In this edition of the Poplist, we are thrilled to welcome one of my musical heroes, Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. Along with making some of the most rewarding pop music of the past twenty years with his mates Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell, he's also been an ace music journalist, run labels, written liner notes, and way back before time began, convinced me that the Beach Boys were okay to like again with his review of Pet Sounds in Melody Maker. The group released their eighth studio album (to go with countless other singles and collections) this year and unsurprisingly, Words and Music by Saint Etienne is just as brilliant as everything else they've done. Perhaps more in tune with the sounds going on around them than ever before, the group take the glossy, radio-ready pop of today and make it about as melancholy and nostalgic as possible. Let's watch a video of the first single "Tonight," and then we'll let Bob get on with his list.....
It's a beautiful looking magazine, for a start. My girlfriend has every issue. I find walking into a newsagent and seeing rows of identical womens magazines incredibly depressing, they stifle ambition and concentrate entirely on gossip, or the size of Kerry Katona's arse. What else is out there? This is!
Jeremy Deller at the Hayward
This retrospective pulled everything together. I love his Orgreave film, and his Brian Epstein plaque, and acid brass, but it wasn't until it was all in one place that I really saw what he's doing (I think). It's all about British people, breaking down their inhibitions, and joining up the dots. Steel bands playing Joy Division. There was a reconstructed caff in the exhibition. Tremendous.
This is Tom Ewing's blog on which he writes about every number one hit in chronological order. I discovered it around three years ago when he was still in 1975. Now he's up to 1993. Getting into debates about Frankie Laine, Steve 'Silk' Hurley and Lieutenant Pigeon floats my boat. The contributors love a pint too, they don't just hide away in their bedsits. A very fine bunch of people.
The Complete British Hit Parade/Top of the Pops
These CDs are released by Acrobat thanks to the public domain laws, and they are perfect social history documents - every hit, in order. It's history played back in real time, as is BBC4's brave screening of every TOTP at 7.30 on a Thursday (important attention to detail). People moan that it's slooooow, and the same minor hit can appear three times (hello Barry Biggs) but, people, this is what it was like. Parallel pop worlds. The dreariness (John Miles) can be as inspiring as the lightning bolts ("I Feel Love").
The Euston Tap
...and the growth of local London breweries. The rapid decline of the pub is shocking and politically driven - more money for Tesco. So the fightback is on. If I was 21 now, I'd be getting involved in brewing rather than starting a pop group. Though I might have time for both.