Monday 30 October 2017

Instinct, overheard

Overheard, earlier today...

A (downcast): Anyway, I'm sorry. I've been a bit down on myself lately, and it's made me a bit grumpy.

B (slightly disinterested): Don't be so hard on yourself.

A: I know, I've just been having a bit of an introspective phase, and -

B: Introspection's over-rated, if you ask me.

A: Well, I can't help it.

B (slightly more interested now): You can, actually. You can choose how you are, choose to give introspection a miss.

A (unconvinced but perhaps not wanting a debate): Well, maybe.

That's from memory, so apologies to A and B for misquotes and paraphrasing. That was certainly the gist of the conversation, anyway. So what do we think? Can you choose your mood, like B suggests? Or is choosing not an option, as A reckons? Is introspection, or any number of other behaviours, instinctive or reasoned?

You might think this slice of early Spandau Ballet would be the obvious choice to go with musings on instinction, but who likes obvious? It's alright, but I prefer a bit of tunesmithery, thanks.

Monday 23 October 2017

Cryptic-schmyptic - the answers

Earlier this month, I posted a music crossword: 75 clues of varying difficulty - some cryptic, some anagrams, some straightforward. I hoped it might be a fun test, albeit a test that would be easier if you knew my taste in music and/or were a regular reader of the blog.

Anyway, a week is quite long enough to mull over a crossword, so here's the solution. There are no prizes but hey, by all means have a kudos point for every answer you got right.

The clueThe answer
1Purveyors of dead air space (9)Dead Air Space is the current title of Radiohead's website.
4Pentito (10)Pentito is Italian for someone who is repentant and is commonly used to describe criminals who help the judiciary, much like a Supergrass.
5Covered 41A's feast day (7)41A is Billy Bragg, who sang about St Swithin's Day. Dubstar did a lovely cover of this.
7...but neither Jane Fonda nor Donald Sutherland (1,2,5)Jane and Donald co-starred in the movie I Am Klute, from which I Am Kloot took their name.
9Panacea, they dropped the 'easy' (3,4)A panacea is a cure-all. Robert Smith's band were originally called The Easy Cure - they dropped the 'Easy' and became The Cure.
11A hand reached down to him (5,5)The lyrics to Oh You Pretty Things by the late David Bowie describe "A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me".
13Over experienced (4,7)His breakthrough band was The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
14Oh Susanna! Plus three. (3,7)The gorgeous Susanna Hoffs was lead vocalist with The Bangles.
16The beginning of all bands (7)Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1: In the beginning...
21She stopped wearing cardigans (4,7)The sublime Nina Persson was singer with The Cardigans before going solo.
23Dancers of the leggy mambo (3)Leggy Mambo was the second album from Cud.
24Bickle boys (6)Travis Bickle was the protagonist in Taxi Driver, and gave the band their name.
25Time for Sleep for these indie also-rans (6)Time and Sleep were minor hits for forgotten indie nearly-men Marion.
27Insistent insect (4,3)Insistent could be adamant, an insect could be an ant, hence Adam Ant.
28Allowed the country to quiver (1,1,6)Let England Shake was an album by P J Harvey.
30Shoegazing was easy (4)Easy might imply an easy ride, hence Oxford shoegazers Ride.
31They bore a rose banner (4)Rose banner = Pink Flag, an album by Wire.
32Rearrange Mancunians (3,5)Not an anagram but if you arranged those Mancunians you might put them in a New Order.
34Locus of deoxyribonucleic acid (4)Deoxyribonucleic acid being DNA, this is one definition of a Gene.
37Sad aviation (4,10)Sad = blue, aviation = aeroplanes: Blue Aeroplanes.
40They reflected in the en-suite (3,4)Mirror In The Bathroom was a big hit for The Beat.
41Still suitable for miners (5,5)Note, miners, not minors. Who's more suitable for miners than Billy Bragg?
42Gift chosen from a list (3,7,7)Wedding gifts are often chosen from a list, hence The Wedding Present.
45Goes well with Streetband hit (3,3)Streetband had a hit with Toast, and what goes well with toast? The Jam, of course (Marmalade wouldn't fit).
46Gave 41A an extra verse (6,7)41A being Billy Bragg, the late Kirsty MacColl added an extra verse to her cover of Bill's A New England, which he subsequently adopted in tribute to her.
48After-hours training for the philharmonic (1,1,1)After hours implies in the Dark. Training implies Manoeuvres. Philharmonic implies Orchestral. So, O.M.D.
49The Office Block Persecution Affinity (3,5)One of a number of groups The Kinks identified with in The Village Green Preservation Society.
50Gave Val Kilmer his finest hour (3,8)Val played Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's Doors biopic.
52Not as hard as stainless steel (4)Sheffield is indelibly associated with stainless steel, as are the much softer sounding Pulp.
55Their sophtware did not sell well (9)The Sophtware Slump was an album by Grandaddy.
57They always sounded so happy (1,1,1)Ecstatic even, or in a state of X.T.C. perhaps?
58Multiple stationers (3,6)More than one branch of W H Smith would surely be The Smiths?
61Scouse anglers? (4)Fishermen Cast their line.
62Change for vending machine (6,4)Forgive the playground joke, but this is Johnny Cash.
64Kubrick's favourite band? (11)Probably not Stanley's favourite band, but Strangelove were excellent, as is Kubrick's film Dr Strangelove.
66Handy for nurdling, if Gallic (5)A nurdle (think of the Aquafresh logo) would be easy to draw with a French curve. Or just Curve, if Gallic.
67Not the high street soap pedlars (4)As well as the soap company, Lush were also shoegazers signed to 4AD.
68Kept in a creel? (4)Sylvia Plath's poem You're memorably compared a baby to a creel of Eels.
69Oh, duo screwed (7,5)Confusingly not a duo, just an anagram of Crowded House.
71Not Screaming Lord Sutch's backing band (7)Sutch's band were The Savages. So not them, just Savages without the The.
2Essential French duo (3)Air is pretty essential, I find.
3New York childminders (5)Nanny In Manhattan was the jeans-ad-powered one-hit wonder for Lilys.
4Velveteen trash (5)Velveteen is an adjective that might be applied to Suede who had quite a hit with Trash.
6Bald, bony? (3,5)A straight anagram of the bony but still hirsute Bob Dylan.
8Suicidal Swedes (3,9)The Wannadies were from Sweden.
9Liverpudlians who always had one eye on the cover (3,3)The La's eponymous debut album had a close-up of an eye on the sleeve.
10Symbol's mother (5)For a while, Prince went by the name of an unpronounceable symbol. Who's a prince's mother? A Queen, of course!
12Neither acoustic nor heavy but philharmonic (1,1,1)Not acoustic implies Electric. Not heavy implies Light. Philharmonic implies Orchestra. So, E.L.O.
14A modest, dizzy bunch (3,6,5)(Im)modest sounding The Wonder Stuff helped Vic Reeves with his hit cover of Dizzy.
15Spanish archer (5)El bow... Elbow. Geddit?
17Tight fit (but not Tight Fit) (7)A tight fit is, literally, a Squeeze.
18Kopavagur's finest (8,7)Kopavagur is a little town in Iceland, home to singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini.
19When Bob was sweet, not mouldy (5)Bob Mould's other band, Sugar.
20Sounds like they should be Alan's favourite band (1,2)Knowing me, Alan Partridge, knowing you, New Amusements... A-Ha!
22Shy poets bop (3,4,4)A straight anagram of Pet Shop Boys.
25Ann Coates (9)Credited with backing vocals on Bigmouth, Ann Coates was actually a pitch-shifted Morrissey.
26Quite good (3,12)In their early days, this band had badges proclaiming "The Housemartins are quite good".
29He plays guitar (6,4)The lyrics of John Kettley Is A Weatherman by A Tribe of Toffs include the line "Johnny Marr, he plays guitar."
32They saw off the fear (5)There Goes The Fear was, in my view, Doves' finest moment.
35The decline of ... (7,3,5)...British Sea Power is an excellent album by, unsurprisingly, British Sea Power!
36Alternate heroes' stetson (3,5,5)A straight anagram of The Stone Roses.
38No longer an attraction (5,8)Since Steve Nieve doesn't fit, another ex-Attraction would be Elvis Costello.
39Changing man (4,6)A descriptive reference to a mid-90s release from Paul Weller.
43Not Middleton, not burning (4,4)Not Middleton, so another Kate. Not burning, so another bush. Kate Bush.
44Gaussian smudge (4)A Gaussian Blur is a common image processing effect used in many graphics software packages.
47Is Georgia the dream state? (3)Rapid Eye Movement is what you do when you're dreaming and Athens, Georgia, was home to R.E.M.
51(W)hole lot of water (5)A waterhole might be an Oasis.
53Fallen in French farce (7)The farce in question, 'Allo 'Allo, featured a painting entitled "Ze Fallen Madonna With Ze Big Boobies". Yes, really.
54Diminutive Cornish or Devonians (6)Those mythical little fellas would be Pixies, of course.
56Pre-Banksy stencillers, Essex anarcho-punks (5)I remember the stencilled art and logos more than the music. This was Crass.
59Gudmund's daughter, once sweet and die-shaped (5)Ex-Sugarcube, Bjork Gudmundsdottir.
60Left the opera Scott-free (5)She left her soap opera husband Scott behind and went on to become so big she could dispense with her surname. She is Kylie.
63Grunge Yoko and co (4)Grunge Yoko was a label thrown at Courtney Love, who had her own band, Hole.
65White Van men (4)Van Morrison first found fame as the singer in Them.
70Entwistle (2)Who bassist and archetypal quiet man John Entwistle's nickname was Ox.

So that's it. How did you do? And don't worry, I doubt very much that I'll be doing this again - okay, it generated quite a lot of interaction in the comments (no cross words though, ho ho), but it was disproportionately hard work for all concerned!

Thursday 19 October 2017

Who was your favourite?

I cannot imagine a time when this title sequence will fail to make me feel joyously young again, even if only for one minute ten seconds...

And what a theme tune!

Monday 16 October 2017


I may or may not have too much blogging time imminently, for reasons too numerous to go into. In case I don't, I'd thought I'd just leave something here that might last passing readers a while. And I'll be honest, I was also inspired by Rol's Saturday Snapshots series, with their cryptic clues.

So here's a crossword. All answers are bands or solo artists. If you've been reading this blog long enough you'll have an idea of my musical taste, so you'll have a head start there, I should imagine. Either way, you'll probably solve it all in a lot less time than it took me to compile. Some clues are cryptic, some are straightforward, and there may even be an anagram or two. Oh, and you might want to click the grid to view it a little larger than it displays below.

Click to embiggen

1Purveyors of dead air space (9)2Essential French duo (3)
4Pentito (10)3New York childminders (5)
5Covered 41A's feast day (7)4Velveteen trash (5)
7...but neither Jane Fonda nor Donald Sutherland (1,2,5)6Bald, bony? (3,5)
9Panacea, they dropped the 'easy' (3,4)8Suicidal Swedes (3,9)
11A hand reached down to him (5,5)9Liverpudlians who always had one eye on the cover (3,3)
13Over experienced (4,7)10Symbol's mother (5)
14Oh Susanna! Plus three. (3,7)12Neither acoustic nor heavy but philharmonic (1,1,1)
16The beginning of all bands (7)14A modest, dizzy bunch (3,6,5)
21She stopped wearing cardigans (4,7)15Spanish archer (5)
23Dancers of the leggy mambo (3)17Tight fit (but not Tight Fit) (7)
24Bickle boys (6)18Kopavagur's finest (8,7)
25Time for Sleep for these indie also-rans (6)19When Bob was sweet, not mouldy (5)
27Insistent insect (4,3)20Sounds like they should be Alan's favourite band (1,2)
28Allowed the country to quiver (1,1,6)22Shy poets bop (3,4,4)
30Shoegazing was easy (4)25Ann Coates (9)
31They bore a rose banner (4)26Quite good (3,12)
32Rearrange Mancunians (3,5)29He plays guitar (6,4)
34Locus of deoxyribonucleic acid (4)32They saw off the fear (5)
37Sad aviation (4,10)35The decline of ... (7,3,5)
40They reflected in the en-suite (3,4)36Alternate heroes' stetson (3,5,5)
41Still suitable for miners (5,5)38No longer an attraction (5,8)
42Gift chosen from a list (3,7,7)39Changing man (4,6)
45Goes well with Streetband hit (3,3)43Not Middleton, not burning (4,4)
46Gave 41A an extra verse (6,7)44Gaussian smudge (4)
48After-hours training for the philharmonic (1,1,1)47Is Georgia the dream state? (3)
49The Office Block Persecution Affinity (3,5)51(W)hole lot of water (5)
50Gave Val Kilmer his finest hour (3,8)53Fallen in French farce (7)
52Not as hard as stainless steel (4)54Diminutive Cornish or Devonians (6)
55Their sophtware did not sell well (9)56Pre-Banksy stencillers, Essex anarcho-punks (5)
57They always sounded so happy (1,1,1)59Gudmund's daughter, once sweet and die-shaped (5)
58Multiple stationers (3,6)60Left the opera Scott-free (5)
61Scouse anglers? (4)63Grunge Yoko and co (4)
62Change for vending machine (6,4)65White Van men (4)
64Kubrick's favourite band? (11)70Entwistle (2)
66Handy for nurdling, if Gallic (5)
67Not the high street soap pedlars (4)
68Kept in a creel? (4)
69Oh, duo screwed (7,5)
71Not Screaming Lord Sutch's backing band (7)

Thursday 12 October 2017

Rose(-tinted) crush

Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers. Sigh.

My first real crush as a boy, after the prototype crush I had on my second teacher (the brunette-hair-down-to-her-waist, guitar-playing, hoop-ear-ring-wearing Miss Broad) was Lindsay Wagner. Or, more precisely, her most famous screen role, Jaime Sommers, The Bionic Woman. You could keep your Charlie's Angels as far as I was concerned (although I watched that too, of course, and did sort of like Jaclyn Smith), it was the tennis-pro turned schoolteacher who somehow warranted a multi-million dollar upgrade after a parachuting accident that always did it for me. She had brains (a schoolteacher knows everything when you're that age, right?), was super-powered (a bionic arm to go with bionic legs and, erm, one ear) and looked nice enough to make me feel funny in a way I didn't really understand at the time. It's no coincidence that the girl I always ran after when playing kiss-chase in the primary school playground looked like a pint-sized Jaime...

Watching clips now, The Bionic Woman hasn't aged terrifically well. It's hard to imagine watching whole episodes, even through the rose-tinted haze of nostalgia. By contrast, contemporary shows like Columbo and The Rockford Files still hold up, I think. But anyway, Jaime Sommers... the title sequence is archetypal Seventies US fare: the premise, the background, and lots of lingering shots of the star. And then there's a little clip of Jamie defeating a HAL9000 rip-off, in a race against time before they get nuked. Yes, really. Heavy stuff for a show aimed at kids, and actually pretty well done, I reckon.

Now, let me wallow.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Blogging. Not blogging.

On the way to work this morning, I was mulling over what to blog about next. Maybe the next Clandestine Classic, or how I might encourage more Fantasy Cover Version submissions. Or maybe an original piece... perhaps a review of the new Blade Runner film. So what would I write about that, I wondered? How visually stunning it is? How it adds to, rather than detracts from, the original? Or why it might be, in the words of one broadsheet, "under-performing" at the box-office? (A bit too long? Dystopia fatigue? Misogyny or misandry? Pick your keyboard warrior on that last one, I've heard both views.)

Joi and K

Except everyone who writes about films online is writing about Blade Runner 2049 already. If you want a straight journalistic review you could do a lot worse than Empire, and if you want a neat blogged summary you should pay Cultural Snow a visit.

So not Blade Runner then.

Maybe I could finally pull something together to celebrate a pretty much life-long love of walking up hills and mountains? You know, throw in some details of notable summits bagged, add an amusingly captioned photograph or two, maybe a lament to crumbling knees and the fact that my highest peaks are probably behind me, that sort of thing. Endcap it all with a YouTube embed of Kate Bush, maybe. But no. Because no-one wants to read that really, do they? Apart from me.

Buckden Pike (summit), Sept 17

I find myself veering towards the sort of posts I was writing back in 2006/7/8 that were highly personal and a bit raw: a sort of primal scream into the ambivalent ears of the world. But, if website stats are anything to go by, even fewer people want to read that, so really, what's the point? I wonder if anyone is actually still reading this even, or whether it got abandoned midway through the first para? In the unlikely event that you are still reading, why not enter something in the comments to show me you've got this far - let's say, oh, I don't know, the name of the first single you bought.

What desperate cannibalism it is that allows the mind to consume itself.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Maida Vale-able

Moz and Boz

For your listening pleasure: (Need unzipping software?)

Edited 04-Oct-2017 13:00 - original file replaced with 320kbps version.

Monday 2 October 2017

This month, I am late to the party with...

...the fact that Steve Coogan doesn't like Paul Dacre or the Murdochs. Neither do I.