I have just uploaded another With Just A Hint Of Mayhem podcast. It outlines my views on the Apollo 11 moon landing from 50 years ago. How exciting that was to me and my thoughts on what has happened since, accompanied by a soundtrack of some of my favourite space, moon and Apollo tunes. Click here to check it out. I would love to hear your views too.
Given the ubiquitous nature of text messages these days I find it hard to believe that it was only twenty years ago that the first ever text message was sent. The message was despatched from a PC to a mobile phone by an engineer using the Vodafone network in the UK; the message was simply ‘Merry Christmas‘.
The development of texting or SMS (Short message Service) actually goes back further than that. It began as an idea by Matti Makkonen a Finnish Civil Servant. It was during a pizza meal at a telecommunications conference in 1984. his idea became the standard for the SMS facility that we use today. Strangely it was never patented, a little unlucky for Mr Makkonen then!
I assume that there were a few more texts sent in 1992, however the rise has been incredible with an estimated 8 trillion sent last year. I wonder what percentage of those were illegally viewed by the UK tabloid press?
So how about a few text related (some very loosely) songs to celebrate?
Based upon information released recently it is alleged that the US Government had planned to blow up the moon in the late 50s as a means of intimidating their nemesis in the Cold War, the Soviet Union. After the Russians effectively took the lead in the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 it was apparently believed that a show of strength like blowing up the moon would really scare the Russians. Apparently it was called ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ or ‘Project A119‘. Even that sounds a little James Bond like doesn’t it?
It really does seem like a crackpot scheme and it is unlikely at the time that anyone possessed enough in their nuclear arsenal to actually complete the task. At best it might have left the man in the moon looking more like the elephant Man and the satellite’s surface covered in high levels of radiation. In addition any debris that fell to earth would almost certainly have been radioactive as well.
I wonder if this idea came from the same think tank that thought of the idea of using an explosive cigar to blow up Fidel Castro or to rig the voting in Florida in 2000 in favour of Dubya. Ooops wait a minute that second one was true wasn’t it? had it happened then Neil Armstrong probably wouldn’t have been there to utter his famous ‘one step for man’ line. But then again maybe it did happen and didn’t work very well other than to make the moon radioactive. That would certainly give more credence to those people who believe the moon landings were faked and took place in a film studio directed by Stanley Kubrick.
I’d love to know what you think of this incredibly stupid, yet potentially real plan of Eisenhower’s government. Bearing in mind that his Vice President was Tricky Dicky Nixon, maybe it isn’t surprising! Anyway as I have said many times before so here are a few songs that may not have happened or certainly wouldn’t have been the same had the moon been blown to smithereens, feel free to add your own moon related songs.
Apologies but there are two kiddie fiddlers for the price of one on this next one!
And finally a special Billy Bonus, my favourite track from Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark side Of The Moon’; “Brain Damage”
I’m sure that you’ve heard Katy Perry’s new single “The One That Got Away” which is clearly yet another slice of perfect perry pop and a great radio song. But what intrigues me about it is the line about making out in the lyrics. It reads ‘We make out in your Mustang to Radiohead’. Firstly we get Katy Perry mentioning Radiohead, which I feel makes for quite strange bedfellows. Secondly, does anyone actually make out to Radiohead? I love the band but they wouldn’t be my choice for a sultry, seductive night in with Catwoman! I would prefer a bit of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ album.
Having listened to the song again though it got me thinking about some of my favourite songs that mention bands or singers. You can enjoy five of them below. Let me know what your favourite songs that mention other artists are;
“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” – Vampire Weekend – mentions Peter Gabriel
“Destroy Rock n Roll” – Mylo – mentions a cast of thousands including Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Van Halen, Madonna, Huey Lewis and the News, The Cars, Herbie Hancock, Bonnie Tyler, Stevie Nicks, Men at Work, ZZ Top, Paul McCartney, Weird Al Yankovic, Cyndi Lauper, Pink Floyd, Pretenders, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Elton John, Neil Young, Sheena Easton, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Fashion, Big Country, Morris Day and The Time, John Lennon, Apollonia 6, REO Speedwagon, David Gilmour, Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Hall and Oates, Wham!, Rebbie Jackson, Adam Ant, Bananarama, Christine McVie, Queen, John Cougar Mellencamp, U2, Fleetwood Mac, The Alan Parsons Project, Rick Springfield, Thompson Twins, Missing Persons, Duran Duran, Police, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Boy George, Band Aid, Stevie Wonder and Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
“White Man In The Hammersmith Palais” – The Clash – mentions Dillinger, Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe and the Four Tops.
“God” – John Lennon – mentions Elvis and the Beatles
“Punky Reggae Party” – Bob Marley and the Wailers – mentions the Wailers, Maytals, Damned, Jam, Dr Feelgood and the Clash
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople – mentions T Rex and is easily my favourite song that mentions other bands or artists.
Well hello again dear readers it’s been 2 and a half weeks since my last post, that is probably the longest I have ever gone without posting, so hopefully I can make up for that in the next couple of weeks. As long as work doesn’t get in the way at least.
Thom auditions for the new series of Vision On
This post is a motley collection of the amusing and strange that I have picked up or seen and heard during that long lay off. Have you heard the new Radiohead album? You must have by now surely. I like it but I don’t think it’s as good as ‘In Rainbows‘. There have been many suggestions that as ‘King Of Limbs’ is quite a short album there will be a part 2 coming soon. I certainly hope so. Anyway if you are a fan you will no doubt have seen the video for “Lotus Flower” with Thom Yorke‘s crazy dance. This has spawned many versions of the video which put Thom together with completely different songs, many of which are rather amusing. Click here to see some of the best.
In a recent article in the Guardian’s Lost In Showbiz section it was revealed that Mark Feehilly off of Westlife is a big fan of artist Leigh Bowery. That really does seem weird to me that a member of one of the blandest boybands ever is into a performance artist who has been known to throw shit at his audience. But then again Westlife have been pushing shit songs at their audience for years now so maybe it’s not that weird. Click here to read the rather excellent piece.
The new Westlife tour has been sponsored by Ferrero Rocher and Leigh Bowery has designed the stage costumes........ oh ambassador you spoil us!
Have you ever wondered how well ambient music and cop radio go together? well wonder no more, this is a mash-up of recordings taken from the LA Cop radio frequency and some superb ambient style music. I really love this, what do you think of it? Click here to listen, you can also listen to similar sounds from different North American cities.
A scene from an Isaac Hayes concert, although the costumes were probably from a 70s porn movie!
And finally for this post, ever wonder about the genesis of the wah wah pedal? ever wondered what music would be like without the pedal? Well click here to see how the wah wah came to be and obviously there would have been no “Theme From Shaft” or indeed any 70’s porn soundtracks without it! Check out two very different Isaac Hayes classics below
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
Just over a week to the big day now people, it’s December 17th so let’s open todays door on my UK Christmas Number OnesAdvent Calendar. This one is a little softer than yesterdays. It’s a cover version of the classic Yazoo song “Only You” by the Flying Pickets. It was number one for Christmas 1983 and remained top dog for 5 weeks. The original was written by Vince Clarke while he was still a member of Depeche Mode. He allegedly offered the song to the band when he left and they declined. He then recorded it himself with superb vocalist Alison Moyet aka Alf when he formed Yazoo. The original version went to number 2 in the UK in 1982.
The Flying Pickets version was a cappella. That is nothing to do with Fabio Acappella who might be the England manager but it just means that they recorded the whole thing without instruments. Bloody tight gits! Incidentally they weren’t really tight gits, they were socialists though and in a bizarre twist none other than Margaret Thatcher claimed that the song was one of her favourites. This kind of echoes the current spat between Johnny Marr and David Cameron. Marr with the support of Morrissey has forbidden Cameron from liking any Smiths songs.
Arthur Scargill turns up at the Police gig but struggles to find Sting and the boys!
During the 1984 Miners Strikes the band performed at a number of benefits for striking miners. Their record company Virgin threw a bit of a hissy fit when the band took part in a protest at the Drax Power Station. Some record shops refused to stock anything by the band owing to their support for the miners. Bad move from the record shops if you ask me. Original singer Brian Hibbard went on to appear in Doctor Who and Coronation Street.
Here is my second England update of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Sorry it took so long to get around to it, but I’m still getting over Fridays game!
Who would have thought it possible that England’s performance against Algeria would have been worse than the last game against the USA? Not many of us, but not only was it worse, it was for me the most abject performance of an England team in the 40 odd years I have been watching them.
The finger of blame largely from the players has variously been pointed at the new ball, the loneliness and isolation of the team’s compound and now the manager. Strange isn’t it, that the players haven’t blamed themselves. Guys on Friday night you were truly pathetic. No passion, no fight and frankly no balls! I actually felt sorry for Algeria who probably deserved more than a draw.
But luckily for England it was a draw, which means that their journey into the next round is still within their control. They only need to beat Slovenia now. How easy does that sound? Well a couple of weeks back it seemed easy although now I’m not sure at all. This bunch of preening, arrogant, prima donna millionaires just need to perform. If they come home after this game it will be the first time since 1958 that England have failed to get past the group stage. On top of that they would deservedly become tabloid laughing stocks! Still in that event at least we won’t have to endure the stress of a penalty shoot out!
I reckon an inflatable team would perform better than the current mob. At least they'd be 'pumped up' for the game!
I do still hope that we get through, but bloody hell have this lot made it difficult! Still at least we’re not France, who are likely to be out of the competition soon. Their players also went on strike yesterday and refused to train following the sending home of Nicolas Anelka.
But as I’ve said before this is a music blog, so here are a few appropriate songs;
“Pearls Cafe” – Specials. I chose this one simply for the hook line; “It’s all a load of bollocks” just like the England team in their last two games
“Rubber Ball” – Bobby Vee. This one is here to give a shout to the official world cup football the Jo’bilani which is getting way too much blame
“So Lonely” – Police. Why is this here? well the England players are lonely and bored in their five-star training and accommodation complex. Go and get a real job you tossers!
Let me finish with a little clip of Wayne Rooney criticising England supporters for booing and jeering the team. He did later apologise, but frankly it’s not good enough, think of what those fans have spent to get there! They deserve more!
This is Ryefield School in Hillingdon a great place where I was a pupil from 1965 to 1970
Once again it’s been a long while since my last post, but not as long ago as the last time I attended Ryefield Junior School in Hillingdon. I was just a little boy called Billy in those days. I attended the school from 1965 until 1970 up until I was 11 years old. I discovered this week that it is Ryefield School’s 50th birthday celebrations this year, I hadn’t appreciated that I was just one year older than the school. One year and three days to be precise as it opened on January 4th 1960. So how did I find out about this auspicious occasion? Well I have mentioned Ryefield in a previous post and the present Headmaster Mr Dodd was doing some research and chanced upon my blog. Serendipity huh?
Anyway it got me thinking about those good old school days and for me Infant and Junior School was so much more fun than Senior School. I will remember Ryefield for many things. But the two that spring to mind immediately are the wonderful headmaster from my days there, Mr Yates. I don’t know much about him other than the fact that to me he was a wonderful man and although I didn’t realise it at the time he was probably my first mentor from outside my family circle. He encouraged me to learn by reading and indeed writing too. I also loved all those mental arithmetic tasks he set. The second thing that is in my mind about those years is my first ever foreign trip. It was a school trip to Paris and it was my first ever flight too. One of the things we were asked to do was write a postcard on the first day to send back to our parents. I did write my postcard, but I left it in my case and gave it to my Mum and Dad when I came home. I can only assume that they weren’t too worried about me
And so on to the music, for that is the purpose of this little blog. And obviously todays choices are all school related, I hope you enjoy them and as usual your school song suggestions would be welcomed
Schools Out – Alice Cooper. OK I know this was an obvious choice, but it is good isn’t it. For me it was one of the defining moments of early 70s music television
Remember The Days Of The Old School Yard – Cat Stevens. Just how talented was this man? Still just as talented these days now he is known as Yusuf. I believe the additional female vocal on this track is Elkie Brooks. Linda Lewis also recorded an excellent cover of this song, although sadly I can’t find it on line
Teacher I Need You – Elton John. A classic slice of Elton and Bernie from the wonderful 1973 album ‘Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player’
Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This is accompanied by a photo montage that shows the Iraq war through the eyes of children
Don’t Stand So Close To Me – Police. Written by a former teacher, Gordon Sumner aka Sting and probably the only lyric which manages to rhyme cough with Nabokov, albeit it rather clumsily! This is the original version which is so much better than the 1986 remake
One simple footprint which for me says so very much
Greetings fellow astronuts and space cadets! As most of you know I come in peace, but I’m not that interested in meeting your leader ok. I’m not particularly sure that I’d like to take over the planet either! Anyway enough blathering on, I simply could not let this momentous occasion go without a mention, even in a humble music blog. It’s July 20th today and 40 years ago two men landed on the moon; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and do not forget Michael Collins who piloted Columbia the Command Module which remained in orbit around the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin took the Eagle the Lunar Module to the surface.
The crew of Apollo 11 chose this, did you notice that the Eagle that represents America carries an olive branch representing peace?
In my opinion this is undoubtedly the greatest achievement of my 50 years on the planet. When I was a boy I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I guess millions of others did too. I wonder if as many people want that now? I hope so. My Mum and Dad were quite strict about my bedtime and I was only 10 years old in 1969 so it was amazing that my Dad let me stay up or woke me up in the early hours so that I didn’t miss anything. In those days I collected anything to do with the Apollo missions; newspapers, magazines, models, a massive poster of the moon and countless things that have disappeared from my memory. I did have an Airfix scale model of the Saturn V rocket and another of the Lunar Module. The latter was incredibly difficult to put together!
It looks like a Blue Peter project really doesn't it?
We sent a further six missions to the moon and in addition to Aldrin and Armstrong a further 10 men walked on it’s surface. I am still saddened that we haven’t really done much in the way of manned planetary exploration since Apollo 17 in 1973. I would love to think we could make it to Mars within my lifetime.
The Lunar Module leaves the moon and returns to the Command Module for the return to Earth
Let me briefly address those who say the moon landings were faked, in my opinion those people are talking complete crap. There is plenty of information around that debunks all those moon landing hoax theories. I won’t bore you with the details here, but to those who believe the conspiracy stuff please say hi to Elvis and Jacko from me when you next see them in the 7-11
Probably the most iconic picture of their time on the moon this is Aldrin snapped by Armstrong and is often known as the visor shot for what you can see reflected in Buzz's visor
In the UK the Apollo 11 mission was also important for a certain Mr Bowie. He got his first hit single out of it when the BBC used his “Space Oddity” as the theme for their coverage. It reached number 5 in the UK charts in 1969 and eventually made number one when it was reissued in 1975. That song is in fact reissued today in a format which also provides you with each separately recorded track to enable you to remix it yourself. I for one will be buying it later! Appropriately(ish) enough Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In The Air” was number one in the UK at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Neil Armstrong's Space Suit........ or perhaps it was Major Tom's?
So without further ado here is a small hit parade of Moon related songs, well this is a music blog after all!
1 “Space Oddity” – David Bowie (come on I’m a fan what did you expect!)
2 “Saturn V” – Inspiral Carpets (what a glorious sight that rocket was)
3 “Sleeping Satellite” – Tasmin Archer (this song appears to express the sadness that I feel about us never having gone back to our sleeping satellite)