in the South Seas,
for you and me."
Scribblings from my diary …
“I’ve started chewing the side of my mouth. And picking at my fingers. And stumbling in to things. Which are sure signs that I’ve got a lot of work on. And I have. And there’s figures, so it’s not exactly very enjoyable. And everyone is in the library. And so am I. (Except when I’m out shopping for the new Curve and Cranes EPs.)”
“My name is Yon Yonson,
I work in Wisconsin,
I work in the lumber mill there.
The people I meet as I walk down the street say:
‘Hey, what’s your name?’
I say …”
Hard to imagine these days, but there used to be music shows on TV. That’s right. Music shows. On proper telly. During daylight hours. Not just Jools doing some boogie-woogie piano over the new Adele single or a one-off documentary about punk tucked away on BBC4 at midnight. And certainly not the karaoke nonsense that’s annually inflicted on us by Simon Cowell Incorporated.
These shows had great names like Snub TV and The Tube and Rapido. And they had rubbish names like The Chart Show. But, whatever their names, the best thing about them was that they’d throw up an unexpected musical treasure just as you were eating a fish finger. It’s how I found ‘Yon Yonson’. Except it was a Saturday morning, so swap in Weetabix. And how great was that. You’ve just suffered through another 9-minute Madonna video exclusive on The Chart Show, when suddenly you’re ambushed by this marvel of repetitive insanity. Here’s a young guy I’ve never seen before (and will never see again) getting increasingly irate while spouting nursery rhyme lyrics and pushing a keyboard around on a wheelchair in some bleak urban conurbation. This is what Saturday morning telly should be like.
At the time, my knowledge of The Dave Howard Singers stretched no further than this song. And my knowledge of this song stretched no further than a line on the back of the sleeve that told me Yon Yonson was a fictional character originally inspired by the novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. And that’s all I’ve wanted to know. I knew from that first time I heard it that the song’s mystery was its strength. Though I was very recently compelled to do a smidgen of research to learn if Wisconsin is actually known for its lumber mills. I’m pleased to report back that it is (thanks, Jonna).
It would be great to think that I’m going to sit down with a fish finger tonight and discover another song that’s as exciting or surprising. But it’s just not going to happen. Though some of that’s my fault as I haven’t got any fish fingers in the freezer.
As to be expected, this song doesn’t appear to have made it on to Spotify yet. But it seems more appropriate to show you the video anyway …
“But it’s too much for a young heart to take,
'cause hearts are the easiest thing you could break."
Happy birthday! To this blog. One year old today. (“Oh, this is getting all very self-congratulatory, Michael – you’ve only been back two days.”) It’s not by chance it was conceived on 4th May. But that’s for another post on another day. (Yes, narrative arc. Ooh.)
We began with my most favourite album ever: the Mary Chain’s ‘Psychocandy’ – celebrating it’s 25th anniversary last year. And I can confirm that a year on it remains my most favourite album ever. And it seems fitting that we toast today with another Mary Chain gem celebrating 25 years: ‘Some Candy Talking’. (Can you guess next year’s anniversary record already, folks?).
Lots of the usual drug-related outrage from Radio One around this single (shown here in its limited edition, gatefold double 7-inch EP version, including acoustic Peel sessions – I can see you’re impressed). I always liked to think it was about one penny shrimps and fizzy cola bottles from the Woolies pick ‘n’ mix.
What I remember most from the time was the fringe-tastic Jim and William actually gracing the cover of Smash Hits, which also printed the lyrics and some wonderfully juxtaposed photos of the brothers in a field of blooming flowers that spent the year fading on my teenage bedroom walls. I’d love to find that copy of Smash Hits again. In fact, I’m off to track it down now as a birthday present to my blog – I’ll let you know how I get on. Probably.
'Curse Amazon and its open-all-hours trading policy'
‘A Kiss In The Dreamhouse’ and ‘Tinderbox’ – Siouxsie and the Banshees
I’ve become rather smitten again with the Banshees over the past month (far more than I probably was back in my goth days) and these reissues from a couple of years back were today’s crimped hair fix.
‘Very Best Of’ – Morrissey
What a dreadful title. And yes, I’m buying all these songs for about the fifth time just to get one previously unreleased track. This is why you must never fall in love with Morrissey, kids.
‘In A Special Place’ – The Waterboys
Piano demos for 1985’s ‘This Is The Sea’. Including ‘The Whole Of The Moon’. ‘Nuff said.
‘Darkness & Light – The Complete BBC Recordings’ – The Only Ones
Had their radio sessions on vinyl from 20-odd years back and often wondered if they’d ever be released on CD. And now they are. It’s this sort of thing that makes me happy. Has inspired a future blog post. Now I know you’ll be back.
‘Lowside Of The Road – A Life Of Tom Waits’ – Barney Hoskins
Usually I avoid books disowned by singers (yes, Johnny Rogan, I’m looking at you). But this has got such good reviews and I really want to learn just what it is he’s actually singing about.
"So what's the use in complaining,
when you've got everything you need."
This was so very almost the final song I ever heard. See, how’s that for a come back? Straight in to the drama. Bet you’ve missed that.
It’s a sun-drenched Monday, 30th January 1989, and New Order have just released their very last album that was any good (fact!): ‘Technique’. And, oh, was it good. I still remember the Chris Roberts review from Melody Maker that week: ‘It was worth the wait. In Gold.’ And it was. New Order were always my concession to the joys of what we’ll call here ‘dance music’. It’s something I know very little about. But every three years New Order would pop up talking about ‘Chicago house’ or ‘Balearic beats’ and for about a week I’d feel connected to another musical world – with ‘Technique’ it was the thrills of Ibiza in nine perfect pop moments. And then I’d go back to floppy-fringed indie-boy stuff.
So my friend Chris and I have been bursting for the school lunch break so he can drive us in to Camberley town centre to pick up our copies. I’ve spent my £4.49 on the cassette version so we can listen to it immediately in his car (well, actually his mum’s Mini) on the way back. We’ve listened to the first half of the album as we stop at the bottom of a hill near the school gates to let some fellow pupils cross. And that’s when I stare death in the face. Well, in reality, that’s when I close my eyes and quickly curl into a ball in the passenger seat having just glimpsed a car come speeding Dukes of Hazzard-style over the crest of the hill behind us. Then there’s all the sounds you come to associate with car crashes from watching them every night on the telly – tyres squealing, metal scraping, etc. But now with added New Order. The fact that I can still hear Bernard singing, and have felt no impact, means Chris and I have had a near miss. And on opening my eyes, I can see the car behind has managed to steer itself on to the pavement alongside us without harming anything more important than a school railing.
I knew we’d be all right really. At 18, you picture yourself dying to Morrissey or Robert Smith, not New Order. They became like my patron saints of travel. I used to hang the cassette round my neck. No, I didn’t; so no angry comments please.
Note: My 'Technique' cassette is nowhere to be found today, so above is the 12-inch sleeve for the 'Run' remix - fact fans.