Sequined Vodka Tales

A Fosca London gig announcement. Oh yes!

It’s the much-threatened Fosca Farewell show. Saturday December 13th at Feeling Gloomy, Bar Academy, Islington. Stage times to come.

The line-up will a five-piece, three-guitar and two synths (plus laptop) assault: Rachel S, Kate D, Tom E, Charley S and myself.


Two DJ gigs of mine, at somewhat shorter notice.

I’m DJ-ing on Sat Sept 20th, at a plush dress-up event called The Magic Theatre. This takes place in an Art Deco ballroom in Bloomsbury. Here’s what their website says about the dress code:

“Ladies: The perfect place for all you Cinderellas and Style Queens, Pink Princesses and Leggy Latex Babes… Audrey Hepburns and Barbarellas, TV’s, Saucy Secretaries and Rock Chicks…Whether you’re a Goth Girl, Dowager, French Maid or Precocious Teen Queen, Marie Antoinette, or Marilyn Monroe, the Magic Theatre is YOUR stage. Gentlemen: Retro Glamour, Uniforms, Lounge Lizards, Gentlemen of the Cloth, Fauns, B-Movie Stars, Prince Charmings, Pirates and Dandies of all kinds…Arise, Sir Galahad, kneel before Zod, come out, come out you Peter Pans, Dick Turpins and Darcys…”

I’ll be doing two DJ sets between 8.30pm and 11.30pm. Ticket details at


I’m also putting in a brief DJ appearance at The Beautiful & Damned on Thursday 18th, at The Boogaloo (near Highgate Tube). Martin White & The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra will also be playing. The B&D isn’t ‘my’ club any more, as I’m forever correcting people, but it’s still going strong under the auspices of Miss Red and The Boogaloo team. They’ve reinvented it into a kind of cabaret / club night / music hall booth affair. It’s great to see unwitting Highgate pub goers wander in off the street, and wonder just what weird, time-hopping universe they’ve stepped into. Part Red Room in ‘Twin Peaks’, part Sapphire & Steel…

Back to the diary.

Wednesday evening: to Trash Palace in Wardour Street, for a club night called ‘Polari’. It includes Jamie McLeod’s exhibition of modern dandies, which in turn includes me. Always nice to swan into a club to see a large framed photograph of oneself on the wall. The club also supplies free quiche.

On this occasion, special guest Sebastian Horsley takes the mic, and prowls and provokes and reads from his book, to a packed and appreciative crowd. Including his mother. He’s in his red sequined suit and brandishes a matching sequined bottle of vodka. Well, a sequined bottle cosy.

I say hello to David Benson, Anne Pigalle, Jason Atomic and Ms Ruta, and meet Clayton Littlewood, author of the ‘Soho Stories’ column in the London Paper. The window by his writing desk (or rather,  laptop perch) looked out from the clothes shop he worked at, Dirty White Boy in Old Compton Street. A particularly good spot in London to watch people and gather (or imagine) stories: Soho media types, the famous, the homeless, the vicious queens, the prostitutes, the tourists, the tramps, the old survivors, the new blood. He’s put together a book version: ‘Dirty White Boy: Tales Of Soho’, which I’m rather looking foward to.

More details at his MySpace page, with excerpts, readings and so on:

After Polari, Mr Benson takes myself, Mr H, Mr L and his friend Ms Lois for dinner at one of the Chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street. Sebastian invites me to an orgy on Friday. I politely decline. I’ll be busy playing indiepop songs in Madrid. Many of which are about, well, not going to orgies.

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Please Don’t Describe The Drums

A rather ace little pop biog to recommend: ‘Mr Cool’s Dream: The Complete History Of The Style Council’ by Iain Munn. (Wholepoint Publications, 2006).

Mr Munn is a shameless trainspotter-style fan, and the book is his own scrapbook-style history of Paul Weller’s eccentric (and very arch) soul-tinged pop group, which existed from The Jam’s break up in 1982 to the start of his solo career circa 1990. It originally emerged as a ring-bound limited edition pamphlet in the mid 90s, and has now been revised, rewritten and upgraded to a paperback version for 2006.

With the recent demise of Smash Hits, I can also recommend the Munn book to anyone who wants to read about the unique tone of 1980s UK pop media, given the vast array of chronologically-ordered clippings and quotes that comprise the bulk of the text. An unpretentious, instantly readable guide to an often deliciously pretentious (yet self-aware with it) pop group.

I’m always slightly annoyed when I see my old group Orlando described in passing, as it is in the recent Belle and Sebastian biography by a Mr Paul Whitelaw, as a Duran Duran-inspired band. Nothing against Mr Le Bon’s merry boat-bothering troupe, but if briefly describing Orlando must be done, I’d say we were more musically influenced by The Style Council and Dexys Midnight Runners, while lyrically tipping our hats to The Smiths, The Manic Street Preachers and Stephen Sondheim. There you go, cut and paste that, O Google-aided deadline whelks.

Fair enough that such writers haven’t the time to check for themselves. But in that case they really shouldn’t refer to what we sounded like at all. Better that than go with a lazy myth that rather says more about the hack than it does Orlando.

I mention this while thinking of Mr Munn’s book and pop books in general, because too many of them do the fan-pleasing stuff of collating third-party research with holding new interviews, but then make the mistake of attempting some sort of ‘literary’ feel, because the hack feels he has to Be a Writer.

In the case of the B & S book, the tome is full of italicised passages written in an attempt to emulate the precious style of the band’s own sleeve notes. When the band do this sort of thing themselves, it’s endearingly idiosyncratic. When a third party biographer does it, it’s somewhat less endearing, even annoying or embarrassing. On top of which, the book is also full of frustrating holes in the author’s research, along the euphemistic lines of ‘so-and-so’s response is not recorded’. Which often means either his emails or phone calls weren’t replied to, or the writer just didn’t bother to find out for himself. So Orlando sound like Duran Duran, that’ll do. If only he’d put as much effort into his research as he did into his italicised passages akin to ‘The Boy felt a bit gentle that day, and wondered if a passing fox would help him buy a new duffle coat…’

I actually emailed the B & S author about the Orlando reference some weeks ago, offering to send him a CD. He has yet to reply. His response is… not recorded. Serves me right for caring.

An example of a really thorough researcher is Mr Simon Goddard, whose recent book on The Smiths (“The Songs That Saved Your Life”), contains the result of his impressive investigations into every tiny aspect of each Smiths song’s adventure from creation to recording to performance, referring to lost out-takes and demos in a degree that must surprise even the people who made them. The problem comes when he tries to Be A Writer rather than just print the research in a readable manner (which is all the book’s target market really want). He feels the need to describe the music. Particularly what the drums sound like.

Rock book writers, heed my words. If you’re writing the story of one particular band, just concentrate on getting the research right, with the gossip, the quotes, the interviews, the anecdotes, and the trivia. That’s what we came for. Mr Munn’s Style Council book is a good, sugar-rush example of a fan simply making the book he and other fans (and those with an interest in the 80s pop scene) actually want to read.