SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen)

I’m placing these two songs together in one posting as  I reckon they are very close cousins. Both tell the story of being out on the town and the immediate consequences thereafter.

mp3 : The Specials – Friday Night, Saturday Morning

In which Terry Hall wonderfully narrates the tale of someone who has gone out and had a predictably awful and all too common end to his night.

Out of bed at eight am
Out my head by half past ten
Out with mates and dates and friends
That’s what I do at weekends

I can’t talk and I can’t walk
But I know where I’m going to go
I’m going watch my money go
At the Locarno, no

When my feet go through the door
I know what my right arm is for
Buy a drink and pull a chair
Up to the edge of the dance floor

Bouncers bouncing through the night
Trying to stop or start a fight
I sit and watch the flashing lights
Moving legs in footless tights

I go out on Friday night
and I come home on Saturday morning

I like to venture into town
I like to get a few drinks down
The floor gets packed the bar gets full
I don’t like life when things get dull

The hen party have saved the night
And freed themselves from drunken stags
Having fun and dancing in
A circle round their leather bags

But two o’clock has come again
It’s time to leave this paradise
Hope the chip shop isn’t closed
Cos’ their pies are really nice

I’ll eat in the taxi queue
Standing in someone else’s spew
Wish I had lipstick on my shirt
Instead of piss stains on my shoes

I go out on Friday night
and I come home on Saturday morning

Back in 1981, most towns and cities in the UK had a limited choice for young people looking for a decent night out. The pubs, for the most part, catered for all ages and you stood a good chance of bumping into older folk who were on more than nodding terms with one or more of your family. The choice of booze was limited depending on the brewery to which the landlord or ale-house was attached. Males would be in the bar area and females would be in the lounge….the idea of both sexes mingling in a pub was fairly alien. Which is one of the reasons almost everyone aged 16-25 went to the equivalent of Terry’s Locarno as that was the only place you could engage with someone of the opposite sex; such places were referred to most often as cattle markets.

Oh, and you could just completely forget the any sort of above ground nightlife for anyone who wasn’t hetero….

Fast forward 35 years

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured

In which Alex Turner wonderfully narrates the tale of a group of lads who have gone out and had a predictably frantic and manic end to their night.

We’ll ask if we can have six in
If not we’ll have to have two
Well, you’re coming up our end, aren’t you?
So I’ll get one with you

Won’t he let us have six in?
Especially not with the food
He could have just told us no though
He didn’t have to be rude

You see her with the green dress?
She talked to me at the bar
Wait, how come it’s already two pound fifty?
We’ve only gone about a yard

Didn’t you see she were gorgeous
She were beyond belief
But this lad at her side drinking his Smirnoff Ice
Came and paid for her Tropical Reef

And I’m sitting going backwards
And I didn’t want to leave
I said, “It’s High Green, mate
Via Hillsborough, please”

Well, how funny were that sketch earlier
Up near that taxi rank?
Oh no, you would have missed it
Think it were when you went to the bank

These two lads squaring up proper shouting
‘Bout who were next in the queue
The kind of thing that’d seem so silly
But not when they’ve both had a few

Well calm down, temper, temper
You shouldn’t get so annoyed
Well, you’re acting like a silly little boy
And they wanted to be men
And do some fighting in the street
They said “no surrender
No chance of retreat”

And so why are they in the taxi?
‘Cause I didn’t want to leave
I said, “It’s High Green, mate
Via Hillsborough, please”

Drunken plots hatched to jump it
Ask around, “Are you sure?”
Went for it but the red light was showing
And red light indicates doors are secured

Things had changed greatly by the time the 21st Century beckoned. Towns and cities, for the most part, have pubs which cater specifically for young folk. The choice of drink is beyond the dreams and imaginations of those of us who did our growing up with The Specials, as indeed is the way it is now consumed. There’s still some element of groups of guys hanging around together but nowadays you’re just as likely to see as many groups of gals….who are more than capable of displaying every behavioural characteristic of the male species. There’s still the equivalent of The Locarno but there’s also loads of other clubs catering for all tastes…..and whisper it, there’s even tolerance (now and again) for people of the same sex to be walking the streets holding each other’s hands.

One other thing to note which is also reflective of how things have changed since the early 80s. Terry’s resigned sounding tune has the pace and temp which points to the night, to all intent and purposes, being over and done with now once you join a queue for the taxi home. Alex’s frantic and speedy number lets you know that the night is still young and there is still so much to enjoy and experience……

Oh and for the benefit of our overseas readers, here’s my translation of the Arctic Monkeys lyric:-

Why wouldn’t that cab driver take all six passengers? It means we’ll have to get two taxis now to the Sheffield suburbs but mind and eat all of your kebab or fish’n’chips beforehand as the drivers don’t let you in if you’ve got food.

“Wasn’t that the most brilliant night? Was nearly perfect for me what with that stunner in the green dress chatting me up for ages. I was bitterly disappointed when that rich bloke came up and bought her a drink – I can’t afford to splash out on these bottles that the girls go for….money is tight. Talking of which, how come the taxi meter is showing it’s already £2.50 when we’ve hardly left the rank. Hang on a minute till I remind the cabbie that we’re going to mine at High Green but dropping you off at Hillsborough”

“Did you see the fight between those two daft lads? No, you wouldn’t have as you were up at the cash machine getting some more money. To be honest, it wasn’t really a fight more a shouting match but it could have escalated given they were both really drunk.

“Here mate, I’m not sure I really want to go home – it still feels as if there’s fun to be had down here in the town. Let’sopen the doors and jump out when he next comes to a halt at the traffic lights and we can run off without paying.

What do you mean it’s a taxi with doors that automatically locks when it’s sitting still? Is that what that red light down there means? Effin hell……..”


30, 20, 10 (Part 4)

The latest installment in the monthly series looking back at the songs which were #1 in the indie charts on the first day of the month 30, 20 and 10 years ago.

We begin with a genuine classic.

1 August 1987 : mp3 : New Order – True Faith

FAC 183. Recorded, along with its equally wonderful b-side 1963 as two new songs for inclusion on the Substance compilation album, it reached #4 in the proper singles chart.  It was helped along by an innovative and groundbreaking video from the mind of French choreographer, dancer and mime artist Philippe Decouflé.

1 August 1997 : mp3 : Oasis – D’ You Know What I Mean

Last time round in this series, Blur were holding down the #1 spot with the rather excellent On Your Own.  One month later and you get further proof that while their archrivals may have won the original Britpop battle in 1995, the Essex boys were a much more coherent and innovative lot than the Mancs whose lumpen and dreary guitar-rock was alienating many original fans, albeit attracting almost as many others along for the football-terrace type gigs they now specialised in. This near 8-minute opus is fairly unbearable.

1 August 2007 : mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Fluroescent Adolescent

Completing the hat-trick of well-known indie bands holding down the top spot at the height of summer.  This was one of those songs that convinced me Alex Turner was a very worthy addition to the list of witty and clever English pop-songwriters that includes the likes of Ray Davies, Billy Bragg and Andy Partridge.  This ditty, co-written with his then girlfriend Johanna Bennett, tells the tale of an unfulfilled middle-aged woman who is looking back with some sadness of how her life has turned out.  Alex Turner had barely turned 21 years of age at the time.


30, 20, 10 (Part 1)

Something new that I’m going to try to do on the 1st day of each month (or as close to the 1st if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday). And that’s bring the songs that were #1 in the UK Indie Charts 30, 20 and 10 years ago to the day. Unless they are pish and only qualified for the Indie charts thanks to a distribution quirk. So here we go with 1 May 1987, 1997 and 2007 respectively.

mp3 : The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow (Rough Trade)
R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly (Jive Records)
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm (Domino Records)

I’m actually quite pleased about it being these three. The Smiths and Arctic Monkeys are two of the biggest and best known bands who can be thought of as classic indie – i.e. guitar based bands on small, independently owned labels. R Kelly on the other hand shows up how ludicrous the chart was for a good number of years.

Inclusion on the indie chart was always about distribution. Initially, the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and the genre of music was irrelevant. The major labels however got round this by setting up subsidiary labels and outsourcing the shipping of those singles to smaller distribution services. Thus a single that was part of the soundtrack to a Hollywood film and which had enough clout to pick up 3 Grammy Awards thanks to it being on Atlantic Records in the USA, was eligible to take the #1 slot in a chart that it really shouldn’t have been any part of.

It took until June 2009 to close this loophole when the industry altered the rules so that in addition to distribution criteria a single was only eligible for the Indie Chart is it was on a label that was at least fifty per cent owned by an entity that was not one of the main four record companies.

I’m sure this intended regular feature will throw up some howlers as time moves on, particularly in the 90s and 00s.

Oh and I meant to add that I was astounded that the Arctic Monkeys had a #1 on the chart as long as ten years ago from what was their second LP. I never thought they had been around that long. It’s a belter of a single too.

And as I just happen to own some vinyl, here’s the b-sides from the 12″ release in 1987 and the 10″ release in 2007:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Is It Really So Strange?
mp3 : The Smiths – Sweet and Tender Hooligan
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – If You Found This It’s Probably Too Late
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Temptation Greets Like A Naughty Friend
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – What If You Were Right The First Time?

Temptation features a cameo vocal contribution from the wonderful Dizzee Rascal.





Every now and again, a band does come along and deliver on the hype.

An old fogey like myself took a while to latch on to Arctic Monkeys in as much as I waited until they actually released a record that was widely available in the shops. By then, they had thousands of fans who had downloaded demos from the Internet and started up all sorts of sites, forums and discussion groups.

At this point in time, and it was only back in 2005, my use of a PC outside of work was mainly was restricted to sending e-mails to friends, typing up golf newsletters and football fanzine articles. Music directly onto your computer? Away with ye laddie and dinnae be so stupid.

It was also a time when I was watching a lot of MTV2 thanks to my recent purchase of a satellite TV package. The advertisers love the 15-24 ‘consumers’, and so the videos in between the ads were aimed largely at them. That’s when I first saw Arctic Monkeys and I was both amused and impressed by the song and promo for I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor.

Around the same time, I was able to buy tickets for a Maximo Park NME tour in early 2006 – one that would see them headlining above other bands yet to be announced. I could have made a packet on my tickets when it was announced that one of the support acts would be Arctic Monkeys….

By the time the tour came to town, Maximo Park had enjoyed a fair bit of success, but it paled into insignificance next to a band whose first two singles charted at #1 and whose LP was the fastest selling debut of all time. I could have made a fair bit of money on e-bay for that gig.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one delighted by the fact that Arctic Monkeys didn’t rest on their laurels, nor did Domino Records seek to cash in with single-after-single-after single from a debut LP that was potentially full of them. New singles and EPs came out at regular intervals in 2006, all of which maintained the high standards of the earlier recordings (including Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? with its prediction of a critical backlash at some point in the future proving that singer Alex Turner, as well as having a sense of humour, also knows his history), followed by a second LP in 2007 which was every bit, if not better than the debut.

By now the hysteria had worn off in as much that the songs didn’t automatically hit #1, but live they continue to be a huge draw, with 2007 being dominated by outdoor events in front of crowds of up to 50,000. All this and they are only half my age…

Again, there’s a number of songs that could have been selected, but in the end, I’ve gone for something which lyrically is as good as anything ever penned by any living Englishman..

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – When The Sun Goes Down
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Stickin’ To The Floor
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – 7
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Settle For A Draw

A fantastic short film, Scummy Man, was made to accompany this song, with an edited version put together to form a promo video. Both can be found in the usual places on t’internet.




S-WC gave Arctic Monkeys a thumbs-up in his posting yesterday.  I thought I’d follow it up today with a few words of my own.

I was very fortunate in getting to catch them live on a couple of occasions just as they were breaking through thanks to their inclusion on one of those tours that NME help put together.  They were third on a bill that was headlined by Maximo Park….a few months later they returned to the same venue – the Academy in Glasgow – as bona fide headliners.  They were a joy to watch and listen to.

The debut LP is now seven years old.  I gave it a listen again all the way through the other day and found that it is has aged superbly and must be considered not just one of the finest debut LPs of that decade but up there as one of the very best LPs of the past 25 years or so.

I remember also being hugely impressed at the band’s attitude to fame and fortune.  They were all too aware that the British press had a great habit of making you their darlings  and then in the blink of an eye moving on to the next big thing and writing things that turn last week’s darlings into this week’s laughing-stock. Which is why I thought it was a stroke of genius that the first of the new material post-debut LP was released with the title of Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?

We all want some one to shout for
Yeah, everyone wants somebody to adore
But your heroes aren’t what they seem
When you’ve been, where we’ve been

Have I done something to trigger
The funny looks and the sniggers?
Are they there at all
Or is it just paranoia

Cos everybody’s got their box
And doing what they’re told
You push my faith near being lost
But we’ll stick to the guns
Dont care if it’s marketing suicide
We wont crack or compromise
Your derisory divides
Will never unhinge us

Theres a couple of hundred
Think they’re Christopher Columbus
But the settlers had already settled
Here long before you

Just cos were having a say so
And not lining up to be play doh
In five years time will it be
Who the fucks Arctic Monkeys?

‘Cause everybody’s got their box
And doing what they’re told
You push my faith near being lost
But we’ll stick to the guns
Dont care if it’s marketing suicide
We wont crack or compromise
Your derisory divides
Will never unhinge us

All the thoughts that I just said
Linger round and multiply in the head
Not that bad to start with
I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed

It’s not you it’s them that are wrong
Tell ’em to take out their tongues
Tell ’em to take out their tongues

It’s not you it’s them that are wrong
Tell ’em to take out their tongues
Tell ’em to take out their tongues
And bring on the backlash

It’s not you it’s them that are wrong
Tell him to take out his tongue
Tell him to take out his tongue

It’s not you it’s them that’s the fake
I won’t mess with your escape
Is this really your escape?

Alex Turner was just 20 years of age when he wrote that lyric.  An old head on young shoulders.

And it’s great to realise that five years on his band are still as popular as ever. Here’s all five tracks on that 2006 EP:-

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – The View From The Afternoon

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Cigarette Smoker Fiona

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Despair In The Departure Lounge

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – No Buses

mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?