Tuesday 31 October 2023

Namesakes #57: The Ghosts

It's Halloween! Only appropriate then that I offer you a bunch of Ghosts. But which would you welcome into your home, and which are downright scary...?


Belgian surf-pop from 1963. Presumably they came from somewhere near Bruges, since that's the only part of Belgium to have a coastline.


Brazilian garage band who released one album featuring instrumental covers of popular 60s hits towards the end of that decade...


Also from Belgian, though no one seems to know when it was quite released, have some "horror funk", which I found surprisingly enjoyable. Imagine Iggy Pop mucking about in a studio on Halloween...


Want to hear something really scary?

The man behind these particular Ghosts was none other than Radio 1 Breakfast Show DJ and all round "Ban this sick filth!" friend of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Mike Read. 


Not much that I can find out about these guys other than that they went by two different names on their debut 1984 release; one side of the album was by the Ghosts, the other was by The Heart Of Gold Band. All subsequent releases took the latter name, and all I can find online are tracks under that Neil Young-inspired moniker. But here they are anyway...


From 2002, and the album A Hatchetful Of Secrets... I'll give them this: it does actually sound like something out of a horror film.


Also from the early noughties, the era of "landfill indie", these guys were originally known as Polanski. Would you save them from the landfill?


2010, and this "UK synth pop collective" arrived on the scene, splashing a load of money on a video... but disappeared after a couple of years. Were they Underrated?

If your mansion house needs haunting, which of these guys would you call?

Monday 30 October 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #113: Shaft & Chandler

Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks?

Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man?

Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about?

Richard Roundtree may not be a household name, but his most famous role guaranteed him immortality.

They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother
(Shut your mouth)
But I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft
(Then we can dig it)

As you'd imagine, dozens of rappers name-drop Richard Roundtree in the hope of channeling even a fraction of his effortless cool. Far less interested in cool, we have New York's Kevin Froleiks, also known as Goodbye Charlemagne, who describes himself thus: "Failed comedian. Failing musician." Here he is with an ode to facial hair...

Elvis Presley, the king of rock
And Martin Van Buren had mutton chops
And Richard Roundtree in Shaft
And John Travolta in Grease
And Henry Winkler as Fonzie
And even Liberace

They all had side burns
On the side of their face
Like a furry picket fence
Or a fuzzy picture frame
They all had side burns
Playing pong with their eyes
Two caterpillars about
To turn into butterflies

And if you didn't dig that, here's 22 minutes of Free Improv Jazz...

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke
Your love life's DOA
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year...

Rol: Chandler

Ben: This one's a bit weirder as it's one that was in their prime on TV whilst I was a child. And now they're gone.

He was 3 years older than me.

Bet that's an odd feeling.

At least he didn't die of old age.

Tyler Perry and Joe Perry must be scared of 2027

First Luke, now Matthew.

Were they the same age when they died?

Luke was 52.

So why 2027?

Every four years, a Perry dies. 'Tis the true curse of the 21st century.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Snapshots #316: A Top Ten Werewolf Songs

I always like to indulge in a Halloween themed top ten at this time of year... and this time, it has really big teeth! (Bob Seger gave you an extra clue yesterday, with his Silver Bullet Band.)

I used to be a werewolf, you know. But I'm alright no-ooooooooooow!

I'm here all week.

10. Found in the basic ramp structure.

Found in the basiC ramp structure.

The Cramps - I Was A Teenage Werewolf

9. The main point of this quiz.

All you have to do is Guess Who...

The Guess Who - Clap For The Wolfman

8. Holy circles, cylinders and spheres, Batman!

They're all round, Robin.

Round Robin - I'm The Wolfman

7. Gremlins.

If you've seen Gremlins, you know. If you haven't... do yourself a favour. It's got Hoyt Axton in!

Mogwai - How To Be A Werewolf

6. Fine girl from Cumbria.

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) from Carlisle...

Brandi Carlile - Mama Werewolf

5. Sparks fly over this male quintet.

Five Man Electrical Band - Werewolf

4. Thankfully Ripoll. 

Shakira means "thankful" in Arabic. Ripoll is her rarely used surnamed.

Shakira - She Wolf

Shakira - She Wolf

3. Sounds like an Australian to me.

He's not an Aussie, but he is...

Ozzy Osbourne - Bark At The Moon

Video of the week.

2. In today's race, Xanadu ran and Gorgonzola Fondu ran, but all the other horses fell at the first hurdle. 

In today's race, Xanadu ran and Gorgonzola Fondu ran,

Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf

Simon Le Bon almost turns into a werewolf in that. Ozzy still has the better video.

1. Zen raver now confused.


There was no other choice for Number One.

Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London

More Halloween based shenanigans in this week's Namesakes. 

Snapshots should be less scary next Saturday...

Saturday 28 October 2023

Saturday Snapshots #316

I'm hoping You'll Accomp'ny Me in another round of Snapshots this Saturday. It's Still The Same as it always is - just identify the ten artists below, then figure out what might connect their songs...

10. Found in the basic ramp structure.

9. The main point of this quiz.

8. Holy circles, cylinders and spheres, Batman!

7. Gremlins.

6. Fine girl from Cumbria.

5. Sparks fly over this male quintet.

4. Thankfully Ripoll. 

3. Sounds like an Australian to me.

2. In today's race, Xanadu ran and Gorgonzola Fondu ran, but all the other horses fell at the first hurdle. 

1. Zen raver now confused.

We've Got Tonite to work out the answers... if not, all will be revealed tomorrow morning.

Friday 27 October 2023

Product Placement #24: Wimpy

Before the Red Weed of McDonalds conquered the world, if we fancied a quick burger, we all headed out to our local Wimpy Bar. Back in the 80s, Wimpy was pretty much your only option for fast food in the UK, beyond more traditional fare such as fish and chips or pie and peas. In the 90s, many Wimpys were transformed into Burger Kings (same parent company), though Huddersfield still has an actual original Wimpy, in the same place it was when I was a kid. I have to confess I haven't been in there for 40-odd years, but if you held a gun to my head, I'd choose it over the golden arches or a flame-grilled Whopper, if only for nostalgia's sake.

The word "Wimpy" appears in thousands of songs, mostly as a pejorative that has nothing to do with the burger chain. I listened to them all, just in case. Here are a few songs that did have a more direct connection, starting with the lesser-known titular mentions...

Let's start our lyrical nods in the days before T-Rex...

Wimpy bar misfit, I don't wanna be
Like Billy the kid left hangin' from no tree

Marc Bolan - Misfit

Meanwhile, Pauline Black clearly has some Wimpy-related trauma in her past...

Oranges spinning in a Wimpy bar
Although she knows it's not the same
She sits and wonders where it all went wrong
Wraps her coat around her pain

The Selecter - Vicky's Magic Garden

And now, especially for George, some vintage Genesis prog-bollocks...

Citizens of Hope and Glory
Time goes by, it's the time of your life
Easy now, sit you down
Chewing through your Wimpy dreams
They eat without a sound
Digesting England by the pound

Genesis - Driving With The Moonlit Knight

In a similarly nonsensical vein, I have to wonder if there was something more than meat in Poly Styrene's Wimpy... 

I drove my polypropolene
Car on wheels of sponge
Then pulled into a Wimpy bar
To have a rubber bun

Back in the 80s, Ralph Rabie was a South African singer songwriter who used the stage-name Johannes Kerkorrel to protest against Apartheid. His song Hillbrow became a big hit in Belgium and The Netherlands. Proving that Wimpy Bars had, at one point at least, taken over the world...  

Ou man sit by die straatkafees
En kyk al die mense loop heen-en-weer
Boemelaars raas by die Wimpy Bar

Translated from Afrikaans...

Old man sitting at the street cafes
And look at all the people walking back and forth
Hobos rave at the Wimpy Bar

Actually, "the world" is probably pushing it. But Wimpy's were very popular in South Africa, which is also where these guys came from...

Strum on your mandolin and play your guitar
Take all your problems to the Wimpy Bar

Falling Mirror - What Are We Here For?

Actually, The Wimpy Bar started out in the good old US of A. However, the only American singer I can find who mentions them is the amazing Mr. Byrne, although he's referring to J Wellington Wimpy, Popeye's cartoon friend who inspired the name of the Wimpy Bar.

It goes back to Wimpy lookin’ cross eyed 
For a juicy hamburger 
Like they don’t make anymore

Back in the UK, Tom Robinson only frequented his local Wimpy to keep out of the cold...

Eat at the Wimpy or freeze on the street
And hope we don't know anybody we meet

(Sadly, in the TV version that's on the tube of you, they appear to have made Tom change the lyrics to "Eat in the chippy", which doesn't make any sense, because you don't eat in the chippy, you buy your food and then go back out into the cold. Stupid BBC.)

My overall take home from today's investigations is that Wimpy's were a crap place to take someone on a date (even if it was cold, Tom). Although clearly nobody told Ian Anderson that...

Take you to the cinema
And leave you in a Wimpy Bar
You tell me that we've gone too far

I have to wonder if Ian's date was Julz Sale from Leeds post-punk band Delta 5. That might explain the little second person rant with which we close today's proceedings: another gem from Cherry Red's tremendous Where Were You? compilation.

Who took me to the Wimpy for a big night out?
You you you YOU!

Thursday 26 October 2023

Positive Songs For Negative Journeys

I drove to Birmingham last week for a teaching conference. The journey down on Thursday night was pretty uneventful, if you ignore the M42, a jumped up dual carriageway which thinks its a motorway but only has two lanes, even though everybody drives as if there were three. I made it down in two and a half hours, spent the night in a wonderfully Fawlty Towers-esque hotel, and then headed off to the conference which was a very useful and engaging day.

However, I arrived in Birmingham about the same time as Storm Babet. I'm not sure there were any rooms left in the hotel for her, so she raised merry hell for the rest of the night and throughout the following day. My journey home then, took seven and a half hours rather than two and a half, and culminated in a lengthy period sitting on the edge of a hillside in Glossop with a flat tyre, waiting for someone to come and fix it. The RAC told me the waiting time was 5 hours, so I called a local mobile tyre guy who was able to get there in just an hour and a half. When he finally arrived, his headlights revealed that I'd also lost a number plate while driving through one of the many road-swamping rivers I'd had to ford as part of my journey. If only cars still came with spare tyres, like they used to... but don't start me on that.

Altogether, I think I listened to my entire in-car memory stick during those journeys, which is made up of a mix of current albums I'm into (The Hold Steady, Jenny Lewis, The Handsome Family, Laura Cantrell, BC Camplight, Jim Bob, Lloyd Cole et al.), and some older wonders (most notably the first disc in Cherry Red's excellent Where Were You? compilation). To keep me sane while I waited for the recovery guy though, I needed a little more. So I put on a recent edition of the Mickey Bradley Record Show on BBC Radio Ulster (available on BBC Sounds, should you have the time and the inclination). Mickey Undertone always plays a great selection, mixing punk and new wave with classic soul, pop and folk plus a bunch of new stuff that fits well with the old. He may even have overtaken Natasha Raskin-Sharp on BBC Radio Scotland as my favourite radio show at the moment (but don't tell Natasha, she's still delivering the goods). Anyway, here's a few of the tunes Mickey played that kept me going while I waited for a new tyre...

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Celebrity Jukebox#112: Dwight & Burt & Bobby

US Power Pop star Dwight Twilley left us last week, at the age of just 72. I reckon I first came across Dwight's music through our old pal Brian. Yes, here he is to tell us more. And here's a classic slice of Dwight...

And here's a modern band who were clearly influenced by Dwight's sound...

Hey Sammy
Do you wanna go for a ride
Get Shitty
Can you feel it on a Saturday night
Dwight Twilley
Blowin' up your mama's hi-fi
No really
I'm so glad we're in it tonight

Actor Burt Young also passed last week. No mentions in the jukebox, but I couldn't let Rocky's brother-in-law go without at least a mention...

For fans of the inexplicably popular ball kicking activity, this week's biggest celebrity death will be that of Sir Bobby Charlton, of whom the most I can honestly say is that I've heard of him. And so has the jukebox...

There was a short-lived band from Bradford in the early 90s called The Bobby Charltons. Sadly, their music appears to have never founds its was onto the interweb. Herman's Hermits have though... and here they are with an ode to the team for whom Sir Bobby played most of his football...

United's ground where the champions score
A hundred goals to the reds stand's roar
And Bobby Charlton, Best and Law
It's a most fantastic day
When they play

Here's a rather patriotic (I'm hoping sarcastically so, but no quite sure) anthem from Staffordshire rock band Demon. Worth including because it's the first time I've seen Morecambe & Wise mentioned in song...

Drake he sank the Spanish ships
Her majesty reigns over it
Remember world cup sixty six
And dear Bobby Charlton
The Rockers and the Mods
Blackpool and its Tower
Morecambe and the Wise
Sir Lawrence Olivier

Even more worrying is Elton John's version of Give Peace A Chance. I'm all for a bit of Elton, but the whole Spike Milligan / Frankie Howerd routine gets a bit much...

Everybody in the Soviet Union, unite
Go down to the shops and talk about John and Yoko
Timothy Leary, Barbara Windsor, Yoko Ono, Madonna
Bobby Dylan, Bobby Charlton, Eddie Charlton
Tommy Cooper and the Amazing Horseradish Dancers
Derek Baker, Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg and the Hare Krishna Three

Since the New Order detente detailed on Monday, I feel a little more charitable towards the following track... though New Order + Football is still a tough ask in this house.

A beauty scored by Bobby Charlton

Miki Pannell is from Italy. According to his bandcamp page, he's been in the following bands... Demented Are Go. Aaron Memphis, Spectacular Band, The Hugs, Soulteros, 33 Revolucciones, Showdown, Stressless Rockin' Band, Zak Washington and the Boogiemen, Rose Tinted Spectacles, Something Shocking, The Court Jesters, Rhythm Bound and The Royal Scumbag Orchestra. He remembers Bobby for that famous comb-over...

Remember bald is beautiful, Yul Brinner could be you
So if you start to lose it, here's what you've got to do
Don't do a Bobby Charlton, accept it with some grace!
Go and shave your head... And put a smile upon your face

It was, of course, inevitable that Nigel would have a contribution to make today...

God gave us life, Hallelujah...
God gave us life
God gave us life
God gave us life

The tune that made the most impact on me today though was this one from Jenner Fox, who is American (so please excuse his use of the word "soccer"), but still tells an emotive tale about a young British football fan who grows up to coach an American soccer team. Bobby gets a mention, alongside a number of other footballing greats, but the reason this song resonated with me is that the young lad's dad was clearly not a football fan, and that's something he remembers from his youth.

Kick the ball with me
One more time
Kick the ball Daddy

Note to self: try harder.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Namesakes #56: The Pretenders

The music industry is full of pretenders. Some of them get lucky, others simply fade away into obscurity. But how many of them are truly Great Pretenders?

Let's find out...


We start with some doo wop. Actually the doo wop blog I found lists four (or possibly seven) different doo wop bands that used the name The Pretenders, and I'm not sure I can separate them without extensive research. But here's a brief sampling...


A spooky surf instrumental from Minnesota in 1963...


On Jerk Records out of LA in 1965, though these guys were clearly no jerks.


Though these guys might well be. Another wacky instrumental, this one from '66...


Get ready for a top New Jersey soul tune from 1969. One listen to this and you'll wonder why these guys never made it big.


Chrissie Hynde's band formed in Hereford in 1978 (although Chrissie herself is from Ohio). Chrissie's the only Pretender who's been there the whole time, although drummer Martin Chambers has been along for most of the ride.

Here's a video in which Chrissie appears to have stumbled onto the set of Minder. Watch out for the over-literal representation of the word "Special" in the lyrics...

After Chrissie made it big, no other Pretenders came forward. But which are just pretenders, and which are the real deal?

Monday 23 October 2023

Self-Help For Cynics #11: Why I Hate New Order

I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me how do I feel?
Tell me now, how do I feel?

I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I'm quite sure that you'll tell me
Just how I should feel today

New Order - Blue Monday

When I was 16, I was in love with a girl called Maddie who didn’t know I existed. 

No, wait a second, there are certain parts of that sentence I need to qualify...

1. Was I in love? Do we truly know what love is at 16 years of age? Does our brain ever truly know what love is?

Foreigner - I Want To Know What Love Is

Love is an emotion we primarily link to our hearts, perhaps because our heart beats faster when we see the person we love. Except it’s only doing that because that’s what our brain told it to do.

The Neat - Hormones In Action (In My Heart)

Here’s Professor Timothy Loving from the University of Texas. Yes, that is his real name. Yes, that’s the primary reason I’m quoting him.

Part of the whole attraction process is strongly linked to physiological arousal as a whole. Typically, that's going to start with things like increased heart rate, sweatiness and so on.

Spiritualized - I Think I'm in Love

What else does the brain get up to when it thinks it’s in love?

Healthline tells us...

Simply thinking about the object of your affections is enough to trigger dopamine release, making you feel excited and eager to do whatever it takes to see them.

Then, when you actually do see them, your brain “rewards” you with more dopamine, which you experience as intense pleasure.

I could go on, but putting aside adolescent hormones and teenage notions such “being in love with love”, or as Donny put it…

Donny Osmond - Puppy Love 

…I think it’s fair to say I was getting a fair few dopamine hits whenever I saw this girl, spent time with her, or thought about her. Doesn’t sound quite so romantic, that, does it?

She Drew The Gun - Dopamine 

2. Was she actually called Maddie? Well, her name was Madeline, and that was how she referred to herself. I never heard anyone else call her Maddie, but I did on occasion. Did I do this as a sign of affection? Clearly. Was it actually what she wanted? I’m not sure.

The reason I called her Maddie (and possibly one of the reasons I was so “in love” with her) is because I was obsessed with the TV show Moonlighting at the time, and its main characters were David (Bruce Willis) Addison and Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) Hayes. I didn’t particularly fancy Cybill Shepherd, and “my” Maddie looked nothing like her, but David and Maddie had a whole “will they / won’t they” thing going on, and in my head I was confusing fantasy with reality, as teenagers are wont to do. The other thing that happened in Moonlighting was that David Addison occasionally broke the fourth wall, and seemed at times to be aware that he was a character in a TV show. This notion appealed to me greatly, and together with my mate Richard, we regularly talked about our own lives as though they were episodes of a TV show. Actually, this was an idea I’d been working on throughout my childhood – in my head, I had my own TV station (one that switched over to being just a radio station when I went to bed… it was complicated). This might seem like irrelevant information, but you’ll need to know it later. There will be a quiz.

Bruce Willis - Good Lovin'

3. Clearly Maddie did know I existed since we had regular conversations, mostly on the long bus journey home where we would often sit together – well, not together on the same seat, but usually on adjacent seats. And when we got off the bus, those conversations would often continue while I walked her home – well, we were going in the same direction, and I carried on up the hill after she’d crossed the road to go into her own house. Were both of these situations led by me? I mean, did she ever choose to sit by me or was she always on the bus when I got on with empty seats in her vicinity? Was I merely preferable to some of the other losers and malcontents on that bus? Did she secretly want to walk up that hill on her own but she was just being polite when I tagged along?

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - My Eyes Adored You

Looking back, I might think that. I certainly manufactured situations in which we could bump into each other or be in the same place together, but that’s what you do at that age, isn’t it? The whole thing’s a minefield, and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it any more. In my defence, I will offer the rainy lunchtimes we spent together in the music block, practicing our instruments. (Not a euphemism.) She played piano better than me, and some other kind of wind instrument (clarinet?) while I had my tenor horn and we would, on occasion, hang out in one of the practice rooms, mucking about with music, but mostly just chatting and having a laugh.

(I should perhaps at this point reveal that, about a year or so later, my friend Simon got so sick of me going on about Maddie that he went to ask her if she’d like to go out with me. Because clearly I was never going to do such a thing myself. I was great at dropping hints, but no way was I going to approach her directly. So anyway, Simon asked her out for me… and what ensued? Only one of those awful, embarrassing (for everyone) sitcom scenarios in which Maddie actually thought that Simon was asking her out for himself (rather than me), excitedly accepting, only to then… well, you can guess the rest.)

The Brilliant Corners - Why Do You Have to Go Out With Him When You Could Go Out With Me?


Apologies for the whole Ronnie Corbett bit. I’m getting there.

You just can't believe me
When I show you what you mean to me
You just can't believe me
When I show you what you cannot see

New Order - Confusion

In my previous Self-Help For Cynics Post, I wrote about the Storytelling Brain. How the brain uses stories to create neural pathways which teach us how to deal with things that happen to us in our lives. This appears to be a wonderful thing… until it goes wrong. And when it does go wrong, those same neural pathways end up reinforcing negative opinions, beliefs or ideas based on responses to negative experiences. Dr. Faith explains, in her own inimitable style…

But clearly the storytelling brain has the capacity to be a serious fucking problem too. We start telling ourselves (and believing) certain stories about ourselves and the world around us. Our brains are wired to crave certainty. We WANT to see patterns in what happens to us so we can make better decisions about the world and how we are supposed to keep ourselves safe in it.

The emotional brain makes a decision for us and the thinking brain has to scramble to come up with a reason why.

Which brings me back to the will-they / won’t-they romance in my 16 year old brain.

The Donnas - Do You Wanna Go out with Me?

It was the end of term. Or, in the TV station of my head, it was the last episode of the series. Everything was building up to a climax, because that’s what happens at the end of a series. On our final journey home together before the holidays, I got up the courage to clumsily drop the biggest hint so far to Maddie that I was interested in being a little more than friends. The ironic thing is, I have very little memory of what I actually said, I only recall that it went as well as it could have done (no outright rejection, anyway… then again, clearly she didn’t swoon into my arms either) and that I was left with a distinct feeling that when I saw her again… maybe… we’d be ready to move up to the next level. Like, I dunno, actually sitting together on the same seat or something.

AC/DC - Can I Sit Next to You, Girl?

As a result, I walked home that night in a state of euphoria. Which is all in the brain, again! Healthline explains…

That giddy, euphoric excitement you feel when spending time with the person you love (or seeing them across the room, or hearing their name)? You can trace this entirely normal effect of falling in love back to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Glasvegas - Euphoria, Take My Hand

Ah, that pesky dopamine again. I’m surprised it took me so long to get to that little critter. Harvard Health goes into more detail…

Dopamine is most notably involved in helping us feel pleasure as part of the brain’s reward system. Sex, shopping, smelling cookies baking in the oven — all these things can trigger dopamine release, or a "dopamine rush." 

This feel-good neurotransmitter is also involved in reinforcement. That’s why, once we try one of those cookies, we might come back for another one (or two, or three).

Hopped up on dopamine following my seemingly successful hint drop, I was keen to share this with my friend Richard, who understood the language of 4th wall breaking imaginary TV shows better than any of my other contemporaries.

Heart - Strange Euphoria 

A little bit about Richard, before I go on. We’d been mates for about three or four years by this point, and along with my other mate Simon, who I’d known since junior school, we’d formed a pretty tight little group. Best friends? I’m not sure I’ve ever had a best friend, but the three of us were as close as we could be without ever using that terminology. Although Simon and I had the longer friendship, and many shared interests, Rich and I had bonded over a love of music. That began with Queen (particularly A Kind Of Magic, which was out around then) and classic Motown. Although lately, his tastes had been changing. He’d become obsessed with the Smiths (who, at the time, I hated) and the Pet Shop Boys, a band I liked (bought quite a few of their singles) but clearly didn’t connect with on the same level that he did. I liked Neil Tennant’s arch lyrics, while Rich liked the beats. It was the mid-late 80s, and although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was losing him to dance music.

I don't like country-and-western
I don't like rock music
I don't like, I don't like rockabilly or rock 'n' roll particularly
Don't like much really, do I?
But what I do like I love passionately

Pet Shop Boys - Paninaro

On that fateful evening then, I gave him a call to update him on the end-of-season cliff-hanger involving Maddie… but when he answered the phone, something was off. There was music playing in the background, and Rich seemed distracted. As I poured my euphoric heart out, it quickly became apparent that Rich was only half listening to me, that someone else was there, and that they were taking up more of his attention. And after a few minutes I realised that whoever it was, was laughing at me. Laughing at the private conversation I was having with my friend, at my pathetic attempts at romance, and that Rich was laughing too.

You call me on the phone, you left me all alone
All I get from you is shellshock
Another day goes by and all I do is cry
All I get from you is shellshock

New Order - Shellshock

I stopped and asked Rich what was going on. Who was there with him? And that’s when he told me.

It was Swanny.

All you need to know about Swanny is that he lived a few doors down from Rich and that he was a complete and utter arsehole. A couple of years prior, he’d indulged (along with a few other kids) in some minor league bullying, of which I was one of his semi-regular marks. And as far as I was concerned, the scars were still fresh.

“What are you doing?” I asked Rich, meaning, “Why are you laughing at me? Why aren’t you being the friend and confidant I’ve come to expect and rely on? Why are you pissing all over my euphoria… with fucking Swanny!?!”

“Nothing,” said Rich. “We’re just listening to the new New Order record.”

I hung up the phone and didn’t speak to Rich again for the next nine months. Eventually Simon managed to get us talking again, and we made up… in a way. But it was never the same.

When I was a very small boy
Very small boys talked to me
Now that we've grown up together
They're afraid of what they see

New Order - True Faith

Thirty-five years later, I still can’t listen to New Order. This is something which sets me at odds with large sections of the music blogging community who worship the ground Bernard and Peter (and whatever the rest of them are called) make beats on. And it’s all down to my story-telling brain, which has inextricably linked the anger, embarrassment and shame I felt that evening in 1988 to New Order’s Technique. Neural pathways have been created which mean that whenever I hear New Order on the radio, or see another post pop up about them on one of my favourite blogs, I’m taken back to that night and all those unpleasant feelings.

"Unpleasant feelings" though... as adolescent trauma goes, I will admit that this is pretty mild. However, the same principle applies to much deeper wounds, in theory.  

Since I was born I started to decay
Now nothing ever, ever goes my way

Placebo - Teenage Angst

Dr. Faith would no doubt tell me that this can be fixed. That if I started listening to more New Order, thereby allowing my brain to create new neural pathways which could over-ride the old ones, that would eventually lead to positive associations and responses, and my opinion of the band might change. It is possible to re-wire your brain in this way… after all, as I mentioned earlier, I used to hate The Smiths, and then in my 20s, various things happened which allowed me to hear them in a new light. If I put enough energy and effort into it then, perhaps I could make myself like New Order. 

Are there any bands you hate because your brain has linked their music to painful memories?

I would like a place I could call my own
Have a conversation on the telephone
Wake up every day that would be a start
I would not complain of my wounded heart

Post script...

A weird thing happened while compiling this post. I actually sat and listened to the New Order songs above, and I didn't hate them as much as I thought I did. 

Now you can call this wishful thinking or a self-fulfilling prophecy, or me just trying to make a point. Wanting to believe in something, then making it so. Theodor Herzl: "If you will it, it is no dream." Surely it can't be as easy as that...?

The cynical jury remains out...

Sunday 22 October 2023

Snapshots #315: A Top Ten Songs For Jobseekers

Now then, Job Seekers... I bet you're wondering why Pauline isn't holding a camera? 

Don't question, Pauline, your workshy layabouts! Lounging around on a Sunday morning when you should be out looking for WORK! Remember what Yosser Hughes said: "Gizza Job!" Now get out there...

10. Took part in the UCLA Sheepdog Trials.

Took part in the UCLA Sheepdog Trials.

The Clash - Career Opportunities

9. Material which is mined in reverse.

Denim is mined in reverse.

Denim - Job Centre

8. Policeman exposed.

The Bobby, laid Bare.

Bobby Bare - Unemployment Line

7. Faithless nun reads Gigi.

The nun is Sister Bliss (from Faithless). Gigi was written by Colette.

Sister Bliss featuring Colette - Can't Get A Job

6. Always direct proof that too much alcohol is bad for you.

Everclear is an alcoholic drink that goes above 90% proof.

Everclear - Unemployed Boyfriend

5. Sent by a lovely goddess to tidy up. 

Venus has sent the cleaners...

The Cleaners from Venus - Young Jobless

4. She left Green Gables for a Lincolnshire town. 

Ann from Green Gables goes to Alford.

Ann Alford - Got To Get Me A Job

3. Kids!

The Offspring - Why Don't You Get A Job?

2. Doesn't matter.

It's Immaterial - Young Man (Seeks Interesting Job)

1. The Contours?

The Silhouettes - Get A Job

Your job now is to rejoin the employment line next Saturday morning...

Saturday 21 October 2023

Saturday Snapshots #315

You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. This week's Snapshots has nothing to do with apes or planets though... so let's stop monkeying around and get down to it. Identify the ten artists below and tell me how their songs might be linked...

10. Took part in the UCLA Sheepdog Trials.

9. Material which is mined in reverse.

8. Policeman exposed.

7. Faithless nun reads Gigi.

6. Always direct proof that too much alcohol is bad for you.

5. Sent by a lovely goddess to tidy up. 

4. She left Green Gables for a Lincolnshire town. 

3. Kids!

2. Doesn't matter.

1. The Contours?

Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape! The answers will be here tomorrow morning...

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