Monday, 31 December 2007

Stop! by Sam Brown

Another disc from the second-hand racks of Vinyl Village in Barkingside...

I suppose I was curious why the single Stop! wasn't followed up in any big way. After all, they pulled out all the stops (hmmm...) in promoting that single - memorable video, red lips, platinum blonde hair, red outfit.

Maybe there wasn't another hit on there of the same quality, but
the rest of it was pretty decent: a varied album which sounds like a group of talented musicians had fun making. It just doesn't find its way onto the CD player often enough.

Sam's wikipedia entry says she's an artist in control of her music, not prepared to bend to the will of interfering record companies and preferring to avoid the limelight. She also co-wrote a song with Maria McKee.

Have I been too hasty here..?

The Joshua Tree by U2 - Remastered Deluxe edition

Irresistable and flying off the shelves quicker than you can click confirm, such that prices on eBay are already escalating.

Will doubtless be repressed in a month or so.

City of Sin by This Picture

I first saw This Picture playing a lunchtime set in the big top at Greenbelt 1987. In the programme they professed to be influenced by Led Zeppelin and The Waterboys, a clever way for a rock group to avoid mentioning U2 in the 1980s. Their peformance was understated, but the music was interesting, so I resolved to keep an eye out for them.

A year later they were headlining in the big top on a Saturday night and their confidence had grown measurably. Simon Bye was prowling the stage with an air of practised distraction, resembling a rustic Michael Hutchence in his brown corduroy jacket. Stephen Hughes's remarkable bass playing ensured he wasn't dwarfed by the green-illuminated Trace Elliot stack standing behind him. Top hat-wearing Robert Forrester tore at his guitar while brother Duncan was pounding the drums behind him. This was the template for This Picture live shows for the next couple of years.

I began following This Picture's London shows. I remember two at The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, supporting Something Happens and Blue In Heaven. At one I cheered the announcement of "Rape The Hillside", only for Simon Bye to pause after the first word of the title leaving me feeling extremely uncomfortable. There was no Underground to Harlesdesn, so I'd borrow my dad's car and drive back to Essex afterwards around a nearly-deserted North Circular Road.

A friend of the group who'd travelled up from the west country kindly made me a tape of their Radio One session for Janice Long and their first demo, both featuring signature song "Naked Rain". Within a year Rough Trade would release a one-off EP featuring a less-interesting version with violins over the introduction.

The group signed to Dedicated Records whose headquarters in Notting Hill weren't far from the office where I worked as a record plugger. I struck up a friendship with Colleen who worked there and popped in regularly to drop off copies of records we were promoting, and - self-servingly - pick up copies of their latest stock. It was great - and slightly rare - meeting people who were as enthusiastic about music as I was.

There was a hiatus as Stephen Hughes was replaced by Austen Rowley on bass. That saddened me, but I continued to follow This Picture across London - The Borderline, Fulham Greyhound and The Underworld - to the mainstage at Greenbelt. They released an album - A Violent Impression - featuring some of the songs they were playing live, alongside newer compositions. It felt slightly unbalanced and the songs sounded like they'd been swamped by the studio during the extended gestation.

I spoke with Simon briefly at The Underworld show, half hoping we might get some plugging work, only to find they were handled by one of the leading pluggers in the business. He told me about Stephen's departure, remaining optimistic for the future. As time went on, the recession deepened. I left the music business. Dedicated Records was disbanded. This Picture ended up on Arista who released this album and then tried to ignore it. Other than the singles, I don't recognise the songs... but it still has its moments.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Brothers McMullen

One of the few films cited in Peter Biskind's Down And Dirty Pictures which I've never seen, this independent film was shot over ten weekends.

It doesn't seem to rate highly with anyone, but should still be inspiring.

U2 - Popmart Live From Mexico City (Special Edition)

It seems increasingly unlikely I'll pick this up cheaper.

Whether I'll watch it again is another question.

I wonder if I'm really improving?

Men, Women, & Chain Saws Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover

I took a course in "horror films and their audience" at the NFT led by Dr. Brigid Cherry. This book, and Barbara Creed's The Monstrous Feminine were frequently cited, so they've been on my to read list for a while.

Academic but not impenetrable, this takes a deeper look at "low culture" horror movies and makes some useful points about the gender roles in the stories told.

A nice addition to the film library.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Sounds of Science by Beastie Boys

This is good... it has all the hits... the ones which are always on the radio... and is thus redundant.

Monday, 24 December 2007

White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity by Swans

I acquired a lot of freebies while working in the music business. I clung tightly to them, not admitting I never listened to any of them.

Perhaps I convinced myself it made up for not always getting paid.

Most of it was dodgy vinyl from "has-beens, never were and never will bes", but occasionally there was something genuinely interesting.

Swans were an experimental group from New York with a reputation for making noise, who emerged around the same time as Sonic Youth.

I listened to Sonic Youth more. I should probably have put this on a few more times.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Mission by Patrick Tilley

This has been hanging around a long time, ever since I bought it, new, in Forbidden Planet, Denmark Street, in 1983.

I seem to remember reading a summary of the story in the back of another book, perhaps The Soul Of A New Machine by John Tracy Kidder?

Although it recounts the fantastic story of the discovery of Jesus Christ's body (which subsequently returns to life) in contemporary New York, the consequences are explored logically, in a similar way to Ken Grimwood's Replay.

Fond of the story, I hung on to it for sentimental reasons. But I can't imagine re-reading it now.

Sorry Patrick. And I only just discovered you too hail from Essex...

Friday, 21 December 2007

Hold Your Horses by The Piney Gir Country Roadshow

Although I made the video for The Great Divide, I never picked up a copy of the album as Piney had given us a promo copy to work from.

It was great to listen to, but I can't live without a copy of the full release.

Now, I just need a copy of the EP with the video on!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Rattle And Hum by U2

Flicking through my U2 LPs recently while updating my website, something I sadly haven't done
for several years, I noticed a hole where the double vinyl version of Rattle And Hum should have been. I had a Canadian copy, a Yugoslavian version and now even a Japanese one, but no UK release.

Scouring the eBay listing, the copies I saw in reasonably condition were all too high-priced - I was even outbid on a couple - so when I came across a couple of decent copies in Cambridge market, I handed over the cash.

It won't take up much room. Will it?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got by Sinead O'Connor

I was walking through Westbourne Park on my way to work once when I saw a shaven headed woman in fluffy pink slippers and a Public Enemy t-shirt walking back from the post box at the end of the road.

"Hah! Sinead O'Connor," I laughed to myself, not having many bald female reference points beyond Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

As walked past me, I realised it was Sinead O'Connor.

I bought this album some time earlier, from the secondhand racks of Vinyl Village in Barkingside. It was one of those albums I thought I should hear. After I'd heard it, I rarely returned to it. Not because it's bad - it isn't: I Am Stretched On Your Grave particularly sticks in my mind. Perhaps the more mass market appeal of this album over its predecessor put me off.

I saw Sinead a few more times. Once cycling along Talbot Road with her son on the back of her bike. Another time she beckoned me past as I waited for her to reverse her car out of her driveway.
And now I am beckoning this CD off the shelf and onwards to a new life.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears by Wendy James

Unlike some of my friends, I was never a big fan of Tranvision Vamp, but I was intrigued when I heard Elvis Costello had written an album for Wendy James. Moreso when I read articles implying the songs were a tongue-in-cheek jab at the supposedly unaware singer and Costello was refusing to comment.
Listening to the album, the issue is ambiguous. London's Brilliant copies the opening riff of Clash City Rockers and mentions "...digging up the bones of Strummer and Jones..." but it sounds more affectionate than a spoof.
A colleague once asked Wendy James when she was going to release a jazz album. "When I'm forty," she sneered sarcastically. We're still waiting.
I am not waiting to hear this again. Off you trot.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Flowers of Romance by Public Image Ltd.

I felt I should be more familiar with Public Image Ltd.'s repertoire, so I bought this.

I didn't listen to it much.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Attack Of The Clones

Another gift I found it hard to get rid of.
My dad tries hard, he really does. He saw "Attack Of The Clones" on my Amazon wish list and went out and bought the DVD for me. Isn't that great?
But I was the music I wanted. On CD. This I would have waited for until a triple trilogy boxed set came out.
And I would have bought that boxed set too, if the final film hadn't been so poor.
Actually, this is the better of the latter three... give it back!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Jerky Boys by Jerky Boys

An NME cassette from the late 80s featured an amusing prank phone call from this album titled "The Egyptian Magician", featuring a character named Tarbash describing his act to a potential agent on the phone ("Then I take fork and stab customer in eye. But in my country, that is considered art.").
I bought the album, listened to it, laughed and put it on my shelf.
Now, nearly 20 years later, I'm taking it off my shelf.
It's gone.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Ni Un Passo Atras, Folkways: A Vision Shared, Common Ground: Voices of Modern Irish Music, Greenpeace Rainbow Warriors - all by Various

My collection of U2 appearances on compilations is impressive, but not exhaustive.

Common Ground was released the weekend I went to Dublin with a couple of friends on a U2 pilgrimage, visiting lots of sites associated with the band, missing them at their studio at Hanover Quay as they worked on Pop (Bono's Bristol was parked outside). I first heard the version of Tomorrow on this album in an HMV store in the centre of Dublin on a Sunday morning (after a night at The Kitchen). I never bought it at the time.

Jesus Christ from Folkways: A Vision Shared was recorded in the Sun Studios session featured in Rattle And Hum, although the track doesn't appear in the film. One of the great compilation songs, I never owned a CD copy before.

Greenpeace: Rainbow Warriors is an archetypal 80s compilation - almost everyone you can think of is on it. It opens with a different edit of the live version of Pride (In The Name Of Love) which appears on Rattle And Hum.

Ni Un Paso Atras! is a compilation I wasn't aware of which features some solo Bono tracks. I wouldn't usually bother.

More for the pile. Forgive me.

Monday, 3 December 2007

The Dead Zone

A memorable David Cronenberg film from a story by Stephen King, with a great central performance by Christopher Walken.
If I had the gift of second sight, would I still have bought this?
Maybe. I see no reason to hang on to it though.
I may watch it every ten years. But it'll probably be using different technology each time.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Human Patterns by Beanfield

I remember Robert Elms regularly playing the title track in the introduction to his show (along with Cold Water Music by Aim) while I was driving 'round the M25 to Bracknell but I never got around to picking this up. Now I have.

It still sounds great. I hope I'll play it a fair bit.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Plastic Box by Public Image Ltd.

An impressively hefty three-disc set of rarities and radio sessions from Public Image Ltd. which has some great liner notes from John Lydon.
Thirty quid seems a lot to have paid for a secondhand copy, especially since I don't listen to it often.
Enough. Go.

Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars

A colleague at Chelsea Physic Garden belonged to an experimental music CD club, got this as a monthly selection and hated it.
I still haven't made up my mind, but I don't love it and I can't wait for it to collect more dust while I decide.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Electro Shock Blues by Eels

I desperately want to like Eels. I liked Novocaine For The Soul (a fair bit), read a few interviews and bought the first album.
It disappointed me.
This album came out. I read some more interviews. It sounded even better. Something about the aftermath of his depressed sister's suicide.
It also disappointed me.
Now singer E has made a fascinating-sounding documentary about his quantum physicist father and released two albums - one a best of, one a rarities collection.
Must... not... buy...

Icicle Works by Icicle Works (Deluxe Remastered 3 CD box set)

The Icicle Works were the first band I heard on John Peel and thought "they sound good!"

I was travelling home from a Leyton Orient match in the car with my dad (probably a 2-1 win over Bolton) when a song came on which I didn't recognise. In those days, Radio One shared the stereo frequency 88-91 MHz with Radio Two and John Peel's was one of the few Radio One shows you could listen to in stereo, after the switchover from Radio Two at 10pm.

My dad may not have been a fan of the music, but he had a lot of time for John Peel. This led, several years later, to the rather unlikely situation of me walking into the dining room to find my dad sitting at the table, working and tapping his feet to The Jesus And Marychain's April Skies.

So, discovering this to be the Icicle Works of Love Is A Wonderful Colour fame, I acquired the album and became a fan.

Their career followed an up-and-down path, perhaps peaking with the wonderful Blind in 1987, before the band effectively split, reforming under Ian McNabb for one further album before he went solo.

I managed to see them twice - at The Marquee, Wardour Street in 1985 and Camden Palace in 1986, when they encored with Roadhouse Blues and Should I Stay Or Should I Go - and they were wonderful both times.

And that is why I had to have this..!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Police Squad

A friend spotted the first episode of this on late-night TV in the mid-80s. We managed to tape most of the rest of the series and watched the tapes repeatedly until the series was reshown in the early evenings on the release of The Naked Gun several years later and we finally had to share our secret with the world.

The DVD includes all six episodes, interviews, a "gag reel", and commentaries from Zucker, Zucker, Abrahams, Weiss and Wuhl.

Sadly, the packaging is poor. It employs clich├ęs the series avoided (three references to doughnuts - or "donuts") and playing up the wackiness the series studiously avoided by always playing it straight. The Lord preserve us from marketing people.

Now I can free up more space by selling the tapes. Maybe.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf

A gritty, gallic drama starring a wonderful Juliette Binoche, this isn't actually mine, but my partner decided she'd seen it enough and she was happy to part with it.
I could learn a lot from her.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Now That's What I Call Music 13 by Various

Another misguided gift, more songs you hear on the radio, more shelf-space taken up and dust collected.
It can just as easily do that for someone else.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

Another gift, this time from my partner who shares my love for The Simpsons and knows I like games. I don't really play games on the PC much any more though.

Game refused to allow me to exchange it for the PS2 version, so it sat around, unplayed and still shrinkwrapped for a few years.

I just bought the PS2 version secondhand and dusted off the console. The game's good. And this copy can go and find a new home with someone who'll love it.

That makes me happy.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Motown Dance Party by Various

A great way to obtain a selection of those Motown hits you always hear on the radio.
Then it sits on your shelf unplayed because these songs are always on the radio.
And you don't give those kind of dance parties.
It goes. So someone else can.

Monday, 29 October 2007


Zoolander made me laugh. But again, do I need this sitting on my shelf? Will I ever watch it again?
(I even watched it with my partner after we got together, just to be sure.)

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Being John Malkovich

Another great Charlie Kaufman scripted film. Another region 1 DVD I acquired too soon.
I eventually ended up with a region 2 copy through buying a gift for a family member, then finding out they didn't like the film!
Both copies sat on my shelf for far too long. The UK version has a better cover.
Say goodbye..!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I loved this film. Michel Gondry is a wonderful director and Charlie Kaufman an imaginative writer. Not a product which would generally fall foul of the great purge.

However, I won this DVD - which came shirkwrapped with a copy of the script - in a Time Out competition. Strangely, I won several Time Out competitions around the same time, also securing a copy of the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset boxed set (with a bottle of champagne). This was before they ran competitions on on-line forms. You had to buy the magazine and e-mail the answers.

So I won the competition, received the prize... and received the prize again.

The spare sat around for over a year before I decided it was time it went.


Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem

I meant to listen to The Marshall Mathers LP but I never got around to it.

I bought it secondhand from a colleague and never really found myself in the right mood.


Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Transient Random Noise Outbursts With Announcements by Stereolab

Some people write about music they don't like as if it's a fault of the artist: "I never really got such and such."

I am perfectly willing to accept the problem is mine. Such is the case with Stereolab and the album Transient Random Noise Outbursts With Announcements.

I buy too much music "just to hear" it. Having heard it, it sits on my shelf, never to be revisited. Occasionally I may pull it down, stick it on and get through a few songs before switching to something I enjoy more. This is a pity, because Stereolab are great, they're everything a cult act should be and they have made great albums, of which this is one.

I didn't give up on Stereolab. I listen when their music is played on the radio. I went to see them at Islington Academy around the time of "Margarine Eclipse"'s release. They were good! This album is good!

I just don't like it that much...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I may have inadvertantly been responsible for the demise of the British publishing industry by buying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

On returning from a week's holiday in Suffolk, I bought two copies from Sainsbury's - one for me, one for my partner - both of which were read over the weekend.

I sold my copy within three months of reading it.

I think I'm getting the hang of this.

Monday, 15 October 2007

28 Days Later

I bought 28 Days Later partly because I missed it at the cinema and partly because I like the director Danny Boyle.

I watched it. It wasn't bad, although the ending was a bit limp.

I watched all the extras.

And then it sat there on my shelf.

And I had to admit to myself I probably wasn't going to watch it again.


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Virgin All-time Top 1000 Albums

I have a problem disposing of slightly inappropriate gifts. Virgin All-time Top 1000 Albums is one of those.

I am a music fan and I like fact books. Lists of chart positions, that kind of thing. But this is not what I call a fact book. It's a list of opinions. Aggregated opinions from experts, admittedly. But rather than list the sales performance of OK Computer, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper, it attempts to explain why they are so popular

I don't care. I'm a fan of music. I know which albums are considered "classics" and I can decide myself whether I like them and why. "Classic" is a term for people who aren't music fans. As is this book. Which lay around my house unread for years before I finally bit the bullet and listed it on Amazon.


Sunday, 9 September 2007

Diary of a Welsh Swagman, 1869-1894 by Joseph Jenkins

Welshman Joseph Jenkins decided late in his life to leave his family, move to Australia and earn a living as a travelling labourer, working on farms in Victoria.

His diary, discovered among the belongings of a Welsh descendent 70 years after his death, records his day-to-day between the ages of 51 and 76. Particularly poignant are the observations on his failing health and strength.

I read this once and it was unlikely I would again, but checking on Amazon it seemed to have some value - though not as much as the original which resides in the State Library of Victoria.

Friday, 7 September 2007


Inevitable I'd buy this having enjoyed it so much at the cinema, but did I really need a region 1 copy? One which was imported to Australia!?! I think I paid AU$60 for this. Madness.

It was later reissued in a two-disc edition with lots of extras, which naturally I had to have. Even then I didn't get rid of it.

Now I have.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

"The stuff you own ends up owning you"

Fight Club struck a chord with me.

A generation raised to consume without question, paying to store stuff they can't house, their huge houses bursting at the seams.

It couldn't last. But where to begin?

Reading the Unclutterer blog I found ways to unlock the value of all the stuff I own but don't need: swapping already read books for others I'd like to read on ReadItSwapIt, swapping CDs, DVDs or anything on SwapShop and and selling everything on

I thought it would be harder... actually, it's just as much fun to sell stuff as it is to buy it..!