Friday, 23 February 2018

Yesterday's Next Big Things #1: Spector

Because one can never have too many sporadic series that fizzle out and then crop up again when you least expect them, I present: Yesterday's Next Big Things. Bands that those-in-the-know tipped to be huge... who then promptly fizzled away into nothing. Because, as Elvis sang...

You better speak up now, it won't mean a thing later
Yesterday's news is tomorrow's fish and chip paper

I thought I'd start with Spector, a band with the dubious rock 'n' roll chops to name themselves after a musical genius... and murdering psychopath. Well, it's one better than Mansun.

Back in 2012, the Grauniad described Spector as "somewhere between Roxy Music and the Strokes, The Killers and Kanye West, Pulp and Frank Sinatra". Come on, muso-critics: why not chuck Jesus Christ, Buddah and Shirley Bassey in there while you're at it?

I quite liked the band's first album, although they doomed themselves by calling it 'Enjoy It While It Lasts', because after "storming" into the UK album chart at Number 11, they promptly disappeared into semi-obscurity. The follow-up arrived with little fanfare in 2015... so little fanfare that writing this post is the first I'd heard of it. They're still in the go, apparently, but so far have yet to scratch their way into the pop consciousness the way the artists mentioned above did. Still, I like to think there's still time.

Anyway, because it'd Friday... have this. Don't listen too closely to the lyrics... they might also be seen as prophesying a fast fade out.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

My Top Ten Square Songs

Ten songs for squares. Special mention to L7, obviously.

10. Love & Money - Jocelyn Square

Better than most of the singles that made the Top 40 in 1989... so obviously it made #51.

I still live on Jocelyn Square, nothing much has really changed
I still think about you, but only really when it rains
Sometimes you don't know something's open till it shuts
I loved you so much, I hated your guts

9. Iggy Pop - Squarehead

I think I should start reserving one place on every Top 10 for Iggy, even for his late 80s output which the cool kids will tell you is not all that good. If the song doesn't do it for you, take a look at this...

What do you want: blood?

8. Blondie - Contact In Red Square

Anyone seen the movie Atomic Blonde? It's basically "What if Debbie Harry was James Bond?" They really should have found room for this in the soundtrack...

Although I'm young I got a job to do
Hid the microfilm in the lining of my shoe
Call it a business trip
Got to hide inside my trench coat and be clever
I got my papers and a cyanide pill
My Polaroid's a taser in disguise
There's a base in the hills
And the wheat fields looks like Kansas in November

7. The Beta Band - Squares 

Owes quite a lot to Daydream, a 1969 Belgian hit by The Wallace Collection (which in turn lifted its melody from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake) that also inspired I Monster's Daydream In Blue.

6. Emily Kinney - Times Square

Just lovely. Why isn't she a bigger star?

5. The Boo Radleys - The Old Newsstand at Hamilton Square

Great John Barry-esque tune from the final Boo Radleys album.

Sad songs are easier to play, I'm afraid...

4. The Wonder Stuff - Circlesquare

I've been a long-term disappointment to myself...

'Nuff said.

3. Harry Connick Jr. - A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

Yeah, I know, Frank's version is far superior, but I have a special fondness for Harry's take. It's just so... lounge.

2. Elvis Presley - (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care

Listen to the bassline in this. Guess who played it. Only bloody Elvis!

Of course, it took me many years of therapy to get over the Shreddies version. I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible. Because of that, I still believe there's a line in the original about not liking toast and jam. (There isn't.)

Much better is The Primitives' cover from The Last Temptation of Elvis.

1. Huey Lewis & The News - Hip To Be Square

You see... I dunno... I dunno how you could possibly listen to this and not think it's one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded. I mean, I'm sure you'll tell me otherwise and I'm a square for loving it, but I don't mind. It's hip to be square!

Which song makes you happy to be square?

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #17: World Of Hurt

I was 27 when I figured out
That blowing my brains out wasn't the answer
So I decided, maybe I should find a way
To make this world work out for me...

Sometimes you just press random on the cloud and the perfect song comes up to put a shine on the end of a shitty day. This came on on Monday night, Patterson Hood at his best. Cynical, world-weary, yet not giving up...

And my good friend Paul was 83
When he told me that, "To love is to feel pain"
I thought about that a lot back then
I think about that again and again...

I'm a sucker for songs where the singer just mutters the verses at you, only bothering to sing the actual chorus. Some people might call it lazy; I call it honest.

Believe it or not, this is a love song. A lot more honest than most of the love songs you hear on the radio.

Remember, it ain't too late to take a deep breath
And throw yourself into it with everything you got
It's great to be alive...

Or maybe it's just me. (I'm starting to think that should be my sign off line on this blog.)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #96

96 could only have been one song, but there have been many fine versions over the years... so which is my favourite?

Chris and The Swede both went for the original by ? & The Mysterians, one of the original garage bands, led by the very Jagger-esque Rudy Martinez.

Lynchie suggested a live version by Richard Thompson & David Byrne - now there's an unbeatable team-up! Suits them both very well.

C went for Big Maybelle's version - never heard that before, but it's a cracker.

Charity Chic introduced me to Eddie & The Hot Rods take on it... very good too.

Swiss Adam suggested the Primal Scream cover... pretty trippy... I always like it when the Scream go mental like this.

Nobody went for the other two versions in my record collection: Garland Jeffreys or The Inspiral Carpets, but both are worth the odd spin. (That organ solo must have been irresistible to Clint Boon!)

Once you start digging around on youtube, you can find all manner of treats, including Aretha, Iggy... even Bruce. But for me, it goes back to my first love. The version I first heard. The version I bought on 7" inch single back in 1990. Congrats to Alyson and Rigid Digit for guessing right this week.

Take it away, Hugh...

95's going to be a bit tougher to guess, I reckon. Any takers?

Monday, 19 February 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #16 - Monday (Every Time I Turn Around)

These guys are The Bottle Rockets, a band I came across on a free sampler compilation from Bloodshot Records that Charity Chic pointed me in the direction of. You can find it here.

You know when you're a kid and the older generation tell you to enjoy those endless days of youth that seen to last forever, because all too soon your time will speed up and you won't know where it's all gone? This one seems appropriate for today...

Tuesday means the weekends almost here.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday disappear.
Well Saturday means Sunday's almost in the rearview mirror.
The future's certain end is always
It goes so fast it won't slow down.
It's Monday everytime I turn around.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #20 - The Answers

Sunday morning. No video games... just snapshot answers.

10. Paddington loves... a mirror of memories.

Marmalade - Reflections Of My Life

First point to Lynchie.

9. Russian prostitutes want you to dress like Prince.

Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple

Half a point each to C and CC.

8. At home in the vineyard: I really am rubbish... aren't I?

Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

First point of the week to Chris.

7. The way we say thank you differs in many places. Anyone seen Gabriel?

Ta varies.

Please yourself.

Tavares - Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel

Second point to Lychie.

6. Prisoner Pat finds new job in elementary house.

A little deduction required for this one.

Some time after The Prisoner TV show finished, Patrick McGoohan appeared in a short-lived US TV series called Rafferty.

Sherlock Holmes lived on Baker Street. Elementary, my dear Watson.

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

(Bob Holness on sax, of course.)

Congrats to Lynchie for puzzling that one out.

5. Take a train to a southern amusement park... but don't tell the missus!

The train mentioned above, from which the band took their name, was called The Kursaal Flyer.

Kursaal Flyers - Little Does She Know

Well done to The Swede, beating George to it by about 90 seconds.

4. Iron Man goes fawlty over the mouse.

Tony Stark + Basil Fawlty + Mickey Mouse...

Toni Basil - Mickey

Another point to Chris - doing very well this week.

3. Mad King balances Yin & Yang with his wrecking crew.

The Mad King was George.

Balancing Yin & Yang would be (Thoro)Good & Bad (To The Bone).

George Thorogood & The Destroyers - Bad To The Bone

Lynchie knew this one, but C beat him to it.

2. Innoculation for scuba divers.

The Vaccines - Wet Suit

Another point for Chris!

1. He's desperate to join the Beach Boys - could use a rosary!

If Desperate Dan became a Wilson, perhaps he could join The Beach Boys.

The Rosary is a prayer to the Virgin Mary.

Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer

Final point to Lynchie, making him this week's winner, just ahead of Chris. Well done, everybody.

More nonsense next Saturday.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #20

Another week bites the dust... time for Saturday Snapshots.

Identify ten artists and their top tunes from the clues below...

10. Paddington loves... a mirror of memories.

9. Russian prostitutes want you to dress like Prince.

8. At home in the vineyard: I really am rubbish... aren't I?

7. The way we say thank you differs in many places. Anyone seen Gabriel?

6. Prisoner Pat finds new job in elementary house.

5. Take a train to a southern amusement park... but don't tell the missus!

4. Iron Man goes fawlty over the mouse.

3. Mad King balances Yin & Yang with his wrecking crew.

2. Innoculation for scuba divers.

1. He's desperate to join the Beach Boys - could use a rosary!

Simples... as the meerkats have it.

Answers Sunday morning.

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