iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
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You are in the right place for Tony's daily musings.

Tony Fletcher's next DJ appearances:

Wednesday April 9th: Death Disco, the Notting Hill Arts Club, 21 Notting Hill Gate, London, from 9pm to 1am. Admission £5.
Sunday April 27th: Shout!, Bar 13, University Place and 13th Street, Manhattan, New York City. Launch party for the Shout! compilation album, The Revolution Rave-Up Alive 1997-2003. 10pm-4am. Admission free. (Over 21.)

WEDNESDAY APRIL 9

NOSTALGIA MADNESS

London's Burning with the latest in music, fashion and film, and in the course of this spring week I could probably see enough cool bands to last several New York winters. But that's not what I do when I "come home." I wallow deliriously in life-long friendships, the music of my youth and the football team I'm doomed to support for ever. Five examples from a long weekend…


Naughty and nice: A South London billboard welcoming the British spring....


1) MADNESS

The Madness musical Our House, performed eight times a week at the Cambridge Theatre, has been receiving rave reviews and it's easy to see why. Madness' songs always had a healthy dose of the British music hall in them which, combined with the comical dance routines of those classic early 80s videos, makes for an easy transfer to the West End stage. What then makes Our House more than just a bunch of elaborately choreographed nutty dances is writer Tim Firth's plot, which has nothing to do with any one Madness song and yet everything to do with the group's culture.

On the night of his 16th birthday, Camden Town native Joe Casey (whose Casey Street abode was named for his grandfather's contribution to the area's housing) breaks into a yuppie show flat overlooking the Canal to impress his girlfriend. The police show up, as does the ghost of Joe's petty criminal dead father, beseeching his son to follow the straight and narrow. So should Joe run? Or should he give himself up? The plot follows both paths, which lead to strikingly different conclusions. Firth clearly had fun incorporating almost every Madness single into this plot: both 'Night Boat To Cairo' and 'Wings Of A Dove' are transported to Las Vegas, and 'Michael Caine' is stripped to the line "all I wanted was a word, a photograph." But, as you'd expect, the archetypal singalongs 'Our House,' 'My Girl' and 'House Of Fun' are all incorporated to maximum potential. The result is as surprisingly emotional as it is reassuringly enjoyable. A true triumph, and the best use of a Thursday afternoon in many a year.


2) INSPIRAL CARPETS

The Madchester quintet made a series of superb singles in the late 80s and early 90s but because they didn't fit into any easily definable 'bag(gy)', they never got the respect they deserved and called it a day – prematurely, as far as I'm concerned. Fashions come back round, of course, and following the success of the movie 24 Hour Party People, renewed interest in the Stone Roses and the never-say-die example set by the Charlatans, the Carpets have reformed for a major headlining tour, a proper best-of (the appropriately-titled Cool As…) and a new single, 'Come Back Tomorrow.'

At Brixton Academy Friday night, they were, quite seriously, as good as ever, if not perhaps better. Playing to a sold-out crowd evenly balanced between hardcore old fans busy mooing their approval (the Carpets have a thing about cows) and younger enthusiasts eager to see their cult heroes for the first time, the band roared through more good singles than most people would ever thought they'd be remembered for. Pride of audience approval went to 'This Is How It Feels' and the final encore of 'Saturn V', but any band that can also count 'Joe,' 'Two Worlds Collide,' 'Caravan,' 'Commercial Rain' 'I Want You' and 'Dragging Me Down' among its contributions to pop culture deserves its chance to come back and play them all again.

The Carpets' appeal has always been in its eclecticism: Clint Boon's retro Farfisa Organ hooks and contagious self-confidence; Tom Hingley's quietly poetic lyrics and all-powerful voice; Martyn Walsh's house-friendly bass lines; Graham Lambert's understated guitar dexterity; and Craig Gill's crisp drumming. Though absent the bowl haircuts that once rendered them so classically baggy, all members were on fine form Friday, with Hingley in particular coming on as much more of a crowd pleasing rabble rouser than I originally remembered him for. 'Come Back Tomorrow' has so many hooks you could hang your entire wardrobe on it, the moving images behind the band offered visual clarity via vibrant colors, and the group's spare-no-expense approach extended to a full marching band for 'She Comes In The Fall'. And if my enthusiasm has you at all envious that you missed this one, relax: the show was filmed for a DVD release later this year.

Marching band for 'She Comes In The Fall'

...And white polos for 'Saturn V'

So much for the show itself. The Carpets always used to be fond of a post-show jig following their gigs, and I'm glad to see the threat of middle age hasn't made them any less eager to shake a late-night leg. They invited some 200 friends and fans to join them afterwards for a party starring a DJ who played the kind of set I love – equal parts indie, new wave, dancefloor and sixties, and most of it on 7". Even the termination of the open bar for a cash bar failed to quell most party-goers' exuberance, and when DJ Declan was finally switched off at 1.30 am, those still dancing demanded an encore: the venue gave us five more minutes to get down to the White Stripes' new 'Seven Nation Army' – which Declan played on 7". Good man.

From a personal respective, the night was rendered all the better by running into several good friends. Among them were former EMF members James and Derry who, as with the Inspiral Carpets, I know from promoting their shows in New York in the early 1990s; there was much reminisence, plenty dancing, lots of laughs and a fair amount of beer. In fact such a good time was had that some of us pushed it on to Brixton music pub The Dogstar. Unfortunately that venue seems to have lost its edge, which may have been just as well, for by then we were in danger of losing our heads. The perfect way to spend a Friday night.


3) CRYSTAL PALACE

The view from the Old Stand prior to kick-off:

The Whitehorse at left, the Holmesdale at right

I haven't seen a game at Selhurst Park for over two years: the match I had planned for New Year's Day 2002 was postponed and the season was then over by the time I made it back to London again last spring. Crystal Palace's season is effectively over this year too, with the team playing now for nothing more than mid-table respectability. (Well, that and their jobs, given the threat of a mass clear-out.) This might explain the embarrassing lack of atmosphere throughout much of the game – though another reason may be that I swapped my affinity with the Holmesdale home end for a friend's spare season ticket in the 'Old Stand,' where people generally sit and watch in silence, which has never been my style.

But it was a beautiful day all the same, rendered all the more so when Palace took a surprising early lead against promotion challengers Sheffield United courtesy of a well-taken goal by Dele Adebola (the man I formerly accused of rivaling Emile Heskey in the donkey stakes). Equally keen to get on the score sheet, Palace defender Tony Popovic then put the ball in his own net to bring United back into the game, before Noel Whelan scored the second of two surprisingly well-crafted Palace goals to put us back in the lead. Despite this fast-paced start, it was only after half time that the ground started reverberating to the kind of competitive choruses that make going to a football match worth the effort. Unfortunately the Palace support didn't help the team convert their many chances into a third goal and Sheffield United stole one back in the last few minutes to take a point. Palace fans are fully familiar with giving up late goals like this so none of us were particularly surprised. Still, there seems to be a lot of animosity towards Trevor Francis, a much-loved player in his heyday but a constant underachiever as a manager. I don't expect to see him in charge at Palace next year. A rare opportunity for me to make typical use of a Saturday afternoon.


4) THE AFFAIR

This one wasn't my idea. Johnny Marr and Death In Vegas each offered a more attractive musical proposition last Thursday night. But a lot of my teenage era friends remain the same fully paid-up members of the mod revival they were back in 1980, and they talked me into attending a gig by the remnants of Secret Affair at a venue called The Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel. I wasn't a fan of Ian Paige and co. first time round, and I'm not any more convinced 24 years on, especially as what's left of the band is so out of shape that they must have been forced into their suits with a shoe horn. Paige's voice was fine and his trumpet playing passable too, but all in all I found the smattering of pushing-40 mods drunkenly dancing around reliving their youthful glory days rather sad. Writing a bad review of a reformed Secret Affair is like shooting fish in a barrel so I'll keep this short but any second gen mod band that encores with the Jam's 'In The City' - as a ballad - isn't asking for sympathy. Apart from enjoying my old friends' company, the journey was rendered worthwhile by the gift, sent via mutual friend, of some old Apocalypse tracks preserved on CD by my former band mate Jeff Carrigan. I knew there was a reason I hadn't cleaned up the tapes I got out my mum's attic last year: I was waiting to complete the set.


5) THE JAM

The only suitable way to end a long weekend like this (which also included an exceedingly long and hilarious Saturday night with many close friends in Bexhill) was to finally unwrap the Jam double DVD I received a few weeks ago, and settle down for some Sunday night nostalgia with my hostess and near-as life-long friend Jeni. And yes, the various videos, promos and live gigs brought back many incredible memories and musical reassurances: I'll never regret spending so much of my youth following Weller, Foxton and Buckler around the country. But when we played the Gary Crowley-narrated brief bio 'The Jam: A Time and Place' I was seriously shocked to see some of my own work pop up on the screen: the opening page from the 1978 Paul Weller Jamming! interview that has been fully archived here on this web site. I realize I should be honored that a 14 year old's first ever interview should be worthy of inclusion in a great British band's first comprehensive DVD, and I suppose then that I am. Still, it would have been nice to have gotten a credit where it was due. But as an appropriate way to come full circle at the end of a nostalgic weekend (all the more so because Jeni helped collate and staple that self-same issue back in the day), it couldn't be bettered.


MORE LONDON MUSINGS HERE

2003 MUSINGS:
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Foot Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS:
DECEMBER 25-30: NO POSTINGS: ON VACATION
DECEMBER 16-24: Metro Area, Breakbeat Science, Sting makes Wine, New York Downtown redesigns, Keith Moon anecdotes, Campbell's jokes.
DECEMBER 9-15:
Tiswas, pledge drives, The View from Up North
DECEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Weekend Players and Snow Lit Piano Bars)
FOR NOVEMBER 25-29 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Joe Hurley, Thanksgiving, Sven
Väth, Richie Hawtin)
FOR NOVEMBER 16-24 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Longwave, The Pleased, Get Your War On, Powder, Radio 4, Supreme Beings Of Leisure, Ben Neill, Baldwin Brothers, Thievery Corporation)
FOR NOVEMBER 9-15 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes CMJ report including Datsuns, von Bondies and My Favorite, and political Eagles)
FOR NOVEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Halloween, the New York Marathon, and British Cuisine)
FOR OCTOBER 26-NOV 1 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes live reviews of The Streets, Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights, Flaming Sideburns, Stellastarr*; Jam Master Jay; Halloween)
FOR OCTOBER 19-25 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Underworld live, Atlantic Avenue antics, Girls and Boys night)
FOR OCTOBER 12-18 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Bali Bombing and stupid editorials, the Electro-Clash festival, VHS Or Beta, Ballboy, Mindless Self Indulgence, 2 Many DJs, Tom Petty, The Streets, pointless stop-the-war e-mails)
FOR OCTOBER 5-11 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Steve Earle and John Walker's Blues, Dreaming Of Britney, Girls Against Boys and Radio 4)
FOR SEPTEMBER 28-OCT 4 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes White Stripes live, Morel live, My Generation re-issue)
FOR SEPTEMBER 21-27 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Creation live, Village Voice, Wine not Whine and more)
FOR SEPTEMBER 14-20 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Firefighter Andre Fletcher, Untamed, Uncut, and more September 11 Musings)
FOR SEPTEMBER 7-13 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Sep 11 memorials, Did Bin Laden Win?, Scissor Sisters and Electro-clash)
FOR AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Strokes live, The Rising, Saint Etienne, Team USA, a.i., Tahiti 80, Dot Allison)
FOR AUGUST 17-30 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes holiday musings, wine reviews, Luna at Southpaw, and more)
FOR AUGUST 10-16 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes lengthy Who live review)
FOR JULY 27-AUG 9 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Area 2, 24 Hour Party People Party, Hootenanny Tour, 2 Many DJs and more.
FOR JULY 20-26 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Wilson Pickett, John Entwistle, rebuilding downtown NYC)
FOR JULY 13-19 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Love Parade, Teany, RenewNYC, Femi Kuti, NRA, Londonisation of New York, Britishification of Global Rock)
FOR JULY 6-12 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Mike Meyers as Keith Moon, the RAVE Act, John Entwistle, Michael Jackson, Southpaw, Moby Online, Layo & Bushwacka!,
(accidentally deleted)
FOR JUNE 29-JULY 5 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup Final, John Entwistle's legacy, The Who's decision to carry on, the meaning of July 4)
FOR JUNE 22-28 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Dr. John, Doves, Mermaid Parade, John Entwistle's death, Timothy White's death, Clinic Firewater and Radio 4 live, The Who's decision to carry on)
FOR JUNE 15-21 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Liars live, GiantFingers, the Big Takeover)
FOR JUNE 8 -14 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, StellaStarr*, Jose Padilla, Dee Dee Ramone, suicide bombings)
FOR JUNE 1-7 DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Southpaw, Six Foot Under, Andrew Sullivan)
FOR LATE MAY DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR MAY'S EIGHT DAYS IN A WEEK'S MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR LATE APRIL LONDON MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR EARLY APRIL MUSINGS, CLICK HERE


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2003




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This page last updated
Thu, Apr 17, 2003 6:07 pm)


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