52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

will it really come?

OK, so I lied.

The Shuffleathon 2007 draw will not be taking place today.

Why do today that which you can put off until tomorrow (and perhaps do on company time)?


Friday, September 28, 2007

e di pensier!

Earworms of the Week.

> Flyswatter - the eels

I think this one is in here because the band are about to feature in the alphabeticon and because they're really very good indeed. I'm not sure why my brain has landed on this particular song. I think perhaps it's because I used to have a compilation of indie tunes that I would listen to in the car... it had things like "Buck Rogers" by Feeder, "Shining Light" by Ash on it... the representation by the eels was this song. Good song though.

> Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac

Just because.

> Powder Blue - Elbow

It's easy to forget quite how good Elbow are - and they have never really had the highest of profiles. This song is on their debut album, which is great but I hadn't listened to it for a while when this song popped up on shuffle the other day. I really must dig it out. Another band that will feature in the next installment of the alphabeticon.

> I Want it That Way - Backstreet Boys

OK. This one is a bit tenuous. C. was watching the final of "Dance with the Stars" (or whatever the US version of the celebrity dance thing is called), and the speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno was dancing in the final against Joey Fatone from NSYNC. NSYNC, Backstreet Boys... it's all the same thing isn't it? No? Well it is in my head. I think perhaps I have a special connection with the Backstreet Boys: I spent much of a two week holiday in Florida with the Pollstar earworming "Backstreet's Back" as I seemed to have the magical ability to merely look at the radio and the song would come on. A curse as much as it was a blessing, I'm sure you'll agree. And now I'm earworming that too. Great.

> Levi Stubbs' Tears - Billy Bragg

Another week, another Billy Bragg earworm. I'm nothing if not predictable. This is a hangover from the letter "b" in the alphabeticon, and a discussion I had with the Pollstar (who is currently in Argentina) about how he first introduced me to the Braggster when we were both 13.... something he is rightly proud of.

"With the money from her accident
She bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment
Out of being alone
No one could say that she was left up on the shelf
'It's you and me against the world kid', she mumbled to herself."

Levi Stubbs
was in the Four Tops, of course, although the song's not about him. Bragg's a much underrated lyricist, I reckon (although it's probably better for the purposes of that statement that you forget the lyrics to "Sexuality")

> Sugar, We're Going Down - Fallout Boy

These lyrics are almost totally incomprehensible, but it's brilliant.

> At My Most Beautiful - R.E.M.

Not a traditional love song by any means, but I love the way that Stipe articulates his love by talking about counting the eyelashes of his lover as they sleep. It's a lovely song.

> Atlantic - Keane

In my head for rather obvious reasons, and I've written about this already this week, so I'll try not to go on about it. My favourite song on Keane's last album because it's got such a different mood to the rest of their stuff.... it sounds brooding and mysterious... two words not typically associated with Keane. Great Irvine Welsh video too.

> The Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston

The worst karaoke performance I have ever seen in my whole life, I think, was a lovely chap who boldly took up the microphone to this song at LB & Hen's wedding last weekend. I believe it's his special party piece, but he was totally, utterly and heroically hopeless.

At least he kept his dignity, eh?

> Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin

...this was my choice of karaoke song at the wedding. Sadly they didn't have any Johnny Cash, but I thought that this one didn't have too many sudden changes of key, so I took my chances and gave it a go. Karaoke is not something I've made a habit of in my life, so I would never claim to be an expert, but people started to dance. It was late in the evening though, so perhaps they had been drinking....

thanks to Stef for the picture...

> La Donna è Mobile - from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto ("woman is flighty")

I wish I could say that this is because I am a deeply cultured person. It's not. It's for the simple reason that this is the tune that Chelsea fans use to chant the name of their former manager, Jose Mourinho. I just cannot shift it from my head.


All the addresses for the shuffleathon are now in, so I'll do the draw at some point over the weekend. Stand by your inboxes!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

six foot six and a hundred tons

I think I might be addicted to exercise.

It's not that I particularly enjoy exercise per se, it's that I feel so awful if I don't exercise; if I don't get my fix. A typical week for me has six days of exercise: a rest on Monday, a run at lunchtime or a game of football on Tuesday (and sometimes a run after football), a swim on Wednesday, football on Thursday, a swim on Friday (the pool is pleasantly quiet on a Friday evening), a run on Saturday and another swim or run on a Sunday. If I miss any one of those days, then I feel fat and lazy.

In spite of my bad neck, I've managed to play a game of football and go for a couple of runs so far this week, but because I've missed a couple of days, I feel fat and lazy. I was actually away in Telford today and there was no possible way that I could have done anything, but in my head this is no kind of excuse - it's just a day missed.

Like I say: it's an addiction. Or is it an obsession? Or is it both?

Missing a day's exercise also seems to leave me feeling a bit tense: it's brilliant for clearing the mind. No exercise equals a cluttered mind. It's surprising the things that work themselves out in your head when you are trawling up and down a swimming pool or running alongside a river, not to mention the number of earworms that drift onto my internal jukebox.

So it seems I depend upon exercise psychologically and psychiatrically as well as physically.

Frankly I'm amazed I give myself one day off a week.

It hasn't always been like this though.

I know you might not think it to look at me, but I eat like a horse and I feel that somehow if I don't exercise hard, then I will stop being able to eat what I want. This is partially true: after a very active life at school, I slowed down a lot when I was at University and - when an increased beer intake is factored in - I put on quite a lot of weight. I'm tall and have broad shoulders, so I carried this pretty well, but the simple truth is that I was about five stone (70lb) heavier than I am now. I never really set out to deliberately lose all that weight, it just kind of happened. I started to exercise more and to eat better (I think mainly because I began to cook for myself a lot more and discovered that I liked fruit and veg more than I liked a burger and chips). The final clincher was a nasty bout of bacterial food poisoning that seemed to affect my body's ability to process some types of food.... add it all together and the weight just fell off.

...but somewhere along the way I got hooked on exercise. It's not a habit I want to kick particularly, it's just that I'm not sure it's healthy being quite this obsessive about it.

It's in my nature, I suppose, and there are certainly worse habits I could have acquired.

Soap operas for starters.

That kind of thing.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

such a royal pain in the neck....

I had a lunchtime team meeting yesterday. It wasn't terribly arduous, but I was sitting slightly to one side of the flip-chart we were using, and by the end of the 90 minute session, I had a bit of a twinge in my neck. It didn't seem too bad or anything much to worry about, but about an hour later my neck had completely seized up.

I popped a couple of Nurofen and hoped it would go away, but it worried me for one very simple reason: it was a pain like this, in exactly the same spot that signalled the development of a lesion on my cervical spinal cord and the start of the pins and needles, loss of sensation and ultimately the muscle wastage that I know at the Weirdy Tingles (although my neurologist prefers to call it something else).

My last MRI scan was back in February and revealed that there had been "diffuse changes" in the lesion on my neck, meaning it had begun to dissipate. The damage to the sheath around my spinal cord has been done and will never fully heal, and nerve signals down my body will always be disrupted to some degree, but crucially no new lesions had appeared, and so I do not have MS - at least, not yet. Clearly this was good news.

I had just come through a bit of a bad patch when I was scanned, but since then I have had a pretty good run and haven't been troubled by my symptoms too much, touch wood. Sure the numbness and pins & needles are all still there, but I've been religiously doing my exercises to keep my upper body muscles from wasting, and I have generally been able to get on with my life as normal.

Some mornings I wake up with a slightly stiff neck, but I've always seen this as a gentle reminder of the mark that has been left on my spinal cord and I try not to let it bother me.

Yesterday was different though. The pain was in exactly the same place - on the left hand side of my neck and slightly behind the line of my shoulder - but this time it was much worse and much more persistent. By mid-afternoon I was in quite a lot of discomfort and wondering whether I should go and see a doctor.

In the end, I decided to wait, and although I woke up several times during the night, I chewed my way though some more ibuprofen, and although my neck is still stiff and sore, it feels now as though the worst is over.

The thing is though, when this first happened to me back in 2005, it was only the beginning. I went to the doctor with a stiff neck some months before I started to experience any neurological symptoms. I'm trying not to worry, but let's hope that this time it's just a sore neck, eh?


Speaking of doctors, I now have all of the information that I need to decide if I want to take the plunge and get phakic intraocular lenses surgically inserted into my eyes to correct my myopia. I've done the reading. I've consulted the best surgeon I could find and he thought I was a good candidate. I know the risks and the odds. I want to do it.... and yet somehow I've sat on this information for the best part of the last two months and I still haven't pulled the trigger. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. It's a leap of faith; a step onto an invisible bridge... only I don't think Indiana Jones is in front of me with a handful of pebbles to show me the way on this one.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

but this was the time of no reply...

>>>>>ST's ALPHABETICON - Part iv: D<<<<<
Previously in the Alphabeticon: A, B, C

Right. Time for another trawl through the dusty recesses of the shelves that contain most (but not all) of my CD collections. Once again, this is not meant to be a complete list and excludes all the CDs that are in places where I might actually listen to them. It also excludes any of the many tracks and albums that I now only own electronically.

Ah, you know the drill.

It's another short-ish one this week, although it does include not one, but two.... TWO.... Dido albums.

135. The Darkness – Permission to Land
136. The Darkness – One Way Ticket to Hell…. And back!

Ok, so the second album was probably a step too far... but I still quite like the first album and don't find the joke in the least bit boring. Are they taking the piss? If they can take the piss and come up with songs as good as "Growing on Me" and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love", then that's alright isn't it? Then again, I do have a dodgy heavy metal past, so perhaps I am programmed to have a soft spot for this kind of nonsense.

137. Dido – Life for Rent
138. Dido – No Angel

I'll not be apologising for these either. I'll agree that you have to be in a certain mood, and this isn't exactly what you might call edgy, but it isn't so terrible is it? Besides, she's worked with Eminem and Massive Attack, and some people think they're cool. Nice voice. Some decent songs. Get off your damn high horse!

139. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue

I believe everyone owns this?

140. Doors – Best of the Doors

I think everyone owns this too. I find Jim Morrison a bit too much to listen to all of the time, but I don't think there's much that can touch the menace of "Riders On the Storm". Sadly it's an album that reminds me of a particularly odious person from school who used to love this.

141. Depeche Mode – Violator
142. Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion
143. Depeche Mode – Ultra

A band who I only really began to like when the keyboard began to disappear down the mix and the guitars moved on up. I think "Ultra" actually came out when I was working in HMV York and so I bought it at happily discounted price. Good singles, but little else as I recall. The others are classics, of course. I imagine that this lot are pretty good live.

144. Daft Punk – Homework
145. Daft Punk – Discovery

My wife is French, you know. Actually, I was at a party in Toulouse round at her brother's house when we started talking about music. A lot of her brother's French friends were very impressed that I had even heard of this band, never mind that I actually owned some of their albums. They were so impressed that we put on "Homework" immediately (although it wasn't long before the Clash were back on... I think we all liked the Clash a bit more). Anyone else think Kanye West wants shooting?

146. Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
147. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
148. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
149. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks

There's a lot of stuff on these albums that I absolutely adore, but I'm afraid my lasting memory of Bob Dylan will be of going to see him play live at the London Docklands Arena several years ago. Was he bad? Yes, unbelievably so. His voice was shot and he was incredibly self-indulgent, mucking his back catalogue around so much that it was barely recognisable. And he was touring a good album too ("time out of mind"). I actually fell asleep. And I walked all the way back to where I was staying in the pissing rain. Legend, clearly, but please learn from my mistakes and never go to see him perform. Ever. Sadly, I'll have a similar story to tell about Lou Reed later on in the alphabet.

150. Dodgy – Homegrown

One of the best acts that I saw at Glastonbury in 1993. This was long before the "Good Enough" years, but "Making the Most" was and is a great song, as is "Staying Out For the Summer" and "So Let Me Go Far" and "Melodies Haunt You". Not heavyweight, I suppose, but a good breezy listen.

151. Divine Comedy – Promenade
152. Divine Comedy – Casanova

By his own admission, Neil Hannon owes his entire career to Scott Walker, including his singing style. Well, yes..... but actually he's not too bad, as long as he refrains from that awful air of self-satisfaction he sometimes carries around. "Promenade" in particular is a marvellous record. At the Athens Olympics, when someone won a gold medal, they used to play a song that they particularly associated with that country. Great Britain's song, as burned indelibly into my brain on that glorious sunny morning at the rowing lake, was "National Express". Go figure.

153. The Dears – No Cities Left

A bit like the Smiths, only different. I like them. They're Canadian, you know.

154. The Doves – The Last Broadcast
155. The Doves – Some Cities

For one reason or another, I've seen this lot live many times, and they're very good. I can never really seem to get into the records though, and I *like* miserable guitar music.

156. Nick Drake – Way to Blue

Another album dating back to my HMV years. I have no idea why I bought this, but I loved it then and I love it now. My fondest memory of this album is listening to it in the car as we drove through the empty Tuscan countryside after midnight on our way to an open-air hotspring. It was a beautiful night, and the music fitted the mood perfectly.

That seems way too short. Let me just have a quick look on iTunes. Ah, no... lots of individual tracks by the likes of Deep Purple, Dio, Duran Duran, Doris Day, Dick Dale, Diamond Head, The Dismemberment Plan and Devo... but no whole albums. Must be a thin letter generally then.


Shuffleathon 2007 Update.

Nearly ready to start now. I just need the following addresses please:

and then we can begin!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

start again.

I thought that finding something appropriate to read at the wedding of two close friends would be a doddle.

Apparently not.

I wanted to avoid slush at all costs, but actually finding something appropriate is devilishly hard. For once, this is an area where the internet is of no bloody use at all, suggesting that you go for some drippy poetry or a reading from Captain Correlli. Fine, but not what I was looking for.

I was convinced that Nick Hornby would come up trumps, but it turns out that "Fever Pitch" really is mainly about football (and Arsenal at that) and that "High Fidelity" -- great book though it is -- is distinctly double-edged in most of its key passages, and probably a bit too close to the bone to be read out at a wedding ceremony....

A bit of the last chapter of "Ulysses"? No. Some Robert Frost? No. Something by Shakespeare? e e cummings? D.H. Lawrence? John bloody Hegley? No, no, no.


And then I thought about this:


I hope all my days
Will be lit by your face
I hope all the years
Will hold tight our promises

I don't wanna be old and sleep alone
An empty house is not a home
I don't wanna be old and feel afraid

I don't wanna be old and sleep alone
An empty house is not a home
I don't wanna be old and feel afraid

And if I need anything at all

I need a place
That's hidden in the deep
Where lonely angels sing you to your sleep
Though all the world is broken

I need a place
Where I can make my bed
A lover's lap where I can lay my head
Cos now the room is spinning
The day's beginning


It felt right, and I hope they liked it.

I wish them happiness with all of my heart.


Friday, September 21, 2007

in a world filled with friends, you lose your way...

I was going to do an "earworms of the week" slot as usual tonight, and then it dawned on me that if I was being honest, then at least 8 out of the 10 slots would be taken up by Scott Walker... and I've probably talked about him more than enough for now.

Or perhaps not?

Anyway, the two songs of his that have been particularly on my mind this week are "The Bridge" and "Big Louise" (from Scott II and Scott III respectively). Neither are happy songs, but they are both excellent showcases for Walker's voice against a backdrop of lush orchestration. Coincidentally, whilst rootling about YouTube for some Scott Walker stuff, I came across cover versions of both of these songs by a Nottingham based guy called Dragonhead (possibly not his real name) - someone I first came across a few years ago on StumbleUpon. They're both really good. He sensibly doesn't try to mimic the voice, but sings the songs in his own style. Check them out: The Bridge, Big Louise.

The other two songs floating around my head this week? "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana and "Sleep" by Marion.

Anyway. That's enough of that. I'll stop before I just go ahead and list the other 6 Scott Walker songs.

How about some of this?

Shuffleathon 2007 update.

Before I get started on this and make the draw and let everyone know who they have got and all that jazz, I need you all to email me (at the address in my profile) with the address where you want this thing posted when it's done. The idea is that they will remain entirely anonymous to you until you receive the CD.... I'll send them your blog url (if you have a blog) and your address details.

IMPORTANT: if you don't want me handing out your address, then please let me know in the email and I will act as an intermediary, forwarding your CD on when I get it.

ALSO IMPORTANT: there are people from the USA, Canada and the UK taking part in this thing. If you really object to international postage (and I really hope you don't), then please mention that as well.

We can't start until I have everyone's address!

OK. Stupid table coming right up.

NAMEAddress details received?
1. Tinayes
2. Sarahyes
3. Cody Bones
4. Mark
5. Michaelyes
6. Hen
7. Cat
8. bedshaped
9. Pynchonyes
10. J
11. The Great Grape Ape
12. Ian
13. Martin
14. Monogodo
15. Threelightyes
16. Paul
17. Charlieyes
18. LB
19. Katyola
20. Lisa

21. Graham
22. Del
23. Spins
24. Ben
25. Dragon
26. Adem

27. Mike
28. JoeInVegas
29. Wombat
30. Max Bob
31. Stevious
32. Asta
33. Alan
34. Russ L
35. E.
36. Mike T-D
37. JamieS
38. Briskate
38. Me
I think so

I may well have some of your addresses kicking about somewhere, but don't assume... just resend. It'll only take you a sec.

There's also probably just about enough time to still join in.....

OK. Good.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

loneliness is a cloak you wear....

When C is away, as she has been for the last two days, I tend to fall into a reflective mood. It's not that I sit around the house and mope, it's more that her absence tends to see me break from my normal evening and morning routine. Because I'm on my own, for some reason I spend a lot less time watching TV and a lot more time just reading and listening to music. I've been meaning to use the time as a way of catching up on some DVDs that I never seem to find the time to watch, and when yesterday's post brought a couple of packages from Play, I finally had a bit of motivation.

I watched Scott Walker: 30 Century Man.

Regular readers will know that Scott Walker is a real hero of mine, and I've written about him here many, many times in the past (but 'W' is an awfully long way off in the alphabeticon yet, so indulge me). The film is excellent: there are lots of interesting interviews with people like Brian Eno, David Bowie and Jarvis Cocker, but best of all we get an interview with the man himself and we get to see loads and loads of archive footage of him at work, in the Walker Brothers, performing some of his peerless 1960s solo material and of him in the studio recording last year's "The Drift". Amongst other things, I learned that Walker first discovered the music of Jacques Brel, the artist who changed him forever, when he picked up a German Bunny on the opening night of the London Playboy Club and she took him back to her house and played him some records. Most pop stars would presumably be more interested in the Bunny than the music, but Walker sat up all night with her listening to Brel. Well, so he says anyway.

I loved it.

Perhaps it was my reflective and slightly melancholy mood, but as soon as the film was finished, I went and dug out those four brilliant solo albums (Scott I, II, II & IV) and retreated to the bedroom for a listen in a darkened room.

It was magical and I'd recommend it. As if that wasn't enough, it also came with a free t-shirt, so now I am probably the only person in the world with not one, but two Scott Walker t-shirts.

What more could a wife ask for when she's away than that her husband stays indoors in darkened rooms and listens to beautiful, heart-rending classics of existentialism and death, all sung in the greatest male baritone ever committed to record?

...well, apart from the washing up.

And the hoovering.

And some ironing.

And some laundry.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

and all the nobody people, and all the somebody people...

I was sat at my desk yesterday afternoon when a gopher arrived with some post for my boss that needed to be signed for. As my boss was at his desk, I paid this no mind until he then turned to me and handed me the post. It was an envelope containing a card signed by the Managing Director and congratulating me on ten years of service.

Ten years.

Technically speaking, I suppose that I have only actually worked for this company for about half of that time - I formally left when I went to go and work for the joint venture that built the company website in 2000 for three pretty happy years at the height on the dot com boom, and then after my return, I was outsourced to a completely separate company for a couple of years in 2004...before being insourced back last August. My service, however, has legally been deemed to be continuous. As far as the company is concerned, I joined them on 15th September 1997 and have been working for them ever since.

Far from seeing this as cause for congratulation, I find the whole thing a little bit depressing, to be honest. There's no such thing as a job for life. I don't think anybody now seriously thinks that they will remain with one company throughout their working life. The concept of loyal service has been pretty comprehensively exploded, to the advantage of both the worker and the employer. So how come I'm now 33 and I'm sitting in front of a PC working for the same company I joined when I was 23? Shouldn't I be doing something else by now? Something better?

Of course, if I have to point fingers, then the icy finger of blame here points squarely at me: I could have left; I could have gone looking for another job somewhere else, perhaps somewhere that would pay me more or get me to the top faster. I haven't done these things, and at the end of the day that's the reason I'm still here. If I'd really wanted to move on, then I would have moved on.

Does this mean I love my job?


Does this mean that there are things keeping me here other than my job? Does this mean that my career isn't the most important thing in my life? Absolutely.

My office is a ten minute drive from my house on a bad day. I see my wife and I sleep in my own bed almost every night of the week. Hell, I met my wife here. I work long hours, but mainly because I choose to. The flip side of that is that I often stroll into the office after 9am and have a relatively slow start to the morning, and no one really bats an eyelid as I do my work and I more than do my hours and people know this. I am able to pop out at lunchtimes and go running alongside the river, or leave the office early because I have to pop into town. I can work at home if I want to. I've been here for while and I do a good job. People generally let me get on with it.

The bottom line is that although I could earn more money somewhere else, I get paid reasonably well and I get time to do the things that are more important to me than getting on at work. I don't love my job, it's true... but I don't hate it either and it keeps my mind engaged most of the time (and I increasingly find all of the machinations and office politics amusing more than anything else, which perhaps tells its own story about how involved I am).

If you could have said to the 23 year old me in 1997 who really thought that he wanted to be Managing Director that this is what I would have become, then I think he would have sneered at you.... but frankly, what the fuck does he know?

Incidentally, my congratulations card came with a £25 "bonus bond" voucher (that's about 1p per day here). A quick look at the leaflet that comes with this reveals that I can spend this at (amongst other places) Threshers. So perhaps it's not all bad news.

*blows tiny party horn*

The milky bars are on me!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

nothing to see, nothing to hear....

>>>>>ST's ALPHABETICON - Part iii: C<<<<<
Previously in the Alphabeticon: A, B

Right. You know the drill by now: this is not an attempt to exhaustively catalogue all of the music that I own. Rather, it's a sift through the CDs that are gathering dust on my shelf to see if there are any old gems on there that I ought to dig out... and to have a good laugh at some of the horrors no doubt lurking in there. The list does not include anything I have downloaded or ripped off someone; it does not include any of the CDs sat next to any of the stereos in the house or in the car; and it does not include any CDs that I might have lent to someone else (which as it happens, this week includes Cherry Ghost, an album I have been much enjoying on my iPod but the CD of which is currently in the safe hands and appreciative ears of LB).

Let's get this show on the road then. Not as lengthy as last week's installment, but for some reason containing loads of hits compilations.

104. Café Cuba

This is a compilation album, so it's probably filed in the wrong place. Actually it's filed right next to the Buena Vista Social Club album (again, should that be filed under "B" or under "Soundtracks" do you think?). So yes, I suppose you could say that it's the Cuban section of my collection. Both albums are extremely good, and although I don't venture here all that often, I actually ripped this CD onto my iPod only a couple of weeks ago. So there you go. I must have been feeling latin.

105. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

Quite a recent addition, actually. I think I eventually bought this because I loved the Tori Amos cover of the title track so much and because I knew that it was a classic, so I wasn't really going to be taking much of a risk. It's a good album too, although for some reason I can't listen to it without thinking about the fact that the bass player is not the golf correspondent of the Guardian newspaper. Rock and Roll!

106. Johnny Cash – American Recordings
107. Johnny Cash – Unchained
108. Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
109. Johnny Cash – American IV: the Man Comes Around
110. Johnny Cash – American V, 100 Highways
111. Johnny Cash – The Man In Black

Cash doesn't just dominate the "C" section, he dominates my whole record collection. What a majestic body of work the American Recordings are. Having said that, I actually first got into Cash around about the time he played Glastonbury in 1994, the same year as the first American album came out, and a performance that I watched on the telly. I may or may not already have had the "Man in Black" compilation by then, but before long I was playing "Daddy Sang Bass" and "One Piece at a Time" on my show on University radio. At the time it felt like I was almost alone in my love of the great man - at least at my university.... but the wheel was about to turn.

Legend. And I don't use the term lightly.

"Ring of Fire" is my favourite karaoke track, as it happens. Cash would be so proud.

112. Crosby, Stills & Nash

Another recent addition but something I've sort of been meaning to get since I first started listening to Neil Young in about 1993. I think the final straw was an excellent documentary I saw on BBC4 about the Laurel Canyon scene. Fascinating stuff, and some of the singing on here is just breathtaking.

113. Catatonia – International Velvet

Happy days, eh? Late era Britpop. I think I've got the "Mulder & Scully" single somewhere too, so I must have liked them.

114. John Coltrane – Les Incontournables

A french "Best of" type compilation sampler, rather than a long lost album. What else can I say really except..... Nice.

115. Cult – Pure Cult

The first band I ever saw live in concert. I used to have more of their stuff on tape, but I only bothered buying a best of CD complilation to fill the gap. They were very silly, of course, but some of their tunes still sound pretty good today, not least the peerless "She Sells Sanctuary".

116. Sheryl Crowe – Sheryl Crowe

Blimey. It's a real mixed bag in here, isn't it? I know this is hardly the most fashionable record in my collection, and I haven't listened to it in a while... but actually it's not that bad. Songs like "If It Makes You Happy" and "Hard to Make A Stand" are really pretty respectable.

117. The Clash – The Story of the Clash vol 1

I think I'm just too young to remember them properly, and my first exposure to them will have been that Levi advert back in the day. Great band, obviously.

118. Jimmy Cliff – the best of Jimmy Cliff

Bought in the wake of Glastonbury (I think) 2003 where Cliff played on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon. Actually, I think I ordered this the night I got back from the festival, possibly at the same time as the Inspiral Carpets greatest hits, but perhaps we'll gloss over that, eh? Actually fuck it....I like them too.

119. Clearlake – Lido

Cheers Damo.

120. The Cure – Greatest Hits
121. The Cure – Staring at the Sea – the singles

Two greatest hits albums? Well, one of them is really old and has things like "Killing an Arab" on, which I love, but the later one has all of the newer stuff on (and not so much of the old)... so short of buying a whole pile of albums (in the pre-download era), I ended up with both collections. Actually, the newer one was worth it just for the bonus CD featuring acoustic versions of all the songs.... it's brilliant.

122. Coldplay – Parachutes
123. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood to the Head
124. Coldplay – X&Y

Not in the least bit fashionable, I know, but I adore this band. Chris Martin needs to spend a bit more time on some of his lyrics (on X&Y in particular) and perhaps a bit less time on "Extras" and guesting for rappers.... but I love these albums. Call me a sap, but there's something about Coldplay that really chimes with me.

125. Graham Coxon – Happiness in Magazines

I think I've got "Love Travels at Illegal Speeds" somewhere too, which is more of the same, only with even more tunes. Proof positive of exactly what it is that Blur are missing. "Freakin' Out" is just a fantastic song.

126. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I bought this when I read critics saying how marvellous it is. I'm afraid I pretty much hate it and I find it almost impossible to get past the guys horrible singing voice.

127. Eric Clapton – Crossroads (4 CD box set)
128. Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard

I went through a big Clapton phase when I was about 13 years old, and I saw him playing at the Albert Hall and everything. The boxset was a gift from my grandparents, and I still listen to bits and pieces of it because it features tracks from throughout Clapton's career from bands like Cream, Derek and the Dominos and Blind Faith. I still can't stomach "Wonderful Tonight", but anyone who has a song called "Willie and the Hand Jive" can't be all bad, right?

129. Crowded House – Recurring Dream

A band that I quite like, but never enough to buy any album apart from their greatest hits... which is quite good.

130. Cast – All Change

Hehe. Well, I've still got "Be Here Now", so why not? Some good singles on here, la.

131. The Cranberries – Everyone Else Is Doing it So Why Can’t We?

Hm. Last listened to in about 1994 in the room of my house in Leamington Spa. "Linger" is gorgeous, but by the time "Zombie" came out, I was well past my interest in them.

132. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Best

Definitely an artist I feel I ought to know more about, but this is the only thing by him I have in my whole collections. Where's a good album to start?

133. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Ballad of the Broken Seas

Combining artists from two of my favourite bands: Belle & Sebastian and Queens of the Stoneage. It's an unlikely collaboration, but it's also one that works very well.

134. David Crosby – if only I could remember my name...

Declared by someone in some book somewhere to be the greatest album of all time. I don't know about that, but I do know that this was a lovely thoughtful gift from LB. Mind you, take a look at Crosby here. Whatever did all those beautiful women see in pug-ugly, mustachioed, drug-addicted millionaire David Crosby? Perhaps they liked his singing voice?


Shuffleathon 2007 Update.

More people in. I think I'll close registration soon, so if you haven't entered yet then this is probably your last chance.

Those of you that have entered, could you start thinking about sending your address details to the email address in my profile? (and you'd better also say if you won't do international postage or if you want me to intermediate with your CD to keep your address secret and so on...)

1. Tina

2. Sarah

3. Cody Bones

4. Mark

5. Michael

6. Hen

7. Cat

8. Bedshaped

9. Pynchon

10. J

11. The Great Grape Ape

12. Ian

13. Martin

14. Monogodo

15. Threelight

16. Paul

17. Charlie

18. LB

19. Katyola

20. Lisa

21. Graham

22. Del

23. Spins

24. Ben

25. Dragon

26. Adem

27. Mike

28. JoeInVegas

29. Wombat

30. Max Bob

31. Stevious

32. Asta

33. Alan

34. Me...

35. You????

Oh, and if you've got a blog and I haven't linked it... drop me the URL too.


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Monday, September 17, 2007

william, it was really nothing....

After purchasing tickets to various forthcoming shows*, but before heading into the auditorium on Friday evening, Sarah and I had a quick glass of wine in the bar connected to the Playhouse. It was whilst we were sat there, totting up who owed what to who and who needed what ticket for when, that I saw him. He hadn't really changed all that much since I last saw him some twelve years ago and I recognised him almost immediately. His hair was shorter now, but it still had that distinctive dusty orange colour and he was still whippet thin and slightly gangly. He breezed past where we were sitting, looking around him as though for someone he was supposed to me meeting. I hadn't seen him in more than a decade, but there was absolutely no mistaking William.

I was at University with William and I suppose you could probably call us friends, although we were never really terribly close and had been somewhat thrown together by mutual friends. In our third year we actually shared a flat together in Venice for a few months and again when we came back to campus, although on each occasion we shared these flats with our friends. He was a funny fish really. He was awkward and spiky at the best of times, and he was a loner who liked company but seemed to rather resent it. He was seriously into his music too; one of those kids who absolutely threw himself into the loudest and most angular corners of American hardcore and made a point of knowing the minutiae of every single band he loved. He scorned the mainstream, of course, but reserved most of his vitriol for someone like me who wasn't exactly mainstream, but certainly wasn't as bleeding edge in my musical tastes as him. He rather fancied himself as straight edge too, or at least rather liked the idea of it, if not the actual practice of it. Like a lot of introverts he was also prone to sudden furious outbursts in company that seemed woefully out of place, as though he had felt the need to contribute to conversation but was incapable of judging the correct tone.

Like I say, he was a funny fish... and after we graduated, I don't think we even pretended that we were going to be keeping in touch and we didn't exchange emails, addresses, phone numbers or anything.

And then I saw him in Nottingham on Friday night.

I've lived here now for ten years. In all that time, I've been to quite a lot of gigs. I'm pretty sure that if he had been living around here during that time then he would be certain to go to a lot of gigs, and I'm pretty sure that I would have seen him at a concert in the Rescue Rooms or somewhere. Unless perhaps he saw me first.

I'm fairly sure he recognised me on Friday, anyway. After walking past us looking for his friends, I saw him walk a little more slowly past the outside of the window where we were sitting and caught him having a second look at me when he thought I wasn't watching.

So did he come and say hello? Did I chase after him and greet him like an old friend?

No, of course not. Two introverts don't equal an extrovert.

* The tickets were for Sean Lock, Mark Steel, Lee Mack, Punt & Dennis & Tim Minchin... although I'm only going to the first three of those. I think I'd better add them to the gig list before I forget.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

loafing oafs in all night chemists...

Earworms of the Week

Long week? Yeah, me too. Ah well, let's rock:

> "You And Me Are Gonna Be Friends" - The White Stripes

One of the most restrained songs in their repertoire, this song about childhood friendship has long been one of my favourites of theirs. Much though I love the guitar stuff, there's just something beautifully sweet, simple and touching about it. Do you remember your first days at school when it was so easy to make friends? It was a long time ago for me, but I can.

**stop press** the White Stripes have cancelled their forthcoming UK tour due to Meg suffering from stress. What? Grr. Get well soon Meg.

> "Girls Who Play Guitars" - Maximo Park

Still my favourite album of this year, this was back on my car stereo again this week. I could almost have picked any song of it, but this is the opening track and somehow wormed its way into my head when I was sat in the office working on a troublesome document... a welcome distraction, I must say. Stupid job.

> "Frayed Ends of Sanity" - Metallica

This one came up on my iPod when I was working on the same document. This is an absolute beast of a track from an absolutely monumental album - an album which I originally bought way back in 1987 when I was 13 years old. Well, you're never to young to get into this kind of genius, are you?

> "Still Take You Home" - Arctic Monkeys

There's something raw and basic about this track, and yet even here Alex Turner manages to show a deft touch that belies his years and his relative lack of experience. This was never a standout track for me on that debut album, but listening to it now, it's an absolute cracker. They rock too, don't they?

> "Smiley Faces" - Gnarls Barkley

Another song that didn't do all that much for me when I first heard the album... although to be fair, when that came out, it was pretty much all about "Crazy", wasn't it? Cee-Lo has a pretty damn good voice too, and this track rumbles along quite nicely with a black and slightly ominous undertone throughout.

> "Black Mirror" - Arcade Fire

It's taken a while for this album to grow on me, but it's finally starting to sink in, and I'm really starting to look forward to seeing them play live in a few weeks time. I know the band are renowned as multi-instrumentalists and all that, but when you listen to some of this stuff closely, the backing is actually quite simple although oddly the effect of the whole is still deceptively dense. Hmmm. They're a band that have the critics purring, and although I find them slightly hard to love, there's no denying that they are fantastic and very much on the top of their game. Another track one on the list. I think I must be especially susceptible to opening songs....

> "Wild World" - Jimmy Cliff

It's a Cat Stevens song, of course, but it was actually the Jimmy Cliff version that charted earliest, and it's perhaps no coincidence that a lot of the subsequent covers have tended to have a reggae feel to them. I like Jimmy Cliff a lot, and listening to him reminds me of a particularly sunny Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury a few years back. Now that it's starting to get dark at around half-seven, I'll take all of the summer I can get, thanks very much.

> "Suzanne" - Leonard Cohen

Not the best singer in the world, for sure, but is there anybody who writes more poetic lyrics than the published poet?

"And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind. "

Beautiful. I love this song.

Track one on his debut album, I notice.

> "Now My Heart is Full" - Morrissey

I know exactly where this one has come from: I'm reading "Brighton Rock" for the first time at the moment, and every time I see the names of the characters, I am reminded of this song by Moz from one of his best albums.

"Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt
Rush to danger
Wind up nowhere"

Another track one. God, am I really so predictable? Next week: Smells Like Teen Spirit.


I spent most of my evening in the company of Sarah, watching a Greek tragedy instead of spending my time in front of the telly watching an English farce.... I don't really know who was the more miserable King Creon (and the coconuts?) with his dead family or Jason Robinson at the Stade de France and his tattered hamstring.

36-0? I know the odds on a two-horse race were attractive, but that's ten pounds I'm never going to see again isn't it? I went for a straight win, but even that initially attractive looking 17.5 point start on offer as a handicap bet turned out not to be all that generous of the bookies, eh?

And thanks to Sky+, I didn't miss a single bloody moment.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

from my window to yours....

"A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to hold the attention. Then you have to take it up a notch, but not blow your wad, so maybe cool it off a notch, and you can't put the same artist twice on the tape, except if some subtle point or lesson or theme involved, and even then not the two of them in a row, and you can't woo somebody with Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and then bash their head off with something like GBH's "City Baby Attacked by Rats," and... oh, there are a lot of rules....."

Welcome to Shuffleathon 2007.

You might remember that we played this game last year (although it wasn't really finished until this February, for one reason or another). Last year's guidelines were:

"You should look into your heart and into your soul and pluck out the 12 tracks that you feel the most passionate about, the songs that you identify with the most."

That's pretty good, I reckon. Simple. I'm not going to fiddle with that too much except that the minimum number of tracks on your compilation should be 10. There is no maximum restriction except for the capacity of a CD.

Other than that, the only rules are those outlined in the quote above. Your only limitation is your imagination. I want you to go out and make the most kick ass compilation you possibly can.... which I suspect is probably easier said than done.

You can start thinking about your compilation now if you like, or you can wait to see who you have drawn and try and tailor your mix to your audience... it's entirely up to you.

There's still time to take part. All you need to do is to shout out in the comments box below, and I'll add you to the list. I'll close the list of participants in a week or so and will ask everyone taking part to email me their postal address. Once I have all of the addresses, I will do the draw, and I will email each person the name and address of the person they are making their CD for (although if you don't feel comfortable with me handing out your address, I will be happy to act as an intermediary and forward CDs on as appropriate. Note that some of the participants might live overseas to you, so international postage may be necessary....).

By entering the Shuffleathon, you are committing to:

a) Make a compilation CD and send it to the person you have drawn. It would be nice if you gave some thought to what you put on this, but I suppose it's up to you...

b) Receive a CD, give it a fair listen and to put a nice fulsome review online (again, if you happen to be taking part and you don't have a blog, I'll be happy to post up the reviews here). Just remember that someone has poured their heart and soul into this compilation, the least you can do is to give it a proper write-up.

I will maintain a great big table showing who is taking part and whether or not they have sent their CD and whether or not they have received and reviewed their CD, with links as appropriate.

Ready? Here we go....

1. Tina

2. Sarah

3. Cody Bones

4. Mark

5. Michael

6. Hen

7. Cat

8. Bedshaped

9. Pynchon

10. J

11. The Great Grape Ape

12. Ian

13. Martin

14. Monogodo

15. Threelight

16. Paul

17. Charlie

18. LB

19. Katyola

20. Lisa

21. Graham

22. Me

23. You????

Who else wants in? Quick... there's still time!

Just remember... a compilation is like a window into your soul - so be careful and choose your songs wisely.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

we will haunt you when you laugh....

Scanning through the newspaper headlines this morning, I felt a slightly unexpected twinge of compassion for the McCanns. It was unexpected because I've been quite detached from the whole thing and, if anything, mildly irritated by the media campaign that has seen this family pushed into my face in places as ridiculous as the gents toilets at a motorway service station, as if Madeleine McCann was the most important child in the world and that no other tragedy was worthy of my attention, my sympathy or my money. I do not have a heart of stone and I do have sympathy for a family who have lost their daughter. I don't have children of my own, it's true, but I am (I believe) a human being. There are other, bigger, tragedies in the world. Wars, natural disasters, disease .... but these do not make the disappearance this one child, in its own way, any less of a tragedy.

You could argue that her parents have so actively courted the media to help in the search for their daughter that they can hardly complain now that the spotlight has been turned back on them... but we should not forget that they are innocent until they are proven guilty. They have been named as suspects, but they have not been charged.

But what if they didn't have anything to do with it?

How would you feel to read all that speculation about Madeleine's hair being found in the boot of the car you hired 25 days after her disappearance? Of "the scent of death" being detected on your Bible by specially trained sniffer dogs? Of your missing child's blood apparently being found in your appartment? Of all that innuendo and suspicion as people begin to face up to the possibility that they have somehow been conned, that their sympathy has been extracted from them under false pretenses.

Gerry McCann called it "unbearable", and however much of this is of his own making, I'm inclined to agree with him.

This is not going to have a happy ending.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

turn off your mind, relax and float downstream...

ALPHABETICON - Part ii: B<<<<<

Right. Back again for another trawl through my archives. Remember: this is not an attempt to definitively list every album that I own. Rather, this is a run through the CDs that are gathering dust on the shelves in my study.... I have other ones sitting around near the stereos and in the car, and more albums that I only have on my laptop. None of them count. This is a stroll through the albums that I may not have listened to in years.... and if as a result of doing this, I listen to some of them, then so much the better.

Incredulous "Whatnos" more than welcome.

Previously in the Alphabeticon: A

27. Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy

I saw Badly Drawn Boy playing at Glastonbury once and he was ferociously dull. I resisted the charms of the various singles from "Hour of Bewilderbeast" and instead got suckered into buying this because I quite enjoyed the film. It's a good film, and this is a pretty good soundtrack. Have I listened to it recently? No. Am I planning on listening to it? Not really. Hmmm.

28. RL Burnside – An Ass Pocket of Whiskey

I think I bought this because I had a brief flirtation with the John Spencer Blues Explosion when I was a student, and RL was a friend of theirs who collaborated with them on "Now I Got Worry". This is pretty much straight down the line blues. Not really on my "most listened to" playlist. In fact, not on my iPod at all.

29. The Beta Band – The 3 EPs
30. The Beta Band – Hot Shots II

Did I get this before I saw "High Fidelity"? Possibly. Do I listen to much more than "Dry The Rain"? Not really, although both of these albums are actually pretty good. I must dig these out and give them a spin - which is kind of the whole point of this exercise.

31. The Buzzcocks – Singles: Going Steady

Superb. I bought this as a student on the strength of "Ever Fallen In Love...", but you can't go wrong with this. "Orgasm Addict" is also a fantastic opening track...

32. Blondie – Parallel Lines

It's a classic, innit.

33. David Bowie – Singles Collection
34. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
35. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
36. David Bowie – Heroes
37. David Bowie - Low
38. David Bowie – Hunky Dory

The singles compilation came first, when I was about 17 years old and a member of the Britannia music club, of all things. Does that still exist in the internet age, do you suppose? The other albums have been accumulated over time, and as I fluctuate through Bowie phases, the most recent of which was triggered by "The Life Acquatic With Steve Zissou"... an excellent film, but also one feeaturing a lot of Bowie covers sung in Portuguese.

39. Beatles – Abbey Road
40. Beatles –White Album
41. Beatles – 62-66 (Red Album)
42. Beatles – 67-70 (Blue Album)
43. Beatles – Revolver
44. Beatles – Sergeant Pepper
45. Beatles – One
46. Beatles - Love
47. Paul McCartney – All the Best!
48. John Lennon - Legend

Ack. The red and blue albums came first, replacing an old cassette I used to have with the hits on. Like Bowie, I've added the rest over time. The McCartney and Lennon compilations are filed here for convenience... and in my opinion, neither is a patch on the work they did together. Well, with the possible exception of the Frog Chorus, obviously.

49. Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
50. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
51. Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
52. Belle & Sebastian – Tiger Milk
53. Belle & Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
54. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap
55. Belle & Sebastian – Storytelling
56. Belle & Sebastian – Push Bartender to Open Old Wounds

Ah, a band I used to loathe with a passion.... a hatred founded more or less entirely on a preconception of them as folky no-marks and on a ill-advised appearance on Top of the Pops with "Legal Man". Then, one night round at a friend of mine, I heard an album that I absolutely adored on first listen. The album? "If You're Feeling Sinister", an album that I still think is their high watermark (apart from possibly "Dear Catastrophe Waitress". Was I annoyed that my preconceived idea of them had been so wrong? Not really, I was just delighted to discover how much I liked them and how much of their back catalogue I had to explore. They're not to everyone's taste, I'm sure, and they can be awfully fey... but I like them.

57. The Beautiful South – Solid Bronze
58. The Beautiful South - Carry on Up the Charts

How I come to have two compilation albums by the same band, I'm not quite sure. They're only different by about three songs, I think.... still. Great band. Have I ever been tempted to explore their back catalogue properly? Not really.

59. Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You a Picture?
60. Billy Bragg – Don’t Try This at Home
61. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue
62. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue II
63. Billy Bragg – Back to Basics

The Bard of Barking is a long-time hero of mine. I discovered him when I was still at school, thanks largely to the Pollstar, and listened mainly to those albums where it's just him and his guitar singing about unrequited love and politics. Later on, I discovered the songs he did with a full band, culminating in the "Mermaid Avenue" project that Bragg did with Wilco, where they took some long lost lyrics by Woody Guthrie and put them to music. Fantastic albums both. The man is a legend. One of the good guys.

64. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
65. Beastie Boys - The Sounds of Science Anthology

This is (almost) as far as the rap genre in my collection goes, and even then, they're hardly NWA, are they? I probably first got into them when I was 13 years old and thought "Fight For Your Right" was cool. Actually, it was pretty cool, wasn't it?

66. Ian Brown – Music of the Spheres

I've seen this clown live on a number of occasions (always when he's been supporting someone else) and he's been absolutely awful on each occasion. This album is alright, but it's all a bit of a comedown from the Stone Roses, isn't it? I was lucky enough to see the Roses live, and somehow their magic was so powerful that the fact that Brown can't carry a tune in a bucket didn't seem to matter a jot.

67. Blur – Modern Life is Rubbish
68. Blur – Parklife
69. Blur - Blur
70. Blur – Think Tank
71. Blur – Best Of

I bought "Modern Life is Rubbish" when it came out and I absolutely loved it... right up to "Villa Rosie" it was pretty much perfect. I was therefore queuing at the shop when "Parklife" came out and wished them nothing but the best in their stupid media war with Oasis. I wasn't too enamoured with "The Great Escape", but as the band sought to escape from the top of the charts, I came back to them and I think "Blur" and "Think Tank" are amongst their finest work. The singles album? Well, it was for the car. A good band. Alex James is still a cock of the highest order though.

72. Jeff Buckley – Grace
73. Jeff Buckley – Live at Sine-e

I saw Buckley singing at Reading in 1994. He was fantastic, of course, but I can't really get away from the fact that the reason I was there at all in the middle of the afternoon was that Gene were up next. They were also excellent, but it's Buckley who is the legend now. I've had "Grace" for a long time, together with a vague notion that I should get some more of his stuff. This was an itch that I scratched earlier this year when I bought the double disc special edition of the "Live at Sine-e" album, which document Buckley playing unaccompanied in a New York coffee shop, moulding his songs and just generally mucking about. It's a sublime album and he was a sublime talent. Worth it just for his cover of "Hallelujah".

74. Beach Boys – Surf’s up / Sunflower
75. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
76. Beach Boys – 20 golden greats

It all started with "Pet Sounds" really, which always seems to be there-or-thereabouts in those "best albums ever" type polls. I bought it out of curiosity, but subsequently discovered that actually I think that "Sunflower" is a much better album, it's just less well known. The greatest hits album? I'm not sure there's a better album to listen to as you drive through Somerset approaching the Glastonbury site before another festival.

77. Ben Folds – Rocking the Suburbs
78. Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen
79. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five

Another artist it's taken me a long time to get over my own preconceptions... Ben Folds suffering from a dreadful party I went to where the guests ended up sitting around the BBQ singing his songs (along with the Barenaked Ladies) to an acoustic guitar played by an absolute tit called Dylan. Anyway. Ten years later and I got over myself sufficiently to enjoy "Rocking the Suburbs", and it was a short journey from there to his most famous albums. He's still unbearably smug though.

80. Belly – Star

My favourite album of the long summer of 1993. I loved this album then (when I had it on a cassette with the Suede debut album on the other side) and I love it now. A much underrated band.

81. Boo Radleys – Wake Up
82. Boo Radleys – Giant Steps

"Wake Up Boo!" is sublime, of course, but "Giant Steps" is better.

83. Black Grape – It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah!

I haven't listened to this in a decade, but I really must dig this out. The Observer was saying at the weekend how this was one of the best albums of the 1990s and should have won the Mercury Prize that year. I don't know about that, but I really should give it another listen.

84. Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker
85. Black Crowes – Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

Originally dating back to the tail end of my heavy metal years at school, "Southern Harmony" was actually the first album I played when my parents had left me at the start of the first term in my University career. They do a pretty mean cover of "Hard to Handle" too.

86. Bon Jovi – New Jersey

I'm actually a little surprised that I don't have more Jovi in my collection than this, to be honest. I bought this in about 1988 when it came out and I think you'll struggle to find an album with a better opening salvo than "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "Bad Medicine".... they're also pretty handy live (I saw them on the "Keep The Faith" tour, when I was arguably old enough and into the Smiths enough to know better... but they were ace!)

87. Bjork – Debut

A rarely listened to classic. I must get this out and give it a spin. I don't even think it's on my iPod, which is shocking.

88. Bluetones – Expecting to Fly
89. Bluetones – The Singles
90. Bluetones - Bluetones

I love the Bluetones, and I actually used to work with a lovely Geordie chap called Pag in HMV York who claimed that he was their original bassist. Perhaps he was. He certainly had nothing but good things to say about them and wished them nothing but the best. They've faded from public view since "Slight Return", but they're still going strong and are, if anything, much better now than they were in those days. They tour every November, and they're always excellent value.

91. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power

Talked about a lot a few years ago. Any good? Meh.

92. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – BRMC


93. Next Brel (various)
94. Jacques Brel – de 24 Grootste Successen

One of the side-effects of having a wife who grew up in France is my love of Jacques Brel. Initially I discovered his work through Scott Walker's covers, but when I met C, I soon discovered the originals. It seems hard to believe now, but back in the 1990s, the only Brel album I could find was a Dutch import..... Amazon has changed all of that, of course. The "Next Brel" album was a spontaneous purchase in Fopp of Brel covers, and was well worth a fiver just for the Dusty Springfield version of "If You Go Away" and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band's bonkers version of "Next". The originals are pretty good too though, although when he sings in Flemish, you wouldn't have wanted to be sitting in the front row.

95. Devendra Banhart – Nino Rojo
96. Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands

Discovered when I saw him on "Later...." and I was amply rewarded by his album, which was a real treasure trove. Not something I could listen to all of the time, but really very good indeed. He must have a really adventurous agent though, because I keep hearing snippets of his music used to advertise things like cheese, which is a bit incongruous. Fiercely prolific though, so I don't even attempt to keep up with all of the records he puts out.

97. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Very much the "next big thing" a couple of years ago, and in my opinion this album largely delivers. I saw them first on the same "Later..." as Interpol, if memory serves me correctly.

98. Carla Bruni – Quel’q'un Ma Dit
99. Carla Bruni - No Promises

Model-turned-singer sounds deeply unpromising, but Carla Bruni's first album is an absolute joy and stands repeated listens. The second album is all in English and features adaptations of famous English poems.... and whilst being pretty good, isn't a patch on the first one.

100. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Worth it just for the title track, never mind "War Pigs", "Iron Man" and "Fairies Wear Boots". Well, perhaps not that last one.

101. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning

This is supposed to be good, right?? For some reason I've never given this a proper listen. This must change soon.

102. James Blunt – Back to Bedlam

Alright. A bit embarrassing perhaps, if I cared much. I think he's probably a bit of a twat (witness any of his recent interviews), but the simple truth is that when I saw him perform "Goodbye My Lover" on "Later..." in what was his TV debut, I couldn't shake the song from my head. He had been awfully nervous and had performed the song pretty badly, but the song stuck. Soon enough, I bought the album (I had to hunt for it!) and I thought it was pretty good. By the time I saw him performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury at lunchtime on the sunday, the cat was well and truly out of the bag and the crowd was massive. The rest is history, and for all that the music snob in me wants to run screaming, I can never forget that I quite liked those early songs. Will I buy the new album? No, probably not. Do I carry the ticket for the Blunt gig I attended in Nottingham with C around in my pocket? Yes, I do. It's to remind me not to be too snobby about music. Does it work? Hmmm.

103. Boy Kill Boy - Boy Kill Boy

Bad hat. Bad hair. Average album. Great singles.


Shuffleathon update:

In so far: Tina, Sarah, Cody Bones, Mark, Michael, Hen, Cat, bedshaped, Pynchon, J, The Great Grape Ape, Ian, Martin, Monogodo, Threelight, Paul, Charlie, Lord B.

Anyone else?

Do you want guidelines for the compilation, or do you just want to freestyle?

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 10, 2007

generate the music that makes you feel better...

I've been reviewing gigs on here almost since I first started back in early 2004. I haven't always been very objective, I haven't always scored the gig out of ten, I often don't turn up early enough to see the support, and sometimes I've barely talked about the band at all....but for what it's worth, it's a record of one Nottingham based blogger's gig-going over the last few years.

Make of it what you will.

Plus I am absolutely hopeless at remembering what gigs I've got coming up and when, so a rolling list probably isn't that bad an idea either.......

Gigs Yet to Come

18/9 Coldplay and Girls Aloud @ Wembley Stadium

Gigs Past

10/09/09 Okkervil River @ Rescue Rooms 5 /10
02/07/09 - White Denim @ Bodega Social 9 / 10
26/27/28 June 2009 - Glastonbury Festival
20/05/2009 - Maximo Park @ Rock City - 7 / 10
05/05/2009 Doves @ Rock City - 7 / 10
12/03/09 Snow Patrol @ Nottingham Arena - 4 / 10
03/03/09 Elbow @ Sheffield Academy - 8 / 10
25/02/09 Metallica @ Nottingham Arena - 9.5 / 10
22/02/09 Kaiser Chiefs @ Nottingham Arena - 4 / 10
02/02/09 Keane @ Nottingham Arena - 6.5 / 10
10/12/08 Joan as Policewoman @ Rescue Rooms - 7 / 10
4/12/08 Tina Dico @ Rescue Rooms - 7 / 10
2/12/08 Coldplay @ Birmingham NIA - 7.5 / 10
19/11/08 Billy Bragg @ Rock City - 8 / 10
8/11/08 The Mighty Boosh @ Nottingham Arena - 4 / 10
4/11/08 Laura Marling @ Rescue Rooms - 7.5 / 10
3/11/08 Martha Wainwright @ Rock City - 7 / 10
2/11/08 Fleet Foxes @ Nottingham Trent Uni - 8.5 / 10
16/10/08 Elbow @ Leicester De Montfort - 9.5 / 10
9/10/08 Seasick Steve @ Rock City - 5.5 / 10
30/09/08 Heavy Trash @ Nottingham Bodega - 7 / 10
17/07/08 Def Leppard, Whitesnake & Thunder @ Nottingham Arena - 6.5 / 10
07/07/08 White Denim @ Bodega Social - 9 / 10
05/07/08 Iron Maiden @ Twickenham Stadium - 7 / 10
27-29 June 2008 - The Glastonbury Festival
9/6/08 - REO Speedwagon @ Rock City - 7.5 / 10
3/6/08 - Futureheads @ Rescue Rooms - 7 / 10
19/04/08 James @ New Theatre, Oxford - 8 / 10
15/4/08 Wonky Pop Tour feat. Alphabeat @ Stealth - 7 / 10
14/4/08 Elbow @ Rock City - 9.5 / 10
17/03/08 Gilad Atzmon and the Oriental House Ensemble @ Porgy & Bess Jazz club, Vienna - 8 / 10
10/3 The Feeling @ Rock City - 8 / 10
04/03/08 Tina Dico @ The Maze - 7.5 / 10
23/02/08 One Night Only @ Rescue Rooms - 6/10
12/02/08 NME Awards Tour 2008 with The Cribs, Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, Does it Offend You, Yeah? and The Ting Tings @ Rock City - 7 / 10
10/02/08 Palladium & Alphabeat @ Bodega Social - 3/10 (Palladium) & 8/10 (Alphabeat)
07/02/08 Nouvelle Vague @ Rescue Rooms - 6.5 / 10
07/12/07 Kings of Leon @ Nottingham Arena - 8 / 10
04/12/07 From the Jam @ Rock City - 8 / 10
21/11/07 Cherry Ghost @ Rescue Rooms - 6.5 / 10
14/11/07 Paul Heaton @ Rescue Rooms - 6.5 / 10
6/11/07 Foo Fighters @ Birmingham NEC - 8 / 10
1/11/07 White Stripes @ Nottingham Arena **cancelled**
31/10/07 The Arcade Fire @ Nottingham Arena - 7.5 / 10
29/10/07 The Young Knives @ Rescue Rooms - 8/10
24/10/07 The Twang @ Rock City - 2/10
20/10/07 Los Campesinos! @ Rescue Rooms **Rugby World Cup Final**
02/10/07 Athlete @ Rock City - 6.5 / 10
30/06/07 Morning Runner @ The Social - 7 / 10
22-24/6/07 Glastonbury
31/05/07 Rodrigo Y Gabriela @ Rock City - 8/10
15/05/07 Ghosts / Tiny Dancers @ The Social - 6.5 / 10
25/04/07 Maximo Park @ Rock City - 7.5 / 10
12/04/07 Tina Dico @ The Social - 7 / 10
28/02/07 Scott Matthews @ Rescue Rooms 6 / 10
25/02/07 Keane @ Nottingham Arena - 7.5 / 10
24/02/07 The Long Blondes @ Rock City - 6 /10
28/01/07 Ben Folds @ Wolverhampton Civic - 6 /10
5/12/06 Morrissey @ Nottingham Arena - 8 / 10
22/11/06 The Bluetones @ Rescue Rooms - 7 / 10
16/11/06 The Feeling @ Rock City - 6.5 / 10
4/11/06 We Are Scientists @ Rock City - 8 / 10
24/10/06 Razorlight @ Nottingham Arena - 6.5 / 10
23/10/06 The Raconteurs @ Rock City - 4 /10
22/10/06 Keane @ Wolverhampton Civic - 6 / 10
09/09/06 Devendra Banhart @ Marcus Garvey Centre - 7 / 10
16/07/06 Snow Patrol @ Rock City - 10 / 10
07/07/06 Billy Joel @ Birmingham NEC - 9 /10
02/07/06 Red Hot Chili Peppers @ Coventry Ricoh Arena - 7 / 10
21/06/06 Jamie T @ The Social - 8 / 10
03/06/06 The Futureheads @ Rock City - no mark
22/05/06 Beautiful South @ Derby Assembly Rooms - 8.5 / 10
17/05/06 Morning Runner @ Marcus Garvey Ballroom - 7/10
03/05/06 The Streets @ Rock City - 8 / 10
08/03/06 The Feeling @ The Social - 6.5 /10
03/03/06 James Blunt @ Nottingham Arena - 7/10
20/02/06 Nine Black Alps @ Rock City - 5/10
15/02/06 Elbow @ Rock City - 7/10
25/01/06 Kubb @ Rock City Basement - 6/10
13/12/05 Embrace @ Rock City - 6/10
29/11/05 Franz Ferdinand @ Nottingham Arena - 7/10
27/11/05 Alan Fletcher & Waiting Room @ Nottingham Walkabout - 8/10
20/11/05 The Bravery @ Rock City - 7/10
15/11/05 Starsailor @ Rock City - 6.5 / 10
13/11/05 The Bluetones @ Rescue Rooms
31/10/05 KT Tunstall @ Rock City
16/10/05 Bloc Party @ Rock City
27/09/05 The Editors @ Rescue Rooms - 6/10
14/09/05 JJ72 @ Rescue Rooms
06/07/05 R.E.M. @ City Ground, Nottingham
04/07/05 Coldplay @ Bolton Reebok Stadium
24-26/6/05 Glastonbury
18/6/05 U2 @ Twickenham
14/4/05 Rufus Wainwright @ Nottingham Concert Hall
[the first "Earworms of the Week" slot]
08/03/05 Athlete @ Rock City
05/03/05 Thirteen Senses @ Rescue Rooms
06/02/05 The Dears @ Rescue Rooms
21/12/04 Kings Of Leon @ Nottingham Rock City
19/12/04 Interpol @ Nottingham Rock City
28/11/04 Snow Patrol @ Birmingham Academy
24/10/04 The Darkness @ Nottingham Areana
16/10/04 The Bees @ Oxford Zodiac
22/8/04 The Hives @ Nottingham Rock City
4/8/04 Morrissey @ Blackpool Empress Ballroom


Lists? It's what blogging's all about, innit? I'll be sticking a link to this on the right-hand margin somewhere and I'll keep it as up to date as I can.

I'm interested, even if nobody else is.