Tag Archives: rachel fox

Some Justice by Urban Shakedown (Urban Shakedown Recordings)

WHEN Michael Eavis decided that the Glastonbury should take a year off in 1991, he spent a lot of his  time trying to work out a way of keeping freeloaders and other non-paying fellow-travellers out of the festival. The idea he came up with was to surround the entire site with a very big fence.

The following year Tom Jones, Blur, Television, the Fall, Curve, Primal Scream, the Levellers, PJ Harvey, Carter USM, James, the Breeders, Billy Bragg, Van Morrison, Kitchens of Distinction and  Spritualized were on the bill – and numbers of fence-hoppers were right down.

Among the thousands of lucky festival-goers were my then-girlfriend and me, inveterate freeloaders both. We’d managed to blag into the festival by writing a lengthy preview for the magazine we both worked for at the time.

I don’t recall seeing any of the bands above – not even the mighty Fall – but we did manage to catch the Shamen, which I think was just about the first time a dance act had played on one of the bigger stages at Glastonbury. Unfortunately, “good lights” is about the most either of us can remember about this groundbreaking performance. But they were always pretty good live, weren’t they, the Shamen?

“I think you and I only stayed two nights and didn’t sleep at all. We were up all night and too hot to sleep in the tent in the day. I do remember it wasn’t a lot of fun really,” says that same ex-girlfriend now. “Too hot, too skint, too tired, too paranoid, too scared of the toilets, going off crowds so only really being able to cope at night… Maybe you enjoyed it more.”

I probably did. I didn’t even notice how bad a time she was having, which probably says a lot.

I’ve just got a loose jumble of disembodied memories from the weekend. One of the most vivid is of an ambulance inching its way through a very packed crowd after one of the big acts had finished on the Pyramid stage one night. Some drug-nut planted himself square in front of it, crying and bellowing and wailing his heart out, not letting them by until they promised to take him away too. We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

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Filed under hardcore / rave, hip replacement

Radio Mentals

WHILE Richard Curtis probably isn’t someone you would turn to for stark social realism, the story of pirate radio deserves a slightly more serious appraisal than that found in his latest happy-go-lucky comedy, The Boat That Rocked.

Curtis’s Sixties-set tale of high-jinks on the high seas has received mixed reviews – “fine if it were funny, but auto-pilot Curtis prevails”, said one reviewer; “I am going to email Richard Curtis and tell him I hate him and ask for my money back,” said another – but unlicensed radio remains a staple of British culture to this day.

In The Boat That Rocked, much is made of the fact that a hopelessly out-of-touch BBC played just 45 minutes of the new-fangled pop music per day, meaning that pop-hungry teenagers had no option but to tune into stations that took the music they loved more seriously.

In reality, despite attracting daily audiences of up to 25million people, the pirates’ brash and breezy US-style of commercial radio was anathema to Harold Wilson’s Labour government – although the official line was that pirate radio broadcasts had the potential to blot out the signals of legally-sanctioned stations, as well as emergency services and air traffic control communications.

The then-Postmaster General Tony Benn declared war on the pirates in 1965 with the promise, “the future does not exist for them”.

Although the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967 sank the pirates anchored just outside British waters, and a couple of years later Radio One (fronted by many former pirate DJs) soaked up their audience, unlicensed radio never really went away.

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Filed under expletive undeleted, features

Faith, hope and charity shops

IN HER time, Rachel Fox has been “a claustrophobic club DJ, an alternative pub quiz host, an unambitious journalist, an immature teacher, a paranoid shop assistant and a market researcher who didn’t really care what the answers were”.

These days, she lives in Angus in north east Scotland and looks after her family full-time – partly because she likes it, partly because it gives her more writing time and partly because she is very bad at keeping regular jobs.

Her poetry is beautifully simple and concise but it has a lot of heart and I like it. And it’s suffused with an enduring love of music, in many if not all of its forms. She’s just posted a rather sad and funny little poem about the rave era comedown.

But it seemed like such a laugh at the time!

Still doing the business, proudly proclaiming its mission to bring old music to new people, Dirty Martini specialises in putting together downloadable sequences of the music which has soundtracked Ms Martini’s life, more often than not drawing from Eighties and Nineties soul and R&B. There’s some truly excellent stuff here.

Recent highlights include a Prince collaborations special, a collection of homegrown R&B from the last couple of years and Ten Madonna Songs I Don‘t Hate. I wish she’d write a little bit more about her selections though.

Context is king!

We all know that the interesting, well-written stuff can get lost in the sheer amount of very bad writing out here on the webnet. That’s why, when you do find someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s a real pain in the arse when they seem to give it up as a bad job.

Natty Rajah seems to be having a break at the moment, which I hope won’t be permanent. Her impeccable taste and informed, insightful writing about classic reggae music from 1970 to 1985 would be much missed.

It’s unlikely that I’m going to be in the market for any Mott The Hoople albums in the near future (my loss, I know), but vintage rock vinyl-nerds should head here for an interesting piece about Oxfam’s increasingly irritating savviness – curse those internet-literate do-gooders! – in their secondhand record-pricing.

“The skip outside our BHF charity shop sometimes has some really good stuff in it,” comments Nik from Exeter. “I sold a book out of there on eBay for £12 to an Australian who also paid £12 postage. And found a photograph that is now in a museum.”

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Filed under expletive undeleted, hyperbole