Saturday, 15 March 2008


(I even wrote some sleevenotes when I was feeling lonely and miserable).

The Smiths 'Well I Wonder' 1985

Everything about being from the north west is here, cliched? yes - probably. But an incredibley well written and performed track. Really subtle acoustic guitar from Johnny, ace falsetto from Moz, only one chorus, already confident enough to not repeat it throughout the song (and maybe the best one they ever wrote!) the instrumental part with rain recording (cassette) and overlayed guitars at the end (in 1 min) sum up most of my life.
How embarassing.

The Smiths 'Reel Around The Fountain' 1984

Still the most romantic song I've ever heard - I thought that as an 11 year old (I certainly didn't know what romance was then) but this song made me feel like it was okay to not like football and like poncing about with my florist mum.
It also features the best middle eight ever written, musically ad lyrically ( 'I dreamt about you last night...') there are 2 good recordings of this - the one that John Porter produced (this one) on the debut lp being my favourite, for the sneaky piano part from Johnny in the middle eight.There is another version recorded by Troy Tate which is truly terrible and the Stephen Street one on Hatful Of Hollow.
Mike Joyce's drumming is really patient in this, which is unusual.

The Smiths 'Cemetery Gates' 1986

Lyrically pretty (totally/intentionally) pretentious - but it really reminds me of Southern Cemetery (about which it was written) I very occasionally go there when things are not ok in the hope that I can make them better. Morrissey sings really well. Andy's bass playing is is super positive sounding. My mate Phil calls it 'Celery Gates' - I think if you had to choose a track that summed up the band to a non Smiths fan it'd be this.

The Smiths 'Please Please Please' 1984

Tell you what - if any other band would have written a song this good they'd have stretched it out to more than the 1.51 that this is. The lyrics stop after 1 min, and the 2nd half is sensational - any other band would have made the mandolin part a string part, doubled the length, added lyrics, and generally egged it up.
What's great is they didn't.
The band flare around Marr's melody for a minute and stop. The first example of Johhny under-doing arrangements brilliantly.

The Smiths 'Girl Afraid' 1984

Johnny Marr plays with some really cool overlayed guitars, occasionally sounding like Duane Eddie, Mike Joyce does some jobsworth drumming, but it's totally right - another instance of a Smiths track starting with a great guitar hook and instrumental section before the words get a look in. The band used to record the instrumental tracks (Mike, Andy, Johnny) and Morrissey would show up after a week having listened to a cassette and having added lyrics at home. Also a great example of Moz as a studious, funny, and commited lyricist.

The Smiths 'Suffer Little Children' 1983/4

'Oh Manchester , so much to answer for'
Morrissey wrote the lyrics to the instrumental at home before arriving at the studio and freaking the other members out with what he'd written - a song about the moors murderers. The press got hold of this and tried to make out it was a terrible, sensationalist and contraversial song - before checking with the parents of the murdered children, only to find Morrissey had visited the parents and played them the tape of this, of which they all approved.
It was a tribute to the dead children that the parents fully supported. Sometimes (with that in mind) a bit upsetting to listen to, even 40 years after the killings.

The Smiths ' Nowhere Fast' 1985

'..and when a train goes by, it's such a sad sound'
A 50's rock n roll pastiche. Johnny was/is really into retro 50's music and culture, and partic guitar sounds.

Lyrically hilarious, and some really nicely played appropriate trainlike drumming from Mike Joyce.
Some unusual swirly effects from producer Stephen Street. Short and sweet - again, knowing when to stop.

The Smiths 'How Soon Is Now?' 1985

The one everyone knows - a weird and rare Italian B side version, not included because it's rare - but because it extends the parts we all like.
Rourke playing at his slinkiest, and more great lyrics for all the lads to sing along to. 'See I've already waited too long...and all my hope is gone' has stuck with me for years and years (because I'm a miserable git but a very happy one)

The Smiths ' Last Night I Dreamt' 1987

What an intro...
The production and ideas (on the whole LP) is/are phenomenal. Really underated album is 'Strangeways Here We Come' - annoyingly so.
Some journalists like to refer to it as the sound of The Smiths breaking up. It really isn't. This is a great recording and perormance from their final album. I prefer this LP to The Queen Is Dead. It sounds more like Johnny Marr flexing his skills as an arranger.
People like to speculate on how they might have sounded after this album - and are generally negative.
I think they could have really done something amazing - this track being indicative of that

The Smiths 'There is a Light' 1986

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - this just makes me think of lads (proper working class football ones) singing their hearts out.
I remember a couple of nights djing playing this and all the lads in a scrum spilling beer and doing that jumpy up and down thing (with pints) - all of them knowing every last word.
Makes me love Manchester, but not in a nostaligic way. The esscence of Manc lads is in this song.
alltogether now 'and if a tennn tunnnn truckkkkkkk'

The Smiths 'Back To The Old House' 1984

I remember sitting on Damon's steps to his flat around the time he decided he wanted to be a singer - and him playing this on guitar and us singing it to one another when drunk. He did well in the end, but not without influence from The Smiths. Johnny gave him a harmonica which he often pulled out (and used on his first 2 albums) and was very proud of. It also makes me think of a girl I used to go out with.

The Smiths 'Oscillate Wildy' 1986

Moz has a day off - Johnny does a bit of showing off with Andy and Mike. Just a nice reminder of the fact that the band were great players.
Listen to ANYTHING Coldplay have recorded and remember where you heard this type of piano arrangement first.
If I had theme music when I walked in a room it'd be this.

The Smiths ' I Know It's Over' 1986

Lyrically hilarious - another reminder why Morrissey was misunderstood as being over earnest and 'depressing'
Andy and Mike play really well together on this. Marr leaves room for them. Really well arranged with the string parts too. I love the way he says 'guts' (3.35) He's got a very odd accent really.
Blew the other band band members away having recorded it as an instumental before Morrissey came in with lyrics he'd written at home. The end section was extended 'mother I can feel...' when played live on the last tour.
'see the sea wants to take me - the knife wants to slit me - do you think you can help me?'

The Smiths 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' 1985

Meat is Murder was the album that changed so many people's lives - yet kinda gets forgotten a bit.
It's the best album they did in many ways - the relationship between the band and Johnny, and the band and Mozzer and all of them with producer Stephen Street - culminating in this. The Coda 'I've seen this happen...' is perfect and amazing. The panned overlayed guitars, the long snare reverb, the weird backwardy bits, the snakey totally Andy Rourke bassline. Sums up the sound of a band confidently coming of age.

The Smiths 'This Charming Man' 1984/5

Generally the first time anyone sat up and took notice and took them seriously.
I'll go so far as to say this is the first 'indie' record. It was.

I'm sure I'm probably an idiot for sitting on this train for 4 hours and writing this for (nobody) to read.
I don't forget the songs that changed my life - and the songs that made me smile.
See? I snook a Morrissey lyric in - even right at the end.
How embarassing.



Saturday, 23 February 2008

Music 3

Some more music I've been enjoying of late.

MGMT have a good single - the album isn't all that. But 'TIME TO PRETEND' is very nice - out at the end of March. Even my mum likes it (she's getting quite cool in her old age, we're off to see Band Of Horses on Sunday)

I've also been enjoying 'ROCKET' by Working For A Nuclear Free City. They are from Wilmslow (posh bit of Cheshire) where Doves are from (and I grew up in next door Poynton) They are touring at the moment and are great live. Their album 'Businessmen and Ghosts' is really well put together - bit Krauty, bit electronic, some acoustic stuff, some short tracks, some long uns.

and here's 'SEE THESE BONES' from the always excellent Nada Surf. The band have been around for about 10 years but have never really broken through (they're American) despite having a fairly poppy sound (don't let that put you off - they do it brilliantly) Their new album 'The Night' is their 6th, and is very good. Maybe they're just a bit too old now and have missed their chance, hope not.

That's about all I've time for - I'm also liking Team Water Polo, Animal Collective, and the new Grand National single - which I'll stick up next week x

The Wire

I've re-written this 3 times - I still can't get across how much I enjoyed The Wire. I don't want to be that guy that gets excited about a tv show, but when I first saw The Wire in 2006 it genuinely blew my mind.
I don't want to sound all evangelical, but The Wire is truly the best series ever made in television history. At the least it's raised the bar for how television drama is made - at best it's thrilling, gripping, detailed, excellently perfromed by the actors, amazingly directed and produced, the scrpit is 10/10, heck - even the sound recording is mind blowing.

I love it.

The characters have been written with the sort of care and attention I've never seen before - and maybe won't again. I just finished season 5 and the prevailing character that cuts through all 5 series is Omar .

A black gay bounty hunting cowboy - fucking brilliant.

I don't mind the fact that (Sheffield born) Dominic West's performance as McNulty is, in comparison, fairly weak. He's a lynchpin - in the same way the King in a game of chess is actually a bit shit, but clamps the game together.
I think my favourite season (after lying in bed thinking about it for hours) is season 4. Season 2 a close run second. Season 4 pips it because it encompasses all that is great about the program in as far as it has many of the mainstay characters making big moves - where as 2 is more of a kind of off-shoot, albiet a brilliant one - with it's docks setting.
I know Charlie Brooker the (uk) tv pundit has said he wishes he'd never seen it and was watching it for the first time - I can see where he's coming from.

With that in mind I watched it all over again. There's so many layers of story it's hard to absorb everything in one watch anyway. It's like a big cake, a really good well made cake. With drugs, and politics, and guns, and shouting.

It's not hugely emotional, I don't think anyone cries in the whole 5 seasons (actually I think Ziggy might in s2). The men are men (Ziggy's a boy that thought he was a man). Faulty, rubbish getting things wrong, making mistakes kind of men - and I love it all the more for that. There's compassion certainly, Presbo in particular is amazing in season 4.

The comedy is downplayed but excellently done - from Bunks muttering and puking to Clay Davies 'SheeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET'

I'm making it sound blokey - it's not - Greggs is one of the best female characters ever written. Takes no shit - gives no shit. Gets on with being 'good po-lice'

It's hard to write coherantly about something you really love.

So excuse me if that's a load of bollocks.

Night x

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Smiths and Hotdogs

Just got my hands on this ultra rare mix of 'How Soon Is Now' by The Smiths. I think it only came out on the Italian 12" b-side of 'William It Was Really Nothing'
Better production and a different vocal take and arrangement, new bassline and some extra drum parts plus some additional guitars - much better version I think (non Smiths fans nod off)

Morrissey has a new best of LP out that's worth buying. I aint giving it you for nothing though. I'll get in trouble.

I've got a new camera so I took some new pictures. It's a Lumix TZ23

That's all really, I've got some enthusiastic things I wanted to say about ice cream and hotdogs but I haven't the energy right now. So I'll post up actor Christopher Walken's essay on hotdogs and little picture of a delicious one I ate last week.

Christopher Walken on Hotdogs

Do you enjoy eating hot dogs? I hope you won't be put off by my frankness when I tell you that I absolutely love them. In fact, I enjoy no food item more than a freshly-boiled hot dog.
Now, I've done a lot of movies, and it's true that I've worked with quite a few celebrities who did not share this opinion. I'm sorry to say that these people have always angered me. There are two types of people in this world: those who eat hot dogs whenever it is possible to do so, and those who opt to do other things with their free time.
Who do the latter think they are kidding? What pastime could be more rewarding than the consumption of hot dogs? I haven't yet found one, and I don't expect to in my lifetime.
Unlike other foods, hot dogs can be eaten at any time, in any place, and it is not necessary to cook them. Now, I ask you: Why not eat hot dogs? They are delicious. I carry a bag of hot dogs with me wherever I go. I eat them from the bag whenever I get the urge, regardless of the circumstances. When I make a movie, my hot dogs are my co-stars. If, in the middle of a scene, I decide I want to consume a hot dog, I do so. I waste the director's time and thousands of dollars in film stock, but in the end, it is all worth it, because I enjoy eating hot dogs more than I enjoy acting.
This bothers some people. I was supposed to portray Batman, but when Tim Burton learned of my hot dog cravings, he asked Michael Keaton to wear the cape. To this day, I am peeved about this.
When we filmed The Dead Zone, I ate over 800 hot dogs a day. It was necessary. My character needed to come across as intense as possible, and I found the inspiration for that intensity in my intense love for hot dogs. The director, David Cronenberg, said that he would never work with me again. I kept eating hot dogs when the cameras were rolling, and that seemed to bother him. I say fuck him. He doesn't even like hot dogs.
I would like to end by emphasizing once again that I really like to eat hot dogs. If any of you people disagree, I loathe you. I despise you. Not only that, but I also despise all your loved ones. I want to see them torn to pieces by wild dogs. If I ever meet you in person, I'll smash your brains in with a fucking bat. Then we'll see who doesn't like hot dogs.

I took this picture of the hotdog couple. They look so happy - they're going to have a quite a night out.

Happy Valentines day x

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Rockin' an Bowlin'

We went to the Rock 'n' Bowl. See what they did?

The sign outside is huge. They know about signs in America (note I didn't use the word 'signage' as it doesn't exist/isn't a real word) I've taken a tonne of pictures of signs since I came here, but have refrained (spared you) from posting them up.

Think about the signs on the shops where you live, in England.

They're shit aren't they?

If in doubt just put loads of lightbulbs up and make em massive.

I liked the carpet at the Rock N Bowl- it reminded me of my mate Jimmy, I don't know why.

Bowling AND cocktails.

Though I opted for a tasty Miller Hi Life - 'The Champagne of Beers' - I wonder what the miserable French think about that.

Malt, barley, hops, and delicious alchohol

Me and Brad did that cool/hilarious joke where you swap glasses.

I ate a nice healthy dinner and bowled like a girl

Ben was a bit shit/drunk - though he beat me

I came last, even 2 girls beat me, I think it's the national sport here and they play a lot more, also, my shoes were a little tight, I think the lanes are narrower than in the UK, and the floor was really slippy, plus the ball weights are all in imperial weights and that gets really confusing.
Here's Camper Van Beethoven's classic 'Take The Skinheads Bowling' from 1985, and HERE is Teenage Fanclub's cover - also really good.
Though Scotch.
Don't say I never give you nuthin for nuthin. Or something. Or other.
Bye now.


I went to see Gallows the other night, a group from England I'm fond of - they were playing at Metro. It wasn't hugely busy and maybe the venue was a little large for them - though it was Super Bowl Sunday AND there was a snowstorm. I took some pictures, drank some beer, then went out till the middle of the night and don't remember getting home (no pics of that thankfully)

Here's lead singer Frank Carter. He also works as a tattoo artist and sometiems works at Steve Byrnes (who does mine) here's Franks tattoos page

...and here's the pics what I done took - Great gig - though I did get a bit squashed, and there was quite a lot of spitting and leaping around into the audience (I didn't take pictures of that)

Here's Frank pulling some American shapes - he's incredibley polite and humble. Punks are funny these days eh - most of them are straight-edge (no smoking drinking or sex - I'm considering it myself) and apart from the spitting and swearing they seemed like a lovely bunch of boys.

and finally here's my Favourite Gallows track 'Kill The Rhythm'

My Birthday

On my birthday I went for some delicious coal fired pizza with Brad Laura and Common Factor (a techno producer) That card is from my mum. I brought it with me.

During the daytime we went here

and ate these

Mine's the double one with cheese on. I added roughly a jar of pickles. Delicious. It doesn't look like much in the picture. But it's a pretty famous place (world famous according to the t shirts) and is one of the tastiest burgers I've ever eaten.

I've also been getting busy with some hot dogs

Look at this for a rubbish deal

See you later.