The Songs That People Sing

First let's hear somebody sing me a record that cries pure and true

Month: March, 2008

Rain Mods

Over at Roman Empress at the weekend was a nice little post about rainy day songs. As some people may have noticed I have a little bit of a Mod obsession. I never associate Mod with sunny summer days or suntans. But rainy London streets…now you’re talking Mod. Any excuse to wear a smart mac like Weller used to back in the early Style Council Days. Or a Crombie like Suggs.

Anyway, some Mod tunes with a rainy day theme going on:

The Direct Hits were a South London three piece back in the early 80s. They were a head on collision of The Beatles and The Who circa 1966, but imagine lyrics by Adrian Henri.

Madness were simply one of the best pop bands of all time. If you don’t know Madness, then firstly where have you been? And secondly, do yourselves a favour and get their greatest hits!

The Prisoners are probably one of my all time favourite bands. Formed in the early 80s by Graham Day, they were a punky freakbeat kind of band. Touchstones for their sound include Hendrix, The Small Faces, The Doors, Deep Purple performing Hush and The Stranglers. The Prisoners released four albums then split. Graham Day has continued to this day through his bands The Prime Movers, The Solarflares and Graham Day And The Gaolers, ploughing a particularly singular furrow, but one of great passion and conviction. Oh and groovy tunage!

Finally The Jam. Covering The Beatles ‘Rain’. This came from the ‘Direction Reaction Creation’ boxset.

Can I borrow your umbrella?

The Direct Hits – She Really Didn’t Care
Madness – The Sun And The Rain
The Prisoners – Wish The Rain
The Jam – Rain

Go here to the fantastic TwilightZone blog and if you're lucky you may find the long lost debut by The Direct Hits and possibly some stuff by The Prisoners. But have a browse and say hi to Ride Your Pony (Hi RYP) and his amazing taste in music. Then go and buy Graham Day And The Gaolers!


Sounds For Sunday

I’ve been away for a week, visiting family. So no blogs for the past seven days. Normal service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime as the sun comes out and suitcases are unpacked a couple of tunes that came on during the drive home.

Young Holt Unlimited – Soulful Strut

Bobby Sheen – Dr Love

Sounds For Sunday

Happy Easter. My wife and I were driving around South Wales yesterday, and we had a snowstorm. Not exactly the most ideal weather to have on our mini holiday.

Two tunes for today:

Summertime by Billy Stewart. One of my favourite vocal performances of all time. Really dynamic and powerful.

Blue Eyed Soul by the Biddu Orchestra. Biddu produced Kung Fu Fighting by Karl Douglas. This instrumental sounds like the theme to a Seventies cop show. A friend of mine has it as his ringtone. When his phone rings it makes everybody look!

Billy Stewart – Summertime

Biddu Orchestra – Blue Eyed Soul


It’s getting to that time of year when I’m in need of a holiday. My wife and I are heading to see our parents over Easter, three or four days with both. And it’s going to be nice, being looked after. But it’s not ‘getting away’.

A couple of years ago we went to Scotland for a week. We flew up to Edinburgh, hired a car. From there we drove up to Inverness, stayed over night and then drove down alongside Loch Ness and then cut across to Skye where we stayed at a B ‘n’ B on the western side of the Isle.

I did my usual thing of working out a catalogue of music for our trip and spent a couple of evenings burning CDs. There were dreamy tunes for looking at mountains and misty lochs; there were singalongs for top of the voice shouting in the car; there were old comfortable favourites. I should add, I don’t drive. My wife does all the driving. So there were a few discs of tunes she likes to sing along to, for those moments when she’s bored of driving and needs perking up.

We made our way across the airport to the rental carpark. We got the keys to the car and headed across. My wife opened the car and climbed in while I put the suitcase in the boot. I jumped into the passenger seat with my big pile of cds. I looked at my wife who looked at me. We looked at the car dashboard and looked back at each other.

NO CD PLAYER. No CD player. CD player none! The car only had a cassette/radio. I hadn’t seen one of those in a while. So I played around with the tuning and found a radio station that was playing some decent tunes and off we went, heading north towards Inverness. A little while north of the city the scenery started to get more beautiful and rugged as we hit the Highlands. We arrived in Inverness, found our hotel for the night and hit the pub.

The next day we headed out for breakfast and drove south west alongside Loch Ness, stopping to take in the tourist things and take some pictures along the misty Loch. By lunchtime we were heading west towards Skye singing along to oldies on the radio. The roads became a lot less busy than they had been, and the weather did that thing it does in Scotland of changing in an instant. Rain pouring down, scenery growing wilder by the minute. I looked at the map: there was nothing but road and mountains for at least another couple of hours drive. The radio poured out some more oldies for us to sing along to. The road we were on curved around the base of a mountain range, eventually running between mountains on it’s path to the coast. Nothing but road and mountain I said, and I meant it. Looking at the map I had realized that the Highlands weren’t exactly heavily populated and I realized why now. A road running alongside some lochs at the bottom of steep jagged mountains. Nothing else, not even sheep or anything. Just scary looking mountains. And guess what mountain ranges do to radio reception?


We looked at each other as we lost the radio. The scenery was beautiful and impressive. But it it was also scary and lonely, even though we were together. The sky was dark with rain and the whole thing kind of took our breath away; both from the wild beauty of it and underlying fear of this place.

No-Man Days In The Trees

*not a Scottish tune, but the feel of the track captures perfectly how I felt on that drive…

Hello? Is anybody out there? :)

Good morning!

Roman Empress (see my blog roll on the right hand side of this blog) has kindly pointed people in my direction. So I’m returning the favour. Head over to her blogs Roman Empress and Heroine Addict and bow down to her greatness.

But also go and pay a visit to any of the blogs listed. They’re full of good stuff and manned by great people who’ve made me feel very welcome. Say hi to them all. Spread the love and join our club!

And as if by magic, the shop keeper appeared:

The wonderful Saint Etienne and ‘Join Our Club’. 🙂

Sounds For Sunday

Some soul today, and some real gems. I can’t type and dance at the same time, so I’ll let the music do the talking today. Happy Sunday!

Don Thomas – Come On Train

Ginger Thompson – Boy Watcher

The Impressions – We’re Rolling On Pt1

The Dynells – Call On Me

Larry Williams and Johnny Watson – Too Late

Lou Pride – I’m Coming Home In The Morning

Positive Feedback

I’m partially deaf. Both my eardrums are perforated; something I only found out a few years ago. I hear fine most of the time, it’s just certain frequencies are missing. Which probably explains my love for music that is overly bright and shiny – early 80s pop, Motown or records like the first Clash album – or heavy on the bass – dub reggae, dance music from the mid 90s. Occasionally when I’m drunk and lose focus I start to miss what people are saying. When I’m very drunk I stop concentrating and people’s voices start to blur. But the previously low level music in the bar becomes very loud.

I suffer from tinnitus. Mostly I don’t notice but late at night it sounds like somebody is playing The Jesus And Mary Chain in the next room.

My first guitar amp cost me a fiver. When you turned it up it made everything sound like The Jesus And Mary Chain. Even when you didn’t want it to.

Years ago I worked at The Virgin Megastore. I was on the customer service desk and this guy wanted to return an album. He said it was a bad pressing and that he couldn’t hear the songs properly. It was Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain. I laughed. A lot. He demanded to see my manager. My manager, a great guy called Geoff, laughed too. The customer looked at us both, said he would be writing to Richard Branson to complain and stormed out.

This is my favourite song from that album.

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Taste Of Cindy


…was the year after I left school. I had money in my pocket thanks to a decent part time job and was meeting, thanks to transferring to a sixth form college, like minded people for the first time. Many of whom were girls. That was a pleasant surprise after being at a boy’s school; the only girls I knew where the girls from my estate, who just thought I was weird. I also fell in love for the first time. I mean really fell, head over heels. That can’t eat can’t sleep can’t breath when she’s around kind of infatuation. And of course it was unrequited. Or so I thought. I found out years later that the only reason she kept her distance was my reputation (not undeserved I must add) for being a party animal. Oh well. She became a Liberal Democrat MP so maybe fate was kind.

The Godfathers – This Damn Nation
Sharp suits and ferocious garage rock.

The Redskins – Levi Stubbs Tears
A live version of the Billy Bragg classic by the left wing skinhead trio. Fantastic vocals.

The Wolfhounds – LA Juice.
More ferocious garage rock. Must have been something in the water at the time.

The Bodines – Heard It All
Melancholy jangle pop. Unfortunately this isn’t the Creation single, this is the more slick Ian Broudie produced b-side from 1987. But hey, it’s a great song nonetheless.

Sun Is Shining

After the weather of the past few days I’m feeling the first signs of spring. Blossoms on the trees lining the road to the station in the morning, and down by the church at the end of the street the bluebells are appearing.

Saint Etienne’s Spring would have been suitably sunny but I opted for this, a nearly hit from the early 80s. Not quite as optimistic, but it gets me singing everytime:

“You spoil my day for the rest of the night”

The Bluebells: Cath

(The sunshine appears to have gone into hiding. Nevermind. I’m still feeling sunny…)


I love sixties music: my soul and my reggae and ska and jazz; The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Beach Boys, The Action, The Stones, Velvet Underground, The Doors, The Stooges, Dylan, The Byrds and The Beatles. I love Dusty and Scott Walker and Phil Spector.

But the following three, who I love as much as any if not more, for various reasons don’t get celebrated as much as others:

David Bowie – Can’t Help Thinking About Me. Yes, Bowie is Bowie now, but his sixties output gets forgotten by a lot of people. I think some of his best songs were hidden amongst it. This one, covered by The Purple Hearts on their album Beat That! is a storming little Mod Pop tune from ’65, with some of my favourite vocals by Mr Jones.

Donovan – Sunshine Superman. Donovan always gets the Dylan Copy tag. But he was a great songwriter that for me had his own distinctive style, especially on his more ‘swinging’ pop tunes. I love this one, for it’s pop-art feel. My dad loved Donovan at the time, more than Dylan or The Beatles. I guess it rubbed off on me.

The Yardbirds – Mr, You’re A Better Man Than I. This is my favourite Yardbirds tune, I love the chords, the way the bass drives the chorus and the molten guitar solo. It has a great moody feel, more in common with the post punk sound than the blues. They were a ferocious band, far more so than The Stones. Although The Stones had Keith……