Monday, 8 December 2014

Simon Says

"Right, you two grab me round the arms & try not to look too queasy while I introduce Walking On The Moon as Walking."

An historic night for BBC Four last Thursday as the channel had the not inconsiderable honour of repeating the very first edition of Top of the Pops to be hosted by Simon "Batesy" Bates, first broadcast in December 1979. So, how did the young 33-year-old get on during his TOTP bow? Time for a spot of tactical analysis, I reckon.

He kicks off by introducing Darts' version of the Jackie Wilson classic as "Little Richard's Reet Petite", which I suppose you could put down to first-night nerves. But I dunno - he does look and sound extremely relaxed and full of confidence. Anyway, it seems to me that if you're hosting a TV music show watched by MILLIONS - and indeed if your full-time job is playing music on the nation's airwaves - a few seconds' research on the songs you're introducing is the very least you could do. Assuming he made the same basic error in rehearsal, you would have thought someone - anyone - on the production staff would have been able to put him straight? But no. Did no one on that show like him pop music?

No problems with his next link to camera - a still of which you can see above. Although, I dunno, for some reason those two girls don't seem to be enjoying the experience all that much. Why it's almost as if they don't enjoy being playfully grabbed round the neck by a complete stranger. Get a grip, girls! Simon has!

Two songs later and there's another unforced error when Simon introduces My Simple Heart as My Simple Hut, before swiftly correcting himself. After the video clip Simon says, laughing: "My Simple Heart, and that's the Three Degrees." Then, gesturing towards the girls flanking him in this picture:

"...And three very jealous boyfriends. I like this job!" Zinger! (Remember: Simon is irresistible to women.)

And how about this: "That's Michael Jackson and Legs and Company. It gets hot in here, but even hotter now. Here's Sugarhill Gang and one of the fastest climbers of the week. It's The Rapper". Oh Simon, you've done it again! You meant Rapper's Delight! Never mind, at least you can correct yourself after the clip has played:

"That was The Rapper. I mean when does he breathe? That's the most important thing to know!"


"Now then, you lot. Do you like sloppy songs? Yeah, you've got one here... I think Marianne Faithfull is gonna have The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan in the charts." Ah yes, that sloppy song about a mentally ill woman being committed to an institution. Off the schmaltzy scale!

Anyway, apart from all that, and the Police incident (no, not a police incident! The Walking one!) he was great, and it's no wonder he went on to present the show on a regular basis for the next nine years. I'd like to think he even learnt the names of some of the songs at some point.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Bill Hicks on marketing & advertising

"By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root. I don't know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there's no rationalization for what you do, and you are Satan's little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You're the destroyer of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. "There's going to be a joke coming..." There's no fucking joke coming, you are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it's the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show."

Happy Black Friday.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Devil's Ball

(he's only got one)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pizza First, Booze Second

A rare mp3 from me today. If you have a low tolerance threshold for tweepop, probably best give this one a swerve; otherwise, dive in - you'll love it!

The Hazzards - Pizza First, Booze Second mp3

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

#37 On This Day In History

Today sees the introduction of an exciting* new regular feature on the blog: #37 On This Day In History. Every week I'll feature a different song that was at number 37 in the UK singles chart on the corresponding week in the past. The songs will not necessarily be ones that peaked at 37 - let's face it, that would make for quite a limited pool - but could just as easily be former chart-toppers on their way out of the top 40, as new entries.

Whatever - the important thing here is that this flimsy #37 pretext gives me the ideal opportunity to share some guilty pleasures from my pop past. And let's face it, we all loved cheesy chart music at some point in our journey from there to here, right? Anyone who protests that they went straight from nursery rhymes to Einstürzende Neubauten is having a laugh, basically.

To kick things off here's a song that was #37 on this week in 1983 - in what turned out to be its one and only week in the top 40; Level 42's Micro Kid, in which the titular character invents the internet or something, probably.

It's easy to bemoan the fact that technology is the preserve of the young and that us old 'uns have a hard time keeping up with every new development. But I can safely say that, as a kid at the time of this song's release, I was as clueless about all things computer-related as I am now. No Microkid, in other words!

Full disclosure: although this isn't their greatest song, I was - and remain - a Level 42 fan, slapped bass and all. Something About You, Lessons In Love and The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) are great pop songs. Mark King was on Pointless Celebrities a while back, and seemed like a lovely, humble bloke (in contrast to some of the other celebrities who've appeared on that show) so good luck to him. They're still touring in 2014, too (Level 42, rather than the pointless celebrities).

*or not

Monday, 27 October 2014

All I Want Is You

Oh, this is good. Catchy tune, boy-girl - 50% French-accented - vocals, handclaps. It's got the lot!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Call My Bluff

Is Donovan's 1970 slice of whimsy Rikki Tikki Tavi based on:

a) Spanish football coach Enrique Tikkitavi, who developed a style of play pioneered by Barcelona and the Spanish national team characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, maintaining possession and boring your opponents into submission.

b) The punjabi word for "hopscotch". Donovan and his guru the Maharishi Yogi would relax with some hard-fought games of rikki tikki tavi between bouts of Transcendental Meditation and ping-pong at the singer's mountain retreat in north Wales.

c) A short story by Rudyard Kipling in The Jungle Book about a snake-murdering mongoose.

Stand your computer on its head for the correct answer. Or have a listen to this.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Stardust Memories

Sad to hear of the death of Alvin Stardust today. I was a bit young to remember much of his 70s stuff - and all that Glam-era rock leaves me a bit cold anyway if I'm honest - but I did enjoy his early 80s resurgence, when he became an unlikely member of the Stiff Records roster before finding yet more chart success at Chrysalis. The first song of his I was really aware of would have been 1981's Pretend, which made number 4 in the UK hit parade despite already having been recorded by a host of artists in the rock era* - Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee, and Gerry & The Pacemakers to name but three. Alvin's version is my favourite, though - chiefly because it's the only one I've ever heard.

This video was clearly filmed on a lovely sunny day in Blighty, and features various frolicking dogs and some baffled children clearly too young to have the faintest idea who this strange miming man is. At least he wasn't wearing a leather glove and trying to help them cross the road I s'pose.

*Casey Kasem eat your heart out.

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact Alvin's real name wasn't Shane Fenton, as many believe, but Bernard William Jewry. Take that, Peppy Castro!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Don't Watch That - Watch This!

One Step Beyond, the debut album from Madness, is thirty-five years old. 35 years! How did this happen?! I was in the Madness Information Service as a nipper, you know. Used to get a 'Nutty Boys' magazine, amongst other things I've now forgotten (a letter? A pen? Some badges? A certificate of membership?), dropping through the letter box four times a year. Have I kept any of these pop artefacts, though? Have I bugger.

Ah well, there's always the digitally remastered 35th Anniversary edition of One Step Beyond to sustain me - complete with two songs that have never been released before and a bonus Fab Toones CD of recently unearthed 1979 rehearsal footage. If you click on this link and enter your email address in the box within you'll receive two free songs that didn't fit on the Fab Toones CD, too. Can't be bad.

While you wait for the album to turn up, here's some classical music to tide you over.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Period piece


Monday, 20 October 2014


Here's an absolute stonker from the Go Violets that I first heard over on the sublime songs for girls to sing blog. (You already visit there, right? Right?!) Songs like this remind you why you loved indiepop in the first place. Ace video too!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Love Junky

Here's the new single from the Popguns! A sentence I'd never have imagined I'd be using in 2014. It's their first single since 1936, is called Love Junky and is very addictive indeed. Haw haw.

Get it here