Thursday 30 May 2013

My Top Ten Glory Songs

I have finally completed my PGCE - glory, hallelujah!

10. Peter Cetera - Glory Of Love

Yes, I am a teenager of the 80s - and proud of it. 

From Karate Kid Part II, in case you were trying to remember.

The Chicago frontman has one EVIL stare in this video. Those are almost BOWIE eyes.

9. Johnny Cash - This Train Is Bound For Glory

A Woody Guthrie anthem that offers a counterpoint to our #2 song. 

8. Leonard Cohen - Morning Glory

Even by Lenny's own bizarre standards, this one's madness.
Is it censorship?
No, it's evaporation.
Ten extra marks if you can even begin to explain what this is about.

7. Ron Sexsmith - Former Glory


6. Jon Bon Jovi - Blaze of Glory

You know you'd have moaned if this hadn't been here. Yes, you would. Don't try to deny it.
I'm a colt in your stable
I'm what Cain was to Abel
Mister Catch Me If You Can
From Young Guns Part II, in case you were trying to remember. I bet Jon By Jovi was bloody cold filming that video.

5. The Clash - Death Or Glory

Just another story...
Now every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world
And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl...
I suppose I could have quoted the lyric about nuns... but I'll leave that to #2.

4. Kathleen Edwards - I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory

A songwriting partnership hits the ropes. Classic Kathleen.
You're cool and cred like Fogerty
I'm Elvis Presley in the 70's
You're Chateauneuf, I'm Yellow Label
You're the buffet, I'm just the table
I'm a Ford Tempo, you're a Maserati
3. Frank Turner - Glory Hallelujah

Put your hands together for Frank's atheist gospel anthem. 

2.  Pulp - Glory Days

The closing track of the greatest album of the 90s. In My Humble Opinion.
Oh and I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it, and I,
I could do anything if only I could get round to it.
Oh, we were brought up on the Space-Race,

Now they expect you to clean toilets.
When you've seen how big the world is,

How can you make do with this?
1. Bruce Springsteen - Glory Days

One of the very best songs of the 80s. If I close my eyes and listen to it now, I can only remember the good parts of being a teenager...
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory of... 
Well, time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister 
But boring stories of glory days

Which one fills you with glory?

P.S. Glorious songs have been saved for another post. Don't mither.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

My Top Ten Rave Songs

Regular readers will know that I'm no great fan of music that's made purely for shaking your bits to, especially if it's made purely for shaking your bits to whilst off your heads on E. Still, while I can't claim to be a raver, I can still spot a top rave tune... (sort of).

10. Plain White T's - Rave

Remember these guys? The Hey There, Delilah bunch? Not just one hit wonders.

9. The Wonder Stuff - A Rave From The Grave

Pretty obscure Stuffies b-side from the excellent Love Bites & Bruises collection.

8. John Moore - Ave The Rave 

Stealing the guitar riff from Elvis Costello's Pump It Up, the third member of Black Box Recorder sends mum and daddy to and early grave on this lost track from his only solo album. Lost, because I can't find a decent link to it online.

7. Cults - Rave On

You've got to be secure in your own abilities when you give your band a name that's a typing mistake waiting to happen.

6. The Courteeners - Welcome To The Rave

From their latest album, Anna, which didn't stay with me as long as I'd expected it to.

5. Jeff Buckley - Witches' Rave

A taste of what might have been from Jeff's never-completed second album, eventually released in demo form as Sketches For My Sweetheart, The Drunk.

4. The Arctic Monkeys - Ravey Ravey Ravey Club

Now, if the rave clubs of my youth had sounded like this, I'd have been there every weekend.

3. The Raveonettes - Let's Rave On

The sonic explosion caused by a collision between Buddy Holly and The Jesus & Mary Chain.

2. Jim Steinman - Stark Raving Love

Mad Jim McMad's first stab at writing Holding Out For A Hero, released on his long forgotten (but epically unforgettable) solo album, Bad For Good. I do probably overuse the word "genius" on this blog, but in Jim Steinman's case, I can never use it enough.

"Too much is never enough..." is pretty much Jim's mantra.

1. Buddy Holly - Rave On

Had to be. One minute 51 seconds of pure pop bliss. 

John Cougar Mellencamp's version is damned fine too. As is the cover by M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel.

Which one gets you raving?

Friday 24 May 2013

My Top Ten Higher Songs

I'm here to take you higher...

10. The Cardigans - Higher


9. Primal Scream - Higher Than The Sun

I find it amusing that the top youtube comment for this song is one word: "Drugs."

8. The Unbelievable Truth - Higher Than Reason

 A song about the problems caused by building a shrine in your front room... from Thom's little brother.

7. Cats On Fire - Higher Grounds

I don't approve of the band name, but the Morrissey-esque lyrics made me a fan...
Stay there for the whole day if you must.
May the seagulls take you,
Well, I don't mind.

Stay there for the whole day, you're not getting paid anyway.
Were getting tired of your antics,
Well, so am I.
6. Sly & The Family Stone - I Want to Take You Higher

This. Is. Seriously. Funky.

5. Black Grape - Get Higher

In which Shaun Ryder has fun by getting Ronald Reagan to confess to Nancy's terrible drug habit.

4. Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground

Also covered by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but the less said about that the better.

3. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel - White Lines

Get higher, baby... and don't ever come down.

On second thoughts... don't do it, Zammo!

2. Steve Winwood - Higher Love

Despite the fact that this song begins with Steve banging a bunch of pan lids in his kitchen... it's still a classic.

Various misheard mondegreens exist for this record, including "Bake me a pie of love", "Baked beans on high or low" and, my personal favourite, "Bring me an iron lung".

1. Jackie Wilson - (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher

Now once, I was downhearted
Disappointment was my closest friend...

Those were my higher loves (or iron lungs)... but which one takes you higher?

Wednesday 22 May 2013

My Top Ten Landslide Songs

Having already survived an avalanche, I thought I'd try my luck with some landslides...

10. Less Than Jake - Landmines & Landslides

If you're familiar with the work of Less Than Jake, this sounds exactly like you'd expect.

9. Slash's Snakepit - Landslide

If you're familiar with the work of Slash, this sounds exactly like you'd expect.(Not always a bad thing.)

8. Alice Cooper - Generation Landslide

From the days when Alice Cooper was the name of the band.

7. Olivia Newton John - Landslide

This video is a classic example of 80s WTF?! 

It begins with Olivia as a sexy business woman (taking off her glasses) before it goes all Hammer horror with sword fights and children dressed as ninjas and then cut-price sci-fi as Olivia tries on her old Wilma Deering costume. Hence: it is genius.

I am proud to come from the generation who grew up knowing her as Olivia Neutron Bomb.

6. Tony Clarke - Landslide

Classic slab of Northern Soul.

5. Fleetwood Mac - Landslide

Stevie Nicks wrote this after an argument with Lindsey Buckingham. See also just about every other Fleetwood Mac song: whoever wrote them, they were generally about the various band members hating each other... or shagging each other... or hating each other again.

A much-covered song... see also versions by the Dixie Chicks  the Smashing Pumpkins and Tori Amos, among others.

4. AC/DC - Landslide
I want you to put your hand in your pocket
Take ten dollars out and send it to me
Loud enough to cause a landslide in solid granite.

3. The Bluetones - Mudslide

I can't shake the feeling I've featured this song before... though god knows when. Did I do a Top Ten Mud Songs?

2. Transvision Vamp - Landslide of Love

You've no idea how close Wendy came to being Number One. Probably my favourite Transvision Vamp song, even if it does rip off the theme tune to Red Dwarf at one point. (Or maybe Red Dwarf ripped this off... I can't be bothered to check which came first.)

I'll play this for my old mate Nota Bene who always gets very excited whenever I throw any TV into these lists... though not because he's a fan of their music. I expect he'll be watching this video with the sound down again, especially since Wendy James appears to have forgotten to wear the back of her dress.

1. Manic Street Preachers - Life Becoming A Landslide

Yep, I'd forgotten how good this was too.
My idea of love comes from
A childhood glimpse of pornography
Though there is no true love
Just a finely tuned jealousy

Which one gets you slip sliding away?

Monday 20 May 2013

My Top Ten Avalanche Songs

Be very, very quiet... we're in avalanche country.

Special mention to The Avalanches and I Am The Avalanche.

10. Manafest - Avalanche

Not sure what I make of Manafest - I may just be too old. Still, points for mentioning Ghost Rider in the lyrics.

9. Matthew Good - Avalanche

No, not the bloke who played Ozymandias in Watchmen. (I did wonder, for a second.)

8. Folks - Avalanche

 Cool northern indie band who aren't getting the airplay they deserve.

7. Guided By Voices - Avalanche Aminos

Noisy nonsense, as are all the best Guided By Voices records.

6. Shawn Colvin - Shotgun Down The Avalanche

Lovely. Haunting. Special.

5. Ryan Adams - Avalanche

Like most of the songs on Love Is Hell, this sounds like a man clinging on by his fingernails.

4. Epica - Avalanche

Epica are described as a "Dutch Goth Metal Band", but for the first 2 and a bit minutes they just sound like Kate Bush fans. Then the devil voice kicks in... although only in short doses. I quite like this: it is sufficiently mental to maintain my interest for nearly 7 minutes. Jim Steinman would be proud. Plus, lead singer Simone Simons is a very pretty lady with the voice of angel. Also, unlike most of the songs on this Top Ten, this one sounds like an ACTUAL AVALANCHE!

3. James - Avalanche

James's stupid record company don't want you to hear this song, so they've blocked it from youtube. Thank god for Grooveshark.

2. Thea Gilmore - Avalanche

New Thea Gilmore album just out - good to see it getting so much attention. I haven't got my copy yet, but only because I'm skint. Thea's long been one of my favourite female singer-songwriters.

1. Leonard Cohen - Avalanche

We need more songs about hunchbacks in love. No, really, we do.
I myself am the pedestal
for this ugly hump at which you stare.
See also Nick Cave's excellent cover.

Which one buries you?

Friday 17 May 2013

My Top Ten She Songs

Ten great songs called "She"... and nothing else.

Interestingly, there are absolutely NO songs in my music library just called "He".

10. Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians - She

Edie Brickell knows where her head is at.

9. The Misfits - She

1 minute and 19 seconds long and it sounds like it was recorded on the back of a fag packet. That's proper punk for you.

Apparently this particular She was Patty Hearst.

8. Suede - She
No education, it's the arse of the nation
Must be one of my students.

7. Laura Mvula - She

One of this year's best new female voices. Keep an ear out for her.

6. Wicked Lester - She

Before Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley became Kiss, they were Wicked Lester. They recorded one album in 1971 that wasn't ever officially released. This track was later re-recorded by Kiss themselves with more guitars and less flute, but I quite like the folkier original.

5. The Sundays - She

Remember your old school discos? Harriet Wheeler does...
Just to be one of a crowd
Feet scuttling across the floor
Spinning lights round and round
And it’s adolescent war
Shoes grind kick like crazy
And arms tangling up with hair
Shaking them up and down again
And hearts pounding everywhere
Ah, Harriet. Isn't it about time for a Sundays reunion?

4. Green Day - She

From the days when Green Day looked like spoilt brat 12 year olds. Forgotten how much I loved this album...
Are you locked up in a world
That's been planned out for you?
Are you feeling like a social tool without a use?
3.  Gram Parsons - She

Get out your dictionary. Look up the word "mellow". This song is playing.


2. The Monkees / The Colourfield - She

Normally if there's more than one version of a song, I can choose the best. But Mickey Dolenz vs. Terry Hall? That's too tough to call. Although the Phil Spector kettle drum and the ironic video almost tip it in Terry's favour.

1. Elvis Costello - She

On the other hand, with all due respect to Charles Aznovoice (and even though it comes from a sucky Richard Curtis film), nobody sings this one quite like Elvis.

So - how was it for you? She... or sheeeeit?

Wednesday 15 May 2013

My Top Ten (Specific) Mountain Songs

There are hundreds of songs that feature the word "mountain" in their title, and climbing mountains as a way of demonstrating your love is one of the biggest songwriting clichés going. But these are my favourite songs about specific mountains, ones you could actually go climb... if you so wished.  

10. Tribes - Himalaya

A suitably epic sounding guitarathon. 

9. Beth Orton - Mount Washington

Turns out there are dozens of Mount Washingtons in North America - 15 in the USA alone, plus one in Canada. They'd all have to go some to be as beautiful as Beth Orton's song though.

8. Don McLean - Mountains O'Mourne

Originally written by Percy French back in 1896, perfectly suited to McClean's storytelling singing style.  

7. Doves - Snowden

Doves might have climbed higher had they spelled Snowdon correctly. As it is, I'm not actually sure this has anything to do with Wales's highest peak. 

6. Joe Walsh - Rocky Mountain Way

This is one mountain where you're guaranteed to see an Eagle. Badum-tish.

See also John Denver - Rocky Mountain High.

5. Half Man Half Biscuit - Lord Hereford’s Knob

Another Welsh mountain, otherwise known as Twmpa (hence "Could this be heaven, would that be the Severn? Twmpa, Twmpa, you’re gonna need a jumper"), inspires one of Nigel Blackwell's many songs about hill-walking and mountain-climbing... with a smattering of innuendo to warm the cockles.
Ever since the chattering classes invaded Hebden Bridge
And priced the likes of me and mine
To the pots of the Pennine Ridge
To South East Wales I was forced to flee
And now I have no job
That’s why tonight I’m sitting on top of Lord Hereford’s Knob
4. Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains

Like the ghost of a song heard on an impossible radio. Gorgeous.

Of course, the Blue Ridge Mountains were also popular with Laurel & Hardy fans.

3. Babyshambles - Killamangiro

A terrible pun, but a great song. 

See also Kilimanjaro by the Teardrop Explodes which is a classic album, although the title track wasn't on the original track listing and isn't available to link to anywhere on t'internet.

2. Modest Mussorgsky - A Night On Bare (Bald) Mountain

And now for something even older than The Mountains of Mourne - a truly majestic piece of Classical music, though there's some debate over whether the Russian translation of the title should be 'bare' or 'bald'... or, indeed, whether the version we're all familiar with owes slightly more to Rimsky-Korsakov than Mussorgsky. I don't claim to be an expert. 

1. The Supernaturals - Everest

The world's biggest mountain... and one of the best songs the Supernaturals ever recorded, gently mocking the whole "my love is bigger than a mountain" metaphor mentioned earlier.
I bought a goldfish to keep me company
In these dark days when you're not here with me
I walk round Safeway on my own
Look in the freezer cabinet, see my reflection and I'm all alone

You dropped me like a waitress drops a tray...

Those were my SPECIFIC mountain songs... remember, Ain't No Mountain High Enough doesn't count.

Which will you be climbing tonight?

Friday 10 May 2013

My Top Ten Reflection Songs

Sometimes these Top Tens are a challenge... but worth the effort if you stick with them.

10. Marilyn Manson - No Reflection

I'm not the world's biggest Marilyn Manson fan, but I like the fact that his real name is Brian... and he's made a career out of our #3 artist's old socks.

9. The Selecter - Red Reflections

Pauline Black thinks that if loneliness were a colour, it'd be all white... so why is she seeing red reflections in her mirror tonight?

8. MGMT - Future Reflections

No idea.

Still, pretty groovy.

7. Donovan - Summer Day Reflection

Sick of this long, cold winter? Close your eyes and listen to this.(This is an indication of how long ago I wrote this particular post. Still, no one reads these bits so I'm not going to change it now.)

6. Spider-Man - Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero

OK, it's not actually by Spider-Man. Most of this record was recorded by a little known US rock band called Crack The Sky. The LP was released by Marvel (and Lifesong Records) back in 1975, a full rock opera narrated by Stan 'The Man' Lee himself (natch).

So it predates the woeful Turn Off The Dark musical by a good 30 years... and better yet, Bono and The Edge had absolutely nothing to do with it. 

5. Half Man Half Biscuit - Reflections In A Flat

A love story told through a rhyme scheme that doesn't quite work. Another slice of HMHB genius.
Oh darling sugar honey
When it was nice and sunny
And when I had some money
We would go and see Echo And The Bunny
4. Bobby Womack featuring Lana Del Rey - Dayglo Reflection

From last year's all-conquering album that bestowed upon its creator the title of "coolest man" alive... until the next one comes along. Nice collaboration, anyway.

3. Sisters of Mercy - Lucretia, My Reflection

The older I get, the more hilarious I find Andrew Eldritch.

2. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Reflections

It was a close call for Number One and you'll probably say I chose the wrong one. Whatever, they're both damn fine records.

1. The Marmalade - Reflections Of My Life

Another classic 60s hit that still sounds fresh - and when the harmony vocal comes in repeating, "all my crying" and "all my sorrow", the hairs on the back of my neck always stand up. The Marmalade (the 'The' is apparently optional) are still touring today... I doubt they would have been if they'd stuck with their original name, "The Gaylords".

I have a very special fondness for Kevin Rowland's heartbreakingly camp showtune version too. Though perhaps not the outfit he wore on the album cover. 

Which one is staring a back at you from your pop mirror?

Wednesday 8 May 2013

My Top Ten Diane & Diana Songs

Ten songs you just can't hold a candle (in the wind) to...

10. Paul Anka - Diana
I'm so young and you're so old...
As chat up lines go, Paul, how's that one working for you?

If I were you, I'd stick with, "did you know I wrote My Way?"

9. Everything Everything - Come Alive, Diana

Featuring the phantom head of the late Princess...
Line the streets, Diana, 
With armoured cars, 
Oh column inch, timeless inch 
Can you inch another centimetre closer to hearts and minds? 
You'll win them yet.
Don't ask me. I just play them.

8. Prefab Sprout - Diana
Her eyes china blue saucers, she's born that way
She tastes of apple strudel, you can tell she does
With arms that hold sweet William to her breast
On the other hand, only Paddy McAloon could write an affectionate tribute to the former Queen of Hearts... that I don't hate on principle.
The darling of, the darling of, creation of the editor
I guess that's what, suppose that's what she's for
I hope they're crying in their sleep for promises they cannot keep
For disappointments rooted deep
That's why the boys and girls love Diana
7. Hüsker Dü - Diane

A very creepy song, polished and sanitised into a hit by Therapy?

6. Lily Rae & The Saturday Girls - Diane

As opening lines go, these take some beating...
Why do you stay with him?
You never liked him anyway...
The boy's a knob.
5. Fleetwood Mac - Oh, Diane

Surprisingly absent from most Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits albums, yet it was one of their biggest UK hits. Being mostly a Lindsey Buckingham song... perhaps Stevie doesn't like it?

4. Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana

I always thought this was about MJ's old Motown mate, Diana Ross. But apparently not.

This, on the other hand...

3. The Concretes - Diana Ross

 The Concretes listen in to Diana Ross till they get a Love Hangover.

2. Vampire Weekend - Diane Young

A new entry, in with a bullet, the first track from the new Vampire Weekend album, sounding as good as the stuff on the first album... and better than anything on the second. Great news all round.

1. John Cougar-Mellencamp - Jack & Diane

A little ditty that became one of the greatest rock songs of the 80s. And there's so much innuendo and philosophy in the lyrics, you'd think Jarvis Cocker wrote it. 
Oh yeah, live goes on... long after the thrill of living is gone.

Which one would you Di for?

Sunday 5 May 2013

My Top Ten Time-Poor Songs

We live in a time-poor time. None of us have enough time (to quote Michael Hutchence) for all that we want to do. I certainly don't have enough time at the moment... and I imagine I'll have even less once I become a father later this year. So let's stop and consider... how very precious our time is.

10. Huey Lewis & The News - We're Not Here for a Long Time (We're Here for a Good Time)

Wise words.

9. Cranberries - Time Is Ticking Out

This could easily have fit into my Top Ten End of the World Songs... or my Top Ten Wizard of Oz Songs (since the video seems to suggest the Yellow Brick Road might have been a side effect of Chernobyl).

8. Clifford T. Ward - Time, the Magician

A couple reminisce on their past and how Time, The Magician, has played a few old tricks on them... as it does on us all.

7. Booker T & The MGs - Time Is Tight

It may only be an instrumental and therefore have nothing more in common with the theme of this Top Ten than its title... but it's still a stone cold classic. 

6. George Michael - Praying For Time

It seems odd to be holding up a song written 20+ years ago by George Flippin' Michael as an apt statement on the world today... but in light of recent political shenanigans, damn this is timely!

5. Jim Croce - Time In A Bottle
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with
4. Chris Farlowe - Out of Time

There was once a time the Rolling Stones gave away songs like this for other people to have hits with. 

3. INXS - Not Enough Time

The only band to make it into both my Time and Time-Poor Top Tens. They certainly didn't have enough.

2. Divine Comedy - Timestretched

Just gorgeous. 
There's not enough hours in the day
To say all that I want to say
There's not enough days in the week
And weeks go by quicker than drunks knock back liquor
1. The Beautiful South - A Little Time

One of Paul Heaton's most bittersweet duets, beautifully performed by Dave Hemingway and Brianna Corrigan... the video is priceless.
Funny how quick the milk turns sour, isn't it? Isn't it? 

Do you have time to leave a comment?

Thursday 2 May 2013

My Top Ten Time Songs

There are hundreds of songs about time... but these are all called Time, and nothing else.

We'll deal with some of the others... when I have the time.

10. Marion - Time

Hey, remember Marion?

No, me neither.


9. Dennis Wilson - Time

From the classic solo album Pacific Ocean Blue that proved Dennis to be more than just Brian's brother.

8. Ben Folds - Time
And in time I will fade away
In time I won't care what you say
In time, but time takes time you know
7. Pink Floyd - Time

Other people would have placed this much higher, I have no doubt. Maybe even at Number One.

Me, sorry, I never had that much time for the Floyd...

6. Codeine Velvet Club - Time
A toast to life and its bitter ironies.
5. INXS - Time
Well, it's only time.
It's only that makes you... 
It's only time that breaks you.
As with a lot INXS lyrics, you can look back now and hear a lot of foresight.

4. Supergrass - Time

Not listened to this in years... it brings back memories of good times.

3. Tom Waits - Time

Wonderfully smokey, late night storytelling.

2. Freddie Mercury - Time

Could have been Number One, just for being Freddie. But time waits for nobody... not even him. From the musical of the same name, written by Dave Clark.

1. David Bowie - Time
Time, he flexes like a whore
Falls wanking to the floor
Indeed. Apparently they released that as a single in America without any edits because nobody knew what wanking was.

Which do you have most Time for?
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