If you have read the posts for the first four days of this series you will know that this year’s 12 Days of Christmas showcases a collection of songs that communicate hope. So far there have been songs from Bill Withers, The Beatles, Johnny Nash, and Bob Marley. At the end of the twelve days, there will be a playlist of all twelve tunes and maybe even some of your choices. These Covid times have been devastating for many and I fear that things may get worse before they get better, I hope in a small way that these song choices brighten your world even just a little. Today it is the turn of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) with “Mr. Blue Sky”. This is a tune that always makes me smile, does it do that for you? Once again let me say, stay strong people, and if you are feeling particularly low talk to someone. I am happy to be here for you if you need me!
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Here we go with part 2/ day 2 of the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem 10th birthday celebrations. Regular readers will know that yesterday I gave you the top ten most viewed posts on the blog since it began back in February 2009 (Click here to view that again). Today I bring you the top ten countries that have given With Just A Hint Of Mayhem the most views. Don’t worry there will be plenty of music in the coming days including things like my top ten favourite singles, albums, bands and more stuff too! Don’t forget that you can also find us on Twitter and FaceBook .
So on with the countries who have visited the site most often
Incidentally there are a handful of countries that have never visited With Just A Hint Of Mayhem, well at least not yet. If you can make it happen for Svalbard, Western Sahara, Bujumbura, Chad, Turkmenistan, Kosovo, Djibouti and unsurprisingly, North Korea. There are also thirteen countries with only one view each in 10 years.
So to celebrate how about a few world related songs? Don’t mind if I do 🙂
The Electric Light Orchestra’s 4th album “Eldorado – A Symphony” is officially known as simply Eldorado. Did you know that the cover was designed by one Sharon Arden? She is now more widely known as Sharon Osbourne (Ozzie’s wife and reality show star and judge). I can’t believe that it took much effort to design though as the cover picture is simply a still of the ruby slippers from the 1939 cinematic classic ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
Only two more sleeps, wow that’s gone quick hasn’t it? Winter solstice is over for another year and the days are getting longer again, well in the northern hemisphere at least. Any how that means that it must be December 23rd and day 23 of this years Advent Calendar blog post. Regular readers will have quickly worked out that the 23rd letter of the alphabet is ‘W’. This years subject is the ABC of British bands and for today I have chosen a band who once recorded a true Christmas classic, ladies and gentlemen please welcome Wizzard to this years advent calendar posts!
Roy Wood, the founder of Wizzard was also a leading light in the Move and co-founder along with Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). After the first ELO album Roy was moving apart from jeff Lynne both personally and musically. he left the band to form Wizzard and the The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits says, ‘Wizzard was Roy Wood just as much as Wings were Paul McCartney‘. Given that Jeff Lynne clearly wanted to be in the Beatles maybe there are some parallels.
The band had six UK top ten hits from 1972 to 1974, including two number ones with “See My Baby Jive” and “Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad)”. Both of those songs hit the top spot in 1973, “See My Baby Jive” was also number one in the Irish chart. Many people probably only know Wizzard for the rather excellent “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” a song which only reached number 4 in the UK on its initial release in 1973. It has re-entered the top 50 ten times since then, obviously every Christmas time. On that Christmas single the band are credited as Wizzard featuring vocal backing by The Suedettes plus The Stockland Green Bilateral School First Year Choir with additional noises by Miss Snob and Class 3C. Whatever happened to Miss Snob?
Their first two albums made the UK album top 30 in 1973 and 1974. “Wizzard Brew”, number 29 in 1973 and “Introducing Eddy And The Falcons”, number 19 in 1974. Roy Wood is a multi instrumentalist who plays keyboards, horn, cello, guitar, bass and bagpipes. he also wrote some songs that were dedicated to his one time girlfriend, Lynsey De Paul, one of which, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Winter (Looney’s Tune)” reached number 6 in the UK singles charts.
For it’s UK release ELO’s first album was simply called ‘Electric Light Orchestra‘. But in the USA it was called ‘No Answer’. This came about because their US label, United Artists, were trying to contact the band’s manager Don Arden (Sharon Osbourne‘s Dad fact fans) to find out what the album was to be called. The US label Executives got through to Mr Arden’s secretary. She tried his line and got nos response and her reply to the US Executives was ‘no answer’. I wonder if there is a similar story around how Kanye West came up with the title for his current opus; ‘Yeezus’? Which is not a great title in my opinion.
I am sure that most of you are familiar with the ELO classic “Mr Blue Sky” which reached number 6 in the UK charts in 1978. It was taken from the band’s 1977 double album ‘Out Of The Blue‘. I had always thought that the vocoder part at the end of the song said ‘Mr Blue Sky’s gone’. However as my good friend Stuart O’Hara pointed out, having heard Jeff Lynne interviewed on the One Show on the BBC, it actually says ‘please turn me over’. I can hear you ask why, well the answer is simple. The song was the last track on side one of the second disc of the album and it was an instruction to turn the record over. To those of you who don’t know what records are I would suggest that you ask your parents or your grandparents!
In the meantime enjoy once again an ELO classic and a very happy song indeed!
So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.
I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.
Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.
The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.
The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!
One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”
To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”. The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.
Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.
George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90” his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot
A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.
Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!
A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?
ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.
Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.
It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.
The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.
I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/ Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.
Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!
Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.
Nick - "Dave, will this coalition hurt?" Dave - "Not really, but you may feel a little prick!"
Is the UK’s new coalition government the brave new world that some of the media are suggesting? It is the first for many years and indeed it is the first time The Party Formerly Known As The Liberal Party (TPFKATLP) has been represented on the cabinet. But in essence the country is being run once again by a significant number of toffs. Some 72% of the cabinet were schooled at Westminster, Eton and other exclusive schools and most of those are also Oxbridge Graduates. Personally I feel cheated, for the first time in quite a while I voted Lib Dem rather than Labour as I felt that Nick Clegg’s party ideals were closest to Labours. But then he goes and does a deal with Dangerous Dave. Sure he sided with the party that got most votes, but bear in mind that nobody really won this election. The Tories got 36% of the vote, but that equates to just 23% of those eligible to vote. To make matters worse if it all goes wrong I can’t wear my ‘Don’t Blame Me I Voted Labour’ badge, because I didn’t.
Will this government move us closer to proportional representation? I honestly doubt it, because the Tories and Labour have most to lose from it so they will angle any referendum questions their way I suspect. Am I being overly cynical? Maybe. But here’s another one, the Lib Dems said that they would not proceed with a replacement for Trident, but now that Dave and Nick are all cosied up the Lib Dems will concede on that. Hold on a cotton pickin’ minute here, why has no-one stated the bloody obvious. This government will bring in austerity measures to achieve public spending cuts saving £6 billion. Now according to reports of Trident costs that I have read Trident’s replacement will cost anywhere from £76 billion to £130 billion. So why not scrap Trident and take the £6 billion from there and then pay all the rest of us (except bankers) obscene bonuses with the remaining money. But that won’t happen either as banking reform will be handcuffed as it will be led by George Osborne rather than Vince Cable.
Anyway rant over, because frankly what the hell can I do about it now? Bugger all that’s what! Also this is ostensibly a music blog so let’s get on with that element shall we? Taking the theme, appropriately from another new government story. Dangerous Dave Cameron has apparently banned people from using their mobiles and Blackberrys in meetings and I commend him for that. (Read about it here) Where I work I wish someone would take that extra step and ban bloody meetings though, it’s no wonder that nothing get’s done in most organisations when most of us are sat on our arses in meetings all day!
So back to the point, the banning of phones in government meetings, here are a somewhat eclectic six telephone related songs, (one for each Lib Dem member of the Liberative Cabinet, feel free to suggest your own
and you thought the first mobile phones were big!
“Telephone Line” – ELO. This is probably one of my favourite ELO songs, I always preferred their slower numbers. I went off them when Jeff Lynne just seemed to want to be the Beatles, even before Oasis did. But in their time they did record some classic songs though
“Hanging On The Telephone” – Blondie. This was a cover version the original was by the Nerves (click here to listen). I reckon that quite a few people didn’t know that. I suppose I could have chosen “Call Me” as well. I saw Blondie in the 90’s when “Maria” went to number one in the UK. It was at the Reading Rivermead with my very good friend Jes (Jeremy Hyde to his folks). Anyway the band had played a couple of songs from the new album and we were standing a little way from the stage, then they launched into “Hanging On The Telephone” and I remained were I was whilst Jes was dragged forward by the crowd surge. The next thing I could see was Jes right near the front of the stage pogoing his heart out. He has always had a bit of a thing for Debbie Harry though, in fact he once confided in me that our boss Jane reminded him of Ms Harry. But more of that another day perhaps!
“Vibrate” – Rufus Wainwright. This is taken from Rufus’ excellent album ‘Want One’ which was the first of his that I bought. I love the guys voice, which sometimes reminds me of the late, great Jeff Buckley. he is the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon once wrote a song called “Rufus Is A Tit Man” which turned out to be completely wrong as Rufus is gay. If my son Luke was around when I put a Rufus Wainwright CD on he always referred to him as Rufus the Doofus, I thought you might want to know that
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” – Four Tops. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t love Levi Stubbs’ voice, for me it’s an immaculate soul voice. Whilst most of the Four Tops biggest hits were written by the classic teaming of Holland Dozier Holland this one wasn’t. It was co written by Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones. That’s the very same Gloria Jones that wrote and originally recorded, “Tainted Love” which became Soft Cell’s biggest hit. She also went on to become Marc Bolan’s girlfriend and was driving the car in which he died in September 1977
“Alexander Graham Bell” – Sweet. Mr Bell is credited with inventing the telephone and allegedly he wouldn’t have one in his study as he felt it was an intrusion, that seems a little strange to me. Also his mother and his wife were profoundly deaf, so his invention was never going to benefit them was it?
“Telephone Man” – Meri Wilson. Meri specialised in double entendre type songs of which this, her biggest hit (oooooooh Matron!) is a good example. Sadly she died in a car crash aged just 53 in 2002
I guess no one missed it, as for every snow flake being unique it's all very well saying it but let me see the proof!
As I trudged through the slush and snow this morning I got to thinking about winter songs. There really aren’t too many of them are there? Especially if you discount all the Christmas and December specific songs and also songs that by default are associated with Christmas such as Winter Wonderland. I also thought that as this is the UK’s coldest winter for 30 years I ought to at least mark it with a post!
So during my break today I thought of five winter songs which you can find below, hopefully these will help you get through the cold and boredom, especially if you are still stuck indoors. I spoke to someone yesterday who hasn’t been able to leave the house since last Tuesday, hello Mum! I’m also damned sure that you can send me many more winter songs too, so that’s your challenge dear readers! No Christmas or December songs though and whilst all mine have Winter in the title that doesn’t have to be the case
“Rock And Roll Winter” – Wizzard. This band were formed by the very talented Roy Wood who initially found fame with the Move and went on to form ELO with Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan, also off of the Move. Wood bailed out in 1972 to form Wizzard just a couple of years before ELO went stratospheric! This song ended up being release in the Spring in the UK owing to some kind of dispute with the label I believe
“Winter” – Tori Amos – Ms Amos is a fantastic singer songwriter whose music I really enjoy, although not as much as Kate Bush, someone she is often compared too. She is also a good friend of one of my favourite authors; Neil Gaiman. Tori began composing her own instrumental pieces at the age of just 5
“Winter Melody” – Donna Summer I find it a little ironic that one of my favourite songs from someone named Summer is actually about Winter! This song is taken from Donna’s Four Seasons Of Love album released in 1976. It contained just four tracks; Spring Affair, Summer Fever, Autumn Changes and Winter Melody. there is also a reprise of Spring Affair at the end. The album length was just over 30 minutes
“Hazy Shade Of Winter” – Simon And Garfunkel – This song was written by Paul Simon and recorded by the duo for their Bookends album released in 1968. The Bangles later covered the song for the soundtrack of the 1987 film Less Than Zero
“It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It’s Spring)” – Love Unlimited – These ladies began by providing backing vocals for the late great Walrus Of Love himself, Mr Barry White. The trio included his wife Glodean James and also his sister-in-law Linda James. This song reached the UK top 20 in 1975
Just to round this post up one casualty of this bad weather has been the cancellation of a number of gigs. My son’s band Steal The Smile were due to play at the FaceBar in Reading last Thursday, but the snow meant that the gig was cancelled. So if you were looking forward to seeing them last week here is a little something for you. Click here and go straight to their MySpace page, do not pass go and do not collect $200, just click and listen to some great songs from an excellent young band. They might not be winter songs but they are bloody good songs!