07 November 2008

Millie - My Boy Lollipop (German) mp3

Fontana (Germany)

Millie - My Boy Lollipop (German picture cover)

Millie Small recorded a load of stuff (including one of only two Nick Drake covers recorded during his lifetime, an inexplicable take on Mayfair), but it's this utterly perfect two minutes that she'll always be best known for.

It's the song that brought ska to global attention, a delightful skippy groove with a harsh slap of a production.

When I'm DJing I keep My Boy Lollipop and Superstition separate and always visible. If ever I paint myself into a corner or summat's floundering and flagging, I throw either of them on. They set themselves completely apart from any tune you may have just played, and they are utterly incendiary to a dancefloor.

This isn't the version you know, mind. It is, as the sleeve proudly proclaims, the Deutsche Originalaufnahme.

Unlike others who sang versions of songs entirely in German, Millie veers randomly between that language and her native English. This, though, only serves to make it all the weirder.


download My Boy Lollipop (German version) (2.9MB MP3)

26 October 2008

The Wasters - Accept My Love & Don't Stop mp3

Uni (USA)

The Wasters - Accept My Love

I know absolutely nothing about this band, but what does that matter when the music is sooooo good?

They have a mix of early 60s sweet soul vocals with a late 60s warmth underneath, something about the way bass amps have been invented bringing proper bottom end on to records, but there's much more, a gorgeous summery sweep with outstretched arms that exalt and uplift.

Although the vocals do remind me of early Smokey Robinson and even earlier rich romantic doo-wop groups like the Five Satins, there's also another foot in the Stylistics-style 70s soul.

Accept My Love is a melty ballad that swoons and languidly sparkles, but the one that really really gets me is the flip, Don't Stop. You wouldn't believe how many times in a row I get compelled to play this sucker.

Loose wah-twangs droop and snag around a brass punch and a gossamer funky beat, late 60s Northern Soul at its irresistible best. Turn it up and let your feet show you what they were made for.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry! See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you'd like these tracks emailing to you]

07 September 2008

Little Stevie Wonder - Workout Stevie Workout mp3

Tamla (USA)
TAMLA 54086

Little Stevie Wonder - Workout Stevie Workout

I remain profoundly and, in all likelihood, immovably unconvinced by the freemarketeering pro-nuclear corn ethanol salesman Barack Obama. Anyone who can say 'clean coal' with a straight face is not to be trusted on anything.

But seeing Stevie Wonder singing Obama's name, though. Before I saw that I didn't think anything could ever persuade me to step into the ring and be the puppet of ecocidal vested interests. Now, however, I totally get why Obama's up for it and suspect that in his position I'd go for it too.

Just imagine it, only with Stevie Wonder singing your name.


Even allowing for the tracksuit misjudgement, tell me this wouldn't do it for you too;

Those, though, are as nowt. Check out Superstition on Sesame Street.

It's the song as we know it but with - is it possible? - even more funk. Then it goes into an uber-funky jam for two minutes, then a false ending. Then - you fucking what? - a minute of Stevie singing 'Sesame Street'! Over Superstition!

Bear in mind that, ten years into a career of classics, the guy was only 22 or 23 here; he has the kudos, the track record, the long-term immersion in music that make it seem to be something he breathes. Set free from the bonds of this earth, he's adrift in funk heaven. At the same age 'young' pop stars like Noel Gallagher and Morten Harket were still years away from making their first records.

But it's way back to the start we're going to go now. As Little Stevie Wonder, he released his first single in 1962 aged 12. Already he was good enough to not only sing but play drums on it too.

The breakthrough came the following year with the storming live single Fingertips Part 2 (Marvin Gaye on drums that time), a spontaneous freakout that sounded like a James Brown's band squirting gospel as they fell down a stairwell.

The follow-up was this equally frenetic riproaring gospel swirl, Workout Stevie Workout. It's an irresistably joyous, contagious, uplifting soulful geyser to bounce you round the room.

[Sorry! MP3 deleted to make way for new ones]

21 August 2008

Immaculate Fools - Immaculate Fools mp3


Immaculate Fools - Immaculate Fools cover

Belle and Sebastian. The Selecter. Living In A Box. Slowdive. Tin Machine. Talk Talk. The Colour Field. Goodbye Mr MacKenzie. Madness.

The list of bands with eponymous songs is an unsurprisingly short one. I suppose Big Country almost got there with In A Big Country, and Dexy's had an oblique stab at it with Kevin Rowland's Band.

It's surely a tougher thing to do when you're a solo artist, so kudos to Bo Diddley and two other nearly-made-its, Julian Cope's Julian H Cope (his middle name's actually David) and Mr Jeays by Philip Jeays, a songwriter and performer whose talent is only matched by his gobsmackingly inexplicable obscurity.

Anyway, in 1985 there was this proper eponysong, Immaculate Fools. They appeared out of nowhere and had the smell of a serious wedge of record company loot behind them. Production by Colin Thurston (Duran Duran, Magazine, Human League) and mixing by the legendary Glyn Johns (Beatles, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, you name it). Beyond the big name techies there was the real mid-80s sign of a Big Hype, the double pack 7 inch.

They were another of those bands who, like Bauhaus, Tubeway Army or Psychedelic Furs, made something decent out of having plainly spent their adolescence obsessing over Bowie. This may even have been a reason they went with producer Thurston. He was, with Bowie and Iggy Pop, one of the 'Bewlay Brothers' team that produced Lust For Life.

The song is a glorious pop swooner. The way it just rolls in from the intro, the stately glide, a little arty and knowing, somehow simultaneously contrived and effortless, graceful and swaggering, and a chorus that sticks in your head for days.

There is a video on Youtube, but I'd recommend just listening first. They look soooo 80s. Floppy fringe? Check. Waistcoats? Check. Mullets, too many tom-toms, big glasses, peroxide? Yep, all there. It distracts from the real worth here, the richness of tone, the way the dry English voice cuts over the warm, woody soar of the chorus.

It scraped to number 51 in the charts, no other hits. A one-hit wonder I bought at the time and know very little about, but it still sounds great today and more people should hear it. Now that's what doing an MP3 blog's all about.

The back cover warns me that home taping is killing music and it's illegal.

Home Taping Is Killing Music logo

It's also anachronistic. Don't tape this track, help yourself to the MP3 instead.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!]

25 July 2008

The Flaming Ember - Westbound No.9 mp3

Hot Wax (USA)

The Flaming Ember - Westbound #9 single

Holland-Dozier-Holland were the powerhouse songwriting team at Motown. Dozens and dozens of the finest soul and pop songs you'll ever hear. Reach Out I'll Be There, Where Did Our Love Go, This Old Heart Of Mine, You Can't Hurry Love, and one I've had on repeat play recently, Baby I Need Your Loving.

By 1967 they felt they weren't getting a chunky enough cut of the Motown financial pie. Failing to get redress, they left the label. Motown pointed out that they were under contract until the early 70s and couldn't write anywhere else.

Holland-Dozier-Holland started their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax. They were just producing, you understand. Not writing, no, because that wouldn't be legal. Instead, song after wonderful song was being written by a mysterious team called Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne.

You know that gradual yet total way that Elton John went from supposedly straight and married to out and proud? Well over the years denial has morphed into complete acceptance that Dunbar-Wayne is Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Oddly, their performers overlapped with Motown a fair bit. Their first signing, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, featured Joe Stubbs, ex-Contour and brother of the mighty Levi.

Soon they got an established Detroit band, the Flaming Ember. They'd released half a dozen singles on the great soul label Ric-Tic but when Motown bought up the label the band got dropped, and Motown's former employees stepped forward to catch them.

This single's got that fabulous sharp twangy distorted guitar like on Behind A Painted Smile (the thing Edwyn Collins appropriated for A Girl Like You), it's got a dose of that late 60s/early 70s soul thing for gritty social description and a sticky catchy chorus, all belted out by a great gutsy voice.

I've done it again; misheard a white record for a black one. And, again, I'm not alone. Flaming Ember bassist Jim Bugnel says

Eddie Holland held off releasing our Westbound No. 9 Album in L.A. because there were two black stations in L.A. that would not play songs by white artists, so he waited until Westbound No. 9 hit No.1 on those stations and then he released the album in Los Angeles and booked us on Bandstand.

There's a lot more of this post-Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland that's worth checking out. I'm presuming you know already Freda Payne's belter Band Of Gold (but maybe didn't know it was Holland-Dozier-Holland).

Chairmen of The Board did some wonderful singles (check out Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything's Tuesday) and then they, like so many of their contemporaries, got the funk (go get their version of Sly Stone's Life & Death). Now it was time to step into the funk-light, and no less a funkadeity than Parliament released their first album on Invictus.

This MP3, though, is from a very specific point in soul history as the gloss of the 60s has peeled away and yet the dirt of funk is yet to be revealed.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

17 July 2008

Teardrop Explodes - Traison (C'est Juste Une Histoire) mp3


Teardrop Explodes - Treason 12 inch cover

And those foreign language versions just keep on coming.

Today I discovered what is already one of my favourite MP3 blogs Crying All the Way To The Chip Shop - superb writing and equally good choice of eclectic tunes - and because its recently posted a Teardrop Explodes track, I feel moved to post one too.

By 1981 Julian Cope had already made one or two weird corners in his back catalogue, and on the B-side of the 12 inch of Treason he made another, re-recording the vocal in French for no apparent reason. At least with the Motown ones they presumably were made for a purpose, to sell better in places that spoke the language.

This track, though, registers low on the Cope scale of weirdness, compared to stuff like the LAMF 'ambient metal' album, or forming a band called Queen Elizabeth and calling the second album Queen Elizabeth 2 - Elizabeth Vagina, or his 1999 CD Odin; one track, 73 minutes and 42 seconds of him going aaaaaawwwwwwwhhhhmmmmm.

I'm guessing you wouldn't want to listen to that one very much, so I'm sticking with Traison (C'est Juste Une Histoire).

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

If you don't already know it, check out Cope's website. It's a lot more than the usual biog and merchandise. The man himself has a lot of personal input - there's a monthly Address Drudion piece as well as his album of the month review. But there's a lot more beyond too, with the Unsung section of album reviews posted by anyone, the Modern Antiquarian featuring a gazeteer of over 3,000 stone circles and ancient sites, and the political bit that I helm, U-Know.

09 July 2008

Four Tops - Gira Gira & Piangono Gli Uomini mp3

Tamla Motown (Italy)

The Four Tops - Gira Gira cover

Time for another foreign language version. Two, actually.

Motown did quite a lot of these. The Supremes' Where Did Our Love go becoming Wo Ist Unsere Liebe for the German market, the Velvelettes francophonically turning As Long As I Know He's Mine into Puisque Je Sais Qu'il Est Moi, and Martha and the Vandellas blueprint for Town Called Malice, I'm Ready For Love, became the Spanish single Yo Necesito De Tu Amor.

The Temptations did My Girl both in German (although calling it Mein Girl was kind of cheating) and in Motown's second language, Italian. The lightness and delicacy of that song somehow makes it one of the funniest to hear in a different language.

But my favourites are these, a great Italian 45 with Gira Gira (Reach Out I'll Be There) and Piangono Gli Uomini (I Can't Help Myself).

Levi Stubbs' great aching yawp is one of the most affecting things ever recorded. Such power and pleading, such a cry, such soul.

So hearing him apply that to what you're sure must be a phonetic lyric sheet that he doesn't understand is just brilliant.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want these MP3s emailed to you]

12 June 2008

The Dovells - You Can't Sit Down mp3


The Dovells - You Can't Sit Down single

I bought this single not knowing anything about the group, but just from listening to the first minute and being blown away. I love the way it bursts into life, no slow intro or gradual build-up but a flying kick to the head before you've had any warning. It's a rip-roaring early 60s beat freakout, but who were the band?

I hadn't consciously thought about it, but I presumed they were a black group. Evidently so did a lot of people listening to American radio in the 60s, and this band of white cleancuts would play more black venues than white, including shows at the Apollo and with Ray Charles.

It wasn't necessarily the vocal sound that made me think it wasn't a white record so much as the looseness and kinetic energy of the track.

The very early 60s was a strange time, as rock n roll's first thunder rolled away and diminished and the world was unknowingly waiting for the Beatles to rejuvenate everything. Into the void stepped a lot of twee and sanitised Connie Francis pop, the sort of thing Radio 2 still loves to play in the daytime.

There were also a lot of dance-craze records. As a generation of white folks emerged who'd grown up with rock n roll, they came out on to the dance floor. It was still unknown territory so they needed a bit of instruction, hence records came out that would have specific moves. It also regulated rock n roll dancing and thereby made it less threatening. There was the Hitch-Hike, the Twist, the Watusi, the Mashed Potato, the Stomp and loads more.

And then once there was a hit record, every artist desperate for a hit - and not caring about much creative worth or any long-term prospects - would jump the bandwagon and do a new tune about the dance, telling us how all the kids love doing this all night long.

The Dovells were labelmates with Chubby Checker, whose The Twist had started the biggest dance craze of them all (even though his version was in fact a cover of a Hank Ballard track).

You name it, some bugger twisted it; Florida Twist, Peppermint Twist, Spanish Twist, everybody Twisting The Night Away even though Mama Don't Allow No Twistin'.

Oddly, that general 'sequels are never better' rule is bucked, and two of the best twist records are bandwagon jumpers, Twist and Shout and Chubby Checker's own Let's Twist Again (on which, incidentally, the uncredited backing singers are the Dovells).

Even though these were as unashamedly commercial as a toy given away with a Happy Meal, some of the tracks are genuinely great. As Julian Cope pointed out, the funny thing about rock n roll as an art form is that anyone can make it work; paradoxically, a facsimile of rock n roll is usually the real thing.

The Dovells grabbed on to the stomp bandwagon in late 1961 with The Bristol Stomp. Check out this vintage performance. Despite the suits and ties, the shit-eating grins and the hilariously sedate audience (I can laugh for hours watching a loop of the bit from 0.32 to 0.37), there is some real pace and verve. There's this thin veneer of corny choreography struggling to cover the volatile bubbling youth energy. They just don't stop moving, it reminds me of footage of the Two Tone bands.

See what I mean?

By the way, they claim that 'the kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol when they do the Bristol Stomp'. Does this mean the kids are rather blunt then? I mean, pistols can be pointy at best, but hardly sharp.

Whatever, that fizzing energy really burst through on You Can't Sit Down, everything good in them to the fore with a real wildness, jittering, pounding and then exploding, a contagious sense of raucous party that propels you skywards. It's one of those records that could be issued to hospitals - if a patient doesn't start dancing to this then it's time to pronounce them clinically dead.

The Dovells' lead singer and - when they took the occasional break from cover versions - main songwriter Leonard Borisoff quit in late 1963, and then came back in 65 with an utterly brilliant solo single. As Len Barry, he wrote and recorded 1-2-3.

I've known and loved that record since I was a teenager but, yet again, I'd not thought about it but sort of just presumed it was a black singer. It ranks right up alongside any mid-60s Motown and soul you can find, great production and even though it's a song of devotion there's such a gorgeous melancholic edge to his voice.

Motown also thought it was like their stuff. Specifically, they thought it was like Ask Any Girl, the B-side of the Supremes' Baby Love. Barry denied it, but Motown sued and the courts thought Motown were half right and split the royalties.

There is one bit you can spot, the chords dropping after the title's said, but really it was a bit harsh to have Motown trousering half the money. I find little sense in a world that takes royalties from 1-2-3 and My Sweet Lord but leaves Noel Gallagher alone despite using All The Young Dudes for not one but two big-earning hit singles (Stand By Me and Don't Look Back in Anger).

If you haven't already got it, go and get Len Barry's 1-2-3.

Meantime, roll back the carpet, get ready to air-sax and stick this one on.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

15 May 2008

Roddy Frame & Edwyn Collins - Consolation Prize mp3


Aztec Camera - Good Morning Britain cover

Paul Weller said he split The Jam because they'd become too big to make a difference. It sounds a bit odd until you think it through. He'd hit a level where normal life was impossible, where there were a small army of people dependent on him for a job and, worst, where fans adored anything he did simply because it was him. If he'd released an album of him reading Benny Hill scripts it would've sold shitloads.

So I think good fortune comes not with being a megastar, but in having the space to really explore and express. That means a certain level of commercial success, but still an ability to walk down the street unnoticed so you're still in the real world, and nobody wanting you to do a record just like your last one.

However, being so unnoticed can mean you get one hit and for the rest of your life everyone wants you to sing that one song to them. Marc Almond's autobiography starts off with yet another cabbie calling his wife saying 'you'll never guess who I've got in the back' and making him sing Tainted Love.

How much worse it must be when the one everyone knows you for is, like Tainted Love, a cover, or some novelty nonsense. Consider Jeff Beck's prowess and then the fact that Hi Ho Silver Lining is his best selling record.

Occasionally, fate is fairer and the one hit is representative. The Church's Under The Milky Way is a case in point, and so was Aztec Camera's Oblivious. Sparkling, sensitive, a mysterious lyrical swirl curling round some soaring and unfeasibly complex jubilant intelligent acoustic guitar driven pop.

That sanity protection lower level of fame can perhaps be assisted a little by hiding behind a band name. Like Matt Johnson's The The, Aztec Camera is just Roddy Frame and whoever's with him, or like Mark E Smith put it, 'if it's me and your gran on bongos, it's The Fall'.

When he was 16, Roddy left school at Easter without taking exams because he already had a record deal lined up with legendary Glasgow indie label Postcard. Releasing beautiful songs with that trademark intricate guitar playing and a bracing freshness that he'd written himself. And he was dead good looking too.

There's just no justifying all that, is there? You can explain away something that comes to you from luck, or the fruits of hard work, but sheer talent has no excuse at all.

A jump to Rough Trade for an album, then a major label deal followed and a big world tour. And he was still only 19.

A couple of years later he was back with the Love album, a bit laden with late 80s polish, whose first two singles - including the wonderful How Men Are - slow burned into the lower end of the charts. Then came his second stab at being a one-hit wonder, the monster hit and soundtrack of summer 1988, Somewhere In My Heart.

So a lot was expected of the next album, Stray. Creatively it delivered, commercially it didn't.

Second single was Good Morning Britain. It gave a verse each to the four nations of the UK and their tribulations. Scotland and its suffering at the hands of Thatcher (they got the poll tax earlier than the rest of us) and new prisons (a fine use of money saved by cutting health and education spending), and getting the backhanded accolade of European Capital of Culture. Northern Ireland and the Troubles; Wales and the housing crisis caused by large numbers of English people buying second homes but the dream that then Labour leader Neil Kinnock would displace Thatcher (any port in a storm, I suppose). England and its institutionalised violent bigotry.

Yet the whole thing was interspersed with a chorus that said the shame of the past is easily discarded and held a bright hope for the future, culminating in a key change for the final verse that declared love is international and you've got to give what you can; you don't fight to win, you fight because there's things worth fighting for.

Frame said the song was written in honour of Mick Jones and the Clash, and indeed it sounds a lot like Big Audio Dynamite and features Mick himself. The last line is 'worry about it later', lifted from Complete Control (while I mention that, check out this hilarious mishearing).

Frame was clearly very proud to have worked with his hero, crediting the record to Aztec Camera and Mick Jones, and having a picture of the two of them on stage on the cover.

I saw three gigs on the tour. At Liverpool, Jones came on for the encore to do a couple of songs.

Aztec Camera - Liverpool 9 July 1990 ticket

A week later in London, he was on for a good half dozen.

Aztec Camera - London 17 July 1990 ticket

By the last night of the tour, a glorious hometown Saturday night in Glasgow, Jones came on for half the gig.

Aztec Camera - Glasgow 4 August 1990 ticket

It was the early 90s and a hideous hybrid was occurring in the music industry. It was still 80s enough that remixes were shitty, repetitive, clumsy affairs, but dance music culture had become widespread enough to make people do multiple remixes of the same track (anyone else get the Chilli Peppers' Give It Away? Sheesh).

The 12 inch of Good Morning Britain features three mixes. The CD has a further two but, mercifully, it also had two live tracks taken from that effervescent last night of the tour. One was, unsurprisingly, Good Morning Britain. The other was something really special.

In the encore Roddy had got his companero and old Postcard labelmate Edwyn Collins out. Edwyn inexplicably wore a big furry hat, and the euphoric night - end of the tour, home town, audience really vibing - combined with their clear affection for one another as they performed Consolation Prize, a song from Orange Juice's debut album.

That lovelorn literate wit that we too often think of as being a Morrissey invention is already there, in 1982, coming out of Collins' pen.

A thousand violins will play for you
While you sit and roll your deep blue eyes
A thousand to win, a thousand you lose
But I'll be your consolation prize
All you do is sigh

I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn's
I wore it hoping to impress
So frightfully camp, it made you laugh
Tomorrow I'll buy myself a dress
So ludicrous

I don't mean to pry, but didn't that guy
Crumple up your face a thousand times?
He made you cry

I'll be your consolation prize
Although I know
I'll never be man enough for you

The two men alternating verses, doing call and response and both enjoying the strum and roll of the guitars, it's warm, funny, and touching.

Even then, Collins felt like an elder statesman, early 80s indie so far back in time, yet he can only have been about 30. And Jones must've only been about 35, now I think about it, and he seemed like he was from properly far back in music history like Charlie Parker or Gustav Mahler or someone.

Three years ago Edwyn had a double stroke that left him unable to speak, read, write, walk or sit up. He has determinedly regained much of what he lost, and continues to improve. His memory has been severely impaired, as he explains

After my stroke I'd lost all the songs I ever wrote. I could recognise them as mine when I heard them on a stereo but I couldn't remember any lyrics. That took ages, writing them out and relearning all the phrasing.

Yet he did it. Far from being beaten or maudlin, in interviews he seems genuinely happy and keen to keep writing, with songs already written since the release of his new album. Furthermore, he's just finished a tour. Taking over on guitar was none other than Roddy Frame.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

Oh, while we're here, check out this fabulous picture from my Strawberry Switchblade site of Edwyn with Postcard founder Alan Horne and future Strawberry Switchblade guitarist Jill Bryson. It's 1981 and they're outside Postcard HQ in Glasgow.
[pic:Peter Mcarthur]

Edwyn Collins, Jill Bryson and Alan Horne, 1981. Pic:Peter McArthur

03 May 2008

David Bellamy - Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me mp3


David Bellamy - Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me?

Ye gods! It turns out that The Dinosaur Record isn't the only time those songs got an outing.

There's this single from everyone's favourite climate change denier, hirsute TV naturalist (but not, as far as I know, a TV naturist), David Bellamy.

Led by squidgy 70s synths, Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me gives us Bellamy all over-excited and a tad forced-wacky, sort of like an adult trying to hide how much MDMA is still in their system as they have to amuse a toddler.

Flip the disc and we get O Stegosaurus. Eschewing the tender verse vocals of the Dinosaur Record's version, the bits between choruses feature Bellamy telling us some fun facts about Stegosaurii. Where they lived, when, how big they were (demolishing that 'half a mile long and ten feet tall' claim once and for all).

But, it's a Mike Croft composition. If we're not going to have a factual error about a triceratops inventing rock n roll or an 800 metre stegosaurus, what can we have instead?

Bellamy doesn't let us down. He tells us that stegosaurii were 'gentle monsters who always ate up their vegetables as they went about their everyday business in their own prehistoric world'.

The single is dated 1980, the same year as the album, so I don't know which came first. Did the single come first and then Mike Croft's own versions come later, much like Carole King kept us waiting for Tapestry before we got her own renditions of Natural Woman and Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

Or is it that the album came first and then Bellamy picked up on it, much like Aretha Franklin brought Otis Redding's Respect to greater prominence?

The cover (upon both sides of which original owner Susan Wooller has written her name - did she think people mightn't notice the first one, or was she expecting the cover to be torn asunder by a frenzied audience thus requiring her name on both halves?) says 'Dinosaur characters (Bron and Delilah) copyright of Dusty and The Dinosaurs'.

It turns out there's a 1982 book, Dusty and The Dinosaurs - Primeval Pop, by that same Mike Croft.

A book, an album, getting established stars to do the vocals? It's all gone a bit Jeff Wayne.

Then, like Thomas Pynchon, Croft kept us waiting. It was ten years before we saw the two sequels.

It was a heady time for Moses style two-tablet deliveries from major artists; almost as if it were planned, three of them were equally spaced over a year.

In September 1991 Guns n Roses simultaneously released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

March 1992 saw Bruce Springsteen simultaneously release Lucky Town and Human Touch.

Then in September 1992 Mike Croft simultaneously published Dusty and the Dinosaurs - Drakula Island and Dusty and the Dinosaurs - Delilah's Rescue.

Proper music will return next post, promise.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones, sorry! If you want them emailed to you, leave your address in the Comments]

28 April 2008

The Dinosaur Record

Super Tempo
STMP 9017

The Dinosaur Record

Several years back I was one of a team of committed audio monganauts called Radio Savage Houndy Beasty. We blagged space on the local student radio station and did some late night far out stuff, really abrasive challenging stuff, some really beautiful stuff, some blissed out dreamy soundscapes, spoken word comedy, lots of swearing, all powerfully fuelled by a big blue bong. Trawl the downloads if that intrigues you.

It felt like a band that jammed, but we used other peoples recordings as our instruments. Lots of sound effect records, samples and loops (where other people tend to pick good beats and breaks, we'd be more likely to have foghorns and washing machine noises), and a lot of crap records found in charity shops.

When I first saw The Dinosaur Record I presumed it'd be an album of stories or something. But it's actually ten twee anthropomorphic songs for children.

Written by a team of Mike Croft and Chris Croft, with backing vocals from Janine Croft, Rachel Croft and Emma Croft, it's clearly a family affair. Thank fuck for that, I'd hate to think anyone had paid kids who sing so badly out of tune.

Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me is a song about a child wanting a pet and finding a brontosaurus to whom the youngster implausibly asserts 'I could take you home, nobody would know'.

Our credulity is stretched even further in Triceratops Rock by the bold claim that 'the rocking triceratops invented the rock n roll'.

Reggae rhythms lope away under the lyrics of O Stegasaurus, which at least stays closer to the facts. Praising the animal's 'own special style', the singer laments not sharing a world with them. Describing himself as the 'biggest fan' of this particular dinosaur, we get somewhat unnerved by the declaration that it is 'lovelier than any man'.

And then, just unable to go a whole song without a ludicrous factual error, he describes it as being 'half a mile long and ten feet tall'.

The stegosaurus was in fact around 30 feet long and 14 feet tall, and looked like this.

Stegosaurus, 30 feet long and 14 feet tall

If it were half a mile long and ten feet tall, it would look like this.

Stegosauraus, half a mile long and ten feet tall

I'm sure you'll agree that, compared to other stegosaurii, that stegosaurus does indeed have its own special style.

The RSHB reworking of Brontosaurus Will You Wait For Me can be downloaded here, but frankly nothing can make you as baffled as the straightforward originals, one of the all-time great 'what the fuck?' albums.

As you'd expect from a record designed to be cared for by small children, there's a hell of a lot of crackle.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones. If you'd like me to send you them - via a transferbigfiles.com link so they don't overload your inbox - then leave your email address in the Comments]

11 March 2008

Madness & Elvis Costello - Tomorrow's (Just Another Day) mp3


Madness - Tomorrow's (Just Another Day) 12 inch cover

Abba. Everyone neatly summarises and dismisses them in their mind as garish pop with big bouncy choruses and lots of female-fronted twee tackiness. Shiny, shallow, samey.

Yet even the most cursory flick through their singles tells another story. There are several dark disco classics, the blokes get to sing one, there's another with reggae rhythm, and an ominous brooding six minute single with no chorus.

By the same token, Madness are often seen as cheery cockerney chappies, a sort of seven man Two Tone Tommy Steele. But even early on they tackled other things, the lyrics to Embarrassment dealing with mixed race unmarried parenthood, the elegant gossamer anti-tory Yesterday's Men, and numerous darker lyrics such as Grey Day and Tomorrow's (Just Another Day).

Which is where we find ourselves. The 12 inch featured one of those irritating 80s remixes, all n-n-n-n-nineteen stutters and superfluous sections of the bass and drums on their own. I'll not waste your time with that.

Flip it over though and there's this re-recording with Elvis Costello on vocals. The jazzy setting is perfect for Costello's plaintive-with a-hint-of-malevolent tone. It hangs uneasily and brings so much more out of the song than the proper version, really pulling forward the alienation and depression's paradoxical turmoil/drudgery blend that flows through the lyric.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]

You don't really think of Madness as having weird corners to their output, yet this is the third one of theirs I've posted (the others were the Spanish version of One Step Beyond and Listen to Your Father).

22 February 2008

Frank Wilson - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) mp3

never released

bootlegged in UK as In, IN6326, late 1970s.
reissued in UK as Tamla Motown, TMG1170, 1979.
reissued again as Tamla Motown 982 153 2, year unknown (2004?)
reissued again (bootlegged?) as Soul, TMG1170, year unknown.

Frank Wilson - Do I Love You

My copy, you'll not be surprised to learn, isn't an original. The last one of those to change hands went for £15,000.

This pressing mocks up the original label design, but uses the catalogue number of the 1979 UK reissue.

Frank Wilson - Do I Love You original label

I first heard of this record reading Stuart Maconie's book Cider With Roadies, which chronicles his life growing up and the evolution of his marrow-deep love of music.

Whilst not having the profound spiritual depth of Nick Hornby's 31 Songs, nonetheless it's a deeply insightful piece of music writing. Few people can be so genuinely in love with popular music in all its forms that they really truly understand Gentle Giant, punk and Chic, and can explain to you exactly why.

Maconie also has a taste for the extremely experimental, and his weekly Freak Zone radio show is a must-hear. Which you can do not only on the radio but for a week afterwards online (at poorer quality; you can get a podcast of highlights).

He's also a very funny man, and I laughed out loud more times than there are pages in the book. Take this bit about Slade;

Noddy Holder was not, as I originally thought on hearing the phrase, some kind of bizarre Enid Blyton-related implement, but a jolly, worryingly raucous individual from Walsall. His trousers were generally too short, the better to display his 12-hole oxblood docs, the footwear of choice for the man about town with a great many heads to kick in.

He had a penchant for long multicoloured patchwork jackets of the sort favoured by Dr Who and Jesus' favourite stepdad Joseph, although there the similarities with leading religious figures ended. Like Gary Glitter he looked permanently, antagonisingly startled and he had adopted the aforementioned riotously verdant 'sidies' last seen on Jimmy 'Wacko' Edwards.

Best of all though was his hat. He nearly always sported a top hat with small circular mirrors attached. It was the kind of thing desperate mums make for their offspring just before fancy-dress parties when they have no clear idea what to send them as.


Amazingly, though, Noddy Holder was not the most ridiculously dressed person in Slade. That honour has to go to Dave Hill. Dave was the group's second guitarist and had a guitar that bore the legend Superyob. He usually wore a jumpsuit made of the foil that you baste turkeys in and platforms of oil-rig-derrick height. All of this though paled in comparison with his coiffure, a sort of demented tonsure with a great scooping fringe. He looked like a glam rock version of a medieval monk.

Noddy's co-writer in Slade was Jimmy Lea, now, amazingly, a psychotherapist. In 1973 the thought of being psychoanalysed by a member of Slade would have been hilarious and terrifying, rather like Liam Gallagher being Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The line up was completed by the brooding, taciturn drummer Don Powell. Not much to say here other than that, at the height of their fame, Powell was injured in a car crash and afterwards suffered bouts of short-term memory loss. I don't intend to make light of this but even then I used to wonder what it must have felt like to 'come to' in the middle of a set and realise, 'well, I'm obviously a drummer of some sort. Wait a minute, isn't that Noddy Hol- bloody hell, I'm in Slade!'

Anyway, Maconie was also a resident of Wigan in the early 70s. The chapter on the town's legendary soul scene included this description of

what is often regarded as the best and certainly the rarest Northern Soul tune, 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)', one copy in existence, current asking price £15,000. More important than the price, it is utterly wonderful.

If you want to know what the magic of Northern Soul is, get yourself a copy (it's readily available on CD compilations, only the vinyl is worth the price of a terraced house in Whitehaven) and allow yourself to be swept away by its life-affirming, luminous, lump-in-the-throat beauty and effervescence.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no ailment or depression so profound and weighty that two and a half minutes in the company of this fabulous tune won't lift and banish. Excuse me while I go and put it on.

You see why that sent me scurrying off to find it?

Wilson was a writer and producer who did a fair few records in the 60s but really hit a winning streak at the end of the decade and into the 70s, notably with the post-Diana Supremes. One of his songs for them, Stoned Love, is a corker in much the same vein as Do I Love You.

But in 1965 he had a dalliance with the idea of being a performer. Just the one single was made. It seems that a few hundred were pressed but it was never properly released. It was forgotten about until discovered in the 70s by Northern Soul fans in Britain.

As Nick Hornby points out in 31 Songs, Ian Dury's Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 is an amazing inventory of British traits. The line 'singalonga Smokey' may be about the American singer Smokey Robinson, but the British have always had a big love of black American music. We know we can't do it like them, but we really get what they do, it really speaks to us.

When the Stax Revue came over they were stunned to be mobbed at the airport and play a string of sold out concerts; this simply didn't happen to them anywhere else, not even back home. Even the standard term Northern Soul refers to that North of England scene in the early 70s.

To this day, old soul artists are amazed at the depth of knowledge and appreciation UK fans show compared with anyone else. Just the other week I heard Geno Washington on the radio making that point. No wonder it was British soul fans who discovered Do I Love You. We singalonga Smokey.

In the late 1970s, prior to any official release, British soul fans pressed a bootleg single of Do I Love You, with the label crediting it to Eddie Foster (In Records, IN 6326).

I've always loved Motown, and yet I'd kind of presumed that the classics were the best. It's a fair assumption. Anyone who's had a deep trawl through, say, first generation punk bands will know that there's a reason why we only know one song from Eddie and The Hot Rods or a couple from the Members but dozens from the Clash. It's cos the rest were shit.

Motown, however, is a case apart. Check out a compilation of Gladys Knight's Motown years and it's all killer no filler. Go a tad more obscure, get a Tammi Terrell and it's the same. And further it goes, into artists you've never heard of, until frankly if you did the maths Motown seem to have transgressed dimensional boundaries in the 1960s; there seem to be more hours of great Motown recordings than there were hours in the decade.

Then, if the released stuff wasn't enough, came the Motown Connoisseurs compilations. These were put together by Richard Searling, a Northern Soul legend whose credentials stretch as far back as being one of the original Wigan Casino DJs.

On Motown Connoisseurs Volume 1 there's a huge variety of Motown songs, all unreleased or painfully obscure, almost all of them as good as the classics that everybody knows. Volume 2 does more of the same, with the excruciating exception of a Four Tops track from the 80s.

However, Motown Connoisseurs Volume 1 featured Chris Clark's version of Do I Love You. Clark was Motown's first (and, for a long time, only) white signing. She possessed little of the charisma of her label mates and even less of their talent. Her version of Do I Love You is Wilson's backing track with Clark's anaemic voice failing to do it justice. It's like watching a wet tissue break over the front of a speeding train.

Searling then put together Northern Soul Connoisseurs. This has Frank Wilson's Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) on it. But it's a different version, a remake that lacks the urgency and effervescence of the single I've got. (It's quickly distinguished by the ad-lib "here's another thing I wanna say to you now" at about 0.58 just before the second verse).

In a further insult/injury interface, the recent reissue 45 (Tamla Motown 982 153 2) has Frank Wilson's inferior version backed with Chris Clark's!

The other week I was in a bookshop playing a top quality Motown compilation and there amongst all the tunes even your gran knows was Do I Love You, seemingly taking its place among the classics. But, again, it was the inferior version. This made me want to post the more yawping version here.

The single is a slightly shonky affair (hence my suspicion of it being a bootleg) and has endearingly/irritatingly missed off the first note. But three seconds in to the track you just don't care. You're off, soaring away on the greatest euphoric Motown stomper of them all.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]

Incidentally, Amazon do all those Connoisseurs albums for £3.33 each. If you're buying a £12 CD or DVD, it can be cheaper to buy one of these and qualify for free postage than to just buy your one item. Go get 'em!

01 February 2008

Florence's Sad Song 45rpm & 33rpm mp3

Music For Pleasure

Dougal and The Blue Cat cover

A year or two back Dave Boulter and Stuart Staples of The Tindersticks did an album called Songs For The Young At Heart. They got an impressive range of guest vocalists in to sing songs remembered from childhood.

The dependably heart-squeezing voice of Cerys Matthews doing White Horses, The Go-Betweens' Robert Forster doing Uncle Sigmund's Clockwork Storybook, Puff The Magic Dragon by Bonnie Prince Billy (I can't ever get into using the quotemarks round his middle name, it feels too much like the way newspaper headlines denote allegation).

Jarvis Cocker does a reading of Marriot Edgar's poem The Lion and Albert, and the CD is packaged in a book with pages made of card like books for the under 5s. Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian does Florence's Sad Song from the feature length film of the Magic Roundabout, Dougal and The Blue Cat.

The Magic Roundabout. Fucking mad as you remember it being. Then there are the songs, words written and sung by narrator Eric Thompson (father of Emma).

Florence's Sad Song is about as depressing a song as you've ever heard, a hopeless emotionally blacked out lament with startling lyrical similarities to I Am A Rock; the singer rues ever having been trusting and open, and resolves to construct a permanent and impenetrable psychic barricade to keep others out.

Yet look what you get on the back, a drawing of the artists to colour in with crayons or paints. You don't get that with System Of A Down.

Dougal and The Blue Cat back cover

There is one thing that can make this black pit of a song go one darker. Play the fucker at 33rpm.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]

14 January 2008

Kool & The Gang - Celebramos mp3


Kool & The Gang - Take It To The Top / Celebramos cover

Been a while since I posted one of those foreign language versions, so here's Celebration sung in Spanish, from the B-side of the 12 inch of Take It to The Top.

It was a great day when I found this record. I'd just been to see The Church, one of my favourite bands ever, in Brighton. The Church have been going so long and inspire such fervent devotion that there's quite a community of those of us who go to all their UK gigs. I've not missed one in 20 years. There was a day off after Brighton before the London date so we were going to hang out by the sea.

I rang T when I woke up, and he was in a big record fair he'd found in one of the posh hotels on the seafront, so I met him there. I'd not been to one for years, since the days of trawling the live tapes for those early REM gigs. These days you don't get the acres of live bootlegs at record fairs.

Indeed, I wonder how they can keep going at all in an age of Ebay, Gemm and Netsounds. I wasn't the only one feeling there was something surprising about a concept that felt intrinsically anachronistic, but I'll come to that later.

I mooched around, half interested but a bit skint and frankly looking forward to the pub, when I found a stall with a box of 1960s soul 45s. Always something of a soul boy (my birthday party every year sees me DJing a five hour 60s soul set), in the last couple of years it's started deepening. I'm spending embarrassing amounts of money on vintage American singles. Go and find, say, Real Humdinger by JJ Barnes or You Can't Sit Down by the Dovells and you'll understand why.

There were loads and, as always, I'd not heard of most of them. Some I knew the artist but not the track, others I knew the label but not the artist. The stallholder, as any decent soul stallholder should, had a little record player with him. Fatal. There were a good 50 quid's worth that I fell for.

I went and asked T what I should do. He shall forevermore be held in the highest esteem, for he did what any good friend should. He took me out of the building. To the cashpoint to get out a chunky wedge that I couldn't really afford to spend, then into the pub for a swift pint to loosen my judgement and grease the hinges on my wallet, then back to the record fair.

I stood with him whittling the choices down a little. There was one tune, Out On The Floor by Dobie Gray, that gave me The Grin, that instant liftoff sensation hearing something so irresistably exuberant and uplifting, the feeling I got the first time I heard Do I Love You by Frank Wilson or The Tams' Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy. Worth the cost of everything by itself.

Feeling all pleased and excited, on the way out my eye was caught by an Everything A Pound box of 70s and 80s soul. I picked up Celebramos.

I love the it-is-but-it-isn't feeling of these foreign language versions, the seeing your mum with a nosejob effect of having the same very familiar backing track and voice but a different language.

Spanish was a common choice for many bands as the population of Spanish speaking countries who love Western pop is probably second only to English. Indeed, on Celebramos the lyric is clearly a sop to them with the numerous references to 'los Latinos' and a shoutout listing of assorted Central and South American countries.

Just as I'm paying a bloke comes up to me and says he's doing a study on why people still buy vinyl in the age of the MP3 player. We go off into a room and I fill out a questionnaire about what I've bought and why.

The one that sticks with me is 'If push comes to shove and you were only allowed to listen to one track for the rest of your life, what would it be?'. Apparently other people had problems with that. I didn't. Natural High by Bloodstone (but the original single version, not that one you get on the Jackie Brown soundtrack with the weird double length splice on the intro and the inexplicable unforgivable spell-breaking uptempo bit at the end). The sweetest, softest, most beautiful track ever, like sinking into a warm bath of chocolate duvets.

The guy wants a picture of me with one of my new acquisitions. I want to hold up a real classic, The Contours' Do You Love Me?, original American 7 inch on Gordy. But from a distance it'll just look like a single with a purple label. It's not the Gordy single but the gaudy single that he wants.

There is only one record I've bought with a picture cover. (You're way ahead of me here, aren't you?). A record I only really bought for a laugh, and cos it was cheap. A record that has some blokes looking like twattish 80s Scousers in their tacky tracksuits on the front.

So somewhere out there there's a picture, me being represented and this thing being the archetypal piece of my vinyl, the proudest purchase from a room of thousands of records. Sheesh.

There is, however, a certain neatness in the way that the 'why in the age of the MP3 player?' vinyl he asked me about ends up as your MP3.

[MP3 deleted to make room for new ones. Sorry!]