I’m Not Too Keen On Mondays

Every week day, I get the bus to work.

The bus stop I get off at is a short walk away from the office.

In fact, it takes me 1 minute and 49 seconds to walk from the bus, into the building, into the lift, and then out into the office.

No, I haven’t timed it.

So, how do I know this?

Well, because the other morning, today’s song kicked in the very moment that my foot set foot on the ground as I alighted from the bus, and it stopped precisely at the moment that the office door closed behind me.

And blimey, that set me right up for the day.

I hope it has the same effect on you:

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Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

More soon.

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The A Word

I was genuinely pleased to see the return for a second series this week of BBC drama The A Word.

I really enjoyed the first series which I had watched for one simple reason: Christopher Eccleston. 

Eccleston is an actor I could watch endlessly; I’ve never seen him be in anything bad, and I’ve never seen him be bad in anything.

And before you ask, my admiration for him pre-dates his brief stint as Dr Who. It even pre-dates his appearances in Danny Boyle directed movies like Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later.

Although actually, the source of my admiration for Eccleston comes from the same year as Shallow Grave, 1994, but I didn’t watch that until after I’d seen – and because I had seen – Cracker.

Cracker was a rarity in my book: a compelling, well-acted, well-scripted drama on ITV; I can’t think of a single drama they have shown which comes anywhere close to how good that show was in it’s first and second series. Much of that was down to the writing, by Jimmy McGovern; as with Eccleston, to this day, I try to watch anything which has his name attached to it.

The show also introduced me to a couple of other actors that I still try to catch as often as possible: John Simm, Samantha Morton and Robert Carlyle.

In fact, Carlyle plays a large part in the reason I loved this show.

Spoiler alert.

One of the reasons Cracker left a massive impression on me was the shocking, death of Eccleston’s character, DCI David Bilborough, at the hands of Carlyle’s Albie Kinsella, in the first story of the second series, “To Be a Somebody”.

This was something I had never seen before: a main character brutally, unexpectedly, killed off. Other TV shows have since followed suit (although I’ve never watched it, Spooks springs to mind). And if you think about it, that’s drama reflecting real life; when people die young, or in the line of duty, you generally don’t expect it, so the loss is a bolt from the blue, an absolute shock.

But I digress. When I saw that Eccleston was going to be in the first series of The A Word, I knew I was going to have to watch it.

The A Word is about Joe,  a young boy on the autistic spectrum, and the effect that his condition (and other things) has on his extended family.

Joe finds it difficult to engage with people, but he finds it very easy to engage with music; he has a pair of headphones permanently attached to him, can quote the year each song he listens to was released, who it was by, etc, and often the bulk of his conversation is focused on song titles and lyrics of his favourite songs.

And joy of joys, he has bloody great taste in music. Here’s three songs which featured heavily in the first series:

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The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

And – don’t knock this one, it’s bloody great, if not quite in the same league as the two it’s sandwiched between here:

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Will Young – Leave Right Now

And, since I haven’t posted it for a while, and it remains one of the greatest (indie) records ever:

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The Wedding Present – Kennedy

The entire first series is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer, should you be so inclined.

Or, some kind soul has compiled a playlist of all the songs which featured in Series 1 over on YouTube, which you can have a look at here.

So, could the second series match the very high standards it had set itself in the first series?

Oh, yes.

Here’s what the music over the first scene was:

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Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

Promising.

And then, a little later, gloriously, this:

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The Wedding Present – Brassneck

Note: not the album version, but the Steve Albini produced single version. Class.

So anyway, if you enjoy the sort of stuff I post here, give The A Word a look. You might even quite like the drama aspect, but if you don’t, you’ll love the soundtrack.

And if Joe isn’t writing his own music blog by the time Series 3 comes around, I’ll be very disappointed.

Either way, that should have got your weekend off to a decent enough start.

I’m tempted, as the series progresses, to feature all the great songs that feature in the show. We’ll see (if I can be arsed).

In other words: More soon.

He Cared a Lot

After the horror onslaught that was 2016, I decided not to focus too much on famous people shuffling off this mortal coil.

But as I scanned through the pages of a traditionally misspelt UK newspaper this morning, I spotted that Chuck Mosley has died.

Not a name that immediately springs to mind for many, I would imagine, but Mosley was the lead singer of Faith No More between 1984 and 1988, i.e. before they got famous.

And he wrote this, a single I bought on 7″ at the time, a sarcastic, satirical response to the Band Aid and USA for Africa charity singles:

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Faith No More – We Care A Lot

His family released this statement:

“After a long period of sobriety, Charles Henry Mosley III lost his life, on 9 November 2017, due to the disease of addiction.

We’re sharing the manner in which he passed, in the hopes that it might serve as a warning or wake up call or beacon to anyone else struggling to fight for sobriety.”

Sad news, powerful message.

Rest easy, Chuck.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

The thing about taking a hiatus, as I did recently, is that stuff still happens.

And much as I tried to take Alyson’s advice to resist the temptation to read other blogs whilst I was “resting up”, I couldn’t, and so it was that I found out that the “Gentle Giant” of country music, Don Williams had died.

He’s probably best known for this coming-of-age tale:

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Don Williams – I Recall a Gypsy Woman

But there were many other wonderful songs in his back catalogue, one of which has featured here before, so I’ll skip that one and play a couple more:

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Don Williams – Amanda

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Don Williams – I’m Just a Country Boy

And this, covered by Eric Clapton back in 1978 (and listening to it, you can hear why he would):

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Don Williams – Tulsa Time

Some of those lyrics are pure poetry. He may not have written them all, but he sure had an ear for a good rhyme and a tune.

He’ll be much missed round these parts.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

A confession.

I really like Embrace’s first album, “The Good Will Out”.

Actually, I quite like a couple of singles off the album after that too.

But there’s always been issues with Embrace.

Firstly, they featured two brothers. Not necessarily an issue, but “The Good Will Out” was released in 1998, when two other brothers, also in a band, were well on their way to stardom. It was on this basis that the music press drew comparisons, which were for the most part unfounded. Lazy journalism, if you ask me. Or perhaps catering for an idiot readership who needed similarities between acts to be spelled out to them. “Look, here’s Oasis, they’ve got Liam and Noel Gallagher! And now, look over here, here’s Embrace, they’ve got Danny and Richard McNamara [Yes, I did have to check]! And they’re all from The North! They must be the same!”

You may as well say that The Proclaimers are the same as The Jesus & Mary Chain, because they’re both from Scotland, have two brothers in the band, and they’re all called Reid. (As an aside: remember when two different acts used to record a double ‘A’ single, one act on each side, covering one of the other’s songs? Wouldn’t it be great to here those two covering each other? Just imagine The Mary Chain doing “Let’s Get Married”, or The Proclaimers strumming “You Trip Me Up”. I demand this happens. Now.)

Secondly, they got Chris Martin to write their comeback single, “Gravity” in 2004. If they hadn’t already lost me by that point, then that would have been the final nail in the coffin for me and Embrace.

And appropriately, thirdly, there’s their cover version of De La Soul’s “The Magic Number”, which I wrote about here (I’ve re-upped the links, cos I’m nice like that).

But for all that, they did have some really nice songs back in the beginning. Not great, not beautiful, just nice.

This is one of them, and since it’s now November 5th, I can justify posting it (Not that I need to justify anything to you people. Nobody forces you to come here):

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Embrace – Fireworks

More soon. Maybe better, maybe not.