Why Don’t You Play Us A Tune Pal?

Nicolas Roeg has died aged 90. The films he made in the 1970s and 80s were the type of films you read references to and in those days where things were scarcer you hoped they’d eventually be shown late at night on BBC2 (with a VHS cassette close by). Performance is a counter-cultrue classic, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and James Fox all going slowly mad in a big house in Notting Hill Gate (and when it was being made Keith Richards waiting in his car outside the set, paranoid about what Jagger and Pallenberg might be up to). The soundtrack was legendary too and this (with my surname too, which added to it for me) is a genuinely great Jagger vocal with slide guitar from Ry Cooder…

Memo From Turner (Alternate Version)

Mick Jones paid tribute to Roeg, his films and especially Performance in Big Audio Dynamite’s 1985 single E=MC2, peppered with dialogue from the film and a verse about taking a trip in Powis Square with a pop star who dyed his hair, mobsters, gangland slayings and insanity Bohemian style. The opening verse is about Walkabout (1971) and the 3rd verse is about The Man Who Fell To Earth, another late night, video tape film that had the capacity to freak the viewer out.

E=MC2

The chorus took me years to fully work out and I’d sung all kinds of words along to it but I think it goes…

‘Ritual ideas, relativity
Holy buildings, no people prophesy
Time slide, place to hide, nudge reality
Foresight, minds wide, magic imagery oh ho’.

Happy Mondays 1988 masterpiece Bummed was also Roeg and Performance inspired with at least 3 songs referencing the film. Mad Cyril includes dialogue from it including the line that opens the song ‘We’ve been courteous’. The Mondays played it on Granada TV for Wilson’s The Other Side Of Midnight show, a band at their peak…

Double Mick

I was listening to that BBC 6 Radio Clash show yesterday and one of Mick Jones’ choices was Citadel by The Rolling Stones. Citadel is off the 1967 psychedelic disaster Their Satanic Majesties Request, an album with two, maybe three, good songs. I’d forgotten all about Citadel until Jonesey played it and it floored me, to the extent that I went to the vinyl collection, dug out Satanic Majesties (which probably hasn’t been out of it’s sleeve since the late 80s) and put Citadel straight on. Sneering, psychedelic garage rock. It’s got a superb nasty, psych guitar riff from Keef and Mick doing what sounds like a slowed down proto- Jumping Jack Flash vocal. Add in some noise that The Velvet Underground wouldn’t have turned down and you have what may well be the most under-rated song in The Stones whole back catalogue (which means all the records up to Exile On Main Street really doesn’t it?).

Citadel

And for the last day of 2013 here’s Bagging Area favourites Big Audio Dynamite with a lovely slice of late 80s house influenced positivity, Contact.

But what on earth was Mick doing with his hair?

Contact (Club Mix)

Comical Little Geezer- You’ll Look Funny When You’re Fifty

‘You know, I don’t think I’m going to let you stay in the film business’

Big Audio Dynamite’s E=MC2 is a big Bagging Area favourite, with it’s guitar riffs, drum machine, samples and lyrics all piling up on each other. Inspired by the films of Nicolas Roeg (Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Insignificance) the song is littered with vocal samples from Performance (provided by Don Letts’ primitive sampler) and lyrics that reference those films (provided by Mick Jones). Albert Einstein pops up ( from Insignificance) the ‘scientist eats bubblegum’ and gives the song its title. BAD had other great moments but this is up among them as their best.

E=MC2 (Extended Mix)

The line giving this post its title is from Performance, said by Chas (James Fox) to Turner (Mick Jagger). Jagger was at his counter-cultural peak when Performance was filmed in 1968- freed from jail the year before on drugs charges, a Street Fighting Man, shagging Anita Pallenberg (then Keith’s girlfriend) in the opening sequence of the film, all long hair, lips and Sarf London drawl. In 2013 he’s just a wanker who says he liked Margaret Thatcher and couldn’t understand why anybody wouldn’t. Enjoy ‘Glasto’ Mick.

>You’re Obsolete My Baby

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‘You’re obsolete my baby’ is a pretty cutting line. So is much of the rest of this Jagger-Richards written song, taken to number one in 1966 by the great voice of Chris Farlowe and some very cool strings. Mick Jagger’s songs from the mid-60s often showed some fairly neanderthal attitudes (see also Under My Thumb amongst others) but if we can leave that to one side this is a cracker of a single, recorded for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label. Wiki adds the following line to his page- ‘Outside his music career, Chris Farlowe collects war memorabilia.’

The Rolling Stones ‘Memo From Turner’

I thought I was done with The Rolling Stones. I listened to them loads years ago, mainly the 1968-1972 so-called ‘classic’ albums, amd have had times where I’ve loved the mid 60s stuff, but I got bored with them a long time ago. Besides, they havn’t, as everyone knows, done anything of consequence for decades, and being a Stones fan seems a bit like being a fan of Coca Cola, or Microsoft, or Tesco- a global brand making money first, last and always.

However the recent re-release of Exile On Main Street woke the beast, and when I was in the supermarket last week I gave in and bought the cd. My double vinyl’s pretty knackered anyway. I’ve played it all weekend, it’s worked well with this heat we’ve been having, and it’s so good- dirty, distorted, grungy, funky, bluesy, and all those things serious rock critics say about it.

This is Memo From Turner, from the film Performance. Credited to The Stones at the time, it’s actually Jagger and Ry Cooder, Keef staying away allegedly due to Keef’s then girlfriend Anita romping with Mick on the filmset. Top track this, all woozy slide guitar and Mick sneering about leather boys, Spanish speaking gentlemen called Kurt and daughter’s who lick policemen’s buttons clean.

memo-from-turner-1.mp3