Thursday, March 31, 2005

You can't always get what you want 

But if you try sometime, you might find you get what you need.

I was alarmed to check my finances on Tuesday and discover I'm well over my overdraft limit with still two weeks until payday. Oops. How did that happen? (Too much red wine, pointless eBaying and spending on gig tickets methinks, with Glasto still to come on Sunday, eek.) This means all bets are off, and I have been confined to barracks for the duration. It's no bad thing really - sort of an enforced detox, which has to be a plus. What God takes away with one hand, he gives with the other or something.

Thank goodness, then, for good telly. Tuesday night was a bonanza of bounty from the good deities at Sky, kicking off with two unseen Simpsons episodes, the Jon Voight Seinfeld episode I have been waiting 11 years to see again, followed by the very excellent Dogtown & Z Boys and capped off with The Rise & Rise Of Mötley Crüe. Yeeeaah! (I seem to have developed a rather embarrassing late-life crush on Nikki Sixx. Unleash that inner bogan...)

Wednesday night's bevy of cooking shows just made me hungry for food I can't afford, so I chucked an old Woody Allen in the Playstation-cum-DVD player in an experiment to see whether in fact I had outgrown his particular brand of nuttiness I'd been a fan of for so long, as I suspected after being left distinctly cold by Melinda & Melinda at the weekend. (BTW, Covent Garden Hotel = best date bar ever. Discreetly dark corners and superbly good wine - the Duckbill and D'Arenberg shirazes are to die for, dahhlings.)

OK, so I chose one of his lesser efforts, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask), but I still believe the weekend's diagnosis was correct. You could say I don't get wood from Allen any more. Shame.

And lastly, Charlene Ramsay suggests I get some server space and make this an MP3 blog. Sounds good to me. Now how the hell do I do it?

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: There's Only So Much Oil In The Ground, Tower Of Power

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: drums a go-go 

S'all about the beat this week. I may not have got around to purchasing my much-desired cowbell yet, but in my mind I'm getting it on and banging a gong to all of the fabulously percussive tracks below.

1 Optimo Liquid Liquid

All hail the mighty cowbell. Yeah, I know I say this about every track ever made, but this may just be my Favourite Track Of All-Time™. Really. You could do worse than get over to Soul Jazz Records and pick up a copy of their excellent New York Noise compilation, or track down the old Mo Wax collection I bought the Frenchman last year.

2 Funky Drummer James Brown
Nuff said.

3 Do What You Wanna Do T Connection
OK, so maybe this is my Favourite Track Of All-Time™. Bona fide stonking funk and a true dancefloor classic, featuring one of the finest percussive breakdowns ever laid on to acetate. I've can't count the number of times I've lost my soul to this.

4 Go Bang Dinosaur L
Beloved of Loft and Levan, 7 1/2 minutes of syncopated cymbals and maracas madness.

5 Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick Ian Dury & The Blockheads
This one gets in more on name than actual featured use of percussion, but The Blockheads were part of that whole post-punk, disco-not-disco new wave scene, a scene that made much of jangly, jarry percussive elements, so Hit Me... qualifies by default. And besides, it's a killer track. (BTW check out this bizarre little nugget from the Beeb's H2G2 site - an Ian Dury magical mystery tour...)

6 Apache The Incredible Bongo Band
Possibly the phattest break in history. Everybody knows this tune and everybody dances their ass off to it. Block party in a bottle.

7 Fools Gold Stone Roses
Funky drummer part 2, updated for the 90s for the baggy trouser brigade.

8 Dance To The Drummer's Beat Herman Kelly
More much-sampled super-funky B-boy breaks delectability.

9 Let The Beat Hit 'Em Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
This vies with Tom Brown's Funkin' For Jamaica and Chic's Sao Paulo as my top end-of-night track. Alas I'm not alone in this view - so many people have thrashed it down at the Whitehorse over the years that a bar manager once thought about banning it (along with Laidback's White Horse, a favourite of unoriginal 'punster' DJs).

10 50 Breaks Twitch
Unless you've come across this track on file-sharing networks, you probably won't have heard it, as I'm pretty sure it's never been released. Suffice it to say, it does what it says on the tin - Twitch of Optimo fame has spliced together 50 famous and not-so-famous breaks to create a 10-minute-long monster of a track with no verse, no chorus, no bridge - nothing but breaks. And it goes down a treat. (If anyone wants to have a go at playing our new favourite game, the 'Name All 50 Breaks' competition, and wants a copy of said track, email me and I'll donate a couple of quid to the next Optimo Fundimo charity night on your behalf, and hopefully Twitch won't mind me touting his work all about the net.)

Honourable mentions: Delirium Francine McGee; Knock On Wood Amie Stewart; Dance And Shake Your Tambourine Universal Robot Band; The Beat Goes On Buddy Lewis; The Beat Goes On Ripple; Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess Yello Let's Go Swimming Arthur Russell; Beat Surrender The Jam (weirdly perfect workout tune); Black And White Town Doves; Drums A Go-Go Hollywood Persuaders; Jazz Carnival Asymuth; Bang A Gong T Rex; Clapping Song Shirley Ellis...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Twisting my melon pt 2 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy plan to get the bikini out and sunbathe all afternoon on the roof was scuppered after a chilly wind picked up, so I came in here to work on The Book, but as usual, procrastination kicked in, and then I recalled I'd never got around finishing the whole Mondays business, which is a welcome distraction and helps me to conveniently ignore the fact I'm seriously blocked as far as The Book is concerned...

But yes, the Happy Mondays. Where were we? (At the front, on the right, as usual actually.) I should state I've never been a huge fan - I've never hated them, but I've never really been convinced they were anything more than a bunch of fairly mediocre musicians and a tone-deaf singer who happened to catch the E wave at the right time and contribute a few (admittedly brilliant) era-defining anthems.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHowever, yet again I am forced to eat my words and admit they were superb. The fat boy (-->) really can sing (even though he looks more like a Chelsea Headhunter than a pop star these days - those baggy pants sure ain't baggy no more).

First up, was a stirling rendition of Step On, with the amazing Angie Brown replacing Rowetta on vocals. The tweed-coated secretary (take your jacket off dear, it's roasting) in front of us chose this moment to get it on with (we later learned, eavesdropping on her conversation with her girlfriends as we left the gig) a total stranger, a vile Australian City boy, who promptly turned his back on the stage and started dry-humping her against the railing. Nice one, Morrison.

Actually I've set myself a dangerous precedent here, naming the opening track (and even that I'm not sure about), because I can't for the life of me remember what else they played, given that the only note I tapped into my phone was what was printed on Bez's T-shirt: "Drop Acid, Not Bombs". Which makes great comedy but hardly a good gig review. All the favourites were there, anyway - Hallelujah, Loose Fit, Wrote For Luck, etc - and for the encore, some amazing slow vocal track I didn't recognise, making the most of guest vocalists Angie and Ron Carroll, and a thrilling rendition of 24-Hour Party People as - naturally - the final track.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy admiration for Bez (<--) has been previously recorded on these pages, but seeing him in action, in the flesh, has made me realised exactly why he is such a superstar. I don't think I've ever laughed so much at a music event (apart from possibly the time Chuck Pettifogspot and I went to see The Gourds at the Borderline and drunkenly harassed country-music-lovin' yokels while yelling, "Sing Gin & Juice! Gin & Juice!" at the band for two hours). Sadly my camera takes appalling photos at gigs (it's not just my shabby photography skills), so I'm unable to do him justice, although the picture to the left viewed in full does manage to convey a little of his spangly-eyed stare. Luckily I've got half an hour of video footage to content myself with - and the enticing yet frightening prospect of partying with him next Friday, at Paul and Pretty Nick's Pearl Necklace night at the Redstar.

Anyway, there's 15 minutes of book-writing time procrastinated away. Next up: recataloguing the iTunes. God, I'm hopeless.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Step On, Happy Mondays

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Twisting my melon pt 1 

As a birthday treat for young (cough) Reilly, we piled down to the Brixton Academy to fulfil a lifelong ambition - for Reilly, anyway - and see the Happy Mondays before Shaun William Ryder gets too fat to stand, a day that is surely not too far off.

Typically, we were running late, so by the time we arrived, we'd missed the Clone Roses, which, though the very idea of tribute bands is somewhat sacrilegious, might have been a bit of a laugh. We did manage to catch the last 10 minutes of Mani Stone Roses' set, however, walking into the glorious cesspit of the Academy stalls just as he dropped Voodoo Ray, the cue for a legion of Liam Gallagher lookalikes to slam their hands in the air and throw some shapes.

Next, it was time for The Farm, introduced by some Mancunian "cheeky chappy" who will no doubt turn out to be a genuine Madchester legend, but who we just thought was a dobber, leading the crowd in singalonga-football chant style idiocy. Anyway, whatever...

I once owned a Farm album, as a wannabe half-Brit stuck in middle-class small-town New Zealand, yearning to be part of whatever it was going on over UK-way. However, I didn't really like it and its fate was sealed when I left the cassette (ooh, old skool) on the dashboard of my 1966 Hillman Imp on a very hot summer's day, where it promptly warped and was rendered unplayable, thus was consigned to the dustbin of history.

I was surprised to discover how many of the words I remembered last night, but not surprised in the slightest to realise, 15 years on, they still suck. Undermined absolutely by the fact their drummer couldn't keep the beat - something you would have thought would be a prerequisite when recruiting for the position - it was a cringeworthy experience for our party, evoking winces all round. I can't lie, though - when All Together Now kicked in, I did get goosebumps similar to those experienced when I saw New Order at Finsbury Park in 2002 and 20,000 people belted out World In Motion. Who would known I was such a sucker for football songs, eh?

Anyway, mercifully it was soon over, and the godlike genius who is Arthur Baker jumped on the decks to save the day with I Wanna Be Your Dog, although his attempts to mix out of it made the Farm drummer look good... He's forgiven of course, though, because he's godlike genius Arthur Baker.

A superb wee set of classics followed, highlights of which included Josh Wink's Higher State Of Consciousness, which had me and Ms G dancing like E'd-up fools (even though I'm 100% chem-free these days), and what could have been a nifty wee trick involving Primal Scream's Get Your Rocks Off spliced with the Stones' Satisfaction, if only Mr Baker had managed to pull it off.

Anyway, that's part 1. Part 2 - How I Survived A Happy Mondays Concert On Water Alone - will follow when I don't have to run out the door and enjoy Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2005

That joke isn't funny any more 

Remind me again why we thought a death metal biker bar specialising in heavily garlic-laced food and heavily-vodka-laced shots would be a hilarious jape?

We hadn't been in Garlic & Shots for more than 20 minutes before the venerable Ms G's bag had been swiped from under her nose while she talked to a waitress, and emptied of all its valuables in the ladies' loos. (For valuables, read brand new hi-spec digital camera, brand new phone and a big wad of cash, enough to make a grown woman cry - which she did, poor lamb.)

Thus began an uneasy night of watching our possessions like hawks and suspiciously eyeing up anyone who hove into view - this excluded the waiting staff who seemed to be doing their best to avoid us and/or forget our orders. Luckily, the occasion and scintillating company made it all worthwhile.

On talking to other customers later on, it transpired that two other people had exactly the same thing happen to them - bags swiped from close range as they ordered drinks. Hmmm.

See, if I wanted to go out and return minus all my valuables, I could do that perfectly well on my own with the help of a few snifters of sherry. I wouldn't need to go to a decidedly smelly bar and spend a fortune on decidedly third-rate food.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I will return to Garlic & Shots over my dead body - although judging by the corpse-like quality of some of the clientele, it would appear this vow has been uttered before.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Eye eye, cap'n 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHappy birthday to this young (cough) man (<--). We're off to death metal goth bar Garlic & Shots tonight to celebrate, and enjoy, er, lots of garlic and shots. And death metal. Yikes. It looks certain to be a blinder.

>INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Blinded By The Light, Manfred Mann ("revved up like a douche"? What?!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So brilliant 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFeeling uninspired and under the weather, so I'm clearing out my inbox with a collection of other people's stuff. As Paul Whitehouse would say, "Brilliant!"

(<--) Brilliant Escher-in-Lego pic - cheers Reilly.

Brilliant kids' TV show, Pancake Mountain (like, insanely brilliant) - cheers again, Reilly.

Brilliant finger-mixing - cheers Ms Cam.

Brilliant reasons to get a high-definition telly - cheers Eli B.

Brilliant Kompakt kitten mixing - cheers again Eli B.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant John Peel tribute courtesy of the Optimo boys - cheers Welshman.


> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Brilliant Mistake, Elvis Costello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: tracks to die(t) for 

I'm thinking of patenting my latest idea - musical Bluetooth. It would work like ordinary Bluetooth, unless you're the owner of my shitty Sony T610, which doesn't seem to work at all, but then you'd be me and... Er, I digress. Where was I? Ah right. So it would work like ordinary Bluetooth, but instead of transmitting the phone numbers of those in range, this gadget - perhaps a MP3-playing mobile phone or iPod - would identify who was listening to what music, and allow you to tune in, a kind of file-sharing-meets-mini-radio-station set-up. Maybe they've already done it but as I can't get my Bluetooth to work, I wouldn't know.

The great advantage is it would give you another means by which to shallowly size up attractive members of the opposite sex on public transport, as discussed before on these pages. They look good, they're reading an acceptable book, they've got great shoes - now you can tell if they're a Dido-listening tasteless idiot or a bona fide funk soul brother.

Anyway, here's this week's top 10, all about food. I was obviously feeling a little peckish when I compiled it.

1 Meat Is Murder The Smiths
I took this as gospel at age 14 and promptly bought the T-shirt, etched it onto my ring binder and argued semantics with pedants who claimed the term 'murder' specifically referred to humans killing humans, not animals, and thus Morrissey was not just a miserable arsehole, but a mangler of linguistics, twisting the laws of English to suit his own purposes. Regardless, I was vegetarian until the end of my first year at university, when I suddenly really fancied some beef Wellington.

2 Los Conquistadores Chocolates Johnny Hammond
Another of the Smacked Face perennial Favourite Tracks Of All Time™. Much sampled, the keyboard breakdown never fails to get me cutting a rug, no matter where I happen to be at the time, which - having spotted someone dancing to themselves while waiting for the Jubilee Line the other day - I've just realised makes me look an utter fool. As per.

3 Pass The Dutchie Musical Youth
There was some debate in my household when I was a young thing as to whether this referred to reefer or a cooking pot. (Though if you were in my flat in the late 90s, the two things weren't mutually exclusive, as the unfortunate King Street Hash Cake Incident of 1998 proved...) Either way, it still gets in because it's such a classic track, even if it didn't spell lifelong good fortune for the band. I was stoked to find a replacement copy for my old scratched 7" for 50p at a Manchester Oxfam last year - score.

4 Sandwiches Detroit Grand Pubahs
A first-time-funny, second-time-silly, third-time-a-spanking track that still managed to become the anthem of Bellefield Mansions in 2001, thanks to DJ Chintz thrashing it 24-7 . Yeah cheers, ya little rascal.

5 Green Onions Booker T & The MGs
(See also Jelly Bread, Melting Pot, etc) I bloody well love Booker T & The MGs, thanks mostly to my mum, who also loved Booker T & The MGs, but also to that fab scene in American Graffiti where all the cars head out at dawn to watch the drag race. Mmmm. I love that film.

6 Banquet Bloc Party
The super first single from the NME darlings. Does anyone not own this album yet?

7 Sliced Tomatoes, Just Brothers
Northern Soul monster shamelessly sampled by Fatboy Slim for The Rockafeller Skank.

8 Hungry Heart Bruce Springsteen
Streuth - ain't no one belts out a blue-collar ballad like the Boss. I'd been a card-carrying member of the Anti-Springsteen League until Chuck Pettifogspot turned me on to his charms way back in '95. And admit it - who hasn't joined in on a drunken chorus of "whoa-ohh-ohhh-ohhhhh" at least once in their lives?

9 Strange Fruit Billie Holliday/Nina Simone
I know it's a tenuous link, but this track (about black lynchings, for those not familiar) is so powerful it had to get a mention.

10 Barbecutie Sparks
You have Mael... I consider Kimono My House the best concept album ever recorded, and I've already whinged enough about missing them at the Meltdown festival last year. After Beat The Clock and Tryouts For The Human Race, this track comes in third in my list of top Sparks ditties.

Honourable mentions: Fish, Shrimp Mr Scruff; Relaxing With Cherry Kid Loco; Chocolate City Parliament; Eat To The Beat Blondie; Pass The Peas, Rice 'N' Ribs, Breaking Bread Fred Wesley & The JBs; Chocolate Salty Balls Chef From Southpark; She Don't Use Jelly The Flaming Lips; Chicken 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster; Shopping For Blood Franz Ferdinand; Meatloaf, Meat Katie, Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Food, Lemon Jelly, DJ Format and Abdominal etc...

Dishonourable mention: Breakfast At Tiffany's Deep Blue Something - the worst track ever written bar none .

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chimp daddy 

Today I received an email from Pablo Escobar (I thought he was dead but obviously not). I assumed he'd perhaps heard about my ill-timed but completely innocent nosebleed on the Shuffle dancefloor at 3am on Saturday night/Sunday morning and got the wrong end of the stick.

But he wasn't trying to sell me cocaine, just porn, "herbal" diet pills and stop-smoking patches. And I don't need any of those - I had to practically force myself to smoke a couple of cigarettes (why I bothered I don't know) while getting very drunk with Nick Speakers and the rest of the Zapatistas after their fab gig at the Pleasure Unit on Friday, which left me so disgusted that on Saturday I didn't feel even remotely tempted to touch the evil weed.

If, as Allen Carr says, smoking is a monkey on one's back, then I am happy to say it looks like this ape has escaped. Hurrah.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Blood On The Dancefloor, Michael Jackson

Friday, March 18, 2005

We gonna rock down to 

My Pret kleptomania has scaled new heights. Not content with the one spoon and two sugars required for my morning coffee, today I have emptied my pockets to discover no less than six plastic spoons, five brown sugars, three sachets of sweetener and a fork.

I don't know why I have this compulsion to make a "mockery of the self-service policy" (© Apu). I just figure if it's free, then they want you to have it, so stock up. (This is why my friends will no longer accompany me to Borough Market while I gorge myself in an embarrassing manner on all the samples, and why I'm currently tucking into another Sainsbury's All-Butter Croissant under the guise of taste-testing for work - free food contains no calories, you know.)

Anyway, what a bloody lovely day. If you St Paddied it last night, you'll be hating this sunshine and the 20-degree temperatures, but for the rest of us who forgot winter does eventually come to an end, it's a fooking godsend.

Brixton comes alive in summer. True, the heat does make Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road smell even worse than usual, but the Caribbean community vibe has leached into the structures of SW9 and on a sunny day, there's a true carnival spirit in the air. As well as an awful lot of weed - I walked through a huge cloud of it this morning while strutting down the high street at the same time as Rockers Hi-Fi kicked in on the iPod, and I can't say I didn't take a deep breath in. Perfect.

Oh, and one last thing - HOW wack is Natasha Bedingfield? Yeah, yeah, I know this is stating the bleeding obvious, but new evidence comes to light today, courtesy of Neil Sean's utterly terrible "gossip" column in the Metro, and the Indie's Arts & Books Review section. Firstly, the big-toothed god-botherer reveals she thinks of Celine Dion as " a personal icon"; secondly, she states she's "just discovered Queen". Shame this has happened a mere 13 YEARS after the lead singer died. Gouge this girl's eyes out with a rusty Goth crucifix pendant from Camden Market. Now.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Transmission Central, Rockers Hi-Fi

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Rubber funk 

The TV was the gateway to much amusement chez Smacked Face last night, during a rare evening in front of the goggle box.

Firstly (prior to feeding our newfound addiction to Make Me A Supermodel - groan), there was the certified (certifiable?) madness of James Brown, via a doco on the Biography channel. The Godfather of Soul cut a rather tragic figure as he bloatedly proclaimed his undeniable genius through gritted teeth (somewhat bizarrely subtitled at his own request), but Afrika Bambaataa's psychedelic dollar-sign glasses provided a snarf or two. The real hilarity, however, came later, when I remembered an old Peaches set that started with a sample of a crazy interview with Mr Brown clearly on drugs. A quick Google and bingo. Just say no, kids.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNext, the news that the Marmite 'blob' advertisement has been banned from children's TV hours after frightening the little ones witless sparked a reminiscence of the seemingly innocuous things that made us react inappropriately as youngsters. I remember, at age three, bawling my eyes out everytime a very dull commercial for Dunlop tyres came on, and Ms G and I both recall the (perhaps understandable) terror inspired by the "Que sera sera" seatbelt advert.

But then Ms G brought up the infamous New Zealand rubella ad - and we dissolved into a fit of uncontrollable cackling, sounding for all the world like a pair of syphillitic old whores. (NB: we are not syphillitic old whores.)

DC summed it up best in an entry that seems to have dropped off the excellent Playground Law website, but I'm sure he won't mind me posting it here. (Although I should point out that he seems to still be labouring under the impression - as we all were as children - that the handicapped child featured actually had rubella, when in fact I believe the child was supposed to be the product of a mother who'd contracted rubella during pregnancy. But whatever.)

Based on a Department of Health advert in New Zealand, where a mentally handicapped child sits on a swing, rubbing his eye and suffering from rubella. Thereby, any evidence of one element (stupidity, rubbing eye, having rubella) would be met with the other two. For instance, if someone gets a basic question wrong (what is one times one?), you rub your eye and shout, "Rubella!" at them.

Conversely, if someone rubs their eye with their forefinger, it is a sign that they are stupid, and have rubella. The last option, of someone having rubella, was never checked out, as no one in the history of the world has ever actually had rubella.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Living In America, James Brown

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Smoke lingers round your fingers 

Matty J emailed this morning to enquire how my no-smoking-now-I'm-30 resolution was going, expecting - the pessimist that he is - a confession of weakness and remorse. But no.

I'm proud to say it's now been 17 days since I last smoked, bar two puffs on one of Ms Mursal's Bensons at the Brixton Comedy Club a couple of weekends ago. (Speaking of which, it's Daniel Kitson's last night as compere this Sunday, don't miss it.) Apart from the determination to show some willpower for once, I had the ultimate deterrent, sadly, courtesy of my chain-smoking aunt who died earlier this month, absolutely riddled with cancer.

So far, benefits witnessed include a noticeable improvement in what cosmetic companies would term the "radiance factor" of my skin (at least 7% better than ghastly L'Oréal spokesmodel Andie McDowell could ever promise) and a slight financial profit, which has been immediately spent on tickets to smoke-filled gigs. Um...

I've never been a huge smoker as a general rule - unless I'm on a bender, during which the normal rules and regulations do not apply. I find it incredibly hard to resist the urge to have a cigarette in my right hand when there's alcohol in my left, to which end I've borrowed Allen Carr's Easy Way from Quentishtown to see if I really can rid myself of the cravings for life.

Four chapters in and I can't say I'm noticing a difference, although to be fair I only started reading it on the Tube this morning and haven't encountered any alcohol as yet (never before lunch, darlings!). I did find myself shooting some pitying looks at the nicotine slaves sparking up as soon as they stepped outside Canary Wharf station this morning, but then I always do, being as I've always considered smoking in the morning the devil's pastime and smoking on the street to be horribly "common" (unless I've been up all night, in which case looking like Fag-Ash Lil is the very least of my worries).

Anyway, I have faith Mr Carr will deliver, and will keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, I'll be busy polishing my halo while secretly planning how best to snatch that cigarette out of your hand and run behind a bush.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: London, The Smiths

RIP the Female Preacher 

Seemingly for no other reason apart from her work is pure genius, I have been absolutely thrashing Lyn Collins this past fortnight - and now I learn via Dub Dot Dash she's passed away. Such a tragedy! She played the Jazz Cafe a few weeks ago (with Martha High, who was with when she died on Sunday), but I found out about it far too late to go - a mistake that can never be remedied now, alas.

In respect to the great woman, I suggest you buy this record and crank it up to 11 to salute the high priestess of funk. Rock Me Again & Again & Again remains one of me and Jamie Robertson's Favourite Tracks Of All-Time™, usually inspiring a display of some of the wackest whitey attempts at funk-gyrating known to man. From me, anyway. I can't speak for Jamie...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: looooong songs 

The tracks that give you time to make a cup of tea/grab a sandwich/step outside for a fag/get a blow job from a groupie under the decks (delete as applicable). There were soooo many contenders for this category - even now I have a feeling I'll sneak back in and change my original draft as I'm reminded of more worthy choices. But these will do for now. It's late, after all.

1 Donna Summer I Feel Love
Which to pick from the mistress of extended disco remixes? Macarthur Park's a personal favourite, given my predilection for baking cakes (for a long time), leaving them out in the rain and promptly losing the recipe, and obviously the 17-minute orgasmic splendour of Love To Love You Baby changed the face of music forever. But I Feel Love's the industry-standard classic, so in it goes.

2 Television Marquee Moon
Ten whole minutes of timeless classic, with a structure that's just like sex. In my opinion. Actually, I can't remember what sex is like.

3 Kraftwerk Autobahn
A record 22 minutes long, it's every tedious car journey you've ever had made gorgeous - and so very German. Ach, those crazy japesters!

4 Loleatta Holloway Hit And Run
Summed up after 11 minutes of sublimely understated driving funk by one of the band members, "OK, now let's do the album version", to much hilarity. Phew. My all-time favourite chuck-it-on-run-to-the-bar-and-get-the-pints-in track.

5 Led Zeppelin Kashmir
One for Ms G to get her air guitar out and have a bit of a headbang to. Eight minutes 32 seconds worth of head banging, to be precise.

6 Inner Life Make It Last Forever
And at 13 minutes they pretty much did. Pure sex. Really.

7 Steve Miller Macho City
See last week's entry.

8 Sugarhill Gang Rappers Delight
[But not DJs' delight, as Simon so astutely points out in the comments box...] I never knew this track was 14 minutes long. Now I do.

9 War City Country City
A nod to Mancuso with this Loft classic, purportedly illustrating through chilled-out funk a day in the (surprisingly chilled-out) ghetto. Superb.

10 Dan Hartman Vertigo/Relight My Fire
Because it wouldn't be a Smacked Face best-of without at least one disco screamer. And they don't come more disco or more screamer than this. It's such a killer track that even the Take That/Lulu version is listenable. Just.

Honourable mentions:
Loose Joints Is It All Over My Face (original version); Martin Circus Disco Circus; The Doors The End; Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells; The Velvet Underground Sister Ray... ???

[Oh my lord, I've just looked over my selection to realise not one of the above was produced later than 1982.You'd think I was pushing 50 years old rather than a mere 30 - 'In my days, it were all fields' etc. I'm living in a past I was too young to remember - tragic...]

Friday, March 11, 2005

Panty shuffle 

"240 songs, a million different ways," promises the iPod Shuffle.

My first thought on reading the ad, as I sat smugly on the bus with my 20GB, second-generation iPod (thanks again Mr Hepworth), was "What kind of Dido-liking numbnut has only 240 favourite songs?"

However, I, of course, was the numbnut, as I then thought about it and realised the Shuffle obviously selects a random 240 songs from your entire iTunes collection. Duh.

OK, so that's all well and good - or is it? As a general rule, I listen to my iPod in shuffle mode. I like the surprise element - needing, as I do, every extra bit of excitement to enliven my dreary days. But even with my 2,000+ tracklist, I find the same songs crop up over and over again - a flaw in the iPod random-play algorithm perchance? And I can easily flick through 300 songs on the journey to work before finding the perfect track that completely captures my perverse tastes and mood of the moment. Imagine if I was restricted to just 240 songs.

"Just plug iPod shuffle into your computer’s USB port, let iTunes Autofill it with up to 240 songs and get a new experience with every connection. The trail you run every day looks different with an iPod shuffle. Daily gridlock feels less mundane when you don’t know what song will play next. iPod shuffle adds musical spontaneity to your life. Lose control. Love it."

Ooh you wild and crazy things, you. And all for just £99. For fuck's sake, why not just spend an extra hundred quid and get an iPod proper?

BTW, while on the music tip, are these lines from the Steve Miller Band's most excellent Abracadabra (which has been taking a thrashing on the iPod this week for no particular reason) the most bogan lyrics ever?

"I feel the magic in your caress
I feel magic when I touch your dress
Silk and satin, leather and lace
Black panties with an angel’s face..."

Panties, lace, leather.... ew. Ew, ew, ew.

And speaking of frightening 80s images (does everyone immediately think Stevie Nicks when they read the lyrics above - with or without arse-blowing coke assistant, of course), check out Giorgio Moroder's fabulously OTT, better-than-DeLorean megacar. Patrick Bateman would be proud.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Clap, clap 

How I howled last night as I discovered budget shopping institution Matalan has appropriated Shirley Ellis's classic Clapping Song as its ad jingle. This leads me to wonder whether people were secretly pointing and laughing at me at my birthday party, whispering, "Haha, that legs-akimbo fool behind the decks has just dropped the Matalan song. Loser!"

It wouldn't be the first time I've been caught out in such a manner. I remember at an early Southsidesoul, proudly sporting my George FM T-shirt*, only to be ruthlessly mocked by a bunch of local lads for buying my clothes at Asda.

I say fuck 'em. Our fashion eds swear by the joys of our pikey retail cousins - they reckon New Look, Matalan and MK One all do brilliant lines in cheap knock-offs, and unlike Topshop or H&M, the "cool" kids (considering such stores beneath their patronage) won't be able to pick where you got your groovy threads. Suck on that, shop snobs.

* Which I've just realised I must have lost over the years. If anyone wants to send me a new one, feel free...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Vegan's run 

An afternoon off work to hang with Smacked Face the Younger, who'd just flown in from the homeland, was well spent as we eschewed the familiar north (Brixton) in favour of ambling aimlessly about the not-at-all-familiar south (Streatham High Street), and were handsomely rewarded for our efforts with the discovery of several local gems.

Why Streatham rocks #2*:

Mosaic - a smokey Algerian cafe just like you'd encounter in the Southern Mediterranean, and very possibly just like a cafe in Algeria (although the way things are it's very unlikely any of us will ever know that for sure). The sis had a slice of custardy cheesecake and a quality latte; I had a strawberry tart and a cuppa (I'd actually wanted mint tea, but the chap misheard and gave me PG Tips). Groups of men huddled together and chain-smoked, several making shifty journeys up and down the stairs at the back, giving it all a deliciously sinister air. We were the only girls in the place, which made us wonder if one of the Algerian notices in the window forbade the fairer sex. But we got great service, and as we went to leave, the entire clientele stood up to see us out, the blonde sibling getting far more than her fair share of sly winks.

• The Polish Deli - where milk is "mleko" and everything has at least three extra Zs. Their pumpernickel looks superb though.

Nature's Way health food store - where I was much tempted by a vege samosa. I've yet to discover if they're as good as Mr Patel's on Stoke Newington Church Street - a mission for the weekend, methinks...

• ... Because at the weekend I will be brunching at our most exciting discovery - Whole Meal, the organic vegan and vegetarian cafe on Shrubbery Road. Fuck me, it looks sublime. One question though - when will Londoners learn how to do cafes properly? Rule no. 1: dimmed lighting, not 200w floods. Rule no. 2: get a coffee machine and learn how to use it. Filter coffee and rap espressos will not do. Coffee is god; worship it accordingly and you shall be rewarded with a place at His table in caffeine heaven.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Guns Of Brixton, The Clash

* Well, kinda rocks - more than you'd expect, anyway. And anyway, it's all in the name of research.

PS: This is the only reason I'll ever mention Comic Relief on these pages, it's for a good cause, yadda yadda - and this way you don't have to encounter any pesky celebs...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday 

When I was but a slip of a girl, I used to torture my seven-year-old sister by making her sit on what I called the "Music Appreciation Rug" (in truth, the bit of off-cut carpet that resided in the middle of my room) while I played my favourite tunes du jour at her until she finally managed to unlock the door and escape. (The memory still makes her shudder today.)

Then, when I was but a girl who needed a slap, I got the adult, aural equivalent of a "Music Appreciation Rug" - a radio show - and inflicted my musical tastes on a wider (albeit not captive) audience.

And it's one of the few things I've missed most about New Zealand life. Every week I read Simon Grigg's George FM playlist and sigh, remembering the good old days. (Secretly, what with the NZ move a mere six months away, I've already started nurturing the notion of my own show again. Well, I say "nurturing" - obviously I really mean "selecting a name and drafting up no less than six pages of ideas"...)

Anyway, for now, the closest I'm going to get to imposing my choice cuts on people is via this blog - which is why Tuesdays will now be henceforth known round these parts as "Top Ten Tuesdays", where I get to bore you talking about music. (You can talk about it too if you like - the comments box is your oyster.) The door's not locked so you're free to leave at any time - but go on, indulge me.

So. Today's Top Ten (in no particular order) is mostly of a vintage funk 'n' soul bent - well, there's a surprise.

1 Commodores Machine Gun (Motown, 1974)
Hey hey, it's just like Ready To Roll all over again.

2 Steve Miller Band Abracadabra (Capitol, 1982)
We possess a video of a well-known South London producer dancing like a revved-up gimp to this at a recent back-to-ours (all bribes accepted). Killer.

3 Steve Miller Band Macho City (Capitol, 1981)
It's a Miller double whammy -16 minutes of pure Loft-loved class that wipes the floor with The Joker (perfect for dropping on air when you need to duck out for a fag or a coffee).

4 The Flirtations Nothing But A Heartache (Deram, 1968)
I've just realised I got turned on to this Northern Soul monster via a KFC ad. Shamola! (Though I prefer to think it was thanks to Norman Jay...)

5 Black Ivory Surrender (Today, 1972)
From the dudes that did the classic Mainline, wicked Patrick Adams-produced disco-funk from before the term had even really been coined.

6 Liquid Liquid Optimo (99, 1981)
Never strays far from the record bag, but today I learned it's also a great track to hammer the treadmill to. And remembered I still haven't purchased my cowbell...

7 Eddie Kendricks Girl You Need A Change Of Mind (Tamla Motown, 1972)
One of my perennial Favourite Tracks Of All Time™.

8 Bloc Party So Here We Are (Moshi Moshi, 2005)
Not funk, soul or vintage, just lush (as is lead singer Kele).

9 Beach Boys Darlin' (Capitol, 1968)
Cheers to DC for the heads-up on this smiley happy stormer.

10 Chic Open Up (Atlantic, 1980)
Superb jazzy instrumental from Mssrs Rodgers and Edwards, a toss-up between this and fave end-of-nighter Sao Paulo.

Right, the lesson ends. Close the door on your way out... ;)

[EDIT: On the way to work, I thought, hang on, this Top Ten business should have some sort of theme for interest’s sake, rather than just chucking together a few songs with no rhyme nor reason apart from whatever I happened to have been thrashing at the time. So I pondered and thought maybe I could adapt it to a Double-L theme, and flicked through my iPod - Steve Miller, The Killers, The Thrills, Thriller, Billie Jean, the Rolling Stones, Yello, Sugarhill Gang, Williams & Watson, Willie Hutch, Shirley Ellis, The Kills, Hall & Oates, Bill Withers, Patrinell Staten... It all got horribly out of hand, so fuck it. More method in my madness next week.]

Monday, March 07, 2005

We have a new winner 

I didn't think anything could beat trimming your fingernails on the Tube for revolting public transport activities, but whaddaya know? London always surprises me, and if you're going to throw down the gaultlet, then you gotta expect some fool to pick it up and run with it.

So congratulations to the woman on the Victoria Line this morning for PLUCKING HER MOUSTACHE in full public view. Maximum shame! [strokes chin in internationally-recognised gesture of shame]

BTW slap-up review of The Life Aquatic here, if you can be arsed... And Ms G forwards this wicked link - spot yer pissed-up mates at 4am.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Search & Destroy, The Stooges

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Smacked Face in non-boozy weekend shocker! 

... And - as Sylvester might say - it feels mighty real.

Making the most of it, I hauled my non-hungover arse to Trafalgar Square this afternoon, with the vain hope of perhaps getting the last remaining ticket to the Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery. Unsurprisingly, however, it was sold out, so I booked for a few weeks ahead and braved the tourist hordes to content myself with a few hours aimlessly roaming the free galleries.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAs said before, much art leaves me cold - I've never experienced that tingle up the spine you get from good music or an amazing piece of cinema - but every time I go to the Nat Gallery, I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it. Though I suspect much of it is sheer awe - I can't even draw a stick figure without fucking it up, so am always dumbstruck by the creations of the grand masters. For example, the silver cloak on Savoldo's Mary Magdalene (<--). How the hell does someone create that with a few splodges of paint?

And being so gargantuan, each visit to the NG always throws up new favourites. Today's included Reni's Susannah And The Elders, a 17th-century painting where the 'beauty' of the piece actually is a beauty, rather than a bug-eyed balding Henry VIII lookalike. Ditto for Salvator Rosa's Self Portrait - either he really was a bit of a spunk or he's been a bit flattering with the oils. Either way, it's a fantastic painting, made even more fantastic by the inscription, which translates from the Latin as, "Be quiet, unless your speech be better than silence." Quite.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMore new faves include Preti's The Marriage At Cana, a gorgeously shadowed rendition of Christ's most pointless miracle (water into wine? Hardly a life or death situation, is it? Jesus was just showing off); Joseph Wright of Derby's An Experiment On A Bird in the Air Pump (-->), where you can quite clearly see Peter Stringfellow torturing the poor cockatoo; and Rousseau's delightfully-named Tiger In A Tropical Storm (Surprised!) - I suspect the parentheses were added after the artist realised he'd fucked up poor Tigger's eyes...

And it's always nice to remind yourself why Van Gogh's Sunflowers has such legendary status, if - like me - your only experience prior to coming to London had been the drab, washed-out print in your 6th-form English classroom. Luminous is not the word.

The gallery excursion was brought to an abrupt halt, however, when your heroine got a severe attack of the giggles after a man in a wheelchair pointed at Seurat's Bathers at Asnières and said, in Little Britain-Andy voice, "I like that one", and had to leave the room before being escorted out.

The day concluded with 70 lengths of Brixton Rec Centre pool, before continuing the watery theme and heading to Reilly's place for a Borough Market fish supper and then to the Ritzy to see The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, a review of which will follow as soon as I can be arsed. Suffice it to say it's no Royal Tenenbaums, but damn good all the same.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Mystic Brew, Ronnie Foster

Thursday, March 03, 2005

'Some poppers with your pint, Mum?' 

Imagine my stunned surprise this evening when I turned to the Drinks column in the Evening Standard's MetroLife mag to find the Royal Oak listed in the Top 5 places to 'celebrate Mothering Sunday':

"On Sunday mornings, Columbia Road comes into full bloom with the ever-popular flower market, which throngs the streets for miles around. What mother wouldn't enjoy such a trip? You can also sneak into the Royal Oak for an early jar. This place opens at 8am on Sundays."

Indeed, as well I know, and - unless things have changed radically since I swore never again to set foot in the place after our last infamous 14-hour session back in 2003 (which, incidentally, provided this blog with its name) - as does every other raver, 'Ditch twat and dirty stopout in the North-East London area, which would account for why the queues for the toilets are always so suspiciously long.

Amyl sold over the bar, dodgy disco hits cranked up to 11 blasting from the jukebox, pasty party people who haven't slept trying to chop lines discreetly under the table... Why, I'd sooner take my mother to Pete Doherty's bathroom on dole day than let her anywhere near the sifty old Oak.

Unless it's a reformed den of iniquity these days, of course - I don't get up round the old locale much any more. Which, now I think about it, is probably why I'm still alive.


Apart from colds and lame excuses, the past few days have been characterised by a recurring theme - food.

Aside from watching as much of the UKFood channel as humanly possible and indulging my love affair with Anthony Bourdain thanks to his excellent series A Cook's Tour (Vietnam and Tokyo are next on the travel agenda - mmmm), the subject of food seems to permeate every facet of my life right now. (Spooky - just to drive the point home, this very second my boss has offered me a peach. Yes please.)

If it's not PR-freebie choccy cakes landing on my desk (Tesco Finest wins our impromptu office taste test) or Smacked Face the Younger calling from NZ at 6am to ensure a batch of the big sis's famous lentil curry awaits on her imminent arrival, it's hardcore carnivore Life Of Reilly considering vegetarianism (we say a resounding yes). And flicking through my daily reads, I came across one of the most hilarious discussions about food ever committed to binary code, courtesy of Dorking Labs.

Steve Albini - wit, rocker, raconteur, culinary commentator, grammatical pedant and maker of a mean mayonnaise. Truly a hero for our times.

Anyway, that reminds me it's lunchtime. The new staff salad bar calls.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Pass The Peas, The JBs

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Getting sniffy 

I'm suffering a rotten cold at the moment, one of those delightful snivelly ones where it feels as if God's loosened a washer in your brain - dripping nose, streaming eyes and scratchy limescaled throat.

The worst thing about this variety of common or garden cold, however, isn't the impact it has on you, but on other people. You may be fucked off with sneezing every 10 seconds on the 10 seconds, but that's nothing compared to those around you who've had to put up with your constant sniffing and snuffling all day - and the guilt this knowledge provokes is excruciating.

This public disturbance reaches at its peak on the Tube, where the change in temperatures has inevitably prompted an avalanche of watery snot within your sinuses, to the extent even blowing your nose red raw doesn't make a dent. Someone (usually me) will huffily offer you a tissue while the rest of the carriage glares at you as you battle to contain the torrents within.

In fact, there are only three Tube activities more aggravating than constant sniffing:
• women who apply their make-up en route to work (how common - have a little decorum, ladies!);
• women who brush their long, shedding hair, coating those around them with little shafts of their DNA and, worst of all;
• people who clip their nails (a la Ms G's infamous District Line "Ah me eye!" incident of 2000), pinging trimmings left, right and centre.

However, if you see me sniffing forlornly tomorrow morning on the Northern Line, have a heart, eh?

>INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Burning Down The House, Vienna Boys Choir

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Care in the community 

Until recently, I wouldn't have advised anyone to venture down Streatham way (unless it was to come to my house obviously), but now the evil Ms G and myself are on the marketing committee of this year's Streatham Festival (can you feel the community spirit in this room?), I'm happy to change my tune. This is the first in an occasional series on why South London rules, as Ms G and I discover more about our hood.

Why Streatham rocks #1:
If there's one thing guaranteed to deal to the remainder of a toxic weekend and make your world a better place, it's a huge dish of noodles at our closest local eaterie, Oishii. I've eaten a lot of Japanese food - some good, a lot bad (see Fujiyama - yuk) - but this place is absolutely up there with the best. The fish is fresh as my teenage self, the noodles not starchy, the tempura batter light as a feather and crispy as Mikey Ray's socks... And it's cheap as chips - just £3.95 for noodles, rice or ramen at lunchtimes. Mmmmm.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Get Some Of This, Madhouse (from the very dope The Doors of Perception, Dope Funk, Psychedelic Soul and Acid Jazz from New York City '70 - '74)

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