Thursday 31 August 2023

Product Placement #20: HP Sauce

I was in the local shop the other day, and the proprietor was bemoaning the state of the economy. A tin of beans which cost 29p when he first opened now costs £1.55. And he ordered a new crate of HP Sauce yesterday and the price had gone up by £12!

What can we do?

Well, all I can do is look for songs that mention "the original brown sauce", which is ironically named after the House of Parliament, those same bastards who got us into this mess. 

HP Sauce is sold throughout Europe... which makes me wonder if sales suffered after we deserted the EU. Here's the late Arno Hintjens, lead singer of Belgian rock band TC Matic...

I'm like meat and potatoes
Eggs and bacon, fish and chips
Rock'n'roll, H.P. Sauce
I feel like Pinocchio with broken strings
Heaven is higher than the tree
I saw myself on MTV

Arno - I Sold My Soul On MTV

Somewhat further into Europe, we find Austrian punk Hans Platzgumer, who shares his initials with the famous brown sauce, and so named his 1989 EP A Portion Of Geniune HP Sauce...

Hans Platzgumer - HP

Back in Blighty, The Ravengers were a 90s punk band that released a couple of records on West Sussex-based Detour Records. That's as much as I could find out about them, but their solo album did contain a self-composed jingle promoting HP sauce with the line "He likes a bit on the side..."

The Ravengers - HP Fruity Sauce (Jingle)

Finally, here's Gilbert O'Sullivan, with a b-side that displays some rather old-fashioned notions (Gilbert's quite shocked by the idea of two men getting married), but then... it was 1977.

And I've seen some how can I put this
Funny things in my life
Like the time a woman said sorry to a man
She stabbed with a knife
And in view of all of this nonsense
I think it's only fair
To point out that despite its faults
England still has HP sauce

I don't want to live forever
I just want to live as long as I can

Gilbert O'Sullivan - As Long As I Can

Not the best crop today, I'll admit. I'd almost given up on finding a worthy final tune. And then I heard this...

...which leads us neatly to a 70's classic, albeit another one that hasn't stood the test of time lyrically. Remember, kids, drinking and driving is wrong.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #101: Perfect Youth

Young people, eh? Who'd be one? Not in this day and age, that's for sure. One thing I can say about them though... they probably have more inspiration than I do right now. I mean, after 100 posts about middle-aged ennui, what's left to say?

Here's a song about the perfection of youth by a Canadian New Wave band called Pointed Sticks. What can I tell you about them? They got together in 1978, named their band after a line in a Monty Python sketch, released one album (this is the title track) on Stiff Records in 1980, split up the following year, got back together in the noughties, releasing a second album 28 years after the first. And they're still in the go. Because that's the law now. 

Even when they were youngsters though, Pointed Sticks realised that the perfection of youth was a fleeting thing...

Here comes the latest crowd
Oh, they're the kids with common view
They always look just so, they make you feel so old
Emotions running out of control
They have to act on intuition
And live fast for just one night and forget about tomorrow

I used to be just like them
It's the air of confidence
Of course the styles have changed since my day about two weeks ago
But no, I don't feel bitter
This is what must happen
I'll live with the realization while they fulfill their obligations

And I think that's perfect (perfect youth)
It only happens when you're young (perfect youth)
And if you're perfect (perfect youth)
There isn't any right or wrong (perfect youth)

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Namesakes #48: The Proclaimers

Another week, another bunch of bands that share the same name, although this is one of those editions I consider a bit of an open and shut case. Still, it's good to check out the competition. As you might imagine with a name like "The Proclaimers", a certain amount of religious content is involved... but I tried to pick the ones that were worthy of consideration.


The Welsh Proclaimers! Excellent stuff from 1965... get on board The Gospel Train!


The Australian Proclaimers! Formed in 1966, they did more than 700 live shows over a 40 year career, originally led by Aussie opera singer Jonathan Summers...


The Californian Proclaimers! Their own release (as far as discogs is concerned), from 1984 on a Ministry Resource Centre compilation. Despite the title, it's less god-bothering than our earlier entries...


The obvious Proclaimers! It's those lads from Auchtermuchty again. 

Rather than the big hits, I chose a more recent favourite. Social commentary as well as great pop tunes!

Which Proclaimers would you stop to listen to in the street?

Monday 28 August 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #105: Agatha Christie

We've had her under surveillance since the beginning of the 20th Century. She's implicated in all manner of crimes, including being the best-selling fiction-writer of all time, writing over 80 books, and being responsible for the world's longest running stage play. But what evidence could we find to help convict her?

Let's look at the witness statements, starting with a Knight of the Realm...

Oh, in her two pound coat
She really thinks she's cloaked in mystery
She's actin' like some character from Agatha Christie
I got a pain in my shoes and all I wanna do is dance

Ah, so it appears we can rhyme Christie with Mystery. Can any other witnesses back that up?

It's not a mystery, Agatha Christie

And there's more where he came from...

I never wanted to be 
A man of mystery
My life's an open book
by James Joyce and Agatha Christie 

Jimmy Buffet - If It All Falls Down

Not sure that particular beach bum is a trusty source. Here's someone a little more trustworthy...

In my parallel life I could solve this mystery
Like Agatha Christie I'd have a clue

Alice Peacock - Parallel Life

Now who let this bunch of reprobates into the court room?

We can stand naked on the corner of Main Street, baby, and
Let everybody slow down and take a look
You can drive your Cadillac to the library, baby, and maybe read the
Last ten pages of an Agatha Christie book
You can feed my cat to my dog
And turn around and feed my dog to my horse
You can screw the whole damn royal family, baby, until they
All get a divorce

The Dead Milkmen - The Blues Song

Clearly there are a lot of questions surrounding our suspect today. For example...

Life and Agatha Christie in a Trailway back from New Orleans
Who dunnit, who carried you?

Malcolm Holcombe - Who Carried You?

And more importantly...

The CIA?
The KGB?
Agatha Christie?
Whodunnit? Whodunnit? Whodunnit?

Glaxo Babies - Who Killed Bruce Lee?

In truth, they're queuing up to testify in this case, for both the defence and the prosecution...

Steve Hackett - Carry On Up The Vicarage (A Musical Tribute To Agatha Christie)

The Devil - Agatha Christie

(Proof, if proof be needed, that he doesn't have all the best tunes.)

Negative Nancies - Agatha Christie

The Deep Freeze Mice - Reading An Agatha Christie

...although I'm not sure I'd trust any of that lot.

Thank heavens then for a reliable witness in the shape of our old friends, The Lucksmiths...

I love her but she loves Agatha Christie
And she's so wrapped up in the English Murder Mystery
I was nowhere near the scene of the crime
I was nowhere around at the time
Someone dropped arsenic in Mr Robinson's wine
Getting angry doesn't suit her
Says her English Literature tutor

Case closed.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Snapshots #307: A Top Ten Songs Named After Boats

All aboard!

Ten songs with boat names in the title...

10. Known for spreading their seed.

Jethro Tull invented the seed drill.

9. Plucked from the Ashes.

That's Charlotte Hatherley, former guitarist in Ash...

The Dawn Treader is a boat in CS Lewis's Narnia novels. 

8. Hallyday Hears A Who.

Johnny Hallyday + Horton Hears A Who...

7. From the harbour, through the turnstiles, onto the bridge.

Coldspring Harbour, Turnstiles & The Bridge are all albums by...

6. Kisses on the Liffey.

The Pogues are Irish kisses; the Liffey is in Dublin.

I never get tired of watching a young Shane McGowan perform.

5. Churchwarden very angry inside bathroom. 

Inside "Churchwarden very angry" you will find den-ver. The John is the bathroom.

4. Copacabana, Bathsheba or Omaha, lads? 

They're all beaches, boys.

3. Cornershop.

2. I forgot old thong.


1. This is the day of the expanding man.

That's the opening line of Deacon Blues by Steely Dan

Set sail for more Snapshots next Saturday...

Saturday 26 August 2023

Saturday Snapshots #307

I was away. Then I came back. At no point did my holiday resemble the picture above though.

Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis survived a lot and still kept her cool.

Can you survive today's quiz and keep yours?

Identify the ten popular musicians below and work out what connects their songs...

10. Known for spreading their seed.

9. Plucked from the Ashes.

8. Hallyday Hears A Who.

7. From the harbour, through the turnstiles, onto the bridge.

6. Kisses on the Liffey.

5. Churchwarden very angry inside bathroom. 

4. Copacabana, Bathsheba or Omaha, lads? 

3. Cornershop.

2. I forgot old thong.

1. This is the day of the expanding man.

Be the First Lady (or man) back here tomorrow morning for a full rundown of the answers...

Monday 21 August 2023

Monday's Long Song: Wee Gee

The Long Song Monday theme crops up on a number of blogs I read, most frequently over at Swiss Adam's place (though I think it was Drew who started it). I haven't contributed in a good few years, mainly to spare you all too much Jim Steinman. Recently though, I came across something really quite lovely and it's been on recurrent play here, despite its 10+ minute running time.

William Franklin Howard II - or Wee Gee to his mates - was a member of Detroit soul group The Dramatics in the 70s and late 80s. He also released a number of solo records, most notably the 1980 album Hold On (To Your Dreams). I've become rather enamoured with this album lately... particularly that long title track. It was released as a single, but there's no radio edit I can find. The choral refrain reminds me of something else, but I'll be darned if I can put my finger on what. Maybe you recognise it...

Monday's Long Song will have to last all week, I'm afraid as it's family holiday time. I'll be back in time for Snapshots on Saturday.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Snapshots #306: A Top Ten Romeo Songs (Without Juliet)

This is Romeo Beckham.

I know. I also despair.

Here are ten far more interesting Romeos... all yet to find (or having already lost) their Juliet.

10. Going underground with Johnson & White.

Jack Johnson & Jack White are in the basement.

Basement Jaxx - Romeo

9. Eric's pal goes Greene.

Eric's pal was Ernie. Graham was Greene.

Ernie Graham - Romeo & The Lonely Girl

8. Not Billy Joel's kind of girl.

She preferred downtown.

Petula Clark - Romeo

7. Help you see in the rain. 

The Wipers - Romeo

That's great.

6. IT Jobs, dedicated to Mr. Reynolds.

Steve Jobs was in IT. The dedication was "for Burt".

Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune

5. I was Mott.


Tom Waits - Romeo Is Bleeding

4. Crime boss.

Mr. Big - Romeo

3. Russian ballet dancers.

The Bolshoi - Romeo In Clover

2. Do Not Disturb.

Sleeper - Romeo Me

1. TV Channel... and the Chipmunks.

Dave was the channel. Alvin goes with the Chipmunks.

Dave Alvin - Romeo's Escape

But soft - what lie through yonder window breaks? It is next Saturday, and the Snapshots will be back...

Saturday 19 August 2023

Saturday Snapshots #306

James Cameron recently admitted that Jack in Titanic might have lived if he hadn't sacrificed himself to save Rose. But there's a lot of variables, and we'll probably never know the answer.

Hopefully by the end of today, we will know the answers to who the heck is in the 10 pictures below and what their songs have in common. So please don't sacrifice yourself... it's only a game.

10. Going underground with Johnson & White.

9. Eric's pal goes Greene.

8. Not Billy Joel's kind of girl.

7. Help you see in the rain. 

6. IT Jobs, dedicated to Mr. Reynolds.

5. I was Mott.

4. Crime boss.

3. Russian ballet dancers.

2. Do Not Disturb.

1. TV Channel... and the Chipmunks.

And if you haven't identified them all yet... just hang on till tomorrow morning!

Friday 18 August 2023

Memory Mixtape #24: A Telephone Call From My Childhood

Oh, oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight

I've been re-reading The Shining by Stephen King recently. Two reasons for this. One, the last couple of modern novels I've read have left me underwhelmed and frustrated. Two, Louise keeps saying, "you have all these old books on the shelves that you never read," and I needed a little more evidence to back up my claims that, "I'll read them again someday". Otherwise: charity shop.

Anyway, I like reading books set in the world of my childhood. A pre-internet, pre-covid, pre-modern day bullshit world... simpler times. The Shining was first published in 1977, when I was 5, a world where a telephone in your home was apparently something of a luxury...

Wendy had insisted on a phone in spite of their unraveling finances. She had argued that with a small child - especially a boy like Danny, who sometimes suffered from fainting spells - they couldn't afford not to have one. So Jack had forked over the thirty-dollar installation fee, bad enough, and a ninety-dollar security deposit, which really hurt. And so far the phone had been mute, except for two wrong numbers.

I'm not sure when my parents got their first telephone installed, but it was there on the wall between the kitchen and the living room throughout my childhood. I remember standing there, when I could reach it, and rotary dialling the numbers... then waiting for a friend's mum to answer. "Hi Mrs. Brook. Is Liam in? Can he come to the phone?"

Of course, the alternative was the good old-fashioned phone box, recently celebrated in John's August Photo Challenge.

Now he dialed the operator and she told him that for a dollar eighty-five he could be put in touch with Al two thousand miles away for three minutes. Time is relative, baby, he thought, and stuck in eight quarters. Faintly he could hear the electronic boops and beeps of his connection sniffling its way eastward.

We take so much for granted these days. A lot of people don't even bother with a home phone anymore, and to be honest, the only time I take a call on ours is when Louise has taken Sam out and she's calling to tell me to put the tea on.

I remember explaining to a bunch of phone-addicted students a few years back that we never even had mobiles when I was a kid. A look of genuine panic crept over their faces.

"But what if you were at school and your mum needed to speak to you urgently?"

"Well, I guess she'd call the school office and someone would come down to pass a message on," I replied... but I couldn't think of any occasion when such a thing had been necessary. Nothing was so urgent that it couldn't wait a few hours back then.

"Or what about if you were meeting up with some mates in town?"

"Well, you'd arrange a time and a place and..."

"But what if they were late?"

"Then you'd wait. And if they still didn't show up, I guess you'd go home and call them later."

Here are some more songs about the telephones of our youth...

Billy Fury - Phone Call

Eddie & The Hotrods - Strangers On The Payphone

Foreigner - Love On The Telephone

If you still want more, there's another great mix of Telephone Tunes over at The Dude's Place this month.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...