And so to get your week off to a cheery start, here’s something which relentlessly upbeat but at the same time impossible not to like:
I had thought that the type of Polaroid camera famously referenced in the song was now, in the age of digital photography, where everyone has a camera on there phone, obsolete. But I was surprised to learn when researching this (Yes! Research! For this!) that they are still widely available on the market, and not just as second-hand, nostalgic collector’s items on ebay.
For those of you unfamiliar with them, this is what they look like:
Nice and pocket-sized, right?
Anyone who was around in the late-70s/early 80s will remember them. The idea was that, rather than have to dash off to Snappy Snaps to get your photos developed, this camera would print them off as and when you took them.
When it emerged from the camera, the photo would be blank, but after a few moments the photo appeared. Users often would shake the photos as they developed, in an effort to speed the process up.
However, in the wake of Hey Ya! Polaroid released an official statement:
“[The image] never touches air, so shaking or waving has no effect. In fact, shaking or waving can actually damage the image. Rapid movement during development can cause portions of the film to separate prematurely, or can cause ‘blobs’ in the picture.”
There was going to be a ranty post here this morning, but somehow I can’t summon up the energy.
I think it’s probably because at the time of writing there still hasn’t been an official announcement to confirm Gareth Bale’s return to the Tottenham Hotspur squad after seven years away playing for some team called Real Madrid, so I’m…distracted.
I haven’t been this excited about a “new” player arriving at the club since we signed Rafael Van Der Vaart, also from Real Madrid, back in 2010.
I was sharing a flat with Hel at the time, and we would spend many a happy weekend watching football. Hel, bless her, had to get used to me making the same jokes and, occasionally, singing a theme tune I had attributed to a certain player. I think I eventually ground her down enough that she actually enjoyed it in the end, but I wouldn’t bet much money on it. To the uninitiated, I fear it might come across as a tad on the Colin Hunt from The Fast Show-side:
My behaviour when watching football then, and now when I live on my own if I’m honest, was very much rooted in the time when I lived with Hel’s brother, Llŷr. Oh-so-many of our hours were whiled away watching TV and making stupid jokes, each trying to make the other laugh, and this was never more true than when watching football together. We thought we were like David Baddiel and Frank Skinner when they used to do Fantasy Football League, only funnier (we thought) and less well paid (we knew).
I’ll explain, but be warned, none of these will sound even remotely funny to you.
Llŷr and I would often develop running jokes or catch-phrases we would say whenever a player was mentioned. Often these would be based on some banal bon mot delivered by the TV commentator: for example, during one match, the commentator said: “Steven Gerrard, there. A Liverpool player, through and through. Cut him, and he bleeds red.” On another occasion, Chelsea and Germany captain Michael Ballack was described as “a true sporting professional. He does not like to lose!”. So whenever Gerrard was subsequently mentioned, it would be a race to see which of us could say “bleeds red” first; with Ballack it would be “hates losing.” And so on.
By the time I moved in with Hel, this had developed (I say developed…that implies some kind of improvement, doesn’t it…?) into the following categories:
i) Any player who used to play for Spurs would be labelled a “Tottenham reject” every time they were mentioned in commentary;
ii) Any player who used to play for Peterborough (my home town) would be labelled a “Posh reject” (this one cropped up less frequently, to be fair);
The “joke” here was that usually the player is question had gone on to play for a better team than either of those, if by “better” you mean “more successful”.
iii) Certain players would have their name pronounced in what I found an amusing manner. Glen Johnson would always be said in a deep, smooth voice, meant to mimic Johnson from Peep Show; Steven Pienaar would be whined “Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeynar”, like a US high school surfer dude might.
iv) Occasionally – very occasionally – they would get their name sung to the chorus of a song – you know, like they do on the terraces.
And my favourite of these – and as I write this I have a nagging feeling I may have written about this before, but I’ve come this far now I’m not going to stop and check or I’ll have to think of something else to write about – was the one I used to sign whenever – and I mean whenever – Van Der Vaart’s name came up, which was simply bellowing his name to the chorus of this tune:
Today’s selection from this not at all forgotten series (none of the series are truly forgotten, they just aren’t as lovingly kept as the stalwarts, and are sporadically resuscitated when I think of something to write about) features a bloody great tune, which has all the attributes seemingly specifically designed to catch my attention.
I’ll go no further than to say this is from their 2018 album Future Me Hates Me and if you like triffic guitar-led, female fronted indie-pop, then, if you don’t already know them, you should prepare to fall in love with The Beths:
To Scotland! And a band who I own the princely sum of one record by, and of whom I know very little.
Here’s what I do know: their 2017 album, In Memory Of – the aformentioned one album I own by them – is ace, and this song, the opening track from said album, lazy comparison as it is, reminds me of Franz Ferdinand in full swing, which is in no way a bad thing.
I have posted this before, here, just a couple of YouTube links back then, since my philosophy was, still is, not to post downloadable links for new bands, but I figure enough time has passed to allow me to recommend this lot again and post a proper link now:
Apologies for the lack of posts recently. There’s a couple of reasons, which you can read if you want, or skip onto the next paragraph if you don’t.
No, not this paragraph, the next one.
Ok, the one after next then, pedant.
Firstly, I always seem to get a case of the January blues, when I either can’t think of anything to write about, or just can’t be arsed to write something even when I can. It’s at this point that I’m always in awe of my blogging peers who manage to post something every day; I imagine you know who they are, but if not have a quick rummage around my sidebar (oo-er, Missus!) and you’ll spot them pretty quickly, and also, doubtless, be introduced to some tunes you never heard before but will, in all probability, adore. Secondly, (he says, being very careful not to start a new paragraph), winter TV has some incredible treats, and much of my time of a weekend (when I normally write) has been spent trying to catch up on some recorded stuff, some other stuff on Netflix, and generally wishing there was enough time in the day for me to watch everything my heart desires. I imagine you’ve watched most of them – Dracula; The Trial of Christine Keeler (both of which I’m in the middle of catching up on, so no spoilers please!) – plus I’ve inexplicably got rather engrossed in The Crown, which is something I never thought would happen. A nod though, to Deadwater Fell which started on Channel 4 last night and which I think I’m going to be moderately obsessed with for a while, so brilliant was it.
And – sod it, skip to the next paragraph – thirdly, I’ve been working on The Chain. Or more specifically, I had decided that on it’s return I would make the points I awarded actually mean something, so I have been going through all of the old posts and totting up who scored what, when and for what. It’s a slow process, hindered by the fact that I have to read every post to see where points were awarded and to whom, and I must say it has refreshed my memory and raised more than a few smiles, you funny clever bastards, you. I mention this just so you know it is coming soon, I haven’t given up on it yet, and if you want to make a suggestion for a song that links to Pulp’s Sorted For E’s& Whizz, you still can, by emailing me at email@example.com with the name of the song you want to suggest and a brief description of the link between the two songs.
Which brings me to this morning’s tunes.
As I’ve been scouring through all the old Chain posts, I couldn’t help but notice the tagline on this here blog. There it is, up in the left hand corner:
“A confessional trawl through my record buying history…where there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure”
When I first started writing this blog back in – *checks notes* Jesus wept! – 2013, the plan was that I would write about every record I had ever bought, irrespective of how the Gods and Goddesses of Cool viewed those records, in the order that I bought them.
That last part has definitely fallen by the way side in the intervening years (although it does crop up every now and again, usually prompted by watching an old episode of Top of the Pops on BBC4), but it occured to me that I hadn’t posted anything for a while which most people consider to be a terrible record, but which I absolutely love.
For that is the definition of a Guilty Pleasure – a record which people look down on but which you (by which I mean me) has a lot of affection for. It’s not a philosophy I subscribe to, of course; there is no right or wrong when it comes to music because it’s subjective. I mean, even Coldplay have a couple of good songs in their back catalogue (there I’ve said it!).
Just because everyone else thinks a record stinks to high heaven is no reason for you to think the same, nor should you like a record or a group just because everyone else does.
On this last point, I am always reminded of my old mate Colin. I’ve written about him before in this context, but Colin hates The Beatles; not because he thinks they’re awful or that they didn’t make some of the most important pop records of the 20th century, but because he resents everyone else telling him that he should like them. He’s such a renegade, living as he does on the boundaries of society that is St Albans that he doesn’t like being told what he should or should not like. It’s a position I absolutely admire.
And so it seems only right that I should return with a record that most people think is,well, naff at best and just plain shit at worst. But a record which I love nonetheless, not least because it’s catchy as hell, but also because it’s a history lesson tied up in a four and half minute pop song. It’s both entertaining and educating, as The Lord Reith would have insisted.
Also, it supports my theory that any record which contains hand claps, finger clicks or…erm…mouth whistles is a happy record, sometimes irrespective of the lyrical content, as is the case with today’s tune, which is about (spoiler alert!) a mad shag-a-holic Russian monk, his rise to a position of influence and power, and his rather unpleasant, and unusual, murder:
And if that isn’t great enough to convince you, then check out Boney M super-dude Bobby’s dancing in this:
It’s hardly surprising he has to have a good sit down half way through, is it?
And just in case that’s not Guilty Pleasure enough for you, here’s a song which samples (a different song by) Boney M, which everyone I know treated like it was something unpleasant that they’d trodden in, but which I think is just brilliant:
Blimey, it’s been a while since I wrote one of these!
For those of you who don’t recall the thrust of this series, or those who have only started frequenting these pages in the not unsizeable gap that is since March 2018, here’s the giste: I have a theory, and that theory is that any song which features either handclaps, finger-clicks or whistles can only be fantastic (and generally upbeat) records. This series sets out to test this theory.
So far, I have been 100% correct, but then I do have the slight advantage of being the content provider/writer/editor.
So I’ll keep it brief, for this artiste needs no introduction whatsoever:
I refer, of course, to the band Toronto, who, having formed in Toronto, must have spent a really long time at the whiteboard, blue-sky thinking, before they came up with the moniker they chose for their band.
This is by them, a prime slice of early 80s US MOR rock, which reached the giddy heights of #5 in the Canadian charts, #77 in the US charts, and absolutely nowhere in any other chart in the world ever. Don’t let that put you off though:
There’s a better version of that though, from a film I’ve never seen. I suspect from what I have seen and heard about it, Fubar: The Movie is a sort of Canadian slacker Spinal Tap meets Bill & Ted type affair. And why would I want to watch that when I can watch This is Spinal Tap itself, or the actual Bill & Ted films?
But this version is faster, punchier and meatier than the original:
I’m going to assume you’re all clever enough to be watching Mum.
*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:
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: