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

Review – Dark Was The Night – Various Artists

Dark Was The Night is a new charity compilation released by those lovely folks over at 4AD. It features a bunch of newly recorded songs, both new songs and covers, by some of the brightest and greatest bands around at the moment, from Grizzly Bear and The National to Feist and Sufjan Stevens. The charity Red, for AIDS sufferers around the world, is the benefactor, and the album assembled by the Dessner brothers from The National.

Now I’ve got to say that some of the bands on here are top favourites round L&L Mansions, so I was rather keen to give this a spin (can you spin MP3’s?) to see what they’d come up with. And it’s mostly pretty good. A few things I have learned from this album. Some artists can be covered, like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Others, like Nick Drake, just sound like weak interpretations, no matter how skilfully done. Sorry, The Books. That the pairing of Anthony Johnson’s voice and Bryce Dessner’s guitar is a match made in heaven (and I’m not really much of an Anthony fan). That The Decemberists still sound like an American Levellers. That Sufjan Stevens, though a genius, isn’t always perfect. And neither are Arcade Fire, bless them.

That My Morning Jacket have a nice line in 50’s doo-wop. That Dave Sitek, stripped of much of the cleverness of TV On The Radio, can be suprisingly charming, though still bizarrely reminiscent of AR Kane. That Stuart Murdoch sounds like a Scottish Nico. That Cat Power, Buck 65 and Spoon should go and take a long, hard look at themselves for what they have done.

Feist and Grizzly Bear combine on the old Grizzly Bear track “Service Bell”, which is not quite the sum of its respective parts. But Grizzly Bear’s own track “Deep Blue Sea” is one of the highlights, and finds them in pleasant acoustic live mode rather than we’re-going-to-creep-you-out Yellow House mode. And the track is followed up by a new The National song, “So Far Round The Bend”, featuring a string and horn arrangement, from Nico Muhly, who’s also worked with Grizzly Bear on their new album Veckaitimawhatsit (by the way, check that link out – a blog purely devoted to the new Grizzly Bear album). Incestuous? Ah, who cares if the music is great. And this song’s a peach, boding well for whatever The National do next. For yeah, sayeth the Lord, Boxer was top.

And there are loads of other decent tracks on here. I haven’t even started wittering on about Yo La Tengo or David Byrne. Or Iron & Wine. Or how I still don’t get Bon Iver.

Anyway, charity albums have a habit of having a couple of good tracks with lots of filler, or re-released material. Dark Was The Night manages to serve up a whole load of what’s called alternative music these days, and it’s a treat for fans and newcomers alike. You might even find yourself listening to it a whole bunch of times. Well done, folks.

Arsenal 1 – Roma 0, Some Words From Song

Hi, I’m Alex Song.

You may know me from other Arsenal matches such as Arsenal 0 – Sunderland 0 and Arsenal 4 – Tottenham Hotspur 4. In those games, I excelled myself with my lack of tackling and inability to pass the ball forward. And last night, whilst my team-mates had worked hard to get a goal up, I came on to replace my poor injured buddy Abou “Sicknote” Diaby. I took the game by the scruff of the neck, and one time I fearlessly took the ball past one, two Roma midfielders and when I looked up, the Dutch Master Van Pershie was yelling for the ball! And he was in a great position, he would score a certain goal, if I could only get the ball to him. So I slowed down, and slowed down some more, until I came to a total halt. And then I turned, and gently passed the ball backwards to a defender. I don’t think old Robin was very pleased, and the crowd certainly showed their displeasure.

For you know, in football, one must always trust your instincts and my instincts said to me “What use is a two goal lead going into a tough away leg in Rome? Only four or five goals would make it safe. So why try hard to get just one more goal when it would be much easier not to score it? Why fight, and beat our breasts, and make useful runs to pick up through balls? Much easier just to fanny about with sideways passing and shots that nearly hit the corner flag” And those are my words, and they are good.

Oh, and my friend Eboue is very, very sorry for making a total hash of his wonderful chance, but he is an even stronger believer than me in listening to his instincts. And his instincts tell him to do bad, bad things. Oh yes.

Linkage: Arseblogger, Goodplaya, Gunnerblog, A Cultured Left Foot.

It’s Going To Be 0-0 Again

An extremely quick post as I’m about to run off to the Roma match. I’m sure another evening of hugely entertaining football awaits, with goals galore and the team being cheered off the pitch after another 5-0 battering. With an Eboue hat-trick.

Or, probably not. In fact definitely not. I’m not looking forward to this at all. I suspect it’ll be dreary and I’ll be back on here later having a moan. Probably about Eboue again. No Arshavin tonight (cup-tied), no Walcott or Adebayor (still both injured), so it’s likely to be Nasri-Song-Denilson-Bloody Eboue again, which is just awful. I’m depressing myself now.

I did actually start this blog to talk mostly about music, you know, but it’s rapidly turning into a place where I can vent my frustrations about the bloody Arsenal. Gah.

And on another note, and without going into any detail, I’ve been really pleasantly surprised recently by how nice people can be. *sniff*

The Reggae Pitchfork 500 – A&D to Williams

Talk about a change in tone. The last song on the list was Joy Division’s Disorder, and the next song is Althea and Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking”. It’s a chirpy song, a cute little bit of sunshine following the misery of the preceding post-punk numbers, about dressing up and cruising round in the “Benz”. You can hear the girl’s cheek and style in all those mockney girls from Lahndahn like Lily Allen and Kate Nash. If you were being uncharitable you’d say that the Ldn girls still have rather a lot to learn. But I’m being nice today so I won’t.

And who can forget Jeremy Hardy singing it on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue?. Fantastic stuff. (I’m trying to find an mp3 of it but have so far not found anything).

Next up is Lee Perry’s “Roast Fish And Cornbread”. Recorded not long before he set fire to his Black Ark studios, presumably under the influence of huge quanitites of marijuana, it’s another bit of dubbed-out oddness that he pretty much invented. He’s a funny one is ol’ Scratch; he had a phenomenal work-rate in the 70’s (twenty albums in total) though his quality control can kindly be termed “shambolic”, and he’s famous for his somewhat eccentric behaviour. Personally, I get the feeling a lot of this behaviour is an act (similar to that of Shane McGowan’s; I know the managers of pubs he used to drink in, who swore blind he was perfectly normal until either fans or journalists showed up, and he’d then fall into his drunken Oirishman act). Still, if you’ve not been introduced to his music before, this is as good a start as any. Heavy dub, loads of reverb, nonsensical lyrics, and cows mooing. What’s not to love?

Lee Scratch Perry

The Congo’s “Fisherman” is a top slab of late-70’s reggae, a song of hope and faith against adversity. With a bit of “collie weed” of course. In these days of credit crunch and redundancy, the contrasting voices sing “Row fisherman row\Keep on rowing your boat\We’ve got to reach on higher grounds”. The voices are sheer beauty, with Watty Burnett’s beautiful deep baritone juxtaposing gorgeously with “Ashanti” Roy Johnson’s tenor and Cedric Myton’s falsetto. This was recorded in 1977 with Lee Perry, who also co-wrote the track.

“Armagideon Time” by Willie Williams was hugely popular amongst the punk crowd in the late-70’s and it’s not hard to see why; it has the same approachable feel to it as Bob Marley. Not that that’s a bad thing. Anything that opens people’s minds to a different tune is fine by me. But it’s not the most inspiring tune on the list; it’s place here is to show how music from a small island in the Caribbean reached out and touched people from council estates in England, and made them realise there was more to life than three-chord thrashes, inspiring them to make their own music, and then setting off another round of innovation.

I’ve got to say that this style of reggae isn’t my bag; I’m much more a fan of the older Studio One stuff. But the value of the Pitchfork list is that you get to hear some little nuggets that otherwise pass you by. With me it’s “Fisherman”, which I’m now listening to for the third time this morning, and which I present to you below. Enjoy.

Fisherman by The Congos

The whole list is available here.

Quick Sunday Update


I have a sore throat. Just what I needed after yesterday’s lovely weather and yesterday’s not so lovely draw against Sunderland. Quite a few of the world’s good Arsenal blogs haven’t updated today, probably because they are all still trying to calm themselves down, though the unlucky Tom over at Arseblog has some words for the team, as does Goodplaya and Goonerholic.

I must say I completely agree with them both. This team are a travesty of everything that Wenger has built up over the past twelve years, but what’s sad is that Wenger himself seems blind to it. We lost two pretty good central midfielders in the summer, yet neither was replaced and we were left with the likes of Song and Denilson to fill the empty spaces. We even started our first match – our first match! of the season with bloody Eboue playing in the middle. If you want proof of how rubbish Song and Denilson were yesterday, go to the Grauniad chalkboards, select either Song or Denilson and look at their passing and tackling. Denilson hardly passed the ball forward all match. Song completed one successful tackle all game. One!!! Compare that to earlier in the season when Fabregas was playing – his passing is varied and mostly in the right direction.

Sorry, this is already turning into another rant, so I’ll stop now. We need Fabregas back. We need the team, as a whole, to start making more space, with more intelligent running, and the central midfield need to find them with those runs. We’re not a team that score loads of goals by crossing into the middle. We need our mojo back. And most of all we need Wenger to wake up from whatever bizarre dreamworld he is currently inhabiting, and sort this team out.

We are not finishing in the top four. We will lose tens of millions of pounds being out of the Champions League, the likes of Van Persie and Cesc will be tempted to leave, and we won’t be able to sing “Champions League, you’re having a laugh” at Spurs fans.

In other news, today’s my first day in fourteen years without a job, as I was officially released from my previous firm yesterday. I am the one in ten, a number on a leeeeest.
Still, gives me more time to write bollocks about music and football. Hurrah! But if this goes on, I won’t be able to pay the mortgage. Boo!

Normal, non-moany service ought to resume tomorrow, I hope.

Arsenal 0 – Sunderland 0 – Champions League, You’re Having A Laugh

It’s simply not good enough. We had a chance today to close some of the gap on Villa, after they lost to Chelsea at home. So what do we do? We balls around. We don’t take our chances. We pass backwards instead of counter-attacking. Then with ten minutes to go, we put Eboue on. Eboue. The attacking midfielder who doesn’t score goals, and has got all of one assist this season.

That says it all. Our only options, when we need to score, are to put on a player who doesn’t score, and doesn’t help us score. Disgraceful. We can complain about an injury list, but of the players currently injured only Fabregas and one of Eduardo or Adebayor would have started today. We have a central midfield pairing who won the ball about four times between them, and whose idea of creative passing is to pass it sideways instead of backwards. Seriously, with about seven minutes to go, we win the ball back after a rare Sunderland attack and Denilson, under no pressure, actually turned and passed the ball BACK TO THE DEFENCE! Absolutely appalling. Someone seems to have told Denilson about rugby, and he’s got the two games confused and now thinks he can’t pass the ball forward.

Our attacking options today were get the ball to the wing, where at least we had some creativity, for them to then cross to the centre where one of the lanky Sunderland defenders would head to out to the midfield. Again and again and again and a-bloody-gain.

Van Pershie messed up one good chance and Vela messed up too, one quite spectacularly. The only plus points were that Arshavin looked ok, if tiny, that Gallas and Toure actually looked good together in defence, and that Almunia did everything asked of him. Well done, chaps.

Frankly Song or Denilson wouldn’t have had a sniff our first-team action three or four years ago. Vieira and Flamini must watch Arsenal games now and laugh, in the same way you do when you see someone doing your old job and making a total mess of it.

We can now kiss the Champions League goodbye. Six points behind Villa is a tough call, with 12 games to go. And as we don’t seem to have bothered buying a decent big, tough central midfielder in the transfer market, shooting our bolt on a tiny Russian, we’re going to really suffer in some of our upcoming games against the likes of Blackburn and Liverpool.

/rant over. I’m going to go and eat some nice food and drink some nice wine to make me feel better. Links and stuff tomorrow.

One final note. Arshavin is really, really tiny.

It’s A Beautiful Day To Boo Eboue

What an absolutely beautiful day. After one of the coldest winters in London for many years, and a winter where we saw proper snow for the first time in 18 years, you can only be delighted at such a gorgeous day. The sun’s getting higher in the sky, the birds are singing, and it’s proper warm. Well, it’s 12C, which is warm for me. I’m bizarrely reminded of our last holiday in Florida. It’s that warm.

Ok, not really, but at least I don’t need to wear thermals again.

So, to today’s match against Sunderland. Eboue is back from suspension. So, the pragmatic me thinks we’ll play Vela – Song – Denilson – Nasri in midfield with the usual starters in defence and up front. But the cynical me says it’ll be Nasri – Song – Denilson – Fucking Eboue. Wenger already appears to be buttering us up, which is worrying. The feeling out there in blogland is that it’s likely Eboue will start. Boo, I say. I’m not a fan of Eboue, I think he adds absolutely nothing to this team and he’s a negative influence. I’d be happy to never see him play for us again.

In other news, a fan has a go at Adebayor. Too right, I say. We pay this man’s wages. If we’re unhappy we’ve a right to tell him. Wonder if Adebayor will buck his ideas up a bit today?

So, off soon, and am looking forward to seeing some Sunderland fans. Last year, on the tube, they were singing “We hate Newcastle, we hate Newcastle…” to the usual tune. They finished singing, there was a five second pause, and then all the Arsenal fans started singing “We hate Tottenham, we hate Tottenham”, and both sets of fans burst out laughing. They are ok, the Mackems.

Anyway, hope we thrash them. Nothing less than 10-0 will do. Including a hat-trick for Arshavin, who should make his debut today. We must see Owly goodness.

Laters, folks.

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

The Disco Pitchfork 500 – Summer to Gaye

Back the late 80’s and early 90’s, when acid house and its predecessor Balearic beats were starting to pulsate through nightclubs and warehouses up and down the country, there used to be a little club in Newcastle called Rockshots. It was primarily a gay club, but on Thursday nights it ran a kind-of straight night in collaboration with The Trent House, thanks to local impressario Tommy Caulker. Now, the Trent House was one of the finest pubs in the city*, and had the best jukebox I’ve ever seen, filled with classic soul and reggae, with a smattering of top indie tunes (back in the day when indie really was indie, ooh, it were all fields round ‘ere when I were a lad), along with the Barley Mow and the Egypt Cottage, As a quick aside, the Egypt Cottage was next to Tyne Tees TV, and the inspiration for Viz’s classic strip Roger Mellie, came when a local TV presenter wandered in, obviously half-cut, asked for a pint with a whisky chaser, and when asked sarcastically “Shouldn’t you be on the telly?” by the barman, replied “Yes, so fucking hurry up”. The TV presenter downed them both, left, and minutes later was seen on the TV reading the news. Roger Mellie was born.

Anyway, Thursday nights at Rockshots were legendary. They played a mix of soul, acid house, disco, and anything else that took the DJ’s fancy. The clientele was a mix of locals and clued-up students, the air was filled with the heady scent of poppers (I told you it was a gay club, you know) and there was rarely any bother from anyone, a pleasant change from some of the more, errrr, unreconstructed places like Masters or Macy’s**. And so, this was the first place I ever really got to hear disco music in its pure, unadulterated, hedonistic form – and the uber-Disco song has just got to be “I Feel Love”.

Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte took the electronic savvy of Kraftwerk and mixed it with the Donna Summer’s soulful vocals, creating a song designed soley to keep you on the dancefloor. And listening to it nearly 20 years after I first properly heard it (and by properly, I mean happily off my nuts on whatever drink and drug combo we were doing at the time, with the occasional shot of poppers for that nicely chemical high, as opposed to watching Top Of The Pops with my family whilst I was six), I’m amazed at how it moves. It’s constantly shifting, changing, and whilst the bassbeat stays the same, everything on top of it is evolving and developing. It’s an astonishing piece of music.

Moroder’s own “The Chase”, whilst using the same tricks, just doesn’t sound quite as breathtakingly alive as “I Feel Love”, and suffers rather more from dated keyboard sounds. But you can tell how people like Moroder moved in lockstep with Kraftwerk, and how later bands like Cabaret Voltaire and New Order would take this template and build on it.

Chic’s “Good Times” is less revolutionary than either of the preceding tunes, but as good music goes, it’s up there with the best of them. Funky, slinky, desperately danceable, it’s been one of the most influential records of the last thirty years. You just know that bassline. And the handclaps. The careful use of strings. And that funky guitar – from one of the guitar world’s finest ever players, Nile Rodgers (who, fact fans, used to play in the Sesame Street band. Now, that must have been one of the best jobs in the world). Just like Television’s Marquee Moon, it’s long, but never outstays its welcome. All in all, it’s funky as funky can be and no record collection is complete without it.

Now, whilst I can’t really say that Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is a bad song (it’s not, it’s great), but it’s a cover version, and not exactly a dramatic re-working. And the original, from 1975, is better. It feels a bit like the authors of the list wanted this song in by hook or by crook. Hmmm.

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor just about survives the fact that you can’t drink in any city centre in the UK on a Saturday night these days without coming across a bunch of drunken women, usually a hen night, yelling it out at the top of their lungs at about midnight. As the book itself states, it became an anthem for the generation of gay men tragically cut down by AIDS in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Ah, Michael Jackson. It’s tough now to remember why he was so loved, what with the plastic face, the exceedingly dodgy friendships with children, the whole Neverland and monkeys thing, oh, and the hanging babies out of windows, but once upon a time, back in the Neolithic period, he was rather talented. I mean, really, really talented. Together with Quincy Jones, they created some mind-bogglingly good pop music (and Billie Jean’s coming later, so I won’t go on too much about him now). This was the start of it, and the template is in place. Effortlessly catchy, expertly put together, mixing horns, strings, funk guitar, handclaps, hey, the whole kitchen sink is in there, but it just sounds so right.

Doesn't He Look Young?

Doesn't He Look Young?

Parliament’s “Flash Light”…well, what can I say? It’s funky. Funkier than a funkier thing that’s got the funk-da-funk on its funky ass. But it’s not as funky as “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)”, which was released in 1975, so misses out on the list. But watching the live version below, it’s amazing how much funkier it is live, in full funky effect.

I think I’ve said funky enough times now.

To the last song on the list. Marvin Gaye was one of music’s most tragic losses. I mean, you expect, when you’re a world famous musician with one of the best voices you’ll ever hear, honey-sweet yet chilli-hot and with just enough grizzled edge to keep you interested, to get into the usual drugs/alcohol/unsuitable women/traumatic divorce/depression/living in Ostend thing, but being shot and killed by your own dad is just off the bad shit scale. Poor souls. As for “Got To Give It Up”, it’s a surefire dancefloor winner and all, but I have to put my hand on heart and say it’s not a patch on “What’s Going On”, surely one of the finest four minutes ever recorded.

Of these tunes, it’s “I Feel Love” and “Good Times” that last the best. They are songs of excitement, of the heady rush of love and drugs, of thrilling nights out filled with joy. The Pitchfork 500 is full of songs of love, anger, betrayal, yearning, hatred, stupidity, masturbation, being a human fly, and thousands of other emotions and experiences, but few capture them as well as these two. And isn’t that what great music is about?

* And indeed was, last time I went up there about three years ago. The jukebox was still great, the upstairs pool tables still there and playable, and the beers still good. It’s nice to know that some things don’t change.

**One friend did have a particularly nasty experience in Rockshots around 1992, by which time the club had been discovered by a rather unpleasant drug-dealing meathead contingent, and the magic left.

I Feel Love by Donna Summer

Good Times by Chic

The whole list is available here.