Posts from 17th January 2002

Jan 02


I Hate Music1 comment • 747 views


Clever pun, eh readers? And every bit as clever was Green Gartside, singer, songwriter and eventually (his comrades having fled) sole member of Scritti Politti, the 1980s foremost deconstructionist pop pin-ups. Rather like a turd, Scritti Politti emerged from a squat: they brought with them radical new do-it-yourself music – though where most DIY resulted in sore thumbs, Green’s resulted in sore ears. Their first single showed their Marxist credentials by listing the costs of production on its sleeve. (Their second single was set to show the income side of the balance sheets, but ran into entirely predictable problems). Soon though fame and fortune were to come calling, with yet worse results.

What do you think of when you hear the word Green? Trees, grass, yes – but less tangible qualities too. Perhaps you think of nature itself, bursting with life and energy? Not words applicable to Mr.Gartside, whose music even at its peak sounded like bored employees playing marbles in the biscuit tin factory, and was sung by a man who’d had his lungs replaced by meringue. In fact had Scritti sounded any tinnier and oilier they’d have been mistaken for tuna (more likely that than being mistaken for a tune, mind).

Green is also the colour of envy, of course. Green Gartside woke up in his lice-infested pit one day to find to his horror that the Thomson Twins, at that point the only squatter band crustier, ranker, more incompetent and generally useless than his own, had got a record deal and were now on top of the pops. “I’m having some of that” he thought, and the rest is pop history (footnotes thereof). You might think, reader, that envying a band who lived on the same page of pop’s great chronicle as Howard Jones and Sal Solo would lead one to make some of the most insipid and wearying music ever pressed to disc, and you would be entirely right.

But Green had a great advantage over his peers – he’d read a book or two and so he called his songs clever things like “Jacques Derrida” and “Philosophy Now!”. How much did the songs have to do with Jacques Derrida and the current state of philosophy? As much as “Venus And Mars” by Wings has to do with astrophysics. Green’s idea was to subvert the pop public by charting with these post-modern trifles, and a track or two got through the net. Having heard them, though, the pop public swiftly told him to Fouc Aulff.

Bookies refuse to run a book on the Brits…

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 259 views

Bookies refuse to run a book on the Brits… And I don’t blame them. Not because I think they are fixed, though some of the picks for members of the so-called Brit Academy may seem somewhat odd (coughs). I would trust the Electroal Reform Society if they are running a ballot, and they are running this one. That said the voting took place last November, and the shortlist is not a shortlist the winners are chosen from. The winners have already been chosen, its all part of the same vote. The shortlist for all the catagories which aren’t picked by Radio 1 listeners, or Pop Cereal eaters, therefore represent the top five in their catagory. To work that out via single transferable vote would also mean that whoever did that – and probably a lot more people too – know whohas won each catagory.

If I was a Bookie I wouldn’t go near it.

More on the nation’s top pop story

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 304 views

More on the nation’s top pop story i.e. the white female Jackson 5 tribute band. They are to fight on you’ll be pleased to hear, and NYLPM will fight on with them for as long as we can be bothered to check Ananova. Full story here!


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 684 views


Oh, he’s a right leather-faced boyo is our Tom Jones. A real eighteen carat charmer. Actually, I have confession to make. That renaissance he had in the eighties, when The Sun ran the story about women throwing their knickers at him – that was started by me. In an honourable cause though. I had the raging shits for days and it was my form of dirty protest against the man who has apparently got snake hips. Snake don’t have hips anymore. They were so appalled at being compared to Tom Jones that they evolved rather than being thought of in the same breath.

To the rainbow though, as I daresay Virginia Woolf would have said if she had filled her life with such an important project like this of mine. The Green, Green Grass Of Home, so green they named it twice. The song is a eulogy from a man to his home town, seeing his Mama, Papa and a young sweetheart Mary who had the misfortune to be born with lips like cherries. Still with lips made of fruit you would have a tough time singing, so I’m on Mary’s side. I just hope she dumped Tom before he let loose his god-awful bellow on the world.

However all is not peachy in Tom’s world for it transpires that the first two verses were all a dream. You know, that rubbish plot device that at school you were told off for using? Well its all a dream because Mr Jones is actually in prison. For once I punch the air, for this is quite obviously where Tom ought to be – high security in C Block for his crimes against crooning. Not only that but it turns out that the very next morning he is going to be hung by his turkey neck to die. Die I tell you. At least until Trevor Horn and his Art Of Noise decided to breathe some life into the old corpse and make everyone lose their dinners watching a very old man gyrate and talk about kissing us.

I hate the Green Green Grass of Home because there are only two logical conclusions to it. Either Tom Jones lied and was not actually sentenced to death for the crimes has most patently committed. Or worse. That he is some form of undead, cursed to continually do cover albums with his countrymen, foisting and reinforcing the evil of bands like the Stereophonics and Catatonia for eternity. Do you blame me for throwing some crap at him?

The beer

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 190 views

The beer itself isn’t normally a topic here. But we all have our favourites. Mine is Robinson’s Best, which never tasted so good as when it was pulled in the pub surrounded by the brewery in Stockport on three sides. Seeking to renew my acquaintance, I rang the brewers and asked them which pubs had it in London. They didn’t know, as they just sold it to a beer distributor. I got the number of the distributor, who didn’t know either. I queried that they must, since they really should keep records of this sort of thing for tax purposes. But no. All was lost, until I saw a Beer Seller van, with a Robinsons logo on it. Hallelujah!

One phonecall to the Beer Seller later, I receive news that causes my heart to sink. The only regular taker of said beer is the National Physics Laboratory Sports and Social Club in Teddington.

I’ll have to wait until next year’s CAMRA festival for Robbie’s in London. I went this year, and never got my Robbie’s, mainly because I didn’t get round to it. The whole event was strange. Lots of big-bellied-beasts, and lots of faces that caused a flicker of recognition. I also have a problem with the attempts to rank beer with wine in terms of taste and complexity, to equivocate it with wine as a serious pursuit. It’s a bit like the hoary old Cultural Studies debate about the relative merits of Shakespeare and Coronation Street. Too many try to lift up Corry, when the real point is to undermine Shakespeare and point out that they’re all potboilers devised to pack ’em in that have subsequently been elevated to nigh on religious status by those anxious to prove their superiority over the great unwashed. The key point, surely, is ‘does it taste any good ?’. All else is froth.

But most of all, it was the equivalent of the edge of the abyss. The difference between interest and obsession. I like beer, and love pubs. But the beer is a lubricant of the sociality, not the end in itself. That’s not a view shared by the serious types there. It was similar to the difference between London Transport’s Acton Town Depot and the Covent Garden Transport Museum. But that’s another story.

Lengthy Absence

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 341 views

Lengthy Absence Having forgotten all my old passwords for Blogger. I have only been to two pubs this year – 1) The Head, 2) All Bar One. This must not stand. How about going to 37 out of the 38 All Bar Ones in London, and then you could say: “I’ve been to…”

Last Orders:

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 210 views

Last Orders: As I said below in the cursory review of the hideous Coronet, I like movies and I like pubs. Therefore I’m going to like a movie about pub culture, right? Even if it is named after that most loathesome of phrases uttered from behind the bar – Last Orders. A film about four pub cronies and their journey to scatter one of their numbers ashes at Margate, it starts well in their local – The Coach And Horses. These are old men who have spent their lives together in and out of this pub and liking and disliking one another. Unfortunately I was sold a pup wie the film leaves the pub it descends into a too sketchy look at the men avoiding the one thing that drew them together. Their local.

I think there is a really good film to be made about boozers, in particular the way that a bunch of men who may not otherwise see each other or sociabond for a couple of hours with a drink against the bar. Last Orders never really priorotises the importance of the pub itself to them, except for in its opening minutes. Later drinking is seen as merely a crutch, an amusing foible of the David Hemmings character who wants to stop off for beer on the way. The film is based on the Booker Prize winning novel of Graham Swift which manages better to delve into the lives of these complex characters. The film necessarily only skates over them (and does so whilst giving our old protagonists some rubbish hair-do’s in the bargain – Hoskins various syrups are a marvel to behold). Therefore these characters appear almost melodramatic, and too much has happened to them in their lives to make the film particularly realistic. Pub freinds are not necessarily beholden to each other in these ways, the whole interesting aspect of pub culture is its looseness with regards to individual bonds.

It is an entertaining film, but also falls down in the one area I was hoping for more from. The film is set in 1989 (to adequately explain away the characters ages I suppose) and yet there are constant continuity gaffes with moderncars and modern pricings. The pub stopped into in Canturbury was even doing table service! Couple this with the some times unconvincing flashbacks – the only way of denoting the 70’s pub is everyone in Afghan coats. Last Orders is an okay movie, but it was not the one I was looking for – the definitive film about pub life is yet to come I hope.