Saturday, August 30, 2008

R.I.P. Geoffrey Perkins

I've been saddened to hear news of Geoffrey Perkins' death. He had a hand in most of the best comedy programmes of the past twenty years; "Harry Enfield's Television Programme", "Father Ted", "KYTV", "The Fast Show", "The League of Gentlemen"...the list goes on. A sad loss.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Irritating, Maybe. But Homophobic? I'm Not Convinced...

If you’ve been living in a ditch, or are a “proper music” bore and believe that pop music is beneath you, then it may have escaped your attention that Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” has thus far spent three weeks at number one in the UK. I quite like the single I must say, but not everyone will agree. In recent weeks the song has been played constantly on daytime radio, on MTV Hits and The Box, in supermarkets, in clothes shops, in cars and bars - and nobody likes an overexposed pop song. What’s more, “I Kissed A Girl” has prompted accusations of homophobia. The song may be irritating, the video may play up to every Zoo magazine lesbo-fantasy in the book, but is it really homophobic? I think this is pushing things a bit.

The phrase “lipstick lesbianism” has become quite the popular alliterative put-down of choice over the past decade or so. I dislike the phrase, because of its snotty undertones, but I’m talking about girls who are to all outward appearances “straight” (as if outward appearances count for anything in the world of sexuality), publicly snogging other girls for whatever reason - expressed or otherwise. Perhaps it is fair to attack public girly snogs, if such displays merely exist for the voyeuristic pleasure of blokes. That’s already to make a bit of an assumption, I’d say. Maybe it is just attention-seeking, but is it homophobic? What is the point of protest? It does all seem to spin on the idea that there is such a thing as a “proper lesbian”. This single isn’t pushing the sort of ideas Luce Irigaray espouses, I’ll grant you. The singer of “I Kissed A Girl” does add “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”, and wakes up in bed beside the chap at the end of the video, in true secondary-school essay “It was all a dream!” style. For some people all of this will scream “I’m not gay by the way!” But I’m sure we all know plently of people who have “experimented” with members of their own gender, and who don’t feel the need to label themselves as “gay”, “straight” or “bi” or any other category. The line “it felt so wrong/ It felt so right/ Don’t mean I’m in love tonight” also seems harmless enough to me. It’s flighty and cheeky, kissing as harmless fun. That’s all the “lipstick lesbian” phenomenon is. I don’t believe it makes life more difficult for LGTB people. I think the real bone of contention is that some straight men are turned on by lesbian fantasies (always involving very feminine looking lesbians natch). So it involves the sexual objectification of women - is it misogynistic? Just about any hetero-male fantasy is going to be misogynistic by that account - unless you get your kicks out of thinking about the sufragette movement or by reading “The Female Eunuch”. Isn’t the area of sexual drives, fetishism and fantasy always going to be dark and unsettling to some degree? Or am I just a perv?

The accusations of homophobia against “I Kissed A Girl” smack of a new puritanism to me. Perry’s previous single was of course a thing called “Ur So Gay” (”gay” having become a synonym for “lame” or “naff”). You could chart the etymology of the word like you can a single climbing or sliding down the pop charts. The “Brights” movement, a bunch of people who champion what they call reason over what they call superstition (and for these people this includes religion), and involving Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett among others, has sought to claim the word “bright” in much the same way that homosexuals adopted the word “gay” in the last century. Again, I am not conviced that even “Ur So Gay” is really homophobic. The argument is an interesting one and I’m open to it, but if you want to convince me that the use of such phrases is homophobic, then we’ll have to get into the intentionality behind it. I suspect that Katy Perry’s religious (Christian) upbringing has a lot to do with how people hear her recent singles. But I think a point is being missed. “Lipstick lesbianism” is a cultural phenomenon. There is a song about it. It doesn’t go any deeper than that.

Mind you, if her next single is a collaboration with Beenie Man, it might be time to worry. (But stranger things have happened - according to Planet Sound Roots Manuva and James Blunt are about to record together. This is great news, if only because it’ll force the “James Blunt, anyone?” brigade to think for a change.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bring Back The Chart Show! (But Do It Properly!)

It's Saturday morning, I'm perusing YouTube for interesting music videos. I'm doing this despite a hangover. In the old days I could have had a TV-based computerised video jukebox do this awkward task for me. It was called The Chart Show and it was utterly brilliant.

Exhibit A:

It started out on Channel 4 back in the autumn of 1986, when it was transmitted at 6pm on Fridays. From January 1989 it became The ITV Chart Show and was broadcast at 11.30am. This is the slot it will perhaps be best remembered for. The Chart Show's genius move was to show rather left-field music videos side by side with the Top 10 at the one time of the week when kids were sure to be paying attention. I've very fond memories of the show; the useless trivia that would appear on screen during a song's instrumental break, the gimmicky videotape spooling where it would fast forward and rewind through the charts. It always seemd to tantalisingly by-pass a song you'd love in favour of something utterly ghastly by Jive Bunny. And then there was The Indie Chart. This was where your parents would become acquainted with the phrases "Half Man Half Biscuit", "Red Lorry Yellow Lorry" and "Alien Sex Fiend". Lots of the bands hadn't thought (or cared) to make a video for their indie "hit", so a still photo of them would have to suffice instead. Sometimes a band would create a DIY vid just to get airtime on The Chart Show on a Saturday morning. The specialist charts (Indie, Dance, Rock - and for a brief period Reggae) were invariably fascinating.

Exhibit B:

I'd honestly love to see The Chart Show return. Now that 4Music is up and running on digital I don't see why they shouldn't do it there. Get Video Visuals back in to produce it, base it on the 1989-1995 era ITV Chart Show (no band interviews, competitions or phone votes which ruined the revamped version from 1996 onwards). You can find this week's Indie, Dance and Rock Top 10s among the links on this rather garish web page.

Exhibit C:

It's worth a go, don't you think?

Edit: Further to 23Daves' comment below, a revamped version of The Chart Show can be seen here. But be warned, it is piss-poor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Young, Dumb 'n' Full of Hum

I really like Eurodance; the "Eurocheese" of the Cappella, 2 Unlimited, Motiv-8, Jam and Spoon variety. A lot of that music has a melancholy about it which is underappreciated I think. It’s something in those chords. It’s that gay pop aesthetic: uplifting, defiant lyrics married to plangeant melodies. The throbbing electro pulse that makes the best synthpop so irresistible. 2 Unlimited’s “No One” was their first attempt at a mid tempo pop song, a sort of gentle cod-reggae thing, but it only got to number 17 in late 1994. I thought it was really good, but hey-ho. Corona’s “The Rhythm Of The Night”, Culture Beat’s “Mr Vain”, Motiv 8’s “Rockin’ For Myself”, even Toni Di Bart’s “The Real Thing” - I love it all, it feels like a bit of a golden age to me now. At it’s worst the scene gave us the novelty likes of Whigfield’s “Saturday Night” or Scatman John’s “Scatman”. But big deal, I’d take that over The Verve any day.

Ray Slijngaard and Anita Dels were great pop stars. "Technotechnotechnotechno", that was his catchphrase. 2 Unlimited's "Greatest Hits" compilation is surprisingly brilliant. It is of course, completely stupid. It does contain a string of massive hit singles, many of which my friends struggle to remember. When I manage to locate my copy of said album, I'll upload some tracks from it here. Capella also had a string of hits, but mostly this scene was made up of one-hit or two-hit wonders like The Real McCoy, Haddaway ("What Is Love" is an absolute corker - 9,195,416 viewers on YouTube can't be wrong), and Urban Cookie Collective. The whole thing went stellar when Rollo, the bloke behind Felix's "Don't you Want Me" - a pancontinental smash in 1992 - formed Faithless and released the excellent (no, really it is) "Reverence" album in 1996. "Insomnia" engulfed the world and big bombastic superclub house became inescapable. With "Big Beat" (which personally I tended to find rather grim and joyless) also enjoying enormous popularity in the late 90s, Europop ducked under the radar in terms of the popular consciousness, but it never went away as early 00s hits like Fragma's "Toca's Miracle", iio's "Rapture" and DB Boulevard's "Point Of View" prove.

This music is vibrant and youthful. You don't need to take drugs to this, this stuff is fuelled by fizzy drinks and at most a bit of alcopop (very 1996, that). It follows the lineage from Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder through Telex, Human League, DAF, Propaganda, Pet Shop Boys and The KLF to Bizarre Inc and their production line kind. Its presence is still felt in the charts today, it is in the aching atmosphere of downtempo house, the Bealearic influence on people like Cut Copy, in the electro-rush of Xenomania's output (Brian Higgins was a member of the Motiv 8 production collective) and it is also in the idiot noise produced by German techno-ARSES, Scooter. But you can't have everything. "Viva Europop 96!" is, as the title might suggest, a great compilation of this Euro stuff. Here are some tracks from it (AAC files will have to do for now, I'll come back and change them to mp3s if i get any requests to do so)...

Corona "The Rhythm Of The Night"
Jam and Spoon "Right In The Night"
Tony Di Bart "The Real Thing"
Urban Cookie Collective "The Key, The Secret"
2 Unlimited "No Limit"
Clock "Whoomph (There It Is)"
Cappella "U Got 2 Let The Music"
Motiv 8 "Rockin' For Myself"

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Film Will Make You Happy*

"Happy-Go-Lucky", the latest film by Mike Leigh, is released on DVD today. Fuelled by positive reviews and pre-release hype, I rushed to see it on its debut in the cinema back in April and wasn't disappointed. It's the best film I've seen in years. Can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much at the cinema. I don't want to spoil the plot but it's a good kind-hearted, joyous, ethical sort of film about an almost supernaturally upbeat and happy primary school teacher called Poppy (Sally Hawkins) who lives in North London and the effect she has on the lives of the people around her - her sisters, her best friend and most entertainingly of all, her driving instructor (who is quite hilariously portrayed by Eddie Marsan). The film is a bit like "Amelie" in some ways, but if feels more real and less fantastical. I think Poppy is a great character; alert, aware, nobody's fool, and for all her chipper, sunny demeanour she has a wisdom and insight about her which is an enviable as her cheery outlook on life. Check out the rather strange, apparently interpolated scene where she encounters an Irish vagabond on some wasteland to see what I mean. That's a wonderful psychological rendering of the character and really elevates the film above mere corn. There's a sort of "dark underbelly" (clichéd film crit-speak ahoy!) to it all too. I won't add any spoilers at this point, and I'm not sure how to write about films without giving the game away...

Mike Leigh has a reputation for making grim dramas, but I've always thought he's a great director. "Abigail's Party" was a genuinely great piece of television. I finally got to see it last year when it was shown on BBC4 on the thirtieth anniversary of the original broadcast. It's well worth grabbing that DVD whenever you can also.

There's a short interview with Mike Leigh and Sally Hawkins here.

*Well, not necessarily. Some people find its lead character annoying. I don't get that from the film at all, though.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let Me Take You There

Goldmine Trash is on its hols at the moment, but will be back on Monday. In the meantime here's something summery and marvellous from Betty Boo. Mashing up The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" and The Four Tops' "It's All In The Game". Pure pop bliss.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Love The Saturdays

A: If This Is Love
B: What Am I Gonna Do

Buying physical singles can be a bit of a struggle in Dublin these days. HMV Grafton Street only seem to stock the Irish Top 16 (?), and a few vinyl 7" which tend to be old stock they can't get rid of. So yesterday I had to scour Dublin's city centre for a copy of the debut single by The Saturdays. It's called "If This Is Love" and it is ace. Admittedly this might be down to the fact that musically it is entirely based on Yazoo's ultra-ace "Situation". It sounds great even through the crappy €15 earphones I had to buy for myself yesterday when my usual ones packed up.

They're not very famous yet, The Saturdays. A Google Image search for them throws up pics of Girls Aloud and Sam Sparro, but not a decent pic of The Saturdays themselves. They have toured as support to Girls Aloud though, and they have been a presence on daytime TV in recent weeks. There is also a lengthy thread about them on the Popjustice forums, but I'm not sure how accurate a gague of their popularity that actually is. They're signed to Fascination which is Girls Aloud's label and which was set up as a sort of "pop" counterpart to the revived Fiction imprint. In the end I managed to find one copy of the single in HMV Henry Street. I'm in two minds as to whether to upload it now. I want you all to go out and buy it, thereby sending it up the charts. But even if you wanted to you wouldn't be able to find it as I seem to have the only copy! And besides you can probably download it from iTunes or something. A combination of no credit card and no computer literacy precludes me from using such internet services. Also I like to leave my house and browse in record shops for a while returning home with a record I can hold in my hand. Pop has never been just about the music (maaaan!), it's the artwork, the gentle whir of the CD in the CD player, the sight of the stylus hitting the vinyl. I suspect I'm the last man on earth who still buys CD singles? I've bought a few singles this year, some of them have been 7"; Goldfrapp's "A&E", "Happiness" and "Caravan Girl", Sam Sparro's "Black and Gold", Mystery Jets' "Two Doors Down", Girls Aloud's "Can't Speak French", Annie's "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me", The Long Blondes' "Century"...I can't remember what else.

At the risk of finding out just how few people read my blog, I thought I'd ask any of you readers what the last single you bought was? Leave your answers and other comments in the comments section below.

P.S. The downloads I've provided are AAC files this time, sorry if that's inconvenient for anyone.

The Saturdays' Official Site

Well It Made Me Chuckle...

Today I saw a CD on sale in Tower which was by Chaotic Dischord. Can't tell you whether they're good or crap (although to be honest I suspect the latter, call me a snob...), but the song titles on their album made me chuckle. They're an anarcho-punk band, and they take no prisoners Grandad!. They have songs called ""Fuck Off Ripcord", "Still Fuckin' Dying" and "Cunt Rock". So far so dreary. But the one that cracked me up was called... "We're Fuckin' Glad The Smiths Split Up".

That's just unnecessary.

If you must...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Noughties But Nice

Yesterday I whiled away an afternoon by looking up some of my favourite singles from the last 10 years on YouTube. Year by year, here are some of the videos I chose...

1999: Pizzicato Five "Weekend"

2000: Sugababes "Overload"

2001: The Ones "Flawless"

2002: DB Boulevard "Point Of View"

2003: Richard X featuring Kelis "Finest Dreams"

2004: Girls Aloud "The Show"

2005: Rachel Stevens "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)"

2006: Goldfrapp "Ride A White Horse"

2007: Groove Armada featuring Mutya Buena "Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)"

2008: Rihanna "Disturbia"

So I think it's fair to say that I'm into ultra-camp synth-disco.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Max. Headfuckery

I'm planning a post soon on "disturbing moments in pop and rock", but while I prepare that one I thought I'd mention that I have re-posted the article on Numbers Stations which features in the current issue of Analogue, and I've inserted some new bits into the text too. Hey, it's Goldmine Trash Edit News! In the post I mention "Threads", but another brilliantly disturbing broadcast is what was known as The Max Headroom Pirating Incident. some of our older readers will remember Max Headroom from his mid 80s prime-time show on the infant Channel 4, or from his Art of Noise collaboration "Paranoimia" (which was a bit shite to be honest). The aforementioned "incident" occured during a showing of Doctor Who (spooky already huh?) at about 11 pm one evening in November 1987. Some bloke (nobody knows who) managed to climb up the Sears tower in Chicago, jam the signal which was broadcasting WTTV Chicago across the region, and broadcast his own bizarre and creepy cryptic messages whilst dressed as Max Headroom (no one knows why). Again, the myth and mystery of the event makes this compelling viewing. The thing that gets me is: the bloke could have broadcast ANYTHING. He could have said anything he wanted to say. He could have dissed a few people he disliked or demanded ransom money. But instead...well have a look for yourself.

Isn't that strangely, grippingly brilliant? Or is it just me?

A similar incident happened on ITV back in the late 70s when someone jammed their signal and managed to transmit audio over the news. In this case, the scammer claimed to be an alien broadcasting a message to say that he was watching mankind and that if we didn't give up our warring ways we'd be in trouble (or something). Imagine watching telly some tea-time in 1978 and that happens! I'd have crapped myself! Because I was only six months old. But even if I had been an adult I would have been a bit worried I can tell you. It's referred to as the Vrillon incident and you can find that here. When I heard about these incidents I became quite hooked. In Poland in the mid 80s, Lech Walesa's "Solidarnos" movement jammed the national TV to transmit messages to the general public, you can find that here.

Talking of disturbing TV broadcasts, I often like to imagine myself as a youngster up late at night watching MTV in the early 80s when they used to broadcast videos by The Residents. The Residents were, and still are, off their heads. Sorry, make that "eyeballs"... I'll be posting something about their brilliant 1980 album "The Commercial Album" in a day or two but in the meantime watch this, it's the music video which accompanied the album's release and features 4 - four! - of that LPs songs (every song on the album last for just a minute) in one neat package. Every bit as creepy and weird as you'd want it to be...

By the way...Rihanna's new single is called "Disturbia", but it's not disturbing at all, it's just brilliant in the way that Rihanna usually is when she's not attempting a drippy love song.

Orlando "Passive Soul" (1997)

1. Introduction
2. Furthest Point Away
3. Just For A Second
4. Natures Hated
5. On Dry Land
6. Contained
7. Afraid Again
8. Happily Unhappy
9. Don't Sleep Alone
10. Save Yourself
11. Three Letters
12. Here (So Find Me)/ Hero

This album clearly has lapsed into some sort of obscurity - I couldn't find a decent shot of the cover on Google's Image search. Time to get the digital camera out again...

As was the case with InAura, this album came out looooooong after the Romo bubble had burst. This was released in the summer of 1997, by which time I'd almost completely forgotten about Orlando. They had released a single, "The Magic EP" in 1996 which was slagged off quite mercilessly in Select Magazine by guest reviewers The Future Sound of London. I still haven't forgiven FSOL for that. Being the loyal chap that I am, I bought this LP as soon as it appeared, and privately hoped that its tardy appearance on the Blanco Y Negro label was a sign that Orlando had outlived Romo and could do well despite their connection to the much-ridiculed scene. Yeah, right...

Ok, this album is not brilliant, but it has its moments. As was the case with the Romo scene that spawned them, I wanted to like it more than I ever actually could like it. Like, the CD case carried a list of Orlando's inspirations and they were all stupendously laudable; Dexys "Let's Make This Precious", Shena Mackay, The Style Council, Shoot 'N' Surf Internet Cafe, Stanislavski, "God Is In The Details", My So-Called Life, The Supremes, The Night of May 1st 1997..." The sleeve art contained reproductions of the duo's school reports and photos by PSB zapper Eric Watson. The best track on the album was produced by Alan Tarney, the man behind brilliant singles by A-ha, Cliff Richard ("We Don't Talk Anymore", "Carrie"), Pulp ("Disco 2000") and even Barbara Dixon ("January"). So one senses that this could have been so much better, if it had had a bigger budget maybe, or if they had struck while the iron was hot.

A quick history lesson for those that don't know... Orlando were Tim Chipping and Dickon Edwards. For a brief time they were the kind of band who got mentioned in the lonely hearts/pen pal column in Select ("19 year old wallflower seeks like-minded types for gigs and drinks, into Manics, Pulp, Orlando, Kenickie..."), and they still seem to be held in fond regard by sentimental music fans on messageboards here and there. Since the end of Orlando, Tim has appeared as a cameo in "Shaun Of The Dead" and Dickon has written about pop culture on the website (don't look for it, it's not there anymore). But it is perhaps for "Passive Soul", that they are best remembered.

It starts off with a short excerpt from socialist anthem "The Red Flag", before hurtling into the stomping Northern sounding "Furthest Point Away". It's part Dexys and part Style Council but I must admit that I think now, as I did then, that it sounds a bit rushed and shoddy. It's with the Tarney-aided "Just For A Second" that my ears really prick up - the track is an absolute stormer. Some great lyrics too: "Deep down I fear I might actually be...unremarkable!" - they're clearly aiming for a Kevin Rowland-esque mixture of ambition and insecurity there. A great single and it's a bit of a tragedy that it wasn't a hit. As for the rest of the album...well the best bits sound like Orlando's attempts at recreating their heroes' best bits. The Style Council's "Changing of the Guard" on "On Dry Land", Culture Club-meet-The Associates on "Happily Unhappy", Jimmy Webb's work for Glen Campbell on "Don't Sleep Alone". It's all ok, but difficult to rave about. That said, it's a shame they didn't get a second crack at the whip. Worth a listen.

Wherefore Art Thou, Romo?

For about five seconds towards the end of 1995, Romo flourished. It was, in effect, a revival of New Romantic or New Pop ideas but its advocates preferred to talk of it as a renaissance (as "revival" had connotations of grey lad-rock and fag-end britpop: things which Romo was very much supposed to be the antidote to). I wanted Romo to succeed, believe me. Certainly by 1996 the occasionally brilliant indie-pop explosion of the previous three years had turned into something much more pedestrian, much duller and more in thrall to the history of rawk. Bands like Ocean Colour Scene and Cast epitomised this dish-water dull attitude towards pop. It was conservative, priggish and earnest. Awful rockist notions of authenticity and soul held sway and it was from this point on that brit-pop's more open-minded tendencies started to have less and less influence over chart pop. The panoramic, widescreen pop of "The Great Escape", "Different Class" and "Giant Steps" showed that at its best mid 90s English pop could scale the heights set in the early 80s by people like ABC, The Associates and Scritti Politti. The best of the Romos understood that. Orlando for example loved Richey Edwards period Manic Street Preachers as much as they did the Human League. They wanted to be the biggest pop group of the late 90s, one which fused literate, (dare-I-say-it) intellectual references with the pure rush of classic Motown, disco and synth pop. So yes, towards the end of 1995 I would have been a willing convert to this happening, gloriously witty scene.

And then I heard the records. Seriously, the disappointment of hearing the free cover-mounted Romo tape which Melody Maker gave away in March 1996 stays with me to this day. I'm listening to it now; Holywood, Dexdexter, Plastic Fantastic...the names are great, but the music is utterly abysmal. Cheap-sounding, badly recorded, predictable and tuneless nonsense the lot of it. Romo really died with it. Within weeks Simon Price - who up to this point had been (along with Taylor Parkes) Romo's biggest champion - wrote the movement's obituary in the "Viewpoint" section on MM's letters page. But the Romo issue of Melody Maker is a riot. Many people, including myself, believe that this represented another nail in that music weekly's coffin. It is a pity things worked out that way because it was a brave thing to do, to put the motley crew you see above on the front of Melody Maker at the height of Britpop, in a week when Blur, PJ Harvey and David Bowie were vying for space in its inner pages. Among the highlights of the issue's 8 page Romo extravaganza are the interviews with Sexus ("I stood behind Jason Orange [out of Take That] in Holland & Barrett recently. For quite a while. It's kept me going for months."), Plastic Fantastic ("You can tell if a place is the right place, if you've got a free cocktail in either hand...") and best of all Orlando ("Our attitude towards other groups isn't one of malice. It's one of disappointment"). The movement's manifesto - or Romanifesto - is full of great throwaway lines too. Here are some of my favourites:

"Romo is, correct, élitist. But we are talking about a particularly democratic form of élitisim. Anyone can reinvent themselves. We can't help it if most are too dull to try."

"Romo is always believing you are gold."

"Romo is tearing open the map of Europa, our frontierless homeland, and gazing with romantic fascination at the place names: Valencia, Sorrento, Praha, Hammerfest, Zurich, Sarajevo, Arkhangelsk, London."

"Romo is the word, and shall be. Like 'dada': two simple syllables. Ro-mo. Romantic, Modernist."

"Romo is la nouvelle belle époque. Romo is hurtling into this fin of the siécle to fin all siecles with but one imperative: dance, for tomorrow, we die."

The main groups who feature in the piece are (in order of appearance); Orlando, Minty, Viva, Hollywood, Plastic Fantastic, Sexus, Add N To X, Boutique, Nancy Boy, Elizabeth Bunny, Factor Max, Brattish, InAura, Romania, Six Finger Satellite, Sin With Sebastian and System Addict. There follows a list of bands they suggest they didn't have room to include, but I'm convinced most of these are made-up; Universe, Ballroom, Crescendo, Glamour, Lucy Can Can, Glasshouse, Pleasurehead, Nightporter, The Heart That Glows, Port Sunlight, De Milo, I Dream Of Wires, White Trash, Designer, Synth SFX, Subaqwa, Silky and Aura. I mean, come on - "The Heart That Glows"? For fuck's sake...

Romo was of course largely the brainchild of Simon Price (author of a brilliant Manic Street Preachers biog and who now writes for The Independent) and Taylor Parkes who were always my favourite Melody Maker journos. Week in, week out, Parkes and Price would champion only the most NOW pop groups; TLC, Earl Brutus, Tricky, Kenickie, Pulp for example. It is because of them that for a brief time in the mid to late 90s Melody Maker was actually far better than NME (really after Danny Kelly, Stuart Maconie, Andrew Collins, Steve Lamacq and David Quantick had jumped ship). Romo - far from launching a new wave of freakish, effeminate, plastic pop stars to stardom - was really their big moment.

It is almost all complete and utter piffle. And I love(d) it.

My friend 23 Daves has a great post about InAura on his blog "Left and to the Back". InAura were lumped in with the Romo crowd and the infamous MM Romo article has this to say about them: "Impertinently young, indecently pretty, InAura swagger with potential. Hardly surprising, given their cold-glittering cocktail of Suede/Bowie flashboyisms, lavish Depeche/Duran sweep, PSB undercurrents, cocksure riffola and plain old greed. Factor in singer Matt Carey's petulant, feline charisma and the mutant keyboard scapes of Magazine vet Dave Formula, and you'll be gagging for it." Their album "One Million Smiles" does contain a couple of great tracks in singles "Coma Aroma", the grandiose "This Month's Epic" (which sounds like Primal Scream on a good day) and the brill Duran-esque "Soap Opera". I saw the vid for that on The Chart Show at the time, and you can find it here now. So some Romo music was good. I should also mention Sexus' single "The Official End Of It All" which was just ace. A post about Orlando follows...