Nearly Perfect Albums – #57

Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)

I know at least one person who will disagree with me (Hi Dad) , but ‘Sticky Fingers’ is for me the definitive Stones album.  It came at a time when in many people’s eyes the Stones could do no wrong.  It was the third (and best) album in a run of four albums (‘Beggars Banquet’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Exile on Main Street’ being the others) that saw the band crowned, and then continue to be for a while at least – the greatest rock and roll band in the world.  It was the album where Mick Jagger never sang better, Keith Richards riffs never sounded bigger or better and for the record the Warhol designed sleeve is probably one of the best album covers in musical history (original copies actually had a zip on the cover that you could open and shut – although it apparently damaged the vinyl – so they changed it to a photograph) I think it’s also the first Stones record to include the big lips logo that has become so famous since.

Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)

‘Sticky Fingers’ just has so much, from the riff in album opener ‘Brown Sugar’ through the country tinged ‘Wild Horses’ to the distinctly latin style grooves of ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ all of it is superb (with exception, perhaps, of the bar room boogie and in hindsight, badly named ‘Bitch’).

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stone Records)

‘Sticky Fingers’ is essentially Mick Jagger’s album, I mean after all his singing on it is insanely good.  In most of the songs Jagger adopts a kind of faux American twang which alternates from Deep South Blues to honky tonk soul singer depending on the song (See ‘I Got the Blues’ for evidence on this, where Jagger appears to do a passable impression of Otis Redding).  Jagger is great on ‘Sticky Fingers’ (even better than he is in the 80s futuristic thriller ‘Freejack’ and he is incredible in that) but I wanted to draw attention to the influence of Mick Taylor on the whole thing.

I Got the Blues – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stone Records)

‘Sticky Fingers’ was only the second Stones record that Taylor had played on (the first being a live album I think) and it is his influence here, his fluidity if you like that allows the band to really stretch out and enjoy themselves.  It was Taylor as well who encouraged the band to add a more depth to certain songs, such as the country elements on ‘Wild Horses’ and the Latin flavour to ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ was solely Taylors idea (apparently).

The best two tracks on this marvellous album are quite near the end, ‘Sister Morphine’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’ are in some ways quite a departure from the rest of the album but they shine with a kind of tired beauty.  They are exactly the sort of songs that Bobby Gillespie and Tim Burgess spent most of the Britpop years trying (and largely failing) to copy. 

‘Moonlight Mile’ remains one of my favourite Stones songs.  Proper music critics say that it’s the sound of a band who have had too much coke and are exhausted because of it – but to me it evokes images of the sun setting over the Mississippi for some reason.  It is a remarkable end to a remarkable record.

Moonlight Mile – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)

League Two Music – #21 Sutton United

Grown Up Wrong – The Rolling Stones (1964, Decca Records, Taken from 12 X 5)

If you ask most football fans to name Sutton United’s greatest match, they will probably look to the one that took place on 7th January 1989.  On that day Sutton took on Coventry City, in the third round of the F.A Cup.  City, were at the time, a top tier side full of internationals and had around 18 months earlier lifted the F.A Cup after thrashing Spurs in the 1987 final 3 goals to 2.

The match was played at Sutton’s ground, the tiny Gander Green Lane and they reckon 8000 people crammed into the ground to witness it (although if you ever met a Sutton United fan, I will guarantee that they will tell you that they were there) as Sutton refused to switch the game to City’s bigger Highfield Road ground. 

Around seventy minutes into the game, it was finely poised at one each, Coventry City were dominating and pushing for a winning goal.  Sutton broke on the counterattack and a lad called Phil Dawson sprinted away crossed the ball for Matthew Hanlon, to volley home, cue bedlam and Hanlon literally never having to purchase another drink in Sutton ever again but struggling to find a balti restaurant that will serve him whenever he was in Coventry.  Sutton lost eight nil in the next round to Norwich City.

However, if you ask Sutton fans what was the greatest game in the clubs history they will point to the one on May 23rd 2021, when the beat Hartlepool 3 nil.  A game which saw them win the National League and a place in the football league for the first time.  This makes Sutton United the newest recruits to the football league.

They reached Wembley in their first season after reaching the final of the EFL Trophy (now sponsored by Papa Johns Pizza) – which they lost to Rotherham.  They finished eighth in the league that season, missing out on the playoffs by a single point.  This season they sit ninth, five points off the playoffs and remain a decent outside bet to reach them (hopefully at the expense of Salford).

Musically, we start with the Rolling Stones, who aren’t from Sutton or anywhere near it in fact but the record books show that Charlie Watts joined the band whilst they were sat in a pub in Sutton, and everyone knows that the Stones were at their best when Watts banged the drums.

Elsewhere, qualifying under the obligatory BMRC clause is Joan Armatrading who apparently lived in Sutton in the seventies

Love and Affection – Joan Armatrading (1976, A&M Records, Taken from ‘Joan Armatrading’)

Next up, some bloke called Johnny who once wore white jeans on top of the pops and by the time he’d finished singing the fire brigade had been called to a thousand streets to extinguish the newly burning towers of Razorlight albums that had been hastily constructed and torched.

Golden Touch – Razorlight (2004, Mercury Records, Taken from ‘Up All Night’)

We then come to the greatest musical artist to have ever come from the bad streets of Sutton, Bradley McIntosh who as many of you will be aware was one of the street gang turned drill act, S Club 7

Don’t Stop Movin’ – S Club 7 (2001, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘Sunshine’)

According to the club website, Sutton is in South London, which makes this weeks previously unheard of band slightly easier to find, as there are literally hundreds to choose from.  So, here are Legss, a band that Steve Lamacq described as ‘rather oblique’.

The Landlord – Legss (2023, Self Released Single)

A Month all about Names – #10 – Angela

Angela Cray – Frank and Walters (1991, Go! Discs, Taken from ‘The Frank and Walters’)

This is a slight extended version of a previous mentioned tale but it’s a good story so bear with me.  In the summer of 2010 I was sent to Bermuda for three months for work purposes.  It was a tough gig.   On my second or possibly third week there, I decided to pay Warwick Bay a visit.  Warwick Bay is one of the most popular beaches on the island (its not the nicest but it has a big beach shop/bar, decent toilets and it’s probably the biggest beach on the island).  It is situated at the bottom of a big hill.  A minibus sits at the bottom of the hill waiting for overweight Americans to emerge puffing from the beach steps and then charges them $2 each to take them to the top of the hill.  The minibus was in 2010, brand new, so the guy running the taxi service (which is about 200 metres in length) is doing alright, considering that all new cars are imported from the states at a vastly inflated price.

Anyway, 95% of the people who go to Warwick Bay congregate within a five minute walk of the shop/bar building and as such it gets very busy in that area.  If you walk for about ten minutes away from the shop it gets less crowded and by the time you reach the curve, the only people you tend to see are the canoodling couples using the shallow dunes as cover for their smooching and the occasional lobster fisherman. 

The first time I went to Warwick Bay I did exactly this, my plan was to walk round the coastline as I knew it eventually wound round to a small bay called Mermaid Beach (so called because it has big rocks that apparently mermaids like to sit on and play harps as passing ships float by unaware).  The biggest attraction at Mermaid Beach, by the way, is a rock that looks exactly like the face of a gorilla. There is very little else there. Its about three miles I would say from Warwick Bay to Mermaid Beach.  I would then catch the bus back along the south shore to Mickeys Bar so that I could watch the cricket.

I didn’t see a soul for about forty minutes.  I strolled lazily along the sand, stopping every now and again to take in the ocean or to photograph the mightily pissed off looking jellyfish that had got themselves stranded on the deserted beaches as I clambered over the rocks which lead down to Mermaid Beach it was there about five minutes from Gorilla Rock (as I call it) when I saw the English couple. I knew they were English because she was a carrying a Waitrose Bag (saying that there is a supermarket on the island right on the harbourside in Hamilton, that sells Waitrose branded food) and he was wearing a Frank and Walters Tshirt.  Not only were they the first people I had seen in about an hour, it was the first Frank and Walters Tshirt I’d seen in about eight years – since in fact I threw out my old one as it was too small for me (due to numerous washes I suspect). 

I said hi, its kind of what you do in Bermuda, that and fist bump – you don’t shake hands in Bermuda, you fist bump.  Anyway, we chat – they are on holiday and are from Oundle, a small town just outside Peterborough, and they want to go to Warwick Bay but think they have just got off the bus a bit early.   Which they have.  I tell them to keep heading left until they reach the beach and then just walk along it but to watch out for the jellyfish. I also ask the chap (Greg) in the Franks Tshirt if the busman was happy.  Which makes him smile and we chat the three of us, in the blazing Bermuda sun (which burns my feet) on a virtually deserted beach surrounded by pelicans and gorilla shaped rocks (and no mermaids whatsoever) about early nineties indie music. 

There a bunch of ‘Angela’ tracks in the music library and a few ‘Angie’s’ as well – here are the best two of each, you lucky folk.

Angela – Summer Camp (2015, Moshi Moshi Records, Taken from ‘Bad Love’)

Angela Surf City – The Walkmen (2010, Fat Possum Records, Taken from ‘Lisbon’)

Angie – Rolling Stones (1973, Rolling Stone Records, Taken from ‘Goats Head Soup’)

Angie – Shame (2018, Dead Ocean Records, Taken from ‘Songs of Praise’)

Tomorrow – Elvis, who don’t mean shit to me, well ever since he threatened me with a baseball bat in Margate.

….ing bands #10 – The Rolling Stones

Stray Cat Blues – The Rolling Stones (1968, Decca Records, Taken from ‘Beggars Banquet’)

My daughter is mad about animals, always has been. At first it was owls.  When she was aged four I took her to a falconry centre attached to a garden centre and she screamed in delight when their resident owl, Ollie, swooped down and took some meat from the hand of its owner about five foot away.  She came away clutching a cuddly owl to add her growing collection of owls and for days she would pretend that her cuddly owl was Ollie.  When I went to New Orleans a few months later I bought her a small wooden owl that the market stall owner insisted had been made from wood reclaimed after Hurricane Katrina.  I gladly paid him $15 for it and realised when I got outside that the owl almost certainly hadn’t been made with wood reclaimed after Hurricane Katrina.

Then it was wolves (after we found a book in a charity shop all about them), followed by squirrels, which would need to be fed in the park on a regular basis.  She went off them briefly when one threw a hazelnut shell at us when we walked under a tree in a park.  After squirrels it was cats and horses.  She remains mad on cats and horses.

In lockdown we adopted a cat, it was old, overweight, had three legs, and half a tail.  It was one of grumpiest cats I have ever known, but my daughter adored him.  He was never, sadly going to be a long term pet.  We were very much a retirement home for him and his illnesses.  My daughter would sit for hours trying to coax him on to her lap or sneaking him treats.  About ten months ago, the cat developed a serious problem and never recovered from it.  My daughter before she went to bed, went and sat by the back door and waited patiently for him to come home.  The tears came soon after when she realised, he wasn’t going to.  The cats old basket now sits at the foot of her bed with his favourite toy in it.

About a year ago my daughter took up horse riding.  She follows in the footsteps of both her mother and her grandmother, both of whom rode and competed to a fairly high standard.  For the last six months or so, we have borrowed a small pony and every couple of days she plods around the tracks and fields of the village happy as can be.  She has thrown herself into all aspects of keeping a pony.  She will happily stand in the stable and pick up its poo, she will groom it, wipe its nose and sneak extra food into the pony’s feed bucket.

A few weeks ago, whilst up in the stable getting ready for the third ride of the week, my daughter found a cat.  One that she assumed was a stray.  It is a ginger tom, but it looks like it has been through a bad time, he had a bad coat, which was all matted and dirty, a large scratch under one of its eyes, it was also as thin as a rake.  It devoured the small sachet of food we’d found in a matter of seconds and sat there licking its lips expecting more, he then dived in a bundle of hay and came out with a mouse dangling out of its mouth and proceeded to eat it, not one scrap of it was left behind.  The mouse to be fair, wouldn’t have felt a thing.

Then the cat curled up on the muck heap and fell asleep.  My daughter is already besotted with him. 

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones (1968, Decca Records, Taken from ‘Beggars Banquet’)

Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones (1968, Decca Records, Taken from ‘Beggars Banquet’)

Introducing……The Great One Word Title Countdown #1

I said right back at the start that I wasn’t going to do a countdowns on this blog and I really wasn’t going to.  However, one Sunday whilst idly wandering around the lanes of a small suburb of Torquay, three songs came on in a row.  All those songs had one word titles and, and as I stood and watched a seagull devour a bag of chips that some fool had dropped, an idea slowly crept into place.  An idea that I was going to need some help with.

These were the three songs that came on.  So, as usual we can blame mid nineties indie pop for all my stupid ideas.

Cubik – 808 State (1990, ZTT Records)

Yes – McAlmont & Butler (1996, Hut Records)

Far – Longpigs (1995, London Records)

Later that night I created a playlist.  There was one simple rule – only one song per band was allowed and that song had to have a one word title, no brackets or hyphen or anything else was allowed.  So, this would have been allowed

Magic – Cud (1990, Imaginary Records)

But this wouldn’t have been

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones (1965, RCA Records) – besides, songs with brackets is clearly the next subject for the musical jury to their teeth into.

Remixes of one word titles have also been included, for instance

Buzzin’ (Dylan Rhymes Mix) – Asian Dub Foundation (1997, FFRR Records)

A few days later I formed (with the help of JC) a musical jury, which was, like all good juries, populated by quite a few angry men (I must try and be more inclusive for the next one) and sent them their orders.   By angry, most of them were angry because of what I’d left off the longlist, rather than them being generally angry people.  Saying that I’ve only met two of the jury, the others could have been psychopaths for all I knew.

There were sent a list of 129 songs, all of which have one word titles and they were asked to rank them in from 1 to 30.   I then awarded points for their choices, 30 points for the number one ranked song, 29 for 2nd place and so on and waited for the results to come in.

It’s Monday, Let’s Swear – #17

The Man Don’t Give a Fuck – Super Furry Animals (1996, Creation Records)

As per yesterday, this is going to be the last sweary Monday track for a little while.  It has been a series which at times has been puerile (The Teenagers), downright disgusting (Azaliea Banks), thought provoking (Eels) and disturbing (Primal Scream) but has always started the week off with some decent swearing.

There is a reason for putting this series on hold.  All will be explained from next Monday, which if my maths is correct will be June 27th.  Anyway before that let’s have one final good old swear.  ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ was the inspiration to this series – well that and the entire back catalogue of Anal C____.  It is probably the finest sweary song in existence.

Around ten years ago, possibly longer, I was waiting for a bus in Exeter City Centre.  Across the road from the bus stop was a pedestrian area where a guy with a guitar, a small amp and a mike had been playing a few songs.  He wasn’t bad but he also wasn’t very good.  My bus appeared to be no in rush so I sat and watched the chap, about two minutes later a couple of security guards start talking to him, they are the security guards from the nearby posh jewellery shop and they seem to have taken offence at chappie’s second rate Beatles covers.  There is some finger pointing and chappie then just shrugs his shoulders and launches into ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  The guards walk off.  As soon as they have gone, chappie segues, not quite seamlessly into a verse of ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’.  It is subvertly brilliant in a not very brilliant sort of way, and as my bus rolls in, almost perfectly timed, I nip over and shove a couple of quid in his hat. 

The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (Live) – Super Furry Animals (1996, Creation Records)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash –  The Rolling Stones (1968, Decca Records)