Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

The other night I watched “Kill Your Friends”, a movie about A&R men set at the time when Britpop was at it’s peak, which doesn’t sound like a particularly fascinating subject, but I really enjoyed it.

Not least because – oh, and spoiler alert – James Corden gets horrifically murdered quite early on.

The justification for his untimely demise? Perfectly reasonable:

  1. Not knowing that Guy Stevens, the producer of The Clash’s “London Calling”, was dead, and had been since 1981;
  2. Not knowing that Paul Weller writes his own songs;
  3. For considering signing Menswear.

I’m with the script-writers on points 1 and 2, but 3….hmmmm.

Generic, tail-coat hanging Britpop-by-numbers it may be, but I really like their Nuisance album, and I especially love this:

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Menswear – Stardust

More soon.

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I Won’t Share You

I’ve spent much of the last couple of days watching the televised games from the 3rd round of the FA Cup (and avoiding the cricket, of course).

The 3rd round is where the Premiership team get involved, and on Friday night, that involved watching Liverpool v Everton, and one particular banner that the camera focussed in on caught my eye.

I wasn’t sharp enough to take a photo of it, but there it was, a red banner with a picture of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on it, along with the words:

“The drive
And the dreams inside
This is my time.”

How nice it was,¬†I thought, that tribal and regional¬†hostilities could be laid to rest and a fan from Liverpool could quote the final song, on the final (proper) album,¬†by one of, if not the greatest, bands from Manchester, even if they didn’t realise that’s what they’d done:

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The Smiths – I Won’t Share You

More, of a very different nature, soon.

Definitely Not Something and Nothing

Following on from the last post (in an effort to make it look like I plan the shizzle I post here), there are two events from 2017 which stand out for me, and both involve the same person.

I’m not going to bang on about it again, but in November my old mate Rich and I went to see the Mighty Spurs play – and thrash – the Galacticos of Real Madrid. Seeing Ronaldo look even more pissed off than he must have done when they unveiled that bust of him was glorious.

And back in June – on his (Rich’s, not Ronaldo’s) birthday – we went and relived our youth, watching The Wedding Present perform their iconic “George Best” album, a record over which our friendship was first forged, a long, long¬†time ago.

Both of those nights will live long in the memory, partly because they were great nights, but mostly because I got to share both of them with my old mate of thirty years (and counting).

So, here’s something from that album, one that doesn’t usually get played, but one which I love (but then I love every song on it, so that’s no great accolade…):

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The Wedding Present – Something and Nothing

Bring on the “Tommy” tour!

More soon.

Winner!

At the end of 2017, I toyed with the idea of joining my peers in listing my favourite records of the year.

But that seemed like too much hard work.

So, since there was, thankfully, considerably less than there had been in 2016, I thought about writing something about all that we had lost in the preceding 12 months.

But then I remembered that there’s absolutely no point in trying to compete with the all-encompassing monthly (and yearly) round-ups of all who have checked out that Half-Hearted Dude does over at Any Major Dude With Half a Heart, which you can read here.

Having posted his annual round-up in mid December, HHD provided a further update at the end of the month, and it, rightly contained mention of the person I wanted to pay tribute to.

I don’t think I can sum up the work of the person in question any better than HHD does though, so here, hopefully with his blessing, is what he wrote:

“For many British TV fans of a certain age, the death of Keith Chegwin marked the passing of a national institution. Most famous for hosting children‚Äôs TV programmes such as Cheggers Plays Pop and Swap Shop in the 1970s and 80s,¬†Chegwin remained a fixture on the telly, not least through his appearance on the while range of reality TV shows that feature celebrities. But before he became a TV legend, ‚ÄúCheggers‚ÄĚ tried his hand at becoming a pop star‚Ķunsuccessfully. None of the five singles he released between 1973 and 1981 charted. He did hit the charts in 1981 as part of novelty celeb trio Brown Sauce, alongside fellow TV presenters Maggie Philbin and the unspeakably awful and thoroughly objectionable Noel Edmonds. It reached #15.”

There a few things I would add to that.¬†Firstly, it would be rude not to note that John Craven was probably livid to miss out on the chart action. Secondly, no, we’re not going to talk about The Naked Jungle, a (one-off, thankfully) gameshow where Cheggers appeared dressed in nowt but a pith helmet (Stop it!).

Thirdly, it should be noted that¬†Cheggars managed to revive his career more than once, first as the outside broadcaster on shows like The Big Breakfast (he was the ultimate, go-to¬†OB guy, truly nobody did it better), and then as a self-aware, past his sell-by-date caricature of himself in Ricky Gervais’¬†Life’s Too Short.¬†His ability to poke fun at himself should come as no surprise to anyone who has¬†read his autobiography, where¬†he speaks¬†openly, frankly and with dead-pan humour of his dark days battling alcoholism. For a man that many of us looked up to, dammit wanted to be, when we were growing up, that took some balls (which we wish we hadn’t seen on the aforementioned Naked Jungle).

Anyway here’s the record in question, which I refuse to call a Novelty, despite what some might say:

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Brown Sauce – I Wanna Be A Winner

In a cardboard box stuffed under a deluge of postcards offering Dukla Prague away kits to be swapped for Scalextric kit, Posh Paws is applauding.

Cheers, Cheggars, and thanks for all the laughs.

More soon.

Strings on Sunday

In a week when the UK has been battered by Storm Eleanor (the lids on my bins were blown open (not a euphemism), I’m not sure we can ever rebuild), this seems appropriate:

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Kate Bush – Cloudbusting (The Organon Mix)

If you don’t love that, then I’m¬†sorry to report you’re already dead inside.

More soon.

Bothered. Not Bothered.

For the first time in many years, I’ve found myself subscribing to¬†a TV channel that showed the Ashes.

So, lovely and magnanimous person that I am, I gave my passwords to my Dad so he could either stay up all night watching it, or at the very least see the highlights.

Highlights is a very subjective word.

Having lost The Ashes weeks ago, I’d like to dedicate this to England’s top order batsmen, who, except for the (very) occasional show of defiance, have been fecking awful:

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Rainbow – I Surrender

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

When I was a kid, before I moved on to “Big School”, I would return home at lunchtimes, sit at the kitchen table and eat my lunch (always sandwiches, often cheese and Sandwich Spread (which I was extremely surprised to find recently is still a thing), occasionally cheese and tomato, or if I was very lucky, peanut butter and blackcurrant jam) and I would watch the lunchtime kids TV shows.

The BBC didn’t really show anything at the time I was home, so it would be over to ITV, for either Rainbow, or maybe Pipkins.

I¬†mention this for two reasons: firstly, it was probably the last time that I didn’t curse, tut or sigh when the adverts came on, and secondly, because, even though I had no idea about things like Big Brother (the Orwellian “1984” concept, rather than the TV show), I was convinced that we were being watched by people, only these people were¬†trying to sell us¬†stuff.

My logic was this: during my home lunch breaks, I never saw an advert for something we already owned. Everything that was advertised was something for something that we didn’t have, or, more to the point, something that I wanted.

I became obsessed with the idea that our kitchen cupboards had cameras hidden in them, monitoring what we had and what we did not have. Often, I would perform a quick inventory of the cupboards before I sat down, and as the adverts sped by, I’d think to myself: “Ha! I’m right! We don’t have those things, and I want some of them. They must be watching!”

Of course, the things that we didn’t have, which were¬†being advertised in the break in the middle of a children’s lunchtime show, were generally¬†sweets or¬†toys, which had no place in our kitchen cupboard in any event.

I’m reminded of an advert for Refreshers, which must have come out in the wake of Star Wars, so we’re talking around 1977 here.

This advert, in fact:

NB: “Put one in your mouth and hold this tube in your hand” is a phrase which got me into a lot of trouble when I was older.

I digress, for the sake of a smutty gag.

Having seen that, and already knowing the answer, I checked our kitchen cupboards to see if there happened to be¬†a tube of Refreshers lurking in there anywhere. Partly to prove my point (to myself), partly because I quite liked Refreshers, but mostly because I’d like them even more if they really did turn into a light¬†sabre.

There were no Refreshers in the cupboard, of course, but this only¬†confirmed my suspicions. ‘They’ were watching.

I was convinced: ‘They’ knew what we did not have, and tailored the adverts to show us things we could have if we just tried a bit harder.

Years later, I was working at Boots the Chemist when they introduced the Advantage Card. The purpose of this – and of any other store loyalty card, be it a Tesco Clubcard, a Sainsbury’s Nectar Card, or whatever – is not, as they would have us believe, to reward us for being a lovely, faithful, returning customer, and to present us with redeemable points which allow us to get more products for “free”, but so they can monitor what we buy¬†and then target us with suggestions of similar or related products we might also want to purchase, preferably from their store.

There’s an incentive, of course. Hey! It’s a two-way deal! You let us monitor exactly what you buy, how often, and when, and we’ll give you free things, say the companies.

I’d be very surprised if most of you don’t realise this already, of course. What’s interesting is the ease with which these cards have become common-place, and the trade-off terms¬†which we’re prepared to accept in the hope of freebies.

For example: I still have my company-issue Advantage Card, and, unless I attend a special event or spend an absolute shedload at once, I get 1 point for every 25 pence that I spend.¬†So that’s 4 points for every ¬£1.00.

1 point, when redeemed, is worth 1 penny.

And that, apparently, is where I value my privacy. At 4% of my spend at that particular store. Which seems a pretty cheap surrender, to me.

As I did when I sat  in the meeting about the introduction of the Card, way back in the late 1990s, where I remember thinking that I was right all along, just a few (well, okay, about twenty) years ahead. They are now, actually, watching us via the things that we buy, but now they do it not via hidden cameras, as I had thought as a child, but through our own complicit willingness to allow them.

(I also rued that I hadn’t actually thought of the fully formed idea myself and trademarked it, of course.)

I mention all of this now because it’s January, and the sales are on, so we’re being overwhelmed by adverts, predominantly for furniture that we do not want to own, or holidays that we do not want to go on, or quit smoking aids that we do not need, or weight loss programs that we could probably do with but can’t be arsed to engage with.

But this year, I’ve noticed loads of adverts for different companies selling mattresses, which already seems to be the must-have item of 2018.

As well as setting me off on paranoid, nostalgic ramblings, it does make me long for more simplistic times.

Billy Jo Spears knows what I mean, even if the utilisation of her choice of al fresco bedding is for somewhat saucier purposes than can legally be featured in adverts:

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Billie Jo Spears – Blanket on the Ground

All of which is quite some heavy, paranoid stuff for a Sunday Morning (you can tell I’ve gone a little stir crazy with the flu and no internet), so to lighten the mood a little more, here’s an extra mattress-related tune for you:

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John Denver – Grandma’s Feather Bed

And finally, since we established long ago on these pages that nothing, but nothing, is not improved by the introduction of the Muppets:

More soon.