The Gerard Langley Star Test

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The Blue Aeroplanes’ mainstay untangles his past…   1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price?   “Either ‘Stormcock’ by Roy Harper or ‘North Star Grassman & The Ravens’ by Sandy Denny, can’t remember which came first. And it would have been £2.40 from Wakefield’s Record Bar (behind the sweet shop on Wells Road, Bristol).”   2 What was the record … Read More

Lou And Frank Dig Doo-Wop

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It’s no secret that Lou Reed and Frank Zappa dug doo-wop. They both were involved with the genre in the early ‘60s; Reed was in a high school band, The Jades, who released a doo-wop 45 of their own and Zappa wrote and produced ‘Memories Of El Monte’ by The Penguins. He subsequently dabbled in the genre, writing and producing pre Mothers Of Invention, his love culminating in the Mothers’ … Read More

The Richard Davies Star Test

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  Richard Davies of Moles, Cardinal and Cosmos unveils his past misdemeanours…   1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price?   “I didn’t buy the first records I listened to. I inherited a few records from my sister Anne. A single of ‘Tell Him’ by The Exciters, a Beatles single from 1964, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ I think, Simon and … Read More

Cool For Cats

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Rampant bongos, strapping aggressive piano, a flute that must have been played by a guy wearing shades and all taken from a live performance captured at the Top Floor with readings by poet Pike Distahl. It’s ‘Like Beat… Man’ by Saroff And The Cool Ones. There’s a double bass played on hand too played by a guy who, given the chance, sidles up to the guitarist – but this is … Read More

Greeting From The Far North

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Feet Don’t Fail Me Now! A 20 track northern soul compilation on Fidelity   The most recent wave of interest in northern soul has come about through broadsheet articles, films and most recently a BBC arts show documentary that revealed a new generation of northern kids embracing the traditions of all night dancing, baggy trousers and life-threatening dance moves. It’s chin stroking stuff.   Meanwhile, the scene around this unique … Read More

“Radioactive mama, we’ll reach critical mass tonight…”

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It’s a teasing one-liner from Sheldon Allman’s Bill Haley-esque lip-curling sub rock ‘n’ roll opener from the 1960 “novelty” album ‘Folk Songs For The 21st Century’. Commandeering Haley’s idiosyncratic pout, Allman – a renowned TV actor – dug the exploitation of sci-fi tomfoolery and produced 14 mainly sub-two minute tunes filled with futuristic blurb about robots, humanoids, the fourth dimension, ESP, Big Brother and all points between. Sounding at times … Read More

Wherefore Art Thou, Kenyon?

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It’s over 50 years since Kenyon Hopkins was plying his trade, delivering distinctive jazz noir soundtracks to TV series in the States, boxing clever with sound effects, producing mood pieces that summed up your holiday, scoring an Elvis movie and providing the soundtrack scores for such legendary films as Baby Doll and 12 Angry Men. He toyed with the macabre on the truly way out ‘Nightmare’ album and summed up … Read More

Jowe Head’s Weird Sounds Compendium

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22 Good Reasons to Listen – Jowe Head’s Weird Sounds Compendium   1 Stomu Yamashta ‘One Way’ Used in Nicolas Roeg’s film The Man Who Fell To Earth. Such spooky sounds. Stomu is a classically trained percussionist, but so inventive. I saw him play in Birmingham in 1973, and he blew my mind with his dramatic stage presence, and his clever use of a violin bow on cymbals and other conventional percussion instruments. … Read More

To Know Them Is To Love Them… The First Pop Songs, 1950 – 1962

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During the post war depression, fuelled by gentle, unchallenging orchestral sounds and light music, the ration-booked masses were lulled into an advanced state of slumber by layered strings and discreet melodies. Pop music stopped all of that and provided the emerging teenage generation with a soundtrack to their lives.   The dictionary explanation of the term mentions “an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal “artistic” qualities,” and the fact that … Read More

The Jowe Head Top 20

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20 tracks from the man from Swell Maps, Television Personalities and various other intriguing combo’s…   (not strictly chronological, more a stream of consciousness)   1 Swell Maps: ‘Full Moon (Dub)’ I was astonished when the others in the band did a mix of ‘Full Moon’, originally our motorik rhythm-driven homage to Can, using the crazed vocal in isolation treated with heavy repeated echo, without the backing track.  I would … Read More

I Love The Sound Of Breaking Amps

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“Sometimes I can’t work out why the audience is here. Why they stick around. It sometimes gets quite oppressive, like they are deliberately trying to wait me out, to see how far it goes,” So said Wreckless Eric prior to his short set at This Corner Of England on Sunday in darkest (the clouds were omnipresent, the rain hammered down) London Fields. The weather itself seemed like it wanted to … Read More

When The Spirit Is Worried – When Rainer Went Solo

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  It’s the era of grunge. ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ and its accompanying video clip is a revealing slice of high school unconfidential. Tattoos and tantrums, guitars set to overload, America is all about Seattle’s rainy realism. It’s 1992. Nothing will ever be the same again.   Further South, the heat is on. Rainer Ptacek’s debut solo album was released – he’d already dallied with Das Combo and impressed both … Read More

Being Overjoyed

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Or getting inside the heads of Half Japanese – The Overjoyed mini documentary. What R Stevie Moore thinks about Half Japanese What Peter Buck thinks about Half Japanese

Take Me Back To The Lone Star State – Rainer And Das Combo – The Texas Tapes

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  I met ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons once, at the MOJO Honours List in London. He’d come along with Jeff Beck to receive the Gibson Les Paul Award. At the time I had a pretty spectacular beard often referred to as Top-esque. He made a b-line for me on the red carpet and, from behind a well-trimmed chin, he gave it a tug and said, “You’ll have to better than … Read More

In Search Of The Inner Flame

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  I’ve been in the desert around Tucson, and later Phoenix, Arizona, it’s hot and uncompromising at times… but beautiful. There seems to be a never-ending highway spiralling somewhere and dust clouds stirred up by who knows what, occasionally this strange serenity will be punctured by a super-long train clacking by – a procession that seems to be the length and breadth of the whole state. In such a climate, … Read More

Bring Back Proper Pop Stars

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Time for new a petition. Forget Brexit and the election, it’s already become tedious and unconvincing, let’s start a few campaigns that actually mean something. Let’s have Harry Styles sent to the isle Of man in exile and encourage pop stars to be more like Sir Adam Of Ant back in the good old days of Smash Hits – you know it makes sense. Sign up today.

IN SEARCH OF NOSTALGIA

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It’s the Vinyl Villain site again, this time (back in 2014) focussing on The Television Personalities debut single ‘Where’s Bill Grundy Now?’/’Part Time Punks’ which he reasons was the inspiration for Alan McGee’s Creation Records which obviously gave the world – eventually – Oasis, Primal Scream, and also gave a spark to the whole grunge movement by inspiring Kurt Cobain. The site also recognises the legacy and songwriting of the … Read More

Psychedelicised questions in the house of Fire (Part 5)

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1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price? “I was initially into soul music in the early 1970s. The first single I bought was ‘I’ll Take You There’ by Staple Singers; I was also digging Temptations, Four Tops, Undisputed Truth, Sly Stone and that cool vein of psych-soul with fuzzy guitars and spaced-out lyrics. This led to an interest in rock … Read More

Make Your Own: The Blue Aeroplanes’ Comp

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Check out the Vinyl Villain site here, for their imaginary compilation of The Blue Aeroplanes by Mike Melville, along with an in-depth piece reasoning on the chosen tracks. Recognising that the band had the original Bez, Mike takes a very personal look at their history, the fact that REM loved them, their on/off relationship with the majors, their ‘Welcome Stranger’ album, the fact that their B-sides were phenomenal, concluding with … Read More

How Cool Are These?

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Wow, it’s The Who trading cards back when they were young and possibly not quite innocent, on a Beatles/Help! styled ski-ing jaunt. Crazy – nice jumper Pete! And, Keith, looking good! .

Quo Revivalists Congregate

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The repercussions of headbanging to the Quo are plainly obvious, but having the theme tune to Laureal And Hardy and Popeye in your rpertoire would be too much for Simon Cowell we’re sure.

Blue Aeroplanes Back In The Day

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Check out the word of The Blue Aeroplanes’ Gerard Langley as he pontificates on the quality of poetry in the world of rock. Jim Morrison gets a right old savaging. Vlassic stuff from the archive of Undeground magazine from, oh, maybe a million years ago. More to come…

Jumpers For Goalposts

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Snazzy evening wear from Sir Elton as he presents his very own pinball machine, only a matter of time before The Blue Aeroplanes have one we think. And what about an Einsturzende Neubauten jumper to keep the cold out? Perfecto!

Loving The Television Personalities’ ‘A Sense Of Belonging’

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It was ten years ago and prolific scribe John Carney’s excellent Shivers Inside series was spiraling to an end but not before he pontificated on this glorious Television Personalities’ 45 and the hint of the bleak. And, at some length   “The new TVPs recordings were meant to be pretty bleak. We know that now of course because those songs became ‘The Painted Word’, much later, and of course it’s … Read More

Unbelievably, yet more words of wisdom from the house (of Fire)

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1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price? ‘Zorro And The Oranges’ [Picture-sleeve 7” story record]. Bought in the early ‘70s for less than NZ$1:00 at Terry’s Music Store, Dunedin.   2 What was the record that changed your life and how did it do so? ’Ziggy Stardust’ – an epiphany because first listen as a grumpy, misunderstood early-teen was also … Read More

It was 20 years ago…

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Later this year it will be 20 years since the sad passing of legendary guitarist Rainer Ptacek. Heralded by everyone from Robert Plant and Evan Dando to Howe Gelb and PJ Harvey, he was a journeyman, a played who complimented other artists but also had a distinctive beautiful sound himself. In the far from acrid watery early summer in the UK, his spacious performances wafted me away during a warm … Read More

The Mystery Of The Peanut Duck

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The world of northern soul is littered with tracks that were covered up or mis-titled so that no-one could locate what they were. The practice was common in the early ‘70s at Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca where luring people to those nights was paramount. But it was the 1980s when the mystery of Marsha Gee’s ‘Peanut Duck’ came about.   The Dangerous Minds site put its ten penneth in … Read More

One For The Road

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The lovely Nico pre-Velvets advertising a beverage for the times. Good old Terry Brandy.

Yet More Questions From The House (Of Fire)

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    1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price?   The first album I bought was Marty Robbins’ ‘Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs’. I think I was six years old. I don’t remember the price, but it couldn’t have been much. I was given a bit of money on my birthday, and that’s what I did with it. I no … Read More

What’s In The Cupboard, Elvis

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Only a matter of time before some bright spark starts producing these for mass consumption. After all we already can buy dirt from Graceland.

Evan Declares War On Bush!

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It was back in 2003, March 19 to be exact in HMV on Oxford Street in the days when HMV sold CDs and even had an alt-country section. The launch of the MOJO Honours List was heralded with a live performance in-store by Evan Dando to coincide with stellar reviews of his just released ‘Baby, I’m Bored’ album (now re-issued on Fire as a lavish box set). In a strange … Read More

Further Questions from the House (Of Fire)

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    1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price? ‘See Emily Play’ by the Pink Floyd from Boots in Northampton in 1967. I think it was in the region of six or seven shillings. (I won ten shillings on Red Alligator in the Grand National that year.)   2 What was the record that changed your life and how did … Read More

Surfing The Beard Of Felt

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It’s only a mini Moondog made of felt! What else could a grown man want. Part of the legacy of outsider tat currently available for a pretty penny at the Hey Kids Rock ‘n’ Roll site (Find it here). The site also boasts dioramas of Delia Derbyshire, jumping Adam Ants and all sorts of essential reconstructions.   According to Wikipediia, Moondog, real name Louis Thomas Hardin, was a “blind American … Read More

Questions From The House (Of Fire)

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    1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price? It was an EP by Johnny Duncan & The Blue Grass Boys with ‘Last Train To San Fernando’ on it (plus three others). That was about 1957/8. I was either four or five, and it was from National Radio of St John’s Wood High Street. I would have had it bought … Read More

Totally Wired With Julian Cope

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At the end of the ‘80s, Channel 4’s Star Test was a surprisingly lengthy blind question treat, probing into people’s lives. Comedians and pop stars of the day, a few actors and DJs, politicians were asked to select a category and answer a variety of questions about faith and fortune, hopes and fears, sweet and sour subject matter. The roll call included Tony James of Sigue Sigue Sputnik (formerly Gen … Read More

How Cool Was Carole King?

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  Two prime examples of the genius of Carole King lurking on Youtube, her original demo’s of The Monkees’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and the Head tune ‘Popoise Song’. Amazing!  

L’albume classique

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Pre-Brexit positive vibes from French publication Folk And Rock. No, we’ve no idea what it says but how cool is it to include Bacharach, The Bee Gees and The Left Banke in a review?

Abba Dabba Do

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It’s Bjorn with cut-out clothes, what greater accolade could a love-struck singer songwriter receive? Especially liking the red outfit there.

A Book At Bedtime

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JC Brouchard’s Diary Of A Young Fan covers the years 1981 to 1984 and charts his obsession with The Television Personalities, Creation, the legendary Living Room venue and all points between. With a host of cool pics you can scan it online here or buy the actual thing.

Vintage Frond

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Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond in deep conversation in issue 26 of the legendary Bucketfull Of Brains fanzine, talking about his ‘Triptych’ album, his contribution to Mick Wills’ ‘Fern Hill’ project, acid jams and all that good stuff, including the idea of recording an album down the Fleet sewer – one that still sparks the imagination but hasn’t been brought into life yet. There’s also talk about the Frond’s … Read More

The World Has Gone Aladdin Sane Mad!

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As seen in the blog that’s dedicated to the flash that’s now part of a million households, from jumpers to dolls, roller skates to cup cakes, cushions to wallets. Find the site here.

Remembering Skip

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Today would have been the birthday of eccentric groover and one time member of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, Skip Spence. The cult icon recorded the buried treasure ‘Oar’ which, many moons later the world acclaimed as a long forgotten slice of the strange – it was also covered in its entirety by Beck and pals. Skip sadly left this mortal coil in 1999. Here’s Beck’s tribute:

Another Album That Never Was

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It’s only the Stones’ shelved gem ‘Could You Walk O Water’, a slice of post rational Christian-bating from the year that music exploded (© Jon Savage) – 1966. The wonderful Albums The Never Were has the master and a great sleeve, find it here. And this is what they say about it: This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1966 Rolling Stones album Could You Walk On The Water. After … Read More

The Bear Necessities

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In that obsessive way that a song gets into your psyche, The Television Personalities’ ‘Honey For The Bears’ intrigued me so much that I picked up the book by Anthony Burgess to see if it was the inspiration in typical Dan Treacy style. Sadly it was in title alone as the angst-ridden tune and swinging ‘60s feel – c’mon Honey is right up there with Candy – had little to … Read More

The Day I Almost Saw Wreckless Eric – October 22, 1977

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It was just a day like any other – well, almost. The Stiff Records live tour was arriving in Leicester, playing at the University in an old hall that looked like it was straight out of The Good Old Days. Five acts were teased – Larry Wallis, Nick Lowe, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and Wreckless Eric. Something for everyone.   The place was packed. It was a party packet packed … Read More

Confessions Of A Middle Aged Son Of The Desert

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So, I’ve heard that love is a cruel mistress, something that bends you out of shape; something that gives you sleepless nights, and if you do manage to succumb to slumber, it’s the first thing on your mind in the morning. Even the cleverest of people can be affected, be lost; simultaneously transported to places they’ve never even imagined; gain perspective, lose themselves.   Years ago I’d been to Phoenix, … Read More