ROCKAWAY BEACH : A BOUTIQUE INDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL

A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN

Righttttt! So let’s say this upfront! This wasn’t a Butlin’s ‘themed weekend’ populated with tributes acts, Sonja and one member of Five Star pretending to be Five Star. This was a bona fide curated music festival, we know that because there was loads of posters saying so.

Piss taking aside, it WAS FUCKING BOSS! I’m not kidding, I had a better time there than I’ve had at any music festival since my teens. If I have one complaint, there wasn’t enough ‘Butlinsy’ type stuff. A lot was closed down for the winter. Shame!

We (myself and my pal Tom) got there after kick off, meaning we missed Bellatrix and a few others but it’s not all bad as we were given a chalet bigger than we were expected. You know you’ve hit your 40s when you get excited about having a spare room that no one will sleep in.

So the first thing we took in was John Cale chatting about his life. I say chatting about his life, he tells stories like Grandpa Simpson, there was one where he caught the bus to Shelbyville with an onion on his belt (which was the style at the time). It was kinda endearing. John Robb did a good job of livening things up a tad. Look man, when John Cale speaks, you listen, even if he’s doing his best Stanley Unwin.

The first music act we saw was also John Cale. We didn’t really have our shit together, so we had a double Cale first day. It’s cool though, I’ve seen Cale around half a dozen times and Paris 1919 shows aside, I’ve never heard so many Cale classics in one sitting. It’s a pity not one of them sounded like they did on the records. That’s the beauty of Cale, not one fuck was given by him. He must have seen Bob Dylan and thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. It was fucking fab in places though and a bit patience testing wank in others. We didn’t need a spoken word / ambient version of Half Past France, but it was great to hear Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night back in the setlist.

Someone shouted out for Hallelujah and then someone else shouted out ‘wanker’, I think it was a response to the first shout out, rather than an attack on JC. (editor’s note…..it wasn’t an attack on me either!!)

He opened with Helen of Troy which is in my top 10 Cale tunes and while a roaring version of Waiting For The Man predictably got the biggest cheer. Villa Albani was the only song I’d not heard him do live before, so that to me was a special treat.

mp3 : John Cale – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
mp3 : John Cale – Villa Albani

After Cale we headed off to the chalet as we were pretty knackered after the traveling and such. We stopped by Burger King, which was open until 3am, for fuck sake. THREE AYE EMM!

Saturday kick off, all you can eat breakfast. That’s where we made our money back. I’ll be surprised if they do a buffet again next year as I think we took them to the cleaners in hashbrowns alone. After about an hour we went to the swimming pool. The pool was only open for about 4 hours on one day. That fucking sucks man, plus we didn’t find out until afterwards…. basically we’d have gone earlier and stayed later if we’d known. Those flumes are the balls.

Music wise, we kept our powder dry until Peter Perrett. We’d seen a bit of his talk and if I’m honest it was like watching a model made by the Jim Henson creature shot. Wanna feel old? Peter Perrett is what the robot Lou Reed from No Money Down looks like now

But Jesus, he fucking nailed it. His band were tight AF and cool AF and rocking AF and just AF. Peter is still the teller of stories rather than the singer of songs. I didn’t recognise much of the material as most of it was culled from his solo albums that I’ve heard but not digested. Surely the sign of a great act and great songs is when you’re hooked without knowing a note? He rewarded the non-fans with Another Girl, Another Planet and a rollicking cover of the Velvets What Goes On, but he didn’t need to. He had the songs to leave without the fan service. Baby Don’t Talk from his 1990s outing The One was a nice opener while War Plan Red and An Epic Story are up there with his classics.

mp3 : Peter Perret & The One – Baby Don’t Talk
mp3 : Peter Perret – An Epic Story

We went off to watch some footy on the big screen and play some pool. The pool got quite contentious but the final score was 3 to Steve and 2 to Tom. It’s not my fault he loves potting the black. I tried my best to lose to him, I really did. Then more food. I mean fucking loads. We went to the American style diner. I had a cheeseburger, topped with a chicken burger and some bacon. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking ‘Steve you earned that burger topped burger after all your swimming’ Damn straight.

We got back in time for the The Nova Twins, they had come highly recommended so we were eager. They were okay I guess, but I didn’t click with them. That said, the crowd fucking loved them and I was in a food coma. so I might not the best person to ask. They looked lively. The tune Vortex is a banger.

After that it was the Jesus and Mary Chain. One of the main reasons I’d come was for JAMC. I love my bands when they have dry ice and strobes so you can’t see how badly they’ve aged. Nice one lads, you should have seen the rest of us, not a proper hair line among the crowd although many of us were convinced that our skinny jeans still fit (imagine the buzzer noise from Family Fortunes here)

A crowd pleasing set followed, April Skies, Just Like Honey, Candy Talking, Head On etc etc.. they also played a couple of newer songs – Amputation stands out as a clear winner although they didn’t play my favourite song, Snakedriver, so in their own vernacular they can get tae fuk.

mp3 : The Jesus and Marcy Chain – Amputation

After that we opted again for Burger King and back to the chalet. The other option was listening to Steve Lamacq playing some records and I’d spent hours in the 1990s doing that. I can’t imagine he’s improved.

Sunday! Bloody Sunday! More breakfast! The good thing about a buffet at breakfast is the amount of melon I eat. I never eat melon after a fry up in real life. It was practically a health spa weekend. Seriously, melon for breakfast, like I’m Meghan Markel or something!

After breakfast we went for a walk along the beach. We saw a seagull the size of a fucking bouncer. Hard bastard he was, instead of stealing chips, he was nicking B&H out of ten year old’s mouths.

There was more pool after the beach, some would say that Tom won because a 5 – nil drubbing meant he was ahead 7-3 but those people would be wrong as it was clearly a two legged affair where goal difference doesn’t count. The ‘final’ was decided Tom potted the black. Sorry man, I *don’t* make the ”rules”.

Music wise, Sunday had a lot to offer. True to form we dicked around too long so the first band we saw was Brix and Extricated. It was curio for me as I was only ever ‘okay’ with The Fall . The best songs they played were Fall songs. The stand out was Glam Racket , from 1992 which was co-written by guitarist Steve Hanley. You have the feeling that this band consider themselves a sequel to The Fall.

Brix was followed by The Wedding Present. The Weddoes were another reason for me being here. I have loved them in most of the forms they have taken. I am more of a Bizarro fan than Seamonsters or George Best and I was well served with Brassneck, Kennedy and What Have I Said Now. There was enough classics and enough ‘new stuff’ to keep everyone happy. For new stuff read post 2004 reunion. My fave WP song is Montreal which they didn’t play. I am more forgiving than I am of JAMC because of all the Bizarro stuff. Gedge introduced the band as an Indie supergroup as they have the drummer from My Life Story and the guitarist from Sleeper. To paraphrase Ross’s girlfriend from Friends; Playing it fast and loose with the word super, there.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy

Closing band of the weekend were Fontaines DC. or The Fontaines as everyone seemed to be calling them. I’d not encountered them before, but alarm bells rang when my friend Ian mentioned that they were like Oasis crossed with the Pogues. If only it was the other way around, Ian.. If only.

Look, I know I’m a contrarian. My favourite Byrds album is Byrdsmaniax, I think Squeeze is a legitimate part of the VU discography and Greedo shot first (that last one is bollocks, but my back is up). Seriously, I’m not on board with these guys. Tom (who has more of an open mind than me when it comes to not pre-judging) looked at me with a face that said MEH and I thought he was being generous. It was like every student uni band that you ever saw. I can only assume that people are enjoying them because new bands are so insipid that anyone offering a slight element of danger seems like The Stooges. Sorry guys. BUT! Look on the bright side, I’m in my 40s, you don’t fucking want me in your fan base… all of those people who were there getting into you who were also in their 40s were taking some real cool points off you though. Soz.  (editor’s note……I disagree with the our reviewer’s take on Fontaines DC…Santa was kind enough to bring me the debut album….and they will be getting a further mention on this blog in a couple of days time)

And that was that. We skipped Burger King (I’m lying here, for effect.. we had double Burger King because we knew it’d be our last… Take that colon!) Then breakfast again and then nothing. Fuck. Well not completely nothing, we got back to the chalet and the radio was playing Five Star! Proper Five Star with all the members intact. WOO HOO!

To sum up – It’s fucking rubbish not living in Butlins, they have a little shop that charges three quid for a diet coke. That’s an amazing mark up. A few years ago I was offered a job with Pontins and I’ve sent them an email to see if it’s still going. Oh and I’ve booked Rockaway Beach for next year. Bands, burger king, amusements, swimming, pool, grabby machines and rambling old men.

Rockaway Bi-atches!

STEVE

JC adds……

I’ve known Steve a good number of years, initailly through our collective love for Butcher Boy.  He was kind enough to allow me to use his FB thoughts on a Sgt Pepper tribute album for a posting last year and I was delighted when he said yes when I asked if he fancied penning a review of Rockaway Beach 2020.  Here’s hoping he feels like contributing more stuff over the coming months.

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS

A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN

JC adds.…..Steve is a friend of old, who I first met via a mutual appreciation for Butcher Boy. He’s a stand-up comedian by trade (among many other talents as can be seen here…..) and with his permission, I’ve cut’n’pasted this from an on-going thing he’s doing on Facebook.

Steve’s Records In No Particular Order #14

Various Artists – The Last Temptation of Elvis

Ever fancied owning an album where Bruce Springsteen and Pop Will Eat Itself share the same space? We’re back to WTF here.

This is a compilation of Presley covers complied by the NME. I’m not sure if it was a mail away special or available in shops. I gather some of the songs were commissioned while some where in existence already. As with all tribute albums, it’s a mixed bag, so lets dive in –

The ”boss” (he’s not the boss of me etc etc) gives us Viva Las Vegas with his usual gruff-can’t-be-bothered-no-wait-I-can-no-wait-I-dunno-mehh attitude, it kinda works but only because I’m familiar with the ZZ Top version, which does the same but worse. It’s okay. Well done Bruce you don’t completely suck.

mp3 : Bruce Springsteen – Viva Las Vegas

Track two is Sidney Youngblood (I KNOW RIGHT! SIDNEY YOUNGBLOOD 🙂 I’m so happy just to hear his name 🙂 . This is a cracking acapella version of Teddy Bear. It’s do-woppy, it’s finger-clicky, it’s cool!

mp3 : Sidney Youngblood – Teddy Bear

Then Tanita Tikaram comes along with a version of Loving You. It’s everything you’d imagine from her – slow, dirgy and lovely in places.

mp3 : Tanita Tikaram – Loving You

Let’s Have A Party is Robert Plant‘s contribution, again like Tikaram, he seems to have gone out of his way to make this the most Robert Plant version of the song he can. It’s a shame because we know he’s got more to his locker these days.

mp3 : Robert Plant – Let’s Have A Party

The Pogues give us Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do. In keeping with this side, they make it their own which totally works. It becomes a London Irish drinking song. Is there anything they can’t do that to?

mp3 : The Pogues – Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do

Holly Johnson closes the side with Love Me Tender. To be honest it’s a let down. Of all the acts you want to not experiment, it’s Holly with his lush voice but he sings low and tries to own it too much.

mp3 : Holly Johnson – Love Me Tender

Side two opens with McCartney being faithful to It’s Now Or Never – you can tell he loves the song and Presley and it feels like he’s enjoying himself.

mp3 : Paul McCartney – It’s Now or Never

Dion sings Mean Woman Blues and it’s a nice touch that they got a rival to take part, every one loves the king. Even if this is slightly phoned in.

mp3 : Dion MiDucci – Mean Woman Blues

The Jesus and Mary Chain knock the fuck out of Guitar Man, this and Youngblood from side one are the stand outs so far. Feedback, screaming lead guitar and JAMC all over the place.

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Guitar Man

Cath Carroll & Steve Albini throw the kitchen sink at King Creole. They get some good results but fuck around half way through the song when they could have delivered a punk pop classic on it.

mp3 : Cath Carroll & Steve Albini – King Creole

A nice piano bar version of Young & Beautiful by Aaron Neville. It feels a bit wedding breakfast buffet.

mp3 : Aaron Neville – Young & Beautiful

Now we have the biggest duffer of the lot. Fucking Vivian Stanshell & The Big Boys with It’s Hard To Rhumba In A Sports Car. You know Vivian, there comes a time when you’ll have to forgive your parents for not letting you have chocolate biscuits.. HEY GUYS LET’S DO A SKIT! The problem is when you try so hard to be zany, you’re not zany by the very definition of being zany. You can hear themselves fucking each other over their cleverness of covering an Elvis song that’s both shit and very few people know. Jolly WHAT! Tedious fuckery. Fuck off.

mp3 : Vivian Stanshell & The Big Boys – It’s Hard To Rhumba In A Sports Car

Sorry, I think I probably revealed more about myself in that previous bit. The Primitives give us some nice Baby You’re So Square… It’s 1990 and the Primitives are a year past their big time so they’re just happy to be here. It’s a cool version. Well done guys.

mp3 : The Primitives – Baby You’re So Square

Side Three! Hall and Oates Can’t Help But Falling In Love and I can’t help wishing they’d do one, they seemingly inspired a similar version from UB40 with this and for that they can fucking spin. Sorry, I’m still annoyed about Vivian Stanshall.

mp3 : Hall and Oates – Can’t Help Falling In Love

Crawfish is the offering from the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra , it’s more a late 80s pop offering that wouldn’t be out of place on The Hitman and Her.

mp3 : The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra – Crawfish

Ian McCulloch does a strange mix of Mac voice with indie guitar and RnR backing vocals version of Return To Sender. It works. The spirally guitar gives it a nice 90s indie disco feel.

mp3 : Ian McCulloch – Return to Sender

FUZZBOX! FUZZBOX! FUZZBOX! They do Trouble because they are trouble….. They do it awesomely because they’re awesome. The best band of the 80s and should be worshipped as gods.

mp3 : Fuzzbox – Trouble

The Hollow Men. I was gonna make a Hollow Meh comment but it’s okay. It’s a Peel Indie version of Thanks To The Rolling Sea. You can imagine it playing in a John Hughes film when someone is crying on top of their bed because they can’t afford to go to / can’t get a date for / have detention when the big dance is on.

mp3 : The Hollow Men – Thanks To The Rolling Sea

The Blow MonkeysFollow That Dream. Everything you need to know about the Blow Monkeys can be learned by knowing that Michael Stipe, one of the nicest people on the planet, took the piss out of them once at a concert… no wait, it might have been Mike Mills. Anyway, if you’re being bullied by REM you don’t deserve my review…. also this is a wank version with a drum machine programmed by a 13 year old boy.

mp3 : The Blow Monkeys – Follow That Dream

mp3 : Lemmy & The Upsetters with Mick Green – Blue Suede Shoes

I don’t think this is Lee Perry’s Upsetters, if it is then they’re rocking out to fuck. It’s got Mick Jones on it too. Mick Green was in Johnny Kidd and Pirates. This is a strong ending to side three and reminiscent of Motorhead‘s version of Please Don’t Touch.

Side four comes back to earth with a lovely version of Wooden Heart by Nanci Griffith. It’s sweet and folky.

mp3 : Nanci Griffith and The Blue Moon Orchestra – Wooden Heart

Jeff Healey will never top his cameo in Roadhouse in my eyes, imagine a Swayze / Healey supergroup playing ‘She’s Like The Wind’ in heaven right now – makes you wanna be a good christian just to get a ticket. Here he’s doing Down In The Alley. This feels like it’s in his set list already, it’s standard slow hand blues but it’s not forced. It’s got a groove.

mp3 : The Jeff Healey Band – Down In The Alley

The Cramps, Jailhouse Rock – Imagine this. It’s exactly as you’d imagine it. It’s fucking amazing. The Cramps loved Presley, long before the various cultural re-evaluations of the 90s / 00s / 10s. This is delivered with the frantic nerves you’d expect but I’m not going to use the phrase Psychobilly… except to say I’m not saying it.

mp3 : The Cramps – Jailhouse Rock

And now, ladies and gentlemen the band we’ve all been waiting for – Les Negresses Vertes performing Marguerita. I know, me neither. It’s the NME being the NME. I sometimes think the Ironic Review from TMWRNJ was entirely at the NME. Les Negresses Vertes do a good stab at this mind you. If it was the radio I wouldn’t turn it off. It’s got a nice brass section that feels like street music from a market from a naughty country in a James Bond film. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

mp3 : Les Negrettes Vertes – Marguerita

The penultimate song is Pop Will Eat Itself with Rock-A-Hula-Baby. It’s what you’d expect from them. It sounds like it was recorded in an afternoon with a casio keyboard and sampler. Probably was. Nice work. They keep singing ‘Elvis! El-El-El-El-Elvis’… it goes a bit Jive Bunny.

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Rock-A-Hula-Baby

The set ends with the man himself. Elvis PresleyKing of the Whole World from the Kid Galahad soundtrack. It’s session version with a false start . It’s got everything you’d want including some great lead guitar from Scotty Moore and the Jordanaires singing back up. Plus a sax solo that owns you 🙂

mp3 : Elvis Presley – King of the Whole Wide World

I reckon about a third of this record is good to excellent, a third being okay with the remaining third being mediocre at best with the exception of Stanshall who has gotten right on my tits.

STEVE

 

OKTOBERFEST

Goodness me…..is that the time of the year already?

mp3 : Various – Oktoberfest

Track Listing

Datsu. Hikage no onna – Otoboke Beaver
Profit In Your Poetry – Butcher Boy
Wood Beez – Scritti Politti
Blue For You – Paul Haig
Eat Your Heart Out – Hey! Elastica
Red Alert – Basement Jaxx
Pass The Mic – Beastie Boys
Chemical World – Blur
Don’t Call Me Jack – Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters
Violently Happy – Bjork
With Handclaps – Y’All Is Fantasy Island
Gut Feeling – Malcolm Middleton
Divine Hammer (single version) – The Breeders
Boyfriend – The Goon Sax
Here Comes A City – The Go-Betweens
B-Movie – Say Sue Me
Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting – The Twilight Sad

JC

PS : Many thanks for all your very kind words yesterday. Much appreciated.

TIME TO GET MOODY AND UNCOMMUNICATIVE

TVV turns 13 years old today.

30 September 2006 saw the first ever posting on the old blog which lasted till 24 July 2013 when Google/Blogger nuked it out of existence after 2,313 postings. Later that same day, like some sort of mythical being which gives you nightmares in fables or provides faith in religious writings, it rose from the dead and called itself T(n)VV and today’s is the 2,354 on the resurrected effort.

I’ve used all my fingers and toes and so it would seem that all told, that’s 4,667 posts all in, albeit there’s been a few repeats over the years and, of course, I can’t take the credit for everything as there have been hundreds of magnificent guest postings without which the place would have ground to a halt.

Even more ridiculous is the fact that the current blog has attracted almost 13,000 comments and while I don’t have the ability to count up how many were left behind over at the old place, I think it’s a fair assumption that there have been the equivalent of at least 20,000 letters to the editor up till now, and not too many have been of the disgruntled variety.

As I was reminded the other day, teenager is just another word for adolescent, and that many societies have some sort of formal ceremony to mark this stage in life. You lot will have to make do with a few relevant song titles:-

mp3 : The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
mp3 : X-Ray Spex – Germ-Free Adolescents
mp3 : The Delgados – Thirteen Gliding Principles
mp3 : Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent
mp3 : Sweet – Teenage Rampage
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Thirteen
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows

JC

HOMAGE TO CATALONIA

mp3 : Scot & Sager – Barcelona

Fortunately, my own recent visit to the Catalan capital didn’t result in any similarly bad experiences to those suffered by the late Jock Scot, as recalled in the opening track on the 2006 CD, The Caledonian Blues, on which Gareth Sager made and played the music (minimally) while the grizzled old poet and punk veteran rants and raves to terrific effect.

In fact, my experiences in Barcelona in September 2019 couldn’t have been any happier.

Arriving on a Thursday morning, on a flight direct from Glasgow that was very much on time, myself and Rachel (aka Mrs Villain) rocked up at the hotel of choice to be informed that, as returning guests, we were being given an upgrade to a larger room which came with its own private terrace that proved to be a bit of a suntrap. The day was spent doing a bit of wandering around and re-aquainting ourselves with the city, and at night we returned to a tiny restaurant we had visited last year, delighted to find there was space to squeeze us in and that the food was every bit as exceptional and well-priced as before.

Friday saw the arrivals, from California, of Jonny the Friendly Lawyer (JTFL) and Goldie the Friendly Therapist, who were traveling to Spain for a 10-day city/beach holiday as part of an extended birthday celebration for the latter. I’d met Jonny before, both pre and post-gig when his band The Ponderosa Aces had played in Manchester in 2017, but this was a new experience for Mrs V while neither of us knew what to expect from Goldie. We spent the whole evening and all of the Saturday with our American friends – when we weren’t on the move or sightseeing, we were sitting drinking/eating in some very fine establishments, during which we talked endlessly about so many different things, but particularly love, life, work, music and achievements (but not in any boastful way!). The stay was topped-off with all four of us going to the Barcelona v Valencia football match on the Saturday evening, after which there were farewell drinks and promises made to hook up again soon, either in Scotland or California.

It was yet another example of how an incredible and strong bond has emerged as a result of this blogging nonsense. Jonny was the one who, years ago, came up with the JTFL as his moniker when he decided he wanted to leave comments on the blog. Friendly doesn’t come close to describing the man, for he is turns charming, articulate, generous, intelligent and witty among many other things. Above all else, he is completely down-to-earth and as easy-going as anyone I’ve ever met, about as far removed from any stereotype you would apply to someone of his chosen profession, especially one whose main professional activities centre around the cesspit of Los Angeles and whose upbringing was in New York.

It was an absolute joy to find that Goldie is as every bit as friendly as her partner/husband of some 30 years and the four of us couldn’t have gotten along any better over the entire time. It was inevitable that myself and JTFL would end up yakking for ages about our love for music and the things we know we have in common, but it was incredible to find that Rachel and Goldie share many common interests to the extent that they could have been sisters separated at birth.

Goldie, like her husband, is an incredible conversationalist, no matter the subject matter, but it was particularly enjoyable to listen to stories and incidents from throughout their lives, of how they came to be together and of how they encouraged one another to be a success in their chosen fields. They talked with real pride of their two kids – Sam and Jane – both of whom have been encouraged to make the most of the artistic/creative talents they have inherited through the genes. In return, our American friends wanted to hear about our family members and friends and to flesh out some of the stories mentioned over the years on TVV, particularly concerning the blogging fraternity whom I know or have met, which meant that a great deal was said about the Glasgow gathering of a few years back and the Simply Thrilled nights.

I think I’ve persuaded JTFL to share some more of his life stories via some future guest postings – you just can’t say that you were seated next to Shirley Manson at dinner and not tell the TVV readership how that came about.

mp3 : Garbage – Push It

Here’s to the next time. Quite probably over to a part of the world that has so beguiled David Gedge:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – California
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Santa Monica
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Spider-Man on Hollywood

JC

AN OLD POST IN WHICH I TOOK THE PISS

KLASSIC KUTS : As seen over the old blog on 4 April 2010

It’s a small wonder that so many of the really special bands to emerge out of the shadows in the first decade of the 21st Century have names that begin with the letter ‘K’ .

Especially so, when you consider that other than perhaps The Kinks and Kraftwerk, it is a letter that hasn’t contributed much in terms of musical heritage over the past 40 years (and no, I don’t include Kiss as being one of the great bands of all time).

But look around you now.

Keane. Kaiser Chiefs. The Killers. Kasabian. Kings Of Leon.

A real nap hand of the ideal line-up at any summer festival. The only problem would be deciding who should top the bill…..

And just look at the great connection there is with football.

Keane – named after a truly sensational player
Kaiser Chiefs – named after a famous team
Kasabian – chosen to be the band to launch the new England away strip

And I suppose stretching a little bit, I can offer:-

The Killers – named after a cult English footballer?
Kings of Leon – named after a succesful Mexican side?

Some of you might sneer, but I don’t think we will appreciate just how incredibly rich the musical scene is today until at least 10 or 15 years down the line. After all, it’s not all that long ago since the 80s were re-assessed after many years of being singled out as possibly the most insipid and vacuous decade, and now many of us, particularly readers of JC’s very fine blog, look back and realise that it was an era of great music. And I reckon history will be kind to the noughties, thanks in large part to the special K’s.

It was back in 2004 that Keane took the pop world by storm. The songs on the compelling and amazing debut Hopes and Fears showed that you don’t need loud guitars or quirky synths to record memorable tunes. Not only were they an overnight commercial success, but the critical acclaim through two BRIT Awards and being given the #1 slot in the Best Albums of 2004 by the hugely influential Q Magazine showed just how welcome this new sound was amidst too many dull and samey indie guitar bands.

mp3 : Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

Twelve months later, it was the turn of the a fabulous five-piece from Leeds to take the nation by storm with their infectious hooks, chant-along choruses and hugely energetic live shows. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that the first two singles released by Kaiser Chiefs didn’t set the charts alight, but thanks to sheer hard graft that involved constant touring, they soon got the fan base they richly deserved. Not only did debut LP Employment sell over 1.5 million copies, but the early singles got the reward denied them early on when re-released versions went Top 10.

mp3 : Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God

The Killers are a band that really defy definition. The indie kids love them. The rock fans adore them. The teenyboppers think the singer is sexy. And yet, it took quite a while before I believed there was more to them than just a 21st century tribute band to latter-day New Order. The early singles took the charts by storm – Somebody Told Me and Mr Brightside were never off the radio and are probably the songs most folk associate with the band. But it was the band’s third single that really showed the depth of talent that they possess – the ability to write and record grown-up anthemic love songs that would become the blueprint of Sam’s Town and Day & Age, their subsequent albums in 2006 and 2008 both of which should be in every serious muso’s collection:-

mp3 : The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

And just like the band mentioned above, Kasabian are another act who have gotten truly great with each successive release. The songs from the self-titled debut LP in 2004 were nothing truly special – they felt like a just another middling indie-band with a hint of dance-floor beats that had listened to loads of Stone Roses records when they were younger. But the release of Empire, both the single and the album, in 2006 was one of the true highlights of the noughties. Overcoming the loss of one of their key members due to ‘artistic and creative differences’, the band released a true epic that will surely always find a spot high up in the critics polls of the greatest albums of all time. The single went Top 10 on downloads alone…and the album went to #1 in the UK as well as Top Ten in Japan.

mp3 : Kasabian – Empire

Now I know I said earlier that it would be difficult to decide who would headline any Special K festival, but I reckon the common consensus would be the Followill boys from Nashville, Tennessee.

All of their earlier releases – Youth and Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) and Because Of The Times (2007) are tremendous LPs that perfectly blend indie, blues and rock in a way that no other band has ever managed to do. And there was no better live act doing the rounds in that five year period. But this was merely the prelude to the masterpiece that was Only By The Night, released in September 2008.

Lead single Sex On Fire is probably the most recognisable rock track released since Smells Like Teen Spirit back in the early 90s. Look at the facts. It is the second-most downloaded digital single ever in the UK. In an era when 100,000 copies of a single is regraded as a good result, Sex On Fire had recorded 747,713 sales exactly 12 months after its release. It spent 42 successive weeks in the UK Top 75, only dropping out when a glut of Michael Jackson singles stormed the charts in the wake of his death. But two weeks later, Sex On Fire returned to the Top 75.

As of 28 March 2010, it has now spent 79 weeks on the Top 75, making it the 3rd longest runner of all time and the longest for a #1 single, and 81 weeks in the Top 100. Some 18 months after it was first released, it is still at #68 on the charts and it has now sold over 930,000 copies. Truly mind-blowing.

The thing is…..just about every other track on the LP is equally as good. So it is no surprise that the record-buying public the world over have taken Only By The Night to their hearts, with around 6.5 million sales.

mp3 : Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody

It really would be a magical day if the various promoters could pool their resources and get all five of these bands on the one bill – but there’s no way just a single day would meet the demand for tickets.

And of course, the venue would have to be the legendary Knebworth………

The Ghost Of Troubled Joe, Sunday 4 April 2010

JC adds……you know this blog is in trouble when I’m reduced to reviving such nonsense that originally involved me using a pseudonym.  But it is Friday the 13th….and I am currently on holiday!

THE CLASS OF 79

An hour-long themed mixtape….and if I had a magic time-machine, it’s what I’d have played if I could have DJ’d at Mrs Villain’s 21st Birthday party, which would have been 40 years ago today……and a full decade before we first met!

mp3 : Various – The Class of ’79 (volume 1)

Tracklist

The Clash – I Fought The Law
Squeeze – Up The Junction
Blondie – Heart of Glass
The Specials – Gangsters
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Joy Division – Transmission
The Jam – Strange Town
Wire – On Returning
The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging
Gary Numan – Cars
OMD – Electricity
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
The B52’s – Rock Lobster
Gang Of Four – Damaged Goods
Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Undertones – Get Over You

I’ve a feeling that further volumes will follow in due course, given that I’ve failed to include so many great songs from that particular year.

JC