The Decemberists - The Bagman's Gambit
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
As and when this happens, I'll log a post.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Several years ago, I came up with the theory that Tuesday is the most pointless day of the week.
Monday - well, you have to start somewhere
Wednesday - it's the middle of the week
Thursday - which means tomorrow's Friday
Friday - it's the end of the week
Saturday and Sunday - no work!
So that leaves Tuesday. What's the point of it?
(NB: this doesn't necessarily follow if you don't have a weekday job.)
Friday, November 1, 2013
Every Monday to Thursday evening, Phantom 105.2 has Richie and Richie, Messrs McCormack and Ryan. It's a great show, mainly because they play what they damned well like.
One feature, recycling the name of the previous evening show, is Your Key Cuts. Here a listener - or now including celebrities! - chooses two songs that mean something to them. Here's my shortlist:
The Beautiful South - Old Red Eyes Is Back
Yes, The Beautiful South. The band your mum likes. The band of 'Carry On Up The Charts' being in 1-in-7 UK homes. The band of cosy, Radio 2 friendly pop.
Paul Heaton is really deserving of more acclaim as a song writer. For nearly thirty years he has been penning sharp tales of love, pain, alcohol, politics, death, separation, sheep... from The Housemartins, through The Beautiful South and now into a solo career, he is one of Britain's finest lyricists. If anything, 'Carry On...' was an anomaly, its sustained success entirely out of proportion. (Indeed, the two number one singles he has been involved with, 'Caravan Of Love' and 'A Little Time', one first was a cover, the other was his composition but he didn't sing it.)
I was really into The Beautiful South while growing up. I know this ranks poorly in the teenage rebellion stakes, but my first gig was a small revelation. Tuesday 5 April 1994, Town and Country Club, Leeds. The nice, genteel image of the band - although go back and listen to the songs and hear the waspishness in the lyrics - contrasted with a large section the audience.
I became aware of 'NORTHERN SCUM' - the sarcastic opposite of Beautiful South - that adorned T-shirts and was chanted lustily by a crowd comprising a good number of men in their thirties and forties, who may or may not have renounced football hooliganism. (I later discovered that Heaton had hung around with Sheffield United's Blades Business Crew.)
The first song played was Mini-correct, from their newly released album Miaow. The lyric helped contribute to Briana Corrigan's leaving, being a borderline misogynistic tale of S&M in an abusive relationship. I vividly remember the whole hall being bathed in yellow as the stage lights rotated at the end of the first chorus.
About half way through, they played Old Red Eyes Is Back, that had been released as a single from previous album 0898. A story of a hopeless alcoholic, it's not the first song you think of that would cause pogoing and a tidal surge of bodies left and right across the floor.
I had been stood next to possibly the strangest pair in the audience - think The Two Ronnies portrayed by Gilbert and George - who stood impassively, expressionlessly, as chaos whirled around them. (I saw the taller one at several other concerts. He always carried a large satchel and wore a white/beige jumper.)
It may be that the surprise factor is no longer there, but I have not experienced that same burst of raucousness at a gig since.
Heaton is still writing, as acerbically as ever. No doubt the current coalition Government is providing much more grist to his mill.
Belle and Sebastian - Lazy Line Painter Jane
This is one of those songs that I know exactly what I was doing when I first heard it. I was in the car with my dad, one Saturday in June 1996. I'd just finished my first year at Warwick University and we were driving back to Yorkshire. We were listening to BBC Radio 1, Jo Whiley I think. (Yes, she's now a caricature of herself, but back then she still hosted the Evening Session with Steve Lamacq.)
The jangly guitar already hooked me, then the vocal starts:
Working the village shop
Putting a poster up
coming from a timid, almost bored sounding Scottish voice. And then Monica Doogan comes in....
So let's see your kit for games
All the girls look the same
What the hell is that? Brilliant, that's what.
It may also be a pebble splashing into the pool of my life, the ripples still being felt years later - maybe far-fetched, but let's go with it. Belle and Sebastian are Scottish, and were on an indie label. A little later, having the confidence and curiosity (and also the student loan!) to buy indie records, I bought The Delgados' album Peloton. They run Chemikal Underground, also home to Arab Strap, half of which is Malcolm Middleton. I own none of his records, but knowing a handful of Arab Strap songs, I go to a gig of his, where I meet and fall in love with a girl, with whom I now have a daughter.
Half Man Half Biscuit - Took Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show
I had heard of HMHB - usually in an article that dismissed them as a comedy band. The typical HMHB clichés go: Tranmere fans, don't play on Friday nights, refused appearance on The Tube despite offer of a helicopter to Prenton Park, humorous lyrics like a Wirral version of The Barron Knights, Dukla Prague away kits...
This was the first HMHB track that I listened to, on a cover CD of Word magazine. (It may still have had 'The' in the title at that point.)
Within seconds, I was a fan. This wasn't a novelty band playing another comedy song that was a lame parody, but a genuinely funny, satirical attack on consumerism, London's Earls Court, crap DIY TV shows, Neanderthal security guards and Carols Vorderman and Smillie. Including a bloody great bass line and a bleepy keyboard.
The Beatles - Paperback Writer
As I get older, I'm becoming more certain that this is the greatest Beatles song, and possibly the best pop song ever written. Recorded in two days, as part of the Revolver sessions, in the shops eight weeks later (six in the US!) and number one shortly afterwards. That makes most modern bands look like slackers.
It's short - a tad under two and a half minutes - but it packs a lot in, including Frere Jacques behind the last two verses.
I just wish Macca had played it at the Olympics instead of another interminable take on Hey Jude.
There are more - narrowing it down to two would be difficult.