S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs)

Ah, well, it seems after my, ahem, “inspirational, motivational” post yesterday morning, we need to cleanse the palate, somewhat.

So, to return to the topic of songs deemed ripe to be appropriated by those who seek to sell us stuff, and after my first post on this topic a couple of weeks ago, I left the door open for any pet hates you might have in this area.

At which point, I’ll hand you over to an uncensored (sorry Mum!) suggestion from Drew over at the reliably wonderful Across The Kitchen Table who sent me this:

“What the fuck has ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ got to do with fucking happy eggs? I could just about handle the use of it for shit greasy chicken but eggs!”

‘Happy eggs’ sounds like some kind of sex toy, doesn’t it?

Consider it reclaimed, Drew:


Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)

I honestly can’t believe I’ve never posted that before, mostly because it would give me the opportunity to brag that, one night a year or so when I was awake ridiculously early for no apparent reason, I tweeted it to 6Music DJ Chris Hawkins as a suggestion for the 5:15 tune, and he played it. Not a great claim to fame, granted, but them’s the breaks.

Anyway, more soon, and feel free to suggest any other beloved records you’re disgusted to hear used in an advert.

Strings on Sunday

I’ve been slightly unkind about some of The Beuatiful South’s cover versions on these pages previously, but they are a band who I really like (up to a point), a fact which gains puzzled looks from many of my friends who are less receptive to their charms.

I say “up to a point”, because there was a definite moment in their career where I fell out of love with them, that moment being 1998’s Perfect 10 single (although I did still buy the album if was the lead single from, and quite like a couple of tracks on it).

Anyway, today’s choice is one of my favourites by them, lifted from their debut album, sort of. It is on there, but when released as a single, it was re-recorded with more strings, making it just a little bit more delicately mournful:

the-beautiful-south-ill-sail-this-ship-alone-go-discs-londonThe Beautiful South – I’ll Sail This Ship Alone

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Regular readers may remember that last year, prompted by a visit to my local multiplex to see T2: Trainspotting I vowed to go to the cinema more often, and signed up for one of those membership cards, where you pay a set amount every month (£17.70, in my case), and you get unlimited visits along with discounts on the massively over-priced munchies they sell in the foyer.

In December, I got an email from the cinema in question. The subject of the email was well intended: to show me how much money I’d saved by subscribing to the Unlimited scheme. Unfortunately, the email revealed that I had “saved” -£135.00. Yes, minus.

Probably because I only went five times all year. I think I may have just stumbled across the reason why I’m not a millionaire yet.

So, New Year’s Resolution time: to go to the cinema more frequently, and with Oscars season upon us, there’s arguably no better time to go.

At the time of writing, I’ve been twice, once to see that latest Star Wars movie (which I figured would be best seen on the big screen), and also to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

On arrival, I went to get myself some popcorn, but the tills were down, so there followed an awkward conversation with the girl serving behind the counter.

Her: What film are you going to see?

Me: The one with the odd name. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Her: (after staring at me for what seemed an eternity, like I’d just spoken in an impenetrable foreign language). Oh.

Me: Yeh. The reviews have been really good, and I really like the three main actors in it.

Her: Oh a lot of people have been coming out and saying how good that is.

Luckily, the tills pinged back into life before I had chance to challenge this. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve come out of the cinema having just seen a truly great film, I’ve never felt the urge to rush over to the popcorn stand and tell a disinterested teenager how wonderful the movie was.

Anyway, the three main actors in Three Billboards… are Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.

You’ll know McDormand from a lot of Coen Brothers movies, but primarily, I’d think, Fargo, but she’s been nominated for Best Supporting Actress three times before, for Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country. She is reliably brilliant in every role I’ve seen her play. Rockwell you will recognise from Frost/Nixon, Duncan “Son of Bowie” Jones’ Moon, and he was Zaphod Beeblebrox in the movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Harrelson surely needs no introduction by now, but many of you will have first encountered him in 80s sitcom Cheers, and if not there then in Natural Born Killers, or maybe the Hunger Games franchise, or Zombieland (which if you haven’t seen, is just terrific), or more recently in War for the Planet of the Apes.

All three have received Oscar nominations, as has the movie, and I can tell you that all are fully justified (although I haven’t seen the other nominated movies…yet).

Here’s the basic premise: frustrated with the local police’s failure to bring her daughter’s murder to justice, Mildred Hayes (McDormand) takes matters into her own hands, by renting the titular Three Billboards and using them to bring the murder investigation back into the limelight. No spoilers, obviously, but needless to say doing so sets in motion a train of events which are at times shocking and at others blackly comic.

I can’t recommend this film enough, if I’m honest, it’s just great.

But why am I blethering on about movies on a Sunday morning when all you want to hear is some Country music? Well, because part way through the film, a song came on the soundtrack which I wasn’t familiar with, but the voice was unmistakable.

And here it is, the wonderful Townes Van Zandt from his 1987 At My Window album:

MI0001907378Townes Van Zandt – Buckskin Stallion Blues

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Something a little different tonight.

If you’re especially cool, and just happened to be at a loose end on New Year’s Eve, like all the cool kids did, then doubtless you will have found that there was a new option in the short list of things to do to greet the New Year in.

For as 2017 turned into 2018, as well as the usual choices of getting drunk, sleeping and watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny,  this year there was the added possibility of listening to Erol Alkan on 6Music. He’s also been standing in for Gilles Peterson for the past few Saturday afternoons on the same channel.

Erol’s been a bit of a hero of mine for quite a few years now, ever since me and a little gang of my mates ventured up to a holiday camp in Southport for something called Global Gathering around 15 years ago, and I stumbled across him playing in one of the side rooms.

Alkan is renowned for playing DJ sets which refuse to conform to the standard idea of what a club DJ should be playing, and so it was on this occasion that amongst all of the beaty dance stuff, he dropped tunes like The Cure’s The Walk, The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, and Madonna’s Vogue.

I love him, but he’s an Arsenal fan, so I can never truly submit.

Shortly afterwards, back in Cardiff, I was browsing the racks in the now sadly defunct Fopp! when they started playing a mix CD, which piqued my interest. To save anyone’s embarrassment by having to ask the staff, or possibly to limit the amount of time staff spoke to nerdy shoppers, there was a “Now Playing” sign on the counter, with the CD case leaning against it. I knew I had to have it as soon as Soulwax’s E Talking (Nite Versions) featured, and moments later I was striding towards the counter, double CD set clutched in my hand.

The cute girl at the till gave me a knowing look. She knew that I had fallen into the trap, taken the bait she had laid.

“Good choice,” she said, scanning the barcode, a knowing smile playing across her lips.

“So it sounds,” I replied, thinking how clever I’d been to not say “So it seems” like normal people do, the losers, but to change it to “So it sounds” because I could hear the CD I was buying as we spoke.

The conversation went no further and like many other women I’ve met she didn’t sleep with me, but on the plus side I owned an absolutely wonderful  double mix CD.

The CD in question was Erol Alkan’s Bugged Out/Bugged In CD, and this is CD2, the 75 minute long Bugged In Mix. The Bugged Out Mix is full of party bangers, the Bugged In Mix is somewhat quieter.

Some of the songs, or different versions of them, may have featured here before, but I thought of posting them all by myself and without any help or inspiration, honest.


Erol Alkan – A Bugged In Selection

Get it whilst my bandwidth can cope.

More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

More now from the gut reactions that I have to certain sentences, which make me think of specific records.

When I walked back into the ground floor of the building in which my office is housed on Friday, I was confronted by a massive TV set, bearing the words: “Welcome to…” followed by the name of the building.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the building where I work for much the same reason that I’m not going to post my address and bank account details, but I will reveal that it has five syllables in it.

As soon as I saw the words on the screen, this song came into my head, and I realised shortly afterwards that anytime I see the words “Welcome to…” followed by a five syllable name, it happens then too:


Black Grape – Tramazi Party

Have a great end of January Saturday night folks!

More soon.


On Thursday I got the bus home from work, and found myself sitting just in front of a bunch of schoolboys. They were probably aged around 10 or 11, were very boisterous and loud in that way that boys around 10 or 11 generally are, particularly when they’re in a group. And naturally, they really pissed me off, not because of the volume or the boisterousness (not at first anyway) but because I envied the young little sods, riding buses without a care in the world.

I decided to ignore them, turned my iPod up a couple of notches to block out the noise, and focussed my attention onto Twitter on my phone.

And then they started chucking stuff around.

And one of the things they were chucking around – an empty fries box, I think, I didn’t really examine it – landed on my lap.

I sensed a silence fall upon them. I turned and gave them all my best disapproving look. The one teachers used to give me just before reciting the “You’ve let yourself down…” mantra. I picked up the fries box, thought about throwing it into the nearest one’s face, decided against it, and placed it on the seat next to me.

Shortly afterwards, they all began to leave the bus, so I could unclench my teeth and relax a little.

On Friday, I walked to the usual bus stop, which is on the High Street of the not-so-sleepy little North London market town where I work. Being Friday it was quite busy, and I felt my shoulders sag as I saw how many people were congregated at the bus stop, especially when I noticed that many of them were school kids.

My heart sank even further when I spotted the schoolboys from the previous night’s journey home. They were, of course, completely oblivious to me; one of them was too busy doing keepy-uppies with a tennis ball to notice me anyway.

And then, as I got closer to them, intending to pass, something happened. One of those moments that men of a certain age – ok, men of my age – dream of.

The lad lost control of the tennis ball, and it was heading towards me.

Without breaking stride, I chested it – ok, stomached it – down onto my left knee, knocked it back up again, before volleying it with my right foot back to the boy, who caught it, his mouth agape at the awesome skills that he had just witnessed.

Part of me wanted to run the rest of the way to the bus stop with my shirt pulled up over my head, Shearer-hand raised to the crowd, but I decided the world wasn’t ready for that vision just yet.

The bus arrived, I got on, the same group of schoolboys followed shortly afterwards, and of course sat behind me. The boy with the tennis ball stared at me as he walked past. I knew then that the journey home would be less eventful and stressful than the one the previous night: I had earned his respect.

And then an empty box of fried chicken, empty, that is, apart from some bones and a tomato sauce sachet, flew past my ear, and struck the seat in front of me, showering its semi-gnawed contents all over me.

I turned up my iPod.

Ain't That Enough Front

Teenage Fanclub – Kickabout

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

Nope, I’m not done grieving yet.

I’ve often said that the version of a song that you hear first is the version that you prefer, even if it transpires that the consensus of agreement is that the original is far better.

But here’s another way that you can tell that a cover version is better then the original: when the cover is so befitting a certain band’s style, that you don’t realise it’s a cover version until twenty odd years later.

Such was my experience with today’s tune.

There’s nothing wrong with the original. It’s just not by The Fall.

By way of evidence, here’s the original:


The Other Half – Mr. Pharmacist

And here’s the cover version:


The Fall – Mr Pharmacist

Told you so.

More soon-ah.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

This is not the song I intended to post today. But, by Christ, there’s no other band that I want to listen to today.

Just as Mark E Smith inspired so many others to pick up a guitar and play, or grab a microphone and shout (just as quite a few former members of The Fall were inspired to never play another musical note as long as they lived), it was a record by The Fall which first gave me the idea for this series.

And after last night’s news that he is no longer with us, I thought it was about time I posted the song in question.

In 1986, The Fall were just entering into what turned out to be the phase of their career where they bothered the UK Charts the most. I don’t think you could ever really describe anything hey released as commercial successes, but they had a large, devoted following who bought everything they did, and when a few other curious folks pricked up their ears at the Fall’s sound, it resulted in a brief flirtation with fame.

This record came on the back of the cover versions of Mr Pharmacist (which reached #75) and just before There’s A Ghost in My House (#30), and it reached #58 itself. In my little bubble, it’s criminal that none of these records reached the Top 10 at the very least.

I remember my old mate Richard and I strong-arming the DJ at my 18th birthday party to play this, much to everyone else’s bemusement. We were the only two who danced to it, but we didn’t care, because that just reinforced our belief that this was our music, not theirs.

This is the chuffingly mad-ah genius-ah that was Mark E Smith and The Fall circa 1986-ah:


The Fall – Hey! Luciani

More soon-ah.

I Think You Should Remember Whose Side You Are On

Terribly, terribly sad news reaches us that avuncular legend Mark E Smith, he of The Fall, has died.

I bought my first single by The Fall at the age of 18, and whilst other bands are still around, they’re the only band I can think of who have continued to release brilliant records ever since.

I’m not going to claim to be a super-fan; some of their songs I find deeply impenetrable. But those are vastly outweighed by the oh-so-many moments of utterly mad brilliance.

The line-up may not have remained the same for much more than two records at a time, but there was always one constant, the glue that held the glorious ramshackle noise together, and now he’s gone.

Oddly, of all of the Fall records I could have chosen to play right now, I’m plumping for this, as it’s my favourite vocal and lyrical performance by Smith, elevating a perfunctory song from a fairly uninspired Inspiral Carpets thrash far above and beyond anything they could have managed without him.


Inspiral Carpets feat. Mark E. Smith – I Want You

I’m off to have a little sob to myself and to raise a glass to the grumpy old bugger.

Things won’t be the same without him.

More soon.