Y’know… for kids.

I read something very heart warming today. Without wishing to turn this into an Elbow-centric blog, I think that this should be pointed out. Elbow want to make an album of children’s music as they reckon there is very little decent music for kids. I, for one, applaud them.

This notion has been buzzing round my head for a few days and the thought was stoked, not least, by the discussion of childhood car songs over on the MamaShip (Ralph McTell and Nerys Hughes at the Alphabet Zoo for me…).

You see, I’ve reached a point in my life which I’m sure must come to us all. When we are in the car – indeed sometimes at home as well – Mini Frod now feels quite free to ask that we listen to ‘my songs’ at any and all times as opposed to, say, ‘daddy’s songs’. So this has meant a large recent exposure amongst the ‘Frods to a handful of those kind of kids CDs to which Elbow are reacting. And, by and large, they are absolutely right. It’s cack. Almost all of it.

And yet…

Every now and then one of the tunes seems to stand out. It’s been, well, produced. Properly and all that. Some of the songs are startling for the amount of balls they spout. Some are just a badly programmed Casio and a profoundly over-enthused voice. Some, terror of all terrors, actually involve groups of freakishly disinterested children singing.

But one of our CDs is worth it all for this tune, which I’d never heard before. Heavy heavy drums. Avant-garde lyrics. A neat shuffling synth and a damn fine tune. I give you, Peter Perkins.

31 Peter Perkins.mp3

So does anyone else have any experience of great/awful kids music? And would you have chosen Elbow to produce a kids album above, say, The Flaming Lips or Babyshambles? Or, indeed, Fuck Buttons?

Any thoughts?

Oh, just to remind you who Elbow are, here’s Snooks (Progress Report), whose name at least sounds like a bizarre nursery rhyme…

04 Snooks (progress report).mp3

Note the similar drums….

When I Say Wife…

You all know how much I love Jonathan Richman so naturally I’m not going to pass up this opportunity to give my hero a little bit more exposure.

Jonathan has been recording his wonderful music for well over 30 years now – the first Modern Lovers album was released in 1976 but most of the tracks had been recorded four or five years earlier – so it’s actually closer to 40 years. In that time, his songs have covered a huge variety of themes, ranging from homages to his his heroes (Vincent Van Gogh, Harpo Marx, Walter Johnson) to songs extolling the virtues of his favourite places (Give Paris One More Chance, New England, Bermuda, Nineteen In Naples): from children’s songs (Hey There Little Insect, I’m A Little Dinosaur, Ice Cream Man) to songs celebrating the joys of life (The Morning Of Our Lives, Fly Into The Mystery, That Summer Feeling). This is what makes it so easy to recommend Jonathan Richman over on the mothership – it’s relatively rare to have a theme which Jonathan hasn’t covered at some time or other (revenge was a recent exception).

But the theme that occurs most frequently in Jonathan’s work is that of domestic relationships – whether things are going well for him or not, it seems like there’s nothing Jojo likes more than to bare his soul and share his thoughts, troubles and joys with the world. So here’s just a small selection from the Jonathan Richman canon covering the whole gamut of relationships from start to finish. I’ve tried to be clever and create some sort of narrative which may or may not have worked…

Big Band Tuesday

I love the way Donald keeps sidetracking the band in this clip..

Kicked off by Ejaydee and Steenbeck’s discussion about Pete Rock, I looked up the sample he used for T.R.O.Y., which was a sixties recording by saxophonist Tom Scott.

Scott also played some very nice Saxello on a 7/4 version of “Freedom Jazz Dance” by the Don Ellis big band.
The second piece is “Ahunk Ahunk”, by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band, another innovative, late sixties-early seventies big band also sampled by Pete Rock.

player removed

Mogwai Vs. Fuck Buttons

As requested from me pals, here’s Mogwai’s remix of Fuck Buttons’ track “Colours Move”.
The two bands are touring together just now, and this is from the split record you can get at the gigs. The other track is a Fuck Buttons remix of “Mogwai Fear Satan”. 
I would like to add at this juncture, that I named one of my cats after Mogwai, and once saw them play to about 12 people “back in the day”. 
Unrelated quiz: anyone recognise the frame I took from a certain movie? 

Colours Move remixed by Mogwai for Fuck Buttons

If you like the mp3 – buy their stuff!! 

Postcards from tiny islands.

Afternoon all. Somewhere in the chat following FP’s historical playlist, I mentioned that I live near a natural phenomenon know as the Skelligs. I also promised, vaguely, that if I was to make it out to them before we move, then I would put up pictures for all to see.

Well that promise, friends, is about to be honoured.

Being as we move in a week, I have suddenly had to start carpe-diem-ing all over the place. The other day, for example, the weather was brilliant so I climbed the mountain that I have been meaning to climb for 18 months (a mountain with a Stations of the Cross on it, so I got me some credit there…). Then yesterday the weather was, incredibly, very fine once more so I phoned up the boat people and they said that yes, they were going to the Skelligs today. Result! Fine weather, you see, does not always equate to good sea, and landing at the rocks is not easy at all. Not at all…

Anyway, after a 45 minute boat trip we arrived at the two Skelligs – Little and Great – which form one of the most arresting and fascinating natural attractions I have ever seen. The little one is not habitable and is, essentially, a massive bird sanctuary. The big one – Skellig Michael – is habitable, just, and was settled by some crazy-ass monks if the 6th century. St Fionan is believed to have founded the monastery which was active right through Viking invasions and terrible seas up til the 15th century. The monastery was then finally disbanded, but the rock remained a pilgrimage site up until 1820.

In 1820 it was decided to use the rock for a lighthouse. Two were built on the island and were manned right up until 1986 when the computers finally took over. By that point the rock had become a UNESCO World Heritage site and is guarded by an army of archaeologists and historians who live there for two weeks at a time and, in good weather, welcome a limited number of tourists to the island each day.

It’s a 700-step, 230m climb top the top, but boy is it ever worth it. Let me just re-iterate that everything on these pictures is balanced on a tiny, jagged rock 16k out into the Atlantic. Madness.

And, as a treat, whilst you peruse my postcards from tiny islands, have a listen to this song from the excellent Walkmen’s new album You and Me. It’s called, somewhat appropriately, Postcards from Tiny Islands. Who knew?

06 postcards from tiny islands.mp3

Little Skellig. The world’s second largest Gannet colony. Yes. Those are birds. Thousands of them.

The view from Little Skellig toward Great Skellig, or Mick as we know him. The loomer.

The larger island is marked by various bits of precarious natural sculpture. This is the view back to bird-poo rock.

The mysterious ‘Frod enjoys the view toward the ancient cross, beehive huts, chapel, tombstones and little Skellig. You can just make out my beard.

The road back to the boat. Someone built that. Madness.

Oh and we totally got to see dolphins on the way back. That was a goood trip.

Finally, as a bonus, here’s The Blue Route, another brilliant track off the brilliant Walkmen’s brilliant album You and Me.

11 the blue route.mp3

A Guilty Pleasure

I was just listening to Johnny Walker on Radio 2 while making some onion bhajis for tonight’s curry and he played this.

I have to say that I love this song, even though it is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

It is a wonderful piece of pure pop, the structure is great and it has those aspirational but empty words that just work.

Oh yeah and it has a really ace, if far too short, guitar break, the kind of thing I’d love to play on stage in my dreams. I can just imagine stepping forward, stomping on the pedal and giving it some.

Grandma said. .you should have married Fred instead.

Pelle Carlberg
Jens Lekman
Buscemi vs. Koçani Orkestar
Euros Child
The Death Set
Our Way to fall is still the best together track.. thanks steenb… still can’t work RR.. not sulking , got IE, Chrome, firefox and Safari working on it.. but not at the same time as designing so sorry if it doubles up.


Sorry about this. The simple fact is that I regard you lot as my nearest equivalent to mates I’d meet down the pub and have drunken arguments with about music/literature/politics/philosophy/life/etc. Which means, I’m afraid, that occasionally you get the drunken maudlin ramblings instead…

Mrs Abahachi has gone to stay with her mother for the weekend. It’s okay, it’s all pre-arranged to visit family, check on health of elderly relatives and visit offspring at university en route, rather than any sort of dramatic storming out, but I can’t deny that it’s a bit of a relief this time. As I think I mentioned at some point, she’s in the process of setting up in business for the first time, dealing with bank managers, local planning authorities, unhelpful delivery companies and the like, and is finding it all incredibly stressful. My function in all of this appears to be a convenient person to shout or cry at, with occasional writing of cheques.

But I didn’t come here to moan about my wife. Much. On the contrary, a bit of reflection, a couple of beers and some of last year’s sloe gin seem to be leading me to a re-run of the end of When Harry Met Sally, a film I had successfully avoided before marriage and can now count on seeing at least twice a year. I love the way she watches the same few films again and again but skips all the bits she doesn’t like, even though it also drives me up the wall (yes, I do indeed find myself trying to defend Richard Curtis’ artistic vision). I love the way that, whenever we drive into a town, she makes sure all the car doors are locked, just in case we’re ambushed by a bunch of feral urban teenagers. I love the way that she somehow persuades all four cats that they want to sleep on my side of the bed every night.

Inspired by Darcey’s Dad’s post earlier, I’ve been thinking about what our playlist might look like; similar issues as regards only loosely compatible musical tastes. I have continuing problems on the IT front, so can’t post any music at the moment…

Captain and Tenille Love Will Keep Us Together. And not just because gremlinthingummy would hate it… Her era rather than mine – yup, I’m a toyboy – and a truly glorious bit of throwaway pop.

kd lang Constant Craving. Nothing to do with the lyrics, just the only album I owned when we first got together that she could bear to listen to.

Suzanne Vega Undertow. And this was one of hers, a gem amidst the Barbara Dixon. To be honest I’m not sure she’s listened to the words very closely.

The Rembrandts I’ll Be There For You. We first met when Friends was just arriving in the UK, and, annoying though this undoubtedly became, I would still maintain that it’s a good, cheery song with a nice sentiment. And it was on the first mix tape I produced for her – otherwise an unmitigated disaster…

La Belle Epoque Black Is Black. One of her favourites, and I’ll happily go for this sort of classy disco.

Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive. My disco number, largely for some specific connotations relating to an amateur production of a version of Sophocles’ Ajax. One of my finest hours, I think; I may relate the anecdote some time. Alas, poor Ajax. For I have lost all my vim…

Joe Jackson It’s Different For Girls. Another one for her; the woman has some taste, I’ll grant you.

Buzzcocks Ever Fallen In Love…. Actually I might not be allowed this one; for me it sums up everything about the way we got together, but it went down like a lead balloon on the mix tape. Though not quite as badly as Me and Mrs Jones.

Shania Twain That Don’t Impress Me Much. Yes, it really should be one of the soppy ones like You’re Still The One, but this is so much more fun, and has the added bonus of annoying my stepson in an entertaining manner. Don’t get me wrong, we have a really good relationship (these days, anyway), but it is rather hilarious the way he takes this song utterly personally. Ditto No Scrubs.

Charles Mingus Celia. Because I am going to insist on having at least one jazz track, and the more I listen to this the more it seems like a brilliant portrait of a marriage and of marriage in general: ups, downs, fast bits, slow bits, harmonies and dischords…

Okay, if someone will buy me another drink I’ll shut up now.

Relationship contemplations (pt 1)

Whilst sitting in my metaphorical single bed in the guest room, wondering if I’m ever going back to the marital double in the master suite, I started to put together my list of nominations. But then I stopped …
One of the strangely liberating things about my self-imposed exile from RR is a feeling of release from any subject parameters our guru imposes. This became apparent when I looked for this week’s DBT song. My initial thought was that given we’ve had My Sweet Annette, it has to be Marry Me as the one sitting squarely inside the subject boundaries. But then I realised that – as of now – there ARE NO subject boundaries! Wherever my train of thought goes, or whatever the topic title triggers in my mental fave song jukebox, I can simply go for it. Consequently Marry Me gets dumped, and the wonderfully heart-warming 18 Wheels Of Love roll in instead.
Update/Edit – It’s Sunday night, and I’ve FINALLY got most of the mp3 files attached to the titles, and given ToffeeBoy’s comment about Blue Nile, I’ve added Family Life to the list:
In the “I’m gonna marry you” slot:
On the “I’m the luckiest man alive” cloud:
In the “Why do I stay?” rut:

On the edge of the abyss:

Sinead O’Connor – The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance

Saying “I told you so” unconvincingly from the sadsack corner of the bar is:
Grabbing the second chance of happiness are:
Battling through difficult circumstances is:
Ignoring the withering looks from former fairweather friends:

Living happily ever after are:

And realising that there is no “forever” is:

Natalie Merchant – My Beloved Wife

Sorry if this is all a bit schmaltzy, but as a very happily-married man whose wife has a much more MOR musical taste than mine, I suppose this is an inevitable consequence of the topic.
I’m now FAR too knackered to correct the errors in this post, let alone think of any more songs.

Trouble at t’mill

C’est le maître du moulin qui marie sa fille.
Il la marie à un vieillard plaisant,
Hélas, la pauvre fille n’a encore que 15 ans.

Quand ce fut le matin jour, elle s’en va chez son père,
Hélas mon père, vous avez bien grand tort,
De me donner un mari, la nuit le jour il dort.

Pardonne ma fille, pardonne, pardonne à la vieillesse,
Il a beaucoup d’argent, tu seras sa maîtresse,
Hélas mon père, au diable son argent,
Moi j’aimerais mieux un homme à mon contentement.

1 La Malmariee, by the Cock and Bull Band. “This miller, he married his daughter off to a ridiculous old man. Pity the poor girl – she’s only 15 years old. Well, the day after, she comes back to see her dad. “You know what, Dad?” she says. “You’ve only given me a husband who SLEPT all night long. What’s that about?” “Oh, sorry about the old bloke, my daughter. He’s got loads of money and you’ll have the spending of it!” “That’s not good enough, dad – to hell with the money, I’d rather have a chap who’ll satisfy me, know what I mean?”
2 The Trees They Do Grow High, by Martin Carthy. Opposite thing! (Though the young husband does know what to do with it, apparently.)
3 I Always Cry at Weddings, by the In and Outlaws. Total cheat. This is my son’s band, and he wrote the song.
4 Madonna’s Wedding, by Richard Thompson. Bit of a stretch with some of those rhymes, RT.

La Malmariee, plus a couple of tunes
The Trees They Do Grow High
I Always Cry at Weddings
Madonna’s Wedding

Marriage Songs

Mos Def–U R The One
CYHSY__Emily Jean Stock
Bob Willis & HTPB–Take me Back To Tulsa
The Carter Family–Single Girl Married Girl
Talib Kweli–Joy
Talib Kweli–Tallk to You
Pete Rock and CL Smooth–Lot’s of Lovin
The Specials–Stupid Marriage
Citizen Cope–Son’s Gonna Rise
Jackie Mittoo–Rock Steady Wedding
Cee Lo Green–All Day Love Affair
Jean Redpath–College Boy
Our Way to Fall

Bands that never let you down

This was alluded to in the “Worst Albums” thread.

Are there any bands/artists that you like that which you can always rely on to release albums you like or have never left you feeling disappointed by what you have bought?

I can only think of one;

King Crimson – I like everything they do, yes, I have favourites but I don’t own anything by them that I actively dislike.

‘Spill Monster in progress

I’ve destroyed some vinyl and some tapes and some cds.. this is the start of a ‘spill monster.. I begin things on a thursday night while catching up on music. RR keeps me going while I try to avoid all the addiction I used to have… faffing .. that’s what it’s called.

Did we get ‘No Children’ before
Good theme this week… can’t play, as I can’t work at the same time.
Songs from the films ‘Black Cat/white Cat’ or ‘Underground’ fit.
Monster is just waving goodbye, must try harder.

Au Revoir À RR … *sniff*

DsD waits for the Revenge Songs RR to refresh …


I need to explain.

In spite of not posting much, I DID actually keep reading the GU Music blog last week.

Amongst several fighting much harder at the front line than me – Chris7572 deserves a medal; I bloody well will seek out webcorewebcore IRL and buy that man a drink; and Fuel & Cauliflower nailed the issues in a couple of comments.

But …

I’ve spent the last couple of years using RR as a refuge; an oasis of calm if you like. Regardless of how bad my day may have been, the good humour and stellar journey of music discovery has ALWAYS left me feeling better.

Until last week.

I cannot tell you how irrationally stressful it has been trying to load / wait / expand / wait / squint / scroll / wait while my scroller decides whether it is playing or not / deal with the delayed response to typing / crash&burn trying to deal with youtube on the side / rescue my cursor from wherever CtrlF has chucked it, etc etc etc .

Well I’m sorry, but ENOUGH!

As Captain Oates famously said: “I am just going outside and may be some time”. Unlike Cpt.O I have a destination refuge in mind – I’m staying here, friends, but I am ABSOLUTELY NOT going back to RR until the tech issues are fixed. I appreciate there are elements of the GU team trying to help, and yes we were told it may take some weeks to iron out the kinks, so I am not burning any bridges … yet. They fix it, I’m back happy. They don’t fix it, I stay gone.

In spite of your kind words (Ed & Claire in particular), the truth is no-one is going to be worse off for my absence. Now if RockingMitch stays gone, THAT’S a loss.

I’ll contribute to the nominations, but on The ‘Spill. If any of you like what you hear, by all means take ‘em with you when you dive into the cyber-quicksand over yonder.

At least it means I can go to bed before 2am on a Friday morning !




RIP Norman Whitfield

I just heard this morning about the death of Norman Whitfield, the songwriter and producer, at the age of 68, so I had to mark the occasion by posting a quick tribute. I offer only a grab-bag of his production milestones here because you could lose the next day or two very easily exploring his work in soul and jazz-funk music.

An appreciation of Norman Whitfield needs first and foremost to pay respect to Barrett Strong, his writing partner and lyricist. And you have to place the Whitfield-Strong partnership in the context of the in-house machine at Motown – Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ashford and Simpson, Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua…alongside such powerhouses, with the extraordinary Funk Brothers house band, and with groups like The Velvelettes to service with killer tunes, you’re going to produce glorious soul music almost by default.

Norman Whitfield took things beyond even the collective Hitsville imagination and I’d place him in a triumvirate of visionaries, with Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield, who, in the mid-1960s, identified a role for soul music – the sound of the streets, the music of the masses, the soundtrack for lovers and dancers – as an explicit platform for social comment, resistance and agitation. Whitfield’s weapon of choice was The Temptations – tracks 2 and 3 below. It’s well-documented that The Tempts themselves weren’t wholly committed to the political, psychedelic soul sound their new boss lumbered them with for the Puzzle People album and they’d insist on sticking to the love songs for live shows. Very possibly. But this paints them as bimbos and Whitfield as a dictatorial agit-prop merchant. I wasn’t there but I can’t imagine that any Black man in America at the time could have sung a track like Message… and not feel it to his core; and Whitfield’s work on the group’s whole sound transformed what could just be a plaintive lover’s lament like Ain’t Too Proud To Beg into a fierce, defiant anthem for a people on the move.
Whitfield-era Temptations is one of my absolute, unparalleled loves in music, and has to be seen as his greatest work. It wasn’t a scenario in which he was in total creative control, though, and he recruited The Undisputed Truth to carry out his vision in the studio and in live shows. Not just dour social documentaries, though – this selection shows that feelgood soul had never left the agenda.
Last track offers another dimension – you know how you can be knocked out Scorsese, Kurosawa, Kiorastami, Fellini, whoever, but there’s always a odd daft, knockabout comedy or musical that’s closest to your heart? That film for me is Car Wash, and Whitfield’s soundtrack for Rose Royce is the driving force (yes, I see what I did there) – in fact, it’s probably the reason they’ll soon be making a heavy-handed remake of the movie. But beyond its grooviness and empathy with the film’s narrative, there’s still a sense in the lovelorn lyrics of …Next To You of striving for a better life that always lifted a Norman Whitfield song above the isolated concerns of two people, to speak for universal change.