Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Worst Built Peripheral Award: Rock Band Bass Pedal

You would have thought they'd build it more sturdily if they knew you would be repeatedly stomping your foot down on it, but apparently not. Everyone is breaking their their Rock Band pedals and quite a market has sprung up to cater for people who need to replace their Rock Band Foot Pedals.

The conspiracy part of me thinks that was the plan all along. Build a pedal so flimsy that it collapses as soon as you touch it so you have to go out and buy a new one. What were they expecting people to do when they were playing Rock Band? Delicately tap it each time? So now you have to spend more of your money if you want to have a decent bass pedal.

It does, however, fulfill the needs of drum nerds who want their bass pedals to look exactly like the real thing. You can even get a doodad which can give you a double bass pedal effect. That's taking it a little too far if you ask me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ukuleles etc.

Is anyone reading this any more? I highly doubt it. So, if no one objects, I'm just going to use this blog as a bit of a personal blog from now on.

My main site now is Ukulele Hunt mostly posting ukulele tab and chords.

I've become completely obsessed with the ukulele. I've also been buying ukuleles as if I was stock piling them for some impending crisis. Currently on this list of purchases considerations: Lanikai (as used by Zach Condon), SpruceHouse (damn cheap for solid wood, luthier made ukuleles) and, if I find the money Martin ukuleles (I shouldn't think I'll ever find the money).

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Hives – Well, Well, Well.

When Einstein announced that nothing could move faster than the speed of light he had obviously neglected to take account of the tempo of Hives songs.

I often yearn for a return to the days before ADHD was invented. If little Pelle Almqvist had spent his formative years in modern day USA he’d have been strapped to a gurney and force fed Ritalin until he started churning out Dido records. Luckily for all involved, early 90’s Sweden allowed the young man free reign to front a band and take over the world armed only with loud guitars and suits stolen from raffish Italian waiters.

The Hives were allegedly formed in 1993 by the shadowy svengali Randy Fitzsimmons. However, it later transpired that ‘Fitzsimmons was a pseudonym for the band’s guitarist Nicholaus Arson. After their 1995 EP Oh Lord! When? How? brought them to the attention of Burning Heart Records, they released their debut album Barely Legal in 1997 which launched them to international obscurity.

Although the band would not receive wide acclaim until they cleaned up their sound, it’s enjoyable to hear them thrashing through 14 clattering songs in the space of 27 and a half minutes. This track in particular has all the subtlety and panache of a JML Rotary Tool Kit being repeatedly hurled against the side of the Eiffel Tower.

The Hives – Well, Well, Well

Buy Barely Legal

I don’t know if this happens to you but occasionally the mp3 pixies visit my house, boot up the computer and start downloading random songs. I have never actually seen these RIAA baiting sprites but it’s the only rational explanation for the number of tracks I’ve acquired without the slightest knowledge of where they came from. Such is the case with this surprisingly faithful ACDC cover by The Hives. I couldn’t confirm when this was recorded but the tag says 1997 so that’s good enough for me.

The Hives – Back In Black

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Blog

As this blog shudders inelegantly towards the end of its shelf life I've decided to start a new mp3 blog (because that niche hasn't been crammed to bursting yet). All I can promise you is that there will be absolutely no songs from 1997.

Shotgun, Bastard and Dribble

Friday, September 08, 2006

Helen Love – We Love You

Channel Five first hit our screens on Easter Day 1997. A brick first hit my screen shortly afterwards. Channel Five decided that the best way to launch itself was with the now tired looking Spice Girls trotting out an uninspired, cheesy rehash of a dated pop song. This was closely followed by an ad for Chanel No.5. The public opinion of five was eloquently summed up in twee popster Adam Faith’s dying words, “Channel 5 is all shit, isn’t it. Christ, the crap they put on there. It’s a waste of space.”

It’s hard to believe it when watching the Spice Girls vacuously yelling it at the behest of the highest bidder, but the phrase ‘Girl Power’ did mean something at one time. The term was originally the rallying cry of the feminist Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90’s. It announced a rejection of and a direct challenge the violent male domination of society. Quite how the Spice Girls managed to remould is as something to shout while doing bikini shoots for Loaded remains clouded in mystery.

Before ‘Girl Power’ was misappropriated by the Spices, it was used by Welsh lo-fi rockers and Ramones obsessives Helen Love. They used it (reportedly its first use in song) in their tribute to Riot Grrrl Formula One Racing Girl in 1993. The lyrics made it clear their meaning of girl power:

I bought these boots to make you happy,
I strapped them up to turn you on.
Now I don’t care about you,
I’ve got my Huggy Bear t-shirt on.

I assume ‘Huggy Bear’ is a reference to the Riot Grrrl band rather than the adorable comedy pimp.

The lyrics of Formula One Racing Girl were reprised (stripped of the now hollow ‘Girl Power’ shouts) for 1997’s We Love You

Helen Love – We Love You

Buy Radio Hits Vol.2

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Beta Band – Dry The Rain

Listen up Americanos; it’s pronounced ‘Bee-ta Band’ not ‘Bay-ta Band’. And while we’re at it, it goes day/month/year. (I can hear ‘em now: “Hey, we saved yer asses in dubya dubya two.”)

Dry The Rain was the opening track on The Beta’s Nick McCabe produced debut EP Champion Versions in 1997. The EP and the two that followed (The Patty, Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos) earned them a huge cult following which saw the original limited edition EPs changing hands for amounts that would have funded a rudimentary space program. The situation was remedied with the release of The Three EPs in 1998.

Unfortunately, the Beta Band weren’t able to continue their fun, inventive, catchy songwriting into their debut album proper. Hot Shots II was poorly received critically and received a lukewarm response from the public. The recent post-split release of The Beta Band’s greatest hits contains only songs from The Three EPs.

Dry The Rain was also the song that launched the Bay-tas in the US of America when it was featured in the film version of Nick Hornby’s music geek tome High Fidelty. Before playing the song John Cusack’s Rob states, “I will now sell five copies of The Three EPs by The Bay-ta Band.” It’s fair to say that the song’s appearance in the film lead to comfortably more than an additional five copies of the CD sold (some sources suggest as many as eleven or twelve).

The Beta Band – Dry The Rain

Buy The Three EPs

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Grandaddy – AM 180

I’ve covered international political upheaval, violent death and smurfs but there’s one topic I’ve skirted around as too significant to tackle: extravagant facial hair.

In 1997 the world was awed by the stunning whiskers of Overall World Beard and Moustache World Champion Jürgen Burkhardt. The more astute amongst you may have already worked out that Jürgen is German.

However, the world champ of facial hair in pop at the time was no doubt Jason Lytle, head honcho of indietronic band Grandaddy. Sporting, as he did, a Newgate Fringe equalled only by Michael Eavis. The Newgate Fringe is so called as the noose like appearance was taken by condemned residents of Newgate prison before the real thing was placed on. Rumour has it that the facial hair failed to save any more than a handful of lives.

As well as cultivating 18th Century facial apparel, Lytle also took the time to record one of the catchiest indie ditties of the year thanks to a cheeky synth riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Moog Cookbook record. The off-kilter kookiness match with the dour vocals make it a popular choice for soundtracks. It has previously graced zombie flick 28 Days Later and can currently be heard as the title music for the delightfully misanthropic Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe.

Grandaddy – AM 180

Buy Under the Western Freeway

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Moog Cookbook – Whole Lotta Love

Warning: disturbing levels of Cotton hatred imminent.

Generally, I’m all in favour of the law against twatting a person full in the face with a banjo, ramming a javelin up their left nasal cavity, taking a rusty chainsaw to their lower limbs and then running over their twitching carcass with a tank. However, I also believe morality is a mutable concept not given to black and white rulings – especially when faced with the perma-grinning mush of Fearne Cotton.

Yes, the final episode of Top of the Pops airs tonight and the blame for its demise, and that of Western culture in general, lies entirely on Cotton’s shoulders. It’s not so much the fact that she has the brain power of a squashed slug (or Patrick Kielty for that matter) or that the only adjective in her vocabulary is ‘amazing’ or that she’s sleeping her way through faux-indie band-boys like a Primark Winona Ryder; it’s that her vacuous inanity has forced me to thrust my head through 6 television screens in the last two weeks.

Fearne’s (apparently non-sarcastic) reaction to Damien Marley’s song of Jamaican violence and poverty Welcome To Jamrock (sample lyric: “Welcome to Jamrock/Poor people are dead at random/Political violence, can done”) was:

Ahh! A nice bit of Jamaican sunshine there from Damian Marley.

Cotton, shut your shit-spout you beslubbering flap-mouthed death-token.

Ahem, on to matters 1997 related. In tribute to Top of the Pops, here’s Moog Cookbook’s cover of the TOTP aka Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love.

Moog Cookbook’s first album of kitsch synthesised versions of current indie hits (most notably Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun) seemed like a one-off oddity. However, support from the rock-ocracy and probably no little cajoling from the record company saw them repeat the trick with classic rock songs on 1997’s Ye Olde Space Bande. This time they had a few guests along with them including Eels’ Mr E., MC5’s Wayne and Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.

Surprisingly, the joke hasn’t worn thin. This is probably due to the obvious glee with which these tracks are made. There’s an enormous sense of fun as they throw snippets of The Who and Beethoven into this track and the ‘bumblebee trapped in a jam-jar’ sound on the guitar solo is irresistible.

Moog Cookbook – Whole Lotta Love

Buy Ye Olde Space Bande

For Fearne

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stacey Kent – More Than You Know

Modern Romance, Martin Beck, 1997

Ahh, they don’t write ‘em like this anymore. After the ramshackle blues and raucous rock and roll, a change of pace this week with some romantic, laid-back-ness from the songbook.

They didn’t write ‘em like this in 1997 either, of course. The song comes from the 1929 musical Great Day. The coy, understated romanticism didn’t really fit with the let it all hang out climate of 1997. It was the year that the original book of Sex and the City and J.Lo was (allegedly) cheating on both first husband Ojani Noa (whom she divorced in 1997) and Puffy P Fiddly Diddly Diddy Daddy Combes with third husband to be Marc Anthony.

I love how comparatively half hearted some of the lyrics of this song are (“I’m growing fonder of you” “Wouldn't I be glad to take you” “I'll string along”). I get a bit sick of all the ‘climb the highest mountain’ love songs. If your true love’s at the top of a mountain it would be much easier if she came down.

Stacey Kent – More Than You Know

Buy Close Your Eyes

Read The FWARA Conference Report 1997 on Romance (how sexy).


1997 was the subject of the first episode of Annually Retentive the unimaginative rip-off of Have I Got News For You starring Rob Brydon within the actual show - also called Annually Retentive, also starring Rob Brydon and also an unimaginitive rip-off (of Larry Sanders).

We've just gone over 40,000 hits. That's a bit rubbish really.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sleater-Kinney – Words and Guitar

In deference to Sleater-Kinney’s feminism, today’s post will be vigorously gender neutral with no mention use of gender biased terms

There’s only one way to go once you’ve been turned into lego. So it was a wise move for Sleater-Kinney to call it a day recently before Duplo and Weebles got involved and the whole affair became cheap and tawdry.

Sleater-Kinney were born when the Riot Grrrl movement was begin to die on its hairy rrrse. Both Sleater front-persons, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, had previously been in other Riot Grrrl bands. For their debut, self titled album they followed the feminist person-ifesto of the Riot Grrrl movement with a collection of man-hating, hectoring, didactic songs. (It was a pile of person-ure to be honest).

By the time of their third album, Dig Me Out, in 1997 they had dropped the hard-line feminist a-gender and, after a run of drummers that would make Spinal Tap spin in their spandex, had picked up Janet Weiss. Lyrics this time focussed less on male violation and more on rocking out (sample lyric: “rock you till your good and dead/rock you till there's nothing left”). A trend that they would continue until their final album The Woods which was regularly compared to Led ‘The Shark Incident’ Zeppelin.

Sleater-Kinney – Words and Guitar

Buy Dig Me Out

Download Sleater-Kinney and many others on Kill Rock Stars Records

Take the Sleater-Kinney quiz

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Let’s Smerf

When historians are looking to chart the cultural shifts of the late 20th Century they would be well advised to analyse the rise and fall of various smurf figurines. 1997 saw the retirement of the hopelessly non-aspirational tramp smurf and caveman smurf along with the introduction of the much more hip inline skater smurf and smurfette and disco smurf and smurfette

Despite not being signed to Fat Possum, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have still come to symbolize what the label stands for; a relationship they cemented when they joined RL Burnside on his Fat Possum album A Ass Pocket Full of Whiskey in 1996. That year JSBX also released their album Now I Got Worry which features a more collaborations including funk legend Rufus Thomas and honorary Beastie Boy Money Mark.

But The Explosions are always at their best as a threesome such as on the ’97 singles Wail and 2 Kindsa Love. Wail was accompanied by an ugly and disastrously unfunny video by Weird Al Yankovich. Luckily, Judah Bauer managed to retain his ‘Coolest Man In Rock’ title despite being forced to do the nose dance. You can watch it here but you’d be better off checking out Talk About The Blues (on the same page) featuring Winona ‘celebrity theft pixie’ Ryder as Spencer along with Giovanni Ribisi and John ‘hasn’t done anything since Boogie Nights’ Reilly.

Let’s Smerf appeared as the b-side to 2 Kindsa Love.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Let’s Smerf

Buy Now I Got Worry

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Neckbones – Hit Me

The jawbone’s connected to the skullbone,
The skullbone’s connected to the neckbone,
The Neckbones connected to the tradition of stark, hardhitting music from the Mississippi region

Although Fat Possum are largely, and rightly, known for releasing records by old, black blues musicians such as T-Model Ford and Junior Kimbrough they occasionally sign young white kids to much greater financial reward (e.g. Black Keys and Fiery Furnaces). However, sometimes even white kids can’t sell records.

The recording of The Neckbones’ 1997 album Soul On Fire did not go smoothly. During sessions singer/guitarist Tyler Keith had to be rushed to hospital with a swollen liver. Whilst there bassist Robbie Alexander got his arm stuck, Homer Simpson style, inside a cigarette vending machine. He was sawn out by the fire brigade some 2 hours later.

You wouldn’t know it by the number of factual inaccuracies but I do actually do some research for this blog. During my travels I read the strangest bio of The Neckbones on Fat Possum. It contains exactly no information about the band but extensive, lurid, vomit-inducing detail on the acts the writer would like to perform on the Souls On Fire cover girl. Luckily, it’s rescued by the pay-off line, “I am the only one who knows that she now has the demon spawn in her womb.”

The Neckbones – Hit Me

Buy Souls On Fire

In Other News

Tonight, BBC2, 2110, The Summer of… 1997.
Almost certain to contain extensive coverage of the high-jinx of obscure US punks.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Junior Kimbrough – Lonesome Road

There are only two types of modern blues records: those released on Fat Possum and those that suck.

Kimbrough’s story is so similar to T-Model Ford’s I was tempted to cut and paste last week’s entry. Born into a poor Mississippi family; alcohol induced coma at age 6; father of 36 children; a life of obscurity until picked up by Fat Possum late in life.

Kimbrough was in fact the first act signed by Fat Possum. He came to the attention of fattest possum Matthew Johnson after appearing in the film Deep Blues. His first album All Night Long brought him great admiration from blues aficionados. At this point he was too ill to tour so a steady stream of fans made their way to Mississippi including U2, The Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop.

By the time of 1997’s Most Things Haven’t Worked Out Kimbrough’s suffering had worsened and would finally take his life in 1998. Despite this he still sounds in fine fettle.

Since his death, Kimbrough’s fame has spread thanks to a tribute album featuring The Black Keys and a tribute album by The Black Keys.

Junior Kimbrough – Lonesome Road

Buy Most Things Haven’t Worked Out

Saturday, June 03, 2006

T-Model Ford – I’m Insane

T-Model Ford is going to remember you sorry fuckers how it’s done.

Listening to this track and following his career, it’s hard to disagree with T-Model's assertion that he is insane.

T-Model, or James Lewis Carter Ford as his Mum knows him, released his debut album, full of the kind of ramshackle blues of which Fat Possum is known for, at the tender age of 70-something (he’s not entirely sure of his age). He spent many of the previous years either in bars or behind bars - including a two year stint on a chain gang of murder - and somehow finding the time to father 25 children.

Age hasn’t entirely mellowed him. Today’s track chronicles his stormy and occasionally violent relationship with his fifth and current wife Stella. His temper has meant that he has had trouble holding a band together even for the length of a recording session. His only long term cohort, until they fell out, was drummer Spam who has an equally fearsome reputation.

However, this rather sweet article suggests that behind the legends and tall tales is a lovable family man.

T-Model can currently be found dishing out relationship advice in Arthur Magazine - no, really.

T-Model Ford – I’m Insane

Buy Pee Wee Get My Gun

Download more from Pee Wee Get My Gun on Fat Possum Records