A History of Dubious Taste

Oh dear.

I seem to have been overtaken by BBC4’s reruns of Top of the Pops, which has managed to reach 1987 whilst I’ve been left floundering way back in 1986.

But then again, I don’t have Mike Smith (who refused permission for any shows he hosted to be re-aired, and then went and died before he could change his mind), or Dave Lee Travis or Jimmy Savile (whose episodes don’t get rerun for slightly more obvious reasons…) hosting this series, so…

Anway, to act as a balance to my other current series 50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish – where I feature songs that I didn’t buy when they came out, but now love – here’s one which I did buy, which I offer up as evidence that in my youth I didn’t just waste my pocket money on records by Shakin’ Stevens and Status Quo (although I did waste an awful lot of it on them).

I think I saw first this on The Chart Show when it was still on Channel 4 on a Friday evening, before it got shifted to ITV on a Saturday lunchtime.

I have a smattering of records by The Icicle Works, and I’ve always got the impression that they’re a band I should love a whole lot more than I do. Somehow, they never quite fully grabbed me, despite this absolute belter, with it’s crunching guitars and gloriously catchy chorus:

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The Icicle Works – Understanding Jane

The 12″ contained two extra tracks, this one, also penned by Ian McNabb, with a dictinct Tom Waits-feel to the vocal delivery:

The Icicle Works – I Never Saw My Hometown ‘Til I Went Around The World

…and this really rather lovely Van Morrison cover:

The Icicle Works – Into The Mystic

More soon.

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When The Scales Fell From My Eyes

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a clip of the opening moments of an interview which has been doing the rounds on social media this week, featuring The Cure’s Robert Smith, as the band were about to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

I was reminded of a conversation I had with my friends Gary and Meg when I stayed over at theirs the other weekend.

We were talking about encounters with famous people; I was saying that I generally wouldn’t approach them, as I figure they must get hassled by people enough without me adding to it. I prefer to catch their eye and give them an appreciative nod, maybe tweet them later so they understood I had been respecting their right to public privacy.

Gary’s view was that on such occasions it was perfectly okay to speak to them as you would probably never have the chance again – provided you were going to say something nice rather than confrontational.

Meg’s position was that in her line of work, she had encountered many celebrities and coming over all fangirl was definitely frowned upon.

We all had various examples of our actions to support our position; me: Al Murray (who clocked me as I waited for Gary and Meg outside a Teenage Fanclub gig, and who gave me a “Don’t you fucking dare” glare – not that I was going to – I tweeted him about it later and he was perfectly lovely), future Dr Whos Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (independently of each other, and both just before they were announced as the next Dr Who, to the point where I wondered if any actor I encountered would be unveiled as the next TARDIS incumbant shortly afterwards): Smith caught my nod and gave me an appreciative smile in return, Capaldi sat opposite me on the tube, steadfastly refusing to make eye-contact with anyone, like most people do on public transport); Gary: George Martin, who he accosted in a theatre (at a Rolf Harris gig, of all places….this was some years ago, I should add) and got his autograph for his troubles; Meg: Jonathan Ross, Caitlin Moran, one of The Magic Numbers (I forget which one), and Robert Smith, amongst others.

And it was as she related her tale of not bothering Smith that she came out with a phrase which I thought was so brilliant, I asked her to repeat, and then clarify:

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith….

Me: Sorry, what?

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith…

Me: Sorry, what do you mean, ‘dressed as Robert Smith’?

Meg: You know, his hair was all over the place, loads of mascara, slightly wonky lipstick…

Me: But you’re describing Robert Smith to me. Are you saying he doesn’t always look like that?

Meg: Well, yes. He can’t look like that all the time, or he’d always be getting stopped. He must dress like Robert Smith out of The Cure only when he’s being Robert Smith out of The Cure, surely?

It was something which had never occured to me before, but the more I think about it, the more I think Meg’s probably right. Much as I’d like to imagine Robert Smith popping to the shops to buy some toilet roll dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, he probably doesn’t. He probably just wears the eyeliner and passes on the lipstick.

Me: That’s brilliant. You know I’m going to use that on my blog, right? Credit will be given, of course.

Meg: (utterly nonchalant about the epiphany I’d just had) Course you can.

I’m a man of my word.

Here’s a bloody great song by The Cure, featuring Robert Smith dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, one which I bought on 7″ back in 1987, and which still gets a spin every now and then:

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The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?

More soon.

Friday Freedom Song

The repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC4 have reached October 1986, and as such are straying into the point when my record buying reached it’s absolute peak.

So, as many episodes are no longer able to be broadcast (as they were hosted by what we now know to be various unsavoury types, or by Mike Smith, who declined to approve any episodes he hosted be re-aired), I thought I’d better get in quick with this single, which dates back to February 1987.

This spent twelve weeks on the UK charts, but only managed to reach the giddy heights of #18 in all that time. The band were never heard from again.

Unless you’ve ever lived with me, in which case it will undoubtedly have found it’s way onto a playlist, mix-tape or CD somewhere along the line.

Because I still think this is an absolute belter, which should have been a much bigger hit than it was. Maybe it was the hat that did it for them:

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The Rainmakers – Let My People Go-Go

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

I confess. I bought this, but with the benefit of hindsight I don’t think I bought it because i particularly liked the song.

No. For in 1986, I was a great big randy wannabe-Romeo, a smouldering volcano of hormones, likely to erupt at the merest female attention, who was utterly taken in by that video.

My logic was simple: buy a copy of the single, and I will have done my bit to ensure the video will be shown on Top of the Pops and/or The Chart Show that week.

Sad, really.

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Robert Palmer – Addicted To Love

Just in case you have no idea which video I’m talking about (he says, by way of a rather pathetic justification for posting it), here it is:

Hard to believe that was practically the 80s equivalent of the Blurred Lines video, isn’t it?

Still, at least I can say that by the time Palmer tried exactly the same trick for his follow-up single I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On I wasn’t so easily taken in. I didn’t buy it. Mostly because, as I wrote here (links re-upped), I always felt it was a bit too sleazy old man in a nightclub for my liking.

That, and I’d had several cold showers by then.

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

When I first started writing this blog, the intention was to list every record I had ever bought in the order that I had bought them, to emulate this in some small way:

Nothing would be omitted, no matter how embarrassing the purchase may be (there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure!) – although this rule quickly fell by the wayside as it would have meant me talking about every Quo record I ever bought in my early to mid-teens – and trust me, I bought A LOT – which would have been tedious in the extreme for y’all.

But still, I figured, every song had a story, and whenever I hear them I’m transported back to a time in my life where there’d be something in the vicinity, some foolish venture or terribly amusing bon mot which might be worth imparting.

Turns out that’s not the case, which is why I haven’t written one of these since December last year.

In other words, there’s not much of a story to impart here either, to be honest.

Also, truth be told, I can’t remember what order I bought things in. Where I bought them, who I was with and what it reminds me of, yes – but when? Not a hope. Just because something came out in May 1986 – as today’s choice did – doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when I bought it.

In 1984, my older brother had bought today’s artist’s second album, The Drum is Everything, and I’d quite liked a couple of songs on it, enough to lead me to buy the first single from the follow-up album.

Neither album nor single were hits (the single peaked at #60 in the UK, the album The Falling got to #88) and it proved to be the last time that Carmel bothered the charts in the UK.

#60 is way to low for this to have got to, in my book.

See what you think:

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Carmel – Sally

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

I honestly can’t recall what caused me to buy this album back in 1986.

It may have been that I heard something by this band on the John Peel show.

It may be that I’d heard the song of there’s which featured on the legendary C86 compilation album, which my brother owned.

Either way, it’s an album which I love to this day, by a band that I know invokes much love via the Comments section whenever I mention them.

Their sound may have become ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, more polished over the years, but they’ve remained instantly recognisable. You know when you’ve heard a song by Half Man Half Biscuit.

So here’s a selection of songs from the album in question, along with pictures to help younger readers get some idea of who the many celebrities name checked in them are.:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Fuckin’ ‘Ell It’s Fred Titmus

 

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As featured:

Fred Titmus, England cricketer who lost four toes in a boating accident, and is still better than the absolute shower we’ve got playing in The Ashes at the moment.

 

Half Man Half Biscuit – 99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd

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As featured:

Bob Todd, comedic actor, straight man to Spike Milligan and, more famously, Benny Hill.

 

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Lesley Judd, co-presenter of BBC flagship childrens show Blue Peter, from the classic line-up of Judd, Singleton, Noakes & Purves

 

 

 

 

Half Man Half Biscuit – Time Flies By (When You’re The Driver Of A Train)

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As featured: Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub, stars of animated TV show Trumpton. After the series ended, McGrew, Dibble and one of the Pugh boys made ends meet by stripping. (Are you sure about this? – Ed)

 

Half Man Half Biscuit – The Len Ganley Stance

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As featured: Len Ganley, bequiffed snooker referee and style icon.

 

 

 

 

Half Man Half Biscuit – I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)

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As featured: Jim Reeves, American country singer known as Gentleman Jim

 

 

 

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Peggy Mount: English actor, probably best known for starring in sit-com “George & the Dragon” with Sid James. You can probably work out a) the basic plotline of every show, and b) which part she played.

 

 

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Arctic Roll, popular pudding in the 1970s. This post would have appeared a lot sooner had I not decided to go and buy one the moment I saw this picture.

 

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Shake n’ Vac, popular carpet freshener from the 1970s, when this advert set hearts a-racing:

 

 

and as covered by Snuff, here:

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Snuff – Shake n’ Vac

And finally:

Half Man Half Biscuit – Reflections In A Flat

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As featured:

Echo & the Bunnymen: Liverpudlian trench coat salesmen

 

 

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Ali Bongo: children’s entertainer, good at contortionism

 

 

 

 

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David Nixon: not as good as Ali Bongo

 

 

And I’m mightily relieved to have got through all of those, and realised I don’t appear to have pinched a single description from those presented on the back cover of the album, just about legible here:

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More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

Time for some more gut reactions, songs which spring to mind whenever I hear a word, phrase or a person’s name.

As discussed at way too much length last time out, many of these seem to stem from footballer’s names, and the first one this week is no exception.

Although I can’t really take credit (if that’s the right phrase…) for this one. I believe I heard it mentioned on an old TV show hosted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel called “Fantasy Football League”.

One of them (Frank, I think) announved that whenever he heard the surname of German midfielder Torsten Frings, he always thought of this song. And since then, I have too:

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Nancy Sinatra & Dean Martin – Things…

They spent a lot of time, money and effort on that sleeve, didn’t they? I mean, they haven’t even bothered to fully crop Lee Hazlewood out of the photo of Nancy. Look:

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Anyway, next up, a record that I actually bought on 7″ single back in 1986, for the sole purpose of putting it on a mix-tape to play in the sixth form common room (chucking a chart record on every now and then was my way of making sure any of the kids less cool than me (sense the ironic tone, by the way) wouldn’t complain that they didn’t know any of the songs being played. See how I suffered for my art?).

As with “Things…”, I may be misappropriating the source, but I have not actually heard the title of this next song since the day that Radio 1 (at the time) DJ Simon Mayo (I think) substituted it for the words “Womens’ Underwear”. I

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Bon Jovi – Womens’ Underwear Livin’ On a Prayer

Which leads us nicely into, if not identical, then very similar territory. Last time out, I opened up the floor to any suggestions which you might have, and Charity Chic (of Charity Chic Music fame) proffered this:

“My surname is Boyd and my brother and I have been known to sing “The Boyds are Back in Town” on occasions (usually when alcohol has been consumed).”

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Thin Lizzy – The Boyds Boys Are Back In Town

I’ve got one of those too. In fact, I have two of them. These aren’t sung by my family and I, but at least once a year (on my birthday) this will spring to mind for one particular line contains a word which bears more than a passing resemblance to my surname (in fact, I’ve lost count of how many times people have thought it is my actual surname):

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The Beautiful South – Let Love Speak Up Itself

Now, I’m not about to reveal my surname here, I’d like to retain some degree of anonymity (although any of you that don’t know me personally but do follow me on Twitter will already know it), but this should give you a bit more of a clue:

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Fred Wedlock – Oldest Swinger in Town

Feel free to send any suggestions you might have (for songs to feature in this series, not for what my surname is) via the Comments section below.

More soon.