LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…

Today, it’s the band led by an absolute hero of Velvet Sheep, not least because he’s played at our nights back when we did that, he once recorded a birthday song for my wife and he’s chosen the 200th ever “song for ewe” and a Xmas Lucky 7, it’s MJ Hibbett & The Validators. MJ Hibbett is a brilliant lyricist, author, playwright, comic and data analyst (how very modern and topical). His boss was in an indie band, he likes to use the word “GRATE” instead of great (for literary reasons), Steve Lamacq digs him and he and The Validators have just released their greatest hits album on cassette! Not only is that a none-more-indie move but it also kind of makes him a hipster! To celebrate that and their 20 years together as a band, here is a brand new Lucky 7!

Album cover photo by James Indiehorse

But before we do that, here’s one of 20 good reasons to get the album, the Subterranean Homesick nod “20 Things To Do Before You’re 30″…

When Mark sent me the cassette (one of 150 only, I feel hashtag blessed) it has very much encouraged me to look into getting a boombox again in order just to play it. Sure, it comes with a download code too, but I would really love to hear it crank out like I was back at Uni in the 90s. And it is a thing of beauty too.

The ‘hits’ on ’20 Golden GRATES’ include the world’s first internet single (‘Hey Hey 16K’), the last song ever played on Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session (‘The Lesson Of The Smiths’), an excerpt from a science fiction rock opera about space dinosaurs (‘Theme From Dinosaur Planet’) plus the super catchy ‘The Gay Train’.

Validators drummer Tim Pattison (formerly of Prolapse) says, “Anyone who’d like to buy The Validators on tape should get in quick. It might be another 20 years before we do it again!”

You can get it from this link right here…

And here it is in its full frontal glory.

And here is the fetching package from another vantage point.

But what of the tunes that have influenced the titular MJ Hibbett over the years (and even more up to date than that)? I’ll let Mark guide you from here on in…

1. Belle & Sebastian – Lazy Line Painter Jane

This band changed my life forever. I went with a bunch of friends to Glasgow to see a band that they liked and I didn’t mind, who happened to be supporting Belle & Sebastian. The other band were all right, but Belle & Sebastian blew my tiny mind. I’d seen millions of bands doing something similar to what they did, but had never seen one do it right before. I distinctly remember standing agog, and profoundly drunk, on my own in the crowd and having to grab people nearby to tell them how AMAZING it all was. Luckily for me everyone else was equally as agog/drunk, and agreed. Afterwards I bought a rolled up poster from the merch stand and playfully tapped Stuart Murdoch on the head with it. I don’t think he appreciated the gesture.

2. Allo Darlin’ – The Polaroid Song

The other band that changed my life forever, just when I was thinking no band would ever do so again. Similarly to Belle & Sebastian, I’d seen billions of indiepop bands gallantly trying to do what Allo Darlin’ did, but never quite succeeding. Watching this lot get bigger and bigger was a thing of joy and wonder – I particularly remember hearing one of their songs in a Pret one lunchtime and wanting to shout “I KNOW THEM! A LITTLE BIT!”

I chose this song because of the line “I feel like dancing on my own to a record that I do not own” which sums up for me all the joy of playing gigs in places you don’t live in, and the freedom to go out dancing afterwards and look like a tit.

3. Morrissey – Lifeguard On Duty

When The Smiths split up I couldn’t stand them – I have a whole SONG about how and why I was wrong about that – so I never heard most of Morrissey’s early solo stuff until many many years later. When I finally did I was convinced that this song must have been one of his big hits, and was astonished to find out that it was only released from The Vaults in 2010. I think it’s one of the best things he ever wrote, in lyrics and tune, especially the line “I’ve always been so kind to the sick and to the partially blind,” which is so beautifully precise, funny, sad and characterful that it makes me even sadder that he tragically disappeared from public life over ten years ago and has never been seen or heard from since and that is definitely what happened.

4. Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights

When everybody else at my school was listening to The Smiths I was listening to Paul McCartney. It feels weird to remember that, back in the 1980s, before Anthology, The Beatles were considered to be boring and overrated, and Macca especially was the least cool person on Earth, so at times it felt like I was the only person who WAS listening to him. It meant I got to hear this fantastic song though, hidden away on one of his least fantastic albums “Give My Regards To Broad Street”. I reckon is one of his best, solo or otherwise, and I always seem to hear it when I’m on a bus on holiday.

5. Kirsty MacColl – Count On Me

During the summer of 1989 I was working in a Travel Kettle Factory where they played local radio all day long. Kirsty MacColl’s version of “Days” was on all the time and I loved it, so at the end of summer when I went back to Leicester Poly* I bought the album “Kite” on cassette** and fell utterly in love with it. It’s one of those albums I’ve listened to so much that now I have to save it for very special occasions to avoid wearing it out forever, so when the “Croydon To Cuba” compilation came out I was DELIGHTED to discover a whole bunch of her songs that I’d never heard before, including this demo version of an otherwise unreleased song that is completely wonderful.

6. Robberie – Four Seasons

It’s not all 1980s retro round my way of course, I also like modern hip young people’s music like this track by Robberie. All right, they’re probably not THAT hip but I think they’re ace. They’re one of those bands that make you wish the world was a fairer place, where people who make uplifting, honest, BEGUILING music like this didn’t need to have full-time careers in entirely unrelated jobs, and could instead concentrate on spreading their own type of joy more widely.

I specifically chose this song of theirs because the video was filmed at Indietracks, a festival dedicated to exactly that kind of music, where a huge chunk of the audience have either already spent a lifetime playing in underappreciated bands, or will become inspired to start one during the course of the weekend.

The Lucky 7th: MJ Hibbett & The Validators – A Little Bit

Talking of underappreciated bands who have to have full-time careers in entirely different jobs… I made a playlist of videos for most of the songs on our new “20 Golden GRATES” album, and was looking through to see which one I could pick for this feature. “A Little Bit” stood out because of all the lovely people in the video. We asked people on our mailing list to send in clips interpreting individual lines of the songs, and the pretty bloody gorgeous results went into making what you see here. For me it’s a catalogue of chums, coming together to pretty much outline the message of the song.

* Like a University, but for cool people
** Like a Vinyls, but for cool people