Best Songs of 1978

Quite often I will listen to a song and remind myself when it was released by looking it up, I will then have a look to see what was released that same year and somehow end up making a list which results in a top xx of that year, this time it’s 82 tracks but if you would like to make it a round 100, give me another 18 songs! For reference, I was 11/12 in ’78. The vast majority of these songs were UK singles but I’ve thrown a couple of others in just because I can. So here goes (There is a spotify playlist at the bottom):

82 – Again and Again – Status Quo
I had the album this was taken from, ‘If you can’t Stand The Heat’, and this was pretty much the only decent song on it. Well, that’s not entirely fair, but this was the lead single and opening track and was the highlight of the album.

81 – Please Don’t Touch – Steve Hackett
I wasn’t that big on purely instrumental tracks back in 1978 but with Hackett being ex Genesis I gave this one a listen and liked it.

80 – Never Say Die – Black Sabbath
This was a very different Black Sabbath which reminds me more of the later Ozzy solo work than the Sabbath that had preceeded it, this initial incarnation of the band was probably on its last legs by now, which might explain it.

79 – Rush – Circumstances
I’m not sure this was ever a single but I’m pretty sure The Trees, taken from the same Hemispheres album, was and in my opinion this song is much better. I still find myself occasionally singing it in my head.

All the same
We take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ca change
Plus c’est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same.

A odd lyric really as the two lines of French are translated into English in the following two lines.

78 – Don’t Kill The Whale – Yes
This is not my favourite Yes song taken from not my favourite Yes album, however, I still kinda like it. As a kid I would go to the local market and there was a record stall there which had this 7″ single and I would often pick it up, think about buying it and then not bother.

77 – Lucky Number – Lena Lovich
This period was a time of transition for me, moving into new musical areas such as indie and punk having previously been firmly in, what we now call, the Classic Rock camp. Singles were much more important as I was now buying them and could rarely afford to buy an album based on one song. This song was originally a B-side (of a cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, the same one covered by Tiffany) and was later released as an A-side. I had assumed it was also a cover, but it wasn’t.

76 – Oh What A Circus – David Essex
This might seem like a odd choice from me but it was huge at the time and was on the radio all the time so it buried into my flesh somewhat. It’s a song from the Evita soundtrack and appeared on his album ‘Imperial Wizard’, which is actually pretty good.

75 – Forever Autumn – Jeff Wayne
I loved War of The Worlds and this song, with the Richard Burton narrationn is great, sung as it is by the Moody Blues Justin Hayward. It was a hit single at the time and I can’t remember if we bought the album as a result of the song or already had it. I still listen to it fairly regularly all these years later.

74 – Every Day I Die – Tubeway Army
Taken from the first Tubeway Army album which was to be a standard guitar bass and drums affair but somebody left one of those new fangled synths in the studio and it changed the course of Gary Numans career and life.

73 – Because the Night – Patti Smith
I later played this song in a band I was in. It’s an odd one to me as it is a sort of straight ahead rock song and not what I thought Patti Smith was about at all.

72 – Angels with dirty faces – Sham 69
I used to love Sham 69 to the point that listening to a bootleg tape of a live gig that could have been almost anybody if it wasn’t for the occasional muffled ‘Hurry ‘up Harry’. The strange thing to me is that a lot of these punk songs that are supposed to be anti-everything, sound like really good pop songs now.

71 – Run for home – Lindisfarne
I’ve mentioned recently that, for a number of reasons, I rather like Lindisfarne and this track is probably one of their most accessible.

70 – 5-7-0-5 – City Boy
I used to hear this song on the radio a lot but never knew who it was. A few years ago I was at the Shakespeares Birth place visitors centre ad this song was being played in the gift shop on the radio, which is when I found out who it was, it’s a great pop song.

69 – Killing an Arab – The Cure
I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear this song until 1982, which made me late to The Cure I guess, but that’s OK. I had the 1980 compilation ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ at some point, which I just listened to again. It’s very good.

68 – Being Boiled – Human League
A friend of mine had this in his box of singles and, at the time, it sounded really very odd, but I liked it. Listening to it more recently I can see that it was a pretty groundbreaking sound, which they weren’t alone in creating but were in amongst the first.

67 – September – Earth, Wind & Fire
It’s a great song, ’nuff said.

66 – Rock Lobster – B-52’s
I discovered this long after the fact, probably in 1984, or around that time at least and bought their first album on cassette as a result. Although they are somewhat normalized now, that first album was some crazy shit, but great crazy shit.

65 – Dreadlock Holiday – 10cc
This was a huge hit of course and it is very catchy. Obviously there’s cultural appropriation and all that going on here, but in music this is how it works. Most modern music is a mish mash of multiple cultures, so that’s ok.

64 – Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric
I don’t know where I first heard this and had forgotton about it completly until a couple of years ago when I was watching the ‘Stiff Tour’ film on youtube and Eric got up on stage and sang this song, which I somehow knew really well, it bugs me still that I don’t know why. Regardless, cracking song.

63 – Mr Blue Sky – ELO
Everybody knows this one don’t they? It would probabaly be higher up but I’ve heard it so many times that its attraction has paled for me somewhat. I still find myself singing along if it comes on the radio though.

62 – Right Down The Line – Gerry Rafferty
I remember waiting for the record shop to open (it was one of those shops that sold record players, hoovers and other electrical equipment and had a small record section) to buy a Gerry Rafferty 7″ single, can’t remember which one it was though, it may have been this. Is he underated? probably as most of his work is overshadowed by Baker Street, but this is a great single in and of itself.

Having thought about it, I think I queued for ‘Get it right next time’ from the Night Owl album.

61 – Rat Trap – Boomtown Rats
There was a period where I thought the Boomtown Rats were amazing and I fully expected them to have a career on the scale of U2, that is until they stopped being good, which didn’t take long. After this they released ‘I don’t like Mondays’, their 6th single and the last thing that was ever worth listeing to. Shame really.

60 – Substitute – Clout
I don’t know why I like this as it feels like a song that one might put on a Guilty Pleasures compilation, but I like, so that’s that, I can’t help it.

59 – Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand
I’m pretty sure I had this 7″ and loved it. It’s in French and I have never bothered looking for a translation as it’s the energy of it I like I think, it doesn’t matter at all what he is singing about.

58 – Denis – Blondie
I didn’t kow that this was a cover version but it wouldn’t have mattered to me then or now, in 1978 Blondie could do no wrong. The original was by Randy and the Rainbows, just in case you were interested and it was, well, a bit different.

57 – Stayin Alive – Bee Gees
The Bee Gees were huge in 77/78 of course, with Saturday Night Fever being such a massive success. I listened to the whole soundtrack many times but, for me, this is the best song on it and the only one I give any time to now.

56 – James & The Cold Gun – Kate Bush
Probably my favourite song from the Kick Inside album, which is one of the greatest debut albums ever by the way. I think I like it so much now because of the songs it sits amongst and because I paid it less attention at the time.

55 – Le Freak – Chic
Well how could one not, especially with the resurgence of the Nile Rodgers guitar sound with artists such as Daft Punk bringing it back to public attention.

54 – Tommy Gun – The Clash
I played this on 7″ a lot, even though I didn’t own the record. I would go to other peoples houses and play their copy repeatedly. I may have been quite annoying, I’m not sure, I didn’t really notice.

53 – Kentucky Avenue – Tom Waits
I really like Waits, and this song from this album in particular (Blue Valentine) but I do appreciate he is not to everybodys taste, that’s ok though, they are allowed to be wrong.

52 – Take Me Im Yours – Squeeze
While I heard the Squeeze singles as they were released it took me a long time to appreciate quite how good they were and I think that’s because I heard, and liked, ‘Cool for Cats’ first and expected everythig else to be just like that.

51 – Milk & Alcohol – Dr Feelgood
I still find myself humming this now and again. It’s the only track of theirs I’ve ever listened to as far as I can recall. I think that, despite beig described as Pub Rock, this particular track bled into the punk/post punk/new wave scene rather by accident. Wiclo Johnson on guitar of course.

50 – D.I.Y – Peter Gabriel
Taken from Gabriel’s second solo album after splitting with Genesis, this single didn’t trouble the charts at all, except in France where it reached number 55. The rest of the world ignored it. Which is a shame.

49 – Davy’s on the road again – Manfred Mann
I feel as though this was on the radio all the time back in ’78 and as a result it has burrowed into my subconcious, just through repetition. Listening to it again now it isn’t actually as good as it was in my memory.

48 – Germ free adolescents – X-Ray Spex
I saw this for the first time on Top of the Pops and it was part of a spirit of change that seemed to be infiltrating music. I loved it. It had that D.I.Y feel about it but was still a catchy tune.

47 – I love the sound of breaking glass – Nick Lowe
Another radio friendly song that I heard a lot but with the added kudos of Lowe’s involvemet with Stiff records.

46/45 – One Way Or Another / Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie
This was a hell of a year for Blondie, especially in my world. It seemed as though they were a hit single factory and I was enraptured by pretty much anything they released. One way or another wasn’t released as a single until ’79 but it was on Parallel Lines so I’d already heard it a lot. I also had no idea until many years later that Hanging on the Telephone was a cover of a song by The Nerves.


44 – Radio Radio – Elvis Costello
Believe it or ot this was origially written in 1974 by Costello and titled Radio Soul, inspired in some way by Bruce Springsteen. Costello dusted it off and re wrote it around the time of the album ‘This Years Model’ but it was released as a stand alone single, although it was added to later releases of the album.

43 – Shot by both sides – Magazine
The name of the song came from a political argument between Devoto and his girlfriend, in which his girlfriend said to him, “Oh, you’ll end up shot by both sides”. I was late to this song and didn’t ever hear it until several years after it was released.

42 – Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie & the Banshees
A fried of mine had this on 7″ so it got a fair amount of play when I was round his house, I really liked their sound. The song was named after the Hong Kong Garden Chinese take-away in Chislehurst High Street. Siouxsie Sioux was quoted as explaining the lyrics with reference to the racist activities of skinheads visiting the take-away:

I’ll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the Hong Kong Garden. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We’d try and say ‘Leave them alone’, you know. It was a kind of tribute.

She also stated:

I remember wishing that I could be like Emma Peel from The Avengers and kick all the skinheads’ heads in, because they used to mercilessly torment these people for being foreigners. It made me feel so helpless, hopeless and ill.


41 – Hold The Line – Toto
I have no real idea why this appears here at number 41. I’ve been listening to the songs that preceeded it in this list and it probabaly should have been lower, but I can’t be bothered to re-number everything.

40 – Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC
Classic AC/DC and an opening riff that I could actually play, although I tended to get a bit lost after that.

39 – Miss You – Rolling Stones
Some songs are just comforting and for me this one of them as I remember hearing it in the car on the radio a lot when I was with my Dad.

38 – Leaving Louisianna in Broad Daylight – Emmylou Harris
It is much, much later in life that I have come to appreciate Emmylou and honestly wouldn’t have given this a moments listen back in 1978, but now I would, which is why it is here.

37 – Klu Klux Klan – Steel Pulse
I have conviced myself that I heard this somewhere back in the day, or heard about it, but I can’t quite pinpoint where or how. Maybe it is a false memory, I’ve no idea but I did see Steele Pulse at Reading Festival for 2 minutes before they were bottled off so maybe I’ve just got things mixed up.

36 – FM – Steely Dan
Taken from the soundtrack of the film FM and not on any of the Dan albums, except a best of, I really rate this song highly, though, in fairness, I rate most of them highly as they were magnificently crafted.

35 – Statue of Liberty – XTC
Amazingly, this was banned by the BBC for the lyrics “In my fantasy I sail beneath your skirt”, how bloody ridiculous.

34 – Nice ‘N’ Sleazy – The Stranglers
I liked The Stranglers from the first album (which is brilliant by the way, if you haven’t you should give it a go) and this track sort of felt as though it was coming from the same place as the tracks from their debut. The same album it is taken from contains their cover of ‘Walk On’ By so I’ve no idea what that was all about though.

33 – Is She Really Going Out With Him? – Joe Jackson
I associate this song, and may others in this list, with when I started in comprehensive school, as I was 11 for the second half of the year and I started to meet new people and, as a result, new music. Somebody, I don’t remember who, had the 7″ of this and we played it when I was around his house.

32 – Uptown Top Ranking – Anthea & Donna
I’ve mentioned somewhere before that I thought of this as a novelty song at the time but I was so wrog, it is fabulous, and the album it was taken from is well worth a listen as well. Some great tracks on it.

31 – The Man with the child in his eyes – Kate Bush
She was so very different from everything else that was out there at the time, and I do think I was probably caught up in the music being a joke along with lots of other people at the time, thinking the Not the Nine O’Clock News parody hilarious (I’ve recently re-watched it and it isn’t). She is a unique genius.

30 – Beast Of Burden – Rolling Stones
Another song I didn’t really appreciate at the time and I still blow hot and cold with the Stones, but this has become one of my favourite songs of theirs over the years.

29 – Do or Die – Grace Jones
Take from her second album ‘Fame’, which is classified as disco, and included on the Island Life compilation, this track just shows how marvelous she is. I know there are many people over the years who have not taken her seriously as a musician but I’d just like to confirm, if there were any doubt, they were wrong.

Interestingly, Eartha Kitt covered this song in 1989.

28 – Turn To Stone – ELO
The opening track of the album ‘Out of the Blue’ which was like a greatest hits without it originally being one. There are a ridiculous number of hit singles on that. Sadly, I don’t believe I had it at the time, though I taped the hits off the radio chart show.

27 – I Am The Fly – Wire
Another song I missed at the time, but, fortunatly I found it later and as a result it sounds fairly modern to me still and not over 40 years old.

26 – I don’t want to go to Chelsea – Elvis Costello
I think this may be my favourite song of his from this period, it certainly seems to be the one I listened to most, although, again, I didn’t have my own copy. At this point I probably had about 30 singles and a couple of cassettes, the first album I bought on vinyl was still a year away.

25 – I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
It is easy for some to dismiss The Ramones, which I understand, but they are just pure pop wrapped up in a leatherclad image. Their songs are simple, short and catchy, and I like them.

24 – Who Are You – The Who
I have issues with The Who, namely that they have a great greatest hits but there is a lot of mediocraty to trawl through to get to those hits. This album is, to me, a perfect example, Who Are You, the title track, is the only really good song on it.

23 – Deacon Blues – Steely Dan
From the album Aja, which doesn’t have a bad track on it and any of them could sit here, but this one was actually released as a single. It could also be much higher but I’ve gone and applied some rules around ‘how I felt about it at the time’ which I will probabaly break later, if I haven’t already.

22 – Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
Now I know that certain songs get played so much they become irritating or they just become unlistenable through over familiarity, but no matter how many times I hear this song, I continue to like it and part of the reason for that is because I heard it so many times at this point in my life it is almost as though it is waypoint back in time to a world where I had no responsibilities, little pressure and the whole world in front of me.

21 – So Lonely – Police
I loved the Police, particularly the first two albums, actually, mostly the first two albums and it was a very stupid day when I moved away when I was 16 and gave away all my 7″ singles, this being one of them.

20 – Follow You, Follow Me – Genesis
It was odd to hear Genesis on the Sunday chart rundown as they weren’t really a singles bad until this point. From this album on it was as though they had become a different band, which in may ways they had but it was rather a treat to hear a band you like on the radio.

19 – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding – Elvis Costello
I believe that it was around this time that I started wearing a Ban The Bomb badge, it may have been later though, regardless, the song resonated with me.

18 – Down In the Tube Station At Midnight – The Jam
I still regard this as one of the best songs The Jam ever did. It has atmosphere, attitude and a relatable story. It still sounds great to me.

17 – Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
I don’t know if this appears an odd choice or not but here it is anyway. I had the album and only ever played this song, jumping straight to it and just it. That was a bit of a mistake as it is an excellent album and is more than just this one song, but it is a great song.

16 – Public Image Ltd – Public Image
What I was hoping for when I first listened to this was more in the same vein as The Pistols, which I do think this is, it has a similar sound and attitude. Unlike the rest of the album, which is quite different, and quite brilliant. I was in WH Smiths somewhere with my Dad and wanted to buy a copy of this single but I got a resouding no.

15 – What A Waste – Ian Dury & the Blockheads
I could be a driver an articulated lorry which was true as my job prospects turned out to not be all that rosy, and this became a bit of a mantra later in life. Dury didn’t tend to put singles on albums, which I liked actually, why buy it twice?

14 – Sunday Girl – Blondie
Parallel Lines, the album from which this song is taken, remains one of the greatest pop albums ever recorded. That is all.

13 – Roxanne – Police
My second favourite single from the debut album. There was a time I scoured the back pages of music magazines, where record shops advertised their wares, looking for this single with the original red telephone cover. I saw it a few times but could never afford it. I could now but I can’t be arsed.

12 – White Man In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
I think this may have only been a single and not included on any album and it’s quite interesting as it does, in many ways, echo what the police where doing, albeit with a completly different attitude, by using reggae guitar.

11 – Teenage Kicks – Undertones
I saw the Undertones in 1983 and they were tits but this song is undeniably iconic, particularly with the John Peel association.

10 – Ever Fallen In Love? – Buzzcocks
Another Iconic track from what many regarded as the thinking mans punks. I’m not sure that is entirely true but it certainly wasn’t the usual fare.

9 – One Nation Under A Groove – Funkadelic
I feel like this song has always been in existence and has dipped in and out of my view for 53 years, even though it isn’t as old as that.

8 – Lovely Day – Bill Withers
The recent passing of Bill Withers was a sad day, but look at what he gave us while he was here. It is impossible to not love and be uplifted by this song, unless you are dead inside, are you?

7 – Is This Love – Bob Marley & the Wailers
Taken from the album ‘Kaya’ and the opening track of the massive selling compilation ‘Legend’. Like so many other people, Marley was my gateway into reggae and this is one of the first songs I would have heard, although I have convinced myself I saw the Old Grey Whistle Test performance in 1973 even though I was 6 and definately didn’t.

6 – Take Me To the River – Talking Heads
From the album ‘More Songs About Buildings and Food’ I think it is fair to say that in the musical ladscape of 1978 Talking Heads were, comparitivly, a bit weird, and this is exactly what makes this song so good. It isn’t particularly complicated musically but the vocal delivery by David Byrne with vocal ticks and almost whispering at times gives the song it’s special character.

5 – Can’t Stand Losing You – Police

This is my favourite Police song from the first album, which is why it is higher than the others. A song that we correctly believed to be about suicide as 11 year olds, although it wasn’t exactly a hidden message with the cover showing a man hanging himself and the lyrical content being a dead give away.

4 – Heart Of Glass – Blondie

Disco Blondie! and why not? I like a bit of Giergio Moroder, Vangelis and Blondie and this sort of mashes those together into a track that Blondie early adopters complained about at the time with the whole ‘Sell Out’ accusations, which I get, but c’mon, it’s a classic.

3 – Das Model – Kraftwerk

There are some songs that never seem to age, that one doesn’t grow tired of, and this is one of them. Futuristic at the time and it still is in many ways, at least to me. When originally released in ’78 it didn’t impact the charts at all and it was its ’82 re-release, against the bands wishes, that took it to number 1 in the UK.

2 – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & the Blockheads

I must have listened to this song a thousand times or more and I still love it. I remember pop magazines like Smash Hits repeatedly running pieces on what exactly was a ‘Rhythm Stick’ and probably published the lyrics at some point. It did reach number 1 in the UK singles charts but was initially kept from the top spot for two weeks by Village People’s Y.M.C.A, Donald Trumps favourite song it would seem after recent rallies. B-Side ‘There ain’t half been some clever bastards’ is pretty good too.

1 – Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

There are a number of reasons why I have this at number 1. First and foremost is that I really like it, but I also have great admiration for her single mindedness in releasing it at all (James And The Cold Gun was the record companies choice as first single from the album), also the impact it made which was massive. Here was a weird woman with a weird voice harping on about Heathcliffe, and yet, despite ridicule from many quarters, it wet to number one in the UK charts and was the begining of a career in music that inspired so very many other artists.

And there we have it. Do you have any tracks to add that I may have missed? If so, let me know in the comments.

First Ever Record

I would very much have liked to have bought a really cool first record, but I didn’t, at least not from most people’s point of view. I can’t remember exactly what year I bought my first record, a 45, but I think I would have been 6 or 7 years old, so somewhere around 1973-4. The reason I was thinking about this recently is because I stumbled across a video from 1980 which very briefly has a shot of the Woolworths in Aberdare, South Wales, where I bought the record.

My Dad, my brother and I went to the shop and my brother also bought a record I think but I don’t remember what it was, but I remember well what I bought. The shop is in the video below, but I did a screen shot underneath in case you can’t be bothered to watch it.

I had a search for the record and found some pictures of the cover, which was very special to me at the time. Here is the front cover:

I had this record hanging around for years before, at some point, I threw it away, but the thing that made it extra special was the back cover, which allowed me to colour in the Diddymen, and colour them in I did, really badly, but still, it was a fun feature at the time.

I don’t expect that many people to remember the Diddymen, or even have ever known about them, but because I know that by now you are most probably very excited about the above, I will share some history. The Diddymen are the inhabitants of the small village of Knottyash. Where they work the Jam Butty Mines, The Snuff Quaries, the Broken Biscuit Repair Works, The Treacle Wells and the Moggy Ranch. Nigel Ponsonby Smallpiece is the Owner of the Jam Butty mines and Dickie Mint is the foreman. The other Diddymen were Mick The Marmalizer; Wee Hamish McDiddy; Harry Cott; Sid Short; Weany Wally; Little Evan.

They were a creation of Ken Dodd and had a series on TV starting in the 60’s and running all the way through until 1977. In my young mind Knottyash was quite near me, just across the valley near Mountain Ash and anytime we went that way in the car I always had one eye open for a road sign.

Quite poignant to me about all this is that my late father used to have a nickname for me, which was Dickie Mint, I’m not entirely sure why, but he would still call me it occasionally when I was approaching 50 years old. I’d forgotten it was one of the Diddymen.

And now, what you have all been waiting for, the actual song, sorry to have kept you waiting so long:

Love it? Yeah, of course you do, what’s not to love?

Legacy 7″ Box – 9

XTC – Senses Working Overtime
Virgin VS 462
1982 UK

I happen to think that this is one of the greatest 45’s ever pressed to wax, a truly brilliant pop song that has intelligent lyrics but a rather simple hook. XTC had a lot of great songs but this one, as far as singles go, is right up there at the very top in a collection that is already in another league.

LEGACY 7″ BOX – 8

Public Image Ltd – Public Image
Virgin VS 228
1978 UK

I saw the single in its newspaper wrapping in Woolworths, though I can’t remember where, in Oxfordshire I would guess. I remember walking over to it and picking it up, then opening it up to have a look to see what it was and then putting it back because I had no money. In Abingdon maybe? No matter, the important bit is that I couldn’t buy it, which is a shame as I absolutely loved it and still do all these years later.

We all have different views, opinions and tastes but for me, this is a masterpiece.

See the rest that are in the box here

LEGACY 7″ BOX – 7

The Clash – Tommy Gun
CBS, CBS S CBS 6788, 6788
1978 UK

I never owned a copy of this as far as I remember, a couple of friends did and I used to play their copy whenever I went around to their house. I remember setting up an elaborate trade with one friend, some of my singles for some of theirs and this was in the ones I would be getting as part of the trade but, despite spending hours discussing it, somehow valuing things in fractions with this being worth 1.5 of whatever I was offering, or something like that, the trade never actually happened.

Although I didn’t listen to it very much, the B-side is pretty decent too.

Here are the rest in the box

Legacy 7″ Box – 6

The Beat – Hands Off She’s Mine/Twist and Crawl
Go-Feet Records FEET 1
1980 UK

The first time I heard The Beat was at a fun fair in Didcot, on the site of where the football club used to be. I was standing by the Dodgems thinking what great fun it looked, but unable to have a go as I didn’t have money, as was so often the case. I would have been 13 years old. Blasting out of the dodgems sound system came this and it sounded amazing.

The whole ska revival was really vibrant following hot on the heels of punk as it did and reaching back into a musical past that your typical white boy living in middle England would have no idea about. 40 years later I’m listening to and buying some of those songs that were covered and given new life and a new audience.

The rest in the box are here

Legacy 7″ Singles Box – 5

Dreaming – Blondie
Chrysalis CHS 2350, CHS2350
1979 UK

Now you may be thinking “Of all the Blondie tracks you chose this one?”, to which I will answer, no. I’m not limiting the box to one 45 per artist, this may, or may not be, the first one I picked up off the pile as I am not really doing these in any order, even though they are numbered. The numbers are meaningless.

When I met you in the restaurant you could tell I was no debutante
You asked me what’s my pleasure, “A movie or a measure”?
I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreamin’

There was a period from the late seventies into the mid eighties when Blondie ruled the charts and pretty much everything they released went top 10, they were unavoidable, quite rightly, as they were an amazing singles band, and, of course, Parallel Lines (which this isn’t from) is one of the best albums ever.

All the other singles in the box

Legacy 7″ Singles Box – 4

Tubeway Army – are ‘friends’ electric?
Beggars Banquet BEG 18
1979 UK

That this still sounds fresh to me even today is testament to the impact it had when it was originally released. There has been much talk about Numan appropriating this or that from various places, but nobody did this like he did this.

I had a load of singles once upon a time but I gave them away when I was 16 and moved to a new town, that is a regret I have as I can’t remember now what half of them were, but each one was so carefully chosen as they cost all the money I had.

the rest of the records in the box

Legacy 7″ Singles Box -3

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Christine
Polydor 2059 249
1980 UK

I remember well the first time I heard this single, it sounded so rich and full and was one of those songs where you just picked up the needle when it had ended and put it back to the start to listen to it all over again. I don’t think I ever played the B-Side, Eve White/Eve Black until today, which is a shame as it’s really very good.

So good in fact that I’ll include it below as well, with the added information that I liked it much better on the second listen. Thinking about it, I may have never heard the B-side because U may not have had my own copy at the time and listened to it several times at a friends house, which, as I’ve mentioned before, was a thing in the pre-internet days.

The full list of what is in the box and what the box is and why

LEGACY 7″ SINGLES BOX – 2

The Beatles – Hey Jude/Revolution
Apple Records R 5722
1968 UK

I loved the Beatles as a kid, and there’s a lot I still like about them now, however, after hearing it for almost 50 years I bloody hate Hey Jude, all those nah, nah nah, nana nah nah’s bore me senseless, they just go on too long and when McCartney plays it live I am just hoping he will stop soon. So why is it here? Because I love the B-Side of this single, Revolution, it is a single I had when quite young and I played that B-Side over and over again, it just rocks, and I do prefer a Lennon vocal to a McCartney one.

Imagine then, my disappointment when I first heard Revolution No.9, I was expecting a kick ass extended version and I got the cutting room floor tapes randomly glued together. Fortunately I still love this B-Side version, and though the copy I have is rather battered and bruised, it still plays well enough.

The full List of what’s going in the box

Legacy 7″ Singles Box – 1

I decided yesterday to create a box of singles that represents my music listening life up to 1983, when I turned 16. The box will contain 7″ singles that I either owned, wanted or that friends owned and each one will have a note explaining why it is in the box. I will, eventually, give it to my son so that he can put it in the attic, forget about it and one day throw it away without looking at it when having a clear out.

I have about 40 singles for the box already and will be picking at random for this series of posts. So here we go, 7″ number 1:

Toyah – IEYA

There is every possibility that the lyrics to this song are completely meaningless having been constructed by throwing darts at a copy of National Geographic, but I don’t care. I was 13, it was sort of punk and I liked it. It is probably the only song of hers that I can say I really, really like, though many of the other Punk-pop releases she did are perfectly listenable and there was a period here in the UK when Toyah was all over the singles charts. She’s very likeable, and clever, as well as, at the time, being a bundle of endless energy.

I honestly don’t know why but listening to that again now I got chills. It must just connect me to that specific time in my life. It looks a bit corny in places now but it was sort of cool at the time.

Zion, Zooberon, Necronomicon, Zion Zooberon, Necronomicon

No, I have no idea either.

The full list of what’s in the box

Dolly Parton – Jolene at 33 1/3

This has been around for a while but I don’t recall ever mentioning it so I’m going to do so now. Somebody played Jolene by Dolly Parton at the wrong speed and it actually sounds pretty cool, like an indie folk band with a male singer did a cover version of it.

And here is a pretty good mash up.

There are loads of remixes of this track and, while not a fan of Dolly Parton, I think it fair to say she’s a good songwriter, just look at ‘I will always love you’, not my cup of tea, but a massive world wide hit for Whitney Houston.

Finally, because it also puts an entirely different spin on a Parton song, here are The White Stripe, also performing Jolene.

Top 50 Albums of 1976

Here we are, back in 1976, a year in which I celebrated my 9th Birthday and also the year that Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the CN tower in Toronto, Canada is completed and is the tallest free standing structure in the world. The first commercial Concorde flights take off during January of 1976 as a regular passenger service began. “Rocky”, “Taxi Driver” and “All the Presidents Men” are in the cinema and on TV we have new episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “Kojak” and “M*A*S*H” from the U.S and home grown shows such as “The Old Grey Whistle Test”, “Are You Being Served?”, “Superstars”,“The Tomorrow People”, “Tiswas”, “Jim’ll Fix It”, “Space: 1999” and “The Sweeney”. I never liked Jim’ll Fix It, even from an early age Jimmy Saville creeped me out, but Superstars, won every year by Kevin Keegan, was great.

It was an interesting year in music for me as, being only 9, I would mostly only hear what was on the radio and, for the most part, that would be 45’s, which were somewhat at odds with the albums from this year that I have in my top 50. The top selling 45’s of 1976 were:

1Save Your Kisses for MeBrotherhood of Man
2Don’t Go Breaking My HeartElton John and Kiki Dee
3MississippiPussycat
4Dancing QueenABBA
5A Little Bit MoreDr Hook
6If You Leave Me NowChicago
7FernandoABBA
8I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)Tina Charles
9The Roussos Phenomenon EPDemis Roussos
10December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)The Four Seasons
11Under the Moon of LoveShowaddywaddy
12You to Me Are EverythingThe Real Thing
13Forever and EverSlik
14SailingRod Stewart
15Young Hearts Run FreeCandi Staton
16The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)The Wurzels
17When Forever Has GoneDemis Roussos
18Jungle RockHank Mizell
19Can’t Get By Without YouThe Real Thing
20You Make Me Feel Like DancingLeo Sayer

The number 1 selling 45 by Brotherhood of Man was this years Eurovision Song Contest winner and was truly horrible. As it’s listed I Think it wise to take this opportunity to include a video of The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key) by The Wurzels as it is one of the greatest songs ever put to vinyl:

Now let’s begin the actual top 50 albums of 1976 according to me.

50Terry ReidSeed of Memory
49J.J. CaleTroubadour
48Tom Petty and The HeartbreakersTom Petty and The Heartbreakers
47KissDestroyer
46Lou ReedRock and Roll Heart
45UFONo Heavy Petting
44Ennio MorriconeNovecento
43Max Romeo War In Babylon
42Thin Lizzy  Jailbreak
41Bunny WailerBlackheart Man
40BostonBoston
39Jonathan Richman & The Modern LoversJonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
38King Tubby & Yabby YouKing Tubby’s Prophesy of Dub
37Peter ToshLegalize It
36Patti Smith GroupRadio Ethiopia
35La DüsseldorfLa Düsseldorf
34ParliamentThe Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein
33Fela Kuti & Africa 70Zombie
32Burning Spear  Man In The Hills
31Tangerine DreamStratosfear
30Black SabbathTechnical Ecstasy
29Lynyrd SkynyrdGimme Back My Bullets
28VangelisAlbedo 0.39
27Stanley ClarkeSchool Days
26Fela & Africa 70Kalakuta Show
25Miles DavisWater Babies

24. Abba – Arrival. Now I know there will be people out there amongst my vast readership of up to 3 people who will be suprised by this at number 25, however, despite what one might think of ABBA there is no denying that they were massive and this is the source album for Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You and Money, Money, Money, which I can’t deny enjoying as a 9 year old listening to the radio. 

23. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – The Roaring Silence. We had this at home and I was always intrigued by the cover. I didn’t know at the time that there was a Springsteen cover on it, because I had no clue as to who Springsteen was, but Blinded by the Light is the best track on the album by far.

22. Emmylou Harris – Elite Hotel. This would never have been anywhere near a top 10,000 had I not picked it up for £1 or so at a used record store this year. It won a Grammy or something like that I think, but I’d never paid any attention to her really. Here version of The Beatles Here, There and Everywhere is quite lovely. 

21. Blondie – Blondie. It’s not Parallel Lines, but the pre-cursor to it and contains tracks that are much rougher but are a clear indicator, in hindsight, as to what was to come.

20.  Rush – 2112. This album has probably slowly slipped out of favour with me over the years, from top 3 all the way down to where it is now at 20. There are a number of reasons for this, such as familiarity, age, the fact that it’s all bollocks really. I do still love it but just don’t feel about it now the way I did when I was a kid. 

19. The Upsetters – Super Ape. It’s only recently that I’ve really started listening to Dub & Reggae and its an adventure with there being so much to discover. This album is relatively new to me but I absolutely love it, it’s Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry of course so no surprise there, the guy is a genius of the genre.

18/17 AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap/ High Voltage. Two classic AC/DC albums from the Bon Scott era. Not much to choose between them really but I did anyway. 

16. Joan Armatrading – Joan Armatrading. This is a fantastic album and it’s easy to forget the impact and importance she had in British music, in 1976, Robin Denselow wrote in The Guardian that the album “showed that we now have a black artist in Britain with the same sort of vocal range, originality (in fact even greater originality in terms of musical influences) and lyrical sensitivity” as Joni Mitchell.

15. Genesis – Wind and Wuthering. There were 2 albums released in 1976, both post Peter Gabriel and while I like them both this one falls slightly short of the other, although, it is, in many ways much fuller musically. So on another day I may well switch them around depending on my mood.

14. Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record. Jeff Lynne is a great song writer and it is on this album that I think he really found his feet. Songs like Telephone Line and Livin’ Thing still stand up to scrutiny all these years later.

13. Wings – At The Speed Of Sound. My favourite Wings album and one of two that I owned as a kid, the other being the live album ‘Over America’ which we had on two cassettes, one was mine and the other was my brothers. I think this album was a high point in McCartneys post-Beatles career. 

12. Ted Nugent – Free For All. Another album that I had as a kid and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it would be like Cat Scratch Fever but it isn’t at all, which turned out to be a good thing as it is much, much better.

11. Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail. The second appearance by Genesis and, in my opinion, the better of the two albums released in 1976. 

10. Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration. The eighth studio album by the Bob Marley and the Wailers, the album was a great success in the US, becoming the first Bob Marley release to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart (peaking at number 8). Marley is only credited as writer on one of the songs having named family and friends as the writers to avoid contractual disputes with his publishing company.

9. The Eagles – Hotel California. It was, of course, a huge album and that can’t be ignored, but I may be guilty of including it so highly just because it was. Overall, as a complete album, I don’t think it works that well but it does have several really good tracks.

8. Led Zeppelin – Presence. Though not considered to be their greatest work I’ve always been really fond of it and find it quite an achievement considering it was recorded in 18 days and Robert Plant had to sing from a wheelchair as he was recovering from a car accident.

7. Queen – A Day At The Races. This was the period that I thought Queen were at their most relevant, from the self titled debut to 1978’s Jazz, they had a run of 7 albums that showed development and growth and then, well, they became a pop act and I lost almost all interest in them.

6. Joni Mitchell – Hejira. An album of great writing that asks many questions but provides few answers, concentrating instead on the search, the journey for answers rather than any conclusions. Mitchell rarely disappoints and despite much criticism of her move to a more jazzy sound, backed by the fretless bass of Jaco Pastorius, time has taught us that her musical direction decisions are superior to those of reviewers.

5. Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life. At this point in his career Wonder was overflowing with creativity and this can be seen in the e.p that was included with the double LP just to get all his songs in. Considered by many to be the greatest album ever, including Elton John and George Michael, it isn’t perfect, but it’s approaching it.

4. Steely Dan – The Royal Scam. The fifth studio album by Steely Dan, featuring more prominent guitar work than the previous album, Katy Lied, which had been the first without founding guitarist Jeff Baxter. Steely Dan never made a bad album, just different degrees of excellence.

3. The Ramones – The Ramones. Historical significance does play rather a large part in the Ramones being up here at number 3 as it influenced so very much that I like that came after it. Clocking in at less than 30 minutes it isn’t long, but it’s impact is still felt.

2. David Bowie – Station To Station. Blending funk and krautrock, romantic balladry and occultism, this album has been described as “simultaneously one of Bowie’s most accessible albums and his most impenetrable”. It was the pre-cursor to the ‘Berlin Trilogy’ and already pointed towards those three albums.

1 Bob Dylan – Desire. I used to have 2 Bob Dylan albums, the other one was (Live) ‘At Budokan’, so ‘Desire’ was played a lot, well, when you consider I probably had 60 or 70 albums at the time the choices were somewhat limited, certainly compared to today. The repeated listening count is off the scale so the songs on this album are carved into my bones and, even though I know it is not the best Dylan album, it’s the best Dylan album.

Written February 22nd 2015 – Sometime in the 80’s (I think it was 1987) I saw Bob Dylan at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a little odd as the support act, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, did a long set that lasted about an hour and a half and then Dylan came on with the Heartbreakers as his backing band and did about an hour. At the time I was a bit disappointed, but I have subsequently managed to get a bootleg recording of the gig and it is a much better gig than I remember it being. I think that one of the reasons is that I was listening to ‘Desire’ a lot at the time and they didn’t play a single track from it, so it was my own expectations that were at fault more than anything.

And that is my top albums of 1976, feel free to disagree with me, because I disagree with myself most of the time.

The Greatest Christmas Number 1 Ever

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m sure everybody is as excited about what the Christmas Number 1 will be as I am, which is actually not at all, I couldn’t care less, however, there was a time when it held a much greater importance. The Beatles have the most Christmas Number 1s with four in total. The first three, I Want To Hold Your Hand, I Feel Fine and Day Tripper/We CanWork It Out topped the Official Singles Chart consecutively from 1963–1965. Hello, Goodbye was the fourth in 1967. Spice Girls also had three consecutive Christmas Number 1s: 2 Become 1, Too Much and Goodbye from 1996 to 1998.

Versions of charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas? have topped the charts at Christmas three times, Band Aid in 1984, Band Aid II in 1989, and finally for Band Aid 20 in 2004. The first version of Do They Know It’s Christmas? is the biggest selling Christmas Number 1 of all time, with over 3.8 million copies sold.

The only song to get the Christmas Number 1 twice by the same artist is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It first topped the Christmas charts in 1975 and then again 16 years later, following the death of Freddie Mercury. 

All fascinating facts but by far the most interesting Christmas Number one story for me is from 2009. The X Factor winner had, for the previous four years, been pretty much guaranteed the Christmas Number 1, and they were all pretty crap. To refresh your memory, in 2005 the Christmas Number 1 was That’s My Goal by Shane Ward:

Apologies for the overload of bland, it really is awful but winning the X Factor was, at this time, an absolute guarantee of sales and the show itself was almost offering the winner the Christmas Number 1 as part of the prize for winning. 2006 saw Leona Lewis win the show and her single was A Moment Like This. Now there is no doubt that she has a great voice and she does seem to be a lovely person who has managed a decent career as a result of the show. I don’t like the song very much either but the girl can sing:

Still hungry for more? Of course you are, how could you not be? On to 2007 and Leon Jackson with When You Believe, drivel, absolute drivel. Jackson has been dropped by his record label and has done nothing much of any note since his one and only album. Here it is, enjoy:

Still with me? You are? I’m surprised. On to 2008 and Leona Lewis light, or rather Alexandra Burke, who is very much like Lewis, just not as good or as likeable. There is a also terrible ridicule due for taking on Hallelujah and ruining it, Alexandra, do you have any clue whatsoever what you are singing about?:

In 2008 something was happening, a push back against the contrived crap being vomited into our faces by the X Faxtor had begun. A husband and wife team, Jon and Tracey Morter, started a Facebook campaign to get Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up to number one as a nod to the popular internet meme of Rickrolling. While the campaign did gain some traction, managing to get the song back into the charts 21 years after its initial release, eventually peaking at number 73, it ultimately failed and the number one spot, unsurprisingly, went to Alexander Burke, it’s up there if you can bear to listen again.

The couple had another go, this time trying to get Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 hit Killing in the Name to the Christmas Number one spot. It’s a pretty fine choice, an anti-establishment mantra with the theme of not doing what you’re told. It was also pretty sweary, so that would be funny. 

Over a million people ended up liking the Facebook page resulting in the story being widely covered by the media. Lead guitarist of RATM, Tom Morello, was supportive of the campaign from the beginning and the band pledged to donate all the proceeds they made from the sale of the song that Christmas to the homeless charity, Shelter. The band also thanked fans for their support in 2010 by playing a free gig in London.

The song’s lyrics, which contain the word “f*ck” about seventeen times, depending on the version you’re listening to, were deemed unsuitable for radio. This came to a head when the band was invited to play a live version of the song on BBC Radio 5live and they were specifically requested to not say the line “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” Lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, screamed the offending line four times during the song before being pulled off air. 

The Band were signed with a label owned by Sony BMI, which also owned the label X Factor winners signed with, so the same company that was the source of the initial outrage just made more money than they normally would have thanks to the promotion and competition driving up sales. Although that was not really the point of it.

RATM did find themselves, rather surprisingly and probably inappropriately, with the Christmas Number 1. This is what it beat to the Number 1 spot that Christmas, Joe McElderry’s The Climb:

I’d rather listen to a dog throwing up to be honest. 

So, just in case I haven’t made it obvious enough, Rage Against The Machine gets my vote for the best ever Christmas Number 1. I do hope it starts to appear on compilations such as ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’:

Here is the full list of all the Christmas Number 1’s since the charts began:

YEARTITLEARTIST
1952HERE IN MY HEARTAL MARTINO
1953ANSWER MEFRANKIE LAINE
1954LET’S HAVE ANOTHER PARTYWINIFRED ATWELL
1955CHRISTMAS ALPHABETDICKIE VALENTINE
1956JUST WALKIN’ IN THE RAINJOHNNIE RAY
1957MARY’S BOY CHILDHARRY BELAFONTE
1958IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVECONWAY TWITTY
1959WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THOSE EYES AT ME FOR?EMILE FORD & THE CHECKMATES
1960I LOVE YOUCLIFF RICHARD & THE SHADOWS
1961MOON RIVERDANNY WILLIAMS
1962RETURN TO SENDERELVIS PRESLEY
1963I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HANDTHE BEATLES
1964I FEEL FINETHE BEATLES
1965DAY TRIPPER/WE CAN WORK IT OUTTHE BEATLES
1966GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOMETOM JONES
1967HELLO, GOODBYETHE BEATLES
1968LILY THE PINKTHE SCAFFOLD
1969TWO LITTLE BOYSROLF HARRIS
1970I HEAR YOU KNOCKINGDAVE EDMUNDS
1971ERNIE (THE FASTEST MILKMAN IN THE WEST)BENNY HILL
1972LONG HAIRED LOVER FROM LIVERPOOLJIMMY OSMOND
1973MERRY XMAS EVERYBODYSLADE
1974LONELY THIS CHRISTMASMUD
1975BOHEMIAN RHAPSODYQUEEN
1976WHEN A CHILD IS BORN (SOLEADO)JOHNNY MATHIS
1977MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS’ SCHOOLWINGS
1978MARY’S BOY CHILD – OH MY LORDBONEY M
1979ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2)PINK FLOYD
1980THERE’S NO ONE QUITE LIKE GRANDMAST WINIFRED’S SCHOOL CHOIR
1981DON’T YOU WANT METHE HUMAN LEAGUE
1982SAVE YOUR LOVERENÉE AND RENATO
1983ONLY YOUTHE FLYING PICKETS
1984DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID
1985MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONESHAKIN’ STEVENS
1986REET PETITEJACKIE WILSON
1987ALWAYS ON MY MINDPET SHOP BOYS
1988MISTLETOE AND WINECLIFF RICHARD
1989DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID II
1990SAVIOUR’S DAYCLIFF RICHARD
1991BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY/THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVESQUEEN
1992I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUWHITNEY HOUSTON
1993MR BLOBBYMR BLOBBY
1994STAY ANOTHER DAYEAST 17
1995EARTH SONGMICHAEL JACKSON
19962 BECOME 1SPICE GIRLS
1997TOO MUCHSPICE GIRLS
1998GOODBYESPICE GIRLS
1999I HAVE A DREAM/SEASONS IN THE SUNWESTLIFE
2000CAN WE FIX IT?BOB THE BUILDER
2001SOMETHIN’ STUPIDROBBIE WILLIAMS & NICOLE KIDMAN
2002SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUNDGIRLS ALOUD
2003MAD WORLDMICHAEL ANDREWS & GARY JULES
2004DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID 20
2005THAT’S MY GOALSHAYNE WARD
2006A MOMENT LIKE THISLEONA LEWIS
2007WHEN YOU BELIEVELEON JACKSON
2008HALLELUJAHALEXANDRA BURKE
2009KILLING IN THE NAMERAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
2010WHEN WE COLLIDEMATT CARDLE
2011WHEREVER YOU AREMILITARY WIVES WITH GARETH MALONE
2012HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHERTHE JUSTICE COLLECTIVE
2013SKYSCRAPERSAM BAILEY
2014SOMETHING I NEEDBEN HAENOW
2015A BRIDGE OVER YOUTHE LEWISHAM & GREENWICH NHS CHOIR
2016ROCKABYECLEAN BANDIT
2017PERFECTED SHEERAN

múm ‎– Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy

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I like múm a lot but their records aren’t readily available new and the used market it expensive. All I have is one album and a 12″ EP. Still, they are both good. Before we go any further, and just in case you have never heard them, here is a track from this album:

Ok, I accept this is not for everybody. The video has 3.8k likes and 1.1k dislikes on youtube, which is a pretty bad ratio for a music video, but it is all rather left field and, frankly, who cares, it isn’t as bad as this:

bieber

Completely irrelevant comparison, you’re welcome.

So, Múm are Icelandic, it’s pronounced Moom in case you wondered, and were formed in 1997 by Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, who were joined by twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir. According to Kristín, the band’s name was not intended to mean anything. Gyða left the band to return to her studies after the release of Finally We Are No One. In early 2006, Kristín also left the band, although it was not officially announced until 23 November of that year. With only Tynes and Smárason remaining in the group, a large group of new musicians were brought on board: guitarist/vocalist/violinist Ólöf Arnalds, trumpet/keyboard player Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, vocalist/cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, percussionist Samuli Kosminen, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mr. Silla.  The new collective of musicians recorded their fourth album during 2006; This one, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy which released on 24 September 2007. Yes, always up to date me, just 11 years since its release.

There is only one official video related to this album but a couple of people made their own, which are below for your listening and viewing pleasure.

One of múm’s principal attractions for me is their approach to orchestration. No instrument seems to be off the table, from a parping accordion, a soft piano, a razor sharp violin harmonic. These can all appear in the same track but despite the potential pitfall of unlistenable cacophony, there always seems to be room in the soundscape they are creating for what they include. It is not often that one can suggest that music ‘Sparkles’, but with múm is seems an appropriate description, particularly on this album as they take acoustic instruments and electronic and merge them seamlessly together as wood growing into metal and becoming indistinct from each other.

 

Inside the gatefold cover there is a little pouch in which a 7″ single has been slipped containing the tracks ‘Guilty Rocks’ and ‘Winter (What We Never Were After All)’ which are two tracks that ar eon the CD version, so I assume they didn’t want to stretch everything out over a double album and went for this method instead, it works, the 7″ feels like a bonus. 

Tracklist

LP-A1 Blessed Brambles
LP-A2 A Little Bit Sometimes
LP-A3 They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded
LP-A4 Those Eyes Are Berries
LP-B1 Moon Pulls
LP-B2 Marmelade Fires
LP-B3 Rhuubarbidoo
LP-B4 Dancing Behind My Eyelids
LP-B5 School Song Misfortune
LP-B6 I Was Her Horse
7″-C Guilty Rocks
7″-D Winter (What We Never Were After All)

Rating: 8.8

Spinning some 45’s

Sunday afternoons are a good time to spin a few 45’s, starting with this one:

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Tricky ft PJ Harvey – Broken Homes (B-Side)
Gary Numan – I Die You Die
The Sisters of Mercy – Temple of Love (1992)
The Dickies – Banana Splits
Talking Heads – Once In A lifetime
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Blondie – Dreaming
The Tubes – White Punks On Dope
The Raconteurs – Steady As She goes
Sinead O’Connor – Jump In The River (B- Side)
The Cure – The Exploding Boy (B-Side)
David Bowie – Cracked Actor – (B-Side)
Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
Martha & The Muffins – Echo Beach
Black Uhuru – The Great Train Robbery
Spiritualized – Soul On Fire
Bjork & David Arnold – Play Dead
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Christine
John Foxx – Underpass
Mogwai -Party In The Dark
Lena Lovich – Joan
Catatonia _ Game On
David Bowie – DJ
Killing Joke – Sanity
P.I.L. – Rise
Prince – When Doves Cry
The Smiths – The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1136278651/playlist/1MiMPfu9CXy8hQitsl7Kvv

This is why I’ve never been asked to DJ at a wedding, the dance floor would rarely be occupied, which, in a way,I’d be quite pleased about.

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Death and Vanilla – From Above 45

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I have almost certainly mentioned my love for Death and Vanilla  so I won’t go on about it again now. I just wanted to quickly mention a 7″ single that arrived the other day. I really like the graphic design of their covers and I’m also a sucker for coloured vinyl, so I had to have this really, there it is on my record player, on the left there.

I have a renewed interest in 7″ singles of late and they can be found quite cheaply if your prepared to dig through them at used record stores, usually at the £0.50 each sort of level or a bit more if they are considered popular or rare, but most people still don’t bother that much with them. Before I go any further, here is the A Side from this single, give it a spin:

Back to 7″ singles, I was digging through a rack of them a couple of weeks ago and picked up the following:

Beats International – Burundi Beats
Carmel – It’s all in the game
The Style Council – Speak Like A Child, Walls Come Tumbling Down, Shout to the Top
Soul II Soul – Get a Life
Black Uhuru – The Great Train Robbery~
Public Image – Rise
Bomb The Bass – Say a Little Prayer

Nine singles, £5, bargain really and they aren’t just to go on a shelf and be forgotten about, every couple of weeks I have a little 45’s session, it’s a break from whole albums, like your own mix tape in vinyl form.

So don’t ignore those rows of used 45’s in the record store, have a flick through, you will probably find something interesting.

Here is the B-Side of the Death and Vanilla single, Lux:

 

 

 

Spinning 45’s

I have been playing some 45’s this evening, it’s more effort than chucking an album on but I rather enjoyed it anyway, it’s like a mixtape of sorts I suppose. Some of the 45’s were picked up in a couple of job lots and I’ve just found time to play them, they all play fine, which is good.

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Before playing anything I had to make some adjustments to the equipment. The family decided they would put a record on while I was at work. I’d left it set at 45 rpm and they put on a 33 1/3, Damn by Kendrick Lamar to be exact, and couldn’t figure out why it sounded so odd. In an attempt to fix it they pressed the Loudness button and the Muting button on the amp, adjusted the Balance and the Bass. when that didn’t work they messed about with the settings at the back of the tone arm and took the weight off accidentally and couldn’t figure out how to get it back on. It took me 15 minutes to put it right, mostly because it took me ages to spot the muting button was pressed in.

Anyway, here is the pile of records that were played today. I made a spotify playlist of them, because I do that sort of thing, it’s here:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1136278651/playlist/7d0RalpttYlPAJ3Dll5UzJ

Haven’t played ‘Music for Chameleons’ by Gary Numan for a long time, the intro could easily be by Japan (Pino Palladino on bass seems to be the reason why). The B-Side (Noise Noise) features Theresa Bazar of Dollar on Vocals, it also has David Van Day listed as providing ‘Helpful Hints’, I think that can be translated as being a pain in the arse. Why Gary? Why? I didn’t play the B-side.

Looking at what I chose to play I think it fair to say that I am the DJ that nobody would ever hire twice!

 

 

The Police – The Early Years

I was still at school when I first heard the police, and I’m pretty sure the first thing I heard was Can’t Stand Losing You, so it was either 1978 or 1979 when it was re-issued. I cantstandsuspect the former as I would have been 11 maybe 12 at the time, which seems right. Somebody had a copy with them at school, I was smoking behind the gym before going into a Religious Education class in a temporary class room, it is probably still in use today, and I remember somebody showing it to me, it may have been the blue vinyl one or the black, I don’t recall which, or who it was that had it, or why they had it with them. I just remember being shown it. This would have been the second proper release, the first having been Roxanne (and Fall Out on an independent before that, with a different guitarist)

After that I somehow became absolutely obsessed with The Police for two albums and then, quite suddenly, I wasn’t. But that first album, ‘Oulandos D’amour‘, I loved that and it was a time where we, as kids, had no income so everything was 7″ singles first, and it didn’t really matter when you got them, 6 months after release or on the day of release, just as long as you got them. Occasionally there was some swapping done which was anything you could throw in for a vinyl record from another kid who really wanted 10 cigarettes and a box of matches, or some other item that you might have access to.

I had a small but steady income from school dinner tickets. Coming from a single parent family I received free school meals. On a Monday I would queue up with everybody else for that weeks dinner tickets, collect my free ones and then go back down the queue and sell them for a bit less than somebody was going to buy their official ones for. We both roxanne_-_the_police_28original_uk_release29won really, except I never had any dinner at school to speak of course, a problem that continues to a degree today.

Before I owned either of those first two albums I had 7″ singles, Roxanne without the telephone cover, just a plain one. I had Can’t Stand Losing You in blue vinyl with the hanging man cover, So Lonely with the jumpsuit cover, and at some point I had a copy of that first single, Fall Out’ with Nothing Achieving as the B side, I think it was the 1979 reissue after they had their initial success, but the Stewart Copeland penned A side is a bloody good track:

Do you remember the So Lonely jumpsuit cover? I thought they looked so cool and I had no self realisation that they might, but that I would look bloody stupid if I wore the same thing.

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The second album came out and I had, from somewhere, the first two singles from it, Message in a Bottle and Walking on the Moon. All these singles had something that is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to experience today, I actually have difficulty describing what it is, but I’ll give it a go. While I gather my thoughts, here are a few videos to enjoy:

So for those first three singles I had only the records, bits from Smash Hits, Sounds or Melody Maker and not much more. I didn’t see any of the videos at the time, the most I would see would be TOTP and, for instance, on Thursday 3rd May 1979 I must have been out, because I didn’t see this:

I don’t remember seeing this either:

I DO remember seeing this one though:

My point is that there was limited access to information about the band, a lot was word of mouth or from the aforementioned publications, so there was a degree of mystery involved. There was also a sense of community, where you would go to somebody else’s house and they would play you a record you didn’t have yet, including the b side that you wouldn’t hear on the radio, only there. The music was tied in with key life events, the first this or that linked back to the songs. There was a lack of derivation and knowledge of influences, what you were listening to was seemingly brand new, plucked from the ether for your listening pleasure and this made it feel warm and complete and, somehow, specifically for you. That is what it is not possible to experience anymore but it is what I experienced then.

Speaking of the lack of information available to the young fan, in 1979 Andy Summers was 37 years old, I had no idea , though I knew he was a bit older than the other two, and don’t really know what I would have thought about it then, I think it would have irked me somewhat. Sting was 28 and Stewart Copeland was 27, which seems much more acceptable, to a 12 year old.

I don’t recall where or when I finally got the second album, Reggatta de Blanc, but I remember getting the first album, Outlandos d’Amour, very well. I was visiting my Mother and Step-Father-to-be during the school summer holidays. I was going on a bit about how I wanted this Police record that they had in the record shop at the end of the street, it was £3.99 I think. Eventually my Mother gave me a £5 note and told me to go and get it, so I did, this made me very happy indeed. When my Step-Father-to-be came home I was sat there with it and thanked him for it. There was then much shouting, slamming of doors and  bit of a hissy fit, which made me feel rather uncomfortable, but not guilty. My Dad was bringing up two boys with no financial contribution and little emotional contribution either, and had been doing so for 4 or 5 years. £5 was a piss in the ocean really. Sure, money was no doubt tight, but overall, my brother and I were probably some of the least expensive children they could possibly have.

Then came something that I really coveted. The six pack! It was a collection of seven-inch singles released in 1980. The pack came in a PVC folder and contained the first five A&M singles plus a mono version of The Bed’s Too Big Without You, which was the_police_-_six_packunreleased elsewhere at the time. The records in the pack were all produced on blue vinyl in picture covers with specially adapted labels which featured an overhead picture of the heads of the band (used on the back cover of the Reggatta de Blanc LP), rather than the original “A&M” logo. Each single was also accompanied by a special picture card (3 group shots and 3 solo shots), with the lyrics of each single printed on the reverse.

It was The Bed’s Too Big Without You that I wanted as far as songs go, but I wanted all that blue vinyl as well, and that Roxanne telephone cover. I didn’t know at the time that it was on Reggatta de Blanc as I didn’t have the album at that point. Had I known I probably wouldn’t have been quite so desperate to own it, which was a desire that was never fulfilled. While it was readily available I couldn’t scrape together the money for it. I do still occasionally think about buying it now, a decent copy is about £25.

From somewhere I did have one of The Police badge picture discs, I can’t remember which one it was though, it may have been from third album Zenyatta Mondatta, which means it was possibly Don’t Stand So Close To Me, which means it would have been this one, which looks familiar:

the_police_dont2bstand2bso2bclose2bto2bme-662175

It was around the time of the third album that I lost interest, not completely, I have all the original albums, a few singles and at one point I had a CD Box set with everything they released on it. What I lost was that feeling that I spoke of before, after the first two albums it was as though that special shine had gone, for me at least, and it was very much to do with everything else that was going on in my life at the time. It is why, in my opinion, nothing they did after those first two albums comes close. The only thing I would change about Outlandos d’Amour is Be My Girl Sally, you know how some jokes are only really funny the first time you hear them and become increasingly unfunny the more you hear them until they just make you cringe? Well that is Be My Girl Sally for me, Andy Summers should have been banned from song writing after that abomination.

So in summation, I loved those albums, and all the singles, the singles first actually and I’ve been playing them today and they are just brilliant. I’ll leave you with this very short video I just shot, perhaps it sums up everything much more succinctly than I could with words.

 

 

Catatonia – Misunderstood?

I’ve always liked Catatonia, from when I first heard them, which was 1997. It was 4 years after the release of their first single at that point but ‘Mulder & Scully’ caught my attention, not only because it was a catchy number and that I was a bit of an X-Files fan, but because of the undisguised Welsh accent of lead vocalist, Cerys Matthews. I liked that, being from there myself and having endured several years of people taking the piss out of my accent, it was good to hear somebody be rather proud of it.

I only ever owned one thing by Catatonia though and that was a CD single of ‘Londinium’ which I saw in a bargain bucket one day not long after it was released. There were several occasions when I very nearly bought the second album “international Velvet’ but ended up getting something else instead.

I listen to the Cerys Matthews show on Radio 6 and a few months ago, while listening to the show, decided to start looking for some old Catatonia records. It’s an ongoing thing and I don’t have any albums as yet, they are damn expensive, but I have picked up several singles, most of which rather surprised me. They are really nicely done, interesting artwork, coloured vinyl, and of course, good tracks.

Here are what I have so far:

I’m a sucker for coloured vinyl and these are really nice examples, the only one in black vinyl being ‘Londinium’.

Speaking of which, it is probably one of my favourite tracks of theirs, particularly the lyrics, which have nice pauses to change the meaning of the end of the previous line a little.

London never sleeps, it just sucks
The life out of me, and the money from my pocket
London always creeps, showbiz hugs
The life out of me, have some dignity honey
Euston, Paddington, train station please
Make the red lights turn green, endlessly
My black cab rolls through the neon disease
Endlessly, endlessly

Here is a brief compilation of the singles I have, reacquaint yourself or listen for the first time, it may be better than you think;