Monday, September 29, 2014

Quality Assortment

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Although I have no idea which is which.

"Der Mussolini", by DAF.

After 1990, it was no longer a John Le Carre world. In the last couple of years, though, the world seems to have transformed itself, for better or worse, into a place in which Le Carre seems comfortable to inhabit. (If "comfortable" is the right idea.) We recently travelled to the cinema to watch "A Most Wanted Man", notable for three things: 1. The telling, in necessarily truncated form, of a classic Le Carre story. 2. The final sighting, in a major role, of Philip Seymour Hoffman. As if we needed to be reminded of what we have lost. 3. The unexpected appearance, in a scene shot in a Hamburg bar/nightclub, circa a year or two ago, of this song. Would bars in Hamburg be playing, at volume, a relatively obscure piece of German synth-pop from thirty-odd years previously? (I suppose the sound of cranky, overdriven analog synths has come back of late, through the likes of Factory Floor; but if you are going for old music in a Hamburg setting, wouldn't you have picked some early Beatles? Or maybe it's just a bauble placed there by the film's director, Anton Corbijn, rock photographer par excellence of the era from which this song hails.) Still, I'm not complaining; as you know, it is a song that got its claws into me at an early age.

"Games for Girls", by Say Lou Lou x Lindstrom.

In which Hans-Peter Lindstrom, perhaps best known as the creator of "I Feel Space", the pivotal, if not the best -- and I'm not saying it's not the best -- song of this century so far, tries his hand at a pop song for the masses, in company with the twin daughters of The Church's Steve Kilbey (you couldn't make this up). And it would be hard to say that it's not an instant winner. Just in time for the (southern) summer, too.

"All You Need Is Love", by Echo & The Bunnymen.

Around the time of "Ocean Rain", Echo & The Bunnymen appeared live on the telly to play a number of songs, in a stripped-down, laid-back style, with McCulloch sounding like he hadn't quite gotten warmed up yet. Here they pay homage to Lennon and McCartney. Stick around for the second half of the song, where McCulloch riffs on songs old and new, seemingly singing whatever comes into his head, from Teardrop Explodes to Dylan to James Brown.

"Julie Ocean", by The Undertones.

The thing that was repeated time and again after the death of John Peel, so often that it has been accepted as fact, was that "Teenage Kicks", by The Undertones, was his favourite song. Now, far be it from me to pick a fight with the ghost of the great man, but if you were to ask me, I would say that "Teenage Kicks", great and all as it is, is not the best song ever. It's not even the best Undertones song. That would be "Julie Ocean", seen here in its superior, seven-inch version. It gets me every time.