I’m less than 18 months away from turning 55 and so it’s fast approaching the tenth anniversary of the 45 45s at 45 series. It was a series featuring favourite singles around which, sort of, I provided much of the story of my life through anecdotes. The singles however, could only qualify if they, or the parent album they had been lifted from, had been purchased at the time of release and as such, a great many wonderful records missed out.

I’m already thinking of a 55 45s at 55 series in which I’ll feature songs that I either discovered late or didn’t buy immediately at the time of release for one reason or another. It’s just a concept kicking around in my head at the moment and it’ll probably take some chill out time on a Caribbean beach between now and June 2018 to come to full fruition.

But I can guarantee that this will feature in any rundown:-

mp3 : Prince – Sign “O” The Times

It is now exactly 30 years since this single was released with the album of the same name following a month later. This coincided with the period when I wasn’t paying as much attention to pop music as I had in previous years. My consumption was mainly through radio and TV and so I’d have heard this and caught the video a fair bit, not only for the fact that it reached #10 in the singles charts but as it proved to be one of those songs that was retained on playlists for many months afterwards on account of most folk declaring it instantly as a classic.

Nowadays it is a simple task to read about the background to the song and the recording process that was undertaken. Wiki can again be your friend. It was a bit of a surprise to learn that everything you hear, other than some backing vocals, was provided by Prince.

It’s a song that sounded unlike anything else he’d done up to that point with more reliance on a synthesiser and catchy electronic drum pattern (I was tempted to describe it as infectious but that would be poor taste given that AIDS is one of the issues addressed in the lyric). And what a lyric it was…a sermon that called for action without resorting to bellowing or shouting from the roof tops. It was like a brilliantly argued column in a newspaper put to music.

I picked up a 7” vinyl copy of the single a short while back. I’m not an avid collector of vinyl, albeit I’ve a substantial amount sitting in Villain Towers, but I really felt that it would never be complete without this, albeit the track was readily available through a Greatest Hits CD that I bought a long time ago.

The b-side is a bit of fun. It’s not one that can be described as a masterpiece but it stands up to repeated listens:-

mp3 : Prince – La, La, La, He He, Hee

Seemingly composed as a rejoinder to Sheena Easton, but it takes a special kind of genius deviant to do so by way of a lyric that refers to a dog’s affair with a cat…..



a guest contribution from Derek Howie

I enoyed reading Jacques the Kipper’s recent tribute on Prince. He was my second biggest hero in music after Bowie and, like Jacques, it actually hit me harder than Bowie. Bowie bowed out with the masterpiece that is Blackstar, and it just seemed like the perfect end to a legendary career. Prince however had still so much to give. He had brought out 4 albums in just over 18 months and there was talk of more to come.

As he predicted, I do disagree with Jacques in that there is a lot of great stuff in the Vault. Some has leaked out over the years and there is a lot of fantastic songs there. Hopefully more will be released in a proper manner in the future and we will have more to enjoy.

As my tribute to one of the greatest live artists ever, I thought an Imaginary Live Compilation Album of Prince would show off the wee man’s versatility and brilliance throughout his career. A lot of his music sounded even better live.

I saw Prince play at the Hydro a couple of years ago and I still get a buzz from thinking back at how good it was. Hopefully this will give a flavour of what his concerts were like and you may find some songs that you will enjoy even if you aren’t his biggest fan. Enjoy.


1. Forever In My Life

Forever In My Life is from Prince’s arguably best album Sign O’ The Times. This version is from one of Prince’s legendary aftershows where, after a full concert, he would go to a more intimate club and funk out for another few hours for the lucky few who were able to get in, playing a lot less commercial stuff, and basically playing for himself.

This is taken from an aftershow At Paard Von Troje, Den Haag, Holland on 18th August 1988 and gives a good idea of the type of music he played at these gigs.

2. Days of Wild

This is the only recoding in this compilation that is actually on an otherwise studio album.

In late 1996 it was announced that a new album would be available by phone pre-order. I phoned up and ordered it from the States, and then forgot about it. The triple album, Crystal Ball eventually turned up in early 1998, with a couple of bonus albums, the acoustic The Truth and Kamasutra by the NPG Orchestra. The 5 discs were in a clear spherical container with no track-listing or booklet. It’s an album that I struggled with at the time but I’ve gone back and revisited it and now it’s one of my favourite Prince albums.

Crystal Ball is actually a compilation of songs from the Vault, mainly from 85-86 and 93-96.

Days of Wild is a live track recorded on 9 December 1995 at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios, where he often played concerts. The unreleased studio version was originally planned to be included on The Gold Experience album but was dropped before its final release.

3. Something In The Water

Something In The Water (Does Not Compute) is from the 1983 album “1999”. This instrumental version is from a soundcheck before his concert in the Orange Bowl Miami on 7th April 1985.

The recording of the soundcheck came to light earlier this year and is well worth listening to of you can get a recording of it. Needless to say, the 12 songs that he played during the 71 minute soundcheck didn’t feature in the concert itself. Prince and the Revolution just went out and showed what an incredible band they were.

His casual soundcheck is far better than most others’ actual concerts.

4. Erotic City

Erotic City was the b-side of the single Let’s Go Crazy, the second single to be released from Purple Rain on 18th July 1984.

The extended version of the song was due for inclusion on The Hits/B Sides compilation album, but it was removed by Prince, probably due to its explicit lyrics, and the abridged version was included instead.

This live version was recorded on Prince’s 26th birthday on 7th June 1984 at First Avenue, Minneapolis, which was the first live appearance of the song.

5. Old Friends 4 Sale

The song is from the criminally under-appreciated “The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale” album in 1999. It’s Prince at his laid back best and gives an indication of some of his jazz influences. The album was delivered by Prince to Warner Bros three years earlier along with “Chaos and Disorder” but they held onto it. Prince didn’t promote or tour the album and talked about it being a contractual obligation but it does it a disservice.

The song itself was from 1985 but was in Prince’s legendary vault along with many, many other great pieces of music, and it’s hoped that these will now start to filter out.

This recording is from a 2012 “Welcome To Chicago” rehearsal.

6. Empty Room

A live version of Empty Room was on the 2004 live album C-Note album, although it was initially released as a members-only download from the NPG Music Club at the start of the previous year. C-Note is made up of 4 largely instrumental soundchecks and Empty Room.

This version was recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival on 18th July 2009.

The studio version of the song remains officially unreleased.

7. Joy In Repetition

This song was released on the 1990 album Graffiti Bridge and also included on the 2002 live album “One Nite Alone… The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over.”

This version was the opening song to a concert at Inglewood Forum, LA on 28th April 2011. It’s my favourite bootleg and, to me, it’s Prince at his very best, although apologies for the long intro if it’s not your thing.

Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001, which resulted in him stopping swearing or singing explicitly about sex in the way that he had during the 80’s and 90’s. It’s noticeable that Prince changes the lyrics of this song to acknowledge that when he changes the lyrics from “4 letter words are seldom heard with such dignity and bite” to “4 letter words will not be heard not upon this stage tonight”.

The lyrics also include the line “Live music from a band plays a song called “Soul Psychodelicide””, which was a 59 minute song played at a jam session on 22nd July 1986, five days after Joy In Repetition was originally tracked.

8. Purple Rain

I guess I couldn’t not include Purple Rain, although I originally hadn’t planned to. It’s never been one of my favourite songs but as some of my inclusions are a bit more obscure, I thought I’d include one for the populist vote! It’s the title track from Prince’s best known album from 1984.

This version was recorded during Prince’s 21 night residency at the O2 in London on 21st September 2007.

9. Whole Of The Moon

A cover of the Waterboys single. Prince performed this with his backing band at the time 3rd Eye Girl.

The Waterboys included Purple Rain on their “The Live Adventures of The Waterboys” album and I wonder if this is Prince returning the favour.

The track was recorded at Prince’s Paisley Park studios in Minneapolis on 2nd May last year at his “Dance Rally 4 Peace”, following on from Freddie Gray’s death in police custody in Baltimore a few weeks earlier. Prince also released a single called “Baltimore” which also called for peace following the incident.

10. Nothing Compares 2 U

This is recorded during his recent Piano and a Microphone tour in the Sydney State Theatre on 21st February.

The quality of the recording isn’t the best but I felt I had to include it to show what his last tour was about. All the reviews were excellent and it’s nice to think that he went out on a high. He is best known for his guitar playing but it shows his musicianship that he was able to go on tour with only a piano and no backing band.

He was originally meant to be starting this tour in Western Europe late last year and had booked a night in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, but, to my great disappointment, it was postponed an hour before the tickets were due to go on sale due in part to tickets appearing on tout websites, but it was cancelled shortly afterwards following the tragedy at the Bataclan. Our loss was Australia and NZ’s gain and he did go on tour there earlier this year.

The song itself is obviously synonymous with Sinead O’Connor from 1990 but Prince had originally written it for The Family’s 1985 album “The Family.” This album is typical of Prince’s many protégés’ albums where he writes most of the songs, plays most of the instruments but is largely uncredited.

Following on from O’Connor’s success with the song, Prince started playing it regularly and a live version appeared on the 2003 compilation “The Hits 1”

Again Prince’s studio version remains officially unreleased but there are bootleg copies of it.

Bonus track – Purple Rain (reprise)

The last song of Prince’s last concert from the Fox Theatre, Atlanta on 14th April 2016.

“Sometimes it snows in April

Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad

Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,

But all good things, they say, never last.”

RIP Prince.


JC writes…..

I learned of the tragic passing of Prince from a text sent by Jacques the Kipper.  As you’ll know from the Billy Joel ICA, he’s a mate who enjoys a laugh and a wind-up, but given how much love he has for Prince I knew immediately that this particular text wasn’t a prank. Turning the TV to the news channels only confirmed it all.

I could have gone straight to the keyboard and tried to pull together a few words, but I knew they wouldn’t do the occasion justice.  So I asked JtK to consider a piece for the blog.  He’s done a tremendous job…..


Jacques the Kipper. Tuesday 26 April 2016


When I penned a very few words about David Bowie‘s musical influence on me, I never imagined that, barely a few weeks later, I’d be commenting similarly on the sudden death of Prince. As an artist, he knew how to surprise but this was unexpected on a whole new level. And desperately sad. Particularly I think for those of us of the same generation. As a result, I’ve found it really hard to put my thoughts in writing. This is my best, admittedly disjointed, effort for now. I’ll warn you that if you want comprehensive, if you want cultural analysis, if you want a detailed discography, then you’re better looking elsewhere. There’s plenty choice, much of it well researched and written. This is definitely not a tribute, more a word association.

Prince Rogers Nelson was born on 7 June 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father was a jazz musician and his mother a singer in his band. Who am I to doubt the legend that Prince taught himself guitar, drums and piano from a very young age. By the age of 10 his parents had split and he was living with his neighbours. In high school, he set up his first band. He released his first album in 1978 and pretty much the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forwarding to his death on 21 April 2016, I experienced a weird run of Prince related coincidences around that date.

Early in the week, an old college friend got a very senior job. This left me, wandering into work a day later, musing to myself how the hell could that have happened, given our collective application to alcohol rather than academia back in the day.

That inspired thoughts of our shared best friend of the time, Dave, who decamped to London, offering me the opportunity to live with him in Catford and, at the time, work with him for a used car dealer. Who knows now how life might have turned out, had I made that move. In fact, it was probably my on-off relationship with Julia Fordham girl that stopped me, not long before she made the local papers by running off with a leading councillor (who at the time was married to the Council Leader). But that’s for another day.

Anyway, as I walked, memories flooded back of one of the few times that I visited Dave in London, so that we could both go see Prince. So much did I want to see him (Prince, not Dave) that I paid (face value) more for a gig ticket than I ever had before; a record that stood for more than 20 years. We sat next to Paula Yates and her pals. That was an experience in itself. They sang and danced. A lot. So did we. Prince was awesome in his high heels. What more do you need to know?

As a quick aside, as I haven’t seen him for so long, I googled Dave when I got into the office. By his own admission to a trade magazine, he now seems to let flats to London gangsters. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

The day after, Thursday, again as I wandered in to work, “When Doves Cry” randomly came on the iPod. I never listen to that album, so enjoyed the experience of hearing it for the first time in ages and pondered the coincidence of thinking of Dave just the day before. Who’d have thought, literally a few hours later, I’d have heard the same song several times more on the radio or television.

For me, it was the usual Thursday evening these days, taking my daughter and her pal on the train to fitness training for her football team. Browsing social media, as you do on such trips, I noticed a breaking story that a body had been found at Paisley Park. Many thoughts went through my head – mostly, I’ll admit, to do with crime, drugs or bizarre accidents – but none of them directly associated with Prince himself. I remember wondering if he’d been there at the time and would this mean some gruesome public inquiry that he’d have to participate in with various media implications or accusations of dodgy practices… A few minutes later it became clear that the body might well be Prince himself… Obviously a fake story… Then the confirmation that it was indeed him… Shock… Sadness… Disbelief.

Without seeking to be disrespectful, I can honestly say that I never imagined that I’d hear Aretha Franklin, whom I thought was ‘ancient’ when I was a lad, paying tribute to Prince. That really brought home to me how untimely this was.

The final coincidence of the week was the day after and a pre-planned drink after work, something I very rarely get to do these days. The drink was with a friend, with whom I’d not long back seen Prince. Chatting to him convinced me to put this stuff on paper.

Why Prince actually died will apparently take weeks to be confirmed. No doubt now that we’re past the initial respectful stage, the stories will turn to innuendo and spurious, sordid, suspicious scenarios and circumstances around his death. Already I’ve noticed the lazy journalism linking Prince’s name to Michael Jackson. They are after all both black, successful and died relatively young, so – the story implies – who knows what other characteristics they may have shared.

As you’ll see from the next few paragraphs, I didn’t pore over Prince’s personal life when he was alive. I know comparatively little about him and am happy for it to remain that way, at least until his promised, but now tragically curtailed, memoir is inevitably published. Though not if it’s relying on a ghost writer to fill in the bits he hadn’t “written” yet. For me, it’s mostly been about the music.

I was first introduced to Prince about 1980 by a school friend. While he does inhabit the Internet, he keeps that pretty private, so I’ll respect that and refer to him only as The Friend Formerly Known As. The three albums he shared with me were, to say the least, eye openers. That was as much about the lyrical content as the music. It was all oddly addictive though and, alongside the standards you’d expect me to be listening to at the time – post-punk, sounds of young Scotland, whatever my girlfriend liked – I began to enjoy them more and more, and it didn’t take too long to purchase my own copies. So began a lifelong love.

Just to be clear, there is an anomaly here. I’ve just looked down the list of best selling global music superstars and (ironically for this blog) barring Kanye, there is no-one else in the top 80 or so for whom I can say I own more than, at best an album or two, many no more than a favourite track and most nothing at all. I don’t really do mass success.

I did waver a little in the early days with Purple Rain – both the album and film. It wasn’t that I didn’t secretly love the purple pomposity of it all, it was more Prince was getting just a little too popular for the indie kid I’d increasingly become. The run of singles and albums after that though was undeniably just genius. Parade and Sign o the Times remain among my very favourite albums ever, and depending on the day you ask, Kiss or Sign o the Times could well be my favourite single of all time. There are a raft of singles or album tracks from that period that I still rate as highly as anything in my vast and musically varied collection.

To be clear, unlike Bowie and one or two others, he didn’t really change my musical direction. Consciously anyway. I certainly didn’t rush out and buy lots of obviously Prince related music, though maybe it opened my mind to stuff that I wouldn’t have given a chance to otherwise. Is that why I enjoy the likes of Chaka Khan, Frank Ocean, Destiny’s Child, TLC or even Kendrick Lamar? Looking backward to likely influences on him, I do love Marvin, Al Green, Sly and the Family Stone, Hendrix… But what is Prince related music anyway? There’s funk in there sure, but soul, R&B, jazz, rock, pop, a bit of gospel too over his career. He even brought Kate Bush’s funky side out. And how could we Scots forget what he did to Sheena Easton?! Sugar Walls indeed.

Of course, I loved his androgyny. If you’ve read anything I’ve written before you know that I’m a sucker for that. Was he gay, straight, bisexual? Don’t know. Don’t care. I do know that he “dated” many famous women, much to the fury I’m sure of various macho meatheads.

It’s far too easy to write off his lyrics as pop trash. There’s much wit and wisdom and a fair smattering of politics, amongst the sex talk. I suppose it’s really the stories within so many of the songs that I enjoy. For me, he paints a picture, and usually a pretty damn colourful one.

I’m not going to say anything more about the music. You’ll either love the squealing and the shrieking, the groaning and the grinding, the bass and funky drumming, the inventiveness, the re-styling, or you won’t. That’s fine – each to their own.

As I said above, others will assess his musical and cultural worth far better than me in the many, many articles to be found across the written and virtual press. I do know that, in 39 studio albums, there’s some padding and there’s some I like much more than others. But generally I can switch on Prince at any time, at any point of his career, and bathe in the lovesexiness. Proved to some degree following his death by switching the iPod to random Prince and not feeling the need to fast forward through anything. Indeed, quite the opposite as a few lost gems see the light once more. That to me, personally, is a measure of unrivalled sustained quality.

I’m not really going to comment either on squiggles, slaves and law suits. I can’t deny that the sight in the mid-90s of a multi-millionaire trying to escape a contract just to be allowed to make more multi-millions did grate. But actually, in retrospect, I have to accept that the fight was to some degree worth it in allowing others less fortunate ultimately to benefit from more freedom of contract. In recent times, he’s taken on YouTube and the streaming sites and, largely, won. Hence the comparative lack of material being linked to from social media comments on his death.

The one thing I will agree with most writers on is that he was so unbelievably talented at so many things – multi-musician, singer, producer, arranger, dancer, sex god, though maybe not actor – that he’s probably had less credit over the years than he’s deserved. Certainly I have never seen such an astonishing guitarist. I used to marvel at Hendrix on film, then I saw Prince for real. And then he’d wander over to the piano. Or the drums. Or the various other instruments that he more than mastered.

There can be little doubt that he was a workaholic and a lover of music. If he wasn’t shagging, he was rehearsing, recording or playing live. He is the only musician that I’ve ever seen who can play a minute or so of a song – sometimes less – then just as you’re marveling at how amazing it is, cast it off for something better, then do so again, and again. And you accept it because it’s the only way to hear so much of his canon, but mainly because despite it being a medley and not like it sounds on the record, it is still bloody brilliant.

The worry now has to be that the rumoured hundreds of albums that Prince recorded and kept in the Paisley Park vaults are now cobbled together and the legacy is exploited. For me, though I know others will disagree, he left them in that vault for a reason.

More generally, while his death’s effect on the future of music is, of course, questionable, I can honestly say that there is practically no artist who has given me personally such consistent pleasure over the years. Social media has been awash with musos I like, and not all of whom I’d have associated with a liking of him, saying similar. That’s been oddly pleasing given the stick I took as an indie youth for being a fan. Even Noel Gallagher and Bruce Springsteen have done live tributes in recent days.

I’m not alone in now not daring to mention my other favourites in case somehow I tempt providence. I thought it would be a long time before some musician’s death affected me as much as David Bowie. Actually this is worse. And I can think only of a couple of further artists that I would mourn similarly.

That’s it. The end. Nothing more meaningful to say. JC can honestly pick anything he wants, though don’t be surprised if Prince’s lawyers have it taken down before you’ve listened to it. Starfish and Coffee with the Muppets is still on YouTube whatever.

Actually, talking of coincidences, YouTube and Muppets….over the last few days you may have seen Prince doing Purple Rain at the Super Bowl; Billy Joel was on that bill…

Oh and you might be wondering who now is the band that I’ve paid most to see. Well, after a short break it’s back to being Prince again. Worth every penny.

Shut up already. Damn.


JC adds……..As noted above I get to choose the tracks today.  I think they are a match for the quality of Jacques’ contribution..

mp3 : Prince – Controversy
mp3 : Prince & The Revolution – Mountains
mp3 : Prince & The New Power Generation – Money Don’t Matter 2 Night
mp3 : Prince & The New Power Generation – Gett Off (Housestyle)



I first heard this piece of magnificence courtesy of its inclusion on a tape compiled by Jacques the Kipper:-

mp3 : Prince & The Revolution – Erotic City (Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive)

The song was originally released as the b-side to Let’s Go Crazy in 1984 (in edited form for the 7″) and later again in 1986 on the 12″ version of Girls & Boys. I feel however that I must warn readers, who may be easily offended, that the song features some sweary words. Or maybe he is really saying funk……

The song is significant for being the recording debut of Sheila E, the singer/drummer/percussionist who would not only become integral to the output of Prince over the next five years but would later go on to enjoy a reasonably successful solo career. I was also intrigued by the fact that among the small number of acts who have been brave enough to tackle a cover version are this lot who got a mention on T(n)VV a short while back for what I had thought would have been the one only time and so I went out and tracked down the CD single on which it appears as a b-side.

mp3 : Semisonic – Erotic City

It sounds, rather sadly, like a wedding band’s take on it.  Limp and hugely uninspiring.  And a contender for a place in the Top 10 worst covers of all time which is shaping up for a post at somepoint in the future.



Jacques the Kipper had a significant birthday a few days ago….he’s celebrating in style with us….


Some of us get to an age where we think how best might I mark this musically. Unlike JC, I decided not to work up a long list of singles or albums, thus avoiding not only having to settle on, say, 50 favourites, but having to decide whether more than one from the same artist was allowed and whether offshoot bands counted as the same, was it their best single/album or my favourite, or one that had special memories, etc etc. I reckon there’s also only so much time you’d want to spend reading me drone on about The Clash’s eponymous debut or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

Instead, I’ve embarked on something relatively short and snappy that you can take or leave, love or hate. If this was a radio show it’d last about 40 minutes. It’s an entirely original idea and any resemblance to an idea alive or dead is purely coincidental.

Imagine if you will, that my ship, sailing in some random ocean, overloaded with all my music, is about to go down. I spot an island, clearly inhabited by no-one, and as I launch the lifeboat I resolve to save seven long-playing records. Which do I pick?

I very rarely listen to music outwith the current year as there’s so much good new stuff around, but even as the waters lap around my toes, I realise that picking seven current albums probably doesn’t make for such good material as looking deeper into my past. I resolve to grab seven of the albums that mean I can write a few words to explain my choice … and that I’m prepared to listen to again and again obviously. It won’t be my top seven of all time, it won’t be the best seven, but it will help me survive til the good ship Vinyl Villain tracks me down. I suppose also that I could pick one relatively random track from each album, just to give you a flavour and break up the monotony every so often.

And what to call this musical musing? I’m thinking Deserted Island Long Players might be a cool, succinct and snazzy moniker for this venture. But feel free to call it dross.

The first I’ve chosen to save is Marine GirlsBeach Party. There was plenty punk, metal, post-punk or pop that I could have selected to remind me of my youth in a small fishing community, but this probably sums it up as well as anything for me. When some around me were desperately seeking louder, thrashier stuff (although, let’s be honest, most were coveting the latest Billy Joel album), I found this gem. I don’t recall now why or how. Possibly Peel. Possibly just liked the look of the cover (how many albums have I bought over the years for that reason. And then loved).

Anyhow, when the needle hit the record (I’m not pretending I had the cassette), my jaw hit the floor. Bright, breezy and brilliant. This was DIY pop at its very best. Ramshackle recording in a garden shed. And let’s be thankful for that.

Be honest, had a studio been involved, then it would never have sounded this raw, this rough, this frankly shambolic. It is a wonderful thing and surely an inspiration for several bands that followed and feature in JC’s ramblings. Too twee (though I wouldn’t have known the meaning of the word then) and lo-fi for most of my mates of that time, for me it still conjures up memories of school, real life beach parties, cider and vodka ‘cocktails’, girls (who I wanted to impress but all hated this sort of music), and trying to avoid getting my head kicked in.

Happy days.

mp3 : Marine Girls – Times We Used To Spend

Next choice, I’ve selected a double album, Prince’s – Sign O’ The Times. Many who know me will be surprised that Prince slipped under the door into this seven. However, for me it’s a no brainer.

This album must be amongst my most played over the years. I know there’s a dip here and there – ain’t that always the way on a double album; but when it’s good it is astonishingly good. Yup, I have sung and shrieked along to this in the privacy of my home, and I would do much the same on a deserted island. Back in the day, I would play it to get the funk before heading out to see some indie miserables play locally. Indeed, those who shared those evenings in the Northern City’s sweaty pubs and clubs will testify to my wearing of a rather camp Prince t-shirt to the Go Betweens, Nervous Choir, Stump, or whoever, and consequent tutting from the indie cognoscenti.

It’s not all good memories though, this kinda reminds me also of my psycho girlfriend of the time, cos obviously she hated it (is there a pattern developing here?). Which may have explained setting fire to our flat, cutting our phone line, throwing glass tables… Or maybe not.

mp3 : Prince – The Ballad of Dorothy Parker

(I know that Prince won’t actually allow this**, so we’ll just have some Supermoon instead. And, to get into the mood, imagine Neil in purple with a wig.)

mp3 : Supermoon – The Mill (Toad Session)

Third from the wreckage is Public Enemy and Yo! Bum Rush The Show. Still making great music, it is unbelievable now in a world of Jihad and fundamentalism to look back on the headlines that surrounded this lot in their early days. Now Chuck D remains controversial but more in the role of old statesman.

Channel 4 recycled an old song for their London 2012 Paralympic Games coverage and catapulted them back into the charts. However, back in 1987, for those that aren’t old enough to remember, they really were seen as a threat to western society with their links to Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan. But then that was also a time, and not that long ago, when the election of a black President of the US was seen as inconceivable. And perhaps the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s association with Public Enemy and their alleged extremism was a factor in his failure to achieve just that. I’ll dodge the politics for now and revert to the album itself.

Honestly, when I played this for the first time, it was another jaw stretching moment. So much (black) power. Energy. Beats. And they meant it maan. Of course they’ve done better stuff since, of course listening now it doesn’t seem as powerful as it did then. But, in the modern world of social media, of (free) music at every turn, of sampler tracks, of rough recording releases, that moment of hearing an album this good and this (to me) different, for the first time, in full, will never be repeated. Hearing this, indirectly, took my musical direction down a whole new path. I’d always loved what little I knew then of rap and had the odd record from the likes of Schooly D, but this got me hook, line and sinker. To hear and dance to this sort of music locally at the time, the only real option was to go to dance club nights, where they played the odd rap tune. And I did. But, dance music was evolving too and that introduced me to acid house and other beats. And some late nights.

mp3 : Public Enemy – You’re Gonna Get Yours

No worries, I’ve thrown the pills back. And, instead, grabbed Never Got Hip by Foil. I was beyond youth when this came out but it will forever remind me of that period and beyond. The band themselves will despair as I reckon they’d demand I pick their first release. But they won’t be there. Hugh will be though, on lead vocals for much of the album, and there’s a friendly voice that’s followed me through my life. That in itself will remind me of so much, and much of that best not repeated. As well, both children were born by the time this came out and there’s several memories linked to them. It’s an album I still listen to regularly and still thoroughly enjoy.

This is not nepotism – it’s here on merit as well as for the memories. Looking through the tracks, I’m struggling to pick one that I don’t really, really like. I still think, with the right promotion or a bit more luck, this could have been a real success. Just before I leap in the lifeboat I’m chucking a note in a bottle to Vic Galloway reminding him to give them a play again sometime soon.

mp3 : Foil – Claremont Junction Optimist

Enough of the noise, I’ll need some peace and chilling. And who better than Beth Orton and Trailer Park. This is a gorgeous album. When I find myself in times of trouble…..I sit down and listen to this. Just one of the best voices ever. Again, I can listen to every track over and over, again and again.

I am though absolutely horrified to note that this is nearly 20 years old. When did that happen? Asked in the pub for my favourite artists, it’s unlikely that Beth Orton would spring to mind. Yet I own pretty much everything she has released. She’s Ms Reliability for me. There when I need some solace, there when I need to just relax and let the music wash over me. Rather appropriate in this contrived situation in which I’ve found myself. You’ll all think she’s mainstream maudlin. But it’s my sinking ship…

mp3 : Beth Orton – Someone’s Daughter

The sixth long player was a tough one. As JC knows, I do enjoy a bit of politics in my music, but then I picked one of the less obviously political albums by the Beard of Barking – Billy Bragg’s William Bloke. Billy’s music has accompanied so much of my life that I couldn’t not have him and I could have chosen any of his albums. I’ve seen him more times than I can recall with various friends, not all of whom are still here.

I could have dipped in anywhere in his career (except perhaps Mr Love and Justice) and been happy. But this has special memories linked to family, and JC, with whom I enjoyed a spectacularly good night, on a berthed ferry ironically enough, watching Bill tour this. Because it’s a bit soft overall on the old politics, it’s possibly not one that gets a huge amount of love and attention. Despite that it’s one that I return to time and time again. And the warmth of the album as a whole envelopes me whenever I do. Here’s an artist that the woman in my life does like.

mp3 : Billy Bragg – The Space Race Is Over

And then there was the shock of the new. No way was I climbing in that lifeboat without something a bit newer. I can’t conceive of a time when I won’t want to hear new music, even if it does sound “just like the old stuff”.

So I look down and there’s five albums I haven’t had the time to listen to yet – new releases by Sleaford Mods, Public Enemy, Rachel Sermanni and C Duncan, and an album from a couple of months back by Nocturnal Sunshine (Maya Jane Coles in disguise). I’ve seen the first three, own their previous work already, I know broadly how they’ll sound. That leaves the others.

As the waters reach my knees, am I dancing or am I chancing? I plump for C Duncan’s Architect. I know a wee bit about him, and his indie folktronica as I hope no-one’s calling it, but have managed to avoid knowingly hearing him over the last year. It’s a gamble, as I might hate it. But at least I’ll have a frisbee to play with if I do. It’s difficult to choose a track in the circumstances, albeit there’s a couple of potentially suitable punny titles. Instead I’ll leap into the unknown with the positive sounding…

mp3 : C Duncan – He Believes In Miracles

Apparently there’s a bit of other miscellany allowed too. The Bible would probably have to be The Great Indie Discography (albeit magically updated), which JC gifted me a few years back. Hours of fun plotting various groups lack of success.

It appears that everyone who lands on this island finds the near mythical Collected Works of Morrissey in book form. I’m still pondering what to do with it. It might be useful for lighting a fire. Or I could hollow it out into a seat. But I suppose that its greatest value will be that JC is going to do his damnedest to find me if he thinks there could be a limited edition Moz freebie as a reward.

I’m told there’s also some space for a music book of my own choice. For that ideally I’d like to go with Mr Song By Toad’s autobiography as I reckon that’d be a fascinating read with just the wrong amount of swearing. But that isn’t available. And likely never will be. I wouldn’t say no to a compiled version of Deadbeat fanzine either, but that’s cheating. Simon ReynoldsRip it Up and Start Again is tempting if nothing else because there’s a lot of it. But the book that still makes me laugh and cry just thinking about it is The Glamour Chase: The Maverick Life of Billy Mackenzie by Tom Doyle. So that’s the one.

And my luxury, as an alternative to music, is a football. I tell you what, by the time I’m saved, I’ll be practised and set for my Scotland debut.

If I could only have one album from the seven above, then that really is a tough choice as I could easily make a justification for any of them. But I’ll say Beth, on the basis of a female voice and the likely time I’ll end up chilling in the sun.

Anyone think I’ve overanalysed this……??

Jacques (Aged 50 years and 3 days)

JC adds……

All of the above words are true.  From the psycho girlfriend to the night on the Ferry with both us almost in tears watching and listening to Billy B talking about politics and how literally we should now be ‘doing it for the kids’ to the fact that JtK grew up with Hugh Duggie the main man in Foil and who really had the talent and charisma to have been a rock god but never quite got the breaks.

I got to know JtK some 25 years ago and within weeks of our first meeting he was having to defend me rigorously and vigorously when I was in danger becoming public enemy #1 in our workplace over the fact I had fallen in love with someone new…I’ve never really thanked him for that in public cos we’re blokes and blokes don’t do that sort of thing…

I’m lucky to have such a great mate and what a bonus that he has such great taste in music.

Oh and thanks for making me smile yet again with the Billy Joel reference (sorry dear readers, it’s a great wee private joke!)

Belated happy birthday amigo.

** re Prince – let’s see how long it lasts before a dmca notice forces it away………..