Music And Movies

I love a classy film soundtrack.If I made a Top 10 list there would be 10 more spring to mind that I had overlooked. The greatest of the composers are linked with great directors, Bernard Herrmann with Hitchcock, Nino Rota with Fellini and Ennio Morricone with Leone. Then there are the modern rock age scores, Ry Cooder’s “Paris Texas”, Vangelis “Blade Runner” and Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man”. The bespoke works of Jack Nitzsche for “Cuckoo’s Nest”, Popol Vuh’s “Aguirre” and Philip Glass’ “Koyaanisqatsi”. Missed out some great ones ? Of course I have, I told you I would.

“Easy Rider” was a breakthrough film in many ways. For the first time Hollywood let young people make a movie for the young. While that market was there waiting for such a film the use of rock tracks found a new one. The “Easy Rider” soundtrack LP was the first to be bought by many people, followed by the “Woodstock” and “A Clockwork Orange” albums. Now there is a pick and mix approach to the soundtracks of almost all movies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s just crass. If I hear one more Nick Drake song in one more crappy US rom-com it will still be wrong. Here are three random but favourite uses of rock music in movies.

Martin Scorsese has always used rock and roll in his films. He edited the “Woodstock” movie, in “Mean Streets” there is a fantastic selection of doo-wop and R&B along with a couple of Rolling Stones songs. Over 30 years later he shows the touch of a master in his introduction of Jack Nicholson’s character, Frank Costello. The scene is edited to “Gimme Shelter” the ominous Stones’ classic. The monologue ends with Charlie’s drum beats, he leaves the deli to Merry Clayton’s cries of “Rape! Murder!”. I know that “The Departed” owes a big debt to “Infernal Affairs”. I know that the original is probably the better movie. I had paid my money to see the great Jack Nicholson doing his job properly again in a Scorsese flick where wise guys got violent and swore imaginatively with some good music along the way. After this opening scene I settled into my comfy seat knowing that I was going to enjoy this film and be entertained by a great director. The world outside the cinema could wait for a couple of hours.

A battered set of wheels, a beer, a joint and a Creedence tape playing. What’s not to love ? For 40 whole seconds Jeff “Dude” Lebowski is a happy man. “The Big Lebowski” is the Coen Brothers’ rock and roll movie. The Dude, “I bowl, drive around, the occasional acid flashback” is hero for our times. In a film which is more quoted and more quotable than any in recent times “what day is…is this a weekday ?” is the funniest because, in my case, it is the truest. My inner Dude ? Whaddya mean inner ? In 1998 when this film was released I went to the cinema on consecutive weekends to see it.

Joel and Ethan had a top script and got themselves a top soundtrack for the film. Captain Beefheart, Dylan, Elvis Costello, Kenny Rogers, you know, the greats. The Eagles are in there a couple of times. Once to have a delicious dig at them and to get the Dude thrown out of a cab, another the brilliant raucous noise of the Gypsy Kings’ version of “Hotel California”. It is the Dude’s attachment to Creedence Clearwater Revival, music which makes you happy, which makes us smile. This scene is only edited to the music for the final drumbeats. There are those younger than me who were introduced to CCR by this film. “Looking Out My Back Door” is their gateway to their discovery of some fine music. The Dude, indeed, abides.

In the 1970s director Hal Ashby made 7 memorable films. The second of these, 1971’s “Harold And Maude” is a comedy about suicide and love, death and living. It is a brilliant life-affirming experience. If you know the film then this clip, from near the end, will be as poignant as on the first viewing. If you don’t know the film then enjoy the music of Cat Stevens.

Cat Stevens was a teenage pop star, writing his own songs, who suffered a bout of tuberculosis and re-emerged as a sensitive singer-songwriter. His songs of innocence and experience, with a couple written for the film could not have suited the film any better. Ashby was an editor before he was a director. He only needs the music and the images to tell the story and he does it with a brilliance that few have matched. “Harold and Maude” is one of the great screen love stories but was a commercial flop on it’s release. We would see the film as often as we could in the art-house repertory cinemas and loved to introduce it to people who did not know it.

I am writing this on my 60th birthday. I guess that now I am officially old…how did that happen? Thinking about “Harold and Maude” makes me think of Maude, played by the amazing Ruth Gordon. This 80 year old lived a life of extremes but retains an anarchistic (if sometimes illegal) appetite and energy for new experience. It is not just the youth who could use a role model and Maude will suit me just fine for the next 20 years. In her spirit I will add this clip, she would not end with a sad one…because there’s a million things to be you know that there are.




Music and Memories (Martin Simpson)

Martin Simpson has been a professional artist for 40 years now. He plays the guitar, his facility, dexterity and talent on the instrument justifies his reputation, in the realms of  blues and folk music, as one of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art . I can claim to be the first person to know how good he is. We sat together at school for 3 years, he lived a spit (with a fair wind) away from my house and we would discover music together while pretending to do our homework. I was around when Martin first picked up a guitar as a 12 year old kid. It was a pleasure to hear him play then and it has remained so as I have followed his music and his progress over all these years.

It took some time for Martin to write his own songs, he operates in a traditional music with an rich and endless supply of wonderful tunes. “Never Any Good” his song from 2007 won awards in the UK as the folk song of the year. It is about his father, a man I remember as spirited and engaging. He certainly was different from my other friends’ dads. It’s an amenity to have a connection with the songs Martin has written about his youth. To proffer the idea that “East Common Lane” is the best hometown song ever may be hyperbole. It is certainly the finest song  written about our steel-making industrial town.

It was the first Bob Dylan LP what done it…the poet of our generation  was called a “folk” singer but that record is just full of the blues. As an entry point into American music we saw no difference between Woody Guthrie or Blind Willie McTell. If they were both good enough for Bob then we were not going to argue. Martin would decipher (with amazing ease) the guitar parts while I enjoyed both the recorded and live performances. He began to play at the local folk club, my first exposure to the power and pleasure in live music. The patrons were only too eager to loan Martin their prized records. We would inhale this vinyl and gorge on this fantastic old, but new to us,  music, two 14 year old boys intoxicated by the artistry of these old singers and pickers.

Years later I heard Martin play a Dylan song on the radio. He spoke of “us” getting paid from  our paper round, sharing a bottle of cider and lying on the floor trying to deduce the meaning of Dylan’s lyrics. Holy what…I was in my house alone, no-one to tell that they were talking about me on the radio ! I would bring some of the great and innovative new music around. Watching Martin bend the strings of his acoustic guitar to emulate Jimi Hendrix was a moment of jaw-dropping realisation that my friend could do anything with this instrument.

When my Dad was alive I would keep him informed of Martin’s career and progress. Dad remembered him fondly. He would proudly remind me of Martin’s first professional engagement. Dad organized an evening’s entertainment at the local rugby club. Martin performed a well received set on his banjo and was paid to do the thing he loved.

I have chosen this clip because it is one of my favourite songs by a favourite songwriter. His interpretation of “Louisiana 1927” displays his great ability but also that Martin is aware that the blues is still around, that the tradition continues. I have listened to his music for many years and have always known that he was no revivalist or preservationist. This Randy Newman song is a modern blues played by a modern musician.

Over the years I have not seen Martin play as often as I should. He lived in the USA for some time. Whenever we have met it has been a pleasure to see him and hear him play. One night in Birmingham a dedication from him to my wife and myself was delightful. In London a girlfriend was most impressed that, at the first concert we attended together, we got to hang out with the man who had played so wonderfully. We shared our youthful exploration of music which challenged received conventions and informed us of new possibilities. It gave us both a lifelong love of music.

I am often asked if I play an instrument. I am able to reply that I was present at the development of one of Britain’s great guitarists (this explains my intolerance of those who only strum). My clumsy attempts did not really belong in the same room as such a prodigy. I do though think that I should have given Martin an electric guitar, written some lyrics and made some noise. I would have been farting through silk now…rock and roll’s loss. He is back in the UK now and tours regularly. I know that I will see him perform again and look forward to that time.

Funky Like Lee Dorsey


Everything I do gotta be funky like Lee Dorsey seems as good a yardstick to measure your life by than anything else. If Irma Thomas was the Queen of New Orleans soul then Dorsey was the king. Throughout the 1960s his easy-going, confident, funny and funky records never failed to hit the spot. He is remembered for just a few of them. “Working In A Coal Mine” ? Everybody knows that one, right. You can get compilations of his best work with maybe 25 tracks and not one of them is a dud.

Lee Dorsey and Allen Toussaint go together like cocaine and waffles. They had hit records in the early 60s with songs that were almost nursery rhymes but they had a New Orleans beat and that’s what sold at the time. Dorsey went back to working in his garage, in the 50s he had boxed as a light-heavyweight under the name “Kid Chocolate”, when Toussaint got a deal at Amy records he called his boy and in 1965 they were making hits again. “Get Out my Life Woman” is one of them and his strutting performance of the song (you gotta have some cojones to wear that shirt !) is Lee Dorsey at the top of his game as a soul star. Stax-Volt sent their reserve backline on this tour with Sam & Dave but this is a fine thing to see.

The records stopped selling but in the Mod era UK he was still a big deal. “Coal Mine”, “Holy Cow”, “Ride Your Pony” were all big soul club and youth club dance records. They were all written, produced and played on by Allen Toussaint. His distinctive backing vocals are a feature on them all too. New Orleans was in the shadow of Memphis and Motown for a time, as soul turned into funk the loping rhythms of the city were back in the game. Toussaint had the songs and the musicians he wanted and it was Lee Dorsey who benefited from this new energy.

“Give It Up”, released in 1969, was not a hit but that says more about the market than the song. It is not a James Brown punch to the solar plexus, more a dance, jab and move, a sinuous, a benignly insidious groove. The Meters and friends slide into the pocket and…well they are the pocket. In the same year Lee Dorsey had another fine 45 for us.

“Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On)” is a statement record from Allen Toussaint and he lived up to his promise. I just love the way New Orleans funk hits a groove and provides a whisper of a conventional pop song but just stays in that rhythm because hey, conventional is not their way. In 1970 an LP was released. The two singles were not included but Toussaint had a collection of songs which have become classics. The title track, “Yes We Can”, was adopted by Barack Obama (not brave enough for “Funky President”) as his campaign song. “Riverboat”, “Sneakin’ Sally Thru The Alley”, “Who’s Gonna Help A Brother ?” and others make “Yes We Can” a milestone in funk and soul music. That it did not sell probably mattered more to Lee Dorsey, he got one more shot 8 years later with the discofied “Night People”, another worthwhile effort. Me, I don’t care if it was not a hit because I always have Lee Dorsey’s great feelgood records around to put the bounce back into my stride.

Judge A Song By It’s Cover (Michael Carpenter)

The feelgood hit of the summer round our house (we didn’t listen to a lot, there was a football tournament to watch) was a cover version of a 60s hit by the Hollies. “Look Through Any Window” (1965) was written by the precocious songwriter for hire, Graham Gouldman, then just 18 years old. It does exactly that thing that the Hollies do so well. It is a clean and crisp 12 string riff, the harmonies are damn near perfect, drummer, Bobby Elliott, gives it that driving beat and you feel better having heard it. Why then not just stick with the original ? Well, Michael Carpenter did this good a job on the song.

Carpenter, an Australian (but we will not hold that…you get me ), had been on my radar before. I had that song on some tape compilation but the cassettes are gathering dust and my memory is not what it used to be. Now I like a cover version if it is done well. I checked out Michael Carpenter & it seems that cover versions are what he does. There are 5 volumes of his S.O.O.P (Songs Of Other People) series. I don’t know how much of an impression these LPs have made but Carpenter does not have a Wikipedia page and, I’m sorry, my next-door neighbour’s dog has one of those. I’m guessing that they could be our little secret so keep this on the downlow. Further investigation shows that some of these cover songs are pretty good.

“Life Get’s Better” is a Graham Parker from the 1983 LP “The Real Macaw”, his first without his heavyweight backing band the Rumour. The LP suffered from what we doctors call “80s production values”. If you were around at the time then you will know the symptoms, terrible drum sound, redundant keyboards and the rest. G.P. wrote good strong songs like this and the dodgy violin on the original is a big mistake. Carpenter strips it back to the basics and the song is good enough without any frills. Apparently “Life Gets Better” was a bigger hit in Australia than anywhere else on the planet. A rare example of culture and taste from a nation of convicts and philistines. (I am sorry, this is a bad English joke. some of my best friends have Australian friends).

In 1967, at the height of Monkeemania, the kids I hung about on street corners of a weekend all bought “Monkees” shirts, the ones with a flap fastened by a double row of buttons. They expected me to do the same. Now I was not about to be a 13 year old follow fashion monkey, especially not for some created-for-TV fake band who stole other people’s songs and did  a very poor impression of the Marx Brothers. I am more mature now and can appreciate that the Monkees made some fine 60s pop records. I own a couple of Mike Nesmith’s solo LPs. However, this first experience of peer pressure has not made it easy for me to accept them as a “real” band. It scarred me man, scarred me. I would push you out of the way to get one of those shirts now.

“Tapioca Tundra” is a Nesmith song (the B-side of “Valleri”). A cynic would point to it’s debt to Gene Clark’s “Feel A Whole Lot Better” and that the Monkee’s psychedelic credentials, however “out there” the movie “Head” is, were never going to happen. Again Michael Carpenter has produced a fine jangle-pop version of a good song. This seems to be what he does and it’s alright by me. Of course not all good songs lend themselves to interpretation. There is a Carpenter version of the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” which I would not go near. However talented anyone is there will be no improvement or angle which will make any version as enjoyable as the original. It seems that Michael Carpenter has his own cover cottage industry going on and he’s doing a fine job putting some love into songs he likes. I will look forward to any subsequent additions to S.O.O.P.

To Keep Your Raunchy Bag Of Bones Alive

In 1972 the Flamin’ Groovies got their ducks in a row, their egos and chakras balanced and produced their magnum opus. At a time when there were some fine exponents of raw rock and roll (the Stones released “Exile On Main Street” in this year) “Slow Death” stands comparison with anything recorded by the Stooges, MC 5, the Faces and Grand Funk Railroad (OK, skip that last one). We can be grateful that French TV were able to capture this magnificent performance because, at the time, there were not too many people prepared to interrupt the contemplation of their own navel to pay attention.

The Groovies were a San Franciscan band in thrall to the early energy of 50s rock and roll and to the British Invasion of the 60s. The prevailing  inclination on the West Coast was for psychedelic experimentation and the band were never part of that scene. Their first record can be kindly described as “all over the place” as they tried out all the different styles they favoured. Next time around they did get nearer to fusing these influences into their own sound.

“Headin’ For The Texas Border” is a headlong charge at a variation on “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. In 1970 audiences tuned in, turned on and sat cross-legged. They preferred their guitar jams to be stretched over double and triple LPs not to be stinging riffs that grabbed you by the throat. 35 years on Jack White & his band the Raconteurs revived this song and it still sounded wild. Jack did no more than play it straight and fast because there is little missing from the energy and spirit of the original.

The Flamin’ Groovies were led by two singer- guitarists, Cyril Jordan & Ray Loney. After a third unsuccessful album Loney left the band and they re-located to Europe. The wonderful, druggy, sleaze of “Slow Death” was their only recorded work for 5 years. When they returned, in 1976, the pre-hippie rock still rolled but the sound was not as raw. This moody & melodic power pop classic slaps down any criticism of the changes.

“Shake Some Action” is a glorious attempt at a perfect pop single. The Beatles, the Stones and the Byrds in the same song. If it had been recorded in 1966 and not 76 then it would have surely cleaned up. It merely confirmed the cult status of the Groovies but made little impression. The song’s inclusion on compilations of American music that was vaguely “punk” extended it’s reach and er…that’s it. Still, a great record.

The Flamin’ Groovies lost some momentum after this. They continued to record but relied more upon cover versions which added little to the originals. These records are OK but no more. No matter, the band’s commitment to the original spirit of rock and roll and to the energy of  the 60s beat means that this music is timeless. The vitality of their best work still shakes your speakers and stands against any of the “great” bands. I am unable to walk away from this appreciation without including the title track of the 3rd LP “Teenage Head”. Released in the same year as the Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”, Mick Jagger heard this and acknowledged that the Groovies had maybe done it better than even his own fine group.

American Troubadour (Sam Baker)

Sam Baker has an extraordinary story like few others. In 1986 he was in the wrong place at the wrong time  and, in his own words, “got in the way of somebody else’s war”. He was 32 years old, travelling on a train in Peru which was blown up by the Sendero Luminoso. People died and Sam almost bled to death. His extensive injuries, including renal failure and brain damage, meant a long and painstaking rehabilitation. He still suffers with tinnitus and has limited use of the fingers on his left hand. Such an experience can only make a man think. Sam has re-learned how to play the guitar and has produced three LPs of thoughtful, beautifully crafted songs. Some are autobiographical, trying to “write my way out of sudden death”. Others are poignant and truthful stories which bring to mind the master of the American short story, Tennessee Williams.

“Mennonite” is my favourite song of Sam’s. A young man, raised in a strict religious sect, is exploring the wider world. He meets a girl in a bar with “red boots to her knees”. You know those girls, what else could he do ? There is not  a word wasted in the lyric and there is a happy ending. “Who’s to say what love is ? Is it horses and stars ? Is it boots and beer, the back seat of cars ?” Well, if we are lucky then it’s both.

I was not going to include this most personal of his songs but the quality of this clip forces my hand. There is more to Sam Baker than being the guy who was in a terrible terrorist incident and lived. I think that he is deserving of a greater consideration than merely sympathy. He is self-effacing, disparaging about his voice and his playing. The package, though, is, I think effective and affecting. There are songs which are snapshots of  America and the characters he has met. Others reflect a world view which he states as “All we’ve got is this one breath and then, if we are lucky, we have the next breath. Sam Baker writes carefully, economically and thoughtfully and I will be listening to what he has to say.

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

In 1977 every young musician in the UK cut their hair, ditched their flares and practiced their fiercest snarl in the bedroom mirror. Any songs they had written were made shorter, sharper and angrier. The Genesis and Pink Floyd LPs  were consigned to the wardrobe. If you were not punk or New Wave you were nowhere in this momentous musical year. Over a decade later a number of the veterans of the Punk Wars were still around. Older for sure, wiser maybe & probably not that richer. Now the music they made could channel their inner Lennon & McCartney, the music they had grown up with. Here are three fine examples of quality melodic pop made by three bands who started in the 70s.

As the 70s became the 80s I lived around Greenwich and Deptford and Squeeze were the local band. “The church and the steeple, the launderette on the hill” from “Tempted” always reminds me of the walk back to my flat from the station up Royal Hill. I saw them bash out a great set, on borrowed instruments at a gig to celebrate the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 (“Let’s finish the job”). Glen Tilbrook had a team in a monthly quiz which we entered at a local pub. The drummer and I shared a coke dealer. They were part of the fabric of that lovely area of South East London.

The hits stopped coming and continuity was disrupted by personnel changes.  In the 80s every Squeeze LP seemed like a come-back. Each one contained great music and finely crafted lyrics by Difford and Tilbrook, “If It’s Love” is just one of them. These guys should have been writing musicals. The clumsily assembled generic storyline stapled on to a band’s back catalogue is an insult to our musical tradition. Difford and Tilbrook are successors to Ray Davies and could have been just the men to do the job properly.

I saw Robyn Hitchcock’s first band, The Soft Boys, as support to the legendary Pere Ubu at the similarly renowned Russell Club/Factory in Manchester. Blimey, that was some gig. With the Egyptians his wide musical influence and his tendency towards lyrical surrealism meant that he could be all over the place. The records, though, did contain attempts to get played on the radio and some of them are the finest pop songs of the time. “Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis)” is an obvious variation on a Fab Four theme. The distinctive guitar of Peter Buck  (nowadays in Robyn’s touring band) adds to what sounds like a hit record to me.

I love Hitchcock’s later work. I have heard his interpretations of tunes from a wide range of music but it’s his own songs that I prefer. I must try and get three of them onto this thing but there are a lot to choose from.

From the same year, 1989, as the Squeeze track this is my favourite track from XTC’s “Orange’s and Lemons” LP. I have written before about the songs of Andy Partridge . Here he channels his inner McCartney for his own version of “All You Need Is Love”. It is such an uplifting piece of music which has to go on repeat whenever it comes around.

All of these songs were produced by mature musicians who had probably given up on the dream of the Number 1 records but still made music. They are all worthy entrants into the list of finely crafted, intelligent British rock. It’s just that to be a “classic” you had to be around in the 60s or to be as useless as the platitudinous nonsense of Queen or Sting (spit !). Not round here they don’t.

Doom got more rhymes than the church got oooh lawwddds.

I listened to Rap when it was about changing your mind and not your trainers. It was no surprise that the music hit the mainstream. Take the most exciting music, smooth out the rough edges, tone it down, that’s where the big dollars are. The Hip Hop I love is Public Enemy, the Native Tongues collective, Eric B & Rakim, y’know, the old school, the true school.

In 2009 I heard this track “Cellz” from DOOM’s LP “Born Like This”. It made me sit up & listen again. The poet introducing the song is Charles Bukowski, the great chronicler of honesty and insight to be found in the American gutter & at the bottom  of a glass. This sampling is so much more inventive than the standard James Brown drum break or some similar vintage soul/funk pinch. The poem “Dinosauria, We”, an apocalyptic promise, is an imaginative choice which matches DOOM’s pessimistic world view. I have the feeling from this that this guy “gets” Buk & this update is absolutely fitting. “Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men”…Oo-Ee-Oo !

DOOM has been around a long time. His first go-round at music ended messily with the death of his brother in a car accident & his label quitting on him. Since his re-emergence, the insistent and consistent rumble of his work has established a reputation as a rapper who means business. He has had more aliases than Klaus Barbie mostly based around a masked supervillain persona. He has had heavyweight collaborators like Danger Mouse and ThomYorke & whatever I have checked out has sounded good to me.

He now lives in the UK. Raised in the USA he was refused re-entry as he never had a green card. We will take him, like Lennox Lewis he will be one of our own as he takes on the world. This year’s release “Keys to the Kuffs”  under the name JJ DOOM, reflects that he is influenced by anything that comes his way. In this song “Guvnor” the man is trying out his new cockney accent. The UK is a small market and it is easier to make a wider impression. In six months time we could all know about DOOM.

While I am on the subject Public Enemy have a new LP “Most Of My Heroes Don’t Appear On No Stamp”. If Chuck D wants to make new music then I will always have time to listen. I may not get my copy of “Muse Sick-n-Hour Message” out very often but I do still listen to my favoured PE LP “Apocalypse 91, The Empire Strikes Back”. This track, featuring a fellow New York original, DMC, is proper Hip Hop done properly.

Soundtrack For Back Seat Bingo

What is wrong with this group ? The bass player has only two strings on his instrument and where is the guitarist ? Morphine’s baritone and bass rumble was a distinctive sound in the mid-90s. It was a time when, whisper it, rock music just may have been all played out and the only alternatives for those with little imagination were variations on themes that  had already been around for a while. Morphine’s rockabilly/jazz/beatnik take on music seemed fresh, assured and worth, at least, a second listen.

“Honey White” is from their third LP 1995’s “Yes”. It was a song that could be played on MTV and other available music shows and make an impression. Further investigation led to the discovery that the previous record “Cure For Pain” was pretty good too. The sound was basic, the lyrics succinct. The druggy, low-life but literary atmospherics brought a more energetic Steely Dan to mind (this is a good thing). Here’s the title track from “Cure For Pain.

Mark Sandman, the minimal bassist and songwriter, was over 40 before he finally found the band he was looking for. He had lived some life seen some things and the songs were better for it. I’ve not seen many clips of an American musician addressing a Portuguese audience in their own language and I’m impressed by that. The band did well in Europe, they never made big waves but the live show was rock music with a different edge. Unfortunately in 1999 he had a fatal heart attack onstage in Italy. He was just 46 years old. Morphine left us some good music.

Whoa…I should do more of these things in the early hours of the morning. Much more downbeat. I kind of like it.

Pete and Audrey (Ah Oui !)

A double dose of delight here. Pete Shelley’s rifftastic return to rock romance matched with France’s gamin gift to us all, the mesmerizing mademoiselle (enough alliteration !) Audrey Tautou. An electronic high five to whoever was inspired to make this connection  for a Y-tube clip. It works.

Anyone who did not fall in love with Amelie/Audrey needs to lighten up…really. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s imaginative and stylish love letter to Paris has a central performance which is charming , mischievous and beguiling. If you think the movie is cloying and too whimsical then your heart is too hard. You need a hug. Audrey Tautou’s other film as Jeunet’s muse, “A Very Long Engagement”, is an epic story of love and war. It is, perhaps, even more rewarding on repeated viewing than “Amelie”.

Pete Shelley is punk’s romantic poet. His short, sharp stabs about the trouble with love make the Buzzcocks one of the most enduring and listenable of the class of 1977. By 1979 he had lost his innocence. The two closing tracks of the band’s third and final LP are shrieks of angst. “Hollow Inside” & “I Believe” are brilliant rackets made by an unhappy man. “There is no love in this world anymore” he shouts as his band implodes. For his solo LP “Homosapien” he and producer Martin Rushent played with synths and sequencers and it sounded a little cold. Next time round Pete got his guitar out of it’s case and wrote some love songs again. Maybe it didn’t sell but this full length “No One Like You” is a great uplifting noise. Rushent took his toys off to the Human League and conquered the world. Pete got the band back together and a night out with the ‘Cocks is a guaranteed good time.