Sunday, 30 December 2012

My Top Ten Albums Of 2012

OK, yesterday I did #20 - 11. Before we get to the Top Ten though, I'd like to take a moment to mention a record that would have made this chart, had my copy not arrived earlier this week, after my Top Twenty had been put to bed. (I ordered it ages ago, but the postman obviously nicked the first one as it never arrived... something that's happened quite a lot this Christmas.)

Anyway, The North Sea Scrolls is a collaboration between "The Legend That Is" Luke Haines, former Fatima Mansion Cathal Coughlan, and author / Blazing Zoo frontman Andrew Mueller. The Scrolls tell a secret, semi-hidden history of the British Isles in which Ian Ball (from Gomez) is replaced by Ian Ball (the attempted kidnapper of Princess Anne in 1974), Arthur Scargill becomes the Witchfinder General, the obscure bit-part actor Tony Allen is revealed to be "...the hidden hand behind the paintings of Sir Francis Bacon, the secret lover of Sid James, a patient of R.D. Laing, an assiduous curator of Northern Soul, and the probable catalyst for the least tedious stretches of the career of Fleetwood Mac", Enoch Powell is made Poet Laureate (as well as joining Steve Hillage in Gong), and the DJ Chris Evans is burnt at the stake, only to subsequently become a martyr.

"He said 'Cry no more for Jimmy Five-Bellies
Save your tears for Billie'.
Hospital radio to the breakfast show
The flames kissed my golden curls - and I kissed a thousand girls
Oh, I was a sinful man... when I was a kissogram."

Frankly, it's a work of genius (a horrifically over-used word, even on this blog, but rarely more accurately applied) and it might easily have slipped its way into my Top Three of 2012 had I not already unveiled #11 - 20. I'd recommend you purchase a copy of the limited edition 2 disc CD before they're all gone (I think there's a few still left on Amazon, after that it'll be available by download only).

"...however, as the album in question... is a suite of obtusely satirical songs linked by whimsical spoken word sequences... absolutely nobody pays any attention."

10. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

Because he's still The Boss and he's still got plenty to say. And because seeing him live again this summer was a highlight of my year.

Recommended tracks: Death To My Hometown, Wrecking Ball.

9. Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Still not sure why Ben felt the need to get his old band back together, particularly as the resultant album sounds no different to the material he's been releasing solo since the Five split 12 years ago. While not quite as earth-shatteringly brilliant as his recent collaboration with Nick Hornby (though one track is a leftover Hornby co-composition from those sessions), the album does feature a song which advises, "If you can't draw a crowd, draw dicks on a wall" and a video featuring Fraggle Rock. What else do you need to know?
Sara already knows pretty soon she'll be leaving
Well, she's hoovered up whatever she can find
But she doesn't want to hear about
Pregnancies, foam fights, TV, take-outs, have sex, weddings
The sound of the life she'll leave behind
Recommended tracks: Do It Anyway, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.  

8. Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar

27 years after their last album (god, that makes me feel old), Kevin Rowland drags back a couple of his old collaborators, adds a couple of new ones, and unleashes a monster only he could have created. An autobiographical concept album that won't be for everyone... but if you get it, you'll love it.

Recommended tracks: I'm Always Going To Love You followed immediately by Incapable of Love. (You have to listen to them in that order.)
7. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Of course, Jack White's first solo album doesn't sound any different to The White Stripes - he even rips off his most famous guitar riff on one track. That said, in places this records sounds both ultra-contemporary and fabulously retro. There are very few artists who can straddle 60 years of rock 'n' roll so effortlessly. Plus, I'm a sucker for the Noo Yoik accent Jack adopts on I'm Shaking. "You got me noivous."

Recommended tracks: Freedom At 21, I'm Shakin'.

6. Fun. - Some Nights

See, the charts aren't all bad these days. Fun. do exactly what it says on the tin - huge indie-tinged pop anthems that owe as much to Queen as they do The Killers (in an ideal world, perhaps they should have called themselves Killer Queen). We Are Young succeeded because of its epic chorus, yet it's the unpredictable verse I found most interesting, in a curious, Franz Ferdinand fashion.

Recommended Tracks: We Are Young, Some Nights

5. Martin Rossiter - The Defenestration of St Martin

Someone else who's been away far too long. The last Gene album was released in 2001: Martin's been threatening a solo assault ever since. The Defenestration... wasn't entirely what we'd expected, a subdued affair made up largely of piano and vocals (cheekily, he throws in an electric guitar in the final fade out), yet it's as beautiful and devastating as the best of his Gene work and an intensely personal statement besides. A record everyone should hear, though I doubt they will.

Recommended tracks: Drop Anchor, I Want To Choose When I Sleep Alone. (But I only chose them because they were the best quality tracks on youtube.)

4. Rumer - Boys Don't Cry

An album of covers written by the cream of 70s singer-songwriters (including Gilbert O'Sullivan, Clifford T. Ward and Neil Young), from the most angelic voice in contemporary music. Rumer, dear, you had me as soon as I heard your beautiful version of Jimmy Webb's PF Sloan. I don't think I'll ever tire of listening to this record. 

Recommended tracks: PF Sloan, Home Thoughts From Abroad, A Man Needs A Maid

3. Ultrasound - Play For Today

And finally in our "Where The Hell Have You Been?" category: Wakefield's own Ultrasound. Back in 1999, Tiny and co. released one epic rock album, Everything Picture, and a handful of classic singles (that Kurt Russell was only ever a b-side is a testament to the quality - and bizarre choices - that characterised their previous output) before splitting up and calling it a day. And then, perhaps because everybody had given up hope of ever hearing their like again, they returned late in 2011 with one of the best singles of last year, followed by one of the best albums of this. Stick around a bit longer this time, please.

Recommended tracks: Welfare State, Nonsense.

2. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

I was tempted to drop this down a few places purely because of the enormous success Ms. Del Rey has enjoyed this year. Since when were my year end picks so populist? But I can't deny it: I've listened to this record more than just about any other this year. OK, in places, it does sound very similar to Like A Prayer era Madonna - but that was Madonna at her best. And yes, the hip hop Nancy Sinatra act will soon get tired. The record company's milking Born To Die for all it's got... which makes you wonder if Lana will ever match it. Whatever - no other record says 2012 for me like this. Whether I'll still be listening to it in 20 years is another question. When was the last time I listened to Like A Prayer?

Recommended tracks: Video Games, Radio.

1. Mystery Jets - Radlands

With their fourth album, the Mystery Jets stepped up from being just another fun little indie band to become serious contenders (just like Noah & The Whale did last year). Wearing their influences on their sleeves (blatantly on the excellent "dividing up our record collection" lead single Greatest Hits), they delivered a record steeped in 70s Americana, all the way from Twickenham.

Recommended tracks: The Hale Bop, You Had Me At Hello... or any of the other 9 songs on this unswitchoffable collection.

So, those were the albums that made my year. Go buy them all now and enrich your record collection. Then tell me yours...

Friday, 28 December 2012

My Top Twenty Albums Of 2012 (20 - 11)

Rules are made to be broken! As is traditional, my year end countdown couldn't be limited to JUST ten records...

20. Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

Perhaps it does lack the edge of some of her earlier releases, but it's still full of wonderful songs... and that gorgeous, gorgeous voice.

Recommended tracks: Change The Sheets, Chameleon / Comedian.

19. The King Blues - Long Live The Struggle

Very sad to hear The King Blues calling it a day with the release of this, their fourth album. At least lead singer Johnny 'Itch' Fox is continuing as a solo act.You can download his first EP free from his website.

Recommended tracks: Modern Life Has Let Me Down, Booted Out Of Hell.

18. Heartless Bastards - Arrow

A Texan band that has been around almost 10 years now, though I only discovered them very recently. The haunting Marathon is a song I've not been able to stop listening to since I first heard it.

Recommended tracks: Marathon, Only For You.

17. Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky's Edge

After years crooning heartbreak like Roy Orbison reborn in Sheffield, Hawley went heavy. This album continues to grow on me - particularly the title track which has a foreboding menace I've not heard on record since Jim Morrison took his last bath.

Recommended tracks: Standing At The Sky's Edge, Down In The Woods.

16. Mull Historical Society - City Awakenings

Eight years after the last album released under the MHS name, Colin MacIntyre (who'd been recording under his own name in the meantime) dusted it off to produce possibly the band's finest moment. A record of shimmering beauty.

Recommended tracks: The Lights, Must You Get Low

15. Amanda Palmer - Theatre Is Evil

A new record from AFP is always something to celebrate. Especially as the lovely Ms. P continues to allow her fans to decide how much they want to pay to download her music. Neil must be proud.

Recommended tracks: Do It With A Rockstar, The Killing Type. Careful with those videos though: they contain generous lashings of sex, violence and unshaven armpits.

14. The Wedding Present - Valentina

Doesn't sound vastly different to the records David Gedge was making 25 years ago. Nobody writes first person kitchen sink relationship drama pop songs that verge on agony aunt confessionals in quite the same way.
I’ve been using you
All this time
And it’s not that I don’t adore you
Because I do
But I’ve realized
That I don’t think I
Am ever gonna leave my girlfriend
For you
Recommended tracks: Back At Bit... Stop, The Girl From The DDR.

13. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

All the way from Sweden, a pair of country-folky sisters in thrall to Emmylou, Gram, Johnny and June. Really quite lovely.

Recommended tracks: Emmylou, The Lion's Roar.

12. Sweet, Sweet Lies - The Hare, The Hound & The Tortoise

Sounding like a butcher Divine Comedy (that is, a Divine Comedy that's more butch... not one that carves meat for a living) or Mumford & Sons with all the twee bits filed off by Shane MacGowan, Sweet, Sweet Lies were one of my most joyous accidental discoveries this year. I'm still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.
She'll sing in key and play guitar
Like Johnny Cash and Johnny Marr
And she'll know the capital of Iceland...
Recommended tracks: Capital of Iceland, The Day I Change.

11. Cosmo Jarvis - Think Bigger 

Look, if you've not embraced the utter wonderfulosity of Cosmo Jarvis yet, I can only feel bad for you. So at least pretend you're a fan and keep me happy. 

Recommended tracks: The Girl From My Village, Sunshine.


OK, hold your horses, we'll get to the Top Ten tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy these. Your ears will thank you.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

My Top Ten Movies of 2012

This doesn't have always to be a music blog. And where else was I going to compile my year's best flicks?

But first, as is traditional...

My Top Five Worst Movies of 2012

(The usual waiver applies: I'm sure there were worse movies released this year. Fortunately I didn't see them. Lee seems to have seen plenty of them though.)

5. Taken 2

Utterly preposterous, watered down PG sequel. Neeson is still ace though. Even when he's guessing the bad guy's secret HQ using a map, a matchstick and a moudly stick of celery.

4. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes still don't mix. Not even RDJ could save this.

3. Alex Cross

Look, there was nothing else on that week, OK? And I figured Kiss The Girls & Along Came A Spider were decent enough flicks... but they both had Morgan Freeman. The best this had going for it was Jack from Lost gurning and flexing the veins in his neck to prove how MAD he was. 

2. The Raid

Don't believe the hype. An Indonesian Die Hard this ain't.

1. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Surely it couldn't be worse than the first one? What's that?

After seeing this one, the Academy awarded Nic Cage an Oscar for the first one... posthumously ('cos his career is officially dead).

OK... enough with the rubbish. Let's get on to the good stuff!

My Top Ten Movies of 2012

10. Seeking A Friend For The End of the World

Beating Bond, Batman and Bourne (all fine movies, but each missing that essential "must watch again" quality that guarantees a place on this list), this small, underplayed romcom took one of my favourite genres and swerved the obvious cliches. Steve Carrell is so good here, he even makes me stop hating Keira Knightley.

9. Argo

Smart, funny, nail-gnawingly exciting. The resurrection of Ben Affleck is complete. 

8. The Muppets

Just made me feel all warm and fuzzy, inside and out.

7. The Avengers

Looking back, I didn't love it quite as much as everybody else... yet it was still a far better movie than it might have been under anyone other than Joss Whedon. In many ways, Chronicle was a more interesting superhero movie... but it was still great to see the Avengers united on screen at last. And that Mark Ruffalo Hulk movie must happen soon!

6. Carnage

What do you get if you lock Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz in an apartment for a couple of hours? The breakdown of polite society. More exciting than Iron Man, Thor and Cap hitting smacking each other in the head for two hours.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man

Better than Spider-Man 3, not as good as Spider-Man 2 (what is?) In the end then, it's about as good as the film it retells... though for entirely different reasons. But it's Spidey... he'll always be my hero.

4. The Imposter

Utterly insane documentary. Had it been a fictional screenplay, I would have cried "no way!", but truth is more jaw-droppingly unbelievable than fiction.

3. Ted 

Much funnier than it ought to have been, though this wins a place in the Top 3 by virtue of Flash! alone.

2. Looper

I love a good time travel movie... especially one with the balls to throw away any chance of a happy ending or potential sequel. 

1. Cabin In The Woods

The last word in post-modern horror films. Lock the crypt, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon just laid the genre to rest. 

Those were my favourite flicks of 2012... which one would get you back in the multiplex?

Monday, 24 December 2012

My Top Ten Deadly Christmas Songs

It's not only soap operas that fill our Christmases with death, suicide and murder. The festive season can be the deadliest time of year in the world of pop too...

10. Johnny Cash - Delia's Gone

Nothing to do with poisoning Delia Smith's Christmas cake.

Although the lyrics don't make direct reference to it, the real life crime that inspired this classic murder ballad took place on Christmas Eve 1900. In the video Johnny Cash recorded for the American Recordings sessions, Delia is played by Kate Moss. Johnny ties her to a chair, shoots her in the side, and buries her in a shallow grave. A smashing Christmas present to anyone who thinks she's a pointless stick.

She was low down and trifling
And she was cold and mean
Kind of evil make me want to
Grab my sub machine
Delia's gone, one more round
Delia's gone

9.The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - There's No Lights On The Christmas Tree, Mother, They're Burning Big Louie Tonight

Do they really execute people on Christmas Eve? They do in Alex Harvey Land...

8. Carolina Buddies - The Murder of the Lawson Family

Another murder ballad inspired by a grim Christmas crime. This is what happens when you're forced to spend too much time with your family over the festive season... 

7. Giant Sand - Thank You, Dreaded Black Ice, Thank You

I think you can probably guess where this one ends up... but you'd be wrong. Howie Gelb makes the most of a pile-up on the interstate by using it as an excuse to stay the night with his new lady...

6. Glasvegas - Fuck You, It's Over

Meanwhile, Glasvegas spend the festive season getting all bent out of shape by bitter memories of an ex-lover. Good will to all men and women... unless they dumped you during the preceding year.
Remember it when,
You promised me how,
This time this Christmas things would be different by now...

All I wanted was to be,
Where your heart is,
But that's all changed now,
Now you're dead to me

(Repeat last line to fade.)

5. Simon & Garfunkel - Silent Night / Seven O'Clock News

In which Paul and Art bring yuletide cheer to all by mixing a sweet performance of the timeless carol with 70s news reports of war, assassination and mass murder. The old funsters.

4. Ben Folds - Bizarre Christmas Incident

Ben wakes up on Christmas morning to find the corpse of a fat man with a big white beard stuck in his chimney...

Well, honey call the lawyers fast
'Cos Mrs. Claus is gonna sue my ass!
On a far more serious note, I'd also recommend BF's song Brick, the heartbreaking story of a young couple faced with a post-Christmas abortion.

3. Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry

The perennial favourite about not dying for your country at Christmas time.

2. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Dawn McCarthy - Christmas Eve Can Kill You

The best new Christmas single I've heard this year... although it's actually a cover of an old Everly Brothers tearjerker. The message appears to be: if that hitchhiker you don't stop to pick up when you're driving back to your loved ones in the snow on Christmas Eve doesn't make it home alive... you'll be to blame.

Of course, if you do stop to pick him up, he'll probably turn out to be a serial killer. But maybe that's next year's song.

1. The Killers - Don't Shoot Me, Santa

The Killers release a new Christmas song every year, but this is my favourite. And Brandon Flowers' Christmas jumper is tops!

So, you survived my Christmas killing spree... but what's your fatal festive favourite?

Friday, 21 December 2012

My Top Ten End of the World Songs

This may well be the last Top Ten you ever read...

10. UB40 - The Earth Dies Screaming 

Half eaten meals lie rotting on the tables,
Money clutched within a boney hand.
Shutters down, the banks are not receiving,
The earth dies screaming.
One of their best songs. Not one of their most cheerful.

9. Tom McRae - End of the World News (Dose Me Up)

This is the End of the World News... Sponsored by God. (Well, it's got to be better than Joop Homme, anyway.)

8. Elvis Costello - Waiting For The End of the World

Elvis gets stuck on a train and goes all Mayan on our arses.

Dear Lord I sincerely hope you're coming
'Cause you really started something.

7. The Handsome Family - If the World Should End in Fire 

For those of you who prefer a colder option, they also recorded a version called If The World Should End In Ice. (Though it's not available on youtube.)

6. The Cure - End of the World

Every day is the end of the world for Robert Smith.

5. Noah & The Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

A slightly more optimistic take on The Last Night On Earth, from the excellent album of the same name.

4. The The - Armageddon Days Are Here

The world will end in a clash of religions, thinks Matt Johnson. This was released back in 1989, but very little has changed.

See also Armageddon It by Def Leppard. Are you geddin' it?

3. Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around

There's a man going around taking names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won't be treated all the same
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World

I can't think of anyone better to narrate the end of the world. If you don't fancy looking out your window today, just listen to this and let Nick describe what's happening out there for you...

1. REM - It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Some Number One's are inevitable. Although, knowing Michael Stipe, this probably has absolutely nothing to do with the End Times, it's probably the recipe for a cake he was making that night or something. 

That's great it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes and aeroplane
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves it's own needs, dummy serve your own needs
Then bake for three hours or until golden brown.

So, that's what I'll be listening to as it all goes down. What's the last song on your playlist?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My Top Ten Christmas Animal Songs

Christmas isn't just for human people. It's for our furry and feathered friends too. As this youtube video proves.

Here's Ten of my favourite animalistic Christmas offerings...

10. Bjork - The Christmas Cat

The lyrics are in Icelandic, so I have to believe what I read on the internet that this is a song about a legendary moggy that eats badly dressed children over the festive period. Which sounds like an excellent idea to me.

9. Michael Jackson - Rockin' Robin

I'm not linking to the original, I'd much rather you went and listened to this... Rockin' Robin meets Teen Spirit. Class.

8. Presidents of the United States of America - Christmas Piglet

Pretty much gets in on the title alone. Which is a good job, 'cos the song ain't brilliant.

7. Badly Drawn Boy - Donna & Blitzen

Damon Gough's tribute to the world's second and third most famous reindeer.

6. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Jesus The Reindeer

Meanwhile, Emmy & Tim find a few new reindeer to join Santa's herd...
Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet...

Aries, Chancer, Joey, Chandler... Sancho Panzer, Sarah Palin...


5. Alien Sex Fiend - Stuff The Turkey

This record begins with a spoof Bernard Matthews "Bootiful". And if that's not enough...
Let's make this Christmas
One to remember
Let's stay drunk
From January till December.
Let's face it... there's only one better record about turkey... but it's the kind you have on Boxing Day...

4. John Lennon - Cold Turkey

Not listened to this in years. Forgotten how good it was.

3. Eels - Christmas Is Going To The Dogs

We'd rather have chew toys than yule logs

2. Colin Clary - Meow Meow

Can't find this anywhere online to play you, but believe me - if you're a cat lover, it's unbeatable.

Merry Christmas to all the kitties in this town!
I wish you love and lots of tuna juice...

1. The Crystals - Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Inevitable as leftover turkey.

Remember - these songs are for life, not just Christmas. Which one are you taking home from the pound?

Monday, 17 December 2012

My Top Ten "She's Got..." Songs

Ten songs about things she's got. Not sure who she is, but she's obviously a damn fine (and extremely complex) woman if she's got all ten...

10. Gary Numan - She's Got Claws

This was released in 1981.

It could only have been released in 1981.

9. Fountains of Wayne - She's Got A Problem

Keep an eye on her, lads, in case she does summat dumb.

8. Little Richard - She's Got It

Because if Little Richard says she has, she must have.

7. Super Furry Animals - She's Got Spies

Not like the KGB, CIA or MI6 though. It's just a game they play.

She's Got Spies by Super Furry Animals on Grooveshark

6. Cosmo Jarvis - She's Got You (Wrapped Round Her Little Finger)

If I didn't like this song anyway (come on - it's Cosmo!), I'd be won over by the video which begins with a long debate between Cosmo and his mate about Star Wars, Star Trek and The Hulk.

5. The Offspring - She's Got Issues

Don't we all?

The video stars Zooey Deschanel in the (well-cast) title role... and Gary Busey as the lead singer of The Offspring. (I think.)

4. Billy Bragg - She's Got A New Spell

The video shows why Billy now holds a guitar at all times while on stage.

One minute she says
She's gone to get the cat in
The next thing I know
She's mumbling in Latin

3. ZZ Top - (She Got) Legs

And, apparently, she knows how to use them.

2. Dexys - She Got A Wiggle

No longer running at midnight, Kevin Rowland returned earlier this year with his long-awaited comeback album... only 27 years after the last one. And damn it if it wasn't a stone cold classic.

1. Billy Joel - She's Got A Way

Back in the early 70s, fame seemed a distant dream for the young, ex-boxer Billy Joel. When he finally managed to land a record deal, the producer mastered the recordings at the wrong speed. John Peel would have been proud. Years later, that ill-fated debut album, Cold Spring Harbour, was re-released at the correct speed... and revealed some truly gorgeous songs. This is one of the best.

As I've said before, and I'll say again: if you don't like Billy Joel... you don't like music.

They're all the thing's she got. But which one gets you going?

Friday, 14 December 2012

My Top Ten Christmas Present Songs

Looking for a few ideas for last minute Christmas gifts? Ask the experts...!

Pop songs have the answer to everything.

10. The Rocket Summer - Christmas Present

Just discovered this. Be thankful: my original #10 choice involved a hippopotamus.

9. Shirley Lee - The Christmas Present

The Christmas Present by Shirley Lee on Grooveshark
You can always rely on Shirley to break your heart at Christmas.

8. Over The Rhine - All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue

Having read Steve's post the other day, this one's for him.

7. The Research - For Christmas, I Got Pityriasis Rosea

No, I didn't make this up.

My girlfriend was none-the-wiser
She bought me some moisturiser

And to make it even better - they're from Wakefield!

6. My Chemical Romance - All I Want For Christmas Is You

What - you were expecting Mariah Carey?

5. Half Man Half Biscuit - All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit

Scalextric, Subbuteo and a Dukla Prague away kit... and your Christmas is complete. Just pray that Scalextric doesn't come with a dodgy transformer.

4. Aimee Mann - I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas

I dunno, Aimee, luv, I quite like you mucky...

3. Tom Waits - Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

What a rugby player would be doing in Minneapolis, I have no idea.

2. Fountains of Wayne - I Want An Alien For Christmas

7 of 9 or that dancing green chick... maybe.

1. The Velvet Underground - The Gift

The strangest Velvet Underground record by far (and that's saying something), Lou Reed's 8 minute plus short story is delivered as a spoken word narrative by John Cale (he's from the valleys: that accent's genuine) about poor old Waldo Jeffers' misfiring plan to post himself to his girlfriend as a surprise gift. Do not try this at home.

You can tell how old this record is - in those days, it actually would have been more cost effective to send yourself by post rather than buy a train ticket. Not anymore...bloody Royal Mail. 60p a stamp? Outrageous!

So - that's my Christmas present list. Which one would you like to find under your tree?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My Top Ten Supremes Songs

Another 50th Anniversary Ten! The Supremes actually formed in 1959 (I know, it's unfathomable), yet released their first album for Motown three years later. With or without Diana Ross, there's never been a better girl band in my humble opinion. Here's Ten Reasons Why I Love 'em...

10. Reflections

It begins like the opening to a classic sci fi film... and gets progressively more divine with each passing second.

9. Baby Love

You may be surprised to find what's arguably their most famous record only coming in at #9. I can't deny it's a stone cold classic - it was written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, how could it not be? My only defence is what I like to call "The Beatles Effect". Ubiquity can damage even the greatest of records.

That said, on a chart that could easily have run to a Top 50, #9 is hardly a poor showing. 

8. 5:30 Plane

The only post-Diana song that made my Ten - though there were many which deserved consideration (Automatically Sunshine, Nathan Jones and Up The Ladder To The Roof being just three). What makes this one particularly special though is that it's written and arranged by the great Jimmy Webb. Nuff said.

7. Love Child

The words "tenement slum" never sounded so sweet.

6. I Second That Emotion (with The Temptations)

Written by Smokey, with the Temps on duet duties...

A taste of honey is worse than none at all

5. You Keep Me Hanging On

From that teletype intro to the thumping drumbeat that powers it, another heartbreakin' classic.

4. I'm Livin' In Shame

And some people think Morrisey invented kitchen sink songwriting...

This one's a genuine heartbreaker.

I was always so afraid for my uptown friends to see her
Afraid one day when I was grown, that I would be her

3. You Can't Hurry Love

Look, not even Phil Collins could kill this one. And let's not forget how many other great records owe their existence to that intro. Just ask The Jam for starters...

2. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with The Temptations)

Strictly speaking, it's the Temptations who win this one, but it's still one of the greatest love songs ever written... and when Diana joins in on the chorus: shiver me timbers.

1. Stop! In The Name Of Love

Not sure if it's the wind-up intro, the pleading title or the sweetness of Diana's voice, but right now - and this could easily change depending on when you asked me - this one wins it for me.

I know what you're saying - "Rol, Where Did Our Love Go?" Sadly, there could be only 10. But which one rules... ahem... Supreme for you?

Monday, 10 December 2012

My Top Ten Carol Songs

Because it's almost Christmas... here's ten Carols.

No Carolines though, there's a whole other Top Ten in them.

10. Tom Lehrer - A Christmas Carol

Getting us all in the Christmas spirit... kind of.

On Christmas Day you can't get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.
9. The Polyphonic Spree - Carol of the Bells

 Or, if you prefer a slightly less cynical Christmas Carol... (well, it's also mercifully short).

8. Nadeah - Scary Carol

In which Nadeah gets kidnapped by a green polar bear. Things get weirder from there.

7. Chuck Berry - Carol

Can't beat a bit of Chuck. Great guitar on this song.

6. Modesty Blaise - Carol Mountain

80s indie band who the internet appears to know very little about. Shame: this is a jaunty little number.

5. Morrissey - When I Last Spoke To Carol

Morrissey goes Mariachi. Again. And growls like a tiger. Don't ask me.

4. Manfred Mann's Earth Band -  Don't Kill It, Carol

This Carol doesn't have exactly green fingers. Oy! Carol! Leave that rose alone!

3. Jeff Buckley - Corpus Christi Carol

It's easy to forget just what a cracking album Grace was. Then you listen to something like this again and... woah, momma.

2. Neil Sedaka - Oh Carol

It's a classic, but it might not have made it so high on this countdown if it wasn't for the talky bit.

I'm always a sucker for talky bits: the more earnest, the better.

Written for Carole King, back when she and Neil worked together in the Brill Building.

1. Flight of the Conchords - Carol Brown

One of their very best. Lyrics so good... proves they're more than just a comedy band.

Shut up, girlfriends from the past!

Those were my favourite Carols... which one is your Vorderman?

Friday, 7 December 2012

My Top Ten Jesus Songs

Some of these artists believe in him, some of them don't. But as it's his birthday soon, and he's been the inspiration for a bunch of cracking tunes (I could easily have gone another ten), here we go(d)...

Special mention, of course, to The Jesus & Mary Chain and Jesus Jones.

10. The Charlatans -  Jesus Hairdo

It was a close run thing between this and Jesus Says by Ash. We've not yet had any Charlatans on this blog though, so they deserved their moment.

9. Genesis - Jesus, He Knows Me

If you can get past the idea of Phil Collins singing, "Jesus he knows me and he knows I'm right," because HE'S NOT SERIOUS, HE'S JUST MOCKING TELEVANGELISTS, HE DOESN'T REALLY THINK THAT WAY, then this isn't that bad a song. I was 19, anyway, you can't blame me for buying this album.

Or maybe being 19 makes it worse...

8. Martin Rossiter - I Must Be Jesus

From the excellent new album by the former Gene frontman, The Defenestration of St. Martin.

The Morrissey comparisons have always chased Gene, and with this one Martin seems to be trying to outdo his mentor. After all, Moz only forgave Jesus... he never claimed to be him. In both cases though, pain was involved...

7. Cosmo Jarvis -  Sure As Hell Not Jesus

Love this song. The video is very disturbing though.

6. Ben Folds -  Jesusland

Guest starring Matt Lucas!

5. The Blind Boys Of Alabama -  (Jesus Hits Like) Atom Bomb


4. Elbow - Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl

As Louise is from Rochdale, I have to say that Guy's onto something here...

I have to say that, or I'll never hear the end of it.

3. King Missile - Jesus Was Way Cool

Discovered this a few months back. Still can't stop listening to it.

He turned water into wine
And if he wanted to
He could have turned wheat into marijuana
Or sugar into cocaine
Or vitamin pills into amphetamines

2. Morrissey - I Have Forgiven Jesus

Morrissey turns Bill Hicks...

This song makes me want to cry.

Seriously though - does anybody really believe Morrissey had a paper round?

1. Depeche Mode / Johnny Cash - Personal Jesus

 Can't decide between 'em. Although Johnny's version almost makes me a believer...

Reach out and touch faith!

Those were my Jesus Jones - which one do you worship?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

My Top Ten American Music Songs

Back to my tour of the USA. There are hundreds of songs with "America" in the title, so I needed to narrow the focus. Here's ten about American music, some by American bands... others decidedly not.

Some Brits get sniffy about American music, citing the Beatles (yawn, among others) as a reason to keep it homegrown. Me, I've always had one foot on either side of the Atlantic when it comes to my listening habits.

10. The Beautiful South - The Sound of North America

The lyrics of "New York"
May have Frank Sinatra singing
But the rhythm and the melody
Were dead black men swinging

See what I mean? Paul Heaton at his most cynical.

9. Silver Sun - American Metal

A rare b-side from one of the great, lost power pop bands of the 90s. Can't find it anywhere online, but trust me - it's ace.

8. Denim - American Rock

Lawrence spoofs the Velvet Underground... flawlessly.

7. Violent Femmes - American Music

Do you like American music...

Did you do too many drugs?
And they're Americans.

6. The Auteurs - American Guitars

On the other hand, I never know whether archetypal Englishman Luke Haines is being serious here or not.

5. The Indelicates - America

From the album American Demo, still one of my favourite records of the 21st Century... so far. 

How many British bands made the lyrics below their mission statement... no matter the consequences?

When they pin me to the wall I'll say:
I'm with America
With godless America, I'll stand and I'll fall
Though it cuts me to my soul that
It must be America
It must be America
Or nothing at all.
4. Don McLean - American Pie

Could well have been Number #1, but I like to be unpredictable.

Best thing about American Pie? All the insane, crackpot interpretations that read hidden meanings into every single line. If you've got a spare year, google them for a laugh.

3. John Mellencamp - ROCK In The USA

And now we reach the more celebratory part of our countdown. The Cougar's tribute to 60s American rock. Never fails to make me happy.
There was Frankie Lyman-Bobby Fuller-Mitch Ryder
(They were Rockin')
Jackie Wilson-Shangra-las-Young Rascals
(They were Rockin')
Spotlight on Martha Reeves
Let's don't forget James Brown
2. Jim Steinman - Love & Death & An American Guitar

Quite possibly the maddest "song" (spoken word narrative) in my record collection. Jim Steinman at his most insane. He doesn't even have Meat Loaf to temper / translate his craziness here. It's just pure Steinman loony-genius. With the best punchline in the history of rock.

Or something.

On the original, ill-fated Steinman solo album (originally supposed to be Meat's follow-up to Bat Out Of Hell, but Meat had a sore throat so Captain Barking decided to record it himself), this leads straight into the classic Stark Raving Love, the melody of which JS would later disembowel to create Holding Out For A Hero for Bonnie Tyler. Just in case you're one of the two people reading this blog who looks at more than just the artist and song title.

1. Grand Funk Railroad - We're An American Band

Does exactly what it says on the tin. 
We're coming to your town
We'll help you party it down
We're an American band  

So, these are the rules - it has to be a song about America and about music. Which is top of your Billboard Hot One Hundred?

Monday, 3 December 2012

My Top Ten Knitwear Songs

Because the nights are drawing in and everywhere you go, the doom-mongers are saying "it's gonna snow next week"... so we all need some quality knitwear to keep us warm.

Special mention, of course, to The Cardigans, who sadly don't appear to have ever written a song extolling the virtues of their woolly (or polyester) namesakes.

10. Malcolm Middleton - Red Travellin' Socks

Malcolm grows to hate his red socks because they take him away from the one he loves. Knitwear with a mind of its own - scary. (Or maybe his excuses are getting more desperate.)

9. Nick Heyward - Blue Hat For A Blue Day

I met Nick Heyward once. He was a thoroughly decent bloke. (I may have mentioned this before. I may mention it again.)

8. Prince - Pink Cashmere

Not on youtube, obviously. Good old Prince.

7. The Smiths - Hand In Glove

Because the glove in question must have been a nice warm one... considering the sun was shining out of Morrissey's behind as he wore it. See also Pink Glove by Pulp, in which Jarvis manages to make an innocent item of knitwear... frankly, filthy.

6. Lily Rae & The Saturday Girls - Don't Sleep In My Cardi

Some couples will argue about everything.

It's too short in the arm
Too tight in the chest
Why can't you just sleep in your vest?
5. Babybird - You're Gorgeous

Remember that tank top you bought me? What did you write on it?

4. Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs - Woolly Bully


3. Weezer - Undone (The Sweater Song)

A relationship dissolves via the metaphor of unraveling knitwear. So much more imaginative than another bloody song about breaking hearts.

2. The Scaremongers - Cardigan Girl

AKA Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate of Marsden (i.e. just over the hill from me). Isn't it about time we had a second Scaremongers album, Simon?

1. Sultans of Ping FC - Where's Me Jumper?

It's all right to say things can only get better
If you haven't lost your brand new sweater
Pure new wool and perfect stitches
Not the type of jumper that makes you itches, oh no
I also found a Third Eye Blind song called Jumper... but it turns out to be about someone throwing themselves off a tall building. Hardly in the spirit of things.

Those were my favourite knitwear songs... but which one makes you drop a stitch?

Friday, 30 November 2012

My Top Ten Rolling Stones Songs

They're 50 this year too, in case you hadn't heard.

10. Street Fighting Man

Summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street...

9. Undercover Of The Night

I know, it's not an obvious choice. What can I say? I'm a sucker for backwards guitars.

The video is very, very bad though.

8. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)

Look up "rock 'n' roll" in the dictionary. You should find the following...
If I could stick my pen in my heart
And spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

7. Let's Spend The Night Together

Getting chatted up by Mick Jagger is a scary prospect. But who could turn down an offer like this?

6. Ruby Tuesday

Always reminds me of She's Leaving Home... except, it's better.

5. Jumping Jack Flash

It's a gas. Gas. Gas.

4. You Can't Always Get What You Want

"Hey, Mick, man, how about we get a choir of kids to sing the intro to our new record?"

"Yeah, man, Keef, whatever - now pass me whatever you're smoking, man."

And yet, not even a choir of kids can ruin this record.

3. Paint It, Black

I wear black on the outside, Morrissey wailed, black is how I feel on the inside.

Yet the Stones beat him to it by about 20 years.

2. Sympathy For The Devil

My instinct, before I started compiling this Top Ten, was that this would be the undisputed winner. But in the end, the devil himself couldn't compete with...

1. Gimme Shelter

Just frighteningly good.

I know - you just can't get no satisfaction from this Top Ten, can you?

Form an orderly queue and start listing your (missing) favourites below...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My Top Ten Zombie Songs

My dad had a visit the other day from a BBC location scout wanting to film a zombie TV series in his barn. He told 'em where to go. With his shotgun. He hates TV people worse than he hates zombies. Besides, as I said to him afterwards, like we need another whole series of a TV show devoted to zombies in a barn...

From The Walking Dead to World War Z, you can't go anywhere without bumping into a zombie these days. The living dead have gone mainstream... and the music industry's full of them too!

Special mention to Rob Zombie, Zombie Zombie and, of course, The Zombies.

10. David Bowie - Dead Man Walking

Late period Bowie. Trying too hard to be cutting edge and dance. Video scarily reminiscent of Dave's old mate Mr. Lynch. Still, always worth a listen.

9. Tom Petty - Zombie Zoo

Kids these days, eh, Tom? What do they look like?
Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:

Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:
Cute little dropout how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive
You shaved off all your hair
You look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

Read more:
8. Magnetic Fields - Zombie Boy

Discordant and disturbing, like the best low budget zombie shockers.

You seem to have died
of some form of the pox
They left you inside
your tiny black box

I heard when you cried
and I answered your knocks
Let's make you a bride
with another two cocks
He's referring to the voodoo tradition of sacrificing chickens to bring back the dead. Honest.

7. Suede - The Living Dead

The living dead in question is a drug addict acrobat, lamented by his wife. Or maybe it's all a metaphor. FOR ZOMBIES!

6. Roky Erikson - I Walked With A Zombie

When you start your musical career in a 13th Floor Elevator before being committed to a psychiatric facility for ECT treatment, it should come as no surprise when you end up walking with a zombie.

5. Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahh!!!

Sufjan Stevens' songs rarely live up to their titles. But with a title like that - what could?

4. Michael Jackson - Thriller

OK, so there's not just zombies after your blood in Jacko's defining moment, but they're part of the crowd. And where else will you find the undead dancing?

3. Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - Zombie Christmas

Zombies and Christmas go together like mistletoe and the whine from a shredded, undead throat. But Tim and Emmy make them gel in this track from their excellent festive collaboration of last year, This Is Christmas.

And they're not the only ones to find a link... see also: MXPX - Christmas Night of Zombies.

2. Adam Ant - Cool Zombie

Adam Ant is back with his first single in 17 years... and bloody hell, it's a belter! New album out in 2013.

1. The Cranberries - Zombie

No prizes for guessing our Number One, though its message is a little more serious than the rest of the songs on this chart.

Those were my favourite zombie songs. Which one gets you going "Grr!! Arrghh!!" ?

Monday, 26 November 2012

My Top Ten Bob Songs

My sister's old sheepdog, Bob, passed away last week. He was a good dog.

This is my tribute...

10. Columbo - Rockabilly Bob

A lost classic indie-dance crossover from the 90s. I think Norman Cook might have had something to do with it, but I can't find anything online to confirm that.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Bob Wilson, Anchorman

See also: 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd

If you ever wondered how you get triangles from a cow
You need butter, milk and cheese
And an equilateral chainsaw
We can never get enough HMHB round these parts.

8. Happy Mondays - Bob's Yer Uncle

A song that's all about sex. Which is fine unless you picture it performed by Shaun Ryder.

7. Pulp - Bob Lind

Jarvis's tribute to the Elusive Butterfly of American folk.

6. Banarama - Robert De Niro's Waiting

Yes, if Girl's Aloud recorded this for the first time in 2012, I would have no interest in it at all. I am a child of the 80s, unashamedly.

5. Nick Cave - The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane

Top slice of Nick Cave storytelling; b-side of his Kylie duet, Where The Wild Roses Grow.

4. Mark Germino & The Sluggers - Rex Bob Lowenstein

Rex Bob is a rebel DJ who refuses to stick to the playlist... and ends up locking himself in the studio in a stand-off with The Man.

Classic story song about the soulless evil of the commercial radio industry.

3. Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee

Written by Kris Kristofferson, whose original recording is just as good. 

2. Prince - Bob George

Probably the darkest record Prince ever recorded, his bleakly funny piss-take of violent and misogynist gangster rap, from the legendary Black Album. The live version on youtube doesn't really do the track justice, but this being Prince, you won't find the album version there.

1. Bruce Springsteen - Bobby Jean

Back in the 80s, at the height of his success, Bruce had a big falling out with his best friend, Steve Van Zandt (star of The Sopranos and the excellent Lilyhammer). Many believe this song was about their break-up. (They're friends again now, and Stevie's back with the E Street Band.)

Now you hung with me when all the others turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes
We told each other that we were the wildest, the wildest things we'd ever seen
Now I wished you would have told me, I wished I could have talked to you
Just to say goodbye, Bobby Jean

For Bob, RIP.

Which is your bobby dazzler?

Friday, 23 November 2012

My Top Ten Universe Songs

Hey - I found a Top 10 that was left over from the old blog. I hate to see a good list go to waste...

10. The Beatles - Across The Universe

At which point, the Beatles were lost in the constellation of hippy. Nothing's gonna change my world...

Unsurprisingly, David Bowie covered this in a rather mad way.

9. The Dears - Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?

Found this old Dears album kicking around in my record collection the other day. Not listened to it in ages. Forgotten how good this track was.

8. Pulp - Master Of The Universe

Very early Pulp, from their second album, 'Freaks', circa 1987. Before Jarvis discovered the kitchen sink route to success.

7. Eels - Daisies Of The Galaxy

The 'galaxy' in question is a theatre, but we won't let that concern us.

6. Laura Viers - Galaxies

When Laura Viers sings, stars fill up my eyes...

5. Ryan Adams - Fuck The Universe

Well, there's no need to be like that.

4. Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos

Every night I tell myself: I am the cosmos

Insert punchline here.

Seriously though, this one gets extra points because Chris Bell was from Big STAR.

3. Queen - Princes Of The Universe

From the soundtrack to Highlander. As with Flash Gordon, Queen had a habit of recording soundtrack records that were far better than the movies they became attached to.

When I was 16, I thought this record ROCKED SO HARD. The video, however, is an exercise in restrained subtlety and minimalism.

2. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

But as stupendous as the video for 'Princes of the Universe' is, it cannot compete with the b-movie genius of 'Intergalactic', possibly the Beastie Boys' finest moment.


1. Blur - The Universal

The second best song Blur ever recorded. #1 being 2. Obviously.

Yes, it really, really, REALLY could 'appen...

So those were my favourite songs of the universe - which one sends you into another dimension?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

My Top Ten Sexual Songs

At last, the fourth issue of my comic Too Much Sex & Violence is out! (Should you be at all interested, you can buy it here.)

Way back through the mists of time when I published issue #3, I marked the occasion by compiling My Top Ten Sex Songs and My Top Ten Sexy Songs. At the time, I promised to complete that particular ménage à trois...but I'm afraid I've been a bit of a tease, haven't I? Hopefully you've not lost your appetite for this...

10. The Hot 8 Brass Band - Sexual Healing

It's not often I'll include two versions of the same song in one Top Ten... but this one's so good, I just couldn't resist it.

9. Poison - Sexual Thing

Yes, Poison. Every Rose Has more than just a Thorn.

8. Everclear - My Sexual Life

Struggling to fill that Top Ten? Only found 9 decent tracks? You can always rely on Everclear...

7. Belle & Sebastian - Shoot The Sexual Athlete

Stuart Murdoch pays tribute to the Go-Betweens and other 80s heroes.

6. Jackie Leven - The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ

I make no apologies for the fact that this song will pop up again in another Top Ten very soon. Because it's bloody great.

5. Relaxed Muscle - Sexualized

Jarvis Cocker sees sex wherever he looks. Even student teachers are sexualized!

Leave it out, Jarvis, I like you... but not in that way.

4. Momus - A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 - 24)

I'm jealous of the dangling men
You know you'll never go to bed with
I've felt the fire that fires them
I've known the unrequited love it's fed with
And I don't believe in Platonic love
But I'm still jealous of Plato
What a bore!
A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy Parts 17 to 24

3. Readers' Wives - Sexually Attracted To Myself

My old pals Readers' Wives, with one of their very best. Buy the album it came from here. Go on, it's good.

I'm sexually attracted to myself
And for that very reason
I think I might be gay, like

Great Morrissey-esque "oh-ho-ho-ho-ho!" just over a minute into the song.

2. Marvin Gaye - (Sexual) Healing

Would have been Number One if it wasn't for a steward's enquiry. Any song that begins thus...

Baby, I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'

...deserves your respect and admiration.

Radio stations put the S-word in brackets, in case it upset impressionable listeners. BBC DJs at the time of its release were only allowed to call it 'Healing'.

1. Billy Bragg - Sexuality

It was almost too close to call, but how could I relegate Billy's finest pop moment (with a little help from Johnny Marr, Kirsty MacColl and Phil Jupitus) into second place? So many great lines, it's hard to pick a favourite...

I'm sure that everybody knows how much my body hates me
It lets me down most every time and makes me rash and hasty
I feel a total jerk before your naked body of work

Those were my sexual secrets... but which one gets you in the mood?

Monday, 19 November 2012

My Top Ten Star Wars Songs

With the news that George Lucas has sold Star Wars to Disney, there's a whole new trilogy to look forward (?) to in a few years time... we can but hope they'll be better than the last three.

Still, here's 10 songs you might hear covered by the Cantina band... but be warned, most of these are pretty damned obscure.

10. Ringo Deathstarr - Kaleidoscope

Points for the band name at least. It was this or Hoth-house flowers...

9. Weird Al Yankovich - Yoda

Weird Al parodies The Kinks. Mildly amusing the first time you hear it.

8. Frigid Vinegar - Dogmonaut 2000 (Is There Anyone Out There?)

Obscure 90s indie that samples the trumpets from It's Not Unusual and begins thus...

I knew this kid named Freddie Skywalker, 
A YTS Jedi with his own flying saucer...

7. Fight Like Apes - Lightsabre Cock Sucking Blues

Not advisable under any circumstances.

6. Blink 182 - A New Hope

And of course I'd do anything for her
I'd search the moons of Endor
I'd even walk naked through
The deserts of Tatooine

Princess Leia, where are you tonight?

And who's laying there by your side?

5. Ash - Lose Control

The opening track on their debut release begins with the sound effect of a Tie Fighter. The album is called 1977... the year Star Wars was released and Ash were born.

4. The Real Thing - Can You Feel The Force?

Good old disco: never shy to jump on a bandwagon. The Real Thing had three great singles. This was the third, and least. But I'll let them have a pass because the other two were stone cold classics.

3. The Supernaturals - Star Wars

Sadly unavailable anywhere online, this obscure Supernaturals b-side (from their excellent single I Wasn't Built To Get Up) tells of a young man forced to choose between Star Wars and his girlfriend. Turns out it's no competition...

2. Neon Neon - I Told Her On Alderaan

AKA Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals plus some bloke called Boom Bip. Obviously he let R2D2 choose that name for him.

1. Bellatrix - Jedi Wannabe

Bellatrix is a star in the Orion constellation. They were also a turn-of-the-millennium Icelandic indie band... and this was their finest 3 minutes.

Sometimes I set myself these Top Tens as a challenge. Could you do any better?

Friday, 16 November 2012

My Top Ten Surrender Songs

That's it - I give up!

10. JJ72 - Surrender

JJ72: should have been bigger.

9. Bread - Sweet Surrender

Really, if you were expecting Wet Wet Wet, you really don't know me very well at all. Still, same title - much better song... and no grinning Tony Blairalike frontman. That's got to be a bonus.

8. Less Than Jake - Surrender

Apparently this is a cover of an old Cheap Trick song, but as I've never heard the original and can't pretend to know anything about Cheap Trick, you're stuck with the rather nice LTJ version.

7. Diana Ross - Surrender

Written by Ashford & Simpson. I was such a huge Diana Ross fan as a kid, I really should have been gay.

6. Swing Out Sister - Surrender

Because the 80s will live forever... on this blog at least.

5. Elvis Presley - Surrender

Another Elvis hit by the legendary songwriting duo of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, though the melody is based on an old Neapolitan ballad, Come Back To Sorrento. (Or so wikipedia claims.) Still, 5 million copies sold - that's some going.

4. Rainbow - I Surrender

Let's ROCK. Man, lead singer (at the time - Rainbow had about 6 at one point or another) Joe Lynn Turner had one serious haircut. I wonder if his dad ever told him how much he looked like a girl?

3. The Jam - Beat Surrender

Bullshit is bullshit
It just goes by different names

2. Bruce Springsteen - No Surrender

Who didn't learn more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school?

1. Justin Currie - No, Surrender

Adding a simple comma turns Bruce's defiant roar into a hopeless epic of resigned misanthropy. Justin hates on everyone and everything in this touching 8 minute rant... so much moaning, it takes TWO youtube videos to do it justice. It's like Nothing Ever Happened turned up to 11.

Should you stand and fight 
Should you die for what you think is right 
So your useless contribution will be remembered? 
If you're asking me I say no, surrender. 

Those were the records I'm surrendering too... but which one gets you waving your white flag?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My Top Ten L.A. Songs

The next stop on my Top Ten Tour of the USA... it's La La Land.

10. Patsy Gallant - From New York To L.A.

Ironically never a hit in America. But we'll return to Americans and irony in a moment...

9. Elliott Smith - L.A.

Sadly, it was to be his last stop.

8. Billy Joel - Los Angelenos

As I keep telling you: if you don't dig Billy, you don't dig music.

7. The Fall - L.A.

A song with about 30 words in total, yet they're all ace. Not sure whether the best line is this...

Uncanny bushes are in disagreement with the heat

...or this...

They have filled boulevards with white snow, scum-ball.
Gotta love Mark E. Smith.

6. Glen Campbell - Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)

Livin' in the city
Ain't never been my idea of gettin' it on

5. Art Brut - Moving To L.A.

Eddie Argos: a less L.A. rock star it would be hard to find. And yet...
When I get off that plane
The first thing I'm gonna do is
Strip naked to the waist
And ride my Harley Davidson
Up and down Sunset Strip
Hmm, I might even get a tattoo
My problems are never gonna find me
I'm not sending one letter or even a postcard back
I'm drinking Hennessy with Morrissey
On a beach out of reach somewhere very far away

4. Meat Loaf - Los Angeloser

Post Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf has released some pretty duff records, even I can't argue with that. However, every now and then he brings out something like this that, while not in the Jim leagues, still brings a huge smile to my face. I love rockstars who don't take themselves too seriously. I like to think that if Elvis was still alive, he'd be releasing stuff like this... even at 77.

3. Bran Van 3000 - Drinking In L.A.
Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.
A record that owes much of its existence to Beck, even though he had nothing to do with it.

Oh, and if you think this was the only decent record BV3000 released, can I respectfully direct you towards Speed? It's even better.

2. The Doors - L.A. Woman

Mr. Mojo Risin'.

1. Randy Newman - I Love L.A.

Next time some idiot tries to tell you Americans don't understand irony, point them towards Randy Newman.

Those were my L.A. loves... which one gets you going lalala?

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