With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“Take me away from this big bad world and agree to marry me” January 4, 2014


ArticleImage-51385Blur, who have been a little inactive on the new music front recently launched some new merchandise which you can buy on-line. Is it branded trainers, hoodies, t-shirts, baseball caps and the like? No, it’s a tea set, beer mats and flat caps. Better hurry up if you want a Blur tea set though, apparently only 300 were made. Click here to get yours. Blimey next they’ll be selling whippets named after the band members and maybe branded pipes and slippers. What other random merchandising can we expect? Cup cakes from Ozzy Osbourne, BingoWings.com on-line bingo from Madonna, X-Factor ear plugs made from Matt Cardle’s ear wax, Robbie Williams and One Direction toilet paper, Olly Murs manure? All your suggestions would be very gratefully received.

 

“It’s not my problem, it’s not my problem” – Advent post day 2 December 2, 2013


G7497_thumbpacksIt’s now just over three weeks until the big day when the bearded weirdo arrives at your house and drops down your chimney. Are you excited yet? If not then I hope that the two tunes with numbers in their titles that I have selected for day 2 get you at least a little bit revved up. So behind the colourful little cardboard flap today we have a couple of classics for singing along to when drunk.

Pull the udder one Damon

Pull the udder one Damon

First it’s Blur with an excellent if rather unimaginatively titled song; yes it’s “Song 2” from 1997. It came from an album which also didn’t need much creative juice when it came to choosing a title; it was simply called ‘Blur’. However forget the issue I have with those titles for me it remains one of the band’s finest albums. Sadly it only made it to number 2 in the UK charts, but it did hit the top spot in Canada. It has been covered by a wide range of artists, including; Avril Lavigne, Scooter, Robbie Williams and Vampire Weekend. It was also sampled by Pink on her song “Slut Like You”. “Song 2″ has featured in episodes of Torchwood, the Simpsons and South Park. It is said that the US military wanted to use the song at the launch of a new Stealth Bomber, but Damon Albarn refused them permission. Rightly so in my opinion.

5032556118026The second song from day 2 is the wonderful “Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please” from Splodgenessabounds. The song was released in 1980 when it made it to number 7 in the UK charts. The B side was the rather excellently titled song “Michael Booth’s Talking Bum”. In a throwback to the early days of punk many of the band members gave themselves some rather clever stage names; including vocalist Max Splodge, guitarist Pat Thetic Noble and Miles Flat also a guitarist. The band still tours, often with Bad Manners and appeared at the Rebellion Festival for the 19th time earlier this year.

Indeed!

Indeed!

 

London 2012 – The Olympics Closing Ceremony August 13, 2012


So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.

I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.

Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.

The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.

The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!

One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”

To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012′s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”.  The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.

Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.  This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.

George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90″  his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.

George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot

A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.

Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!

A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?

ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.

Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? ;-) As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.

It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.

The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.

I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/  Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.

Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!

Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.

 

“I use the best I use the rest I use the NME” March 7, 2012


All of you loyal UK subjects who pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth are obviously now very busy preparing your street parties and other events aren’t you? Well did you know that she shares her Diamond Jubilee with another British institution that is celebrating a 60 year anniversary? Today, 7th March 2012, is the 60th birthday of the New Musical Express, better known these days as the NME.

Now the last remaining weekly news magazine in the UK the NME has moved on considerably since 1952 when it replaced the ‘Accordion Times and Musical Express’. The nme.com website was launched way back in 1996 and is now the biggest stand-alone music site in the world with more than seven million users every month.

So whilst the old mag might not be as influential as she was, she is still very popular. I am now a subscriber who has bought it from when it was a newspaper style ‘inkie’ back in 1971. I have seen some great writers come and go; Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Danny Baker, Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill and Barbara Ellen to name but a few.

So happy 60th birthday to the NME and all of those who write for it and read it. Many years ago I had a name check in the NME when I sent a copy of an advert for the Sylvanian Family toys. One of the characters was called Roger Waters, which made me think it was both appropriate and amusing. Now celebrate with a couple of NME related songs. One that mentions the NME and two from the excellent C81 cassette issued by the NME in 1981.

 

“I’m gonna paint you by numbers and colour you in” aka The Brit Awards 2012 (February 21st) February 22, 2012


It’s that time of year again, the annual celebration and all round back slap of the UK music industry that is the Brits. There are 46 nominees this year including Adele who comes to the party already the proud owner of six Grammys. In a slight departure from my live typing last year I am doing this from the recording of the show. This meant I was able to spend a great night with Catwoman and some of our best friends and their lovely daughter Amelia. (Incidentally if you’d like to read the blog I write monthly for Amelia just click here)

So on with the show. A great and bombastic opener, “Charlie” from Coldplay. As with last year the event is presented by James Corden. The little clips introducing the best album nominees began with Adele’s ’21′ which is appropriately enough the best-selling album in the UK so far this century. As expected there was a film montage in memory of Whitney Houston which preceded the live appearance of Florence and the Machine. I am always blown away by that girl’s voice and tonight was no exception with a superb performance of “No Light No Light”. She seemed encased in a white light prison at one point. A prism prison if you will!

The first award was for Best British Female, presented by the beautifully proportioned Kylie Minogue. Whilst I would have liked to have seen Kate Bush win it there was really no surprise to see Adele be announced as a very worthy winner. She gave a really amusing acceptance speech including suggesting that she felt like a drag queen next to Kylie. The Best International Male award was presented by Jessie J and Jack Whitehall (who the fuck is he?) The winner was Bruno Mars with a bouffant hair do that seemed to add about a foot to his stature. His thank you speech was probably the blandest and least controversial there has ever been at the Brits.

The next live act was Olly Murs with the Rizzle Kicks. This is a real dilemma for me, I love the Rizzle Kicks but Olly Murs voice makes me want to eat my cats vomit with a side order of fresh road kill. It was a big dance production of Olly’s “My Heart Skips A Beat” including an attempt at Murs robotic dancing. At least his Mum and Simon Cowell would be proud of him.

The Critics Choice award went to Emeli Sande and was known in advance, this was given to the wonderful Jessie J last year. Mr Ed Sheerhan was the next turn to take to the stage with a wonderfully sparse version of his superb song “Lego House”. Just how good was that? The next award was for Best British Single presented by the immensely talented Tinie Tempah. Sadly the winner was the rather insipid attempt at anthemic; “What Makes You Beautiful” from X Factor Pop Muppets One Direction. Did they get dressed in a James Bond costume shop?

Jenson Button was chosen to present the award for International Female, not for his musical talents presumably. Still he’d make a better James Bond than One Direction, probably a better singer too. The award went to Rihanna, possibly one of the sexiest women on the planet in my opinion. To make up spectacularly for Olly Murs Noel Gallagher appeared with his High Flying Birds with the stupendous “AKA What A Life” with Chris Martin off of Coldplay on keyboards. I think it’s now very clear that Noel was and is the more talented Gallagher brother.

Next was a tribute to Amy Winehouse. Quite fittingly interspersing some of her brilliant songs with some great interview clips all shown in black and white. Losing Whitney was very sad but losing Amy was a tragedy. Best British Male was the next gong and it was presented by the sharp dressed and edgy Plan B. The award went to Ed Sheerhan who has now ditched the green T Shirt for a suit and tie.

Huey Morgan and Jo Whiley presented the Best British Group award. This one has been taken home by Coldplay twice before (in 2001 and 2003) and this year they make it a third. It was voted for by BBC Radio Two listeners. A really sincere acceptance speech though. James Corden then interviewed, very briefly, Kylie Minogue. He really should stick to his day job! The stage was owned by Adele for the next live performance, a storming “Rolling In The Deep”. She looked stunning, I wonder if that pretentious twat Karl Lagerfeld was watching.

The International Group award was presented by two of the remaining members of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor. The Foo Fighters were very worthy winners and were the first recipients of the evening not able to be there to collect their award. They did supply a great little video clip though. Nicole Scherzinger was joined by none other than musical superstar, sorry I meant football superstar Cesc Fabregas to present the Best Breakthrough act award. It was the second of the night for Ed Sheerhan. An interesting acceptance speech, apparently his manager could do with a new sofa.

Bruno Mars performed “Just The Way You Are” dressed like a tuxedoed James Bond lookalike. Except that the hair is probably an explosive secret weapon presented to this pint-sized warbler by Bond Boffin Q. Then we had another awkward Corden interview, this time with the prepubescent One Direction. A bizarre pairing of Rob Brydon and Will.i.Am presented the Best International Breakthrough act which unsurprisingly went to the talented and somewhat astral Lana Del Ray. She also won the award for blubbiest acceptance speech of the night, but I do love her album.

“We Found Love” from Rihanna was a live performance to be reckoned with. Only she could make a kind of painters smock sexy whilst performing in front of a gang of dancing painter decorators. Her hair had grown immeasurably from her earlier appearance. Has she taken the same follicle elixir as Bruno Mars or was it just a really classy syrup?

Finally it came to Ray Winstone to present the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award to Blur aka Graham, Dave , Alex and Damon. Next was the MasterCard British Album of the year award, presented by the man with talent oozing out of his pockets, George Michael. This had Adele’s name on it months ago didn’t it? That girl will need a bigger shelf for all these awards. How the fuck did they end up curtailing her acceptance speech in such an abrupt way.

Blur were on stage to close the show kicking off their set with “Girls And Boys” and then appropriately “Song 2″. They were then joined on stage by Phil Daniels for a great rendition of “Parklife” Sadly that is where the TV coverage ended, I would love to have seen the whole set from Blur. I hear that they finished off with “Tender” and “This Is A Low”, but somehow I imagine this was quite a high for them!

 

“Ripped gloves, raincoat, tried to swim and stay afloat” January 13, 2012


I was really pleased to see that there are hardly any X Factor related nominations for the upcoming Brit Awards. Just one each for Olly Murs, One Direction and JLS. Jessie J and Adele have three nominations each and Ed Sheerhan is nominated in a mighty four categories; British Male Solo Artist, British Breakthrough Act, British Single (for “The A Team”) and British Album of the Year (for ‘+’)

Aloe Blacc, Bon Iver, Coldplay, Emeli Sande and Florence & The Machine are all nominated in two categories each. There is also a welcome return to the nominees for Kate Bush after her excellent rework album ‘Directors Cut’ and the new album ’50 Words For Snow’

All the nominees are shown below and I have underlined who I expect to win in each category, not who I would like to win in all cases though! But Blur will definitely pick up their award and it will be great to see them together again.

What do you think of the new Brit Award designed by Peter Blake? Personally I love it

British Male Solo Artist

Ed Sheeran

James Blake

James Morrison

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Professor Green

British Female Solo Artist

Adele

Florence & The Machine

Jessie J

Kate Bush

Laura Marling

British Breakthrough Act

Anna Calvi

Ed Sheeran

Emeli Sande

Jessie J

The Vaccines

British Group

Arctic Monkeys

Chase & Status

Coldplay

Elbow

Kasabian

British Single

Adele – Someone Like You

Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Example – Changed The Way You Kissed Me

Jessie J Ft B.o.B. – Price Tag

JLS Ft Dev – She Makes Me Wanna

Military Wives/Gareth Malone – Wherever You Are

Olly Murs Ft Rizzle Kicks – Heart Skips A Beat

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

Pixie Lott – All About Tonight

The Wanted – Glad You Came

British Album of the Year

Adele – 21

Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Ed Sheeran – +

Florence & The Machine – Ceremonials

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

International Male Solo Artist

Aloe Blacc

Bon Iver

Bruno Mars

David Guetta

Ryan Adams

International Female Solo Artist

Beyonce

Bjork

Feist

Lady Gaga

Rihanna

International Group

Fleet Foxes

Foo Fighters

Jay Z / Kanye West

Lady Antebellum

Maroon 5

International Breakthrough Act

Aloe Blacc

Bon Iver

Foster The People

Lana Del Rey

Nicki Minaj

British Producer

Paul Epworth

Flood

Ethan Johns

Outstanding Contribution To Music

Blur

Critics’ Choice

Emeli Sande

I will be blogging about the Brits live from my living room on Tuesday 21st February, but feel free to visit my blog in between times as well!

I’ll sign off for now with a clip of a distant previous appearance at the Brits by Blur.

 

100th Post =100 songs December 1, 2009

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Well this is it then, my 100th post and as promised here are the 100 songs currently in my top 10 (ok I know that sounds stupid, but regular readers will understand!) If I were to do this again say for the 200th post there would be quite a few differences. This list is in no particular order, although Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” probably still remains my most favourite song ever! I would love to see your comments on the list; is there anything you really like or really don’t like on here, is there anything really embarrassing perhaps. What is your top 10 or top 100? Incidentally I can already think of many more that didn’t make the cut!

As usual you will find the usual trivia content or comment along with the songs

No Woman No Cry        Bob Marley – Obviously I love this song but it has to be the live version and then preferably the one from the 1975 London Lyceum concerts. That album was called simply ‘Live’ and I wore out my vinyl copy completely

Police And Thieves        Junior Murvin – A classic reggae song, well covered by the Clash. Sadly the song is still all too pertinent today

Licking Stick     Desmond Dekker – Fun reggae at it’s best from the late great Mr Dacres

Cottage In Negril           Tyrone Taylor – Don’t ask me why but this is probably one of my favourite reggae songs ever. It makes me want to go to Negril

Rebel, Rebel     David Bowie – The first single from the wonderful Diamond Dogs album. A glorious Rolling Stones pastiche on which, unusually, Mr Bowie plays lead guitar

Heroes  David Bowie – Inspirational and also a song that I will have played at my funeral in 50 years. You should check out the versions he recorded in both French and German

Strawberry Letter 23       Brothers Johnson – Regular readers will know just how much I love this song. ‘Nuff said

I Want You Back           Jackson 5 - That opening piano run still sends shivers down my spine and frankly how can you not want to dance to this

Superstition      Stevie Wonder – Stevie rocks out more than many on this one which was originally written for Jeff Beck. More than enough to forgive Mr Wonder for “I Just Called To Say I Love You”

White Man In The Hammersmith Palais    Clash – In my humble opinion the finest song by the finest band ever!

London Calling  Clash – If my memory serves me well this is the only Clash song ever to feature in a Bond movie

Complete Control          Clash – A venomous attack on CBS, far more venomous than the Sex Pistols “EMI” in my view

Don’t Let Me Down        Beatles – My favourite Fab Four song which in fact was only a B Side! Also a song that I sing very badly at full volume when I’m drunk

Revolution        Beatles – Another moptops classic that I also sing very badly whilst under the influence of alcohol

Instant Karma    John Lennon – Karma is a powerful thing and Instant Karma is a powerful song!

Do Anything You Wanna Do      Eddie And The Hot Rods – In my teens this was probably one of the most meaningful and uplifting songs I knew. Even at the old age of 50 it still does it for me

Gary Gilmore’s Eyes      Adverts – For subject matter alone this would be in the top 100. Mr Gilmore was executed in the US in the mid 70s and he donated his eyes to an anonymous someone. That someone is the subject of the song!

Theme From A Summer Place    Percy Faith Orchestra – You might say that this is one of my guilty pleasures, well maybe, but it is a beautiful piece of music. It was also used to great effect in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Rose Red

Wild Is The Wind           David Bowie – Not a Bowie original but one written for a 50s movie, perhaps more of a torch song and one of Bowie’s best ever cover versions. It certainly makes up for his bloody awful cover of the Beach Boys “God Only Knows” in the 80s

What’s Going On?         Marvin Gaye – Great song from a great album, such a shame that it still rings true after nearly 40 years

September        Earth, Wind And Fire – E, W & F at their best, probably my favourite Saturday night song

God Save The Queen    Sex Pistols – Fear and conspiracy kept this from the number one spot in the Queens Silver Jubilee week in 1977. For me this is a major contender for the UK’s new national anthem!

Public Image     Public Image Limited – So many people thought that Lydon would do nothing after the Pistols, how very wrong they were.

Suspicious Minds          Elvis Presley – Elvis gets his mojo back after all those years of shit movie songs

She’s Gone    Hall & Oates – Taken from the Abandoned Luncheonette album, one of the saddest songs I know. I always play this when I’m in a melancholy mood. I also believe that Daryl Hall has the finest white soul voice in history. And what the bloody hell is a luncheonette?

Mack The Knife   Bobby Darin – I love story songs and this is easily one of the best. You have to tap your feet and click your fingers to this don’t you?

Karma Police    Radiohead – Probably the best band in the world today

Bernadette        Four Tops – Levi Stubbs RIP, I believe Mr Stubbs was the finest soul singer there ever was and ever will be. is this the only song about a Bernadette too?

Still Water (Love)           Four Tops – Relaxing, powerful, beautiful, ethereal, there simply aren’t enough words to describe this gorgeous song

Into My Arms    Nick Cave – As love songs go this might be quite strange but it is undoubtedly beautiful too

Talk Show Host    Radiohead - My favourite song from the ‘Head by a long way. just a B Side and als on the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo And Juliet’ movie

Take Me Girl I’m Ready  Junior Walker – My favourite ever juke box record. In the late 70s this was number 77A on the jukebox in the Windmill pub in Ruislip

Woman To Woman        Shirley Brown – A real torch song, sets the hairs on the back of my neck on end

If Loving You Is Wrong   Millie Jackson – and the classic soul torch diva has to be Ms Jackson. I saw her live at the Victoria Apollo in the 70s

Ms Jackson      Outkast - Talking of Ms Jackson (although this is actually about Erykah Badu’s Mum) here is my favourite Outkast song. Don’t you think it sounds a little reminiscent of ‘Strawberry Letter 23′?

I Know What I like (In Your Wardrobe)     Genesis – Personally I think Genesis went downhill after Peter Gabriel left, what do you think? But this Gabriel era song is just sublime and what a fantastic title too

Metal Guru        T Rex – A song I used to mime to with my tennis racquet as a teenage wannabe rock star. So why did I go on to become a bloody accountant?

One Nation Under A Groove       Funkadelic - The ultimate dance song. I saw them live with companion band Parliament in 1978 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Still one of the best concerts I have ever seen

I Can See Clearly Now   Johnny Nash – This man has the voice of an angel, why are so few of his albums available on CD. Definitely one of my heroes, I reckon I would be lost for words if I met him

There Are More Questions Than Answers            Johnny Nash – A Texan singer that sings reggae? it shouldn’t work should it? But it does doesn’t it?

Solsbury Hill     Peter Gabriel – If I ever feel a bit down this is the song I play to pull myself back up. Written about his decision to leave Genesis just before they went towards mega stardom

I Was Watching You      Rosanne Cash – Regular readers will know that I have mentioned this song before. I do cry most times I listen to it and although it was released after his death it makes me think of my Dad

Hurt      Johnny Cash – Mr Cash covers a Trent Reznor off of the Nine Inch Nails song. You must be pretty hard if this doesn’t make you at least a tad emotional

The Man Who Sold The World    Lulu – One of the better covers of a Bowie song. If their respective labels had sanctioned it Mr Bowie was ready to record a whole album with Lulu. Sadly that didn’t happen

All The Young Dudes     Mott The Hoople – The greatest Bowie cover, in fact one of his greatest songs and he simply gave it to Mott!

Wishing Well     Free – Forget all the stuff he’s done with Queen, this was one of Paul Rodgers finest vocal performances

You Get What You Give        New Radicals – One of the most short-lived bands of the 90s, but what a legacy. Gregg Alexander also wrote (or co wrote) Ronan Keating’s ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ which I kind of like!

A Town Called Malice    Jam – Paul Weller. probably the greatest English rock star of his generation. I saw him live at the MEN in Manchester last year and he is even better in concert. Indeed he played this Jam classic too

The Look Of Love         ABC – For all my criticism of the 80s this song and the album it comes from (The Lexicon Of Love) is one of my favourites. Produced by the great Trevor Horn

Sheena Is A Punk Rocker          Ramones - 1, 2, 3, 4 and off da bruvvers go. Hey Ho Let’s Go is there really anything else to say?

Wuthering Heights         Kate Bush – Oh Kate my Lionheart, I love this woman and want to have her babies

The Man With The Child In His Eyes        Kate Bush – OK maybe I wouldn’t really do the male pregnancy thing with Kate, but she is definitely my favourite female singer

5.15      Who – My favourite song from the Who from my favourite of their albums, the classic ‘Quadraphenia’

Sugar Sugar      Archies – This was the first single I ever bought. I got it from Uxbridge market in 1969

Suedehead       Morrissey – For me Stephen can be a bit hit or miss but this is definitely on the hit side

William It Was Really Nothing     Smiths – How could I not include the Smiths in this list and yes I am being just a tad egotistical with this choice

New Years Day  U2 – The piano refrain is haunting in a rock kind of way. Also more ego coming out here too, my birthday is on new years day!

Justified And Ancient    KLF and Tammy Wynette - There will never be anyone like the KLF. Were they a band or just art terrorists? Who knows and frankly who cares when they left songs and collaborations like this behind!

You Got The Love         The Source Featuring Candi Staton – Another uplifting song, although personally I tend to ignore the religious aspects! Recently Florence And The Machine have recorded a great cover of this song

Gimme Shelter  Rolling Stones – For me this song, especially the riff, evokes the 60s

It’s Only Rock N Roll     Rolling Stones – Now this is another I used to mime to as a teenager, well ok I still do! It might not be a pretty sight but I love doing it!

Hurricane          Bob Dylan – Dylan at his best, when riled or when he gets political he is untouchable. This song was about the plight of wrongly imprisoned boxer Reuben Carter

You Wear It Well            Rod Stewart – Most people I know would opt for Maggie May from his early 70s hits, I always preferred this one. Possibly even worth forgiving him for the awful ‘Baby Jane’ for

Wish You Were Here        Pink Floyd – One of the Floyd’s greatest and another song that gets me just a little emotional

You Can Make Me Dance Sing Or Anything        Rod Stewart And The Faces – I bet you can’t not dance to this. It’s one of the last songs the Faces recorded before Ron Wood and Rod the Mod left. It shows them going in a direction which I think would have been so good

Itchycoo Park    Small Faces – I actually remember hearing this on the radio as a kid. I didn’t have a clue what the lyrics were about then and I don’t think I’m much wiser now! Don’t go near the atrocious cover version by M People

Lowdown          Boz Scaggs - Taken from the excellent Silk Degrees album from 1976 and the track I use to soundcheck any new hi-fi equipment even now

I’m Your Puppet            James And Bobby Purify – This was actually a rerecording of their original 60s song. Guilty pleasure or great soul song? I’ll let you decide, but either way I love it!

Olympian          Gene – probably the best of the ‘Britpop’ bands, well in my opinion anyway. Sadly the band are no longer around, but I did manage to see them three times while they were. Another song that I will have played at my funeral in the very distant future too

Born To Run      Bruce Springsteen – I was always going to include something from the Boss and it was always going to be this song

Lose Yourself   Eminem - In my opinion Mr Mathers is the greatest rapper, although Jay Z does push him close

Too Late To Turn Back Now       Cornelius Brothers And Sister Rose – It took me more than 20 years to track down this song and now when I listen to it I reckon it is definitely a guilty pleasure

Stay Together   Suede – The most Bowie influenced of the 90s British bands. The combination of Brett Anderson’s lyrics and vocals along with Bernard Butler’s guitar is truly awesome

Skin Trade        Duran Duran - A Duran Duran song in my top 100? Yeah that surprised me too

1999     Prince – I love a lot of Prince’s stuff, but this remains a great party track

Susan’s House  Eels – Mark Everett is a superb songwriter and this for me is one of his best. His autobiography is bloody good too

Take A Look Around      Temptations – A terrific Norman Whitfield production and that intro still blows me away!

Let’s Get It On   Marvin Gaye – This great song has recently been sullied by it’s use to advertise pizzas on UK TV (I think it might have been Dominoes) But it still remains a great song for seduction and lurve ;-)

The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage          Smokey Robinson And The Miracles – Bob Dylan once described Smokey as the worlds greatest living poet. Listen to this song and you can see why!

Gimme A Little Sign       Brenton Wood – A great example of 60s soul and the song I sing most in the shower (along with the Monkees ‘I’m A Believer’)

The Love You Save       Jackson 5 – Another classic written for the boys by the Motown house writers billed as the Corporation

Staggerlee        Lloyd Price – Another story song and I reckon the best version by far

Once In A Lifetime         Talking Heads – The ‘Heads finest moment for me. This song has everything and makes me happy everytime I hear it

Pyjamarama      Roxy Music – Roxy before they became bland and frankly shit!

Song 2    Blur – Funny isn’t how the songs with barely any lyrics often sound so good. Whoo Hoo indeed!

Double Barrel    Dave And Ansel Collins – Another slice of superb reggae. For years I thought these guys were brothers, they’re not. Actually it’s Ansel Collins and Dave Barker.

Sorted For E’s And Whizz          Pulp – Jarvis Cocker is a lyrical genius and this is Pulp’s best example of his way with words

Spinning Around           Kylie Minogue – OK so there is a certain appeal to the gold hot pants, but as modern disco goes this is brilliant. Gotta love Kylie!

Love Rollercoaster        Ohio Players – One of my favourite funk songs, expertly covered by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but it wasn’t a patch on the original

Hey Hey My My        Neil Young – A great song and one which found a degree of infamy as it was quoted in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note

Grace     Jeff Buckley – How big a star would he have been had he lived? Probably one og=f the biggest I think

Satellite Of Love           Lou Reed – Taken from the Transformer album which was produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Bowie on backing vocals

Hey Ya      Outkast – The ultimate party record of recent times, a great video too

Since I Left You            Avalanches – Aussie DJs/ dance act, I can’t believe that this wasn’t a bigger hit

Seven Nation Army        White Stripes – Jack White has recently been named man of the decade by some UK publications, perhaps with some justification. The riff alone on this is worth the top 100

White Horses      Jacky – OK clearly this theme from a 60s TV show (strangely enough it was called White Horses) is very much a guilty pleasure but I really love it. I think Jacky’s only other hit was ‘Rupert The Bear’

D’Yer Make ‘Er  Led Zeppelin – Taken from Houses Of The Holy and in many peoples opinion Zep’s worst song. But I like to be different and this piece of cod reggae is wonderfully irreverent

Wild Wood        Paul Weller – England’s finest living rock star perhaps? Well after Mr Bowie anyway

Stay With Me    Lorraine Ellison – How much emotion can you squeeze into a song, not much more than Lorraine Ellison does in fact. Ignore the David Essex cover of this song at all costs!

Young Americans    David Bowie – What he himself described as plastic soul and one of the songs I can recite the whole lyric of

 

Steal The Smile @ the FaceBar in Reading Thursday 2nd July 2009 July 8, 2009


STS at facebar 20090702

OK I’m a little later than planned with this review, but here it comes anyway. Many of you regular readers of this blog will know that I have shamelessly promoted this rather excellent band called Steal The Smile. I finally got to see them live last week. So have I given them a good review? well for that you’ll have to read on. Let me begin with the support bands;

First up were InColour. Sadly I only caught their last one and a half numbers but they sounded like a pretty good band, check them out on MySpace by clicking here. Sorry I missed the first part of your set guys.

Second were MotionInColour and as far as I know nothing to do with the first band apart from the similarity of names, boy this is confusing for an old bloke believe me! Anyway MotionInColour were pretty good, a really tight band with an excellent drummer. Shades of Counting Crows and perhaps Hootie and the Blowfish, although to be fair they are probably too young to remember either of those bands! They do have a great sound though soft acoustic building to pounding drums and great vocals. The singer also gave perhaps the best heckler put down of the night. One member of the audience showed the height of his intellectual abilities when he shouted “You suck” during a break between songs, without losing a breath the singer responded with “So did your mum last night” bloody sharp and bloody hilarious also a bloody good band. Click here to check out their MySpace page.

The penultimate band of the night were Francesqa, personally I’m not sure about the name, but hey, to each their own. Let’s face it both Radiohead with ‘On A Friday’ and Blur with ‘Seymour’ had far worse names before they changed. Francesqa are a pretty strong rock band, certainly their vocalist has a great voice and excellent audience interaction. The rhythm section work well together and provide an excellent engine for the band’s overall sound. I really like this band I’m just not keen on the name, check out their MySpace page here

OK so here we go with the main men of the night, the mighty Steal The Smile. Well let me start by using an American phrase that I really don’t use that often, these boys rock! I’ve said in previous posts about them (and there have been quite a few!) that they sound a little like Blink 182 although with a much more English identity, which is something I love. Far too many bands adopt fake American accents to sing, these guys are part of a great English rock tradition that stretches back to Syd Barrett and runs through the Clash, the Pistols and Paul Weller amongst others. They rock out in the way only English guys can!

Henry jumps to avoid some Ghostbusters style green ectoplasm!

Henry jumps to avoid some Ghostbusters style green ectoplasm!

It is clear that Steal The Smile have now been playing together for quite a while, their musicianship gets straight ‘A’s from me and they are developing a superb repertoire of their own songs. Their new single is fantastic, it’s called “Rome Was Built To Burn” and if you hurry to their MySpace page their may still be just a few copies left, otherwise you’ll just have to wait for their forthcoming EP. They played a few new songs including the excellent “What Would Elvis Do?” which you can currently hear on their MySpace page

Luke introduced a great cover version by telling the audience that if they didn’t recognise it they were ‘complete homos’ or that the band were perhaps playing it pretty crappily. Well even I recognised it so I guess I’m not a complete homo then! They also played it damned well, the song was Blink 182′s “All The Small Things”

Luke also has green ectoplasm problems at the FaceBar

Luke also has green ectoplasm problems at the FaceBar

So Steal The Smile are indeed a bloody good band, they can clearly cut it live as well as recording. Unlike some more successful bands who seem to have no sense of humour, these boys seem to have great fun on stage together too. Check them out on MySpace here, you WILL NOT be disappointed!

If you hurry you may still be able to purchase Steal The Smile's excellent new single "Rome Was Built To Burn"

If you hurry you may still be able to purchase Steal The Smile's excellent new single "Rome Was Built To Burn"

 

“Someday I’ll have a disappearing hairline, someday I’ll wear pyjamas in the daytime” June 5, 2009


Hello once again dear readers, like I’ve said before it is my aim to get back to more regular posting so here comes the second one for the Jumping month of June. I thought doing this post after a serious spillage incident on the train last week. There I was crammed into my tiny space (otherwise known as a seat) on the 7pm Kings Cross to York train with my nose in a good book (1983 by David Peace for those of you who asked!) Then lo and behold the coffee angel arrived in the aisle with the drinks trolley, now obviously I can’t resist a good coffee so obviously (a repeat word…… obviously) I had to order one, which I did, along with a Kit Kat. At the moment the Coffee Angel was about to place my drink on the pathetic excuse for a fold down table the train rocked (and not in a heavy musical way either) and faster than you can say Caffe Americano with a double shot I was the subject of a minor caffeine downpour. I thought it was rather amusing, my suit needed a dry clean anyway, but coffee angel was worried I was going to complain, but I didn’t and my reward was…….. a free Kit Kat and a fresh cup of coffee. Actually now Ive read that back it sounds dull enough to be condensed to 140 characters and posted on Twitter. But enough of that drivel during the rest of the journey I was moved to come up with a list of coffee related songs for this post. So without further adieu here they are and each one contains a frothy topping and a sprinkle of trivia.

The coffee was better in those days but clearly the coffee angels weren't!

The coffee was better in those days but clearly the coffee angels weren't!

First cup, er sorry first up is “Starfish And Coffee” which is obviously a favourite breakfast menu of ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Then Known As Roger Or Symbol And Now Known As Prince Again’ or TAFKAPTKAROSANKAPA for short. Prince’s sister is called Tyka, I wonder if her nickname was Chicken at school? Staying with Prince and a loosely related coffee theme, the diminutive one once wrote a song for Sheena Easton called “Sugar Walls” probably not the type of sugar you’d put in your coffee though. But there’s a prize to the first person to tell me what that song is about without the use of explicit language!

Prince had clearly overdone the froth on his Cappucino

Prince had clearly overdone the froth on his Cappucino

Second dose of caffeine is “Black Coffee In Bed” by Squeeze and written by the Lennon-McCartney of their generation; Difford-Tilbrook. They were joined by the rather talented Paul Carrack who in addition to Squeeze and as a solo artist has also had hits with Ace and Mike & The Mechanics. He has also played on sessions by many other bands including Roxy Music, The Smiths and the Pretenders. In a strange coincidence he also sang vocals and played keyboards on a relatively minor Mike & The Mechanics hit called “Another Cup Of Coffee”

You won't like him when he gets angry and Mr Carrack gets very angry if he has no caffeine

You won't like him when he gets angry and Mr Carrack gets very angry if he has no caffeine

The next one of our Barista favourites is “One More Cup Of Coffee” from the wonderful Mr Zimmerman or Bob Dylan to his friends. The song is taken from Dylan’s ‘Desire’ album and is a duet with Emmylou Harris. The song was covered extremely well by Jack and Meg on the first White Stripes album and is occasionally covered live by Calexico. Also none other than Robert ‘Percy’ Plant off of Led Zep recorded the song for his ‘Dreamland’ album in 2002. The song was written at a corner table in the ‘Other End’ nightclub in Greenwich Village New York. I was kind of hoping it had been written in a coffee bar!

Bob tries to find inspiration over a coffee..... come on Bob, Noel Gallagher sat at the same table and wrote "Roll With It"

Bob tries to find inspiration over a coffee..... come on Bob, Noel Gallagher sat at the same table and wrote "Roll With It"

The next one of our old beans in this post is the excellent Canadian band the Crash Test Dummies. Their biggest hit in the UK was “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” but they also released a song called “Afternoons And Coffee Spoons” Both songs were taken from their excellent album ‘God Shuffled His Feet’ In 1995 they recorded a splendid cover of XTC’s “The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead” for the Jim Carrey movie ‘Dumb And Dumber’

In the early days the band even dressed as Crash test Dummies and it certainly didn't harm their pulling power judging from this picture

In the early days the band even dressed as Crash test Dummies and it certainly didn't harm their pulling power judging from this picture

The next act to bring us a cuppa is Holly Johnson off of Frankie Goes To Hollywood with his solo single “Americanos” It was Holly’s second solo hit and reached number 4 in the UK charts. It also features on the soundtrack to the 1989 movie ‘Cookie’ which starred Emily Lloyd, Peter Falk and Jerry Lewis. I know that strictly speaking the song is not about coffee, well not even strictly speaking, it’s actually got nothing to do with coffee. But Caffe Americano is undoubtedly my favourite coffee so I had to include it here. I always drink it black (often with an extra shot) with no sugar and many coffee houses (in this case Costa Coffee) give this an acronym of BAM (as in Black Americano). This lead to me gaining the nickname BAM BAM Bill for a while. Maybe not a great nickname but at least it wasn’t Pebbles! Over the years I have also noticed that black coffee seems to be the drink of choice for the majority of Project and Programme Managers. Does anyone agree?

"Relax" said Holly as he ordered coffees for him and his 'flat' mate Ronnie

"Relax" said Holly as he ordered coffees for him and his 'flat' mate Ronnie

I like a cup of coffee when I am deeply engrossed in a good book but Blur clearly prefer theirs in front of the telly! Well judging from their song “Coffee And TV” Vocals on the verses were from Graham Coxon and  Damon Albarn sang the chorus. the lyrics were all Graham’s and apparently deal with his attempt to give up alcohol. The video for the song features a milk carton called Milky which was created by ‘Jim Henson’s Creature Shop’ Blur were originally called Seymour, I’m not sure that works as well as Blur though. I have seen them live twice at festivals, once with Graham and once without. I certainly prefer them with Graham in the band. So it’s great news that they are reunited for a few gigs this year and possibly some new recording too.

Now either he's really excited or they're both seriously injured

Now either he's really excited or they're both seriously injured

The final coffee song in this post is one of my favourites, it’s by the minimally named ‘A’ from Leeds and it’s called “Starbucks“. The original members of the band included three brothers; Jason, Giles and Adam Perry. Since the band took a hiatus (is that code for breaking up?) Jason has worked with Matt Willis off of Busted and has also produced for McFly! Jason do us all a favour and get ‘A’ back together and stop working with these pop muppets! But to be fair Charlie off of Busted’s current band Fightstar are quite good! (Did I really just say that?)

With the proceeds of the single the band bought the worlds first Starbucks Jet Pack

With the proceeds of the single the band bought the worlds first Starbucks Jet Pack

So do you have any favourite coffee songs or indeed favourite coffees? Let me know by adding your choices in the comments

No it was just the earth moving for Milky in the Blur video

No it was just the earth moving for Milky in the Blur video

I will end this post by saying a big thank you to those wonderful people at ‘Dusk’ in York where I did many of my early posts in this blog. Excellent coffee, good food, free wifi (are you reading this Starbucks?) and great company. Check them out and if you know their web address please let me know

Dusk in York

Dusk in York

 

“Peter Pan steals the kids in Kensington Park” April 23, 2009


Hello good people, especially the good people of England, my home! It’s our national saint’s day today, that’ll be Saint George! As most of you know I don’t do religion, however I do see this as a day that the English people should reclaim the flag from the far right thugs and fascists who seem to think that it is their flag and no one elses. So wear or display your cross of Saint George with pride!

The English flag it's for the English not just the racists and fascists of the BNP and their ilk

The English flag it's for the English not just the racists and fascists of the BNP and their ilk

OK I’m flying the flag on the blog, now do your bit! I know there is a lot wrong with this country, but their are a lot of good things too. I’m proud to be English but not afraid to criticise it sometimes. I believe that true patriotism goes way beyond the Dubya model.

While we’re at it, did you know which one of more than 200 countries that entered the 2006 Football World Cup qualifiers does not have either it’s own passport or it’s own national anthem. OK I’ll put you out of your misery quickly, it is in fact England. I have a British passport, not an English one and our national anthem is “God Save The Queen” which is the British national anthem! It’s also so dull an dreary it would be a good funeral dirge.

So let’s choose a new English National Anthem, here are a few suggestions from me and I’d love to hear yours too;

1 “Oh England My Lionheart” – Kate Bush

2 “Albion” – Babyshambles

3 “God Save The Queen” – Sex Pistols

4 “This Is England” – The Clash

5 “Vindaloo” – Fat Les

6 “Parklife” – Blur

7 “Three Lions” – Baddiel & Skinner & the Lightning Seeds

8 “Roots” – Show Of Hands

9 “England, Half English” – Billy Bragg

10 “The Queen Is Dead” – The Smiths

OK the songs I have chosen are not necessarily anthemic but in their own way they do represent England, well at least to me anyway! So now it’s over to you for your selections and don’t forget to vote on mine below!

 

 
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