Enfer search words here


What's new in iJamming!...
Wed, Jan 15, 2003
30 Albums, 10 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies.
Eight Days in A Week's Music:
Ed Harcourt, Vines, Candy Butchers, Timo Maas, Ashley Casselle & Adam Freeland, Aerial Love Feed, and enough little club nights to shake several sticks at.
Tony's (lengthy) trip down nostalgia lane from his visit home at the end of April. Stop-offs include Death Disco, old Jamming! Magazines, life-long friendships, road trips to Brighton, Damilola Taylor and political frustration, Morrissey-Marr, Zeitgeist, Oasis, Dexys, Primal Scream, the current British music scene and more.
Jack magazine comes out of the starting gate with the banner headline "best new men's mag in years."
Why I re-wrote the book: The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography, due out this summer through Omnibus.
Chemical Brothers, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Paul Westerberg, Skywalking, Joe Strummer, Radio 4, and Aquatulle.
A weekend with John Mayer, Sugarcult - and Elvis
Michael Greene's Grammy Speech: An Invitation to Download?
Plus: 10 things they forgot to tell you at the Grammys.
What the Hell Is Going On Here?
From the Jamming! Archives:
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books - and comments on the Village Voice Poll
MUSING on The Manhattan 'Edge':
Will the Island Ever Again Be A 'Cultural Ground Zero?'
hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
Featured wine region 1:
The full iJamming! Contents
London Musing:
Back to Blighty to clear out the past - and living in it instead
Tony Fletcher's UK Diary, May 2002. Part 2 (Click here for part 1)
Saturday April 27: Brighton Rocks

A group of us long-term friends had planned (even before I lined up the Death Disco gig) to spend my birthday night of April 27 in Brighton, a city that represents absolutely the Best of British, both past and present. Brighton's got the coolest shopping streets in the country (the Lanes), some of the best nightlife (for clubbers, gays and crusties alike), my favourite restaurant in the nation, great architecture, good antiques, quality artisans - and with the beach, the bars, the pier and the bed and breakfasts, it's kept contact with its titillating past, making it almost impossible to visit and not enjoy yourself.

As a Crystal Palace fan, I was brought up to hate Brighton (the two clubs share a catchment district south of London and a violent history of Bank Holiday clashes), and over the years, as I've fallen steadily more in love with the town itself, I've maintained a petty superiority complex based on the misfortunes of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, especially once they lost their ground and almost went under in recent years. But even that has to now be re-evaluated. Under the tutelage of my childhood Palace playing hero, Peter Taylor, Brighton topped Division 2 this year and used Saturday April 27 as opportunity to present the Championship Trophy to their fans on home turf.

For me that meant, upon walking into the pier-end pub Horatio's, seeing some very happy Brighton fans in their club shirts, at which I gave up my last right to speak ill of them: the team is sponsored these days by none other than Skint Records, home to Fatboy Slim, Lo-Fidelity All Stars, Midfield General, the Big Beat Boutique and the recent chart-topping UK single 'Lazy' by X-press2 with David Byrne. (Check the Skint site and go to the 'disco' section; it's a joy!) The coolest sponsors Palace have ever had was Virgin - which just doesn't look the same on your chest. (Mind you, the Palace eagle looks bloody good tattooed on your arm. And mind you also, Brighton are not without their problems: Peter Taylor resigned from the manager's job just a few days after these celebrations, citing insufficient funding for team improvements. I don't think there's a Palace fan who wouldn't welcome him in a move up the A23 to the club that made his career, back in its heady third division mid-seventies heyday.)

Brighton: the Best of British, past and present. L-R: The Pavilion; Dodgems on the Pier; Veggie food on the Lanes.

My old Apocalypse band mate, and probably my best mate, Tony Page (who now lives in Bexhill, a skip along the coast from Brighton) joined us at Horatio's with his wife Sarah and brother-in-law Gavin. Pagey and I have particularly fond memories of Brighton together. Apocalypse played there twice with the Jam, including that band's last ever show, at the Brighton Centre, in December 1982 - which meant that watching this evening's 3-piece cover band on the pub stage foolishly attempt 'Funeral Pyre' only added to the nostalgia kick we get into when we see each other anyway.

Curiously, Pagey had no memory of the last time we were in this pub together, in the early '90s: It was his (second) stag day, which some twenty of us had spent at the Brighton races, on a picture-perfect English summer's afternoon, and then at a beach-front bar until the police came. (It's a long story.) We'd ended up at Horatio's where an inebriated Pagey decided on some karoake when Gary Glitter's 'I Love You Love Me Love' hit the jukebox. True to form for such an exhibitionist, he stripped in accompaniment and I have a lasting memory of four bouncers jumping him as he went to remove his underpants, ejecting him and his clothes outside the pub while the rest of us fell about laughing. When I recounted all this, standing in front of the self-same stage, Pagey looked entirely blank at the recollection - which tells you how drunk he must have been. Oh for a digital camera in those days.

Our meal at Terre a Terre was the usual cuisinal treat. This is the kind of restaurant that converts carnivores into vegetarians; I've taken various people there over the years who usually pale at the idea of being separated from meat but who inevitably walk out salivating at the prospect of a return visit. The food comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, much of it with a vaguely Asian flavor, and it looks no less complicated than it sounds. (Sample item: Zhuganoush - chargrilled aubergine sole with griddled minted halloumi and roast red pepper with lemon doused leaves and a warm poached egg dashed with Zhuganoush and balsamic and roast red pepper dressing with deep fried lavash tanoor bread crisps.) It also has an excellent wine list - all the wines are organic, many are bio-dynamic, a fair few are certified vegan, they hail from all over the world, including England, and there are some unusual ciders and beers in there too. Terre a Terre was the first British venue at which I ever tasted Viognier, and I'm mortified that wine is no longer included on the list. Our hungry table settled instead for a beautiful New Zealand Pinot Noir followed by a bottle of Vacqueryas. (Minor complaint: the reds were too warm: the restaurant could surely afford better storage conditions.) Tony, Sarah and Gavin had decided not to join us for dinner, citing their carnivorous habits, but when they came to meet us after the pubs closed, one sample of our still piled-up plates and they were regretting their choice. Terre a Terre is all too popular - I had trouble getting us a booking even with a full week's notice - but it's fairly priced, is open all day most days if you're just passing through, and it's a true original.

The one thing it's not good for is a light meal before hitting the clubs, and the six of us who'd opted for punishingly beautiful desserts were feeling the full weight of our stomachs when we went to visit our DJ friend (and DJ magazine contributor) Lene Stokes at the Honey Club on the seafront. We were all feeling pretty young and hip for our age, but we probably didn't look it given that the doormen kept us waiting fifteen minutes in seriously biting rain and cold. (There's nothing quite like spring time in England.) I don't begrudge them doing their job, deterring us from lowering their standards or raising the median age, but at the same time, we were on the list, the weather was shit, and I wasn't, if only on principle, going to go anywhere else. We finally all made it in, free of charge, at which I understood their reluctance to admit us. Average age on the dancefloor was probably not more than 19; even in the back room where Lene was Djing and a slightly older crowd was hanging, it was still no more than mid-to-late twenties. A reality check and no mistake, we all found it hard work to relate to either the boob-tubed girls and slicked-hair boys, or the middle of the road techno-trance-pop on the main floor.

That said, just as we walked in, we heard one of the most unlikely songs ever to grace a mainstream 21st Century club: U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name.' Anyone who knows their rock history is aware that 1980s U2 were famously undanceable, so much so that with Achtung Baby they made a concerted effort to appeal to the post acid-house youth and began commissioning remixes from the likes of Paul Oakenfold. Another decade has clearly allowed for a revisionist approach to their earlier music; this appeared to be the original mix of 'Streets' being played, at peak hours and to a packed dance floor. Not sure what point it proves, but it's worth noting that while late 80s U2 are decidedly non grata at Death Disco, they fill the floor at a real disco.

Sadly, that was about as good as the music on the main floor got. The rest of it was exceedingly mainstream, and pretty badly mixed, techno-trance-house, and I couldn't offer a defence to my rockist friends Lee or Tony when they claimed they "still don't get this." Maybe, knowing their tastes, we should have hit the indie club. Some of us were still pretty tired anyway after Thursday night (I know I was) and so we all cried off back to the Preston Park Hotel at 2am. There, Jeni, Denise, Lee and myself, for the second time in three nights, relived the words of Release - "find yourself a good friend and sit around talking till four." In fact, we talked until we couldn't talk any more. I worked my way though almost an entire bottle of Côtes du Rhône in the process, on the understandable if ultimately painful understanding that it was, after all, my birthday and I'd get drunk if I wanted to.

Sunday April 28-Wednesday May 1: A lengthy British hangover

Sunday was therefore very much a hangover day. Jeni, Denise and I spent the entire afternoon wandering around the Lanes, stocking up on energising vegetarian food, sex toys, and cool clothing. You can't do better than buying a Beatles Ben Sherman in Brighton (least not if you want alliteration thrown into the bargain) and my usual Lanes luck held when at the end of the afternoon, just as the shops were closing, we found a store happy to mark down all its European skate sneakers such as I was avidly searching for. (I picked up a pair of 2 Fish, a German company abandoned by its teen customers when it curiously decided to campaign against cannabis, and a pair of Defys from Belgium. Snug fits both, and only £30 with the markdown.) The proprietor, a juggler by nature - the shop's called Oddballs, after all - enthusiastically discussed his autism and the straight edge lifestyle, which only prompted us to hit a local pub for hair of the dog. We had been enthusing on Brighton's conversion to cafe culture, but when you live in the land of Starbucks, like me, or of imported Italian culture, like Denise, a hand-drawn pint from a 17th century pub feels like more of a holiday treat than a double latte.

We hit Brighton train station around mid-evening, which seemed no big deal. Denise boarded a train back to Bexhill, where her parents have just moved from south-east London, and Jeni and I envisaged a comfortable 45-minute ride back up to Croydon. We should have known British trains a bit better. With Sunday work being done on the line back to London, our train was diverted along the coast via Littlehampton; what should have been a 45-minute sprint turned into a two-and-a-half hour, two-sides of-a-triangle crawl. Already seriously tired, our mood was hardly brightened by the train being cold and filthy. We eventually took refuge in a first class compartment on the theory that were we hauled up by a ticket collector, we could surely dispute that there was anything first class about it: the luggage racks were torn, the windows and walls were graffitied, and it didn't look like it had been cleaned for weeks.

The depressing circumstances of this interminable journey were only exasperated as Jeni and I worked our way through the even more disheartening contents of the Sunday paper - and I suppose this is the point at which I let free and rant at what seems to be the increasingly miserable state of British society and the reluctance to fix it. The major news in London the week I was over concerned the not-guilty verdicts handed down to the last two teenage defendants charged with the murder of 10-year old Damilola Taylor. Many in the UK will know the circumstances surrounding Taylor's tragically premature demise and may want to skip over some of what follows. Those in the States or elsewhere might be upset to hear the details about this boy who, three months after arriving from Nigeria, and after incessant complaints of being bullied, was found bleeding to death in the stairwell of a south London housing estate. (Defense lawyers introduced the possibility that Taylor may have slipped onto a broken bottle, though no one explained why, were that the case, the boy was found with a marble stuffed down his throat as well.)

The London police, who'd come in for a public drubbing after their failure to act swiftly upon a previous racial killing in south London (Stephen Lawrence), rounded up what they considered to be the usual suspects. Of eleven teenagers arrested, not one had a father figure at home; one was from a family of five children, each fathered by a different man, not one of whom was still involved in his child's life; the two boys who were found not guilty during my visit (named only as Boy A and Boy B) were born but months apart, to a mother had her first children at only sixteen, and whose father left home when they were two; one of the 16 year olds is himself now an unmarried father of a one-year old. I also come from a broken home, as do many of my friends, so I'm not stating that the lack of a dad leads to a life of crime, but, factoring in other circumstances of these kids' lives, it certainly doesn't help.

While the two boys protested their innocence in the death of the ten year old, they have a police record to outshame most career crooks; the year of Taylor's death, 2000, one boy was charged with five offences, the other with four. In particular, they were accused of leading a sexual assault on two pubescent girls so frightening that one girl attempted suicide, the other upped with her mother and left for Ireland. (That case was thrown out on ridiculous technicalities, adding to the boys sense that they were, in their own words, "untouchables.") After they were found not guilty of Taylor's murder and the Daily Mirror paid for their story, Boys A & B shrugged off the sexual assault charges as "normal lads stuff." Their mother, while admitting that her sons were out burglarising by their teens, insisted in print that they "were good boys" and that the police "picked on them." Their father, contacted at the other end of the country, assured the media he was "proud" of his sons.

These details were presented by the British media as part of a feeding frenzy about "feral youths" and while that might sound like hyperbole, there's no doubt that an underclass has emerged in the UK since the Thatcherite era - and that no one seems to know how to handle it. Taylor's apparent murder may be an extreme example of unconscionable violence (though it was matched by the killing of 3-year old James Bulger in Liverpool a decade ago), but that's not to dispute a consensus, shared by police and public alike, that whole tracts of British housing estates and inner-city areas have become no-go zones. The sense that the nation, or at least London, is spiralling violently out of control is backed by facts. I am writing this in New York, with the following statement in front of me from the New York Times of May 14: "New York is safer than London in virtually all categories of crime. Per capita, London has twice as many robberies and assaults, four times as many burglaries, about 50 per cent more rapes and almost as many murders."

Almost everyone I got in conversation with in London - from young single mothers to well-off middle aged businessmen to my long-term friends in between - were telling the exact same stories, of heavily armed drugs gangs, of daylight shootings, random thefts, brazen assaults. Of no longer feeling safe in the City where they grew up. I refuse to present myself as some sort of alienated conservative; I spent most of my teens out and about on the London streets, I got into my own share of trouble (usually for challenging authority), and I hung around plenty dubious characters from the south London estates. So I have to stop and ask myself: does everything seem worse now just because I'm older, wiser, a father and I'm looking on from across the Atlantic? Or does everything seem worse now because it is worse?

No wonder then that the second most common question I was asked in the UK when I told people I live in New York was: Does Zero-Tolerance work? My answer is by necessity complicated. People have to support the policy, which means accepting arrest for such minor transgressions as fare-jumping, public weed/cannabis smoking and alcohol drinking. (The latter is not illegal in the UK; in fact, the young British enjoy walking the streets and drinking. But in New York, the 'open container' law was strictly enforced by Guiliani's police as part of their 'quality of life' campaign, and it would be interesting to see what would happen in the UK if the charge of 'drunk and disorderly' was applied with zero tolerance.) And crime can not be viewed in complete isolation. In American cities, of which New York offered only the most extreme turnaround, the crime rate dropped as the economy picked back up after the early nineties recession, and also after a generation decimated by crack gave up on that deadly drug.

Much of the inner city crime in the UK is drug-related, so issues of drug dependency/ education/legalisation have to be handled in tandem with any zero tolerance policing. Quite what quick fixes (if you'll excuse the metaphor) there are to be handed out on the Council Estates where there's a shortage of father figures to keep adolescents in check is another matter. The Labour Government wants children to be tried in court as adults, but we've all seen how jail only hardens the young criminal. The police want more power; the public want a police presence they can trust. The teachers want parents to understand what it is they're dealing with. The parents don't want to believe their own children are part of the problem. It's easy to look at this mess, shrug one's shoulders and conclude there is No Solution (No Future?) but defeatism is clearly self-perpetuating, and the first step to turning around the crime rate and social decay is the determination to do so. Whether the British, as a nation, have that determination remains uncertain - especially when going by mocking diatribes like this fatuous Independent opinion piece. (Click here for an elaboration.)

A pause for something positive: artwork at the Gloucester Road tube stop

The most common question I was asked about New York, meanwhile, understandably related to September 11. "How are people/things doing? Are you back to normal?" I know the British genuinely care - I've seen so many beautiful cards and statements left at Ground Zero, received so many emotional letters and e mails - but these questions, asked in person nine months down the line, were frequently just an opening for someone to recount how, "I remember where I was on September 11, I watched it on TV, it was like a disaster movie." For those of us who live here, it wasn't like a movie, and it wasn't like a disaster. It was a disaster, period. And across America, I don't believe there is any 'normal' to return to. There's pre-September 11 normality, and there's post-September 11 reality. They're two different countries with two different mentalities.

But that's okay. I understand that my home nation, one which survived the Blitz, along with all the other bombing raids of World War II, and then made it through over twenty years of IRA bombings, is going to be a little more casual about September 11 than what are often accused of being the 'over-reacting' Americans. The argument can be made that coping with September 11 is something that New Yorkers and Americans have to deal with themselves - catching up, albeit several times over and all at once, with a pain that the rest of the world has gone through all too often when attacked by terrorists or shadowy military forces. Yet sadly, this failure among many people in Europe to truly "get it" (I'm far from alone in feeling an emotional distance from many Europeans now that the initial shock has worn off) emphasises what I have seen to be the harshest of post-September 11 truths. That is, that rather than bringing about a sea change in human behaviour, the events of that day have only provoked the public, their politicians and their nations to act truer to type than ever. That means, for example, the U.S. enforcing its unrivaled military superiority under increased international isolation, but it also means the Arab world upgrading their pathological hatred for the Jews, and the Europeans revealing their barely-disguised-at-best deep-seated distrust and dislike of Americans and Jews alike.

I can take a certain amount of the anti-Americanism that is rife across Europe. It comes with the territory; being American (or living here, which after enough years is much the same) is the international equivalent of being a Manchester United supporter. And my experience is that the common European (for want of a better description) is less xenophobic towards or outright jealous of Americans than are their leaders or editorialists. I do find it vaguely comical that the USA is routinely, conveniently (but ignorantly) held responsible for everything wrong with the world, Europe included. You simply can not blame the popularity of Le Pen, the murder of Damilola Taylor, the rioting football fans, the hopeless British train system, the genocidal disintegration of Yugoslavia, the unchecked rise of Islamic fascism, the failure to integrate waves of immigrants, and the continual collapse of the British NHS all on the shoulders of "American imperialism" - however tempting it might be. The claims that Hollywood culture, which I mostly detest, has exported readily-glamourised violence carries some truth - until you check out the popularity and cultural impact of home-made movies like Britain's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or France's Baise-Moi. Similarly, I'm no supporter of gangster rap - hip-hop lost its moral compass years ago - but I'm not convinced that American rap moguls needs to take responsibility for So Solid Crew and/or the violence that surrounds the British 2-step scene. America(ns) can continue to expect the character attacks, but I'm certain that the country and its people remain strong enough to survive that and worse.

I worry more when I see Israel raised to the icon of Pariah State that South Africa was once held in. No one's perfect in the Middle East, the Palestinians deserve Statehood as do the Jews, and events change from day to day, but there's a hatred of Israel across Europe these days that is terrifying when one takes 20th Century history into account. I really wish I could understand the thinking better, but European logic appears to be along the lines that Palestinian suicide bombers are mere desperadoes fighting for their freedom, whereas Israeli military action to defend its people from such attacks is genocide. The bandying about of the term "war crimes" is particularly galling. Not only is it used in lieu of proper evidence - in the case of Jenin, such evidence ultimately revealed a very different story than that which the anti-Israeli mainstream press was originally, eagerly reporting - but it seems to divert attention from the real war crimes of recent years, those that took place in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, which Europe was so unwilling and/or unable to halt that it finally, and unsurprisingly, called in desperation for American intervention.

Similarly, the readiness with which Europeans condemn Israeli military action against Palestinian terrorists along the lines that, as Holocaust victims, the Jews should know better, not only misses the point (that as Holocaust victims they understand all too well the perils of inaction), it serves as a cop-out for European complicity in the attempted extermination of the Jews under Hitler, it excuses the Europeans from failing to react to their own internal threats (from the Nazis in the 30s through to the terrorists of the IRA and ETA), it obfuscates the Europeans' own guilt for their colonial past, and it feeds into an anti-Semitism across the European continent that's palpably higher than it has been in decades.

This is our post-September 11 world and it's frightening. And while I regret having to spend time writing all this and recognise how angry I sound, I can't ignore what I see as an expatriated Englishman/European, and how it makes me feel. Twice in the last hundred years, internal European enmity, suspicion and land-grabbing, not to mention rife anti-Semitism, grew to engulf the continent in wars that almost destroyed the planet. The hand-wringing of the present day European leaders and their accusations against those democracies in America and the Middle East that are strong enough to act collectively upon their consciences to defend themselves sooner rather than later, rings extremely hollow as a result.

A pause for something else positive: The panoramic view from the top of Crystal Palace (as obscured by a 600 year old oak tree). Goodbye Fox Hill.

This sense of complete political confusion reached its apotheosis during my last 48 hours in London. May 1st saw the annual Mayday protests, which on face value I absolutely support and encourage. Freedom of speech and the freedom to protest is, undoubtedly, the bedrock of any civilised society. The freedom to spend one's money wisely is just as important, and to me, the greatest tool for those who oppose the spread of 'globalisation' is consumer choice. We make a political statement every time we make a purchase, and the most effective way to 'fight the power' is to support small businesses or co-ops, and to avoid as far as possible those corporations which spread hegemony while reaping maximum profits at the cost of human exploitation. Ultimately though, it's easier to round up a gang and throw a rock through a Starbucks window than it is to buy a child's toy or running shoe not manufactured in a Chinese prison or by a child labourer, or to buy petrol/gas for the car that doesn't grubby the hands of the Saudis, Saddam Hussein or George W Bush's friends; or to keep one's money in a bank that doesn't finance dictatorships in far flung third world countries. It's easier, but that doesn't make iy correct.

I was in central London throughout May 1, having inadvertently planned my business meetings for that day - and through a moment of stellar misplanning my UK publishers Omnibus had lined up a 10-year Anniversary Party for Johnny Rogan's Morrissey and Marr Book in the heart of Soho just as the day's protests determined to get ugly. I wandered among the crowd as it buzzed for violent confrontation, and I recognised the mood from a hundred confrontations before. Trying to smash the windows of a McDonald's on Shaftesbury Avenue was not a blow against international capitalism; it was an attempt to engage the police in direct confrontation for the thrill of it. The next night, Millwall fans succeeded in that provocation and the streets close to the same Peckham estates as Damilola Taylor was murdered on were set alight as dozens of fans and police alike were injured in a truly nonsensical riot. Spot the difference? I'm not entirely sure I can.

I met Denise for a coffee in Frith Street that Mayday evening. The TV at the back of the room routinely showed us the action outside the front door where riot police were attempting to corral and control the confronting protestors. I was watching as it then switched from the scene outside our window to show us heavy duty Mayday riots in Denise's home city of Sydney, and one of my favorite places, but for its dubious historical allegiances, Berlin. From there the TV new switched to the mass demonstrations across France against Le Pen. (Who nonetheless, and in a higher turnout than in the first round of voting, STILL pulled 18% of the vote the following Sunday.) Then it was off to Madrid to report on an ETA car bomb that had been detonated prior to the European Championship all-Spanish semi-final. Finally it was time for a weather report, and when I saw the word 'mini-tornado' implanted across Central England for the following day, I really began to wonder whether I was just living a bad dream.

The party at Music Sales was somewhat surreal, given the activity taking place on the streets outside, but an enjoyable occasion all the same. Johnny Rogan's Morrissey-Marr book was a watershed for Omnibus Press, proving that serious, lengthy rock biographies could win more acclaim than trivial, picture-heavy tie-ins, and with some 60,000 sales, prove more popular too. Dear Boy then went on to reinforce that point, and I take great pride that a 600-page biography about a drummer is currently the best selling book in their catalogue. Omnibus suffer frequent knocks for their frivolous cut-and-paste bios, but as a company, they can claim some serious loyalty. Three of the four people I worked with on my Echo & The Bunnymen book back in '86-'87 - Chris Charlesworth, Andrew King and Hilary Power - are still there, and the fourth (Frank Warren) showed up for this party. Come to that, it was Denise Alexander who introduced me to Chris Charlesworth in the first place, back when she was assistant to the big boss Bob Wise, and that's just one of several reasons she's such a great friend. To make the occasion a little more incestuous, Rogan (seen at left with Morrissey looking over his shoulder) was in the middle of fact-checking and indexing Remarks Remade this particular week (a job he also performed on Dear Boy), while Who biographer Andy Neil is now working as Chris's assistant. For such a successful company, Music Sales has a reassuring family feel and it's a pleasure to occasionally be part of it.
Thursday May 2:

Reminiscing at RMS: As stated pages above, among the many items retrieved from the attic were the quarter inch masters from the old Jamming! Records days. This gave me opportunity to catch up with both the music and the musicians. A call to Brian Young, formerly of Rudi, to tell him I had cuttings and tapes to send his way. A call to Jaf, former singer of Zeitgeist who recently found me through this website, to tell him I had various Zeitgeist recordings. Jaf offered to meet me at RMS Studios, by the Palace football ground, where I was spending my last afternoon in London getting my Apocalypse tapes transferred to CD. Haven't seen Jaf in fifteen years, at least - though he was looking much the same as always, as the accompanying picture proves. (Like me, he's a dad; it's almost embarrassing how much time is spent exchanging kiddy pics these days.) His attitude towards his former band, most of whom he remains in contact with (former guitarist Corin is now a breaks DJ in Berlin, check him here), was reasurringly positive, and when we played back the 'Ball of Confusion' 12" (which in true Jamming! Records style was released only over two halves of a 7") we agreed not only that it still sounds great, but that it sounds a lot more like the B-52's than we'd realised at the time.

The Apocalypse music brought back its own memories. I too have to recognise that we weren't good enough when and where it mattered - and that we were torn apart as a band by having two songwriters who began pulling in totally different directions just as the stakes were raised. That's why the recording I was most keen to put on CD was the demo we made in Feb 82, when those two main songwriters were still just 17. Polydor had given us two days studio time at The Point in Victoria; I seem to recall us eking 33 studio hours out of that two days, driving the engineer to exhaustion in the process. But I also remember we knew exactly what we wanted, overdub by overdub, track by track, instrument by instrument, and the result still sounds wonderful to me today. (If anyone cares, the songs in question were 'Teddy, 'Going Up In the World,' 'Nobody But Me' and 'Sorry Mate, You're Too Late.')

I also had the 1/4" tapes from our singles sessions, firstly with Weller at the controls ('Teddy'/'Release') and then with Dale Griffin and Overend Watts ('Teddy'/'Home of the Brave'), the former Mott the Hoople rhythm section who were Jamming! house producers for a short while. All that music also holds up well. I would like to have had the EMI demos that landed us our record deal too - the versions of 'Going Up In The World' and 'The Other Side Of Midnight' were superb - but of course the company never let those masters go. My most treasured souvenir from the misspent time on that major label therefore is the royalty statement I found in the attic: £30,000 to record one single (an atrocious, soulless version of 'Going Up In The World' that wasn't a patch on the demo we knocked off in Manchester Square in an afternoon) with maybe £300 royalties recouped against it. That's what you get when you send a bunch of teenagers to the countryside for two weeks with a producer suffering a Trevor Horn complex. When I speak out against signing to a major label just for the sake of it on this web site, believe me, it is from experience.

RMS was also the scene of the funniest interview I ever conducted: a riotous all evening affair with the Damned's Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian for Jamming! 10. Funny to step into the studio now and realise how blissfully provincial it must always have been. The dusty old sofa, the kettle at the ready, the out of tune piano - and a patch board that looked like it was from another millennium. (Which of course, it was: see left.) Most recordings now, even at demo places like this, are straight to digital, and apparently the other half of the bookings are my own kind - transferring tape to CD for posterity. When I clean up the Apocalypse tracks sufficiently - the master tapes had lost a fair amount of clarity after two decades in an attic - I may offer MP3s on this site. Let me know if you're hungry for them.

Jaf was off to the Q magazine White Stripes/von Bondies/Dirtbombs show in Hammersmith and I'd like to have joined him. Instead, my last night in London was spent with Neville - not that I can't see him in New York any old time - and our old mutual friend Dave Newton, and a couple of their own friends. After a week in which I was bemused and unsettled by the mood gripping my home country and continent (the BNP won two council seats in Burnley this very day), this was fortunately a Best of British night out, a totally pleasant reminder of the relentless energy of British youth culture.

We started at the Heavenly Social on Little Portland Street, my first visit to what I had erroneously understood to be a little bar or pub; I didn't realise it was a full-on, two-level enterprise with co-ordinated staff uniforms, a food menu and a cooler than-cool Heavenly jukebox. Jemma Kennedy had invited us along for a friend's birthday shindig, at which the DJ was pounding all the seminal British classics by the Jam, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Oasis - proving that hipsters are just as nostalgic as the rest of us. Over at A.K.A., the bar adjoining the End, Tanya Gerber of E22nd Publicity had her Argentinean Perfecto DJ Herman Cattaneo playing. He was sounding good, the crowd was looking good, the vibe was feeling just fine. Finally, we ended up back at Death Disco, where Jah Wobble had apparently been spinning dub reggae up to the moment we walked in, which would have been a treat for many - though not necessarily this rock-hungry crowd. So for the last hour Danny Watson gave it full on punk necrophilia nostalgia, all at louder than top volume. I know I heard the Pistols and Gen X. But I also heard a track I'd meant to play myself the previous week and hadn't gotten around to: 'Top of the Pops' by the Rezillos.

When looking at the original layout of our Rezillos interview in Jamming! 6 the previous week, I'd been hit with particularly fond memories of seeing the Edinburgh band supported by the Undertones at the Marquee in October/November 1978.Throughout the flight home the next day, and most of the two weeks since, I have been unable to get the song 'Top of The Pops' out of my head. It makes complete sense then that, in the midst of writing this report, I just received news that a reformed, all-original Rezillos line-up will be playing Warsaw in Brooklyn later in June. What goes around comes around. And now, in punk jubilee year, more than ever.



To receive occasional updates on new iJamming! content, send a blank e-mail to

This site is best viewed in Netscape Navigator 4.6 up; it works well in Internet Explorer 5.0; it hasn't been tested on AOL. Please report bugs or bad links to the webmaster

iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2002.
The links about Damilola Taylor all lead to the Independent newspaper, to show a cross-section of reporting and responses from what claims to be the middle ground. You can do your own searches at The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, BBC News, or any other newspaper of supposed record. Back to the story.