Claps, Clicks & Whistles #18

I’m going to assume you’re all clever enough to be watching Mum.

No??

*Deep breath* Okay…

I mentioned it in passing way back here when the first series was on, and the show is currently nearing the end of it’s second series on the BBC.

Written and directed by Stefan Glaszewski, who cut his comedy teeth in sketch group Cowards and was also responsible for the almost as brilliant Him and Her, it tells the story of Cathy (played by Lesley Manville), trying to carry on after the death of her husband. Which doesn’t sound like the most cheerful of premise for a comedy show, I’ll admit, but it’s so well written and acted it’s pretty much perfect and irresistible.

The ensemble cast includes her son, Jason (Sam Swainsbury) who still lives at home with her (and is always eating), and his girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrills) who, shall we say, is not the brightest bead on the rosary. As with Him and Her, every episode is filmed in the same location, the family home, where Cathy, Jason and Kelly are inevitably visited by Cathy’s newly-separated brother Derek (Ross Boatman) and his hideously wannabe posh new girlfriend Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson), who spends every scene looking down her nose at whoever she is on screen with her. Also in tow are her in-laws, the fabulously cantankerous, bewildered and foul-mouthed Reg (Karl Johnson) and Maureen (Marlene Sidaway).

And then there’s Michael (Peter Mullan). I’ve only ever seen Mullan play tough nuts, bad guys or Swanney (aka Mother Superior, on the account of the length of his habit, in Trainspotting) before, so his portrayal of Michael is a real revelation to me. Michael clearly is clearly smitten with Cathy, is forever popping round to do jobs for her in the hope that she’ll notice him in “that way”, never able to tell her that he has feelings for fear of ruining their friendship. Every time he is interrupted by someone else walking into the room when he’s alone with Cathy, who can see in his eyes the inner torment that’s raging.

It’s this relationship which forms the heart of the show, a “will they/won’t they” scenario that you’re genuinely hoping will end positively, even though you know that will almost definitely spell the end of the programme.

Often with the show, it’s not about what is said, it’s the silences, the nuances, the looks between the characters that really makes Mum so wonderful. It’s like a funny Pinter play. I can’t speak highly enough of it, so if you haven’t done so yet, check it out on the BBC iPlayer whilst you still can. Suffice it to say, if you loved Detectorists – and if you didn’t then we can never really be friends – then chances are you’ll also love Mum.

Oh, and then there’s the theme tune, a revival of the 1931 Carter Family song “When I’m Gone”, which, depending on which corner of the internet you look, is either called “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, “Cups”, “When I’m Gone”, “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me)” or “You’re Gonna Miss Me (Cups)” and so on and so forth. What is not up for debate is that it’s by Lulu and the Lampshades, and the “Cups” refers to the method of percussion used in their interpretation, but I’m pretty sure I can hear some claps and clicks in there too:

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Lulu and the Lampshades – You’re Gonna Miss Me

More soon.

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Claps, Clicks & Whistles #17

Something pretty bloody wonderful to kick off your weekend.

The Pipettes seem to have ground to a halt, but the¬†three band members involved with their short fifteen minutes of fame¬†have moved on to other projects, with varying degrees of success: Rose Elinor Dougall is a solo artist but also performs in Mark Ronson’s band; Rebecca Stephens seems to flit between recording under the name Electric Blue and Projectionists, whilst Gwenno Saunders has toured playing¬†keyboards for some¬†chap called Elton John, whoever he is, and in 2014 released the simply stunning Welsh language album Y Dydd Olaf, which if you’ve never heard I can heartily recommend, even if, like me, you don’t understand a ruddy word she’s sing.

The Pipettes had a distinct look (predominantly polka dot skirts which would make Strawberry Switchblade green with envy) and some corking tunes, not least this, from 2006, their biggest – okay, their only – UK hit.¬†Given how simply loveable this is, it’s a real shame that their time¬†in the spotlight was criminally brief:

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 The Pipettes РPull Shapes

If you’re heading out tonight, I heartily recommend that you incorporate this into your¬† getting ready routine.

More soon.

I Think I’m In L.U.V.

It’s not often I post new(ish) music here, but having got hold of a copy of Catholic Action’s “In¬† Memory Of” album, I simply had to share it with you.

Mostly, because I’m really surprised that, as far as I can see, none of my blogging peers seem to have picked up on them as yet, which is even more surprising given that Catholic Action are¬†from Glasgow, the spiritual home of the music blogger.

They caught my eye when reading a review of them which mentioned the album had been produced by Chris McCrory, who had worked with Breakfast Muff. Not a name that would ever have piqued my interest (other than for the smutty possibility of Muff gags) had a record by them not been nominated by Stevie from Charity Chic Music back on The Chain (remember that..?) #42 (where, of course, I exhausted all of the smutty possibilities of Muff gags), but it’s a single I really liked, so I figured I’d investigate this lot.

A quick search of YouTube (I’m so modern) led me to conclude they were worth investing in, and having given the album a couple of spins, I genuinely think I love them.

I’ve not quite worked out who they remind me of, all I can say is there’s a lot of indie influences in there (I think I hear Weezer on “Breakfast“) but¬†the only ones I’ve definitely nailed¬†so far are¬†Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian, which, given they all hail from the same area,¬†may just be lazy thinking on my part.

You can definitely hear the FF’s influence on this, their debut single and the album’s opening track¬†(NB – as usual, on the rare event of me posting new music, I’m not giving you an mp3. If you like this, go and buy it.). Give your ears a treat and give this a darn good listening to:

And, from 2016, and which stretches my assertion that their a new band to its knicker-elastic-twanging limit, here’s their eulogy to one Ms Ora:

See? Told you so. Chuffing ace.

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles

And so my Christmas break begins. No work till next Thursday, and today I’m travelling up to spend the next few days with my folks.

So, although they no longer live in the same village as I grew up, this seems appropriate:

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Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Home for the Holidays

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #16

Blimey, has it been over a month since I wrote one of these? Blame The Chain (which I think we can safely say is now a fortnightly occurrence, by the way).

So I’ll keep this brief.

I love The Go-Go’s. I’ve listened to this track several times, trying to work out if that noise – you’ll know it when you hear it – is a foot-stomp or a hand clap, or a combination of the two. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably several hand claps layered on to each other.

Have a listen for yourselves:

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The Go-Go’s – Head Over Heels

That came out in 1984, shortly before the band split (for the first time), and comes from the Martin Rushent produced ‘Talk Show’ album. It’s by far the best thing on there.

But back in 1981, they released this, which definitely features some hand claps, and which is, without doubt, one of my favourite singles of all time (which you can tell, because I think this is probably the third time I’ve found an excuse to post it):

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The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

Still sounds as great today as it did way back when.

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #15

I’ve been umming and ahhing for a while about whether to post this tune here or in my even more infrequent series on how to do a cover version.

See, as I’ve mentioned before, I think if you’re going to do a cover version, you may as well try and do something interesting with it, and that certainly applies to this cover version, so maybe it belongs over there.

But then, it’s so hot dang finger clicking good,¬†it belongs here too.

Aww, who cares? Here it is:

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TV On The Radio – Mr Grieves

For the uninitiated, that’s a cover of a Pixies song. Not just any old song, mind. The song which contains the lyric which gave them the title of¬†their simply massive album “Doolittle”:

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Pixies – Mr Grieves

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #14

A few months ago, I made a bad joke about featuring a record by whistler-in-chief Roger Whittaker on these pages, only to be rather taken aback by several requests to actually post something by him.

Well, there’s some more obvious songs by more obvious whistlers to post before I get to¬†Our Rog.

Like this lot for example:

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Whistling Jack Smith – I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman

That song managed to reach the giddy heights of #5 in the UK charts back in 1967. The true identity of the actual Whistling Jack Smith has remained something of a mystery; the whistler here is believed to be John O’Neill, a trumpeter and singer with the Mike Sammes Singers, who are known to have performed on the recording.

However, just like when Black Box hired Katrin Quinol, a French Caribbean model, to become the face of their 1989 smasheroo “Ride on Time” rather then just admit they had sampled Loleatta Holloway’s¬†single “Love Sensation”, or like when that girl mimed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing¬†Olympics, or every record that Milli Vanilli were ever involved in: when it came to performing on Top of the Pops, actor Coby Wells was used to mime the whistling, and later toured as the public face of Whistling Jack Smith.

Coby Wells’ real name was Billy Moeller, who was the brother of Tommy Moeller. You know Tommy Moeller, right? Lead vocalist, guitarist, and pianist¬†with Unit 4 + 2..? Yes, that Tommy Moeller.

Here’s their most famous moment:

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Unit 4 + 2 – Concrete and Clay

Many of you will know that Dexys Midnight Runners front man Kevin Rowland¬†released an album of controversial cover versions which contained that song. Actually, it wasn’t so much the cover versions which were¬†controversial, more the covers of the album, “My Beauty” and the singles which were released from it:

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Kevin Rowland – Concrete and Clay

(“Pssst! Kevin!! Kevin!! You didn’t tuck yourself in properly when you came out of the Gents!”)

So controversial was his choice of clothing, that the audience pelted him with bottles of…erm…liquid when he appeared on stage at the Reading Festival to perform tracks from the album¬†back in 1999. But they did the same to Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler back in 1988, so he was really just carrying on a rock ‘n’ roll tradition.

And speaking of dubious cover versions, let it not be forgotten that “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” itself got worked over in 1977:

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The Wurzels – Farmer Bill’s Cowman

And yes, the Quality Control desk is closed tonight.

More soon.