Friday 30 September 2022

Positive Songs For Negative Times #79: Summer's Over

Summer at Fountain's Abbey, near Ripon. 
Photo taken on the 1st of September, 2022.

The Winds of Autumn Teach Us That Decay is the Fate of All Mankind

(from The Guardian, 11th November, 1840)

There is an "even-tide" in the year - a season when the sun withdraws his propitious light - when the winds arise, and the leaves fall, and nature around us seems to sink into decay. It is said to be the season of melancholy; and if by this word be meant that it is the time of solemn and serious thought, it is undoubtedly the season of melancholy; yet it is a melancholy so soothing, so gentle in its approach, and so prophetic in its influence, that they who have known it feel, as if instinctively, that it is the doing of God.

I like Autumn. I love to watch the leaves turn colour and feel the bite of the colder air, dig out the winter coat (which has far more pockets than the summer jacket: I adore pockets) and the heavier duvet. I can’t deny that the season brings melancholy… then again, I’m a big fan of melancholy. It’s almost as good as pockets. Melancholy is probably my favourite emotion. I mean, Happiness Is Overrated, right? Not to mention, so bloody hard to come by…

Autumn officially began last Friday, according to the Calendar people. For teachers, it probably begins a couple of weeks earlier when the summer holidays end and it’s back to school. I don’t normally start wearing my winter jumpers until October Half Term, clinging onto the short-sleeved summer shirts as long as I can… although this year, with Louise turning the thermostat down to minimise our exposure to the energy bill apocalypse, I’ve already taken to wearing socks in bed.

It’s around this time of year, regular as clockwork, that a particular song starts playing in my mind. A number #60 smash in 1998 (almost a quarter of a decade ago, for those of you not bummed out enough by the Grauniad’s suggestion that “Decay is the Fate of All Mankind”), but in my mind it was a Number One. As for melancholy classics, this one’s right up there…

Kamikaze seagull planes
Fighting over chip shop take-away remains
When you're walking on the cliffs
You can't help thinking of how far down the sea is
And what if it should give

Empty pubs echo with sounds
Jukebox selections that keep going round and round
And maybe rain is all we need
To come and wash the summer rubbish off the beach
Oh, let's just go to sleep
I didn't mean to bring you down
Summer's over, seaside town
She says we shouldn't have come so far
This seaside town

Thursday 29 September 2022

Neverending Top Ten #5.5: Your Alibi

"Daddy, what's an alibi?"

"Well, buddy... say the police thought you'd done something bad. Like, say they thought you'd broken into Sid's house and stolen all his chocolate, and they knew the break-in was a 7 o'clock last night. So imagine you'd been at a party at that time with 30 of your friends who could all prove you were there... well, that'd be your alibi. Proof that you didn't steal Sid's chocolate."

"Oh. OK. So... why's this guy waiting for one? What's he done?"


I have no idea. 


Wednesday 28 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #38: Raquel Welch

I think it's fair to say that Raquel Welch must be the oldest actress I've ever featured here. After all, she has been acting since One Million Years BC. 

When Stephen King wrote the novella that The Shawshank Redemption was based on, the poster on Andy DuFrense's cell wall was Rita Hayworth. In the movie, to better show the passage of time, he has three posters: Hayworth, Marilyn... and the iconic image above of Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC, surely one of the most famous posters ever printed... after that one of the tennis player scratching her arse. Iffypedia tells us "Welch helped transform America's feminine ideal into its current state", a statement which is as questionable as it is disputable. To her credit, Welch herself once said, "I was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one. The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding". 

Whatever you think of Raquel Welch, it's fair to say that poster may well have decorated the bedroom walls of many of the songwriters below...

Not actually about Raquel Welch, just a girl with the same first name as her. However, Ms. Welch does get a mention... and extra points for rhyming her surname with "squelch".

I am not well.

What is this feeling that 
I'm not trying to squelch?
I don't know your last name,
I just know it's not Welch.

No question about this one though, from the man who wrote The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan...

I been collectin' matches for 20 years or more
I got about a hundred thousand books of 'em,
Sittin' in my end table draw
So that if Raquel Welch comes knockin' at my door
And asks me for a match, for her cigarette...
I'll be ready

And there can be little doubt that Gruff Rhys had Ms. Welch in mind when he wrote this for his Super Furries side project...

Oh Raquel
You've really got the power over me
Oh Raquel
Your silhouette's an hourglass indeed

I saw you as a movie star
And now you're riding in my car
Oh Raquel
You fill me with inertia, yes you do
Oh Raquel
I know this when I touch you, on a balloon

Your daddy came from Bolivia
Your Irish mother gave you star
Shine on

(In case you're wondering, Gruff did his research. Raquel's parents are Bolivian daddy Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo and Irish mummy Josephine Sarah Hall.)

OK, so those are the only songs I found with Raquel in the title. What about lyrical nods? 

Deep breath...


Oh, sorry... I mean...

There may not be much difference
Between Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon
If we strip them naked

There may not be much difference
Between Marilyn Monroe and Lenny Bruce
If we check their coffins

There may not be much difference
Between Raquel Welch and Jerry Rubin
If we hear their heartbeat 


Slightly less deep, yet somehow far less annoying, is the fact that Raquel Welch shares a birthday with Freddie Mercury, Werner Herzog and...

I am the birthday boy
Today's my day, mine to enjoy
I am the birthday king
Today of me I sing

Fred Mercury is dead and gone
Raquel Welch continues on
Werner Herzog's doing fine
It's their birthdays and mine

Then comes the "I'll have what she's been smoking" category...

I had the Story of O in my bucket seat
Of my wannabe Mustang
Auditioning for reptiles in their
Raquel Welch campaign

Glories of the 80s, you said
"I'm not afraid to die" I said,
"I don't find that remotely funny, even
On this space cake high"

Yeah, I'm not going to try to explain that.

Oh, look, here's a song with Two Parts! You have to scroll through to the beginning of Part 2, around the 4 minute mark, to hear a brief reference to Raquel... but I think it's just a playful nickname for Freddie's co-singer.

How about a word from Mr. Moonlighting himself?

You think that love's
What's on that silver screen
Raquel and Redford are the tops
You've been misled
By all those movies you've seen

Or perhaps you'd prefer something from the first Finnish band to ever chart in the UK?

My little lover's gonna be another copy of Raquel Welch, 
I'll build her a house and a maid named Jill
And spend the rest of my life down in Beverly Hills

Or a Christian Rock Supergroup? (Aren't they all?)

Remember Raquel Welch in that fur bikini
The dinosaur bird swooping down
Loana, the fair one, flailing and screaming
Soon as her feet left the ground
Sometimes there’s nowhere to hide
Just as well to surrender and go for the ride

Loana was the name of the character Raquel played in One Million Years BC. Clearly they're not Christian fundamentalists, otherwise they'd be rubbishing the film's depiction of dinosaurs which, clearly, never existed.

Oh, and here's our token Mark Kozelek track for this week...

The reason I love you number eight
Is because we rarely rarely fight and we get along great
And you're prettier than me, than Raquel Welsh or Sharon Tate
And that's the reason I love you number eight

All of which leads us to two very clear winners for today's Raquel-love-in. 

The first... is only... one of the greatest TV theme tunes ever written...

I've never spent much time in school
But I taught ladies plenty
It's true, I hire my body out for pay, hey hey
I've gotten burnt over Sheryl Tiegs, blown up for Raquel Welch
But when I end up in the hay, it's only hay, hey hey

And the second... is Loretta. 'Nuff said.

I'm glad that Raquel Welch just signed a million dollar pact
And Debbie's out in Vegas workin' up a brand new act
While the TV's showin' newlyweds, a real fun game to play

But here in Topeka, the screen door's a bangin'
The coffee's boilin' over and the wash needs a hangin'
One wants a cookie and one wants a changin'
And one's on the way

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Namesakes #5: Mr. Big

Last week's Namesakes vote was the first unanimous result of the series, with The Charlatans soundly thrashing The Charlatans, even though the winners were actually Charlatans. I think I've run that joke into the ground now.

This week's choice will be much harder. I mean, how can you choose between two of the BIGgest one hit wonders in rock? 

MR. BIG #1

Our first Mr. Big formed in the late 60s, when they stumbled along using the name Burnt Oak to not much acclaim. Attempting to big them up, their manager changed their name (without telling them) to Mr. Big just before a 1972 gig at the Marquee Club in London, and the rest is a very small piece of history.

This Mr. Big went onto support Queen, The Sweet, Tom Petty, Journey, Kansas and The Runaways before scoring their one Top Ten hit despite (or perhaps because of) a BBC radio ban because of it's "saucy" lyrics.

Those "saucy" lyrics? I know you're dying to know. OK. Well. Cover your eyes if you're easily shocked...

I am the morning, you are the light
You make the morning such a beautiful thing
I am the green grass, you are the rain
Fall on me, make me grow
No-one will ever know
Fall on me make me grow again

Step back in time dear Romeo she said
Step back in time please take me to your bed
Step back in time dear Romeo
My Juliet and take me home

If you ask me, far more shocking is the fact that most of them couldn't afford buttons for their shirts...

Also: someone's been watching the Bohemian Rhapsody video on repeat. Which wasn't that easy to do in the days before video recorders.

MR. BIG #2

Our second Mr. Big turned up about ten years after the original bunch called it quits, way over on the other side of the Atlantic, as part of the burgeoning L.A. rock scene spearheaded by Guns 'n' Roses. Unable to score any big hits with rockier tunes such as Blame It On My Youth and Addicted To That Rush, they unveiled their more commercial sensitive side with To Be With You, a global number one hit (although it stuck at #3 in the UK) that promised big things... 

After that, Iffypedia tells us they were mostly just Big In Japan. 

You may well find this video unintentionally hilarious... consider that a warning.

Which Mr. Big is Biggest? Only you can decide...

Monday 26 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #37: Douglas Fairbanks

Here’s another one for George…

I have to confess, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film starring either Douglas Fairbanks Sr. or Jr. I’m sure that’s a crime against cinema, and only goes to demonstrate my vast cultural ignorance… but at least I’m honest with you.

Fairbanks Sr. was a big name in the silent era, notably in swashbuckling roles such as Zorro and Robin Hood. He was known as “The King of Hollywood” during this era, but that title quickly passed to Clark Gable once sound arrived. His Queen was Mary Pickford (so he pops up in the Katie Melua song dedicated to her), although they divorced in 1936, three years before Fairbanks Sr. died of a heart attack. Apparently, his last words were, “I’ve never felt better”. But then, he hadn’t heard most of these tunes, so who knows how much better he might have felt?

To begin, folky Canadian Ian Bell gets out his fiddle for this instrumental namecheck…

Moving onto songs with actual words, we kick off with some infamous Bela Lugosi fans…

All our dreams have melted down
We are hiding in the bushes
From dead men
Doing Douglas Fairbanks' stunts

All our stories burnt
Our films lost in the rushes
We can't paint any pictures
As the moon had all our brushes

Extracting wasps from stings in flight
Who killed Mr. Moonlight?

I quite like that line about wasps, although surely it should be “Extracting stings from wasps in flight”? Unless they’re talking about pulling wasps out of Sting. Which I’m not exactly going to object to, as it sounds a rather uncomfortable procedure, and he definitely deserves it.

Going much further back in time, we arrive at US cabaret singer Bobby Short, taking his debut performance on this blog alongside a bunch of other silent movie stars, which should keep George happy...

Handsome Wallace Reid
Stepped out full of speed
And Theda Bara, Was a terror
She "vamped the little lady"
So did Alice Brady;

Douglas Fairbanks shimmied on one hand
Like an acrobat
Mary Pickford did a toe dance grand and
Charlie Chaplin with his feet
Stepped all over poor Blanche Sweet
Dancing at that moving picture ball

Of a similar vintage, we have The Andrews Sisters, with a song title that I honestly thought was internet nonsense… until I did a bit of digging and discovered that Barney Google was a comic strip character created in 1919, whose adventures are still being serialised in some US newspapers, making it the third longest running syndicated comic strip in the world… 103 years and counting. I’ll let you google the two that beat it, although the thing I found most interesting was that Barney Google himself rarely appears in his own strip these days, having been largely usurped by his sidekick Snuffy Smith. I so wish I was making this up.

Who's the greatest lover that this country ever knew?
And who's the man that Valentino takes his hat off to?
No, it isn't Douglas Fairbanks that the ladies rave about.
When he arrives, who makes the wives chase all their husbands out?

Why, it's Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google is the guy who never buys.
Women take him out to dine, then he steals the waiter's dime.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes. 

I somehow feel that the discovery of that song, and its incredible history, entirely justifies my entire blogging career to date. See, Louise, I’m not just wasting my time up here!

Slightly more up-to-date, and musically relevant to this blog, we have 80s US power-poppers Game Theory, who, by their own admission , specialised in “young-adult-hurt-feeling-athons”…

Swordfights on tables for way too long
Ended, I guess, in a draw
Now Douglas Fairbanks is one off the list
Singling la Leilani la Leilani la

Clint Eastwood and Donovan also pop up in that song. In case you’re keeping notes.

Most interesting discovery today (beyond Barney Google, obviously) is Gabriel Kahane, who iffypedia compare to both Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainwright. Certainly worthy of further investigation is his Craigslistlieder collection in which he gets serious classical musicians to perform the words of classified ads. Today’s track though comes from his 2014 album The Ambassador, wherein “he used ten addresses in L.A. to write songs from the perspectives of characters both real and imaginary”.

I am the night watchman
I stand by the door
Some fifteen thousand nights
I have stood here for

A saturnalia every Saturday
In the salad days long gone
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford
Would be wrestling on the lawn

I’d be lying if I didn’t confess something at this point. My immediately piqued interest in Mr. Kahane was dulled somewhat by the discovery that he’d collaborated with an old school “mate” of mine (who I didn’t get on with at all), a gentleman who now appears to be an O.B.E. Not that I’m bitter. Arrogance will get you a long way in this world. If only I’d been born with an ounce of it. (Some people might call it confidence or self-belief. My point still stands.) Still, I'll try not to let this colour my judgement of Mr. Kahane any further.

Let’s move onto safer territory, with the always welcome Ms. Kate Bush, and a song dedicated to her mother, from The Red Shoes album. This only got to number 26 in the charts, which is another crime again sanity, but such is life…

On a balcony in New York
It's just started to snow
He meets us at the lift
Like Douglas Fairbanks
Waving his walking stick

But he isn't well at all
The buildings of New York
Look just like mountains through the snow
Just being alive
It can really hurt

And these moments given
Are a gift from time
Just let us try
To give these moments back
To those we love
To those who will survive

That’s quite enough for today, but if you’re interested in the recorded history of the next generation in the Fairbanks clan... come back some other time.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Snapshots #259: A Top Ten Songs With Two Parts

Time to make a big Splash with this weeks answers! 

Here are ten songs that come in (at least) two parts...

10. Rated worst.


Rod Stewart - The Killing Of Georgie (Part I & II)

9. This pair are a mystery to me.

Enigma - Sadeness Part 1

Enigma - Sadeness Part 2

30+ years, and I only just realised there's an extra 'e' in the middle of that. 

Doesn't make it any less rubbish.

8. Arthur Daley settles down and puts his feet up.

George Cole was Arthur Daley... getting cosy.

Cozy Cole - Topsy Part 1

Cozy Cole - Topsy Part 2

7. Everybody... tonight.

"Everybody WANG CHUNG tonight!"

Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days (Part 1)

Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days (Part 2)

6. Presumably none of them are called Billy.

They're girls, so none of them can be a billy goat.

Goat Girl - I Don't Care (Part 1)

Goat Girl - I Don't Care (Part 2)

5. Best & Ball.

George Best and Michael (not Bobby) Ball.

George Michael - I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 & 2)

4. What someone who loves the nightlife uses to get into their home.

Alicia Bridges loved the nightlife. She would use her keys to get in her home.

Alicia Keys - Empire State Of Mind (Part 1)

Alicia Keys - Empire State Of Mind (Part 2)

3. Panther meets wood-knocker.

The Pink Panther meets Eddie Floyd, who liked knocking on wood.

Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)

Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)

2. Deserving of worship.

He's an idol!

Billy Idol - White Wedding (Parts 1 & 2)

1. Tim Booth gets some Sugar.

Tim Booth is sick of me using him as a clue for people called James. Sugar Ray is less bothered.

"I never knew that George Harrison song was a cover version," Louise said to me the other day. I had to admit, it took me years to discover the original too. But when I did... hoo boy!

Roxanne... you don't have to put on the red light. I've given the green light to another part of the Snapshots saga next Saturday.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Saturday Snapshots #259

Waitaminute, doc... are you telling me you built a QUIZ... out of a bunch of old snapshots?

Here are ten clues to Fox you. Identify the stars below... then work out what connects their songs. Extra points for this week's connection, as I reckon it's a tricky one...

10. Rated worst.

9. This pair are a mystery to me.

8. Arthur Daley settles down and puts his feet up.

7. Everybody... tonight.

6. Presumably none of them are called Billy.

5. Best & Ball.

4. What someone who loves the nightlife uses to get into their home.

3. Panther meets wood-knocker.

2. Deserving of worship.

1. Tim Booth gets some Sugar.

You guys might not be ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.

(Answers tomorrow. If you want them now, find a way to get back to the future.)

Friday 23 September 2022

Positive Songs For Negative Times #78: Goodbye To Goodtimes

Not even the end of September, and already summer seems like another country.

Yes, I view the past through a rose-tinted lens of nostalgia.

Yes, there’s a lot to be positive about in the modern world… even though it seems easier to dwell on the negativity of death, disease, destruction and dunderhead politicians.

No, it won’t always be like this. There will be good times again. 

Although this guy ain’t so sure...

Kevin Morby is one of those names I keep hearing from the cognoscenti, a critic’s darling who, until now, I’ve not quite been so sure about.

That changed when I heard Goodbye To Goodtimes. It’s an exceptionally well-written and well-structured piece of songwriting, linking together themes, memories and touching lyrical details to create a whole that’s much more than the sum of its parts. One of those songs where I’m tempted not to quote just a little bit, because the little bits have more impact when you experience the full song. Having said that…

Seems the good times
Have finally come to pass
Make way for bad times
Soon to cross our path

When my father was a young man
He got Mickey Mantle's autograph
And with the Ms shaped like the moon
He would contemplate the stars
And wish the good times
Would never come to pass

When my mother was 19
She'd dance to Tina
Tina Turner
And the hallway bеcome a catwalk
And she'd go to the show
No, thеy just don't
Make 'em like that no more

Well rock me, baby
Oh, rock me, child
I miss the good times, Mama
They've gone out of style
And I don't remember
How it feels to dance
Goodbye to good times

Thursday 22 September 2022

2022 Contenders: If God Was a CCTV Control Room Operator Called Steve

I was brought up Church of England. Sunday School every week, religious assemblies, a Bible by my bedside. Somewhere along the line, I fell into fence-sitting agnosticism. I can see both the positives and negatives of religious belief, and while I no longer accept the idea of a bloke with a white beard sitting on a cloud, I refuse to discount the idea of some kind of afterlife, if only because the alternative is just too bleak... and how would I account for ghosts otherwise?

I find the whole belief debate quite fascinating though, particularly the unanswerable question of How Could A Loving God Allow So Much Suffering? That's a bottomless pit which former Carter frontman Jim Bob willingly throws himself into on this epic track from his latest Beach Ready EP. Apparently Jim Bob describes ‘If God Was a CCTV Control Room Operator Called Steve’ as his favourite ever Jim Bob recording. I'm tempted to agree with him. 

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #36: Valerie Singleton

As one of the longest serving Blue Peter presenters, Valerie Singleton will be, for many of you, the face of that show. However, she moved on to more grown up TV programming in the year I was born, so I never got to see her sitting on that famous sofa with John Noakes and Peter Purves. By the time I started watching, Lesley Judd had taken her place, in preparation for her later cameo in this famous Half Man Half Biscuit tune...

They’ve been cooking on Blue Peter
Now they’re sampling the dishes
“I don’t normally like tomatoes, John
But this is delicious”

Now the Krona rumour spread but they didn’t tell the bread
Did you honestly think that they would?
And if eight out of ten cats all prefer Whiskas
Do the other two prefer Lesley Judd?

But I digress. We're not here to talk about Lesley. This is Valerie's show! After all, Lesley wasn't there for Lulu the elephant, was she? Luckily, she does get her own entry in the Biscuit archives...

Precious McKenzie, boy I remember you well
Gob full of tapioca, I would sit and I’d watch you excel
Those legendary rivulets would trickle on down to your chin
But I always wondered what you did when you packed it all in

What are you doing today?
What have you done with the money?
How much did Singleton pay?
Do you think you were misunderstood?
I do.

Sadly, I can find no evidence to suggest that Steve Winwood's biggest hit was dedicated to Ms. Singleton... but we all know it must have been.

So cool, she was like
Jazz on a Summer's day
Music, high and sweet
Then she just blew away

Now she can't be that warm
With the wind in your arms

Valerie, call on me
Call on me, Valerie
I'm the same boy I used to be

It does seem unlikely that the Zutons song is about Ms. Singleton though, as their Valerie had ginger hair. (I did check.)

It is to recent Namesakes The Cortinas that we must return today then, as our Val has a very special place in their hearts...

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Namesakes #4: The Charlatans

Last week, you had four Octopi to choose from, although the votes were divided almost equally between just two of them. In the end, the 90s Octopus just trumped the 60s version (possibly because they hailed from Shotts).

A far simpler choice this week... 

Let’s talk irony. Imagine you had a band in the 60s called The Charlatans. Then imagine that 20-odd years later, another band turned up and started using that name. You might wish to protest. But how would you do it?

“They can’t call themselves the Charlatans! We’re the Charlatans! They’re just a bunch of… oh. Well, I suppose technically they might be charlatans. Actually, they might be even more charlatans than we are since they’re falsely claiming to be us and that’s just what a charlatan does. How do you think that will stand up in court? Maybe we should say they had the name first and let them sue us for being charlatans?”

There’s a Monty Python sketch just waiting to be written… by someone far more gifted at comedy than I am.


The original Charlatans were leading lights in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the mid-60s, or the “Liverpool of the United States” as it was once dubbed by some idiot who'd never been to either Liverpool or San Francisco. 

Being a bunch of counter-culture hippies, these Charlatans found it pretty hard to get their bloody acts together (clearly, they needed a collective haircut), so when you read up on their recorded output you'll find words such as “failed” and “lacklustre” bandied about (and given that much of their initial sessions weren’t released until 1996, you can probably see why). Their debut single was a rather goofy cover of an old Lieber & Stoller tune, The Shadow Knows. They wanted to release a Buffy Sainte-Marie penned anti-drugs song called Codeine, but the record company blocked them, on the basis that it would likely be misconstrued... given the band’s reputation for dressing up as Victorian dandies and dropping acid before performing at the Red Dog Saloon in Nevada. Those live shows are the stuff of legend though, and if you ever find yourself transported back in time to 60s West Coast USA, be sure to grab yourself a ticket.

Singer-songwriter Mike Wilhelm became a member of the Flaming Groovies, while drummer Dan Hicks had some success with His Hot Licks. The Charlatans reformed a few times over the years, though both Hicks and Wilhelm left for the great stage in the sky for a few years back.  

I chose this Hicks-written tune to represent the original Charlatans today because I love the title. Surely an influence on the great If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet? by My Life Story.


The second Charlatans will need little introduction to most of you, but when has that ever stopped me These Charlatans have been around for almost my entire record buying life, although they’d probably been in the go for at least five years before I paid them much attention. Their biggest success came during the Britpop era, when they were lumped in with that lot for no other reason that that they played guitars. I’ve seen them live once or twice, usually at festivals, and they have enough strong tunes to put on a strong show. I’m not sure Tim Burgess has much to say for himself lyrically though, which is why they don't quite make it into the upper echelon of my record collection. Points for getting Spider-Man into their biggest hit, One To Another, and for Weirdo, which has a nice outsider vibe they never developed any further.

Most of the time you are happy
You’re a weirdo
And before the introduction ends
There is someone feeling sorry for themselves
Look at your ugly shame
What are you talking for?
Look at your ugly shame
There’s too much for me to know about

Despite a tragedy-laced history (one member was killed in a car accident, another died of a brain tumour), this bunch of Charlatans have enjoyed remarkable longevity, probably due to a large, loyal fanbase. Does that include the readers of this blog? We shall see.

Now it’s time to vote. Who are The Charlatans, and who are just charlatans? Let’s settle that debate right now…

Monday 19 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #35: Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell stars in one of my all time favourite movies: John Carpenter's remake of The Thing. It's a far better movie than Alien, in my humble opinion, and with all due respect to Sigourney (who will surely feature here one day very soon). 

Kurt began acting at the age of 12, back in 1962, when he appeared in a short-lived Western TV show, soon after signing a lucrative contract with Disney that carried him through his teenage years until he teamed up with Carpenter to create some of the most memorable action movies of my youth - not just The Thing, but Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China... as well as Carpenter's Elvis biopic, in which Kurt got to wear the Blue Suede Shoes. He maintained a high profile well into the 90s with movies like Tango & Cash, Backdraft and Tombstone, and has done pretty well in the 21st Century too, turning up in big franchises such as The Fast & The Furious and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as a number of roles for Quentin Tarantino, most notably Deathproof. He also received credit from Tarantino in the recent novelisation of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as one of the major sources of "old Hollywood" stories Quentin mined for that movie.

But how does Kurt do in the world of popular music? Well, as with most action heroes, he gets crow-barred into about 350 obscure rap songs, in order to create tough guy cool by association. But I'm only going to include rap songs here if they actually live in my record collection, otherwise they'd clog up this feature and I'd be the sad 50 year-old white dude trying to prove his cred by name dropping artists you and I have both never heard of such as Vinnie PazGangrene, and Hoodie Allen (who at least gets points for his cheeky pseudonym). Special mention must however go to this, which I guess is kind of rap pastiche, but it did raise a momentary chuckle...

Mom says I'm sweet as dessert
Been that way ever since birth
You know who it is
Homie, it's Peach Fuzz Kurt Russell
Baby face with lots of stubble
Homie, it's Peach Fuzz Kurt Russell

At the other end of the spectrum, if you fancy a bit of Northern Irish thrash metal, you might lend your cotton-wool padded ears to this...

You'll be Tango
Kurt Russell
I’ll be Cash
Kurt Russell
Drinking cider
Kurt Russell
Smoking hash
Kurt Russell

However, nothing beats this, from local heroes to this blog (they formed while at Wakefield College), Ultrasound. This is one of their very best tunes, yet (such are the vagueries of rock 'n' roll) it was only ever released as a b-side. It was, however, one of the very first songs I thought of when I first came up with this series. Go on, put your hands down my pants...

You're never gonna see me fall,
I'll always be there when you call,
I want to be your hero,
Kurt Russell, Eastwood and me.

Sunday 18 September 2022

Snapshots #258: A Top Ten Circle Songs

Ever feel like you spend your life going round and round in circles? 

10. Nobleman and landowner.

That would be you, Squire.

9. Ponderous substance.

8. Onomatopoeia punch for Charles. 

Give a Thack! to Ray (Charles).

7. Pound, Furman and Miller are worse. 

Ezra Pound, Ezra Furman and Ezra Miller can't hold a candle to these guys...

6. While others fell behind, Mr. Bragg kept going.

Billy pressed on.

That's a cracker.

5. Woody is a plonker.

Woody Allen meets Rodney Trotter (you plonker!)

So is that.

4. Jim Bob and Fruitbat not pictured.

Jim Bob and Fruitbat were in Carter USM. But not in...

3. As you can tell by their clothing, this lot are keen sewers. 

Keen sewers was an anagram.

2. Blue painted set.

1. Dottie Danger.

Before she joined the Go-Gos, she was drummer in the punk band The Germs, under the pseudonym "Dottie Danger".

Circle back here next Saturday for more...

Saturday 17 September 2022

Saturday Snapshots #258

Long Live The King...

...And I will now bring you this week's Snapshots.

Identify the 10 artists below, then work out how their songs are connected.

10. Nobleman and landowner.

9. Ponderous substance.

8. Onomatopoeia punch for Charles. 

7. Pound, Furman and Miller are worse. 

6. While others fell behind, Mr. Bragg kept going.

5. Woody is a plonker.

4. Jim Bob and Fruitbat not pictured.

3. As you can tell by their clothing, this lot are keen sewers. 

2. Blue painted set.

1. Dottie Danger.

Yul be welcome back here tomorrow for the answers.

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