Tuesday 27 September 2022

Recycled earworms

Suede have a new album out, Autofiction. They describe it as their punk album, which I think it stretching things a little but it is a faster, heavier sound than most of the output from their Indian summer. What I can tell you is that it continues their strong run of new albums and, for my money, might just be their best Bernard-less album. But that's not what I want to talk about.

Instead, let's focus on track one, side one, the excellent She Still Leads Me On; in my view, this is the best song on the album, helped in no small part by an invasive earworm of a guitar part, a deceptively simple motif that grabs you and doesn't let go - see what you think.

Of course, that guitar line is so catchy, it's almost like I've known it for ever. And in a way, I have - well, for 40-odd years anyway. Because whilst it's not exactly the same, there's certainly enough there to remind me of this...

What do you think? Or am I hearing things that aren't there? Either way, two bustin' songs, as Amusements Minor would say.

Friday 23 September 2022

Twenty-two in '22: Ramble Book

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.

Ramble Book by Adam Buxton

10/22: Ramble Book by Adam Buxton

The blurb: The long-awaited, rambling, tender, and very funny memoir from Adam Buxton


  1. walk for pleasure in the countryside.
    'Dr Buckles and Rosie the dog love rambling in the countryside.'
  2. talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.
    'Adam rambles on about lots of consequential, compelling and personal matters in his tender, insightful, hilarious and totally unconfused memoir, Ramble Book.'
Ramble Book is about parenthood, boarding school trauma, arguing with your partner, bad parties, confrontations on trains, friendship, wanting to fit in, growing up in the 80s, dead dads, teenage sexual anxiety, failed artistic endeavours, being a David Bowie fan; and how everything you read, watch and listen to as a child forms a part of the adult you become. It’s also a book about the joys of going off topic and letting your mind wander.

The review: I've started a lot of past book reviews by saying that I'm predisposed to liking X or Y because I am a long-time fan of the author and have enjoyed their other work. Well, that's not the case here. It's not that I'm not a fan of Buxton, its just that I haven't really consumed much, if anything, of his previous output - not TV, not podcasts, nothing, save for his Cobbler Bob YouTube video. I don't know how I've got to this point in my life without The Adam and Joe Show, for example - thinking back, I think it struck a chord with people just a couple of years younger than me - and I was very slow to embrace podcasts. Anyway, for whatever reason I was not up to speed on Buxton or anything he's done previously. So why did I feel the need to pick up this book?

Well, on the simplest level it was the tagline: "Musings on childhood, friendship, family and 80s pop culture." Buxton would have been two years above me at school, age-wise, and so I figured his musings on all those things might be close enough to mine to make for an interesting read. And I was right.

Sure, there are plenty of differences between Adam's life and mine that might have made his nostalgic ramblings of less interest: he went to public school, and fixated on Bowie and Star Wars, for starters, all different to me. But he captures the essential experience of growing up in the 70s and 80s very well, and of course that's relatable.

What this book's blurb doesn't make enough of, though, is the family aspect of Buxton's rambles. There are very entertaining diversions into the mechanics of his married life, framed as lists of things he and his wife have argued about. That's relatable too, of course, even if, like me, you're not actually married. But the real heart of this book, beyond detailing the author's reaction to each new Bowie album or the relative merits of The Empire Strikes Back, is Adam's complicated relationship with his father. This is gently explored throughout the book, from recollections of an austere, slightly remote figure in the author's childhood who was, unbeknownst to Buxton at the time, crippling himself financially to educate the kids privately, to the subsequent integration of "BaadDad" into Adam and Joe's TV work, right through to his father moving in with Adam's family in his last months, waiting to die. Its all there, sometimes between the lines, but all there. It's the most affecting aspect of the book.

A note on the format - it's not called Ramble Book for nothing. Buxton breaks his narrative flow at the drop of a hat to go off on tangential rambles, preferring these to be in boxes within the main text rather than in footnotes. That might sound potentially annoying but it works, and lends the book a conversational air.

I can't say this has turned me into an Adam Buxton fan - I don't feel the need to suddenly subscribe to everything he does, or scour YouTube to take in his back catalogue - but I did enjoy this book. I think anyone of a broadly similar age would too, as would anyone who has made the transition from child to parent, and whose own parent is now in the child role. That probably sounds a bit deep, a bit serious for what is a fairly light-hearted, entertaining book... but it's true.

The bottom line: nostalgia-fest for readers of a certain vintage, with some pathos peaking out from between the rambles.

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

Friday 9 September 2022

Blue Friday: Disappointed

So many of my posts this year have just been one or two lines of perfunctory introduction followed by an embedded YouTube video ... much like this one. It's almost like I've run out of words, and in doing so become everything I once railed against. You would have every right to feel disappointed with New Amusements this year - I certainly have been.

Anyway, here's an appropriate song. I know that he is persona non grata around much (most) of the blogosphere these days but oh, when he was good...

All change

I had a different post scheduled for this morning, specifically a Blue Friday entry that built on the last eight days' posts. But the tone of it doesn't suit events at Balmoral, so I've deferred that post for a few hours.

Whether you're a monarchist or a republican or, like me, somewhere in-between, I think we can probably all agree that in an unimaginable role that she neither wanted nor chose, Elizabeth did pretty well. And even in the last year, in grief and frailty, and whilst others were partying, she reminded us all what a true leader looks like.


Thursday 8 September 2022

Beat Surrender

Paul looks lost without a guitar, but happy, no doubt with one eye on the future. Rick and Bruce probably also have their eyes on a different future, which may be why both look miserable as sin. "And as it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end..."

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Not new to NA: Gene

I don't have the stats to hand to back this up, but I think the band I have featured most on this blog over the years is this lot of handsome devils (just shading The Jam, The Smiths, The Wedding Present and R.E.M.). And with good cause. Mind you, I say "this lot", but it's not like you see them in this video. Oh well - Gene: they could have been kings, you know. To me, they were.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

About Colin

I'm not sure that Colin Moulding gets the credit he deserves. Sure, XTC bandmate Andy Partridge is the more prolific, and better known, songwriter, but bassist Colin wrote the band's first three charting UK singles, Life Begins at the Hop, Making Plans for Nigel and Generals and Majors. He also wrote this slice of excellence, Dying, from the 1986 album Skylarking.

Monday 5 September 2022

Monday long song: Moments of Pleasure

Kate had a bit of a resurgence earlier in the year, thanks to Stranger Things. Odd that parts of this video look like they were filmed in the Upside Down.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Sunday shorts: For Tim Collins

Okay, I know that technically this song is about eight seconds too long to qualify, as it drifts just over the two minute mark. But since this is the song I started the Sunday shorts theme for in the first place I suppose I really ought to feature it - if not now, when? So here's some instrumental Blue Aeroplanes.

Saturday 3 September 2022

Great moments in music video history #9: Some Better Day

John Simm gets a surprise around the 1:54 mark, and we all get something in our eyes. The subject matter of Some Better Day could make for a depressing song but it becomes borderline uplifting in I Am Kloot's hands.

Friday 2 September 2022

Blue Friday: Lost Cause

A YouTube commenter nailed it best when they said, "I love Hip-Hop Beck, Electronic Beck, Funk Beck and Rock Beck, but Folk Beck is his ultimate form."

Thursday 1 September 2022