What Can It All Mean?

I was playing a bunch of old records today, and wondering why I don’t hear so many new ones that really groove me. The thing that really got me going on this was the Steinski double CD retrospective What Does It All Mean? on the Illegal Art label. Back in the day I had a 12 inch white label of The Lessons, and I particularly love Lesson 3 coz of the way it’s build around Herman Kelly’s Let’s Dance To The Drummer’s Beat. These days The Lessons don’t sound quite as hot as they once did, possibly due to this near legitimate CD release – but they still shake the walls a lot harder than the recent radio mix on the second disk. Don’t get me wrong, Nothing To Fear the Steinski DJ set is a toe-tapping groove but it ain’t The Lessons.
From Steinski I moved on to Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass, which cranked up still sounds like a real mother for ya! I’ll be playing Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson latter. From Beat Dis I moved along to Rebel MC. I loved Street Tough when it came out, and Michael West just got better year after year. Since I’d got onto a London trip, I stuck on Walk & Skank by Jah Screechy, and next I couldn’t resist playing the greatest Slade cover of all time, Mama We’re All Crazee Now by Denzil Dennis, which led to Johnny Reggae by the Piglets.
I recently said by way of reply to a comment on my blog about the Stanley Long film(s) Screamtime: “And when is some clever record company gonna click onto the idea of doing a CD (maybe double CD) of Long soundtracks? Bread and Groupie Girl have plenty of good tunes, not to mention the theme songs from the Aventure series – mind you the one Adrienne Posta sings would work well on a best of compilation of her tunes, she’s brilliant on non-Long stuff like Johnny Reggae too!”
And from a Jonathan King production it was just a short step to playing Hot Butter by Popcorn, then I was spinning If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot, Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond, The Pushbike Song by The Mixtures, and merrily singing along to Lobo’s Me & You & A Dog Named Boo. Next I put on the first Damned album and that sounded pretty good too…. I don’t have a copy of the follow up Music For Pleasure, and I don’t rate it very highly although Lol Coxhill appears on it. Which got me thinking about how I heard this free jazz saxophonist playing in The Foundry last week, just a few weeks after I’d booked him to play the South London Gallery, and that I first caught him live 32 years ago onstage with The Damned! And he still sounds great!
What I’m getting at here is that I don’t get as excited by new records as I do by old tunes. I still hear good new tracks but they don’t send me like the rhythms of yesteryear… The last ‘new’ musicians to really excite me were minimal techno acts like Plastikman and Panasonic, but for the past ten years there has been nothing that has really got me going in the same way. So is contemporary music losing its edge? I don’t mean indie wank, which was always rubbish, I mean chart records and dance tunes. Obviously part of the problem is the older you get the more you’ve heard, so nothing is gonna have the same effect on me as when I first heard You Can’t Sit Down by The Phil Upchurch Combo when I was 12 years-old (more than a decade after it was recorded) or Get It On by T. Rex when I was 9 (when it hit the charts).
Asked the other day what I’d like in terms of entertainment at an event to promote the Semina series of books I’m editing, I said The Flirtations – who these days are based in London and advertise themselves as for hire. Turns out they cost three thousand quid for an hour show, which is way beyond our budget, so as compensation I’ve got the b-side/album track How Can You Tell Me? blasting out right now. I was just reading back through this blog before posting and now I’m onto Once I Had A Love on the Sounds Like The Flirtations album, and that is just such a groove too! I still go nuts for music but the new stuff ain’t doing it for me no more… why?
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-04-06 05:23:24 +0000

Gordon Lightfoot! The other day I was listening to Steel Rail Blues and Alberta Bound. Then again, I’m Canadian so it’s mandatory.

Comment by K Mail on 2009-04-06 09:16:52 +0000

Something wrong here, no mention of Prince or JB! Let’s hear it for the hardest working man in show business, Mister James Brown!

Comment by Bruce Wayne on 2009-04-06 10:00:35 +0000

Holy turntables do it do it, Robin, not a single show tune mentioned in this blog! So our taste in music isn’t represented at all!

Comment by Nobody Here But Us Chickens on 2009-04-06 10:21:16 +0000

I’ve never recoved from seeing Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs on Top of the Pops as a small child. “It’s a warm day The sun is shining Someone says Let’s go to Brighton”.

Comment by Vincent Dawn on 2009-04-06 12:48:09 +0000

That Damned/Coxhill record is disappointingly flat – but what else do expect from a Nick Mason production? As for new music, so much of it just sounds like a diluted version of the good stuff from the past. Whenever I hear a new dance or electronica record I think ‘ this could easily have come out ten years ago’. Some of the grime/dubstep sounds cool. As for me, i just listen to Devo all the time.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-04-06 13:51:12 +0000

Agree with you about Music For Pleasure, and yes presumably Nick Mason was to blame, but the sounds of it he was happier talking about motor racing to the band than trying to get a rockin’ sound. Give me Nick ‘Basher’ Lowe, whose approach of getting a pretty much live performance and then getting the right mix after struck me as the right one for uptempo records… I also agre about the grime/dupstep, loads of it sounds great in a club but as I’ve said before I can’t be arsed to get the records it coz aside from improved production it could easily have been made in the 1990s….

Comment by Mike Smith on 2009-04-06 14:40:54 +0000

I’m legally forbidden from mentioning the Dave Clark Five in my advertising, but since I’m dead I’d like to see them sue me! Anyway just wondering why there is no mention here of hits like “Glad All Over” and “Bits and Pieces” which I co-wrote don’t forget. Your blog would read a lot better with a section on the Tottenham Sound and an appreciation of the way that torch was passed from the DC5 to Mike Smith’s Rock Engine.

Comment by Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones on 2009-04-06 14:43:18 +0000

And no Johnny Ray even though you know very well his big hits were re-released in the eighties. He’s the original gangsta!

Comment by jim seventies on 2009-04-06 14:58:53 +0000

I think it’s computers – hardly any good players anymore, hardly anyone plays anything all the way thu when recording – and music just don’t fit on a matrix

Comment by Tom Jones on 2009-04-06 15:25:02 +0000

Tom cats you know where it’s at… oops wrong split personality! It gets so confusing having 33 separate split personalities!

Comment by Janie Jones on 2009-04-06 16:40:16 +0000

I’m in love with rock and roll wooah!

Comment by Ray Stevens on 2009-04-06 17:28:26 +0000

Reporter: Hello, everybody, this is your action news reporter with all the news that is news across the nation, on the scene at the supermarket. There seems to have been some disturbance here. Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?
Witness: Yeah, I did. I’s standin’ overe there by the tomaters, and here he come, running through the pole beans, through the fruits and vegetables, nekkid as a jay bird. And I hollered over t’ Ethel, I said, “Don’t look, Ethel!” But it’s too late, she’d already been incensed.

Comment by Ryan Gander on dope on 2009-04-06 19:07:45 +0000

Music? What’s that?

Comment by jim seventies on 2009-04-06 23:31:00 +0000

I don’t think any of you are taking the subject seriously

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-04-07 01:29:37 +0000

It usually takes days to get decent comments on here… and it usually requires Michael K to lay off the goofballs for at least 48 hours…..

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-04-07 02:40:29 +0000

EEEEEEEEEEK! The Gordon Lightfoot reference has evoked nightmares from my daze in Vancouver, being subjected to the “Canadian Content” regulations. But at least you weren’t torturing your tympanic membranes with “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” or ANYTHING by Andy Kim, for that matter…
At the risk of sounding like a nostalgic curmudgeon, for the most part, contemporary music has indeed lost its edge. Of course, I only listen to it when I’m forced to at the grocery store, gym, etc, but what I have heard is painfully dreadful. The issue honestly doesn’t concern me, though, because there’s a plethora of spectacular tunage that was created long before I materialized on planet Earth – so much I couldn’t possibly absorb it all, and believe me, I’ve been trying for years…
On a related note, I achieved euphoric coalescence with a treadmill this morning while absorbing N.W.A.’s debut album, which blew my 17 year old, PCP-soaked mind(s) the first time I heard it at a drug house in Compton, coincidentally. And 20 plus years later, it STILL does the trick…
Currently listening to Tom’s (Garretson, NOT Anderson) yummy instrumental selections from the collab he did with Annie Sprinkle last year…
Am I me? Or a klone?

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-04-07 02:44:02 +0000


Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-04-07 05:09:14 +0000

NWA’s first album is great! My friend used to play it in his dorm and it freaked out the frat boys (this was in the late 80s). Get the karaoke machine so I can bust my ill version of Straight outta Compton.
Hey don’t pick on Gordon Lightfoot! What about those other horrible bands that got airplay due to CanCon regulations – remember Moxy Fruvous, or Glass Tiger, or Gowan or Terry Jacks. The Horror, the horror! I can’t continue because I now have their music looping through my brain! See, Gordon Lightfoot doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Comment by Roxanne’s Doctor - The Real Man on 2009-04-07 09:15:30 +0000

The Roxanne, Roxanne War is a well-known series of hip hop rivalries during the mid 1980s, yielding perhaps the most answer records in history. It arose from a dispute over a failed appearance at a radio promotional show. There were two Roxannes in question, Roxanne Shanté and The Real Roxanne.

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-04-07 10:07:51 +0000

I used to adore Adrienne Posta. As a kid saw her all the time in my local newsagents in Highgate. I spent hours in there gazing at all the Gallery5 cards and stickers. Remember them?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-04-07 10:51:08 +0000

Can’t place the Gallery 5, but Adrienne Posta was a good actress, and not bad as a singer either. A true professional entertainer… I heard she is retired now and working as a school teacher in the Midlands or something….

Comment by Alexander Laforge on 2009-04-07 15:19:31 +0000

Some more modern sounds you may enjoy!
The Libertines – S/t CD – some great anthems, reminiscent of the Clash at thier best but with some excellent poetry and intelligent, playful allusions to a wider knowledge of ancient mythology.
Bruce Springsteen – Magic – a return to form, and with a good, clear political message
Arcade Fire – Funeral – off-beat pop at its most ennervatingly experimental

Comment by The Man Who Knows on 2009-04-07 16:37:20 +0000

Ha ha ha! The first is indie wank and the second is beneath contempt, as for the third… well let’s not go there….

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-04-07 16:46:31 +0000

Terry Jacks = Triple EEEEEEEEEEK!
And you forgot to mention Anne Murray…

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-04-08 04:58:10 +0000

Dire, as you know, Anne Murray is like a saint, or a leper, – untouchable. The Anne Murray mafia would get me if I ever so much as intimated a negative remark. So thanks for putting me in an awkward position. I DO have to live in this country.
Also, that Andy Kim video was too much – I’ve been humming Rock Me Gently ever since! AAHHHHH!

Comment by Annalisa on 2009-04-08 15:18:05 +0000

Bring back the mullet! And the leisure suit!

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-04-09 16:15:28 +0000

I thought I had a few shameful records stashed in my generally uber-coll record collection, but Neil Diamond?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-04-09 19:30:24 +0000

Early Neil Diamond is a groove sensation, what a song writer! Why else where the Monkees doing his tunes!

Comment by Howling Wizard Shrieking Toad on 2009-04-10 07:14:03 +0000

The 20th century is well behind us, but we have not yet learned to live in the 21st, or at least to think in a way that fits it. That should not be as difficult as it seems, because the basic idea that dominated economics and politics in the last century has patently disappeared down the plughole of history. I was playing a bunch of old records today, and wondering why I don’t hear so many new ones that really groove me.This was the way of thinking about modern industrial economies, or for that matter any economies, in terms of two mutually exclusive opposites: capitalism or socialism.Next I put on the first Damned album and that sounded pretty good too.
Throughout the text I assume that the reader understands that while the movements I am writing about situated themselves in opposition to consumer capitalism, they also emerged out of societies based on such a mode of organisation and thus do not entirely escape the logic of the market place. This is particularly obvious in relation to the obsession many of them display over the concept of innovation, which reflects perfectly the waste inherent in a society based on planned obsolescence.

Comment by Terry Thomas on 2009-04-10 14:00:22 +0000

I say! Yes! Neil Diamond is simply terrific. ‘Love on the rocks’ and all that. Pip pip and all that? What!

Comment by Joe Hill on 2009-04-13 07:54:30 +0000

Industrial Workers of the World (Cambridge) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: 07532456799 9 April 2009
E-mail: cambridge@iww.org.uk
Raise Money for Fired American Lorry Drivers
The Industrial Workers of the World (Cambridge) will mark May Day, the International Workers Day, by hosting a celebratory gig at the Man on the Moon pub, Norfolk St., Cambridge. Music will start at 7:30pm and we will be asking for £3/£5 on the door.
Any profits made from this gig will be going to our union’s Independent Truckers Campaign in North Carolina and Virginia, USA, and specifically to fired IWW members victimised for their union activities, as well as their families.
Bands will include Burwell punk band Dehumanise, East London industrial dance crew Inqalab and Cambridge folk group Revolutionary Discipline.
“We will be joining our fellow workers around the world in celebrating our successful struggles, remembering our fallen martyrs and demonstrating our continued our continuing intent to create a better world,” says Sam Wade, Communications Secretary.
The IWW is an international union for all workers. We were founded in 1905 in Chicago, USA, and in our more than 100-year long history have fought for industrial unionism, direct action and workers’ power.
# # #
If you would like more information about this May Day event please call our Communications Secretary Sam Wade at 07532456799 or e-mail us at cambridge@iww.org.uk.
If you would like more information about the Independent Truckers Campaign, call the IWW Freight Truckers Organising Committee at +12243537189 or e-mail the FTOC at freighttruckers@gmail.com

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