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  • Castaway Tunes

    So the BBC is asking members of the public to nominate their own 8 choices for Desert Island Discs, no doubt so they can see how the tastes of we plebs differ from those of the celebrity guests. It seems like the perfect excuse to list my choices here as well. In no particular order beyond as I think of them, here are mine-

    1. Echobelly – I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me

    1994 belonged to Oasis but, though I do have a soft spot for the mono-browed brothers, it should have been Echobelly’s year. Better songs, more interesting sound and vastly more attractive and interesting singer. I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me is a perfect piece of ego and joy, it can’t fail to make me happy.

    2. Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5

    I could have chosen the raw blast of Joe, my introduction to the band, or Sackville, which has the added interest of being about the street I used to study on. But there’s a power to this one. And apart from Sleeping Satellite, how many other pop songs have been about the lapsed glories of the space race?

    Bonus Sackville and Joe videos-

    3. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Say It With Flowers

    I used to have After The Watershed as my Carter song because I pulled to it once and there’s something so wrong about the juxtaposition of the song’s subject and memories of getting laid. And Only Living Boy In New Cross was one of the songs which kept me going in 2001. But Say It With Flowers gave me the title to Sounds of Soldiers, and every radio show needs a plug.

    Bonus videos-

    4. James – Sit Down

    James made many damn fine records. But, really, there was only ever going to be one choice from them wasn’t there? It’s an anthem and it’s beautiful.

    5. Camper Van Beethoven – Life Is Grand

    Because it is. If I ever make a film I want this song over the closing credits.

    6. 10cc – I’m Not In Love

    It gives you shivers. Glorious.

    7. The Wonder Stuff – Ruby Horse

    Another song that gave me a book title (Ruby Red, I’m not mercenary, it really is an excellent song.

    8. Frank Sinatra – New York, New York

    Many many great nights have wound down to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ anthem. It seems appropriate for it to be the last song on the list.


  • I’m falling in love with Echobelly again

    Echobelly should have been the big band of 1994. Instead we got Oasis. Whilst I have a soft spot for the Burnage monkey boys’ output, Sonya Aurora Madan’s band was more interesting.

    As I work my way through the large number of mp3s on my hard drive I’ve been reminded that I don’t have all of Echobelly’s stuff. So I’m off to rectify that. And you should be too.

    The EchobelytvSME channel on YouTube has I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me, The World Is Flat and Here Comes The Big Rush at high quality, but has turned embedding off, which is annoying.


  • Another show another scene

    What I tell is a different story,
    What i have, I take, then give it all away,
    So if you’d like to come this way,
    Then help me climb the walls that stand before me.
    I wanna know,
    If this is just a game,
    Can anybody play,
    Can everybody win,
    Can you believe it,
    I may be lost, i may be blind,
    I may be cursing most of the time
    But it’s half the fun,
    And in this world we spin and shout
    We want it all we want it now,

    They said "oh shut your mouth
    You don’t know what you talk about".
    I wanna know,
    If this is just a game,
    Can anybody play,
    Can everybody win.
    Another show another scene,
    The city sleeps below you sing a lullaby,
    Another show another scene and,
    I can’t imagine the world without me,
    I can’t imagine the world without me,
    I can’t imagine the world without me, Hey,
    I’m on a roll, i’m on a roll, la la la la.
    I’m on a roll la la la la,
    I’m on a roll la la la la,
    I’m on a roll la la la la,
    Me me me me me me me me me,
    Me me me me me me me me.

    I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me – Echobelly


  • Songs to get buried to

    Following on from Monday’s post about the top ten funeral songs, I thought it would be worth drawing up a list of alternative funeral songs. Leave your own suggestions in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

    I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me – Echobelly
    The already mentioned brisk two fingers to death and a call to enjoy life.

    Life is Grand – Camper Van Beethoven
    After an album of songs about death and drugs the Beethovens turn around and say, “The hell with you miserable bastards, we quite enjoy life.”

    The Only Living Boy in New Cross – Carter USM
    You can never be sure with Carter, they hide some dark subjects under their pop-punk. This song seems to be about the pressures of touring and I adopted it as the theme tune to a hellish period on the road in 2001. In keeping with the memorial theme it does have a dedication-

    Goodbye Rudy, David and Rosie
    Abraham and Julianne
    and everyone that knows me

    The gypsies, the travellers and the thieves
    The good, the bad, the average and unique
    The grebos the crusties and you and I

    Wonderstuff – Give, Give, Give, Me More, More, More

    Well I hope I make more money than this in the next world.
    I hope there’s a lot more in it there for me.
    I’d like my trousers pressed and my shoes
    shined up by a rich girl,
    who’s only care in the world is me.

    What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong or Joey Ramone
    Because it is a wonderful world, and perhaps people need reminding.

    Previous musical lists-
    Songs
    Music to get laid to

    Additions

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python
    So obvious I’m surprised more people don’t choose it. Best if you can be sure a choir of friends and family will get up to perform it.

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  • I can't imagine the world without me

    At the last funeral I attended the coffin was taken out of the church to Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe. I haven’t heard it since, but I’d probably still get a lump in the throat.

    The top ten funeral songs has been released.

    1 Goodbye my Lover, James Blunt
    2 Angels, Robbie Willams
    3 I’ve had the Time of my Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley
    4 Wind Beneath my Wings, Bette Midler
    5 Pie Jesu, Requiem
    6 Candle in the Wind, Elton John
    7 With or Without You, U2
    8 Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
    9 Every breath you Take, The Police
    10 Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

    My personal choice would probably be I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me by Echobelly a stonking “fuck you” to mortality and a call to make the most of your life. Frankly, the funeral isn’t for the deceased, it’s for the ones they’ve left behind, and I’d want to remind them to stop moping and get out there and enjoy the fact that they’re still alive.

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  • Two series that may see me buying monthly comics again

    Joss Whedon is writing a six issue “Season 8” Buffy story for Dark Horse.

    Phonogram is “Hellblazer meets Blue Monday” and appears to reference one of my all time favourite songs on the cover of issue 2.

    (I Can’t Imagine the World Without Me: the Best of Echobelly)

    Both via that Ellis bloke.

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  • Psychodiscography- Part Two

    Another day, another wander around the city centre. No rain this time, but still I didn’t get pictures of all the locations on the tourist music map. Nevertheless, on with the run down.

    The Town Hall- Albert Square.
    This grade one listed building is home to Manchester City Council, and where you will find the Tourist Information Centre. This is the location of the farewell party where the city said its tearful goodbyes to Take That. Voted the greatest boy band in history by Smash Hits readers in 2003, Gary Barlow continued with a successful song writing career writing for world artists such as Mariah Carey, Blue and Donny Osmond. The prodigal son, Robbie Williams started loving angels instead.

    And the other three- William of Orange, Curly and the pretty one- were never heard of again. They’re probably sleeping under the arches somewhere. 10CC, who I hadn’t realised were a Manchester band until I saw it on the side of a cow, played outside the Town Hall just prior to the start of the Commonwealth games.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Free Trade Hall, Peter Street
    Now converted to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, this was for almost 150 years the key musical destination for classical and popular music. In 1966 Bob Dylan was booed and called “Judas” by a Folk Music audience for returning for the second half of his set with rock and roll music. In July 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared twice in the smaller room here, invited by the Buzzcocks who supported them in the second concert. The audience was as remarkable as the Pistol’s performance. Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Tony Wilson, Morrissey and Linda Mulvey witnessed the raw power of Punk. Manchester’s musical history was about to be re-written.

    I’m not fond of that phrase. “History was about to be re-written”? What exactly does it mean? “History was about to be made”, maybe, but at the time of the concert the future had yet to happen. From that point musical history could be written, not re-written. It’s always best to get there first.

    Anyway. The Free Trade Hall was erected on the site of the Peterloo Massacre, which I’d always assumed had happened up the road in what is now St Peter’s Square. I really should have read the blue plaque.

    The Free Trade Hall closed as a venue in 1996. I never went to a concert there.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    G-Mex, Windmill Street
    The former Central Station, now the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, hosted many of the city’s biggest concerts from the mid-80s until the MEN Arena took over in the late 90s. It was here in 1986 that the “Festival of the Tenth Summer”- headlined by New Order and The Smiths– was held 10 years on from the Sex Pistols concerts at the Free Trade Hall. James also famously requested that the world “Sit Down” at this venue.

    Never been to a concert in G-Mex either.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Boardwalk, Little Peter Street
    Now awaiting redevelopment, this former church hall was once one of the key “Madchester” venues of the late 80s and early 90s. From its earlier association as a rehearsal space for Joy Division and the Halle Orchestra, these walls came to witness a role call of famous names including The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, James and The Inspiral Carpets. The Boardwalk also saw the first performance of Oasis in 1992 with brother Noel in the line up for the first time playing “Rock and Roll Star” to an audience of around 20.

    I saw Terrorvision play at the Boardwalk, and a lesser known band called Bandit Queen. That was a decade ago. I must get out more.

    The Hacienda, Whitworth Street West
    The globally famous name of this influential club has been retained by new apartments which now occupy the site. Opened by Factory Records and subsidised by the success of New Order, the Hacienda (1982-1997) brought “house” music to Europe and made it a worldwide phenomena. The club and the character of Anthony H Wilson played a starring role in “24 Hour Party People“, the 2002 Michael Winterbottom movie. Mike Pickering, Dave Haslam, Graeme Park and Jon Da Silva were the world famous Djs and inspirational floor fillers for a generation of clubbers.

    I only went to the Hacienda twice. And the second time was because I was on the guest list. Still, I consider what they’ve done to it sacrilege.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Ritz, Whitworth Street West
    The longest continuously running club in the city by a stretch. This not only provided a backdrop for the classic Mancunian movie “A Taste of Honey” from 1961 but was also the scene of The Smiths first concert in 1982. the Ritz was immortalised in verse by punk poet John Cooper Clarke in “Salomey Maloney”. Local bands Doves and A Certain Ratio still play here. A tribute concert to Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division and New Order and pivotal figure on the Manchester music scene was held on the 5th anniversary of his death in May 2004.

    The Ritz was always more my style than the Hac. And it has a bouncing dancefloor, one of the greatest sights is looking down from the balcony and seeing the rhythm ripple across the dancefloor as people jump up. Sti
    ll, the last time I was in there was years ago, I got a wee bit squiffy on White Lightning (street corner drunks’ favourite) cider, so I don’t remember what happened next.

    There’s a development of apartments next door, so at some point the wankers who move in will start complaining about the noise and try to get it shut down.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Cornerhouse, Oxford Road
    Manchester’s original art house with two cinemas showcasing international films and a well frequented bar and cafe. A popular haunt for city luminaries and philosophers (including Eric Cantona, when he is in town). Manchester musicians and cinema continue to receive rave reviews with Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) writing the music to accompany Hugh Grant in “About A Boy“. Former Magazine and Bad Seeds band member Barry Adamson is credited with the soundtracks to The Beach and Scream 3.

    Tangential links there, but hey. I once won a Jive Bunny album in the Cornerhouse’s quiz.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Music Box and Rockworld, Oxford Street
    Music Box provides some of the most progressive and interesting club nights in Manchester, hosting the twin legends that are Mr. Scruff’s “Keep It Unreal” and The Unabomber’s “Electric Chair” nights. It’s neighbour, Rockworld, is home to the legendary Friday all-nighters. This site formerly hosted the nightclubs Rafters and Fagins. The latter was the venue where Joy Division, playing as Warsaw in 1977, were picked up by Factory Records.

    Rockworld’s always fun, but it can be a bit disconcerting being the only person in light colours adrift in a sea of teen-Goths. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s getting close to one of my fantasies.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Legends, Whitworth Street
    This was the second home to the famous Twisted Wheel from 1963 to 1971. The term “Northern Soul” was first coined by soul guru Dave Godin writing about the “Northern” scene at clubs like the Blackpool Mecca and the famous Wigan Casino, in the magazine Blues and Soul. Ben E. King, Jnr Walker, Joe Tex and Bob Earl have all walked through these doors. Recently revived Wheel nights pack the dance floor with Northern Souls who can still last the night.

    Oh crap. My research has really let me down here. I haven’t found Legends, or the building it’s in/ used to be in on my travels. I’ll try again later.

    Dry, Oldham Street
    Originally known as Dry 201, a reference to Factory Records famous cataloguing system, this was one of the first European style bars to open in Manchester. Designed by the Hacienda’s Ben Kelly, it was later to gain notoriety with its banning of local bad boys Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder.

    I don’t know. Back at its height, Dry was full of the sort of pretentious wankers I’ve always disliked. Maybe it’s better nowadays.

    Band on the Wall, Swan Street
    This Swan Street club is one of the oldest in the city with music played at this point for over 200 years. One of Manchester’s most prolific bands, The Fall, have graced its stage on occasion. Music writer and lecturer C P Lee has also appeared as a member of the unforgettable Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias. A range of jazz, funk and soul nights make this one of Manchester’s most diverse attractions.

    This is turning into “how uncool is Ian”. I don’t think I’ve ever been to BotW. I would, y’know, if someone asked me…….

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    Urbis, Cathedral Gardens
    A stunning new addition to Manchester’s skyline in 2002. This is a a museum “of the city”. It’s worth keeping an eye on this space as 2004’s offerings have featured a retrospective of influential Factory designer Peter Saville’s work and an exhibition on the music of Detroit and Manchester.

    Urbis is cool. Mainly I go in to check the shop, though, rather than the exhibitions. The Cathedral Gardens are where the kids hang out on a Saturday. The street furniture is great for skateboarding and BMXing on. So short-sighted busybodies try to get the kids fined for doing energetic things in a safe place and want to banish them back to the dark corners where drug dealers can sell to them more easily.

    This location ahs been mapped on Platial

    MEN Arena, Hunts Bank Way
    This is Europe’s largest indoor arena with 20,000 seats. The busiest concert venue on the planet with 823,000 paying guests in 2003. Every major artist in the world from Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue to REM play this venue. The arena marked Morrisey’s first return to Manchester after an absence of 12 years with his new album “You are the Quarry”.

    And I’ve never attended a concert here either. One day I’ll buy Daz a ticket to one of the WWE things they keep holding here.

    (Since I wrote this, I have been to the MEN twice. Once to collect at an Eighties nostalgia night and then to watch plank pushers doing stunts.)

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    South, South King Street
    Tucked away at the back of South King Street this venue has changed its face from Bernards Bar to Stuffed Olives to Bar K but is now home to the popular “Rock and Roll Bar” on a Friday night. Haven to Manchester’s shoegazing community, a Mancunian male voice choir belting out “I am the Resurrection” can be heard from three blocks away.

    Also home to Clint Boon, formerly of Inspiral Carpets, on a Saturday. Which is when we normally end up down there. He has a policy to (almost) never play Inspirals songs, which is a shame.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Granada, Quay Street
    The country’s premier independent TV company is famous for dramas such as “Prime Suspect” and “Cold Feet”, but best known for the soap “Coronation Street”. It has played a significant role
    in the city’s musical history, with the Beatles making their first TV performance here on 7 October 1962. Anthony Wilson presented the influential music programme “So It Goes” and premiered the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK” on this show.

    Once upon a time there was a programme called “The People’s Parliament”. As I was working in the Students’ Union at the time, I was asked to be one of the participants in the pilot episode, which was shot in the House of Commons set at Granada studios. When filming was over we were all bunged £20 (for “transport costs” no-one was being paid for participating). I hopped on a bus down to the Academy to watch Carter USM. They had recently had one of their songs used in a KP advert, so Jim Bob kept getting bags of peanuts thrown at him. After the gig I got on another bus, headed back into town, and rounded off the night at UMIST, buying people drinks with my “transport” money.

    Those were the days.

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    And of course, there are my musical landmarks which aren’t on the map.

    Cyberia– One of the very first internet cafes in the world, Oxford Road. My sister was manager of Cyberia. One of the world’s first live webcasts, featuring 808 State, was held there in 1996 or ’97. It was supposed to be the opening night for their alcohol licence, but there were problems explaining the Information Superhighway to the old dears in charge of licensing, so it turned into a private party.

    Main Debating Hall/ Academy/ Pokey little hall upstairs the name of which I can’t remember at the University– Various gigs over the years, including Embrace, Carter USM, Echobelly and Frank Black.

    Old Trafford– This year’s Move festival.

    Various of the free festivals that get organised every year.

    Still, I do need to go and see more live music…….

    Originally published in Cycling on the Pavement in August 2004

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  • Songs

    Inspired by this Observer article, itself inspired by a Nick Hornby essay collection, I’m throwing open a Team Spinneyhead challenge to name and explain favourite and important tracks from our pasts. They don’t have to be ranked, mine are going to tumble out in the order they occur to me.
    Stupid Girl by Garbage. An all time favourite for all the right reasons- excellent song, great lyrics, nastiness as pop perfection- and all the wrong ones. Suffice to say there’s a tale, but it’ll make me look all spiteful, childish and bitter. Check out this for art imitating life, so I don’t have to elaborate.
    Stress by Jim’s Big Ego (Flash video) The summer of 2000, sitting in a little office downloading songs on company time, doing the bare amount of work and no-one noticing. Little did I know this song was about the year to come.
    After The Watershed, Say It With Flowers and The Only Living Boy In New Cross by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Let’s see. I pulled to Watershed (another event recorded for posterity, but less vividly, in fiction), Flowers gave me the title to Sounds of Soldiers and New Cross was a mad bastard driving song for 2001.
    I Can’t Imagine The World Without me by Echobelly. Just brilliant. This lot arrived in 93/94 and were only overshadowed by Oasis. As great as the Burnage boys were, Echobelly deserved far more attention than they got.
    Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) by The Buzzcocks. Pretty much sums up my relationship with the subject of Stupid Girl.
    Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega. Ah, first love. So sweet, so innocent, so utterly, utterly embarassing. Dedicated to Amy Hunter, who I had the biggest unrequited crush on when I was seventeen.
    I’m Not In Love by 10cc. Because I’m just a disgusting, soppy romantic.
    Don’t Let Me Down Gently by The Wonderstuff. Loud, loud, loud, fun, fun ,fun.
    Let It Be by The Beatles. September 13th 2001. I was living with a guy who knew people who worked in the WTC, but I was far too fucked up by work to be any use or comfort. The radio alarm went off and I hit the snooze button, but got up anyway. When the radio came back on it was this song and I just stopped what I was doing and cried.
    There are more, but I think I’ll save them for another post.


  • Got it taped

    As I hired the cheapest car going to get up here for Christmas, I ended up with only a tape player to rely on for sounds (one has been spoilt don’t you know). But finding the box of cassettes hidden away somewhere in the living room and digging out a selection has reminded me that there are gaps in my CD list. Amongst others, I need-

    Echobelly- Everyone’s Got One, On or I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me, the singles collection.

    Def Leppard- Hysteria

    Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet

    and

    Transvision Vamp- Baby I Don’t Care

    (This post has been the first in a short collection called ‘Things You Could Buy Ian For His Birthday’)