Friday 30 November 2012

My Top Ten Rolling Stones Songs

They're 50 this year too, in case you hadn't heard.

10. Street Fighting Man

Summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street...

9. Undercover Of The Night

I know, it's not an obvious choice. What can I say? I'm a sucker for backwards guitars.

The video is very, very bad though.

8. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)

Look up "rock 'n' roll" in the dictionary. You should find the following...
If I could stick my pen in my heart
And spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

7. Let's Spend The Night Together

Getting chatted up by Mick Jagger is a scary prospect. But who could turn down an offer like this?

6. Ruby Tuesday

Always reminds me of She's Leaving Home... except, it's better.

5. Jumping Jack Flash

It's a gas. Gas. Gas.

4. You Can't Always Get What You Want

"Hey, Mick, man, how about we get a choir of kids to sing the intro to our new record?"

"Yeah, man, Keef, whatever - now pass me whatever you're smoking, man."

And yet, not even a choir of kids can ruin this record.

3. Paint It, Black

I wear black on the outside, Morrissey wailed, black is how I feel on the inside.

Yet the Stones beat him to it by about 20 years.

2. Sympathy For The Devil

My instinct, before I started compiling this Top Ten, was that this would be the undisputed winner. But in the end, the devil himself couldn't compete with...

1. Gimme Shelter

Just frighteningly good.

I know - you just can't get no satisfaction from this Top Ten, can you?

Form an orderly queue and start listing your (missing) favourites below...

Wednesday 28 November 2012

My Top Ten Zombie Songs

My dad had a visit the other day from a BBC location scout wanting to film a zombie TV series in his barn. He told 'em where to go. With his shotgun. He hates TV people worse than he hates zombies. Besides, as I said to him afterwards, like we need another whole series of a TV show devoted to zombies in a barn...

From The Walking Dead to World War Z, you can't go anywhere without bumping into a zombie these days. The living dead have gone mainstream... and the music industry's full of them too!

Special mention to Rob Zombie, Zombie Zombie and, of course, The Zombies.

10. David Bowie - Dead Man Walking

Late period Bowie. Trying too hard to be cutting edge and dance. Video scarily reminiscent of Dave's old mate Mr. Lynch. Still, always worth a listen.

9. Tom Petty - Zombie Zoo

Kids these days, eh, Tom? What do they look like?
Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:

Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:
Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:
8. Magnetic Fields - Zombie Boy

Discordant and disturbing, like the best low budget zombie shockers.

You seem to have died
of some form of the pox
They left you inside
your tiny black box

I heard when you cried
and I answered your knocks
Let's make you a bride
with another two cocks
He's referring to the voodoo tradition of sacrificing chickens to bring back the dead. Honest.

7. Suede - The Living Dead

The living dead in question is a drug addict acrobat, lamented by his wife. Or maybe it's all a metaphor. FOR ZOMBIES!

6. Roky Erikson - I Walked With A Zombie

When you start your musical career in a 13th Floor Elevator before being committed to a psychiatric facility for ECT treatment, it should come as no surprise when you end up walking with a zombie.

5. Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahh!!!

Sufjan Stevens' songs rarely live up to their titles. But with a title like that - what could?

4. Michael Jackson - Thriller

OK, so there's not just zombies after your blood in Jacko's defining moment, but they're part of the crowd. And where else will you find the undead dancing?

3. Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - Zombie Christmas

Zombies and Christmas go together like mistletoe and the whine from a shredded, undead throat. But Tim and Emmy make them gel in this track from their excellent festive collaboration of last year, This Is Christmas.

And they're not the only ones to find a link... see also: MXPX - Christmas Night of Zombies.

2. Adam Ant - Cool Zombie

Adam Ant is back with his first single in 17 years... and bloody hell, it's a belter! New album out in 2013.

1. The Cranberries - Zombie

No prizes for guessing our Number One, though its message is a little more serious than the rest of the songs on this chart.

Those were my favourite zombie songs. Which one gets you going "Grr!! Arrghh!!" ?

Monday 26 November 2012

My Top Ten Bob Songs

My sister's old sheepdog, Bob, passed away last week. He was a good dog.

This is my tribute...

10. Columbo - Rockabilly Bob

A lost classic indie-dance crossover from the 90s. I think Norman Cook might have had something to do with it, but I can't find anything online to confirm that.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Bob Wilson, Anchorman

See also: 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd

If you ever wondered how you get triangles from a cow
You need butter, milk and cheese
And an equilateral chainsaw
We can never get enough HMHB round these parts.

8. Happy Mondays - Bob's Yer Uncle

A song that's all about sex. Which is fine unless you picture it performed by Shaun Ryder.

7. Pulp - Bob Lind

Jarvis's tribute to the Elusive Butterfly of American folk.

6. Banarama - Robert De Niro's Waiting

Yes, if Girl's Aloud recorded this for the first time in 2012, I would have no interest in it at all. I am a child of the 80s, unashamedly.

5. Nick Cave - The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane

Top slice of Nick Cave storytelling; b-side of his Kylie duet, Where The Wild Roses Grow.

4. Mark Germino & The Sluggers - Rex Bob Lowenstein

Rex Bob is a rebel DJ who refuses to stick to the playlist... and ends up locking himself in the studio in a stand-off with The Man.

Classic story song about the soulless evil of the commercial radio industry.

3. Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee

Written by Kris Kristofferson, whose original recording is just as good. 

2. Prince - Bob George

Probably the darkest record Prince ever recorded, his bleakly funny piss-take of violent and misogynist gangster rap, from the legendary Black Album. The live version on youtube doesn't really do the track justice, but this being Prince, you won't find the album version there.

1. Bruce Springsteen - Bobby Jean

Back in the 80s, at the height of his success, Bruce had a big falling out with his best friend, Steve Van Zandt (star of The Sopranos and the excellent Lilyhammer). Many believe this song was about their break-up. (They're friends again now, and Stevie's back with the E Street Band.)

Now you hung with me when all the others turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes
We told each other that we were the wildest, the wildest things we'd ever seen
Now I wished you would have told me, I wished I could have talked to you
Just to say goodbye, Bobby Jean

For Bob, RIP.

Which is your bobby dazzler?

Friday 23 November 2012

My Top Ten Universe Songs

Hey - I found a Top 10 that was left over from the old blog. I hate to see a good list go to waste...

10. The Beatles - Across The Universe

At which point, the Beatles were lost in the constellation of hippy. Nothing's gonna change my world...

Unsurprisingly, David Bowie covered this in a rather mad way.

9. The Dears - Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?

Found this old Dears album kicking around in my record collection the other day. Not listened to it in ages. Forgotten how good this track was.

8. Pulp - Master Of The Universe

Very early Pulp, from their second album, 'Freaks', circa 1987. Before Jarvis discovered the kitchen sink route to success.

7. Eels - Daisies Of The Galaxy

The 'galaxy' in question is a theatre, but we won't let that concern us.

6. Laura Viers - Galaxies

When Laura Viers sings, stars fill up my eyes...

5. Ryan Adams - Fuck The Universe

Well, there's no need to be like that.

4. Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos

Every night I tell myself: I am the cosmos

Insert punchline here.

Seriously though, this one gets extra points because Chris Bell was from Big STAR.

3. Queen - Princes Of The Universe

From the soundtrack to Highlander. As with Flash Gordon, Queen had a habit of recording soundtrack records that were far better than the movies they became attached to.

When I was 16, I thought this record ROCKED SO HARD. The video, however, is an exercise in restrained subtlety and minimalism.

2. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

But as stupendous as the video for 'Princes of the Universe' is, it cannot compete with the b-movie genius of 'Intergalactic', possibly the Beastie Boys' finest moment.


1. Blur - The Universal

The second best song Blur ever recorded. #1 being 2. Obviously.

Yes, it really, really, REALLY could 'appen...

So those were my favourite songs of the universe - which one sends you into another dimension?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

My Top Ten Sexual Songs

At last, the fourth issue of my comic Too Much Sex & Violence is out! (Should you be at all interested, you can buy it here.)

Way back through the mists of time when I published issue #3, I marked the occasion by compiling My Top Ten Sex Songs and My Top Ten Sexy Songs. At the time, I promised to complete that particular ménage à trois...but I'm afraid I've been a bit of a tease, haven't I? Hopefully you've not lost your appetite for this...

10. The Hot 8 Brass Band - Sexual Healing

It's not often I'll include two versions of the same song in one Top Ten... but this one's so good, I just couldn't resist it.

9. Poison - Sexual Thing

Yes, Poison. Every Rose Has more than just a Thorn.

8. Everclear - My Sexual Life

Struggling to fill that Top Ten? Only found 9 decent tracks? You can always rely on Everclear...

7. Belle & Sebastian - Shoot The Sexual Athlete

Stuart Murdoch pays tribute to the Go-Betweens and other 80s heroes.

6. Jackie Leven - The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ

I make no apologies for the fact that this song will pop up again in another Top Ten very soon. Because it's bloody great.

5. Relaxed Muscle - Sexualized

Jarvis Cocker sees sex wherever he looks. Even student teachers are sexualized!

Leave it out, Jarvis, I like you... but not in that way.

4. Momus - A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 - 24)

I'm jealous of the dangling men
You know you'll never go to bed with
I've felt the fire that fires them
I've known the unrequited love it's fed with
And I don't believe in Platonic love
But I'm still jealous of Plato
What a bore!
A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy Parts 17 to 24

3. Readers' Wives - Sexually Attracted To Myself

My old pals Readers' Wives, with one of their very best. Buy the album it came from here. Go on, it's good.

I'm sexually attracted to myself
And for that very reason
I think I might be gay, like

Great Morrissey-esque "oh-ho-ho-ho-ho!" just over a minute into the song.

2. Marvin Gaye - (Sexual) Healing

Would have been Number One if it wasn't for a steward's enquiry. Any song that begins thus...

Baby, I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'

...deserves your respect and admiration.

Radio stations put the S-word in brackets, in case it upset impressionable listeners. BBC DJs at the time of its release were only allowed to call it 'Healing'.

1. Billy Bragg - Sexuality

It was almost too close to call, but how could I relegate Billy's finest pop moment (with a little help from Johnny Marr, Kirsty MacColl and Phil Jupitus) into second place? So many great lines, it's hard to pick a favourite...

I'm sure that everybody knows how much my body hates me
It lets me down most every time and makes me rash and hasty
I feel a total jerk before your naked body of work

Those were my sexual secrets... but which one gets you in the mood?

Monday 19 November 2012

My Top Ten Star Wars Songs

With the news that George Lucas has sold Star Wars to Disney, there's a whole new trilogy to look forward (?) to in a few years time... we can but hope they'll be better than the last three.

Still, here's 10 songs you might hear covered by the Cantina band... but be warned, most of these are pretty damned obscure.

10. Ringo Deathstarr - Kaleidoscope

Points for the band name at least. It was this or Hoth-house flowers...

9. Weird Al Yankovic - Yoda

Weird Al parodies The Kinks. Mildly amusing the first time you hear it.

8. Frigid Vinegar - Dogmonaut 2000 (Is There Anyone Out There?)

Obscure 90s indie that samples the trumpets from It's Not Unusual and begins thus...

I knew this kid named Freddie Skywalker, 
A YTS Jedi with his own flying saucer...

7. Fight Like Apes - Lightsabre Cock Sucking Blues

Not advisable under any circumstances.

6. Blink 182 - A New Hope

And of course I'd do anything for her
I'd search the moons of Endor
I'd even walk naked through
The deserts of Tatooine

Princess Leia, where are you tonight?

And who's laying there by your side?

5. Ash - Lose Control

The opening track on their debut release begins with the sound effect of a Tie Fighter. The album is called 1977... the year Star Wars was released and Ash were born.

4. The Real Thing - Can You Feel The Force?

Good old disco: never shy to jump on a bandwagon. The Real Thing had three great singles. This was the third, and least. But I'll let them have a pass because the other two were stone cold classics.

3. The Supernaturals - Star Wars

Sadly unavailable anywhere online, this obscure Supernaturals b-side (from their excellent single I Wasn't Built To Get Up) tells of a young man forced to choose between Star Wars and his girlfriend. Turns out it's no competition...

2. Neon Neon - I Told Her On Alderaan

AKA Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals plus some bloke called Boom Bip. Obviously he let R2D2 choose that name for him.

1. Bellatrix - Jedi Wannabe

Bellatrix is a star in the Orion constellation. They were also a turn-of-the-millennium Icelandic indie band... and this was their finest 3 minutes.

Sometimes I set myself these Top Tens as a challenge. Could you do any better?

Friday 16 November 2012

My Top Ten Surrender Songs

That's it - I give up!

10. JJ72 - Surrender

JJ72: should have been bigger.

9. Bread - Sweet Surrender

Really, if you were expecting Wet Wet Wet, you really don't know me very well at all. Still, same title - much better song... and no grinning Tony Blairalike frontman. That's got to be a bonus.

8. Less Than Jake - Surrender

Apparently this is a cover of an old Cheap Trick song, but as I've never heard the original and can't pretend to know anything about Cheap Trick, you're stuck with the rather nice LTJ version.

7. Diana Ross - Surrender

Written by Ashford & Simpson. I was such a huge Diana Ross fan as a kid, I really should have been gay.

6. Swing Out Sister - Surrender

Because the 80s will live forever... on this blog at least.

5. Elvis Presley - Surrender

Another Elvis hit by the legendary songwriting duo of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, though the melody is based on an old Neapolitan ballad, Come Back To Sorrento. (Or so wikipedia claims.) Still, 5 million copies sold - that's some going.

4. Rainbow - I Surrender

Let's ROCK. Man, lead singer (at the time - Rainbow had about 6 at one point or another) Joe Lynn Turner had one serious haircut. I wonder if his dad ever told him how much he looked like a girl?

3. The Jam - Beat Surrender

Bullshit is bullshit
It just goes by different names

2. Bruce Springsteen - No Surrender

Who didn't learn more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school?

1. Justin Currie - No, Surrender

Adding a simple comma turns Bruce's defiant roar into a hopeless epic of resigned misanthropy. Justin hates on everyone and everything in this touching 8 minute rant... so much moaning, it takes TWO youtube videos to do it justice. It's like Nothing Ever Happened turned up to 11.

Should you stand and fight 
Should you die for what you think is right 
So your useless contribution will be remembered? 
If you're asking me I say no, surrender. 

Those were the records I'm surrendering too... but which one gets you waving your white flag?

Wednesday 14 November 2012

My Top Ten L.A. Songs

The next stop on my Top Ten Tour of the USA... it's La La Land.

10. Patsy Gallant - From New York To L.A.

Ironically never a hit in America. But we'll return to Americans and irony in a moment...

9. Elliott Smith - L.A.

Sadly, it was to be his last stop.

8. Billy Joel - Los Angelenos

As I keep telling you: if you don't dig Billy, you don't dig music.

7. The Fall - L.A.

A song with about 30 words in total, yet they're all ace. Not sure whether the best line is this...

Uncanny bushes are in disagreement with the heat

...or this...

They have filled boulevards with white snow, scum-ball.
Gotta love Mark E. Smith.

6. Glen Campbell - Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)

Livin' in the city
Ain't never been my idea of gettin' it on

5. Art Brut - Moving To L.A.

Eddie Argos: a less L.A. rock star it would be hard to find. And yet...
When I get off that plane
The first thing I'm gonna do is
Strip naked to the waist
And ride my Harley Davidson
Up and down Sunset Strip
Hmm, I might even get a tattoo
My problems are never gonna find me
I'm not sending one letter or even a postcard back
I'm drinking Hennessy with Morrissey
On a beach out of reach somewhere very far away

4. Meat Loaf - Los Angeloser

Post Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf has released some pretty duff records, even I can't argue with that. However, every now and then he brings out something like this that, while not in the Jim leagues, still brings a huge smile to my face. I love rockstars who don't take themselves too seriously. I like to think that if Elvis was still alive, he'd be releasing stuff like this... even at 77.

3. Bran Van 3000 - Drinking In L.A.
Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.
A record that owes much of its existence to Beck, even though he had nothing to do with it.

Oh, and if you think this was the only decent record BV3000 released, can I respectfully direct you towards Speed? It's even better.

2. The Doors - L.A. Woman

Mr. Mojo Risin'.

1. Randy Newman - I Love L.A.

Next time some idiot tries to tell you Americans don't understand irony, point them towards Randy Newman.

Those were my L.A. loves... which one gets you going lalala?

Monday 12 November 2012

My Top Ten "I Don't Wanna..." Songs

Pop stars, eh? A bunch of petulant teenagers, the lot of them. Here's 10 things they just do NOT want to do...

10. Sham 69 - I Don't Wanna

Sham 69 pretty much don't wanna do much of anything. Punks.

9. Eddie Grant - I Don't Wanna Dance

Can't say I blame him. I never was much of a dancer.

8. Harry Chapin - I Don't Want To Be President

Left over from last week's American President Top 10...
Time is a march where the powerful are drummers
Big business, big labour, big oil
And soon I was meeting with the men who ran the country
The men who owned the sky and the soil

7. The Airborne Toxic Event - I Don't Want To Be On TV

If you've ever met anyone who works in television, this song will make perfect sense to you.

6. Rod Stewart - I Don't Want To Talk About It

Or, should you prefer it, the Everything But The Girl version.

5. The Magnetic Fields - I Don't Want To Get Over You

From the album 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt's finest hour.

I could listen to my therapist
Pretend you don't exist
And not have to dream of what I dream of

I could listen to all my friends and go out again 
And pretend it's enough
Or I could make a career of being blue

I could dress in black and read Camus 
Smoke clove cigarettes and drink Vermouth 
Like I was 17, that would be a scream 
But I don't want to get over you.

4. Elton John - I Don't Want To Go On With You Like That

He doesn't want to be just a feather in your cap.

3. The Ramones - I Don't Wanna Grow Up

...And they never did.

The Ramones could have filled an entire album with songs about things they didn't want to do. See also... I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You, I Don't Wanna Live This Life (Anymore) and, of course, I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement.

2. Belle & Sebastian - I Don't Want To Play Football

Could well have been my theme song in school PE lessons...

I don't want to play football
I don't understand the rules of the game
I don't want to play football
I don't understand the thrill of running, catching, throwing
Taking orders from a moron
Grabbing for the sweaty crotches
Getting hit by people I don't know
Sugar, I'd rather play a different sort of game
Sugar, the girls are just as good as boys at playing

1. Elvis Costello - (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea

Despite being devoted to this song for nigh on 25 years, I still have no idea what it's about. Unless Elvis just really doesn't want to go to Chelsea...

They call her Natasha
When she looks like Elsie
I don't want to go to Chelsea...

Go on, tell me your favourite... unless you don't wanna.

Friday 9 November 2012

My Top Ten Diary Songs

I never kept a diary. The closest I ever came was writing a blog. Sadly, I can find only one record about blogging. Scribbling down your life in a diary though... there's plenty to go at.

10. Bread - Diary

David Gates. Hugely unappreciated 70s songwriter. We should have more of him round these parts.

9. Pink - Dear Diary

Yes, Pink again, two Top Tens running. Have we not got over my Pink addiction yet? Really.

8.  The Ataris - In This Diary

Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up:
These are the best days of our lives.


7. Eels - Jeannie's Diary

I don't have a chance at writing the book
I just wanna be a page
In Jeannie's diary
One single page
In Jeannie's diary
New Eels album coming in February - yay!

6. The Kinks - My Diary

Sorry, Ray Davies's diary is too full to squeeze you in today.

5. The Real Tuesday Weld - The Day Before You Came

Written by Abba, a hit for Blancmange, but it's the Real Tuesday Weld version I can't get enough of. No actual diary in this song - but if the writer had kept one, his memory of the day in question might be a little better.

4. Yazoo - Nobody's Diary

Only in the 80s could a pop band have looked like Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke. One more reason I'm glad I grew up in this wonderful decade.

3. The Beautiful South - My Book

One of my favourite Beautiful South singles, yet one of their least successful. Heaton's on top lyrical form here... what a pity Soul II Soul felt the need to sue him for it for his "Back to bed, back to reality" refrain.

This is my life and this is how it reads
A documentary that nobody believes
Albert Steptoe in 'Gone with the Breeze'
Mother played by Peter Beardsley, father by John Cleese

2. The Bluetones - Solomon Bites The Worm

The Bluetones adapt the diary of one Solomon Grundy, esquire, for one of their greatest songs. It's a cracker. As Kevin Bacon says, doing his best Frank Carson impression on that advert. Now there's something I never thought I'd see...

1. ELO - The Diary of Horace Wimp

I found the story of Horace Wimp heartbreaking as a younger man. I could certainly empathize with his hopeless quest to find a significant other...

Wednesday. Horace met the girl. She was small and she was very pretty. 
He thought he was in love, he was afraid - uh oh. 
Thursday. Asked her for a date, the cafe down the street, tomorrow evening. 
His head was reeling, when she said yes, OK.

Those were the best entries in my diary. Which one do you keep padlocked under your pillow so your mum won't read it?

Wednesday 7 November 2012

My Top Ten American President Songs

Well, they had me worried for a few minutes there. Still sanity appears to have preveiled in the USA and so, to celebrate Obama's rightful return to the White House... and a world without the horror of President Mitt... here's eight songs about American presidents... and two about former top members of White House staff.

10. Pink - Dear Mr. President

Written for George, could just as easily have applied to Mitt...

9. Mercury Rev - Lincoln's Eyes


8. Steve Earle - Condi, Condi

OK, so Condoleezza Rice was never actually president... but she couldn't have done a worse job than her boss.

7. Ry Cooder - J. Edgar

Ry Cooder has a pig named after the former FBI Chief.

6. Bright Eyes - When The President Talks To God

When the president talks to God
Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
Agree which convicts should be killed?
Where prisons should be built and filled?
Which voter fraud must be concealed
When the president talks to God?

5. Action Spectacular - Bill Clinton

Well, I hope it was the best sex of all time
Because tomorrow, Mr. Clinton, we're all gonna die!

See, it's not only Republican presidents who get bad press from songwriters.

4. Billy Bragg - Bush War Blues

It is mostly Republicans though. Here Billy updates Leadbelly with his reaction to the US "liberation" of Iraq...

If you’re worried about Iraq
I’ll tell you this one thing I’m certain
This war is gonna make
The whole world safe for Haliburton

And it's not just Dubya who gets a kicking...

Cute little smile
Curly hair
It’s George Bush’s poodle
Goddamn Tony Blair

3. Manic Street Preachers - The Love Of Richard Nixon

What if Watergate never happened?

2. Okkervil River - The President's Dead

A song that's hugely evocative of November 22nd, 1963, even though none of the band in question were alive back then. 

1. The Wedding Present - Kennedy

So good, Kippers named his blog after it.

Have you lost your love of life?

Those get my vote... but which one leaves you with a hanging chad?

Monday 5 November 2012

My Top Ten Bonfire Night Songs

Remember, remember, the 5th of November... with 10 songs about bonfire night.

10. My Life Story - November 5th

Jake Shillingford: should have been bigger than the Gallaghers. Was always far more interesting.

9. Ryan Adams - Firecracker

Well, everybody wants to go on forever
I just wanna burn up hard and bright

8. Jonny Cola & The A Grades - Fireworks / Gunshots

Every now and then, I find myself rejoicing in the fact that myspace still exists. Couldn't find this one on youtube... but good old myspace - it's not just there for people trapped perpetually in 2005. 

I think they’re fireworks, but they might be gunshots
They look like fireworks, but ring out like gunshots
I hope they’re fireworks, but they burn like gunshots
So bring on the fireworks
And let loose the gunshots

Download this excellent song for just fifty of your English pennies from Bandcamp. You know it makes sense.

7. Tom Robinson - Looking For A Bonfire

Nowadays he's a 6Music DJ playing great records. Back then, he just mad them.

6. Picture Centre - Fireworks October 1990

OK, so strictly speaking Bonfire Night isn't in October. But if it was, this would be the perfect theme.

I always remember as a teenager finding November 5th a tremendously lonely night. One of those nights where all the cool lads with girlfriends hugged them in the light of the bonfire... and I just stepped closer and closer to the flames to keep warm. In 1990, I would be have been 18, so this record is pretty much bang on.

5. John Mellencamp - Cherry Bomb 

 In which JCM models his haircut on JBJ. It must be 1987.

See also same title / different song by Ash or The Runaways (with Joan Jett). Both fine records, but JCM just about edges it for me.

4. Skint & Demoralised - Fireworks

How can you not love a band called Skint & Demoralised? Especially when they make records as wonderful as this. Go press play now.

3. Nick Lowe - Indoor Fireworks

Look, I would post the Elvis Costello original, but I can't find a decent (non-live) version of it on youtube. Still, Nick Lowe also does a good job of Costello songs... and vice-versa.

You were the spice of life
The gin in my vermouth
And though the sparks would fly
I thought our love was fireproof
Sometimes we'd fight in public darling
With very little cause
But different kinds of sparks would fly
When we got on our own behind closed doors

2. Embrace - Fireworks

Look, if you don't think Embrace are the very definition of the last three letters in their name, this song will prove you wrong. Why argue?

1.Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - Born On The 5th of November

Carter write a love song - shock! And it's really quite beautiful... but that's what fireworks are for.

There was November in your eyes
There'd be no pennies for the guys
There were fireworks over London
But you weren't among them anymore...

Those are the songs I'll be hearing as the fireworks erupt over Top Ten Towers tonight... but which one is your sparkler?

Friday 2 November 2012

My Top Ten Famous Artist Songs

Inspired by a recent blogpost by Kellogsville, here's my Top Ten songs about people who were good with a paintbrush...

10. Dar Williams - Mark Rothko Song

Dar Williams wanders around a gallery with a friend, admires the Renoirs and muses on the sad death of Mark Rothko. Some folks were born with a foot in the grave...

9. Counting Crows - When I Dream Of Michelangelo

And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
I see god upon the ceiling I see angels overhead
And he seems so close as he reaches out his hand
But we are never quite as close as we are led to understand

8. Manic Street Preachers - Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)

From the album that made them household names... and yet, still they wrote songs like this.

7. Teenage Fanclub - Escher

And I don't know if I'm
going up or down, with you
Don't know if I'm coming
going up or down with you
But I don't mind

6. David Bowie - Andy Warhol 

Apparently, Warhol didn't approve. Which is kinda fitting.

See also Andy Warhol's Dead by Transvision Vamp.

5. Brian & Michael - Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs

Manchester's most beloved artist, L S Lowry, gave local lads Brian & Michael (aka Michael Coleman and... erm... Kevin Parrott) an unexpected Number One at the height of punk in 1978. The charts used to be SO much more unpredictably interesting than they are now.

4. Jimmy Webb - Paul Gaugin In The South Seas

I make no secret of the fact that I consider Jimmy Webb one of the greatest songwriters to ever walk the earth, although his songs are usually more famous when performed by others. This one's all Jimmy though. Lovely.

3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso 

In which Mr. Richman finds a truly wonderful rhyme for the name of one of the art world's most famous sons...

Well some people try to pick up girls
And get called assholes
This never happened to Pablo Picasso
He could walk down your street
And girls could not resist his stare and
So Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole

Jonathan Richman also wrote a song about Van Gogh. But someone else beat him to that...

2. Don McLean - Vincent

How you suffered for your sanity...

1. Paul Simon - Rene & Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War

I always thought that was a funny name for a dog.

A beautifully evocative tribute to not only the Belgian surrealist painter, his missus and their dog... but also a host of 50s doo-wop bands Simon imagines might populate the Magritte's record collection.

I also found songs about Dali, Hopper and Toulouse Lautrec... but which one is hanging on your wall?

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