Coming Across Criss

A few weeks ago, as her Question 31B, amylee asked for an instrumental song we love. I was thrilled at the clutch of warm responses to my choice of Sonny Criss playing I’ll Catch The Sun. The idea fermented to follow this up with a post celebrating the alto saxophonist, principally to give you a few more examples of his playing. This is what I’m doing here but it occurred to me that I’ve been trying off and on for 23 years to tell the world about Sonny Criss and thus the influence his voice has had on mine is also something I want to consider. As a result, I’m supersizing my blogging by twinning this post with one on my own blog, contemplating the literary issues that unspool from my Sonny Criss fandom.

This is a brief and not at all comprehensive primer, courtesy of YouTube, of my favourite instrumental voice in jazz. That’s an accolade that requires some clarification and contextualisation. There are, if we are to give these terms any meaning, ‘greater’ jazz musicians than Sonny Criss. Quite apart from anything else, Criss was one of the legion alto saxophonists who were turned onto a style of playing by Charlie Parker. There’s a reason we call the likes of Criss, Sonny Stitt, Cannonball Adderley, Jackie McLean, Sahib Shibab and more post-Bird saxophonists – it’s not to their detriment that they stood in the conceptual shadow of someone who, to all intents and purposes, made the music new again. You don’t look to Sonny Criss for game-changing innovation. He wasn’t pulling the blues inside-out: he was playing them straight, sultry, smoky and spine-tingling, as here in Black Coffee:

I bow before Mingus, Monk, Ellington, Carla Bley, Sun Ra and plenty more jazz composers before I think of Sonny Criss. But just as I can hear most songs better when they’re sung by Ella, Sinatra or Sarah Vaughan, Sonny could play a song lyric to the same level of perfection of those vocalists. Here he is on Charlie Chaplin’s Smile and Jimmy Webb’s Up Up And Away (links via text to save screen space).

Nor did he move with the times in the manner of Miles Davis or, more recently, David Murray. Things funked up a little in the seventies but the sound that soared over the top of the groove was still that wondrously fluid, human heart-tugging voice, as here in Cool Struttin’ .

Sonny Criss works for me as instantly as the voices of those I love most in the world. I’ll rave about and dance to and revere and be inspired by countless others but Sonny’s notes trigger a thousand awakenings in my brain and across my body. I feel encapsulated by the sense of mortality and intoxicated by the desire for joy that I hear throughout the dozens of his recordings I own. I want to line up loads more for you to enjoy but I’ll leave you with just this, and embed it so it doesn’t get overlooked and by way of a birthday gift to steenbeck, a captivating God Bless The Child:

The All-New ‘Spill Weekly Song Challenge

After the emotional hothouse that was the 30-Day Musical Challenge, we now step into the pasture of mutually supportive self-immolation that will become the Weekly Song Challenge (or something with a better name, once the focus group – that’s you guys – kicks it around for a bit).

The format is the same as for the Facebook 30Qs: you choose one song in response to each theme and post it with an appropriate justification and ideally a link. Based on discussions so far, here are the guidelines for how we can make this work as a weekly thing – they are of course open to tweaks and adaptations as we go along:

- A new challenge will appear every Tuesday - 10pm became the traditional time for the 30Qs but I’m sure this will be more flexible as stewardship changes hands each week

- We take it in turns to set the challenge – whoever wants to set next week’s challenge, make yourself known over the course of the thread. If no-one has volunteered by, say, Friday, the job defaults to whoever posted first.

EDIT: We now have takers for the next two weeks. The challenge on Tuesday 9th will be set by treefrogdemon. On Tuesday 16th mein host will be Abahachi.

- No artist can be duplicated in one week - whoever posts firsts gets to keep their choice. No gratuitous selections of Tom Petty or The Grateful Dead just to piss tfd or Chris off as that would be mean.

- However, unlike in the 30Qs, song choices can be repeated in subsequent weeks (though we might want to impose a one-week prohibition follwoing selection, like with artists making the RR Top 10) – because it’s doubtful anyone’s going to want to keep track of everyone’s choices indefinitely.

- Challenge questions don’t have to be as pithily worded as the 30Qs – I’m just saying this to cover myself, as you’ll see below, but with so many of the big things in life covered last month, we’re inevitably going to be peeping into the cracks so we can probably afford to be more precise and/or convoluted in our questioning than would have been appropriate for the Facebook masses.

- I’ve not set it up so don’t look at me but we can get together a Dropbox folder of choice cuts each week.

Feel free to add to and alter those rules. Now here’s my decidely unpithily-worded challenge:

A song by an artist/band you’d never heard of a year ago (or you knew about but had never knowingly listened to)…

The EOTWQ Wears Its Disappointment Like A Badge Of Honour

1] The actor Nigel Havers is pictured here showing off the tattoo he had inscribed on his arm for the BBC4 ‘twixt-comedy-and-chat show, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, in which Marcus Brigstocke invites out-of-touch celebrities to sample staples of prole, youth or cognoscenti culture they’d hitherto avoided or about which they’d dwelt in blissful ignorance. In a memorable display of damn good sportness, Havers got a tat, found that he adored The Simpsons, was pleasantly surprised by a Big Mac, and HERE found a route into The Smiths. Naturally, such a high-concept show had me considering what might be the gaps in my own popular culture experience, although I get little further than the title because I actually have never seen Star Wars.
So Question 1: Dislocation – which apparently essential cultural experience, one that simply everyone else has done/read/watched/tasted/etc, has managed to pass you by?

2] Still with BBC4-related quizzery: last year, back in the days when I (shudder) contributed to Guardian blogs other than RR, there was a film blog asking for suggestions of “TV shows you’d like to see re-made for the big screen.” The idea I posted was “Flight Of The Conchords: The Musical – directed by Michel Gondry.” Many months later, I sat down to watch an episode of the second FOTC series, and the director was of course Michel Gondry. Now, it’s not likely anyone got this idea from my one post on that Guardian blog but I did wonder about what the process and resulting kudos might have been if I’d been more active in turning my idea into this actual (if relatively small) cultural product.
Thus Question 2: Voice In The Wilderness Which of your achievements should have guaranteed you riches, glory or fame were it not for the conspiracy of a mocking Universe?

3] This question rips off a question ejaydee posed on the mothership earlier, asking what is the thing people are least proud of having done. Since a particularly lurid confession might place the ‘Spillers in exactly the same moral quandary as Montgomery Clift in I Confess, I’ll adapt the question:
Question 3: Shame. (a)If you could erase one thing you have done in your past, what would it be? and (b) Which one thing could you have done that you most regret not having done?

4] It’s not all about the politics of despair even in cruelty week, though. Question 4 sheds a little nightlight on the quiz.
Question 4. Fleeting Innocence You can answer this in your guise as a parent, grandparent or former child, or a combination – which is/was your favourite children’s book?

5] In honour of the RR social and reflecting on the ale-laced memoirs of those who attended, as a follow-up to the discussions on dinner party politicking and etiquette in last week’s EOTWQ, and because I bizarrely found myself at the Queen’s garden party last Tuesday (the explanation of why I was there makes it less bizarre but it’s too boring to go into right now), we close this oddly emo-flavoured quiz with a multiple choice.
Question 5: The Despairing Quest For Acceptance. You have the choice to be dropped into one of these social situations – in which one would you feel most comfortable?
(a) Drink down the pub
(b) Foody dinner party
(c) Queen’s garden party
(d) Just you, a tumbler of something free-poured, and your tunes
(e) An after-hours shebeen/lock-in/drinking den/speakeasy
(f) A big family do

Avanti Popolo!

If the Revolution thread has shown us anything, it’s that any revolution is interpreted by its participants in as many different ways as we’ve found musical interpretations of the theme. I don’t expect this selection to have us all rising up together to throw off the fascist yoke of the, um, community moderators but (watch Novecento - six hours long, no time to explain here…) if that Donald Sutherland wanders past my house after I’ve listened to this lot, he might just get a pitchfork up his jacksy:

Bandiera Rossa
Swamp Dogg
Delta Man (Where I’m Coming From)
Arrested Development
Steel Pulse
Curtis Mayfield
Can you hear the drums?
The Three Degrees
Albert Ayler
Jimmy James and the Vagabonds
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

Chips With Everything

Nice picture of Clive Owen with a white shirt and dicky bow in ‘Croupier’ rather than of Christopher Walken with a white shirt accessorised with his brains in ‘The Deer Hunter’ because in this lucky seven selection, there’s a general acceptance that your luck may be bad or good, but there’s always another spin of the wheel to come.
First of all, we have Willie Dixon, fortunate with his songwriting gifts but as one of the most ripped-off musicians in history, not so lucky in business. Comp him a cocktail but don’t ask him to choose where to place your chips. The Sylvers aren’t old enough to go to a casino and, some would say, not old enough to know so much about love but Bebo’s helping them with the latter and fake online IDs are getting them a fix of the former. Swamp Dogg’s perpetually on his way out the door to find out where someone put the sunshine, but that loose slot machine near the exit just keeps convincing him that it’s worth another shot. Frank Sinatra would tell him it isn’t, but he part-owns the casino so he just pats him on the back and goes off to see a show…
In the showtune section, we have Liza Minelli, charmingly oblivious to the advance of Nazism, pinning all her hopes on a noncommittal English bisexual; Marlon Brando is hoping to roll a seven but in this list he only makes six; the coveted No.7 goes to Stanley Holloway and his mates.

I Ain’t Superstitious
Roulette Wheel Of Love
Buzzard Luck
Sally Bowles
Skye Masterson
Alfred Doolittle Esq.

Soul Music

Ten minutes or so of floorboards creaking with submerged childhood memories; the tormented wails of abandoned lovers blending into the frequency at which the banshees broadcast their nightly howls; spirits up from the graves and marching towards the freedom denied them in life; and people walking over their own grave.

Ode to Tony Joe

Nothing to do with beds, this post picks up on a comment by ToffeeBoy about my travelling playlist. TB picked out Tony Joe White’s Aspen Colorado for special mention and it reminded me that, where Tony Joe White is concerned, that reaction was by no means a first.

I’ve got to thank, for my Tony Joe devotion, the screenwriter Neville Smith, who wrote the Albert Finney film, Gumshoe, (and who is incidentally another ToffeeBoy – he and Ken Loach made the film The Golden Vision in the ’60s, about Everton fans). Neville’s twin son and daughter were my best friends when I was at University in Liverpool, and into our music-obsessed group of friends, they introduced some of the sounds with which their dad had raised them. These included musicians I continue to love – Arthur Alexander, Nick Drake, Jim Croce – and there was also one song that, once heard, became something more than a favourite song. It was an intimate, a confidant, one of the gang. The song was Polk Salad Annie. We knew every word, each jag and twinge of the guitar, each vocal grunt like Barry White gone country. We knew the spoken intro the same way me and my brother knew every inflection of Pete Wylie’s spoken outro to Story of the Blues years earlier. We’d recognise the song just from the “Four” counting it in right at the beginning. We called the song “Four” as a term of affection. For ages, it was just the one song, though there was a promise of a Best Of LP in Neville’s collection that would be purloined on a visit home one time. When that arrived, Tony Joe White became something like a Talmudic text.

And the thing was, it was everyone. Someone might have popped round; if Tony Joe White happened to be playing while they were there, the response would always be, “Who is this?”. These were the days of mix-tapes designed to curry favour with pot dealers, impress the pants off an object of affection or save having to spend dole money on a birthday present and, invariably, a Tony Joe White track would be seized upon by the recipient and there’d be a follow-up request for a TJW sampler. So this sampler is constructed in loving memory of temps perdue but also in the confidence that Tony Joe White’s music can still win converts.

What we have here are eight TJW numbers, kicking off with Polk Salad Annie, which is well-known thanks to the cover version by Elvis, and rounded up with Rainy Night In Georgia, another TJW composition (he also wrote Steamy Windows for Tina Turner) that provided others with hits. Elsewhere, we have country rhinestone, soul fried chicken and bluesy bourbon in such a distinctly American concoction that it should come as no surprise that TJW has lived for many years among the people who most fervently embraced his music, the French.

Polk Salad Annie
Soul Francisco
Willie and Laura Mae Jones
High Sheriff of Calhoun Parish
Groupy Girl
I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby
Look Of Love
Rainy Night In Georgia

Get On The Bus (or take a long walk) (or board the freedom train)

Ten treks that all happen to take place around the States. Not sure how large an electoral college this represents but it’s certainly a hard campaign trail, and you’ll have earned your chance for relaxation and reflection by the end of it. All the named tracks were nominated this week. As for identifying the unnamed 10th track, I’m afraid you’re on yer jack jones.

EDIT: I didn’t have it as an mp3 last night but I also wanted to ‘Spill Tony Joe White’s Aspen Colorado so I’ve now added it, newly peeled off my TJW Black & White LP, so excuse the fluff.

The Staple Singers – Long Walk To D.C.
Jim Croce – Walkin Back To Georgia
Judy Garland – The Trolley Song
Charles Mingus – Boogie Stop Shuffle
Bobbi Humphrey – Harlem River Drive
Judee Sill – There’s A Rugged Road
The Last Poets – On The Subway
Jim Croce – I Got A Name
Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – 95 South (All Of The Places We’ve Been)

Tony Joe White – Aspen Colorado

Someone’s clamped the mothership

I know the nomination window had closed and the posts were getting longer and more loftily theoretical, and I also know I want to do a blog with some actual music on it here this week – but this is just a quick one: is anyone else a bit put out that this week’s RR blog has been closed for further comment?

The Everything Man vs The Banana Love Walrus vs The Speng

(1) Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Supersound!

(2) Barry White pushes his plantain in our general direction.

(3) “What are we going to do tonight, Speng?”
“The same thing we do every night. Plan TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!”

The Jimmy Castor Bunch – Supersound
The Banana Splits ft Barry White – Doin’ The Banana Split
Blimpy and the Speng

Reggae Comp: Rub-A-Dub-A-Bubbling Under

As a tributary to GoneForeign’s magnificent Reggae playlist, here’s a brief selection of personal favourites. By the way, I challenge you to listen to the Rupie Edwards track henceforth, especially on this site, and not imagine you’re hearing the refrain, “Spenga…spenga…spenga…”

Manual Overdrive

Some machines with a human heart:

1] Not the Scooter remix, not the Lee Perry track of the same name, just the ‘toon theme. Thanks to Penny for rescuing this from the vaults in the nick of time.

2] Anna Lockwood – Breathing Machine. Nebuliser soul.

3] Slim Gaillard – Cement Mixer. Any takers for a debate as to whether Slim Gaillard is the most genial presence in the history of popular music? Whatever, he gets my vout.

4] Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Multi-Horn Medley: Satin Doll/Lover. Not one for this week’s theme but, short of a one-man band and without a plug involved, this has got to be one of the great musical contraptions. Not just the three-horn set-up, including instruments which didn’t exist until their sound was dreamt up by Kirk, but the wind turbine of circular breathing that was the man himself.

5] “It was a dodgy Transformer again and again…a dodgy Transformer that cost £3.10.”

RIP Norman Whitfield

I just heard this morning about the death of Norman Whitfield, the songwriter and producer, at the age of 68, so I had to mark the occasion by posting a quick tribute. I offer only a grab-bag of his production milestones here because you could lose the next day or two very easily exploring his work in soul and jazz-funk music.

An appreciation of Norman Whitfield needs first and foremost to pay respect to Barrett Strong, his writing partner and lyricist. And you have to place the Whitfield-Strong partnership in the context of the in-house machine at Motown – Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ashford and Simpson, Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua…alongside such powerhouses, with the extraordinary Funk Brothers house band, and with groups like The Velvelettes to service with killer tunes, you’re going to produce glorious soul music almost by default.

Norman Whitfield took things beyond even the collective Hitsville imagination and I’d place him in a triumvirate of visionaries, with Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield, who, in the mid-1960s, identified a role for soul music – the sound of the streets, the music of the masses, the soundtrack for lovers and dancers – as an explicit platform for social comment, resistance and agitation. Whitfield’s weapon of choice was The Temptations – tracks 2 and 3 below. It’s well-documented that The Tempts themselves weren’t wholly committed to the political, psychedelic soul sound their new boss lumbered them with for the Puzzle People album and they’d insist on sticking to the love songs for live shows. Very possibly. But this paints them as bimbos and Whitfield as a dictatorial agit-prop merchant. I wasn’t there but I can’t imagine that any Black man in America at the time could have sung a track like Message… and not feel it to his core; and Whitfield’s work on the group’s whole sound transformed what could just be a plaintive lover’s lament like Ain’t Too Proud To Beg into a fierce, defiant anthem for a people on the move.
Whitfield-era Temptations is one of my absolute, unparalleled loves in music, and has to be seen as his greatest work. It wasn’t a scenario in which he was in total creative control, though, and he recruited The Undisputed Truth to carry out his vision in the studio and in live shows. Not just dour social documentaries, though – this selection shows that feelgood soul had never left the agenda.
Last track offers another dimension – you know how you can be knocked out Scorsese, Kurosawa, Kiorastami, Fellini, whoever, but there’s always a odd daft, knockabout comedy or musical that’s closest to your heart? That film for me is Car Wash, and Whitfield’s soundtrack for Rose Royce is the driving force (yes, I see what I did there) – in fact, it’s probably the reason they’ll soon be making a heavy-handed remake of the movie. But beyond its grooviness and empathy with the film’s narrative, there’s still a sense in the lovelorn lyrics of …Next To You of striving for a better life that always lifted a Norman Whitfield song above the isolated concerns of two people, to speak for universal change.

Little Ant-hems

In response to DaddyPig but also just to indulge myself with one of the great under-the-radar doo-wop-turned-soul vocal groups, here are three Little Anthony & The Imperials tracks plus a substitute for one that’s got away.

1] Gonna Fix You Good (Every Time You’re Bad).
This was my nomination for the revenge theme, and it’s probably closer to an “I ‘ate you, Butler!” shake of the fist (see the Inspector Blakey reference in my last post) than a revenge fantasy that’ll have anyone sleeping with one eye open. Be that as it may, this rattles along with an unforgettable call-and-response vocal and is quite glorious. It also sets up the theme (DP alluded to this on the mothership) of Little Ant as a chronic dumpee. The next two tracks do nothing to dispel this image.

2] Hurts So Bad
Tumultuous break-up melodrama. Little Ant’s voice here is arguably never better that when it gets to soaring here.

3] Better Use Your Head
There’s are Imperial moments for all manner of R&B/soul moods and this is your Northern Soul selection. She’s leaving him yet again and at least he’s come up with a case for his defence (“you will never find another love like me your whole life through”). You just know he’ll be hurting so bad, on the outside looking in, going out of his head in a world of darkness soon enough.

4] David Ruffin – World Of Darkness
I’ve namechecked a few other essential Little Ant tracks above and would also mention Ten Commandments of Love (the doo-wop Imperial selection), I’m Hypnotized (Little Ant morphs into Davey Jones from The Monkees) and I’m Falling In Love With You (simply because he actually seems like he’ll get the girl in that one).
One of my favourites is the 1970 single World Of Darkness. I adored it on friends’ compilations back when I lived mainly in other people’s houses but can’t track it down online. There’s nothing whatsoever the matter with David Ruffin’s version – it sounds like a David Ruffin track and that clearly is a very good thing. But The Imperials channel the Jackson 5 at their most exhilarating in their version, so I’d urge you to join the search for it.

Jerry Spiller The Opera

No Inspector Blakey here, not even Art Blakey, but three tracks crying out to be paraded in front of a braying crowd on Springer or Jeremy Kyle.

1] Aaron Neville in the early 60s, teamed up with Allen Toussaint at Minit Records for a series of immensely bluesy, cleverly written slices of deep soul, including this wonderfully nasty piece of work. Not exactly preparing her ideally for the lie detector test later in the show.

2] Swamp Dogg doesn’t know whether to feel betrayed or horny at this classic squaring (or triangling) of the menage a trois circle (or triangle).

3] I don’t care if this makes the A list. I just love it. Every member of my family loves it, and you can’t say that about all the music I force upon them. The simply glorious Honey Cone come straight outta Walford with this pregnancy/shotgun wedding revenge fantasy.

The Song Is The Story

Some meanderings about the idea of songs that embody moments or periods in history rather than report on them, here are a few takes on the eyewitness testimony.

Civil Rights: “Black In A White World” – The Watts Prophets
Because my iTunes seems not to allow me to convert m4a files into mp3, this one isn’t in the player below so I’m hoping this link will take you to where you can find it (about four tracks down).

World War One: “And When They Ask Us (They’ll Never Believe Me)” – Oh! What A Lovely War original cast recording
A faux-eyewitness account within a work of ironical fiction, but in terms of emotional truth, it’s spot-on. Of course, it’s utterly a product of the hindsight with which we now view the war. But the construction of that hindsight – whether through the ritual of Remembrance Day, the establishment or adoption of monuments like the fields of white crosses used at the end of Richard Attenborough’s film while this song played, or in the way the political theatre pioneered by O!WALW’s original director Joan Littlewood created a language with which to revise the Empire’s glorious history – is the product of still more historical moments, movements and phases.

Watergate: “Impeach The President” – The Honey Drippers
What I like about this is the innocence and immediacy of the experience it conveys. There’s not a whole load of analysis going on – “Some people say that he’s guilty/ Some people say give him a chance” – just a huge buzz that a constitutional Unthinkable was in the offing. The protest chant of “Impeach the President” becomes a call to party (and not the jackass or the elephant) in the Honey Drippers’ hands and it reminds me of the whoosh of liberation I remember from hearing “God Save The Queen and her fascist regime” in the midst of the silver jubilee celebrations.

Liverpool 8: “Children Of The Ghetto / Stanhope Street” – The Real Thing
Not concurrent with the ’81 uprising, or Toxteth Riots as the world outside the L8 postcode knows them, but (like the Watts Prophets’ lament) this is a beautiful articulation of the soul of a community living in a pressure cooker. We had some discussion about Liverpool’s Capital of Culture activities on the mothership blog week and one of the interesting things about living in a city busy reinventing itself is how it gussies up its history to sell to newcomers and future visitors. Well, I certainly wouldn’t say The Real Thing are being airbrushed out of the city’s musical legacy, but you wonder what they’d have needed to do to be ranked up there with Atomic Kitten – and that’s a crime when you consider the timelessness of their big hits but also when you hear this segment of their conceptual Liverpool 8 medley.

Truth & Reconciliation

The theme of musical heroes set in early in the Hero Worship theme and it’s got me thinking about the way a “music taste” is constructed over years and how that thing, a taste in music, is actually a bogus conceit. I reckon I acquired my “music taste” at an age where everything about me was defined in opposition to what I was not or by what I aspired to be. Such a molten identity – and yet the notion of having a tangible taste that was hermetically sealed (though admission into which was possible if accompanied by a signed reference from John Peel and my elder brother) seemed wholly logical and remains hard to shift.

It’s easy now to say that the punk, reggae and new wave that sparked my obsession with music, the blues and soul and jazz that came to define my musical universe, and the hip-hop that subsequently became a passion, all mingle together and with other genres as happily within me as they do on the shuffle feature of my iPod, or in conversations with the RR crowd. But if they do so, it’s come after a process that, in my mind, resembles the procedures of the Truth and Reconciliation committee in post-apartheid South Africa. Below are three exhibits: Exhibit A follows on from steenbeck’s Donald Byrd discussion as the most eloquent explanation of why this jazz fan came to embrace hip-hop; Exhibit B is an example of a record I would have told myself I hated when it was out, but which has always stubbornly made a play for my affections in defiance of the company it would keep there; Exhibit C is a track that isn’t necessarily the greatest piece of music ever recorded, nor indeed the only song anyone should ever bother listening to, except whenever I hear it and find it impossible to deny either proposition. There could have been more exhibits – the point is that I don’t think I possess a “taste in music” anymore, just that I’m made up of thousands of musical narratives like these.

Blimpy’s idea of a record for each of your record-buying years brought this into focus. What, for example, would I have put for 1979 that would be closest to the truth – The Jam’s version of Heatwave, say, which consciously or otherwise prepared the ground for the digging into soul history I still do thirty years later; or something by The Police, whom I know I idolised at the time (until about 1980) but who now just don’t do anything for me. Was I labouring under a false consciousness at the time – like those pro-apartheid South Africans whose censored media and privileged lifestyles prevented their innate humanity from connecting with the suffering carried out in their interests? When I became immersed in jazz and resolute that the status of the music, and all Black music, was historically undermined by imperialism and institutional racism, a corollary was that certain of my past musical heroes were, if not dead to me, then in need of a sort of cultural forgiveness. The Jam, Joy Division and Blondie were waved through; The Clash too, but with songs like Train In Vain taking pride of place where Complete Control had been before; Ian Dury emerged as a figure, more relevant than before, who’d been introducing me to Acid Jazz years before Gilles Peterson thought up the term; The Pogues got the odd tune like Rainy Night In Soho through but had to leave the main body of their work behind; The Smiths’ reconciliation process was one of the longer ones; U2 never made it. I’m not so hung up about any of this now but I wonder if others have put their own musical heroes through similar processes.

All we have are our narratives. Now I look back, I know there was no Damascene moment that turned me onto any of the genres of music around which most of my listening coalesces. It barely happens with individual acts – there are always odd cases where I can remember a particular name exploding into hero status through hearing them on the radio (Swamp Dogg), taking an almost random chance with one of their records (Sonny Criss) or seeing them live (Curtis Mayfield), but it’s largely a combination of influence, incremental increase in affection, or freeing oneself up to admit that, whatever my 13/17/21/25-year-old self may have said about all this, I Love This Music.