Sunday 30 April 2023

Snapshots #290: A Top Ten Smoking Songs

Castro your mind back 24 hours to yesterday's smoking Snapshots clues. I hope you didn't have to Fidel around too much to work them out.

I've only ever smoked about three cigarettes in my life, and each time I did, it was with the express intention of impressing a girl. And it never worked.

Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health (and Self-Respect).

10. Inside the Boa Sisters.

Possibly the most obvious photo I've ever run here. The clue was academic. They haven't changed a bit. (Except to get more annoying.)

Oasis - Cigarettes & Alcohol

9. Sounds like you should send a message to Hank.

Text Williams!

Tex Williams - Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)

8. Gory sweethearts.

My Bloody Valentine - Cigarette In Your Bed

Sounds like a 70s Public Safety Film waiting to happen.

7. Crossroads handyman lays out the letters for male.

The Crossroads handyman was Benny. He's just learned how to Spell 'Man'.

Benny Spellman - Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)

6. Surround sound.

Dolby Surround Sound, that is.

Thomas Dolby - Close But No Cigar

5. Hounds of Love.

Dogs D'Amour - Lady Nicotine

4. They're Abba-cum-Wham.

It's an anagram!

Chumbawamba - Give the Anarchist a Cigarette

3. Almond. Soy. Coconut. COW'S.

Cow's is the LOUDER milk.

John D. Loudermilk - Tobacco Road

That's the original. You may be more familiar with the Nashville Teens version (they weren't from Nashville and were mostly in their twenties), but the clue wouldn't have been as good.

2. 11 + 4 + Half the words we speak.

The 11th letter of the alphabet is K. The 4th is D. The words we speak are language. Half of that...

kd lang - My Last Cigarette

You could also have had any of the other songs on kd's smoking-themed LP 'Drag'. Or, to be honest, I'd also have allowed this...

kd lang - Constant Craving

1. How Shakespeare might announce he's just arrived at one of the country's biggest festivals.

O! Tis' Reading! I hope it's not another mudbath this year...

Otis Redding - Cigarettes and Coffee

Saturday Snapshots will be back next week, but it will be strictly NO SMOKING.

Saturday 29 April 2023

Saturday Snapshots #290

Normally, I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. But I let that rule slide for Club Snapshots, our weekly get-together to identify ten stars of popular music and work out what might connect their songs. 

Those are the rules, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

10. Inside the Boa Sisters.

9. Sounds like you should send a message to Hank.

8. Gory sweethearts.

7. Crossroads handyman lays out the letters for male.

6. Surround sound.

5. Hounds of Love.

4. They're Abba-cum-Wham.

3. Almond. Soy. Coconut. COW'S.

2. 11 + 4 + Half the words we speak.

1. How Shakespeare might announce he's just arrived at one of the country's biggest festivals.

I've had a perfectly wonderful morning, but this wasn't it. Maybe tomorrow, when the answers arrive...?

Friday 28 April 2023

Product Placement Friday #11: Ready Brek

I honestly thought they'd given up making Ready Brek, so I was surprised to see that it's still being churned out by the Weetabix people. Clearly they've changed the recipe to make it less radioactive, but us kids of the 70s and 80s were happy to down a bowl of nuclear slag if it kept us warm on our way to school. Kids nowadays are too soft by far.

Rapper Example (real name Elliot John Gleave) was born in 1982. His guest on the track below, Doc Brown (not the one with a Delorean, the one who recorded Equality Street with David Brent), was born in the 70s. So they're just about old enough to wax lyrical about the good old days...

I knew Elliot in the days of Ready Brek and Teletext
Never knew where we'd be shellin' next
Nowadays it's a brave new environment
Just for Example, I came out of retirement

Carl Barât from the Libertines was born one year after Doc Brown (1978, for those of you who're trying not to feel too old). Here he is with his other band, the one not fronted by an obnoxious junkie...

I used to have a future 
But now I don't know 
Just dependence and repentance and a Ready Brek glow

Next, how do you fancy some Scottish hip hop? You know you do...

I react like a bull to a red rag
'Til I glow around the edges like the Ready Brek man
With the heavyset slang to make many heads bang
And yi can chase yirsel for that bed tax

And then there's this...

Answers on a postcard.

Finally, here's a song from Richard Dawson about working in the civil service. It might ring a few bells for some of you...

Open your eyes, time to wake up
Shit, shower, brush your teeth, drain your cup
Wolf down a bowl of Ready Brek
Fasten a tie around your neck

All over the city we arise, arise
For a job we despise, despise, despise

I don't want to go into work this morning
I don't think I can deal with the wrath of the general public
And I don't have the heart to explain to another poor soul
Why it is their Disability Living Allowance will be stopping shortly

Little bit of politics to enjoy with your Ready Brek. That'll give you a warm glow...

Thursday 27 April 2023

Cnut Songs #23: The Every (5)

Last one of these, I promise. Or else (much as I'm trying to help promote his book), I'm probably going to get sued by Dave Eggers.

King Cnut could not hold back the tide, and I cannot hold back society's full-throttle descent into dystopia. All I can do is watch helplessly from the sidelines, and nod my head sagely when others hold a mirror up to the madness. Which is why I've been using this space over the past few weeks to quote excerpts from Dave Eggers' novel, The Every. Because everyone should read it and face up to the horror...

In this final extract, Delaney goes to work in the Iris-Tracking department. When she arrives, they give her a demonstration of the tech they’re developing…

“As you sit in front of the monitor,” Eric said, “an infrared light is being directed toward your pupils. This causes reflections in your pupil and your cornea. The vector between the cornea and the pupil is tracked by the infrared camera, and this way we can determine what you’re looking at. This also gives us the ability to track when you get fixated on something, what order you look at things – that kind of hierarchy is so crucial to study – and what things you come back to.”

“So it’s recording what I look at and how long,” Delaney said.


“But isn’t this illegal? I mean, didn’t some people sue?”

“They did,” Eric said, “and there are laws in some cities and states that limit their use. But there are millions of systems already in place. It’s been used for years within the Implicit Association Test, the Stroop Test, and of course the gaze contingency paradigms.”

“Using eye-trackers,” he continued, “just to figure out what people are looking at and for how long – that’s only logical. It started with marketing. Advertisers want to know what you look at. This serves the makers of ads, sure, but it serves the audience, too. A bad ad will be ignored, whoever made it will find a new line of work, and you won’t see any more like it.”

“It’s the perfect symbiosis,” Delaney said, and finally she saw Eric smile. “It’s the only meaningful way to determine what someone’s actually seeing, reading and responding to.”

“Well, right,” he said, and Delaney felt he’d finally begun to like her again. “The utility of this tech for advertisers drove its progress in the first place. But then film and TV asked for data, and that was huge. It was kind of hilarious, because with the first test group we did, we discovered that this one very highly paid actress was actually being avoided by most eyes. She would come onscreen and the eyes – seventy-seven per cent of them – would dart away like she was an infection. You can be sure that data affected her future salary negotiations.”

Delaney smiled, then thought she should be more emphatic in her approval of his joke. “Ha!” she said.

“So apply the same idea to any movie or show. Where does the eye really gravitate to?” Explosions, breasts, abs – this was obvious enough. But it gets more subtle. Certain clothing tested high, certain cities, décor, facial expressions, animals, children. If you knew what I knew, you’d know how seriously it’s already affected filmmaking. By any chance have you noticed a pretty dramatic increase in the number of toddlers and medium-sized dogs in contemporary film?”

“I have!” Delaney lied.

Eric nodded. “And fewer heavy people. Fewer romantic scenes between people over 65. Fewer scenes in Baltimore and the Middle East. That’s the easy stuff, to be honest.”

Soon enough, Eye Tracking Technology takes off in a big way…

The global debate about the ethics of eye tracking, which began that afternoon, was vigorous, but anyone hoping to hold back the advent of ETR was proven a fool. The unexamined glee with which it was embraced followed a familiar pattern. First hobbyist explored its limits, producing results both innocuous (which parent does your baby prefer?) and terrifying (which parent does your teenager prefer?). Heedless capitalists leaped in, apps and related products proliferating, enabling anyone with a self-cam to determine where the eyes of any other humans around them were landing. The software and hardware necessary had been built into Every phones for years; it was only a matter of activating it.

Over the next few weeks, it became clear that because half of humanity’s iris scans had already been stored, their owners could be singled out in seconds. If a man ogled a woman at a New Jersey dog park, those eyes could instantly be paired with the offender’s name, and his family, employers, and the public would be duly notified of the transgression. A new wave of suicides ensued, the embarrassment and discredit being too much for certain called-out persons, mostly men. In the first week, one hundred and seven humans in Tokyo took their lives, thirty-one of them by throwing themselves in front of trains, the scene of their eyeshame. Tens of thousands followed elsewhere on earth, and a few hundred, nicknamed Oedipals, chose a middle path – they gouged out their eyes.

Whatever the name for the offenders, eyeshame was the term that stuck to the crime. The Every resisted it, tried to push ocular offence, but eyeshame was more direct and descriptive. It was not strictly speaking a crime, of course; no laws prevented anyone from looking where they shouldn’t. But shame ensued, and shame was deserved, and shame was the internet’s currency and lever for change. As ETR spread without resistance among the vast majority of the species, there were occasionally calls to ban it. But like most innovations in the twenty-first century, the spread was caterwauling, without organisation or caution, and thus unstoppable.

The latest changes to 6Music have me convinced they want me to switch off completely. It's been reported as another nail in the coffin of guitar music, and I can't say I disagree. Apparently The Bug Club are also up in arms about it. Who'll play songs like this on the radio anymore (other than Mickey and the wonderful Natasha)?

Wednesday 26 April 2023

TV On The Radio #6: Inspector Morse

I've been watching Inspector Morse again recently. I was always a big fan back in the day, both of the John Thaw / Kevin Whately double act of Morse and Lewis, and of Colin Dexter's clever novels with a melancholic tone. I've never watched either the sequel show, Lewis, or the prequel, Endeavour... but I may give them a go once I recover from the trauma of the final episode.

I've written before about how watching old TV shows, like listening to old music, is providing me a lot of comfort lately. An escape from the horrors of the modern world. And Morse definitely fits that bill. In one episode I watched recently, Lewis is horrified when he orders a couple of pints and gets charged £2! 

The show's theme tune, written by Barrington Pheloung, spelled out the character's surname using Morse code. While never a chart hit, it did shift a fair few soundtrack albums back in the late 80s...

Here are some songs that mention the Inspector, starting with Paul and Jacqui... and a video that features Brookside's Ron & Bev Dixon, TV fans!

Like chewing gum that's stuck to sole of shoe
Like cotton wool and tube of superglue
Inspector Morse or Sherlock Holmes to clue
You and me were meant to be together

Another duo, Patrick & Eugene, have drawn comparison to both Monty Python and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. This is how they spend their Saturday nights...

I don't have to go out drinking, could stay in of course
Feet up on the sofa, and watch Inspector Morse

Next, a Scottish punk band who have been cussing up a storm since 1981. Fair to say they don't think that TV cops are true representations of the UK police force...

Meanwhile, I'm not sure which TV show Strategic Plan are watching, but they wish it was as good as Inspector Morse...

This isn't Maigret or Inspector Morse
In fact it's more like Clouseau, without the jokes of course
Poirot and Miss Marple would have solved it all by now
But these cops haven't got a clue and they're still running round

For the kids (well, the kids 10 years ago), here's Skepta with his best chat-up line...

This ain't the drink talkin' here
But ever since I walked in here 
I've been investigating you like Inspector Morse in here

And finally, the wonderful Grace Petrie, with another song Billy Bragg wishes he'd written...

Another day of keeping up this pretence 
Well, honey, it don't make any sense 
'Cause you don't have to be Inspector Morse 
To see that you and me, honey, we're flogging a dead horse

A pound a pint, Lewis!? That's definitely a crime!

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Namesakes #31: The Saints

Who's your favourite Saint? George Sanders, Roger Moore, Ian Ogilvy or Val Kilmer?

Or... maybe it's one of this bunch. There's certainly plenty of Saints to choose from. Be warned though... there are so many, you'll need the patience of a saint to listen to them all!


Our first Saints came marching into Chicago in 1957 with the story of a young lass who had no idea that at some point in her future she'd find it hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed.

Special mention to the b-side, Sun Tan Legs... they don't write 'em like that anymore.


More rock n roll from 1957, written by Jimmy Duncan who also penned hits for Bobby Helms, Ricky Nelson and Fabian.


Doo wop from the late 50s. That's all I know. Doo wop's always worth a listen though.


Next we go to Denver, Colorado in the very early 60s for some saxy rock n roll...


In 1961, a gentleman called Ken Howell also put together a group of Saints on a record label called America's Best Sellers... not quite sure they lived up to the name.


Meanwhile in New Zealand, 1962 brought us this, presumably influenced by the Hitchcock movie from a couple of years earlier. The b-side was called Scotland Yard, but sadly I can't find that.


A Joe Meek house band featuring the former bassist from The Tornados. They would go on to become the backing band for Heinz... but here they are on their own in 1963.


Aussie surf rockers from 1964 who were also quite into skiing. They released a whole LP of surf/ski rock tunes, but this is about the only tune I can find from them...


From 1966, on the Gay Feet record label, some laid back reggae (sounds more like doo wop to me) from a band that may or may not have been led by one Leroy Cuthbert. Research only goes so far on this blog.


Also in 1966, some Saints arrived from Athens. Not the one in Georgia. The band included Γιάννης Γαρδέλης on vocals, Γιάννης Αγαπητός on bass, Γιώργος Χατζηδάκης on drums, and two guitar players, Δημήτρης Παπαδόπουλος and  Θανάσης Βαγενάς. This was their only release.


Then in 1967, these guys arrived from the Bronx. They released one record of glorious garage-psych, then presumably went back to their day jobs...


Also in 1967, and coming to you live from their garage in Chicago... though a bit quieter than most garage bands of the time. I think their mum was asleep upstairs.


Classy LA soul from 1968...


1969. Saints from Singapore...


Aussie rockers who formed in 1973 and were considered one of the first punk bands outside the US and the UK. Their debut single was released in '76, ahead of the bigger names that would soon follow. Still in the go as recently as last year.


Think Christian rock is bad? Imagine Christian hip hop! This is what it sounded like in 1997...

I'm going to stop there as I doubt you made it past the first three. There were loads more listed on discogs though... made me wonder if this is the most popular band name ever used. It probably helps that none of them made it particularly big. 

I promise there will be less choices next week...

Monday 24 April 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #83: Gina Lollobrigida

Somehow, I missed the announcement of Gina Lollobrigida's death earlier this year, otherwise she would have featured here sooner. 

Actress, model, photojournalist, artist and politician... was there anything Gina Lollobrigida couldn't do? Well, she wasn't afraid of Howard Hughes, for a start, and in 2013 she sold her extensive jewellery collection and gave the money (five million dollars) to stem cell research. She starred alongside Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Rock Hudson, David Niven, Telly Sevalas and Bob Hope. And she was definitely the best Esmerelda. When acting slowed down, she switched to journalism and managed to grab an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro. And then she was in Falcon Crest! What's not to love about Lollobrigida? Well, perhaps it's not the easiest name to fit into a pop song. Though you might be surprised...

There are many Italian songs that sing Gina's praises, but my translator is on the fritz, so here are the English language lyrical references I dug up, starting with the ever-reliable Dan Bern...

Venus and Serena came in here
Gina Lollobrigida too
Pink was back in the backroom
Lookin' for you
You and me, we could get on
Probably with nothing at all

Blossom Dearie sounds like she should be a character in Last of the Summer Wine or Coronation Street. But she's much classier than that...

I'm quite a fan of Lena
Close to Katrina
Very fond of Gina Lollobrigida, too
And as for Pasadena
Everybody there's an old shoe
But anyone can see my new celebrity is you

Here's a Canadian band who were never on Rough Trade...

Mondo Italiano La Dolce Vita
Lollobrigada and Lolita

And here's a band called Birth Control who were probably very effective, because if you played their records to your lover... you weren't getting any that night.

Lola Paloza's coming
On time lolling Lollabrigida
Dinky hips, great big brown eyes
Domino, a canvas Casanova

But which titular mention of Gina Lollobrigida was first to spring to mind when I heard about her passing? Was it these guys...?

Never before did it seem what it used to seem
I'm packaged right like Gina Lollobrigida


Was it... this dude?

Surprisingly not.

Was it anything to do with the Croation electro-clash band who named themselves after Gina?

Of course not.

It was David Gedge, wasn't it? In his part-time, holiday job...

Sunday 23 April 2023

Snapshots #289: A Top Ten Loud Songs

Yesterday's post started with James Hetfield from Metallica. Today, because I couldn't find any pictures of Lemmy or the dudes from Megadeth taking a photo, here's Ozzy.

And here are ten LOUD songs... sort of. 

10. Joel makes a good impression... but he's not a footballer.

Billy Joel combines with the impressionist Rory Bremner to give the name of a Scottish footballer. And the former Rockpile member (also Scottish) responsible for this 1981 classic...

Billy Bremner - Loud Music In Cars

9. Collected names.

Didn't you ever collect autographs?

Autograph - Loud And Clear

8. Dave & Roger bought a small-holding...

...and they became The Beat Farmers.

The Beat Farmers - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)

7. Find the answer in the internet: go to yahoo.

Find the answer in the internet: go TO YAHoo.

Toyah - Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard)

6. Spider-Man spins like crazy.

Webb Wilder - Loud Music

5. Holey guitarist relocates to the North West.

The guitarist in Hole is Melissa Auf der Maur. Manchester is in the North West.

Melissa Manchester - Don't Cry Out Loud

I would have gone with the Elkie Brooks version, except Elkie featured here a couple of weeks back... and she never sang the song with The Muppets.

4. Unlike every other one that features on these pages, these guys were the definite article.

Lots of bands appear here, but these guys are THE Band.

The Band - Thinkin' Out Loud

3. Get Mrs A New Job sorted out.

"Mrs A New Job" is an anagram.

James Brown - Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud (Pts.1 & 2)

2. Shifting the string section after midnight is always a problem.

Hard work, moving the orchestra around in the dark.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Talking Loud And Clear

1. Come see me at six, say hello after dinner. It's all inside.

Come see ME AT six, say helLO AFter dinner. 

Meat Loaf - For Crying Out Loud

More next Saturday, though probably a little quieter...

Saturday 22 April 2023

Saturday Snapshots #289

This is James Hetfield of Metallica. He is the One chosen to welcome you to Saturday Snapshots this week. If he met you at the door, he'd probably say "Enter, Sandman". Sad But True. And here, because I never tire of it, is James singing with his other band.

Now figure out who the rest of these people are... and what connects their songs.

10. Joel makes a good impression... but he's not a footballer.

9. Collected names.

8. Dave & Roger bought a small-holding...

7. Find the answer in the internet: go to yahoo.

6. Spider-Man spins like crazy.

5. Holey guitarist relocates to the North West.

4. Unlike every other one that features on these pages, these guys were the definite article.

3. Get Mrs A New Job sorted out.

2. Shifting the string section after midnight is always a problem.

1. Come see me at six, say hello after dinner. It's all inside.

Work out the answers before tomorrow morning. Nothing Else Matters.

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