Thursday, 22 March 2018

My Top Ten Grace Kelly Songs

She looked like a princess... no wonder she ended up marrying a prince.

Hollywood's loss was Monaco's gain.

Here's ten songs paying tribute to one of the most beautiful actresses ever...

10. Herman Brood - Hit

"The greatest and only Dutch Rock 'n' roll star" plays his Hit...

The lyrics are a bit rude so you can try to make them out yourself if you want.

9. Paul Gilbert - Six Billion People

Paul Gilbert was the guitarist in Mr. Big.

Wait, wait, come back!

He's also considered one of the fastest guitar players in the world... and he's made some pretty cool solo records. This one is rather sweet...
There are six billion people on this planet
But I'll only ever fall in love with two
One is a black and white photo of Grace Kelly
And the other you might like to know is you

8. Piebald - Grace Kelly With Wings

That's more than a dress, it's a Grace Kelly movie...

From the album 'If It Weren't For Venetian Blinds, It Would Be Curtains For Us All', which is surely the greatest album title ever...

Or not.

7. The Chameleons - As High As You Can Go

Some "out of tune boys" take it to the top...

Grace Kelly to Garbo
Clawed their way to the stars
I think they knew
No I don't care who you are
Just sign the line and away you fly
Take a chance and join the dance
And you can make the sound
Take a chance and join the dance
And we can go to ground
Go to ground
And I don't care who you are
Just sign the line and away you fly

6. Brian Setzer - '59

The former Stray Cat frontman was born in 1959 and everything he loves comes from that year...

Well the prince said, "Hey, Grace Kelly
Would you be my wife?"
And Bobby Darin sang Mack The Knife
They took Eddie Cochran, what could we do?
Once he was gone we knew that rock and roll was through.
We had technicolor at the scene of the crime
Coupe Devilles rolling off of the line.

5. Moxy Früvous - King of Spain

If this song doesn't make you crack a smile, then I think we're going to need a chisel...

Royalty, lord it looked good on me
Buried in silk in the royal boudoir or going nuclear free
Or playing Crokinole with the Princess of Monaco
Telling my jokes to the OPEC leaders, getting it all on video

4. Mika - Grace Kelly

You're either going to dig this or you're not. Probably not, since most of you aren't even Queen fans, and this is just a wannabe-Freddie. As wannabe Freddies go though, it's pretty great. Pity Mika couldn't follow it with anything even half as amazing.

I try to be like Grace Kelly
But all her looks were too sad
So I try a little Freddie
I've gone identity mad!

3. Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire

One of those songs that will no doubt divide the readership of this blog... with me on one side and everyone else on the other. But who wants to be popular? Yes, it does owe a lot to It's The End Of The World As We Know It (But I Feel Fine) by REM... but it's still a monster. And the video's brilliant.

Get used to it, anyway... it could well pop up again whenever I need it...

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

2. Eels - Grace Kelly Blues

The kind of brilliant "keep smiling even when you don't feel like it" song which E specialises in.

The actress gave up all her old dreams
And traded up now she is a queen
Royal families don't have time for that shit
Your crystal ball, you keep it hid

1. Lloyd Cole - Four Flights Up

Lyrical genius ahoy! You don't just get Grace Kelly in this song, but Truman Capote too. And a diamante crocodile! Nobody does it like Lloyd...

You came driving back to town
In a beat up Grace Kelly car
Looking like a friend of Truman Capote
Looking exactly like you are
Yes, I know that's your charm

Any Grace Kelly songs in your collection?

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Radio Songs #29: You're The Radio

Where were we?

The Traffic Girl. She had a boyfriend. And then she didn't...

"They've split up," her friend told me.

"She really likes you," her friend told me.

"You should ask her out," her friend told me.

Well, that rather put me on the spot, didn't it? I mean, that was exactly what I wanted to do... but it was also the last thing I wanted to do. Because asking someone out is pretty fucking terrifying. Especially when you're 18 and you've never done it before, but it seems like everyone else has been doing it for years.

But somehow, after a sleepless night or two, I plucked up the courage. I remember waiting out in that pale, artificially lit, underground corridor (sounds pretty creepy, huh?) for her to make the short walk down from Traffic to Studio A. I remember the butterflies... no, the bats... no, the pterodactyls that were circling and swirling in my stomach. I don't remember the words I used... but I do remember that she said yes.



And that was it. Probably the greatest moment of my life (up to that point). Or it certainly felt that way. Bloody teenage hormones.

Keen students of human nature will probably have guessed the ending to this story already, but there are two more chapters. First, the date.

My FIRST date.


29. Thea Gilmore - You're The Radio

You can always rely on Thea to put lyrics to the confusion of emotional entanglements. This was the lead single from her 2010 album Murphy's Heart.

I was hope gone to the dogs
Seven hundred ways to sing the blues
Cue the princes and the frogs
Cue those Capulets and Montagues...
I'm the joker in the pack
I've been waiting for the perfect time
You're the ace and you're the jack
You're the reason baby, I'm the rhyme...
I'm the song, you're the radio!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #92

Henry Gray released his latest album, 92, last year... so named, because that's how old he is. Let's hope he's got many more albums to come.

As for 92 songs though... what did you suggest?

Well, everyone has learned to keep away from years now, which is very good, but it does mean we can't have the excellent '92 Subaru by Fountains Of Wayne. Shame, but the FoW boys won Number 95, so they've had their moment.

Another one I'd have had to disqualify if you'd suggested it would have been 992 Arguments by The O'Jays. Pity, because that's a cracker too. Great lyrics.

Nobody even suggested B92 by Saint Etienne, which featured here not too long ago on My Top Ten Postcode Songs.

C was first to jump in with a proper suggestion, but it was my second place choice this week... 92 Degrees by Siouxsie & The Banshees. What I love about this song is that it begins with a quote from one of my favourite 50s Sci Fi movies, It Came From Outer Space...

"Did you know, Putnam, that more murders are committed at 92 Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easygoing. Over 92, it's too hot to move. But just 92, people get irritable"

But it was another 92 Degrees that clinched the title this week, and for the second time in this competition, Alyson & Rigid Digit shared the points. I'll let RD do the introduction, because he nailed it...

"A fine slab of Black Country Grungey-Grebo-Samply-Rap(ish)-Indie..." 

Next week... I may have to use a year song. But it won't be a remix or anything like that. It also won't be what you expect... but I'm willing to have my mind changed if you can come up with a better suggestion. Go for it!

Monday, 19 March 2018

46 Years Ago Today...

...this was Number One in the hit parade. It's a wonderfully melodramatic performance of a hugely emotive song, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger and originally released on their 1970 album, No Dice. Their version's pretty low-key compared to Harry Nilsson's "shatter the wine glasses" remake... only Mariah Carey managed to ever take the song one step further into undiluted histrionics... though most rational people understand deep down in their heart of hearts that her version is utter pants, and an insult to Nilsson's memory. She also managed to turn the track into a perennial X-Factor stalwart... for which there can be no forgiveness.

Harry Nilsson was a hugely talented singer-songwriter in his own right, so it's somewhat disappointing that the song he's most remembered for isn't one of his own. He certainly wrote and recorded far better songs... but none quite so popular and all-encompassing. That's not to say I don't like Without You, and I certainly believe his to be the definitive performance.

Despite winning the Ivor Novello award for Without You, the song led only to tragedy for its writers. After Badfinger's business manager ran off with all their money in 1975, lead singer Pete Ham hung himself. He was almost 28, and about to become a father. Eight years later, still mourning his former bandmate, Without You's co-writer Tom Evans also hung himself over a dispute over the royalties.

Harry Nilsson struggled to match the single's success, despite critical glories for subsequent releases. (I've got every Nilsson album - and there's some great material in there.) He went on to work on an album with his old friend John Lennon, but ruptured a vocal chord during the recording.

Nilsson also owned a flat in Mayfair, London, where two tragic rock 'n' roll deaths occurred. Mama Cass died in her sleep while staying there in 1974 (she did not choke on a ham sandwich: that's a cruel urban legend). Four years later, The Who's Keith Moon took an overdose there. Nilsson wasn't present for either death, but he sold the flat soon after (to Pete Townshend, of all people!), believing it cursed.

Conspiracy theorists might well argue the same about this song...

(Nilsson quit the music industry in 1980 following John Lennon's death. He died of a heart attack in 1994... while recording his "comeback" album.)

Without You was Number One on the day I was born.

Today, I'm working a 12 hour shift, starting with my worst class of the week.

"I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday," as some infamous northern miserablist once sang...

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Saturday Snapshots #24 - The Answers

Sorry, I wasn't around on Saturday night this week to do the scoring. Answers only, then...

I'll try to give credit where credit is deserved in the comments later...

10. When Harry met Karen, he was still a virgin. A good snog sorted that out.

Harry Chapin + Karen Carpenter + The Virgin Mary...

Mary Chapin-Carpenter - Passionate Kisses

9. Crossing the snow while getting down: that would be my desire.

Skee-lo - I Wish

8. A Scottish thief  gets your sleeping quarters ready.

Ian McNabb - You Must Be Prepared To Dream

7. They failed Humpty Dumpty: the FBI were brought in to investigate their strong-arm tactics.

All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.

Strong arm = Armstrong (Louis)

The Kingsmen were investigated by the FBI who suspected the lyrics to Louie Louie were either subversive or pornographic. They were actually just gibberish, as Todd Snider explains here.

The Kingsmen - Louie Louie

6. An open invitation to boogie from Texas.

Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody

5. Calling myself a testicle. ID required.

Apparently, Kloot is Dutch slang for testicle.

I Am Kloot - Proof

4. Woken up early by repeated bangs.

Dawn (featuring Tony Orlando, of course) - Knock Three Times

3. Hit in the gob with burnt feet.

Smashmouth - Walking On The Sun

2. Listening to The Knack, Toto and Hall & Oates on the wireless while cutting a Roman into four.

The Knack, Toto and Hall & Oates all recorded songs called Africa.

Latin Quarter - Radio Africa

1. Girls want them... but not every evening.

Thanks for playing. More next week.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Saturday Snapshots #24

Don't be Blue - it's Saturday Snapshots time!

Identify ten artists and ten songs from the clues below, please...

10. When Harry met Karen, he was still a virgin. A good snog sorted that out.

9. Crossing the snow while getting down: that would be my desire.

8. A Scottish thief  gets your sleeping quarters ready.

7. They failed Humpty Dumpty: the FBI were brought in to investigate their strong-arm tactics.

6. An open invitation to boogie from Texas.

5. Calling myself a testicle. ID required.

4. Woken up early by repeated bangs.

3. Hit in the gob with burnt feet.

2. Listening to The Knack, Toto and Hall & Oates on the wireless while cutting a Roman into four.

1. Girls want them... but not every evening.

Answers on a Chelsea mor... sorry, I meant Sunday morning.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Radio Songs #28: Radio Sweetheart

Continued due to popular demand... and because I haven't had time to write anything else for today...

My first date then, was with a traffic girl. Now, immediately, if you've never worked in radio, you've probably got the wrong end of the stick. When you think of the word "traffic" in relation to the wireless, you probably think of traffic and travel reports, which are the bread and butter of local radio in terms of clinging onto listeners. But traffic also has another meaning in radio - "commercial trafficking" - specifically the scheduling of adverts and promotional material throughout the day to meet the needs of advertisers (who, for example, will pay more to have their ads played at peak times such as breakfast and evening drive) and also avoid embarrassing clashes (such as having the ads of two competing double-glazing companies run back-to-back in the same break).

Those (three) of you who are following this series with interest may remember that by this time I was finally getting paid to work in radio, and the money came from sitting in the studio and sorting out split ad breaks for the presenters. It would also involve liaising with the Commercial Traffic department to sort out any problems with those breaks. And occasionally, it would involve popping into the Comprod (Commercial Production) studio to get carts repaired... which involved approaching one of the most grumpiest and surliest men in the building... who would later become one of my best friends in the industry. (A good job, as I ended up working in Comprod myself for many years. Ironically, we were both made redundant at the same time. I'm a teacher now, he's a trolley dolly - his term! - with a large airline. Time may change us, but we can't change time.)

The welcome I received in Traffic was much warmer than the one I received in Comprod though, particularly from one of the two young ladies who worked in there. She was also the one who brought us the new ad log in at the end of the day and I started to make a point of nipping out into the corridor at roughly the time she did this so I could "bump into her" and exchange a pleasant chat with a pretty girl. (I wonder if in this day and age this would be considered "stalking"... and I'm reminded of Alyson's story of how she contrived a similar meeting with the man she ended up marrying... but I do hope not. That kind of behaviour is a minefield though, and I'm glad it's a minefield I don't have to lose limbs to on a regular basis any more.)

As the lady in question seemed more than happy to smile and chat (dare I say 'flirt'?) with me, soon enough the inevitable happened. I was smitten.

There were only two problems:

1) My inexperience in the dating arena and intrinsic low self-esteem (masked, as always, by sarcasm and self-deprecating wit).

2) She had a boyfriend.

2.1) And not just any boyfriend.

2.2) He was a jock at the station.

2.3) He was also (subjective opinion) a bit of a dick.

To be continued...

28. Elvis Costello - Radio Sweetheart

Not the first radio song most people will think of when they consider Mr. Costello, but I'm saving the more obvious one for a very specific story later in the series, the tale of how I almost got fired because of Robbie Williams.

Radio Sweetheart was originally recorded by a pre-Attractions Elvis Costello and released as the b-side of his debut single, Less Than Zero. His backing band at the time was made up of members of the American group Clover - some of whom would go on to join Huey Lewis's News (Huey was also a member of Clover but didn't work with Elvis here). Others went on to join the Doobie Brothers and Tommy Tutone. This song has become a fan favourite and has been included as a bonus track on the many re-issues of Elvis's debut album, My Aim Is True. To me, it has a country vibe which lays the way for his later album, Almost Blue (a live version is also included on my reissue of that album).

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