Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Friday, April 30, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, #73

In Inglewood Park Cemetery in California lies the grave of one Richard Berry, probably one of the most important names in rock. He is remembered not for his deep bass voice on Etta James'  first big hit The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry), not for his work with The Flairs, The Dreamers or the Pharaohs, nor his menacing introduction on The Robins' Riot In Cell Block #9. So what is he remembered for? Writing this song:
Louie, Louie
The Kingsmen
When Berry left the Flairs to form The Pharaohs, he continued working as a singer and songwriter with other groups. Among these was a band called Rick Rillera and The Rhythm Rockers, a Latin R&B outfit. In 1955, Berry was inspired to write a new calypso-style song, "Louie Louie", based on The Rhythm Rockers version of René Touzet's "El Loco Cha Cha", and also influenced by Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon". Richard Berry and the Pharaohs recorded and released the song as a B-side on Flip Records in 1957. It became a minor regional hit, was re-released as an A-side and, when the group toured the Pacific Northwest, several local R&B bands began to adopt the song and established its popularity. "Louie Louie" finally became a major hit when The Kingsmen's raucous version – with little trace of its calypso-like origins other than in its lyrics - became a national and international hit in 1963. The nearly unintelligible (and innocuous) lyrics were widely misinterpreted as obscene, and the song was banned by radio stations and even investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The song has been recorded over 1,000 times, but, because Berry sold its copyright cheaply in 1959, he received little financial reward for its success for many years. 

The song's lyrics are a first-person story of a man and his lost love, told to Louie (a bartender, we assume) much in the same vein of One For My Baby, And One More For The Road.
So what are the actual lyrics, I hear you cry? Well, I was hoping you would ask.


Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home


Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl, constantly
On that ship, I dream she's there
I smell the rose in her hair.


Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!


See Jamaica, the moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
Take her in my arms again
Tell her I'll never leave again


Let's take it on outa here now
Let's go!!

There are several things that contribute to the myth of the supposedly obscene lyrics. Take the words of rock critic Dave Marsh:
Back in 1963, everybody who knew anything about rock 'n' roll knew that the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" concealed dirty words that could be unveiled only by playing the 45 rpm single at 33-1/3. This preposterous fable bore no scrutiny even at the time, but kids used to pretend it did, in order to panic parents, teachers, and other authority figures. Eventually those ultimate authoritarians, the FBI got involved, conducting a thirty-month investigation that led to "Louie"'s undying - indeed, unkillable - reputation as a dirty song.
So "Louie Louie" leaped up the chart on the basis of a myth about its lyrics so contagious that it swept cross country quicker than bad weather. Nobody - not you, not me, not the G-men ultimately assigned to the case - knows where the story started. That's part of the proof that it was a myth, because no folk tales ever have a verifiable origin. Instead society creates them through cultural spontaneous combustion.
In retrospect, it's easy to identify the aspects of the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" that made the "filthy lyrics" myth even a tiny bit plausible.  The pidgin English narration of the lyrics was unusual enough, and comprehension difficulties were compounded on the Kingsmen's recording by several factors:
  • Lead singer Jack Ely had strained his voice participating in a marathon 90-minute "Louie Louie" jam the night before the session.
  • Ely was singing with braces on his teeth.
  • The boom microphone in the studio was fixed way too high for Ely, who had to stand on tiptoe and sing up into the mike.
  • What the band thought was a rehearsal run-through turned out to be the one and only take of the song.
Some of this seems unlikely, however, since it was recorded by trained technicians and engineers in a professional recording studio, but it makes a good story, and clearly, just adds to the mystique of the song.
    The mean and moody Kingsmen.
    However, the song made #1 on the Cashbox chart and #2 on Billboard's Hot 100. The song is ranked at #55 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    We Be Jammin'

    A jam session is defined variously as "An informal gathering of musicians to play improvised or unrehearsed music" and "an occasion when musicians play music together in an informal way". Which is essentially the same thing said in a different order. Jam sessions have been around since the dawn of the jazz age and possibly even before that, where musicians can work on new material, try different ideas, and generally have fun. Well, last night was no exception.

    This isn't purple, but it is the same kit.
    I'm sure I've mentioned on many an occasion that I was in various bands throughout the '80s and that I recorded a lot of solo demos in the late '80s/early '90s (which you can hear at my MySpace artist page). My mate Andy and I went to a place in Ashford called RightTrack which offers rehearsal rooms, music tuition and recording facilities all under one roof. We had booked a rehearsal room which, including use of the very nice Pearl Export 5-piece kit (purple is my favourite colour) and the big-ass PA, was only £18 for 2 hours.... not at all bad.

    Andy's is a sunburst.

    We did not have any preconceived notion of what we were going to play. The first thing I noticed was how good I was considering I have not sat behind a drum kit in 20 years. After a few teething troubles with Andy's guitar (a nice Ovation semi-acoustic) we had a stab at a few rock classics - Hey Joe and the like - and slowly became more cohesive on numbers such as All Day And All Of The Night. But it was when we just jammed, let the juices flow, and improvised that we not only played the longest but sounded the best.

    This one includes the little-known tunes Burn So Blue and Trip.
    When I came home I was so jazzed from rockin' it out (in the truest sense of the words, my fellow Outbackers*) that I dug out all my old tapes from the '80s and beyond, even those from my very first band (we were terrible - have I mentioned that fact before? I just thank the Lord above that the tapes are all that survived and that there are no pictures of the band playing, although I have been reliably informed that there is a video somewhere - eek!) and played them until the wee hours. I must say that barring the poor musicianship and lousy vocals, a lot of my early tapes had some good ideas in them, particularly lyrically, but also in little flashes of occasional brilliance contained within songs, chiefly some of the more obscure ones with titles like  Big & Beautiful, At One, Jane and Trees In Winter.

    Anyone interested in getting the band back together? Let's raaaawwkk!!!

    *Outbackers refers to the fine group of individuals that I worked with at the Gainesville, Georgia (G-Vegas) location of Outback Steakhouse,  where the rallying cry was "Rock It Out!". My fellow Outbackers were Kory, Erin L., Shea, Megan, Erin S., Ray (word up!), Deko, Jacob C., Mandy, Jacob R., Kyle, Mulkey, Steph, Casandra, Rashida, Gaby, Andrea, Heather, Amanda, Cindel, Claire, Ashley L., Ashley Y., Brandy, Kim, Julia, Chancey, Jessi, Stephen (hey sexy man!), Corey, Chad, Mario, Rob, Elmo, Trey, Dee, Angel (mas vasos por favor!), Whitney, W2, Lindsey, Brice, Brantley, Patty, Ben, Shelley, Moose, Ashley M., Luke, and if I've missed anyone, I apologise... love y'all!

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Bargain Bin Fever

    I realise that the CD is now almost 30 years old, but there's still something viscerally exciting about vinyl. I'm in a charity shop and I see LPs and 45s and my heart rate quickens. Ooh, someone's had a clearout of all their old records. Let's have a dig around, shall we?

    I say this because it happened to me just the other day. When in New Romney with my Sis (see post on the food blog titled Biggles Goes Børk Børk Børk) I went into two charity shops - one, a branch of the British Red Cross charity shop, where I purchased two books (a copy of Roald Dahl's Matilda and Pam Ayres' Surgically Enhanced), and then another charity shop which I can't remember the name of, where I found a treasure trove of old discs, cassettes and VHS videos. Ah. If I'd had more time I would have given them a thorough examination, but alas, we were on a bit of a tight schedule and besides, we were getting hungry! In amongst the 45s were some real belters. Of course, I had no intention of buying any, at least not until I get a stereo with a decent turntable that can do them justice. But there on the top of the heap was the Kids From Fame's Hi-Fidelity. Ah, those heady days of 1982. Leroy and Bruno and Danny and Professor Shorofsky. It seems like only yesterday.
    This is actually an original sleeve turned into a decorative lampshade,
    available at
    Handsome devil, ain't he?
    The next gem I unearthed was Billy Ocean's Caribbean Queen. I know we've talked about our Bill in a previous post, but in case you missed it, here's what he used to look like...

    The teeth are the same, and they're all his, girls!
    And here's his more recent look.

    A bit of a change, I trust you'll agree.

    The next one was pretty damn cool too. Anybody remember  Mr. Terence Trent D'Arby?
    Moody guy.

    There was also this little number from Chuck D and his combo.

    What the heck happened to Flavor Flav? When did he lose his damn mind?

    Aaaanyway, I continued on undeterred, skipping past the dross of Bros, and coming to the pick of the litter.

    I had found it. The creme de la creme.

    Ah, the Bunnymen at their brilliant best. There are no words to describe how catchy this song is until it gets stuck in your head at 3 am. and you can't get to sleep because all you hear is "Seeeeeeven seeeeeeas, swimming them so weeeeeelll..."

    Well, since I didn't buy them I'll just have to add them to my vinyl wishlist. Along with this item....

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, #74

    She Loves You

    The Beatles

    In August 2009, at the end of its "Beatles Weekend", BBC Radio 2 announced that "She Loves You" was The Beatles' all-time best-selling single in the UK based on information compiled by The Official Charts Company.

    The song was composed by John and Paul one night after a concert in Newcastle on the same bill as Roy Orbison and Gerry & The Pacemakers.  In 2003, plans to install a plaque at the hotel concerned were stalled after it turned out neither Paul McCartney nor Ringo Starr, the surviving Beatles, could recall whether it was the Imperial Hotel or the Royal Turk's Head where the group had stayed.

    The inspiration for the song came from a Bobby Rydell tune, Forget Him.  The plan had been to do an answering song, but with a third-person viewpoint. The 'woooo's came from their admiration for the Isley Brothers, and, according to John, "I don't know where the 'yeah yeah yeah' came from. I remember when Elvis did "All Shook Up" it was the first time in my life that I had heard 'uh huh', 'oh yeah', and 'yeah yeah' all sung in the same song".

    The song shook up the airwaves, and the establishment too. Those 'yeah yeah yeahs' were seen as very controversial. McCartney recalls them playing the finished song on acoustic guitars to his father at home immediately after the song was completed: "We went into the living room [and said] 'Dad, listen to this. What do you think? And he said 'That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you sing "She loves you, yes, yes, yes!". At which point we collapsed in a heap and said 'No, Dad, you don't quite get it!'"

    In November 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "She Loves You" as the 64th Greatest Song of All Time. In October 2005, Uncut magazine named "She Loves You" as the third biggest song that changed the world, behind Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" and Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone".

    British Rednecks

    As I was watching TV the other night I came across a story of a couple who were married in Ashford in 1985. From a Daily Mail article of 2005:

    "The wedding of Jeanette and Alan Monk took place one sunny spring afternoon in 1978. As the bride walked down the aisle, a vision in white lace and veil, Alan gasped. After they had said their vows and were pronounced man and wife, the misty-eyed pair joyfully contemplated the rest of their lives together.

    But then, as they were walking arm in arm out of the Church of St Francis in Ashford, Kent, Alan caught sight of a particular member of the congregation. It was an auburn-haired lady of a certain age in a navy and red dress - the bride's mother, Valerie.

    Time stood still, his heart pounded - he had been struck by a coup de foudre. In that moment - subconsciously, admittedly - Alan knew he had married the wrong woman. He didn't desire Jeanette - he wanted his mother-in-law!

    But Alan was to suffer seven long years of torment before he won the hand of his beloved. And there were stumbling blocks - to put it mildly - along the way. Having declared himself to Valerie and asked her if she would consent to be his wife, he discovered that King Henry VIII had banned such unions some 400 years earlier.

    But no killjoy King was going to prevent true love from taking its course.

    The pair pleaded their case before the House of Commons and the House of Lords before receiving Royal Assent to a Special Act of Parliament that finally allowed them to marry.

    Alan married his mother-in-law on June 15, 1985, at Ashford register office."

    This story is freakish enough on its own. I mean, even though I personally have no problem with people marrying their ex's mums, it's still a little odd to go from being a son-in-law to a husband, and for the ex-wife to have absolutely no problem with it is weird, especially when there are children involved. That's right - Alan and Jeanette had two kids before he could divorce her and marry Valerie. Weirder and weirder. What, one must ask, do the kids call him? Dad or Grandad?
    But here's the thing - even barring all those apparent anomalies, there is still the fact that both Alan and Valerie are, well, not pretty.
    Here's what they looked like in an article from the July 23, 1985 Weekly World News:
    Scary, innit?
    Here they are today.
    Unlike a fine wine, not improving with age.

    It's almost like a line from Jeff Foxworthy... "If your mother-in-law has a face that looks like a bag of chisels, and you still find her attractive... you might be a redneck."

    I know I'm being rude, but sweet Lord!

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Goosebump City

    Earlier this evening I was on Facebook (like that's a surprise) and a mate posted a YouTube video of one of my favouritest ever ever ever (OK, that's quite enough) songs, the lovely Song To The Siren by This Mortal Coil.

    This is a song that can produce goosebumps on me every time. I had the computer speakers on fairly loudly and at first I worried that it would be too loud for the other occupants of the house, but after hearing no voice of complaint after about 15 seconds I decided to just let the thing play. At the end of it I shivered a little, wiped a dewy tear from my eye and thought,".....aaaahhhhhh. It just does not get any better than that."

    There is a short list of songs that have the power to do that. If I played them all at once I would just be a puddle at the end of it.

    Here are some.

    Roy Orbison - In Dreams

    Ronettes - Be My Baby

    Monsoon (feat. Sheila Chandra) - Sunset Over The Ganges

    The Smiths - Asleep

    The Art Of Noise - Moments In Love

    This Mortal Coil - Kangaroo

    David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Forbidden Colours

    Japan - Ghosts

    Goosebump City.

    Bringing Up The Rear

    When one sees a montage of beautiful female posteriors set to music, and one is a red-blooded male (and a lifelong ass man (what? I can't say that now? I like women's bottoms. There. You satisfied?)), what is a person to do in the company of one's mother?

    I am referring to a commercial I saw earlier tonight while watching an episode of Poirot and digesting a delicious meal of pork chops, roasties and Savoy cabbage. One moment, David Suchet as the Belgian sleuth, next moment, bottom after delicious bottom is revealed in ever-skimpier apparel. It was enough to make a blind eunuch blush.

    What was it advertising, I hear you cry in unison?

    Reebok sneakers.

    Yes, you heard me right. Sneakers. Trainers. Track shoes. Ones that apparently are so designed that when you walk in them, they tone and firm not only your legs but your sweet lil' tushy too. I'm waiting for the sneakers that can make me an early morning cuppa and do my job for me as well.

    For those lustful types (I know you're there, I can hear the heavy breathing) I will now play said montage o' behinds for you.

    I just love the way that she says "a better bum".

    Anyway, it was odd, because right after this commercial, was a commercial for Weight Watchers, followed by one for BUPA health insurance. It was like, what are you trying to say, ITV? If the sneakers and Weight Watchers don't work for you, you've always got health insurance to fall back on?

    Remember the days when shoes were just shoes? There seems to be an awful lot of shoes these days designed to give you a workout simply by strapping them on your feet. From Reebok Easytone to Fitflops and those strange ones with the curved sole, manufacturers are trying to convince us that all it takes is walking around in bizarre footwear to give us that perfect bod. Well, really. If that was seriously all it took, I'd buy some tomorrow. Or even right now on the Interwebs.

    All right, rant over. Back to the bums.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, #75

    You've Really Got A Hold On Me

    The Miracles

    An interesting one, this, a song about a man who can't leave a woman despite the fact that she treats him badly. Released in 1962, in the pre-"Smokey Robinson and The Miracles" days, this was another one of those songs that was a B-side that became more popular than its A-side, "Happy Landing". Peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, this million-seller is probably the most covered of the Miracles' songs, with notable versions by The Beatles, The Supremes, The Temptations, Mickey Gilley, Eddie Money and Elvis Costello. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, #76

    Green Onions

    Booker T. and the M.G.'s

    In 1962 a racially integrated Memphis group with a 17-year-old keyboardist at the helm, who were the house band on hundreds of records on the Stax label, became an overnight phenomenon by releasing 'Green Onions'. It came about as an accident: while the band were in the studio recording a session with Billy Lee Riley they started jamming during some downtime, and Stax label boss Jim Stewart liked what he heard and pressed REC. Stax wanted to release the song Behave Yourself as the A-side with Green Onions on the flip, but the band and various Memphis DJs thought otherwise, and Green Onions got all the airplay. The record became an instant success when DJ Reuben Washington, at Memphis radio station WLOK, played it four times in succession, even before the tune or the band had an agreed name.
    The single went to #1 on the US Billboard R&B chart and #3 on the pop chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

    The M.G.'s formed a sort of mutual admiration society with the Beatles, of all people. John Lennon fondly referred to them as "Book A Table and The Maitre D's". and Paul McCartney played bass melodically as did the M.G.'s' Donald "Duck" Dunn. In 1970 the M.G.'s released McLemore Avenue, named after the street where Stax was locatedan album of medleys of tracks from Abbey Road. Even the cover was a pastiche of the famous Beatles album cover:

    Here are the boys:

    Weather, and Madness

    Is it me or is everyone stark staring bonkers?

    I know it's not me.

    I was getting ready for work this morning, watching the BBC Breakfast Prog, eating my muesli and supping caffeine for all I was worth, all the while semi-listening to the weather forecast from the lovely Carol Kirkwood* (oh, how I do adore Carol and the way she says 'Inglind', 'Scotlind' and 'Northern Arlind' in her Inverness-shire lilt) and the talk about the volcano in Iceland that has spewed a frickin' great ash cloud all over the show, causing all flights in the UK to be cancelled (well, most of them anyway). I was only semi-listening because I was looking out the window at the giant dark grey cloud looming in the sky outside. I really didn't give it too much thought until I went outside the front door.

    "Phwore," I said to Mum. "You smell that?"
    "What, you mean that sulphur smell?" She said.
    That was exactly what I meant.
    To my mind, a dark cloud and a sulphur smell mean only one thing.
    Anyone who has seen Dante's Peak (one of my guilty pleasures) more than once will tell you. Sulphur is a tell-tale volcanic smell.

    When I got to work at Sissinghurst and got out of the car I smelt it again. "Phew," I said to no-one. "What a honk."
    Well, either my mother and I have super sensitive schnozzolas or everyone is off their chump. Because everyone I mentioned it to looked at me like I'd just walked in with a giant purple pelican on my head. They had no clue what I was talking about. But I know if I was not the only person to smell it, either we're crazy or they are.

    Anyway... my mate Sarah had a vacation lined up but now is grounded due to the volcanic flight problem. Sarah is one person who could really use one right now, too. Not fair, is it?

    *Carol is not the only weather presenter I enjoy watching. Here are my other faves:

    Kaye Forster.

    Then there's the comely Kaddy Lee-Preston.

    Oh my.

    Looks a bit nippy in the studio today.

    But without a doubt my fave has to be the adorable Nazaneen Ghaffar.


    Never let it be said that the weather is dull.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Hair Today... and House Yesterday

    I am a born cheapskate. A skinflint. Frugal to the core. Free is my favourite word.

    So imagine my chagrin at being forced to shell out money to get (of all things) my hair cut! Oy!

    I always, but always, shop around for the best deal or coupon for haircuts. If there is an offer to be had, I will find it. After all, it's just a haircut. I'm not having it styled or washed or blow-dried and I certainly don't need it done by the barber's - sorry,  salon's "creative director" (whatever the hell that means). I just want it clipped and trimmed. Nothing fancy. Just make it so I can wash it, towel dry it, and go. Even having to brush the stuff angers me as I have so little of it. So shopping around is the order of the day.

    In Tenterden there are various choices, from the hugely overpriced (at MasterCutters the price list for men's haircuts - men's!! - starts at £19 on the low end. So basically a trainee will be cutting it and I'm still gonna pay through the nose) to the more sensibly priced. Last time I went to The Barber Shop in The Fairings and paid ten quid or so, but I didn't really like the place. The staff were very pleasant and all, but for a place called The Barber Shop it was still a little girly for my tastes, with the series of framed photos of flowers on the wall (and, curiously, one shot of a heart-shaped pendant nestling between the buxom chestal areas of a reclining beauty who appears to be wearing very little apart from some black lace items, shot from above the head so you are looking down the cleavage towards the crotchal region), the radio tuned to Heart FM (who just lurrve to remind you what station you're listening to every 5 minutes with a breathy female voice stating rather obviously "This Is Heart!". Well, duh, really??), and the 'stylists' wearing those low-slung hipster jeans and short T-shirts that are very popular with young ladies at the moment - although my stylist was probably the same age as me and was the sort of woman that my mother would describe as having had a hard life (but to me the phrase that conjures the image best is one I learned in America - "rode hard and hung out wet"), and hence the trendy fashion didn't really sit well on her, and so having a faceful of exposed saggy midriff with the accompanying bellybutton ring between the jeans and the bottom of the T-shirt was a bit disconcerting. I suppose I'm lucky I didn't see her from behind as I suspect I might have witnessed a whale tail and tramp stamp as well.

    So yesterday I went to the other end of town where sits a place called Menz Barbers. I was drawn to it as it advertised Hot Shaves and all the old-time full service barbershop stuff, and inside it looked the part. Despite the slightly silly name, I went in and I'm glad I did. The folks were friendly and the service was great, and the fact that I had my hair cut by a pretty blonde from Latvia named Ilona (I'm probably spelling that wrong) didn't hurt either. She even took the time to get out the straight razor and get all those annoying bits behind the ears and under the sideburns. I felt like a god when I walked out with my brand new do. Lovely.

    Now, back to my original point about being a cheapskate. It wasn't always this way. I had to learn to curtail my spending which, unfortunately, took me till well into my thirties. When I was in my teens money would burn a hole in my pocket. The way I saw it was, there was so much stuff to spend money on in the world, and so little time in which to do it. Even so, I was a bargain hunter, always trying to get the most bang for my buck. Woolies record counter bargain bins were the best. Most of my records have been purchased from clearance sales and pawn shops and second-hand shops. You find some interesting records that you might not have found anywhere else. One of the best hauls was from my friend Kerry, who came over to my house one day with a big box of singles. He had an uncle (I think) who went round refilling jukeboxes, and had given this box to Kerry, who had taken out the ones he was interested in and was giving away the rest. I was happy to oblige him and must have taken about 25 records. I even remember some of them. There was definitely a couple of Mel & Kim's (don't judge me!!) and Coldcut featuring Yazz' "Doctorin' The House", and of course Steve 'Silk' Hurley's house classic "Jack Your Body", a record that at the time was much maligned for its simplistic style, but come on, let's face facts here. Compared to some of the crap that's out these days (sounding like an old fogey I know) it's sheer brilliance. What say we all pile in the van and go boogie our pants off at The Crypt? 

     "who is jack, and what is it that jack does?
    jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body
    jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake
    jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm
    jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body
    jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all
    jackers together under one house
    you may be black, you may be white, you may be jew or gentile
    It don't make difference in our house
    and this is fresh!"

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, #77

    Let's Go Trippin'

    Dick Dale

    I am sure there are a few people out there reading this and scratching their heads. It's OK, I had never heard of this before the list, either. That is primarily because Dick Dale, king of surf rock guitar, and purported father of Heavy Metal due to his practice of pushing the limits of his equipment and frequently blowing up amps in attempts to make them louder, was never a chart act in the UK and barely known until Quentin Tarantino featured his "Misirlou" in the hit movie Pulp Fiction. In the States also, his career has had its ups and downs such as bouts with cancer and an infection that nearly caused him to lose his leg, not to mention the British Invasion all but wiping out (if you'll pardon the pun) surf music in general and Dale's surf rock in particular.

    Let's Go Trippin',  released in 1961, is widely regarded as the first true surf rock  record, and exemplifies Dick's guitar sound, created using heavy gauge strings and heavy reverb. Dale was of Lebanese extraction and his uncle was an oud player who played belly-dance music, and you can hear this in a lot of his songs, particularly Misirlou. He is widely credited with being one of the first guitarists to use non-Western scales in his playing. He's still going strong at age 72, having enjoyed a renaissance since Tarantino's involvement. Hang ten, Dick!

    Sunday, April 11, 2010


    Sorry about all the confusion with the changing templates etc. but I'm having trouble with Blogger, or maybe the computer I'm using, because ever since just after posting last night's paean to The Shirelles, the blog has been misbehavin'.  For some reason, the sidebar containing all the guff about who I am and where I live and how many cats I have and what I read and how many times a day I go to the toilet has moved to the very bottom of the page and resolutely refuses to be coaxed back no matter what I try to do. I could spend hours deciphering lines of code trying to figure out just what is causing the problem, but I need to know whether it's on all computers or just this one. I have a funny feeling it's all of them, in which case some rogue widget or HTML instruction is buggering up the ol' blog, and we can't have that, can we? So please, if you can spare the time to let  me know if the blog looks weird or if the sidebar is where it's supposed to be, it'd be a great help. Thanks.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, #78

    Will You Love Me Tomorrow

    The Shirelles

    One of the first of the late Fifties and early Sixties girl groups and among the few to write their own hits, the Shirelles were also one of the longest lasting. Their career began as 16 and 17 year old high school friends in Passaic, New Jersey in 1958. Originally signed to Tiara Records, which was owned by the mother of one of their friends, they generated enough interest for Decca Records to buy the masters and release their stuff nationally. However, after three singles, two of which failed to chart, they were dropped by Decca at the end of '58. In June of 1959 Florence Greenberg, the owner of Tiara Records and now Sceptor Records, brought in Luther Dixon to work with the girls and thus began their comeback. They released four more singles, with a modicum of success, but the next one was to seal their status as legends. A Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was one that the girls initially balked at because they felt it was 'too white' and 'too country'. No problem. A reworked arrangement and that memorable string section made it into a monster. It shot to the top of the charts and has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Ms. King herself on her Tapestry album with a certain James Taylor and Joni Mitchell on backing vox, no less.
    Let's sit back and enjoy this timeless classic.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Never Mind The Obits

    • Malcolm McLaren, age 64, mesothelioma, at a Swiss clinic

    It seems a roundup of recent notable deaths is necessary... firstly, what can you say about this man that hasn't already been said? RIP Malcolm McLaren... same age as my Mum, gone way before his time, which seems somehow apropos for a man ahead of his time. We'll miss you Malcolm.

    • Christopher Cazenove, actor, aged 64, London, septicaemia
    Another one the same age as mum. More well known in his home country than in the States, though many will remember him from his stint as Ben Carrington in Dynasty and his role as arch-creep Edward Hargreave in Three Men And A Little Lady.

    • John Forsythe, actor, 92, Santa Ynez, California, pneumonia
    Cazenove's half-brother Blake Carrington was portrayed by this venerable actor who had a career spanning 60-plus years, also known as the voice of Charles Townsend on Charlie's Angels, and the man who said weekends were made for Michelob.

    • Kenneth McKellar, Scottish tenor, 82, Lake Tahoe, pancreatic cancer
    Our Ken was the definitive Scottish tenor, bekilted and resplendent in all his Hibernian glory, often appearing alongside Andy Stewart and Jimmy Shand on Hogmanay specials in the '60s and '70s, well known for his definitive recordings of songs by Robert Burns and his British entry in the 1966 Eurovision song contest A Man Without Love.

    • Corin Redgrave, actor, 70, after a short illness
    Best known as Andie MacDowell's groom Hamish in Four Weddings And A Funeral, Corin came from a big acting family: his father was Sir Michael Redgrave, his sisters are Vanessa and Lynn, his daughter is Jemma and his nieces are Joely Richardson and the late Natasha Richardson. He was overtly political and claimed he had been blacklisted from both stage and screen work.  He founded Artists Against Racism, the International Movement for Peace and Justice in Chechnya, the Peace and Progress Party, which fielded three candidates in the 2005 general election, and later, with his sister Vanessa, the Guantánamo Human Rights Commission. He had also beaten prostate cancer and survived a heart attack.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    100 Records That Shook The World, # 79

    The Twist

    Chubby Checker

    I think it is fair to say that this song changed the world. Or at least, changed the world of dance. Of all the dances that have been the subject of records, The Twist is one that has stood the test of time. Chubby once said,  "Anyplace on the planet, when someone has a song that has a beat, they're on the floor dancing apart to the beat. And before Chubby Checker, it wasn't here." Clay Cole, on whose TV show Chubby debuted The Twist, said, "Chubby Checker has never been properly acknowledged for one major contribution to pop culture – Chubby and the Twist got adults out and onto the dance floor for the very first time. Before the Twist dance phenomenon, grownups did not dance to teenage music."

    While Chubby could clearly belt out a tune (he often lamented becoming successful due to The Twist, because after its massive success, his label, and the record-buying public, had him pigeonholed as a dance artist, but he would have loved to be playing the lounges and clubs as more of a crooner), this record was actually a cover of a song written by Hank Ballard and released in 1959 as a b-side. Chubby's version had two runs at the chart, first in 1960, when it peaked at #1, and again in early '62, when it hit the top spot once more, and in doing so became one of the only two records to have hit #1 twice (the other being Bing's "White Christmas").

    Chubby is also the only person to have had 5 albums in the Top 12 all at once, and in 2008 Billboard named "The Twist" as the biggest chart hit of all time. He also married a former Miss World, not bad for a singing grocery boy from Spring Gulley, South Carolina.

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Kenneth... Less, Actually (Please)

    Here in Blighty we have a satellite channel known as movies4men. I'm not being illiterate or forgetting to press the shift key, that's how it's spelt and yes, it is all in lower case.  Today being Easter Saturday the whole TV schedule is completely buggered up and nothing is on as normal. After watching the only thing worth actually watching (the premiere episode of Doctor Who with Matt Smith as an immensely likeable Doctor with a wisecracking attitude), we finally settled on the movies4men channel as our source of early evening entertainment.

    Beware of the words fabulous, incredible, fantastic, spectacular and classic on the same movie sleeve.
    Well, how sad. Is this the best we can do? The first, ahem, movie we were... treated?  to was Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. No, not the Brendan Fraser version. The 1976 version starring Kenneth More, obviously shot during a period in the actor's life when in the widest possible creative and stylistic sense, he needed the money. Its actual title is Viaje al Centro de la Tierra in which More gamely struggles through this badly-shot piece of donkey-do's abetted by a cast of people who seem to have done nothing else with their acting careers but star in Spanish soap operas. The special effects are so embarrassingly poor in quality, even by 1976 standards, that they make Pulgasari, the North Korean Godzilla rewrite (directed by Shin Sang Ok, the South Korean director  that crazy knucklehead Kim Jong Il kidnapped and forced to work for him in order to revitalize North Korean cinema - honestly!) look like Raiders Of The Lost Ark. There was one scene of a long raft journey where I was wishing for someone to fall in the water and drown just to spice it up a bit. When the movie ended, mercifully, the credits lasted about 30 seconds, and that wasn't because the TV channel speeded them up like they do in USA just so they can start another movie (or the same movie again - I'm talking to you, TBS! Honestly, guys, you get so proud of a movie when you get it, don't you? So proud that you have to show it 4 times back-to-back, three days in succession! There are other films, y'know), no, this was actual speed. All I gleaned from them was that the film had been shot on location in Lanzarote and Tenerife (probably the only reason Kenny More was seduced by it - somebody handed him a fat pile of cash and said "Meester More, you very fine actor, how you like to shoot film, 2 days work, we pay for holiday, si?") and at a studio in Madrid. Sheesh.
    Hmm, could this be a guy in a suit?
    Following this flick, the stench of abject failure had barely time to dissipate before another fine cinematic achievement graced the screen. Oy. It was Nip/Tuck's very own Dylan Walsh in a piece of action fluff from 1999, the terrible Final Voyage.  Mr. Walsh has participated in some fine work in his day, starring as he did in 1994's Nobody's Fool alongside such legends as Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy, not to mention Bruce Willis. However, let's not forget his performance in the dire Congo, proof that even Tim Curry can make a stink. Final Voyage makes you wish that it truly was final. Wearing a haircut that would make Thomas Haden Church blench, Mr. Walsh gives the most unconvincing portrayal of a bodyguard since, I dunno, Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. Aided and abetted in this venture by stalwart crap-movie veterans Erika Eleniak, Ice-T (sorry T! Ya know I love ya, but sometimes, you gotta read the script before saying yes. Word.) and Claudia Christian, the film is a lame attempt to capitalise on the success of Titanic by weaving a bodyguard-with-difficult-rich-bitch-client characterization into a dull sinking-cruise-ship plot, resulting in tragedy... for the viewer. Needless to say I watched the first 15 or so minutes before I felt the bile rising in my gullet and went and did the dishes.
    Terror is right.
    Here is my message to the channel movies4men and all who sail in her - just simply putting on a flick because it's supposedly full of action and thrills does not mean it is a movie for men, it might simply mean it's a movie for the trashcan. Use a bit of what you might term quality control. Actually watch the thing before deciding whether to screen it. Or is your budget so low that you spent half of it on a pizza?

    Bring back MST3K!

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    BAIC (BAF?)

    There are a lot of things in this old world that I don't quite understand, ranging from big things like how did they build the Golden Gate Bridge, and why does the earth stay in its orbit, to trivial things like how does the guy that drives a snowplough get to work in the morning? But I think questions involving language and words are among the most difficult to answer. The four that plague my mind recently are as follows:

    1) How can one keep track of all the new acronyms in Internet chat? I remember the days when it was just LOL, BRB and IMHO. I mean it's not like I'm AATK. How am I supposed to keep up? For example, ABCD means Any Bozo Can Do. Who knew? It seems you can just think of a sentence and then turn it into an acronym and make other people feel inferior. Just type IANYM or IARTPFWTSIOWIM and see what reaction you get. Honestly, it makes you want to report people that do this to the AAAAA. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, (a) see what I mean?, and (b) go to Internet Acronyms Dictionary to find out.)

    2) I still don't know how I get people coming to my blog using such weird search terms. I had someone get a link to this page by typing video clip inka gring foot ball woman champion world tube.  I kid you not. First of all, that makes no sense however you look at it, and secondly... what have I ever written about, ever, that contains any of that nonsense? 
    There was another that Googled sexy auntees. Another person searched for who is World O Jeff.  Okay, I can kinda see that one. And a certain person in Atlanta is clearly too lazy or doesn't know how to bookmark, and keeps Googling my name. Learn to bookmark my page, then you won't have to add that extra step.

    3) What is with all these weird words deliberately misspelled? Anyone can misspell a word. But a word like 'teh' which started out as an accidental misspelling of 'the' while IMing or texting and then became an 'in' joke of the texting crowd, is infuriating. Same goes for pwned. This came from the online game Warcraft,  where a map designer had misspelled the word owned. When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so "has been owned." Instead, it said, so-and-so "has been pwned." It means to be beaten by an opponent or situation. O rly? It's just stupid, IMHO.

    4) How do they come up with all those little security code words on websites when you want to post a comment? Every time I want to post a comment on someone's blog or share an article or video on Facebook, I am presented with some hilarious made-up word that sounds like it came from an episode of Call My Bluff like dishibod or punnybonk which I am then expected to copy in the box below. How I can be expected to do this while I'm ROFPMSL I do not know.

    In The Na'Vi

    I was just reading the Kentish Express today. In the What's On section there was a little column of entertainment snippets. In it I read the alarming news that a team of amateur linguists had written an English - Na'vi dictionary. What is Na'vi? Well, I was hoping you would ask. I'm sure the nerds among you probably already know.
    Na'vi is the fictional language devised by director James Cameron and linguist Paul Frommer for the movie Avatar.  That's right, the language spoken by the tall humanoid flying Smurfs on the planet Pandora. Turns out it wasn't just gibberish, it was an actual language with its own grammar, sentence structure and everything. If you don't believe me, check out the Wikipedia page for Na'vi and the website that teaches you how to speak Na'vi.
    If that is in itself not alarming enough, it turns out that since there are now over 400 fluent speakers of this language (again, another worrying fact), a group of Na'vi nerds is now campaigning to have Na'vi recognized as an official language. Apparently there are some languages, real ones, that have less fluent speakers and so they feel it stands to reason that it should be thus recognized.

    I knew it was April 1st, so I checked the rest of the paper to see if this was in fact some sort of jolly jape. Evidently not. I even glanced over my shoulder to see if some twat with a mic and a camera crew was there to record my gobsmacked reaction, but no. This is a fact.

    All I can say to the Na'vi campaigners is, if you want to learn a language, why not learn an actual one instead of some gobbledegook that was made up for a movie? Oh, and while you're at it, quit watching movies and playing Final Fantasy X or World Of Warcraft and go ask that hot checkout girl in the supermarket for a date. Get a life. A real one, not a fictional one.

    Creamy Old England!

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