Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Music That Sounds Good

Smokey Brooks Long Time Ago (P&P, 197?)
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the picture is a completely different Smokey Brooks single. Well, look, don't sweat it. Monsignor Brooks basically doesn't exist on the intersquizz (apart from promoting this), so let's just accept that and move on. So, the pop record - it's great! Smokey is a fine singer, he's surveys the troubles of the world around him and, over a brass and bongos heavy funk-soul groove (that includes an extremely cool country music chord sequence in the chorus) has this advice to offer: "We can work a little harder," he wails, "pray a little a longer, love a little longer, get fings [he really does says "fings" - I like it] together baby, oh yeah...".

You know, I think those are mighty wise words...

Bonus Picture!

Here's a picture of George Best relaxing in his smokey (do you see what I did there?) nightclub in May, 1974...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually: 7

Thomas Denver Jonsson: Possession (Kite Recordings, 2008)
This is actually quite tricky as I like pretty much everything on TDJ's new album, but I've plumped for this as it's sort of lovely in a lot of ways. As we all know, Jonsson is a leading light of the Swedish indie-folk scene. Oh yes. He is a little like a rather more attractive, easier-on-the-ear Bonnie "Prince" Billy, with the added appeal of allowing some whistle-ability in to lighten the load a little. I literally think he's quite good. There, I've said it!

Why The Intersquizz is Great

Where else could you find a brilliant collection of eye-wateringly wonderful French postcards from the 50's, 60's and 70's? Eh? Nowhere, that's where...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hello? Landcroft House...

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Mark Kermode here."
Hello Mark Kermode. It's lucky you called - can you tell us something?
"I'll try..."
What is the best record ever made?
"Well, for me it has to be, Always On My Mind – I think it’s Elvis’ greatest moment. It’s like the third act, it has tragedy and pathos and a sense of a moment having passed, of greatness lost, but it’s all here in sorrow and elegy and it seems to tie in with the whole Priscilla thing too. Some people say that the Willie Nelson version is better, but don’t listen to them – it isn’t. This works for me every time. Like with The Exorcist you can take it apart and appreciate the separate elements, but in the end Always On My Mind is perfect. It works every single time and it never, ever, lets me down."
Thanks Mark!
"No biggie..."

Art Is As Art Does

This is the sort of thing I long to find when I trawl through the assorted gumph in Sue Ryder shops. But I never do. It's all clearly out there though as here are some incredible examples of profoundly moving junk shop art. You can sneer and laugh all you like - in fact, it's to be encouraged, to a certain extent - but you have to admire the fact that someone's gone to the trouble of creating these pieces...
The surfboy is particularly special...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Booze Ban: Day 9

You know what, I'm really loving this booze ban. Arrived home on Friday to find ice-cold bottles of Prosecco getting quaffed willy-nilly and I stayed strong my brothers, I stayed strong. In fact, it was easy, it's nice having certain choices taken away. Like shall I have a beer or a glass of wine or shall we open a bottle of fizzy gear or, you know, all that stuff. Got a bit restless in the restaurant that night after three hours in a chair drinking soda water, but Saturday morning was a joy. As was Sunday morning. As was this morning. There's something in this, you know...

Friday, January 25, 2008

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually: 6

MGMT: Weekend Wars (Columbia, 2008)
I like this record a lot. I don't really know how much more I can say, really. I like the words, I like the "music" (am I getting too technical?), I even like the knee-bendy, widdle-widdle, show-offy element of it all and I usually hate that kind of thing. Anyway, they're good and so is the record. So hurrah for that!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello Even Older Thing: 4

Turnstyle: Trot (Pye, 1968)
Psych-pop breakbeat diggers don't seem to have got as far as this sneery, nose-thumbing piece of proto-punk grooviness yet - at least, not to my knowledge. The picture, you'll notice, features the A-Side, but this, surely, deserves some wider attention (like the 18 people who look here once a month)? Unsure of what it's really trying to be, Trot never really fuses into the sort of thing that the milkman will whistle, but it's a great reminder of what excellent silliness could be obtained by sticking some herberts in a studio, filling them full of Tizer and pressing Record.

Buddy Rich Quartet feat Flip Phillips: Broadway (Verve, 1958)
I'll tell you what, that Buddy Rich bloke was alright at the drums, wasn't he? This features the great Ronnie Ball on piano. That's what I love about jazz records - you can say, "the great Ronnie Ball" and people sort of go, "Yeah, Ballie was the business" when, in reality, no one's ever heard of him before (apart from geh, naturally). Anyway, there's much more of this here. Innit.

Do You Come Here Often?

I spent most of last week working just off the Edgware Road, up near Maida Vale. The area has changed a lot in recent times. Church Street market is the same but it sells more exciting and exotic ingredients but sadly, most of the old pubs seem to have gone. We were done each day by sunset and one of the few places where we could get a drink at that time was the brilliant Don Pepe restaurant round the corner on Frampton Street. Apparently, it's London's oldest Spanish restaurant and I loved it. It wasn't open at 4pm but they let us in anyway and we drank the best white wine I've ever had with a little tapa of pata negra and some salted nuts. Three days in a row we went in and ordered the same bottle of AlbariƱo wine. For half an hour each evening we really were in Spain on our holidays.
On our last day, Friday, I went to the Spanish deli next door to buy a couple of bottles as I don't know when I'll next be back. And who was in there buying the very same bottle but that Rhys Ifans. We obviously have very similar taste in food and wine. "He buys it for Sienna," said the bloke behind the counter once he'd left. "She drinks one bottle every single day, seven days week!" So there we are. Perhaps he'll be in Hoa Viet next week with a bowl of number 108.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I've got a bit of a lasagne obsession going on at the moment. It started in November and is still going strong. I think it's because of all the rainy weather we've been having and what in the world makes you feel cosier than a bowl of starchy, slightly sloppy pasta and a glass of red wine? Like Spag Bol and Shepherds Pie, it's one of those dishes we can all make well without the need for a recipe. I like a mixture of minced beef and minced pork with a few nuggets of pancetta or chorizo. In my book, William Rose's mince is the best around as it's so finely ground it almost dissolves as it cooks rather than settling into tough clumps like the supermarket stuff. I know you don't need a recipe but this one of Delia's is a classic and comes from the 70s.

Booze Ban: Day 2

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, there is a soft grey haze over St Paul's - but my mind is as clear as a mountain stream. This is going to be a walk in the park...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Booze Ban: Day 1

I am now, officially, on a booze ban. Lots of people seem to be doing the January ban this year. I'd always sort of pooh-pooh'd it, thinking it was all a bit silly. Then Silvana suggested I was only saying that because I couldn't do it myself. So, sensibly, I said, 'Oh yes I can!'. Well, that was this morning and I am now going to be Booze Free until February 20 (or 21). Now, everyone knows, so I have no excuse. Not for my friend Bert's birthday on Friday, or my dad's 75th or anything. Right now, the whole idea sounds quite exciting - let's see how long that lasts, eh?

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually: 5

Grace Jones: My Jamaican Guy (12" Mix) (Island, 1982)
It is, of course, hilarious to read how Jones allegedly bashes things up and generally acts the goat, but it's worth remembering that, oh dear me, she really was a great pop star too. Has any artist ever appeared in a more startling fashion on their own record sleeve than Lady Jonesworth? Has anyone been more fantastically paired to the material than Jones vs Sly And Robbie (as found on this excellent compilation)? Has anyone else ever behaved less appropriately at Disneyworld?

Bless her...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Train Drama: 1

There was an interesting psychodrama played out on the train this morning. When I got on there was a couple already standing up, both dressed smartly, clutching coffee (for some reason this made me think they didn't have children). She was a good four inches taller than him. She stood there with her arm on his shoulder. That's right, like she was his mummy or something. During the journey more and more people got on, they got closer and closer, he looked up into her eyes (odd). Then, brilliantly, she bent down and kissed him on the forehead. That's right again, like she was his mummy. When we got to Blackfriars she got out to let the people off the train and he stood where he was, presumably, so used to being tiny that he knew he wouldn't really be in the way.

I took this picture of them on my cameraphone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hang On, These Records Are Nice...

Blossom Dearie: Tout Doucement (Verve, 1957)
Famed for her none-more breakworthy I Like London In The Rain, Dearie has a serious bit of form as a supper-club scented jazzular chantoose from the New York School. This is a wonderful song that shows a refreshingly free and easy take on the French language. We're back to the concept of simpler times, I feel. Available here should your tastebuds be tickled...

Leander: Hide And Sleep (Kennington Recordings, 2008)
Leander are two brothers from Germany who make electronic music and - from what we can see in this picture - enjoy the smoking of what appears to be a "doobie" and the drinking of tea. I like this record as it keeps its powder dry with the odd spot of guitar there and drum machine here, drapes it all in a nice - if understated - tune, then goes all dramatic at 2:29. I fully support this kind of thing. If you want to drop them a line or call them up on the telephone to say hello, then have a look here. Ain't the modern world dandy?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whitstable and Margate

The Kent seaside is a lovely place to visit, especially on a cold but bright winter’s day. Yesterday we made a snap decision to enjoy the sunshine and head for the sea. I think it’s watching that new drama-soap Moving Wallpaper / Echo Beach that’s making us yearn for some sea air but anyway, off we went, making a bee-line for the Royal Native Oyster Stores. As usual it was excellent, we had 1/2 dozen Whitstable natives and potted shrimps, then I had a crab, Scrap the squid with chips and Rob a beautiful seabass. Sadly, the service was slow and it all took too long when, really, we wanted to be outside. With a £100 bill - £3 for 75cl of San Pellegrino - we could have gone to The Wolseley and got real linen and silver.

Anyway, we realised that we were fairly close to Margate where Rob’s brother has just bought a house and 25 minutes later we were there and Scrap got a chance to race his bike along the brilliant sandy beach just before the sun set. Margate is the new Brighton according to Simon and you know, I think he’s right. And I think we’ll be spending a lot of our future summer weekends in his spare room.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why Britain Is Great: 3

I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless this is the next man... Four pints, a gasper, two ashtrays, a plate of unidentified stuff. This picture was taken in February 1979 - do you suppose he's still alive?

Why Britain Is Great: 2

In October 1965 Violet Carson - that's Ena Sharples to you and me - recevied the O.B.E. from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. After the ceremony she headed straight to the Old Bell near the Strand for a refreshing milk stout. I love the guy in the hat on the left. You can put your Tate Gallery in your bottom - look at her face - this is art...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Britain Is Great

I could look at this picture all day long and not get bored. The caption reads: "Two men enjoying a drink in their local pub April 1975". Look at the shine on that bar...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sunshine: Literally A Good Thing

Brent Cash: I Think I'm Falling In Love (Marina, 2008)
The sun is shining over London. This is a good thing. I didn't actually see these two on the way in, but they are entirely appopriately dressed for a spot of Brent Cash. Good old Brent hardly exists on the internet at the moment, but this will change soon thanks to this amazing record which is ambitious and lush and full of wonderful tunes that would sound marvellous spilling out of a Grundig radio in the Spring of 1971. Or on your iPod later today, your choice...

Point of order: on the back cover Brent is pictured wearing a cravat. This too can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 25

Archie "Stomp" Gordon: Ride Superman Ride (Savoy, 1956)
Recorded with The Hi-Lites (and Stomp's own orchestra) in New York in September 1956, Ride Superman Ride remains the sort of tune that makes your legs feel a little more energetic and your backbone more supple just by thinking about it. When Stomp howls "Hey Mr Superman, fly like a jet mobile" over a piano that's getting thumped into firewood as the tape runs, you forget that there's no such thing as a jet mobile and simply allow yourself to get caught up in the knocked-out-in-a-teabreak novelty of the whole thing. And Superman and Batman never did fight over a woman, whatever Stomp says. This one's for Scrap, who is convinced he's Superman, Batman or Spiderman (or Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo) depending on which way the wind's blowing.

Like A Fox: A Little (Pronoia Records, 2008)
Things I like about this record: it's not a singer-songwriter mopefest (and I love a singer-songwriter mopefest), there's no acoustic guitar on it (actually, there is, but it's well hidden), it includes the lyric, "Here's hoping that paper can't rust" - which is great, (if baffling), there's no one from Scandanavia involved and it's all carried by this incredibly perky keyboard line despite being, in essence, rather melancholic. That's right, it's the old PSB's, New Order trick and it gets me every time. What a tremendous record. Album's brilliant too...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Thank You, Mystery Person

It's hard going back to work after such a wonderful holiday, but some things make it a bit better. My new iPod Touch made the journey a joy. I even stole someone's broadband when the bus was stuck on Pentonville Road. The sun's shining brilliantly over London and, then, when I get into work there's a case of Perrier Jouet champagne on my desk. Whoever you are, thank you. I hadn't planned on spending January hoiking down champers, but, since you insist...

The Lunch Bunch

Cameo: Candy ( Casablanca, 1987)

We did really well for lunch this weekend. On Saturday we went to Pad and Mel's and had dim sum, a fantastic noodle soup and quite a lot of cheese. We then walked in the park, puffing quietly. On Sunday we picked up Peter and all went to Jamie and Sarah's and had chorizo, salami, figs, pork braised in milk (thank you, The River Cafe), some amazing chocolate puddings with vanilla custard (that's them over there) and, oh yes, a huge amount more cheese. Then we bowled a few frames (on the Wii) and I proved to be hopeless at Guitar Hero. I had to push the seat back to accomodate my grotesquely swollen frame on the drive home.

In tribute to all the dairy products, the kings of 80s cheese - Cameo. This is the full 12" mix and is, by some distance, the most 80s record of all time. As you will recall...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Basilicata Sweet and Sour Peppers

As a rule, I’m not much keen on stuffed peppers, but the ones Mum makes at Christmas are very special. This is an old recipe from Dad’s village in Italy where the home grown peppers were stored in big pots of local vinegar so they’d last the whole year. Dad’s mum taught my mum how to make them and now she’s shown me. They’re a proper labour of love and take the best part of a day to prepare. And anchovies with honey are a bit of an acquired taste.

Serves 8 as a starter
8 smallish red peppers
300ml malt vinegar
olive oil for shallow frying
250g fresh white breadcrumbs
handful of roughly chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
small cup of small sultanas soaked for 5 minutes in water
splash of olive oil
2 x 50g cans of anchovies in oil, roughly chopped
splash of balsamic vinegar
2 - 3 tbsp clear honey
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cans chopped plum tomatoes
few fresh basil leaves

Take the stalk and core out of the peppers but keep them whole. Salt lightly and and splash some vinegar inside. Place in a large bowl and pour over the rest of the vinegar. Leave for 6 hours - 2 days.

Make the sauce: cook the onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes until softened then add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more. Add the tomatoes and basil and using a handheld blender, whizz until smooth. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix together the stuffing ingredients with some salt and pepper. Drain then peppers and stuff. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the stuffed peppers until the skin blisters then peel it off and discard it.

Sit the peppers upright in the tomato sauce, cover and simmer gently or bake at 180C/Gas 4 for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Records I Can't Stand: 15

Edwyn Collins: A Girl Like You (Setanta, 1995)

We celebrated our wedding anniversary today by spending last night at the bloody fantastic Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell. We booked the full New Year's Eve package and had cocktails in the lounge bar followed by a very good dinner and then down to the residents' party with DJ Cedric from the Lava Lounge. That's when it went a bit askew. Brilliant room with velvet drapes and alcoves but not terribly nice music. REM? No thanks! Lulu? Erm... Brown Eyed Girl? Is this a wedding or something? Eventually we managed to swing our hips to an old Michael Jackson disco track and a spot of Prince but then this came on - my worst of all the world's worst - and we retired to our room and the in-house movie selection.

Anyway, Happy New Year!