Friday, 18 April 2014

I knew nothing of the horses....

Earworms of the Week

Walking in Memphis” – Cher

Another very mixed bag this week.  For some reason, when this popped into my head, I had the horrible thought that it might be a version by Michael Bolton.  Apparently though, it's a song that everyone thinks he has covered but he actually has not.  I'm not claiming any high ground here, relieved as I was, because the version in my head wasn't the original, but was the one by Cher.  Yeah.  Better, but not by a whole lot.

(Remember) Walking in the Sand” - The Shangri-Las

The first version of this I ever heard was by Aerosmith on their classic Greatest Hits album, and that's pretty good.... but you really can't go wrong with the original, can you?

Snooker Loopy” – Chas N Dave & the Matchroom Mob

The World Championship Snooker starts in the next few days, and you really can't argue with this little beauty, can you?  Reached something like number 7 in the UK Singles Charts, and I doubt there has ever been a finer record in that position in the history of recorded music.

Brick House” – The Commodores
September” – Earth, Wind & Fire

These two are paired in my head, and were triggered by one of my team saying (in response to one of those icebreaker question things) that "September" was the song that she would have playing all day every day in her head, if she had to choose something.  She played me a little, and it's obviously one of those records that everybody knows.  Would I want it playing in my head 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  Well, no.  Particularly not the dance remix version she's got..... but I suppose you could have worse.  "Brick House" is entirely unconnected to that anecdote, but "September" brought it to mind, for some reason, and it just started playing in my head.

You Can Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac

Probably going to be the unnamed headliner at Glastonbury on the Saturday night, aren't they?  Reckon I'll give them a miss.  I'm hoping they name Metallica, to be honest.

In The Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

**air drumming**

Blanket of the Night” - Elbow

Because it's a great, compassionate song by a warm, compassionate band.  Their new album is excellent, perhaps their best, and they were pretty good on Monday night.  Lovely, lovely Guy.

Farmer in the City” – Scott Walker

This sounded like it came from another planet when "Tilt" came out in 1995, but the twenty years since have seen it grow and grow to the point where it now doesn't sound that outlandish at all.... perhaps I've just got more comfortable with it and it's a lot more normal than most of Scott's subsequent output, or perhaps he was simply twenty years ahead of his time.  Whatever, this is a brilliant song by one of my all time favourites and I'm definitely not sorry to have it in my head.

And that's your lot.  Short and sweet this week, but I've just had a bonus day in the office helping resolve a huge issue, and I'd like to get on to my weekend and to help celebrate a good friend of this blog's wedding.... and her new husband too.  Parp!

Stay classy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


A crisis in the office meant I didn't cycle home until it was already gone half-eight.  I really enjoy working with my team, so although it wasn't the best way to start the Easter weekend, it wasn't so bad. Still, as I got on my bike for the ride home, I was feeling pretty tired.

Nevermind, it was such a lovely evening that it was hard to feel grumpy for long.  Although it was late and I needed my lights for the cycle home, the sky was aflame with the most beautiful red striping of cloud and it was a cool and clear evening.  As I cycled offsite, the baby rabbits were out frolicking on the grass and a cock pheasant was busy corralling his harem.  Under the flyover, I saw there's a large patch of wild cowslips and then, as the cycle path curves alongside the Trent, I saw a freshwater cormorant, nesting swans and various coots, moorhens and geese. When I got home, I was greeted by my cat and my lovely wife.

It's a four-day weekend and it was sausages for tea.  What's not to like?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

you and me babe, how about it?

As you know, thanks to my team at work, I've had something of a crash course in online dating over the last few months.  Because people apparently don't meet organically any more, several of the beautiful, intelligent women in my team are putting themselves through the wringer of dating websites.  One is very happy and several weeks into a promising relationship, but the other is still wading her way through hundreds of hopeful/hopeless profiles online.

Yesterday, I was introduced to Tinder.

Look, I've been happily loved up with C. for more than fifteen years now, so this is all pretty new and alien to me.... but I'll try to explain.  Basically, the way this works is that you load up a few pictures of yourself and a tiny bit of information, and you then select your preferences and how far a radius you're prepared to go for a date, and then you're off.  You flick through profiles, hitting yes or no.  Everyone else does the same.  If two people both like each other, then you get in touch and start exchanging messages.  Simple.  A little lacking in subtlety, perhaps, but it's a start.

My colleague handed me her phone and had me flicking through profiles on her behalf for a while.

No.  No.  No.  No. No.

After about ten minutes, I was in a state of despair at the future of humanity.  Pretty much every single guy on the system seems to have uploaded selfies that show one or all of the following things:

  •  a gym shot, wearing a muscle vest and gazing lovingly into a mirror and flexing his guns
  •  a topless shot, probably in a grubby bathroom, flexing his guns
  •  several shots cheek-to-cheek with various females.  Ex-girlfriends?
  •  bromance shots, up close and personal with your best buddies.  Drinking lager and probably topless.
  • pictures of the amusing jape you get up to when pissed
  • gangsta shot, perhaps in a fast car, wearing shades and an over-sized baseball cap.  Possibly topless.
  • naked in a bathroom with a sock over your cock

Ugh.  Horrific.

I can't decide what's worse, that guys apparently think this is the kind of thing that girls are looking for in a man, or that these may actually be the things that girls are looking for in a guy.  Either way, we're doomed.

My colleague told me that she had a match the other day and the guy sent her a message.
"Do you want sex?"  That was it.
Who said romance was dead?

I think I was a lot more choosy than she generally is.  I basically clicked "No" to everybody.  I did click  "Yes" to the guy with long, wavy hair holding a cello, but that was because I was so busy laughing that  I was looking for more photos of him and I hit the wrong button.

This, my friends, is how young people find love.  Well, sex, anyway.

The bastards.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I am a preacher when I've got it on me, and I've got it on me....

[photo by Kevin Cooper for the Evening Post]

Elbow @ Nottingham Arena, 14th April 2014

Elbow are one of those bands that I've seen many times over the years.  We go way back: I first discovered them way back in 2001 when "Red" - the first single to be released from their forthcoming debut album was available to stream on Yahoo or something like that.  I liked it enough to buy the album when it came out, and we've been together ever since.  I've reviewed them a few times on here over the years, too.  As is now traditional on Elbow reviews here, let's revisit a few choice quotes from those before we get started on last night's gig.

When I saw Elbow in February 2006, as they toured in support of their album "Leaders of the Free World", I had the following to say:

"They remind me a little of a non-stadium friendly Coldplay - with a better and more inventive lyricist. They're very downbeat and slightly melancholy, but they have a wonderful knack with a tune, and given the right moment, can be wonderfully uplifting. They deserve to be massive, but I would be very surprised if that ever really happens."

When I saw them again in April 2008, touring the newly released "Seldom Seen Kid" album, I quoted that line again, adding that:

"Their media profile seems to be a bit higher these days, but somehow they remain a band that it's difficult to see ever really becoming as big as they deserve. Perhaps they're too self-effacing..."

Of course, not long after that, their world changed forever when they (deservedly) won the Mercury Music Prize on Tuesday 9th September 2009.... and they are now well established as an arena band and have their music featured to soundtrack inspiring montages on the telly and as the theme tune to the coverage of the London Olympics.  I couldn't be happier for them, but it shows what I know, eh?

As I said after their Sheffield gig in March 2009, "Elbow are a marvelously textured band; they write songs that take a while to soak in, but once they have soaked in, they seem to mature and deepen like a fine cellared wine, getting richer and broader with every listen"

Well, that's probably a more perceptive comment.  I'm not sure I can think of many other bands that produce songs as rich and layered as Elbow.  It's cliche to say that Guy Garvey is a warm and inclusive frontman and welcomes everyone into his genial embrace, but you only have to watch them to know that this has always been true and remains true even though he now plays to a constituency of tens of thousands of people every night.  The band have been together for more than twenty-five years, only relatively recently finding real success, and they so obviously remain a tightly-knit band of brothers, entirely comfortable with each other.  The band are far more than the sum of their parts, coming together to weave a web of carefully constructed sound, now often supplemented - as tonight - by a small orchestra.  On top of this, Garvey whispers his beautifully observed songs of love..... love songs not just to his lover, but to his friends, to drinking companions, to strangers he meets on the street and to every person on the whole damn planet.

The gig tonight is busy but not quite sold out, with tickets available on the door (even with the £30 I paid a good deal cheaper than Kylie is charging for her gig here in October).  The crowd is everything you'd expect from a mid-week arena gig for a band like this, and there is a pretty broad demographic here, swaying towards older couples and beardy blokes in their 30s and 40s.... in other words people like me.  We're more sedate than we used to be, and a double-bill of Jimi Goodwin from Doves followed by Elbow is just what the doctor ordered.

The band are really good tonight.  I've seen them better - and they seem to have been tailor-made for a sundown slot at Glastonbury - but they're pretty damn good tonight.  "The Take Off and Landing of Everything" is their sixth album and might just be their best yet.  For my money, "Build a Rocket Boys!" wasn't quite as good as "The Seldom Seen Kid" or "Leaders of the Free World".  It was good, but it wasn't quite as good.  This one sounds amazing; the songs here don't feel the need to shout for your attention, and I also think they're all a little bit less Elbow-by-numbers, reaching for all the right emotional buttons at all the right points.  Elbow have got a pretty good back catalogue to work with now, and it's hard not to be disappointed that we don't hear more songs from "Asleep in the Back" or "Cast of Thousands" (particularly "Fugitive Motel"), but such is the quality of the new album that it's hard to grumble that the set is heavily weighted towards it.  Take "The Blanket of Night": how many songs do you reckon are written from the perspective of two desperate refugees seeking asylum aboard a "paper cup of a boat"?  Always a compassionate man, Garvey really excels himself here (although, to be fair, it's also hard - as with almost all the songs on this album - not to see a subtext here about the end of his relationship to Emma Jane Unsworth too.  Poor heartbroken Guy).

Garvey, in particular... lovely Guy.... sounds fantastic tonight.  "Fly Boy Blue / Lunette", "New York Morning" and "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" all sound incredible (apparently, mentioning a much-loved New York celebrity in a song is a great way of getting her to ring you, should you be thinking about mentioning Yoko Ono in song).  All his usual stage banter is in place too: if you attend an Elbow gig, you should expect to be asked if you're okay at least once between every song.  He never varies much from his usual template, but he always seems entirely genuine when he asks, and you really sense that he cares about his audience in a way that someone like Liam Gallagher will never understand.  Special mention to guitarist Mark Potter too; where the dirty, stinking riff on "Grounds for Divorce" used to stand out as the exception in Elbow's set, I can't help but notice that he's managed to squeeze several more massive riffs into the new material.  Good work, fella!

Even a song as familiar as "One Day Like This" has refused to be dimmed by overexposure.  I've seen this song sung back at the band with greater gusto and feeling than I heard last night, but it didn't make a damn bit of difference to my enjoyment of it or my desire to sing it back to them as loudly as I could.  We even harmonised for them.

Guy Garvey is exactly one day older than me.  I may have weathered a little better than him, on the whole, but I can only aspire to a warmth and compassion on that kind of scale.

They're a band to be treasured.

VERDICT: 8 / 10

Intro: This Blue World (instrumental)
The Bones of You
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
Real Life (Angel)
The Night Will Always Win
New York Morning
The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
Great Expectations
The Blanket Of Night
The Birds
Grounds for Divorce
My Sad Captains
Lippy Kids
One Day Like This

Monday, 14 April 2014

don't you cramp my style....

I did a half-Olympic distance triathlon in the early summer of 2005. I was preparing for the London triathlon, and I wanted to practice open water swimming in a wetsuit. It went pretty well, on the whole, and apart from getting excited and trying to breath once every four strokes, I was very pleased with how my preparation was going. After the event, before heading for home, I took advantage of one of the on-site physios and had a massage. The physio asked me if I had problems with my left calf, because I seemed to have a golf-ball sized knot of tissue in there that wouldn’t respond to manipulation. Um, not really, I said… and then later on that same night, I woke up in screaming agony as my entire left calf was seized up in a cramp that just would not ease off.

I never actually did the London triathlon. A month before the big day and a few weeks after that triathlon, I woke up with a numb hand and started my four-year journey towards an eventual diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I’ve had various problems with my legs since then, but mostly they revolve around numbness and pins & needles and I’ve pretty much been able to ignore them and carry on with life as normal.

Over the last twelve months, it’s become apparent that I have a distinct weakness in the left side of my body: my muscles are smaller than on the other side and I’m slowly losing the ability to lift that leg up enough to prevent me stumbling as I run. As a result, I’ve developed a whole pile of knock-on injuries in my plantar fascia, ankle, ITB, knee and hip. It’s tedious, but I’m still running so life goes on.

Recently, I’ve started waking up in the night with cramping in both my calves. This usually happens in the small hours of the morning, and is so painful that I have to hop out of bed and desperately try to straighten out my spasming muscles. I have been hoping that this is just a sign that I’m working my muscles hard and not hydrating properly or eating enough potassium…. But it’s looking increasingly likely that this is another symptom of my MS. Apparently muscle spasms are an extremely common presenting symptom of MS, and cramping like this could affect as many as 40% of people with MS at some point. I’m actually starting to wonder, given how close the remark was to my initial symptoms, that the physio at that triathlon in 2005 may actually have spotted an underlying problem.

So what can I do about this? Honestly? Nothing much. Yet another thing to be excessively stoical about because I can’t really do anything to change it. I’m clearly not going to stop running, so I’ve now started to rigorously roll my calves and to massage them before bed every night and I’ve added magnesium and calcium supplements to my ever-increasing selection of pills that I take every day (they join fish oil, glucosamine, vitamin D, and vitamin B, as well as my once weekly injection of Avonex and a hatful of assorted analgesics). I might start drinking tonic water too – sadly without the gin – as the quinine is supposed to be helpful in preventing cramping.

In other news, I’m thinking about running a marathon. Given that I’m currently too broken to run more than about 7 miles without really hurting myself, this might sound ambitious…. But if I can adjust my mindset to stop myself thinking that I can do it inside four hours and to just focus on finishing, then it should be perfectly manageable.

Ha! Listen to me! It’s as if I don’t know myself any better than that. As if I’m not going to enter swearing blind that I’ll walk it if I have to, and will then train as hard and as fast as I possibly can, probably breaking myself in the process. Having that insight into myself doesn’t, of course, make me any less powerless to halt the inevitable…..

Friday, 11 April 2014

ride the tiger....

Earworms of the Week

Usually at this time of the week, I'd be blathering on about the songs that have been in my head.  This week it would mostly have been things like "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" by the Beatles and "Knives" by Therapy?  All these plans were somewhat blown asunder by a conversation I had this afternoon that has completely altered the landscape of my internal jukebox.

I'd had a day of meetings and presentations.  It was hardly ideal after a very late night to have to run some presentations first thing in the morning, but perhaps putting a brake on my drinking of the free booze on offer was no bad thing, and once caffeine was on board and I'd eaten some vitamin-P, the presentations went really well.

When I returned to my desk, later in the afternoon, for some reason I started talking about karaoke with one of my colleagues.  This colleague is 23 years old and tries very hard to be mature beyond her years.  She told me once that she doesn't do karaoke any more after a bad experience, and because she wouldn't tell me what the song in question was, I told her that I was assuming that it was "All By Myself".  She seemed a touch offended, but didn't correct me by filling me in what she had actually been singing, so I ran with it.... mostly because it amused me as much that she didn't get the joke as by the actual mental image of her singing the song.

Anyway, for whatever reason, we started talking about karaoke again.  She still won't tell me what the song was, but now I've expanded her repertoire of imaginary karaoke classics to include a number of bona-fide 1980s power ballad classics.  It started with me teasing her that I was now imagining her singing "Alone" by Heart.  Her look of confusion at this led to a quick YouTube play and a lot of joyous singing along by some of my other colleagues and lot of admiring of the 1980s hair on display in the video.  From there, I began composing my colleagues imaginary setlist to include "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, perhaps "The Power of Love" by Jennifer Rush, "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette, "My Heart Will Go On".... the list went on.  She's also got the right kind of hair for epic, back-combed bouffante.

My colleague was confused and not quite sure if I was laughing at her, and this only made things funnier.  Clearly, all other earworms in my head packed their bags and left immediately and I've been singing female power ballads ever since.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

I should probably also declare at this point that I have also been listening - perhaps inspired by cheesy rock classics - to "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest (and also covered by Therapy? on Saturday night), "Smokin' in the Boy's Room" by Motley Crue, "Spirit of Radio" by Rush, "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy, "God Gave Rock & Roll to You" by Kiss and *ahem* "Holy Diver" by Dio.

Tell me about it.  We're literally moments away from "Africa" and "More than a Feeling" aren't we?   Brilliant. I'm totally not complaining.  It's been that kind of a week.

In other news, this....

Me?  The 13th Duke of Wybourne?  Here?  With my reputation.....?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void...

I was earworming “Ob-La-Di Ob-Bla-Da” this morning. It’s not my favourite Beatles song by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely a step up from the version of “Strangers in the Night” with all the words replaced by doobie-doobie-doobies, sung in the style of Frank Sinatra that’s been stuck in my head for the last few weeks. One of my team asked me what I was humming so I told them, adding that I didn’t think that it even makes my top 20 of songs by the Beatles, perhaps not even the top 50. It’s above “Old Brown Shoe”, but not by much. This immediately led on to a discussion about our favourite songs by the band. “Eleanor Rigby”, “Let It Be”, “In My Life”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Hey Jude”, “Something”, “Help”…. All sorts. Pretty much everyone had a view and chucked in a suggestion, except for one member of my team, who came up with nothing. She just looked blank and shook her head.

“Can you name a song by the Beatles?”
“Not one?”
“But you know who the Beatles are, right?”
“Yes. I’d know it was them if heard something, but I can’t think of any song in particular”
“But you can’t name a single song?”

I listed a few song titles, but she just shrugged at me. You wouldn’t think it was possible to grow up in the UK and be completely unable to name a single piece of music by the Beatles, but apparently it is. Remarkable.

At this point, another colleague – who comes from Liverpool – had her head in her hands in despair.

Seeing this, I pressed on.

“Do you know where the Beatles are from?”
“Yes. I think so…. They’re from Manchester, aren’t they?”

I don’t think my scouse colleague is ever going to talk to her again.

She may not be a fan of the Beatles, but this girl does, for the record, really love Katy Perry. I think she’d want you to know that.

I love my team.  I really do.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

where there's music and there's people who are young and alive....

A whole lot of shit is going to be written about the life and death of Peaches Geldof over the next few days and her face is going to be used to sell even more papers than it did during her tragically short lifetime.... let's hope that, amidst the feeding frenzy and rubber-necking, we don't forget the basic human tragedy of a 25 year old woman dying and leaving behind a husband, two young sons and a grieving family.

My boss came into work on Monday morning and was glassy-eyed, tearful and overcome with grief.  It turned out that she had just found out that a good friend of hers had been found dead on Sunday at the bottom of a flight of stairs in her home.  She wasn't yet thirty years old.  It seems such a tragically banal way to die; something that could happen to any one of us any day.  What can you say?  What platitudes are going to bring back someone so irretrievably gone?

We tried to send my boss home, but she didn't want to be alone and, to steal the phrase from The Smiths, she wanted to see people and she wanted to see life.

Life is precious and fragile and so easily snuffed out.  Now is not the time for tired, cynical quips.

There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”

Monday, 7 April 2014

jesus without the suffering....

Therapy? @ Nottingham Rock City, Saturday 5th April 2014

In my third year at University, when we got back from spending a term in Venice, we were guaranteed campus accommodation. In my case, in the January of 1995, this meant a room in a flat in a purpose built plot of university accommodation just a couple of minutes away from the main student union. Very handy. In fact, my room was on the first floor and looked directly back down the road towards the main campus. People standing at the pedestrian crossing waiting to come across to the residences looked straight into my room.

If anyone did idly look up at my room, this is what they saw:

I had a **massive** poster of this on the wall above my bed.  Nice, huh?

Something prompted me to dig out my copy of "Troublegum" a couple of weeks ago.  It is one of those CDs that long pre-dates the time when I started ripping everything, so I didn't even have a copy on my iPod when I had a sudden craving to listen to "Screamager".  When I was thinking about what to listen to for my run on Saturday morning, I shared with the world on Facebook that I couldn't decide between Johnny Cash and Metallica and ended up with Therapy?

Almost immediately, both Graham and Mark messaged me to tell me that the band were performing "Troublegum" in full at Rock City that very night as part of the twentieth anniversary tour.  Tickets were still available.  Did I want to join them?  Of course.  The bloody thieves charged me a £1.95 booking fee and a £1.50 charge for a ticket that wasn't actually a ticket at all but my name down on the door, but at least I was in...

When I walked past the venue in the early afternoon, I overheard the band's roadcrew talking about how they had managed to get half price baguette for the rider, so it seems that even rock bands get old and sensible.  As you might expect, the crowd for a show where a band are playing a twenty-year old album in full doesn't contain many young people.  That's fine by me.  The kids seem to like The Horrors and The Palma Violets, so clearly their ears have been painted on.

Therapy? played "Troublegum" in full and it sounded amazing.  It's two decades old, and it sounded fresh and vibrant and LOUD.  The band looked like they were having a ball, and the crowd certainly were (apart from the plums standing next to me who spent most of the gig snogging each other and taking selfies of themselves kissing, with flash.  They didn't seem amused when Graham photobombed them...although it certainly amused us).

"Screamager" is the song I've kept coming back to over the years, and it is an amazing blast of a single... but the rest of the album stands up pretty well too.  The hits keep on coming: Hellbelly, Stop It You're Killing Me, Nowhere, Trigger Inside, Femtex.....It's not everyone's cup of tea, I'm sure, but the musicianship is good and the themes of the songs are reassuringly gloomy.  They played the album top to tail.

Stop It You're Killing Me
(with snippet of "Nowhere Man" by The Beatles)
Die Laughing
(preceded by a capella verse of Halfway Down the Stairs)
Trigger Inside
Lunacy Booth
Isolation (Joy Division cover, obvs)
You Are My Sunshine

... and then they played a whole pile of singles and b-sides from the same era.

Evil Elvis
Auto Surgery
Pantopon Rose
Totally Random Man
Bloody Blue
Opal Mantra
Breaking the Law (Judas Priest cover - sounded epic)
Potato Junkie (with buzzsaw guitar snippet of "I Wanna Be Your Dog")

I haven't been to a gig that loud since I saw the Hives in the same venue in 2004.  It was fucking brilliant.  As spur-of-the-moment decisions go, this was a really, really good one.  I know this isn't really a proper review, but it was a damn good gig.  If you haven't listened to the album for a while, then you really need to dig it out.  It came out at about the same time that Kurt Cobain died and those  hooks, that guitar and those gloomy, self-loathing lyrics are kind of magnificent synthesis of grunge and metal.  It still sounds great.

Oh, and word out to Slam Cartel, who played the basement directly after Therapy's set.  Sounded pretty good.

Verdict: 9 / 10 gig in a long, long time.

Friday, 4 April 2014

your loss becomes my gain....

Earworms of the Week

Walk the Dinosaur” – Was Not Was

Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom / Boom boom acka lacko boom boom / Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom.... isn't that all you need to know?

Firestarter” – Prodigy

Fat of the Land was released when I was working in HMV in York, and because it was the biggest album of the month, we tended to play it all day.  Now, when you work in a record shop, you become pretty adept at tuning out the godawful chart shite we generally had to play.  When you do get to play something you like, it's almost worse because constant repetition will kill pretty much anything.  It took me years to make peace with OK Computer for exactly that reason.  Fat of the Land actually held up pretty well, on the whole.  The main problem was that our manager decided that "Smack My Bitch Up" was not appropriate to be played across the shop, so every time it came on, everyone dropped whatever they were doing and the nearest person to the CD player had to dive across the counter and hit skip.  This continued for a while, then I innocently enquired if our CD player was like every other CD player in the world and could, in fact, be programmed.  It could.  I programmed it.  I kind of missed the adrenaline rush.  Can you remember when "Firestarter" was considered in some way a threat to society?

Stay Together” / “Sleeping Pills” – Suede

I've only seen Suede once live; at Glastonbury in 1993.  They were really good.  Now that they've been back together and performing for 4 years, I should probably pull my finger out and see them again.  Some friends of mine saw them performing "Dog Man Star" at the Albert Hall last Sunday, and by all accounts they were superb.  It's an album that will always remind me of living in Venice.  Apparently they don't play the full version of "Stay Together" live very often (if at all), but they played it on Sunday to an ecstatic crowd.  Lucky them.  I just bought the first two records on vinyl and they sound magnificent.

Do You Remember the First Time?” - Pulp

One of my team has been dating a guy she met on eHarmony.  It's been about five weeks and tonight is apparently their eighth date.  He's pulled all the stops out by booking a decent restaurant and by asking her to come round to his so they can travel into town together.  Of course, what this really means is that he's asking her to stay the night, and that tonight it's on, for the very first time in their budding relationship.  She's been bouncing around the office all day with excitement and nerves, and it's been lovely to watch.  My wife finds it hysterical that my team tell me these sorts of things, but I like that they do and actually I feel kind of nervous for her.  As Pulp say in this song, can you remember a worse time?  It's exciting but so awkward and fumbling and I'm not sure I'd want to be back there again.  You probably just need to get it out of the way, right?  Still, if things don't go well, there's always another song by Jarvis that seems apt: "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time".

Helplessness Blues” – Fleet Foxes

Quite a departure from the more choral stuff on their first album, but the second album by the Fleet Foxes is quite beautiful too.

Beat It” – Michael Jackson

One of my oldest friends and I disagree on Michael Jackson. When this song popped up on the stereo at our dinner party the other day, he promptly despatched his wife to skip tracks.  As I was literally in the middle of a conversation with someone about what a good song this is.... definitely in my MJ top 3... I wasn't having that, stood up and put it back on.  It's my party, etc.  At the very least, there are ways of going about it, eh?
It's a classic!

Happiness” - Pharrell

I defy you not to be uplifted by this.  It may actually be impossible.

New York Morning” – Elbow

I'm seeing Elbow on Monday night and very much looking forward to it because their new album is a corker.  Are there many better lyricists than lovely Guy Garvey?

Antenna up and out into New York
Somewhere in all that talk is all the answers
And oh, my giddy aunt, New York can talk
It's the modern Rome where folk are nice to Yoko

Fantastic band.  Seemingly getting better and better.  Plus, as I discovered the other week, Garvey is exactly one day older than me.  I think I've aged better, to be honest.... but he's perhaps more successful.  It depends how you're keeping score....

Harvester of Sorrow” / “Blackened” - Metallica

As the party wore on last week, the number of people in our private room at the hotel slowly dwindled. By about midnight, we were down to the hardcore and all the women had left.  So what did we do?  We drank bourbon and put on Metallica.  I bought "....And Justice For All" when I was about 13 or 14 years old.  On cassette.  It sounded epic then and it sounds pretty good now.  On Saturday night, in the company of three or four of the guys I used to sit and listen to this album with back in 1988, it just felt right.  I was apologetic to the hotel on Monday, when they asked me if everything had gone okay, and said I hoped we weren't too noisy.  Not a single complaint, apparently.  I suppose that means that, even after a lot of drinking, we're old enough and polite enough to keep the volume down and the door shut. It was a fantastic night.... and what a band to finish with.

Right.  That's your lot.  Have a good weekend, y'all.