Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Namesakes #15: Iron Maiden

Last week, you had a choice between ten different Spinners. The group from Detroit were always going to come out on top, but it was heartening to see some of the other guys pick up honourable mentions, even the funky knitwear guys from Saturday night TV.

This week, the choice is much simpler. Which mediaeval torture device do you prefer?

  

IRON MAIDEN #1

“The Original Iron Maiden” were a bluesy hard rock band formed in the late 60s. Hailing from the rock 'n' roll capital of Essex, Basildon, prominent members included guitarist Trev Thoms and singer Steve Drewett. This Iron Maiden seemed to change their name a lot, having previously been known as Growth, Stevenson’s Blues Department, and – most memorably of all – Bum. Why they decided to change their name from Bum to Iron Maiden, I can not fathom. There’s just no helping some people.


IRON MAIDEN #2

Song-writing bassist Steve Harris formed the second Iron Maiden on Christmas Day, 1975. Just after the Queen’s Speech. He originally called the band Ash Mountain, but nobody liked that, so they went with Iron Maiden instead. Iconic vocalist and obvious nutter Bruce Dickinson wouldn’t join until 1981, by which point the band had burned through more members than the fire at the Crossroads Motel, including future Cutting Crew member Tony Moore and Barry “Thunderstick” Purkis. This Iron Maiden have sold more than 130 million records and smashed into the UK Top Ten on 16 different occasions, despite being rarely played on the radio. I find them amusing in (very) small doses, especially their 1991 Number One Smash Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter. I was co-presenting a weekly chart rundown on local radio at the time. We didn’t want to do a weekly chart run down, but according to our station manager, “that’s what people want on a Saturday morning”. Our ratings went down as soon as we started doing it, but I digress. The point is, he nearly had an embolism when this got to Number One. “But, boss, we can’t do a chart countdown without playing the Number One… that would be crazy!” Heh. Heh. Heh.


(If that's too much for you, can I recommend you listen to the Indelicates cover version which is included on their very amusing covers album from a couple of years back. Download it free here.)

You might consider both today's bands to be mediaeval torture devices… but if you had to pick one?


Monday, 5 December 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #56: Christine McVie


Stevie Nicks is the one everyone knows, because she's bonkers. The quieter one, the one who was there almost from the start, was Christine Perfect. Of course, she wasn't Perfect for long... she soon married the Mac (John McVie) and so began the bizarre love pentagram that was Fleetwood Mac.

Christine McVie wrote Don't Stop, Everywhere and Little Lies, three of the Mac's biggest hits. She didn't love the limelight as much as Stevie, but she was just as important. Could I find any songs that mentioned her name though...?

Yes, I could. Pretty good ones too...

Deep in the seas
We keep dreaming and dreaming
Like Don't Stop on track 4
When Christie McVie sings


And it doesn't get more perfect than this...

I’m not a Stevie, I’m a Christie McVie
I feel the weight of the world
I find comfort in being second best
I can relate and I feel guilty


Rest in peace, Christine.


Sunday, 4 December 2022

Snapshots #269: A Top Ten Growing Up Songs


I'm too excited by the new Indiana Jones trailer to write a proper introduction this morning.

Some of us will never grow up...


10. A Spider, sounds like he’s got a Death Wish.

A Spider from Mars, who sounds a bit like (Charles) Bronson.

Mick Ronson - Growing Up And I'm Fine

9. Dylan is an Idol in towns with a rose between them.

Billy Idol and Bob Dylan; a rose between two thorns...

Billy Bob Thornton - I Gotta Grow Up

8. Sick nun.

Twisted Sister - I'll Never Grow Up

7. Good ol' boys.

Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson - Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

6. Exciting to a Monster Muppet.

Cookie Monster!

The Cookies ~ Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys

5. The jets are down.

The Blue Aeroplanes - Growing Up, Growing Down

4. What a waste!

Garbage - When I Grow Up

3. Found floating off Brighton, Bondi and Miami.

Bouys floating in the sea off three famous beaches.

The Beach Boys - When I Grow Up To Be A Man

2. Cram one sugarcube inside.

Cram one sugarcube inside.

The Ramones - I Don't Wanna Grow Up

1.  2 Bs become 1.


The above picture might look like Harry Styles... but it's actually a computerised merging of the two photos below...


Because here's a song they both recorded. Written by Bruce, recorded not long after by Bowie... though his version wasn't released until the 90s.



If you promise not to grow up between now and next Saturday, Snapshots will return...

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Saturday Snapshots #269

To prove that I'm not completely oblivious when it comes to The "Beautiful" Game, here is a footballer with a camera. I believe he's called Ronald O. Not sure what the O stands for. I would ask for your answers, but there are far bigger questions to be asked...

Like "Who the heck are this lot?" and "What connects their songs?"


10. A Spider, sounds like he’s got a Death Wish.

9. Dylan is an Idol in towns with a rose between them.

8. Sick nun.

7. Good ol' boys.

6. Exciting to a Monster Muppet.

5. The jets are down.

4. What a waste!

3. Found floating off Brighton, Bondi and Miami.

2. Cram one sugarcube inside.

1.  2 Bs become 1.

(With apologies to C for stealing her thunder.)


Answers tomorrow. All 11 of them. (Just like in a football team.)


Friday, 2 December 2022

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #87: Football Chat

The supermarket delivery man arrived at my door last Friday and, as I was unpacking his boxes, asked me that hoary old question that's always guaranteed to strike fear into my heart.

“You watching the match tonight?”

This is the curse of being a man who does not like football. You have to pretend or lie or bluff your way through all manner of male social interaction revolving around the movement of a bag of wind with a 68 cm circumference across a patch of grass in its attempts to avoid the boots of overpaid dullards… or you can just be blunt and tell the truth and accept the metaphorical leprosy that comes with it. I’ve probably written about this before, but bear with me: this is the M. Knight Shyamalan, twist in the tale, version of that story.

Let’s return to my conversation with the Tesco driver.

“You watching the match tonight?”

“Well, my lad will be. I’m not sure I’ll get chance.”

You see what I did there? I think that’s what you football types might call a deflection. Expertly played, if I do say so myself. Not an outright, “I’d rather cut my arm off with a rusty scabbard”, but just enough of a hint of tacit comradeship (by proxy) to keep me in the game.

“Me neither,” the driver replied.

“You working all night?”

“Till 9. I think it’ll be over by then.”

Still halfway through my unpacking, I was now faced with the awkward position of having engaged in a conversation I knew nothing about and then had the ball passed back to me to take my own shot.

“How do you think they'll do?” Take that, Maradona! “They... they won the last one, didn't they?”

And then, just when it looked like I was ahead on points... then came the kicker.

“Yeah... 6... 6 something, I think. I'm not really a football fan myself.”

Ooh. So we’ve both just wasted a whole conversation pretending to be interested in something that neither of us actually is, purely because of the pressure of societal norms? Talk about a kick in the goolies.

“Me neither,” I mumbled. “Just my boy.”

“Maybe he'll grow out of it.”

“Yeah. We can but hope.”

And with that, he took his empty boxes off into the night. A definite no-score draw, and no mistake.


Those of you serving a life sentence with no chance of parole on this blog will have heard me wax lyrical about the undeniable brilliance of one Hugh Anthony Cregg III many, many times. For those of you who haven't, here's another peerless moment of pop perfection from the former Mr. Cregg and his News. This is from their third album, Sports, the one that shot them into the major leagues (in the States at least); it's one of only three songs on the album not released as a single. Clearly it should have been though, because it's much better than football.



Thursday, 1 December 2022

Wilko

I’m not going to pretend to be the world’s biggest expert on Wilko Johnson – a quick glance through the archives of this blog, and I doubt you’ll find his name mentioned more than once or twice. I only really know him from the obvious Dr. Feelgood tracks (although he'd left the band by the time of Milk & Alcohol). However, when I heard about his death last week and read a little bit more of his story, I was tempted to dip my ears into the swirling pool of the interweb and see what random nuggets might surface. I didn’t do this with a post in mind, but I found some pretty groovy tunes to share, so why not?

Wilko Johnson – Ice On The Motorway

Think about the girls in California
I tell you man, I’d rather stay at home

I spend a lot of my time trying to survive the motorway, so I was naturally drawn to this one.

There's also a version of this on Wilko's collaboration with Roger Daltrey, a double act that appears to have got together purely to use the radio shorthand Roger Wilko... and then not actually used it.

Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey - Ice On The Motorway

This next one was co-written by Wilko...

Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sueperman’s Big Sister

I presume the spelling was to avoid a lawsuit from Friedrich Nietzsche.

You know she’s Superman’s big sister
Her X-Ray eyes see through my silly ways
Superman’s big sister, superior skin and blister
It doesn’t seem surprising nowadays

Which leads us to this entertaining weirdo...

Mick Farren – I Want A Drink

One of three tracks Wilko played guitar on from Mick’s 1978 album Vampires Stole My Lunch Money. The lyrics speak for themselves.

And here's one for any Celias out there... 

Celia & The Mutations – You Better Believe Me

Written by Celia, along with Wilko, Jean-Jacques Burnel and Terry Williams, who would go on to play the drums in Dire Straits.

Let's close with a track from when Wilko was still in Dr. Feelgood, and one he wrote too...



Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #55: Julie Christie


Following on from Terence Stamp, it seemed logical to remain in the swinging sixties with his former partner in crime, Julie Christie. The ladies often do better than the gents in this feature, and Julie certainly racks up more mentions than Terry… although they do both feature in one of the best songs of the 60s, which I'd completely forgotten until Rigid Digit reminded me on Monday...

Terry meets Julie
Waterloo Station
Every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander
I stay at home at night


After that, anything else will be an anti-climax. Still, there's some great tunes about Julie on her own. So let's crack on with them, shall we?

We begin with a song about Julie’s breakthrough role in Billy Liar, named after that movie’s star…

Yo La Tengo – Tom Courtenay

Julie Christie, the rumour are true
As the pages turn, my eyes are glued
To the movie star and his sordid life
Mr. X and his long-suffering wife

Next, Al Stewart. He's no stranger to this feature…

Al Stewart – Gina In The King’s Road

Now Gina in the King’s Road
In a raincoat shimmering white
Hands thrust in her pockets
Like Julie Christie might

Half-Japanese are an American art-punk band who have been going almost half a century. This was their debut single, released in 1975, in which Julie keeps company with a curious collection of ladies, most notable Yoko Ono, Shelley Duvall and Angela Bowie… it's an absolute racket.

Half Japanese – Calling All Girls

Another US punk band, this time from the 90s, and quite a bit more tuneful...

J Church – Anybody

She talks like Julie Christie
Implied sex and foreign intrigue
It’s the accent that really gets me
She laughs to make me smile

France Gall was the first singer Serge Gainsbourg ever wrote for. Here she takes a swing at the swinging 60s, trying to settle the old argument of which was the swingingest: England or France? (This one wasn't written by Serge. Clearly, he would know the answer.)

France Gall – Made In France

At which point we arrive at the songs named after Julie Christie. Of which, I think I found more titular mentions than for any other Celebrity Jukeboxer so far. We begin with Philadelphia’s Bill Ricchini…

Bill Ricchini – Julie Christie

You look just like Julie Christie
And I feel just like Terry Stamp

I like that one. Would have included it in my Terence Stamp Jukebox on Monday, but I guess I felt Bill was being a bit greedy, trying to feature here twice in one week.

Lorraine Bowen could well be described as a Billy Bragg protégé – Bill encouraged her to go solo following her time in two 80s bands, See You In Vegas and The Dinner Ladies. This is one of her most-loved tunes…

Lorraine Bowen – Julie Christie

Julie Christie
She makes me go misty
She makes me go “ah!”
Oh what a star

Slightly more erudite, we have the great Stephen Duffy, back in the days when he was still calling himself after a French comic strip character…

Stephen Tin Tin Duffy – Julie Christie

You remind me of
Julie Christie in 'Billy Liar'
You, your milky youth
Wide eyed devotion and pure desire

From a similar era, on Tea Time Records, here's my discovery of the week: The Driscolls…

The Driscolls – Julie Christie

And another couple of lost gems from the 80s that I can find very little info on… don't believe anyone who tells you that you can find out everything you want to know on the interweb.

Oxygen Pete – Julie Christie

Kennedy - Julie Christie

Following the break-up of All About Eve in the early 90s, lead singer Julianne Regan led another band called, less memorably, Mice. She doesn’t sing on track 7 of their debut album though: it’s an instrumental.

Mice – Julie Christie

Another instrumental, though different instruments were used, comes from French composer André Popp’s 1974 album, in which every track was dedicated to a different screen siren.

André Popp – To Julie Christie (The Wonderful World OfJulie)

This next lady got a write-up in No Depression… guaranteed to get Charity Chic to give it a listen at least!

Kristin Mooney – Julie Christie

My choice for today was obvious from the start. It may be from a band you know as well as any of the last few (though god knows I've featured them enough here over the years), but if that's the case, I highly recommend you acquaint yourself with the work of Shirley Lee and Spearmint as soon as possible. Here's one good reason to do so...

She looks like Julie Christie
And she's blotted out my past
She had it all laid out for me
I never stood a chance
We took the essence of Felt and Vic Godard
And we blasted into space
And then we showered down on everyone
The whole soppy human race




Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Namesakes #14: The Spinners

Last week, we had an interesting experiment, testing four different Placebos. The results were mixed. So much for science! Sadly, the only Placebo not to get a vote was poor old Brian Molko. Still, I guess he's made the most money from the name... there's probably a metaphor for the pharmaceuticals industry somewhere in that.

This week, you’re guaranteed to be all in a spin trying to decide between a plethora of Spinners. Personally, I think it’ll be an easy victory for one of them… still, I’ve been proven wrong before.

THE SPINNERS #1

We begin our journey in Michigan, 1954, where The Domingoes got together and started making a sweet soulful sound that would keep them spinning for getting on for three quarters of a century. They didn’t become The Spinners until 1961, by which time the band at #2 had also bagsied the name, which is why the world outside the USA knows them better as The Detroit Spinners, or occasionally The Motown Spinners. The band is still performing, with Henry Fambrough the only surviving original member.

THE SPINNERS #2

Meanwhile, in that Liverpool, circa 1958, Tony Davis, Mick Groves, Cliff Hall and Hugh Jones began to spin the folky, sea shanty, occasionally skiffle-based sound in The Cavern Club, where another four young lads would soon take to the stage. Originally called The Liverpool Spinners, they dropped their home town when fame came knocking, ending up with their own long-running BBC TV show.

The Spinners - In My Liverpool Home

THE SPINNERS #3

Around the same time that our first and second group of Spinners were starting to rotate at higher frequencies, Texan rockabilly star Johnny Carroll briefly formed his own group of Spinners too. They only released three singles that I can unearth, but this is one of them…

The Spinners - Rag Mop

THE SPINNERS #4

1958 was obviously a very good time for naming your band The Spinners. Here’s a doo wop group from Pittsburgh with their rather tiny “one hit wonder”…

The Spinners – My Love And Your Love

THE SPINNERS #5

More doo wop, but another completely different band. I was drawn to this one because I always like a good detective story…

The Spinners – Richard Pry, Private Eye

THE SPINNERS #6

Sometimes I wonder if I should just quit while I’m ahead? Here’s another band of Spinners, surf-rockers from the early 60s, who only appears to have ever released on 7” single. Here’s the A-side…

The Spinners - Slave Chain

THE SPINNERS #7

From 1969, here is the Country Funk sound of The Spinners with their cover of an obvious choice of Blood, Sweat & Tears song…

The Spinners - Spinning Wheel

THE SPINNERS #8

Our eight group of Spinners hail from Ankara in the late 1980s, where Zuhal Uneri formed Turkey’s first all-female punk band. There wasn’t a big audience for punk in Turkey where the rock scene was dominated by metal, so the group spread their wings into other territories.

The Spinners - We're Punk

THE SPINNERS #9

Latvian Trip Hop from the 90s, though it doesn’t appear to have been released till 2016. Takes a while to get a record out in Latvia, it seems.

The Spinners – Carry Da Gun

THE SPINNERS #10

Post-hardcore (whatever that means) trio from Athens. Not the Athens that REM came from: the Athens that Zeus came from. This is from 2020, by which time you’d have figured bands might have realised that this name had been used before…

The Spinners – I’ll Be Waiting

I’m going to stop at 10 in honour of the name of this blog. There were other bands called The Spinners, but I couldn’t always find a link to their music. And that's before we even get to The Hamburg Spinners or The Song Spinners or The Southside Spinners or The Sly Spinners or The Money Spinners or The Dub Spinners or... look, stick the word "Spinners" into Discogs and you'll be there all week.

I imagine you gave up reading this some time ago, but just in case you’re still interested… answer me this in the comments: which Spinners spin you right round, baby, right round like a record, baby, right round, round round? Not that I'm trying to sway the vote in any way, but here's another groovy tune to play us out...


Monday, 28 November 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #54: Terence Stamp


“Kneel before Zod!”

For most of my generation, our first encounter with Terence Stamp was as the evil General Zod in Superman II. The Grauniad called him “the master of the brooding silence”, and he certainly sent shivers down my spine. Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor was a pussycat in comparison.

I was surprised General Zod didn’t get referenced all over the place, but only Eminem (who’s the same age as me) was prepared to kneel before him.

Eminem – Rap God

Terence Stamp had been around for a couple of decades by the time he played that memorable supervillain, making his screen debut in the movie Billy Budd, an Oscar-nominated performance that obviously made some impact on a young Steven Patrick Morrissey…

Morrissey – Billy Budd

Morrissey also used an image of Stamp in The Collector as the cover of the third Smiths single, What Difference Does It Make? 

Stamp originally refused permission for the picture to be used, but relented in the end… possibly after he’d seen Morrissey’s alternative.

Pete Townshend from The Who has a younger brother called Simon who has occasionally play with big bro’s band, as well as ploughing his own lonely solo furrow. Here he is with a track called Highness, which begins thus…

I am what I am
I just happen to be related to the king

…before named dropping Bowie, Eddie Vedder and Rod Stewart, as well as… yes, you guessed it, Terence Stamp.

Simon Townshend – Highness

48 Cameras are described on their bandcamp page as “Collectif international à géométrie variable”, which means they come from all over the place, but mostly Belgium. This is from their 2006 release After All, Isn’t Tango The Dance of the Drunk Man? It sounds like an orchestra tuning up to me, but what do I know? It's probably art.

48 Cameras – Terence Stamp For A Time

The biggest Terence Stamp fan I could find in the pop world was Adam Ant. He namedrops Terry twice, mostly recently here…

Adam Ant – Punkyoungirl

Punky young girl needs a Terence Stamp
Perfect at swinging sixties vamp

And on this memorable b-side in which Stuart Goddard claims to be friends with everybody from Mister Pastry to Jim Morrison to Arthur Askey, and…

I’m a friend of Stevie Wonder
I’m a friend of Eric Fromm
I’m a friend of Bryan Ferry
I’m a friend of Terence Stamp


I did find one more lyrical reference to Mr. Stamp, but I'm saving it for Wednesday. You'll see why then...


Sunday, 27 November 2022

Snapshots #268: A Top Ten Weird Places To Make Love Songs


Well, let's face it, if you're going to make love on a mountain top... who better than Sir Edmund Hillary to show you the way?



10. Major component on a SCUD missile.

Cud – Love In A Hollow Tree

Bit cramped. Watch out for splinters.

9. Here come the Dornoch lads with their arrows.


Dornoch is in Sutherland. Arrows come in a quiver.


Not much atmosphere.

8. Changing colour makes me feel as though I’ve been born again (born again).

Alessi sang Oh, Lori, You make me feel as though I've been born again.

Chameleons change colour.

Lori & The Chameleons – Love On The Ganges

Early Bill Drummond band.

Insert "don't hurt your Ganges" joke here.

7. Catching fish in these – it’s a crazy feeling!

You catch fish in nets. Rave on, it's a crazy feeling.

The Raveonettes - Love In A Trashcan

Or you could have had...

The Raveonettes - Love On Barbed Wire

Neither are particular advisable, if you ask me.

6. Rubber from below the river…

When I was at school, a rubber johnny was the funniest thing in the world.

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes – Love On The Wrong Side Of Town

But what's the right side?

5. Fleeting. 

The Moments - Love On A Two Way Street

Insert "oh, you take it both ways" joke here. I missed me calling.

4. Mi dandelion is all mucked up.


Mi dandelion is an anagram.


I'm a huge fan of that song, but I have to admit that whenever I hear it, I imagine Neil getting jiggy on a rocky coastline, with the waves pounding over him. It looks bloody freezing.

3. Wait here three days.

'Til Tuesday - Love In A Vacuum

Aimee Mann before she was Aimee Mann.

See #9.

2. J.K. swaps gender to become a Sir.


JK Rowling changed her name, and her gender (sort of), to Robert Galbraith. A Sir is a Knight.


1. A moth, sire?

Anagram!

Aerosmith - Love In An Elevator

"Oh, good morning, Mr. Tyler. Going... down?"


You're probably all exhausted after that. Take a week off to recover and join me back here next Saturday for more Snapshots...

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Saturday Snapshots #268


It's that bloody George Lazenby again! Honestly, you give him an inch and he'll take a mile.

Welcome to Snapshots. Identify the ten artists below, then see what connects their songs... go!


10. Major component on a SCUD missile.

9. Here come the Dornoch lads with their arrows.


8. Changing colour makes me feel as though I’ve been born again (born again).

7. Catching fish in these – it’s a crazy feeling!

6. Rubber from below the river…

5. Fleeting. 

4. Mi dandelion is all mucked up.

3. Wait here three days.

2. J.K. swaps gender to become a Sir.

1. A moth, sire?

Don't be too Lazenby on Sunday morning... come back here for the answers.


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