Monday, 29 December 2008

Any friend of Jo-Jo is a friend of mine!

On the basis that any fan of Jonathan Richman had to be alright with me, I went and bought The Rockingbirds' first single, 'Jonathan, Jonathan', on no more than a good review in the NME, whose opinion I had already been wary of since 1978 when I bought an album by The Pop Group (or it might have been The Birthday Party) on the strength of a glowing write-up by someone who I assume was either profoundly deaf or doing it as a joke.

Returning the album to the shop within the time it would have taken to listen to it in its entirety, I was allowed to exchange it for The Fall's 'Totales Turns', which - while not without its challenging aspects - remains a favourite today.

The Rockingbirds single didn't disappoint, and the album which followed was an absolute belter. I went to see them play their last gig, and heard about the death of Kurt Cobain on the way there.

When Nirvana's 'Nevermind' came out, I borrowed it from the local library on CD, and remarked to the chaps I was lodging with at the time that if the band came over to the UK I wouldn't mind seeing them. They pointed out that we'd all seen them a few weeks before at the Reading Festival, but try as I might I could remember nothing about them, unlike most other bands there they had made no impression whatsoever. The next year they headlined, I lost interest after a couple of songs and went to see Tindersticks in the little tent instead, and have no regrets about doing so. Unlike, say, The Rockingbirds, or Tindersticks, they just didn't do it for me live.

The Rockingbirds gig was fantastic, it's a real shame that nobody bought their records, which seemed to be the main reason they split - they certainly appeared to have no problems with each others company during that last hoedown. I was wandering around the stone circle on the sunday of Glastonbury this year, and heard Rockingbirds songs blasting across the field between the circle and the Park Stage, and realised that it was Alan Tyler (the band's singer) playing in one of the guest spots. In good voice, too.

Doubting my stamina would allow me to get there and back and still remain upright for the rest of the day's anticipated fun, I sat and listened in the sunshine, grooving to the ideal summer soundtrack.

I still dust this first album off regularly, and - having checked its availability (zilch, apparently) - thought that I'd put it up here.

Hope you like it!

The Rockingbirds

Tracks are:
Gradually Learning
Further Down The Line
Standing At The Doorstep of Love
Jonathan, Jonathan
The Day My Life Begins
Time Drives The Truck
Halfway to Comatose
In Tall Buildings
Only One Flower

It's on Mediafire, here.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

I mow a lot of grass, o Lord, I pop a lot of pills (Lem-Sip mainly)

We've all been feeling under the weather recently, in various states of 'flu, colds, and winter run-down-ness, so felt that a bit of medical gubbins was called for.

Here is my prescription for feeling slightly better if you're tucked up with something unpleasant, and hopefully not as unpleasant as the half-eaten bananas our smallest has taken to leaving in our bed when we're not looking.

I think I've mentioned before that while becoming increasingly grumpy heading towards the prime of life, I find myself thinking of records I would sooner have scraped out my eardrums with knitting needles than heard just one more time in my youth, and find that they seem to have not only lost their emotional charge, but are actually quite hummable and some actually bear re-acquaintance.

Hence the inclusion of a rather clunky disco number, and another by the Jackson Five - which I remember mainly because I had it on one of those 'Top of the Pops' compilations covered by sounding-slightly-alikes in the early seventies, back in the days when I couldn't afford real records.

When I was about twelve, the boys from our street all gathered around one of our houses to listen to records on his big sister's record player, and I recall being subjected to a Queen album and 'Argus' by Wishbone Ash.

I commented at the time that I'd sooner be listening to T Rex or Slade, and was slapped down fairly harshly by the older boys, who told me in no uncertain terms that I'd soon grow out that kids' stuff and listen to proper grown-up music. I remember thinking at the time that this was highly unlikely to happen, and now I'm old enough almost to be a grandfather to any of those boys I would still rather listen to T Rex or Slade than Wishbone Ash or Queen. 'Seven Seas of Rye' was a pretty ace single, but even after Live Aid I remained steadfastly allergic to Fred and the gang. I downloaded 'Argus' again recently just to see if it had improved with age. To anyone considering doing the same, I would strongly recommend thinking long and hard before doing so.

While on the subject of records not being entirely accessible to all tastes, the last track on here is a gem I first heard on the late John Walters' show about twenty years ago, 'Tableau of a Lithotomy', and now - thanks to the wonderful wobbly winterweb - it's possible to enjoy it all over again.

Very few people I played a tape of it to at the time shared my enthusiasm for it, but it's worth listening to once just to see - or even imagine seeing - the expression on the face of anyone in the room with you while it's playing.

A lithotomy, by the way, is a bladder operation.

Have a happy new year, see you in 2009.

Get well soon!

1 Julie Andrews - A Spoonful of Sugar
2 Dr Feelgood - Down at the Doctor's
3 Miami Sound Machine - Doctor Beat
4 Jackson 5 - Doctor My Eyes
5 Beatles - Dr Robert
6 Electric Prunes - Doctor Do-Good
7 BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Dr Who
8 5000 Volts - Doctor Kiss Kiss
9 The Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes
10 The Other Half - Mr Pharmacist
11 Modern Lovers - Hospital
12 Johnny Rivers - Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
13 Eddie Cochran - Nervous Breakdown
14 Anthony Newley - If I Could Talk To The Animals
15 Bachman Turner Overdrive - You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
16 Lovin' Spoonful - Jugband Music
17 Medicine Head - Rising Sun
18 Carter Family - Keep on the Sunny Side
19 Marin Marais - Tableau of a Lithotomy

It's on Mediafire here.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

But Emily (and everybody else) loved him

One of my most treasured possessions comes from my time working in a now-closed bookshop. I asked if I could take it home and no-one else wanted it so I did just that.

It is a self-published pamphlet, containing an A4 piece of paper from the company Teleordering, who deal - or dealt, it was a long time ago and things may have changed since then - with individual book orders to publishers from bookshops.

When a lady came in and asked to order a copy of a pamphlet from Pogle Press we were not hopeful that we would ever see it, but it arrived quickly - indeed, the publisher, in this case also the author, had written a little note on the form.

In green ink, a jaunty exclamation mark was placed by the printed 'Order Processing Department', and in the space below was written, in the same green ink:

'ere y'are then.
2 copies, one a present for (the name of our customer), the other for yourselves.
No charge.

The title of the pamphlet is "The Emperor's New Clothes: hopes for a future for the world", and the author, Oliver Postgate.

One of the very first programmes I remember watching as a small child was The Pogles, and having recently seen it again on video it is just as good as I remembered it being. It was made by Smallfilms - Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin - and chronologically fell, as far as I can remember, between Noggin the Nog and The Clangers.

Our little girl still won't watch it, as the witch in it gave her nightmares as a small child, which may have something to do with why the BBC never saw fit to revive it in the way that they regularly do with the Clangers and Bagpuss.

All through my childhood - and had the films not stopped being made it would have been through adulthood as well - I can remember the excitement of hearing Oliver Postgate's wonderful voice coming out of the telly while all sorts of strange things were happening visually. Just three weeks ago I showed our smallest a video of The Clangers, and it is the first time I have seen him fully engrossed in any programme, although I've been told that In The Night Garden works also, sitting quietly in front of it mostly, occasionally acting little bits out in the way which only two-year-olds can.

For many years he seemed to disappear completely, and then a few years ago published his wonderful autobiography, "Seeing Things".

When he died a couple of weeks ago I felt extremely sad, and when I mentioned him in the office everyone else admitted to the same emotion.

I found a very poor recording which I had made a couple of years back when he appeared on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. The sound is not good, to the point of being pretty terrible. It overloaded a lot, and is distorted, but I thought I would share it should anyone else have missed it and would like to hear it.

Hopefully Radio 4 will repeat it, but since the BBC now appear to consider notable deaths something almost entirely lacking in newsworthiness it doesn't seem very likely.

There is a lovely article about him on the BBC website, written by Peter Firmin's daughter Emily - here.

Oliver Postgate on Desert Island Discs

As I've already said, the sound quality is not good, but just about listenable.

It's on Mediafire, here.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


Have been trying to get into the spirit of Christmas by listening to a lot of seasonal music, most of which I haven't heard before - and having listened it's quite clear why most of it is not on a loop in supermarkets. I've been impressed this year by just how jolly the staff are managing to appear - I worked in shops for years, and at this time of year it isn't easy to keep a smile on your face for very long days, often seven days a week.

I can't help thinking, though, that the smiles might be thinner if they were made to listen to some of the ones which got away. Of the hours of cheery novelty songs I've listened to, only "Christmas Time With The Three Stooges" - and even as a Three Stooges fan I approached that with some trepidation - really merits being brought to wider attention, in my opinion, and has passed the 'keeping kids quiet in cars' test not once but twice already.

Inevitably, it's over at Dr Forrest's Cheeze Factory, here, along with all sorts of other artefacts crawling out from under the decorations.

I'm hoping to get time to do a 'Best of weird Christmas records I've listened to so that you don't have to plough through them all yourself compilation' in time for Christmas, but it depends on how many Dad's Taxi runs are required between now and then as to whether or not that will happen.

At the risk of returning to one of my favourite soap-box subjects, I can't help thinking how tricky the compilation form is.

It is so rare, for instance, to find a cover-mounted CD with anything that hasn't got enough thumping great clunkers on to detract from the rest of the golden grooves therein.

It was hearing a documentary on the tribulations of EMI on Radio Four yesterday morning which reminded me of this particular compilation, from the November 1997 issue of Vox magazine, celebrating 100 years of EMI. It was on heavy rotation in my shop-keeping days, as there is enough variety to keep everybody happy, and there's not a duff track on it. Even bands I can't usually stand (Dexy's, Deep Purple) are represented by good, solid tracks.

Hope you enjoy it, thanks for stopping by!

chEMIstry: A Hundred Years of EMI

Tracks are:

Gene Vincent - Bluejean Bop
Fats Domino - I'm Walkin'
Cliff Richard - Dynamite
Billy May - Mission Impossible
The Beach Boys - Dance Dance Dance
The Ventures - Hawaii Five-O
The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird
The Animals - We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Manfred Mann - Tired of Trying, Bored With Lying
Inez & Charlie Foxx - Mockingbird
Syd Barrett - Octopus
The Band - King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
Canned Heat - Let's Work Together
Deep Purple - Hush
Dr Feelgood - Down At The Doctors
Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have)
Dexy's Midnight Runners - Plan B
Blondie - Union City Blue
Morrissey - Suedehead
Blur (featuring Francoise Hardy) - To The End
Supergrass - Nothing More's Gonna Get In My Way
Sparklehorse with Thom Yorke - Wish You Were Here
Meredith Brooks - Somedays
Murray Lachlan Young - I'm Being Followed By The Rolling Stones

In response to comments last week, (for which thanks!) I'm reluctant to use Megaupload because (a) I can do without all that Flash rubbish slowing down my PC, (b) I get really annoyed by the pop-ups it throws up left, right and centre, and (c) as this is a sunday teatime family show, some of their advertising is a bit past the watershed for my taste.

This week I'm trying Mediafire. It's also on Rapidshare, but I wish they would make their minds up how they want the thing to work...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Original Modern Lovers posted here!

The Modern Lovers original early 1970s demos have just been posted here.

It's worth checking out for the original of 'Don't Let Our Love Go To Waste', which was later covered by Galaxie 500.

Great blog, too!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Our time is right now - here in the morning of our lives...

As the days get shorter I'm finding it harder to get stuff done, and am looking forward to the turning of the year and longing for the return of spring.

More and more at the moment I'm turning to the music of optimism. For me, Leonard Cohen's 'Songs of Love and Hate' is the ideal summer album, because after mulling it over during the short dark night one can then run outside just a few short hours later and feel the warmth of the sun again. Stepping into an avalanche is something more easily enjoyed, I find, when one has the freedom to climb out again without having to chip through centuries of permafrost.

During the grey old winter, I yearn for something to put a spring in my step, and find that a bit of Kevin Ayers (long avoided after being made to listen to a Soft Machine album once, but now a firm favourite having discovered that Joy of a Toy is mercifully lacking in freeform jazz!), Robyn Hitchcock (preferably with the Egyptians), The Frank and Walters, or pre-disco Bee Gees does the trick.

Someone I can enjoy at any time of the year, though, is Jonathan Richman, and this live album from 1977 is another album which I adore, and would challenge anyone not to fall in love with on a first listen. He's too ethereal to be summed up by any single one of his many albums, but - even though this is one of his more preposterous efforts - for me it sums up most of the reasons that I fell in love with the man and his music - and what a night out that gig must have been!

Even though they charted within a couple of months of one another, several years passed between the recording of Jonathan Richman's first and second (and only) hit singles, which immediately raised questions about what anyone trying to investigate his ouevre having heard only these should expect.

The first hit - Roadrunner - burst out of the radio sounding like the last great undiscovered riff, although radio dj's also played the b-side - a quieter, acoustic recording which if it hadn't been for the adenoids could have been by someone else entirely.

The second - Egyptian Reggae - sounded like it had been made up on the spot in a miked-up dustbin, though in the context of the parent album, 'Rock and Roll With The Modern Lovers', its production values sound higher than most of the other tracks on there.

By this time he'd already travelled as far musically as many bands would in a lifetime, from ragged keyboard-driven Velvets-influenced riffage to almost the quietest live act anywhere, past or present, and going on to eschew almost any form of amplification regardless of the size of the hall.

On one particularly memorable night at the Town and Country Club in London, with an incarnation of the Modern Lovers consisting of himself on vocals and saxophone and Brennan Totten on guitar and drum (sic), he asked the soundman over and over to turn it down - until eventually only the first few rows could hear, and the T&C felt more than usually cavernous that evening as the sound continued to fade almost to a murmur in the corner.

I first saw the Modern Lovers live at Dingwalls in London in 1983. I stood down the front, transfixed, and it was only afterwards that a couple of strangers pointed out that I'd been standing next to David Bowie - and hadn't noticed. Apparently I also stood next to John Peel at a Fall gig in Cambridge in the 90s. Of both missed opportunities to have said hello to a couple of heroes of mine, it is the latter which I regret most.

For a few years I travelled wherever practical to see him and whichever incarnation of his Modern Lovers were by his side at the time. I even met him briefly outside the Electric Ballroom as we were queueing outside and he wandered past down the road carrying his guitar. I shook his hand and he signed the piece of paper I proffered with the air of someone who wasn't used to being asked for autographs. That was July 4th, American Independence Day, 1985, where he and the Modern Lovers - Asa Brebner and Andy Paley on that tour - were billed to play a twenty-minute set supporting Green on Red. To say that they blew the roof off is an understatement.

It was just astonishing, of the many, many occasions I saw him live I don't think he was ever better than on that night.

In those days I used to smuggle a little cassette recorder into gigs, and have recorded evidence that the shouting of 'Jonathan! Jonathan!' and stamping for an encore lasted not only for the interval between the sets, but through the entirety of Green on Red's performance.

Several years later he played the Acoustic Tent at Glastonbury, and a portion of the audience attempted to dismantle the venue in protest at his being denied the opportunity to play another encore. Someone I was speaking to afterwards described it as being almost as hairy as Reading the year before, when the second stage was practically destroyed because Edwyn Collins had not been allowed to come back on.

People like Eno and David Bowie had reputations for being musical chameleons, but Jojo (as he is known to the initiated), really lived the part, and while until the late 1980s no two of his records sounded very much like the last in terms of their production, just about anything with his name on between 1974's 'Modern Lovers' (released in 1976) and 'Jonathan Goes Country' (1990) are consistently life-affirming and will make anyone with a pulse grin from ear-to-ear regardless of where you're coming from.

Since the early '90s his music has not, in my opinion, been as consistent, although I still buy his albums and would not pass an opportunity to see him live again if it arose.

While his talent is idiosyncratic and erratic, for the last thirty years I've found myself going back to him, and wanting more, and I can't think of any other artists whose body of work offers so much joy yet remain so widely undiscovered.

This album appears to be out of print, selling for ridiculous money at the moment. If you're already a fan then grab it and enjoy. If you've never heard of him then prepare to be blown away - then look out for 'The Modern Lovers', 'It's Time for Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers', 'Jonathan Goes Country', and - from 1996, his last truly consistent album, a complete return to form - 'Surrender to Jonathan'.

Unlike this one most seem to be available, so buy 'em while they're still out there!

The Modern Lovers Live (1977)

Tracks are:

1. I'm a Little Airplane
2. Hey There Little Insect
3. Egyptian Reggae
4. Ice Cream Man
5. I'm a Little Dinosaur
6. My Little Kookenhaken
7. South American Folk Song
8. New England
9. Morning of Our Lives

Since Rapidshare, have re-introduced their waiting times between downloads, I'm putting this up on Badongo as well - so take your pick.

I'd be interested to know which, if any, file sharing thingy people prefer to use, and why - so why not let me know in the comments? Thanks!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Avast me hearties, 'tis time to deck the halls...

December 1st is coming 24 hours early this year.

That is the date when we put up our decorations, but the kids are so excited that we're not going to be able to hold off until next weekend.

This will be the first when our smallest will be able to 'help', so that will make it more 'fun' than usual - especially if middle-sized one is 'helping' to keep him out of the way.

Speaking of being out of the way, every year on this glad occasion my better half disappears for 40 minutes to avoid the traditional playing of Tiny Tim's Christmas Album which launches the festivities chez nous.

I bought it for our oldest for his first Christmas, and it has become a favourite of mine despite, or possibly because of, everybody else finding it a trifle challenging.

This afternoon, though, I shall be firing up whatever Heath Robinson set up passes for our hi-fi at the moment and singing along with this perennial favourite - and I would strongly urge you all to do the same.

I was about to rip my copy when I found that Dr Forrest's Cheeze Factory had beaten me to it, so I thank them for saving me the trouble, and wish them - and you - a Merry Christmas, and probably not for the last time this year.

Tis the season to be jolly!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Ooh what a night, late November 1968...

It's been a bit of a week, with our boiler giving up on heating water and consequently having to bathe kids and a grumpy spouse via bucket chains from kettles and saucepans in the kitchen at the other end of the house.

It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't burnt out the shower trying to fill the bath from it last weekend.

Could be far worse, though - the heating could have packed up as well. I didn't live anywhere with central heating until I was in my thirties, and now seem to have turned into a great big southern softie.

It really does become very easy to take for granted things which one used to live happily without.

For years I lived without either a fridge or a television. I've resisted the coming of each new white box into the house, but always relent in the end, except for answerphones, which - if not the work of Satan - only seem to exist to further increase slavery to communication.

When these records were released, I think that our family owned a fridge, a cooker, a radiogram (record player and a vast valve radio which didn't pick up anything much despite having a great big ugly aerial in the form of a long trailing pink plastic ribbon hanging out the back and rising up through the room on the next floor, ending up in the roof) and a black-and-white television.

We used to have to switch the TV on about five minutes before the half-hour of kids programmes in the morning, or the half-hour of kids programmes in the late afternoon started, so that it could 'warm up'. Likewise with the radio. I used to switch it on in the evening and turn off the main light, playing records by the green and orange glow of the great machine.

Our smallest took my solar-powered/wind-up radio a couple of weeks ago and put it in the bath to see if it would float.

It didn't, and neither would it work again afterwards. That's his Christmas present sorted out, then.

It almost made me wish for the days when it would have taken several large blokes to move a radio a few inches to the left or right, and you would have needed to dismantle the aerial and unplug speakers (themselves the size of small wardrobes) beforehand.

Our aforementioned two-year-old is quite capable of turning on computers, and is also adept at finding the button which makes parents (and our local librarians) shout when he presses it and switches them off, losing any unsaved information in the process. I was thirteen when pocket calculators first reached the shops, and my first pocket calculator was the size of a small box of chocolates, and certainly wouldn't have gone into any pocket I had ever possessed.

From those simpler times - when electrical items were almost always solidly encased in big heavy wooden boxes - for your listening amusement, is the third and final batch of hits from the UK top 40 of November 1968.

I'm struggling to track down some of the hits of December, but if I can find most of them I'll cobble together another compilation next month.

Part Three, tiddly-dee

Aphrodite's Child - Rain and Tears
Billie Davis - I Want You To Be My Baby
Betty Everett - It's In His Kiss
Johnny Nash - Hold Me Tight
Marmalade - Wait For Me Marianne
Diana Ross & The Supremes - Love Child
Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup
Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love
Cliff Richard - Marianne
Gun - Race With The Devil
William Bell & Judy Clay - Private Number
The Band - The Weight
Cupids' Inspiration - My World
Four Tops - Yesterday's Dreams
Tom Jones - Help Yourself
Kassenatz Katz - Quick Joey Small

Part the Third - (removed by Rapidshare, others are still active though).

If you missed the others and can't face scrolling down to look for them, here they are.

Part The First

Part The Second

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Part the Two-th, November 1968

Here's the second batch, thirteen more from November 1968. The first batch are below, just scroll down a bit, the third part will be along in a few days.

Tracks are:

Long John Baldry - Mexico
The Hollies - Listen To Me
The Tremeloes - My Little Lady
Jeannie C Riley - Harper Valley PTA
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need To Get By
The Scaffold - Lily The Pink
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich - Wreck of the Antoinette
Love Affair - A Day Without Love
Locomotive - Rudi's In Love
Mason Williams - Classical Gas
Lulu - I'm A Tiger
Dave Clark Five - Red Balloon
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap - Lady Willpower

Weeeee'llllllll drink a drink a drink....

Monday, 17 November 2008

Tonight Matthew I'm going to be a Tiger...

I've spent a great deal of time this week trying to get computers to function properly. Anyone running Zone Alarm 8 and wondering why their PC is running like Steptoe and Son's carthorse would be well advised to uninstall it and go back to version 7 - your 'puter will probably start to function as you'd expect it to again.

Friday was Children in Need day in the UK - when the BBC is given over to celebs trying to get folk to part with their money in aid of a very good cause - helping poor kids around the world get a better life.

I don't have a problem with Children in Need, I don't have a problem with the cause, and I certainly don't have a problem with raising money for it.

What I do have a problem with is the guilt trip that goes with it. And all the other "dress up/dress down" fridays given over to being 'wacky' and 'zany' in the name of helping some or other good cause.

The guys in the Call Centre along the corridor from where I work would be ostracised if they failed to pay up £2.00 for the privilege of wearing something other than they'd usually wear to work, plus extra for cakes, plus more for guessing the name of the teddy bear, plus goodness knows what else.

Having had the trip laid on us by the kids, we had already coughed up about seven quid by breakfast time, so as I walked into the building wearing my shirt and work trousers just as on any other day I was more than ready to let anyone trying to lay guilt on me know that the time had come to announce to the world that enough is enough!

As they all know that I'm a stroppy so-and-so when roused, only one did. Perhaps they saw me coming, maybe they had all seen through it this year as well.

A friend at work told me that this year her children's school had banned raising money for charity by having dress-down/wearing your clothes back-to-front/painting your head with black and white stripes and dying your hair yellow so that you look like a belisha beacon days, and there appeared in my mind a glimmer of hope that the world is finally coming to its senses, although listening to the applause afforded John Redwood on Any Questions on Radio 4 tonight I think that it has not filtered through to all levels of society just yet.

Another problem I have is that these events focus attention so firmly on already very wealthy causes to the detriment of the equally deserving but less fashionable ones.

For seven years I devoted practically all of my spare time to a particular charity - a very well-known one, but for whom dressing up in silly clothes and being overtly jolly regardless of how one actually feels about it inside would be considered grossly inappropriate.

With the coming of Children in Need, this huge national charity whom everyone in the UK will have heard of saw its revenue drop dramatically with each Wogan-driven telethon. And if this particular charity was struggling as a direct result, then I have no idea how the small, really unfashionable charities were coping.

Having got that off my chest, I saw a couple of weeks back on another blog a list of singles from the US charts from November 1968, and practically gasped with the thought of what a great time that must have been to have been musically aware. This is not as far from the point I've been making above as you might be thinking here - in the days when I listened regularly to music radio, they were always celebrating 1967 (and rightly so, in my opinion), but - just as for my generation the couple of years after punk broke everything fragmented and turned back into the disco (Blondie) and prog (The Damned) and rockabilly (The Clash) it was supposed to do away with - 1968 might as well not have happened.

Being a Brit, I've used the UK charts, but I pulled out what I considered to be the over-familiar (Hey Jude, Joe Cocker's With A Little Help From My Friends, Magic Bus) and ones which I can't stand (Jose Feliciano's Light My Fire, Val Doonican, a couple of others) and present part one of All The Hits of November 1968 (apart from Eeny Meeny by the Showstoppers, which I haven't been able to track down anywhere - and indeed, don't think I've ever heard. If you have an mp3 of it which I could use to complete the set I'd appreciate a link!)

I'm splitting it into three approximately 45 minute parts, which will go up when I get round to it. I'm considering carrying it on with new entries, but haven't really thought that one through yet. If you like the sound of that then please leave a comment, it might spur me on.

The order is loosely based on popularity in terms of chart positions at the start, middle and end of the month. I've put it in a separate post so that if the music gets deleted my inane ramblings will remain.

Hope you enjoy it!

1968 - The First Dozen

Hugo Montenegro - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Barry Ryan - Eloise
The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine
Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
Mary Hopkin - Those Were The Days
The Marbles - Only One Woman
Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon - Breaking Down The Walls of Heartache
Leapy Lee - Little Arrows
The Turtles - Elenore
The Casuals - Jesamine
Nina Simone - Ain't Got No/I Got Life
Engelbert Humperdinck - Les Bicyclettes de Belsize

here it is pop pickers!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


I just found that blogger deleted one of my posts - it was the one I did about time. Shame, because I was really proud of that one. I guess that someone objected to one or more of the tracks I put on the compilation. I'm not going to get stressy about it, but I wished they had just asked me to take the music off, which I would have done straightaway. I suppose that it's easier for these people to wield a big stick than to email me or leave a comment asking to remove it.

In case anyone enjoys my ramblings, I'm putting the text back up here. You can build your own soundtrack to go with it.

It went thus...

Ever since I was quite young I have been aware of the light at this time of year, as though the rays of the Sun are absorbing the changing colour of the leaves and the World is turning a subtle shade of bronze.

I always used to feel quite sad when noticing it, but like many things which used to make me sad when young, time has brought a now quite cheerful acceptance - beside which, with three children to keep me on my toes I have less time for contemplation, and, indeed, seem to identify fewer legitimate reasons to be miserable.

This is not to say that I am not still angry about a lot of things - but things which I now tend to accept are farther from my control, now that I know I will never change the world by getting up on a stage and playing guitar fairly badly.

I've been getting quite internally agitated this week about the heaps of useless halloween tat cluttering up aisles and aisles every shop I've been into in preparation for next week's dustbin collection as it's all carted off to landfill, with the prospect of another two months trying to avoid feeling completely cynical about Christmas.

At work we receive, often several times a day, emails alerting us to 'news' about the organisation.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the announcement of a Christmas Ball, at which guests would be greeted on their arrival by machines belching snow out into the streets, with a call for ideas as to how "we" can reduce energy consumption at work by 30%.

Not hiring machines to fill the street with snow would seem an obvious place to start, as would not printing full colour posters - redesigned each month so that the old ones can be thrown away - reminding us to switch lights (which are on automatic timers over which we have no control) off when not in use.

I would have been a great ARP warden during the war, wandering around making people turn lights off, and tellies off of standby, and closing doors... and... and...

Anyway, automatic timers brings me neatly back to the 'extra' hour we've had in bed - which, of course, is not a real 'extra' hour at all, but one merely borrowed from the spring - long enough ago for the Time Lords to think we will have forgotten about it.

When I was at school, I used to open up a newsagent's shop at the weekend.

I can clearly recall the moment of realisation on a crisp but not unpleasant Sunday morning roughly three decades ago that I had moved my clock an hour forward instead of back, and was opening the shop at half-past-three in the morning instead of the usual five-thirty.

I resolved at that moment not to make the same mistake again.

Putting together this compilation of songs on the theme of time brought home how strongly its passing is linked with regret and unhappiness, so I've gone for the upbeat as far as possible - and also put in some recordings of old clocks which I downloaded from somewhere some time ago for a reason I have now quite forgotten. I think it works quite well, but then I would say that wouldn't I!

It was intended to be 24 songs, running for precisely 60 minutes to the second. My other half told me there was a word for that beginning with "O" and ending with "bsessive", so I let it go at 25 tracks, over-running by about two-and-a-half minutes.

Hope you enjoyed it if you did download it - if I knew which track(s) had been objected to I could edit it and put it back, but that doesn't appear to be the way it works.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

All Together Now... There's a big black cloud comin' down...

I'm not feeling very talkative today, so will let the music do the chatting for me.

Here's another gem which is not so much forgotten as never made it to the bus stop on time in the first place - which is no reason not to fall in love with it in the time it takes to download and listen to it.

It seems to be completely unavailable at the moment, so if you've been waiting to hear this all your life, grab it while it's hot!

Tracks are:

Big Black Cloud
Threw It Away
Me and My Beretta
Nature Girl
Dim The Lights
John Cassavetes
Been There Done That
Way Out West

brrrng brrrng

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Hunka Hunka Burnin' Loaf...

In common with a lot of Brits my age, I don't really 'get' Hallowe'en. When I was young it came and went with not a lot of fuss, and by the time we got around to having kids ourselves it seemed to have become an extension of Christmas, with orange, green and red tat filling the shops from the moment the kids go back to school in September until the end of October, when it is immediately replaced by white, green and red tat for the next two months.

This year, though, I bought some sweets and resolved to dispense them to the local youth whether they liked it or not, but only managed to get rid of a single packet of Chewits, which was harder than I expected.

Two little girls and their Mum were passing, the former dressed as witches, when I got back from putting the car away.

I think that they grew suspicious when I asked them if they had been very naughty all year, as they ran away and hid around the corner by our front door and their Mum had to go and fetch them. We had no further young visitors, so we're working through the Chewits ourselves.

When I was small we used to make a big thing of Bonfire Night, celebrating Guy Fawkes almost managing to blow up the Houses of Parliament. It was only recently that I began to understand that what was actually being celebrated was the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, and with it the persecution of Catholics at that time.

Even the fact that we were watching an effigy of a Catholic being burned didn't really register - any more than small children dressing up as witches consider, (depending on your world-view), the human story behind the persecution of Pagans in history, or the dreadful things that Wiccans have been accused of - quite regardless of how much, if any, veracity is contained within these claims.

We kids had always just assumed that Guy Fawkes was the hero.

Until a small boy grows old enough to realise quite what might have happened if the plot had actually succeeded, the blowing up of a huge building a la James Bond or The Towering Inferno seems very, very cool indeed.

Every year Mum would help my sisters and I make a Guy by stuffing a set of my father's worn-out work clothes with scrumpled newspapers, drawing a face on an old pillow-case with felt pen and then sewing all the bits together.

The three of us children would then put the Guy in a wheelbarrow and push him around the town, demanding a "penny for the Guy" with menaces. One year I found quite a large handbell which I rang enthusiastically as we went on our way, and all but Mrs King at number 27 came out and gave us money to get us to go away.

On the evening of the 5th of November we would all troop out into the garden and watch my Dad letting off a pretty good selection of fireworks. We always looked forward to a Catherine Wheel setting fire to the fence, followed or preceded according to whichever fancy had taken him that year, by the milk-bottle containing one of the rockets falling over and everyone wondering where it would go.

And we always had a fantastic bonfire.

Dad was a carpenter and every year it was my job to go with him up to the yard where he worked and gather up old doors and window frames from a big pile in an outdoors corner, taking them home to make an extremely large tent-shaped bonfire in the back garden which would scorch the grass to the extent that it would take a whole year for it to grow back - to my Mother's perpetual annoyance.

The Guy would sit on top, Dad or I would light it, and we'd all watch in wonder as the whole lot went up.

About the time I became a teenager, my friends and I discovered that the local sports shop sold rook-scarers so that farmers could add sound effects to their scarecrows - really, really loud bangers on a rope - which were much better than the little efforts you could buy from the newsagent or toy shop. A string of them hidden in the middle of the bonfire took everybody by surprise - for a couple of years at least.

That may have been in the days before bonfires were regularly frisked for hedgehogs just before they were lit, but no hedgehog would have burned in ours after the second time we'd pulled that one, as it would have been found while the pyre was being frisked for stray explosives.

I miss our old family firework parties, although we generally take the children to a large display nearby - and also miss the days when November 5th was the only time when anyone in England let off fireworks. These days it seems to be done at the drop of a hat - which is all very jolly, but a bit like Christmas happening at Easter, the Town Show, the Queen's birthday, and a dozen other times besides all through the year.

Anyway, I thought I'd recall those more innocent times by putting together a compilation on a fire theme. It kept me quiet for a while, and I hope that you enjoy it.

Tracks are:

1 The Rolling Stones - Play With Fire
2 Jimi Hendrix - Burning of the Midnight Lamp
3 The Fall - Fiery Jack
4 The Sweet - Hell Raiser
5 The Doors - Light My Fire
6 Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
7 Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of Fire
8 Elvis Presley - Burning Love
9 The Tramps - Disco Inferno (Burn Baby Burn)
10 Hudson Ford - Burn Baby Burn
11 Eno - Baby's on Fire
12 Roxy Music - Both Ends Burning
13 Hayseed Dixie - Smoke on the Water
14 Fire Engine Sirens in Traffic
15 The Move - Fire Brigade
16 Thirteenth Floor Elevators - Fire Engine
17 Theme from Fireman Sam
18 Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Forest Fire

I'm Just a Burnin' Guy...

Dubya, Dubya Wherefore Art Thou?

Wow! Over 2,500 visitors, and most of them not me hitting the refresh button! Thank you!

As a Brit, and thereby a citizen of the rest of the World which isn't America, I'm not really qualified to hold an opinion, but I really hope that Obama wins tonight - not least because I would love to see the Home of the Free do something which I do not believe that Britain is anywhere near ready to do in electing a non-white leader.

Even though the polls suggest a victory, I've seen enough elections here in which the polls have been some way out - and a couple of times completely wrong - to think that McCain might swing it.

Either way, at least neither of them are Dubya.

I just wanted to get that off my chest, I've got a very jolly compilation to post later, which I'll do after putting the kids to bed.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ah Woke Up This Lunchtime...

I have a very dear friend who once made me a compilation of old blues records, on cassette, in the days when TDK C-90s traded between teenagers were the closest any of us could dream that we'd ever get to Napster.

I liked almost everything on that tape, so much that I leapt at the chance of going to a Blues Festival in London, at the Hammersmith Odeon as it was then, to see John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Albert King and I think there was somebody else dead famous in the 'blues community' as well. It was terrific, really exciting, and the memory has stayed clear and strong enough that I can still smell the interesting tobacco being smoked by the party to the right of us - this being back in the days when it was acceptable for people to attempt to set light to the hair of the people in front of them in theatres and cinemas.

Trouble is, even after this epiphany, although I can quite happily listen to blues sometimes, I still find that I don't get terribly excited about any but the 'greatest hits'.

Most of the songs, I find, sound rather similar to most of the others, and most of the singers had voices which in their early twenties sounded as lived in as Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen's these days.

Meanwhile, I've been musing on the idea that the very worst people to compile 'best of' collections are those who feel passionately about their subject. Rather it should be left to those without emotional involvement, who are prepared to edit, brutally if necessary, and who will not stick a challenging b-side or five in to either tempt completists or test the patience of anyone attempting to find an entrance to the world into which they are peering for the first time.

Assuming my theory to be correct, this, of course, seems to make the blues a pretty good project for me to have a go at.

I've skipped Robert Johnson on the grounds that - cue heretical comment - any but purists will probably struggle with the sound quality of even the cleaned up versions - and even though all his recordings will all fit onto a single CD, time seems to stand still while it is playing.

Another thing that an introduction should be, in my opinion, is short - and this is short. I'm talking 'back to vinyl' here, and a single album at that.

Recently I've been downloading lots of 'best of' CDs with a view to discovering new music, but the temptation of the artist, compiler or record company to fill every available byte of space on a disc to give punters their money's worth seems to be overwhelming these days, no matter how slim the canon, or - in the case of new albums - if there are only 40 minutes worth of good ideas.

And so, today I present - for all those who, like me, just don't really 'get' the blues, or for anyone who fancies it but doesn't know where to start - a fairly random selection of what I remember being on that compilation of what started me off down that stoney old passway, even if I didn't get very much further.

This lot, though, ROCKS!

Tracks are:

1. Elmore James - Dust My Broom
2. Slim Harpo - Scratch My Back
3. John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillun
4. Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign
5. Leadbelly - Midnight Special
6. Lightnin' Hopkins - Baby Please Don't Go
7. Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightnin'
8. Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
9. Jimmy Reed - Bright Lights Big City
10. Muddy Waters - Hoochie Coochie Man
11. Mississippi Fred McDowell - You Gotta Move
12. Blind Lemon Jefferson - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
13. Sonny Boy Williamson - Fattening Frogs For Snakes
14. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells - Messin' With The Kid

Woke up this mornin', de-dum-de-dum

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Stick your finger in your ear and go 'Ting-a-ling-a-loo'

I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to learn that according to a magazine (the name of which I can't remember)that blogging is dead because the whole Interwebworld has gone over to twittering.

As I've only been doing this for about six weeks, all I can say is that it's been very jolly while it lasted, although I intend to carry on until I either get bored or switched off.

I have no idea what twittering is, but if work is as dull tomorrow as it was today then I may well Google for it and see if the Gods of the Interweb throw me offline for questionable surfing behaviour.

On the other hand, and back to the matter in hand indeed, I was absolutely stunned when I checked the other night to find that this album - one of my very very favourite albums ever ever ever - doesn't appear to be available on CD at the moment.

I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, and it's another (see Feral Pop Frenzy by Even As We Speak, below) that I can listen to in almost any mood.

I'm a bit suspicious of traditional finger-in-the-ear British folk, although don't generally object if it's playing within earshot, and tend towards the ones that everybody likes - Fairport Convention's albums with Sandy Denny, a bit of Steeleye Span, Vashti Bunyan - preferring it on the jangly, and non-pure/not too traditional side.

This isn't traditional finger-in-the-ear folk. It thumps along at a mighty rate, and even the slow ones are breathtaking. I would definitely rank it alongside 'Liege and Lief'.

If you've not heard it before, then prepare for a treat.

Tracks are:

1. Mississippi
2. Lullaby of London
3. Night Comes In
4. Valentine's Day Is Over
5. All Tomorrow's Parties
6. Dives and Lazarus
7. Dark-Eyed Sailor
8. Pain or Paradise
9. Susie Clelland
10. Finisterre

It's here! As always, at glorious 128.

And the cover looks like this.

As always, thank you very much for visiting!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Be Glad For The Song Feels Like It's Never Going To End

Goodness me, didn't I go on last week!

This time I'm letting the music do the talking. They're all over three minutes long, most of them are very much longer than that.

I've called it "Clunking Great Epics", designed to be listened to on those long journeys when only a great big hairy wig-out or ten will do. Hope you enjoy 'em!

Tracks are:

Neil Young - Like a Hurricane
The Fall - Cruiser's Creek
The Mekons - Ghosts of American Astronauts
Fairport Convention - Matty Groves
Bob - Rain
Gordon Lightfoot - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Hawkwind - Lord of Light
The Smiths - How Soon is Now?
The Incredible String Band - Maya
The Wedding Present - Take Me!

Let's Rawwkk!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

What's Not To Like?

When I consider the matter objectively, I can understand why most people do not enjoy listening to 'Trout Mask Replica' by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band for pleasure, even occasionally.

If you've never heard it, it is almost impossible to describe.

I have played it to very few people. I struggle to contain the urge to share this wonderful thing with every sentient being on the planet, but experience has shown that most people simply do not like it, and even though it was not put here to make people put their hands over their ears and run away, that is the effect it seems to generally have.

When the Wild Man's other half was expecting our first-born, I would wait until she was asleep and play "Trout Mask Replica" fairly quietly so as not to wake her (and be made to turn it off) in order to educate the baby in the womb, having heard that babies recognise and enjoy sounds they are familiar with once they are out and doing.

It worked in his case, and middle-sized one claims to enjoy the Great Man's oeuvre as well, although she would probably prefer to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks, or the rather fine Chuckle Brothers album recently posted at the Cheeze Factory.

Among the artists and bands I love who I perceive as being popular are Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin - yet I have close friends who would slash their wrists rather than listen to a single song by any of those. Then there are acts such as The Ramones, Half Man Half Biscuit, Teenage Fanclub and many others, where most of those I have met who have heard them seem to either love or at least like them.

Even though I dislike almost everything she has recorded and regularly wish that she would go away quietly and enjoy her money, I can understand why Madonna is popular, just as I can see why so many artists whom I also actively dislike, such as U2, Genesis, The Police, UB40, any hip-hopper or rapper whom anybody has ever heard of, or Mariah Carey appear to give pleasure to improbably large audiences.

They just aren't for me, and while I'm sure most of them are perfectly pleasant people it would probably surprise them if somebody like me did claim to enjoy their music.

Where it gets tricky for me, as a supposedly open-minded music-lover, is when so many people whose opinions I respect enthuse about music which not only do I simply not get, but which sends cold shivers down my spine, brings me up in goose-bumps and occasionally makes me feel actually slightly nauseous, like... (can I bring myself to say the word?) YES.

I really do regard that band with a loathing almost bordering on insanity, although I have no idea why, and when they played at Glastonbury a few years ago I went to see them just to see if I could have been that wrong about them.

As soon as they started playing I concluded that, no, I had not been wrong about them, and had to get out of earshot as quickly as I possibly could.

I really couldn't bear it.

I have sat down in a relaxed state of mind, more than once, to listen to Joni Mitchell, The Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Gram Parsons and others, because one day I expect/wish/hope that my brain will suddenly switch on to it and I'll suddenly find enlightenment from a corner of the exquisite tapestries I have it from good authorities that each of them weave.

Of these, only Joni Mitchell sends me racing every time almost immediately to the off button, the others just wash over me leaving no impression at all. What is so strange to me is that (apart from Joni Mitchell) I don't even actively NOT like them, it is as if their songs aren't there for me to even formulate an opinion about.

[If any of you kind readers disagree with me, and I very much hope that you do, please suggest something accessible by any of the above in comments, I promise I'll listen to them, even if I've heard what you suggest already.]

As you may have worked out, I've spent a long time mulling over the question of musical taste, and then I find myself wondering about the handful of bands which are just so absolutely adorable that it is perfectly obvious that everyone in the world would fall in love with if only anyone ever got to hear them. And when I play them to people they instantly agree, and then they go off to convert other people.

Jonathan Richman, for example. Some of his more recent music is not as accessible as his earlier stuff, but the man radiates joy and those who have watched him live on a particularly good night wouldn't hear a word against him.

I adore the band Even As We Speak.

They came over to the UK in the early 90s from Australia, their music got played a lot by John Peel, and they toured the country to almost empty halls.

The night they played the Jericho Tavern in Oxford there were fewer people in than I'd ever seen turn out there for a band before, but everyone in there adored them.

The crowd was thin enough that when Mary Wyer - their lead singer - asked who had heard their John Peel session earlier in the week, she was able to easily move among the audience picking out all of those (including me) who had raised a hand and physically drag us up on stage to do backing vocals on one of the songs.

I love their songs, I love Mary's voice, and if there was any justice in this world they would have been able to not only make as good a living as they wanted to at it, but been absolutely enormous.

This is their only album, "Feral Pop Frenzy", released on Sarah Records in 1993.

Apart from singles by the band, that label never released anything which comes close to it. Unlike "Trout Mask Replica", this record was put here to make people very, very happy without having to work especially hard - and it works unquestionably for me every time I hear it.

I bought it on LP and CD, but even with that blatant attempt at chart-rigging it still sank without trace and has been unavailable ever since. This is taken from the CD, at glorious 128.

Tracks are:
1. Beelzebub
2. Beautiful Day
3. Falling Down the Stairs
4. Zeppelins
5. Anybody Anyway
6. Love Is the Answer
7. To See You Smile
8. Straight as an Arrow
9. Squid
10. One Thing
11. Sailors' Graves
12. Spirit of Progress
13. Cripple Creek
14. Swimming Song
15. One Step Forward
16. Drown
17. O.G.T.T.

It's here

This is the cover, right click to save.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Five Songs About 5 and Three Versions of Happy Birthday

Totally Fuzzy is my very favourite web-site, and it's five years old this weekend. By way of tribute, I've put together a very short collection - five songs revolving around the number five, and three versions of Happy Birthday.

Elvis Presley - Happy Birthday
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (edited by the Wild Man to digestible length)
Manfred Mann - 5-4-3-2-1
Marilyn Monroe - Happy Birthday
Johnny Cash - Five Feet High and Rising
David Bowie - Five Years
The Ramones - Happy Birthday
The Ventures - Theme From Hawaii Five-0

Thanks, and happy birthday Fuzzy!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Royaume-Uni Douze Points!

Tonight I'm happy to share a collection which started as an exercise in testing the possibility of doing something which until the coming of the internet most certainly one would not have been able to do. I started it as little more than a joke, but ultimately works quite well as a compilation - having passed the keeping kids quiet on journeys test a couple of times.

It also brought back happy memories of sitting down as a child with my family each year to watch it, at an age when to see the scores coming in at the end of the show was almost unbearably exciting - when mathematics was a vague enough concept to still hold the possibility of yielding practically any result, without the disappointment of being able to understand that if France was 150 points ahead of the UK then the last jury to vote would not be able to snatch victory from inglorious defeat and Cliff, The Shadows or somebody like Lulu would rise triumphant.

Not that the UK ever was that far behind in those days. My generation were present at the most exciting and glorious time to be alive musically (just like every generation before or since, according to age).

It was, though, a time when, despite the charts being dominated by T Rex, The Sweet, David Bowie, et al, the BBC would always put forward one of the Radio 2 set again. Just how great would it have been to have seen Slade on there, or somebody that good, even once?

I have already mentioned in an earlier posting that my Father could not be described as a great music-lover, but each year he would join us for this family ritual. As he had brushed aside my request a year earlier to take me to see Wizzard playing just down the road with a simple one-word refusal, there was no point in asking if he would take me to Brighton - about thirty miles along the coast - to experience the Eurovision Song Contest in the flesh.

I can still remember that night, when ABBA arrived to take over the world. Even though as a surly teenager I grew to despise their music and everything I perceived that they represented, I loved "Waterloo", and now that once again I find I have almost no interest in being fashionable or down with the kids, hearing it brings a smile to my face and makes me want to jump around the room (as long as there's no-one looking, obviously).

I didn't mind 'Dinge-Dong', the next year's winner, but as puberty left me incapable of articulating anything recognisable to an adult as human speech I absolutely drew the line at the Brotherhood of Man, (something which I find stays with me to this day), and with the breaking of punk and my voice roughly simultaneously I lost interest in the contest until about 1989, when I accepted an invitation to a Eurovision party as a joke and have watched it most years since.

Our oldest one isn't much interested in music, but middle-sized one has watched recordings of it for the last two years, it won't be long before she's old enough to stay up for it if she wants to.

So it is, with the circle almost complete as another generation of our family prepares to take their comfy seat with a mug of something warming for the greatest show on earth, I am happy to present, in chronological order and at glorious 128kps, all winners of the Eurovision Song Contest from the first gathering in 1956 to Serbia's triumph in 2007.

It's split into four manageable sections, each ripped to an individual file, so if you only want ABBA, then part two's your beastie, but it would be a shame to miss out on 'Poupee de Cire Poupee de Son', 'Puppet on a String', or 'Boom Bang a Bang' from the first, the onslaught of the Irish Eurovision Machine as it runs rampant through volume 3, or the sheer absurd majesty of 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' from the fourth.

Tracks are:

Volume 1:
01 Refrain - Lys Assia ( Switzerland 1956 )
02 Net Als Toen - Corry Brokken ( Netherlands 1957 )
03 Dors Mon Amour - Andre Claveau ( France 1958 )
04 Een Beetje - Teddy Scholten ( Netherlands 1959 )
05 Tom Pillibi - Jacqueline Boyer ( France 1960 )
06 Nous Les Amoureux - Jean-Claude Pascal ( Luxembourg 1961 )
07 Un Premier Amour - Isabelle Aubret ( France 1962 )
08 Dansevise - Grethe & Jorgen Ingmann ( Denmark 1963 )
09 No Ho L'Eta - Gigliola Cinquetti ( Italy 1964 )
10 Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son - France Gall ( Luxembourg 1965 )
11 Merci Cherie - Udo Jurgens ( Austria 1966 )
12 Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw ( United Kingdom 1967 )
13 La La La - Massiel ( Spain 1968 )
14 Un Jour, Un Enfant - Frida Boccara ( France 1969 )
15 De Troubadour - Lennie Kuhr ( Netherlands 1969 )
16 Boom Bang-A-Bang - Lulu ( United Kingdom 1969 )
17 Vivo Cantando - Salome ( Spain 1969 )

Volume 2:
01 All Kinds Of Everything - Dana ( Ireland 1970 )
02 Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue - Severine ( Monaco 1971 )
03 Apres Toi - Vicky Leandros ( Luxembourg 1972 )
04 Tu Te Reconnaitras - Anne-Marie David ( Luxembourg 1973 )
05 Waterloo - ABBA ( Sweden 1974 )
06 Ding Dinge Dong - Teach-in ( Netherlands 1975 )
07 Save Your Kisses For Me - Brotherhood of Man ( United Kingdom 1976 )
08 L'Oiseau Et L'Enfant - Marie Myriam ( France 1977 )
09 A Ba Ni Bi - Yizhar Cohen & Alphabeta ( Israel 1978 )
10 Hallelujah - Milk & Honey ( Israel 1979 )
11 What's Another Year - Johnny Logan ( Ireland 1980 )
12 Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz ( United Kingdom 1981 )
13 Ein Bisschen Frieden - Nicole ( Germany 1982 )
14 Si La Vie Est Cadeau - Corinne Hermes ( Luxembourg 1983 )
15 Diggi Loo-Diggi Ley - Herreys ( Sweden 1984 )

Volume 3:
01 La Det Swinge - Bobbysocks ( Norway 1985 )
02 J'Aime La Vie - Sandra Kim ( Belgium 1986 )
03 Hold Me Now - Johnny Logan ( Ireland 1987 )
04 Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi - Celine Dion ( Switzerland 1988 )
05 Rock Me - Riva ( Yugoslavia 1989 )
06 Insieme:1992 - Toto Cutugno ( Italy 1990 )
07 Fangad Av En Stormvind - Carola ( Sweden 1991 )
08 Why Me? - Linda Martin ( Ireland 1992 )
09 In Your Eyes - Niamh Kavanagh ( Ireland 1993 )
10 Rock 'N Roll Kids - Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan ( Ireland 1994 )
11 Nocturne - Secret Garden ( Norway 1995 )
12 The Voice - Eimear Quinn ( Ireland 1996 )
13 Love shine a light - Katrina and the Waves ( United Kingdom 1997 )

Volume 4:
01 Diva - Dana International ( Israel 1998 )
02 Take me to your heaven - Charlotte Nilsson ( Sweden 1999 )
03 Fly on the Wings of Love - Olsen Brothers ( Denmark 2000 )
04 Everybody - Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL ( Estonia 2001 )
05 I Wanna - Marie N (Marija Naumova) ( Latvia 2002 )
06 Everyway that I can - Sertab Erener ( Turkey 2003 )
07 Wild Dances - Ruslana ( Ukraine 2004 )
08 My Number One - Helena Paparizou ( Greece 2005 )
09 Hard Rock Hallelujah - Lordi ( Finland 2006 )
10 Molitva - Marija Serifovic ( Serbia 2007 )

Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Pssst - fancy some chutney? PLUS keeping kidz kwiet in kars part 2

We were watching the weather forecast on ITV the other night and I was impressed that the young lady presenting it managed to use the word 'lovely' to describe what we were in for over these last few days no fewer than ten times.

I observed at the time that 'lovely' is a subjective term used to express a matter of opinion rather than an objective description of climatology, but even an obstinately grumpy soul like me would be hard pressed to deny that it's been another fantastic weekend weather-wise.

I dragged the family around a boot sale this morning, which to my delight yielded a huge bag of cooking apples which means that I'll be busy making apple and red pepper chutney for the next few days.

I've been vegetarian for more than quarter of a century, vegan for quite a lot of that time as well, gave up smoking before the kids were born, and stopped drinking alcohol a few years ago, so have almost run out of vices - but I do get twitchy when we have nothing in the kitchen capable of giving a very strong stilton a run for its money in a big fat crusty sandwich.

Last year there seemed to be few cooking apples to be had - we couldn't even get them from the market (they bruise easily apparently and the traders end up having to throw loads of them away). We recently ran out of what I made the year before last and have been reduced to buying shop-bought chutney, which just doesn't seem a satisfactory way of doing things at all.

This week I thought I'd share my favourite chutney recipe for any of you who happen to have a garden full of windfalls (or know someone else who has) and a couple of hours to do something with them.

I'm also offering for your listening pleasure the second of the kids' compilations referred to in my first post a few weeks back, which would make ideal listening while you're wumping up some of that good wholesome chutney in the kitchen!

Regarding the recipe, I've not found the quantities and measurements to be particularly critical, and it's quite forgiving of any liberties you take with it - rather more so than the Christmas cake I made one year when I realised after it had been cooking for an hour that I'd missed the sugar out and then took it out of the oven to attempt to stir it in, hoping that no-one would notice.

When we came to try to eat it we were unable to cut the thing, and I struggled to do much more than prise lumps out of it using large screwdrivers. Even the birds were unable to make much impression on it when we hung it outside for them to graze on over the winter.

One of my first attempts at baking involved making a coffee cake, and because I had no coffee extract as called for by the recipe I substituted half of a small jar of coffee granules - with startling results, but few takers for a second slice.

Anyway, this is a recipe that even I struggle to mess up. I'm posting it more or less as it's written down in the book. Adaptations and observations I've made to improve it along the way are in brackets. I normally make double quantities, but you need a huge great pan for that.

Red Pepper and Apple Chutney

2kg (4lb) apples
500g (1lb) red peppers
750g (1.5lb) onions
1.5 cups raisins [I find that just about any dried fruit does the trick]
2/3rds cup sultanas [ditto]
2/3rds cup currants [ditto]
2.5 cups brown sugar [I've used white, it turns out a bit pale but works as well]
1 tablespoon black treacle [or molasses, or Golden Syrup, or just about anything thick, gooey and edible]

2.5 cups (625ml) vinegar [NOTE - This is where I fall out with this recipe. I use spiced pickling vinegar and find that HALF this amount is ample, otherwise the result is just incredibly runny! Using spiced pickling vinegar also means you don't have to add the spices, which makes it even easier. Best way I've found is to start with half of the given amount and stir a bit more in when it starts looking a bit dry.]
1 tablespoon coarse salt [I use table salt, and cheap stuff at that]
[If you're not using spiced vinegar, you'll also need]
pinch cayenne
cinnamon stick
mustard seeds

[I usually put in up to one chilli pepper depending on what's to hand and how brave I'm feeling when I make it - it gives it a real kick, but it depends of course on how much of a kick you'd like it to have].

1. Peel and core the apples and chop finely.
2. Seed and chop the peppers with the onions, raisins and sultanas.
3. Put [about half - see my note above] the vinegar in the saucepan and throw in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Simmer for one hour, stirring frequently. [IMPORTANT - you really don't want it to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, I did it once and even though it was edible we could have done without the lumps of charcoal floating around in it!]
5. Pour into sterilised jars and put a few of the remaining spices [if you've used them, see note about spiced vinegar above].
6. Put lids on jars.
7. Allow to cool.
8. Eat.

As long as the jars and lids are sterilised and airtight it'll keep a long, long time - we have eaten it after a couple of years and it tasted even better than the day it was bottled.

And now, here is the second of my compilations to keep kids quiet on car journeys. The first one, if you missed it and would like to check it out, is here.

Tracks are:

01 Frank Sidebottom - We Will Rock You
02 Bonzo Dog Band - Hunting Tigers Out In Indiah
03 Melanie - Brand New Key
04 Betty Hutton & Howard Keel - Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better
05 Allan Sherman - Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
06 Johnny and the Hurricanes - Rocking Goose
07 The Muppets - Mahna Mahna
08 Pat Boone - Speedy Gonzales
09 Henry Hall - Teddy Bears' Picnic
10 The Avons - Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat
11 Peter, Paul and Mary - Puff The Magic Dragon
12 Mel Blanc - I Taut I Taw A Puddy-Tat
13 Rolf Harris - In the Court of King Caractacus
14 The Pipkins - Gimme Dat Ding
15 Doris Day - How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?
16 The Wombles - Remember You're a Womble
17 The Goons - I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas
18 Pinky and Perky - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
19 The Scaffold - Lily The Pink
20 Tony Christie - Is This The Way To Amarillo
21 The Wurzels - I've Got a Brand New Combine Harvester

Download it here

Happy pickling, enjoy the sounds, have a nice week, and thanks for dropping by. If you'd care to leave a comment to let me know that you've been it would be lovely to hear from you.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Badgers, badgers everywhere, and a water-butt full of rainwater to drink...

It's been a gloriously sunny weekend here in the bit of England where the Home Counties meet the Midlands and the Midlands meet East Anglia and no-one seems quite sure what to call it.

At the risk of sounding a bit early morning on Radio 4, there usually seems to be one last burst of summer to encourage folk out into the great outdoors as if to make us notice that the blackberries which were large and juicy last time it stopped raining long enough to stop and notice are now shrivelled and crunchy, and the leaves are beginning to lose their green.

Judging by the big grins on the faces of almost everyone I've met this weekend, we've all been relieved to feel the sun on what little we're prepared to expose of our limbs at this time of year - not least because it's been such a horrible summer.

I would be amazed if records demonstrated that we've had more than about a dozen days without rain since the start of June, and much of it torrential.

We went camping in Cornwall for the first week of August, and it rained and rained and rained and rained. I ran into a friend yesterday who had been there for the best part of three weeks during the school summer holidays, and by the sound of it we got off fairly lightly.

Cornwall is beautiful at any time of year, but it can be hard in a tent with three kids for nine nights when not one of those evenings was dry enough to sit outside.

Our local paper carries the headline "Park's play area becomes a bog", and spends the whole front page grumbling that the playground gets muddy when it rains. I suppose that it saves them from going out and doing hard investigative work, such as checking on the toilet habits of bears in the woods or the religious inclinations of the Papacy.

Particularly in the light of the state of our campsite on the day we left, or indeed many Glastonbury Festivals I've had the good fortune to attend, the small puddle they worked hard to locate and photograph failed to convince me that civilisation is about to end, even if the weather since April last year has often felt as though the sky was indeed falling.

Largest and smallest have been having fun racing around the garden and our local park, which is not at all flooded - or even muddy - today, and middle-sized one has gone out for the day.

She recently joined the local St John's Ambulance's Badgers Troop, which for the unitiated (as we were until recently) is like Brownies, only with bandages instead of baking. She wanted to go to Brownies, but agreed to try Badgers as she seems to be moving no nearer the top of the waiting list of the one which her friends go to.

She absolutely loves it.

It's their 21st birthday this weekend, and Badgers from all over have gone to Legoland to celebrate.

Coincidentally, at work we have a (toy) badger and whichever of us has been particularly good that week - generally for suggesting a fairly trivial idea which rarely gets acted on or for mending something which had been mildly irritating for a while - is awarded the title 'Badger of the Week' and gets to take Badger home for the weekend and out on jaunts.

Because we sort badger out amicably between ourselves with no input from management, it's fun rather than some ghastly team-building/incenti-incentiviz-incentivis-corporate bribe, which is a good thing.

He/she/it was awarded to me this week, although no one seemed to know why, and thus it was that Badger became the Troop mascot for the day and has hopefully had a lovely time.

I've never been to Legoland. Like Alton Towers it just doesn't quite appeal enough to go all that way for. I'm sure that I'll be put right about that when I collect her this evening, and hope that I can keep her awake for long enough to run tonight's compilation past her for approval.

And on that note, to celebrate the anniversary of the Badgers, the lovely weather, and indeed the equinox today - but not the breakdown of the Large Hadron Collider(!) - I've put together 21 songs about sunshine, which I hope you will enjoy.

Tracks are:

01 Incredible String Band - Sleepers Awaken!
02 Rolf Harris - Sun Arise
03 The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun
04 Daniel Boone - Beautiful Sunday
05 Status Quo - Ice in the Sun
06 Even As We Speak - Beautiful Day
07 Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now
08 Donovan - The Sun is a Very Magic Fellow
09 Jimmie Davis - You Are My Sunshine
10 Katrina and the Waves - Walking On Sunshine
11 The Ramones - California Sun
12 Joseph Arthur - In The Sun
13 Bill Withers - Lovely Day
14 The Proclaimers - Sunshine on Leith
15 The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
16 Spooky Tooth - Sunshine Help Me
17 Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun
18 The Supremes - Automatically Sunshine
19 Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
20 Tiger - Shining in the Woods
21 The Carter Family - Keep on the Sunny Side

The Sun Machine is Comin' Down and We're Gonna Have a Party!

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to leave a comment as you pass by.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Why does the sun shine?

It looks like summer has arrived in the midlands at last, with the promise of sunshine for the weekend as well! Truly Mother Nature is spoiling us this year.

At the start of the week I was full of confidence that I would find hundreds of songs for adults which kids would like, or songs for kids which parents can smile at as well, on a science theme - but to my surprise they appear to be alarmingly thin on the ground.

I found a few though, which I hope you'll enjoy.

I know Bill Haley and the Comets is a bit tenuous, but (a) I'm going to pretend that it has geological connotations, and (b) it always cheers me up to hear it. My mum owned a copy of it and we kids played it until you could see daylight between the grooves.

Anyhow, it's shorter than I'd hoped, but I think it's a fun listen and I hope you enjoy it as well!

It passed the Tiddler Test I perform with the two smaller children (forcing them to listen to everything before I post it) and the one who has learned to speak said that they should all be kept in. The smallest clapped after every song and jigged around to the bouncier ones. So here goes...

Tracks are:

1. Dem Bones - The Delta Rhythm Boys
2. The Great Atomic Power - The Louvin Brothers
3. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley and the Comets
4. The Elements - Tom Lehrer
5. Telstar - The Tornados
6. Fire - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
7. Alexander Graham Bell - The Sweet
8. NaCl - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
9. Bunsen Burner - John Otway
10. Why Does the Sun Shine? - They Might Be Giants

The last track is a cover of one of the songs on the science box set I posted last weekend - and middle-sized-one's favourite of the set.

Let the Sun Shine!

For those of a less nervous disposition, here's William Shatner performing Elton John's 'Rocket Man'.

I'll be back on Sunday evening, thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, 15 September 2008

So long... Richard Wright

Have just heard the news that Rick Wright of Pink Floyd has died.

My father, who never liked music much but preferred to listen to a box set of the Flying Scotsman's historic journey from London to Glasgow - which at least meant that he was untroubled by other members of the family for several hours on a sunday morning - amazed us all by declaring that he had hugely enjoyed 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' when played it by an Italian student staying with us to whom he had taken a particular shine, declaring that Pink Floyd were to be admired because they he had been assured by said student that they could play their instruments live.

As this was at the height of punk, and I was a fifteen-year-old boy railing against whatever society deemed precious, and prog-rock in particular, it took me a while to appreciate just what a great, great band they were - and have remained.

I heard the news while downloading a BBC recording from the early 1970s posted at MP3@3PM. Rick Wright's songs are also represented on the original singles, which can be found all over the place, including here, which also happens to have loads of other great stuff as well.

I was lucky enough to get tickets in the draw for Live 8. Pink Floyd were the only reason I wanted to go, and because it ran so late I only saw "Breathe" and "Money". Just to be there as the heartbeat introduction to the first song started up made standing through Sting, UB4o and Maria Carey worthwhile.

Thanks Rick, from an old punk rocker who eventually saw the light.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider - All Aboard the Hamster Run of the Gods

Our largest kept the middle-sized one awake for hours on tuesday night by whispering "Hey, the world is going to end tomorrow!" often enough to disturb her pleasant thoughts of fairies and Disney Princesses and set her worrying about if she would miss Christmas this year or ever see her friends again.

In the days prior to this, most TV and radio stations had summoned a tame scientist, preferably one who didn't look too scary, to explain that there was a more than 99.99% probability that the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider at Cern would not create a black hole capable of swallowing up the Earth.

The more mathematically astute among the ten-year-olds boys at their school thereby calculated that there was anything between a one in five possibility and an absolute one-hundred per cent certainty that they would get to see the coolest fireworks display in the entire universe if not every galaxy in the solar system before lunchtime.

I listened to the grand switching on in the car on the way to work, but have resisted looking for a picture of it - I would prefer to imagine it as some outlandish Heath Robinson contraption crossed with Mad Max 2. On the radio, the control room was described as looking like any normal office, which was hugely disappointing. I am sure that if you were listening you would have been as cheered as I was when Professor Lyn Evans muttered about it failing to work on its first attempt because someone had forgotten to pull a stopper out.

If you have ever kept guinea pigs, you may have noticed that if presented with a length of drainpipe to run through they will run gleefully along inside until - before long - the leading hog will inevitably stop and turn around while all of the others are following up behind, which leads to all sorts of squeaking from the tube and much amusement among watching humans. If that isn't the inspiration for this experiment then it jolly well ought to be.

Except, of course, that a clutch of small and not very intelligent rodents getting themselves in a muddle probably isn't quite as dangerous as scientists colliding atoms with a view to creating black holes, although it's not hard to imagine the fun which any radicalized wing of guinea pig fanciers could have if it were.

Anyway, as I've not been able to find my copy of the compilation I was intending to post this week I'm striking while the iron's hot and declaring it ~ SCIENCE WEEK ~ and posting six - yes SIX - fantastic science albums for kids.

Again, my brood have had great fun listening to these, and I am hugely indebted to Jef Poskanzer for posting these in the first place. The songs are all posted individually here, along with scans of the covers. If you'd rather get them all in one go - and save this splendid gentleman some bandwidth - I've put albums 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6 into RAR files. The links are beneath the track listings. You don't need all three parts at once for it to work - although if you download one you will almost certainly be back for the rest!

Tracks are:

Space Songs

Zoom A Little Zoom
What Is The Milky Way
Constellation Jig
Beep, Beep
Why Does The Sun Shine
What Is A Shooting Star
Longitude And Latitude
It's A Scientific Fact
Ballad Of Sir Isaac Newton
Why Are Stars Of Different Colors
Why Do Stars Twinkle
What Is Gravity
Planet Minuet
Why Go Up There

Energy & Motion Songs

What Is Energy (part 1)
Grand Coulee Dam
Solar Energy
Energy In Roundabout Ways
What Is Energy (part 2)
Kinetic And Potential Energy
Ultra Violet And Infra Red
What Is Chemical Energy
How Do We Measure Energy
Motion, Motion Everywhere
Thumbnail Sketch Of Atomic Energy

Download Part One

Experiment Songs

It's A Magnet
We Know The Air Is There
We're Making Heat
Ice Is A Solid
Why Do I Have A Shadow
Rocks And Gems And Minerals
The Earth Goes Around The Sun
Why Is It Raining Raindrops
Where Does The Sun Go At Night
What's Inside Our Earth
Where Does The Sun Rise
How Many Colors Are In The Rainbow
Who's Afraid Of Thunder
It's A Magnet, reprise

Weather Songs

What Makes The Weather
Where Is The Stratosphere
The Water Cycle Song
Why Does The Wind Blow
How Clouds Are Formed
Warm Fronts, Cold Fronts
What Is Humidity
The Hurricane Song
Why Is It Hot In The Summer
Highs And Lows
What Makes The Lightning
Stratus And Cumulus
Snowflake, Snowflake
What Does The Glass Of A Greenhouse Do
What Is Climate
What Makes The Weather, reprise

Download Part Two

Nature Songs

Introduction To Nature Study
Why Do Leaves Change Their Color
What Are The Parts Of A Tree
What Is An Insect
What Is A Mammal
How Do The Fish Swim
Song Of The Rocks
The Birds Have A Language
How Does A Bird Sing
What Does A Bird Have That I Have Not
How Silk Is Made
What's In The Ocean
How Do The Seeds Of Plants Travel
The Balance Of Nature

More Nature Songs

How Does A Frog Become A Frog
What Is An Animal
Bobo The Bear
Song Of The Fossils
How Does A Cow Make Milk
The Conservation Song
Why Is The Sky Blue
What Makes A Rainbow
Let's Wander Thru The Seasons
Why Does A Bee Bzzz
What Are The Parts Of A Flower
The Face Of The Earth Is Changing

Download Part Three

I'm hoping to be able to put together another compilation of bonkers kids songs - on a science theme - to post towards the end of the week. I have enlisted the help of middle-sized one to quality control all music posted here for me, so at least until she discovers music which isn't like the stuff I enjoy and on which I can't make out the words it will all be guaranteed child-friendly. If you have any ideas for songs which might be included please post a comment - indeed, please feel free to post a comment anyway.

Thanks very much to the two hundred plus people who visited my blog in its first week, and I hope you'll stop by again!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

If you don't stop hitting each other you'll get out and walk...

About three years ago I was stuck in traffic on the way back from the National Space Centre in Leicester with two small-ish children in the car who had enjoyed a very exciting day and were now entertaining themselves - as 8 year old brothers and 4 year old sisters tend to - by poking and tickling each other until the driver threatens to put them out on the hard shoulder of the motorway and let them make their own way home.

Even at that age, of course, they knew that that wasn't going to happen, so drastic measures were called for. Dad tuned in to Radio 2 (the BBC's easy listening station) and mere moments later discovered the power of "The Laughing Gnome" by David Bowie.

Inspired by this, and aiming to replicate those happy couple of minutes, I cast my mind back to being forced to listen to Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart's 'Junior Choice', and trying to pull out memories of the songs I heard which I could remember enjoying, and over a couple of months added in the sort of music that I had discovered as an adult which I would have loved to have stumbled across in childhood.

This is the first of the compilations I made. It's kept our kids quiet for a few seconds shy of 51 minutes on long journeys, and other parents I've shared it with have attested to it doing the same for theirs.

The tracks are:
1. David Bowie - The Laughing Gnome
2. Bonzo Dog Band - Mr Slater's Parrot
3. Ken Dodd - We Are The Diddymen
4. Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers - The Monster Mash
5. Sheb Woolley - Purple People Eater
6. Benny Hill - Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)
7. The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird
8. The Goons - The Ying Tong Song
9. The Goodies - The Funky Gibbon
10. Spike Jones and His City Slickers - Cocktails For Two
11. Charles Penrose - The Laughing Policeman
12. New Christy Minstrels - Three Wheels on My Wagon
13. Rolf Harris - Jake The Peg
14. Tiny Tim - Tiptoe Thru' The Tulips
15. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - I'm A Little Dinosaur
16. Flanders and Swann - The Hippopotamus Song (Mud)
17. Gayla Peevey - I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas
18. Alvin and the Chipmunks - Christmas Don't Be Late
19. Barking Dogs - Jingle Bells

The link is here - I hope that you enjoy it.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Welcome back my friends, to the show that hardly knows how to get itself started...

It would be both pompous, preposterous and presumptuous to sit here and claim that my aim with this little blog is to present an alternative history of music in the twentieth-century, so instead I'll say that I aim to have fun and if you'd like to join me occasionally that would be jolly splendid.

I've been inspired to start this blog by Totally Fuzzy and Dr Forrest's Cheeze Factory and about a hundred others, and decided tonight to take the plunge.

For the last two years at Christmas I've put together compilations of songs to keep children quiet on long car journeys - they've worked for our family and others, so I'll be putting those up as soon as I've worked out how one of these file hosting thingummyjigs work.

In the meantime, if you really want to keep your kids quiet on long journeys, you could do worse than investigating the inspiration for the name of my blog, "An Evening With Wild Man Fischer", which the wonderful Dr Forrest has posted here. I own a copy of this and have been known to play it to people I consider to be my friends, although I usually restrict myself to side two, "Larry's Songs Unaccompanied".

I've edited the start of the track 'Monkeys vs Donkeys' to be my ringtone, which may be why very few people call me.

Anyway, I, my daughter and my boss love this album. Alexis Korner used to play a track from it from time to time on his Sunday evening show on Radio One - which is where I first became aware of it - and John Peel once played it on air all the way through in its entirety.

Nighty night for now.