Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Peel Sessions Album

I was hoping to catch up on the new sounds out there prior to Leeds Festival, Aston Villa distracted me last night though and so I didn’t download anything, in that case, better make it Billy Bragg’s Peel Sessions.
I have probably played this album in its entirety less than 10 times, maybe more but I only recalled 2 or 3 tracks on it that I thought were at the time exclusive to this, A13 Trunk Road to The Sea, Jeanne and Lovers Town.
A13 is a reinterpretation of Route 66, taking us through the highways and byways of Essex.

If you ever have to go to Shoeburyness
Take the A road, the okay road that's the best
Go motorin' on the A13

Lovers Town, I assume is a precursor to Lovers Town Revisited, or maybe that came first. Jeanne is The Smiths cover and anything that has a connection to Johnny Marr, Andrew Ridgely with a better haircut, is a bad thing.
This album is not a bad thing though, so far it has been my favourite Billy Bragg album, songs I had forgotten about in lovers Town, versions that were notably different, rare songs that haven’t appeared on the many live and compilation albums that I have heard whilst listening alphabetically to my CD’s.
All of this made The Peel Sessions Album, enjoyable, different, exciting and not predictable, its bereft of jokes that have got tiresome and as they were Peel sessions, they are songs that may have got their first outing and therefore there is a freshness to the songs that possibly is lost if not when recorded, certainly by the time I have listened to Victim Of Geography for the 50th time.
The only real downside to this is his cover of Jeanne, and that in itself is a superior version to the original and for that it’s a commendable album and one that easily hits 10 out of 10.

Greetings to The New Brunette by Billy Bragg

Monday, 24 August 2009

Hooray For Boobies

I make no bones about the fact that I adore Tenacious D, I love them as a band and their debut album is one of my favourites ever, stunning album. People assume that this is all that is too me though, but no, I think its ok to like the D and also consider Neutral Milk Hotel’s In An Aeroplane Over The Sea to be a work of art, I think its ok to like both.
I didn’t listen to Tenacious D on my commute today though, and I didn’t listen to Neutral Milk Hotel. Today’s commute CD between Stafford and Birmingham is the rather splendid, Hooray For Boobies by The Bloodhound Gang.
Released a long time ago and purchased as a result of the popularity of The Bad Touch, I liked the band as they produced dumb ass fun that was a bit lacking in my life back then, the best sort of fun is the dumb ass fun.
Also present on this album is the porn star tribute that is The Ballad of Chasey Laine. I recall MTV2 playing a live version of this song and what struck me at the time was the American, Jimmy Pop instead of singing, now show me them titties, actually sung now show them Joey Deacon. It makes me think how the hell can Jimmy Pop know about Joey Deacon?? He may have a secret 70’s Blue Peter stash?
There is also a distinctive euro beat to this album, not just on bad touch, if you stripped away the guitar, euro disco permeates the album throughout.
The Bloodhound Gang are definitely a band to sample live, arguably one of the best bands I have seen live, thoroughly entertaining, putting on a real show that is quite lacking from traditional rock shows, not Tenacious D, but really I don’t think anyone puts on a show like Tenacious D.
All in all a good to firm album, enjoyable if not world changing. 7 out of 10

The Ballad of Chasey Laine by The Bloodhound Gang

Friday, 21 August 2009

A Wider Audience

In an attempt to widen our worldwide blog audience I was going to write about Gary Barlow, or possibly the Jonas Brothers, or maybe Lulu. But, I thought I'd stick it to the man and write about Chilean children's music. It's my attempt to recruit my wife to our readership. My co-blogger Peter suspects that even I don't read the blog, while I know my good lady wife has never even had a casual peek.

If I was to say to you 'My name is Andres, and I am a fish' how would that make you feel? It sounds better in Spanish believe you me. I might go on to enthrall you with tales of a yellow caterpillar.

Mazapán have been around since the late 70's I think, and seem to have done more albums than The Fall. Amazingly, after a well known TV show and becoming household names, I see on the website that they are available for weddings (Mazapán that is, not The Fall, although Mark E. Smith giving it the Lady in Red-uuhh for the first dance by the happy couple would be great-uh).

Welcome to The Rodeo

“Dad what was indie like when you were young?”

“Ee lass, indie were vibrant, fresh, different and so dangerous them telly shows wouldn’t touch it wi a line prop”

“But Dad, surely not all of it was great, not all of it was vibrant, fresh, different and dangerous, some of it must have been shit? and why are you speaking in a Yorkshire accent?”

Today’s commute CD is the Blessed Ethel album, Welcome To The Rodeo. An album released in 1995 and one that is owned by my wife. Bought as a result of her enjoying a single of theirs called 2 Minute Mind, a rather splendid couple of minutes of fiery hard rocking. That single isn’t on this album.
My wife introduced me to this band on the very first night she ever allowed me back to her house, she played me 2 Minute Mind and a single by Kinky Machine, she had a thing for Kinky Machine, but I really quite enjoyed 2 Minute Mind, I thought it was pretty good, but maybe I was being polite as I wanted to kiss her. Time has shown me I didn’t need to be polite.
As a result of her enthusiasm for that single we picked up this album in some second hand shop, someone somewhere decided that they had had enough of this album and so passed it on to a charity or second hand shop where it could happily rub shoulders with the likes of Foster and Allen or Stacka Bo.
So what’s is it like? It starts off rather promisingly, in a generic Britpop kind of way, Sleeper is the most obvious influence, at least on track 1, Pullman Car to Venus, its not entirely offensive, but then, and pretty much from then on in, it is absolutely f**king awful, its depressingly bad and you wonder if there is a hidden track, entirely silent as it is only the producer shaking his head at the thought that he will never work in this town again. Not this town, as this town is Stafford and Greggs are always recruiting.
The reason for its awfulness is that it is a very bad example of its time, it is totally of its time and they, Blessed Ethel, chose to absorb the very bad examples of Britpop, the very bad examples of girl fronted rock and the very bad examples of popular indie, this combination results in a third rate bottom of the bill indie band peddling a dreadful album.
On that note, its Friday and so a rather generous 1 out of 10, as I can’t give halves.

Veronica by Blessed Ethel

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science Disc 2

The previous post has bought a few more people to the blog, its nice to feel that the readership extends to more than just me and Kev, but I suspect even he doesn’t actually read it.
In case the people that read the Saint Etienne post do return, daily I listen to the next CD album in my collection on my commute to work, Stafford to Birmingham, its roughly alphabetical, (the CD collection, not the commute, although the return journey actually is, Birmingham, Coleshill, Lichfield, Rugeley, Stafford. I am waffling now) and then I review it, ordinarily it is out of 10 and I post a Youtube video highlighting anything that is good about it. This is in addition to anything Kev or I might post. Looking down this page you may be assuming that this blog is heavy on the indie, it isn’t really, I just hit a patch of it in the CD’s and I also decided to write about Amelia Fletcher and The Field Mice.

That all said, today’s CD was Disc 2 of a moody copy of The Beastie Boys Anthology, The Sounds of Science. One of the first illegal CD’s I ever made, released in 1999, it has pretty much remained unplayed since then, in all honesty I made it to see if my CD writer worked. Stick that up your arse RIAA!

This CD is best described as diverse, I don’t mean diverse in a Tad/Kool and The Gang/Nana Mouskori mash up, I mean it swings quite violently between pretty good, to fair to absolute shite. I guess they were very particular when naming the compilation, what with trade description and all that, any great hits may only extend to an ep, or a mini album, a double album, perhaps could be seen as taking the piss.

When I was 16 and busy not revising for my exams I was rather keen on The Beastie Boys, they made hip hop for white boys, and that’s what I liked, my hip hop liking never really went beyond them, yeah I could nod appreciatively to an electro compilation and I knew most of the words to Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC, hell I owned the 12 inch of The Show by Doug E Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew, lets just say outside of The Beastie Boys my tastes were less KRS One and more KRS Tarrant. I do however tell people that my 7” of The Fat Boys version of Wipeout was bought purely to pre-empt me being a Beach Boys completist.

So what of this disc then, well the good is represented by the marvellous Sabotage, a nice opener to the album and a track that made me think, this compilation can only produce good things. If that’s representative of the quality, I will be rolling like a baller when I hit Coleshill.

The album picks up on highlights from all areas of their career, not just Ill communication and Licensed to Ill. Check Your Head, Hello Nasty and Paul’s Boutique are also represented. This anthology also dips into the lesser known corners of The Beatie Boys repertoire and that maybe where this all falls apart for me, admittedly Egg Raid On Mojo from Pollywog Stew was good to hear, its an oddity from their very early days, but the previously unreleased Benny and The Jets is absolutely f*cking diabolical, as covers go it’s a dreadful mess that should have remained unreleased. Similarly the Country Mike track, you know when you are 8 and you get hold of a tape recorder and you record yourself jabbering, and play it back and have a giggle at how funny you sound, then you record Jimmy Saville over it? Well The Beastie Boys did the recording and decided to release it.

The good is in equal measure to the bad though and its was a break from more of the same which I have been experiencing over the past few weeks. 6 out of 10.

Egg Raid on Mojo by The Beastie Boys

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Greatness of Kiss and Make Up

First in a rare and occasional series where I wax lyrically about singles from my past particularly singles that were different or momentous for their own reasons.

In 1989, Sarah Records band, The Field Mice recorded a song, Let’s Kiss and Make Up, appearing on their debut album Snowball, it was merely a single jewel in a box of diamonds.
Snowball, released on 10 inch, as was always the case with Sarah Records albums at that time, yes it played havoc with the aesthetics of a record collection, but you knew what you were getting with Sarah, you get 10 inch for mini albums, 12 inch for compilations and the 7 inches came in square clear bags, with an insert!

Weighing in at 8 tracks long, Snowball is a joy to listen to and even now, beyond the crackle and a slight jump around track 5, when I feel like taking a break from San Franciscan punks NOFX or rocking out a little less with Robert Plant, I return to Snowball, in particular the soundtrack of my 19 year old life in Let’s Kiss and Make Up.

In 1990, the Cracknell-less Saint Etienne took the seemingly odd move of covering The Field Mice track for release as a single, following up their cover of the Neil Young track, Only Love Can Break Your Heart not with Moira Lambert on vocal duties, but with Dead Famous People vocalist Donna Savage, the next single would see permanent vocalist Sarah Cracknell join the band, but for Kiss and Make Up, New Zealander Savage would suffice more than admirably.
Saint Etienne in their cover, took the song and didn’t mangle it out of all recognition, the love of pop music was clearly evident and so why would they mess around with something that was already a bona fide pop classic, maybe not in your house, but on the streets of Shrewsbury it certainly was, and by streets, I mean clubs, and by clubs I mean The Fridge, and by The Fridge I mean the bit before they warmed up with Fields of the Nephilim.

Kiss And Make Up by Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne took all the best bits of pop music and made them their own. So many bands at the end of the eighties and the early nineties were covering songs and essentially adding a shuffley dance beat and a bit of wah-wah, and this shit sold, it sold in its droves, I have covers of Velvet Underground tunes with a shuffley dance beat and a wah-wah, and I hate shuffley dance beats and wah-wah’s, so if they could sell to a cynical bastard like me, they could sell to anyone, but what was evident from the off, Saint Etienne were different to that, they clearly adored pop music and one day they would achieve pop perfection with You’re In A Bad Way, but before then they would release to an unsuspecting world, Kiss and Make up, and the only response, certainly in our house, to that would be, “f**kin hell, that’s Let’s Kiss and Make Up”.

In these days of Arctic Monkeys covering Girls Aloud, Talent show winners reinterpreting Leonard Cohen, no cover is truly surprising, the lines are blurred, these days if The Saturdays were to cover Peter and The Test Tube Babies, it would not raise a single eyebrow, I would hope it would be Run Like Hell though. No cow is sacred anymore. At the time though although The Field Mice are revered and worshipped and uttered as our lord our fathers at places like Indie Tracks, they were not a ridiculously huge band around the time of this release. I saw them sharing a stage with US hardcore band, Alice Donut in Newcastle, and it certainly was an odd pairing however it was a moderate audience and this was after Kiss and Make up had been released, they were not big at all. Indie was not the marketable, packaged, global selling brand it is now.

I asked the former singer and songwriter of The Field Mice, Bobby Wratten a few brief questions on Saint Etienne’s take on the song and he kindly responded.

When were you first aware that Saint Etienne were going to cover one of your songs?

BW: Michael and I knew Bob Stanley through him being a fan of Sarah Records (the label we were on). We helped out on the very first Saint Etienne demo around Christmas 1989. This was very much an early sketch for Saint Etienne.

Was it specifically Kiss and Make Up or was it a case of opening up the NME and seeing a review?

BW: Their first proper demo featured Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Kiss And Make Up, (again with our help) so we knew very early on that they were going to do our song. By the time it got to the single version we were no longer involved.

How did you feel about it then?

BW: I remember liking it. They took our skeletal version and turned it into a pop record.

Do you feel any differently now?

BW: I haven't heard it in a very long time and although it's always a compliment when someone covers one of your songs my heart does sink a little every time it's reissued because the publishing has never been straight forward for Kiss and Make Up.

Did you have an existing relationship with the band via someone like Ian Catt and so it was quite a compliment or was it a case if I could afford a lawyer, you would hear from him?

BW: We actually introduced Saint Etienne to Ian Catt who had done five records with us by the time he did Saint Etienne's proper demo. As I say it was a compliment but certain issues have clouded the whole thing over the years which at this late stage are best left alone and on the whole weren't the fault of Saint Etienne.

At the time of release, more and more bands were investigating remixes or tapping into the previously undiscovered dance element of their music, did you see an addition to your fan base as a result of Saint Etienne’s cover? A fan base that may have though that their interpretation was representative of The Field Mice?

BW: It's very hard to tell. After their single came out we were asked about it in nearly every interview and I'm sure their cover introduced the name The Field Mice to a lot more people but as to seeing an addition to our fan base nothing was particularly noticeable. I guess once they realised the Saint Etienne version wasn't very representative of The Field Mice they lost interest!

People are like that, the fickle swine’s.

Marc Bolans Greatest Hits

A self made CD of Marc Boland and T-Rex’s greatest hits. Nothing much to say about this really, 70’s pop, which is good, bad lyrics that were completely of their time, bearing on the preposterous, affected vocals, but altogether enjoyable. I guess its somewhere between 6 out of 10 and 10 out of 10.
When I was a young slip of a lad, long after Bolans death and career friends of mine bought a TV advertised greatest hits of Bolan, I didn’t really know much, or care much for his work and so carried on listening to Animal Boy by The Ramones, I had less in common with what The Ramones were saying on that album than what Bolan was saying, but it served its purpose. One track that was played to me that I enjoyed though was Dreamy Lady, a lovely lolloping tune that today gets play on my ipod, however for some reason I chose not to put it on this CD.
Forward on 18 years or so and I start to enjoy Marc Bolan, possibly as a result of seeing the film Billy Elliot, I am high brow aren’t I, and I think that is why I compiled this CD. Billy Elliot.
On the whole its good though, Ride A White Swan, Deborah, others…..oh Jeepster, yes I recall that. Its not really fulfilling though, yes it’s a break from the cycle of Blink 182, Belle and Sebastian and Billy Bragg but its not something that makes me want to wind down the window, turn it up loudly and catch the attention of a Volvo driver and mouth “listen to this shit”, not that I would anyway. 6 out of 10

Ride A White Swan by Marc Bolan

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant

Today should have been Abbey Road, but it appears that all of my kosher copies of Beatles albums, barring the White Album are unplayable in my car, Let It Be I got to play as I keep a copy in the car. It’s a pain, it probably would have got 8.
That’s neither here nor there though and you will never know my thoughts on Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
Next along was the 2000 album by Belle and Sebastian, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant.
Today was the first time I listened to this album as a whole, I can’t recall buying it either, most of the tracks were new to me it has to be said. I am unsure why I hadn’t listened to it, but its possible that I won’t listen to the CD again.
The best thing that I can say about this album, a disappointing album, is that it is very derivative, derivative of Belle and Sebastian, it sounds like Belle and Sebastian, it sounds like every other Belle and Sebastian album and a lot of the songs sound like watered down versions of other Belle and Sebastian songs.
Its quite a downbeat album and if I didn’t know better I would say as a band they were in turmoil as no one appears to be trying, the strings on one of the tracks are a direct lift of the strings on another Belle and Sebastian album, and this is the pattern for many of the tracks on the album.
There is a particular string sound, there is a particular way of singing, the whole sound of Belle and Sebastian is the sound of a band treading water and cheating their fans, it’s the sound of a band running out of steam. A very poor and a very generous 5 out of 10.

The Wrong Girl by Belle and Sebastian

Monday, 17 August 2009

Amelia Fletcher

When I was 16 a friend of mine played me a song by Talulah Gosh, a song also called Talulah Gosh, this big slice of twee indie was unlike anything in his record collection, a record collection that leaned heavily on Howard Jones and The Thomson Twins, little else actually, but perhaps as my own leanings as a 16 year old were The Wedding Present and The Housemartins, he perhaps knew that I may enjoy this single.

Talulah Gosh by Talulah Gosh

I did enjoy the single, it took what The Smiths were doing and made it good, it was at that point unlike anything I had heard outside of The Wedding Present, that record really was the start of my love affair with Indie that continues off and on to this day.

Getting Better by The Wedding Present Ft Amelia Fletcher

The singer in Talulah Gosh for 30 something males of a certain musical persuasion is their pin up, their heroine, the object of their desires, they have grown up with her, and in a time when girls in woolly tights, flowery skirts and brilliant corners t-shirts didn’t exist much, she was always around.
You see Amelia Fletcher has been doing what Amelia Fletcher does for well over 20 years, 23 years to be exact, and she still does it today.

Our Love Is Heavenly by Heavenly

Amelia Fletcher is the indie Kirstie MacColl, she is actually more than that but she has been described as that, contributing her backing vocal talents over the years to The Wedding Present, The Brilliant Corners, The Pooh Sticks, The 6th's and Hefner, and those are just the ones that immediately spring to mind, during a period at the back end of the eighties Amelia Fletcher was best described as ubiquitous.

Good Fruit by Hefner Ft Amelia Fletcher

Amelia also has been a member or is a member not only of Talulah Gosh, but also Heavenly, Sportique, Marine Research and Tender Trap, the girl, it has to be said, musically, gets about.
The thing with her, and I think this is her appeal is that her vocals are rather sweet, even now I hear her and I can’t help thinking, aaah, she is two parts kitten to one part furby, metaphorically speaking of course, the anti Helen Love it may seem but they do plough the same furrow, but where Love sings of Punk boys, Fletcher tells of Beatnik Boys. It is still boys though.

Queen B by Marine Research

Fletchers appeal over the years as heartthrob to boys and role model to girls doesn’t appear to wane, even with motherhood, even with the respectable job, she still has the potential to make grown men blush.

Face of 73 by Tender Trap

These days, as well as playing indie festivals and the like, she was, a lecturer at Oxford University and did something like advise the Dti on money things, Wikipedia will I am sure elaborate on that. You look it up, that’s probably a direct quote there "Amelia Fletcher did something like advise the Dti on money things"

Recent years has seen my love for all things Fletcher die down a little, during my formative years, Heavenly were perfect but as my tastes have got more aligned to Californian Punk, the summery sunshineyness of her resultant bands have washed over me a little, particularly as John Peel is dead and the kind of place they play, and the kind of people they play to, it makes me want to drop bombs, not beats. That’s not to say she isn’t much cop, its me, not her.

I am sure one day, for her services to money stuff the queen will award her an MBE or a Dame hood, but it would be nice to think it was for services to shaking a tambourine.

Amelia Fletcher, singer, songwriter, knows an awful lot about money stuff.

The Boy With The Arab Strap

The Boy With The Arab Strap is the in car Cd of choice today, the third album by Belle and Sebastian.
I am getting a little CD fatigue at the moment, I have a hankering for NOFX on my commute but aware that in a short period I have time off for Leeds Festival and a holiday I am being quite strict and sticking to the CD’s, there isn’t anything wrong with Belle and Sebastian but I really could do with a little non B action.
The album is a good one, its perhaps from their golden period, a time when not only albums were great, but ep’s and all the tracks on those ep’s were just as stunning.
The only real downside of thias album is one track and that is the jazz tinged A Space Boy Dream, its relation is more akin to Bitches Brew than Five Leaves Left, for some that’s a good thing, for me that’s not the case.
Outside of that it is Belle and Sebastian by numbers and fulfilling an unwritten obligation to the fans to provide up beat indie. That up beat indie is evident in droves, from Dirty Dream Number Two to the title track, from Sleep the Clock Around to A Summer Wasting, all great steering wheel bongos stuff.
The tone is more broodier on other tracks, the magnificent Seymour Stein or the Isobel Campbell sung Is It wicked Not To Care, all of this makes it a more than enjoyable listen, but it isn’t NOFX. 8 out of 10.

The Boy With The Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Doin' The Funky Chicken - I Feel So Un-Necessary

We have a guest post today, from the frontline of Funk, it's Tommy Wallnuts in all his glory ............

Having recently raced through Charlie Connelly's excellent In Search of Elvis - A Journey to Find the Man Beneath the Jumpsuit like an excited schoolboy, I realised soon enough that what had struck a chord were not the many (excellent) anecdotes relating to the King himself, but rather the references to some of the other colourful characters who could be found strutting
their stuff on Memphis's eclectic music scene in the late 1960s....none more so than the late, great Rufus Thomas..

Rufus Thomas (or RT as he was known) was one of Memphis's musical oddballs, not quite to the degree of say Screamin' Jay Hawkins (actually from Cleveland, but you get the idea.) nevertheless, when looking at his songs, it was really never the same bite twice. It seems certain
that the rather laid back attitude at Stax to what would sell or not definitely suited the man who referred to himself as 'The World's Oldest Teenager'.

Anyway in 1970 he released 'Do the Funky Chicken' which followed in the wake of a stream of other soul/funk "Do the..(fill space)" dance crazes at that time. So what made the Funky Chicken just head and shoulders better than the others? Well I think it's lines like " Oooooo I feel so unnecessary" and " I wanna do somethin' naaasty, like wave some chicken gravy down my white shirt" that really swing it for me.

But don't take my word for it... the link below features RT himself performing the song at the legendary Wattstax festival in 1973 in all his 'galline' glory, and marvel as I do at the sight of the squat, balding genius resplendant in his his pink shorts and boots and large ram's head medallion as he whips the near ectastic crowd into a frenzy with white foam clearly visible at the corners of his mouth.......

Jump forward 36 years to my rather gloomy and and cold living room on a wet Santiago Saturday morning.....

As I plug my i-pod into the stereo my 3 year-old son Nico enters stage left...

"Nico, Daddy's got a special surprise for you now" I tell him enigmatically

"Is it Incy, Wincey Spider?" comes the hopeful response

"No, it's......something else son, something special"

I hit 'play' and prepare myself by half-heartedly rolling my head about a bit....and as the first bars of stomping bass and stacatto horns and the deranged man-rooster cackle pierce the winter chill, I begin to follow RT's instructions by flapping, clucking, kicking and strutting around the parquet for all I'm worth. Needless to say I didn't take long for Nico to join in the fun, and some 20 minutes and 8 repeat back-to-back playings later we both collapse on the sofa in a sweaty heap having lost all control of both reason and voluntary muscle control, much to the bemusement of my heavily pregnant wife Daniela, who stands there hands on hips taking in the scene looking frankly concerned at what she's just witnessed.

"Don't worry", I gasp fighting for breath and trying to remove Nico's left foot from under my chin "Just drop a chicken stock cube in a mug and put the kettle on will you." I wheeze looking down the front of my sweaty, crumpled but otherwise spotlessly clean white T-shirt............

Charlie Connelly (no relation) says of the epitaph on Rufus Thomas's memorial (see photo)"When I go, I want a memorial stating that I too am 'the funkiest chicken of the South', even if the south in this case, is south London"

I know what he means, but to be honest I'd settle for a ram's head medallion.......

Take Off You Pants And Jacket

Saturdays bonus disc, the soundtrack to my journey from Stafford to Wigans arse kicking of Villa was Blink 182's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.
This is my favourite Blink 182 album containing my favourite Blink 182 song in Rock Show, considering the result of the football, I needed something that would cheer me up and this was as near as damn it a CD that would.
I think as pop punk goes, actually as rock music goes, this CD is possibly amongst the best, you have the fun good times songs in Anthem Pt 2, The Rock Show, First Date etc, then you have the incredibly peurile in Happy Holidays You Bastard and Mothers Day, but then also you have a song like Stay Together For The Kids, a song arguably that could have been on the Boxcar Racer album, similar in feel to I Feel So.
I really love this album, its an enjoyable romp start to finish at its Blink at the height of their powers, its a grin along album that you need to take seriously, out side of Happy Holidays You Bastard....or Mothers Day, neither of which are suitable to play around your aged mother, but that all pails with their song called Fuck A Dog, not on this album.
10 out of 10.

The Rock Show By Blink 182

Friday, 14 August 2009

Blink 182

Whilst Kev is shuffling I am listening to Blink 182’s eponymous album, their final studio album before their hiatus, re-emerging this year.
I will be honest with you hear, I listened to an album yesterday that I never reviewed, it was a double album, a compilation done for me by a friend a few years ago that I never listened to at the time, and this time I listened to half of it on the way to work, and a third of the second disc on the way home, and as I passed my wheelie bin I popped it in, it has nothing to do with todays listening, it was bad obscure indie that was dreadful.
Todays album is not Blink 182’s best and it does contain their worst bit of music in The Fallen Interlude but on the whole the album is good to listen to and at times has some works of genius, Down, Go, Feeling This, I Miss You as well as a song sung by Robert Smith of The Cure in All Of This.
It does have a few needless track in The Fallen Interlude and a live version Anthem Part Two, but they are crimes that are forgivable on the whole, after all anthem is a very good song.
The album though does venture into that maturer sound that bands, particularly of their ilk, have to adopt to continue selling records as their fanbase grows up, The Offspring, Green Day have tried to do it, so why not Blink 182? I personally think though that Blink 182’s attempts are a lot more enjoyable, fulfilling but perhaps not as profitable as Green Days, thankfully though Blink 182 collaborate with Robert Smith and not U2.
So all in all enjoyable, 8 out of 10

All Of This by Blink 182 ft Robert Smith

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Shuffle Medley

My friend Thom was musing this morning on his 3 song, car park to office, ipod shuffle medley musical accompaniment, and how this might determine the mood with which he enters the building, ready for a new day at the coalface. His three this morning were Dancin in the Moonlight - Van Morrison, Alphabet Street - Prince and Al Wilson's The Snake (yes Peter, I know it's a metaphor, but the woman went home with a snake for God's sake). His musings spookily coincided with my own thoughts, as I have being trying to formulate a posting on my own shuffle experiences of yesterday, which were
  • Tree Top Flyer - Stephen Stills

  • That's When I Reach for My Revolver - Mission of Burma

  • You Don't Know Like I Know - Sam & Dave

I'm sure people more learn-ed than me have written wise words on the topic of how the ipod has shaped our listening habits, and how society is now even more fractured due to us all being cocooned in our own little world, with our own soundtrack. Does anyone today ever phone up a friend and say 'I've got the new ****** album! Wanna come over for a listen?' I guess not, we no longer listen comunally, unless we're at a concert. I'm not talking about listening to the new ELP album in a religious silence, but there is a joy to listening together isn't there? The shared experience? No? Oh put your headphones back on then.

I remember a computing teacher at school telling me that computers only did what we told them to do. In my case, with no interest in such machines (or the people who used them, other than my friend Stu who had a fishtailed parka and liked The Who), this meant nothing to me, other than a vague understanding that we control the machine, rather than it controlling us. The ipod is the same. It only plays what we put into it, although the combinations created on shuffle can create emotionally confusing episodes when sardine'd onto the metro and pressed up against the back of a builder who knocked off early and has been in the pub for three hours. Stale beer and fags smell suit a random Damned track but not Bobby Darin.

I have recently been listening to a podcast of Treasure Island, read by nasal Americans with little feeling for the language. A short burst of pirates, maps and one legged scoundrels sandwiched between Natacha Atlas, Merle Haggard and At the Drive-In, turn the whole thing into something akin to the soundtrack for Carry on Up the Atlas Mountains crossed with the Dukes of BioHazard.

But this is what we're all after isn't it? It's the personal shopper we can't afford. It's the butler we'll never have bringing us our slippers and crack pipe at the end of a long day. It's personalised, monogrammed, hand made and rolled on the thighs of virgins for your own satisfaction. It's not just right up your street, it's knocked on your door, and if there's nobody in it's gone round the back, let itself in, and put the kettle on, and there are two cups with teabags in, one with sugar and the other with sweetner. That's how good it is.

But is it? The ipod can't replicate that feeling you get when you hear something on the radio that stops you in your tracks, and you have to press your ear to the speaker in order to catch who it was, and when the divjockey doesn't say who it is you scramble around in your own head for a fragment of the lyrics in order to find it. The ipod doesn't do that.

I have a wife, and I don't want to swap her (unless of course it's for a re-chroming of my 1959 Lambretta), but the principle is a good one. Lets gather like minded people together, throw our ipods in a dish and go home with someone elses musical mrs.

It seems only fitting to now have a video from The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I forget at times that I have more Blur albums than is normally considered acceptable, but I also own 2 more Alien Ant Farm albums than is considered acceptable, current count is 2.
13 today, no not me, todays listening was 13 by Blur, I bet any money that it was produced by Eno, I havent checked yet, but I reckon it was.......wikipedia......nah, William Orbit, that kind of makes sense, its at times a little noodley, not in a Paul "Check this tasty riff out" Weller kind of way. More of a string a song out to 7 minutes kind of way. That would be a bad thing if it wasn't this album, but as it is this album, "7 minutes sir? you couldn't make it closer to 8 could you?", Why certainly!

This album contains my favourite Blur song, and one of my favourite ever songs in No Distance Left To Run, where as Albarn was leaving behind moustachiod Elastica frontman Justine Frischmann, it was rather poignant for me as at the time I was going through relationship woes with my hobbit like wife, but that will be represented I am sure some years in the future when we hit the Pernice Brothers.
I digresse, not only are we treated to No Distance... but also Tender, Battles, 1992 and Swamp Song, a truly well formed adult album that cuts free of woohoos and knees up muvva brahnisms, its a thinking album, cerebral, and a bloody good album at that.
This album sees Graham definitely getting more of a voice and the first green shoots of The Gorillaz, showing in Damons vocals, Damons next recorded work was with Deltron 3030, teaming up with Dan the Automator prior to recording the Gorillaz debut album, or as they were described, The Banana Splits.
So in summary, an enjoyable album, made me listen to it, and not just have it playing in the background whilst I called cyclists that dont use cycle paths c#$%s. 8 out of 10.

No Distance Left To Run by Blur

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Vespertine today, Bjorks album and one that I had planned out in my mind, just how intolerable it was going to be. I think Bjork has been the real surprise of the B’s as I found this album strangely pleasing.
I decided that it was going to be a 2 before it went on, I do that for all albums, I judge books by their covers and every CD I mark it before I play it and adjust that mark accordingly, so Vespertine was initially a 2.
It isn’t a two though as it is a really well formed and interesting album, it was the follow up to selmasongs and that alone should have alerted me to the fact that this album would be quite exciting, and it is, it’s a really enjoyable journey in all honesty.
I don’t profess to being a lyrics man, very few songs do I even listen to lyrics, and even fewer songs do I know the lyrics to, but this album seems rather sad in its own way, rather mournful and regretful. That may be just my take on it.
Coccon, track 2, which is a beautiful song, is rather filthy mind, it would make you blush, but where it is rather saucy, it does it in a beautiful way, its not Sid James.
So in summary, I really enjoyed this album, I like the Schneider TM like beats, I love the lyrics, Bjorks singing on this album is inoffensive and the production is fairly great, all in all I must be getting old. 7 out of 10.

Cocoon by Bjork

Monday, 10 August 2009

New Scoot

Today's post is slightly celebratory. At the ripe old age of 40, baldy, paunchy and prone to complaining about the pain in my back, I have been able to tick something else off the list marked Things I Want to Do Before I'm So Fat I Can't Get Off The Sofa. A premature 'Bucket List' if you will. It's probably asking for trouble but I've bought, with the full support of the committee (she will probably want one too), a 1959 Lambretta LI 150. It's red, a bit scuffed, doesn't start and is a new entry on my (other) list entitled Things To Defend with Your Life.

Even though I probably went home and listened to Status Quo and Neil Diamond, the late seventies Mod revival had a lasting effect on me. I had a Harrington with a Bad Manners sew-on patch on it. My mate had the loafers and The Jam albums. I reeled in shock when Terry Hall sang about 'piss stains' on his shoes. I remember buying The Lambrettas single 'Poison Ivy' (the old Coasters hit) and playing it to death. I think I knew it wasn't about a plant, although I have a healthy mistrust of green climbers to this day.

This is to celebrate my new scoot.

Wake Up

Wake Up its a beautiful morning, the commercial radio DJ’s dream song, and one of the songs on todays commute CD, Wake Up by The Boo Radleys. 1995 if memory serves me and an album owned by my short wife and sent to me on tape when I working at Butlins, I played it a lot that year.
The Boo Radleys, or to quote Simon Bates, that’s Bob Randley. He was a bit of an idiot that Simon Bates.
Any hoo, Wake Up is perhaps the bands most accessible work and it does have flashes of genius, although their interludes do get samey at times and they have a lot of interludes. Interludes aside, this album has some extremely fine tracks on it, Wilder in particular, It’s Lulu, Wake up Boo, Find The Answer Within, and a few more besides.
The thing with The Boo Radleys, and many bands in a similar position, they don’t like to keep to a formula and so the follow up was such a disappointment.
I think it was all downhill after this, squeezing out two more albums and then splitting up, Martin Carr the main songwriter went on to be Wichita records signing Brave Captain, Bassist Tim Brown is now a teacher, Steve the former drummer had a stint in Placebo, Rob Cieka is in a band with Bez and Sice, the baldie headed lead singer is now the baldie headed lead singer of the band Paperlung. You now know all there is to know about Boo Radleys.
The album though, its a good album and if this was 1995 it would be a great album, but as the world in 2009 isnt as forgiving as 1995, 6 out of 10.

Wilder by The Boo Radleys

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Cider with Roadies

I'm half way through Stuart Maconie's Cider with Roadies. It veers from the mundane to the laugh out loud funny, although there are many pages when I wonder how this ended up on a page, as it's just so ordinary. He ended up on 6 Music via the NME and Q Magazine, so I'm hoping the second half of the book picks up. Anyway, as a native of Wigan he has plenty to say on the Northern Soul scene, so I'm going with Tony Clarke's Landslide, which is highly praised by Maconie. Around the time he exits university he has moved on to Orange Juice and Postcard records, so I'm lobbing in some Edwyn Collins.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Saturday and I am working again and so it is the self titled album by Blur. Some weeks ago I said that they, Blur, didn’t really hit their stride until the last 2 albums, 13 and Think Tank. I may be wrong about that and listening to this album really confirms that error. I likd and like a lot of the tracks on this album and as one finished I thought, aha another I like. Song 2 may be a worldwide anthem now, but it is still a great song. One afternoon in Virgin around the time of the release of this album the stereo in store went off just before the Woo-hoo, and a vast majority of the shop sung it, its an infectious song.
Its not just Song 2 though, there is more to this album than a video game soundtrack, I’m Just A Killer For You Love, Country Sad Ballad Man are the non single tracks that highlight the songwriting talent of Blur. The singles on this album would be difficult to better thankfully a million miles away from the comedy of Country House. All in all a pretty good album that I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed it at the time. 8 out of 10.

Country Sad Ballad Man by Blur

Friday, 7 August 2009

Dog In The Sand

I should have put Howl in the car 2 days running, I apologise if anyone gets this delivered by RSS to a work email, or you object to any of the following words, Shite, Filled, A and R, Bypassing, Pile, Of, Bollocks.
That all said todays car journey CD was the Frank Black album Dog In The Sand. Without being too rude it is best described as a shite filled A and R bypassing pile of bollocks. It appeared to put an extra hundred miles on my journey, seemingly a hundred miles that were cold grey and lifeless, I appeared to be stuck tearfully in a gridlock of emotions that were neither joyful or content. This album is a stinker, its lazy, cliche driven, middle of the road whilst dressing as a hip young gunslinger, this is I Just Called To Say I Love You, this a moustache on the Mona Lisa. I did not like at all.
Even ruling out Black's career with the Pixies and arguably his first couple of solo efforts, this is an unforgivable album, he has popped his career on cruise control and he is reading his stars, (Aries, you will find an overwhelming urge to release dull rock that only loyal followers will buy and like as they hope one day you will write something close to your early career output, oh and a dark haired man will talk washing machines with you), he needs to pay attention to his career and put down the metaphorical newspaper. This is a bad album, a really really bad album. No song was memorable, no song was enjoyable, 0 out of 10. it would be less than zero but then we get into that stupid X factor one million percent nonsense. No video as well, as that would imply there was something good about this.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Ages ago I reviewed a self made Black Rebel Motorcycle Club compilation and gave it 1 out of 10. Today I listened to a copy of an album a friend made me by the same band, the album is called Howl and I have to be quick here as cider is being poured downstairs and Chiles is on the telly, a thrilling cocktail, you will no doubt agree.
Anyway Howl, Howl just may be the first CD that gets into the car 2 days on the trot, it is an absolutely fantastic album that was a joy to listen to start to finish. Influences on this still are Big Star, but also a nice combination of watered down Delta blues, gospel and enough rock for it not to make the mistakes of the early singles I hated.
This album, potentially could be the best B when I get to the end, mainly because I was not expecting it to be so flaming good. Seek it out, really, in the mean time cider beckons 10 out of 10, I am not shitting you. Just wish it was more detailed.

Open Invitation by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Have You Fed The Fish

Almost fittingly, as he is from the north, today I returned to Badly Drawn Boy and his 2002 album Have You Fed The Fish. Goughs third album and I think the last one that I bought, I may be wrong on that as although I have this on my ipod, I don’t recall buying it.
As I have said before I am a fan of BDB, I consider him to be a great songwriter, not good, great. Musically sometimes he faffs about, he doesn’t on this album, well not as much as on About A Boy, this in comparison is faff free.
It does contain one of if not my favourite BDB song in You Were Right and if the list I had done a few months ago extended to 100, that song would have featured.
However, even without the faff, this album is not nearly as good as his previous efforts and I find it difficult to listen to All Possibilities without thinking of Scots groupie, Edith Bowman telling me about the fantastic range of fridges on offer in my local branch of a leading electrical retailer.
This album features the drumming talents of Joey Waronker, you don’t know the name but you know his chops, trust me you do. This album also feature some musicians that enabled Blunt album see the light of day, fucking enablers.
Its rather telling that this album soundtracked a steady 70mph when I tend to be nearer 90 when NOFX are playing so for safety and law abiding purposes Badly Drawn Boy is the tops, well until I play my wifes Natalie Imbruglia, but then that might be responsible for a different crime. 6 out of 10.

You Were Right by Badly Drawn Boy

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Don't Try This At Home

I don’t dislike Billy Bragg, I really enjoy his music, its more of a guilt thing and having to subject you the reader to BB overdose, I mean how many albums do I need, and this morning was indeed another, the M6 between junctions 14 and 27 were soundtracked by Billy Bragg and the album, Don’t Try This At Home.
My wife pretty much banned me from listening to Billy Bragg in around 2002, which was OK as it kind of coincided with the when I was going off him, I like to let her believe that she has had a small victory, I also put the toilet seat down when the mood takes me. The thing is though I listen to albums like this and on the whole I realise why I used to like him so much, yeah he is a leftie and lefties tend not to have a sense of humour, oh they believe they have, but they don’t, and I should know, rewind back to 2001 and you will have seen me outside Telford Town Centre trying to get you to buy Socialist Worker, you didn’t buy it by the way, you looked at your feet and hastily made off, I don’t blame you for this, I do it myself now.
None of this of course tells you about this Bragg album or my thoughts regarding it. Well for the uninitiated this album is the home of the singles, Sexuality, Accident Waiting To Happen and You Woke Up My Neighbourhood, the latter featuring Michael Stipe and Peter Buck, who Bragg appeared with earlier in the year under the guise of Bingo Hand Job, a recording of their version of Tom’s Diner appears somewhere else in my record collection, on an REM bootleg and it is without question up there amongst the worst cover versions ever, think Annie Lennox doing Train In Vain or James Blunt doing Where Is My Mind.
I digresse, this album also feature the contribution of Johnny Marr, and if you have read my views on him contributing to other tracks you might know that I do not rate Johnny Marrs production highly at all, him and the ginger one from Queens of the Stone Age are so caught up in their own egos they have to have their stamp any artist they work with, and it is Marrs contribution to this album that taints it.
It is not a bad album however, in the scheme of things Braggs take on Fred Neils’ The Dolphins is as good as any and much better than the version Beth Orton recorded with Terry Callier.
Also on this album we have Braggs ode to his father in Tank Park Salute, a really touching song and amongst the best of his career. We also have Bragg eulogising former Wolves player, Peter Knowles in Gods Footballer, Knowles was a Wolves player that gave it all up for religion.
Outside of these tracks we also have Cindy of a Thousand Eyes and Everywhere, but also Braggs worst, lyrically, song ever in Body Of Water, Christ it stinks.
As a whole though at 15 tracks long its easy to forget the bad, so 7 out of 10.

Tank Park Salute by Billy Bragg

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Beatles

Blimey Charlie, today I listened to The Beatles, or The White album depending on your preference, it is a lengthy expensive album, that in places has moments of greatness and in places has moments of Yoko.
This album is the 30th Anniversary edition, bought by my wife and cost in the region of 30 quid, EMI really did like to squeeze every penny out of Beatles albums and my current wife thoughtfully got it me for my Birthday.
I know from reading too many Beatles book and using my ears that this is a fractured recording, the sound of a band on its uppers, possibly one of the last concerted efforts to get something Beatles on record, some songs didn’t make the cut and appeared on the final Beatles albums proper.
What you get with The Beatles though are 3 musicians trying to make solo records, Lennon in particular is having a stab at his debut solo album and Julia would not have been out of place on Plastic Ono Band, and it is with perhaps one eye on this record that Lennon had whilst putting together his songs.
McCartney is also guilty, his, at times intolerably optimistic songs grate and seem totally at odds with Lennons often spiteful lyrics, on the one hand you have the angry young man and on the other you have the thumbs aloft optimist. Both seem to be in their own world, if not their own studio.
The songs though if you remove the filler, are amongst the best ever recorded by the Beatles, from the sublime Dear Prudence, the rock n rolling Back In The USSR, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, I Will, Julia, Don’t Pass Me By, Cry Baby Cry and Helter Skelter, if this album were two sides long this could be amongst the best ever made, and if you believe Rolling Stone magazine, its in the top ten.
But what about the songs that aren’t akin to Helter Skelter or I Will? What about the songs that have more in common with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, or worse? Well who knows who had the most influence on this album , but there are too many Savoy truffles, too many Obladi bloody dahs and too many Rocky flaming racoons and if there was one of the above then it would be forgivable but it seems George Martin pissing off during recording meant that the voice of reason left the building too, you say you want a revolution? Well yes we do but can we have the fantastic rock n roll track and not Revolution bloody number 9. Stick your Stockhausen up your hausen.
So how do I mark a great album, that is overly long, meandering, selfish, disjointed, drug fuelled and probably seemed like a great idea at the time. 10 for the great songs, 0 for the bad? 7 for the good the bad and the ugly. 7 out of 10.

I Will by The Beatles

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman

I finished my new book this weekend, it is Scar Tissue, the biography of Red Hot Chilli Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis.
I must say after the Elvis book it was a breath of fresh air, Elvis is Elvis and all but hell he led a dull life, but as Kiedis sampled his first drugs before he was a tennager and this carried on off and on until 2001, this rollercoaster wasnt about love but the life that he led during and around those highs.
The book documents all the shittyness associated with hardcore drug use and for a man that has an image to retain and rely on, the warts are and all, and the tales of of excess.
In amongst his dalliances with heroin, cocaine, crack, speed, meth, canabis and alcohol, we also get an insight into how the band came about, how they lost and discarded their members, and how they became what they became.
Kiedis explains his own behaviour and tries to put the case on why at times he can be perceived as a bit of a diva.
The book also chronicles Kiedis relationships with women over the years and this is given almost as much focus as his drug abuse, you get a sese that he is a romantic and each and every female encounter of note left a lasting impression on him.
So the book itself is an excellent read, weighing in at over 450 pages and nothing is hidden. You are left at the end hoping that he doesn't return to the drugs, but I certianly thought it was quite inevitable. I came away from it actually liking Kiedis, from a stand point of thinking him an arrogant arsehole.
On the whole though one of the better mucic biographies I have read and it will be a difficult one to follow.

Back To Basics

I thought it may have been Billy Bragg and what do you know, it was, the odds weren’t the most adventurous though. Today though it is the compilation of early material, Back To Basics.
This album is a compilation of the albums Life's A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy and Brewing Up with Billy Bragg and the EP Between The Wars. This should be an easy album to review then, Lifes a riot got 9 and Brewing up with got 8, bingo, 17 out of 20, or 8.5 out of 10.
Which it could be, and I don’t want to be too dismissive here, but as these songs are coming round over and over again I don’t really have much more to say on them, I did on my commute agree that Saturday Boy is still one of the finest songs ever written and lyrically A New England probably can’t be bettered, and that the Leon Rosselson song, Th World Turned Upside Down is done absolutely superbly.
So that’s it really, if this had been The Internationale you would have got something more indepth as it isn’t, Back To Basics, 9 out of 10.

Saturday Boy by Billy Bragg