Friday 16 August 2013

And tighten your buttocks, pour juice on your chin...

Earworms of the Week

Manfred Mann - "5-4-3-2-1"

I can't be the only person who remembers this as a chocolate bar from the 1980s, can I?  It had it's own theme song and everything.

First bite into real milk chocolate (5-4-3-2-1)
Then crunch into light crispy rice.... (5-4-3-2-1)
Chew, chew chew caramel tofee... (5-4-3-2-1)
Wafer and fondent too! (5-4-3-2-1)
The packed lunch favourite...(5-4-3-2-1)

I've been listening to the *real* version of this song this week.  In my head, Manfred Mann are a kind of disposable pop group.  Sure, they were around forever.... but at the start they were a sort-of Beatles-lite, weren't they?  Listening to this though, I'm not so sure of my assumptions.  Sure, it's two minutes worth of pretty harmless pop, but if you listen a little closer, then you realise how bluesy it all sounds, with the harmonica and all that.  I suppose bands in those days were mostly proper bands, eh?  I hate to sound like an old man, but most of today's acts in the hit parade have their backing music selected for them from a library on a computer, don't they?  Tsk.  Things ain't what they used to be.  Also, listening to the lyrics of this song, I'm not 100% convinced they've got the Greeks and Trojans the right way around, but perhaps that's just me too.

Theme to Eastenders

I haven't watched Eastenders in anger for about twenty years.  Quite why this should pop into my head on such a regular basis is an ongoing mystery.  Now, the Anita Dobson version I could understand.... I listen to that several times a day.  You too?  Shall we have a little sing-song?  Ready?  "Anyone can fall in love...."

No?  Suit yourself.  You're missing an epic guitar solo, for one thing.  "How do you keep the music from dying?"  I think it just did, love.

Elbow - "Fugitive Motel"

Still probably my favourite Elbow song.  It's on their second album, but in lots of ways I think it foreshadows several of the songs on their breakthrough, "The Seldom Seen Kid".  It's a beautiful song, with a lovely hint of self-deprecation ("I'm admired", I said, "You always look tired, she said")  Have I listened to it recently?  No.  Am I complaining that this has popped into my head?  Absolutely not.  Always welcome.  Better than bloody crappy tv themes, anyway.

Iron Maiden - "Aces High"

I saw a clip from their Donington performance the other day, and it included the spitfire flypast that opened their set.  I know that, on this tour, they've rigidly been sticking to the same setlist and playing "Moonchild" when they come onto the stage..... but surely to goodness they'll never get a better chance than an actual bloody spitfire buzzing the stage to come on and take the crowd up to fever pitch by opening with "Aces High" instead?  Well, they did play it eventually, taking the time to give a shout out to the guys who did the flyover, and it sounded GREAT.  I was slogging my way through a particularly hot and arduous run last weekend when this song came up on shuffle and really helped me drag myself through that arduous last 400m.  Aces High-AYE!  Brilliant.

The Avalanches - "Frontier Psychiatrist"

Another song that I haven't listened to for ages, but listening to it again this week, I realised how much the sampled phrases to this have sunk into my everyday conversation.  I say things like, "You're a nut! You're crazy in the coconut!" all the time.  At least that can generally make sense within the context of a normal conversation.  More than "and he also made false teeth", anyway.

Simple Minds - "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

For reasons mostly lost in the mists of time, I don't like Simple Minds.  It has very little to do with their music, anyway.  The prejudice lingers on and, as I get older, I can't help but feel that the vehemence of the automatic emotion far outweighs any of the band's perceived musical crimes.  Still, what can I do?  This one is alright, obviously, but even hearing ten seconds of it makes me think it's just an enormous cliche.  I don't even know why I've been thinking about this over the course of this week, but for some reason I have.  Go figure.  I gave up trying to work out why my brain plays any given song at any given moment some time ago.  I wouldn't say I exist in a state of perpetual resignation about the playlist on my internal jukebox.... not perpetual.  I rage against it from time to time.  And anyway, sometimes it plays a good one.

Bjork - "It's Oh So Quiet"

I put it to you, dear reader, that if this song was performed by any other singer in the whole world, it wouldn't be as good as it is when Bjork does it.  Somehow, her crazy, idiosyncratic singing style just fits this song perfectly.  So good.  Made me want to dig out "Debut", actually, which I haven't listened to in many years.  It's a lot more restrained than this song, clearly, but when she puts her mind to it, she can sound amazing.  What a breath of fresh air she was, back in the day.

The Stranglers - "Golden Brown"

I was listening to this song the other day, and my wife asked me if I'd heard the version the band did with the London Sinfonietta at the 6Music Prom the other day.  No, but apparently it was awful.  Funnily enough, when I had my hair cut this afternoon, they played it on the radio.  It sounded terrible.  Out of tune with honking nonsense behind it.  Shame really as it's a great song.  I think I'm right in saying that it's played in an unusual time signature or something, although I'm not sure that's an especially good excuse for an orchestra to make... or for the band that have been playing it for 35 years.

Led Zeppelin - "Immigrant Song"

Because of the viking kittens.  Still essential viewing after a decade.

Seriously. How could that be bettered?

Luther Vandross - "Never Too Much"

You know that thing where you have to leave the house and the very last thing you hear on the radio is the thing that is going to be stuck in your head, no matter how hard you try to shift it?  It's probably also always true that the song in question will also always be a dreadful one.  Yeah?  You know that?



Have a great weekend, y'all.  A thousand kisses for you!


  1. Although I adore Bjork, I have to give the Oh So Quiet title to its founder, Betty Hutton, in 1951. She's every bit as manic, and the era just makes it more deliciously mad:

  2. That's a good call, Petal. I do like the Bjork version, but at least my ignorance has been duly corrected and I can acknowledge that her (Bjork's) version is hardly a bolt from the blue. Thanks for the link!

  3. although i admire your advert lyric recall (i'm assuming you didn't find it online), i will not stand for ANY DISSING OF LUTHER VANDROSS!

    absolute legend, joyful voice, sang on the early Chic recordings and organised/arranged all the vocalists for the sessions.

    also literally ate all the pies whilst working on Young Americans (admittedly Bowie had no use for them as he was on his milk+peppers+cocaine diet at the time).

    anyway, Never Too Much is a TUUNE! you'll be telling me you don't like Earth, Wing & Fire next...

  4. I'm protesting too much, Steve, and you're right to call me on it. It was stuck in my head because it's an AMAZING record! (54321 advert lyrics are helpfully in the YouTube upload of the advert!)

  5. thanks for not pulling me up on the HAND-SPAM of Earth, WING and Fire - although maybe there's an opening for a tribute act in there - combining a Sub-Pop slow-core act, Paul McCartney's "band The Beatles could've been", and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown...

    hmm, possibly too niche