Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Don't Wanna Go To... Miami or Ibiza

Just wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page here. It seems that we are in the presence of a genuine musical genius, a man whose lyrical ability is surpassed only by his mellifluous voice and general all-round studliness. Move over, Paul McCartney. Stand aside, Bill Shakespeare. Here comes Tinie Tempah!

Yes, I am being sarcastic. Not heard of Tinie Tempah yet? Where have you been, dear reader.

Here are the lyrics to one of Tinie's masterworks, "Miami 2 Ibiza" featuring the venerable talents of the Swedish House Mafia. Reproduced here with absolutely no permission at all from anyone. Prepare to be dazzled.

She says she likes my watch, but she wants Steve's AP
And she stay up all hours watching QVC
She says she loves my songs, she bought my MP3
And so I put her number in my Bold BB

I got a black BM, she got a white TT
She wanna see what's hiding in my CK briefs Excuse me??
I tell her wear suspenders and some PVC
And then I'll film it all up on my JVC

Uhh, scene one
Everybody get in your position
Pay attention, and listen
We’re trying to get this all on one take
So lets try and make that happen
Take one, action!

She says she likes my watch, but she wants Steve's AP
And she stay up all hours watching QVC
She says she loves my songs, she bought my MP3
And so I put her number in my Bold BB

I got a black BM, She got a white TT
She wanna see what's hiding in my CK briefs
I tell her wear suspenders and some PVC
And then I'll film it all up on my JVC

Uhh, scene one
Everybody get in your positions
Pay attention, and listen
We're trying to get this all on tape
So lets try and make that happen
Take one, action!

She pose for FHM, She like my Black LV
We spillin LPR, up on my APC
I’m in my PRPS and my Nike SB’s
Raving with SHM, London to NYC

I got my Visa and my Visa
A diva and her dealer
Bitch I'm up on the guest list with the Swedish House Mafia
You can find me on a table full of vodka and tequila
Surrounded by some bunnies, and it ain't fuckin' easter

I'll wake up in the morning with a mild case of amnesia
With a girl that like a girl like Lindsey Lo and Queen Latifah
A few niggers are ballin', then boy I must be FIFA
And that's standard procedure from Miami to Ibiza

From Miami to Ibiza


From Miami to Ibiza

The weird thing is, it's strangely addictive. It's like crack. Musical crack. We sit there listening to it, we know it's utter crap, yet we cannot pull ourselves away. The guy has clearly hit upon something here.

What I Am Is What I Am

Well, I thought it was easy. Edie Brickell had a band called the New Bohemians. She had a massive hit with "What I Am", and the album was entitled "Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars". On a related note, the producer of that album, Pat Moran, passed away just a couple weeks ago. Moran had twiddled the knobs on many albums, including Robert Plant's Pictures At Eleven  and  The Principle Of Moments,  as well as Iggy Pop's  Soldier  and Big Country's  No Place Like Home.

While performing her hit on Saturday Night Live, she noticed Paul Simon standing next to the cameraman. Their eyes locked and that was it.  "He made me mess the song up when I looked at him," she said with a smile. "We can show the kids the tape and say, 'Look, that's when we first laid eyes on each other.'" They married two years later.

OK, next question, speaking of Iggy Pop:

On which television show from the early '90s did Iggy appear as Michelle Trachtenberg's character's overly protective father?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All The News That's Fat To Print

Well, a while back you may recall that I told you folks out there (if there are any left - it's been a real long while since anyone made a comment. It's OK to do so, people, I won't bite!) about my weight loss, and while I still weigh considerably less than I did in the summer of 2009, I am ashamed to say that during the recent festive season I did, ahem, put a few pounds back on. Don't worry, it's not a major catastrophe - the weather should start to warm up anytime soon, meaning more outside active time (I believe it was Morrissey who once spoke gushingly of the joys of sitting watching an old black-and-white movie on the sofa, underneath a blanket, mug of tea and thick slice of toast at the ready, on a wet and rainy afternoon, saying something along the lines of "that to me is life lived to its fullest" - and who am I to argue with such a luminary as The Moz?), and I do walk to and from work three days a week, and sometimes more, and my pants are still the same waist size, so there is hope. I did, however, find myself prodded to step on a bathroom scale this morning, and what I had suspected was confirmed - I am 17stone 2lbs, which in US parlance is 240 pounds. Considering I was tipping the scales at almost 300 lbs about 18 months ago, I'd still call that progress, wouldn't you?

I was asked today what I would consider my ideal weight. That's a tough old question, really. I replied with a question, which I do a lot and people find it to be one of my more infuriating habits. My question was "By ideal weight, do you mean the weight I would like to be or the weight that most doctors and nutritionists etc. would consider to be an ideal weight range for a man of my height and age?"

Because the thing is, I've been walking round with this ideal in my head and it conflicts with what I'm being told by every available authority on the subject. I have heard many people talking on the subject, and the 12-stone mark gets bandied about a lot. Most doctors and dietitians have a handy-dandy sliding scale for this sort of thing, usually in the form of a chart, something like this:

So let's see - I am 5 feet 11 and 3/4 inches tall. So for the sake of argument, let's say 6 feet. What's a quarter of an inch between pals? Well, it depends where the quarter inch is and what it's made of, I suppose. But heightwise it don't really count for much, do it? Anyway, 12 stone seems to fall in the Overweight range on this here chart.

The ideal I always carry around in my head is the weight I was when I first got married in 1990. I was 10 stone, which comes to 140lbs. Now that seems underweight, doesn't it, when you just say it. but what is the chart telling us? That actually falls within the healthy weight range. So my ideal is actually not that unrealistic.
When we look at my current weight of 240 pounds, or a smidge under 109 kilos, that actually means I am on the cusp of Obese and Severely Obese. Does that seem right? I know I have a bit to lose, but those of you who know me - answer me honestly, now - do I look like an obese man?

I was reading some alarming factoids on (the US version) earlier, and in particular the Eat This, Not That sections on the Worst Foods in America (quite a lot to choose from in there). Some of the shocking reading, concerning foods I've eaten, some of which were purveyed by restaurants I used to work at, was quite an eye-opener. The UK version is here.

So that's it. I've got some weight to lose. And experts seem to agree that weight loss of the permanent variety cannot be achieved through diet modification alone. I am going to have to take some form of exercise, beyond that of walking. It needs to be something low-impact, as my knees have begun to feel their age. If I was a younger man, and actually enjoyed running, I'd run. But I do not enjoy wearing earbuds and cannot think of anything I could possibly wear that would perform the function of carrying whatever radio or MP3 player I would inevitably have to wear in addition to my keys (quite an extensive bunch) and phone without it jingling around annoyingly and drawing attention to the old fat geezer huffing and puffing and wheezing his way down the street. I don't want to go to the gym for two reasons. One, the reason I just mentioned (other people go to the gym too, and they will judge me), and secondly, because I'm a tightwad.

I also do not feel that I can safely exercise until I am slimmer and weigh less. I know how back-to-front that sounds, but I'll feel more like exercising if I have less bulk to carry around and I am pretty damn sure I am not the only person in the world who thinks this way. Of course all the exercise-addicted fit people will regard this as just procrastination, but even though I am not averse to making myself look foolish in front of people by singing or dancing round the supermarket, strapping on an armband radio and sweating my way down the High Street is one way of looking like a complete prat that I am not prepared to do, mate.

Speaking of exercise-addicted people, it seems there are two types. The first type will go to the gym or jog or whatever religiously and won't talk much about it. The other type will do exactly the same except they will talk about nothing else but their pilates class or how far they ran yesterday or how they managed to find the time to fit in 500 extra fraptoid stretches or some crap. I can talk at length on many subjects, but I'm afraid 'what-I-did-at-the-gym' should be available on prescription as a cure for insomnia. And it doesn't help that every time you turn on the damn TV some twat in a spandex outfit is trying to sell you the latest workout cardio turbo rambo zumba jambocise or another stupid gadget guaranteed to give you an ass of steel before you even get it out of the box.

Alright, people. I am going to make an effort. I will attempt something approaching exercise. And then I will get on the computer, provided I have the energy, and moan like buggery about it. You have been warned.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Musical Puzzler: Statue?

Last time I asked you where in the USA you might find a statue of the late guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. I received one guess, not a bad attempt with Nashville, but the answer is in fact Austin, Texas.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, TX, but moved to Austin at the age of 17.
The second question I gave you for bonus points was to do with a city that hosts a special late-November Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute concert every year. That city is St. Louis, Missouri.

OK... new question.

Which musician, also from Dallas, Texas, had a backing band called The New Bohemians?

Bonus points... what was the title of their one and only hit?

Bonus bonus points... what was the title of the album whence it came?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 51

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (LP)

I'm going to have a bit of a rant, and I'm going to combine it with the next instalment of 100 Records...

Here's the thing. I am aware that many people, at one time or another, myself included, have said to themselves, "Van Morrison, dude. The guy's a damn genius." I just want to preface my following remarks with that statement, just to make sure we are all aware of Van The Man's status as a bona fide musical master, a registered, card-carrying, luminary of almost mythic proportions.

I work in a shop where mood music is required, and it seems, the mood music mostly consists of either James Taylor, The Eagles, Michael Buble and, you guessed it, Van Morrison. We also had a couple of Boz Scaggs days in there too, but alas, it was not Silk Degrees.

In the 5 weeks I have worked there I think I have heard more Van Morrison than I have ever heard in my life, and I gotta tell ya, I'm all Vanned out. I used to own a copy of Moondance, the LP. I loved that song, and 'Into The Mystic', 'Brown Eyed Girl'... but really, some of his later works are just like listening to the ramblings of a large incoherent drunk at 2am in a bar on the Lower East Side. Vaguely tuneful mumblings interspersed with occasional bluesy-boozy shouts akin to the grunts of a large grizzly that's been shot with a tranquillizer dart and is getting a bit sleepy. He sounds like he just got asked to leave the bar by three bouncers built like brick shithouses and now he's complaining about it to the street, the sky, anyone who'll listen. It's at the point now that I am relieved to hear Snow Patrol or Mickey Bubble. And really, that's saying something.

The point is that # 51 on our countdown is Van's "Astral Weeks", but really, I'm too anti-Van at the moment to care. So here he is, before he got all fat and grunty.

Monday, January 17, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 52

Hot Buttered Soul (LP)

Isaac Hayes

An album that is unique for many reasons, not least of which the fact that it only contained four songs, the shortest of which clocks in at 5 minutes and 10 seconds.

In 1968 Isaac Hayes was about to return to his day job as a producer and songwriter for Stax Records after his debut LP Presenting Isaac Hayes  failed to sell well. In May of that year Stax split with Atlantic and suddenly found themselves without a back catalog. Head honcho Al Bell issued a directive to his stable of artists that they all needed to get in the studio and record new material for release. Isaac Hayes, who was undoubtedly ticked off about the poor sales of his first LP, told Bell he wouldn't record a second LP unless he got complete creative control. Bell was in no position to refuse, and so Hot Buttered Soul was born. Hayes, along with the venerable Bar-Kays, hit the studio and recorded an album unlike any other at that point in time.

The album has been a major influence on funk, soul and hip-hop artists. Walk On By and Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic have been sampled extensively by artists such as Public Enemy, Hooverphonic, Wu-Tang Clan and 3rd Bass. Henry Rollins has frequently said that Hot Buttered Soul  is one of his all-time favourite albums, and he also interviewed Hayes for his book Do I Come Here Often?

Enjoy the man himself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bring Back The 80s

Remember cassette recorders? Of course you do. If you don't, then chances are you won't like anything in this blog post, being far too young to appreciate them, or you're an Alzheimer's patient, in which case, how did you even manage to navigate to this page? Wow. I am truly stunned.

I digress.

Like I was saying, remember cassette recorders/players?

Remember when they first came out, the 'Eject' function was a bit clunky? It would either fail to fully eject and you'd have to manually help it along or it would shoot out with manic force and just about send the tape shooting off into the troposphere. Then some boffin at Sony or Philips or somewhere similar invented the damped-eject mechanism. You press the button and the door glides silently open - no clunk, no smash, no jam. Nice. Quiet. Nice.

If you are a person that remembers damped-eject with fondness, then take a gander at this...

One thing I am noticing more and more is an anti-80s backlash. Today's yoof seem to be convinced that nothing good came out of the 80s, citing such references as The A-Team and Kajagoogoo as "proof". Just tonight a 20-year-old young lady of my acquaintance started going on about how 80s music was shit, referring to her experience at an 80s bar (a phenomenon I'd never heard of, but where do I sign?) where there was a cardboard cutout of The Hoff standing next to a replica of KITT.

OK, so those are bad examples. But yesterday I saw a book that absolutely incensed me. Obviously written for laughs, Wayne Williams' "The Crap Old Days: Why All That Stuff Was Actually Rubbish" is a sideswipe to all the stuff that seemed cool at the time but is actually a load of old tat. However, skimming through the book just angered me. I actually liked about 90% of the things it talked about. It seems that although this is not the first generation to look on the past and laugh, this one is the harshest. Having lived through the 70s and 80s I can attest that although there were lots of things about that era that sucked, there were also many many things that blow today's stuff out of the water. And yes, my Walkman is one of those things. I cannot get as excited about an iPod as I can the thrill of putting that precious cassette into the machine, clicking Play and hearing Run-DMC's "Raising Hell" for the first time. And what's so crummy, might I ask, about Rubik Cubes? They are still difficult. And fun. Get your face out of that godforsaken Xbox and try it.

Perhaps the young lady at the 80s bar went on a bad night. Or perhaps she's just one of those typical younguns who thinks that making every punk anthem sound like a stadium epic is the way things ought to be. The 80s music scene was not as shit as it seems... granted, the Top 40 was dire, full of Foreigner and Styx, Alexander O'Neal and Luther Vandross (yeah, "dross" is right), Renee and Renato and other cheesy nonsense. But this was also the decade that brought us The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Soft Cell, New Order, The Art Of Noise, Orange Juice, Bauhaus, The Cure... the decade that gave us Eddie Murphy, Ghostbusters, Tom Hanks (impossible not to like him),   Back To The Future, Metallica, Weird Al, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Ferris Bueller, John Hughes, Balki, Madonna, Columbia House, synthesisers, Michael Jackson when he was actually good, Muppet Babies, Inspector Gadget, Hanoi Rocks, The Wonder Years, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, The Young Ones, Blackadder, Ben Elton...

Any more suggestions?

If it weren't for that one boffin and his damped-eject, we'd all be having toilet seats that slammed down and woke everyone else up. That was a stellar idea, and guess what? It came from the 80s!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Musical Puzzler Solved

I realize that it was presumptuous of me to start a new feature of the blog on the New Year, and I had intended to post the answer on Saturday but since it was the first one and I had just sort of sprung it on you, I extended it by three days. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with laziness and/or procrastination.

So do you want to know the answer? Let me just refresh your memory. I asked who played the guitar solo on David Bowie's "Let's Dance"? The answer, as I said before, surprised me.

It was the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. Of course, he wasn't late when he recorded it. Some people are always late.

Alright, I remember saying that Saturday is the designated day for Jeff's Musical Puzzler, but since I feel like I'm still easing you into this (I know how easy it can be to resist change), I'll ask you a new question now and won't reveal the answer till the Saturday after next... unless someone actually ventures a guess and answers correctly.

So here's the new question...

In which American city can one find a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan?

And for bonus points...

Which American city holds an annual Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute concert around Thanksgiving?

Here's the man himself...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 53

Trout Mask Replica (LP)

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

I don't know that there is anything I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. It is a modern classic which has influenced countless alternative, punk and post-punk bands, an exercise in true rock surrealism and probably the most bizarre thing you could sit through. Four album sides of well-rehearsed weirdness. Probably the most bizarre factor in the story of how this album came into being is Don Van Vliet (Beefheart)'s absolute control over the project. The group rehearsed Van Vliet's difficult compositions for eight months, living communally in a small rented house in the Woodland Hills suburb of Los Angeles. Van Vliet implemented his vision by asserting complete artistic and emotional domination of his musicians. At various times one or another of the group members was put "in the barrel," with Van Vliet berating him continually, sometimes for days, until the musician collapsed in tears or in total submission to Van Vliet. According to John French and Bill Harkleroad these sessions often included physical violence. French described the situation as "cultlike" and a visiting friend said "the environment in that house was positively Manson-esque." Their material circumstances also were dire. With no income other than welfare and contributions from relatives, the group survived on a bare subsistence diet. French recounted living on no more than a small cup of soybeans a day for a month and at one point band members were arrested for shoplifting food (with Frank Zappa bailing them out). A visitor described their appearance as "cadaverous" and said that "they all looked in poor health." Band members were restricted from leaving the house and practiced for 14 or more hours a day.

Anyway, on that note, have a listen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 54

Cloud 9 (LP)

The Temptations

When a new sub genre of music is invented, for want of a better term, it must be an exciting moment. To be at the helm of an LP that introduces that sub genre to the world, as producer Norman Whitfield was, must be incredible. Or at least, one would think so. Truth is, Whitfield was less than excited by Otis Williams' suggestion that the band venture into Sly and The Family Stone-like territory, saying that the sound was nothing more than 'a passing fancy' and that he didn't want to be 'bothered with that shit'.

Whitfield's mind was changed eventually, because by late '68 Whitfield was at the controls for the recording of Cloud Nine, an LP that spawned the hits "Run Away Child, Running Wild"and the title track, as well as a cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and the Gerry Goffin/Carole King-penned "Hey Girl". Psychedelic soul had been born, and would lead to further hits such as "Psychedelic Shack" and the classic "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone".


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Excuse Me, I Have A Question

It was while watching some 80s videos on the TV downstairs that I had an idea for a new feature on the blog. New Year, new feature. Why not?

I was watching David Bowie's "Let's Dance" video, a seminal work by director David Mallet in which an Aboriginal couple struggle with Western metaphors while Bowie and his band watch impassively while playing in a bar. Accompanied by 15-year old Josh's comment that the video contained some "seriously crap dancing". It was the bit when Our Dave stands in a field and pretends badly to be playing the guitar solo that it occurred to me - who did play the guitar solo? Frampton? Fripp? Bueller? Bueller?

So I had to look it up.

And I was surprised by the answer.

So from now on, music fans, Saturday (today being one) will be the day when I pose to you a new teaser of a similar ilk. In other words, Saturday is Jeff's Musical Puzzler Day!

So, firstly.... who did play that solo?
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