Tuesday 31 July 2018

Hot 100 #73

Looking at the album cover above, you'd be forgiven for thinking Prefuse 73 were a prog act. I mean, how Yes is that cover? Sadly not, they're a dance act. Lovely, if you like that kind of thing, I'm sure.

Number 73 proved to be the most difficult number we've encountered in some time on this feature, with only two lyrical offerings from you guys... though both of them are fine tunes.

The Swede suggested his old favourite Robyn Hitchcock with De Chirico Street...

I was followed home by a seventy-three on De Chirico Street

Whereas Rigid Digit offered the classic Beautiful South hit You Keep It All In...

Just like that murder in 73
Just like that robbery in 62

Excellent suggestions, but I did manage to find a few song title 73s in my own library... firstly from a short-lived British indie band whose guitarist would go on to join Courtney Love in Hole...

Larrikin Love - The Very Sad Ballad of Brutus From Number 73

Next there was this oddity from a Creation compilation, performed by Everett True, the music journalist who allegedly introduced Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love at a Butthole Surfers / L7 gig...

The Legend! - 73 In 83

This week's winner has nothing to do with Courtney Love though. Instead, here's UK chamber-pop artist Felix with a little ditty I stumbled across via the blogosphere a while back. I particularly like the opening lines...

Friday night is the worst night to be alive
Will you help me get out of the firing line?

Next week it's the number of my birth. 72. Long-time readers may think they've got this one sussed, but years are not always my first port of call. Your suggestions are welcome as ever...

Monday 30 July 2018

Talky Songs #7 - Don't Set Foot Over The Railway Track

Today's talky song comes from the first Thea Gilmore album I bought, 2005's Songs From The Gutter. Luckily, I bought the limited edition 2 disc version which had this tucked away on disc 2 - a poem Thea wrote in reaction to a parliamentary debate at the time about the social divide. There are a couple of short excerpts from that debate included in the recording and although I can't find anything to identify the speaker... it does sound a hell of a lot like Theresa May. It could be Ann Widdecombe though. It's definitely some heartless Tory git.

7. Thea Gilmore - Don't Set Foot Over The Railway Track

Don't set foot over the railway track
The heathens and the spin doctors are waiting round the back
The skies are always sullen and rain races to the tarmac
So don't set foot over the railway track

Don't set foot over the railway track
The grass isn't green, it's yellow and the pavement is all cracked
The graveyard's in a coma, the church has got the blues
And Jesus has a nose-ring and Mary has tatoos

And girls paint their skins like corpses and have hair ot scouring wire
And the men all look like demons, see them dancing round their fires
Every door has leprosy, every house has got the clap
So, don't set foot over the railway track

Don't set foot over the railway track
Hope you've not been speaking to the wrong kind of people, Jack
They'll screw you son as look at you if you let them gain a foot
This line's God almighty's way of saying that you'll stay just where you're put

'Cause they're all paid up party members with a red streak like a river
They're all standing there on their side saying "promise and deliver"
They are papering their walls with pages of Kerouac
So, don't set foot over the railway track
No, don't set foot over the railway track

Apparently, Thea was never particularly happy with her own delivery of the poem... which is why she chose to re-record it 10 years later with someone much better suited to delivering such material... the great John Cooper-Clarke. Listen to his version - it could well be one of his own poems! Great piece of writing, Thea.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Saturday Snapshots #43 - The Answers

You don't bring me flowers anymore... the least you could do is bring me the answers to this week's Saturday Snapshots. No need to feel Guilty if you didn't get them all right...

Martin was this week's winner, though he needed help with some of the answers from C, FurryBoots and ChrisCharity Chic gets extra points for the detective work involved in cracking #10.

10. Three step Eddie takes an E with a boy cat on the road to death.

A boy cat is a Tom.

Add an e to (Eddie) Cochran and you get Cochrane.

The road to death? Life.

Tom Cochrane - Life Is A Highway

9. Mo Farah heads away from the East End.

Mo Farrah is an Athlete.

Leaving the East End will take you to the Westside.

Athlete - Westside

8. CB airgun endorses Kate's cloudbusting prediction.

Yes, CB airgun is an anagram of Bic Runga.

In Cloudbusting, Kate knew that something good was gonna happen.

Bic Runga - Something Good

7. Made up flowers for the construction industry.

The base of make up is Foundation.

The Foundations - Build Me Up, Buttercup

6. David Ruffin discovers the edge of Stevie's paradise.

David Ruffin was a Temptation.

Steve Nicks sung about The Edge of Seventeen.

Paradise is heaven.

Heaven 17 - Temptation

5. Curling irons cause Sonny & Cher's baby to go missing.

Curling irons cause split ends.

Sonny & Cher sang I Got You, Babe. If their baby went missing...

Split Enz - I Got You

4. I feel my favourite ballads of all time.

I feel emotions. (Well, sometimes.)

My favourite ballads would be The Best Of My Love.

The Emotions - The Best Of My Love

3. When you quit like that, you'll get Cash with one last wage slip.

Johnny (Cash) gets one final Paycheck when he quits...

Johnny Paycheck - Take This Job And Shove It

2. Travel east for E-cigs.

E-cigs involve vapours, for Vaping.

If you travel east, you could be turning towards Japan.

The Vapors - Turning Japanese

1. Lucky boy starts to believe in purification again.

A lucky boy would be a fortunate son.

Believing something involves credence. Water purication makes it clear. Starting again is a revival.

Test your Memory again next Saturday morning...

Saturday 28 July 2018

Saturday Snapshots #43

If you're feeling Alright, it's probably because Saturday Snapshots is here again. I'd Like To Know if you can identify 10 artists and songs (that should have been Pumping On Your Stereo at some point or other) from the clues below, even though there are a few Strange Ones.

Get Moving!

10. Three step Eddie takes an E with a boy cat on the road to death.

9. Mo Farah heads away from the East End.

8. CB airgun endorses Kate's cloudbusting prediction.

7. Made up flowers for the construction industry.

6. David Ruffin discovers the edge of Stevie's paradise.

5. Curling irons cause Sonny & Cher's baby to go missing.

4. I feel my favourite ballads of all time.

3. When you quit like that, you'll get Cash with one last wage slip.

2. Travel east for E-cigs.

1. Lucky boy starts to believe in purification again.

Hopefully none of those will get you Caught By The Fuzz. Answers Late In The Day... or when The Sun Hits The Sky tomorrow morning.

Friday 27 July 2018

My Top Ten High Street Retailer Songs Vol. 1

A visit to the cinema on one of the nearby retail parks earlier this week confirmed that Toys-Я-Us has finally gone the way of the dinosaurs. I felt a bit sad about this, not through any loyalty to a huge American company which was too lazy to spell its name properly (or get its letters the right way round), but because I often popped in there if I had ten minutes to spare before a movie, to see if they had any toys Sam might be interested in that weren't extortionately priced. This got me thinking about all the big high street names we've lost over the last few years, and once again I felt a twinge of nostalgic sadness for the stores of olde that we'll never see again. Many of them have been immortalised in popular song though. Here are ten great examples (of songs, not stores)...

10. They Might Be Giants - Toddler Hiway 

A second appearance this week for TMBGs, with one of their earliest tracks, taken directly from their 1985 demo tape for inclusion on their self-titled debut album. Just 26 seconds of goodness...

In the mornin' sun 'round seven o'clock
The parking lot fills around Toys-Я-Us
And my little girl, she will get away
Ride her bike down Toddler Hiway
Take your Close'n'Play
Toddler Hiway

9. Manic Street Preachers - Sculpture Of Man

The shop most famous for selling that poster of a tennis player scratching her bum causes the Manics to go on an anti-consumerist rant...

Wills and Harry dressed in drag
Standing over the sodomised body of their mother
Would make a beautiful poster in Athena

8. Andy Bell - Electric Blue

Sadly, the Army & Navy Store was Erasured from existence some time ago, and you probably don't want to dig too deeply into why Andy Bell was a frequent customer...

Eyes wide electric baby
All dyed in cobalt blue
Stole from the Army Navy store
Army Navy store

My dominatrix baby
Dolled up in rubber tube
Hey have you done me lately?

7. The Monochrome Set - Two Fists

Sold all their shops to WH Smiths 20 years ago. Three years earlier, The Monochrome Set wrote this...

I know you're as hot as hell and the summer is high
You've got a mind to make love but that means
Someone must die

And I can see what's coming like a rusty nail
It fits right into your world view like a wind in a sail

But that's what love is about or what else am I here for?
I guess I'll wait in John Menzies then I'll go back for more

6. Scritti Politti - Mrs. Hughes

I used to hate going in BHS when I was a kid. "It's too hot," I used to tell my mum. I'm not sure if it was too hot, because I never went in there as an adult. Then one day, it wasn't there anymore. Only Green remembers it now...

Tell me again and I'll touch Mrs. Hughes
You've got her confidence you get to choose
I can hardly refuse

Down the town center where somebody died
By British Home Stores just sitting outside
Looking self satisfied
But the point was beside

5. X-Ray Spex - Warrior In Woolworths

Poly Styrene pays tribute to the home of Pick n Mix. I had less problem with being dragged into Woolies as a kid. Bought some of my first records there too.

Warrior in Woolworths
Humble he may seem
Behind his servile innocence
He plots and he schemes

See also The Jam - Saturdays Kids...

Saturday's girls work in Tescos and Woolworths

4. Nick Heyward - These Words

Nicest pop star I ever met. Have I said that before?

Homebase, on the other hand: just too bloody expensive to survive.

I love Elvis
She loves Woodstock
I love Homebase
She loves sunblock
How many times can you make a stand
To fall from the highest of all you've said and done?

3. T-Rex - Misfit 

Long before McDonalds, there was Wimpy. Marc Bolan was buying his burgers there way back in 1966!

Wimpy bar misfit
I don't wanna be
Like Billy the kid
Left hangin' from no tree.

See also Jethro Tull - Up To Me...

Take you to the cinema
And leave you in a Wimpy Bar 
You tell me that we've gone too far 
Come running up to me

2. The Specials - Man At C&A

Even nuclear war does not phase the man at C&A.

I'm the man in grey, 
I'm just the man at C&A
And I don't have a say 
In the war games that they play

See also Half Man Half Biscuit - Venus In Flares...

The man behind the mask at C&A’s was quite polite
He said that when I wore my mac I wouldn't have to fight

1. The Freshies - I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Check-out Desk

What Frank Sidebottom did before he became Frank Sidebottom... hung around the Virgin Megastore all Saturday...

It has to be said that if you were a young lady when I was growing up, then 10 points were immediately added to your sex appeal if you worked in a record shop. Whether you would actually want to appeal to the sort of losers who spent all their Saturday afternoons flicking through the racks... well, that's another matter entirely.

Nobody is allowed to mourn the Virgin Megastore for one simple reason: Richard Branson is a dick.

Any old stores in your record collection? Or have the all closed down?

Thursday 26 July 2018

Grumpy Old Men Songs #8: Quit While You're Ahead

I read an excellent interview with Billy Joel the other day in which he finally opened up about why he hasn't recorded any new material in 25 years. Being a huge fan of his when I was growing up, it's a question I've wanted a proper answer to for ages. Summing it up: he wasn't particularly pleased with the reaction to his last album, 1993's River of Dreams; he felt the music industry was leaving him behind; he felt he'd done what he had to and was getting frustrated that he couldn't "be as good" as he wanted to be; he reckoned The Beatles did 12 albums, then called it a day... why should he carry on slogging his heart out writing and recording new material if all it meant was diminishing returns artistically?

Now I know some of you share my love for Mr. Joel... and others think he's an MOR joke. But you've got to admire his integrity in making the decision to call it a day when he did. One quote summed it up for me...
Elton [John] would say to me, “Why don’t you put out more albums?” I would say, “Why don’t you put out less albums?” I didn’t want to come out and say, “You’re dragging down your legacy.”
After reading that interview, I dug out Billy's aforementioned 12th and final album and gave it a spin. It's a record I bought the week it came out in 1993, Billy meant that much to me back then, but I haven't listened to it a whole lot since and I don't consider it one of his best. There's some good songs on there though, and I was surprised by how many of the lyrics appear now to be announcing his departure... we had no idea at the time, but maybe he suspected it, even when he was writing it. The last track's even called Famous Last Words... but this is the one I've chosen to play today.

Billy was 44 when he wrote these lyrics, two years younger than me. See, it's OK to be a Grumpy Old Man in your mid-40s. It really is...

Some things were perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth
No doubts and nothing to fear, I claimed the corner on truth
These days it's harder to say I know what I'm fighting for
My faith is falling away
I'm not that sure anymore

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colours I see

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Neverending Top Ten #7.1 - Iranian Magpies

Since the World Cup finished, Sam's obsession with it has hardly diminished. Again though, it's not the actual football he's interested in (thank god!) but the countries, the flags, the competition and the stats. He has memorised the flag of ever country that took part and learned to write each one's name on his chalkboard. His tattered World Cup scorecard has become his most treasured possession. He now re-enacts games between countries with his toy cars - they're not playing football, just racing across the living room - but each car represents a country and each one has to qualify, beat its rival to get in the last 16, then race to decide the overall winner. The imagination of a 4 year-old!

The other day, he came home from nursery and started discussing the various countries again when Iran came up.

"Jameson has been on holiday to Iran," he said. (Jameson is one his nursery friends, not the editor of the Daily Bugle. In case you were wondering.)

"I don't think he has," I said. "People don't usually go on holiday to Iran."

"He has," Sam replied. "He saw a magpie there."

Pretty much conclusive proof right there, I'm sure you'd agree.


We're getting there.

"The other morning," Louise told me later, "Sam was driving me up the wall singing that bloody song about Constantinople!"

I, of course, was held fully responsible for this.

7.1 They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Originally recorded in 1953 by Canadian band The Four Lads, iffypdeia tells me that this was "written on the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans". I wish I could claim such historical knowledge myself. Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.

The They Might Be Giants version was released as the follow-up single to their sole chart hit, Birdhouse In My Soul, and was also featured on the same album, Flood... an album I remember purchasing way, way back in the dim and distant past of 1990. Great album, great hit, great follow-up single... though this one only reached #61 in the charts.

I see it as my duty as a father to make sure Sam grows up knowing songs such as this...

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Hot 100 #74

I think we'll call this week pretty much unanimous, shall we, and just spend the rest of the morning sat out in the garden?

With apologies to The Connells, who were cheated out of a place on the countdown for the second week running, and Mott The Hoople who had a great lyrical offering with Saturday Gigs... although, as Charity Chic pointed out, they can enter this song again for the next five weeks.

C was the first to suggest this week's winner, but she soon found support from Lynchie, Charity Chic, Rigid Digit and Alyson. I don't think any song has ever received so many votes on this feature, and while that wouldn't always sway the judge... I have to admit, Teenage Lament '74 may well be my favourite Alice Cooper song (although I do also have a soft spot for his cheesy 80s output).

Here's something you might not know about Teenage Lament '74. (I didn't, until now.) Who sings backing vocals?

Only Ronnie Spector, Labelle, the Pointer Sisters... and Liza Minnelli. No, I'm not making that up.

I ran into my room
And I fell down on my knees
Well, I thought that fifteen
Was gonna be a breeze
I picked up my guitar
To blast away the clouds
But somebody in the next room yelled
"You gotta turn that damned thing down!"


Will '73 be as easy to call? I doubt it. Your suggestions welcome...

Monday 23 July 2018

2018 Contenders - Lounge Monkeys

On paper, the first Arctic Monkeys album in 5 years, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, should be an instant winner for me. Backing away from big indie anthems (mirroring my own changing tastes in recent years) to pursue a sci-fi lounge concept album which allows Alex Turner's skills as a wordsmith to take centre stage, this sounds like it would be right up my street. And it almost is. I like it. Maybe a lot. But I don't love it, and once it goes on the shelf, I don't know if I'll be revisiting it any time soon.

During his time away, Turner appears to have been greatly affected by the death of David Bowie. The Dame's influence is everywhere on this record, from the ever-present sci-fi themes to the obvious disillusionment with staying the same and delivering the record your fans want or expect.

Reflections in the silver screen of strange societies
Swamp monster with a hard-on for connectivity
The ascension of the C.R.E.A.M
Mass panic on a not too distant future colony
Quantitative easing
I want to make a simple point about peace and love
But in a sexy way where it’s not obvious
Highlight dangers and send out hidden messages

Turner's voice even strays into Bowie territory at times, though it often reminds me more of Flight of the Conchords doing Bowie, rather than the great man himself. And while I love Flight of the Conchords, they're a lot funnier when it comes to parody than Alex Turner will ever allow himself to be.
Technological advances
Really bloody get me in the mood
Pull me in close on a crisp eve, baby
Kiss me underneath the moon's side boob

Lyrically, as always with an Arctic Monkeys record, there's much to admire... but not much that really speaks to me. I read an interview with Turner where he said that once he decided upon the sci-fi theme, he was flooded with ideas for words and phrases he could use... but sometimes I feel he's using them for the sake of it, rather than because they actually might communicate anything to the listener.
The exotic sound of data storage
Nothing like it, first thing in the morning

Other times, he seems to be using the Bowie technique of cut-and-paste, throwing words and phrases together at random to create abstract poetry, then leaving the listener to make up their own mind what it all means.
You and Genie wearing Stetson hats
Trying to gain access to my lily pad
There are things that I just cannot explain to you
And those that I hope I don’t ever have to

Turner's reached that awkward point where he's so detached from the real world that he can't write songs about discos and kebabs and taxi rides home in Sheffield anymore. He lives in rock star isolation in LA - what does he know about the everyman experience? He communicates the sadness and loss of that very well throughout this record

Still got pictures of friends on the wall
I suppose we aren't really friends anymore
Maybe I shouldn't ever have called
That thing friendly at all
Get freaked out from a knock at the door
When I haven't been expecting one
Didn't that used to be part of the fun, once upon a time?

The other major influence on this record would appear to be the last Father John Misty album, the one where Tillman rambled on to excess about what a bunch of useless tools the human race are, but forgot to include many actual tunes (a flaw he's rectified on his latest release, which I'll discuss elsewhere). There's a fair amount of rambling from Turner here, and a genuine sense of mid-life crisis - pretty scary for a 32 year old, but I can see why it would come earlier to a rock star.

I just wanted to be one of The Strokes
Now look at the mess you made me make
Hitchhiking with a monogrammed suitcase
Miles away from any half-useful imaginary highway
I'm a big name in deep space, ask your mates
But golden boy's in bad shape

The rest of the Monkeys struggle to thread tunes in and amongst this, but it's telling that the song chosen as a radio single - Four Out of Five - is the most traditional pop song here. On any other Monkeys record, it would be an album track or b-side at best.

All that said, I do like this record more than the above diatribe would have you believe. There are some great ideas here (amid the waffle) and some genuine flashes of the old Turner wit.

The leader of the free world
Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks
He's got himself a theme tune
They play it for him as he makes his way to the ring
And I do feel Turner's disillusionment, that's the overriding thing I take away from this record. Musically, it sits alongside last year's album by Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales, though I took that to my heart a lot more than I have Tranquility Base. Still, it's good to see this band trying something new and not just repeating safe former glories. And when Turner gives in fully to his inner Barry Manilow, as he does on The Ultracheese... wow!

Sunday 22 July 2018

Saturday Snapshots #42 - The Answers

Let Me Entertain You with the answers to this week's Saturday Snapshots. No Regrets if you got any wrong. You're all Angels for taking part...

Charity Chic was this week's winner with a last minute goal (lots of football references this week - perhaps The World Cup had more effect on me than I realised).

10. Aussie lady is loyal to honey in orbit with Roger, initially.

Australian ladies are known as Sheilas.

If you're loyal to honey, you might have bee-devotion.

If you're in orbit, you could be in Space, with the initial letter of Roger...

Sheila & B. Devotion - Spacer

9. Does Morse's sidekick have enough to buy dinner for Hicks, Murray and Clinton?

Well done to Chris for piecing these clues together - Morse would be proud.

Inspector Morse's sidekick was Lewis.

Hicks, Murray and Clinton are all BIlls.

We buy dinner with lunch money... don't get me started on that dinner at tea time nonsense!

LunchMoney Lewis - Bills

8. An old Stone has wood for Morrissey - making it as good as it was in the beginning.

An old Stone related to Wood would be Ron.

Having wood is a euphemism for sexual attraction. Morrissey was in The Smiths (no, really, he was).

Making something as good as it was in the beginning would be to return it to its former flory.

Ron Sexsmith - Former Glory

7. Atkinson gets up early to win the Cup.

Ron Atkinson was a football-type, meaning he was part of the Football Association and would be interested in winning the F.A. Cup. FA + Ron = blimey.

Early would be 4 in the morning.

Some debate over whether this was actually a photo of the singer in question - Martin committed the heinous crime of google image searching and google mistakenly informed him that the above photo was of "of long-dead minor character actor Louis Jean Heydt". Which just goes to show that you can't trust google image search to help you with this quiz because THIS is "long-dead minor character actor Louis Jean Heydt"...

However, if Martin's image search had revealed the answer to be Don Draper, I might have been hard-pressed to dispute that suggestion...

Perhaps this would have been easier if I'd used the photo I originally selected for this week's competition...

...but luckily I spotted the rather large clue in that image before I clicked 'post'.

In the end, I had to offer an extra clue to help you solve this one... Prefab Sprout! Every little sentiment's an antique. Charity Chic finally worked it all out, helping him clinch this week's title.

Saturday Snapshots: I don't just throw it together, you know!

Faron Young - Four In The Morning

6. And call the location of a small stream.

A small stream is a beck.

Beck and call.

Location = where it's at.

Beck - Where It's At

Still my favourite Beck song.

5. Scott's bride fails to find herself.

Scott (Jason Donovan) married Charlene (Kyle Minogue).

Charlene - I've Never Been To Me

I'm not sure if this will make you feel any better, Alyson, but I knew you'd be the one to get that.

4. Sprint back to the Holy Island.

The Holy Island is Lindisfarne.

Lindisfarne - Run For Home

3. Young Beckham crosses the East River - that's as bad as it gets!

Beckham's son is called Brooklyn. (To be fair, until I researched this clue, I thought Brooklyn Beckham was a girl. Shows what I know.) The Brooklyn Bridge crosses the East River. C claims this quiz gets harder every week, but she still solved this week's hardest clue.

Brooklyn Bridge - The Worst That Could Happen

2. Tell Gabriel to take a seat in Italian and celebrate the splendour of amore.

Oy! Peter (Gabriel). Sit-era!

Who says puns are dead?

The photo is of Peter Cetera today. If you want to see what he looked like at the time of Karate Kid II...

Peter Cetera - The Glory of Love

Rigid Digit turned up relatively late this week, and this is all I had for him!

1. Hen sees VD and Lucifer in my loafers.

Anagram of the week. Hen sees VD unscrambles as... The band Oasis always dreamed of being.

Phew. Need to go lie down in a dark room after that. Saturday Snapshots will return next Millennium... or next week, if I'm recovered.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...