Thursday, 16th July

VISUAL OF THE WEEK
The poster for Michael Gray’s next talking tour.

MG Tour

AND THE OSCAR FOR THE BEST USE OF POOR QUALITY PHOTOGRAPHS GOES TO…
When I was at The Observer Magazine, I learned Art Director John Tennant’s great rule (which he may have picked up from Michael Rand and David King from his stint at the Sunday Times Magazine) – the worse the quality of the picture, the bigger you use it. It then becomes something graphic and powerful and always worked for family photos, or amateur snaps of news events. Watching Amy, I was really impressed by the way director Asif Kapadia used the wildly blown-up snaps – all digital jpeg artefacts and smeary colour – so surely. It’s painful to watch the images get sharper and sharper as the picture progresses, mostly created by the paparazzi who circle and hound her.

STREET MUSOS OF THE WEEK
Walking into the tube at Oxford Circus I thought I heard a James Brown track playing somewhere. It turned out to be saxophonist Carl Catron and friends, giving the teeming throngs outside Topshop some gloriously on-the-money jazz funk. I was mostly fascinated by the guitarist’s insouciant precision.

Oxford

RIP CONFREY PHILLIPS
“It was Saturday night, and Ava Gardner had a request. She wanted to hear They Wouldn’t Believe Me. Confrey Phillips knew the song – he knows every song, it seems – so he launched into the number. It wasn’t long before Gardner grabbed the proprietor and said, “Get rid of the band downstairs. They’re a crap band. Confrey should be doing this.” The year was 1952, and Gardner, Clark Gable and Grace Kelly were in London filming Mogambo. They had all come to the club known as Les Ambassadeurs because they didn’t have to work on Sunday. Kelly left early, Gable hung around for awhile, but Gardner stayed until closing time and beyond – 4:30 in the morning. Phillips figured Gardner’s enthusiasm was the champagne talking – Gardner liked her champagne – but the next morning the band was indeed gone and the Confrey Phillips Trio was entertaining in the big room at Les Ambassadeurs.” – Scott Eyman, the Palm Beach Post. More here.

ConfreyWe knew Confrey through his brother Len, father of a great friend of our daughter. Inspired by American big bands heard on Armed Forces Radio beamed into Bangalore, they moved to Clapham in the late 40s. Len had played bass in his brother’s Trio, and both were real characters – enthusiastic and charming – and Confrey really did know every song in The Great American Songbook. He also told fantastic stories of his time playing in London’s grand hotels and moving in Royal circles. My father also got to know Ava Gardner at the time of Mogambo, as she liked drinking in “real” London boozers, and became a regular (!) at a pub off Berkeley Square that Bill drank in. Those were the days, eh?

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL ART…
From The Guardian’s obit of Robin Page, artist who was in the British vanguard of the Fluxus movement in the 1960s: “In 1962, Page engineered his own sub-happening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts’ Festival of Misfits in London, when he kicked his electric guitar off the stage, out of the ICA’s front door and down Dover Street, his audience in gripped pursuit. Another happening, at the Destruction in Art Symposium in 1966, saw him drilling a hole in the floor of the Better Bookshop in Charing Cross Road, managed by the sound poet Bob Cobbing, intent on reaching Australia. The attempt had to be abandoned when Page hit a water main.”

EXTRA: LETTER OF THE WEEK
“Peter Bradshaw rightly refers to Omar Sharif’s appearance in Lawrence of Arabia as “one of the greatest entrances in movie history”. However, that famous scene also has the distinction of being the only one in the history of cinema which features both Blur and Oasis.” Brendan O’Brien, Waterford, Ireland, The Guardian

Oh, and Leon Bridges: Why?

Five Things, Wednesday 24th September

I’m not making this up…
Stuart MacDonald, managing director of Aquila Capital, a hedge fund, DJs on Resonance FM as Dr Stu. A typical listing goes like this: “You are cordially invited to listen to the N@ked $hort Club on Mondays; one hour of loose talk about the poetry of hedge funds and the state of the world, plus heady music. No promotional agenda, no commercial intent… just Purest Alpha and Ponzi Bier in these interesting times. Host, Dr. Stu will be joined by expert guests, by Tantric Videolink from the US, Robert Savage, CEO of CCTrack, poet Joyce Goldstein. and music from the Orb/Gong, Steve Hillage, Jefferson Airplane, Terry Riley, and Neu.” He’s quoted in the City AM newspaper as saying, “I don’t see how anyone can fail to see the connection between hedge funds, psychedelic music and poetry.” I’ve not been so confused since Donald Rumsfeld’s known unknowns…

Blind Willie Johnson
At Michael Gray’s engrossing Dylan Weekend we listen to Blind Willie Johnson, singing in two different voices thus, (in Michael’s opinion) paving the way for Dylan’s own adoption of different voices at different times. And when we get home to catch up on Series Two of House of Cards, who appears on the wall of Freddy Hayes’ crib? Blind Willie. In one of the best episodes so far, brilliantly helmed by Jodie Foster and shot in exquisitely composed shallow-depth-of-field scenes, there’s collateral damage to Freddy’s BBQ Joint, the rib shack on the wrong side of town – Frank (Kevin Spacey) Underwood’s favourite bolthole in times of crisis.

Willie

Interesting interview with the modest and thoughtful Michael Cuscuna
Michael Cuscuna was the producer of Bonnie Raitt’s first two albums, so he’s a man with taste. And for his work in Jazz’s basement storeroom he deserves plaudits. And, if you like great jazz photos, check out his Facebook page: “When the late Charlie Lourie, my best friend and co-founder of Mosaic Records, and I bought the Francis Wolff archive of photographs from practically every Blue Note session between 1940 and 1967, we spent years sifting through this historic gold mine of jazz documentation. So many of the photos brought classic sessions to life. But there were some humorous images and oddities among the archive. One of my favorites is the photo of Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey, two of the greatest drummers in the history of this music and two of the coolest, most colorful people I ever had the honor to know. It’s from a November 2, 1958 Blakey session with multiple drummers which I eventually issued as Drums Around The Corner. They are conferring about a tune, but it looks like two guys conspiring to topple a government or pull a great jewelry heist.

Drummers

You Gorra Luv It!
Sheridan Smith is Cilla Black. Yet another terrific central portrayal by a British actress, here in a tale that could fall flat – like biopics often do – but is great for these reasons: a) The art direction, set dressing and period clothes are never lingered on in that “We’ve spent a bundle on this, we have to show it off” way. They do the job incidentally, while being great to look at. b) There’s a rich seam of humour running through the script, a lightness of touch that tells the story whilst avoiding literalness. c) The music feels live (Smith sang live throughout the whole of the first episode). She also sings all the studio takes and the cute build-up to hearing her finally sing “Anyone Who Had A Heart” – held to the end of part two, even though we see her recording it much earlier, ends the episode brilliantly. The session, overseen by George Martin, has a fabulously-cast bunch of Abbey Road sessioneers with cardigans, suits, glasses and thinning hair.

One last thing on “Popular Problems”
As a designer, I feel that I have to note that Popular Problems continues the dreadful graphics that always litter Cohen’s releases. This is probably the worst yet. Dire typography, bad Photoshop solarisation and poor cutouts. Such a shame that the quality of the design doesn’t match up to the quality of the music. ps: I also wonder why he never does these studio albums with his stunning road band. Is it that he likes a patchwork way of working, or needs the privacy of a simpler approach? That’s not to diss the moody and excellent music on the CD, but when you look at what a great group of musicians did on “Be For Real” a few albums back, it just really puzzles me.

Len

Five Things: Wednesday 25th December

Cover Girl: Julie London
Michele’s request for a Julie London Christmas album hits a snag. She never did one. But with a little internetting and some Indesign, Julie’s Miss December (from her album, Calender Girl) becomes a fully-fledged seasonal treat.

Christmas-Julie

“Oh the shark has pearly Teeth, Dear…”
Michael Gray on Bobby Darin: “Bobby Darin’s singles were part of my adolescence, and all these decades later I’m still impressed by his work, the multiplicity of his talent and his human decency. He was a songwriter, singer, actor, pianist, guitarist and mentor to RogerMcGuinn; he conquered the pop charts and then dinner-jacket showbiz, yet came to see that turbulent times called for songs of social conscience. As a person he was gracious, articulate, sharp and funny. He was a talented actor, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1963.

As for his records, well OK, not “Splish Splash”, but “Dream Lover”, produced by the Erteguns, was one of the most shimmering records of 1960 – and was followed, very surprisingly, by the best version of “Mack the Knife”, with Darin unarguably the master of this radically different genre. Then came “Beyond the Sea”, a more than worthy successor that didn’t try to replace the Charles Trenet original (“La Mer”, a timeless track blemished only by the ridiculously over-hearty male voice choir at the end). I still love it. I loved a number of his later records too, though often preferring the B-sides. Neil Young said this of him: “I used to be pissed off at Bobby Darin because he changed styles so much. Now I look at him and think he was a genius.”

He sang duets on TV with an extraordinary range of people from Stevie Wonder to Judy Garland, from Dinah Shore to Clyde McPhatter and from Linda Ronstadt to Jimmy Durante. He sang “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” with Judy Collins in 1969; he could sing “Cry Me A River” and “Lonesome Whistle Blues”; he could play bluesy harmonica and convincing drum solos; and do fine imitations of Hollywood stars.”

Lovely, and true. Check the version of “Lonesome Whistle Blues”. In a week where I watched Mumford & Sons and The Old Crow Medicine Show’s self-regarding documentary, Big Easy Express, (loosely inspired by Festival Express), the ability to inhabit a Hank Williams song is not to be sneezed at. Darin’s really there, the young pretenders not even in the same State.

Thinking of Bobby Darin, I remembered that Mad Magazine’s opinion of him was less complimentary
Somewhere I have this issue, but found what I was looking for on BobbyDarin.net: “In Oct. 1961, the pop culture magazine Mad introduced a feature entitled “Celebrities Wallets.” It was drawn by George Woodbridge and written by Arnie Kogen. The Magazine stated “With this article, MAD introduces a new feature, based on the proposition that you can tell an awful lot about a person by the scraps of paper and cards and bills and photographs and money he carries around in his wallet. Since we are all basically nosey, we thought it would be exciting to see what famous people carried around in their wallets. So we sent out a special research team to pick some famous pockets…”. Bobby Darin was their first subject.

Darin

Emil & The Detectives, National Theatre
I know it’s a kids’ show, but I was one once, and this – well, this was my favourite book. My copy, foxed with age and with its black and white line drawings badly coloured in, is a treasured possession. I was not let down, especially by the extraordinary Expressionist set design and the Weimar-esque pit band, led by Kevin Amos. Their verve, and the wonderful score by Paul Englishby, added immeasurably to the experience. The choreographing of the children, the commuters and the cycling is really clever, and the use of light to create a city and its sewers, breathtaking. If you’re around, find an excuse to go…

On the way to and from Emil, great busking…
In sheet rain, almost vertical, turning the Hungerford footbridge across the Thames into a swimming pool: Tuba and Melodica, playing “Winter Wonderland”. Tuba. Melodica. Now that’s a combination. Then a clarinettist, playing only the sax solo from Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”, but looping it and using the echo to play around himself. Fabulous. I don’t know if we were paying them for their inspired choices or their fortitude…

Well, that’s a hundred posts reached. Whew! All best to every one of you reading, and have a sterling seasonal sojourn. Back, in some form, in 2014.

Five Things: Wednesday 23rd October

Gainsbourg Auction: + 6 citrons, du parmesan, et un pot de crème fraîche, merci…
A bizarre collection of Serge Gainsbourg’s belongings are at auction on October 31. The list of items include four cigarette butts in a cassette case (estimate £425-£600), a pair of his nail clippers (estimate £40-£70), and a telegram to his wife, Jane Birkin, of controversial Number One single “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” fame. Last year his handwritten shopping lists were sold for £6,540. Said David Richard, a spokesperson for the auction house: “When we sold those we realised there was a great interest in items from his everyday life. Quite a lot of the bidders were women and they were prepared to go quite far but it’s always difficult to know how much people are prepared to pay for these things”. Well, here’s a few of my favourite things (but I think I’ll pass on actually bidding):

Serge

From Michael Gray’s Outtakes blog, Mike Bloomfield and Big Joe Williams:
In 1980 Mike Bloomfield published a short memoir, Me and Big Joe, which not only portrayed the difficulties of their relationship very honestly but also, in Peter Narváez’ phrase, illustrated “the cross-cultural triumph of the blues tradition”. Bloomfield wrote: “Joe’s world wasn’t my world, but his music was. It was my life; it would be my life. So playing on was all I could do, and I did it the best that I was able. And the music I played, I knew where it came from; and there was not any way I’d forget.” I really love that sentence, and reading more excerpts discover that the book is compelling, well-written and illustrated by Robert Crumb.

Joe

Favourite Story Of The Week
Tony Bennett questionnaire, The Guardian: Q: You must have mixed with them all… I lived for 15 years in Los Angeles and I still can’t believe that the handsomest man in the world, Cary Grant, and the greatest performer in the world, Fred Astaire… were in my home. I celebrated my 50th birthday with them. Unforgettable.

Did any of them do anything in your home that you’ve had to keep secret? No. But once Dean Martin was in his home, having this mad party, and he was trying to study his lines for a television show so he called up the police and said: “I’m Dean Martin’s neighbour and there’s too much noise coming from his house. Have the police come and slow down the party.” And the police came and broke the party up and he got rid of everybody in the house.

A Note On Packaging The Past
I give into temptation. I’ve bought this music on vinyl, in 1972. In its first digital form on CD in the late eighties. On remastered CD in 2000. And here we are, buying it again in 2013, remixed, re-programmed, repackaged. Rock of Ages by The Band, originally in a three-gatefold sleeve of purple with Bob Cato’s enigmatic oriental statue on the front and mysterious pictures by Magnum’s Ernst Haas (the impressionistic colour ones) and John Scheele (the beautiful B&W’s) on the inside. One of the great live albums of the rock era. As Allen Toussaint says: “They dance by a different drummer, all the time. There was nothing stock about them”. But I baulk at the stupidly-priced Venal-Record-Company-Death-Throes Box Set, with its 5.1 Surround Sound DVD version of the tracks and the Sebastian Robertson soundboard mix of the uncut New Year’s Eve night. Come on. How many times can the people who love this music be ripped off? Yes, I know that everything in Heritage Rock World™ has to be a ‘production’. And, yes, it sounds fantastic, remixed by Robertson and the brilliant Bob Clearmountain with a staggering degree of detail. But then, it always did sound fantastic, I just didn’t know it could sound better, and may never have felt I was missing out…

And Also…
Robbie Robertson’s liner notes are less annoying than usual. I love his comments about Rick Danko: “Rick showed something during this period that I still don’t understand. While singing like a bird, he played a fretless bass… in an unorthodox style that worked against reason and normality.” Toussaint again: “Rick Danko – his approach, there’s nothing like it. Some people, you can tell what school of thought they come from on the bass… I don’t know where Rick Danko comes from. I don’t know his source of reference… it was just his very own thing and I think it was perfect”.

 

Five Things: Wednesday 3rd April

‘January 26, 1962: Passed Dylan on the street, he said to me that he “didn’t know why so many things are happening to me.” I said that he did.’
Michael Gray writes a very nice piece on Izzy Young on the occasion of his 85th birthday. A couple of years ago in Stockholm we sat with Izzy outside his office, the Folklore Centrum, having tea with Sarah Blasko (Izzy is a magnet for any musician of a certain bent who happens to be in town). Here’s a photo of some of Izzy’s files. I’m guessing Irene relates to ‘Goodnight, Irene.’

Izzy's Bookshelf
After we leave, Sam (Charters) tells me that the last time Bob Dylan played in Stockholm, Bob’s people arranged for Izzy to meet him, and he ended up having a chat to Bob by the side of the bus. As they said goodbye, Izzy grabbed Dylan’s cheeks and waggled them, like a Jewish grandfather would do to his grandson. Security! Nobody touches Bob! Bob, however, burst out laughing… Sam said that Bob’s road manager told him it was the only time he saw Bob laugh on the whole tour…

Izzy2

BP Garage, Clapham Common Northside, Thursday
A man in front of me is slowly paying for petrol and weird “garage” shopping: A bottle of wine, Jelly Babies, Screen Wash, Iced Buns…  so I idly pick up the new Bowie CD. He looks at me and says “Dreadful cover,” about Jonathan Barnbrooke’s white square over Heroes. I disagree and say that the fact that it created thousands of memes proves that it worked as one part of Bowie’s brilliant stealth marketing for The Next Day’s release. Who’s been that excited about an album launch in years? He smiles, says fair point, and Exits Garage Left.

We Love Site-Specific Street Signs & Slang!
“Artist Jay Shells channeled his love of hip hop music and his uncanny sign-making skills towards a brand new project: Rap Quotes. For this ongoing project, Shells created official-looking street signs quoting famous rap lyrics that shout out specific street corners and locations. He then installed them at those specific street corners and locations.” More here.

Signs

emusic Find of the Month
Marnie Stern, downloaded because of its title: The Chronicles Of Marnia. She’s a really talented “shredding” (ask the kids) guitarist who seems to have made an album that references Battles and Braids. It’s manic & great & slightly odd—fretboard squalling, swooping vocal whoops and wild drumming… Somehow I was disappointed that the cover wasn’t more like this…

The Voyage of the Dawn Shredder

The Voyage of the Dawn Shredder

 

Reading The Guardian Magazine two weeks after publication, and finding Stephen Collins being brilliant. Again.
Collins

FTIS&HTW: Wednesday 6th March

Bruno Mars, Jonathan Ross Show, ITV
I started this blog because I watched Bruno Mars at the Brits a year ago, and loved the performance of his bass player so much that I wanted to write about it. It was these non-headline moments that I found interesting, and no one seemed to be writing about them. This week Bruno does the promo round for his next tour and turns up at Jonathan’s with a piano player, an organist and a pretty good gospel/r&b song. He’s very slick and can really sing, but what’s great is the interplay between his voice and the stripped-back accompaniment, and it makes a change from the usual banal “just like the record” performance.

Almost Finishing Michael Gray’s fine Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell
“… McTell comes storming through here, fusing great feeling with an intimate looseness of delivery that he has never captured on record before. It is thrilling to hear—and this is what he keeps up as he moves on to the marvelous Savannah Mama, where, right from the magnificent opening moments, his guitar work is so concentrated and precise, so felt and so assertive (this is what inspired the Allman Brothers’ slide style), while his vocal lines flow across all this precision with the grace of heartfelt risk-taking. He sings with an experimental mannered fluidity somehow freed from artifice by open ardor.”

Noma Bar’s Time Out London Rock ’n’ Roll Cover
As always, brilliant.

NomaWest Of Eden?
Kanye West to Paris’ Le Zenith crowd: “There’s no motherfucking awards or sponsorships or none of that shit that can stop the dedication to bringing y’all that real shit.” He continued: “No matter how they try to control you, or the motherfucker next to you tries to peer pressure you, you can do what you motherfucking want. I am Picasso. I’m Walt Disney, I’m Steve Jobs.”

There’s Something about Kodachrome and New York Summer Evening Light in the Seventies
From Robin Aitken in Scotland: “I am in the process of writing an article about the Dobell trip to the first Newport Jazz Festival in New York which was attended by ten of us—Myself, Rick Antill, Micky Brocking, Jack Armitage, Ray Bolden, John Kendall. Doug Dobell, Ginger (can’t remember his name), Lou Watkins and Jimmy Reid with occasional appearances by Albert McCarthy… I took some photos in New York using Bill Colyer’s Konica 35mm camera which he had just bought and lent me for the trip—a typically generous gesture. I have attached one of my favourite photographs, which I took outside Jim & Andy’s at West 55th Street in late June 1972—the last incarnation of that famous musicians’ bar.”
Doug’s in proto-Tom Wolfe mode, and how cool is Ray Bolden? I loved working for the legend that was Ray—the man who ran the Blues side of Dobell’s— and friend to BB, Muddy, Wolf and the whisky makers of Scotland and Kentucky.

Dobell's NY

Left to right: Richie Goldberg (jazz drummer), John Kendall, Ray Bolden, Scoville Brown (clarinet and alto, who recorded with Louis in 1932 and played with many bands thereafter—check the Buck Clayton Quartet sides recorded for HRS in 1946) and, of course, Doug Dobell.

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 31st October

Danny Baker, Shortlist Questionnaire
Who’s the most overrated band of your lifetime? “Queen. A dreadful group. They were neither Led Zeppelin nor Bowie and they played that middle ground in between. Punk rock didn’t come around because of prog rock or anything like that, it came around because of Queen. Abba, Queen and ELO—that was what people were trying to move away from. You can find everything Queen did better elsewhere.”

Bob Dylan & The Poetry Of The Blues
Michael Gray, my favourite writer on Bob Dylan, gives a talk in Canterbury, close enough to drive to. Mick Gold comes with me, supplying an excellent compilation CD and fascinating conversation for our tiny road trip. Michael’s presentation is terrific—funny and revelatory. Over a meal afterwards we talk about the fact that Freddy Koella is both Michael and my favourite Dylan guitarslinger. Mick reveals that the night before, Freddy had guested for two songs at Bob’s Santa Barbara gig—the first time since he was a member of the Never-Ending Tour Band in 2004.
Michael on Freddy: “Freddy was Dylan’s best-ever lead electric guitarist (and just might be the best electric guitarist altogether since the heyday of Hubert Sumlin). Robbie Robertson was near sublime—the next best, a very close second—but Freddy was better. And in The Band all the other musicians were crucial too, whereas in Dylan’s band Freddy had to carry the whole front line. Of course you could say Mike Bloomfield was right up there, but he was, though a virtuoso, essentially more limited (Dylan had to tell him, for Like A Rolling Stone, to play ‘none of that B.B. King shit’); and G.E. Smith was terrific, but safe. You never wondered excitedly what he might do next. Whereas Freddy played by living on the edge, like Bob, fusing Django Reinhardt and Carl Perkins and playing as if it were 1957 now. He was the electric lead guitarist Dylan himself would have been, had Dylan ever bothered to master the instrument.” That line is fantastic, and spot on—“Playing as if it were 1957 now…”

Papa Nez’s Blues
To the Queen Elizabeth Hall with my mum to see her old fave, Mike Nesmith (The First & Second National Band stuff, not The Monkees, just so’s you know). I seem to be making it a point lately to see only Senior Citizens Of Rock™ but it’s just coincidental. It’s instructive to compare and contrast the approaches, however.
Leonard “Ladies’ Man” Cohen, 78, 4 years into his latest group of tours, is in fantastic voice, playing three-and-a half-hour shows with some of the finest musicians on God’s earth and playing versions of his songs that make the original tracks seem pale shadows. It is, in all senses, not just another show. It’s a summation of a life’s work.
Ian “Mott To Trot” Hunter, 73, belts out his impressive and rockin’ back catalogue with ferocious intent, fronting a hell-for-leather combo, The Rant Band. On lead guitar, Mark Bosch is a passionate and note/feel-perfect Seventies/Eighties Noo Yawk (think Leslie West or Mike Rathke) player, matching Hunter every step of the way. His tribute to Mick Ronson, Michael Picasso, is really moving, and the sense of community between him and his fans something to feel.
Mike “Papa Nez” Nesmith, 70, hasn’t played London since 1975, and makes a rather terrible decision. Sold to the audience as cutting edge technology by Nesmith, the three musicians on stage play along with pre-recorded tracks (mostly triggered by the keyboardist), which a) makes the sound terrible, all clunky Casio drums and booming sound effects, and b) forces everyone into a rather tight and metronomic way of playing—an already fairly predictable bass player becomes almost immobile, and the music has no sway or grace. This seems a real shame, as Nesmith’s use of soundscapes on tracks like Nevada Fighter, Bonaparte’s Retreat or Beyond The Blue Horizon were really innovative, especially in a country rock context. There are some beautiful songs here, from Joanne to The Grand Ennui to Rio, and Nesmith has the fine idea of setting up each song with a short piece of fiction contextualising the events that have (supposedly) led up to the song. But the bad sound, the gloopy and excessive synth string playing, the hopeless beats and Nesmith’s out of practice and strained voice leaves us feeling underwhelmed.

www.bullettmedia.com/article/music-journalism-cliches-that-need-to-be-retired-today/
Well, this brilliant broadside by Luke O’Neil makes rock journalism just that bit more difficult (but—hey—upside… potentially better!)

Not So Lucky, Lucky, Lucky
“I love all the PWL stuff slowed down, it sounds great.” says Kylie talking about The Abbey Road Sessions, where she re-records her pop hits of the eighties. I remember when the band I was part of (who NME saw as the antithesis of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s PWL stuff—Rick Astley, Kylie, Jason Donovan etc.) decided to record a slow version of Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky for a radio session. Sounded great when Mark roughed it out on piano with Heather, but someone somewhere hit the Irony Alert! button and thought better of it…

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