Thursday, November 03, 2005


It's autumn so it therefore follows that the television schedules are ripe to bursting with Autumn Television Gold For All The Family. Or bits of The Family, at least.

Great or good comedy - The Thick Of It (well, for three weeks only), Spoons and another series of Kath & Kim.

As it's autumn, it also follows that there is a weekly documentary series analysing pop music in a slightly pompous way. Step forward 2005's effort, Girls And Boys - Sex And British Pop.

There is a thoughtful weekly review here. Ben admits that he's watching while concurrently reading Jon Savage's excellent but lengthy tome England's Dreaming. Good luck, and keep taking the Pro-Plus, Ben. The programme is also reviewed, complete with unhappy memories, here. Yeah, I know, another shameless plug for the husband's blog. I'm a smarmy, two faced and opportunistic old witch.

This week we reached the 1970's. It's a reasonably enjoyable watch, despite the usual ragbag of pop cliches running riot, and the predictable selection of talking heads making an appearance. Yes, dear old Robert Elms was on hand to tell us what The Working Classes were doing during his youth. I am reluctant to slag off Elmsey as he is one of the funniest people to appear on the box. I can remember him being interviewed by Terry Wogan years ago, bragging that, having just bought a house, it was completely empty apart from one chair - the only thing to have met the rigorous Elms standard of good taste. I should imagine his autobiography is a real hoot, and intend to buy it if it's ever in the HMV sale for a couple of quid.

The bottom line with Elms, and with his old mucker Gary Kemp, was that working clarrss lads like themselves were soul boys, NOT punks (...well, only for about a month. June, 1976. Just before anyone else had heard of it. But they are reluctant to admit that here ...).

From what I can remember, punk was indeed a grammar school boys' fad at the time. Look, I was in the grammar stream at school and can remember punk catching on just past its sell-by date in my provincial comprehensive, but the punks were still outnumbered by lank haired prog rock fans. Not exactly the musical revolution that the makers of Girls And Boys would have preferred to think was really happening.

Of course, as an old duffer, it is always nice to reminisce about the fashions worn in our youth. Seeing Northern Soul girls in their long flippy skirts, ankle socks and granny sandals put me in mind of the trends for ridiculously frumpy shoes in the mid to late 1970's for your teen girl on the street. Jelly shoes! Disgusting plastic sandals! Nurses shoes with ghastly crepe soles! Those Clarke's Nature Trek things which looked like Cornish pasties! I can remember one summer - was it 1976 or 1977? - everybody wearing Jesus sandals. Only a few years before, we would have been laughed out of the classroom, such are the vagaries of fashion. No doubt Robert Elms is already in the process of writing Best Foot Forward - Working Class Shoe Choices As A Cultural Signifier, so I'll say no more no this subject.

So the next programme looks at the 1980's. Which means we'll be seeing

1. Bloody bastard Duran Duran, Spandau and Elmsey frothing at the mouth about the beautiful Working Clarrss ex-soulboy peacocks in their finery at the Blitz club.

2. A clip of Morrissey with the Hanging Gardens Of Babylon in his back pocket "challenging pre-conceived gender classifications". Again.

3. How the bland corporate mid 1980's are given a kick up the arse by the arrival of Housey Housey music. Nationwide, grandmothers wave their biros in the air like they just don't care, shouting "Eee Arr!", gleeful to have won the 50 quid bonus prize.

... speaking of which, one of the best bits of dialogue from Coronation Street emerged circa 1989, when Percy Sugden mulled over Brian Tilsley's recent murder outside a nightclub.

"I blame all this music, you know, this acid drop, this boogie woogie. You go in to one of those clubs, it's like walking into an engine room"

Of course I've not quoted that properly, although that's about the size of it. A shame that Percy isn't one of the talking heads on Girls And Boys.

I am only nostalgic about things that I was too young to experience.
The 1980's was the decade from hell. It only brightened up circa 1989 with the Stone Roses. I suppose I should make an exception for the Smiths and the Cure.
I believe people tend to be nostalgic for what they can't quite remember, or for the time when they were very young children - it could account for the current musical fascination for anything early '80's (your Bloc Parties, Editors etc).

Much of the 1980's was pretty awful music-wise, with a big lull in the middle only livening up
towards the end of the decade. House music and the culture around it probably a lot to do with that.

That should put a few more potential commentors (commenters?) off ...
I've recently had to compile a list of great music from every year from the last 50. I was so looking forward to getting to the 80s - my decade - and when I got there I realise what a huge pile of crap it was, with one of two honourable exceptions. Oh well, at least it was my crap.
I'll occasionally dust off an old record from my sad past (not in a NOSTALGIC way, of course) by the likes of Loop or My Bloody Valentine and think "you know, this is pretty good" then will cringe thinking about some of the embarrassing live bands I endured all those years ago.

There are heavyweight music fans who would argue that there is a hidden '80's full of great but obscure electro records which I never heard at the time, being a pathetic indie girl as I was.

A list of great music from every year for the past 50 years? Is anyone capable of doing that?
I am, yes.
UK music?

You'd be hard pushed in the fifties.
Not just UK music, no. But there's always Jimmy Young holding the fort.

*Wyndham starts pulling on his coat.*
This is true. When my parents were throwing out old furniture I remember the 78 on the turntable of their dusty old radiogram - a copy of Unchained Melody by Jimmy Young.

There must be a version of Unchained Melody which appeals to every generation of people who don't normally buy pop records, from Jimmy Young to the Righteous Brothers, Robson and Jerome to Gareth Gates. Who'll cover it next?
I wonder if Blunt of the Light Brigade could be persuaded.
Eurhh ... I can actually hear it now. It is going to become an earworm, and will finally displace Madge and her flipping Abba song.
perhaps this explains my nostalgia longing to listen to supertramp's breakfast in america right now

oh, and then there's 10cc

(have i horribly embarrassed myself here? my cool music taste gauge malfunctioned sometime in the mid 80s - funnily enough, it happened at around the same time my teenage hormone fluctuation levels were at their most volatile...weird, that)

*rushes off to open excel and plot a graph illustrating eery correlation*
No, wait, wait, Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp - marvellous, marvellous song. Hope I got the title right, I'm a bit pissed. Carry on.
I shall not say anything about Supertramp, but 10cc are the business - Sheet Music, Original Soundtrack, don't let anyone tell you different, although they died on their feet when Godley and Creme left. I'm Not In Love and Wall Street Shuffle are a good soundtrack for bathroom cleaning, I find.
'goodbye stranger' - you're bang on there, mr t

but i found i was tremendously cheered by 'it's raining again' on thursday afternoon when it was pissing down

10cc and bathroom cleaning: must try that - will check back with results

life is a cold lasagna suspended in deep freeze (you knew that, right?)
Life is a fire of flaming brandy on a crepe suzette.

Anyone got a fondue set?

Oh dear. Seventies revivalism. Mr Garfer wouldn't be pleased.
life is (also) a minestrone served up with parmesan cheese

[oooh, that sounds NICE}

p.s. i have a fondue set
I'm off to a firework do tonight (weather forecast - driving rain) so a nice hearty steaming bowl of either lentil or spicy parsnip soup after the two mile walk back wouldn't go amiss.
well the programme turned out to be pretty much as you said, but all i could think was "ooh, doesn't morrissey look like will young?"

i am shallow.
Both have chins you could land a helicopter on, both have lisps, both are gay, both like to hang around with hard blokes (Morrissey with his rockabillies and skinheads, Will Young with those fighter pilots in his new video). You could be on to something but I'm not exchanging my old Smiths records for anything Will Young has recorded, thankyouverymoochindeed.
I need to see the 1980's epersode of Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop. Its for a uni project. Does anyone have a tape or dvd etc that i can buy off them?


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