Friday, 30 January 2009

Search Us V

It's nigh-on four months since we last had one of these, so I reckon it's high time for another round-up of unwittingly funny web searches that've ended up finding their way here (together with some of my helpful responses).

slogans for pie selling (What are we selling? Pies! When are we selling them? Now!)

can I get the song kinky boots by honor blackman on a compilation CD? (I don't know, can you?)

guess the song title (Er... How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Camouflage? Rivers Of Babylon? Just Say No?)

car accident on pie 25th jan (Oh dear. I hope no one was crust to death or anything)

party like it's fucking 1985 (alright! If I fucking must!)

george cole and dennis waterman recorded a song what are we gonna get for er indoors, where can I find this? (I dunno. Have you tried down the back of the settee?)

dreams snake swallowing an apple pie (Ahh, the old snake-swallowing-an-apple-pie dream. A common one, this. It means you're going to die. Soon)

there's no.... in place, there's no on your face (That's nice, dear)

is too much apple pie bad for you (Not at all. It's like crack in that respect)

where did apple pie come from? (The apple pie fairy)

my first earthquake (The must-have toy for 2009. Available from Hamleys and all good seismologists)

the wedding present too much cherry pie (*sigh* Did they learn nothing from the apple pie incident?)

rubbish boyfreind (True, true. But at least I can spell)

katie derham new hair october 2008 (Just the one?)

what part of the us does apple pie come from? (Let's not go there)

what does wincey willis and john kettley have in common (They iz both wel old innit)

wincey willis email address (

how much does susie dent get paid (Not enough)

how much apple pies (Too much apple pies!)

manager of newcastle bill chumbawamba (Must've been Joe Kinnear's maiden name)

hot dogs, apple pie, chevrolet, maestro (Interesting. I would have said maestro, hot dogs, chevrolet, apple pie myself.)

heaven is a half pie song if I doggies work in whate (Wise words, mate)

i'm getting round (Well, if you will follow that All Doughnuts, All The Time diet...)

eating too much apple (makes your nipples fall off)

when will we get a cover for now that's what I call music 72 (Next Thursday week, just after lunch)

bumptious tosser (It's a fair cop)

linn githmark nude (Yeah, right, like you're ever going to find any nude stars here. Oh)

Garageland - Nude Star mp3

Monday, 26 January 2009

Hair today

Watching wacky magician Paul Zenon (right) sitting in Dictionary Corner on Countdown today, it struck me that an awful lot of men in his game have ridiculous facial hair. I've no idea why this should be the case though.

I mean, it's not as if people in other occupations have unique identifying features or quirks of style of their own, that set them apart from people outside their area of expertise.

For example, you don't see loads of school dinner ladies walking about sporting bright green mohicans, or scores of dustmen doing their rounds favouring Su Pollard-style giant red specs and furry dice earrings.*

And you'd never get a multitude of barristers in the courtrooms of Britain and the Commonwealth going about their business dressed in ridiculous horsehair wigs that make them look more like members of the French nobility from hundreds of years ago than actual high profile members of the modern-day legal profession, would you?

Oh, wait.

But anyway, the question still remains: why do illusionists favour stupid tiny beards and pointy sideburns that practically meet in the middle? It can't merely be because they're a bunch of pretentious wazzocks who spend far too much time admiring themselves in the mirror and trying to perfect their oh-look-at-me-aren't-I-all-mysterious-and-slightly-otherworldly look, can it?

Oh, wait. Again.

Talking of TV personalities with annoying facial hair...

I, Ludicrous - Stuck In A Lift With Noel Edmonds mp3 (for 7 days)

*I can't help thinking the world would be a slightly better place if you did though.

Buy I Ludicrous's 20 Years In Show Business here. (It's brilliant, by the way; and it's only £4.99 for the 34-track double CD.)

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Three of a Kind #74

I first heard Frente! when they played a live session on Mark Radcliffe's late night Radio 1 show in about 1994. "Blimey, these are a bit good!" I thought to myself, not unreasonably. In fact, I was so impressed with this antipodean combo that I went on to collect pretty much everything they ever released, obscure self-funded early Australian EPs and all. (Most unusual for me - I'm usually pretty slack when it comes to the whole 'completist' thing.)

Frente! had been formed in 1991 by Angie Hart (vocals) and Simon Austin (guitar and occasional co-vocals), after the pair met in a bar in Melbourne where Simon was working. They were to remain the two core members throughout the band's lifespan, which would be most of the nineties (although they did reform briefly to release the Try To Think Less EP in 2005).

Despite releasing numerous EPs and singles, Frente! only ever got round to recording two actual long players: 1992's Marvin The Album and '96's Shape. Marvin is the more instantly accessible of the two, and contained the big hit singles (Accidently Kelly Street, Ordinary Angels and - on the international release at least - their cover of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle), but over the years I've found Shape to be the more durable of the two. Like an overzealous blood donor, it just keeps on giving. (Marvin still packs a fair old punch too though, in fairness.)

It seems the band had become a bit ashamed of their pop past by the time they were about to record Shape - so much so that the exclamation mark at the end of their name suddenly disappeared - and had settled upon a more mature sound. Now, many's the time a once-great pop band have lost the plot when attempting such a change of direction but in Frente's case I think it actually made them even better. This is a bit of a vexed question amongst fans of the band, though, and there's a pretty even split among people as to which Frente album is actually the best. To be fair, Shape didn't sell nearly as well as Marvin had, and its disappointing sales pretty much sounded the death knell for the band (apart from that later mini-revival). Still, though, I like it a lot!

Here are three songs from different stages of the band's evolution. I'll leave you to work out for yourselves which came when.

Frente! - Testimony mp3

Frente - The Destroyer (Acousdelic version) mp3

Frente! - Face Like A Spider mp3

(mp3s available for 7 of your earth days)

Frente CDs are currently going for a song at eBay

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Water load of rubbish

It's not often I wish I had one of those new-fangled mobile phones that also take photos, but yesterday was one such occasion. The reason: an especially risible poster advert outside the Pumpkin Cafe at Colchester North station, which I would have loved to've captured for posterity, and which bore the following legend:

FREE WATER whenever you purchase a sandwich and crisps

Free water - imagine that! It's not even free either, really, is it? I mean, if you went in there and just asked for the free water, telling them you weren't really all that hungry and didn't much fancy forking out for an overpriced cheese sarny and packet of Walkers ready salted anyway, the person behind the counter would undoubtedly tell you to buzz off (or words to that effect). Either that or stand there looking gormless while conspicuously failing to comprehend the message you were trying to convey to them. *sigh*

The fantastic special offers don't end with the "free" water, by the way; although rumours that the railway station food franchise are also planning to give away free air with every blueberry muffin and 500ml bottle of Fanta are, as yet, unconfirmed. (Their aim to provide a surly service free of charge with, well, everything remains an ongoing project, mind you.)

Eggstone - Water mp3

Which fatuous advertising campaigns or slogans make you despair at the modern world?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Three of a Kind #73

We're compilation crazy on the blog at the moment; and we're off to Sweden today for three songs from the 1994 A West Side Fabrication collection We're All Part Of A Family.

Long-term readers (let's pretend we've got any for a second) may have noticed my predilection for Swedish music; well, it was buying a cheap bunch of these A West Side Fabrication compilations many moons ago that helped kick-start my love of music from this particular part of Scandinavia.

Pop, dance, indie, folk, heavy rock - these albums had a bit of everything really, being, as they were, drawn from the eclectic roster of Swedish artists that would be signed to the label at any given time. The albums could consequently be a bit patchy at times but when they were good they were very good indeed.

I'll try and feature more songs from some of these collections in the future, anyway, but in the meantime today's tracks come courtesy of The Drowners and Popundret (both of whom I've written about here in the dim and distant), and Pleasurehouse, whose Candyfloss Summer is the best song the Boo Radleys never wrote (but probably should have). Great tunes all.

Pleasurehouse - Candyfloss Summer mp3

Popundret - I Say No mp3

The Drowners - Destroyer mp3

Mildly Interesting Pop Blog Fact: There are far too many labels on this post! Aargh!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Three of a Kind #72

Quite frankly I never expected this year to bring me the opportunity to dance in the aisles while three soul legends belt out northern soul stompers in front of my very eyes, but I never claimed to be Mystic Meg. On Friday night, Kippers and me found ourselves with an uncontrollable urge to dance. We were at the first gig of the 2009 This Is Soul tour starring Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band (who provided support for all the artists) plus special guests Jimmy James and P.P. Arnold; and what a gig it was!

Jimmy 'Jim' James Pat Pat Arnold Wooo-ooh Geno!

First up was Jimmy James who proceeded to let rip with a fantastic set of some of his most famous numbers including I'll Go Where Your Music Takes Me, Now Is The Time and (the Neil Diamond-penned) Red, Red Wine - first time I haven't thought of that song as Red Red Whine. He really got things off to a fantastic start and I think his voice has even improved with age.

My first thought upon seeing P.P. Arnold come on stage was, "My goodness! She's aged really well!" as she only looked about 25. As it turned out, that wasn't actually P.P., but one of her backing singers, who is also her niece (the other backing singer was her nephew). P.P. herself followed immediately afterwards and proved to be remarkably well preserved anyway. She then launched into some of her own greatest hits including Angel Of The Morning, First Cut Is The Deepest and (If You Think You're) Groovy. The latter was accompanied by some hilarious hand choreography from the backing singers. Picture someone flanked by two horses simultaneously fondling them with jazz hands whilst on high seas and you'll be in the right area! Unintentional comedy dancing aside, this was another dazzling and highly polished performance from another legend of the genre.

Last and definitely not least was the man himself. Mr Washington bounded onstage to the opening bars of the famous Dexys Midnight Runners tribute. As Come On Eileen faded away, he launched straight into his high-energy, crowd-involving patter. Or did he just start with a song? I don't know - I wasn't taking notes. What do you want - blood?!! What I do know after seeing him for the first time is that not only is he rightly revered as a musical great and a consummate live performer, he's a bloody funny bugger as well. His comic timing is better than that of many comedians I've seen and I missed half of what he said because I was laughing so much.
It's not often I've seen a Tunbridge Wells audience dancing in the aisles, but that's exactly what happened as Geno's set drew to a close and JJ and PP joined him for a couple of songs in the encore. During this we learnt that PP Arnold's name is actually Pat, and that watching three northern soul luminaries sharing a stage is a rare privilege. The tour continues throughout the UK until the end of February. Do try to catch them if you can. (Go to Geno Washington's website for a full list of dates.)

Here, in order of appearance, are Jimmy James, P.P. Arnold and Geno Washington - three of a kind.

Jimmy James & the Vagabonds - Hey Girl mp3 (available for 7 days)

PP Arnold - Everything's Gonna Be Alright mp3 (available for 7 days)

Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band - Michael (The Lover) mp3 (available for 7 days)

Artist websites
Geno Washington | P.P. Arnold | Jimmy James video on Youtube

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Now that's what I call a re-release

In an era when classic albums (and plenty that weren't much cop to begin with, to be honest) are being re-issued left, right and centre, the humble compilation album has, it seems to me, had a bit of a raw deal. But no more! Yes, 80s pop fans everywhere will be rejoicing at the news that EMI have this week re-released the original volume in the Now That's What I Call Music series, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original release. So, for the first time ever, Now 1 is available in the new-fangled compact disc format. Fancy!

For those of you who weren't weaned on these albums, the Now That's What I Call Music series traditionally provides a snapshot of what the UK pop charts look like in the month or two before any given Now release. Released at the fag end of 1983, Volume 1 had an especially strong track listing, bearing in mind that it had the pick of the whole of the preceeding year's chart output to choose from (rather than, as with later albums, just the last few months' worth). Here's how the runners and riders lined up:

Side 1
1. Phil Collins - You Can't Hurry Love
2. Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know
3. UB40 - Red Red Wine
4. Limahl - Only For Love
5. Heaven 17 - Temptation
6. K.C. & The Sunshine Band - Give It Up
7. Malcolm McClaren - Double Dutch
8. Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Side 2
9. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
10. Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance
11. Kajagoogoo - Too Shy
12. Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow
13. Men At Work - Down Under
14. Rock Steady Crew - Hey You (Rock Steady Crew)
15. Rod Stewart - Baby Jane
16. Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat

Side 3
1. New Edition - Candy Girl
2. Kajagoogoo - Big Apple
3. Tina Turner - Let's Stay Together
4. Human League - Fascination
5. Howard Jones - New Song
6. UB40 - Please Don't Make Me Cry
7. Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack - Tonight I Celebrate My Love

Side 4
8. Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know
9. Will Powers - Kissing With Confidence
10. Genesis - That's All
11. The Cure - The Love Cats
12. Simple Minds - Waterfront
13. Madness - The Sun And The Rain
14. Culture Club - Victims

And now all this can be yours - yours! - on the fancy two-disc re-release. I'll certainly be buying myself a copy anyway - at the time the album came out originally my pocket money just wouldn't stretch to it, and I had to wait until Now 2 before I was finally able to get my grubby little mitts on one of these albums, when I received it as a birthday pressie. (First album I ever owned, that was, and I played it to death!)

Anyway, no mp3s today, but here're some of my favourite Now 1-related vids.

Malcolm McClaren - Double Dutch

Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance

The Rock Steady Crew - Hey You (The Rock Steady Crew)

Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know

Buy the album

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Three of a Kind #71

Three songs to celebrate the dawn of a new era on the venerable Channel 4 words and numbers quiz Countdown today, as the show has a brand new presenting team. Genial host Jeff Stelling replaces Des O'Connor in the hotseat, while twenty-two-year-old Oxford maths graduate Rachel Riley takes over from Carol Vorderman on the letters & numbers board. (The indispensable and ineffably great Susie Dent's still present in Dictionary Corner, though.)

Football fans in the UK - or at least those with access to Sky Sports News - will already know all about the legend that is Jeff Stelling; his peerless anchoring of the weekly six-hour marathon that is Soccer Saturday, his fondness for a terrible pun, devotion to Hartlepool United FC and general all-round likeability. And, reassuringly, he's proving just as adept a host on Countdown. Two days in and it's as if he's been presenting it all his life. 'Effortless' is the word. The best sports presenter bar none and already the best presenter Countdown have ever had. What a guy.

Special mention too for new girl Rachel. She's understandably looked a bit nervous in her first two appearance on the show, making a couple of mistakes on the numbers game, but I think she'll be fine. She seems like a really nice girl and it's a relief to finally have someone other than the overpaid, slightly-too-pleased-with-herself Carol Vorderman doing the sums. Apparently there's a photo somewhere of Rachel as a six-year-old cutting a cake decorated in a Countdown style that she'd received for her birthday, so she's obviously steeped in the programme. (The fact that she's from Southend has to count in her favour too.)

Anyway, you'll doubtless be devastated to hear that I couldn't find Bucks Fizz's New Beginning anywhere so I'm afraid you'll just have to settle for these songs instead to commemorate the changing of the Countdown guard!

Action Biker - TV Star mp3

Frente! - Oh Brilliance mp3

Cameo - Word Up mp3

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Dictionary corner

kingmaker (noun)

1. Warwick: English statesman; during the War of the Roses he fought first for the house of York and secured the throne for Edward IV (Anything to distract him from the hammy onscreen antics of Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny Devito).

2. an important person who can bring leaders to power through the exercise of political influence; "the Earl of Warwick was the first kingmaker".

3. Indie rock band*, formed in Kingston Upon Hull in the year of our lord 1990, featuring a lead singer called Loz and a couple of other blokes. Here's my favourite song of theirs, Really Scrape The Sky, which comes from the pithily-titled Idiots At The Wheel EP.

Kingmaker - Really Scrape The Sky mp3

*If only their sound had been more rootsy I could have made use of that Folk In Hull headline I've been storing up for weeks. Ah well.

Buy Kingmaker stuff

Friday, 9 January 2009

ABBA some Blancmange

A fantastic song and video today, courtesy of early-eighties keyboard botherers Blancmange. Their version of The Day Before You Came is undoubtedly my favourite ABBA cover (yes, better even than the ABBA medley by Steps, B*Witched, Cleopatra and Billie. Imagine that), and the wistful charm of the video complements the song beautifully. Look out for a cameo from Agnetha Faltskog herself too.

Blancmange - The Day Before You Came mp3

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: The author in the line "The latest one by Barbara Cartland or something in that style" had been Marilyn French in the ABBA original, but the Blancmange lads obviously had a soft spot for the works of the pink-clad, romantic novel-spouting old Dame! (There's no accounting for taste!)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A Camping it up

Blimey, I never saw this one coming. After an eight-year hiatus, A Camp, side project of Cardigans singer Nina Persson and Atomic Swing frontman Niclas Frisk, are back. The new album, Colonia, will be released in Scandinavia on January 28th, England and continental Europe on February 2nd, and North America on April 28th. (They've plumped for a "coldest goes first" policy.)

Ahead of that here's the video for new single Stronger Than Jesus (which can also be found on the latest Word Of Mouth CD with this month's Word magazine).

On a similarly Swedish note, many congratulations to Hello Saferide's Annika Norlin, who's just won a prestigious Swedish Grammis award for Best Lyrics. Well done that woman!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Unlikely Lads

A football fan for as long as I can remember, I grew up supporting Arsenal and Southend United. Arsenal because my mate Timmy Hardwicke supported them, his dad would take us to home games occasionally and, crucially, because they used to reach the Cup final every year; and Southend because they were my local club and my dad used to take me to their home games, which usually fell on Friday evenings. (Even now Friday feels more like football time to me than the traditional Saturday afternoon, despite the fact that it was only us and Tranmere who used to play our home games on that particular weeknight.)

Anyway, a lot of my strongest childhood memories are associated with going to Southend's ground, Roots Hall:

At my first game, aged 7, thinking that the vendor carrying round a tray of snacks at half time was giving them away, and helping myself to a bag of his crisps - or at least trying to before dad explained that they actually cost money and I had to put them back. So naive!

Being a ballboy, along with the rest of my junior team, Larches FC, for a home game in late 1982 against Bristol Rovers, who included in their ranks Mick Channon, an aging ex-England international. As we formed a guard of honour for the players as they took to the pitch, Channon pinched the cheek of one of my teammates as he ran through, to which some waggish club official joked to the kid that "I bet you won't wash that for a week now!". No one laughed.

Seeing then Division 3 (in old money) Southend holding the mighty Liverpool to a goalless draw in the 3rd Round of the F.A. Cup in front of 30,000 fans (about 25,000 more than we were used to getting for league games), before racing back to the car in a bid to get home in time for the highlights on Sportsnight. This was back in the pre-Sky & Setanta days when your local, lower-division team being on the telly was still something of a novelty.

At the risk of plagiarising Arthur Fonzarelli, happy days!

Alas, my enthusiasm for the Shrimpers waned when we moved away from the area in 1983 and didn't renew our season tickets, and I've not actually been back to Roots Hall since about 1992 or 93. So definitely a lapsed fan.

But all the old memories came flooding back last Saturday when the team I used to watch as a kid (who, incidentally, are back in the same division they were way back then, albeit it's now called League 1 rather than Division 3 - don't you just love pointless rebranding?) somehow managed to come away from Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw against the mighty Chelsea, once again in the third round of the F.A. Cup, despite the fact that Chelsea are owned by a Russian billionaire and have a squad worth about a squillion times more than ours. Amazing.

As if all this weren't exciting enough, the replay will be shown live on ITV next Wednesday, at 8.00pm. So, for possibly the first and last time ever - the club are due to relocate to a brand new stadium in a couple of years time - a Southend United game from Roots Hall will be screened live on network TV at primetime - against the team who were the width of a post away from becoming Champions of Europe last year. It's this sort of thing that makes the F.A. Cup so utterly bloody fantastic - even if Chelsea do, as they probably will, go on to win the replay at a canter.

Anyway, here's a song that, although actually being about a slum landlord, is curiously appropriate for today's post as it contains the line From Lands End to Southend and Chelsea (just forget the Lands End bit). Also, the titular Sheriff hails from Leigh On Sea, which is just down the road from Southend. A mere coincidence? I think not!

Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - Sheriff Fatman mp3

Monday, 5 January 2009

The sound of the Suburbans

Well, the long wait's almost over. The new Suburban Kids With Biblical Names EP, #4, is due for release on 4th February (to be followed by a full-length album later in the year)! That's the artwork from #4 in the pic above (sorry, stating the obvious a bit there), which Johan posted on SKWBN's new blog the other day.

Their blog is also the place to go to listen to one of the brand new tracks from the EP, the Swedish-language Studenter på flak, which is, apparently, "All about Stockholm's beauty and downsides". Well fancy! While you're there you can also stream another newish track from the lads, God Save Roger Nichols, which was their contribution to last autumn's OIB 7".

#4 will be available through Labrador.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Three of a Kind #70

Norway's Kings of Convenience aren't exactly the most prolific of duos, only releasing what, two albums' worth of your actual new material in the past eight years. But they really do make some lovely music when the mood takes them (and when Erlend's not off concentrating on his other projects).

For me they were never better than on 2000's magnificent Playing Live In A Room EP, recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, from which these three acoustic gems are taken.

Kings of Convenience - Toxic Girl mp3

Kings of Convenience - Singing Softly To Me mp3

Kings of Convenience - Parr-à-pluie mp3

Buy Kings of Convenience stuff

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Three of a Kind #69

I dunno, you doze off for five minutes and all of a sudden it's 2009. What better way to start the new year, though, than with some tracks from the estimable 1978 compilation album Don't Walk - Boogie, which promises 20 Great Disco Sounds. And, like a milkman or midwife paid strictly on a commission basis, it certainly delivers.

That track listing in full:

Side One

A Taste Of Honey - Boogie Oogie Oogie
Tavares - More Than A Woman
Sheila B. Devotion - Singin' In The Rain
Macho - I'm A Man
Evolution - Summer In The City
Patsy Gallant - From New York To L.A.
Gonzalez - Just Let It Lay
Tavares - Whodunit
Gloria Jones - Bring On The Love (Why Can't We Be Friends Again)
Clout - Substitute

Side Two

La Belle Epoque - Black Is Black
Marshall Hain - Dancing In The City
Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
Tavares - Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
Matumbi - Empire Road
Jesse Green - Nice And Slow
Sun - Sun Is Here
T. Rex - I Love To Boogie
John Forde - Stardance
Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway

Putting aside the decidedly undisco-ish credentials of the likes of Matumbi, T Rex and The Tom Robinson Band, this is a cracking album and, like pretty much all compilation LPs released when the songs would still have been contemporary, is about a squillion times better than any disco compilation CD you'd find in the shops in 2008 2009, which tend to concentrate on the same, overplayed best sellers time and time again.

Anyway, it's proved devilishly difficult, as you might imagine, to whittle Don't Walk - Boogie down to just three tracks for today's post. But I've managed it, somehow. God my life's hard sometimes!

Sheila B. Devotion - Singin' In The Rain mp3

Patsy Gallant - From New York To L.A. mp3

La Belle Epoque - Black Is Black mp3