Sunday, 31 January 2016

For millions he was a part of the family



"A lot depends on luck, and being in the right place at the right time; which was certainly true in my case."

Sir Terry Wogan, beloved stalwart of undemanding BBC breakfast-time radio, chat shows, game shows, the Children in Need telethon, Proms in the Park and the Eurovision Song Contest, has died.

On the latter, he famously said: "Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? Actually, I do. I've seen the rehearsals."

Having been in the business for fifty years, he was an "institution", a wise (and self-deprecating) head among the babble.

He was often scathing about what he saw as a decline in standards:
"Television has changed. It's not what it was like 50 years ago. Light entertainment is no longer the expensive quality that it used to be. It's all quiz games, reality TV and talk shows. Talk shows these days are just cheap TV. In the same way that reality TV is cheap television that humiliates people. There's no point saying there can't be any humiliation, because the public seem to respond to it, it seems to be something they want. But then again the public liked mass executions as well, but we don't do those any more. To be honest, I don't know where we go from here."

"You might say the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The culture now in television is that the presenter calls the financial and, increasingly, the creative shots. It is comparable to what happened in Hollywood 15 or so years ago. Agents have become far more powerful, and through them the stars are able to dictate their own terms."
Among the condolences from celebs and politicians alike, BBC director general Tony Hall paid this tribute:
"Terry truly was a national treasure. Today we've lost a wonderful friend.

"He was a lovely, lovely man and our thoughts are with his wife and family. For 50 years Sir Terry graced our screens and airwaves. His warmth, wit and geniality meant that for millions he was a part of the family.

"Wake up to Wogan was for millions of Radio 2 listeners the very best way to start the day.

"For decades he's been such a huge part of the BBC on television and radio and leaves so many wonderful memories.

"At the centre of Children in Need since its beginning, he raised hundreds of millions of pounds and changed so many lives for the better. He leaves a remarkable legacy."
Rest in peace, Sir Tel. We will all miss you.

Sir Michael Terence Wogan KBE DL (3rd August 1938 - 31 January 2016)

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Smoking, drinking, never thinking of tomorrow



Tammy Grimes. Tammy Grimes - a name wholeheartedly unsuited to showbiz; and yet a name one feels one really should know more about.

When I read that it is the lady's 82nd birthday today, I felt I just had to seek out more about her.

Variously described as having "a speaking voice like a buzz saw", a "lyric baritone singing voice that has a low, throaty quiver, a hum that takes wings", and "the stage personality of a daffy but endearing pseudo-English eccentric", Miss Grimes (born into a prominent New England family) began her career as a Broadway trouper - she was the original Unsinkable Molly Brown - married (and divorced) Christopher Plummer (their daughter is Amanda Plummer), and (notoriously) starred in one of the shortest series in television history, The Tammy Grimes Show. Returning to her natural home the stage, she has latterly been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and is an eminent member of the (US) Noel Coward Society.

Judging by this awe-inspiring rendition of that Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn [read my recent blog about him on his centenary] classic Sophisticated Lady, she is a talent to be reckoned with:



They say into your early life romance came
And then this heart of yours burned a flame
A flame that flickered one day and died away

Then with disillusion deep in your eyes
You learned that fools in love soon grow wise
The years have changed you somehow
I see you now

Smoking, drinking, never thinking
Of tomorrow, nonchalant
Diamonds shining, dancing, dining
With some man in a restaurant

Is that all you really want?
No, sophisticated lady
I know, you miss the love you lost long ago
And when nobody is nigh you cry

Smoking, drinking, never thinking
Of tomorrow, nonchalant
Diamonds shining, dancing, dining
With some man in a restaurant

Is that all you really want?
No, sophisticated lady
I know, you miss the love you lost long ago
And when nobody is nigh you cry

Sophisticated lady you cry.


Wonderful.

Tammy Lee Grimes (born 30th January 1934)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Get ready



Another week is over, thankfully. Another week closer to our holiday...

We have the very first outing of the year for "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari to look forward to this evening, and no doubt a little merriment and libation to accompany it.

To bring us up into the party mood, we need something uplifting - and who better but the quintessential party animals, tomorrow's birthday girl Jody Watley, and her chums the moon-walking Jeffrey Daniel and the smooth Howard Hewett?

They are Shalamar (of course) - and their classic A Night to Remember! Thank Disco It's Friday!



Have a fab weekend, whatever dance you do...

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

No need to laugh and cry



Another snippet of my 1980s has died.



Here I go out to sea again
The sunshine fills my hair
And dreams hang in the air
Gulls in the sky and in my blue eyes
You know it feels unfair
There's magic everywhere

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide
It's a wonderful wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry
It's a wonderful wonderful life

The sun's in your eyes
The heat is in your hair
They seem to hate you because you're there
And I need a friend
Oh I need a friend to make me happy
Not stand here on my own

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide
It's a wonderful wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry
It's a wonderful wonderful life

I need a friend
Oh I need a friend
To make me happy
Not so alone

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide
It's a wonderful wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry
It's a wonderful wonderful life


RIP Colin Vearncombe aka Black (26 May 1962 - 26 January 2016)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Definitely science words


A woman has contracted a stinking cold despite following a special diet based on wishful thinking.

Web designer Emma Bradford became unwell after a virus that is scientifically proven to exist overcame the imaginary defences provided by ‘superfoods’ and pills made from inedible plants.

Bradford said: “How can I have a cold when I drink a pint of blueberry and cabbage smoothie every morning with a capsule of geranium oil?”

While Bradford’s low-fat diet has certain benefits, they do not include killing the virus currently causing her to ooze mucus while sitting under a duvet watching cartoons.

She continued: “I’m sure my diet’s fundamentally sound because it’s about anti-oxidants, micronutrients and amino acids, and those are all definitely science words.

“However I’m starting to wonder if omega-3 oils really do make you cleverer, especially when a bottle of capsules costs £35 and a tin of sardines is 40p.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

"Superfoods" - Quack Word #39

Monday, 25 January 2016

Careful, it's windy out there...









...happy Burns Night to all our kilt-wearing Scottish chums!

Previous celebrations here and here.

The ones that fly



It's come around again. So soon.

As we groan and crawl our way out of bed and towards the joys of the office, on this Tacky Music Monday let us once again turn to the delightful Miss Ann-Margret to provide us with a little solace.

It's that anthem to "the way life should be" (composed by Sammy Cahn and tomorrow's birthday boy Jimmy Van Heusen)... The Pleasure Seekers!



Have a good week, dears. Roll on our holiday.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Command of the Day



When Dame Joan speaks, you listen.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

We've got no future, we've got no past. Here today, built to last



Timeslip moment again...

Thanks to the lovely peeps over at Dangerous Minds, I was made to feel very old.

They reminded me that it is THIRTY YEARS this week - a week when the Westland affair, Space Shuttles, wars in Beirut and Yemen and plans for the Channel Tunnel were in the news; Catchphrase and Lovejoy were on telly; and Jewel of the Nile, The Color Purple and Out of Africa were in our cinemas - since this slice of genius topped the UK charts.

It's Pet Shop Boys and West End Girls!


Sometimes you're better off dead
There's a gun in your hand and it's pointing at your head
You think you're mad, too unstable
kicking in chairs and knocking down tables
in a restaurant in a West End town
Call the police! There's a madman around
Running down underground
to a dive bar in a West End town

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
West End girls

Too many shadows, whispering voices
faces on posters, too many choices
If? When? Why? What?
How much have you got?
Have you got it? Do you get it?
If so, how often?
Which do you choose
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
West End girls
West End girls

(How much do you need?)

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
A West End town, a dead end world
East End boys, West End girls
West End girls

You got a heart of glass or a heart of stone?
Just you wait 'til I get you home
We've got no future, we've got no past
Here today, built to last
In every city, in every nation
from Lake Geneva to the Finland station
(How far have you been?)

And a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
A West End town, a dead end world
East End Boys, West End girls
West End girls


[Thirty years! Sobs gently]

Friday, 22 January 2016

I was looking at you! You were looking at me!



Born in Tennessee, found fame in Detroit, died in Nottingham. An unusual line of progression, one might think - unless you're referring to the life of the marvellous Edwin Starr, whose birthday it was yesterday. For, long after his major success in his homeland (with classics such as War and 25 Miles) had subsided, his career really took off over here in the glittering 1970s, and he remained a legend on the Northern Soul scene until his death.



We're heading for the weekend, and with it all the jollity and partying that may bring, so what better way to get us in the mood than to bop along in chiffon and hotpants with the combination of Mr Starr's superb dance hit Contact and the formidable talents of Legs & Co?

I think we should... and Thank Disco It's Friday!



Edwin Starr (21st January 1942 – 2nd April 2003)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Sodomitical and unnatural habits



Jim, Paul and I trolled off to Waterstones booksellers in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday night for quite a momentous encounter. It's not every day one gets to hear in person the musings of Oscar Wilde's grandson!

Yet, here in person was Merlin Holland discussing his research into that notorious trial, and how it inexorably led to his involvement in a current West End production based upon Dear Oscar's most controversial work, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Here is an extract from his recent article on the subject in The Huffington Post:
There was greater emphasis in the trial on literature and Oscar defending himself and his work... against the attempts by the defence's lawyers to imply Oscar's guilt by association with it and thus prove justification for Queensberry calling him a sodomite. They portrayed the story as an "immoral and obscene work" depicting "sodomitical and unnatural habits tastes and practices... and calculated to subvert morality and to encourage unnatural vice." Strong stuff to describe a book which we give to our teenagers today to teach them about Oscar Wilde and the power of well-written prose.

...it became clear to me that he was in court not just for 'gross indecency' as homosexual acts were quaintly called then but also, indirectly, for being the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. He had written it in the winter of 1889 at a point in his life when he was hovering, with a wife and two children, on the edge of literary respectability, and it was published in June the following year in Lippincott's Magazine. The critics at once condemned it as "a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction" and written "for outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys", which is as close as they could allow themselves to an outright accusation of the story's homosexual overtones. The oblique reference was to a police raid the year before on a notorious male brothel in Cleveland Street involving young employees of the General Post Office with members of the aristocracy, and the subsequent Establishment cover-up. "To get into the best society, nowadays, one has either to feed people, amuse people, or shock people," Lord Illingworth remarks in A Woman of No Importance. Unfortunately, in taking his own advice, Oscar cannot have foreseen the danger to which he would be exposing himself five years later.

Once the succès de scandale had died down, Oscar set about expanding the story to have it published in book-form, which it was the following year. As well as adding new material, rather uncharacteristically, he toned down some of the more overtly homoerotic passages but always denied publicly that any adverse criticism affected his decision. In adapting it for the stage, we have reintroduced a few of those suppressions from the magazine as well as others from the original manuscript, in order to reflect Oscar's original intentions. These passages, significant as they are, will be largely unknown to the general public, who read the novel today as published in its book-length version. One in particular, where the painter confesses his love for Dorian was made much of at the Queensberry libel trial: "It is quite true that I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend. Somehow I had never loved a woman. I suppose I never had time."
Heady stuff indeed, to be published in the midst of the the prudish repression of 1890s Britain (it was only in 1885, after all, that The British Parliament enacted section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which effectively criminalised homosexuality).

This was a truly engrossing evening. Among the most salient observations Mr Holland made was: had Oscar not taken the libel action against Bosie's father the Marquess of Queensbury - which led remorselessly to the trial, humiliation and imprisonment of the great man of letters - would it really have taken another seven decades (until the Sexual Offences Act of 1967) for that heinous criminalisation to be repealed?

By way of a little tribute to the enduring impact of Oscar Wilde, his martyrdom, and the legendary status he gained amongst those persecuted (and illegal) gay men a generation later - here's Noel Coward's paean to aesthetes everywhere, (We All Wear a) Green Carnation:



The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Merlin Holland and John O'Connor, is on at Trafalgar Studios from 18th January to 13th February 2016.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My kingdom for a horse, or is it ass?


Following the appointment of Sarah Palin as War, Donald Trump is still looking for an additional two Horsemen before he is ready to ride.

The billionaire, who showed off his solid-gold scythe to cheering crowds begging for death yesterday, has admitted he is still missing key apocalyptic personnel.

He said: “Sarah Palin has just the qualities of belligerent, uninformed, self-justifying aggression that I need for War.

“And I, obviously, am Death, the end of it all coming with a vulgarity and greed that is all the 21st century deserves.

“But the vital roles of Pestilence and Famine, which might have a lower profile in the USA but are huge in the third world, remain unfilled.”


Shortlisted for Pestilence are the Ebola virus, a strain of anthrax engineered for biological warfare and "Blurred Lines" singer Robin Thicke.

Trump added: “I’m in negotiations with Ronald McDonald for Famine. He’ll sign, and that gives us kid appeal.

“Coming in 2017.”

The Daily Mash.

Of course.

The lunatics really are trying to take over the asylum.

Terrifying.

You want more and you want it fast



When it came to seeing through the morass of musical "Emperor's New Clothes" hype, David Bowie always showed impeccable discernment. From today's Guardian:
[His] list of collaborators reads like a cavalcade of pop-culture power brokers: Madonna, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, John Lennon and Queen. He also recorded with Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

Missing from that list? Fellow British act Coldplay, who once contacted Bowie in the hope of collaborating, only to be turned down by the music giant.

The band’s drummer, Will Champion, told NME they had invited Bowie to record vocals on one of their songs. Bowie replied, “It’s not a very good song, is it?”
Coldplay, 0. Bowie, 10.

Speaking of acolytes, however...



Queen Madge, 10. Coldplay, 0.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Snow Queen has visited...





...the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers are now very, very frosted indeed.


[Not actually our garden, but the effect is similar]

Monday, 18 January 2016

An artist shouldn’t have to take off his underwear for the audience



In an interview in 2013, talking about being "outed" in the media, Izhar Cohen said: "Nobody has the right to invade another’s private life. To me this is criminal. Those who have a problem with their identity should see a psychologist. I don’t think my bed should be anyone’s business. I have never exposed my sex life. An artist shouldn’t have to take off his underwear for the audience”.

Could anyone really have thought he was "in"? On this Tacky Music Monday, here are two of Mr Cohen's Eurovision Song Contest entries (the first of which won the contest for Israel back in 1978). Judge for yourself!

First up, with The Alphabeta, here's A-ba-ni-bi:



And next, from 1985, Olé, Olé:



Fabulous.

On the subject of all things Eurovision, my heart sank when I read that this year the UK's representative will be chosen in "an X Factor-style live competition giving the public the power to vote". Just what we need. Yet another edition of "Spot the Braincell" ("thirty minutes of cheerful ritual humiliation of the old [and the not-so-old] and greedy"), the moronically whooping audiences, the panel of smug-bastard judges, the inevitable close-ups of belittled crying women with too much make-up and ghastly hair.

As if the contest itself isn't preposterous enough. At least that's camp.

Regardless, have a good week, peeps!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Queen Bitch"



From today's Observer:
"David was like a comet, blazing brightly into the sky. That comet travelled too fast for us to see it and take it all in at once." - Carlos Alomar, long-time Bowie collaborator.

"He was intelligent, imaginative, brave, charismatic, cool, sexy and truly inspirational both visually and musically. He created such staggeringly brilliant work, yes, but so much of it and it was so good. There are great people who make great work but who else has left a mark like his? ... He was ours. Wonderfully eccentric in a way that only an Englishman could be." - Kate Bush.

"What was really impressive to me about David was that he had such a terrific sense of being an entertainer and also about the music business. He was a very shrewd, very sharp guy. That was consistent throughout his career: he had the ability to sell this oddity that he was, and make it clear to people who would normally be completely resistant to what he was doing. He reached millions and millions of people... On the stage he was elegant and such a strong presence: he was very graceful and versatile. His versatility was one of his major points: he was truly a renaissance artist and man." - Debbie Harry.

"We were so lucky, to be adolescent when Bowie burst on to the scene. We got him in real time, when we were forming, and the yearning for each new record from him was so thrilling. Then it arrived – who got it first? Who could afford it, had saved up? Congregating in bedrooms, devouring it, no talking. A side, B side, flip it over, needle to the start, again and again. Our Bowie rituals. For quite a long time... most of my waking hours were spent thinking about Bowie. I know David made himself seem alien and strange, but he was never aloof. He was easy to fall in love with. He was warm, you could walk around with him in your head all day and it comforted you." - Edwin Collins.

"We should remember Bowie as a great human emancipator on the Bolívar or Mandela scale. An emotional liberator of people. He was the patron saint of the outsider, the uninvited and the misfit. All those lonely teenagers in each generation, unsure of who, or what they could possibly be – or become. In other words all of us." - Julien Temple, film-maker.
And thus, a whole week of daily tributes to the godlike genius of David Bowie comes to an end here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

So far I've featured:
However, there is one very special song that I really need to play before this sad week of unashamedly indulgent memory-lane-trawling finally comes to an end.

Yesterday I talked about discovering, in the early 80s, Mr Bowie's formative "Glam" years of a decade earlier. On Thursday I spoke of Hunky Dory as "seminal". And, on balance - even with strong competition from Station to Station - in my opinion it is his greatest album, across a five-decade career.

And, from that album, a song that has become part of my very fabric. A song for all us queens (and such are queens!). My anthem. It is, of course, Queen Bitch:



I'm up on the eleventh floor
And I'm watching the cruisers below
He's down on the street
And he's trying hard to pull sister Flo
Oh, my heart's in the basement
My weekend's at an all time low

'Cause she's hoping to score
So I can't see her letting him go
Walk out of her heart
Walk out of her mind.
Oh not her

She's so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat
Oh God, I could do better than that.

She's an old time ambassador
Of sweet talking, night walking games
Oh, and she's known in the darkest clubs
For pushing ahead of the dames
If she says she can do it
Then she can do it, she don't make false claims

For she's a Queen, and such are queens
That your laughter is sucked in their brains
Now she's leading him on
And she'll lay him right down
Bet it could have been me
Yes, it could have been me.
Why didn't I say, Why didn't I say, No, no, no!

She's so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat
Oh God, I could do better than that.

So I lay down a while
And I gaze at my hotel wall
Oh the cot is so cold
It don't feel like no bed at all
Yeah I lay down a while
And I look at my hotel wall

But he's down on the street
So I throw both his bags down the hall
And I'm phoning a cab
'Cause my stomach feels small
There's a taste in my mouth
And it's no taste at all
It could have been me
Oh yeah, it could have been me
Why didn't I say, Why didn't I say, No, no, no!

She's so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat
Oh God, I could do better than that.


And, to this day, NOBODY could do better than that.

Primavera?



Not quite. There was snow on the ground early this morning (although it soon melted by the time I finally lurched out of bed)...

However, nothing eases us into thoughts of spring (as the daffs, snowdrops and cyclamen are already showing in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers) than a little bit of loveliness, courtesy of Soft Tempo Lounge:



[Music: Bruno Nicolai - Primavera]

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Rock'n'Roll Suicide"



"Everybody... this has been one of the greatest tours of our lives. I would like to thank the band. I would like to thank our road crew. I would like to thank our lighting people. Of all of the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it's the last show that we'll ever do. Thank you." Thus David Bowie killed the man, Ziggy Stardust, live on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon - before launching into what is, and always will be, my all-time favourite of Mr B's songs.

As a "late-comer" to the magic and mystery of the great man (my first album was the aforementioned Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, and I sort of worked backwards from there), his early Glam Rock era was something I needed to explore, in order to truly understand him. I was, after all, only nine years old when The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released - thus far too young (and wrapped up with the likes of Donny Osmond, The Sweet and The New Seekers) to know what to make of this ambisexual space-freak first time around.

Sure, the "Bowie/Roxy" nights we went to at Lazers club in Newport played his heavy-on-the-electronica repertoire from "The Berlin Trilogy", as well as stuff like Rebel Rebel and John, I'm Only Dancing, but what of the music that didn't lend itself so easily to "pointy dancing"?

My journey inevitably led me to the tortured genius of Ziggy, and I began to appreciate exactly why a man with a singing voice reminiscent of Anthony Newley and a penchant for extreme make-up and hair dye could possibly have exploded onto the musical scene with such a huge force as he did. How strong, how clever, how brave, how glamorous! Of course, this was at a particular time in my own life (early 1980s) when I too was "tortured" by confusion, self-denial, fear and uncertainty - mainly about my sexuality - and I felt I wanted desperately to escape the small-town life, the dreariness and the despair, if only I knew how (or had the guts to do something about it). It was then that David Bowie came to my rescue...

...with this song:



Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth
You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette
The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget
Oh, how, how, how, you're a rock 'n' roll suicide

You're too old to lose it, too young to choose it
And the clocks waits so patiently on your song
You walk past a café but you don't eat when you've lived too long
Oh, no, no, no, you're a rock 'n' roll suicide

Chev brakes are snarling as you stumble across the road
But the day breaks instead so you hurry home
Don't let the sun blast your shadow
Don't let the milk float ride your mind
You're so natural - religiously unkind

Oh no love! you're not alone
You're watching yourself but you're too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! you're not alone
No matter what or who you've been
No matter when or where you've seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I've had my share, I'll help you with the pain
You're not alone!

Just turn on with me and you're not alone
Let's turn on with me and you're not alone (wonderful)
Let's turn on and be not alone (wonderful)
Gimme your hands cause you're wonderful (wonderful)
Gimme your hands cause you're wonderful (wonderful)
Oh gimme your hands...


He was there for me, and I really appreciate that.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Golden Years"



Timeslip moment again, but of course, it's a Bowie one...

"I think my spaceship knows which way to go" - and it did. It's landed us in this week forty years ago.

The news headlines in January 1976: Britain and Iceland clashed in the "Cod War", there was renewed violence in Northern Ireland, the UK was mopping up after a "hurricane" hit Europe, and Concorde was about to be launched as a commercial service. In our cinemas: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Man Who Would Be King. On telly: Rentaghost , When the Boat Comes In and The Good Life.

Music charts were still recovering from the Xmas lull, with both Greg Lake and Dana's seasonal offerings (and "novelty" items by Laurel & Hardy and Chubby Checker) still bothering the Top 10, and the unmoveable Bohemian Rhapsody holding the top slot. Andy Fairweather-Low, 10CC, Sailor and the Drifters were present and correct - and so was this classic from Mr B.

Effortlessly "cool", bridging the divide between his sleek soul-driven Young Americans era and the rest of the tracks on the Station to Station album (which was about to arrive, ahead of David's big-screen debut in The Man Who Fell To Earth, later in the year), here's the masterful Golden Years:



Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Golden years, gold whop whop whop

Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life's begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

There's my baby, lost that's all
Once I'm begging you save her little soul
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Last night they loved you, opening doors and pulling some strings, angel
Come get up my baby
In walked luck and you looked in time
Never look back, walk tall, act fine
Come get up my baby

I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years
Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years, gold
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Some of these days, and it won't be long
Gonna drive back down where you once belonged
In the back of a dream car twenty foot long
Don't cry my sweet, don't break my heart
Doing all right, but you gotta get smart
Wish upon, wish upon, day upon day, I believe oh Lord
I believe all the way
Come get up my baby

There's my baby, lost that's all
Once I'm begging you save her little soul
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Run for the shadows, run for the shadows
Run for the shadows in these golden years

I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years
Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years, gold

Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Golden years, gold whop whop whop


Facts:
  • With this song, Bowie was only the fifth non-black artist to appear on America's Soul Train
  • Apparently David offered it to Elvis Presley to perform, but he declined.
  • By all accounts, this song was recorded at the height of David's chronic addiction problems - and he was drunk when he performed it on TV. It doesn't show.

Thank Disco It's Friday (again)! I shall be toasting the "Golden Years" this weekend, no doubt.

Well baby, I'm ready



It has been a depressing week, for many reasons.

However, all bad things come to an end! We have a weekend in prospect - and tomorrow, a little coterie of "our gang" is going to salivate over the glorious Bejewelled Treasures: the Al Thani Collection at the V&A.

Keeping up that sparkly theme, let us all slip on our very slinkiest gold lurex gowns, and (in recognition of the fact that none other than today's birthday boy Pete Waterman, long before Mr Aitken and Mr Stock and "The Hit Factory", was the first to bring them to the UK) get this party started with one of our favourite girly groups here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

It's the simply faboo Three Degrees, and Get Your Love Back. Thank Disco It's Friday!



Have a great weekend, dear reader.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Life on Mars?"


Photo: Denis O’Regan


Photos: Alan Perry

It's summer 1983, I'm nineteen years old, and my school friend Carol and I are very excited indeed - having in our hands, as we did, tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see our idol ("singing falsetto"?) David Bowie live on stage, at last! OK, the Serious Moonlight Tour concert was miles away in Milton Keynes [grim-by-reputation "new town" famous for its concrete cows], but you can't have everything. There was a coach organised by the legendary Roxcene Records in our home town Newport's Kingsway Centre to take us there and back, so no worries. Well... until we discovered that the driver had no clue how to navigate around the "roundabout capital of the world", so we kept ending up at dead ends like Stony Stratford before finally arriving at the Milton Keynes Bowl.

But arrive we did, and what a boggling place it appeared to be! This was my first ever "festival-scale concert". Every other act I had seen (Siouxsie, Gary Numan, Duran Duran, Toyah, Ultravox, et al) appeared in enclosed theatres and venues, so I was quite unprepared for the sheer scale of The Bowl itself; its capacity is 65,000 after all.

Its acres of space is completely covered in grass. There are no seats. Instinctively, Carol and I headed for the centre of this over-sized lawn to be near the stage, and found ourself a place to sit while waiting (for several long hours, as it turned out) for something to happen on stage. There was torrential rain in the week leading up to the concert, so the grass in the arena had been covered with thick rubberised tarpaulin for protection - on the day itself, however, temperatures rocketed, and the rubber was hot to sit on. We didn't mind. We'd suffer for Bowie...

Opening act The Beat [lauded stars of the Ska/Mod revival of '79-'80] as I recall were well past their best, and people (us included) generally ignored them while milling around trying to find some "edible" food from the myriad caravan-based outlets (selling, as they always do, over-priced slop), and tip-toeing through the disgusting swamp that was already developing around the (leaking) toilet blocks. Second support act the Oz band Icehouse (chosen, most likely, to fit with Mr Bowie's apparent penchant for all things Australian during this, his Let's Dance era) were instantly forgettable.

Mr Bowie, however, once he finally got to the stage, was not! Despite having been pushed out of the direct line of sight at the front of the stage by the sheer crush of people who stormed towards the stage the moment the band struck a chord, we still had a good enough viewpoint of our God on stage (as long as the Mohican-wearing punk in front kept his head facing and not oblique to the proscenium arch). Others in hindsight were critical of Bowie's performances at this time - some unkindly compared his slick, suited, Americanised persona to Danny Kaye! - but we were in absolute awe.


Photo: Alan Perry

He played a comprehensive repertoire of favourites, every one of which we adored:
  • The Jean Genie
  • Star
  • Heroes
  • What In The World
  • Golden Years
  • Fashion
  • Let's Dance
  • Breaking Glass
  • Life On Mars
  • Sorrow
  • Cat People
  • China Girl
  • Scary Monsters
  • Rebel Rebel
  • White Light White Heat
  • Station To Station
  • Cracked Actor
  • Ashes To Ashes
  • Space Oddity
  • Young Americans
  • TVC 15
  • Fame
  • Stay
  • The Jean Genie
  • Modern Love
From that very occasion in Milton Keynes, here's some scratchy amateur footage of David performing Breaking Glass and Scary Monsters:



And here, from elsewhere on the tour, our Bowie Track of the Day - Life on Mars?:



Despite the haze of heat and alcohol on the day, and, more importantly the thirty-three years that have lapsed since that fateful concert, I distinctly remember singing (as we did every song he performed, inevitably) every word of this, with that 65,000-strong choir.

From his seminal album Hunky Dory (and there will be more of that in due course during this week of tributes to Mr Bowie, no doubt!), here is Life On Mars? as it is more usually heard:..



It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling "No"
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen
But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man!
Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show.
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show:
Is there life on Mars?

It's on America's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
'Cause Lennon's on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
'Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It's about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man!
Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show.
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show:
Is there life on Mars?


This was life. And, yes - we did feel like we had been "on Mars"...

"I don't mean Ratners!"




News that the British institution that is Argos is going down the pan comes as no surprise to moi.

Always a bit of a "tacky" store, emerging as it did out of the ashes of the old "Green Shield Stamps" emporia, its most recent reinvention - slowly phasing-out the traditional catalogues, paper order slips, little "betting-shop-style" pens and tills in favour of touch-screen terminals (half of which never work) and card prepayment machines (most of which never work) - has created a form of organised chaos at the collection points that, last time I went there, was reminiscent of a North African airport (minus the goats).

I went to purchase an expansion drive to backup the old PC and ended up spending 45 minutes of my life I will never get back, waiting, with all the other red-faced and angry punters, for an order that their "professional staff" had promptly lost - it seems some lucky person who was waiting for their purchased 16Gb memory stick ended up with my £60 Seagate 2Tb drive by mistake; I ended up with the correct item and a hand-written receipt eventually.

When it comes to rewarding shopping experiences, I think only the "Seventh Gate of Hell" that is IKEA comes close...

Anyway, in its favour, its appeal to the chavvier elements of society was forever immortalised in song by none other than "The Blonde Bombsite" herself, Miss Lily Savage!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Boys Keep Swinging"


Fripp, Eno, Bowie

Following his commercial success in America in the mid-70s with soulful hits such as Young Americans and Golden Years, David Bowie was suffering badly from the excesses of living in LA - his perceived solution to his drink and drug problems was to leave it all behind and move to "the dark side" of Cold War-era Berlin. Sharing an apartment with "partner-in-crime" Iggy Pop, he embarked on yet another new direction in music, working with the masterful combination of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, who became a lifelong friend:
In a recent statement, Eno said: "David's death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now. We knew each other for over 40 years, in a friendship that was always tinged by echoes of [comic characters] Pete and Dud.

"Over the last few years – with him living in New York and me in London – our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were 'Mr Showbiz', 'Milton Keynes', 'Rhoda Borrocks' and 'The Duke of Ear'.

"I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: 'Thank you for our good times, Brian. they will never rot'. And it was signed 'Dawn'. I realise now he was saying goodbye."
Bowie and Eno's "Berlin Trilogy" of albums had a mixed reception. Low was considered by many to veer too far away from David's preceding musical style, and was not a huge success. Heroes on the other hand was a triumph - and its title track became one of his lasting legacies; many consider it his meisterwerk.

His third album with Eno, Lodger marked the end of that phase of their collaboration (they got together again on several occasions over the years), but, for all its accusations of being "piecemeal" and "half-finished", it produced a couple of songs that neatly pre-empted the styles and sounds of the next decade.

The 80s really began with this song, and it remains a bit if an "anthem" here at Dolores Delargo Towers (of course)...

Which one is 'Rhoda Borrocks' and which is 'Dawn', I wonder..?



Heaven loves ya
The clouds part for ya
Nothing stands in your way
When you're a boy

Clothes always fit ya
Life is a pop of the cherry
When you're a boy

When you're a boy
You can wear a uniform
When you're a boy
Other boys check you out
You get a girl
These are your favourite things
When you're a boy

Boys
Boys
Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out

Uncage the colours
Unfurl the flag
Luck just kissed you hello
When you're a boy

They'll never clone ya
You're always first on the line
When you're a boy

When you're a boy
You can buy a home of your own
When you're a boy
Learn to drive and everything
You'll get your share
When you're a boy

Boys
Boys
Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out


Indeed.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Made in heaven?


Model Jerry Hall, whose four previous husbands met unexplained deaths, is to become the sixth wife of convicted poisoner Rupert Murdoch.

Hall, who was left with a $314 million fortune by her first three Texan oil billionaire husbands, was married to Mick Jagger before he was killed by falling crotch-first into a Nutribullet smoothie blender.

Her fiancé has dispatched several spouses using Horlicks laced with a flavourless substance.

The couple, who announced their engagement in a black-bordered notice in The Times, told media their marriage will be a long and happy one.

Hall said: “I’m already encouraging his interests in visiting printing presses when nobody’s around and really leaning out over the safety railing.

“He loves to cook for me, often questioning me for hours on the exact taste of every mouthful and my BMI. This is one marriage that won’t end in divorce.”
The Daily Mash.

Of course.

Bowie Track of the Day - "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)"



Way back in 1981, I had the above poster on my bedroom wall. I worshipped at the altar of David Bowie's glamour even then.

For, in the midst of the wonderment and fabulosity of the burgeoning New Romantic "movement" (that I so aspired to be a part of), the "Thin White Duke" had re-emerged as a composite meld of post-apocalyptic Pierrot and Major Tom - and in the process showed those "Blitz-kid upstarts" who was the real boss.

His entire Scary Monsters and Super Creeps album was a complete revelation; a moment of enlightenment. I was hooked. For life. But it was that image I aspired to most of all - I henna-ed my hair and sleeked it back, bought 18-pleat pegged trousers and baggy shirts, the lot.

From Bowie Golden Years site:
The sleeve, commissioned by Bowie, began with a photo session with photographer/designer Duffy (who designed the iconic Aladdin Sane sleeve) which he took to Edward Bell who developed the sleeve design using cut-outs of old Bowie album sleeves, whitewashing them to symbolise the discarding of Bowie's old personae.

Bowie was sufficiently pleased with the result that he commissioned Bell for a further portrait from the session which was included on the cover of the Bowie calendar and entitled Glamour.

The make-up for the clown/Pierrot image created for the 'Scary Monsters' concept was designed by specialist Richard Sharah: "David came to me and said he wanted a Pierrot look, and he let me design from there. Most of the time I draw up some ideas and then work with the subject around those. The preparation for David's make-up took one and a half hours."
I spent as long only to look nowhere near as good.

Every track on the album was brilliant (in particular the singles Ashes To Ashes and Fashion, and the stand-out track Because You're Young - all of which I featured in a previous tribute). But, for today's special featurette, it is on the album's title track we focus:



She had an horror of rooms she was tired you can't hide beat
When I looked in her eyes they were blue but nobody home
She could've been a killer if she didn't walk the way she do, and she do
She opened strange doors that we'd never close again

She began to wail jealousies scream
Waiting at the lights know what I mean

Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared
Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared

She asked me to stay and I stole her room
She asked for my love and I gave her a dangerous mind
Now she's stupid in the street and she can't socialise
Well I love the little girl and I'll love her till the day she dies

She wails
Jimmy's guitar sound jealousies scream
Waiting at the lights know what I mean

Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared
Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared.


Still an inspiration, thirty-five years later.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Bowie Track of the Day - "Wild is the Wind"



From Pushing Ahead Of The Dame blog:
Bowie saw potential for obsessiveness and grandeur in Wild Is the Wind: the essential moodiness of [Dimitri] Tiomkin’s music, with its constant shifts from major to minor, and the desperation in its lyric (“with your kiss my life begins”) deserving of an equally extravagant vocal. He found his inspiration in Nina Simone, who had performed Wild Is the Wind at Carnegie Hall in March 1964. There Simone (who Bowie had met in Los Angeles during his exile) snakes and burrows through the song over seven minutes - where [Johnny] Mathis had sung “my love is like the wind” as though he was reading a greeting card, Simone intends to embody the element for a time.

Bowie seems determined to outdo Simone’s renovations to the vocal: there’s a three-bar tortuous “you-ooo-oooh-ooh kiss me,” he hollows out vowels and elongates consonants into trills of sound (“willlllllllld is the winnnnnnnnnd”), there’s the dramatic plunge into the depths on another “you kiss me,” and Bowie’s final, increasingly manic, repetitions of the title line, the last ending with a sustained high B eventually subsiding to A. The vocal is on such a grandiose scale that no actual human being seems deserving of its efforts - it’s a monumental performance seemingly intended for a monument itself.
It is, and always will be, one of my favourites. It evokes memories of confused sexuality, of love, and of loss:



Love me, love me, love me, say you do
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind
Give me more than one caress, satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
For wild is the wind, wild is the wind

You touch me,
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me
With your kiss my life begins
You're spring to me, all things to me
Don't you know, you're life itself!

Like the leaf clings to the tree,
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we're like creatures of the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind.


I think it is appropriate to cry.

God is dead



David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer.

Ay mamita que'pachanga, me voy con la pachanga!



Oh dearie me. It feels like winter is upon us (it's been a long time coming!), and just at the wrong time for us to be forced out of our nice warm beds and off to work for another thrilling week.

Never mind, on this Tacky Music Monday we have something that's guaranteed to warm us up and get us moving. Here's a song sung by a German of Italian descent, whose greatest success was in France, singing a Cuban song in Spanish. Whew!

It's the the lovely Audrey Arno, and La Pachanga:



Have a good week.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

A wonderful life



Totty of the day...















...always and forever.

"It would be easy to blame Hollywood to say that I was typed and forced to play the same role over and over. For a while, I did. But the truth is that I knew what I was doing. I was enjoying myself. I was making money."

"If I'd understood back then that a guy could be in love with another one, it would have happened. But I didn't come to that realisation for a few more years and then it was too late for Jimmy and me."


As this marvellous little piece of footage confirms...


Salvatore "Sal" Mineo, Jr. (10th January 1939 – 12th February 1976)

My previous tribute to the lovely Sal.