in two parts – one by himself and one by a former school mate who now lives in the States.  They wish to be known as These Charming Men.

Even if, like me, you don’t particularly like the music (and you might, in the usual T(n)VV way, wish to debate some of the conclusions), you can’t deny their passion for the man and his songs.

TELL HER (AND HIM) ABOUT IT – A BILLY JOEL ICA FOR THE VINYL VILLAIN

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SIDE A

Piano Man (from Piano Man)

I have to start the compilation at the beginning. That might seem an obvious thing to say but this was the first song I ever really remember loving by Billy Joel.

It was about 40 years ago, I was still at school and I’d just started going out with Sally McAllister. I can use her real name for reasons that will become evident. I used to dream about her and one day those dreams came true. (Well, not entirely true, as my dreams were more “imaginative” than the reality.) Evening after evening we’d do nothing but sit on her bed and listen to side one of the Piano Man album, while I gazed longingly at her long brown hair and other attributes. We didn’t speak that much but, when we did, it was all about “BJ” as we fondly came to know him. It was our shared code for our time together, albeit frustratingly all that meant was 3-4 plays of side one of the album each evening. I never found out why she only played side one. I was so lovestruck that I don’t think I asked. I just gawped at her as we sang along. This being a particular favourite.

You’ll have guessed that there wasn’t a happy ending to this story. She dumped me for a Hells Angel that she met at her Auntie Avril’s wedding. I never enjoyed Piano Man with her again after that but my love for the song remains true.

For the purposes of this compilation, and because I know from reading other Vinyl Villain contributions that you like to know, I tracked Sally down through a mutual friend on Facebook that I hadn’t spoken to for 25 years. I was somewhat surprised to find that, like my fellow Charmer who contributes side two of this compilation, she had moved to the States and swapped gender.*

I was delighted to hear that he clearly hadn’t lost his love for BJ though as he’s now apparently going by the first names of Billy Joel and, though married, he’s still a McAllister. If you’re stalker level interested, then I hear also that he’s an engineer working on bridges in Mississippi. I hope if he reads this he’ll spare a thought for the times he played me this song (and the rest of side one). Again. And again.

I should also mention that, after Sally ditched me, I started going out with Arlene. Fairly early in our relationship she took me back to her bedroom. As she wandered across to a messy stack of vinyl, she asked if I “fancied a BJ”. Surprised, given she’d always struck me as being a bit more punky, and privately praying it wouldn’t be side one of Piano Man, I said “Why not”. Surprised doesn’t cover it when she put on (what I later found out to be) The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys, walked back, whipped down my tracksuit trousers and…

Captain Jack (from Piano Man)

On most compilations I reckon this would come near the end, as it does on the original album. For me though it follows naturally on from Piano Man.

If you’re wondering when, finally, I got to hear side two, there’s a tale there too. Hanging out with a few friends at Euan’s, he put side one on. I begged him to change it for side two. Delighted that he’d found a fellow fan, he flipped it over. This track really stood out on first listen.

You can probably see a pattern emerging here, but it became a habit when we were all round at Euan’s to listen to side 2 of this album while shooting the breeze together. One day we got into a conversation about the lyrics of this song and shot something else. It started as a naïve debate about what “Captain Jack” actually was, that led initially to boasting around who could masturbate the quickest without any pornographic material, to an actual race. As it were. What we would all have said had his mother popped into the living room in that minute and a half I don’t know. I wasn’t the winner, but second in a field of five seemed a good performance to me at the time.

You can probably now see from the first two songs why, ever since my youth, I’ve always associated Billy Joel with wank.

The Entertainer (from Streetlife Serenade)

As that youth, I had become hooked on Billy now. And this sits perfectly for me as the next track on the compilation.

This truly is the perfect evocation of life as a rock star. The song itself builds to a climactic conclusion which Billy ends by practically spitting out his lyrical frustration at the difficult life he now finds himself enduring. It even has a slightly comical false ending, just to raise the spirits after the trials and tribulations that have just been shared.

For those not aware of the considerable breadth of Billy’s work and perhaps more used to his more charty stuff of the 1980s and 90s, I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this number. Believe it or not, it also refers cleverly back to Piano Man and how it was edited in length for radio play down to around 3 minutes. For those that have been listening to this compilation, you’ll realise just how criminal that action was.

Returning to my younger life, I’d earned some money as one of Santa’s little helpers in a local shop (I spent most of the time on my knees), and so I bought up Billy’s back catalogue and was realising how much more there was to him than I’d previously known. Until that point I’d been a bit mainstream in my musical choice – though it didn’t feel that way to me at the time. It was only later in my life when I heard The Smiths that it opened my eyes and ears to the sort of music that I enjoy here on Vinyl Villain. Even now though, I’m still more Josh Rouse than Josh Wink.

I’ve got a theory that I share with my boys. That is that every real great in music has a five letter first name. Think about it – Billys Joel, Bragg and Mackenzie; Elvis; Elton; Edwyn Collins; Adele; Bruce Springsteen; Keith Richards; Bobbys Dylan and Gillespie; James Brown; Kanye; Kylie; Bryan Ferry; Jonny Rotten; Queen; Suede; Cilla even. Look down the side of the Vinyl Villain front page and the roster of bands covered and how many of them are five letters. Even the Smiths I’d argue were only pluralised because the name wouldn’t have made sense as a singular word. The root is a five letter word. See also the Beatles. My sons laugh at me and point to all the stuff in the charts and the dance stuff they like with bizarre names. I point them back to sites like this and Q magazine and proper music. They retort with Peter Andre and Duran Duran. I say that’s the curse of the double five – there are no good artists with five letters in both names.

There is however one exception to my rule and that’s my namesake, Rod. Not the Rod of recent musical times, but the guy beloved of John Peel who led the Faces. I’ll happily admit that his music from that time is even better than Billy, but that’s for another day.

New York State of Mind (from Turnstiles)

I had to include this for many reasons.

First, it is just a brilliant song that slots in so well here.

Second, it comes from the last album that Billy released before he went global. As an album it flopped but this song remains a true fan’s favourite, and a live singalong. (I’ve lost count of the numbers of times I’ve ‘duetted’ with Billy on this.) This is how I remember him before he became famous and that always brings a lump to my throat, or is it a bit of sick – I never know the phrase.

Third, the Muppets did versions of it (not only Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, but also Rowlf the Dog) and you don’t get much better than that. For those that aren’t old enough, this was the equivalent of appearing on The Simpsons in the 1970/80s.

Fourth, it was the ‘inspiration’ (as they like to call it) for Jay-Z and Alicia Keys smash-hit song Empire State of Mind. While comparing the two, you can see the obvious similarities, I’d say blatant stealing, but this remains better, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Too little is made of the inspiration that Billy has had on many other artists both directly and indirectly. I think you’d find few who, thinking about it rationally, would argue about his influence over the likes of Tom Waits, Ben Folds and the piano ballads of Nick Cave. Lyrically, the likes of Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and the Blow Monkeys’ Dr Robert have borrowed liberally from his intensely political storytelling style.

He has duetted with the best singers in the world, including with Barbra Streisand on a version of this. Not one of my favourite versions I’ll grant you. He has been covered by many, many artists and sampled by countless hip hop DJs looking for essential beats or piano lines.

It’s sometimes too easily forgotten just how big a musical player he is. Maybe not in the largely independent world that most people who read Vinyl Villain live in (and I include myself in there now) but in the proper music premier league.

Only the Good Die Young (from My Lives)

It’s always good to end a side with a bit of controversy, and this is Billy’s Relax moment. Just to show the diversity of his talent and because it slows things down, ready for the more commercial stuff on side 2, I’ve included the version with a reggae feel, found on his My Lives compilation.

Ironically this also takes me full circle to Sally McAllister as in some ways it’s a similar tale. Apparently, Billy was frustrated by a Catholic girl at his school whom he believed was refusing him because of her religion and her belief that pre-marital sex was sinful. He translated the experience into this beautiful song, perhaps using reggae as a subtle acknowledgement of its potentially sexist nature to some saddos. Religious groups and some radio stations weren’t happy. Billy countered that the song was actually a true story, pro-lust and the girl remained unsullied at the end, so there should be no ban. Whether, like me, the real focus of his attention ever ran off with a Hells Angel remains undocumented.

With that I’ll hand you on to my partner in charm, who I must stress has clean hands as he was not involved in the earlier mentioned Captain Jack action.

* Note: my fellow Charmer hasn’t swapped genders, not last I looked anyway – he’s just gone West too.

SIDE B

Uptown Girl (from An Innocent Man)

Research has shown that repeated exposure to this #1 hit will result in all listeners catching a uncurable dose of STD* (but in a different way to my partner in crime from his habits and behaviours as detailed on Side A!!!!!).

I so wanted to be Billy Joel in the early 80s. He bounced around from one relationship to the next, but it was always with someone so famous and glamorous that the owners of Hello magazine must have seriously contemplated giving him an entire edition of his own. Most of us when we set eyes on a stunner find it difficult to articulate our thoughts and feelings for them, but such is Billy’s incredible talent that he conceived of not just an entire song but an accompanying video with which to sweep Christine Brinkley off her feet. A move that would be copied in reverse just a few years later by Posh Spice when she made her move on David Beckham (have a listen to ‘2 Become 1’ and you’ll see EXACTLY what I mean).

*Sexiness Through Dancing

We Didn’t Start The Fire (from Storm Front)

I’ll put it as simply as I can – We Didn’t Start The Fire cemented Billy’s place as the greatest lyricist of the 20th Century.

I’ve read that there are people out there who claim this just a rip-off of “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” but they have no idea what they are talking about. Anyone who is studying modern history need only memorise the lyrics to Billy’s song and they are guaranteed to be an A-grade student when it comes to exam time. The R.E.M. song was all about obscure non-entities like Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs; Billy name-checks all the greats including the likes of Doris Day and Liberace, not forgetting too that he also gave a nod to the legendary Johnnie Ray, something that nobody else has managed in song.

Just The Way You Are (from The Stranger)

My partner in crime has shown just how sexy and sexually active you can become as a result of becoming acquainted with the songs of Billy Joel. I’m not like him and I tend to shy away from the personal stories as I am modest and easily embarrassed. But Just The Way You Are will always be special to me as this was the song that was playing when I lost my virginity. It was a momentous time for me and my girlfriend (but I can’t name her as I promised I’d never tell anyone about it – but we did meet at a fish processing factory where we had been taken on through the YTS – click here if you don’t know what that is).  We also always kept our love secret as we didn’t want the older workers to make fun of us.

A few weeks later we got together again but to our horror (hers more than mine), realised that we couldn’t get ‘in the mood’ without our song playing in the background.   I went out to the local Woolworth’s the next day and ordered in a copy of the single which arrived two weeks later, after which things were fine.  We were soon enjoying ‘real intimacy’ in the comfort of my bedroom every Thursday night when my mum went down to the bingo. Things were great at first as I would always ‘finish’  well before Billy reached the second verse, but as we got better and more experienced, we found ourselves able to keep things going right to the part where it fades out at just under three and a half minutes.

But then one day, disaster struck. The song ended and I was nowhere near ready to satisfy Geraldine. She was furious and slapped me so hard that it left an imprint on my cheek for days. Worse than that, she told me it was over between us.  I stayed off work for a few days until the swelling went down but was shocked to hear that she had quit her job and was rumoured to have headed off to Ibiza with a broken heart.

But don’t fret on my behalf as this story has a happy ending.

It hit me (almost as hard as her slap) that if I lifted up the arm of my Dansette, I could make the needle fall automatically back into the groove of any record at the very beginning and it would then play over and over again….and again…and again…until someone physically went across to the record player to switch it off, or just put the arm down to its normal position.

Six weeks later, I spotted my girlfriend (I never ever at any time had thought of her as my ex) on the High Street looking really bronzed…but she’d lost a lot of weight as if she hadn’t been eating.  I went across to say hello and right away she gave me a huge hug and told me she was really happy to see me…said something like she was ecstatic but I couldn’t quite make it out as she had a different accent as if she was from somewhere near Manchester.  I told her about the Dansette solution I’d come up with. She smiled and said that as it was a Thursday, why don’t we give it a spin that very night….

We did, and while the Dansette solution wasn’t needed for a few more weeks, it was the thing that brought us so closely together.  It was now true love…with a whole new energy and purpose in our lives. And to show her love for me, I got the 12 inch version for my Christmas which I still play with to this day.

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) (from The Stranger)

OK, the last song had a happy ending, but only for a time.

She actually moved in with me the next Easter for two weeks when my mum went away with her pals for a seaside holiday.  We had a great time and talked about getting a place of our own from the council but then the night before my mum came home, my ex (and yes, I could tell this time that was how I had to now refer to her) left me.  I came back from the Chinese take away to find a note saying I wasn’t adventurous or ambitious enough (can you believe that?).

I turned to Billy to see me through the tough days, and took great comfort from this classic given that he shows, once and for all, that the grass on the other side is very rarely a better shade of green.

A few months ago (and remember that our clandestine rendezvous had always been a bit of a secret) I casually dropped her name into a conversation with my fellow charming man while he got away for a night out away from his kids.  We went back to shoot some pool down the pub where the goths hang out – well they did years ago but not now.  We were the only two in that night.

He told me that he’d recently after all these years made contact with Sally McAllister (although he mentioned that she’s changed her name to Billy Joel McAllister – how mad and crazy is that???) and that Sally and my ex were in contact. Not only in contact, but Sally had made an introduction to someone and to cut a long story short my ex is now a key member of Team Trump and has the job of staging the rallies. She was even on television the other day being interviewed outside a thrift shop in Hicksville, Mississippi talking about him and how he was the very man to save the country. (I have the clip on my hard drive and watch it least ten times a day).

And now I listen to Movin’ Out in a totally different light. It’s no longer my breaking-up song but my call to arms.

I’ve recently moved to Mississipi in the hope of finding my ex, or at least bumping into Sally – I did see someone who looked like her the other day but unless she has a twin brother that none of us know about then it was just an uncanny resemblance.  I’ve now decided the best way to get back in touch with my ex is through Donald Trump and so I’m going to e-mail his team and volunteer to help out.

And d’you know one other thing?  Movin’ Out now has another new meaning for me.  I’ve changed my name to make a new life here in the States – I’ve taken the first name of Anthony after this great song and the surname of Soprano as it’s my favourite type of singer.   It’s also a name that I think is totally original and will get me noticed by the Trump team….and my ex won’t even realise that it’s really me and that I’m coming to get her.

It’s Still Rock’n’Roll To Me (from Glass Houses)

I’ve so much to say here but I so want to e-mail Donald.

Very quickly……..essential listening for All The Young Dudes who think they are the first artist to be tortured by the evil music industry. Fads may come and go while musical influences will, in the inevitable cycle of things, drift in and out of fashion. But for those of us with music firmly in our hearts, we will always have Billy Joel.

JC adds…..

For those of you who are perhaps still pondering why, let me leave the last word to a dear friend of the blog who is himself a professional musician being the keyboard wizard within indie darlings The Just Joans. Here’s what Doog has to say…..

‘I had heard and known many Billy Joel songs throughout the 80s – I’d always loved tunes such as ‘The River of Dreams’, ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ – but I hadn’t really got into the detail of his work until 1993. This was a period that coincided with the death of grunge and Britpop was coming over the horizon. I had more or less stopped playing keyboards to focus on guitars, but while I could do all the right faces for the six string I just couldn’t quite nail the playing side.

I still had the dream of making it in the biz and it was once again hearing the chilled out gospel strains of BJ that saw me drawing a line in the sand and going back to the stool and behind the keys to develop the 3 chord straight blues and on the beat those C, F, Am, G sequences that more than two decades later still put a chill down my spine.

Indeed Billy is THE piano man and the first post-rock musician who was a precursor to the ambient and whacked-out come-downs of Spiritualized and 90’s Primal Scream, pushing the limits of what can be achieved in top notch studios with the best musicians and producers the USA has to offer. His piano playing is an inspiration to me and the people who taught me.  I only wish I could one day perform a duet with the great man or have him guest with the Just Joans; BJ and the JJ’s….a dream come true.’

mp3 : Billy Joel – Piano Man
mp3 : Billy Joel – Captain Jack
mp3 : Billy Joel – The Entertainer
mp3 : Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind
mp3 : Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young

mp3 : Billy Joel – Uptown Girl
mp3 : Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
mp3 : Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are
mp3 : Billy Joel – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
mp3 : Billy Joel – It’s Still Rock’n’Roll To Me

Enjoy.