Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Songs for tomorrow: Only Tomorrow

Continuing the temporary comeback of this series (because I've got naff-all else to write about), here's some My Bloody Valentine, from mbv. Guitars and amps teetering on the edge here, I think.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

More new to NA: Massage

I know very little about Massage other than that they're a five-piece from LA, although on the basis of this I suspect they grew up listening to New Order, what do you reckon?

Anyway, here's their most recent single, In Gray &, Blue, and you can listen to more of Massage on their Bandcamp page, should you feel so inclined. Just be careful if you Google them, that's all...

Monday, 16 May 2022

Monday long song: Is There A Place For Me?

I was going to start this post with a rhetorical "How were Strangelove not colossal?" but the sad answer to that had something to do with singer Patrick Duff's drink and drug issues. Anyway, here's the indie rock tsunami of Is There A Place For Me?, the closing track from their excellent debut album Time for the Rest of Your Life. Doesn't sound in a good place, does he?

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Friday, 13 May 2022

Blue Friday: Song To Self

In which I blow another song that could have served as the last post when I eventually call time on New Amusements. "By the time you hear this I'll be gone," indeed. What will I have left to use when the time comes?

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Songs for tomorrow: Tomorrow

Haven't done a post in this series for nearly two years, so let's remedy that with some Cranberries. Is there a more instantly recognisable vocal sound than that of the late, lamented Dolores O'Riordan? Maybe, maybe not, but there can't be too many. This is from their second bite of the cherry, the comeback, and was a single in 2011. It's nice enough, I reckon, with its early-Sundays guitar motif, but it didn't trouble the charts at all. Shame. Parent album Roses made it to number 17, at least.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Monday long song: Jason and the Argonauts

A slice of early 80s XTC, from English Settlement - a song that takes its title from a Greek myth. And why not?

Friday, 6 May 2022

Twenty-two in '22: Headhunters

I've set myself modest reading targets in each of the last three years and failed every time (I managed 17 books in '19, 11 in '20 and 18 in '21), so I'm determined to read twenty two books in 2022. I'll review them all here.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

5/22: Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

The blurb:

LIE.

Clever, wealthy, married to a beautiful woman: Roger Brown has it all. And his sideline as an art thief keeps him busy when his job as a corporate headhunter gets dull.

STEAL.

Then his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Ambitious and talented, he's the perfect candidate for a top job Roger needs to fill - and the priceless painting he owns makes him the perfect target for a heist.

MURDER?

But soon Roger finds out that there's more to Greve than meets the eye, and it's not long before the hunter becomes the hunted...

The review: I'll admit to being a little wary of reading this book. I saw the Norwegian language film adaptation of this when it came out at the cinema in 2013, and bought the DVD on release. It remains one of my favourite films not just of that year but of the 21st Century, a gripping thriller that repeatedly blind-sides the viewer, with a fantastic/incredible story that remains plausible, and with a brilliant anti-hero in logical, analytical recruitment consultant with a chip on his shoulder Roger Brown. I love it, and wondered whether I could enjoy the source material as much.

I needn't have worried. Jo Nesbo is most famous for his series of Harry Hole crime novels that, in turn, helped create a buzz around what came to be known as Scandi noir, a buzz that persists. But this isn't a Harry Hole story - rather, it's a standalone thriller with a very different sort of hero: Brown is a headhunter in the HR sense, and the best at what he does. He just happens to also dabble in the occasional fine art theft. That's where the somewhat lazy parallel to The Thomas Crown Affair Nesbo's publishers attempt over at Amazon comes from ... but Brown is far more interesting than either McQueen's or Brosnan's big-screen playboy thieves, because he is far more deeply flawed. Insecure about his height, insecure about his stunning wife, insecure about his parents, insecure about just about everything, and with more than a little OCD to boot. The parallel I'd draw is closer to Patrick Bateman, but without the psychopathy, and much less killing...

Also ... well, it's a question I have to ask when the author is writing in another language from the one I'm reading it in: is the concision and effect of the prose down to the author, or the translator? Headhunters is translated from Norwegian to English by Don Bartlett, and he's done a cracking job, as far as I can tell. Surely, in the same way that a good editor can immeasurably improve the quality of an author's work (Gordon Lish, for example), a translator must have a significant part to play in a foreign language novel's success in English.

Anyway, here's a passage I bookmarked that highlights both the protagonists character and the author's (and translator's) direct and effective prose style - here, Brown has just realised that not only has his wife been cheating on him, but also may have murderous intent:

It was like being embraced by a stranger. Everything was different with her now, even her smell. Or was it his? It was revolting. Her hand went back and forth in a slow massaging movement as if she were shampooing me, as if her enthusiasm for my hair was reaching new heights at precisely that moment. I felt like hitting her, hitting her with a flat hand. Flat so that I could feel the contact, the smack of skin on skin, feel the pain and the shock.

Instead I closed my eyes and let her do it, let her massage me, soften me, please me. I may be a very sick man.

If that isn't enough to get you interested in Brown's story and/or Nesbo's writing, here's another passage I bookmarked, from much later in the story, as Roger leaves his sometime-lover Lotte's flat:

In the dark of the bedroom I could just make out the contours of her body under the sheet. I resisted a sudden impulse: to get undressed, slip back into the bed and snuggle up to her. Instead I felt an odd sensation that everything that had happened had not been about Diana, but about me. I closed the bedroom door softly and left. Just as when I had arrived, there was no one on the staircase to greet. Nor when I got out onto the street did I meet anyone who would respond to my friendly nods; no one looked at me or acknowledged my existence in any other way. Now it had dawned on me what the sensation was: I didn't exist.

It was time to find myself again.

I'm not aware of other books featuring Brown - this is very much a standalone tale, and that's a shame because he's such an excellent character, and Nesbo develops him brilliantly, aided by the first person narration. All I can say is that I would very happily read other tales about the headhunter, and will instead have to content myself with exploring Nesbo's other work. In the meantime, I recommend this to you very highly, especially if suspenseful, plot-twisting thrillers are your thing.

The bottom line: direct, engaging, page-turning prose that brings a twisty thriller and a memorable character vividly to life - how I wish this wasn't a standalone novel!

Since everything online is rated these days: ★★★★★☆

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Ooh do u fink u r, sunshine?

A collaboration between Suggs and Paul Weller, you say? Long overdue, you say? This is from the promotional blurb:

OOH DO U FINK U R is a gloriously sunny, optimistic and defiant Motown and '60's R&B influenced stomper drawing on Suggs and Weller's upbringing in Britain's 1970's comprehensive school system in London and Woking respectively.

Having known each other on-and-off over the last four decades, the seeds of this collaboration emerged in 2019 when Weller joined Suggs on his Radio Four series Love Letters To London to talk about an ever changing Soho. As the world subsequently went into lockdown in 2020, the pair started chatting more and more frequently about music, clothes and football, eventually exchanging half finished songs, demos and sketches of lyrics. With its working class aesthetic, Motown influenced stomp, and uplifting brass, it's an intuitive collaboration that sits neatly as a welcome addition to both men's great songbooks.

Enough blurb. This came to my attention courtesy of a marketing email, offering me this track on a slab of 7" vinyl, with an instrumental version on the B-side, for £10.99 + P&P. That seems a lot, if you ask me - you can get albums for less. So is it worth it?

There is a time when the Weller collector in me would have rushed to place my order. But whilst I quite like this (even if it feels slightly less than it could have been), my 11 English pounds are staying in my wallet - I'll wait until it crops up on a compilation album instead. What about you?

[EDIT 5-MAY-22: the limited, numbered vinyl (only 5,000 copies) has sold out on pre-order alone, from what I can see.]

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Lost lyrics ... found!

AKA the answers to last week's quiz.

Remember, it's a point for the artist and a point for the song, so the whole thing is out of 100. How did you do? And which ones had you kicking yourself?

  1. The world is your oyster but your future’s a clam.
    The Jam, When You're Young
  2. Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.
    Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al
  3. I might walk home alone, but my faith in love is still devout.
    The Smiths, Rusholme Ruffians
  4. If I could only be tough like him, then I could win my own small battle of the sexes.
    XTC, Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)
  5. I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet.
    Billy Bragg, Greetings To The New Brunette
  6. You arrived like a day and passed like a cloud.
    The Pretenders, Talk Of The Town
  7. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
    Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues
  8. I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.
    Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. Riding through the city on my bike all day, ‘cause the filth took away my licence.
    Lily Allen, LDN
  10. Tennis shoes, don't even need to buy a new dress, If you ain't there, ain't nobody else to impress.
    Beyoncé, Crazy In Love
  11. Jack, he is a banker and Jane, she is a clerk.
    The Velvet Underground, Sweet Jane
  12. Homo sapiens have outgrown their use.
    David Bowie, Oh! You Pretty Things
  13. The boys all loved you but I was a mess.
    Pulp, Disco 2000
  14. Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn't conquer the blue sky.
    Crowded House, Weather With You
  15. We’ll take the tide’s electric mind, oh yeah.
    Suede, So Young
  16. When I am king you will be first against the wall.
    Radiohead, Paranoid Android
  17. I'm flattered that you thought I make a good reward.
    Gene, Olympian
  18. Look at me, you know what you see? You see a bad mother.
    James Brown, The Boss
  19. I've seen so much, I'm going blind and I'm brain-dead, virtually.
    Blur, Coffee & TV
  20. With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.
    Pixies, Where Is My Mind?
  21. Have you forgot whatever it was that you couldn't stand about me?
    McAlmont & Butler, Yes
  22. I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night.
    The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset
  23. Jealousy is an essential part of love.
    The Wedding Present, My Favourite Dress
  24. I could be a lot, but I know I'm not.
    The Style Council, You're The Best Thing
  25. I'm so worried about my love - they say, "No, no, it won't last forever."
    Kate Bush, The Man With The Child In His Eyes
  26. It’s more or less the same as the things that you said.
    Ocean Colour Scene, The Riverboat Song
  27. Each day living out a lie, life sold cheaply forever.
    Manic Street Preachers, Motorcycle Emptiness
  28. Your tongue is far too long.
    The Stone Roses, I Am The Resurrection
  29. I found an island in your arms, country in your eyes.
    The Doors, Break On Through
  30. Speech gets harder, there's no sense in writing.
    Talk Talk, Living In Another World
  31. If you're in The Crown tonight have a drink on me.
    The Clash, Stay Free
  32. No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go.
    John Lennon, Watching The Wheels
  33. I just keep on laughing, hiding the tears in my eyes.
    The Cure, Boys Don't Cry
  34. If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall.
    Blondie, Hanging On The Telephone
  35. Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse. Still, it's so much clearer.
    REM, Nightswimming
  36. I'm worse at what I do best, and for this gift, I feel blessed.
    Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit
  37. His mind wanders to the office, his telephone, desk and chair.
    Madness, Cardiac Arrest
  38. I don't know if you can hear me, I'm feeling down and can't think clearly.
    Teenage Fanclub, Start Again
  39. I heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress.
    Elvis Costello, Alison
  40. I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay.
    The Rolling Stones, Sympathy For The Devil
  41. You lied about your status, you lied about your life, you never mentioned your three children and the fact you have a wife.
    Kirsty MacColl, England 2 Columbia 0
  42. Magically bored on a quiet street corner, free frustration in our minds and our toes.
    The Who, 5:15
  43. You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel I'm dirt.
    Buzzcocks, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)
  44. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
    Simon & Garfunkel, The Only Living Boy In New York
  45. And now my fears, they come to me in threes.
    The Strokes, Someday
  46. Stick or twist, the choice is yours.
    Kylie, Confide In Me
  47. Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Voodoo Child
  48. I wonder, do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun?
    Madonna, Ray Of Light
  49. I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day.
    ABBA, The Day Before You Came
  50. Smiles await you when you rise.
    The Beatles, Golden Slumbers

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Lost lyrics

If I ever hear the phrase "the world is your oyster" in my head I always add "but your future's a clam" because that's how the song goes, isn't it? A song I've heard so often, for so many years, that the lyrics are ingrained in me, a part of my subconscious mind. You're the same, no doubt, albeit with a different set of mind-invading songs.

So here's a bit of fun for the forthcoming bank holiday weekend - a quiz! Fifty little snippets of lyrics that have become lost from their songs ... all you have to do is identify them. There's a point on offer for the song and another for the artist, making a predictable one hundred points up for grabs.

Clues? Pfft! You don't need any. There's nothing particularly obscure here and, besides, if you've read this blog for a while you know the sort of artists I'm likely to feature. Oh, and if you're the sort of person who likes to print off a question sheet, there's one of those here. Other that that, answers will be published next Tuesday - have fun.

  1. The world is your oyster but your future’s a clam.
  2. Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.
  3. I might walk home alone, but my faith in love is still devout.
  4. If I could only be tough like him, then I could win my own small battle of the sexes.
  5. I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet.
  6. You arrived like a day and passed like a cloud.
  7. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
  8. I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.
  9. Riding through the city on my bike all day, ‘cause the filth took away my licence.
  10. Tennis shoes, don't even need to buy a new dress, If you ain't there, ain't nobody else to impress.
  11. Jack, he is a banker and Jane, she is a clerk.
  12. Homo sapiens have outgrown their use.
  13. The boys all loved you but I was a mess.
  14. Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn't conquer the blue sky.
  15. We’ll take the tide’s electric mind, oh yeah.
  16. When I am king you will be first against the wall.
  17. I'm flattered that you thought I make a good reward.
  18. Look at me, you know what you see? You see a bad mother.
  19. I've seen so much, I'm going blind and I'm brain-dead, virtually.
  20. With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.
  21. Have you forgot whatever it was that you couldn't stand about me?
  22. I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night.
  23. Jealousy is an essential part of love.
  24. I could be a lot, but I know I'm not.
  25. I'm so worried about my love - they say, "No, no, it won't last forever."
  26. It’s more or less the same as the things that you said.
  27. Each day living out a lie, life sold cheaply forever.
  28. Your tongue is far too long.
  29. I found an island in your arms, country in your eyes.
  30. Speech gets harder, there's no sense in writing.
  31. If you're in The Crown tonight have a drink on me.
  32. No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go.
  33. I just keep on laughing, hiding the tears in my eyes.
  34. If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall.
  35. Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse. Still, it's so much clearer.
  36. I'm worse at what I do best, and for this gift, I feel blessed.
  37. His mind wanders to the office, his telephone, desk and chair.
  38. I don't know if you can hear me, I'm feeling down and can't think clearly.
  39. I heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress.
  40. I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay.
  41. You lied about your status, you lied about your life, you never mentioned your three children and the fact you have a wife.
  42. Magically bored on a quiet street corner, free frustration in our minds and our toes.
  43. You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel I'm dirt.
  44. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
  45. And now my fears, they come to me in threes.
  46. Stick or twist, the choice is yours.
  47. Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.
  48. I wonder, do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun?
  49. I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day.
  50. Smiles await you when you rise.

Here's an appropriate song for you, The Spirit of the Lyrics by Swedish four-piece The Slow Summits.

Monday, 25 April 2022

More new to NA: Billy Nomates

Billy Nomates is actually a woman called Tor Maries. That's pretty much all I know about her, though you may find out more on your platform of choice at lnk.to/JlfS0aHS

In the meantime, I really like this, though I'm not sure I've decided quite why yet. It might be the whip-smart lyrics, or the way the backing track rhythms seem at odds with the vocal melody. Whatever, it doesn't really matter why I like it, does it? I just do, and maybe you will too.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Blue Friday: Weltschmerz

Here's the penultimate track from Gavin Osborn's new album; it seems very apt for our time ... our polluted, burning, divided, Don't-Look-Up time. Anyway, if your German is like mine, this is what weltschmerz means.

The album has some corkers on it, so you might see more Osborn-related posts in the near future. After all, he is, in his own words, "like if Billy Bragg had swapped Barking for Bedford".

All together now, "I'm not fine, you're not fine, don't tell anyone ... once more round the sun ... "

Monday, 18 April 2022

Monday long song(s): Ranking Full Stop / Mirror In The Bathroom

A bit of a cheat here, because although this live rendition of Mirror In The Bathroom is nearly long enough on its own to make the Monday long song threshold, it takes the seamless prequel of Ranking Full Stop to make sure. So two songs, run together, rather than one, but my gaff, my rules ... and I really wanted to post this, because it's fantastic. Featuring the late, great and much-missed Ranking Roger, and his son, with their version of The Beat (Dave Wakeling has his own version too).

So much to love here, aside from the brilliance of the music and the performance. Did you spot the kid standing motionless in the crowd throughout, whilst his parents and their generation do their best middle-aged skanking all around? And the guy holding his empty plastic beer glass in his mouth so he can applaud at the end? Such sights are common at gigs for people of my age, seeing bands that were popular in their youth but are no longer the next big thing. We might not be able to skank for quite as long, or as energetically, as in days gone by, but it doesnt matter - the nostalgia is every bit as important as the music and the band ...

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Sunday shorts: All By Myself

From Green Day's 1994 breakout album Dookie. What could this song be about? A lyric change in live renditions leaves no doubt.

Sod it, since it is also a short video, here's the actual backstory to this strong, straight from the horse's, i.e. Tré Cool's, mouth:

Saturday, 16 April 2022

"Politician is rubbish" shocker

It's ten weeks since I wrote to my MP to bemoan Johnson's mendacity around #Partygate. To be absolutely sure he got it, I sent it by post and email.

To date, I have received no reply by either means, not even an email autoresponder.

Who's surprised, because I sure as hell am not.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Blue Friday: O Children

I still have a bit of a Nick Cave blind spot - I like a few individual songs, but own no albums by him. Anyway, this is one of those individual songs that I do like. Film fans might recognise it from the Harry Potter franchise, the apparent theme of the track (the messed up world the singer's generation have left for the kids) fitting the sombre mood of the seventh film.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Sci-fi foundations! Or, the worlds of Gerry Anderson

I found a copy of the Look-in annual from 1977 in a charity shop a while back. This two-page article on Gerry Anderson is from that. You might think his supermarionation heyday was behind him by 1977, but flicking through the rest of the annual you get a clear reminder of how big his live-action offering Space 1999 (starring none other than future Oscar-winner Martin Landau) was at the time.

Clicking these images should magnify, and make them a bit more readable.

What strikes me here, given the youth of the target market, is the absolute lack of dumbing down. I can't imagine it would be written the same way, or take up two whole pages of narrow-spaced Times New Roman, for the kids of today.

Anyway, what better way to end this post than with Cliff Richard Jr from Gerry's 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go. Listen at your peril.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Tube Tuesday: The Cure

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from the last ever Tube, episode 24 of series 5, broadcast 24th April 1987; they closed in some style, Paula bookending a three-song set from The Cure: Catch, Why Can't I Be You and Hot Hot Hot. It would be almost nine years until The Tube's spiritual successor, TFI Friday, debuted. A big hole, largely unfilled.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Monday long song: I've Had Enough

It may only be 7.30 on Monday morning but I've already had enough.

And if Daltrey's last desperate howl hasn't got you visualising Jimmy's scooter going over the cliff, we should probably talk...

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Sunday shorts: Lot 105

Forget anything I might have said previously; when my plywood box rolls along the squeaky conveyor belt and through the brittle velour curtain, this really ought to be playing... loud.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Blue Friday: Lonesome Ocean and The Million Things That Never Happened

I've been listening to Billy Bragg's album from last year, The Million Things That Never Happened, a lot lately. It's a real grower. I don't know if it makes me feel any better about all the shit that surrounds our lives in 21st Century Britain, the downward trajectory of everything, the seemingly unstoppable race to the bottom ... but it certainly makes me feel a little better about feeling bad, if that makes sense.

Here's two for the price of one, because I can't choose between Lonesome Ocean and the title track...

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

I can't remember a worse time

Remember how I posted recently about unnecessary covers, and lamented those that slavishly aped the original, without trying something different? Well, this is different enough for me. The K's first came to my attention courtesy of The Man Of Cheese but they are not, contrary to what this video might suggest, an acoustic two-piece - rather, they are a sharply-dressed unsigned band of impossible youth who are not afraid to show you their influences. Here's an example of more typical fare from The K's ... but I am rather partial to this, their cover of one of Jarvis's finest moments.

And I really can't remember a worse time.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Monday long song: Fragile

I could probably do the rest of the year's Monday long songs with tracks from The Blue Aeroplanes, such is their tendency to "go on a bit", but I won't. This, though, is from their 1994 album Life Model, and apart from a few dummy endings actually goes on for the best part of seven minutes. Atypical backing vocals too.

Blimey, if you'd asked me off the top of my head, I'd have said that album was relatively recent. Tempus fugit, eh?

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Sunday shorts: I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist

It's a good job I only came across this song in my fifties. If I had heard it in 1988, when it came out, I probably would have spent an inordinate amount of time with a notebook in one hand and acoustic guitar in the other, writing out the lyrics and working out the chords. Because, of course, it would have spoken to me, forever smitten with unobtainable girls as I was back then. But I can't recall ever hearing of Another Sunny Day back then, even though this apparently got to number twelve in the indie chart for them. Oh well. Lost time, and all that.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Twenty-two in '22: Kiss Kiss

I've set myself modest reading targets in each of the last three years and failed every time (I managed 17 books in '19, 11 in '20 and 18 in '21), so I'm determined to read twenty two books in 2022. I'll review them all here.

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

4/22: Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

The blurb: In Kiss Kiss you will find eleven devious, shocking stories from the master of the unpredictable, Roald Dahl.

What could go wrong when a wife pawns the mink coat that her lover gave her as a parting gift? What happens when a priceless piece of furniture is the subject of a deceitful bargain? Can a wronged woman take revenge on her dead husband?

In these dark, disturbing stories Roald Dahl explores the sinister side of human nature: the cunning, sly, selfish part of each of us that leads us into the territory of the unexpected and unsettling. Stylish, macabre and haunting, these tales will leave you with a delicious feeling of unease.

The review: first off, I'm aware of the criticisms of Dahl that have emerged in recent years: racist, anti-Semite, misogynist. I'm not here to review the man though, and even if I was I'm not really sure how you can judge a man born in 1916 by today's standards. Maybe it's just as well that I'm only here to review the book.

Lucky for us all, then, that it's a fine book. Eleven short stories, all told with the relaxed prose style and eye for detail that made his children's fiction so memorable. But these are very much stories for adults. One of Dahl's "rules" for his stories was that bad things happen and they certainly do here, ranging from the "Oh no!" variety right through to the murderous. Lovers of a twist ending will be well sated by this collection, and it will come as no surprise to learn that many of the stories featured here made it onto television as Tales of the Unexpected.

Some of the more memorable Tales featured here include William and Mary, the excellent Way Up To Heaven and the darkly comic Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, all of which his detractors might say shine a light on, if not misogyny, then at least Dahl's unusual perspective on women. But that's rubbish, frankly; they provide an equally skewed view of men (especially in Edward the Conqueror). Maybe he was a misanthrope, rather than a misogynist.

Whatever. There's dark humour here too, none more so than in Parson's Pleasure, and the plain unsettling - I remember Royal Jelly vividly from the television adaptation, and it is equally effective on paper. And interestingly, the book ends with a short story entitled Champion of the World, wherein lies the kernel of an idea that, sixteen years after this was written, would grow into the children's novel Danny, the Champion of the World, my favourite as a kid.

I should give a special mention to The Landlady, which open this collection; what started life as Dahl's attempt to write a ghost story ended up without a supernatural aspect, but ticks every other Tales of the Unexpected criteria: macabre, unsettling, and with an uneasy twist ending. From a writer's perspective, it's an object lesson, with detail drip-fed, a real sense of place, and only as much detail as is necessary. A joy to read too, albeit a dark joy that lingers long in the mind...

What else can I tell you? Some of these tales may feel a little dated in setting and dialogue, but the essentials plots and themes are timeless. Dahl knew his way around a short story, and the eleven contained herein demonstrate that time after time. A harsh critic might argue that some of the twist endings are telegraphed a little too much, but really that's just about the only criticism of this collection ... and it is being harsh. There is so much to enjoy here, and so what if you guessed an ending - well done you. It was still fun getting there though, wasn't it?

The bottom line: a short-story masterclass that will suit anyone with a taste for the unsettling or macabre, and lovers of twist endings.

Since everything online is rated these days: ★★★★★☆

Friday, 1 April 2022

I wish this was an April Fool

From today, the unit cost of electricity from my energy supplier goes up 40%. The unit cost of my gas goes up 81%. And of course the standing charges go up too, a frankly incomprehensible 58% and 4% respectively.

I know I'm far from alone in suddenly feeling boracic, but this is messed up, isn't it? Especially when you compare the pitiful so-called help from Sunak to the government responses in France and elsewhere in the EU.

Here's an old Panic Brothers track in a futile attempt to make me feel better that ultimately makes me feel worse.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

More new to NA ... but quite old actually

I heard this on 6 Music earlier in the week, on Gideon Coe's show. "Ooh, I like that," thought I, "I wonder who it's by?"

Turns out it's Red Sleeping Beauty by McCarthy, who Wikipedia describes as "a British indie pop band, formed in Barking, Greater London ... [that] mixed a melodic style, dominated by ... 12-string guitar playing, with ... overtly political lyrics, often satirical in tone, which reflected the band's far-left leanings."

Oh, and they formed in 1984, and released this single in 1986, so new to me but not new at all. Whatever. I might be very late to the picnic, but I quite like this.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

That's a lie. You're a liar.

As a few fines start to get dished out, it's important to remember that a leader's behaviour, attitudes and principles set the tone for their organisation. That's true whether the organisation is a political party, a government or a nation. Whatever the outcome, don't forget this, and don't forget Johnson's chronic mendacity.

Johnson is a chronic liar

I had the album the following comes from, 1989's Son of Sam I Am by Too Much Joy, on vinyl, bought on a whim in Parrot Records because it was reduced to clear. Think I might have taped The Man of Cheese a copy, I wonder if he remembers it? Anyway, this track, for all its musical shortomings, fits our glorious leader well.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Super-short gig reviews

Went to see this old man live at the weekend, for what I think was the seventh or possibly eighth time. It was very good. He played quite a few songs from one of his old bands, and a couple by the other. The place was absolutely rammed, as full as I can remember. Oh, and there ought to be a collective noun for a gathering of middle-aged mods. Anyway, he's brilliant, see him live anywhere you can. Here endeth the review.

Paul Weller Setlist Nick Rayns LCR, UEA, Norwich, England 2022

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Koka Kola

They packed a lot of lyrics into these 109 seconds... and they're not about the sugary beverage that comes in red cans...

Friday, 25 March 2022

Blue Friday: The Book of Love

I wrote a post last month about This Is Going To Hurt, the TV adaptation of Adam Kay's bestselling book. I wrote at the time that everything looked set fair for the Beeb's version and, having since watched the whole series, I'm happy to report that my forecast was accurate. There were changes from the book, but these were probably necessary; fortunately, the TV version found a different way to be heartbreaking. And that's important because, whilst the series might have received criticism from some for being too bleak, and with too little humour to offset the darkness, I think it's important that the key message of Kay's book is preserved: the NHS is full of brilliant, talented, dedicated people, working hard to look after us all, often in trying and underfunded circumstances, often working ridiculous hours under enormous pressure. All of this was true before COVID; I dread to think what a pressure cooker an acute hospital must be at the moment. And this takes its toll; in real life, the unrelenting pressure became too much for Kay, and he reluctantly walked away. In the TV adaptation ... well, no spoilers. But an astonishing statistic comes out towards the end that I can't attribute to a published source but have no reason to doubt: one doctor takes their own life in this country every three weeks. Every. Three. Weeks. This is the effect of what the dramatised version of Kay describes as working "in a broken system, under shoddy conditions." I could turn this post into a political piece about how this government are after the NHS, through years of chronic underfunding and privatisation by stealth, contracting bits out to their mates ... but you know that already. Just be ready for them, that's all I need to say on that. The NHS should be sacrosanct but, under this administration, isn't.

Anyway, my first post about this TV series enthused about the excellent soundtrack, and that has been very good throughout. The last episode featured this beauty, from The Magnetic Fields. You might not think it a blue track, but it is to me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Unnecessary covers

This won't become a series, though it could easily. But it's prompted by hearing No Doubt's cover of It's My Life on the radio one day last week. I mean ... just, why? I've got nothing against Gwen and co but unless you're going to radically reimagine the song somehow, why bother trying to cover such a peerless, timeless classic? It's like playing chess against Garry Kasparov - you're not going to win.

You can go and search for the cover if you like, but I prefer to give Talk Talk's source material another airing:

How about you? What cover version makes you holler at the radio, "Just play the original!"? Or is it just me that does that?

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: Elvis Costello

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's back to episode 2 of series 2, broadcast 4th November 1983, and a performance from Elvis Costello that ran significantly past the end of the show. Here he is with Shipbuilding, Everyday I Write The Book, Clubland, Clowntime Is Over. After the show had finished, he carried on and played TKO too, but that's missing from this video I'm afraid.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Monday long song: I Will Possess Your Heart

We've all been there, haven't we? In love with someone who doesn't feel the same, no matter how hard you try to win them over? Well, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie knows. Are a four and a half minute intro, during which an ear-worm bassline and ever-growing percussion build a sense of expectation and unease, Gibbard launches into what, on the face of it, could be an ode to unrequited love and yearning, but strays uncomfortably close to stalker territory, with lines about seeing his reflection in the glass outside your apartment. Unsettling, memorable stuff; I will possess your heart, indeed.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Oxford Town

Early 60s Dylan song is short shocker! So what? Well, Oxford Town was composed in response to an open invitation from Broadside magazine for songs about one of the top news events of 1962: the enrollment of a black student, James Meredith, at the previously segregated University of Mississippi. Here's Marion Trikosko's photograph of James being escorted into the university by U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right).

James Meredith OleMiss.jpg

You can read more about James here, and also about the riots that his university enrolment sadly triggered.

As for the song competition, among other submissions the magazine received was Phil Ochs' Ballad of Oxford, Mississippi. But that's too long for a Sunday short, so here's Bob's effort, the lyrics to which were printed by Broadside in December 1962.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Blue Friday: Your House

There's a reason why Jagged Little Pill sold a pajillion copies - it's bloody good. I resisted it at the time, of course, being the parochial indie snob that I was1. Who was this young Canadian woman with a history of mainstream pop, suddenly going angsty, I thought? Popping up everywhere with her list of things that weren't actually ironic? As you can tell, I was unimpressed.

However...

I picked Pill up for 50p in a charity shop recently and it really does justify those pajillion sales (okay, 33 million and counting) - it's uniformly excellent, and has even aged well, if you can put the slew of lesser soundalikes it begat out of your head.

But anyway, Blue Friday. This is the hidden track from the end of original CD versions of the album, an a capella rendition which, like much of the album, deals with the pain of being betrayed in a relationship.

1 Was? Was?!

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Stop the world...

Here's another Ukraine benefit record. I know precisely zero about The Incurables, other than this which just popped up in my Bandcamp feed. And it's alright, actually, if you like 80s-vintage Buck Rickenbacker guitar lines and 70s-vintage Feargal Sharkey vocals, if he came from somewhere other than Derry. It's thirty seconds too long, but other than that, it has a jaunty, power pop sound that is totally at odds with the devastation wreaked by Mad Vlad's war. What more reason do you need? Here's the track; proceeds go to help provide humanitarian and medical aid in Ukraine.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: R.E.M.

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from episode 3 of series 4, broadcast 25th October 1985, and a second live performance on The Tube for R.E.M. ... Michael's in his dyed-blonde phase, and Peter and Bill have matching outfits (remember unbuttoned shirt sleeves like that?). Fables of the Reconstruction had only been out for four months, so it's no surprise to see Can't Get There From Here get an airing. I will go to Philomath one day...

Monday, 14 March 2022

Monday long song: Of All Places

I've been listening to The Holiday Crowd again lately. You should too; you could do a lot worse, you know.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Sunday shorts: The Letter

Apparently Alex Chilton was only 16 when they recorded this. Imagine that. His voice sounds older.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Remember that ICA?

90% of readers here probably read JC, aka The (New) Vinyl Villain too. So you all know about his Imaginary Compilation Album series, whereby he and guest contributors get to make fantasy playlists for their favourite artists, as - you've guessed it - imaginary compilation albums.

Way back when (okay, it was February 2017), I contributed one such ICA for a band that had not yet featured in the series: Radiohead. It's here, if you want to read what I rambled at the time. Anyway... given my suddenly renewed interest in creating mixes as streamable casts (or should that be castable streams?), I thought I'd have a go at turning that ICA into a nice seamless mix. So here it is, until such time as it gets DMCA'ed, I guess, complete with sleeve art. And stick around after the last song - the original ICA was only ten tracks, but maybe there's a hidden track on the end of this...

Rather have it as a download? Here you go.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Blue Friday: Pale Blue Eyes

Velvets cover by Athens' finest, recorded at the end of a long and, if sleevenotes are to be believed, alcohol-assisted session. Peter's woozy, bluesy solo testifies to that. Whatever, it's sad and lovely, is it not?

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

To cast or not to cast

It's getting on for nearly four years since I last did a mix like this (the below is from June 2018, and I was very excited about it at the time because it has some clunky cross-fading). Should I do some more? Or is it, like the blog as whole, just me shouting into the ambivalent ears of the world?

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: Furniture

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's something very special from episode 22 of series 4, broadcast 7th March 1986, Forget the intro from Paula, in which she looks like Princess Di's dirty sister, and concentrate instead on this beautiful performance of I Miss You and Brilliant Mind by Furniture, yet to release their excellent debut album The Wrong People. This is really a cut above your standard Friday teatime fare, then as now... despite two duff piano chords in the first song. Collect them both!

Monday, 7 March 2022

Monday long song: Radiation

This, by I Am Kloot, is from one of my favourite albums of the 21st Century, 2010's Sky At Night. I keep thinking about writing a post on the top X albums of the new millenium, but the longer I leave it the harder (and less relevant) that idea becomes. So in the meantime, here's a long song for your Monday, in the hope that Mad Vlad does not irradiate us any time soon.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Very Ape

In Utero might just be a better album than Nevermind. Don't @ me, as I believe the youth might say. But do comment your views below, if you like.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

A Gedge raffle to support Ukraine

A week ago last Thursday, I posted a track by Wedding Present spin-off The Ukrainians. Well, here's another thing in a similar light - David Gedge is running a raffle to win some terrific Ukrainians-themed prizes ... well, I'll let him explain, shall I?

Support the people of Ukraine and win yourself Wedding Present rarities!

Between 1987 and 1989 The Wedding Present, in a completely unforeseen move, famously recorded three sessions for John Peel performing Ukrainian folk music. For the recordings, which were as accomplished as they were surprising, the band was augmented by Roman Remeynes and [The Legendary] Len Liggins.

You can now purchase a download of one of those tracks, the seven and a half minute long classic, Verkhovyno, here.

All profits from this download will be donated to charities benefitting the Ukrainian people.

Not only that, each download comes with a free raffle ticket with which you could possibly win one of the prizes listed below. The download costs £1 but, if you pay more, you will be allocated more raffle tickets. For example, if you spend £10, ten raffle tickets will be allotted to you.

The prize draw will take place at 7PM GMT on Friday 11 March 2022.

The prizes

  1. An original 1989 pressing of the Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela 10” mini-LP. This is a copy of the rare Reception Records version which was never officially released. Signed by David Gedge.
  2. An original 1989 RCA Records pressing of the Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela 10” mini-LP. Signed by David Gedge.
  3. A "for-promotional-use-only" 7” single of two tracks from the sessions. Only a handful of these were ever pressed. Signed by David Gedge.

Lyrics

Verkhovyno is one of the most popular folk songs in Ukraine. It describes the natural beauty of Verkhovyna, which is both a village and a region in the stunning Carpathian Mountains. The area has a rich cultural and historical tradition and has now become a popular tourist destination for Ukrainians. The song describes a remote and peaceful place, where the waters of the River Cheremosh flow freely and happily. It is a metaphor for the peace that Ukrainians crave to this day, following a turbulent history of invasion, oppression and cultural suppression.

Verkhovyno

Oh, highlands, our world
Oh, how charming it is here
The waters play and time flows
Freely, noisily and happily
Oh, there is no boundary on these highlands!
I can walk there for at least an hour
From peak to peak and from wood to wood
With light thoughts in your heart
A gun in your belt and an axe in your hand
It can make a young man's blood soar!
River Cheremosh, River Cheremosh
Your waters run quickly!
Young girl from Verkhovyna
How exquisite is your beauty!
And I like that girl
Who is as white as a goose
She will kiss me
I only have to stay

Credits

Released March 4, 2022
Traditional, arranged Gedge (Copyright Control)
Performed by The Wedding Present
Recorded: 15 March 1988 at BBC Maida Vale Studio 4 (London, England)
First broadcast: 5 April 1988
Producer: Dale Griffin
Recording engineer: Mike Robinson
Mastering engineer: Xavi Alarcón

As if you need any more incentive, the track is an absolute belter, gathering speed in just the way you want a Ukrainian folk tune to gather speed. So what are you waiting for? Go and buy your raffle ticket!

Friday, 4 March 2022

Blue Friday: Slow Torture of an Hourly Wage

I know, I'm turning into something of a Reds, Pinks and Purples evangelist, but this is good, so ...

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

New Mornings

Resuming the aforementioned review and partial cull of my excessive CD collection, I came across a freebie CD entitled New Mornings that was originally cover-mounted on September 2013's Uncut magazine. Like most such CDs, it's a real mixed bag and, as it turns out, doesn't have enough about it to save it from being donated to the charity shop. However, there are a couple of songs notable for artists apparently channelling other artists. For starters, here's Period Piece by Lloyd Cole; it may be an original composition from his 2013 album Standards, but for all the world it sounds like the greatest Bob Dylan song The Byrds never covered. Doesn't it?

And then there's Forgive You, Forgive Me, from Stephen Kellogg's album Blunderstone Rookery. This is the only song by Kellogg I have, or have even heard, but I'd hazard a guess he's a Tom Petty fan... now this isn't the album version, but it's close enough for you to see what I mean.

Anyway, these are the best tracks on the album by a margin, but they're not enough to save it from the "going" pile. Going, going, gone.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: The Housemartins' Big Match special

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from episode 16 of series 4, broadcast 24th January 1986, and a filmed performance from The Housemartins, notable for its Big Match premise and an intro from none other than Saint and Greavsie. This is such a time capsule, and I don't just mean the Commer van they drive around in, or the football stadium and dressing room. "Housemartins AFC" get to spoof The Beatles' "Which top? The very top!" schtick, run through an a capella version of We Shall Not Be Moved, before a mimed performance of an early recording of We're Not Deep, notably different from the version that later appeared on deut album London 0 Hull 4 - all in all, solid bronze music television.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Monday long song: Mercy Street

So was huge for Peter Gabriel, wasn't it, on both sides of the Atlantic, powered along at first by the video-friendly hits Sledgehammer and Big Time, and then by the collaborations (Kate Bush on Don't Give Up and Youssou N’Dour on In Your Eyes). But this is tucked away on there too, and reminds me that Peter is worth revisiting when I have more time.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Blue Friday: The World Is Not Enough

"A Bond theme for Blue Friday?" I hear you ask. Well, yes. Partly to address the lack of Shirley Manson on this blog over the years but also, just take a butcher's at some of these lyrics:

I know how to hurt. I know how to heal.
I know what to show and what to conceal.
I know when to talk, and I know when to touch.
No one ever died from wanting too much.

[...]

People like us know how to survive.
There's no point in living if you can't feel alive.
We know when to kiss and we know when to kill.
If we can't have it all then nobody will.

[...]

I feel sick, I feel scared, I feel ready and yet unprepared.

The world is not enough but it is such a perfect place to start, my love,
And if you're strong enough, together we can take the world apart, my love...

Anyway, enough talk. Here's Shirley and co indulging all their Bond fantasies in a video that unkinder critics might describe as better than the film it accompanied... even if the idea of an exploding fembot is straight out of Austin Powers.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Королева Не Померла

You'd think, with pandemics and climate change providing enough existential threat already thank you very much, that war would not be something anyone would want. Yet here we are, with the barrel-chested Soviet throwback doing exactly what he wants and the West seemingly unable to do anything about it other than warn it was going to happen. Certainly our government, up to its grime-encrusted neck in oligarch donations, seems entirely powerless, immaterial and without purpose: neither use nor ornament, as my parents might say.

Whilst I hope for a swift return to peace in the Donbas, I don't see that happening, sadly. I thought war in Europe was consigned to the history books, but no. Awful, awful, awful.

I don't know how to end this post other than with a song from Peter Solowka's Ukrainians. You might recognise it.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Twenty-two in '22: Fallout

I've set myself modest reading targets in each of the last three years and failed every time (I managed 17 in '19, 11 in '20 and 18 in '21), so I'm determined to read 22 books in '22. I'll review them all here.

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

3/22: Fallout by Sadie Jones

The blurb: London 1972. Luke is dazzled by the city. It seems a world away from the provincial town he has fled along with his own troubled past, and his new life is unrecognisable – one of friendships forged in pubs, candlelit power cuts, and smoky late-night parties.

When Nina, a fragile and damaged actress, strays into his path, Luke is immediately drawn to her and the delicate balance of his new life is threatened. Unable to stay away from her, Luke is torn between loyalty, desire and his own painful past, until everything he values, even the promise of the future, is in danger…

The review: I'm trying to think when I last finished a book and had such a strong feeling of "God, I wish I'd written this." It hasn't happened for a long time - I think maybe Cormac McCarthy was the last author to prompt that sort of reaction in me, when I read No Country For Old Men. Anyway, I guess that's the TLDR: this book is so bloody good, I wish I'd written it myself. Or, at the very least, that I could write like this.

You've read the blurb, so let me add to it that Luke's "new life" is on the fringe of London's theatre scene, and Fallout is a rich evocation of that world, from the sex-comedy farce of Soho, through the serious theatre of the West End and on to what would now be called start-ups, theatre in the margins. It's in the latter that Luke and his friends operate. Understandably, Luke's friends are not mentioned in the brief blurb, but Paul and Leigh, a couple who are themselves embedded in the theatre, are so important to the story. The changing nature of the triangle between these three is delicately played out by Jones over the course of the book; that all three remain sympathetic throughout is testament to the storytelling prowess on display here.

Luke's relationship with Nina is cleverly teased from the outset too; they come so close to meeting before they eventually do, it is almost like they are star-crossed, destined to irreversibly change each other's lives. But are they destined to be together? Well, I want to avoid spoilers, as ever, but let's just say that this is a Sadie Jones novel, and she doesn't deal in the obvious or pat endings. Make of that what you will. What I will say is that the actual ending, which plays out like an epilogue, is very satisfying. Beyond that, you'll just have to read it all for yourself.

Also worthy of note is Jones's treatment of Luke's parents; they are scarcely in the book as active characters, especially his mother, who is basically only in the opening scene ... and yet they are there throughout, a brooding presence in Luke's life, a permanent blurring of his worldview. Not once does this feel repetitious, or clichéd, or a trope, so deftly is it written.

Talking of deft writing, the evocation of the early 70s feels spot on - I could see the cigarette smoke in every pub and bar, I could feel the damp on the walls, I was braced for unexpected power cuts. No WhatsApp messages or Facebook alerts for these characters - the book totally immerses you in a world where illicit liaisons were reliant on landline phonecalls, even having some change for the phone box. So complete is this evocation of the recent past that it became increasingly easy for me, as a contemporary reader, to turn off my phone, shut my laptop and go back to the early 1970s - how hard I found it to put the book down suggests I wanted to stay there too...

But of course the real story here, beyond the setting and the supporting cast, is that of love in all its many forms: idealised, platonic, lustful, doomed, familial, illicit, forbidden and destructive; love of a person, a place, a thing; and the most potent love of all, that which endures despite everything else. Is there anything that can be more dramatic, ecstatic or tragic than the fallout from such diverse, unplanned, unique loves?

I must also highlight the author's uncanny ability to say more in a sentence than some writers do in a paragraph, or even a page. You know that concept of le mot juste? Well Sadie has that nailed. Example, you say? Well, here's one character (I won't say who, for fear of spoilers) describing their partner's feelings for them: "Whose love was like someone completing a task they had set themselves." It's perfect, isn't it? You know exactly how person A sees B's love for them, how B sees it, and the sad resignation and defeat it all evokes in A. All from one line, twelve words, sixteen syllables. That's all it takes, if you can write with the economy, concision and accuracy of the prose on display here.

The bottom line: supremely well-written tale of love, lust, lies and liaisons, set against a beautifully-realised evocation of early 70s theatreland, and the best book I've read in an absolute age.

Since everything online is rated these days: ★★★★★★

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Just seventeen

As of today, this blog is legally old enough to drive. So here's a car song from before it was born. Video's worth watching for the last forty seconds alone.

No longer thinking of her back on the bonnet, Justine Frischmann lives in the US now, where she earns a crust as an award-winning artist of a different sort.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Monday long song: Paninaro

I'm not a huge Pet Shop Boys fan, but it's easy to overlook just how many hits they had, back in the day. And then there's this, Paninaro, originally a B-side to Suburbia. This remix, apparently released as a single in Italy, appeared on compilation Disco, which I had on cassette, way back when.

It's not hard to imagine that if, say, New Order had released this in 1986 it would be lionised now. As it is, I chiefly remember it for Chris Lowe's spoken ramble, mid-way through, in which he opines:

I don't like country & western.
I don't like rock music.
Erm, I don't like, I don't like rockabilly.
Rock'n'roll in particular.
I don't like much, really, do I?
But what I do like, I love passionately.

New Amusements Minor and I have adopted those last two lines as something of a mantra, of late. Anyway, here's the song:

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Friday, 18 February 2022

Blue Friday: Sad Eyes (live)

This is a very effective slice of melancholia from Natasha, aka Bat For Lashes.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Tube Tuesday: Bangles

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from episode 20 of series 3, broadcast 15th February 1985, and a live performance from The Bangles. Or just Bangles, as they were then. And yes, this is because I still have a bit of a thing for Susanna Hoffs, all these years later - no-one, no-one does microphone side-eye better than Susanna. But I digress. Here's the band before they got really famous, showing that they could rock a bit with three songs from their (excellent, since you ask) debut album All Over The Place: Hero Takes A Fall, Going Down To Liverpool and Tell Me.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Valentine schmalentine

This excellence is Let's Pretend We're Not In Love by The Reds, Pinks and Purples. I very much approve.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Sunday shorts: On a Good Day

A harp-led short for people who either don't buy into, or don't like, all the hearts and flowers of tomorrow.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

This is going to sound good

I watched the first episode of This Is Going To Hurt last night; it's based on Adam Kay's bestselling book, stars the always-excellent Ben Whishaw and details Kay's experiences as a junior doctor in the Obs and Gynae department of an acute hospital. Here's the trailer:

Now the book is excellent - funny, revealing and, in the end, heart-breaking. And Ben Whishaw has been excellent in A Very English Scandal, as Q in recent Bond movies and, of course, as the voice of Paddington. Everything looks set fair for this Beeb adaptation, in other words, and I'm pleased to report the first episode didn't disappoint.

I'm also pleased to report that, if the first hour is anything to go by, this series will have a cracking soundtrack. The headline-grabbing aspect of that is new music from one Jarvis Cocker, but the track that most caught my ear last night is this slice of late 60s stomp that I have somehow never heard before. So new to me was it that I first wondered whether it was a contemporary act doing a retro pastiche. But it's not - instead, it's Nobody But Me by The Human Beinz, from 1967/8, and it sounds like this:

Wikipedia tells me that The Human Beinz were a four-piece from Youngstown, Ohio, and that Nobody But Me was their only hit, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1968, six months after it was released. It also tells me that this song was used by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 but not included on the soundtrack, which might explain why I have no recollection of it.

Anyway, This Is Going To Hurt will be on again next Tuesday night at 9pm, and I recommend it highly. If you can't wait, you can already watch the whole series on iPlayer in one go, as seems to be the manner these days. But however you watch it, watch it.