Saturday, 8 May 2021

Saturday Snapshots #188

Too tired for puns this week, all I can offer is a nice picture of Gemma Arterton, one of the better actresses of her generation... still waiting for that huge role that will make her a household name, I guess.

You know the rules by now. Identify the artists below from the clues. Then work out the connection between their songs. Then identify the songs.

Note - there is one red herring in here, which doesn't include the link in the song title... but it does feature prominently in the chorus / hook.

10. Part of a barber's pole.

9. Australians cut Monday short.

8. So fast, they lose a C.

7. Dapper zero.

6. Beg or borrow baby talk.

5. Horatio, of the Black Pig.

4. Moore & Ogilvy look like they've seen a ghost.

3. Who sings like Marilyn's man?

2. Nowadays people just ask for money instead. Or give you a list.

1. Sounds like three and an eagle.

Answers tomorrow...

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #53: Breaking Point?

The above tweet, which has gone viral over the past week, pretty much explains why things are quieter than normal around here at the moment.

I can't begin to tell you the farce of this year's predicted grades situation - particularly the last minute expectations that have been dropped on teachers everywhere, for things which would only ever have been truly possible if we'd been able to plan and prepare for them from the start of the year.

And as usual, nobody wants to take responsibility. Or give you a straight answer. Even the people setting the agenda obfuscate wildly and pass the buck when asked direct questions about interpreting the meaning of the rules that they have set down.

Every year, my job becomes more stressful. This latest episode though... it's enough to break me.

And don't even start me on the management response...

Here's another song from that Harald Thune album, The Bouncebackability of Humans, which is about the only thing keeping me going at the moment... the idea that I might one day bounce back.

Listening to this, you can see why Kris Kristofferson is a fan. It's a bleak tale of a drunken overreaction to a situation ("I hit the wrong man!") followed by bitter recriminations ("I'm a waste of space, I'm a god-damn dog..."). At least someone's having a worse day that me...


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Conversations With Ben #15: It's Grim Up North

Rol: This is from a local village...

Ben: One of my supervisors lives in Hebden Bridge. I'm going to forward it to him.

Ha. It is full of wankers.

Then again, so is Holmfirth.


You moved there.

You set that one up too easy.

I live in Scholes. Proper Local Shop territory, this.

You live inside Paul Scholes?

I have no idea who that is.

He played football in the 90s. My football knowledge spans a year in the 90s to the football comic "Shoot".

And to Tony Curry. Who apparently was a good Sheffield United player because every kid who had their birthday at United's ground had Tony Curry come out at the end and sign a football.

"Ooh, kids, there's a special guest soon". Always Tony fucking Curry.

And some of the kids always lost their mind.

It's like, were you not paying attention the last six birthdays we came to here?

No joke, at my parents I have a small stack of signed Tony Curry photos.

More evidence for why you need serious drugs to help you sleep.

He doesn't live in my house.

My dad's mates with this local boxer, Kell Brooks.

He took my dad to a match in the celeb suite a few years ago.

Guess who he saw there?

Tony sodding Curry

Imagine seeing this face, every time you close your eyes.

It's not fair.

I'm glad I'm not your psychiatrist.

I've been spelling his name wrong, that's how little I know. It's Currie!

Is this the boxer?

I don't believe so.

I don't know sports.

That's Kelly Brook.

Does she box?

Well, you might end up with two black eyes if you got too close to her.

This shows how many autographs he does... There's no market for it.

Got to respect that entrepreneurial spirit.

Unless you're a Marxist.

I think they keep him alive in a cupboard, feeding him pies and pints of mild. Let him out on matchday and kids parties.
It's another world.

He starts getting excited when he hears the opening chords to Annie's Song.

So do I.

But he's excited for the United version.

Means he gets to have a fresh pint of mild.

Rather than the keg they keep in the cupboard with him that's stale.

Some football gits have stolen Annie's Song!? That proper fills up my senses...

Like a greasy chip buttie...


I am never clicking that link.

I'm not saying it's any good, just showing that it exists.

I believe you. Just another reason to despair in the human race...

You're gonna love this song. Sums up your opinion...

Fair point. And I prefer that to the bastardisation of Annie's Song. 

I think you'll like the new Manchester Orchestra album from Telepath onwards. It settles back into the Americana again from that point on.

Albeit with syncopation.

If by syncopation, you mean drum machines...

I mean syncopation. I'd have said syncopated drum machines if I meant that.

Is it dance music?

No. Syncopation is just varied rhythms coming together.

At the same time.

Sounds bollocks to me.

Good Time Roll by the Cars is a good example of syncopation.

The rhythm is *off* the main beat.

The reason the term is synonymous with dance, and as such, electronic music outside of music theory is that it has to rely on syncopation to create that movement.

It forces a rhythm over melody. Cuban music in the 50s and 60s that's completely danceable is due to it having syncopated rhythm.

Don't make snarky comments about things then I won't have to give you a music theory lesson.

I used to play in a brass band, so I know what syncopation means in principle. I just wasn't sure how you were applying the term.

Please tell me it was a colliery band.

Were you in Brassed Off?

What was Pete Postlethwaite like?

How I spent my teenage years, before I got into radio. It was all very Brassed Off.

Were you trombone? Or a saxophone?

Or did you put your tall body to comedy effect with a cornet?

I have so many questions.

I played tenor horn. Mid size. There are no saxophones in a brass band.

You could have been a maverick.

Did you have a nickname?

Why would I have a nickname?

It endears the audience to the narrative.

Did you enter competitions?

Did you win?

We entered lots of competitions, but we were only the junior section of the main band. At first, anyway. By the end, I was in the main band.

Best thing was at Christmas, we went round all the pubs in the village and played carols to drunks.

Long before I drank myself.

I'm going to turn this into a film where you sit in front of a fire and tell people about your youth.

Channel Five, Bravo and Men and Motors are interested.

Well, I say Five. Five Star.

That'll be all I have left soon.

Men and Motors?

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Snapshots #187 - A Top Ten Good Morning Songs

Gooooood morning, Vietnam!

Here are ten songs that greet you with a cheery Good Morning... none of them by The Beatles.

10. Tory ferret.

Blue Mink - Good Morning Freedom

9. The casserole in charge.

Stewboss - The Good Morning Song

8. Please sir, may I have some more?

Oliver - Good Morning Starshine

7. Grace, Burt, Tom. 

Grace Kelly, Burt Reynolds, Tom O'Connor... not quite.

Gene Kelly, Debra Reynolds & Donald O'Connor - Good Morning

6. Twinkly nag.

Sparklehorse - Good Morning, Spider

Only because I missed it out a couple of weeks back.

To be fair, it's not much of a track on its own, just the opener to an album of the same name. But it stopped me having to include Good Morning, Good Morning by The Beatles, which I find rather  annoying.

5. Carbon Copy of X.


Carbon Copy = CC

10CC - Good Morning, Judge

4. A pair of articles.

The + The

The The - Good Morning, Beautiful

3. SOS - Adrian!


Diana Ross - Good Morning Heartache

2. Painful horse among the lions.

A charley horse is rather painful. Lions gather in a pride.

Charley Pride - Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'

1. First to last, old college, goes with shaft, long period of time... plus a dynamite fighter.

First to last = A-Z. An old college would be a Tec'. Cam goes with shaft. A long period of time is an era.

Put them together... Az+Tec+Cam+Era

The Dynamite Fighter was in Big Audio Dynamite & The Clash.

Don't be a patsy and stay away from the grassy knoll until the answers are revealed tomorrow morning...

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Saturday Snapshots #187

Ready for the quiz that blows your mind every Saturday morning?

Jackie O... yes, you are.

Identify ten singers or bands from the clues below. Then work out the connection. Then name those tunes...

What else do I have to say?

10. Tory ferret.

9. The casserole in charge.

8. Please sir, may I have some more?

7. Grace, Burt, Tom. 

6. Twinkly nag.

5. Carbon Copy of X.

4. A pair of articles.

3. SOS - Adrian!

2. Painful horse among the lions.

1. First to last, old college, goes with shaft, long period of time... plus a dynamite fighter.

Don't be a patsy and stay away from the grassy knoll until the answers are revealed tomorrow morning...

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Grumpy Old Men Songs #14: Analog Girl

Here's a song for all those of us who long for simpler times... featured on a blog on the internet superhighway. Still, as Amy Rigby pointed out recently (via John), nobody writes blogs anymore. Except for us old dinosaurs. But look how long the dinosaurs lived!

Here's another song from one of my favourite Grumpy Old Men, the late Guy Clark.

Now she gets online out in the backyard
Hangin' up her ol' blue jeans
She's got all of the memory she can live with
She really hates drum machines

Out in the garden she's got a website
It sparkles in the mornin' dew
Got a mouse in her pocket,
she's got spam in a can
What's an analog girl to do?

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

And breathe... #1: Nothing But Love

Given the current length of Tuesday's posts, I decided to try giving you all a breather on a Wednesday. Hence this new feature in which I try to write as little as possible to introduce a tune. (I've already gone way over my target word count, but this is the pre-amble. It doesn't count.)

My old friend Sally got in touch the other week and recommended Scott Fagan. She thought I may already be familiar with him, but I wasn't. This record is a bit of a lost classic apparently, "a mystical, mythical and deeply soulful masterpiece" from a songwriter who was discovered and mentored by the great songwriting duo of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Tipped to be bigger than Elvis, but faded away into obscurity almost immediately. Years later he was revealed to be the surprise biological father of Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields.

There's a lot more to that story, but I was supposed to be keeping it brief...

(Sigh. There goes another failed feature.)

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Conversations With Ben #14: Mr. Blobby & The Super Gonorrhea

Rol: One of my greatest musical heroes just died.

Ben: The man who wrote the Mr Blobby song?

Robert Blobbert?


I always imagined it was BBC interns in the Blobby suit that Edmonds played some weird fetish game with by making them wear the suit...

Who was the death?

Jim Steinman.

The Footloose guy? Wasn't that the other day?

I only saw it today. He didn't write Footloose. That was Kenny Loggins. He did write Holding Out For A Hero, but that's a lesser work. He also wrote all the good Meat Loaf songs, plus Total Eclipse of the Heart and some stuff that Celine Dion murdered, but was done far better by others.

Chuck Berry + Phil Spector + Springsteen + Wagner + a shameless sense of melodrama and hyperbole = Jim Steinman.

Wagner as in...?

Or Wagner as in...?


Seems like it could be a little of both, actually.

I think that's a fair point.

Did I ever tell you about how one of my old best mate's girlfriend's parents were Rod Stewart and Tina Turner tribute acts? Big ones.

They had a house in Penistone. One of the massive ones on the river.

We used to stay over a lot. They were really nice and loved hosting us all the time. They had a recording studio in their garden where they, and other tribute acts would record. 

One of the most surreal moments in my life is waking up, hungover, walking into their kitchen and seeing Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan and Meatloaf smoking weed.

Sounds like that Pulp video...

I don't think I've ever seen the video. I thought it was the video to Disney Time. No idea why.

And now I remember that Disney Time is on Cocker's solo album.

I'd forgotten that track completely.

Some forgettable tunes on that album. Especially when it starts with the swagger of Don't Let Him Waste Your Time. It definitely trails off.

Maybe. I love that final Pulp album though.

It's the one I've listened to the least. Listening priority in order: This Is Hardcore, His N Hers, Different Class, PULP. Does anybody even count the first two?

By Pulp do you mean Intro?

There were 4 albums before Intro / HnH. All contain interesting material, but not up to later standards.

Fairground is a terrible song and that's all I can think about with their old stuff.

Separations is the best of the early albums. Countdown, My Legendary Girlfriend in particular.

For me, We Love Life is the perfect coda to their career. I love TIH (favourite album of 90s) but I prefer that they went out on a happy note.

Scott Walker too. Pop sensibilities SW, not mad old hermit making unlistenable twaddle SW. Quite an achievement.

First text from the boss this morning came through at 6.20.

Tell her to leave you alone. That is not just not on, it's absolutely pathetic.

I have.

Send her an envelope full of flour. Make her think it's ricin or anthrax.

She'd only ring me up and ask her what I thought she should do with it.

Well, this week's Taskmaster should hopefully cheer you up. A very funny one.

One word.


I await the vague upward curl at the edge of my mouth.

In reply, Ben sends the following video...

I think that's the least hip song you've ever sent me. I respect that.

No. That would be this one...

I found this record in a shop years ago. And I'm still not positive that Tennille is not actually attracted to muskrats.

Nah. Captain & Tennille are acceptable kitsch.

That song should never be acceptable. And The Cap is a prick.

*Was* a prick

I didn't realise you knew him.

We used to go to the same milk bar.

I've never been able to hear Secret Smile in the same way since someone told me it was a metaphor for a vagina.

That's uncomfortable.

Maybe you're mixing it up with the film, Teeth?

Was that the Barry Gibb biopic?

That's what I thought I was settling down for...

That film would have been even scarier if her nether regions had Barry Gibb's face. And maybe a big medallion and huge white collars.

That needs to be optioned as soon as possible.

My Saturday night treat this week is my Covid jab.

Well, you're lucky. I'm still here without one.

Just got down to the under 50s. But I thought you might have been fast tracked because of your history.

Nah. That'd involve competence at a national level.

Maybe they have you down as an insurgent. You'll be last on the list, after Putin's undercover agents.

On a more positive side of all that, last year this week I was sat gasping for breath walking up stairs. Today I ran 10k for the first time in my life.

Marathon next?

I think I'm going to try for a half marathon next year. Maybe Manchester, which is flat compared to Sheffield.

Rol replies with the following image... which Ben chooses to ignore.

I wish I could grow a 'tache like that man in the background.

I have a weird obsession with middle age men and moustaches.

My hair is too blonde otherwise I would definitely just have a 'tache.

Has to be like an 80s businessman 'tache, though.

When I was a child, I used to watch the Thin Blue Line. I was too young to understand it but it had Mr Bean and I liked the moustache man.

That's a real generation gap thing. For my generation, Mr Bean was a betrayal of Blackadder, and we never forgave Atkinson.

My early years were spent watching the Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes etc, so Mr Bean was right up my alley. As was Baldy Man.

I had to Google Baldy Man. Never knew he had a TV show. I only remember the Hamlet ad.

I don't remember much of it, just that I used to find it hilarious.

I miss the Hamlet ads. When I was a little, my dad smoked cigars. I loved the smell. Eventually he graduated onto pipes. Then one day, in my late teens, the doctor told him: they're killing you. So he quit. Cold Turkey.

That's admirable.

I think I'm too young to remember smoking ads.

I feel like I've seen them but not sure how much of that is due to seeing them on shows later.

I remember the billboard ads for Lambert and Butler.

TV was pretty much all smoking ads and booze ads when I was a kid. And scary ads warning us all not to die or get murdered.

And only one channel could show ads.


Have you seen The Offspring's Covid inspired song? It defies belief.

I last listened to Americana.

I know the singer got his PhD in infectious disease over the past few years though.

That probably explains the covid germs flying around in the video.

Why would anyone want a PhD in infectious diseases?

Dunno. A mate of mine has.

He studies super gonnarhea.

Genuinely what it's called.

But spelt correctly.

Still. Could be worse.

Could have my job.

Or he could have super gonnarhea.

It's a toss up.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #52: The First Jab

Well, I guess that goes down as the best Saturday night out I've had in a long time. Sad commentary on my life though that may be. A trip to the John Smiths' Stadium (formerly the Alfred McAlpine Stadium, football fans), which I don't think I've been inside since I saw REM there back in the 90s. 

Stood in line for about ten minutes, wondering why I was having my jab with all these old people, then sat down in a drafty corridor (the space heaters were glowing red even though it had been, and still was, a pleasantly warm day outside). A lady from St. John's Ambulance took down my details, before another lady from the NHS reeled off a speech she must surely have been sick of reciting, the gist of which appeared to be there are lots of unpleasant side effects, but I probably won't get any of them. I had Astra-Zeneca, so she made a special point of saying that it doesn't cause blood clots, but sometimes people who would have had blood clots anyway develop blood clots after it, and if I was one of them, I should call 999 immediately.

When I mentioned my history of fainting during injections (actually, it only happened one time; it was a very hot day and they were drawing a blood sample, but I always mention it), the nurse told me to talk to the St. John's Ambulance lady while I was having it done.

"What's that on your T-shirt?" she asked.

Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey. "It's Bruce Springsteen," I said.

And then it was over, and I drove home in the fading sunshine, ready for dose two in July. 

This seemed appropriate...

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Snapshots #186: A Top Ten Planet Songs

Who better to introduce us to a Top Ten Planet Songs than the man who knows more about planets than anyone else?

But did he know all the answers...?

10. Run, Dada, Run!

A pretty simple anagram.

Duran Duran - Planet Earth

9. First word to Gort.

If you've seen The Day The Earth Stood Still (no, not the Keanu version), this one would have been pretty easy. Klaatu Barada Nikto, Gort!

Klaatu - Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft

8. Korean war doctors lose their mobility.

The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, without its mobility, would just be A*S*H*.

Ash - Jack Names The Planets

7. Jimmy Cagney.

Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet

6. Always chooses the fifth letters.

Picks Es.

The Pixies - Planet Of Sound

5. Losing at tennis.

15 - Love. 30 - Love. Etc.

Love - The Daily Planet

4. When reorganized, she betrays UK.

Reorganise those letters and you get...

Kate Rusby - Planets

3. Cuban angel feet.


Teenage Fanclub - Planets

2. Bombs on stage.

The B-52s - Planet Claire

1. Half the binary code.

Only the 1s.

How was this never a hit?

More next week.

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