Sunday 28 July 2019

Saturday Snapshot #94 - The Answers

I don't believe in Snapshots... I just believe in me.

Here's this week's answers. Thanks for playing. Well done to Lynchie for getting up first (and magnanimously leaving some for everybody else), and to Rigid Digit for hoovering up most of the others.

10. Bob the mailman has run out of numbers.

Congrats to Alyson for doing her homework.

Robert Post - Got None

9. Office worker with doll joins bandits at the station.

An office worker could be a clerk.

Guys & Dolls.

Guy Clark - Desperadoes Waiting For A Train

8. Predicting the fall of the opposite sex.

The Weather Girls - It's Raining Men

7. Old Blue Eyes meets Disney & White, following the end of everything.

Frank meets Walter Disney & Walter White... after all.

The Frank & Walters - After All

6. Johnny Marr's favourite chocolate bar gets a lift to lust.

Johnny likes an Aero to go with his Smiths.

Points to Ramone for going where others dare not tread!

Aerosmith - Love In An Elevator

Video of the week, if only for the first 20 seconds. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

5. Faustian lover becomes a Pickett, protesting sub-hairline sunburn.

Faust's lover was Gretchen.

Wilson Pickett.

Below your hairline (at the back, anyway) is your neck.

Gretchen Wilson - Redneck Woman

4. Kestrel genus swayed by wolf gang.

A kestrel is a falcon; scientific name: falco.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Falco - Rock Me, Amadeus

That never gets old.

3. He had 4: Joan, Margaret, Joan & Anne... but they're all a long, long time ago.

Joan, Margaret, Joan & Anne were the names of Shakespeare's sisters.

Shakespear's Sister - You're History

2. Overhead wires spark a half dozen warnings.

Jack White not pictured, as he only appears on this track.

Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage

1. Castaway cop looks for divine intervention over weeping sleepers.

Robinson Crusoe was a Castaway.

Smokey is a cop.

Divine intervention is a miracle.

Sleepers are what railway tracks are laid on.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. But Snapshots plans to be back next Saturday, unless life gets in the way.

Saturday 27 July 2019

Saturday Snapshots #94

Welcome Mamas, Papas, and those of you who are neither, to another edition of Saturday Snapshots, in a week when I doubt any of you will have been California Dreamin'... although a few of you might have been Siberia Dreamin'.

Solve the clues below to identify ten top tunes and the artists that warbled them. They're all Dedicated To The Ones I Love... i.e. you guys.

10. Bob the mailman has run out of numbers.

9. Office worker with doll joins bandits at the station.

8. Predicting the fall of the opposite sex.

7. Old Blue Eyes meets Disney & White, following the end of everything.

6. Johnny Marr's favourite chocolate bar gets a lift to lust.

5. Faustian lover becomes a Pickett, protesting sub-hairline sunburn.

4. Kestrel genus swayed by wolf gang.

3. He had 4: Joan, Margaret, Joan & Anne... but they're all a long, long time ago.

2. Overhead wires spark a half dozen warnings.

1. Castaway cop looks for divine intervention over weeping sleepers.

Answers tomorrow morning, so you don't have to wait till Monday, Monday.

Until then - Make Your Own Kind Of Music!

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Taking A Break

Apologies for the non-appearance of the Hot 100 this week, and for the absence of any other posts over the next few days (although I should still be able to keep Saturday Snapshots going for a while as I have a backlog of those stored up). Moving house is the priority right now, but work pressures are playing on my mind more than ever and though writing this blog usually provides a sanity-restoring lifeline in times of stress, lately it's felt more of a chore than a release. As we all know, when blogging gets like that... you have to step back.

The image above is what I'd like to be doing right now. Fat chance of that.

Here's the best song I've listened to today. Speak again soon.

Monday 22 July 2019

Neverending Top Ten #2.7

Saturday morning, on our way to Little Strikers football training (Sam will not - as his dad always was - be last to be picked for the team) when this song came up on the CD player.

The boy listened intently, and then, after a couple of minutes...

"The Rolling Stones are right, aren't they, daddy? You can't always get what you want, can you?"

Teach your children well.

Sunday 21 July 2019

Saturday Snapshots #93 - The Answers

All American Girl Carrie Underwood welcomes us to this week's answers - she's determined to stop Rol, Before He Cheats. Although she doesn't even know his Last Name.

(Look, I'm moving house in a week. Give me a break if the puns aren't up to standard. Also there is no suggestion here that I cheat when putting this quiz together. How would I even do that? Why would I even do that?)

Summer holidays are upon us, so I expect absentees over the next few weeks. Well done to Alyson for taking this week's early bird prize... and leaving some for others to crack!

10. Bodyline, perhaps? That's (how) to do it!

Bodyline was a cricketing scandal involving fast bowling.

Mr. Punch always said, "that's The Way to do it".

Fastball - The Way

Nobody remember this one?

9. Bogie in Florida meets Jeeves's pal... and Magnum's.

Bogie went to Florida in the movie Key Largo. (Great flick.)

Jeeves's pal was Bertie Wooster.

Magnum's pal was Higgins.

Bertie Higgins - Key Largo

Video of the week. If, like me, you have no shame.

8. Das Kapital? Winded.

What is the capital city of Germany?


Berlin - Take My Breath Away

7. Led Zep's mutt races to Camptown to find Armstrong Avenue.

Led Zeppelin's drummer was John "Bonzo" Bonham.

A mutt is a dog.

Campdown Races sing this song, doo dah, doo dah...

Neil Armstrong was a spaceman, on an Avenue he'd be urban.

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Urban

Yes, that was my token "50th Years Since The Moon Landing" clue, Lynchie. If I'd been cleverer, I'd have done the whole ten that way.

6. Black & white is dead... staring hideous amour in the face.

Living Colour - Love Rears Its Ugly Head

5. Size doesn't matter, not when you're running a temperature.

Little Willie John - Fever

4. Iv no job! Have to rely on our dad!


Our dad = Our Father. Which is a prayer. See? (If in doubt, try to work out if the most obvious song will fit the clue.)

Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer

3. Sailors' caps and disposable beakers found at the wedding venue.

American Sailors' caps and disposable beakers were both known as Dixie Cups.

Dixie Cups - Chapel Of Love 

2. Not a toaster, more an immersive visual experience... you crazy fool!

Toasters used to be cliched Wedding Presents. This isn't a toaster though, it's David Gedge's other band... "an immersive visual experience".

Cinerama - Maniac

1. A big hug if you take care putting the stickers on.

Get Out Of This Town! At least until next Saturday morning when it all starts again...

Saturday 20 July 2019

Saturday Snapshots #93

There may be A Million Love Songs in the world, but there's only one Saturday Snapshots. It Only Takes A Minute for you to solve the clues below... usually, anyway. Who's going to Shine today?

10. Bodyline, perhaps? That's (how) to do it!

9. Bogie in Florida meets Jeeves's pal... and Magnum's.

8. Das Kapital? Winded.

7. Led Zep's mutt races to Camptown to find Armstrong Avenue.

6. Black & white is dead... staring hideous amour in the face.

5. Size doesn't matter, not when you're running a temperature.

4. Iv no job! Have to rely on our dad!

3. Sailors' caps and disposable beakers found at the wedding venue.

2. Not a toaster, more an immersive visual experience... you crazy fool!

1. A big hug if you take care putting the stickers on.

The answers will be Back For Good tomorrow morning.

Thursday 18 July 2019

2019 Contenders: Western Stars

Western Stars is the best Bruce Springsteen album since Tunnel Of Love.

There, I said it.

Of course, Bruce was (in theory, at least) onto a winner with me when he decided to channel the sound of Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell on his first album in 5 years... 7 years if you discount the hodge-podge contract-filler of 2014's High Hopes as many commentators appear to be doing. But it could also have gone so wrong - I mean, this is unfamiliar territory for the Boss, shouldn't he play it safe and stick to what he knows?

Actually, history has shown us that when Springsteen doesn't play it safe, he produces his best records. Born To Run succeeded because Bruce aimed high and tried to channel Phil Spector. Nebraska succeeded because he released the demos he recorded in his bedroom when he realised they were more powerful than full band arrangements would be. Tunnel Of Love succeeded because he refused to make Born In The USA II, kicked the E Street band into touch, and released instead the most personal album of his career - the ultimate break-up record (or guilt-tinged new romance record, depending on how you look at it). Those, in my opinion are the Holy Trinity of Springsteen albums, and while Western Stars might not make #4 on my list, it certainly comes a lot higher than anything else he's recorded in the last 32 years.

Don't get me wrong, there have been many good songs on the albums released since ToL, but the records themselves have always felt late-career, past-your-prime efforts. We loved them because we loved Bruce. He even managed to tap into the zeitgeist on occasion, most notably on The Rising and Wrecking Ball, but the glory days were seemingly over.

Western Stars isn't a record that seeks to change that. Instead, it's a record that embraces it. It's a record about growing old, and looking back on your better days with regret, but also acceptance. It's been compared by some reviewers to Nebraska (or later, sub-Nebraska efforts such as The Ghost of Tom Joad or Devils & Dust), yet to me it's the closest Bruce has ever come to recapturing the spirit of Tunnel of Love. The music might even be better, because it evokes the wide open spaces of 70s Americana rather than being smitten to 80s synth-based production. (That doesn't make it a better record though... records we love are about much more than just music.)

Western Stars begins in the past with a song about freedom, youth and hope. Hitch-hikin' romanticises the freedom of the road just like Gentle On My Mind once did, and it's packed with classic Springsteen character detail. Then comes The Wayfarer, looking at the same subject with more sadness and much less romanticism. There's touches of Steinbeck or even Ray Bradbury in the lyrical detail here.

After this, age and regret creep in. Tuscon Train contains that recurring Springsteen theme of laying awake in the middle of the night with an unquiet mind. And then come the songs about old men looking back on their lives through wistful eyes, the central theme of the album, realised through Western StarsDrive Fast (The Stuntman) and others, bringing us some of the Boss's best character writing since... well, since Tunnel of Love. Clearly writing his autobiography and then performing it every night on Broadway has reinvigorated The Boss and given his creativity a new lease of life.

It all culminates in the penultimate track (and first single), Hello Sunshine - a bright and beezy slice of California Americana on the surface, though lyrically it's a tune all about staying one step ahead of the blues. It took me a while to truly appreciate its meaning, but once I did...

You know I always loved a lonely town
Those empty streets, no one around
You fall in love with lonely, you end up that way
Hello sunshine, won't you stay?

I've read a lot of reviews of Western Stars. Some I agreed with, one I threw out of the window. Ironically, the one person who nailed it was the man who Bruce took his inspiration from: God himself, Jimmy Webb. Although typically, God was full of humility in his response...
“I had heard these rumours and thought, ‘Is it possible that this is true? This guy needs us like a migraine!’

"I think it’s a very bold and admirable step, and it certainly shows that he’s connected with the ground. He’s planted down here with all of us. It shows there’s no snobbery in him.”

"I was amazed at how he locked on to the sensual pleasure that can be derived from loneliness. From what Warren Zevon used to call ‘splendid isolation.'"

"And yet, at the same time, he’s recognizing there’s a danger there. There’s a dark side. That lonely road has its appeal, but at the same time he’s cautioning you: Don’t get too far out there, as you might not be able to get back. That’s so intense and personal. The largesse of the artist in revealing that to the listener is amazing.”
The album's postscript then is Moonlight Motel, a song that almost seems to revisit the young lovers of Born To Run and find out where they ended up. The highway only takes you so far, that's what I take from it. For all those of us who grew up with Bruce (even those of us who are a good twenty years his junior), it's a fitting end to that story.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

My Top Ten "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover" Songs

Sound advice, I'm sure you'd agree. Here's ten songs that remind us not to do it...

10. Stevie Wonder - You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover

I'm not going to make the obvious remark here, because it would be crass.

9. Rupert Holmes - Nearsighted

I've been listening beyond Escape & Him. It's all part of my mid-life crisis that I feel the need to dig into 70s MOR whenever life gets too much. Here's Rupert Holmes singing a song about - literally - being nearsighted. Sounds a lot like Barry Manilow on this one.

I don't judge a friend or lover
By a first or second look
Nor a book just by its cover
I can't even see the book

8. The Castiles - You Can't Judge A Book

A rough around the edges live bar-room cover of a Bo Diddley classic. Hardly a great recording, but their guitarist shows promise. He could go far.

7. Dolly Parton - Backwoods Barbie

From the heart...

I've always been misunderstood because of how I look.
Don't judge me by the cover 'cause I'm a real good book.
So read into it what you will, but see me as I am.
The way I look is just a country girl's idea of glam.

6. Inspiral Carpets - Directing Traffik

You can't judge a man by his skin
Or a book by the cover it's in
But I can't help feel it's true
The devil's got a hand on you

Ray Manzarek, Clint Boon. That's how you start a list of the most distinctive keyboard players in the history of rock.

5. The Hawk - Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover (feat. Little Hannah Collins)

Must admit, I stumbled across this one by accident... but it's bloody good.

4. The Lucksmiths - Danielle Steele

She'd look beautiful in a tea towel
But she's dressed up to the nines
She's covered herself in make-up
But she can't make up her mind
She's a damsel in distress
She feels a damn fool in this dress
She lives alone
And I know how she feels
She has the mind of Sharon Stone
And the heart of Danielle Steel

Genius lyrics here.

Spends hours in front of the bookcase
A beast with two paperbacks in bed
She's read them all from go to woe
And arranged them from A to Z
And you can judge a book by it's cover
A kingdom for a horse, a condom for a lover

3. The Temptations - Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

A pretty face you may not possess
But what I like about you is your tenderness
A pretty face maybe some guys taste
But I'll take lovin' in it's place

Charming! You're no oil painting yourself, mate.

2. Aerosmith - Dude (Looks Like A Lady)

Legend has it that Steven Tyler walked into a bar, spotted Vince Neil from Mötley Crüe from behind and was about to go chat him up until he realised his mistake.

So never judge a book by its cover
Or who you gonna love by your lover
Love put me wise to her love in disguise
She had the body of a Venus
Lord, imagine my surprise!

1. ABC - The Look Of Love

If you judge a book by the cover
Then you judge the look by the lover
I hope you'll soon recover
Me I go from one extreme to another

I'm not sure that really makes sense, but Martin Fry's lyrics never really did stand up to much analysis. Fortunately, his tunes were solid gold.

If you judged any of my suggestions too harshly... feel free to supply alternatives.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Hot 100 #33

French metal band 6:33 welcome us all to #33 in our Hot 100 countdown. I understand their cover of Silver Lady by David Soul is especially worth seeking out.

33 (and a third) is the number of revolutions per minute made by a long-player / vinyl album. Young people will probably need to consult iffypedia about this, unless they're a hipster, in which case they probably know more about it than I do.

Since I think it's fair to say that hipsters do not read this blog, what do all you old non-hipsters recommend?

The Swede kicked us off this week with a veritable plethora. (Well, a "ple4a", anyway.)

The New Mastersounds - Thirty-Three

Smashing Pumpkins - Thirty-Three

Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters - Three Thirty Three

George Jones - Four-0-Thirty-Three

We could also have had It's A 10:33 (Let's Get Jesus On The Line) by the same fella.

Lynchie stayed out west with this one...

Waylon Jennings - The 33rd of August

It's the 33rd of August
And I'm finally touching down
Eight days from Sunday
Finds me Saturday bound.

I think he needs a new calendar.

And I'll chuck in this from my own country collection...

Kris Kristofferson - The Pilgrim Chapter 33

C popped up next with an offering that Charity Chic swiftly declared "the winner!" If only he was compiling these posts. (He's welcome to take over now that he's finished the already much-missed Double Letter Saturday feature. Save me the extra work as we get nearer to #1. Hint hint.)
How about when Grace Jones sounds a lot like Dusty Springfield in I've Done It Again from Nightclubbing?
I was there when Jenny Lind first sang
First to feel the cold Alaskan white man
First to take a trip on LSD
First to vote for Roosevelt back in '33

Next up was Rigid Digit with three solid suggestions...

Sinéad O'Connor - 33

Roger Waters - 4:33AM (Running Shoes)

The Jesus & Mary Chain - 33 1/3

To be honest. I'm surprised there weren't more songs with 33 1/3 in the title. The only other one I came up with was...

Public Enemy - War At 33 1/3

But wait! Martin had a couple more...

Michelle Shocked - 33RPM Soul

I can only find the lyrics of that on Michelle's website. The tune appears to be lost to the interweb.

Prince - Boom!

Run your fingers up and down the obelisk in the earth, 
Down to 33rpm where the primordial gives birth...

Ah, we do miss him. Although it is easier to find his songs on youtube now he's gone.

The Gaslight Anthem - Blue Jeans & White T-shirts

Still we sing with our heroes, 
33 rounds per minute...

Martin didn't limit to RPM-related suggestions though. He also offered...

Luke Haines - Christ

At the age of 33 and a third, the time that Christ spent on earth,
I decided to cut all ties with showbiz.
As the awards piled up in the bath, well I started to laugh
At all those who died in the name of light entertainment.

That came very close to winning this week, for obvious reasons.

Lou Reed - Sword of Damocles

Last night on 33rd street, 
I saw a kid get hit by a bus...


Manic Street Preachers - Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds  

Barclays iron eagle, 
33 injection...
That's a belter.

Then came Deano, who explained this week's selection thus...
Before he became outlaw country music's resident eccentric that would do anything for a publicity stunt, his debut album was actually some really good blues material, including this song about a fragile prisoner that has just received some bad news.
David Allan Coe - Cell #33

Finally came Douglas, who decided to try playing the Canadian card again this week.
For starters, I wish there were recordings available of any of Gordon Lightfoot's renditions of "The 33rd of August" which he apparently undertook in studio in 1969 as an attempt to put together a final contractually obligated album of covers for UA, which sadly was aborted and the decision was made to deliver with a live album instead. The recordings are out there somewhere... anyway, for the record I prefer the original Mickey Newbury version of this song to others out there.
(See above.)
But for Canadian content, I am left suggesting Stars' song Personal, which is a very sad short story of a song told back and forth through his-and-hers personal columns responses which ends with the heartache of being stood up. It starts thus:
Stars - Personal

Wanted single F under 33
Must enjoy the sun, must enjoy the sea
Sought by single M, Mrs. Destiny
Send photo to address, is it you and me?

Reply to single M, my name is Caroline
Cell phone number here, call if you have the time
28 and bored, grieving over loss, sorry to be heavy
But heavy is the cost, heavy is the cost...

Now that might not have won this week, but only because it's not yet in my collection and the winner must always exist in my own library. That said, it's a bloody good tune, so thanks for introducing it to me, Douglas... and it will come in very well on the Top Ten Lonely Hearts Column Songs I've been trying to compile for months now. (Note to everybody: I need another three good ones.)

Speaking of songs from my own library, here's what it threw up this week (along with many of the ones above)...

Zager & Evans - Nell'Anno 2033

(That appears to be an Italian remake of In The Year 2525. No idea how I came across it, or why they changed the year.)

Joy Zipper = 33x

Bob Frank & John Murry - Boss Wetherford, 1933

All of which brings us to this week's winner, which was a real toss-up with Luke Haines, but in the end Frank edged it with an equally biting open line that sums up the state of the world at the moment... and offers good advice for anyone who ever thinks of interviewing He Who Has Fallen From Grace again...

"Stop asking musicians what they think"
He said softly as he poured himself a second drink
And outside, the world slipped over the brink

We all thought we had nothing to lose
That we could trust in crossed fingers and horseshoes
That everything would work out, no matter what we choose
The first time it was a tragedy
The second time is a farce
Outside it's 1933 so I'm hitting the bar

Don't go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn!

Next week: 32. Hit me!

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