Monday, August 29, 2005

Always trust your instincts 

I didn't want to go to Carnival today - I hate Carnival, I always have a rubbish time, or something's gets nicked and the day becomes one big downer. But, much against my better judgment, my rubber arm was twisted.

I didn't want to take my brand-spanking-new digital camera, only just received from the insurance company after the last one was dropped on the floor of the Whitehorse (that one being a replacement itself for the one taken in our recent burglary). But, much against my better judgment, my rubber arm was twisted.

And you know what - the one moment my bag wasn't clutched tightly to my chest, when I raised my arm for 10 seconds to shield my eyes from the sun and search for a missing friend, some little shit quietly unzipped the side pocket and made off with my brand-spanking-new camera.

I'm going to amputate that rubber arm.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Keeping it real 

This time next week, I won't be here.

It's a sobering thought that's been at the forefront of my mind all weekend. I'd like to say I've made the most of my last London weekend for a while, but I'd only be half-right. Today was literally sobering, as I nursed a king-sized Jagermeister-induced hangover, spent packing and grabbing last-minute bargains from Primark (you may mock, but check their £6 wrap dresses - and there's no way I'm spending more than a shiny English tenner for a one-season military crop jacket), rather than whooping it up at Carnival.

Yesterday, however... Now that's a different story. I started the day with coffee in Green Park, had a last blast with my fave facialist, met the Kiwi whanau for sensational brunch at Peter Gordon's Providores, sunk a pint in the sunshine, raided Selfridges, Topshop and H&M with Ms G, then headed back south to drink far too much of the afore-mentioned 35% proof liquor. (Not the greatest end to the day, but still...)

It's getting hard to keep the emotions in check now, though, and from here on in I think we can expect more crying-in-public scenarios such as that on the 133 bus this evening, watching one of the summer's most beautiful sunsets from an almost tranquil Brixton Hill.

Luckily, London has a canny knack of bringing you back down to earth with a bang and ensuring you don't get unbearably maudlin - take, for instance, yesterday's weepy moment. I travelled up on the Tube with the businessman who's taken to dressing like John Steed from The Avengers since the July bombings, in order to facilitate conversation - and therefore a better sense of community - between passengers. A band on his hat said, 'Come up and say hello', so - unlike the rest of the carriage, who were studiously ignoring him - I did just that.

The old me might have written him off as a proper daftie, but there's something kinda lovely and quirky and sweet about his gesture, and - shock, horror - it made me a bit emotional. As I exited Green Park station, I could feel my eyes starting to brim as I reflected on this bizarre, beautiful city of ours. Ah, London, I sighed...

Then I turned the corner and promptly stood in a huge pool of sick.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Love Sick, Orange Juice [MP3]
(Buy the ace Glasgow School album now!)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

There she goes 

Somebody spare me - I'm going to be a wreck by D Day...

It was off to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Ally Pally tonight, courtesy of the Scottish Dobber (a wee going-away present much appreciated, sweetheart). From the moment we stagger(Lee)ed up the hill to the Palace and looked out over London, I was feeling emotionally wobbly. For the first time, the full realisation of the week's events hit me - in nine days' time, I'll be in New York. Yay. En route to New Zealand. Yikes.

But anyway. We arrived in time to hear Sons & Daughters screech out their last song - the acoustics were ear-splittingly terrible, but thankfully the bar (as always) provided sanctuary. A couple of pints later, and the roar went up from next door. We chucked our plastic cups and ran, to hear Mr Cave launch into a straight-off-the-bat, take-no-prisoners rendition of Get Ready For Love. Losing the boys along the way, Ms O'B and I squirmed our way through the crowd to secure the usual front-right positions with a perfect view of the sinisterly sexy Cave stalking the stage.

As happens at every gig I attend, I fell in love. This particular love affair first sunk its hooks on New Year's Day this year when, after a big night at Optimo in Glasgow and as a novice in the ways of worship of the Dark Lord, Reilly took it upon himself to educate me with an afternoon of music videos, in particular Stagger Lee on high rotate. I was in thrall to the Wolfman then and I am utterly at his mercy now.

I couldn't give you a set list - I know the Ship Song got an outing, as did Supernaturally, an unimaginably powerful track Be Still something(?), O Children, and the final track, the one that finally brought on the waterworks, There She Goes, My Beautiful World. Sure, the gig was patchy in parts, but I was blown away., not least by the Nosferatu-like shadows Cave cast on the Alexandra Palace walls.

The usual waiting-15-minutes-for-the-encore shenanigans followed (why bother? - we all know they're coming back on, it's just an ego trip really, isn't it?), but by the time they re-emerged, I felt a need for my own company, so I made my excuses and ducked out to the loo...

Except I actually went outside, to sit in perfect solitude on a park bench and be with my thoughts - and the view. It's a rare occurence to see London from such a great height. From my vantage point I could see right across the city, meaning I've now viewed it from every angle - from the east, a high-rise in Bethnal Green; west, the 10th floor of the Trellick Tower; south, my apartment on Streatham Hill; and now, finally, north.

The lights of a dozen airplanes circled overhead like flies, but London didn't look like the grim carrion it might have during the day. From here, lit up against the blackness, it looked like every other city I've been to, beautiful places - Paris, Barcelona, Sydney... It reminded me of looking out over Auckland from Mt Eden, but also - and I don't know how to explain this - of a London I'd never seen, yet still felt comfortingly familiar. I found myself becoming homesick for a place I haven't yet left.

And as the cheer went up inside for Stagger Lee, I stood up and walked down the hill towards the train station, wiping my eyes with my sleeve.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: There She Goes, My Beautiful World, Nick Cave [MP3]

What I'll miss most about London - #3 

Zane Lowe's Gonzo on MTV2

We were sitting there on Sunday night, waiting for the prospective flatmates-to-be to arrive, flicking through Sky (57+ channels and nothing on, as The Boss might say), when we alighted upon old favourite, MTV2. Even better, it was Gonzo time.

What a show. What a fucking show. For those of us who don't get out so much any more (although what a week I've got ahead of me, tee hee, starting with Nick Cave tonight, woo hoo), it's such an ace way to get up to speed on all those 'next big things' you really should have got down to that grimy basement club to discover months ago but never got round to doing. Such as the Mystery Jets (who I've actually seen twice, but somehow foolishly overlooked) - I love 'em! Thanks Zane! Go and buy their new single, You Can't Fool Me Dennis, immediately, and watch the truly wondrous video here - the best 80s indie pop I've heard since, erm, the 80s (check that Johnny Marr-like syncopation!).

I've often heard negative types dissing the Lowe man, but I don't really see how you can. Not only is he piss-funny on screen, but by all accounts, he's a really lovely chap off it. I think the hataz are just jealous. He makes me proud to be (half) Kiwi - and regular readers will know I don't make that statement lightly. And while no one can fill the great John Peel's shoes, Zane's doing a pretty good job of carrying the torch.

And on that note, here's a recently-rediscovered tribute to the great man from the good chaps at Optimo (much beloved of Mr Peel), which I hope Twitch won't mind me posting here. They're playing the Cross Festival this weekend - make sure you check them out, if you're still an Optimo virgin. They will change your life - they certainly have mine (but more on that later.) If you can't make it, secure a copy of their superb Kill The DJ Pt 2 or Psyche Out CDs for ultimate bedroom pleasures...

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Farewell Peel mix, JD Twitch [MP3]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Well, blow me down 

I got that job.

I'm thrilled.

I leave for New Zealand next weekend.

Things have suddenly become very, very surreal round here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

MP3 Monday: Animal magic 

My iTunes: it's a jungle in there. Inspired by my visit to the Natural History Museum, and its magical room of mammals, Top Ten Tuesday has been flagged in favour of a more zoological approach. On a Monday. From the 100 or so animal-related tracks found within, here are 13 sure-fire roaring MP3 hits of animal nitrate (and yes, that is that Mr Scruff sample). Breathe deep. Go wild.

DOGS! I Wanna Be Your Dog The Stooges

CATS! Track In A Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys

LIONS! Bad Bad Simba O'Donal Levy

APES! The Monkey That Became President Brotherhood

ELEPHANTS! Tusk Fleetwood Mac

FOXES! Theme from Foxy Brown Willie Hutch

PIGS! Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag Pigbag

BEARS! Bear Cage The Stranglers

RODENTS! Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) Sly & The Family Stone

BIRDS! Bringing Down The Byrds Herbie Hancock

MORE BIRDS! Lament 1 'Birds Lament' Moondog

EVEN MORE BIRDS! The Blackbyrds' Theme The Blackbyrds

ALL OF EM! Wild Safari Barrabas

And, um, I clearly have far too much time on my hands... I Call My Baby Pussycat, Parliament; Eye Of The Tiger, Survivor; Copy Kat, The Bar-Kays; Puss N Boots, New York Dolls; Pussy Footer, Jackie Robinson; Cat Inna Can, Straitjacket Fits; Knights Of The Jaguar, Rolando; Panther Dash, The Go Team; Mr Chicken Shit, Soul Seven; Rubber Duckie, Bootsy's Rubber Band; Little Red Rooster, Rolling Stones/Howling Wolf; The Mule, The Magic Numbers; White Horse, Laid Back; Four Horsemen, The Clash; Mustang Sally, Wilson Pickett; Ground Hog, Duke Peterson; The Hawg Pt 1, Eddie Kirk; Ape Shuffle, Lalo Schiffrin; Stay Away From That Monkey, Jimmy McCracklin; (You're A Fish & I'm A) Water Sign, Parliament; Turtle Walk, Lou Donaldson; Jelly Baby/Fish, Isolee; Electronic Frog Pt 1, Kool & The Gang; Roast Fish & Cornbread, Lee 'Scratch' Perry; Weasil, Donald Byrd; Twentieth Century Fox, The Doors; Stone Fox Chase, Area Code 615; Animal Midnight, Stephen Malkmus; Elephant Stone, The Stone Roses; Do The Dog, The Specials; Atomic Dog, George Clinton; Hounds Of Love, The Futureheads; All The Pretty Little Horsies, Current 93 & Nick Cave; Dog Eat Dog, Adam & the Ants; My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found, The Fiery Furnaces; Stool Pigeon, Kid Creole & The Coconuts; I Got Ants in My Pants, James Brown; Horse Winning Without Rider, Phelps & Munro; Alligator, Dizzy Gillespie; Mongoose, Elephant's Memory; Dirty Ol Egg Suckin Dog, Johnny Cash; Black Dog, Led Zeppelin; I Want A Dog, Pet Shop Boys; Diamond Dogs, David Bowie; Dogs Are Everywhere, Pulp; Year Of The Dog, Relaxed Muscle; Hair Of The Dog, Bauhaus; Howlin' At The Moon, The Ramones; Rene & Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War, Paul Simon...

... and last but not least, erm, Suck A Bactrian Camel's Dick by the one and only Wesley Willis. May he rest in peace. Hopefully nowhere near any animals.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What I'll miss most about London - #2 

The museums

It's a truly under-rated thing that, on any given day in London, you can access a vast proportion of the world's historical and artistic treasures. For free.

Well, truly under-rated by me, that is. After five years of taking the capital's museums for granted, I still haven't managed to make my way around half of them. For example, I've been to the British Museum a dozen times, but never made it to the Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road, despite living directly opposite the place for nearly a year. Likewise with the reportedly excellent Dennis Severs House in Whitechapel - years spent walking past it, never to step inside. I flatter myself as cultured, but I'm evidently a proper philistine.

Anyway, with my time here ticking away at an alarming rate, I decided to at least partially remedy the situation by finally getting along to the Natural History Museum yesterday. I'd written about Usher's ego-tastic watch (bearing his ugly mug in yellow diamonds) for work, so thought I should see it in the flesh, as it were, as part of the NHM's current Diamonds exhibition.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe exhibition was OK - how I coveted the Faberge tiara and Daniel Brush's bakelite ring! - but I'm not sure I would have paid the standard ticket price of £9 to see it. Admittedly there's a whole lot of bling for your buck, but I dunno, diamonds get a little dull after a while (when they're not your own), and there's just far too much queuing and standing about.

I spent much more time at the (free) Face To Face exhibition, James Mollison's close-up photographs of orphaned apes from sanctuaries around the world (-->). As well as being visually stunning, they're emotionally powerful - overwhelmingly so. Their expressive, almost-human faces and brief, tragic captions brought me to tears, and I had to sit down and wipe my eyes. Go and see this while you still can - it ends 18th September.

Last but not least, we strolled around the rest of the museum, motoring quickly through the wonderful but child-packed Dinosaur rooms (a masterclass in how to make a museum both fascinating and educational for kids) in order to linger longer in the Mammals rooms.

Faced with a cabinet full of stuffed dogs, a little girl anxiously asked her father, "Did they have to kill all of these animals, Daddy?" "No," he tenderly replied. "They found them, after they got very old and slipped away in their sleep." Ahhh. A summer of dead-dog nightmares successfully averted there, then.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe legions of stuffed mammals were duly awe-inspiring, especially the larger varieties. I never realised quite how tall a giraffe is, or how frighteningly massive a hippo. But my visit was topped off when I saw a sign pointing to a flight of stairs, and - remembering a particularly side-splitting episode of Dr Katz: Clinical Psychiatrist and the resulting private joke - dashed up them in order to snap a photograph of this fellow (<--), residing under a sign saying 'Sea cow'. "But I'm a manatee!" Of course you are, old chap.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Atomic Dog, George Clinton [MP3]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Good things happen to good people 

I have to admit I've probably never been known as the most joyous of people - funny, yes; sunny, only on a good day, or with the 'work face' on. I'm not a mean-spirited bitch by any stretch (I hope), but I've always enjoyed being referred to as "cynical" and "wry" - I even took a secret pride in my self-centredness. Many years ago, an ex-boyfriend described me as "careless, and I don't mean clumsy - you simply don't care about other people".

And although age has worked to improve my caring, sharing side somewhat, London has done its damndest to push it back the other way. Even the most philanthropic types who arrive here full of brotherly love end up a little wary and suspicious, their once-wide-open arms clenched defensively over their chests.

But in recent months, there's been a sea change at Smacked Face Towers. The arms have started to open again, there's a lightness of step, and a generosity of spirit flowing through my veins. I feel great, damn it, and I want to share the love. And you know what - sharing the love has reaped the benefits.

I've never been the most spiritual of people (odd for an Aquarian on the cusp of Pisces, as we're supposed to be very spiritual types - but then not being the most spiritual of people, I don't give any credence to that sort of astrological mumbo-jumbo...), but without getting all 'spiritual' on yo' asses (though that's exactly what I'm about to do), I can only describe this current state of affairs as 'good karma'.

I noticed the changes only slightly at first. For instance, one day I'd buy a Big Issue from the distinguished-looking homeless chap always reading classic novels at Canary Wharf. The next morning, the barista at Pret would give me a free soya latte. I continued on my merry way, giving money to buskers (although I do that as a matter of course - the good ones, at least), smiling at strangers, banishing satanic thoughts about irritating tube passengers before they could properly form - and the good vibes just kept rolling in in return. I felt terrific.

The latest noteworthy instalment came this week, when I pulled out all the stops to get an immensely talented friend some work (and hopefully his big break) with my company. The lightning bolt of an idea came at 6.30am one morning, and I practically raced into work to set the wheels in motion.

And whaddaya know? That very evening a message arrived in my inbox, from an extremely desirable company in New Zealand: they'd like to add me to their shortlist for what could possibly be my absolute dream job, would I be available for a phone interview?

What goes around comes around? So it seems. But right now, I'm just getting high off being nice. Ahhh.

[zen-tinged drivel ends]

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Getting What You Give, Dimmer [MP3]
[available from these good people]

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Top Ten Thirteen Tuesday: It's the bombs that will bring us together Pt 1 

Funk bombs! And how! MP3 yourself silly (then go and buy the shit, you know the drill).

1 Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On Funkadelic
Of course the Parliafunkadelicment Thang had to be No 1 - after all, everything is on the one. But which track? Far too many to choose from, it was a toss-up between the classic Mothership Connection (last but certainly not least at no 13) or this one - my current fave. And with lyrics like these, how could I resist?:
"Hey lady, won't you be my dog/And I'll be your tree/And you can pee on me!
We will do you no harm/Other than pee in your afro"


2 Think James Brown & Marva Whitney (live)
And naturally Mr Brown has to be up there too, since he invented the concept. Again, where do you start? I'm going for this fabulous duet with soul sista Marva Whitney from the Live At The Apollo album.

3 Dance To The Music medley (Danny Krivit re-edit) Sly & The Family Stone
If I'm remembered for one thing, it'll be for thrashing this absolutely stonking re-edit at every party I've ever played/muscled in on the decks at. And dancing like a deranged go-go girl on angeldust at the same time. It's an awful sight. I've seen pictures. This is my Favourite Track Of All Time. No question.

4 Do What You Wanna Do T Connection
... Apart from maybe this one. Check that percussion, check that bassline, check that break. Pure funk-meets-disco brilliance.

5 Shack Up Banbarra
And, um, maybe this one has to be added to the All Time list as well. I know some people like the A Certain Ratio version, but for me it doesn't even come close to the original. I recall Mr Scruff dropping this at Sonar 2002 - and completely losing it. (Me, that is, although I suspect Scruff probably had a good old boogie himself.)

6 Let's Start The Dance Hamilton Bohannon
Where does it end! An absolute killer from the mighty Mr Bohannon from 1978, again with some mad percussion, driving beats and bass hits punching you so hard in the guts you're left winded. Nicely.

7 Shake Your Rump To The Funk The Bar-Kays
... Although if you're wanting the sucker punch of bass hits, you want this wee gem from a group that more and more I'm considering one of my favourites. Admittedly it goes all a bit Brothers Johnson disco-lite at times, but the nastay funk grooves of the chorus and those slabs of horns and guitar kicks more than make up for that.

8 Only So Much Oil In The Ground Tower Of Power
Funk goes all ecological on your arse with this bizarrely-worded, horn-heavy killer from the Urban Renewal album: "If we keep on like we're doing, things for sure will not be cool/It's a fact we ain't got sufficient fuel." Thankfully the groove created by Lenny Williams and crew compensates for the really wack lyrics.

9 This Is You, This Is Me Kool & The Gang
Relentless funk off The Gang's Wild & Peaceful album from 1974, the LP that also produced the singles Hollywood Swinging, Jungle Boogie and Funky Stuff. Obviously, an album you cannot do without.

10 The Jam Graham Central Station
Sly Stone's bassist Larry Graham is widely regarded to have some of the best bass chops in the business, responsible for developing that fab fuzzy bass sound in Sly & The Family's tracks, and ably demonstrated here, in his next band's finest achievement, The Jam, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Just ignore the daft faux-Japanese intro from percussionist 'Wenyuwo' on, erm, 'wums'...

11 The Pinocchio Theory Bootsy's Rubber Band
Lays down the P Funk philosophy in one easy song - if you fake the funk, your nose will grow.

12 Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys The Equals
Psychedelic funk of the highest order from Eddy Grant's first band (interestingly enough, the first British multi-racial band to hit the No 1 spot with Baby Come Back in 1968, fact fans). With a political message to boot, and best of all, he's from my manor, innit!

13 Mothership Connection and Swing Low Sweet Chariot (live) Parliament
I added the sensational Live P Funk Earth Tour 1977 album to the vinyl collection the other day (which doesn't seem to be getting any smaller even though the Great Move Backwards is only a month and a bit away). For all its dodgy sound mixing, I can highly recommend it. Truly, light year grooving.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Eating it up 

Loads going on in Smacked Face land, but the quest to see as much of London before i go continues apace (yes, I know I've had five years to do it in, but I'm very lazy). I'll be calling for must-see suggestions to add to the list later in the week, but for now, a really fabulous place to go for cheap girlie eats tomorrow night would be greatly appreciated by myself and the Misses Cam and Spiller.

I'm sure we could think of somewhere ourselves, but we're busy career girls/very lazy/incredibly indecisive. Every time we plan a get-together we drive ourselves to distraction via hours of umming and ahhing - save us time and torment by telling us where to go, so to speak.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Feeling fine (in SW9) 

Sweet FA to say today because we're far too excited about the event below. See you all tonight - but if you really aren't able to make it, here's a soul-cheering song to help you get over the pain (ignore the somewhat depressing/dubious morals).

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Love The One You're With, Isley Brothers [MP3]

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Everyone must go! 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usPopped up to Brick Lane last night, via superstar DJ Jamie Robertson's salubrious Dalston (can those words be used in the same sentence?) warehouse for some Thai noodles and deep fried funk, mmmmm. T'was Kiwi night at the Big Chill bar, you see, courtesy of the good people at Spacific, with the utterly fabulous Tubbs and Mikey Ray on deck duties. I was well overdue a return visit, as it's a top-quality night - and no, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact I might have had some flyers to distribute for a certain gathering happening this Friday night in the Brixton vicinity...

What's that? Oh, alright, then, you twisted my arm - let me tell you about Southsidesoul, since you insist. It's our penultimate (that's second to last, numbnuts) gig, and it's happening tomorrow, at the Whitehorse - you know, that fantastic bar/everyone's favourite den of iniquity up on Brixton Hill, number 94, to be precise. It starts at 8pm and goes till 3am - late licensing means late licensing round our manor...

Who's playing? Well, a veritable feast of sonic youths. We've finally managed to coordinate diaries with the monstrously good NZ-via-South-London funk band the New Telepathics, featuring the breathtaking vocals of Ms Sandy Mill, and whose blend of afro-beat, soul, jazz, funk and house could quite possibly blow the roof off the Horse, if it hasn't been safely bolted down.

Then, there's our favourite SSStalwarts Jamie Robertson and Ajax, who'll be back-to-backing with dirty disco, rocking beats and smack-that-arse grooves, and last (and least) SSS's own 'can't-mix-won't-mix' Jen Ferguson, who will be digging into the crates for fat vintage funk, indie oddities and ridiculously daft SSS anthems.

But the highlight may or may not be the debut performance of the Southsidesoul All-Stars, who will be banging seven shades of shit out of everything from spoons to cowbells to a Latin American 'nutshaker' (oo-er) and a washboard tie... Plus we're very, very thrilled to introduce a live Brazilian percussion performance from Fly My Pretties/Hairy Lollies star Darren Sigley!

How about that then? Sorry, speak up a bit, I didn't quite catch that... You say it's sounds like just about the best thing in the world ever? Right you are, my son, right you are! And all for the extremely reasonable price of just £2? Yep. See you there then.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It's a kind of tragic 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWent to see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory the other night, an event much anticipated round our way, Ms G and I being enormous fans of both Johnny Depp (surely the quintessential Perfect Man?) and Tim Burton, not to mention Roald Dahl (RIP). I even broke my Harry Potter-induced 'children's films are for children only' rule.

But, well, I was a little disappointed, quite frankly. Tim Burton is the master of magical, fairy-tale films, and with Charlie, he had the opportunity to absolutely go to town. When I was a kid I was transfixed by Roald Dahl's preposterous confection concoctions - Eatable Marshmallow Pillows, Lickable Wallpaper For Nurseries, Hot Ice Creams For Cold Days, Cows That Give Chocolate Milk, Square Sweets That Look Round - and my imagination ran away with itself when it came to the factory itself.

But Burton just didn't quite meet my (admittedly high) expectations. The fantastical elements seemed to have been cut back in order to make room for Burton's own addition, the storyline about Willy Wonka's estranged father. Why? As they say in Glasgae, no need! Far too Hollywood schmaltz.

And - I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but, um - I didn't really like Johnny Depp. Basing your character on a rock star may have worked for Pirates, Mr Depp, but going down the Michael Jackson (yes, I know you deny it) meets Freddie Mercury route here was very ill-advised - you're just irritating. Much like your sanctimonious young star, who managed to suck all the gumption out of our hero Charlie, and left me wanting to give him a good hard clip round the ear.

Hurrah, then, for the Oompa-Loompas, who save the day with their well-trippy song and dance routines, and for the fantastic gimmick of giving them all the hilariously-solemn face of Deep Roy. It's like watching a feature-length Aphex Twin video - and hey, it doesn't get better than that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A many-splendoured thing 

I had a big long list of funk bombs ready to go for Tuesday Top Ten action today - it might have even been a top 20, because I had so many I couldn't decide - but my shonky free file sharing server sorted that for me by deciding to go tits up last night and ban all new uploads until it sorted itself out.

But in the interim, here's one I prepared earlier, and it's a track of such incredible beauty that it can just about count for a whole Top Ten all on its own: Sigur Ros's Glosoli, from their forthcoming album Takk, due out on 12th September, which I would say is set to be just about THE essential purchase for 2005, judging from the bits and pieces I've heard so far.

Singer Jonsi says, re Takk (courtesy of NME.com): "The lyrics are small adventures, maybe like children's stories or something. I think the songs are quite simple and naïve and they have a central character to them. There's one called Glosoli, and he wakes up and everything is dark outside and he can't see any light. He thinks that the sun is gone and somebody has taken it from the sky, so he makes a journey to look for the sun. He finds it in the end."

Glosoli was the second track played at Sigur Ros's Somerset House gig that made me weep like a little girl from the get-go - and when you listen to this, you'll understand. Hell, it even reduced my cynical old mum to tears.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Glosoli, Sigur Ros [MP3 - for sampling purposes ONLY, please, please, please go to the website and download the single on its official release on 15th August]

Monday, August 08, 2005

House of horror 

The shame of it all... I usually pride myself on having reasonably OK (if somewhat vintage) taste in music, but everyone has skeletons in their closet - and for me, these skeletons take the form of hundreds of really rubbish late 90s deep house 12"s.

It's a Kiwi thing, you see - Auckland has always loved its dreary deep house (and, from what I'm led to understand, still does - arrgh), and when I was an impressionable young wannabe scenester, eager to run with the cool school, that's what I decided to love as well. And thus I acquired it by the bucketload. Dull Paper Recordings 12"s? Check. Sleep-inducing Guidance or Glasgow Underground noodles? Yawn, right here. The odd bit of super-fromage on Smokin' Beats? Alas, I've got that too.

Yes, it's a truly woeful collection that for some reason my mother decided to ship over to me here, the whole kit and caboodle. They've gathered dust for five years now, but now I'm off, I want them out of my sight for good.

So on Saturday, suffering only a mild hangover, I decided to go through them all and cart off a couple of record bags' worth down to Berwick Street, to see if the good people at Reckless might fancy taking them off my hands. True, a little voice at the back of my mind kept insisting, "NO ONE will want to pay money for this rubbish, turn back, turn back while you still can." But I ignored it and, like a little vinyl pack-horse, trudged on relentlessly to Soho.

The gorgeous Reckless staffer with the afro sniggered when I told him what my bags contained (and the myriad excuses I proffered to hide my embarrassment), but to humour me, he kindly sifted through the pile - and said, "Well, we'll pay you £2 for this Kerri Chandler 12" - the rest we can't use. No one could."

One £2 record. Out of 50.

So I duly took the money, added it to my existing account total, spent the lot on P-Funk and Sly & The Family Stone, and went home with more than I'd started out with. And now my shoulder's out from carting heavy record bags all over London. Bloody typical.

[PS: RIP Ibrahim Ferrer. What a legend.]

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I'll miss most about London - #1 

The random factor

... Especially in Brixton - which, as much as I'm wont to diss and desert it on occasion in favour of more 'salubrious' environments, always draws me back to its all-embracing, if slightly malodorous, bosom. Everywhere you look there are 'characters', or something going on that takes you by surprise. Life in SW9 might be a bit mucky, but it's never boring.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOn exiting the Tube station, you're assaulted by a barrage of travelcard touts, indignantly demanding yours: "You finished with it, mate?" The same gypsy-looking chap with the ponytail, beard and beanie, is still there, although his coterie have different faces to those we grew to recognise after first moving to Brixton in July 2000. (The old one we called Laurie hasn't been seen since 2003, when he returned to the street after a short absence in new clothes, combed and shaved, looking almost dapper. By 7pm that evening he was dishevelled and dirty again, bleeding from a graze to his head and bawling insults at passersby. Then he disappeared. Here's hoping his lot's improved, wherever he is.)

Next to them, the wee gingery whitey with the woolly dread hat and goatee puts a flyer in your hand, chanting, "Abaaaa Shaaaaanti-I! Roots and kul-ture! Brrrix-ton Recre-ay-shun Centah!" You should really get round to going sometime.

After the first wave of flyerers and travelcard touts come the ticket touts, if there's a gig on at the Academy. "Buy or sell tickets for Nine Inch Naaaaails!" they shout at you, even if you're carrying five Tesco bags and are obviously not about to go moshing.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTurning left, you pass Vicki, the old woman who sits on the milk crate by Iceland, selling homemade crafts and playing the comb. Next to her is one of several seemingly-alternating Radio Men, who seem to be deaf as well doolally, with their stereos turned up to 11, all the better to shout over. Down from them, grooving, is the old black chap in the cap, wearing the same camo shirt he did four years ago when he made a legendary guest appearance at Southsidesoul (<--). And hanging on the corner is Patrick the Incense Man, 'immortalised' (like, cough, myself and Ms G) in the (terrible) film South West 9, and a near-constant feature of Brixton Market. Have you ever not seen him?

The dash to KFC Corner is an obstacle course for the unwary. You're asked if you want any "Skunk, weed, hashish, hash brown" or "just a pound for a cup of tea, pal" at least five times along the way, then outside KFC, the preaching starts. Sometimes it's a Chinese singing group, other times a huge black man with a tinny PA system and a whopping great Bible, which he enthusiastically bashes throughout.

The trek down to the Prince Albert in Coldharbour Lane isn't one you probably want to make at night alone, although I've done it a thousand times, being (not-so) young and foolish, and usually drunk. Shady characters and crack dealers lurk menacingly in doorways, and a large police sign calls for witnesses to a shooting the previous weekend. But you get to the pub without incident and throw open the door... to find an impromptu Alabama 3 party going on.

You charm the A3 doorman (Pixie? Tiny? You can't remember his name from the last time you did the blag) into admitting you, then you're dancing on a table with your new best friend Jimmy the Dog, and next thing you know, you're at a heaving squat party. You didn't think any squats still existed in Brixton, but here you are, watching Felix Jaxx having a shimmy next to the speakers.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThen the sun's up, so you head to Brockwell Park, via the open-all-hours offy, to lie under a tree and make the most of the morning sunshine. On the way up Brixton Hill you pass the drunk old witch who's always sitting on the corner, legs apart with no knickers on, but there's no sign of old Alfie the town crier (who was apparently shot with a crossbow in Brixton a couple of years ago) or the random dude with the snake (-->). You'd go to the Lido, but you haven't got any swimming togs. But there's a free festival being set up in the park, and you know within a few hours you're going to get treated to a killer reggae soundsystem. Which right now seems just about perfect.

[Thanks to Urban75 for the best Brixton resource on the net. Take the full photographic tour, for when you care but can't be there... x]

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Hold On To What You Got, Dennis Brown

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What a duffer 

Truth is stranger than fiction, so goeth the cliche, and these past few years, documentary has often been more entertaining than scripted screenplay - see Dig!, Dogtown & Z Boys, and the latest to add to the list, Overnight, my must-see film of the week. Typically, however, I left it to the last minute to see it, so you'll have to be quick before it disappears from cinemas.

It follows the meteoric rise to fame - and equally rapid descent back to the gutter - of aspiring screenwriter Troy Duffy, who's offered a multi-million-dollar deal with Miramax after he serves Harvey Weinstein in the West Hollywood bar he works at.

If you've read Peter Biskind's brilliant Down And Dirty Pictures, you'll be au fait with Weinstein's often less-than-savoury methods, and thus I was prepared to sympathise with yet another independent film-maker chewed up and spat out by the evil Miramax machine.

But no. From the moment Duffy's fat face appears on the screen, you're rooting for his demise - and he only gets more objectionable as the film progresses and the years go by. You couldn't make him up - this man is possibly the most loathsome character in modern-day cinema. Hell, he even makes Weinstein look good.

When his film (The Boondock Saints anyone?) fails and his band's album sells just 649 copies, well, you have to laugh. And the sense of schadenfreude gets even stronger when, with sweet irony, you realise his long-suffering colleagues who've been filming him from the start get the last laugh by totally putting the boot in via their resulting documentary (that is, Overnight), then striking the jackpot with critical acclaim and awards a'plenty for it, while a penniless Duffy goes back to his day job.

Hey, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: What A Waster, Adam Green & Carl Barat (live) [WMV]

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: Drugs, drugs, and rock'n'roll 

... For no other reason than I watched End Of The Century again on DVD on Sunday and was yet again struck by how much all junkies look alike (compare Dee Dee Ramone and David Johanssen as a point in case), and that there are a helluva lot of songs about drugs. Well, duh.

1 Under Me Sleng Teng Wayne Smith
Heralded the dawn of ragga as arguably the first fully-computer-created reggae track (on a Casio Music Box no less) back in 1984. Ground-breaking and killer.

2 Waiting For The Man David Bowie
A live cover of the seminal Velvet Underground track at the height of Bowie's glam years back in 1972. Truth be told, the Velvets' original is probably better, but I'd take Dave over cantankerous Lou any day.

3 Chinese Rocks Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers
After hearing this being rehearsed by the Ramones in '76, The Heartbreakers adopted it, added a verse and claimed it as their anthem. Thus Nick Cave was only half-right when he wrote the lyrics "And Johnny Thunders was half alive when he wrote Chinese Rocks" for There She Goes, My Beautiful World (and, considering Nick reportedly almost died after overdosing on pal Johnny's leftover brown during a shared session back in the day, you'd think he'd have known better).

4 No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song) Curtis Mayfield
One of my favourites off the Superfly soundtrack - sumptuous cascading piano and Mayfield's gorgeously mellow groove. Superb.

5 Mr Brownstone Guns N Roses
A favourite of DJ Ravi McArthur and headbanger Ms G which might get an outing at the next SSS. It'll either rock or sink like a stone. But probably rock.

6 White Horse Laidback
I've been listening to this electro classic for years (most notably down the Whitehorse, when seemingly every guest DJ imagines they'll be really witty and original by dropping it), but I never realised that a) it became a hit in the States due to support from Prince, who encouraged Warner to release a 12" single of it with When Doves Cry on the flip; and b) it's by two dudes from Denmark (!), proving the Danish do indeed have the funk. Well, two of them at least.

7 Third Flight 3rd Flight
I know absolutely nothing about this group apart from the fact this track features on the cracker Rare Funk Uncovered compilation. It's a goodie though - a frenetically-paced "rare ghetto nugget" as Tunes.co.uk calls it.

8 She's Like Heroin To Me The Gun Club
From the landmark Fire Of Love album. And Jeffrey Lee Pierce knew what he was talking about when it came to drug similes...

9 Golden Brown The Stranglers
Much like the La's There She Goes, Golden Brown managed to fool many an innocent punter into thinking it was just a sweet little ditty, when quite obviously it was about heroin. Never a frown indeed.

10 Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth The Dandy Warhols
...Which, as we learn from Dig!, garnered the response from Anton Newcombe and pals, Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth. Good comeback.

And there's (many) more: Hits From The Bong, Cypress Hill; Who's Got The Crack?, The Libertines/Moldy Peaches; Get High, Gran Am; Cocaine, Eric Clapton; Cocaine Socialism/Sorted For Es And Whizz, Pulp; Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth; Mr Coke Seller, Gregory Isaacs; White Lines, Grandmaster Flash; Out Of My Mind On Dope & Speed, Julian Cope; My Girlfriend Hates My Heroin, The Stooges; Consequences Of A Drug Addict Role, Shirley Horn...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mr Bombastic 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIs it truly a terrible thing to comment on how good-looking Shepherd's Bush bombing suspect Hussein Osman is? Or, in doing so, am I basically going to hell in a handcart and consigning myself to a twisted life of writing love letters to serial killers on death row?

You have to wonder what the attraction of 70 virgins in heaven was though - he certainly wouldn't have had any trouble securing himself a good time down my local (although I'd venture that virgins would be in somewhat short supply).

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Could Heaven Ever Be Like This?, Idris Muhammad [MP3]
[Check the drumming! Available on the third instalment of Joey Negro's most excellent Disco Spectrum series]

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