Posts from June 2008

Jun 08

Europop 2008: Quarter Final 4 – Greece v Italy

FT12 comments • 418 views

Greece and Italy battle for the last semi-final place. Listen to the tracks, vote in the poll, click below the cut for analysis, comment and previews.

How to vote: Just pick the track you like best! Please don’t download the tracks unless you intend to vote. This poll will close at lunchtime on Tuesday 17th.

Greece v Italy: Which track do you prefer?

  • Italy: Caparezza 60%
  • Greece: Helena Paparizou 40%

Total Voters: 25

Poll closes: 17 Jun 2008 @ 12:46

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Jun 08

The Freaky Trigger Top 100 Tracks Of All Time No. 44. The Selecter – On My Radio

FT/18 comments • 2,383 views

On My Radio disc The edition of Top of the Pops on the 8th November 1979 featured The Specials (A Message To You, Rudy), Madness (One Step Beyond), and The Selecter (On My Radio). UK pop buyers officially loved the “2 Tone” label. The distinctive checkered-strip logo was an instantly recognisable label of your pop allegiance — a simple design that was easy to pick out in tippex(r) on an army-surplus school-bag, or in the blocky graphics of home computers at the time (shift-S shift-S shift-S…). I was too young to care (or know) about labels, but I knew the music, and I knew there were special moves at the school disco.

The success of 2 Tone was rapid — their first release, by founding band The Specials, had only been in the summer gone of 79 when the band ‘The Selecter’ didn’t yet exist. They were the label’s first manufactured band, put together from Coventry’s ska scene and given the name of that first release’s (ambiguously attributed) instrumental B-side.


Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: War Comics

The Brown Wedge6 comments • 1,201 views

War is not among my favourite genres, but it has been the subject matter for some great comics over the years. It’s also been the genre for probably the most successful British comics over the years, the apparently endless Commando series, which have had some good stories here and there (the world-great Hugo Pratt drew at least one of these), but I’ve never really been interested in them.


EC was best known for the horror titles which led to the big crackdown on comics in the mid-50s, and for starting Mad magazine, but the originator of the latter, the wonderful Harvey Kurtzman, was also behind a couple of great war comics, Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Kurtzman wrote and laid out just about everything, for an exceptional crew of artists to finish. This includes one of my favourite short stories ever, artistically, in which the great Alex Toth (my favourite comic artist ever) shows the difficulty of jet pilots in even knowing which way up they are while flying through clouds – the g-force of the engines overcomes the feeling of gravity. There are a fair number of dull, worthy stories here, especially ones based on real history, but everything is excuted with immense skill, and there are lots of winners too.


Len Deighton’s “Action Cookbook”

FT12 comments • 1,144 views

The cover shows Deighton stirring a pot of spaghetti while a woman runs her hands suggestively through his hair. He’s got a gun hanging loosely by his side and is looking out at the reader with the kind of knowing glance that’s usually accompanied by a wink.

As the preface says: “[S]erious food enthusiasts seized upon [his recipes] without being sure that this was the same man who spoke over the Soviet radio, talked with Hollywood lawyers and wrote the sort of spy thrillers that had to be submitted to the War Office before publication. It is.”.

Nigella could never make cooking look this shexay….

Jun 08

Europop 2008: Quarter Final 3 – France v Russia

FT23 comments • 471 views

France take on Russia for the third semi-final place: listen to the tracks, vote in the poll.

How to vote: Just tick the track you like the most. Because I’m going on a mini-break at the end of the week this poll will be up until Monday 16th. If you download the tracks, please take the time to vote!

France v Russia: Which of these tracks do you prefer?

  • France: Najoua Belyzel 82%
  • Russia: Alsou 18%

Total Voters: 22

Poll closes: 16 Jun 2008 @ 11:36

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Jun 08

KENNY ROGERS – “Lucille”

FT + Popular72 comments • 3,908 views

#406, 18th June 1977

For a long time all I knew of “Lucille” was the mournful swing of its chorus, and it struck me as quintessential country – catchy, corny, sentimental. Listened to in full, though, it’s a stranger creature, an uncomfortably unresolved study in being a minor character, the intruder in someone else’s drama. Rogers is a barfly with his sights on a pick-up who ends up hearing both Lucille’s side of her story and a snatch of her ex’s, and is left confused and (literally and metaphorically!) impotent.


The rise of the emo game? “99 no Namida” brings the tears

FTPost a comment • 570 views

As someone with a sickening obsession for all things Jin Akanishi J-boyband/tat related, I often find myself spending disgusting amounts of money on Japanese teen fash/music mags. Quite a few of these run large advertisements for new Nintendo DS games, generally featuring Cinnamoroll, seals baking cakes etc etc – which is a nice change to the mags here which only EVER advertise sodding Brain Age…. but a random one jumped out at me the other day and gave me a double take! 99 no Namida (99 Tears). I thought for one MAD moment that it might have been some sort of related DS game to the bawl-yr-eyes-out-sobfest drama that is 1 Litre of Tears – a drama based on a girl with a degenerative and incurable spinal disease, which renders her incapable of movement by the end, but doesn’t affect her mind at all, nrgghh gawd… and awfully? That’s not so far from the truth!

99 no Namida essentially does what it says on the tin. It’s an emotional development game (one might say… an EMO game?!) which creates a ‘personality profile’ based on your answering a few questions on the starting input screen, and then uses this profile to generate a story which should… make you cry! The point being that it is healthy to unleash your emotions and release stress, whether that is through a solitary tear rolling down the cheek or an all out bawl.

Whether this is true or not, I certainly can’t imagine playing this one on the tube. And how does it measure if you’ve cried or not? And if it doesn’t try and measure, then why not just read a weepy book? Or download aforementioned “1 Litre of Tears” into yr iPod? (Or in fact, read the actual true-life diary the story came from?). Can the crying game… really be a game at all? So – I seriously have zero clue on whether this will make it out of Japan. Can any of our Japanese correspondents confirm or deny swathes of salarymen sniffling as inconspiciously as possible into their briefcases on the tube each morning? Or… given the genre of the mag I saw the original ad in, swathes of schoolgirls gathered round in the playground, at the heart-rending stories of … ???

Well – I suppose emotional development is as important as mental development, given the popularity of Prof. Kawashima’s Brain Training — which has JUST dropped out of the UK charts! For the first time since release! Is this a sign that we’re ready to develop other parts of our mind, as well as arithmetic and logic? Hardly very Vulcan, is it…

Jun 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Osamu Tezuka

The Brown Wedge6 comments • 706 views

Not exactly a style or genre, but this is one guy who is huge enough to need his own entry. In Japan he was called “the god of comics”, and his output and impact is unrivalled anywhere in the world. He produced over 150,000 pages in his life. There are lots of volumes translated into English by now (though only around a tenth of his total). He was a magnificent cartoonist, and his stories are profoundly humanist, even when he was writing about robots.

He’s best known internationally for Astro Boy, which he made into Japan’s first animated TV series (so he’s a giant figure in anime history too). This is aimed at a younger audience, but the inventiveness of the tales, their beautiful execution, and the strong exploration of ideas of what there is of worth in ideas of humanity makes them very enjoyable for adults too.


Jun 08

THE SEX PISTOLS – “God Save The Queen”

FT + Popular211 comments • 11,811 views

#405.5, 7th June 1977

Did it get to number one? I don’t know. Would it have made any difference either way? It might have accelerated the opprobrium, naturally there would have been questions in the house, a headline or twenty… but in this case a close call was enough. Malcolm McLaren was in a win-win situation, of course: “God Save The Queen” is easily as powerful as a martyr single as it would have been as a chart-topper. Witness the NME’s recent, risible attempt to get it to its “rightful” position – it landed at #42. All crimes are paid, indeed. The Pistols’ failure to hit the top is much more a badge of pride – “they” (whoever “they” were) were worried! – than an injustice to be righted.


ROD STEWART – “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”/”The First Cut Is The Deepest”

FT + Popular41 comments • 4,654 views

#405, 21st May 1977

Rod at bay: both cuts of this double-A side find Stewart on the defensive, licking wounds inflicted in failed relationships. The subdued, pretty, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” is much the more effective (even if its clumsy heart-heart rhyme grates), rambling effectively and reminding you that the lothario is at his most dangerous when cornered. It hardly sounds like a No.1, and would work better without the guitar solo or that odd tacked-on key change, but it’s grown on me and I could take another helping or three of that gentle acoustic picking.

“First Cut Is The Deepest” doesn’t work nearly so well. It relies on you buying Rod as a bruised ingénue on the rebound, which is tough going on impossible. The problem with Rod is always one of credibility – right from the start of his career he wrote himself into his songs so indelibly that I’m always prodding his tracks for believability in a way I’d never do for most of his peers. “First Cut” sounds weatherbeaten and cynical, rather than freshly hurt, and it doesn’t help that it’s such a middleweight plod of a song.