Saturday, 18 August 2018

Saturday Snapshots #46

Still paying our Respects to the Queen of Soul, here's ten clues designed to make you Think... can you identify the artist and song for each one? Of course you can, you're no Chain of Fools!

10. Clashing with the cops... even though one of them was a cop - completely!

9. Donald plants citrus seeds on the White House lawn. What will grow there?

8. Move the pan so the babies don't get singed.

7. Plan a social gathering with this luscious nomad.

6. Will you go out with me? Yes? What do your friends call you? Like your heavenly body? (Slap!)

5. Throw the clairvoyant at that beauty spot.

4. Char lady required for diminutive queen? You're not wrong!

3. Hugh shares a sweet affection for the Go-Betweens' favourite actress.

2. Why stand on the Big Bad when you could be going on David Copperfield's rug?

1. Stooping to pick up a Scouse bracelet.

I Say A Little Prayer that you'll join me for the answers tomorrow morning...

Friday, 17 August 2018

My Top Ten Aretha Franklin Songs

RIP, Aretha Franklin. After some consideration, here are my own personal favourites. I won't try to justify them beyond saying that I was a child of the 80s - which will explain two of these entries... Who's Zoomin' Who could well have been #11.

10. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (with the Eurythmics)

9. Spanish Harlem

8. I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (with George Michael)

7.  I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)

6. Chain of Fools

5. Rock Steady

4. (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman

3. Think

2. I Say A Little Prayer

1. Respect

Thursday, 16 August 2018

2018 Contenders: Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967

When it comes time to compile my Top 18 of 2018 in December, you can pretty much guarantee that  you'll find the latest album from John Prine somewhere very near the top. There's a warmth and wit to this record unlike anything else I've heard this year, and every song feels like an old friend.

The album kicks off with a new entry into the pantheon of great screen door song (I still intend to do a Top Ten of those one day), a great bluesy lost love lyric, followed by a sweet little duet with Brandi Carlile, I Have Met My Love Today. It's the kind of love song you'd think it'd be impossible to write these days, given the weight of 80+ years of popular love songs that precede it, but Prine makes it look easy. Similarly, if you're going to write a new song called God Only Knows, you better make it a belter. And he does. (That's got Jason Isbell on backing vocals too - even more bang for your buck.) Then comes The Lonesome Friends of Science - the end of the world as we know it, but John feels fine...

Poor ol' planet Pluto now
He never stood a chance no how
When he got uninvited to
The interplanetary dance
Once a mighty planet there
Now just an ordinary star
Hangin' out in Hollywood
In some ol' funky sushi bar

My favourite track has to be this one. It's parenthetical titled is (Crazy Bone), and that probably gives you more of an idea of what it's all about. S-e-x. From being a horny teenager to a randy old man in a nursing home. It also contains my favourite verse of the year thus far...

Don't be stuck up in Alaska
When you should be in Nebraska
On a Thursday when it's Egg & Daughter Nite
When the farmers come to town
And they spread them eggs around
And they drop their daughters down at the roller rink
Well you're prob'ly standin' there
With your slicked-back, Brylcreem hair
Your Luckies and your daddy's fine-tooth comb
If they knew what you were thinkin'
They'd run you out of Lincoln
Just blame it on that ole' crazy bone

I've seen a few critics calling The Tree of Forgiveness "John Prine's last album", and considering he's 71 (as old as Johnny Cash got), this is his first album of original songs in 13 years, and he's been dodging the bullet healthwise recently, I guess I can understand why they might write that. But I dearly hope it isn't so, because when we do lose John Prine, we'll have lost one of the greatest songwriters to ever walk the earth. Still, at least he knows what he's going to do when that day finally comes...

When I get to heaven, I'm gonna shake God's hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I'm gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel; ain't the afterlife grand?
And then I'm gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I'm gonna smoke a cigarette that's nine miles long
I'm gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
'Cause this old man is goin' to town

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

My Top Ten Auteurs Songs...

...can be found over at The Vinyl Villain today, where JC has kindly allowed me to indulge myself over the next three weeks with a trio of tributes to the great Luke Haines in the form of three Imaginary Compilation Albums.

Please visit The Vinyl Villain if you haven't been there already today for Part 1.

Meanwhile, here's a track I didn't have room for... one of many!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Hot 100 #71

The band SR-71 (named after a Lockheed fighter plane) have actually featured on this blog before as they recorded the original version of my favourite Bowling For Soup Song, 1985. They also had a couple other minor hits, most notably Right Now. Worth a listen if you like the early noughties American guitar band sound of Blink-182 et al.

Songwise, the number 71 proved much trickier for you guys. In fact, this is the closest this feature has yet got to...

Alyson tried her best with '71 I Think I'll Make A New World by the Magnetic Fields, from one of my favourite albums of last year, but as I may have mentioned when I began this feature many, many weeks ago, I'd ruled that album out; otherwise I could have featured one of its songs every week so far. Each track on the album is about one year in Stephin Merritt's life, so I could have chosen this glorious gem for '78 or this belter for '77 or this euphoric classic for '76... well, you get the picture. Time will sadly run out for this as an option come '66 Wonder Where I'm From, the opening track on 50 Song Memoir. Until then, you're welcome to suggest them even though technically they're disqualified.

The only other suggestion this week came from Rigid Digit - and yes, it was another one that could have satisfied multiple entries on this countdown: Saturday Gigs by Mott The Hoople...

In Seventy-one all the people come
Bust a few seats but it's just in fun
Take the Mick out of Top of the Pops
We play better than they do

That one's only got a couple more weeks to run too.

What else did I find lurking in my record collection for Number Seventy-One then?

The final track on the album Black Cadillac by Roseanne Cash is called 0:71. The record was written while Cash was dealing with the recent loss of her mother (Johnny's first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin), stepmother (June) and father, but 0:71 isn't actually a song... it's 71 seconds of silence. One second for every year of Johnny's life. A cool tribute, but hardly a "song" I can choose to represent 71 in the Hot 100.

Fortunately, I didn't have to rely on it because I also found this, from the late Jason Molina's second band (his first was Songs: Ohia). Some nice, laidback Americana for a Tuesday morning...

Which brings us to 70. Hopefully there'll be less tumbleweed next week, though I still expect some Mott The Hoople...

Monday, 13 August 2018

Talky Songs #9: Reynard The Fox

Following on from last week's post about The End by The Doors, here's the first of two songs which owe a huge debt to it.

Reynard The Fox was a medieval character that appeared in Dutch, English, German and French folklore. Julian Cope adopted the character for this epic track on his second album, 1985's Fried, using the alter ego to partly explain his own onstage self-mutilation (he'd slashed his stomach with a broken microphone stand the previous year*) in a gloriously OTT slice of Jim Morrison-esque humbug that made a huge impact on me as a teenager**.

Reynard left and went to Warwickshire, to a mound near a railway line,
With canals and a freezing swamp. He climbs high up above the countryside
And breathes freely. To the south he could see Polesworth, and to the
North he could just make out the ruins of the priory where Joss and I
Played cricket as children. We were only three miles away, probably drinking
Tea and talking,
At the same time as he was taking the Stanley knife out of
The bag. He pushed the point into his stomach,
until the light shone right
Through. And then he reached down, and he took the bag.
It's a plastic bag
With plastic handles
And plastic sides

*Cope didn't actually spill his guts all over the stage... it was just a minor surface wound that became exaggerated in the way that all great pop legends should.

**I never spilled my guts, except that one time, after too much red wine... but I was in my 20s then and should have known better.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Saturday Snapshots #45 - The Answers

I hope you had the time of your life playing Saturday Snapshots yesterday. And that none of you ended up a Basket Case...

A Saturday night powercut means I'm setting this to post via my phone so can't add my usual commentary congratulating the winners. Just hoping this will still post on Sunday morning as planned. I'll try to add comments later on Sunday but thanks for playing as always.

10. Je t'aime a tiny city full of serial killers.

Je t'aime is French for 'I love you'.

A tiny city full of serial killers would be a mini Ripper-town.

Minnie Riperton - Loving You

9. High ranking (southern) British martial artist and fishy western director request the pleasure of your company this evening.

The ranking system in many forms of martial arts is the Dan. Southern Britain would be England.

John Ford was a great director of Westerns. Coley is a fish.

Phew. Convoluted way to get to an undisputed easy listening classic.

England Dan & John Ford Coley - I'd Really Love To See You Tonight

8. My girl in Portugal is a honey.

"My girl" translated into Portuguese is "a minha menina".

Honey comes from bees.

The Bees - A Minha Menina

7. After a couple of weeks sightseeing, kick off your shoes and hit the sofa.

Explains itself.

The Tourists - So Good To Be Back Home Again

6. Half a gross of Cale hunting a red mermaid.

Half a gross is 72.

J.J. Cale.

The Hunt For Red October.

Mermaids swim.

JJ72 - October Swimmer

5. Bet you felt a proper one before that fall. Smooch one of your crimefighting ladies to help you feel better.

Pride goes before a fall.

If you're embarrassed, you might feel a proper Charley.

Charlie's Angels were crimefighters.

Charley Pride - Kiss An Angel Good Morning

4. Heroic cop loses his G-string across the channel.

Heroic is daring, minus a g = Darin. A cop is a Bobby.

Across the Channel is...

Bobby Darin - Beyond The Sea

3. Win a designer scullery!

A designer scullery would be a kitchen of distinction.

You win prizes.

Kitchens of Distinction - Prize

2. Take pride in your centrefolds with pierced bellybuttons.

Taking pride in yourself is self respect.

Centrefolds are often pierced through their bellybuttons by staples.

The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself

1. Part time docker and grainmaker has a laugh.

A docker is a stevedore. Part time would make him merely Steve.

A grainmaker would be a Miller.

Laughing is for Jokers.

Saturday Snapshots will be back next week. American Idiots and Geek Stink Breaths need not apply.
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