Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dear Diary:1980 - March

Huzzah and hurrah! Finally, after two long months, the PVC trousers finally land on the doormat (7th) But what's this, just four days later - 'zip fell off' - Ho hum! They surely can't be the same pair that split on the 28th! That really would be too much...

Poor ol' Geoff 'narked' on the 9th by way of fire extinguisher hijinks was one of two parkies and the softy Mr Barrowclough to strict ol' Bill's Mr Mackay. Incidentally later 'narks' included: heaving the Witch's Hat clean off of it's pole, leaving it stranded on the asphalt. Balancing a bucket of water atop Geoff's office door, which, landed perfectly placed, upside down on his bonce and had us chased all around Hadleigh by police in panda cars.

Parkie Geoff looked exactly like Oscar Goldman, lived with his mum in Benfleet and took an unhealthy interest in my PVC troos ..rolling out regular references and questions about them. Bizarrely, last week, I had a call from an old mate (Jay, appears on the 19th Feb - when I crashed his bike) - who had just spotted Geoff in Benfleet, with dyed hair 'the colour of a dog's coat' and a briefcase and mac to complete the Oscar Goldman look .

Other scraps of note - pig's ear (10th) was some biology lesson offal/off cut found and flung about on the bus (number 24) - which I think, led to the next day's reports of a rash - charming!

A quiet month musically - just the UK Subs Warhead (did they ever release anything on black vinyl) so I'll give A and B sides - the Subs Another Kind of Blues album (17th) , The Damned's Music For Pleasure (14th) and the Sex Pistols File (22nd) round out the budding punk collection..

For those who haven't heard I met Charlie Harper at a gig and got talking to his wife about Ukulele's. Turns out they're both keen uke strummers - of course I had to ask: can they play the Warhead riff on their ukes? A giggled 'Yes' was was the reply.

UK Subs - Warhead

UK Subs - The Harper

Not quite hitting the hi-randomness range of last month's charts - both Top 75s are a polarised playlist of pick 'n' mix bits...

Top 75 singles

Top 75 Albums

Oh and trailers for

Nightwing - premium cheese, but a Mancini theme

Friday, March 25, 2011

12 x 12: Going down in the subway

Sticking with a London-ish theme, we're going underground by way of a lower league release (peaking at a chart position of 24) from Soft Cell

Bedsitter, Torch, Say Hello 12“ers were all retweaked with excellent extended interludes and additions, but rather than pitch in with one of the biggie singles which seem to be fairly well represented around and about the blogs, thought it may be worth revisiting this overlooked oddity..

Soft Cell - Down in the Subway (12" Remix}

Surprisingly, I haven't flipped the single and tried the cover of Johnny Thunders - Born To Lose. Yet! The Cell's Subway vid can be viewed here: wherein Marc Almond sleazes about in a leather cap and a tache free but freshly crimped Dave Ball stands static throughout...

Like Tainted and What before - Subway was another northern cover and if you've never heard it - Jack Hammer's original mod stomper is well worth a wallop

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pie in this guy

For the purposes of research, balance and bit of extra boot-filling - it seemed only fair to visit two of London's other legendary eel and pie houses - both called Kelly...

First stop - G Kelly, 414 Bethnal Green Road - of the three shops tried, this East End eaterie is easily the most functional and fru-fru free. Almost East European in it's minimalist finish: from the wonky white tiling, to the splashed vats and blocked window filtering the outside light into an all-day-grey interior tint.

However for old-school authenticity it's unbeatable - with framed photos of local boxing legends hung above the tables and a foggy, waft of boiling spud-steam, mash and liqour saturating the shop - creating a carbohydrate blast so heady it was a time jolt straight back to the seventies. Like the 'locals only' tabacs and bars you'll spot but never visit abroad.. .Kelly's can have the feel of a minimal-eye contact gaff - in, out and put the kettle on as Monkfish used to say... but having said that, for all it's bare-bone decor - this Bethnal Green pie-house is the easiest commute for me and I will be revisiting.

But back to the food - the mash was a highlight and a delight - super smooth and creamy, served alongside a decent enough pie and liqour.

Scores on the Doors

Pie - 8
Mash - 9
Liqour  - 8
Total - 25

Special mentions:  the earthy, eastenders atmos' and the smell and spirit of Pie shops past..

By contrast G Kelly (no relation), 526 Roman Rd is like wafting into the an episode of the Duchess of Duke Street,  where be-pinnied dinner lady types dust the doorway with brooms and finish every question with "love?'

It's bright, inviting and bustling with locals and office escapees. For the few moments I was a Kelly's customer, playgroup-run mums were nipping in for multiple pie take aways or treating the kids to an eat-in lunch. Add in it's neat, clean Victorian(ish) interiors: dapple grey marble, clean steel,  eel themed windows and mirrors - and it could be the perfect place to start if you're a pie and mash newbie. Kelly's menu also a offers a veggie option, fruit pies and crumbles to tempt the sweet toothed and a frozen option for stashing away.

Pie-wise this was the meatiest of the three venues, and similarly the most generous with the portions - Kelly's double mash is closer to a triple, although too under-salted for me, it was rescued by the almost pitch perfect liquor flooding and filling the plate.

Scores on the Doors

Pie  - 8
Mash - 8
Liqour -  9
Total - 25
Special mentions: Victorian interiors, friendly, family atmosphere, extended menu options and belt-busting portions

Kelly's Interior - found on Flickr

Big Boss Man - Pies And Pastiche

Friday, March 18, 2011

Food Week: London's most Classic Cafe

Entering Pellicci's can be like walking into the middle of frenzied film set - the Pellicci family seem to be on fast-forward as plates are passed, punters are seated or reshuffled to accommodate yet more punters, the vintage till rattles and clangs, regulars bubble with banter, while orders are collected and barked to an always offstage Mama Pellici clattering outback in the kitchen...

Perhaps this cinematic rush and bustle is why Pellicci's has such a heavy hit rate for celebs. Possibly it's the original deco interiors - Grade 2 listed since 2005. Or of course it could be the top notch nosh - traditional cafe fry ups and a mix of English and Italian classics.

After queing for seating one Saturday lunch time, we placed four individual orders - all plus/minus/swap variations on the Full English - owner Nevio Jr memorised the entire selection, relayed vocally the ad hoc lot to Mama Pellicci and sure as fried eggs are fried eggs, within minutes, the exact servings arrived piping hot with every portion present and correct.

The kids loved it: the fizzing atmosphere and fuss-free but generously proportioned, perfectly turned food. It was clean plates all round and they're itching to get back - luckily working around and about that way I've managed a couple of cheeky revisits since..

An unexpected bonus to our Pellicci's trip was being sat next to Eric 'Monster' Hall, who after our midday breakfast had been polished off, was more than happy to chat about his career working with everyone from Bolan to Tony Bennet and Sinatra to the Sex Pistols...

So before I clear away food week - I'll leave you with a couple of extra helpings of Pellicci Goodness..

Pellici's celebrity album

The meatball queen of Bethnal Green

Big Boss Man - Beat Breakfast

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Food Week: Pie, mash and liquor..

Who ate all the pies

Dropped, slopped and steaming onto a plate, pie and mash may not have much instant eye-appeal, but eats-wise - the bulky blend of tasty pastry and meaty morsels with mash swamped in creamy green liquor is a magical medley - and a once-tasted never-forgotten treat.

It's a London dish as traditional as pearly kings and Beefeaters and a flavour that of late, I've been on a galloping great buzz for. Flick through the Dear Diary posts and you'll find occasional P and M mentions buried in the entries.  Typically if we nipped up to Nan's - a visit to Cooke's for pie and double mash with a walloping dollop of liquor was on the menu. Our regular stop off  (Kingsland Road, Dalston) has since been Shanghaied - literally, but thankfully Cooke's pie and eel shops still populate the capital's map.

Bob Cooke - 4th generation currently running F. Cooke,  Broadway Market

It's been almost twenty years since I last tucked into a serving of genuine London pie and mash - but the cravings have never fully faded. So bowling along to the  Broadway Market branch of Cooke's recently I had high hopes for my pie ideals, but was bracing in case those sensory memories had become retrospectively over-cooked.

But chums I'm pleased to report, chowing down on plateful of F. Cooke's finest was like falling through a taste experience time tunnel - those pies, that mash and their delicious liquor haven't changed in any way - from the top of the crispy pitta-style pastry  to the last parsley particle, they remain simply the finest pies in all of Londinium.

If you've never tried proper pie and mash - do it, and do it now - get yourself to Broadway Market or a branch nearest to you and fill up before these institutions of London life become Starbucked and lost for ever..

The Earthworms - Mo Taters.

Mash from Chaos/filthy liquor - Cook and Jones at Cooke's

Scores on the doors for Cooke's

Pie - 9
Mash - 8
Liquor 10
Total - 27
Verdict: Lip-smacking, ace-tasting

Friday, March 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Suzy Norman salutes Cymande's home grown funk..

It's the return of the Roman Empress aka Suzy Norman. Previously Suzy posted a spectacular entry on the motif of 'he' fronted songs with enhanced oomph from 'she' backing vocalists - although this was blog-whacked by the DMCA meanies some while back.. Typically you'll find Suzy parked up at Queen Margot and the Supper Club or twittering hereabouts @suzynorman  - today however, she bring us the breakdown on shoulda-been-bigger Brit-funkateers Cymande pronounced (sah-mahn-day)

Not enough people have heard 70s band Cymande and that's a shame but there's a few reasons why they haven't. Here's the rub – they're difficult to categorise.

They're funk - not from America (where funk thrived) - they're British (British West Indian). They're not reggae or dub, so they weren't likely to be chart fodder (as reggae was in the UK) or even play down the speakers as The Clash prepared themselves backstage (The Clash often warmed up the crowd with dub).

So how would they fit into the British contemporary scene? Where Sly and The Family Stone stormed America, our funk outfit - just as good, skimmed under the radar. The band who describe their music as “nyeh-rock” spent years trudging venues in London to unspectacular avail but America welcomed them.

So, the fact that America was more funk-orientated than here aside, why is it that they went down so well over there but not here? A big factor is that in the states they had Bob Schwaid behind them (also responsible for pushing Al Green and he was a member of the production-management team of Astral Weeks). In short, they had good promotion.

Says John Schroeder: “Philly had got 'The Message' and went wild for Cymande.”

Back in Soho, Schroeder rescued them from being a rambling assortment of musicians and hangers-on with great potential, to a well-produced outfit. Originally there to see a band that cancelled, he saw something that night he felt sure could be great with a bit of development. Initially finding the band unfocussed and without a clear inner-management structure, he had

The working relationship was problematic, not least because of the lack of a clear vocal presence (they swapped singers on numerous occasions) but nonetheless he picked three tracks from the wreckage and polished them up in a Dean Street Studio. This was the beginning for them, although not in Britain and a short-lived American reception - one of rapture, didn't remunerate for many, many years.

Eventually, due to sampling they made some money but in their day they were only a going concern for a few years and by 1974 they disbanded. Much later on they were sampled by knowledgeable and appreciative musicians: 'Dove' was used as the thread in The Fugees' The Score, Def Jef's Give It Here pads out its scratching and rapping with 'Bra' and King Tee launches straight into the smooth groove of 'The Message', using it throughout his short number, On Tha Rox.

In the words of Malachi Trout: 'Underplayed and underrated though they were, Cymande had got 'it'!' And as a newspaper headline crowed: 'Our loss was America's gain' - but only for a time. They were a smooth, accomplished and well-produced motley crew of individuals waiting for that all-important recognition. Deserving the limited but eager reception they did receive, they just tasted it too fleetingly.

See for yourself. Here's 'Brothers On The Slide' from the Renegades of Funk album:

As a bloggy bonus - you can grab Cymande's The Message as part of Soundhog's booty remix - here

Monday, March 7, 2011

Podrophenia - 13: Covers, guest starring Mr PCCP

Which 90s popstar did we decide, could be a Banana Split-a-like. And what's that he's reading? As Mick pointed out...it ain't Dear Drooper

To borrow a phrase from Neil Pop Culture Care Package - podcast the 13th is all about value for money. As well as the usual ten tunes - we've added - no extra cost to you the listener.....

1 extra guest - Neil from PCCP

A bumper 25% extra running time

Covers is the theme - so expect to hear ABBA, Marvin Gaye and a Velvet Underground rarity all given musical make overs..

Natter-wise we touch on casting Last of the Summer Wine from Rock stars, tales from Neil's courting days (soundtracked by The Fall and Southend's Sid Uren) and Malawi's No More Tea Vicar news in Piley's Newsround..

Podrophenia 13 - Covers

Or piped via iTunes if that's your pref'

Friday, March 4, 2011

12 x 12: I don't need this pressure Ron

To round off our run of 80s retromania - I'm pitching in two tricky-to-track down 12"ers, both of which I believe are still unavailable in a digital format..

Until they started punting out a run of soapy soul from True onwards - Schpandau Ballet (as Tommy Vance inisted on calling them) were achingly hip and always several beats ahead of the trend-pretenders: kilts, black leather, checks and corduroy - literally new looks for every release..without the assisted swish of a stylist...

So two curiosities from the catalogue then..

Spandau Ballet - Chant No 1(Remix) *offline temporarily*

A Richard James Burgess remix (that'll be him from Landscape)  found only on the flipside of the Instinction 12" or the Diamond box set, more on that in a mo' - one of the few alt-versions I remember hearing in a club and sounding impossibly now-wave (see also ABC's white label, the Human League's Love and Dancing mix of Love Action and most Soft Cell 12"-ers)

Spandau Ballet - Paint Me Down (Remix)*offline temporarily*

Again heard in the same club (Zero 6) and almost impossible to find until getting a limited release on the Diamond Album box set - where all 8 album tracks were given the extended remix treatment and pressed on 4 x 12" singles

Finally a spin of the under-played poppet that is...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Now! That's What I Call Q the 80s

Flexipop one of the greatest pop mag's ever - you can catch an interview with its inventor Barry Cain here..

Following on from Friday's guest blog-spot, I've picked a few tunes from Matt Rudd's Q the 80s playlist for scanning with a wily eye. The full rundown and reveal of Matt's Sunday evening show can be found by tuning in here.

The Ginger/Beard Theory: much like beards are now the musical shorthand for alt, edge and earthy honesty - ginger glints (or Caribbean Sunset as I believe it's currently called) were used as a similar indicator of non-production line pop during the 80s.. thumb through this selection and you'll see what I mean.

When someone invents Grange Hill - The Musical *copyrights idea* This Nutty Boys anthem would have to be the end of show spectacular - it's like a fun size Willy Russel's Our Day Out expressed through the medium of Blockheads influenced North London Ska..

Kajagoogoo - Ooh To Be Ah
Harmless but hopeless weren't they - a Happy Shopper Duran Duran you could say. Nick Beggs (bass) was like Orville the Duck meets Mark King. And don't get me started on the sacrilegous use of Lord Harold of Lloyd for this sleeve.
Spot the ginge: a double whammy - ye olde perma-grinner on drums and ermm that other one

Bronski Beat - Tell Me why
It is the taste of snakebites and the smell of dry ice and poppers (what was the variety that didn't give you a raging micro-headache though), with horns that sound re-purposed from Heaven 17's Height of the Fighting. Although The liveliest version of Why is the 12" and can be found on the Hundreds and Thousands album. I spotted Mr Bronski snooping around Forbidden Planet 2 in the summer of 84 you know.
Spot the ginge:  wee Jimmy somerville

Duran Duran - Save A Prayer
Pre-dating the 90s Pan Pipe buzz - Prayer is the sound of a jacuzzi/infinity pool scored for glossy 80s fop-music. Has this been sampled by a rap or chill type remixer - it should be. Better yet, Le Bon has reigned in his signature honk for this bubbling tooty-fluter. Pop Quiz: do you know what the Sex Pistols/Duran link is ?
Spot the ginge: vacuum packed cheeks and pouting like a champ - it's Nick Rhodes. Although several Duranies did strawberry blonde variations

Sputnik were the New York Dolls of the 80s: clockwork rockers in fright-wigs and high heels doing video game glam, double drums and Rollerball bass with rockabilly riffing - what's not to like? The most exciting thing since the Pistols - if you were there at the time (and liked the Pistols and Sputnik at the time). The explosivest Love Missile Remix can be found on the rare Video Edition 12"  (see below). The $ci-Fi $ex $tars scarcity is also worth a squint. Did you know Bowie covered Love Missile - grab at the bottom of this post..
Spot the ginge: Degville's Clockwork Orange outsize syrups

Wham!  - Wham Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
Got this on 12" (Inner Vision label) - bought Sept 82, after a holiday in the south of France, camping with two mates..Dave Wright (you'll spot his name on the Dear Diary entries) and Kurt (now the headmaster of a local private school). Some joker had apparently nicked most of the campsite's record collection, meaning the DJ in residence was restricted to playing the exact same set every night - 'You set could your watch by it' I remember someone saying.
For those who haven't heard -  I experienced the most spectacular moment of hi concentrated-campness  in the summer of 83, while meeting George Michael, Paul Gambacinni, Leee John and Limahl in the cocktail bar of the Camden Palace.  Leee John and Limahl were furiously trying to out swish each other, George Michael sulked at the bar and Boy George and Marc Almond were downstairs. Rusty Egan DJ'd and Steve Strange MC'd - Now that's what I call the 80s

OMD - Messages
Much better than I remembered atually, but I can't forgive Andy McWhatnot for that dire dancing - it's woeful. Like a new born deer trying to steady it's creasing knees. Only out-skittered by the those two guitar twits from the fine young cannibals. Electricity for me remains their finest moment

Eurythmics - Love Is A Stranger
Is it me, or does she really sing 'so it's circumcision' - and why is Professor Wilf Lunn moonlighting as a chauffer?
Spot the ginge: Annie Lennox reworking Bowie's Man Who Fell to Earth wardrobe

AC/DC  - Rock n Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
R.O.C.K. The riffs have been lifted by bootleg remixers and hip-hoppers, the songs now soundtrack almost every action film - you literally can't argue with that. Surely they're due for a Bond theme soon (or perhaps Goldfrapp)? It's the sound of a Ray Harryhausen Dino-fight re-rendered as hi-volume wallop and flat capped throat shredding..

The SFW vid..

Lead off single from Undercover - the album that gets an unjust kicking in the catalogue  (Dirty Work is the deepest the Stones ever dipped) - Undercover of the Night is all hoodlum guitar,  voodoo rhythms, pulse pumping drums and a banned Julian Temple vid - still keeping naughty into their fourties. Good work Stoners..

David Bowie - Love Missile F1-11