I’ve just read that Liam Maher of Flowered Up has died. He was 41.

1991 an 1992 were heady years. So many good bands, so many good songs. The Mondays and Roses may have been the superstars of the scene, but that ‘second summer of love’ threw up a supporting cast making songs as good, if not better, than anything the baggy Mancs put out.

One of them was Flowered Up. My two favourite songs from that era were Perfume by Paris Angels and Its On by Flowered Up. The latter particularly as it always takes me back to a special blissed out moment at Womad. The right song, played at the right time and place.

Flowered Up also made the best video of that era.

I don’t know what Liam did after his star faded but Heavenly’s Jeff Barrett summed up his contribution to rock’s rich firmament

“Liam and Flowered Up burned beautifully and brightly at exactly the right time. They had their moment and seized it by the bollocks.”

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Are you dancing?

November 11, 2009

Another Friday night, another parents’ disco. This one grimmer than the last. The prat playing the records (I can’t bring myself to call him a DJ) is playing Chaka Khan for about the third time. A couple of forty-something mums are bumping and grinding like they should be wrapped around a pole. The place is deserted.

I’m in the corner sulking that I’ve been dragged from my womb-like living room and the drug that is Sky+. “What would get you up on the dancefloor then” one of my companions asks. I think he means well, even offering to ask the record spinner to play my fancy.

I’m suddenly thrown off balance. I usually have an answer for everything. What would get me up to dance, here or anywhere these days. To my horror I realise the answer is “Nothing”.

It used to be so different. When I was a punk at the Working Mens’ Club disco it was Tommy Gun or White Riot; Suspect Device or Stranglehold.

Later at college Fascist Groove Thang or Pigbag always had me hurtling towards the dance floor. A Forest and Follow the Leaders kept me there.

Blue Monday and Bizarre Love Triangle became ‘my’ songs. Like the Manchurian Candidate I was programmed to dance whenever, wherever I heard them.

Then it became the DJs not the tunes. From 1988 to 1994 I never stopped dancing. Endless sweaty pill fuelled nights at Shoon, Club Dog, Trade, Club UK, Ministry of Sound. Worshipping the mix. Lost in the music of Sven Vath, Danny Rampling, Charlie Hall, Darren Emerson, Andy Weatherall, Justin Robertson, Dave Clark and countless others.

There were bands too – Orbital, Dust (Chemical) Brothers, Underworld.

Then I turned 30 – and stopped.

And now at 45 I really don’t want to be a dancing dad, shouting over the music to anyone who’ll listen “I used to be a raver you know”.

So I had an epiphany that night. I won’t be dancing again. Just like I won’t be playing football again. I don’t want to sway where I used to shimmy.

I went to my first ceilidh a couple of weeks ago. It was fun. Maybe that’s where I’ll be strutting my stuff from now on. Middle age sucks.