Thursday, April 30, 2015

bus vibes #8 - split enz

hello there

my my, April has been something of a bumper month for posts, as it not? it would seem, look you see, that it averages out at more than one a day. i can only hope that at least one or two, if only by accident, have been worth the time it took to read them, then.

bus vibes, then. today? it was The Stranglers. i think i actually intended to listen to them yesterday, got terribly confused and then went with Split Enz. so today's post is all about the Australian-New Zealand new wave, new romantic super pop group combo that gets nowhere near enough love worldwide as you would think they should.

for many years i was able to keep my complete works of Split Enz on my ipod. in recent times, however, with Apple's desire to wipe my ipod from time to time when i undertake the challenge of adding new music, i have resigned myself to the fact that maybe Apple are even bigger twats than i think they are, which is a lot, and they don't like Split Enz. perhaps including all of their music is just a bit too intimidating for them. i limit, then, their presence on my ipod, to see if that appeases the great mysteries of why Apple won't let you just do what you want with a product you buy off of them.

Split Enz have, over the years, been subject to some of the most bizarre and flabbergasting dismissive comments i have heard, to be honest. more than once i have seen it said that "all" Tim Finn, and to an extent his brother Neil (more on him later) did was "take Beatles records, 70s records - in particularly Abba - get influenced by them, write songs and melodies inspired by the parts they liked and produced them to the same high standards (mostly) of the bands mentioned there". wow, so that's a bad thing is it? well, please do excuse me. the bands they were influenced by is written large in their songs, less spoken of perhaps is their influence on others. Split Enz, alas, may not have sold all that well outside of Australia, but certain people in the UK - Depeche Mode, Trevor Horn, Duran Duran, Culture Club, etc, etc, i be looking at you - certainly heard them and liked what they heard. not liked and stole, more sort of liked and wished to emulate. and why not.

on to the music, then, and Frenzy. which, i see, someone is selling on amazon for a mere £334.69. yeah, up to you, but maybe do a download. it's good, but it's not that good.

not that good as in it didn't even make the top ten in the band's native lands of Australia and New Zealand. so, really, do not spend that much on it.

the two outstanding tracks here are I See Red, a frenetic (as the album title would suggest, i guess) quality single which seems to be, in retrospect, the melting point at which the energy of punk melted into the sophistication of new wave, and She's Got Body, She's Got Soul. the latter one is better known, to the more cultured and insightful of you, as Body & Soul, for that is how the band reworked the song and handed it over to Jo Kennedy to perform - brilliantly and astonishingly - on the soundtrack of the mega ace boss brilliant film Star Struck. if you can find it, see it, and if you are reading Mushroom Records, please release it on CD, or at least one of those download things - my tape and vinyl of it are all but knacked, thank you.

a snippet of that last song, in really low quality? but of course.

yeah, i probably could have played that a bit louder when i recorded it. hey ho, off you go if not to pay some significant coins of money for the CD, then in the direction of that you tube thing or something.

hopefully what comes through when you hear it properly is the magnetism and magic of Tim Finn the frontman. a challenging, daring and provocative singer, he really was something else, and hope that he is out there performing still. 

True Colours is an album that you can get at a very sensible price on CD these days, at the least. nice that this one is more accessible.

this was the follow up to Frenzy, and did manage to make some sort of impact on the charts in the US and the UK. probably in other European countries too (not that the US is), but i can't be bothered to check on that, sorry.

highlights? the whole album, from start to finish. oh, go on then. Shark Attack is a great album opener in general and specifically a great song. What's The Matter With You, I Hope I Never and, in particular, Missing Person are remarkable all around songs, with both featuring impressive lyrics back with some great pop music. the standout moment, though, and for me the crowning glory moment of the band that is Split Enz, is I Got You. it's a song that stands as three minutes of pop perfection. it was a minor hit around the world, but was heard by all the right people - over the years big American acts such as Pearl Jam and Marilyn Manson have done decent takes on it.

please seek a decent copy of it, but for now here is a quick snippet.

I Got You was a Neil Finn composition. at the end, or if you like enz, of the era of Split Enz, Neil of course went on to form Crowded House. that band got all of the worldwide fame, accolades and money that somehow evaded the Enz. interestingly, though Crowded House's biggest success was the Woodface era, when one Tim Finn briefly joined the band.

a number of songs could be considered the finest moment of Split Enz. Six Months In A Leaky Boat would be a close call from me, as would History Never Repeats and Dirty Creature. for me, though, I Got You is the perfect pop moment that many bands spend their entire careers trying to be as good as. the more that achieve that, the better for all music lovers.

any chance of a Split Enz revival? unlikely. if so much as one person reads all this, however, goes off and tries them and discovers that yeah, this band was damned good, then i have done something towards fixing the great wrong that is the fact this band has been overlooked and not considered for so long.

if my bus vibes adventures continue - i appreciate these posts are for some reason popular, but i am starting to miss my reading - then i may well return to Australia for some Mental As Anything soon. for now, though, go check out Split Enz, and brace yourselves for The Stranglers tomorrow, or whenever i do a bus vibes update next.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

memories of fraser

hello there

well, well, look you see, look what's on tv here at the moment. actually, if you can work it out from this screenshot alone, go buy yourself a coconut or other suitable, similar prize.

yes, the joys of Oz. easily one of the most brutal yet brilliant television shows that i have ever seen. it's a HBO show, and i would argue one that is even more brutal than what one sees in their current flavour of the month, Game Of Thrones, no matter how hard that show tries. possibly because there's always that very real, clear and present danger of Oz actually happening to people. with no dragons or massive ice monsters around, Game Of Thrones does not quite carry that "this could happen to you" threat.

i am fondly reminded of Fraser. Fraser and i were equally excited by this show and, the day after each episode, we would from time to time re-enact the exploits of Beecher, Schillinger, Adebisi and co at verk. well, not full on re-enactments, but pretty close.

a glimpse of the credit music? certainly, step this way.

am i watching it all again? hell no. even though it's, what, 15 or so years since i saw it, i can remember the whole thing quite vividly, thank you, and i have no wish to endure it again. that it lingers in the mind that much is probably testimony to just how good it is, or if you like was. also, it wouldn't be the same watching it and then the next day not having Fraser grab the first person that walked by (usually Sinbad or Jason) and recreate the, as it were, highlights.

would i suggest that you, dear reader, watch Oz? depends on what your threshold his for the truly unsettling and disturbing, both psychologically and physically. it's harsh, man.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

king of the ring

hello there

and first, then, an apology for all of you who are reading this and expect it to be about some filipino dude and some black dude having a bout of fisticuffs at the weekend. it looks all splendid and magnificent, but as i do not have the equipment or the coins of money to throw at watching it, i guess i will just be - with some interest - catching the result the next day and the highlights at some point, look you see.

no, this post is in homage to the real king of the ring. James has, of late, taken a shine to all that WWF or WWE stuff, whatever they call it now. as a consequence i have had to purchase some of those card collection things for him.

have a gander at who he got in a packet today.

yes, the class that is the Honkytonk Man, or if you like the Honky Tonk Man. which is the correct way to write it? who cares, he is class either way.

one of the first ever WWF / WWE things i saw, i guess it would have been a Wrestlemania thing back in the late 80s, featured him standing in the ring shouting into a microphone "gimme someone to wrestle here, i don't care who it is". not long after, someone called Ultimate Warrior stormed into the ring and absolutely battered him in a matter of seconds. it was, and remains, one of the funniest things i have ever seen.

anyway, i will leave you to admire this card, and ponder on the stats he is awarded; stats that for me belie his sheer entertainment value.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bus vibes #7 - guns n roses

hello there

today was the day that i forgot, look you see, who i planned to have a listen to. the somewhat unexpected rains we had this morning washed away my concentration and thought. as a consequence, i played it safe and went with a bit of Split Enz. but that's today and for another post. yesterday it was the turn of Guns N Roses, and so this is all my thoughts and musings on the band and their (ahem) most recent album.

yes, i went for Chinese Democracy to have a listen to, and i suspect just mentioning the album has just got my blog banned in China, if it wasn't already. hey ho.

in short? what an astonishing album; one you have to say is somewhat overlooked despite selling millions of copies - no easy thing in this day and age. if you disagree with that view, whether from hearing it or on the basis of its reputation, you are welcome to opt out of this post now.

there are many myths around this album. the top one is, of course, the one which claims it too Axl something like 15 years to record it. not quite true. it was the first new Guns N Roses release in 15 years, but that's not to say that he spent all that time recording this one. in between certain legal issues and getting rid of certain members (more on him later, if i decide to waffle), Axl, it is reported, recorded at least 2 albums, possibly 3, before this one came along. whither the other albums? they were deemed to be not good enough by his (massive ego enhanced) standards, and so got ditched. is it that people would have preferred the alternate? for Guns N Roses to release a sub-standard album just for the trivialities of time?

before i get accused of being an Axl apologist, i would say that i still stand by this post, which some 400 of you have already read.

Chinese Democracy, to get back on point, is a stunning album. each track is produced to perfection - not over produced, not under produced, just delivered to sheer perfection. the layers of music, the detail, the range of vocals that Axl gives means that one gets something new from it with every play, even now, some 7 years later. if you click the link in yellow above, you can get a copy of it for three pounds in coins of money, should you not have it.

and yes, the guitar is good. there is no Slash sized gap on this album. i don't quite get how it is that Slash managed to come out of the end of the "classic era" Guns N Roses as the good guy. Slash, i believe, was dismissed when he produced a sub-standard guitar performance on a pointless, contractually obliged cover of Sympathy For The Devil. a cover that was still going to have the name of Guns N Roses on it, and so standards were expected to be maintained. there are many that claim that Guns N Roses "ended when Slash left"; strange then that those many would seem not to buy millions of his records. and yeah, i do like Slash's solo stuff, i just don't get why he's the hard done by angel in the story of Guns N Roses.

usually putting the music of Axl Rose on the internet is a very good way of meeting the lawyers of Axl Rose in a professional capacity, but let's see if i get away with a few seconds of the greatest song on Chinese Democracy, for me at least, There Was A Time. and yes, i think the acronym is quite deliberate.

yeah, poor quality - please seek out a decent copy of it on CD, it is worth it.

what, then, "destroyed" Guns N Roses, in the sense that they vanished between, say, 1995 and 2008? the same thing that destroyed The Stone Roses and, arguably, didn't help save Nirvana and their troubled frontman. step forward and take a bow, Geffen Records.

Geffen Records are, or were, idealist hippies, presumably all emotional and excited about a 70s idea of music that it was all mountains of cocaine, loads of sex, dudes and ladies making music all the time and mountains of money rolling in. this is the idea one gets with their approach of sending bands off to make music "in their own time" and giving them an awful lot of money to do so, taking it as a given that absolute fortunes would roll in.

Geffen took it as a given that every artist was either Bowie or U2, with a drive and passion to make music, or that they were Jagger and the $tone$, with a wish to make as much money as possible to support Ronnie Wood's love of divorce and beyond. they lost sight of the fact that some bands quite need a Peter Grant, maybe a Brian Epstein or George Martin, or even an Ian Faith figure - that formidable, larger than life manager and mentor figure who commands fear and respect.

as a consequence, Geffen indulged Axl Rose's bizarre, egotistical wish to release two double albums, the Use Your Illusion records, on the same day. a better strategy might have been to hold on to the material and release an album every 2 - 3 years. the same thinking saw them opt to give The Stone Roses as much money and access to drugs as they liked, assuming that they would just simply make music and not twat around in Wales on quad bikes. most damningly, although i have not yet watched Montage Of Heck, there's not much evidence that the label felt that they should put some extra care, management and protection around Kurt Cobain when he was clearly a troubled soul.

yeah, after Chinese Democracy finished, i did indeed go right ahead and play some of Appetite For Destruction for the remainder of my bus travels.

any good? oh hell yes. other than filling the void left by the departure of (proper) Van Halen and fighting off the mock rock sound of Bon Jovi, it just exists as an astonishing record in its own right. nearly 30 years old and it's insanely good.

perfect album? ha ha ha, no. all too often the lyrics are a whole load of bloated, egotistical nonsense. their constant claims of people trying to knock them and bring them down - mindful of the fact that they were absolute no ones when they recorded this - are on paper as farcical, cringe-worthy and as embarrassing to sit through as New Kids On The Block's ill-fated effort to sound like the hard men of their hood on the oh my word, please say this is meant to be a comedy thing record Hangin' Tough. but that's on paper. Axl's vocal performance, of course, makes all the difference.

i've long argued the case that the world wants and needs Axl Rose, or an Axl Rose like figure, more than he particularly wants or cares for the world. we want, crave and need rock gods, and his sheer force of belief that he was the greatest ever was backed up with performances - from time to time - saying that maybe he could well have been. hey ho.

there is not a lot to be gained, despite me doing just that in this post, from mulling over what might have been with the band that was, maybe still is, Guns N Roses. probably just best to simply enjoy what we have of them instead, then. which i did, very much so.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

day of release

hi there

yes, indeed, one of those things that has been lacking of late - a trip to the HMV proprietor to purchase an item of some consequence, look you see, upon the day that it was released. oh yes, i am still very much delighted to be able to do this.

what was it being released this week? no, not the Blur album, which doesn't, alas, sound like anything all that great. not an album, as point of fact, although HMV, as you can see below, did all that they could to try and encourage me to purchase a 5th or 6th edition of certain records.

yes, the much vaunted, much celebrated and highly praised documentary film Montage Of Heck, with the documentary being a look - insight if you will - into the life of Kurt Cobain. 

am i a Nirvana fan? i certainly don't mind them, but yes as point of fact this was bought mostly for the benefit of my (considerably) better half, who thinks they are one of the greatest bands ever. i would say that Nevermind is one of the all time great albums, and that Unplugged and the song You Know You're Right hinted that Nirvana were heading for U2 / Rolling Stones like levels of success and audience. not that the audience wasn't already massive.

a field bereft of cows on a sunny, but somewhat cold and rather crisp (yes, Faye, that last one just for you) morning? sure, here, have a gander, as they might say in Australia.

in the early  90s, say 91 - 93, music was more or less dominated by American band. specifically Nirvana, Metallica, Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam. the only resistance the rest of the world threw at this was U2, when it was still OK to like them in public. strange, as by 94-95, the focus was back on Britain making the best music in the world. who does now? difficult to say. as going concerns, America has Jack White, we have Kasabian, and that's it on that truly large scale interest thing.

as noted, somewhat exemplified by the poster in the window, HMV at least got the release of Montage Of Heck right where they so dismally got the release of No Manifesto all wrong. no shoving it in next to One Direction and making the fans dig around for it this time, kids, it was on the shelf as you walked in the door.

was i at all tempted to buy either Exodus or a bizarre remake of Annie? nope. although now that i look at that picture i see Intersetllar is also out. oh whoops, well, will get it and watch it eventually. i still haven't seen this Inception thing.

no, we haven't watched Montage Of Heck yet, so I can't really say any more on the subject. i suspect we will watch it soon, though, we would just need to find two hours to do it. in the mean time, then, washing machine stuff.

a little while ago i made a claim that my washing machine could perform a satisfactory, acceptable version of Cavatina. this morning, at about 6:20am, i decided to make a video of this, and here it is.

yes, ok, it's not the best, but it was early in the morning, i was on half a cup of coffee and one cigarette, i could not remember the order to press the buttons to make it play it properly. but you do, hopefully, get the idea. i mean, sure, the washing machine is no Hank Marvin, but for a washing machine it's a pretty good go at the song.

finally, then, a bit of a public service announcement, or if you like warning. look what i saw on the road the other day, outside verk, and across from the Bongo. something deadly and dangerous, apparently.

no, not the cigarettes, the sort of silver bullet like item next to it. rather interestingly, possibly thankfully, for the moment it seems that cigarettes are not seen as the worst thing ever.

that, i think is one of them popper sort of things that are popular with the kids, containing some sort of upper or helium thing. this sort of thing now gets called a "hippy high" or something by the press, and has become ever so popular with professional footballers.

i am, alas, of an age where inhaling helium off of a balloon was considered a perfectly normal, fun and exciting thing to do whenever you got your hands on a helium balloon. it makes your voice go all squeaky; it's boss it is. now apparently it is the single most vile, dangerous and lethal thing in the world. i am sure somewhere a newspaper has reported that if you so much as think of inhaling helium you will go straight into a coma, end up in a hospital and be molested sexually by a DJ with the full knowledge of both Parliament and state broadcasters. so be warned.

not a lot more i could add to that, so will leave it there.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bus vibes #6 - frankie goes to hollywood

hello there

well, there you go - another week, another set of vibes it would appear, look you see. i was considering a return to reading, indeed i had a suitable paperback with me, but then i thought no, why not listen to some more tunes. will i be doing so for the week entire? no idea at this stage, but it's possible.

today, as shall be commented on later - most likely tomorrow, if i can muster the energy - it was Guns N Roses. this is, however, yesterday i write of, and yesterday i wanted the boost of my all time favourite band of all time, which would be Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

yeah, i think that somehow i have been doing this blog for 11 years now. which means that there are 11 years of sporadic, random and no doubt overzealous celebrations and worshipping of all thinks Frankie here for you already. i will try and curtail all that somewhat here.

why, of all the many artists that i love so dearly, are Frankie number one? everyone has that "one band" or "one singer" that really just did it for them as they grew up, yeah? mine was Frankie.

i could, and probably have, get all philosophical and that about it; seek to understand and explain. the, like, totes simples version, however, is that they created a staggeringly amazing sound that is just as awesome now as it was 30 years ago.

what Frankie did i listen to? i just skipped through selected favourites from some of the compilations i have loaded onto the ipod, specifically Sex Mix Volume 1 (with volume 2 seeming unlikely to ever happen), Frankie Said and a really strange, we (with we being Frankie fans) think originating in Germany 2 CD set called The Best Of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, which came with a smart poster. i see yet another compilation, this time putting the same songs on disc but with the novelty of them being housed in a tin,  is due out later this year. yeah, probably would be the answer to if i will be buying it.

a snippet for you? well, why not. as i would imagine that you have all heard the likes of Relax and Two Tribes again and again, here's a taste of something different. it's a superb cover of Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? that was intended as a b-side but never, for a number of reasons, got released at the time. it has since appeared on a couple of compilations.

why did i want to have Frankie on? well, i knew i had a pretty tough sort of tele-conference thing at verk that day. i suppose they went on as a sort of "go to my happy place" type of thing, then. did it work? well, the tele-conference could have gone better, but hey ho, i am still here, the world's not stopped.

it's a bit hard, you know, for me to say "go and buy Frankie's music", because the band get very little money for their hard work. the deal they signed - which they confess they did with eyes wide open and blame no one for it - means they get something like 1/8th of 1p of all sales, after "costs". the record label rather ruthlessly enforces this, which they are entitled to i suppose, but it would maybe have been nice if they had said "thank you for making us millionaires several times over, please let us renegotiate a fairer deal for you". but it's none of my business.

instead, then, i would wholeheartedly encourage you to invest in the solo careers of Holly, Nasher and Paul, if you are in LA (man) go and support Mark in his musical endeavours, and understand and respect the fact that Ped values his privacy and, whilst is happy to have created many memories for millions of fans, doesn't really like to dwell on it all.

will Frankie ever get together again? well, if they took ownership of their own music i'd like to think they would want to sit down and present their music and their story properly. beyond that, i very much doubt it. which is not really a shame, as it's not something they want to do, and it would be terrible to see a band you have loved most of your life feel obliged to be together rather than wanting to be.

Guns N Roses, then, in the next bus vibes update.

to be stolen or bought.

Monday, April 27, 2015

the top gear presenter of hearts plate

hello there

oh i do, look you see, i so do really want to win this thing!

Viz, the self-styled magazine that is better than nothing, has opted to celebrate recent news events, as they are so inclined to do, with a specially commissioned limited plate. there are fifty up for grabs, and as you will see my entry is on its way today.

what plate and what news event? well, the most famous fracas in the world.

oh yes, i agree, it looks amazing. what a splendid, marvellous and downright superb way to celebrate a minor incident which  brought and abrupt end to careers and a hugely successful TV show.

when this all happened - which is to say that Jeremy Clarkson apparently punched a producer of his TV show when no hot food was available - we at verk had a conversation that i would be quite sure that happened in place of verk around the world. which is to say we said "you can't go around punching people at work and not expect to get the sack". which was of course followed by "actually, there probably is someone that could get away with it". no one in any place of verk is indispensable, but one or two, i would suggest, everywhere, have a higher threshold of indispensability.

is it me at my place of verk? goodness no. other than the fact that i wouldn't be inclined to hit anyone, i would imagine it would be a very straightforward thing to replace my services. besides, we kind of try our best to all just get along, and anyway there are loads of places near our office where you can get as much hot food as you would like.

yeah, that's a photocopy of the entry page i made there. i have, after all, a collection of Viz that goes back some 30 years. none of those are cut up, so as much as i wish to win this plate i wasn't going to start taking the scissors to an edition now. will this hamper my chances of winning? i hope not.

although it says there are only 50 of them, i would wager that they will shove more of them out for sale at some point. they always do with things like this. oh, actually, now that i have had a look, they are indeed making these Top Gear Presenter Of Hearts plates available for sale.  for no less than the strange and specific figure of £24.98 in coins of money. at that price, i believe yes, indeed i would much rather like to win one of them than pay quite that much for it.

yes, that's my entry, all ready to post. i thought it would be a nice touch to put it in one of them magnificent yellow envelopes that i was all so briefly excited about earlier in the year.

my chances of winning were increased somewhat by the news that Spiros has opted not to enter this competition. he is holding out for them doing a Life Of Clarkson In Cats thing to go along with his magnificent Life Of Christ In Cats tea towel that he bought. from what i recall, Spiros didn't even look at the price of it - he just posted Viz his credit card and told them to keep charging and charging it until the bank would honour it no more as a thank you for bringing that particular item into his life. well, it is quite smart, i suppose, and it no doubt gets put to sensational use by Spiros.

it will be sensational if, in a month or so, i can report on my winning this item. if not, well, i have given it a go, and best of luck to all others who enter. but i really would love to win it!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As You Do by James Rooney

Hi there

A couple of posts ago, dear reader, I did make mention that this blog had gone all music of late and, look you see, that some more music – something specific – was coming along. The coming along is here.  I’ve been given the single As You Do by James Rooney to review. 


How did I come to be in this position? A mutual friend connected me to the artist. James was looking for music lovers who ran blogs and could be trusted to give an honest opinion on what he’s doing. Our mutual friend, within moments, thrust my name into the mix. Thank you G-Man.

But you are here, or are still here, to read of this single, not of my social activities (or, yeah, lack thereof, I suppose).  Short version? It’s good. Very good. Has all the hallmarks of a catchy, pop tune of note, and reveals a potential for the artist to reach a very wide audience.

There should be a link to it around here, I would suggest you give it a click and give the song a listen before you go on.

Every new artist that comes along – singer, painter, actor, writer – gets compared to those that have come before. It does feel unfair, sometimes, but it’s just the easy way to get a point of reference. Apologies, then, for taking the easy way.

First reaction? It reminded me somewhat of that formulative era of The Who, A Quick One through to Sell Out. The lyrics have the same whimsical, playful way, and the music is certainly what used to get called “radio friendly” when radio stations played actual music. It somewhat lacks, though, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that aggressive, “we might just stop doing this and kick your or each other’s heads in” just now generally associated with The Who. Imagine, if you will, that The Who stopped fighting each other and instead decided to style their sound as direct competition to, say, The Kinks or maybe even Pink Floyd, although in regards of the latter there’s no overt psychedelic spin on the go here. 

Problems with the song? Just a section in the middle and the end where the vocals, the guitar and what I thought was piano but actually turns out to be a guitar too were fighting with each other. And it was not just me fooled on the sound – when I told my (considerably) better half that it was a guitar, not a piano, that we were hearing, the reaction was “no way”. We both agree that either pushing up the vocal, or making the one guitar that sounds like a guitar a touch less “tinny”, would give it a boost.

picture by JGB Photography

Vocals? The first name that came to mind was Sting. I appreciate that this will, for a great many people of the planet, have immediate negative connotations. Set aside, dear reader, thoughts and ideas of the somewhat peculiar person Sting is; concentrate on those vocals he once upon a time gave that made him famous in the first instance. Not that James is a “Sting tribute” – there’s a similarity, but on the go hear is a deeper range. One that I, for what it’s worth, really like.

I love Kasabian. I will never love them, however, like I do a Frankie, a Stone Roses, a Smiths or even, yes, a U2 purely because the vocals don’t sit quite right on the awesome songs. I don’t have that issue here at all.

Single reviews in NME never went on this long, did they? Certainly not in Smash Hits.

To round this off then, kind of, would this fit or if you like slot onto any album by anyone I consider to have a similar sound? The answer is yes, and it would be “killer” rather than “filler” on it. For a glimpse of a broader audience of this song, my (considerably) better half was bobbing her head along, our eldest son was doing air guitar to it and our youngest son was going “do do doodoo doo do do do” to it. I guess our house, it is fair to say, are looking forward to following and supporting James Rooney, and certainly look forward to hearing more.

Well, all that’s left for me to do here is to once again encourage you to give the single a try. It does not, as far as I know, cost you anything beyond the calories lost by clicking on the link to hear it, or the three or so very splendid minutes listening.

Thanks to James for the preview copy, thanks to G Man for connecting me, and most of all thank you very much for taking the time to read and giving this a listen.

Be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

washing machine washing in action

hello there

those of you who read this blog regularly will have noticed that lately there has been an increase in comments which commence with the statement "those of you who read this blog regularly". and this is another one of them, look you see, so don't say you were not warned.

those of you who read this blog regularly (see i told you), and have done so over the years (that was a surprise i threw in for you) will be quite aware of my longstanding relationship with my washing machine. it sings and does nice little songs, which is awesome. also, it washes clothes.

today i decided to let the washing machine feel my love for it and treated it to one of those fancy cleaning stuff things for a wash cycle. i think it has appreciated this love, for it has shown it by producing for me lots and lots of lovely, lovely bubbles.

i used, once again, one of the Dr Otterker or Dr Becker or something cleaning fluid things. yes, sorry, i know - for this post to be of even the slightest bit of practical use i should give the name of the product, but the packet is in the bin now, so that's that.

yes, indeed those bubbles - of if you insist foam constructed of bubbles - looks pretty awesome. have i by any chance made a video of it doing the bubbly foam thing for you? of course.

it really is quite soothing, in a very sensual way, to just sit and watch the bubbly foam swathe and roll away, without a care in the world beyond cleaning whatever it is that it needs to clean up within the workings of the washing machine. 

how often do i wash the washing machine? when i remember to do it, mostly. i can't remember how often one is supposed to actually do it - i think maybe once a month or so. quality over quantity, i say, which is why i think you can make out on the settings that i set it to "intensive". just as the life of a Repo Man is always intense, according to that film about Repo Men that i cannot recall the name of, so washing a washing machine is intense. well, the box that i threw out said you should put it on intensive.

the awesome singing and music that this washing machine makes is truly spectacular. as in, and i really should make a video of this for you all at some point, when you switch it on and put the settings on to what you want, it's actually possible to play a convincing, acceptable version of Cavatina on it, or if you like the theme from The Deer Hunter. exactly why LG, or anyone else for that matter, thought that getting a washing machine to play that particular song was important is baffling, but i am prepared to go with it.

i am not so sure i have all that much else left to say concerning washing the washing machine, but you are still reading and i have some space to fill in around this picture, at the least. let me have a think.

would the music that the washing machine makes in any way qualify it to one day be part of a band, or even form a band itself? it is possible, i suppose, but it would be for a band with a particularly niche market and fanbase. beyond Cavatina, i have not, in truth, noticed it being all that much good at playing other songs. i mean, the original compositions it does are fine, almost regal in fact, but not quite as creative or as catchy as they could be. i wouldn't stand in the way of my beloved washing machine if it wished to pursue a music career, but i would urge it not to be, on the whole, all that optimistic about chances of success.

oh look, another video of it.

was the washing of the washing machine a success? on the whole yes, i would think, as it certainly looks all clean and shiny. not that it didn't before. cleaner and shinier, i guess.

hope you have all also done something amazing and wonderful this weekend too!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lynx black under review

hi there

time for one of them unsolicited, uninvited and quite possibly unwanted consumer action review type of posts. i would like to think, look you see, that you are quite aware from the title the subject of this review, but if for some reason you missed it, it is all about that lynx black deodorant which has recently graced the market.

in recent days Spiros and i have discussed the great teachings of Vernon Pillay, one of the most extraordinary communication experts in the world. by extraordinary, it is meant that he was able to yank open any door and secure entry to a lecture hall, no matter how well we had locked or barricaded it. it is my hope that this post conveys a sense of being imbued by what it was he instructed us.

how is it that i came to own and try this lynx black? some proprietor or retailer, i forget which, had lynx on sale at around half price. in the absence of my usual choice of lynx, i went with this, as my magpie eyes were drawn to the shiny nature of it.

in terms of frames of reference (that's a Pillay teaching, as Spiros would testify), i understand that i am not the target market for lynx. the demographic which lynx targets for their product is feral teenage boys, who are encouraged to coat themselves in the scent of lynx so that they may attract feral teenage girls for the purposes of breeding, or at the least speculative efforts at actions which might be construed as being the process of breeding.

i sit in a rather different demographic, really. i would suggest that, firmly and in certain respects proudly, i reside in the demographic of 42 year olds that simply wish to smell somewhat bearable to what few friends i have, those fellow souls who must inhabit the same space as me at verk for several hours each day and of course my dear family. although from time to time i am prone to taking steps which would enhance my natural magnetism, these are mostly seasonal concerns and are in general removed from the whims and the ways of the feral teenage boys that lynx endeavour to sell these items to.

how, then, does lynx black perform? from my perspective, i would suggest that any feral teenage girl that is drawn to a lad wearing this needs, in earnest, some rather urgent medical attention in regards of their nasal skill and prowess, or otherwise they must be whisked away to be studied in a psychological sense so that the world may ascertain just what it is that they find attractive about this scent.

i think, and i would emphasise think, that the effort here was to create a "brooding musky" sort of sense for those who smell this. what they have instead created is a scent reminiscent of stale stoat urine, originating from a stoat which has been allowed to feast exclusively on the blood of sailors what have died from scurvy after being allowed only to dine on rabbits which have died from myxomatosis.

you should, in theory, be able to smell it for yourself in the below clip, as and when the technology you have catches up that that which Blackberry probably offers.

as has, over the years, been mentioned here in passing, it's possible that Blackberry has a secret hidden feature, a 16MB Scent Pixelator, that records smells as well as sounds and visuals. if that is the case, then one day the technology of other devices may well allow you to experience the smell for yourself. in the mean time, you could just go and buy a tin of it, i suppose, or one of them roll on sticks.

despite my slight displeasure at the scent (i have no quarrel with sailors eating rabbits, let us be clear. there is no hidden agenda there) (hidden agenda is another Pillay teaching), did it at the least perform the task for which lynx intended it to? hard to say, for i am not a feral teenage boy. i did not make any conscious effort to use wearing lynx black as a means of attracting feral teenage girls, and none would have seemed to flock to me as a consequence of simply having it on. if anything, i noticed a greater number of ladies being closer to me when i was listening to some David Lee Roth than i did when i wasn't and had lynx black on.

there are other shades of lynx that i like, and i would think i shall probably stick to them in the future. that said, i wouldn't like to create the idea that wearing this lynx black was failure in a complete sense. it was cheap, at the least, and the scent of it did not inspire all that great amount of displeasure in those near or around me.

i wish both lynx and their intended, target demographic every success in the world with this. for me, however, my relationship with lynx black comes to a dignified, mutually beneficial end with the conclusion of this particular sentence.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

bus vibes #5 - jg and bowie

hello there

music, music and a bit more music, then. in keeping with the trend thus far, which is to comment on the vibes today that i listened to the day before, look you see, i thought it best to push onwards with an in recent times unprecedented third post on the day today. sorry if the quality of text diminishes, which i suspect might not be saying all that much.

and what was it, or rather who was it, that i listened to? two artists, no less. one that should have a much wider audience than he does, and another chap who i am fairly sure is reasonably well known already and doesn't particularly require me or anyone else to worry about how many of the kids are listening to what it is that he does.

first up, then, would be the one that should really have a far wider audience than he does. my talented chum Jonny Granville has unleashed his latest recordings on the world, Tales Of Ordinary Madness.  if you click on the title you can go right ahead and hear or download the album for free, but i do hope you consider paying some coins of money for the works you will hear.

ostensibly these ten songs are about, or partially inspired by, certain people known by the artist. that's not to say these are heavy handed private statements of no meaning - every song, ever, when you think about it, was inspired by someone or something somewhere.

they are all very accessible tunes indeed thanks to the usual wonderful, witty lyrical musings on the go here. these are enhanced by some truly amazing musicianship, with Jonny doing all the instruments and that by himself. presumably not at the same time, of course, otherwise the poor lad would have to set up some sort of amazing one man band rigging; something likely to make him somewhat top heavy and fall over from time to time during recording sessions.

i've got the song Need on at the moment. it features the line "i've got a PhD in misery". that's the kind of line that the Manics would like to have done, and several other lesser bands, that.

best way to describe the music? well, if like me you are a keen music lover, every now and then you get an idea in your head about how awesome a sound would be, expanded into a song. if, like me, you have no practical talent at all, you have no idea how to actually do that conversion. Jonny does; and then some.

if for some reason it's too much trouble for you to click on the above link and you want a quick sample here, well then here you go. here's a snippet of Elephant.

man i love that bass sound. what's the right way to describe it? sort of an echoing, cavernous, psychedelic voyage into the realm of just how awesome bass is.

go on, save me from saying it again - click here and go give the album a try. it's not like it has to cost you anything to do so.

onwards then, but first a pause. here's a dude that was on the repeat of Bullseye tonight.

that dude is amazing, man. he's like a cross between Borat and the prototype of the personification of an Australian. he doesn't look like he should be on a gameshow answering questions about Roy Orbison; he should be in a studio at Channel 9 speaking of the meat of the bat and hard and fast.
so, Aladdin Sane, then, by Derek Bowie. is there really anything to say about this album which has not been spoken somewhere already?

the copy i listened to is off a first generation CD issue of it from the 80s, making it some 30 years old. i picked it up for 49p, and it goes with the various other reissues and "remasters" that i have locked up in storage. along with, yes, the vinyl.

which version is best? some would argue that this version of the CD is better than that one, etc, etc. ripped to files to play on the ipod for convenience, this sounds pretty good, thanks.

the kids have always taken a surface level based dim view of this album. due to the name of it, many make the assumption that Aladdin Sane is or was merely Bowie attempting to emulate the trick and success of his previous "character album", the rather widely celebrated record that is Ziggy Stardust. that's not really the case at all. there's not much in the way of a thematic link to the songs here, and it's certainly not any sort or form of "concept" album. it is, basically, a collection of some really, really good songs.

my favourites off of it? creating an "all time top ten best Bowie songs of all time" is a tough thing to do, but Panic In Detroit and Time off of this album would always be in consideration, with at least one featuring. which one? depended what mood i was in when i was asked i suppose.

i half expect Derek to get his people on to me for some sort of royalties for this snippet, but let's see. i can tell him to write it off against the many coins of money i have given him over the last 30 or so years.

if you were reading this, right, and you had not heard any Bowie before, would this be the album that i suggest you start your journey into the world of his music with? possibly not, no, as the lyrics get somewhat darker here at certain points. for Bowie starters, and we all need to start somewhere, i would say you can't go wrong with any one of the dozen or so best of / greatest hits things out there.

so, that's a week in vibes on the bus, then. back to reading next week, or more vibes? i haven't quite decided, in truth. i have at last got this Child 44 book that i am keen to read, so we shall see. for some reason these vibes posts have been rather widely read (thank you for taking the time to do so), so i may continue on for another week.

i do have some other music to listen to, which may well be the subject of my next post.....

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

remember when

hi there

there seems to be something of a more music than usual tone to this blog these days, does there not? no bad thing i suppose, and be warned, look you see, even more music things will be featuring over the next couple of days, one of which in particular i will be quite excited to bring you.

i was doing that thing earlier today which modern technology seems to thrive on requiring; reformatting and reinstalling. what, exactly? one of them tablet computer things for the boys.

to try and limit the headache of doing all this - i had to operate one of those touchscreen things to do it with - i put some U2 on the TV to listen to and glance at. it was during a moment of glancing that something dawned on me. here, have a look.

yeah, that's the kids of Sydney getting down and getting with it to the Zoo TV tour gig thing from, if i recall, 1992. which is, i note, now 23 years ago.

do you spot it? yes, those lights in the audience. these are, dear reader, cigarette lighters. they are waving them around as it is contractually obliged to do so, or at least it was, during a ballad, and the band happen to be doing One. a song i never liked, the weak point of Achtung Baby by some distance.

a concert these days would look quite similar from this distance, of course, except the light coming from most of the crowd would not be lighters. no, they would be them fancy phone things. 20,000 people would be filming the same thing to upload 20,000 times to all them sites that show off videos.

how did reformatting and reinstalling go? actually, very well indeed, thanks.

i have never had much to do with all that 'Android' stuff, but as William's tablet just plain stopped playing videos and that - something about Google Play not working - i had little choice but to begin again. after several random incidents of my ipod just blanking me for no good reason i dreaded the path ahead.

no need to, as it turns out. it seems that whoever it is that makes all this Android thing - is it not, as point of fact, google? - has this idea that it would be better to make it all simples and like totes easy for anyone to address any problems and get it all sorted out sooner rather than later. it is, then, everything with all that iOS rubbish is not - reliable, stable and very easy to work with.

so, android device all fixed up nice, a little bit of U2 to help me along as i did so, a mild headache which was inevitable from using the child's toy invention that is touchscreen and a new edition of Viz to read. nice one.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

smart stamps

hello there

one of those sporadic posts for those of you who use all that google stuff, mostly, to find things that you have an interest in. there will be, then, some keyword insertion, look you see, purely so that those seeking shall find. i wouldn't particularly worry if 10 or 100 read this, just however many have an interest.

i have an interest, as frequent readers will observe, in all things postal. well, not all things postal; i really don't like the sound of all that "going postal" thing employees within the realm of the United States mail services are prone to do from time to time. i do, however, love sending stuff via the mail. if someone sends me something too then that's nice. the latter happened this week - thanks Mum.

although my mail comprised, as you would expect, items predominantly from New Zealand, there was this item from our friends in Australia. someone at some stage, it would seem, sent something from Australia to New Zealand, which shows that relations between the two nations are indeed healthy. nice one, UN, then.

this is, and i warned you of that keyword thing, a 2015 edition Australian Tasmanian Devil stamp. with a value of $1.85. and that would be of course in terms of Australian dollars; a dollar that if you asked an Australian they would state with confidence that it was superior to the better known American one.

this is indeed a most splendid stamp, and i am very sorry indeed that my blueberry phone camera, or if you like camera phone, did a simply dire and awful job of taking an image of it.  another image shall be shown a little later on, but perhaps of not that much better quality.

to move towards a more New Zealand focused view of stamps, and why wouldn't you, here are some magnificent first day covers of commemorative editions. it was super smart for Mum to get these and send them on to me, thank you once again!

for the benefit of avid google users - users who i hope fair better than when i did a search of an image of moi - these are the New Zealand Cricket World Cup 2015 stamps, and just above them are the New Zealand 2015 Year Of The Sheep celebration stamps. with New Zealand being well known for their sheep, it makes sense for them to issue such a set.

as for the cricket world cup, well, it went on too long, and England disgraced themselves in it. New Zealand, Australia and India were superb in it, and it was good to see South Africa play as well as they can on the day, only to be knocked out by a marginally better NZ team.

you are quite right, indeed those stamps are round, or if you like circular, and styled to look like cricket balls. cricket balls which have not, presumably, had the seam prized open to generate false swing and cheat. 

over, then, to the Year Of The Sheep stamp collection, which may well be of interest to our friends in China for reason of content as well as all around the globe who simply like stamps.

these are really smart, they are. smart in the sense of good, not "it really smarts" when something hurts, with that being the terminology that an Australian would use. so using it in the context of a New Zealand celebration of a Chinese event or date would make little sense.

why do i love stamps and the whole concept of the mail system? partially the romance of the way we used to communicate, but mostly as it just feels "right". yeah, this "electronic mail" is faster, cheaper and can reach everyone with a device, which is pretty much everyone these days. for some reason, though, we get all uppity and impatient with electronic mail. people tend to feel any email or similar is an intrusion, and should be skim read. a letter, well, you take the time to read, perhaps subconsciously as someone has taken the time to write it and send it.

to highlight the above, consider "junk mail". for some reason everyone gets all uppity when they get what they call "spam" in their inbox. why? it's just a click away from being deleted. no one really got as emotional or upset with junk mail that comes through the letterbox, did they?

to finish off, then, a slightly better quality gander at that stamp off of Australia for you.

oh yes, indeed that is the film adaptation of The Bonfire Of The Vanities it is sat on. i bought it for 49p as recently as yesterday.

do i not hate, loathe and detest this film adaptation, though? yes, indeed yes, i very much do. it tears the heart and soul out of one of the greatest novels of all time; the novel that i remain convinced will be considered the greatest novel to be written in my lifetime. this film was made at the dawn of the era of political correctness, and in the great scramble to be politically correct this adaptation sanitises the point, or if you like the essence, of the brilliant Tom Wolfe novel.

but i am curious. the film is one for me which does not work simply as it doesn't tell the story i am familiar with and, along with everyone else, expected to see. i have no idea at all if the film in fact tells a different story that's of interest to those unaware or unfamiliar with the novel. as my (considerably) better half has not read the novel, i may indulge in an experimental watch to see what she gets from it. this will rely on me not prejudicing the viewing by throwing things at the television as it is on. i will try.

that last bit, i think, diverted somewhat away from the stamps. whoops, sorry.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

bus vibes #4 - nilsson (harry)

hello there

well, more bus vibes. as mentioned in the last post, thursday, which in my time was yesterday, struck me as being, on the whole, a very good day indeed to listen to some Nilsson. that's Harry Nilsson. as in, Nilsson and Harry Nilsson are one in the same. you know this, look you see, and i know this, but Apple do not, for they have split his box set of albums on my ipod across those two names.

i opted, dear reader, to listen to Nilsson with a difference. when the mood takes me to listen to some Nilsson (which is often) and i get the chance (which is not quite so often), usually that means Nilsson Schmilson, an album i love dearly and the one i would suggest you listen to. now. actually, one of the nicest things ever said to me was by my mate Payney, who said i looked similar to Harry on the cover of that album. but anyway, on to the two albums i listened to which were not that one.

by the way, let us not fanny around with links to each individual album. rather just, if you are interested in Harry, click here and see the magnificent box set you can get for, at time of going to print, less than £40. and it is only missing one official album.

the official album missing was his final one, Flash Harry. what i was listening to, then, was the indeed as you have noted oddly named Knnillsson. why this one? it just popped up when i was going through the albums under both names that Apple recognize him as.

is it any good? yes, and sort of not so yes. this is the album, i am led to believe, that Harry liked the most as he was happiest with his vocals on this.

i beg to differ. whereas there is nothing at all wrong with his vocals on this, they are not quite as strong or as resounding as they were on albums before. several years, perhaps, of drink, drugs, partying with The Beatles and, in particular, partying with Keith Moon, has some sort of impact on a person. a very, very fortunate and happy impact, granted.

anyway, Harry liked it, and so did the label. they had, by all accounts, an absolutely massive promotion push in place for this, to let the people know that Nilsson had an album out, that it was boss and that you should buy it. and then along came the rather contentious claim that The King, Elvis Presley had died, and so instead they spent all the money on promoting the sale of His records. with some spectacular success. as a consequence, this album did not sell at all well. 

the reaction to this from the record labels was to embark on a series of real, assumed, false and infrequently bizarre claims that certain musicians had died in order to sell their records. this went on over for a decade, and reached something of a zenith with Roy Orbison. the reaction to this from Harry was mostly one of going off to record some stuff with Eric Idle, going off to record some demo versions of songs for the film Popeye, and then pretty much opting out of recording. 

a snippet of the album, in the way that has become custom with these bus vibes posts? sure. doable.

i want to love this album because Harry loved it. i, alas, can only appreciate it and enjoy listening to it every now and then. if that makes me "not a proper fan" then so be it; but i rather like to think it just speaks of the insanely high quality of his other works.

like, for instance, Pandemonium Shadow Show. which is, like, wow, amazing, brilliant, boss, epic. basically, any word that you like which is a positive or good thing can be applied to this record, and that is to the stereo or the mono version, both of which are on the CD.

why is it so good then? outstanding song composition, a fantastic band performance, an incredible set of vocal deliveries and some inspired choice of cover versions.

the album is perhaps best known, outside of Harry's Beatles love-in, for the songs 1941 and Cuddly Toy. in the case of the former, a truly heart-wrenching, soul bearing autobiographical work, laced with self-condemnation, regret and distress. in regards of the latter, well, you can listen to it and accept it as a nice little ditty at face value. or you could go right ahead and read up on the origins of the song, learn what it's all about and go "oh, blimey". i would probably advocate just listening to the song as it is and leave it to your own thoughts and mind as to what it is, so long as you enjoy it.

acting as a quasi-bookend to 1941 is an inspired choice of a cover of River Deep Mountain High. considering the lyrical content on the go through his own compositions, this was clearly not selected just because it sounded good. and it does sound good, as you can sort of make out in this snippet.

Harry, as i would be sure is the case with most artists, did get somewhat frustrated by the fact that he was better known for his covers than his original works. it was the case, though, that no one was really aware of the fact that things like Without You and Everybody's Talkin' were cover versions. when Harry did a song, he took total ownership of it.

Harry would be all but peerless in regards of doing this. his only equal to taking ownership of the songs of others is surely limited to Mr Sinatra. when one thinks, for instance, of the song Theme From New York, New York, they imagine the Mr Sinatra version. everyone forgets, or remains blissfully unaware, of the fact that the song started off life as coming from a really sh!t Martin Scorsese film.

yes, i appreciate this blog post could have just been "Harry Nilsson is good, go listen". but thanks for reading anyhow. sorry if this is lacking in info or insights; his music more or less says it all, and anyway far better people have me have said more of him far better than i ever could.

what did i listen to today? Jonny Granville's new album in the morning; Derek Bowie in the afternoon. but we will have a gander and a bit of a listen to that in the next post on topic.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!