Sunday, 18 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #20 - The Answers

Sunday morning. No video games... just snapshot answers.

10. Paddington loves... a mirror of memories.

Marmalade - Reflections Of My Life

First point to Lynchie.

9. Russian prostitutes want you to dress like Prince.

Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple

Half a point each to C and CC.

8. At home in the vineyard: I really am rubbish... aren't I?

Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

First point of the week to Chris.

7. The way we say thank you differs in many places. Anyone seen Gabriel?

Ta varies.

Please yourself.

Tavares - Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel

Second point to Lychie.

6. Prisoner Pat finds new job in elementary house.

A little deduction required for this one.

Some time after The Prisoner TV show finished, Patrick McGoohan appeared in a short-lived US TV series called Rafferty.

Sherlock Holmes lived on Baker Street. Elementary, my dear Watson.

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

(Bob Holness on sax, of course.)

Congrats to Lynchie for puzzling that one out.

5. Take a train to a southern amusement park... but don't tell the missus!

The train mentioned above, from which the band took their name, was called The Kursaal Flyer.

Kursaal Flyers - Little Does She Know

Well done to The Swede, beating George to it by about 90 seconds.

4. Iron Man goes fawlty over the mouse.

Tony Stark + Basil Fawlty + Mickey Mouse...

Toni Basil - Mickey

Another point to Chris - doing very well this week.

3. Mad King balances Yin & Yang with his wrecking crew.

The Mad King was George.

Balancing Yin & Yang would be (Thoro)Good & Bad (To The Bone).

George Thorogood & The Destroyers - Bad To The Bone

Lynchie knew this one, but C beat him to it.

2. Innoculation for scuba divers.

The Vaccines - Wet Suit

Another point for Chris!

1. He's desperate to join the Beach Boys - could use a rosary!

If Desperate Dan became a Wilson, perhaps he could join The Beach Boys.

The Rosary is a prayer to the Virgin Mary.

Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer

Final point to Lynchie, making him this week's winner, just ahead of Chris. Well done, everybody.

More nonsense next Saturday.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #20

Another week bites the dust... time for Saturday Snapshots.

Identify ten artists and their top tunes from the clues below...

10. Paddington loves... a mirror of memories.

9. Russian prostitutes want you to dress like Prince.

8. At home in the vineyard: I really am rubbish... aren't I?

7. The way we say thank you differs in many places. Anyone seen Gabriel?

6. Prisoner Pat finds new job in elementary house.

5. Take a train to a southern amusement park... but don't tell the missus!

4. Iron Man goes fawlty over the mouse.

3. Mad King balances Yin & Yang with his wrecking crew.

2. Innoculation for scuba divers.

1. He's desperate to join the Beach Boys - could use a rosary!

Simples... as the meerkats have it.

Answers Sunday morning.

Friday, 16 February 2018

My Top Ten Walkman Songs

The humble Walkman. How it revolutionised our world. Kids today don't know how lucky they have it when they can stream or download any song they want to hear immediately to their phone, tablet or domestic pet. This device let us take our music with us wherever we wanted... and made it even easier to ignore conversations on the bus than ever before.

Ten songs then that pay tribute to the Walkman... with special mention, of course, to The Walkmen.

10. Frank Black - I Heard Ramona Sing

It's not the Pixies, but it's unmistakably Frank Black...

I had so many problems
And then I got me a walkman
I really liked it a lot, and
They walked right in and they solved them
They walked right in and they solved them

9. American Music Club - Chanel No. 5

Walkmans, Chanel #5... Mark Eitzel has extremely sensory memories of the 80s.

She's got her Walkman on
She's got Chanel Number Five
Look at her walk
She's holding her head upright
Wants to show she's got some pride
To the headlights

8. Iggy Pop - Run Like A Villain

Utter nonsense, but Iggy makes utter nonsense addictive. From the album Zombie Birdhouse. What else do you need to know?

Tracy got an afghan, pedigreed,
Prescription shades and designer jeans
A Sony Walkman on her head
All she wants is to be fed

7. Veruca Salt - With David Bowie

Many a teenage infatuation began this way...

My heart skips around 
when I hear the sound.
I'm never alone cause 
you're following me home.
I'm falling in love, 
my walkman and me, 
with David Bowie.

6. Pavement - Range Life

Stephen Malkmus grew up with a skateboard and a walkman... just like Marty McFly and most other kids from 80s Americana.
Out on my skateboard
The night is just hummin'
And the gum smacks are the pulse
I'll follow if my walkman fades
But I've got absolutely no one,
No one but myself to blame

5. Robyn Hitchcock - Statue With A Walkman On

The only song I could find with Walkman in the title, but it's a belter.

4. Dr. Dre & Eminem - Forgot About Dre

My misspent twenties. Not my usual bag, I'm sure you'll admit, but this was back when all Eminem had to do was open his mouth and I bought it. And as Eminem never actually shut his mouth, I bought a lot...

One day I was walking by
With a Walkman on
When I caught a guy
Give me an awkward eye
And I strangled him up in the parking lot
With his Karl Kani

Plus, Dr. Dre is cool, whichever way you cut it. Even if you're an uncool kid like me you can see that.

3. Jenny Lewis - Late Bloomer

Fantastic storytelling. Like a novel in a song! Gotta love Jenny Lewis...

Nancy came from Boston, she got in trouble very often
Cause her parents had forgotten her, she escaped over the pond
She was searching for the writer of a song that made her shiver
She listened over and over on her Walkman cassette
And she said "Come with me late bloomer, for a little while
I wanna see that fire burning, in you little child."

2. Ben Folds - Late

Ben's tribute to his old friend Elliot Smith starts thus...

Under some dirty words on a dirty wall
Eating takeout by myself
I play the shows
Got back in the van and put the Walkman on
And you were playing

And the rest of the song's a heartbreaker.

Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar
And some dirty basketball
The songs you wrote
Got me through a lot
Just wanna tell you that
But it's too late

1. The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again

Apparently, Joan of Arc had both a hearing aid and a walkman...

What's side 1 track 1 on your Best Walkman Songs cassette?

Thursday, 15 February 2018

2017 Latecomers: The Opera Comic

So here I am, a victim of The Matrix. Of the algorithms that govern social media, that analyse my likes and my comments and throw out advertising that's designed specifically for me. It's not the first time I've bought a song on the back of a facebook ad, it probably won't be the last. I don't really mind too much, anything that introduces me to cool new music is to be celebrated... although my bank account may beg to differ.

Enter The Opera Comic and their single Fantasise!, released late last year, and very promising it is too if you like literate, orchestral indie pop. Kind of like the Divine Comedy meets The Who, I reckon. You may approve if you wish...

Have you ever bought music on the back of a facebook ad?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Songs I Thought I Owned But I Didn't: #1 Reet Petite

The other day I went searching through my digital library for a song I was certain was in there... but it turned out it wasn't. (It is now, thanks to emusic.) This happens on a semi-occasional basis, so I thought I'd make another as-and-when series about it.

1. Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite

Originally released in 1957, shortly after Jackie Wilson left The Dominoes, this was his first solo hit. Written by Berry Gordy, Gwen Fuqua (no comment) and Jackie's cousin Roquel "Billy" Davis (that's some nickname, Roquel), its title came from a Louis Jordan numberReet, Petite and Gone. Despite what I claimed on a recent Saturday Snapshots, it appears to have nothing to do with small French Geordies. But it did have a big impact on Gordy. Apparently, he made so much money from this song, he was able to launch Motown. And the rest is history...

Of course, my first exposure to Reet Petite was in the latter part of 1986 when it was re-issued accompanied by the above claymation video... featuring questionable racial caricaturing that looks quite insensitive today. At risk of sounding right-on, I never really liked the video, but I did love the song. It was the Christmas Number One in 1986, and if it wasn't for Don't You Want Me? by the Human League (and... possibly... the Pet Shop Boys' cover of Always On My Mind), I'd argue it was the best Christmas Number One of the 80s. I bought it on 7".... but my 45s are long gone. Still, I was sure I had this digitally in my collection somewhere.

Turns out though, that it's not on the 18 track Jackie Wilson Best Of (Higher & Higher: 18 Soul Sensations), nor does it crop up on any other soul or Northern soul comp I own. Well, I've got it now. Clearly I need to expand my Jackie Wilson collection some more...

Ever come across any songs you were CERTAIN you owned... but then were horrified to find you didn't?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #97

Rather surprised that nobody guessed my Number 97 song, though there were a couple of fine suggestions.

Martin went for '97 Bonnie & Clyde by Eminem, which has featured here before, five years ago in My Top Ten Bad Dad Songs. It's classic Psycho Marshall, in which Em' takes on Will Smith's version of Just The Two Of Us... and wins.

Then Chris suggested The Wreck Of The Old '97, a vintage country track (written back in 1924!) based on a terrible train crash in 1903. It's been covered by everyone since (I hear Kylie's done a version of her new "country" album, and I'm sure Justin Timberlake must be considering it now he's gone country) but Johnny Cash is Johnny Cash.

There's also a pretty cool American alt-rock band (pictured above) led by Rhett Miller who took their name from this song. Here they are getting drunk and getting it on.

Alyson plumbed for George Michael's Star People '97, which is OK... but a bit TOO '97 for me. I far refer the original. On that note though, I can confidently tell you there will NEVER be a year-remix song in this series... even if it means I have to skip a number. Just saying.

Nobody though, nobody at all, remembered this... very, very early Pulp - from 1986! Yes, Pulp were around in 1986 (believe it or not, they originally formed in 1978!). This was the b-side to the also-excellent single Dogs Are Everywhere, and it was later included on the Masters Of The Universe collection. If you've never heard it... close your eyes and meet a much younger Jarvis than we're used to... but just as sleazy as ever.

I know a woman

With a picture of Roger Moore
In a short towel and dressing-gown
Pinned to her bedroom wall
She married a man
Who works on a building site
Now they make love beneath Roger
Every Friday night

Which brings us to 96. The song should be obvious... but which version???

Monday, 12 February 2018

Radio Songs #26: Commercial Breakdown

Much concern has been voiced in the comments section that I'm now a quarter of a century (in terms of posts) into my radio career, and yet I still haven't been paid. So here it comes, my first paying job... I'll warn you though, it's probably pretty dull.

The truth is, the money in commercial radio comes from the commercials. Those bloody things that make most people want to turn off the radio or tune to another station. Ten to twelve minutes an hour of the things - if you're lucky, some stations pack in even more. I do think that in the UK we've been rather spoiled, many of us having been brought up on ad-free BBC radio stations. I'm sure that probably strengthens our antipathy for commercials - whereas in other countries, they're probably far more accepted. Still annoying as hell, but a necessary evil. (The ultimate irony of my Bill Hicks-style hatred of adverts is that I ended up writing the bloody things, which was in its own ways both the best and the worst job I ever had. But we'll get to that in due time.)

Anyway, most commercial radio stations in the UK focus on one big city and its surrounding areas. So the Manchester stations advertise businesses in Manchester and the Leeds stations advertise businesses in Leeds and the Dundee stations advertise business in Dundee. But it wasn't that easy for the station I worked at, which broadcast to one minor city (a city with a chip on its shoulder as it was seen as a second class cousin to a much bigger city a few miles down the road) and two pretty major towns. The problem was, a lot of people in the minor city went and did their shopping in the bigger city next door (which we didn't broadcast to)... and a lot of the people in the two major towns were quite happy doing their shopping locally... but wouldn't be seen dead in the minor city our station broadcast from. Various efforts had been made throughout the station's existence to convince listeners - and businesses - in the two towns that the station wasn't just focussed on the minor city, and my first paying job revolved around one such effort.

The station also had two transmitters and two frequencies. A smaller transmitter which broadcast to the minor city and a huge transmitter that broadcast (on a different frequency) to everywhere else. And this was where some Smart Alec in the sales department had a brainwave: what if they split the output to those transmitters during ad breaks!? So one set of ads would be broadcast to the city and another set of ads would be broadcast everywhere else.

At the time, adverts were played out on air (as were all jingles, sound effects, and even some songs) via the medium of cartridge... a close relative of the old 8 track cartridges that were big for about 6 minutes in the 70s. Some people even had them in their cars! Just like the one pictured above...

(The crappy, half-peeling label was a must.)

There was one stack of these wonderous machines to the left of the on air desk... and another stack to the right. Every ad break, the DJ would select four or five carts from the cart-wall that took up one whole side of the studio and play them out in the order specified on a many-folded sheet torn from a dot matrix printer and bulldog clipped to slab of chipboard. The ad log. But with split ads - basically, twice the number of adverts to find and put in order and make sure they were put in the right piles on the right side of the desk (left for transmitter A; right for transmitter B), concern was voiced that such an arduous and mentally-taxing task would prove too much for the average jock who also had to talk, play records and tie their own shoelaces... so that's where I came in.

For six to eight hours a day then (depending on how many ads the sales team sold that week), I would sit in the corner of the studio and help the presenter get their commercial breaks in order. Not half as much fun as cataloguing records, but I did get paid! £5.10 an hour! Oh, happy day! I had money at last!

I went straight out and bought a CD player... and, well, you can guess where the majority of my wages went after that...

26: The Sunshine Underground - Commercial Breakdown

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #19: The Answers

Yes, that's Kylie. Deal with it.

By the way, I'm only going to explain the clues from now on if they're really obscure...

10. Home for mad spirits. Where's the brakes!?!

Soul Asylum - Runaway Train

First point to Charity Chic.

9. Smaller than a superstar collie, sighing at trucks.

Lassie was a superstar collie. A smaller Lassie would be Alessi.

Alessi - Oh, Lori

I knew Alyson would get this one. George was miffed!

8. Kinda like this blog... hardly a firecracker!

This blog is kinda like My Life Story. It's hardly a firecracker, is it?

My Life Story - You Don't Sparkle

As I compile these results, nobody has got this. I fully expect Martin to swoop in at the last minute and nab it.

UPDATE: Just before I was about to turn off the computer and go to bed (hey, listen, 9.30 is all I can manage on a Saturday night), my prediction came true. I knew I could count on you, Martin!

7. Beware of this (unabbreviated) spinning lady... she's coming for New York!

A Spinning Jenny, unabbreviated, would be Jennifer.

Beware is a warning.

Jennifer Warnes - First We Take Manhattan 

Another point for CC.

6. Mental illness? Climb a mountain in the Med.

Cyprus Hill? Don't you know I'm loco?

Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain

From Jennifer Warnes to Cypress Hill - CC gets much respect this week!

5. Art makes Hazlewood a prisoner for drinking sugary pop from Korea.

Art = Arthur.

Putting Hazlewood in prison would make him a Con-Lee.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea.

Do you like good music?

Arthur Conley - Sweet Soul Music

And another one for the Charity-meister! He obviously had three Shredded Wheat on Saturday morning.

4. Steve & Charlie chew it over.

Steve Strange.

Charlie Rich.

Cud - Rich & Strange

Yes, kids, this is what 1992 looked like.

1/2 a point to George, 1/2 a point to Rigid Digit.

3. Created to adore... and smooch.

Kiss (without their make-up!) - I Was Made For Loving You

C stole this one out from under Alyson.

2. Good for staying up and larging it on Saturday & Sunday.

Ahem. If you don't know what an Arab Strap is, you're probably better off not googling it.

Arab Strap - The First Big Weekend

General agreement that this must be The Alexander Brothers with Nobody's Child... a song I'd never heard before, but I can see why you might think I'd like it. Having watched the video, I reckon there's a distinct possibility Aiden & Malcolm posed for that photo with said brothers in mind.

It took my extra "Think Belle & Sebastian" clue to direct RD to the correct answer.

1. What Bond got LOADS.

Sometimes the clues just write themselves.

George took a couple of shots, but nailed his target in the end.

Congratulations to this week's undisputed champion: Charity Chic. Thanks, as always, for playing along.

Back next Saturday with ten more badly disguised "classics" from the depths of my music library...

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Saturday Snapshots #19

Saturday's were made for POP. (And not just Iggy.)

Identify the ten pop songs - and their performers - below...

10. Home for mad spirits. Where's the brakes!?!

9. Smaller than a superstar collie, sighing at trucks.

8. Kinda like this blog... hardly a firecracker!

7. Beware of this (unabbreviated) spinning lady... she's coming for New York!

6. Mental illness? Climb a mountain in the Med.

5. Art makes Hazlewood a prisoner for drinking sugary pop from Korea.

4. Steve & Charlie chew it over.

3. Created to adore... and smooch.

2. Good for staying up and larging it on Saturday & Sunday.

1. What Bond got LOADS.

Easy... like Sunday morning (when you'll get the answers).

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