Top 5

Fortunately, the world didn’t end so we got the full month to enjoy some music. Here’s what I’ve been listening to:

1) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

Regardless of what Anthony might say about Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth, this is the best ever Christmas song.

2) Monday Morning – Pulp

“Stomach in, chest out. On your marks, get set, go!”

3) Anthem Of The Scrolls – North Sea Scrolls

Love the alternate history of the UK on this album, especially the final track about Gazza trying to calm down Roaul Moat with a bucket of KFC and a beer.

4) Danny Says – Ramones

Always time for more Phil Spector at Christmas and everyone loves the Ramones

5) It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.

Oh, wait, it wasn’t the end of the world was it…

The Greatest

The man who injured a brick

While flipping through the channels, I caught a programme on 4Music called the Top 10 Greatest UK No. 1s. The only two songs I saw on it were by Black Eye Peas and Bruno Mars. Now, I’m not sure how they are measuring greatness but I wouldn’t put them in the top 10 of anything. Then I took a deep breath and realised I was being a little harsh. After all, most of the really great No. 1s wouldn’t even have a music video and so couldn’t be shown. It’s generally thought that the music video didn’t exist before Bohemian Rhapsody but that ignores some excellent videos including Dead End Street by The Kinks, Happy Jack by The Who, Arnold Layne by Pink Floyd and even Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles. However, music videos didn’t start getting really big until MTV came along (yes kids, there was a time when Music Television actually showed music rather than just rubbish reality programmes) So, beginning with an arbitrary start point of 1985, I started thinking about what the greatest top 10 UK No. 1s would be. Then I thought that would be a bit egotistical and decided to call it my top 10 favourite UK No. 1s…

I set myself a couple of rules – no re-releases so Reet Petite, Stand By Me, He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother and Should I Stay Or Should I Go all miss out. I uhmed and ahed about a couple of novelty tracks but ultimately Doctorin’ The Tardis, Star Trekkin’ and Gangam Style all just missed out. Also since this is my list, a couple of Pete’s favourite songs miss out – Doop and Baby Come Back as does one of Anthony’s favourites – Rock Me Amadeus (although he actually prefers Vienna Calling)

So, without further ado, here they are, in chronological order:

1) David Bowie & Mick Jagger – Dancing In The Street

Amazing song and truly amazing video. This is how Ant and I are going dressed to my wedding reception…

2) Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

This was the first single that I bought that subsequently went to No. 1 so, in some small way, I like to think that I contributed to its success.

3) Blur – Beetlebum

This just sounded so different to everything else that was out in ’97. Of course, as well as being different from, it also sounded the death knell to britpop.

4) Manic Street Preachers – The Masses Against The Classes

A brilliant return to form after the so-so This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

5) Eminem – Stan

Despite the presence of Dido this is a lyrical masterpiece

6) Oasis – The Hindu Times

One of the few times the Gallagher brothers managed to hit the heights after those first two albums and, just like with those older songs you can tell what Noel is ripping off – All Right Now and Street Fighting Man

7) t.A.T.u. – All The Things She Said

Brilliant pop song, beloved by Steven Wells. Plus they did a cover of How Soon Is Now?

8) The Streets – Dry Your Eyes

The mark of a great concept albums is when the songs work independently of it and this one does

9) Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Do believe t’hype

10) Cee Lo Green – Forget You

Erm, yes, “forget”…

A Game With Everything

Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio

I was following the football on the BBC website and I saw that the Norwich-Man City game had been described as “a game with everything” due to it having a couple of goals and a sending off. This got me to thinking about what would a game with everything actually contain?

Goals (obviously) including at least one of ridiculous “goal of the month” quality

A sending off

A penalty

A major, contentious refereeing decision

A dog on the pitch

An injured official

An outfield player having a blinder in goal

A last-minute/injury time winner/equalizer

A well rehearsed goal celebration (possibly involving back-flips)

A player having a brilliant game against one of his former clubs

So, that was Christmas

Sarah Lund eat your heart out

Sarah Lund eat your heart out

Wow, what a busy Christmas – Eve with Elmo’s mum, Day with her dad and then boxing day back with her mum. It feels like I’ve not had a proper rest all Christmas and since there seemed to be an unspoken “no TV” rule, I also missed all the Christmas specials that were on. It’s almost the exact opposite of the recent Christmases that I’d spend with my dad where we’d do nothing but watch TV. Speaking of my dad, he came along to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so at least he wasn’t alone for the holidays and Elmo and I got the bonus of getting lifts.

Christmas Eve was one of those affairs where everyone brings a course – Elmo’s brother Richard and his girlfriend Emma had prepared soup, Elmo’s mum had made stew for main course and Elmo had made a Pavlova for pudding. The food was great and then we spent the rest of the evening either trying to work out how the magic tricks in our crackers worked or playing board games.

I was a bit worried about Christmas Day as I know that Elmo’s step-mum and her family are all vegetarians and my dad is notoriously insensitive around those who don’t eat meat. I never understood why to be honest, you’d have thought that he’d realise that it meant more meat for the rest of us. Another excellent meal, although slightly let down by the lack of any stuffing, was followed up by more parlour games, this time of the word variety. There were a series of clues to phrases in the style 365 D of the Y where you had to fill in the missing words. So, that one would be 365 Days of the Year for example. I have to admit my competitive side came out a bit here and I was determined that we’d not only win but get all of the answers correct. After doing both, we won a box of chocolates that we were gracious enough to share with everyone else in the house.

Boxing Day was essentially Christmas Day 2 – The Return. This didn’t bother me though because I love turkey anyway. After what was probably the pick of the three meals, we went back to playing board games, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Pointless in this instance. Fortunately for me, playing TV Burp necessitated the TV being on for some of the rounds so I was able to cheekily switch over and catch Everton on Match of the Day.

All in all it was a brilliant few days but I feel knackered now after all that running around. I think I could do with another fortnight off before I’d feel ready to go back to work!

Stories From The Stones

Coalville? Sure I’ll play anywhere for money

Saw my dad yesterday for the first time in about three weeks since he’s been on holiday. He was asking what I’d been up to and I told him that I’d been to see The Stones. This is where he points out that he saw them four times in two days and I don’t have the heart to point out that I saw Mick Taylor playing with them. I do say that they played for two hours though but I don’t mention that means that we’ve probably seen The Stones live for about the same length of time. He then went on to tell us about when he used to book bands for the youth club in Coalville back in the ’60s. He said that he booked Unit 4+2 before they released Concrete and Clay. After they went to number 1, they suddenly weren’t so keen to be playing Coalville anymore. However, they’d been paid up-front and signed a contract so they had no choice. My dad had to hire some more chairs as he sold twice as many tickets as expected. He also manged to get Procol Harem to play there but after they played they wrecked the buffet. Rock ‘n’ roll! However, the big one was the one that got away. At one point he was in negotiation with The Rolling Stones. They wanted £1,200, which was quite a lot back then, and they would ony do six songs. So my dad started to think about backing bands. At the time The Stones had their own that they took on tour with them and so my dad told their management that he’d book them if he could get the backing band as part of the deal. They said no and so The Stones missed out on the opportunity to play in Coalville.

Queueing in the Sock Shop

In-laws? We’d be better with out-laws

I was having a bit of a panic last week when the Christmas present that I’d ordered for Elmo’s dad and step-mum still hadn’t arrived. I was asking people at work for suggestions for what I could get in case it didn’t turn up. One of my colleagues, Saddo, said that she couldn’t believe that Elmo and I still bought separate presents. She said that she and her partner always gave joint presents to their parents. I can’t believe that I’ve never thought of that before. Well, next year, when we’re married, it will definitely be a case of Elmo buying for her parents and adding my name onto the card and me buying for my dad and adding her name. So, so much simpler…

Juxtaposed With U

The Daily Mail has a well-earned reputation as being a conservative newspaper (in both the small “c” and capital “C” meanings of the word) However, its website Mail Online is an altogether different beast. Its “Sidebar of Shame”, consisting of celebrities in bikinis, drunken celebrities and celebrities who have lost/gained weight is rather at odds with its parent publication’s sanctimonious image. Well, now Media Monkey has revealed which celebrity, excluding royals, has appeared most times – Kim Kardashian. As The Guardian article points out, it’s unlikely that (m)any of the print readers would know who she and Paul Dacre would probably struggle to pick her out of a police line-up. More than that though, this is a woman who was one of those socialite, famous for being famous types, until she went global for doing a Paris Hilton and releasing a sex tape. Then she got given her own show and now you can’t escape her on the Mail website. Although, the Mail clearly like the sex tape stars since Tulisa is at number 7 in this year’s popularity poll. Personally, I just find it hilarious that a sex tape star in lots of gratuitous bikini photos can be so popular on the website when the paper itself wouldn’t ever think about printing. Less funny and more worrying is that Mail Online is the most popular newspaper website in this country which seems to show that all of this celebrity non-news is what people actually want.

New Year, New Gigs

Where are the Hollyoaks babes?

I’d forgotten how much I enjoying going to gigs but seeing three in just over a week has rekindled my love of live music. With that in mind, I’ve ordered some tickets for next year. Elmo and I are going to the Latitude festival in July. It’s two weeks after our wedding so it will be kind of a “mini-moon”. We’ve been to the last three and we’ve always had a great time. I’m also going to see the NME Awards Tour – Django Django, Miles Kane, Palma Violets & Peace. I saw Django Django at Latitude last year but I’m looking forward to seeing Miles Kane and Palma Violets, although I’ve never heard of Peace. My friend Nathan and I went to see the NME Tours of 2003 and 2004 and I wish we’d kept going because the 2005 and 2006 tours had brilliant line-ups (curse you real life!) Although at least we got to see Franz Ferdinand before they became big. Finally, I’m also going to see eels at Rock City. These are one of the few bands that I love so much I would buy everything that they release, although in eels case it helps that everything they release is brilliant. I’ve seen them play live four times and each time they’ve had a different line up and a different style. I can’t wait to find out what they do next year.

Happy everybody! What gigs are you looking forward to in the next year of the Gregorian calendar?

Live In A Lounge

Screengrap from last night's video

Screen grab from last night’s video

Last night, Anthony came round and we filmed our Live in a Lounge Christmas Special. With it being Christmas, we thought we’d do a couple of Christmas songs:

I’m On My Way
Merry Xmas Everybody
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Take Your Coat Off (Or You Won’t Feel The Benefit) [Fully Dressed Version]

So, a first airing for four and a half years for I’m On My Way, and the first time that we’d ever played it acoustically in fact. I’d gotten the idea to give it a go unplugged after hearing Anthony messing around playing Get It On/Cigarettes & Alcohol during our photo shoot last month. Then follows the Slade classic and the John Lennon classic. Rehearsing last Friday, we’d also had a go at Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want but we couldn’t quite nail it so we left it out. Finally, one of out newer songs which we’d never played live before. The “Fully Dressed Version” differs from the recorded version by being longer and having lyrics based on the original demo that contained Anthony’s “half/scarf” lines as well as his Smiths-recalling “hand in glove” one.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy and, unless the nuts predicting the end of the world tomorrow, we’ll see you for the next one in January…