Some of my favourite films:
The Wicker Man
I absolutely love this! I've even recorded a song from its soundtrack on my new album. It's a beautiful, mysterious, jarring film - a real cult classic. I even got the chance to see it at the cinema recently at a 'Director's Chair' presentation in Maidenhead. Christopher Lee revealed it's his favourite film of his vast CV - and it's easy to see why.
A film that's just so full of atmosphere (& a strange collision of cultures) as the prim-looking brother & sister are left stranded in the Australian outback after their father's sudden suicide. Stunningly photographed & produced, & very understated & thought-provoking. Not to mention of course the charms of the wonderful Jenny Agutter...!
Monty Python's Life of Brian
The pinnacle of Monty Python - so many classic one-liners! Sam loves it too - he's always quoting from it! It still looks superb now too, & seems to have even increased its popularity over the years. My mum was a big fan of Terry Jones - seen unforgettably here of course as Brian's mother. I never get tired of watching this - & I've seen it a few times now!
Some Like it Hot
Just the most wonderful way to remember the god-like Marilyn Monroe! Very, very funny - especially Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis in drag. It flags a bit towards the end, but it's a super film, & Marilyn's definitive role I think - & even includes her sparkling performance of the song 'I Wanna be loved by You'.
I remember watching this film when I was very, very young, & thoroughly enjoying it - & I never knew for years what it was called! This is the classic 60s espionage thriller starring Audrey Hepburn & Carey Crant - his last movie before he retired, I believe. I've not seen it for years now, but I have the DVD (one of those free ones you get with the Sunday papers), so one day soon I'll sit down & watch it again & give myself a real treat.
Theatre of Blood
Classic early 70s spoofy British horror movie starring Vincent Price, & a whole host of famous guest-stars. Price gets to overact wonderfully (sending himself up really I guess) as one by one he takes spectacular revenge (in some extremely over the top & bloodthirsty ways!) on the critics he blames for destroying his career.
Planet of the Apes
Amazingly strange & original 60s science-fiction - & based on the book by French novelist Pierre Boule. The make-up is superb, & the ending makes you gasp. What a pity we had to suffer an uneccessary & awful remake - & even the Wicker Man has suffered from the Hollywood bas**rdization treatment recently too.
I absolutely love this film! I saw it as a kid, & it's another one that for years I didn't even know what it was called. It has that excellent early 70s atmosphere that only British thriller films of that period created - I just love anything from that era. Very reminiscent of the 'Thriller' TV series that was showing on Saturday nights around this time too. The tension between the man on the run in his stolen Austin Maxi (Simon Williams) & his seemingly unwitting female hitchiker (Hayley Mills at her sublime best) is compellingly played out. And what an ending!
The Italian Job
Just superb! The classic heist movie with a twist. I loved the Mini car chase when I was a kid! Michael Caine at his deadpan best too. And another awful remake!
From Beyond the Grave
I loved all the Amicus compendium horror films - but this one has to be my favourite of this genre. Myself & my brother loved it when we were kids. Donald Pleasence is superb - & (of many highlights), the evil mirror is cool!
Being John Malkovich
Just one of the maddest films I've ever seen! A secret portal in a building leads whoever walks through it into the head of actor John Malkovich, to see the world through his eyes... that's it, basically!
Crazy English early 70s supernatural biker-movie - the first 10 minutes are one of my favourite things in a film ever. I loved it in those post-hippy days when they referred to the police as 'the Fuzz'! Completely preposterous, hilariously dated & a film that could sadly never be made now.
The adventures of Chucky, the (seemingly indestructible) devil doll. I actually saw Child's Play 2 first - surprising starring Jenny Agutter with a rather good American accent. This is the original, & just a what a classic horror film should be, scary - but at the same time spoofy too.
The Amazing Mr Blunden
This was my favourite film for literally years! A sort of sequel to 'The Railway Children', which Sam & I have renamed 'The Ghost Children' (why didn't they call it that in the first place?). Just fantastic stuff - & the resemblance of the old derelict mansion in the story to the Canadian Red X Hospital was something Sam loved! Excellent music score from Elmer Bernstein (& a very scary Diana Dors) are just two of the delights of this superb family film - recently released on DVD.
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
Just reminds me so much of when my brother & I were kids, staying up watching dodgy British 'horror' movies thinking they were really scary... Christopher Lee though IS Dracula! Lots of horse rides and villagers with funny accents roaming around Black Park (near Slough) suitably darkened in the lab so that daytime footage becomes night-time. We loved all the Hammer Dracula films, but this has to be our favourite.
(Any) Laurel & Hardy
Just the funniest guys ever. Sam loves them too - it just shows that their humour never dates. So many classics, its impossible to pick one, though I particularly like 'Sons of the Desert'.
Ice Cold in Alex
I remember seeing this as a kid, & just loving the atmosphere really - & the tension & unexpected twists along the way. Also the most famous lager-drinking scene in movie history! A true cinema classic, Sylvia Sims looks gorgeous, & John Mills at his British 'stiff upper lip' best.
I was terrified by this when I was a kid! But a really classic film - following the theme started with the earlier 'The Exorcist' I guess. Great cast too. I loved the idea of satan's son as child... it's a pity they made sequels where you see him grow up, & somehow he becomes a lot less sinister than he was as a child. Some really good set-pieces too, & great atmospheric music.
T2's my favourite, but they're all brilliant. Just the best thing Arnie ever did. Talk to the HAND!
Excellent British-made 80s horror film, & very well-received at the time. Myself & my brother loved the line: 'your suffering in hell will be LEGENDARY!'!
28 Days Later
Quite a recent one this! Taking its cue from Day of the Triffids/Dr Who/Survivors, it certainly updates the genre. It's always compelling to see central London completely deserted, with the cause being an unexplained terror lurking not too far away...
Sean of the Dead
Another recent one - & another British-made film. Very witty & satarical, & had me in stitches at the cinema. In case of trouble from marauding zombies... just barricade yourself in the nearest pub!
I only saw this recently for the first time. Powerful, gritty, & shocking stuff as Robert DeNiro's unstable ex-Vietnam soldier cab-driving character is pushed over the edge by what he experiences on the mean-streets of New York. An early example of the brilliance of director Martin Scorcese.
A near perfect film - & I feel the best of its genre so far. It is obviously CGI, but the characters seem very real & are put in real peril, & the set-pieces & effects take your breath away. Very clever, & unmissable!
Team America: World Police
Only came out in 2005 in the UK, but an instant classic. One of the funniest films I've seen for years. It's basically a spoof of Thunderbirds, with remarkably good marionettes looking uncannily like the originals - though this is definitely more adult-orientated! I can't recommend this film enough. Sam loved it too - he didn't realize I'd seen it at the cinema!
Some of my favourite (old!) TV shows:
This is my all-time favourite! Recently released in a boxed-set DVD too. I remember being frightened to death on Saturday nights when I was a kid watching this. It was an anthology series of single thriller stories (each lasting about 1 hour 10 mins) shown between 1973 & 76 , many scripted by Brian Clemens - following on from his success with The Avengers. Fantastic creepy music, & excellent writing - so many unexpected plot twists & genuine frights. If only TV shows were half this good now. There was a real jolt just when the advert breaks came on - with a crashing music sting & that fab fish-eye caption! Check out also the informative & definitive Thriller website - hosted by the mighty 'Black Nun'.
I used to see this show as being the 'son of Thriller'! This was a hugely popular suspense anthology series of 10 stories made by Thames TV bewteen 1978/80. I hadn't seen it for years until a friend made some copies of old videos for me - it's now being released on DVD (2008), one story at a time.
I think the one story everyone remembers is 'Quiet as a Nun' - the spooky story of a ghostly nun (with no face) who haunts a creepy old tower in the grounds of a nunnery - the Black Nun! It's all pretty slow by today's 'standards' - but I'd sooner watch these old shows any day than much of the rubbish that passes for entertainment on TV these days.
This was my favourite programme when I was aged 10/11. My mum very kindly let me stay up on Monday nights to watch it - I don't think she realized how violent it was! This was just a real landmark in TV history - hour-long adventures of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad, dealing with robbery-related crime on the mean-streets of 70s London.
It had a realism & grittiness not seen on TV before, & benefited from being shot entirely on 16mm film & on location - very unusual back then. It also employed innovative film-like direction & editing, & some very clever scripts. The 2 leads (John Thaw as Regan & Dennis Waterman as Carter) were an inspired casting, & had a real chemistry right from the start. Brilliant title sequence & music too, & plenty of excellent guest stars & memorable episodes.
I have the boxed-set of this now on DVD, & have been watching them all over again!
I also loved Euston Films follow-up to this, 'Minder' - another great show for Dennis Waterman - & again, excellent chemistry with his co-star, this time of course George Cole as the likeable but dodgy Arthur Daley. This was a wonderful series which the whole country seemed to love- I must seek it out on DVD too.
John Thaw was soon to resurface in 'Mitch', & of course in 1985 in the highly-respected 'Inspector Morse' series - though in a slightly more restrained & cultured characterization. I guess the spirit of the Sweeney now lives on to an extent in The Bill - the long-running London-based police drama also made by Thames Televison. I was a big fan of this show too until they messed it up & sacked half the cast in the early 2000s! Dennis Waterman has of course more recently found success in the likeable BBC series 'New Tricks'.
There's probably not much more to say about this show than anyone else has already said - though I guess it could now be classed as a 'current' show! But for me (back in days gone by) it was another Saturday night fright, & genuinely made me feel unsettled and frightened - especially when the hostile alien forces (including The Master) were Earth-based!
Sam loves this show too, which shows it has an enduring quality, despite huge advances in special effects & the like. I remember being too scared to go upstairs at night time because of the Autons - but I'm much better now thanks... he he.
Just an all-time comedy classic. It was Rowan Atkinson's attempt to create something as enduring & funny as Fawlty Towers, & he definitely suceeded. My favourite is the first season, (when Baldrick actually had all the cunning plans) but of course they're all fab.
Beavis & Butthead
I was slow to get into this, but it became one of my favourite shows pretty fast - unmissable on Friday nights on Channel 4 (for those of us who didn't have MTV). I loved their portrayal of heavy-metal loving, white-trash, junk TV-addicted kids - & their critique of pop videos that in their opinion were either 'cool' or 'sucked'! Hur,hur,hur...
Who Dares Wins
Mid-Eighties Saturday night comedy sketch show, with a similar feel to the earlier 'Not the 9 o'clock News'. Classic stuff - I liked it so much I created audio tapes of my favourite sketches! Featured the team of Tony (Baldrick) Robinson, Julia Hills, Phil Pope, Jimmy Mulville & Rory McGrath.
In a way, this feels like a 'new' show to me - as I only started watching it in 2006! After recommendations from my son & my brother, I decided to watch the whole series from start to finish. And I can see why this show is so popular - it's brilliant! In particular, seasons 3 to 6 - & so many classics along the way. My favourite epsiode has to be the classic 'Mr Flibble' story (Quarantine), but there are many others I love too.
Newman & Baddiel
Another first-class comedy sketch show, spun-off from the 'Mary Whitehouse Experience'. Who will ever forget the glorious 'History Today' (that's YOU, THAT IS!) professors?
Just so much part of my childhood. I remember trying to make all the Thunderbird craft out of Lego! Amazing that it was filmed in 1964. I was even more surprised when I later discovered it was filmed in a Unit on Slough Trading Estate (not far from where I live), and involved many Maidenhead-based people - including of course the mighty Gerry Anderson, whom I later met. A true work of unsurpassed genius - and I love it now as much as I did then. The recent live-action 'movie' though is best forgotten... I also love many of Gerry's other shows, including Supercar, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, UFO & The Protectors.
Hammer House of Horror/Mystery & Suspense
Two 13-part filmed series of the 80s, when the famous Hammer studios turned their attentions away from films to the small screen. HH of H was great on Autumn Saturday nights in 1980 when it was shown after ITV's Big Match - now transposed to Saturdays from Sunday lunchtimes.
Many memorable stories and guest-stars - and a few turkeys too though! But well worth a look. My favourite HH of H has to be the one with Peter Cushing as a former-Nazi pet shop owner...
Another unforgettable memory from my childhood - portraying the time-travelling wizard, unwittingly transported to the present day & befriended by a young boy who tries to help him - while not ever believing his story until it's too late!
I later showed it to Sam, & he loved it too - & we even got to meet the great Geoffrey Bayldon, who kindly autographed our Catweazle video (we even visited the farm where the first season was filmed). It looks fantastic now - they should re-run it for today's children (& adults!). Recently re-released on DVD too.
Brilliantly goofy, wacky fun (& of course wonderful music) from the Beatles-inpsired pop quartet. Another programme I've shown to Sam, & he's enjoyed too.
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
I had extremely vague recollections of this show from Sunday lunchtimes, & its long-awaited re-run in the late 80s was well overdue. Another classic ITC show! Starring the detective with the dead sidekick (whom only he could see in the form of a ghost), Jeff Randall always had the upper hand on his foes. Jeannie Hopkirk was drop-dead gorgeous too of course - and lots of nice location filming around Elstree Studios. The shoddy re-make with the unfunny Viv Reeves & Bob Mortimer is worth avoiding though...
I only discovered this in the 1990s (though I was aware of its existence prior to that). I missed the Channel 4 80s re-runs - but caught up with it in the early 90s, & it was far better than I'd been led to believe. What a brilliant title-sequence! A real thought-provoking oddity that keeps the viewer guessing all the way - though I feel a more ambiguous ending would have been more appropriate than the unsatisfactory explanation of the final two episodes.
The Avengers/New Avengers
I remember liking 'The New Avengers', & wondering what on earth the 'old' Avengers were like... I was to find out when Channel 4 started re-running the show (after it had been off our screens for 10 years) in 1982. It looked genuinely classy for its time, & had an interesting contrast between comedy/thriller, & espionage/science-fiction. I was a bit surprised when Tara King took over as the Avengers girl from Emma Peel, but came to like her just as much as Mrs Peel really - I think Steed did too! I've kept them all on video - one of these days I'll get round to watching them all again.
Sam & I went to see the location used for the exterior of Steed's flat in 2006, situated in a mews near Portland Place in London, and more recently I've found lots more locations with Miranda, including the bridge featured on the opening titles of the Tara King stories.
A sort of son of the Avengers really - for a more reality conscious post-Sweeney audience. It comes from the same 'stable' as The Avengers & Thriller too. Now looks happily dated, but still much more entertaining than programmes of this genre are now. Many interesting locations from the home-counties - including a story shot entirely in Maidenhead town centre!! Excellent music from Laurie Johnson of course too, & many gripping & memorable stories.
Just like nothing else that had been before. A comedy 'revolution' in every sense of the word. My favourite story has to be 'Bambi' (including the mighty Motorhead performing 'Ace of Spades' in the Young Ones living room) - but they're all brilliant. The three main characters were superb comedy creations, & paved the way for so much more. It does look a little dated these days however... I also loved Rik & Ade's 'Bottom' series which later followed in the 90s.
Sam actually confuses this programme with 'The Young Ones'! I'd never thought about it like that, but I guess he's right in a way. The crazy trandem-riding threesome who do 'anything, anytime, anywhere' were another great memory from my childhood. I recently bought a CD with all their music on - they actually had five Top 40 hits one year! Sam & I got to meet Tim Broooke-Taylor (who lives in Maidenhead) in 2006, and he kindly autographed my DVD. Also chatted to him about 'Big Bunny'!
Ace of Wands
I wonder if anyone else remembers this? A sort of ITV answer to Doctor Who, about a man called Tarot who was a sort of private investigator into the world of supernatural events (as far as I can recall). Excellent prog-rock title music, & a real hippy flavour - quite unsettling in the same way Doctor Who was when it was good - well, at least it was to me then at my then tender age.
I didn't realize the remaining episodes of this were released on DVD in 2007 - so I must buy that soon and have another nostalgia-trip!
WWF Wrestling on Sky
I had always thought that wrestling was incredibly naff - that it, until the revelation of what was WWF American wrestling in the late 80s/early 90s - coutesy of our new-fangled cable televison installation! My brother, Maurice, watched it first - and I just couldn't understand why he was watching such rubbish... until I started watching myself, & entered into the insane, no-holds barred world of WWF wrestling!
Just so many memorable characters & scenes - usually what went on out of the ring was more hilarious than what happened in it! Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sgt Slaughter, IRS, Million-Dollar Man, The Bushwhackers etc... not to mention the 'Brother Love' show and the excellent comic/serious commentary from Vince McMahon/Jessie Ventura, & later Bobby Heenan/Gorilla Monsoon. It reached a peak in the UK in 1992 with a glorious Wembley stadium show (which we attended), then sadly tailed off into the debacle it is now... Great memories though.
Scooby Doo - Where are You?
Hanna-Barbera cartoon par-excellence! It actually seems even better now than it did when I was a kid. Sam loves it too - I guess most of today's kids agree. The first two seasons were just perfection. The music's really cool too!
Basically Annabel Croft and two polite but adventurous 30-something contestants (with backpacks) marauding about the countryside trying not to get zapped by a mad Scotsman in a helicopter! It was unfairly slated by the critics, but I thought it was cool - and Annabel is gorgeous! I kept a few on video, but recently it's been re-run on Challenge TV, and Sam has taken to it too. We've even acted out our own Interceptor game round the house and garden complete with electronic backpacks...!!
Sunday afternoon entertainment with our Anglo-American duo of Roger Moore & Tony Curtis. The obvious chemistry between the two leads is appealing, and some memorable story-lines & locations make this entertaining and enduring show a real classic. Has that lovely early 70s atmosphere I mentioned earlier - & of course that brilliant theme by John Barry.
I think they re-ran this in the 90s on Breakfast TV? A sort of Hanna-Barbera answer to The Monkees, with madness, mayhem, music and a few cartoons for good measure. Who can forget 'Bingo, Fleagle, Drooper and Snorky'? And of course, not forgetting 'Sour Grapes'...
Return of the Saint
I guess this was the last of the great ITC adventure series. I thought it was very good at the time - though I've not seen it since the mid-80s. It was Ian Ogilvy (admirably)filling Roger Moore's shoes in this late-70s revival of The Saint stories. Lots of good locations (some near Maidenhead) and interesting guest-stars. It's out on DVD now, so I really must check it out again.
The Long Chase
Another real blast from the past that appears to be relatively forgotten today. I found this intelligent 13-part childrens's BBC serial really gripping at the time - even if the charms of the lovely Jan Francis must have escaped me then! All filmed on location, mainly in the Lake District, it concerned a planned assassination at the Edinburgh Royal Tattoo (and the two young people who untwittingly run into the gang) who then play a tense game of cat and mouse when they unravel their plans.
The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Probably the best thing ever made by French television! A superb filmed series from the 60s which was constantly re-run on the BBC for children until about 1982. This really is the definitive story of Robinson Crusoe - including TV and films. Beautifully filmed in the Canary Islands, and with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. Despite being dubbed into English, this never detracts from one's enjoyment of the show. Sam loved this too when I showed it to him at the age of 5.
Some of my favourite (current!) TV shows:
To be honest, I never really got into this until about 2002! It was actually Sam who introduced this to me - and I've been hooked ever since. It has to be one of the most clever and funny things ever to have been on TV. So many brilliant episodes - almost like little movies in themselves, that all work on several levels and require repeated viewing. So many memorable characters and stories - truly wonderful stuff.
Well, I've watched this since the start (anyone remember the days of Noel Edmonds & Angela Rippon?), but it's sort of re-invented itself recently as an all-out light-entertainment show loosely based around the world of cars...! The three presenters are superb, and are a real telly dream-team. I didn't always love Jeremy Clarkson's approach, but he's won me over now - this is simply fab entertainment for depressing Sunday nights!
The Kumars at No. 42
I didn't get into this immediately, but once I did (by accident really), I absolutely loved it. Just so funny - you really believe the Kumar family are real! A genuinely original idea that really works - and I love Grandma Kumar!
Dick and Dom in da Bungalow
Saturday morning kids' show that Sam watched, and I quickly became a fan of too! A sort of Tiswas for the Noughties really... full of crazy stuff. I loved the 'Bogies' spot... but the 'stick the sticker on the passer-by unawares' spot has made a hilarious replacement - even if I did miss their visit to Maidenhead, doh! Brilliant stuff - I watch it even when Sam isn't there... go check it out, as they say.
Who could resist a game show hosted by Leslie Grantham, Melinda Messenger, and Geoffrey 'Catweazle' Bayldon?!! Based on a French format, and a sort of updated 'Crystal Maze' transferred to an old Napoleonic fort in the English Channel. Great fun - and Sam and I have 'acted out' our own Fort Boyards at home countless times in homage to this great programme!
Have I Got News for You
Another long-lasting programme which I didn't get into immediately... though I think it's lost a little bit of its bite since the departure of Angus, despite the imaginative array of guest presenters lending their own personalities to proceedings. I've gone along to be in the audience several times now too - it's amazing how much stuff gets cut out! Still great laughs for a Friday night, and Paul Merton's flights of fancy are always a joy to behold...
The Mighty Boosh
I never saw this much at first (probably because I don't have BBC3), but they re-ran it on BBC2, and my, what an instant classic. The impossible adventures of Howard Moon (the older, world-weary, cynical and 'well-read' half of the duo), and young Vince Noir (the trendy young philosophical hippy dreamer), in the small Zoo where they both work (while dreaming of greater things) are genuinely hilarious and kooky! This show (like many other cult comedies) started its life on the radio and steadily became popular and made the transfer to the small screen. Very original, very funny, and, as Howard would say, it 'spans the genres'...!
A sort of 'Pop Idol' for buildings really! Which of the sad ruins from around the country will viewers vote to be restored?? Some remarkable buildings and stories, and the very likeable and intelligent double-act of Ptolemy and Marianne. I wonder if they'd fancy going out for a beer with me? -) Gryff Rhys-Jones is great too - I love his new frazzled image!
Match of the Day
Not so much a programme - more a Saturday night institution! Where would life be without MOTD? Hansen and Lawro are always 'on the ball' (he he), and Gary Lineker has filled Des's hush-puppies with consummate ease.
My Parents are Aliens
Another programme Sam introduced me to - and I love it! The title sort of explains it all really... three kids from a children's home are adopted by a crazy, shape-shifting alien couple, and hilarious adventures ensue... you have to watch it really!
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Chris Tarrant is one of my all-time heroes, and the transference of his Capital Radio 'keep the listener in tortuous supsense to see what they've won' routine really 'paid off' here. I've lost count of the amount of times I've shouted at the screen at some of the intellectually-challenged contestants, but that's all part of the fun I guess! I keep applying for this show, but to no avail - so, come on, I want to be humiliated in public please?? (and hopefully go away with a big fat cheque to boot...). I did however become a member of the studio audience in 2008! It was great seeing how this show is put together - and realizing how small the studio is (stage 9 of Elstree Studios).
Some of my favourite albums:
Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
Just brilliant! What else can you say? The young bohemian starman who fell to earth. I just love virtually all his stuff, but these should be in everyone's record collection.
Floodland - Sisters of Mercy
Just one of the greatest records of all time - when I first heard this, it simply just blew me away. Amazingly driven, dynamic, & heavy music, married to superbly intelligent lyrics. Andrew Eldritch looked so cool too - & always seemed on the edge. Goth was an era I really loved - it threw up so many superb bands, but these were the gods. Some fantastic memories of live shows too.
A Secret Wish - Propaganda
Hot on the heels of Frankie, Trevor Horn's (almost) finest hour - more beautifully crafted & arranged music. I loved her voice too, & the gorgeous Duel/Jewel is to die for. This album's brimful of wonderful landscapes & perfect pop flourishes, & sounded like nothing I'd heard before. My real soundtrack to the summer of 85.
The Nephilim - Fields of the Nephilim
Possibly my favourite album of all time. 88 was a disappointing year for music for discerning music fans (bar the Sisters/Mish)... until this gem arrived! This album literally changed my life. I don't think anything (for me personally) has surpassed it since - & what a fantastic live band too. I loved his voice, which lesser bands recently seem to have tried to copy. Excellent un-easy listening...
Number One in Heaven - The Sparks
I just thought they were so cool back in 1979 - I missed them first time around! I loved electronic synthezier music, & with this album they really influenced the way this genre would be shaped over the next few years - particularly in the shape of duos, contrasting a flamboyant singer with a moody-looking keyboard player standing at the back. They really stood out of the crowd - Ron Mael with his Hitler-moustache & deadpan expression was a brilliant counterpoint to his more animated frontman brother. 'Tryouts for the Human Race' is my favourite track - a song whose subject matter, er, went over my head at the time... Number One Song is Heaven is fantastic too. Georgio Moroder & Sparks was a match made in heaven...
The Hurting - Tears for Fears
I loved their clean cut (but trendy) image at the time, & their slightly off-beat (& introspective) brand of synth-pop. Also the first gig I ever went to was to see TFF at Hammersmith Odeon! Loads of finely-crafted songs on here - poppy, but intelligent & thought-provoking lyrics. I love the way too that 'Mad World' fades into the delicious 'Pale Shelter' on here.
God's Own Medicine - The Mission
Another 'gothic' album, but oh, definitely the Mission's greatest work. I got totally immersed in this stuff back then - like someone was at last 'speaking to me' with their music... (sorry, I'm getting a bit out of my tree here... he he). Packed with classics, and a lovely embossed gatefold sleeve to boot!
Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
The monumental debut album by the original 'goths' I guess! The first track really sets the scene with its doomy graveyard bell intro... and yes, the cover with the distant mysterious cloaked figure really does look like the derelict CRX!
Psychedelic Furs - Psychedelic Furs
This goes right back to 1980. I wasn't aware of it then of course, but discovered it a few years later - and it felt like I was the only person who'd heard it! Just so many cool songs - I love the way the opening track (India) starts quietly and dreamily with an elongated instrumental soundscape, and then crashes in like an iron fist into an all-out angry punky attack. 'Sister Europe' was great too - a bit like the calm AFTER the storm. 'We Love You' is a great tongue-in-cheek take on hero worship, as Richard lists a series of people and things he professes to love. I also like the 'Wedding Song' - I bet this never gets played at any wedding discos... he he. Any band with a name like the 'Psychedelic Furs' simply couldn't be ignored!
Who's Next - The Who
Gosh - this really is an oldie... But my favourite (and I expect many other people's favourite) Who album. They looked really cool then too - Roger Daltrey's hair! 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is the obvious centrepiece & a real work of genius - that classic synthesizer envelope just sends me every time... & the band really sounded at the peak of their powers.
Velvet Underground & Nico - Velvet Underground & Nico
I discovered this album (by Andy Warhol's most celebrated proteges) at the age of 21 after hearing great things about it. It just seems so unlike any other 60s album (or album from any other era) that I've ever heard. The surprising (at the time) lack of a guitarist doesn't seem to hinder it either. The sugary-sounding opening track lulls you into a false sense of security before the rest of the songs lurch off into hitherto undiscovered realms of music... crazy, sexy, perverted, druggie, heavy-partying & twisted tunes that are not for the feint-hearted. The true sound of the underground! 'Venus in Furs' has become a cult-classic, & 'All Tomorrows Parties' was a hit in the 80s when covered by Japan. Not forgetting Andy Warhol's peel-off 'banana' sleeve...
Visage - Visage
Unashamed New-Romantic-ism, & it really felt like something strange, intoxicating & exciting was happening. I loved the big hit 'Fade to Grey', but the title track is my favourite on here - just perfection, with minimal but effective lyrics ('new styles, new shapes, new moulds...'), & a perfectly constructed piece of music. Almost a semi-instrumental album really - with a great line-up including Steve Strange & half of Ultravox (Midge Ure & Billy Currie). They seemed so trendy, cool & sophisticated too (unlike me at the time!). It really felt for a short time like this could be the music of the future.
Vienna - Ultravox
On a similar note to the above really... came out shortly after 'Visage', & in a very similar vein. 'Vienna' was an amazing track, & it was a crime it spent 4 weeks at no.2 without topping the charts back in early 81. The video for 'Vienna' was ground-breaking too - it oozed sophistication, & looked like a mini feature-film (shot on 35mm wide-screen) in the days when many promos were still shot on videotape. For many years I had the 'Vienna' & 'Visage' albums on a tape together - they seemed like perfect partners.
The Nightfly - Donald Fagen
A friend of mine used to play this all the time. I didn't even know who Donald Fagen was back then. A real funky, jazzy, night-time record, & sort of a bit retro I guess for its day. It sounded so fresh, bouncy & sophisticated - & seemed to have a kind of 'filmic' quality. Great night-time driving music.
Move to Move - Kon Kan
Oh yes! I liked 'I Beg Your Pardon' so much... I decided to buy the album! Very strange Kraftwerky (& post-New Order) synthy & samply tunes - I remember playing this in my car over and over back in 1990. It soo reminds me of the time! It even had a rap song on it I quite liked - which sampled 'These Boots are Made for Walking'.
Relics/Wish you were Here - Pink Floyd
Just one of the greatest rock bands ever. Again, so much good stuff you could choose from - but these are my favourites... the 'best of' 'Relics' from the psychedelic Syd Barrett era, & of course the awesome classic WYWH. When that riff finally emerges from the speakers... mind-blowing stuff! I'm so glad it's considered 'cool' to like them again.
Love - The Cult
Started my love-affair with 'goth' I guess. Quite unlike anything else around at that time (or since) really. Still packs a mighty punch! Interesting too how they weaved Red-Indian mysticism into their music. A pity they seemed to degenerate into a heavy-metal-by-numbers band after this promising start.
Joshua Tree - U2
Amazing how this band just keep re-inventing themselves & stay ahead of the game. This was superb though! They'd obviously embraced America, but knew just how to play it. Very commercial, but the depth & beauty of their songs was wonderful - every track sounds like it could be a single.
Derek & Clive (Live) - Peter Cook & Dudley Moore
I'd never heard anything like this in my life when I first heard this profane album at the age of 16... amazingly I also didn't even know who Peter Cook & Dudley Moore were back then! But nobody has ever made swearing sound so funny. How many of us can recite these now classic routines verbatim?!
Dare - Human League
Ha, I can't believe I included this! But, for old time's sake, I had to. Again, they just seemed so grown-up & cool to a young kid... & THAT haircut! I thought the girls looked really cool anyway. What would the 80s be without the Human League, eh?
Abbey Road/Magical Mystery Tour - Beatles
Couldn't write this list without a mention of the (pre)fab four. I love the weighty-ness & diversity of Abbey Road - & some brilliant songs too - they really went out on a high. Magical Mystery Tour (the album) is just superb too - I mean, you get 'Strawberry Fields', 'Penny Lane', 'All You Need is Love'... & all the brilliant psychedelic film songs from the MMT EP too.
Some of my favourite songs:
Chord of Souls - Fields of the Nephilim
Ha, the highlight of the superb 'Nephilim' album, and many a live show. I love the amazing 'ice, ice, ice...' crescendo!
Crash - The Primitives
Oh yes! Does anyone else remember the diminutive (but goddess-like) Tracey Tracey?? This song has even become a bit of a 'standard' - it's always popping up on TV commercials and films. Three minutes of pure rock magic.
Duel - Propaganda
Mentioned this earlier, but what a fab song. Brings back memories of 85... that's 1985, not 1885!
In-Between Days - The Cure
Who could ever forget this? Just a real milestone in the Cure's extraordinary history. This song raced along to a jangly guitar and killer beat. And that amazing Julien Temple-directed video - with one camera hanging (and swinging) from the ceiling gantry, and another attached to the end of the guitar fretboard!
Prince Charming - Adam & the Ants
It took a while for this song to grow on me (following their previous #1 hit 'Stand & Deliver') - but this song brings back such great childhood memories. Adam & the Ants were absolutely huge in 1981, and by now Adam was at the peak of his powers. I especially associate this song with watching the wonderful 'Tiswas' on Saturday mornings, where I first saw the video - still one of the best promos ever made in my opinion. This was a rare case of the video actually elevating the listening experience of the music I think - when I hear the song, I always see the video playing out in my head. Not forgetting the memorable cameo by Diana Dors as Adam's fairy-godmother, & her striking pout & poses at the camera as she danced 'The Prince Charming'. Great stuff.
This Corrosion - Sisters of Mercy
I saw this on TOTP and was absolutely gob-smacked - it literally blew me away. Andrew Eldritch is the MAN! Just fantastic over-the-top (Jim Steinman produced) doom-rock that was like a 7-minute fix of amphetimine (logic)...
Killer - Adamski
This was my song of 1990! I loved the uncluttered production, and simple but infectious bassline - and how he'd obviously built the song on top. Lots of little twiddly bits and effects too that weave in and out, and not forgetting Seal's wonderful vocals too. Lost a bit of its impact though when it was played to death thereafter...!
The Only One I Know - Charlatans
I challenge anybody not to wiggle their toes (at the very least!) when this comes on. A powerful retro-ish echoey keyboard assault that jangled every nerve of your body!
Infinity - Guru Josh
Another cracking song from 1990 - and with that unforgettable haunting sax from Mad Mick. It seemed to 'summon in' the 1990s perfectly with its single line of spoken lyrics declaring: '1990s - time for Guru!'. Again, like 'Killer', superb bristling dancy production - it really sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear this record.
Mystify - INXS
Just my favourite INXS song. Really reminds me of the summer of 1989 too! I love the intro, and the way the song suddenly breaks loose and bursts into a jaunty rhythm. The lyrics are great too - it just shows that you don't need many words if they're powerful enough. A superbly 'constructed' rock song if I say so myself.
Shine on you Crazy Diamond/Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) - Pink Floyd
This is just mental! A brilliant tribute to the wild (and wasted) ex-band member Syd Barrett. Has to be played at the max! Another Brick in the Wall though was, not surprisingly, my first ever experience of a Pink Floyd song, and what a song! Very dark and a little subversive - maybe the only song with kids singing on it that isn't happy and jolly? The video really hit you too, with the memorable Gerald Scarfe caricatures. A real one-off - though I must admit I did find the endless Wall album (and later the movie) a little heavy-going...
Perfect Day - Lou Reed
The stand-out track from the classic 'Transformer' album. A strangely fragmented love song, delivered in Lou's inimitable semi-spoken way. It has a very basic honesty - perfectly capturing the innocence of falling in love and its effects on the pysche. I love the line 'you're going to reap what you sow...' that's so true, if only people realized!
Games without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel
I had no idea who Peter Gabriel was when I heard this as a kid - but it was one of the strangest (and coolest) things I'd ever heard. Should have been Number One for eons! Just pure genius.
Visage - Visage
Semi-instrumental New Romantic shimmer that I'll always have a soft-spot for. Great video too, and Steve Strange with his amazing make-up seemed like a real cool pop star.
Blue Monday - New Order
This was exactly the kind of music I liked at the time - almost sounding home-made. They had reportedly written this song around the beats of their new drum machine - and it's used to excellent affect here. Very Kraftwerky - when I first heard it, I thought the singer was foreign! I love the clean and crisp synthesized production, and the way the song builds from that striking staccato drum-beat intro.
Together in Electric Dreams - Phil Oakey/Giorgio Moroder
This SOO reminds me of 1984! Cool video too - shame about the awful teeny film it accompanied. I love the intro, the way all the sounds come in one by one... and what a song! Sounded just like the Human League, but even better - with American session singers mimicking the girls' voices(!). Giorgio Moroder has done some awesome stuff, particularly with The Sparks, but this one really hit the spot - and was a big commercial success too.
IGY - Donald Fagen
The stand-out track from the superb 'The Nightfly', but surprisingly never a hit in the UK.
Starman - David Bowie
Well, I can't say EVERY Bowie song now, can I? But this is his glam-rock, out-there masterpiece, and it finally brought him into the mainstream. That classic TOTP footage too. Even Sam loves this!
Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie
OK - I'll just sneak one more Bowie gem in.This was my first ever experience of David Bowie - and what a shock that was to me a kid! Utterly brilliant. I would be hooked on the 'cracked actor' from then on... what an awesome video too. (featuring a cameo appearance from Steve Strange of Visage)
Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush
Just simply stunning! What was that girl on?! Possibly the most sensational debut by any artist, ever!
Everbody's Got to Learn Sometime - Korgis
One of the most perfect songs ever I think! Amazing it only really has four lines of lyrics too. Lovely tune and atmosphere, and the electric violin solo was innspired - very unusual and effective. A pity not much more was heard from this band after this.
It's Different for Girls/Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson
Yet another song from 1980. A simple but powerful essay into how girls inevitably manipulate men, and the battle of the sexes. Delivered with such passion and punch, and with that memorable guitar signature too. Steppin' Out was three years' later, and much more 'easy-listening'... but was still a beautifully crafted song (and tune) built around a repetitive bass riff and jangly keyboards, with Joe's still distinctive vocals washing over you.
Echo Beach - Martha & the Muffins
1980 summer-ish song that promised so much from this group, who I think turned out to be a one-hit wonder. Sounds brilliant still, and excellent lyrics we can all relate to I guess!!
Body Talk/Just an Illusion - Imagination
Superbly haunting piano-led song unashamedly celebrating the joy of 'lurve'!! That wonderful intro still enraptures me to this day... this song is a bit like bathing in champagne (if you know what I mean!). 'Just an Illusion' though is this group's finest moment in my opinion! Again, it has an intro to die for... & is just a superbly constructed pop song. That bass sound is very distinctive too. It really reminds me of 1982, & the time just before I left school.
Daylight Katy - Gordon Lightfoot
I never even knew what this song was called for years! It has brilliant chord changes, and builds into a satisfying chorus, even though I didn't know what he was singing when I first heard it! Very surprising that this wasn't a bigger hit than it was. Excellent use of pedal-steel guitar too - it makes the song very haunting, and provides some of its hooks. I can play this song on the guitar now!
Poison Arrow - ABC
Just a very ground-breaking single! The production is absolutely superb - this was former Buggles man Trevor Horn at the controls, & he was obviously streets ahead of anybody else at this time. The song oozes class & sophistication, & the album that spawned it (Lexicon of Love) was one of the defining records of 1982. Excellent video too.
Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who
Mentioned this earlier too - the jaw-dropping (and very long!) highlight of 'Who's Next'.
Cars - Gary Numan
He seemed so cool back then. This is by far his most poplular and best song, and it's hardly surprising. Just simple but brilliant dynamics and one of THE classic synthesizer riffs of all time.
Bohemian Rhapsody/Radio GaGa - Queen
It's almost become a cliche now - but I still love it. A 6-minute rock opera that seems like it's been around forever... and probably will be! As for Radio GaGa - this was really my first ever experience of Queen. They almost seemed like a new band to me... this was a truly exciting time for them, and the video was a masterpiece, complete with 'flashbacks' to their previous hits for those of us new to the group. Just a classic song from one of the greatest bands this country has ever produced. John Deacon's BIG hair was amazing - I was yet to follow in his footsteps...!