I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have posted this before, but I can’t be bothered to check and it came up on my iPod shuffle the other day and made me happy, so I figured it’s worth an(other) airing:
When I first started writing this series, I promised myself that I would try to avoid the tunes which used to crop up on those chill-out compilations which were rife at the end of the 1990s/start of the 2000s.
Mostly, I’ve managed this, but occasionally a tune occurs to me which I first heard via one of those mix CDs, and which is just too soaringly beautiful and perfect for this series to ignore.
So much for my plans to post every day this week; they were well and truly scuppered by my laptop having a near-death experience on Wednesday. Programs started crashing left right and centre, it suddenly decided that it no longer wanted to recognise the external hard drive where all my tunes live (“It’s right fucking there, you’re connected to it, what do you mean you can’t access it?!?!”), and that it didn’t like the idea of shutting down, only restarting. V-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y-i-n-d-e-e-d.
I’ve spent the last couple of evenings running numerous scans, system restore activities, and here I am at 23:35 on Friday night and it seems to be behaving again. (Cue almighty crash any second…)
Hopefully, I’ve got it sorted now, but if I disappear again, you’ll know why, and also hopefully it will also be temporary – because purchasing a new laptop is out of the question at the moment.
So, my apologies for the absence of any posts for the past couple of days. I’ll pick up and finish the Get Off My Playlist series next week, and Friday Night Music Club will return too (like anyone missed it…).
Anyway, whilst I was having near-death experiences with my laptop, there were others who had the more unpleasant, and final, actual death experiences.
Those of you of a similar age to me (or, heaven forbid, even older) will doubtless have been as saddened as I was by the news of the passing of Bernard Cribbins this week.
Cribbins was someone who I grew up watching and listening to: he was the narrator and the voice of The Wombles, an animated interpretation of Elizabeth Beresford’s creations. All episodes were made and originally aired between 1973 and 1975, but they were often repeated in the “just before The 6 O’Clock News” slot on BBC1 when I was growing up.
Everyone had their favourite Womble, and mine was undoubtedly this chap:
For the uninitiated, that’s Orinoco, described on wiki thusly: “…a shirker who loves sleep and food, styled on Beresford’s teenage son and named after the river in South America. Though lazy and slothful by nature, Orinoco is resourceful and always means well, and is capable of some surprising acts of moral and physical courage.” Those all seemed admirable qualities to the young me (and still do, if I’m honest). Also: he wore a scarf and a big hat, a bit like another favourite of mine at the time, Tom Baker’s incarnation of Dr Who.
Although he didn’t appear on the records they released in the 1970s (they were all written and performed by Mike Batt), whenever I hear that theme tune – or indeed any of the eight (!) hits they amassed – it’s Cribbins that I imagine warbling along:
Voiceover work was his food and drink in the 70s; he was the narrator and voices of the Tufty in road safety adverts:
…and the voice of Buzby in the BT TV ads:
…and when he wasn’t doing that or reading a story on Jackanory he was appearing in three of the early (i.e. not so blue) Carry On… films, was in the original version of Casino Royale, an episode of Fawlty Towers, the film version of The Railway Children, even Hitchcock’s Frenzy. He was also in silent comedy classic The Plank, Worzel Gummidge, Last of the Summer Wine (where all elderly actors used to spin out their final days) and Coronation Street, as well as the second (back in the 1960s) Doctor Who film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. before popping up post Who-reboot as Donna’s grandfather Wilf, initially as a peripheral character but progressing to fully-fledged companion, albeit briefly, towards the end of David Tennant’s time as the titular Doctor.
I could go on for a very long time about Cribbins acting credits.
But then, of course, there were the hit records, all from 1962:
We can forgive him for the dreadful band and personalities that song subsequently gave birth to. Wasn’t Bernard’s fault. We can also forget – just about – that both The Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred could be construed as satirical swipes at the working classes.
RIP Bernard. And thanks for brightening up my childhood.
Meanwhile, on the same day as it was announced that Bernard passed, another “just before The 6 O’Clock News” institution was dying; dropped by the BBC years ago – from where it found fame in the late 1980s – and subsequently picked up by Channel 5, Neighbours went the same way as other on-their-deathbed shows like Big Brother that the channel has tried to resuscitate without success.
Like most people, I haven’t watched the show for years, but, also like most people, I did tune in back in it’s heyday, when it seemed to churn out popstars faster than you could say “Strewth! Throw another prawn on the barbie, will you Sheila?”
Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Holly Valance, Natalie Imbruglia (sigh), Delta Goodrum, Craig McLachlan, not to mention acting royalty Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Hemsworth, Luke Hemsworth (No, me neither), Guy Pearce, Alan Dale and comedian Mark Little all paid their dues flapping around Erinsborough and have since spent their time trying to fill their CVs so they don’t have to mention it.
But just like Coronation Street has long-time stalwart Ken Barlow, there since episode 1, so Neighbours has their not-there-since-episode-1-but-still-been-there-for-quite-a -long-time star. And what do you know, he too had a forage into the world of pop music, something which Ken, to the best of my knowledge, thankfully never did.
Unfortunately, the star of whom I speak made a record so bad it made Craig McLachlan’s pop career sound like the Rolling Stones. A song so awful, I used to deliberately reference or – God help me – sing it to an old workmate of mine, knowing that it would stick in his brain for the rest of the day and would drive him to distraction.
Following on, as threatened promised from yesterday’s post, here’s another sun-related song which was originally included in, but didn’t make the end cut of, the summery mix I prepared which JC posted over at his place last week.
This one was bumped for the simple reason that, whilst it has the word “sun” in the title, it’s not in the least bit summery. Unless I’ve completely misunderstood its subject matter for the past 37 years (ouch!), it’s about the power of television and the version of life which it presents.
It’s an absolute barn-stormer, which I’ve always been rather amused that it was this which reached the #1 position here in the UK, as opposed to the much more famous and fondly remembered Take On Me:
In the bit which he wrote to accompany my mix, JC (unintentionally, I’m sure) shamed me by saying that I post “daily”. I wish that were true; I have nowhere near the discipline to keep daily posts going on such a regular basis, although it does happen every now again.
So, in the spirit of our actually regular uplifting Monday morning post, I figured I would be positive this week, and try and post something every day. And then see how long I could keep it up for (as the vicar said to the etc etc etc).
But what to write about? Well, as you know, I love doing playlists, mixes, call them what you will. And, whilst I shy away from doing fully-themed ones on my Friday night posts, I do enjoy the challenge of preparing an hour-long mix of tunes with a common thread running between the songs contained therein.
However, when preparing a themed mix, it is very easy to get lost in the challenge, and include songs simply because they fit the criteria you have set yourself for the playlist in question, irrespective of whether they “work” or not.
I’m sure you all know what I mean, but I fear I’m not explaining myself very well.
Let me give you an example: the summery mix of mine which JC kindly posted last week was supposed to be a load of songs which contained the word “sun” in the title. A simple enough task: search iTunes for such songs, bang the good ones in a playlist, fiddle around with the running order, and Bob is indeed your uncle.
Having done that, you realise that you have included songs which are great, have the word “sun” in the title, but aren’t particularly appropriate. And that you have omitted songs which would be perfect for the playlist, but don’t fit the criteria.
So: I wanted to include Patio Song by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Legal Man by Belle & Sebastian and Squeeze’s Pulling Mussels (From The Shell), none of which, the more astute amongst you will have noticed, have the word “sun” in the title.
The “songs with sun in the title” idea swiftly got binned.
For the rest of the of the week, then, I’ll be posting songs which did have “sun” in the title, but which got bumped from the playlist in favour of tunes which were…well, not better, just fitted better.
(Better, I mean better.)
Starting here, with what was supposed to be the opening tune in the playlist. I could have plumped for the Hair Original Stage Cast version, or even Andy Williams’s smooth easy listening take, but in the end I’d plumped for 5th Dimension’s go at it:
If you’re reading this then Congratulations! You managed to survive the week without either melting or spontaneously combusting, and your reward is another all new mix, Volume 13 in case you’re keeping count (and wondering what the bingo reference at the top of the page is). And yes, I am annoyed I couldn’t find an image of a bingo caller holding up the number 13.
“And what do you have in store for us this week?”, I hear you rasp through bone-dry throats.
Well, we kick off with a record which to these ears is synonymous with a chart countdown, for before Top of the Pops had Phil Lynott’s Yellow Pearl or Paul Hardcastle’s The Wizard as a theme tune, it had CCS’s version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, a record which still provokes a Pavlovian reaction in people of a certain age, in the same way that the Pearl & Dean advert immediately makes us want to buy an ice cream and throw jelly babies at the dweebs in the front row of the cinema.
Then we’re straight into Camera Obscura’s hymn to the man who used to front The Commotions, and you’ll be surprised to learn that I don’t follow that up in the obvious way, but instead offer up some Divine Comedy, some Franz Ferdinand, my second favourite Killers record (no, it’s not Mr sodding Brightside, or that dreadful one about not being a “souldier”, whatever that’s supposed to mean) before John ‘Potty Mouth’ Grant earns one of these all by himself:
After that, we’ve some Roxy Music, some Charlatans, a bit of Bassomatic, followed by some songs inspired by watching recent reruns of Top of the Pops, neatly dodging some fisticuffs between Jimi Hendrix and the BMX Bandits over the affections of an Aussie pop-queen, before we head back to Indieland courtesy of Ride, The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Damned.
Rollicking good fun, in other words.
Which just leaves me to do the admin: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine.
Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken
Felt – Ballad Of The Band
The Divine Comedy – Becoming More Like Alfie
Franz Ferdinand – Darts of Pleasure
The Killers – Bones
John Grant – Chicken Bones
Roxy Music – Street Life
The Charlatans – Over Rising
Bassomatic – Fascinating Rhythm (7″ Mix)
East 17 – Deep (Breath Mix)
The Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon Remix)
Gloworm – I Lift My Cup
Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Foxy Lady
BMX Bandits – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us
Ride – Taste
The Mighty Lemon Drops – The Other Side Of You
The Damned – Eloise
And just in case that’s not enough for you, regular readers of JC’s legendary The Vinyl Villain blog will know that he has been kind enough to post another exclusive mix I lovingly prepared for him, this one on a summery theme. If you’re not a regular reader of JC’s legendary The Vinyl Villain blog then a) why not? b) what’s wrong with you? and c) you can rectify that immediately by popping over and seeing what I (and JC the rest of the time) have been up to here. And my many thanks to everyone who has left kind messages about the mix which is posted over there, they are truly appreciated.
No, I’ve just got something in my eye, s’all…
Now get out of here before I decide to post some Quo as a thank you.
With severe heatwave warnings looming over the country, I figured it was about time I posted something summery as our uplifting tune of the week.
But what to choose? There are so many.
And so, seeking inspiration, I typed the word “hot” into the search function on iTunes, sat back and waited.
My eyes fell upon not a song with the word “hot” in the title, but a band with it in instead. A song which I first heard on a punk and new wave cassette called Sounds of the Suburbs which I borrowed from the same library I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (here), and which I suspect is the same compilation as JC mentioned in passing over at his place recently, when writing about one of the greatest singles ever (fact!).
Once my eyes had alighted upon the tune, my mind was made up about what was going to feature today. Okay, it’s not even slightly summery – although I imagine it sounds great driving round in a convertible, roof down, stereo on, like what they do in the films – but it most definitely sends out the requisite positive message to get your week started.