two spooky beats to every halloween bar

in my itunes recently added folder right now is harry belafonte‘s greatest hits. it’s ACERS and perfect for halloween because…

i can’t help thinking that there’s something slightly sinister about calypso – whether it’s the lyrics, or it’s origins in the slavetrade. or maybe it has something to do with winona ryder (slightly spooky in a nice way) dancing to calypso/calypso-influenced music in films?

first she floats up the stair-rail to the tune of ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ in beetlejuice (genius, tim burton). then a couple of years later she plays a slightly creepy teen with an obsession with nuns and does a kitchen dance-off with her mum (cher) and christina ricci in mermaids to ‘if you wanna be happy’. both a pure pleasure to watch, as well as listen to. but still – with a sinister vignette.

creepiness aside this got me thinking how good-for-disco all this syncopated rhythms and call-and-response stuff is. when the creeps played mr belafonte’s ‘jump in the line (shake senora)’ at one of our discos last year, we looked up and saw the dancefloor had turned into a mass conga. surreal, brilliant and a wee bit spooky.

so, in honour of the musical power of calypso and halloween on sunday, here are my favourite ten calypso/afrobeat/sounds like it could be calypso-influenced songs. in no particular order:

  • “if you wanna be happy” jimmy soul/roaring lion
  • “surprise hotel” fool’s gold
  • “feeling hot hot hot” arrow
  • “right by your side” eurythmics
  • “jump in the line (shake senora)” henry belafonte/lord kitchener
  • “white sky” vampire weekend
  • “banana boat song” henry belafonte
  • “on the wings of a dove” – madness
  • “graceland” – paul simon
  • “the lion sleeps tonight” – the tokens/solomon linda

i should add that the last song on this list was covered in 1982 by a band called tight fit, who in doing so somehow managed to bottle everything bad about the 80s in one small youtube clip. well done them:

srsly? leopard skin camel toes, jungle drums and safari helmets?


bands up trees

this could almost be as good as cats in sinks. it’s just as funny and probably more common.

while stalking for music on the internet i stumbled upon a classic example of the ‘group in a tree’ blend of band photography, precursor to the equally classic ‘group in a tree’ record sleeve. look:

melodica melody and me up a tree

the band: melodica, melody + me. from brixton with a two-tone tang (i think one of them plays one of those mouthpiece keyboards that you blow. a melodica, in fact) and an easy-on-the-ear cover of paul simon’s godly ‘diamonds on the soles of her shoes’. one way to lose these walking blues. downloadable HERE gratis, innit.

‘piece me back together’ is my favourite of the songs on their myspace page. notsomuch disco, more the sunday after.

(hope they don’t mind me borrowing the photo. it was taken by someone called robin j turner. i hope he/she doesn’t mind either.)

doing a quick search for other examples, i tried what i thought would be dead-certs for ‘group in a tree’ shots, noah and the whale and mumford and sons (disappointing – ‘group in front of a tree or few, and ‘group in a pose next to a tree’, respectively).

Noah and the Whale at Cambridge Folk Festival. 3rd August 2008.mumford and sons in front of a tree

so i went retro and looked up some old faithfuls: travis and the holloways (again, not quite there – just a tree, and ‘band in front of an urban tree’, respectively):

TRAVIS treeholloways in front of tree

by which point i was feeling tree’d out and bored of music with fiddles and wholesome country undertones. and possibly wrong about bands in trees.

duck sauce ‘barbra streisand’: don’t get it

there’s a bit at around 1.44 where a beardy guy with a feeding tube in his mouth says something like “so rough, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, so rough, barbra, barbra, barbra, barbra, barbra…” which i think, is meant to be funny. same for the bloke dressed up as her (badly)…

i’m not standing up for the streisand – trust me, i found the southpark mecha-streisand thing as pure hilarious as anyone, especially the smoking tits and the brilliant spookyvision – but come on, this duck sauce thing is a wee bit naff, no? even when played behind this belting piece of high-end southpark animation:

oh. wait there. famous people in the first video (it’s still going in the background). i’m sure i just saw santogold. ah, and that bloke from vampire weekend. a cast of hipsters. tribute. get it. google tells me it’s superfly disco house music by someone called a-tack who collaborated with dizzee on his last rekkid and the grauniad are saying it’s “deliciously odd”. right. being a dickhead’s cool. all over again but a bit less obvs. genius. love it. want to own it.

good to know:the streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted. it is named after barb, following a 2003 incident in which her attempts to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity”

thanks wikipedia, i love you. and i promise never to play duck sauce at the disco.

every day is like sunday

thinking of relevant things to post on here. relevant thing number#1 is the disco mixtape:

dirtyconverse mixtape sleeve

if your disco is all about music, then you should take time to make a mixtape to prove it, right?

if your equally as obsessed with seahorses, polka dots and typesetting then you take an even longer time making a beautiful sleeve for it.

so this is what the dirtyconverse mixtape looks like: a cd wrapped in a poster-zine. it says a lot about the disco and the people who have helped make it. mainly because we asked them all to choose a song and ten words explaining why.

this all actually happened a few weeks ago. at the time i sketched ideas for songs and the sleeve on a scrap of paper (and promptly lost it). so, belatedly, here it is.

if you’d like one then email your postal address to

thank-you to:

ruth and tamsin from unskinny bop; alex and john and camilla – the creeps; paul from scared to dance; rob; tim; the jo’s; la coop; the nicky; viks and darina; nick


Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Heatwave
Cher – Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves
Camera Obscura – French Navy
Sandie Shaw – Hand In Glove (Original Single Version)
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Pulsallama – The Devil Lives in my Husband’s Body
The Clash – Rock The Casbah
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Young Adult Friction
Joey Dee & The Starlighters – Peppermint Twist
The Knife – Pass This On
Magic – DJ Agent 86
Roxette – The Look
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere
Patti Smith Group – Rock n Roll Nigger