Regular readers of this blog will know by now that I am a big fan of one of Middlesbrough’s finest bands and indeed a great British band, hell just a great band anyway you look at them; I’m talking the magnificent Avalanche Party. Well the boys have a rather spiffing new single out called “Money”. It’s stunning video was launched earlier today. The film was produced by Jodie Canwell. I don’t know much about Jodie but I felt there were elements of David Lynch in her work on this video. It was all shot on the North Yorkshire Moors and when I say it’s weird I mean that as a big compliment. Can I be in the next video please?
But not only is it a brilliant video the song is bloody good too. I hope there are vinyl copies of it available next time I see the boys (which hopefully will be on 23rd May at Fibbers in York). If this song is an indicator of future direction for this wonderful band then roll on more releases. EPs, singles an album anything will do me. The song was produced by Fred Purser who has worked with a wide range of artists including the Futureheads and Tom Jones. Have you downloaded “Money” yet? If not then why not? It’s bloody well free people! Click here and download it immediately! Anyway never mind “one for the money” I give this 9 out of 10. Why not 10 I hear you ask, well because I’m saving that for the Avalanche Party album! Jordan, Owen, Kane and Joe – keep on rocking! Sadly my wife Catherine (aka Catwoman) isn’t keen on the song…. but I’m working on her!
December 11th 2014 saw the first ever BBC Music Awards. The show was broadcast live from Earls Court in London. Whilst there were only four awards there were plenty of live acts including; Coldplay (Stunning), Labrinth with Ella Henderson (Class), Clean Bandit (is there anyone that doesn’t love them?), Gregory Porter (why does he wear that balaclava?), George Ezra (a proper Buddha Pest), Wand Erection (whisper this, but I thought that they were alright!), Ed Sheeran (how can one man with a guitar be that bloody good?), Calvin Harris (super Scot) with John Newman (voice of the year and pearly king) and Ellie Goulding (sublime disco), Catfish and the Bottlemen (best newcomers and 70s fashion aficionados), Paloma Faith (quirky and wonderful), Take That (now known as Taxdodge That), Will.i.am (a bit Bollywood Disco, not a bad song, still.a.twat) with Cody Wise (better.than.will.i.am)
The first award was for Best International Artist. Chris Evans who co-hosted the show with Fearne Cotton picked a young Welsh lass from the audience to announce the winner, which was Pharrell Williams. He was presented with his award live in LA by Gwen Stefani.
Idris Elba presented the award for Song Of The Year and guess what? There was another trip to LA for Gwen Stefani to present yet another award to Pharrell Williams. This time for the stupendous “Happy”.
The BBC Introducing Award for Best Newcomer went to Catfish And The Bottlemen. A good choice methinks. I am really keen to see them play live now. The award was presented by Fearne Cotton after they played live.
Fuck me, Bowie was nominated for Best British artist but sadly he didn’t win it. Tom Jones presented the award to Ed Sheeran. I was surprised that Pharrell hadn’t been quickly given British citizenship. But then Sheeran’s “Sing” was a collaboration with Pharrell though.
Was this a better show than the Brits? Probably, but they need more awards. Also I thought Paloma Faith and Tom Jones finale had so much promise until they strangled “God Only Knows”. Was that as bad a cover of the song as David Bowie’s version in the 80s? Probably!
It’s December 16th and therefore day 16 of the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem advent posts. I’m enjoying the music in these advent posts and I hope that you are too. So on to two songs with the number sixteen in their title.
The first song for today is from Ernest Jennings Ford who was better known as Tennessee Ernie Ford. The song is about working in a coal mine and it is called “Sixteen Tons” it reached number 1 in the US charts in 1955. The song has been recorded by many artists; including Stevie Wonder, the Redskins, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley, Robbie Williams, Dandy Warhols, Tom Morello and the Eels. Whilst Elvis Presley never recorded the song he did play it live when touring the US in 1955. The Clash had the Ford version of the song played just before they came on stage during their ‘Sixteen Tons’ US tour in 1980.
The second for today features an artist that appeared as part of one of his earlier bands on day 7 of my advent posts. It’s Jack White with a track taken from his first solo album, ‘Blunderbuss’ released in 2012. White says that the inspiration for the song came from his daughter. When Jack asked her what she would like as a snack she said sixteen saltine crackers, he said she could have three. The singles B Side was a cover of U2’s “Love Is Blindness“. The single was sadly largely ignored in the UK reaching only number 129 in the UK singles chart. The album went to number one in the UK though and also reached the top in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and the USA.
It’s the 4th of December and time to open yet another door on my Advent Calendar musical extravaganza. As it is a songs with numbers in the title theme this year it is obviously number four today. I have two very different but excellent songs for you today.
First it’s the Boomtown Rats with “Mary Of The Fourth Form” or “Mary Of Year 10” as it would have to be called nowadays. The song was released in 1977 and became the band’s second hit. It reached number 15 in the UK and number 12 in Ireland. The band broke up in 1986 and reformed earlier this year with great success. Albeit without two of the original members; Gerry Cott and Johnnie Fingers. Singer Bob Geldof once wrote for the NME. The band also number a few famous people among their fans, including Jane Horrocks, J K Rowling, Jim Kerr off of Simple Minds and Courtney Love.
Second song of the day today comes from the late, great country star Faron Young. It is a song that was originally released in 1971 it reached the number 3 spot in the UK the following year. It only made it to number 92 on the Billboard chart in the US. However it did become Faron’s first number one on the country music charts. A live clip of Faron Young singing the song was the first song to be played on the Country Music Television (CMT) cable channel when it was launched in 1983. The song has been covered by Tom Jones in the 1980s. It is also heavily referenced in the fabulous “Faron Young” from Prefab Sprout which was a UK single in 1985. Disappointingly it only made number 74 in the UK charts. The cat owned by Frieda in the Peanuts cartoon strip was named Faron as Charles Schultz admired the singer.
Have you ever heard of Milky Edwards and the Chamberlings? No? Nor had I until recently. They (if indeed they are a they) come across as a classic ‘lost’ Motown band, perhaps in the mold of the Four Tops. From what I have discovered on-line Milky Edwards first appeared on YouTube last year with a video showing a record playing a cover version of some classic early 70s rock with the supposed album cover propped up behind. The album cover is very reminiscent of a 1960s Supremes album cover (see below).
It never really took off until the links were posted last month on David Bowie’sFacebook page. Why were they published on Bowie’s page? Well largely because the cover versions were all taken from the Ziggy Stardust album. The songs published so far are; “Starman”, “Moonage Daydream” and “Soul Love“. Mark Ronson and Tom Jones have denied any involvement in the recordings as have Bowie’s camp. But for me I would be very surprised if Bowie himself has played no part in this. I also believe that it is a wonderful hoax. There is even a website with the strap-line ‘rediscover the music of Milky Edwards, click here to see it. What do you think of all this? Have any of you got the inside track on these recordings? Personally I bloody love these tracks!
I must confess that I was a tad disappointed that a number of my favourite British artists never appeared at the Olympic Closing Ceremony.Notably David Bowie and Kate Bush. There was a strong rumour in the week before the show that Kate would appear. This appears to have been driven by a remix of “Running Up That Hill” being made available to buy on-line last week. That remix was played during the show. It was never likely that Bowie would play the show given the low profile he has taken since his heart problem back in 2004. But I did get my hopes up when a medley of his songs and associated film clips were played. However it turned out to be just a precursor to the celebration of British fashion element of the closing spectacle which itself was soundtracked rather obviously by the Dame’s 1980 hit “Fashion”.
Apparently David Bowie, Kate Bush, the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones all turned down the chance to appear at the Olympic Stadium last Sunday night. John Lydon said a while back that he had been asked if the Pistols would play and turned the organisers down flat. I wonder if they would have expected the Pistols to play “God Save The queen”? It is also alleged that the Who only agreed at the third time of asking. Who else would you have liked to have seen on the bill? Personally I’m surprised that Adele or Paul Weller wasn’t there or any of the beknighted music stars; Tom Jones, Macca, Elton, Cliff or even Rod Stewart who probably longs to be knighted. Personally I’m glad Cliff wasn’t there as his Jubilee appearance was truly awful. The same goes for Paul McCartney who I didn’t think was particularly good at the Opening ceremony.
Kate fills the long jump pit by hand
So let’s finish with what we might have missed some Kate and some Bowie.
this man is a Knight of the Realm................ no seriously, he is!
I think it would be fair to say that there is one area of my life that my Mother may be disappointed in me. That is my dislike of the institution of the British Royal family and all condescending pomposity it has. Yes in case you hadn’t noticed I am very much a Republican (not in the US political sense obviously) and most definitely not a Royalist. Having posted recently about Mick Jagger (aka Sir Michael Philip Jagger) turning down afternoon tea with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and Boris Johnson it’s strangely appropriate that a story about those who turned down Royal Honours appeared in the news today. Following a freedom of information request by the BBC a list of those now deceased who have turned down various Royal Honours form 1951 and 1999 has been published. There are 277 people on the list including artists Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and LS Lowry and authors Roald Dahl and Aldous Huxley. There are no rock or pop stars on the list. Read the full story on the BBC site by clicking here.
Sir Tom shows off his first house
However it got me thinking about those rock and pop stars who have accepted honours and those that haven’t. The obvious list of those who have are the rock and pop ‘Sirs’ Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Bono and Bob Geldof who as Irish citizens are Honorary Knights of the British Empire (KBE). Add to that list Dame Shirley Bassey. A large number of British musicians have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which is the highest honour a British subject can receive below a knighthood or damehood. Those include: Annie Lennox, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton, Sting, Robert Plant the Bee Gees and Rod Stewart. It was alleged that at the time of Elton receiving his knighthood Rod was just a little jealous.
Macca ponders his failure to win top score in Rate My Mullet
What really interests me though are those rock and pop stars who turned down Royal honours. David Bowie turned down a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003 and was quoted as saying that “was not what he spent his life working for”. George Melly and Paul Weller also turned down the offer of a CBE in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Thankfully Keith Richards also turned down a CBE; I’d have been gutted if he had accepted! His comment on Jagger’s knighthood was that he felt it was ludicrous. Influential guitarist and stalwart of the Shadows Hank Marvin turned down an OBE as did Dub Poet Benjamin Zephaniah. At the time Zephaniah publicly stated ‘I get angry when I hear the word ’empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised’ An MBE was offered to John Lydon who turned it down. I’m pretty amazed that they offered him one really.
Never a Knight of the realm but the only one who came close to looking the part as opposed to looking like an anagram of part
The four Beatles all received the MBE in 1965. John Lennon later returned his to the Queen in 1969 accompanied by a note which read ‘I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts’. It has been alleged that his Aunt Mimi who brought him up and upon whose mantelpiece the award lived was not amused!
News broke earlier today that the immensely talented Gil Scott-Heron passed away yesterday in New York aged just 62. He fell ill after returning from a European trip. He was perhaps more poet than anything else, but was also seen as a pioneer of rap and hip hop with his mainly spoken word recordings. In fact his first album came about after his first book of poetry was published and he suggested to his publisher that it would be a good idea to record a backing for his readings of his words.
He also had a great talent for intelligent and clever protest in his lyrics. Classics of that genre would be songs like “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” which is still quite pertinent today. The first time I ever heard anything by him was when I heard “Johannesburg” on the radio in 1976. That was probably my first experience of what apartheid was all about as well and added to my political views, which were very much shaped by the music I listened to in my formative years; Marvin Gaye, Temptations, Bob Marley, The Clash and John Lennon among others.
He worked regularly with Brian Jackson who helped provide the fusion of soul and jazz that backed a lot of Scott-Heron’s work. After a couple of spells in prison for cocaine possession and alleged parole violation he returned with an excellent new album early last year. The album was ironically titled ‘I’m New Here‘ and received widespread acclaim. A remix of the album retitled ‘We’re New Here’ was done in collaboration with Jamie Smith aka Jamie xx of the band the xx.
He has been described as the Godfather of Rap and the black Bob Dylan. His influence runs very wide and he will be sorely missed. My condolences go to his family, friends and all his fans around the world. Gil Scott-Heron RIP. I would like you to celebrate his life with some of his greatest songs, well my ten favourites at least. Let me know what you thought of Gil’s work.
Have you seen the news about the newly discovered species of big cat? The Sunda Clouded Leopard was only discovered in 2007, it was thought to be the same as other clouded leopards. But now scientists have found out that there are two quite distinct types of Sunda one living in Sumatra and the other in Borneo. It is thought that the two species separated a million years ago. They are genetically different after being based on islands all that time. I bet that must have confused the hell out of Noah, how many Sunda Cloud Leopards made it on to the Ark anyway? Frankly if there are supposedly 5 million or so species, give or take a Sunda, then the Ark must have been one enormous boat! Click here to read the story on BBC Earth News.
Anyway this is a music blog and this story gives me an opportunity to hit you with some cat related songs;
“What’s New Pussy Cat?” – Tom Jones. This song was composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and was the theme tune of the film of the same name starring Peter Sellers. It has featured a couple of times in the Simpsons, notably in an episode where Marge worked at the Nuclear Power Station and requested that Tom Jones’ music was played over the tannoy.
“Cool For Cats” – Squeeze. This is one of just two singles from the band that had a lead vocal from Chris Difford, it was usually Glenn Tilbrook. It reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1979.
“Honky Cat” – Elton John. This song was taken from Elton’s 1972 album ‘Honky Chateau‘ It features no guitar, but it does feature Elton’s regular 70s guitarist Davey Johnstone. He played banjo on this track.
“The Cat Crept In” – Mud. This was the follow-up to another cat related song from Mud; “Tiger Feet” which reached number 1 in the UK in 1974. “The Cat Crept In” just failed to match that performance later in 1974, peaking at number 2.
“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats. This song reached number 11 in the UK in 1981. Singer Brian Setzer went on to even greater things with his Brian Setzer Orchestra.
It’s December 20th and now we’re at day 20 of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar posts. Behind the cardboard door today there is a real treat in store for you. We’re going back to the 60s to take a look at the only act to have had four Christmas number ones in the UK. It’s not Cliff Richard, he’s only had three, the Spice Girls also had three in a row in the 90s. But so far no one has matched the UK Christmas Number One success of this UK band. They had the UK Christmas Number One in 1963, 1964, 1965 and again in 1967. I’m sure you will not be too surprised to hear that I’m talking about the Beatles.
As a special pre-Christmas treat I will be giving you all four of their Christmas Number ones later in this post. The songs that made the Yuletide top spot for the Fab Four were; “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (1963), “I Feel Fine” (1964), “Day Tripper/ We Can Work It Out” (1965) and “Hello Goodbye” (1967). At Christmas 1963 the Beatles also held the number two spot with “She Loves You“. Their sequence was broken in 1966 by Tom Jones with “Green, Green Grass Of Home“. In Christmas 1963, 1964 and 1965 the Mop Tops stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks each year and in 1967 it was seven weeks.
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” was also the Beatles first US number one where it stayed for 7 weeks. It was also at number four in the US on April 4th 1964 when the Beatles had the whole of the Top 5. Up until 1964 the Beatles hadn’t had massive success in the US and manager Brian Epstein suggested to John Lennon and Paul McCartney that they should write a song that would appeal in the US. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was the result of that request. It was also the first song the band recorded using the new technology of four track recording.
The bands second UK Christmas Number One, “I Feel Fine” was their eighth UK single. In 1964 it was the first US number one in a sequence of six Beatles songs in a row. It displaced the Rolling Stones “Little Red Rooster” at the top of the UK charts, possibly preventing the Stones from achieving what would have been their only UK Christmas Number One. Apparently Paul McCartney has said that the drum sound on the song was inspired by the Ray Charles song “What I’d Say“.
The third of the Beatles UK Christmas Number Ones was a double-A side, something the CD and download era has made pretty much redundant. The two songs remain classics, for the price of one 7 inch single you got “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out”. The songs were recorded during the ‘Rubber Soul’ sessions and were hurried along in order to provide the band with a Christmas release. Apparently Brian Epstein felt that a lack of releases or a lack of visibility would bring an end to the band’s success. When deciding which song to release John Lennon argued strongly for “Day Tripper” while the Paul, George and Ringo went for “We Can Work It Out”, hence it became the first commercial double-A side release. Noel Gallagher off of Oasis has referred to “We Can Work It Out” as the song that defines the Beatles (with the Beatles obviously being the band that defined Oasis!)
The last of the Beatles UK Christmas Number Ones, “Hello Goodbye” was at the top during Christmas 1967. It was also a US number one. The band filmed three promotional clips for the song, which were never aired in the UK at the time because of the Musicians Union embargo on miming. In an interview at the time of the songs release, Paul McCartney was quoted as saying the following when explaining the meaning of the song; “The answer to everything is simple. It’s a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That’s the amazing thing about life”.
So now go ahead and enjoy the five songs that make up the Beatles four UK Christmas Number Ones and at the end there is a special Beatle Christmas treat for you all! Enjoy!