Friday 5 April 2013

I never thought I’d need so many people…

Earworms of the Week

Jimmy Ruffin – “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

One of those songs that I imagine that everybody knows, almost on a subconscious level. I haven’t heard it in years, but the second it began to play on the radio as I was getting ready for work, I knew I was doomed to have this echoing around my head for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing, you understand. Could be a lot worse, that’s for sure. Ooooh ooooh ooooh, etc.

Eels – “Climbing to the Moon

The Guardian used to run a column called “Readers Recommend” where we were given a theme each week and readers then posted up suggestions for an imaginary playlist. The twist is that a song could only be used once, and there was an ever-growing list of the songs that had already been used in previous columns. I found it a bit cliquey, to be honest, and unless you were prepared to hang around for the new column to be published in the small hours of Friday morning, then you would log on and find hundreds of comments already there with people desperate to put their towels down on either the most obvious or the most painfully obscure references. Anyway. My claim to fame was the week they did “songs that make you cry”. I got there late but got in with this as my suggestion… and I made the final list. Back of the net. Anyway. It’s a beautiful song. Eels played Rock City the other week actually, but sadly I had to surrender my ticket as I was still in Canada. Shame. Good band, and I’ve been listening to some of their back catalogue this week. I like that E generally eschews the obvious and has clearly been following his own muse.  This is such a beautiful record.

Iron Maiden – “2 Minutes to Midnight

My love of Maiden is well documented, but this particular song is in my head this week because I’ve been playing “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” on my iPad. It’s a faithful port of the playstation classic, and it works really well on a tablet. One of the joys is cruising down the highway in a car you’ve carjacked off some poor sap, listening to the radio stations of Vice City. I found myself nodding along to a bit of vintage Bryan Adams the other day, a little to my surprise… my favourite station is predictably VRock, and they do like a bit of Maiden on there. As I conduct drive-by shootings and deal in hard drugs, so do I. So do I.

The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio

I’ll admit that I much prefer “Boxer” to “High Violet”, but I was listening to the latter this week and thinking that it’s probably about time that this lot put out something new. It’s been three years. How long do they need, for goodness sake!?

The Stranglers – “Strange Little Girl

I actually came to this song through the Tori Amos cover (which I also love), but I gave the Stranglers a listen whilst I was reading my book at home the other day. My Stranglers MP3s are ripped from a CD that I picked up in a bargain bin at Our Price in Milton Keynes in about 1991. The bin was full of CDs with no cases or inlays, and I picked up 4, each one being sold for £1. The four I picked up? Stranglers Greatest Hits, Marvin Gaye Greatest Hits, Radioactivity by Kraftwerk and an album of tunes played on a Wurlitzer organ. True story. Until iTunes came along and I ripped them (well, all bar that last one, anyway), I didn’t even know the tracklistings or album names. That sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore does it. How can it? We don’t even have record shops any more….

Richard Hawley – “Open Up Your Door

There’s an article in the Guardian today about the Longpigs – of which Richard Hawley was famously a member… not that I can ever remember him being there, as it was really all about Crispin Hunt, wasn’t it?  That said, Hawley’s brand of gentle, lush, melancholic, retro crooning is an absolute joy too… albeit somewhat different from the joys of songs like “She Said” or “On and On”. An excellent album to have on when you’re curled up reading a book of an evening, actually.

R.E.M. – “Walk Afraid

Later period R.E.M. and absolutely none the worse for that. I find it a little strange to imagine that a band as, well, ARTY as this ever occupied the slot as the biggest band in the world, which they undoubtedly were in the wake of “Losing my Religion” and throughout “Automatic for the People and into “Monster”. Incredible. Such a good band, too.

Billy Bragg – “All You Fascists Are Bound to Lose

Billy Bragg’s riposte to the news of Paulo Di Canio’s appointment as the manager of Sunderland. Pretty much perfect. I had a slightly odd conversation about this with some colleagues of mine on the way to a meeting the other day. They had made the automatic assumption that fascist = racist and that you couldn’t be one without the other, and I told them that it wasn’t quite that straightforward and we ended up having a little chat about the history of Fascism in Italy and how it harked back to the formation of the Italian state and a romantic view of the time of the Roman Empire and was subsequently hijacked by Mussolini. My colleagues looked at me a little strangely and then remembered my past life as a historian and then shook their heads sadly and went back to talking about football.

Paul Simon – “I Know What I Know

After years of vaguely lamenting that I never got round to ripping “Graceland” onto my iPod, I actually got off my arse and ripped the CD. After years of having them in a scramble, I love the fact that I now have my CD collection back up and filed in a logical way (not purely alphabetical, obviously). My man cave is AWESOME.

David Bowie – “Five Years

You can’t escape Bowie at the moment, so I won’t go on and on about him… suffice it to say that I watched a fantastic documentary about the making of Ziggy Stardust on BBC4 last weekend, and it was brilliant. It’s easy to forget what 1970s Britain was like and how David Bowie was so far out there with this stuff that he really was like an alien from another world. To be honest, my lasting memory of the documentary isn’t really this song, it’s the footage of Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits singing “Oh! You Pretty Things” on Top of the Pops and he has clearly not the first idea what he’s singing about…. I also liked the bit where Mick Rock, the photographer, talks about how Bowie essentially invented glam, but it really took off in the UK when he was touring in the USA, and when he came back, people like Slade and Wizzard were all over the charts. He paused when he said that and sadly reflected that you don’t find many references to Baudelaire in the lyrics to “Cum on Feel the Noize”. Well, no.  Quite.

Have a good weekend, y’all. Funny how short weeks often feel the longest, eh?

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