heard on the wire

And then there were 12


I’ve now been asked twice to do this. I know it’s one of those Facebook memes, but this blog got up and running with one of those, so who am I to resist?

Anyone, the challenge, if that’s what it is, is:

List 12 albums that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed. No compilations.

So without taking too long and thinking too hard, this is my list, a little predictable perhaps, but I feel that’s perhaps the point. I’m listing them as I heard them — as far as I recall — but feel free to wrest them into any order you wish.

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Hard-boiled eggs on a beach with a Blue Flag status


Well, that was all a long time ago. I left this blog in a state of suspended animation as I abandoned a lifetime of aimless career-drifting to become a teacher.

I recall a tweet from last summer that contemptuously — and quite rightly — dismissed those celebrities describing their well-remunerated appearances on Strictly… or its ilk as a journey. The Tour de France, that’s a journey, the tweet said.

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You don’t have to be Prince if you want to dance

Peel Warhol

I talked in my last post about BBC Radio 2’s poll to find the most popular number two records ever. Although their selection was restricted to the popular chart and thus based on the crudest of metrics, it wasn’t without merit. The rundown of 40 tracks chosen from a shortlist of 100 would make a listenable compilation, albeit with finger poised over the skip button.

But what of the best number two records of all time, the ones chosen by the discerning listener? I am, of course, referring to the legendary (ie. relatively obscure) festive fifty, the chart that John Peel compiled every year from 1982 to 2003, the chart based on listeners’ selections of the best three records of the year.

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The alcohol loves you while turning you blue


Ten months ago I wrote, “And then there was one. Which, as you all know, is the most important number in the history of rock ’n’ pop music.” And now there is two, which as anyone who’s ever been to a sound check will know is the second most important.

For the commercially minded, number two may conjure up memories of those records that famously and narrowly failed to reach the top of the charts. Most famously of course was Vienna, the Ultravox single recently voted as the best number two of all-time.

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Blame it on the trains


I’ve recently spent a lot of time on the train, gently speeding between London and Newcastle, a journey that leaves much time for reflection upon the state of the nation’s railways.

I’ve taken to travelling the longer route, via Metro to Sunderland and then on Grand Central trains along the beautiful Durham coast to Hartlepool, thence inland to York and the south. It adds to the journey time but puts a lot less strain on already strained pockets. I am lucky; I can travel during the week on the one return service that gets me to the capital and back for little over £50, I’ve got a table seat with a power socket and there’s bottled pale ale for sale in the buffet car.

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C is for…

Cinerama, whose three LPs and collection of singles form, to my mind, the most consistently brilliant collection of recordings since Joy Division, each track worthy of a blog post of its own.

In the space of seven years, the band released three LPs and a dozen or so singles that managed a credible lack of chart success or mainstream critical acclaim, both of which are the kind of wholly admirable endorsements that more bands should seek.

And we’re lucky to have them, since the band happened almost by accident. It was originally a mere side project of David Gedge, singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Wedding Present, and his girlfriend Sally Murrell.

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This really ragged notion that you’ll return

M1 sunset

It sounds so cinematic: from Saturday I’m going on my first road trip, taking in seven destinations in seven days. Of course, were it a road trip on arrow-straight roads stretching to the horizon, amid tumbleweed and motels, tuned to WKPR, that’s exactly what it would be. But it’s not, it’s motorway service stations and the occasional glimpse of corrugated steel, roads dug into cuttings, dormitory towns; it’s a road trip around England. It’s a beautiful country, but its beauty can rarely be seen from the motorway network.

However one thing is certain, whether it’s WKPR, the dismal miasma of daytime BBC, or a magnificentally stocked iPod, road trips require music. And what better music than that which punctuates each destination, starting with London.

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Try shaking a box in front of the Queen


Japanese punk pop doesn’t come any better than the pandemonium unleashed by Toquiwa, a female foursome that had already released a series of albums in Japan when indie “legend” David Gedge saw them in Tokyo.

And so the man behind and indeed in front of the Wedding Present and Cinerama did, giving them a support slot on the Wedding Present’s last tour and signing them to his Scopitones label, whereupon they released their self-titled UK debut.

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If this ain’t love, why does it feel so good?

This was to have been the first post in a new series, the cover art, but I was overtaken by events and popular acclaim (here I maybe exaggerating). So, by way of compensation, here are five covers by one of the masters of re-interpretation, David Gedge.

In both his Wedding Present and Cinerama guises, Gedge has been a prolific remaker of others’ tunes, starting back in 1986 with a cover of Orange Juice’s Felicity. And when, in 1992, the Wedding Present released a single in each month of the year, all 12 b-sides were covers of some accomplishment, now collected with their Gedge-penned a-sides on the Hit Parade LP (available from all good record stores, etc.).

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You can’t start a sentence like that and not end it

Sometimes I wish that a song-from-each-year-of-my-life had been five songs, such is the choice in some years — including 1998.

In what will become a recurring theme over the course of the next few posts in this series, Cinerama dominate the list of 98’s top tracks, not least because David Gedge’s post-Wedding Present incarnation released both a debut LP, Va Va Voom, as well as a compilation of early singles and b-sides, helpfully titled This is Cinerama.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


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