Sunday 23 March 2014

My Top Ten Knife Songs

"You call that a knife? These are knives..."

(Special mention to Shonen Knife and The Young Knives.)

10. Brett Anderson - Knife Edge

 A devastating piano ballad that proves Brett really doesn't need guitars to inflict a deep, lasting wound.

9. Los Campesinos - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives

If you ever considered playing Pass The Parcel with human body parts, Los Campesinos have the song for you.
It's your party but I'll die if I want to...
8. Bryan Adams - Cuts Like A Knife

Deal with it.

7. Radiohead - Knives Out

 I remember when Radiohead released this, they said it was their "Smiths song".
So knives out
Cook him up
Squash his head
Put him in the pot
Moz would be proud. (Except, he wouldn't, of course. He hates Radiohead.)

6. PJ Harvey - Pocket Knife

They should keep her away from all sharp objects. Don't even let her run with scissors. 
Flowers I can do without
I don't wanna be tied down
White material will stain
My pocket knife's gotta shiny blade
I'm not trying to cause a fuss
I just wanna make my own fuck-ups
I'm not trying to break your heart
I'm just trying not to fall apart...
5. Dingus Khan - Knifey Spoon

A spiky indie track I got into because Lamacq kept playing it on 6Music. The video is mental.
I couldn't find a knife so I had to use a spoon...
4. Dire Straits - Six Blade Knife

My shameless middle-aged sojourn into Dad-Rock continues. Dire Straits are another band who, like Steely Dan, I'd only listened to in Greatest Hits form until very recently. Now I can't get enough of them.

This, from their eponymous 1978 debut album is SEX + DEATH = ROCK 'N' ROLL. (Honest.)

3. Aztec Camera - Knife

Over 9 minutes in length - that's one long knife!
And the knife has got my number,
And the number that you keep,
And the knife has called division,
And it's drawn when I'm asleep.
2. The Long Blondes - A Knife For The Girls

Every time I play a Long Blondes track on this blog, it is customary for me to bemoan their untimely passing. One listen to this creepy little bedsit stalker anthem will prove why...

1. Louis Armstrong - Mack The Knife 

Like it could have been anything else.

Written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brech (the original German title is "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer"... which doesn't trip off the tongue quite as smoothly) and recorded by everybody from Frank to Bobby Darin to Sting and Robbie Williams... but Louis' version is the definitive one for me.

This one's for Sukie Tawdry...

Those were my knives... but which one is stuck in your back?

Saturday 15 March 2014

My Top Ten Dirty Songs

Ten songs in need of a good wash.

If you came looking for Christina Aguilera, you'll end up disappointed. She can't even spell 'dirty'...

10. Don Henley - Dirty Laundry

Here's one I haven't listened to in 20 years. A condemnation of TV news sensationalism from Henley's debut solo album.

9. Poison - Talk Dirty To Me

Hair metal at its best. If you believe such a thing is possible.

8. Frank Zappa - Dirty Love

 If there's a dragon in your dreams, Frank's here to help... at a price.

7. AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Kinda like 118 118 for bastards.

6. The Bastard Fairies - Dirty Sexy Kill Kill

How can you not want to listen to a band called The Bastard Fairies? Especially when they sound like Amanda Palmer backed by the Eels? Get out while you still can!

Last I checked, this was even available for free download from their website.

5. The White Stripes - Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground

In which the line between Jack White and Johnny Depp blurs imperceptibly, courtesy of director Michel Gondry.

4. Lou Reed - Dirty Blvd.

 Lou takes a serious shot at his hometown. Amazing storytelling.
Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor I'll piss on 'em
That's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses
Let's club 'em to death
And get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard
3. The Pogues - Dirty Old Town

Written by Kirsty's dad, back in 1949, but Shane made it his own. You don't hear many opening lines better than this...
I met my girl by the gas works' wall...
2. Bonnie Tyler & Todd Rundgren - Loving You Is A Dirty Job But Somebody's Gotta Do It

Written by Jim Steinman, like all the best Bonnie Tyler songs. You could probably guess that from the length of the title and the inclusion of orchestra, 12 sticks of dynamite and kitchen sink in the score.The video is also a work of demented 80s genius... featuring Hywel Bennett in the Todd Rundgren role.
There were times when we fought like tigers
There were times we were damn good liars
There were times we extinguished every
That was burning, burning, burning up each other alive
From the heavens on down to the dives
There were times we lost it all we lost it all
There were times we lost it all we lost it all
1. Steely Dan - Dirty Work

I've been listening to this a lot lately since its appearance in my Film of 2014 (so far... but then, I have only seen two), American Hustle. However, over the last few months I've also been listening to a helluva lot more Steely Dan than I ever have before. I am officially middle-aged. (I reach The Meaning of Life, The Universe & Everything this week, folks!)

So I am now at the stage in my life where I'd rather listen to a 42 year-old Steely Dan song (this, from their debut album, is as old as I am) than anything Radio 1 would ever play. These Top Tens used to contain a lot more Cool Young Indie Music and a lot less Sad Old Muso Music. I always dreaded this day... but you know what? It ain't that bad... 

Which one would you scrub up for?

Thursday 6 March 2014

My Top Ten Cold War Songs

This week I will mostly be playing the 80's nostalgia card, thanks to the current tiff between Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama that inspired Dodgy Dave to put on his serious face for twitter.

10. Sting - Russians

Let's get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we?

Ah, Sting. Sting, Sting, Sting. It's not a bad song, it's just... like most of Sting's "issues" songs... it's about as subtle as all the bricks in the Berlin Wall piled up on top of each other in a Sting-shaped heap.  

"Do the Russians love their children too?"

At least it's not written from the perspective of a Russian dog. 

9. Prince - Ronnie, Talk To Russia

Blimey, a Prince song that's actually available on youtube. Not one of his best, but fascinating in a 80's time capsule kind of way.

8. Iron Maiden - 2 Minutes To Midnight

Far more subtle than Sting could ever be.

7. Nena - 99 Red Balloons

So Nena lets off a bunch of (luft)balloons with her boyfriend, only they get mistaken for missiles and BOOM. The world ends. You see how easy these things can get out of hand?

6. Elton John - Nikita

With hindsight, this looks even more unintentionally hilarious than Sting's Russkies, I can see that. In my defence, I firmly believe Elton has a sense of humour (unlike Gordon) - which the video surely proves.

Also, when I was 13, I thought this record was heartbreaking. (Then again, when I was 13, I thought most things were heartbreaking.)

5. The Beatles - Back In The U.S.S.R.

The best Beach Boys song the Beatles ever wrote. Brilliant.
Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind
4. Billy Joel - Leningrad

I keep comparing other songs on this list to #10, which is churlish. I really don't have anything against Sting. It's not like he's Bono or anything.

Anyway, here Billy shows the po-faced, bumblebee-shirted former teacher how to do it with class. A stunning piece of serious storytelling songwriting.

3. Donald Fagen - New Frontier

From the majestic Nightfly album, Fagen's 50s flashback finds a young couple planning for their future in the cosy warmth of their backyard bomb shelter.
We've got provisions and lots of beer
The key word is survival on the new frontier
2. The Smiths - Ask
If it's not love
Then it's the bomb
That'll bring us together...
Possibly the least cynical love song Moz ever wrote.

1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes

I told you it was 80's tribute week. You might not like this song (you'd be wrong) but you can't argue that this is one of the greatest pop videos ever filmed...

If you're still here to read this tomorrow... leave a comment amid the fallout dust, will you?

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