Friday, 23 April 2010

A Decade of Being Uptight

It is rare indeed that I will be enticed on to a dance floor. Yet anyone who has seen me at the monthly London club night Uptight will know that it only takes a few bars of Jonathan Richman's Roadrunner or an early REM track to get me under the disco ball. The music you hear at Uptight is so great that when Jo and I thought about who would DJ at our wedding there was no question who we'd ask.

This Saturday (24 April) the last ever Uptight takes place at the Albany on Great Portland Street. After 10 years of spinning everything from Donna Summer to Spacemen 3 my pals Wayne Gooderham, his brother Marc and Gary Rose are hanging up their headphones.

I have lots of fond memories of Saturday night's in the Albany's basement. Most notably perhaps when my friend John Barner thought he could become Christina Ricci's friend by lighting the pint-sized actress's cigarettes.

To mark Uptight's passing I've asked Wayne to share some of his essential Uptight tunes. For one week you can download the whole lot together, all nicely tagged with artwork etc. The link is at the bottom of the post. If you like what you hear get down to the Albany on Saturday night. I'll be the one punching the air to Born To Run.

MP3: The Fall – Blindness (Peel Session)

"Not only one of the best things The Fall have done in recent years, but one of the best things they’ve done period. But don’t bother with the album version though. It’s the Peel session version yer wantin’."
Find it on The Complete Peel Sessions| The Fall Online

MP3: Von Sudenfed – The Rhinohead

"And this is the best pop song MES has had a hand in for bleedin’ ages."
Find it on Tromatic Reflexxions| Von Sudenfed at Domino Records

MP3: Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone (live)

"Obviously the studio version is perfect and the live '66 version has its own ragged charm (to put it mildly), but the live '74 version from Before The Flood is more fun for the dance floor: sing-a-long-an-alienation."
Find it on Before The Flood| Bob Dylan official site

MP3: The Rolling Stones – Rocks Off

"Coz the sunshine bores the daylight out of me (baby)."
Find it on Exile On Main Street| Rolling Stones official site

MP3: Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

"When we started Uptight it was with a clear agenda to play songs we genuinely loved that wouldn't necessarily appear to go together in a set. Like this."
Find it on Born to Run| Bruce Springsteen official site

MP3: Stereolab – French Disko

"and this..."
Find it on Oscillons from the Anti-Sun| Stereolab official site

MP3: Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me

"and this."
Find it on The Very Best of Nina Simone| Nina Simone official site

MP3: Smog – Ex-Con

"The best Smog songs sound like the Velvet Underground (in my humble o'). And this one sounds like New Order too. Everyone's a winner."
Find it on Red Apple Falls| Bill Callahan MySpace

MP3: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth

"See above."
Find it on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah| official site

MP3: LCD Soundsystem – All of My Friends

Find it on Sound of Silver| LCD Soundsystem official site

MP3: New Order – Love Vigilantes

"New Order were always more of an 'Uptight band' than Joy Division, y’know..."
Find it on Low-life| New Order Online

MP3: The The Walkmen – The Rat

"Nosebleed Strokes. Innit."
Find it on Bows + Arrows| The Walkmen MySpace

MP3: Teddybears – Punkrocker (feat. Iggy Pop)

"The Uptight Dancefloor Classic that never was. Pity. I still think it's brill, though."
Find it on Soft Machine| Teddybears MySpace

MP3: Bo Didley – Pills

"'A rock n roll nurse went to my head'. Indeed."
Find it on Bo Didley - His Best| Bo Didley Wikipedia

MP3: Morrissey – Every Day Is Like Sunday

"His finest three minutes. A perfect pop song with a bridge that lesser talents would have settled for as a chorus. Industrial Motown sez I."
Find it on Viva Hate| Morrissey official site

MP3: David Bowie – Modern Love

"'I know when to go out. And when to stay in. Get things done.' Surprisingly pragmatic advice from the TWD."
Find it on Let's Dance| David Bowie BBC artist page

MP3: The Beatles – She Loves You

"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Find it on The Red Album| The Beatles official site

MP3: The Velvet Underground – After Hours

"Without whom... 'If you close the door the night could last forever.'"
Find it on The Velvet Underground| Velvet Underground Wikipedia

Download the entire Uptight compilation (.rar) via Megaupload

Related Links
Uptight - full details plus flyer for reduced price entry
Three Score & Ten - Wayne's age-based literary project

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Roy Harper's North Country

One of the many ways my life will be poorer if the BBC axe 6 Music is that as well as being exposed to less new music I won't discover as much great old music either. On Gideon Coe's show last Wednesday I heard Roy Harper's cover of Bob Dylan's Girl From the North Country for the first time. Gid played a beautiful version Harper recorded for the BBC in 1974. This is how it appears on the album Valentine.

MP3: Roy Harper - North Country

Buy Valentine: Amazon

Hearing it sung by an Englishman brings the song full circle. Dylan wrote it at the start of 1963 during his first trip to Europe. He'd recently met Martin Carthy in London who'd taught him English folk songs like Lord Franklin (whose melody and some lyrics Dylan later used for Bob Dylan's Dream) and Scarborough Fair.

Carthy recalls the first time he heard Girl From the North Country: "Bob came down to The Troubadour and said, 'Hey, here's Scarborough Fair' and he started playing this thing. And he kept getting the giggles, all the time he was doing it. It was very funny. I think he sang about three or four verses and then he went. 'Ah man ah,' and he burst out laughing and sang something else... It was delightful, lovely. 'Cos I mean he... he made a new song... I took it as an enormous compliment, to the song and, if you like, to me... It was a great thing to have done."

Girl From the North Country holds the unique position in the Dylan cannon of being the only song he's recorded for two different studio albums. It first appeared on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1963.

MP3: Bob Dylan - Girl From the North Country

Buy The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan: 7digital | Amazon

Second-time round Dylan recorded it as a duet with Johnny Cash as the opener to Nashville Skyline in 1969. This clip is from the first episode of Johnny Cash's TV show, filmed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, in June 1969.

Seeing the short-haired, timid Bob sat on that hokey stage, it's hard to imagine the wired and spindly Dylan that shocked English audiences with his electric guitar just three years before.

Related Posts
Some Thoughts On the Demise Of BBC 6 Music - my take on my bosses' ideas

Related Links
Roy Harper - great site, includes Roy's blog
Gideon Coe on 6 Music - hear a week's worth of shows
Love 6 Music - site opposed to closure of 6 Music
Save 6 Music - another one

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