If we can sparkle he may land tonight...

The moondust has settled, the obituaries have been written, the top twenty songs not containing the word ‘gnome’ have been compiled. We have played ‘Blackstar’ and analysed every word. And then put on ‘Low’. Or ‘Let’s Dance’, depending on our hairstyle. We can’t go to Tesco’s adorned in a Ziggy flash anymore and our Facebook avatar of the Thin White Duke, is to be honest, wearing a bit thin. So what now? What happens next?

As last nights Brits showed us, we are still a country in mourning for the man who fell to earth. We are looking for the next thing, but we can’t see when, or where, it’s gonna land. What is going to fill that void? In the past when we became tired of Ziggy/Hallowe’en Jack/The Thin White Duke, something else always turned up to fire our imagination.

David Bowie.

Adele in a frock with a couple of stars on it, ain’t gonna light the fires of this generation.

What is going to make us freak out in our moonage daydreaming? Who can make us sparkle...

 

 

To see you’re laughing, and you’re laughing at me...

No song warrants a drum solo. Especially when that tune is Status Quo’s ‘In the Army Now’. The only battles Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt have ever fought are their well documented list of addictions. Their fondness for ‘Columbian Marching Powder’ is legendary. As are their riffs. Five minutes on from the dubious drum solo, Rossi straps on the most famous battered green guitar in British rock history and unleashes one of those riffs. The cavernous hall that is the Brighton Centre is filled with the sound of ‘Down Down’, The Quo’s, (as they will now be referred to), only number one single from 1974. People say if the ravens ever left the Tower, the crown would fall, and Britain with it. If they pissed off with ‘Down Down’ in their beaks, then we are really in the shit.

December 11th 1982 and I witness the final curtain call of The Jam. 33 years later, to the day, and in the same venue, I witness my first live experience of Woking’s second favourite sons. Nearly fifty years on from their psychedelic beginnings, The Quo, live, are no laughing matter.

Respect.

On a night like this, I deserve to get kissed, at least, once or twice...

“I hate U2, that Bono’s a twat.”

Why’s that then? Did he deliver your Ocado shop outside the allocated time? Put sugar in your Flat White by mistake? No? Didn’t think so. Granted, he does seem to err on the side of irritating occasionally, but don’t we all. He's not being personal, he's just a "pop star". All be it, one that has ordered a pizza live on stage and phoned President Clinton whilst wearing devil horns and a gold suit. Doesn’t make him Satan though. And personally I thought they were great at Live Aid. Organised by that other "twat", Bob Geldof. Sir Bob. Saint Bob.

I have a soft spot for Bob, as I do Bono. I was lucky (or not, depending on your stance) of seeing U2, pre flag waving, statement making days in a smallish venue in 1983. They got the audience to sing Happy Birthday to Adam Clayton. He's the bass playing "twat" in the band. The one who has his cock out on the back cover of ‘Achtung Baby’. The one who had Naomi Campbell as a girlfriend. Yeah him. That twat.

Back to Bob. Back to Christmas 1979. Along with my Boots own brand record player I was given the latest Boomtown Rats LP, ‘The Fine Art of Surfacing’.

The year before the Rats had hit number 1 with ‘Rat Trap’, knocking ‘Summer Nights’ of the top spot after nine long weeks. The great TOTP performance starting with the ripping up of the John Travolta centrefold. To me this was punk. Yeah, I liked Bob.

The piano player wore pyjamas and was called Johnnie Fingers. I was a couple of years too young for ‘proper’ punk. The Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten punk. I was more suited to Sid Snot and Johnnie Fingers.

History hasn’t been too kind to Bob and his musical output. Massive for a fleeting moment, like Slade. Two number 1 singles when you had to sell shit loads to hit the top spot. Never mentioned in those "Top 100 musical blah blah blah" lists that appear everywhere. A band that time forgot.

No doubting Bob’s massive stamp on eighties culture and politics with Band Aid and Live Aid. There will always be the cynics who say he only did it to save his flagging career. ‘Banana Republic’ had been their last top 10 in 1980. A hugely under rated tune addresing the troubles of their homeland back in Ireland.

I still love all those early Rats records, I know every word to every song on ‘...Surfacing’. It doesn't get played that often anymore, but when I dig out my original copy and the needle trundles through the dead wax and Bob proclaims, “On a night like this, I deserve to get kissed, at least, once or twice...”; I fall in love with it again.

Heroes going cheap these days... arise Sir Bob.

I’m up on the hill playing little boy soldiers...

November 16th 1979. My eleventh birthday. Subbuteo was the big thing. It had replaced Action Man and those Airfix soldiers, the ones that came in boxes of 30; British Commandos, Japanese Infantry or German Paras.

And music.

My earliest memory is watching Top of the Pops (TOTP) with my dad in 1973. We had just got our first colour television, rented obviously, and the Sweet were performing ‘Blockbuster’.

People who saw Bowie perform ‘Starman’ the year before always say that it was them who the Dame was pointing at when "he had to pick on someone". I feel the same way with Steve Priest. Pointing at the screen was big on TOTP in the 70s.

My dad was never a big ‘pop music’ fan, he preferred Frank Sinatra and the queen of his homeland, Shirley Bassey. Not baco-foil brickies inventing the riff to the ‘Jean Genie’, but whenever I hear ‘Blockbuster’ I think of my dad reading the Evening Argus and wondering what the hell is going on.

November 17th 1979. ‘Setting Sons’ by The Jam is released. By now, they are a firm fixture on TOTP. Spearheading the mod revival, taking their energy from punk and their clobber from the Small Faces. (Not that I had any idea who the Small Faces were in 1979). ‘Eton Rifles’ was a playground anthem, a legion of 11 year olds in army surplus parkas with Smash Hits badges and Woolworth trainers chanting "Hello, hoo-ray, cheers then mate, I'm eating trifles... eating trifles". We all bought the 7" with our £1 pocket money and watched Paul on a Thursday night at 7.30pm.

Keith Cadby had ‘Setting Sons’. He lived two doors up. He was in his late teens, my mum used to cut his hair, and his brothers. He had a job in Waitrose, and lots and lots of records and he lent me ‘Setting Sons’. I've still got Keith Cadby’s copy of ‘Setting Sons’, so if you’re reading this Keith, I'm sorry I never returned it, but if it makes you feel better, It changed my life...

From the moment the phone rings at the start of ‘Girl on the Phone’ I know this is different from my other LPs. This isn’t ‘A Night at the Opera’ or the Grease Soundtrack, this has short sharp songs that whizz by before you realise they have finished. They have swearing. Swearing! In 1979, swearing was still nowhere to be heard on the TV or Radio. This was only 3 years on from the infamous Bill Grundy incident with the Sex Pistols, when people kicked the set in disgust. This was a new world, my world, inside my headphones on my Boots own brand record player. All ten tracks clocked in at just over half an hour. Half an hour I instantly repeated, again and again.

It is my ultimate Desert Island Disc. It has nearly a lifetime of emotions tied up in it. I still like to drive my son to football on a Saturday morning playing ‘Saturday’s Kids’, we've all had a ‘Private Hell’ and we all know a ‘Smithers-Jones’. Me and Setting Sons, we are as thick as thieves.