Posts from February 2011

23
Feb 11

RIP

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Nicholas Courtney, born in Egypt in 1929: spoke French and Arabic. My favourite regular Who character — and I doubt I’m alone in that.

21
Feb 11

guess my theory: nothing unpredictable here dept

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19
Feb 11

“build a better TARKUS

FT9 comments • 804 views

… and the world will beat a path to your door” — Ralph Waldo Emerson Lake and Palmer*

Tarkus Stage Prop for E.L.P.

Rare photo of official stage prop being repaired, April 1973. From ELP official band archive, via Flickr.
Photo credit: Richard Kneubuehler.

*I felt Pete’s pub joke had to be immortalised. Blame him if you disagree.

16
Feb 11

Popular ’90

Popular50 comments • 2,199 views

That was a lot more of a slog than I thought it would be! As ever, here is where you get to tick the records YOU would have handed 6 or more to. And hopefully by the end of the week we’ll get stuck into 1991, probably the most all-over-the-place year in Popular history.

Which of the Number Ones of 1990 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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(My highest mark this year was 10 for Sinead, my lowest 1 for Bombalurina)

CLIFF RICHARD – “Saviour’s Day”

Popular86 comments • 4,486 views

#655, 29th December 1990

There was a great deal of talk about entryism in the 1980s – it was said of many excellent bands, and Hue And Cry too, that pop hooks would be a Trojan Horse for subversive notions of situationism, socialism and continental philosophy to slip into the charts. But man, all those groups were amateurs next to Sir Cliff! Having established himself in 1988 as a man who could deliver some cosy Yuletide jumper pop, he turns round this year and unloads God on us, close range, both barrels.

14
Feb 11

VANILLA ICE – “Ice Ice Baby”

Popular179 comments • 8,090 views

#654, 1st December 1990

It seems to me that in America there’s been a teensy bit of media revisionism around “Ice Ice Baby”. Unlike most revisionism though, the idea isn’t that the track was a lost classic. No, the point is to suggest it was extreme in its badness, superhumanly awful, one of the worst records ever – it shows up on lists of same and at the culmination of one Vanilla Ice himself arrived and staged a burning of the master tape. “Ice Ice Baby” was so terrible it had to be put beyond use – wiped out like smallpox, to use a simile you can imagine the man himself rapping, in that jabby monotone of his.

7
Feb 11

THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS – “Unchained Melody”

Popular107 comments • 12,623 views

#653, 3rd November 1990

The charts have always moonlighted as a marketing department for Hollywood but sometimes in the early 90s it seemed that was their primary role. A shrinking pop audience was no match for the commercial wallop of blockbuster cinema, so soundtrack hits could boss the Top 40 for weeks or months on end. Most, obviously, were a great deal worse than this but in 1990 “Unchained Melody” seemed very much part of the problem. Add the song’s unfortunate post-Ghost tendency to hit big no matter which muppet got their hands on it, and you’ll understand why it took me a long time to warm to this. Even now it feels like a fragile truce: all it would take is one flick of Cowell’s little finger and I’d be back cursing it again.

6
Feb 11

very belated xmas mashup: oh, whistle! and i’ll come to you MR BRIGGS

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4
Feb 11

THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH – “A Little Time”

Popular83 comments • 5,017 views

#652, 27th October 1990

“A Little Time” gives us the duet as short story. Dave Hemingway offers some sensitive-dude patter, Briana Corrigan busts it up and shows what’s really been going on. He’s smooth, she’s sharp; she’s sympathetic, he’s not; he’s dumped, she’s happy. It’s a nice idea for a song, but as realised here it’s all too easy, like a badly staged wrestling match where you can’t even cheer as the heel gets his since he was never much of a threat. All the life in the record comes from Corrigan, striding brassily into a self-involved song and giving it a kick-up the arse – even though her verses fizzle into tweeness every time. But Hemingway is a relative cypher. Her confidence rings true, his smarminess seems only there to prove a point.

1
Feb 11

MARIA McKEE – “Show Me Heaven”

Popular48 comments • 3,561 views

#651, 25th September 1990

Take my breath away, leave me breathless: the general “Top Gun, only not as good” vibe of Days Of Thunder extended to this single. As stately, as vague, more soporific somehow. One new ingredient is religion – “such amazing grace”, “feels divine” – and yes, this is a post-Madonna power ballad, but in this more conservative form the dance of identity between worshipper and worshipped quite vanishes. It has a slothful, vanillla, lie-back-and-think-of-the-Midwest kind of passion – sex as blockbuster movie, where your role is simply to wait for the ‘wow’ moment the heroic lead will surely provide.