Liz Buckley’s back at the helm of the Standard Issue playlist and she’s rounding up music folk from some unlikely locations.
Star-spotting is OK. We’ve all sat next to Alice Cooper at a production of Guys & Dolls and felt happy to see him sway to Luck Be a Lady. Well, I have anyway. Observing a star from afar is fine if that’s how you get your kicks. What I much prefer though is a non-A-list musician in a usual scenario. Approachable, likeable, recognisable and completely out of context.
I’m never happier than when I’ve bumped into Spiritualized at the mini-golf or when someone in my office announces a propos of nothing: “Did I ever tell you about the time I was on a rollercoaster with Devo?”
No, but you MUST.
Never meet your idols but definitely, definitely travel the Orkney Islands with Idlewild or feed a penguin with McBusted.
Modern Romance – Best Years of Our Lives
Cud – Only (A Prawn in Whitby)
Bruges is a beautiful city. A city of cobbles, back streets, hidden squares, peaceful canals, and in the centre, a pretty little belfry. Myself and my friend Laney decided to hop on the Eurostar one weekend (it’s always “hop” with the Eurostar isn’t it?) and spend a few days pottering about, while I made her drink a succession of various flavoured beers I would have ordered myself if only I didn’t hate beer. All the while sipping local red wine and asking, “Does it still taste of beer?” (They all did.)
We mooched by canal sides, gazed over bridges and thought about going to the opera, despite not really meaning it. We were that off-guard.
One of the things to do in Bruges is climb the bell tower in the main square, take in the view, breathe the air, see the pretty little city in all its Toytown glory. It was a very quiet, sleepy Sunday so that made us feel less touristy in doing the very thing all the guide books insisted on.
“Sharing the view of Bruges from a bell tower with Cud isn’t quite the activity outlined in the Rough Guide but I recommend that slightly surreal amendment.”
We started to climb the narrow spiral staircase, on and on, just the two of us, making all the comments you do in these scenarios about feeling unfit, hoping we don’t meet anyone going the other way and “needing to smoke less”, even though I don’t smoke. We arrived at the top, breath first taken by the steep climb and then by the beautiful view. I turned around to comment to the one other person in the viewing gallery about how lovely it all was.
It was Will, from Cud. Sharing the view of Bruges from a bell tower with Cud isn’t quite the activity outlined in the Rough Guide but I recommend that slightly surreal amendment.
We were thirsty so we headed on. Bye, Cud! Time for me to pick some more beers not to drink. We started to gravitate towards a cute little canalside cafe with fairy lights and outside tables we’d spotted from on-high, stopping briefly on a tiny humpback bridge to ponder whether playing Poohsticks was actually too much like pure fucking whimsy.
I stared into the distance, the light reflecting on the water, the air full of bird song and the atmosphere pure DH Lawrence idyll. Then Laney started to boom laughter. A real belly laugh. I startled. She pointed at a canal boat directly under us on the bridge. “It’s Dave Jaymes from Modern Romance.”
To be fair, we know Dave Jaymes from Modern Romance, so to recognise him is not miraculous. To see him appear beneath us travelling at one mile an hour on a barge on a Belgium minibreak is however, superb. We immediately ruined the sleepy atmosphere by shouting at him to get the fuck off the boat and come to the bloody pub.
Every holiday should get going after someone’s said the phrase: “Oh look. It’s Dave Jaymes from Modern Romance.”
Rufus Wainwright – Go or Go Ahead
I’ve been to Reykjavik a couple of times as I wanted to see it in the different seasons – the monster waterfalls both frozen and covered in flowers, the volcanoes deep in snow and looking ready to erupt from heat. It’s a mad place in terms of scenery, the land outside of the city being miles and miles of solidified lava fields, the only real foliage able to grow being moss. It looks prehistoric, as though a dinosaur might run past you at any moment. I’ve been whale watching there in deep winter, an experience so freezing that I thought for several weeks I might never be warm again. I’ve had a chat with a rather friendly puffin colony. I’ve sat in a volcano whilst having a spa treatment and jets of boiling water have burst out of the ground next to me without warning. So it’s not lightly that I tell you the greatest and weirdest thing to happen to me in Iceland is to discuss winter knitwear with Rufus Wainwright.
Walking alone into a bar, he attracted our attention by sing-songing in the loudest American accent to no one in particular, “I’D REALLY LIKE A SAND-WICH. DO THEY HAVE THOSE? I DON’T KNOW, OH GOD. SOMEONE HELP ME.” He, attracted by our laughter; me, attracted by his cardigan, we collected together for mutual help. Having been on the look-out for the perfect Icelandic wool jumper on both trips and he wearing exactly the item of my dreams, we talk about our searches. He too had been on a wool mission but HE had succeeded. So my goal was in sight. Where! Tell of where you found this dream knitwear?
The Cramps – Shortnin’ Bread
One of the pleasures of working in music is dealing with bands you like and I like The Cramps a lot. Poison Ivy is a lovely lady and a savvy businesswoman and I miss occasionally hearing from her as, now Lux – her partner in all things – is gone, she has very much retreated from the music world.
They were an excellent couple, I never saw them together when they weren’t holding hands: a vision of cute wholesomeness you don’t necessarily expect from the band that brought you Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?
I was therefore delighted to help when Ivy contacted the office one day to see if a new advance could be put on the Cramps’ account as, “We’d love to turn the kitchen into a ‘50s diner.”
Of course you would. And you must.
Jónsi – Go Do
I very much like Sigur Rós and, like all of us, thanks to the BBC background music department, I associate them with oceans and woodland dwellings made of biscuits and elves and speaking dolphins. It was, therefore, somewhat surprising to find myself at a barbecue in New Cross with Jónsi and his boyfriend Alex, with whom he was recording an album. They were very helpful in finding us some halloumi and a beanbag.
For reasons I can’t remember, we left that barbecue many hours later with him owing Laney £20, so it must have been a good night.
Fatback Band – (Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop
Millie Jackson – (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to be Right
My first desk job was at a small music publisher which owned a fair amount of classic ‘70s funk. The basslines of the Fatback Band, The Gap Band and more became the staple samples that were the backbone to countless ‘80s and ‘90s rap and R&B tracks, which went on to be more famous than the tunes they borrowed from, so the catalogues and bands were never without event and currency.
The Fatback Band periodically came to London to play at the Jazz Café and have a select audience of people who appreciate their influence and importance. I have the utmost respect for them. Sampled more than most artists currently living, Millie Jackson, too, is an incredible force of nature and completely in charge of her image. So it’s a shame she probably lost any element of mutual respect the day I accidentally emailed her a picture of a pelican.
The Fatback Band were coming to London and my boss at the time had an odd and very literal idea of trying to promote the gig. The band has a track called Do The Bus Stop so he thought he would hire an open-top London bus and get them to drive around London in it. Just playing Do The Bus Stop. All day. To no one and for no real reason. No amount of raised eyebrows or saying, “…OK?” were enough to stop this plan and it was a time before iPhones. What I’m saying is, things didn’t go to plan and the bus went off-course and the gig was about to happen and we didn’t know where they were and I got to say, “I think I’ve lost the Fatback Band on an open-top London tourist bus.” So, all in all, that was actually a good day.
Department manager at an independent record company. Liker of Frank Sinatra and Nick Cave. Very sudden laugh. Pasty but tasty. Quite tired.