RIP It Up

Steven Wells was one of the voices of my teenage years. A frustrating, infuriating, cajoling voice maybe, but also a fiercely intelligent one, never afraid to speak out against anything or anyone. Swells, as everyone called him, was openly gay in a world still not comfortable with homosexuality, and he never failed to let you know about it. In fact he never failed to raise his voice about anything. And whilst that could sometimes make him rather irritating, it also meant he said things that no-one else was saying – and often he was right.

Cheer up mate.

Cheer up mate.

What you got with Swells was honesty and integrity. You didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said – and you knew he was sometimes saying things just to wind people up (usually he’d say so) – but you knew it was coming from a real person, with real thoughts inside his rather mad head. I’ll miss him. I’m posting Husker Du’s “New Day Rising” in his honour, because I think it would annoy and enthral him in equal measure. I can see him up in the clouds, little angel wings on his back, shouting “PROPER ROCK made by A PROPER GAY MAN!”.

(Steven Wells died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday 23rd June 2009).

Oh aye, and some other fella passed away too.

The world’s awash with tributes right now. All I’ll say is what I said a few months back – he was hugely talented, and hugely wasted. Rest in peace, old chap.

And Farrah Fawcett too? Bloody hell.

MP3: New Day Rising by Husker Du

MP3: Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson

Buy “Thriller” (CD)

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The Pitchfork 500 Missing List – Part One

When anyone looks through the Pitchfork 500 list, they are bound to go “Yeah, but what about xxx?”, where xxx = the name of favourite band, song, or horrible personal favourite.

Of course, choosing 500 songs and calling them the “best 500 songs” is bound to cause trouble. Of course, people are going to disagree. There’s some personal favourites of mine missing from the list, but I’m not going to start complaining that The Kingsbury Manx’s “Piss Diaries” is missing, because it’s quite obscure, and I’m not really sure that it’s everyone’s cup of tea. So I’m fine with that. But what this series of articles will do is highlight certain songs and artists that I think really should have been on there, because they really are something special, and (importantly) are more influential than certain songs that do appear on the list. I’ll be doing one of these every few months, usually just after I’ve completed a chapter of the Pitchfork 500. By the way, instances where the right artist is in the list with the wrong song are covered in the normal articles.

Today’s list features three bands, all from the UK; two from Manchester, on Factory Records, and one from the London. Those bands are A Certain Ratio, Durutti Column, and Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

Durutti Column – Sketch For Summer (1977)
A Certain Ratio – Flight (1979)
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (1979)

First off, from 1977, is Durutti Column’s “Sketch For Summer”. Durutti Column was Vini Reilly’s band, hailing from Manchester. A painfully thin, fairly reclusive chap, Vini learnt electric guitar at the age of 10 and played with masses of delay, to produce a chiming sound that would go on to influence people as diverse as U2′s The Edge and Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie. His songs were characterised by his trademark echoey, hollowed-out Strat sound, backed up with a drum machine on his earlier songs, and jazz drumming in his later work, and occasional vocals (he sampled Otis Redding to marvellous effect on the song “Otis”).

Vini With His Strat

Vini With His Strat

If you only ever hear one Durutti Column song, it really should be “Sketch For Summer”. Opening his first LP, “The Return Of The Durutti Column”, it kicks off with synthesised birdsong and a doleful drum machine, before starting on the trademark delayed guitar lines. What makes the song such a thing of sheer beauty is the way the arpeggios create a gorgeous choral noise, which disappear almost before you register them, overlain by syncopated, almost harp-like chords.

A Sandpaper Cassette Box

A Sandpaper Cassette Box

One of Factory Record’s earliest releases, it featured a sandpaper sleeve, to scratch the records next to them in the shelves of the record store. Lovely. If you’ve seen the Michael Winterbottom film, “24 Hour Party People”, Durutti Column are the band that always play to about 3 people in the Hacienda.

So why should this be on the list? Because it’s influential. Because it sounded like nothing else at the time. Because it showed that punk meant you could do what you damn well pleased, be it three-chord thrashes or creating a huge orchestral sound from the six strings of your Strat. But most of all, because it’s one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear. Words, who needs them?

Another Factory band, A Certain Ratio were the second to release a record on that label, after the Factory Sampler (featuring Durutti Column). Funny now to think that everyone’s heard of Joy Division now and ACR are largely unknown, but at the time, ACR were just as big1, and tipped by some to be huge. Whilst Joy Division were four skinny white guys from Manchester (or thereabouts) who took the music of Iggy Pop, Television and the Velvet Underground and gave it a special Northern twist, A Certain Ratio were four skinny white guys from Manchester (or thereabouts) who took the music of Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, and Northern Soul and gave it a special Northern twist.

The 1979 Abercrombie And Fitch Catalogue Was Not A Success

The 1979 Abercrombie And Fitch Catalogue Was Not A Success

Joining up with superb drummer Donald Johnson made them. Forcing them to actually learn their instruments properly, they mixed jazz, funk, soul, and Latin with a dour Northern sensibility and created something quite unique. “Flight” is an early example of this. At first, you might almost be mistaken into thinking it’s an odd Joy Division offcut, but then you notice the drumming. Then the fact that the bassline is far too slinky for Peter Hook. The harsh guitar chords have something of disco about them. And the falsetto singing. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

A Certain Ratio showed that with the right attitude, and a seriously talented drummer, you really could mix dark Northern rock up with Salsoul, and Disco, and whatever you fancied. After some early success with “Shack Up”, the band decamped to New York to record the album “To Each”, whereupon they went clubbing and expanded their horizons further. Indeed, they were instrumental in getting ESG to record the classic “Moody” (amongst other tracks) when they found they still had three days of studio time remaining after they’d finished recording.

So, A Certain Ratio deserve to be on here for fully integrating dance sounds into a post-rock framework, far more effectively than the punk-funk by the likes of James Chance and The Pop Group. And being scrawny white-boy funksters, well ahead of the likes of Spandau Ballet. They also feature in 24 Hour Party People, memorably being covered in fake tan by Anthony Wilson. Oh, and Donald Johnson was the drummer famously told by Martin Hannett to “Play that drum bit again, faster but slower”.

Ian Dury was an old hand on the London pub-rock scene, first with his band Kilburn and the High Roads, and then with The Blockheads. They were one of the bands for whom punk was an opportunity to reach audiences that wouldn’t previously have heard them. They, and their record label, Stiff, grabbed it with both hands.

Dury himself was a product of the grammar school system, with something of a mixed upbringing, crippled on one side of his body from childhood polio2. He was a devastatingly good lyricist, as you can tell just from his song titles: “Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll” (“\are very good indeed”, goes the song), “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”, with the immortal couplet: “Einstein can’t be classed as witless\He claimed atoms were the littlest\When you did a bit of splitt-li-ness\Frightened everybody shitless”. He spoke, rather than sang, the lines, in a droll, broad Cockney accent, with his band playing mean pub-rock, influenced by ska and everything else going on at the time. Plus, having been around for a while, they could actually play, which usually helps.

“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” was their first number one, and manages to be rather naughty without being absolutely clear about it. And it simultaneously teaches us about the commonality of humanity – that no matter who you are, or where you’re from, we all want the same thing. “Je t’adore, ich liebe dich”, indeed. Plus, the backing is just great, from Norman Watt-Roy’s liquid, dextrous bass, to Davey Paynes two-sax onslaught.

All in all a worthy UK number 1, and a song that’ll still get Brits of a certain age cackling with laughter. And, as well as being a great song, it showed that whilst you might be an old geezer playing pub-rock, you could still have a hit. Punk wiped away the old snobbery and let some real talent through. Ian, we miss you.

So that’s three songs. I can’t explain why Pitchfork missed them – though in the case of Ian Dury, I can imagine that not many Americans have ever heard of them. For Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio, who knows? Maybe they’d already filled their quota of Factory acts. Still, three out of 50 or so isn’t bad, I suppose.

1 Admittedly, neither band were actually that successful in any way, shape, or form, at the time.

2 If anyone’s ever in doubt about the efficacy of vaccinations, they really should speak to anyone aged 35 or above – I’ll bet you they know someone who suffered from polio. It’s difficult for people to realise now just how prevalent it was.

MP3: Sketch For Summer by Durutti Column

MP3: Flight by A Certain Ratio

Buy “The Best of the Durutti Column” (CD)

Buy A Certain Ratio’s “Early” (CD)

Buy “Reasons to Be Cheerful: The Very Best of Ian Dury & the Blockheads” (CD)

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The Pitchfork 500 Oddness Hour – Branca to The Fall

Glenn Branca – Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar
Laurie Anderson – O Superman (For Massenet)
Joy Division – Atmosphere
The Fall – Totally Wired

A veteran of New York No Wave band Theoretical Girls, Glenn Branca wanted to merge classical music with rock. Rather than taking the ELO route and laying strings over Beethoven-inspired prog rock, he took ten guitarists, including Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore (who’d go on to form Sonic Youth) plus assorted other musicians, and formed a kind of orchestra. “Lesson No. 1 For Electric Guitar” was the first song he released with this new band.

lesson

Starting simply, layer upon layer of guitar gradually build up until it becomes an epic sound, withouth ever descending into sheer noise (as Sonic Youth have a tendency to do). The control used by the players adds to the beauty of the song; there’s no huge wig-out at the end, just a natural climax. You can hear Sonic Youth and Swans, Slint and Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Russian Circles. Considering I love all those bands, this is the first time I’ve ever really heard this track properly. What a great track it is too.

Funnily enough, you can pretty much do the same thing yourself, in the comfort of your own home, using something like this1. I did see someone supporting Smog back in 2003, in Strasbourg2, who did something along those lines all by himself, but can’t for the life of me remember his name.

The first time I heard Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman (For Massenet)”, I was watching Top of the Pops with my brother. It’s fair to say we burst out laughing. Ok, so I was only 10, but the sight of Laurie dressed in a white gown intoning “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!” robotically was, to my pre-teen sensibilities, pretty damn funny. For weeks after we’d go up to each other and start going “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!” then roll around on the floor laughing like idiots. It was very, very funny.

Of course, it’s a bit more of a serious record than that. Laurie Anderson was a New York performance artist and musician, and this track was a meditation on America’s military-industrial complex. Possibly. Possibly not.

But frankly, it sounds like a batty lady with a vocoder going “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!”. How on earth did this get to No.2 in the UK charts? Annoyingly, I can’t find the original ToTP performance (if indeed it was a performance, rather than a video – I was only 10 you know), but did find this:

Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Very odd to listen to it again, nearly thirty years later. I still find it stupidly funny though.

Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” was recorded only a few months before Ian Curtis’ suicide. With Martin Hannett playing keyboards as well as producing (by this point, he was pretty much the fifth member of the band), the song is soaked in synthetic strings cut through with Barnie Albrecht’s acidic guitar chords, and underpinned by Peter “Hooky” Hook’s doleful bass lines. Not really my favorite Joy Division song, it veers a little bit too far onto the mopy teenager side of the street for my liking. It’s no “Dead Souls”. Or “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. But it’s still a grand old song and well worth listening to again.

Alongside the obvious tragedy of Curtis’s death, there’s the other tragedy of what Joy Division could have become if he’d had better treatment for his depression (and a resolution to his dreadful, if self-made, personal situation). This lot could have filled stadiums. Mind you, they did turn into New Order and become the first band to successfully marry dance and rock (frankly, one of the few bands who’ve done that). And if I was stuck in a lift I’d much rather have New Order piped in than Joy Division, wouldn’t you?

The Fall were the other great Manchester band coming to the fore at the start of the ’80′s (The Smiths were a few years away yet). “Totally Wired”, released in 1980, is a paean to speed (amphetamines), which Mark E Smith was consuming at a quite heroic rate, along with magic mushrooms. And lots of alcohol. Guitar was, in part, provided by Marc “Lard” Riley, he of the genius DJ twosome Mark and Lard. In fact, when I first heard them on the radio I thought “Surely not *that* Marc Riley?”, but yes, it was him. Let’s just say he’s a much better at DJ-ing than playing guitar. Mind you, I think he’s a great DJ and a lovely bloke as well. Their morning shows were superb – there’s nothing better for your morning commute than listening to two pissed off Mancunians struggling to string coherent sentences together, with the occasional great record. After they moved to their afternoon show, they started really getting on the nerves of their bosses at Radio 1, especially after making comments like this:
“That was the new single by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. And here’s an old record by The Pastels. We play some good stuff on here sometimes, don’t we?” The record started, before being stopped about ten seconds later with a contrite “We’ve been told to say that all the records we play are good”.

Anyway, back to The Fall. Now, The Fall have been around for longer than the Bible, and have had about as many people in. So picking only one or two songs (“The Classical” is coming up later) for this list must have been a nightmare. Because each album from “Grotesque” onwards, right through to “Bend Sinister”, is full of cracking tunes. Me, I’d have picked “Spoilt Victorian Child”, just because it’s the pure distillation of The Fall, in a nice, easily digestible 4 minutes. But then, “Totally Wired” gives you a good, early example of what The Fall are. Jumpy, shambolic rockabilly-lite guitars, thumping drums, with enough catchiness in the tune to keep you coming back for more, all with Mark E Smith’s irascible yelping of stream-of-conciousness, often indistinct lyrics.

And for once, “Totally Wired” is actually about something fairly simple – taking drugs. And though while MES would bring in (slightly) more competant musicians for later records, this has got a simple. poppy charm which most of his other songs lack. My aunt and I agree, indeed.

So that’s that for this post, next up a short post covering Elvis Costello and a couple of US bands you won’t have heard of.

1 I’m actually trying it, in a slightly more folky and less post-rocky way. If I manage anything listenable, I’ll post it on here.

2 I am probably the only person in history to have arranged a business trip to Luxembourg so I could then drive to Strasburg later in the day to watch Smog live. He was very grumpy, I’d like to add.

MP3: Lesson No 1 For Electric Guitar by Glenn Branca

MP3: Totally Wired by The Fall

Buy Glenn Branca’s “Lesson No. 1″ (CD)

Buy Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” (MP3)

Buy “The Best Of Joy Division” (CD)

Buy The Fall’s “Grotesque (After The Gramme)” (CD or MP3) (And a right bargain too)

The whole list is available here.

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(Note: sorry for anyone using the buttons above in the last two days, they didn’t work properly. They are now fixed, on 6/4/09)

A New Bit Of Grizzly Bear And Other Fierce Animals

So, new chunks of Veckitamitsawhoozle keep creeping out, this time a lovely new track by the name “While You Wait For The Others”. According to some sources it’s the new single, others state it’s just another track on tha ablum, but who really takes much notice of singles these days anyway? Ooh, back in my day, 7″, shall I spend the extra on the 12″ with the extra tracks, jumpers for goalposts etc. In any case, it’s got a touch of the “Little Brother (Electric)” from the “Friends EP”, which frankly is absolutely fine by me. Certainly bodes well for the album, out in May, and is hugely anticipated. Oh yes, I’m going to be posting more stuff as I get it (ok, I know this came out last week but I’ve been busy).

In other animal-related news, Super Furry Animals are recording a new album and have got themselves four cameras, which they are using to record themselves recording the album. You can see this fascinating experiment on their website. Certainly has a particular hypnotic quality to it. One of them is having a kip on the sofa right now!. Fantastic.

Anyway, this is a really quick post as I’ve been busy all day. I’ve got the next bit of the Pitchfork 500, which is all post-punky and no-wavey to do, so hopefully that should be in tomorrow’s blog.

I’ve also been neglecting the Friday Python. Here’s a great one:

Ah, Graham Chapman. The man was a genius. “And a bit suspect, I think”.

While You Wait For The Others by Grizzly Bear

Pitchfork 500 Post Punk Part 1 – PiL to Joy Division

So, in one of the Pitchfork 500′s regular swings of tone, we go from the heady joys of disco, to the first, unhappy* flowerings of post-punk. These bands took the template of punk and expanded it, exponentially, rather like the Inflationary period of the Big Bang. And to stretch the analogy to breaking point, like Inflation it took an exciting, yet ultimately hugely limited universe and altered it beyond recognition, making the universe what it is today. Because, frankly, most punk music was not really very good. Charming in a bratty way, yes, but not very good. Post-punk changed that.

And it’s no surprise that of the tracks here, most were made by ex-punks. From PiL to Joy Division, with Magazine and Wire in the middle, these bands were either punk bands that had developed beyond the two or three chord thrash; or, as with PiL and Magazine, the main men (Johnny Rotten/John Lydon from Sex Pistols and Howard Devoto from The Buzzcocks) surrounded by a new, rather more talented bunch of musicians (in the case of PiL, very talented when you’re talking about Jah Wobble).

So, with John Lydon free of Sex Pistols, he set about creating a new sound, one which took the raw anger of punk and honed it to a stiletto. “Public Image” was the first single released, almost immediately after the Sex Pistols, and it shows exactly what punk was turning into. The dubby bass, the guitar heavy on the chorus and delay pedals, the tuneless caterwauling on top, it’s all there in 1978. Never been a fan of PiL, personally, though “Rise” was good.

Gang of Four, a bunch of radical neo-Marxists from Leeds, took their name from the four Chinese Communists put on trial in the late 70′s. Taking their cue from punk and bands such as Television and The Ramones, they took punk and radicalised it, turning it into a vehicle for outrage beyond the usual blind anger. In Gang of Four’s hands, punk became a political weapon, and “Damaged Goods” likens capitalism to a love affair gone wrong. Right on, comrades.

Howard Devoto left The Buzzcocks just as things were getting interesting (rather like Richard Hell leaving Television), and formed Magazine, nicking one of Pete Shelley’s guitar lines as he left, to use in “Shot By Both Sides”, in which he rails against punk’s unexpected conservatism: “I wormed my way into the heart of the crowd\I was shocked to find what was allowed\I didn’t lose myself in the crowd”. A quick aside here – I’m not sure that a bad Top Of The Pops appearance would really have damaged their chances that much, as the Pitchfork 500 books states; after all, New Order had some remarkably shambolic attempts at playing live (pretty much the only band who did so) and it never did them any harm.

Now, I must admit to never being a huge fan of either Gang of Four or Magazine’s music. Listening to John Peel in the early to mid 80′s, you’d hear their music from time to time, and it never really go through to the adolescent me. Which is odd, considering it’s angry and passionate (which is what adolescence is all about, the horror, the horror!). And I was into all sorts of stuff at the time, from The Fall to, er, The Cramps. But listening to them again, now, many years later, I’ve grown quite fond of them. And I’m certainly more fond of them than I am the chancers doing the rounds copying their every move. You know who you are.

Anyway, next up are The Cramps. Who were, of course, fucking great. Sadly we lost the great Lux Interior just a few weeks ago, and the world has lost a fine showman, and certainly the most effective humper of stages whilst wearing ludicrously tight leather trousers I’ve ever seen. I loved The Cramps when I was a teen, and whilst I can’t admit to having listened to them much in the past decade or so, just hearing “Human Fly” again makes me glad. For all I’ve written in this blog so far about how bands developed what came before, and how they in turn influenced those who came after, sometimes I can just sit back and marvel at a bit of sheer lunacy. I’m not even going to talk about how they took the surf music of the 60′s and turned it nasty; just listen to that great reverb’d guitar and the joyful malevolence in Lux’s voice. Just fantastic. And even a fat-fingered 13-year old can play it on guitar and for just a couple of minutes, be in one of the finest rock’n’roll bands ever.**

Lux Interior

Lux Interior


As for The Misfits, “Night Of The Living Dead” sounds like what the bad kids in 60′s movies listen to whilst driving across some mid-western town to do some dreadful mischief, like pushing a cow over. And it’s pretty good for it, too.

Now Wire we’ve already seen, in the second part of this saga. Back in 1977, they sounded like a punk band with some rather odd lyrics. After all of a year, they sounded like no-one else, with some rather odd lyrics. So here’s another part of a recurring series, What The Fucking Hell Are Wire On About?

“No blind spots in the leopard’s eyes\Can only help to jeopardize\The lives of lambs, the shepherd cries”.

No, me neither. (Although I can actually start to slowly work it out. This is totally barmy, from “Follow The Locust”: “My pockets are drunk\The Illinois tool works”. You what now?)

Anyway, “Outdoor Miner”, from which this lyric stems, is a rather gorgeous two minute pop song, with a curious one-note chorus (the style of which they will reprise years later in “Kidney Bingos”). It’s a little bit of lovliness in amongst all this post-punk angst and, er, zombies.

Ah, angst. Joy Division never were the most jolly of folks on record (though off-record were apparently a rather jovial bunch). The beauty of listening to Joy Division is that, not only do they express the sheer futility of human existence; how everyone is alone in an uncaring universe; how life is filled with pain and anguish; but how they do it so very, very well. And in doing so, they make you feel better about yourself. After all, if this lot are so miserable they went to such huge lengths to express it, well, you can’t really be that pissed off, can you, because, if you were, you’d sound like this? So, perversely, they cheer you up.

Now this isn’t the only Joy Division song in the list, but I’m a little surprised that they didn’t pick “She’s Lost Control”, being the most accessible song on the album, and along with “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Atmosphere”, their best known song. Personally I’d have gone for “Dead Souls”, as that’s a right cracker, and just slightly more obscure for the blogistas out there. Anyway, “Disorder” it is, and it’s certainly one of the jollier songs on the album Unknown Pleasures. In that it’s only about the stultifying dreariness of human existance and the loss of any meaningful connections or relationships. Jolly fella, that Mr Curtis. Wonder whatever happened to him?***

It’s been funny listening to these songs. They are mostly hugely influential; they took punk, added a bit of Television and some effects pedals, and invented something new. Aside from The Cramps though, it’s all a bit po-faced. I think I need some reggae to lighten the mood…

*I don’t mean that in a bad way
**Not that I’d ever have dreamt of being Poison Ivy. That would just be odd.
***I do know, I’m just making light of a bad situation. Please don’t write in.

Shot By Both Sides by Magazine

Human Fly by The Cramps

Outdoor Miner by Wire

The whole list is available

Woodpigeon, Dirty Hungarians

Got a bit of a cold this morning, and after two 1,000+ word posts on Pitchfork 500, I’m going to be quick today.

First of all, here’s some rather lovely songs from Woodpigeon, from Calgary, Canadialand (home of the long-lost Searsy, who got me onto Broken Social Scene back in the day). They’ve just released a compilation album in the UK called “Treasury Library Canada”, and early copies come with an additional CD. Of extras and that. Which, I’ve got to say, is a bit annoying – whilst you could get away with this sort of thing maybe 5 or 10 years ago, it’s just not the done thing these days, when one can simply download the whole thing for free from somewhere. In effect, if I’m the 501st buyer I don’t get the free CD. So why should I buy it at all? Bah.

/rant over

Colds make me grumpy.

In any case, their stuff is rather nice. I’m getting sweetness of Sufjan Stevens with the folkiness of classic Bright Eyes. Champion.

Slowcoustic have got some more on Here We Go Magic, who I bloggered about the other day, and who are well worthy of your attention.

And what would a Friday be without a bit of old Monty Python?

Knock Knock by Woodpigeon

Death By Ninja (A Love Song) by Woodpigeon

Arsenal vs Spurs, Bill Hicks on Letterman

So, yet another big game for Arsenal today and yet another chance for us to finally kick our season back into some sort of life. With Chelsea only managing a draw against Hull yesterday, and Villa winning yet again, we really have to win or fifth place (or worse) beckons. Plus we need to get our revenge following the ridiculous 4-4 game earlier this season (which I was at, and still can’t quite believe). Time for the likes of Adebayor and Eboue to step up and prove their worth to the club. There are too many players all too willing to saunter round the pitch and not put the effort in (I’m looking at you, Song and Eboue), and if that happens again today we can kiss any chance of a European place goodbye.

There’s also the additional motivation that Sp*rs have spent nearly £50m in the transfer window and are still only a couple of points clear of the bottom three, and yet another loss would really drop them in it. I’d almost be ok with not getting a CL place next season if Sp*rs went down.

In other news, on Friday night David Letterman aired the “lost” Bill Hicks routine, which CBS refused to show, months before Bill’s tragic death from cancer. It’s here and is a great use of 20 minutes of your time. Bill Hicks was a truly visionary comedian, who went beyond crude gags and blunt satire to develop an almost messianic world view. Coming from a religious family, and a comedian from the age of 15, he was a passionate and hugely experienced comedian who just about managed to keep his rants about an inch away from hectoring his audience (a trait which he often referred to, saying after particularly angry or disturbed rants “Sorry, wrong meeting, I though I was at the one at the docks” or “I am available for children’s parties”). He could expertly work a crowd (when he wasn’t insulting the duller members of an audience). There was no-one like him then, or now.

Superb comedian sadly missed. Lord only knows what he’d have made of Dubya.

Martin Hannett and Lego Skating

A nice little video of Tony Wilson talking to Martin Hannett about production techniques in 1980. Why do I get the feeling that Martin Hannett thinks that Tony Wilson is an idiot?

And whilst looking at that, I stumbled across this:

Lux Interior RIP

As Pitchfork and The Guardian report, The Cramps frontman Lux Interior died yesterday.

He was a fantastic showman, a great vocalist and songwriter, and one of rock’s true originals. There was no-one like him, and you can see his influence in everyone from White Stripes, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and countless other rock bands.

I saw them as an impressionable teenager at the Bristol Bierkeller back in 88/89 (can’t quite remember the date). He was crazy, running around topless, rolling around on the stage and humping anything that moved. What a guy.

We’ll miss you, fella.

Rather predictable mp3 below:

Human Fly by The Cramps

(I would put “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog” but I only have it on vinyl, sadly)

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