Posts from 25th January 2005

Jan 05

Popular ’64

Popular21 comments • 1,406 views

Will you still read me, will you still tick me, now we’re ’64? Expect a new Popular post proper presently, however we’ve had a call for another year poll, and the 2d10 came up with 64. So, Tom’s standing orders are:

I give a mark out of 10 to every single featured on Popular. This is your chance to indicate which YOU would have given 6 or more to, by whatever standard you wish to impose. And if you have any ‘closing remarks’ on the year to make, the comments box is your place!

Which of the Number Ones of 1964 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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THE BEATLES – “I Feel Fine”

Popular12 comments • 3,364 views

#183, 12th December 1964

The sliver of feedback that opens “I Feel Fine” has become one of pop’s great use-other-facts-please. It’s historically interesting, it’s a strong gimmick, but it has very little to do with the rest of the record, which is the Beatles having good clean fun with Rickenbackers. The section where riff and solo interplay is easily the liveliest of the whole song, but the overall emphasis on guitar gives a sense of the band moving with their times. That said this is the third Beatles song in a row about buying things – tracing a cynical arc from the pious separation of romance and commerce to diamond rings as a proof of affection. There’s a hint in that of a tune in need of changing.

(Flash Fact: this song’s worth as a singalong was proved by me at Glastonbury last year, much to the horror of anyone present.)

THE ROLLING STONES – “Little Red Rooster”

Popular11 comments • 3,119 views

#182, 5th December 1964

I’m a bit slow tonight. I just typed something about Mick Jagger’s cock, and then looked at the name of the song, and – ohhhhh, right. Now I get it.

Sung, as opposed to written, it is a more discreet metaphor at least. And Jagger’s louche, amused delivery is far more the lazy rooster than the prowling one. The rest of the Stones are similarly post-coital, conjuring a morning-after mood with arrogant economy.

THE FT TOP 100 SONGS 93. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers – “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”

FT + New York London Paris Munich/Post a comment • 3,069 views

93. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers – “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”

Cis says:

I loved doo-wop when I was little. The black-and-white photographs on record covers, smiling boys in ill-fitting suits, close harmonies and bubblegum and soda floats and school hall dances and all those things that only existed in made-for-tv movies set in the fifties. My dad taught me to jive, in the living room, trying not to make the record skip, a few rudimentary moves that I never quite got right.

‘Why do fools fall in love’ does a pretty good impression of being doo-wop, but it’s not really – it can’t be, because after the bouncing bass lead-in and the open-vowel blast of backing vocal, Frankie Lymon bursts in and takes everything over. You can almost imagine the recording: one mike, maybe two, and the rest of the group have been shunted right to the back of the room so their harmonies only drift forward when Lymon’s treble yell tires itself out.

I don’t remember how to jive, but my body thinks it does: some songs, there’s this twitching, this demand.

And then Jimmy Wright’s sax blurts up from somewhere, and it’s a contest between boy and reed for who can be the rawest, the loudest, the most absurdly fun, the most catchy, and this song was never about falling in love, always about making people move. The swing beat shuffles, the double-bass jumps and loops – whyy does my he-aart skip a cra-a-zy-y beat, sings Lymon, and it sure don’t sound like a question.

Birds sing, rain falls, fools fall in love. So what? We should be dancing.

Joe Sacco watch your back.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 345 views

Joe Sacco watch your back. After allowing an admittedly sluggish time for your Sacco’s graphic novel journalism of Palestine to be diseminated, the Israeli’s strike back with HOMELAND: THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

And who better to write this story 4000 years in the making than Marv Wolfman, 1980’s fan favourite writer of the Teen Titans and Crisis On Infinite Earths.

(Cue dodgy Jericho gag here*.)

Gasp as David slays the forces of G.O.L.I.A.T.H., swoon as Moses uses his telekinesis to hold back the Red Sea and be puzzled that you don’t remember the Anti-Monitor’s role in the 1967 war.

*Cue explaination of this here. Jericho was a member of the Teen Titans whose powers were, I believe, not being able to talk and having really silly hair. You may find out far too much about him here. But not really why he is called Jericho.

In La Porchetta on Saturday I reverted to type

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 883 views

In La Porchetta on Saturday I reverted to type and had one of my favourite pizzas, Pizza Speck. It is a simple, crisp dough which has gorgonzola and speck ham on it. No tomato, nothing else. Quite salty truth be told. Not very vegetably.

And then it dawn on me. This was the poshest cheese on toast you can get. No, not even cheese on toast. It was ham & cheese so it was just a posh open Croque Monsieur. But then the hierachies of breeding started to confuse. Can a pizza be posher than something French, even if it is the staple of French truck stops. Where does Welsh Rarebit come in this genealogy (low down one suspects).

And then the pizza was eaten so I stopped worrying.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 537 views

Day 11: So Lonely

I awoke strung up on some sort of makeshift crucifix. Upon further examination it seemed to be constructed from a sun lounger and my wrists were bound by the elastic used to keep the cushions on. Infront of me stood the hideous, hidebound creature whom I had previously seen a’capering and a’rending of flesh.

“Tribute,” it hissed.
“What? The lousy last gasp at a career by eighties Brit-soul no-marks The Pasadenas, who thought writing a song about all their musical heroes would make them as good as said heroes. In some respects they were right, in as much both them and Marvin Gaye were appalling. You missed the Right On in parentheses by the way. But why do you demand such a terrible record?”

“Silence,” it shrieked: a) after I had stopped talking and b) much to my satisfaction. I could not help but overhear some Roxy Music playing in the background which was far beyond my definition of silence. “Where are your records?”
“In a skip in a landfill somewhere. Along with all the sheet music, cds and tapes I could get hold of. When they said home taping was killing music I spent a solid year recording everything that was released in the sixties. What a gyp. Actually home taping is making more copies of music.”
“Quiet. I will ask you one more time, give me your records or I shall have to kill you.”

I had been looking closely at the creature and noticed something very strange. Despite the blood stains and the random bits of fur and claws, it did appear that the voice was coming from deep inside the body. Almost as if this outer-shell was a costume.

“I cannot help but noticing that you have killed everyone else anyway. No I am sorry. I shall not acquiesce. And I mean that in the proper meaning of the word, rather than as quite a clever word to make Noel Gallagher feel he was brainy despite not knowing what it means.”
“Then you should die,” the creature said, which was unfortunately a mistake (not its first) as I used this breadth of time to leap from my crucifix, and rip the carapace off.
“As I expected,” I said as I kneed the woman under the costume leaving her prone. “Sue Lawley.”
“But, but how?” Sue gasped.

“How did I escape. Simple. Elastic is a rubbish thing to tied someone up with, its most salient feature being its elasticity. How did I know it was you? There were clues. The complete works of Shakespeare, the Bibles. The Desert Island. The Discs. Frankly the only thing that surprises me is that you took Roy Plomley’s idea so literally.”
“These records are my treasure, and those minor Radio 4 celebrities are my prey.”
“You are a deluded old newsreader who needs to be punished and whose record library should go with you. And that vent over there seems thoroughly apt.”

At which point I ransacked her record Library and tipped them all down the steaming vent, with a satisfying cracking sound and burnt plastic smell.
“No!” Lawley screamed. At first I believed in some sort of misguided attempt to save her records, but then it became clear. “This is an active volcano, and any chemical imbalance might set it to erupt. Such as half a ton of vinyl.”
“Well I best plug up the vent then,” I said, turfing the newsreader down the hole. However, there were disquieting noises from below the surface. Not just the screams.

THE POLICE: Sue Lawley

Ho ho, you say out there, despite my traumatic experience. Tanya is doing that deathlessly funny thing of mishearing lyrics for comic effect. A staple of columnists, Saturday supplements and bar-room comedians everywhere. So yes, for the record I know that this track was released with the title So Lonely written on the record sleeve, and yes I know that Mr Sting, as an ex-English teacher is unlikely to get his spelling that wrong. But just as Queen do indeed sing “Fried Chicken” at the end of One Vision, it is clear that Gordon is singing “Sue Lawley” here.

To what end would a band in the late seventies devote a track to a middling newsreader, some say the Natasha Kaplinsky of her age? And here is where the cynicism comes in. The Police always had pretensions to cleverness, hence releasing an album with names either in French or long words. Outlandos D’Amour is not even proper French anyway, and the only Synchronicity Sting should expect from me is that between my fist and his nose. But nevertheless, for a man who takes six hours to shag his wife, he has plenty of time to think. And think he did about what a clever publicity wheeze it would be if they sang the name of a minor celebrity in a song.

This is of course the exact same route to fame flogged to death by no-mark one hit wonders R.E.M. in It’s The End Of The World As We Know It and A Tribe Of Toffs with John Kettley Is A Weatherman. And it is hard not to see a kinship between The Police and A Tribe Of Toffs, both with their Tory, authoritarian names and completely lack of usefulness to the human race. What both bands recognized early on was namechecking a sleb is a sure-fire way to get played by the gurning morons who earn a living as breakfast show disc-jockeys. At the time of The Police’s success, said gurner was Mike Read. Who is now responsible for Grief Never Grows Old. You said it, you have not been presenting a radio show for over twenty years, and I still can’t get over its grievous nature.

OK Listen Up

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 633 views

OK Listen Up

There are only TWO days to go until Club Freaky Trigger’s special 00s night. This will be one of the best Club FTs ever and you are strongly recommended to come. It is, as usual, at the Chapel Bar in Islington. Fingers crossed we will have the guest DJing services of the mighty TIM FINNEY playing his only UK date (ahem).

But wait there’s more! On the 10th we’ll be guest DJing at Nambucca at the fantastic ‘Hit Or Miss’ night, which promises “soul, funk, surprises”. We’re bringing the “surprises”, eek. We’ve looked at their flyer playlist though and it would appear that they play all the soul, funk and old school hip-hop that you know and love and would really really enjoy dancing to – this is clearly not some obscurantist’s night out, it has the official Poptimist seal of approval. So come along to that too and help us get invited back.

Not being terribly well yesterday

Do You SeePost a comment • 365 views

Not being terribly well yesterday I wanted to curl up and watch some cinematic comfort food. I picked Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I’d not seen since I was 13. It was interesting how different the film is from the version of the film I’d carried in my head, particularly in terms of pacing.

My imagined Raiders is much more of a convoluted race for the Ark, and when the goodies find the Ark and the baddies subsequently get it, they open it immediately and the film ends. The long – and very exciting – truck chase scene I had completely forgotten about. The aeroplane fight I had moved much earlier in the movie. The pirate ship / U-boat stuff near the end – vanished. So the version of Raiders I watched last night was in one sense oddly disappointing.

‘My’ version conforms a lot more to the action film genre conventions Raiders did its bit to forge. But in 1981 they were unrefined, and so now it seems to me that Raiders misses tricks or even gets things ‘wrong’. The sadistic giggling Nazi is introduced and used very much as Marian’s adversary and the genre-schooled viewer expects him to meet a separate end at her hands. There are also pains taken to individualise the villains – Belloc is bad, Nazi chief is worse, Nazi giggler is worst – but for the last third of the film they all act together and all die together too. Indy and Belloc don’t get a final confrontation – or at least not one that Indy wins. And after the truck chase there’s a final 20-30 minutes with hardly any action at all – no wonder I’d mentally truncated it.

So Raiders now feels full of set-ups that don’t always pay off. But on the other hand this made it a more interesting film than I was expecting – OK, I knew the soul-sucking end, but how it got there surprised me (and I’d completely forgotten that lovely final payoff shot). It also reminded me that most of the genre conventions that make blockbusters predictable become so because they’re dramatic best practise, too.