Monday, June 10, 2013

Calling occupants 

Just in case anyone still comes round these parts, I'm now over at http://missjenferguson.wordpress.com talking music and drivel. Come on down.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Khuja and things 

Yet again it's all quiet on the Western front in Smacksville - the usual tales of drinking too much, spending too much money on records and getting told off for sniggering at experimental theatre.

Had a date last week with a jolly chap - though I almost spat my sauvignon when he explained how he liked to treat his body as a temple. As we all know my body is less a temple, more a human waste disposal unit, and a severely overtaxed one at that. Bless him.

Anyway, I digress. Here's my most recent bar review for wont of anything better.

Khuja Lounge

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, after many vodkas and absolutely ghastly singing care of the dreadful Eurovision Song Contest, my so-called ‘friend’ Quentin enticed me to skateboard down a flight of stairs. I accepted the dare – and promptly broke my foot.

The whole foolish incident taught me two things – don’t accept stupid dares and be careful around stairs, especially where alcohol is involved. (And never go to parties at Quentin’s house.)

The stupid dare rule has sadly gone out the window – I am presently sporting a perm thanks to a birthday bet from another ‘friend’ – but the stairs/booze rule remains valid to this day. Which is why I’m amazed that Khuja Lounge is still alive and kicking – or rather, that its patrons are.

I once tried to count the number of stairs leading up to Khuja, but if I did manage to count them all, the total was forgotten by the end of the first round. Suffice to say there are a lot of them (solid concrete no less) and stairwell horror stories feature prominently in many of the Khuja tales I’ve heard over the past decade.

But Khuja is much, much more than its stairway from hell. I’ve spent many a wondrous eve in its sultry confines, but usually have to piece together my night after calling in for ‘just one’ on the way home. Clearly, for reviewing purposes, this would not do. Thus I reconvened the Central City Booze Bitches in order to attempt to objectively sample Khuja’s delights in sober fashion.

We safely navigated the treacherous steps to find the bar heaving. On audio duty were a collection of funkateers I recognised to be one of the various incarnations of the Opensouls, and every creature in the house was shimmying like there was no tomorrow. Booze or boogie? Such is the Khuja dilemma.

After all, if there’s one place in this town that has genuinely earned the right to call itself the soul of Auckland city, it’s Khuja. House bunnies and gurn monkeys need not apply – Khuja has been the premier location for funk, soul, hip hop, world and afrobeat since time immemorial. The DJ line-up is all class, the local band action exquisite and it regularly plays host to some of the finest international acts to venture down under.

After an extended shimmy, I finally made it to the bar, which was five deep, and foolishly requested a mojito. Bless the barman, though – instead of rolling his eyes and telling me to get real, can’t you see all these people waiting, you idiot, he ripped into the mint and started muddling. Good lad. (The next time I returned to the bar I ordered a Tiger and the entire bar breathed an audible sigh of release.)

We danced and drank the night away as you do, and before we knew it, it was 4am and lord, where did the night go. Like many late-night bars, Khuja can often get a bit lecherous towards the end of the night, when drunken punters realise they haven’t pulled and time is running out, and this can leave a bit of an icky taste in your mouth. Mind you, I should probably just go home earlier…

Before we left to try to negotiate those stairs with our beer goggles on and make it home in one piece home to a well-deserved bed, we raised a glass to Khuja – an icon of the Auckland bar scene, a true old school funk classic. We may have stumbled in, but we souled out. Long may it lounge.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Crow Bar - review 

The Ed called on Monday morning with a desperate plea. “My other reviewer hasn’t come through with her Crow Bar review – you couldn’t whip us up one, could you?”

As several witnesses had seen me propping up the bar at Crow at 4am on Sunday, I had no excuse really. And the embarrassing flurry of bar receipts that fluttered out of my wallet like confetti when I went to pay for my morning coffee sealed the deal. I had the skills to pay the (bar) bills - now I just had to remember enough of my evening to write it up... Damn Crow and its strange memory-sapping qualities.

We’d been out for another Special General Meeting of the Central City Cocktail Sluts, a 30th birthday celebration which ended rather prematurely when the host bar decided to shut its doors at 1am. There was only one thing for it - “dirty old Crow” it might be, but it’s always there for you, a dependable friend in times of need.

The DJ was spinning some dodgy 80s Madonna downstairs which sent me heading for the upstairs bar, but too late – one of our party had been lured onto the dancefloor, getting into the groove in true Material Girl style. It was a shameful performance too good to miss, so we ordered a beer and grabbed a ringside seat. One beer turned into many Jagermeisters, and we finally emerged blinking into the light as the birds started to sing, nursing the early stages of what would become a killer hangover.

Some regulars complain Crow isn’t what it used to be – but then, wasn’t everything better back in the day? The clientele may have become more ‘bridge and tunnel’ of recent times (tacky lingerie contests and Playboy Mansion parties don’t help), but Crow still can’t be beaten on a good night.

The bouncers are friendly, the lighting deliciously dim, the music (bar the Madonna) great – check rock’n’roll Thursdays and Dunc Tha Funk on Fridays – and the award-winning bar staff know how to mix a good drink. Sure, the men’s loos may become a health hazard later in the evening and the staff may be surly on occasion, but that’s only if you’re being an idiot. (The problem is that the anything-goes atmosphere at Crow makes you feel that, well, anything goes, so acts of idiocy are quite common, especially from this reviewer.)

Crow is more than a bar – it’s an institution. Auckland’s bar scene occasionally throws up a venue that transcends its role as a mere drinking den and becomes part of the city’s cultural fabric. The legendary Crow has been witnessing Aucklanders’ decadence and debauchery for longer than we care to remember - from VIPs to DICs, failed rehabbers to rock stars, everyone who has been through its doors emerges with a tale to tell. If only those walls could talk. (Someone should write a book on the place, if only they could afford the defamation lawyers.)

I respect my ailing liver and my bank balance too much to do the Crow experience too often these days – but when I do, a brilliant time is guaranteed. As bFM boy and myspace Crow Bar chronicler Simon Pound has written, “That place long ago did away with my dignity, sense, self-respect etc. But I love it like a sick, three-legged puppy.” I’ll drink to that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Good times 

Party was fabulous, cheers. So, so very good. Thanks to all who graced us with your presence, and huge thanks to those who played tunes, including my own personal highlights Ange Saunders and Sandy Mill rocking the mic. (FYI you can catch Sandy's styles in the latest gloriousness from SJD.)

For those who care but couldn't be there, in no particular order a selection of the tracks I can remember dropping in the two sets I snatched for myself (well, if you can't hog the decks at your own party, where can you hog them?):
Surprisingly for a vaguely boozy set, I can recommend every single one of them, especially the Claudja Barry and Lee McDonald tunes for end-of-night scrumptiousness - hunt them down and melt, yum.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Smacked Face Greatest Tits Vol 1 

A few of me favourite posts, since there ain't gonna be no more new ones (yes, you could just archive-trawl, but let's face it, you won't)...

Gig madness! Smacked Face goes to P Funk, the Stones (part 1 and part 2), the New York Dolls, Nick Cave, Sigur Ros, Metro Riots, Morrissey, the Futureheads, Happy Mondays (part 1 and part 2), Trevor Horn, Babyshambles, Spektrum and !!!, the Franz, the Rapture, David Devant & His Spirit Wife, N*E*R*D, and a round-up of the best gigs ever...

Festival frolics! Smacked Face goes to Glastonbury (part 1 and part 2), the Rise Festival, the Big Day Out, T In The Park (part 1 and part 2)...

Travel insanity! Smacked Face goes to New York City, the Isle of Wight, San Francisco, Naples, Greece (part 1 and part 2), Manchester, Brighton, Paris (part 1 and part 2), Glasgow, Nelson, Wellington and, erm, Timaru.

London loving! Smacked Face loves: London both during (part 1 and part 2) and after the bombings, after the second bomb scare, the Natural History Museum, the random factor, Les Trois Garcons, summer time, walking to work, walking to work again, the National Gallery, Columbia Road, the no 73 bus, Camden, Brixton muggers, Stoke Newington, walking from Stokey, Crouch End, the Royal Oak, the Savoy, London itself...

Inane opinions! Smacked Face rants irrelevantly about crashing her car, hideous NZ food festivals, Kiwi memories, why swimming pools rock, going home, iPods, Martin Phillips, the worst date ever, the wonderful John Peel (part 1 and part 2), practical jokes, first-ever booze shame, more booze shame, lies our parents told us, being a rampant slag, the joys of 'friends with benefits', the radio, the death of Gran, Eurovision, her infamous rubber arm, and things we hate.

Too many parties! Smacked Face misbehaves at her 30th, her Viva Sarf Vegas flat-warming, with a load of Scottish caners, at the ex's house, on the roof, on boats...

List mania! Smacked Face charts her Top 10 tunes - animals, funk bombs, Northern Soul, sad songs, Buckfast songs, drug songs, summer songs, food songs...

Milestones! Smacked Face blogs her heart out - the first post, celebrating six months, one year, two years and now, the end. Bye bye. x

Monday, April 17, 2006

Moss gathering 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen we last left our heroine, she was trapped in the cheap seats on the hill at Western Springs, straining to see and hear a bunch of sexagenarian rockers, suffering not at all gladly a bunch of nearby westie rednecks pissing in a cup, hassling passing coppers and hollering "Jagger you old cunt!" every 5 seconds, while her friends lived it up backstage (bastards). Now we return to the story…

As well as hollering obscenities at Jagger, my bogan neighbours thought it a fine joke to bawl, “Turn it up!” at every occasion. In this, I concede they had a point - our crap position meant we suffered shocking speaker drift. No matter what local old farts might claim, this gig could have done with a helluva lot more volume at the back. Occasionally a wind shift meant we would be hit with a boom of bass or a whack of treble, but otherwise it was like listening to it all through cotton wool, a big muddy mess of mids.

I suppose it would be somewhat churlish to complain about the gig because hell, it's the STONES, damn it (and I only paid $50 for my ticket, ensuring some shifty scalper took a proper dive - sucker). The boys certainly rock hard for their age, but… I couldn’t help leaving a tiny bit disappointed.

When they were good they were great, but I base my gigs using the Reilly Barometer (patent pending) – how many times the hairs on your arm raise and give you goosebumps – and my arms stayed, for the whole, remarkably bump-free. And this from a girl who gets the shivers just from hearing Wild Horses on a tinny car radio.

Jumping Jack Flash kicked it off in fine style and a storming rendition of Paint In Black provided a penultimate thrill, but between those two points it mostly fell into a predictable torrent of anthems and boozy singalongs, with just a couple of exceptions.

The band was at its best when getting back to their blues roots, for instance, with the brilliant Midnight Rambler, and the break-out section with Keith doing a solo act was an interesting detour (“Have you had a good night, um, er…?” slurred Keith by way of introduction, forgetting which faceless stadium he was in this time. “Arrgh, I could be anywhere right now”). But ultimately the ’classic hits’ megamix failed to, erm, start me up. It was only rock’n’roll – and I’m not sure I particularly liked it.

No doubt the unimaginative set-list was to be expected on what must surely be their farewell tour (surely), and anything more risky would surely have gained howls of dissent from the old, fat bogan massive, so I guess you can’t really blame the lads.

A few technical problems didn’t help either – the big screen at the back went blank during Miss You and the following three songs, meaning we could neither see nor hear Jagger’s disco stylings. (Probably a good thing as I seem to recall he was dressed in Start Me Up-style leggings by this stage.)

In fact, so predictable was it all that I managed to win $10 by correctly guessing the two encores – a reasonably good trotting out of my No 2 Stones tune You Can’t Always Get What You Want (no 1 Gimme Shelter, not covered; no 3 Sympathy For The Devil, covered but unimpressive) and a turgid Brown Sugar. This was followed by fireworks, which were almost as much of a fizzer.

But, but, but… It’s the STONES innit? OK, so when it comes to old rockers rocking, they might not have been up there with George Clinton, the New York Dolls or James Brown, to name a few recent examples, but my policy is it’s better to have seen and been slightly disappointed than never to have seen at all.

Still can’t believe I didn’t get that backstage pass though. Doh!

You can't always get what you want 

Regrets. I've had a few. But I've never regretted not going out as much as I did on Friday night.

All night long I had been attempting to entice people to accompany me to Crow Bar to see the lovely Sandy Mill do her thing on the mic, but to no avail. Everyone was tired, sun-struck, drunk... I gave up the fight and went home.

As soon as I hit the sheets, the divine Ms Mc called, saying she'd changed her mind and wanted to go to Crow after all. Hmmmm.... I hesitated. But nope, it was too late, I was tucked up cosily in my comfy bed and it seemed like far too much effort to get back out, slather on the slap and hit town.

BIG mistake. For who does Ms Mc end up meeting at Crow? Only Keef Richards' guitar tech, innit, who promptly gives Missy a backstage pass to the gig.

To be fair, I was lucky enough to spend some quality party time on Saturday night with said guitar tech, where over a few beers and smokes, he gave me the inside gen on the tour and the band.

Sadly, I was so concerned about not looking like a groupie that rather than asking about the really juicy sex 'n' drugs stuff, I spent most of the time talking rock'n'roll, specifically debating the pros and cons of a Fender Telecaster, as opposed to, say, a Richenbacher 330 or a Gibson Les Paul. (NB: I know sweet FA about guitars.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, as a late addition to the party there was no backstage pass for this fan, and so I had to live vicariously through Matty Tutt, who managed to meet Keith and (my hero) Charlie at the soundcheck and has a photo of himself playing Keith's guitar in his dressing room, and Ms Mc, who watched the entire gig from the crew/VIP area, the Rattlesnake Bar.

Me, I was up on the hill in the cheap seats, straining to see and hear, and standing next to a bunch of westie rednecks whose idea of fun was to piss in a cup, hassle passing coppers and holler "Jagger you old cunt!" every 5 seconds.


(Gig review follows tomorrow.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Band behaviour 

Well, as predicted, the last week has been a non-stop bender. I thought I' d discovered clean living out at Piha, but obviously all that was keeping me sober was the prospect of having to drive 45 minutes home.

As well as rediscovering sweet, sweet liquor, I uncovered a few more hither-to-unexperienced pleasures.

Thursday I was summoned to Shanghai Lil's. I wanted so badly to hate it, with its ridiculous hype and A-class, erm, A-list clientele... but I just couldn't. It won me over in about 15 minutes and I gave it my column's first 5/5. It was just fabulous. Ignore Public Enemy and do believe the hype.

Friday I stumbled into, rather, upon The Tutts. The last time I'd seen them was at a mate's farewell bash. After a 7-hour impromptu set I started running out of tunes, but just as the party was quietening down, the dancefloor absolutely lost it when - inexplicably - the Deliverance theme was dropped. And it was the Tutts and Motocade boys who were piggy-squealing the loudest... Anyway, I digress - I'd never seen them in action before and am happy to report they totally rock the party, both on and off the stage.

And Saturday, I finally caught the Hot Grits. I'd fallen instantly in love with their track Formula One after catching it on 95bFM, and this was the first opportunity I'd had to check them out in person. And I fell instantly in love with the band. So good to see the real emergence here of large ensemble bands playing my kinda music - funk, not half-arsed dub styles. This band rocks so much I managed to re-injure my broked-up back jumping about to them. Cheers guys.

So yes, after months of chilled living, I am back in the bars with a vengeance. I did have a moment of worrying realisation on Friday night, dripping with sweat and dancing like a loon while bruising my thighs banging a tambourine, that at 30-something I'm probably approaching the stage where this kind of daft behaviour just ain't allowed any more. But as that famous twat-in-the-hat Jay Kay once said, if I like it, I just do it. Or something.

Bring on the long weekend.

Friday, March 17, 2006

How I dearly wish I was not here 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis week I have been in Timaru.

Timaru, for overseas readers who are not aware of its existence (oh what blissful state) is a town of about 27,000 people on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, approximately halfway between the cities of Christchurch and Dunedin.

What on earth 27,000 people find to do in Timaru is quite another matter.

In the words of that hoary old bard SP Morrissey, this is the coastal town they forgot to close down. This is the seaside town they forgot to bomb (Armageddon, come Armageddon come etc).

Each time I've passed through Timaru en route to somewhere better, it has been silent and grey, the townsfolk looking reproachfully at every vehicle that merely speeds through and banishes Timaru to a distant nightmare. I've always wondered why people would choose to live in such a miserable setting, and over the past few days I've had the chance to ask them.

Why here, I demand to know. What is it about this place that drew you here, that keeps you here. A few old codgers tell me about the superb salmon and trout fishing, but generally the answer is, without fail, Caroline Bay, an unprepossessing stretch of dreary coastline fronted by shabby houses, 1970s-style motels and - appropriately - a closed fun fair. This is, I'm told, Timaru's 'jewel in the crown'.

But hey, different strokes for different folks. I grew up in Nelson, home to some of the planet's most beautiful beaches, and live at Piha, another of the wonders of the world. Perhaps I've been spoiled.

What does set Timaru apart from being just another dull provincial Kiwi town is the sense of utter wretchedness and despair that sets in as soon as you set foot within the city limits.

Within minutes, my colleagues and I are frowning and sighing, everything seems an insurmountable burden and we lie awake at night in our 1970s-style Caroline Bay motel racked with such maudlin thoughts that surely we must slash our wrists with the bone-handled butter knife or furnish a noose in the wardrobe from the hairdryer flex. And we such happy-go-lucky people!

Over breakfast, I theorise out loud as to the cause of Timaru's evil vibes. Evidently, I surmise, the place has been built on the site of an ancient burial ground - and suddenly it's clear.

The furtive, cowering shopkeepers with their 'we don't take kindly to strangers here' attitudes, the zombie-trudge of the townsfolk, the sullen, sinister skies swirling continually overhead... We have walked into the set of a real-life Stephen King novel. How shall we ever escape?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

New car, need flat 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDriving back out to Piha today (oh yeah, I bought a new car with the insurance payout - isn't she beautiful? <--) , I was struck with the same feeling I had when I first stepped out on my balcony and saw that famous view.

The gorgeous weather cast its glow over the whole city today, in fact - I almost ran off the road while roaring over the harbour bridge as the gloriousness of the gulf overwhelmed my senses. But as I've run off the road before and it wasn't much fun, I quickly grabbed hold of myself.

I tend to underestimate the beauty of this place I somewhat reluctantly live in - a month of working like a dog and living like a hobo on central-city-based friends' sofas has served to remove the blinkers from my eyes and remind me of the sheer beauty of this far-flung corner of the world.

Strange then, when my NZ surrounds has never seemed so awe-inspiring, that my yearning for London has returned with a vengeance. Mind you, work has kept me so busy of late I haven't had a moment to think about anything but the Great Product Launch - perhaps it's just finally having a moment to myself that has sent me ricocheting back to homesickland.

But enough already. Speaking of homes, I need a new one. The summer's almost gone and so I must retreat to the city. Ideally the perfect place will emerge in the Mt Eden area for myself and lovely flatmate-in-waiting Flicker, but if you have a desirable residence with a room with enough space for all my records, you know what to do...

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Back Downtown, Certain General (off the v. excellent New York Noise Vol 2)

Friday, February 10, 2006

The pub I lost (was a good pub) 

The Whitehorse reportedly shuts its doors after Saturday and may never be the same again - it's changing hands and an end of an era may be upon us.

I will be quietly sobbing into my pillow (actually, rocking out as much as a broken back permits to James Brown at the Civic, but) at the news a seminal part of my life may be lost forever - all those Southsidesoul Sundays that became sick-day Mondays, the 'quick pints' that turned into lock-ins, the five-second introductions that became two-year love affairs, the hundreds of people who became much as part of the fabric of our own lives as of the Horse's, the feeling you could stand up on a table banging a saucepan in a spangled disco suit and no one would bat an eyelid (but bang a wooden spoon to the beat instead), the knowledge that, brassic or brassed-up, happy or heartbroken, here was a place where everybody knew your name...

I digress. Anyway, were I not an invalid confined to barracks at the arse end of the world, I'd be there on Saturday with hell's bells on. And how...

Tom G, Asad and the Reverberations crew will be supplying Saturday's aural excitations, so get along and raise a glass to the old nag for me. And in tribute, we've brought together some of our favourite examples of photographic evidence collected over the many years we worshipped at its sticky, Sambucca-smeared altar - check out the nonsense here.

INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Glorious, Diefenbach [MP3]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Join the car crash set 

It's often claimed that your life flashes before your eyes when you're about to die. I'm not in a position to confirm this, however, because when I performed my double loop-the-loop in a Toyota Corolla at 8 o'clock this morning in spectacular fashion, somewhat miraculously I did not die.

I still don't know how I did not die. But as I blinked into the blinding sunlight then swerved to avoid that oncoming bus, hit a gravel patch at 90km/h, careered into a bank, ricocheted to the other side of the road like a metallic blue pinball, smashed into another bank and flipped twice, landing upside down in a tree - as I watched the world rotating in excruciating slow motion, heard the crushing steel and felt the steering wheel, all I could think was, "So this is it, I'm going to die." And I was strangely OK with that, as long as it was nice and quick and didn't hurt.

When I opened my eyes, I briefly wondered why the afterlife was the wrong way up. Did this mean I'd gone 'down' instead of 'up'? (Well, it's what I'd always predicted.)

But it's surprising how quickly that survival instinct kicks in, even when you think you're dead. On autopilot I unbuckled my seatbelt and crawled across the windscreen to kick the passenger door out, wanting to get a move on in case the petrol tank decided to explode.

"My god, you're alive!" a local Samaritan gasped as I staggered into view. This was good, because until that point I hadn't been too sure. Sadly, it also served to remind my back that it was broken, and I collapsed in an ungainly heap.

Luckily, it turned out my broken back was merely two fractured vertebrae (anterior compression fractures, if you must know), and after a thrilling day of X-rays, examinations, tests and hospital-grade cuppas, I'm pretty much back in the land of the walking (and living) and ready to rock, courtesy of my good buddies Tramal, Ibuprofen and Codeine.

I'd love to say I emerged from the whole ordeal without a scratch on me, but that would be untrue, as there's a razor-thin gash on my knee from where I crawled over the shattered (but still intact, go safety glass) windscreen. However, on recalling this morning's Toyotacrobatics, I think I might just be the luckiest person on the planet. Looks like my number's not up yet.

INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Warm Leatherette, The Normal [MP3]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Big Day Out = not a bad day out 

Could have been a whole heap better of course - generally I prefer not to have to queue for half an hour while 1,000 people bottleneck trying to get from one stage to another thanks to some conveniently-erected fences restricting passage to a 1m-wide thoroughfare.

I'd also like to be able to get myself a beer to enjoy watching luscious bands such as the Magic Numbers in the sunshine without having to queue to get back through the tiny thoroughfare, then to queue for another hour to gain access to the tiny fenced-off bar area because a) some fools decided to make it an all-ages festival and b) Kiwi kids are too ratbaggy to be able to be sensible around an open bar.

How I mocked my co-workers when they admitted they intended to remain in our company's corporate box and watch the acts from their lofty pinnacle, deriding them as 'pussy-arse soft cocks', claiming I would be down in the thick of it, getting amongst it. How they laughed as I was forced to eat my words and retire to my box seat defeated, a sweaty, irritable wreck seeking only air conditioning and solace in a pint of gin and tonic.

But anyway, whinge ends. It was a pretty good seat and not being 'amongst it' didn't stop me pogoing like a fool (apparently snapped mid-Iggy by TV3 News for maximum posterity shame). And the side-by-side stage was a nifty innovation - although it did make for amusing viewing watching one half of the crowd rock their socks off while the other side stood stock-still awaiting the next act, much like a very large flock of penguins.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ain't no good bringin' no jive to me 

Lizzie of the comments box asks what one might do on a Saturday night in Auckland. Where, she continues, are the young folk to get their dancing shoes on? Where, in short, do the children play?

Dear, sweet Lizzie, you've come to the wrong place. In Smacked Face Land 2006, Saturday nights mean only a quiet pint down at the Piha RSA before returning to the porch to load up the shotgun and indulge in some quiet whittlin'. I'm told dancing is in fact still considered the devil's work in these far-flung, simple isles.

Sorry I can't help. I lead a sad and tragic existence these days, in my self-imposed temporary exile. I may crawl out of the house tomorrow night to see if the rumours of a secret Meg White DJ set are true, then onwards to the Big Day Out to screech along to Search & Destroy, but then it's straight back to the shack. There's a rocking chair with my name on it.

INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Southern Can Mama, Blind Willie McTell [mp3]

Friday, November 25, 2005

Clap clap for the handicap 

Crikey, this blog is two years old today. It seems like only yesterday I wrote those faltering first words.

And here I am in 2005, sitting alone at a computer on a Friday night on the other side of the planet, while tickets to the Quantic Soul Orchestra go to waste (thanks to the after-effects of imbibing too many champagnes and cocktails at yesterday's staff Christmas lunch - the tune has changed but the song remains the same, it would seem...)

Older, fatter, certainly not wiser. It's been a worthwhile two years then. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I see dead people 

I've been asked to submit a "Top 5 for 2005" for a local rag here. It wouldn't usually be a tough call, but when you've been in the UK for most of the year, it's hard to avoid innocuously sounding like a "ooh, hark at me, I've been living abroad!" wanker to a Kiwi audience.

A UK Top 5 Moments would be easy. But what proud NZer (or Brit, for that matter) could give a two tosses about Jen's reminiscences of tears at Glastonbury, goosebumps over Bobby Gillespie losing it in a fit of Kill All Hippies rage, the Metro Riots rocking the Camden Proud gallery, the night George Clinton seized her soul or the evening the Whitehorse, erm, 'thrilled' to the sound of the Southsidesoul All-Stars on ridiculous home-made percussion, saucepans and cowbell? (That's right, no one. I'll get my coat.)

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Anyway, after much thought, I've worked out what my submission will be: dead people - the ones who departed Planet Earth this year having left it a better place, at least as far as I'm concerned. Morbid it may be, but I think it's time I paid my dues.

I've got my 5 (make that 20) sorted. How about you?

[PS: Thanks mightily to eagle-eyed reader and Odyssey fan Mr Higgins, who sent this fabulous flyer of said glam rock superstars (see below post) - cheers pal. And a big sobby kiss to Janey McC, who's left me to be with her Scottish lover - just don't let him flash that skin sporran too often, lassie. xx]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lost odyssey 

Driving home last night, I caught 10 minutes of a National Radio profile on a long-lost Christchurch glam rock band called Odyssey. Nope, I'd never heard of them either, but by the time I parked the car in my Sandringham garage, I was their biggest fan.

There aren't any recordings of Odyssey in the shops these days. Even the National Radio link - the first one on the list when you Google Odyssey+christchurch+glam+rock+band - brings up a dead page.

Apparently any archived TV footage of the band was taped over years ago - a move somewhat reminiscent of the BBC recording over classic Dr Who episodes to save money. (I still hold a secret hope that my 1988 It's Academic appearance will one day emerge from the TVNZ vaults - but considering I was then sporting braces, acne and a seriously evil perm, I guess I wouldn't mind too much if my 15 minutes of fame had had to be sacrificed to accommdate the 2004 Upper Hutt NZ Idol heats.)

Regarding Odyssey, this subtle eradication of Kiwi culture is both a shame and a tragedy, for you have to wonder just how much else has gone the same way, to be rediscovered and dredged up as "secret histories" if they're lucky, or more likely to live on only in the hearts of the people who were there, consigned to dusty shoeboxes and long-winded pub tales.

Listening to these ordinary 50-something men get joyfully nostalgic about their brief moment of 1970s glory made me think just how many one-time heroes, legends in their own lunchtimes, we must meet in the course of an average day.

Does the middle-aged chap at the bank bore his family about the time he was known all over town for his beatnik poetry? The faded beauty behind the counter at the chemist smile secretly to herself when she recalls her modelling days in Swinging London, when she once gave Brian Jones a blowjob? A homesick 30-year-old blogger groan as she remembers the night she got a standing ovation for her Goldfinger rendition at Gary's Garyoke at the Swan in E15?

It's something worth remembering when the mundanities of life get you down - your own little rock star moment to make you smile and to tease your kids with.

"Get out of here," they'll say. "You're too old, fat and ridiculous, you daft fool."

"Yeah," you'll reply, "but I was pretty hot in my day. Honest."

But they'll never believe you, of course - especially when they dig out that It's Academic video...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye 

This is the end, beautiful friends... Smacked Face is a Londoner, not an Aucklander - there's no point blogging a dead horse. It's time to saddle up the old nag one last time and ride off into the sunset.

Before I go though, one last favour - I'm homeless and destitute here in Auckland. I'll be calling upon the good people at the bFM Accommodation Guide come Monday, but to anyone with links down under, put the word out and find us a nice pad, will you? Ta.

Taking Reilly's advice in the comments box below, I may one day return, in mostly MP3 format, to this site: smackedarse.blogspot.com. But that depends on finding a flat, getting broadband and, erm, a computer. Etc. Etc. For now, the final curtain.

I'd like to thank Reilly, Mses Cam and Spiller, Quentishtown, 'Cough-Up' Fleming, Davey D, Junior Cow, Scotty, Jake, Tahlee and all the maniacs at the Whitehorse, DC, Chuck Pettifogspot, MikeyRay, Nick Speakers, Ms Mursal, New York City Boy and Girl, Ms Green, the Scottish Dobber, the Welshman, the Frenchman, Pretty Nick, Ms Smith, Uncle Gay and Northern Monkeyboy, the Pigeonholders, Eli B, Tom, Asad and Ravi Reverberations, Charlene Ramsay, Tokyo James, Jimmysupreme, Si Grigg, James Headphone Sex, Papa Cool and the Glaswegians, Twitch and Wilkes at Optimo, the Friends With Benefits, the Random Friendsters, all the sidebar bloggers, anyone else who's made an appearance on these pages I've inadvertently left out, my party people: the Booze, Disco, Etc crew, the Buy None Get One Free crew, the Southsidesoul-diers... But most of all, the venerable Ms G, without whom none of this would have been possible - or at least, not half as much fun.

See you in the next life then. xxx

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Making the transition 

So here I am in sunny, small-town Nelson - and believe me, it's sunny. I fell asleep in the sunshine yesterday afternoon and woke up with a tan. And it's still practically winter...

Taking some time out with the mother module has proved to be a good decision - it's given me time to recover from the sickness and the jetlag, and to acclimatise to being back in the motherland, without feeling like I should be out catching up with people and hitting the bars and cafes of Auckland, because I'm not quite ready to step back into the social whirl just yet. (And, because Mum's British, I can whinge to my heart's content about my homesickness for dear old London town without incurring the wrath of angry patriots.)

The New York stopover was also a wise move. As well as finally realising my long-held desire to see the Big Apple, it's also been invaluable in easing the London-Auckland transition. I'll explain in a minute, but first, allow me to wax lyrical about New York, New York, because it was mind-blowing.

If you're going to stay in New York, you could do a lot worse than the heart of the West Village, in the very street where Sarah Jessica Parker's character was supposed to have resided in the banal tripe Sex And The City. On every corner there's a bar or cafe - or in our case, a Marc Jacobs store - and the food is simply incredible. Hopefully New York City Boy and Girl will fill me in on all the names of the places we ate and drank (Jeollado does sashimi so fresh it's a wonder it's not still flapping, that I do recall), but wow, what a gourmet's paradise. Brunching, lunching, dining and late-night drinking -I'm amazed they didn't just pump me full of hydrogen and send me home blimp-style. (And let's not even mention how I lost my heart to Dean & Deluca...)

But yes, NYC rocks, especially when you've got local guidance. It's incredible how much you can experience of the real culture when you're not trying to do the tourist thing, but are just happy to wander about and go with the flow. With no agenda, I was free to spend two heavenly hours sitting and watching the fabulous roller disco in Central Park, as the DJ kicked out such classics as MFSB's Love Is The Message, Jimmy 'Bo' Horne's Spank and Hamilton Bohannon's Let's Start The Dance (my calling is obviously as a roller disco DJ - Rollerjen must ride again!). Big thanks to NYC Girl for the Lower East Side vintage clothes shopping tips, and how happy am I that I got to see CBGB before it's lost for ever.

Anyway, my point about my Big Apple stopover was that it really highlighted what London lacks. Don't get me wrong, I love London to bits and always will, but when faced with New York's genuine friendliness, openness and helpfulness, you realise what a harsh, cold, repressed city London can be. And as I sat in the blazing sunshine enjoying a super-relaxed and delicious New York brunch before heading to the airport, I realised this eye-opener was exactly what I needed to keep the blues at bay.

That feeling was only reinforced yesterday, as I walked into 'town' (ahem) here in Nelson to do the necessary bureaucratic shit involved in relocating - renewing my driver's licence, reviving my bank account, getting a NZ mobile number... I did it all in half an hour, and that included the walk to and from Mum's place.

And when the homesickness kicks in and I wail for the London I left behind, I just have to think about things like this, and realise it'll all be OK.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Transition, Underground Resistance

Thursday, September 01, 2005


(Continuing on a theme...) See, I really wanted to go out on a bang, with - for once - a series of intelligently written, acerbic social satires, in order to leave something vaguely worthy for posterity. But I'm rapidly turning into a bag of emotional jelly, and can only compare myself to Montgomery Burns in his 'radioactive alien' mode ("I bring you... love!") - and, like Mr Burns' flying monkeys, all thoughts of intelligent commentary have gone out the window (and landed with a 'thunk').

Because I'm leaving my mates. And when a quick, casual meal down the road for a couple of pals suddenly turns into an impromptu dinner party for a dozen or more, and your local opens up again for one final round and singalong, then you realise what a truly wonderful bunch they are.

Hmmm. Getting sentimental. Time for bed.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Going Back To My Roots, Richie Havens [MP3]

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]

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