Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Worst Songs Of The Decades

I'm signing off this year with a look back at the decades in shite. Shite has always been in the charts and always will be, annoying the fuck out of right thinking people everywhere. So without further ado:

The Sixties: Freddie & The Dreamers - You Were Made For Me.

This is Freddie at his most hyper, singing to a frightened dog on Blue Peter. There were thousands of frightened children at home, wishing he'd go away.

The Seventies: Don McLean - American Pie

Fuck me, does this go on! It was always on the radio at the time, clogging up the schedules. Imagine seeing this prick live and not wanting to kill him. Later Madonna covered it. Cunt.

The Eighties: Eurythmics - There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

In the 80s this duo were responsible for a hell of a lot of violence in pubs when their songs came on the video jukebox. And this is their nadir. You can see Lennox at least once on every series of Later With Jools, dancing like a wanker to anything. She has no taste whatsoever.

The Nineties: Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around

My sister once met Marti Pellow in a pub. Instead of glassing him she only went and said "I really respect you." What the fuck? This song is actually decent when played by The Troggs or even REM but blue-eyed Scottish white soul really takes it in a whole other direction.

The Noughties: Bodyrockers - I Like The Way You Move

The creepiest song of all time. This bloke is real heavy-breather material. He probably uses a litre bottle of baby oil every time he makes sweet love with his poor victims. His genitalia are so slippery it wouldn't take much of a push to propel them from one side of an ice-rink to the other.

I hope you enjoy your evenings with plenty of food, wine and song. We will be watching BBC3's Most Annoying People 2009 in anticipation of a new decade of tosspots beaming their inane smiles at us and talking out of their arses.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Noughties

With news that Lord James Blount's Back To Bedroom is the UK's biggest selling album of the decade, where do I start?

Not with rock, that's for sure. The Strokes and Kings Of Leon tried to keep the rock wagon rolling but one of its wheels fell off long before the turn of the century.

Dance music, grime, dubstep and pop told the real story of the noughties. Vitalic, Dizzee Rascal, Burial and Ladyhawke. Just a few names to drop from a varied decade of artists. The decade of the individual in pop music. The band was dead.

And there was no greater individual than Felix da Housecat, whose Kittenz and Thee Glitz is my album of the past ten years.

Felix has been making house music since the 80s but this decade saw him really mix things up and cross over to a massive audience. Well, he should have but still remains somewhat obscure.

One wonders what is to come in the next decade. Will we see a new youth movement, or will pensioners spend their disposable income on Roland TR-808s and mash things up for the gilted generation? Who is to say?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Nineties

This was the decade of the last truly classic rock album, Nirvana's Nevermind. The decade when dance music was the format and DJs were the new gods. The most enjoyable time in history to be young, looking at things from a jealous middle-aged perspective for whom the 80s had been a time of abject misery.

Of course that's how it was.

So the dance single grew into the dance album with the likes of Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Deep Dish, etc, producing stuff that you could sit and listen to at home. Contrary to the name, you don't have to dance to dance music. Just as my dad never danced to Ted Heath's Big Band but nodded his head like a demented pigeon.

As this was going on, The Aphex Twin, The Prodigy, Faze Action and Goldie were creating complex rhythms and tunes and music was alive again.

But I'm not going to choose any of these artists because I think of the 90s for me as the end of the old.

Britpop was retro music that took its influence from 60s and 70s guitar rock. The bands that did it for me weren't at the heart of the scene and probably would have hated to be lumped in with the Blur, Elastica and Suede family. Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals are still making good albums fifteen years on which kind of goes against the grain for rock bands.

My 90s album harks back, too, to rock, blues and gospel. It is Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized.

Jason Pierce made this album after losing his woman to Richard Ashcroft. Imagine the pain he was going through and the drugs he had to take to blot out the image of seeing the love of his life with that untalented streak of piss. But great art can be produced under the influence of pain and drugs.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Eighties

My quintessential album of Thatcher's big cock of a decade features a man who even out-crotched the Taj Mahal himself, Mr Michael Hutchence.

It was not a great time for the album. The 12 inch single dominated with post-punk pop, hip hop and no wave at the beginning of the decade and house music at the end. The less said about the middle, the better.

There were good albums about, of course, by Joy Division, New Order, Scritti Politti, Associates, Happy Mondays, etc, etc. But New Gold Dream by Simple Minds had a forward thrust ("81,82,83,84") and that 80s production and bass sound that we all loved.

This was the end of a great run of albums by Simple Minds. They soon crossed over into stadium bollocks U2 style, lost their pop sensibilities and went up their own arses. Which for someone as well-endowed as Jim Kerr...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Seventies

Where to start? Well, I'll start by admitting I'm not up to the job. The 70s was such a varied decade for music with so many great albums. I can't say one is better than the rest.

So the "album of the decade" becomes the album that, for me, is at the heart of the period. In the 60s, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn took young minds out of the monotone past into a kaleidoscopic future. And so decades to come would strive for a Tomorrow's World without the suffocating constraints of the traditionalist Raymond Baxter.

Raymond would have chosen a punk album, possibly London Calling. But guitar rock was where we'd been, not where we were going, as the future music saw the increasing use of synthesisers.

So I'm going to go the whole hog and ignore great albums by the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads, ignore the great soul albums of Stevie Wonder and Isaac Hayes, even ignore the electronics of the early Roxy Music albums and Bowie from the mid to late 70s. I'm going to go the whole hog and choose Kraftwerk's masterpiece Trans-Europe Express.

Smart young fellows in suits and ties, helplessly indebted to the Berlin Wall which was to be later ruthlessly destroyed by Roger Waters, Kraftwerk were Cold War Cool. This was the age of the train in Germany, knocking our Jimmy Savile's Leeds-London commute into a cocked hat. Trains that went long distances, sleeper compartments, countryside, towns and cities flying back into the past.

A lot has been made of Kraftwerk's influence on hip hop and house as if this was their greatest achievement. No. The music stands alone as genius. Man and machine, together. Together in electric dreams.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Sixties

Leading up to the end of the decade I am devoting this blog to discussing the best albums of each of the past five decades. And in time honoured fashion, of course this will mean the best white male rock album of each decade. Because, as we know, white male rock is the only form of music taken seriously for these kind of lists.

So, the 60s. There was the Beatles, of course, who made some classic albums. The Doors, of course, who made some classic albums. And my personal secret band, Spirit, who also made some classic albums.

But the best white male rock album of the 60s just has to be Pink Floyd's The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

When I first met Betty I was unaware of the Floyd's early work. When she said she liked the band I imagined going to the Dominion Theatre to see a musical based on The Wall written by somebody extremely unlikely like, say, Ben Elton. Of course I was aware that Roger Waters was largely responsible for the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. But he wasn't winning me over with his emotional blackmail.

But Betty played me The Piper and I understood everything. Man, what a trip! The Beatles' Penny Lane takes me back to my little comfortable 60s but this album takes me to the sixties. A 60s where middle class white kids were turned on, tuned in and dropped off at psychedelic gigs by their dads. It's a solid gold classic, mate.

What is your favourite white male rock album of the 60s? Pray tell.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


"We're the only ones who tolerate Lionel. He's such a miserable, horrible man, hasn't got a good word to say about anybody. He pops up on our doorstep at the most inconvenient times. You ask him if he wants a coffee or tea and he says yes please and a sandwich would go down nicely.

Everybody's sent him to Coventry at the bowls club, except for us. It's the same with the dancing club. So when we had our club's Christmas dinner on Wednesday him and Jean were on the same table as us. He treats Jean like shit, always ordering her about to do things. She does everything for him, he's like a big baby who can't do anything for himself.

So we had our meal. Soup with a bread roll and butter, turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pudding, mince pies, cheese and biscuits. Then they brought some bowls of Roses chocolates round.

Well Maureen offered our Roses to the next table. Their bowl was empty and she thought they hadn't been given any. They had but they'd eaten them all. So they took a couple and handed then back to us.

And you know what Lionel did? He snatched them out of Maureen's hand and said the chocolates were for our table and our table alone and he was going to keep them safe. He held onto them, out of the reach of everybody. He was so angry that Maureen had passed them onto the other table.

So I wasn't having this. I thought I'd make a joke of it and pretended to go for the chocolates. And you know what Lionel did?

He grabbed my hand and squeezed with all his strength. He was furious. He was squeezing so hard I thought he was going to break my thumb. He's a big man.

So that's it. That was like a red rag to a bull. We're not going to socialise with Lionel any more. He's cooked his goose. If he tries to sit on the same table as us in future we're just going to move. And if he turns up at our door we're not going to answer it. He can stick his sandwiches."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An Important Announcement

Things are going to change around here. I've been writing on this blog for fifteen years and never made a penny out of it. I'm following Rupert Murdoch's example and installing a paywall.

From Saturday all you will see when you hit this blog is the following image.

The image will open its mouth and you will have 15 seconds to click on the PayPal icon on the tip of its tongue. You will then be able to securely electronically send me, the author of this blog, one United Kingdom pound for access to the delights therein. I will be making it worth your while by recording an exclusive daily podcast of me reading excerpts from the Old Testament in a very high, silly voice which you can download and play on the portable device of your choice.

Of course if you do not click in time, you will be denied access, the image will shut its mouth and slowly dissolve into the electronic ether. I will be able to tell from my stats just who has decided to not pay me a living wage. And I do not forget.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snooker Doggy Dog

Last night I came to the realisation that the beautiful game is not football. We had just stopped halfway through watching the French version of Lady Chatterley (or "John Thomas and Lady Whitestockings" as the English subtitles had it) and in my alcoholic haze I was whisked away to the Pukka Pies UK Snooker Championships from Telford. It suddenly all made sense.

Football I can watch if I'm passionately supporting one of the teams. An England containing Terry, Lampard and Gerrard I have nothing but disdain for. And a West Ham team as lame as the current one doesn't really get me jumping out of my seat. But, snooker is something else.

I presume you remember Betty's post on those snooker players of yore who brought an animal sexuality to the game.

I'm afraid today's crop of players are not in the same league. They are young, self-critical, efficient and personality-free. But could you see David Beckham playing in a tournament sponsored by Pukka Pies? Exactly. You cut your clothes according to your cloth.

So I sat there last night for a good fifteen minutes. Transfixed, I was. All that sport-watching machismo had left my body to be replaced by simple appreciation of skillfully maneuvered balls. The players were not important. I willed them both to perform to the best of their abilities. I was in no hurry, not like the old days when a dithering Terry Griffiths would get me shouting expletives with impatience. I was happy for the players to take as long as they liked to create the most pleasing shots.

Last night I found peace with myself. It has taken me by surprise but now I know there is no turning back. I think I will be able to retire with grace and free of stress. Though I may have to be constantly pissed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

National Treasure Island

Morrissey's choices of songs on Desert Island discs were hardly inspiring. New York Dolls, Ramones, Velvet Underground, Nico, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy & The Stooges, Mott The Hoople, Klaus Nomi. Seven-eighths white rock from the 60s and 70s. Even if we take the 70s, there was no prog, no disco, no reggae, no krautrock, no soul, no post-punk. Morrissey knows what he likes and he ploughs a very narrow furrow. This is evident in the whole of his and The Smiths' recorded output, lyrically clever but musically leaden.

Still, I like him and he's a national treasure and all that. Where would we be without Morrissey? Just who from the 80s would we have had posters of on our bedroom walls? Whose name would we have written in our exercise books? Whose name would we have referenced when announcing to our parents we were to become vegetarians? Who would have got us into Oscar Wilde?

Stephen Fry?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

There Must Be An Angel

Today Annie Lennox receives the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of her sterling work for the British Red Cross. It will be a star studded tribute evening featuring performances by independent lady singer-songwriters such as Little Boots and La Roux. Independent lady singer-songwriters of the noughties are continuing Annie's tradition of independent lady singer-songwriting and let's hope they continue Annie's tradition of humanitarianism in any spare time they may have between writing, recording and performing their songs.

Previous famous recipients of the award include The Queen, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, Luciano Pavarotti, Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchill. I'm sure you'll agree our foremost independent lady singer-songwriter can hold her own in such exalted company.

As Freemen, Annie, The Queen and Nelson Mandela (and presumably the ghosts of the others) currently have the right to:-

1. drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge

2. be hanged by a silken rope if sentenced to death

3. carry a naked sword in public

4. be bundled into a taxi and sent home rather than thrown into a cell if found drunk and incapable by a City of London Police officer

So go on, Annie. Fill your boots, get fucking rat-arsed, swirl that sword round like a wacky child and shoo some sheep and cattle over Dave Stewart's headless body. We will cheer for the death of the hateful 80s as your neck is enclosed in beautiful jacquard silk as you stand there resplendent in your perfectly tailored man's suit.