Friday, 17 September 2010

Top 5 Bands

1983 was my year zero for music. The point at which I started to take an interest in music beyond what I heard on Top of the Pops and that I found in my parents record collection. Since then I've always maintained a mental list of my favourite bands. In fact this was probably the beginning of my obsession with top fives. By the end of that year my Top 5 Bands list would have looked something like this;

1. Status Quo
2. Marillion
3. Iron Maiden
4. Pink Floyd
5. Big Country

My musical tastes remained fairly set for the best part of ten years. These bands were set in stone. Somewhere around the early nineties my musical horizons began to expand. I went to the Reading Festival and saw six bands in three days, my mental list began to unravel as I discovered new bands, new genres and new friends.

I thought it was time for me to have another go. It wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. My top two are pretty set but beyond that I've changed my mind at least ten times since I started to put this together. So, currently, my favourite bands/artists are thus.

1. Pixies

2. Johnny Cash

3. The Specials

4. A Silver Mount Zion

5. Arcade Fire

This will almost certainly change next week.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Top 5 Vincents

Another pub generated top five this week. Can't remember how we got on to the topic but Vincent is one of those names that seems to me to be unerringly cool.

1. Vincent van Gogh – An artist I really didn’t appreciate until I saw his work for real. I’m no connoisseur but seeing the texture and depth of paint on the original canvas adds an new dimension to his work. He lived briefly in Isleworth, not far from a flat I used to rent, though disappointingly I'm yet to discover any paintings produced during that period.

2. Vincent Furnier – Having been given such a fabulous rock’n’roll moniker at birth I'm not sure why he decided he needed a stage name. Never been the greatest fan of his music but you have to admire someone who can rip the heads of baby dolls one moment and play golf with Ronnie Corbett the next.

3. Vincent Price – A genuine legend of horror. For some reason he's associated in my mind with playing Dracula but a quick Google of his filmography suggests he never did.

4. V.I.N.Cent - One of the robots in “The Black Hole”, Disney’s 1979 attempt to cash in on Star Wars. The slightly desperate acronym stood for "Vital Information Necessary CENTralized" (which someone must have come up with very late on a Friday). Despite being poor substitutes for R2D2 and C3PO, he and his friend Old B.O.B. were the stars of the film.

5. Vinnie Vincent – So good they named him twice. Vincent Cusano was rechristened by Gene Simmons when he replaced Ace Frehley as guitarist in KISS. His tenure was short lived featuring on the “Creatures of the Night” album and tour and the band's first make-up free release “Lick It Up”.

Contenders who didn’t make the cut include Vinnie Jones (Footballer, Actor, Gamekeeper & Thug), Vincent Gallo (Actor, Producer, Composer, Director, Screenwriter, Songwriter, Singer), Vince Cable (Lib Dem MP and now coalition Business Secretary), Vince Hall (Michael Doyle in the original cast of Grange Hill) or Vince Taylor (50’s British r’n’r star and writer of "Brand New Cadillac).

Friday, 3 September 2010

Top 5 books by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams made a big impact on my world view as a teenager. I think he'd still make my top five favourite authors. I know these books are not great literature (something my A-Level English teacher was very quick to point out when I included them on a list of my favourite books!) but they make me laugh and taught me more about life than Tess of the bloody D'Urbervilles ever did. I've just finished the sixth book in the Hitchhiker's trilogy. It wasn't written by Douglas for obvious reasons (he's dead if you didn't know, but had he been alive it wouldn't have been written by him due to his failure to ever comply with a publishing deadline) but Eoin Colfer (author of the excellent Artemis Fowl series) has done a brilliant job of writing in the Adams style.

I read the two original Hitchhiker's books after seeing the BBC TV series and have been hooked ever since. "So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish" was the fourth book which I think prefer over the busier "Life, The Universe & Everything" and the bleaker "Mostly Harmless". Douglas wrote two Dirk Gently novels which provided the same quality of humour but free of the Hitchhiker's situational limitations. Finally "The Meaning of Liff" was a joint effort with John Lloyd, providing alternative meanings for town names in Britain.

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

2. The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

3. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

4. So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

5. The Meaning Of Liff

In the unlikely event that my old English teacher is reading this, I have expanded my reading knowledge over the years but these are still some of my favourite books.