Tuesday, 31 May 2011

My Favourite Albums on Dotmund

Just a little tidbit to tide you over half-term.

One of the joys of Twitter is the ability to discover like minded souls by following links from people you already follow. I discovered Dotmund via his excellent illustration work on the equally brilliant football site TwoHundredPercent. Following both via Twitter led me to Dotmund's personal blog and his recent collection of favourite album lists.

Obviously I couldn't resist that. Here's my Top 10 favourite albums. The extra five places made it harder then I expected. 

Think I might need to revist my top five again!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Micro Five - Songs about the Afterlife

No proper top five this week for a number of reasons not least a little too much time getting involved with The Guardian's Readers recommend blog. There's a new topic every Thursday and I've been contributing to various degrees for four weeks now. This week Jon Dennis was looking for songs about the afterlife. I managed five recommendations so figured it would be rude not to reuse them here. An eco-top five if you like.

1. Wilco "Hell Is Chrome" - This is the song that made things click for me and Wilco. Lovely piano intro leads into a song that suggests Hell is not a fiery inferno but somewhere blank and empty of stimulation a void of nothingness. A beautiful song despite the lyrical subject.

When the devil came
He was not red
He was chrome, and he said

Come with me
You must go
So I went
Where everything was clean
So precise and towering

2. The Staples Singers "What Are They Doing (in Heaven Today)" - Surley this is a subject that has to have room for a bit of gospel. The Staples Singers pretty repeatedly ask "What are they doing in Heaven" but don't provide any answers.

3. Venom "Heaven's On Fire" - Taking a very different tack with the Geordie pioneers of the Black Metal genre. They seem a bit tame now and this song which suggests "the pearly gates are ablaze" and "there's nothing you can do" is actually quite catchy. Other contenders from the same band include "To Hell and Back" and "Leave Me In Hell". They knew how to mine a theme for all it was worth!

4. Black Francis "Angels Come To Comfort You" - From the album Bluefinger that pays tribute to Dutch artist Herman Brood. The song seems to be about the artists suicide when he finally "Felt the angels kiss him on the head". It ends with a chrous of angelic Oooooos before the sound of sirens.

5. Jim White "Phone Booth in Heaven" - for which I nominate purely because I like the imagery.

For those who plant nothing but the seeds of the falling
there is a phone booth in heaven that no one is calling.
It sits on a highway that leads nowhere.
I'll drop you a line next time I find myself there

You can trawl through the full list of recommendations here or view the results here. I got my first A-listed song this week. This is exciting in the world of the list fan.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Top 5 versions of "Sea Of Love"

Sea of Love is one of those special songs for me, one that can capture my interest whoever has recorded it. Phil Phillips original was a doo-wop hit in 1959 but Cat Power's version from her suitably named "Covers" album in 2000 turned it into a staggeringly fragile torch song and turned me onto the music of Chan Marshall. I still don't know a great deal about the Derby born Kevin Coyne but his version takes the song on a soulful blues trip whilst Horace Andy ups the tempo with a brilliant Reggae groove. Finally there's Tom Waits unique vocal style on the version that appeared on the Al Pacino film of the same name.

Plenty of other versions, including Iggy Pop, The Honeydrippers, Marty Wilde and Shakin' Stevens, on this Spotify playlist.

1. Cat Power (from 2000 Covers album)

Photo by Stefano Giovanni

2. Phil Philips & The Twilights (from 1959 single)

3. Kevin Coyne (b-side to 1973 single Lovesick Fool)

4. Horace Andy (from 1997 compilation The Prime of Horace Andy)

5. Tom Waits (from 1989 Sea Of Love film soundtrack)


Friday, 13 May 2011

Top 5 Opening Song Lines

I've probably said this before but I'm not the greatest observer of lyrics. The thing that grabs me about a song is the music and in many cases the words are just another element of that sound. However, if I am going to notice what's actually being sung it's usually an opening line, so often the lyric that sets the tone for the song or states the manifesto of the band.

1. Teardrop Explodes "Reward"
"Bless my cotton socks I'm in the news"
Despite my teenage years corresponding closely with the eighties I never really got on with the music of the day. My desire to escape the floppy fringed "girly" bands I detested from Top Of The Pops probably shaped my taste in music from then on. Oddly I now find myself more sentimental for the music I grew up hearing. Reward was always a bit of a cracker though and remains one of my favourite songs. The Trumpets help, in my book Brass can only be a good thing for a popular single.

2. Stiff Little Fingers "Inflammable Material"
“Inflammable material is planted in my head,
it’s a suspect device that’s left 2000 dead”
Other than a brief mention in the film of "High Fidelity", Stiff Little Fingers remain a largely under appreciated punk band. I think they were one of the best original UK punk bands, great live and with a song craft that many others of their era lacked. This is the first line of the first track on their first album. It pretty well defines everything SLF were about.
Dick: In my opinion there are two bands that influenced Green Day...
Anna: The Clash!
Dick: Er, right. The other one, I think, is Stiff Little Fingers. Listen...

*Dick puts on a Stiff Little Fingers song*

Shopper: Is this the new Green Day song?

3. The Sonics "Strychnine"
“Some folks like water, some folks like wine,
but I like the taste of straight Strychnine”
The Sonics helped lay the path for the Punk bands of the late Seventies and early Eighties. Along with their American North-West contempories they also helped create the environment that made the Grunge explosion of the Nineties possible. Released in 1965, "Strychnine" and the debut album from whence it came, were a warning tremor for the eruption of wild rock'n'roll that would follow.

4. The Stooges "Search & Destroy"
"I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear a-bomb"
One of those direct descendants of The Sonics with lyrics that seem to describe the Stooges irrepressible front man. At 63 he's still capable of causing a stir as his recent appearance on American Idol showed.

5. Warren Zevon "Werewolves of London"
"Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
walking through the streets of Soho in the rain,
he was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's,
going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein"

This is kind of where I got started with this topic. Talking about the soundtrack for "American Werewolf in London" a few weeks back got me thinking about this song and its opening lyric.

Photo courtesy of Around the World Today

Friday, 6 May 2011

Guest Top 5 - Dugouts by Andy Ollerenshaw

I've had my third guest top five under wraps for sometime. It's by Andy Ollerenshaw author of the book "Wick to Wembley?" based on the blog of the same name. Both book and blog follow his journey from an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round match a few hundred yards from his front door to the Final at Wembley. Andy is a Leeds United supporter who may well have spent more time in the last twenty years watching Peterborough United. Andy has become a champion of non-league football in recent years encouraging the campaign to keep football affordable. He followed the FA Cup trip with a similar journey persuing the FA Vase, currently tweets as @NonLeagueFooty, writes for various football publications, and would possibly consider himself as much a Chertsey Town fan as a Leeds fan.

All photos courtesy of David Bauckham who runs Centre Circle Publishing and is perhaps best known for his wonderful book about Dugouts.

1. Brixham United FC - This has to be one of the most unusual dugout designs ever! A striking double decked affair where fans can sit in the upper section and earwig on the team tactics below. Brixham United play in the South Devon League and the dugouts are even painted in the club colours. Quite unique.

2. Roche AFC - You'll be hard pressed to find such a spectacular backdrop to a football ground anywhere else in the country. Roche is in East Cornwall and you'd be excused for thinking this is a coastal setting. Roche Rock is in fact in a former China Clay mining area and has a tiny 15th century chapel at its peak.

3. Warminster Town FC - There is no fixed seating in these dugouts which is quite common in lower league football. This great view of the surrounding Wiltshire countryside is helped by the position of the Weymouth Street ground high above the town.

4. Great Yarmouth FC - This Eastern Counties League venue boasts an impressive Victorian stand and an unusual selection of four brick dugouts. There were originally two dugouts, but the 'Bloaters' were refused permission to extend them to meet ground grading requirements and so had to build two more.

5. Stanley United - Another real favourite, this time in County Durham. Stanley United play at the Hill Top Ground which provides a clue of what the ground is like, but I doubt if the first-time visitor has ever seen anything quite like this. The dugouts are pretty unspectacular, but the old house on the touchline houses the changing rooms.