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Just Jot It January: Day twenty nine. Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 6…

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It’s been a long day today and since I’m now relaxing with a drink and a few tunes, I thought I’d make this Just Jot It January post the next in my series of cassette-library-plundering Melodic Randomiser Unspooled features.

So here is the first handful of plastic boxes I pulled out of the understair archive…

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…starting with metal icon and ex-Scorpions, ex-UFO axe-man, Michael Schenker.

This track is from the Michael Schenker Group album, Armed and Ready.

With my usual obtuse eclecticism, the next tape out of the box was Dazzle Ships by electro-pop pioneers Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, so here’s Telegraph

…and just in case you detected any sort of theme, pattern or method in my musical madness, here’s the entire, sprawling, bombastic, camp and overblown experience that is Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their gloriously over the top debut album, Welcome to the Pleasure Dome.

You’re welcome.

#JusJoJan

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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Just Jot It January, Music, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 2…

Time to trawl the tapes once more and play you some retro tunes from my misspent musical youth.

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Today’s selection from the nostalgic boom box is made up of a magazine freebie, another tailor-made mixtape (with bonus anecdote) and a chil-out classic, so let’s get on with the music.

Q Magazine has been my favourite monthly music publication, ever since I bought issue 11 (featuring cover stars Morrissey and Roger Waters) many, many years ago. 
One of the cool things about it was that there would often be free cassettes on the cover (and later, CDs) many of which were loosely themed.
The thread that runs through Livin’ in the ’80s is a pretty straightforward one, compared to some of the more obscure and tenuous collections they managed to crowbar together and it contains some bona fide pop masterpieces.

First up are a pair of electro-pop classics, starting with the Human League and this single from the groundbreaking “Dare” album: Love Action (I believe in love)

…followed by the 80’s most whistleable tune about nuclear devastation, OMD and their peon to the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Enola Gay

Side two mixes it up a bit, starting with this raucous stomp from Killing Joke, the anthem of the decade, Eighties

…and continuing in a gentler vein with Culture Club and a tune I’ll dedicate to my wife, Rhonda, who apparently strutted her stuff to this at every ’80s disco; here’s Time (Clock of the heart)

The second of today’s tapes is a compilation that was made for me by a friend in Sussex in the early ’90s, from just a tiny fraction of his enormous record collection.

He went by the nickname “Tufty” at the time and he was, like me, a massive fan of the late, great John Peel, a fact which resulted in him suffering a highly amusing and rather public embarrassment in our local pub, The Wheatsheaf in Crowborough, (where he worked as a barman) which I’m guessing he would rather forget.

However, I haven’t forgotten and I’d like to share it with you now.

John Peel had a brother.
This isn’t an especially interesting piece of information, except when coupled with the fact that this brother lived opposite the aforementioned pub and was one of the regulars.

One day, Francis, for that was his name, came into the bottom bar of the pub with a visitor in tow (it’s an old, split level building, with the public bar at the top and a sunken lounge on the opposite side of the central serving area) and this visitor looked uncannily like our musical saviour himself, complete with trademark beard.
Plus, he was with Francis, who else could it be?

Sitting in the top of the pub, looking down into the lounge, those of us who cared about such things instantly began discussing whether this was in fact the champion of all things musically cool and if so, would etiquette, coolness and/or star-struck hero-worship permit anyone to approach the great man for a few pearls of his no doubt affable wisdom?

No such procrastination for Tufty however, who immediately went into paroxsysms of delight that such a member of radio royalty would grace the bar with his saintly presence.
He immediately informed us that he was going to introduce himself to John, offer to buy him a drink and attempt to engage the great man in conversation.

The rest of us watched with a mixture of interest, envy and amusement as Tufty, never knowingly short of words, shyly sidled up to Francis and his companion and waited for his chance.

At the earliest opportunity that decency would allow, he politely interrupted, pint in hand, and spoke thusly to the illustrious visitor:

“John, I’d just like to say that I’m a huge fan and it would be an honour if you would allow me to buy you a drink.”

…at which point, the object of his adoration turned to him with a puzzled smile and said;

“Well that’s very kind of you, I’m afraid I’m Francis’ other brother. but thank you for the drink.”

Needless to say, it took a while for my impulsive friend to live that down, but he does compile a very fine mixtape, so let’s get back to the music.

I’m going to pick four from Tufty’s compilation too, simply because it’s got a fantastic range of songs on it and I couldn’t narrow it down any further.

An unexplainably underrated British band from the ’90s, Kitchens of Distinction never got the recognition or hits that they deserved, so to redress the balance in some small way, here is their third single, The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule

…along with a song you may know, but a version you may not have heard, this is Trisha‘s cover of Tracy Chapman‘s track, She’s Got Her Ticket.

But I’ll end tape with a pair of cheerful chunks of ’90s guitar pop the first of which is Lancashire’s Milltown Brothers, with 1991’s Which Way Should I Jump?

…and the second is the sublimely jangly Heavenly Pop Hit from New Zealand’s Martin Phillipps and his revolving musical project, The Chills.

Which brings us to the final entry in this chapter of my magnetically memorized musical marathon, tape 3 is a bit of a departure from the rest but just as great in its own way for all that.

So here, in its chilled-out, cosmic entirety, is The Orb and the epic Orbvs Terrarvm

Stay tuned for more archive dredging in the not too distant future, may your spools stay loose and your tape never crumple.

Until next time…

 

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Now that’s what I call an ’80s flashback – Volume one…

“If you remember the sixties, then you weren’t there” was a common saying when I was growing up and nonsensical as it may be grammatically speaking, it effectively conveys the mystique of a decade to those of us who actually weren’t there, but who were nevertheless born there, so to speak.

But nobody says things like that about the years I spent my childhood in, the ’70s.
We had prog rock, punk, disco and glam, but we also had strikes, the National Front, the IRA, the three day week and Thatcher, which can mean that despite much evidence to the contrary, the musically schizophrenic decade that gave us the Sex Pistols, Rush, Chic, Kraftwerk and David Bowie is sometimes seen as a bit drab, miserable and depressing, like a combined hangover/detox after ten years of psychedelia, free love and liberal drug laws, a kind of temporal anteroom in which we all waited for the gleaming technological paradise of the eighties to arrive in a flying car with a robot chauffeur.

So when the ’80s finally arrived, complete with strikes, the National Front, the IRA, riots, Thatcher and the Falklands war, it was music that we turned to once again for inspiration and escape.
And now we were living in the future we wanted something new and futuristic to act as an antidote to the emerging culture of unstoppable greed and consumerism, a sound that echoed the homemade ethos of punk but brought some order and technical precision into the equation.
A sound made possible by the increased availability of affordable electronic instruments, something that would lead to the first real musical revolution since the invention of the lead guitar.

Now you might think that to be an outrageous exaggeration, especially if you’re an old-school folkie who booed when Dylan went electric or someone who, when you hear the term “keyboard solo”, immediately thinks of Richard Clayderman, but electronics have been stealthily allowing innovative musicians to create new and interesting sounds as far back as the mid-sixties, when Dr Robert Moog produced the first practical analogue synthesizer.

      *****Here is an example for your listening pleasure.*****
(free music download, “Moogalicious by Dogsounds, click to save)

I was 14 as the eighties arrived, already obsessed with music and at that point, a metal and prog rock enthusiast, but also greedily absorbing the eclectic mix of genres and styles played by one of my musical heroes, the late, very great John Peel.
I still recall the covert thrill of listening to the late night radio show of this gruff yet affable, funny and comically disorganised bloke, playing anything from dub reggae and thrash metal to ambient electronica and hardcore German techno.

Hidden beneath the duvet, the earpiece of my radio-cassette player firmly in place, was the first place I heard this next song.
I remember thinking what a precise, clean sound it had (while my inner headbanger shouted at me for being a poncey new romantic) and I reckon I could say with some confidence that this was probably about the time I had to concede that I rather liked synth-pop…

…and I can also remember going into the tiny record shop in Crowborough – Revolver Records, now long defunct – to buy the debut OMD album, the first LP I’d bought that didn’t have at least three guitars on it, and discovering the other side of the strange world of synth-pop that wasn’t all radio friendly singles and twinkly keyboard flourishes.
To my pleasant surprise, I found that this shiny new type of music could be just as dark, deep and peculiar as any progressive rock epic concept album.
Pop music had just got credible.

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A selection of my ’80s vinyl, this afternoon.

I can certainly say that my old friend (then a new friend) Ho was a big part in getting me into the wider world of electronic music.
Ho, already a Gary Numan, Tangerine Dream and Can fan, played me albums I never would have heard among my long-haired, denim-clad mates. (with the possible exception of Tangerine Dream, the electronic band it was ok for prog fans to like)
He also introduced me to one of my all-time favourite bands, Kraftwerk.
Not only did I go out and buy the German electro-boffins’ sporadically-released ’80s output, (Computer World, Electric Café) after hearing their back catalogue, from the long haired, proggy, avant-garde jazz experimentation of the early seventies, through to the sublime period of the Radioactivity and Man Machine albums which brought them to the attention of a wider audience, I went out and bought almost everything they recorded.

Another artist that went on to inform my taste for the glacial sounding electronic music that came to be synonymous with the eighties and beyond was John Foxx, particularly his album Metamatic, which I and some friends who were similarly attracted to this new genre (especially when combined with various recreational stimulants) came to describe as “clinical music”.

There is admittedly a certain amount of rose tinted musical hindsight involved in these reminiscences, as for every Speak and Spell classic there was a Stock, Aitken and Waterman clone waiting in the wings, so the eighties detractors have plenty of ammunition to refute the musical importance of The Decade That Fashion Forgot.

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What with the endless power ballads, glossy U.S.stadium rock and cheesy manufactured chart pop fodder infesting the radio airwaves, the edgy, harsh tones of the new technology came as a breath of fresh air, albeit air fresh from dingy bedsits and basement studios where the new New Wave was starting to break.

As the new music began to gain credibility and appear alongside established artists on shows like Top of the Pops, the electronic bands started to develop a more polished sound and glamorous image, something that would help them take advantage of the increasing popularity of music videos.
Not always a good thing in my not-very-humble opinion, because a lot of what made these bands so different to start with was lost as they strove to be accepted into the mainstream.

Compare the two examples below, one from The Human League and the other from Gary Numan.
The earlier material of both is harder, more abrasive, while only a short time later the image makeover has smoothed off the bright corners and dulled the sharp edges.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of both artists, both early and late material, as I am of all the music here, and they are both still going strong too.
The Human League released a brand new album, Credo, in 2011 and the former Gary Webb hasn’t stopped producing music since he began with Tubeway Army in the late seventies.

Interestingly, Phil Oakey and the Human League have stuck more or less to their high-gloss, late career peak musical style, while Numan has continued to evolve, including drum ‘n’ bass, industrial and techno into the mix over the years, without ever losing that certain something that makes it still very much Numanoid.

The Human League

…and today; It wasn’t broke so they didn’t fix it.

Gary Numan

…and today; The old darkness and edge are still very much in evidence, possibly a result of his recent association with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails

I added “volume one” to the title of this post automatically because I knew that once I started on this subject it was likely to turn into a labour of love.
So I shan’t try and cram anything else in now, but you can be sure that as soon as I hit the “publish” button I will be resuming my search for echoes of that Golden Hour of the Future we lived in for a few short, groundbreaking years.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sunshine Award. (7 degrees of separation)…

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I’m delighted to say that I’ve just received another blogger award.
This time it’s the Sunshine Award, presented to me by Lanthie at Life Cherries and as usual it comes with some pass-on-the-award-to-other-people-and-give-some-facts-about-yourself type rules.
But if you’re a regular reader then you’ll know that I try and do something a little more interesting with my nominations, so with that in mind jet me introduce you to my new award.

All seven people nominated are of course automatically recipients of the Sunshine Award, but in addition they will receive my brand new accolade. (along with bespoke Ho artwork)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tenuous Lynx Award.

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Here’s the idea. We all know we can connect ourselves with each other via six degrees of separation but I thought I’d go one better and connect the seven blogs I’m nominating for my newly minted award by seven degrees, all via stuff I like, thereby giving you that all-important insight.

Just because, alright?

(It would please me greatly if you attempt something similar when you pass it on to whomever you choose, but feel free to just bestow the Sunshine upon them if you so wish)

Let us begin…

☆★☆★☆★☆
Life Cherries gave me the award.
Cherries have stones.
The Rolling Stones recorded a song called Mother’s Little Helper, about housewives getting pills from their doctor.

The Doctor is soon to be played by John Hurt in the 50th anniversary episode of Dr Who and he was also in classic sci-fi horror masterpiece, Alien
4º …the second sequel of which stars a host of British actors, including Charles Dance.
5º Charles now stars in the TV adaptation of George R.R.Martin‘s brilliant Game of Thrones.
6º Game of Thrones has a plotline involving dragons..
…bringing me to my first nominee, windhound’s colorful and experimental Dragon Shades blog, featuring beautiful abstract digital art and photography.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Dragon Shades brings colour to life.
Living Colour were a heavy rock band from the late ’80s who I once saw at Reading Festival.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a poem by Oscar Wilde.
Wilde was played by Stephen Fry in the film of his life.

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Stephen Fry – Wilde man.

Fry used to be in a double act with Hugh Laurie.
Laurie has found fame in America both through his music and as the unconventional doctor in the title role of House.
House Music is often accompanied by elaborate computer graphics and digital video effects.
Which are just the sort of things that are on display on the blog of my second nominee, Waking Spirals.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Waking Spirals combines cutting edge art with literary quotes and philosophical musings…
…as does Waking Life, the extraordinary film by Richard Linklater who also made A Scanner Darkly.
Scanners is a film by David Cronenberg who also made disturbing dystopian hi-tech nightmare Videodrome, starring Debbie Harry
..who was in Blondie.

Blondie began their career at CBGB, along with other punk legends The Ramones and Talking Heads.
Talking Heads made my favourite concert film of all time, Stop Making Sense..
…during which David Byrne wears a giant white suit…
..and what do you have in the back of a suit?
A Vent, that’s what. Which is what Ron calls his blog, and he’s nominee number 3.
Check out his take on life in the big city, it’s faaabuuloso.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A vent is something you would use to release air.
Air are a French electronica band whose first single was the sublime Sexy Boy

…from the album Moon Safari and when the Apollo 11 mission went to the moon they planted a flag.
Flagg is a character in many Stephen King novels including The Stand, many of which contain monsters..
…and Stand is a song by R.E.M.
..who recorded an album called Monster.
6º  They also had a massive hit with Everybody hurts.
And what do you have if everybody hurts?
A World Of Pain, that’s what. Adam’s blog is funny, clever, thought provoking and occasionally mischievous. Go and take a look, you won’t regret it.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A World Of Pain’s Golden Face Palms are raising a lot of dough for cancer charities.
Dough is what bread is made of and Pain is the French for bread.
Pizza is also a dough and Pizzaman is one of the many aliases of Fat Boy Slim.

Fat Boy Slim’s real name is Quentin and Christopher Walken appeared in one of his videos.
Walken also appears in another Quentin‘s film, Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino’s films frequently contain prolonged shoot-outs, much like those favoured by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Spaced.
Someone else who was severely spaced was Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he and his friend stick out their thumbs and travel round the universe..
…as opposed to Quillan and Angela at Toemail, the fourth of my award recipients, who travel round the world and send back stories with photos attached, all of which contain a toe or two. Go dip a toe in their blog.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Toemail posts all feature feet.
A giant foot ends the Monty Python title sequence
…which is animated by Terry Gilliam who also made the dark and Orwellian Brazil
The original Orwellian nightmare, Nineteen Eighty Four revolves around the character Winston Smith.
The Smiths recorded a live album called Rank.

The Rank Organisation movies of the ’50s and ’60s opened with a man striking a giant gong.
The psychedelic band Gong recorded an album about a “Radio Gnome Invisible” who travelled in a Flying Teapot
…which would be an ideal accompaniment to my penultimate nominee, The Flying Fruitbowl, where you will find Aaron curating all manner of fabulous digital and fantasy art by new and exciting young artists.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A fruit bowl is an item favoured by artists painting still life pictures.
Still Life is an album by prog rock pioneers Van de Graff Generator.
The scientific apparatus, the Van de Graff Generator is used for making electricity.
Electricity was the debut single from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

…who also recorded Maid of Orleans, a song about Joan of Arc.
In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Joan of Arc is played by Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Gos who had a hit with Rush Hour.

Canadian rock band Rush released an album called Moving Pictures..
..like the ones you’ll find on Sandro’s blog Life in Pictures, an eclectic selection of beautiful photography with something to interest and enchant everyone.

Which is my seventh and final Tenuous Link to an award nominee in this daisy chain of tangential twaddle. I hope you found something to entertain you amidst the forest of links and clips and if you are a lucky recipient, why not have a go yourself and pass along the Tenuous Lynx.

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{Ooh, and please link back to Diary of an Internet Nobody in your post. Thanks)

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Arts, Awards, Blogging, Charity, Films, Ho., Humour, Music, Music festivals, TV

 

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Picture this. Architecture and mortality…

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My walk with Roo, our canine visitor for the next two weeks, took me down to the park again today, but I thought I’d vary my usual route and head for the Trinity Church graveyard to take some photos.
On the way round the park I got a couple of shots of an old favourite, a disused railway bridge, and my brain had one of those synaptic lightbulb moments.

Only this morning at work we’d been listening to an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark compilation, including tracks from their masterful 1981 album, Architecture and Morality.
(You can hear the whole album via the link at the end of this post)
And here’s me, taking pictures of a bridge and about to take pictures of a graveyard.

I feel a blog post title coming on.

Architecture and mortality…

The old iron bridge has an industrial grandeur undimmed by time and colourful graffiti tags…

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…and is in marked contrast to the quaintness of the miniature lodge house on Ladies Mile, at the entrance to the park.

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From which its just a few yards up the road, along a shady, yew-lined path, into the sunny churchyard.

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The views up towards the church and its recently restored tower are framed by an avenue of pollarded chestnut trees, now just beginning to show the rusty gold tint of autumnal colour.

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Despite my lack of interest in religion, I can appreciate beautiful buildings of any sort and anyway  I’ve always liked a good graveyard. They are full of striking images and brooding atmosphere.

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Some monuments to the dead lovingly tended..

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…some forgotten and besieged by the encroaching tide of nature.

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And presiding over them all, the imposing presence of the church tower.

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Definitely worth the detour.

Hope you enjoyed my alternative Sunday service, albeit a bit late.  Now sit back and relive those heady days of the early ’80s, when the new wave of electronic music was breaking into the mainstream, and you could have a hit on Top of the Pops with a song about Joan of Arc.

Ladies and gentlemen, OMD…

 
 

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