I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Let there be house

fingersincNow I know you are all regular listeners to my monthly radio show on Frome FM. You can hear it online, so there really is no excuse for you not tuning in, even if you live on the other side of Somerset. Or the world, come to that. Anyway, if you’re not always able to listen in, you’ll be glad to learn that Frome FM have recently added an archive area to their site and you can find my latest broadcast there. This show features the old skool house pioneers, with tracks by the likes of Fingers Inc (pictured above), Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Nitro Deluxe, Sterling Void, Todd Terry and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. Flick on your jacking switch and hear it here.

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Jesus saves Paul McCartney with a glove puppet

katabillupsjesusmccartney1katabillupsjesusmccartney2This has to be one of the oddest music-related items to ever appear on eBay. It’s a painting called (and the title is just so perfect) Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet And Hired An Angel To Try And Cheer Up A Clinically Depressed Paul McCartney by US artist Kata Billups. Kata seems to have a bit of a thing about painting Jesus with The Beatles (and also various combinations of Jesus, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and pin-up queen Bettie Page) and her work is apparently owned by the likes of Julia Roberts, Sting, Tim Burton and Willie Nelson, as well as all four former members of REM.

Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet has been on eBay for around three years – that might be something to do with its Buy It Now price tag of $177,000 (roughly £110,000) – so you may have already seen it. If you haven’t, click here for the full listing and read Kata’s comments about the symbolism in the painting and her explanation of the cause of Paul McCartney’s suffering. There’s a clue in the fact that he has taken a red marker pen to the three pictures of Yoko Ono on the walls of his room, putting a big cross on one and drawing devil’s horns on the other two.

Kata doesn’t say much about Lamb Chop in her listing, which is a pity. But seeing the painting did make me Google Lamb Chop and I’m very pleased to report that, although the glove puppet’s creator Shari Lewis sadly died in 1998, her daughter Mallory Lewis continues to perform with the puppet to this day. Mallory and Lamb Chop’s website is here.


Don’t let the squares knock the rock

I remember my Uncle Derrick telling me that the local teddy boys slashed the seats at the cinema in King’s Lynn when they showed “Rock Around The Clock” in 1956. He was a bit vague about whether he’d joined in or not, but I suspect he might have done. There was still lots of excitement when Bill Haley And His Comets pitched up in the UK the following year, as this footage shows. The commentary – “just dig those happy cats and not a square in sight” – sounds like something from Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. Marvellous.


50 tracks in 90 minutes

50tracks90minsA quick plug for my last radio show of 2012, which is on Frome FM this Sunday (9 December) from 10.30pm to midnight. I generally dip into a different genre of music each month – the show is called For One Night Only – but as it is my final broadcast of the year, I thought it would be fun to see if I can play 50 tracks in my allotted 90 minutes. It’s not even a full 90 minutes as it goes, because there are a couple of minutes of adverts in there too.

To add an extra little fizz of excitement to the occasion (come on, admit it, you’re as excited about this as I am), I’ve set myself some rules for the show. These are:

  • No manual fade-outs, so any fade has to be part of the actual track
  • No more than three tracks to be played back-to-back at a time
  • Only one song per artist, so I can’t just play loads of stuff by Napalm Death
  • I have to announce the artist and title of every track I play

I’m still putting together the playlist, but it’s going to be a right musical jumble. David Bowie, Janis Joplin, De La Soul, Wreckless Eric, Stiff Little Fingers and Air will all be in there. And don’t work yourself into a tizzy if I play a track you hate. It’ll be over before you know it. Two minutes tops. A lot less than that in most cases.

You can hear the show live online by clicking the Listen Now button at the Frome FM website, or hear it after the event by going to Programmes, then Music, then choosing For One Night Only from the list on the left and selecting the date 9 December.


Black, one sugar

I like mugs. I also like old synths. So I am very taken by the pictures-of-old-synths-on-mugs thing they’ve got going at Voltage Control.

This gorgeous creature here is the Roland TB-303 Bass Line, aka the acid house machine. Nip over to the Voltage Control website for more Roland mugs, plus others featuring bits of kit from the likes of Moog, Korg, EDP and ARP. There are Theremin, Technics and Linn Drum mugs too.

Bet you didn’t realise that The Human League’s “Being Boiled” was about a kettle, did you?


RIP Joe Maher

Flowered Up Weekender film posterI’m sad to hear the news that Flowered Up guitarist Joe Maher has died. It’s only three years since the death of Liam Maher, Flowered Up’s singer and Joe’s older brother.

Click here for an interview I did with Liam for Melody Maker around the time of the release of the band’s “Weekender” single, one of the greatest records ever made. That’s not an opinion, by the way, that’s a simple statement of fact.


Farewell to the Wirrina

The Wirrina Stadium in PeterboroughThe Damned ticket for Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough, 1979I’ve just found out that the Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough was pulled down a couple of years ago. It wasn’t really much of a stadium, it was more a grubby sports hall, but I saw quite a lot of bands play at the Wirrina in the late 1970s and early 80s, and I have fond memories of the place. Among the gigs I particularly remember were The Clash (the 1978 “Sort It Out Tour”, supported by The Slits and The Innocents), The Damned, Siouxsie And The Banshees and Madness (supported by The Go-Go’s). I wrote about The Damned’s show, which ended in something of a riot, in Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail (click here to read that part of the book over at my archive website) and the image of Ari Up from The Slits bouncing and skipping across the stage with her dreadlocks dripping in spit will stay with me for ever.

I’ve no idea what they’ve built on the site of the Wirrina, but I guess there’s every chance that it’s a Tesco or a Sainsbury’s or some other fluorescent-lit temple of consumerism. If it is, I sincerely hope that, every once in a while, some unsuspecting late-night shopper hears the sound of Ari Up singing “Shoplifting” drifting down the aisle: “Put the cheddar in me pocket / Put the rest under the jacket / Talk to the cashier, he won’t suspect / And if he does, if he does…”

Wirrina Stadium photograph courtesy of Peterborough Images