Friday, 20 December 2013

Lowe and behold

In rather thrilling festive music news, Nick Lowe has released a Christmas album entitled Quality Street (and this splendid accompanying advent calendar)! So why is it that all I ever hear on Radio 2 is boyband guff, Michael sodding Buble and - if they're feeling especially edgy - Chris Rea? What sort of world is this? And why am I not listening to 6 Music like any sane human being?!

Buy Nick Lowe's Quality Street here.

Song of the Day

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Helen Love unleash free new Christmas single

Sampling M/A//R/R/S and Tom Jones? What fresh festive madness is this? Good but!

Download the single for free by going to Elefant Records and entering the following code when prompted: 0253ZYWPQ6Y4

Sunday, 15 December 2013

People - Persson!

Look who's back! Nina Persson! Animal Heart is the title of her new single - and it's genuinely fantastic. How I've missed those distinctive tones. Ace promo video too, all done in the one take; see her stoically soldier on despite trying and failing to get her arm in a sleeve right near the end. The show must go on!

Animal Heart will be followed by an album of the same name in January 2014 which, if the single is anything to go by, should be well worth forking out for. You can pre-order the album - and get a signed copy! - here.

Friday, 13 December 2013


Have you seen the five best-selling albums in the UK this week? The list really does make for the most marvellous reading:

1 One Direction - Midnight Memories

2 Robbie Williams - Swing Both Ways

3 Gary Barlow - Since I Saw You Last

4 Olly Murs - Right Place Right Time

5 Il Divo - A Musical Affair

A fine list by anyone's standards, I'm sure you'll agree. There really is something for everyone there; be you a fan of 1990s boy bands, 2010s boy bands, a Saturday night TV singing contest runner-up who could feasibly have been a boy band member, or simply photogenic boy band-esque operatic ensembles put together on a Saturday night TV singing contest - all possible tastes are catered for.

Perhaps what's most remarkable about the aforementioned best-selling artists is that they've all achieved success on their own terms with precious little fanfare or help from any of the major TV channels, radio stations or utterly charmless yet inexplicably popular and enduring musical svengalis. OK, so there was the whole X-Factor thing for a lot of them but really, who watches that? Hardly anyone.

OK, and I suppose there's also the wall-to-wall airplay our brave lads enjoy on the nation's most-listened-to radio station, Radio 2, which a churl might suggest leads to some sort of brainwashing effect on the music-buying masses who don't know any better because they're not offered anything better. But I would counter this by saying that Gary, Robbie and the boys' music is almost entirely ignored by the BBC World Service, Radio 3 and Five Live Sports Extra. That's a hell of a lot of potential airplay they're missing out on.

Although, actually, come to think of it, Il Divo probably do get played sometimes on Radio 3. Oh, and there was that hour-long Robbie Williams concert in primetime on BBC One last Friday night, and the Beeb's reluctantly-scaled-back plans for an across-the-networks Gary Barlow Day. (The idea of which seems a bit insulting. Surely there should be some sort of annual Bank Holiday in his honour by now. I mean come on.)

Anyway, despite the cold indifference with which our musical pioneers are treated by broadcasters, the music biz and showbiz in general, their talent has somehow prevailed and, thank the lord, they're not alone. Other brave visionaries are also still going strong, such as Boyzone - who this year celebrate their 20th anniversary. Two richly-deserved decades at the very top of the industry.

It's funny to think now that up until the emergence of The 'Zone, Take That and their ilk, boy bands were considered five-minute wonders who'd bother the charts with a few crappy cover versions of disco classics before swiftly slinking back to obscurity amid mass public indifference and ever-diminishing record sales. Thank god those days are gone!

Just imagine, if you can, a world without Boyzone. It's a chilling thought - kind of like that bit in It's A Wonderful Life where (spoiler alert) George Bailey's shown what a desperate place Bedford Falls would've been had he never been born. God, I don't want to live in a world where Mikey Graham never existed!

Think of all those great songs Boyzone had hits with: Love Me For A Reason, Working My Way Back To You, Father And Son, Baby Can I Hold You, When The Going Gets Tough, etc etc. I mean, where else are you going to hear great songs like those?! No, there's only one winner thanks to Mikey and chums' continued existence: humanity.

So yes, a bit long-winded, I know, but this whole post has really just been my way of saying thanks to all these great acts for continuing to contribute so much to the fine musical tradition of the UK. Sit back and relax The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Jam, The Smiths, Madness and Big Fun - your legacy is in safe hands.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Ladytron - He Took Her To A Movie

An old one but still sounding great. Also, I love what the person uploading the song to YouTube has done with this; playing it over clips from Vivre Sa Vie, a 1962 Jean-Luc Godard film apparently about a woman's slow descent into prostitution. Lordy. Anyway, although - or perhaps because of - taking the song's lyrics so literally, this footage works well in (presumably) the absence of any official promo vid.

Friday, 6 December 2013

I have too much time on my hands

Essex pensioner Queenie Ricketts has been forced to apologise after being overheard making a sick joke about the floods that were to ravage Britain's coastal towns overnight. Ricketts, 87, of Little Wittering was overheard in the local post office queue on Thursday morning merrily telling her friend Pearl Munns, 91, that she would be "In FLOODS of tears if this tidal surge ruins my hall carpet! FLOODS of tears! Get it?"

Fellow queuer Ivy Bunnett could scarcely believe what she'd just heard. "I could scarcely believe what I'd just heard," said Mrs Bunnett, 94. "I lived through two world wars and nineteen series of Noel's House Party and I never saw or heard of anything even a fraction as atrocious as this. I actually swallowed my false teeth when she said it."

Reginald Mossop, 96, was also in the post office queue when Ricketts made her disgusting comment. "I'm a little hard of hearing so I'm afraid I didn't hear exactly what Queenie said. I'm outraged at whatever it was though, obviously. Especially as her husband, Seymour, had perished in the great flood of 1953."

Jobbing builder Dave Plankton, who'd just discovered that you can't buy road tax in the Little Wittering branch of the post office and instead you have to go to the town centre branch in Stowold fifteen miles away, couldn't hide his contempt for Ricketts's sick outburst. "I told her that she was a callous bastard for joking about something that hadn't actually happened yet and that ultimately didn't affect this part of the world too badly, and that she should apologise immediately," he explained, before adding, whilst raising the back of his right hand, "Then I gave her one of these."

Staff members acted quickly to defuse the situation, as manager Briony Muesli, 47, explains. "As soon as the lady said what she did I jumped over the counter and performed a citizen's arrest. Some people will call me a hero but that's not really for me to say. It's just at times like that you only have a split second to react and, although she put up a struggle initially, my colleague Brian (Addams, 56), who also works as a special constable, intervened on my behalf and between us we managed to wrestle her to the ground. I'm just glad Brian had his taser with him."

On her release from hospital Ricketts was arrested and charged under the Public Order Act of 1986 and released on bail until 2017. She subsequently issued a grovelling apology but this came too late to save her job of forty-seven years as a volunteer at the local RNLI station. Her family have since disowned her.