***Before I start this week's Top Ten: a plea for help.***
Last night, my blogroll disappeared from the sidebar of my site. I have no idea where it went, but all efforts to recover it have been in vain. I have tried my best to reconstruct it from memory (and via the blogroll of my old blog, Sunset Over Slawit, although many of those links are long gone now) but I'm sure there are many favourites I've forgotten. So if you know that I'm a reader of your blog and usually list it to the right... but you can't see it there now... please leave a reminder in the comments box. If you're a music blogger reading this site but I DON'T read your blog, it may be that I just don't know of its existence. Anyway, the same goes for you guys... just leave me a link and I'll add you to Rol's roll.
I calculate that this must be the last of my mathematical posts. It may well prove my last post ever after I'm laughed out of the blogosphere for one particular selection. But, hey: Irk The Musos!
Special mention to Joy Division... and Half Man Half Biscuit's superb "tribute", Joy Division Oven Gloves.
10. Kevin Ayers - 2 Goes Into 4
Psychedelic king and Soft Machine founder Ayers brings us a brief coda to his 1974 album The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories. It starts out with a simple bit of maths... and then goes quickly mental.
Surprisingly not the shortest record on this week's Top Ten though...
9. The Song Which Dare Not Speak Its Name
OK. Here we go. I make no bones about this: it is a truly awful record. But I would argue that's largely down to the production, by the three men responsible for the nadir of popular music in the late 80s. And yes, it's sung by a bloody soap opera star... although arguably one I've grown to have more respect for in his later years (I saw him in the stage version of Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds and he was excellent). The song itself - if you strip away all that awful production - stands up well as a decent enough pop song. If it'd been recorded 20 years earlier by The Supremes, it would be remembered now as a classic.
That said, I know: it's awful.
I was 16 when it was released, and even though my musical tastes had moved well beyond teen-pop, something about this record (and a couple of other singles from the same album) appealed to my cheesy sense of fun. I remember singing along to it with a friend (who was a strict Smiths / Pet Shop Boys devotee) at the top of our voices on the school bus, ironically perhaps, but not caring about the embarrassment attached.
I didn't have to tell you this. I could have denied its existence in the playlist of my memory and clung onto my shreds of blogger cool, but no... honesty is the best policy. I often say on this blog that I do not believe in Guilty Pleasures and will shamelessly extol the virtues of Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, Genesis, Bryan Adams, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Abba, Guns n Roses, Whitesnake, Lady Gaga, et al. where other bloggers fear to tread. I mean I draw the line at U2 and Michael Bolton, but that's about it. But this time, I fear I've just gone too far...
Perhaps I should consult Jez over at A History of Dubious Taste? If anyone will stick up for me here, it's got to be him...
8. Tanya Donelly - Divine Sweet Divide
Back to cool with the former Throwing Muse, Breeder and Belly-lady.
Out go the jangly guitars, in comes a solo piano which shows off Tanya's voice at its very best.
7. Against Me! - Bitter Divisions
I became momentarily obsessed with White Crosses, the album this (bonus) track comes from, a few years back. It took Against Me! into more anthemic, Green Day territory than their earlier, punkier recordings and proved a good sing-a-long, thump-the-steering wheel protest record.
I haven't really been paying much attention to the band's career since then, so I was interested to read that the lead singer, Laura Jane Grace (formerly Thomas James Gabel), recently revealed herself to be transgender, as chronicled in 2014's Against Me! album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. As I have a friend / former colleague who recently went through the same thing, I'm very interested in tracking that record down.
6. Death Cab For Cutie - Long Division
Ben Gibbard stretches the metaphor, but it's forgivable when the rest of his lyrics are so emotive and evocative.
The television was snowing softly5. The Cardigans - The Great Divide
As she hunted for her keys
She said she never envisioned him the type of person capable of such deceit
And they carried on like long division
And it was clear with every page
That they were further away from a solution that would play
Without a remain remain remain remainder
From First Band On The Moon, the album that broke The Cardigans onto the international stage (it's the one with Lovefool on!) this low key, bittersweet track puts Nina's vocals front and centre.
4. Neil Young - The Great Divide
Another Great Divide, from Mr. Young's 24th album... released 16 years ago. There have been 14 more since. Sounds timeless.
In the great divide3. Big Star - St 100/6
Nothin' to decide
No one else to care for or love
In the great divide
I don't fit in too well
Not actually a calculation of division, though it looks enough like one to get it in here. The title is apparently an imaginary catalogue number Alex Chilton and Chris Bell gave to an imaginary record on an imaginary record label they threatened their real record label they might release if they didn't get their skates on and put out their debut album. Less than a minute in length, it's the final track on #1 Record, an homage to Abbey Road era Beatles.
2. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach - Long Division
While Hal David and Elvis Costello were extremely different lyricists, both dealt in melancholia and wordplay. While never aiming to equal the Bacharach / David collaboration, 1998's Bacharach / Costello juxtaposition brought a new lease of life to both artists. It gave Costello the timeless melodies he'd been moving towards after years of feasting at the new wave, country, soul and alt-rock tables, and it afforded Bacharach the opportunity to write his first album of new songs in 21 years. Just beautiful.
And every night you ask yourself1. Aimee Mann - One
"What am I to do?"
Can it be so hard to calculate?
When three goes into two
There`s nothing left over
OK, I owe this one to Martin because I really didn't have a Number One for this final Maths Top Ten until he suggested this a couple of weeks back... and we won't ever get a more perfect One than this One.
One is the loneliest number, much much worse than twoOf course, One is originally by Harry Nilsson, an artist whom I have a huge amount of time and respect for, and not only because he was Number One on the day I was born. But much as I love Harry's version, the divine Ms. Mann knocked this One out of the park when she recorded the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia: a good film made great by its musical score.
One is the number divided by two...
Perhaps this Perfect One will make up for that Imperfect Nine... somehow, I doubt it.
Which one is most likely to divide opinion?