Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Neverending Top Ten #10: Rabbit!

These are Rabbit, formerly Rabbi. There are two of them for a very good reason. Here's a story I originally posted on Evil Facebook back in August 2015, when Sam was just under two years old...

Sam's favourite teddy is a large Nutbrown Hare from the Guess How Much I Love You book. His Uncle Adam bought it for him when he was very small and they've been pretty much inseparable ever since. If "Rabbi" isn't in Sam's cot when he goes to bed, there is much protesting. However, because of all the love he receives, Rabbi does occasionally need to go in the washing machine...

To solve the problem of Missing Rabbi, we bought a Spare Rabbi who we cunningly substitute for the real thing from time to time in the way Indiana Jones swaps the golden Aztec Fertility Idol for a bag of dust in the opening scene of Raiders... with care, subterfuge and split second precision.

This morning, such a substitution was required. So while I distracted Sam, mummy used the clever ploy of "giving Rabbi a cuddle" to do the swap, returning to Sam a clean and fresh Rabbi so she could sneak the other one off to the wash.

The boy took one look at his "returned" toy and without even a blink said simply: "New Rabbi!"

After that, we soon gave up the pretence of there being only one Rabbit and let Sam have them both. They're still his go-to toy, two and a half years later. I wonder how much longer they'll wield such power...

I still have my old Huggy Bear up on top of the bookcase in my office (missing a nose since my old dog Nip chewed it off when I was about 11).

It should come as no surprise then that Sam was overjoyed when I added this track to our in-car listening selection...


Say what you like about Chas 'n' Dave, but this is still a classic. Still haven't found any rabbit in Sainsbury's though. But I did see some oysters in Tesco the other week...

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #99

99 was always going to be a tough one. Thanks for all the suggestions, which ranged from Mr. Beyonce (one of his better efforts) to Wilson Pickett (at least I presume it was Wilson's version you meant, CC - I might be wrong... could it be Creedence?) to the always glorious Half Man Half Biscuit and then to Megadeth (not as scary as you might think: thanks, Rigid Digit).

(Disappointed that nobody suggested Ann Peebles or Slaves though.)

And of course, let's not forget those luftballoons... even better in the original German.

In the end though, it came down to a toss-up between Bruce and Suzanne. A tough one, because Johnny 99 comes from one of my three joint favourite Springsteen albums, making it one of the greatest albums ever recorded by anyone ever. (Hyperbole comes free on this blog. Fill your boots.)

But then there's this... surely the sexiest song Suzanne Vega ever recorded. I need a cold shower, just thinking about it.

99. Suzanne Vega - 99.9 °F

The first point goes to Alyson then. Can she make it two... or will someone else guess next week's song?

I've got 98 problems... but working out #98 isn't one of them.

Monday, 29 January 2018

If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will

This week's recommendation from that young hipster friend'a mine is Canadian "punk rock"* band Pup.

(*The definition of "punk rock" obviously means quite different things to the youth of today than it did to the youth of 1977, but the anger and shouting remains... with a nice tongue-in-cheek edge on Pup's songs that grouchy old bastards like me will always appreciate.)

You may think this will be one of those songs that can't possibly live up to its ace title, yet incredibly: it does. The rest of the album (2016's The Dream Is Over, their second) is pretty cool too, although some of the songs do get a little TOO SHOUTY for middle-aged ears.

Oh, and apparently the song is really quite autobiographical, as the band hated being stuck in a van together while they slowly built their fanbase, one dingy dive at a time. But then, I'm sure most bands feel the same...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #17 - The Answers

Sunday morning
Brings the dawn in...

...but also brings the answers to Saturday Snapshots.

Thanks, as always, for taking part.

10. All Bar 1 (or 50), a bit like fishing tackle, taking photos of a Soft Cell song.

All bar 1 would be Al (similar L = the Latin 50).

Fishing tackle would be a Rod, as in Stewart.

There's a cool little Soft Cell song called Bedsitter (Carter did a great cover of it too).

Al Stewart - Bedsitter Images

The Swede means business this week. First point of many.

9. Saucy dancers have a mirror in the bathroom.

Saucy dancers would be go-go girls.

Mirror In The Bathroom was a song by The Beat.

The Go-Gos - We Got The Beat

And that is why Belinda Carlisle will always be cool.

Half a point to The Swede, half a point to Alyson. (Rigid Digit got there too, but later in the day.)

8.  Good for cars, fires and burglars in Southern Australia.

Car alarm. Fire alarm. Burglar alarm. I make this too easy.

New South Wales is part of Southern Australia, though obviously they weren't really singing about that.

The Alarm - A New South Wales

Great to hear that one again. Always sends shivers down my spine.

Another point for The Swede.

7. Can a real boy's dad stomach this?

Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy. His "father" was Gepetto.

Stomach? Do I really have to...

Belly - Gepetto

Tanya Donnelly. Sigh.

Yet another one for The Swede.

6. Hang on twice to Dot's dog.

My favourite clue this week.

Dorothy's dog was Toto.

To x 2 (twice) = Toto.

Hang on...

Toto - Hold The Line

Half a point each for Alyson & George.

5. London prisoners turn to this in a power cut.

Holloway is a prison in London.

In a power cut, you might need a generator.

The Holloways - Generator

George tried his best, checking into all the London prisons he could think of... but old lag Martin had already done time with this bunch so he recognised their mugshots immediately.

4. Syd was pretty tough - and loaded!

Syd Barrett.

Tough = strong.

If you're loaded, you have "LOADSAMONEY!" (You had to be there. Yes, I bought that. Listen musos - William Orbit was involved in that, so it must have been cool. I was 16, OK? Give me a break.)

Sorry. Where were we?

Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want)

Despite an initial confusion with the footballer (!?!) Earl Barrett, George nabbed this one.

3. German stone guy makes a Take That song even worse.

Stein is German for stone.

Take That did Bad For Good (possibly Gary Barlow's finest hour, though I prefer Robbie Williams' solo version: you have to stick with it past the first 50 seconds. I saw him do that live. Twice. One time, he rode a toilet round the stage while doing it. Don't tell me Robbie Williams isn't great. I won't believe you.)

In my humble opionion, Jim Steinman is one of the greatest songwriters ever to have set foot on this planet.

A rock star, he was not.

But Meat Loaf had a sore throat, so...

Jim Steinman - Bad For Good

(If you were shocked by the Robbie Williams, you'll probably be in a coma after that. Great song though, hilariously camp video notwithstanding.)

The Swede knew the answer, but wasn't willing to risk sacrificing his street cred.

Lynchie & Chris had no such qualms: they share a point between them.

RD adds, "not a terrible album, just not that brilliant either", which is the best I could have hoped for under the circumstances.

2. Little miss sunshine makes half-serious music in pursuit of her target.

KC had his sunshine band, so this must be Kacey.

Grave is serious, half of music is Mus.

Kacey Musgraves - Follow Your Arrow

Top work from C.

1. Voodoo creates an invisible woman.

Voodoo created zombies.

An invisible woman would not be there.

Really, I'm spoiling you.

The Zombies - She's Not There

And with that, The Swede takes this week's trophy.

More next... er... Saturday.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #17

Come as you are for this week's Saturday Snapshots.

As always, ten clues to plague your weekend. Artist & song title for each, please.

10. All Bar 1 (or 50), a bit like fishing tackle, taking photos of a Soft Cell song.

9. Saucy dancers have a mirror in the bathroom.

8.  Good for cars, fires and burglars in Southern Australia.

7. Can a real boy's dad stomach this?

6. Hang on twice to Dot's dog.

5. London prisoners turn to this in a power cut.

4. Syd was pretty tough - and loaded!

3. German stone guy makes a Take That song even worse.

2. Little miss sunshine makes half-serious music in pursuit of her target.

1. Voodoo creates an invisible woman.

I can't see any of those causing you any problems. Answers tomorrow morning.

Friday, 26 January 2018

My Top Ten Songs About Accidents At Work

Ten songs that might make you want to call an insurance company and sue your employer...

(By the way, if you do the online marketing for an insurance company and you're thinking about leaving a link in my comments... please don't. I'll only delete it. See if you can insure yourselves against that.)

Been a while since I featured a country-heavy Top Ten here, but nobody loves a good workplace accident like your average country singer...

10. Alabama - Roll On, 18 Wheeler

When Daddy's a long distance lorry driver, you wait every night for his call. But what happens when it's the police making that call...?
Well it's Wednesday evening, momma's waitin' by the phone
It rings but it's not his voice
Seems the highway patrol has found a jack-knifed rig
In a snow bank in Illinois

But the driver was missin' and the search had been abandoned
For the weather had everything stalled
And they had checked all the houses and the local motels
When they had some more news they'd call
And she told them when they found him to tell him that she loved him
And she hung up the phone singin'...

Roll on highway, roll on along
Roll on daddy till you get back home...
9. .38 Special - Bone Against Steel

Extra points if anyone can find any other songs which actually contain the phrase "workplace accident"...
As the moon rose in the window
Rufus began his tale
About an oil rig near the gulf coast
Puttin' man against metal
In a classic work-place accident
He told how the drill commenced to shakin'
The platform started to rock
The chain began breaking
They were straight out of luck
And then the sky kinda lite up
Just like a lightnin' bolt had struck
8. Flaming Lips - Lightning Strikes The Postman

What happens when God doesn't get his birthday cards on time...
I got yer package; it was all a mess
Lightning strikes the postman in his chest
I hope that you remember the things you had to say
It's just a supernatural delay
7. Morrissey - Hairdresser On Fire

What? Oh, yeah. Sorry. I almost forgot...

Was a client, over-cautious
He made you nervous
And when he said
"I'm gonna sue you"
Oh, I really felt for you
6. Johnny Cash - Wreck of the Old '97 

I could probably do a Top Ten Train Crash Songs... there's certainly plenty of runaway locomotives in my collection. Pity the unlucky engine driver...
And then a telegram come from Washington station,
This is how it read:
"Oh that brave engineer that run ol 97,
"Is lyin in old Danville dead."

'Cos he was going down a grade making 90 miles an hour,
The whistle broke into a scream.
He was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle,
Scalded to death by the steam.
5. Dire Straits - Industrial Disease

Shh. Don't tell anyone this was also in My Top Ten Bette Davis Songs. Nobody will notice.
Warning lights are flashing down at Quality Control
Somebody threw a spanner and they threw him in the hole
There's rumors in the loading bay and anger in the town
Somebody blew the whistle and the walls came down
There's a meeting in the boardroom they're trying to trace the smell
There's leaking in the washroom there's a sneak in personnel
Somewhere in the corridors someone was heard to sneeze

Goodness me, could this be Industrial Disease?
4. Jimmy Dean - Big John 

When that mine collapses on you, you're going to want Big John down there with you.

3. The Highwaymen - Highwayman

Here's Johnny again... along with Kris, Waylon and Willie. Both the sailor and the dam-builder meet potentially litigious ends here... I'm not sure the highwayman or the star ship captain have much of a case.

Jimmy Webb Is God.

2. Pulp - Sheffield Sex City

Jarvis at his sleaziest: pure class!

Oh, what about the workplace accident? It's in here, amidst the smut...
The tobacconist caught fire, and everyone in the street died of lung cancer.
I reckon that's what the Americans call a Class Action Suit right there...

1. Jason Isbell - The Life You Chose

The stand out track from a stand out album, Something More Than Free... these lines always make me smile.
I got lucky when I finished school
Lost three fingers to a faulty tool
Settled out of court, I'm no one's fool
You probably knew

Any potential law-suits in your library?

Thursday, 25 January 2018


I had huge respect for The Fall even though I didn't always love their music. MES was a unique and original character, and the pop world needs more like him. I'm not going to attempt a Top Ten Fall Songs, even though there a good few in my collection. But it seems only right to play this one today: a cover, yeah, but he made it his own (though being thoroughly uncool, I still prefer the original).

The video's great too.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Radio Songs #25: Music Mix

In 1989, when I started my full-time (unpaid) job in radio, the music business was going through a period of great change. Compact discs had been around for a few years but they had ceased to be a novelty or a fad. The record industry was doing its level best to sell music fans their old record collections back to them on shiny silver discs, and for the most part we were going along with them.

My first experience of driving the on-air desk in Studio A came when I was offered the chance to do Music Mix - a one hour "no talk" segue between the mid-morning / lunchtime show, which ended at 2, and the drive-time show, which began at three. It was back-to-back music, with ads, but it was good practice for a wannabe-DJ to learn the desk without also having to worry about talking and making a fool of himself. I can clearly remember that shift - the anxiety of being alone in the studio with the power of the desk at my command. The awesome responsibility of it. The terrifying fear of dead air, of pressing the wrong button, of cueing up a record with the fader open...

Yeah, I did that one a few times. If you've never been near a radio desk, you won't know about pre-fade, the button that allows you to listen to a channel that isn't live off-air, and prepare the audio on that channel for broadcast with the fader down. Leave the fader up, though... and wikky-wikky-wikky.

Wikky wikky wikky. The sound of a vinyl disc being cued. When I started, the majority of the music played on that station was still on vinyl. But CD was taking over. The playlist box in the studio contained (in most cases) both the 7" and the CD single of the latest chart hits. It was the presenter's choice which they played. As time went on, the number of 7 inches in that box quickly depleted. Eventually it was just full of CDs.

The migration from vinyl to CD, however, gave me my first job. The record library, when I arrived, was in chaos. There had been sporadic attempts to catalogue it in the past, but now the shelves were full of hundreds of old vinyl records and an increasing number of those funky new CDs... and nobody could find anything. This was still in the days of presenter choice when it came to the music played (with a few little rules to guide the jocks), but the lazy ones had taken to just grabbing a handful of Now albums and making do with those each day. Organisation was required to liberate all that glorious, forgotten old music..., and that was my task.

Every day then, when I wasn't given anything else to do, I settled down at the desk in that poky, dusty, dingy, magical old record library...  with just a stack of index cards and a biro... numbering and stickering the albums and CDs, giving anyone who cared to look clear instructions where to find even the most obscure old pop song... by writing down long lists of song titles.

If you ever wondered why I write this blog... why I compile obscure Top Tens featuring the most eclectic and muso-irking selection of music... why I'm sat here hunched over a computer at 10pm on a Tuesday evening after a hard day at work when I could be relaxing in from of the TV... I think you just found your answer.

You never forget your first love, and for me, mine was that old record library.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #100

OK, so I decided this kind of long term commitment might be fun. (Or I'll get bored of it after 3 weeks. Let's see.)

I'm going to countdown from 100 and every week I will choose my favourite song with that week's number in the title... or if not in the title, then prominently featured in the lyrics.

No restrictions to whole numbers, so decimals will be allowed... meaning I can choose 76.5 trombones if I want. 

Preference will be given to songs with the number in the title... unless there's a really good one with it in the lyrics only.

Years will be allowed as a last resort, but better if they're abbreviated. (i.e. '72 is better than 1972.)

Points awarded to anyone who can guess what my next choice will be. You can suggest as many songs as you want, but only select ONE as your official guess. If you don't do that, I'll take your first answer.

Ironically, though there are probably hundreds of songs with 100 (or a hundred) in my music library, there aren't many stand-out classics. I considered The Byrds, The Stones, Elvis, Generation X, Nancy Sinatra, Sonic Youth, Sheryl Crow and Nosferatu D2 (among others). But in the end, I had to settle for this...

100. The Handsome Family - The Song of a Hundred Toads

Anyone who's seen the Leonard DiCaprio movie The Revenant (otherwise known as Leo's Very Bad Day... or Leo Wants An Oscar) might recognise certain aspects of the plot of this fabulous Handsome Family tune. Except Brett & Rennie Sparks are far more cheering than anything Leo had to offer...

I think it's fair to say 99 will be a lot easier to guess... but perhaps not the really obvious choice. We'll see. Place your bets now.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Tell Laura I Like Her A Lot

That young hipster friend'a mine (look, he's in his 20s, uses words like "dropped" to describe a new record being released, collects vinyl and mainlines spotify - NO CD PLAYER! - and he has a scruffy/trendy beard - he's a good guy, but he's a hipster) has introduced me to a few cracking records lately (and some less cracking ones my ears are too old and unhip to appreciate). One of the best is worth a click below...

Laura Stevenson used to be the keyboard player in the New York based "musical collective" (friggin' hipsters, can't even call a band a band) Bomb The Music Industry! (The exclamation mark is theirs, not mine.) More on them, and their lead singer / songwriter, Jeff Rosenstock very soon.

Meanwhile, Laura. This is power pop at its very best, and it's great to hear the young hipster people are still making records like this. Makes me feel a little less old for 2 and a half minutes...

Hear more at bandcamp.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #16 - The Answers

No problems this week...

10. Non-stop paintings of the place most of us live in.

Most of us live in a house.

Non-stop paintings would be Endless Art.

A House - Endless Art

Score 1 for George.

9. Betty & Wilma, perhaps? Something tells me none of you will get this.
I don't really think I need to spell this one out.

Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows

Score 2 for George.

8. Marcos might like some new shoes to teach Thunders how to sound.

Imelda Marcos likes lots of shoes.

Might = May.

Johnny Thunders.

Thunder also goes boom.

Imelda May - Johnny's Got A Boom Boom

Imelda has given up on her distinctive quiffy hairstyle, so isn't as recognisable as she once was.

1 point for Charity Chic.

7. Edwyn's gang gets squeezed by a bunch of traitors.

Edwyn Collins was in a gang called Orange Juice.

Squeeze that and it becomes OJ.

Traitors stab you in the back.

The O'Jays - Backstabbers

1 for Alyson.

6. Legendary African city seems even more ridiculous in the dazzling light of tomorrow.

A legendary African city is Timbuktu.

Make it more ridiculous and it becomes Timbuk 3.

Timbuk 3 - The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)

Score 2 for Alyson.

5. Much excitement over the mystery of a Lost Boy.

The Lost Boys is a film starring (among others) Corey Haim.

Excitement is thrilling.

The Thrills - Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?

Much puzzling over this, but George got there in the end... which takes him to 3.

4. A little Italian asks you to double-check your answers.

Poco translates as "a little bit" in Italian.

Poco - You Better Think Twice

Point to Lynchie.

3. Charlie's rival falls into a chocolate Vesuvius.

Veruca Salt was a horrible girl in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Vesuvius is a volcano.

Veruca Salt - Volcano Girls

Score 2 for Lynchie.

2. Titanic lady and some old electric cars go rambling.

Celine Dion sang the theme tune to Titanic... which I'm sure we all have in our collections.

You can google "Belmont electric cars" if you so wish.

Rambling is wandering.

Dion & The Belmonts - The Wanderer

Score 3 for Alyson.

1. A knife puts on new clothes.

Bowie - Changes

Which gets 1/2 a point for Lynchie and 1/2 a point for George, making George this week's winner - by just half a point. Thanks for playing, everybody.

More next week.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #16

It's Saturday.

These are the snapshot.

Guess the artist and song title for each one, please.

10. Non-stop paintings of the place most of us live in.

9. Betty & Wilma, perhaps? Something tells me none of you will get this.
8. Marcos might like some new shoes to teach Thunders how to sound.

7. Edwyn's gang gets squeezed by a bunch of traitors.

6. Legendary African city seems even more ridiculous in the dazzling light of tomorrow.

5. Much excitement over the mystery of a Lost Boy.

4. A little Italian asks you to double-check your answers.

3. Charlie's rival falls into a chocolate Vesuvius.

2. Titanic lady and some old electric cars go rambling.

1. A knife puts on new clothes.

I think these might be a bit tough this week. So it might take you till noon...

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