Gig Review: Kim Wilde at Sage Gateshead, 16th April 2018

I was super excited about going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage last night.  Geth had spotted the flyer for the gig when we were at the Sage for the Go West and Cutting Crew gig back in November, and so I booked tickets ASAP.  I’ve had a few disappointments with not getting tickets for various gigs I wanted to go to in 2018, so I was really looking forward to this one.

The support act wasn’t advertised, but it was Lawrence Hill.  He’s a talented guitarist and was doing some very cool stuff with loop pedals, but some of the between-song-banter didn’t go down too well with the North East audience.  At one point, he introduced his song Driving To Win by asking who’d recently taken a road trip to the South of France…um, it’s a bit further to go from here than it is from London!  Then, when the song actually started:

Lyrics: Are we driving to win or are we driving to lose…

Me, in my head: OH GOD THAT PUN, THAT PUN, THAT IS UNBEARABLE

Me out loud to Geth: Driving ‘Toulouse’, geddit?

Geth: 🙁 🙁 🙁 I wasn’t enjoying this song BEFORE you pointed that out.

After the support, there was about fifteen minutes of intermission (Geth took the opportunity to get us another round) before Kim Wilde and her band came on.  The energy was fantastic from the start.

Kim Wilde, Sage Gateshead, 16th April 2018
Kim Wilde on stage. Note the keytar player! At some point I am going to work out how to get my new phone camera to focus properly.

The tour was in support of her new album, Here Come The Aliens, which is a great album.  I had listened to it yesterday before the gig and really enjoyed it, but the songs are even better live.  Album lead track 1969 is the best song for me, and the band played a great performance of it during the encore.

Kim also played a lot of her old ’80s stuff, which of course went down a storm.  My highlights were Cambodia, Kids In America (with which the band closed) and my favourite, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, which I couldn’t resist filming:

The show was really enjoyable, with great energy start to finish.  It was the first gig I went to this year, but it’s going to take some beating!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #6

Day 6, and we’ve arrived at 25th November 1985.

November 1985
In November 1985, the world looked like this. Knitted hats just aren’t what they used to be.

I doubt any of the artists on Now! #6 looked as cool as me and Dad in our knitted hats, but let’s have a listen anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #6
Track 1: Queen – One Vision

A favourite going back to childhood – we had the A Kind Of Magic album on CD in the ’90s and always played it in the car.

I don’t think anyone disputes nowadays that the last line is definitely sung as ‘fried chicken‘, right?

Track 2: Nik Kershaw – When A Heart Beats

Nice rock-tinged track, probably the best Nik Kershaw track the Now! compilers have included so far.

Track 3: Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart

I quite like this one in moderation.  Good chair-swayer, and great lyrics.

Track 4: Eurythmics – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

I’ve got a soft spot for this one because it was used for one of the idents on VH1 Classic back in the ’00s, when Geth and I lived in Edinburgh and could still get Virgin TV with its huge variety of music TV channels.  Love that chorus.

Track 5: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

Slightly rockier sound from Simple Minds today, great tune, especially the singalong bridge.

Track 6: Bryan Adams and Tina Turner – It’s Only Love

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Nice epic guitar riff all the way through – quite like this one.

Track 7: Gary Moore – Empty Rooms

Love the atmosphere of this one, with that wailing guitar at the start.  Everything I like in an ’80s rock ballad.

Track 8: Marillion – Lavender

Not keen on this one – the repetitive chorus annoys me.

Track 9: Elton John – Nikita

A song from a different world, where the Iron Curtain meant that English boys weren’t allowed to date Russian girls, or something.  It’s quite a nice tune, but there’s something a little dull about it for me.

Track 10: Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

Love this one.  I think I came to it late and it was actually the Placebo cover in 2003 that introduced me to it (the Placebo covers album did that for a lot of songs).  In this case, the original is much better though.

Track 11: Level 42 – Something About You

Nice upbeat pop, quite like this one!

Side note: Geth and I noticed when we were at the Sage Gateshead for the Kim Wilde gig last night that Level 42 will be playing there in October.  I may have another ’80s gig to look forward to!

Track 12: Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero

As usual with Tina Turner, there’s something I’m not keen on here.  I think I just don’t like the tune.

Track 13: UB40 – Don’t Break My Heart

Not quite as bouncy as you’d usually expect from UB40, but I really quite like the atmosphere of this one.

Track 14: Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin – Separate Lives

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Bit too much of a dull, slow ballad for my tastes.  I quite like the instrumentals though.

Track 15: Cliff Richard – She’s So Beautiful

Never been a Cliff fan, as I find his typical level of cheese to be pretty cringeworthy.  This one is no exception.  Blurgh.

Track 16: Arcadia – Election Day

Following the Power Station yesterday, here’s the other Duran Duran spinoff band of 1985.  Plenty to love here, with a nice epic chorus and daft video.

Track 17: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – I Got You Babe

I actually prefer this jaunty reggae version of the song to the Sonny and Cher original.  Great track.

Track 18: Fine Young Cannibals – Blue

Okay tune, but not enough of a hook for me.

Track 19: Midge Ure – If I Was

In our ’90s family CD collection, we had this one on a Top Gear compilation, I think.  I’ve always liked the tune, especially the way the verses build.

Track 20: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Cities In Dust

Nice mad song that I still hear a lot in clubs.  Highly danceable if you’re a goth.

Track 21: Madness – Uncle Sam

Typical jolly Madness track, though it’s a bit more sedate than some of their stuff.  Really like this tune.

Track 22: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Lost Weekend

Great song!  I’m going to make this one today’s top wedding disco track.

Track 23: The Communards – You Are My World

My parents had (and still have) the Communards’ self-titled album on vinyl, so it’s one of those records I grew up with.  Great dance tune.

Track 24: Paul Hardcastle – Just For Money

Jaunty mishmash of sampling based around the theme of the Great Train Robbery.  Quite like this track.

Track 25: Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme

I find this one a bit dull.  It does, however, remind me that I’ve never seen an episode of Miami Vice, which I should probably rectify at some point.

Track 26: Maria Vidal – Body Rock

This one’s a bit pop-by-numbers, nothing special.

Track 27: Baltimora – Tarzan Boy

That’s more like it!  Great hooks, classic pop track.

Track 28: Mai Tai – Body And Soul

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Much better than History from yesterday.  Vocals aren’t really to my taste, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 29: Cameo – Single Life

Not enough here to keep my interest.  Bland tune, repetitive vocals.

Track 30: Jaki Graham and David Grant – Mated

Fairly typical ballad, a bit dull and slow for me.

Original features of my ’80s house

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, but in the post-move chaos the house has been a bit too messy for pictures!

I mentioned previously that our new house was built in 1987/1988, which I was obviously thrilled about when I found out.  While things like the kitchen and bathroom have been remodelled more recently, there are still a lot of lovely original ’80s features in the house, which are a huge bonus in my view.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

'80s deco hearth
The deco-style hearth in the living room.

I love this art deco style hearth – it’s a real feature in the room.  It needs a bit of cleaning, and the fire doesn’t actually work at the moment (we need to have a look into that, but now that the winter’s over it’s not an urgent thing), but I think the design of it is gorgeous.

'80s brass light switches
The brass light switches…

 

'80s brass plug socket
…and the matching plug sockets.

Geth doesn’t like these brass fittings at all, but I love them – I’ve lived with standard white ones my whole life, and these are a lot more interesting!

'80s art deco stained glass windows
More art deco stylings – stained glass windows in the doorway from the hall into the living room.

These stained glass windows are probably my favourite feature in the house – they provide such a brightness to the living room.

'80s brass light fitting
One of the brass light fittings in the hallway.

Finally, there’s these brass light fittings – another thing that I love and Geth dislikes!  There are two of them, one in the downstairs hallway and one in the upstairs landing.  Most of the light fittings in the house do seem to be original, but these are my favourites.

It’s really nice that so many features have survived since the house was first built.  As a shameless ’80s throwback, it makes me feel much more at home.

 

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #5

Day 5’s Now! compilation was released on 5th August 1985.

August 1985
In August 1985, furnishings were still brown, newspapers were printed in a font that looks very dated now, and I looked like pretty much every other baby does. I would have preferred to avoid baby photos for this feature, but that month I was literally the only thing my parents took pictures of.

Um, let’s listen to some tracks that I may have heard but probably couldn’t have cared less about at seven months old.

Now! That's What I Call Music #5
Track 1: Duran Duran – A View To A Kill

I love Duran Duran!  Did I say that already?

I also love the James Bond films, so this 007 theme tune should be a match made in heaven.  Unfortunately, for me it’s not quite up to the usual standard for either Duran Duran or James Bond soundtracks.  Still a good tune though.

Track 2: Scritti Politti – The Word Girl

Lyrics are a bit saccharine for me, but it’s got a nice beat.

Track 3: Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F

Really great, interesting track, slightly ruined by the memories of the horrific Crazy Frog cover that everyone had as their ringtone circa 2005.

I’ve never seen Beverly Hills Cop, incidentally, though I’m sure with a soundtrack like this it can’t be bad.  One to add to the watch list.

Track 4: Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home

Great head-nodder, though the lyrics annoy me a little.  Except for ‘what is wrong with my life/that I must get drunk every night‘.  That bit’s awesome.

Track 5: Dead Or Alive – In Too Deep

Pretty boring and generic song considering it’s Dead Or Alive!  The synth solo in the middle is all right though.

Track 6: Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy – Icing On The Cake

Stephen Duffy was a founding member of Duran Duran, fact fans, though I’m not really feeling the love-by-association here.  Nice upbeat pop, but nothing special.

Track 7: Kool & The Gang – Cherish

Nice intro, but then it turns into a ballad that’s far too cheesy for my tastes.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 8: Paul Young – Every Time You Go Away

Paul Young did some great stuff, but I find this one pretty dreary.

Track 9: Marillion – Kayleigh

A longtime favourite since childhood <tries to avoid making ‘misplaced childhood’ reference, fails miserably>.  Absolutely beautiful track.  That guitar solo, the stunning lyrics – I adore everything about it.

Track 10: Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love

I quite like this one, though the backing vocals on the chorus irritate me a bit.

Track 11: David Bowie and the Pat Metheny Group – This Is Not America

Nice atmospheric song, and Bowie’s vocals are great here.

Track 12: Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)

Simple Minds don’t have that weird Scottish-’80s-band-sound-I-can’t-put-my-finger-on (come to think of it, neither do Marillion).  Maybe it was the Scottish bands who were able to lose it who were the ones that really made it big.  Or maybe it’s all in my head and there is no ‘Scottish ’80s band sound’.  It’s driving me nuts though.

Bands who I DO think have that sound: Deacon Blue, Big Country, Aztec Camera, Hipsway, Del Amitri, Hue & Cry.

Anyway, Don’t You (Forget About Me).  Because it was such a big hit due to The Breakfast Club, it’s your standard ‘the band don’t actually like this one’, but I do.  Great pop tune.

Track 13: The Power Station – Get It On (Bang A Gong)

Awesome things about this song:

    1. It’s a T-Rex cover, and T-Rex are my favourite early ’70s glam rock band and one of my favourite bands of all time.  I adore the original version, and this one is pretty great too – it’s quite different, no ‘pointless ’80s cover’ here.
    2. More love-by-association due to the fact that half the band were also in Duran Duran.
    3. Robert Palmer’s vocals.

Track 14: China Crisis – Black Man Ray

Typically nice tune from China Crisis, though I find the synth line a bit twee.

Track 15: Phil Collins – One More Night

The Now! compilers do love a Phil Collins ballad.  Thankfully, I quite like this one.

Track 16: Sister Sledge – Frankie

One of those ‘dance to it at a wedding’ tracks – pleasant bouncy song, but I don’t like it enough for it to make my playlist.

Track 17: Mai Tai – History

Good pop tune, nice singalong chorus, but a bit forgettable.

Track 18: Simply Red – Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

The ’80s are probably my favourite era for Simply Red (and for most things, let’s face it).  I love the instrumentals on this one.

Track 19: Steve Arrington – Feel So Real

A bit repetitive for me, not really my thing.

Track 20: Jaki Graham – Round And Around

Nice synths, but the vocals are a bit cheesy for my liking.

Track 21: The Conway Brothers – Turn It Up

More repetitive beats, though the track does improve as it goes.  I can’t say I’m loving disc two so far.

Track 22: Loose Ends – Magic Touch

Dull tune, bizarre irritating xylophone-sounding hook, vocals not at all to my taste.  Actively dislike this one.  It’s the kind of song that would have exacerbated my travel sickness on long car journeys as a kid.  There’s a generic sax solo about two-thirds in that provides a bit of welcome relief from the vocals, but it can’t save the song.

Track 23: The Commentators – N-N-Nineteen Not Out

Not on Spotify, so I had to do the YouTube Pause (TM).

While I do love Paul Hardcastle’s Nineteen, this parody always amuses me, despite the fact that being a Scot I don’t even understand cricket.

Track 24: U2: The Unforgettable Fire

It’s the kind of song I’d normally find pretty dreary, but there’s something about the atmosphere of it that I quite like, especially when it builds towards the end.

Track 25: The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down

Another Style Council song that I actually quite like!  They’re on a roll.  It’s Dee C Lee’s backing vocals that really make this one for me.

Track 26: Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine

I’ve always found this one pretty irritating, I’m afraid.  If you play it at a wedding I will be at the bar ordering another cider.

Track 27: Gary Moore and Phil Lynott – Out In The Fields

Gotta love that guitar riff.  I can’t tell you how refreshing a good singalong rock song is after what has been a fairly mediocre second disc for this compilation.

Track 28: The Damned – The Shadow Of Love

Nice bit of goth rock to follow, too!  Things are looking up.

Track 29: Howard Jones – Life In One Day

The song’s fine, but it’s the video that’s the awesome thing here.  When I was searching for it the other day, it took me ages to realise that it actually was the proper video, due to the bit at the start with the announcer (and given that the auto-complete when searching on YouTube throws up ‘howard jones life in one day official video‘, I’m clearly not the only one).  I doubt they were actually being prescient enough to troll people searching for the video on a then-unimaginable technology more than thirty years later, but if they were, it worked.

Track 30: Jimmy Nail – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Bit of an over-the-top ballad, but there’s something about the atmosphere of it that I quite like.

London Marathon 2019!

I’ve been making an effort to get back to running again – I went out for a short run last Tuesday and then to parkrun yesterday – because race season is starting again soon (my first race is the Sunderland 10k on 13th May) and I need to get training.  It’s generally been a bad winter for my running, partly because of the crappy weather, but mainly because the move has taken up all of my mental energy, and when I’ve got a big thing like that going on, exercise does tend to take a back seat, unfortunately.

I can’t let it slide next winter, though, because in April 2019 I’m running the London Marathon – my first (and probably last) marathon!

I was lucky enough to get a ballot place for London Marathon 2018, but with the move there was no way training would have ever happened this year.  Thankfully, the London Marathon organisers give you one opportunity to defer your ballot place for a year, so I’ve opted to do that, and will be running in 2019 instead.  It also gives me an extra year to prepare and get fitter before the event.

I’ve run three half marathons (and will have run five by the time I do London), but everyone says the full marathon is a very different beast, so I’m going to have to be absolutely religious with my training.  I’m hoping for a really good season this year (no injuries would be nice!) to give me a good base for the winter.

I’m also hoping we’ve seen the last of the cold and wet.  Let’s just have spring and its associated good running weather now, please weather gods!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #4

Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).

November 1984
In November 1984, there were still far more houseplants around than there are today, and soft furnishings featured a lot more brown (probably a hangover from the ’70s).

I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?

Now! That's What I Call Music #4
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]

I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original.  Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.

Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams

Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites.  Great synthpop, love this one.  That chorus!

Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?

Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.

Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story

Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day!  (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.)  Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.

Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign

I like the guitar instrumentals.  Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end.  Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in?  You almost never hear that in pop of this era.  Interesting.

Track 6: John Waite – Missing You

A favourite.  Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.

Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love

Bit saccharine for my liking.  I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.

Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello

I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship.  The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.

True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song.  I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.

Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song

Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue!  I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.

I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017.  It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back!  I am in love.  I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.

Um, back to The War Song.  ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too.  Sorry.

Track 10: Elton John – Passengers

I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.

Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes

Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.

Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!

I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.

Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review.  Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.

Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now

Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.

Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself

I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified.  Quite like the song too.

Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer

I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.

Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life

Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.

Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer

I quite like the jauntiness of this one.  It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.

Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden

Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion.  Great tune and atmosphere.

Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.

Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father

Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube.  So inconvenient.

As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.

Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls

Awesome uptempo synthpop.  OMD delivering the goods as usual.

Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time

Great piece of pop!  It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics.  It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.

Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow!  I’M SO EXCITED.  Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.

Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing

A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune.  Nice lyrics though.

Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters

How can you not love this one?  The ultimate party song.

I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band.  Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again.  It’s just a case of finding the time!

Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again

Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.

Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)

It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.

Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water

Good danceable song, great instrumentals.

Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics.  It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.

Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

I LOVE this song.  Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties.  Awesome video too.

Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly

Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in.  Is there an instrumental version of this?

Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight

Fairly typical ’80s soul.  Nice tune, if a bit slow.

2018 Ciders #24: Thistly Cross Real Elderflower

Another day, another variety of Thistly Cross.  This is one that my parents brought down last weekend.

Thistly Cross Real Elderflower
Thistly Cross Real Elderflower.

Real Elderflower is very tasty – the best elderflower cider I’ve tried – and actually feels quite light, so it’s a nice one for the summer.  It’s not too sweet either, so I’m not at risk of drinking it like juice.

Only one more Thistly Cross variety to log.  I wonder when that will show up?

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #3

It’s day 3 of the Now! reviews!

Now! #3 was released on 23rd July 1984, so hopefully its summer release means that there won’t be any Christmas music on this one.

July 1984
This is how the world looked in July 1984! I am sort of in this picture, because it’s a picture of my pregnant mum and her awesome ’80s coat.

Review time!

Now! That's What I Call Music #3

Track 1: Duran Duran – The Reflex

What was it I said yesterday?  Yeah.  Insert daily ‘I love Duran Duran’ statement here.  This one, as ever, is brilliant from start to finish – the backing vocals, the slightly mad lyrics, the chant-along bits on the chorus.  Love it.

Track 2: Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

I find this one a bit repetitive.  Not Nik Kershaw’s most exciting song.

Track 3: Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You

Not hugely keen on the disco stuff that was still kicking about in the ’80s anyway, and this one’s not even danceable in my opinion.

Track 4: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion

Love me some OMD.  This one’s a bit bouncier and dafter than their usual stuff, but that’s no bad thing.

Track 5: Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes

Good song – that short guitar intro is great, as is the tune in general – but the nuclear-war-themed video is really depressing!

Track 6: Howard Jones – Pearl In The Shell

Nice upbeat intro, nice synth line, nice vocals, and I do love a sax solo!  Fairly standard Howard Jones.

Track 7: Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me

Great synthpop track – and I would expect no less from Blancmange.

Track 8: Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

Boring ballad.  Westlife and Mariah Carey did an even worse version of this in 1999, a pointless ’90s cover* if ever there was one.

Track 9: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes

Great party song!  Another nuclear-war-themed video that I find tough to watch despite its cleverness, because the Reagan and Gorbachev impersonators are really ‘uncanny valley’.  I guess we know what was on everyone’s minds in 1984.  This is the reason I decided to illustrate these posts with family photos rather than current events of the time.

Track 10: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)

A good head-nodder, with a great vocal, but not really my kind of thing.  I do quite like the fact that ostensibly anti-drug songs were a big thing in the ’80s (especially in comparison to the endless, boring and crass drug references in modern-day chart music), though I’m not sure how tongue-in-cheek this song’s message was.

Track 11: The Specials – Nelson Mandela

Another one that was used to good effect in Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.  This one always makes me think of the time in 1989 when my parents took me to the ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ march on Glasgow Green (I still have the badge).

Track 12: Womack & Womack – Love Wars

I wasn’t familiar with this one, but I like the atmosphere of the verse, before the chorus gets a bit haphazard.

Track 13: The Style Council – You’re The Best Thing

I find this one pretty dull, and the chorus annoys me for some reason.

Track 14: Bob Marley & The Wailers – One Love/People Get Ready

Classic sway-in-your-chair track.  Love this one!

Track 15: Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy

Wonderful synthpop – that stunning intro!  A favourite, and also a regular feature of Geth’s DJ setlists.

Track 16: Queen – I Want To Break Free

I’m not going to call this one a ‘guilty pleasure’, ’cause I don’t feel guilty about loving it at all.  Everything about it is awesome, from the epic intro to the Coronation Street homage in the video.

Track 17: Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

Now this is a good ballad – nothing dreary about this one.  Beautiful tune, lovely instrumentals.

Track 18: Alison Moyet – Love Resurrection

This one reminds me of long car journeys as a kid with my dad’s Alison Moyet CD on the car stereo (I found out last Christmas that my brother vehemently hated that CD, but I really quite liked it).  I love Yazoo – as I mentioned yesterday, Only You is my all-time favourite song.  I’m not quite as keen on Moyet’s solo material, but it’s still good stuff.

Also, nowadays whenever I hear the lyric ‘show me one direction, I will not question again‘, I always think of One Direction.  Thanks, 21st century, for ruining things yet again.

Track 19: The Bluebells – Young At Heart

Another song (following Relax yesterday) that was re-released in 1993 and hence ended up on my Greatest Hits Of 1993 compilation!  Maybe it was 1993 that was the first true era of ’80s nostalgia.  I don’t blame people for wanting to get going with that as early as possible.

Track 20: Bananarama – Robert De Niro’s Waiting

I quite like this one, but then I’ve never come across a Bananarama track I didn’t like.  I remember knowing the title of this song for ages before I actually heard it, ’cause it’s mentioned in the blurb for Love In The First Degree on Now! #10 (we’ll get to that a week from today).

Track 21: Propaganda – Dr Mabuse

I wasn’t familiar with this one, but I like its dark, epic atmosphere and lyrics.

Track 22: Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It

Not my favourite Tina Turner song, but I do like the epic vocals on the chorus and the snatches of synth during the bridge.

Track 23: The Flying Pickets – When You’re Young And In Love

It’s no Only You, but still a nice a cappella cover.

Track 24: Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

A classic!  A perfect party tune, and then there’s the colourful video, which was one of those videos that really defined the ’80s, with the neon clothing and the Katharine Hamnett t-shirts (appropriately, I’m wearing her more recent Choose Love design today!)

Track 25: Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up

The harmonica instrumental annoys me, and I usually like harmonica.  I’m not a huge Thompson Twins fan anyway, but I’m really not keen on this one.

Track 26: The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men

We’re at a wedding reception, and I’m on the dancefloor again!  You can’t go wrong with this fabulous party track.

There have been various pointless ’90s and ’00s covers of this one.  I’ll forgive them, as it’s always a banger no matter who covers it, but the original is far and away the best.

Track 27: Gary Glitter – Dance Me Up

Um, I’m quite surprised that I’m actually able to stream Gary Glitter on Spotify given what we know about him now, but I’m guessing he doesn’t actually get any of the streaming royalties.  Um, right?  I should probably look into that.

The song itself isn’t much to write home about, certainly not compared to his early ’70s glam rock stuff.

Track 28: The Art Company – Susanna

The Art Company, in contrast, haven’t put their stuff on Spotify, so I’ve done the uber-lazy ‘tribute version on the playlist’ for this review.

It’s a good song, actually.  Maybe I’d better give the actual Art Company version another listen sometime!

Track 29: Madness – One Better Day

Bit of a slow one for Madness!  Nice tune though.

Track 30: David Sylvian – Red Guitar

I was only previously familiar with David Sylvian’s stuff with Japan, not any of his solo tracks.  This one’s a bit dull, but the instrumentals are nice.

 

*In my terminology (and, I imagine, that of quite a few other people), a ‘pointless cover’ is one that doesn’t change enough things from the original track to make it worth recording a new version, and is hence just a shameless cash-in.  The ’90s were absolutely terrible for this, but it’s happened frequently in other decades as well.

2018 Ciders #23: Thistly Cross Original

My parents brought some more Thistly Cross down for me last weekend, meaning I have some new flavours to log.

Thistly Cross Original
Thistly Cross Original.

Thistly Cross Original is the earliest (obviously) and strongest of the Thistly Cross varieties.  I first discovered it when it was the only variety of Thistly Cross you could get – back when Geth and I still lived in Edinburgh, there was a wee shop across the street from us called Nina’s that always sold interesting beer and cider.  Geth would always pick up Polish beer – Tyskie and Zywiec – and I would grab the Thistly Cross, which they usually had in stock.  It’s 6.2% vol, so it does knock you out a bit if you have too many at once, but it’s very tasty – the taste is similar to the Traditional variety, but more strongly alcoholic, as you might expect.

I don’t often drink this one nowadays – I usually have the lighter varieties – but it is nice occasionally.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #2

Day 2, and today’s collection was released on 26th March 1984.  I briefly just now considered adding a daily ‘fun fact’ to this feature about what was going on in the news at the time, but frankly that would probably be so depressing that I doubt I’d still be functioning by July, so let’s make it a contemporary picture from the ol’ family album instead.

March 1984
This was the way the world looked in March 1984, with Grundig TVs and vinyl collections and houseplants everywhere! My dad is still into building harps and other folk instruments, proving that some things don’t change.

Right, on with the music!

Now That's What I Call Music #2
Track 1: Queen – Radio Ga Ga

I love Queen and their shamelessly anthemic rock, and this chanty, clappy track is no exception.  Sing along!

Track 2: Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good

I prefer The Riddle, but this one’s still a great track, especially for the video with the dodgy ’80s special effect applied to Kershaw’s suit.

Track 3: Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

It’s nice ’80s pop, but I don’t find this one particularly exciting.

Track 4: Matt Bianco – Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed

I wasn’t familiar with this one.  Fairly typical for Matt Bianco, that ’50s rock ‘n’ roll style done on ’80s synths.  Not playlist-worthy, but a good bouncy track.

Track 5: Carmel – More, More, More

Two mid-century throwback tracks in a row (this one has more of a ’60s lounge feel) are making me crave some straightforward ’80s synthpop.  Come on, Now! compilers…

Track 6: Madness – Michael Caine

…and it’s Madness.  That’ll do in a pinch!  A little more sedate than most Madness tracks, but I love the tune.

Track 7: The Flying Pickets – Only You

The original version by Yazoo is my favourite song of all time (I walked down the aisle to it).  I love this a cappella version too, though it has become a bit too associated with Christmas for this time of year due to its status as the UK Christmas number one for 1983.

Track 8: Nena – 99 Red Balloons

I always hear the original German-language version of this song, 99 Luftballons, in goth clubs, proving that goths will dance to anything if it’s in German.  I do like this one, though.

Track 9: Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Slightly cheesy admission: I used to listen to this song every day after work in 2001 when I started my first job aged sixteen, purely due to the lyric ‘when the working day is done‘.  I’m nothing if not literal.  It was around then that I was first getting into ’80s nostalgia and had cultivated an appropriate ’80s playlist using Audiogalaxy (remember that?).  This was a highlight, though I consider it a bit overplayed nowadays.

Scary time statistic: 2001 was the exact midpoint between 1984 and 2018.  Ouch.

Track 10: Tracey Ullman – My Guy’s Mad At Me

I love this one mainly for the video featuring contemporary Labour leader Neil Kinnock.  From my 2018 whimsical millennial viewpoint, I really like the fact that he used to do stuff like that, though I can understand why it resulted in the mid-’80s British populace not taking him seriously enough.

Politics aside, there is also a pleasing quantity of 20th century telephones in the video, and I am a huge geek for 20th century telephones.

Oh yeah, and there’s a song here too!  It was originally a Madness song from 1979, and though I love Madness, I think I might actually prefer this version for the unexpectedly gentle intro.

Track 11: Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

This one is often featured on BBC coverage of running events, so I’m quite fond of it for that reason.  It’s probably a good thing that my clumsiness with constantly knocking headphones out means that I can’t listen to music while running, because my running playlist genuinely would be stuff like this, rather than properly hi-tempo ‘run faster’ music.  Who wants to work out to boring modern trance when you can have Gassenhauer and the Chariots Of Fire theme tune?

Track 12: Julia & Company – Breaking Down

A bit disco for me, but a pleasant background track.

Track 13: Joe Fagin – That’s Livin’ Alright

It’s very dad-rock, not really my kind of thing.

Track 14: Hot Chocolate – I Gave You My Heart (Didn’t I)

There was a point a few weeks ago when Geth was complaining about Vintage TV always playing Hot Chocolate’s dafter tracks (the channel’s current favourite seems to be Girl Crazy) rather than their serious songs.  I was like, ‘Geth, NO ONE listens to Hot Chocolate for their serious songs!’  I do stand by my point that they’re better at party tracks than ballads, but in recent weeks I have developed a liking for It Started With A Kiss, and this one’s all right too, what with its pleasantly lazy sax solo.

Track 15: Snowy White – Bird Of Paradise

A bit slow for me, but it’s a nice tune.  I do like the epic guitar solo in the middle as well.

Track 16: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

This one was actually a childhood favourite due to its re-release in 1993 (and subsequent inclusion on another compilation, The Greatest Hits Of 1993, which was the first album I ever bought for myself, on cassette).  As an adult it’s one of those wedding DJ songs where I can’t resist dancing.

Track 17: Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again

I love Eurythmics, especially their more melancholy numbers like this one.  Synth line + Annie Lennox’s voice = instant win.

Track 18: Howard Jones – What Is Love?

Great song, more lovely synth, pretty video shot in Paris.  1984 in a nutshell.

Track 19: The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make?

The Smiths are one of my ‘soundtrack of 2003-2004’ bands, when I was busily acquainting myself with the entire back catalogues of every major goth and indie band from the ’80s.  I always liked this one as it’s quite jaunty.

Track 20: Fiction Factory – (Feels Like) Heaven

Nice pleasant jingly track, fairly standard ’80s pop.

Track 21: Re-Flex – The Politics Of Dancing

Good head-nodder, but nothing special for me.

Track 22: Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive!

Great, unusual song for the time.  Love that bassline, the high vocal on the chorus, the trumpets, the general bizarre atmosphere of the track.

Track 23: China Crisis – Wishful Thinking

Nice comforting synth, nice dreamlike vocal, generally nice background music.  Not one I could dance to, but a lovely tune.

Track 24: David Bowie – Modern Love

I love Bowie, but this is on the duller side for me.  Let’s Dance is the real stormer on that album in my view.  I do like the ‘get me to the church on time‘ lyric, though.

Track 25: Culture Club – It’s A Miracle

I’ve always found Culture Club a bit hit and miss, and this one’s a miss in my book.  There’s something kind of annoying about it, probably due to the overly-upbeat instrumentals and Boy George’s cheesy lyrics and…yeah, this one is too much even for me.  Sorry.

Track 26: The Rolling Stones – Undercover Of The Night

It’s driving me nuts that the title isn’t written as Under Cover Of The Night.  I realise it’s deliberate, in order to add to the sexual meaning of the song, but it’s still painful to read.

As for the song itself, it’s classic Rolling Stones with added ’80s guitar and funk bass.  What’s not to like?

Track 27: Big Country – Wonderland

I have to be in the right mood for Big Country; a lot of the time (today included unfortunately) the guitar instrumentals drive me mad.

They’re emblematic of a sound that was very particular to Scottish pop-rock in the ’80s – it’s difficult to explain, but when I come across a Scottish pop-rock band from that era that I’m not familiar with, I can always tell they’re Scottish without looking it up (and it’s not an accent thing, they all sing with transatlantic accents).  Some day I’ll work out what the exact musical reason is, but for now I’m just going to call it a superpower.

Track 28: Slade – Run Runaway

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite bands (huge glam rock fan here)!  Brilliant shout-along anthem.

Unfortunately, Slade have never got round to putting their music on Spotify (sort it out, record label that I can’t be bothered to look up right now!).  This meant I had three options for reviewing this song: 1) wade into the dumping ground that is our study and open all the boxes in there trying to find my Slade CDs; 2) find the song on YouTube; or 3) just add a tribute version into the Spotify playlist instead.  I went with the extremely lazy 3), just so I wouldn’t have to pause my playlist.  Sometimes, I am just as terrible as everyone else in this wretched decade of convenience.

Track 29: Duran Duran – New Moon On Monday

Without looking ahead to the track listings on the next few Now! editions, I imagine the first few entries of this blog feature are all going to feature the words ‘I love Duran Duran’ somewhere.  This one is no exception.  I love Duran Duran, especially their first three albums with the classic lineup, and I love this song.  Epic chorus, great instrumentals, daft video (especially the ridiculous 17-minute version).  Brilliant ’80s fun.

Track 30: Paul McCartney – Pipes Of Peace

My eye is twitching at having to listen to an unabashedly Christmas song out of season (this one was featured on our family’s favourite Christmas compilation, That’s Christmas, which I grew up with in the ’90s, so it’s very associated with the festive season for me).  Lovely song…when it’s December.