Thursday 31 January 2019

Radio Songs #52 - The Ghost (Part 6)

After last week's installment of my (true life!) haunted radio station reminiscences, Alyson asked, "Did you ever research the history of the building?" (Lynchie asked a different question which I'll answer in a future post.)

While I didn't personally dig into the history of the building (if this were a film, I'd be sat in a dusty library basement going through old newspapers on microfiche), others claimed to have done so... or have known someone who did. I can't attest to the veracity of these stories, but for the sake of full disclosure...

The building our radio station was situated in was an old Victorian textile mill, previously known as a "Wool Warehouse". Built in 1864, it had since attained the status of a Grade II listed building and it was a very grand building with a prestigious entrance opening onto a large Art Deco spiral staircase which climbed five floors. Our offices (sales & marketing) were on the "ground" floor (which was actually the first floor, as the mill was built into the side of a hill). The studios - where all the occurrences thus far described took place - were in the "lower ground floor". Basically, the basement.

There was one "cellar" room at the end of a corridor which nobody ever went into. One day the engineer unlocked the door and let me look inside. There was slime going up the walls, dripping pipes and evidence of rats. (A colleague of mine - a large Australian copywriter - once cornered and killed a rat with his bare hands in the first floor sales office.) I started to call that room "Jeffrey Dahmer's cellar" after I'd seen it... that was a pretty topical reference back then, as Dahmer's crimes had only recently made the news.

There were three ways of getting into the basement studios. Firstly, you could go in that grand main entrance, through the sales office and down some much less grand stairs. Secondly, you could use the staff entrance which was at ground level, halfway down those stairs. Thirdly, you go in through the courtyard.

The courtyard was in the centre of the building. You accessed it through large roller shutters which had to be opened from inside, then drove through a short tunnel into an open car park which had space for about 6 vehicles. Roadshow vans were kept in there and that's where the bosses parked during the day. But on an evening, and weekends, because there was nobody else in the building, those of us who worked unsociable hours were allowed to park in there. From here there was a side entrance into the building which could only be opened from inside. It was a bit of a complicated procedure getting in there. You had to park outside, go in through the staff entrance, walk through the building, exit through the courtyard door (hooking it open so you could get back inside), open the roller shutters, drive your car in, park, close the roller shutters behind you, then go back in via the courtyard door, remembering to take the hook off when you did. But it was worth it to know your car wasn't going to be broken into... which it likely would be if you parked it out on the street after dark. I have a story about that, too... but, another time.

Is anybody still with me? I seriously doubt it.

Inside this courtyard, you could still see the vestiges of the old wool warehouse. Huge second and third floor doors which had been boarded up but once would have been used to take in bales of wool - the hoists which had been used to lift those bales up there were still in place on the walls.

The story, then...

The story was that a young boy working in the mill in days gone by had either fallen from one of those high doors, or that a rope had snapped and a bale of wool had fallen on him. There was another story of a young woman who suffered a tragic loom accident. Other tales were even more vague.

It's highly likely that someone did in fact die in that old building. It had been around over 100 years before the radio station launched and we all know that textile mills weren't the safest of places... my own grandfather worked in one and told some hair-raising stories. Whether any of this in any way explained the strange things that happened again and again and again in that building during the 70s (before my time), 80s and early 90s (I got there in '88)… well, you can make up your own minds about that.

Wednesday 30 January 2019

My Top Ten Songs / Not Songs

Something a little bit different this week - the battle of the song titles! One song says it is, the other song says it's NOT. Which will win? Well, I'll name my winners... feel free to disagree!

10. Sting - Fragile vs. Bachman Turner Overdrive - Not Fragile

No contest. BTO blow Sting out of the water. Serves him right for being so bloody fragile. And tantric.

9. Kacey Musgraves - Miserable vs. Frightened Rabbit - Not Miserable

I like the way this Top Ten throws together some unusual couplings. I'm sure Kacey will understand why this one must go to the Rabbit.

8. Kirsty MacColl - My Way Home vs. Nanci Griffiths - Not My Way Home

Two very classy ladies... but Kirsty obviously takes the crown.

7. Dodgy - Good Enough vs. Babybird - Not Good Enough

Dodgy bring the pop smarts... Babybird brings the heartbreak. Heartbreak wins this time.

6. Amy Winehouse - Addicted vs. The Streets - Not Addicted

She was. He isn't.

I'm gonna call this one a draw.

5. Magnetic Fields - My Only Friend vs. Teardrop Explodes - Not My Only Friend

Another draw. Too bloody amazing tunes... I'd forgotten both of them.

4. Blur - For Tomorrow vs. Courteeners - Not For Tomorrow

One of Blur's finest moments clearly takes this battle. Don't worry, the Courteeners will get another chance at victory in a moment.

3. Joe Jackson - Nineteen Forever vs. The Courteeners - Not Nineteen Forever

On their second attempt, the Courteeners clearly realise that 19 is a bit of a rubbish age and so leave Joe behind in his permanent adolescence.

2. Bruce Springsteen - Fade Away vs. Buddy Holly - Not Fade Away

Yes, I know there are other songs called Fade Away... but they're not on The River.

Yes, I know there are other versions of Not Fade Away... but they wouldn't have beaten Bruce!

1. Beck - Where It's At vs. Del Amitri - Not Where It's At

Beck may have two turntables and a microphone, but Del Amitri win this one by refusing to be cool... a bit like this blog.

Any other suggestions gratefully received. Or not.

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Hot 100 #54

Studio 54 was obviously going to get a mention in the Hot 100 this week, with Alyson, Jim and Rigid Digit all suggesting Chic - Le Freak...

Just come on down to 54, find a spot up on the floor, ahhhh

Alyson even wrote a whole post about this disco classic, which I'm guessing directed new player Alex G to get involved with another Studio 54- related suggestion...
Another song about Studio 54 is "Dario, Can You Get Me Into Studio 54?" by Dana and Gene. Whoever they may be! But the writer/producer behind it was the future Kid Creole, August Darnell, who later did a Kid Creole & The Coconuts version too, just titled 'Dario'. 
Bizarrely, even The Clash had a Studio 54 reference in Ivan Meets GI Joe, as identified by Rigid Digit...
Anything we should know about your change?
So you're on the floor at 54

Out of the disco, Martin offered a few choice treats, including...

Harry Nilsson, Take 54 - maybe not his finest moment, but includes the line "I sang my balls off for you, baby" which never fails to raise a smile.
You won't ever go wrong with Nilsson in my book, Martin! 

And not really my bag but Aphex Twin had this, 54 Cymru Beats,
recorded in Wales, perhaps?

Not really my bag either, but I'm sure it's nice if you're into that sort of thing.

Charity Chic was up next with this...

So basically, his girlfriend runs off with his best friend but on their way out of town their car is hit by a freight train and they're both killed. Sign me up for more of that, Wayne.

Meanwhile, the Swede had a 54 band for us... bending the rules, but that never stopped us, did it?


Then Alyson threw in this...

While Lynchie (still MIA on a Saturday morning) offered up this...

However, it's another reggae anthem which takes top spot this week... as suggested by most of you (Alyson offered up an Aswad cover while Jim suggested a 90s dance version which had the same title, but as it was by a band called Partners Rime Syndicate, I was just too scared to investigate further).

The best song ever written about being nicked for smoking da weed? You decide...

Next week... number 53. Surely there's only one serious contender for that? Your suggestions gratefully received nevertheless...

Monday 28 January 2019

Late To The Party: Alligator Songs

When you've been compiling Top Ten song lists as long as I have (7 years here, another 4 or 5 on the old blog), you often find yourself discovering new (or old) songs which you really should have included in Top Tens you wrote ages ago.

I thought I'd start an occasional series shining a spotlight on some of those... starting with this little gem from Jerry Reed, which would have been guaranteed the Number One position in My Top Ten Alligator Songs back in 2017... had I known of its existence back then.

I've been listening to Jerry Reed a lot lately and he's really put a smile on my face through the cold winter months. Hopefully this song will do the same for you on a dreary Monday morning...

Sunday 27 January 2019

Saturday Snapshots #68 - The Answers

Imagine all the people who can't work out the answers to Saturday Snapshots! How Do You Sleep when there's one you just can't get?

A pretty even spread of marks this week, with lots of you working together to piece together the clues. Charity Chic won with 3 whole points, but well done to Walter, Chris, Alyson, Rigid Digit and C for sterling efforts - and a welcome return from George, who christened the Christians.

Of course, I did goof pretty badly on the photo for clue 2. More on that below. Hang my head in shame. Oh, Nobody Told Me there'd be days like these... we better get some answers!

10. Neneh's spirit adds to division.

Neneh Cherry.

Spirit = ghost.

Adding & division are basic things you do in Mathematics.

Cherry Ghost - Mathematics

9. Denying the assassination, Lee takes the third train track to insanity.

When Lee Harvey Oswald denied killing JFK, he claimed to be just a patsy.

The third train track might be the C-Line.

Patsy Cline - Crazy

8. Apostles clean up the town.

The Christians - Hooverville

7. F1 equestrian assassins.

Formula 1 involves racing cars.

Racing Cars - They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

6. Piercing vision refuses gimp outfit.

X-Ray Spex would give you piercing vision.

X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage, Up Yours!

5. Tiny heads home for a quiet weekend.

Tiny heads would have small faces.

Hello, Mrs. Jones - how's your Bert's lumbago?

Mustn't grumble...

The Small Faces - Lazy Sunday

4. Big bad Wonderland. When will they be famous?

Big Bad Wolf + Alice In Wonderland.

Bros sang When Will I Be Famous.

Wolf Alice - Bros

3. Alien pal phones Morrissey because he hasn't had a good mope in ages.

ET's pal was Elliot. ET wanted his help to "phone home".

Morrissey was a Smith.

If you haven't had a good mope in ages, you probably miss misery.

Elliot Smith - Miss Misery

2. LimbibingA, futuristic fibre truck.

To explain how I ended up posting the wrong image for this clue... and bizarrely ended up posting a second picture of Wolf Alice, here's the google image search I used...

My lesson here is to never trust the NME. That bottom left pic - as C rightly identified - is another picture of Wolf Alice... even though the New Musical Morons have labelled it as a band from 20 earlier.

Despite all that, nobody got my clue (or at least, not as I type this). Hopefully it'll be self-explanatory now...

Bran Van 3000 - Drinking In LA

1. Fatal Moe indicates his way to heaven.

Fatal Moe is an anagram.

The indicator is a light that flashes on your dashboard.

Heaven is paradise.

Saturday Snapshots is finished for this week. Don't worry - next Saturday morning, it'll be (Just Like) Starting Over...

Saturday 26 January 2019

Saturday Snapshots #68

Everything Is Average Nowadays, isn't it? I mean... Everyday, I Love You Less & Less. Let's face it, that's just the Modern Way. Fortunately, Saturday Snapshots to make you all cry 'Oh My God! I Can't Believe It!' and bring a little Na Na Na Na Naa back into your weekend.

All you have to do is identify ten artists and ten top tunes from the clues below. Obviously: I Predict A Riot!

10. Neneh's spirit adds to division.

9. Denying the assassination, Lee takes the third train track to insanity.

8. Apostles clean up the town.

7. F1 equestrian assassins.

6. Piercing vision refuses gimp outfit.

5. Tiny heads home for a quiet weekend.

4. Big bad Wonderland. When will they be famous?

3. Alien pal phones Morrissey because he hasn't had a good mope in ages.

2. LimbibingA, futuristic fibre truck.


1. Fatal Moe indicates his way to heaven.

Never Miss A Beat... but if you've missed any answers, they'll be here tomorrow morning.

Friday 25 January 2019

The United Kingdom of Song #16: Derry

Across the sea to Northern Ireland today, to Londonderry, or Derry to its inhabitants, birthplace of the Undertones, That Petrol Emotion and D:Ream (but not their famous keyboard player, who came from Oldham).

Derry crops up in any number of popular songs, not least as the tune to Danny Boy: The Londonderry Air.

Lyrical mentions include The Streets of Derry by Shirley Collins, David Allan Coe's Crazy Mary and a song from Finean's Rinbow, How Are Things In Glocca Morra, which appears to have been recorded by everybody and their dog... but here's Babs doing it, because you can't go wrong with Babs.

This week's selection comes from another famous Derry resident though... Mr. Neil Hannon.

I was born in Londonderry
I was born in Derry City too
Oh what a special child
To see such things and still to smile
I know that there was something wrong
But I kept my head down and carried on

Thursday 24 January 2019

Radio Songs #51 - The Ghost (Part 5)

I found an old notebook over the Christmas period that I'd kept at the time of the spooky events detailed thus far in the tale of my haunted radio station. Back then I still entertained the ridiculous pipe-dream that I was going to be a writer, so I kept notebooks on everything.

Here are a few incidents that were relayed to me by colleagues at the time...

One DJ, first to arrive in the building, switched off the alarm and realised he was bursting for a wee. Ran down the corridor to the toilets... when he got there, the hand-dryers were both on.

A "very down-to-earth" and "not at all sensationalistic" (quoting from my youthful notes) journalist was working alone in the newsroom when a telephone directory (Remember them? Remember how big and thick and heavy they were?) "flew" off the shelf behind him and crashed to the floor. "It didn't just fall," he swore, "it leapt!"

Another early morning DJ, pulling his records off the shelves in the library to prepare for his show, heard a "grunt" behind him. He turned to look but there was nobody there. Moments later he heard the same grunt from further down the corridor. He was still the only one in the building.

Switchboard buttons were pressed in empty studios. This was reported by two separate colleagues - simultaneously working in Studio A and Studio B one night... they both realised the buttons must have been pressed in Studio C, which was empty.

The switchboard caused me similar problems some nights. Generally we had it switched off so it didn't ring while we were taking calls, the lights just flashed to indicate callers. A couple of times, the switchboard started ringing midway through the evening. The button was underneath the switchboard: you had to lift it up to turn it off or on.

And finally (for now) there was the whistle. I heard this twice. A loud, clear "whee-oo-wheet!" whistle heard from inside the room where I was working (on both occasions with another colleague who also heard it) when nobody else was present. Others heard the same whistle at different times.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

My Top Ten She's So... Songs

While waiting for inspiration to strike (and free time to ponder), I'm going through the backlog of old ideas for Top Tend I never got round to writing up. This one is pretty self-explanatory, other than to say that although Cyndi's album was called She's So Unusual, there wasn't a title track...

10. Rolling Stones - She's So Cold

Remember when The Rolling Stones tried to look like a new wave band?

9. XTC - She's So Square

Early XTC. One for Brian. (Although he'd probably put it much higher. Certainly higher than the next two!)

8. Kiss - She's So European

Aliens don't need to come to earth in spaceships anymore to find out about human life. They can just watch old youtube videos. Of Kiss. And vow never to come near this scary, scary planet called Earth.

7. Cliff Richard - She's So Beautiful

And even scarier than Kiss, there's Cliff. Video must be watched. Those pants are too tight, Cliff. And why is that baby flying on a wire? Safeguarding!

6. The Beatles - I Want You (She's So Heavy)

One of those Beatles song I'm kind of on the fence about. On Abbey Road, it works. On its own... it just sounds like them mucking about in the studio for seven and a half minutes without much of an idea of a tune.

5. Travis - She's So Strange

She pilfered all the petty cash and went to Birmingham.

Well, you would, wouldn't you?

4. Supergrass - She's So Loose

I Should Coco: still one of the best debut albums ever.

3. Blur - She's So High

Remember when Blur sounded like a trippy Madchester band?

2. The Boomtown Rats - She's So Modern

She's so 20th century.
She's so 1970s.

My Top Ten - making you feel old, one lyric at a time.

1. Blondie - Rip Her To Shreds

She's so dull...

Words that could never be applied to Debbie Harry,

She's so tired of waiting for your suggestions...

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Hot 100 #55

Aussie retro-rockers Ol' 55 welcome back out Hot 100 Countdown. If you're new to the feature, it's simple. Every week I choose a song to represent one number, counting down, from 100 to 1. Most weeks it's in the song's title, but occasionally we'll go for a lyrical '55 if it's a belter. I am helped along the way by you guys. Which brings us to your pre-Christmas suggestions...

C started the ball rolling by suggesting Precious by the Pretenders ("such a good song", she assures us):

"East 55th and Euclid Avenue was real precious..."

Brian seconded C's suggestion too.

Martin, meanwhile, is desperate to get some Zager & Evans into this countdown... but if you ask me, he's 5500 integers too high for this week...

In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you

(As he points out though, those lyrics seems pretty apt for 2019, never mind 5555.)

Martin also realises that the way to my heart will always be via Huey Lewis & The News... Who Cares?

Dimwits on the freeway stay alive at 55
Politicians speeding, just trying to survive

Lynchie then suggested an absolute classic... "Surely the main contender HAS to be the 1956 chart-topping hit by The Auctioneer by Leroy Van Dyke?"

45 dollar 50 now 50 dollar 50 dollar
50 dollar 50 dollar give me a hollar 50 dollar
Who will bid it at a 50 dollar bill?
50 dollar 55 55 make it 55 and a 55 make it 55 and
Sold that horse for a 50 dollar bill!

Works for me, Lynchie - particularly as my dad used to be an auctioneer when I was growing up.

And then came Rigid Digit. And he came to ROCK!

Sammy Hagar - I Can't Drive 55

It's worth sharing the album cover of that beauty too...

If only all problems at The White House could be solved by Sammy Hagar parachuting in with a red guitar.

Meanwhile, we can always rely on The Swede to parachute in with some totally out-there suggestions... and this week, he doesn't disappoint.

"German jazz-infused prog anyone? I give you 'Huchen 55, A', 'Huchen 55, B', 'Huchen 55, C' & 'Huchen 55, D' by German band Out of Focus, from their 1972 LP 'Four Letter Monday Afternoon'."

Couldn't find a link to that particular track... but here's the full album if anyone has a spare 95 minutes,...

The Swede also returned to trusty old Mr. Zimmerman, with a suggestion that might spark deja vu for some readers...

"Also for your consideration, 'Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence' by Bob Dylan, which includes the lyric '...I paid one thousand, two hundred twenty-seven dollars and fifty-five cents to see my bulldog bite a rabbit and my hound dog's just sittin' on a barbed-wire fence..."

Finally there was Alyson, with a hallowed offering from The Man In Black...

Johnny Cash - I Corinthians, 15:55

But in the end, this week's winner (as correctly identified by Martin) should have been obvious. We could have had the Eagles version, but apparently the original artist was never particularly enamoured with their cover, and who I am to argue with Mr. Waits?

54 next week. Your suggestions, as always, will be gratefully received...

Monday 21 January 2019

Neverending Top Ten #1.2: Gigantic

This is an Argentinosaurus, the biggest dinosaur ever to live. Cars are now so last year... Sam's big obsession now is dinosaurs. Even though he's only just starting to read, he's memorising an encyclopaedia of dinosaur facts. The tallest. The smallest. The strongest. The fastest. He knows which era they all lived in, which ones were carnivores / herbivores / omnivores, which ones preyed on other ones. We took him took the Manchester Museum last weekend to see the T-Rex skeleton there. He loved it.

You forget the wonder of discovery when you're old and jaded like I am, but if you're a parent you get to rediscover it through your children. The questions he's starting to ask - about the world, about how long we've all been here and where we all came from... all the things we knew once but have forgotten or just stopped caring about in and amongst the day-to-day mundanities. Children remind us to be amazed. One of Sam's books tells us that if the life-span of the earth was compressed into one year, human beings would just have arrived on the last day of December. Long term readers of this blog may recall that the song that was playing on the radio in the delivery room as Sam was born was Show Me The Wonder by the Manic Street Preachers. This song becomes more apt with every passing day.

The word Sam uses the most at the moment is "gigantic", so I thought I'd add this Pixies classic to one of our in-car CDs. It's a while since I've listened to it and I was quite surprised to hear Kim Deal on vocals... in fact, for a while I thought I'd put the wrong version on the CD. In my head, I was certain I could hear Frank Black singing it. Memory plays tricks on me, but then I am fast becoming a dinosaur...

Sunday 20 January 2019

Saturday Snapshots #67 - The Answers

And they called it Puppy Love... but I guess they'll never know the appeal of Saturday Snapshots, will they?

Some "tough ones" (they were all easy to me!) and a few Saturday morning lie-ins split the marks this week. Two points each to Alyson, C and Rigid Digit. 1 point each to Charity Chic, Walter and Chris. As I type this, #9 remains unanswered.

Hopefully you weren't Too Young to know all of these...

10. Telstar klaxons.

The Hooters - Satellite

9. Short 19th century queen of Arabia with a blackout on her mind.

19th Century Queen = Victoria. Shortened to Vicki.

Lawrence of Arabia.

Blackout is when the lights go out.

Georgia On My Mind.

Vicki Lawrence - The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia

8. Action Man stares at his favourite pie... decides to leave it for this evening.

When I was 10, having a bog-standard Action Man wasn't enough. You had to have the Eagle Eye Action Man.

Cherry pie... save it for tonight.

Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight

7. Henry's southern brother made a car that was too heavy for the road.

Tennessee Ernie Ford - 16 Tons

6. Ike & Eddie lose their other halves to a romantic ouroboros.

Ike & Tina / Charles & Eddie.

A ouroboros is a snake that eats its own tail.

Tina Charles - I Love To Love

5. Silence in Swiss convention.

I thought only Martin would get this one. Well done, C.

Geneva - No One Speaks

4. Ted needs these guys to help him stay loyal... crack on!

Devo + Ted keeps you loyal.

Devo - Whip It

3. Godlike beings shine a red light on Courtney.

Supreme beings.

Red light = stop.

Courtney Love.

Diana Ross & The Supremes - Stop! In The Name Of Love

Surely one of the most exciting intros to any song ever?

2. Religious bondage duo enjoy the shower.

The Jesus & Mary Chain - Happy When It Rains

1. Mobile undertakers at the terminus.

Clue of the week. Sometimes they write themselves.

The video for this was recorded after the Big O's passing. They handle that very well.

No need to wait until the Twelfth of Never - Saturday Snapshots will be back next week...

Saturday 19 January 2019

Saturday Snapshots #67

Welcome, Rich Girls and Private Eyes - we're Back Together Again for Saturday Snapshots.

Can you identify ten artists and ten top tunes from the clues below?

10. Telstar klaxons.

9. Short 19th century queen of Arabia with a blackout on her mind.

8. Action Man stares at his favourite pie... decides to leave it for this evening.

7. Henry's southern brother made a car that was too heavy for the road.

6. Ike & Eddie lose their other halves to a romantic ouroboros.

5. Silence in Swiss convention.

4. Ted needs these guys to help him stay loyal... crack on!

3. Godlike beings shine a red light on Courtney.

2. Religious bondage duo enjoy the shower.

1. Mobile undertakers at the terminus.

Want the answers now? I Can't Go For That (No Can Do). But I will reveal all tomorrow morning...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...