Monday, 18 June 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #28 - This Is All I Ask

Not a Grumpy Old Man song, but one about growing older that - well, if it doesn't break your heart, then there's a rock in its place. I was reminded of this song by God himself - the great Jimmy Webb, recently interviewed on t'wireless by Johnnie Walker, who quoted these lyrics when asked how it feels to have turned 70.

This Is All I Ask was written by Gordon Jenkins, a composer and arranger who worked with Sinatra and Nat King Cole back in the glory days. I've not heard any of the other versions, but it always takes some to beat Harry Nilsson in my mind...

As I approach the prime of my life
I find I have the time of my life
Learning to enjoy at my leisure
All the simple pleasures
And so I happily concede
That this is all I ask
This is all I need

Beautiful girls, walk a little slower when you walk by me
Lingering sunsets, stay a little longer with the lonely sea
Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me
Take me to that strange, enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand

Wandering rainbows, leave a bit of colour for my heart to own
Stars in the sky, make my wish come true before the night has flown
And let the music play as long as there's a song to sing
And I will stay younger than Spring

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Saturday Snapshots #37 - The Answers

Always a good idea to take the lens cap off before you take a picture, Eric.

What a Strange Brew there was in this week's pile of Snapshots. Well done for guessing them - you all did Wonderful Tonight (well, yesterday morning). By my reckoning, it was a dead heat between Lynchie and Alyson this week, with 3 points each... though I'm tempted to award the tie-breaker to Lynchie for his amazing claim to fame at being the first journalist to ever write about The Sutherland Brothers & Quiver. (And that is why you ought to have your own blog, Lynchie.)

10. Rabbits in discount top hats for lil' Jeff and Bev.

Pulling a rabbit from a discount top hat would be a Cheap Trick.

Jeff Lynne & Bev Bevan were founding members of ELO.

Cheap Trick - ELO Kiddies

9. Aston Mastermind in a muddle over cold-blooded murder.

"Aston Mastermind" is an anagram of Stina Nordenstam. Yes, Martin, I've started doing anagrams now... but only when I can't think of any other clue!

Stina Nordenstam - Winter Killing

8. Kiefer, Angus and Rossif come over all wobbly when hugged by a Scottish queen.

Angus and Rossif are the brothers of Kiefer Sutherland.

If you come over all wobbly, you might quiver.

Mary Queen of Scots.

Sutherland Brothers & Quiver - Arms of Mary

7. It's going to be a fine day - not that the cantaloupes will see it.

A fine day will have no rain.

A non-seeing cantaloupe would be a Blind Melon.

Blind Melon - No Rain

6. A quiet explosion at the hairdressers.

A quiet explosion would go Shhh-boom!

The Crew Cuts - Sh-boom

5. Jacques gets wet at the end of summer.

Jacques Cousteau told many underwater adventures.

Cousteau - The Last Good Day of the Year

4. What a dunce cap has, in the castle of a conqueror, smashing an organ.

A dunce cap has a D on.

William the Conqueror built Warwick Castle (well, he told other people to build it).

Smashing an organ would make you a heartbreaker.

Dionne Warwick - Heartbreaker

3. An Idle God can't find his sunken ship - and he's looked literally EVERYWHERE.

Eric Clapton is known as "God" (only he knows why). He still can't remember to take his lens cap off before he takes a photo.

Eric Idle is just a very naughty boy... but if he'd lost his sunken ship, he would be wreck-less.

Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World

2. Threes. A Carol for Carol?

Three is a magic number.

A carol is a hymn.

The Magic Numbers - Hymn For Her

1. Join the line to the backwards toilet, shouting for a raincoat.

A backwards toilet (WC) would be a CW.

If you were shouting for a raincoat, you might be giving your mac a call.

A line of vehicles is called a... go on, you can do the rest.

I Feel Free to do this all again next Saturday, if you'll join me...

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Saturday Snapshots #37

Forget Saturday Night Fever - we're Staying Alive on Saturday morning through our love of Saturday Snapshots.

Identify ten artists and ten top songs from the clues below...

Will You Win Again?

10. Rabbits in discount top hats for lil' Jeff and Bev.

9. Aston Mastermind in a muddle over cold-blooded murder.

8. Kiefer, Angus and Rossif come over all wobbly when hugged by a Scottish queen.

7. It's going to be a fine day - not that the cantaloupes will see it.

6. A quiet explosion at the hairdressers.

5. Jacques gets wet at the end of summer.

4. What a dunce cap has, in the castle of a conqueror, smashing an organ.

3. An Idle God can't find his sunken ship - and he's looked literally EVERYWHERE.

2. Threes. A Carol for Carol?

1. Join the line to the backwards toilet, shouting for a raincoat.

Go on - have a go. It'd be a Tragedy if you didn't.

Answers tomorrow.

Friday, 15 June 2018

2018 Contenders: The New Rock Royalty

On his third solo album, Jack White steps out of the safe, traditionalist confines of his previous records (all recorded analogue with antique guitars on wax cylinder) to embrace the modern age. He also makes a bid for rock royalty by channelling both Prince and Queen in places. It's his most bonkers record yet, but largely it works.

The album starts out with a pretty typical fuzz-guitar work out, Connected By Love, probably the most Jack White song on here. The first taste of Prince (via James Brown) appears on track 3, Corporation - seriously, close your eyes and you'll see purple. He's even got the Alphabet Street scream in there. And there's more of that to come on Ice Station Zebra.

Recent single Over and Over and Over is the closest we get to the big riffmaster of old, coupled with some multi-tracked vocals Freddie and Bryan would be reasonably happy with.

The lyrics, as usual, are nonsense. JW's never been a great lyricist, but he's OK when he embraces his mad side. Why Walk A Dog? seems to be a plea for us all to free our pet pooches. Abulia & Akrasia embraces his long-held desire to be Johnny Depp. On Get In The Mindshaft, White reveals how he learned to play piano in an old abandoned house. Yes, it's basically Sparky's Magic Piano. Final track Humoresque was written by Al Capone. No, really.

And then, on tracks like Hypermisophoniac and Everything You've Ever Learned, things go really crazy. Radiohead meets Primal Scream meets Prince (again) meets experimental jazz meets the noise you hear coming from a lunatic asylum at three o'clock in the morning.

It shouldn't work. It should be an unlistenable mess. Indeed, some reviewers have taken to dubbing it White's grand folly. But for me, it does. It takes a bit of getting into, obviously, but once you do, there's much to enjoy. If you dig bonkers.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

My Top Ten Dinosaur Songs (Volume One)

As there's a new Jurassic Park World movie out this week, it seems an appropriate time to dust off a Top Ten that's been sitting in the cupboard for a while now.

This is part one though... next week, I'll do tens songs about specific dinosaurs (or at least ones that mention specific dinosaurs). I have a fair few pterodactyls, brontosauruses and (obviously) T-Rex, but your suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, special mention must obviously go to... Dinosaur Jr, The Last Dinosaurs, Brontosaurus Chorus, Jurassic Five and... Marc Bolan.

10. We Are Scientists - Dinosaurs

They are scientists, so obviously they understand natural selection.

9. King Crimson - Dinosaur

Because if I didn't include this, somebody would be complaining.

I'm a dinosaur, somebody's digging my bones

8. The Stills - Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs as a metaphor for the end of a relationship, presumably.

7.  Hank Williams Jr. - Dinosaur

He is a dinosaur - and proud of it!

6. Low - Dinosaur Act

God bless the Mormons. At least they're not Creationists.

See also Matthew Sweet - Dinosaur Act - not the same song.

5. Emmy The Great - Dinosaur Sex

Speaking of evolutionary theory...

And dinosaur sex led to nothing
And maybe we will lead to nothing
And dinosaur sex led to nothing
But we will lead as far as we can lead

4. King Missile - Dinosaurs

I wanna know
About the dinosaurs
I don't know about the dinosaurs
I wanna know about the dinosaurs

Make up your mind, guys.

Beyond that indecision, this is proper mental. Hence: very good.

3. Weird Al Yankovich - Jurassic Park

Want another reason to love Jimmy Webb? He had final approval on this glorious MacArthur Park parody... and he thought it was hilarious.

Someone let T-Rex out of his pen...

2. Johnny Cash - Dinosaur Song

The wonder of Johnny Cash - he could even make kids' songs sound cool.

One was called Diplodocus
One was bigger than your school bus
One was called a Triceratops
Three horns to stop anything that hops

See also Dinosaur Pet by Neil Sedaka, sung to the tune of Calendar Girl. Obviously.

1. Was (Not Was) - Walk The Dinosaur

Well, it had to be really, didn't it?

Boom boom, acka-lacka-lacka boom!

Any more dinosaurs in your collection? (And no, I don't count Bob Dylan.) Specific dinosaurs would be welcome for next week.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Songs I Hated When I Was A Kid #8: Don't Tell Me To Relax!

When I originally started this series, many moons ago, I promised ten songs I hated when I was a kid but don't mind as much now. This is excellent news because it means I only need to think of two more.

8. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax!

What did I object to the most about Relax! when it dominated the UK singles chart in 1984?

Was it Paul Morley's contrived, controversy-baiting PR campaign?

Was it the fact that the BBC (spearheaded by moral bastion* Mike 'tennis racket' Read) chose to ban it, thereby making the song far more desirable to teenagers everywhere?

Was it the fact that the band continually denied - against all evidence - that the lyrics were explicitly sexual and instead claimed it was "motivational"?

I suppose the answer is all of the above... and yet, none of them.

I was 11 in January of '84, when this record was at Number One. And the think that irked me the most was the among my peers, loads of other 11 and 12 year olds were walking around wearing Relax! T-shirts and shouting "When you want to COME!" even though they really didn't have a clue what they were on about. Arguably nowadays your average 11 or 12 year old would have more of an idea - sadly - but we were (mostly) blissfully ignorant / innocent back then. We just knew it was a bit mucky, and that made it cool.

Why did I hate Relax!? For the same reason I hated Baggy Trousers a couple of years earlier... because everyone else my age loved it. That was really all the reason I needed.

Nowadays, I hear Relax! in a totally different way. It's a Trevor Horn masterpiece really, as perfect in its own way as Video Killed The Radio Star or Owner of a Lonely Heart. The fact that Holly Johnson is the only member of FGTH to actually appear on the final track (apart from the sound effect of the rest of the band jumping into a swimming pool) only seals that.
Frankie enjoyed a couple more moments of pop genius (both much better than Relax!) before imploding in the glorious way all over-hyped bands do. The BBC relinquished its ban on the song and everyone forget it was mucky. George Michael did the whole thing again with a lot more class a few years later. Then Ross from Friends wore a Relax! T-shirt and killed its cool credentials forever. Paul Morley is still an arse.

*I think that's how you spell it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Hot 100 Countdown #80

French indie dream-pop band Tahiti 80 give us our image this week... but which 80 song will be the winner?

Lots of you thought I might have to go down the 1980 or eighties route, but I managed to get away with avoiding the year (or the decade!) again this week. Still, good suggestions from...

Alyson: The Belle Stars - 80s Romance

Rigid Digit: Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Lies (Through The 80s) / Tori Amos - Glory Of The 80s

Jim Dubai: The Strokes - 80s Comedown Machine / Calvin Harris - Acceptable in the 80s (liked that more than I expected from a Calvin Harris track!) / The Vox - Bored Of The 80s (couldn't find that one, I'm afraid) / Milky Wimpshake - Blow out at 80 MPH (could only find a dodgy live version but how could you not like a band called Milky Wimpshake?)

The Swede: Dream Syndicate - 80 West (great guitar sound on that one) / Otway & Barrett - DK 50/80 (Mental! But I like mental.)

C: Killing Joke - Eighties (the first one so far this week that I actually own... hence a contender, if I'd been forced to use a year / decade song).

Lynchie: K.T. Oslin - 80s Ladies (always got time for a bit of country... I'm surprised nobody suggested George Strait - 80 Proof Bottle of Beer Stopper).

However, I'm going to ignore all of those, I'm afraid... because I have to go classic this week.

The song Around The World was written for the 1956 movie Around The World In 80 Days and recorded by lots of the usual suspects, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. The track was also recorded by Diana Ross & The Supremes (under the film's full title of Around The World In 80 Days) in 1965 for an album that wasn't actually released until 2004.Anyway, here it is... I can't ever resist the Supremes...

So... 79 next week - what can you offer me?

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