Musings on modern life, the 70's – with music.
Number 28 – Electric Six – Dick Valentine – ‘Danger (High Voltage)’
I clearly remember the first time I SAW this record. It was January 1st 2003 on my telly in Davigdor Road. Coming off the back off a brilliant year – off out to see every single live act Brighton had to offer (anyone remember the much missed Freebutt), it felt that I was out more often than I was in. I had no idea who they were, where they came from and, in the days before Broadband, I fired up my modem to have a look. The Electric Six played later that year in Brighton at the Concorde 2 so of course I went and it was a riot.
Dick Valentine (not to be confused with Dickie Valentine) – or Tyler Spencer was a bit of a superstar too – no other member of the band could get a look in. He may not have sported his moustache for long but when he did he sported it with aplomb. He has remarkably released 4 solo LP’s alongside the ‘Six. ‘Fire’, the LP it came from, is the only thing I’ve ever heard from them.
Like most music in the early noughties, Danger etc, was released on two CD singles crammed full of remixes including a knee trembling Thin White Mix which saw Stuart Price blend the song with Blue Monday (and I bought both versions).
Yes. It is probably Jack White on the co-vocals, he’s neither admitted it or denied it (I did for a week or so think it was the lady in the video). The imagined vision of Jack & Dick should their sexual desires at each other (in a disco) is incredibly appealing.
But the video is everything. Super kinky (and quite sexy), it features Valentine and actress Tina Kanarek, in a swanky lounge, her in a bra and him in a codpiece – both of which LIGHT UP pre-the enthusiastic snog. It is still one of the funniest and greatest things I have ever seen.
Number 26. Blackfoot Sue – Tom & David Farmer – ‘Standing In The Road’
This clip is lifted from the TV programme ‘Disco’ which was show at 7.30pm on a Saturday night in Germany. Everything about it sums up, for me, growing up as a 70’s child. So we see the bottleneck spectacles, spectacularly colour shirts, amazing platforms, chewing gum, lots of clapping, some inventive synchronised dance moves (mainly unsuccessful), predatory older men, face paint and body paint, hats, dungarees, facial hair, kaftans and huge sideburns. It all there and neatly encapsulated here.
Blackfoot Sue were from Birmingham, a city I’ve visited a couple of times. It’s always struck me as a bit tatty (although last time I visited 16 or so years ago, it had changed beyond recognition). The Birmingham accent is one of the least sexy in the UK though isn’t it? That’s not to say that people from Birmingham aren’t really THAT sexy – they are (note the Belouis Some look-a-like from Birmingham that I picked up in 1991) – but they don’t appeal as much as a Liverpool or a Manchester or a London accent. I’ll bet thought that Tom & David, from Blackfoot Sue sounded gorgeous. Almost uniquely in any chart, Tom & David were twins that came from Birmingham and wore dungarees. You can see there absolute joy here as they perform their only hit to a crowd of excited German teenagers. It really is an astonishingly good record too. Singing in the style of La Holder, loud stomping drum beat and screeching guitar – it finishes as it starts which is rather brilliantly. They released another single with ‘Sing Don’t Speak’ before they split up re-appearing without moustaches as Liner an archetypal ‘Yacht Rock’ act (and in 2016 Yacht Rock is an actual thing – Google it).
Number 24 – Earl Brutus – Tony Ogden and Nick Sanderson – ‘The S.A.S and the Glam That Goes With It’
This is a bit like an episode of ‘Only Connect’ (which is both the most ridiculous quiz show ever and the cleverest quiz show ever).
Back in 1985, when I was probably the same age, World of Twist. Formed in Sheffield. The original World of Twist quickly split up only to reform when they moved to Manchester in 1989. By this point Ogden was promoted to vocalist and co-songwriter. World of Twist only ever released one LP, the brilliant Quality Street – the sleeve shows them re-enacting a Quality Street tin – ladies in bustles, men in breeches and waxed moustaches. A demo tape was picked up by Circa records and Quality Street was released (in fact it’s just been re-released and expanded). Completely overshadowed by Oasis etc and unfairly lumped in with the Madchester scene, it sunk without much of a trace. The biggest hit single, The Storm, staggered to Number 42 in the charts and they split up citing musical differences.
Hop forward a year or two and Gordon King, James Fry and Nick Sanderson formed Earl Brutus with Rob Marche from the Jo Boxers. Ogden didn’t want to continue singing so did not join – he died rather mysteriously in 2006. Sadly too, Sanderson died from lung cancer in 2008 – once Ealr Brutus folded, though, he was a train driver from London to Brighton and may well have transported me, unknowingly so, on my daily commute.
But did they have moustaches? – the pictorial evidence is thin. Both Ogden and Sanderson appear to be sporting fine moustaches on the cover of Quality Street but can see no moustache evidence in Earl Brutus. HOWEVER, the lady on the cover of the sleeve HAS got a rather lovely blonde moustache (who is she? Anyone know?).
Okay, I’ve made a rather tenuous connection – so why this record? I’d heard about Earl Brutus’ remarkably ramshackled live performance though never got to witness it. This was THE Duckie anthem in the Summer of 1997 – it even made the Reader’s Wifes Top Twenty when it was played at the marathon 24 hour Dance-a-thon (though how I had the leg power to still be dancing 23 hours later God Only Knows (drugs and alcohol I expect) – and I stumbled rather bleary eyed into a blissfully hot Sunday Summer afternoon and slept all the way home on the train (note to self – must go to Duckie before the year is out). It still sounds fucking fantastic. The most bonkers lyrics, a bit of German fertilized with working class Northern Britain. Definitely one of the best records of the Nineties – difficult to explain in words – just play it and play It loud – for a while it was our anthem and if I ever decide to play it out again (which I probably will now) – it might again be. Shame there is no video though (‘cept for lady in moustache)..
Number 23 – Bryan Ferry – ‘Let’s Stick Together’
Despite being a vegetarian, I have never liked eggs. I can just about stomach the yellow yoke but stick a rubbery old piece of albumen on my plate and I turn tale and run. This hatred is entirely irrational. I’m not sure where it came from but remember that, at the earliest of ages, my Mum trying to force me to eat some – I steadfastly refused, banged my spoon on my high chair food tray and spat it out all down my chin then cried whilst poor Mum held her head in her hands out of despair (somewhere I have photographic evidence).
I had a similar fear of cooked cheese. But at least I tried THAT and soon realised that I LOVED it. Similarly most milk based puddings – tapioca especially but also rice pudding with the skin on and semolina (which resembles an afterbirth – even though I’ve never actually seen an afterbirth). Lump in with that custard and shellfish and squid (SQUID). It’s surprising that I’m still alive let alone an alive vegetarian. But it’s always been white eggy bits that I hate most.
But maybe one should try anything at least once as it can’t be that bad can it? So I encourage you, today, to try something that you’ve yet to try, Something you have a fear of. It might be a bungee jump, or listening to a difficult piece of experimental music, mount a pommel-horse, or shagging someone of the same (or opposite) sex, or touching a snake. It’s up to you entirely.
Bryan patently wanted to try a moustache. Here he is in all his glorious louche 70’s lounge lizard look with the best pencil-moustache this side of Ron Mael. It suits him but to be fair he could wear *anything* and still look stunning. ‘Let’s Stick Together’ was a song previously recorded by Wilbert Harrison (the writer of the song) in 1962 – when it was called ‘Let’s Work Together’ – he also had the hint of a moustache. Roll forward to 1971 and Canned Heat (also a moustached member) had a bigger hit. Then in 76, our Bryan released it and it became a huge hit. It’s easy to hear why. Slightly dirty lyric (with a bit of gentle swearing), the saxophone, Roxy drummer and synth player, Chris Spedding the then ‘guitarist du jour’, and an unknown female trilling and cooing over the impossibly exciting end bit. In the video we see Jerry Hall, Bryan’s then girlfriend – giving it tons in a tigerskin catsuit, flicking her hair about and wagging her tail in his face. She looks amazing. Why on earth she married Mick Jagger and now Rupert Murdich beggars belief.
One of the most failsafe records in any disco box – it never fails to get the contingency up and moving.
Bryan’s moustache only made a single appearance on film, a few publicity photos and on the cover of the LP and The Price Of Love EP. Then it was gone. Never to return. He returned to his clean shaven, suave, sophisticated, self.
Number 22 – Isley Jasper Isley – Chris Jasper & Ernie Isley – ‘Caravan Of Love’
IJI were the +3 in the Isley Brothers ‘3+3’ era line up – the first album when ISI were officially recognised as being part of the band. It was Chris & Ernie who wrote and sang on many of the best loved Isley Brothers singles from the 70’s. ‘3+3’,of course, contains not only ‘That Lady’ but also ‘Summer Breeze’ two of the greatest singles in the history of things. There was a time where they gave the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye a run for their money in terms of social consciousness. And Ernie searing, distinctive guitar playing is a feature on many of their greatest songs.
When the brothers split up citing musical differences (that old chestnut) and due to financial and tax reasons, the other three tried to sue them from disallowing the use of the Isley Brothers moniker, Marvin & Ernie together with Chris Jasper formed a splinter group. ‘Caravan of Love’ came from their second of three LP’s and outlined Jasper’s Christian beliefs. It had that classic Isley Brothers Summer Groove (even if the production is slightly too 80’s). The song became a surprise pre-Christmas Number 1 hit for The Housemartins (featuring a young Norman Cook) in 1986 held off the top spot by ‘Reet Petite’.
I have never, ever, EVER stayed in a caravan let alone a ‘caravan of love’. I prefer my home comforts far too much and cannot imagine being squashed in a small space with barely room to swing a cat let alone ‘getting in on’.
Number 21 – Paul Simon, Tony Levin – ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’
God I love Paul Simon – all of his stuff sounds as fresh today as the day it was first released. And remarkably, this was released 41 years ago. Art, beautiful singer that he certainly is, cannot match Paul in his songwriting prowess. And his musicianship and production are all top notch. I’ve even started to love Gracelands where once I would run away fast from ANY hint of World Music. By all accounts (and from the limited stuff I’ve heard) his new LP is rather fantastic too. Not bad for a fella who turns 75 in October.
Bless him for trying a moustache though – I’m not entirely sure whether or not it suits him – in fact, he seems to be going through a general hair crisis here – wearing the kind of hair usually sported by ageing 4th Division Football player from Hartlepool circa 1975 – hus moustache looks like it’s made out of a piece of Axminster carpet.
An alumni from the University of Columbia, it was here that he met Art and he briefly attended the Brooklyn Law School.
A long and illustrious career followed. His relationship with Art has been testy – Paul actually removed every note of contribution on the ‘Hearts and Bones’ album following a spat.
’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ is lifted from ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’. The recorded version features Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson and Phoebe Snow on vocals together with that incredible scattergun drum riff by Steve Gadd. Reaching Number 23 in this country, this reached Number One in the States on my actual birthday in 1976.
Also featured is bass-player Tony Levin who has the best moustache. He has been quietly playing bass with everyone from Peter Gabriel to King Crimson and we can see him in the second clip – the incredibly infectious ‘Late In The Evening’ from ‘One Trick Pony’ where the trumpets are everything.
Just this really.
Near the front of a long line of socially conscious songs that emerged from American black music in the mid 70’s also in line are ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’, ‘Harvest For The World’, ‘Year Of Decision’. It begins with a woozy, piano and twists and turns and builds until Teddy brings it to church. Impossible to dance to, and I HAVE tried. ‘Wake Up Everybody’ should be the basis of any political party manifesto. It’s about having the freedom to be who you want to be, to snog who you want to snog, to move where you want to move to, to walk down a street without fear of a terrorist attack, not to suffer sexist or racial or homophobic abuse from those who don’t know any better. Music is often all we have to cling on to and records like this can furnish us with a rubber ring of hope. It’s also about fighting back and not sitting around on Facebook whinging about it (whatever it happens to be).
They may have been called Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, but they are all about Teddy Pendergrass (here seen with a beard). All dead now apart from Lloyd Parks, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes have provided the likes of Jimmy Somerville, Simply Red, Sybil and er Sonia with hit records.
Extraordinary to think that Lionel was only 42 when he co-starred in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He was, in fact, six months younger than Dick Van Dyke who played his actual son.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with songs from the Sherman Brothers (see also Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book) was released to the cinema in 1968. I clearly remember going to see it with my cousin, Judith and my Nan at the Royston Priory Cinema in Royston one hot summers day. I was totally enchanted and a little traumatised. Enchanted to see Sally Ann Howe as the wonderfully aristocratic Truly Scrumptious, to see Benny Hill, Barbara Windsor (who kept her bra on), Arthur Mullard in a brilliant supporting cast and traumatised by the child-catcher. The Child Catcher is still, probably, the scariest chap in film history. Played by Robert Helpmann, he was a queer ballet dancer and bought to the role not only that nose but a certain balletic quality which you can witness seeing him skipping down the streets in Vulgaria rounding up the children.
It seemed to go on forever, and I giggled and screamed and hid my head on my Nan’s lap = odd to think that a character that had such an influence only appeared on screen for about 10 minutes maximum.
When the film was over I asked (or demanded) the soundtrack LP – we were far from wealthy so I had to make do with the MFP version. I also re-enacted the scene where Anna Quayle (Mrs Moreton) and Gert Frobe (Goldfinger) when I got shoved Judith out of a ground floor window (I didn’t). I also got a Chitty car which I played with a lot until Music took over.
So why this song, and why now. Moustaches in Pop is not a countdown but mire a list of songs which sometimes randomly pop into my head – there is no real Number 1.. but there are 101 of them.
Posh! is an acronym for Port Out Starboard Home – a nautical term. The scene shows Lionel being hoisted in his little shed (otherwise known as a khazi) and whizzed over the ocean to Vulgaria (although it was probably filmed in the studio). And Lionel looks quite sexy in his wellies.
They really don’t make films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang any more, it’s all CGI and we certainly don’t call out children Jemima or Jeremy. Shame.
I guess that this record is where all sorts of things started. A humongous global Number 1 smash – number 1 in the US, in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, over here, in Ireland, in Italy and even in Australia. 1974, for me, was certainly the year I became serious about music – the singles charts were full of variety – great reggae singles, great pop singles, the best Eurovision Song Contest, I dumped Alvin Stardust and Mud LP, my toy cars and my football league charts and embraced the likes of Queen, Steve Harley and Thin Lizzy..(although Bowie had always been there). I was only 12 at the time, still in school shorts with a bit of bum fluff on my upper lip. I didn’t really appreciate how important a form of music Disco would become in my life – I guess I was to suburban and probably too young (I would still have killed to have gone to Studio 54 JUST THE ONCE).
Rock Your Baby is arguably the first successful disco record. Hearing it again time and time over throughout the years, you can appreciate the subtlety of the KC production, the clicking metronome of the drum machine, the soaring falsetto vocals by George. Little wonder that it has never been successfully covered. Whatever Gets You Through The Night and Dancing Queen both owe a huge, huge debt to this song.
And yet, it was never Casey’s intention to have George singing on it – he just happened to be hanging around in the studio at the time (as one does). It could easily have been his wife, Gwen who took over vocal duties (although she have to tweak the lyrics a bit to ‘Hey Man’)
This particular performance is from Soul Train. I’ve banged on about how much I love Soul Train previously. The audience kicks the TOTP’s audience of bobbing girls into next week. In a TOTPs VS Soul Train fight, I know who I’d put my money on..
What, I wonder is the collective descriptor for a group of Nick Cave fans? There has to be one doesn’t there? Marc Almond has one, as did the Bay City Rollers. I’ll leave that for you to ponder.
Most Nick Cave fans that I know are massively devoted and in love with the man. They would literally crawl over hot coals to be in striking distance. I’m not quite such a fan. I like about 30 tracks in total but his back catalogue is so vast that I have never been able to afford the luxury nor the time to listen to it..
Yet he is a resident of Hove. I’ve spotted him a couple of times – in Waitrose by the hams and getting some cash from the station cash point machine. He looked exactly as you might expect – long black coat, big boots and brylcreemed hair. Last year, I went to see him with some lovely friends and was suitably blown away. He is an extremely intense performer – compelling to watch – almost a little dangerous. I actually liked him rather than feared him. I filled my Cave gaps with a couple of LP’s and songs which I liked. I think he played this slice of Southern American Gothic. Released from the album of the same name, the video was directed by Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard alumni of Goldsmith College and directors of the excellent 20,000 Days on Earth – which showed my little city in all it’s naked glory.
Like the majority of his material this reached the lower echelons of our charts.
Should he decide to play The Dome again, I’ll definitely be tempted.
Here are some facts that you (probably) don’t know about Boris and Dieter:
Along with Art of Noise, they were responsible for introducing the sample into our collective consciousness. More recently they have been commissioned to produce music for the Audi 5 and have recently released Toy which is their 14th album.
Exactly what any good 12” should sound like – two song glued together with minimal effort, a bit of a latino rap . Clocking at over 7 minutes, this slice of Puerto Rican samba was a big club hit when released in 1981 and remarkably reached the Top 40 in this country.
Andy Hernandez was born in Puerto Rica, joined up with August Darnell in both Dr Buzzards’ Original Savannah Band & in Kid Creole and the Coconuts (more of him later in this list). A percussionist who specialises in playing the vibraphone, Andy comes across as naughty little puppy who literally bounds around, jumps up, and practically licks their faces (bit like Fred then).
Que Pasa, for those who don’t understand Spanish, stands for ‘What’s up?’
And a coatimundi is a kind of raccoon-like diurnal mammal that is native to South America. Coatis communicate their intentions or moods with chirping, snorting, or grunting sounds. Different chirping sounds are used to express joy during social grooming, appeasement after fights, or to convey irritation or anger. Snorting while digging, along with an erect tail, states territorial or food claims during foraging. There you go.
Any song which begins with the word And, is quite fine in my book. Actually I can only think of one other (Open Your Heart). Without doubt there are loads more but if a song does begin with the word And it piques my interest.
‘Walk Away Renee’ begins with the word And doesn’t it. Renee used to run a jewellery stall opposite my Mum and Dad’s ‘Fancy Goods’ stall (we spent literally hours thinking of a name for the stall and rather shamefully settled on a combination of our names) on Royston market. Nice couple, probably the same age as I am now in fact – Renee had a husband called Albert I think and a twenty something daughter called Pam who wore a middle aged anorak all of the time – I believe that my Mum had Pam earmarked her for her future daughter-in-law (absolutely not my type). I still have some of the jewellery which I bought from them as a teenage boy from them. A Saint Christopher, a ‘mood ring’ (which has permanently been black ever since), some ‘hoop’ earrings which I brought for my Mum and a couple of identity bracelets – on which says Derek Goddard and one which says Christopher David Goddard. Remarkably, my identity bracelet STILL fits me. Purchased from my earnings from working on the flower stall (much humping of bulbs and dirt beneath my nails). Last time I returned to Royston, the market had all but disappeared. The flower stall was still there but had moved to the bottom of the arcade, and June still ran her stall which sold household goods (pegs, bleach, toilet roll) and still spread it across the entire pavement. Times have changed and we’ve lost that sense of community which a market can bring to people. Such a shame.
The Renee in Walk Away Renee has absolutely nothing to do with Renee of Renee, Albert? And Pam? fame. She is named after Renee Fladen-Klamm who at the time was the girlfriend of Tom Finn the bassist with The Left Banke. It was written by Michael Brown the singer with The Left Banke. It seems he became obsessed and totally infatuated by her. The Four Tops, though, took the song to a totally deeper leve. Levi Stubbs is one of the greatest singers in popular music history – managed to turn every record he ever sang on (and yes that included ‘Loco In Acapolco’) into psychotherapy sessions with him as the patient mostly – no-one has ever made paranoia, yearning and desperation so attractive
And was he exceptionally handsome.
I’ve never been especially fond of the noble sport of Boxing. In fact, I had a huge disagreement with a bloke in a pub over the why’s and wherefores of beating seven shades of shit out of each other. Given, you have to be incredibly fit to do it and I don’t mind the idea of practising it to keep fit but any more than that, leaves me cold. I’d have a good old wrestle with Giant Haystacks any day.
‘In Zaire’ was written as an homage to Muhammad Ali – as was his debut hit ‘Black Superman’. In Zaire, or The Rumble In The Jungle, took place on the 30th October 1974 between Ali and George Foreman. Listen to the song and you’ll here the whole story. Muhammad was as part of my childhood as Magpie, Slade and klackers. He just seemed impossibly cool and brainy and kind. Eminently quotable, who can forget those TV interviews on Parkinson in the 70’s. That twinkle in his eye told us all that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was a proper sporting legend.
When he died last month, the local news (South East Today), as is always the way, tried to get an angle on his death and tracked down Johnny Wakelin. Popping down to Brighton, they had a little chat with Johnny about recording this song, what his thoughts about his passing were then moved onto the next story. It was all very surreal. I’ve never actually seen Johnny since moving here. ‘In Zaire’ is a great little record – Johnny looks almost sexy in his floppy hat and shirt slashed to the waist (damn it he does look sexy). The rest of the band look as if they are approaching the end of a particularly joyful acid trip – grinning and gurning their way through the song (the drummers especially).
I’ve neglected Moustaches In Pop – in fact, the last Moustache In Pop was back in April FFS. Back on track now. Hurrah
Well thank the Lord. It looks like we might be getting a spell of hottish weather – it feels like years since we had a spell of more than a couple of rain free, wind free, snow free couple of days – I’ve only just turned off the heating.. We are already in May, almost half way through the year, and I need to, naturally, top up my tan. Embrace it though, it might not last very long.
The ELO were absolutely massive in the 70’s. Maybe we were missing The Beatles or The Beach Boys? With a 4 million pre-sale figure, Out Of The Blue became the first double LP to spawn 4 Top Twenty hit singles in the UK. And came with a nice cardboard build your own ELO space ship. Mr Blue Sky was lifted from Side Three – ‘Concerto For A Rainy Day’ suite. It reached Number Six in our charts and time has not withered it’s charm one inch.
I would like to congratulate Leicester City on their victory. Not terribly interested in football as a rule, but am always one to support the underdog and what they have achieved this season is amazing. More of that please.
And football, especially in the early 80’s has been littered with moustaches, the two mentioned above and Graham Souness (surely the best moustache in football) spring immediately to mind.
If I had a time machine, I’d set the dial to the early 70’s, location Los Angeles so I could be a member of the Soul Train gang. Platform heels, skinny pullovers, afro’s and listening to what is probably my favourite genre of music. It might have something to do with my age but every single single from this era by The Somethingorothers has a very special place in my heart. I cannot get enough of them. I devour them even to this day, in a way that I don’t devour other genres (you can stick Punk Rock for example).
All of the Detroit Spinners bar one are now dead. They were known as just The Spinners in the States but added the Detroit bit to avoid confusion with our version of The Spinners who were a ‘folk’ band from Liverpool, wore orange shirts and had their own TV series in the 1970’s.
‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’ was produced by the great Thom Bell and written by two brothers – Melvin & Mervin Seals reaching Number 11 in 1972. It was covered in the 80’s by Jaki Graham and David Grant – neither of whom had a moustache.
Join me then while I spin around on the spot in unison with the other Spinners, dressed in amazing jackets.
I feel very, very fortunate to have been old enough to have at the birth of some of the greatest musical genres in musical history. Punk, Disco, Synthpop and Glam but Rap really was the most radical of all – totally new and different. I cannot imagine the same happening in today’s sanitised maket place. Like Disco, Rap was borne of frustration and anger at the American political system, poverty, injustice – if Trump gets in *and I pray to God that he doesn’t), I guess that something new might emerge.
‘The Message’ was not the first Rap record I heard. Like most of us in this country, that was probably ‘Rappers Delight’ by the Sugarhill Gang – and extraordinary record – hugely influential – nicking huge swathes from Good Times by Chic, one wondered how they actually produced such a record (it’s quite easy really). But, for me, I had to wait until this came out three years later to finally get how important Rap really was.
Released on the Sugar Hill label – the one run by Sylvia Robinson of Mickey & Sylvia and Pillow Talk fame from years earlier and her hubby. The Message was also one of the longest records to ever have graced the Top 5 in this country and preceded the likes of Blue Monday in our affections for the 12” single (was there even a 7” version cos if there was I don’t remember it).
Did they have moustaches though – hell Yes. Too early to research which members sported them but sport them they most certainly did.
Reading though the lyrics below, one can see that the social issues addressed then are still as relevant today. It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under…
“Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with the baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car
Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got social security
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park cause it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say “You want some more?”
Livin’ on a see-saw
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under”
Our annual holiday as a kid was either in Snowdonia or Swanage or on the Norfolk coastline – specifically Scratby (On Sea?). We rented a bungalow from Mrs Wilkinson or Parkinson or Hutchinson, a resident of Royston, who bought it as a holiday home I think. I was a tiny, slightly shabby old thing. Really Old fittings in the kitchen, smelt a bit of dogs, small black and white TV in the corner and an uncomfortable sofa. You would think that we were going away for months rather than a week. Mum and Dad (well Mum really) would load up our cranky old car with spares of everything – extra food, clothing for all kinds of weather, extra toys for me, extra cleaning materials. On arrival, Mum would always have a ‘do round’ – the bathroom and kitchen, normally, scrubbing this and that and get the hoover out to rid the bungalow of any fragments and bits of food left by the former occupants. Scratby beach, despite the unfortunate name, was stunning. Sand would get everywhere (literally) and I spent many days running across the road through the bushes and down to the sea. It never seemed to rain. EVER.
It seemed to take ages to get there. All day sometimes. I have no idea why as it was less than 100 miles away – maybe we went via Ipswich.
They were happy times, I think we went twice to the bungalow and once to the local Hoseasons (are they still going or have they gone the way of BHS). Getting the Hoseasons holiday catalogue was the most exciting event of the year.
I really like The Darkness – they make me smile a broad, ironic nodding smile.
The Darkness all come from Lowestoft (I seem to remember that Lowestoft smells of fish) which is the other side of Great Yarmouth (never did visit the infamous waxworks museum). Well, all apart from Mr Poullain who is from Edinburgh. Francis Gilles Poullain-Patterson left The Darkness in 2005 but rejoined them when they reunited in 2011. Lead singer, Justin Hawkins, reportedly spent £150,000 in three years on cocaine – which, frankly, doesn’t sound THAT unreasonable for an international rock star.
Still recovering from the shock? Well, his videos are popping up on Youtube so you can, briefly, re-live your youth through them.
‘Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun’ is the way the 12” version begins. Voice slowed down, it felt like a threat rather than an invitation to party.
One of my favourite DJ nights was New Years Eve in 1998. The clock struck midnight, the New Years Eve kisses started and I played this – I’d actually been looking forward to playing it for years – it was the perfect time to play yet another perfect record. Drink was spilled, fags were smoked, kisses were exchanged and 1999 was truly with us. I seem to also remember that this was released with Little Red Courvette on the B side in this country – a record which I once sang at karaoke rather disastrously to be fair.
I’ll bet there were some looks amongst the collective Priest about Rob’s latest look. ‘I shall wear a leather cap and gloves and stuff you lot’ he’d say. ‘Put some clothes on at least’ would crow KK Downing.
Living After Midnight comes from British Steel, sixth in a long line of Priest LP’s, each one containing a number like this (i.e great). This could quite easily be turned into a Disco record or even a Eurovision Song. And it’s at least as gay, lyrically, as anything by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
I won’t discuss Dave Holland here, he was imprisoned for a rather nasty crime but Ian Hill is the only remaining member of the Priest (Halford came along a little later). Proper Midlands lad, he married Halford’s sister and the had a son but they separated and is now on his third marriage and settled in Staffordshire.
I think Dave (or David) only briefly had a moustache – it’s difficult to tell in videos as he is quite well hidden or dimly lit, Marc taking much of the spotlight. I guess that’s the way he liked it – he always looked a little startled by everything.
Anyway, I don’t really like ‘Tainted Love’ – I know that ‘everybody else’ seems to but I just don’t. I much prefer the Northern Soul version by either Gloria Jones or Ruth Swann. But it served it’s purpose and gave them the hit they were looking for and meant that their wonderful debut LP got the recognition it deserved.
Their 80’s recording career lasted for only three albums and a remix – each one treasured down here. Released in November 1981, this is an account of a young man, living in London (it has to be London), doing a mundane job and living for the weekend where he could go otu for a drink, a dance and have some fun. It’s certainly up there with the greatest records of the decade. I could mimick every move and dance in the video, even doing soe interpretive mime along the way.
In these days, before Social Media, Grindr, mobile phones even, one had to pick up a phone in order to hook up with someone – a proper red telephone in a red telephone box – imagine that kids.
Or go cottaging.
Stick a pin in the Soul Disco Groups map of the 1970’s and you’re bound to prick a moustache or two amongst the gathering. It make my job a little easier, and plenty are coming up before this list is finished. However, you are unlikely to prick anyone as scrumptious as Chris Amoo from the Real Thing.
Growing up in a white, predominantly middle class market town, spotting a ‘black man’ (am I allowed to say that?) was a rarity indeed. In fact, it was fair to say that I was a bit scared of ‘them’. Black soul groups (and black light entertainers for that matter) all looked like The Stylistics (who are GREAT) and wore bow-ties. The Real Thing, however, did not. They actually wore some of the best clothes ever seen on TOTP’s (for further proof, see clips below). And Chris, from my settee, looked like the most handsome man I had EVER seen. I am literally in a bit of a lather just thinking about him, his incredible face and that moustache. They had three big top twenty hits in succession, then their petrol kind of ran out until Raining Through My Sunshine and Can You Feel The Force. They appeared with David Essex both as a support on his tour and on his hit ‘Me & My Girl (Nightclubbing)’.
This was remixed to horrible effect in the 80’s, it reached Number one and was stuck in between ‘Combine Harvester’ which I loathed and The Demis Roussos EP – which I quite liked. It was also the hottest Summer ever and every day I spent down the swimming pool, getting a great, natural tan and sucking on a double sherbet lollipop and dreaming of Chris (whose Afghan Hound won third place in Crufts).
The first year of big school and I was a member of the Royston Town Band and played the euphonium. Quite a big instrument for a tiny child, it was almost as big as I. At school, we had a Music Teacher called Mr Nunn who was encouraging me to take my music interests further, join the school orchestra and study the subject at O-Level. Of course, being me, I didn’t take that advice , opting instead for three Sciences as I had convinced myself that I wanted to be a Doctor of all things – 7% in my Mock Chemistry exams (‘Christopher is floudering’ the report said) soon put a stop to that nonsense – I was always more creative than scientific.
Mr Nunn, introduced me to Prog rock. He would regularly play tracks by Uriah Heep (I think Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble was his favourite). We all sat around the classroom nodding in appreciation. He played ‘Smoke On The Water’ during one lesson and it blew my mind, I went off to Tesco at the earliest opportunity and bought 24 Carat Purple. I only played it once I think. And Smoke On The Water (apart from the guitar riff) as not dated terribly well at all – I mean a song about a fire in a recording studio does not really connect with me now. But the guitar riff is one of the greatest ever recorded.
I’d still like to run my adult evening class on the History of Popular Music. I can see it now: a ten week course, running in the evening (a Thursday maybe), tacking a different genre per week (in chronological order of course) with an entire lesson on David Bowie. It staggers me that there isn’t a Music GCSE on off in the National Curriculum – do they still just get you to study the classics and stuff.? Maybe I’ll pitch it now I’m back working in an education environment.
Anyway. Doesn’t Ian Gillan look scrummy here? Those forearms, that vest, all that hair and the dimples. But Deep Purple were for boys almost exclusively so he didn’t get anyone screaming at him. Jon Lord on the keyboards, was from Leicester. Hr moved to London, bought an array of organs (one from Christine McVie) and with Ian Paice was the only constant member of the Purple before joining Whitesnake. He died aged 71 in 2012 from a pulmonary embolism.
A year ago, or maybe even two, I began a FB listing called HOT, KNACKERED & RANDY! The Best 401 Disco Records of All Time. I actually got to 277 then my PC crashed, Christmas happened, Tiffany Twisted happened, life happened and anyway all of the records kept changing their order, with new ones jostling for inclusion. Project abandonded. Anyway, the Top Ten probably included: (You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real, Shame, Lost In Music, Behind The Groove, Let’s Get Serious, Love Hangover, Good Times, The Hills Of Katmandu, You Gave Me Love but this would have been and always is Number 1 in my book – in any book.
But Donna does not (or did not) have a moustache? Patrick Cowley DID though. Looking like an extra from a Falcon Movie, Patrick twiddled his DJ knobs, played synthesizer on tour with Sylvester – a pioneer of electronic dance music really. His recorded material can be a bit hit and miss – plenty of pumping HiNRG straight out of a scene from that old clone bar scene in Cruisin’ – snorting poppers from a hanky (probably) DANGEROUSLY sexy – tracks with titles such as Menergy were never going to endear him to a heterosexual record buying public so his success remained firmly underground. In 1978, he remixed I Feel Love, clearly a hugely influential record a year earlier but it remained an unreleased and underground until 1982 as a 12” single. By this time Patrick had the AIDS (or GRIDS as it was known in those days) virus and died in November that year. He was working on material for Sarah Dash and completed Mind Warp under his moniker and Do You Wanna Funk for Sylvester.
I carried out a spot of research on the clone moustache. Stories vary as to whether the trend amongst gay men was instigated by the Castro district in San Francisco, or New York or was it the Tom Of Finland cartoons? By the early 80’s a moustache was de-rigeur amongst certain members of the gay community – looking back now, it was a brave, bold statement if done properly. And it is (if done properly) quite sexy. We had our own in Freddie Mercury but there are very few, if any, successful clones (NEVER in Hollywood, the bloke from the Village People, the dancers from the Boystown Gang – that’s all). I’ve had several moustachees (is that a word?) and can report that yes they DO tickle a bit (but that’s half the fun of them).
So this is for the clones of the slightly older generation who are now probably languishing and running antique or tea shops in a village near you.
Time really is marching on. It’s already the middle of April, the fourth month of 2016. It’ll soon be Christmas. I don’t feel this year has properly kicked into gear, although, I don’t know what I would like it to look like when or if it finally does. The same old work, sleep, eat cycle which has bothered me for years. It’s grinding me down frankly and it began grinding on the first day of the year.
Included on my personal checklist for 2016 (hate the term resolution) was:
Get a fitter or ‘more toned’
Use my passport
Complete my collection of Now CD’s
Watch less rubbish telly
Find a bloke
Restrict my access to Facebook
Have more fun & dancing.
At least I’ve managed to achieve the first one, and, for the first time in my life, I am actually enjoying exercise. Far from being a muscle Mary (I’d hate that), I am just that bit stronger and little bit more youthful. Since my birthday I have been acutely aware of the clock ticking. My Mum died before she reached 60 and my Dad wasn’t that much older, so turning 54, smacked me right in the face that, law of averages, I might not have that much time actually left. Ann, my first Personnel & Development Director (back in the days before it was called HR) once gave us all a piece of advice during a team meeting. Think about the average life expectancy, write down on a piece of paper the number of weekends (or days off), you might have left, and cross them out once they have passed – do something different, even if it’s just walking up a road you’ve never walked up before, or listening to a record that you’d previously avoided. Sage, if daunting advice.
So what does this have to do with Moustaches in Pop? I currently have a moustache which I grew specifically for Mark’s 50th Jet Set party (which I was so looking forward to but managed to, somehow, not actually speak to half my friends there). I’d NEVER considered having one before and I remember swooning over a photo of Glenn Frey back in the 70’s of him & his. Of course, he had proper long hair but I’m quite glad that I’ve managed to match it and reckon I’ll keep it for a bit. If you’ve ever grown a moustache (and I guess most men have tried), you will know that it takes far more discipline and work than simply growing a beard. There have been some horrendous famous moustaches – will I end up looking like my Grandfather? Or Ronnie Barker? Or the bloke from Village People, or Hitler? Who knows but I’m quite enjoying the routine of it all.
‘Hotel California’ also provided me with the titles for Tiffany Twisted. It really is a marvel of a record. Slightly druggy, sleazy, bitter, angry even but sexy. I guess that all of the Eagles have grown moustaches at one time – Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey certainly did on release of the LP.
Back at the inception of my time on Facebook, I did a daily thing called 101 Beards In Pop which served as an inspiration for my 50th birthday – so am returning to the ‘in Pop’ theme for this one and hope that you enjoy it.