Monday, 15 October 2018

El go-go

What a hideous change in the weather - from balmy to maelstrom in just 24 hours. On Saturday night I was sat outside in shorts after 10pm. Yesterday, it was utterly foul, wet and gloomy, and this morning is much and the same. I hate getting up in the dark, but such is our lot from now until March...

Enough of the dankness - on this Tacky Music Monday we have something special from Spain to cheer us up. Señorita Silvana [or Sylvana; nobody seems to know how she actually spelt her name] Velasco (for it is she) was a teen singer who rose to fame in the mid-60s, just when the French yé-yé style of go-go-pop was at its height. She had a few successes at the time, mainly with covers of songs by artists such as Dusty Springfield, Sandy Shaw and Petula Clark, but, according to the Ready Steady Girls website [the font of all knowledge in such matters:
"Theoretically, Silvana was the perfect yé-yé singer. She was already known to the public for her films, and her prettiness and up-to-the-minute fashion sense caught the eye of young and old alike. However, her sexiness failed to translate musically..."
Regardless, what I do know, is that whether or not she hit the "big time", her legacy certainly appears camp as old tits. On this Tacky Music Monday, let's yé-yé!

That's better.

Have a good week, dear reader!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Do you want to feel how it feels?

Yesterday was apparently National Album Day, and was heavily promoted by the BBC (of course). I missed it, being somewhat occupied at John-John's "film show" yesterday, at which we were treated to a mammoth "Marvel-fest": back-to-back viewings of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Age of Ultron - a faboo day, indeed!

The best disco in town

However, let's make up for it, a day late. I thought I'd treat you, dear reader, to a little snapshot of ten of my all-time-fave albums - and then it's your turn...

I have excluded "Various Artists" anthologies (of course) and "Greatest Hits" collections from this list, so that means that certain albums that were never off my player such as Madonna's Immaculate Collection, Siouxsie & the Banshees Once Upon a Time, The Best of Bowie, and those by Queen, Abba, Bananarama, Dusty Springfield, Amanda Lear, Vicki Carr, X-Ray Spex, Blossom Dearie, Celia Cruz, The Supremes, Dalida, Petula Clark, Noel Coward, Erasure, Eartha Kitt, Max Raabe, Doris Day and so on (and on and on - they're probably the bulk of our music collection) do not count. The same goes for soundtracks, so that's Gypsy, Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray, Moulin Rouge, Cabaret, South Pacific, Chicago, Sweet Charity, Side by Side by Sondheim, Rocky Horror and many more (probably the second-biggest part of our collection) off the list.

However, by a process of whittling down the "long-list" (which included Ofra Haza - Yemenite Songs; Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters; Paul Anka - Rock Swings; Alison Moyet - Alf; Texas - White on Blonde; Dame Shirley Bassey - Performance; Elaine Stritch - Stritch; Freemasons - Unmixed; and Human League - Dare), here is my Top Ten (not in strict order of preference):

10: Beautiful South - Blue is the Colour.
There is not a single duff track on this delightful - and the band's most popular - album. Top tracks: Artificial Flowers, Blackbird on the Wire, Alone, Don't Marry Her (Fuck Me), and this one:

09: Kylie Minogue - Light Years.
The ultimate party album; it includes On a Night Like This, Disco Down, Loveboat, Kids (with Robbie Williams), Please Stay, Spinning Around, the wonderful title track, and this - the "Gay National Anthem"!

08: Blondie - Parallel Lines.
What can I possibly say about this album that hasn't already been said in droves? It is undoubtedly the one that would feature in just about anybody's Top Ten; it contains no fewer than five mega-hit singles (six were released, but I'm Gonna Love You Too never made the charts) - Sunday Girl, Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone, One Way or Another, Picture This - and also includes this one:

07: Liza Minnelli - Results.
Darling Liza-with-a-zee found herself suddenly back in vogue with this one, thanks to the estimable hit-making talents of the Pet Shop Boys. I loved it when it came out, and love it still. Every track is a winner, including Losing My Mind, Love Pains, Twist in My Sobriety, Don't Drop Bombs, So Sorry, I Said - and this fragile version of a PSB classic:

06: Bronski Beat - Age of Consent.
Coinciding neatly with my own coming-out explosion onto the gay scene in a cloud of pink glitter and poppers, Jimmy Somerville and the boys really broke the mould with this sumptuous array of passion and anger, including the huge hits Smalltown Boy, Why? and I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me (with Marc Almond), as well as Need-a-Man Blues, Love and Money and this:

05: Pet Shop Boys - Actually
Yes, them again. The Boys were probably the biggest thing to come out of the UK throughout the late '80s and early '90s; their music was everywhere, and they worked with loads of other favourite artists (cf Miss Minnelli at #7 on this very list, as well as Dusty Springfield, Patsy Kensit, Queen Madge (on Sorry), Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue (In Denial), David Bowie, Tina Turner (Confidential), Boy George and Pete Burns). But this album, in my opinion, was their finest hour. Every track here is a classic - from the opener One More Chance to the closing number Kings Cross (which was an "earworm" for me just the other day), via Shopping, Rent, What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty), It's a Sin, and another eternal fave:

04: Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.
There never was before, and will never be another band quite like Soft Cell. The combination of Northern Soul, Marc Almond's tearfully-broken-diva vocals, loads of sleaze, and Dave Ball's absolutely-of-the-moment synthesizers was an instantaneous and massive hit both sides of the pond. It is the magnum opus of synth-pop, against which those who followed would be judged [Nine Inch Nails, Goldfrapp, Suede, Róisin Murphy, Scissor Sisters; they all owe Marc and Dave some debt for their own success] - with such world-conquering numbers as Tainted Love, Say Hello Wave Goodbye and Bedsitter, as well as Frustration, Entertain Me, Seedy Films, and this controversial classic, I played this album to death!

03: Grace Jones - Nightclubbing.
After spending a large part of the 1970s as a "Disco muse"/Studio 54 icon/art-house model, at the beginning of the '80s Miss Jones truly hit the zeitgeist when she was spotted by Island Records' entrepreneur Chris Blackwell, teamed-up with Sly & Robbie - and this masterpiece [her second for Island, after Warm Leatherette] was the result. Like just about all the albums on this list, every track here could have been a stand-alone single - and indeed, quite a few were, including Walking in the Rain, Demolition Man, I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango), Use Me, Feel Up [the latter two in the US only], and this:

02: David Bowie - Hunky Dory.
An artist who simply must appear in any countdown of the all-time greats, David Bowie is indeed here. As any regular reader will know, Mr Bowie is, was, and always will be my favourite artist of all time. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, I posted a huge and in-depth pair of features on his back catalogue:And following his untimely death I posted a week of Bowie tributes (the final one here has links to the preceding six).

Unsurprisingly, as I have mentioned my love of the album so many times over the years, it is his 1971 masterpiece Hunky Dory [which I described previously thus: "...on balance - even with strong competition from 'Station to Station' - in my opinion it is his greatest album, across a five-decade career"] that is almost-but-not-quite at the top of this list. Its tracklist alone features several of the songs that could be considered "definitive Bowie" - including Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, Queen Bitch and Life on Mars?, and the rest of the album is track after track of masterpieces such as Fill Your Heart, Song for Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Kooks, Quicksand, and the one that contains one of the most-quoted of all his lyrics ("He's chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature"):

01: Kate Bush - Hounds of Love.
David Bowie is indeed considered to be "god" round these parts, but even he is pipped to the post by what is, definitely and definitively, the very best album ever released! [OK, OK, that is in my opinion - others out there will argue for their own, and indeed, as far as "popular" taste may be judged, the likes of Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and - ahem - The Eagles will always appear in such "Top Ten" lists in the meejah. Not in mine.]

Miss Bush began as a bit of a "novelty act" - all unusual and often squeaky vocal warblings and arty "interpretive dance" steps, she became the butt of many a "comedic" impersonation and pastiche - but eventually the British public realised what a fantastic talent she has, and nowadays she couldn't really be higher up the "national treasure" ladder. When she released this work of genius, it had been three years since her last (commercially unsuccessful) album The Dreaming, and no-one had huge expectations of her. Yet it became a massive success, and proved the defining moment of her career - with hits from it such as Cloudbusting, Hounds of Love and The Big Sky. Side two of the album (separately titled The Ninth Wave) included some of her most mysterious yet captivating work on tracks such as And Dream of Sheep, Waking The Witch and Under Ice. However, it was this track, the opening salvo of the double-album, that really was the ground-breaker:

It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, it's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh...

You don't want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I'm tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?
You, it's you and me.
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh...

It's you and me,
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

'C'mon, baby, c'mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C'mon, angel, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let's exchange the experience, oh...'

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

Well, that's quite enough self-indulgence.

What are your favourite albums, dear reader?

Saturday, 13 October 2018


Off to the sunny East End this afternoon to John-John's place for a party-cum-Film-Club!

I anticipate there may be some outside drinking:

...lots of gossip:

...and some frolics!

Can't wait!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Totty du Jour

In the long-gone comedy Someone Like You, Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd were in underwear. As he remembers it: “Men’s drawers have this little slot around the front. My button had come off. I wasn’t hanging out but, looking down, the shorts had flapped open.

“Embarrassed, I explained, ‘My fly was open and you could see everything. Sorry. I apologise. Did you see that during the take?’

“She said, ‘No, I didn’t.’ Then she added, ‘But two takes before I did.’”
Lucky Ashley Judd, I say!

My gorgeous future husband Hugh Jackman is 50 years old today, and is still hotter than all the members of One Direction, or Years & Years, or any of the tweeny singers or so-called "reality-TV-celebrities" around today. And we know a most appropriate song to help him blow his candle...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

...and many happy returns, Mr Hugh Michael Jackman (born 12th October 1968)

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Thought for the day

"Old age is no place for sissies" - Bette Davis.

"All the boys think she's a spy, she's got Bette Davis eyes" - Kim Carnes.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Haunting notes, pizzicato strings

You know you're getting old when... find out that Midge Ure is sixty-five years of age!

Former member of Slik, The Rich Kids and Thin Lizzy, Mr Ure was airlifted into becoming the frontman for Ultravox in 1979 (after their founder and vocalist John Foxx left to go solo) by keyboardist Billy Currie (with whom he had worked as part of Visage with Steve Strange and Rusty Egan). Arriving just at the right time for the rise of the "New Romantics" - a style movement they themselves had partially instigated with Visage - this brand-new incarnation of the band became an instant hit, dominating the charts alongside the likes of Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and Human League.

In 1981 alone, Midge (it's a nickname, from reversing "Jim"; the shortened form of his name) and the boys had a string of reasonably successful chart hits, including Sleepwalk, Passing Strangers, All Stood Still and, of course, this one - notorious as "the nation's favourite Number 1-that-never-was", thanks to the awful novelty song Shaddup You Face by Joe Dolce - it is a classic song that (together with its video, which was largely filmed about as far from its eponymous location as possible, in Covent Garden in the heart of London) just about summed up that brave new musical world...

We walked in the cold air
Freezing breath on a window pane
Lying and waiting
A man in the dark in a picture frame
So mystic and soulful
A voice reaching out in a piercing cry
It stays with you until

The feeling has gone, only you and I
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Ah, Vienna

The music is weaving
Haunting notes, pizzicato strings
The rhythm is calling
Alone in the night as the daylight brings
A cool, empty silence
The warmth of your hand and a cold grey sky
It fades to the distance

The image has gone, only you and I
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Ah, Vienna

This means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Ah, Vienna

Mystic and soulful, indeed.

Many happy returns, James "Midge" Ure OBE (born 10th October 1953)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Food, glorious food?