Tuesday 31 March 2015

My Top Ten Jukebox Songs

Ten songs celebrating the best way to get rid of your loose change on a Saturday night.

Special mention to Jukebox The Ghost... and Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox (check out their cover of All About That Bass... so much nicer than the original.)

10. Glenn Miller - Jukebox Saturday Night

Knocks The Rubettes - Jukebox Jive out of the Top Ten, largely because of the trumpet of Harry James... and the fact that my dad is a huge Glenn Miller fan.

9. Young Marble Giants - Wurlitzer Jukebox

Taken from their only album, 1980's off-kilter classic Colossal Youth; this sounds like nothing else around... then or now.

8. Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers - If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart?)

There were plenty of country songs to choose from this week, but this one wins because it has the best title... and also kind of retells the story of our Number One song, with a less successful outcome.

You can call me stubborn
You can call me a snob
You can even call me downright mean...
But I’ve got the finest record collection
That you’ve ever seen

If you prefer your country a little more old style yee-haw, can I point you towards the splendidly monikered Dick Curless and his dynamic duo: Jukebox Man and Drop Some Silver In The Jukebox.

7. Saint Etienne - Haunted Jukebox

Bob Stanley's evocative lyrics + Sarah Cracknell's breathy vocals = pure bliss.

I was just 15
In November '82
When I would meet you after school
And there was bonfires on Halloween
Frosty little windows
All the songs we used to listen to each time...

6. The Beautiful South - Hidden Jukebox

Paul Heaton's doing pretty well around these parts lately, hardly a week goes by that he doesn't crop up in one form or another. Here he is railing against both bigots and the establishment (and the bigoted establishment) and proposing some interesting trade agreements via his hidden jukebox...

5. Rage Against The Machine - Hadda Be Playing On The Jukebox

I don't claim to be the world's biggest RATM fan, but here they nick an old Allen Ginsberg poem and do amazing things with it. If you're gonna call yourself Rage Against The Machine, you need to live up to that name!

4. Foreigner - Jukebox Hero

Could be the best thing Somerset's Mick Jones and New York's Lou Gramm ever did together. Though they're far more well known for wanting to know what love is, this one rocks the jukebox just like it should. Used to great effect in the musical / movie Rock of Ages too...

3. Trembling Blue Stars - Abba on the Jukebox

One for John Peel fans, evoking memories of a holiday romance through snapshot lyrics. The least rock 'n' roll record on this list, but it works beautifully.

A lighthouse sending its light
Out across Thurso bay at night
To Blakeney Point and back again
Walking in the ruins
Of Binham Priory
Abba on the jukebox at Par Sands
A two way trip on the Bodinnick ferry

2. The Jam - Pretty Green

I picked up a pristine copy of Sound Affects (the album this comes from) for just £1 from the local charity shop a couple of weeks back. Bargain - even though I already owned most of the songs on various compilations. Weller's "pretty green" is outdated now as pound notes are no longer in existence... but even when they were, he wouldn't have been able to put them in his jukebox and play all the records in the hit parade, since jukeboxes only take coins. Or am I taking that a bit too literally?

1. Joan Jett - I Love Rock 'n' Roll

If you don't believe this should be Number One, I suggest you watch the video and then reassess your rear ass from your elbow. Not only does red-leather clad Joan know she's met her teenage heartthrob (cradle snatcher!) just because of the song he picks, she also manages to reference that other popular term for a jukebox - a "record machine". Hell, it rhymes with more things that jukebox, which is why Chuck Berry, Van Halen and even Glenn Miller shoehorned it into to their lyrics too. Maybe I'll do a Top Ten Record Machine Songs some other time so I can play Joan again.

The video manages to be both terrifically wild and incredibly tame (by today's standards), and to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson... if you don't love Joan Jett, then you can kiss my arse...

Which one would you spend your last pound coin to hear again?

Monday 23 March 2015

My Top Ten Coming Home Songs

Two posts ago, I covered songs demanding we come home. Here are ten songs that do what they're told....

10. The Lightning Seeds featuring David Baddiel & Frank Skinner - Three Lions

I like Ian Broudie's Lightning Seeds. I like David Baddiel. I like Frank Skinner. And as an anthemic slice of Britpop, I even like this song.

I just don't like the football.

Plus, I kind of preferred Justin Currie's message to the Scottish team - Don't Come Home Too Soon!

9. Kiss - Comin' Home

A song about being on tour and missing your girl back home... and I'm sure Kiss stayed faithful the whole time.

8. Neil Diamond - Comin' Home

Another song about being on tour and missing your girl back home... but I like to think Neil managed to keep it in his pants while he was away. (I may be wrong.)

7. Shirley Lee -  Coming Home

Still one of the most unsung songwriters of his generation...
Two lovers stop you and ask
You to take their photo
Tears streaming down your face
They go and stand by the rail
The Bay behind them
Angel Island
And you’re already gone
You’re already gone
You’re already gone away…
6. Frank Turner - St. Christopher Is Coming Home

Nobody writes songs about friendship quite like Frank Turner. 

5. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Comin' Home

Bob prepares to welcome back an old friend who left for the big city lights ten years back... and may well be coming back with his tail between his legs.

You can go home again.

4. Fleetwood Mac - Coming Home or Fleetwood Mac - Coming Home

So it turns out there are two completely different Fleetwood Mac songs with this title... and neither of them sound like anything you'd expect a Fleetwood Mac song to sound.

The first is from the group's original incarnation in 1968, when they were Peter Green's British blues band (although the eponymous Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were knocking around on drums and bass respectively).

The second is even more bizarre. Taken from the band's NINTH album in 1974, this was written by then lead singer Bob Welch (who was soon after replaced by Lindsey Buckingham) and it sounds like some kind of trippy psychedelia. Still, it was the first Mac album to crack the American charts... so I guess they were heading in the right direction.

3. Half Man Half Biscuit - Paintball's Coming Home

To the tune of He's Got The Whole World In His Hands, Nigel Blackwell prepares for the visit of some annoying neighbours / friends / relatives. Who they are or why they're coming to call is unimportant... but he gives us plenty of reasons to dread their arrival.
They were due on the Crystal Maze
Yeah, they were due to go on the Crystal Maze
Yeah, they were due on the Crystal Maze
But they got mugged in Florida
2. Richard Hawley - Coming Home

One of his earliest songs: like listening to an old radio picking up broadcasts from another era...

1. Mel Tormé & The Cookies - Comin' Home Baby

Love this - although it does have rather a bizarre history. Tormé was a white jazz crooner from the Sinatra era, persuaded to record this infectious pop-soul number in the early 60s with girl group The Cookies pretty much against his wishes, by all accounts. He didn't think much of the song but it went on to become a pretty big hit... later revived by Northern Soul DJs, which just goes to show those guys knew their stuff. Much later covered by Bublé, who doesn't make a bad crack at it... but the original is still the best.

Which one are you coming home to?

Sunday 15 March 2015

My Top Ten Songs About Loving Your Mum

Ten songs for Mother's Day. And for my mum (though she'll probably only like the first one). Also dedicated to a good friend of mine who lost his mother very recently. Thinking of you, mate.

Look after your mum - not just on Mother's Day.

10. J.J. Barrie - No Charge

Originally recorded by Melba Montgomery, but it was the J.J. Barrie version that made Number One in the UK singles chart in 1976. A little boy takes him mum a bill for all the chores he's done that week... his mum's response will touch your heart. If you can look past the schmaltz...
For the nine months I've carried you growin' inside me, no charge
For the nights I've sat up with you, doctored you, prayed for you, no charge
For the ties, folding clothes and for wipin' your nose, there's no charge
When you add it all up, the full cost of my love is, no charge
Seriously, if you can listen to the last verse without getting a tear in your eye... you're one heartless son of a gun.

9. Snoop Dogg - I Love My Momma

From the sublime to the snoopdiculous.
She taught me everythang, but she didn't charge a fee
She taught me everythang, except how to see a G
For the nine months you carried, I hope you bury me
Instead of the other way around, and I put that on Dogg Pound
I made you cry, you made me smile
I just wanna say I love you for life
And that's the reason why I'm here now
Love, Snoop
And if you think that's crazy, check out Mr. T's Treat Your Momma Right, sucker. Are you ready for some PAIN?

8. John Lennon - Mother / The Beatles - Julia

John Lennon never knew his parents very well. His dad left when he was a little kid, his mum (who he didn't live with; although she did buy him his first guitar), died when he was a teenager. Both these songs are dedicated to her (although Mother is also about his estranged father and Julia is also about Yoko... he never did things by halves).

7. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - Momma

Bob regrets coming home late...
I used to stay out evenings,
Stay out too late some evenings,
And momma would be there seething,
Back home.
Momma, she sat and waited,
Sat in the hall and waited,
Now I know why she hated
That phone.
And when I'd come in she'd grab me,
Right by the arm she'd grab me,
Lord, when she was finished with me,
I'd cry ... Oh, I'd cry.
But momma she never told me a lie.
6. The Divine Comedy - Mother Dear
It was not that long ago it first occurred to me
That my mother was a person in her own right
Neil Hannon isn't the Messiah... he's just a very naughty boy. Luckily, his mum can see right through him...
If I ever get arrested by the C.I.A.
Because they take me for a foreign spy
They won't need no lie-detector, all they'll have to do
Is make me look into my mother's eyes...
5.  Manic Street Preachers - Ocean Spray

James Dean Hatfield's heartbreaking tribute to his late mother, remembering the nights they spent in her hospital drinking cranberry juice together.

4. Eminem & Nate Ruess - Headlights

Considering all the nasty things Marshall has said about his mum in the process of cleaning out his lyrical closet, this song from his last album came as a real surprise. An imminent plane crash makes him reconsider his opinion...
So, Mom, please accept this as a tribute I wrote this on the jet
I guess I had to get this off my chest,
I hope I get the chance to lay it before I'm dead
The stewardess said to fasten my seatbelt, I guess we're crashing
So if I'm not dreaming, I hope you get this message that I'll always love you from afar
'Cause you're my Ma
Then again, Marshall's always been an unreliable narrator. After all, he casts the Fun guy as his long lost adopted brother in the same song. So I guess we'll never know if he really loves and forgives his mum...

3. Bruce Springsteen - The Wish

Bruce is known more for his songs about fathers and sons, so (as he admits in the lyrics), this 1987 tribute to his mum was long overdue. That said, while his relationship with his own father was famously fractious, it was Bruce's ma who set him on the road to success, even buying him his first guitar for his 16th birthday.
Well it was me in my Beatle boots, you in pink curlers and matador pants
Pullin' me up of the couch to do the twist for my uncles and aunts
Well I found a girl of my own now, ma, I popped the question on your birthday
She stood waiting on the front porch while you were telling me to get out there
And say what it was that I had to say
2. Paul Simon - Loves Me Like A Rock

Paul Simon's written a number of great songs about mothers, but this is probably the best. Whenever temptation comes his way, he remembers his mother's love and does the right think.

1. Sun Kil Moon - I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love

I only recently discovered Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon (thanks to Miller) but I've been blown away by his album Benji which was released last year. Kozelek's been around a while (he was originally in the Red House Painters back in the 90s) and you can tell it by the beauty, depth and intelligence of his starkly autobiographical songwriting. Here he reveals that his 75 year old mother is also his best friend... and wonders what he'll do when she's no longer around. Hankies at the ready...
When she's gone, I'll miss our slow easy walks
Playing Scrabble with the chimes of the grandfather clock
I'll even miss the times that we fought
But mostly I'll miss being able to call her and talk 

Which one would you pick for your mum?

Wednesday 11 March 2015

My Top Ten Come Home Songs

When I started doing these Top Tens on the old blog... probably about seven or eight years ago now... they were mostly full of indie bands. That's rarely the case these days, but every now and then a topic seems to bring them out of the woods. 

Here's ten songs asking / telling you to 'Come Home!' Next week, a reply post - ten 'I'm Coming Home!' songs. (So save those for then.)

Special mention to Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) which would have made the Top Three if I allowed Christmas songs in March...

10. The Coral - Come Home

I generally like the idea of The Coral better than the reality. Space did the wacky Scousers routine a bit better in my humble opinion.

9. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - When Will You Come Back Home?

Wonder if people still annoy him by putting a B on the front of his name? Surely he's been in the go long enough now to leave that behind.

8. The Rakes - Leave The City And Come Home

A night out in London makes the Rakes want to go home. Amusing lyrics on this one. 
In the bar your mates spot a celebrity
But you're not fussed by the gay guy off CBBC
Limos ferry hen-nights to the West End
The night is dragging it's heels to the end
Now he's in your face
"Got any drugs on you mate?"
You get out for some peace
Still get home by half 3 (leave the city and come home)
7. The Broken Family Band - Come On Home

 A much missed band; this one comes from their album Balls. 'Nuff said.

6. Placebo - Come Home

The opening track on Placebo's debut, back in the grand old days of 1996. Brian Molko described this one as "pop punk for postponed suicides". But he always was a bit of a one.

5. Franz Ferdinand - Come On Home

Also from a debut album: arguably still their best. (None of the others namedrop Terry Wogan.)

4. The Charlatans - Come Home, Baby

Very cool song from the highly acclaimed new LP from The Charlatans (which I have out on loan from the local library at the moment - and yes, it's pretty cool)... though I don't think Tim Burgess has looked like he does in this video for a LONG time now. 

3. The Divine Comedy - Come Home Billy Bird

A typically quirky story single about an international business traveller (with a pigeon head in the video) who wakes up after a wild night of debauchery and has to make it home in time for his son's big football game. Only Neil Hannon could have written this one.

2. Fine Young Cannibals - Johnny Come Home

Though they only ever released two albums, Roland Gift's Fine Young Cannibals are fondly remembered round these parts. Mixing jangly guitars and a nice bit of brass with Gift's soul singer tonsils, they made some of the most distinctive pop songs of the 80s. This was their debut single from 1985, the year Marty McFly first travelled back in time.   

1. James - Come Home

After 8 years knocking around the indie charts, James finally started to bother the real Top 40 in 1990. It was a dark time for decent music and James offered everything we needed in a pop band - big hooks, heartfelt choruses and a bonkers frontman. Come Home equalled its predecessor, How Was It For You, making Number 32 with a bullet... but it was a start, and not soon after Sit Down broke them into the Top Ten. Come Home is probably a better song though, with its wailing sirens, impassioned pleading and Tim Booth waving a big stick around in the desert-set video. And it still sounds fresh 25 years later...

Which one makes you want to come home?

Friday 6 March 2015

My Top Ten 'I Hate You' Songs

Seriously, guys, hate is such a negative emotion, m'kay. Can't we all, like, just learn to love one another...

(Special mention - tying into last week's post - to the song I Hate You recorded for the soundtrack of Star Trek IV by fictional band The Edge of Etiquette.)

10. The Monks - I Hate You

60s garage rock classic from a bunch of American GIs who were also a band. Immortalised because it's one of the songs playing in the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski. You mark that frame an 8, and you're entering a world of pain, Smokey...

9. Symposium - The Answer To Why I Hate You

Clumsily lumped in with the Britpop crowd, though they were much louder and more energetic. Maybe Damon got the idea for Song 2 from this lot? (Probably not.) Still, I never hated them.

8. Honeyblood - Super Rat
You are the smartest rat in the sewer...
As opening lines go, you know this love song isn't going to end well.

7. The Stranglers - I Hate You

The Stranglers go country: excellent!

6. Little Man Tate - Mann I Hate Your Band

Sadly remembered now as riding the coat tails of fellow Sheffield poets the Arctic Monkeys, I always felt LMT had the potential to step out of Alex Turner's shadow. But they obviously had some pretty negative experiences in the music industry... as this track illustrates.

See also the even angrier I Hate Your Band by Keith Top Of The Pops & His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band.

5. Green Day - Platypus (I Hate You)

Don't worry, platypus, I'm sure Green Day don't really hate you...

Dickhead, fuckface, cock-smoking, motherfucking asshole
Dirty twat, waste of semen, hope you die...

On second thoughts... maybe it's your duck's bill? Some people are so duck's bill-ist. It makes me sick.

4. Erasure - Love To Hate You

Because we should always try to find time for a little Erasure in our lives.

I love to read a murder mystery
I love to know the killer isn't me...

And check out that video - they really don't make 'em like that anymore.

3. The Beautiful South - In Other Words I Hate You

The b-side to TBS's only Number One, A Little Time, this is crammed with typically Heaton barbs.

Those winter nights just spent indoors
That criminal fizz in the drink he pours
We smooch all night to "The Theme From Jaws"
(In other words I hate you)

See also I Hate You (But You're Interesting), a haunting response to their own I Love You (But You're Boring).

I went to see a doctor and she said 'Yes, go ahead'
'Throw yourself into the sea'
I wrote a will for my friends
And this is how it read
'Me, me, me, me, me, me, me'
No friends, everything for me, me, me
No friends, just me, just me

I love the way that one switches from haunting acoustic guitar to jaunty seaside piano and back again

2. Kelis - Caught Out There

Yes, it's a female empowerment anthem, and infidelity is a horrible thing so Kelis's hatred is well justified... but you've got to spare a thought for the bloke. No, wait, hear me out... you've got to have some balls to go messing around behind a woman like Kelis's back. I mean, she will cut them off in a heartbeat, sunshine.

Oh, sorry, was he not all there? My bad.

(P.S. Kelis, honey - you need a bigger bath towel.)

1. Ugly Kid Joe - Everything About You

What I liked about this song - and felt UKJ could have developed further rather than resorting to bizarre Harry Chapin covers and a fast slide into obscurity - was its bouncy sense of fun. There wasn't a lot of that going around in rock music at the time. Fun had pretty much died out in the late 80s (apart from when we were laughing at Axl for being a dick) and grunge nailed the coffin shut. Imagine if Nirvana had had a sense of humour... only I guess they wouldn't have been Nirvana, wouldn't have surfed the zeitgeist as they did, wouldn't have sold half as many records... but Kurt might still be with us. Is it better to live fast, die young and leave a miserable-looking corpse... or still be around 30 years later (the Uglies apparently reformed in 2010) even though most people only remember you as a one hit wonder?

Which one do you hate the least?
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