Posts from 13th January 2005

13
Jan 05

I was hoping

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I was hoping to finish writing about The Honeycombs’ “Have I The Right?” today in order to put it up on Popular, but no luck. Then I remembered that the mighty Dr C. had written about that song (and others) for us a few years ago, so a bit of fiddling with the essays blog and here it is, wrongly credited to me on the front page.

I Know It’s Crazy But I Can’t Stop

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The Honeycombs, by Dr C

I’m in love with Honey Lantree, and anyone who cares about pop should love her too. Look at the cover of The Honeycombs ‘I Can’t Stop’ – she’s above the boys, looking to the left and slightly upwards, red lipstick and dark back-comb. If you could see her body, instead of just her head, you might expect to see her seated at a typewriter, clockwatching the last ten minutes of a working week, looking forward to tonight’s club, tonight’s friends, tonight’s music. She’d be wearing a skirt slightly too short for the typing pool and perhaps a little too much make up – but there’s no time to go home to the suburbs and change before the 100 Club. No time to waste.

Well, it’s not quite as ordinary as that. Although at one time a hairdresser, Honey Lantree was 60’s pop’s greatest drummer – The Honeycombs’ one woman popstomp explosion. For a week or more I’ve been immersed in the four Honeycombs songs on Castle/Sanctuary’s staggering new Joe Meek anthology The Alchemist Of Pop . Not only does Alchemist replace the fairly difficult to get hold of ‘It’s Hard to Believe and the various volumes of The Joe Meek Story as the definitive Meek comp, but it’s also absolutely compulsory listening for any pop fan. Hang on – I don’t want to talk about The Alchemist of Pop here – read Marcello Carlin’s Church of Me article for a brilliant overview of the whole thing – I just want to talk about The Honeycombs. About Honey.

Let’s take them one at a time. First – ‘Have I the Right’ – the BIG one. Where to start? A debut Number One in August 1964 – two minutes and fifty six seconds of hormones-out-of-control pop mayhem. As with all great records, the intro sets everything up perfectly – an urgent, slightly marching-on the spot, backbeat with tambourine topping and Meek’s trademark compressed beyond belief guitar and ice rink organ. Dennis D’ell’s weird growling and gargling delivery is one of the great pop vocals, cranking himself up to a frustrated howl on the chorus (“‘I’ve got some love and I long to share it!”) over Honey’s brutal thump. The slightly off-mike ‘Alright’ after the second chorus sounds as if D’ell has fallen to the floor unable to continue, leaving it to the guitar to carry the tune while he recovers. Here, Honey punctuates with skipping end -of phrase off beats – I told you she was good. The empty-cinema ambience of the production is amazing, Meek ensuring that you have to lean in and listen hard. But still you always feel that something in the mix is still out of reach, as yet unheard.

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THE FT TOP 100 SONGS 97. The Beat – “Save It For Later”

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THE FT TOP 100 SONGS
97. The Beat – “Save It For Later”

So, do lyrics matter? Well, what we have here suggests not – a charming parade of colloquialisms adding up to… what, exactly? What’s “Save It To Later” about? No, don’t tell me. I can feel the answer, just like you can. That mood, that itchy, frustrated, aching, still so so hopeful mood that doesn’t have a name of its own – so let’s call it the “Save It For Later” mood. The mood that you get when you triangulate “sometimes I don’t try I just nah nah nah nah nah nah know” and the heartbreak strings and the supportive sax.

And the lyrics? What are they doing here? Why do I instinctively think “yeah, good lyrics” when they don’t seem to go anywhere, when the record is so plainly driven by its hooks? It’s because I like those colloquialisms, and I think they are doing something useful – the conversational style (“You’ll hit the deck”, “Must be a sucker for it”, “what can you do?” and the snapped “you lot” on which the whole song pivots) establishes the singer as someone ordinary, someone you can identify with in the face of that mood, the one he can’t verbalise and you can’t either. The words give “Save It For Later” a center that you can step into, and their lack of specifics makes the song very adaptable once you’re in it, and that I guess is why it made the list.

Rockumentaries = Spnl Tp.

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Rockumentaries = Spnl Tp.
Proof: End Of The Century: The Ramones Story which ticks off in band arguments, amusing tales of childhood, acrimonious splits over women. It is of course not as funny as Rob Reiner’s movie because-
Actually one bit is as funny. I never knew about Dee Dee Ramones brief late 80’s run a round as a New York MC.

I believe this is pop music’s equivalent of the board having a vote of confidence in the current management.

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I believe this is pop music’s equivalent of the board having a vote of confidence in the current management.

so
a) bye-bye Busted!
b) Do not buy any Fightstar records to tell Charlie the error of his predicted ways.

SCREAM IF YOU WANNA THWART THE MENACE OF IMPULSATIA

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SCREAM IF YOU WANNA THWART THE MENACE OF IMPULSATIA

“To thwart the menace of impulsatia, they probed the endless voids of hyperspace”

Day 3: Belfast AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

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Day 3: Belfast
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

I had allowed Crispian to talk me into this passage to Belfast, as he was certain we would be able to get a ship to America from there. Unfortunately it turned that this information had been gleaned from watching Far And Away starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and since the potato famine was over some time ago there was not so much of an exodus. I gave him another reason to hate films, and set off to settle my stomach in the town.

The town seemed short of Tanquaray, but I can put up with Gordon’s if I do not have to drink in double figures. And Crispian found me to say that he had found two places on a container ship bound for New York. Apparently it would lack some of the home comforts I am used to, but on the bright side one of the containers was full of lime which makes a nice twist.

Belfast was far to nice a city to have inspired so many lousy songs. And the people were ever so friendly. This was just a couple of days before Christmas and people were happily buying us drinks in the local pubs. The bonhomie completely won me over, as on the way back to the docks that evening we stopped to help a few locals unload some pallets off a truck round the back of a bank. The chaps were so grateful they gave us a lift.

And so to our home for the next nine days, The Jonah. I must admit the name almost put be off, and then I remembered that Jona Lewie did not have the H in his name, so felt a lot better.



Katie Melua: Belfast

Songs about Belfast are always about sectarianism. Always, always always about The Troubles. What about MY troubles, the constant musical annoyance? Anyway, Young Fogey Melua has written a song called Belfast, and guess what. She says it is not about the Troubles.

At first sight it appears not to be about anything at all. I suppose Katie feels that she can call a song Belfast just because she has lived there, and not make a Bonoesque statement. Unfortunately my in depth lyrical analysis will soon identify the hidden meaning behind the banal words:

Evidence 1:
Getting off the plane the cold air rushes like bullets through my brain
Bullets!!! You cannot write a song about Belfast without mentioning guns and bullets. As seen in terrorism (and Zombie by The Cranberries – which is another form of terrorism.)

Evidence 2:
And I’m divided between Penguins and Cats
Cats being of course Catholics, and Penguins begins with the letter P like Protestants. I am not saying Melua is subtle or clever or anything.

Evidence 3:
The paintings on the walls of release, Are colourful but they are no Matisse
Obviously sectarian murals, at least the ones on the Falls Road which were not painted by Matisse (though there are probably a couple by Gaugin, who was a Republican).

Actually if Belfast was played at high volume to everyone involved in this conflict, it may be the final solution. Everyone listening would fall asleep at its trying hard to be winsome balladry, allowing the UN with specially designed ear protectors to finally disarm everyone.

GREAT (even more) BENJY’S NEWS FOR ALL OUR READERS

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GREAT (even more) BENJY’S NEWS FOR ALL OUR READERS

Pete’s stalwart Benjy’s reporting back has missed out the Benjy’s “Smart Card”. A smart card, you say? How about a catchy logo so we can really catch the benjy’s drift? OK! What about… “It’s A Really Smart Card”! Yes, that’ll do! The theory appears to be that we all hate digging about for CASH in sandwich shops, yet Benjy’s are too cretinous to take cards, so instead they will have their own proprietary card system to even further confuse the mass of plastic that lurks in the average persons wallet.

Extra incentives include: you will receive unique benefits just for using your Smart Card such as entry to prize draws, sneak previews of the newest Benjys’ products and special meal deals.

For all this scorn I am heaping on the smart card, I must admit that I am rather fond of Benjy’s, and am currently typing with a bit of difficulty after eating one of their very filling jacket potatoes with cheese and beans for a very reasonable price. I also like the way their van franchise is called “Vanchise”. Thanks Benjy’s!

Thenjy’s.

Things you never hear on the radio any more

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Things you never hear on the radio any more

1. People Announcing Who The Song Is By

This started as a sarky comments box dig at 6music, who may well be playing rub new band The Bravery day and night but frankly I wouldn’t know, because it’s so rare for anything new on their playlist to get actually named as such by the DJ. And when they do bother to tell you they mumble it. XFM are bad on this too, and I grumpily assumed that this is an ‘indie thing’ but when I thought about it some more I realised that Radio 1 were if anything even worse. It’s as if the transmittion of basic information is some kind of naff hangover from the old school Smashie and Nicey days and now Simply Not Done unless people email in and ask. Some credence is lent to that theory by the fact that the most informative pop station is cheesy old Capital.

Hand in hand with this is the rise of commercial digital stations which simply dispense with DJs entirely. Smash Hits radio can probably assume that anyone listening knows its entire playlist, but Kiss FM can’t. Maybe not telling you what’s been playing is some kind of cunning scheme to thwart the downloaders. I grabbed recent hot dance smash Uniting Nations off the inter only to find that I’d heard it fifty times in the last week.

(The exception to this is Andrew Collins, who is a DJ of the Peelite old school and very diligent about letting you know what’s playing. Good for him – but since everything Collins, A. plays comes from when Collins, A. worked for the NME, i.e. when I read it, I know it all anyway.)

REMEMBER REMEMBER THE JUDGE OF, er, January

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REMEMBER REMEMBER THE JUDGE OF, er, January (sorry, that didn’t work). Anyway! I do hope that readers do not forget that the new series of JUDGE JOHN DEED is on tonight at 8pm! Ah, lovely stuff, an ex-Professional becomes a Judge with a serious bedroom manner if you knoworrimean complete with cast of eccentric freaks who should by rights be more at home in Six Feet Under.

Pray do not let me down, Auntie Beeb.