Monday, February 26, 2007

God, that's so gay!

"Give me a sweet"
"why not? You gay!"

"I'm not coming out tonight"
"that's gay that is"

"Let me have a go on your Nintendo DS"
"not now"
"oh don't be gay!"

I hear this crap at school on a daily basis, and its time to speak up. The kids (not all of them of course - no tar brushing here) repeat this kind of thing without ever thinking about what they're saying (at least I like to think they are, but perhaps I'm just being naive and they are not simply embarressed but deeply engrained homophobes). Of course, they will be the first to cry 'rascist' or 'sexist', and will go around with all the appearance of demanding respect, but the gay world is not even close to being allocated an equal respect. For heavens sake, a number of my students even expressed an inability to watch 'Brokeback Mountain' because they were apparently afraid it would change their sexuality. The slightest hint of any kind of male (or female) contact on celluloid has them in paroxysm's of concern. And it has definitely got worse over the last few years. I know I'm not being paranoid here. Anyhow, rant over, this one is for you if you think these kids are right.

Senseless Things - Homophobic Asshole (mp3)

Get the Senseless Things here

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Whatever Happened to Leon Trotsky?

The last time I saw The Stranglers was November 1st 1986 at Gloucester Leisure Centre - over twenty years ago. Bloody hell I must be getting old. I've always really liked The Stranglers, even when it was really unhip to do so. In the years 1977-1980 to be a real punk-rocker you mustn't have liked the old art school, middle class punk wannabies. They were tainted with their links to pub-rock and psychedelia in a way that their punk contemporaries never were. I suppose they were just too old. I think what I really liked about their music though (other than the Dave Greenfield organ bits) was their intellectualism. Sure I also enjoyed the angry young man songs of The Ruts, SLF and The Sex Pistols; but I thought The Stranglers were different and what was wrong with that? Perhaps by the time of 'Golden Brown' and 'Strangle Little Girl' my affection for the group was waning somewhat, but I will always hold the first three albums with a great degree of affection.

1. The Stranglers - Something Better Change (mp3)

2. The Stranglers - Hanging Around (mp3)

Buy their output here

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nobody Would Know You Were Dead

Anybody in the know would of course realise that this was a portion of a lyric in a Vibrators song from which Stiff Little Fingers realised their name.

"If it wasn't for your stiff little fingers, nobody would know you were dead."

Shamefully, I managed to miss Jake Burns' 48th birthday yesterday so I will try and rescue this lack of apprecation with my blog entry for today.

During my informative teenage years I, like many others, would have my ear glued to the radio during the evening, listening to the dour tones of John Peel. So when Peelie played 'Suspect Device' to death in a bid to win over the new punk generation I was very appreciative of this brash Belfast sound. These were protest songs with a difference. The songs were a million miles away from the visions of Ulster I was used to. Mainland Britain was used to being bombarded by stereotypes written by likes of the 'Daily Mail' and the 'Daily Express'. Musically, SLF were furious but accomplished in their musical style. It was perfect for the time and 'Inflammable Material' still remains in my list of greatest debut albums ever. So the two tracks chosen from this album are 'Suspect Device' itself (though the single version rather than that found on the album), and their cover of the Bob Marley classic 'Johnny Was'. Incidentally, I also like the fact that Bruce Foxton, was until recently, a member of the band. There are probably many people (judging by the strength of feeling diplayed in the blogging world recently) who feel he should of stayed there.

1. Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device (mp3)

2. Stiff Little Fingers - Johnny Was (mp3)

Buy Inflammable Material for the bargain price of only £7.49 here and visit the SLF website where there is a list of all the tour dates for March here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Springtime Promises

I was over at the ghost of electricity today looking at Davy's post about Heidi Berry. Firstly it got me thinking about spring which is patently only just around the corner (at least according to the wonderful bulbs now appearing in my local woodlands and hedgerows) and secondly about the whole 4AD and This Mortal Coil thing. The 4AD experience provided me with some purely wonderful listening experiences - Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Frazier Chorus and Throwing Muses amonst many others. For those who dont know, This Mortal Coil was an umbrella term for the myriad of artists belonging to the 4AD stable. Although very patchy, when the collective worked well it worked very well. Not least in my two chosen tracks for today. The first is is 'You and Your Sister' featuring the rather lovely voices of Tanya Donelly (Breeders, Belly, Throwing Muses) and Kim deal (The Pixies). Just a wonderful track. The second is the Heidi Berry collaboration with 'Til I Gain Control Again'. Mmmmmmm.

1. This Mortal Coil - You and your sister (mp3)

2. This Mortal Coil - 'Til I gain control again (mp3)

Buy This Mortal Coil here

Monday, February 19, 2007


At the weekend got back from a nice week relaxing in the sunny southern climes of Dorset. The whole family enjoyed the experience, and it was doubly nice to be away from the PC and do a spot of reading. This was all with one exception. The first monday Mrs Vicar and I were forced to drive over 100 miles back home because we had been burgled. (Believe me 100 miles in old Land Rover Defender seems like an age). Now this made me very angry. Not because of the physical damage of them getting in, or indeed what they stole (which turned out to be very little - the incompetent louts), but the fact that my kids had lost a days holiday with us sorting out the mess left behind. I find it hard to believe that some people are just so callous. Its infuriating. So today I've got two very angry songs. Not directed at anything in particular - just angry because thats how I feel.

1. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (mp3)

2. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Helter Skelter (mp3)

Buy their stuff here and here

Friday, February 09, 2007

I thought I saw Lauren Bacall

The last post for my driving theme and my last post for the next week because Mrs Vicar, the kids and I are off to Dorset for some r & r.

For tracks numbers 9 and 10 we're back to the early eighties with a couple of fine contributions by The Clash and Talking Heads. The 'Combat Rock' album saw The Clash in a state of near collapse. Mick Jones was clearly unhappy with how the band direction was going and Topper Headon had his well publiced drug addiction to deal with. The album continued the themes displayed on 'Sandanista' and although many perceive it to be a watered down, commercial effort they were still a cut above most of their contemporaries. Meanwhile, the 'Speaking in Tongues' album by Talking Heads is a classic through and through. The album saw Bryne, Harrison, Weymouth and Frantz at the top of their form. Great for parties, 'slippery people' makes any car mix stand out.

1. The Clash - Car Jamming (mp3)

2. Talking Heads - Slippery People (mp3)

Get your Clash stuff here and Talking Heads stuff here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rock and Roll

The creation of musical DNA is a thing of mystery. With some folks the DNA remains focused on a particular strand. Meaning that there are those who appear to like only one or two genres - r & b and rap for instance. On the other hand, there are others who have a right old mixture of tastes floating about their soul. I would, of course, count myself in this bracket.

When my own DNA was formed, a small part of it contained hard driving, old fashioned rock and roll. It doesn't surface that often, but I do occasionally have a penchant for the likes of Led Zeppelin or Nirvana. The Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen are two other favourites and therefore my focus for todays entry. They also work very well on the car stereo.

1. Foo Fighters - All My Life (mp3)

I can visualise myself in a 'Wayne's World - esque' moment with this one. I know very sad.

2. Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (mp3)

Written because of the Robert Mitchum film of the same name, I can't honestly say that this is one my favourite Springsteen songs, but it is a fine record. Nick Hornby wrote in '31 songs' that he loves the 'elegiac' nature of the lyrics, despite the energy and references to roaring engines and burned out Chevrolets. I agree with this sentiment completely.

Buy Foo Fighters stuff and Springsteen stuff

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Speed Into The Darkness

At the end of the first verse of 'Where's Captain Kirk?', Spizz fires the question 'is this the start of my insanity?'. YES I hear you all cry, because Spizz was clearly a little unhinged. To be fair though, Spizz Energi are still going strong despite the limited output over the years. Check out the website here. It does, however, make a lovely driving song on those days when you have had a shit day and you need to skidaddle home in a hurry (although on my journey home I would have to play it about 15 times over).

Spizz Energi - Where's Captain Kirk? (mp3)

For my second song today I'm deeply indebted to Crash from Pretending Life Is Like A Song. I have to admit I was largely unaware of Rob Dougan despite his success with singles like 'Clubbed to Death' and the associated work on The Matrix and Matrix Reloaded. His voice is just superb and I looking forward to listening to the rest of the album when I get hold of it.

Rob Dougan - I'm not driving any more (mp3)

Invest in Rob Dougan here and Spizz here

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Liverpool to Hull

The M62 has been mentioned in various songs over the years. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The Human League and It's Immaterial have all had stabs at describing its myriad of charms. And a wealth of charms it must have despite my complete lack of knowledge of most of its length; otherwise why else would it have been the source of so much creative energy.

Roads, of course, have always been inspirational. Think of Highway 61, Route 66, the M6 ('Helen Wheels' - Wings) or even the A1 ('Separated by Motorways' - The Long Blondes). But the M62 seems to have a particular fondness. Maybe it's that feeling of togetherness that the motorway brings when uniting the eastern and western coasts of northern England. Whatever the cause I have two more songs for your perusal:

1. Doves - M62 Song (mp3)


2. Thomas Dolby - The Ability to Swing (mp3)

This is an album track from 'Aliens Ate My Buick' and is great as a going out in the summer arrangement.

Doves can be bought from here and Thomas Dolby from here

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Last year I watched the Top Gear survey to find out the best driving songs of all time.Well, 'disappointed' was one way of describing my reaction to the results, 'abject misery' is another way. And I suppose a third way is to say that I was resigned to the fact that the majority of the listening public have what can only be described as 'modest' ambitions to broaden their tastes. The eventual selection (not that I can remember the exact detail) was a cliche ridden list that reflects most catalogues of this type. We are talking the likes of Golden Earring with 'Radar Love', Steppenwolf and 'Born to be wild', Mr Mister and 'Broken Wings' - well you get the idea I'm sure.

Anyhow I thought it would be a nice idea to come up with an alternative list and so put my mind to the solution. It was not as easy a process, however, as I first thought it would be. There was a friend of mine who always thought he had the perfect tracks for a flawless mix tape for the car. Now the art of the mix tape is another subject altogether, and a topic for a future blog entry, but his choices did reveal a central conundrum i.e. should the songs be good to drive to, or good songs about driving? I dont think there is a straightforward answer, so therefore I have decided that my next few blog entries will be my selection for the first 10 driving songs on a car tape/CD/MP3 playlist etc. Note that they will not be in any particular order, and nor will they be a complete pick. They will, however, be a mixture of both driving songs and tracks to drive to. So here goes:

1. The Smiths - There is a light that never goes out (mp3)

A strange choice for a driving selection you might think - and you're probably right. Meeting your demise by a 'double decker bus' or 'ten tonne truck' is plainly rather gratuitous, but the implied romance of the song is heartwarming. The fact that it has been covered so many times gives further credence to its greatness.

2. Eurythmics - This is the House (mp3)

This was a favourite of the friend I mentioned before and I concede that it is rather good on a car mix. I think it was the twangy bass played by Andy Brown that does it for me. It was released by Eurythmics in 1982 but didn't do very well - a fact I fail to understand. If anybody out there has the 12" version that they could convert to mp3 and let me have I would be eternally grateful.

Buy The Smiths or Eurythmics or preferably both here and here

Thursday, February 01, 2007


After sneaking in at the last minute on contrast podcast this week (thankyou Tim) I thought I should explore the theme of explicitness in music and film just a little bit more. My contribution was from the Super Furry Animals with 'The Man Don't Give A Fuck' - I thought I was being quite outrageous at the time, but after I listened to this weeks entries I quickly realised the SFA were in fact quite tame. However, undeterred I thought I'd give you my runners up. Firstly we have The Police with 'Be My Girl - Sally', a track from the Outlandos D'Amour album that I remember thinking was incredibly risque in 1978. Why Andy Summers was writing about blow-up dolls is intriguing. And secondly a track from the criminally under-rated The The with 'Out of the Blue (Into The Fire)'. Any song that has a lyric "She was lying on her back with her lips parted, squealing like a stuffed pig" has got to be up for the possibilities of censorship.

Putting my sensible hat on just for a second, the notion of censorship in film (or music for that matter) is always a topic that stirs emotions in my students. You can circle the issue forever and come up with reasonable arguments on both sides for either reducing or increasing censorship, but nobody ever seems to be influenced enough to change their minds. Its a debate that will run and run.

The Police - Be My Girl - Sally (mp3)

The The - Out of the Blue (Into the Fire) (mp3)

But The Police here and The The here