Sunday, March 27, 2022

V4 Visions

I was invited to write a liner note for a compilation of South London label V4 Visions, who operated at the confluence of sound system soul, house, jungle, and swingbeat, releasing a compact but lustrous body of work across only a few years of the early '90s, which has now received the deluxe reissue treatment from Numero Group

It was a really fun and interesting assignment, as the biographical arcs and journeys-through-music of the collective's core four (Alex Palmer, Chris Forbes, Nick Austin, Julian Ashaye) transected just about every significant Black British sound + scene from the late '70s through to the '90s: lover's rock, jazz-funk, street soul, hip hop, funki dred, pirate radio, reggae sound systems,  you name it.  I'm not sure if they took me up on it, but I did suggest a map might be a useful supplement to the text, given the profusion of bygone club locations mentioned as well as specific neighbourhoods of London. I was surprised also by just how many famous-to-be names the V4 Visions boys rubbed shoulders with back in the day.  


The anthology - V4 Visions: Of Love & Androids - is out now and you can hear the tunes at the Numero Group bandcamp, where it is also purchasable in digital form. The vinyl edition is still available at the Numero Group website

Monday, March 21, 2022

"and I'm screaming next to you"

I had a great time chatting with David Stubbs and Jim Irvin for Jim's podcast You're Not On The List. The concept is "undervalued albums" - I went for Ian Dury & The Blockheads's Do It Yourself, Stubbs surprised me with his choice of the debut Comsat Angels as opposed to something mail-ordered from the Recommended catalogue, and Jim plumped for Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls. But discussion roamed beyond the prompts, taking in pretentious teenage music-fiends, the care and upkeep (or not-keep) of vinyl, "working" for a weekly music paper in the late '80s, and more. 

You can hear / download it direct from Jim's website or stream via  Apple or Spotify

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Enter Carducci

LA-people! This coming Sunday evening I'm doing an event with Joe Carducci of Rock and the Pop Narcotic / Enter Naomi renown at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park. We'll be chatting about "the tangled music cultures of Britain and America circa 1976-86 and the Rough Trade and SST scene" - punk, postpunk, New Wave, hardcore, DIY etc. 

Admission: free

Time: 7pm 

Date: Sunday, March 20, 2022 

Location: the open-air patio in back of Stories Books & Cafe, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. 

Further info: (213) 413-3733 and

Carducci is also the special guest on the next Rocks Back Pages Podcast, which airs on Monday 21st of this month. More information at RBP pod central

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

put a finger on the weird

Epic essay-post about Mark E. Smith from Matthew Ingram at Woebot

It's titled Hip Priest and is tied into Matt's ongoing research into spirituality and the counterculture, with prisms such as psychedelics, mental illness, the paranormal, and mysticism applied to the work. A mighty meaty read. 

Funnily enough I was toying with writing something about The Fall, but from a completely other angle. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

RIP Timmy Thomas


Wonderful song. And with a minimalist sound that still startles with its skeletal spareness. The drum machine and organ combo almost makes it a soul Suicide. 

I had "Why Can't We Live Together" on this K-Tel compilation - not in 1973, though, when I would have been nine or ten - but some years later. 

I had this one and all

Good value, this series, if you weren't fussy about hi-fi (12 tracks crammed on each side!) - and even more so when I picked them up second-hand for a quid each. 

On Superbad, the track just before the Timmy Thomas is another one I loved - Cymande's "The Message".  (Who I saw several years ago play in LA.) 

Energy Flashbacks

 For a bunch of months now, podcasters Nate Wilcox and Ryan Harkness have been doing this epic trek through Energy Flash, a chapter per week. It's the latest season of an ongoing series called Techno-Roll  (the name comes from the parent podcast Let It Roll). The previous candidate for in-depth extended discussion was Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Later on they'll be doing Kit Mackintosh's Neon Screams

As a capper to the Energy Flash season, I had a fun chat with Nate and Ryan - about how the book came to be, my approach and slant, etc -  which you can hear here and here.  

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The Totality (For Kids)

Feels unseemly to direct attention to something I've written, as we all teeter on the precipice... but here goes: a while ago, I wrote a piece on Malcolm McLaren, Sex Pistols, Situationism, punk, the notion of cultural terrorism, etc etc, for the London Review of Books,  at insane length. Which LRB expertly condensed to half its size and has now published.  It is loosely - very loosely - tethered to Paul Gorman's equally enormous biography of McLaren. 

Of course, my author's eyes see all the things missing, but no doubt, to anyone sane and impartial, it's  vastly improved by being streamlined. I expect someday I'll make the full monster available.