Artists: Milli Vanilli

12 01 2012

In a way, Milli Vannili was always going to happen. A pop band who famously didn’t sing on any of their own records, the music industry’s most interesting con.

Milli Vanilli was, or appeared to be Rob Pilatus. the illegitimate son of an American GI in Germany, and Fab Morvan born in France. Two good looking guys who could dance, they fronted the group that briefly in the 1980s were an enormous phenomona, (in)famously picking up a Grammy Award for best new act.

The question about who Milli Vannilli really were of course can be argued endlessly, but the essential point is this – despite appearences for a good couple of years, Rob and Fab never sang on any of their own records, they just mimed at concerts, took the credit and racked up the hits.

Its probably impossible to imagine now, perhaps because we are more cynical about pop bands, perhaps because of the Milli Vanilli affair. It is a shame it is not possible to separate them from the scandal, but in truth it is the scandal that secures their place in the history of pop music.  Read the rest of this entry »


Moments: The Smiths Play This Charming Man on TOTP

9 01 2012

When Johnny Marr was a kid, he watched Top of the Pops, that then-immovable baramoter of the nation’s music taste, saw T.Rex play Metal Guru, and so filled with energy from the performance, he rode on his bike for miles and miles before realising he was completely lost. 11 years later he was providing a new generation their own moment to lose themselves to.

On the face of it, is surprising that The Smiths first (of 11, and Morrissey would return to the show 11 more times as a solo artist) performance on Top of the Pops is so revered and regarded, in fact on the face of it, it isn’t even a performance at all, the thing is mimed.

Perhaps the reason that it spoke to a generation (everyone from Nicky Wire to Noel Gallagher have cited it) is how joyful it is. Morrissey’s stated intention was to “bring some life to Top of the Pops”, and he certainly does that. Eschewing a microphone as everyone knew they were miming anyway, it a moment of sheer joy, matching the effervescence of the record, with balloons, flowers and and Morrissey having fun with his audience. Indeed if you ever wanted proof that The Smiths were more than the miserablists that they are often written off as, you would only need to show them this video.  Read the rest of this entry »

Artists: The Jesus And Mary Chain

8 01 2012

Alex Kapornokos from Franz Ferdinand once said that there are only ever about three bands from each decade who really matter. If that is true, then one of three from the 1980s is certainly The Jesus and Mary Chain, a band endless imitated, but rarely matched.

In fact it is probably fair to say that pretty much every British guitar album over the following twenty years owes its biggest debt to either The Smiths The Queen is Dead or The JAMC’s Psychocandy. The two albums came out within eight months of each other – the Mary Chain’s début arriving first in late 1985, The Smiths most enduring album arriving in June 1986. They divided the music press in two.

JAMC were made up of two brothers, William and Jim Reid. In their earliest, most celebrated incarnation they also features Bobby Gillespie (later the Primal Scream frontman) on drums. Their early shows were thrilling, punk affairs, often lasting only 20 minutes and causing riots.  Read the rest of this entry »