[21] The Strokes, ‘The Modern Age EP’

The Modern Age

This is what we wrote in 2008 [I’ve not come up with any new Strokes thoughts since, unsurprisingly]:

There was such a quaint furore about The Strokes those long seven years ago, loud voices on either side. Were they singlehandedly saving rawk? Were they arch-copyists, not an original note in their scuffy Converse? Did any of it really matter? Well, yes and no. A bit of debate keeps pop lively, but would the naysayers have been so quick to swipe if they’d known the day would come when every band and its wife would be ripping off The Libertines, and not the rather more plunderable Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Blondie, you-name-a-cool-NYC-trailblazer? The answer’s no.

Anyway, what Julian Casablancas and rich kid friends had in bags were tunes. On first listen, I thought ‘The Modern Age’ was The Velvet Underground – that’ll be Casablancas’ Lou Reed drawl – still it was a catchy little effort from the off. Studiedly cool, yep, but nevertheless, er, cool. ‘Last Nite’ was a white boy’s Motown pastiche even more authentic than Phil Collins’ flail at ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.

But we don’t want them to get too chipper. Junior and I did the arm-pumping ‘Tiger Feet’ dance, one ‘70s influence The Strokes possibly wouldn’t want to snatch. Saying that, let’s see what the fourth album brings.

Back to 2010:

Junior says: Well, not a lot. She doesn’t have any fresh observations either. But she does teach her little sister how to play air guitar and together they fight an Aircaster duel.

Best bit: When Casablancas turns on the loudhailer.

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[2] The Human League, ‘Love Action (I Believe In Love)’

The Human League

Not a chart-topper like Oakey and Sulley’s “No, I’M in the driving seat” cocktail bar drama, but easily the most dense, intricate and balls-out inspired of Dare’s mega-hits, ‘Love Action’ is arguably (I’m arguing) the shimmering pinnacle of ‘80s synth-pop. How come? It’s packed to the rafters with electronic effects, boasts half a dozen different keyboard riffs – each digression as thrilling as the last – and there’s that beam-me-up ‘meoww’ sound at the start. All this, and it glories in a towering Big Phil rap that casts Lou Reed forever as “the old man”. And Susanne yelps “HARD times”, without sounding awkward for once.

Echoing her confusion at The Man Machine’s cover, Junior sees Phil’s slapped-up face on the front of Dare and asks, “Why’s he a she?” Lord knows what she’d have made of Boy George in autumn 1982. She and my old man could’ve exchanged unhip daddio jokes. The next puzzle is “Why’s he looking through a rectangle?”, and perhaps we’ll never know. Still, these obstacles negotiated, she pops her feet into her dad’s Converse and winds her body to the sci-fi disco.

This is Phil talking:

[3] The Strokes, ‘The Modern Age EP’

There was such a quaint furore about The Strokes those long seven years ago, loud voices on either side. Were they singlehandedly saving rawk? Were they arch-copyists, not an original note in their scuffy Converse? Did any of it really matter? Well, yes and no. A bit of debate keeps pop lively, but would the naysayers have been so quick to swipe if they’d known the day would come when every band and its wife would be ripping off The Libertines, and not the rather more plunderable Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Blondie, you-name-a-cool-NYC-trailblazer? The answer’s no.

Anyway, what Julian Casablancas and rich kid friends had in bags were tunes. On first listen, I thought ‘The Modern Age’ was The Velvet Underground – that’ll be Casablancas’ Lou Reed drawl – still it was a catchy little effort from the off. Studiedly cool, yep, but nevertheless, er, cool. ‘Last Nite’ was a white boy’s Motown pastiche even more authentic than Phil Collins’ flail at ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.

But we don’t want them to get too chipper. Junior and I did the arm-pumping ‘Tiger Feet’ dance, one ‘70s influence The Strokes possibly wouldn’t want to snatch. Saying that, let’s see what the fourth album brings.

[14] Lil’ Louis, ‘French Kiss’

French Kiss

You know the drill: just-missing-the-boat acid house with a load of moaning over the top. Yep, Dad was late with Junior’s Weetabix again.

Like taking a bite of acieeed-laced madeleine, this brings me back to a low-rent nightclub in Corfu in August ’89. Junior’s Uncle Neil and I are trying to dance with a bunch of German girls who’d been admiring our pale, skinny torsos on the beach a few hours earlier. Couldn’t really tell where their eyes were looking behind the sunglasses, I suppose, but we certainly gave off a glare.

Halfway through the record, of course, as the orgasmic groans creep in, everyone looks awkward and stares at their shoes (purple Converse here, I reckon; with jeans and paisley shirt, if I was a betting man). The moment passes, and Neil and I return to necking as much lager as our teenage frames will take.

Back in 2006, Junior just thinks the poor iDog’s crying.

[3] Prince, ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’

So Prince got all socially conscious on us and it didn’t seem pious. He had no previous, you see. Stripped down, raw and funky, ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’ came out of nowhere when we’d barely finished getting down to the ninth single from Parade. He was astonishingly prolific without dropping below the quality threshold, at least for another couple of years.

You have to do a silly, jerky dance to this. Junior understood. Attempting to stand up, with support, she let her knees give way a few times, and sometimes on the beat. I can’t remember whether we ever danced to this at teenage discos. Would’ve been excruciating, in our roll-neck tops and black jeans and Converse boots.

The breathtaking, hubristic album still takes your breath away and challenges the gods. Skip the loose jams and it’s filled with psychedelic pop/soul/rock beauties and singles that should’ve made this chart. He was on a huge, kaleidoscopic roll. If I’d had a boy, I’d have called him Nate.