Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ripping off each others clothes in a most peculiar way

Hello, people who read this shite. How are you? Oh dear, really? Oh well, never mind, it's nearly Christmas. Yeah, yeah, I'm not too bad, wish I could shake off this cold, but as The Boy Lard used to say  in his best Joe Gladwin voice "Musn't grumble!", but thanks for asking. As it's nearly Christmas I'll give you my highlights and lowlights package of 2010. Have a good Christmas and I hope that rash goes in 2011.

Lowlights - Groo!
  • The ceaseless march of Simon Cowell
  • The general election
  • Nick Clegg
  • The dick at the local VW dealership who sold me a car. Love the car, hate car salesmen
  • iPhone users. Stop being so smug. I consciously didn't choose the iPhone. I did that just so iPhone users could go "Of course, you should have got an iPhone"
  • iPad users. As it said in Viz Top Tips "Giants: an iPad makes a handily-sized iPhone."
  • Lady Gaga. Bored now
  • Survivors series 2. Terrible, gave up after episode 3
  • ITV dropping Dexter
  • The top 10 constantly featuring songs I don't know, usually by Tiny Temper ft. Mary Hinge or Jay Z ft. Mike Hunt
  • Nottingham Forest getting done over by Blackpool in the playoffs. I left the home leg with their lot shouting "Can we play you every week!?" ringing in my ears. Ooh, I was mardy
  • Radio 2 thinking it's okey-dokey to drop their best show down to three nights a week just so Jo Whiley can introduce five year old concert recordings of Roxy Music because they have to bow down to what the BBC governers' survey suggested
  • Mock the Week. Why is this still on?
  • Take Me Out. A televised cattle market presented by the world's unfunniest berk
  • Seeing Nick Griffin
  • Prolonged cold weather and snow
Highlights - Hooray!
  • Wilko Johnson at the Rescue Rooms
  • On a related note, Oil City Confidential
  • Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. A joy of a documentary DVD, this is why people love Rush
  • North Atlantic Oscillation's Grappling Hooks LP
  • The Divine Comedy's Bang Goes the Knighthood LP
  • Standing on top of one of Britain's highest mountains and marvelling at the view
  • 'Meeting' Billy Connolly
  • Micky Flanagan at Edinburgh. What a pity he picks such shit TV work
  • Stewart Lee's If You Prefer a Milder Comedian... DVD
  • Finally seeing The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
  • Finally getting round to learning to play the drums and stuff that goes with it like making new friends
Have a good Christmas. Here's some of my singles of the year that should have been massive but weren't:

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Electric Landlady

On Saturday it'll be 10 years since Kirsty MacColl died. I remember the day well, I was working for a well known crisp manufacturer at the time and the news came on the radio in the afternoon. I don't ever recall being so affected by a 'celeb' death before or since. I was too young to appreciate the enormity of Lennon's assassination, I vaguely remember Elvis's death, and although I was a big fan, it could hardly be said that the death of Kurt Cobain came as a massive shock.
I think it was the manner of her death which knocked me for six the most. It upset me that such a beautiful person could die in an horrific manner, the only comfort was that she was trying to save her kids. I've always found it upsetting that nobody has ever been properly brought to justice over her death and the campaign to get justice has had to be wound up.
You see, I'm a massive fan. Not only was she a songwriter of enormous talent herself but she was also one of the great interpreters of other people's songs. Try her takes on The Kinks' Days (her version of which got played at my dad's funeral), Billy Bragg's New England or the less well known cover of The Smith's You Just Haven't Earned it Yet Baby.
I was lucky enough to have seen her live twice. The first time was at a free festival organised by a brewery for which I was lucky to receive two passes allowing me and a mate to watch her from the side of the stage (my boss handed me the passes saying "'Ere you like music, this is tonight, the Heineken rep's left 'em. Someone called Kirsty McEwan's on." I didn't need asking twice). Of course, I swooned, she looked gorgeous in a purple velvet dress. The second time at Leicester De Montfort University when she was promoting her greatest hits set, Galore. I seem to remember getting as close to the stage as I could without looking like a stalker.
And as well as her prowess as a songwriter and performer there was that voice. Nobody has sounded like her before or since. Stunning. No wonder she was always in demand for backing vocals and duets.
I quite often find Morrissey a tiresome bugger these days but I love what he said about her: "She has great songs and a crackin' bust." I love that, and no doubt Kirsty did too. As I also think she'd have loved Lemmy's view of her that "She was a top bird, was Kirsty".
Sleep well, Kirsty.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Hey nonny-nonny

Did you have a nice weekend watching telly? I did. I was struck by two programmes on BBC4 about traditional music and dance. First up was Charles Haywood's Come Clog Dancing, where the conductor tried to get the people of the North East reinterest in their tradition of clog dancing. Sounds like a bit of a dry old subject, eh? Well, I quite enjoyed it, and thefalsh mob manner in which it was done - in the centre of Newcastle - was a stroke of genius.
The second programme featured the Unthank sisters. I don't know if you know then but they're a couple of sisters from Northumberland who sing folk songs and incorporate clog dancing into their live shows. I've always found their music a little dreary and Rachel Unthank has a tendency to have a fasce like a slapped arse most of the time. they certainly livened up on Still Country Dancing After All These Years. Yes, that's right country dancing. I'm talking morris dancing here. I know that morris dancing sends a shiver up my spine, let alone yours. BUT it is a great English tradition, isn't it? We know all about the Irish and Scottish traditional music and dance, but being English you're supposed to be embarrassed by anything traditional. Why is that? Unfortunately for me I'm as English as they come, yes it would be nice to have a bit of Scots fire or Irish heart in my blood but I'm about as Anglo-Saxon as you can get (fair hair, blue eyes both parents families from the east of England. I've even got the most Anglo-Saxon name imaginable).
So this programme went around different parts of England over the summer months discovering old Englaish dance traditions. Yes, I know Cotswold morris can be tiresome (think flowers around hats, bells around ankles, hankies and a  pewter tankard attached to the belt), but some of the real Pagan stuff is terrific, I think. For example, who wouldn't want to go to Padstow during the Obby Oss festival in early May? I know I'd love to go. For those unfamilliar with the Obby Oss, a man dresses as a 'horse' and entices local maidens under the horse's skirt where they become fertile. I reckon that's great. I love the way these traditions are usually about fertility; it always makes me laugh that the Maypole that primary school children dance around is a representation of the penis. Not only that, but seeing someone getting twatted over the head with an inflated pig's bladder is always funny.
Anyway, with all that fertility and Rachel Unthank lightening up rather a lot I started having improper thoughts about two Northumbrian singing sisters myself.
Here's a song about reviving English tradition (although I do find Show of Hands a little worthy sometimes), unfortunately it's come onto the BNP fuckwit radar just recently. Looks like we'll have to claim it back. Why do they spoil everything?

What I don't recommend you watch is something else that was on BBC4 over theweekend called Folk at Christmas. It was rotten. It was like a folk The Good Old Days with those tiresome fuckers Bellowhead. The audience were dressed like pricks, the Unthanks were back in misery mode and the compere thought he was funny. Avoid.