Saturday, 24 March 2012

ABBA: The Movie

I've featured more than my fair share of Swedish music on this blog over the years, but none will ever quite match the majesty of that generated by original Swedish superstars ABBA - of course it won't. Tonight I've been rewatching 1977's ABBA: The Movie in its entirety and even now I'm taken aback by quite how brilliant the songs are; even the "plain" old album tracks. Amazing to think that the band's chart career wasn't even at its halfway point by this stage either, so there were still shedloads of classic hits the guys hadn't yet got around to writing.

Actually, the film was probably shot at the perfect time in terms of capturing the band at their happiest and at the zenith of their powers, before an inevitable jadedness crept in and inter-band relationships became strained or fell apart completely. That's not to suggest for a second that the quality of the music lessened as the years went on, as the latter, more introspective songs were every bit as strong as the ones featured here.

But watching the movie you do get a real reminder - if any any were needed - of just how huge this band were at the time and how much they meant to people, as they tour round the major cities of Australia to general adulation and frenzied excitement, belting out the hits with real gusto; it really is a joy to behold. And blimey, could those girls hold a tune.

There's even a paper-thin plot tacked on, as a Tommy Vance-lookalike radio DJ is tasked by his station manager with securing an exclusive interview with the band and thus spends the whole film chasing them around mostly in vain - with vaguely hilarious consequences. Oh, and there's also a variety of roles for Lou Carpenter from Neighbours and lots of gratuitous shots of Agnetha's rear of the year. What more could you ask for?!

The movie is, somewhat improbably, available to stream in its entirety, completely gratis, online - so why not set aside 95 minutes and take a thoroughly enjoyable trip down memory lane.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Get Down Shep!

Big shout out to my homie Viv (@vividly on Twitter) for flagging this up: Pan's People and some adorable dogs get down to Gilbert O'Sullivan on the Christmas 1973 edition of Top of the Pops. Watch out for the camera-shy mutt in the middle taking the lyrics rather literally half a minute or so in!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Office Politics

Spike spotted a very funny moment during the following Channel 4 News report on Cameron's trip to the States to schmooze with Obama; if you skip to around 4 minutes & 40 seconds in you'll see the President being mobbed by lots of (presumably pre-approved) wellwishers at the side of a basketball court while Cameron is initially out of shot before the camera pans round to show him standing anonymously at the back of the crowd looking on pensively, much like David Brent eyeing a more popular figure hogging the limelight at a sales conference they're both guest speakers at. Basically, Obama's Cameron's Chris Finch. It really does make for marvellous viewing.

Action Biker - By Myself mp3

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Now you see them...

This is quite a sight to behold: Richborough Power Station on the Kent coast's cooling towers and chimney being demolished this morning. Probably best viewed with the sound muted if you have a low 'inane soundtrack' threshold.

Talking of inane soundtracks...

Five Star - All Fall Down mp3

(Come on, it's a great pop song!)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Let's get Fizzical

Let me tell you a little bit about Jay Aston...

Song of the Day

I wish this lot could be a bit more prolific, as there are few things quite as joyous as a good Suburban Kids With Biblical Names track. But that's modern bands for you: bone idle. The Beatles used to release about twelve albums a week in their day, you know. Such nice young men as well; always so well turned out. Well, that is until they got mixed up with the alcopops and the Benson & Hedges and started knocking about with that awful Yogi Bear fellow in India and Wales. All you need is love? All you need is a spot of National Service and a good kick up the backside more like. I blame the parents.

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Trumpets & Violins mp3

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


I'd been feeling rather pleased with myself the other day when picking up the best of Dinosaur Jr on CD for 99p in a charity shop. At least that's what I thought I'd bought. It wasn't till I played the CD for the first time earlier today that the full horror of what I'd done became apparent - the disc inside wasn't actually the best of Dinosaur Jr at all, but an album by the Offspring. The horror!

How Lowe can you go?

We were lucky enough to see Nick Lowe and band play live in his old stomping ground in Kent last week, as part of the world tour that's about to take him, and indeed them, to Australia and the USA. But if you're in the UK - and especially the south eastern part of it - there's still time to see Mr Lowe and co before they depart these shores, as they're embarking on a a mini-residence at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's fashionable West End for the next five nights (March 7-11). And tickets are, as they say, still available. (Click here for details.)

I can pretty much guarantee that you'll have a thoroughly enjoyable evening anyway - but then you really don't need me to tell you that. Here's one he didn't play the other night, but which still sounds absolutely brilliant almost three decades on: Half a Boy & Half a Man missed out on the UK top 40 when it was released, in 1984, too, peaking at #53. How's that for inexplicable?

Mildly Interesting Lowe Fact: Nick's 1979 hit Cruel To Be Kind (which he did play the other night) peaked at number 12 in the British, American, Australian AND Canadian singles charts. At least it did if you believe Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

"Your bill is rubbish!"

A revealing clip. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is taken to task by a doctor over the government's controversial Health & Social Care Bill (i.e. their plan to privatise the NHS by stealth), during a visit to the Royal Free hospital yesterday. Here's a useful hint for governments: if the name of your policy is invariably preceded by the word controversial, you've probably gone wrong somewhere.

Apparently BBC News managed to miss out on broadcasting this story - which just makes it doubly handy that literally millions of licence fee payers read this blog.


Friday, 2 March 2012

Fame, fame, fatal fame

I don't know about you, readers, but I'm getting increasingly cheesed off with celebrities not only getting their names into the titles of TV and radio programmes when interviewing someone talented or illustrious, but also having the cheek to put their own names first in the show's title e.g. Spoony Meets Sir Alex Ferguson (Five Live, the other week) and Jo Whiley Meets Annie Lennox (Sky Arts, next week). Do the programme directors or whoever really think that the audience give a toss who's asking the questions?

"Oh, well, I was going to watch that exclusive interview with Sir Paul McCartney in which he gives fascinating new insights into the band dynamics within The Beatles and on his real feelings about Yoko Ono, but since I found out Fearne Cotton's not simpering witlessly at him throughout I've completely gone off the idea. I think I'll watch Celebrity Juice instead."

Or maybe they do, I dunno. I just think we're careering down a very slippery slope here and if we're not careful we could realistically end up watching or listening to programmes like Tim Lovejoy In Conversation With Lionel Messi; Olly Murs and Nelson Mandela: A Meeting of Minds; and When Jordan Met Noam Chomsky. Balls to that.

While I'm on the subject of (for want of an original phrase), dumbed-down TV, enough of the panel shows already! Barely a day goes by without a new one appearing on the TV or wireless, and they all seem to feature the same small pool of guests - mostly stand-up comedians with the odd journalist or TV presenter thrown in for good measure. And the formats are getting flimsier and flimsier. Talk about ever decreasing circles. (Now there was a good show.)

Anyway, must dash. My favourite stand-up's just completed a gruelling three-part challenge involving an egg and spoon half-marathon through the villages of Sussex, a non-stop bike ride around the deck of a ferry between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, and swimming three laps of the Olympic pool doing only the doggie paddle. All in support of his new DVD Comic Relief too. So yeah, I've been so inspired by his actions that I've decided to try something new myself: I've booked tickets to see him at the o2 next month. Great guy, lot of work for charity. Doesn't like to talk about it though.

Freewheel - Starfriend mp3