Thursday, 1 December 2011

Friday 2nd December

That's it. The big rush at work is over. Now it's time to kick back and enjoy the winter.

It's a season I love, and one that transforms the surrounding countryside into a blissful idyll. There's many a good walk to take on, either round the local marshland or across the fields to the areas where the deer roam. This time last year, the fields were covered in a foot of snow and I took a walk. I was a great moment, although it was absolutely knackering.

There were some great songs that day. The Lark by Kate Rusby and Moby's Wait for Me being just two.

However, there was one song that stood out from all the others. The album had only been released a month, so I was just getting used to it, but with the Bees you're rarely disappointed.

It's really beyond me why they aren't more popular. But anyway, that's nothing to do with me - back to the song.

Free the Bees is a properly outstanding album, with at least seven brilliant songs. Sunshine Hit Me and Octopus are also well worth owning. Last year, the Isle of Wight collective released their fourth album, Every Step's a Yes.

Even from just the first three songs I knew I loved it. I Really Need Love and Winter Rose are brilliant, but it is track three I'm obsessed with this week.

Music to me can be seasonal. For instance, at the first sign of summer I crack out the Nick Drake, winter is good for folk and other relaxing stuff.

However, Silver Line fits into all seasons. Listen to it and you can imagine lying on a sun-drenched field as shards of sunlight drift through the sky. Likewise, you can imagine yourself walking through the snow-covered fields. Either way, it'll make you happy.

Listen to it, love it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday 25th November

This is it - the arse end of November. This is when work gets tough. Well, as tough as my work gets. It's the time of weekend work, overtime every day and the monster night shifts.

And what for? Essentially it's so people can find out what time the Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing is on. Yup, that's right...

But it's not actually the work that I mind, I quite enjoy it. It gives me a sense that we're actually doing something important. Judge for yourself whether that's the case, but I expect I could guess the answer.

The thing that bothers me is - dare I say it -
the people. All I want to do is crack on with my work and do it in something that resembles peace. I don't want to have to overhear a 20 minute rambling story about someone pinching someone's hat and then giving it them back. How can such a story be five times longer than the actual event yet with zero percent of the interest?

Yes, the hours are long and, due to the time of year, it's rare to see daylight. But give me that any day over hearing some goliath 15 metres away waffle on about the mountain of food it's consumed since it was last at work. Believe me, it takes quite some time to trot out that list.

Essentially, what I'm saying is I'm a grouch. I make no bones about that. Do away with open-plan offices and box me in a small room. I'll be happy there.

I might even be able to think of a song that isn't this:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Friday 18th November

Does ecstasy actually work? Probably, but that's by the by. The reason I ask is that some acid house/rave songs seem to make me joyously happy despite being stone-cold sober.

This week's track is one of them. In fact, it's surely one of the best and most uplifting songs ever.

I'd known this song many, many years ago - back in the early 90s when I used to go round to a friend's house and listen to her older brother's vinyls. It was a good collection. Off the top of my head, I remember Insomniak by DJPC, Mr Roy's Saved, and later he had Smashing Pumpkins and Beck. But there was one I'd always come back to...

However, the years passed and I became more familiar with a different version of the song. That was, until last year when I rediscoverd it - somewhat fortunately. As Primal Scream were playing Glastonbury this year just gone, I was looking for some of their old stuff that had perhaps passed me by.

That's when I rediscovered the Terry Farley mix of Come Together. And Jesus, it's good.

When they came onto stage at Glastonbury, I was tucking in to some noodles. So there I was, dancing to Movin' On Up with a box of noddles in my hand. But things were going to get much better, somehow. Later on, with a carton of wine in my hand, the band merged Wetherall and Farley's versions of Come Together. It was fantastic, but it was Farley's part that really got me.

I've listened to it many a time since, but it was the other day that really brought it on home. Listening to music in the shower, I felt tired and bored of work. Then it came on and really brightened up my day. It's that good that it'd even make a brilliant wedding song.

There's one curious thing about it though - why the hell is it not on YouTube?

Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Friday 4th November

A very melancholy song for a very melancholy week. The nights are drawing in; the weather is definitely autumnal (about time); and I'm drawn back to a song from an old favourite.

It's also a song that reminds me of someone I knew at university. I don't think I'll reveal her name, she'll remain the song isn't very complimentary - it's Jens Lekman's Psychogirl. A beautiful song still maintaining the wry humour the Swede is renowned for.

It's not an easy subject matter to make light of and Lekman doesn't. However, there are definitely brief moments that bring a smile to the old face. Perhaps it's the delivery.

I really can't explain how similar this song is to my experience. The first verse, apart from the post office bit, is virtually spot-on. It's quite unfortunate that this is the only song that I can truly relate to!

Oh, and don't worry, it's not eight minutes long, it's only five. Listen and feel as content as I am....

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Friday 28th October

Not sure where this one came from, apart from being a much-loved song from my teenage years. However, one of the final lines in the song realy seemed quite appropriate.

Again, I'm not entirely sure why. There's no reports in the news of mass racial unrest, even if it does appear to be simmering under at the moment.

The lines in question read "So go ahead and label me/An asshole cause I can/Accept responsibility, for what I've done/But not for who I am". I think it sums up how to solve a lot of potential problems in this day and age. Too many times we hear the phrases 'bloody Americans' or 'bloody Poles, stealing our jobs' and things such as those. But these generalisations are often as wrong as they are idiotic.

For instance, was it every American's decision to go to war in Iraq? No. Sure, some may have wanted to, but it was only the nation's leaders who had the ultimate decision. As the many protests in London revealed, it wasn't the UK's desire to enter the conflict either, yet we still did.

Likewise, why are Polish workers wrong for upping sticks and searching for work to earn a living and support their family? First of all, the generalisation of Eastern Europeans such as Latvians, Lithuanians, Romanians etc as "Poles" really grinds my gears.

Essentially what those lines are saying is, let's judge everyone by their own, personal actions, rather than the actions of people of the same race who have no other relation to each other.

Wise words from the 'clown princes of political punk'. I often wonder if the band's clowning around detracts from their otherwise spot-on messages. Then again, I'm thankful that musicians can be both serious and fun-loving.

The song, as you shall see below, is NOFX's Don't Call Me White.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Friday 21 October

A "bumper" two-week edition of That Was the Song of the Week That Was this week.

I had something all set for last week, but news came to me that changed that, exciting news. News that I'd often heard before but never believed. Somehow, last week's news seemed more believable.

All I could do was wait.

It was definitely worth the wait. Tuesday's announcement was greeted with sheer delight on my behalf. However, this morning was fraught to say the least. I was right to be worried. Two gigs and 150,000 tickets sold in 14 minutes and I wasn't one of them. Fortunately, a friend was on the ball while I was at work and quickly snapped up some tickets for a third date - this one also selling out frighteningly quickly.

So who am I talking about? If you haven't already guessed, I'll give you a subtle clue...

What was that? The Stone Roses? Well done, you guessed it. Manchester here I come.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Friday 7th October

James were always a bit of an enigma to me. They were part of the "Madchester" scene, but never struck me as one for some unknown reason.

In 1990, at the age of about 10, I remember first hearing my dad's eponymous Stone Roses album and Kinky Afro plus Step On by the Happy Mondays. I instantly loved them and was a firm fan of Madchester music

But James didn't seem to fit in with these. Shaun Ryder and Ian Brown had a swagger about them (that may be quite an understatement), but Tim Booth seemed to engage more with the listener. Born of Frustration and Sit Down were frequently listened to by me, yet they seemed at odds with the likes of Kinky Afro and I Wanna Be Adored.

Over the next few years I got into the Inspiral Carpets and the Charlatans. These immediately became lumped in with the other great Madchester bands. Tim Burgess had the swagger, while the Carpets had the lollopy music

The other big difference between James and the others was the tender songs. On 1993's Laid album, James took this to a new level. Sometimes is quite upbeat but still loving. Say Something is even more tender.

But the one that eclipses all others is the opening track, Out to Get You. It's a truly beautiful track: heartbreaking and blissful at the same time. It also contains a melodica - something not very common in traditional Madchester songs.