Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Don’t wanna Go to….and other things

A few months back I posted a list of the recording acts that I truly can’t abide. It was (almost) a throw away list for which I got some flack, predictably, but I stand by every word of it. There are others I’d happily add to the list but they are all too predictable and to be honest, I can’t be really bothered. Certain acts are simply such easy targets and there is no fun in continually lambasting them and they don’t care. Instead, I’m satisfying the list fetish another way, with a scroll through the songs I really never want to ever hear again. Songs I’m absolutely and without reservation sick to death of. Rules, you need them, so I’ve only hit songs by acts I either like a lot or, some, I don’t actively detest. And only songs that are actually, by all reasoning, usually perceived to have a commonly agreed quality. If that makes sense. Hence no Stairway to Heaven or Money for Nothing. Those two miss out because the first is the universally agreed shitiest song by an otherwise great band, and the second is the shitiest song by an appalling band that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

And to counter I’m going to throw in a few tracks that never cause a groan…..

Never again please:

  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five….The Message…..god, not again. Why is it that every young wannabe old-skool dj feels the need to play this one as a badge of credibility. Joseph Sadler with and without the Furious Five (and vice versa) dwarfed this track half a dozen times or more…Wheels of Steel, We Rap More Mellow, Step Off, You Know What Time It Is, Scorpio, Freedom, The Birthday Party and Superrapping all leave it in the dust.
  • New Order….Blue Monday…groan. Yes it changed the world, yes it’s iconic, but should it ever be played again? No, fuck off….virtually every other New Order single of the same decade instead please. Although the b side is just fine.
  • Stevie WonderSuperstition…..makes my skin crawl. True, a good, maybe a great song, in its day, but that day is long set and a great big hole needs to be dug somewhere and every copy of this, plus the multitracks and the masters needs to placed in and the hole filled with sulphuric acid. Even the thought of Superstition is doing odd things to my stomach
  • The Beach BoysGod Only Knows…in fact most of Pet Sounds. I love Brian Wilson (and his brothers but the odious Mike Love can absolutely fuck off) and virtually everything he’s done, but this has long outstayed its welcome I’m afraid and has become such an overplayed piece of slush, it must be due for a Hayley Westerna cover soon.
  • James Brown...Sex Machine….take it to the bridge…if you must, but take it somewhere far from me…I love James Brown, his muse and his genius, but on anything else…..
  • Roy AyersEverybody Loves The Sunshine…..actually no they don’t. This is so gruesomely nice it does my head in. Overplayed, over-rated and over it. The same goes for I Live in Brooklyn, Baby. I dig Roy a lot but give me Poo Poo La La anytime thanks.
  • ParliamentFlashlight….see Sex Machine above…Clinton yes, can no wrong…almost, Flashlight no. I guess its too many nights in too many dark clubs over decades but I’ve always hated this. The 12” is a lousy edit too….
  • Blaze…..My Beat…I don’t care who mixed it, and half the planet seems to have done so, this is a stinker
  • The O’Jays…I Love Music…an exception that defines my Philly rule..see below
  • Cheryl Lynn...Got to be Real… no, please, I hate this record, always have, always will……
  • Inner CityBig Fun & Good Life…to be honest, both these walk a thin line between love and hate. It’s a mood thing compounded by the interminable remixes, good (the recent Agoria one of BF was sheer bliss and I’m fine with the Carl Craig and CJ Mac re-touches of GL) and the bad (most of the others sadly) and complicated by my love for most of Kevin Saunderson’s records. But these are, in late 2005, the very last records I want to hear in a club.

Songs I’ve heard a thousand times but….any time you want, the only rule here is that the song has to reasonably Sun Ra or Milton Wright:

  • The Clash….Bankrobber…actually I only threw this one on to the list as it came on the iPod whilst I was typing this bit and it made me remember yet again how, without any needed qualification, great, how monumental Joe Strummer actually was. The Clash, bless em, the greatest rock’n’roll band of the past thirty years and the second greatest band ever, full stop.
  • Blaze…If You Should Need a Friend…great soul music. They don’t make house tunes like this anymore (says the old guy)
  • First Choice…Double Cross….any version but especially the Danny Tenaglia 1993 remix. Timeless soul, the wonderful place in our musical history where r’n’b started to mutate into house, garage and techno. I need to add Runaway, Hit’n’Run, Ten Percent, You’re The One for Me, and at least two dozen other tracks on Salsoul, Westend, and Prelude. Anytime, anyplace, even if the thought makes me groan, as soon as I hear the opening bars of something like In the Bush, I’m suckered again.
  • Any damn thing on Philadelphia International (with the obvious exception above) but especially the 11 minute Krivit re-edit of MFSB’s Love is the Message or the slightly shorter Moulton mix it’s derived from; or Tom Moulton’s orchestrally orgasmic take on The IntrudersI’ll Always Love My Mama.
  • Elvis Costello and The Attractions…Watching the Detectives...the thought of it yet again actually makes me wince. I wonder how many damned times I’ve heard this thing. But each time I hear it the magic comes bounding back. 27 years young.
  • The Incredible Bongo Band….Apache…
  • SOS Band….Just the Way You Like It….Jam & Lewis pre 1990, absolutely rule.
  • Fingers Inc….Can You Feel It….forget the remixes, the various vocal takes, its all about the recorded-on-cassette mind boggling original
  • Kerri Chandler….Inspiration.. with Arnold Jarvis of course…and yes, once again, forget the remixes
  • The CleanTally Ho…yes I know it was lifted wholesale from The Mighty Wah and if Pete Wylie had had any inkling….but it’s the best $50 ever spent in NZ rock’n’roll. Roger sent me half a dozen of this on release and so there has never really been a little black sleeved single far from my turntable since
  • The Small Faces….Tin Soldier….another on that just arrived on the iPod…..a glorious little punk anthem from West London. Why do so many of the greatest bands surround themselves in tragedy
  • The Undertones….Teenage Kicks & True Confessions…Terry Hogan from Warners turned up at my record shop in 78 with a promo 7 inch of this and I’ve been thrashing that same, clicky, worn out disc ever since. John Peel, might be deified now and its easy to forget that he championed a bunch of right old tosh as often as not, but he wasn’t wrong on this.
  • Wham.....Everything She Wants…on the 12”….such a great great pop record
  • And of course a thousand others. I really only bumped these on the end to illustrate that I’m not such a negative bastard, really….not always anyway

I’ve had trouble getting away from three records in recent days, two of older stuff re-issued, and one mish mash of old and new. Richard Hell’s Spurts is a single disc comp (he had a double on Matador a few years back called Time but this is more concise) of one of my favourite New Yorkers of the past few decades. Listening to this record its hard to get away from how important but unsung Hell is/was. He provided Malcolm McLaren and Vivien Westwood with the styling that took them thru the next few years and took them from Kings Road hustlers to global names, on the way he helped invent the thing we now call punk rock…oh and he made some killer records, most of which are here. The only gap I can find is the omission of the stunning live take of Allen Toussaint’s Cruel Way to Go Down which appeared on the Matador album. The Orange Juice collection of pre-Polydor tracks, The Glasgow School is, I guess the best word is, lovely….just plain lovely. Many years ago I used to mail order UK indie and post punk singles out of a little record shop in Melbourne called Au-Go-Go. Owned by a guy called Bruce Milne (I think), those were the days when, courtesy of the Stalinistic paranoia of the Muldoon government, these things were simply unavailable in New Zealand..go into Real Groovy now and look in awe…it wasn’t always like that…I ended up with dozens of cute little seven inch singles and more than a few twelves. Amongst the raft of bits and pieces were lots of quite cool Australian underground singles (the last time I really enjoyed much music from the red continent actually) and pretty much everything on the Scottish Postcard label, including four singles from Edwyn Collins, James Kirk et al, calling themselves Orange Juice. Those singles, and an unreleased album are gathered here in a cute little black booklet with excellent liner notes, as all compilations deserve (are you listening Newmatics¸Blams...), and still sound just as rough and as charmingly vital as they did back then. Orange Juice went on to make some wonderful records after they jumped into bed with the majors, but they never bettered these tracks.

The other record I’ve been playing a lot is the Clone compilation Box Jams, Dutch and European electro tracks from the past couple of decades, mostly new but with obvious nods to Chicago circa 86 and the uber-Fashionality of Italo disco. Twisted and kind of thing exactly.

And a nod to The Walker for this fantastic list of one person’s 100 personal musical passions. As he notes, the written musical world is dominated by these sorts of lists and they sell magazines. I like them actually but they frustrate the bejesus out of me, as I guess they should. They are simply so wrong and I might get inspired to do one myself…just because I can. This list is amazing, because it’s adventurous, complex, unpredictable and full of some many truly great records. I won about 50% of his lot and although I can quibble and much of this won’t end up anywhere near my list, it’s pretty inescapably fine in both its content and execution.

That said, the Uncut and Mojo lists inspired me to buy the Black Mountain album….the best Sabbath album since Paranoid, albeit with a wannabe Peter Perrett on vocals instead of Ozzy.

I also have a soft spot for a take of The Jam’s lovely Carnation off an otherwise useless tribute album, as performed Liam Gallagher and Steve Craddock which does justice to the original. I hate the gruesome concept of tribute albums…they almost never provide anything of worth and I don’t like to see songs I like massacred by artists I don’t like. A case in point…the ugly recent Finns tribute with the likes of the rather unnervingly awful Missy Higgins and, worse, Brooke Fraser, an artist cynically manufactured by Sony Music, and radio in NZ, to do a Bic Runga (whose first album is a genuine masterwerk and, despite all indications to date being that she may not reach it again, iconically and timelessly great) and failing, despite her obvious genuine talent, and failing by failing to understand what made Bic so truly great…I asked my daughter, who professed to liking her early stuff which songs she still liked and she said she had no recollection of any of them a year later….I can still recite most of Drive a decade later…

And talking of Bic, what in gods name happened to the outer (front and MS Word numbered style back) sleeve of the new album…it really is awful….