It’s about Brian Jones, one of the Rolling Stones.
In a parallel universe, not far from ours, this song was a massive hit. One of the defining songs of the 1980s. Alas it was not to be. It got to 67 in the UK chart in 1984. First a bit of background…
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Psychic TV emerged in 1981 from ashes of Throbbing Gristle. In some dictionaries Throbbing Gristle are *the* definition of punk, and are certainly more punk than much of what got the punk tag. Throbbing Gristle invented industrial music, did everything independently, didn’t care what anyone thought of them, and gave their audience the whole punk package: shocking visuals, confrontation with a capital C, extreme lyrics, and they generally made a bit of a racket. Now, following a series of reissues, many critics and punters love them. At the time it was a different story. Anyway that’s another story for another day and is also a long winded way of saying that I still marvel how the person who gave us ‘Hamburger Lady’ with Throbbing Gristle, could - and did - go on to make Godstar.
Psychic TV, featured Throbbing Gristle’s main man Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (born Neil Andrew Megson). Genesis was quite the pioneer. One of the first I can remember to go in for body piercing, an early exponent of acid house and techno, and - with Psychic TV - he actually went as far as starting his own occult order. Were you a member of ‘Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth’ perchance? None of which prepared anyone for the simple pop genius of ‘Godstar’. For a start it bears no relation to either Throbbing Gristle or indeed Psychic TV for that matter. You can enjoy its anthemic pop simplicity (and a great video too) here.
Genesis is touchingly sincere…
And you were so beautiful, you were so very special,
I wish I was with you now, I wish I could save you somehow.
…and ss the song reaches Brian Jones’ final moments Genesis wonders….
Where were all your friends that night
as you switched off the final light?
I saw your body in the water
Like a lamb going to the slaughter
As I write this I actually struggle to think of a better pop song - or at least one that came from such an unlikely origin. What other examples are there of classic pop songs from unlikely artists?
By the by this incarnation of Psychic TV also included Alex Fergusson who is one of those characters who seems to add a bit of magic to projects he is involved with, including what I would argue was the golden age of Alternative TV, and not be confused with him what manages Manchester United FC (would be great if they were one and the same though eh?).
Do you remember Champion Doug Veitch? He achieved some prominence in the mid 1980s. He also had a run of six consecutive NME singles of the week. I believe this is a record. One of them was this one….
Not The Heart b/w Guilt Edged
And what a marvellous thing it is. Champion Doug Veitch styled himself the ‘King of Caledonian Swing’ which is probably underselling his oeuvre. Each track was some sort of combination of dub, reggae, country, and Scottish Folk. ’Not The Heart’ features of all these and a bit of yodelling for good measure. I think part of what makes this tune so marvellous is the input of esteemed dub maestro Mad Professor at the production controls. This one will put a smile on your face and quite probably get you skanking about the place.
I’ve got the ‘Jumping Into Love’ single too. I’ll be ripping that one sometime soon. A much sought after vinyl compilation entitled ‘The Original’ was released by the wonderfully named Bongo Records in 1989. Remarkably, at the time of writing, this album is available to buy on iTunes for £7.99.
Hearing this single again - which has one of those covers that can be unfolded to make a Champion Doug Veitch poster - made me wonder whatever became of him. After some intensive online research I can now reveal Champion Doug Veitch was born Douglas Veitch in 1960 in Hawick in Scotland. His music was, as mentioned, a trailblazing polycultural mix of dub, reggae, country, and Scottish folk music, years before such cross-cultural mixing became common pop currency.
In 1985, he co-founded the label DiscAfrique with his colleague Owen Elias, which was one of the first world music labels in the United Kingdom, releasing records by The Bhundu Boys, Orchestre Baobab and The Four Brothers amongst others. In 1989, he released an album of Scottish dance music with his wife under the moniker Martin, Doug and Sara.
After drifting out of the music industry Veitch took a PhD in Woodland Management. Recently he has returned to music, reuniting with Bhundu Boys guitarist Rise Kagona under the moniker Culture Clash. The duo released the album ‘Tanzwa Neku Tambura: We’ve Suffered Enough’ in 2007.
A mix to accompany the book ‘Hangover Square’ written by Patrick Hamilton and published in 1941, and which is set against the backdrop of the days preceding Britain declaring war on Germany. The mix contains music that is either from the era, or sounds as though it could be, and also includes other contemporaneous sounds and samples (the abdication speech, declaration of war etc.).
Imagined soundtrack to the book ‘Hangover Square’ by Patrick Hamilton
Duke Ellington - Chelsea Bridge
Judy Garland - Over The Rainbow
The Jungle Band - Rockin’ In Rhythm
Ray Noble & His Orchestra - The Very Thought Of You
Dooley Wilson - As Time Goes By
Lale Anderson - Lili Marlene
The Andrews Sister - Bei Mir Bist Du Schon
Henry Hall & His Orchestra - The Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Henry Hall & His Orchestra - Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes The Bogeyman
The Bonzo Dog Band - Tubas In The Moonlight
Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things
Ella Fitzgerald - Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
Ella Fitzgerald - Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
The Mills Brothers - You Always Hurt The One You Love
Today’s seven inch vinyl rip is not so much a one hit wonder as a one release wonder. Meat Whiplash were clearly inspired by Creation label mates The Jesus and Mary Chain. Indeed Meat Whiplash were the opening act for The Jesus and Mary Chain at North London Polytechnic in 1985. A bottle that was thrown on stage was tossed back into the crowd by one of Meat Whiplash, and that was the catalyst for a riot. A riot that ended with a wrecked venue and injured punters. They were from East Kilbride, Scotland, and were amongst the first bands to be signed to Creation Records. The line-up was Paul McDermott (vocals), Stephen McLean (guitar), Edward Connelly (bass guitar) and Michael Kerr (drums). They took their name from a B-side track by The Fire Engines. They changed their name to The Motorcycle Boy when female singer Alex Taylor (previously of The Shop Assistants) joined the group in 1987.
"Don’t Slip Up" spent 19 weeks in the UK Indie Chart, where it reached the #3 position following its release on 14 September 1985. The cover star is none other than actor Robert Vaughn playing his role as one half of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’. My single has the customary hand folded cover inside a polythene bag. Apparently it was Alan McGee and Bobby Gillespie who printed and folded the covers.
I’ve decided to rip a single or two every day that I have the time. How great were seven inch singles? They sound fantastic and elevate the pop tune to its rightful place in the world of pop. The first rip is Into Tomorrow by The Paul Weller Movement.
This is a great track. This single came out in 1991 and somewhere round this time I saw PW play the Town and Country Club in Kentish Town. The single was yet to come out and the venue was only half full.
At the time he was calling himself The Paul Weller Movement. So why were there so few punters there that night? I guess The Style Council years had alienated quite a bit of his original fanbase. Personally I loved The Style Council just as much as The Jam.
So back to the record, here he is getting back to guitar pop after the Style Council years. It’s a mix of soul-funk and Small Faces psych that both nods to his past and his influences, and also where he was going to be headed. This is probably one of his best solo tunes. It also heralded something of a golden period. The next couple of albums - Paul Weller and Wild Wood - are my personal faves.
The b-side is a goodie too. It’s called ‘Here’s a new thing’.