Tuesday 31 January 2023

Namesakes #19: The Angels

Last time, a lot of you pretended not to like Genesis, despite the fact that Turn It On Again is a truly great song, even with Phil Collins on it.

This week, I was put in mind of the Jim Steinman classic Rock 'n' Roll Dreams Come Through, and this particular lyric... 

And the angels had guitars even before they had wings
If you hold onto a chorus it can get you through the night

(The video to that Steinman track is a camp classic, by the way. Worth 4 and a half minutes of anyone's time.)

For your consideration this week...


Bruce Springsteen was 6 years old when our first group of Angels formed in his home state of New Jersey. Here's their biggest "hit" from one year later in 1956, not to be confused with the Peter Cetera song...


In 1959, Norwood, Massachusetts, guitarist Joe Serratore formed our second Angels, releasing a track that wouldn't have been out of place at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance...


Originally known as The Starlets, latterly The Halos, with various members also recording under the names The Powder Puffs, The Beach Nuts, The Delicates, Dusk & Jessica James and the Outlaws, the original Angels are best remembered for the 1963 US Number One My Boyfriend's Back, a classic "you're gonna get beaten up good" tune if ever I heard one...

Shall we stop there and call it an easy win?


OK, then...


Here's the week's token bunch of surf-rock dudes, with a 1963 song that might have inspired Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs...


Swiss band from the late 60s. Also released two other songs called The Creeper and Flying Yankee, both of which I imagine to be more exciting than this instrumental released to celebrate the 1967 Badenfahrt Festival... but this is the only one I can find on youtube.


Originating in Adelaide in 1974, these Angels scored Top 40 hits in the Aussie charts for the next four decades and are still going strong today. Here's one of their biggest...


Flemish Electro-Pop from 1983...


Italian disco track from 1984... all 10 minutes 5 seconds of it, as if you had the time...


From South Africa, also in the mid-80s (and sounding very mid-80s), here are our final three Angels, aka Marilyn Nokwe, Nonhlanhla Dlomo and Jean Madubane...

There were more. Believe me. I spared you the worst.

But which Angels will take you to Heaven... and which will get kicked out to join Lucifer?

Let me know below...

Monday 30 January 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #65: Tom Verlaine

Well, the Cadillac
It pulled out of the graveyard
Pulled up to me
All they said, "get in, get in"
Then the Cadillac
It puttered back into the graveyard
Me, I got out again

Just as it came time to fire up the Celebrity Jukebox again, the news of Tom Verlaine's passing was announced. I didn't build this jukebox purely as a memorial machine, but it seems to increasingly be used that way. Ashes to Ashes...

Being quite an influential figure in the world of rock 'n' roll, Tom Verlaine pops up in quite a few songs. Here are a strong selection...

When she sang about a boy
Kurt Cobain
I thought what a shame it wasn't about
Tom Verlaine

When the gang came down here again
And they're phoning up Australia and they call each other names
And they all just wanna look like Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine
Some of my best friends are trains

I left school with 12 GCSEs, 3 A Levels and only one good song
I'm just another Russell Group punk
Just another Distrokid kid
Just another dime-store Tom Verlaine
Waiting for my 15 seconds of fame

April the 7th, 1979
Didn’t we breakfast together?
We celebrated my seventeenth
And heard Tom Verlaine together
We shouted from my bedroom window
And weren’t we happy that day?
But perhaps it was the whisky
Well at least no-one died that day

I can't turn you off
I just try and laugh you off
Tom Verlaine you maybe are
But you sure ain't rock n roll

Nights by the lake
Ribs and lemonade 
Tom Verlaine
Tape on auto-play

If I could dance
With Tom Verlaine
He's the one
On the television

That when you walk away
It's gonna be for good
You were my Tom Verlaine
Just sitting on the hood

Sunday 29 January 2023

Snapshots #276: A Top Ten Doo Doo Songs

All hails Michael McDonald, King of Doo! Well, Doobie. Because he's from the Doobie Brothers. You see? Have I explained that enough?

Here's ten songs with some Doo in them...

10. Filthy.

"The Filth" is not particularly complimentary slang for The Police.

The Police - De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Some of Sting's very best lyrics, right there.

9. When Henry Met Serena.

Lenny Henry meets Serena Williams.

Lenny Williams - Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh

(Top 40 hit in 1977, pop pickers.)

8. Laverne's Street Blues.

Lauren Laverne from Kenickie & 6Music sings on the Hill.

Lauryn Hill - Doo-Wop (That Thing)

7. He can always sell any dream to me... and may be related to #8.

Joshua Kadison sang "Jesse, you can always sell any dream to me". And this is another Hill.

Jessie Hill - Ooh Poo Pah Doo

6. Interdit aux moins de 21 ans.

That's the warning label that appeared on copies of Serge & Jane's infamous 1969 Number 1 hit. And I'm sure nobody under 21 bought a copy.

Jane Birkin - Di Doo Dah

5. White lies from a Glasvegas social worker.

Glasvegas sang about their social worker, Geraldine.

White lies are fibs.

The Geraldine Fibbers - You Doo Right

4. Played keyboards in the band.

That's Manfred Mann (born Manfred Sepse Lubowitz), who played keyboards in the band that took his name. Paul Jones sang the songs.

Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy

3. The Longer Tonsils.

A rather fitting anagram.

The Rolling Stones - Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

2. Ask Ethan.

Anyone who watched GLOW will recognise the subject of today's second anagram, the wonderful...

Kate Nash - Do-Wah-Doo

1. Charley's Chandeliers.

Charley Pride sang about Crystal Chandeliers.

An obvious Number One...

Doo come back next Saturday for more Snapshots...

Saturday 28 January 2023

Saturday Snapshots #276

And we're back. Apologies for missing last Saturday... I hope you didn't get withdrawal symptoms.

Like, Zoinks!, Scoob, this week's Snapshots is a real mystery!

Can we identify ten artists and work out what connects their songs. They're gonna get away with it if not for us pesky kids...

10. Filthy.

9. When Henry Met Serena.

8. Laverne's Street Blues.

7. He can always sell any dream to me... and may be related to #8.

6. Interdit aux moins de 21 ans.

5. White lies from a Glasvegas social worker.

4. Played keyboards in the band.

3. The Longer Tonsils.

2. Ask Ethan.

1. Charley's Chandeliers.

Scooby snacks for everyone who played today... full answers tomorrow morning.

Thursday 26 January 2023


“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

That’s one of the main lessons my dad taught me, along with “If you can’t say something good about somebody, don’t say owt!” and “You can’t fall: there’s nothing to stop you.” He told me that last one whenever I went up a ladder on the farm. I’m not sure I ever really believed it, but I did believe the one about doing your job right.

My dad had a number of different jobs in his life, although he always said that farming was more of a hobby. He got the farming bug when he was a boy, helping out on one of the local farms in Marsden. Around that time, he got blood poisoning after being bitten by his baby sister, and he had to stay off school… but ended up playing on the farm with his arm in a sling.

As he grew older, dad started playing for local football and cricket teams, and also joined Marsden Brass Band, playing baritone, euphonium, and in the end a tenor trombone, which was his favourite. He also ventured down the valley into enemy territory – Slawit! – where he occasionally played in a dance band, though he said that was much harder. No wonder he admired Glenn Miller.

Once in Slawit, he started hanging out at Nields Youth Club on a Friday night, which is where he met my mum. She came right up to him and introduced herself. Dad was speechless. His mates bet him half a crown he couldn’t get a date with her… but even though he won the bet, they never paid him. Still, he won a lot more than half a crown that night, and he knew it too.

When they met, dad was working as an apprentice joiner at Bagley’s Funeral Directors in Marsden. I heard a lot about Mr. Bagley when I was growing up, though I never met him. Often, I’d find my dad working in his shed or round the back on the farm, doing some amazing construction job that defied gravity and didn’t look possible for one man on his own. If ever I asked him how he’d done it, he’d reply: “Mr. Bagley helped me”. I used to look round to see where Mr. Bagley was hiding, but I couldn’t ever find him.

When he was 21, dad took a break from joinery to do his National Service… though they did allow him a week off to get married. When it came time to cut the wedding cake, dad sliced open his hand with the knife… the first of many hand injury stories we could tell, including the time my sister had to drive him to hospital after he got his hand trapped in the muck-spreader. Another time, I had to take him to A&E after he almost sliced his thumb off with a circular saw. In hospital, dad was less than complimentary about the junior doctor they sent to stitch him up… “He’s just a kid!”

There are a lot more stories to tell from my dad’s time on the farm… and I was surprised how many involved guns. Like the time Harry Bamforth, another local farmer, threatened dad with his shotgun for taking a hay cart along his lane… dad kept going, driving the tractor straight over Harry’s toes. 

Or what about the time my brother wanted to prove what a crack shot he was by shooting at the shovel my dad was leaning on? He missed. Killed a chicken instead. “Murderer!” 

And then there’s the time, not very long ago, when dad dug out his old shotgun one last time to shoot a large rat that had started visiting the farm. He dismantled the gun soon after shooting a hole in his grandson's car.

With all that shooting, it’s no wonder dad’s favourite actor was John Wayne. One of his favourite films was The Quiet Man… and I guess he could be something of a quiet man himself. And yet, if he had a job to do… like when he started working for British Car Auctions… he could get up on a stage and command the room. And like all the best auctioneers, he could talk really fast. I remember watching him do the charity auctions at my school. I felt so proud, seeing him do that, racing through the bids, then banging down his gavel after the final one. That’s something I took from him… it’s how I can stand up at his funeral and deliver this eulogy. Catch me afterwards though, and I probably won’t have anything to say to you. Much like my dad.

I’ve got two more stories to tell. Firstly, one about a crazy guy who used to drive round Holt Head in a rickety old van with a toilet strapped on the roof. One day he stopped and got chatting with my dad, and afterwards my brother asked what they’d been talking about.

“He wants to be a local councillor,” dad explained, “but to apply, he has to be a land owner. He wanted to know if I could sell him a plot of land, so he could register.”

My brother was shocked. “You’re not going to sell him anything, are you?”

“Why not? He seems alright. And he only wants to buy one square foot…”

Finally, there’s the time we lost Fly. Fly was a sheepdog, and the first pet I really knew, so when she died I was devastated. I cried for a week. In the end, dad took me out in the field where he’d buried her, and he gave me a hammer and a chisel and showed me how to chip her name into a big stone on the wall. Then he left me to it, making a headstone for the dog. I felt so much better after doing that.

“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

I hope I did this one right, dad.

Monday 16 January 2023


My dad died on Saturday night. It's going to take a while to come to terms with that. I might write some more about it here, if I find it helps. But for the time being, I'm taking a little break. 

Take care of yourselves.

Sunday 15 January 2023

Snapshots #275: Top Ten Songs With A Hole In Them

This is Courtney Love. Her band is called Hole.

Yesterday, I gave you a picture of Bernard Cribbins who sang Hole In The Ground. I figured that would be too easy as one of the songs, even though it is the greatest song ever recorded with a hole in it.

Here are ten more holes...

10. Moby's ways.

Moby sang about Extreme Ways.

Extreme - Hole Hearted

9. Abaaaaartment.

That would be where the baaaa lambs live.

Sheephouse - Hole In The Sky

8. How Bob Lind signs his name, in a Backstreets, on his way to the next whiskey bar.

Bob Lind (of Elusive Butterfly fame) would sign his name B.Lind. Add to that the Backstreet Boys and a line from Alabama Song and you get...

The Blind Boys of Alabama - Way Down In The Hole

7. Big Red Dog gets a Ruby.

Clifford is the Big Red Dog. A Ruby Murray is a Curry.

Clifford Curry - She Shot A Hole In My Soul

6. Rose Variety + Where Prince Met Robbers + Scottish January.

Stone Roses + Thieves In The Temple + Scottish band Pilot, who sang January.

Stone Temple Pilots - Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart

5. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.

That's a line from Television (The Drug of the Nation) by The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy.

Television - Foxhole

4. Orange vision.

Tangerine Dream - The Burning Hole

3. Oxford detective from the block.

Lewis was the Oxford Detective, Jenny came from the block.

Jenny Lewis - Rabbit Hole

2. The trouble with nice source and strange Fitzgerald.

The Trouble With Harry. "Nice Source" is a literal translation of Bella Fonte. Strange Fitzgerald = Odd Etta. Except... as Ernie points out, that clue didn't work because I had somehow confused Ella Fitzgerald with Etta James. D'oh. Apologies, all.

Harry Belafonte & Odetta - A Hole in the Bucket

1. Often served with Jam.

That would be a Traffic Jam.

Let's not forget Neil's version of this!

There'll be a Hole load more Snapshots to solve next Saturday...

Saturday 14 January 2023

Saturday Snapshots #275

"Right, " said Fred, "Both of us together

Can solve these pesky Snapshots in one go."

Tried to crack them, couldn't even hack them

We was getting nowhere

And so we had a cuppa tea and waited for you lot to turn up and do the job for us.

10. Moby's ways.

9. Abaaaaartment.

8. How Bob Lind signs his name, in a Backstreets, on his way to the next whiskey bar.

7. Big Red Dog gets a Ruby.

6. Rose Variety + Where Prince Met Robbers + Scottish January.

5. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.

4. Orange vision.

3. Oxford detective from the block.

2. The trouble with nice source and strange Fitzgerald.

1. Often served with Jam.

So Charlie and me had another cuppa tea

And then we went home... to wait for the answers tomorrow morning.

Friday 13 January 2023

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #89: Living In The Past

I've been watching old episodes of my favourite TV show, NYPD Blue, lately. This isn't going to be a post extolling the virtues of that show and its (eventual) lead character, Andy Sipowicz. I've written before about how I think he's one of the most complex and multi-layered characters ever to grace a screen, and how Dennis Franz's performance elevates an ordinary police procedural to high art... but that's not why I'm here today.

Instead, I want to talk about the comfort of retreating into the fictional worlds of our youth, a world that (for all its problems) seems much less scary than the one we live in today. NYPD Blue ran from 1993 - 2005. I began my re-watch (it's all on Disney+ if you're interested) a few episodes into the second season, when Jimmy Smits joins the cast to replace the wooden egomaniac David Caruso, whose starring role makes the first season a bit of a trudge. The show hasn't really dated and stands up well against the best TV of today (putting a lot of it into the shade, to be honest), and the world they're living in is utterly believable, so as with the best fiction you can immerse yourself in it and it's like being there with them.

Of course, many things have changed over the last 30 years. The squad are still writing up their reports on typewriters and there's none of that reliance on high tech bobbins that takes the tension out of a lot of contemporary crime dramas. They have to rely on witness statements rather than security camera footage. Mobile phones are pretty basic. Nobody's checking the perp's facebook feed to see if he's posted anything dodgy. Etc. Etc. Best of all, you regularly catch a glimpse of the Twin Towers in the background when the cops are beating the streets.

I'm finding solace in that old squad room, in the same way I would if I stepped back into the Cheers bar again or even revisited an old series of Grange Hill. Because all my old friends are still there, and they haven't changed a bit. They've not grown old, become ill, passed on to another plane. You can't visit your old workplace or school from 30, 40 years ago and have it be just the same as it was, much as we might wish to do so. But you can do that with your favourite old TV shows. And there's a wonderful solace to be found within them.

Let us close our eyes
Outside their lives go on much faster
Oh, we won't give in
We'll keep living in the past

Thursday 12 January 2023

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #88: Bad Back

Did my back in at the weekend. I went to the tip with a car-load of post Christmas junk, including a single mattress, and managed to unload them all with no trouble. Once back, trying to refit Sam's car seat in the pouring rain, I twisted in slightly the wrong way in the confined space and bingo. 

I'm hoping it'll be better by the time this post runs, but in the meantime, here are some of the songs I listened to while stretching out on a cold hard floor...

I go to church all day Sunday
I go out and get drunk all day Monday
And ain't nobody's business what I do

There are loads of different versions of this old blues standard, and the lyrics change depending on who's singing it. I've been listening to Nina's 1961 album Forbidden Fruit lately, and this is one of my favourite tracks.

Tom T. Hall was known as "The Storyteller". For very good reason...

I looked 'round the room, as a tourist would do
That's when I saw the girl in the booth
She sat there and cried in the smoky half-dark
The silent type crying that tears out your heart
Her clothes were not cut in the new modern way
And her suitcase had seen better days

Nobody asked her what caused her such pain
Nobody spoke up, yet no one complained
Without even asking, I knew why she cried
Life is just like that sometimes

From his second album way back in 1974. What joy I felt when I heard this and recognised it from my childhood. I'm guessing Terry must have played it back in the day.

Shut up.

Finally, inspired by Charity Chic's recent Saturday Series, I've been listening to Townes Van Zandt's Roadsongs LP. Unlike CC's series, where we have to judge Townes' originals against covers, this is a live album on which Townes covers other people's songs... often improving on them. He does that here on my favourite version of The Stones' Dead Flowers, as immortalised in my favourite movie. The Dude abides.

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