Fifteen

There are two significant events today, June 14th 2018, one personal and one international. The first one, close to home, is the 15th birthday of number two child/number one daughter Eliza. Once, as the picture shows, she was young and cute and happily wore a Clash t-shirt. Now she is 15, growing up into a young woman and probably wouldn’t wear a Clash t-shirt.

Every summer in recent years we’ve driven to France with a stack of music. I get accused of hogging the car stereo. Not true obviously. Finding songs we can all agree on is a bit of an artform. Last summer we got there on this one- I’ve got to say, I think this is a tune. So you can have this one as your birthday song Eliza. Happy birthday.

One of Eliza’s presents is Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 on 7″ (which she should have opened by the time this is posted). So here’s your birthday bonus song…

We survived our first ‘proper’ teenage house party at the weekend, a mixed group of 15 of them in our garden, with music, dancing, shrieking and¬† ‘controlled’ drinking (you can control what they drink in your house- more difficult to control what some of them have drunk before they arrive). Apart from some minor damage to our already patchy lawn there was no harm done and much fun had. The party playlist was dominated by 80s pop, some disgraceful 80s soft-rock and some more contemporary stuff. Back in 1985, when I turned 15 this was the UK’s number one single…

19 is groundbreaking in its own way and genuinely memorable, and kept at the number one slot by regular releases of remixed versions. Vietnam was big in the mid-80s. A decade on from the end of the war people were getting to grips with it, what had happened and what it meant. I read somewhere recently that the average age of the combat soldier in Vietnam wasn’t actually 19 but 22. But that doesn’t really change the message of the song or the fact that if you were poor, uneducated or black you were far more likely to end up in Vietnam than if you were wealthier, educated and white. Does it Mr. Trump? Coincidentally I played it to my Year 11 class recently as part of their depth study on The Vietnam War. They weren’t very impressed if truth be told, the sounds were too dated and quaint, the stuttering vocal too cliched and the female backing vox too cheesy. But they took the message and the visuals in.

The other event today is the start of the World Cup, Russia 2018. This is my 11th World Cup. I have some vague memories of Argentina ’78 aged 8, memories of the final at least, which I was allowed to stay up and watch some of. Spain ’82 is the first one I really¬† remember- in the picture above Bryan Robson celebrates after scoring against France in England’s opening game. Mexico ’86 was a blast, taking place during my O Levels, the magnificence of Diego Maradona in his prime, England out in controversial manner and an epic France v Brazil game. Italia 90 was ace, mixed up as it was with New Order’s World In Motion, No Alla Violenza, Toto Schillaci, Roger Milla and an England run to the semi-finals.

Twenty-eight years on, this is still the only world cup record that really matters.

‘Love’s got the world in motion and we can’t believe it’s true’.

World In Motion (No Alla Violenza Mix)

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That’s What Gets Results

Who wouldn’t want a Face magazine t-shirt as modelled by Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama? I’m half tempted to print out the cut out slip and send it off to the address and see what happens (I’d have to put a postal order in I think).

Bananarama have reformed recently. They kept appearing on the Top Of The Pops reruns (not the 1985 ones showing at the moment but last year’s 1983 repeats). Cruel Summer sounded very good all these years later, a slightly off kilter pop song about love in oppressive summer heat in the city. The home-made dancing is refreshing too, a time when female pop stars weren’t drilled to within an inch of their lives. And maybe some of us were suddenly reminded why Bananarama being on Top Of The Pops week in, week out when we were 13 years old was something of a visual treat…

They first hit the chart due to their backing vocals on the Fun Boy Three’s 1982 hit single, It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It), which came about because Terry Hall saw an article on them in The Face and liked their look. They switched around for Bananarama’s next single Really Saying Something with Terry, Lynval and Neville singing backing for Siobhan, Sara and Keren.

It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)

The song was originally written in 1939 by jazz musicians Melvin ‘Sy’ Oliver and James ‘Trummy’ Young. It says something about the Fun Boy Three’s talents that they took an old jazz tune and turned it into a pop ska song, and then to number 4 in the charts (probably selling hundreds of thousands of copies).

So Much Confusion

‘…When October comes around’ said the Pet Shop Boys in My October Symphony. Later on Neil Tennant asks about whether we should ‘remember December instead or worry about February?’ I guess February just rhymed. I haven’t got any songs on the computer named after February and can’t think of many with lyrics referring to the second month other than this one.

My October Symphony is from Behaviour, 1990’s PSB tour de force. Produced by Harold Faltermeyer using analogue synths it mixes full on pop, rave influenced pop, ballads and what got called adult pop- musical, reflective, lyrically grown up, classy instead of teenage (which could sound a bit dull but Behaviour is an album that could never be called dull. Inventive, subtle, wry, expansive but not dull). My October Symphony chucks many things into the pot besides Neil’s lyrics- a blast of a male voice choir, house inspired backing vox, sweeping strings and a funky guitar part played by Johnny Marr. I always felt it’s a song about autumn really (and wanting to move on and change) but according to a PSB fan site- ‘Neil adopts the role of a Russian composer who has dedicated his life and work to the ideals of the revolution but now feels confused and betrayed in the wake of the collapse of Communism’. So there you go. On the same site Janet Street Porter claims it is about a lingerie model. Which one Janet?

My October Symphony

In 1991 they released a stand alone single, DJ Culture, partly to promote their singles compilation Discography, partly as a comment on the Gulf War and how George Bush borrowed from Churchill’s wartime speeches just as artists sample each other (with a reference to Oscar Wilde’s trial thrown in too), and partly because they’d recorded what was a very good pop song. As a single it kind of went missing, despite reaching number 13 in the chart.

And So The Conversation Turned

I’ve said it before- sometimes you find a picture and that drives the post rather than the other way around. That is the case today. Having found this picture of Joanne and Susan from The Human League, snapped for The Face in June 1986, I couldn’t not post it. The only Human League song on my hard drive is this one…

(Keep Feeling) Fascination

That’s a properly joyous blast of 1980s pop and no mistake. I do have at least one, maybe two of their albums on vinyl, and also their 1978 single Being Boiled, a pioneering piece of synth-art opening with some white noise and the words ‘Ok, ready, let’s do it’. Being Boiled was from the days before Joanne and Susan were plucked from the dancefloor by Phil Oakey and turned into pop stars while still at school. I think it’s safe to say that this would cause their school a few safeguarding issues today. Not to mention the tracking of their progress towards their predicted GCSE grades. The 1980s- a time when pop groups didn’t have to worry about Ofsted.

Why Why Why

Back to it this morning- early start, work clothes, motorway etc etc. It’s all a bit of a shock after two weeks off.

This Leo Mas and Fabrice version of The Woodentops’ Why Why Why is one way to ease the pain and lessen the blow. Eight minutes of sun dappled groove.

Why Why Why (Balearic Militant Dub)

British Summertime

At least from today onwards until October the clock in my car will be telling the right time. British summertime starts today- you did remember to put your clocks forward didn’t you? Yesterday’s sunshine made it feel like the seasons had changed at a stroke. Everything feels a little better with some sun on your face.

It gives me a good excuse to post this Ultramarine song from 1991.

British Summertime

Go Brothers Go

The new Chemical Brothers album (Born In The Echoes) is out today and being praised as a return to form. This single, Go, came out at the start of May and has already been viewed close to five million times on Youtube which would suggest they’re got a pretty healthy surviving fanbase. Go is funky, synthy and fun with Q Tip providing the hip-house vocals- the album also has Beck, St Vincent and Cate Le Bon on microphone duties.

I was in the car the other day and Block Rockin’ Beats came on. It’s the most blindingly obvious Chemical Brothers song (Hey Boy Hey Girl excepted maybe). Massive breakbeat. Big borrowed bassline. Hip hop vocal sample from Schoolly D. SIRENS! Totally in your face. No subtlety. No nuance. It’s completely stupid. And brilliant.

Block Rockin’ Beats

Due to ongoing issues with Boxnet this is via Mediafire but I seem to recall people having some problems with it before. Is Mediafire any use?