I Hate Music

Apr 02


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Readers – solve my pop riddle and name the star!

This man, sinfully ugly though possessed (his friends later said) of a strange charm, rose to prominence in the 1960s with a succession of novelty hits, and quickly established himself as a fixture on the pop scene. During the 1970s and 1980s the hits kept coming – though less frequently – and he tried his hand at songwriting in almost every genre, the results usually shot through with his distinctive brand of smutty humour. Towards the end of his career, though, he was embroiled in an underage sex scandal.

Maybe you’re thinking of self-made martyr and laughable pop perv Jonathan King? If so, you’re wrong – I’m talking of course about Serge Gainsbourg, toad-faced Godfather of Gallic pop. I occasionally think of moving to France: the music is just as bad but the booze is cheaper and at least I wouldn’t be able to understand the lyrics. But then I think of Serge, and shudder at the knowledge that where Britain hounds and imprisons its novelty pop stars, France turns them into national icons.

Gainsbourg’s reputation as a genius rests on an endless succession of naughty pranks – getting some Eurovision poppet to sing a song about blowjobs; getting Brigitte Bardot to sing a song about shagging; getting Jane Birkin to sing a song about bum sex; getting a bunch of lounge-jazz musos to play songs about fucking a 15-year old; getting Sly and Robbie to do the national anthem in comedy dirty reggae style; getting his daughter to ‘sing’ a song about incest….oh, and writing a book about farting, and sexually harassing Whitney Houston. Rabelaisian? Hardly. Gainsbourg is the Benny Hill of pop.

Like Jonathan King and “Weird” Al Yankovic, Gainsbourg could turn his hand to any kind of music, just as long as you didn’t ask him to do it well. The clattery, clumsy rhythms of his sixties ‘rock and roll’ efforts were a pathetic, Pat Boone take on the music. “Je T’Aime” has the dishonour of sounding like twenty years of lame porno soundtracks – except, astonishingly, even less funky. The stinkiest hippie on the lowliest commune could have beaten Serge’s 70s acoustic numbers into the ground. Your phone is a better synthesizer than the ones on his 80s records.

And then he died. His influence is with us today, of course – France still turns up the odd snippet of paedo-pop in honour of the old bore (Latest example: “Moi….Lolita”) – though it’s worth remarking that the only French music to have become remotely fashionable since Serge turned his toes up is house, the only kind of music he didn’t get a chance to ruin. And Serge looms large in the memory of assorted neurotics desperate to convince themselves they’re having filthier sex than the general public. That public ignores such people and gets on with shagging like rabbits – and whatever soundtrack they choose, you can bet your life it’s not Serge Gainsbourg.

Apr 02


I Hate Music1 comment • 1,275 views


If you ask anyone it the music business about Napalm Death you will invariably get just the one response. “Lovely chaps” – they will say, almost as if they were the Kray Twins. You would expect them to then extoll upon the amount they love their mother. Instead you tend to get a slight rant along the lines that “you would never believe they were Vegans” and a cheery smile and wave. Not one mention of their music. My kind of conversation generally – the kind that does not mention music.

Indeed music, in its most classical tune, melody, lyrics, abject horror sense is pretty much not what you are going to get from ver Death. Well – unfortunately you still get the abject horror of people strapping on instruments, plugging them into amps and then; well then they’ll grunt like pigs for about thirty seconds. Thrash metal is a misunderstood genre, but I understand it perfectly. It sounds crap because it is crap. Its played by people who want to be hard, edgy and scary – but don’t even eat dairy cos it might hurt a wickle cows teat.

If you have ever looked at the lyric sheet on a Napalm Death album you would be surprised to find out the wide ranging political issues that are being touched upon. You would be even more surprised if you listened to one. It is quite possible to bring up the spectre of the global economic crisis caused by 90% of the worlds wealth being concentrated in 10% of the worlds population – but not if you pronounce every word “unnngh”. Napalm Death are just a bunch of softies pretending to be Metal. Without the leather trousers, cos leather (like Napalm and indeed Death) is murder.

Apr 02


I Hate Music2 comments • 753 views


If there is one band whose I Hate Music entry is self explanatory, self-reflexive and damnit just one word it is Northside. Northsides one word to describe them would be “Northside” a term of abuse so prevalent in the music world that it has been rushed into the next edition of Jonathon Green’s slang dictionary. Examples of use are as follows:
“The main band were great but the support act were a bit Northside.”
“Looks like Christina Aguelleira’s hair is a right Northside.”
“Looks like Osama Bin laden’s made a bit of a Northside of the Twin Towers.”

Indeed so synonymous with the words “fucking disaster” are Northside that in the mid-nineties the government considered locking them up in a ICBM silo as our main form of non-nuclear deterence. Frankly it barely seemed worth me doing them on I Hate Music at all. That is until I got this letter:

“Please make fun of Northside!! My husband is always going on and on about how Tony Wilson and Factory Records are gifts from the gods, etc. Makes me wanna wretch!!” We can forgive her mispelling retch, for she has been made such a wretch by her obviously unbalanced husband. If he truly believes that Tony Wilson and Factory Records were a gift from the gods then I suggest checking under the hearth rug for pentagrams – for he is obviously in the thrall of the Dark One himself – Satan. To then single out Northside as the finest thing from Factories godawful back-catalogue suggests we have a man who has listened to too many Stockholm Monsters tracks (and believe me – one is too many).

Anyone who has seen 24 Hour Party People – the modern day equivalent of making Mein Kampf The Movie in my book – will know that the Factory Records story is one of incompetance, drug addled nonsense and fucking terrible music. So bad that A Certain Ratio get a look in, but not so bad that Northside get a mention. Contemporaries of the Happy Mondays, Northside made Shaun Ryder look like a pop god. Their bandwagon jumping skills were in full effect when they saw the baggy explosion, but unfortunately they were rubbish and jumping on bandwagons as they appear to have knocked the band off somewhere. Not for them the subtleties of drugs references in songs – nope it was Sing LSD all the way to – well number 52 in the charts. Their only hit was Take Five, itself a reference to the number of mogadon tablets you would have to take to survive their music.

So I say to you Sharon Wheeler, ditch the man. There isn’t a court in the world which would not take the playing of Northside records as cruel and unusual punishment and give you custody of all of his worldly goods while slapping him in leg irons and shipping him off to the Indies. I would happily represent you in court – for the mere payment of his record collection. To destroy you understand – I love the smell of vynl in the morning.

Apr 02


I Hate Music2 comments • 1,150 views


I rejoice when a band splits up. To me its like Christmas and my birthday all on the same joyous moment. Especially when a band as rancidly unambitious as The Housemartins called it a day. Apart from approving of the member that went mad and tried to kill another member, and subsequently equally approving of his incarceration (anything that stops him from playing is a good thing) – I thought I would no longer be troubled by these Northern jangle-pop peddlers.

Imagine my horror when I heard Song For Whoever. It sounded exactly the same! Paul Heaton’s aren’t I clever lyrics wittily eviscerating the so called scam of having a girls name in your song so you can sell it to girls with that name. A scam which makes little sense because not every girl called Carol has a copy of Oh Carol, and the subsection of stupid girls who will go along with this is massively outnumbered by those with different names who will not buy it out of principle. Of course the song went to number one by dint of it also having loads more girls names in it. Surely it cannot be his smug self satisfied voice.

And no I am not just pissed of that Tanya isn’t mentioned in the song.

The Beautiful South, it soon became clear were the Housemartins without all the pesky other members that used to argue with Heaton. A man for whom ‘Who Ate All The Pies’ is never a tricky question to answer. The South also had a female member for all those time when Heaton wanted to write a song from a woman’s perspective. Indeed so in touch with his feminine side is Paul Heaton that their initial female vocalist left due to the sexist nature of his lyrics. Nice.

Old Red Eyes Is Back: a hard hitting song about alcoholism or a sappy piece written after I gave Heato two black eyes? Of course ‘You’ll sail this ship alone’, no other fucker would get on a ship with you. Unless it was called the Titanic and the iceberg had been booked. You get the idea. This MOR half-crafted half shat-out songs appeals to people who don’t like music*, and I suppose it’s a nice niche market to tap. But it doesn’t make you any good.

*Yes yes, I know I don’t like music too – I hate music. But hatred is much, much more active than merely disliking something. Do you think I’d go to all this trouble otherwise?

Apr 02


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No – not the godawful paean to that homosexual homeland (or homoland I suppose) San Fransisco by the Village People. Not even the ironic – yet not – yet still rubbish version by the Pet Shop Boys (who have some sort of obsession with the word West as West End Girls conclusively proves). No – I am talking about the pop band from the mid-eighties, contemporaries of Johnny Hates Jazz* and Curiosity Killed The Cat**. Like the Pet Shop Boys they were that most curious of pop artifacts – a proper band made up of just two members. Not for them the idea of adding makeweight ugly blokes, or even a drummer. With a bass and a guitar they could make every sound on their records. Bar the backing track.

We Close Our Eyes was their best known hit. I understand that once musicians are proficient they can indeed play their instruments with their eyes closed. However it is not such a good idea when you are barely proficient as it is. After all its easy to close your eyes – not so easy to close your ears. Of their other hits I actually have a soft spot for Call Me – as I have been wracking my brains trying to remember it and only get the hellish Blondie track or Burt Bacharach’s limp, lifeless record.

Indeed we were spared much more from them when DFS and the Parents For Nicely Behaved Children got an injunction out to stop their second album “Dancing On The Couch” being sold in Woolworths. These days they can be seen – shadows of their former relatively insubstantial selves, performing on eighties tours playing We Close Our Eyes over and over again. You might as well open them chaps – you’ll see nobody either way.

* I sympathise with the bands hatred, but their music was hardly an improvement was it now?
** I probably would have liked them more if they were called Curiosity Killed The Family Cat.

Apr 02


I Hate Music2 comments • 1,676 views

Ah – the east. The mysteries of old China, the lure of exotic spices, the charms of the orient. Or alternatively my old china, smelling of Old Spice and supporting the charming Leyton Orient – why if it isn’t those charming young chaps East 17. Sorry, you’re right. It isn’t those charming young chaps East 17 because there is certainly nothing charming about the borstal rejects that made up this postcode named band.

Many bands have a clearly demarked set of ranking between individual roles of the members. In the Beatles this split nicely between instruments, whereas in Queen even the songwriting was equally well spread (imagine finding four songwriters that poor). In East 17 the roles were likewise split: Tony Mortimer wrote the songs and sang most of them, Brian Harvey sung the rest and was in charge of moronic comments, whilst the other two were in charge of dancing and looking very, very ugly. There was a time in this country when East 17 were the second biggest pin-up band in the country, which is remarkable when you looked at how genuinely unattractive they were. I suppose there is a possibility that some people liked Tony Mortimer’s rough boy looks, or Brian Harvey’s puppy fat face. But the other two, who had no role at all in the band, surely they were only allowed in so they could earn enough to get reconstructive surgery. To look like proper orang-utans.

Even if Tony Mortimer was not as ugly as his band mates his ugly tunes more than made up for it. Their breakthrough hit House Of Love is only notable for being a bigger hit than House Of Love by the House Of Love. On top of the pops their gimmick was that Mortimer played his keyboard on an ironing board. Ironic now since he runs a laundry out in East Ham. The band had an amusing logo of a dog – possibly related to the dog track in their native Walthamstow. There are further canine connections of course, if you bought their first album you would certainly feel like you had been sold a pup. This album also contained Deep – a deeply funny song about sex quite clearly made by people who had never had sex. It was all about getting down deep and mucky – but the song merely promoted a deep sense of nausea.

Later songs which played with being risquĂ© included Steam – a song which had all the sexual suggestiveness of inhaling a bowl of Friars Balsam. ‘Outside its raining but inside its wet’ the lyrics went. I suggest you shut your window then.

East 17 were truly despicable – and the band name was probably used just so they could be given directions home the morning after. The only number one ver 17 ever had was the sickly sweet ‘Stay Another Day’ – a cynical little number Mortimer penned about his brother who topped himself. Was he sharing a room while Mortimer was songwriting? Unfortunately soon after the band decided not to stay another day – about a day after Harvey admitted to regularly necking eight or ten ecstacy tablets a night. This bravado not only showed how stupid Harvey was – but also that he plainly had never taken a drug in his life. Unlike his girlfriend Daniella Westbrook who took a lot of cocaine, and from recent tabloid photos was also taken by Harvey – up the nose.

Apr 02


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 600 views


There is nothing I like better than getting away from it all into the countryside, tramping with map and compass by my side – escaping the bustle and cacophony of city life. Actually there is one thing I like better and that’s a double gin and tonic with a twist of lime and plenty of ice – but sometimes even the desire for God’s own drink wanes. Especially when pubs insist on jukeboxes and piped music. So every now and then I like to get out of the city and into the sunshine.

At least I did until Belle and cunting Sebastian suggested it in Legal Man. (A song which many Belle and Sebastian fans say mark the point of their decline – not realising that the moment Belle and Sebastian fans existed the twee rot had well and truly set in). Instead now I grit my teeth and head out for brown field sites where I can do my orienteering. Certainly if the world all went to nought tomorrow at least I feel confident in my abilities to scout around the place – escaping those pockets of civilization where folk music has taken root again and people worship at the altar of Billy Bragg as some kind of god. (The only time I use the words “Billy Bragg” and “God” in the same sentence is saying “Doesn’t Billy Bragg make godawful records. I’m sure that’s why Kirsty Macoll had that altercation with that speedboat just to avoid being on England, Half English”).

At least I did, until some perky young chap I met whilst guiding myself around the Gasometers of Deptford accosted me with his own petty mnemonics. For some reason the initials NSEW were not sufficient enough for him to remember the directions the little pointer applied to. No this thoroughly deficient chap had to remind himself of the direction by reference to music. To bands in particular. Which is when I was reminded that yes – actually – there are a significant number of bands and songs which do indeed contain said compass directions. Orienteering thus spoilt for me I dashed my compass on the side of the young mans face and retired in a stupor to the nearest gin joint to exorcise the horrors of the geographical based songs and bands. What you will see over the next few days are the fruits of this gin-soaked labour: what I can only call the Compass Of Crime.

Apr 02

IHM LYRIC WATCH: XTC: Mayor Of Simpleton

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XTC: Mayor Of Simpleton
“Never been near a University”

So was it some sort of XTC tribute band (Ex-TC maybe) that played the following gigs:

April 21 1979 – University College, Dublin
April 22 1979 – Queen’s University, Belfast
May 1 1979 – Reading University
May 2 1979 – Loughborough University
May 5 1979 – Bradford University
May 12 1979 – London School of Economics (Part of the University of London)

And that is just one tour. Do not believe a word they say kids. Other great XTC lies include that fact that they never actually enlisted in the army as promised in Sergeant Rock, they never made a plan for Nigel and that they have five senses – let alone working overtime. Even if they are not deficient in hearing – which a cursory listen to any of their records would suggest they are – they certainly lack taste.