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Sunday 19 May 2024

Fifty Four

I am 54 today- and all of a sudden the mid- fifties have arrived. I have tried to put together a number 54 based Sunday mix. It turns out 54 isn't a particularly popular musical number. As so often happens Mr Weatherall came to my rescue along with The Clash and a very famous and debauched New York nightclub and a blinding reggae song. This mix is as a result somewhat varied stylistically and gets even more random towards the end- maybe that's a metaphor for one's 50s.

Forty Five Minutes Of Fifty Four

  • Grace Jones: Nightclubbing
  • Tom Tom Club: Genius Of Love
  • The Clash: Ivan Meets G.I. Joe
  • Two Lone Swordsmen: Shack 54 (Joe Mckechnie Remix)
  • Patrick Cowley and Sylvester: Menergy (Rich Lane 'Too Hard' Cotton Dub)
  • Big Audio Dynamite II: The Globe (Studio 54 Remix)
  • The Velvet Underground: I Can't Stand It (2014 version)
  • The Rolling Stones: All Down The Line
  • Toots And The Maytals: 54- 46 That's My Number
Studio 54 was a New York nightclub located at 254 West 54th Street, midtown Manhattan. It was converted from a theatre to a club in 1977 and for a while was the world's premier disco nightclub, a place with a famously loose approach to sex, drugs and extravagance. It had apparently the world's most difficult entry policy but once in 'the dancefloor was a democracy'. A list of Studio 54's celebrity clientele includes Grace Jones, Woody Allen, Bianca Jagger, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Bowie, Cher, John Lennon, Diana Ross, Lou Reed, John Travolta, Margaret Trudeau, Divine, Farrah Fawcett, Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicolson, Liza Minelli, Rick James and many more. Some of those people were thusly shoehorned into my mix above. Chic famously were turned away at the door and went home and wrote Freak Out, a disco track which started with the phrase 'Fuck You!' chanted as the chorus instead of the eventual title. 

Grace Jones, a Studio 54 devotee, released her album Nightclubbing in 1981, an early 80sunk/ reggae/ post- punk/ new wave/ disco masterpiece, recorded at Compass Point in the Bahamas. The title track is a cover of Iggy Pop's 1977 song, an ode to numbed out nighttime adventures on the floor. It's Grace's birthday today as well- happy 76th birthday Grace.

Tom Tom Club's Genius Of Love is also from 1981, a brilliant slice of New York post- disco/ synth- pop/ art rap that nods its head to a cast of black musicians- James Brown, Sly and Robbie, Hamilton Bohannon, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Bob Marley- and was a big tune at Studio 54. Its creators, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz only went a couple of times, they claim, preferring the Mudd Club or Danceteria. 

The Clash went to Studio 54 once and Joe Strummer said they were observed by the Warhol crowd like animals in a cage. Joe wrote The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too about the experience. Ivan Meets G.I. Joe is from Sandinista!, and includes the line 'so you're on the floor at 54', imagining the Cold War as a competition on the nightclub's dancefloor, a Soviet- America disco face off, sung by Topper Headon. It's not my favourite Clash song but it fits this mix. 

Shack 54 was on Two Lone Swordsmen's Wrong Meeting Part 2, a 2007 album with Weatherall and Tenniswood by this pint deep into live rock 'n' roll/ garage rockabilly territory. It was great fun, Andrew once again turning on a sixpence and wrong footing people who expected him to keep doing the same thing. This remix of Shack 54 by Joe Mckechnie is I think unreleased. 

Patrick Cowley and Sylvester were both Studio 54 attendees. For his Cotton Dub edit Rich Lane ramps up the campness and Hi NRG to the max on a song that wasn't exactly lacking in either. 

Big Audio Dynamite II's The Globe was the best single the second incarnation of the band released, a  1991 single that samples Mick's most well known Clash riff. It was a Mick Jones and Gary Stonnage co- write and produced by Mick and Andre Shapps (making both of them related to current Tory Minister Grant Shapps, a man I sincerely hope loses his seat and his deposit come election day).  The Studio 54 remix adds some disco strings and keys and has never been officially released but is on the bootleg series The B.A.D. Files. 

The Velvet Underground have Studio 54 connections via Lou Reed and Andy Warhol but there's a big disconnect between the sound of the Velvets and Studio 54 so really this was just an excuse to shoehorn in this 2014 version of a Lou reed song that should be played daily by everyone, Lou and Sterling taking the Bo Diddey beat and rhythm guitar to its logical limit. The part where Lou counts down from 8 is among my favourite moments on any song. 

Bianca Jagger once rode into Studio 54 on the back of a white horse, an eye- opening way to celebrate one's birthday (a party for Bianca thrown by fashion designer Halston). Bianca later said she didn't ride the horse to or in the club, she just sat on its back once it was already inside. I was going to say, with a knowing smirk, hey, we've all been there- but then I remembered that at the Golden Lion last November at the end of a night David Holmes played at the pub there was a horse at the bar having a pint with its owner, so actually, maybe we have all been there. Bianca was married to Mick from 1970 to 1978, a period The Stones made their final absolute classic album, 1973's Exile On Main Street from which All Down The Line is one of four superb songs that make up the album's fourth side. 

Toots And The Maytals released reggae classic 54- 46 Was My Number in 1968. 54- 46 was Toots' prison number when he was jailed for possession of marijuana and for the next 365 day trip around the sun, 54 is my number. 


Ernie Goggins said...


Echo and Rauschen said...

Happy Birthday, Adam! 54 is better than 58 , :o) (i’am very soon) - all the best to you!

Anonymous said...

An oblique salute to 54 — love it. Very droll. X

Walter said...

Happy birthday, Adam. Enjoy your day

Anonymous said...

Not meant to be anonymous!
Bloody signing in via google a struggle.
It’s Carl R. ! X

Charity Chic said...

Happy birthday SA
Have a good one

Jake Sniper said...

Happy birthday Swiss, have a lovely day.

C said...

A very happy birthday to you Adam. Hope the sun is shining for you today.

Khayem said...

Wishing you a very happy birthday, Adam! And thanks for the eclectic and extremely enjoyable mix, which pretty much sums up everything that is great about this blog.

I hope you have a really lovely day. Definitely one to celebrate not commiserate!

Jez said...

Happy birthday mate!

twopalmtrees said...

I hope you and Grace both enjoy your birthdays.

I Sing In The Kitchen said...

Happy Birthday! I love this mix.

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks everyone, had a lovely day, nipped over to Liverpool to see Eliza- lunch down Lark Lane, popped into the city centre to go to the new Rough Trade shop and then a couple of pints with Eliza and her friends in the sunshine.

Rickyotter said...

Many happy returns Adam

Webbie - FootieAndMusic said...

3 years younger. You'll never gonna catch me !

Martin said...

Many happy returns. I'll be the same age in a few short months.

Jase said...

Belated happy birthday Adam. You're a week older than me. I hope you can draw comfort from the fact that you're not alone in wondering not just "how did I get to be 54?" but how it happened so quickly.

All the best to you.

thewalker said...

Happy 54 A!