Posts Tagged 'the undertones'

Queen Bee

So, I recently asked what single song would always make your playlist and why?  You can link to that particular post inspired by John Peel here.  My own response is posted here.

The thing I love about music, is that I am always coming across stuff I’ve not heard before.  Some of it will resonate with me throughout the seasons of life and other songs just tarry for a while or mark a certain time or place…

So what’s got heaviest rotation on your mp3/CD/turntable/boom-box these days?

For me, it’s “Queen Bee” by Neil Halstead.  It can’t help but put me in a good mood and the attached video makes me want to make music with friends and freewheel down a hill on a bike without a care in the world…enjoy by clicking the arrow below.


Freak Scene

Following on from my recent post on John Peel Day, I thought I’d answer the question I posed.

Q: What record would always make your playlist and why?

For me the answer would always have to be “Freak Scene” by Dinosaur Jr.


I associate it with the summer I graduated from Uni and was looking for my first job.  I had reluctantly cut my hair and shaved my goatee.  I feared losing the person I had become during my student days in order to pretend to be someone I didn’t want to be.  I dreaded the notion of a conveyor belt of pristine “yes men” desperate for their first chance to impress in the corporate world.  That wasn’t me and isn’t me.  I wanted to stand out rather than fit in.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do and didn’t have a clue where life was headed.  Few firms in the field I had studied in seemed to be recruiting as the market was in a slump.  I was living at home and there was real tension in the house.  I don’t think my parents could believe that a University education didn’t lead to a guaranteed job. 

Up until that point life had always had a routine…get up, go to school or uni, hang with friends, work, rest and play.  All of a sudden the comfort of that was gone and the great unknown loomed big on the immediate horizon.  My girlfriend at the time (who would later become my wife) had finished up her course and was leaving town to enroll on an art degree at Duncan of Jordonston and I didn’t know what city I’d be living in or what I’d be doing.  Unlike previous years I didn’t have a summer job, wasn’t earning and felt guilty about how I was spending my days.  It was a very confusing, stressful and difficult period.

Mudd Club was the choice of venue for a Monday night after a get together at Ma’Camerons.  It was an alternative music night that had run for years.  In the midst of all of that conflict, I remember dancing away with one of my longest standing friends who I consider to be a brother that I never had.  The sloppy guitar of Dinosaur Jr’s “Freak Scene” came on and it sounded like the sort of music that anyone could make in their bedrooms – loose, messy and fuelled with emotion.  As we shook our hair around on the dance floor the closing lines blared out of the PA and, as I looked my buddy right in the eye, I experienced a defining moment in life.  In that instant I just knew that a lifelong vow of friendship, commitment and accountability had been made during the song’s last few seconds…The words may not have been the way we would have articulated it, but the sentiment was and still is there.  The smiling and shrugging at the mess all around and my, seemingly, powerlessness to change any of it combined with my recognition that I couldn’t do it on my own.  The words and the sound actually seemed a truer refelection of what I felt than any of the ways I might have phrased or penned or said it aloud:- 

“Sometimes I don’t thrill you

Sometimes I think I’ll kill you

So don’t let me f–k up, will you?

Cause when I need a friend it’s still you.

What a mess….”

All these years later, that commitment to friendship and support remains as the two of us have journeyed on.  Keith bro’, you know that this one’s for you.

So, here is a brilliant live version of the song which captures all the shambollic sloppiness and chaos that makes it so important to me.  The clip is introduced by indie music demi-godess, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth no less…raaawwwwwkkkk!

Teenage Kicks

I need excitement, oh, I need it bad

And it’s the best I’ve ever had”

From “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones.

Today is the fourth anniversary of John Peel’s death.  I didn’t have a blog back then, but the photo is taken from a scrap book we were keeping at the time.

I still miss “The Peel Session” on Radio 1 and “Home Truths” on Radio 4.  I feel nostalgic and happy and sad all at the same time if I ever hear his voice broadcast.

Many of us will have our favourite Peel moments.  For me they include:

  • His broadcast of the Chemikal Underground Records 10th anniversary party where my mate’s band were introduced as “Cumbernauld’s number one death metal band” (no surprises to learn that they were neither from Cumbernauld nor death metal);
  • Dave Gedge of The Wedding Present’s brief chat with Michael Aspel on “This Is Your Life” which appears half way through this short you tube link after Mark E Smith of The Fall; 
  • My friend, Andrew, getting his first 7″ single played by John Peel;
  • Aereogramme’s live set at the Gronegan festival in Holland which had a particularly amusing bit when Peely was interviewing the band wherein some punters in the background started shouting, “John Peel – we’re not worthy!”, to which he dryly chuckled, “No, you’re not”.

The lyrics at the top are from what is famously known as John Peel’s favourite record.  Exact Science mentioned it in passing on a recent comment on my blog by noting, “Just to touch on John Peel, cause you mention him. In referring to Teenage Kicks he said that he didn’t think there was anything you could add or take away to make it better. I think that is the crux of all great art.”

John Peel carried a copy of “Teenage Kicks” with him everytime he was DJing at some event. 

What record would always make your playlist and why?


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