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

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Friday, 17 October 2014

Got The Balance Right

Here's a novelty - a catchy 80s song I wasn't familiar with until recently. From 1981, Breaking Away was the only hit for New York rockers Balance, when it reached the giddy heights of #22 on the Billboard "Hot" 100. The song obviously inspired Stock, Aitken and Waterman when they shamelessly lifted part of the melody for Bananarama's I Want You Back six years later. This is better, but.

Mildly Interesting Pop Fact: Balance were fronted by one Peppy Castro. If that's not the best name in rock, it's got to be in the top three.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Fox, The Hunter And Hello Saferide

Can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I was to discover that there's a brand new Hello Saferide album - and it's out now! The Fox, The Hunter And Hello Saferide is Annika Norlin's first new release for six years under the Hello Saferide banner - an awful long time in anyone's book - but thank goodness the wait is finally over. I wasn't even sure if Annika was still interested in making music, to be honest, but thank goodness she is, as she's one of the finest lyricists around and few have the ear for a tune that she possesses.

The standout track for me on first listen is The Crawler, which chronicles the joys and sorrows of using a community swimming pool - the titular character being a selfish git who spoils the harmony and orderliness of the twenty regular swimmers by jumping in the middle lane, flailing his arms about - literally and metaphorically making waves - and generally ruining the experience for everyone else. In the end his exasperated co-swimmers encircle him, hold his face under the water and "wait for the waves to slow down". How could you not love a song like this?

Hello Saferide - The Crawler

It took a little while to find anywhere that was selling the album, but in the end iTunes came up trumps and I downloaded it from there. Best £7.99 I've spent all month.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Good Day For Telling Lies

This gem should definitely have been included on yesterday's Swedish playlist. Don't know what I was thinking leaving it out!

PETS - A GOOD DAY FOR TELLING LIES from Nineteen Eighty Records on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Here's a new playlist of some - all right, most - of my favourite Swedish songs from seven years of this blog. I've put together similar ones on Spotify in the past but, taking a leaf out of Xanthi's book, I've now switched to 8 tracks. Whereas with Spotify you're limited slightly by the fact that i) you can only use tracks that are available in Spotify's own library, and ii) not everyone has a Spotify account - with 8 tracks you can include any track on your computer in your playlist. Infinitely preferable.

Anyway, boring waffle over. Hope you like the mix. I can't say it's a definitive list of favourites as I forgot to include any Jens Lekman, for starters; or the 'Puck' version of Carnival by the Cardigans; or any of The Sweptaways' Christmas singles. But it's close!

1 Will You Love Me In The Morning? - Acid House Kings featuring Magnus Carlson

2 Rise & Shine - The Cardigans

3 Pamplona - Pelle Carlberg

4 Trumpets & Violins - Suburban Kids With Biblical Names

5 Cry No More Tears - Sweet Chariots

6 Make A Right At Jordfallsmotet - Agent Simple

7 Segerns Sötma - Lustans Lakejer

8 On The Radio - The Concretes

9 Arjeplog - Hello Saferide

10 Once I Was A Serene Teenage Child - Frida Hyvönen

11 Summer Of Speed - Andreas Mattsson

12 Starfriend - Freewheel

13 Histrionics - Popsicle

14 Never Killed Anyone - The Wannadies

15 My Cousin The Psychopath - Waterbug

16 At School - Brainpool

17 This Is The Year - Marit Bergman

18 Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward - The Sweptaways

19 Hitten - Those Dancing Days

20 London - Frida Hyvönen

21 Whims and Fancies - Kissing Mirrors

22 Cup Noodle Song - Pineforest Crunch

23 All I Want Is What I Had - Sweet Chariots

24 I Was Definitely Made For These Times - Hello Saferide

25 Rent A Wreck - Suburban Kids With Biblical Names

26 And I Found This Boy - Maia Hirasawa

27 Shiver Gone - Popundret

28 Young & Hairy - Elias & The Wizzkids

29 Somebody Has To Be Me - Mutts

30 Tee Vee Star - Action Biker

31 Teenager - The Drowners

32 Missing You - Club 8

33 Ten - Popsicle

34 If You Were Here - Kent

35 It Only Takes A Flashlight To Create A Monster - The Bear Quartet

36 One Nation Under A Gloom - Swissair

37 Reflected - Ronderlin

38 Maneater - Nixon and Action Biker

39 Water - Eggstone

40 Love Is Dead - The Wannadies

Monday, 13 October 2014

Hanging Around

Tin Tin Duffy, the drummer from Elastica and the cheesy one from Blur got together in the summer of '96 under the Me Me Me moniker to record this minor gem in the Britpop canon. It made number 19 in the UK pop 40 but probably deserved better. Fun/irksome (delete as applicable) vid, too. I like it.

Sunday, 12 October 2014