Saturday, October 25, 2008

halloween spooks

Going away for a few days so just wanted to squeeze in a quick Halloween post.

Firstly if you haven't played Survive The Outbreak yet, go and do it now. A choose-you-own-adventure-style, interactive zombie film, this is the future of film-making.

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Halloween Spooks

Picked this up from New York earlier this year (a beautiful original 1961 pressing of their "High Flying with..." album). An expensive and cumbersome piece of hand luggage. Especially when I realised that all of the tracks are apparently included on another CD. Whatever - I do loves my vinyl.

Messer Chups - Fantomasofobia

I was introduced to this odd Russian band on the way down to a wedding earlier this year. They struck me as being a direct cross between The Cramps and "previously featured on Domino Rally" Coconut Monkeyrocket. So - wild 50s style b-movie soundtracks, twangerrific guitars, surf drums and crazy vocal samples. Will definitely put the swing into your Halloween festivities.

And they're Russian and the album I have is called "Crazy Price" - hours of fun saying that in a stern Eastern Bloc accent!

Buy - Lambert Hendricks & Ross, The Hottest New Group In Jazz
Buy - Messer Chups, Crazy Price (import CD)
Buy - Messer Chups mp3s from eMusic
Visit - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross (wiki)
Visit - Messer Chups (site)
Visit - Messer chups (wiki)

Friday, October 17, 2008

happiness is egg shaped

The great Tony Hancock in a series of adverts made for the Egg Marketing Board in 1965.

Eggs - A Pit With Spikes

Another song rescued from Ferric Oxide oblivion by the marvel that is eMusic. This was given to me by the oft-referenced (on these pages, anyway) Archdeacon of Pop, top drummer and indie obscurist.

We exchanged a lot of tapes over the years but this track wasn't on one he did for me - rather, this was a tape for brother Ox. If I remember rightly, this compilation consisted of the weirdest stuff in his collection - lots of Tinklers amongst other cranks and, as always with the Arch, a little bit too much Jad Fair.

Nonetheless, Archie's tapes always threw up the odd belter and I remember him going on about this track and the Eggs for quite a while. I know absolutely nothing about this band other than what I've just read about them on AllMusic, so to pretend otherwise would be daft.

I'm not even sure if I got what this song WAS (never mind what it was about) at the time - I thought maybe it smacked of the indie-kids fear of funk. Now I think it's just a band in the studio going, "you know what would sound really stoopid here...??!"

And thus is most great Art made...

Buy - Eggs Teenbeat 96 Exploder from eMusic
or pay over the odds for a proper CD

BTW, thanks for all the comments after the recent post where I was thinking about pulling the plug on the blog. This week I've found myself with a lot of spare-time, hence the blogging explosion. Let's just see how it goes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

i don't fancy yours much...

The Dead Milkmen's 1988 album Beelzebubba was an album that a friend lent me when I was at college. I think it's fair to say that Bod, for that was his nickname, saved me from a lifetime of listening to very dour and serious post-hardcore art-rock. And he did this solely by introducing me to something called COLLEGE ROCK.

The Dead Milkmen - Punk Rock Girl

I mentioned Camper Van Beethoven in a recent post and I didn't know if there was a link between the two bands - aside from the snotty vocals and irreverent humour. Having just looked at the DM site, there is a link (of sorts): "We returned from a tour once to find them [CVB] camped out in our house".

The Dead Milkmen - Smokin' Banana Peels

I remember my brother and I finding this song, and the "mellow... it's so mellow" bits, hilariously funny at the time - now it sounds like a weird post-Up-On-The-Sun Meat Puppets track. This is no bad thing, obviously.

The Dead Milkmen - The Guitar Song

This was always my favourite track, due mostly to the weirdly moving impassioned delivery. I don't know which Milkman sings it but I first heard it at the same time that Whose Line is it Anyway? was gently tickling the ribs of the UK. As such, in my mind, I see Greg Proops.

Visit - The Dead Milkmen
Visit - The Dead Milkmen (wiki)
Buy - Beelzebubba...
... although Death Rides a Pale Cow: The Ultimate Collection looks pretty good!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

tears of a clown

As Domino Rally winds it's way to it's inevitable demise (the seemingly endless gaps between posts are never a good sign, are they?), take heart from the fact that I'm going to get through the list of songs that I intend to share with you before I pull the plug. Yes, despite appearances to the contrary, there is an element of planning in what I do here!

I recently delved into the the world of the comedy song, looking at the work of DJs, actors and the like, as well as yer dedicated comedy songwriters.

But what happens if you're one of these last but you wake up one day and think, "actually, I have deep thoughts that matter" and remove your clown shoes?

One such band was The Divine Comedy, who peddled a very British strain of kitchen-sink banter since forming in 1989. They were never strictly a comedy band but achieved success when Neil Hannon adopted the pose of a rakish dandy for Something for the Weekend in 1996 and released a series of quirkily comedic songs like Generation Sex and National Express. And, of course, Hannon wrote the theme tune and the genius My Lovely Horse for Father Ted.

However, in 2001 they released Regeneration, a definite move away from what had become their signature sound. Neil took his suit off, put on some baggy combats and stood in the street with his bandmates. Like a proper band.

The Divine Comedy - Love What You Do

They recorded Regeneration with Nigel Godrich, who since then has become a by-word for "Danger! Thom Yorke crossing!" Back then I knew him as the bloke who did the last Pavement album and my favourite Beck album, Mutations. He really does have a knack for recording synths and a way of setting the tone with a few well-placed textures, as evidenced on this track. Listen for the great wobbly sound that kicks in at 1.34.

The Divine Comedy - Eye Of The Needle

Blimey, has it got cold in here? It's not exactly "it's hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country", is it?

Visit - The Divine Comedy
Buy - Regeneration

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

operation grand slam

Again you find me sitting at home suffering from some dreaded lurgy or other. Ah well, at least I have another round of free downloads from eMusic with which to entertain myself.

Pussy Galore - Dick Johnson

Pussy Galore - NYC:1999

These tracks are really making me feel quite a bit better today! Rancorous, scuzzy, skronk-rock from back in the day when 'Alternative Music' actually seemed to mean something. No way would these guys end up on an advert for a mobile-phone or some lifestyle-enhancing people-carrier - complete with a special holster for yr iPod.

The only things PG could promote would be food stamps or methadone. Or they could present a TV show about ways to scavenge for food in the inner city, like a gritty, drug-soaked urban-netherworld Ray Mears.

Dick Johnson comes from an album that was originally slated to be called Make Them All Eat Sh*t Slowly. Thankfully the record label intervened and the title was changed to the much more Woolworth's-friendly Dial M for Motherf**ker.

Visit - Pussy Galore (wiki)
Buy - Pussy Galore from eMusic
Buy - Pussy Galore CDs from Amazon

Monday, August 18, 2008

new standards

Being in Italy last month meant that I missed the broadcast on Radio 3 of a recent live set and interview from The Bad Plus on BBC Radio 3. I have spoken of my love for TBP on more than one occasion so I was really chuffed when a friend managed to record the broadcast and burn me a copy, which I now share with you. I've decided not to pick and choose individual tracks as the broadcast seems to build up its own head of steam. The running order is as follows:

The Bad Plus - Live at the Jazz Cafe London, June 2008 (plus interview)
(1hr, 54 MB)

[1] Dirty Blonde (Reid Anderson)
[2] Giant (Reid Anderson)
[3] Metal (Gyorgy Ligeti)
[4] And Here We Test Our Powers Of Observation (Reid Anderson)
[5] Flim (Richard D James)
[6] Have You Met Miss Jones (Rogers & Hart)
[7] Physical Cities (Reid Anderson)
plus interview

Earlier this year me and Mrs Domino finally made it over to New York - totally by chance our visit coincided with The Bad Plus' weeklong residency at the Blue Note, which is where I took the above image. It was great to go into that legendary club (smaller than you'd think) and see what is still one of my absolute favourite bands.

Even better was being in Greenwich Village the day before our visit to the Blue Note, queueing outside the Magnolia Bakery, when who should join the queue directly behind us but the mighty Dave King, mental drumming powerhouse of TBP. I'm rubbish at talking to people who I really admire but I couldn't let this past - I like to think I didn't embarrass Dave in front of his kids!

Here's a track from last year's Prog album, an interpretation of "Tom Sawyer" by Rush. Read Dave King's comments about Neil Peart here.

The Bad Plus - Tom Sawyer (Rush)

I don't have the original (whither Marc-o?) but I did find this great video. See also, Rush playing Tom Sawyer on 'Rock Band'.

Visit - The Bad Plus
Visit - Do The Math (TBP blog)
Buy - Prog

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

let's go fishing for the question

The tape this track came from is lost to the winds of time (or to my lovely brother). Whatever, this track's for Oxbow, 'cos if he hasn't got it he will love it.

This tape was made for me by Darius, ex-guitar-mangler and chief-Oasis-botherer with Derby music legends Cable - we went through a phase of going 'round each other's houses for tea and rifling through our respective record collections. Not very rock 'n' roll, I know, but some good tapes were made - well, I did OK out of the deal anyway.

As I say, this tape has long since left my possession but this track has stayed in my head for about 10 years, frequently popping up on my internal shuffle.

Kramer - I'm Your Fan

I've always thought this was a fantastic track and age has not withered it - f*cked-up chipmunk vocals, lazy strumming, tappy-tappy percussion, paint-the-sky solo and all.

Darius had the triple-LP box set of Kramer's The Guilt Trip - I can't remember if he had the album before Cable recorded their second album with Kramer in New York, or if it was a gift from the man himself.

Looking at his wiki page, I'm very interested to hear the results of Kramer's "Brill Building" project on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

All my mates work with Kramer, btw - not just Cable but Manchester's fabulous Night Jars, too. When do I get a go? Harumph.

Buy - The Guilt Trip and other CDs direct from Kramer
Visit - Kramer

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

illness as art

The tracks in this post came from a tape called 'Illness as Art', done for me in September 1989 by a friend of mine called Nicola. I can't remember how I first got talking to her but she'd recently spent a couple of years at school in America so she seemed terribly exotic to the 16 year old me.

Her tape introduced me to lots of interesting stuff including the Dandelion Adventure, whose Puppy Shrine album I bought soon after getting the tape. However, the tracks that really stayed with me betrayed her time at school in the US, consisting of what used to be called 'College Rock'.

Camper Van Beethoven - The Day That Lassie Went To The Moon

Camper Van Beethoven - Opie Rides Again/Club Med Sucks*

* if i was being true to Nicola's compilation I'd have removed 'Opie Rides Again' as this was edited off my tape.

CVB were one of those touchstones of US alternative music in the late 80s, like Violent Femmes - for example, I'd heard of 'Take The Skinheads Bowling' long before I ever heard it.

The Feelies - It's Only Life

This was the other stand-out track from this tape (via Shallyboy's music, not available on eMusic). That's a heck of a Lou Reed affectation on the vocal - the influence further underlined on the rollicking cover of "What Goes On" later on in the album. On the whole they're like a US Echo & The Bunnymen - Marc-o, if you're out there, is this the Paisley Underground?

Visit - Camper Van Beethoven
Visit - The Feelies
Buy - Popular Songs Of Great Enduring Strength And Beauty by CVB
Buy - Only Life by The Feelies (pricey import)

Image from here

Friday, July 25, 2008

drop me in for the badda-das

Bad News was the spoof New Wave of British Heavy Metal band featured in the first series of The Comic Strip Presents... This metal spoof was in production at the same time as This Is Spinal Tap.

Obviously Tap has had more long-term success but Bad News put a quintessentially English-toilet-circuit spin onto the pretensions of musicians, heavy metal or otherwise. Sometimes they overdid the 'we can't play our instruments' jokes but anyone who has ever been in a band (especially one that has been in a recording studio) will wince in recognition at some of the studio dialogue here.

The lines 'drop me in for the badda-das' and 'I've never had to move my arm up and down so many times in my life' definitely passed into Johnny Domino lexicon.

Bad News - Excalibur

Bad News - Warriors Of Genghis Khan

Bad News - Hey Mr Bassman

The characters were in the main extensions of the Young Ones archetypes - Ade Edmondson's Vim Fuego had the same barely-controlled rage as Vyv (just slightly more coherent), Rik Mayall's Colin Grigson was self-important, effete and pretentious in the same way as Rick, and Nigel Planer is just as dopey being Den Dennis as he was as Neil.

It's pretty clear that the Bad News boys had been listening to the infamous, hilarious Trogg Tapes. For more band-based shenanigans see also Father Ted's A Song for Europe - "play the f**king note!"

Buy - Bad News
Visit - Bad News

Friday, June 27, 2008

yah dude!

The world is funny old place and as A Tribe Called Quest said, "things go in cycles".

I have been on at dear brother Ox for absolutely AGES to do a post about The Stupids - or lend me his vinyl of "Peruvian Vacation" so I could do one. I've finally got round to doing it. And what do I see in today's Guardian? A review of the same album's swanky new deluxe edition CD...

I have to say, I'm really chuffed that a band like Les Stupides is getting the reissue treatment. As the review says they were a strange band - perrenial Peel-faves who often popped up on the pages of Smash Hits.

And, as the kids would say, they certainly did shred... make no mistake.

The Stupids - Virgin Bombshell Fucker / It's Fun To You

This is the opening one-two punch that opens Peruvian Vacation and for me it will always be the sound of hay fever.

To explain: there is a really cold room in our parents' house where me and Ox would go to get some respite from streaming noses and sneezing during the summer holidays. Days were spent playing records and eating ice lollies, and Peruvian Vacation was one of our favourite albums to play, representing a level of energy and enthusiasm that we could never hope to acheive post-sneezing fit. Good times.

It also makes me think of my old skateboarding school friends, Batesy and Fletch - do people still wear Vision Streetwear?

Buy - Peruvian Vacation
Visit - The Stupids (myspace)
Visit - The Stupids (wiki)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


With apologies for the extended period of radio silence - I hope this will make up for it. Just right for the second day of British summer time - looking out my window at some increasingly mouldy garden furniture.

But who needs to feel down when there are footstomping party-bangers like this?

Bar-Kays - Knucklehead

Taken from "Soul Finger" which my dear brother Ox gave me for my recent birthday. Vinyl is always appreciated, and this track fair took my face when I first played it.

Buy - Soul Finger
Visit - Bar-Kays (home page)
Visit - Bar-Kays (wiki)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

gary shandling

I've been thinking about posting some Butthole Surfers stuff for a while but the announcement that the (kind-of *) classic line-up is reforming for some US and European dates seems like the perfect opportunity.

(* By the way, the "kind-of" is because Paul Leary's involvement seems pretty much minimal. Wonder if Ta-Da the Shit Lady will be coming along for the ride...)

Anyhoo, the Buttholes album I've listened to the most is piouhgd. Not - admittedly - the coolest choice but for a long time this was the only album of theirs that we actually owned (who else misses tapes?).

I recently got hold of the Latino Buggerveil reissue which also includes the Widowermaker EP. We had this track on tape off an old Peel show for years and it was great to hear it again.

Butthole Surfers - The Colored F.B.I. Guy

Funnily enough, I was convinced it had a somewhat less contentious song title back then (a series of numbers, something like "1408" - any ideas?). Whatever, it just goes to show that maybe Gibby really did want to be in REM after all (from Double Live).

piouhgd has apparently been disowned by Gibby and Leary but one of the reasons I really like it is the weird way in which it has been recorded. All of the drums sound exactly like the default settings on an Alesis HR-16 drum machine - and I do mean EXACTLY, even down to the stereo positioning and the fact that, unless you change the levels, the hi-hats and cymbals are way too loud.

Did they have a complicated technological set-up that enabled King Coffey to play the sounds live? or most likely, did they programme the whole album onto a drum machine in this configuration? Whatever, it's quite odd for a band who had previously had two drummers to drop live drum sounds.

Similarly, it's an odd decision for a band so closely aligned to the 1988 Melody Maker Arsequake scene that it sounds clearly like the guitars weren't recorded going into amplifiers but were stuck directly into the mixing console - that's why the distortion is so very fuzzy and hissy. The whole album is pretty tinny sounding - whatever, a band called the Butthole Surfers were never going to be Steely Dan, were they?

Yes, there are some crappy stoner humour tracks (and possibly a few too many versions of Lonesome Bulldog) but the opening double whammy of both "Revolution"'s is still one of my favourite Buttholes moments. I've stuck both the tracks together for your improved listening pleasure. Enjoy!

Butthole Surfers - Revolution Part 1 / Revolution Part 2

If you're wondering, Gary Shandling is "just one of those people who haunt me", according to Gibby.

By way of aural demonstration of the recording style, there's an old Johnny Domino song that we recorded with the exact same sounds. It's part of The Best of the Shithouse Masters download available here. Lead guitar and distorted bass straight into the 4-track and more-or-less default settings on the HR-16 that we used on all of our "proper" recordings. It's the Scorpions/Euro-rock pastiche called Reachin' For a Reason (and that's still the most righteous guitar bit I ever played, even if it was a joke).

piouhgd was released in 1991 and - along with albums by The Jackofficers and Leary's History of Dogs - was one of the reasons that Rough Trade filed for bankruptcy in the same year. Quite the legacy!

Buy - pioughd/Widowermaker
Download - pioughd/Widowermaker from iTunes
Visit - Butthole Surfers
Buy - Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life - the chapter about the Buttholes is worth the price alone

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

i feel sorry for the elephants

Being 10 years old at the time, The Young Ones TV show came about at completely the right time for me and my mates at school. So when they rose from the dead to record the first Comic Relief charity single, I couldn't have been happier.

Little did we know that this would eventually lead to The Stonk by Hale & Pace.

As Vyv says, "Completely ready when you are, Shaky!"

Cliff Richard and The Young Ones - Living Doll

The Young Ones - (All The Little Flowers Are) Happy

This is the B-side to the single, the kind of fly-on-the-wall-in-the-studio scrapping that Messrs Mayall, Planer and Edmondson would perfect with Bad News. But that, my friends will have to wait until a later time...

Visit - Comic Relief
Visit - The Young Ones
Visit - The Young Ones at the BBC
Visit - Cliff Richard

Sunday, April 27, 2008

memory lane

A quickie featuring some recently requested re-posts. If there's owt you want to hear again, drop us a line and we'll try to oblige. Thanks to Bokura no Poppopo~!, Katman and our old friend Anonymous for stopping by!

The Muppets - Halfway Down The Stairs
read the Original Post

Van Dyke Parks - The Eagle And Me
read the Original Post

The Ink Spots - I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire

read the Original Post

Rabbinical School Dropouts - Cosmic Tree

read the Original Post

On a similar tip, I've put together a quick MuxTape of some of my favourite DominoRally moments - have a listen!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

old tige

I've recently been trawling for humorous songs from the darkest corners of my collection. Obviously, if you're going to do anything at all about comedy in music, you have to feature Half Man Half Biscuit. They're kind of the blueprint for how you can do this kind of thing well and for a long time - you just need to have a bit of intelligence.

I remember an article in an old copy of Smash Hits that looked at the finances of contemporary (mid 80s) musicians and the only act to make any kind of profit was HMHB. Wish I could remember who else was featured, but I do know they all had massive major label advances up the wazoo.

Half Man Half Biscuit - Old Tige

This was from their first Peel Session and was always one of my favourite recordings of theirs. Musically it's a pretty faithful talky-song until 1.29 when Nigel obviously gets bored and drops the cheesy American accent. At the end it all dissolves into some quite chilling Muttley-esque laughs.

Jim Reeves - Old Tige

The other week I was going through some of my late Grandad's old records when I found this, the original version of Old Tige. I still like the Half Man Half Biscuit version, but I really like the Jim Reeves version now as it shamelessly tugs at my heart strings.

The Biscuits didn't change any of the words in their version but even though I've heard them mercilessly ripping this song to shreds for years, I'm not ashamed to say that this is one of the saddest things I've ever heard - especially when the ghostly chorus cranks up in the dying seconds of the track.

If this doesn't get you, you either have a heart of stone or have never owned a dog.

Or you never had a Grandad who had a dog and who loved soppy country music.

Visit - Half Man Half Biscuit
Visit - Jim Reeves
Buy - Gentleman Jim - Definitive Collection (*doesn't have "Old Tige" but I can't find it anywhere. any ideas?)

Friday, March 07, 2008

fab fm

As far as novelty records go, acts like the previously covered Barron Knights were your hardcore committed act. I mean, they weren't playing at this stuff, this was their job and what they did.

But amongst the many regular dabblers in novelty, none strikes the fear of God into right-thinking listeners more than the Radio DJ. Endlessly enamoured of the sound of their own voice, the many hours DJs have to empty their brain-pan into a microphone just aren't enough for them. So they decide to release a novelty single and the world cries itself to sleep.

Kenny Everett - Snot Rap

Kenny Everett was always my favourite comedian when I was a kid - he was just so stupid and inventive and definitely ahead of the game in the modern short-attention-span stakes. But this is pretty bad stuff.

In his defence, five years later some people were still making the mistake that rappers were tone-deaf morons who just talked over backing tracks. I'm thinking in particular of Prince's Dead On It from 1988's Black Album.

What follows is one of the darkest corners in my record collection. For Christmas 1982, my Grandmother bought me 3 singles: Our House by Madness, Musical Youth's Youth Of Today and this.

Young Steve & The Afternoon Boys - I'm Alright

Steve Wright was the mainstay of Radio 1's afternoon programming. Pop Hits, a host of wacky characters and lots of catchphrase comedy. The kind of thing to get you through an afternoon at work and lead you up to your journey home. I don't know if he came up with the masterstroke that was "Alright?" before Michael Barrymore, but as far as catchphrases go, it ain't much is it?

Steve is still on the radio, having shifted over to Radio 2 to play inappropriate tracks on Sunday Love Songs. Typical phone-in request:
"This weekend my beautiful daughter is marrying her wonderful partner and all of the family are so proud of her. Can you tell her that I love her very much and play Back To Black by Amy Winehouse? Thanks Steve, love the show."
It's also worth catching to here some truly terrifying letters from people wanting to make contact with lost loves from many years ago. I'm sure I've heard listeners aged 50 and over trying to get in touch with people they haven't seen since they were eleven. Steve Wright: the stalker's friend.

Damien & The Social Workers - Damien

Damien the Social Worker was one of Steve's characters. Basically he was a bit of a hippy, a bit wishy-washy and he was (to 1982 eyes) unnecessarily concerned about the environment and the crap that people put into their bodies. It's almost as though Steve was inventing Gillian McKeith.

Visit - Kenny Everett
Visit - Steve Wright fan page (with audio clips)
Buy - something good, for Christ's sake

Friday, February 08, 2008

trouble man (repost)

This is a repost to tie in with the fact that Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear has been reissued in an expanded set just in time for Valentine's Day - a nice bit of marketing for Marvin's "divorce album". I haven't got the expanded set yet but I will be doing asap as it's still a fascinating and soulful album from a truly tortured genius.

If any of you have been with us for a while, you'll be pleased to note that I've added an extra track to the original selection
My favourite Marvin Gaye album is also his most misunderstood, his 1978 divorce settlement release, Here, My Dear. When Marvin divorced Anna Gordy in 1976 he was so hard up that his lawyers came up with a solution whereby Anna would receive Marvin's advances for his next album and recoup the royalties until an agreed amount was reached. Marvin initially didn't want to put much effort into the album, as his ex-wife would get all the money. But he gradually became obsessed with the project, viewing it as a way to finally rid himself of Anna.

The misconception is that Here, My Dear is Marvin pouring his heart into the microphone, exemplified by the album's keystone, "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You". But I think the truth is more revealing, twisted and way more interesting!

Throughout most of the album, Marvin is keen to portray himself as the hard-done-by divorcee, chewed up and spat out by a wife who had been evil and unfaithful. Bear in mind this is the man who had (in 1973) performed the whole "Let's Get It On" album as a love letter to Janis Hunter, then aged 16 (one key track on that album was co-written with Anna Gordy!). By the time the divorce came through 3 years later Marvin and Janis were living together with two children.

Marvin Gaye - You Can Leave, But It's Going To Cost You

The album as a whole is an extreme example of someone telling their side of the story - they didn't have Heat in those days, I guess... But knowing that most of the accusations Marvin makes (that Anna stopped him from seeing their child, amongst other tasty tit-bits) are either made up, wildly embroidered or told from the exaggerated viewpoint of "the wronged man", far from making the album ridiculous, actually makes it a fascinating peek into... well, I guess you have to call it quintessentially male self-pity.

Marvin Gaye - Time To Get It Together

Just to add to the complicated texture of this album, this deliciously funky groove crops up early on in the album, which seems to be one of the few tracks where Marvin takes at least some responsibility for the state of his life. Chillingly as the song ends, it's as though he's predicting his early death - "racing against time, trying my best to find my way... getting in and out my clothes, fooling round with midnight ho's, but that's just how my life goes", until it ends with, "From the day you're born 'til the day you're in the ground". Cod psychologists can have a field day.

From stuff I've read, Marvin appears self-obsessed and deeply troubled. By this time, most of his money had gone up his nose (hence the bizarre divorce settlement). Marvin was perpetually plagued by performance anxiety (both public and private), which made it even harder for him to live up to his role of "lover of all ladies". He added the "e" to his surname in an effort to distance himself from his father, a sexually ambiguous cross-dressing preacher.

Marvin Gaye - Everybody Needs Love

The complex nature of his relationship with his father makes for one of the most beautiful and revealing musical moments on the whole album, during 'Everybody Needs Love'. At 40 seconds, he sings the line "And my Father, he needs love" - all the lines before this (flowers, bluebirds, babies, all god's children need love) are sung straight, almost whispered. But when he gets to his father, the harmony takes a brief detour and he hits one of his beautiful high notes - it's like he can't sing it straight because their relationship was so complicated. I don't know - maybe just a coincidence, but then there are no coincidences, right? This track also features the only example I know of an "aural wink-to-camera" at 1.40 ("... even a superstar *cymbal crash*"). Cocky bastard!

Marvin Gaye - A Funky Space Reincarnation

It's not all bitter recriminations and one-upmanship - there's even this bizarre bit of psychodrama. Here, Marvin imagines sometime in the future, getting stoned on Venus-ian drugs at a party and getting it on with someone he feels like he's met before. But it's not Janis, it's Anna. The subtext seems to be that, despite their divorce, they're destined to always be together in some way. And also (perhaps more sinisterly) Anna will always be his and that that he can have her any time that he wants her. Creepy.

This album is very strange and incredibly one-sided but in a sense it's his most honest - "Here, My Dear" is all Marvin, all his arrogance, all his pettiness and all his insecurities. And it would be nothing if it wasn't as funky as anything and a showcase for Marvin's beautiful mutli-layered vocals. Weird and utterly essential.

Buy - Here, My Dear (expanded edition)
Visit - Marvin on Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

live in trouble

Growing up in England in the 1970s and 80s, you couldn't move for variety acts (like family-friendly singing artistes The Dooleys and funnyman Mike Yarwood) popping up on every page of your TV Times. To put this into some kind of context for the benefit of our overseas viewers, Mike Yarwood was a comedy impressionist who started all of his characters with, "Hello, I'm (insert name of person being impersonated, invariably Deputy Dawg, Frank Spencer or Bob Monkhouse)". Never a good sign.

If any younger readers want to complain about how they have it tough, I urge them to listen to these tracks by The Barron Knights. These guys were my Sex Pistols, the best that we could hope for in our Saturday afternoon TV schedule, with their stoopid versions of hit songs.

The Barron Knights - Live in Trouble Part 1
(please note this vinyl is very old, hence the jump in the middle - the missing line is "They flew right off the end / And landed in the Thames / Hand in hand")

To be fair , The BK's had chops, chucking out fairly faithful versions of such popular faves as Leo Sayer's You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Brotherhood of Man's Angelo and Float On by The Floaters. This was a time when Irish people were thick and homosexuals were intrinsically hilarious ("What?! He doesn't like girls? The very idea!"). Also if you wanted to do an impression of (at the time, very dangerous, foul-mouthed comedian) Billy Connolly, all you had to do was put on a hyper-exaggerated Scottish accent. And shout.

The Barron Knights - Live In Trouble Part 2

This was one of the records I remember playing on repeat as a child alongside The Muppet Show Album and Regatta de Blanc by The Police. Sure, it's all very dated, but the last track (Kenny Rogers' Lucille), genuinely made me laugh out loud when I played it for the first time in years the other day. It's just what people do - re-write the words to popular songs to make your mates laugh.

The Barron Knights will be celebrating 50 years in showbiz next year.

Visit - The Barron Knights
Buy - Funny in the Head: The Best of the Barron Knights

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

there's more of us than them

Happy New Year - I hope you can understand me through all of the gunk in my head from this cold which is keeping me home from work today.

Remember that Domino Rally was originally started as a blog for the band Johnny Domino (currently residing in the 'where-are-they-now' file)? Well, back in the day when we first started the band, we had a connection with a tiny French indie label, Candy CheriƩ. This was the days before the internet and electric light so we communicated by letter and frequent tape compilations. Laurent and Virginie's tapes left both myself and brother Ox with a long-standing love of lyrics written and sung by artists whose first language is not necessarily English.

Now don't get me wrong - we weren't laughing at the funny foreigners with their quaint pronunciation (all the time). It was more that, in a way, it was easier for them to make connections with words that shouldn't strictly go together but that sound great when sung, which is similar to what Black Francis, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, et al do.

This linguistic distance is why I love (amongst others) Phoenix, the recent Travelling - French Actors Crossing Borders album and this track, which arrived in the inbox of music bloggers the world over the other day.

Goodtimes Goodtimes - Sea Shanty

I love this track. Goodtimes Goodtimes is the solo project of one Franc Cinelli, an Italian raised in London, who has a really distinctive delivery which is what reminded me of those old French pop compilations.

Musically it makes me think of someone like Langhorne Slim (and what's he doing now?) especially the picked intro. Hope you like it.

Goodtimes Goodtimes play a couple of UK/London dates over the next week or so - check his MySpace for details.

Almost exactly a year ago I featured another submission to the Rally by The Swimmers - maybe it's something about the New Year that makes me more receptive to new music. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that The Swimmers' Fighting Trees will finally be released in March this year on Mad Dragon/Ryko. This album is one that's still in fairly regular rotation at Domino towers so I'm glad to see if get a wider release at last!

Visit - Goodtimes Goodtimes and buy Glue for a mere fiver!