Born in the Seventies…


Driving into work this morning, there was a discussion on the local radio about which decade would you most have liked to have lived through.

The fifties were winning -but more to do with people’s perception of fifties America which has been shaped by Grease and Back To The Future, apparently; and absolutely sod all to do with living in a Britain where rationing was still in place, and austerity was the name of the game (don’t laugh folks, cos all cliches turn full circle).

I on the other hand, rang in -and got to hear my dulcet tones on air (apparently I sound much more scottish on air than in real life, according to my friend Keith who heard me) -and said the seventies.

Now, I’m well aware that the seventies had their downsides – and I don’t mean fashion either – but for music it would have been awesome.

Well, not Tony Orlando and Dawn or Peters and Lee or Demis Roussos (like duh) but this would have been awesome to see.

Sex Pistols -‘Anarchy In The UK.’ mp3

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3

Dead Kennedys -‘California Uber Alles.’ mp3

Bob Marley -‘Waiting In Vain.’ mp3

Chic -‘Good Times.’ mp3

Slits -‘Typical Girls.’ mp3

Cure -’10:15 Saturday Night.’ mp3

Clash -‘Complete Control.’ mp3

Cramps -‘Human Fly.’ mp3

Television -‘Marquee Moon.’ mp3

Mind you, there’s younger folk who are envious of me seeing Radiohead and Pulp at Glastonbury in the nineties, and Jeff Buckley…

8X8-some reggae for Wednesday

Reggae is one of those genres that I can’t help wishing I knew far more about than I actually do. I’ve enough sense to realise that Bob Marley is far from the whole story, and that even within reggae there are sub-genres: Dancehall, Roots, Lovers Rock and Dub, to pick a few. Then of course, there’s the influence it’s had on rock for many years, be it Paul McCartney writing ‘Ob-bla-di’ (from the White Album), The Clash covering Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’ or ‘Willie Williams’ ‘Armagideon Time.’ 2-Tone. Massive Attack. The music of both The Slits and the Au Pairs, and certainly the early work of Public Image Ltd. too without reggae’s influence would be like an omlette without an egg. The Strokes’ second album Room On Fire had a reggae influence, though not to the extent that the Police plundered the genre. Frequently. (Elvis Costello once remarked that ‘someone should tell Sting to stop singing in that ridiculous Jamaican accent’).

Anyway, there have been other bloggers, such as Davy H and Steve who have been trying to get more reggae in the blogosphere. It’s not a genre I feel qualified to write about in deep analysis, but there’s some great stuff I hope people will like.

First up, that knowing dig at those folks who don’t really understand it at all:

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3 (possible the greatest one hit wonder EVER).

To these ears, grime and dubstep are descended from reggae, if not being part of it. This track was covered by Lethal Bizzle a few months back. This multiracial band were lead by Eddy Grant who had a lot of solo success subsequently:

The Equals -‘Police On My Back.’ mp3

The original of one of those aforementioned Clash covers:

Junior Murvin -‘Police And Thieves.’ mp3

Last year, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood released an album he had compiled of reggae entitled Johnny Greenwood Is the Controller. Here are two tracks from it:

Derrick Harriott -‘Let Me Down Easy.’ mp3

Scotty -‘Clean Race.’ mp3

This track was featured last month over at Teenage Kicks. It’s just too good not to spread the word:

Susan Cadogan -‘Hurts So Good.’ mp3

It was wearingly inevitable that this would end up being used to advertise medicine, but it’s still a cracking song:

Gregory Isaacs -‘Night Nurse.’ mp3

Finally, whether this is ‘reggae’ or not can no doubt be debated by those far more knowledgeable about the genre, but it’s a beautiful, gorgeous song:

Jimmy Cliff -‘Many Rivers To Cross.’ mp3

For great compilations, try anything that Trojan have put out, and Don Letts’ compilation of the tracks he played to the punks at London’s Roxy in 1977 Dreads Meets Punk Rockers Uptown is fabulous. I recently got Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Arkology which is a place for excellent dub.

Like I say, I am not an authority, so I humble offer these as eight great tracks.


PS Just found a site offering some excellent choice cuts here

A Festive Fifty Theme

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been in contact with details about new acts; I’m going to try and go through it carefully and give my considered opinion about what to post; so if you don’t see yourselves posted immediately, don’t take it personally!

I was considering posting some other stuff today, reflecting on what might make my Festive Fifty at the end of the year, and found my mind drifting to the great man of the Festive Fifty, John Peel.

So, with a big nod to Steve (and not Mike, as I mistakenly called him earlier!) over at the brilliant Teenage Kicks, a brilliant Peel-related blog, here are ten tracks that made John Peel’s Festive Fifty over the years.

Given that he often got frustrated at some things being unadventurous, and there being ‘too many white boys with guitars’ I have tried not to fall into the same trap.

Bang Bang Machine -‘Geek Love.’ mp3 (No.1 1992 Festive Fifty)

We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and we’re Gonna Use It -‘Rules And Regulations.’ mp3 (No. 31 1986 Festive Fifty)

Future Sound Of London -‘Papau New Guinea.’ mp3 (No.11 1992 Festive Fifty)

Half Man Half Biscuit -‘The Trumpton Riots.’ mp3 (No. 14 1986 Festive Fifty)

Althea & Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3 (No. 2 1977 Festive Fifty)

Teenage Fanclub -‘The Concept.’ mp3 (No.6 1991 Festive Fifty*)

The Bhundu Boys -‘Foolish Harp/Waerara.’ mp3 (No.30 1987 Festive Fifty) (Steve from Teenage Kicks has got in touch and pointed out that it wasn’t this version that made the chart. However, it is fabulous!)

Kenickie -‘Come Out 2nite.’ mp3 (No. 1 1996 Festive Fifty)

This Mortal Coil -‘Song To the siren.’ mp3 (No. 4 1983 Festive Fifty, No.10 2000 Millennium Chart)

The Delgados -‘Mr. Blue Sky.’ mp3 (No. 29 2002 Festive Fifty)

For more on John Peel and fansites start here

* 1991’s Festive Fifty was known as the Phantom Fifty as John felt it was too predictable, topped as it was by Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and not featuring the dance sounds he’d been plugging that year. It was eventually unveiled, track by track over 1993).

The greatest one hit wonder ever?

I know many of my friends would go for ‘You Get What You Give’ by the New Radicals, and it’s up there, but Gregg Alexander loses marks for writing for Ronan Keating afterwards.

Nah, the greatest one hit wonder was this, no.2 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1977, no.1 in the UK singles chart in early 1978 and still sounding great:

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3

This can probably be found on quite a few reggae compilations and the album is definitely on iTunes. everyone should own at least this song.

There’s a wee entry on the fun girls here at Wikipedia