Sunday, 31 October 2021

Snapshots #213: A Top Ten Monster Songs


Who better to help us fight off the Monsters on Halloween than the ultimate Final Girl, Jamie Lee Curtis.

Here are the monstrous answers...



10. Works by itself.



9. A president's brother meets a prime minister on the fence.


(Yes, he does look like Alan Titchmarsh.)

Bobby Kennedy meets Boris de Pfeffel on the picket fence.

Bobby Boris Pickett & The Crypt Kicker 5 - Monster Mash

8. Elton and Tommy join Arthur in a Mysterious World.


Elton John & Tommy Cooper join Arthur C. Clarke.


7. Stalks.



6. Together they make a square.




5. Mixed up Cluedo contestants.


Professor Plum meets Reverend Green.


4. There's a definite buzz about these guys.



3. Hermann Hesse.


Hermann Hesse wrote the novel Steppenwolf.


2. I would like another bottle of that Miyake aftershave, please.


More of this stuff, please...



Great song, preposterous video, especially the Dairy Milk harmonica.

1. Ray-finned fish.


Eels - My Beloved Monster



Don't be afraid to go back in the water next Saturday.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Saturday Snapshots #213


Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'all's neighborhood...

Unless you can solve this week's Snapshots!

Identify the ten artists below, then work out the fiendish connection between their tunes.

(Did you know that Vincent Price recorded an extra verse of the Thriller rap that wasn't used in the final song? Worth listening to just to hear Vince say, "Can you dig it?")


10. Works by itself.


9. A president's brother meets a prime minister on the fence.


8. Elton and Tommy join Arthur in a Mysterious World.

7. Stalks.


6. Together they make a square.


5. Mixed up Cluedo contestants.


4. There's a definite buzz about these guys.


3. Hermann Hesse.


2. I would like another bottle of that Miyake aftershave, please.


1. Ray-finned fish.


And whomsoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the answers... tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Negative Songs For Positive Times #62: Release Day


For the last ten years, I've walked along this road every morning on my way into work. This morning was the final time.

"Why aren't you more happy?" said Louise as I was heading out today. "You've been waiting for this so long... I'd have thought you'd be jumping up and down!"

The last couple of weeks though, after I returned from my Covid Holiday, have felt really surreal. Most of my old tasks and responsibilities had been taken over by my replacement, and I've felt a bit like a ghost, walking around a building I used to live in, watching everyone else going quietly mad, but from a great distance because none of it affected me anymore. I feel bad for the people who are still here, watching them suffer every new insult that's thrown at them, knowing it'll only get worse in the coming months. But I don't feel the euphoria I expected. Perhaps because this place has trampled over my emotions so much in the past few years that they're flat and lifeless.

"What doesn't kill you just makes you stronger." I'm sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on that.

When I left my radio job ten years ago, through redundancy, I shed quite a few tears. For all the friends I'd made there, for all the good times. Yes, there were bad times too, and yes, that redundancy came at the right time, having seen what's happened to the radio industry since. But I still miss that place for what it was while I was there, and I consider my fortunate to have worked there.

It's not all bad memories here either. I can't condemn the place like that. There have been good times, there have certainly been good people (although a lot of them moved on); in years to come I might look back in a more positive light. But I feel no tears as I prepare to depart today. 

The relief will come, I'm sure. But if you ask me right now how I feel about leaving at last, the answer is: nothing. I feel nothing. 




Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #61: Penultimate


And on the penultimate day, the satchel did break. 

We've been through a lot together, that old bag and me. I've had it since I started teaching, and before I even walked into The Bad Place. Tucked away in one of the pockets I found two train tickets from December 2011, when I'd written my car of in an accident and had to make the journey to work on the most antiquated train line in the country. (Never travel from Huddersfield to Barnsley by rail.)

10 years isn't bad for a faux-leather hold-all bought down the market. All the crap I've carried home in it over the years (including the laptop I had to teach on during lockdown), it's more than served its purpose. I'm sorry to say goodbye, but its death seems symbolic of my new beginning. 



My old mate Steve messaged me a couple of weeks back to ask if I'd heard any Sam Fender. I was initially dismissive as I'd seen the headline about his latest album going to Number One and outselling the rest of the Top Ten in its first week... and all I could think of was Ed Sheeran. There is a cult of white male singer songwriters that dominate their own corner of popular music in recent years through sheer blandness. Sheeran, Chris Martin, James Blake, Tom Walker... cosy, safe colossi with nothing to say for themselves lyrically beyond surface good times and heartache.

"Guess who they're comparing him to?" said Steve. 

"Fender’s primary influence," says Alex Pertridish in The Grauniad, "is still Bruce Springsteen, mostly in soaring-anthems-decorated-with-saxophone mode, although the reflective piano ballad Boss of Racing in the Street or Stolen Car lurks behind closer The Dying Light."

But that's another thing that winds me up. Anyone that writes half decent lyrics these days gets compared to The Boss. Even Lady Gaga. It's a lazy journalistic comparison right up there with the critics who lumped Bruce in with the "new Dylan" crowd back in the early 70s.

All that said, this new Sam Fender record bears further listening. The title track is an instant classic, mixing brutal, autobiographical imagery with a soaring "woa-oa-oah!" chorus. 

See I spent my teens enraged
Spiralling in silence
And I armed myself with a grin
'Cause I was always the fuckin' joker
Buried in their humour
Amongst the white noise and boys' boys
Locker-room talkin' lads' lads
Drenched in cheap drink and snide fags
A mirrored picture of my old man
Oh God, the kid's a dab hand
Canny chanter, but he looks sad

North Shields is a long way from New Jersey, and there's as much Weller or Terry Hall or even Geldof in those lines as there is Bruce. But still, it's encouraging to see songwriting such as this at the top of the charts. Gives me hope for the next generation...



Monday, 25 October 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #60: Freedom


A couple of weeks back, during my doctor-supported Covid recovery, I took an early morning walk around Castle Hill. I say early morning, but it wasn't exactly the crack of dawn. It was just after dropping Sam off at Breakfast Club (with Ally Sheedy & Molly Ringwald), the time when I would normally be driving to work.

The sense of freedom was incredible. Partly because I wasn't going to The Bad Place, but also because I wasn't tied to any timetable at all. I didn't have anywhere that I had to be or anything I had to do. Ironically, I didn't have the energy for a long walk, but what I managed felt incredible.

My final week in The Bad Place begins today. I'm only in three days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday... and then, at last, I'm free. And while that freedom involves swapping one institution for another, it already feels like the different between Alcatraz and a Scandinavian Open Prison.


Earlier this year, Eric Church released a triple album. And we can probably all count the number of truly great triple albums on the fingers of one thumb (69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields)...

Church's triple album, Heart & Soul, wasn't released as such though. There were two CDs - one called Heart and one called Soul, reminiscent of the release of Guns n' Roses' Use Your Illusion I & II (or Bruce's ill-remembered early 90s combo, Human Touch & Lucky Town). Because you can charge more for two discs released on the same day than you can for a double CD case. The third part of the album (called, believe it or not, &) was only available to subscribers to Church's "fan club", The Church Choir. I checked, and that was beyond my means... though I don't object to artists releasing "subscriber only content" if it's a way of rewarding fans who are actually willing to still pay for their music rather than stream it for free.

The whole package felt like Church attempting to go even more mainstream than before. He's walked a fine line in the past between keeping country radio happy and upholding the "outlaw" tradition of more honest, less polished country stars like Waylon and Kris. Mixing country, pop, rock and southern soul, this could well have been the point where I lost interest in Church... but damn, there are some great tracks on this collection. Thirty years ago, a lot of these songs would have been chart hits. They're timeless (despite contemporary production) pop songs. Yet they still have edge where it's appropriate (as demonstrated on the lead single, Stick That In Your Country Song, which I featured here some months ago). 

I doubt any of the above has convinced you to check out these records. You're all too cool. So it won't make any difference when I tell you that on a couple of tracks (particularly the one below), Church even channels the ghost of Jim Steinman. 



Sunday, 24 October 2021

Snapshots #212: A Top Ten Songs About Famous Painters


All yesterday's songs were about famous artists. Let me paint you a picture of the answers...

Special mention must go to the amazing Jonathan Richman who has written more songs about famous artists than anyone else. But he's featured here recently, and I'm running out of clues that link back to him...

Jonathan Richman - Pablo Picasso

Jonathan Richman - No One Was Like Vermeer

Jonathan Richman - Salvador Dali

Jonathan Richman - Vincent Van Gogh


10. Wilson & McDonald.

Brian Wilson & Michael McDonald!

A song about L.S. Lowry...

Brian & Michael - Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs

9. Davina, Holly, Dermot.

They're all Television Personalities.

And these guys love artists almost as much as Jonathan Richman...

Television Personalities - Salvador Dali's Garden Party

Television Personalities - David Hockney's Diaries

Television Personalities - Lichtenstein Painting

8. What if Emma & Richard were identical?

Emma Thompson & Richard Thompson are not twins.

The Thompson Twins - Salvador Dali's Car

7. A wee riddle, and jailhouse singer.

A Jimmy Riddle, and Webb Pierce (who sang In The Jailhouse Now).

Jimmy Webb - Paul Gauguin In The South Seas

6. George C. Scott & Joanne Woodward.

George C. Scott & Joanne Woodward appeared together in the film They Might Be Giants.

They Might Be Giants - Meet James Ensor 

5. Is Len nine?

Anagram!

Neil Innes - I Like C├ęzanne

4. Tearjerkers.

The Weepies - Painting By Chagall

3. Piano slum.

Anagram!

Paul Simon - Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War

2. Supporters of angst, kicks and wasteland.

Fans of teenage angst, teenage kicks and the teenage wasteland...

Teenage Fanclub - Escher

1. Mafia boss is spotless host.

The Don is a clean M.C.


No need to be a moaner, Lisa... Snapshots will be back next Saturday. Don't cut your ear off before then.


Saturday, 23 October 2021

Saturday Snapshots #212


Paul Rudd's tiny camera welcomes us to another edition of Saturday Snapshots. Hopefully you won't have to shrink down to the size of an ant to examine these clues in microscopic detail... just work out the artists below and what might connect their songs.


10. Wilson & McDonald.

9. Davina, Holly, Dermot.

8. What if Emma & Richard were identical?

7. A wee riddle, and jailhouse singer.

6. George C. Scott & Joanne Woodward.

5. Is Len nine?

4. Tearjerkers.

3. Piano slum.

2. Supporters of angst, kicks and wasteland.

1. Mafia boss is spotless host.


Antswers tomorrow!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...