The Election Section V2.5

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Today is the last chance you have to make sure you are able to vote in the forthcoming General Election.

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The Housemartins – Sitting on a Fence

At the risk of banging a point home, here’s that pie chart showing how many people didn’t vote in the EU Referendum:

C43Mq4SWQAA9-x7If you want to make sure that you have a say in matters on June 8th, you need to go here by the end of today, the 22nd May 2017.

It only takes five minutes, and all you will need is:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad

And don’t give me any of that “They’re all as bad as each other” nonsense, because they’re not. Some of them are clearly much, much worse than others.

You can help stop them from being in power for the next five years.

More soon.

No Such Thing as a Guilty Pleasure

The other weekend, I went to a wedding in Wales, and I had a really, really great time, not just because of the wedding, but also because I got to meet up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen since I left Wales, almost ten years ago.

In the evening, there was a disco. I’ll not pass comment on the DJ for two reasons: firstly, the groom has been known to visit these pages, and I wish to appear neither spiteful nor ungrateful, and secondly, the DJ did what any wedding DJ does: he played songs he thought would appeal to all of the generations in the room, and would get them on the dancefloor. Let’s just say that we enjoyed his set in a way which he probably didn’t intend.

One such song was this, which none of us danced to, but we did have a ruddy good sing-a-long to on on our table.

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Mental As Anything – Live It Up

Yes, it’s a bit cheesy. But that doesn’t stop it from being a bit great.

More soon.

Mash

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Over at Drew’s consistently wonderful Across The Kitchen Table last week, he posted a rather fine mash-up of a Velvet Underground tune with a Christine Aguilera one (with a bit of The Communards thrown in for good measure).

I’ve talked about mash-ups here before, but just to recap: I think they can be great, but what annoys me about them is when the remixer goes a bit too far. Usually this means they have included a bit of the vocal from the backing track they’ve used, which always seems to me to be them pointing out what they’ve done, in a “Look at me, aren’t I clever?” kind of way. There’s no need, we already get it, and don’t need to have it explained to us to that degree.

That said, there are some that really work, the most famous of which, and which can probably be accredited with kick-starting the whole mash-up fad,  also involves Ms Aguilera:

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Freelance Hellraiser – A Stroke of Genius

I’ve posted a couple of mash-ups before that I really like: Making Plans for Vinyl (XTC vs Tweet) and She Wants a Spank (N*E*R*D* vs Spanky Wilson) and so here’s a couple more: MIA: Wanted, Dead or Alive and Water Lily

More soon.

I Am the Voice, Too #2

I wasn’t intending to post anything else under this title, but my post yesterday seems to have caused quite the stir.

I went to a barbeque at one of my mate’s yesterday afternoon, and a couple of friends who read the guff I write here made reference to it. One (hello!) has often commented on my voice, regularly comparing me to Eastenders’ Frank Butcher, asking me to say “Do you think I’m some kind of a doughnut?” to him.

For the record, he has never asked me to stand naked, bar a revolving bow tie. Yet.

There have also been a couple of enquiries via the Comments section as to whether my singing voice has the same deep qualities.

Well. Yes and no. I would never claim to be the greatest singer in the world. I’m no Billy Bragg. But, once I have a few drinks inside me, it’s true that I do like a bit of a sing-song, as anyone who has sat and got drunk with me will doubtless attest (much to their annoyance).

So, here’s a song which, when seven sheets to the wind,  I do love to sing along to (mostly because it’s just talking, for the large part of it); to be clear, I’m not saying that I sound like the great man, but I can give it a bloody good go:

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Kris Kristofferson – To Beat The Devil

When the conversation happened in work on Friday, after the laughter had died down, my boss Kay described my voice as “a higher Barry White”, which I guess makes me a Love Seal rather than a Love Walrus.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

So, the manifestos are out, and what have we learned?

Labour, who were central left until Corbyn took over, have placed themselves even further to the left. The Conservatives, when they aren’t absorbing every policy UKIP policy – which would put them firmly to the right – have adopted not just the old Labour policy about the energy cap I mentioned last week, but also have attacked pensioners by modifying an old Labour policy (in the 2015 election, Labour said they’d take the winter fuel allowance off the top 5% of pensioners, this time around the Conservatives have just said they’ll take it off all of them), and of course, have just reiterated their pledge to reduce migration (the same thing they’ve made for the past seven years, just with the goal-posts moved a little further away every time).

It’s confusing; the Conservatives seem to be positioning themselves more centre left, but then you read the stuff about fox-hunting, about robbing school children of their free lunches, and of, basically, giving up on the NHS and you wonder where they actually sit on the political spectrum. Wherever it is, I’m sure it’s a strong and stable position.

Johnny has an allegorical explanation:

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Johnny Cash – The One on the Right is on the Left

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Ask anyone to describe Supergrass’ records, and I’d wager that most of them would mention their cheeky, upbeat singles, such as “Alright”, “Caught By The Fuzz” and “Pumping on the Stereo”.

What they’re unlikely to mention is some of their quieter, more reflective songs.

Songs like this, the closing track on their third, eponymous album:

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Supergrass – Mama & Papa

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

In 1982, Dave Robertson of Stiff Records made a suggestion to a new label signing: record three cover versions to attract everybody’s attention, then release an original composition and it will be a massive hit.

The band dutifully obliged, releasing covers of The Dixie Cups “Iko Iko”, Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song”, and Inez & Charlie Foxx’s “Mockingbird”.

And then, the killer song what they wrote themselves (to quote Ernie Wise), which in 1983 gave them their biggest hit, their only UK Top 10 (See? Dave knows best), and an absolute stone-cold classic to these ears. I speak, of course, of this:

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The Belle Stars – Sign of the Times

Of course, The Belle Stars weren’t the first act to record a hit single by that name, nor would they be the last.

Take Bryan Ferry, for example. In 1978, on hiatus from Roxy Music, he released his fifth solo album, “The Bride Stripped Bare”; this was the second single of four lifted from it, and the only one to grace the UK Top 40, and even then only reaching No. 37:

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Bryan Ferry – Sign of the Times

An honourable mention at this point to Prince, who would get a bit more written now had he not abbreviated the word of to o’, which saves me precisely no time to either write or type:

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Prince – Sign O’ The Times

You’ve probably guessed where I’m going next. Yup, in one direction only. (See what I did there?)

I’m surprised to find that I really like this next song. For a start, I don’t think I’ve liked any songs released by his former band, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to anything by them, so don’t be too flabbergasted if at some point one of theirs crops up in the This Is Pop thread elsewhere on these pages at some point.

I’m also surprised because at just over five and a half-minutes long it seems just a teensy bit too long given that, well, nothing really happens in it, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just flits between falsetto and what appears to be an impression of Kelly Jones of Stereophonics fame.

But sometimes you find yourself liking a record not because it fits the remit and sound of the type of thing you like, but despite it. And such is the case with this (which I’ve deliberately misspelled in the hope that I’ll avoid a take-down notice):

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Hairy Stiles – Sign of the Thymes

There. I’ve said it. And I feel so much better for it.

More soon.