The A Word

I was genuinely pleased to see the return for a second series this week of BBC drama The A Word.

I really enjoyed the first series which I had watched for one simple reason: Christopher Eccleston. 

Eccleston is an actor I could watch endlessly; I’ve never seen him be in anything bad, and I’ve never seen him be bad in anything.

And before you ask, my admiration for him pre-dates his brief stint as Dr Who. It even pre-dates his appearances in Danny Boyle directed movies like Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later.

Although actually, the source of my admiration for Eccleston comes from the same year as Shallow Grave, 1994, but I didn’t watch that until after I’d seen – and because I had seen – Cracker.

Cracker was a rarity in my book: a compelling, well-acted, well-scripted drama on ITV; I can’t think of a single drama they have shown which comes anywhere close to how good that show was in it’s first and second series. Much of that was down to the writing, by Jimmy McGovern; as with Eccleston, to this day, I try to watch anything which has his name attached to it.

The show also introduced me to a couple of other actors that I still try to catch as often as possible: John Simm, Samantha Morton and Robert Carlyle.

In fact, Carlyle plays a large part in the reason I loved this show.

Spoiler alert.

One of the reasons Cracker left a massive impression on me was the shocking, death of Eccleston’s character, DCI David Bilborough, at the hands of Carlyle’s Albie Kinsella, in the first story of the second series, “To Be a Somebody”.

This was something I had never seen before: a main character brutally, unexpectedly, killed off. Other TV shows have since followed suit (although I’ve never watched it, Spooks springs to mind). And if you think about it, that’s drama reflecting real life; when people die young, or in the line of duty, you generally don’t expect it, so the loss is a bolt from the blue, an absolute shock.

But I digress. When I saw that Eccleston was going to be in the first series of The A Word, I knew I was going to have to watch it.

The A Word is about Joe,  a young boy on the autistic spectrum, and the effect that his condition (and other things) has on his extended family.

Joe finds it difficult to engage with people, but he finds it very easy to engage with music; he has a pair of headphones permanently attached to him, can quote the year each song he listens to was released, who it was by, etc, and often the bulk of his conversation is focused on song titles and lyrics of his favourite songs.

And joy of joys, he has bloody great taste in music. Here’s three songs which featured heavily in the first series:

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The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

And – don’t knock this one, it’s bloody great, if not quite in the same league as the two it’s sandwiched between here:

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Will Young – Leave Right Now

And, since I haven’t posted it for a while, and it remains one of the greatest (indie) records ever:

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The Wedding Present – Kennedy

The entire first series is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer, should you be so inclined.

Or, some kind soul has compiled a playlist of all the songs which featured in Series 1 over on YouTube, which you can have a look at here.

So, could the second series match the very high standards it had set itself in the first series?

Oh, yes.

Here’s what the music over the first scene was:

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Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

Promising.

And then, a little later, gloriously, this:

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The Wedding Present – Brassneck

Note: not the album version, but the Steve Albini produced single version. Class.

So anyway, if you enjoy the sort of stuff I post here, give The A Word a look. You might even quite like the drama aspect, but if you don’t, you’ll love the soundtrack.

And if Joe isn’t writing his own music blog by the time Series 3 comes around, I’ll be very disappointed.

Either way, that should have got your weekend off to a decent enough start.

I’m tempted, as the series progresses, to feature all the great songs that feature in the show. We’ll see (if I can be arsed).

In other words: More soon.

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Friday Night Music Club

Unlike the Leave campaigners, I have to be honest. I don’t really feel like doing this today.

I’m not a bad loser. I’m really good at it. I’m a left wing, Spurs fan: I’ve had plenty of practice over the years.

The country has spoken, and I accept and acknowledge what they’ve said. Such is democracy.

Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it though.

Especially when you hear things like this:

It’s less than 24 hours since the Leave campaign won, In that time, the following has happened:

  • The pound has hit its lowest point in 30 years;
  • Scotland has said it is likely to demand a new Independence Referendum;
  • Some Irish politicians have indicated they think that’s a pretty good idea, and may want one too;
  • Spain’s acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said the leave vote had brought the prospect of a Spanish flag flying on the rock of Gibraltar closer;
  • Farage’s victory speech claimed it had been won “without a bullet being fired”, which I’m sure the family of Jo Cox were delighted to hear;
  • Boris Johnson has said there is “no haste to start the EU process”;
  • Unfortunately, the EU leaders disagree, and have called for the UK to leave “as soon as possible, however painful that process may be”. Which sounds promising;
  • Donald Trump has hailed the result as “a great thing”. And he’s a thoroughly sensible and creditable person that you want to have agreeing with you;
  • Hamid Aboutalebi, a senior political aide to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said: “The leaving of England from the EU is a historic opportunity for Iran and we should make the most out of this new opportunity.” Uh oh. Time to sex-up some more documents!;
  • David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister (so, not all bad then, until you consider who’s waiting in the wings…);
  • Farage has admitted the Leave claim that “£350 million a week will go to the NHS” was “a mistake” (read: lie)

Do you think they can get the money back that they paid to have that “mistake” plastered all over their buses? Or for the advertising campaign that repeatedly – even after it had been called out – got aired?

You can’t help but think that many have swallowed the lies mistakes that the Leave campaign pedalled. Wales, for example. I love Wales. As many of you will know, I lived there for 20 years, and although I moved away almost 10 years ago, if you asked me today where I considered to be home, I’d say “Cardiff” in a heartbeat. (Still love ya though, London!). But the majority of Wales voted to leave…despite them getting the most EU funding of any UK area. What other explanation other than being duped is there for that?

And Birmingham! One of the most gloriously multi-cultural cities we have, voted to Leave. How did that happen???

As a result of this vote, the UK will probably lose its Triple A credit status. The one we endured austerity for the past few years to keep. I work in the public sector, for my local council. Local authorities have felt the austerity pinch like no other, which has a trickle down effect on to you and I. And that’s now going to get worse. Local authorities will be faced with a choice: either provide fewer services – or the same services but at a lower standard – or increase your Council Tax.

From a purely selfish point of view: I will probably get laid off. I won’t be able to afford to stay in the flat I so happily rent. Chances are, I will become unemployed, and homeless. Spare me some change, won’t you, Brexiters?

And in case you think this is scare-mongering or pity-seeking or worst case scenario thinking on my part, check out the Comments on my “Minds Made Up” post, specifically the one from Dirk (sexyloser), who lives in Germany, one of those EU countries that we’ve just told to “do one”:

“Got very clear instructions from my boss this morning and thus spent the last three hours stopping all deliveries into the UK for clients paying in GBP with immediate effect. Accepting fresh orders is forbidden, too. Next thing is trying to persuade them to pay in Euros, 1 : 1.35 in comparison to yesterday…”

This is Day One. That’s one company. The process to extract the UK is estimated to take up to two years. Imagine how many other European companies will follow suit in that time.

But it’s okay. No need to worry. Just over a month ago, on the 17th May 2016, to be precise, Nigel Farage said that in the event that Remain won on a 52 – 48 basis, he’d consider that too close to call and would want a second referendum as there would be “unfinished business”. And we all know Nigel is a man of his word, don’t we? So since Leave won on an even smaller margin (51.9% Leave to 48.1% Remain), the same applies, right, Nigel? Nigel….??? Sorry, forgot. Pubs are open. (But only till 23:00, because we don’t want those pesky continental drinking hours anymore, do we?)

The bad people have won. The people we’ve all scoffed at, mocked for their insular, backwards, 1970s way of looking at the world. Them.

I stayed up through the whole thing, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will confirm (@jezbionic in case you’re interested), and you won’t be surprised to learn that a few songs of relevance occurred to me throughout the night. Some got posted, some didn’t. And that’s what you’re getting tonight.

You’ll forgive me if tonight’s post isn’t exactly bursting with the usual happiness, enthusiasm, fun or joie de vivre (if you’ll excuse my French, irony intended). I am fucking angry. There will be no commenting in between songs. No funnies. Cos funny is not how I feel.

This ten song sequence is without doubt the best thing to have come out of the EU Referendum. Every cloud, eh?

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306. Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God

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 307. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

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308. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

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309. Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels

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310. Buzzcocks – Something’s Gone Wrong Again

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311. R.E.M – Bad Day

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312. The Streets – Has It Come To This?

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313. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste

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314. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Who’s Gonna Take The Blame

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315. Dobie Gray – The ‘In’ Crowd

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

I had a lot of fun doing the sweary edition of Friday Night Music Club last week, so much so that, devoid of anything approaching an original idea, I thought I’d simply repeat the same trick tonight. If it works for the Quo, then why can’t it work for me?

So – be careful where you read this or listen to tonight’s post, for it is definitely NSFW, as I believe they say in some of the slightly bluer areas of the internet which I have definitely never visited and have only heard about, honest Officer.

But we’ll take it gently for a start. Well, gentle sounding anyway.

Darren Hayman is perhaps best known as the main man from Hefner, who gained a whole lot of airplay and blog-inches a couple of years ago because of their track “The Day Thatcher Dies”. Just as Prince wrote “1999”, Jarvis wrote “Disco 2000” and whoever it was that used to write Robbie Williams’ songs wrote “Millenium” all played the long-game and wrote singles about, end of the world excepted, fixed points in time in the future that would definitely happen (and their record would be played) so Hayman knew his ker-ching day would come soon enough.

But I’m not posting that song. I’m posting this rather lovely sounding track from his “January Songs” album, featuring Elizabeth Morris from indie-pop darlings and inverted comma users nightmare “Allo’ Darlin'”:

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147. Darren Hayman – I Know I Fucked Up

Keeping it in a similar vein, here’s Jenny Owen Youngs from her debut album “Batten the Hatches”, which implies a pending storm, whirlwind, or hurricane, and is, I’m sure you’ll agree once you hear this, rather mistitled:

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148. Jenny Owen Youngs – Fuck Was I

Now it’s not often you get a song with a four word title where three of the four words are swears. But here’s one from a rather unlikely source: daughter of Canadian American folk rock singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III (who older readers might recall used to have a guest slot on one of Jasper Carrott’s TV shows in the 1970s/1980s), daughter of folk legend Kate McGarrigle and brother of Rufus, here’s Martha Wainwright at her potty-mouthed best:

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149. Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

This gives me an excellent excuse to post the time that she appeared as a panellist on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” where she met the man with both the mind and the cock of a horse, Dappy, and…well, let’s just say it’s a little awkward (head to 11:24 of the clip):

Moving on, a song which surely needs no introduction:

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150. Radiohead – Creep

Two memories from this: firstly, of the time the video appeared on Beavis and Butthead which rather annoyingly has been blocked on that there YouTube, but which I’ve managed to track down here. Actually, make that three memories, as watching that has just brought back lots of dial-up experiences of “buffering” (it works better the second time you try to watch it, honest). “If they didn’t have a part of the song that sucked, then the rest of the song wouldn’t be as cool.” Genius.

Secondly, or thirdly depending how you want to look at it, I was working in a video shop in Cardiff in the early 1990s when this came out, and I had, you’ll be totally unsurprised to hear, prepared a load of mix-tapes to play in store, one of which included this, but the clean, radio-friendly version. One of the chaps who worked in the store with me was unaware of this, and was at the front of the shop one evening helping someone pick a movie, when he heard the opening bars of this come on and thought to himself “There’s a very good reason why this should not get played in the store” but couldn’t quite remember what that reason was. The penny dropped just as it got to the bit where chainsaw guitars get cranked up (the cool bit), and he ran the length of the shop, vaulted over the counter, crashed into the bank of TVs and slid down to where the tape player was, just in time of the sanitised “…so very special…” came through the speakers.

Anyway, Radiohead recorded a clean version of “Creep” to ensure it finally got airplay, but there’s another way to ensure you get a single with a swear word on it played: have just one swear word, sung once, right at the end, when radio DJs are concentrating more on what they’re going to say next than on what is being played.

Step up to the mic Michael Stipe and his R.E.M. chums for this, the lead single and opening track from their 1994 “Monster” album. The final departing lyrical salvo, in case you don’t quite catch it, is “Don’t fuck with me”:

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151. R.E.M. – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

A short non-musical interlude now. The relationship between Black Francis and Kim Deal of Pixies fame was notoriously fractious, and nowhere was that better illustrated than with this sound-clip which features as a track on the glorious “Surfer Rosa” album.

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152. Pixies – You Fucking Die!

Yeh, course you were, Francis.

Moving on, I mentioned Jarvis Cocker earlier, so here’s something from his second solo album, “Further Complications” where Jarvis goes down the R.E.M. route of steadfastly not swearing until right at the end, but kind of misses the point by a) putting the offending word in the title, and b) not actually releasing it as a single anyway so it didn’t really matter:

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153. Jarvis Cocker – Fuckingsong

Now: a band I adore, who John Peel loved, who are vastly under-rated, have never achieved anything like the commercial success they deserve, and have produced a whole host of songs which will unquestionably feature in my “Name That Tune” thread. I speak, of course, of none other than Half Man Half Biscuit, and this features as one of three songs on the “Dickie Davies Eyes” EP:

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154. Half Man Half Biscuit – The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman

And in case you were wondering who Dean Friedman is:

Dean is the one playing the piano. Quite the dish, eh ladies?

If you think Half Man Half Biscuit have a daft name, then you’ll probably not be much of a fan of Pop Will Eat Itself’s name either, but that’s where we’re heading next, so tough titties. No swears in the title this time, but if you ever want to hear two former crusties/UK sampling pioneers from the Black Country bellowing the word “Motherfuckers!” then this is your go-to record:

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155. Pop Will Eat Itself – Get the Girl! Kill The Baddies!

And since we seem to have strayed into kinda dancey territory, here’s some pure filth courtesy of John Creamer, a name which always makes me giggle like a naughty schoolboy, same as when anyone ever mentions the band “Tool”. We’re back in Beavis and Butthead territory I’m afraid, or more specifically, this chap:

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Anyway, I digress. The next song is without doubt the filthiest thing I will be posting tonight, so please do not listen if you are under 18, easily offended, or sitting at your desk at work:

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156. John Creamer – Fuck Sonnet (Vocal Mix)

There was a trend on club records about 10 – 12 years ago or so – probably still is for all I know, it’s that long since I’ve been to one – for the vocal part to just be just a deep voiced bloke spouting all sorts of sauciness. There is one in particular that I’d love to track down, which I won’t bore you with here, but if you know someone who really knows their dance tunes that fit that vague description, I’d really appreciate it if they got in touch.

Public service request dispensed with, here’s someone neither you nor I ever expected to pop up here:

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157. Miley Cyrus – Fuckin Fucked Up

No wait, come back! This is lifted from her 2015 album where she collaborated with The Flaming Lips, and you can spot their wonderfully weird influence all over this. Plus, it’s only 50 seconds long so…y’know…suck it up and give it a go.

Time for a classic. This next song was the first ever song to get into the UK Top 40 that had the word “Fuck” in the title. The BBC banned it, of course; when they simply had to refer to it, they did so as “Too Drunk To…” and Top 40 host Tony Blackburn, who the BBC also banned from their airwaves last week just said it was a “a record by a group calling themselves The Dead Kennedys”. It is, of course:

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158. Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck

In this week of controversial songs, perhaps one of the most controversial songs ever. From their “Straight Outta Compton” album:

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159. N.W.A. – Fuck Tha Police

Which reminds me, I must watch the movie sometime.

Anyway, thank goodness for Adam Buxton’s cleaned up version:

Some of you may recognise the driver as Kerry Godliman, perhaps best known as playing Hannah in the Ricky Gervais comedy “Derek”, but a fantastic stand-up in her own right:

Back to the music, and a band much loved by Super Furry Animals, who they sampled on their indie-club classic “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” single, the sample being lifted from this very song:

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160. Steely Dan – Show Biz Kids

Personally, I’m not all that fussed about that; I find myself not really paying attention until it gets to the bit that SFA sampled, at which point I suddenly perk up and start listening again.

On to a band whose debut eponymous album I was introduced to at college by a friend ringing me up, saying “You have to hear this” and playing this track down the phone to me:

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161. Violent Femmes – Add It Up

This is one of my favourite albums ever, all killer no filler, but most people only seem to know  “Blister in the Sun”, the opening song from the album. For me, though, “Add It Up” is the best thing on there, partly because of that phone call, but mostly, if I’m honest, because it pretty much describes my life at the time. And a disappointingly large amount of it afterwards too, now I think about it.

Which makes the next song title rather apt. The B-side to their wonderful and without peer 7″ single “What Do I Get?” – which we used to do a cover of in the band I was in at college:

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162. Buzzcocks – Oh Shit!

We’re on the home straight now, don’t fret.

Penultimately, a song by a group – no, by two groups – no, by a super-group that I waxed lyrical about after seeing them at Glastonbury last year. The amalgamation of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks into FFS:

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163. FFS – Piss Off

And finally a song by an artiste/band that I own only this by, and even this I only own on “Sharks Patrol These Waters”, a CD featuring the best of those “Volume” compilations that came out in the 1990s (you remember them – they always came with a quite meaty book which talked about all of the acts contained therein and without fail had a picture of tropical fish on the cover)

Like this, in fact:

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164. Mindless Drug Hoover – Fuck Off

All I can tell you about them (him?) is that they (he?) released one album in 1997 called “Don’t Take Ecstacy” which sounds like a terrible idea to me, and probably explains why I never bought anything else by them (him?)

Anyway, that’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.