Monday, 30 January 2012

Dr Who: ear-worms and the agony of lost vinyl.

It's impossible to escape Dr Who in my house. My daughter is the Doctor's number one fan. She has got over the trauma of David Tennant's demise and is now madly in love with Matt Smith (she IS only 12 so discernment will hopefully come later!) She will replay episodes she's seen dozens of times before at any and every opportunity. Which probably explains why the Dr Who theme is the tune I end up with as an ear-worm more often than any other.  As an aside, the other ear-worm I seem to suffer from most frequently is the Push-Bike Song, which is disturbing because it's one of the most atrocious records ever made.

Thankfully I like the Dr Who theme. It reminds me of my childhood; a time when Saturday evening TV really seemed worth watching without the danger of your intelligence being insulted by some pseudo-celebrity bollocks like X-Factor, Strictly or whatever the current cack is that they choose to inflict on us up today. Perhaps that's just me viewing retro-TV with rose tinted glasses, but there must be something in it when I'd rather watch re-runs of the Generation Game with unfunny racist knobhead Jim Davidson than the shite served up today. 

I had the original version by Ron Grainger & Delia Derbyshire on a BBC EP years ago but sadly have no idea what happened to it; just one of the many records I now bitterly regret having lost, given away or sold over the years. Perhaps it's in the box of records in my sister's loft which she won't let me look at for some reason. Don't tell her, but next time she leaves me the keys to feed the cats while she's away I'm off up there with a stepladder.

Perhaps it's due to the sense of loss I feel at losing that old EP that I'm particularly fond of this version of the Dr Who theme by Devon's finest The Simmertones:

Whilst idly searching You Tube one night I also found this beauty, which I subsequently bought on vinyl (the B-side is pretty bloody good too):

And to complete the trio and ease the pain of long-lost vinyl further I've just spent 79p on this cracker from Smerins Anti-Social Club:

The Smerins version is getting a play on my SFR show this Saturday; I might even get carried away & play all three! If you fancy getting them for yourself here's the links: The Simmertones, Sandollar Sound & Smerins. I can especially recommend the Simmertones album; it's bloody brilliant and that's not me being biased - I'd say the same even if they were from Cornwall. I'm off to eBay now to search for BBC EP's. If anyone spots the Smerins version on vinyl please let me know. You can tell it's payday tomorrow!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

SFR Soundsystem 28012012

Had to do some serious chopping to get tonight's playlist inside 2 hours! Got a bit carried away & had 10 minutes' too much music, meaning tracks from Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker & Madness were shunted to next week's playlist. The playlist tends to reflect what I've been listening to or bought in the week so there are new tracks from The Skints & Hollie Cook plus a fair smattering of classic skinhead reggae. Also played The Specials & The Beat back to back - an explanation as to why can be found here. Despite my best efforts to curb my OCD I couldn't resist having 3 Scorchers to kick the show off!
  1. Toots & the Maytals - She's My Scorcher
  2. Prince Buster - The Scorcher
  3. Des All Stars AKA The Rudies - Black Scorcher
  4. Hollie Cook - Walking in the Sand
  5. London Ska Orchestra - I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor
  6. The Skints - On A Mission
  7. Fighting Evil Is Cool - Brain Salad
  8. The Caroloregians - Rude Is Here To Stay
  9. Mr T-Bone & the Young Lions - Then I Saw You
  10. Marcia Griffiths - Feel Like Jumping
  11. Pluto Shervington - Ram Goat Liver
  12. Joya Landis - Angel of the Morning
  13. The Specials - Do Nothing
  14. The Beat - Too Nice To Talk To
  15. The Selecter - Celebrate the Bullet
  16. The Senior All Stars - Monk Patrol Dub
  17. Augustus Pablo - Dub Organiser
  18. The Skatalites - Phoenix City
  19. Bedouin Soundclash - Rude Boy Don't Cry
  20. Rude City Riot - Victoria
  21. The Determinations - Cooked Ska
  22. Oi Skall Mates - Skinhead Running
  23. Cool Sticky & the Upsetters - Dry Acid
  24. Joe Nolan & his Band - Cool it with Reggae
  25. Ansel Collins - Double or Nothing
  26. APB - Yani
  27. Jimmy the Squirrel - This One's For You
  28. 3 Minute Warning - In Your Face
  29. King Stitt - Lee Van Cleef
  30. The Crafters - Soul Crackshot
  31. Bad Manners - Special Brew
  32. Too Hot - Lovely Day
  33. The Aggrolites - The Sufferer
  34. Bombskare - Bondtrack
  35. The Toasters - Secret Agent Man
  36. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Soul Almighty
  37. Desmond Dekker - Problems
  38. Derrick Morgan - (What a) Revenge

Lost & Found

What it is with bloody cats? 
No sooner has one been found... 

...than another little bleeder goes missing:
I didn't take either of these pictures. Neither did I make this video:
Or this one:

Thursday, 26 January 2012

2-Tone: One - BBC: Nil. TOTP 18th Dec 1980

I've just finished reading Horace Panter's book Ska'd For Life. The subtitle is 'A Personal Journey With The Specials', and a bloody good read it is too. It gives a great insight into how it felt to be part of one of the greatest bands of all time; the band that led the 2 Tone revolution - the best thing to happen to British music since The Beatles split & stopped inflicting their pretentious pap pop on the world. 

Ok, I know I'm biased. I also know some folks will think I'm blaspheming by slagging off the Beatles. I'm forever hearing & reading how influential they were, how important they were, how revolutionary they were and so on, and on, and on ad infinitum. I can conceded all those things but the fact is I just don't like them. No need for me to justify that; music is subjective - get over it! 

Sorry, I digress. Back to The Specials & Mr Panter's fine book. As well as his take on the 'bigger picture' of the band's all-too-brief career, there's some cracking little anecdotes. My favourite has to be him & The Beat's Dave Steele swapping places to mime their way through performances of Do Nothing & Too Nice To Talk To on Top of the Pops. I was going to copy out the text from the book & put it here but I've just read the copyright bit at the front & thought better of it - I'd hate to be sued by a Special! Anyway, grab a copy of the book if you fancy a decent read & here's the clips from TOTP with the Horace & Dave Cultural Exchange Scheme in full effect!

Footnote: Horace Panter is now an artist. Now I'm a complete Luddite when it comes to paintings & art but I really like his paintings. Check out the Horace Panter Art website. You can also follow @horacepanterart on Twitter.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

SFR Soundsystem 21012012

Playlist for tonight's show. The usual mix of new & old ska but with a soulful groove to get the show going. Been listening to a lot of Japanese ska this week & played a few J-Ska tunes in the show. My show usually goes out at 8pm but I started at 11pm tonight. Not used to concentrating at that time of night - hence it being somewhat chaotic in places (my excuse & I'm sticking to it!) Hope you enjoyed listening.
  1. Soul Shakedown Party - Bob Marley & the Wailers
  2. Green Onions - Byron Lee
  3. Soul Finger - Roland Alphonso
  4. Time is Tight - The Heptones
  5. Ska Champion - The Determinations
  6. Smart Boy - The Akrylykz
  7. Kingston Affair - Dave Barker & the Selecter
  8. Bangin' on the Wall - The Communicators
  9. Pipe Down - The JB Conspiracy
  10. Fuck You too - Dubfound
  11. Ten Commandments - Prince Buster
  12. Tommy's Rocksteady - Tommy McCook & the Supersonics
  13. Midnight Ska - Reggie Msomi's Hollywood Jazz Band
  14. Sadness - Oi Skall Mates
  15. On The Town - Madness
  16. Stand Down Margaret (dub) - The Beat
  17. Bankrobber - The Clash *
  18. Good One Go - The Amphetameanies
  19. Sammy dead - The Simmertones
  20. The Ballad of Lloyd Knibb - Bombskare
  21. Addis Ababa - The Skatalites
  22. Drum Song - Sound Dimension
  23. Duck Soup - Drumbago All Stars
  24. Tribute to Drumbago (AKA Last Call) - The Dynamites
  25. Ten Commandments From Woman To Man - Prince Buster
  26. Rough & Tough - Stranger Cole
  27. Reggae 69 - Boss 501
  28. Body bag - Los Furios
  29. Your Boss DJ - Dice The Boss
  30. Dollar in the Teeth - The Upsetters
  31. Mars Invasion - The Soulsteppers
  32. Annie Pama - Bunny Lee All Stars
  33. Bigger Boss - Ansel Collins
  34. Bellevue Special - Don Drummond
  35. Loosen Up - Rude Bones
  36. Four Seasons of the Year - King Edward Allstars
  37. Down Beat Stomp - Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
* The Clash song was not on my original playlist - my niece requested and although I don't do requests once I've set the playlist, it was her 18th birthday so I made an exception! I had planned to play Friday Night, Saturday Morning by The Specials. However, while listening to it the thought occurred to me how well Bankrobber sat with Stand Down Margaret; the banks are robbing us blind & we have a Maggie clone in number 10 and God knows I want him to stand down (or at least keep his thieving mitts off my pension!)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Can't you read the signs?

I first came across this tune when I was idly searching the web for tunes that had been sampled by Fat Boy Slim. I'm not the world's biggest fan of Fat Boy (or FBS, as I'm sure he's known to acronym-loving trendy yoof types) but I do like a lot of his tunes. He's often sampled snatches of tracks that I consider classics; the Just Brothers' Sliced Tomatoes & Take Yo' Praise by Camille Yarborough being two that spring to mind immediately and what he produces is certainly a cut above most sampled efforts. 

So, anyway, I was listening to Fat Boy's Don't Let The Man Get You Down and looked up where the sample came from. It's from Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band, a bunch of late 60's / early 70's Canadian hippies singing about being frustrated by 'the man' and his signs telling them what to do & what not to do. I like it - the lyrics are clever, the tune catchy & I've got some sympathy with the sentiment.

I also think it's got some relevance today. The hippy era of flower-powered idealism seems to have given way to a  more cynical and apathetic world view from the majority of people, yet there are still those who rail against 'the man' and his life-restricting signs. The majority of internet users will blissfully carry on posting pic's of their lunch on Twitter ("nom nom"; possibly the most nauseatingly pointless tweets you will ever read), or spreading gossip & flirting on Facebook. There are many, however, who are tweeting, posting, virtually screaming against SOPA - 'the man's' latest attempt at getting us to follow the signs & behave ourselves. 

I'm no expert on SOPA; lack of time and a similar lack of intellect prevent me from understanding the complete legal implications of the Stop Online Piracy Act being pushed through what passes for 'justice' system of America. But it does seem to me that if this bill is passed, what I'm doing here - sharing a bit of music with you - will be illegal. The bill seems designed to prevent people from sharing, not just targeting those who make money out of ripping off record labels & film studios through piracy, but also those of us with a passion for music or film and who just want to share that passion with like-minded people. I've knocked up a few videos from time to time and put them on YouTube; not to make money (I have resisted their repeated invitations for me to 'monetise' my account) but just because I've found & enjoyed something and wanted to show it to others. Does that make me a criminal? I don't think so, but 'the man' pushing SOPA would disagree.

The really ironic thing about it all in my opinion is that the people who seem to be pushing hardest for this bill are the very people who have been getting rich for decades by ripping off bands, actors, writers and the public. I try not to be too pessimistic, but I've got a feeling that there's too much big money behind this bill for the protests of internet users to hold any sway, but I would urge you to sign the petitions, tweet & post your objections, involve your online friends and acquaintances, but above all, don't stop sharing. The bands who made the music we love didn't make it to line the pockets of record company executives - they made it for us.

So let me share these two with you - my small act of defiance against SOPA!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

SFR Soundsystem 14012012

No special theme for tonight's show - just great ska, dub & reggae all the way! Played some of the newer music I've heard & enjoyed recently plus tons of old faves.
  1. The Brass Action - Kiss My Brass
  2. The Harmonians - Music Street
  3. The Victors - Reggae Buddy
  4. The Bullets - Hotter Reggae
  5. Lee Perry - Dub Revolution
  6. Kruder & Dorfmeister - Night Nurse
  7. Pama International - Justified Dub
  8. Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra - Guns Fever (rough mix from new album)
  9. Madness - Razor Blade Alley
  10. The Cundeez - One Step Beyond
  11. Bang the Skillet - Life Is Good
  12. The Upsessions - Ease Up Adina
  13. Bazzookas - Indewegger
  14. The Supatones - Mice In The Cellar
  15. Jimmy the Squirrel - Music We Throw
  16. Catch-It Kebabs - Nazi Paparazzi
  17. Nora Dean - Barbwire
  18. Prince Buster - Pussy Cat Bite Me
  19. Dave Barker - Wet Version
  20. Max Romeo - Melting Pot
  21. 2 Tone Runts -  It's Not Funny
  22. The Specials - Why?
  23. The Scarletz - Messed Up
  24. 1 Stop Experience - Mentally Ska'd
  25. Urkel & the Winslows - Joyride
  26. Five Iron Frenzy - Fistful Of Sand
  27. The Pietasters - Anj Gil
  28. Ed Rome - March
  29. Urang Matang - Boy Are You A Man Yet?
  30. Bad Manners - Sally Brown
  31. Mr Symarip - Wang Yu
  32. John Holt - Ali Baba
  33. Jackie Mitto - Sidewalk Doctor
  34. Desmond Dekker - Music Like Dirt (Intensified)
  35. Toots & the Maytals - Night & Day

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Girobabies - Bus Stop Apocalypse

When I hear a pretentious wine poser sniffing their plonk & saying 'I'm getting oak, vanilla & hints of Gaviscon' I wonder if I'm missing something; all I could ever smell was wine. Besides, when was wine for analysing & not just for drinking? Sniffing the stuff & pontificating is missing the point, some things are just better being ingested & enjoyed. The Girobabies new album is one such thing. Sniffing wine, all I get is wine - listening to Bus Stop Apocalypse, all I get is The Girobabies. There may be hints of other bands in there but if you listen with the intention to analyse the influences & make comparisons you're missing the point.
This isn't an album to listen to when you're in love with the world & haven't a care. It probably isn't one for the car stereo, unless you feel your driving could do with a harder, more aggressive edge to it. This is music for the days when the lies & deceit of politicians have you mad as hell, when the garbage being spewed from your telly is making you wretch, when working for some faceless pricks with no souls has you reaching for the scotch, when the pretentious wine sniffers of this world makes you want to punch someone. 
It's not often you listen to an album first time & know exactly where it fits in with the rest of your music; this has gone straight in next to Joy Division & Killing Joke on the playlist reserved for those dark moods that need feeding & that I don't want to get lifted out of. It's fair to say this won't get played as often as some albums, but when I'm in the right mood for Bus Stop Apocalypse it'll be played loud and repeatedly. Recommended - have a listen for yourself.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

SFR Soundsystem 07012012

Tonight's show seemed to go down well, I certainly enjoyed it! But then I'd enjoy sitting playing tunes for 2 hours even if nobody else was listening. Played an hour of ska covers - categorically proving that anything can be improved by ska - even a Phil Collins song can sound good with the application of ska! Also played some cracking new tunes; huge thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions & to the bands who sent me tunes to play. Enough waffle, here's the list:
  1. Bombskare - Mean Mr Mustard / Polythene Pam (The Beatles)
  2. The Beat - Can't Get Used To Losing You (Andy Williams)
  3. Reel Big Fish - Take On Me (Aha)
  4. The Busters - Don't Worry Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin)
  5. The Moon Invaders - All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers)
  6. The Trojans - Keep On Running (Spencer Davis Group)
  7. Prince Buster - Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd)
  8. Rico - Take Five (Dave Brubeck)
  9. The Pyramids - Telstar (The Tornados)
  10. The Ska-Dows - Apache (The Shadows)
  11. The Scofflaws - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Ennio Morricone)
  12. The Riffs - Peter Gunn Theme (Henry Mancini)
  13. Bombskare - I Feel Fine (The Beatles)
  14. Ska Daddyz - Hotel California (The Eagles)
  15. Streetlight Manifesto - Me & Julio (Paul Simon)
  16. Smoke Like A Fish - Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
  17. Save Ferris - Come On Eileen (Dexys)
  18. Crunch - Fur Elise (Beethoven!)
  19. Little Roy - Come As You Are (Nirvana)
  20. Reel Big Fish - Another Day In Paradise (Phil Collins)
  21. The Simmertones - Dr Who Theme
  22. 1 Stop Experience - Headless Chicken
  23. Too Spicy - Ruthless Killah
  24. Jimmy Cliff - Guns Of Brixton
  25. Bum Ruckus - What's Your Sign
  26. The Maytals - Monkey Man
  27. Dirty Pikies - Work In Progress
  28. Fighting Evil Is Cool - Life In Magazines
  29. 1 Stop Experience - Didn't Listen
  30. The Nomarks - A Place In The Sun
  31. Stop Press! - A Man Called Rich
  32. The Begbies - Off The Cuff
  33. Sandollar Sound - Crop Circle
  34. Sir Lord Comic - Lon Chaney
  35. Sonic Boom Six - For The Kids Of the Multiculture
  36. The Specials - Racist Friend
Thanks to all who listened in. If you missed it you can get the podcast or stream it on the SFR mixlr page. Please check out some of the links - there's some cracking new ska out there & these bands deserve to be heard. Any tips of other bands you'd like to hear on SFR gratefully received as always. Cheers, Rich

SFR Soundsystem - NYE Playlist

I've been asked to put the play-lists for my radio shows up on here with links to the tunes & bands that I've played. I'll attempt to do this as soon after a show as I can but am not making any promises!
This is the playlist for my show on New Year's Eve, a sort of best of 2011 / seasonal music mash-up:
  1. Bombskare - Fistful of Dynamite
  2. New Town Kings - Dynamite
  3. Stop Press! - English Life
  4. The Toasters - Little Drummer Boy
  5. Booker T. & the M.G.s - Winter Wonderland
  6. James Brown - Soulful Christmas
  7. The Plimptons - Christmas is Over
  8. The Begbies - Ballad
  9. Sandollar Sound - Dr Who
  10. The Simmertones - A Little Time
  11. Too Hot - Bacardi & Gin
  12. The Aggrovators - Santa Claus Dub
  13. Drewvis - These 3 Words
  14. The Upsessions - Reggae Below the Belt
  15. The Cundeez - Keyboard Gangsters
  16. Grand Magneto - Tainted Love
  17. The Cundeez - Haggis Man
  18. Wank - Auld Lang Syne
  19. Irma Thomas - Anyone Who Knows What love Is (Will Understand)
Let me know if any of the links don't work. If you fancy a tune playing on my show you can tweet me: @Zeng1nTepe or just leave a comment below. Cheers, Rich

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dickie Pride, The Sheik of Shake

Just a short post with a clip of Dickie Pride performing Slippin' n Slidin' on Oh Boy! from 1959. Not the type of music I usually blog about but what a performer! He crams a hell of a lot into this minute & a half version of one of his few hits. Dickie Pride's story is a heart-breaking & sobering tale of talent unfulfilled and a life cut tragically short. He was part of Larry Parnes' stable of rock 'n' rollers and an early example of the music industry chewing up and spitting out a sensitive soul whose talent outmatched his ability to endure. There is a very good blog post on the Black Cat Rockabilly site which I'd recommend but I'll just leave this post here with this wonderful clip:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year - New Music

One of the delights of having my humble little radio show is that I have listeners who share my love of finding and sharing new music with others. That's how I got to know about Stop Press! and The Begbies. I owe a huge debt of thanks to Bezzy & to Terry for putting me on to these two bands. They're new, fresh, distinctive and fun. What more could you ask for? Both released singles / EP's just before Christmas & I snapped them both up. I recommend you do the same - bands making music like this are the perfect antidote to the bland, manufactured rubbish that dominates mainstream radio, TV & the tabloids. I've played both bands on SFR and they always go down really well. These are people making music for the love of it & they deserve all the airplay, tweeting, blogging & listening they can get! Don't just take my word for it, have a listen & enjoy!

So, thank you Terry & Bezzy and long may the tips keep coming! 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Am I bothered?

Well, yes. I am bothered, but I'm not entirely sure why so I'm going to try to reason it out. What's bothering me is my instinctive reaction to finding out that a band who make pretty bloody good music are Christians. Why should that bother me? I saw a post on Facebook saying that the band Five Iron Frenzy were back together. I'd never heard of them so didn't know they'd split, but my attention was caught by a comment on the post by a musician I follow on FB & Twitter. He mentioned one of the band's tracks so I thought I'd look it up. Here it is:
Good tune, decent bass line & some brass; usually something I'd like & I did when I heard it. In fact I've just played it again & enjoyed it. So I had a little search for other tunes from them and in the process came across references to their faith. Suddenly I wasn't so keen. But why? Why should it matter what their faith is? I like to think of myself as a tolerant person & although I'd never broadcast what my own faith (or lack of) is, I have no problem with anyone else's beliefs. I also strongly believe music can and should have a political edge to it. I wrote an earlier post lamenting the lack of social or political commentary in today's popular music. So why should a band making music that proclaims their faith be any different? Surely a political ideology that you feel strongly about is no different than a religious belief. So am I truly the tolerant individual I thought I was? I despise racism and bigotry of any kind, yet found myself instinctively wanting to dislike a band because they were described as a 'Christian ska band', in much the same way I instinctively hate scum like Skrewdriver and their hate-filled neo-nazi fans.
Five Iron Frenzy's wiki page states that they typically 'refrained from using their set as a platform to preach to the crowds'. The band's own website isn't overtly Christian and the imagery they employ certainly doesn't strike me as particularly Christian. I had a look at their lyrics and although they do reference their faith they certainly aren't 'in your face' about it. They address social issues & injustices too, again something I'd usually applaud. So why am I so bothered by them? To be honest I don't know. I like their sound. I'm no fan of Christian music generally; I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of 'Christian' bands are simply not good enough to make an impression in the mainstream market so proclaim themselves Christian because they know Christian music fans will overlook their shortcomings and buy their records anyway. I'm certainly not accusing Five Iron Frenzy of this, whether their faith is genuine or not is none of my business & they're accomplished enough musically.
Unfortunately I haven't come up with any answers as to why I didn't want to like them. If I played them on my SFR show I'm fairly sure nobody would switch off in disgust. It's troubled me enough to prompt this post, which hasn't helped me work it out in the slightest! Any ideas?

Postscript: I did play the tune on my show. The devil didn't steal my soul but similarly the sky didn't open to reveal the Rapture. Not sure why I had such an issue with it; I think each-to-their-own might be the best policy. Nobody complained. However... had I played this I think I may well have had a few adverse comments (do at least try not to laugh):