Friday, 2 March 2018

Clandestine Classic LVI - One Night Stand

The fifty-sixth post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

I've been thinking a bit about Pete Tong and his Heritage Orchestra, who've been all over my radio lately. You know - Pete has taken another load of old house and Ibiza tunes and got a proper orchestra to play them, the idea being (presumably) to take some "classic" club tunes and give them an actual classical music style makeover. Seems this kind of cultural pretence has been very popular indeed with middle-aged ex-clubbers, with sell-out shows at large venues and not one but two albums of this kind of stuff. That new version of Killer by Seal that you've been hearing? This is where it comes from. You knew all that already, right?

But it's hardly a new idea. Today's classic comes from 90s band The Aloof, which Wikipedia tells me were "a British electronica group, mixing electronic and dance elements with dub influences." So there you go. I know nothing else about them, and today's track, One Night Stand, is the only thing by them in my collection, courtesy of a compilation album. And although it's not my usual cup of tea, I think this is excellent.

Firstly, there are the world-weary vocals, sounding not dissimilar in some respects to David McAlmont but actually belonging to one Ricky Barrow. Then there are the lyrics which, if I can borrow from a series over at The (New) Vinyl Villain, would make an excellent short story:

What am I doing here? Your face is a mess.
You walk back in the room and you put on your dress.
I say, I'll see you soon and I, I'll give you a call.
I hear the door slam and feel nothing at all.

What am I doing here? I've been here for weeks.
Gotta get outta of this room and go, go clean these sheets.
Why am I lying here and with what was her name?
I feel nothing at all; I feel no shame.

It's another one night stand
'cause it makes me feel like a real man.

Lyrically melancholic, and with those minor keys throughout, this is a real come-down track, filled with unhappiness and a touch of self-loathing. And then there's that orchestral arrangement, that's probably been smouldering in the back of Pete Tong's mind for twenty years.

One Night Stand was The Aloof's commercial highpoint, peaking at #30 in 1996. There were other singles, but none like this. And interestingly, fact fans, Radio 1 playing an extended instrumental version of this every thirty minutes for several hours on the day Princess Diana died. I didn't remember that, by the way, it's another Wikipedia fact, so caveat emptor when you throw that little nugget into pub conversation.

You can scoop up One Night Stand on The Aloof's second album, Sinking, or (like me) on none-more-90s compilation The Dogs...! Anyway, here's the track - great video too, isn't it?


  1. The emptiness of the one night stand - It hacks me off that I was too old for the whole Ibiza club scene but too young for the Summer of Love and being a hippy. As for the factoids - caveat emptor or not, always useful.

    1. Think I might have fancied the summer of love, but am content with my lot as 80s indie boy!

    2. There are a lot of you about!

  2. I was a little concerned to see a much younger (and prettier) me nicking his watch at the end!