Happy Birthday to…the blog!

Yup, it is six years since I made my first awkward forays into the world of blogging.

Since then, there have been gig nights, the label and records downloads and CDs, DJing, interviews and lots of fun and stress as a result.

In the last year I’ve even been able to interview (amongst others) Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, Bwani Junction, The Raincoats, Dweezil Zappa and Roy Harper. Sure there’s a list as long as your arm of people I’d love to interview, but I think if someone had told me six years ago when I started all this that I’d get to do this, I wouldn’t have dared believe them.

and in that time, I’ve married the wonderful Mrs. 17 Seconds (we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary yesterday) and welcomes our son Master 17 Seconds into the world too.

You may have noticed that there tends to be fewer mp3s than there used to be. Like many blogs, I have come increasingly under fire from sinitser organisations who do not reply to my emails (nevermind take notice of the disclaimers), and on many occasions had links removed that I actually have the music to under licence!

Anyway, thanks to those of you still reading -and it still gives me pleasure. Feedback is allways nice, btw, boys and girls 😉

RIP Jake


This is Jake, one of the two 17 Seconds Towers cats. Yesterday, he died suddenly, aged three and a half, hence a lack of postings here yesterday.

RIP boy, you were awesome, and sorry I ever grumbled about you trying to eat my iPod headphones. May you find many mice to catch, whereever you may be…

There are apparently people out there who don’t like cats -presumably the same people who think it’s okay to bully colleagues, think that global warming is a Marxist Myth, and think Celine Dion is a really great artist.

In honour of you, Jake, The Sugarcubes.

The Sugarcubes -‘Cat [Icelandic].’ mp3

Oh, and obviously, the Cure:

Normal service will be resumed here shortly.

Ten for the nineties…1992

Some years in music are pivotal and utterly steeped in meaning and resonance.

1992 was not one of them.

It was summed up by the sheer awfulness of Undercover’s ‘Baker Street’ cover, a hideous dance version of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run To You’ by a band called Rage and the fact that Madonna unleashed a stinker of an album called Erotica, and very possibly showed that you could be over-exposed when she released the infamous Sex book around the same time. It was topped off when Whitney Houston topped the charts with ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Christmas.

The Americans decided that they’d had enough of twelve years of Republicans and elected Bill Clinton to the White House. The Brits were convinced that the Conservatives could not possibly win, and then proceeded to hand them a mandate to rule Britain for the next five years. The big film of the year was Wayne’s World, which led to everyone making statements and then going …NOT! at the end of it. I buried myself deeper in NME, Melody Maker and tippexing my school folders with band names instead of doing as much school work as I should have been. Ah well…

This track was no.1 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty that year. It has to be one of the most requested tracks ever on 17 Seconds. It’s sublime – now watch the video and if you want the mp3 look elsewhere!

Bang Bang Machine -‘Geek Love.’

Some bands are derided for ever. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s time must surely come. Part of the Stourbridge scene (along with Pop Will Eat Itself and the Wonderstuff), this was probably their biggest hit. This was also part of their music compilation Lunatic Magnets which was linked by various clips as the band attempted to do their own version of Reservoir Dogs which was the cult film of the year.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin -‘Not Sleeping Around.’

…and boom! The word ‘Britpop’ had yet to enter the lexicon of the cultural landscape and the so-called ‘scene that celebrates itself’ wasn’t ever going to be a household name kind of thing, but Suede suddenly arrived, looking pretty damn perfet. The music press loved them. Morrissey covered one of their b-sides ‘My Insatiable One.’ Smash Hits claimed David Bowie had invited them to his wedding. Lead singer Brett Anderson claimed he was ‘a bisexual who had never had a homosexual experience’ and was soon being spoken of in the same sentence as both Bowie and Morrissey. In the face of grunge coming in from the US, Suede looked likely to lead the next British assault. In another galaxy their story would have ended far more happily.

Suede -‘The Drowners.’

They say history is written by the victors. ‘They’ may have a point. In the 20/20 perspective that is hindsight, this was Blur’s best single to date. It has been perhaps a little forgotten that at this point Blur were in the doldrums -far more than they would be after The Great Escape three years later seemed to show that they had been overtaken by Oasis. This single limped to no.32, their second album was about to be rejectedby their record company, but Blur knew something we didn’t…

Blur – ‘Popscene.’

…a weird sense of deja vu: at the tail end of 2007, the Black Kids were being hailed by many (including yours truly, less we forget) as being the next big thing. When their debut album was released, the press seemed to turn on them. So it was with Curve, whose first three EPs were far more feted than their eventual debut LP Doppelganger was when it arrived in 1992. A shame, because they were still firing on all cylinders as far as I was concerned…

Curve -‘Fait Accompli.’

I have kicked myself for missing out on a lot of nineties dance culture -too busy listening to Morrissey at the time, as well as going through a ‘I hate everything’ phase, for which I have no-one to blame but myself. However, this DID filter through to me. I only recently realised that Future Sound Of London had been connected with Humanoid, whose classic acid house track ‘Stakker Humanoid’ had made it onto Top Of The Pops four years previously…

Future Sound Of London -‘Papua New Guinea.’

I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Franti, and as frontman of Spearhead, he was the first Hip-Hop act I ever saw live. It could have been this or ‘Television, The Drug Of The Nation’ but thistale of how a homophobe gets his comeuppance is pretty groundbreaking. And as at this time rap was becoming ever more confrontational (which was fine) but also displaying aspects of prejudice (which is not fine), it was good to see an act showng it wasn’t all about the benjamins.

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -‘The Language of Violence.’

As has been well-documented, in 1992, The Wedding Present issued a new 7″ every month, the a-side being an original song and the b-side being a cover. This saw them make Top Of The Pops several times, have seven entries in that year’s Festive Fifty, rack up twelve top thirty hits…and then get dropped by their record company.

Wedding Present -‘Sticky.’

I wasn’t much into R&B in the nineties, much of it came under the heading of New Jack Swing, a genre that left me cold, mostly. But this track wasn’t like that, and like En Vogue, gave a glimpse of just how big the genre would be in the decade to come…

Shanice -‘I Love Your Smile.’

This wasn’t supposed to happen…or maybe it was. This is actually the track that first brought Bjork into the Top Forty in the UK, being a sizeable hit, even with the mad shoutyness going on, as ever. But by the end of the year the band hd called it a day, with Bjork going off to make a solo album…and actually put the avant garde on Top Of The Pops.

The Sugarcubes -‘Hit.’

Should also be featured here: Ride -‘Leave Them All Behind.’ Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Reverence.’ Primal Scream -‘Movin’ On Up.’ The Cure -‘Friday I’m In Love.’ The Orb -‘Blue Room.’ Faith No More -‘Midlife Crisis. En Vogue -‘My Lovin.’ Boo Radleys -‘Lazarus.’ (Actually, there were good tracks it just felt horrible…)

Sugarcubes re-post

I received feedback from an American reader today asking me if I could re-post the Sugarcubes tracks I had posted a few weeks ago, so here they are, bjork and her merry men (and woman):

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday.’ mp3 [the original version, 1987’s Festive Fifty no.1)

The remixes from 1988, with the aid of Jim and William Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain:

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Christmas Eve).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Christmas Day).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (christmas present).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Petrol (live).’ mp3

And a few extras:

First up, the original Icelandic version of ‘Birthday.’

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Icelandic).’ mp3

A track, originally the b-side to the UK single of Birthday:

Sugarcubes -‘Cat.’ mp3

And finally, as Jeremy had politely asked for it, the 1982 Festive Fifty no.5:

Tears For Fears -‘Mad World.’ mp3 (Mrs. 17 Seconds says she prefers this to the Gary Jules version, and I think she’s right).

As for other people who’ve emailed asking for reposts, please hold on, I’ll try and get there ASAP.

In other news, I interviewed Foxface today, so will try and post that here soon.

A Peel-related rummage

As you will have noted, I have been doing a lot of Peel-related posts of late. I have also noted other bloggers doing posts on singles that they have found during a rummage in cupboards or wherever, including Song, By Toad and The Vinyl Villain.

…so why not combine the two?

The Sugarcubes are legendary as the biggest band to have come out of Iceland, at least until Sigur Ros, and the fact that their lead singer, Bjork has had a substantial amount of solo success since the band split in 1992. Their debut single ‘Birthday’ was no.1 in the 1987 Festive Fifty, as well as a minor chart hit, (and no.23 in the Millennium Festive Fifty!) It paved the way for their 1988 debutalbumLife’s Too Good. But (as well as a later remix in 1992 at the time of the band’s split), there was another version of the song, re-recorded in 1988, which featured Jim and William Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

I first saw the Sugarcubes on The Chart Show, a fairly revolutionary TV programme given that it was all videos and absolutely no presenters. The Sugarcubes were featured on the once every three weeks indie chart on many occasions, and it was here that I saw the video for Birthday. Weird and wonderful. Interestingly, this version of the single was ‘Single Of The Fortnight’ in Smash Hits, too. It took me thirteen years to find the CD single, when I did it cost me £8 ($16 US) and as far as I’m concerned, it was worth every penny.

So for your listening pleasure, first up, the Peel-favoured original version of Birthday:

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday.’ mp3

and the entirety of the 1988 re-recording:

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Christmas Eve mix).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Christmas Day mix).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Birthday (Christmas present mix).’ mp3

Sugarcubes -‘Petrol (live).’ mp3

And finally, as treat, the original version of Birthday in Icelandic.

Sugaracubes -‘Ammæli (Birthday -Icelandic).’ mp3

Oh, and if anyone has got an mp3 of The Sugarcubes doing a song called ‘Cat’ could they let me know? Ta.