It May Not Be Hot – But It Sure Is Warm
This tape was made for me in April 1998 by a Dutch music journalist as a prize for coming second in an online pop lyrics quiz held on a mailing list I was on. The top three were all called Graham or Graeme which just goes to show we are magic.
The first song is “Santa Cruz” by Fatboy Slim, a recording artiste that under normal circumstances I don’t allow in the house. But when something is presented as a gift, with a hint of the personal (although the other two Grahams may have received exactly the same tape for all I know), one is inclined to adopt a more favourable approach. And yet the repetitive buzzsaw guitar grates very quickly. The more chilled middle section with a hint of Pachelbel and some screeching bombs falling, is pleasant but it all goes on too long.
It just so happened that I was going to Amsterdam a couple of weeks after the quiz so I said I’d meet up with the journo, and he got me and my friends tickets to see Tortoise at the Paradiso, which was nice. Although I had an argument with Steven who said they weren’t even proper music, which is strange because he claims to be a musician. But then again, his favourite band of all time (of all time!) is Deacon Blue.
Fatboy Slim segues very nicely into a version of “Pipeline”, which was once my favourite instrumental of all time and in any version – this is by the Lively Ones – is slinky and sexy. We went to the beach in Nordwijk and I listened to the FA Cup semi-final commentary while staring across the sea towards England, and my team won. Hurrah!
Isaac Hayes – “Ike’s Mood 1”. The opening swoop of strings, the bass (steady), the horns (erm… stabbing) the backing singers (breathey), and some piano (plinky). Whenever I play Isaac Hayes to someone, they think he’s cheesy, or he’s Barry White, or both. Foolishness. I played this tape later that summer on a bus in the sunshine and this came on and dripped pure joy into my skull. It is a rich and holy pudding of musical delirium.
The Beastie Boys‘ “In 3s” seems like a vulgar intrusion after that, but it’s a good choice and provides a chance for the synapses to contract at a sensible rate. Gene Chandler’s “There Was a Time” follows James Brown pretty faithfully, but is even funkier and fast-paced, unlikely as it sounds. He changes JB’s hometown of “Augusta GA”, to his own “Chicago, Illinois”, with a hard S (like those old jazzers who talk about Louis Armstrong, saying it like Lewis. Don’t ask me why). He also says you ain’t seen nothing yet till you see him do “the Gene Chandler”. Also in Amsterdam, we went to a pop quiz and we came second (again, dammit) because I’m such a geek.
Recorded For: Graham C
Fatboy Slim – Santa Cruz
Lively Ones – Pipeline
Isaac Hayes – Ike’s Mood 1
Beastie Boys – In 3s
Gene Chandler – There Was a Time
Batiste – Funky Soul
JJ Jackson – But It’s Alright
Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait
Cornershop – Sleep on the Left Side
Primal Scream – Star
Morcheeba – Tube Loop
Lamb – Cotton Wool
Lamb – Cotton Wool Pt 2
John B – x2
Ganja Kru – No Fear
Roni Size – Western
Centurions – Body Surfin’
Arlen Sanders – Hopped Up Mustang
Deuce Coupes – Gear Masher
One Inch Punch – If I
aMiniature – Foreign Room
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Novena Without Faith
Arab Strap – One Day After School
Batiste’s “Funky Soul” shuffles along but it isn’t exactly bringing on a bout of restless leg syndrome, and it drags a bit. Now… I don’t want to write along to this one… JJ Jackson’s “But It’s Alright”, cause I LOVE it too much. Can you hear me singing along?! It’s as great as… oh come on, it’s as great as the greatest soul song ever, which means any song ever (or if you prefer EVAH). JJ is just suffused with wellbeing and inviolation (note to self – look that word up) that’s – no no, it fades out far too early. Does the record do that? When I moved house a couple of years ago, I found a compilation album, a double vinyl Best of Atlantic set, and this song was on there. I knew I knew this song when it turned up on the tape, but I didn’t realise I owned it, what a rediscovery that was. An instant jolt to the heart, wide grin song.
I used to like The Replacements quite a bit (that is, about as much as Buffalo Tom but nowhere near as much as Husker Du) and I have all their albums and everything but haven’t listened to them in probably eight years. “Can’t Hardly Wait” has some soul but wah, there it’s over. I was still high off JJ Jackson.
Cornershop – “Sleep on the Left Side”. “Footracing through kitchens”, I loved that line. And “always in touch by way of the community organ.” Sends me into a brief melancholic reverie, thinking about five years ago when it came out and I was somewhere else, with someone else.
Primal Scream get my back up, as well as getting up the nose and on the tits, but at least “Star” has the great Augustus Pablo adding some melodica. Gillespie’s weedy face mumbles some outlaw chic shite, and passes on the ‘every brother is a star’ guff, borrowed from Sly Stone, and now taken up by Moby, like an Olympic torch made of new age cod.
Morcheeba’s “Tape Loop” grooves on by, but gets me imagining dinner parties and trendy bars, makes me irritated for thinking in cliches about coffee table music, and hating myself for sneering at other people’s tasteful CD collections. It’s an inoffensive little song that’s got me all negative. And next is Lamb (gawd even the name depresses me) doing “Cotton Wool”. I freely confess to a prejudice against Lamb because an ex-colleague loved them and gushed on about them in her weblog. She was the first person I knew to have a weblog, and I considered it a shameful way of conducting oneself as she was a … well, not a helpful presence in the workplace. But then I’m often small-minded and insecure and I judge people far too quickly. End of side one.
Bloody Lamb starts up again on side two. Too many drums, there’s too much general drumminess, and that woman’s awful voice.
I get all hot and bothered if I don’t know the full track and artist details of what I’m listening to, so it is with dismay that the only info I have on the following track is “John B x2”. Unless it’s called x2 – that might just be the answer! It’s some tiresome techno thing anyhow. You wouldn’t like it.
Ganja Kru’s “No Fear” takes us into the drum and bass arena, and when I’m in that areana I start looking for the exit. I’ve just looked them up on Google and find out they’re three ageing white geezers. And on one webpage they are listed above John B, who writes ‘tuff anthems’ with ‘mental basslines’, which doesn’t sound like what I just heard a few minutes ago. This bloody Ganja Kru goes on forever, which is how I’ve got time to look them up.
Roni Size’s “Western” features a twangy bassline and goes on way too long. I don’t have a little beard. I don’t drive a car. I will go downstairs and make some more coffee…
The Centurions’ “Body Surfin'” showcases a more traditional twangy guitar sound and has a two-note bass part I think I could handle myself. Arlen Sanders’ “Hopped Up Mustang” features exciting car sounds (and a helicopter!) and is a classic automobile tale wherein Arlen races around against a Cadillac and ends up in jail. Vrrrrrmmm! I can never follow what’s going on in these songs (see also Hot Rod Lincoln). A line from this song was used as the tape’s title: “It may not be hot… but it sure is warm”. Engine sounds in music are mega.
The Deuce Coupes’ “Gear Masher” is an instrumental with loads of revving engines, screeching tyres and so forth.
One Inch Punch – “If I”. I saw them live once and liked them so I bought their CD but I thought it was rubbish but this is rather good so maybe I was rubbish instead. It’s got cars in the lyrics – see, he’s thought about this mix. “Foreign Room” by aMiniature (your guess is a good as mine) then belts along to no great effect. Youths with skateboards may find it in some way appealing. I don’t.
Not having played this tape for some time, I’m surprised to see a Trail of Dead song up next, which I suppose is from their first album. It’s got a moody whispering vocal straight outta Daydream Nation, but the atmospheric instrumental passage drags. Overuse of cymbals makes it sound all hissy, and buries the guitar. Why do bands do that?!
Arab Strap – “One Day After School”. Ha, it sounds like a Clint Eastwood at the beginning. Then yer man Moffatt drones on about being chucked and crying on the bus. Unfortunately, I lose all interest in what he’s saying after a while because as much as I enjoy mopey droney loser music made by twisted young substance abusers, they forget to make their songs in any way interesting or memorable at all. And I should know, I’ve bought all their bastard records. Now we are done, I need to hear the Great JJ Jackson, to give him his full title, again.
Written by Graham C, June 2002