I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

Seems an age has passed since I last wrote one of these, so I’ll kick-start Monday morning blues bashing again with a song absolutely guaranteed to put a spring in your step and a smile on your face:

Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi

And as a bonus, here’s Sonic Youth faithfully covering the very same song on a punk/New Wave covers album that I really should post a load more from some time:

Sonic Youth – Ça Plane Pour Moi

Take yer pick, they’re both ace.

Happy Monday!

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Mention the name Electronic to most (indie) pop fan, and doubtless they will go a bit dewy-eyed over a couple of their records.

I’m thinking here of Get The Message, Disappointed, Getting Away With It…the bastard union of New Order’s Barney Sumner and the not racist one out of The Smiths (with apologies to Andy O’Rourke, Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon) Johnny Marr.

But there’s a single of there’s which I absolutely love and which seems to get overlooked, and which I just happened to have picked up one day in the Cardiff branch of Our Price for £1.00 on legendarily obsolete cassingle format:

Electronic – Forbidden City

Just. Wonderful.

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

Last time I posted a Breezeblock mix, it seemed to get a pretty good reaction, so here’s another one.

Much more laid-back than the last one, and sadly not one of his amazing Northern Soul mixes which I used to have a couple of but can no longer find, but no worse for it, this is Andy Smith of Portishead fame; I’ll let Mary Anne Hobbs do the official intro:

Andy Smith – Breezeblock Mix 22/06/98

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

More from the file marked “Bloody Hell, is that a cover version?”.

To reiterate my previous argument: if you’re going to cover a song, there’s no point in faithfully reproducing the original. Make it your own, so that people assume you wrote it.

Or, ideally, pick a song which very few people will know, which makes the whole assumption thing a whole lot easier.

A case in point:

When Deep Purple disbanded for the first time, guitarist Richie Blackmore went on to form Rainbow, which disappointingly was not a tribute to Zippy, George, Bungle, Geoffrey, Rod, Jane & Freddy.

One of their earliest (and let’s face it, latest too) hits was this absolute belter, which I love even though the title brings out the Grammar Nazi in me:

Rainbow – Since You Been Gone

I bloody love that tune.

But it’s a cover version, something I was oblivious to until fairly recently. Here’s the original by the much-less-well known Head East, who have somwhat, erm, dubious taste when it comes to photos on record sleeves:

Head East – Since You Been Gone

Head East were a bunch of Illinois Uni friends, so perhaps it’s understandable they didn’t get the concent of the word You’ve.

Mental note to self: now that wacky haircut in a suit Boris Johnson is our Prime Minister, I’m not really in a position to take the piss out of Americans for having wacky haircut in a suit Donald J Trump as President. Still, at least we didn’t actually vote for Boris, but then again, the popular vote in the States was not for the cheesburger-munching, Coke-swilling, racist, philandering, law-breaking buffoon either….Must …stop…too…many…comparisons….

But, to get things back on track, here’s my favourite, somewhat unexpected, cover of that song, which is by former lead singer of The Runaways, Cherie Currie, who decided to rope in her sister Marie. You can consider that an odd thing to do, or revel in the fact they made the title grammatically correct, or just enjoy this, which sounds like Heart playing in someone’s garage:

Cherie & Marie Currie – Since You’ve Been Gone

If I ever find that single in a Marie Curie charity store, my life is complete.

More soon.

Be Llyrious

When Llŷr was first admitted and then detained in hospital, I knew boredom would soon take a hold. So I went and bought him one of them there hand-held Nintendo gaming things to help him while away the hours.

He was really happy when I gave it to him; when I visited the next day, less so.

“The nurse confiscated it,” he told me. “Apparently playing it increases the likelihood of me having another seizure.”

Ah well. The best laid plans, and all that.

“You could bring my mp3 player in though…?” he suggested/asked.

I was half surprised that he didn’t already have it, joined at the hip as they had seemed to be.

You’ll note that I don’t say iPod there, as Llŷr refused to accept, as I had meekly submitted, that via Apple Inc. was the best way to listen to music on the go. What Llŷr had was most definitely not an iPod.

I brought it in for him the next day, and before we’d even got through the formalities, he was greedily popping the earphones in.

“Jez, you have to hear this album,” he said, not proffering me an earphone so I could share in his delight.

Even then, in hospital and just diagnosed with cancer, he couldn’t switch off.

Later, he would regale me about the time he saw them at the Reading Festival, in a tent full of delirious fans, but I can’t quite recall if that was before or after he got ill. Probably after.

‘This lot’ were Arcade Fire, and the album in question was Funeral.

And now, whenever I hear them, or specifically anything from that album, I think of him.

Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)

More soon.

This Ends Badly

It’s been a busy month for me in terms of cinema going.

Not content with going to see Yesterday (which I liked, despite myself) and Midsommar (which I’m still not sure about, but since it still plays heavy on my mind I figure I must have enjoyed) I visited the local multiplex on a further two occasions this month.

Firstly, to watch Jaws, a film which I wasn’t old enough to go and see when it first came out in 1975, but which I genuinely think is one of the greatest films ever made.

Seeing it for the first time on the big sceen was an incredible experience, and if it’s showing in a flea-pit near you (and I have no idea what prompted my local place to show it), I’d urge you to go see. Sure, you know (I assume) what happens and how it all pans out, but it’s still a masterpiece.

Unlike the fourth film I saw this month, which has to go down as one of the worst films I ever saw.

All the signs were good for The Dead Don’t Die: it’s directed by indie-flick darling Jim Jarmusch (I thought I’d seen more of his films, but a casual post cinema attendance at his body of work reminds me I’ve only seen Night on Earth (which I have to admit I only watched because Beatrice Dalle is in it) and Broken Flowers (which I have to admit I only watched because Bill Murray’s in it) – there’s a different reason for me wanting to watch both of these actors which I imagine I don’t need to spell out) and, as I settled down to watch, huge tub of popcorn nestling against my hefty bosom, I was encouraged.

Check this cast list out and tell me you wouldn’t want to go and see a film that features this lot: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, even Iggy Pop is there.

Impressive, no?

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the plot, as described by imdb:

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

There’s a reason for that being so brief, and I think it’s from the old school of thinking that if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything.

Sod that.

The Dead Don’t Die is slow, poorly acted (every one seems to not only be calling in their performance, but laying in a reposed position when they do so), has Tilda Swinton doing an odd Scottish accent for no apparent reason at all (other than that she can), offers no suspense whatsoever, has one of the oddest meta-jokes at the heart of it, and fails to utilise any of the talents of any of the actors involved.

For example i): Tom Waits is in it, but as a hermit recluse, cut off from society, living in a nearby forest. Which sounds like perfect casting. But all he does is swear at Bill Murray at the start of the film and then occasionally provide commentary as he watches the plot unfold through a pair of binoculars.

For example ii): Iggy Pop is in it, as a zombie. He looks healthier than he does in real life. Here is a seam of comedy rich for mining, I thought. But no: two scenes, and the acting talents of Mr Pop, such as they are, are dispensed with.

And then there’s this weird meta-joke which pops up every now and again (spoiler alert, as this is the best thing about the film, and even this isn’t great): Adam Driver seems to know a lot more than his character should. He keeps saying “Well this will end badly” like he’s trying to get a new catchphrase to stick.

When the title song – which features a lot – pops up for what seems like the billionth time in the first twenty minutes (and continues to do so throughout the movie) as Murray and Driver cruise sedately round the neighbourhood, Murray muses as to why it sounds so familiar. Driver’s response: “Because it’s the theme tune.”

Here it is:

Sturgill Simpson – The Dead Don’t Die

Double spoiler alert – and I alert you to this because if you are going to see this film (and I really wouldn’t if I were you), it seems to be central – this doesn’t get questioned or even mentioned again until, with a merciful twenty minutes or so to go Driver once more says “Well, this will end badly” and is finally challenged by Murray about how he knows that. His response is – look away if you don’t want to spoil the one good thing about the film – that he knows it will end badly as he has read the whole script. Murray, it transpires, has only been provided with the scenes he is in.

And then both of them are in it until exactly the same point, which ruins that joke, such as it was in the first place.

In case you haven’t got the drift yet: don’t go see.

More soon.

S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs)


I hate them.

The first thing I need to say is that the other day I went onto my blog to see if I had posted a song before, and I was shocked to find lots of adverts popping up within the text of whatever I had written.

Please, don’t ever click on to those adverts. They’re nothing to do with me.

But also: have you noticed that thing they now do on Channel 4? (Maybe on ITV and 5 too, but I never record anything on those channels so I can’t say for sure.)

Okay, so picture the scene: you have recorded a programme on Channel 4. There is an ad break, so you fast forward through them. You look for the signal that the show you’vee recorded is about to start again. And that signal is this: a Channel 4 advert for an upcoming Channel 4 show.

You press play.

But they’ve started putting these in the middle of the ad break, so that you press play thinking your recorded programme is about to start again. But it isn’t, it’s just a way of getting you to watch the second batch of adverts.

Cunning bastards.

Anyway, much as I hate adverts, and their appropriation of songs I like, sometimes I do have to concede that at least the song in question has been chosen well.

For example: I love this song, and initially bristled when, having pressed play too soon, I found it had been hijacked for an advert.

It’s in an advert for a range of mattresses, so through very gritted teeth, I had to admit it was at the very least an apt choice. (And as someone whose very stock is based around choosing a vaguely fitting songs to illustrate a point, it would be somewhat churlish of me to object anyone else doing the same.)

Anyway, here’s the song in question:

Moloko – Pure Pleasure Seeker

As an aside: is it just me, or has the amount of companies trying to sell us artisan mattresses massively increased over the past year or so? And for each of them, the USP is the same:

  1. You can (literally) sleep on your purchase for a while, and if you don’t like it, you can return it, and
  2. It comes in a box and magically unfolds, like a pop-up tent, when you open it.

Have you ever tried to pack away one of those pop-up tents? They’re utter, utter bastards, steadfastly refusing to be packed away again, so God knows how difficult it is to try and cram a mattress back into a box.

If you listen to podcasts regularly, you’ll have become familiar with these sorts of products some time ago, for they are one of a select band to have adopted popular podcasts as their weapon of choice.

You’ll have noticed the same companies popping up on a carousel between them. The main cuplrits are: mattress companies, Harry’s (the razor company), Beer52 and The Economist, all of whom proffer a special offer or discount if you go to their website and enter a special code…and I find myself thinking: it can’t be that special, it was on No Such Thing as a Fish last week.

But I digress.

As I was saying, much as it boils my piss to have songs I love inserted into an advert to sell something, occasionally I have to tip my hat and concede they have chosen well (And then find another way to slag them off, as you have just witnessed).

But then sometimes I find myself thinking: what the flipping flip is this song doing here?

For example: what is it about The Connells really quite lovely 74-75 that made some advertising smarty-pants think it was an appropriate record to soundtrack the bathroom section of DIY hardware store B&Q?

The Connells – ’74 – ’75

If you’re looking for a tune to soundtrack the sale of bathroom features and fittings, then surely this would be a better choice?:

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Up Around The Bend

Actually, now I think about it perhaps not: when selling bathroom fixtures the very last thing you want to advertise is that things might come back up and around the (U-)bend, post-flush…


*hastily rewrites CV*

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #17

Confession time.

During his oh-too-short life, I never bought a record by Prince.

Actually, that’s not quite true, as I did buy Hits 1 & 2, but I’m not sure that excludes me from criticism.

And, many years after it came out, I did pick up Cream on CD single.

But still…

It’s at this point that I have to give props to my brother, who at least bothered to buy the Purple Rain soundtrack.

But me? Nah. Despite a seemingly never-ending glittering array of incredible records by the Purple One, my pocket money remained in my pocket.

What was I thinking? I have no excuse.

On the plus side, that means I have a lot to choose from now.

But I figured nothing demonstrated my folly better than the first record that I remember hearing by Prince, and which I somehow elected not to buy, despite it’s undeniably cool sleeve:

Prince & The Revolution – When Doves Cry

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I worry sometimes that maybe I focus a little too much on the old guard, the classic Country artists in this series.

I also worry that I don’t post many female Country artists either.

So, today is a “two birds, one stone” scenario.

Here’s something by the really rather quite wonderful Molly Tuttle to even things out a little:

Molly Tuttle – Take the Journey

More soon.