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...

Elocution.

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.)


Friday, 15 September 2017

My Top Ten Tribute To Molly Part 1: Cat Songs



We lost an important member of our family yesterday. Molly the cat... silky ears, twitching whiskers, inquisitive meow (not to mention a full-on demanding MOWRRRR at meal times).

I loved how you thought you were a human, not a silly cat. How you'd talk back. How you'd show workmen round the house and offer your opinion. How you'd never quite settle down, and if you did, that's when the claws would come out, milking us for warmth. How sometimes you'd sit with your tongue peeping out. How loud you could purr.

There are so many Molly stories I could tell. You were such an incredible character. The time you reached out through a barely open bedroom window and pulled in a bird. (That jingling collar we had to buy you must have sounded like the Jaws theme to the local avian gangs.) The way you just had to find a carpeted area to puke furballs onto: a nice, easy to clean kitchen floor was never good enough. The way you made me feel welcome in Louise's house the first time I visited. You were one of the friendliest cats I ever met. It was amusing watching neighbours and schoolkids stop outside the house to give you a stroke on their way home.

Many more stories, but I'm filling up at the typewriter so... another time, Mols.

I'll especially miss going out last thing at night to find you (usually scavenging round the back door of the nearby hotel, where you'd managed to sweet-talk the kitchen staff into feeding you scraps), then carrying you home on my shoulder, purring, claws catching in my jumper.


10.  Sonic Youth - Purr
I love you baby yeah, you're superfine
A-claw me down, too
A purring, whirring, fuzzy like today
Switching sunlight
I chase you kitten, catch you every time
Funny how it flies
9. Marc & The Mambas - Boss Cat

Molly was certainly the boss round here...
Mee-ow, oh wow!
Mee-ow, oh wow!
Mee-ow, oh wow!
Mee-ow, oh wow!
8. Paul Heaton - Life Of A Cat

Oh, for the life of a cat!

7. Squeeze - Cool For Cats

Not really about cats at all, but Molly was definitely too cool for school.

6. Ray Charles & Hank Williams Jr. - Two Old Cats Like Us
We've been down a whole lot of alleys
Shook a whole lot of cans
There ain't too much about prowlin' or howlin'
That we don't understand

Had a few doors slammed on our tails
We've been kicked and cussed
But everything's cool for two old cats like us
5. Colin Clary - Meow Meow

Excuse the early Christmas song, but this one always makes me think of Molly. This song's for life, not just for Christmas.

4. Billy Joel - Cat

Very early, very jazzy Billy. But so many of the lyrics are spot on...
She walks with a grace of a lion
Her eyes are the color of a shade gleam
She takes her pleasure in the nighttime
Absolutely unconcerned about anything


She’s a cat and she's as free as the wind
You never know what kind of trouble she’s in
She’s a cat
Rest assured that she doesn’t need you
3. Elvis Costello - Pads, Paws & Claws

Maybe Elvis's song isn't about an actual cat, but Molly was certainly a feline tormenter and she definitely did the pads, paws and claws routine.

2. Prefab Sprout - Farmyard Cat

But you can be the feline elite and still go scrounging scraps down a dead end street, Paddy.

I'll be back to talk in more detail about this song some other time.

1. The Cure - Love Cats
So wonderfully
Wonderfully
Wonderfully
Wonderfully
Pretty...



My Top Ten Molly Songs will follow very soon, obviously...


Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Neverending Top Ten #2: Drive My Car




A nerdish obsession with pop trivia has gripped my boy in recent months, much to his mother's despair. I've tried to tell her it's just a phase. 6 months ago, he was obsessed with the clock. The most exciting thing in his world was watching the numbers on a digital clock turn back to zero zero at the top of the hour. Right now this has been replaced by an obsession with pop songs and their singers. There are three questions that are asked of every track I play him in the car...

"What's this song called?"

"Who is the singer / band?"

"What else do they sing?"

His memory for this information is astounding: far better than mine. I'm thinking of entering him for Pop Master.

"This is 1999 by Prince. He also sings Raspberry Beret and I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. What else?"

As I say, the other half despairs. She's worried he will be picked on for being a trivia-obsessed geek. "That never did his father any harm," I tell her. Something in her expression says she disputes that.

2. The Beatles - Drive My Car

One of the first songs he loved. I knew he would, that's why I chose it as the opening track on the first compilation CD I made for him. His favourite toys are cars, his favourite movies are Cars... he already knows more about cars than his dad ever has.

Plus, when it comes to pop, you've got to start with The Beatles, haven't you? I may have grown a little jaded with them over the years, but in terms of pure pop... there's no contest. Pretty much everything else comes from this...

Beep beep - beep beep - yeah!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Top Ten Records I Bought Because I Fancied The Singer #2: Houston, We Have A Problem...


I don't think this one's too embarrassing. I was 15 when I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) was released and I still think it's a great pop song, thirty years later. Yes, it does suffer from tinny 80s production, but it bounces along joyfully and gives voice to the unspoken truth of every 15 year old, boy or girl, in its title (brackets all important). You listen to lyrics like those, sung by a pretty girl just a few years older than you... and she might as well be singing to you. It's a fun pop song made heartbreaking when you're stood up against the wall at the school disco, trying your best to look cool and not bothered.

2. Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)

This was 1987 too, of course, the zenith of the music video, and the succession of short, figure-hugging dresses Whitney wears throughout doubtless sold quite a few copies to boys my age who might not otherwise have liked this kind of music. I think it's fair to say though that I loved this unashamedly at the time, by then I'd quickly worked out that my taste in music was all over the place and couldn't really be kept in a nice, neat, carefully labelled box. Yes, Whitney, for a very brief moment in time I fancied the pants off you. Then I guess you cut you hair and I stopped loving you, as Billy Bragg famously sang.

Apparently Whitney was never comfortable with being a pop star, and as this was her biggest "pop" hit, you have to wonder if she grew to hate it. I hope not, because there's an innocence to it you rarely see in pop music these days, and the fact she looked like she was having such great fun in the video made her even sexier. If she was putting that on, she was a far better actress than The Bodyguard ever allowed her to show.

I bought the album too, in case you were wondering. I must have had it bad.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Glorious 10th: Welcome To..



We're back (a little earlier than advertised, but I wanted it still to be the 10th).

As promised, I'm changing the rules this month to make things a bit more interesting / easy / difficult / different from the WYCRA feature I ripped off. (In the back of my head, I still hold a tiny hope that the WYCRA gang might one day return, and if they did, and wanted to resume their brief of getting everybody to suggest one word song titles on a Saturday morning, I don't want to have used them all up).

This month's Glorious 10th challenge then is to find ten songs with the words 'Welcome to...' in the title. Some of them will be obvious. Some of them will be obscure. Some of the really obvious ones won't make the ten at all. Points will be allocated thus...
  • 1 point for every song in my Top Ten you correctly guess.
  • 2 points for being the first person to guess that song.
  • 3 points for guessing the song's position in my Top Ten.
  • 5 points for being the first to guess my Number One song and correctly identify it as such.
  • 1 bonus point for any song I have in my collection which I couldn't squeeze into the Top Ten (the 'long list').
  • 1 bonus point for any new songs you suggest which I like.
  • Points will be deducted for really bad suggestions (i.e. U2 or Oasis), or anything that gets me sacked for watching the video at work, Jez.
The only thing you can't have is albums called Welcome To... (unless there's also a track called that on said album). With that in mind, you can't have the track below, although it is a belter: from Welcome To The Beautiful South.


Good luck.


The Glorious 10th - My Top Ten Hello Songs



Hello. It's the Glorious 10th.

Time to reveal My Top Ten Songs called Hello, and just Hello... or a repeated use of that word... or Hello (with something extra in brackets). Once again, I was overjoyed with the response. Thanks to all who played along and trawled their record collections for suitable suggestions (and unsuitable ones). I'll do my best to tally up the points below...

First off the incorrect answers...

(Remember, I will award bonus points for songs I own that didn't make the Top Ten and any that I didn't know but might have given a place to if I had.)

Straight off the mark, C can have a bonus point for suggesting The Rentals, a band created by former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp. I'd never heard it before, but it's not half bad.

C was then first to suggest Adele, which I do own... mainly because I ripped the other half's copy of 25... so that gets a point too. I like Adele and if this had been recorded in 1975, it might have made the chart. I just don't like the modern production sheen that's slopped over it... and most other 21st Century chart hits. It saps the soul from what is otherwise a rather nice tune. In my humble opinion. Similarly Charity Chic's suggestion of Beyoncé. I don't mind a bit of Beyoncé, but this one sounds a bit Beyoncé-by-the-numbers. (I'm very impressed that Beyoncé is such a big star that autocorrect automatically adds an accent to her name. You know you've arrived, etc.) And because I like Mark Owen best out of all the remaining Take Thatters, I'm going to give Alyson a bonus point for this. Because it's quite chipper.

The Swede can also have a bonus point for D.R. Hooker, which I had to listen to the whole album to hear because the single track wasn't on youtube... but it is suitably mental. I'm tempted to deduct a point for his suggestion of Oasis... but then loads of other people went and suggested it too. The chances of Oasis ever cropping up on this chart are somewhere in the remote territory between slim and feck all. Just so you know.

George can have a bonus point for Terry & Gerry, which I can't find anywhere on t'internet, but I'm assuming it's great. Because George suggested it. Or maybe his point is for reminding us how great Hello Walls by Faron Young is. It's a point, anyway: treasure it, George.

Lynchie can have a bonus point for being first to suggest Hello Hello by Talk Show, which I'd never heard before. Apparently they were very big in 1997... in Brazil. Not bad for its era though.

Last month's winner, Martin, can also have a bonus point for suggesting Bic Runga - Hello Hello. I love a bit of Bic, but hadn't heard this one before. Nothing for Evanescence though. I liked the piano, but I kept waiting for it to get going. I'm going to be vicious though and deduct a point for his suggestion of Elton John and Lady Gaga, because a) it's awful; and b) it comes from a film called Gnomeo & Juliet. Neither of them needed the money that much. Martin also can't have any points for Matthew Sweet (and Susannah Hoffs), but only because their cover of the old Todd Rundgren track in question has other words in its title: Hello, It's Me. Otherwise, it's a decent track.

Walter can have a bonus point for Eminem. This is in my collection, but it's mid-period Eminem which is pretty weak. I prefer his earlier stuff and the comeback album.

Jez can't have any bonus points for Martin Solveig Feat. Dragonette (although the video is rather entertaining) or the Stafford Brothers feat. Lil' Wayne & Christina Milian (which is a great example of the mystery of modern chart pop: how can so many people want to put their name to such utter dribble?). Jez also wins the coveted Worst Suggestion Of The Month award (minus two points) for Hello Hello by Twinkle... which my boss caught me watching at work, and now I'm looking for a new job.

Final bonus points go to my old Aussie pal Deano for bringing The Cat Empire, Dan Zanes and Merril Bainbridge to my attention. Good work, even though none of them make the list below...


10. Henry Rollins

Nobody got this one, even after I gave a clue. I'm not the biggest expert on Henry Rollins, and I do find his music a bit shouty at times, but he seems like a decent enough bloke on the radio. Found the album this comes from (Nice) in a charity shop and it's been well worth the 95p I paid for it.

9. ELO Part 2

I know, I know. It's hard enough getting people to admit to liking ELO. What chance have I with the Jeff Lynne-less Part II formed in the late 80s by original drummer Bev Bevan? They released two albums of new material in the 90s, following the ELO template of orchestrated Beatles shenanigans, but without Jeff's magic touch. Still, not bad if you like that kind of stuff.

8. Seahorses

Nobody got this one either... until I gave a partially accurate clue: "A forgotten Britpop band formed by half of a more famous group." C then did her research and came up with John Squire's short-lived Stone Roses replacement, a band that split up after one album in the late 90s due to "creative differences" and the fact that Squire thought their new material sounded "shit".

7. Something Happens - Hello Hello Hello Hello Hello (Petrol)

C suggested this first, even though she couldn't remember what it was called. Then she did remember, so two points for that. 1 point for everyone else who remembered it: bonus point to Jez for remembering that it had a bracketed Petrol on the end. This is from 1990, a pretty awful year for music so I'm not surprised it wasn't a hit. Surely poodle rock haircuts were out by then too? Couldn't lead singer Tom Dunne keep up with fashion and buy himself a pudding bowl?

The lyrics make this for me...
She wears diamonds, she wears rubies
She wears stones as big as my ones
That came from the coliseum
And she says "D'you wanna see them?"
She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge?

6. James

Millionaires is, to me at least, the great unsung James album. This is one of the tracks. It's rather lovely. Apparently it was also used in the soundtrack to a movie I've never seen called The Consequence of Love.

Jez was the first (and only!) person to suggest this. That gets him 2 points. It's not my Number 1 though, Jez.

5. Shakespear's Sister (Turn Your Radio On)

If you were in any doubt that I would choose this song, the brackets should have tipped you over the edge. 2 points to Rigid Digit for suggesting this first. 1 point to anybody else who suggested it.

4. My Pleasure

Here's the one I didn't think anyone would guess... and guess what? Nobody guessed it.

To be honest, I knew chuff-all about My Pleasure until I saw an advert on facebook suggesting I might like his music. I seem to remember there was an offer from his record company (Adult Teeth) to get a free EP, so I sent away for this... and then didn't listen to it all for a year. Until I came to compile this chart, in fact. When I did listen to it, I thought it was great. Lo-fi indie "weird pop" with shades of Jarvis, Half Man Half Biscuit, Denim et al. Worth your listening time if you're into any of those.

(Oh, but if you look back at the clue I gave for this one, you'll see that I couldn't have been more obvious if I'd tried!)

As obscure as this was, it wasn't quite as obscure as The Swede's suggestion of this Beatles "track". He gets one point for Most Obscure Suggestion of the Month.

3. Lionel Richie

Perhaps I should start a new series here called Defending The Indefensible, seeing as though so many of you expressed an aversion to this fine tune (even Alyson!). The Swede was first to hint at it, though he couldn't bring himself to speak its name so doesn't get any points. C named it but refused to make it an official suggestion, preferring to guess at Adele instead. Lynchie was the first one to suggest it seriously, even though he thought The Swede had beaten him to it. 2 points to Lynchie. 1 point to the rest of you, no points for the haters.

Anyway, the point is, I can see why this song causes so much upset. Of course I can. Big slushy 80s ballads are never going to be cool (unless you were a very uncool 12 year old in 1984). But I think this song deserves appreciation for being something else entirely. Indeed, if I wasn't featuring it here, I would have to squeeze it into Volume 2 of My Top Ten Stalker Songs, because it's creepy as hell... much more so than Every Breath You Take. Plus Lionel will always be cooler than Sting. (Cat: meet pigeons.) And don't even start me on the (yes, much-parodied) video in which Lionel proves, undisputedly that stalking DOES pay... but maybe only if you're stalking blind girls.

The proof of a good song though often comes in its re-interpretations. So if the big synthy strings and over-produced 80s echo of Lionel's original might stick in your throat, can I suggest versions by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes (pop punk), Richard Cheese (lounge), Paul Anka (swing*) or even Lionel himself, paired with Jennifer Nettles (country... or so it says on the label).

No?

Your loss.

(*Sez Jez: "from Anka’s 'Rock Swings', which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the phrase 'Rock'")

2. Prince

Here's a little clue to help you with future editions of The Glorious 10th. If Prince has a song with the word/s of the month, chances are it'll be near the top. Hello was the b-side to Pop Life, available on the peerless 3CD Prince: The Hits & B-Sides compilation, but also (as Jez points out) there's a somewhat different Hello backwards at the end of Side 1 of Purple Rain.

C was the first to guess this. 2 points. 1 to the rest of you: though many of you seemed to think it would be my Number 4, perhaps because those of you were only familiar with the backwards version thought I was being sneaky. Which I would have been...

1. The Beloved

I have something of a love-hate relationship with the whole baggy era (and indeed, I'm not even sure The Beloved fit into the baggy category, though they're from that era and the sound and look fit). There were undeniably some great songs recorded by those bands, but they were always a bit cool and laddy for me to cherish the way I would the Britpop bands a couple of years later. Of course, the worst excesses of Britpop were even laddier, but at least they weren't flirting with dance music and rave culture as much: both of which left me cold.

Hello is my favourite tune by The Beloved despite its Church of Rave qualities, because the lyrical choices are so gleefully uncool. It sounds like Paul McCartney's far-worthier Let 'Em In has been rewritten by a bunch of cheeky 6th Formers... which is exactly what I was in 1989. Where else will you find Willy Wonka, The Supremes, Cannon & Ball, Desmond Tutu, Mork & Mindy, Billy Corkhill, Salman Rushdie, Kym Mazelle, Zippy, Bungle and Jeffrey Archer all in the same song? (Plus Vince Hilaire, who Rigid Digit describes as "Crystal Place and Portsmouth midfield maestro", thereby answering a question I have pondered for 27 years.)

Congratulations (and 2 points) to CC for being the first to guess this one, and (5 points) to my old pal Dave for being the first to guess it would be Number One. Although Dave has an advantage in that we are the same age and we survived the 90's gigging scene together, plus he likes Zippy & Bungle. And probably even Jeffrey Archer. 1 point to everyone else who mentioned it.





OK, so time for the scores on the doors. (RIP, Bruce.) I've added these up as best I can, taking into account all the arcane rules I made up for such things. Apologies if I miscalculated your score, but I'm sure you'll live.

1 point - George (Although last month when I gave George 1 point, he protested that I shouldn't have.)

2 points - Alyson, The Swede, Martin (how the mighty have fallen) and Walter.

3 points - Lynchie, Deano & Rigid Digit.

4 points - Jez.

5 points - Dave and Charity Chic.

But this month's undisputed winner, with a majestic NINE points, has to be...


Well done, C. You win the glory of being a real winner. Enjoy your prize.



Now, I know what you're all waiting for. What you really came here for. Never mind the answers to last month's Glorious 10th... what about this month's?

Come on back tomorrow. I'm knackered now. I had to marshall a birthday party for 20 hyperactive 4 year-olds yesterday, you know!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Neverending Top Ten #1: Show Me The Wonder


Since he was born, I have done my best to introduce my son to as wide a range of music as possible. I've written here before about my Joy, Joy, Joy whenever he takes a particular liking to one of my selections... but I decided I'd like to expand on that. Keep a diary of his favourite songs as he discovers them. I'll probably witter on a bit about fatherhood in these posts too, and tell cute kid stories. It'll lighten the mood in between bouts of middle-aged angst.

As he grows older, I'm sure Sam will reject many of his father's favourites, but at least he'll have heard them. And maybe he'll introduce me to a few new discoveries of his own. As long as he doesn't get into dance music. That is surely any MOR dad's greatest fear.

This is a Neverending Top Ten because I never want Sam to stop falling in love with new musical discoveries. I know I never will.

As he is four years old today, I thought I'd start with this. Four years ago today, at a little after 8pm, my boy entered this world. They had the radio on in the delivery room. This was the first song he ever heard. It will always make me cry.

1. Manic Street Preachers - Show Me The Wonder
Show me the wonder
I have seen the purpose of our universe...


Thursday, 7 September 2017

My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs #3: Enjoy Every Sandwich



None of us can deny that we have a far greater life expectancy than our parents did. Even my own parents, both now in their late 80s, have lived far longer than any of their parents did. My last grandparent, my dad's mother, died when I was a teenager. She was in her mid 70s, which was a good age back then. Current life expectancy in the UK is 79.1 for men and 82.8 for women, so both my parents are bucking the odds, but then my dad's old mentor, the man who trained him to be a joiner back in the 50s, lived to be 101.

There's been a lot in the news lately about how the increase in life expectancy in this country has ground to a halt recently and that's been put down to everything from unhealthy lifestyles to austerity to Brexit. My other half works on the legal side of pensions and part of her work involves calculating life expectancy for employers so they know how much money they need in the pension scheme for their former employees. A lot of the pensions industry is in a bit of a mess because of some bad calculations and rubbish predictions 20 years or so ago about just how long we'd all live for after we give up work. Nobody wants to be one of those people who retires then drops dead the following week... but there are probably some companies out there who'd breathe more easily if we did.

Of course, life expectancy is a lottery, and all kinds of horrible things can happen to us on the road to our three score and umpteen. 14 years ago today, one of my favourite singer-songwriters died of cancer at the young age of 56. When asked by US chat-show host David Letterman if his illness had taught him anything about life and death, Warren Zevon famously replied...

"Enjoy every sandwich."






Wednesday, 6 September 2017

My Top Ten John Wayne Songs


I was never a John Wayne fan. I found him a pretty unpleasant character on screen... and I believe he was actually quite a bit worse off-screen.

My dad though... my dad loves John Wayne. If there's a John Wayne film on TV, he'll stop everything to watch it, even though he's seen it a hundred times before. Therefore, this Top Ten's for my dad...

The Quiet Man's a pretty good film though.


10. Haysi Fantayzee - John Wayne Is Big Leggy

Let's start with the obvious, which I always thought was just a silly, novelty pop song... until JC revealed it could well be "one of most subversive Top 40 hits of all time". Ughh. 

9. Nanci Griffith - Lone Star State Of Mind
I just saw John Wayne on the Late, Late Show
Save the girl and ride away
And I was hoping as the credits rolled
He'd make it back to her someday
Real tough guys never get the girl, Nanci.

8. Seals & Croft - John Wayne

Seals & Croft get macho...
Yes, I have a mind with a mind of its own, 
A soul like the soul of John Wayne.
Let's take a look at Seals & Croft to see if we think they might pull of that tough guy act...?


Hmm...

7. Paula Cole - Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Where is Paula's John Wayne?

6. Twin Atlantic - You're Turning Into John Wayne

 Scottish rock band gets upset that all their culture is imported from the States. Consider...
Every time there's a story,
I turn around, you're turning into John Wayne,
You're turning into John Wayne,
Now here's a grey Scottish theory,
Have you lost latitude and longitude?
Your latitude and longitude.
Now I know that I'm contradicting
Everything I own was made in the US of A,
Made in the USA
 
So when I breathe your air,
Do you believe you're changing the earth?
5. The Indelicates - Remember The Alamo!

Directed and produced by Wayne, many still believe this movie to be an accurate historical document, despite an iffypedia-quoted expert saying, "there is not a single scene in The Alamo which corresponds to a historically verifiable incident". Songwriters have been fascinated with this famous battle for years too: see The Ballad of Davy Crockett, The Ballad of the Alamo and even Remember The Alamo... which doesn't have quite the same message as the Indelicates song of the same name.

You may also wish to check out John Wayne Was A Nazi by MDC. Just saying.

4. John Martyn - John Wayne

John Martyn believed John Wayne to be a very scary man.
Don’t you dare look behind you
For you know I will be there
You’ll feel my breath on your neck
Turn, face me if you dare
I’ve come to measure you
I’ve come to fix you up
I’ve come to measure you
Fix you up.

I am John Wayne
I believe I’m John Wayne
You know, my name is John Wayne
Get on your horse!
3. Arctic Monkeys - Put Your Dukes Up, John

Maybe not directly about JW, but it's got a John and a Duke in the title, and it comes out fighting...

2. Little Green Cars - The John Wayne

John Wayne becomes the perfect metaphor for callous, hard-hearted rejection from this little-known Irish indie band...
You know your neglect
Is the reason that I'm so obsessed with you
And when I asked you your name, you said John Wayne
And I guess it's true
'Coz then you shot me down
Doubled over and I hit the ground right in front of you
I guess in the Wild West
It's OK to shoot the pest that's annoying you
1. Buddy Holly & The Crickets - That'll Be The Day

Perhaps not the most obvious Number One... until you realise that one of the biggest hits of the rock 'n' roll era is actually named after a line from The Searchers. 60 years later, this is still one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded.




Which one makes you want to get off your horse and drink your milk? (John never said that, apparently. It was Little & Large.)

Monday, 4 September 2017

My Top Ten Steely Dan Songs


RIP Walter Becker (right), one half of Steely Dan, pictured with the other half, Mr. Donald Fagen, above. Over the past five years or so, pretty much since I turned 40, Steely Dan have become one of my favourite bands. I long since resigned myself to never seeing them play live, but they are the only band I've ever paid money to watch a tribute act for (Nearly Dan: brilliant). To put that into perspective, I never got to see The Smiths live either... but I've never had a hankering to see a Morrissey & Marr tribute act.

Ten plus years ago, a former colleague of mine tried to persuade me of the greatness of Steely Dan, but I think I was just too young. He was a huge Springsteen fan and liked a lot of the bands I liked at the time (then again, he was also a huge Rod Stewart fan) and couldn't understand why I didn't dig the Dan. I didn't hate them. The tracks I knew - FM, Rikki, Reeling In The Years - I thought were perfectly good pop songs. But the albums... I just didn't have the time.

A few years later, I gave them another go, starting with Can't Buy A Thrill: surely one of the greatest debut albums ever recorded. Since then, rarely a week has gone by without Steely Dan cropping up on my headphones at least once.

I firmly believe Steely Dan are a band you have to grow into. Maybe in the 70s, a bunch of teenagers were really into them... but even then, I doubt it. I reckon their prime audience has always been made up of beardy middle-aged musos... and I'm now severely guilty on two of those scores. Never fancied a beard.

Steely Dan were witty, mysterious, a little bit mental, jazzy in all the wrong ways... they're the least rock 'n' roll band you'll ever hear, which you could argue makes them the most rock 'n' roll bad you'll ever hear. Since such definitions really mean nothing. Donald Fagen understood that, and so does Walter Becker. But man, they could play.

They were also an albums band - never a singles band. And with the deepest respect to Led Zeppelin and Yes, they must be the greatest albums band ever. Which makes picking a Top Ten Steely Dan tracks impossible... and pointless. The songs below are all brilliant, but they're so much better when you hear them in their original context, in the albums that made them brilliant. And each of those albums contains eight or nine other brilliant tracks as well.

For Walter Becker then, ten of my favourite Steely Dan tracks. Not numbered, because I find them impossible to rank...











Dirty Work

Friday, 1 September 2017

My Top Ten Postcode Songs


OK, so I know L7 weren't named after a Liverpool postcode... but my cred is already in tatters, I'm not about to open a post with a picture of East 17.

Anyway, songs named after (British) postcodes. A challenge I just couldn't resist. I couldn't think of any named after American postcodes... or zip codes... though I'm happy for you to suggest them. The closest I came was Kitchen by The Lemonheads, because they were "thrilled to be in the same postcode as you".

Here's ten songs that even Postman Pat should be able to deliver to the right address...



10. Jonny Rubbish - Living In NW3 4JR

"A parody of the Sex Pistols." Which is all very good, but if ever there was a band that were perfectly capable of being a parody of themselves without any help from anyone else, it was the Sex Pistols.

Still, amusing for one or two listens.


9. Madness - NW5

Madness doing wot they do best. Singing abaht Lahndahn staff.
Yes I watched you climb up
I seen you come alive
From those very humble beginnings
In NW5

8. Saint Etienne - B92

No idea why Sarah and the boys think hate and fear is taking over Solihull, but why else would this tune be called B92?


And if it's not a postcode, then I respectfully submit this alternative: The Birdman of EC1.

7. Ian Brown - Longsight M13

Inner city Manchester... although the person who uploaded the song to youtube filled the video with pictures of the South Bank. You can imagine the comments!

Lets the stars shine on
Until the break of dawn
Let the stars shine on
And let her move, move like a queen
Of Longsight M13
I was disappointed to learn that M5 by The Fall is about the motorway, not Salford.

6. Splodgenessabounds - I Fell In Love With A Female Plumber From Harlesden, NW10

He can't wait to see her again. At which point, he will probably buy her Two Pints of Lager & A Packet of Crisps.


5. Ride - OX4

Ride never went too far away from Oxford without getting homesick


4. Ray Davies - Yours Truly, Confused N10

Ray writes a letter to the editor from his home in Muswell Hill, complaining about the state of Britain today... a recurring theme from the infamous Little Englander.
I close my eyes and lay back and I think of England
I dream about that green and pleasant land we knew as England
That throne of kings, that sceptred isle set in a silver sea
Has turned into a laughing stock divided without harmony
That's why I remain yours truly, confused N10


3. Skint & Demoralised - LS11 OES

I've never been a football fan, but I'm a huge fan of Matt 'Skint & Demoralised' Abbott, and although I've no interest in Leeds United (despite them being a local team to me and the team my dad followed when he was younger) I can hear Abbott's passion in every word of this chant.

2. The Pogues - NW3

I'd love to think this track was an autobiographical account of Shane's arrival in Hampstead...
When I got down to the smoke
It was 1963
I got a job doing meals on wheels
Round NW3
I was terrorising grannies
For ten lousy bob a week
I was smashed and blacked
And drunk and yawning in NW3
...except that he would have been 6 at the time. Still, this is Shane MacGowan we're talking about, so anything's possible.


I stayed in Hampstead once. Walking down the street, I saw the "comedian" Michael McIntyre talking very loudly into his phone. I'm not a violent man, but I had to be physically restrained from punching him hard in the nose.

1. New Model Army - BD3

The track that inspired this particular Top 10, so I thought it deserved to be Number One. Despite working in Bradford for 20+ years of my life, I never really listened to one of the city's biggest bands while I was there (I was always more of a Terrorvision man) but I stumbled across this pretty recently and couldn't stop listening to it. Further investigation required...
We close early when the nights are slow
Hit the Shell garage, Thornton Road
Take a long drive up on the moors
Park up in a place we know
In the back seats getting stoned
To forget everything at home
Mess about with the bleeping phone
Gazing down on the city below
Where no one's really sure if this is home


And it's not where you're from or where you've been
It's not a matter of blood or of family tree
Everybody believes what they want to believe
But they come from some kind of refugee
Running from something, turned out of somewhere
All looking for somewhere, exiled from something
And no one's really sure if this is home
Very appropriate lyrics for anyone living in Bradford. Unfortunately, when I google search Pudsey (BD3), all I get is hundred of pictures of the Children In Need bear. The video below is probably more accurate...



Know any other songs named after postcodes? Send your answers on a postcard.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #17: The Day I Didn't Meet All Saints



The worst job I ever had in radio was S&P. Sponsorship & Promotions. This was as close to working in sales as I ever got and it was way too close. But it was just after I'd completed my university degree so I was looking for more of a full time position than the night job I'd been doing while I was a student. (Yes, we've jumped ahead in time some. Why will soon become apparent.)

Sponsorship & Promotions, as the name suggests, involves selling clients name-checks and sponsorships around programmes and features on the station. So when you hear "The Breakfast Show - in association with Barney's Bacon Barms" or "Traffic & Travel with Terry's Tyres", it'll be S&P that conned some gullible local business into handcuffing their reputation to on air tat. But the S&P department doesn't just do this. They also create events and promotions that clients can get involved with such as competitions, roadshows and parties in the park.

It was this latter which I'd been given the job of organising in a kind of event-manager sort of way (even though I had no experience in event management and didn't want to do it) by a boss who didn't trust me at all. To the extent that she opened my personal mail in case I was abusing company privileges to blag freebies from clients. I wasn't: I was just getting my monthly comics delivery sent to work as there was no one at home to receive parcels. When I came in to work one day to find my comics spread out all over her desk, I was rather surprised, to say the least. I then had to prove that these were something I had bought and paid for myself. Nothing like a boss who trusts you.

Anyway: I'd been given the job of event managing the station's first Party In The Park, although to be fair, not a lot of event management was required since we were merely piggy-backing a council event that had already run successfully for a number of years. The council show involved heritage acts (you know: The Tremeloes, Showaddywaddy and other bands that had been at it for years with nary an original member in sight). We were taking the following day (using the same stage and equipment) to showcase some contemporary chart acts. The problem was that back in the day record companies were reluctant to let anyone who'd even have a whiff of chart success anywhere near a provincial radio station, so all we had to fill the bill were a bunch of hopefuls and wannabes. The kind of acts record companies would happily send to the farthest corners of the planet to open a milk carton in the hope it would increase their exposure... or just to get them out of the office. In return for giving a stage to this bunch of no-marks and ne'er-do-wells, one record company had taken pity on us and offered us their Next Big Thing as headliners. A band called All Saints who were destined to hit the charts with their debut single any day now. This meant very little to me at the time as I was in full-on Britpop mode so if it didn't have loud guitars and angry/earnest/world-weary young men... or Louise Wener... I wasn't really interested.

To be honest, I was dreading this event. I knew my boss would take a back seat and leave the heavy lifting to me, and that she'd only show up to accept the accolades if it went well... or to dole out the recriminations if it didn't. I really didn't have a clue what I was doing and I'd been getting by on bluff and luck in that job thus far. But this was going to be my big test, and a feeling in my water told me I was destined to fail. If I did, my career in S&P would be over. Not that this would be the end of the world, I still spent half my working day in programming, but the new boss there wasn't exactly my biggest fan either. We'll get back to him.

The night before Party In The Park, I went to bed early. But I did not sleep. How could I? This was going to be awful. Truly awful. Midnight. It hadn't been planned very well. 2 a.m. I had no idea what I was doing. 3 a.m. The whole thing was destined to be an unmitigated disaster. 4 a.m. I wasn't an event manager! I was just a twenty-something loser who answered the phones, made coffee, worked in the record library and did a bit of co-presenting! 5 a.m. Thousands of people were going to be gathering in front of a stage later on that afternoon in expectation of a big show and when it stank to high heaven, it would all be my faul...

I finally fell asleep a little before 6 a.m. The alarm was set for seven. At roughly twenty past six, I was awoken by the phone. 

"Rol?"

It was my boss.

"We need you to come in to work. After what's happened, we're going to have to cancel the party in the park."

What? Cancel the... What had I done? What hadn't I done? Oh my god. This was worse than I'd ever expected. I couldn't get my head round it. The sheer weight of my own ineptitude drove me back down into the bed.

"What... what happened?"

"What happened? What happened? Haven't you heard the news? Princess Diana is dead!"

All Saints entered the UK singles chart for the very first time later that afternoon.

I never got to meet them. But, on the plus side, at least I didn't have to deal with my own personal disaster. Every cloud...


17. Jesse Malin featuring Bruce Springsteen - Broken Radio

As Elton John proved with his godawful remake of Candle In The Wind, you can twist the lyrics of just about any song to reflect a big event or tragedy. There are some lines in this week's radio song I could contrive to link to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but I'm not that crass. I'm not a royalist, I never gave much of a toss about Diana, Charles, the Queen Mum or any of them. It would be hypocritical of me to say I did... and frankly, the international outpouring of grief that followed her death made me ill. Bowie, Prince, Elvis: I understand the grief. They gave something of value to our lives. You'll have a hard time convincing me the royals ever did anything comparable.

However. A lady died in a car crash, and that's always tragic, especially when she's the mother of two young children. That's just awful, whoever you are. Rest in peace, Diana, I bear you no ill will. You may have lived your life like a candle in the wind, but you were no Norma Jean.

This is a sad song, but a very beautiful one too.





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