Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For

On Twitter on Saturday, as his set started, I commented that whoever had done the running order for The Pyramid Stage that day clearly had a sense of humour, since they had essentially made Noel Gallagher be Paul ‘Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ McCartney’s warm-up act.

But as I mentioned in passing the other day on here, I found myself rather enjoying Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ set despite myself.

Mostly because, mid-way through their set, Gallagher announced to the crowd: “”So what’s going to happen here now is, I’m going to play a few tunes that you don’t give a shit about, okay? So there’ll be a few more of those but if you stick around, after that, fucking hell – there’s going to be a lot of very happy people in bucket hats.”

And sure enough, a song or two later he launched into an Oasis “Best Of” set.

By which I mean, the best Oasis songs which he sang the vocals on the record. Mostly.

Now I’m not the biggest Oasis fan in the world. My view is that the first album is great, the second album is waaaay over-rated (to the point where I actually prefer their third, coke-influenced, album Be Here Now), and after that the highlights were few and far between.

But credit where credit’s due, Gallagher knew what the audience wanted: a good old sing-song, which he duly delivered, bashing out Little By Little, The Importance of Being Idle, Wonderwall, Half a World Away, Stop Crying Your Heart Out, Don’t Look Back in Anger, and this, without doubt my favourite Oasis single (which I can’t find decent footage of from Saturday, so you’ll just have to make do with the original):

Oasis – Whatever

More soon.

…Please welcome to the stage…#2

More Glasto-guest appearance shenanigans today, with what turned out to be both a surprise and a gem – Mel C joining Blossoms on stage to perform Spice Up Your Life:

Blossoms feat. Mel C – Spice Up Your Life [Glastonbury 2022]

Other than to say that was ace and everyone seemed to be having a real blast, there are three things to say about this barn-storming performance (and one of those isn’t even about the performance):

  • Lead Blossom Tom Ogden seems to be wearing the sort of outfit that even Miles Hunt would have blanched at when The Wonder Stuff were at the peak of their Size of a Cow/Dizzy powers;
  • Did you notice a slight change in the lyrics? There’s a line in the original, at the start of the second verse which goes: “Yellow man in Tumbuktu” which, thankfully, was now changed to “There’s a man in Timbuktu”, which I’m sure you’ll agree is slightly less ‘of it’s time’ than that which it replaced;
  • In an interview afterwards, Mel C said that she would be reporting back to the rest of the Spice Girls about how “amazing” Glastonbury is, and that she thought she might be able to get all five Girls – ‘Posh’ included – to reform one last time to play the Sunday Legends slot (y’know, if they were asked, like).

Now. I am not going to deny that the Spice Girls were very important in the world of pop. Their impact was significant not just in the land of the hit parade, but culturally, world-wide. They were empowering to young women who, until that moment had no all-female pop-bands to look up to and aspire to be like. Apart from Bananarama. And The Go-Go’s. And The Nolans. OK, maybe there were some all female pop-bands. But you get my drift; up until then, there had been nobody quite like the Spice Girls.

What I am going to suggest, however, is that once they’ve got past the upbeat hits – Wannabe, Say You’ll Be There, Stop, Who Do You Think You Are, the aforementioned Spice Up Your Life, heck even 2 Become 1, then the show would be a tad on the dull side. Shmaltzy, but dull, because you’re then into interminable slush like Viva Forever, Goodbye, Mama and *gulps* comeback single #2 Headlines (Friendship Never Ends).

It’d be so schmaltzy and dull that, much as the crowd spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to Paul ‘Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ McCartney, I can envisage an unrehearsed chorus of “Come back Diana Ross, all is forgiven!”

For on Sunday this year at Glastonbury, the age old question: “Do the legends mime?” was answered once and for all. Answer: No they do not, but they may well do after Ms Ross’ appearance.

About 25 years or so ago (early 90s, whenever that was) I was moonlighting selling merch at some gigs at what was then called the Cardiff International Arena. I got to see some great acts perform there: Take That not so long before Robbie quit, some not-so-good-acts: Chris de Burgh – who was as dreadful as anticipated and, if I recall, spent a good part of his set moaning about the fact that the Red Tops had gotten hold of a story about him banging his au pair whilst his wife was recuperating in the hospital from a broken neck suffered during a horse-riding accident (a story which I imagine none of them were pleased became public knowledge).

And then there was Diana Ross, who was, as one would expect, utterly fabulous, so I was quite looking forward to her appearance on the Pyramid Stage this year.

Oh dear. What a disappointment. I’ll be generous and assume there were sound issues, because I don’t think she managed to hit two correct notes in a row throughout the whole thing. Hel was overseas on holiday, and unable to watch it, so I treated her to the following commentary via a WhatsApp chat:

“Watching Diana Ross. Mildly embarrassing – she’s veering from flat to just shouting the words…Backing band and vocalists are doing a lot of heavy lifting here…She’s just shouting the last syllable of each line. It’s like watching Mark E Smith, blacked up and in drag…Oh God. She’s stopped the band, and is trying to start a sing-a-long to the verse of I’m Still Waiting. Not the chorus, THE VERSE. It has been met with what is often referred to as “a deafening silence”. Excruciating…Absolutely unfathomable decision to leave the stage, return to do an encore of… I Will Survive. Finishes, walks off stage again, barely a noise from the crowd.”

Be grateful I haven’t managed to locate a clip…

More soon.

…Please welcome to the stage…

To the sofa surfer (i.e. me), Glastonbury seemed to be a year when surprise guests were the order of the weekend.

Generally, these were young, current artists calling on more established ones, to give their message that pan-generational impact.

(Obviously, I’m not talking about Paul ‘Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ McCartney flying Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen in for his amazing set.)

This saves me having to write a Rant post about the US decision to overturn Roe vs Wade this week, which Olivia Rodrigo covered in her introduction to this:

Olivia Rodrigo (feat. Lily Allen) – F*** You (Live at Glastonbury 2022)

To bring you up to speed, the US Supreme Court voted to strike down the nationwide legal right to abortion on Friday, paving the way for individual states to heavily restrict or even ban the procedure – in fact, it has led to the immediate recriminalisation of abortion in nearly half of the US states.

Women who decide to have an abortion have just made the hardest decision they will ever make. They are not all women who have had unprotected one night stands which they regret.

And even if they were, so what? It’s still their body, the decision about what happens next should still be theirs.

But now, in the US it’s a case of: no matter what the circumstance of your pregnancy, if you live in the wring state, you cannot have an abortion.

Been raped? Sorry, you’ve got to carry that unwanted load through for nine months.

From a strictly medical point of view, the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, a septic uterus, or a miscarriage that your body won’t release is: an abortion.

What happens if you can’t have those abortions under those circumstances? You die, that’s what.

Actually, THIS saves me having to write a Rant post about the US decision to overturn Roe vs Wade: once the whooping dies down, the late, great George Carlin (RIP) explains it better in this most definitely NSFW clip:

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

I had a blast watching Glastonbury over the weekend, so the next few posts will be related in some way to what I saw.

When I was a kid, stashed away amongst a load of maps and magazines under a coffee table in the living room, was this:

Here’s what wiki has to say about it:

“The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok was the second book to be published by the British comedy troupe Monty Python. Edited by Eric Idle…The book contained an amalgamation of print-style pieces and material derived from Flying Circus sketches.”

I flicked through it a few times, but didn’t really understand it. One night, the movie which mashes up loads of Python sketches, And Now For Something Completely Different, was shown on TV; I was allowed to watch it, and some of the book made a bit more sense. Lumberjack, dead parrot, etc etc.

Around the same time, I was aware that something called Monty Python’s Life of Brian was causing an almighty fuss, with allegations of blasphemy levelled against it. It was 1979, I was 9 years old, and had no hope of seeing the film for many years. Harumph.

One day, we went to visit my Auntie Chris and Uncle Jerry, and as all the grown-ups chatted and drank tea, I looked through their record collection. And there, nestled amongst there, was the Life of Brian album.

Now, if you’ve ever heard the Life of Brian album, you’ll know that it features lots of clips from the film, all connected by a running gag about a continuity announcer who isn’t very good. I didn’t know that at the time, but was fairly confident that the record contained some swear words. And when you’re 9 or 10, hearing adults use swear words is the sort of thing you yearn for. Because you haven’t discovered girls, alcohol, fags or drugs yet. A simpler time, right?

I needed to hear this album, but knew I couldn’t just ask them to pop it on the turntable. I needed to borrow it. But I knew that if I asked to borrow it, that request would be denied, given the adult content.

I flicked through the rest of their record collection, and spotted The Beatles’ Red & Blue albums.

You all know what I mean when I say that. These:

For the uninitiated: the Red album covers all their singles from their early “pop” days, the Blue one covers their later, more *ahem* experimental period.

Here was my chance. I sat looking at their record collection for ages, until someone noticed me, and asked if I was alright.

“Can I borrow your Beatles albums please?” I asked, all sweetness and light.

When anybody asks to borrow records I own, I am immediately flattered and agree. This has cost me over the years, with records never returned by people I’ve lost touch with. But my enquiring tone struck a nerve. Of course I could borrow them!

And so I slipped them from the racks, hiding the Life of Brian album in between.

Back at home, with only one turntable in the house, I had to bide my time and wait for my parents to be out before I could hear the deluge of filthy words I anticipated the Life of Brian album would bring. I listened to the Red & Blue albums whilst I waited for that moment to arrive.

And if had to pinpoint the moment when I fell in love with pop music, and with Greatest Hits albums as an “in” to an artists back catalogue, then this was it.

After his set on Saturday, which I also rather enjoyed despite myself, Noel Gallagher was interviewed by Jo Whiley. He said (I’m paraphrasing now, so this is not verbatim) “When you’re a kid, and had no money, you’d go looking through the vinyl racks. You couldn’t afford to buy all of their records, so Red & Blue albums, they’ll do.” I hate it when I agree with Noel Gallagher about anything.

I’ve written here before about how, when I was younger, I used to buy the Greatest Hits and Best Ofs albums of bands I thought were important and that I should know more about, and this is where that came from.

I now wanted to know more about this band, and, having loved both Red & Blue, I didn’t really care which period I investigated first.

I was a member of our local library at the time, and to raise some extra income, they had, for a small fee, started renting out music cassettes (Note: not CDs, cassettes.)

And there, one day, was one by The Beatles, called Rock’n’Roll Music Vol. 2.

I paid the 20p levy, took it home and slotted it into my cassette player.

And that was that. Smitten.

Here’s the songs which feature on this (what I now see as a) knock-off compilation, the sort of thing usually found in service stations:

…which I’m sure you’ll agree, knock-off compilation as it may be, it gives a fairly broad summary of the band’s creative output.

But there’s one song there which, if pushed, I would have to say is my favourite Beatles song; it’s on that album up there, but also on what, in my opinion, is the greatest Beatles album: Revolver.

I was, therefore, delighted when Paul ‘Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ McCartney played it on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on Saturday night, and so your uplifting, positive start of the week record this week is:

The Beatles – Got To Get You Into My Life

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A comment on last week’s post by The Robster led me to this week’s choice.

I’ve no idea where this actually sits in the time-line of her marriage to renowned alcoholic and legendary Country star in his own right George Jones, but were someone to tell me it was recorded as a reaction to his infamous ‘driving his ride on mower to the liquor store after Tammy hid the car keys’ incident, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised:

Tammy Wynette – Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I’ve been meaning to post something by Celeste for a while, and was reminded that I’d not got round to doing so when I caught her performing tonight’s selection on the Glastonbury coverage earlier today.

Let me put that right, right now.

Sounding like a cross between Amy Winehouse, Adele and Macy Gray (and nothing to do with Daphne), this is just….beautiful:

Celeste – Strange

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up


Paul McCartney – Coming Up

If Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney’s set is half as good as his Glastonbury headlining set back in 2004 was – I was there, it was fantastic, and a darn good crowd sing-a-long to boot – then we’re in for a treat.

And, given this weekend is Glastonbury’s belated 50th birthday, I’ll be gobsmacked if this doesn’t get an airing:

The Beatles – Birthday

Set opener/closer anyone….?

Anyway, enjoy.

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For

And so, officially starting today, the greatest party on Earth finally gets to celebrate its 50th birthday.

Yes, for the first time since 2019, Covid bloody Covid having taken its toll in the intervening years, it’s Glastonbury time once again.

I say that the festival officially begins today, but anyone who has ever been to Glastonbury knows that’s not entirely true, for the gates opened on Wednesday morning, so festivities have already been underway for two days now. Anyone arriving today and hoping to find a decent place to pitch their tent is in for a bit of a shock. It’s next to the Dance Tent for you, or, perhaps marginally worse, next to the long-drops, where you will be awakened every morning by the sound of 100,00 turds being sucked out.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It really is. I imagine anyone who has never been is probably fed up with those that have banging on about how amazing Glastonbury it, but, and I’m not sorry to repeat it, it really is.

And I’m not there. Hel, Neil, my brother and I had planned on going, applied for tickets, didn’t manage to get them when they went on sale, nor when the resale happened, so I’ll be watching the coverage of the festival on the BBC all weekend – and say what you like about the BBC, their Glasto coverage is phenomenal, and worth the licence fee on its own in my opinion – wishing I was there whilst also trying hard not to wish rain upon those who made it.

I’ll be there in spirit though; I’ve bought a load of cider in, a box of cheap red wine; I shall bathe using nothing more than Wet Wipes for the important bits, will form an imaginary queue to use the toilet, and after the activities have finished, will venture out into my garden, sample some of the interesting looking mushrooms I found growing there, and see if I can’t find myself an imaginary acid-frazzled loon to chat to into the wee small hours.

But I digress. Since today is the first official day of the festival, I thought I’d post something from one of the years that I was there.

And what could be more appropriate than Dame Shirley Bassey opening her Sunday Legends set with her version of Pink’s Get the Party Started?

Dame Shirley Bassey – Get the Party Started (Live at Glastonbury 2007)

By the way, since I figure everyone will be watching or listening to the coverage all weekend, there will be no Friday Night Music Club this week.

More soon, though.

New Mood on Monday

The keener eyed of you will have spotted a recent exchange in the Comments between a chap called Johnny and I.

Johnny is one of the loveliest blokes I’ve ever met. We worked together for a time, during my vacations from college and then for a year after I graduated and had nowhere else to go, in the kitchen of a Happy Eater restaurant on the A1, which connected London to Glasgow and passed by fairly close to the villages where we both lived. And yes, that fingers-down-the-throat logo up there really was the one officially selected to best symbolise the chain of eateries.

It was a shitty job, but Johnny and I had a lot of fun doing it, trying to make each other crack up as we cracked eggs, fried sausages and definitely never picked anything up off the floor and served it anyway. Nosireebob, not us.

Here’s how good mates we were:

  1. We went to see Sonic Youth together (support: Pavement and Huggy Bear, extra cool points there) at Brixton Academy, circa 1993
  2. We wrote an “alternative” company magazine together. There was an official version (The Happy Eater Hotline) which we thought was utterly dull and rubbish, as corporate circulars generally are, so produced The Happy Eater Hitline, where we slagged off and made stories up about our work colleagues. We left it, anonymously, in the staff room, and when the shit hit the fan (as it inevitably did, when someone complained about how they had been portrayed), it ended up with us being asked to write something similar to go out to the whole company. We declined: that was too corporate and very much not cool.
  3. Johnny was a keen photographer, and got me my first (and only) ever album review published in a fanzine he took snaps for;
  4. We made compilation tapes for each other.

Has friendship ever had such a symbolic gesture as a mixtape?

I still have the mixtape Johnny did for me (somewhere); the front cover is a photo Johnny took of Dave, our deputy manager at the Happy Eater (now deceased, as you may have picked up from the Comments exchange) who we loved as he would let us sit in the manager’s office (adjacent to the kitchen) and chat and smoke whilst we were supposed to be working. When I find the tape, there’s a series just waiting to be written.

As I recall, the tape was full of tunes by Johnny’s loves: Senseless Things, Jacob’s Mouse (see also: Comments), Pearl Jam/Soundgarden ‘supergroup’ Temple of the Dog, and this, which I had never heard before but, if you were unhappy about last Monday’s selection, then this should snap you right out of any ongoing malaise:

Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod

You’re awake now, aren’t you?

Happy Monday. More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s been a while since I posted anything by Kris Kristofferson, who wrote the song that this series is named after.

It’s Father’s Day here in the UK, so I figured it only right to post something by the great man himself, who I got into purely because of my Dad’s record collection.

This song has featured here before, here, which may be worth a read as it relays the tale of what a naughty and embarrassing (to my parents) little boy I was.

But, as mentioned in that post, here’s a song which I simply did not understand when I used to sing-a-long to it in the back of the family car as we travelled to see our grandparents every Saturday. Back then, I didn’t know about metaphors and the like, so assumed this was just about an actual devil, rather than the cautionary tale about men who will say whatever they need to say to get…ahem…”what men want”:

Kris Kristofferson – The Silver Tongued Devil And I

Were it not for Papa playing these records by Kristofferson, Cash and the like when I was a kid, then I almost certainly wouldn’t be posting country tunes I like of a Sunday morning.

So y’know, you can blame or thank him, whichever you think is appropriate.

I know which side of the fence I’m on: Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thanks for everything.

More soon.