Friday, 27 January 2006

tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty

Well. This Friday seems to have taken even longer than usual to come around. I'm on holiday next week (more details on that tomorrow), and because I am away from the office for 5 days, I have of course had to do 10 days work this week.... very relaxing....

Anyway.

I briefly made myself happy this morning when I managed to get hold of tickets for me, C. and Mark to go and see Morrissey at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in May this year. The old bugger has got a new album coming out in the spring, and he puts on a hell of a good show when he puts his mind to it. Something to look forward to.

As I'm sure you will all know, buying tickets online can sometimes be a stressful experience as a large number of people converge on a small number of websites that are painfully ill-equipped to deal with the demand. I had the usual 5 or 10 minutes of hitting the 'refresh' button, but without too much hassle, I got through, bagged some tickets and completed my transaction. Bingo. Seats B31-33 in the Circle. Confirmation email arrives and I get on with my day.

You'd think that would be it; job done. Sit back and wait until May.

No.

Three hours later I get an email telling me the transaction has been cancelled. After making some phonecalls (and I'm not through with them just yet), it turns out that the agency had some kind of a problem when they went to take payment off the card. This had nothing to do with my card or my bank, and everything to do with their systems being overloaded. Instead of holding the tickets and adding my name to a list of people who would need to be contacted on the mobile phone numbers the application form had so specifically asked for, they were released and resold. The gig has sold out, and I am left with nothing. There's not much the agency can say to me really, they can apologise all they want, but what I really want is 3 tickets to go to that gig. I'm on the waiting list, but I'm not holding my breath. Just to annoy myself, I looked it up on Ebay. £250 for a pair of tickets.

Scum.

Enough about me and my problems eh? (although what kind of blog would this be if that were true? I reckon that if more bloggers thought like that, there would be a whole lot less blogs in the world... that's for sure.... and most of the ones that remained would be about knitting)

This week's Guest Editor has been on my radar for a little while, but due to a move in blog address and my inability to make my bloglines feed work properly, I've only been reading sporadically. That's all changing as part of my new year manifesto item to "Get Out More", and as a direct result of that....

Ladies and Gentleworms, I am proud to present for your earworming pleasure....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #33 - Lithaborn

This would have been difficult before Christmas, as the only music I listened to on the move was Radio 2, but delight of delight, I am now the proud owner of a lovely MP3 player.

Now, I know this is supposed to be a list of the songs that reverberate around my brain on a daily basis, but I'm hoping our generous host will allow me some latitude, as I think a list consisting of "Bob the Builder", "Pokemon", Nickelodeon's slightly sinister "The Jimmer Jammers" (one of those evil songs designed to tell kids that the channel's shutting down and it's time for bed) and so on would be exceptionally dull - as would ten explanations which go no further than "Bloody kids TV".

Instead, this week's Auricular Vermitude will consist of the tracks that regularly get uploaded to my MP3 player, and of course, the sometimes slightly dodgy reasons why...

10) Blind - Korn

Picture the scene: A dancefloor filled with long haired, sweaty individuals who have just headbanged and moshed their tits off to any number of heavy metal greats - Pantera, Sepultura, Metallica, Rage Against The Machine...

And then everything goes deathly quiet.

Into the ringing silence comes the incessant tishtishtishtish of cymbals, underpinned with that tense, coiled bassline... duduududuuududu....duduududuududuu...

We wait. We know what's coming next...

Jarring lead guitar spikes short riffs into the middle of the mounting percussion...

And Jonathan Davis growls the three little words we've been waiting for:

" Are You Readyyyyy"

A pause of a single beat, then the noise hits like thunder. We rock out like motherfuckers.

Best. Intro. Ever.

9) Kandy Pop - Bis

I don't have a love of Jap-pop to defend my enjoyment of this song, I don't know anyone in the band, I've never been to a concert, I've never bought an album of theirs, but for some reason, this keeps finding its way back onto my MP3 Player.

It's just one wonderfully trivial and silly slice of proper saccharine pop that just pushes all the right buttons. I can't even be cerebral and philosophical about it, it's just a great romp of a track!

8) Summertime - Miles Davis

I've had a long love affair with jazz, ever since I first taped "Take Five", Dave Brubeck's best known piece, off Jimmy Saville's "Pick of the pops" one Sunday afternoon way back in the mists of time. Since then, I've been enchanted by a genre of music that seems like it speaks right to my soul.

Live Jazz is best, of course. The first Jazz act I caught live was Stan Tracey's Big Band. It was in two parts - the first was made up of a suite inspired by the first book of the Bible and was in all fairness artsy modern plinky-plonky crap. The second half of the night, however, was a pure treat. A full hour of Duke Ellington numbers that fairly blew everyone away. To say I was sold would be an understatement.

It's true to say that I have many favourites that I could have written about. It's even true to say that Miles Davis isn't my all-time favourite Jazz musician - that honour is reserved for the Bird himself, Charlie Parker. But when I first heard this track, I knew I could listen to it forever.

The first bar of this track has been known to take my breath away and make my knees buckle. It really is that good.

Davis's command of his art is indisputable at the best of times, but on this track he outdoes himself.

Sublime. 'Nuff said.

7) Oh Bondage Up Yours - X-Ray Spex

"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard, but I think... "

I was born ten years too late. The sheer raw energy of acts like the Pistols, UK Subs, X-Ray Spex just blows me away everytime I listen to it, and this track just typifies everything I love about the genre. Anarchy, conflict, passion, subversion.

True, there's other Punk songs I love - I mean, one does not attend a four day festival purely because the Pistols are playing unless you seriously love their work - But there's just something about Oh Bondage that works for me. Is it Poly Styrene's vocal stylings? Is it the slightly out of place sax? Is it the ever so subtle lyrics?

Yes, frankly.

6) Dub Be Good To Me - Beats International

I love the Housemartins. From the sharp social comment of Sheep to the tight a capella treat of Caravan of Love, the boys from Hull defined late 80's pop for me.

As a result, I have a lot of time for the lads' subsequent projects. Lead singer Paul Heaton formed The Beautiful South and took satirical music making to a whole other level, heavily loading sublime tunes with biting commentaries. And Norman Cook reinvented himself as the master DJ we know him as today.

As a rule I don't have any time for this kind of music, but my affection for Cook's roots helps me connect with his more recent work. And Dub Be Good To Me stuck in my head from the very first time I heard it - to such an extent that to this day it is still the only piece of dance music I have actually gone out and purchased.

5) Spiralling - Erasure

It's 1987 and I'm heavy petting my first girlfriend in her room.

This album - The Circus - is our soundtrack.

This track brings back sweet memories of more innocent days, my first summer of love, and on the remix album, they re-recorded it with a full orchestra replacing the already perfectly good synth. It made a great song even better.

It's the story (surely autobiographical) of someone who feels the oh so familiar pain of young love lost, locking himself in his room and contemplating his own mortality:

" Were you to weep
And lie at my feet
Then you'd wash all
My troubles away
And imagine the host
Of angels around me
That give me the courage to die"

Oh, who hasn't been there, eh? Ah memories...

4) New York State Of Mind - Billy Joel

Another one from the mists of time, this, and an even more revealing and embarrassing story than taping stuff played by Jimmy Saville.

I first heard this song on a Muppet Show album. Oh yes folks, Zoot, the beat Sax chappie contributed this wonderful number, and well, it was such a huge difference from the rest of the silly nonsense on the album that I couldn't help but sit up and take notice.

The words, at the time, spoke to me of the isolation and soulfulness filling my own life and I took it on as my own private anthem:

"It was so easy living day by day...Out of touch from the rhythm and blues...Now I need a little give and take...The New York Times, the Daily News...

Come down to reality, and it's fine with me 'cos I let it slide..."

That's me man, that me right there.

Nice.

3) Dignity - Deacon Blue

I have a lot of respect for Scottish Pop: Texas, Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet, et al. These bands form a link through my mid to late teens, forming the soundtrack to the most angst ridden time of my life, and this one track, Dignity, talks to me of aspiration, of holding on to a little dream no matter how unlikely you might be to succeed:

"he packs his lunch in a "sunblest" bag
the children call him "bogie"
he never lets on
but i know 'cause he once told me
he let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
he's gonna buy a dinghy
gonna call her dignity"

It's a fine reminder that even the lowest members of society still deserve some respect.

2) I Believe In A Thing Called Love - Hayseed Dixie

I can't stand the Darkness, but this cover just got stuck in my brain and won't ever leave.

Hayseed Dixie are a cajun AC/DC tribute band and you really need to just listen to some of their work. Wonderful fun from a great bunch of guys.

1) Tadzungaria - Forward Kwenda

I discovered this track on a trawl of the file sharing networks shortly after I bought myself an Mbira - a traditional African instrument made up of metal tines bound to a wooden sounding board - anything from a flat piece of wood to a hollowed out gourd. It's played with the thumbs and produces a sound like no other instrument.

Tadzungaria is an ancient Zimbabwean prayer to the ancestors to stop all suffering in the world:

"We are wondering, lost souls in this world, Chaminuka and those spirits under please guide us"

According to one website, Mbira music has the power to "change the state of the performers and listeners...much like ancient chants and sacred music" - and listening to this track, it's easy to see why.

**

Thanks again ST. I think I've said more about my youth than ever before here.

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Thanks very much mate - a good diverse list there. Jazz? Mmmm. Nice.

No Guest Editor next week, but maybe something the week after that, eh? What do you say? You up for it?

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham]

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It's just struck me how much the "extra" track on "Luxembourg" by the Bluetones reminds me of our very own Flash and GnuCnu - only flash does it better, of course!

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