Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Every home should have one, part the third

In which I continue to remember, or am reminded of, albums that I missed from the original post and yesterday's part deux. Here are some more essentials:

Am also starting to wonder whether I was right to allow "best of" compilations, but too late to change now...

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Every home should have one, part deux

Following on from yesterday's post, in which it quickly became apparent that distilling a shortlist of must-have albums is very difficult, here are some additions to yesterday's list of 30. Some are from the comments, some are from me. So basically this is every home should have one, part two:

Monday, 14 January 2019

Every home should have one

I've ummed and aahed for some time over the idea of a blog theme along the lines of "albums every home should own". But it's such a difficult concept to attempt, being so subjective and so hard to be exhaustive. Let's face it, I'm exhausted.

So I'm going to cheat, with an in-no-particular order collage of albums that I think every home should own. It's not exhaustive, of course - I'll think of others later that I should have included. Of course "best of" compilations are allowed (my gaff, my rules). I have limited myself to only one album per artist though...

... but what have I missed? What would you nominate for inclusion here? And have I got the right album for the artist?

Friday, 11 January 2019

Monday, 7 January 2019

None of that stuff

Billy Connolly was on TV a fair bit over Christmas, notably with his Made In Scotland documentary that you can catch on iPlayer here, should you have missed it. Much was made of a section towards the end of part two, in which Billy spoke candidly about getting old and his ongoing struggle with Parkinson's disease. Specifically, he said:

My life is slipping away and I can feel it and I should. I'm 75 and I'm a damn sight nearer the end than I am the beginning. But it doesn't frighten me - it's an adventure and it's quite interesting to see myself slipping away, as bits slip off and leave me, talents leave and attributes leave. I don't have the balance I used to have. I don't have the energy I used to have. I can't hear the way I used to hear. I can't see as good as I used to. I can't remember the way I used to remember. They all came one at at time. Until they just slipped away. Thank you! It's like somebody's in charge of you and they're saying, "Right, I added all these bits when you were a youth. Now it's time to subtract." I can't work my left hand on the banjo. It's as if I'm being prepared for something, some other adventure, which is over the hill. I've got all this stuff to lose first, and then I'll be at the shadowy side of the hill doing the next episode in the spirit world.

Now I'm not sure I subscribe to Billy's idea of the spirit world, but I quite like his approach to this inevitability - you spend a life gaining skills and attributes, and then a death losing them. It seems pragmatic and real to me, though whether I'll feel the same when I'm old and failing, time will tell, I'm sure.

Billy went on to talk about feeling content with his life, and that he had made a mark - "At least when I was creating, I was creating well!" - and he seemed for all the world to be a man at peace with himself, his condition, and what the future might have in store for him. But it wasn't the most uplifting slice of New Year telly, so much so that Pamela Stephenson had to tweet a video message from Billy the next day in which he apologised for depressing fans and reassured us all that he was "not dying, not dead, not slipping away". And he was playing the banjo in the clip pretty well too.

Of course the Beeb hadn't helped matters by scheduling the film What We Did On Our Holiday straight after part two of the documentary. It's a pretty good film (of two halves - first half, very good, second half, not so much), written by Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton - yes, the creative team behind Outnumbered. If you haven't seen it, the film pretty much imagines what it would be like if the parents in Outnumbered were getting divorced, except rather than do that to beloved sitcom characters, Guy and Andy created a new family, and cast David Tennant and Rosamund Pike in the Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner roles. The humour is very similar, and the authentic, often ad-libbed dialogue of the three children that so characterised Outnumbered is all present and correct. Hooray! But I digress. In the film, Connolly plays a septuagenarian with terminal cancer, which was particularly poignant straight after the documentary. I won't say too much more, for fear of spoilers, but there's a scene in the middle of the film where Billy's character, Gordie, has taken his grandchildren to the beach, and is talking to the eldest child, Lottie - she is upset by her parent's imminent separation. Here's the scene.

Yes, Billy is essentially playing a version of himself - yet more pathos. But here's the point (yes, I finally got there) - those lines about what matters and, more specifically, what doesn't really struck a chord with me the first time I saw this film, a few years back, so much so that I sought out the script (it's available in its entirety on the BBC's Writers' Room website). Here are the lines in question:

Mum and Dad lie so much, I just don’t trust them anymore. They make me so angry.

Well I used to feel that about my lot too. Until I suddenly realised there was no point being angry with people I loved for being what they are. So what if your Dad's a complete and utter shambles... or Uncle Gavin is a bit of a tight-arse... all that social climbing... he can't help himself... any more than his wife can help being scared of her own shadow... or your Mum can help being a bit mouthy... the truth is... every human being on this planet is ridiculous in their own way, so we shouldn’t judge and we shouldn't fight because in the end... in the end, none of it matters... none of that stuff

There have been times in my life when I've struggled with things, with people, with the actions or inactions of people I love. There have been times, frankly, when I've been so weighed down by the black dog that, if I'd gone to see a GP and they'd sat me through a HADS test, well, they conceivably would have been concerned by the results. But I didn't, and I'm still here, still kicking. And stupid as it may sound, some lines from an Outnumbered-esque comedy are part of the reason - they really helped me see things differently. Yes, they're truisms, but I think I needed them spelling out. They certainly helped me to feel, if not happy, then at least happier. So thank you, Guy, Andy and Billy. And a similar posthumous thank you to John Lennon, whose Watching The Wheels has helped me in a similar way too.

You still here? Stop dicking around, get over to iPlayer and watch Made In Scotland.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Minding the gaps

I haven't written a Clandestine Classic for a long time. The obvious reason for this is that it inevitably gets harder to keep coming up with tracks that I think are great but are obscure enough for a proportion of readers to be unfamiliar with them. I haven't entirely given up on this theme, of course, but until my mojo returns it's unlikely we'll be seeing any new entries in the list just yet.

Lucky for us all then (okay, mainly me) that, somewhat unbelievably, this humble blog has a YouTube channel, which means I've been able to curate all the Clandestine Classics into a playlist, for your (and my) sequential listening pleasure. If nothing else, it proves a point for an old friend who once said I had parochial music tastes, but anyway... For the most part, these are exactly the song versions I blogged about as Classics, although I've replaced live performances with studio recordings, so that the playlist as a whole runs more evenly. You're welcome, but caveat emptor, it's going to take you about three hours to listen to the whole thing...

And whilst we're on the subject of videos, back in September I speculated which of the clips on the aforementioned channel would be first to 500 views. At the time, it looked like being a close-run thing. In the end, Sleeper walked it with this live rendition of Sale Of The Century, which has since zoomed ahead and now has over 2,000 views. Another live Sleeper video, their mash-up of Atomic and Love Will Tear Us Apart, has come from nowhere to sit in second place. Poor Steven Patrick languishes in third, with a live and timpani-strewn How Soon Is Now?