Monday 28 February 2022


One of the best compilation CDs I ever bought was the one pictured above: a fantastic collection of punk and new wave hits, not a bad track among them.

One of the most recent CDs I bought was a lucky charity shop find, titled Sounds of the Suburbs, it's a compilation of the Members' finest moments, proving they were more than just one hit wonders.

Over the weekend, I was sad to read of the death of lead Member, Nicky Tesco. It seemed an appropriate time to listen to this one more time...

RIP, Nicky.

Sunday 27 February 2022

Snapshots #229: A Top Ten Russian Songs

Regina Spektor was the most famous Russian celeb I could find holding a camera... or let's pretend it's a camera, for continuity's sake, eh? 

10. If Marilyn didn't shine...

Then she would be a matt (finish) Monroe.

Matt Monro - From Russia With Love 

9. Black Sea Peninsula.

The Crimea - White Russian Galaxy

8. Kirk.

My Scottish friends, that clue was just for you.

The Church - Russian Autumn Heart

7. These guys are pretty touchy.

Touchy-feely, that is.

The Feelies - Moscow Nights

6. Niiice fellows, led by a G-Man and a Bobby.

Kenny G + Bobby Ball =

Kenny Ball & his Jazzmen - Midnight In Moscow

5. He will be jollily smoking that cigar until he drives away.

I had to edit the registration plate yesterday... this isn't Billy's car, just a fan's who caught him and asked for a photo.

"Be jollily" was an anagram.

Billy Joel - Leningrad

Similar sentiment to the Sting song: but much less bollocks.

Of course, it's not called Leningrad anymore. These days, it's...

Supergrass - St. Petersburg

4. Lenient nuns.

The Sisters of Mercy - Dominion / Mother Russia

3. Gammon outrage as secret identity of new 007 is revealed!

"James Bond, a woman!" The red-faced OUTRAGE!!!

Jane Bond & The Undercovermen - Radio Moscow

2. Learn CPR in Centre Parcs. 

Learn CPR in Centre Parcs. 

Prince - Ronnie, Talk To Russia

Joe, talk to Russia.

1. In Rehab, eat less chocolate.

In Rehab, eat less chocolate.

Remember the good old days of the USSR?

More next week, as long as the world hasn't ended. Do svidaniya!

Saturday 26 February 2022

Saturday Snapshots #229

I'm here, once again, to disturb the peace on a Saturday morning with more Snapshots. Please don't call The Police... I'm sure you can identify the suspects below without their help. But can you identify the sinister plot that ties their songs together? 

10. If Marilyn didn't shine...

9. Black Sea Peninsula.

8. Kirk.

7. These guys are pretty touchy.

6. Niiice fellows, led by a G-Man and a Bobby.

5. He will be jollily smoking that cigar until he drives away.

4. Lenient nuns.

3. Gammon outrage as secret identity of new 007 is revealed!

2. Learn CPR in Centre Parcs. 

1. In Rehab, eat less chocolate.

Cop a load of the answers tomorrow morning...

Friday 25 February 2022

The United Kingdom of Song #40: Caledonia

Not a single location today, but the whole of Scotland... or Caledonia, as the Roman Empire referred to it, and those with a romantic soul might still know it today. Written by Dougie MacLean, the version I know best is the one by Frankie Miller, originally recorded for a Tennent's advert. 

As an Englishman, I have very little national pride, and if a similar song were written about my own home country, I doubt I'd feel the same... but Caledonia makes me feel patriotic for a country that isn't even mine. Does that make sense? I'm not sure it does to me...

Thursday 24 February 2022

Record Collection Recollections #1

Because ongoing, irregular and intermittent series are the ballast that keeps this blog afloat, here's another one, in which I reflect on almost forty years of record collecting.

Over the last year or so, my interest in owning physical copies of the music I love has returned. There was a time, maybe about 5 years ago, when I considered going all digital apart from the essentials, but lately I've realised I'm far more likely to devote time to a record that I actually paid money to own a physical copy of. My hard drive is full of digital albums I've never listened to (except when serendipity throws up appropriate tracks for a Top Ten), but when I look at the CDs on my shelves, there's barely a one I haven't played until I was sick of it. And the majority of them, I'm more than happy to revisit when time allows. Even though I rarely actually need to take the discs out of their cases to play them any more, and until I get glasses (remember: no eye test until I'm 50), I can't read the majority of the inlay cards without a magnifying glass anymore.

And so, here's a series in which I will write about collecting records. Or CDs, since I long since had to sacrifice my vinyl dreams. (More on that anon.) I want to celebrate the joy of collecting music, now that I've rediscovered it. I have quite a lot to say, but I'll try to break it down into manageable chunks. And play some appropriate tunes along the way. Because, to quote Chicago, record collecting... it's a hard habit to break.

Here's a tune I was listening to on my headphones yesterday while walking in the rain.

Fact: if you Google the lyrics to this song, it'll tell you they sing that your tabloids should be stronger. Not tablets, which would make a lot more sense (and is the actual lyric). Makes you wonder if online lyrics are written by an Alexa-like AI that doesn't really understand language, just responds and transcribes sounds.

Wednesday 23 February 2022


I won't claim to big the biggest expert on Mark Lanegan's extensive body of work. I've got a Screaming Trees collection I haven't devoted the right amount of attention to, but I was taken with his solo work whenever I heard it and was especially fond of his collaborations with Isobel Campbell, updating the Lee & Nancy aesthetic for a 21st Century audience.

Still, at only 57, he's another one gone far too soon...

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Conversations With Ben #26: Cowboys, Wrecking Balls & Cheugy Scones

Ben: Where was this advice last Thursday?

Rol: Was it L'il Nas X?

Nah, he comes round for a chocolate digestive and a cup of lemon and ginger tea on most Wednesdays. Thursday's he's travelling back to Hollywood.

Must have been Billy Ray then.

He did keep going on about his heart. I just called an ambulance, though.

Don't get on the wrong side of him. His family owns a wrecking ball.

Please tell me you get other people to come and teach similes.

How was that a simile? It didn't have like or as.

"I came in *like* a wrecking ball."

They don't own construction equipment.

She is clearly swinging on a huge fucking wrecking ball in the video I've seen. I watched it repeatedly, just to make sure.

I'd guess that it'd be cheaper for the budget if they rented one.

I don't think budget is something the Cyruses worry about.

You should have said, "Don't get on the wrong side of him. His family clearly has the free capital to rent a wrecking ball as and when needed."

I maintain that they have the free capital to *buy* a wrecking ball. Tell me you wouldn't buy a wrecking ball if you could afford one. I know I would.

I think my main concern is storage. I don't want to have to buy a big enough hangar to store it.

It'd probably make sense to turn it into a business.

But then I'd have to employ someone to deal with it.

It's too much hassle.

Rent it. Do the job. Return it.

You just need one of those really big garden boxes. Watch out this weekend, there'll probably be a few flying around.

Pretty sure my neighbour's fence is about to fall over. It's swinging around.


I thought we'd moved on from discussing the wrecking ball?

What does 'scone' rhyme with in your world view?


Anything else is clearly wrong.

And they shouldn't be allowed around children.

Wrong answer.

You're just posh and over-privileged. Kind of like the Prince Andrew of Scones.

I'll call the police on you.

Oh yeah? Your mates on the force? Say no more.

Are your employers aware of your stance on this?

My employers are of the opinion that 'gone' is the correct answer. I was treated to a scone with jam and cream today. Although it did have those little bits of crystallised sugar on top, which are also wrong.

Does Louise know?

Louise is on the dark side in this matter. But then she also puts toilet rolls on backwards, so there's no hope.

Let's not start with the toilet roll again.

How can a new album be iconic?

I don't like Charli XCX, nor think she's any good, so that's the first issue I have.

I also think iconic has had a bit of a change of meaning for Gen Z.

I think it means "really cool and unique" or something.



Language is elastic.

Just because I don't understand it doesn't make it bad.

You're just defending your contemporaries. From a nearly-50 Gen X perspective, everything you weirdos do is wrong.

Alcoholism, teen pregnancy and STI rates plummeted after your generation. Issues like that continue to decrease with Gen Z teaching adulthood. I think things are going OK.

Is most of the above due to the fact that they're all addicted to Internet porn?

Everyone rushes to say how shit kids are, but really, they're improving on the last generation mostly each time.

Spin doctor.

OK, then... define "cheugy".

Pronounced 'choogy'.

I guess phony or poser is the word you might be more familiar with.

Like a try hard.

 Isn't there a generational element to it though?

Yeah. I meant the opposite of it. Like it's natural.

Now I'm more confused than I was before I asked you.

So Jarvis Cocker would be cheugy. But every fanboy who tried to look like him would not be. They'd be try hards.

Morrissey isn't cheugy because with him it's calculated.

Tom Waits: cheugy.

Every impersonator: not cheugy.

So cheugy is a compliment!?!

Nope. I've just checked the internet. It's the opposite of what I said.

Tom Waits: not cheugy.

Morrissey: cheugy.

Ha! You aren't down with da kidz!

Old man!

I was right the first time.

I'm a mid millennial.

Not Gen Z.

You're just cheugy.

Monday 21 February 2022

My Top Ten Opening Lines Volume 3

I manage one of these Top Tens about every three years (although this one is slightly late). I collect them as I go along and when I've got enough for a Top Ten, I unleash them on the world.

Volume 1 (2015)

Volume 2 (2018)

In previous volumes, folks have entertained themselves by seeing how many they can get from the lines alone before clicking on the links to see if they're right. That might be a little harder this time...

Pretty big clue above. I wonder if he looks back on the irony of writing that line when he was so young...

Clearly that relationship is doomed.

He certainly helped me make my way through it.

He always was a wrong 'un.

Ditto the above.

Bit obscure that one, but still a great opening line.

Don't do it!

Ditto the above.

If I were ever to phone my brother up, I reckon I'd end up breaking crockery afterwards too.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Snapshots #228: A Top Ten Drums & Drummer Songs

As Brian said last week, the answers always seem obvious on a Sunday.

Beat your drums to the following tunes, please...

10. Sounds like he had slim sleeves.

Jim Reeves - Distant Drums

9. Genesis sang about them three times.

Genesis sang Tonight Tonight Tonight.

Tonight - Drummer Man

8. Detective who used to make sketches meets homicidal artificial intelligence. 

(Or... would-be Dirty Harry meets magician in a box.)

Nancy Drew + HAL 9000.

Dirty Harry was originally going to be played by Frank Sinatra,

David Blaine was a magician in a box.

Nancy Sinatra & Hal Blaine - Drummer Man

7. Wot, no peppered sprouts?

"We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout" is the opening line to Jackson.

Chad Jackson - Here The Drummer, Get Wicked

I thought I'd hate that, given how much I hate most dance music from that era. But I actually had quite a fond recollection, hearing it again after all these years. It's a lot more old skool than I remember.

6. They got tangled up in a hotter vest bra.

"Hotter vest bra" was an anagram.

The Avett Brothers - Kick Drum Heart

5. Southern Indian devotional poet.

Named after King Kulasekhara, the aforementioned devotional poet.

Kula Shaker - The Sound Of Drums

4. Famous for producing ground beef dish.

The man who produced Meat Loaf, on Bat Out Of Hell.

Todd Rundgren - Bang The Drum All Day

3. First in line, lover of wolves.

Prince Charles if First In Line for the throne.

"Connor" means lover of wolves, apparently.

The Charles Connor Band - Drummer Man 

2. In this picture, you have seen torsos.

"Seen torsos" is an anagram.

Stone Roses - She Bangs The Drum

1. Rocking horses.

Rock as in stone, horses as in ponies.

Linda Ronstadt in the middle there. The Lemonheads version always deserves a mention.

The Stone Poneys - Different Drum

Catch a Yellow Submarine... or a Tank Engine called Thomas... to bring you back for more Snapshots next Saturday.

Saturday 19 February 2022

Saturday Snapshots #228

There's another stormy Saturday in prospect, with winds strong enough to blow TVs out of hotel rooms and Rolls Royces into swimming pools. Better to stay indoors, I'd say, and have a go at this week's Snapshots.

Identify the artists below, then work out the connection between certain of their songs...

10. Sounds like he had slim sleeves.

9. Genesis sang about them three times.

8. Detective who used to make sketches meets homicidal artificial intelligence. 

(Or... would-be Dirty Harry meets magician in a box.)

7. Wot, no peppered sprouts?

6. They got tangled up in a hotter vest bra.

5. Southern Indian devotional poet.

4. Famous for producing ground beef dish.

3. First in line, lover of wolves.

2. In this picture, you have seen torsos.

1. Rocking horses.

When the Moon goes down tomorrow morning, the answers will come up.

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