The Greek Alphabet Of Piss-Poor Pop

Nov 03

κ is for…KAPPA-DONNA

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When the members of the Wu-Tang Clan formed and moved into that big, Monkees style house, the first question on everyones lips was “Who’s going to clean the toilets?” The RZA’s hands were too sensitive and already used to dealing with shit, Ghostface Killah was too busy Killing and of course Raekwon The Chef was already down for cooking duties. The nine of them argued until there was a flood of excrement coming from the privy. There was only one solution. A new member of the Wu-Tang whose responsibilty would be crap.

And my how Cappadonna (originally Crappadonna) has taken to this task. Not only does he clean the lavatory but he makes all of the noxious substances into his own solo records. He is not adverse to lending a bit to the RZA or Method Man, for fear that the general Wu Tang quality may increase to mere mediocrity, but if you ever wondered what Cappadonna’s role in the Wu Tang was, now you know. His first album, The Pissage (later retitled The Pillage for censorship reasons though everyone got the message) underlined his commitment to all forms of effluent, not just crap.

Nov 03

λ is for…LAMBaDA

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A quick cut out and keep guide to the difference between the Lambada and the Macerena. The macarena is the one you can do in a wheelchair. The Lambada is the one that will put you in a wheelchair. Especially if I am around.

I hate worldwide dance crazes. I’d hate dance crazes that were restricted to a backstreet in Sidmouth, but the worldwide ones are hard to escape. As far as I remember the Lambada involved shaking your arse like you had a piece of crap stuck to it and then bending over backwards to examine said crap. It was a highly stylised way of getting over the crap meme. Apparently it was a southern American blend of the Wlatz, Tango and the Polka. Which of course would make it the Wanka.

Nov 03

μ is for… μ-ziq

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Causing problems for record store rackers everywhere, here comes Richard D. James’ mate Mike Parradinas. Since most people who work in record stores are thick, their knowledge of the Greek Alphabet is probably minimal. What knowledge they might have had is probably bled out by having to listen to, you know, music all day. So where do they rack the albums my Mr Parradinas. Why, in the bin. Which is coincidentally the best place to put them.

Mike shares with his Aphex Twin buddy a willful obsession with making music that even people who like music call unlistenable. So imagine quite how unlistenable that is to me. To be fair I have used the Royal Astronomy album in one of my public lectures to show people what all music sounds like to me. Idiotic ambient noodle boys at the back of the hall seemed to relish this. So I turned it up so loud that they were all deafened. People think they are ear muffs, but they are ear protectors – who has the last laugh? Even if they can’t hear it.

And Jake Slazenger is him too – you’ve been warned.

ν is for…Nu Shooz

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All I remember about ‘I Can’t Wait’ not being able to wait for the damn thing to end. Turgid rubbish that it was, with its naggingly incessant sample line. For some reason rock critics seem to thing naggingly incessant things are good things. Hello. NAGGING! Like the proverbial mother-in-law. INCESSANT! like the flow of blood from a recently severed arterial vein?

I am assuming the mispelling of New Shoes is intentional, like all terrible rock mispellings. The two members were married of course, which it was why it was odd that they couldn’t wait. Even in the most hicky of hicksville town you don’t have to wait. Its allowed to have sex straight away. Which is possibly what they did when it was pointed out to them, because they never had another hit. But then it was the sampler that was the talented one.

Nov 03

ξ is for…Lord Rockingham’s XI

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Ah Scotland. Home of the brave. And you would have to be brave to live near all those Scottish people. The Scot’s have a great history of musical crimes against humanity, starting with the bagpipe and continuing to this day through Travis. One of the interesting things about Scottish bands is their tendancy to sing in particulalry fake American accents, but I suppose this is to try and rub some of the shit that being Scottish automatically brings to the party. Because look at the bands that have sung in Scottish accents. Speccy twats The Proclaimers, and indeed Lord Rockingham’s XI.

I do not think that Lord Rockingham was a real lord. Though it would be the kind of useless diletanteism that Lord’s go in for, making novelty songs about how there is a large horned animal off the leash in your domicile. Funny you see because said in a Scottish accent this becomes :There’s A Moose Loose About This House. In Scotland apparently the word Moose rhymes with house. Much like bunch of twats means exactly the same as Lord Rockingham’s XI.

The thing about novelty records is that by definition they are only a novelty the first time. There should not be a second time. WHich proved to be the case career-wise for his lordship, though the song unfortunately has staying power wherever someone over seventy wants to get up and dance. And Scotland. And that’s another reason why its the land of the brave. After all, brave is another word for stupid.

ο is for..The Omicronos Quartet

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Pop stars are notoriously insecure types. They think often that what they are doing is not in any way worthwhile. And I don’t blame them. They’re right. But one of the ways a record company tries to bouy up their egos is by adding real, actual classical musicians to play on their record. Or if they are unlucky they get in the Chronos Quartet.

The CQ are a bunch of chancers, probably drop-outs from some conservatory, who play pop classical music. This means in reality rearrangements of very simple songs (say by musical half-wits like Elvis Costello) slowly and with what they imagine is gravitas. I remember when University Challenge had a decent theme tune, all clanging bells and what-not. Now it is some syrrupy cello heavy, frown-along-with-the-Chronos nonsense. Indeed it is telling that the Chronos Quarter rarely ever do any classical music at all, rather stuff by such great, complex composers like Phillip Glass and the bloke out of Pop Will Eat Itself wot does film soundtracks now. And how serious can you be when you are playing music written by the man who wrote Beaver Patrol.

Nov 03

π is for…American Pi

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Pi is the ratio between the radius of a circular object and its circumference. It is notable for being a irrational number, impossible to display exactly as a fraction and in decimal terms it goies on forever without notably repeating itself. The only difference between the mathematical pi and American Pi is that American Pi goes on forever but repeats itself constantly. You can tell the bits that repeat itself, they are the only bits anyone doing this song in karaoke know (except for maybe the bit about the Jester).

Pi, as a mathematical formula is also notable for being about the death of Euclid, which was known in Greek terms as “The Day The Numbers Died”. American Pi is about the death of Buddy Holly, also known as the day everyobdy rejoices, sung hosannas and then got a nasty look from me because SINGING IS NO WAY TO CELEBRATE.

ρ is for…Nick Rho-des

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Apparently this awful cove played something in Duran Duran. Keyboards probably. Or eyeshadow. He was the ‘arty one’; the band trying out a one dimensional personailty idea well before the Spice Girls got near the concept. So Rhodes was Arty Duran, Simon Le Bon was ‘Marrying Model’ Duran, John Taylor was ‘Marrying TV Presenter’ Duran, Roger Taylor was ‘Trying To Commit Suicide’ Duran and Andy Taylor was ‘Who He’ Duran.

Nick Rhodes got to be Arty Duran, this status justified by his amazing photographic genius, much hinted at in interviews. Proof of said genius came with INTERFERENCE, an art book published by Nick consisting of pictures of static on TV screens. You see being all arty meant he lacked the skill to tune in his television. Not the only thing he did not tune, if Plante Earth is anything to go by. Its really hard for a keyboard to go out of tune, but Nick, he was artful like that. And wore far too much make-up.

Nov 03


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Okay, its better than Sigma Ros or the insane suggeston of Losig Ma Religion. I could talk about the Italian heavy metal band Sigma, but frankly the most I could do to insult them is to point out that they wear leather trousers and since they do this on purpose they would just stare on uncomprehending my oh so witty barbs. At least Sigue Sigue Spuntnik speak English. They understand when I tell them that their concept, their music and their very selves were crap.

Love Missile F-11 was a record with so little wit behind it that it is shocking that it was supposed to usher in a new age. A new age, mark me, where people wore ridiculous Mohican haircuts and had adverts in-between the tracks on their records. Imagine being in the ad sales for the SSS album. Actually the ads are the only successful thing on that disc, unsurprisingly having heard the paltry quality of the actual tracks any punter stupid enough to buy it found the ads to be some kind of respite. Far from being the future of rock’n’roll, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were uncannily like the past, tawdry and crap with very little going on behind some designer clothes.

The ultimate insult was to happen after they split up. Pop Will Eat Itself covered one of their songs. It is impossible to say if it improved it or not, we’ll just call it symptomatic.

Nov 03

σ is also for…The Sigma Sound Studios

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What do you think of when I say the word Philadelphia. Is it the lush, orchestration of Philly soul classics, timeless songwriting buffed up by the exemplary studio work of the Sigma Sound Studios. Or a particularly bland cream cheese. Yep, it was the cheese wasn’t it?

The Sigma Sound Studios, opened in 1968, were responsible for the supposedly iconic sounds of Philadelphia Soul (remember, bland cream cheese soul). Almost instantly the studios formed an unique partnership with Philly songwriters like Leon Huff and Thom Bell (warning, use of the first name Thom). Unique of course because no other studio would work with such Middle Of The Road chancers. Artists of the calibre, and I use that word purely in the selecting the right bullet sense, of Teddy Pendergrass and the O’Jays passed through its doors, so much so that it resembled a holding cell for musical criminals. A factor finally proved when that arch criminal David Bowie recorded the Young Americans album there, the first recorded time that someone had actually killed someone with a saxophone.

Anti-vivsectionists bomb the labs of the scientists plying their trade – unfortunately taking out the animals sometimes in the process. I think it follows that I can spread my campaign against recording studios. If I take out Patti LaBelle on the way, well that would be a bonus.