Charge – Perfection Plus
The group were now domiciled at a squat in Leighton Road in London’s Kentish Town, which
became Charge HQ central, where various strange characters, lost souls, daydream
believers and large snakes would congregate, score drugs, share food and flesh (some
more than others) and make music. It was a time of quartered Mars Bars, collapsing
bathrooms and freezing winters tempered by the thrill of personal freedom. Stu composed
reams of songs, the extent of which, and his pride in curating and preserving them, has only
been discovered since his death.

The Best Of Ella Fitzgerald
Her journey from Harlem orphan to the highest-paid singer in jazz is among the most durable
yet enigmatic stories in contemporary music. Tortured by insecurities, not least over her
weight, Ella Fitzgerald turned herself inside out to propel what Leonard Feather called “the
voice of light, swinging in insouciant and bell-clear tones an endless parade of trivial songs,
dominating and conquering the material in a gaily rhythmic challenge.” Legendarily her voice
was so pure, her backing musicians could tune their instruments to it.

The Members – 1980 The Choice Is Yours
“Disco Oui Oui was us literally pissing around in the studio. Nigel actually urinated into a
bucket and we recorded it. We took it someone at Virgin and said, this is the greatest thing we’
ve ever done, and it was Nigel pissing into a bucket. They weren’t very impressed because
we were winding them up. It’s a spoof French disco song.”

The Beat – Live
Thereafter the Beat changed pace and approach. ‘Wha’ppen?’ was the title of their second
album, but it could just as easily have captioned the reaction of their fans. Herein listeners
discovered a less fevered groove, incorporating reggae and calypso as well as samba and
worldbeat textures. Much of the pop magic evident on the debut was exiled, and the lyrics
were sympathetically downbeat, reeling in anger and paranoia. ‘I Am Your Flag’ and ‘Get A
Job’ were continuations of the trenchant politics of ‘Margaret’, but with little of the chirpy
insouciance. The effect was as disorientating as if Lou Reed had replaced Suggs in
Madness. But it’s an album with a real depth of musicianship and sound if you can overcome
your preconceptions and embrace its lyrical militancy. Despite singles such as ‘Drowning’
and ‘Doors Of Your Heart’ making little impression, and some quizzical critical reactions, it
still rose to number three in the charts.

Easterhouse – Contenders
The buzz over ‘Whistling’ heightened expectations for the group’s debut album. Some critics
argued that it was the most important debut for Manchester since Joy Division’s Unknown
Pleasures. Prominent Mancunian journalist Mick Middles reflected: ‘It’s both gratifying and
worrying to see the minions of London scurrying about and championing this record . . .’
Later, in the same review for Muze magazine, he presciently noted: ‘Easterhouse, for all their
current brilliance AND political prowess, must now bow their heads and await the killing
smack of success. Enjoy it now, they may never pass this way again.’ Words that ring true in
retrospect, though hardly in the sense they were intended.

Carter USM – Brixton Mortars
Appropriately, then, ‘Nowhere Fast’ is Carter getting by on a getting by song. Les’s favourite is
the hard-bitten south London swinger ‘Johnny Cash’, in which the man in black appears at
the climax of a funeral service some way east of Nashville. ‘And God Created Brixton’ is
possibly the mini-album’s most optimistic effort, an invitation to dance while the city burns. “It
was written directly after the last Brixton riot, and the riots were on the same day as my
birthday,” Les recalls. “So we had a birthday party and got one of my favourite bands in to play,
while buses were burning outside. About three in the morning we were getting the worse for
wear and wanted to go home, but we couldn’t leave the pub because it was too dangerous.
We ended up walking home at daybreak past burn out cars and boarded-up shopfronts.”