Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Best Albums of 2008 Not Released in 2008

Peter is pondering the continued loss of Peel, and may well step into the breach with some kind of end-of-year eyebrow raising top three hundred songs of 2008, but only those based on some ctiteria like 'Top Songs Related to Murder but Done in a Jaunty Way-2008'. As my continued exile from all new music looks set to continue for the immediate future, my end of year charts would comprise of albums that I only got round to discovering in 2008. Musos may well shudder in their anoraks and wonder how I could have made it this far without such discs, but I'm ready to zip up the parker hood of destiny and struggle on without being told what to listen to.

Who would have thought that Blue Peter would have a musical influence. The first time I ever saw Jerry Lee Lewis on the telly was on Peter Azul. Jerry was sandwiched between a spot on collecting freezer tags to alleviate suffering in western Hudan, and a nice little segment on how to make sorin gas from old socks. Jerry came on and pounded the piano rather unlike the woman at school who played in morning assembly. Having been a fan for many years (of Jerry's, not the woman from school assembly) it's strange I only came across his Live at The Star Club this year, a good 44 years after it was recorded. Sadly I can't find a video clip from the show, so you'l have to make do with audio only. I think the band are hanging on for dear life.
Jerry Lee Lewis live at The Star Club, Hamburg, 1964

I'm a bit like my Dad in respect to violence on the telly and in films. Unlike him I can stomach slightly more than the Little Mermaid, but I do wonder what sick bastards dream up stuff like Saw 3 or what sick bastards watch it. I found myself watching a nasty little film by Rob Zombie (surely that's enough of a clue to turn over to something else?) one night, about a group of travelling sick bastards who do sick bastardly things to innocent strangers. It was called the Devil's Rejects, the follow up to his previous meditation on life and death - House of a Thousand Corpses.I'd rather not remember anything else about the film, apart from the soundtrack. Apart from gems like Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers, it also featured songs by Terry Reid. Terry who, you might ask, unless you are peeking out from behind the furry hood of your perma wearing anorak (there seems to be a hood theme developing), or have been around a long time, or just know more than me.

If Wikipedia is to be believed he turned down a request from Jimmy Page to be the singer in his new band (and suggested Robert Plant), and also once turned down Deep Purple. He has supported the Rolling Stones and appeared on albums by Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt. He sounds like that bloke who gets into photos with every new president of the USA but nobody knows who he is. Anyway, to return to the travelling sick bastardly bastards in the dastardly devilish Devil's Rejects, it was his song To be Treated Rite that really got my attention. It's of an album called Seed of Memory from 1976, produced by his mate Graham Nash, with one of the all time worst sleeve covers. He has a voice I think you either like or dislike, but it's certainly not run-of-the-mill. So he's my second choice for my best album of the year not released in 2008. The echo-ey flute type sound in this song (I'm not exactly sure of the title but it's off the album) could well be provided by Ron Bergundy.

Terry Reid, The Devil's Rejects closing credits

My third choice for best album not released in 2008 would be Ray LaMontagne, either his 2004 album Trouble (apart from Ron Sexsmith's Whereabouts this is the only album that can reduce me to tears), or his 2006 follow up Till The Sun Turns Black . His was one of the strangest gigs I ever went to, as the mood was almost reverential. He was not an artist of twenty years renown, visiting the UK after a long absence, so it was strange to see an audience so mesmerised and quiet. The spaces between songs were usually filled with the sound of Ray's breathing, as he seemingly struggled to find the confidence to say something. At one point, a member of the bar staff dropped something and was promptly shhhhhushed by someone in the crowd.

I often think singer songwriter types like Ray, particularly if they get a bit of relatively mainstream success, often suffer critically. The true folk or country set won't touch them for being too pop, and the alt set won't touch them for not being alt enough. If they are embraced by the Blunt/Alanis cd buying middlers they end up being incorrectly tagged and lose credibility.

What makes Ray different is that he is the real deal. He appears to dislike the attention and doesn't play the publicity game, can't be in it for the money, so one must assume he's in it for the music, which sounds sentimental but appears, on the surface at least, to be true. His starting point is Tree Top Flyer by Stephen Stills, which is a good place to come from.

Be Here Now by Ray LaMontagne

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Its not an anniversary, I guess if anything the Festive 50 approaches and it gets you thinking, but for me it was the mention of Culture in the top 5 that got me thinking.

I think since Peels death its become even more apparent of just how valuable he was and how much his contribution is missed. No one has feasibly taken his place as he couldn’t be replaced, DJ’s of a similar ilk are just faceless facsimiles and have not got a clue what eclectic means.

I first listened to Peel as a pimply faced youth in the throws of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood fixation who was devoted to Smash Hits. Invariably I used to go to bed listening to a cassette but once I decided to listen to the radio, late night radio was a bit of a netherworld I had no inclination to jump into, but jump I did and in one evening I heard The Ramones and John Peel and a short lived platonic love affair started with one and an affair lasting decades started with the other.

My favourite peel moment that I would love to track down and listen to again is from around 89, the festive 50 is due on and he is playing records and he reads out a note that he has received from a young girl, for the sake of this story and as my memory isn’t so good, lets call her Sally, and the note goes on to say she is 13 or 14 and no one she knows of listens to Peel, no one she knows of likes the music she likes, she is not even supposed to listen to Peel as her step dad will tell her off, at the end of the note, Peels says Sally, it’s tough being 13, this ones for you, and he plays Teenage Kicks. A real marvellous moment.

I listened to the Festive 50 religiously during the late 80’s and 90’s usually ended up recording it as I had missed so many of the songs that made up the 50, and in the days when he played the best sessions of the year during the same show also introduced me to a lot of wonderful music, from the sessions The Siddeleys and The Passmore Sisters, from the festive 50, Bill is Dead by The Fall and On Tape by The Pooh Sticks, to name one or two.

Soon the Christmas Radio Times will be out and that always meant flicking towards the back to find out when the festive 50 was on, its rather sad that we don’t have that any more, John not able to gauge what records had touched his listeners hearts for that year, what the pig had voted for, how high my favourite bands had got, all of that no more.

So this year I will think of my favourites of the year, it won’t be sent anywhere, just here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wednesday Top 5.

Last weeks Top 5 may have been a little too much for some people, all that rudeness in one posting. I have decided to tame things down a little for this week, well not Tame as such but not really about making oneself go blind.

Today marks many things, the birth of a member of Brotherhood of Man, Tina Turner, Natasha Bedingfield but also the birth of John Mcvie, of Fleetwood Mac, there is quite a lot there to do a Top 5 with, but to be fair to John McVie he isn’t in particularly good company Bedingfield tends to soundtrack tampon ads, Turner only appears to release greatest hits albums, Brotherhood of man, well it’s Brotherhood of man. So if it came down to it I could if pushed do a Fleetwood Mac top 5, but I am not.

Todays Top 5 then. The Top 5 songs that someone who doesn’t really like or know anything about reggae may refer to as reggae but probably aren’t, but he does like.

Bit of a mouthful that.

The first one is a song from my distant youth, or more realistically, childhood. I spent a short period of time as a child in Trinidad, when my parents hear this song they tend to go all doe eyed and do that swaying that the elderly do to songs that have a beat that is more compromising than a Celine Dion song, I guess partly because my parents in 1982 were long off elderly. That song is quite a schmaltzy but rather perfect version of Send me the pillow by Cynthia Schloss. I guess this is best described as lovers rock.

Send me the pillow by Cynthia Schloss

Second is the song Sitting In Limbo by Jimmy Cliff. Taken from the soundtrack to the film, The Harder They Come and personally the stand out track from one of my favourite movie soundtracks.

I first heard Jimmy Cliff in the early eighties as my sister had the title track of this album on 7”, I really liked it and I never not once sneaked into my sisters room to play it, not once.

A few years ago I got hold of the album as I kept hearing snatches of songs and realised that I loved it, that’s when I heard the fantastic Sitting In Limbo and decided that one day when I am a pop star and have to fall back on a covers album to fulfil the tenth contractual obligation album, Sitting In Limbo will be on that album, that and Car Chase City by Tenacious D!

Sitting in Limbo by Jimmy Cliff.

Number three is a pretty well known song, it’s Uptown Top Ranking by Althia and Donna. I own this on 7 inch, it’s one I like for its music and beat as opposed to the singing. In the days of yore when Jupitus was on the breakfast show on 6 music, he used to play a fair old bit of reggae, soca, bluebeat, ska etc, I never listened to him mind as I was usually on a bus hurtling towards Telford cursing at the ne’er do wells playing 50 cent at ridiculous volume on mobile phones. I will come back to Jupitus in a moment, anyway, in the days of yore, the lofty wife told me that Uptown Top Ranking was based on a song with the refrain 3 piece suit and ting, my wife, no she knows an awful lot about 80’s pop but chuff all about the music of the West Indies so I poo-pooed her and said she was talking out of her arse. Turns out she was correct and after further prodding, it seems Jupitus had played said track earlier and furnished her with the trivia. That’s my Uptown Top Ranking tale. I can see you are mesmerised by it, you want to hear my Resurrection Shuffle tale?

Uptown Top Ranking by Althia and Donna

Onwards to number four in the Top 5, and that be Dillinger with the infectious Cocaine. A song bought to my attention as a 15 year old child by a teacher. You know however I say that it sounds dodgy, a teacher played me an LP by Dillinger that had the song Cocaine on it, still dodgy. I guess we went to an enlightened school but through some odd ITV telethon type affair for kicks we had a sponsored stay awake at the school, one of the teachers decided to set up what could only be called a sound system and one of his albums was the Dillinger album, it was biddly biddly bong, that’s a good enough description anyway, I later bought the album and appreciated it more as I got older, mainly as I saw a VU reference in a knife a fork a bottle and a cork. I don’t own the album anymore.

Cocaine in my brain by Dillinger

Finally we arrive at 5. I am going to write a glowing eulogy to Peel, I am going to do it now, so in all briefness, 5 is Lion Rock by Culture, he played, I heard it, I loved it.

Lion Rock by Culture

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Carter USM, Birmingham Academy

We have been a bit quiet of late on how to grow old, real life unfortunately gets in the way and those spare minutes to write a quick post about Naomi Campbells shortlived recording career get fewer and fewer.

Friday just gone I dipped my toe in the waters of nostalgia and had an evening at the Birmingham Academy watching The Vile Evils, EMF and Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine.

This had all the makings of a Here and Now for tubby thirty something indie kids, indie kids who have long since been indie or kids.

VileEvils are ex members of Pop Will Eat itself, possibly the non golden globe nominated composer bit of PWEI, I certainly know Fuzz Townsend is part of them, I have a Fuzz Townsend record, its best described as novelty big beat, my verdict on VileEvils? Unless they were playing in the pasta restaurant me and the short one were in prior to the gig, I didn’t see them, so can not comment.

We did arrive at the venue for EMF. EMF were a band that really were not my thing, they played baggyesque dance rock and I didn’t really get all that, I knew a few of their songs, notably the hit and it’s B-side. They didn’t seem to have changed one bit, except they had an ex member of Pop Will Eat Itself/Bentley Rhythm Ace on guitar and they were an interruption to the night for me, the sooner they were off the better. They did seem to go down quite well, oddly.

When EMF finished a crowd friendly tape was played, Wonderstuff, Sultans of Ping, Senseless Things etc, this went down VERY well, unfortunately not many people knew Too Much Kissing.

So to Carter, not much had changed to be honest, 2 men, backing tracks, guitars, one a little balder. Hell, they were even introduced by a semi naked Jon Beast. They sounded as they did, they played as they did, the same songs, the same shapes, the same crowd, even the same venue. Don’t get me wrong, they were playing to their strengths and ensuring that the crowd got what they wanted, the best bits of their entire career over 2 hours, falling on a bruise, GI Blues, Sheriff Fatman, Rubbish, Bloodsport for all, Lets get tattoos etc etc etc. The lighting it has to be said was the best I had ever seen at a gig this size, a great lighting rig, looked after by a really talented lighting man, other bands should take note.

The band as I said, sounded as they did when I last saw them in 93, 15 years ago, they sounded the same as I first saw them in 1990, 18 years ago. If it was Kidderminster Market Tavern this could have been that gig, except they describe that gig as the worst of their career and Bob weren’t supporting.

That’s the problem, my friend Jon says I love nostalgia, I don’t I like to see progression and there wasn’t any progression in the 15 years since I last saw them, and that is why it may not have been Howard Jones or Kim Wilde and the guitars may have been louder, it was in effect the same thing.

Billy's Smart Circus by Carter USM at Birmingham Academy.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Swap Shop with Neil Young

I was trying to find a Neil Young song off the Life album the other day and stumbled across something called A Perfect Echo. Some chap called Braden Strickler, yes, Braden Strickler, has put together an 8 disc soundboard recordings set of live Neil, spanning the years 1967 to 2001. From what I've heard it's head and shoulders above the usual bootleg quality, and you've got to say what a complete nutter. There's a bit of a blurb on a website called Aquarium Drunkard, have a look by clicking here. I also found a complete track listing here, which is a one man site by a bloke called Jack, who is big on swapping whatever live stuff he's got for whatever live stuff you've got, a bit like Saturday Morning Swap Shop but not on a Saturday.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wednesday Top 5

Is it Wednesday? No actually it isn't Wednesday it's Tuesday, I write this a day early as I have to give serious thought to the top 5. I was considering doing a Prince top 5, mainly because the wee fella is in a bit of trouble for not flogging his scent as per a contract, but as he is rather particular about his copyright I think I would struggle to turn up the goods in Youtube.

So where to go from there? OK, if you can't have Prince, what do you go for?

This weeks top five is the top 5 songs dedicated to wanking.

The first song is the rather splendid and future top 5 artist, Hello Kitten by Hefner. Hefner are normally coupled with the phrase Peel Favourites and it was Peel who once said it was always about sex with Hefner. He was absolutely right with this classic, with the refrain I'm gonna make myself go blind tonight, this ode to the joy of self was a fan favourite and when singer Darren Hayman trots it out at his solo shows these days it is met with a joyous reception. I used to have a website called hello kitten, it wasn't about masturbation, it was about hefner. Hefner came from the south, they released near perfect albums and then they split up, that's how it should be.

Darren Hayman and Jack Hayter performing Hello Kitten at Primavera Sound

Obvious number two is The Violent Femmes ode to the joys of fiddling with ones self, Blister in the sun. Lately used as the soundtrack to Fosters supping shade hunters, but historically the most well known of the wankthems. The Violent Femmes appeared in Sabrina the Teenage Witch and once cancelled a UK tour so they could go on a fag sponsored tour of the US, also Gano sold the advertising rights to this song to the US burger chain, Wendys. This song confirms them as wankers.

The Violent Femmes performing Blister In The Sun

Men who are not wankers but also sing about it, The Buzzcocks and the third best song about spanking the monkey is Orgasm Addict. I recall vividly the first time I heard and got The Buzzcocks, for ten minutes one summer whilst I was working at Butlins they were my favourite band and I still have a soft spot for them to this day, this is a million miles from their best work, but as What do I get isn't about self love, it will have to do.

The Buzzcocks performing Orgasm Addict at Shepherds Bush Empire in 2003

Which brings us neatly to Longview, the first time I heard Longview was the result of Kev T playing it a lot at the record shop we worked at, I say record shop, we could have been selling shoes, but prior to him playing Dookie, I knew little about them, other than they played that punk rock music. It was over a decade later before I realised it was essentially about onanism. Obviously Green Day weren't as in your face as Ivor Biggun.

Longview performed by Green Day

Finally we have Jackson Browne, I love Jackson Browne, Its a recent thing and I am unsure if it will be a fleeting love or I will be consumed, time will tell. Rosie is Jacksons tale, a rather sad tale of a roadie and his unluckyness in love, I say love, if it was love Jackson would be telling the tale of a roadie solitarily watching Sleepless in Seattle and not singing an ode to his hand.

Rosie performed by Jackson Browne in Maryland in 1975

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Under Rated Artist Due a 2nd Look (If P can have Tenacious D as best album ever I'm on safe ground with this one).

I've rather neglected top 3's, 5's and 10's, leaving penhappy Peter to shoulder the list making burden. So, I'm wading in with my top 3 most under rated artists, although there is only one as I couldn't really think of anybody else to fit the criteria. Said criteria is strict as they have to have had considerable sales and success but be due a second look. These are the artists that didn't fill stadiums (apart from at home maybe), but were major label, probably had a big album and possible monster single that the world remember them for, or were often compared to another outfit who were worse but sold more records or had a mouthy frontman. Or, maybe they were just big in Australia, or Latvia, or Crewe. It's lining up to be a groanathon as they are unhip and middle of the road and get hit by traffic from both sides, but that's why they need a second look.

Groan number one, it's shouty baldy Oz festers Midnight Oil. Of course they hit most of the criteria head on, with monster single Beds are Burning, and were big in Australia and possibly Latvia. I ignored them through their burning beds phase but thought their Earth and Sun and Moon album in 1993 was tremendous. Believe it or not their first album came out way back in 1978 and they only called it a day in 2002. I saw them live in Birmingham in about 93 and they were a loud, shouty but melodic lot, with a frontman you could respect. Peter Garrett is now government minister for Environment, Heritage & The Arts in Australia, which should give baldies the world over a nice warm feeling, or maybe that's just me.

Dreamworld by Midnight Oil (live)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Go square go

A good friend of mine despairs at times at my choice of favourite album of all time. Almost to the point of violence. He was well aware that I believe the debut Tenacious D album to be the finest record ever recorded. He is far from happy about this. This weekend we discussed the top 10 and he gave his opinion on another album in the ten.

Glasvegas’s self titled is apparently too new to be a favourite, a favourite of all time in such a short space. September this year it was released, I heard the demos earlier this year, even so, less than a year to form an opinion that a new album was amongst the ten best albums I have ever heard? This angered my friend more than the Tenacious D issue.

It has to be said I couldn’t defend myself, Margaritas and Beer had got the better of me and he was like a Kalashnikov. So what are the rules for making an album the greatest ever made? What criteria must be followed? What are the timescales?

You see people believe the dirge that Radiohead put out to be classics, I am sure in some poll, probably put together by Q that In Rainbows will be amongst the best albums ever made, sharing I am sure company such as pony made by Coldplay, Oasis, U2 or Razorlight.

The Beatles, undoubtedly have made some extremely special albums, Let It Be for me is by far their best work, but pollsters don’t agree. With crushing inevitability Sgt Pepper and The White Album tend to be one that critics choose. But at the end of the 60’s did beard strokers think that its vintage hadn’t fully matured or were their albums instantly recognised as modern classics?

My theory regarding the beratement I received for choosing Glasvegas as part of the ten is that effectively Glasvegas are perceived as a throwaway indie band who may or may not be around in an albums time. Disposable heroes of indie poppery? Is Glasvegas’s album likely to be in my all time top ten in a years time, highly unlikely. You see the point of that 10th album is that it is ever changing, this week THAT album is the tenth greatest album ever made, next week it will be The King Blues album, a year ago it was some other indie act, next month it will be someone else. 1-9 they may not change for the next 5 years, they are albums I play regularly and adore beyond belief.

But for now, for today, for this week, Glasvegas are responsible for the tenth best album ever made.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lizz Wright

I was planning to do a lovely threesome of Neil Young covers, but this version of Old Man by Lizz Wright is head and shoulders above any others that spring to mind. Ian McNabb of the Icicle Works used to do a great version of The Needle and the Damage Done (he went on to record with Crazy Horse at some point), and Cassandra Wilson does a spooky version of Harvest Moon, but wonder at this if you will. Also, at the risk of sounding a bit Waynesworldesque, she's a fox.

Old Man by Lizz Wright

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Crime and punishment.

Kev has had his life touched by crime, that’s what you get when you live on the killer streets of Chile and not the burgeoning hot spot crime capital of crime, Stafford.

That’s said I am not from the ghetto, I was born in Telford, blunts, ho’s and a 40 mean something different to me than say to Snoop.

In the 80’s I couldn’t really empathise with KRS-1 or Kool Keith but I could pretend I could, as a result of I enjoyed the electro compilations and this encouraged my belief that I was a fly breakdancer, I wasn’t, I was one of the ones that stand round the edge with their arms folded, possibly saying that a compadre was wack, or to use the vernacular, wiggidy-wiggidy wack.

After the electro I developed a love of The Beastie Boys, during 1987 only The Ramones came close for my affections, Licensed to ill was the soundtrack to my O’levels, I was perfecting my rhymes when I should have been revising, and by my rhymes, I mean learning the words to No Sleep Till Brooklyn, thank heavens for Smash Hits. Brooklyn was a mere stones throw away, just past Dawley.

Although after The Beastie Boys no one really came close, I still had a love of Hip Hop and the power of street knowledge but found it marginalised in the house, one song on a compilation, listening to NWA when the wife was out, it was a bit like a dirty secret.

“What did Daddy do during the Indie Wars mummy?”

“He bought Gangstas Paradise Dear.”

This is true, I bought Coolios Gangsters Paradise, not before it was a hit, not whilst it was an underground banger, not early on in its chart run, I bought it after its 32nd week at number one. Kev wants crimes, that’s mine.

Not Coolio.

Finch, Stoke Sugarmill

Last night I stepped out with number one daughter to see a band that we hadn’t seen in a few years due to “hiatus”, Finch. A US rock band that I used to like a lot and my daughter loved, they were perhaps part of a handful of bands that got her interested in rock music.

They were playing The Sugarmill in Stoke, the last time they played, they played Birmingham Academy in the small room. The scene then was the location of my realisation that I am too old for pits, I still go to gigs where there are pits, however the circle pit at the Neil Diamond concert earlier in the year was abysmal.

I have only been to The Sugarmill once before, that was to see a local band, Hips Like Cinderella, I really like the venue, small intimate, and lots of good viewing places if you are daughter or wife sized. Sound overall was pretty good, security staff courteous, a welcome change from the Academy to be honest.

Finch had 2 support bands, this displeased me on a school night, I wanted a short set from one support and headliner and back home before 10.30. Not to be.

First support was a band called Dissolved In, before they played a note I knew what they were going to sound like, I guess on this bill its always going to be circa 2003, and these boys desperately wanted to be a Drive Thru records band in 2003. Their set was competent though and they certainly had the songs, if they were a little dated. The t-shirt the frontman was wearing was a capped t-shirt and his trousers made him look like Max Wall, which detracted from the songs a little. Randy from Finch guested on stage with them for one song, a cover, alas I don’t know what it was a cover of, I want to say a Descendants track but it was a little “loose” so couldn’t get the gist of it.

Staying in 2003 we had the next support band screaming for their supper and they were called Shadows Chasing Ghosts, I recall at one point during a metal solo performed by Jack Blacks fatter younger brother, muttering, Its like punk never happened. Not the worst band I have ever seen and the only entertainment I had was watching some 12 year olds attempt hardcore dancing. Hardcore dancing you say? Whats hardcore dancing? Look it up on youtube, its hilarious especially when done by kids.

Finch came on stage then, just a fraction before they started a space cleared and a teenager, 19/20 went into the middle and started hardcore dancing but he slipped on his backside and the crowd laughed, it tickled me somewhat. Then Finch came on.

Finch aren’t chatty, The Pixies are Billy Bragg as far as chat are concerned compared to Finch, and Finch also don’t play to the crowd, they avoid the hits and do what they want, or at least they did until the hiatus, they appear to have come back and decided that they want to be Cuba Gooding Jr in Jerry Maguire and show us the money, they play the crowd pleasers from the first two albums, Ender, What it is to burn and Letters to you to name 3, it was, it has to be said, the set I have been waiting for them to play and with the addition of a new song that sounded superb all in all it was a great set, played well, in a good venue. Nothing more to add really, a pleasant night and kid enjoyed it so lets put it down as a home win.

Wednesday Top 5

Another week and another top 5.

As mentioned last week Ben Folds it will be.

Many many years ago whilst working in a certain Telford music megastore I was entrusted twice and only twice to deal with a rep and buy music, on one of those occasions I was cajoled by said rep into buying a number of Farley Jackmaster Funk CD singles, that remained in the store unsold until its refurbishment many many years later, the other time was a single by Ben Folds Five, Underground. Its fate wasn’t as negative as Farley Jackmaster Funk, however the amount ordered far outweighed the amount sold.
I cursed Ben Folds Five, for they had damned me to a life of servitude in the record shop business and my record buying career was dead in the water. I was a dab hand at putting out CD’s though and knew my folk from my bluegrass, usually involved if the person on the sleeve was wearing a Stetson.
That all said, subminally Ben Folds, Five and Fiveless was always in the back of my mind, I kind of liked subsequent singles I heard up until I heard a track of his being used on a Channel 4 documentary and then I decided that it was time to investigate further, and further investigation was had.
I realised relatively recently that Ben Folds is perhaps one of my favourite artists, in the same way that Eels are, it kind of snuck up on me.

So today’s top five is Ben Folds’ 5.

Easily his best track and the song that I heard on the Channel 4 documentary is Brick. The story of an abortion and you think how can a song about abortion be beautiful? I don’t know, maybe its because maybe it’s Ben and a piano, maybe because you believe what he is saying, maybe its because you get to dip in and hear the vast majority of the story. I wonder if it is autobiographical, and if so, the lady involved, what her thoughts are on having such a private experience being made so public.

Brick by Ben Folds Five

Following that is a track from the album Songs For Silverman, and that track is Late, a tribute to Elliott Smith. Folds clearly is a fan and it is from a fans perspective, drawing touring parallels and the impact that Smiths life and indeed death had on Folds, and how much his music meant to him. Songs for Silverman is a consistently good album and Late is by far the best work on there.

That is what would be number two if I had the video to back it up with, as I haven't here is a video of Ben doing Smoke.

Smoke by Ben Folds

Lightening the mood somewhat after those two is a song from a later EP called, There is always someone cooler than you. Wise words. If you had a virtual pot of Ben Folds songs and they were arranged in tempo, I would wager there are very few of the more uptempo songs that I would listen to prior to something such as Brick, or Smoke or any of the more down beat, slower songs, There is always someone cooler than you is an exception, initially getting a limited release until the ep’s were collected and released in a longer form.

There is always someone cooler than you by Ben Folds.

Number 4 is a track from the Ben Folds Five era, and its Philosophy from the debut album, Ben Folds Five. This took on a life of its own when I saw it performed live, totally different feel to it and certainly a fan favourite if not THE fan favourite.

Philosophy by Ben Folds Five.

That is if it wasn’t for number 5, Rock this bitch is to Ben folds what Suburban Rhythm is to Reel Big Fish, I feel guilty for putting it on this five as he has a million songs better, but it sort of highlights the juxtaposition between something like Brick and this. Rock this bitch alters on any given night, only to be sampled live.

Rock this bitch with WASO by Ben Folds.

Rock this bitch by Ben Folds


The last 10 days have been a bit of a rollercoaster. First I was on strike, and considering a future of unemployment. In the middle of that my Dad flew in to visit here in Chile. My employer suspended me without holiday pay, and as a man prone to a good fret. I fret. Thankfully the strike was resolved after a week, but today a new dose of reality surfaced as the house where Father Towl is staying was robbed. We were only out for an hour, and came back to find it laptop, camera, ipod and DVD free. Bastards got in through the bathroom window. The dog licked them on the way through.
With a very real crime fresh in our minds, here are the Wednesday picks of crime related songs.

I Fought the Law by Bobby Fuller, complete with head wobbling freakout dancer.

Police & Thieves by Junior Murvin

An ode to wasted youth, look at these Bad Guys, from Bugsy Malone

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cover Up Well

It's almost as if the mighty P would know that his post would taunt me into the area of covers. I mean, non hip hop artists doing hip hop. Please. Don't get me started on covers otherwise I'll be here all day. There's even a bit of Reg lobbed in here, in the shape of Peter Tosh. With a name like Tosh you'd have to be fairly confident before putting something out there.

So here's Chris Cornell with a warning of unwanted fatherhood, Luka Bloom (Christy Moore's brother) with a bit of Irish lovin as taught by the Ladies Love Cool James, Jose Gonzalez bringing a bit of sensitivity to the ice cold Joy Division, and finally the man Tosh ringing a bell.

Billie Jean is seriously knocked up by Chris Cornell

Love Will Tear Us Apart by (Joy Division) here done by Jose Gonzalez

I Need Love (LL Cool J) here done by Luka Bloom

Johnny B. Goode here reg'd up by Peter Tosh

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wednesday Top 5

Its a momentous day today, a day that perhaps will never be forgotten, perhaps even never forgotten by our children. Today marks the changing point for a lot of people.

Yes its the second Wednesday top 5!

I have spent most of my commute thinking what will I plunder Youtube for? Obama related? Maybe something else? Its difficult not to post a change is gonna come, its an easy choice.

But no, todays top 5 is...

Top 5 Hip Hop songs covered by non Hip Hop artists.

To kick things off is a rather splendid version of NWA's Straight Outta Compton, its fair to say that all of the songs pretty much aren't safe for work.
But anyway, this version is a rather beautiful version by Nina Gordon, formerly of Veruca Salt. She did a fair few covers, notably One More Night, 18 and Life etc, but this is the best by a fair chalk.

Straight Outta Compton by Nina Gordon

Nina Gordon

Second best Hip Hop cover I ever heard is covered by future Top 5 artist, it is Bitches Ain't Shit, a Dr Dre tune that is perhaps lost in transalation when it gets into the hands of Ben Folds. But it really does take on a life of its own and I challenge anyone who has heard the original not to listen to this and not think of this whenever they hear the Dr Dre original.

Bitches Ain't Shit by Ben Folds

Ben Folds

Following that is Jonathan Coulton, I know nothing about this man but he loves "open source" music and gives a lot of his music away for free, embarrassingly I only have his gorgeous version of Sir Mixalots, Baby Got Back. Maybe I need to get a lot more.

Baby Got Back by Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton

How to follow that, well, a few years ago I went to see the side project of the non Jack Black half of Tenacious D, Kyle Gas's band Trainwreck. I saw them in Los Angeles and they were OK, I guess, however the support band, The Evangenitals became very quickly one of my favourite bands, they are better than any cover, but this beautiful plaintive version of Outkasts Hey Ya really shows off their sound, the video is not much to look at but the sound is worth it.

Hey Ya by The Evangenitals

The Evangenitals

Finally Blackeyed Peas' My Humps, as covered by Alanis Morrissette, hmm, its an odd one and unsure if it really is out and out Hip Hop, that said I like the juxtaposition.

My Humps by Alanis Morrissette

Alanis Morrissette

5th November 2008

I am currently on strike from my employer and hope, as a song says, there is power in a union. I'm afraid as ever that the employer can just wait it out, as we are all unpaid when on strike.

I've never had to suffer discrimination. My Irish grandfather told stories of trying to find a boarding house in Birmingham and being confronted with 'No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish' signs in the window, and it was only 40 years ago that there were civil rights protests in both northern Ireland and the southern states in the US.

Let's hope Obama can do something for ordinary working people, like give them health care and a decent living.

One can but hope.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Dix-ing about.

During those quiet moments before my morning bath I pondered on what was my favourite album ever, so the pondering happened and I pondered some more and then I dwelled, dwelled and pondered then I thought OK whats my top ten. So here they are, just for you…not covered in sequins.

The greatest album ever made is the debut and self titled album by Tenacious D. One day all music will sound this great and all musicians will hold this album up as the greatest contribution to recorded sound since singing was invented. Not a single week goes by without me listening to this album, the follow up, Pick of Destiny is as mind achingly majestic as well.
Favourite Track: Dio.

The second best album ever is In an Aeroplane over the sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. It was released 10 years ago and is as wonderful now as it was then, massively critically acclaimed and a huge influence on numerous US indie bands since, (Clap your hands say yeah and Bright Eyes to name 2) Jeff Magnum, head honcho of Neutral Milk Hotel did this and then retired the band. A crime.
Favourite Track: The King Of Carrot Flowers.

Third is I’m Wide Awake, Its Morning by Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst, for he is bright eyes released 2 albums at the same time, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m wide awake its morning, the latter was the more acoustic of the two and by far the better. Veering from folk, to rock to country, touching on the September 11th attacks and also his upbringing across the length of the album. This along with the previous 2 always seem to get played a few times a month.
Favourite Track: Lua.

Fourth is War on Errorism by NOFX, US Punk band with more great albums than any other band. War on Errorism is relatively new and like most of their recorded work is very politicised, more so this one is very up front about its condemnation of the Bush Administration. Any other week this would be my favourite album ever.
Favourite Track: 2 Jealous Again’s.

Fifth favourite is White Light by Gene Clark, Clark was a former member of the Byrds and like most former members of the Byrds, never really got the acclaim for his solo work. Released in 1971 and backed by members of the Steve Miller Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, this album was given to me by a friend and went unlistened for 2 years, and it was only out of boredom that made me listen to it. Its a work of art, they should make kids listen to this in schools. It is THE country rock record, its loose, its impromptu, its excellent.
Favourite Track: The Virgin.

(The Virgin isn't on Youtube, but this is.

Six is Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was responsible for the first record that changed my life, as a six year old I played one of his lesser singles over and over. As I got older I started listening to things like Straight A’s in love, Folsom Prison etc and I consider myself lucky to have seen him in concert. All his albums mean a lot to me, even his religious work, but the one that I love more than the rest is Orange Blossom Special.
Favourite Track: Orange Blossom Special.

Seven is The World Won’t End by The Pernice Brothers. Released in 2001 its the story, almost a concept album of the latter stages of head songwriter, Joe Pernices marriage and its subsequent breakdown. It is blindingly good, I don’t think Joe Pernice ever came close to this before or after, Cronulla Breakdown from this album invariably makes it on to almost every mix tape/CD I do.
Favourite Track: Cronulla Breakdown.

Cronulla Breakdown isn't on Youtube, you need to listen to it though, its superb, in the meantime, here is Wrking Girls.

Eight is Goats Head Soup by The Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones I am a late convert to, I always appreciated them but over the last five years, I have liked them more and more and particularly their post Brian Jones output. Exile on Main Street is universally acclaimed as their best work, not for me though, Dancing with Mr D, Angie, Heartbreaker and Star * all on one album, its very diverse and one that shows off Jagger and Richards songwriting to the fullest.
Favourite Track: Heartbreaker.

Nine is Glasvegas’s self titled album. I managed to get hold of a recording of their Demos and loved them, I was hoping that they wouldn’t change massively when they finally came to record their album. They did change, but for the better. They do what the Raveonettes do, take influences and make them their own, coming from a similar view as The Raveonettes, mixing the best of Jesus and Marychain, with a classic 50’s songwriting aesthetic. With the case of Glasvegas, adding a healthy dose of Glasgow living to it. This album grows on me more and more with every listen.
Favourite Track: Go Square Go.

Finally Ten. Coral Fang by The Distillers. Its a punk album by former wife of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and current girlfriend of Queens of the Stoneage’s Josh Homme, Brody Dalle and her former band The Distillers.
I had seen The Distillers a number of times and the experience varied between dull, dreadful and one of the best concerts I ever went to.
The latter was promoting their final album, Coral Fang. Not as visceral as their previous two albums, have more light and shade and therefore more interesting than say Sing Sing Death House. I do not recommend driving to it though.
Favourite Track: The Hunger.”

Cretin Hop

A right old rock n roll rumpus is happening off the back of the US elections. The Ramones have endorsed McCain and Palin, I know what you are thinking, but surely Peter, the fair majority of the core of The Ramones are dead, are they making endorsements from beyond the grave.


You see Linda Cummings, (Linda Ramone?? Richie Ramone following the surgery???) has been out in the media using the name Ramone to aid the Republican campaign.

I see you are still scratching your head, Linda Cummings? She is the widow of former staunch republican Johnny Ramone. Someone forgot to tell Linda that Ramone wasn’t Johnny’s real name and to be honest that name was only really afforded to members of the band, ask Arturo Vega.

Any hoo Linda Cummings has got into a rumpus with Mikey Leigh (aah Mikey Ramone?, err, no.) Mikey is the brother of former singer in The Ramones, Joey Ramone. Joey unfortunately passed away a number of years ago.

So here is the skinny, someone not a Ramone, has criticised someone else not a Ramone, for endorsing a political party ¾ of the Ramones detested using The Ramones name, candidates who it has to be said one of whom has probably never heard of The Ramones and the other probably doesn’t know how to tie his own laces. This is politics American style.

On that note, the rather apt, The KKK took my baby away, the KKK refers allegedly to Johnny, the baby refers allegedly to Linda. The away refers to the fact, again allegedly that Joey was stepping out with Linda prior to her relationship with Johnny.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Don't Call Me Beaner

I killed this album. It got such heavy rotation that I know most of the words in Spanish but I have no idea what they mean (although I do now know the Mexican word for fuck, as most of the group are Mexican).
Molotov are one of those bands that continually confound people, piss them off, get in their face, wind them up, refuse to conform and get away with murder. Their biggest hit, Frijolero, is totally different from anything else on the album Dance and Dense Denso (2003), so I'm sure thousands got home expecting something jaunty and got shouty agit pop instead. I rushed out and bought the follow up, and the opening track is a cover of Rock Me Amadeus.
The Spanglish lyrics go from naughty to obscene to hilarious within 3 lines. More bands should be like Molotov, with seemingly total disregard for anything but the sound they want to create.
Here's a double header.

Frijolero by Molotov

Here We Kum by Molotov

Saturday, 1 November 2008

God's Bob Dylan & Waltzing Dirt Farmers

I don't know where my co-host gets the time to watch telly, listen to music, smash up fridges, berate Bob Dylan and rant about the envirnonment. I was struggling to see the link between Dylan and Gods Boyfriend, although I came to the conclusion that Bob gets so much good press for average albums that he must be Gods .......... Well, at least Gods gift. Didn't ramblin' Bob go christian in the eighties?

If you were to scroll through the d's in my music folder you won't find much Dylan. Partly because he's under B, but you get my drift. The only time I've seen him live he sounded like Fozzie Bear with pharyngitis. We were back at the car before you could say Froggy Went a Courtin' (if you can't recognise the song til the chorus you're in the wrong tent).

In the great give-away of my records, in order to reduce the amount to a box I could afford to ship to Chile, I gave away Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, and kept The Band's records. Their first album sports a cover featuring a Dylan painting, and they went on to tour and record with him.
Scorsese, a good friend of The Band's Robbie Robertson, directed their final hurrah, The Last Waltz.
Levon Helm, The Band's singing drummer recently released Dirt Farmer, a fine solo album, although the 1993 Band re-union (minus Robbie R) album Jericho features my favourite post real Band effort from him, in the shape of a cover of Springsteen's Atlantic City (click on the words Atlantic City to download it, nothing to do with me!).
Not only do you get The Band, you get The Staples too........

The Band with The Staple Singers, The Weight

"I always thought he sounded just like Yogi Bear."

I have an awful lot of Dylan, 15 albums of Dylan, as well as some MP3's, ask me to name 5 tracks that don't appear on his greatest hits though and I will direct you to the vast array of Punk O Rama CD's I have, you see, I only really play Nashville Skyline, and that's for the Cash, so why do I own so many Dylan albums if I don't play them? That is down to wine, ebay and time. 3 bedfellows when combined sometimes produce fruit, replacement of long since stolen Ramones albums, and sometimes produce ashes, Dylan.
I appreciate Dylan, I am hip to the mans jive and dig on his importance, maybe over time I will see him for the utterly wise sage that he undoubtedly is, just at the moment his presence in the downstairs records means that if I ever want to play Midway Still or Bleach, I have to go upstairs for them.
I will badger Kev into writing something glowing about Robert Zimmerman as he probably likes him and can do it justice, I certainly can't, but what do you expect from a man whose favourite album is by Tenacious D?

One song though that is quite outstanding is Make you feel my love, from the album Time Out of Mind, covered by many my first hearing was by Adele.

Over the past 7 or 8 weeks I have been subjected to The Family on Channel 4, essentially an hour of arguing, constant arguing, Channel 4 deems this to be entertainment, and it seems so does my wife and child. Its over now, thankfully, but over the final credits, rather poignantly was Adele's rendition of Dylans Make you feel my love. Now as I have mentioned elsewhere, I am a sucker for anything at all sentimental and and it was a perfect song for the chaos that preceeded it.
I cant really tell you anything about Adele, I know she is young, she has a rather soulful voice and that her album is called 19, what little I have heard has been passable, its not The Family Cat mind!

Make you feel my love by Adele.

Gods Boyfriend.

People say I don't care about the environment, ordinarily this wouldn't distract me from my hobby which is smashing up fridges. They say that I don't care about the environment as I don't recycle, correction, I don't go out of my way to recycle. I do care about the environment though, when it is something tangible, people say what about the legacy for our children, and grand children, to this I say fuck the children, well not literally, but in the sense that the kids don't give a fuck about me, so what's wrong with me fucking up the planet for them?

I am being facetious of course. Currently small Islands are in jeopardy, literally screwed due to global warming, the tangible results of me not recycling, is that Tuvalu is disappearing at an alarming rate due to the rising oceans. Honestly.

So what can be done, well that's not for me to say, this is a music blog and to be fair now is not the time or place to be talking about small islands.

Gods Boyfriend released very little music, there is scant information about them on the internet and I know only one song, that is the rather gorgeous "I don't wash" from the Fierce Panda compilation, Where the wild nings are. One day I will write a post extolling the virtues of Fierce Panda compilations, but for now I will just post a link to where you can download the fantastic "I don't wash" by Gods Boyfriend.

I don't wash by Gods Boyfriend