Sunday, 17 February 2019

Saturday Snapshots #71 - The Answers

When it comes to Saturday Snapshots, you guys Don't Stop Till You Get Enough. And you didn't do Bad yesterday at all. It's good to know You Are Not Alone when you're playing this game, particularly this week as Alyson & Lynchie fought it out for top spot (I think Lynchie just clinched it), leaving Charity Chic, Walter, Chris and Rigid Digit to hoover up the leftovers. Thanks for playing, guys.

10. C'mon everybody - we've got 57 varieties!

Heinz have 57 Varieties.

Eddie Cochran sang C'mon Everybody.

Heinz - Just Like Eddie

9. Prima & Bella take you off the guest list.

Primadonna & Belladonna...

The Donnas - Who Invited You?

8. Electric offspring can't breathe underwater.

Son Volt - Drown

7. For a long time before you die, there'll be feedback and grease monkeys.

Feedback comes from a mic.

Grease monkeys are mechanics.

Before you die, you have the living years.

Mike & The Mechanics - The Living Years

Something in my eye, sorry.

6. What flour is to bread and cocoa is to chocolate... nah, I'm just mucking about. Aren't we all?

Flour is the main ingredient in bread. Cocoa is the main ingredient in chocolate.

The Main Ingredient - Everybody Plays The Fool

5. Talking Heads Mr. poised right behind you.

Talking Heads sang about Mr. Jones.

If you have poise, you have grace.

Grace Jones - Pull Up To The Bumper

4. Respect for sad priest.

Deacon Blue - Dignity

I love Ricky Ross, but man, he's a bad dancer.

3. E Streeter goes on provincial tour, counting down his last days.

Steve Van Zandt is a prominent member of the E Street Band.

Towns are provincial.

Townes Van Zandt - Waiting Around To Die

2. Offshore wind farms draped in Union Jacks.

British Sea Power - Waving Flags

1. Snarly rhinos before two.

Snarly rhinos is an anagram.

Now Beat It... at least until next Saturday morning at 8.30. Remember The Time. 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday Snapshots #71

Rah rah... ah-ah-ah!
Ro mah... ro-mah-mah
Gaga... oh-la-la!
Want your Saturday Snapshots?

Course you do. Put on your Poker Face, because it's time to identify ten top tunes and their performers from the clues below...

10. C'mon everybody - we've got 57 varieties!

9. Prima & Bella take you off the guest list.

8. Electric offspring can't breathe underwater.

7. For a long time before you die, there'll be feedback and grease monkeys.

6. What flour is to bread and cocoa is to chocolate... nah, I'm just mucking about. Aren't we all?

5. Talking Heads Mr. poised right behind you.

4. Respect for sad priest.

3. E Streeter goes on provincial tour, counting down his last days.

2. Offshore wind farms draped in Union Jacks.

1. Snarly rhinos before two.

Stop telephoning me... the answers will be here tomorrow morning!

Friday, 15 February 2019

The United Kingdom of Song #19: The Rhondda Valley

Back to Wales today, to a valley shaped by the mining industry... and arguably destroyed by the end of that industry. Today's song deals with that in heartbreaking detail.

Famous sons & daughters of the Rhondda include H from Steps, Denise Gyngell from Tight Fit (the lady married Pete Waterman, but there's no accounting for taste) and Mike Smash of Smashie & Nicey... Paul Whitehouse.

Despite what you may be thinking, the Beach Boys never recorded a song about Rhondda... but Rhyl band The Alarm did. And it must be their very best song, surely? A powerful indictment of "the rape of the fair country", it still sends shivers down my spine as it did when I first heard it, more than 30 years ago...

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Radio Songs #54: The Ghost (Part 8)

You will be glad to know that we're pretty much at the end of this particular tale. Other people who worked in the building at the same time as me, or even earlier, would be able to give you their own peculiar experiences... such as that of "Status Quo Sharon", a lady who answered the phones prior to me (I've only changed the Sharon part of her name) and reported finding an old lady sitting in the corner of the studio. Sharon stopped to ask her if she was all right or if she wanted a cup of tea or anything, but when she didn't get a reply, she went off to ask if anyone knew who the lady was... well, you can guess the rest.

In the end though, most of us started to take the ghost in our stride. We even gave it a name: Sidney. If weird things started happening, we'd shout out, "not tonight, Sidney!" I have a photograph of one of my colleagues standing in the studio with his arm out, as though putting it around someone's shoulders. We had the idea that when we got the photo developed, there might be a ghostly figure standing there... but of course, there wasn't.

Those of us who'd worked there awhile became accustomed to the electrical problems, the blurs of movement from the corner of your eye, the weird noises and drastic drops in temperature. It wasn't particularly pleasant if you were alone in the building (I remember the occasional Saturday night where at 2am, I'd sprint out of the building as fast as I could once the alarm was set, not wanting to stick around a second longer than I had to) but if other people were there, you just got on with it.

There was even the occasional practical joke played on those who were more easily spooked, the best of which was the station engineer who arrived really early one morning, entered the studio before the breakfast show presenter, hid under the on-air desk, waited patiently for the presenter to arrive... and then, during the first link... reached out and grabbed the unsuspecting DJ by the ankles.

"It's five past six, that was Culture Club, welcome to the.... Aaaaaaarrghh!"

Then one day, the bosses got the builders in to spruce up the downstairs offices. Corridors were moved, rooms were made bigger or smaller, new desks were built in Studio C and Studio B. For weeks there was dust and polythene sheets and exposed brickwork... and it was even colder than usual... but when all the work was done and the builders had gone, so had the ghost.

There was still the occasional sighting or shiver, but for most of us - certainly those of us who regularly worked nights and had become accustomed to the weirdness - it was almost as though the builders had driven Sidney out. As though the process of rearranging and rebuilding had changed the atmosphere or walled up that window to another dimension, however you might want to explain it.

Thinking back now, I do start to wonder... was it all just our imaginations? It's easy to ask that with 20 years' hindsight. But if you'd asked me back then, I'd have answered with no doubt in my mind. That place was haunted.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

My Top Ten I'm vs. I'm Not Songs

Let's do another one of these, pitting I'm... songs against I'm Not songs. Will the ayes have it, or the nays?

10. The Blue Room - I'm Afraid vs. Skunk Anansie - I'm Not Afraid

The Blue Room song comes from the soundtrack to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which wins it enormous points. But I'm too afraid of Skin from Skunk Anansie to tell her she's a loser, so...

9. Van Halen - I'm The One vs. The Cars - I'm Not The One

Somebody get Eddie some plasters for his fingers. And a pat on the back too: I think he beats Mr. Ocasek here.

8. The Artistics - I'm Gonna Miss You vs. Glen Campbell - I'm Not Gonna Miss You

Lost Northern Soul belter versus late period Glen. I am going to miss you, Mr. Campbell, sir.

7. Hothouse Flowers - I'm Sorry vs. Morrissey - I'm Not Sorry

I'm Sorry, Moz... this one goes to the Flowers. Never mind, you'll get another chance in a moment.

Of course, the big problem with Morrissey is right there in the title of this song. He's not sorry. He's never sorry. If only he could be, just once...

6. Bobby Womack - I'm In Love vs. 10cc - I'm Not In Love

Listen to Bobby Womack's voice here!

Apologies to Stockport's finest, but big boys don't cry...

(Although that may be disputed later on in this countdown.)

5. The Beatles - I'm Down vs. The Clash - I'm Not Down

Tough one. Normally I'd let The Clash beat The Beatles because Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust... but I have a soft spot for early Lennon when he's prepared to shred his vocal chords as he does here. The Fabs take it.

4. Alice Cooper - I'm So Angry vs. Elvis Costello - I'm Not Angry

Bill Bixby used to tell us not to make him angry... we wouldn't like him when he's angry. We like Alice when he gets angry though... and I guess he's going to be angry at losing out to Elvis here, but it takes a lot to beat My Aim Is True.

3. Madonna - (Now) I'm Following You vs. Edwyn Collins - I'm Not Following You

There was a time when I'd have welcomed being followed by Aunty Madge... these days, I'd be quick to get a restraining order. (Warren Beatty duets with her here... he probably thought this song was about him.)

Edwyn, on the other hand, can follow me any time he likes.

2. Pulp - I'm A Man vs. Morrissey - I'm Not A Man

Manly Jarvis trumps wimpy Moz, providing his second beating of the day. It's enough to make a grown man cry! Speaking of which...

1. Tom Petty - I'm Crying vs. Flight of the Conchords - I'm Not Crying

No wonder Tom's crying - he's just been beaten by a couple of Kiwi comics...

And if I am crying
It's not because of you
It's because I'm thinking about a friend of mine who you don't know who is dying
That's right, dying

These aren't tears of sadness because you're leaving me
I've just been cutting onions
I'm making a lasagna

For one!

For your information there's an inflammation in my tear gland...

I'm waiting for your suggestions...

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Hot 100 #52

This week's image was an obvious choice, and even came up as a song suggestion from Brian...

The B-52s - 52 Girls

Madge and Mabel
Biddie, see them on the beach
Or in New
York City, Tina Louise
And there's Hazel and Mavis

But this wasn't the only mention of the B-52 bomber I found in my library. We could also have...

Bobby Gibson & The Voyagers - B-52

Saint Etienne - 52 Pilot

David Lee Roth - Skycraper

Float like a buttuerfly
Sting like a B-52
And the radar locks on you
No static

The Monochrome Set - Apocalypso

I'm wrapped in silver foil
My blood is on the boil
B-52s flutter coyly

Or... my own personal favourite, natch...

Bruce Springsteen - Growin' Up

...a song where the B-52 button on a jukebox allows Bruce to bomb them with the blues.

A few other lyrical 52s that you suggested include:

The Cure - So What (C)

Cake icing and decorating set
Special offer
Only 3 pound 30
Save 1 pound 52 on recommended retail price

(No prizes for guessing why Robert Smith required such a product. Presumably it's what he used to apply his make-up.)

The Divine Comedy - Festive Road (Rigid Digit)

...which gets top marks for being a song about 80s kids' TV show Mr. Benn. Another hero of my childhood.

Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knocking

I told you way back in 52
That I would never go with you

C wondered who did the original of that. RD replied that it was Smiley Lewis... and that if you listen carefully to the instrumental break, Dave gives a shout out to him, along with Huey 'Piano' Smith (who played piano on the original version), Fats Domino (who also covered it) and Chuck Berry (who doesn't appear to have recorded it at all, but maybe he played it live?).

Smiley Lewis - I Hear You Knocking

Rigid Digit also suggested this belter...

The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star

I heard you on the wireless back in '52...

RD then offered the controversial opinion that the cover versions by Ben Folds Five and Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club were both better than Trevor Horn's original. I'm not sure I agree with that - there's something about the original that just sends a shiver down my spine (in a good way) although they're both fine covers. I'd add the version by Presidents of the United States of America to the list of cracking covers.

Other songs I found that referenced 1952 included...

Roger Miller - South

She was born in '52, she finished in a Mississippi school

M. Ward - Beautiful Car

It was a baby blue fifty-two Roadstar
It was a beautiful car

The Swede offered one of his go-to artists...

Robyn Hitchcock - 52 Stations

(I'm going to see Robyn play Huddersfield Library on a Sunday afternoon soon. ROCK 'N' ROLL! Wonder if he'll play that then?)

Meanwhile, I found a few more lurking in the back of my hard-drive...

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Area 52

Fish - Brother 52

There are, of course, 52 weeks in a year, so I thought I might find loads of references to that. However, the only ones that leapt out at me were these...

Julia Fordham - Downhill Sunday

52 weekends
52 to go
Sliding from heaven
To the flames below

The Undertones - I Don't Know

I got a postcard from my Majorca
She's now in love with a hotel worker
Holiday extended 52 weeks a year
I wish that I never tried to hurt her

There are also 52 cards in a pack... which obviously led me to this "classic" of my misspent youth...

Wink Martindale - Deck Of Cards

...which I'll play for Lynchie, because I know it's one of his favourites.

And friends, the story is true.
I know, I was that soldier.

All of which leads us to one of Lynchie's other suggestions... which is my runner-up this week...

Billy Joel - 52nd Street

(With a quick mention for Van Morrison - St. Dominic's Preview, which also takes a stroll on that particular road.)

However, I have to agree with both Lynchie and Rigid Digit that there was one very clear winner this week. It was the song that introduced me to this particular artist and established him in my mind as both a lyricist and guitar player of great note...

Said James, "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a '52 Vincent and a Redheaded girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greavses won't do.
Oh, they don't have a Soul like a Vincent '52

If that doesn't break your heart by the end of the song, then you've got granite in your chest...

51 next week... anyone got anything that can challenge The Swede's obvious suggestion?

Monday, 11 February 2019

Monday's Long Song: Blue Remembered Hills

I thought I'd jump on Drew's bandwagon this week and have a go at selecting a Long Song to ease us into Monday... just as The Swede, Swiss Adam, Walter and others have also been doing.

Anyway, here's twenty minutes of Ultrasound from their 2016 album Real Britannia, a song that encompasses Mel C's tears, shorts and scuffs and beans for tea, Tiny's dad's nervous breakdown, cross-dressing, sex like you thought only Jarvis could write it, Noggin The Nog, Jimmy Saville's shit-stained covers, 70s nostalgia in the Luke Haines vein... and blue remembered hills.

All human life is here.

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