The One Word Countdown – #15

I think it’s time to cook a meal….

Bedsitter – Soft Cell (1981, Some Bizarre Records, Taken from ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret’)

Points 148 (Adjusted due to a tie)

The reason that ‘Bedsitter’ that is even included in this rundown is all down to Saddam Hussain. 

Well sort of.

In 1991, Carter USM, released the single ‘Bloodsport for All’, a seething, ranting track about racism in the army.  It looked set to be the breakthrough commercially that Carter needed.  That is until Saddam invaded Kuwait and the first Gulf War occurred because everyone wanted to protect some oil fields (or they were murdering innocent people, I forget which reason is used these days) and the BBC stopped playing records about war and stuff.  On the B side of ‘Bloodsport…’) was a cover version of ‘Bedsitter’ (well it was Bedsitter spliced with a section of ‘Torch’ if I remember rightly), and because of the ban the BBC played ‘Bedsitter’ instead (until they released that right at the end Jimbob can memorably be heard shouting “Fucking Arsehole Bastard”) and then stopped playing it altogether.

Bedsitter – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken form ‘Bloodsport for All’ Single)

Torch – Soft Cell (1981, Some Bizarre Records, Taken from ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret’)

‘Torch’ was by the way the only other Soft Cell song that was considered for this rundown, although to be fair, it was always going to be ‘Bedsitter’.

It was Carter’s version that made me check out the original version and the subsequent album ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret’, which I dutifully borrowed off my friend Chris and gave back to him about a year later.   30 years later it is an album that I still play on a regular basis.  I love ‘Bedsitter’, that tingly synth solo at the start, Marc Almond’s strained vocal, its evocative, and the lyrics that talk of isolation, loneliness, poverty.  All of it is brilliant.

There is of course an extended version of ‘Bedsitter’ which I think first appeared on the twelve inch.  It includes a section about five minutes in which Marc Almond sorts of half raps and half speaks his way through a kind of jazzy interlude.  It’s an interesting departure from the album version.

Bedsitter (extended version) – Soft Cell (1981, Some Bizarre Records, Taken from ‘Non Stop Cabaret Deluxe version’)

‘Bedsitter’ was the second of three memorable singles released by Soft Cell in 1981 and 1982, the first being of course, ‘Tainted Love’ and the third was ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’, which when I finally get round to listing the greatest 12 inches of all should featuring very high indeed.

Say Hello Wave Goodbye (12” Version) – Soft Cell (1982, Some Bizarre Records, Taken from ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret Deluxe Version’)

The One Word Countdown – #20

Welcome to the Top 20…..

Rent – Pet Shop Boys (1987, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Actually’)

Points 136

Its not often I want to be reminded of 1987, what with Thatcherism, AIDS, rampant unemployment and the inexplicable rise to fame of a whole host of awful bands.  However, one of the greatest things about that year was ‘Actually’ by Pet Shop Boys.  An album that I had a physical fist fight with my brother over, as he wanted to listen to it first on his new Walkman and so did I. (he won, I waited, sulking in the lounge, moodily reading Smash Hits, whilst rubbing my arm where the Chinese Burn still stung). 

‘Rent’ was one of the finest singles that the Pet Shop Boys released and considering just how many fine singles they did release, this is really saying something.   But the thing I remember most about ‘Rent’ – apart from this superb verse: –

“You phoned me in the evening on hearsay / And bought me caviar / You took me to a restaurant off Broadway / To tell me who you are “.

Is the video.

The video for ‘Rent’ was directed by Derek Jarman, and it starred professional Liverpudlian Margi Clarke and in a surprising casting decision the 7th Marquis of Bath as a couple who are hosting what looks like an exclusive dinner party.  Margi is being largely ignored by her pompous fella and gets increasing fed up with all the glitz and glamour going on at the dinner party (video has lots of shots of over eating and general gluttony).  Eventually Margi gets up and leaves and jumps in a car – driven by her very dapper looking chauffeur, drolly played by Neil Tennant (like he was going to play it any other way).  

He drives her to Kings Cross where she meets a waiting Chris Lowe, they embrace and that is that.  Only is not, because this is the Pet Shop Boys and they don’t work like that.   The video is shot in reverse so you get the end first and the beginning last, so it starts with Margi embracing Chris Lowe and ends with the dinner party starting. 

Of course we can’t talk about ‘Rent’ without mentioning this version of it, which, some say, betters the original – and memorably changes the verse above to “Fulham Broadway” , includes a sample from episode twenty one of Thundercats (just in case you didn’t know that) and rants about the Poll Tax at the end.  This also allows me to drop in that around October I’m going to be doing a series of cover versions that are better than the originals. 

Rent – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (1990, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘Rubbish’ 12”)

Here is another Pet Shop Boys cover that might not make it on to that list

West End Girls – We Have Band (2009, Naïve Records) (takes you to a You Tube Video)

100 Songs with One Word Titles (65 – 61)

Did you guess which song from yesterday placed the highest.   It was ‘Tender’ by Blur but only just as ‘Lately’ by Sea Power reach number 9 on two separate lists (and was, despite a few lower placings, largely ignored by everyone else!).  Todays poser is which of the five tracks listed appeared in the most individual lists?  We start today with some hip hop straight outta erm, Long Beach.

65. Regulate – Warren G feat Nate Dogg (1994, Def Jam Recordings, Taken from ‘Regulate…G Funk Era’)

‘Regulate’ starts with Warren G driving alone through the eastside of Long Beach (I’ve no idea if this is rough or not) he is in his words “looking for women”.  But then he sees some dudes playing dice and tries to join in, but these dudes are bad dudes because they pull guns on him and rob him, and poor old Warren thinks he’s going to die.  Luckily for him, Nate’s in town, he’s looking for Warren.  Nate is so damn fine that a car full of women crashes just by being near him.  Nate finds Warren, shoots at the robbers.  Warren and Nate then drive back, pick up the women and go back to the Eastside Motel for a cheese and wine party.  All that in four minutes and eleven seconds.  Marvellous.

64. Hello – The Beloved (1990, East West Records, Taken from ‘Happiness’)

Put aside the fact that ‘Hello’ is a totally brilliant slab of early nineties indie house pop for one moment.  It has to be said that any song that features Liverpudlian working class soap hero Billy Corkhill in the same breath as combative Crystal Palace midfielder, Vince Hilaire and also namechecks creepy chocolate maker Willy Wonka, game show king Leslie Crowther and comedian turned god botherer Tommy Cannon deserves a place in any chart, let alone this one.

63. Sennen – Ride (1992, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Today Forever EP’)

I once got caught in a downpour that can only be described as biblical.  The sky went very black, thunder clapped all over the place, and for about two minutes hailstones the size of well massive hailstones fell from the sky and turned the road into a slippery field of small ice rocks.  I was at the time about 100 metres from my office and after hail stones I decided to peg it.  I was listening to music at the time and ‘Sennen’ came on and suddenly the rain and how wet I was getting didn’t matter, its that good a song.

62. Wildfires – Sault (2020, Forever Living Originals Records, Taken from ‘Untitled’)

 “Thief in the night, tell the truth. White lives, spreading lies. You should be ashamed. The bloodshed on your hands. Another man. Take off your badge. We all know it was murder Murder, murder, murder.”

Pretty much says it all.  Stark, haunting, political and brilliant.

61. Rubbish – Carter USM (1990, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘Rubbish’ 12 inch)

In January 1992 I saw Carter play a secret gig at the Venue in New Cross, it was on the back of the re-release of ‘Rubbish’.  At the time it was in the Top 20 and it was utter carnage.  It remains one of the best gigs I have ever been too, but of course, this being here begs the question

What do you think of countdown so far…? 

Never Ending Playlist – #33

Here’s Where The Story Ends – The Sundays (1990, Rough Trade Records)

Back in 1991, I owned ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic’ the enigmatic debut album by the Sunday.  I had it on tape. Well it was a copy and it was left in my bedroom by one of my brothers mates.  I assume it was one his mates, it certainly wouldn’t have been my brothers because in 1991 he was going through his Goth phase, and he was interested in then was trying to look like the singer from the Fields of Nephilim and listened to really awful Alien Sex Fiend albums.  So what I should be saying is that back in 1991, I stole a battered badly taped version of the debut album by The Sundays from a mate of my brothers.

Hearing ‘Here’s Where The Story Ends’ again, got me thinking about that cassette and that got me thinking about other cassettes that I ‘might’ have inadvertently stumbled across in the midst of time and two occasions sprang to mind.  I do want to point out that I’m not and never have been a serial stealer of cassettes, but……

In 1990, whilst out mucking around with my mate Chris we came across a car that had clearly been stolen and dumped along a track in the woods that behind his house.  Being the two sensible 15 year old lads, we obviously ran to the nearest phone box and told the police that it was there, after we’d rifled through the car and nicked anything worth nicking from the stolen Renault 19.  For me this was a copy of ‘Ex:El’ by 808 State on tape.  

I’m sorry if that was your car.   I guess all I can do is play you a tune.

In Yer Face – 808 State (1991, ZTT Records)

In 1994, after a House Party in Maidstone, I borrowed a 12” of ‘Heaven Sent An Angel’ from a mate called Justin.   I got it home and found a cassette of the ‘The Great Rock n Roll Swindle’ by the Sex Pistols tucked inside the cover.  I didn’t put it there, but I also didn’t give it back when I handed back the Revolver 12”. 

I’m sorry Justin, I guess all I can do is play you a tune.

My Way – Sid Vicious (1979, Virgin Records)

Perhaps it’s karma but I once left my cassette copy of 101 Damnations on a train at Strood in Kent as I dashed to grab a connection.  I never saw that cassette again. 

24 Minutes to Tulse Hill – Carter USM (1990, Big Cat Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums #2

30 Something – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine

The second record in what I think might be quite a lengthy series is ’30 Something’ –  the remarkable second album by South London’s Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. This is a 9 and a half out of ten kind of album, it loses the half point because I think is a tad too short. Saying that next week I will probably knock a point off because it was ‘too long’. So what I do know…

Falling on A Bruise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Record, Taken from ’30 Something’)  

About forty minutes into my first ever Carter gig the room went totally silent.  The only light you could see was on the stage and it was highlighting Jim Bob’s face, (he’s the singer in case you didn’t know) and he was singing or rather speaking the bit at the end of ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Some you win and some you lose/I’ve spent my whole lifetime falling on a bruise/And if I had the chance to do it all again/I’d change everything

Before that moment, and if you ever went to those ’30 Something’ era Carter gigs, you’ll know what I mean, it had been carnage, absolute carnage, with about 1000 people all stagediving, moshing, pushing, shoving, and jumping up and down in seemingly the same two metre square bit of dancefloor.  There was one guy, I’d say he was a punk because he had a shaved head, Doc Martins and was wearing a New Model Army Tshirt and pencil thin black jeans, who had been going mental on that dancefloor.  During ‘Bloodsport for All’ I saw him pick a younger lad up and actually throw him into the dancing throng, whether the younger lad wanted that, I know not.

Bloodsport For All – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

Anyway, as Jim Bob delivered that poignant line about the mundanity of loneliness and depression I glanced over at New Model Army guy, and he had tears in his eyes.  He was physically welling up. I’d like to think that it was due to sheer beauty of the world beaten poetry that had just been delivered on stage and not because he’d hurt his hand or something.   Two minutes later they’d ripped into ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ and New Model Army Guy was throwing himself around again so I think my guess was right.

Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

That I think is the beauty of ’30 Something’, its not just the songs that went with it.  It is the way the lyrics ‘spoke’ to a generation of people who felt left down by their luck or who had been touched by the sadness of life but always had that flicker of optimism in the face of adversity.  It is a record that one minute you can throw yourself around a room too, whether it be to the glam rock disco sledgehammer that is ‘Surfin’ USM’ or the tremendous pop sentiments of ‘Shoppers Paradise’ and the next minute can you be at one with your thoughts to tracks like ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Shoppers Paradise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

It’s a remarkable record, bold, brilliant and best of all nearly perfect.