Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Friday, August 26, 2011

100 Records that Shook The World, #37

Raw Power (LP)

Iggy and The Stooges

Raw Power was the third Stooges album and pretty much got ignored by all save a relatively small group of hardcore fans when it was released in 1973. Among that rabid fan base were a few musicians that went on to create punk rock. The album, then, can be considered a true proto-punk article and Iggy truly earns the title of Godfather of Punk.

It has become one of the most influential rock albums ever, with musicians as diverse as Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain and even Cee Lo Green citing it as one of their favourites. Most of them comment on not only how brilliant the lyrics are, how amazing the guitar playing is, and how powerful the album is, but also how fragile and 'rickety' it sounds. It's almost as if the band just played everything in one take and moved on to the next track. The truth is somewhat different.

After their first two LPs The Stooges had essentially broken up. Iggy's heroin habit was out of control. Bassist Dave Alexander was struggling with alcoholism. Iggy moved to London and was signed to Bowie's MainMan management. James Williamson, who had joined The Stooges as a second guitarist, was to join Iggy in London and record an album of new material. However, after unsatisfactory attempts to find an English rhythm section, Williamson suggested that former Stooges Scott and Ron Asheton join them in London. They flew in, and with Ron relegated to bass (he was the original lead guitarist) and Scott back in the drum seat they went into the studio.

Iggy produced it himself, in a 24-track studio. He only used three of the tracks - himself on one, the band on another, and the third reserved for lead guitar. Tony DeFries was the head of MainMan at the time and told Iggy that he had to let Bowie remix it or it would not get released. So into the studio they went again, Bowie and Iggy, and on hearing the tapes, Bowie reportedly declared, "Jim - there's nothing to mix". So he just went through the tracks one by one, tweaking the levels here and there, adding echo on certain parts, until they were both satisfied. The result was a classic LP and the lifelong friendship between Bowie and Pop.


100 Records That Shook The World, #38

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (LP)

David Bowie

Okay, there's a lot that's been written about this album, what the whole Ziggy concept means and the story that Bowie envisioned around the whole stage show, about the end of the world and how Ziggy gets chosen to 'carry the news' of the earth's impending doom by the 'Starmen', and how he ends up believing that he is some sort of prophet and ends up dying on stage as his body gets taken over by the Starmen , in a rock & roll suicide, heavy concepts and all that, but leaving those things aside... it's just a bloody brilliant album. Nuff said. Glam rock at its finest. Here's Dave for ya. Crank up those speakers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Box Me In

In the last Musical Puzzler, many moons ago, I posed the question, "What, prithee, is the connection between The Police and Wall Of Voodoo, apart from the fact that they are both awesome?" or something along those lines.

In fact, it was a trick question, because there are two, count 'em, TWO things that connect both those bands. One is that Miles Copeland III, older bro of Stewart Copeland and manager of The Police, was the owner of I.R.S. Records, a label upon which Wall Of Voodoo appeared. The other is this:

OK, new question: Stewart Copeland had (or has) a punk rock alter ego. What's the name of this character?


Can anyone tell me why they bothered to make another Spy Kids sequel? Oh yeah, money. I knew there had to be a reason.

Does it not freak you out when your kids play Guitar Hero, and all the songs are alt-rock classics from the 90s by bands such as Bush and Stone Temple Pilots and Blind Melon, and the kids playing the game have absolutely no idea what these songs are?

Why does my phone reset its wallpaper when there are too many photos on the memory card? I'd really love to know.

Why does it bother me that people are surprised when other people get eaten by sharks? Stay out of the ocean, dummy.

Why can I not find a pair of headphones that sit on my head right? Always used to in the 80's, but now I put a pair on and one of the speakers wants to sit at a 45-degree angle to my head. Sorry, but I refuse to wear earbuds. For starters, the name annoys me. Too similar to 'cotton buds'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

(Public) Transports Of Delight

The 312 bus route from Tenterden to Rye is a fairly short one - it only takes about half an hour, and Laura and I both fancied a few hours pootling around Rye, which is a gorgeous town full of interesting shops, ancient historical buildings, lovely places to eat and gorgeous views. So we looked up the timetable online and saw that the bus left Tenterden at approximately ten minutes past the hour all morning, so we knew roughly what time we were supposed to be up there at the stop. As we got there we double-checked the timetable and saw that the time had changed from 11:10 to 11:23. No big deal. So we're a few minutes early. So what?

Well, the reason for the change was that the route had been taken over from Coastal Coaches by Stagecoach buses. Again, no big deal. But the route was taken over a mere three days ago, on the 31st of July.

All the while we were ingesting this information, we had noticed that a rather loud-voiced lady and her two granddaughters were waiting at the stop, and the lady had been talking with other waiting passengers also. Loudly. Annoyingly. When 11:23 rolled around, she started in with, "Well, the bus isn't here girls! I don't know how we're going to get home! Tut-tut! Tsk tsk! We might have to call and get a taxi! Terrible service isn't it girls?!?" and this other vociferous woman was nodding in agreement with her, "Oh yes! Terrible service! We ought to write and complain about this atrocious abomination!!" and other such sentiments. A few more minutes went by, and they then enlisted the help of a rather stinky-looking fellow who appeared to be carrying his entire world with him (three heavy jackets - camo jackets -  on a hot summer day? really?) who also started joining in loudly, "Oh yes, we should definitely all of us band together and send floods of letters to their head office! And say things like I'd rather have NO service than service like THIS!!" etc. All the while Laura and I were thinking, "Shut up, it's a bus - they show up sooner or later."

After a short while, at about 11:40, a bus appeared along the High Street, looking suspiciously like the 312. Yes, it was the 312! Rejoice and be happy, for our charabanc has arrived! Huzzah!

Alas, it was not to be. The 312 parked itself across the street (which is normal - it drops passengers off there and then comes across the street to us, usually). The stinky fellow was dispatched to investigate the cause of the 312's tardiness. He came back after a few moments to inform the assembled throng that the bus in question was not the 312 any more but in fact had magically transformed into the 340 service to Hastings. The crowd were aghast. The lady with the grandkids was incensed, and so was her purple-shirt-wearing friend. So much so that when the poor humble bus driver came across the road to pick up riders for Hastings, the group, which by now was resembling an angry mob, approached him and quizzed the fellow as to why the service was so poor, and that they were all going to write to their MPs and the BBC and Phillip Schofield to get something done about it. Bah! Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms etc., Sincerely, Angry of Tenterden.

The driver, anxious to keep to his by-now buggered schedule, picked up those who wished to travel to the wilds of darkest Hastings and put the pedal to the metal. Wisely, I feel.

At this the woman with the grandkids once again reiterated to her charges that she just did NOT know WHAT she was going to do to get them home, she'd HAVE to call for a taxi, etc. The kids, of course, were completely oblivious to all of this and were having a grand old time chasing each other and hitting the lamp post with sticks. We, on the other hand, were wishing she WOULD call a taxi and shut up.

Another bus rumbled up the High Street. This was the 340 from Hastings, which magically changed into the 312 to Rye as soon as he deposited his passengers on the other side of the street. As he came over the mob surged forward. Each and every one of them deemed it necessary to have an extended conversation about the state of affairs as they entered the bus and purchased their tickets. By the time it came to our turn to get on, we just looked at him and he at us, and we just made our purchase and sat down. Clearly what had happened was that the drivers, being from a different bus company than the one that had previously operated the route, were all learning the routes and stops etc. and this was naturally eating up time and causing the buses to be late. It's understandable. But the woman with the small people in tow sat at the back of the bus with the smelly chap and continued to treat the service with loud derision and complaints. Thankfully they got off in Wittersham, and the remainder of the passengers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

After a few lovely hours in Rye, we meandered back to the bus stop and waited for our bus. As it arrived, the driver went over to another bus in front where another driver was showing him the route he was going to have to take on the new bus. Then the other driver came over to our bus and took over. Meanwhile a couple of official-looking guys in hi-vis jackets, short-sleeved white shirts and carrying clipboards moved frantically from bus to bus to ensure that each driver was on the correct bus and they each knew the routes they were to take. On the way home the driver had to ask passengers that wanted to get off in Iden where the actual stop was as he was a tad unfamiliar with the journey. Again, these are all natural occurrences when you change bus companies literally overnight. It just seems to be the British way to complain unnaturally long and loudly about things that essentially we have no control over, and to tackle the people that are just cogs in the machine and cannot control what is happening any more than they can.

British people! Listen to me! Chill the hell out! It's just a bus ride. There'll be another one along in a minute.

Monday, August 1, 2011


What makes a great pop record? Great lyrics? Maybe. Great production? Perhaps. Great musicianship? Possibly.

Arguably the thing that most defines a 'great' record is a great hook, or a great riff. And it's debatable, but a simple, catchy hook that builds on itself and mutates into something grand and unforgettable is possibly the best of all. I shall give you two examples:

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