Friday 28 June 2013

My Top Ten Lust Songs (Seven Deadly Sins #1)

Here's a Top Ten theme I originally came up with about seven years ago (for the old blog) but never got round to posting it. I'm not going to run them consecutively as that'd get boring, but I'll drop one in every now and then over the next few weeks.

The first deadly sin is lust. Turns out there's enough songs with lust in the title that I don't have to cast my net any further. That won't be the case with the rest of the sins...

10. The Raveonettes - Lust

From the album Lust Lust Lust.

Points deducted for trying too hard.

9. Sportsday Megaphone - Young Lust

Never lend the house to lovers, they leave stains... one for the Top Ten Opening Lines chart too.

8. Frank Turner - Wanderlust

Darling, he's leaving.

See also Wanderlust by Delays, Wanderlust by REM and Wanderluster by Band of Skulls.

7. Neon Neon featuring Cate Le Bon - I Lust U

No relation to Simon, you'll be pleased to hear.

This song probably has more than a passing resemblance to People Are People by our Number Three band today. Still.

And while we're with Gruff Rhys, have Atomik Lust be the Super Furries. No extra charge.

6. Skint & Demoralised - Only Lust Ignores Violence Involving Ambulances

Wakefield's finest contemporary beat poet stumbles across a girl he fancies in the local pub... then gets beaten up by her boyfriend for his sins.
It's the kind of look that shits you up
In so many different ways
It's the size of his eyes and he won't give up
Transfixed with a piercing gaze
I can get the gist
This guy's pissed
And if I don't move, he'll use his fists
See that the violence stops
5. The The - Dogs Of Lust

Featuring Johnny Marr, on guitar. 'Nuff said.

4. Juliana Hatfield - Just Lust

It doesn't mean she loves you. It doesn't even mean she likes you very much.

See also Just Lust by Joan Jett and Just Lust by The Buzzcocks

3. Depeche Mode - A Question Of Lust

Dave Gahan sits one out and lets Martin Gore (with his pink mushroom cloud hair) sing this one. Their follow up single was A Question Of Time. The third in the trilogy, a proposed duet with David Coleman, Emlyn Hughes and Bill Beaumont, sadly never made it to the studio*.

(*Showing my age there,  know.)

2. The Long Blondes - Lust In The Movies
I know all about fear and desire
I know all about lust et cetera
I know all about missing The Long Blondes.

1. Iggy Pop - Lust For Life

Iggy, Bowie and the Supremes combine for a song that's worth a million in prizes. Of course you've had it in your ear before...

Choose life!

But feel free to choose another lust song if you prefer... 

Wednesday 26 June 2013

My Top Ten Carpentry Songs

My dad is a joiner by trade, and though he didn't pass any of those woodworking skills on to me, I think he's proud that at least one of his grandsons did follow him into the trade. A joiner is a carpenter, in case you were wondering, though arguably more skilled... I'll let you google the arguments on that one. 

Special mentions to The Carpenters (of course), Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cold Chisel, Woodkid, Harrison Ford, Jesus and Ron Swanson...

(Ron Swanson ROCKS.)

10. Paul Weller - Woodcutter's Son

I guess this could be about me...
You better give me the chance
I'll cut you down with a glance
Yeh, with my small axe - so help me,
And tho' I'm only one
And tho' weak, I'm strong
And if it comes to the crunch
Then I'm the woodcutter's son
And I'm cutting down the wood for the good of everyone!
Erm... perhaps not.

9. Bob Dylan - The House Carpenter

A traditional folk song ghost story, recorded by Bob and a bunch of other people. Nice guitar work on this one, Robert.

8. Robert Plant - Big Log

OK, I admit it, this one's a stretch even for me. But it's a great song just looking for a bandsaw to cut it into planks...

7. John Prine - Grandpa Was A Carpenter
He built houses, stores and banks
Chain-smoked Camel cigarettes
And hammered nails in planks
Nice work if you can get it.

6. Idlewild - These Wooden Ideas

All good carpentry projects have to start somewhere...
Don't be real - be post-modern!
5. The Avett Brothers - The Once & Future Carpenter
Once I was a carpenter, man my hands were calloused
I could swing a metal mallet sure and straight
But I took to the highway, a poet young and hungry
And I left the timbers rotting where they lay
Lovely stuff from the new Avett Brothers record.

4. Eddie Floyd - Knock On Wood

What else do carpenters do? (If you believe this song is a euphemism for something else entirely... shame on you.)

See also the excellent versions by David Bowie, Amii Stewart and Emma 'Gwen Stacy' Stone... among others. The original's still the best though.

3. Aberfeldy - If I Were A Joiner

Joiners are better than plain old carpenters. According to my dad, anyway.
If I were a joiner
You know what I'd do?
Put up a shelf

All about you.
2. The Four Tops - If I Were A Carpenter

Written by Tim Hardin, recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash and Bob Seger to Robert Plant and Leonard Nimoy... but it was the Four Tops version that originally chiselled its way into my heart.

I know... you thought this was going to be Number One, didn't you? So did I, until I remembered...

1. Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon - Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartbreak

He's a carpenter of love and affection!

I could have chosen the equally smashing (if slightly less legible) cover by Dexys Midnight Runners... but that didn't have Pan's People dancing like this...

Which one gives you wood?


Monday 24 June 2013

My Top Ten Martial Arts Songs

A man may listen to many records, grasshopper. But only these songs will karate chop his soul.

10. Shitdisco - I Know Kung Fu

Of course, you're always going to get extra marks for calling your band Shitdisco...

9. Zoey Van Goey - You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate

...probably more marks than you get for calling your band Zoey Van Goey. Still, that's not to say you can't earn those marks back by writing cracking songs. Great video too.
I do the dumbest things for you
Why do I do the dumbest things for you?
I almost broke my collar bone
I didn't care; you were the most exciting thing I'd every known.
8. Tenacious D - Karate

Well, it made me laugh. Could also have made it into my Top Ten MF Songs.

7. Fight Like Apes - Do You Karate?

No one uses profanity in their lyrics better than FLA. Well, apart from John Grant. Take THAT!

6. Soulwax - Overweight Karate Kid

Soulwax were a great band who decided they preferred being DJs. Shame.
Like an overweight Karate Kid 
You could moonwalk over my heart
5. Curtis Mayfield - Kung Fu

Johnny Cash's dad named him Sue. Curtis's mum called him Kung Fu.

4. Brad Paisley - Karate

Why did nobody tell me Brad Paisley had a new record out? Do I always have to find these things out myself?

Wheelhouse could be his best album yet...

3. Ash - Kung Fu

This record is 2 minutes 10 seconds long (plus 7 seconds of karate kicks at the beginning). Which is a hell of a lot shorter than the songs in my last post.Yet it's better than all of them (with the possible exception of the Gershwin).

Ah, 1996... how I miss you.

2. John Grant - Black Belt

It may only be June, but I'll be hella-surprised if Pale Green Ghosts isn't my Best Album of 2013 come December. The bar has been set pretty high by John Grant, can anyone top it? 
What you got is a black belt in B-S
But you can't hawk your pretty wares up in here anymore
Hit your head on the playground at recess
Etch-a-sketch your way out of this one, reject
1. Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting

Had to be, didn't it? For a novelty record, this still sounds fresh. Or perhaps I've just been hit in the head a few times too many. And if this isn't cool enough for you, check out Robyn Hitchcock's cover...

Hiiiiii-ya! Which one makes you want to walk the earth like Caine?

Friday 21 June 2013

My Top Ten Longest Songs

As today is the longest day of the year, I thought I'd try something different. Rather than my favourite songs on any particular subject, these are simply the longest tracks in my music player. I've discounted any that were lengthy due to a huge block of silence before a "hidden" track at the end of an album. Each of these really are as long as they say they are...

10. The Hours - See The Light

14 minutes, 17 seconds.

Title track from the second (and last?) Hours album, the full LP version clocks in at just under quarter of an hour. A much shorter version was released as a single, remixed by Calvin Harris (i.e. not as good) and featuring Sienna Miller going bonkers in the video.

9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Babe, I'm On Fire

14 minutes, 46 seconds.

Everyone says it, from the horse and the pig to the judge in his wig, the blind referee and unlucky amputee to the giant killer bee landing on my knee... and so on and so on and so on...

See also the majestic O'Malley's Bar which clocks in at a mighty 14 minutes 28 seconds and remains one of my all-time favourite Nick Cave recordings.

8. Spiritualized - Cop Shoot Cop...

16 minutes, 12 seconds.

From an album that originally came sealed in a huge, CD-shaped blister pack that you had to pop open / tear the foil before you could play the record. The track is listed as being 17 minutes 13 seconds long but it actually ends at 16' 12" before a minute's silence. Which is nice.

7. Joni Mitchell - Paprika Plains

16 minutes, 19 seconds.

Side 2 of the album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Mitchell apparently improvised the piano on the initial recording of this epic before adding orchestral flourishes to the finished mix. It's the sort of record you have to turn the lights down and listen to from start to finish... the sort of record our attention-span deficit way of listening to music these days means we'll rarely see the like of again.

6. George Gershwin - An American In Paris / Rhapsody In Blue

16 minutes, 34 seconds.

I left out the classical music from this countdown (yes, there is some in my collection!) as it would have unfairly dominated. I couldn't exclude Gershwin however, that wonderful bridge between classical and pop. There are various versions of An American In Paris (many full orchestra versions are over 18 minutes) but I stuck with the Gershwin Plays Gershwin version I own, though the one on youtube isn't quite up to mine.

Even better is Rhapsody In Blue at 14 minutes, 24 seconds... sheer bliss!

5. Neil Young - Ordinary People 

18 minutes, 12 seconds.

From the album Chrome Dreams II, which also features the 14 minute, 33 second No Hidden Path, which would have squeezed its way onto this chart had I not restricted myself to one long song per artist.

4. Love - Revelation

19 minutes, 4 seconds.

The whole of Side 2 of Love's second album is this one track. Originally named John Lee Hooker, it's pretty much Arthur Lee and mates jamming in the studio till the tape runs out, though the title suggests it has something in common with our Number One song too.

3. Sonic Youth - The Diamond Sea

19 minutes, 36 seconds.

From the album Washing Machine. A five and a half minute single edit was released also (along with a 26 minute "alternative ending" version that would have put this at Number One, except I don't own that version). A pretty cool song, though the last ten minutes is largely piano and feedback, so all in all I'll stick with the single.

2. Paddy McAloon - I Trawl The Megahertz

22 minutes, 6 seconds.

I'm a huge Prefab Sprout fan, so when I first heard Paddy's solo album, I was slightly disappointed. It's very different from the Sprout, but I guess that's the point. Paddy only actually sings on one song and the title track features a story poem narrated by Yvonne Connors. It's a haunting listen, made all the more poignant when you realise it reflects McAloon's worsening eye condition and the lonely nights he spent with only voices on the radio for company.

1. Genesis - Supper's Ready 

22 minutes, 54 seconds.

Originally from the album Foxtrot, though my copy comes from the 3-disc Platinum Collection. To be honest, I've only listened to this all the way through a couple of times. It's interesting in places, but perhaps a little bit too prog even for me. Gabriel described it as, "a personal journey that ends up walking through [The Book of Revelation]". Amusingly though, it all begins with him walking across his sitting room and turning off the telly...

Of course, it's not the length that matters, it's what you do with it.

What's your longest song?

Wednesday 19 June 2013

My Top Ten Superman Songs

There's a new Superman movie out and I'm reserving judgment till I've see it. Much as I'm a huge comic book fan, I always had problems with Superman as a character... yet there's no disputing his impact on popular culture. The Superman Homepage has compiled a list of 566 (and counting) pop songs that reference the Man of Steel... and, no, I didn't listen to all of them in preparation for this countdown. Just the ten (ahem) or so I found in my own record collection... 

Special mentions to The Superman Revenge Squad (who pop up here quite often anyway), Klark Kent, and Black Lace. (Go on, hitch a ride to the 80s wedding disco. You had to be there. Macho man!)

10. Laurie Anderson - O Superman

As annoying as Black Lace were... be honest now, is the full 8 1/2 minutes of Laurie Anderson's biggest hit any less so?

(You also had to be there.)

See also Sueperman's Big Sister by Ian Dury, which was apparently spelled that way to "avoid copyright issues". Like that bothered anyone else on this chart. 

9. Straw - Weird Superman

Lost indie classic you've never heard of alert!

See also Superman's Song by the Crash Test Dummies, which is TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD. F@#k me. Oh, and Jimmy Olsen's Blues by The Spin Doctors from a similar era.

8. Robyn Hitchcock - Superman

In which Robyn finds a crunchy little Superman in his cornflake box. Don't ask me, I just play them.

7. REM - Superman

Not an original REM song, this was originally recorded by The Clique back in 1969. Their version's pretty groovy too.

6. Cinerama - Superman

David Gedge has written songs about Superman, Spider-Man, The Hulk... even Dan Dare. And (going back to Superman), he even named one of his albums Bizarro. Good lad!

5. Frank Black - Man of Steel

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Super-Pixie!

From the soundtrack to... erm, the X-Files TV show.

See also Man of Steel by Meat Loaf, which is pretty cool too, considering it wasn't written by Jim Steinman.

See also The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts by Sufjan Stevens. Cheating much to squeeze all these in, Rol?   

4. The Kinks - (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman

The Kinks go disco... well, it was 1979.
Woke up this morning, started to sneeze
I had a cigarette and a cup of tea
I looked in the mirror what did I see
A nine stone weakling with knobbly knees
I did my knees bend press ups touch my toes
I had another sneeze and I blew my nose
I looked in the mirror at my pigeon chest
I had to put on my clothes because it made me depressed
Surely there must be a way
For me to change the shape I'm in
Dissatisfied is what I am
I want to be a better man
3. Gil Scott Heron - Ain't No Such Thing As Superman

Way cooler than any song about Superman ever deserves to be.

And if you think that's groovy: check out Superman Lover by Johnny Guitar Watson. Ain't that a bitch!

2. Donovan - Sunshine Superman

Might have been Number One, but lost points for also mentioning Green Lantern.

However rubbish you might think Superman is, Green Lantern is ten times rubbisher.

See also Superlungs, My Supergirl. Only in the 60s.

(And, if we're mentioning Kara Zor-El, we should spare a moment for You're Really Super, Supergirl by XTC. And if we're mentioning XTC, we should spare a moment for Braniac's Daughter by The Dukes of Stratosphere. Phew.)

1. The Flaming Lips - Waitin' For A Superman

The Flaming Lips' Superman song is actually better than their Spider-Man song which, frankly, is just perverse.
Tell everybody waiting for Superman
That they should try to hold on best they can
He hasn't dropped them, forgot them, or anything
It's just too heavy for Superman to lift

OK, so a certain amount of rule-breaking went into the compilation of this particular Top Twenty-some... but there's no denying, there were some super tunes.

Which one makes you want to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

Monday 17 June 2013

My Top Ten Prostitute Songs

Inspired by this idiot in Solihull, a Top Ten that might get me sued for breaching the Sale of Goods Act... if I had the nerve to charge for it.

There are, of course, thousands of songs about the oldest profession. I compiled a pretty extensive list, then whittled it down to these ten... though I'm sure I forgot more than I remembered...

10. Tina Turner - Private Dancer

Written by Mark Knopfler, Tina's voice gives this a real sense of pathos, for all its eighties sheen. The video's utter bollocks though.
All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don't look at their faces
And you don't ask their names
You don't think of them as human
You don't think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
Keeping your eyes on the wall
9. Iron Maiden - Charlotte The Harlot

A typically restrained, some might say poignantly tragic, character study...
Taking so many men to your room, don't you feel no remorse?
You charge them a fiver, it's only for starters.
And ten for the main course.
And you've got no feelings, they died long ago.
Don't you care who you let in?
And don't you know you're breaking the law with the service you're giving?
Oh, and some moral finger-wagging too. Lovely. 

8. Hall & Oates - Family Man

Lots of prostitution going on in the eighties, obviously. This one, written and originally recorded by Mike Oldfield, sees Daryl Hall tempted despite being a married man while John Oates has to pay extra to get anyone to snog his Bobby Ball 'tache. The video is like all your worst nightmares of 1983 rolled into six minutes of hell, filmed on Queen's discarded set for I Want To Break Free. Then it goes all David Lynch...

7. Nick Cave - Jubilee Street

From the latest Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds record, Push The Sky Away, though it's grubby enough to be a Grinderman offcut. Beware: the full, uncensored video is NSFW, featuring, as it does, gratuitous shots of Ray Winstone in nothing but his pants (plus assorted lady-bits).
The problem was she had a little black book
And my name was written on every page
A girl's got to make ends meet even on Jubilee Street
6. Bruce Springsteen - Candy's Room

One of my favourite songs from Darkness On The Edge Of Town, though I have to confess my ignorance regarding the subject matter despite belting out the lyrics full blast as young man...
Strangers from the city, 
Call my baby's number and bring her toys,
When I come knocking, she smiles pretty, 

She knows I wanna be Candy's boy,
There's a sadness hidden in that pretty face, 

A sadness all her own, 
From which no man can keep Candy safe.
5. O.C. Smith - The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp

How do you feel when your mum's a prostitute?
Oh, you know, the path was deep and wide
From footsteps leading to our cabin
Above the door there burned a scarlet lamp
And late at night a hand would knock
And there would stand a stranger
Yes, I'm the son of Hickory Hollers tramp
Proud, if she only did it to keep food on the table...
When Momma sacrificed her pride
The neighbours started talking
But we were much too young
To understand the things they said
All we really cared about
Was Mommas chicken dumplings
And a goodnight kiss
Before we went to bed
4. Morrissey - Picadilly Palare

Of course, it's not just women who turn to prostitution when times get desperate. Here, Mozzer goes off the rails again and ends up plying an ancient trade round Earl's Court while learning the slang that keeps his business a mystery to strangers. Bona to vada!

See also Rent by The Pet Shop Boys in which Neil Tennant has to chauffeur Margi Clarke while Chris Lowe wanders around Kings Cross looking shifty in black and white. But it's OK, it's not about male prostitution at all, Margi and Chris are in love... (Who reckons the record company forced that ending on them?)

3. The Police - Roxanne

Possibly the most famously po-faced, cod-reggae pop song ever written about prostitution... I do still love it. Not that I can take it seriously anymore, largely because of this:

2. Flight of the Conchords - You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute

Poor Jemaine. His pants are too tight, he can't afford cab fair home, he just can't see his way out...
The streets are cruel, 
He tries to act cool, 
He goes to work with only his one tool 
You can put away your tool, Jemaine...
You don't have to be, a prostitute 
No no no no no 
You can say no, to being a man hoe 
A male gigolo
You don't have to be, a prostitute
No no no no no
You can say no to being a night looker, boy hooker, rent boy, bro, hoe
1. Elvis Costello - Love For Sale

Written by Cole Porter in 1930 for the musical The New Yorkers, though I was unaware of that when I first heard Elvis's cover as a teenager. Despite discovering many other fine recordings of the song since, this will always be my favourite.
When the only sound in the empty street,
Is the heavy tread of the heavy feet
That belong to a lonesome cop
I open shop.
When the moon so long has been gazing down
On the wayward ways of this wayward town.
That her smile becomes a smirk,
I go to work.

Love for sale,
Appetising young love for sale.
Love that's fresh and still unspoiled,
Love that's only slightly soiled,
Love for sale.

So... which one makes you want to put on your red light?

Friday 14 June 2013

My Top Ten Hammer Songs

Stop - Hammer time!

Lots of fine hammer records were listened to while compiling this Top Ten... and I could have tried to be much cooler by including Captain Beefheart, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and Motorhead. But in the end, these are the ones that hammered their way into my head...

(Special mention to the man with a mind to rhyme and two hyped feet, of course. You really can't touch him.)

10. Huey Lewis & The News - It Hit Me Like A Hammer

Late period Huey, from when I was the only one still buying his records. Huey always makes me smile though...

9. The Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Another of Macca's annoying nursery rhymes, this is probably the worst thing on Abbey Road. Still historic.

8. Bob Marley - Hammer

Don't tease Bob Marley. He has a hammer and he's not afraid to use it.

7. The Breeders - Divine Hammer

Video directed by Spike Jonze. It features a floating nun Kim Deal. Unsurprisingly for Spike Jonze.

6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Hammer Song
Many miles did I roam
Through the ice and through the snow
My horse died on the seventh day

I stumbled into a city
Where the people tried to kill me
And I ran in shame

Then I came upon a river
And I laid my saddle down
And then the hammer came down
Lord, the hammer came down
Wonderfully apocalyptic storytelling from Nick, though there is a bit in the song that reminds me of the theme tune to John Craven's Newsround... but I'm kinda damaged like that.

5. Banjo & Sullivan - I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)

With a title like that, what else do you need? A song that lives up to it? Amazingly, this succeeds.

4. Kate Bush - Hammer Horror

In which Kate romances both the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Invisible Man (judging by the video which is both sexy and scary).

3. Peter, Paul & Mary - If I Had A Hammer

Written by Pete Seeger back in 1949, this was recorded by everyone from Trini Lopez to Sam Cooke to Leonard Nimoy (not entirely logical, though the video is entertaining). However, the version above is probably the most historic, as performed by Peter, Paul & Mary during the Civil Rights March on Washington DC in 1963.

See also If I Had A Hammer by American Music Club which steals the title for entirely different purposes.

2. Queen - Hammer To Fall
Every night and every day, a little piece of me is falling away.
Stone cold classic.
Give it to me one more time!
1. Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

Not only one of the best videos of the 80s, but one of the best pop songs to boot.

Plus, it always reminds me of the excellent David Rasche... Detective Sledge Hammer.

Which would be your honey bee?

Wednesday 12 June 2013

My Top Ten Seaside Town Songs

Summer's here and the time is right for ice cream, donkey rides, deck chairs, fish and chips and slot machines...

Here's ten songs about British seaside towns where everyday isn't like Sunday...

10. Chas & Dave - Margate

It was this or Scarborough Fair. And much as I love both Scarborough and Simon & Garfunkel, there's something about Scarborough Fair that represents folk music at its most twee. Call me a philistine, but I'd rather have lyrics that sing, "Behave yourself grandad, or you won’t be going..." than, "Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme". Maybe when I compile my Top Ten Herb Songs...

See also Mussels of Margate, written by Kurt Weill. Seriously, you can't make stuff like that up.

9. Mark Eitzel - Southend On Sea

The lead singer of American Music Club probably isn't the first person you'd expect to hear singing a song about Southend... maybe that's why it works so well. Told from the perspective of "just another ugly American melting in the heat"...
You said to me
"You're from California
And you're as dumb as can be"
You said to me
"Are you the Scarecrow, the Tin Man
Or are you Dorothy?"
You said to me
"I'm beginning to think that you're
A part of the enemy"
You said to me
"If I was drowning would you save me
From Southend-on-Sea?"
8. Athlete - Dungeness

OK, so Dungeness isn't strictly a seaside town, it's a headland with a beach, a nuclear power plant and Derek Jarman's cottage on it. But let's pretend it's a big holiday destination, shall we? This song is quite, quite lovely.

7. Half Man Half Biscuit - She's In Broadstairs

Gets many extra marks for mentioning Filey, because Filey is ace.
Maybe she could tell her
I’ve still got her umbrella
She prized it rather highly
It saved her once in Filey
It came on all torrential
And therefore it’s essential
The band Luxembourg also had a song called Broadstairs but the internet hasn't ever heard of it.

6. Philip Jeays - Eastbourne

This is the last resort... I think Philip may be suggesting Eastbourne is full of pensioners.

5. Glasvegas - The Prettiest Thing On Saltcoats Beach

To quote my old music blogging hero, JC, The Vinyl Villain, "the b-side (to Geraldine) is a rather lovely romantic song about one of the least romantic coastal towns on Planet Earth." I've never been to Saltcoats so I'll have to bow to his native knowledge.

4. Luke Haines & The Auteurs - Bugger Bognor

The apochryphal last words of King George V, set to lush orchestration by the perennially grumpy southern Englishman...
Our business affairs are at the receivers
Our assets frozen
There's not much between us
So we put it on a horse
Called 'It's Grim Up North'    
3. Cud - Only (A Prawn In Whitby)

My favourite seaside town (I may even be there as you read this); I can think of at least two people who read this blog who would probably have made this Number One. And who knows, they may well be right.

2. The Beautiful South - Oh, Blackpool

Why do political parties always hold their conferences in seaside towns? Is it just so the waster politicians can ride the donkeys wearing Kiss Me Quick hats? A scathing attack on the Liberal Party (SDP) of the late 80s, this is "somewhat" dated now, but it still sounds wonderful. And there's no mention of Nick Clegg, which is always a bonus.
They wore enamel badges of
David Steel on their sleeves
And "nuclear power no thanks",
"Not sure" and "yes please!"
And their faces were two fold
And their teeth they were gold
And they wore their pinstripe suits
With a rip at the knee
I'm out tonight and can't decide
Between Soviet hip or British pride
See also Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier by The Manics, which already did very well in My Top Ten Songs About Elvis.

1. Queen - Brighton Rock

Songs about badgers, marrying Anita Dobson, that hair... Bryan May's crimes against cool are considerable. But it's possible to forgive him everything just by listening to the guitar solo on Brighton Rock, one of the best songs he ever wrote. Plus, Freddie sings a duet with himself, taking on both male and female vocals. The tale of a doomed holiday romance and the mums and wives who ruin it.
"Jenny will you stay? Tarry with me, pray
Nothing e'er need come between us
Tell me love what do you say?"

"Oh no I must away, to my mum in disarray
If my mother should discover how I spent my holiday
It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air
I'll say farewell..."
Other Brighton belters include Upside Down On Brighton Beach by Shirley Lee and You're Not From Brighton by local lad Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook. See also New Brighton Promenade by The Boo Radleys, though I suspect that'll be the New Brighton in Merseyside.

So... those are my favourite Seaside Town Songs... where will you be wearing a knotted hanky on your head this summer?

Monday 10 June 2013

My Top Ten Time Travel Songs

Okay. Time circuit's on. Flux capacitor... fluxing. Engine running. All right!

10. Death In Vegas - Silver Time Machine

No, they didn't steal this from David Essex.

9. Busted - Year 3000

I like to think this blog will boldly go where other music blogs never go... Busted!
I've been to the year 3000
Not much has changed but they live underwater
And your great-great-great-great granddaughter is pretty fine...
Busted, of course, went on to spawn McFly... so extra marks for that, at least.

8. Uriah Heap - Traveller In Time

From an album called Demons & Wizards. You've got to love the 70s.

7. Grand Funk Railroad - Time Machine
Don't worry about tomorrow,
I'm gonna love you tonight
You old smoothie, you, Mr. Grand Funk.

6. Cher - If I Could Turn Back Time

Looking for a definition of the phrase "phallic imagery"? Look no further...

Also, you know that nightmare you have where you leave the house without your trousers and everyone is staring and pointing at you and eventually you get chased by a load of sailors...?

5. Robyn - Time Machine

Robyn's DeLorean needs only go in one direction. (And that will be the only time you hear those two words used together on this blog.)

4. The Blazing Zoos - Anywhere But Here

Today's the worst day of Andrew Mueller's life... except for yesterday. And he's not overly optimistic about tomorrow. His solution is to call up every science lab in town, looking for a time machine that he can borrow. You get the idea...

3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast - The Time Warp

It's just a jump to the left.

2. Frank Turner - Time Machine

From the amazing new album, Tape Deck Heart... though you have to buy the Deluxe Edition to get this doozy...
I’m a gonna build myself a time machine
On particle physics and the power of steam
It runs on diesel oil and Donnie Darko daydreams...

Packed up, sat in my DeLorean
Like some kind of amateur historian
I’ll visit the Renaissance and the Romans, the Victorians
Drinking in Deadwood in the 1880s
Rock 'n roll and drive-thrus in the 1950s
Trying not to change things so the plot lines don’t get shifty...
1. Huey Lewis & The News - Back In Time 

Often overshadowed by that other Huey song from Back To The Future, this is the lesser-remembered track that plays out over the end credits. And if that sax intro doesn't take you back in time to 1985, 1.21 gigawatts isn't going to help you...
Tell me, doctor, where are we going this time
Is it the 50s - or 1999?
Ah, yes, remember when 1999 was in the distant future? 

Great Scott! Comments? Where we're going, we don't need comments...

But they're always appreciated. 

Friday 7 June 2013

My Top Ten Gloria Songs

The climax of my Glorious Trilogy, with thanks to Kelloggsville for suggesting it (kind of). I'll be honest, I could think of only three off the top of my head (and two of those were kind of the same song) but I did manage ten and there were some pleasing surprises along the way...

Special mentions to Gloria Jones, Gloria Gaynor and Gloria Estefan.

10. U2 - Gloria

I make no secret of the fact that I have very little time for Bonio and chums, and this really is only here to make up the numbers. Sorry, U2 fans. I do quite like the guitar, and if I close my eyes I can at least pretend it's not Mr. Vox on vocals.

9. McIntosh Ross - Gloria

A beautiful Scottish-country ballad from the voices of Deacon Blue. Gorgeous harmonies, as you'd expect, but I can't track down a link to it anywhere online I'm afraid.

8. Jon Gomm - Gloria

An amusing little ditty about a love Jon can't forget...
I remember your dad, 
Cos he had a skinhead
And he had a tattoo, 

That the years had turned blue, 
It said “don’t fuck with me”

Much as I like Green Day, they're at their least successful when they try to be deep.
Eternal youth is a landscape of a lie
(Also - you try and type an upside down exclamation mark.)

6. Brand New - Sic Transit Gloria Glory Fades
Die young and save yourself
 Excellent storytelling from the Brand New Boys. Their lead singer reminds me of Eddie Munster.

5. Lambchop - Gloria Leonard

Classic Kurt Wagner, from the album Thriller. (No, not that one.)

4. Bruce Springsteen - Gloria's Eyes

Not content with making Number One on my Top Ten Glory Songs, here's Bruce again with Gloria. Not a patch on the aforementioned, but better than I remembered it being. Great guitar.

3. Patti Smith - Gloria

I reckon this is sufficiently different from the Van Morrison version (see below) to get a separate entry. All Patti keeps is the chorus, everything else is hers.
Jesus died for somebody's sins
But not mine
2. Laura Branigan - Gloria

Children of the 80s, rejoice... although the video may spoil your enjoyment. I'm not sure I've ever seen Laura Branigan before, but she looks like a barmaid doing karaoke in your local on a Friday night.

1. Them - Gloria

How do you spell teenage lust, Van?
She comes around here
Just about midnight
Ha, she make me feel so good, Lord!
See, I'm getting to the age now where if she came round about midnight I'd tell her to bugger off. What's wrong with half past seven? Some of us have to get up and go to work tomorrow morning.

You may prefer the Doors' somewhat X-rated version... though in the current moral climate, there's probably a Newsnight investigation being planned into that as we speak.

So - which of the Top Three is your glorious Gloria?

(I'll be amazed if anyone prefers any of the lower seven.)

Wednesday 5 June 2013

My Top Ten DIY Songs

With a new baby on the way, there's a lot of decorating and DIY needed in our house. Sadly, I've never been particularly good with a hammer or a drill... but I can knock up a damn fine Top Ten.

10. James Taylor - Handy Man

This handyman can fix broken hearts twenty four hours a day.

9. The Beatles - Fixing A Hole

Anything to stop the rain from getting in!

8. Bernard Cribbins - Hole In The Ground / Right Said Fred

National Treasure.

Of course, you might argue that the workmen in both songs are experts rather than amateurs... but they're hardly professionals.

7. The Wonder Stuff - Change Every Light Bulb

Miles Hunt is a man after my own heart. Stick to the easy jobs, Miles. 

6. Nick Drake - Man In A Shed

Neil Young believed A Man Needs A Maid... but most blokes would be happy with a shed to hide in. Nick's shed, of course, was where he hid from the world. I doubt he had a large selection of power tools in there. 

5. Peter Gabriel - D.I.Y.

I can't believe that B&Q hasn't used this in an advertising campaign. Maybe they tried to and Pete refused permission. Good on him, if that's the case. 

4. Radiohead - Just
You do it to yourself, you do
And that's what really hurts
Is that you do it to yourself
Just you and no one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself
No, Thom, that's not what I meant by DIY. 

3. Luxembourg - Sick of DIY
I've seldom been mistaken
For being good with my hands
So it's all so convenient
That you have your own wrench
And I know not to mention
Things that clearly I don't understand
David Shah wisely leaves the DIY to his other half. 

2. Bruce Springsteen - Jack Of All Trades

Bruce will mow your lawn, clean out your drain, mend your car, harvest your crops... he'll even shoot your bank manager, should you so desire it.

1. Billy Bragg - Handyman Blues

When Louise first heard me playing this track from Billy's new album, she said, "he's written that for you". Well, Billy's been writing songs for me most of my life... but this one goes out to men of a certain age everywhere... as represented in the new video by Kevin Eldon, Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee, Phil Jupitus and various other men of a certain age who'll never be the man around the house their father was. 
Don't be expecting me to put up shelves
Or build the garden shed
But I can write a song that tells the world
How much I love you instead!

Which one makes you want to Do It Yourself?

Monday 3 June 2013

My Top Ten Glorious Songs

Not quite as glorious as my Top Ten Glory Songs... but what could be?

10. Go Kart Mozart - Glorious Chorus

Proof positive: you can make a glorious pop song in your bedroom. Lawrence has been making them for years.

9. Skunk Anansie - Glorious Pop Song

Any song with a chorus that repeats the line "You're still a fucker" gets my vote.

8. The Breeders - Glorious

This is what happens when Kim Deal finds herself on her own on Saturdays.

7. Everclear - Glorious

 Their song Wonderful is much more wonderful, but this one's still pretty glorious.

6. Emma Pollock - A Glorious Day

Only a ropey live version on youtube, but even that can't diminish the beauty of this song...

I'll ring Henry immediately... is a top opening line. 

5. Embrace - Glorious Day

Look, if you don't like Embrace, just bugger off, all right? ;-)

4. Andreas Johnson - Glorious

A perfect pop moment... whatever happened to Mr. Johnson?

3. The Pierces - Glorious

The Pierces confess to a serious Abba influence - especially in the video.

2. Eels - Wonderful, Glorious

Title track of the latest Eels album - another belter. E rules.

1. PJ Harvey - The Glorious Land

Best use of a bugle in a pop song ever?

Which is your most glorious pop song?
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