Saturday, 25 February 2012

SFR Soundsystem 25022012

So, here's the playlist for tonight's show. Typing this up and listening back at the same time - to see where I went wrong! Didn't feel like one of my better shows for some reason. Spilling coffee everywhere half way through probably didn't help to be fair! 

Played two tracks by ska bands from Indonesia; both good tunes but I have absolutely no idea what they were singing about. Not that that really matters, after all, how many opera fans speak fluent Italian (or whatever language operas are in) and actually understand what they're warbling about? Hoping to collaborate with another SFR DJ on a one-off pre-recorded World Music show at some point - not on a Saturday night though - watch this space as those with very little imagination say. 

More Rocksteady than usual in this week's show, possibly reflecting a busy week & me choosing more laid-back music to listen to in the evenings. Also played more cracking tunes from the Do The Dog label; pay-day soon - feel a little shopping spree coming on (sale now on). Enough waffle - here's the playlist:
  1. Jimmy Cliff - Ska All Over The World
  2. Madness - The Young & The Old
  3. Too Many Crooks - Headline
  4. Souljah - Sudah Sudahlah
  5. The Authentics - Untukma
  6. Prince Jazzbo - Crab Walking
  7. The Upsetters - Croaking Lizard
  8. Max Romeo - One Step Forward
  9. Arthur Kay & the Originals - Warska
  10. Pama International - Burn Down My House
  11. No Doubt - Everything's Gone Wrong
  12. The Dead 60's - Riot Radio
  13. Stacked Like Pancakes - Mr Sane
  14. The Beat - I Confess
  15. ETTIN - Try To Pretend
  16. The NoMarks - Apathetically Yours
  17. The Viceroys - Sometimes
  18. Nicky Thomas - Lay Lady Lay
  19. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Corner Stone
  20. Niney the Observer - Blood & Fire
  21. The Ethiopians - The Whip
  22. The Pyramids - Prisoner Of Alcatraz
  23. The Mighty Offbeats - Don't Judge Me
  24. Jeramiah Ferrari - Fatty Man
  25. The Selecter - Jackpot
  26. Prince Jammy - Fist Of Fury
  27. Flight 404 - Stop That Train
  28. The Silvertones - Sweet And Loving Baby
  29. The Maytals - Pomps & Pride
  30. Jim Brown - See Him Deh
  31. The Caroloregians - Hootchie Corner
  32. Laurel Aitken - The Ska Is The Limit
  33. Baba Brooks - Girl's Town Ska
  34. Prince Buster - Train To Girl's Town
  35. Mark Foggo's Skasters - One
  36. 3 Minute Warning - Weekend Waster

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ooh, Coldplay. Great!

It's the Brit Awards tonight. I know this to be true because my Twitter timeline is full of people (myself included) slagging off the annual attempt by the media machine to pretend it gives a shit about music and not just the money to be made by feeding us the same tepid, uninspiring, pseudo-edgy cack they celebrated last year, and the year before that. The BBC News website's lead story on the Brits at this precise moment tells us "Adele, Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine and other big names from the music world gather for the Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London." Dull, dull, dull.


Despite living in an area not exactly blessed with opportunities to see 'big names from the music world' perform, I personally wouldn't give up a Tuesday evening to watch that parade of pap. Not that such a bonanza of the boring would ever be held in the provinces; heaven forbid the London-centric world of media-friendly mediocrity ever venturing out of their cosy little world of back-slapping banality.


There will be the usual Brit Awards clich├ęs trotted out tonight. Expect some 'outrageous' behaviour by some fame-hungry wannabes who mistake getting pissed and making an arse of yourself for actually making a statement about something. This is the musical equivalent of mediocre boxers trading handbags at a press conference: something for the media to froth at the mouth about but with as much genuine feeling as an air-kiss from a distant aunt at a wedding you didn't want to attend in the first place.

Apparently Coldplay are nominated for an award too but don't ask me which one. I made the effort to look up the nominations but really couldn't be bothered to read beyond the first two so I didn't get as far as the category Coldplay are in, 'Band most likely to make you become Amish' perhaps? Even the Outstanding Contribution to Music award failed to make me feel any more favourably towards the Brits. I'm aware that some people will violently disagree with me on this, but Blur have not made an outstanding contribution to music. Don't get me wrong, they're OK and have made some agreeable enough music, but personally I'm not a big fan. They are in good company though; previous winners include Cliff Richard, Status Quo and Queen. They're all safe but dull too.


There are wonderful things happening in the real world of music. There are people out there making music for the love of it. There are people making music that matters - music with a message. Others make tunes that are quite simply joyful. I wouldn't expect to see either of these on the Brits.


So I'm avoiding this year's Festival of Faeces. I'm avoiding Twitter for the rest of the evening. Much as I'd love to join in the slagging of the Brits I fear I'll just end up irritable and ultimately as bored by the slagging off as I would have been by the event itself. As soon as I've finished this little rant I'm off to put a film on. About now, actually. T'ra.


ps Seems I missed James Corden too. That's cheered me up!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

SFR Soundsystem 18022012

I had the great pleasure of following my son Danny onto the 'airwaves' tonight. My playlist duplicates his a little - we both played Bombskare, The Specials, The Maytals & Prince Buster. I like to think this shows we both have incredibly good taste rather than a lack of imagination! 

I couldn't resist playing the version of Double Barrel from TOTP introduced by Tony Blackburn that I referred to in an earlier post this week; likewise the following 2 songs from Nicky Thomas & Freddie Notes were in a similar vein. I also referred to Drewvis in a blog post this week & played him tonight just to remind everyone how brilliant his stuff is! 

Bang the Skillet favourite Life Is Good always goes down a storm on my show. They are touring the UK later this year & are looking for gigs to fill the schedule - if you know anyone who wants a brilliant ska band to play their venue, please point them in the direction of http://www.bangtheskillet.nl/ Plus, if you fancy helping a great ska band get their album out there, visit: http://www.sponsume.com/project/bang-skillet-mad-about-ska

Last, but perhaps most importantly, I got the opportunity to play my first track off the Specialized charity album: Urang Matang's brilliant interpretation of The Specials' Why. Please get behind this project with your tweets, posts & most importantly your wallets! It's going to be an awesome album & is for a very, very worthy cause. Full details at: http://www.specializedcharityalbum.co.uk/ - the line up is stellar & the clips & tunes I've heard so far have been absolutely brilliant.

Right, enough waffle; here's the playlist:
  1. Bombskare - Panic Button (live)
  2. Derrick Morgan - Forward March
  3. The Scrucialists - Forward Riddim
  4. The Skamonics - Tainted Love
  5. Second Time Lucky - Drink, Sleep, Repeat
  6. Drewvis - Therapy
  7. Dave & Ansel Collins - Double Barrel
  8. Nicky Thomas - BBC
  9. Freddie Notes & the Rudies - Rudexious
  10. ChainSka Brassica - All Day Long
  11. Too Spicy - Wasted Brains
  12. Popes of Chillitown - Dalking Man
  13. Madness - Drip Fed Fred
  14. The Beat - Whine & Grine / Stand Down Margaret
  15. The Specials - Pearl's Cafe
  16. Urang Matang - Why?
  17. BANG The Skillet - Life Is Good
  18. The Aggrolites - Life Is Good
  19. Easy Star All-Stars - Great Dub In The Sky
  20. Prince Jammy - Shaolin Temple
  21. The Soulsteppers - Death Comes
  22. The Moon Invaders - Don't Touch The Dog
  23. The Bullets - Explosion
  24. The Simmertones - Over The River
  25. Chris Murray - All-Nite Dinah
  26. The Skints - Bright Girl
  27. ARTS - Poker Face
  28. The Upsetters - Kaya Skank
  29. Dave Barker & the Upsetters - Do Your Thing
  30. The Skatalites - Nimrod
  31. Ernest Ranglin - Liquidation
  32. Prince Buster - Hard Man Fe Dead
  33. Toots & the Maytals - Louie Louie

The Danny Buster Hour 18022012

My ten year-old lad Danny Buster (named after the King of Ska, not the shit Phil Collins film) made one of his infrequent but oh-so-enjoyable forays into the world of interweb-DJ'ing tonight, presenting an hour-long playlist on SFR before my Soundsystem show. Although anyone looking at his playlist may suspect that I 'helped' him to choose the tunes, I swear it was all his own work! His playlisting technique bears an uncanny similarity to mine, however: stick the media player on random & play the tunes that make you smile!
So here is Danny Buster's playlist:
  1. Prince Far-I - Natty Farmyard
  2. Roger Rivas - In This Corner
  3. Physical Jerks - Slight Suspicion
  4. Dreadzone - Fight The Power
  5. The Selecter - Bomb Scare
  6. Bombskare - The Day The Earth Stood Stupid
  7. The Specials - Hey Little Rich Girl
  8. The Maytals - Monkey Man
  9. Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen
  10. The Stranglers - No More Heroes
  11. Reel Big Fish - Take On Me
  12. Ocean Eleven - Stop That Train
  13. Prince Buster - Linger On
  14. Johnny Osbourne - Purify Your Heart
  15. The Clash - Radio Clash
  16. The Amphetameanies - Radio Spytime
  17. Phineas & Ferb - Evil Love Song

Thanks to everyone who listened & gave such encouragement. He gets a real kick out of this, plus he makes his old Dad even more proud!


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Tony Blackburn: Your Boss DJ? Er, no.

At first view the video below from Top of the Pops in 1971 would seem to suggest that Tony Blackburn was a big fan of reggae and chuffed to bits to see Dave & Ansel Collins at number 1. However all might not be quite as it seems. Before watching the vid have a read of this quote from Lloyd Bradley's brilliant Bass Culture: "Once reggae records were in the charts and presenters had no choice but to play them it was usually an excuse to abuse them. Tony Blackburn - who years later admitted the error of his ways, but never explained why he did it - was the worst offender: he'd lose no opportunity to denounce reggae as not being real music; he'd take records off half-way through because, as he'd theatrically explain, he'd had enough of them; or, if it was a cover, he'd play the pop cut immediately afterwrds and glowingly hold it up against the reggae version." Lloyd Bradley - Bass Culture, Viking p256-257

Leaving aside the possibility that our Tony might have been concerned that the girl stood to his right was wearing a jump suit made from her Gran's curtains, isn't there a hint of gritted teeth when Tony says 'particularly when it's as good as this'? 

It must have been awful for poor old Tony, having to go on 'the Pops' and pretend to like stuff he really hated. Blackburn admitted that there 'might have' been an anti-reggae bias at the BBC in interviews for the BBC's History of Jamaican Music film. 'Might have'? Not perhaps being just a tad disingenuous there are you Tony? Thankfully the sorely missed John Peel was a little more candid:

The quote from Bass Culture above continues: "In 1970, Nicky Thomas even wrote and recorded a song called 'BBC', which took as its subject matter the Corporation's shameful treatment of reggae both on and off the brainwaves. And no, it didn't get playlisted." No surprise there then! Thank God there was also John Peel at the BBC playing stuff the Blackburns of this world wouldn't touch, even if he was tucked away at 10pm. Peel also did TOTP but you always got the feeling he did it because he was contractually obliged to and viewed the whole thing with a certain disdain. Peel threatened to come and break wind in your kitchen once on TOTP - the BBC received lots of complaints. He also disliked Chris Moyles. Wish he was still with us. Wish they'd left Tony in the jungle too.

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Message To You Drewvie

As someone with all the musical talent of a bag of Brussels sprouts I've always been in awe of and also more than a little jealous of those who can make music. I'm sure there's tons of hard work involved in making music but there must also be an element of 'having a gift for it'. I tried to learn the trumpet years ago and after a couple of lessons & near lung-collapse gave it up as a forlorn hope. When my daughter asked if she could learn an instrument I gave her my old trumpet. She took to it like a fish to water and she's now taking her grades & producing sounds from it that don't set the dog howling. She seems to have the mystical 'gift' that I'm clearly so sorely lacking. Like any gift, it is something to be cherished and encouraged, which is why I was so saddened to see this on Twitter last night:

If you're not familiar with Drewvis and his gorgeous brand of acoustic ska then you really should be. His music is refreshingly different; gentle on the ears but not in a bland easy-listening sort of way. Check out the Drewvis website and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. You may also find your self asking, as I did when I first checked him out, 'why haven't I heard of this guy before?' Drew's lastfm profile shows a total of about 1,450 plays - 112 of which are mine! 

Lastfm may not be the ultimate arbiter of musical trends but it is indicative of the state of things when abject shite like Jedward have nearly a quarter of a million plays on there and REAL talent like Drew's has so few. Which brings me on to 'the issue' as I see it: how to spread the word about great music? I read this blog post from Rich Mills this morning addressing this question from the artist's perspective and it makes for interesting if slightly depressing reading. From my own viewpoint as a music lover who is passionate about hearing & supporting new music I feel Rich is preaching to the converted to a degree; the truly committed music fan will already be exploring the avenues he mentions in search of new tunes. So I suppose the question I'm asking is what can I, as a fan, do to stop talented individuals like Drew packing it in? 

First and foremost would have to be to buy the music! If you like it: buy it. Sounds simple and I know with pennies being tight it's tempting to copy a mate's cd, scrounge a rar file or rip a tune off YouTube, but if we all did that the ultimate outcome would be a musical landscape as barren and unappealing as Dawlish Warren in winter. There's a world of difference between downloading an ancient album off a long-defunct label and ripping off people who are still giving their time and talent to produce new music. Drew is obviously a thoroughly decent chap because he's giving away downloads on his website, but please don't limit yourself to the freebies. The album Disposable Pleasures & Meaningful Pursuits is available through Drew's website or from Do The Dog Records. I bought a copy and can't recommend it highly enough. 

Secondly, if you like something tell your mates - but perhaps more importantly tell your radio station of choice that you want to hear it. Mainstream radio has become sterile and has an aversion to new music BUT, if enough listeners emailed them saying 'play something new or I'm off to internet-radio' and actually followed the threat through, surely they'd have to listen? Advertisers are particularly sensitive to listener numbers; a dip in numbers equals a dip in revenue, something all mainstream media outlets are painfully aware of. Don't limit your nagging to mainstream radio though - contact your friendly internet-radio DJ of choice and ask for stuff too. Be aware though that internet-radio is gloriously free of the constraints of mainstream radio, with nobody dictating what does and doesn't get played. Personally I have a simple rule: if I like it I'll play it, if it doesn't float my boat I won't play it - but I will pass it on to someone who I think might like it and play it. As an aside, I've recently read a few album reviews on blogs like mine where people have mercilessly slagged off albums by new or emerging singers/bands. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just how small-minded do you have to be to take this attitude to someone's work? If you don't like something that's fair enough, but why not vent your spleen & spill your bile on the wannabes who took the x-factor  route & are consequently earning buckets of cash for having very little talent? They have the media machine behind them and can take it - leave the real musicians alone. Sorry, rant over.

Thirdly, if you like someone's stuff - tell them! Musicians need to feel the love as much as anyone; for every brainwashed teenage girl tweeting their adoration of Bieber there should be a dozen real music fans telling real musicians that they're appreciating their stuff. Sounds Utopian I agree, but if we don't try we'll get nowhere. We have become a world of 'passive receivers' of entertainment, sitting on our arses digesting music with the same regard we'd give a bag of crisps. Crisp manufacturers don't need our encouragement - musicians do. 

I'm sure there are dozens of other ways we can help keep music real and ensure people with the gift of music continue to share it with us and if anyone has any other ideas please share them. But for now I'm just going to use this post to send a personal message to Drew. I originally titled this post 'Don't Do It Drewvie' but then the ska-related-pun machine in my subconscious came up with the title above so here it is: 
A Message To You Drewvie - Don't Give Up. Please. 
You have a gift mate, people appreciate it & it would be a tragedy if that album you're working on never saw the light of day. My message to everyone else who listens to & likes Drewvis would be "Share the love - tell him!" Free Brussels sprout to everyone who does.*



* I was joking about the free sprout.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

SFR Soundsystem 11022012

The usual mixed bag of old & new ska, classic & skinhead reggae plus a smattering of dub again this week. It would have been Bob Marley's 67th birthday this week and I played Concrete Jungle off the Catch A Fire album, but not the more familiar album version. This is the original mix and how the track sounded before being remixed by Island to make it more palatable to English listeners. The 2001 Deluxe cd issue has both the original Jamaican mixes and the album as it was eventually released. To me the original versions are much better, without the strings and extra instrumentation and with the original bass in all it's glory before being watered down by Island's studio bods. Island also dropped the wonderful High Tide or Low Tide for the album release, possibly making it the most beautiful song never to make it on to the album it was intended for. So here's High Tide or Low Tide for you to listen to while you peruse this week's playlist:

  1. The Pioneers - Reggae Fever
  2. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Concrete Jungle
  3. Rita Marley - Pied Piper
  4. Jimmy Cliff - Hard Road To Travel
  5. Madness - Johnny the Horse
  6. The Downsetters - Interskalactic
  7. Ernest Ranglin - Dr No-Go
  8. Smerins Anti-Social Club - Dr Who
  9. The Scofflaws - Man with the Golden Arm
  10. Prince Buster - My Girl
  11. Chainska Brassica - Wasting My Time
  12. The Pietasters - Sketch Dub
  13. The Ethiopians - Fire A Mus Mus Tail
  14. Phyllis Dillon - A Thing of the Past
  15. Alton Ellis & the Flames - The Preacher
  16. U Roy - Tom Drunk
  17. The Selecter - Big in the Body, Small in the Mind
  18. Smoke Like a Fish - Poison
  19. King Tubby - King at the Controls
  20. Lee Perry - Panic in Babylon
  21. Orange Street - Get Away
  22. The Mighty Offbeats - Beer Belly
  23. Mark Foggo's Skasters - Car on a Train
  24. The Planet Smashers - Hippopotamus
  25. Bad Manners - Gonna Get Along Without You Now
  26. Amiel Moodie & the Dandamites - Ratchet Knife
  27. Sir Lord Comic - Ska-ing West
  28. Prince Francis - Street Doctor
  29. The Dynamites - What Does It Take?
  30. Karl Bryan - Overproof (AKA Little Darlin')
  31. The Visions - Captain Hook
  32. Tommy McCook & the Supersonics - Liquidator
  33. Laurel Aitken - Crazy Feeling
  34. Desmond Dekker - Live & Learn (The More You Live)
  35. The Beat - Ranking Full Stop (live)

Friday, 10 February 2012

My Top Ten?

I've just been clearing out some old emails and came across this and thought I'd post it here so I could safely delete the email. Last year I sent this to SFR supremo & all-round top bloke Barnsley Sime for the regular 'listener's top ten' feature on his 4-hour Sunday Social radio show. If you haven't listened to Sime on a Sunday night then you need your legs slapped, always a cracking show and infinitely better than Downton-Sodding-Abbey or whatever other turgid pap is spewed from the telly-box on Sunday evenings at the moment. 
I said in my email to Sime that my top ten changes by the day, if not by the hour, and that's still true today. Looking back at this list, though, it's still pretty representative of my taste I suppose. I agonised for hours over this list; it seems almost sacrilegious not to have Otis Redding or Bob Marley in there, to name but two. If I was picking a top ten of what I'm listening to a lot at the moment the list would include oldies from Ernest Ranglin & Alton Ellis plus current bands like The Cundeez, Bombskare, The Simmertones, The Begbies, The Girobabies... Only time will tell whether these newer bands would be in my top ten list in, say, 10 years time; I rather suspect a couple of them will but times and tastes can change. I may even find myself re-discovering Shakin' Stevens & Showaddywaddy in ten years time, digging their LP's out of the loft and the music I'm listening to now might sit gathering dust in the under-stair cupboard.
Having said that, I don't think anything will ever topple the tracks that hold the top three places in this list, but that's enough waffle and conjecture: here's the list.
In true awards-show reverse-order style, with the comment I put with each track in my original email:

10: Madness - Mrs Hutchinson (sums up my favourite band - fun, bouncy, clever lyrics)
9: Johnny Cash - Hurt (well I am a depressive!)
8: X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage! Up Yours! (just for the pure energy)
7: Orient Expressions - Istanbul 1:26am (almost moved to Istanbul years ago, often wish I had done. saw this band live in Istanbul - brilliant)
6: Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross (no explanation needed)
5: Stevie Wonder - Fingertips (just pure genius)
4: The Showmen - Our Love Will Grow (an all-time fave Northern Soul track)
3: Blondie - 11:59 (Clem Burke's drumming is sublime, drives the track along)
2: Prince Buster - Time Longer Than Rope (off I Feel The Spirit - not the one off Golden Oldies. very special for personal reasons as well as being a cracking tune)
1: Phil Coulter & his Orchestra - Good Thing Going (found years ago on a Northern Soul compilation & loved it ever since)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

SFR Soundsystem 04022012

I had to cry off from doing my show last night so huge thanks to Nikki for stepping in and covering for me at really short notice; and also for producing such a cracking playlist. So here's Nikki's playlist, hope you enjoy the show as much as I did. Thanks again Nikki.
  1. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Waiting in Vain
  2. The Aggrolites - Jimmy Jack
  3. The Slackers - Sarah
  4. Toots & the Maytals - Sailing On
  5. Drewvis - Manners Maketh the Man
  6. Bombskare - Panic Button (live)
  7. The Selecter - Street Feeling (John Peel session)
  8. Stop Press! - Old Fashioned
  9. Infantry Rockers - Rebel Waltz
  10. The Specials - Sock it to 'em J.B.
  11. King Django - Hard, Hard Thing
  12. Laurel Aitkin - Skinhead
  13. Drewvis - Liberate Never Hate
  14. The Driftaways - Oppressed
  15. The Begbies - White Feather
  16. U-Roy - Natty Rebel
  17. The Beat - Psychedelic Rockers
  18. Bad Brains - I & I Survive
  19. Chris Murray - Ex-Darling
  20. The Appolinaires - Give It Up
  21. Operation Ivy - Here We Go Again
  22. The Planet Smashers - Got to Get Away
  23. Toots & the Maytals - Reggae Got Soul
  24. Bedouin Soundclash - The Quick & the Dead
  25. The Clash - One More Time
  26. Tommy Shakespeare - Rolling Stone
  27. The Cundeez - Summer of '78
  28. Desmond Dekker - 007
  29. NoMeansNo - I Get Up in the Morning

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Retro Radio: Jingle Singles

Jingle Singles. No, not a dating site for morris dancers - although there is one on Facebook, honest! (I should point out that I only know that through research for this blog post - I am NOT a morris dancer!) 
This is a Jingle Single: 
They were recorded at Roche Recording Studios in Cornwall back in the 70's and were sold through mail-order with ad's in the music press. There's a nice blog page here detailing the studio and the creator of the Jingle Singles series. 
I've borrowed them from a mate at work who has a record collection to die for. He saw an ad a few years ago for a record collection for sale & snapped up the most amazing collection I've ever seen. The collection was being sold by the family of a former DJ who my mate assumed had died. It seems perhaps he hadn't died - there was talk of a prison sentence - but whatever had happened to him his family was happy to offload his collection as a job lot and my mate was lucky enough to get it. 
Along with all the mostly never-played records in this awesome collection were a couple of dozen 45's of jingles and sound effects, both pre-recorded ones and also some made specifically for the DJ himself:
My mate offered to lend them to me knowing I do a radio show & thought I'd find them interesting. He wasn't wrong, but I don't think I'll be using them on my SFR show. They are certainly 'of their time' and have a certain charm, which I suppose is a polite way of saying they're pretty bloody awful! Don't believe me? Try this:
As well as the Cornish Jingle Singles there are others from studios called Jumbo & Vanguard. The Jumbo jingles are much more 'professional' sounding than the Jingle Singles efforts, but to my mind not anywhere near as charming. I've put the Jumbo 'All Time Favourite Jingles' disc into a YouTube video; I think I'm reasonably safe from any copyright actions on this one!
When I get round to it I'll make recordings of all the jingles & sound effects & make them available to anyone who wants to add a bit of a retro-radio sound to their shows. Let me know if you'd be interested.