Twenty One

Today is our eldest’s 21st birthday. Isaac was born on 23rd November 1998 and, as some of you will know, from that point on has had a complicated and difficult time. Diagnosed with a serious, life limiting condition at eight months, multiple operations, deafness, physical and learning disabilities, all compounded by meningitis at ten years old (a result of the refusal of his immune system to grow back following two bone marrow transplants in 2000). Along the way he has refused to stop or slow down and brought joy and laughter to almost everyone he meets- questioning them about the motorways they use, the day their bins go out, the tram or train stations they use and the supermarkets they shop at. He is now in his second year at college and loves it (his college in Salford integrate the young adults with additional needs with the mainstream students on one campus). He goes out with his adult social services group, a service that has somehow survived repeated cuts by the Tory government and council over the last ten years. Things have been on a fairly even keel in recent years but you can’t ever really take things for granted with him (his immune system is still shot to pieces) so twenty one is an achievement, a marker, especially for a young man who more than once while in hospital wasn’t expected to survive the night. Happy birthday Isaac.

I only twigged recently that this event was also on the 23rd November, nine years earlier. The legendary night in 1989 when Top Of The Pops was gatecrashed by Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. At the time in ’89 I remember sitting in my student house, finger poised over the record button on the rented VHS machine. Happy Mondays came on first, miming Hallelujah, the lead song off the Madchester Rave On e.p. Hallelujah on the 12″ is a colossal, six minute piece of grinding Mancunian funk, produced by Martin Hannett pumped full of pills the Mondays gave him, not the kind of song to make the nation’s favourite chart show. The 7″ featured a Steve Lillywhite mix (The MacColl Mix) slightly smoothed out with Kirsty on backing vox. It still sounds like a groovy, out of sync, unholy racket, Shaun William Ryder wanting to ‘lie down beside yer, fill yer full of junk’.

Kirsty joined the band for the TV appearance, dressed down in double denim and trainers. The Mondays had been to Amsterdam before the show for some ‘shopping’ and were all Armani-d up. As the cameras began to roll Shaun asked the nearby cameraman ‘does me knob look massive in these strides?’ Bez apparently remembers nothing of the day at all.

The Stone Roses appeared shortly after having ridden into the top ten with a double A-side, Fool’s Gold and What the World Is Waiting For. The forty date spring tour and debut album saw them grow and grow, bringing more  and more fans on board, hair was lengthening and trousers widening. Fool’s Gold was a step on completely from the album, nine minutes fifty three seconds of liquid, ominous funk, John Squire’s guitar circling round and round, helicopter noises and wah wah bedlam, Reni and Mani were locked in tight. Over the top Ian Brown whispers about greed, the hills and the Marquis de Sade.

Thirty years ago today and still sharper than the rest.

8

Morning. If it is morning when you’re reading this. Hope you’re feeling alright. On January 1st 2010 I published my first post here at Bagging Area. Today, 3441 posts and 9727 comments later, the blog turns 8. Thank you to all of you who read it, thanks especially to those who comment, and here’s to a few more. I never really set a deadline or expiry date when starting out. I’ll keep going as long as there is something to write about I  suppose. Like this…

Songs with 8 in the title aren’t numerous. This is a 1985 R.E.M. song about a passenger train running through the southern states. The chorus goes ”and the train conductor says ‘take a break driver 8, driver 8 take a break, we can reach our destination but we’re still a ways away”. In 2008 Michael Stipe introduced Driver 8 live by saying ‘this is a song that represents great hope and great promise, a song that represents the dream of the United States of America’. So it’s about that too.

Driver 8

This is from 1990’s still stunning 90 album this is a song that pays tribute to a drum machine. An attention grabbing intro followed by rave synths and beats with a great breakdown section.

808080808

In the days when football teams were numbered 1-11 number 8 was always a central midfielder- not the flash captain figure of the number 7 shirt and not the centre forward of number 9 but in between, a gutsy, hard tackling midfielder, someone who did the simple things well and chipped in with the odd goal. In the 90s Paul Ince and Nicky Butt were the number 8 shirt wearers at United. In the 80s the shirt belonged to Gordon Strachan and Remi Moses (and for a season apiece Ashley Grimes and Ray Wilkins). In the picture below Remi is to the left of Diego Maradona in a European Cup Winners Cup second leg at Old Trafford, one of the greatest games I’ve attended. Diego barely got a look-in all night. The first leg had finished 2-0 to Barcelona. The return leg was won 3-0 by United, with goals from Bryan Robson and Frank Stapleton, but the end to end performance of Remi was behind it. In the next round he marked and tackled Michel Platini of Juventus out of the game. Injury forced him to retire in 1988, aged just 28.

Sometimes These Words Just Don’t Have To Be Said

I read, skimmed more likely, an article recently about albums that are 30 years old this year- REM’s Document, The Smiths’ Strangeways, Here We Come and The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Darklands were the three guitar led biggies. It also included George Best by The Wedding Present, a record Dave Gedge and his band have been touring all year.

George Best is a superb album. Released in October 1987 George Best is the sound of four men plugging in and playing. There is no sense of production to speak of, no studio presence or tricks, just two guitars, bass and drums, recorded as they sounded live. Low budget, no frills. The cover shot picture of George Best and the green frame look like they could have been knocked up in minutes (and what a great shot of George it is). From the moment the needle hits the vinyl (or the cassette tape starts to spool) the 1987 indie kid then got twelve snapshots of Dave Gedge’s gruff northern voice over indie guitar rock. Gedge’s conversational lyrics and delivery were easy to identify with, a kind of northern (universal) poetry.

The album included a new version of the single that preceded it, My Favourite Dress. It opens with crunchy guitars, a two chord riff, and then the band come in. Gedge’s first verse deals with jealousy (‘am essential part of love’) and then comes the resigned ‘there’s always something left behind- nevermind’. In verse two a drunken Gedge describes the ‘scent of someone else in the blanket where we lay’. And then we get the best bit, the change, and a list of painful reminders of her- uneaten meals, a welcome ride in a neighbour’s car, getting soaked walking home, falling asleep waiting up for her to come home- building up to him seeing her kissing someone else and his hand on the dress. A growl as he delivers the final line ‘that was my favourite dress you know’. Love and loss in your late teens/early twenties skewered.

My Favourite Dress

I Can’t Stand By, See You Destroyed

What happened here on Monday night and what we woke up to yesterday morning defies belief in so many ways and it’s difficult to know what to say, especially in a music blog. Equally, it’s hard not to take something like this personally when it happens so close to home. My family and my workplace knew several people at the Ariana Grande show at the MEN on Monday night.

Manchester is one of the most culturally diverse, multi-cultural and inclusive cities in the country. As Dave Haslam said on Twitter yesterday ‘You’ve got the wrong city if you think that hate will tear us apart’. We don’t do small mindedness, racism and intolerance. One deluded, indoctrinated, murderous little fucker does not prove anything about the people we know as our neighbours. Anger and hatred and rage are understandable reactions to the deaths of twenty two people, including children, on a night out to see a gig, but the minute we give in to hate we have lost. We stand together, we feel anger but we love life, we love love and we hate hate.

This song by Doves came to mind and the opening line which gives this post its title. And also this part…

‘We don’t mind
If this don’t last forever
See the light
But it won’t last forever
Seize the time
Cause it’s now or never baby’

Pounding

At times like this football seems like a very small thing in terms of importance but it’s also a massive part of this city’s history and traditions. With any luck tonight United will bring home a European trophy, with a multiracial, multicultural team of young black British Mancunians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Equadorians, Dutchmen, Italians, Belgians, Armenians and more besides. United we stand.

Last Rose Of Summer

Yesterday was lovely, largely. The sun shone all day, in the morning I had a great cycle ride round High Legh and through Tatton Park. Later on we wandered round Knutsford town centre, poking around a few pricey antique shops, went for a cup of tea and some cake, sat in the sun for a bit. Some idiots* in Leicester town centre spoilt it a little but you can’t have everything. The late September sun was making me wonder whether this would be the last really nice day of the year, as a sunny day at this time of year always does.

Then this song was linked to somewhere by someone- Last Rose Of Summer by North Lanarkshire’s Delgados. A beautiful, fragile and quietly-noisy song. The Delgados made a bunch of fine records and were named after Pedro Delgado, Tour De France winner in 1988 and the 1985 and 89 Vueltas. No bandwidth so no download. This was from a Peel Session.

* Those idiots would be, in no particular order 1) Referee Mark Clattenburg 2) United’s panicky, under equipped defence 3) Leicester’s thug-in-chief Vardy 4) Dutch ‘genius’ Louis van Gaal who has splurged £160 million quid without noticing we have a somewhat leaky back four.

Back…

Back home, back to work, back to the blogging…

I’m a bit pushed for time having driven from the Kent coast to Manchester yesterday so you’ll have to wait until later in the week for any tales of adventures in the garden of England.

This is a picture of Darrow Fletcher. Before leaving for Kent I chucked a few homemade compilation cds into the car, one of which had a long run of northern soul songs on it (acquired from the usual suspects). This song really sounded good. Darrow was a child prodigy who had a massive run of singles in the late 60s through to the late 70s. The Pain Just Gets A Little Deeper was released in 1966 and was apparently a favourite at The Twisted Wheel. Listen to this and it’s easy to see why.

The Pain Just Gets A Little Deeper

Darrow Fletcher is not the Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher. But for us United fans as this season has gone on the pain has gotten a little deeper. Rumours abound that David Moyes may lose his job today. I think it’s the right thing if he does- it’s not really worked out has it?

 

Post 1999

These blog anniversaries keep coming- this is my 1999th post. And this is from Big Audio Dynamite II, a live release called Class Of ’92, with Mick and the boys covering Prince’s famous end of millennium song.

1999 (live)

Class Of ’92 is coincidentally also the name of a recent film concerning the class of 1992- Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham- of whom it was famously said ‘you’ll win nothing with kids’. Bloody kids. They did win something though didn’t they? United could do with some of them kids right now.