Friday, 24 July 2009

C'est Fab

I've only just discovered Fabienne Delsol. Why so great? It's not changed my life or anything but given that she's on the same label as Holly Golightly, and knocks out retro pop with a killer French accent in the manner of April March I'm surprised it's taken me so long. Oh and she's very attractive. It sometimes bothers me, even if I love the music, that so many singers (especially females) are so good looking. But, well...there's a waste of time for you. The music borders on retrophiliac but (again) so what?

Fabienne Delsol: Hanging on A String

A fairly straight cover of the ? and the Mysterians track. But miles better than the Mysterians because they are, when all's said and done, not very good.

Fabienne Delsol: My Love Is Like A Spaceship

Another cover, this time of a song by the mythical Big Boy Pete. The original can be heard on his myspace page. I'm currently weighing up whether or not to get some of his stuff.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Do the twist

I was talking to my brother the other day about Life on Mars. We'd both really enjoyed it but thought that it copped out at the ending. I felt short changed, probably because the series was so well done and it was such a good idea in the first place, it deserved a better ending. It didn't come up in the conversation but the same is true about The Prisoner, though in that case it's slightly more forgivable as I think I read that Patrick McGoohan was only given a few days notice to write the final episode. Even so you'd think he'd have been giving the matter some thought. The ending is less coherent than Life on Mars but there was an inevitability about him being Number One, so was it all about him trying to work out his motivation himself? Had he had a nervous breakdown?

With Life on Mars I started trying to think of good endings: on his return to the future Sam should have encountered some of his 1973 colleagues. Dozy Chris would have been a chief constable (because he was taking in all the advice you see) and er.. that's as far as I got with my brilliant ideas.

I realised that there was only one thing, in my opinion, that actually comes up with the goods ending-wise and that is Planet of the Apes. I can't think of any other film that so completely and so satisfyingly pulls the rug out from under you. And all the effects, sets and costumes are spot on as well. I suppose the revelation at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is a bit of a jolt and La jetee comes close but neither change the story in the same way as Charlton's walk along the beach.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Better than Betty Boo

Back in the day I bought a compilation album called "Hip Hop and Rappin' in the House". It was a bit rubbish really but tucked away among the chart fodder was one track that absolutely blew me away. It still does. Currently available on Soul Jazz's "Fly Girls!" compilation - it's better than all the other tracks on that as well.

Sweet Tee: I Got Da Feelin'

Saturday, 18 July 2009


When it all gets too much (any day now) the plan is to head for the hills. In Wales. And live in a house in the ground. And listen to the Incredible String Band. Years ago I was intrigued by a fleeting reference to them somewhere which just said that they were very different. I don't really know that much about them - I recently read White Bicycles. A good read but not massively detailed. The Incredible String Band feature and the basics are: they're Scottish, their girlfriends were a bit of a pain, they got into Scientology. I feel sorry for Scientologist celebrities - the amount of stick they get. Is it any more ridiculous than any other, bigger religion? Shadowy leader, ridiculed followers - it wouldn't surprise me if in a thousand years' time it's become the official Earth religion. Still, I admit it was a bit of a bummer to hear that Beck was a believer.

Anyway, shortly after my curiousity had been piqued I was rooting around in a cave-like bric a brac shop in Bowness (since closed) and I found a copy of "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter". Like a lot of folk music (at least the stuff I like) it's got a bit of a chilly sound but that doesn't stop it sending me off to a happier place. Maybe it's a childhood thing - all the music in Bagpuss is cold, cold folk. It's something in the production I think. I remember reading in his autobiography that Oliver Postgate would run off to Wales from time to time as well.

This track is actually from "The Big Huge" and is quite crackly (still working on the anti-donk and crackle software). More bands should have harps in their songs.

The Incredible String Band:The Circle Is Unbroken

Monday, 13 July 2009

Great noggins

I'm not a connoisseur of beers - I'm quite happy to drink mainstream brews, with probably my favourite being Stones, which I never see in London. But, I was in the Jerusalem Tavern a while back and ended up drinking one of their St Peter's beers (Honey Porter). I was impressed but also quite drunk. In the cold light of day, having tracked it down in the end to Waitrose, I found it wasn't quite as scrumptious as I'd thought. One consolation though was the bottle it came in, it's like something Time Team might dig up. I can't bring myself to recycle them.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Zen and the art of houseplant maintenance

Yesterday I had a bit of spare time so I decided to attend to my plants. It's something I'm not too consistent with so I really tried to make it up to them, especially the Umbrella plant in the bedroom. That got the full treatment: every leaf dusted, I raked up the soil, lots of lovely water, two caps of plant food and then a good spraying on the misty setting. Maybe it's a co-incidence but it seemed to clear up a headache I'd been suffering. Hmm.

I'm not no limburger

This has been one of my favourite albums for over twenty years. I can't think of another record like it (apart from the follow up "Wild Planet"). At first listen ("Rock Lobster" for me and most other people I imagine) they seem pretty silly. But it's a great tune that really shows off the vocal talents of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. The noises they make for all the different sea creatures that Fred Schneider reels off are awesome, "Here comes a narwhal" - "Urh Urh Eeee Uhh". It helps that narwhal is one of my favourite words, in fact they're one of my favourite animals - weird, scary looking things. As well as vocally Kate and Cindy are the visual focus of the group and they are by no stretch limburgers. Like latter day thrifty beatniks Pulp, the look was no doubt inspired by whatever they could get. The retro stylings and the fact that they had a number of songs about UFOs (only two on the debut though) makes me think of them whenever I watch "Third Rock from the Sun". They could be the house band.

Despite the lurid day-glo image a lot of the songs have a heavy undertow of alienation. "Dance This Mess Around" most obviously but "Hero Worship" and "Downtown" don't hold back on the misery and desperation. Musically it's very solid. The guitars chug and grind with some odd tuning over the top, which along with the keyboards give some of the songs their slightly unhinged sound.

I've got "Whammy" somewhere and of course I bought the single "Loveshack" but I really only rate the first two albums. I did buy "The Best of The B 52s" for "Wig" - which is a very silly song indeed, but superbly silly. Silly to the point of pop genius.

The B 52s: 52 Girls

The B 52s: Downtown

Friday, 3 July 2009

Ars brevis

Magpahi - great name, great songs. But only seven of them so far. I heard a snippet of this at Finders Keepers and had to have the whole song (that's the idea I suppose). I can't stop listening to it.

Magpahi: Seed

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Something changed

I only caught the last twenty odd minutes but I was disappointed by Jarvis Cocker's performance on tonight's Question Time. He should have romped home on the question of renationalizing the railways but was just a bit incoherent. He almost redeemed himself with his comments on Michael Jackson but blew it at the last minute, sealing his ultimate admiration for Jackson with the lame "Hey, he invented the Moonwalk!". The only interesting snippet I've heard from the acres of coverage is that Jackson actually took the move from some other guy.

Previously, in every single appearance, comment or interview over the last ten or more years I thought that he just got everything spot on. Oh well, they get old and they can't hack it anymore. I still think he deserves a statue outside Sheffield town hall though.