Friday 30 August 2013

My Top Ten One Way Songs

There is only one way you'll get into this Top Ten (and it ain't "My Way"... or the highway).

10. The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell & Back

To anyone who considers The Darkness a one-joke band whose joke isn't funny anymore... take the ticket above, with my love.

See also One Way Ticket by Carrie Underwood, who, Louise took great pleasure in informing me the other day, started her career as a winner on American Idol. The fact that proper songwriters and genres other than pop were allowed on that show sets it streets ahead of The X-Factor in my books. Not that I'd have watched it... but it's good to see an artist as strong as Ms. Underwood come out of it. The best we've managed in this country is Ollie Murs...

9. The Allman Brothers - One Way Out

It's amazing that the Allman Brothers are still going, considering all the tragedy in their past. Some top guitar playing on show here. 

8. Skint & Demoralised - One Way Traffic
And like a street lined with litter on a Sunday morning  
You left me bitter; left me with no warning 
You had to go...and left me thinking, did you have to go?  
And then you sent me a text, and I was desperate to reply 
But to tell you that I'm happy, would have been a desperate lie 
And every time I talk to you, I struggle not to cry 
I still adore you, and I'm sure I should ignore you... 
And these lists of problems, seem to come without thinking 
Almost like they've been rehearsed, and I can feel my heart sinking...
Good to see Matt Abbott has a new S&D album out right now. Check it out here.

7. Dexys Midnight Runners - One Way Love

From the days when Kevin Rowland sang like an unintelligible drunk at a karaoke machine. And yet, he was (and still is) amazing.

Giving Kevin a run for his money in the pub singer states is lead Tinderstick Stuart Staples. See their One Way Street for a top example.

6. The Clint Boon Experience - Only One Way I Can Go

Class tune from Mr. Boon, available to download free from his website (if you can handle .ram files).

5. Bruce Springsteen - One Way Street

Back in the late 70s, Bruce recorded enough unreleased music to fill a couple of box sets, but legal issues and a crazed sense of quality control kept most of it unheard. This finally saw the light of day on the The Promise back in 2010... it was worth the wait.

4. Karine Polwart - Only One Way

My favourite KP song... and yes, Department of the Peculiar fans, this is where I stole one of my character's names.
And when a genocidal maniac talks about grief
And you kinda get the feeling that there’s nothing underneath
But you can’t believe a man would lie through such nice teeth
There's only one way 
3. Blur - There's No Other Way

See, if there's no other way... there must only be one way.

It's easy to forget that long before Britpop, Blur were baggy. If you want a good laugh, check out Damon's haircut in this video... 

2. Blondie - One Way Or Another

She's gonna get you, get you, get you, get you...

While not in the same class as Debbie, I always had a soft spot for Sophie Ellis Bextor's version too...

1. The Levellers - One Way 

Reminds me of being a young man... as so many of these songs end up doing. I hope to be able to share these songs with my own son... though I have a terrible feeling he'll rebel against his old dad and end up liking dance music, blingy r 'n' b or U2...

There's only one way of life - and that's your own!

Which is your one way? (And anyone who suggests One Direction...hang your head in shame.)

Tuesday 27 August 2013

My Top Ten Carry On Songs

I was never a fan of the Carry On films, "Great" British comedy institution though they may be. But there are some blinding Carry On songs...

10. Babyshambles - Carry on Up the Morning

One of the better post-Libertines Pete Doherty songs. There aren't that many.

9. Tim McGraw - Carry On

All those people who think modern country music comes with a big wedge of cheese are mostly wrong. In Tim McGraw's case, however... 

8. Half Man Half Biscuit - Carry on Cremating

The song closest to the true spirit of the Carry On movies... at least in Nigel Blackwell's indefatigable Britishness... and his "tribute" to one of the big Carry On stars of olde...
Oh, they’re still cremating Hattie Jacques, I am not surprised
Come on now, let’s face it, she was fat
It usually takes for ever trying to burn the grossly oversized
Who would ever want to look like that?
She had a face that could launch a thousand dredgers
I could never get her on my portable TV
7. Van Morrison - Carry on Regardless

 There's a tiny part of me thinks all post-70s Van Morrison records sound like someone doing a very good impersonation. Of course, I'd never tell Van The Man that... with his reputation!?

(Plus, I think he nicked some guitars from Lady Madonna here. Shh. Let's pretend we didn't notice.)

6. Portishead - We Carry On

 Creepy and disturbing in the way all the best Portishead records are.

5. Spacehog - Carry On

Leeds band Spacehog had more success in the States than back home. Iffypedia tells me they met in a cafe where one of the band members was working as an exterminator.

4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Carry On

 Timeless. (This is where Fleet Foxes got their mojo.)

3. Kansas - Carry On, Wayward Son

Pompous prog lyrics saved by a glorious chorus and majestic guitars. Glorious, in its way.

2. Fun. - Carry On

Is it me, or does Nate Ruess look like a young (Marky) Mark Wahlberg? He writes far better songs though. And has more conviction.

Why do I like Fun. so much? They do exactly what it says on the tin. 

1. Beautiful South - Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)

Yes, my Number One Carry On song doesn't feature the words Carry On in its title. Bite me. They're all over the chorus. One of the Beautiful South's most life-affirming songs, with a video to match in which Heato and the gang go for a bike ride in the countryside... with added elephant.
I want my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss
Not in the next life
I want it in this

Carry on commenting...

Friday 23 August 2013

My Top Ten Writing A Novel Songs

As you'll notice if you turn your eyes a few centimetres to the right of this post, my novel I Wish, Wish, Wish You Were Dead, Dead, Dead is finally available for download to your kindle, tablet or e-book reading device of your choice. (With thanks to Davey for the smashing cover.)

Any excuse for a Top Ten...

10. Fryars - Novelist's Wife

There are a lot of unhappy novelists out there...

9. Paul Simon - Rewrite

We write. Then we rewrite. Then we rewrite some more. There comes a point you have to stop working on the rewrite and just let your book go...

8. Lloyd Cole - Writer's Retreat

Lloyd's lady spends more time on her book than with him. He's not sticking around...
You can get a beat from a broken heart
You could write the book while falling apart
You can have it all save the one you want
Going for a song
7. Teddy Thompson - Jonathan's Book

Jonathan gives up his life for his writing... but he's hardly Shakespeare.
He says, I don't have any inspiration
And my subject matter lacks invention
If I only had an opening line
Then I'm sure the rest would turn out fine
6. Harry Connick Jr. - I Could Write a Book

Perhaps more memorably recorded by Frank, Ella and Miles... but I have a soft spot for Harry's version from When (another) Harry Met Sally.

5. Rockpile - When I Write The Book

 Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds write a thousand words a day...

4. The Beatles - Paperback Writer

Every time I send off a submission letter, I think of this lyric...
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
Every time I receive a rejection letter, I think if this one...
If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer.
That's why it's good to finally see my book published without any more rejections. At least someone might read it now!

3.  The Beautiful South - My Book

Already included in my Top Ten Diary Songs, but too good not to squeeze in here too. One of Paul Heaton's best.
This is my life and this is how it reads
For every chapter, a thousand memories
A murder, a mystery where everybody bleeds
A fantasy, a thriller with romance and disease
2. Father John Misty - I'm Writing A Novel

Breaking out of the Fleet Foxes proved an excellent move for Father John. His debut album was a cracker, and this was my favourite track on it.
I'm writing a novel...
Because it's never been done before (!)  
1. Elvis Costello - Every Day I Write The Book
Don't tell me you don't know what love is
When you're old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I'm a man with a mission, in two or three editions
There's no better written song on this list. Costello should have been a novelist (too).

Which one has pride of place on your bookshelf?

Wednesday 21 August 2013

My Top Ten Pride Songs (Seven Deadly Sins #7)

I'm proud to say this concludes our jaunt through the deadliest of sins...

10. Bonnie Raitt - Love Has No Pride

If you were looking for that U2 song... here's one reason why you won't find it here. (The other reason: it's by U2.)

Also memorably covered by this bloke...

9. Billy Bragg - Swallow My Pride

From Billy's excellent new album Tooth & Nail... yep, he's still got it.
Oh how can a man be strong?
He can't even lift up telephone and say he's wrong 
If I want you back again
Then I know what I must do
Got to swallow my pride and get back home to you.
8. The Donnas - Have You No Pride?

 The Donnas offer advice to a hopeless romantic.
Shoegazers in blazers
Introduce you to razors, so that
The Wilson twins, they can see you
In all your glory, in all your glory
7. King - Love & Pride

Weren't the 80s brilliant?

If you're in any doubt, check out the video in which Paul King wanders round an old quarry with a can of spray paint wearing a green suit, red boots and a raven on his head before teaching a bunch of kids how to breakdance. It cost 50p to film and they still had change for a bag of chips.

6. James Brown -  Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)

 Could the Godfather of Soul ever say anything quietly?

5. Beautiful South - Mother's Pride
He's presentable, well looked after
He's domestically disastrous
He's adorable - Mother's Pride
Maternal versus paternal influence... and it does seem Paul Heaton thinks you're better off taking after your mum.
He'll always roam the yard looking for a fight
He'll pick on all the kids who're twice his height
He's the reason dinner ladies toss and turn at night
Teacher's Blight - Father's Pride 
See also Mother's Pride by George Michael, which has aged far, far better than you'd imagine it would. 

4. Dexys Midnight Runners - My National Pride

Kevin Rowland reclaims the notion of national pride from the fascists and the politicians in a deeply touching ode from the woefully under-appreciated Don't Stand Me Down album.
I've denied my beautiful heritage
Gone away from my roots and come back home again
I gave away my individuality
And listened to the "now" generation
When really I'm not one of those
But love has brought me closer to the truth and right now
I couldn't be any closer
To love your father is a fulfilling thing
My national pride is a personal pride

3. Robert Palmer - Pride

Batley Bob goes reggae with an amusing tale about a guy who loses his woman to the gym.
You want her attention
Well, you’ll have to wait
She’s in the gymnasium
Reducing weight
In shorts of a leotard
Despite her age
The girl’s gonna exercise
Your life away
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary

A song about quitting your job in the city and going off to work on a riverboat... also famously recorded by Ike & Tina Turner and Solomon Burke.

1. The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg


Which would you be proud to call your Number One?

Monday 19 August 2013

My Top Ten Weather Forecast Songs

There are, of course, millions of songs that predict the weather... from A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall to Here Comes The Sun. None of those are allowed in this Top Ten.

To be included here, you have to actually mention weather forecasting... or forecasters.

Special mentions to The Forecast... and Weather Report. (Hmm.. Jazz. Niiice.)

10. Jason Mraz - The Forecast

Jason swears he's no weatherman... but he doesn't half go on about it.

This song bears mention purely down to one of the most bizarre metaphors ever written...
But your mouth is my umbrella now
And I'm holding your tongue
W. T. F.? (Weather: The Forecast.)

9. Sheryl Crow - Weather Channel

When Sheryl gets depressed, she watched the Weather Channel. It doesn't appear to cheer her up.

8. Tom Waits - Emotional Weather Report

Not a song so much as the jamming intro to Tom's classic live album Nighthawks At The Diner. But there's plenty of forecasting to go around...
And a line of thunderstorms was developing in the early morning
Ahead of a slow moving cold front
Cold blooded
With tornado watches issued shortly before noon Sunday, 
For the areas including...
The western region of my mental health
And the northern portions of my ability to deal rationally 

With my disconcerted precarious emotional situation
7. Hank Williams Jr. - The Weatherman

Hank Jr. needs a good forecast tonight...

6. Spearmint - The Weather Forecaster

It always upsets me when I can't find links to Spearmint records on the internet. This is a gorgeous little story by Shirley Lee about a young man who learns to predict the weather as a way of controlling everything that might happen in his life...

If you know what the weather will be like
There's no danger
You're in control

But then, inevitably, he meets a young lady... and the forecast becomes unpredictable.

Oh, just go buy the album. 

5. The Weather Girls - It's Raining Men 
Get ready, all you lonely girls - and leave those umbrellas at home!
A song so great, even Geri Halliwell couldn't kill it. (Though she gave it a damned good try.)

4. A Tribe of Toffs - John Kettley Is A Weatherman

Ah, 1988 in the UK charts... a terrible time for music. During the dark days of Stock, Aitken and Waterman, Bros, Bomb The Bass, Brother Beyond and the Wee Papa Girl Rappers... I was 16. Everything was wrong with the world. And then there came the Tribe of Toffs, a silly group of lads with a jangly guitar pop novelty record full of terrible rhymes about minor British TV personalities of the day (and Johnny Marr). It may have only reached number 21 in the charts... but it was better than Another Day In Paradise.
Debbie Thrower's got a lawnmower,
Johnny Marr he plays guitar,
David Steel lives in Keele,
John Kettley... John Kettley... John Kettley:
He's a weatherman.
3. Fountains of Wayne - Traffic & Weather

A love story unfolds among the Channel 6 news team...
Ooh, we belong together - like traffic and weather...
Any song that contains that timeless chat up line "I like those shorts - I'd like them even more on my bedroom floor" get my vote.

2. Blur - This Is A Low

Damon lies in bed listening to the shipping forecast: the end result is one of their most moving records. Don't spend too much time studying the lyrics though, or the magic is lost. 

1. ELO - Mr. Blue Sky 

Wait a minute, Rol, I hear you cry... isn't this one of those songs you outlawed at the top of the page: like A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall or Here Comes The Sun? Ah, I reply... ahhhh... yes, but listen again to that timeless intro:
Morning - today's forecast calls for blue skies...
However, if you're looking for Dylan or the Fab Four... close your eyes and listen to Mr. Blue Sky one more time. Not only is it one of the greatest pop records ever recorded... doesn't it just sound like "What if Bob was lead singer of the Beatles?"

...but which is your Michael Fish?

Friday 16 August 2013

My Top Ten Frog Songs

Ten songs to get you hopping around on your lily pad...

Special mentions to Toad The Wet Sprocket, Toadies, and, erm, Froggy Fresh.

10. Presidents of the United States of America - Froggie
Froggie jumped all over the stage that day
Mick Jagger kissin' Froggie's lips 

Studying films of Froggie's hips
His eyes are closed cause he's off in a world of ecstacy
Where Froggie folks get the froggie scene
And Froggie jumped all over the stage that day
Watch him jump!
I wish I'd made those lyrics up. 

9. The Flaming Lips - I Can Be A Frog

The Lips go all Sesame Street.

See also Frogs, which is slightly less kiddy-friendly.

8. Peter Grabriel - Kiss That Frog

I'm not sure how to break this to you, but when Peter asks you to kiss his frog... he isn't talking about a frog. (You may, on further consideration, prefer to kiss an actual frog.)

7. Wynder K. Frog - Dancing Frog

He wasn't actually a frog. Proof of that here.

6. Bruce Springsteen - Froggy Went A' Courtin'

Could this be the oldest song I've ever featured in a Top Ten? According to Bruce, he's traced its origins back to Scotland in 1549. Yeah, almost ten to four!

If you want any more, you can sing it yourself.

5. The Handsome Family - The Song of a Hundred Toads

Look, Toads are frogs.  It says so on! Don't say I don't do my research.

4. Three Dog Night - Joy To The World

Starring Jeremiah, the wine-drinking bullfrog. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea...

Best thing I know about Three Dog Night? (Only thing I know about Three Dog Night?) Their name derives from an old Aborigine expression about how you keep warm in the desert on really cold nights.

3. Paul McCartney - We All Stand Together

Say what you like about Sir Thumbs Aloft, he knows how to write an annoyingly catchy novelty record.

How can you hate The Frig Chorus? Macca doesn't even sing on it!

2. The Divine Comedy - The Frog Princess

A song full of plot twists, from a very unreliable narrator - Neil Hannon at his best.
You don't really love me
And I don't really mind
'Cos I don't love anybody
That stuff is a just a waste of time...
Your place or mine?
1. Belle & Sebastian - Funny Little Frog

Good news - Stuart Murdoch has found his dream woman! A pity she only exists in his overactive imagination...
You're my picture on the wall.
You're my vision in the hall,
You're the one I'm talking to,
When I get in from my work,
You are my girl, and you don't even know it,
I am living out the life of a poet,
I am the jester in the ancient court,
And you're the funny little frog in my throat.
 Also recorded by B&S side-project God Help The Girl. Also excellent.

Which one makes you want to croak?

Wednesday 14 August 2013

My Top Ten Envy Songs (Seven Deadly Sins #6)

The more I thought about this particular sin, the more I realised it was an impossible task: I reckon at least 50% of all  pop songs ever written deal with envy of one kind or another. Here, then, are some of the most blatant...

10. Ash - Envy

Remember when Ash were a 4-piece? I envy those guys, getting to play with Charlotte Hatherley... for as long as it lasted.

9. Octopus - Jealousy

Three cheers for obscure 90s indie! Three cheers for the youtube commenter who claims "the lead singer of this band is an English teacher at my school now".

8. Nick Lowe - Where's My Everything?

This one almost made it onto the third deadly sin, but I decided it's more to do with jealousy than greed.
Where is the beautiful family home
That I was promised on the news at ten?
Like my personal place in the sun
It never happened along

And as for the greatest love of all
That's been sworn in a billion lines
And is mine by birthright
I'll bet I'll see none
7. Momus - A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 To 24)

Yes, I did include this on my Top Ten Sexual Songs, but it's far too good not to feature here too. Just wait for my Top Ten History Songs!
I'm jealous of the man the man you broke the heart of
Broke the heart of
I'm jealous of the men you knew before
In a life that I can never be a part of
There's more than meets the eye
In the way a stranger meets your eye, I know there's more
A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy, Parts 17-24

6. John Lennon - Jealous Guy

Given my aversion to all things Beatlacular, you might have expected me to go for the Roxy Music version. But I watched that on youtube and Bryan Ferry's 80's leer scared the bejeebus out of me, so I think I'll stick with the original.

See also Jealous Guy by Art Brut... although it only shares the title.

5. Queen - Jealousy

It's sad that they're going for a PG-friendly take on the Freddie Mercury biopic, and that in choosing to do so they've discouraged Sacha Baron-Cohen from taking part.

Still, we'll always have the real Freddie, whenever we listen to songs like this.

4. The Black Crowes - Jealous Again

The Crowes at the most Stoned. (Rolling, that is.)

3. Del Amitri - Just Like A Man

So I'm thinking "who's most likely to have written a song about jealousy... even if they haven't given an obvious nod in the song's title?" Before I even remembered this song, I thought: Justin Currie.
And just like a man he holds you gently
And just like a man he strokes your hair
And just like a man I still pretend that I'm
Immune to the whole affair...
2. The Pet Shop Boys - Jealousy

Poor Neil: he looks so glum. Somebody give him a hug!
Where've you been?
Who've you seen?
You didn't phone when you said you would!
Do you lie?
Do you try
To keep in touch? You know you could
I've tried to see your point of view
But could not hear or see
For jealousy
One of their best. Dubstar did a lovely version too.

1. Meat Loaf - More Than You Deserve

I almost put this in my Top Ten Greed Songs too, but having watched the video, I realised it's more about jealousy. It's a simple enough tale in which Meat falls in love with a girl, only to catch her making love to his best friend. Only, in classic Jim Steinman style, that's not quite enough. Before Meat knows what's happening, the object of his affection is getting off with not one of his best friends... but two... and, eventually, a whole group of them! Basically, she'll shag everyone he knows (all at once, by the sound of it): the only one she won't touch with a barge pole is poor old Meat himself. Being the nice guy he is though, Meat is prepared to step aside and watch this happen... through gritted teeth...
Won't you take some more?
It's what you came for
And don't mind me
I won't throw you no curve
Have yourself a ball with my good woman
Won't you take some more, boys?
It's more than you deserve...
(The bit where Meat bellows, "Listen here, group!" makes me howl with laughter while my heart simultaneously breaks into a million pieces every time I hear it.)

I was frankly horrified to discover I'd lived 41 years of my life ignorant to the fact that this song had a video. Perhaps the greatest video ever recorded in the history of videos. The Citizen Kane of music videos. There are times in my life when I think I could happily survive on a desert island with nothing but the complete Jim Steinman / Meat Loaf collaborations to sustain me. Having finally seen this video, I think I could even make do with just a ratty old VHS of this promo and nothing else. It's more than I deserve...

Also: Jack Black stole his entire act from Meat Loaf. Fact. 

Which song brings out your green-eyed monster?

Monday 12 August 2013

My Top Ten Parade Songs

Because everybody loves a parade... don't they?

Special mentions to The Electric Soft Parade (who have a new album out called Idiots... which sells it to me) and The Hit Parade.

10. Jill Sobule - Rainy Day Parade

Jill beats Macy's Day Parade by Green Day (in which Billy Joe Armstrong plays Gripper Stebson) into the Top Ten through the power of positive thinking.
I used to live with someone who loved me
But somehow they ran out of patience
I regret those things I said
They were so uncalled for
9. Randy Newman - Jolly Coppers On Parade

Pure sarcasm. Bliss.

8. Del Amitri - Some Other Sucker's Parade

When the going gets tough, the tough get boozin'...
I must've had a million damn unlucky days
But there ain't no cloud that a bottle can't chase away
I've done my deal of living, ran from place to place
But when the roof comes in I don't wanna take it straight
7.  Fountains of Wayne - A Fine Day For A Parade

And here's someone else with no lock on her liquor cabinet...
Mrs. Carver says she's sorry 
She knows enough not to worry 
But what does she know about crime? 
Believes the town is sinking 
The price of forward thinking 
You stay up all night half the time 
Racking your mind 
Alone in the night 
While all your neighbors sleep tight
6. The Magnetic Fields - Parades Go By

It's notoriously difficult to make a decent double album without resorting to filler... Stephin Merrit's Magnetic Fields may be the only band I can think of to create a truly indispensable TRIPLE album.

5. Prince - Christopher Tracy's Parade

Not on youtube, natch. Still, I could hardly leave it out.

4. The Blue Nile - Headlights On The Parade

From the album Hats, the best musical insomnia cure you can buy. (And I mean that as a compliment.)

See also Easter Parade, also by the Blue Nile. Also good for nodding off to.

3. Elvis Costello - Invasion Hit Parade

I have much love for Elvis's infamous beardy album, Mighty Like A Rose. Here's one reason why...
Her transistor offers no salvation or regrets
No pool, no pets, no cigarettes
Just non-stop Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes
See also London's Brilliant Parade and Jack Of All Parades, completing Declan's Parade Hat Trick. 

2. My Chemical Romance - Welcome To The Black Parade

MCR had many fine moments before calling it a day earlier this year, but this sumptuous rock opera could well be their finest... one of the best Number One singles of the 21st Century. I'd pretty much convinced myself it would be Number One here too... until I remembered...

1. The Doors - The Soft Parade

One of the greatest spoken word intros ever put down on tape...
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!
The other 8 minutes aren't too shabby either.

When I listen to Jim Morrison here, I start to realise where that other crazy Jim (Steinman) got so much of his insanity from...and I swear the opening verse reminds me of Neil Hannon too.
When all else fails
We can whip the horse's eyes
And make them sleep
And cry...

But... which parade would you stand out in the rain to watch?

Friday 9 August 2013

My Top Ten Rollercoaster Songs

Following on from my Fairground Top Tens, Adrian requested "a Ronan Keating-free Rollercoaster Top Ten" over on Facebook. Well, I'm always happy to oblige... though I have a curious love/hate relationship with Ronan's biggest hit as it was written by former New Radicals man Gregg Alexander, and if he'd bothered to record it himself I can't help thinking I'd have liked it a lot more.

Adrian suggested both Fly by Moxy Früvous and Eleanor, Put Your Boots On by Franz Ferdinand, two excellent songs that both mention rollercoasters in the lyrics (see also Everyday by Buddy Holly)... but I decided to restrict myself to songs with titular rollercoasters (there were plenty to choose from).

So strap yourself in... and get ready for the ride of your life!  

10. Sleeper - Rollercoaster

From the final Sleeper album, the one so few people bought, I can't find this song anywhere online. A shame, because it's a cute little indie pop song which Louise & co. always excelled at.

9. The Whitest Boy Alive - Rollercoaster Ride

King of Convenience Erlend Øye's other band.

8. Helen Love - Rollercoasting

What if the Ramones were girls?

7. M Ward - Rollercoaster

The less perky Him to Zooey Deschanel's She goes on an unbelievable ride and gets some heavy metal dreams.

6. Machine Gun Fellatio - Rollercoaster

Thanks to Deano for pointing me in the direction of these mental Aussies. If the band name alone doesn't get them points, the video throws in the kitchen sink.

5. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Rollercoaster

Any theme park worth its salt should have a Jesus & Mary Chain Rollercoaster. That would be one hell of a ride.

4. Belle & Sebastian - The Rollercoaster Ride
If you were to remove your clothes d'you think the singer would notice?
There's not many bands who could deliver a line like that and make it heartbreaking.

3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Roller Coaster by the Sea

Jonathan is feeling bad.

Jonathan goes on a rollercoaster.

Jonathan gets knocked out of his head.

2. Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time - The Rollercoaster Song

Sadly, I can only find a 30 second clip of this wonderful song online, but that's still enough to fall in love with....
I had a friend who treated love
Like a luxury development
On the other side of town
And one day his girl got up
And left and slammed the door
And his fine walls came falling down

But don't be blue, he built a fairground there
For you and I to ride
One of Adrian's biggest problems with that Ronan Keating song was the creakingly obvious metaphor of life being a rollercoaster. Here, Mr. Duffy has a similar go, calling love a rollercoaster... yet it's much, much sweeter. Conclusive proof that there are no bad metaphors, just metaphors used badly.

Or something.

1. The Ohio Players - Love Rollercoaster

There's a gruesome urban legend that the background scream around about the 2 1/2 minute mark in this song actually came from a woman being murdered in the studio during the recording. (Was it the engineer's girlfriend?) It's utter bogwash, of course, but you could believe just about anything when it comes to The Ohio Players. Those guys were mental.

Covered more recently by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers... but that wasn't a patch on the original.

As requested, ten rollercoaster songs and not a Ronan in sight. Any other scream-worthy suggestions?

Wednesday 7 August 2013

My Top Ten Wrath Songs (Seven Deadly Sins #5)

The fifth deadly sin is the one that gets us all pissed off...

Special mentions to Billy Fury, Rage Against The Machine, The Temper Trap, The Furious 5 and... erm, Angry Anderson.

10. Morrissey - Sorrow Will Come In The End

It's hard to think of a Morrissey solo album that doesn't contain a fair few angry songs, though this oddity is perhaps his most direct. Only released on the US version of the Maladjusted album, it's a spoken word rant-poem aimed at his former bandmates in The Smiths (well, Mike and Andy) and the judge who sided with them in the infamous court case over royalties. You know, the judge who decided Joyce and Rourke were thoroughly decent chaps while Mozzer was "devious, truculent and unreliable"... well, you can see why he was miffed.

All that said, Sorrow Will Come In The End isn't one of the Mozfather's finest works... though it does redeem itself by going suitably mental with a fairground organ about halfway through (following on nicely from my last two Top Tens). It remains one of the strangest records I've ever heard, and that's saying something.

9. Laura Marling - All My Rage

I love the humorous opening to this folky blast of weary resignation... 
Stole my children, left my son
Of all of them, he's the only one who did not mean that much to me
I tip my cap to the raging sea
8. Ben Folds Five - One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

 When he was a little kid, Ben got beat up a lot. This was his revenge... kiss my ass!

7. Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It

Top comedy video!

6. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Rage Hard
Rage! Rage! Rage! Rage!
Rage Hard!
If you say so, Holly. 

5. Elvis Costello - All The Rage

Costello was very much considered the "angry young man" when he first hit the punk pop scene in the late 70s... though the only song he sang about anger back then was called I'm Not Angry (it wasn't a particularly honest title). This, on the other hand, comes from later in his career... when he was supposed to have mellowed.
Alone with your tweezers and your handkerchief
You murder time and truth, love, laughter and belief
So don't try to touch my heart, it's darker than you think
And don't try to read my mind because it's full of disappearing ink
4. Billy Joel - Angry Young Man

 How angry is Billy? So angry, it takes him two minutes to start singing. Blinding intro though!

3. Catatonia - Road Rage

 I sympathise with Cerys; little else gets my bloody boiling quite like bad driving.

2. The King Blues - We Are Fucking Angry

Written in support of the UK student protests of 2011 against the cuts to tuition fees - one of the angriest songs you'll ever hear.

1. The Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks made a stand against George W. Bush and took a kicking in the conservative midwest as a result. They refused to apologise - this was their angry repost.
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over?

So - which omission incurred your wrath?

Monday 5 August 2013

My Top Ten Fairground Ride Songs

Although I was a fan of the Ghost Train, I was generally too chicken to go on any of the scarier fairground rides.

Special mentions to Chairlift, Fairground Attraction (again) and Rhubarb's Ill-Maintained Fairground Contraption.Oh, and if you must have a song about the dodgems... try this.

10. Siouxsie & The Banshees - Carousel

There's a gorgeous Thea Gilmore track called Carousel Queen which would have beaten Siouxsie onto this list if I could have found it anywhere. 

See also carousel songs by Blink 182 and The Hollies

9. Gaslight Anthem -  The Patient Ferris Wheel

"Maybe I should call me an ambulance" is an excellent chorus line... though I'm never entirely sure what makes this Ferris Wheel so patient.

See also Big Wheel by Laura Cantrell.

8. Elvis Costello - Ghost Train

There were a number of Ghost Train songs, including those by Madness, The Stranglers, Gorillaz, Counting Crows and Marc Cohn. But only one was about characters called Maureen and Stan... 

7. Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride

Seriously psychedelic.

6. Morrissey - Speedway

Morrissey + chainsaw = magic. Seriously, though, imagine how much better Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be if Morrissey was Leatherface. It'd bring a whole new meaning to 'I would go out tonight, but I haven't got a stitch to wear'.
And when you try
To break my spirit
It won't work
Because there's nothing left to break
I seem to remember the Speedway was even scarier than the waltzer. I've been on a waltzer once in my life and I thought I was going to die. Hence, I've never been on a speedway.

The only waltzer song I could find was by Jethro Tull. It's not one of their best.

5. The Beatles - Helter Skelter

One of the Beatles' more interesting records (it must be a good one if I place it higher than Moz), many serious musos claim it as a stepping stone towards the creation of heavy metal, though it latterly became more infamous as the inspiration for Charles Manson's insanity. 

4.  Richard & Linda Thompson - Wall of Death
You're going nowhere when you ride on the carousel
And maybe you're strong
But what's the good of ringing a bell?
The switchback will make you crazy
Beware of the bearded lady
Oh let me take my chances on the wall of death
REM did a cracking cover of this too.

3. Dire Straits - Tunnel Of Love

There are three great Tunnel Of Love songs... and one by Westlife.

Knopfler's is the longest, and on many other lists it may even have taken top spot. Competition was fierce in this particular fairground though...

2. Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel Of Love
Fat man sitting on a little stool
Takes the money from my hand
While his eyes take a walk all over you
Hands me the ticket
Smiles and whispers 'good luck'
Well, cuddle up angel
Cuddle up, my little dove
And we'll ride down, baby
Into this tunnel of love...
'Nuff said?

1. The Fun Boy Three - Tunnel Of Love

Tunnel of Love is one of my favourite Springsteen albums and I adore the title track beyond blueberry ice cream... yet as much as Bruce will always be Number One for me, I have a special affection for FB3's Tunnel of Love: one of Terry Hall's finest kitchen sink dramas.
You gave up your friends for a new way of life
And both ended up as ex husband and wife
There were 22 catches when you struck your matches
And threw away your life in the tunnel of love

Which one would you buy a ticket for?

Friday 2 August 2013

My Top Ten Fairground Songs

Roll up, roll up - for all the fun of the fair!

(But if you're looking for songs about fairground rides, come back next week.)

10. White Lies - Farewell To The Fairground

The rides aren't working anymore, so the White Lies are packing up and going home.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Totnes Bickering Fair
So much for your journey of self-discovery
You had to cut it short, forgot your credit card
The decree nisi came through this morning
And I just called to say

I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
And with the money saved take ‘em to the zoo
OK, not actually about a fairground - just the argumentative acrimony of a marriage gone bad. What it lacks in candyfloss and waltzers, it makes up for in its closing line...
Not long now before lollipop men are called Darren
8. John Mellencamp - County Fair
Hey all you suckers
I heard a fat woman say
Come on in for fifty cents
You can stay in here all day
So I took a chance
I went inside
Wasn't much there to see
So I asked her for my money back
And she just smiled at me...
This ends up being the worst fifty cents John ever spent...

See also County Fair by The Beach Boys for a somewhat happier tale. (Nobody gets stabbed.)

7. Pulp - Fairground

Very early Pulp... from 1986.

Yes, they were making records back then... and even earlier.

Guitarist Russell Senior sings / narrates this freakish fairground... though you can hear Jarvis barking "roll up, roll up" if you stick with it.

6. Fairground Attraction - Fairground Attraction

My "Top Ten Eponymous Songs" is a work in progress...

5. Saint Etienne - Heading For The Fair

Sarah Cracknell sends our hearts spinning...
My mama said don't go
There's nothing for you there
I stroll across the road
I'm heading for the fair
The music, endless sound
Of candy floss and love...
4. Roy Orbison - The Comedians

Elvis Costello strands Roy alone at the top of a ferris wheel, forcing him to watch as his girl does the dirty on him below. Comedy and tragedy: The Big O at his best.

3. Aimee Mann - Fifty Years After The Fair

Not about a fairground as such, unless you count the New York World's Fair of 1939... however, too amazing a song to leave off the list. If you've never heard Aimee's debut album, Whatever... treat yourself.

2. Bruce Springsteen - 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

I make no apologies for having featured this here before... I'll probably feature it here again. It is a tune of sublime beauty
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 he kept me spinnin', I didn't think I'd ever get off
1. The Smiths - Rusholme Ruffians

One of their finest, with Johnny borrowing liberally from (Marie's The Name Of) His Latest Flame.
The last night of the fair
By the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed
And his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling whine
Morrissey, naturally, walks home alone... but his faith in love is still devout.

Ten fairground attractions... but which do you consider perfect?

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