Friday 22 August 2008

Answering your mystical call....

Earworms of the Week

A slightly-more-embarrassing-than-usual edition of this weekly feature.... and that really is saying something. Well, it's not my job to censor what's been in my head, only to report it. Think of me as one of those reporters embedded on the front-line and wearing a helmet and flak jacket. It's not pretty here, but someone has to take the responsibility to tell the world what's really going on.

> "Feelgood Inc." - Gorillaz

This one may have crept in as the Damon Albarn composed "Monkey: Journey to the West" theme has been used by the BBC as the opening credits to their coverage of the Olympics, along with a rather nifty Jamie Hewlett animation of Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy. It's only a short step from here to the soundtrack to the "Monkey" TV programme, but thus far I've been able to resist it. It's based on a 16th Century Chinese novel, of course, thought to have written by Wú Chéng'ēn. Sounds a bit like a Chinese Pilgrim's Progress to me, but will always be accompanied in my head to the image of a bloke with massive sideburns riding on a pink cloud. Anyway. I think I like the second Gorillaz album a lot more than the first. It seems to be a lot more coherent as a whole. Having said that, it also features a couple of really strong singles, including this. If I remember correctly, I that think someone not very far from here has a parent called "Phil Goode", and I should imagine that this is a lot more persistent an earworm in their head than it is in mine. If I was them, I'd have this as my ringtone for him....

Mmm. Fizzy good make feel nice.

> "Hold the Line" - Toto

Cheesy MOR! YES!

> "Phantom of the Opera" / "Hallowed Be Thy Name" - Iron Maiden

I've been listening to a couple of Iron Maiden tribute albums this week. I picked one of them up from the front of a Kerrang magazine celebrating the band's recent gig at Twickenham, and it features lots of fairly current metal acts like Avenge Sevenfold and Metallica. The second is older and features covers by people like Steve Overland, Doogie White and -- a bit tragically -- Paul Di'Anno, the original Iron Maiden vocalist. Actually, it's the Di'Anno tracks that stand out, and he does "Iron Maiden", "Wrathchild" and "Phantom of the Opera" with even more fury than he did on the original recordings. Anyway, as with most cover versions, they've sent me scurrying back to the originals. I'm not a massive fan of "Hallowed be they name" on the whole, but there's no denying that it's powerful, and "Phantom of the Opera" will always remind me of Daley Thompson exploding onto a running track in a Lucozade advert, but that's surely no bad thing?

> "Golden Brown" - The Stranglers

Beautiful song. Apparently Hugh Cornwall -- who has a new album out -- is a touch embittered about the fact that he is remembered principally for his work in a band that threw him out. I can sort of understand that, but at least he's remembered for something. I prefer "No More Heroes", but this is a keeper.

> Theme to Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Along with Mike, Sarah and C, I attended the pub quiz hosted by Nottingham's very own Mr Sex on Wednesday night. It was a great quiz - not one of those brewery jobs, but one where a great deal of care and attention had clearly been put into every round. There were two music rounds, one of which featured tv theme tunes played backwards. Now, some people can pick out music played backwards with ease, but I'm not one of those people and was generally pretty useless. One song stood out for me though, with a very characteristic driving drum beat. It was one of those ones where I was simply relieved when I at least identified the song that I thought it was - whether or not that song happened to be the right answer. It was the right answer, as it turns out. Good theme tune. Nice and rocky. I had no recollection of there being a voiceover at the beginning though, and that nearly threw us. I should also probably mention at this point that Mike got the theme to Crossroads almost immediately....

> "We Didn't Start the Fire" - Billy Joel

Billy Joel apparently doesn't think much of this, but I think this is such a clever song. It's a good idea, for one thing, but I can barely imagine how much effort Joel had to put into his lyrics to get them to flow so well:

"little rock, pasternak, mickey mantle, kerouac
Sputnik, chou en-lai, bridge on the river kwai
lebanon, charles de gaulle, california baseball Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide"

LB always says that this is the song he uses as the foundation of his knowledge of the order of heavyweight boxing champions of the world and the year the won / lost their title. Actually, the lyrics are a pretty handy pocket guide to the history of the twentieth century full-stop, and have probably served lots of people well in pub quizzes and games of Trivial Pursuit over the years.

> "Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay / "Cemetry Gates" - The Smiths

I had "Viva La Vida" on in the car the other day, and I gave it a proper listen for the first time in a few weeks. I'm a fan, of course, but is it me or has Chris Martin really been working on his lyrics since "X&Y"? Yes, "Soldiers you've got to soldier on" isn't exactly brilliant, but this isn't too shabby:

"So we rode down to the river where the toiling ghosts spring,
For their curses to be broken…

We’d go underneath the arches where the witches are in the saying,

There are ghost towns in the ocean…
The ocean…

He does seem to be writing as though he was an eighteenth century poet, but it's a lot better and a bit more mystical than in the past, and I like it. It's more cryptic.

Mind you, talk of cemeteries and lyrical dexterity brings a really great lyricist to mind.... he might not be able to spell, but no one touches Morrissey for lyrical wit and dexterity, surely?

"So we go inside and we gravely read the stones
All those people, all those lives

Where are they now ?
With loves, and hates And passions just like mine
They were born
And then they lived
And then they died

It seems so unfair
I want to cry"

Who says the Smiths are a depressing band? Just listen to the playfulness of both words and music....

> "Too Much Love Will Kill You" - Brian May


The other music round in Wednesday's quiz featured songs played on a bontempi organ. Some were more obvious than others, but I recognised the melody of one of them immediately. I couldn't place my finger on exactly what it was, but I knew the song well enough to sing the tune ahead of the recording. I knew it. Female diva. Husky voice. Not Dion or Carey or any of that lot. Possibly Streisand or something? I chewed on it for the rest of the evening until the answers were read out. You know who it was? It was only bloody Brian bloody May. On such little things are terminal earworms spawned. Now, perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but is Brian May singing about Freddie here, or what? He's being so cryptic that it's hard to tell....

Just as soon as none at all? Eh?


Not a patch on "Driven By You".

> "Devil Woman" - Cliff Richard

Played on a bontempi organ or not, there's no disguising the genius of some songs, and we all got this one within a few seconds (although, again, I should point out that Mike was onto it way faster than anyone else...)

"If you're out on a moonlit night
Be careful of them neighbourhood strays

Of a lady with long black hair

Tryin' to win you with her feminine ways

Crystal ball on the table

Showing the future,the past

Same cat with them evil eyes

You'd better get out of there fast!

I think this must be based on a true story and describes the events that put Sir Cliff off women for good. Or was that Una Stubbs? or is it about Una Stubbs? Only Cliff can say, and he's not telling...

Great record. My mum loves it. I used to listen to this on a tape in the car when I was a nipper, along with a tape by some chap called Peter Skellern ("brr brr brrr busy line!")

Like I say... when a song pops into your head and sets up camp, what can you do?

Have a good weekend y'all.

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