Friday, 26 May 2017

My Top Ten Roger Moore Songs

The best tribute I've read to Sir Roger Moore came from The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, who concluded: "The Connery Bond was feared and admired... but the Roger Moore Bond was loved."

Roger Moore was the Bond of my childhood, and he will always be my Bond. Yes, those films might seem cheesy and corny now, they certainly don't have the grit of Connery, but they have a lot more warmth. And let's face it: Bond is essentially a ludicrous character. He works if you play him with a raised eyebrow (and no one had better eyebrows than Roger Moore), but take him too seriously and he becomes an unpleasantly violent, misogynist killer with little regard for the lives of innocents... which pretty much sums up the last two Daniel Craig films for me.

10. ELO - Can't Get It Out Of My Head

Sir Roger's first starring role on TV was in a BBC children's series based on Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Way before my time, but probably not before Jeff Lynne's...
Bank job in the city
Robin Hood and William Tell
And Ivanhoe and Lancelot
They don't envy me...
Apparently, Roger felt "a complete Charlie riding around in all that armour and damned stupid plumed helmet".

9. Robbie Williams - The World's Most Handsome Man

I know lots of people can't do with Robbie's cheeky chappie routine, or his humongous ego... but I find both quite endearing... in small doses... because I really don't think he takes himself at all seriously. Just like Sir Roger...
Y'all know who I am
I'm still the boy next door
That's if you're Lord Litchfield and Roger Moore...
8. The Toy Dolls - James Bond Lives Down Our Street

I tried to avoid songs that just reference James Bond for this chart: there are loads of them and I wanted my tribute to be more about Roger than his most famous role. However, The Toy Dolls do mention Roger (and Sean) in this ridiculous cartoon punk song, so...

7. Mansun - Moronica

Roger wasn't just Bond. Here's Paul Draper name-dropping the role that made him famous... The Saint.
You've got more halos than Simon Templar
You've said more Betty's than Frankie Spencer
Your gun is bigger than Captain Scarlet's
Your face is covered in cheap mascara
6. Scouting For Girls - I Wish I Was James Bond

As if Robbie Williams wasn't bad enough, let's further irk the musos with a pure slice of noughties piano pop. In my defence, Scouting For Girls may be annoyingly catchy, but they don't really sound like anything else that's been successful in the 21st Century. In fact, they remind me of Gerard Kenny...
Since I was a boy I wanted to be like Roger Moore
A girl in every port, and gadgets up my sleeve
5. Supergrass - Prophet 15

In which Gaz Coombes gets trapped in a cloud with an eclectic selection of heroes, including Peter Cooke, Oscar Wilde, Marvin Gay, Joan Of Arc, David Banner... and good old Rog.

4. The Kinks - Daylight

Being one of the greatest chroniclers of the English disease, it's inevitable that Ray Davies should namedrop Roger at some point...
Middle-aged bankers crack their backs and wish they were young and in their teens,
Lonely spinsters dream of dating Roger Moore or Steve McQueen.
3. Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

When asked why he thought Amy had included him in the lyrics of her hit single, Roger quipped that she must have wanted a word that rhymed with 'door'... or couldn't think of one that rhymed with 'Connery'.
By the time I'm out the door,
You tear men down like Roger Moore...
2. Pulp - 97 Lovers

Originally released in 1986 (yes, Pulp were around back then: this was just before their second album), just after my Bond hung up his Walther PPK for good. Roger Moore apparently hated guns and was often quoted, post-Bond, saying how he hated the way the franchise glamorised "men with guns". Maybe that's why he played up the comedic elements of the character. And I'm sure that's why he appealed to Jarvis, who always likes a good Roger...
I know a woman with a picture of Roger Moore 
In a short towel and dressing-gown pinned to her bedroom wall
She married a man who works on a building site
Now they make love beneath Roger every Friday night... oh!
1. Wings - Live & Let Die / Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better

The two best Bond themes of the Moore era, from the band The Beatles could have been and the lady who found clouds in her coffee...

Now put your clothes on and I’ll buy you an ice cream.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

May #2: Laughing & Crying With Brad

First off, I know: that is one freakin' awful album cover. I mean, you already decided not to bother with this post, right? And if that wasn't enough... this is Brad Paisley. The current king of Nashville. Glossy, corporate country music with not a drop of authentic Americana in sight. I should stop right here...



I love Brad Paisley. He's not only my favourite contemporary country star, he's also become one of my favourite recording artists of the 21st Century. He seems like a genuine bloke, not a spangly Stetson poster boy; a singer who's got where he is by playing all the obvious country cards... then opening up a second pack and dealing out songs about subjects country music rarely covers. The internet. The environment. Workplace sexism. Near death experiences. Bad people winning lotteries. Searching each other for ticks as a prelude to getting it on...

Brad regularly manages to make me laugh... and cry. Big, genuine, monster pipette tears. Yeah, I know, I cry a lot these days. At the stupidest things. I keep meaning to do a Top Ten Songs That Make Me Bawl Every Time I Hear Them... but I'm worried it would be too traumatic to listen to them all back-to-back.

Anyway, here's a song that has managed to evoke both those reactions... which you've got to admit is pretty rare. But it's probably just me...

2. Brad Paisley - Last Time For Everything

The tears came first. I was driving to work when I first listened to this song. And here was Brad - who's exactly the same age as me, minus six months - listing all the great experiences in his life that he'll never have again. That's what this song is about, beginning with the big teenage experiences that you quickly grow out of... or no longer need to worry about...
Using a fake ID at a college bar
Getting caught with a girl in the backseat of a car
Running out on the field for the senior game wearing number 17
There's a last time for everything
Yes, they're very American experiences. But I grew up in the 80s, my teenage years were filtered through over-exposure to American TV shows and teen movies. I can relate. Things get more universally emotive in verse three when Brad evokes memories of your grandparents and first pet you'll never see again. But it's the last verse when he really kicked me in the gut...
Kissing goodbye on her porch and driving away
Introducing her as your fiancee
Getting woke up at 5 am to see if Santa came
There's a last time for everything
Throughout the song he namedrops a couple of artists no longer with us - Glen Frey and Little Jimmy Dickens - remembering the last time he saw them perform live. We're reminded that any time could be our last time, for anything. Something I guess we've all thought about this week. So the song's final line... well, I won't spoil it, but by then I was blubbing. (And remember: this guy is called Brad Paisley...)

OK, so here's the song. I'm sure you won't end up a quivering mess like I did, but give it a try...

Then... prepare yourself for the actual video. Which turned the song on its head for me and actually had me grinning, even laughing by the end. Again, I'm the same age as Brad, so the cultural references he chooses to pepper the visuals with are right up my street. Knight Rider. Ghostbusters. Back To The Future. Raleigh Choppers and Sony Walkmans. Even a bit of Huey Lewis & The News. (Plus, as you may have already noticed, the song is built round a guitar riff which melds Run To You with Every Breath You Take.) But this time the kicker comes with the video's wonderfully timed celebrity cameo - a fluke, as it turns out, since the celeb in question apparently just turned up when he heard Paisley was filming because he's a big fan. It'll only make you really smile if you're the same age as me and Brad... but I watched the video four times in a row the day I discovered it. (If you dig it, make you sure watch right to the very end.)

Nostalgia's weird. It can make you laugh and cry in the same song. Enjoy it while you can.

This could be the last time... I don't know.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

May #3: If It's Wednesday, Mark Kozelek Probably Has A New Album Out

3. Sun Kil Moon - Seventies TV Show Theme Song

I gave this post that title as a jokey reference to the fact that Mark Kozelek has now stolen Prince's crown as the most (over?)-productive songwriter / musician in the music business. I mean, this guy makes Ryan Adams look like Evan Dando. (That's a muso joke. I figure I can get away with  a muso joke on a Sun Kil Moon post.) Ironically though, as I sat down to write about the new Sun Kil Moon album - which, to be fair, came out in February, so I admit to being behind the curve - I discovered Kozelek had actually released another new record that very day (a second collaboration with ex-Godflesh rocker Jesu). Keeping up with Mark Kozelek is becoming a full time occupation: I may have to quit my job.

The weird thing is, I only really got into Kozelek a couple of years back when Steve recommended Benji as one of his favourite albums of 2014. I fell in love with that album and MK's rambling, stream of consciousness narratives about all the people who'd died in his life in the last few years. For an album centred around death it was both very funny and packed with honest human detail. It sounded real. Realer than Richie Manic carving '4 Real' into his arm, albeit not quite as rock 'n' roll.

Since then, I've gobbled up anything I could get my hands on from Kozelek, some of which has left me cool (Benji's immediate follow-up, Universal Themes), some of which left me more than pleasantly surprised (Mark Kozelek Sings Favourites, last year's piano-based covers album which I listened to for about 6 months).

Which brings us to Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood, which could well be as good as Benji, though in a very different way. It's a lot funnier than Benji, for a start. Kozelek has refined the rambling to the point it sounds like a well-planned stand up routine in places. Elsewhere, it's as dark and angry and personal as you'd expect. All human life is here, from hometown nostalgia to true crime to Donald Trump to transgender bathrooms to the nice letter a promoter sent Mark one time after a show. Whatever Kozelek wants to sing / talk / rap about, he does... often in the same song. Because he does not have an off button. This album has 16 tracks, the shortest of which is just over 5 minutes in duration. The longest, almost three times that. Listen to the whole album in one go and... well, I've been on shorter holidays. If Mark Kozelek hadn't become a songwriter, he'd have been an excellent blogger.

This is a record I've enjoyed a lot over the last few weeks, and I suspect I'll keep listening to it for a good long while because there's so much in it to discover. It's also a lot more immediate than some of his other albums. I didn't have to work at it; tracks like the one below, I loved the first time I heard them. Maybe you will too. I dunno... maybe not.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Randy Tuesdays #6: Why Don't You Cut Your Hair?

6. The Monkees - Alternative Title (Randy Scouse Git) 

As has been previously established by Kenny Wednesdays, I can also feature songs with Randy in the title in this feature. So you may have been expecting this one... except that, of course, it wasn't called Randy Scouse Git on the radio as the record company thought the title might lose the song airplay in the UK. The irony being, of course, that Micky Dolenz stole the title from Alf Garnett in Til' Death Us Do Part, so British audiences were well used to hearing it.

I do like a bit of timpani...

Sunday, 21 May 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #7: In The Beginning...

It should come as no surprise to me that last week's radio post drummed up a few memories. It made me happy to hear how radio reminded you all so much of growing up, of listening late at night under the covers, of your parents and families...

Me too. Here are a few of my earliest radio memories:

  • Terry Wogan in the morning before school. I wrote about Tel last year on his untimely passing. He started on the Radio 2 breakfast show in 1972, the year I was born, so he was there all through my childhood. We were never a Radio 1 household, my parents being that much old and my brother and sister both having left home, so Terry's musical choices helped shaped my own in my formative years.
  • Jimmy Young after Terry. I remember hearing the famous Terry / JY handovers a lot when I wasn't at school. I remember my dad had a radio in his shed and he listened to JY in there once he retired from the motor trade (when I was a teenager) and went back to being a joiner. JY's musical choices were a bit more old school than Terry's, so he was more likely to play my dad's favourite: Frank Sinatra. If the radio wasn't on in my dad's shed, you could place money on the chances of him whistling Strangers In The Night to himself... if the circular saw wasn't whirring.
  • John Dunn and Ray Moore too. Oh my father had a rabbit and he thought it was a duck...
  • Friday Night Is Music Night. My dad worked as an auctioneer for a big motor auction company before being made redundant when I was about 7. After that, he set up his own car auctions (with a couple of former colleagues), though it was a bit of a struggle to get that business off the ground at first. They couldn't even afford a cleaner, so dad, mum and me used to go over there after school on a Friday night and clean the offices, stopping off for fish and chips on the way home. Friday Night Is Music Night reminds me of that, and my dad's love of the big bands. He was a trombone player himself when he was a kid and I followed his footsteps into the local brass band as a teenager, playing tenor horn. 
  • Late night radio. I'm not sure I remember exactly who was on Radio 2 at nights when I was a kid (I should probably look it up), but I do know that from an early age I kept my bedside clock radio on all through the night. Not for me, hiding the pocket-sized tranny under the covers. Late night radio was legit in my house... maybe that explains why I still need music to help me get to sleep forty years later. More on that another time though...

In the meantime, here's another favourite radio song. Art Alexakis from Everclear is a little bit older than me, probably nearer the age of some of you guys who left comments last time. His radio flashback begins in 1970 when all we had was the AM radio (or Medium Wave, as it was known in my house).

7. Everclear - A.M. Radio
I'd be in bed with the radio on
I would listen to it all night long
Just to hear my favorite song
You'd have to wait till you could hear it on the
AM radio

Friday, 19 May 2017

My Top Ten Paper Round Songs

I never had a paper round when I was a kid. I did, however, have a special fascination with the newsagents where I bought my weekly Spider-Man comics... I even went and interviewed the owner, Mr. Hudson, about his job, for a school project.

Here are ten songs about getting your papers delivered... which, I guess, not many people do these days. Bloody internet.

Special mention to Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, someone who's definitely worthy of further investigation, if Name Calling is anything to go by.

10. Jilted John - The Paperboy Song

Graham Fellows never fails to make me laugh. I love his description of getting his papers from the newsagents...
I walk into the paper shop
And say good morning, Keith
"Good morning, Keith!"
"Good afternoon!" Keith would shout.
Keith marked the papers out
A boy called Gary helped him
But he just pissed about.
9. The Marvelettes - Paper Boy

Not content with pestering the postman, The Marvelettes also went after the paper boy...

8. Soft Cell - Kitchen Sink Drama

A lonely housewife who imagines herself as Elizabeth Taylor has an eye on the paper boy while her husband's out at work. Does exactly what it says on the tin. 

7. The Courteeners - Take Over The World

He's only a paper boy from the north west, but he scrubs up pretty fine in his Sunday best.

Liam Fray may be a bit of an egomaniac, but he does know how to write a good song.

6. July Talk - Paper Girl

OK, here's my discovery of the week. While researching this post, even though I had loads of songs to go at from my own collection, I couldn't think of any that featured Paper Girls. So I did a little search and came up with this Canadian alt-rock band who are pretty amazing. In fact, I just bought their first album. Can't afford their second one (from last year) just yet, but it'll be on my wishlist if the tracks I've heard so far are anything to go by. Love the mix of vocals by Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis, who sounds not unlike this next gentleman...

5. Tom Waits - Saving All My Love For You

Not the Whitney Houston song... but wouldn't it be cool if Tom covered that?

Anyway, here he gets up so early that everyone's sleeping but the paper boys... poor kids are gonna be scared out of their wits if they bump into Tom on their round.

4. Guillemots - Made Up Love Song #43

My favourite Guillemots song. I love its theme of finding magic in the everyday, even if it can't help but remind me of the end of American Beauty.
You got me off the paper round
Just sprang out of the air
The best things come from nowhere
I love you, I don't think you care
3. Morrissey - I Have Forgiven Jesus

Much has been made lately of the fact that Morrissey is actually a bit of a dick. Even my (local) poetry hero Simon Armitage, on his recent 6Music show, after saying how Morrissey and Dylan were the two songwriters he felt were closest to being actual poets... then went on to remark, "Morrissey, who I had the great pleasure of meeting earlier this year... hmm." Never meet your heroes, Simon!

Anyway, despite all this, Moz will always be the second most important songwriter in my record collection, and I'll always love him for songs like this... which at the time of its release spoke to me more than just about any other song I'd ever heard.
I was a good kid,
I wouldn't do you no harm,
I was a nice kid, 

With a nice paper round
Forgive me any pain,
I may have brung to you,
With God's help I know,
I'll always be near to you...
Don't worry, Moz. I'll always forgive you. 

2. Don McLean - American Pie

There are whole websites devoted to the lyrics of American Pie. I'm not sure why, its meaning seems pretty straightforward to me: the British Invasion stealing away the American monopoly on rock 'n' roll soon after Buddy Holly's death. It all begins though with a very young Don delivering the fateful headlines that mark "the day the music died". No wonder February made him shiver. 

1. David Bowie - Modern Love

Of course, we should never take Bowie's lyrics literally. However, the intro to Modern Love always puts a very specific image in my head of the Dame chasing after his paper boy, presumably for chucking his copy of the Observer into the rose bushes outside Bowie Towers one time too many. He knows when to stay in; he knows when to go out... he definitely knows how to catch a paper boy.

If your paper round went past David Bowie's house, you'd have probably wished he would chase after you. That'd be the equivalent of having Prince turn up on your doorstep on a Sunday morning with a copy of Watchtower.

Which one gets ink on your fingers?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

May #4: Huey Au Naturel

4. Huey Lewis & The News - Naturally

These guys were one of my favourite bands when I was growing up, and the album Fore! remains one of my favourite albums of the 80s. There is no better feel good band than Huey Lewis & The News. They make me smile just thinking about them; Huey was and is a thoroughly likable, all-round decent bloke with zero pretensions.

I'm sure you know all the singles from the album, and love them as much as I do. If not, drink lots of water and seek medical assistance immediately. Hip To Be Square. Simple As That. Stuck With You. The Power Of Love. (If you don't love The Power Of Love, your doctor cannot help you. Try a shaman, visit Tibet or consult a ouija board.) You may, however, be unfamiliar with Naturally. You poor, poor thing.

When Sam was a tiny baby, just out of the hospital and trying to settle into a sleep pattern (we can't complain: compared to most babies, he's been pretty much a champion sleeper), I used to sing this to him at bed time. I probably didn't do it justice like Huey and the guys did. 80s doo wop doesn't come any finer than this...

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