My beautiful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman is far more active than I am, so much so that she subscribes to Country Walking magazine and I subscribe to the sedentary Q and Mojo! Anyway which of those threw up the best and perhaps most musically related fact recently? You guessed it, none other than the December 2018 issue of Country Walking. So last weekend our American friends across the pond slipped their clocks back an hour, well most states did, Then in a couple of weeks the UK clocks go back an hour to hit British summertime. Why did we do that? Was it Farmers? Was it the postal service? Was it World War 1? Was it School Children? Actually it was none of those. In reality it was the brainchild of William Willett. His steadfast belief was that money was wasted by not changing; less productivity in the darker mornings and power for lighting in the evening. He also enjoyed playing golf in the evening so his campaign which hit pay-dirt in 1916, the year after his death was somewhat selfish.
I can almost hear you asking what the hell has this got to do with music? Well that William Willett bloke is none other than the great-great- grandfather of Chris Martin off of Coldplay. Of course and so appropriately Coldplay had a hit with a song called “Clocks”, which made the UK top 10 for the band in 2003.
So here we are once again and Nick Horslen and I have arrived at the Reading Festival site for the umpteenth year. I think it’s more than 10 years for us as a team. As for me I have missed only two from the last 20 years. I attended my first ever Reading in 1976 and got in through a hole in the fence, which doesn’t seem so easy to do nowadays. Today turned out to be the hottest day at the Festival for a few years; for the weather at least!
Wytches (why is there a new wave of making your band’s name appear to be from ye olde English language?) were first up they sound a little Doorsy and their guitar wig-outs were like a harder edged garage band. Pretty good though.
King No-one from Leeds were on the BBC Introducing stage; fans of Vampire Weekend maybe? I like these dudes.
Night Engine are channeling the vocal ghost of Billy McKenzie and answering the questions can gingers rock and can they funk? The answer in my opinion is fuck yeah! Irish band Kodaline come on like the bastard love sprogs of Bono and Chris Martin but with more balls! This band deserves to be HUGE!
If you want top performance power pop look no further than the fabulous Parquet Courts. Top band! So what were New Found Glory like? As the sign said ‘Pop Punk’s Not Dead! Right on. They played the whole of the Sticks and Stones’ album.
Next came our first visit to the comedy stage for the excellent Shappi Khorsandi and Idiots of Ants who weren’t so good. They weren’t really able to engage with the audience.
Does what it says on the tin no. 1; Frank Turner – mightily awesome! Although perhaps not as awesome as I have known him to be in the past. His Mum introduced him, which was a nice touch. He also had a Cobain moment as he was pushed on to the stage in a wheelchair; his Mum explained that he had a bad back, however he stayed in the chair for about a minute! Interestingly he got the whole of the Main Stage crowd, including us, to sit down for one of the choruses of “Photosynthesis” to which we all sang along. Now that is a little ironic given that the chorus starts with the line ‘I won’t sit down’
We met 3 thirds of the Tuts and half of Colour Me Wednesday outside the Festival Republic Stage! I saw the Tuts earlier this year when they supported Kate Nash and I am looking forward to seeing Colour Me Wednesday later this week in Leeds. If you are reading this post and you haven’t heard the Tuts or Colour Me Wednesday then I order you to do something about that!
Has Marc Bolan been reincarnated? Nope it’s the Temples on the Festival Republic stage! Kate Nash is supremely talented and after her set I am now an even bigger fan than I was when I saw her in York earlier this year. It was great to see Nadia Tut make it onstage eventually too! A brief note to the festival organisers; what is wrong with a bit of a stage invasion instigated by Kate herself? It would have been fun and no harm would have been done. But at least three people made it up.
System of a Down on the Main Stage; loud, heavy, technically superb but would I ever listen to them outside the confines of a festival? I doubt it. Does what it says on the tin number 2; Green Day. They were very, very good and certainly had more energy than last years Friday headliners the Cure. But in a way it is kind of identikit pop punk. They played the whole of the ‘Dookie’ album, which will be 20 years old next year. I felt that apart from a few songs it hasn’t aged well. “Basket Case” will always be a classic though. The light show was superb and Billie Joe‘s stage presence is unquestionably great. The best part for me was the storming encore of “American Idiot” (I do believe I will never tire of that song) and “Jesus Of Suburbia“. Then just when we thought it was all over Mr Armstrong came back on for a solo acoustic rendition of “Time Of Your Life”. All in all a pretty good day. Now bring on Day 2!
Apparently Paolo Di Canio the manager of Sunderland Football Club says he has improved his command of English by using a karaoke machine and listening to Oasis. So is his English better than it was? That is probably a definite maybe. Whilst his club may survive for another season in the Premiership I suspect that it is unlikely that they will live forever unless he really keeps his beady eye on the opposition; d’you know what I mean? The owners of the club have told Paolo to don’t look back in anger and to just roll with it!
XFM listeners recently took part in a poll to name the greatest front man of all time. So many great blokes to choose from and they went for Liam Gallagher. Now don’t get me wrong Liam has been very good in the past, particularly in the early days of Oasis, but the greatest front man of all time? I don’t think so. The full top 20 was;
It’s that time of year again, the annual celebration and all round back slap of the UK music industry that is the Brits. There are 46 nominees this year including Adele who comes to the party already the proud owner of six Grammys. In a slight departure from my live typing last year I am doing this from the recording of the show. This meant I was able to spend a great night with Catwoman and some of our best friends and their lovely daughter Amelia. (Incidentally if you’d like to read the blog I write monthly for Amelia just click here)
So on with the show. A great and bombastic opener, “Charlie” from Coldplay. As with last year the event is presented by James Corden. The little clips introducing the best album nominees began with Adele’s ’21’ which is appropriately enough the best-selling album in the UK so far this century. As expected there was a film montage in memory of Whitney Houston which preceded the live appearance of Florence and the Machine. I am always blown away by that girl’s voice and tonight was no exception with a superb performance of “No Light No Light”. She seemed encased in a white light prison at one point. A prism prison if you will!
The first award was for Best British Female, presented by the beautifully proportioned Kylie Minogue. Whilst I would have liked to have seen Kate Bush win it there was really no surprise to see Adele be announced as a very worthy winner. She gave a really amusing acceptance speech including suggesting that she felt like a drag queen next to Kylie. The Best International Male award was presented by Jessie J and Jack Whitehall (who the fuck is he?) The winner was Bruno Mars with a bouffant hair do that seemed to add about a foot to his stature. His thank you speech was probably the blandest and least controversial there has ever been at the Brits.
The next live act was Olly Murs with the Rizzle Kicks. This is a real dilemma for me, I love the Rizzle Kicks but Olly Murs voice makes me want to eat my cats vomit with a side order of fresh road kill. It was a big dance production of Olly’s “My Heart Skips A Beat” including an attempt at Murs robotic dancing. At least his Mum and Simon Cowell would be proud of him.
The Critics Choice award went to Emeli Sande and was known in advance, this was given to the wonderful Jessie J last year. Mr Ed Sheerhan was the next turn to take to the stage with a wonderfully sparse version of his superb song “Lego House”. Just how good was that? The next award was for Best British Single presented by the immensely talented Tinie Tempah. Sadly the winner was the rather insipid attempt at anthemic; “What Makes You Beautiful” from X Factor Pop Muppets One Direction. Did they get dressed in a James Bond costume shop?
Jenson Button was chosen to present the award for International Female, not for his musical talents presumably. Still he’d make a better James Bond than One Direction, probably a better singer too. The award went to Rihanna, possibly one of the sexiest women on the planet in my opinion. To make up spectacularly for Olly Murs Noel Gallagher appeared with his High Flying Birds with the stupendous “AKA What A Life” with Chris Martin off of Coldplay on keyboards. I think it’s now very clear that Noel was and is the more talented Gallagher brother.
Next was a tribute to Amy Winehouse. Quite fittingly interspersing some of her brilliant songs with some great interview clips all shown in black and white. Losing Whitney was very sad but losing Amy was a tragedy. Best British Male was the next gong and it was presented by the sharp dressed and edgy Plan B. The award went to Ed Sheerhan who has now ditched the green T Shirt for a suit and tie.
Huey Morgan and Jo Whiley presented the Best British Group award. This one has been taken home by Coldplay twice before (in 2001 and 2003) and this year they make it a third. It was voted for by BBC Radio Two listeners. A really sincere acceptance speech though. James Corden then interviewed, very briefly, Kylie Minogue. He really should stick to his day job! The stage was owned by Adele for the next live performance, a storming “Rolling In The Deep”. She looked stunning, I wonder if that pretentious twat Karl Lagerfeld was watching.
The International Group award was presented by two of the remaining members of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor. The Foo Fighters were very worthy winners and were the first recipients of the evening not able to be there to collect their award. They did supply a great little video clip though. Nicole Scherzinger was joined by none other than musical superstar, sorry I meant football superstar Cesc Fabregas to present the Best Breakthrough act award. It was the second of the night for Ed Sheerhan. An interesting acceptance speech, apparently his manager could do with a new sofa.
Bruno Mars performed “Just The Way You Are” dressed like a tuxedoed James Bond lookalike. Except that the hair is probably an explosive secret weapon presented to this pint-sized warbler by Bond Boffin Q. Then we had another awkward Corden interview, this time with the prepubescent One Direction. A bizarre pairing of Rob Brydon and Will.i.Am presented the Best International Breakthrough act which unsurprisingly went to the talented and somewhat astral Lana Del Ray. She also won the award for blubbiest acceptance speech of the night, but I do love her album.
“We Found Love” from Rihanna was a live performance to be reckoned with. Only she could make a kind of painters smock sexy whilst performing in front of a gang of dancing painter decorators. Her hair had grown immeasurably from her earlier appearance. Has she taken the same follicle elixir as Bruno Mars or was it just a really classy syrup?
Finally it came to Ray Winstone to present the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award to Blur aka Graham, Dave , Alex and Damon. Next was the MasterCard British Album of the year award, presented by the man with talent oozing out of his pockets, George Michael. This had Adele’s name on it months ago didn’t it? That girl will need a bigger shelf for all these awards. How the fuck did they end up curtailing her acceptance speech in such an abrupt way.
Blur were on stage to close the show kicking off their set with “Girls And Boys” and then appropriately “Song 2”. They were then joined on stage by Phil Daniels for a great rendition of “Parklife” Sadly that is where the TV coverage ended, I would love to have seen the whole set from Blur. I hear that they finished off with “Tender” and “This Is A Low”, but somehow I imagine this was quite a high for them!
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
If you would like to donate to Oxfam then click here
There really are too many tribute bands around don’t you think? Just click here for the Wiki view and you will find plenty tribute bands named, including Dread Zeppelin and the Iron Maidens. However the one that caught my eye was Beatallica a tribute band that plays Beatles and Metallica songs. It got me thinking of other potential fantasy or nightmare tribute bands you could have if you combined some bands.
Here are some that I thought of and if you click carefully you should find a song from each of the constituent parts (including a guest appearance by Joan Collins in one of them and Chris Martin off of Coldplay in another) and don’t forget this will probably be the only post I’ll ever do where I won’t diss Boyzone or Westlife (or could that be Westzone or Boylife?);
I would love to hear your own ideas and maybe I could even muster up the usual cheap and tacky prize for the best one! While you contemplate what riches you could win take a look at the appropriately titled “Tribute” from Tenacious D
By the way, somewhere above there is a ‘hidden’ song which features one of the above acts doing some backing vocals on a U2 song, did you find it?
Good day everyone I hope you had a jolly good weekend and are prepared for another fun working week. Just to get you underway here are a couple of Finance Industry pieces. have any of you seen the Swiftcover Insurance advert on UK TV which is fronted by Iggy Pop? Well it seems that musicians are classed as entertainers and as such are unable to insure through the company, wow their marketing people must have really worked hard on that one. Click on NME to read the story, the page also has a link to YouTube so you can see the advert for yourself if you haven’t already.
Here’s a fun banking game too, that’s right I said banking, not wa…. oh never mind. This was in the Observer today it’s an on line game called ‘Wheel Of Misfortune‘ There is a banker attached to a wheel and you have to throw knives at the wallets and briefcases and balloons to score. However should you hit the banker well, he does show a bit of pain. Click on the name to play (unfortunately you do have to register to play)
OK so now let’s get on with the business at hand for today, 2nd March 2009, starting with some birthdays. First up is Lou Reed who is 66 today. Lou was named Louis Allen Firbank by his parents. At the age of 17 he was sent to a psychiatrist to receive eight weeks of shock therapy aimed at curing him of severe mood swings. After his time with the Velvet Underground ended in 1970 he went back to live with his parents home in Freeport, Long Island. During this time he took a job as a typist for his father’s accountancy firm, earning just $40 a week. Imagine, if he had stuck at that career he could be swimming in money now as a ‘disgraced’ (copyright tabloid papers) financier/ banker. I for one am glad he didn’t though. Here is Lou with his classic “Satellite Of Love” The observant among you will notice that I could have made a big DB reference in this piece, but as there were two yesterday I declined. But the production on this song was by DB and Mick Ronson.
lou and Laurie had just been turned away from the RyanAir check-in desk for carrying too much luggage
The second of our three birthdays is that of the late great (the return of those l’s & g’s) Karen Carpenter. She would have been 59 today. She was just 32 when she died in 1983. Karen had a voice like no other and whilst by many the Carpenters were seen as very easy listening, middle-of-the-road fare, the musicianship, production and vocals on their songs were exceptional. My parents loved the Carpenters, which is why I never really got into them until late on. Well in those days it certainly wasn’t cool to like the music your parents liked. I feel that has changed somewhat in recent years though. On a trip to London in December 1976 the group were presented with 21 Gold Discs for UK record sales. They had to leave them behind at Heathrow Airport because they were too heavy to take on as excess baggage. Maybe they should have flown Ryanair, then again perhaps not! Here are the Carpenters with the excellent “Goodbye To Love” This contains some excellent guitar solos too.
It had taken a while but Karen finally mastered the art of playing the invisible drums
The final birthday today is Mr Paltrow from Coldplay, otherwise known as Chris Martin. He is 32 today. The band have recently started recording sessions for their next album. Brian Eno is once again involved and for the first two weeks of recording he asked Chris Martin to stay away from the studio to enable the band to work on the music with no restraint. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out. Actually by todays standards (well especially Guns N Roses) a new album from Chris and the boys next year must be seen as somewhat prolific. Their first album ‘Parachutes’ came out in 2000 and if they finish it in time their 5th will be out in 2010 (5 albums in 11 years!). Coldplay met at University College London and an initial band including Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland was called ‘Pectoralz’ not a great name in my opinion. At one point Chris met Tim Rice-Oxley a classics student and asked him to join the band. Tim declined and went on to form his own band, Keane. Enough of them and back to Coldplay, here they are with “Fix You” live in Toronto, with a somewhat gushing intro by Chris.
Now the other Coldplay boys had photographic evidence that the sun really did shine out of Chris' rear end
On this day in 1967 Arnold George Dorsey, better known as Englebert Humperdinck was number one in the UK with “Release Me”. Englebert was always a hot property on the music scene, having been born in Madras, India. Arnold named himself after a German Opera composer. It seems quite amazing now that a song like “Release Me” could be a hit at the height of psychedelia. Indeed it even prevented the Beatles double A side “Strawberry Fields/ Penny lane” from reaching the UK top spot
Englebert wondered how much longer he could keep the sun balanced on his head and when he would have to give it back to Chris
This day in 1999 saw the death from lung cancer of the late great (l & g back with a vengeance) Dusty Springfield. She was only 59. Dusty was born in 1939 as Mary Isabelle Catherine Bernadette O’Brien and was convent educated. She took the name Dusty Springfield when she formed the folk and country based Springfields in 1961 with her brother Dion (who became Tom Springfield) and a friend Tom Field. I’m not sure who he became. she was a massive success in the 60s but was in the wilderness for many years before she hooked up with the Pet Shop Boys in 1987 to record “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”
Dusty had been invited to test a prototype of the new iPod
And almost finally on this day in 1960 Elvis Presley spent a short time on UK soil for the only time in his life. He was travelling back to the US from Germany after completing his National Service and his plane stopped to refuel at Prestwick Airport near Glasgow in Scotland. It is said that Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s Manager prevented Elvis from touring overseas because he (Parker not Presley) was an illegal immigrant to the US. I wonder whether things would have turned out differently had Elvis been allowed to tour outside the US? Anyway as this piece relates to his National Service here is Elvis with “G.I. Blues”
Elvis was ready to kick start his RyanAir flight from Prestwick
And finally on this day, while searching for an Elvis in the army picture I found this, I had to show it as it is just so naff! What do you think?