Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Monday, November 18, 2013


Well, since we have once and for all finished with 100 Records That Shook the World, I am now pleased to invite some of my blogging buddies and other non-blogging friends to contribute guest spots to my blog. I have done some guest pieces on others' blogs and it's a lot of fun, so I figure I'll repay the favour. If anyone out there reading this feels like supplying something for my "Guest Blogger" spots, feel free.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

100 Records That Shook The World, #1

Well, we are finally there. The final entry on this list. You may or may not agree with this one, but even if you don't regard it as groundbreaking or influential in any way, you gotta agree with the fact that it's (a) a classic; and (b) a helluva groove.

Back To Life

Soul II Soul

I think it's better I link to this article where Jazzie B and Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul discuss the track and what it meant for British music.

'Nuff said.


100 Records That Shook The World, #2

The Stone Roses (LP)

The Stone Roses

Since the Stone Roses were the nominal leaders of Britain's "Madchester" scene -- an indie rock phenomenon that fused guitar pop with drug-fueled rave and dance culture -- it's rather ironic that their eponymous debut only hints at dance music. What made the Stone Roses important was how they welcomed dance and pop together, treating them as if they were the same beast. Equally important was the Roses' cool, detached arrogance, which was personified by Ian Brown's nonchalant vocals. Brown's effortless malevolence is brought to life with songs that equal both his sentiments and his voice -- "I Wanna Be Adored," with its creeping bassline and waves of cool guitar hooks, doesn't demand adoration, it just expects it. Similarly, Brown can claim "I Am the Resurrection" and lie back, as if there were no room for debate. But the key to The Stone Roses is John Squire's layers of simple, exceedingly catchy hooks and how the rhythm section of Reni and Mani always imply dance rhythms without overtly going into the disco. On "She Bangs the Drums" and "Elephant Stone," the hooks wind into the rhythm inseparably -- the '60s hooks and the rolling beats manage to convey the colorful, neo-psychedelic world of acid house. Squire's riffs are bright and catchy, recalling the British Invasion while suggesting the future with their phased, echoey effects. The Stone Roses was a two-fold revolution -- it brought dance music to an audience that was previously obsessed with droning guitars, while it revived the concept of classic pop songwriting, and the repercussions of its achievement could be heard throughout the '90s, even if the Stone Roses could never achieve this level of achievement again.


100 Records That Shook The World. #3

Paradise (LP)

Inner City

OK folks, I know this may not seem earth-shaking, but please bear some things in mind when it comes to this (and the next couple) of entries.
  1. This list was not compiled by me.
  2. This list was compiled in 1990, so they were kind of running short of 'world-shaking' records.

Now, let's talk about this record. The reason it's listed is because of its influence on later house/dance records and because it was of a new subgenre - Detroit Techno.

In the 1980s and '90s, a lot of dance music spotlighted female singers with thin, weak voices who seem on the verge of death. But house music has often been a home to expressive, big-voiced divas who can truly wail -- a fine example being Paris Grey of the duo Inner City. Along with producer/composer Kevin "Master Reese" Saunderson, Grey was responsible for some of the most rewarding dance music of the late '80s and early '90s. Inner City's debut album, Big Fun (titled Paradise in the U.K.), is full of house gems that enjoyed extensive dance club exposure, including "Good Life," "Do You Love What You Feel," "Ain't Nobody Better," and the title song. While Saunderson's production is decidedly high-tech, Gray's warm, passionate singing is mindful of dance music's heritage and underscores its soul and gospel roots in a delightful way. Unfortunately, Inner City never crossed over to the R&B or pop markets as Virgin Records hoped -- an irony considering that Big Fun is so much more individualistic and soulful than most of the generic efforts that dominated black radio in 1989.


100 Records That Shook The World, #4

Three Feet High And Rising

De La Soul
De La Soul's debut album has long been seen as an instant classic, but it's now sitting in something of a vacuum. The reason being that it's a so incredibly original that it paradoxically led the band down a creative dead end. Its message of positivity (shared by others such as A Tribe Called Quest), was originally seen as an answer to the world of rap, which had become increasingly misogynistic and violent. But take a look around today and it seems to confirm that while their message was both intelligent and deftly put, it fell on deaf ears. But for a moment , it looked like De La Soul had shown the direction that hip hop should take.
The LP is still sparklingly different. Prince Paul's use of samples from sources not usually associated with the genre (Steely Dan? Hall And Oates? The album's title was taken from a JOHNNY CASH song!) may seem ordinary now, but at the time it was groundbreaking. Ironically it was also what led to the legal minefield that such snippets provide for each new hip hop album as The Turtles sued for the use of 'You Showed Me' on 'Transmitting Live From Mars'.
And what of the subject matter? Here the issues addressed are hippie philosophy (Tread Water), first love (Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)), drug abuse (Say No Go), body odour (A Little Bit Of Soap), and, amazingly for a rap record, self-doubt (Can U Keep A Secret). It was all delivered in that self-deprecating style with oodles of humour. And while the 'hippie' tag bothered the band for years, it was a palatable blend that could have taken rap beyond material gain and gang problems. If only.


Friday, November 15, 2013

100 Records That Shook The World, #5

Yo! Bum Rush The Show

Public Enemy

They didn't have a chance of, or the intention of, crossing over. Raw. Confrontational. Designed to irritate and yet infuriatingly good.


100 Records That Shook The World, #6

Well folks, I said I'd finish this list today, and finish it I will, despite the fact that there are six records remaining. Here goes.

Graceland (LP)

Paul Simon

Paul Simon's musical career was at something of a low ebb. Hearts and Bones had been a disappointment. The Graceland album was originally inspired by Simon's listening to a cassette of the Boyoyo Boys instrumental "Gumboots." He described the Boyoyo Boys track as "instrumental music with an accordion, electric guitar, bass, and drums.", and that it reminded him of "a certain kind of fifties rock 'n' roll." Simon later wrote lyrics to sing over a re-recording of the song, which became the fourth track on the album.

Graceland features an eclectic mixture of musical styles including pop, a cappella, isicathamiya, rock, and mbaqanga. It was strongly influenced by South African musicians Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu, and the Zulu-Western pop cross-over music realized in their band Juluka. Juluka was South Africa's first integrated pop band. Much of the album was recorded in South Africa, and it features many South African musicians and groups. Simon was accused by organisations such as Artists United Against Apartheid, anti-apartheid musicians such as Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Jerry Dammers and the then Ghanaian Ambassador to the United Nations James Victor Gbeho that he had broken the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against the apartheid regime in South Africa, which was in its final years at the time. Although supported by the United Nations Anti-Apartheid Committee, as the album showcased the talents of the black South African musicians while offering no support to the South African government, even the ANC protested the collaboration as a break in the cultural boycott. However Simon also received praise for encouraging South African music from Hugh Masekela, one of South Africa's most prominent musicians and an exiled opponent of apartheid, who subsequently toured alongside Simon and Miriam Makeba. The worldwide success of the album introduced some of the musicians, especially the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to global audiences of their own.

Here's the one you all wanna see. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

100 Records That Shook The World, #7

Walk This Way

Run-DMC feat. Aerosmith

Well well well. Whatever next. Rap meets metal. Well, this combination of genres is pretty common these days, but this is the one that not only started it all, but the one that took rap from being just a flash-in-the-pan fad to another level. Simple concept really - take a well-known Aerosmith song, sample it, mix in hip-hop beats and shouty rappers, then get Aerosmith to sing it with you, along with the accompanying hi-larious video, and you have a hit, gentlemen. Revived Aerosmith's flagging career and bolstered their own career at the same time. Everybody wins. Instant classic. Rap rock is born.


100 Records That Shook The World, #8

Psychocandy (LP)

The Jesus And Mary Chain

I first saw JAMC on The Tube in early '85, performing "In A Hole" and "Never Understand " in what appeared to be a dank cellar of some sort. Aside from the sound of feedback upon feedback upon feedback and vocals barely intelligible below the surface of all that noise, with dull thuds of drums mixed in, what got me was the spotty angst of these floppy-haired ne'er-do-wells, who seemed barely able to stand up, let alone string a sentence together. I thought, "This is great! What an insane sound!" It seemed like this was the second coming of punk rebellion, and I had to have it. I next heard them in session on John Peel's show, and was even more enamoured by their stark refusal to sound like a real band and more like fifteen anglegrinders and a mumbler. Because below it all, there was actual musicianship, real tunes, pure rock n' roll devilry. And so I went out and bought "Never Understand" and "Just Like Honey".

Rock on.

100 Records That Shook The World, #9

Into The Groove


No matter what your opinion of our Madge may be, you have to concur with this one undeniable fact - this is a great dance tune. Amazing bassline, double-tracked lead vocal, lyrics that are simple when taken at face value, but with a hint of being dragged into a subterranean paradise when you read between the lines. Sexy, infectious, and the first 12" single to go gold since 1981's "Double Dutch Bus" by Frankie Smith.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Adver(t)se Reactions

There are some bizarre commercials around. The one above annoys me. Because around the 12-second mark, the son, who is presumably either at school or at the local pool, texts mum to say he's mislaid his swimming trunks. And then we see the mum coming out of a room (presumably the boy's bedroom, but possibly the laundry room?) holding said trunks and smirking inanely. She's found'em. Great! Or perhaps she was hiding them and the smirk is saying "That'll show the little git who's boss!", but the point is, unless the pool (or the school) is next door, she's not really going to say to herself  "I know what I'll do. I'll drive to the school, and once I get past security and the school secretary and have the boy paged to come to school reception and collect the trunks himself, he'll still have PLENTY of time to get back and swim.", is she? Not unless it's double P.E. that day.

Who knew Patsy Kensit was ever fat? Ever? OK, so you were married to Liam Gallagher, we all make mistakes luv. Boo hoo. Get a grip.

This is actually an actual tune by a band called The Molloys. However, what appears to be a folky video becomes a crap ad for sausages (which aren't all that good, really). Particularly loathsome is the bit at 32 seconds where the young man smiles at his mum and she does an impression of a squinting cat.

Oh come on Nicole. As if you eat.

Alright, where to start with this one?

"C'mon, more stylish..." What the hell is wrong with that room, lady?

"More like it!" "No. Way."  What the hell is wrong with that room, dude? Because it's too girly for you, ya curly-mop-white-afro-haired nob?

"Is there a pool?" She says. And he says, almost in surprise, "Tcheh, there is!" I have never stayed at a hotel, even a budget one, that didn't have a pool of some sort. Don't act so shocked.

P.S. I realise that in the USA you had the exact same ad but with Americans doing the voice overs. But did you know there was a German version?

Much better.

Then, lastly (actually I could go on and on, but let's not get too boring) there's this little nugget.

and this...

All of these make one thought resonate around my brain...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

100 Records That Shook The World, #10

You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

Dead Or Alive

Dead or Alive was a British dance-pop group which found fame thanks to the antics of androgynous frontman Pete Burns. Formed in Liverpool in 1980 after Pete's stints with The Mystery Girls and Nightmares In Wax, they debuted with the Ian Broudie-produced Doors soundalike "I'm Falling." "Number Eleven" followed, but just as the group was gaining momentum, they were swept aside by the emergence of the New Romantic movement, with Burns subsequently charging that fellow androgyne Boy George of Culture Club had merely stolen his outrageous image.

Burns reworked the Dead or Alive lineup including future Mission U.K. guitarist Wayne Hussey and bassist Mike Percy. Over the course of the next couple of years the group evolved into a true dance band and ultimately landed with major-label Epic. A series of singles appeared during 1983, including "Misty Circles" and "What I Want"; Hussey left for The Sisters Of Mercy, and the lineup comprising Burns, Percy, keyboardist Tim Lever, and drummer Steve Coy scored their first major hit, a 1984 cover of KC & the Sunshine Band's classic stomper "That's the Way (I Like It)" which made the British Top 30.

Sophisticated Boom Boom was the group's full-length debut and it fared well with audiences, but it was  in early 1985 with the Hi-NRG smash "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," the first number one hit for the production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman. The succeeding LP, Youthquake, was also a smash, yielding further hits in the form of the singles "Lover Come Back to Me," "In Too Deep," and "My Heart Goes Bang."

The success was never repeated, although "You Spin Me Round" has been re-released several times and made the charts on each occasion, especially during Pete Burns' infamous stint on Celebrity Big Brother.


P.S. You've all probably heard about Pete Burns' ongoing cosmetic surgery. Here's what he looks like now...

100 Records That Shook The World, #11

New Year's Day


The lyric had its origins in a love song from Bono to his wife. It was subsequently reshaped, inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement. The bass part stemmed from bassist Adam Clayton trying to figure out what the chords to the Visage song "Fade to Grey" were.

Bono said of the song in 1983, "I think the fact that it made the Top Ten indicated a disillusionment among record buyers. I don't think it was a pop single, certainly not in the way that Mickie Most might define a pop single as something that lasts three minutes and three weeks in the chart. I don't think we could have written that kind of song."

The song was "New Year's Day". It was the band's first UK hit single, peaking at #10 on the singles chart, #11 on the Dutch Top 40 and charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States for the first time in their career. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine placed the single at #435 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of  All Time.

U2 - New Year's Day from Kurt Damon on Vimeo.

According to The Edge's biography, the four horsemen seen riding away in the video are not the band, but four young women. Evidently it was so cold while filming that the band could not complete the horseback shot. Not only that but because of Bono's refusal to wear headgear, he had difficulty mouthing the words. Rock and roll is a tough gig.
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