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HAPPY BIRTHDAY S.C.

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The final part of The Undertones series will have to wait another seven days. It’s my young brother’s 51st birthday today. I know he pops in here every day, firing up his laptop while soaking up the sun in Florida, and so as a wee bit of surprise for him I’ve put together an 80s mix tape jammed with stuff I know he likes.

mp3 : Various – Songs for a Handsome Devil

TRACKLIST

Speed Your Love To Me (extended) – Simple Minds
Sit Down – James
Kiss This Thing Goodbye – Del Amitri
Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart – Marc Almond/Gene Pitney
Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
What Difference Does It Make? – The Smiths
Prisoner of Love – Spear of Destiny
Cath – The Bluebells
Tinseltown in the Rain – The Blue Nile
Hallelujah Man – Love and Money
To Cut A Long Story Short – Spandau Ballet
Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) – Haircut 100
Rip It Up – Orange Juice
The Honeythief – Hipsway
Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2

And, believe it or not, the whole thing comes in at 60 mins and 00 seconds – more by chance than design!!

Have a great day young fella and I’ll see you doing your dad dancing to all of this when you come over in the summer.

BONUS POSTING : IT’S GETTING BETTER

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Not too long ago, I shared with you some of my on-going concerns in life and how they were combining to impact on my ability to get fully motivated this year. Those of you who know me in any shape or form will have immediately realised that throwing in Trump and Raith Rovers was just my way of clouding what was really on my mind, namely Mrs Villain being unwell and requiring a couple of hospital visits over the festive period.

The emerging and good news is she has nothing that is life-threatening; she does have some issues with a lung which is likely to make her susceptible to infections, some which will be worse and more painful than others (the 2016/17 strain is a belter in that regard) but nothing that can’t be fixed in the medium-long term with medication and a degree of rest. Given there is a history of fatal lung diseases in her family, there was a real fear gripping Villain Towers for a while.

Thank you for all your very kind words and thoughts after that particular posting – they meant a great deal and were hugely appreciated. Here’s my way of showing said appreciation; don’t read anything into the choice of songs – it was just me having a bit of fun and thinking this would make a good hour of listening:-

mp3 : Various – Breathing That Sigh of Relief

Tracklist

Love Vigilantes – New Order
Did You Evah? – Iggy Pop & Debbie Harry
Kelly’s Heroes – Black Grape
Waking Up – Elastica
Penelope Tree – Felt
My Love Is Like A Gift You Can’t Return – The Man from Delmonte
Radio Radio – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Amateur Hour – Sparks
Sheila Take A Bow – The Smiths
Bye Bye Pride – The Go-Betweens
Fait Accompli – Curve
Setting Sun – The Chemical Brothers
Come Home (original version) – James
Sweetheart Contract – Magazine
The Model – Kraftwerk
Lost Weekend – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh
Final Day – Young Marble Giants

Worth mentioning that my football team are still struggling to win a game – the last victory was in late October – but we did a well merited draw in a cup tie last Sunday against a team from a higher division. Maybe it’s a sign that things will begin to improve on that front.

Cheers.

BONUS POSTING : 58 AND A BIT MINUTES OF OLD FAVOURITIES

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Really finding it hard to get motivated right now. Maybe it is the cold weather and the eternally dark mornings and nights. Maybe it is the growing sense of unease and anger at the fact Trump takes over the White House in seven days time. Maybe it is the fact my favourite football team are in a slump at the moment and show no signs of emerging back into winning ways. Maybe it is down to worrying about Mrs Villain being unwell just now and awaiting soon the results of some tests carried out last week at the wonderful NHS hospital just up the road from here.

More than likely its a combination of all of the above.

So when I got in from work a couple of hours back I just wanted to find solace in some old songs and in doing so wanted to pull something together that I can listen to on trains and buses this next few days without having to concentrate too much such is their familiarity. Feel free to listen in.

mp3 : Various – The Musical Equivalent of Comfort Food

Tracklist

This Is Pop? – XTC
Asylums In Jerusalem – Scritti Politti
Candyskin – Fire Engines
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Saint Etienne
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
Town Called Malice – The Jam
Don’t Talk To Me About Love – Altered Images
Felicity – Orange Juice
No Bulbs – The Fall
Common People – Pulp
Everyday Is Like Sunday – Morrissey
Ladykillers – Lush
Kennedy – The Wedding Present
Ain’t That Enough? – Teenage Fanclub

Enjoy.

BONUS POSTING : IT’S A COLLECTIVE THANK YOU

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I know I’ve tested a fair few patiences these past two weeks with the abundance of cover versions, but it was a way of letting me ease off a bit at a time when, traditionally, the number of daily visitors tails off somewhat as those who perhaps fit a visit in as part of a routine quite rightly find themselves with other and better things to do.

As as a way of expressing my gratitude to those of you who have continued to drop in, I’ve pulled together another mix of music lasting around the hour mark – 59:58 to be precise – that I think hangs together reasonably well. The title, as is becoming a habit, lifts from one of the songs making an appearance.

mp3 : Various – Directing Traffic On The Disco Floor

Tracklist

Water (Peel Session) – PJ Harvey
There There – Radiohead
The Decision – Young Knives
If I Can’t Change Your Mind – Sugar
Safety Net – Shop Assistants
Good Shit – Cornershop
White Love – One Dove
Last Train to Transcentral – The KLF
The Shy Retirer – Arab Strap
Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones – The Hives
Taste the Last Girl – Sons & Daughters
Everybody Knows The Monkey – Mighty Mighty
Shine On – House of Love
Date With the Night – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Breakdown – Buzzcocks
These Things Take Time – The Smiths
Driver 8 – R.E.M.
Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

Warning : There’s a wee swear word (surprise, surprise) within the Arab Strap song. Just in case you’re thinking of playing the whole thing in the presence of young kids or those who may be offended.

HERE’S YOUR COLLECTIVE CHRISTMAS GIFT

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This was a late change of plan. There was originally going to be a posting on Crass as they were about as far removed from the usual jolliness and frivolity of the festive period as I could come up with. But that’s been filed away for use on another day sometime in 2017.

Instead, I’ve pulled this together:-

mp3 : Various – A Drunk Father Christmas and The Antichrist

The title is taken from a line in one of the featured songs. The sentiments are driven by the fact that once again, decent music has helped me through some hard times. As it does with all of us…with nothing better to exemplify that than the #1 song in the WYCRA 200….

It’s two days before Xmas and I’m going to be travelling by train 230 miles south of Glasgow to attend the funeral this afternoon of a dear friend who died very suddenly and very unexpectedly some 12 days ago. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it has affected me greatly. My moods have been swinging violently but more often that not I’ve been low and down and pretty crap company. Last Saturday night was the occasion of the six-monthly Little League event that I’d been looking forward to since the last one in June on my birthday. I was in two minds about going, but the husband of my late friend reminded me that life goes on and you’ve got to do what you can when you can to make the most of it. I ended up, unsuprisingly, having a great time in the company of Aldo and many other folk who over the years I’ve been lucky enough, through the club, to get to know and love. For sure, it was a wee bit emotional at times…..but as the night worked towards its 1am curfew and after a lot of dad-dancing, yes, I did feel better, I felt alright.

A small number of the songs on this latest compilation were aired last Saturday and indeed I’ve ripped off two in a row that were played in the same sequence (Smiths and Nirvana) and confirmed that our resident DJ is a genius at these things. I am a mere novice but I like to think some things work.  It runs to 62:30 exactly. It’s a wee bit iffy quality wise with variations in volume but that’s the nature of old vinyl.

Tracklist

The Distance – Cake
I Speak Your Every Word – Curve
All The Records On The Radio Are Shite – Ballboy
Big Blonde – Aidan Moffat & the Best-Ofs
Shoppers Paradise – Carter USM
A New England – Kirsty MacColl
Girl Afraid – The Smiths
About A Girl – Nirvana
Cut Your Hair – Pavement
Basement Band Song – The Organ
Bouncing Babies – The Teardrop Explodes
The Cutter – Echo and The Bunnymen
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Left To My Own Devices – Pet Shop Boys
Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
The Look Of Love – ABC
Yes – McAlmont & Butler
Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers

Oh and Merry Christmas everyone. I will be here over the weekend with the usual offerings in the long-running series for Saturdays and Sundays and then doing some cover version stuff all next week and the same again for the following seven days. I also intend to catch up with my reading – I’ve been neglecting too many friends over on the right hand side for far too long.

I JUST CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD

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fracturedamerica

Yesterday’s piece was put together late on Sunday night. It genuinely was meant as my first and last words on the American election. But it was catching up on a few in-depth weekend pieces in the media that got me thinking just how crazy and momentous the result was and how, in political terms, things will never ever be the same again.

I’ve worked closely for the past 30 years with many politicians in Scotland – most of whom have been incredibly gifted and talented while a small number of others have been the complete opposite. The ones in the former camp often had to work hard over a long period of time to obtain those gifts and talents – being a skilled political operative, no matter the colour of your rosette and the spectrum in which your prevalent views hold sway, isn’t something that comes naturally to anyone.

Reading again so many of the statements attributed to the President-elect over the past 30+ years since he became a household name hammered it home to me that he is not a politician by any stretch of the imagination. If any form of recruitment process had been applied as it would when folk look to land a job or take a step forward in a career then he would never have made any short list. As I was reading the pieces, I began to think of a few songs whose titles made sense and that got me thinking of a playlist.

I then put it together immediately before going to bed. It had started off cynical and twisted but then I tried to have it lift me out of my funk and so went a bit upbeat before getting cynical again, then going a bit loopy as I was getting too morose before eventually ending it in the way I had started. I wasn’t sure about sharing it with you, but 24 hours on, well why the hell not. Especially when my use of fade out on the second last track ensured I could nail it at 60:00 exactly!!

mp3 : Various – And The Public Gets What The Public Wants

Tracklist

Idiot Country – Electronic
Help Save The Youth Of America – Billy Bragg
Honest Mistake – The Bravery
Accidents Will Happen – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I Wish – Stevie Wonder
24 Hour Party People – Happy Mondays
He’s On The Phone – Saint Etienne
Really Stupid – The Primitives
Clampdown – The Clash
The Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths
Toxic – Britney Spears
Where’s Me Jumper? – Sultans Of  Ping FC
I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys
Ballad Of The Band – Felt
Waking Up – Elastica
Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag – Pigbag
Running The World – Jarvis Cocker

For those of you who don’t know the final song, I should warn you that the main refrain is repeatedly preceded by the words ‘Cunts are still…’

Make of it what you will.

And I promise. That is my last words on the matter.

A FEW RANDOM INANE AND SELF-INDULGENT THOUGHTS…..

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When you’ve been doing this sort of nonsense for as long as I have, it pays to take a short breather every now and again, and as I mentioned in the additional posting I shoved up on hearing the news of the death of Leonard Cohen, this recent period has been one of them.

I was very fortunate in that, during the time I was planning exactly what to do with the blog while I was tuning out for 2 weeks, I could turn to four ridiculously good guest posts in quick succession. The fact that readers could enjoy  Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Martin Stephenson, The Pipettes and JAMC over four days demonstrates exactly the variety and quality entertainment that I want to bring to this place. My thanks to Badger, Rich, Strangeways and S-WC for filling the void with such panache.

My own break was partly enforced from the fact that I was away visiting two very dear friends – a husband and wife – over an extended long weekend to celebrate them turning 50 years of age and throwing a party in their home town in Hampshire. I hadn’t been able to make the family celebration they had held up here in Glasgow earlier in the year as it coincided with my trip to Toronto, but I was determined to make sure I didn’t miss out the second time. It was always going to be a drunken few days – I don’t see them as often as I’d like and when we do get together it is always very messy that would always end in tears-stained nostalgia if we didn’t continually rip the piss out of one another.

This particular mate was my best man when I remarried in the mid 90s. By then, he was already forging an incredibly successful career doing things and being in situations that very few of us could ever imagine. The nature of his job is such that he can’t say too much about it and I’m therefore not going to give anything away – I’ll simply confirm that he’s not a spy or anything like that but that a great deal of his work is of utmost national and international security.

He once, many years ago, had to spend nine months away from his family in a very dangerous place; while we were talking over the long weekend he reminded me, and I’d completely forgotten about this, that I had given him a box of home-made C90 cassettes to take with him as his musical accompaniment. Not only did I supply the cassettes but I typed out something like 25 pages of notes on many of the songs with a lot of asides about why they were important or personal to one or other or both of us. I genuinely couldn’t recall doing this and was stunned when he brought out said box and notes and let me read over them.

This was all done back in 2003, and while I’m not claiming that my thousands upon thousands of words were worthy of any literary prize, I was proud of them in that they, and the songs, had seen him through some tough and lonely times; I could also see that this, in some ways, was my first ever stab at blogging albeit such a thing hadn’t been invented at that particular time. I was tempted to bring the notes back up the road with me and reproduce them here, stopped only by the fact that much of what was written was relevant to the particular situation and circumstances ny mate would find himself in and even now, thirteen years on, neither of us would want to put into a wider, more public domain. But reading my written words again, having forgotten that they existed, was a highlight of the year so far.

Which is just as well given the lowlights that would unfold over the next few days.

My political leanings can be worked out easily enough from the words and songs that have featured on this blog over the years so it’s fair to surmise that the ascension of Donald Trump into the White House doesn’t sit easily with me. But hey, if that’s what the voting system used in the States brings about, then so be it.

It’s been fascinating to watch the reactions to this outcome, just as it was when the Brexit vote and Scottish Independence results came through in recent times. Particularly on social media where so many folk on the losing side then seem to make a mad rush to ‘unfriend’ those who voted the other way. This seems just completely the wrong thing to do – if you surround yourself only with those whose views and opinions are completely in line with your own, then you’re not really going to get much of a perspective on life and society.

I am distressed and worried about what the future holds; I’m not envious of those with children whose fears must be even greater.  But I’m not going to stop talking to any friend – in real life or in cyberspace – for the ‘crimes’ of either voting a madman into the White House or putting an X in a particular box which then gave the outside world the impression that the little island I happen to live on is populated by racist bigots.

Life is way too important for that.

But I won’t ever talk to anyone who phones in and votes for an act on the X Factor………..

You’ll be pleased to know that things round here will return to normal from tomorrow. I just wanted to come back sharing a few things that were on my mind.

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – President Gas
mp3 : The Presidents of The United States of America – Bad Times
mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury
mp3 : Chumbawamba – Mouthful of Shit

Onwards and upwards. Starting with going over to read some of my favourite blogs.  I’ve missed you guys and gals.

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