There was a time in my teens that Tom Waits never left my turntable and the 'Heart of Saturday Night' album was the reason. My mate Joel Breslin introduced me. I always thought of Tom Waits as perfect music to get drunk to, possibly because Waits himself played a great drunk. A lot of his music was about being drunk and for some reason he always sounded better when you were drunk. Every weekend I'd stagger home from a club, drop the needle on the 'Heart of Saturday Night' album, and be out like a light before the end of the first track.
This happened so often that I think my brain is conditioned to drift off the moment his voice kicks in. There are two sides to the voice of Tom Waits. There's the coarse, rough, rasping sound that really comes out when he's singing live. Then there's the soft, deep, white Barry White you hear on the album version. I've chosen a live version because I love his live ramblings and I wanted to be sure I didn't drop off before I finish the post.
There's a nice meme going around at the moment called '30 Days of Music' that I thought I'd hop on. The title says it all so I guess too much explanation would be wasting your valuable listening time.
Over the next 30 days I'll attempt to post tracks that fit the below descriptions. No doubt I'll forget days and it will be more like '30 Days of Music in 90 Days', but hey, bare with me, I'll get there in the end with a list of tunes that may surprise/shock/disgust/delight/scare you.
It was the song being played as I walked through the door at St Crispin's Disco the night I took my first baby steps into the world of clubland. Having bunked off scouts to see what this new Monday night gathering at the local church was all about it soon became apparent that D.I.S.C.O. was my life.
I quickly rammed my woggle and neckerchief into my back pocket, thanked the Boy Scouts for the memories and hit the dancefloor with some footwork that made Tony Manero look like a clumsy self conscious fool with his shoe laces tied together.
OK. I didn't. If I remember correctly I shyly shuffled to the back of the room, perched myself on the edge of the wobbly table where they sold Wagon Wheels and crisps, and watched in awe as the older boys made flamboyant shapes with their torsos, not to dissimilar to those previously spotted on Yorkshire Television's Monday night disco show. They had a coolness I could only dream of and no matter how naff I know it looks now part of me still wishes I could have been the one at the center of the circle that always formed around them.
I blame Gene Kelly. From a very early age I wanted to be him. He was the coolest man on the planet as far as I was concerned. Not only was he the best dressed man in the movies when I was growing up, he was the best at getting the girls. Unlike the hairy chested, tash-lipped pin-ups of the 70's, he came from an era when being a gentleman counted for something. He didn't have to be macho to get the girl, just be nice, do a little dance and drop that cheeky smile of his. Winner. Sadly for me I could only ever achieve two of the three. Dancing was never something I took to, which is why I spent my life in disco behind the decks.
So, I've picked this track because if there was a track I wished I could dance to it is this. It's brilliant. Was then and still is. And it's got a girl playing bass... something I always love to see. I would have danced to it as I burst through the door at St Crispin's Disco. A circle would have formed within seconds and before you could say Oops Upside Your Head they'd be cheering every spin and flip. I'd have been the guy all the girls wanted to date and all the guys wanted to be.
Of course, that never happened, but the track and that night did shape a future the consisted of me watching people busting moves on dancefloors albeit from a slight better vantage point than the Wagon Wheel table at St Crispin's Disco.
At 9 minutes long remembering all the words to this is not bad for a bloke who often can't remember where he's parked his car most days.
It's the song that got me into Dylan when I was 15. He'd been noodling around in the background for most of my life but for some reason I was never interested enough to listen closer. Possibly because Dylan had nothing I wanted prior to me hearing this. What mattered to me in my early teens was all about being 'cool'. Being a great frontman, an icon of some sort, had to be part of the package. The image and the music were equals. Showmanship was half the deal and being brought up on punk McLaren told us to 'Never Trust A Hippie'. Dylan was just another hippie. To me he couldn't sing, couldn't play, didn't look great and his harmonica cut right through me.
Looking back I just don't think I was ready for a lot of his other stuff, but this simple story of Ruben Carter, the boxer serving a life sentence for a murder he didn't commit, was a great introduction. It got me into the 'Desire' album, which got me into 'Blood on the Tracks', which got me into every other Dylan album for the next couple of years.
Not a lot I can say about this other than 'just watch the video'. Well done to Sky for picking it as the music for the Champions League final in 2008. Needless to say, my team won.
I can't Imagine how I'd feel about this track had we lost. Whether you like the band or not there is no getting away from the fact that Gary Barlow is a brilliant songwriter and this is up there as one of the band's best.
This is not only a song that reminds me of somewhere, but a
song that reminds me of somewhere that reminds me of somewhere else.
This should have been the easy one. After 8 years in Ibiza I could have easily picked one of the many Balearic
classics from those wonderful times. This was my speciality after all. I was in
the business of playing records to people, which would always help them remember
their trip to that magical place. A lot of the time it was simple club fodder,
130 BPM house and electro. The big tunes that you knew would get 2000 sweaty
clubbers going nuts in a club at 6am. But sometimes in Ibiza
it requires something else.
For me DJing there was always about having ‘that’ record in
your box for ‘that’ moment. When after your first evedr gig on the island you’re invited to play a random outdoor after party that
starts at 7am, dropping Bill Withers ‘Lovely Day’as the sun rises was ‘that’ record’ for ‘that’
moment. And there are many of them. Who knows, at some point in the next 30
days I might get around to telling you why dropping Barry Manilow on the Space
Terrace or No Doubt’s version of ‘It’s My Life’ on Bora
Bora were such important moments for me in my life.
Anyway, getting back to my first line, I’ve not picked a
song that reminds me of Ibiza, but one that
reminds me of my West Coast road trip last summer. In particular an area
somewhere between LA and San Fran called Big Sur. A place that has it's own magic, something spiritual... something you just can't pin down, but you know it's there.
Everyone who really ‘discovers’ Ibiza says that there is
something mystical about the island that draws them back time and time again. Of
all the places I’ve visited on this planet Big Sur
was the closest I’ve ever come to feeling that pull. It just felt like Ibiza, and just as many DJs and artists end up living in Ibiza it's no surprise all the
beat writers and poets went to Big Sur for inspiration in the 50s and 60s. Some ended up settling here.
It’s stunningly beautiful, with winding roads that have
mountains to the right and sheer drops to the left. The view is always
spectacular. Waves crashing against rocks, elephant seals huddled together on
beaches, mountains emerging form the sea… You might not have been there but you
will have experienced it beauty in many movies.
Every morning I’d get into my car. Start my engine. Drop the
roof and kick the stereo into life. Bliss. No work. No worries. Just driving.
Eating up the culture and taking in the landscape by the eyeful. Empire of the
Sun’s ‘Walking on a Dream’ album was the perfect soundtrack for this journey. It’s an album that can go from sounding like the Beach Boys
one minute to Prince then next. There are moments that sound like they were
recorded for CaféDel Mar and others that sound like Godley
and Crème. It's just brilliant!!! A collage of sound fitting of an amazing journey.
After a few days I made sure that last thing at night I
would set up the stereo so that ‘Standing On The Shore’ was the first thing I’d
hear as I began another day of driving. Wind in hair, sun on shoulders,
accelerating on a long empty road… my god it really did feel like I was in a
movie. Granted... a movie with a crap story - Man Drives Car From LA to San Fran - but a hell of a soundtrack.
I've picked this rock-pop-disco-opera classic because it reminds me of my Dad.
It would be fair to say he wasn't a great fan of modern music when I was growing up and spent most of the time shouting 'Turn that shite over' whenever Top of the Pops was on. Jim Reeves and Irish Rebel songs were his bag.
So, despite hating pretty much everything I ever wanted to listen to, he did for some bizarre reason like Sparks. Yep - Sparks. Of all the bands to like he liked Sparks. A hitler look-a-like on keyboards and a hyperactive, shaggy haired, falsetto voiced front-man singing to music that sounded like disco from the 21st century.
One of the reasons I think he took to them was because he liked doing impressions of the keyboard player... buy hey, you didn't have to be John Culshaw to do that. Every time they'd come on TV I'd turn to my dad and he'd be there, doing it, looking out of the side of his eyes holding a black comb to his nose to make a Hitler mustache.
He'd do it every time, without fail, and it never stopped being funny. I'm chuckling now. Occasionally I'd not look across the room, pretend I didn't know he was doing it, then wait to see how long it would be before he'd give up. Even if I left it until after the song was finished and Peter Powell was introducing the next band he'd stay in character waiting for me to spot him.
They really were brilliant. Daft and brilliant. What they did shouldn't make sense, and for many probably didn't, but for me they hit the mark. If you've never heard Sparks before then give this a spin and discover more.Even today it will still blow your mind.
Bryan Glancy was a friend whose life was sadly cut short several years ago.You may not know him or his music, but chances are you will have been touched by his influence at some point in the last couple of years. Have you heard of 'The Seldom Seen Kid'? That was Bryan.
I could spend all night writing about how great Bryan is but when your brother is a poet things like that are better left to him. Also, when Guy Garvey pens a piece like 'Friend of Ours' about him then my words are quite inadequate.
Bryan's exits never had goodbyes. He'd simply pull you close, hug you with a shoulder and say 'Love ya mate'. Because of this chances are his final words to most people who miss him we 'Love ya mate'.
As a friend of his it's hard to know what impact this song has on people who didn't know him. Is it just another great song on a brilliant album? Or do they get a similar sense of sadness? Does Guy manage to bring the audience close enough with his few, well chosen words? For me, it moves me to tears every time, and such is the beauty of the arrangement I'd imagine it hard not to shed a tear even if Bryan had never walked into my life.
Today, April 19th, has been declared Bryan Glancy day. All his friends will gather after work in The Castle on Oldam Street and drink to his memory. So, of the small handful songs that make me sad, it only felt appropriate that Day 4 belongs not just to Bryan but to Elbow for helping keep his memory alive. Love ya mate.
I love Bowie and this is just brilliant. From 'The World of David Bowie' album it's a sound of him that few will be familiar with. If you've not heard the album hunt it down, there are some brilliant tracks on there.
It's so sweet and innocent. It's Bowie before he desperately wanted to be Lou Reed. No singing about bitches or drug dealers here, just good old love. Give it a listen and try not to smile.