Sunday 31 March 2013

My Top Ten Egg Songs

Happy Easter - have an egg or ten on me.

Special mention to The Eggs, The Lovely Eggs and... Paul McCartney's Scrambled Eggs.

10. Adam & The Ants -  Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)

That's what the voices from outer space tell me...

9. Beastie Boys - Egg Raid On Mojo

Before they discovered / invented / purloined rap, it seems the Beasties were punks at heart.

See also Egg Man, which sounds more like the Beasties you'd expect. 

8. The Flaming Lips - They Punctured My Yolk

A love story about two trainee astronauts torn apart when only one of them gets to go into space.

Or something.

7. The Seahorses - Happiness Is Egg-Shaped

From a great lost Britpop album that you could probably pick up for tuppence on Amazon if you went looking.

6. Tarnation - Little Black Egg

A lot more jangly than I remember.

Then I discovered... it's actually a cover of an old 60s hit by a Florida garage band called The Nightcrawlers. 

Not bad... but I still prefer the Tarnation version.

5. The Human League - Being Boiled

One of the earliest entirely electronic records... get boiled alive by those synths. No idea what the lyrics are about though. 

4. Fight Like Apes - Poached Eggs

If I'm understanding the metaphors correctly, this song is filthy...

3. Tom Waits - Eggs And Sausage (In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson)

Already featured in my Top Ten Breakfast Songs, but far too good to leave out of this list.

2. Giant Sand - Temptation of Egg
The shape of a woman... temptation of egg
If you've never heard this before, please give it a spin. It's both exceedingly cool and slightly scary.
I wake up with something in my eye.
I pull out one of your lashes
I like the way you stuck in my eye.
I like the way my eye stashes.
1. Mansun - Egg Shaped Fred

Mansun go all 'Coo-Coo-Cachoo' on us, inviting Egg Shaped Fred for tea.

Those were days...

Which one's your Easter Egg?

Friday 29 March 2013

My Top Ten Rabbit Songs

Ten Easter bunnies...

Special  mention to Frightened RabbitEcho & The Bunnymen, White Rabbits... and all the other White Rabbits already featured as part of my Top Ten Alice In Wonderland Songs.

10. Paul Westerberg - Mr. Rabbit

There's only one Paul Westerberg. Accept no Replacements.

9. Adam Ant -  Who's a Goofy Bunny?

From the new album, Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunners Daughter... apparently it's Adam's tribute to Malcolm McLaren.

8. Ray Moore - O, My Father Had A Rabbit

One of my first DJ heroes: the late Ray Moore. They don't make 'em like this anymore... 

7. Seth Lakeman - The White Hare

As I said above, if you're looking for White Rabbits, click the Alice In Wonderland link. Here's a white hare instead. Don't give me any grief about hares not being rabbits.

6. Sparks - Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat

All they get is polite applause. There's no pleasing some people.

5. Unkle featuring Thom Yorke - Rabbit In Your Headlights
I'm a rabbit in your headlights
Christian suburbanite
Washed down the toilet
Money to burn

Fat bloody fingers are sucking your soul away...
 And you think you have problems getting to sleep at night. Imagine living in Thom Yorke's head.

4. Chas & Dave - Rabbit

Not the first time this has made it's way into one of my Top Tens... doubt it'll be the last.
Now, I don't mind having a chat...
But you have to keep giving it that.
My local Sainsbury's still doesn't sell rabbit.

3. Florence & The Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

Yes, the kookiness is starting to grate and she's yet to record anything else quite as exciting as Kiss With A Fist... but when I read that "551 people disliked this video beacuse (sic) they saw her waring (sic) earring (sic) that looks (sic) like "illuminati" sign", I was impressed. Particularly that the youtube commenter knew how to spell Illuminati.

2. The Magnetic Fields - Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits

Stephin Merritt at his most playful, from the mighty 69 (Love Songs).

1. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat

 Just fantastic storytelling...
I was of poor folk
But my mother had a rabbit fur coat
And a girl of less character pushed her down the L.A. River
Hand over that rabbit fur coat

She put a knife to her throat
Hand over that rabbit fur coat
When my ma refused, the girl kicked dirt on her blouse
Stay away from my mansion house
 Listen to the song to hear the rest of the story.

What's up, doc?

Wednesday 27 March 2013

My Top Ten Rock Star Songs

The perils and pleasures of life as a rock 'n' roll star... in ten easy-to-singalong songs.

10. Ben Folds - Rock Star
You're a slave to these people who
Don't even know you
You think they adore you
They do
Then they throw you away
9. Oasis - Rock 'n' Roll Star

No other song sums up the best... and worst... of Oasis. If only they hadn't tried so very, very hard to live up to it.

Louise just walked in and gave me a really strange look. "Are you listening to Oasis!?!"

I live to surprise and confound.

8. David Essex - Gonna Make You A Star

"I don't think so."

7. Nickelback - Rockstar

Yes, yes, I know. You're far too cool to like Nickelback. Screw you.

6. Everclear - Rock Star

 Kind of like the Nickelback it's almost OK to like.

Everybody everywhere wants to be famous
And everybody everywhere wishes they could tell
Everybody everywhere to go to hell

5. Bill Wyman - (Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star

Bill Wyman may have been the most boring man in the Rolling Stones, but I always thought that was rather an unfair contest when you consider the competition. Still, this may well be his finest moment. It proves what a wag he really was. The video's hilarious too. 
Je suis un rock star
Je avais un residence
Je habiter la
A la south of France
Voulez vous
Partir with me?
And come and rester la
With me in France
4. The Byrds - So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star

Actually, no, I never did. I always wanted to be a writer. Pretty much missed the boat on that one.

3. Pink - So What

Pink's purest moment of petulant punk-pop in which she gives her ex the finger, because, "So what? I'm still a rock star!" The hilariously cartoon video positions Pink as a 21st Century Billy Idol, with added irony. What's not to love?

2. The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star

Would have been Number One if it actually mentioned a Rock Star. Still... Trevor Horn's finest moment. And that's saying something, from the man who produced Owner Of A Lonely Heart.

1. Amanda Palmer - Do It With A Rockstar

What helps AFP stand triumphant over the many fine records below is that this epic is quite unique among rock stars songs, presenting as it does the tale of a needy, neurotic rockstar begging a groupie to stay the night. The honesty of her true intentions...
I don't want your body
Just a part to listen to INXS
All the practice in the world
Won't get me good at loneliness-ness
...are beautifully contrasted by her more desperately persuasive "do you really wanna miss this chance?" chat up routine...
Do you wanna go back home?
Your animals are all alone
Oh, there's a chicken waiting on the stove
And your cousin left his DVD of swinging in the '70s
Or do you wanna go back home
Check your messages and charge your phone?
Oh, are you really sure
You wanna go
When you could
Do it with a rock star?
The video, entertaining though it is in a NSFW way, doesn't really do that dichotomy justice. But it's a wonderful track, and like Pink's song above, a record I just couldn't stop hitting "replay" on when I first got it. God knows what Neil Gaiman thinks, if AFP's actually like this in real life though...

Which one would you throw out the hotel window?

Sunday 24 March 2013

My Top Ten Favourite Songs

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...

These are a few of my favourite songs.

Don't get carried away... they're only songs with 'favourite' (or favorite if you're American) in the title...

10. Sheryl Crow - My Favourite Mistake

More appreciation should be give to Ms. Crow. Great voice, good songs. Gets a bit to close to the camera in the video.

9. Owen Paul - My Favourite Waste Of Time

80s one hit wonder (he was set to be the next big thing but it never happened). Watch the link above for his timeless "live" performance from BBC Pebble Mill.

8. Liz Phair - Favourite

Liz Phair gets up to no good in her favourite underwear.

Lads: Liz is the sort of girl your mother warned you about.

7. Haircut 100 - Favourite Shirts

Did I mention I met Nick Heyward once? Did I mention he was a thoroughly decent bloke? Did I?

Great 80s brass section on this.

6. Shrag - New Favourites

Sadly, Shrag called it a day late last month, citing poverty and "old age" among their reasons. They leave an impressive legacy for those of us who cared.

5. The Lemonheads - Favourite T
It never looked as good on you as it looks on me.
Sadly, only a ropey live version is available on youtube, but it's recorded at the same venue where I saw Evan and co. a few years earlier so extra points for that. 

4. Harry Nilsson - Mr. Richland's Favourite Song

Harry posits a future where the Beatles are forgotten lounge bar performers...
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to speak of other things"
Like a fallen star who works in a bar where Yesterday is king
The fans will stay for an hour or so, they still remember his fame
But the time has come the Walrus said, to call your fans by name
Is it better to burn out than fade away? Ironically, Harry Nilsson managed to do both.

3. Arab Strap - My Favourite Muse

It's hard to believe that a song which begins, "I pulled the ex last, and it felt weird to feel her up again" can actually get any better... yet this does, in that grubby, confessional, TMI way the Arab Strap boys specialise in.
And she brought the drinks all night, 
But that's okay, now she's got a job.
Her generosity - my curse. 

She even let me keep her purse.
2. The Wedding Present - My Favourite Dress

In which David Gedge goes all Julie Andrews on us...
Uneaten meals
A lonely star
A welcome ride in a neighbour's car
A long walk home
The pouring rain
I fell asleep when you never came
Some rare delight in Manchester town
It took six hours before you let me down
To see it all in a drunken kiss
A stranger's hand on my favourite dress
1. The Cardigans - My Favourite Game

A hugely infectious riff and some very dangerous driving from Nina Persson - one of their very best.

Oh, very well. Go on, then. Sigh.

Which is your favourite?

Thursday 21 March 2013

My Top Ten Ruby Songs

Ten rubies on wax cylinder...

10. The Osborne Brothers - Ruby (Are You Mad?)

Featuring some mighty fine banjo picking.

9. Marty Robbins - Ruby Ann

Ain't true love a funny thing?

8. Foster The People - Ruby

 An early FTP track, from before their pumped-up success, released as part of Record Store Day 2012.

7. Bic Runga - Ruby Nights

A haunting story of lost love from the New Zealand chanteuse.

6. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Ruby Room

A Green Day side-project that sounds suspiciously like... Green Day. Nothing wrong with that.

5. Tom Waits - Ruby's Arms

Tom does a Bill Bixby...

The only thing I'm taking is the scarf off of your clothesline
I'll hurry past your chest of drawers
And your broken wind chimes as I say goodbye
I'll say goodbye, say goodbye to Ruby's arms...
4. Donald Fagen - Ruby Baby

From the amazing album 'The Nightfly', the best thing to come out of Steely Dan breaking up in the 80s. 

3. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby

The Leeds' lads biggest hit: it seems so long ago. I saw Ricky Wilson in the remake of Jeff Wayne's War of the World stage show just before Christmas. He was the best thing in it... except for Liam Neeson (via hologram) and Jason Donovan. Marty Pellow was awful though.

2. The Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday

I know, I know. You really thought this would be Number One, didn't you? It's a lovely song. There's no denying that. But it doesn't quite do it for me like...

1. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

Back from Vietnam, a paralyzed vet finds it hard to readjust to home life... especially when his wife is finding solace in the arms of other men.

Those of you who don't find this heartbreaking: check you've still got one to break.

Originally recorded by Johnny Darrell. Also memorably covered by (among others) The Killers, Carl Perkins, Cake and Leonard Nimoy. Yes, I said Leonard Nimoy

Those were my Top Ten Rubies... which sparkles brightest for you?

Tuesday 19 March 2013

My Top Ten Birthday Songs

Because it's March 19th, and I am 41 years old. I know, I don't look a day over 40. (Well, strictly speaking, I'm not. Until tomorrow.)

10. My Life Story - Birthday Suit

It's always a treat to find a Jake Shillingford b-side on youtube.

9. Spearmint - Happy Birthday, Girl

From Spearmint's wonderful Christmas album, Oklahoma, but allowed here because the girl in question's birthday is on Christmas Eve. Other than that, too good to miss out.

8. Trembling Blue Stars - Birthday Girl


7. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach - Tears At The Birthday Party

From the best album Costello released in the past 20 years. But then, Burt Bacharach will do that for you.

6. The Cookies - I Want A Boy For My Birthday

Sorry, girls, I'm taken.

5. Eels - Let's Ruin Julie's Birthday

This is what happens when E doesn't get an invite to your party.

E, you're welcome at mine any time.

4. The Beatles - Birthday

Yeah, like they really needed the money that would be generated by writing a birthday song.

Still, great riff.

3. The All-Seeing I featuring Tony Christie - Happy Birthday, Nicola

Lyrics by Jarvis Cocker. Hence: brilliant.

2. The Smiths - Unhappy Birthday

If I wasn't superstitious, this could have been Number One. But do I honestly want to wish myself that?
I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday
'Cause you're evil
And you lie
And if you should die
I may feel slightly sad
(But I won't cry)
Thanks, Moz. I can always count on your for a card.

See also It's Not Your Birthday Anymore.

1. Stevie Wonder - Happy Birthday

Just before the tipping point where Stevie went from genius to goon. I Just Called To Say I Love You was still a few years off. Plus, it's a tribute to Martin Luther King, so extra point for that. Still, the 80s electric keyboard sounds very Casio. He should have stuck with a proper piano.

Those were my birthday songs. Which do you wish me?

Sunday 17 March 2013

My Top Ten Irish Songs

 Happy St. Patrick's Day.

10. The Thrills - The Irish Keep Gate-Crashing

Ah, The Thrills. Whatever happened. So much more interesting than Coldplay, and yet... where are you now? "On hiatus."
I finally shed my puppy fat
No kids, there's no encore tonight
9. Prefab Sprout - Dublin

With a name like "Paddy McAloon", he obviously has some Irish heritage... though apparently, he was born in Durham.
Dublin, Dublin 
Home of pretty Coleens
Dublin, Dublin, 

Nurse of such bitter dreams
8. Dennis Leary - Traditional Irish Folk Song

Being of Irish-Catholic descent gives Leary a pass from getting lynched for this hilarious folk song mickey take. I think.
They come over here and they take all our land
They chop of our heads and they boil them in oil
Our children are leaving and we have no heads
We drink and we sing and we drink and we die
7. Flogging Molly - Paddy's Lament

Kind of like the Pogues if Shane was from LA and could still stand up straight.

6. The Boomtown Rats - Banana Republic

After being banned from playing live in their home country, this was Bob Geldof's typically restrained tribute to the "septic isle" of his birth.

5. Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart

Well, he's half-Irish, half Salford... as he likes to keep reminding us. One of his most visceral and exciting rock songs... even if, in the end, it's more about England than Ireland. Still...

4. The Pogues - Dirty Old Town

A song written by Ewan MacColl (Kirsty's dad), made famous by the Dubliners (see below), but it's Shane's version that does it for me... if anything, he sounds even dirtier than the town he's serenading.
I met my love by the gasworks wall... one of the greatest opening lines ever.

Which brings us to...

3. The Pogues & The Dubliners - The Irish Rover

I wouldn't normally include two songs by the same artist in one Top Ten, but this is the very best version...
There was Barney McGee
From the banks of the Lee
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Johnny McGurk
Who was scared stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole
Who was drunk as a rule
And Fighting Bill Tracy from Dover
And your man, Mick McCann
From the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover
And this is only Number Three...!?

2. Paul Brady - The Island

There's been a fair few songs written about "The Troubles" (spare me Sunday, Bloody Sunday) but this has to be the most breathtakingly beautiful.

Best use of a minor chord in a pop song ever?

1. Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar

A traditional Irish folk song, recorded by everyone from the Dubliners to the Grateful Dead, Metallica to Pulp. But there can surely be no greater version than this. That guitar is just electrifying.
Musha ring dum a do dum a daiii.
Wack for my daddy-o.

Those were my favourite songs about the Emerald Isle. Which is your sham-rocker?

Friday 15 March 2013

My Top Ten Wizard of Oz Songs

With Sam Raimi's Wizard of Oz prequel in cinemas this week, I thought I'd cobble together ten songs (mostly) inspired by the land over the rainbow... 

Special mention, of course, to Toto...

10. Squeeze - No Place Like Home

Domestic violence, Difford & Tilbrook style. Get whacked round the head by their ruby slippers.

9. Emit Bloch - Dorothy

Probably not about the Dorothy...or any of her friends.
Just be happy yourself
Don't worry 'bout nobody else
You've got problems of your own, she said
Quit your nosing around...
8. Everclear - The Good Witch of the North

A lot soppier than the title lets on, and surprisingly upbeat for the Everclear lads. Most of their songs are about Wicked Witches...

7. The Flaming Lips - If I Only Had A Brain

Wayne Coyne's version is scary-genius.

6. James - Scarecrow

It's hard to believe James were around back in 1985, in the days when everything was still in black and white.

5. Mumford & Son - Little Lion Man

OK, so I couldn't find a song called The Cowardly Lion. I did think of throwing in the awesome Coward of the County instead. But I'm saving that for later. Still, any excuse to play my favourite from Mumford and his boys. (That second album was a bit of a water-treader, but the first still holds up.)

4. The Avett Brothers - Tin Man

They see pain but they don't feel it. You can slap them as much as you like.

3. Scissor Sisters - Return To Oz

True munchkins...
He said, "Is this the return to Oz?"
The grass is dead, the gold is brown and the sky has claws
There's a wind-up man walking round and round
What once was Emerald City is now a crystal town
2. Judy Garland - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Timeless. As is Eva Cassidy's version. And, as I discovered earlier this week, also the inspiration for the chorus of Starman by David Bowie. The leap of between octaves on "Some... where" and "" is identical.

1. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Supposedly the first film lyricist Bernie Taupin ever saw, The Wizard of Oz obviously had a profound impact.

The b-side, when this was released as a 7", was called 'Screw You'. Which leads us nicely up Eminem's own Yellow Brick Road...

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Wednesday 13 March 2013

My Top Ten Motorway Songs

We Brits don't call them highways... and they're the antithesis of freedom and romance. And yet... there's more songs about motorways than you'd expect. Remember these next time you're stuck in a three hour tailback on the M6...

10. The Divine Comedy - Motorway To Damascus

There are obvious nods to Kraftwerk in the backing track (and no, an Autobahn is not a motorway), but the lyrics take us in a much more bizarre direction, updating a biblical journey to a world of solar-panelled rooftops and crumbling cooling towers... ivy-clad reminders of a long-forgotten power. Metaphors aplenty to keep your mind active when the cones crowd round.

9. The Kinks - Motorway

Any song that begins thus... 
Motorway food is the worst in the world
...obviously sounds like it's going to present a more realistic, less romanticized vision of the English motorway system. And apart from the incongruous reference to 'gasoline fumes' (petrol, surely, Ray) you'd struggle to find truer words than these...
Motorway tea is warm and wet,
The rain is a pouring and it's four in the morning,
And it's all I can get.
You've never seen loos like motorway loos,
Thousands of people passing through,
It's enough to put you off of your motorway food.
8. The Pixies - Motorway To Roswell

Do they have motorways in Roswell?

Does Mulder know?

7. The Supernaturals - Life Is A Motorway

The Supernaturals at their most supremely silly. Still great fun.
La la la, lalala la la, la.
6. Black Box Recorder - The English Motorway System

It's Luke Haines's metaphor for a relationship breaking up. That said, only Sarah Nixey could make motorways sound quite so sexy...

5. Billy Bragg - A13, Trunk Road to the Sea

OK, so strictly speaking, this isn't about a motorway. It's about taking the A-road, the OK-road, that's the best. Hence, it's about NOT going on the motorway. Which is fine with me...

4. Doves - M62 Song

You may hate the M25. You may have nightmares about the M6. But the motorway that has been the bane of my existence for the last twenty-five years is the M-bloody-62. I truly believe it to be the worst motorway in the country, especially the stretch between Manchester and Leeds.

This would have been a much nicer song had they not named it after Satan's Driveway. 

3. The Long Blondes - Separated By Motorways

Every time I listen to The Long Blondes now, I get sad they aren't around anymore.
Wipe your eyes darling, it's OK 
Meet me on the dual carriageway 
Separated by motorways 
The A14 and the A1 
Separated by motorways 
Two lonely girls go on the run
2. It's Immaterial - Driving way From Home (Jim's Tune)

Another song about the bloody M62!
Without a care in the world...
I dunno, maybe it really was like that, driving on the M62 back in 1986. It certain isn't nowadays. 

1. Tom Robinson - 2-4-6-8 Motorway

Inevitable as roadworks... but far more enjoyable!

Altogether now...

I hate motorways - but I love these motorway songs. Which is your M1?

Monday 11 March 2013

My Top Ten Songs About David Bowie

So, there's a new album out from The Dame. And from what I've heard of it (admittedly only the first two singles so far: the album's still in the post), it sounds pretty spiffy. Since I already did My Top Ten Bowie Songs... here's some other people paying tribute.

10. Liam Lynch - Fake David Bowie Song
I've been stuck in space for such a long time
Sorry mum, I'm 5 years late for tea time
One of many fake songs Liam recorded, from the album of the same name... sadly, this one ends far too soon.

9. The Very Sexuals - Bowie Eyes

I always took Bowie's eyes to be the clearest evidence that he was, in fact, not of this earth.
And I want a star that guides me
To a girl with Bowie eyes
Got visions of my glamrock idols saving me
8. The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian -  Is David Bowie Dying?

The end of the universe, the death rays of the sun, with Wayne Coyne channeling the ghost of Bowie, the last man in existence.

Or something. 

7. Phish - David Bowie

An 11 minute jam, the only lyrics being repeated mentions of "David Bowie"... and, erm, "UB40".

Look, don't hold your breath waiting for my Top Ten Songs About UB40, OK?

6. Tori Amos - Not David Bowie

There's an underlying bitterness to this lyric that appeals to me. Tori's boyfriend blames her for the fact he's never made anything of his life, so she hits back...
...but I am not the reason you are not David Bowie...
5. They Might Be Giants - Au Contraire
David Bowie came to town
Flying overhead
"Don't you dig my chops?" he cried
This is what they said...

Au contraire, Dave
Quite the opposite, in fact
As it happens, au contraire
Au contraire, mon frère
Yeah. It makes as much sense as anything else TMBG ever recorded. Still ace.

4. Amy MacDonald - Barrowland Ballroom 

Amy's tribute to a legendary Scottish music venue... wishing she saw The Laughing Gnome there.
And when the night turns to day
And the lights they fade away
I wish that life and love would pass me by
And when the band stops a song because there's something going on
Well there is magic in the air I swear.
And I wish that I saw Bowie, playing on that stage
I wish that I saw something, to make me come of age.
3. Veruca Salt - With David Bowie

Extra marks for naming your band after a character from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.
I'm never alone
Cause you're following me home
I'm falling in love
My walkman and me
With David Bowie
2. Rolling Stones - Angie

Enough people believe this is about Dave's first missus that it merits inclusion. Plus, it's a great song. And no Mars Bars were hurt during the recording of this track. That's just apocryphal.

1. Flight of the Conchords - Bowie

A tribute and pastiche in one, though no other record on this list does justice to the unique insanity of the "freaky old bastard" behind Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke... I like to think he'd approve.
Do you have one really funky sequined space suit, Bowie,
Or do you have several ch-changes?

Got any about-Bowie songs you want to share with the class?

Friday 8 March 2013

My Top Ten Songs About Last Night

What were you doing last night?

I was listening to these fine songs...

10. Todd Snider - Late Last Night

Try to keep it down, Todd was up kind of late last night.

9. Johnny Cash - Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

Much as I like Simon & Garfunkel, their version comes off sounding slightly twee next to the Man In Black's majestic cover.

8. Green Day - Last Night On Earth

The kind of ballad they'd never have written before they started selling out stadiums. But even the punkiest of bands can't resist getting people to wave their lighters sometimes.

7. The Hold Steady - Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
We mix our own mythologies, we push them out through PA systems
We dictate our doxologies and try to get sleeping kids to sit up and listen
And I'm not saying we could save you, but we could put you in a place where you could save yourself
If you don't get born again at least you'll get high as hell
Don't worry, I had to look up "doxologies" too.

6. Frank Sinatra - Last Night, When We Were Young

Quietly heartbreaking, as only Frank could do it.

5. Duke Special - Last Night I Nearly Died

...but it's OK. Duke woke up just in time.

4. Lead Belly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

Recorded in 1944. Covered by Kurt Cobain in the early 90s who called Lead Belly "my favourite performer".

Lead Belly died in 1949, before rock 'n' roll was even born. You wouldn't know it. 

3. The Strokes - Last Nite

They almost missed out. That's where poor spelling gets you, lads.

From their first album, still their best.

2. The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night

A monumental slab of 60s psychedelia.

Trivia fact: Kenny 'Footloose' Loggins was a member of the Electric Prunes for a short time, though not when this record was recorded.

1. The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

As I've said before, they can't always be Number One... but I'll be damned if there's a better song out there with "last night" in the title. 

Which one will you still be listening to tomorrow night?

Wednesday 6 March 2013

My Top Ten Park Songs

Fancy a walk in the park...?

Special mention to Maxïmo Park, Van Dyke Parks, South Park and Ray Parker Jr. Of course.

10. Dubstar - Cathedral Park

I always thought Dubstar was a rubbish name for a band, particularly a band with very little dub in their sound. I always liked the fact that you could hear Sarah Blackwood's northern accent in her vocals though.

The interweb tells me Dubstar are recording again and soon to release a new record. Ooh... 

9. The Auteurs - After Murder Park

A song about dead children to cheer your dark winter days. Could have been worse (?) - I could have gone with Tom Lehrer - Poisoning Pigeons In The Park.

8. Feist - The Park

Feist thinks she's seen an old love in the park... it's unlikely she'll see him there again.

Beautiful song. 

7. Georgie Fame - Sitting In the Park

Or you may prefer the original by Billy Stewart, which I only just discovered, but it is rather fine. 

6. Cinerama - Barefoot In The Park

Named after the old Jane Fonda / Robert Redford movie, this is David Gedge going all romantic on us again. Hardly the sort of thing you'd hear on Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs, but perhaps it ought to be...
Yes it's because you're just sublime
That I think about you all the time
Don't ask me if it's true
Because how could anybody not love you?
5. Blur - Park Life

You may have expected this nearer the top... but in retrospect, isn't it just the teeniest bit annoying? Great single, but still... a bit annoying. Actually, I'm not sure who's more annoying, Damon or Phil Daniels. Probably Damon... Phil's just playing a part.

For something slightly less annoying from the Blur boys (but not half as catchy), try Trailer Park.

4. Bruce Springsteen - 4th of July, Asbury Park

Look, I'm not going to apologise for the amount of times Bruce makes My Tops Tens... but I should probably apologise that this one only got to #4. In any other chart... Number One With A Bullet.
And me, I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades
Bangin' them pleasure machines
Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk

Where they all promise to unsnap their jeans
And you know that tilt-a-whirl down on the south beach drag
I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And they kept me spinnin', dear, didn't think I'd ever get off
3.  Billy Bragg - Tank Park Salute

One of Billy's most heartbreaking songs, about a young boy coming to terms with the death of his father. Sends a shiver down my spine.  

For a much younger, much more raucous Billy, you might try: Riff Raff - Barking Park Lake.

2. Small Faces - Itchycoo Park
I feel inclined to blow my mind
Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun
They all come out to groove about
Be nice and have fun in the sun
What did you do there?

I got high!

You don't say...

1.  Richard Harris - MacArthur Park

Yes, I could have gone with the Donna Summer version, the Glen Campbell version... or even Jimmy Webb's own version... but Richard Harris did it first, and most famously. This song gets a lot of stick, partly because as a singer, Richard Harris was a great actor... and partly because nobody can really agree on what the lyrics are about. Hell to all that - it's a metaphor, deal with it.


Those were my favourite park songs, but... which one leaves your cake out in the rain?

Monday 4 March 2013

My Top Ten Action Movie Songs

OK, here's the deal - none of these songs were featured in the movie in question and no theme tunes are allowed. They all just share their name with an action movie... or occasionally were written about one, after the fact.

10. The Eagles - Desperado

Probably the least appropriate song on this list, about as far from the Antonio Banderas ass-kicker in spirit as you can get. Still, if you dig the Eagles (unlike The Dude) it's a great song.

9. Public Enemy - Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic

Public Enemy: Scarier Than Arnie Ever Could Be.

8. The Alarm - The Rock

When your opening line goes like this...
I'm a man who bites hard on the bullet of silence
...who needs Nicolas Cage or Sean Connery?

See also The Rock by the mighty, mighty Harry Chapin.

7. The Ramones - Commando
First rule is: The laws of Germany
Second rule is: Be nice to your mommy
Third rule is: Don't talk to commies
Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamis
How can anyone not love the Ramones?

6. The Sound - Total Recall

Lost 80s classic. Don't worry if you can't remember it - there's probably a hole in your memory.

5. Ben Folds - Rocky

 Ben's Rocky was a runner, not a boxer... a lover, not a fighter, to quote Michael.

4. Julian Cope - Mad Max

From the appropriately named Autogeddon. Julian doesn't need to hold a gun up to your head.

3. The Gorillaz - Dirty Harry

From the band who also brought you Clint Eastwood. Damon must be a fan.

2. Guyz Nite - Die Hard

A tribute to the greatest action movie ever... yippe-ki-yay!
Remember when we first met John McClane?
Argyle picked him up from the plane,
And took him down to Nakatomi Tower...
To meet with Holly.

He came to get her back and to be her man,
But Hans and his buddies fucked up the plan,
And that's about when everything went sour
At the Christmas party.

And the terrorists were over-zealous,
But it was sweet when they killed Ellis!
And, with a little help from Allen,
John McClane kicked ass!
This version has a verse for each of the first four Die Hard movies... I'm waiting patiently for the one with a new fifth verse.

1. Fight Like Apes - (Waking Up With) Robocop

Fight Like Apes are the best "new" band I've discovered in the last 12 months. "New" to me, at least, though they're already two albums in. They're one of those rare bands with crazy song titles... where the songs actually live up to (and in most cases are better than) the titles. Pay attention, Sufjan Stevens! This one, from their most recent album, 'The Body of Christ & The Legs of Tina Turner' is a great male-female argument song.
I remember when you criticised me
About picking The Face over Mr. T
But I remember when you took off
All of your clothes...

If waking up beside me
Feels so bleeding bad
Then waking up with Robocop
Is a lesson to be had
Hear more Fight Like Apes here.

Those were my action movie favourites... which is your Nakatomi Plaza?

Friday 1 March 2013

My Top Ten Paradise Songs

Ten songs about paradise. Even though the closest most of us will ever get is a Bounty bar...

10. Green Day - Welcome To Paradise

It's hard to believe Green Day were ever this young.

9. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Paradise

A lovely solo offering from the Rilo Kiley songstress. What a voice.

8. Stevie Wonder - Pastime Paradise

If you were labouring under the mistaken idea that Coolio wrote Gangster's Paradise, you really ought to give this a listen.

7. Billy Fury - Halfway To Paradise

If Billy really wants to be your lover, but all you'll give him is your friendship... you're leaving him halfway to paradise.

6. Coldplay - Paradise

Fair play to 'em. I did my best to keep this song out of this Top Ten, if only because of its sheer ubiquity. That said, I can't deny it's one of the best tunes Coldplay have written in years, and a genuine earworm. I listened to a lot more paradise songs than just the ten listed here, but the only ones that were honestly better than this (in the humble opinion of my ears) are the ones listed below.

5. Amen Corner - (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice

Andy Fairweather Low and co., a timeless classic from 1969.
Who needs paradise? I'd rather have you...
4. Tony Bennett - Stranger In Paradise

In playlisting terms, this is what we call the calm before the storm. One of my dad's favourites.
Take my hand...
Lovely, rare Saint Etienne cover version here. 

All right, enough of the warm-up acts... let's ROCK!

3. David Lee Roth - Just Like Paradise

A record so monumentally awesome, it's hard to believe it only makes #3. Hell, the video's even got DLR poncing about on vertiginous cliffs, surfing a flying canoe and accompanied by a three-necked, heart-shaped guitar.

God, this reminds me of being 16.

2. Guns 'n' Roses - Paradise City
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Gains extra marks for mentioning Captain America in the lyrics... but still doesn't score high enough to beat this:

1. Meat Loaf - Paradise By The Dashboard Light

Because nothing succeeds like excess.

Jim Steinman's epic tale of teenage fumblings by the light of a dashboard in which Meat and Ellen Foley play the roles of young lovers who might... or might not... go all the way. Depends how well he sweet-talks her... promises her the earth... or flat-out begs. All that and the terrible consequences of promising to love someone forever...

I reckon this'll be one of my more debatable Top Tens - there were loads of great songs left out. Which one takes you to paradise?

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