Thursday, 30 April 2009

Songs that should NEVER be covered no.3

Hi, Cathy Dennis here. You may remember me for having chart hits like Touch Me (All Night Long) and writing songs for people like Sophie Ellis-Bextor, S Club 7 and Katy Perry. Well before I could write my own songs I thought I'd have a go at murdering someone else's. Enjoy!

Ay-up, Rick Allen here, one-armed drummer of down-to-earth Sheffield-based pop metal sell-outs, Def Leppard. A few years ago we nicked an idea from Rush of doing an album of cover versions of songs that inspired us as kids. Here's our stab at one of the most perfect songs ever written. Even though it was written by some shandy-drinking Cockney about that thee're fancy London...

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Nuts in August

I'm currently reading Emma Kennedy's book on family camping holidays. It's made me 'LOL' a few times, even though I'm sure that quite a lot of its been embellished for comedic purposes, nevertheless it's a good read.

All of which reminded me of the only time I've been camping (I was never in the cubs or scouts. Male-bonding has always left me slightly cold. Besides, all you seemed to do was play Britsh fucking Bulldogs). It was 1984 and my sister had just got married so mater and pater were a bit skint from forking out for a showy wedding, so a 'proper' holiday was out of the question. My other sister had announced the previous year, right at the end of a fortnight in Cornwall that she "never wanted to go on a family holiday ever again". So, as in 1984 she was 17, it was deemed that she could be trusted to stay at home on her own for a week. It was decided that we would borrow my aunt's tent and go and slum it in the Lake District, just my parents and me. In the spirit of inter-family unity, my just-married sister's new in-laws decided they would bring their tent and come with us.

Here's a run down of what went wrong that week:

  • First night there and the campsite offers grass-skiing, which involves hurtling down fellsides on ski boots fitted with tank tracks. Dad's too tight to pay for me to have a go so I have a go at running down the hill very fast, lost my footing and bounced down more than I ran, ripping my Brutus jeans and getting grass stains on my black and white, Big Country-style plaid shirt. Caused much hilarity with my sister's in-laws.

  • Got accosted by a gang of teenage girls while going to the camp shop to get my dad's Express and a bottle of milk. They could obviously smell a boy who'd never been kissed before at twenty paces. Put me off girls for at least a year.

  • Went to visit an uncle who worked at Sellafield and lived within sight of it. His stepson made me touch the Irish sea because "it's radioactive and you ain't got no bollocks if you don't touch it". He then took me to his bedroom where, in a display of twattishness that would shame those two American Judas Priest fans, he played me Deep Purple's Child in Time over and over again at shrieking volume. A song that still leaves me traumatised*.

  • Stopped for a leak in a mountain stream then thought it would be a good idea to drink the clear water with my scooped hands. The same hands that had just been holding my penis that hadn't had a proper bathing for a few days. And, in my youthful stupidity drank water downstream from where I'd just pissed. Caused much hilarity with my sister's in-laws.

  • Had a tin of lager which caused me to collapse into my deckchair resulting in me touching the sides of my tent. Dad went mad, got a smack round the bonce (it was allowed in those days). Touching the sides of a tent is the worst thing you can do when camping. Ever. Caused much hilarity with my sister's in-laws.

  • Woke in the middle of the night. As it's a camp site it was pitch black, thought I'd gone blind as I could see absolutely nothing and screamed. Caused much hilarity with my in-laws.

  • Had to listen to two 'neighbours' arguing due to one of them being able to hear everything the others were saying, and singing because the bastards had taken a guitar with them. Just like Nuts in May. Yes, really.

  • Decided it would be a good idea to go the pub at a place called Kirkstone Pass, one of the highest pubs in England. It's accessed by a notoriously steep road. Sister's father-in-law decided he would drive, he's not the world's greatest driver. I had my eyes shut most of the way, when I opened them, his false teeth, which he wasn't overly keen on wearing, were grinning up at me from the map pocket in the car door. The pub itself is like The Slaughtered Lamb off of An American Werewolf in London. Stuffed crows on every window ledge. Needless to say, the trip down was just as scary as on the way up. Made worse by my sister's father-in-law's insistence that we listen to his Jim Reeves tape. Gentleman Jim.

  • We had to take the tent down and pack up in the pouring rain.

I've never been camping again.

*Especially as it's since been used on the rather excellent Oscar-winning feature documentary One Day in September, a film about the Israeli hostage crisis at the Munich Olympics. The music accompanies footage of actual police photos taken of the carnage inside one of the helicopters that was blown up. I find it a scary but great track all at the same time.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

On a much lighter note

Have a look at the pork pie and Cox's action in this otherwise badly-directed video. I also love Adamson's dad dancing near the end and the fact that the director thought it'd be a great idea to edit Bruce Watson into the video at a moment he was looking down at his guitar. Mark Unpronouncablenamefrombigcountry's drum kit was also obviously too big to fit in that tunnel as well. And why the falling over near the start?
In fact, is this video a case of so-bad-it's-brilliant?


I remember what I was doing vividly on that day. I'd got the house to myself and thought I'd go and buy Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction album - I could then come home and play it very loudly on my new stereo.
Got home, didn't really bother finding out what the Forest score was because in those days Forest playing a big game like that was a regular occurrence. Had just got into Welcome to the Jungle and there was a knock at the door. It was a friend of the family, who happened to be a big Liverpool FC fan. He had tears in his eyes, which I thought was strange because in those days, pre-Diana, nobody cried in public.
I asked him what was wrong and he just garbled about their being trouble at Hillsborough and a crowd crush in the Liverpool end. He couldn't understand why the Forest supporters had been allocated the Kop end of the ground, which was bigger, so Liverpool, admittedly a bigger club couldn't take more spectators. That's all he kept saying, over and over again.
He went when I told him my parents weren't there and I flicked on the telly. It was one of those strange situations, pre rolling news channels, where a sports presenter just had to keep talking (Like Heysel and the 1997 Grand National). On this occasion it was Bob Wilson as the BBC had cameras there and it kept going over to the ground live.
Being on your own was very disconcerting.

As Forest were the other team playing that day I knew quite a lot of people there that day. Most of them will tell you that they thought it was crowd trouble and started shouting abuse at the Liverpool supporters, hopefully with the advent of mobile phones it wouldn't happen today. That abuse turned to a sense of 'o-oh' when bodies started to be laid in front of the Forest end with covers over them.

No one should go to a football match and not return. If there's one legacy those 96 tragic people have left it's that crowd safety, first aid cover, stewarding and policing at all league football grounds is now of the highest order.

From a Forest supporter's angle, this is worth a read.

Friday, 3 April 2009

AOL do it again

Why does this get my goat so much? I'm sorry not everyone lives in a 'cool' place. Living in 'cool' places normally means everything's more expensive and nobody talks to you. Besides, how do you define 'cool'? I suppose 'cool' places, in Britain at least, normally means London, Glasgow or Manchester. I doubt if you'd find anyone in New York who'd say "Hmm, this place isn't interesting enough for me, I'm off to Manchester!"
I can recommend the National Media Museum, by the way.
Edit: I'd like to point out, of course, that I'm immensely cool.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

April fool

Well, not much to report here. You'll have to get used to more sporadic blog posts as I don't enjoy all the internet access that I used to, and an immediate family member is going through a pretty major health scare at the minute.

Anyroad, have you seen - the incorrectly-titled - Chris Moyles' Quiz Night? If you haven't, then don't. A bigger dog's breakfast of an 'entertainment' show I've yet to see. I've nothing against ugly people on the telly, but I am against ugly cretins on the telly.
What I have been enjoying on the telly though are I've Never Seen Star Wars (and in Fawlty Towers and Dark Side of the Moon, Rory McGrath picked two things I'm a bit of an expert on), Genius (even though I've never previously had much time for Dave Gorman). I've also been watching - the incorrectly-titled - Monty Halls' Great Escape. If you've not seen it, and I don't think any of you will have done, it's about a rather enthusiastic bloke who chucks in his life for six months and goes to live in a crofter's bothy on the west coast of Scotland. Very idyllic. I reckon I could manage that, I don't mind my own company and as long as I had my iPod and stack of decent books I'd be in my element. Besides, the local village, Applecross, seems to have a ready supply of buxom, red-cheeked women who were all clamouring for his attention. I found that he was rather in love with his dog though, which was a worry.

I've finished Stuart Maconie's new book. For a travel book it left me oddly not wanting to visit many of the places in it. I suppose that's because I come from a smallish town in 'Middle England' and that's, er, what it's about. When you come from somewhere like this you tend to reach out either for the anonymity of the urban sprawl or, being British, for the taste of fish and chips on the seafront. He bigged-up Bath and Leamington Spa, two places I've been to myself and enjoyed immensely. He's cock on about Grantham though. I worked there for four years, and it's a really strange place (about a half mile down the same road as Thatcher's birthplace sits on, which was his reason for going). It's as though someone built a town in the middle of a bypass.
He goes to Cambridge, which is somewhere I've never been and always wanted to go to. I love Pink Floyd and want to go and immerse myself in the fabled Grantchester Meadows. There's a lovely Floyd promo film for the song Scarecrow, which features Syd Barrett and co frolicking on the Meadows. The colours are gorgeous. I might do that over the Easter break, go to Cambridge, it's not much more than an hour's drive from here.

I've also been dabbling in Spotify. I wanted to listen to a new album by a band called The Decemberists, and Spotify gave me it right there and then (I can highly recommend the album, by the way, if concept albums about infanticide and burying the bodies in enchanted woods is your thang). The other day I fancied listening to Deep Purple's Fireball, instead of rummaging around looking for the CD I just pulled up Spotify and set Fireball playing. Will it spell the end for purchased music? Not in my world, I like the feeling of ownership.

I watched Quantum of Solace on DVD last week, someone lent me it. Oh dear. I have to say I thought it was terrible. I couldn't really follow what was going on. It just seemed to be a load of action sequences stitched together with the faintest whiff of a story. There were no laughs, no Q, no Miss Moneypenny, no gadgets. The only light relief came with Gemma Arterton's character Strawberry Fields. That's right, they're naming Bond girls after Beatles' landmarks. What next? Penny Lane? Abi Rhode? And why can Bond seemingly control any vehicle? He was a master in a speedboat, a car, a commandeered motorcycle and a WWII DC3 aircraft.

As I was a Twitter denier, I've gone over to the dark side and joined. I knew it was a mistake the minute I did it and tried to delete my account. It wouldn't let me, "Twitter is stressed at this moment and can't perform that function." I've tried deleting it since and it won't let me. So I'm stuck with it. Why do they treat you like an imbecile? "Twitter is stressed", no it isn't, it's a website, it doesn't get 'stressed'. It's like those smoothie bottles that say stuff like "We've packed thirteen pieces of fruit in here because of all the yummy goodness, and we like to make sure you get your five-a-day because mummy can't be there all the time to make sure you do". I'm not a child.
So if anyone fancies following my mundane life on Twitter, then you can go and find me.

Just a quick thing about the Radcliffe and Maconie show on the 6th of April. Andy Partridge is on it and, if his previous appearances on Radcliffe shows are anything to go by, he makes for very entertaining listening.

Anyway, must go, but here's what I've been listening to just lately:

I love late 60s Rolling Stones, it's a goldmine, Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin' Jack Flash, this one's my favourite though.

Love this new single. Everyone says they here Kate Bush and Goldfrapp in this, weirdly, I hear All About Eve.

This has had a few plays on R & M. It should have been Britain's entry for this year's Eurovision, unfortunately, he's Norwegian, or summat.

Oasis don't pull any trees up musically. But I love this, they can still release a decent rock single every now and again.

Also listening to something called Kardomah Cafe by a band called The Cherry Boys, which was on the radio the other day. There's no You Tube clip for that though.

"Two sisters? I've never kissed two sisters"

Tom Jones has always made my flesh creep, and here's why. Not a dry seat in the house, as Andrew Loog Oldham used to say. Nice dancing near the end though.