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

Friday, September 12, 2008

oh so far to fall....

Earworms of the Week

> "Half A Person" - The Smiths

One of several songs on this list that appear to have been kicking around my head for the last few weeks. It's by no means their best song (although choosing to use "YWCA" instead of the more obvious "YMCA" is an example in miniature of what makes Morrissey a unique voice as a lyricist), but as I've already said, this is the song that first got me into The Smiths...whether you think that was a good thing or not is entirely up to you. I'm inclined to think it was a good thing. It is, therefore, certainly a song that changed my life.

> "Wired For Sound" - Cliff Richard

Make it stop. For the love of God, make it stop. It's been nearly three weeks now and this song just will not go away. Have mercy... for pity's sake. 'Nuff respect to Cliff for the (doomed?) attempt to have a number one single in a sixth consecutive decade. You have to admire his longevity, if nothing else. Well, that and his teeth.

> "White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)" - The Clash

Also in my head for three weeks, but luckily this one is not half so irritating as Cliff (I've always preferred "Devil Woman", to be honest). I prefer the version originally recorded by the Clash, but I have to admit that I've got a creeping affection for the Bontempi organ version by Nottingham's Mr Sex's Nana, as featured in the brilliant Left Lion pub quiz at the Golden Fleece the other week. He was good enough to send me a copy, actually. Nice man. They don't make bands like the Clash any more, do they?

> "Junk Shop Clothes" - The Auteurs

I listened to "New Wave" in the car the other day. It's usually "Showgirl" that gets me, but this time around it was "Junk Shop Clothes". It's a combination of the oddly clanky, steam-powered sounding music and the remarkable lyrics.

"Chaim Soutine never spent
A thrift shop dime
In his life.
Lenny Bruce never walked
In a dead man's shoes
Even for one night"

Well, whether or not Luke Haines can substantiate either one of those claims seems doubtful, but somehow it's the kind of lyric that epitomises the awkward cleverness of the band. It's a beautiful record actually. Famously deprived of the Mercury prize by a single vote in the year that Suede won it. Now, I like that Suede album, but I've listened to this one an awful lot more often.

Makes me think of Lizzy too. I miss her.

> "Celice" - A-Ha

I must hear the first ten seconds of this song about five times a week, as when I dock my iPod into speakers or accidentally start playing "all songs", this is the first song that comes up. Usually this is followed by a 'tut' of irritation and a quick spin for something else to listen to, but the other day I let the album - "Analogue" from 2005 - run through. It's really very good. Excellent, in fact. It perhaps tapers off a bit right at the very end, but in my view it's up there with almost anything else that they have done. It's wistful, melancholic and sometimes achingly beautiful. Highly recommended.

> "Is it Over?" - Gene

I saw Gene live several times, but the most memorable for me were either when they played the Melody Maker tent at the Reading Festival in 1994 and I had to stand and grudgingly listen to some unknown bloke called Jeff Buckley before they came on, or when I saw them touring their self-funded album "Libertine" and they played a half-full Rock City in a gig supported by a performance poet by the name of Selina Saliva (or something. Yes, she was shit). They were a brilliant band, of course. Much underrated, but I loved them from the first moment I listened to "Olympian" all the way through to the bitter end. "Libertine" pretty much was the end of the line for the band, but it remains a superlative piece of work. It's sophisticated, lush and full of songs of doubt, insecurity and infidelity. Of course, the world didn't care about that and it sold about fourteen copies. The world really wouldn't listen.

Yes, it was over.

> "Christobel" - Joan As Policewoman

Sparked by seeing in one of those interminably frequent emails from a ticketing agency that Joan Wasser was playing the rescue rooms in December. I've seen her performing before, in support to Rufus Wainwright, but I'd be quite keen to see her perform her heart-rending torch songs in a more intimate environment than the Royal Concert Hall. She has the most beautiful voice. It even holds up well when she sings with Antony Hegarty, which is no mean feat. After a week spent listening to Metallica, this was like having a sorbet between courses, and cleansed the palate nicely. Now that I'm cleansed, I might go and listen to Motorhead or something.

> "Stacey's Mom" - Fountains of Wayne

I think this is Rol's fault, and a passing mention dragged this song kicking and screaming out of the darkest cellars of my brain and into the forefront of my subconscious. Aided, I think, by associated memories of a crush that I used to have on one of my friend's mothers, and from there on to a mildly disturbing memory of a crush I used to have on Carol Jackson from Eastenders. Yes, that one. Bianca's mum. Married to Alan. Had a fling with David Wicks. Large number of assorted, ethnically diverse children. She had it goin' on.....

> "That Was Just Your Life" - Metallica

Toweringly brilliant, sustained assault that provides the opening seven minutes of the new Metallica album, "Death Magnetic" and heralds a startling return to old-school form. It starts with a heartbeat, but before long we're into pounding drums and intricate guitar solos. Riffola! YES! YES! Where have you been? Oh, how we've missed you. Nobody does this shit as well as Metallica. I've been using the album (thanks Mark) as the accompaniment to my runs this week, and although 35 minutes only takes me to about track 5, there is absolutely nothing better for helping you to pick up your knees and drag your sorry, complaining body around a run than this kind of crunching, grinding, driving beat. Metallica are back to doing what they do best of all, and I for one am very grateful. What was all that nonsense with therapists about anyway? Eh? Work out your issues through ROCK!

> "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" / "The Fix" - Elbow

Worthy winners of the Mercury Music prize the other day and still the best gig I have been to all year. Elbow are ace, and Guy Garvey is the best, warmest and most inclusive frontman in the history of gentle, melancholic indie. "The Seldom Seen Kid" is another slow burner of an album to add to the three other beautiful slow-burning albums the band have recorded. I've listened to the whole album several times since they won, but two songs in particular have stuck. "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" is the song the band played at the awards dinner. Not an obvious choice, but it's a lovely song and tells the story of how Garvey met a guy in a pub and discovered he was a tower crane driver. Initially it seemed like the best job in the world: well paid and with this fully equipped cab with a birds eye view of the world. A couple of pints in though, and it became clear that it was an awful lonely job and that everyone else on the site resented him because of his salary and his isolation and he was really very unhappy. Perfect material for an Elbow song, really. "The Fix" is a great duet between Garvey and Richard Hawley, and tells the story of two hardened gamblers and what they reckon is a dead cert, but somehow still seems doomed to failure:

"Too many times we've been postally pipped
We've loaded the saddles, the mickeys are slipped
We're swapping the turf for the sand and the surf and the sin
Cause the fix, the fix is in"

It's hard to resist making the link between Elbow and the characters in the song.... and after 18 years of struggling to make it, no one is going to postally pip them this time and the sand and the surf and the sin are theirs for the taking.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing them play at De Montfort Hall next month.

....and that's yer lot.

Have a good weekend, y'all.



  • At 3:26 pm, Blogger Rol said…


    That Elbow album is fantastic though. Seeing them live next month too - looking forward to it.


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