Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cocteau Twins: Frosty the Snowman

Snow, a 1990 EP by the Cocteau Twins, contained their versions of both Frosty The Snowman and Winter Wonderland. It is extremely rare and out of print, and sells for extortionate amounts on eBay. However the two tracks appear on various Christmas compilation CDs, and Frosty is my favourite of the two. Enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Dreaming...

(Irving Gordon / Lester Lee)

I'm doing my Christmas dreaming
A little early this year,
No sign of snow around;
And yet I go around

Hearing Jingle bells ringing in my ear:
Your promise must be the reason
The happy season is here;
So I'm doing my Christmas dreaming
A little early this year.

If you really have to ask why I like this song, you're not reading the lyrics properly. It's obvious: I'm an old romantic. The version in question is hard to find, coming as it did from a cassette compilation (see the post entitled It's Beginning... for details) called The Stars Sing At Christmas. Some real gems were on this tape and I wish I could find it. I can find the album cover:

The version on this album was by Dick Haymes and I fell in love with it instantly - the lyric, the sentiment, the arrangement and Haymes' velvety-smooth voice. In some sort of foolish romantic notion, I resolved to learn it so that I could eventually gaze into the eyes of my beloved and croon it to her while she swooned and fluttered her eyelids. Ah, youth, eh?

The Dick Haymes version proved difficult to find, but thanks to the Interwebs, I can bring it to you now. Fall in love with it as I did.

100 Records That Shook The World, #96

Earl Bostic
Earl Bostic was a multi-instrumentalist who often doubled on trumpet and guitar during his performances as well as the sax, which was his main instrument. He had been playing from an early age and played with some of the greats such as Jack Teagarden, Cab Calloway, Thelonious Monk, Lionel Hampton and Benny Golson. He was a gifted exponent of the R&B style known as Carolina Beach Music, and John Coltrane cited him as one of his influences in a 1960 interview with Down Beat magazine, saying "(Bostic) showed me a lot of things on my horn. He has fabulous technical facilities on his instrument and knows many a trick." He was also praised by Art Blakey, who said "Nobody knew more about the saxophone than Bostic, I mean technically, and that includes Bird. Working with Bostic was like attending a university of the saxophone.When Coltrane played with Bostic, I know he learned a lot."
In 1951 Flamingo was recorded and has remained a favorite with followers of jazz to this day. His famous 'rasping' sax sound, which he had developed in the late '40s as a successful attempt to reach a wider audience, is much in evidence here, and this accounts for the record's huge success and lingering popularity.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

100 Records that Shook The World - #97

It's Too Soon To Know
The Orioles
Generally regarded as the first R&B vocal group, The Orioles were one of the first groups in a long line of groups named after birds (The Cardinals, The Penguins, The Wrens, etc.). The Baltimore natives picked the name of their state bird in preference to their original name, The Vibra-Naires, and also as a nod toanother popular group of the time, The Ravens. They were first noticed after appearing under their original name on the Arthur Godfrey radio show, and soon after signed a record deal. In the September of 1948 their first hit was "It's Too Soon To Know", and soon went to #1in the R&B charts and #13 in the regular pop chart, and in doing so laid the foundation for what was to become known as doo-wop. In 1995 The Orioles were inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Beginning....

... to look a lot like, well, you know the rest. Yes, the holidays are upon us. Every year people bemoan the fact that "the holiday season starts earlier and earlier." Well, it actually doesn't. It starts the same time every year. It's just the fact that it always starts before Halloween that makes it seem that way. But I don't care. Fall and Winter are my favourite times of year. I don't think Christmas is my favourite holiday - it's over too soon, and always anticlimactic once you're older than, say, 13. I just like the coldness, the leaves falling, the sounds, the smells - oh, the pumpkin pie, the stuffing, cookies baking, cinnamon, apple cider, cocoa, peppermint... and the music. I am a Christmas music guy. I love it. It's funny though... although I like all the songs, my favourites are not the most well-known. Although I'm a Bing Crosby fan, his best Christmas song in my opinion is not actually a Christmas song, but rather a Winter song. And a bit of an obscure one at that.

I remember when I first heard it. I had been to Lavells newsagents in my home town of Tenterden, Kent, UK for a browse, and near the counter there was a carousel of Christmas cassettes, you know the sort, the cheap compilations that proliferate everywhere this time of year. Usually kind of disappointing, either re-recordings by the original artist that lack the oomph of the original, or recordings culled from radio broadcasts or live performances that lack the high quality sound of a studio LP. Anyway, I bought some, because, well, what can I say? Money burns a hole in my pocket. It was near the counter. An impulse buy.

One of these tapes was titled 'Christmas With Bing'. Anyway, aside from the usual Christmas fare there were a couple tracks that stood out to me. One was a medley, taken from a radio broadcast, that included Bing's sons Gary, twins Dennis & Phillip, and Lindsay. The medley was of 'The Snowman', 'I'd Like To Hitch A Ride With Santa Claus', and 'That Christmas Feeling'. But the standout track to me was a song entitled "The First Snowfall". A song that I had never ever heard. A wonderfully evocative song, full of great imagery of snowdrifts, sleighing, belly-whoppin' and feeling young "...and a man becomes a boy once again." I have only ever heard one other version of this song since, and that was by The Carpenters, and only as part of a medley along with Let It Snow for their '78 Christmas TV special.

Enjoy the song. No visuals unfortunately because I can't find a YouTube video of it. No matter. Lean back in your chair, relax, sip some hot cocoa and close your eyes to this song.

Where My Homies At?

or rather, "I say chaps - you're awfully quiet out there."
I was reading my dear friend Wildhair's post this a.m. and she was talking about how dull of an existence she actually leads, and I was sympathising with her in my mind when it occurred to me that my existence is fairly dull too (well, up until recently anyway - but we won't get into that right now). The next thought that entered my head was that one of the things that makes this life worthwhile is knowing that one's blog is being read - that someone actually gives a toot - and the key way to know that is if people comment. I haven't received any comments since before Halloween. Where are you folks? Are you still reading? Surely you must have some opinion. Oh well. On with the motley.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 Records That Shook The World, #98

Good Rocking Tonight
Wynonie Harris

This song, which was actually a cover of a jump blues song by Roy Brown, is a primer of sorts on the popular black music of the era, making lyrical reference to Sweet Lorraine, Sioux City Sue, Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, Elder Brown, Deacon Jones. All of these characters had figured prominently in previous hit songs. The hit version which makes this list is by Wynonie Harris.
Harris had a reputation for wild behavior, carousing and partying, and as a consequence he sometimes fogot lyrics. For the most part, this song follows Brown's lyrics, but towards the end Wynonie starts in with a series of loud 'hoy hoy hoy' yells, harking back to earlier jump blues songs, particularly 'The Honeydripper'.
This version also features some black gospel-style handclapping, and it is this feature which is largely responsible for the tune's success, reaching as it did #1 on the national R&B chart and staying on the chart for 6 months.
Elvis Presley's second release on Sun Records was his version of this song. His version was closer to Roy Brown's original, but it failed to chart.
The opening phrase "Have you heard the news, there's good rocking tonight" was taken from the way Edward R. Murrow would open his WW2 news broadcasts, "Have you heard? There's good news tonight!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

100 Records That Shook The World - #99

Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

You reach your destination, but alas and alack! / You need some compensation to get back in the black
You take your morning paper from the top of the stack / And read the situation from the front to the back
The only job that's open needs a man with a knack / So put it right back in the rack, Jack!

Such were the sentiments of many returning home from WW2. Add that to the rhythm that defined what became known as Jump Blues, the great voice of Louis Jordan, backed up by his band the Tympany Five, and you have a monster hit on your hands. In 1946 this song reached #1 on what was called the 'Most-Played Jukebox Race Records' chart by Billboard. The song was written by the same white hillbilly music writers that penned 'Mockingbird Hill' and produced by Milt Gabler, who co-wrote the song and went on to produce Bill Haley's 'Rock Around The Clock'. Haley then recorded his own version of the song for his 'Rock'n'Roll Stage Show.' Enjoy!

Poetry Corner

I remember back in school I was not over-enamoured with poetry. That may have been due to the poets that I was exposed to. In high school the only poem that I found really interesting was Coleridge's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, and I can thank Geoff Reed, my 3rd-year English teacher, for that. Geoff was a very tall red-haired chap with a rich West Country accent which he put to good use reading to us aloud from such classics as Leon Garfield's "Black Jack". It was the first time a book had inspired me to go out to the library and seek out more of the author's work. Unfortunately for Leon Garfield, though, I did not find any of the rest of his work half as entertaining as Black Jack.
In the 6th form we studied a lot of poetry in English Lit., a class which was made more interesting because of the teacher than the subject matter. Jacqui Bousfield was, er, what is the phrase? Out there. She was a wild woman. From her leopardskin-dyed crewcut to her multitude of jewellery hanging from every available point on her ears and fingers (and who knows where else!), to the tight sprayed-on pants, we knew she was hip. She was not some young thing, either. She was at least late thirties or older. Can't put a precise age on her. I hope wherever she is right now, that she hasn't changed at all. Needless to say though, listening to her talk about her life was way more entertaining than Shakespeare or Jane Austen, and those were better than the poetry which the curriculum dictated she teach about. We had a poetry textbook, with several poems by each poet, but we didn't get to read them all, just three poets. The book was full of great ones, including Philip Larkin and Seamus Heaney. But the three we had to deal with were Ted Hughes, Sir John Betjeman and Norman Nicholson.

Nicholson was born in the small industrial town of Millom on the edge of the Lake District. He lived in the same house for most of his life and suffered from pulmonary TB. His poems I found very dull because he wrote in very simple, direct terms, using the vernacular of the people in his hometown. I did not care for his style, it seemed very bleak, though I did like parts of his scathing anti-nuclear poem, Windscale, named after the local power station, now known as Sellafield...

The toadstool towers infest the shore:
Stink-horns that propagate and spore
Wherever the wind blows...

This is a land where dirt is clean,
And poison pasture quick and green,
And storm sky, bright and bare;
Where sewers flow with milk, and meat
Is carved up for the fire to eat,
And children suffocate in God's fresh air.


But just recently I've been getting back into poetry. A few of them seem to speak to me on some deep visceral level. And some, it has to be said, make me tear up. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm a softie. Recently while at the library I discovered one that was so simple and yet so moving that I have to reproduce it here. It is translated from Japanese, originally written by Fujiwara no Kiyosuke (1104-1177):

I may live on until

I long for this time

In which I am so unhappy,

And remember it fondly.

And I love this one by W.E. Henley. It bucks me up when my spirits are low.


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Another poet whose work I admire is A.E. Housman.

XIII. When I was one-and-twenty

from "A Shropshire Lad" (1896)

WHEN I was one-and-twenty

I heard a wise man say,

‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas

But not your heart away;

Give pearls away and rubies

But keep your fancy free.’

But I was one-and-twenty,

No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty

I heard him say again,

‘The heart out of the bosom

Was never given in vain;

’Tis paid with sighs a plenty

And sold for endless rue.’

And I am two-and-twenty,

And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.


LIV. With rue my heart is laden

from "A Shropshire Lad" (1896)

WITH rue my heart is laden

For golden friends I had,

For many a rose-lipt maiden

And many a lightfoot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping

The lightfoot boys are laid;

The rose-lipt girls are sleeping

In fields where roses fade.


Lastly, for today at least, I want to post one of my favorite poems. It is probably familiar to those of you who've seen the movie "Four Weddings And A Funeral". It is read by John Hannah (one of the most underrated actors ever, in my opinion) as Matthew, on the occasion of the funeral of Gareth, his partner (portrayed brilliantly by Simon Callow). It is a poem by W.H. Auden and is known to most people as "Stop All The Clocks..." but is in fact titled "Funeral Blues".

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Repost: A Musical Morning!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Musical Morning!
And I don't mean musical as in 'Carousel', 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers', or even 'Grease', I just mean musical. Although, that would make an interesting post, with a poll... what's your favourite Broadway musical? etc. No, I mean I've just been listening to some interesting music this a.m. while taking the kids to school, driving to the store etc. The first CD I plucked from my case was one I put together a few years ago, titled 'NWOBHM'. For those of you not 'in the know' that stands for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and refers to that late 70s, early 80s period in the UK when all kinds of new HM bands sprung up, including Motorhead, Judas Priest, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Girlschool, and lesser-known bands such as Witchfynde, Venom, Angelwitch, and Dumpy's Rusty Nuts. Seriously.

Anyway, I won't go into detail suffice it to say I was doing some serious headbanging (well, as much headbanging as one can do while driving a minivan at 70mph on the freeway).The next CD I put on the player was another one I burned way back when entitled "80's Inna UK Stylee" which included the following slices of pop heaven:

'Kiss' by Age Of Chance. This band was an alternative rock-dance crossover band from Leeds. This song reached #1 in the UK indie chart but only managed #50 on the regular chart, despite John Peel being one of their early champions. Still, I love their take on Prince's 'Kiss' and it still rocks.

'Happy Birthday' by Altered Images. There are several reasons to love this. Firstly, Clare Grogan, who had been featured in Bill Forsyth's movie Gregory's Girl, was (and, as far as I know, still is) HOT! Secondly, it was featured in the classic John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles. Thirdly, John Peel loved them and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees produced it. Lastly, it's just so dang catchy.

'(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang' by Heaven 17. English DJ Mike Read has a history of banning songs for whatever reason, and because of its overtly political lyrics, this song irked him sufficiently. That, for me, would be enough reason to like it, but it's just so funky it's hard not to.

'That's Love That It Is' by Blancmange. This is a great track from a great band that evidently have recently reformed and are putting together material for a new album. Hurrah!

'Drowning In Berlin' by The Mobiles. This may be the best band from Eastbourne ever. Apparently David (bass) and Anna Maria (vocals) both got fired from their day jobs because they took a day off to be on Top Of The Pops.

'I'm In Love With A German Film Star' by The Passions. The archetype of a one-hit wonder, this dreamy synth-europop song has been covered by such different acts as Pet Shop Boys and Foo Fighters.

'The Last Film' by Kissing The Pink. This band started as post-punk, then avant-garde, and gradually became more club-friendly. They still like to mix musical styles and are still out there playing.

'Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)' by It's Immaterial. John Campbell puts his foot down on the pedal – ever so gently – to cruise out along the M62. A Mini-Midwestern road movie transported to Liverpool. - Du Noyer, C. (2002) "Liverpool: Wonderous Place", Virgin Books, London, p. 264. Says it all really.

and lastly 'Cry Boy Cry' by Blue Zoo.
I can already hear a lot of my contemporaries groaning. I don't care. I like it.Alright. See ya tomorrow.
Posted by Jeff Hickmott at 7:32 AM 1 comments

Repost: Just Buggin'

Just Buggin'
There are a lot of things on my mind today, and I am probably going to have to give each topic a sub-section of its own so as not to confuse you, the reader, or myself, which is most important.
So, here we go:

I was thinking about my previous post concerning my wife's taste in music, and it occurred to me that there was one super-annoying track that she loves but that sets my teeth on edge whenever I hear it. The song in question is (and here is where I apologize in advance for alienating some of my readership and also about half the female population of the USA, if not the entire Western Hemisphere, because this guy seems to be universally adored...sorry for what follows) 'I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. Why do I dislike this song? The reasons are many. Ahem.

Firstly, I cannot tolerate the too-cutesy way he sings it. All the women swoon over this, but he's trying too hard.

Secondly, the lyrics, again, trying too hard to be hip, with the "you done done me" and the "tried to be chill" lines.

Thirdly, the lines "Before the cool done run out I'll be giving it my bestest/And nothing's gonna stop me but divine intervention". Ack. 1) It doesn't rhyme, and 2) "bestest" Are you serious, Jason? What are you, five?

Fourthly, that little scat section in the 'Do you want to come on' portion of the song. If you can't scat, don't scat, skedoodn'daddy. And the following couplet about 'scooching on over' so he can 'nibble your ear'. Pass the bucket... too cutesy...

Don't get me wrong, I actually did like Jason at one point, when he contributed his version of 'I Melt With You' to the 50 First Dates soundtrack. But I hear this song and I want to hold his head underwater for an extended period of time.

In researching Jason for this post I looked up his Wikipedia entry and found another reason to be annoyed with him. Turns out he did a duet with Colbie Caillat, "Lucky". Now, I have not heard this song, and Colbie is another person who bugs me, but not because of her music, which is quite nice. She annoys me because:

a) There's a commercial in which her music is featured, I think for Walmart, in which she voices over "Hi, I'm Colbie Caillat,..." and at that point I quit listening to what she is saying because I am infuriated with her pronunciation of Caillat. OK, it's her name, and she is allowed to pronounce it starfish if she so chooses, but as I took French in school, I know damn well that Caillat is not pronounced "Cah-lay" as in the French port Calais. It should be "Kye-yacht" as in CAILLAT!!!!

b) Her father co-produced Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours", to my mind one of the most overrated albums of all time;

c) She's a friend of Kara DioGuardi;

d) She did a cover of 'Kiss The Girl" (another aggravating song) from The Little Mermaid (an equally aggravating movie) for the CD 'DisneyMania vol.6'.

If those aren't enough reasons to be aggravated, I don't know what.


OK, let's get on to language abuse. I was unfortunate enough to witness at breakfast the other day a large group of people, all talking about bidness and he be dis and she be dat and have a goot wh' (we can't even get the whole syllable of 'one' out?) and finishing with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday To Me ( I kid you not) replete with loud annoying "Whooo!" noises at the end of each line. It almost made me revisit my Danish pastries.

Later that same day at the restaurant I had a tableful of the exact same kind of people ordering their salats and drinking strawberry lemonate. It's a good thing we didn't have chicken tetrazzini on the menu or they'd have probably been all ober dat.

Well, that's about it for today, I guess. Carry on. As you were.
Posted by Jeff Hickmott at 7:39 AM 0 comments

100 Records That Shook The World - #100

Back in the early 90s a British music mag named VOX (now sadly defunct) published a list of what it considered to be the 100 most important records, ones that defined and changed the face of popular music. The list was not in order of importance, but in chronological order, so that one could see how music had changed and been influenced by the previous generation. The record at #100 was incredible, in that it was a country record. It is easy to understand by listening how this can in fact be considered the first rock n' roll record. Enjoy Hank Williams' "Move It On Over".

The Sun... etc.

Two versions, the first from one of my absolute all-time favourite flicks, "Truly Madly Deeply" starring Juliet Stevenson and the always wonderful Alan Rickman.

The next version is the original by the fabulous Walker Brothers. Fun fact: they weren't brothers.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Know It's Over

Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
And as I climb into an empty bed
Oh well... Enough said
I know it's over - still I cling
I don't know where else I can go
Oh...Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
See, the sea wants to take me
The knife wants to slit me
Do you think you can help me ?
Sad veiled bride, please be happy
Handsome groom, give her room
Loud, loutish lover, treat her kindly
(although she needs youmore than she loves you)
And I know it's over - still I cling
I don't know where else I can go
(Over and over and over and over
Over and over...)
I know it's over
And it never really began
But in my heart it was so real
And you even spoke to me, and said:
"If you're so funny
Then why are you on your own tonight?
And if you're so clever
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you're so very entertaining
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you're so very good-looking
Why do you sleep alone tonight?
I know...
Because tonight is just like any other night
That's why you're on your own tonight
With your triumphs and your charms
While they're in each other's arms...
"It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind
(Over, over, over, over)
It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind(Over, over)
Love is Natural and Real
But not for you, my love
Not tonight, my love
Love is Natural and Real
But not for such as you and I, my love
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...