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I know Speakers Push Air is supposed to be a music blog, and I know I’m a bit late with this, but nothing has made me laugh as much in a long time:
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seen in the ladies toilets at the 100 Club (not by me, I hasten to add):
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Right, well I can’t put this off any longer. Time for the next 5…
I still get confused by my feelings about the Cardiacs. I was never ever one of those scary, obsessive types. But then, I do own upwards of 12 CDs, a bunch of vinyl and, erm, a Cardiacs wristwatch. I first saw them supporting (oh sweet jesus.. ) Marillion in the early 80s, and loved them. The scary Victorian bandleader schtick, the contorted facial expressions, the maniacal self belief (while Marillion fans hurled objects at them, the band acted as if they were getting a standing ovation and Tim Smith was led off James Brown style at the end – coat over shoulders, waving and beaming at the non-existent rapturous reception.
But really, a lot of it is absolute wank.
It always struck me that Smith wrote Is This The Life? to show that, if he wanted to, he could write something approximating a classic rock song. And having done so, never did it again. It’s too late in the day to bang on about the strained ‘progginess’ of the whole thing, but one of the reasons I stuck with them as long as I did was that in many of their songs there would be a moment when the twatting about and the chord changes would stop and a glorious melody or chorus would emerge for a while.
Just not often enough.
A guy I know did the PR for their sort of ‘comeback’ in, I guess, about 1996 (when they did a big reissue campaign and the like) and was planning to send out some ‘Cardiacs As Fuck’ tshirts to ‘out’ journos who were known to be Cardiacs fans but would never admit it for fear of being chucked from the top of Kings Reach Tower (one of the sole exceptions was NME Dance Editor Ben Wilmott, who was an unashamed fan and an all-round fantastic bloke, and therefore a square peg at the NME). Not sure the tshirts ever happened.
The press loathing of them was astonishing: when Blur (deeply in hock to the Cardiacs, especially around the time of Modern Life Is Rubbish*) put them on the bill for their Mile End show, the press simply pretended the Cardiacs didn’t play. They reviewed the bands either side and made no reference to The Cardiacs at all. It was this kind of ‘persecution’ (well, y’know…) that was another factor in my keeping the faith – it was like being in a secret, hated society. That reached its zenith when Chumbawamba got the Cardiacs to support them on a UK tour, with the boldly stated intention to make it easy for the journos – the two most hated bands in the UK on one stage. Great gig, that…
So, yes. I still have a lot of their stuff and still – despite knowing that, really, they’re awful – there’s always a little place in my heart for The Cardiacs. (see what I did there?)
* See also The Kaiser Chiefs
This hails from a similar part of my brain as Simon Smith & His Amazing Dancing Bear – a nostalgia for a certain kind of Sunday morning staple from my childhood. Part of a largely disastrous (aborted, even?) ‘teenage opera’ by bandleader and opportunist Mark Wirtz and fronted by Tomorrow singer Keith West, Grocer Jack is – by any reasonable standads – disgusting. Ersatz psychedelia, a horrible arrangement. And children fucking singing, which is never OK (except on a couple of tunes that might make up a later entry to the blog).
So. Vile. And while part of me is driven to an inchoate rage by this monstrosity, another part wells up, thinks about those Sunday mornings singing this with my dad. Although with hindsight I think he might have been taking the piss.
Kiss were always awful at everything apart from merchadising. Barely competent, even now, and largely free of tunes or anything else to appeal, they failed to impress even when I was bit of a sucker for metal in the early 80s (in my defence, it wasn’t a long relationship, and even then I loathed the hair-farmer end of it all).
But this is inexplicably, unashamedly, unbelievably ace. Kiss doing disco. God knows how much coke got hoovered up at that meeting. But it’s a dancefloor classic.
Not the first appearance for Mr Soul in these litanies of self-loathing. My mother had his super-smash-hit album Playing To An Audience Of One (even the title causes a little part of me to curl up and die). Dreadful 70s tosh for the woman who already had all the Demis Roussos stuff, and for whom Julio was a yet-to-be-discovered delight.
She played the bloody thing to death, and even now I’m pretty sure I could have a fair crack at singing – word, if not note, perfect – about 5 of the tracks. David Soul got rightly buried at the back of my brain until a friend of mine (take a bow, Big Bobby T), brought Silver Lady along to People’s Republic of Disco, (complete with stories about Silver Lady replay marathons at his workplace) and I was reminded that it’s an absolute stormer. Perfect, lush, 70s blue eyed soul. Almost Glen Campbell-esque in its greatness.
And – oh, god, I can’t believe I’m posting this – here, finally, is the winner / loser.
The most godforesaken piece of crap in a collection arguably full of it.
“Nobody calling on the phone,
‘Cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome”.
There is nothing – NOTHING – I can say about this.
I’m so sorry.
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Apologies if you’ve seen this mentioned elsewhere, but it bears repeating.
In case you haven’t – for a while, or ever (you fool) – listen to the Dead Kennedys classic, Holiday In Cambodia
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Can’t believe 14 of you have downloaded this!!!!
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All you can do is look on in horror.
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I’ve always loathed the Queens of Noise – talent-free, clue-free, charm-free Hoxton sockpuppets, always to be found ‘on the 1s and 2s’ at the latest gallery opening or at Peaches Geldof’s 16th birthday rave. They have a 6music show on Saturday afternoons which is breathtaking in its scene-chasing, ignorant, desperate stupidity, but man, have they excelled themselves this week.
The Queens have, you see, just spent two weeks in Jamaica (a blissful absence which saw Andy Weatherall stand in and play two weeks worth of genius tunes). So this week is their reggae special. I IMPLORE you to listen to this on the BBC’s Listen Again site -it’ll be there for a week from now.
GASP! as they start dropping misplaced patois throughout their Hoxton buzzword bullshit!
SNIGGER! as they broadcast a snippet of an interview with Winston Riley during which they clearly don’t have a clue what he’s saying!
FEEL YOUR SPHINCTER CLENCH! as they get almost ever element of reggae history ever so slightly wrong.
LAMENT! the fact that although they did find themselves in a fairly scary part of Kingston, they escaped unscathed.
Trust me, this is worth a listen, if only to remind you that – as Innes from Primal Scream once put it – it really is time for a new Manson family.
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OK, as promised, I’m going to post up my own take on this “10 Records That Make My Sphincter Clench When Someone Is Flicking Through My Collection” thing..
Thing is, it’s not easy, for two main reasons: first, when I was younger, I could be quite ‘year zero’ about stuff. I had a childhood listening to some horrors – Barclay James Harvest, Steve Hackett, Camel, Marillion, Cat Stevens. When I was 12 or 13, due to the influence of a much older but (in the late 70s) comparatively cool uncle, I literally had the record collection of someone twice or even three times my age. What the hell was a 12 year old kid doing listening to Baker Gurvitz Army or The Moody Blues?
Actually, I’m almost weirdly proud of that time. Yes, I was mostly listening to toss (and missing out on the “rubbish disposable pop” that all my mates liked – you know, The Specials, Dexys etc) but even then I was curious and had an insatiable appetite for new stuff. It was a good grounding too – when I reject some new hot-shit act from the States as being godawful prog, I know what I’m talking about!
In the early 80s, when I discovered punk, indie, reggae and the like, all that stuff went. Apart from a few artists I still adore (the perennial Thin Lizzy, all the good stuff like Neil Young, Dylan, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen), it all went, it was all purged in favour of Crass and The Smiths.
The other problem with doing something like this is that not only am I no longer embarassed about liking anything, but I do love – with no irony, no angle – pop music. So there’s no room in this list for my Girls Aloud or my Kylie or my Christina Aguilera records. So, like Eden had it, this is more of a “ten records I have trouble justifying to other people”.
It’s going to be in two parts, too – this is too painful a venture to take on in one go.. And I’m not going to post links either – you really don’t need to own this stuff. But just in case you won’t take my word for this, I am providing mp3s.
It was the mid-80s, I was a quasi-goth (never had any truck with the grimmer end of it all, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Ghost Dance, all that) but was a 4AD completist and had worked out the link between appearing all poetic and sensitive, the Cocteau Twins and sleeping with cute goth art students. Along come Shelleyan Orphan…
I should have known, from the first time I saw them on the Tube – them performing with some art students knocking up some wretched artwork on stage behind – that they were a disgrace. But I stuck with it. They were local (Bournemouth), the girl had lovely Merchant Ivory hair, it was UTTERLY pofaced and pretentious.
And the lyrics?
“Toil all day delusions come around
Cotton heat in brilliant skies above
Moon parades in southern sphering globe
She’s in croon my sweet tongues mellow slave
Southern Bess plantation queen love’s sealed in dream
Southern Bess Virginia brown from south to sun
I keep wondering if some poor, tryhard schmuck is suddenly going to hit upon Shelleyan Orphan as precursors to some of the current post-Banhardt/Newsom folk bollocks being foisted upon us. That would be very funny indeed.
I know, I know. But I LOVED this album when I was 11 or 12. And I can’t quite give it up. The sheer absurd, bloated pomp of it. And it is, in its own way, pretty funny – not ironic, perhaps, but certainly self-aware, conscious of its own grand guignol folly. Steinman does have something about him (look me in the eyes and tell me you didn’t get over-excited when you heard he was going to work with Sisters of Mercy? Eh?) and this album would have me running around my bedroom with excitement. The ballads were always pretty dire, but the rockier tracks just made me soarrrrrrrr…
Plus, this track was about the sexiest thing the 11 year old me had ever heard – in its own way, as fundamental to my awakening sexuality as that sex scene in Don’t Look Now, Olivia Newton John and Kate Bush on Top Of The Pops.
A nice short one after the preceding memoirs..
I was always a sucker for really really cheesy euro-dance, and this is best / worst example I can find at the back of the shelf.
Even when I was listening to lots of dodgy 70s prog, I could never stand the really over-the-top stuff like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and the rest. Genesis were as far down that road as I could go, and even then their worst excesses scared me off. But this is another album I can’t quite give up on – yes, it’s widdly concept album wank, but there’s some songs on it I do still really like. (And like it or not, vile moonfaced cuntsock Phil Collins was a great drummer).
People seem to be engaged in some mostly (but not entirely) ironic recuperation of Chas & Dave. Robert Elms would probably describe them as ‘classic neckerchief rock’. Listen: they’re rubbish. Really, really rubbish. Not funny, not charming, just vile.
But this song is of a different order. I was at a party in a squat (not a squat party) in a Bermondsey pub a few years back and they were having a “cockney wanker” theme night (a slightly dodgy enterprise, to be honest – is it that far from a student union chav night?) but it was fairly entertaining and funny. I was roped in to sing this song and it was only in trying to learn it that I realised it’s actually positively symphonic. Melodically complex, brilliantly arranged. And strangely affecting Honest…
They hate each other, you know….
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Some boring network nonsense means that I’m currently unable to post tunes (drives, wireless networks, mud and string) but should all be sorted at the weekend. I’ve got some posts I’m really looking forward to putting up, but I guess the first job is going to be responding to this challenge from a man like Eden.
Far as I can tell, the whole blog chain of shame started here, but I might have missed a link somewhere. Anyway, I’m not a man to back down from a challenge so, erm, steel yourselves…
Meanwhile, I’ve bought myself some online gallery space and I’ve been uploading some of my favourite pics.
There’s a collection of my best pics from the last decade or so of festivals here
And some of my best gig photos here.