Mystery Music March in April

Having spent the best part of a month mostly talking about music I genuinely do like, it seems only fair to inflict some utter rubbish on myself and write about that too. Taking a glance at my mp3 player, I now have enough music on here that it would take over fifty days listening non-stop to get through it all, my entire cd collection. Logically I really should delete the music I don’t like; I've certainly ferreted and filleted already with everything from Simply Red to the Traci Lords album (don’t ask) heading towards the recycling bin.

But there are some tracks which, despite making me scream I just can’t part with. Sometimes they're the early work by artists who turned a corner or rubbish versions of favourite songs or in one case below my own petty annoyance with a single aspect. So even though I can almost hear them festering on there, as though the binary ones and zeros within them might have the ability to melt my hard drive like acid, I'm risking disaster through retention.

We Built This Starbucks On Heart and Soul – Jefferson Starbucks

The original Starship version was my favourite song ever when I was eight years old, just as every song was my favourite song ever if it was getting enough airplay on the local radio station. Now, I’m really not so sure, but it's certainly superior to this corporate reworking created for what they called a ‘leadership conference’ and leaked onto the internet. It’s the kind of work which has the power to make you like your favourite coffee chain just a little bit less each time you hear it.

Two weedy vocalists over a disappointing backing track pass the ethos of the company on to its employees without irony and with horrid, demoralising lyrics such as ‘So many partners / working late at night / living the ways of being / in the green apron look’, a totalitarian message, that knocks on for five whole minutes and blows the impression Starbucks wants us to have of their shops being a comfortable regular third place to be with staff that are our friends.

Reason for keeping: It’s horrendous but hilarious. I’ve started going to Costa Coffee. That fantastic image was borrowed from here.

Big Yellow Taxi (Traffic Jam Mix) – Joni Mitchell

In case you can’t see me right now, I’m putting up my hands in the universal sign of ‘Hold on a minute let me explain’. This isn’t the version you know, from her album Ladies of the Canyon. That’s gorgeous, a beautiful depiction of the destruction city developers continue to wrought on nature. It’s also, you’ll notice, not the cover version by Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton’s ‘um-bap-bap-baps’ which though corporate still has just enough soul to commemorate the original. No, my approbation is reserved for the anodyne, put the vocals and a bunch of clichéd samples into a computer and press a button remix version that appears on the first soundtrack to the sitcom Friends.

I loved Friends and I largely quite liked this album which also features such luminaries as KD Lang, Lou Reed, The Pretenders and Toad The West Sprocket in all their unmessedaboutwith glory. Yet, the producers also include this indigestible slab of chopped liver, Joni’s vocal being chased around a parking lot by the kind of backing track which sounds as though it was made up from the demo version of the old eJay software. How ironic that this song about the ruination of beauty should be subject to this kind of cultural vandalism and appear on an album dedicated to songs about six people living in a big city.

Reason for keeping: Fades out into the moment in Friends when Phoebe sings ‘I made a man with eyes of coal / and a smile so bewitching / how was I supposed to know / my mom was dead in the kitchen’. The soundtrack everyone really wanted was ‘Phoebe sings…’ I think.

Goldberg Variations – Glenn Gould

Bit of a difficult choice because one of my access points to classical music was François Girard’s film Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a biography of the pianist which thematic took ideas from this his most famous recording. It’s undoubtedly a work of genius, both in composer and performer, the two married perfectly and particularly brilliant in the opening aria so beloved of European filmmakers and Woody Allen. Here’s the problem: what critics tactfully call his ‘singing’.

Gould wasn’t a quiet pianist and on this recording of Bach's masterwork, he grunts, breaths, sighs and indeed hums his way through the tunes, the microphone close by picking up his humanity as well as the sound of the piano, essentially everything that would be inaudible in a concert hall. Since Gould gave up playing live, eventually the only way to enjoy his virtuosity was on tape and vinyl, audio interference included, and it’s a distraction that’s sometimes hard to take. A company recently released a computer generated recording which mimicked Gould’s finger work but filtered out his other performing. Critics welcomed it with open arms. There’s a lesson there.

Reason for keeping: It is still Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. It just depends how tolerant I’m feeling on that day.

Real World – Alanis Morissette

I’ve written endlessly about Alanis in the past, eagerly awaiting each new album, even though in my heart of hearts I could be paraphrasing Sickboy from Trainspotting – ‘Jagged Little Pill was a mere peak in an otherwise downward spiral’. Nothing’s been quite as indispensable as that opening salvo and yet mostly loveable and I’m still desperate to hear what her next album Flavors of Entanglement (despite the title), especially after the My Humps cover. Except. Pill was not her first record, no matter how many Best New Artist awards she might have been nominated for and won. Her first two records, released in the very early nineties were Canada only releases and clearly influenced by the likes of Tiffany and particularly Debbie Gibson, only, um, not as good. They might sold reasonably well, giving Morissette the impetuous to move to LA and try again, but they’re nearly impossible to listen to.

The second platinum selling album, Now Is The Time, is doubly dispiriting because she was a co-writer but there’s not a single real emotion throughout. This opening track, an Electric Youth knock-off, begins with a chant ‘We play the game with determination / We don't give a dam 'bout our reputation baby / It's not a game, it's a revelation / Step inside the real world / The real world...yeah yeah yeah... The real world...yeah...” which is about as lyrically complex as it gets. The rest sounds like a London Boy’s seminal Requiem rendered by a Pat Benitar impersonator, with Alanis’s vocal betraying an overbearing producer’s interference. She told Rolling Stone in 1995 that wasn’t “scared (that) people might hear these records. I never did Playboy centerfolds. There's nothing I regret. Maybe people will just understand my lyrics a little more if they hear those records.” Indeed.

Reason for keeping: It’s always good to be reminded of where your favourite musicians came from because it makes their later work seem even better (see also Shelby Lynne before I Am Shelby Lynne) and it cost me fifteen pounds on ebay. A decade later Alanis considered including a couple of her Canadians on her greatest hits compilation but decided against it on the grounds that she only really became an artist when she met Glen Ballard, the Pill producer. To be honest anything here would have been better than the clichéd cover version of Seal’s Crazy which did appear on The Collection. Recorded for a Gap commercial and considered acceptable enough to be released as a single, the video for this opus which actually ‘borrowed’ the twist ending from the promo of Smack My Bitch Up. Great. Perhaps I should have included that instead.

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life (radio edit) – Eric Idle

Because a single word makes all the difference. When Liverpool Football Club last won some European tournament, the city centre filled with people, live footage of the area around St. George’s Hall featuring shoulder-to-shoulder supporters awaiting the arrival of the bus, cup and players. In one voice they sang not only You’ll Never Walk Alone but also in a surreal twist Always Look On The Bright Side of Life which, I think, has become the theme song of the football fan, warming the cockles as each potential defeat beckons. As that lyric loomed I was on the edge of my seat, thousands of people shouting the s-word in one voice. And sure enough, there it was, in all its broadcast glory, with no Ofcom apology forthcoming.

Except they were clearly singing along to this radio edit, blasting out from loudspeakers, rerecorded by Idle on the back of its airplay on Simon Mayo’s Radio One Show in ’91 and totally ignoring the replacement of ‘shit’ for ‘spit’ in the line ‘Life’s a piece of ****, when you look at it’. Radio Edits are entirely understandable – we still live in a world were swearing isn’t acceptable in the afternoons and if that means that the vocal silences in some R&B sonically cripples them, so be it. Except in this case, it sounds like a censor too far. Spoils the record. Even in the early nineties, and entirely pointless on the single release which these days would have welcomed a ‘Parental Advisor’ label and especially since, he inconsistently says ‘bugger’ at the beginning of the fade out. The song is the theme song for a satire about organised religion after all.

Reason for keeping: In this rerecord, Idle slots in some solid new Python material during that fade out ‘It’s nearly the end of the record. You’ll be announcing another tune in a minute. Alright so your wife’s just run off with an Argentinean polo player. OK, so your husband just decamped with a baby sitter – and he’s from Norway. Alright so your team’s lost 15-0 to Barnett. It’s not the end of the world is it?’
Politics I've been reading the Daily Kos which should strike some of my readers (all one hundred and twenty odd of you via feedburner alone apparently) as a bit odd since (a) I'm British and (b) I don't pay much attention to uk politics at the best of times. But I'm clearly a Democrat, the outcome of the US election effects the whole world and it's a good way to see some of the detail which gets frowned out as our media attempts to interpret the position as it stands in the race to the big house. Much of the time though, admittedly I have no idea what they're walking about.

This post has caught my eye though. The content is fairly self explanatory and if nothing else the word 'suckitude' is being downloaded into my long term memory right now. The point made is very good and slightly disappointing -- that bloggers are still being seen as a 'group' with an 'attitude' rather than just as the public using a particular piece of software to get their ideas/life/news across -- just a (not even a) new way of disseminating information to a wide group without the need to for anything more than a computer and a web connection.

Mystery Music March in April

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

Working towards writing this piece, I was horrified to discover that Clear Channel, the corporation that owns a large percentage of the commercial radio stations in America added Wonderful World to the ‘inappropriate’ list of songs that should not be played in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. As well as completely misunderstanding the meaning of the song, surely exactly the thing you need in times like those is something which reminds you that actually this world is a wonderful place to live even if there’s minority of people existing on it who have a habit of doing some very, very evil things.

I’ve no compunction about saying that this is one of my favourite songs. Top ten, any list, John Lennon’s a hack for appropriating the sentiment. From hearing it over the closing titles of the non-rubbish radio and tv versions of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to the closing titles of the film Twelve Monkeys, I can’t think many songs infused with such hope and beauty that were also originally sung by someone who sounds as though they’ve been swallowing gravel at every meal time for their entire life. The simple accompaniment on that version, a small orchestra emphasising that voice is perfect and it’s absolutely right it should have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

It’s been covered often but rarely well. The Joey Ramone is a gold standard because it’s different enough from the original to stand alone. All too often though, balladeers, female usually, overdo that sentiment to the point of rancidity, emphasising the chorus to the point of absurdity and, well, making it sound like every other ballad they’ve ever sung. Orchestral versions fare better, The Pavão Quartet inevitably hitting just about the right tone, even if, by the mid-section you could imagine it being used on a daytime charity commercial with a Paul McGann voiceover.

The problem is, in the midst of all that, I can’t really talk. In November 2006, at a quarter to midnight according to the file’s date stamp, I recorded my own version. I don’t remember now exactly why it happened, and why I thought it would be a good idea, especially since I can’t really sing. At all (despite what I said yesterday about Zadok) . Listening back to it now, I can detect a certain amount of affection, a misguided attempting at professionalism which just sounds a bit wrong. But it is what it is even if it just sits there.

I remember dropping it onto a mix cd for someone (hello Kat) and them saying something nice. There it sits on my hard disk – and now on this blog, because it does appear to sum up what the song means to me and even if it isn’t perfect, and includes a couple of moments when I start thinking I'm Louis, it seems only fair that after criticising other people’s voices and music I should offer some of my own.

What A Wonderful World. Acapella (sorry).
(2.3 mb .mp3 download)

Mystery Music March in April

Zadok The Priest -- George Frideric Handel

Only the best classical pieces can drag themselves unscathed from being eviscerated and used in a hundred finance commercials and being selected as one of Tara Palmer Tompkinson’s top five classical pieces but Zadok has that ability. Composed in 1727 for the coronation of George II of Great Britain its been a repeat fixture in every subsequent ceremony including the one attended by our current monarch. As with a certain percentage of choral music, it’s not lyrically complex, with Handel paraphrasing 1 Kings 1:38–40, no doubt because it includes a line which could be belt out to venerate the new king:

“Zadok, the Priest and Nathan, the Prophet anointed Solomon King.
And all the people rejoic'd, and said:
'God save The King, long live The King, may The King live for ever!
Amen Hallelujah!"

I know what that sounds like because I’ve actually sang it for the Queen on the occasion of her fortieth year as monarch It was my next to final year of secondary school and someone decided it would be good idea to fill the Anglican Cathedral with school kids and have them sing Handel very loudly, whilst oddly other kids offered a martial arts demonstration. We practiced solidly for two weeks, frequently after school and on the day the big church looked a treat, and even though we had all rehearsed separately, the collective sound was suitably epic. Even the anti-royalists amongst us were excited about meeting her majesty. But she was clearly having a very busy day and didn’t have time to stop and listen, passing by on her way to the altar.

It is a great piece to sing. As well as the slightly bonkers out of context second line ‘Nathan, the Prophet anointed Solomon King’ (which makes him sound like a sidekick) it's replete with lengthy vowel sounds and even for us basses a chance to project, not simply provide background for the vocal stylings of the sopranos. Co-incidentally, the best recording I have is from ten years later when a special Prom was held at Buckingham Palace in which the crowd cheer with the onset of the opening few bars played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Sir Andrew Davis), the vocals provided by the BBC Symphony Chorus. My memory of our attempt is faulty but my fantasy is that despite our schoolchild voices it was good as this and greeted by the same sea of applause at the conclusion.

The Many Hands.

Books The best scene in the film version of The Addams Family is the surprise revelation that Thing, hitherto trapped in a box during the television series for reasons of practicality has found a job working at Federal Express, and we see him sprinting along spider-like, parcel in tow. This, along with the titular disembodied appendage from The Hand of Fear seem to be the image that Dale Smith is attempting to conjure for his antagonists in The Many Hands.

It’s potent and creepy enough to keep your interest on its own, but the book is also a clever experiment in atmosphere and a surprisingly ripping read.

It’s Edinburgh in 1759, and minutes after beginning a tour of the castle the Doctor and Martha find themselves hurtling through the city streets after a runaway stagecoach for reasons which only become apparent as the novel winds on. The dead are walking, aided by something from the Loch. After about ninety pages the pace slows and we drift into Hinchliffian gothic horror territory, as we’re assaulted by a range of gruesome body horrors, the origin, given that this is a Doctor Who story should be obvious but are nonetheless surprising in their form. If all of that sounds irritatingly vague it’s because this is the kind of book which works best the little you know about it. The blurb on the back cover might even give away too much.

What I can say is that Smith (who already has two Doctor Who novels and a few short stories under his belt) writes with a buoyant but meticulous style, the streets of this eighteenth century city convincingly portrayed and someone who knows Edinburgh quite well will be pleased with the geographical accuracy, a surprising bonus in these kinds of tales. There’s never a sense that the writer’s imagination is thinking itself around a television budget taking advantage of the location -- in places you can smell the squalor, the hopelessness of people trying to make ends meet and the primitive lifestyle of a population still on the edge of industrialisation.

Smith has clearly done his research but at no point does the narrative seem bogged down by detail; the writer remembers that his story is first and foremost a romp with thriller overtones, with description on a need to know basis, particularly when Martha’s fumbling about in the darkness. But the real joy is the ending, which again without spoiling things seems to be going in one direction, a well oiled over-familiar deus-ex-machina which has been seen in at least two other novels, before heading off in a totally different direction. Clever kids should giggle at the audacity. I know I did.

Smith keeps his main cast to a bare minimum. The Doctor spends much of the story gaining the confidence of a Captain McAllister, a Lethbridge-Stewart gone dark who eventually comes good. Martha falls in with The Munros, the Steptoe and Son of anatomical research whose experiments may be the cause of much of the bother. None of the three are complex souls but they’re far from one-dimensional and you’re certainly able to care for their fate. It’s often the case in Doctor Who novels that characters really lack for an actor to breath life into the dialogue but that’s certainly not the case here.

Pleasingly too, the author doesn’t make the mistake of trying to tell parts of the story from the Doctor’s point of view – even in his latest huggable incarnation he’s best left mysterious in his actions and so we largely meet him and his ‘wand’ through McAllister or Martha’s eyes. There are plenty of the big speeches and grand gestures that Tennant loves getting his vocal chords wrapped around, and since this is Scotland in his own accent (which might prove confusing should he record the audiobook version).

Smith captures Martha perfectly too, Freema’s portrayal springing from the page, her tenacity reminding you how, even though Donna’s brought a different chemistry to the TARDIS, that it’s a shame we’re not experiencing another full season of adventures with the student doctor as the plus one. But if this is to be one of the last of the printed adventures for this crew during the third season for now, it’s an excellent send off.

Doctor Who: The Many Hands by Dale Smith
ISBN: 978-1846074226
RRP: £6.99
Released: 10th April 2008
Music Alanis Morissette has a new album coming along in June. Flavors of Entanglement. Musically it sounds a touch confusing:
"Morissette has noted an expansion of her musical sound on Flavors of Entanglement, and that there are "more technological aspects to it on a sonic level" than previously. She said that because of her love for dancing, the album incorporates beats and loops that enable one to, in her words, "dance your face off". She has described the album as "a combination of everything" in which she has a musical interest, including hip hop beats and organic instruments. Morissette has referred to the album as "techno-sounding but organic" and said, "I like fusion." According to Billboard magazine, the album "balances world- and folk-influenced tracks against the experimental pop leanings of producer Guy Sigsworth."
As always, I'll reserve judgement although Sigsworth's had an interesting track record. Was in Frou-Frou with Imogen Heap, has previously produced Seal, Bomb The Base, Adamski, Bjork, the cool Hinda Hicks tracks on the GMT soundtrack (which is a favourite even if the film's not very good), Talvin Singh, Madonna (What It Feels Like For a Girl), Sugababes (then hasn't everyone?), Bebel Gilberto and Mutya Buena (the sappy R&B track Wonderful. Oh dear.)
Journalism Is it just me, or does this Iranian news website have a conceptual design similarity to the recently redesigned BBC News website?

Or is it just that news websites tend to look pretty much the same anyway?

Mystery Music March in April

Video Killed The Radio Star – Buggles

The thesis of Trevor Horn’s song (from the album The Age of Plastic) is that radio stars have become irrelevant in the world of video. With the growth of file sharing and youtube that message should be intensified but actually radio would appear to be as relevant today as ever, especially since the advent of podcasts. I recently attended a focus group for the local radio station and the opinions were a reminder that more than ever people want their lives lived to a background of music and chatter and that they hardly ever want to stop to watch that same song with pictures. Trevor Horn is wrong. There, I’ve said it.

In fact it’s very rare now for a song to become a hit on the back of a video alone – the promo’s become part of a general marketing campaign which can include talent show appearances, magazine and newspaper interviews, live appearances on radio and television, paparazzi baiting and radio air-play. And the DJ’s still king. On the asteroid I’m presently living on unfettered by popular music in which I’ve not heard of half the people in the Gallup Top 40 (or whatever it’s called these days) let alone listened to any of it, but even I’ve heard of Chris Moyles not that I could actually tell you about any of the songs he’s playing. Except Leona Lewis, because there was something about her on the news.

My suspicion is that the other reason that video hasn’t killed the radio star is because of the quality of recent work. Flicking through the freeview channels at umpteen time of the evening and stopping on The Hits, I’m yet to be impressed by what I see. Presumably because production costs have sky-rocketed, pop promos just seem so dull and samey, featuring large men shouting at each other in night clubs, women writhing up against each other in libraries or both being attacked by a giant CGI effect. If Beavis and Butthead were still around they’d have nothing to talk about. Except perhaps for the boobies. H-huh-huh. H-huh-huh.

Before you interrupt, I know I’m wrong and there is some very interesting work being done in pop videos, but since none of it is connected with music these kinds of channel generally show, we’re stuck with what looks like an inherent lack of innovation. The last really exciting video I saw was for Snow Patrol, the one with the POV from a car bonnet rushing through the streets of Paris, and that’s only because they’d appropriated the second half of Claude Lelouch’s short film C'était un rendez-vous (and makes better sense in its original form). The Culture Show recently featured an interview with Garth Jennings, the man who ruined the film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and he seemed to be doing some interesting things with giant prop legs and Supergrass but really I miss the days when you could turn on the television and be sure to find Peter Gabriel turning into plasticsene or Madonna doing naughty things to Jesus.

But the song is about more than that. Horn was apparently inspired by a JG Ballard short story, The Sound-Sheep in which a deaf boy searched the world for stray music and stumbled upon a outcast opera singer hiding in a sewer. It’s about how new generations hardly ever appreciate the technology of the past, unable to comprehend that at one point, radio was the primary source of entertainment. Which is why, despite the record being available on cd and download, my only copy of Video Killed The Radiostar is a crackly but still playable original vinyl pressing. I know those clicks so well that a clean digital copy would just sound weird.

Mystery Music March in April

Plays The Music of Oasis – The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

I bloody love The Puppini Sisters. And The Pavão Quartet. Frankly I love genre busting cover versions and the groups who sing or play them and could have filled every day of this month (or so) spanning musical 'celebration' with examples. It’s the change in idiom, the ramming of one set of musical intentions into another and witnessing the fallout. This threesome and foursome do exactly that, turning Blondie’s Heart of Glass into a 40s wartime dance number or making Singin' in the Rain sound like a swinging Mozart string quartet.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays The Music of Oasis is the apogee of this decent into madness, a full orchestra trying to get its thematic rocks around rock music and only partially succeeding, but glorious in the attempt. It’s certain that when Noel and Liam recorded the opening guitar riff on Roll With It that the last thing they expected was that it would be at some point rendered by the string section of the RPO or that their mid-song wall of sound could inspire a dramatic saxophone solo which in the end has nothing to do with the work its trying to mimic.

Orchestral covers are nothing new of course. I’ve a cassette somewhere of Rock Legends, a chivalric knight on the cover hiding disappointing versions of You Can Call Me Al, Bat Out Of Hell and The Final Countdown. But what makes Plays The Music of Oasis so special is the obvious commitment of the players, finally allowed to lay to rest the demons of the past and youth which would have been misspent had their parents not pushed them into joining the school orchestra – or as the sleep notes explains:

‘Now the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra may prefer a dress code that’s closer to a penguin colony than the streets of Manchester, but beneath those starched shirts and evening gowns lie primeval passions shaken, but not always stirred, by their customary classical repertoire.’

Who writes this stuff? Oh Christopher Valentine, London 1997.

It’s not entirely successful or as brave as it could have been. On some tracks, including Rock n Roll Superstar and Wonderwall, electric and acoustic guitars herald the start of the song which seems like a failure of imagination. But that’s more than made up for by the orchestration on She’s Electric which sounds like it was inspired by Pentangle and The Monkees and has a rather wonderful Vivaldi-esque solo in the middle as surprising and unexpected as the jazz mess during Less Than Jake's cover of I Think I Love You (which turned up on the soundtrack to the film Scream 2).

You do wonder who all this is aimed at. Listening to Radio 3, I get the impression that a large percentage of classical music fans are anti-rock, judging by the hate mail they receive whenever they experiment and slot in even the most acoustic of tracks to fill the gap before the news on the hour, so they’re hardly going to pick this up. Oasis fans might give it a look, particularly if they’re completists, but would probably be wholly dissatisfied by the lack of their idol’s vocals, substituted in places by a French Horn (which does sound surprisingly Mancunian). The target audience then are those of us attracted by unusual juxtapositions and think that Shakermaker pretending to be a John Barry theme is a very good thing indeed.
Music It's BBC Music Magazine's July 1995 issue, and Barry Fox takes time out from listening to the Stravinsky cover disc to predict portable digital audio players:

I think this is worth adding a new tag/label to the list.

Mystery Music March in April

The JCB Song – Nizpoli

The half hour I take to write the following will probably be a bit difficult. Regular readers of the blog will be aware (and possibly have commented) on the fact I’m a bit of a softy. Given the right conditions I’ll cry like a baby. Usually the reaction’s provoked by a film – end of Titanic, end of The Lord of the Rings, end of Love Story, even the end of bloody ET. But there are also certain songs or pieces of music which can act like a trigger. I’m looking for some catharsis (after this probably) and so here then is one of the songs guaranteed to make me sniffle.

Thanks to the magic of blogging I actually know when I first saw the video for The JCB Song and laughed through all of the pop culture references, hearing about Zoids what have you for the first time in however many years. I sensed it might be autobiographical and indeed it is based on lead singer Luke’s childhood experiences, of dyslexia, and bullying and imaginary characters. But despite some of the very personal references it has a universal appeal, and feels like something we (well those of us of a certain age) have collectively written in our memory.

I’m just going to play the song and in a couple of minutes I’ll tell you exactly when I blubbed then write the first thing that comes into my head. Apologies if it’s a bit rough. It might help if I sing along …

A few minutes later ...

‘My dad's probably had a bloody hard day / But he's been good fun and bubblin' and jokin' away’

That’s a guilt complex isn’t it? The idea of my Dad and Mum disappearing off to work every day, not really knowing what they’d actually be doing, having them home in the evening and expecting them to be happy to play which they were almost every night and then when you’re a teenager you can treat them like horribly despite all of the sacrifices they’ve made to get you into double figures safely.

Once I started work I realised that actually working can be a bit shit and that some nights all you really want to do is nothing and how stinky my attitude might have been. More than likely it's hard wired into our brains that they don’t understand why we don’t understand and that’s how they break from nurturing and we break from wanting to be nurtured.

That ... helped ...
Travel Carole Cadwalladr admits to her own travel writing subdefuge: "Back in the early 1990s, I updated a guide to the recently disbanded Soviet Union with my friend Anna. En route home, having run out of both time and money, we had the nagging feeling that we'd forgotten something. Belarus, as it turned out. Apologies Minsk, we never did make it there."
Curiosities It's probably a cliche to link to this now since I've seen it on at least ten other blogs, but here's what bits of Pulp Fiction might sound like had it been written in Elizabethantheatrese.

Mystery Music March in April

Supermarioland -- Ambassadors Of Funk Featuring M.C. Mario

Produced by Simon Harris (who has worked with everyone from Norman Cook to Simon Cowell via Boys II Men), Supermarioland features one of my favourite rap lyrics, simply because if ever there was a set of words filling a gap in the middle of a record, it's these. Whereas everything else is about Mario’s adventure …

“Well I'm back off my Lisa Stansfield trip
And I'm rejuvinated and I'm remixed
I took planes, trains, and automobiles
And for real got ill in Brasil (c'mon! c'mon!)
I'm the Wizard of Oz when on tour
And got poor in Singapore
And I've eaten sushi in Japan
But there ain't no place like Super Mario Land.”

Lord knows what they made of that in Japan were the record was re-exported. Clearly some of the composer’s youth was spent reruns of Ted Roger’s gameshow 3-2-1 on Challenge TV. I wonder what he'd make of it?

“Now then lets see what you’ve won. A Lisa Stansfield trip – well Lisa Stansfield sang All Around The World which would suggest a round the world trip, but it says you’ve already been on one of those and that you’re rejuvenated and remixed – a health spa or a hi-fi? “I took planes, trains, and automobiles” could suggest that you’ve won a car but again there are locations and bad things happening, losing your money, the leftovers from the sushi meal, being ill in Brazil. That’s right, sorry folks, it’s Dusty Bin….”

The rest of the record is as you’d expect, Kōji Kondō’s music for the Gameboy version of Mario underscored by a rather familiar sounding drum beat with a range samples which have since become cliché and these rap asides probably designed to break up the potential monotony. Everything else is on message, attacks by killer bees, becoming lost in dark passages and collecting coins – which are still weird subjects for a rap and dance record, but multi-media marketing always takes existing genres to strange places.

None stranger than the version orchestrated and recorded by the John Williams & Boston Pops with its Blue Danube mid-section. But that’s another story …