Saturday, 30 June 2018

Amusecast 8 - something for everyone no-one

You know how it is, you wait months for one of these and then two come along in a matter of weeks... and now with added cross-fading (with some occasions more successful than others).

Anyway, you know the drill - one side of a C90 (ish), and another Moz substitute. Oh, and some ICA-ready Kylie, given how much love there was for her at the start of the month. Oh, and a cover of a much-loved TV theme, for Rol.

Tracklisting

  1. Kylie Minogue - Slow (Chemical Brothers remix)
  2. Mansun - Take It Easy, Chicken
  3. The James Taylor Quartet - Theme from Starsky and Hutch
  4. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home
  5. Echobelly - Dark Therapy (specially recorded new version)
  6. Codeine Velvet Club - I Am The Resurrection
  7. The Stone Roses - Standing Here
  8. Teenage Fanclub - Everything Flows
  9. Gene - Nice (Let Me Rest demo)

Rather have 'em as a download? Here you go.

All Amusecast posts

Thursday, 28 June 2018

About screen time

One Sunday, when I was about 13 or 14, I spent five and a half hours playing a single game of this, on the way to my personal high score of over 9 million.

Five and a half hours. I seem to recall my Sunday lunch getting cold because, you know, high scores... and my parents understood (on that occasion, at least). There were no warnings about too much screen time in the 80s, beyond a half-hearted "you'll get square eyes"...

Monday, 25 June 2018

About celebrity

For reasons that I haven't been able to identify, but possibly to compete with the boxset-heaviness of commercial streaming services, the Beeb have currently loaded up all thirteen instalments of Ricky Gervais's "how's he going to follow The Office" series Extras. And lucky us, I say. For whilst Ricky will probably never fully escape the long shadows cast by David Brent and Wernham-Hogg, Extras is, for my money, a better piece of work. Love him or loathe him (he is a bit of a Marmite figure), I don't think Gervais has ever written anything better, more insightful, more satirical, more honest, than this scene: Andy Millman's Big Brother soliloquy on the nature of modern celebrity, from the final episode, 2007's feature-length Christmas special.

Friday, 22 June 2018

About CDs

I was genuinely excited when CDs were introduced. Technology and music, two things I have always been passionate about, coming together. What was not to like?

I wasn't one of the vinyl purists who bemoaned the lack of surface noise, the compression, the benefits of analogue. By contrast, as someone whose music collection included an unhealthy amount of cassette tape, I wasn't just ready for the new format, I was desperate for it.

Before I bought the hi-fi featured yesterday, my first CD player was a Philips D6800 portable effort, the size of a fairly substantial hardback book and soon prone to skipping. Having bought that in an Argos sale, I was ready to buy some actual CDs. And my first foray into this shiny new world was at a now-defunct shop with the awful-in-retrospect name of See These CDs. I bought not one, but two, blowing £28 in the process. And these are what I bought. Yes, these are my first CD purchases, photographed on the dining table this morning some 28 years later. Brand new, these two would set me back £12 now...

Both excellent, still. Here's a track from each.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

(Another) Throwback Thursday

My first stab at a proper hi-fi, the Sony XO-D501CDM, brought brand new at a third of retail price (which was £479.99, back in the long hot summer of 1990). Before this, I'd had a little Philips stereo with twin cassette, radio and a very tinny turntable, plus speakers that would almost qualify as bookshelf. But this Sony had a decent turntable, a stereo equalizer, Dolby NR, auto-reverse and... whisper it quietly, a five-disc CD player. Oh, and surprisingly excellent speakers.

I should point out that this isn't my actual XO-D501CDM, I found the pic online. No, my XO-D501CDM was sold to The Man Of Cheese when I upgraded, four years later, to audiophile hi-fi separates, in much the same way that my parents took the Philips off me when I bought the Sony. It did many years of service for The Man Of Cheese, as I recall - indeed, he had it for a lot longer than I did, in the end.

Anyway, maybe it's my age but this is what a stereo should look like, and I wish I still had those speakers. What was your first set-up?

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Amusecast - episode 7

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to be blogging but it seems I can hardly keep away. Besides, I haven't done one of these since January, so... Anyway, you know the drill. One side of a C90. For once, I haven't included any Morrissey - see if you can spot my Moz surrogate(s).

Tracklisting

  1. The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy - Television, The Drug Of A Nation
  2. Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain
  3. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
  4. Beck - Devil's Haircut
  5. DNA featuring Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner
  6. Blur - Popscene
  7. The Strokes - Reptilia
  8. The Libertines - Can't Stand Me Now
  9. The Dears - Lost In The Plot
  10. The Holiday Crowd - While She Waits
  11. The Sundays - Skin And Bones

Rather have that lot as a download? Don't say I don't spoil you.

Monday, 18 June 2018

About referrals... and The Beths

Apologies if you've read about The Beths today already, courtesy of the none-finer blog Plain Or Pan (and if you don't already subscribe to, or at least read, Craig's blog, why not? It is uniformly excellent).

Anyway, The Beths hail from New Zealand and, to my mind, sound a bit like Sleeper would have sounded if Louise Wener sang in a slightly higher register (and with a Kiwi accent). Or, Craig describes them thus: "Mercurial, quicksilver guitar riffs are tight and taut, wrapped around the melodies as snug as a straightjacket, the only sloppiness on show being intended rather than unavoidable." See, I told you he's an ace blogger.

Since I can't top that, and anyway am supposed to be taking a break from blogging, I'll leave it there and just share the title track from The Beths' forthcoming album, Future Me Hates You, instead. Enjoy.

Friday, 15 June 2018

About Jim Rockford

As Julius Caesar might say if he was around in this online age, "I found, I liked, I shared." From another televisual staple of my youth, a great (and distinctive) device for characterising the protagonist...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

About Robbie

So, another World Cup post, already. Sorry.

Young Robert Williams of Blighty performed at the opening ceremony, and look what he did with his backing band's drum kit:

Yes, that's an attempt at "RW" in Russia's Cyrillic alphabet. But I did Russian at school, and can tell you that Я is pronounced "yar" (and is the Russian for "I") and that Щ, far from being a W, is actually pronounced "shch" (like in Ashchurch or fresh cheese, as we were taught).

So what Rob is actually saying to the watching Russian masses is yarshch. Nice work

Of course, his actual initials would prove harder in Russian, especially for the rest of the world watching on TV. The Russian R is actually П. And W? Russian doesn't even have a W. So maybe he should have approximated to Robbie Villiams, with a Russian V which is В. In other words, his drum kit should look like:

But I guess that doesn't say, "Hey, Robbie's in Russia" to a global audience in quite the same way.

Enjoy the footy, kids.

About the World Cup

Unless you are Tommy, and deprived of all your senses, you cannot fail to have noticed that the World Cup starts today. Or, as Harry Kane clarified in his first press conference after being named captain, "the biggest competition in the world." Brilliant. Our nation's sporting leader comprehends the meaning of the words "world" and "cup". How can we fail?

Speaking of hubris, "Scotland 78: A Love Story" is available on the iPlayer for another 22 days, and is worth an hour of anyone's time, assuming anyone is interested in either the beautiful game or how we used to live. It also includes this goal, beloved of Renton in Trainspotting:

As for this year's cup, I've got Belgium in one sweepstake (woohoo) and Egypt in another (er, get fit, Mo Salah...)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

About Charlize

I know it's unlikely but in my head the wonderful Charlize Theron has turned her back on the film-star life and is now growing tomatoes in Yorkshire for Waitrose...

Friday, 8 June 2018

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

About the sincerest form of flattery

Gavin may be heavily influenced by a certain Sir William Bragg of Barking. This may even border on a pastiche of Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards. But I don't care, I still love it. And hey, it keeps the blog ticking over...

Friday, 1 June 2018

Fifty? And other pauses for thought...

I haven't been blogging much of late but I can't let this pass: Kylie Minogue turned 50 on Monday.

I'll just that let sink in. It doesn't seem possible, does it? Mainly because if you're about my age, i.e. you were at secondary school in the era of peak Neighbours, you probably feel, as I do, that you've sort of grown up with Kylie. Okay, so she's wearing better than most of us, and has achieved more than most of us too, but you get what I'm saying, right? And so to acknowledge that she, the perennial sweetheart, the eternal fantasy girl next door, is not just a woman but a middle-aged woman now embarking on her sixth decade, well, that is also to acknowledge that we (by which I mean I) am getting old too.

Time is short, and I've wasted a lot of it lately, not least on lazy blog posts (a bit like this one) that amounted to little more than a couple of trite paragraphs and a YouTube embed. Yet at the same time, I would tell anyone who cared to ask (and ask they still do, though decreasingly) that my fiction writing would be going great guns if only I had more time. Hence a bit of a rethink all round at New Amusements Towers... time to get busy livin'. And, for what it's worth, I have been writing, these past few weeks.

But back to Kylie. I'm no great fan of her music, aside from one or two tracks, and am fairly ambivalent about her acting, I've just always been a fan of her. At various times in my life she has been a poster on my wall (this one, seemingly now quite rare), an early mobile phone wallpaper (this pic), and a memorable gig in a now sadly defunct venue, tickets bought by an ex who got tired of me referring to Kylie as "the future wife". The ex is long, long gone... but Kylie, she's always been around. And now she's 50 and promoting an album that I won't buy called Golden (presumably because that's what a 50th anniversary is). As ever, I found the singles to be inoffensive but not something I would choose to listen to, ordinarily. But then, one evening, I heard Jo Whiley play this album track, and I rather liked it. You might too.

And check out the changes with this GIFfy Instagram post which, if nothing else, keeps the blog ticking over...