Beatnik Time

Altrincham used to have a couple of record shops but in recent years has had none. Last Saturday, Record Shop Day, a new record shop opened- Beatnik Shop. I popped down yesterday with the wife and kids in tow. It’s a cracking little shop, opposite the covered market and next door to the Belgian Bar (which could be handy). In their first week they’ve been in The Guardian and been visited by Mike Joyce. Not only does Beatnik Shop sell records (mainly second hand, a few RSD ones hanging around- mostly Aerosmith, unsold for some reason) but it also does coffee, tea and cakes, which bought me ten minutes rummaging time. There’s a good amount of 80s indie and punk, 60s and 70s psych, folk and weirdness, pots of funk and soul, some wooden boxes with cds in and several boxes of 7″ singles (Northern soul, indie etc). The range and quality shows it’s stocked by people who know their stuff. They’re promising in-shop performances and this Friday an evening in conversation with music journalist and writer Paul du Noyer. All in all a welcome addition to Altrincham, a town which has been on it’s arse for a couple of years to be honest. I hope they manage to make it work. I will be back regularly I suspect. After a while I found a vinyl copy of John Betjeman’s Banana Blush lp and scraped together the three quid required. The last song on it is this…

A Child Ill

The Quiet Dignity Of Unwitnessed Lives

I’ve been listening to The Asphodells album Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust non-stop recently. Andrew Weatherall and Timothy J Fairplay have crafted a proper ten song album, half of the songs with singing by Weatherall, soaking up the past thirty years of electronic music and a bucket load of other leftfield influences to make something new and modern (well, modernish). There are echoes of post-punk, especially in the basslines and the long trumpeted AR Kane cover (worth the price of admission alone almost), and those steam powered drums and percussion he’s been using in his recent remixes. They chuck in some eastern tones (on Beglammered) and take John Betjeman to the dancefloor (with his poem Late Flowering Lust and the title of this post and song). The effects of dub are there in the bass and the production. And while it sounds a bit serious and moody in parts there’s light and humour in it too. It sounds like an album, not just a collection of dance-influenced tracks, and is a sidestep and half step on from Weatherall’s solo album A Pox On the Pioneers from a couple of years back. I love it and reckon I’ll still be listening to it in months to come. I just wish the vinyl would hurry up and arrive. Do yourself a favour- listen to the song below; then go and buy the whole lp.

The Quiet Dignity Of Unwitnessed Lives

There’s a brand new Weatherall Asphodells hour long mix at Fact too.

Various Black Victorian Towers

This Margie Geddes. When she died aged 96 over a hundred love letters and postcards from John Betjeman were found under her bed. Betjeman was quite the ladies’ man, having a wife and a mistress besides Margie and several engagements behind him. I posted a Youtube video of his poem The Licorice Fields Of Pontefract set to some nice guitar and horn backing by Jim Parker in 1974 the other day. For your convenience and pleasure this Sunday morning I’ve ripped it. Somehow a bit of poetry feels right for a Sunday morning.

The Licorice Fields Of Pontefract/In The Public Gardens

In the licorice fields at Pontefract
My love and I did meet
And many a burdened licorice bush
Was blooming round our feet;
Red hair she had and golden skin,
Her sulky lips were shaped for sin,
Her sturdy legs were flannel-slack’d
The strongest legs in Pontefract.

The light and dangling licorice flowers
Gave off the sweetest smells;
From various black Victorian towers
The Sunday evening bells
Came pealing over dales and hills
And tanneries and silent mills
And lowly streets where country stops
And little shuttered corner shops.

She cast her blazing eyes on me
And plucked a licorice leaf;
I was her captive slave and she
My red-haired robber chief.
Oh love! for love I could not speak,
It left me winded, wilting, weak,
And held in brown arms strong and bare
And wound with flaming ropes of hair.

The Seaside Town They Forgot To Close Down

Bagging Area loves The Smiths, from their first recorded note to the end of Strangeways, Here We Come. Except Golden Lights, no likes that. Bagging Area is somewhat choosier about Morrissey’s solo career, which has had more ups and downs than a two year old on a trampoline. The first few records were promising- Suedehead was a great ‘You can’t knock me down’ first single, Viva Hate had many good moments (Everyday Is Like Sunday particularly, Late Night Maudlin Street still hits me, a few others as well). The appearance and guitarwork of Vini Reilly and Viva Hate’s high points can’t be a coincidence. Last Of The International Playboys was a proper, Smithsy single that still sounds great today. After that we parted company me and Moz until a flirtation with Your Arsenal (mainly the ace glam stomp of Glamorous Glue)and then didn’t get back together again until his post 2000 rebirth with You Are The Quarry, the better Ringleader Of The Tormentors and then Years Of Refusal. There are individual solo songs I’ve heard and liked but I don’t own any other Morrissey solo lps apart from a best of.

Everyday Is Like Sunday is superb late 80s indie pop. A cracking tune and playing with a great lyric invoking the truly melancholic state of the English seaside town out-of-season. It also echoes Sir John Betjeman with his ‘come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’ line.

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Betjeman recorded much of his poetry including this, The Licorice Fields Of Pontefract, set to music in fine style. I’ve been looking for this on 7″ for years.