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SPANK GOLD: We Are The Kids And We're Out Of Our Heads: Pick Of The Year 1996

Some time soon, I really need to check these tapes to make sure the scanner isn't demagnetising them or something. The poor bastard from Bell Cablemedia never knew what hit him.

There he was, wandering around London in 1996, quietly canvassing my neighbourhood to see who'd be interested in signing up for cable TV once all the infrastructure had been laid. And he knocks on my door. By that time, I'd been living there for six years, and getting more and more frustrated with the lousy quality of the terrestrial television signal I'd been getting. I pounced on the cable guy like a bored housewife on a hot milkman, and within half an hour I'd signed all the paperwork.

In the subsequent 13 years, my cable service has been taken over by Cable and Wireless, then NTL, then Virgin Media, and it's now something I take for granted. But back then, the extra few dozen channels were a revelation, particularly the music ones. (Even things like CMT or The Landscape Channel, neither of which lasted very long on Bell.) So alongside the Mark Radcliffe show on Radio 1, music television -  though not, surprisingly, Music Television - became my other way of discovering what was new on the scene. Which may explain why the selections on my 1996 compilation look a little more interesting, compared with the rather predictable Britpop glut of 1995. See what you think, anyway.

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Carter & Clinton The Unstoppable Sex Machines

この太っているやつ! この太っているやつ! What with all the old Pick Of The Year posts, the Music section on this site has been getting a bit bogged down in blatant nostalgia recently. But hell, it was The Belated Birthday Girl’s birthday last weekend: and if you can’t do blatant nostalgia on birthdays, when can you do it?

So after the now-traditional visit to St Pancras station (this year for champagne breakfast at the Grand), we headed into darkest Brixton for the main event of her birthday: a reunion gig at the Academy by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, performing their first two albums 101 Damnations and 30 Something. But that wasn’t all. At a time when sensible people of our age should have been thinking about going home to bed, we instead went to Jamm down the road for the official after-show party, with an absolutely unmissable act on the bill: Clinton USM, the Japanese Carter USM tribute band.

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SPANK GOLD: Make A Cup Of Tea, Put A Record On: Pick Of The Year 1995

I'm just shoving all these tapes through a scanner, you know.By 1995, the Pick Of The Year compilations were settling nicely into a comfortable rut. As autumn lurched from November into December, I’d drag out all the albums I’d bought since January, play them through, and make a shortlist of tracks. After a few days of fannying about with timings and running orders, eventually I’d have a set of favourite songs that I could laboriously copy onto cassette in real time. Computers? No need for 'em back then.

Actually, that’s not strictly true, as 1995 saw one technical innovation in these compilations. Rather than having a handwritten track listing, I printed one out on my swanky new Sharp FontWriter word processor. Basically a full sized typewriter with a five line dot matrix display and a 3.5" floppy drive, it was intended as a stepping stone towards the Fisher Price My First Computer that inevitably lay in my future. (My thinking back then was this: I worked with PCs during the day. Why on earth would I want to use one at home as well?)

But enough of the techno geek nostalgia. Here's the music geek nostalgia you came for.

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Simian Substitute Site for November 2009: Douche Monkey Astronaut

Douche Monkey AstronautApart from a flurry of comments from twatty spammers trying to pretend they were real people - you weren't fooled by them, were you? - I think we can pronounce the 2009 London Film Festival a bit of a success. Hopefully, you've enjoyed our daily coverage as much as we've been enjoying the films. Of course, regulars will know it's not all over just yet: in a few days time we'll have The Wrap Party, the traditionally long-delayed summary of the high and low points of the fest.

Actually, there'll probably be a fair bit of wrapping up done in November, or at least that's the plan. Once LFF 2009 is all done and dusted, that will make it a total of 21 festivals documented on this site, which probably means it's about time you were provided with an index for them. Meanwhile, those China photos and videos you've pretty much given up waiting for should be appearing later this month... maybe. And with just three Spank Gold entries left to do, can I get them all finished before the end of the year like I promised back in January? You'll just have to wait and see. (Yes, I know that's what I said last month, but it still applies.)

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