Monday 29 June 2015

My Top Ten Ice Cream Songs

As the UK prepares for a heatwave, here's a few ice creams to cool you down if it gets too hot...

Oh, by the way, that new ice cream-themed Blur album I was talking about a few weeks back... Magic Whip... did it stand the test of time?

Not really. Actually, the more I listened to it, the more I found it rather annoying. Maybe my Blur days are behind me. I'd rather listen to Brad Paisley. (Here they are anyway, make up your own mind: Blur - Ice Cream Man).

10. Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

OK, so I was a big Queen fan growing up... Hence, when this came out in 1990 - with its sampled bastardisation of Under Pressure - I considered it a crime against nature. I wasn't alone: many critics and proper hip hop stars took the piss out of Robert Van Winkle - especially when he initially claimed the sample wasn't a sample at all. Still, it was a Number One record all across the world (scandalously, the first hip hop song to make Number One on the Billboard chart in America) and I've developed a grudging appreciation for it over the years. I'm not claiming it's a good record, but like a lot of good pop music it reminds me of a specific moment in my life. I was 18... and I had no idea. Just like that infamous "lyrical poet" whose "style is like a chemical spill"...

Watch out though: this record will kill your brain like a poisonous mushroom.

9.  New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream

Tahita Rotardier Bulmer can give you what you want. I bet she wants to give her parents a slap for naming her that though.

8. Van Halen  - Ice Cream Man

I don't know why it is, but many of the ice cream songs in my collection appear to be thinly veiled metaphors for sexy-time stuff. Van Halen, of course, would never lower themselves to such dubious shenanigans...

Yeah, right. 

7. Glasvegas - Ice Cream Van

A rarity then: an ice cream song that's not about sexy-time stuff. It's not about ice cream either... instead, it's about how all politicians are scumbags. Or something. It is über-atmospheric though. 

6. Fight Like Apes -  Ice Cream Apple Fuck

Google says, "We do not have the lyrics for Ice Cream Apple Fuck yet."

And sadly, neither does the insert to the excellent CD 'The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner', from which this divine little ditty originates. From what I can make out, though, they're pretty mental. But then, you probably got that from the title.

5. Lloyd Cole - Ice Cream Girl

So - as is often the case - some girl is leading Lloyd a merry dance, leaving him feeling like a shady politician trying to sell a used car. We've all been there, Lloyd...
D'you want to crucify my feelings with your fingernails
And leave the loneliest boy in the western world
Cruising the streets for an ice cream girl?
4. Tom Waits - Ice Cream Man

If Tom Waits was your ice cream man... you'd have him arrested.
See me coming, you ain't got no change
Don't worry baby, it can be arranged:
Show me you can smile, baby just for me
Fix you with a drumstick, I'll do it for free
3. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers - Ice Cream Man

But if I were a Richman... I'd have ice cream everyday.

2. John Cougar Mellencamp - Jack & Diane

Not the first time I've featured this song on this blog... and it won't be the last. It is one of the greatest pop songs of the 80s in my humble opinion. But what's it got to do with ice cream...?
Suckin' on chilli dog outside the Tastee Freez
Diane sitting on Jacky's lap
Got his hands between her knees
Jack - he says:
"Hey, Diane, let's run off behind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please."
Tastee Freeez is a famous chain of American ice cream shops. Bobby Brooks were a brand of women's clothing. Work out the rest yourself.

1. Little Richard - Tutti Frutti

One of a handful of pioneering records that gave birth to rock 'n' roll, Tutti Frutti also boasts one of the greatest opening lines since "Now is the winter of our discontent" (or "Discount Tents", if you work in advertising).
(N.b. If you think Little Richard sings "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!" - as I once did - listen more closely. That was Elvis's version.)

But... is it really a song about ice cream? Not according to Charles Connor, Richard Penniman's drummer in the early 50s, who reveals here the song's original lyrics. You'll never eat Tutti Frutti again...

So - which is your 99... and which is your... erm... knickerbocker glory?

Monday 22 June 2015

My Top Ten Cheesy Chat-Up Line Songs

Don't you wish your Top Ten was hot like me?

If you're going out on the pull tonight, take this blog with you.

Ten corny pick up lines in song... apologies to Marvin (Let's Get It On) Gaye, George (I Want Your Sex) Michael and Franz (Do You Want To?) Ferdinand. You guys were just too obvious. Next time, serve your whopper with cheese. Or a little bit of metaphor, at least...

10. Arkarna - So Little Time 
Said I've been celibate for years,
Not out of choice there's no-one here,
See I can't give my end away,
Another ordinary day,
And I'd love to see a little more of you,
Your clothes would look better on my bedroom floor,
bedroom floor, bedroom floor.
This one's kind of here by accident. I'm convinced there's a better song out there that does justice to the old "I like your clothes - I'd like them more on my bedroom floor" chestnut, but I'll be damned if google can remind me what it is. Arkarna are a deservedly forgotten band from the Britpop era with two dubious claims to fame. Firstly, their guitarist was Lol (10cc / Godley &...) Creme's son Lalo; and secondly, they had a song featured in the soundtrack to Batman & Robin. Yes, the one with Clooney & Arnie.

9. Brad Paisley - Ticks

This is how they try it on in the southern states. Brad is such a cool dude though, he can just about make it work...
'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.
8. Steve Miller Band - The Joker

If you're a space cowboy, a gangster of love, or you're called Maurice, then you're allowed to speak with the pompatus of love. This largely involves using the following chat up line...

I really like your peaches
Wanna shake your tree

...and not (apparently) getting your head kicked in. Good luck with that.

7. Jimmy Buffet - Let's Get Drunk And Screw

Jimmy Buffet is a fascinating character, virtually unknown in the UK, but a big draw in the States among his devoted army of "parrot head" fans. Although the laid back, screw-it-all Margaritaville is his most well known song, this track apparently became an accidental jukebox hit when it was released as the b-side to his single The Great Filling Station Hold Up. You can guess why - though Buffet claims it was a throwaway song he wrote to parody various country hits that carried the same message... with a little more subtlety.

6. Labelle - Lady Marmalade

Of course, if you want to be as direct as Jimmy - yet a little more classy - you could always try delivering your chat up line in French.  Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?

5. Cinerama - Quick, Before It Melts

Always keen to paint himself as the indie Kenneth Williams, David Gedge brings the phnarr phnarr to this particular line - although it comes in response to a far more direct proposition of infidelity... Will a guilty conscience cause Dave a meltdown?
And when you said: "I've got nothing on beneath this dress", that was such great flirting!
I usually find such candidness sort of disconcerting
But you said: "I don't wear underwear because it leaves a stripe
People sneer, but do you think I care? They're usually not my type!"
And soon we're reeling from the beer that we keep buying
You ask me what I'm doing here and I start lying
You're wondering what is on my mind is it a one night stand?
You laugh and say: "Baby I'm not blind!" and then you squeeze my hand
But please, let's be quick before it melts...
Gedge might have nicked the line from a bawdy 1964 comedy film starring George Maharis and Robert Morse (Bert Cooper from Mad Men). If so, he greatly improved upon his source material.

4. Tavares - Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel

Tavares have now appeared two weeks running on this blog, making them the new Morrissey. Mozzer's own version of this particular chat up line, Angel, Angel, We Both Go Down Together, failed to score him any chicks.

Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel was originally a 6 1/2 minute track. When they released it as a single, they cut it in half and put one half on the A side and the other on the B side. Imagine trying to explain that to a kid these days.

3. Flight of the Conchords - The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)

Prince (who we'll get to in a moment) achieved his biggest hit in the UK by wooing The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. A clear example of hyperbole - and beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Hell, we could all be the most beautiful girl in the world to someone... even me. (Though admittedly, that particular someone would need a serious eye test.)

Anyway, Jermaine from FOTC chose a similar tactic for seducing his special lady... but he decided to scale back his expectations a little and make his lines a bit more realistic...

And when you're in the street
(Depending on the street)
I bet you are definitely in the top three
Good looking girls on the street
(Depending on the street)

Nothing like damning your chances with faint praise! But if that doesn't seal the deal... try this:

You're so beautiful
You could be a waitress
You're so beautiful
You could be an air hostess in the 60s
You're so beautiful
You could be a part time model
(But you'd probably still have to keep your normal job)

2. Prince & Sheena Easton - U Got The Look

You can, of course, blindfold yourself and stick a pin in the Prince discography and chances are you'll hit a cheesy chat up line of the highest order. (Just don't let him see you in the blindfold. He might get ideas.) After all, you don't have to be beautiful to turn him on. He just wants your body, baby, from dusk till dawn. And if he was your girlfriend, would you let him pick your clothes before you go out? Because, let's not forget - nothing compares 2 u.

However, U Got The Look must surely be Prince's most shameless coquetery. Although it does contain a line that, had Jermaine from FOTC delivered it, might have gained him a serious slap in the chops.

U got the look
U must have took
A whole hour just to make up your face...

Erm... what exactly are you saying there, Purple One? That I need to trowel on the greasepaint before you'll even give me a second glance?

Closin' time, ugly lights, everybody's inspected
But you are a natural beauty unaffected
Did I say an hour?
My face is red, I stand corrected!

Oh, all right then, I'll let you off.

It's not the above exchange that almost takes Prince to the top of this chart, however. It's the chat up line so direct... only he could get away with it:

Your face is jammin'
Your body's heck-a-slammin'
If love is good
Let's get to rammin'

Do you reckon that line worked on Sheena?

1. The Bellamy Brothers - If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me?

And so to this week's undisputed champion. You're forgiven if you thought this one was by Dr. Hook... even though I own a Bellamy Brothers Greatest Hits CD, I still always confuse this with the Hook.

The greatest chat up line ever was actually created by Groucho Marx. BB songwriter David Bellamy (no, not that one) nicked the line from Groucho... which means he was on rather shaky ground when he criticised Britney Spears' songwriting team for using the same line in her anodyne 2011 product placement hit Hold It Against Me. Between the two songs, however, there's no comparison. And I'm not just saying that because I'm 43 years old and I consider Britney Spears the spawn of Beelzebub. Which I guess ruins my chances of getting off with her tonight...

So, there's a party in my pants and you're invited... to leave a comment. That's all. Don't get the wrong impression.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

My Top Ten Quiz Show Songs

It's time to spin the wheel, double your money and decide whether it's deal... or no deal.

I tried to avoid referencing quiz shows that were obviously named after songs - such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire... Two Tribes, Holding Out For A Hero and The Great Pretender (really: google them if you don't believe me). Thank you for reading. You're so much better than the audience we had last week.  

10. The Fat Boys & The Beach Boys - Wipeout!

On TV, Wipeout was a pretty non-descript gameshow hosted by Paul 'not a lot' Daniels, then Bob 'Joke Book' Monkhouse. It's musical cousin is much more impressive though...

Originally recorded by The Surfaris, this 1987 remake teamed the famed hip hop-opotamuses with the legendary Beach Boys - and apparently it was all the Beach Boys' idea. Originally due to be recorded with Run-DMC, they were obviously hoping for a Walk This Way style crossover... and they got one. A novelty record, to be sure, but such a joyously fun one, it can't help but bring a smile to your face.

9. Sparks - Beat The Clock

Beat The Clock was an American gameshow that also featured for a number of years as part of ITV's Saturday Night At The London Palladium. That was before even my time. I was, however, fond of Mark & Lard's version on Radio 1 20 years ago... it even featured this Sparks track as its theme tune. Named after the American gameshow, Ron & Russell roped Giorgio Moroder in to produce this one. You can tell from the beat.

8. Greg Kihn Band - Jeopardy

Jeopardy is one of America's longest running game shows. Despite various UK versions (on Channel 4, ITV and Sky), it never really took off over here.

Greg Kihn's biggest hit (#2 in the states, though it only made #63 in the UK) benefitted from a bizarre, MTV-bait music video in which Kihn gets wedding day jitters and his bride shows her true colours (she's Skeletor's ugly sister). Then things get really weird. I'm guessing MTV broke a lot of US hits in 1983, songs that never received the same exposure on UK TV.

Weird Al Yankovic's parody of the song ties it even more closely to its gameshow namesake... and Greg Kihn even pops up to rescue Weird Al at the end of the video.

7. The Divine Comedy - Mastermind

Neil Hannon's specialist subject is crafting lush pop gems with arched eyebrows and twisty moustaches. He's started: I hope he never finishes.

6. The Sweet - Blockbuster (s)

You could argue that this one is a bit of a cheat, but how else am I going to shoehorn this classic glam stompathon into one of my Top Tens?

The TV show is notable - musically - for two other reasons. Firstly, Stuart Maconie's widely believed urban legend that Blockbusters host Bob Holness played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. And secondly, Half Man Half Biscuit's top tune Hedley Verityesque in which Nigel Blackwell confesses...

But I don't want anymore
Stark German film noirs
And I could well do without
The hand-clapping sequence at the end of Blockbusters...

I'd like a P, please, Bob.

5. Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way

Although it's not as obvious as the rest of the songs in this chart, this deserves consideration for actually mentioned a game show in its lyrics (not just sharing a name) and also: being great. When Sarah Cracknell's boyfriend gets home from work, he puts the TV on and gets his kicks watching Bruce on the old Generation Game. He needs to get his priorities right...

4. Tavares - Whodunit? 

You have to be of a certain age to remember Whodunit?: a crimebusting Cluedo-esque panel game quiz show that ran in the 70s, originally hosted by Shaw Taylor, then Edward Woodward, and finally Jon Pertwee (the host I vaguely recall).

While it's pretty easy to forget the show, no one should ever forget this top disco hit of a similar vintage in which the Tavares brothers (Ralph, Pooch, Chubby, Butch & Tiny) enlist the aid of a roll call of fictional detectives (including Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen, Kojak, Dirty Harry and McCloud... well, it was the 70s) to solve the mystery of "who stole my baby?" The problem was: everyone in the room looked shady...

3. Sleeper - Sale Of The Century

And now, from Norwich (!), it's The Quiz of the Week!

This week's Top Three relive the glories of Britpop with three of the genre's finest bands.

For many young men in the mid-90s, the big questions wasn't Blur or Oasis... it was Justine or Louise. Me, I've always been a Louise man.

2. Shed Seven - Going For Gold 

For those of us who grew up with Kylie & Jason era Neighbours, Henry Kelly's Going For Gold was the show we left the TV on for. A few years later, Rick Witter and chums paid homage with this, one of the best lad-rock tunes of the Britpop era.

If you ask me, Noel Gallagher lies awake at night wishing he could have written a song as uplifting as Going For Gold.

1. Pulp - Countdown

Of course, Pulp were around long before Britpop. And this is one of their very best songs from a time when very few people had heard of them. For many years, I carried around in my wallet a little clipping from an interview with Jarvis where he explained what this song was about, "feeling like you're standing on a launchpad, waiting for your life to finally take off". Why I did that, I don't really know. You do some pretty weird things when you're young and lonely and seemingly without hope.

Countdown is one of the longest running gameshows in the world - although the UK version (originally featuring the late Richard Whiteley and Carol 'I'm in Mensa, me' Vorderman) is still a bairn compared to the French original which has been on TV since 1965.

Those were my top quiz show songs... which is your Winner Takes All... and which one was Pointless?

Would you like to phone a friend?

Tuesday 9 June 2015

My Top Ten Dude Songs

Can't believe I've never thought of doing this one before. Ten songs dedicated to The Dude... or his Dudeness... or Duder... or El Duderino, if you're not into that whole "brevity" thing. Because... he abides.

10. Adam Green - Hey Dude

Adam Green's lyrics often crack me up. No idea what he was smoking before he wrote this one though...

Bob Dylan was a vegetable's wife
Game over, hope you had a good life...

9.  Scatterbrain - Don't Call Me Dude

I don't know a lot about Scatterbrain and I've no idea where I first came across this track. Described by iffypedia as an "American thrash metal band", this is probably their most poppy and commercial number - a Top 20 hit in Australia back in 1990. They're a band with an obvious sense of humour... and that always wins my attention.

8. Sonic Youth - Dude Ranch Nurse

Let Kim Gordon give you a shot and take your pulse... it's something to do.

Taken from the 2004 album Sonic Nurse, this track was named after a piece by artist Richard Prince who also provided the album cover.

7. Curtis Mayfield - A Heavy Dude

If the first three seconds don't hook you, you ain't got no funk in your soul. And if Curtis whets your appetite for groovin'... try this:

6. Quincy Jones - The Dude

Who is it
That ain't got time for foolish talkin'?
Who is it
That looks so clean you can't ignore him?

Featuring Michael Jackson, James Ingram and Patti Austin on backing vocals, they don't get much dudier than this one!

I'm a stone cold taker,
I'm a piggy bank shaker,
An' I don't waste my time talkin' trash...
So if you go to my school,
You gotta learn this rule —
Don't let your mouth write a check
That your body can't cash!

5. Kula Shaker - Hey Dude

Poor old Crispian Mills, forever cursed to be known as Hayley's annoying Britpop son. Give Kula Shaker some credit, musicologists - they were far less derivative than Oasis! This is their biggest original hit (their only other Number 2 was a cover of Deep Purple's Hush) and it stands the test of time pretty well.

4. Steely Dan - Any Major Dude Will Tell You

The album this came from, Pretzel Logic, is currently on rotation in my car. Great driving music - keeps the road rage at bay... unless you find yourself face to face with a wild squonk along the way.
Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine
The people on the street have all seen better times
A squonk, in case you're wondering, is a mythical Pennsylvanian creature that looks a little bit like a turd on legs (according to google images).

This song also gave its name to one of the greatest music blogs on the internet. If you've never paid that dude a visit, I recommend you do so immediately!

3. Aerosmith - Dude (Looks Like A Lady)

Originally titled 'Cruisin' For A Lady', Steven Tyler was persuaded to change the title by openly gay songwriter Desmond Child (Tyler thought it'd be offensive to the gay community, Child said 'bollocks' to that). Apparently the inspiration came when Tyler saw a hot blonde in a bar that he was about to hit on... until he realised it was Mötley Crüe vocalist Vince Neil...

Never judge a book by it's cover
Or who you gonna love by your lover
Sayin' love put me wise to her love in disguise
She had the body of a Venus,

Lord imagine my surprise!

Hey, take it as a compliment, Vince.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Looking Out My Back Door

The Dude's own personal favourite (until his car is broken into and they steal his tape deck AND his Creedence); some may dispute its inclusion here since the "dudes" of the chorus are often interpreted as "doo doo doos". But after The Big Lebowski, it's impossible to hear it any other way. I really hope The Dude got his tape deck back. And his Creedence.

1. Mott The Hoople - All The Young Dudes

If anyone ever pauses to question the prolific genius of peak period Bowie, consider this: one of his best songs, and he happily gave it away to save the career of Mott The Hoople. ATYD begins with one of the most memorable guitar hooks in the history of rock before the triumphant end of the world as we know it lyrics kick in - but we feel fine. A rallying call for a generation that rejects the Beatles & Stones in favour of T-Rex, this had to be re-recorded for BBC airplay because Wendy stole her clothes from Marks & Sparks. (It was the advertising they didn't like, not the shoplifting.) Apparently there's a version where Wendy steels her clothes from unlocked cars... but I don't think I've ever heard that.

Those were my favourite Dude songs. Which one takes you bowling?

Tuesday 2 June 2015

My Top Ten Laura Songs

Time for another name-based Top Ten, dedicated to Laura Marling, Laura Viers, Laura Cantrell, Laura Mvula, Laura Nyro and any other famous musical Lauras I've forgotten. 

It's weird - I've been doing Top Tens on this particular blog for going on 4 years now, and yet only four of the artists I feature this week have appeared here before. My record collection is getting out of hand.

10. You Say Party! We Say Die! - Laura Palmer's Prom

With Twin Peaks soon to return to our screens (hopefully with David Lynch still on board), it seems an appropriate time to listen to this noise again... but it's not the only song on this list that owes its inspiration to Sheryl Lee's infamous dead prom queen. Remember: the owls are not what they seem.

9. Girls - Laura

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want your band to be easily found on google, don't call yourself Girls.

8. Nick Heyward - Laura 

If your kids ever asked you what the 80s looked like, show them this video.

Have I ever told you how I met Nick Heyward once? Thoroughly decent chap. Etc. Etc.

7. Seth MacFarlane - Laura

Surely the most recorded song with Laura in its title, this was originally written for the 1945 movie of the same name starring Gene Tierney. So if I've got versions by Frank, Ella and Charlie Parker to choose from, it seems rather perverse to choose a recent recording by the Family Guy guy and Father of Ted. What can I say? Call me weird.

6. Billy Joel - Laura

Billy does his best angry John Lennon impression, right down to the sweary stuff. As to who this particular Laura was that got him so upset... let's ask Billy himself.

5. Bastille - Laura Palmer

I've reached the age where I look upon many of the popular acts of the day (Bastille, Hozier, George Ezra) with curiosity. Not because I don't appreciate their work; they've each produced some excellent records. However, much as I may admire their music, there's a sense where I know they're not written for me, that I'll never fall in love with them in quite the same way I did the pop acts of my teens and twenties. And maybe I shouldn't. Maybe that's contrary to the laws of pop.

Anyway, Laura Palmer. Good song... although I have to wonder how old Dan Smith was when Laura first got wrapped in plastic on our TV screens. Was he even born?

Yeah, that's the real problem with contemporary pop music. It makes me feel old even when I enjoy it.

4. Gregory Porter - Hey Laura

It's always good to see artists become successful later in life rather than in their teens or 20s when it's as easy as taking your clothes off or punching the drummer. Gregory Porter is just a few months older than me, yet he's only been releasing music since 2010. His third album, Liquid Spirit, has received all kinds of accolades, and Hey Laura is one of its standout tracks. Those in the know describe Porter's music as jazz, but to me it sounds like classic soul: you know, the sort they don't make anymore...

3. Ray Peterson - Tell Laura I Love Her

Classic teenage tragedy track from 1960, when dead teenagers sold more records than just about any other subject; this was re-recorded in the UK by Welsh singer Ricky Valance who took it all the way to Number One. Although Valance has the more rock 'n' roll name, Peterson's version just wins out for me.

Something else I've said here before: it's high time someone revived the teenage tragedy genre. The pop charts are crying out for it.

2. Bat For Lashes - Laura

Natasha Khan's finest hour. And hours of internet research went into trying to find out who it was about. Various websites suggest another Laura Palmer tribute, but BFL herself says it's just some anonymous mate, although that we're all, like, entitled to interpret it however we want. So if you know a Laura, it's about her... and she's more than a superstar.

1. The Scissor Sisters - Laura

Whenever I think about the genesis of the Scissor Sisters, I always wonder if some A&R bloke was on his way home from a B52s gig thinking "they were good...but not quite camp enough". Then he got some mad scientist to cobble together these guys, a band whose original name was "Dead Lesbian" (if Iffypedia is to be believed).

Laura was their first hit (in the UK at least: they never enjoyed much chart success in their native US) and it remains my scuzzy favourite.

Those were my favourite Lauras... but which one would you take to the prom?

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