Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sugarblast From The Past

Flicking through a stack of old 12" singles the other day I stumbled across a record I'd almost forgotten about in the fifteen years or so since I'd last played it: Mind by early-nineties Workington (it's in Cumbria, geography fans) indie combo Sugarblast. It may have singularly failed to trouble the chart scorers, but I'd go as far as to say that this is a bit of a lost classic. If you liked the UK independent scene of about 1992, I think you're really going to enjoy this.

It was also as a result of buying this single that I first became aware of the following sequence of spooky, U.S. President-based historical coincidences (it was printed on the back cover of the sleeve):


Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. 100 years later, in 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected President. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald was born 100 years later, in 1939. Both Presidents were killed from bullets entering their heads from behind. Both were assassinated on a Friday in the presence of their wives. Lincoln was killed in Fords theatre. Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln Convertible made by Ford Motor Co. Both assassins were murdered before they could be brought to trial. Both Presidents were involved with Civil Rights for negroes. Both assassins were Southerners who held extremist views. Both Presidents were succeeded by vice-Presidents named Johnson, both of whom were Southern Democrats and former Senators. Andrew Johnson born 1808. Lyndon Johnson born 100 years later in 1908.

(Sadly the sequence ended when, unlike his surnamesake Andrew Johnson, Lyndon Johnson failed to end up playing up front for Fulham.)

Sugarblast - Mind mp3

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Dubious But Decent

There used to be a regular feature on Gideon Coe's mid-morning BBC 6 Music show called Dodgy But Great in which, each day, our genial host would play a different cheesy and deeply unhip song that was, in spite of everything, actually rather brilliant.

It was also quite possibly the greatest feature on any radio show ever. In fact, it definitely was. But then, all of a sudden, they got rid of it. Pourquoi? Had Gideon exhausted the world's supply of dodgy-but-great pop songs? I rather doubt it. And can it be a mere coincidence that, soon after binning this feature, the whole show was scrapped and Gid was (unfairly, for he is great, and not at all dodgy) shunted off to the station's 10pm-1am (now 9pm-midnight) Monday-Thursday slot? I think not. Oh alright then, so it definitely would have just been a coincidence. But still, makes you think, no?


Anyhoo, this is all basically a long-winded way of my nominating a dodgy but great tune of my own (well, when I say my own I didn't actually have anything to do with the writing or recording of it. I just likes it, is all). It's 1982 #19 UK pop 40 smash for throwback rock 'n' rollers Rocky Sharpe & The Replays with the rather wondrous Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out), which, I've just learned, is a cover version of an old sixties hit for someone called Ernie Maresca. Makes sense.

Rocky Sharpe & The Replays - Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out) mp3

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: Replays member Helen Blizard later went on to appear in early series of long-running ITV firefighting drama London's Burning as Marion, wife of serial crumpet-merchant Vaseline (Mark Arden). Dead good she was, too.

Rocky Sharpe and the Replays stuff is surprisingly readily available to buy on CD and even mp3.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Song Titles You'd Never Guess From Their Lyrics #2

The second in an (hitherto extremely) occasional series, and a perfect excuse to present this quintessential slice of early 90s Swindie (Swedish indie pop) from the absolute masters of the art, Popsicle. Rock-ing!

Popsicle - Undulate mp3 (1992)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Even Younger Ones

One of the funniest things I remember watching as a child was the 1982 one-off mockumentary Kevin Turvey: The Man Behind The Green Door, starring Rik Mayall as the titular Turvey (a character he'd made famous on BBC2 sketch show A Kick Up The Eighties). Filmed in a video diary style, it chronicles a week in the life of an unemployed dreamer from Redditch, in the West Midlands. It's years ahead of its time really (at least a decade ahead of Steve Coogan's Paul & Pauline Calf's Video Diaries, for example).

Anyway, I recently rewatched Kevin Turvey: TMBTGD for the first time in years and it's still (oxymoron alert!) seriously funny. As well as Mayall there are also early TV roles for a fresh-faced Ade Edmondson and Robbie Coltrane, as well as a great turn from Roger "Nuts In May" Sloman as a deranged, possibly psychopathic park-keeper. All this and a Shakin' Stevens theme tune as well. What more could you ask for?

Sadly you can't get the programme on DVD for love nor money, but there are still old second hand VHS copies available from Amazon and the like. It'll set you back around a tenner but it's well worth it for a largely forgotten TV comedy classic.

Then there's always the option of watching clips from the programme via You Tube. Here we see, firstly, a truly unforgettable rendering of Downtown from Turvey and co; followed by a punk classic courtesy of Ade Edmondson Keith Marshall.

Petula Clark eat your heart out

Keith Marshall & His Musical Anarchy

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Three of a Kind #65

I've just been watching the none-more-eighties dance flick that is Breakin' (or Breakdance: The Movie as it was known in the UK). Clunky script, wafer-thin plot, wooden acting, haphazard editing - what can I say? marvellous! I'd never seen it before but my goodness it's camp! There's as much jazz dancing and prancing about in leotards and leg warmers as there is yer actual break dancing 'n' body popping.

Ahh, the body popping. This took me right back to the school lunchtime discos of my youth when some of my more foolhardy peers used to get up on the stage in the assembly hall in their Nike Wimbledons and Adidas windcheaters and exhibit their risible, home counties attempts at appearing 'street'; sadly, these were more Coronation Street than anything else.

But I digress. It's odd but, for all its faults, Breakin' is actually pretty inspiring, albeit in a cheesy, how-the-hell-did-this-ever-get-commissioned kind of way, and leaves you feeling inexplicably cheerful and optimistic afterwards. Maybe that's just the fantastic eighties soundtrack working it's magic, though, I dunno.

Anyway, here's a typical scene from the film, in which the gang all strut their stuff and resolve their differences to the musical accompaniment of Rufus & Chaka Khan. (if only the Israelis and the Palestinians could get together and try something similar.)

And here's a sprinkling of other songs from the soundtrack. Just mind you don't do yerself a mischief spinning on the living room floor, old timer!

Ollie & Jerry - Breakin'... There's No Stoppin' Us mp3

Carol Lynn Townes - 99.5 mp3

3-V - Heart Of The Beat mp3

Watch Breakin' in its entirety (albeit in the usual bite-sized chunks) on YouTube.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Three of a Kind #64

Feast your mince pies, dear reader, on Swedish popsters of yesteryear, Skip'z. Phwoarr! Eh? Aren't they dreamy? (especially the bloke second from the right.) Skip'z are just one of over fifty equally sartorially-challenged Swedish dance bands from the seventies pictured over on this fantastic webpage. (muchos credit and [ahem] a big shout-out must go to my old mucker Jon H here for sending me that link in the first place. Ta, matey!)

Words can't really do justice to the mind-boggling sights on offer over there, anyway, so let's just have some more band pics and some suitable songs by way of tribute to these men (and the occasional woman) who remain, even now, on the most wanted lists of fashion police the world over.

The Kinks - Dedicated Follower of Fashion mp3

Cud - You Sexy Thing mp3

Lucky Soul - Ain't Never Been Cool mp3

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Waitresses - I Know What Boys Like

Saucy mare!

Probably a bit of a Marmite song, this one. I'm definitely in the 'like' camp, anyway; but then I am a boy. (Curses, she really does know what boys like - this song!)

The Waitresses - I Know What Boys Like mp3

(I almost did a Depressing Pop Fact to accompany this post, but thought better of it at the last minute. It is the weekend, after all.)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Kids today...

Spike and me were catching up with this week's edition of University Challenge earlier tonight when one question - or rather the lack of a correct response to it - made our jaws drop. None of the eight contestants were able to identify James Stewart from the picture on the right (or one very much like it). Not a one of 'em. Eventually, after being chivvied along for an answer by Jeremy Paxman, a couple of guesses were proferred: Cary Grant and Robert Redford (Robert Redford!). OK, so they may have correctly answered lots of far more complicated and convoluted questions during the course of the show, but come on. What's wrong with these people?!

Sonic Youth - Superstar mp3

Get The Shop Around The Corner (ie the James Stewart flick in the above clip) on DVD. Alternatively, it's there for the whole world to see (albeit in 11 bite-sized chunks) on the wonder that is YouTube.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Three of a kind #63

It's all about musical instruments today; more specifically, trumpets, violins, cellos and pianos. Ooh, and let's throw in some auction facts and figures along the way, shall we? keep the Bargain Hunt demographic happy. (literally thousands of them read this blog, you know.)

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Trumpets & Violins mp3

GOING, GOING, GONE! The most expensive trumpet ever to sell at auction was Dizzy Gillespie's Martin Committee, which fetched $55,000 at Christie's New York, in 1995. Some say Dizzy was too full of himself, that he was always blowing his own trumpet, but I won't hear a word of it.

As for the costliest violin, that distinction goes to "The Lady Tennant" Stradivarius, which brought in a whopping $2.03 million, also at Christie's, in 2005. It's not clear whether it was the blue team or the red team who found this particular item, but host David Dickinson professed himself to being "as pleased as punch" with that morning's recording.

Nick Drake - Cello Song mp3

GOING, GOING, GONE! Another world record for a Stradivarius here, the "Bonjour" cello (built in 1696 and named after French cellist Abel Bonjour, fact fans) sold for $1.03 million in 1999, making it the swankiest cello ever. "A nice bit of gear" was apparently how the item was described in the auction's catalogue.

Brenda Russell - Piano In The Dark mp3

GOING, GOING, GONE! George Michael forked out a ridiculous £1.45 million in October 2000 for John Lennon's Steinway Model "Z" piano, on which the ex-Beatle was said to have composed Imagine. The piano still bears Lennon's old cigarette burns. Callous bastard.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Nik off!

Wouldn't it be good to be in your shoes, even if it was for just one day.

So sang wee Nik Kershaw on his 1984 hit single, surprisingly entitled Wouldn't It Be Good. But would it though, really? I mean, I can't say for sure if Nik was addressing me directly on this song (although he probably was), but if so I'm afraid his reverie would have turned out to be nothing more than a massive anti-climax, had it ever been realised. Let me explain.

Being a relatively lanky six-feet tall I take a size 10 shoe - which, quite clearly, would have been far too big for the diminutive Suffolk-based popster, who, without wishing to sound unkind here, would probably have been better off seeking the footwear of someone more his stature - Jimmy Krankie or David Rappaport, say. It really is that simple (or would have been, had he been properly advised at the time).

Actually, I'd even go as far as to say that Kershaw's whole second-hand shoes idea was altogether insalubrious, as goodness knows what kind of foot-based ailments he might have picked up going around aspiring to other people's smelly old trainers, slingbacks and pixie boots left right and centre. No, he really didn't think this through at all. Unless he had some kind of footwear fetish, of course, in which case I'd urge him to seek professional help immediately (assuming he hasn't already done so in the intervening twenty-four years). It's never too late, Nik. Just ask Kylie.

Anyway, never mind all that. I'll tell you what really would be good - if London tweepop veterans Would-Be-Goods were to get around to releasing their fifth album, perhaps calling it Eventyr (meaning ‘adventures’ or ‘fairy tales’, and taken from the title of Hans Christian Andersen's classic collection of stories) and releasing it on the always excellent Matinée Recordings label, around about now. Oh! They just have. Better have a couple of tracks from it then!

Would-Be-Goods - Sad Stories mp3 (right click)

Would-Be-Goods - The Ghost of Mr. Minton mp3 (right click)

Eventyr is available from the Matinée Shop.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Forget Jason Nevins...'s Run DMC vs The Monkees in the battle of the Mary Marys!

Actually, apart from sharing a title, a riff, a vocal sample and the same basic tune, there's very little similarity between these two songs - at least lyrically. They're so different that the words Mary and, umm, Mary (that'll be Mary, then) are about the only ones (one) that the two versions have in common.

Anyway, I don't know if it's just because I knew the Run DMC version first, but this is one instance where I prefer the cover to the original. How about you?

Run DMC - Mary Mary mp3

The Monkees - Mary Mary mp3

Mildly Interesting Pop "Fact": I'm sure I remember once hearing that Run DMC had decicated their version to joyless anti-smut TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse (right). Don't quote me on that though - I can't find anything to this effect on Google so it's entirely possible that it was all some bizarre dream I once had!

Buy music

Saturday, 8 November 2008

It's all in the timing

Was the hapless QVC presenter in the following clip stitched up by someone behind the scenes or was this a genuine coincidence? Whatever, it's bloomin' oolarious, pop chums.

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Television The Drug of the Nation mp3 (for 7 days)

The new series of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe starts on November 18th on BBC Four.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Sounds familiar

This is great: it's a two-minute clip of Liverpool supporter and You Tube sensation Darren Farley performing uncannily accurate impersonations of Rafa Benitez, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and Peter Crouch. In a corner shop. To paraphrase the BBC's Olympic cycling commentator (whose name escapes me for now): give that man a biscuit!

Saint Etienne - Who Do You Think You Are? mp3 (for 7 days)

Buy London Conversations: The Best of Saint Etienne here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Wikipedia Random Article

It's the internet sensation that's sweeping the nation. Except it's not, obviously. Good fun though. Simply go to the Wikipedia main page, hit 'Random article' and see what it throws up. Here's what I got on my latest effort...

Geoffrey Osei-Bonsu

Geoffrey Osei-Bonsu (Nana Osei) is a Ghanaian resident in The Netherlands. He founded and head the first Ghanaian TV station outside the shores of Ghana. (Sankofa Television 2001).

Geoffrey is the CEO and co-founder of Teletext Broadcast Services Ltd. (TBS Ltd). Teletext service is currently available 24/7 on TV3 Networks and State owned GTV.

He has organised concerts in Europe for award-winning African musicians such as Kojo Antwi, Meiway, Batman Samini, Daddy Lumba, Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy and many others.

Geoffrey also co-produced with numerous film producers from Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

Fascinating, no?


Well, sometimes it's quite interesting. Honest.

Incidentally, I wonder if there's a talent show on Ghanaian TV called Ghana Make You A Star? To filch a line from today's mp3: I don't fink so. Shame!

David Essex - Ghana Gonna Make You A Star mp3

Monday, 3 November 2008

Chumbawamba - Add Me

This is chuffing brilliant!

Add Me comes from Chumbawamba's latest album, The Boy Bands Have Won, which is available from their webshop.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Three of a Kind #62

Today's tracks all feature belting vocal performances from Scotland's answer to Tammy Wynette, Monica Queen. I'd been quite the fan of her erstwhile combo Thrum back in the day (ie 1994) and So Glad especially still sounds as fab as ever. I was a bit taken aback to learn that Thrum have only received a total of 1304 plays on Last FM when I checked earlier, though, as it would seem to imply that this band didn't make quite the sort of impact they should have. Ah well. Perhaps we can bolster that tally a bit ourselves, eh, readers?

You may or may not remember those songs, but you'll definitely know the Belle & Sebastian track, Lazy Line Painter Jane, already (probably). This remains my favourite song of theirs, chiefly because of Monica's vocals. (I was always a bit underwhelmed by the Murdoch fella's solo vocal efforts on their records, so the presence of Ms Queen on this one gives it some much needed oomph, for me.)

Anyway, I don't care what that Morrissey and his cohorts once spuriously claimed, the Queen quite obviously ain't dead, and here's the proof!

Thrum - So Glad mp3

Thrum - Here I Am mp3

Belle & Sebastian - Lazy Line Painter Jane mp3

Buy Monica Queen stuff