Saturday 30 September 2023

Saturday Snapshots #312

Let's be Frank... sometimes you feel like a bit of a Munster on a Saturday morning, so I really appreciate you dragging yourself to your phone or computer screen to stare at these ten photographs, identify the artists, and work out what might connect their songs. Herman does too.

10. Shot in Sarajevo. 

9. You're on your own in court.

8. Clocking off time.

7. What time is it, Mr. McGoohan?

6. Found confused in a nerd alley.

5. A wee insect.

4. This is a fiery Topic.

3. Stars of the small screen.

2. Ask Rik when he's got himself back together.

1. Hedge and Thicket.

Answers tomorrow morning.

Friday 29 September 2023

Product Placement #22: Jelly Babies

In case you've just arrived from another planet, iffypedia tells us that, "Jelly Babies are a type of soft sugar jelly sweets in the shape of plump babies, sold in a variety of colours." Something about the use of the phrase "plump babies" in that sentence makes me consider Jelly Babies in a far more sinister light than I ever have. If you have just arrived from another planet, please note that we do not eat human babies, no matter how plump and tasty they might look.

To make matters worse, Jelly Babies were originally called "Unclaimed Babies". I'd like to reiterate... we do not eat human babies, claimed or unclaimed.

Jelly Babies were a big favourite of Tom Baker's Doctor Who...

When Beatles fans found out that George Harrison liked the odd Jelly Baby, they started chucking them at the band. But they didn't have Jelly Babies in the USA, so when the band went over there, people chucked Jelly Beans at them instead. Which were a lot harder.

George Harrison on Jelly Beans.

Even more dangerous is the popular school science experiment, The Screaming Jelly Baby. Luckily nobody ever chucked one of those at The Beatles.

There were a couple of bands named after Jelly Babies, but I could only find music by one of them...

The Jelly Babies - The Pleasure Of Her Company

Beyond those guys, who else likes their Jelly Babies in the world of pop...?

Let's start with a classy B-side from Hot Chip...

You're choosing something sweet, you chew on something sweet
A fleshy rubber made of me
A packet does contain a beautiful refrain
Least when the two of you stand free

Hot Chip - Jelly Babies

1982 was a great year for music. And then there was Johnny Demestos...

Johnny Demestos – Leave My Jelly Babies Alone

Did you know that Barbra Streisand once sang a song about Jelly Babies?

OK, that's not strictly the truth. However, once you've read the lyrics below, you might wish that was what the song was about...

Like Guava Jelly 
Baby, here I am,
Come rub it on my belly 
Like Guava Jelly 

Barbra Streisand - Guava Jelly

I always thought Babs was such a sweet young thing. Like butter wouldn't melt. Then I saw the cover of the album that came from...

 ...which has surely got to be one of the worst album covers ever. You call your album ButterFly, and that's the image you decide to go with, Babs? 

I subsequently learned that the album was solely produced by her then-boyfriend, Jon Peters... so I'm guessing clear heads might not have been involved in the cover selection process.

Guava Jelly was originally recorded by Bob Marley. And somehow, his version seems a lot less sordid...

Bob Marley - Guava Jelly

But I've gone off on a tangent as I'm pretty sure neither Bob nor Babs were thinking about Jelly Babies when they sang that song (although the white powder the sweets are often covered in might have been of interest to Jon Peters).

Here's a whole shop full of sweets, including Jelly Babies, Rhubarb & Custard and a quarter of Sherbet Lemons...

Eddie's Brother - Sweet Shop

But today's best tune comes from Ipswich punks The Adicts (originally known as Afterbirth, until wiser minds prevailed), from their 1985 album, Smart Alex. If only because it includes the lyrical couplet below...

Why do you have to be such a party-pooper?
You wouldn't even dance to Alice Cooper!

They don't write 'em like that anymore.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Neverending Top Ten #6.4: Modern Songs

What are you doing at the party, Sam?


Yeah? What are you going to sing?

Some of my favourite songs that are modern and you won't know.

Huh. You want modern songs? I'll give you modern songs, son. Look, I made you a CD!

The Jam - The Modern World

The News - Modern Toys

Boomtown Rats - She's So Modern

The Strokes - The Modern Age

Crashland - Modern Animal

Meat Loaf - Modern Girl

Idlewild - A Modern Way Of Letting Go

Neil Diamond -A Modern Day Version Of Love

Ben Kyle & Romantica - How to Live in a Modern World

Art Brut - Modern Art

Terry, Blair & Anouchka - Ultra Modern Nursery Rhyme

Sleeper - The Modern Age

The Crooks - Modern Boys

Be Bop Deluxe - Modern Music

Jesse Malin - In The Modern World

Sondre Lerche - Modern Nature

Generation X - Modern Boys

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Method of Modern Love

Charm School – Excerpts from the Modern Song

The Humdrum Express - The Curse Of The Modern Musician

Belle and Sebastian - This Is Just A Modern Rock Song

David Bowie - Modern Love

Beck - Modern Guilt

The Mekons - Ancient & Modern

Lou Reed - Modern Dance

Jefferson Starship - Modern Times

The Courteeners - Modern Love

Billy Joel - Modern Woman

Bloc Party - This Modern Love

Actually, wait, seriously... here's a song that was only released last week. You don't get more modern than that, do you?

Bleachers are from New Jersey. They're the brainchild of guitarist and producer Jack Antanoff, who used to be in Fun. They have featured here before, but this is their latest single, and it's pretty damned good for a modern pop song... even though it does harken back to the 70s and 80s, like most of their stuff.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #108: David McCallum

It's not so long since I covered The Man From U.N.C.L.E. here, and for most that would serve as a fitting tribute to the actor David McCallum, who died, aged 90, earlier this week. Particularly as I couldn't find any songs that mentioned him by name. Although any excuse to play this again...

And this...

Growing up when I did, my first encounter with David McCallum came not through U.N.C.L.E., but through his starring role alongside Joanna Lumley in Sapphire & Steel, surely one of the weirdest TV shows of the late 70s and early 80s.

All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.

So went the intro to the show... and that was about as much explanation as writer PJ Hammond ever gave to his characters. Basically, Sapphire and Steel were some kind of time agents who turned up and solved weird, spooky sci-fi-related mysteries. Were they human? Were they aliens? Were they ghosts? Who could say? But I found it gripping as a kid... especially the episode set in an abandoned railway station, the plot of which remains with me to this day, despite the show having never been repeated. (It's available on Britbox / ITVX though, and I keep meaning to rewatch it.)

Sadly, I couldn't find any pop songs that mentioned this wonderful series, but then I remembered another David McCallum show I watched as a kid... one that predated even Sapphire & Steel. It only lasted one series... but there are quite a few songs named after it (or at least, the HG Wells novel it was based on). So I'm going with those today. It was that or I started looking for songs that mention NCIS, a show which gave him a resurgence in popularity in his later years, and one which my dad watched regularly. Rest in peace, David, you were anything but The Invisible Man...


(That one from the new HF album, their first in 7 years. Pretty good it is, too.)

(I love Queen, but that has got to be their worst video ever.)

That's ten for you right there. But my hands down favourite Invisible Man song is this one... Elvis at his best.

But if stars are only painted on the ceiling above
Then who can you turn to and who do you love?
I want to get out while I still can
I want to be like Harry Houdini
Now I'm the Invisible Man

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Namesakes #52: The Aliens

This week we're going to have some close encounters... but which will you want to get closest to? Bring on the Aliens...


In 1966, musical Aliens were first sighted hiding in the garages of Norfolk, Virginia...


Prog-rockers spotted somewhere in the skies around UK UFO hotspot, Wokingham in 1978. I listened to far more of this than I expected to...


Aussie Aliens who beamed down 3 power-poppy singles and an album back around 1980. These days, they'd be arrested for stalking...

(That said, I was most disappointed to not find audio for the 1975 barbershop Aliens with their song 'Why Do They Always Say No, When There's Yes, Yes In Their Eyes?'. Different times, etc. etc.)


Also in 1980, these Aliens were invading discos all across Italy...


Also in 1980, Kenny Everett's space hero Captain Kremmen released his own movie. The 20 minute script was written by Barry Cryer, and this was on the soundtrack...


Also known as The Aliens That Ate Hollywood, this is Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, mucking about with his mates on The Desert Sessions.


Following the implosion of the Beta Band, Gordon 'Lone Pigeon' Anderson, John Maclean and Robin Jones got themselves a second hand UFO from a man down the market in Fife and formed The Aliens. They almost crash landed into the lower reaches of the album chart with their debut long player...


Aliens Under New York! This underground punk band released one album in 2007 before the Men In Black presumably caught up with them.

When I was a kid, I used to play a computer game called Alien 8. It was pretty cool.


Also known as The Aliens UK, here's some music that actually sounds to me like it could have come from an alien spaceship. Via Peckham. 

The truth is out there! Indisputable proof of alien life! But which one will you be taking to your leader... and which would you prefer for the US air force to blast them out of the sky?

Monday 25 September 2023

Self-Help For Cynics #5: The Glass Half Empty

Keith Gattis - Half Empty

If ever anyone calls me a "glass half empty kind of guy", I usually respond that the glass has been dry for years and is currently shattered into a million pieces that lacerate my feet whenever I cross the kitchen floor. 

Nick Lowe - I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass

Being a grumpy old git, and playing on it, has been my default setting since I was a teenager. It usually raises a laugh, and then I get the social validation that comes from people reacting in a positive way to something I've said. Don't look at me like that, we all know that's how it works - you get a smile or a laugh from a friend, a colleague, or even a total stranger, and you get that little dopamine hit that keeps you going. 

Little Man Tate - Half Empty Glass

But as part of my Cynical Self-Help Programme, I'm challenging everything now. And I've started to wonder if playing this part all these years has been a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Well, d'oh. 

My mental state is all a-jumble
I sit around and sadly mumble
Fools rush in, so here I am
Very glad to be unhappy
I can't win, but here I am
More than glad to be unhappy

Frank Sinatra - Glad To Be Unhappy

The question is, can I still get the same response from others by being a happy person? I mean, as we all know, there's nothing more annoying than... well...

REM - Shiny Happy People 

When I started this series, I toyed with the idea of calling it Positive Thinking For Negative Bastards. How do you turn that frown upside down... without being the kind of person who says things like "Turn that frown upside down"? Because you know how annoying those people are.

I'm sorry for all of my insecurities, but they're just a part of me
"Envy is thin because it bites but never eats"
That's what a nice old Spanish lady once told me
"Hey Debbie-Downer, turn that frown upside down and just be happy"

Courtney Barnett - Debbie Downer

Part of the answer is not to preach. 

But what are you doing here right now, yiu hypocrite? 

Oh look, there's the voice of my intrusive thoughts again. I'm going to call him Ian. Ian Trusive. I think it's important we acknowledge him when he has something to say. 

Patronising git. Isn't the very act of blogging about this subject preachy? Come read Rol's great sermon on how to be a better man? 

Nick Lowe - A Better Man

"Oh woe is me, and just listen to how smug and sanctimonious I am about it..." 

Maybe so, Ian. But I'm not writing this series for anybody other than myself. It's nice if people do read and occasionally leave a comment (all hail the dopamine hits!), but that's not why I'm writing it.

At the end of his album Peace Queer, Todd Snider talks about how some people have accused him of getting more and more opinionated in his songs. He replies with a line I'm going to steal, because it perfectly sums up this series...

I did not do this to change your mind about anything
I did this to ease my own mind about everything 

Todd Snider - Ponce Of The Flaming Peace Queer

Whether the glass is half empty or half full is only a matter of perception. And like a lot of the things we think, it's a matter of choice. I'm trying to choose the other path - and if Ian and his pals consider that the high road, well fair enough. I'll still be in Scotland before him...

I heard enough of the white man's blues
I've sang enough about myself
So if you're looking for some bad news
You can find it somewhere else

Last year was a son of a bitch
For nearly everyone we know
But I ain't fighting with you down in a ditch
I'll meet you up here on the road

Sunday 24 September 2023

Snapshots #311: A Top Ten Mystery Songs

I suppose you're wondering why I gathered you all here this morning. 

If it's still a mystery, allow me to explain...

10. Leg, Suit, Dream.

Wet Leg, Wet Suit, Wet Dream...

Wet Wet Wet - Sweet Little Mystery

9. Spider-Man's son?

Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Shh. It's a secret identity.

Junior Parker - Mystery Train

That's the original. Long before Elvis got his hands on it.

8. Fair Lady who likes to smooch fish.

My Fair Lady is Eliza Doolittle. If she smooches fish, she might be doing some gil kissing.

Eliza Gilkyson - Mister Mystery

7. Frank n Barry, after a punch up.

Frank Black 'n' Barry Blue get into a scrap, end up looking...

Black 'n' Blue - Miss Mystery

Video of the week. Why wasn't that a hit?

6. You'll find them in Hell or Heaven. 

Hell or Heaven. 

Hello - Little Miss Mystery

5. Two blogging pals get together in a Trojan Hymn.

John and Martin (or Martyn) get into an anagram...

John Martyn - Sweet Little Mystery

4. Humbug, baloney, twaddle.

What a load of tosh.

Peter Tosh - Mystery Babylon

3. Sounds like Paul and Randy... but not the same.

Sounds like Paul and Randy Newman, but not quite the same...

Gary Numan - We Take Mystery (To Bed)

2. Get into ya house, young lady.

Get into ya house.

Toyah - It's A Mystery

1. Is he Basil's mate or similar to a buffalo?

Basil Brush's mate was Mr. Roy. Or (a) bison?

Bono wrote this. Proof that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Roy Orbison - She's A Mystery To Me

More mysteries to be solved next Saturday...

Saturday 23 September 2023

Saturday Snapshots #311

My wife called last night and reminded me to put together this week's Saturday Snapshots. Me, I'm a bit all over the place, but Mrs. Columbo, she's got a mind like a steel trap. She'd probably work out the identity of the ten artists below in no time at all, then figure out what connects their songs... me, I'm probably going to have to give it a little more consideration.

10. Leg, Suit, Dream.

9. Spider-Man's son?

8. Fair Lady who likes to smooch fish.

7. Frank n Barry, after a punch up.

6. You'll find them in Hell or Heaven. 

5. Two blogging pals get together in a Trojan Hymn.

4. Humbug, baloney, twaddle.

3. Sounds like Paul and Randy... but not the same.

2. Get into ya house, young lady.

1. Is he Basil's mate or similar to a buffalo?

Just one more thing... I'll be back here tomorrow morning with the answers...

Friday 22 September 2023

TV On The Radio #17: Homes Under The Hammer

Homes Under The Hammer is one of many daytime TV shows (like Cash In The Attic, A Place In The Sun and The Antiques Road Trip) that I've never watched an episode of because I have a job. I think it's about auctioning houses. I'm not sure who the target audience is - my dad was a former auctioneer, and he never showed the slightest interest in it. Still, it's been going for 20 years, so someone must be watching it. And as a number of people who read this blog are now reaching retirement age, I imagine you rarely miss an episode. (I wonder if they show it in Portugal?)

You wouldn't imagine there would be many pop stars who spent their time watching Homes Under The Hammer either... except, it's well known that musicians are generally a bunch of work-shy bastards who will do anything to avoid the arduous manual labour of writing a new song. I bet most of them have never missed an episode of Countdown and are over the moon that Neighbours is coming back. Take this guy for example...

Homes Under The Hammer on TV
Midday and I have not done anything
Come first place and didn't try
Someone's saving seven lives
I can barely save Izzy's ice cream

Here's a band with the wonderfully old-fashioned name of Courting, and a song I initially thought was about the Talking Heads man's arse, until I put my glasses on...

Homes Under the Hammer, well, it blares from the bar
Until Daddy picks him up in his European sports car
"A '19 plate?" Well, he muses who made it
"Built in England," he wonders, "a Britishman's labour"

And here's Bob Mortimer, the half of Vic n Bob that I actually find funny...

Sly Stallone
Is all alone
Sly Stallone
Is in his home
He's all alone
Sly Stallone
He’s been eating
A potato

Suddenly he wakes up
And stares at the potato
Then turns on the TV
Then looks at the potato
He changes the channel
To Homes Under the Hammer
Then looks at his potato
And touches the potato

Next up, another lovely little discovery: Colonel Dax. No, not the Kirk Douglas character from Paths Of Glory, but a guy called Tom Hughes from North Wales who likes listening to The Cure.

I'm walking on the pavement across from her old house.
Whoever lives there now is watching Homes Under the Hammer on the couch.
They look like they're a pair who've found what I could never find,
But maybe that's 'cos I'm the type to peek through people's blinds.
It's funny, they're sat in the exact spot I was sitting when she kicked me out.

I had a quick look at who the presenters were on Homes Under The Hammer, and I didn't recognise any of them... except for Tommy Walsh. And the only reason I knew his name was because of Nigel Blackwell...

Finally, here's the song that inspired this post, from one of my albums of the year, The Last Rotation of Earth. From listening to this record, it's clear that Brian Camplight rarely leaves his Manchester home, and the most excitement he has in his day is chatting with the Tesco delivery driver. But he's still managed to produce a cracking record. He claims it will be his last, which would be a crying shame, but I guess those daytime TV shows won't watch themselves...

I think I figured it out, it's right in front of me
Inflation or something to do with the Tories
She asks what we're building, I said, "What do you think this is -
Homes Under The Hammer?
I'm the perfect man"

Thursday 21 September 2023

Self-Help For Cynics #4: Respect Yourself

If you're walking 'round think'n that the world owes you something 'cause you're here
You goin' out the world backwards like you did when you first come here 

If you haven't watched The Bear, you're missing the best show on TV at the moment. I don't care if you haven't got Disney+ - get the trial offer and binge-watch the first two series. Do it now. Well, after you've finished reading this post anyway. 

The Bear is about a chef who inherits the management of a busy Chicago sandwich shop after his brother commits suicide. He decides to turn it into an up-market restaurant, using the same staff who worked in the sandwich shop. It's a very tense show - it really gives you a feel for what it's like to work in a fast-paced food service environment (lots of shouting) - but it's also very funny. Lots of big name actors want to appear in it - Jamie Lee Curtis, Olivia Coleman, Will Poulter and Bob Odenkirk all pop up in Season 2 - clearly recognising the strength of the scripts. But something occurred to me while I was watching the most recent episodes... one of the show's main themes is mental health.

All the characters in The Bear are damaged in one way or another. Jeremy Allen White, who plays lead chef Carmen Berzatto, is an expert at showing inner turmoil with little more than a twitch of his brow. But the real star of the show for me is Ebon Moss-Bachrach who plays Carmy's cousin Ritchie, a character who quickly begins to feel out of his depth as his workplace transforms around him. Ritchie is full of bluster, but it masks a deep, deep insecurity. I have a lot of time for Ritchie, out of all the great characters in The Bear, he's the one I relate to the most.

I looked in the mirror, and what did I see?
A brand new image of the same old me
Oh, but now I wonder why should I be surprised
I like the things about me that I once despised

The episode that really brought this home came midway through the second series. Sensing Ritchie's disquiet, Carmy sends him to work for a week in one of the top restaurants in the country. He starts by cleaning forks, a job he thinks beneath him, but by the end of the week, he's virtually running the restaurant floor. It's never explicitly stated in the script, but what happens over the course of that episode is that Ritchie learns to respect himself, and in doing so earns the respect of his colleagues. A grumpy, middle-aged man singing along to a Taylor Swift song has never sounded so sweet... 

It's not a complete transformation: he's still Ritchie at heart. He just likes himself a little more, and finds a purpose and value in what he's doing. He commits to a change and he feels better because of it. A number of things in my life triggered this blog series, but I honestly think that this episode of The Bear was an epiphany. It made me realise I can't just sit around waiting for the world to change to make me happier. Instead, I have to change the way I see the world. If that sounds like bollocks, then yeah... I'd have thought the same thing a few months back. And maybe I still do, deep down. But I'm trying not to. And that's a start.

I've always been content to take the pieces
That I've been given
Make a mess with the results
Justify it all

Everybody's using all their breath telling everyone else
What to do with their own breath
I can't believe it, I never was the type
To worry that much about everybody else

It's okay if you fall
You stumble, you get up
That's all
Believe in yourself for a while

Why do I have low self-esteem? 

That's the million dollar question, isn't it?

The Better Health Channel tells me...

Some of the many causes of low self-esteem may include: Unhappy childhood where parents (or other significant people such as teachers) were extremely critical. Poor academic performance in school resulting in a lack of confidence. Ongoing stressful life event such as relationship breakdown or financial trouble.

But I look at those potential explanations and I can't see any that fit me. My childhood, in particular, I remember as a mostly very happy time. I grew up in a loving home and while I didn't have loads of friends, I was OK with the ones I had. There was a recurring bullying situation in my early teens which left some emotional scars, but no worse than a lot of people. So why do I have such a downer on myself? Maybe the why doesn't matter, just that I'm finally trying to do something about it.

You're not helping, Kurt.

Mind offers all kinds of tips for improving self-esteem, though they are keen to stress that "different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with."

I think I'll skip past this one...

Say positive things to yourself. Some people like to do this in front of a mirror. It can feel strange at first, but you may feel more comfortable the more you do it.

If only it was as easy as Whitney and George make it seem...

Everybody's searching for a hero;
People need someone to look up to.
I never found anyone who fulfilled my need.
A lonely place to be, and so I learned to depend on me.

I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadow.
If I fail, if I succeed.
At least I lived as I believe.
No matter what they take from me,
They can't take away my dignity.

Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

But you listen to those lyrics and you realise that the reason they find The Greatest Love Of All "easy to achieve" is because they already respect themselves. What about the rest of us?

Relationship coach Kemi Sogunle tells me... 

If you don't love yourself, you won't be happy with yourself. If you can't love yourself, you can't love anyone else. You can't make anyone love you without loving yourself first.

But where I come from, Kemi, there's nothing worse than someone who loves themselves. We call that arrogance, egomania... or being just like Kevin.

Girls try to attract his attention
But what a shame, it's in vain, total rejection
He will never be left on the shelf
'Cause Kevin, he's in love with himself

The Undertones - My Perfect Cousin

In my head, loving yourself goes hand in hand with not giving a shit about anyone else. And I've spent my whole life fighting against people like that. Or at least getting exceedingly pissed off by them.  

The Legend! - Arrogant Bastards

How then to find the right balance? Well, much as I would like someone to send me to work in a top restaurant for a week so that I can learn how to like myself, it's probably not going to happen. Mind says, "Try to avoid comparing yourself to others." So I'll put Cousin Ritchie out of my mind.

The Big Sound Authority - Be True To Yourself

I started this post with the original version of Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers. It's a fine song. A classic. But you know what? The 1987 cover version by Bruce Willis means much more to me. As I've mentioned before, it was the first 7" single I ever bought. Many people are ashamed by their first record purchase and make excuses for it, saying things like, "I was really young and I hadn't developed my musical taste..." I could say the same... but honestly, I listen to this now and it still makes me smile the way it did when I was 15. And I guess I respect myself at least enough to admit that to you.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #107: Roger Whittaker

I grew up listening to Radio 2, particularly Terry Wogan and Ray Moore, and a lot of the songs they used to play are buried deep in my memory. When I heard about Roger Whittaker's passing, all I could really think of was The Skye Boat Song and all that bloody whistling. Here he is on Top of the Pops with Des in 1986. Rock. And. Roll.

But then I had a flick through the archives and other songs started to return to me. And there are some belters...

As they all came flooding back to me, I realised that it was wrong to remember Roger just for the whistling. He had a cracking voice too.

This one seems most appropriate today...

As to his place in the Celebrity Jukebox, well you'd be surprised where Roger crops up. Here's one German rapper...

Du Nixchecker kommst mit ner großen Fresse wie Mick Jagger
Doch deine Reime kommen in die Jahre wie Roger Whittaker

Which google-translates as...

You nix-checker come with a big face like Mick Jagger
But your rhymes are getting old like Roger Whittaker

And here's another German rapper...

Hits wie Roger Whittaker, Christina Millian
Tricks so wie Philipp Lahm, bin wie P.Diddy war

Which google-translates as...

Hits like Roger Whittaker, Christina Millian
Tricks like Philipp Lahm, I'm like P. Diddy

It turns out that Roger was really big in Germany. Who knew? (Well, Ernie probably knew.) 

Fortunately, I don't have to rely solely on German rappers for this feature (although there were more where the last two came from). Here's Nigel Blackwell, doing his best Roger whistling...

And here are The Danny Boys, from 1987. Yes, they were named after a tune Roger made his own... so why not name one of their songs after him? It's even got whistling, in lieu of a chorus... 

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Namesakes #51: The Banned

This week's Namesakes are all BANNED.  

I did think of including popular homophone The Band, but that didn't seem fair on any of the acts below. Suffice it to say, I could only find one act worthy of the name (or with the gall to call themselves) The Band.

As for the Banned bands... let's lift their bans for a few moments to give them all a chance at reprieve...


We'll start with a New Jersey banned who released three singles in 1968 but never broke the big time. I found this one particularly entertaining, though apparently its bleak subject matter denied it any serious airplay, particularly as it was released just prior to Martin Luther King's assassination. Still, I can see myself adding it to a compilation or two in the future...


Paul Sordid, Pete Fresh, Rik Mansworth and John Thomas (surprisingly not their real names) were a punk band hailing from Croydon in 1977. "Today Croydon... Tomorrow Bromley!" went their slogan. I'm not sure if they ever got to Bromley, but they did appear on Top of the Pops with their sole "hit" (straight in at #36, pop pickers), a cover of a 1966 US hit by The Syndicate Of Sound...


In 1986, several young characters on the TV soap Eastenders formed a band in the show. They called themselves The Banned after being chucked out of The Queen Vic. Prominent members included Sharon and Kelvin on vocals, Wicksy looking moody, and Ian Beale on drums. Of course, they were hopeless... except not as hopeless as they might have been, since several of their members had extensive musical experience in real life from stage school. Two of their songs were inflicted upon the record buying public, Letitia Dean and Paul Medford's Something Outa Nothing, which reached #12 in the UK charts, and Nick Berry's Every Loser Wins, which won itself a Number One. Because I was a 14 year old loser at the time, I quite liked the latter, but, I hasten to add, I did not buy it. Here's the video to the other one, as it appeared in Eastenders, with Wicksy looking moody in the background.


One year later, three French ladies whose mothers no doubt said to them, "you're not going out dressed like that" nevertheless recorded a euro-pop cover of the 1968 Number One by The Equals, Baby Come Back. Presumably their baby came back and there was no need for any subsequent records.

There are days when I find it quite hard to defend the 80s...


New York punks who left a trail of destruction in their wake between 1996 and 2003. The track below goes into more detail about how they didn't really look after their instruments...

Which bands would you like to see Banned and which ones should never have been Banned in the first place?

Monday 18 September 2023

Record Collection Recollections #7: Tribalism

Ben bought me the C86 book by Nige Tassell last Christmas and I finally got around to starting it over the summer. It's an absorbing read, with a chapter devoted to every band who featured on the NME's legendary C86 cassette, catching up with them, finding out where they are and what they're up to now. Beyond the ones that are obviously still around - like Primal Scream, The Wedding Present and Half Man Half Biscuit - many of the others are still involved in music in one form or another, and most (with the exception of Bobby Gillespie, natch) are very down to earth about it.  

The Bodines - Therese

Most music books deal with the big names, the stadium giants who live a life we can't imagine and talk about music like it's a kind of alchemy (and I guess if it takes you to that level of success, it is). The interviews here feature everyday people having a cup of tea in their front room, walking their dog in a graveyard, or getting up early to go bird-watching... and as such, it demystifies the music industry and you realise that pop stars are just like you and me. Some of them get lucky, but most of them enjoy (or completely bungle) their 15 minutes and then shuffle off to get on with the rest of their lives. Amusingly, quite a few of the bands lament the song they chose for the C86 compilation, saying they feel they had far better tracks to offer, but either didn't realise how significant C86 was going to be or just couldn't be bothered. (Stump, for example, blew most of the £500 the NME gave them on nights out, then recorded a really crappy version of one of their best tunes which didn't do it any justice.) 

Stump - Buffalo

(That's not the version they gave the NME.)

Although I'm not even halfway through the book due to my usual snail's pace at reading anything these days, the most interesting observation thus far came from Dave Newton of the Mighty Lemon Drops who was explaining why he thought his band went on to enjoy more success in the States (where he now lives) than in their home country. He put this squarely down to what he calls "tribalism"... 

"Over here, it's amazing how many people who like us or the Bunnymen also like Van Halen. I don't get that. Some Americans think I'm not telling the truth about bands like that - or that I'm some kind of snob. No, it's just not conceivable that in the UK you'd like Wah! Heat and Bon Jovi. But you see it here on kids' schoolbags where they've written both Rush and the Sex Pistols. Really?! How can you love both?"

And as soon as I read this, I realised where I went wrong as a kid. And where I still go wrong today, as a blogger. The closest I can get to tribalism is to say that I don't really care for dance music post 1987, but I think that's more to do with the way I process music - lyrics first. When I was a kid, I liked most pop and rock music, from any era. Then, as I began to discover alternative music, I kept on enjoying all the other stuff. I didn't go off down one path and close the door to all the other stuff. And while I wasn't cool enough to be buying the NME when C86 came out, one thing that surprised me from reading the book was how many of the bands didn't really see themselves as particularly alternative anyway, they just wanted to make pop music and have a good time.

The Wolfhounds - Feeling So Strange Again

Anyway, I figure this is why the musos don't get me, and why this blog will never really find its niche. Because one day I might be writing about Pulp, and the next I'll be writing about Barry Manilow. And there's no distinction in my head. If I like something, I like it. And all these years, I've been made to feel guilty about that, like it's a bad thing. Maybe I should have grown up in the states...

Sunday 17 September 2023

Snapshots #310 - A Top Ten Songs About Herbs

Because I couldn't find a picture of Herb Alpert taking a photo, here's Herbie the car. He's going bananas for today countdown of songs with herbs in them...

(Oh, and in case you were wondering about Marlene yesterday, the surname "Dill" is apparently "from a pet form of the personal name Dietrich", according to the people who know about such things.)

10. Makes a lot of parkin.

Parkin is a ginger cake. Some debate on the interweb about whether ginger is a herb or a root veg. That doesn't matter though, because we're not here for the ginger, we're here for the basil...

Ginger Baker - Basil

9. Sure-footed ungulates.

Ungulates are large mammals with hooves.

The Mountain Goats - Wild Sage

8. Death-, Funny-, Mountain-.

Death-wish, funny-bone, mountain-ash.

Wishbone Ash - Sorrel

7. Lost in fatheadedness and obscureness. 

FaTHEadedness and obsCUREness. 

Yes, obscureness is a word. Seems pretty obscure to me.

The Cure - Mint Car

Bob looks particularly bonkers in that video.

6. James Moir on an open fire.

James Moir is better known as Vic Reeves. Chestnuts go on an open fire.

Vic Chestnutt - Tarragon

5. Joan's cocktail, mixed with Punch.

The cocktail is a Joan Collins. Punch mixes with Judy.

Judy Collins - Wild Mountain Thyme

4. They've been on the Shari.

Shari Lewis had the puppet Lambchop on her hand.

Lambchop - D. Scott Parsley

3. Thomas built this to keep the ships safe.

Edison Lighthouse - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

2. Half blonde bombshell and king of the jungle.

Half of Marilyn joined onto a lion.

Marillion - Lavender

1. I'm Son and Fluke Gran.


Although it's not in the title, this track was obvious from the outset...

1. Simon & Garfunkel - Scarborough Fair

Season your Saturday with more Snapshots next week...

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