Posts from 22nd September 2004

Sep 04

Popular ’61

Popular25 comments • 2,336 views

There’s a few big Popular entries coming up so I’m giving myself a spare day’s breathing space, which means it’s time for a year poll. To be moved to its proper place in a week or so.

I give every record on Popular a mark out of 10 – this is your chance to say which of the number ones of 1961 you’d have given 6 or more to. This year got three 9s from me – “Johnny Remember Me”, “Blue Moon” and “Moon River”. At the other end “Wooden Heart” and “I Reach For The Stars” got lumped with a 2. As ever, discuss the year in general in the comments…

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 1961 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,133 views


There’s a long thread on ILE at the moment about the demerits of iconic faces on T-Shirts, to wit Nico who is apparently on some new New Look gear with the ahistorical slogan “Chelsea Underground 1973”. It made me think of this record, which takes a Mad Cobra sample (the first three or four lines of “Press Trigger”), strings it over a ramalama pop backing and comes up with a sharp, giddy wannabe-hit. Cobra gets a credit of course but really his sonic snapshot is being used to provide a hit of instant cool. So that’s sampling, what’s new? Well, it’s rare to find something so recent being lifted, for one thing, and for another it works. “Cobrastyle” is the distilled swagger of a hundred dancehall sevens, stripped of cultural context and content, imported into Europop more as a catwalk move than a street one. It’s so brazen, so cynical even I’m a bit apalled by its implications – at the same time as I’m swooning over its immaculate pop technique.


Popular10 comments • 4,967 views

#131, 30th December 1961

A landmark of sorts – the first song on the list that I own, on 7″ vinyl, the first song that I know as an object. When I was going through a bad patch several years ago I would put it on before going to sleep at night; it was my own lullaby. Listening to it now it still makes me feel that things are going to be, not great necessarily, but alright, especially when the choir slip quietly in – “there’s such a lot of world to see”.

I got very excited when I heard Morrissey had done a version of it – one of my favourite singers, a song I loved, what could go wrong? Quite a lot. After hearing it I formulated a ‘test’ for singers tackling the tune – if they let the word “huckleberry” beat them, they weren’t up to it. Some people – Morrissey among them – try and replace it, or ignore it, or mumble it. Others just get it over with, making a kind of pledge to the listener that they won’t worry what it means if you won’t. Danny Williams, though, caresses it. He knows that it’s the key to the thing – one perfect word that, even if you don’t know what it means, can sum up everything in the song, all the friendship, the hope, the gentleness, comfort and love, if you only sing it right. So he does.

FRANKIE VAUGHAN – “Tower Of Strength”

Popular21 comments • 4,199 views

#130, 9th December 1961

A record that anticipates, outdoes, and sadly fails to prevent Tom Jones, “Tower Of Strength” is the pop equivalent of those great, famous old Charles Atlas ads. Hey! Wimp! Fed up with having sand kicked in your face? Well, we can’t promise you the secrets of muscle mystery, but we can slap your frustration on vinyl and let you howl along as if you did have biceps like steel cords. Frankie Vaughan’s performance is beserk – check that first verse, he bellows the lines and then ends each one – “door!”, “knees!”, “mee-eee!” – with a different kind of shriek. When he comes back for more in verse two his voice is more of a bassy gasp, and then he ends it all with a cod-opera flourish. Marcello C has called this one of the great British soul singles – I’d agree, but I think it’s helped hugely by being recorded near the beginning of soul, before its emotional lexicon had been fully compiled. In the right mood “Tower Of Strength” can harrow you, but in another mood – which also turns out to be ‘right’ – it’s an absolute hoot. Like much of my favourite British music, you can take it as seriously as you like – or need.

Why Boxing should be banned

TMFDPost a comment • 573 views

Why Boxing should be banned

The Manager of Amir Khan gave an interview this morning*; I was unsure whether I’d heard things correctly. Sadly I had.

The main thing is to ‘secure Amir’s financial security’. Maybe they should look to secure the security of the financial security of his finances? Also, Amir needs an offer because ‘the race relations that have come out good with Amir Khan’. They’re also hoping things ‘can be sorted out imminently…in the near future’

Oh dear. I fear Frank Warren will run rings round them. I can sense an argument being had in the Khan camp – cash in now why your star is high. No thought that by doing good things and becoming a champion, he will get all the offers in the world. Take the money quick, seems to be the argument, rather than run the risk of not cashing in now and losing lots if you turn out not to be as good as people thought or hoped.

Lets look at that logic again – give me some money now because I might not be good in future when we hope I’ll be good. I can’t help think that the slide into Prince Naseem-levels of chasing any buck rather than following his talent has begun.

I pretty much knew it anyway, but this interview was the final nail in the coffin for me; boxing will never get cleaner or better, and the idea that it might joins the Parliamentary road to socialism as something that won’t happen. The punters don’t really want a clean sport, a unified title, champions acting with grace and dignity. The say they do, but don’t. They just want to see people getting their heads smashed in.

Like fox-hunting, I’m pretty agnostic about the activity, but the people who like it disappoint me. Getting pleasure from watching animals ripped to shreds, and seeing humans whack each other lets the species down. If people want to bash each other up, then let they. Just don’t let anyone watch. It’s not a nice spectacle inside the ring, but it’s utterly hateful outside it.

* (Click the link at the top right for the interview)

The Quirks of Travel

Blog 7Post a comment • 331 views

The Quirks of Travel

One of travel’s joys is a delight in trivia, those bizarre local myths or footnotes of history gathered along the way.

I’ve just returned from Italy and came back with a couple of great finds. I now have a photo of the smallest window in the world (in the city of Siena) and a certificate ‘proving’ I am insane because I walked around a fountain three times in a town called Gubbio. These tiny delights are as welcome as anything Boticelli put his brush to.

NEWS FEED: Surely this is what Camp X-Ray is for

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 517 views

NEWS FEED: Surely this is what Camp X-Ray is for

Obviously I have a soft spot of Cat Stevens, or Yusef Islam or , (actually is it not a touch suspicious how many names he has had, like he was on the run). He used to be a musician, realised how rubbish he was, and stopped.

On the downside that he was so rubbish that even though he changed his name and devoted his life to higher learning, it does not excuse crimes like Father And Son. And rightly teh US do not want him on their territory. But does that mean he has to be sent back you the UK. When Camp X-Ray is finally emptied of its boiler suited illegally held captives (muisic was banned in Afghanistan fer chrissake, how bad can they be) I have an idea for a new use. Pop Star Penitentiary. With an Ecclectic Electric Chair for people like Bjork and Damon Albarn.

Trauma is told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator

Do You SeePost a comment • 369 views

Trauma is told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator who is a bit mad so he does not even know how unreliable he is. It also contains hallucinations, non sequiteurs and events that did not happen in the story, outside of the story or indeed anywhere at all. It stars Colin Firth who is gamely making a fist of all this nonsense, but it is without a doubt the rubbishest film I have seen this year.

Sorry Marc Evans. I did like My Little Eye.

(By the way, this is yet another Isle Of Mann film funded production. I expect to see hundreds of camera crews in the background, filling up the Manx countryside with their poxy little films next time I watch the TT race. Really, it cannot be big enough to make that many films.)

Further to Pete’s comments on a less healthy way to “five a day”

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 421 views

Further to Pete’s comments on a less healthy way to “five a day” see below for a stall seen on Blackpool’s Central pier. Sorry for the shoddy phone-cam picture, but it was all we had to hand.

That list of choco-coated fruit (note, *not* chocolate-covered) in full:
They also had “fruit kebabs” featuring a range of fruit on a stick, covered in “choco”. I’m afraid to say I didn’t try one, sorry but I was a bit hungover…

Stumbled across the new series

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 304 views

Stumbled across the new series (new being a strange word in this case) of The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy last night on Radio 4. Doing Life, The Universe And Everything.Comments later perhaps on an aging cast (esp Trillian who sounds more like June Whitfield these days), the surprising difference a new voice for the book makes and the over-all feel of the Drink Maggs production. Nevertheless, I did not expect even the continuity announcer beforehand to get in on the gags.

“And now, making a long awaited return to Radio 4, its the Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, by th immortal Douglas Adams.”

I thought his lack of immortality was the point. Mind you if he was immortal, he might be able to crank out another book in about sixty years time (/speaking ill of the dead)