Posts from June 2006

Jun 06

Day 77: Nice

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I was now heading north on my comfy, soundproofed train, and increasingly getting worried about my route. The blissful silence and sound free rocking movement (now that’s what I call rocking) had lulled me to sleep, and when I woke up I realised my initial plan to do like Fogg and hit the Suez canal was scuppered. I was way to north, in country in northern India to cut time by water travel. And ahead of me lay Pakistan, Afghanistan and lots of opportunities to play Rock The Kasbah and Killing An Arab.


It finally hit me that traveling without a manservant was going to lead me to more mistakes like this. I endeavoured to try and contact Crispian at the next available opportunity. I needed someone to be awake, to book tickets and to get me into mystery scrapes on the moon and the like.

Which just left me a choice to bed down for my last night. The disputed territory of Kashmir (lousy Led Zep song keeping me awake all night), or the relatively safer Sikh territory of the Punjab. And since I have already taken the piss out of the Zep on this trip, the Punjab it was.


Now I love Emerson, Lake and Palmer as much as the next man, as long as the next man hates ELP. Oh how I laugh at the idea of Tarkus, the half-armadillo half-tank creature turning on its creators and obliterating them out of existence. But what of a time-travelling Tarkus, one which could take out Greg Lake, Geoffrey Palmer and Keith Emerson before they even joined the band they creatively names after their own names. Still that is a genius piece of naming when you consider where out TimeTarkus might be picking Keith Emerson off, as a member of proto-prog-prats the Nice.

The Nice were not. Nice. They would have been better named The Nasty. Four people who had heard Jimi Hendrix and thought, we can do that, and what’s more we can do it with keyboards and WORSE. No wonder they never really had hits. They were so poor that their record label, Immediate, imploded rather than keep putting out their stinking records. Take their first stab at music greatness (they kept stabbing so hard the concept of musical greatness died quickly) The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack. It has a title reminiscent of a Phillip K.Dick novel, and sound reminiscent of a bunch of Dicks just plugging in instruments they don’t know how to use. Except Emerson. Unfortunately he knew how to use a keyboard. Doubly unfortunately he kept inventing new ways to use it.

In comparison to the man who put the E in ELP, the other three members were hopeless. Okay it takes some skill not to be a competent drummer, but Brian Davison tried. Lee Jackson is not unusual in being a singer who could not sing, but his response being layered whispers through an echo chamber barely counts as vocals. And David O’List is exactly like that kid who thinks the secret to Hendrix success was playing the guitar with his teeth, so does nothing else. (Of course the secret to Hendrix success in my opinion was dying. An earlier death would have been even more successful.)

Ars Longa Vita Brevis (as their second album was called)? Which in English I think mean, “Christ this bunch of arse is too long, shall we cut it down to two seconds and go off an be brickies?” John Peel loved ’em. Nuff said.

Jun 06

Courting Disaster

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Some of the reviews of 10th District Court (a film which doesn’t even really have an English title) have noted the storytelling majesty of a film which is completely set in a courtroom. Courtroom dramas have all the key points of decent drama after all. And up to a point, 10th District displays this. Petty criminals, drink drivers, harassers, tell their stories to the twinkling harridan of a judge. They are cross examined, and sent off to await verdict. And then we get a verdict (maybe ten minutes later). A microcosm of drama then.

Well yes and no. There are some lovely little vignettes here: the unapologetic drunk driver, the illegal immigrant they cannot get rid of. But there is sadness here too: the harassment case. And there is, sad to say, tedium. Twelve of these short tales are too many, they repeat – often for effect – though often the effect is to undermine the whole thing. Our judge is initially sympathetic, and then you wonder if she too is not prejudiced, a bit close minded and almost dictatorial in her own pronouncements. And the stories, in the end, are not that interesting. The film does show a slice of life, and one which is quite sad to behold: a class system in conflict maybe. But if a court-room is all the drama some reviewers need, then there are plenty of courts out there. I want meaty stories too.

Poptimism – Lesson Three

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Yellow Pearl – Ultravox w Phil Lynott

Supermassive Something – Muse v Britney

Behind Hazel Eyes – DeEjAy TwOcAn (

Can’t Go For That – PJ Pooterhoots

7 Heures Du Matin – Jaqueline Taieb

Downtown – Peaches

Get Up – Ciara

Me and You – Cassie

La Camisa Negra – Juanes

We Are The Pipettes – The Pipettes


Day 76: Monaco

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One Night In Bangkokm being patronised.
“Will you come with us?”
“Do I have any choice?”
“No Madam.”
And so I ended up in police custody in hideous Monaco.


When Monaco asked “What Do You Want From Me” way back in 1995, I expect they did not think they would get a five page missive from me telling them exactly what I wanted them to do. Clearly some of the pages were simply me writing “I WANT YOU TO SHUT UP” in blood of the various members of OMD. However there was a slightly more detailed argument that I will essay here.

“What I want from the band Monaco (apart from them to shut up which is a given).
1) I want you to be better than Revenge, a band whose name describe exactly what they were to anyone stupid enough to buy their records.
2) I want you not to sound like New Order. Completely. Like Barney Sumner had not fucked off taking Prozac to help him write lyrics (!!! Imagine how Prozac would help???)
3) I want you to perhaps not be underpinned by the same twangy bass sound that you, Mr Peter Hook, do in every record you make.
4) I want you, Mr Peter Hook, not to say fook in every interview with the NME.
5) I want you, Mr Other Bloke In Monaco, to stop deluding yourself that this is not just a worthless side project put together by Hooky because Barney couldn’t get out of bed, or was off playing with Johnny Marr
6) I also want you, Mr Other Bloke In Monaco, to perhaps think about Ian Curtis and what he did and if there are any lessons to be learned for your life
7) Did I mention SHUT UP?”

Jun 06

Day 75: Rome

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Ancient civilizations have always appealed to me. Not just the orgies and debauchery – though they appeal enough to counter the fact that Gin will not have been invented for some considerable time. No, whilst ancient pottery and tales are full of harps, lyres and another musical instruments to torment me, they were not amplified. You could stand in a field in, say, Glastonbury and by virtue of being twenty five yards away NO HEAR ANY MUSIC AT ALL. And Caconfonix in Asterix looked really easy to beat up.

Modern day Greece is not like that. So I decided to make my next step across Europe on a short flight to that other seat of ancient power. Rome. And this was bearing in mind those Cornetto ad’s, a stereotype I thought only restricted to Venice. I was wrong. Almost the moment I stepped off of the plane La Dolce Vita stylee, some inbred loser with a bunch of roses serenaded me in the airport. O Sole E Mio? Arsehole E Mio more like. I soon put him straight.

Rome was very similar to Greece, with its taxis pumping out shed loads of poor music. But I took to the food, the wine and the fact that if – say – Starsailor had been walking down the street it would be really easy to kill them by pushing them under a car.

ROME – The B-52’s

Roam – Rome. It all sounds the same when a chipmunked voice, ultra-perky fifty five year old shouts it out of a transistor radio at you. As a younger woman I had a number of fantasies about the B-52’s. In particular replacing the proto-beehives of Cathy Wilson and Kate Pierson with real actual beehives containing real actual bees that would really, actually sting them to death.

Of course in many ways this single should be called Rome, as their brief existence as the hilariously monikered BC-52’s puts them into the right time period. And what joy it would be to find that they were actually not only from a different time period, but fictional too. Unfortunately some of us had to live through the horror that was Love Shack and its follow up: Roam.

The main lyrics of Roam: namely “Roam if you want to, roam around the world” clearly strikes a chord with me, that being exactly what I am doing. But without the key, “slagging off music in the process” line, we it is hard to sympathise with them. And especially as they tended to Roam to parts of the world where, coincidentally, they were also booked to play gigs. No roaming around Talliban Afghanistan I note where they would have broken more laws that even existed (there is a double jeopardy rule attached to being a band named after a drink named after a haircut named after a flying superfortress). There is little to add here from my previous attack on them except to note that Fred Schneider is such a twat, I am surprised he did not form They Might Be Giants. And Roaming without wings and without wheels might as well as been called WALK.

Stop Of The Pops

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I feel very uncomfortable. VERY uncomfortable. I agree with Noel Edmonds. The BBC are making a massive mistake in axing Top Of The Pops. Perhaps I wouldn’t put it in such cold hard business terms as Edmonds, as just the loss of a brand. But having seen how easy that brand has been to adapt in, say, France – it really is a loss. But the BBC probably do not realise what the possible knock on effects will be.

Top Of The Pops, as a show, may not be packing them in like it used to. And much of that is due to the music television on demand. Nevertheless it was THE music chart show, and as such it lent far more legitimacy to the Official Radio One chart than just being on Radio One did. Radio One is a silly pop radio station, Top Of The Pops was on BBCTV, after the news, and as (shudder) Paul Gambacini says rightly, it was the News Of Pop. So its very existence lends a degree of legitimacy to pop music. Maybe pop music itself does not need this legitimacy, but the BBC does: if it wants to hold on Radio One and even Radio Two. By completely ditching pop to the commercial broadcasters, it is signing the death knell of Radio One. Again not necessarily a bad thing – but probably a bad thing for the BBC.

So yes, TOTP’s value is as a brand. But a brand that informs and influences much of what the BBC does. A brand that, unlike Grandstand, cannot continue without its own idiosyncrasies, its lousy presenters, its juxtaposition of music that surely nobody likes all of. Recently it has been over managed, tried to be cool, be about more than just the music and the shitty presenters. But in a mlti-channel environment everyone is hunting ratings, everyone is hunting recognition. As the BBC does not carry advertising, they need not be as ratings hungry. What they need to recognise is that there is value in owning a program that nobody watches, but everybody knows.

The BBC might as well axe its evening news for exactly the same reasons (the internet, rolling news channels). Keep Top Of The Pops on life support: it not only feeds future nostalgia shows but its existence justifies a large part of the BBC’s estate.

Jun 06

Not So Hard Anymore

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Most of the reviews of the terrific pedophilia two hander Hard Candy have made reference to the lingering castration scene. It is a wonderful scene, both playful and horrific, tastefully done tastelessness. However what most of the reviews have failed to mention is the role a very large BULLDOG CLIP plays in the proceedings.

My stationery drawer will never look the same again.

DAY 74: Greece

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Despite their historic animosity, it is quite easy to get to Greece from Turkey. So after filling up on Turkish Delight (not to be confused with Afternoon Delight, which is anything but an afternoon delight, more a somnalistic paean to the worst sex ever) I finally got on a ferry to Greece. Of course as a child I would often find myself at other children’s parties taking sides with Turkey. Not being able to spell beyond the letter G and T, I was unaware that the Greece I despised was actually spelt Grease – and came with an OST behind it.

And yet the memories of our youth linger on. And getting off of that ferry, all I could think of was Olivia Newton-John in those ridiculous painted on leather trousers, John Travolta using all the oil produced in Alaska in one year on his head – and that terrible, terrible film…


As noted above, the Grease in this films title refers not to anything automotive but the amount of it in John Travolta’s hair. Grease is a celebration of the birth of a rock’n’roll generation – which to me is a bit like holding an Hooray For The Nazi’s day. American Bandstand, greaser boys, pink ladies, and just terrible music: there is nothing right in this film.

Not that the music is right either. A Gibb brother sponsored literal white wash of the history of pop music, it seems to revel in its own insipidness. The production of all the songs is the aural equivalent of shooting through gauze, and the songs themselves are neutered to the extend that Hopelessly Devoted To You sounds like something Newton John is singing to her cat. Or something her cat is singing. And yet as a child you could not go to a party when the brainwashing sounds of the Grease Original (HAH!) Soundtrack was not pumping out, and five year old boys were not telling five year old girls that they were the ones that they wanted. This was not amusing, it was tantamount to overt sexualisation and child abuse. And yet it was seen to be okay because it was a happy musical. A musical about cars, about teenaged sex and about – lets be frank – thirty year olds* grooming teenagers for sex. (Okay, maybe the teenagers they were grooming were also played by thirty year olds – but it does not change the principle of the matter).

I have a special layer of hell where Greased Lightning is played over and over again. A pointless song about how fast a car is, and when you see that car it is clear that it would only be good for running Travolta over. But if this car is so fast, so good, then why is the first thing they point out about it is that it is an automatic. Is Travolta so rubbish at driving he can’t shift gears? It gets even worse. Further on the car is described as hydromatic. THAT MEANS IT RUNS ON WATER! Its not a proper car at all, instead some sort of tonka toy which runs on water pressure. Its clear the T in T-Birds stands for Toytown if not Twats.

Grease ruined the lives of a generation. Now it is time for that generation to stand up and return the favour. If you ever see anyone who owns a copy of this film, destroy it. It is for their own good. Destroy Grease 2 while you are at it. I believe Michele Pfeiffer will pay you to do it.

*Not including Stockard Channing who was well into her fifties when she played Rizzo.

Jun 06

Proven By Pseudoscience

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How Kyrptonite Works.

Featuring Red Kryptonite. Streaky the Super-Cat and other ropey ideas which really should have been forgotten a long time ago.

Day 73: Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

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You just can’t get a boat our of Israel it seems. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying all the chicken soup and the general hospitality, whilst clearly not necessarily approving of the socio-political situation. Decent oranges though, almost as nice as a Brazilian one. But I only had seven days to get back to London.

As much as I would have liked a trip to the Lebanon to put the boot in again with Phil Oakey I was clearly running out of time. Instead I had to get into Europe, not that as a band they were ostensibly any better than Asia, just slightly less prog and prone to wanky album covers. And so I caught a short plane trip to the place where East meets West. Not the East West record label (whose spewing out of Simply Red records hardly placates people on either continent, but Turkey. In particular Istanbul. A city which should have sued.

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)THEY MIGHT BE SODDING GIANTS

I have already explored the musical misery that is They Might Be Giants at length. Though some They Might Be Giants fans (!!!) have complained to me that this is a bit unfair because none of the songs I mentioned there were actual TMBG songs. So for the benefit of the clearly most masochist music fans in history, here are ten reasons why Istanbul (Not Constantinople) is one of the worst records ever made.

1: Parenthesis.
2: Tempo change
3: Whiney voices
4: Supposedly clever retelling of fact that everyone knows and thus not clever
5: Lurch does not rhyme with Turks
6: Not very funny off the shelf Turkey flute playing
7: The presence of They Might Be Giants on the record
8: New York changed from New Amsterdam because of a change in colonial jurisdiction NOT because “People just liked it better that way”. Some people, the British, did. Lots of others (the Dutch) didn’t.
9: They didn’t even write it. They actively hunted out a song that sounded like they had written it, thus making it annoying squared.
10: It was a minor hit. Which may not make the record any words per se, but clearly does because it means it is more likely to turn up on the radio, or in the background of a film or just to annoy everyone forever.

I could give you another 91 if you ant 101 reasons but I think they would mostly be summer up by: Its They Might Be Cunting Giants.