Monday, 25 September 2017

The Neverending Top Ten #3: White No Sugar

"Somehow my child knows the chorus to this song and is singing it to himself..."

This was Louise's reaction (via facebook) to the boy's latest favourite. See, I'm not just introducing him to the classics everyone knows... but the classics everyone has forgotten (or never knew in the first place) as well.

Fortunately, Mummy found herself digging Clint Boon's White No Sugar when she heard it, so I think I got away with this one. She even made the trenchant observation that perhaps the Arctic Monkeys listened to Clint Boon a bit while they were growing up. (Trivial claim to fame: Alex Turner studied music at the college where I teach... quite a bit before I got there though.)

3. The Clint Boon Experience - White No Sugar

White No Sugar is from 1999, when the internet was a new and exciting phenomenon. "This is definitely a new revolution!" says Clint. How right he was. My boy, like all his generation, will take the internet for granted. Just as I take television for granted and can't believe that when my parents were kids, all they had was the radio. Who knows what else he'll take for granted by the time he's my age...

Mr Boon: play that tune!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Saturday Snapshots #1 - The Answers

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

As you've guessed all the answers, I figured I might as well play the tunes now rather than wait another week...

Points were awarded in the comments. Totting them up here would take too long, but you're all winners in my book. I might have to make it a little harder next week...

10. Coke really is addictive.

The Real Thing - Can't Get By Without You

Pretty self explanatory that one, I hope.

9. These guys certainly take it... for old blue eyes.

Cake - Frank Sinatra

Well, they certainly take the cake.

8. A could-be tennis sister complains that her man's no good with his hands...

Lucinda Williams - Come On

Venus, she ain't. Lucinda explains all in the song.

7. Two guys who should have been MUCH bigger update Turkey.

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

That's nobody's business but the Turks.

6. Partners who don't like social gatherings... twice.

The Associates - Party Fears Two

Within the hour, they'll smash another cup.

5. Set firm in their Supreme admiration...

Definitely the hardest one this week. Well done to The Swede & Alyson for tag-teaming the win.

The Concretes - Diana Ross

4. Always shelling out, never picking up rice in the church.

Yes, I did change the clue. Originally I'd put "always winning the race", until I remembered that it was the tortoise that won the race, not the turtle. D'oh. The new clue wasn't as good, I admit. As for picking up rice in the church - well, Eleanor Rigby did that. But this was definitely a different girl. She didn't even spell her name the same way.

The Turtles - Elenore

3. Here are the headlines: We Sued Ghostbusters.

Huey Lewis & The News - I Want A New Drug

Huey sued Ray Parker Jr. when he heard the Ghostbusters theme. There are some similarities. They settled out of court and signed a condfidentiality agreement to never speak about it in public. A few years later, Huey did an interview with VH1 in which he mentioned it. Ray sued him back.

2. After the cremation, there was hardly anything left.

Ash - Burn, Baby, Burn

Who knew there were so many Ash songs that would have fit this clue. And I thought I'd chosen the most obvious!

1. A bunch of absolute good-for-nothings who hate sleeping policemen.

What did Edwin Starr say War was good for?

Yes, I boo-booed with the inclusion of Eric Burdon, who it seems wasn't in War when they recorded this track. But this was the best photo of the band I could find on t'internet.

War - Low Rider

More snapshots next Saturday.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Saturday Snapshots #1

A brand new interactive feature. Let's give it a try, anyway.

I post ten clues to ten songs, both a band photo and a cryptic hint, you have to try to identify them. Artist & title. No connection between the songs other than that they're all in my record collection and I haven't found a way to shoehorn them into any other Top Ten yet.

10. Coke really is addictive.

9. These guys certainly take it... for old blue eyes.

8. A could-be tennis sister complains that her man's no good with his hands...

7. Two guys who should have been MUCH bigger update Turkey.

6. Partners who don't like social gatherings... twice.

5. Set firm in their Supreme admiration...

4. Always shelling out, never picking up rice in the church.

3. Here are the headlines: We Sued Ghostbusters.

2. After the cremation, there was hardly anything left.

1. A bunch of absolute good-for-nothings who hate sleeping policemen.

Answers - and top tunes - next Saturday. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

My Top Ten Crocodile Songs

A bunch of crazy scientists recently named the giant prehistoric crocodile pictured above after Lemmy. "The nastiest sea creature to ever inhabit the earth", fossils of which were recently discovered, will now forever be known as the Lemmysuchus.

Here's ten more crocodile rockers...some of them very, very scary indeed.

Special mentions to The Suede Crocodiles & Crocodile Harris. (Thanks to Jez for that last one.)

10. Jimmy Nail - Crocodile Shoes

OK, come on then: whose bright idea was it to let Jimmy Nail be a pop star? I mean, Jimmy Nail! And let's not forget, Jimmy Nail didn't just get into the charts: he got to Number One! That said, I will go down fighting to defend Ain't No Doubt (co-written by the aforementioned Charlie 'Pilot of the Airwaves' Dore... see, I don't just throw this blog together, etc. etc.).

Crocodile Shoes though? No, it's rubbish.

Still, the video does feature pantomine horses, and Jimmy's Crocodile Shoes literally cry too... so there's that.

9. This Town Needs Guns - Crocodile

I'm not sure I understand Maths rock. (Attention: there is an s on Maths. I'm not calling it Math Rock, because that would be stupid.) I'm an English teacher.

This is from a record called Animals, on which all the tracks are named after different... erm, Animals. Track 1 is Chinchilla. Track 7 is Elk. Track 3 is Lemur. Track 9 is Gibbon. Track 5 is Quetzal. (No, me neither.) How very 6th Form.

Still... slightly better than Jimmy Nail.

8. The Hollies - Crocodile Woman (She Bites)

Not the Hollies' finest hour, but a hell of a lot better than Wiggle That Wotsit. That's scarier than any crocodile.(Don't click the link. You will be scarred for life.)

7. XTC - Crocodile

 A three scene play from Andy Partridge... I think the croc is a metaphor for jealousy.

6. Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern - The Crocodile

A delicate little story about a smiling crocodile by the bloke from Hefner. Quite lovely.

5. Janis Ian - Crocodile Song

Great lyrics, great life performance from Janis. She's still got it.

4. T-Rex - Warlord of the Royal Crocodiles

Mad. And it's almost 40 years since he died too. I was going to do a Top Ten Marc Bolan Songs in tribute, but The Swede already did a far better job of that than I ever could
3. Echo & The Bunnymen - Crocodiles

Jimmy Nail will be pleased to hear that the Bunnymen far prefer crocodile shoes to ones made out of alligator. If there's one thing I understand about the lyrics to this song, it's that. 

2. Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - Crocodile Cryer

A song about false friends stabbing you in the back, and it's not even by Morrissey. Can't understand how Martin Stephenson wasn't a bigger star. He even name-drops our Number One artist in he lyrics...
In a house full of fairday fakes 
Where the next-day neighbour makes the cakes 
With Elton John records playing loud upstairs 
It could be just the time to strike 
I'll be casual and ask about 
A will that could be mine throughout 
An opportunist you might think but I have to earn my brass
1. Elton John - Crocodile Rock

Do you remember when rock was young? Do you remember when Elton was young? Do you remember when he was good? Really good? So good, he shamelessly filched bits of Chris Montez's Let's Dance and Pat Boone's Speedy Gonzales to cobble together of the best throwaway pop songs / rock 'n' roll throwbacks of the 70s.
Oh Lawdy, mama, those Friday nights
When Suzie wore her dresses tight
And the Crocodile Rocking was out of sight
This just in from The Department of Making You Feel Old: Elton John doing a tribute song to the early days of rock 'n' roll in 1972 is the equivalent of me doing a tribute to the second Coldplay album today. Not that I'm comparing the early days of rock to A Rush Of Blood To The Head since it's clear that one of those changed life as we know it on the planet earth and the other one proved Chris Martin couldn't even write a better song than Yellow, but still... time, y'know. Time.

Which one would you snap up?

(By the way, Alligator fans, don't feel left out... your time will come.)

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs #4: I Wasn't A Teenage Anarchist

Apparently, when you hit your teenage years, you're supposed to rebel against your parents and the establishment, severing the ties that bind you to your childhood and allowing you to fly free and conquer the world as you hit adulthood.

I reckon I got that all ass-backwards. As I've hinted at in previous posts, I didn't so much rebel against my parents and their generation as rebel against my peers. Every time they told me I should be listening to The Smiths, I cranked up The Beach Boys. When Frankie said Relax, in my house he said Regrets... I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. When 17 year old Aisling Reynolds (and her older sister Linda) told the world they'd rather Jack... 17 year old Rol screamed back that he'd much rather Fleetwood Mac, thank you very much. (I changed my mind completely on The Smiths and partly on Frankie, but I still find that Reynolds Girls song once of the most offensive things ever committed to vinyl).

It wasn't just in music that I rebelled against being a teenager. I refused to touch a drop of alcohol... until I was in my early 20s, and the slope was very slippery after that. I never smoked behind the bike sheds. (I would have gone with a girl behind the bike sheds, but what girl would want a teenage pensioner?) Drugs? Yeah, right. Zammo never had to warn me off those. By the time I reached Sixth Form, my friends were calling me Victor Meldrew. My friends! And part of me relished it.

Looking back, I must have seemed a complete dick to a lot of my peers. And I probably was. But I had one thing in common with a lot of teenagers: I wanted to be different. Not from my parents though, because they were different from everybody else's parents anyway. They were ten, fifteen years older than most other mums and dads I met. They came from the Land Before Rock 'n' Roll. I never wanted to disrespect them or hurt them in any way, and though we clashed occasionally, mostly my home life was harmonious. But this restricted me when I hit my 20s and caused me to make all kinds of stupid mistakes then that I should have made when I was 16. It would probably have been better for me if I had been a teenage anarchist...

4. Against Me! - I Was A Teenage Anarchist

Against Me! are a very interesting band, not least because their lead singer changed genders halfway through their career. A former colleague of mind did the same and I admire her so much for the bravery of that decision. Imagine living most of your life in the wrong body, and then having the guts to do something about it. Makes my own midlife crisis pale into insignificance...

Monday, 18 September 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #18: The Pilot Goes To Hospital

While I studied for my A Levels during the week, I spent my Saturday mornings in a radio studio. Not actually the on air studio though, just the Master Control Room... which makes it sound a whole lot fancier and more important than it actually was. The only time I got to go into the on air studio was to take in the coffee, and very occasionally you'd hear my voice on air if the jock deigned to throw a question my way... but mostly that was a muffled, off-mic thing. Rarely did he throw open the guest mic and let me speak clearly. On the rare occasion he did that... well, it made me want a whole lot more. I wanted to get behind that desk myself. Have complete control of the mic fader. Feel my lips just a whisker from the pop shield... that sacred totem that was flecked with the spittle of every jock who'd ever sat in that glorious, all-powerful presenter's chair (apart from the hygeine-conscious ones who brought in their own pop shields and swapped them over before and after their shows).

That wasn't going to happen without a little on-air experience of my own though, and it soon became clear I wasn't going to get that at the station. The old quandary that besets most teenage job-applicants: they want experience first, but how do you get it?

The answer was Hospital Radio. Most of the jocks I spoke too said that was how they'd got started, and they encouraged me to give it a go. It wasn't what I expected.

For a start, it wasn't even in the hospital. It was a few streets away, in the basement of a grand old townhouse that had been converted into flats. And as shabby as the radio station I already worked at looked, this made that look like Radio One. But every Thursday evening, I'd dutifully trudge down there and serve out my time.

The staff weren't at all what I expected either. No wannabe radio stars: at least not on the night I worked. There was a retired schoolteacher who liked the sound of his own voice and a middle-aged mother (she was in her 30s, but that was middle-aged to me back then) who obviously just needed a night out of the house. Then there were the ones who never even wanted to get in front of the mic (I know!); happy enough just to sit in the operating room (an even more down-market MCR) or prowl the wards asking for requests. This was way before the days of texts and email, remember. (I promised I'd get involved with that side of the job  when I joined hospital radio. But I managed to never once set foot inside the hospital. Kept well away from all the sick people.)

It was here that I honed my craft. Not presenting, per se, but co-presenting. I was pretty good at that. Giving the sarky comeback, setting up the gags and paying them off. Throughout my short-lived on-air career, I was always much better if I had someone to banter with. (Like a cut-rate Mark Radcliffe, without half the wit.) I'm not sure I ever cracked the intimate conversation with the listener, but then the opportunities for flying solo were always pretty limited. (At Christmas, I'd volunteer for the shifts no one else wanted. New Year's Day, I was down there at 8am to do my own thing and play my own thing to absolutely no one. Even in hospital, people had a lay in on January 1st.)

I enjoyed it though. There was no pressure on hospital radio. You just turned up, played Jim Reeves 'I Love You Because' and probably something by The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band (because they were always requested), then maybe made up a couple of your own requests that allowed you to play some Meat Loaf. The record library wasn't anywhere near as extensive as the one at my other job: far more Foster & Allen than Foreigner & Abba, but I brought my own records in and snuck them on air whenever I could. This was the late 80s though, and regularly readers of this blog will be well-acquainted with my late-80s tastes. No one at hospital radio had even heard of The Smiths.

Around this time, I put away my childish things. Quit the brass band which had been my only social life for a good four or five years and gave up the piano lessons I'd been taking (unsuccessfully) since I was in primary school. I didn't have time for any of that if I was going to be a radio star. There would, however, be one other lesson I'd soon find myself desperately in need of...


18. Charlie Dore - Pilot of the Airwaves

Here's another radio song I owe to Uncle Tel. Soon after the story above took place, this was to become the last ever song played on Radio Caroline. But I remember it from the first time round. A huge hit in the States, Canada and even Australia... though it only got to #66 in the UK singles chart of 1979. Singer-songwriter Charlie Dore was British though, and although this was her only solo hit, she did go on to pen a number of other successful tunes... one of which I'll be mentioning later in the week. You may be surprised.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

My Top Ten Molly Songs (Tribute To Molly The Cat Part 2)

Molly getting ready to go on holiday with us.

In the inevitable follow-up to last night's post: ten Molly songs.

The main reason I write, the main reason I've always written... stories, comics, novels, plays, blogs, anything... is to try to make sense of it all. Writing these posts has been cathartic. Thanks for all the kind words.

10. The Kingston Trio - Run, Molly, Run / Molly Dee

I was fortunate to stumble across a box set compilation of early Kingston Trio albums in a charity shop a year or so back. Here's two for the price of one from that collection.

9. The dB's - Molly Says

Top mid-80s powerpop racket. Great lyrics.
She could stand at the top of the world
And still complain that she could not see
She could stand in a deep dark hole
And still look down on me
8. Kings of Leon - Molly's Chambers

On paper, the Kings of Leon should exactly the kind of band I dote over. I just never quite got it, though. Still, this is undoubtedly one of their best.

7. Strawberry Story - Molly Ringwald

I'm sure one of my fellow bloggers will be able to tell you a lot more about Strawberry Story than I can (Brian? JC?) but any band that namechecks 80s teen heroine Molly Ringwald scores points in my record collection.

6. Travis - Only Molly Knows

One for Martin, I'm sure.

Arguably the best song on The Man Who was the hidden track, Blue Flashing Light. Turns out that on the US edition of the CD, there were three hidden tracks. None of them particularly shabby.

5. The People The Poet - Molly Drove Me Away

Contemporary Welsh rock that sounds like it hails from New Jersey? Yes, please.

4. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - Molly

Epic country tragedy. The internet claims this was written by Alex Harvey... but surely that must be some other Alex Harvey?

3. The Vaselines / Nirvana - Molly's Lips

The original is an off-kilter classic, obviously. No wonder it was one of Kurt's favourite records.

2. Emily Kinney - Molly

So much more interesting as a singer-songwriter than she ever got to be on The Walking Dead.

1. Little Richard - Good Golly, Miss Molly

One of the most influential recordings in the history of rock 'n' roll? Check. Seems like a fine place to end this tribute to a unique feline.

What's your favourite Molly song? (Points will be deducted for suggesting Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Dah because it's bloody annoying. If you're one of those people who doesn't read to the end of the post, don't say you weren't warned.)

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