Friday, September 30, 2011

TOTP (23/09/1976)

Smokie - i'll meet you at midnight
At one stage i was tempted to just describe all of tonight's acts in this feast of pop music in one word. But then i thought people would feel a bit shortchanged. The word for this would have been "class" anyway.

The Wurzels - i'm a cider drinker

Kiki Dee - loving and free
Kiki warbles along in the distance all in white amid an ocean of darkness. Maybe she was a kind of angel, or this was cheap staging. I find the fashions of the audience always interesting in TOTP, for some reason hats ringed in tinsel seemed popular in late September 1976, Christmas might be understandable but September? Tony Blackburn asks a couple of tinsel hat wearing girls if they still like the Bay City Rollers. Unfortunately they do.

Bay City Rollers - i only wanna be with you
Rollermania was still going strong then, at least for the moment, this time in a studio to avoid the lads being torn apart by girls. Tough life.

Rod Stewart - sailing
This song might be the first song i remember, i would be not quite 5 when this was released but i clearly remember it playing out of Dad's stereo. Rod gives a rock performance (albiet a bit toned down) in front of a group of badly swaying children and a choir. Its all a bit odd but i do love this song.

Ruby Flipper get tasked with the novelty disco hit "Disco duck" by Rick Dee's Cast Of Idiots, after some basic disco dancing they start turning into ducks and mayhem ensues, though to be honest i'd say they looked more like geese.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - blinded by the light

A different performance this time with the singer wearing a Superman tee-shirt and not looking like one of Rod, Jane & Freddy.

The Drifters - every night's a Saturday night with you
High trousers and medallions, ugh.

ABBA - dancing queen
I think this was at #1 for some time, so here is the same stage performance again as last time. TTFN!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Strawberry Whiplash - picture perfect EP

Sweet girlie vocals, effortlessly lovely pop hooks, simple indie guitar pop this EP is a modern day C86 classic. The title track has a gorgeous acoustic driven melody, the vocals female and sweet yet also at the same time cool and disinterested. It ticks all the boxes yeah?

It and tracks that follow like "Hay in a needlestack" are maybe a bit over familiar these days, the path Strawberry Whiplash have chosen is after all a very well trodden path but when its done really well thats fine, and this is done really really well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comics : Star Wars #42

I enjoyed reviewing the old Star Wars comic i found in my loft so much that i bought another of the Marvel comic series on Ebay. Number 42 this time, which i did have as a childhood as oddly i remember Han Solo's buff body in one scene as he is stripped to the waist and having steam or some kind of vapour blown over him. Er... yeah moving on...

Set in between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back this has the Rebel gang stuck on some kind of massive space station. Luke and Leia and the 2 droids are on the run from a Senator Greyshade meanwhile Darth Vader is searching for a cyborg rival. In the exciting cliffhanger Han Solo is forced into a gladiatorial combat where he is shocked to find out his opponent is Chewbacca!

The highlight of everything is the cover though, and boy does Darth Vader look angry! I suspect The Emperor erased all his unseen episodes of Masterchef off his Sky Plus.

Friday, September 23, 2011

TOTP (09/09/1976)

Jimmy Saville in orange is our host tonight, ABBA are number 1, will we see them live in the studio? Well maybe, more chance of seeing them than Elton and Kiki Dee anyway but more on that later...

Eddie & the Hotrods - get out of Denver
Might not be 100% on that title, i find it difficult to understand what Jimmy says sometimes. Anyway this is good old fashioned pub rock and roll and its glorious! Some of the audience are actually moving to the music too. Its a super high energy rock and roll thrash, proto-punk in a way. Tonight can only go downhill.

Twiggy - here i go again
The ex-model is back with her country hit, this time she is a studio and not 100% sure where the camera is.

The Wurzels - i'm a cider drinker
More country yokel novelty nonsense, having established people from the countryside are slow and obsessed with land and incest in their first hit this time we also find out they are alcoholics too. This steals the familiar tune from "Una Paloma Blanca" which is always a good idea when you want to extend your unwelcome stay as a novelty act...

Jimmy is surrounded by sailors and he introduces Ruby Flipper, who are only here once this week to perform Lou Rawl's "you'll never find another love like mine" with a vaguely Spanish air to their dancing frolics.

Cliff Richard - i can't ask for anything more than you babe
High pitched low jinks, the Producers play around with some SFX though and we get multiple Cliffs on screen at the same time. Some people may want more than one Cliff Richard. I don't.

Bay City Rollers - i only wanna be with you
In time honoured tradition the boy band delight the girlies with a retro cover which is pretty awful but oddly passable.

Kiki Dee - loving and free
What? Kiki Dee is here? But not with Elton this is a solo song. She sits and sings a decent country tune. A fibre optic light features, perhaps it was new and funky back then, nowadays pound shop fodder.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - blinded by the light
I'm happy to see this prog psychedelia make the charts, this is a repeat of their earlier TOTP performance though.

ABBA - dancing queen
Well ABBA arn't here live in the studio alas, its a stage performance somewhere and they are all dressed in blue. Jimmy interrupts half-way through as they are apparently out of time so the number 1 hit play us out. TTFN.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Butchies - make yr life

This was the fourth album from the US lesbian queercore band and at the moment the last album since they began a "hiatus" back in 2005 (which seems like it might be permanent i'd have thought by now). So if this does end up The Butchies' swansong what a way to go.

Its a more commercial (apparently as i haven't got the other 3) album and certainly has plenty of bright punk pop. Actually its got some very good tunes indeed especially "Send me you" which has a chorus to die for and is a bona-fide punk pop classic.

"She's so lovely" also thrashes along nicely, starting off a bit slinky before progressing to a great driving pop song. "Trouble" has some great razor edge power chords driving it along. This is a really great album, it has it all: passion, attitude, energy, rock and pop hooks galore. So what if its a bit commercial, you don't want your ears to bleed all the time do you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Anyways - sunshine down EP

One of the many bands in the early 90s classic days of C86 which are pretty much forgotten nowadays but produced some wonderful pop moments. This EP has plenty of these, such as the intelligent "Wish away" which is a very well made song, poppy though also a bit restrained, with a neat chorus. "Wider" has some nice psychedelic touches.

The Anyways unfortunately failed to fit into any then current indie pigeonholes as beloved by the media though so were doomed to obscurity obviously.

Friday, September 16, 2011

TOTP (28/08/1976)

Noel Edmonds is back to present the latest pop sounds... well latest in late August 1976 of course.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - blinded by the light
Its everything you imagine some refugees from the psychedelic 60s would be. Proggy rock with keyboard effects, the odd screaming guitar chords. The keyboardist is in a sailor suit by the way. The audience look suitable bemused and revert to that uncertain bobbing dance mode when they don't really like/get the song.

Ruby Flipper are going to earn their money tonight, being on no less than 3 times! This time to the Bee Gee's "you should be dancing". They perform this with some scantily clad disco to the delight of many Dads.

Robin Sarstedt - lets fall in love
Or lets follow up a novelty hit with another odd bit of old fashioned crooning. This gets uncomfortably close to club style territory.

Acker Bilk - aria
Clarinet! Green waist coat! Bowler hat! It sounds like the theme tune of a downtrodden 70s detective series. Quite nice though...

Chi-Lites - you don't have to go
For some reason the Chi-Lites' song is accompanied by an old cartoon which bears no resemblance at all to the music, its like watching TV with the sound off and the radio on in the background. The cartoon (Page Miss Glory) is wonderful though, all jazz age art deco but not sure what it has to do with the Chi-Lites...

Ruby Flipper are back in different skimpy outfits to jiggle around to James & Bobby Purify's "morning glory".

Cliff Richard - i can't ask for anything more than you babe
Cliff, never one to jump on a bandwagon of course, has a song with some BeeGees-esque high notes. Not one of his best songs though, sounds like it should be track 7 on an album and should have stayed there.

Gallagher & Lyle - breaking away
Nice bit of soft rock, some kind of joke going on between Noel and the band but it falls rather flat like most of these things.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - don't go breaking my heart
Are they here live at last? No of course not but no one can stomach the video again so instead it all becomes a rather formless but lovely dance in the studio, Ruby Flipper leading the way and Noel staying in the audience to chat up young girls. Its all a bit formless and chaotic but really this is why you love this show! TTFN!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - belong

The second album of NY's cutiepop revivalists pretty much continues off where the first album stopped : delicious indie pop tunes with a good dose of punk pop sensibility and noise and with some lovely word play.

Its maybe not quite as immediate as their first album though tracks like "Heart in your heartbreak" and "Even in dreams" are pop classics, its a little more grown up and a little more assured. Its more consistent though in being so maybe loses a little of the first album's danger though "belong" is undeniably harder. So what is "belong" in a nutshell? Bloody brilliant. Its packed full of classic pop moments and hipster cool. This belongs in your record collection... ahem.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Monkees Nerf Ball commercial

For a change here are the Monkees with an exciting commercial opportunity, from 1970.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Field Mice - snowball

The iconic Sarah band, after a number of amazing singles, was given the chance to see what they could do with a long player. Snowball, with its simple design and pink sleeve, was the result and is quite simply an amazing album, a high point in indie pop. A signpost to a million possibilities. A true alternative to mainstream drivel.

The 8 tracks are book ended by the two sides of the Field Mice coin. "Lets kiss and make up" is a more straightforward track compared to some of the later ones but wonderful and inventive all the same pop song. "Letting go" is an atmospheric epic. Multi-layered and spacial, this remains one of my all-time favourite songs.

Its all here, great songs, pop melodies and sonic experimentation. Almost whispered vocals, chords in all the right places. Special mention must also be made for "End of the affair" with its mesmeric tune but they are all special moments. The music is often so simple but but also so so effective. You can tell i loved this can't you?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Frank & Walters - this is not a song

A bit shambolic true, but also quirky and rather geeky. "This is not a song" was quite iconic, at least for a while in the early 1990s. Technically its a bit of a mess but the lyrics help the song transcend that, the song genuinely has charm and makes you smile with it as well as the clever lyrics, even if its hardly sung in key.

Of the b-sides, things all get a bit early 90s generic indie pop. You can probably guess how they sound: fast dancey beats, jingle jangle, a bit of half-hearted noise. They can help a few minutes of your life pass by agreeably anyway.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

TOTP (19/08/1976)

DLT is our host tonight and after he fools around with a mirror we have the chart rundown, and our number one is... Elton and Kiki! Will they be live tonight? The suspense is killing me.

Hot Chocolate - Heaven is in the back seat of my Cadillac

Hot Chocolate is always good value, though not that keen on this song of theirs though which is a bit of a repetitive funk stomp. Errol Brown has enough chains around his neck its like he is a prototype Mr T.

David Dundas - jeans on

David is back again, though it looks like a repeat of his previous performance with Ruby Flipper. David has a tiger in his tank, though i prefer BP.

5000 Volts - Doctor Kiss Kiss

DLT is sad that this song has stalled at number 8, i’m sad too for a related reason. Linda Kelly’s miming really does need work.

ABBA - dancing queen

ABBA are back with another modern classic. Music video not live performance though.

Bryan Ferry - the price of love

Another music video, is this MTV or something? Usual Bryan Ferry fare, decent tune and lots of beautiful girls.

DLT loves doors he is happy to inform us, and with that he introduces Ruby Flipper who are here to interpret Wings’ “let ‘em in” through the medium of dance. Why doors? Well of course there are lots of doors opening and being knocked. Let ‘em in see? Genius isn’t it?

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - here comes the Sun

Another repeat as we have Steve and co.’s performance by a castle again. The BBC short of cash this week or something? Psychedelia, mod-ish strutting and bongo drums anyway in the most unholy mixture in the galaxy until i mixed Lidl German vodka and Irish cream.

Jesse Green - nice and slow

DLT says this tune comes to the charts via disco. Well you can dance to it though it has some flute and a guy in a cowboy hat playing guitar too. The 70s were great!

Twiggy - here i go again

Twiggy is back, looking lovely but her vocals are a bit suspect in this country rock or folky song. A bit shrill at times. Overall though its a pretty decent song.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - don’t go breaking my heart

You have got to love Elton, at number 1 for what seems 30 weeks and he still hasn’t turned up to play this live. So the usual video. TTFN!