Archive for the books Category

Funky Friday – A Crash Course For The Ravers

Posted in 60's, before they were famous, books, bowie, Funky Friday, mod on November 7, 2008 by planetmondo
“Your flashy clothes are your pride and joy ” David Bowie – The London Boys

Bowie, Bolan, Bryan Ferry, Eno (and Rod Stewart) all made the breakthough from cult undergrounders to interstellar superstars as variants on the star-spangled glitterkid theme. They may have had stars in/on their eyes, but those platform boots were firmly grounded in Mod roots. The look sharp and look ahead apprenticeship of Mod, with it’s made to measure mix of American soul and Italian style, Ivy League look meets British dandyism – and an eye for the detail and an ear for a tune, was probably why Bowie (and the other moonage mods mentioned) endured beyond the best-before date and lipstick-brickie chic of their patent leather peers.

The sixties scene was an era Bowie referenced from his earliest recordings (London Boys) and one of the motifs and influences that’s remained a constant throughout his peacock career – mentions of Lennon, Beatles and Stones on various singles. Twiggy and Jagger getting name checked on Aladdin Sane (along with a Stones cover), Pin Up’s set of swinging London standards and Young Americans (covering classics like ‘Knock On Wood’ and ‘Footstomping’ during live shows), and pitching in with ‘Pictures of Lily’ on The Who tribute album through to the slim-fit suit on ‘Reality’ being almost a homecoming to the Lord John look pictured above…

David Bowie and The Lower ThirdCan’t Help Thinking About Me

(There’s a clip of Bowie on his mod days, Steve Marriot and a 1999 version of ‘CHTAM’here)

David BowieIn The Heat Of The Morning – (BBC version)

(The Last Shadow Puppets made a healthy go of ‘INTHOTM’)


Davie Jones and the King Bees
Louie Louie Go Home

(LLGH was the B-side of Bowie’s first single “Liza Jane”)

Ziggy Stardust – The Mod Who Fell To Earth

A note on the tunes….and a Bowie Bonus

Can’t Help Thinking About Me (1965)

The first recording to feature the newly named David ‘Bowie’, and almost a blueprint of Bowieness the outsider lyrics and ambiguous angst of “my head’s bowed in shame” “blackened the family name” to the set piece template of semi-spoken verse and Bowie-bellow on the chorus, it’s a tune that wouldn’t seem out of place on any album since Scary Monsters.

In The Heat Of The Morning (1970)
For my earth pounds the BBC take of this tune is superior to the official album version, and benefits from being enhanced by the extra bounce of Alan Hawkshaw’s fantastically funky keyboard coda.

The Beatstalkers (touted as the Scottish Beatles), were under Ken Pitt’s management at the same time as Bowie (and also signed to Decca). They were offered first refusal on any unused Bowie compositions or offcuts, ‘Silver Tree Top School For Boys’ is one of these, and Bowie penned ‘Penny Lane-alike‘ from 1967.

The Beatstalkers (1967)- Silver Tree Top School For Boys

I am on something of a Bowie buzz lately (two Bo’ posts in two weeks) brought on by reading the Fantistico Dave Thompson book To Major Tom – a gem and a joy of a read if you’re into any type of music or movement from Bowie’s catchment era

Advertisements

The Book Of Revelation

Posted in 1977, 70's, books, Punk, Questions and Answers, retromania, Sex Pistols on September 16, 2008 by planetmondo

The Sex Pistols last pre – Bill Grundy ‘Filth and Fury’ interview, was by Barry Cain for Record Mirror – click on the photo to supersize the original article….

If Nick Cohn’s Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom is Ye Olde Testament of Rock, the New (Wave) Testament being Jon Savage’s Englands Dreaming, then Barry Cain’s 77 Sulphate Strip is surely the Dead Sea Scrolls, revived and risen again from the russet coloured copies of his Record Mirror reports, reviews and interviews, and scrapbooked against a lip-smacking-ace-tasting-page-turning-eye-bulging micro dot-to-dot diary of the key moments, movers, groovers and shakers of 1977. The year that groups of grey-faced, straight-laced politicians and hair flare bunches of prog and pop stars went twelve rounds against a fistful of prickly punks. 365 days with more dynamics, dramatics and dualility than any year since pop records began.

After his stretch at Record Mirror, Barry went on to launch Flexipop, one the snappiest music mag’s ever published, I found a few copies in the loft recently and had forgotten how they crackle with facts, fun and features – including a genius parody of The Face’s famous ’82 ‘Hard Times’ cover – ‘Really Hard Times’ starring two turps glugging tramps which perfectly burst The Face’s snoot-nosed, yell and bellow bubble .

So some questions for Barry Cain then….

77 Sulphate Strip is one of only a handful of rock books I’ve read without any acknowledgment or nod to The Beatles – it’s like they never existed. Was this the mood at the time?
No. The Beatles meant everything to me and most my mates throughout the sixties. They were my teenage idols and helped take the sting out of those years. There’s an unsubtle homage in the names of the characters in Streatham Locarno at the beginning of Strip. I stopped dancing to The Beatles after Rubber Soul because that’s when they started inviting me back to their place – via the Pye Black Box in my bedroom – where I could listen to their darkest thoughts. They changed the way I thought, simple as that. And thank you, for your very kind words. They mean so much. Incidentally, one of the ‘Hard Times’ tramps in the picture is my dad who will be 91 this year and was, I guess, my fifth Beatle. I was an only child and my parents (my mum is 81) have had four dogs all dying tragically and leaving my mum and dad desperate and bewildered. The last one, Bobby, a cute black poodle, died a week ago in my dad’s arms, and it’s eating them both alive. I buried Bobby in my back garden alongside the previous two and that nearly fucking killed me. I felt like some canine-killing version of Fred West.

Sorry to veer off the path , it’s just worrying me right now.
Pray, continue.

How did you go from being part of a Motown loving Boot Boy and Suede head set to becoming Record Mirror journalist?
Pure genius! If you came from a council estate in London at the time, you became either a straight, a skinhead or, if you took a lot of hallucinatory drugs, a working class hippy. It got interesting when the skinheads got into hallucinatory drugs in the late sixties, but that’s another tale. It was rare to stay on at school after 16 but I went to a grammar and emerged, at 18, with two low grade A Levels. I always kept my school friends and my flats’ friends far apart. As a result, I became, around 15, two people – schoolboy and coolboy. Two heads are better than one and after a bit of luck and a lot of graft, I went from trainee court reporter to indentured journalist on a local paper to entertainments’ editor to Record Mirror. That’s a Yellowbrick Road a lot less travelled these days.

Your first meeting with Rotten reads like a snake charmer being hypnotised by the snake – have you met any other performers with a similar charisma?
Malcolm McLaren. He and Rotten both possess the ability to paint stark pictures with barrages of meticulously chosen words that give delight and hurt not. They’re in a class of their own. Joe Strummer was a little boy lost who dug his way out of his nightmare with remarkable songs and a hunk of devotion that swept me away. Paul Weller was hopelessly devoted to rue, the secret behind his genius. Hugh Cornwell and Jean Jacques-Burnel were deepsea divers in the psyche and there was nowt more challenging than a Stranglers interview. The Damned had collective charisma – they were the commie punk band. Who else? Barry White, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney? Heaps of charisma. But not a patch on Malcolm and Johnny.

In 77 the Pistols were possibly the most hated band in history. It wasn’t just the older generation or other youth movements that were anti-Punk, but politicians, musicians, record exec’s, DJs and almost everyone who wasn’t directly involved with the Pistols (or Punk) that seemed to despise them. Do you think it’s possible we’ll ever see such international outrage caused by a single rock act again?
Impossible. Music has popped its cork. It’s no longer the force of nature it was (what an old git). Outside the X Factor comfort zone, records just don’t sell that much anymore. That’s why TOTP was dumped. That’s why Smash Hits, RM, Sounds, Melody Maker all fell by the wayside. How many generations to go before music is just a bowl of cherries? Before life gets in the way? Before its portability and a few billion options make it futile, obvious, an easy lay? I give it twenty years, tops. My kids’ kids will give the odd flying fuck for a stunning song. Their kids? Different world. Different ballgame. Different tune.

For a movement that was all momentum and ‘of the moment’, Punk styles, sounds, designs and influences are still with us and everywhere from US metal to Top Shop clobber. What do you think has kept Punk (and New Wave) enduring without dating?
Punk was all about bright minds in bondage who wanted to fuck off out of old Durham Town. Sleepy time girls and the boys of summer dancing to a ’77 beat. Punk’s callous, disruptive demands – an anathema to Joe Public – could dislodge reality in exciting minds and create innovation. Originality breeds contempt and contempt breeds originality. It was a vicious circle that has continued to spin unabated like a flaming Catherine wheel shooting flames in every direction. And you didn’t need a voice like Sinatra’s to make the punters sway. Lapsed punks haunt the corridors of power.

I loved the piece about your mum and dad and the pub scene with the piano players, costermongers and comedians having a sing-a-long. Do you think the real seventies get overlooked with all the novelty nostalgia and ‘Abbafication’ of that decade?
I don’t think there ever was a real seventies. It was the itsy-bitsy-no-focus post Beatles decade kicking off with dross, glam, Philly, dross, New York disco, dross and ABBA. It welcomed punk with open arms, shook hands with high-street ska, gave birth to the New Romantics and invented Freddie Mercury. If you were in your late twenties in 1970 the next ten years meant fuck all really. You wouldn’t get it. The seventies had to be ‘Abbafied’ because the sixties were too sad.

Caining It – Barry with beard and Buzzcocks

Malcolm McLaren once said “I have brought you many things in my time” which included breaking Punk, World Music and Hip Hop, but equally there’s a trail of broken relationships and bad blood.” What’s your take on him – genius or jinx?
Genius. I mentioned in the book that Malcolm asked me to ‘ghost’ write his autobiography in 1979. I got to know him as well as anyone after countless interview sessions in my living room over a three-month period. He made me dance all night and still beg for more. He’s the Brian Clough of pop who should’ve managed England. Knowing Malcolm, I think love got in the way – he’s an incurable romantic. But we should all be thankful he turned the world dayglo.

In the book, the music press seem just as hardcore and heavy living as the bands – almost like The Sweeney with press passes rather than police badges. Were there a few juicy nuggets, tear ups and tales you couldn’t include?.
Yes.

If you could beam back to 1977 and take someone aside for a word of advice – who would it be, and what would you say?
It would be me, I’m afraid, and I’d say, ‘Don’t get married, keep your finger on your trigger and put all your money on Man Utd winning the FA Cup, Red Rum winning the Grand National and The Minstrel winning the Derby’. Oh, and to Sid Vicious I’d say, ‘Go for it’.

The Damned, The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, The Wolfmen (Marco from The Models and Adam and The Ants new band), Carbon Silicon (Tony James and Mick Jones) have all released new albums over the last few years. Have you heard any of the original Punk players’ new songs?
I saw Hugh Cornwell play live a year or so back – great show at Scala – and downloaded his impressive Hoover Dam album, but that’s about it. I don’t listen to much music these days and when I do it tends to be through headphones attached to my laptop as I write. Usually, it’s Michael McDonald’s tribute to Motown, which is just wonderful, interspersed with Steely Dan. I’m a dude. Hey dude, don’t make it bad. Just let it out and let it in.

You were involved with Flexipop, are there any plans for an 80s sequel to 77 SS using Flexipop as source material?
Writing it now. Starts in 1978 when I resigned from Record Mirror, teamed up with then PR guru now PR mogul, Alan Edwards, running a punk PR company out of a Covent Garden squat, discovered I wasn’t cut out for a career as a publicist, became a freelance writer and spent the next two years travelling the world with rock stars, doing big, fat, hairy interviews. It ends 20 years later with the death of pop. Don’t worry, there’s not much to tell after ’84. I launched Flexipop together with my ex-partner Tim Lott (now, of course, a hugely successful novelist) in 1980, and after three bizzarre years I found myself alone, publishing mainly one shot poster mags on pop’s latest flames which I continued to do for the next decade and a half. Got myself a family, a house, a Porsche. Cost myself contacts, desire, drive. Naturally, I blamed everyone but myself for those sad losses – complacency is a cancer of the spirit. But if you catch it early, the prognosis is good. Life can be groovy again Oh, and there’s a few twists and a fucking shitload of watusis. The book should be available this time next year, if anyone has any money by then….

If you were a Record Mirror reporter in 2008 – what would get you picking up your pen and pad, and who would you be trying to interview or avoid?
The song Distant Dreamer made popular by Duffy, who rocked my boat when I saw her perform it at Glastonbury. The version by MC Almont & Butler is a work of art. Pop music at its finest. I think Leona Lewis has an incredible voice. I’d love to interview her. And Duffy. Shit, I sound like an old perve. Who else? Paul Weller, for old times’ sake; Eminem., for Pete’s sake; Alex from Big Brother, for fucksake. That’s five cracking interviews.
Never avoided an interview in my life.

And finally, are there two tunes one Pop, one Punk that sum up 1977 for you?
Anarchy In The UK and Anarchy In The UK.

Anarchy In The UK – from the Filth and Fury

Anarchy In The UK – Early version, slightly rowdier than the single, but possibly my fave take.

Anarchy In The UK (EMI rejected 7″ Single Version) with alt.solos

Anarchy In The UK – Los Punkrockers – yes it’s those crazy punko latinos again.

Beam back to summer of 77 by clicking on the pic’


77 Sulphate Strip MySpace site

The Sound Of The Suburbs

Posted in 1977, 70's, books, charity shop classics, Cover Versions, disco, Punk, Remake Remodel, retromania, Sex Pistols on July 28, 2008 by planetmondo


1977 may have been the big bang/year zero of Punk, but while the world crash, burned and turned dayglo, the UK singles and album charts stayed strictly beige, and a gallery of beards and Bri-Nylon, not bondage and black leather. It may have been anarchy and white riots in the city, but the real sound of the suburbs was glam girls with Farah flicks in disco dresses and bouffant chaps in cheesecloth and satin.

I’ve read far too many books on the UK Punk scene – three on the bounce so far this year, but none of then have the same snap, sparkle, spit and polish as Barry Cain’s 77 Sulphate Strip, which has gone straight in at number 1 in my ‘pile high club’ of rock reads.

Taking a year (1977) in the life of a Record Mirror’s initially reluctant’Punk’ reporter, 77 Sulphate Strip scrapbooks the combustion and contrast of Seditionaries Punk and ‘Sing Something Simple’ style Pop by prologuing each chapter with the best selling singles and albums for that month (there’s hardly a spikey top in sight) followed by reviews and interviews from Barry Cain’s original Record Mirror features on the Pistols, The Stranglers, The Heartbreakers, The Jam, The Damned and Demis Roussos while threading in offstage stories and anecdotes of scams, schemes, scary Dutch hells angels, dodgy raffles, girl chasing, globe trotting and living at home with mum and dad. I can’t recommend it enough. It is simply, one the finest pieces of music writing ever published.

I was too young for Punk in 1977 and could only afford Pop at pocket money prices – so why buy just one real deal single, when you can have a full albums worth of soft focus sound-alikes?

Like these taken from ‘The Best Of Top Of The Pops 77’
I Feel Love

Way Down

Hey Ho Let’s Go – click on the pic for more info

GLC Councilor Comments On Punk.

Is The Queen A Moron? Sex Pistols on the GSTQ single

Not me in the picture BTW

Never Mind The Boleros

Posted in 1977, 70's, books, Cover Versions, mark vidler, new wave, Punk, Sex Pistols on June 11, 2008 by planetmondo


I’ve just finished two excellent spiky top books on the bounce..

John Robb – ‘Punk Rock: An Oral History’

Alan Parker – ‘Sid Vicious,No One is Innocent’

Both map out the cultural earthquake shake up and chain reaction of cluster bomb bands that exploded following the big bang of punk – all documented from a ground zero perspective by bit part players and punk aristocrats.

So some contrast and compare, pre and post ’77 tracks then…

An audience recording of the Sex Pistols (who were an unsigned band at the time) live in Burton on Trent from September 24th 1976 – check out Matlock’s rubber ball basslines.
No Feelings – Live at the 76 Club

By 1978 the world really had turned dayglo, and a Spanish punk band calling themselves Los Punkrockers tried to rework NMTB blow for blow.
No Feelings – Los Punkrockers

To bring us up to date Mark Vidler’s Cher at Seditionaries bootleg remix.
No Feelings 4 Cher

And as bonus from ‘Party ‘Til You Puke’ here’s the NMTB demo version of …
No Feelings (demo)

Pyjamarama

Posted in 70's, books, glam, perfect pop, rock, roxy music on February 27, 2008 by planetmondo

Inspired by completing this today (where Ferry gets much more of a roasting than is strictly necessary) and tuning into this from Mick over at Raiding The Vinyl Archive – I’m on a right ol’ Roxy buzz.

So how about the overlooked and underplayed great ‘ lost‘ single ‘Pyjamarama’ – apparantley the band never rated it and even Eno claimed ‘ Do The Strand’ should have been released instead. Nonsense I say! ‘Pyjamarama’ is perfect pop – all fizz and glitter, like Motown gone glam, and conforms to Paul Morley’s theory that all pop songs are truly great if…

“you can imagine them being sung by Elvis”.

Roxy Music – Pyjamarama.mp3

And a Roxy refresher (like anyone who’s read this far needs it!!)

How great they were…

Roxy Music – ‘Ladytron'(1973)

And still are….

Roxy Music – ‘Remake/Remodel'(2001)

Rolling Stoner

Posted in 60's, 70's, books, guitar, rock, Rolling Stones on January 14, 2008 by planetmondo


I read the Ron Wood biog’ last week, which is pretty much 350ish pages of drunken stumbles, lucky breaks and bad investments. But it left me thinking what must it be like to be a Rolling Stone? Possibly not too dissimilar to this….

Waiting on a Friend.

*Stoner update – I’ve just found out (via searching Friends Reunited)that I used to go the same Youth Club as Ronnie’s Sister in Law. I knew he’d made a few local appearances attended gigs, been spotted in pubs etc – all makes sense now.*

As an extra here’s a tune I came up with a couple of years ago. Well, it’s not really a tune – it’s a 1 take piece of tat that took 10 minutes to crack out as an experiment in ‘open G’ tuning. Open G is a technique regularly employed by Keith Richards, it’s the heart of the Stones sound and more importantly saves having to faff around remembering endless fancy chord shapes (nice and easy if your feeling a bit ‘relaxed’ of an evening). Tune the guitar to open G and one simple shape fits all frets. Please excuse any clunker notes and blame them on first take nerves.

Stoner.mp3

Les Paul – He’s a Real Person and He’s Still Alive

Posted in books, guitar, les paul, music, rock, YOUTUBE on August 22, 2007 by planetmondo

The phrase “Les Paul” is regularly bounced around like a brand name, but unless you’re a guitar player, music anorak or Jazz fan – you may not have realised there is a real life Mr Les Paul.

This 2 minute mini clip is Les in action, and shows all you need to know about modern guitar playing in under 3 minutes – rocking riffs & rythms, cool chords, bouncing bass and shredding lead.

Les Paul is the Leonardo Da Vinci of modern music. He invented multi track recording, but most importantly designed and built the solid body electric guitar as we know it today. Guitars which, as Nik Cohn says in Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom “Came on like space age musical monsters and, immediately, wiped out all of the politeness that had gone before”.

Les is a Jazzer rather than a Rocker, and if he’d have known that Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul would be wacked with a violin bow, Pete Townsend’s would be smashed to smoke and splinters, or seen what Bowie would do to Mick Ronson’s – he may well have burnt the blueprint.

Les Paul is 92 and still plays once a week at Iridium Jazz Club in New York.