New Music – Cortney Tidwell and Kingsbury (not Manx)

Cortney Tidwell first piqued my attention a couple of years back, after the release of her first album “Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up”. Hailing from Nashville, she was reminiscent of early 90’s act The Sundays, mixed with the gentle alt-country of Lambchop. Now, the latter wasn’t so much of a shock, given that William Tyler played guitar on it. Hell, Kurt Wagner himself even sang on “Society” from that album. But she very much had her own voice, and whilst I thought the album as a whole was promising with some great songs (such as “La La”), I felt there was more to come.

And so, she’s recorded her second album, and it’s out in May. Or June. It’ll be released on City Slang records in Europe, and in typical fashion she hasn’t got a distribution deal finalised for a US release yet. It strikes me as odd that sometimes US acts don’t get any press or even proper releases out in the US, yet do much better in Europe. Like Joan as Police Woman, who was doing proper tours round Europe long before she got reviewed in Pitchfork. Hey, you send us your talented female singer-songwriters, and we’ll send you Bush (the band, not the hopeless ex-President).

cortney-tidwell-boys

Sorry, got distracted there for a moment. Where was I? Yes, new album, out in a couple of months, and the first track to surface from it is called 17 Horses. She’s definitely been on the PJ Harvey, which isn’t a bad thing by any means, and the track is certainly more dynamic than much of “..Stars…”. I’m intrigued. Look forward to hearing more from that.

Whilst doing some searches for Kingsbury Manx the other day, I stumbled across a band called Kingsbury. Cunning trick that. I think I’m going to form a band and call it “Rolling”. Or “Pink”. “Def”? Actually, I very much doubt it’s a trick, since sadly Kingsbury Manx aren’t known to that many people. And this lot seem like a really rather nice lot.

Why do I say that? Well, they’ve put their entire catalogue online at their site, for free, for you to download and enjoy at home. This is something Wilco did years ago for “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, after their problems with their record label, and Radiohead famously did for “In Rainbows”, to get as much publicity as possible to build a new business paradigm, but they were famous, with huge fanbases. This is a brave step for a relatively unknown band. So, I’ve downloaded the “Lie To Me” EP, and quite lovely it is too. Melancholy and gentle in that Mazzy Star way, “Back In The Orange Grove” is the tune that’s stood out for me so far. Sounds like a grower, this lot.

lie_to_me_front

And in a totally non-music related bit, here’s an interesting article about the new Amazon Kindle 2 and its audio-book function from today’s Grauniad. This is the sort of thing that really puts me off these new eBooks (or whatever they are called this week). Whilst I might want to carry around 1,000 CD’s with me on my iPod, I’ve no need to have 1,000 books. I read one, or maybe two at a time, then go onto the next one. Each book takes from a week to a couple of months to read. An album is over in 70 minutes, maybe more, maybe a little less, so it makes sense to have loads on me. Books? Nope. Especially not when Amazon might decide to change the functionality of the device, or could potentially delete or alter books you’ve already bought, without your knowledge or consent. To me, this smacks of a form of control, that in the wrong hands, could easily lead to censorship.

Paranoid? Yep. Doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you though.

MP3: 17 Horses by Cortney Tidwell

MP3: Back In The Orange Grove by Kingsbury

Buy “Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up” By Cortney Tidwell (CD)
Buy “The Great Compromise” by Kingsbury (MP3)

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The Pitchfork 500 Old Skool – Blow to Three

The first section of The Pitchfork 500 was entitled “Year Zero”, as this was time when rock music effectively started again, as punk exploded into a million shards which spread through the music world. But the next section starts with another almost entirely new musical form – hip-hop (or rap, if you prefer. I’m not even sure what the distinction is myself, frankly). Whilst the likes of Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets had made spoken-word soul back in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, the impact had been limited. This is the music that would mutate from the funk-based rap on show here, to the world-encompassing monster of Gangsta rap and the commercial, more tuneful music of Kanye West and Jay-Z.

1980 saw hip-hop explode out of the Bronx onto an unsuspecting world. Whilst parties north of 135th Street had for a number of years been livened up with rapping, shout-outs, and general good-natured mayhem, record companies didn’t catch on until signing Kurtis Blow in ’79, and Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” became a hit in the same year.

These four tracks all share the same traits, in that first and foremost, they were songs to make you dance. Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks”, his second single, spells it out clearly enough – the IRS can be chasing you, your woman’s run off to Japan with another man, your mum is nagging you about the phone bill, and the Mafia are on your case about some money you owe them, but he’s got the breaks to make you dance your cares away. Whilst thankfully I haven’t had to deal with most of those problems – if Kurtis rapped about trying to get a 3-year-old to eo to bed, that might be more appropriate to my life right now – this is party rap in excelsis. He’s not called the “Father of Hip-Hop” for nothing, you know.

The Father Of Hip Hop

The Father Of Hip Hop

And the tune is so funky that even nearly 30 years later, it has the power to make Germans dance:

“Monster Jam” by Spoonie Gee Meets The Sequence is a top example of how early hip-hop was a much jollier place than the later gangsta rap. Featuring the all-girl trio The Sequence, the rappers do their stuff over the house band playing funky beats, not too dissimilar to “Good Times” by Chic. When you think of old skool, this is one of those tunes you think of.

The Sugarhill Gang gang’s “Rappers Delight” was the first true rap hit. It was hit around the world, and rightfully so, thanks to its deft mix of disco and hip-hop. So, a great tune, and genuinely ground-breaking – a bit of history. Which makes it rather odd that Pitchfork chose “Eighth Wonder” as their representative tune on this list. Even the article in the book spends far more time talking about “Rappers Delight” than it does about the tune they actually chose. Odd. That’s not to say “Eighth Wonder” isn’t a great track – it is – but it’s like picking “Friction” instead of “Marquee Moon”. Or “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” instead of “Wuthering Heights”. Or “Hand In Glove” instead of “This Charming Man”. You get the idea. Great songs, yes, but not the ones that should be on this list.

So anyway, “Eighth Wonder” featured the new Sugar Hill Records house band, comprising none other than Doug Wimbish, Skip McDonald and Keith LeBlanc, who later went on to make records with Mark Stewart (of The Pop Group) as Mark Stewart and the Maffia. What a great musical connection – that a lanky bloke from Bristol and one of the leading lights of post-punk met up with the guys who played the music on some of the earliest rap hits1. Isn’t music grand?

In any case, Sugarhill Gang – the rappers Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee – weren’t really from the Bronx rap scene. Indeed, Big Bank Hank stole his lyrics for “Rappers Delight” from Cold Crush Brothers, who really were from the Bronx scene, and these two facts caused the Sugarhill Gang to be treated with disdain by the original rappers. This was the first major beef in a genre that’s been plagued by them, to the extent that people have been killed over slanging matches. You don’t get that sort of passion in shoegaze, you know.

And finally, The Treacherous Three’s thing was quick-step wordplay, and “The New Rap Language”, which featured the aforementioned Spoonie Gee, was an early classic. This was the music that influenced the likes of Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC and Beastie Boys – basic, fluid beats, with some astonishingly dextrous rapping on top. Yep, they really do say “Supercagifragilisticefpialidocious” in the opening sentence – and that sets the scene. And yep, the rapping is largely about how bad they are, how they please the ladies, and how great they are at rapping. But who cares when it’s as dazzling as this?

To someone who’s never been a big fan of either Gangsta Rap, with its bitches, guns and ho’s, or the autotuned poppery of Kanye (I was always much more a fan of Public Enemy, the Daisy Age tunes of De La Soul et al, and more recent stuff like The Roots and Common), these tunes are a breath of fresh air. They remind you what rap started off as, and before it got waylaid into violence and drugs, what life-affirming, joyful music it was. I feel quite cheered up now. Oh, here comes The Clash to annoy me again…

1 But not “Rappers Delight”, incidentally.

MP3: The New Rap Language by The Treacherous Three

Buy Kurtis Blow’s “Best Of…Rappin'” (CD)
Buy The Sugarhill Gang’s “The Greatest Hits” (CD)
Buy The Treacherous Three’s “The New Rap Language” (MP3)

The whole list is available here.

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New and Old Music – Warp and Bill Callahan

Warp Records have a special place in my life. When I was getting into dance music, they released a bunch of LP’s under the banner “Artificial Intelligence”. Featuring the likes of Black Dog Productions, Autechre, Aphex Twin (as Polygon Window), B12 and others, they made odd electronic tunes with little or no relevance to any dancefloor you might wander onto. Ranging from strange clanky noise (Mr Twin), melodic tunefulness (B12), ominous rumblings (Autechre), to frankly deranged alien-jazz glitchiness (Black Dog)1, it was an explosion of invention when most people were panting over the dreadful retro-ness of Stone Roses and bloody Primal Scream.

So, taking their oddness fully to my heart, I listened to those albums again and again and again. Great driving music (I used to regularly drive 300 miles in a Morris Minor so you need something to distract you from the fact that the wheels are going to come off if you go above 90), great comedown music, and quite good fun to scare friends, family and neighbours with. After the label’s electronic start, they diversified into everything from Grizzly Bear to Jamie Liddell. As important a label to music as Rough Trade, or 4AD, or Factory, or SST, they are the work of pure genius.

Amazingly, it’s their 20th anniversary this year, and they’ve done gone and set up a little vote for us to go and choose our favourite tracks. The top 20 will be released on a compilation later this year. So go on, register, and vote. I’m loftandlost by the way.

Any excuse to post this:

Rather different to Intelligent Techno is the work of Bill Callahan (Smog). A longtime favourite of mine, he’s made some truly jaw-dropping music over the last fifteen years or so. Listening to “Teenage Spaceship” whilst driving through the Taunus mountains near Frankfurt one summers evening as dusk drew in, is one of my happiest moments on this sweet earth. Strange what makes some people happy, isn’t it?

Look, a horsie!

Look, a horsie!

Ol’ Bill has moved to Austin, Texas (lovely place) and has recorded a new album which is out on April 14th. “Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle” is his thirteenth album, and he’s brought back the horns and violins for this one. Whilst not quite as unexpected as on “Red Apple Falls”, they add some welcome colour to the songs. Of which I have one here, the oddly titled “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”. In it, he tells a tale of dreaming the “perfect song”, only when he wakes, and scribbles down the words, they read “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”. All the keystone Callahan-isms are there, from his sardonic baritone, to the dry, black humour in his lyrics. Bodes well for the album. Let’s hope it’s better than M Ward’s or Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s latest, eh?

1 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Timbaland totally nicked Black Dog’s ideas, toned them down a bit, then chucked some rappers over the top. Not to belittle him one bit – he’s fantastic – but it would be great for the originators of that clicky, glitchy sound to get some recognition.

MP3: Caz by Black Dog Productions

MP3: Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan

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Live Review – Stereophonics At The Royal Albert Hall

I don’t get out to see many bands at the moment. Partly it’s due to sheer incompetence in getting tickets – especially because, in London, up-and-coming acts have a tendency to sell out before you’ve bought tickets unless you’re really on the ball. Partly it’s that there aren’t many bands I’d like to see that I haven’t already seen yet. And partly there’s the financials. When you’re unemployed, you think , “Right, it’s £30-40 for two tickets, plus some food, and the babysitter, which in total ends up near £100 to watch a band surrounded by people who don’t seem to understand the concept that being out in public, watching a band, is very different to listening to the band at home. In that you CAN’T TALK LOUDLY ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE SET LIKE YOU DO AT HOME.” I once shouted at some people at a Mogwai show to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”, to cheers from the people around me. And some baffled looks from the band. Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, when a friend told us she’d got tickets to see Stereophonics doing the Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall, it would be rude to decline. Whilst I can’t say they are my favourite band ever, I was sure it’d be a good night out. And so, here are some things I learnt tonight.

First of all, aren’t some of the songs off “Word Gets Around” just fantastic? They started off with “More Life In A Tramps Vest” and “A Thousand Trees”, which along with kicking the show off in top style, and confusing the people who were only there for “Handbags and Gladrags”, also reminded me what a great songwriter ‘lil Kelly Jones is when he puts his mind to it. “More Life In A Tramps Vest” in particular is one of the best songs about life in a small town I think I’ve ever heard. The line “Lose my rag and tell them take your bag and shop down there” is just beautiful, the way he fits it into the rhythm of the guitar, before having a quick rant about the one-way system. The sadness of some of the songs, such as “Local Boy In The Photograph” (touchingly introduced as “The song that started it all”), and “Billy Davies’ Daughter”, bring home the desperate lives of some of the inhabitants of Aberdare. Two songs about suicide on your debut album – what are you, the Tindersticks?

The second thing I learnt is that “Dakota” is extraordinary. If one is being honest, Stereophonics at their best have made some great tunes about small-town life, and to me at least, have never quite followed them up. *Cough* Mr Writer *cough*. But I still remember hearing “Dakota” come on the radio and saying to myself “What the fuck?”. It’s like Bob Dylan teaming up with Girls Aloud. It’s so different from the norm that you wonder what on earth was going on in Kelly’s head when he wrote it. All I can say is, please, please make some more songs like this. You’re a talented guy, with a great voice. You’ve done it once, now do it again. Go on, go on, go on, go on. Oh, and playing it as the last song was a nice touch. Starting with my favourite song of yours, and ending it with my second favourite is a good way of getting in my good books, you know.

And thirdly, the Royal Albert Hall is a fantastic building, which I love going to, but it’s just not right for rock music. Once you turn the gain up above, oooh, 2, the sound just gets all mushy. “The Bartender And The Thief” just disappeared into a morass of noise, and not in a good way. Thankfully, most of their best songs don’t rely too much on volume. “Have A Nice Day” worked pretty well, as did “Last Of The Big Time Drinkers”; even if it’s quite raucous, it doesn’t have that Les Paul/SG guitar assault thang going on. Muse suffered the same thing last year at the TCT. Richard Hawley, the man whose guitar amp blew up there, plays with a pretty clean sound, so it worked quite well. Joanna Newsom? Well, she’s got a harp, so she was golden. But if you like a nice dirty sound, then if you ever get to play there, tone it down a bit, eh? It just sounds rubbish.

And lastly. What a voice. It’s like Rod Stewart, at his finest, but better. On the way out you could hear people talking about it. He really does have a cracking set of gravelly tonsils on him. What is it with the Welsh and belting it out? From Tom Jones to James Dean Bradfield, top belters. Must be something in the water in the Valleys.

So, a good night out was had by all. In response to our friends generosity, we’re taking them to see TV On The Radio. I don’t think they are going to know what hit them.

Oh, and just to point out – it was a charity show, so please visit the Teenage Cancer Trust website and make a donation. As the excellent films before the show demonstrate, teenagers often get the rough end of the stick in cancer care, and this charity have done an amazing job in easing suffering of thousands of cancer victims.

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New Music – Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene

First of all, I’ve been suffering from tonsilitis the last few days so I’ve been quiet.

The gradual release of decent-quality MP3’s from Grizzly Bear’s Veckitisawhatsitagain? continues, with “Cheerleader”, previously heard live, making its way out onto the big wide Interwebz. The live version, as you would expect, was rough and lacking their expert use of the studio, but certainly sounded promising.

Now, bizarrely, I got hold of this last week and thought it was fab. And thought I’d uploaded it here. But I hadn’t. Doh!

The word on the street is that it’s actually one of the weaker tunes from Veckatiswheresmyspellchecker. If that’s the case, then we’ve got rather a lot to look forward to when the album is released on May 26th. (Don’t you go and download the leaked version, as it’s pretty poor quality and you’ll miss out on all the detail. When I get the CD it’ll be ripped at about 14,000kbs, you know, and will take up half my iPod. And I’ve got a biiiig iPod)

“Cheerleader” is certainly a bit more relaxed and less ominous than tracks from Yellow House, it fair floats along in a rather dreamy way, with guitars cutting through Ed Droste’s beautiful singing, and yes, a children’s choir. A five minute slice of loveliness and I think, yes, I’ve got to mark it with my famed1 Sonic Cathedrals of Sound tag.

An album that passed me by last year, thanks to a continually changing UK release date that baffled the lovely folk at Rough Trade as much as me, was Brendan Canning’s “solo” album with Broken Social Scene. The founder of Broken Social Scene who’s not Kevin Drew, he’s the chap who looks a bit like a physics teacher who someone has put a bass on him and told him to be funky2. Lovely fella, having had all of a thirty second conversation with him and Kevin after their Shepherd’s Bush show last year. Anyway, I stumbled across their video for “Churches Under The Stairs” the other day, and rather fine it is too:

The band, who at their smallest number about 16 (ok, 8), do a Soundclash-style face off, Drew vs Canning. The song itself is almost Type-A BSS, with that wonderful motorik/New Order groove and great little drum rolls, fills and pauses that make your heart stop for an instant before suddenly throwing you forward again. Great interplay between Canning and Drew as well, as you’d expect.

Is it just me that prays every night to an uncaring God, to get all the top people in BSS together – you know, Feist, Amy Millan, Jason Collett, Emily Haines
3 – to make another album as good as “You Forgot It In People”? Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.

1 Round here, at least.

2 The bassline of “Stars and Sons” was his work, and quite frankly is possibly the funkiest bassline in indie music since “Barbarism Begins At Home”:

3 Speaking of which, the new Metric album rocks.

Cheerleader by Grizzly Bear

Churches Under The Stairs by Broken Social Scene Featuring Brendan Canning

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New Music – The Kingsbury Manx

Many of you may never have heard of The Kingsbury Manx. I hadn’t, until NME reviewed their first album back in 2000 and said that, whilst they didn’t know much about them, the album was great. One very quick listen later and I’d ordered it from Amazon, and even now, “The Kingsbury Manx” gets played in L&L Mansions every month or so. They are one of those bands that have an absolutely effortless sound, as though they just need to pick up their instruments and the sound flows out. Yes, that sounds like bollocks, but you listen to them and try and explain it better. Ok, so there’s a definite early Pink Floyd psychedelia to their sound1, along with a mellow gentleness and, in their later records, a playful jauntiness. From “The Kingsbury Manx” to their most recent release, “The Fast Rise And Fall Of The South”, their sound loses some of its opacity, replaced by warmth and openness.

Anyhow, they’ve got a new album out next month called “Ascenseur Ouvert!”, on the Odessa Records label, and you can listen to two tracks from their Myspace page here. Whilst I dug around for about five minutes for some MP3’s, I couldn’t find anything off the new album, so I shall cease and desist until something does come along. But here’s some YouTube footage thanks to The Delete Bin. I love Technorati, it does have its moments (oh, and if you love it too, do me a favour and fave me. Go on, just for a giggle).

Oh, and here’s an MP3 of one of the best tracks from what I’d personally say was their best album, 2003’s “Aztec Discipline”. Called “Grape To Grain”, I have no idea what it’s on about.

You can pre-order the album from here.

Stunning album art too, as always, from the marvellous Fatheart Galleries (no, I don’t think I’ve got that right either. Any ideas?).

Isn't This Lovely?

Isn't This Lovely?

Oh, and one little thing – if any of the band read this, you’re great, but your website doesn’t work very well with either Firefox 3 or IE 7. Sorry.

1 Which the band acknowledge as coincidental; they only heard early Pink Floyd after they’d recorded “The Kingsbury Manx”.

Grape To Grain by The Kingsbury Manx

The Pitchfork 500 The End Of Year Zero – Costello to Talking Heads

Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Radio Radio
The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
XTC – Making Plans for Nigel
Blondie – Atomic
Talking Heads – Memories Can’t Wait

Here we are at the final five songs of the first chapter of the Pitchfork 500, 1977-1979. Three bands from England and two from the US; both US bands are from the edgy, glamorous, centre-of-the-universe city that was New York in the late ’70’s, and the English bands are from Crawley, Twickenham and Swindon. Swindon, I ask you.

But they had lots in common; they could look back at the past, taking disparate influences and turn them into something new but still familiar. All had great pop nous and the ability to make chart-topping tunes that sound great now, thirty years later.

Elvis Costello was a scrawny, geeky, angry type from west London with a history in music long before punk came along. His father wrote, sang and starred in this classic advert from the early ’70’s, with Elvis singing the backing vocals:

You can see the similarity, can’t you?

After forming a number of bands, he finally settled on The Attractions and with them, he cracked the mix of New Wave with Soul that would characterise his music for years to come (just think of the covers of “Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”). “Radio Radio” wasn’t as well known to me as some of his bigger hits, but it’s a spiky little slice of pure EC, down to the sardonic lyrics: “And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools\Tryin’ to anaesthetise the way that you feel”. Yep, that’ll get your song played on the radio. And that was in the late ’70’s; imagine how he’d feel now, in this Clear Channeled world, where every radio station in the whole of the US plays the same songs day in, day out?

The Cure have two types of songs. The miserable, hair-covering-your-eyes-boo-hoo-hoo-I’m-so-unhappy-even-though-I’m-a-really-rich-rock-star songs1, and the chirpy, happy songs with a dark undertow. This is one of the latter, and indeed, probably the first sighting. The song reeks of the student disco and fey skinny types jumping around with their arms in the air, bless ’em.

What makes the song, if not quite great, then at least interesting, is the air of ambiguity. You’re not sure what exactly he’s done to deserve it, other than “But I know that this time\I have said too much\Been too unkind” and that he’s “misjudged your limit”. Oh dear, Robert, you nasty fellow. Still, could be worse, eh? You could be living in Swindon.

Swindon, for those who don’t know it, is a little like post-Apocalyptic Washington in Fallout 3, except the locals have a West Country accent and there’s slightly less shooting (the Super Mutants are firmly in place, though admittedly drinking cider and wearing short skirts). And from there hail XTC, some sensible cars, Mark Lamarr, and a not very good football team. Of them, XTC are probably the most remarkable. This song, “Making Plans For Nigel”, was one of their biggest hits. It tells the tale of a young man being forced into taking a menial job at British Steel, and his lack of resistance to a life of drudgery. Foreshadowing the destruction of working class ambition to come during the Thatcher years, it’s a tale of inertia and tedium. Andy Partridge would later be crippled by epic stage fright, and after his girlfriend threw away the Valium he took to overcome anxiety, wouldn’t perform live again. Studio-bound, XTC never got the critical mass of a fanbase behind them to really push onto the success their talents could have got them.

Unlike Blondie. Ah, Debbie Harry. Men of a certain age will remember her appearance on ToTP in the last ’70’s wistfully well into their dotage. She was classy, droll and so, so, cool. Men wanted to be with her and women wanted to be her. Injecting glamour and sex appeal into New Wave was her game, and boy, did she succeed. So utterly confident she’d dance round in a swimsuit and a jacket for the video to Denis:

That’s not to say that Debbie was the only thing that made Blondie special. Chris Stein and Jimmy Destri were excellent songwriters, and the band had a superb magpie element, taking songs from other bands, such as power-pop band The Nerves’ “Hanging On The Telephone” and The Paragons’ “The Tide Is High” and making them their own2. They could mix the dance and hip-hop they heard on the streets and clubs of Manhattan, with power-pop and pure, balls out rock-and-roll learned from years of playing alongside Television and The Ramones at CBGB’s, with such finesse and style that at their best, they are gobsmacking. Give Parallel Lines, or better still The Best Of Blondie, to your nearest teenager and bet them to find anything released in the last year or so that comes even close to it. Or find me someone in their 30’s or 40’s who doesn’t like them, and I’ll show you a liar.

Saying that, I really don’t think “Atomic” is their best number. Whilst it’s got the futuristic sheen to it, and the sheer nerve of the lyrics (only 11 words used, fact fans!), to me it’s just not got the out-and-out pop brilliance of “Picture This”, “Denis”3 or “Sunday Girl”, or the proto-hip-hop of “Rapture”, or the sheen of “Heart Of Glass”. Still, Blondie beat up many of the bands on this list.

After that, “Memories Can’t Wait” comes as something of a shock. One of Talking Heads’ more paranoid moments, it sounds like the party that’s going on in David Byrne’s head is a particularly unpleasant one. Listening to this is a reasonable approximation of being in a noisy bar after someone’s spiked your drink with Ketamine. Uneasy listening, I suppose you could call it. It’s rather addictive.

66 down, 434 to go. We’ve had everything from the dark noise of This Heat and Throbbing Gristle to the pop nous of Blondie and The Buzzcocks, via Disco, Funk, Reggae, Power-Pop, the first beginnings of Electronica, Punk, Post-Punk, Punk-Funk, Funky-Punk, Clanky-Drummy-Shouty-Punk and Pop-Punk. I’ve rather enjoyed it so far. Hope you have too. There’s loads more to come, you know.

1 Ok, so he wasn’t a rich rock star when he started writing those songs, but doing it when you’re 50 and rich enough to buy a small African countries is stretching the bounds of credibility.

2 So much so I didn’t even realise “Hanging On The Telephone” was a cover until I researched this article.

3 Yep, I know “Denis” is a cover too, but they messed around with it enough to call it their own, French-singing and all.

Atomic by Blondie

Memories Can’t Wait by Talking Heads

The whole list is available here.

Newcastle United 1 – Arsenal 3 – Barcodes Wiped

5.30 kick-offs are a pain in the backside. If you haven’t got the will to go to the pub to watch it, and you don’t want to shell out money to the horrible Murdoch empire or the comically inept Setanta gang, you end up watching the first half of the match on a hooky stream from Azerbaijan before having to try and listen to snippets of the game on Radio 5 whilst trying to put a 3-year old to bed.

Worse still, the bit you watch is the bit without the goals. C’est la vie, as Pascal Cygan would say, before falling over in slow motion. Still, the first half was pretty entertaining. You could say it had everything except goals. Dodgy refereeing decisions, missed sitters by both sides, and a hilarious penalty decision topped by an even more hilarious penalty kick. “Ah, Mr Almunia, I shall pass the ball to you gently, for I am secretly an Arsenal fan and do not wish to score against my favourite team!”

Thank You Very Much, Mr Martins

Thank You Very Much, Mr Martins

The dodgiest decision of the first half came when Stephen Taylor (more of whom later) blatantly elbowed Arshavin in the face. How he wasn’t even booked, let alone sent off, is beyond me. Arshavin looked someone bemused by the lack of protection given to him by the ref (or rather the ref’s inability to enforce the rules of the game). Van Pershie missed an excellent chance, although he looked offside in the buildup. Newcastle had a number of chances too, which thankfully they also missed, in customary fashion.

All the goals came in a ten minute period in the second half, by which point my son was merrily playing in the bath. First, Bendtner got his head to a free kick from Arshavin, after Clichy had been grabbed around the neck by Ryan Taylor (who should also have been booked, but mysteriously wasn’t). 0-1. Within a minute, Gallas had failed to clear, kicking the ball straight at Martins, who made up for his earlier mistake by whacking it into our net, rather beautifully I must say. 1-1. Then Stephen Taylor went off injured, and whilst he was being treated, his teammates decided they didn’t need to bother filling in that nice big hole in the defence, at which point Diaby decided just to run through it, then thump it past Harper to make it 1-2.

Thankfully for us, the Newcastle players still couldn’t be bothered to do anything about the nice big hole in their defence, Taylor being substituted for Little Mickey Owen, so Nasri ran through it too, and thumped the ball past Harper to make it 1-3. Lovely. As Taylor had already made two critical blocks, and had done enough to get himself sent off by any vaguely competant referee, you’ve got to say they got what they deserved.

We had some more chances to make it even safer, but Diaby hit the post and Harper saved from an excellent Van Pershie. The second half performance was better than the first, and Taylor going off really helped us. Diaby in particular looked lost in the first half, and Newcastle sometimes ran through our midfield at will for periods of the game. But they were unable to take the chances they were given, and we were, and by the time we got the third, they were a beaten team.

Arshavin has continued his mission to be a hugely popular Arsenal player. He’s strong and tough for a guy his size (munchkin), and playing in the Russian league has toughened him up enough to not worry about the nasty challenges and elbows of the Premiership’s Neanderthal element. Sorry, that’s being harsh on Neanderthals. A great signing, though frankly I would also have liked a central midfielder to remove the reliance on DiaSongNilson. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers.

You can see highlights of the game on the marvellous Arsenalist. None of the usual suspects have done reviews yet. Honestly, I’m not even a proper football blog and I’m staying up late.

This loss puts Newcastle deep in relegation mire. I’m feeling somewhat conflicted about this, because I lived there for four years and loved the place. Great people, loads of bars, and I still remember how the mood in the city lifted when Keegan returned, whilst they were at the bottom of the old First Division. I’m rather fond of the place, and whilst the club are run by a pack of jokers, and some of the fans are somewhat, well, uncouth, I’d rather they didn’t go down.

But then, they’ve got people like this:

And this:

Kevin Nolan Tackle

(sorry, the Embed function doesn’t work for those)

And I think I’d rather not have to see some of those players again. Then again, if it was between them and Hull, I’d rather see Dirty Brown’s Tiggers go down, frankly.

Villa play Liverpool tomorrow at Anfield, so against my better judgement I’d quite like to see the Scousers win that one, and in every Arsenal fans wish list is for Wigan to beat Hull 26-0 tomorrow, whilst Phil “Are you questioning my integrity” Brown strips off naked, rolls around in the mud frothing at the mouth, before the men in white coats come to take him away to a nice, comfy, padded cell. Bit of a shame, really – going from being applauded off the pitch by Arsenal fans in September to public enemy number 1, just because you’re a sad little man who can’t take being beaten, so you have to make up loads of rubbish about one of the league’s most popular, and talented, young foreign players. Sad.

Edit: I realised I’d got my Taylors mixed up. Fixed.

Phil Brown Ends Long Arsenal Anti-Intimidation Run

Stating that Arsenal fans had “intimidated his team” during last night’s FA Cup Quarter Final match between Arsenal and Hull City, Phil Brown ended the unprecedented 762-match streak during which Arsenal fans had completely failed to intimidate the opposition. The run, spanning 17 years in all competitions, was without equal in the modern game and crushed the previous record set by Accrington Stanley between 1920-1929, during which the fans would often make cakes and sandwiches for visiting teams, and take them on tours of the local countryside, and was only ended after an Accrington Stanley fan accidentally ran over a visiting player’s cat in his horse and cart.

The last team to be intimidated by Arsenal fans were the Albanian team Diýnamo Gãraÿmše, who during a UEFA Cup match in 1992, were reportedly “scared witless” by the Arsenal fans singing a song about Perry Groves. However, after the match it was revealed that the song (“Number 1 is Perry Groves”) bore a remarkable, and coincidental, resemblance to a chant in Albanian, describing how the protagonists were to tell the opposition’s mothers how many pornographic magazines were stashed under the opposition’s mattress.

Arsene Wenger was not available for comment.

Arsenal 2 – Hull City 1 – Move On, Nothing To See Here

Golly, isn’t Phil Brown a bad loser? His team take a lucky lead against us in this FA Cup Quarter Final, then instead of pressing on and maybe scoring another, they shut up shop, timewaste, and generally don’t bother to really play football.

Result? About five bookings for timewasting and arguing with Mike Riley (who was awful), then conceding a goal after some bloody-minded determination from Bendtner, and then conceded another from Gallas who was standing a good two yards offside after the ball came off a combination of Djourou’s head and the Hull keeper’s fist, he decided to stomp his tiny little feet and bleat that Fabregas came on the pitch after the match and spat at his assistant manager, Brian Horton:

For their club captain – Cesc Fabregas – to spit at my assistant-manager at the end of the game just shows you what this club is about.

To which I’d happily state:

To not bother playing football for 75 minutes, timewasting, being rubbish, and then making up a load of old bollocks about an event that didn’t happen and changing your story twice in an hour, then saying that Wenger got your keeper booked for timewasting after he spent approximately 36 years taking a free kick 20 yards away from where he should have been even after the referee warned him three times, is what your club is about. And oh yes, you look a total dick with that headset, and have I said you’re out of the FA Cup, you dreadful little man?

Cesc, a man with more class and style in his little finger than Phil Brown has ever experienced in his entire life, refuted the allegations, in a rather classy and stylish way:

“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing? … I don’t why they are saying these things about me because it did not happen. That is the truth. I don’t even know who the assistant manager of Hull is or what he looks like.”

He also, sportingly, said:

I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.

How many times to footballers actually admit that they won a game thanks to a dodgy goal? Hardly ever, that’s how many. What a gent. I bumped into a friend from the press last night on the way home, and the feeling amongst the press is that it’s a story which will sell papers, but they felt it was highly unlikely Fabregas would do something like that. And he’s a Spurs fan. Ok, if it’d been Eboue, we’d have said “Yeah, sorry about that, he’s a bit special”. But it’s Cesc. He’s a god in human form. Worship him, o ye sinners.

Sorry, where was I?

Ah yes, Phil Brown. I thought we’d had our fill of bitter, twisted ex-Boltonites after the visit of the odious Sam Allardyce on Saturday, with his hideous team of diving, hacking thugs, but this takes the biscuit. These people are anti-football. They cheat, dive, hack, and when they still lose they resort to lies and distortions, blaming everyone else but themselves for their defeat. When they appeared on Goals On Sunday last week, there wasn’t even a mention of this:

Pederson Dive

The sooner people like Phil Brown and Sam Allardyce are eaten by a radioactive uber-hippo, the better.

I’m sure there will be more claims from the Brown camp over the next couple of days as they try to deflect from the fact that they are out of the FA Cup, and sinking ever closer to relegation. Me? I think it’s all cobblers.

Phil Brown

The sad thing about all of this is that for the first couple of months of the season, Phil Brown actually seemed like he was a decent manager. His team could play good football, they weren’t hopelessly negative unlike, say, Blackburn or Bolton, and he seemed ok. Headset aside. But since the wheels have started coming off the wagon, he’s turned into a bitter, twisted little git. Good riddance, I say.

Oh, Arsenal’s performance? Not very good. The back four were ok, but the DiabSong central midfield partnership seems to think that passing sideways is the epitome of stylish play. Walcott huffed and puffed to little effect; Arshavin looked dangerous (that volley at the end of the first half was sublime); and if Van Persie had spent as much time finding space as he did moaning at the ref, he’d have got a hat-trick. Bendtner did very well to force the goal. Whilst he has his critics (including me), he’s really starting to work hard and use his arrogant temprement to good effect on the pitch. Still, we won, that’s all that counts now. Chelski in the semi-final awaits, at Wemberley.

As you can imagine, lots of opinions today. First of all check out Arsenalist for the highlights, some great comments from East Lower and Goodplaya and a top sweary rant from Arseblogger. I was going to say “Spitting Mad” too. Gah.

Till next time.