Buried Christmas treasure

christmas small
I recently received an early Christmas present in the shape of a pen drive loaded with the entire Buried Treasure back catalogue, and as Tom Petty’s radio programme is currently in its eighth season and there are 24-5 programmes per season with 20 or so tracks per programme you better believe that’s a fair old amount of music. I’m currently listening my way through Season Two and I came across this Christmas show which I thought you people might like. He does play two of his own recordings, which isn’t usual, but those of you who don’t like TP&TH can always skip those.

Happy Christmas!

1 Theme Song
2 I Feel OK – Detroit Junior
3 Merry Christmas, Baby – Otis Redding
4 Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
5 Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas – Staples Singers
6 Silver Bells – Booker T and the MGs
7 White Christmas – Otis Redding
8 Tom’s Mailbag
9 Christmas Comes But Once A Year – Albert King
10 Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Elvis Presley
11 Merry Christmas – Lightnin’ Hopkins
12 Santa Claus Baby – The Voices
13 Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Sir Mack Rice
14 The Christmas Song – King Curtis
15 Run, Run Rudolph – Chuck Berry
16 Red Rooster – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
17 Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter
18 Happy New Year – Lightnin’ Hopkins
19 Christmas Song – The Chipmunks
20 Feels Like Christmas – Al Greene
21 Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/
Auld Lang Syne – Jimi Hendrix
22 Jingle Bells – Booker T and the MGs

An unlikely barbryn playlist

Since I’ve got a quiet afternoon, I thought I’d resurrect a pair of dormant ‘Spill series.

Way back in the mists of time, ToffeeBoy created the catchily titled Regular ‘Spillers Post Music That You Wouldn’t Really Expect From Them, Knowing Their Musical Tastes A Bit As You Do. And it’s been a while since we had a pick one/ditch one playlist.

So, here are 11 tracks that you probably wouldn’t really expect from me, knowing my musical tastes a bit as you do. There is no alt-country, Swedish indie pop or sensitive singer-songwriters. There is pop, R&B, hip-hop and dance from the 90s, 00s and even 10s.

You may pick a favourite and a least favourite if you wish. You are very welcome to suggest other tunes that would feel at home on this playlist. You may even find something you like.

Six Minutes A Month – August 1993

As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 20 year delay system) we are now deep into 1993.

The six minutes a month refers to the amount of time alt/indie music had on terrestrial television at the time. Very few of us has MTV back then, we had four channels and the occasional hope that someone good would be on Top Of The Pops. So many folks I know of my generation discovered their favourite bands from catching a tiny snippet on The Chart Show on a Saturday morning. Our lives would have been different with Youtube & Spotify, I’m sure.

OK, the observations: 

1. There’s a pretty big alt. rock showing from the US. Yes, we called it alt. rock – not grunge. Overall this chart is pretty damn noisy. Suede, heading the Britpop vanguard, must not have had a single out this month. Make no mistake, this chart is pretty damn heavy.

2. “Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us” by the irrepressible BMX Bandits really should have been a world wide smash, it’s a mystery to me why it never was.

3. The Boo Radleys are still in their fuzzy spacey phase, having yet to write any really annoying Britpop anthems Like “Wake Up Boo”, though there always was a pop heart to their tunes.

4. The Voodoo Queens have abandoned their riot grrl leanings and now are singing a song about how to pronounce Keanu Reeves’ name. It’s not very good.

5. I own a fair bit of this chart, my enduring favourites being the 12″s from the Smashing Pumpkins (whose Cherub Rock was the start of their world domination) and of course The Breeders. Cannonball is a classic, as you know, and the video was directed by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth & Spike Jonze. I still listen to these two bands a lot, their music had endured.

6. The Sugar song “Tilted” was from their six track “Beaster” EP, which was heavier and harsher material than their previous, breakthrough, Copper Blue album. “Beaster”, as I figured at the time, was a religious concept album about the life & death of Christ. Maybe.

What were you listening to at the end of the summer of ’93? 

Forgotten 90s – #1 Tiger


I was listening to Tiger’s excellent debut LP from 1996 “We are Puppets” yesterday and thinking what a shame it was that they have pretty much been completely forgotten. So, I came up with an idea for a mini-series of posts on forgotten 90s bands, starting with Tiger of course!

Continue reading

Grateful Dawg

Having re-watched the above-named documentary about the musical relationship between David Grisman and Jerry Garcia again(!) last night, I just felt the need to share this slice of sinuous beauty with you. Just imagine you’re sitting in a parlour in 1902…….

Garcia’s best playing with the Dead may have passed by 1991 but his renewed friendship with Grisman produced some marvellous sounds from both of them, born out of a shared love of the music and a shared sense of fun.

There’s always the Sun…

Winter sun through a window in Pamplona (C)lgconnolly

Winter sun through a window in Pamplona (C)lgconnolly

So with all of the excitement in the world of organised religion this week, I found myself pontificating (how apt) about the strangeness of it all. It was prompted specifically by some comment that I read about “primitive religions” worshiping the Sun – and for some reason that really rankled with me… Continue reading

‘Spill Game – Week # As If I Ruddy Know: “POP!” goes the worst one…


So last time I went all crowd-pleasey (or as crowd-pleasey as I can manage) with tasteful eclecticism. And this time… well, this time I’ve probably swung too far in the opposite direction and won’t be pleasing anyone whatsoever. Yes, folks, I’ve gone pop. Mainstream, well-known, pure and simple every time. Forgive me my synths, I know exactly what I do. Sadly…

Track and artist names (and a few short attempts at justification) after the jump…

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‘Spillover: The Lemonheads


Due to popular demand, we are going to ‘Spillover….The Lemonheads!

For the most part (The) Lemonheads became in later years Evan Dando, and whoever he was hanging out with at the time, so we can also take Evan Dando solo songs too.

There are nine Lemonheads albums to choose from, plus singles, EPs, and lots of good covers to boot.

So, to perfect the perfect Lemonheads playlist, please nominate one or two tunes in the comments with a youtube or spotify link, please. I’m allowing more than one nomination, as possibly they may not be as well known as other bands we’ve ‘Spilt-over like the Stones, or Elbow.

So, do you like early noisy Lemonheads? Mid period strummy grungey Lemonheads? Quiet countryish Lemonheads? Acoustic gentle Lemonheads? Funny, romantic Lemonheads? Or the one about the gas man taking Evan’s old stove away?

Please also share any Lemonheads memories, ephemera, anecdotes, trivia, or nonsense.

I’m a massive fan, and have kicked off noms with an acoustic version of a song from their 4th album. The acoustic version was a b-side, but ended up on their greatest hits too. My favourite version of “Ride With Me” is a live acoustic one I taped off the radio back in 1992, but I’m not sure where the cassette is.


About a year or so ago I did a post on 1991. Ever since, I’ve been wondering how I could possibly do a follow-up post, and have finally come up with the idea of doing one about 1992. Clever, huh?

1991 was a vintage year, bringing classic albums like Screamedelica, Nevermind and Blue Lines. 1992 can’t compare – NME thinks Sugar’s Copper Blue is the album of the year – but even so, whittling this playlist down to just 12 songs was hard.

Because when you’re 13-14 years old and just discovering the wonders of music, 1992 is bursting with amazing records. Melody Maker, NME and Select magazine are fonts of wisdom. Mark Goodier is a musical guru. The Chart Show indie chart is a highlight of the month. All my paper round money goes on cassettes from Our Price (usually around £7.99).

Here are a few of the things I was listening to… more about them after the break.

In the meantime, shall we pretend we’re doing a Festive ‘Spill for 1992? Let’s have your top 3…

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In Defence of……….Shed Seven !

After semi-successful defences of Menswe@r and Guns’N’Roses, I thought I’d up the ante by attempting to defend the (perceived) mediocre !

Shed Seven were the perennial underachieving Britpop also-rans, who had a ridiculous misconception of their own importance and ability, and, lest we forget, were the band who, somewhat embarrassingly, re-appropriated their own song for The Link advert (you know the one; “at The Link it’s easy, easy” !). But, hold on a moment. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find an actually pretty bloody successful band with a whole raft of stone-cold classic pop tunes.

First of all, a few stats for you (cheers Wiki):

- 15 top 40 singles
- 4 top 20 albums
- in 1996 the Sheddoes had more chart hits than any other band!
- played with Ride, Elastica, Oasis etc and got to number one in Thailand, beating Take That to the top spot !

When the Sheds first came out, they were thought to be a brash, laddish breath of fresh air as they faced down their contemporaries, Oasis, with a sneer (despite singer Rick Witter’s alleged 26 inch waist !). As they evolved as a band though, it quickly became clear to the more sensitive of us Britpop kids that there was something deeper and more longer-lasting at work. Comparisons with Suede and the Smiths abounded and the band responded in kind by making their songs more epic and grandiose and tempering their confidence with a sensitivity and attention to detail lacking in most of their peers.
They were rewarded for their efforts with two amazing albums: the debut “Changegiver” and follow up “A Maximum High” and a string of singles that won them more and more fans (mostly in Thailand!) and played an important part in expanding the Britpop blueprint beyond its initial limited range.

The problem was, that even to their fans, they were perhaps their fourth or fifth favourite band! Although they charted, it was inevitably number 27 with a bullet! Despite their illustrious peers, they were quickly left behind, not helped by the music press (mainly the NME) backlash against them, which always seemed so unjustified to me. They fizzled out in a boring cycle of poorly-received albums, label problems, ‘musical differences’ between band members and increasingly rubbish songs.

They reformed in 2007 and played sold-out shows to nostalgic fans in their early 30s across the UK, finally getting a tiny bit of the recognition they deserved at the time.

Although I wasn’t a full-fledged Shed Head (sorry Chris!), I remember arriving at university in my brand new Shed Seven t-shirt, proudly displaying my affection for the lads. As their sound grew and their songs became more ambitious and well executed, and as Top of the Pops performances followed, I supported them wholeheartedly and only jumped off the bandwagon as their disappointing third album (“Let It Ride”) failed to deliver any tunes whatsoever.

Their appreciation is long overdue in my book, so get some slightly flared needle cords from Oxfam, pull on a skinny fit fake 70s football top, lie back and listen to some of the best and most underrated indie-pop tunes of the 90s, or any other decade!

Six Minutes A Month – February 1993

As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 19 year delay system) we now reach the chart from the start of 1993. Thanks to Barbryn for prodding me to pick this one up. I should point out to newer readers that the six minutes a month refers to the amount of time alt/indie music had on terrestrial television at the time. Very few of us has MTV back then, we had four channels and the occasional hope that someone good would be on Top Of The Pops.

Ok, here are the salient points:

1. Huggy Bear – yep The Chart Show got the name of their EP (and song) wrong. But then since when was Riot Grrrrl spelt correctly?

2. Two bands here directly benefiting from Kurt Cobain patronage. On tour, Kurt used to love holding the bucket into which the large chap from Tad had to vomit nightly due to whatever bizarre physiological condition he was suffering. We know all about Shonen Knife. The few seconds of the song they play here sound pretty good, and yes there is moshing.

3. As we’ve covered Suede before, let’s look at Denim. Britpop seemed the right time for Laurence from Felt to launch his new thing and ride the zeitgeist to success, perhaps? Looking at this, may be he was a bit too arch, a bit too knowing, and a bit too clever (members of the Glitter Band?? Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep??!) for the mainstream, or indeed for his own boots. The recent documentary on him “Laurence of Belgravia” suggests, according to my film critic pal who has actually managed to see it, that there’s really not as much there as we hoped (not quite the reclusive genius he’s kidding himself he is perhaps), despite “Primitive Painters” being one of the best indie-pop songs ever written.

4. Superchunk!! This song is an alt. rock classic and I have it on 12″. Super awesome fun chunk.

5. Ditto the Sugar song, and Cornershop. Classics both.

6. Belly! OK, Belly were the big draw here. Nearly 20 years later, Belly’s songs haven’t endured so much as other stuff from the time (not to say I don’t like them, I just never seek them out) and I bloody loved Belly. I can only think that a part of this may have been down to the overpowering and ridiculous amount of hormones running round my 16 year old body. Thank god Elastica came along shortly.

So, towards whom were your hormones directed in early ’93?

Take Out Some Insurance quiz

A quiz to keep you amused while we’re waiting for the new topic: and no, it’s nothing to do with insurance…that’s just the song. After the title there’s a series of 20 images each one representing a Tom Petty song. Your task is to identify all 20 of them! Some of them are very easy. Some of them are fiendishly hard. It’ll help if you’re a film/theatre/TV/radio buff; and oh yes – the answers are in alphabetical order, so that should help too. And googling is allowed.

While you’re puzzling over the images you will, of course, be able to enjoy the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers version of Jimmy Reed’s Take Out Some Insurance. Well, I hope you enjoy it anyway – this is the only version I’ve got of them doing the song and I think it’s just plain marvellous.

(I’ve had an earlier version of this video – I made it easier, folks! – up on YouTube overnight and it’s still there, so I’m hoping this one is safe and won’t get taken down. Famous last words? Possibly.)

Elbow – the spillOVER!

This is almost certainly the wrong time to be doing this.  I’m sure most of us are otherwise engaged with pre-festive period activities such as shopping, cooking, visiting aged relatives or getting slaughtered at the office party and thus ensuring that the New Year’s resolution has a ‘never again’ theme to it.

But I’ve chosen to ignore all that as this is about the only free time I have all year and if I don’t do it now, I probably never will. 

Here’s the idea, as promulgated by saneshane, of this parish…

Everyone who wants to play puts forward a track by Elbow, by way of a YouTube clip or a Spotify link or whatever means you have for sharing such things with the ‘Spill class.  I then, as Spillmaster, select the best ten (or 15 or 20?) to put together the ultimate Elbow playlist for the edification of those who wish to learn the finer points of Manchester’s Bury’s finest!

There are five albums to choose from plus numerous singles with interesting B-sides and a handful of pre-major label EPs.  Any live recordings?  Obscure collaborations?  Let’s make this the Elbow compilation to die for!

I’ll start the ball rolling by throwing out my current favourite taken from their breakthrough album, The Seldom Seen Kid. 

The Crimson-Yes Axis

This post was inspired by those Pete Frame “Rock Family Trees” diagrams that I’ve always found so engrossing and which are a great way to waste an afternoon.

The idea for this particular one came from me listening to the first, eponymous album by the band UK, which featured Bill Bruford, John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Alan Holdsworth, with Bruford and Wetton being the rhythm section that powered the great “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic”, “Starless And Bible Black” and “Red” incarnation of King Crimson. The presence of Eddie Jobson reminded me that he did some violin overdubs for the KC live album from this period, “USA”.

Then I wandered mentally from UK and USA to Asia, another band that featured John Wetton and which also had Steve Howe from Yes, the band where Bill Bruford started out. You can see where this leads, can’t you?

So, I thought I’d put together a playlist that had one rule; the music must feature at least one member of either Yes or King Crimson playing under a different banner.

The musicians I have used are Greg Lake (KC’s original bassist/ELP), Ian McDonald and Michael Giles(also from the original KC line-up/McDonald and Giles), Bill Bruford (Yes and KC/Bruford/AWBH), John Wetton (KC/Asia – also played live with Roxy Music), Robert Fripp (KC – obviously/David Bowie/Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins), Mel Collins (KC/Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins), Steve Howe, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman (all Yes/AWBH), Vangelis (Yes/Aphrodite’s Child), Boz Burrell (KC/Bad Company and Eddie Jobson (KC in the studio/Roxy Music)

So, the track listing is;

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – The Barbarian
McDonald and Giles – Flight Of The Ibis
Asia – Only Time Will Tell
Aphrodite’s Child – The Four Horsemen
Roxy Music – Out Of The Blue
David Bowie – “Heroes”
Bill Bruford – Beelzebub
John Wetton – New Star Rising
Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins – The Other Man
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe – Order Of The Universe
Bad Company – Bad Company

There are lots of other connections that you can find if you are an obsessive about such things. If you wanted to branch out, you could link Yes to UK to Soft Machine and to Gong via Bill Bruford and Alan Holdsworth (because Holdsworth played with UK, the Softs and Gong). You can also link King Crimson to Gong via Theo Travis, who has played live with Robert Fripp. There are also links via Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. You can even link King Crimson to Hall and Oates via Fripp and his work on Darryl Hall’s first solo album, “Sacred Songs”. It goes on and on. I am sure that people can find other links.

Incidentally, the only reason I don’t have a UK track here is that for some reason I don’t understand, my PC was unable to open the CD.

Guilty Pleasures – A DsD Guest Presenter Edition

I was going to call this thread ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ but some bugger swine’s nicked that idea before.

There are guilty pleasures (“mmm, yummy!”) and there are guilty pleasures (*blush*). But when you’re a heavy rocker of a certain age, there are also GUILTY pleasures as in ‘disbelieving-looks-of-scorn-and-immediate-ostracism’ from your peers: guess which category this one falls into?!

But I’m posting it for a reason, and with a question for you all ["All"? Er, DsD, I think you'll find there's no-one here: they've all gone down the pub to get away. - Ed] to consider.

I have taken some simple steps to hide the artist’s name from the player. This is NOT to hide my embarrassment, though you may not believe me about that! It’s because the question is about the influence our prejudice has on our view of a song. In other words, I’m covering a lot of the same intellectual ground Bish did with his Paris Hilton selection a few weeks ago.

Now some of you will recognize the song (& thus the artist) immediately: there’s not a lot I can do about you people. I suppose that makes you the benchmark for the experiment. All I want from you people is to not give the game away … yet. Just post a reply saying you’re in, say, “Group A”. Some of you – I’m hoping – won’t have a scoob who it is: you’re the control group, as you’re unaffected by the element I’m investigating. So tell me you’re in “Group C” (for Control) and then tell me what you think of the song. The reactions I’m really looking at are from those who hear the opening, can’t think/remember who the artist is, listen …, but then remember who it is. You’re “Group B” (for Bloody Hell!), and I want to know if your perceptions of the song changed as a result of that realization.

Me? I unashamedly love this. I know it’s simple, false, trite, horribly uncool, bombastic, and lyrically, a deeply cynical pull on the heartstrings, but I like it despite all that. So I don’t want or need sneering dismissals of its shallowness; all I want to know is – did you change your opinion of it because of who the artist is?

AOTWs: Special Pre-Re-Release Edition

Coincidentally or not, just in time for upcoming holiday season,  a few albums are up for re-release this month.  Re-mastered, and each with a slew of new previously unreleased bonus tracks.  Most definitely this is a trend these days, and i still can’t figure out exactly what the reasoning is.  More money, certainly.  A celebration of a classic album, a chance to correct what they may have gotten wrong the first time.  Introducing a classic album from musicians whose time has passed to a new generation,  an excuse for a tour.  A service to fans and other interested parties by releasing tracks that didn’t make the album cut.  So maybe it’s worth a review of the albums as they were before tackling the  new incarnations. Continue reading

Re-visitation and re-evaluation

I’ve not posted anything much on The ‘Spill for ages, apart from a few comments here and there, work has been taking up lots of time and I am conscious that although I am listening to lots of music, I am not really writing about it. So, I thought that I’d better do something about that state of affairs.

Anyway, this piece is all about how sometimes a band can surprise you and make you go back and re-evaluate their back catalogue.

I made a comment on The ‘Spill ages ago about changing my mind about being someone who liked Radiohead to realising that I was someone who actually just liked The Bends and OK Computer.

That was based on the fact that I didn’t like Kid A, an album I’d bought, listened to once or twice and then just dismissed as electronic doodling.

I’d basically not bothered to keep up with what the band were doing, yes, I heard stuff on the radio but most of it I didn’t really get involved with and then King of Limbs came out. I heard “Lotus Flower” on the radio and thought it sublime and “Little By Little” also sounded like a good song to me, one that crept up and grew on me, in a way that Radiohead hadn’t moved me for a long time. So I bought the album and yes, I really liked it a lot. I liked the shifting, elusive quality of the music, the skittering electronic drum patterns, the layered sound and the enigmatic vocals. The music had a maturity that demanded attention. It reminded me of something else.

It engaged me in a way that I thought Radiohead weren’t able to do any more. Even more interestingly, the blend of sounds; electronica, guitars, brass, treated vocals and other instruments sent me back to Kid A. I thought that it finally deserved a re-evaluation. There were things that I thought needed placing in a context.

However, I didn’t go straight at it. I had a whole afternoon of Radiohead. I played King of Limbs, then went back and played The Bends and OK Computer. I had a bit of a think, realising that what I’d previously loved about the two earlier albums didn’t necessarily move me in the same way. I still liked the anthemic rock tracks and the dislocated ballads but the two albums sounded, how can I put it, a bit too straightforward and lacking in subtlety, compared with the slippery, jittery, layered music on the newest album.

So, then I approached Kid A again. Right from the off, the opener “Everything in Its Right Place” clicked. The dissonances, the samples, the avant garde string arrangements, the punchy, discordant brass (that sort of reminded me of some of the brass used on some of King Crimson’s albums) and the electronic treatments finally made sense. I listened to the album and then I listened to it a second time. It still sounded right and, weirdly, because everyone always says how much of a departure it is from what came before, I could hear elements of continuity with OK Computer. Not large elements, but subtle ones, things to search out. Now, listening to Kid A, I don’t hear wilfully difficult experimentation, I hear musical maturity, I hear musicians stretching themselves, re-inventing their band into something beyond the anthems, something mysterious, something deep.

The band has always shunned, rightly I think, the tag of being a “prog” band. I can see that, because they haven’t done anything that I’d call prog. There was always that hype about OK Computer being a Dark Side Of The Moon for the nineties, which was really just hot air. I am not sure that the nineties needed a DSOTM, any more than any other decade ever did, the original doing a perfectly good job by itself. However, there is something in the experimentation, the use of the avant garde and the way the music on Kid A is structured that is really progressive in a real sense. It is progressive because it marked genuine musical progress for Radiohead. It took them away from the stadium rock that would have been a straight-jacket. Plenty of bands would have probably been happy to carry on cashing in on “Creep”, “The Bends” and “Paranoid Android” for a couple of decades, but Kid A gave Radiohead a whole new language and landscape to explore. In a way, I am kind of glad that it took me this long to make the connection. It is nice to be surprised occasionally and it is always good to have a prejudice overturned.

So, can I call myself a Radiohead fan again? Well, I think the answer has to be “Yes” to that one.

The only problem now, is what do I think of the guitar-based albums now, as opposed to the electronic ones? I am currently thinking that the electronica is what I want to hear most.

So, back to the basic premise again. Can recent music by bands and artists make you reassess their back catalogue and see their output in a different way? We are used to seeing music come out in a linear way. Is there real worth in approaching a body of work in reverse? What can it tell us about the artists to look at their past music through the filter of their present work?

I don’t have an answer necessarily, but maybe there are other views here?

‘spill over EELS

EELS is a band formed by singer/songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E.
There’s at least 9 albums to choose tracks from and 2 solos recordings, plus an album as MC Honky… if you could be so kind – I’d like a ‘spill over view of his output.

Do you like EELS? (the band – you comedians)
if so , the down right depressing side? or the jaunty pop sensibility side? .. but still with a dark soul.

We have a couple of spare days – will we have a unique ‘best of’ that the record company would be pleased to produce or a totally odd collection that a blog full of weirdoes would be happy to listen to – the choice is yours.

Post your nominations to: Susan’s House c/o the Comments section below – thanks ‘spillers.

New Brett Anderson “Brittle Heart”

It’s always good to keep an eye on what Mr Anderson is up to, and after a couple of albums of slow piano musings, we’re back to a bit of the old rock, and it’s pretty good on the second listen. Eagle eyed ‘Spillers can spot a. Akiko from Comanechi/The Big Pink and b. That Didz geezer from The Cooper Temple Clause (remember them?!). In other news Brett has gotten married is now married has gotten married, thus breaking Mrs McFlah’s heart (“A piece of me has died” she quoth “I’m like Tinkerbell, with her little light fading away and going out. Sob!”)

tfd’s 20

What? Am I the winner?

You most certainly are, Shirley – congratulations!

Hi ‘Spillers: this is an auspicious occasion (I’m having quite a week in fact), as I celebrate my 20th A-lister on RR. I first got drawn in for Illness, in November 2007, made all the usual mistakes that newbies make, and got my first A-lister the following January. Now, I’m sure you don’t want to listen to all 20 in one go (if at all) so I’m going to do two lists of 10. Here’s the first.

1 I’m The Face by the High Numbers, alias the Who. ‘I Am’ songs, Jan 25 2008
2 Nottamun Town by Shirley Collins and Davey Graham. Surreal songs, June 13 2008
3 Remember (Walking In The Sand) by the Shangri-Las. Songs about memory, Oct 10 2008
4 Ghost In This House by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Songs about ghosts, Jan 30 2009
5 Lord Gregory by Shirley Collins. Songs about social class, March 27 2009
6 Marilyn Monroe by the Ian Campbell Folk Group. Songs about actors, April 17, 2009
7 Complainte Pour Ste Catherine by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Songs in French, June 19 2009
8 The Cruel Mother by Shirley Collins. Cruel songs, July 24 2009
9 However Much I Booze by the Who. Songs about failure, August 7 2009
10 Barroom Girls by Gillian Welch. Songs about hangovers, January 8 2010

Ready for Part 2? OK then:

11 Killing Jar by Richard Thompson. Unsettling songs, January 22 2010
12 The Victory by Steeleye Span. Songs about historical figures, January 29 2010
13 Long Live Rock by the Who. Songs about concerts, May 27 2010
14 The Eyes Of Fate by the Incredible String Band. Songs about fate, September 24 2010
15 The Unquiet Grave by Shirley Collins. Songs about the afterlife, May 26 2011
16 Cherry Red Wine by Luther Allison. Songs about wine, June 9 2011
17 Blue Days, Black Nights by Buddy Holly. Debut songs, June 23 2011
18 The Dark-Eyed Sailor by June Tabor and the Oysterband. Songs about eavesdropping, July 14 2011
19 Barefootin’ by Robert Parker. Songs about dance styles, July 28 2011
20 So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) by the Everly Brothers. Songs about a change of mind, August 4 2011

Well, that should keep everyone amused for a bit!

Musician into Novelist

I’ve just finished reading Louise Wener‘s debut novel, Goodnight Steve McQueen. It was rather good, in a lightweight, write-what-you-know, easy to read sort of way.

For those who aren’t sure who I’m talking about, Louise Wener was the singer with Sleeper, a 90s Britpop band (I always quite liked ‘em, but the critics didn’t seem to take them seriously). Their first hit was “Inbetweener”:

Sheddi spotted that I had a new book on the go and asked what it was. I was about a quarter of the way in, so I gave him what I thought was a pithy reply:

“It’s chick-lit for blokes.”

What do I know? I rarely read chick-lit and I’m not a bloke. But it seemed apt at the time.

Basically, the novel is about an underacheiving bloke who’s in a no-hope band and a long-term relationship. He’s also got a pretty fun dead-end job, in a specialist video shop. The girlfriend gets fed up and issues an ultimatum: get a record deal or a proper job, or she’s leaving him. He doesn’t want her to leave him. He doesn’t want a ‘proper job’. Can the band make it?

The novel is heavy on dialogue – credible, frequently amusing dialogue that is used to drive the narrative along at a jaunty pace (a bit like the guitars on yer average Sleeper tune). The first person male voice seems to work well (one imagines that the author spent a lot of time hanging around with musicianly blokes in her previous career; not for nothing was the term “sleeperbloke” coined). There are a few unexpected plot turns (possibly not surprising enough to be called “twists”) – and, crucially, the book is well written and fun to read. Other reviewers have compared Goodnight Steve McQueen to Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, which seems reasonable to me.

Wener – who also wrote the bulk of Sleeper’s songs (and there were some cracking lyrics lurking amongst them) – has also written three other novels, as well as an autobiography Different for Girls: My True-life Adventures in Pop (a recent publication).

I can’t help thinking that this novel resembles a Sleeper song. Amiable, well-crafted but ultimately throw-away pop that critics refuse to take seriously, but which has the potential to be reread and thus survive beyond its allotted pop moment. I haven’t read any of her other novels (yet), so I cannot comment on how Wener’s ability as a novelist has developed.

I can think of at least one other singer who has turned to writing prose – I’m not sure poetry counts; it’s a bit like (exceptionally good) lyrics without music, after all.

How about you? Read any good fiction (by musicians) lately? Is it similar to their music?

Six Minutes A Month – May 1992

As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 19 year delay system) we now reach the chart from the Springtime of 1992 – and watch the first seedlings of Britpop appearing amongst the shoegaze sunflowers and workmanlike indie shrubbery.

Yes! It’s Suede and their debut single “The Drowners” that really brightens up an otherwise quite dull chart. Glamour! Hair! Sex! Swoon!! This was their first terrestrial appearance on TV and I guess would be the first time that most of the UK indie kids saw Brett and co shake their money.

Shoegaze also-rans Adorable bring up the rear at number 10, a band that had a couple of really good songs to their name, but who I think appeared on the scene a bit too late. St Etienne are kicking about with “Join Our Club”  a single that bridged their first and second LPs, at number two.

Number one are The Levellers with their second best known song “15 Years”. I never really identified with the whole Crusty scene, probably because I’d twigged that not washing your hair and pretending to be a gypsy wouldn’t get you a shag (at least not from the kind of girls I was chasing about the place) and also probably because the Manics had slagged the Levellers off in the music press.

Like a diamond

Young punk (?)(1977)

Insider (1981)

Outsider (2002)

Grand Old Man Of Rock (2011)

Well, the thing is that I’ve been wanting to do a podcast about TP for ages now, but the problem always was: how do I decide which songs to include? Then one day the answer came to me: during the 30 Days game I’d been keeping a list of my noms so as not to repeat any, and looking down the list at about the two-thirds mark I realised that my TP noms (which were many) in fact covered a good span of his recording career. There were still a few gaps though – and in fact not enough opportunities left to get one song in from each album, not to mention that some albums were already represented twice – but I made a valiant attempt through blatant shoehorning activities and finally arrived at a list which I think is pretty good. I’ve left out the compilation, soundtrack and live albums, and most of the songs in the podcast are different versions from the ones I posted for 30 Days, because they’re studio-recorded. So even if you watched all the videos I posted, you’ll still hear something new in the podcast, as well as my fab commentary of course, and some remarks from the great man himself who was happy to help. [Tell the truth, tfd - Ed.] OK, he didn’t know a thing about it.
Here we go then: Tom Petty, his music, from 1976 to now.
Woo hoo!

Podcast song list

Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It) – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1976
I Need To Know – You’re Gonna Get It! 1978
Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid) – Damn The Torpedoes 1979
The Waiting – Hard Promises 1981
Insider – Hard Promises 1981
Change Of Heart – Long After Dark 1982
Southern Accents – Southern Accents 1985
Spike - Southern Accents 1985
It’ll All Work Out – Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) 1987
End Of The Line – The Traveling Wilburys vol. 1 1988
Runnin’ Down A Dream – Full Moon Fever 1989
Learning To Fly – Into The Great Wide Open 1991
You Don’t Know How It Feels – Wildflowers 1994
Room At The Top – Echo 1999
Dreamville – The Last DJ 2002
Like A Diamond – The Last DJ 2002
Saving Grace – Highway Companion 2006
Shady Grove – Mudcrutch 2008
Lover’s Touch – Mojo 2010

All songs composed by Tom Petty except:
End Of The Line – George Harrison
Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Jeff Lynne
Shady Grove – trad.

Well, if you’ve got down this far you’ll certainly be up for the ‘Spill point challenge – I’ve mentioned shoehorning but (for only one point, now that Chris has made it easier by putting the spreadsheet in the box) which of the songs in the podcast did NOT feature in the 30-Day Challenge at all? Clue: it’s about a couple who are maybe about to set up home together but they are the opposite of Wills’n’Kate.