My true love has given me quite a few things so far to help me celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. I’m not quite sure what to do with todays gift of 8 maids a milking; any suggestions? In reality though the milk maid was replaced by industrial milking machines many years ago. Back in 1995 there were 35,741 dairy farmers in the UK, in 2011 there were only 14,793. Surely we are consuming at least as much milk as in 1995 though, aren’t we? Maybe these farmers just own bigger farms and dairy herds these days. I have a tenuous connection to the UK dairy industry as my Dad was a milkman for nearly 30 years. I worked as his milk boy from 1970 to 1975. As for todays songs, well let’s just say I am very satisfied indeed with my choices. Firstly I bring you a classic from what is in my opinion an unsung band, the marvellous Be Bop Deluxe with “Maid In Heaven”. The song featured on the bands ‘Futurama’ album from 1975. It was later used as the lead track on the Hot Valves EP and under that guise it reached number 36 in the UK singles chart. The band was formed in 1972 in Wakefield, Yorkshire and the only constant member was leader and guitar hero Bill Nelson. It was Nelson that wrote “Maid In Heaven”. Paul Jeffreys was the bands bass player for a short time in the mid 70s. He also played with Cockney Rebel, the Warm Jets and the Electric Eels. He sadly lost his life aged just 36 as a passenger on Pan Am flight 103 which was brought down over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. Today’s second song comes from what I would consider to be another unsung band, although they did shine quite brightly from 1995 to the early ‘noughties’. Butch Vig, producer of the seminal Nirvana album ‘Nevermind’ was trying to put a band together during 1994 and decided that he would like to try things with a female vocalist. He and his friend Duke Erikson were shown a video of Shirley Manson singing with Angelfish and decided that she might be perfect for the band that became Garbage. I believe they were very much correct. The track I have selected is, rather obviously, “Milk” from the bands eponymously titled début album from 1995. (Hmmmmm, 1995 eh? Did Garbage precipitate the demise of the UK Dairy industry?) It was the fifth single to be released from that album, following “Vow”, “Only Happy When It Rains”, “Queer” and “Stupid Girl”. The album made it to number 6 in the UK and number 20 in the US, it did make it to the top of the chart in New Zealand though. The single of the song reached number 10 in the UK in late 1996 but failed to make the top 100 in the USA. It wasn’t the bands highest UK chart placing, they had five other top 10 hits. It did marginally climb higher than their James Bond theme song “The World Is Not Enough” from 1999, which stalled at number 11. The song is Shirley Manson’s favourite from the album and was written by Shirley, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker. Some versions of the song feature some vocals from UK trip hop maestro Tricky. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P99KwIZlsVY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALuZRsFaXas
Tags: Angelfish, Be Bop Deluxe, Bill Nelson, Butch Vig, Christmas, Cockney Rebel, Dairy, Duke Erikson, Electric Eels, Futurama, Garbage, Hot Valves EP, Maid In Heaven, Milk, New Zealand, Nirvana, Only Happy When It Rains, Paul Jeffreys, Queer, Shirley Manson, Steve Marker, Stupid Girl, Tricky, Trip Hop, UK Singles Chart, United States, Vow, Wakefield, Warm Jets
Tags: Admiral Nelson, Aston Martin, Be Bop Deluxe, Bill Nelson, Boris Johnson, Burt Bacharach, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, Disney, Disney Pixar, Fatback Band, Gary Numan, Guardian, Hal David, HMS Victory, James Bond, Jonathan Trappe, Nancy Sinatra, Nick Clegg, Pixar, Reg Varney, Routemaster, Sandie Shaw, Sir Norman Foster, Times, Trafalgar Square, Up, Yinka Shonibare
This post has a very loose transport theme based on a few news stories that I have read over the last couple of weeks. They all relate to a slightly different form of transport too. There are cars (well a lack of them actually), Tube Trains, Buses, a ship and balloons! is that last one just me being full of hot air? Well read on to find out is what I would suggest.
Firstly in a very admirable move David Cameron has banned the use of chauffeur driven cars by MPs, ministers have been told that they must use second class rail travel. Well at least they will learn how bad the rail services actually are, like us normal people who use trains almost every day. However it has become it a bit of a farce as instructions are that for security reasons MPs red boxes must travel in a separate car. When some MPs asked if they were allowed to travel with their boxes they were denied. Perhaps Dangerous Dave should get his bag carrier Naughty Nick to carry the boxes. Read all about it in this article from the Guardian
“Cars” – Gary Numan (He could have just as easily fitted into an aeroplane story too)
Next up we have a ship, not just any ship but actually a model of Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory. But not just any model either, it’s actually in a bottle. But not just any bottle, it’s actually a giant bottle. It’s not on any old mantlepiece either, it’s actually on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. Not just any Trafalgar Square though, well actually it is just the old Trafalgar Square. It is a piece of art by artist Yinka Shonibare. It is a scale model of HMS Victory which uses African fabric for its sails. Read all about it here in another article from the Guardian.
“Ships In The Night” – Be Bop Deluxe (a band led by the appropriately named Bill Nelson)
Thirdly there is the rather excellent news that those bloody awful bendy buses are being phased out in London. They’re being replaced by a new version of the classic Routemaster bus which for me was always a true London symbol. It has been designed by architect Sir Norman Foster and Aston Martin, what a superb combination that is! Does this prove that Boris Johnson actually has some redeeming features? Probably not and definitely not if you’re a Liverpudlian. Read all about it here in an article in the Guardi……….. ok in the interests of impartiality read about it in this article in the Mail OnLine, the newspaper that is more right wing than the BNP. (Well just because I’m trying to be impartial doesn’t mean I have to like it.
“(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop” – Fatback Band (It has to be 30 years since I last heard this, what a top tune!)
Finally Jonathan Trappe crossed the English Channel in a chair carried by masses of balloons. Apparently this is called cluster ballooning. He flew from Kent and eventually landed in a cabbage patch in France. The whole thing is very reminiscent of the wonderful Disney Pixar movie ‘Up’. Well I suppose it beat’s beardy Branson and all his hot air and balloon escapades. But it made me wonder, what about all the dudes who sell helium balloons in shopping precincts at weekends and in school holidays, do they wear divers boots or something? Read all about it here in an article from the Times (see I’m still doing the impartial stuff)
“My Beautiful Balloon” – Nancy Sinatra (Just how camp are the dancers in this video?)
And let’s end with a song that sums all this up, it’s Sandie Shaw with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Trains And Boats And Planes”
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