Thursday 28 May 2020

30-Day Song Challenge Week 4

Day 23 ( the last week! )
A song you think everybody should listen to A classic, caustic dissection of the UK by Punk's most underrated songwriter, TV Smith, which still unfortunately resonates today:
"The great British mistake was looking for a way out / Was getting complacent / Not noticing the pulse was racing / The mistake was fighting the change / Was staying the same / We couldn't adapt so we couldn't survive / Something had to give / The people took a downhill slide / Into the gloom into the dark recesses of their minds"

Day 24
A song by a band you wish were still together Although I could have gone with an obvious, "classic" band ( Led Zep, REM etc ), instead here's one of my fave bands of recent years - The Sunshine Underground
Typically for me I discovered this band not long before they announced their split and, to make things worse, they were one of the few bands that Sarah and I both liked. Hopefully they'll get back together at some point  -  most groups seem to do this eventually, as the recent reunions for LCD Soundsystem and My Chemical Romance demonstrate. ( Okay, Covid-19 has delayed the much-anticipated MCR reunion but it's still apparently on the cards for next year if the world ever gets back to "normal" )

Day 25
A song you like by an artist no longer living I was a big fan of Whitney's and it's just tragic that her life ended so prematurely. This is a wonderful remix of an old song that was a posthumous hit last year. Hard to believe this song was originally only a B-side as Whitney's vocals are amazing on this Steve Winwood cover.

Day 26
A song that makes you want to fall in love Perfect Skin by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions "She's got cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin"
Who wouldn't want to fall in love with someone lik that? Oh, and she's "sexually enlightened by Cosmopolitan"? Can't have it all, I suppose...

Day 27
A song that breaks your heart Reminds me of a girl called Jo Day I had a major crush on at school. We kinda, nearly, almost went out but stayed "friends" and then she left for another school and I never saw her again...

Day 28
A song by an artist whose voice you love One of my fave modern artists, Annie Clark / St Vincent has a deceptively powerful voice, tough and tender at the same time, and is a true inheritor of the art-pop style of Bowie etc. Never quite figured out why she hasn't become a bigger star.

Day 29
A song you remember from your childhood Of course, there had to be an Abba song in here, and what a belter it is, a Glam stomp with the trademark Abba hooks and harmonies. My my!

Day 30
A song that reminds you of yourself Last day of the challenge and it's this self-explanatory tune from Glasgow's underrated Britpop songsmiths The Supernaturals

Well, that was a lot of fun! I had talked about doing a film challenge next but, after discussions with my fellow Twitterers ( that's a word, okay? ), we've now decided to do a 30-Day Comic Challenge where we talk about our favourite super heroes, swamp monsters and slices of life from paper pamphlets of years gone by. Should be interesting...
Hopefully after all that I'll get back to the film challenge. ( Sorry Paul McScotty! )

Tuesday 19 May 2020

30-Day Song Challenge Week 3

Up to my usual standards as ever, week three is a day late but ( hopefully ) worth it.
Okay, pop pickers, here we go with this week's rundown...

Day 15  -  A song you like that's a cover by another artist
One of my fave loud, weird bands ( Pixies ) covering another of my fave loud, weird bands ( Jesus &Mary Chain ) at 100 mph - not your John Lewis ad type of cover...
Head On by Pixies

Day 16  -  A song that's a classic favourite
This category's open to wide interpretation. I'm going way back with one of my fave songs from one of my fave movies
Singin' In The Rain by Gene Kelly

Day 17  -  A song you'd sing a duet with someone on karaoke
In the unlikely event this ever happened I'd go with ( Engage sarcasm mode. Sarcasm mode engaged. ) this romantic, classic duet from Husker Du - New Day Rising

Day 18  -  A song from the year you were born
Virtually impossible to pick just one song from 1966, pop's annus mirabilis ( Latin? at this time of day? ), but I'm going with this masterpiece from Tina Turner and Phil Spector. I mean, I could have picked songs from The Beatles, Stones, Temptations, Dylan, Byrds, Kinks, Supremes, Dusty, Wilson Pickett, Beach Boys, Four Tops... the list goes on...
River Deep Mountain High by Tina Turner

Day 19  -  A song that makes you think about life
Breathe by Pink Floyd from their emotional Live8 reunion in 2005 Just like Dave Gilmour here, I may have something in my eye

Day 20  -  A song that has many meanings to you
I'm cheating slightly here as it's technically more than one song. I wrote about Abbey Road and this song ( and my feelings for both ) on my old 15 Albums blog...
The "Long Medley" by The Beatles

Day 21  -  A song you like with a person's name in the title
Some folkin' folk music crossed with electronica. My first choice was See Emily Play by Pink Floyd but I've already posted a Floyd song. Plus I thought I should go with something more recent before this all turns into one big nostalgia fest
Jon Taylor's Month Away by King Creosote

My apologies for the different fonts on display here  -  I've copied and pasted some of this from my Twitter page and it doesn't fit too well. I wanted to get this post done today and not let things drag on for too long, so it's a bit rough 'n' ready. Unlike myself. I'm smooth as peaches and cream. That's gone through a blender. ( What am I talking about? Blame the lockdown ) I'll see if I can edit things when I get a minute...
Anyway, if anyone would like to take part and post some of their own fave songs in the comments that would be groovy, baby! See you next week pop pickerzzz.

Country roads take me home

As we're now allowed to go ( slightly ) further for our self-isolating walks, this weekend we took a stroll past my old home in the depths of the Gloucestershire countryside. Well, I say "stroll" but we went out for a 4-hour walk and picnic and somehow ended up there. It was the first time I'd seen the house and farm up close in over 20 years so it was quite strange to see the changes to the place but also lovely to remind myself of what a wonderful home I grew up in.

We parked up in the village of Nupend then walked across a couple of fields, through the delightfully named Mole Grove ( a small wood, carpeted in wild garlic, where we saw a couple of deer ) then had our picnic under a couple of oak trees in a recently-mowed meadow. The impressive dead tree above looked like some clawed hand reaching for the sky.

We walked further down the gentle slope and into my former stomping grounds in the village of Moreton Valence where we met these lovely characters. They were very curious to see people walking along the footpath and came bounding across to meet us.

From there we walked along the bridle path into Manor Farm. Unsurprisingly I found that quite a lot had changed in the last couple of decades: some old farm buildings had been demolished, newer ones had been built, and trees which had been planted to screen off the nearby M5 motorway had grown immensely from the saplings I remembered, making a lovely avenue at one point, as seen below:

We walked past my old home and took a couple of cheeky photos whilst I bored the kids with tales of my childhood. Actually, they were both very interested. Sophie had been taken to the farm as a very young girl but didn't remember it while James had never seen it up close.

On our way back to the hill we passed through a small wood, a former coppice which has been left to grow, and which we always just called ( with startling originality ) "the coppice". Sarah was determined to find the grave of my old labrador, Buxton ( aka Buck aka "Where's that bloody dog gone this time?" ) who passed away back in 1993 and was buried in the wood. We'd never properly maintained this and it had become overgrown but Sarah found and uncovered it. It was sad to think that the old dog had been gone for so long but it also provoked warm memories of days gone by and the fun we used to have.

Here are me and Buxton back in the day, a boy and his dog:

So, a lovely day with the family but with some mixed emotions, magnified by the strange times we're living through at the moment. It was great to see my old home again and remember the 23 years I spent there growing up on a working farm with loving parents.

Monday 11 May 2020

30-Day Song Challenge Week 2

Day 8  -  A song about drugs or alcohol
Feel Good Hit Of The Summer by Queens Of The Stone Age

Okay, it's actually a song about drugs and alcohol  -  there's obviously never enough for Josh Homme. All together now: "Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol, c-c-c-c-c-cocaine!"

Day 9  -  A song that makes you happy
My Girl by The Temptations

Yep, every time. "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day." And, just like that, the clouds part...

Day 10  -  A song that makes you sad
Shorley Wall by Ooberman

We've all got enough reasons to be sad at the moment but, anyway, this is just a beautiful song. It skirts close to being twee but the heart-rending ending monologue rescues it.

Day 11  -  A song you never get tired of
Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads

40 years after it was recorded this song still sounds totally unique  -  a masterpiece of twitchy, neurotic funk-pop. It's one of those few songs that I usually have to play twice in a row  -  it's never long enough.

Day 12  -  A song from your pre-teen years
Rubber Bullets by 10CC

When I was very young I was given a bunch of singles by an older friend which basically started my record collection. I've still got them and Rubber Bullets is still a favourite. The video above is actually the album version but the TOTP version I wanted to post is a heavily edited take of the single and, while it's a great view of a '70s band, this features more of the actual song...

Day 13  -  A song you like from the '70s
Search And Destroy by Iggy & The Stooges

When I was in the Death Planet Commandos we used to cover Search & Destroy ( everyone did! ) and it was just great fun to play. A proto-Punk classic!

Day 14  -  A song you'd love to be played at your wedding
Catch by The Cure

Actually a song we did have played at our wedding. Sarah and I were both great fans of The Cure and this was our "first dance" at our wedding disco. To be fair, the DJ probably got fed up with our lists of demands  -  play this, play that, no bloody "Agadoo" etc. etc.

So, Week 2 accomplished with a minimum of effort and even a guest appearance by Zia from the Dandy Warhols! ( Not that she knows about it but I'm sure she'd appreciate the sentiment and I know she digs a lot of the music here. )
If anyone else would like to join in I'd love to see your choices, just drop me a comment.
See you next week, same time, same channel ( probably )

Saturday 9 May 2020

Lockdown shelf porn ( not *actual* porn )

During this lockdown we've all become accustomed to seeing newsreaders, celebrities and the like on our televisions, broadcasting from their homes, often with some ostentatiously-positioned books on their bookshelves behind them. These bookshelves often look unbelievably tidy and organised and, in reaction, some ( ordinary ) people have taken to posting photos of their untidy, un-posed shelves too. Never one to miss a pointless trend, I've jumped on the shelf porn bandwagon and so here are just some of my books, with some random Doctor Who DVDs thrown in as a bonus.
Can you spot any of your favourites?

Monday 4 May 2020

30-Day Song Challenge Week 1

As I'm sure everyone appreciates, we're all trying to distract ourselves during these crazy times. There are many polls, quizzes and the like on t'internet to help people think about happier days and to just generally help our brains keep ticking over. Just for fun I thought I'd post the results of a song challenge I'm currently doing on Twitter, one week at a time. And, of course, the beauty of doing it here at TGW-S is that I'm not hampered by Twitter's character limit so I can waffle on to my heart's content. Here we go:

Day 1  -  A  song you like with a colour in the title
Purple Haze by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Well, it's Hendrix. What more can I say? THAT guitar riff, " 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky", the feeling that the sky was now not the limit, early psychedelia at its rawest, perfection.

Day 2  -  A song you like with a number in the title
Song 2 by Blur

Song 2. Second song on its parent album, 2:02 minutes long, got to number 2 in the charts

Day 3  -  A song that reminds you of summertime
Walking Barefoot by Ash

Yet another noise-pop nugget from one of my all-time fave live bands. Tim Wheeler's lyrics are often elemental, concerned with the seasons, the weather, the sun and moon, the pains and pleasure of love as if it was an elemental force itself.

Day 4 - A song that reminds you of someone you'd rather forget
Vienna  by Ultravox

I'm not really a fan of the 'Vox but this is a fine, windswept example of overblown '80s pop. And, no, I won't be going into who it reminds me of.

Day 5  -  A song that needs to be played LOUD!
The Ace Of Spades by Motorhead

Okay, this may not be THE classic Motorhead line-up but it's still a cracking performance of a mighty tune and being part of The Young Ones makes it an important moment in pop culture. Obviously.

Day 6  -  A song that makes you want to dance
Liquidator by The Harry J All Stars

A seminal Trojan Records single. Brings back memories of school discos, Young Farmers discos and youth club discos and pestering every DJ to play this tune. ( I actually didn't go to that many discos but it's a word that doesn't see the light of day much any more so if I can use it 4 times in one paragraph I think it makes the world a better place. )

Day 7  -  A song to drive to
Cadillac Ranch by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce obviously has many "car" songs in his repertoire but this is one of my faves  -  an unpretentious, foot-to-the-floor rocker.
"1, 2, 3, 4...!"

So, that was Week 1. Tune in next week to see if I manage to keep up the manic pace of thinking of one song a day. It's going to be tricky.

And, finally Esther, a big shout out ( as DJs probably still say? ) to Pete and Dave who have been joining me on this trip into stereophonic sound on Twitter. They are, of course, two-thirds of the legendary Kids From Rec Road and you can read their highly unlikely comic strip adventures here.


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