Sunday 30 September 2012

My Top Ten 'How To...' Songs

Pop bands, eh? They're an endless source of wisdom for those of us struggling to negotiate the perilous rapids of L-I-F-E. If they weren't writing hit (and non-hit) songs, they'd be writing self-help books. Here's a sampling of the 'How To...' advice I've received throughout my listening years...

10. Everclear - How To Win Friends & Influence People

I love Everclear, but really...
It's a beautiful day, yeah
If you look up in the air, you can see the sky
It's a beautiful day, yeah
If you stare at the sun, you would burn your eyes
 It's hardly Dale Carnegie, is it?

9. The Fray - How To Save A Life

One of those big, earnest piano-rock ballads that could be Coldplay... but isn't, so we can just about cope with it. Can't we?

8. Future Bible Heroes - How To Get Laid In Japanese 

Good old Stephin Merrit, translating his chat-up best lines into Japanese so we don't have to. Not that I'd pay him much attention: his success rate can't be that good, based on this song from his other band, The Magnetic Fields.

7. ABC - How To Be A Millionaire

Of all the advice offered in this list, this could definitely be the most important. Unfortunately, Martin Fry has little in the way of answers.

6. Luke Haines - How To Hate The Working Classes
Dressed like that you're gonna get roughed up
You're like a benefit scrounger in a fun pub
I'll meet you on the corner of Amherst Road
Let's start a party of our own
 Don't worry, Luke hates the middle and upper classes just as much.

5. Band of Horses - How To Live

From their brand new album, Mirage Rock, the Horsemen show us how to write another beautiful slab of harmonic Americana. And they make it look so easy.

4. The Pernice Brothers - How To Live Alone

Surviving isn't enough for Joe Pernice. This longtime Smiths fan is struggling to find a way to get through all on his own-some.
Keep a foot out of the blacker end
Keep away the crush of years
But we prayed too hard and everything was ordinary
A life without the bitterness of years
3. The Melting Ice-Caps - How To Appear Well-Adjusted
Have a shower every day of the week
and look as if you mean it.
Gentlemen should keep their stubble short
and so should ladies.

Take the papers given out in the street;
sit yourself on the bus.
Turn the pages like the words hold any meaning.

Smile and say hello to all your colleagues,
sometimes stop to talk.
Steer the conversation clear of dangerous topics.
Count to ten before you send that email
or post an angry blog,
and if it’s already gone, be prepared to grovel.

That’s how to seem as if you’re a normal person,
how to look all right,
how to seem convincing and well-adjusted.
We are the experts, so we ought to know.
2. Radiohead - How To Disappear Completely

Something we all must feel like doing every now and then, Thom Yorke more than most. 

1. Elvis Costello - How To Be Dumb

The album Mighty Like A Rose contains some of my favourite Costello lyrics. The only advice he has to offer in this song though is How To Be A Misanthrope. And who needs any help with that?

Now you're masquerading as pale powdered genius
Whose ever bad intention has been purged
You could've walked out any time you wanted but 

Face it, you didn't have the courage
I guess that makes you a full time hypocrite 

Or some kind of twisted dilettante
Funny though, people don't usually get so ugly 

Till they think they know what they want
Scratch your own head stupid
Count up to three
Roll over on your back
Repeat after me

Don't you know how to be dumb?

Are you ready to take your place in the modern museum of mistakes?
Don't you know how to be dumb?
Like a building thrown up overnight in one of those reverse earthquakes.

My advice to you: leave a comment now.

Thursday 27 September 2012

My Top Ten Queen Singles

Queen were the first band I ever truly loved. The idea of choosing only ten of their songs was just too daunting. So here's my Top Ten of the stuff everybody knows. Give me a break - I still had FORTY songs to choose from. One day I'll bore you with my Top Ten Queen Album Tracks. Until then...

10. Headlong

The last great Queen single, by which time Freddie was a shadow of his former self. Not that you'd know it, listening to this.

9. Hammer To Fall

Not the obvious choice from The Works album, but although Radio Gaga soundtracked my adolescence ("I'd sit alone and watch your light, my only friend through teenage nights") and I Want To Break Free features the wonderful video that ended the band's American career, there's something special about Hammer To Fall. Might be the guitar hero power chords - Brian May did invent the air guitar, after all.

8. Spread Your Wings

I'll be honest, I didn't even know this had been released as a single. It only ever reached number 34 in the charts, but it's always been a favourite.

7. Tie Your Mother Down
Tie your mother down
Tie your mother down
Take your little brother swimmin'
With a brick that's all right
6. Breakthru

Late 80s Queen is often dismissed by purists... but then, Queen are often dismissed by musos in general. What do musos know? I was 17 when this song came out and I sank my heart into it, convinced it was the anthem that would change things between me and whichever lacklustre young lass was ignoring my feeble attentions that week.

Still - Queen perform atop a high speed locomotive in the video. What else do you need?

5. Killer Queen

I keep meaning to write an in-joke into one of my comics in which a certain character keeps her Moët & Chandon in a pretty cabinet. Nobody would get the joke, but it'd make me smile every time I looked at it.

4. You're My Best Friend

If I'm in the right frame of mind, this song makes me weep. I know, I'm weird.

3. Seven Seas Of Rhye

Nobody did utter nonsense quite like Freddie & the gang. This, their first ever hit, ends on a slice of music hall frippery that never fails to remind me of the opening to The Queen Is Dead. Coincidence?

Meanwhile, just listen to that piano!

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

You may have expected to find this at number one. Or you might have predicted I'd be controversial and drop it from the list entirely. It's impossible to ignore though, and there was a time in my life when I considered it the greatest song ever written. Me, Wayne, and Garth... party on - excellent! 

1. Somebody To Love

Before I discovered The Smiths, this song was my How Soon Is Now.

Each morning I get up I die a little...

Any other Queen fans out there? Outraged that I didn't have room for A Kind Of Magic, Flash, or Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I feel your pain... but there can be only ten.

Monday 24 September 2012

My Top Ten Berry Songs

Fruity berries... because it's harvest time. The internet informs me that strawberries aren't actually berries... but bananas are. I don't believe everything I read on the internet, but for the sake of argument - to make this list, all songs must have the word "berry" in the TITLE. That's the rules for today.

Special mentions go to Strawberry Switchblade, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Strawberry Whiplash, Strawberry Story, The Cranberries, and, of course, Chuck. But not Nick. Never Nick. (That said, isn't it about time some tosspot from the X-Factor did a really bad cover of Every Loser Wins, just to get us all nostalgic for the original?)

10. The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever

I think I'm almost through my Hating The Beatles phase. I'm starting to appreciate them again.

That said, depending on your age and whether or not you're still sorted for Es and Wizz, you may prefer the Candy Flip version.

Me, I'd rather have the Hayseed Dixie version. That's some damned fast finger-pickin'!

9. Everclear - Strawberry

The one you've probably never heard of, and reckon shouldn't even be here. Luckily, it's my blog - and I like Everclear!

8. Ron Sexsmith - Strawberry Blonde

Had a hard day at work? Turn the lights down, put this on and...chill.

7. Super Furry Animals - Cloudberries

A song about hummingbirds. I think.

6. The Dentists - Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden (And It's Wintertime)

Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1985.

5. Ocean Colour Scene - Huckleberry Grove

One of their best songs, and it was only ever a b-side. 

4. The Move - Blackberry Way

The dark night of the summer of love.

3.  Prefab Sprout - Blueberry Pies

We're getting a lot of Prefab Sprout on this blog. There's a very good reason for that: Paddy McAloon is FANTASTIC.

Plus, blueberries are my favourite fruit.Which brings us to...

2. Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill

Where else can you find your thrill?

1. Prince - Raspberry Beret

Untouchable... but don't blame me if the video below doesn't work by the time you hit play. His highness does hate youtube. UPDATE... oops, spoke too soon - he's removed it. Good old Prince. Here's the Hindu Love Gods version instead...


Gilbert O'Sullivan's greatest hits album is called 'The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan'. (I really need to find a way to shoehorn some Gilbert O'Sullivan into one of these Top Tens.) So, with that in mind, which is your Berry Vest Serry Bong?

Thursday 20 September 2012

My Top Ten Cocktail Songs

Fancy a drink?

Even when I was a drinking man, I was never really a cocktail fan. That Tom Cruise film was enough to put me off for life.

Special mention, of course, goes to Bucks Fizz, one of the first pop bands ever to catch my eye. Obviously the bit when the skirts came off did it for me. I was at a very impressionable age.

10. Frightened Rabbit - (Old) Old Fashioned

No Sex On The Beach or Screaming Orgasms for these guys.

9. Drugstore featuring Thom Yorke - El Presidente

Drugstore do their best to cheer Thom Yorke up with a few cocktails. It doesn't work. He still goes off and kills the president.

8. The Bluetones - Mudslide

Featuring Matt Lucas and David Walliams in the video. Presumably they were paid in vodka, Kahlua and Baileys.

7. Feist - Brandy Alexander

He's my Brandy Alexander
Always gets me into trouble
But that's another matter
Brandy Alexander

If you need further clarification of what this song's about...

Brandy Alexander
Goes down easy

6. Alannah Myles - Black Velvet

Was she most famous for this song.... or those leather chaps?

5. PJ Harvey - Kamikaze

PJ Harvey... Wallbanger?

4. The Crimea - White Russian Galaxy

The Dude's favourite beverage.

3. Jimmy Buffet - Margaritaville

Or, if you prefer, Marguerita Time by THE QUO.

One of them is spelling it wrong.

2. The Eagles - Tequila Sunrise

Perfect for a hot sunny afternoon... if you can remember what those are.

1. Rupert Holmes - Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

Come on... it had to be! I mean, if you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain... if you're not into health food... if you have half a brain...

Not sure about the making love at midnight bit. I'm usually asleep by then. Obviously getting old.

If music be the drink of love... which tuneful tipple take your fancy?

Tuesday 18 September 2012

My Top Ten Kitchen Songs

Because we've recently had a new kitchen fitted... all designed, planned and sorted by Louise. My contribution is pretty much this blog post.

10. Martika - Martika's Kitchen

I'd forgotten all about this. It was written by Prince, hence: it's probably a thinly veiled metaphor for sexy time.

9. Field Music - In The Kitchen

No idea what this one's about though.

8. Little Jackie - The Kitchen

You can't go wrong if you're rhyming 'kitchen' with 'bitchin'.

7. The Young Knives - Kitchener

The Young Knives Need YOU!

6. UB40 - Rat In Mi Kitchen

What are you gonna do?

5. Prefab Sprout - Venus of the Soup Kitchen

When you're scared of down and out
You keep it to yourself and if anyone suspects
You say: "Who me ? Hardly!"
You tell him "Thank your stars, this isn't Derby day
'Cos it's clear you've got the gift for backing the wrong horse, Charlie."

The lyrics in this song are truly beautiful, yet most of it's the way Paddy sings them. Wonderful phrasing, worthy of Sinatra the way he takes the vocal melody in such surprising directions.

4. Old Crow Medicine Show - Mary's Kitchen

Come on in to Mary's kitchen...
...if you want your sausage ground

3. Jona Lewie - You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties

Spoiled somewhat since it was adopted by Ikea, but nevertheless, this is still the best Jona Lewie song not about Winston Churchill and Christmas. Great bored-out-of-their-heads backing singers in the video too.

2. Band of Horses - Evening Kitchen

Simply gorgeous.

1. The Lemonheads - Kitchen

Thrilled to be in the same postcode as you...

It's A Shame About Ray is 20 years old this year. How can that be possible?

Those are the songs playing in our new kitchen. Which one gets you dancing round the Smeg? (No, we didn't buy a Smeg. What do you think we are, made of money?)

Sunday 16 September 2012

My Top Ten 'Getting Better' Songs

Because every day, in every way, we're all trying to get better...

10. The Turtles - Can I Get To Know You Better?

Or "the Toitles" as they're introduced here.

9. Booth & The Bad Angel - Life Gets Better

That's Tim Booth and Angelo Badalamenti, from their odd, creepy 1996 collaboration album.

8. Fun. - It Gets Better

Not as good as many of the other tracks on their debut album (eg. Some Nights, We Are Young etc.), but still better than most other bands troubling the singles chart this year.

7. The Beatles - Getting Better

Too obvious to ignore. But the Wedding Present cover is far more to my liking these days. And the Ultrasound cover's a belter too.

6. Prefab Sprout - When You Get To Know Me Better
If ever you wonder why I write this blog, it's because it makes me dig through my record collection and rediscover lost gems such as this one...

I can tell you'd like to love me,
But you haven't known me long
And you don't yet know the ways I'll find
To hurt and do you wrong
I'm a man with one small weakness,
Any woman in a dress
When you get to know me better
You'll learn to love me less

5. Mull Historical Society - You Can Get Better

Good to see Colin MacIntyre back in action with the first MHS album in eight years.

Check out lead single The Lights and recent follow-up Must You Get Low to hear more.

4. D:Ream - Things Can Only Get Better

You may be surprised to find this get such a high place on my chart. But as disposable 90s pop goes, this is way better than 95% of its rivals. Plus: Professor Brian Cox on keyboards! What else do you need?

3. Shed Seven - Getting Better

Much better than Oasis.

2. Mama Cass - It's Getting Better

Timeless. As is the Kevin Rowland version. Sadly, I can't find that online.

1. Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip - Get Better

Should you have access to a teenager, I suggest locking them in a room with this song until they're at least 21.

Those were mine... can you get better?

Thursday 13 September 2012

My Top Ten Songs Named After Hitchcock Movies

After last week's Top Ten Psycho Songs, I was inspired to compile a list of songs that share a name with other famous Hitchcock movies...

10. Duran Duran - Notorious

Hands up if you, like me, used to sing "Mo-mo-monotonous!" whenever this came on the radio. Looking back through nostalgic goggles, it's not that bad.

Is it?

9. Ash - Spellbound

Tim Wheeler's got us in his spell...

8. The Libertines - Vertigo

There may be a U2 song with the same title. You won't find it here.

7. Foo Fighters - Rope

Wonder if the Foos recorded this in one take, as Hitch tried to do with Rope?

6. Television - Torn Curtain

Very unsettling, like all the best Hitchcock movies.

5. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Frenzy

Great lip-gargling on this track from 1957.

4. Beth Orton - Shadow Of A Doubt
It's true that I have got a head full
Of voices saying the first thing that's in their heart
And I go to throw a ball with my best intention
And it gets caught up and carried away
In completely the opposite direction
3. Elvis Presley - Suspicion

From the legendary songwriting partnership of Pomus & Shuman. Gee. Knee. Us.

2. Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman - Psycho

Of course, the Elvis Costello version is better, but I made that a Number One already. So here's the wonderful Amanda Palmer with her slightly less wonderful hubby on vocals. It shouldn't work... and yet, it kinda does.

Download this, free & legal, along with Amanda's version of Lana Del Rey's Video Games, and more... by clicking here.

1. Elbow - The Birds

Like much of Guy Garvey's songwriting, there's a drama here that's really quite sinister...
The birds are the keepers of our secret
As they saw us where we lay
In the deepest grass of springtime
In a reckless guilty haze

OK, those were my favourite songs that share a title with Hitchcock films. Do you have a Rear Window, North By North West or To Catch A Thief in your record collection?

Monday 10 September 2012

My Top Ten Pulp Songs

And I thought My Top Ten Smiths Songs was hard to compile...

10. Cocaine Socialism

Tony Blair invited various Britpop artists to Number 10 in a brazen effort to inject some cool Britpop chic into his politics. This was Jarvis' response. And it was only ever released as a b-side!

9. Inside Susan

The first Pulp album I ever heard was Intro. I found it in the chuck-out bin in the radio station where I used to work. I loved every track, but this was the one that made me fall in love with Jarvis the storyteller.

She's still thinking about this when the bus goes past Caroline Lee's house where there was a party last week.
There were some German exchange students there who were very immature
They all ended up jumping out of the bedroom window.
One of them tried to get her to kiss him on the stairs,
so she kicked him.
Later she was sick because she drunk too much cider.
Caroline was drunk as well
She was pretending she was married to a tall boy in glasses,
and she had to wear a polo-neck for three days afterwards to cover up the love-bite on her neck.

8. The Fear

Sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

This is our music from the bachelor's den
The sound of loneliness turned up to ten
A horror soundtrack from a stagnant waterbed
And it sounds just like this...

After the heights of Britpop fame, Jarvis has a mental breakdown on record, becomes plagued by panic attacks, finds his libido failing him... and even ends up quoting Paul Daniels. You're gonna like it - but not a lot.

7. Countdown

A long time ago I read an interview with Jarvis where he explained what this song was about. Pulp had been together (in one form or another) almost sixteen years before their first minor Top 40 hit in 1994. Countdown was about feeling like you were stuck on the launchpad, waiting for your life to take off, wondering if the countdown would ever begin.

6. Do You Remember The First Time?

I can't remember a worst time...

5. Bad Cover Version

Gets in on the strength of the video alone (which doesn't even feature Jarvis' vocals... although he does do a mean Brian May).

Here's the video version... if you've never seen it before, you MUST press play now.

4. Babies

Young Jarv hides in his friend's sister's wardrobe to spy on her teenage shenanigans. And then things get out of hand...

3. Sorted For Es and Wizz

Reminds me of every music festival I attended in the 90s, and I never took an E or some wizz in my life. (Well, I take a few wizzes every day... and that increases with age... but not that kind of wizz.)

And this hollow feeling grows and grows and grows
And you want to call your mother, and say,
"Mother - I can never come home again
'Cos I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere
Somewhere in a field in Hampshire - all right."

2. A Little Soul

Jarv confronts his estranged father with his most heartrending lyric. I'm in the minority: I actually prefer the album This Is Hardcore to its predecessor, the million-selling Different Class. It's so much darker and so much deeper: my favourite album of the 90s. I could have filled an entire Top Ten with its tracks (then again, I could have done the same with DC). No other Pulp song chokes me up like this one though.

1. Common People

I tried to convince myself there was a better Pulp song than Common People, I really did. Then I listened to it... and realised that there's a very reason it's their biggest hit. The lyrics are quintessentially Jarvis and the song just builds and builds and builds. One of the few Britpop anthems that never grows tired. And that's before we even get to the Shatner version.

If you're as big a Pulp fan as I am, you're no doubt grinding your teeth in horror at the absence of Disco 2000, Misshapes, Razzmatazz, Stacks, Help The Aged and many others. Sorry, but ten is my limit, and these are the ones that make me Love Life. I could have compiled a Top 100 and still not have included all my favourites...

Friday 7 September 2012

My Top Ten Alabama Songs

The second stop on my USA tour (following Memphis) brings me to the deep south of Alabama. Never before have I compiled a Top Ten where so many of the songs are so inextricably linked...

Special mention goes to Alabama Shakes, Alabama 3 and, of course, The Blind Boys of Alabama.

10. Jim White - Alabama Chrome

According to the Urban Dictionary, "alabama chrome" is slang for duct tape. Make of that what you will.

9. The Drive-By Truckers - The Three Great Alabama Icons

The Truckers tell the story of the controversial relationship between the songs at #3 and #1 on this chart, along with a potted history of the deep south itself.

See also The Boys From Alabama, an 18 certificate remake of Dukes of Hazzard.

I wouldn't piss off the Boys from Alabama if I was you

8. Brad Paisley - Old Alabama

Alabama was also the name of a classic country rock band of the 70s and 80s. Here they're reunited by my favourite contemporary country artist for a tribute song, singing lyrics from one of their biggest records, Mountain Men.

7. Old Crow Medicine Show - Alabama High-Test

They're gonna put me in the slammer
If they catch me with that Alabama high-test

6. Kid Rock - All Summer Long

Recalling his youth in northern Michigan (936 miles away from Alabama), Kid Rock shamelessly pilfers our #1 song, Bryan Adams' Summer of '69 and a howling hit by this next gentleman...

5. Warren Zevon - Play It All Night Long

Which dead band's song is Warren playing all night long? (Hint: it's not Kid Rock's.)

The youtube version I'm linking to is a little wobbly, but it's the best version I could find.

4. The Doors - Alabama Song

Written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht back in 1927, this has been recorded umpteen times since, most notably by Jim Morrison (above) and David Bowie. I think the Doors version just wins it for me.

3. Neil Young - Alabama

Grumpy old northern Neil never had much love for the south, venting his spleen on the segregationist states both here and in Southern Man. Some good did come out of this whole situation though - Neil's angry rants led to the creation of our #1 track. No prizes if you haven't already guessed what that's going to be.

2. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes - Home

Alabama, Arkansas
I do love my ma and pa...
Not the way that I do love you

Maybe it's not strictly an Alabama song (Mr. Sharpe and the Zeroes are from L.A.), but that opening lyrics always points me in that direction.

1. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama

Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don't need him around anyhow!

There have been various theories put forth over the years about the politics espoused by the Skyn' in this song. Go listen to #9 for more about that. For me, this is just one of the greatest rock guitar songs ever, a track that always makes me want to "turn it up"...

So... which one's your Alabama slammer?

Wednesday 5 September 2012

My Top Ten Peculiar Songs

So I have a new comic out.

You can read all about it here.

To celebrate: an appropriate Top Ten...

10. Tim Buckley - Ain't It Peculiar

Who knew Tim Buckley could be this funky?

9. Vinny Peculiar - Uniform

Couldn't find a whole lot of Vinny Peculiar on youtube, but I liked this Robert-Palmer-meets-Porridge video.

8. Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris - My Own Peculiar Way

Because you can never have enough Willie.

(Oh, give me a break! I only did that gag to keep Steve happy!)

7. Hüsker Dü - It's Not Peculiar

The Hold Steady weren't just influenced by Bruce.

6. Man Like Me - Peculiar

These guys listened to way too much Talking Heads while in the womb. Still, nothing wrong with that.

5. Cousteau - Peculiarly You

The way you arch your back and comb your hair
The way you only come when no-one else is there
The way you look like you might know a secret
There's not a lot I can do, it's peculiarly you

Top youtube comment for this song: "This song is like seeing a beautiful woman in a way". So that's what Swiss Toni's doing these days.

4. Marvin Gaye - Ain't That Peculiar

Scrumptious. See also the Japan version, which you may prefer... if you're CLINICALLY INSANE. (No offense. There's nothing wrong with the Japan version. As an 80s artifact. But c'mon - it's hardly Marvin Gaye.)

3. Frank Sinatra - Life Is So Peculiar

About time we had a burst of Frank philosophy round here...

When I get up each morning, there's nothing to breathe but air
And when I look in the mirror, there's nothing to comb but hair
And when I sit down to breakfast, there’s nothing to eat but food
Life is so peculiar but you can't stay home and brood

2. Simon & Garfunkel - A Most Peculiar Man

As a lonely, confused and frightened twenty-something, I sometimes wondered if this was how I'd end up...

1. Mull Historical Society - Peculiar

If Department of the Peculiar had a theme song, this would be it.

Don’t make them laugh, or they will LAUGH at you…
Don’t piss them off, or they will piss on you…
Don’t make them crack !!
Or they will crack…you.... in 2 2 2 2……

So, those were the most peculiar songs I could find. Do you have a favourite peculiarity?

Monday 3 September 2012

My Top Ten Psycho Songs

"Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

10. Space - Mister Psycho

Hey, remember Space? Bunch of Scouse psychos.

9. Tindersticks - 4.48 Psychosis

At 4:48
When sanity visits
For one hour and twelve minutes I am in my right mind
When it has passed I shall be gone again

8. The Ramones - Psycho Therapy

If ever there was a band who needed to self-medicate...

7. Spearmint - Psycho Magnet

You are the star
I am a psycho-magnet

6. Imelda May - Psycho

She goes with a psycho.

5. Richard Thompson - Psycho Street

Richard Thompson looks through a mirror darkly crack'd and sees the Neighbours theme tune, distorted and disturbing.

A man has an inflatable doll made that looks exactly like his wife
He murders his wife, dissolves her body in acid, and marries the doll
Three years later he leaves her for another doll

4. Black Box Recorder - Child Psychology

Life is unfair: Kill yourself, or get over it.

3. Huey Lewis & The News - Hip To Be Square

If you don't know what this is doing here, you probably shouldn't click the link above. specially if you're offended by gratuitous violence against yuppies.

In '87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is "Hip to be Square", a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it's also a personal statement about the band itself.

2. Talking Heads - Psycho Killer

I hate people when they're not polite.

1. Elvis Costello - Psycho

Many artists have covered Leon Payne's dark and haunting first person psycho narrative, but Elvis is the one who nails it for me. Sends shivers down my spine every time... especially the bleak twist at the end.

Those are the songs that set my sanity slipping. Which one sends you to the rubber room?

Saturday 1 September 2012

My Top Ten Kinks Songs

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this blog in 2022, I might compile a Top Ten Beatles Songs. Before that, there are far more important acts who deserve my attention...

10. End of the Season

If this wasn't an influence on Everyday Is Like Sunday, I'll eat Morrissey's hearing aid.

9. Death Of A Clown

Released as a Dave Davies solo single (though it was co-written by Dave). Anything that involves drinking to the death of clowns is a hit with me. I do hate me some clowns.

8. The Village Green Preservation Society

We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards

7. You Really Got Me

The world's first Heavy Metal record?

6. Days

Superceded in many of our memories by Kirsty's version, but the original is still ace.

5. All Day And All Of The Night

The world's second Heavy Metal record? The Stranglers did a mean version in the 80s, but by then we'd all heard hundreds of records that sounded like this. Back in 1964, nobody had ever heard anything like it.

4. Sunny Afternoon

One of those "woe is me, I'm a poor millionaire pop star" songs, forgivable because of Davies' playful lyrics. Take that, Jimmy Carr and, erm, Take That.

3. Come Dancing

The second Kinks song I ever truly loved, their 1983 comeback record and final UK chart hit. The band were much bigger abroad in the 70s and 80s, nobody seemed that bothered back home. Which is a shame, because much of their later material stands up really well.

A truly great story song.

2. Lola

The first Kinks song I ever truly loved, as Ray takes a walk on the wild side and ends up upsetting the BBC. Not for writing a song about a transvestite, but for rhyming the title character's name with Coca Cola. No advertising on the BBC, Ray - change it to Cherry Cola or else!

The way I remember it, we didn't actually get Cherry Cola in the UK until the mid-80s... a good decade and a half after this song was a hit.

1. Waterloo Sunset

Although I do get a bit tired of the whole "in't London brilliant" brigade who claim this as an anthem, you can't deny it's a timeless classic. Just beautiful.

Stop your sobbing - many great Kinks songs were rejected during the compilation of this Top Ten. I know, everybody's (not) gonna be happy. I never claimed to be a dedicated follower of fashion. Did I leave out one of your kinky favourites?

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