Wednesday, February 15, 2006


1) NINJAMAN - True Love

Ninjaman might have become notorious for bragging about how he'd ventilated a vanload of cops by the age of 2, but he was capable of some responsible social commentary as well, whether condemning zig-zagging motorists from the sanity of his bicycle on "Drink And Drive", threatening to wreak vigilante vengeance on washing line thieves on "Gimme Pass" or upstaging the Grange Hill cast with "No Hard Drugs".

"True Love" showed Ninja's sensitive side, over a rhythm and chorus that could both have easily sneaked off a UB40 album. Now, don't let that put you off, cos this track is pure class. The whole song's basically a test of his woman's dedication - would she still love him if he was blind? Or how about if he was a beggar? Or what if he was in a wheelchair? Or dead - could she really live without him? The best verse has him asking if she'd take him to the "psychologist" if he was a "madman", instead of ditching him. It's not that unreasonable really, he's just making sure he's got all angles covered.

2) PRINCE FAR-I - You I Love And Not Another

The Voice of Thunder has a soppy moment on the 100% absolutely fucking essential, hasn't-got-one-crap-second-on-it, "UNDER HEAVY MANNERS" LP (the record that inspired Joe Strummer's trousers). There's something really incredible about female voices when they're dub-phased, they kind of blam out over the rooftops (check Trinity's "Three Piece Suit") and create this ethereal echo. Prince Far-I basically pledges his undying love to his bird, with the promise "You may change but I will's true!", and even the most cynical man-hater would be dissolved in a sea of tears by his delivery. Probably. Not like I actually know any man-haters to back up this ill-thought out sentence.

3) DENNIS BROWN - Let Me Down Easy

Even Dennis Brown, one of the coolest men ever spawned on the planet, got dumped at some point. Here he pleads, "Let me down easy, give me time, to get over you bay-beee". It's a mature attitude, one I'd like to emulate at the end of a break-up, instead of listening to the 4-Skins, getting slaughtered and trying to punch the hardest-looking man in the pub (and being killed).

4) UK SUBS - Telephone Numbers

This tune harks back to a halcyon pre-mobile era when your only way of securing a date with some yummy punkette was to scribble her phone number down on the back of your paw, only to emerge from the gig with a dark blue blotch above your wrist, unable to tell the difference between the "6"s and "0"s. And then getting to the telephone box with your last 20p, only to find a load of freshly dumped 4-Skins fans have vandalised it. How many potential love affairs have been scuppered through the centuries, thanks to lack of technology? I'll go to my grave wondering if ***, ****** and ***** just fobbed me off with dead numbers, or if my atrocious handwriting let me down (again). The fact that Charlie Harper was able to compress this fountain of frustration into a 60-second blast of speed-freak punk only adds to this song's brilliance.

5) POGUES - London Girl / Lullaby of London

It's obvious that these tunes, despite their lyrical pretexts, (a final night out in a relationship nearing its end / a bloke singing his kid to sleep) are just thinly-veiled love songs to London. As Woebot pointed out while discussing Vivien Goldman's "Launderette" in his now-legendary Top 100 Records list, these songs hark back to Starbucks-free high streets, hidden alleyways and a more communal capital city.

I understand that admitting to liking the Pogues is about as un-hip as you can get nowadays (like I give a flying), and that some people instantly hate them, perceiving it to be fiddle-de-dee music over the same basic thump, but surely you, foolish sceptic, find it difficult to resist lyrics like these, which could have appeared on a Coil album -

The devil moon took me through the alley
Down by the Kardomah and the Centrale
To the mews running through the backstreets
Where the blacks sold fire and sleep
The devil moon took me out of Soho
Up to Camden where the cold north winds blow
Sucked along by a winter shower
To stand beside your shining tower

The light was going out, the moon was dying
The night was turning to a fine spring morning
The dogs were barking and the kids were shouting
The sun was splashing in a crystal fountain
When the cold winds come to find you
Blowing down from the top of the high rise
I’ll come and take you back down to Soho
Away from all those madmens' eyes

We don't actually get much info on the girl, but then again, The Pogues fell in love with places - is it any wonder that years later, on their patchy "Peace and Love" album, the song "White City" would boast more emotional clout and fond heartache than Simon Bates' entire record collection?

6) NEW YORK MODELS - Love On Video

Some '80s Bobby O one-off production that's hard to get now. I'm sure when it was released it seemed pretty far out, in a "Videodrome" sort of way, with the girl singer reasoning that it's more enjoyable (and less messy) to watch people making love on video than bothering to land a real boyfriend. I don't know if it's just me, but there's something a bit spooky about this song, which begs the question, is it possible to empathise with people from 25-year old videos and documentaries, none of whom you've ever met in real life?

7) THE POP GROUP - She Is Beyond Good And Evil

This is probably the only ever instance where the whispered line "She's the girl of my dreams" sounds like a death threat. Naturally, I played this to my lunatic ex, many moons ago. I honestly thought she'd melt when she heard that line, "Our only defence is together as an army / I'll hold you like a gun". Instead she moaned that it gave her a headache. Western values actually did mean something to her, so much that in 2003, she told me, without a hint of irony, that she supported the war on Iraq (her parents were from Pakistan, by the way). Anyway, sod all that. I still dream, one day, of listening to this song, and the entire "Y" album, while standing at the edge of the Mekong Delta with a cold beer and a fag.


A word of advice to James Blunt - the last person to have a hit entitled "You're Beautiful" was mega-nonce GARY GLITTER. I think "AM FM" came from Italy, but this is another disc shrouded in mystery. It's like a cross between early NY hip hop and a Stock, Aitken and Waterman slow jam, with a girl busting a rhyme about sending out a request to some elusive bloke who's been stringing her along, before deciding that stardom and religion are "boring" and all she really needs is frequency modulation. The chorus is glorious, and leads straight on to the best sax break ever. I don't know if she ever made another record, but this is a trillion times better than leaving a legacy of Sonic Youth LPs.


Admittedly, this is a bit of a cheat entry, because while it's no doubt a heartfelt tune, it just makes me roll around the floor, crying with laughter. It's absurd beyond belief - hearing her doing her fragile little angel act, that line, "There was a fire at the warehouse..." cracks me up everytime. Then it gets really mad, with the sound of a helicopter whirring overhead and some pilot vocal crackle. This is all before the church choir kicks in, by which point my ribs are aching and I'm questioning my own mental health.

10) CHARLIE - Spacer Woman

Space terminology works well in love songs, for some uncanny reason. Is there any better compliment from a woman than "Let me be your phaser"? Are the Homosexuals aware that they rendered romanticism obsolete with the lines "The only thing that gives you away / Is your incredible event horizon?" on their power pop smash "Neutron Lover"? This song's like waking up with one of the characters from "Battle of the Planets". All the more incredible considering I hate science fiction.
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