Saturday, April 30, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 30

day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year

Haven't the foggiest. My plans for a disco diary, where I list in painstaking detail every song listened to, with marks out of ten for the track, the video and the artwork for the album cover went by the wayside around about the same time my Boy George T Shirt finally fell apart* in the wash. I've instead had to resort to rescuing our old computer from the back of the closet, plugging it in and firing up iTunes.

It tells me that I listened to not one but three tracks on the 30th April, 2010. I just can't work out if they are my favourite songs from this time last year or the favourite songs of the iTunes shuffle.

If nothing else, it turns out that iTunes and me are both 80s pop kids.

Now where did I put that The Next 30 Day Song Challenge?

*That T Shirt finally fell apart in the autumn of 1985.

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (Longman Caribbean Writers 1956)

'The trouble with you,' Galahad say, 'is that you want a holiday. Why you don't take a trip to Berlin or Moscow? Listen, I hear the Party giving free trips to the boys to go to different cities on the continent, with no strings attached, you don't have to join up or anything.'

'Who tell you so?'

'I get a wire. I hear two students went, and they say they had a sharp time, over there not like London at all, the people greeting you with open arms. Why you don't contact the Party?'

Friday, April 29, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 29

day 29 - a song from your childhood

It's only from watching BBC4's repeats of 1976 episodes of Top of the Pops in recent weeks that I realised that this song is indelibly scorched into my memory bank from when I was a kid.

I still think it's catchy after all these years, Owen tries to copy the choreography and if it weren't for the fact that Kara's eight months pregnant she'd leap from the window screaming in horror.

A real family friendly tune.

'Some of us still swear by that Lenin and Dick Francis joke'

If you're not on Jimmy's long list I think you're on the wrong blog:

"I thought support might be difficult." Wonderful.

Hat tip to Andy over at Ghost of a Ne'er do Well blog for bringing this brilliant clip to my attention.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 28

day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty

I'm confused. Isn't this just a retread of the question for day 13?

Why would you feel guilty about a song? Maybe Mark Chapman has a pang of conscience listening to Double Fantasy but the rest of us? It is self-evident that whoever compiled these questions just ran out of steam towards the end. It's the Sparkle In The Rain of pop music memes.

A google search of "day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty" doesn't really help. Clicking on a few links at random indicates that most people are just as bewildered as me by the question.

OK, I've already done the guilty pleasure pick so Hefner's 'The Day That Thatcher Dies' is just pure guilt on my part. Of course I'll play it at high volume come that particular day but as Hefner's Darren Hayman sings:

'We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies,

Even though we know it's not right,'

Speed the day and the guilt.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 27

day 27 - a song that you wish you could play

Always loved the guitar part on this post-punk classic:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 26

day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument

I could spin you a yarn but the truth of the matter is that I can't play diddly - Bo or otherwise.

As I feel that I'm coming down with a bit of a cough, I guess I could do a decent rendition of the previously mentioned:

Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - day 25

day 25 - a song that makes you laugh

Don't laugh, this is a great song.

In fact all the songs from that musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are pretty darn wonderful. According to wiki - and who am I to doubt what a geek writes on wiki - the show's creator, Joss Wheedon, wrote the score from scratch, never having written a song before. Even if you're not a fan of Buffy, you have to check out that episode if you can. You'll love it. That's a blog guarantee.

This songs makes me laugh for two reasons:

  • Forty seconds into the clip, when the demons do the sideways shuffle, well Owen re-enacts it every time.
  • And, one minute into the clip, when the rescued pretty boy sings '"how can I repay you?', and Buffy shots him down with a bored seen-it-all-before 'Whatever'.
  • Sadly the sound quality of the uploaded video doesn't really do the song justice.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 24

    day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral

    What do I care? I'm not going to be there.

    Maybe this *cough* classic - just to be annoying and pretentious in equal measures:

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    The Other Guys (2010)

    Studs Terkel: A Life In Words by Tony Parker (Henry Holt and Company 1996)

    It didn't take her long when I asked her for her recollections about poverty and unemployment in the twenties to start in about the 1926 General Strike. She was in London at that time and she was a girl of twenty-five. And as she told it, tears started to run down her cheeks, real tears. She said "Seeing all those people standing at street corners, no work for them, no money to buy food with, oh it was terrible, it broke your heart, it was so sad." Then she said "Wherever you went in London on the buses you know, you saw it everywhere, north of the river, south of the river, in the West End and the East End, it was all exactly the same." I said "But how come you could see them in so many places from the buses, weren't the buses on strike too?" "Oh yes" she said, "only like all the other young people, you know, me and my friends, we all volunteered to drive the buses to keep them running. Everyone needed them to get around, you see, you couldn't just let London come to a standstill, could you?" And all the guys with me you know, the camera crew and the soundmen and the lighting guys, they're all trade unionists, aren't they? They couldn't work in those jobs if they didn't belong to the different technicians' unions: I don't have to look around, I could hear the sound of the hair bristling up on the backs of their necks. And there she is, still crying and sniffing into her handkerchief and saying: "Oh all those poor people, seeing them looking so without hope like that, it was so sad, so sad." . . .

    Boy, you've heard the expression "dumbstruck"? Well, every one of us, every single one, were struck dumb. We filed out of there without a word, and with her "Good-bye. Good-byyyee!" from the bedroom getting fainter and fainter in the background as we went down the stairs. Whether the television company ever included that interview in the series I wouldn't know. I shouldn't think they did, what with my incredulous questions, and I guess the film shaking more and more while the cameraman was shooting.

    Memories of England, eh . . . ? Oh boy!

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 23

    day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding

    Already been married for a few years now, but for obvious reasons - obvious to us, anyway - it should have been this song:

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 22

    day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad

    Another day, another bullsh- . . . oh, wait, I've used that line already. And, anyway, isn't this question just this question by any other name?

    I guess there's a certain melancholy to Edwyn Collins's 'Low Expectations' which fits in with a blue mood:

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Woman in The Dark by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage Crime 1933)

    Robson said: "We are going now. Fraulein Fischer's going with us."

    Brazil was looking at the dead dog, annoyance deepening in his copperish eyes. "That's all right if she wants to," he said indifferently.

    The woman said: "I am not going."

    Brazil was still looking at the dog. "That's all right too," he muttered, and with more interest: "But who did this?" He walked over to the dog and prodded its head with his foot. "Blood all over the floor," he grumbled.

    Then, without raising his head, without the slightest shifting of balance or stiffening of his body, he drove his right fist up into Conroy's handsome, drunken face.

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 21

    day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy

    Another day, another bullshit question in the 30 day song challenge. I really should read the small print next time, cos some of these questions are absolutely bloody woeful.

    I've racked my brain, and it - the brain - has brought you Le Tigre's 'Hot Topic':

    I can't - hand on heart - write that I play this when I'm happy, but I'm all the happier after hearing it . . . and it's cheered me up no end after having to deal with this bullshit question.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Winter's Bone (2010)

    Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (Arrow Books 1934)

    'Who are you?'

    'Sergeant Voules, sir.'

    I opened the door. It was pretty dark outside, but I could recognize the arm of the Law all right. This Voules was a bird built rather on the lines of the Albert Hall, round in the middle and not much above. He always looked to me as if Nature had really intended to make two police sergeants and had forgotten to split them up.

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 20

    day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry

    As featured on the SPGB Glastonbury 2003 Mix CD, and still one of the best rap records of all time:

    Who am I kidding? I don't listen to music when I'm angry. I sulk and pout in silence before retiring to a shadowed corner with my John Terry voodoo doll and a box of thumb tacks.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 19

    day 19 - a song from your favorite album

    I've not listened to this album in the longest time but I still think it edges as my all time favourite album. And 'Show Me' is one of the great opening album tracks.


    Listened to it again - as an album - for the first time in years. It still stands up as a brilliant album from a wonderful era of music. Shame that they never reached those heady heights again.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 18

    day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio

    Originally released in 2006, it should have been that year's sound of the summer but - and I'm hazarding a guess here - lack of radio play meant it never reached its intended audience. If ever a song earned the right to be played on the radio, it was this one.

    I still hold out the hope that one day it'll be the beneficiary of a Facebook type campaign and it becomes the number one it so richly deserves. Maybe with 'Cocaine Socialism' as the b-side. (My dreams are still coated in vinyl.)

    Such is the world we live in, I can't see the lyrics becoming redundant any time soon. :

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 17

    day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio

    Do people still listen to the radio? To my shame, I don't listen to the radio much these days . . . and that, no doubt, explains why my music taste is stuck on a permanent playlist loop circa 1981.

    I knew this question was creeping up so I've been listening to East Village Radio these past few days and this track caught my ear via Mike Joyce's Coalition Chart show:

    Very Vega and Rev, if you know what I mean.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Bucket of Tongues by Duncan McLean (W. W Norton 1992)

    Open the door and out, out and away, he doesn't mind, he doesn't care: time for a cup of tea before the next victim. Hope it's that lassie with the screaming infants ya bass. Through the waiting-room: those about to, we salute you. Somebody reading a book for fuck's sake, bad move, looks like a student: get to the back of the queue wanker, make way for the genuine article, you'll get a grant cheque in three months anyway, whadya needa giro for? Totally unjustified assumptions there, totally unfair one is being, but who can blame one? I blame society. Down the stair and out into the rain. Which has now stopped. I blame sobriety: if I could be drunk more often, or maybe all the time . . . but in this day and age thirty-seven pence purchases absolutely no alcoholic beverage of any amount or kind whatsoever, except for those wee bottles of Dutch lager well there you go my point proven, except in France or Spain of course where you can take your billycan along to the vineyard and they'll pour out the vino for you straight from the fucking tap, what a place, and no need for a roof over your head either: sleep rough without your extremities turning blue.

    (from 'Loaves and Fishes, Nah')

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 16

    day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate

    I don't actually remember loving this song but it was on my favourite mixtape from the early 90s, so I must have really liked it at some point:

    Never the greatest REM song to begin with, it suffered the fate of being played to death absolutely everywhere back in '92 and, for a period of time, being the song of choice for tv editors and producers when producing mawkish video montages.

    What banged the final nail into the song's coffin was that godawful video. The wiki page informs us that the storyboard of the video was inspired by a Fellini classic, but what it really needed was this bloke to step into the frame and liven up proceedings.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 15

    day 15 - a song that describes you

    Once upon a time it would have been The The's 'This Is The Day' but twenty five years on that song's selling M & M's, and I've just shifted my carcass over to another song from Matt Johnson's back catalogue.

    I'm just too bastard obvious:

    One of the great harmonica solos in pop music, btw.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 14

    day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love

    Muzzy, wherever you are - it appears it's just you and an Amazonian Indian tribe who are not on facebook - cheers for introducing me to this classic back in '83:

    Thank christ Paul Di'Anno left Iron Maiden in '81. If he stuck around, I might have been wearing a faded denim jacket with assorted patches for the next 25 years.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 13

    ‎day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure

    I don't really believe in guilty pleasures when it comes to music. If you love it, it doesn't matter what the muso police think but - for the purposes of this music meme - I guess some other people would mark this pop classic from Steps as a guilty pleasure:

    The people from Planet Steps wouldn't let me embed the actual video on the video, which is a shame 'cos it has a certain awfulness that you can't help but be sucked into.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 12

    day 12 - a song from a band you hate

  • Because of their decade and half of ridiculous gurning in videos . . .
  • Because punk should never be so poppy that it has Miley Cyrus retching . . .
  • Because their song, American Idiot, makes me want to take out American citizenship and vote for Michelle Bachmann . . .
  • Because Bon Jovi or the Beastie Boys would have been too obvious a choice for day 12 . . .
  • Because I'm bemused by that Stiff Little Fingers comparison in the film, High Fidelity.
  • Monday, April 11, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 11

    day 11 - a song from your favorite band

    I'd be kidding myself on if I picked any other band for day 11.

    One of their less celebrated songs from the fag end of their career:

    Noel Gallagher gets it right again and again when discussing The Smiths.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 10

    day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep

    Once upon a time I used to fall asleep to this tune all the time:

    The end credits, of course.

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 09

    day 09 - a song that you can dance to

    I've been known to tap my toes to this one:

    That You Tube clip has only been viewed 13.6 million times. What's wrong with the world?

    Friday, April 08, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 08

    day 08 - a song that you know all the words to

    I guess on a good day I know the words to tons of songs (though not always the singer of the song) but this was one that immediately popped into my head. I guess I'm going through a Matt Johnson phase at the moment:

    Still think that 51st State line is cheesy, though.

    Rosa by Jonathan Rabb (Random House 2005)

    Pimm bobbed his head as if conceding the point. He then took a towel and wiped his face. When he spoke, it was with a focus that was wholly unexpected: "The reason so many of you Reds are Jews, Herr Spartakus, is that a Jew is told to create heaven on earth. The next world, messiahs, fear of hell - never really been the point, has it? The Jew is meant to do it here, now. And the ones who get tired of waiting become Reds because for them, socialism is heaven on earth. The perfect world, and with no God telling them what to do this time. Everyone just as good as the rest. Everyone looking out for the rest. The Red can't tell you how you're supposed to get there - in fact, all he can tell you is what you're not supposed to do and what won't be there - but, still, he thinks he can build it. Sounds familiar, does it?" Pimm paused. "Your Red never loses what makes him a Jew; he simply shifts his focus." Pimm held Jogiches's gaze and then he turned to Hoffner. "You've get my help, Inspector, not because it's good for business, or because the devil I know is better than the devil I don't, but because even if nothing else of what you're saying is true, I have no interest in having one more lunatic tell me what my elimination is part of his grand plan." He shouted to the door. "Zenlo." The man appeared instantly. "We're going east. Tell the boys."

    Pimm a Jew and a political one at that, thought Hoffner: the world was full of surprises. At least this one was working in their favour.

    Thursday, April 07, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 07

    day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event

    May 9th, 1998, London.

    Conway Hall packed to the rafters with the Ken Livingstone Fan Club and Socialist Register subscribers to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto (. . . and sundry European revolutions from that same year.)

    Speakers and performers on the night included Sheila Rowbotham, Harriet Walter, Julie Christie, Tony Garnett . . . and the woman who played Michelle Fowler's landlady in Eastenders.

    It was all going swimmingly until this song kicked and 800 bemused souls couldn't work out if they were supposed to sing the Billy Bragg version or the original lyrics. I just mumbled along in a half-hearted fashion, whilst the bloke next to me raised his fist like it was 1899.

    Sadly, none of us on the night could swing it like Tony Babino does:

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 06

    day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere

    Reminds me of the 10 to 6 night shift at Hemel's BOC Transhield in the mid-nineties. Every night without fail the local crappy radio station would play the full length version of this song just after the 3am news:

    What was it that the DJ needed to do for 8 or 9 minutes every night at a few minutes past 3 in the morning . . . and why couldn't he occasionally do it to this classic instead?

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 04

    day 04 - a song that makes you sad

    It can only be one song: Eric Bogle's 'Romeo And Juliet In Sarajevo'. This wiki link provides the background to this tragic true story.

    Unfortunately I couldn't find a You Tube link for the song so, as it's fairly obscure song, I've uploaded it on the page so you can hear the song for yourself:

    Revisiting A thru' Z

    Just stumbled across this old book meme on the blog and I thought I'd give it a second go. First time round was nearly three years ago, and I have caught the reading bug again in recent years.

    A recap of rules for those too bastard lazy to click on the above link:

    "A book meme - I guess - that I shamelessly nicked from Normski over at Normblog. It "involves going through the alphabet and picking, for each letter, a novelist and one of his or her novels that you've read.""

    Take a Q:

  • Archer, Jeffrey - First Among Equals
  • Bainbridge, Beryl - Young Adolf
  • Calvino, Italo - The Path to the Spiders' Nest
  • Doctorow, E.L. - World's Fair
  • Ellroy, James - L.A. Confidential
  • Fante, John - Ask The Dust
  • Gibbon, Lewis Grassic - Spartacus
  • Hird, Laura - Born Free
  • Irving, John - Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
  • Jenkins, Robin - The Thistle and the Grail
  • Kelman, James - The Busconductor Hines
  • Litt, Toby - Beatniks
  • McCabe, Brian - The Other McCoy
  • Nobbs, David - Second From Last in the Sack Race
  • Owens, Agnes - Gentlemen of the West
  • Pennac, Daniel - The Fairy Gunmother
  • Q - passed (again)
  • Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet On The Western Front
  • Spence, Alan - The Magic Flute
  • Tey, Josephine - The Daughter of TIme
  • Unsworth, Barry - Sugar and Rum
  • Vonnegut, Kurt - Hocus Pocus
  • Williams, Gordon M - From Scenes Like These
  • X - passed (again)
  • Yurick, Sol - The Warriors
  • Z - pass
  • Once again I fail with the letters Q and X. There are about 20 Quinns' listed over at Fantastic Fiction. I'll just have to do a smash and grab. And the only way I'll be able to fill out the X if and when I do the meme for the third time - pencilled in for sometime in 2014 - is if I develop a taste for Chinese literature between now and then. The Z is sorted. Just have to hunt down a copy of The Islanders.

    I'd love to tag someone with this meme but everyone's buggered off to Facebook or have the attention span of a tweet. So it goes.

    Sunday, April 03, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 03

    day 03 - a song that makes you happy

    Kevin Rowland looks pissed off as usual but the music in itself has an exuberance which can't help but make you smile:

    Honorable mentions go to . . . no, I can't mention them. They might come up later in the month.

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    30 Day Song Challenge - day 02

    day 02 - your least favorite song

    I'm not the angry young man I once was so picking a least favourite song was more difficult than I imagined.

    My decades long hatred of Bon Jovi's 'Living On A Prayer' melted away once I moved to the States and realised that Jon Bon Jovi didn't stand a chance. The poor swine's from New Jersey. He couldn't help myself. My loathing of the BritPop also rans such as the likes of Cast and The Seahorses is so all encompassing that I couldn't pick out the one song to hate above all others. Their combined back catalogues merge into one mass of mediocrity; and it's a cop out to hate a novelty hit or a charity comedy record. They're there to be shot at.

    Ten seconds before penning this post, this tuneless pious crock of happy clappy liberalism shite was stepping up for the gold medal - dishonorable mentions also go out to here and there - but I suddenly remembered that one particular song that I always hated above all others from the first moment I heard it. Twenty years on and it still raise the hackles.

    Step forward James, Ian, Derry, Mark and Zac:

    Number 1 in the US Charts back in '91, and still number one for me - but in a very different sense - all these years later.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    Neds (2010)

    April means the 30 Day Song Challenge

    From the other place.

    A music meme with a difference. Thirty days, thirty musical taste questions. If I had my blogging mojo switched on, I'd have activated a file sharing account but, in these blocked times, You Tube is my friend.

    day 01 - your favorite song

    Christ, kick off with the hard one. How can you have a favourite song? . . . or novel, film or Socialist Standard front cover, for that matter. If you're anything like me, you have 20 or 30 favourites, and you flip between them from month to month suiting the mood, the season or your angst level.

    Favourite song? How's my angst level? Ask me next week and it'll be something different but, at this moment in time, this old standard still does it for me every time. Probably listened to it over a thousand times, and I've never got sick of it.

    I'm cheating myself a bit with the embedding of The Tube video when, in truth, I first discovered the song via this performance on Top of the Pops.

    But surely you can watch both?