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So far, you have missed an extremely drunk video interview with Mr Andrew Weatherall, a not-remotely-drunk Q&A with Piers Sanderson, director of the Blacburn rave documentary High on Hope and a piece on the very finest band you have never heard of, as well as the usual un-informed opinion and foul-mouthed invective.

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Hip Replacement: The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (ZTT)

OF COURSE, there were a lot better singles in the pop chart but what can you do? Beige will prevail.

A combination of guilt-tripping peer-pressure and a genuine if naïve and perhaps even misguided desire to make some kind of a difference to the world meant that banal, mindless, oblivious conformity won through in the end.

It wasn’t anything to do with music. It was all about marketing, hype and good, old-fashioned bullshit.

How could we have ever thought that it would be any different? It was a foregone conclusion. Shit floats. Always has, always will. And there are an awful lot of dullards and impressionable kids out there. Thinking about it now, it would have been surprising if the crappy charity protest record didn’t get to the top of the Christmas chart.

Then again, who really gives a fuck about the pop chart at any time of the year, up to and including Christmas? This is not the concern of adults. Teenage girls and people who work in the music industry, I can understand. Anyone else, not so much – and this was just as much the case a quarter of a century ago as it was earlier this week.

Twenty-five years ago to the day, Band Aid’s execrable response to the 1984 Ethiopian famine, Do They Know It’s Christmas? was the Christmas number one – even though everyone knew it should really have been The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Continue reading

Hyperbole: Pussy rules the world

FIRST of all, this is a bit of a long one, so if you’re not interested in 17th century poetry, punk rock fanzines, bleepy sounds from Sheffield, Badly Drawn Boy, bossa nova or cats, you’d probably best fuck off now. I promise I won’t be offended.

Now, are we all sitting comfortably?

The best ideas are often the simplest.

Whoever it was at Punks is Hippies who came up with the genius idea of scanning old punk fanzines and sticking them online as downloadable pdf files deserves a medal – although thinking about it, they’d probably prefer a dinky little button badge.

Among a ton of UK publications from the Eighties (like Acts of Defiance, pictured), you’ll also find a treasure trove of more recent European zines such as Vapaus! from Osijek, Croatia featuring such mellow, middle-of-the-road acts as Zudas Krust (Indonesia), Kääska (Brazil), Derriba Tus Muros (Brazil) and Chaos Destroy (USA).

Punks is Hippies is allied to the equally worthy Digital Fanzine Preservation Society and the UK Zine Library (where I was very pleased to see a couple of my old publications and even better, several issues of legendary Scunny punkzine Fuck Off & Drop Dead) and I think it is just about the best idea I’ve come across in oooh, weeks.

Consolidating and building your brand through social media is also a pretty simple idea but it’s surprising how many organisations get it so very wrong ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Terri Walker

TERRI WALKER is trying to convince me that her barely stifled yawns are due to her heavy schedule over the last few weeks and have absolutely nothing to do with my interview questions.

“This month has been kinda crazy,” she says with a sigh as she relaxes into a sofa at her management’s offices in Shepherds Bush, “but you know, it’s worth it.”

Walker’s debut album, Untitled, was among the nominated albums for last month’s Mercury Music Prize, and although Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner eventually won the £20,000 prize money, the exposure the competition afforded Walker has given her profile a big boost. She’s a busy girl.

“I’m glad Dizzee won,” she says. “He’s young, he’s giving hope to those kids out there that feel they have to beat someone up or shoot someone in order to get ahead in life. It’s not about the bling-bling. He did it up in his little studio and when he accepted that award, it really touched me. I nearly cried. He deserved it.”

Terri Walker deserves her day in the sun too. Although at the time of going to press it remains to be seen whether she will have any success at the MOBO awards – she was nominated in no less than four categories – whatever happens, Untitled is one of the most assured and accomplished debut albums to have emerged from the British soul scene in years.

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Mark E Smith *2

MARK E SMITH of the Fall is talking to me, eyeball to eyeball, giving me a few pointers about how I might like to approach our interview:

“Is he an idiot like Oasis? Or is he friendly like New Order? Or is he reclusive like Morrissey?” he whines in a fey, airhead manner, before snapping back into reality and fixing me with a surprisingly steely and clear-eyed gaze. “Say what you want. But watch your back.”

MES doesn’t have much time for the people others might regard as his contemporaries. If you see Manchester as one big happy musical family, Smith is the surly step-child in the corner, loudly singing off-key and out of time, spoiling it for everyone. Loving the fact that he is spoiling it for everyone ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Hip Replacement: Cream Corn From The Socket Of Davis & Psychic .. Powerless .. Another Man’s Sac by the Butthole Surfers (Fundamental)

I KNOW I make it seem effortless, but pulling this shit together isn’t half as easy as it looks, y’know.

Yes, I could easily spend a couple of lazy days on the internet, max out the credit cards, order a mountain of vinyl and probably just about manage to get hold of every dusty old record that I’ve somehow conned myself into believing I need to buy again.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a bottomless bank account, and in any case buying music online doesn’t really float my boat. Compared to the thrills and spills of buying vinyl in the real world it’s a clinical, sanitised, altogether less satisfying experience. Where is the thrill of the chase?

There is no journey, no endeavour, no striving. No fun.

Having said all that, the journey, the endeavour and the striving can become tedious. Especially when you find yourself yet again looking through endless racks of punk, rock, psychedelia and US alternative tunes in search of the elusive category in which that particular shop has chosen to file the resolutely uncategorisable Butthole Surfers.

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Hyperbole: Beefs and love, again and again

EARLIER this year, for reasons too complicated to go into here, I had reason to be looking for kids from an estate in Preston who made their own music.

It turned out that the supposedly uncommunicative and hard-to-reach youth on this particular estate were absolutely into communicating with the outside world, but you’d only know about it if you looked on MySpace.

Although broadly ‘urban’ in origin, the music they’re coming up with ranges from grime and dubstep to 4×4 bassline and straightforward hip hop. In the comments for each profile, it’s all about barz, beefs, merking and endz and a lot of the time I don’t have a fucking clue what they’re on about, to be honest – though I have a pretty good idea – but one name seems to crop up time and again ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Feature: Overpaid, oversexed and over here

THE first time Charles Gettis came to the UK was as a private in the 91st Airborne Division of the US Army. His first sight of the country came through the early morning November mists covering the vast open spaces of the Greenham Common airbase near Newbury, Berkshire as he stepped out of the belly of a huge USAAF cargo plane onto the tarmac below.

Now long discharged from the army, the 26-year-old Gettis has returned to the UK in an altogether different role, in the guise of his turntablist alter-ego, Deejay Punk-Roc. He’s one of a small group of American DJs who have set up home here to take advantage of the burgeoning club scene which grew up in the wake of the acid house explosion of 1988.

Gettis, working in a series of dead-end jobs after he left the military, found his options severely limited in his home town of Brooklyn. The story goes that Andrew Erskine, the head of Merseyside independent label Airdog, somehow heard Punk-Roc’s self-produced My Beatbox, visited him in Brooklyn and persuaded him that he could make a splash in the UK by promoting his music on the back of his not-inconsiderable DJing skills. He didn’t have to ask twice.

Based in Toxteth, Liverpool since January, Gettis’s gamble has paid off in a big way. He’s been pleasantly surprised by the speed and scale of his success. His debut album Chickeneye was released to almost unanimously positive reviews last month, while he returned to the States to support the Prodigy on a two-week tour.

On his return to the UK, he played a couple of gigs, including one at NY Sushi in Sheffield, before jetting off the a festival in Holland. Next week he releases Far Out, another single from the album. A trip to Japan is scheduled for the autumn. It’s non-stop.

“For some people, what’s happening to me now might be a dream come true, but not for me – cause I never even dreamed it in the first place,” says Gettis as he relaxes in his hotel room after the Sheffield date. “I’ve been making music for as long time, but it was never made to be pressed up and sold to the public. I thought that music was something that other people made and I bought.”

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Amp Fiddler

JOSEPH ‘Amp’ Fiddler has a theory that conversations are the dynamic for change in our lives and I’m with him all the way.

How true this is when you’re speaking over the phone, I’m not so sure. Surely you need to be close enough to be able to see the whites of their eyes to really have a chance to know what’s going on in someone’s head?

It’s a shame not to meet the guy in person. Fiddler cuts a striking figure. Tall  – well over six feet when you take into account his hair, which fluctuates between dreads and an impressive afro – distinguished, and a snappy dresser to boot, Amp resembles nothing so much as a latterday funky Malcolm X, stepping out to an afterhours jazz den in his wraparound shades, polo neck and leather raincoat.

But he’s in France, midway through a lengthy European tour, relaxing before tonight’s gig and I’m in the UK, midway through production day, not relaxing before the magazine goes to press. We’ll have to try our best.

Thinking about it, it’s unlikely I’d be able to see the whites of Fiddler’s eyes anyway  one, he’s on tour so they’re probably a little red around the edges (“we’ve been having a lot of fun,” he drawls) and two, he’s rarely seen without sunglasses, even indoors.

Fiddler, however, has been in this game a lot longer than I have and he fields my questions like the seasoned pro he is, his rich, melifluous  if, occasionally, a little croaky  voice booming over the line from Lyon.

The tour is going well. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he “most definitely enjoys the European way of life” and only wishes the weather was a little better, “but it’s okay. I been having a great time.”

Roughly half of the people in his audiences have already heard his astonishingly assured debut solo album, Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly he estimates (well, he actually recorded his debut for a major label at the start of the Nineties, but it wasn’t a happy or rewarding experience); the other half haven’t but, “our show is very dynamic, so if people don’t get it by the middle of the show, they definitely get it by the end. But,” he adds with a chuckle, “most of them get it in the beginning.”

Old enough to say “record” when he means “CD”, young enough to know who Dizzee Rascal is (he recently bought Rascal’s album for his son Dorian), Fiddler is also polite enough not to mention it when I get the titles of his songs wrong or interrupt him, mid sentence. He doesn’t let things bother him. He’s playing a long game. He turned 46 last week but isn’t unduly perturbed: “The older the fiddle, the better the tune.”

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.