I Got Mail

I had a rather lovely surprise the other week when I finally got round to checking the email account linked to this blog: an email from a chap called Hal, who had kindly taken the time to email me from Western Australia to tell me how much he enjoyed the blog, and to give me a couple of suggestions/requests for things to feature on these pages.

I’d never heard of either of them, but promised I’d  try to find a way to squeeze them both in sometime. One of the choices I figured would be fairly straightforward, the other…hmmm…not so much.

So when Hal said: “Do you think that Pluto Shervington should put in an appearance?”, and I checked him out and found he is a reggae singer, I began to question how I’d manage to feature him. See, I’ve mentioned before that reggae music has always been a bit of a blind spot for me. Get past Marley, Tosh and…erm…UB40, and frankly I’m a little bit lost.

On BBC4 at the moment, they’re continuing to air old editions of Top of The Pops, and they’re up to 1985 now, but at the same time, they’ve started showing ones from earlier in the 1980s, which they probably only re-aired a couple of years ago at the most.

When watching an episode from 1982 the other night, my ears pricked up when a chap called just Pluto was introduced. There’s a coincidence, I thought, before realising the Pluto in question was none other than Mr Shervington, and the song was one that I’d stumbled across on YouTube after I got Hal’s email.

And wouldn’t you just know it, I’ve only had the song in my brain ever since, which I figured was enough of a reason to share it with y’all.

Recorded in 1975, but not released until 1982 when it reached the giddy heights of #19 in the UK Charts, this is Your “Honour”:

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Pluto – Your “Honour”

There’s much to love about this; the fact Mr Shervington has decided he is famous enough to be known by a single moniker, a la Madonna or Prince; the sarcastic use of speech marks around the word “Honour” in the title, showing a healthy disregard for the Judge’s authority; not to mention the plot-line pre-referencing R Kelly’s gloriously loopy Trapped in the Closet opus, whilst also doubtless planting the seed for Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me.

Don’t let that put you off though. It’s really rather good.

Cheers, Hal!

More soon.

I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

Here we go again, another weekend over, another freezing cold Monday morning.

Here’s your obligatory ‘get up and get at them’ tune, along with the cheesiest radio DJ link I’ve ever written:

Hey Great Mates, I hope you do Great Things with your Monday.

Let’s rock:

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Echobelly – Great Things

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More soon.

Strings on Sunday

Regular readers may recall that I went to see and absolutely loved Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a few weeks ago, which picked up 5 awards (including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Original Screenplay, Leading Actress and Supporting Actor (to Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell respectively) at the BAFTAs last weekend.

With Oscars night fast approaching, and now armed with my Unlimited pass to my local cinema, I’m trying to get to see as many of the other nominated films as I can.

A couple of weeks ago, I popped along to see Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman in a fat suit as Winston Churchill (winner of the BAFTA Leading Actor, deservedly so, he’s phenomenal in it), and this week I went to see what, with 13 nominations, is the main challenger to Three Billboards… at the Oscars: The Shape of Water (which won Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, and Best Original Music for Alexandre Desplat at the BAFTAs).

The plot of The Shape of Water (don’t worry – no spoilers) is your standard Bad Man captures Fish-Man, Mute Girl meets Fish-Man, Mute Girl and Fish-Man fall in love, Mute Girl attempts to rescue Fish-Man from Bad Man, Mute Girl and Fish-Man engage in some really rather inappropriate sexual activity (don’t send me comments, I understand that it’s symbolic); you know, the sort of thing we’ve seen hundreds of times before.

Joking aside, The Shape of Water really is rather beautiful to look at, and Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito (Mute Girl) is spellbinding, but ultimately I came away from it feeling a little underwhelmed. For my money, the Fish-Man looked just a bit too much like The Creature from the Black Lagoon which apparently inspired this film, there wasn’t really much in the way of tension or surprises, and, knowing the basic premise of the film before I went, the final dénouement came as no surprise whatsoever: I quite literally saw it coming from pretty much the opening scene.

And so to today’s string song, which comes from the movie’s soundtrack. Originally recorded by Alice Faye, and appearing in 1943’s Hello, Frisco, Hello, for which it won the Oscar for Best Original Song, it’s perhaps best known this side of the pond as being a Vera Lynn song, although it’s also been covered by Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Trini Lopez, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Shirley Bassey, Hugh Masekale and Michael Bublé, to name but a few.

Faye’s version makes an appearance in The Shape of Water, but Hawkins also lip-syncs to a new recording, featuring American opera singer Renée Fleming with the London Symphony Orchestra, on a scene where she…erm…dances with the Fish-Man, and it’s this version which appears on the Original Soundtrack release:

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Alexandre Desplat (feat. Renée Fleming) – You’ll Never Know

As for the Oscars: my money’s still on Three Billboards… to scoop the lion’s share of the awards.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I haven’t written many of my Replenishing the Vinyl series recently, for the fairly good reason that I’ve not actually bought much old vinyl recently.

That changed this week when I picked up a couple of albums very cheaply on ebay, both from the same vendor, so combined postage costs, ker-ching!

I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours yesterday morning listening to the albums in question, both of which I’ll feature in a little more depth soon enough.

But I couldn’t resist posting this track this morning. I’ve posted it before, but not in this series, way back in April 2016, so I think I’ve left enough of a gap in between the posts to justify it popping up again.

From 1985’s frankly bloody marvellous Ain’t That Far from Boothill album, which I had only ever owned on a copied cassette until yesterday, and hadn’t listened to properly since…well, my tape deck hasn’t worked for over ten years so it’s at least that long (and you can probably double that, to be honest) this is The Boothill Foot-Tappers:

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The Boothill Foot-Tappers – Get Your Feet Out Of My Shoes

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

The first time I can remember hearing Lemon Jelly, was at what was less of an after party, more a gathering of people on a comedown, in a house in Brighton.

Given the…erm…altered state of most of the people in the room, this tune always reminds me of that night. I love the way that they make the pops and crackles of the vinyl the rhythm of the track:

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Lemon Jelly – Experiment Number Six

It also reminds me of this infamous bit of footage from an unbroadcast (at the time) edition of BBC current affairs show Panorama, recorded way back in 1955. In it, presenter and former Labour MP Christopher Mayhew agrees to be filmed under the influence of mind-altering drug mescaline hydrochloride:

Play some chill out music over that and you have a fairly accurate reconstruction of that night in Brighton, more or less.

More soon.

At Last, An Excuse

I’ve posted this song before, a year or so ago, but there’s never going to be a time when it’s more appropriate to post than today.

I’ve not had chance to look around and see if anyone else has posted this, so apologies if it’s everywhere you look at the moment:

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The Larks – Billy Graham’s Going to Heaven

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version

Today’s lesson: be Beck, and rope a load of your mates in to record tributes of certain albums you love. Record the whole thing in one day. Job’s a good ‘un.

Let me explain. Back in 2009, Beck set about his new project, Beck’s Record Club, the idea being that he would gather together an ever-changing group of musicians, charged with recording a new version of an entire classic album within 24 hours. Yes, it does sound like it has Nick Knowles written all over it, doesn’t it?

As far as I can establish, they got through five albums, all of which were download only for a short period of time (i.e. I can’t find them to download or purchase anywhere now – I’m happy to be corrected on this, of course!). Those five albums were: The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence’s Oar (nope, me neither), Yanni’s Yanni Live at the Acropolis (ditto), and INXS’s Kick.

The musician’s for the first four of those included Nigel Godrich (who is perhaps better known as a producer, particularly associated with Radiohead), Binki Shapiro (from Brazilian/American rock supergroup (it says here) Little Joy), Will Berman, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, Leslie Feist, all of Wilco, actor Giovanni Ribisi (Phoebe’s brother in Friends, Scarlett Johannsen’s mostly absent husband in Lost in Translation, to name just two places you’ll probably know him from), and Devendra Banhart and Thurston Moore, who I will assume need no further introduction.

As you can imagine, with the time constraints imposed, coupled with an ever-revolving line-up that would have made Mark E Smith jealous, the songs are often a tad on the ramshackle side, including much of the album today’s choice is taken from.

But not this track. Featuring Anne Clark on vocals, who is now much better know these days as St Vincent, this is their take on Never Tear Us Apart:

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Beck’s Record Club – Never Tear Us Apart

And this, for compare and contrast purposes, is the original:

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INXS – Never Tear Us Apart

Doubtless, we’ll be returning to this project some time again in the future.

In other words: more soon.