One of last year’s best singles was Amy Douglas’ Never Saw It Coming which came with a very smart remix by Crooked Man. In a record shop the other week I found Crooked Man’s album, Crooked House, which I missed last year. Crooked Man is Richard Barratt, a man who has been part of Sheffield’s music scene since the early days of Cabaret Voltaire, playing house music in the early days and at the start of bleep ‘n’ bass and was a member of All Seeing Eye. He has recently returned to the fray and made an album.

The nine songs on Crooked House are all aimed at shaking the walls and sending dancers to the floor, nine songs with vocals and verses and choruses (and if that sounds trad the music definitely doesn’t), big scuzzy basslines, songs that gather in intensity. It’s out on DFA. Try this one for size, with a naggingly great vocal refrain and a bleep running though it, it’s likely to get you up and moving- yes, even at our age.

Long Time Dead

Monday’s Long Song

I slept on Fontan’s album last year for some reason, not really appreciating its charms. I reached for it recently and then played it several days non-stop while driving to and from work. I’m the one at fault here, I should have realised what a beautiful and inventive record it is this time last year but, y’know,  better late then never. Fontan are from Sweden and put their records out on the excellent Hoga Nord label. Their self-titled third album opened with this track, Mangsebung, an atmospheric, gently psychedelic trip into space and back. And at over eight minutes long it more than qualifies for this series.


Johnny Don’t Point That Gun At Me

Johnny also showed his face in New Order’s epic 1987 song 1963. Having recorded one of their highest high points in True Faith, a song destined to put them into the charts, New Order put 1963 on the b-side in what must be one of the strongest singles of the 1980s. And so 1963 got a bit overlooked. It was released in its own right in 1995 and got a video too (with Jane Horrocks in it). As a purist I don’t quite count that release as a ‘proper’ New Order single. Although I like Jane Horrocks and the video.

In the song Bernard’s lyrics start out ‘It was January, 1963,when Johnny came home, with a gift for me’. Events take a turn for the worse. Soon enough Johnny changes from being ‘so very kind, so very nice’. He comes home with another wife and eventually Bernard sings’Johnny, don’t point that gun at me’ and a shooting occurs. Producer Stephen Hague has called the song ‘the only song about domestic violence you can dance too’. Bernard has suggested that the song is, like yesterday’s post, about John F Kennedy. Accordingly, in the song JFK arranges for a hitman to kill Jackie so that he can ‘do one with M. Monroe’. Lee Harvey Oswald shoots JFK by mistake, leading to Jack Ruby bumping off Oswald for doing such a bad job and causing Marilyn to commit suicide. Barney has his chronology askew here- Marilyn actually died a year earlier and JFK was shot in November ’63 not January. But then I’ve never been sure Bernard was being entirely reliable in this explanation of the song.

The 1995 version of 1963 was re-worked by Arthur Baker (and isn’t nearly as good as the magnificent 1987 version but I don’t have the original on the hard drive at the moment so you’ll have to put up with it).