Martin Lampen's Bubblegum Machine

Attack of the Name Game - Stacey Lattisaw

Stacey Lattisaw
Some jumping junior 'R&B' from 1982 - from the days when 'urban' meant human beat-boxing, hand-clapping, hopscotching and syncopated, synchronised skipping on the steps of Sesame Street-style brownstones.

These days R&B means stars scowling when they don't win that 'Best hat' Grammy, shouting about drive-bys, and beefs and 'collaborating' with lisping Japanese fashion designers on shiny, brightly-coloured leisure wear collections that even Milanese window dressers or Meshach Taylor in Mannaquin would find a 'bit fruity'.

The teenaged Lattisaw's collaborators included Van McCoy, Johnny Gill and Narada Michael Walden, luminaries and leading lights from the days when smooth, shiny suited, gentlemanly-yet-still-amorous soul singers with processed hair were standard on the R&B charts....

When courting a lady, soul stars like Billy Ocean, Ralph Tresvant, Peabo Bryson and Color Me Badd (though obviously not the white one with the beard) would take her to a top Bistro in Detroit, Philly or LA, wouldn't flinch when she ordered a double Campari and TAB cole or a pricy seafood starter and pay for a stretch limosene with a champagne-stocked wet bar and red velvet upholstery back to his place before 'Sexing her up'.

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See the Big Man Cry - Charlie Louvin

A sad song. Sadder than a doe-eyed kitten weeping onto a wilting lily on a condolences card. Sadder even than Albinoni's Adagio in G minor or the final scene in the Fox and the Hound. Sniffles.

It's Charlie Louvin, one-time half of Baptist fundamentalist bluegrass harmony duo the Louvin Brothers.

Charlie's brother and singing partner Ira was by far the wildest of the pair. He died in June 1965, killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while, himself driving drunk.

When Ira died he also had three bullets lodged near his spine - the handiwork of his third wifewho shot him five times after he tried to strangle her with a telephone cord.

Walking around with five bullets lodged near the base of his spine?! That's pretty impressive. I once had to chew 6 Settler's Tumms and guzzle a litre of sparkling water in a panicky attempt to dislodge a oversized milk thistle capsule.

Just last year I feared losing the sight in my left eye and had to be talked out of taking a taxi to Hammersmith outpatient clinic when I accidentally spritzed some Davidoff Cool Water in my left eye. Ouch.

> Listen to this
Charlie Louvin
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How to make an American Quilt

Written and Illustrated by Martin Lampen

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"[Lampen is] the bastard child of Delia Smith and Mike Leigh... a writer of wit and warmth whose book is a joy." - The Times
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© Martin Lampen 2011