Posts from 3rd December 2003

Dec 03

LONNIE DONEGAN – “Putting On The Style”/”Gamblin Man”

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#61, 28th June 1957

A double A-Side. “Style” is less obviously radical than “Cumberland Gap”; “Gamblin Man” if anything more so. Recorded in front of a whooping audience, “Gamblin’ Man” is sheer frenzy, a primitive hoedown which speeds up and up and up while Lonnie’s voice accelerates into a howl. Then comes the instrumental break and things get even wilder.

When I was 8 or 9 a friend and I formed a ‘band’ called The Guntzheads. The idea was that we would turn the tape on, repeat a phrase or two slow, then bash or strum whatever came to hand and howl it again and again until we got bored. With its biscuit tin drums, lightning guitars and urgent hollers, “Gamblin Man”‘s last minute sounds like that. Except tighter, of course – these are touring pros, jazz band veterans. But that’s what makes it so good – the audible, extreme fun these guys are having just letting go and pushing the song until it blurs.

“Puttin On The Style” isn’t remotely as exciting but that doesn’t make it bad (or even worse). It’s a cute variety show song rocked up a bit, Donegan’s performance an awkward but captivating mix of music hall trickery – comic voices, the whole funny-old-world perspective – and live-wire rockisms. As with “Cumberland Gap”, it’s the spit-and-sellotape arrangement that makes it so immediate, plus Donegan’s clear conviction that laughing and rocking were not exclusive. 8

I need to know’ Is she my grandchild?

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I need to know’ Is she my grandchild? Don’t get rid of our baby’ I’m no cheat. And my personal favourite, Wife ‘ Stop Disappearing. All recent subtitles on Trisha, which is followed on ITV2 by the far superior Trisha Extra.

In spite of its title, Trisha Extra contains less Trisha than normal Trisha, if you follow. So instead of Trisha Goddard offering advice and forcing her guests to get counselling (yes forcing; today she refused to hand over the DNA results until the young couple signed up) you get Karl Newton.

Karl, with his EasyJet orange shirt and gelled up hair, looks like a sort of Guantanamo Bay Tintin. His main job is to interview guests before and after the show and the lack of guile with which he does this is charming. A typical Newton interview will begin with him asking, ‘So, your children have disowned you, you’re not allowed to see your grandkids and you’ve only got six weeks to live. Do you see a way forward from here?’ The interviewee then collapses in tears and Karl stands there looking vaguely bewildered, like a kid who’s just knocked down a stack of cans in Tesco. His follow up question is usually, ‘Er’ you all right?’

Great stuff. Anyway, if you find Trisha (or the fact that you’re watching it) depressing, Trisha Extra is a tonic.

Not much to add to what yer (other) man Farrell said

Do You SeePost a comment • 212 views

Not much to add to what yer (other) man Farrell said here about interMission. Except what is it with that typesetting. It is almost as if the word Mission ought to be important to the film. It isn’t.

A more pertinant question might be to ask about the seeming dearth of Dublin based actresses. The two female leads in this are both played by Scottish actresses, I wonder how their accents faired. Or is it true that since every Dublin based actress was in The Commitment’s they cannot get the work due to Alan Parker hate. WE MUST BE TOLD.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,037 views


The good old red, white and blue. What feelings does it provoke in you? Patriotic pride at the Rugby? Shame at the way it was co-opted in the seventies as a BNP symbol? Nostalgia for the plastic flag waving of 1977’s Silver Jubilee? In me it conjures up just one feeling. The slight discomfort of having once drunk a can of Tesco’s Value Lager. Trade dress resiliently Red, White and Blue.

The can resembles all of Tesco’s range, flagging down the loser who wants to pay less than the odds for poor quality goods. I often think though that more time an effort has been put into making these items substandard than if they just went for the simplest production technique. I think it must be pretty hard to brew a lager that is 2.9%. But the Value stuff is.

Imagine piss in a soda stream. Then imagine that without the distinctive bouquet, aroma and (for all I know) taste of piss. There you have it. A thin, yellow, fizzy liquid which tastes like brackish water. There must be a spring out there which produces naturally carbonated, stagnant water. And that spring goes directly into the Tesco’s Value Lager plant. The huge hit of 2.9% is more than enough to make you give it up as a bad job and drink meths instead.

The one time I drank Tesco’s Value Lager was around a nameless friends house who thought it would be funny. Despite paying only 30p for the 440ml can, there was nothing funny about buying it, or me drinking it. Our friendship has now moved on and he has found that he has had to be exiled out of London for some time, mainly on the (lack-of) strength of this lager. Foul stuff.

POP IDOL 12 — ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’

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Christmas songs are a good thing, no? Well, if you like Christmas they are. If you don’t then no doubt somewhere on the web there is an MP3 of Will Oldham playing ‘We Three Kings’ on a zither that you can adopt as your ‘favourite Christmas record’: why not go off and look for it, eh? OK, liking Trad Christmas has a few pre-requisites: getting on fine with your family, being wealthy enough to afford a present or two, enjoying getting unconscionably bloated on turkey and booze. If you can checklist those and you still can’t feel a little bit of joy when you hear a big Christmas hit then you might be reading the wrong weblog.

Of course there are hits and hits. Doing a Christmas song right seems to be very hard — so many pop stars have a crack at it out of a kind of duty (perhaps to their bank manager). The classic ‘forced’ Christmas tune is ‘Wonderful Christmastime’, all disco bells and gritted teeth. Records like that cling to a kind of half-life, turning up on every 2CD Christmas compo, perpetually skipped over to get to Slade.

‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ is also on every 2CD compo. Perhaps people actually like it. People are obviously thought to like it, because otherwise it wouldn’t have been picked as the Pop Idol single. The 12 finalists — some of whom will be having a miserable Christmas as they see their winning rivals’ faces in every newsagent — take a line or two each, Band Aid style. I can tell them apart by sight but not by sound, so the MP3 sounds as bitty as you might expect.

I do not like this song. I do not like how it starts out sanctimonious and then doesn’t even follow through, collapsing instead into a choir-drenched mush. I like it even less when the Pop Idol 12 sing it, though. Lines that were just sort of there when sung by sleepy John and Yoko suddenly jump out at you here: I feel for the poor girl whose one shot at chart action may well be belting out ‘the yellow and red ones’. And that war being over has shifted from being a fond campaigner’s dream to a blackest- comedy Bushism doesn’t help. There is one terrific moment on this single, though: at 2 mins 55 there is a breakdown before the final war is over chorus and the producer fills it with the sound of an exploding bomb! Not that it’s worth listening to the record for but if you live in the UK you’re not going to have much choice, are you?

B3TA’s worst record ever poll

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B3TA’s worst record ever poll
Makes for depressing reading really – if you like B3TA. I had no idea most B3TA readers were such fun-haters. A lot of hate for R&B a lot of casually worded violence for anything (eek) pop, and then just random actually quite good songs. “Roll away the stone” by Mott the Hoople!? “Where’s me jumper?” by Sultans of Ping FC – splutter (ahem). But pride of place for pure fun-hatred has to go to: “I know hating busted isnt exactly original, but i can’t stand the way they tout themselves as punk, and they clearly do not play their own instruments, they don’t even mime convincingly”

JOSS STONE – Fell in Love With A Boy

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JOSS STONE – Fell in Love With A Boy

Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit. Harsh? But fair.