Friday, May 08, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Pins

The news today is unremittingly depressing, which given what the Tories will do to mental health services is probably going to be cyclical.

To cheer ourselves up while we wait for the to turn Broadcasting House into flats, here's a new video from Pins:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Soulobit: Errol Brown

Errol Brown, lead singer of Hot Chocolate, has died.

Brown can't really be held responsible for one of the most awful things the British Monarchy has done, which was this:

In fairness, had Brown not recorded You Sexy Thing, Charles would have been half-heartedly pretending to be a male stripper to a different song, but it's an object lesson in how a record can be ruined forever.

(As a side note, it wasn't the first Brown-Windsor coup - Hot Chocolate played Charles and Diana's wedding reception.)

Let's instead hail his victory as being the only man ever to take a song about a UFO over London into the top 10:
The writers were Mike L Burns, Steve Glen and Donny Most. At the time the talk was about a close encounter of the third kind taking place at Stonehenge -experienced by one of the writers and his wife. Or as Errol Brown put it in a 2009 interview with The Mail on Sunday (25th of January) "This was written by two guys who thought they saw a UFO over Hampstead Heath".

It turns out the encounter was witnessed by Steve Glen and Mike Burns.

The details are given from the horses mouth as it were in this interview from The Borehamwood Times of March the 11th 2011.

“It’s a true story. I was driving on the Hendon Way with my writing partner Mike Burns and he pointed up in sky and said ‘what’s that up there?’ I nearly drove off the road. I was producing The Toys at the time and the band was following behind us in a van. I veered off onto West Heath Road and stopped by the Leg Of Mutton Pond. It was right above us. It was massive – about four or five houses wide and when we got out to have a look, an orange cloud came out of it.”

“The reason I’ve not talked about it much for 30 years is everyone said at the time we must be on drugs but all six of us saw it. We asked each other ‘did you see that?’ and we all said, ‘yes’. We
went straight back to Mike’s house in Long Elms and wrote the song No Doubt About It. I’d never written one so quick, and it was Hot Chocolate’s biggest seller.”
Making the heir to the throne shake his moneymaker, and taking aliens to the heart of Top Of The Pops. That's a career right there.

But not a solo career - he never managed to carve much space for himself outside of Hot Chocolate. Brown was pragmatic about this, as he explained in an interview with Blues And Soul, which also gave him a chance to take a dig at Ali Campbell:
“It was a very unfortunate thing. My first solo record on Warner Brothers was a song called ‘Personal Touch’. And I guess when things are meant to be, and when they’re NOT meant to be, is a funny thing. One of the things I found out when I left Hot Chocolate was that it’s amazing how you can be in a group for so many years, and people are still not familiar with your name. I mean, I love UB40 and the stuff they do. But I can’t for the life of me remember the guy’s name who sang lead on their hits, though I love his voice. And what I realised was that, when people said ‘Errol Brown’, it just wasn’t immediately obvious to the public that it was the lead singer of Hot Chocolate. So, I guess a successful solo career just wasn’t meant to be! But, you know, it’s OK!”
He might have been surprised over the last 24 hours just how much that name actually did mean to people.

Errol Brown was 71; he died May 5th in the Bahamas from bowel cancer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Looking for a revolution

The scientific inquiry into music revolutions is interesting:

The evolution of western pop music, spanning from 1960 to 2010, has been analysed by scientists.

A team from Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London looked at more than 17,000 songs from the US Billboard Hot 100.

They found three music revolutions - in 1964, 1983 and 1991 - and traced the loss of blues chords from the charts, as well as the birth of disco.
But it's fundamentally flawed, isn't it? If you want to know what's happening in music, the very worst place to look would be the American charts. It'd be like a seismologist restricting themselves to measuring only the smallest of aftershocks.

Just as a for instance, that methodology means that punk is more or less ignored and the revolutions spotted are timed about two years too late.

Still, as a guide to what sorts of music American radio was prepared to play, it's a useful exercise.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Taylor Swift is the best pop star

No, she really is. She really is:

She said: ''I've always been an easily excitable person and I'm also easily hurt. Let's say I'm easily moved.

''A few years ago, I realised being moved isn't necessarily normal in my line of work, or this cynical world we live in.

''There are viral videos of all the times I'd won awards and how shocked I'd looked. At first, I didn't know how to process being made fun of for being stoked about really exciting accomplishments.

''It seems like people become jaded faster than ever these days and in an effort to appear 'cool', people in my profession and everywhere else I look have taken to trying to seem bored all the time. Unmoved, unfazed, chic, edgy.

''Let me just clarify something, being a pop artist is a very exciting, incredibly fun thing to do.''
Yes, it must be, mustn't it? If you're a pop star, and not going 'bloody hell, I'm a pop star' the whole time, you should probably be seeing a careers advisor rather than a stylist.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Listen with No Rock: Molly Wilkinson

The wonderful Molly Wilkinson has just launched a new ep:

What the pop papers said: Big Hard Excellent Fish

You'll remember that we losy Josie Jones earlier this year.

Rummaging in a box of things, I found the Big Hard Excellent Fish interview from the NME...

Click to make readable...

This week just gone

Most read April 2015 stories:

1. RIP Jess Marquis
2. Mick Hucknall comes out as the Tory you'd always suspected
3. Video: Garbage - The Chemicals
4. Coachella bans almost everything
5. Daily Telegraph suggests Manilow marrying a man is "curious"
6. Toyota are terrible at social media
7. All Shook Up comes to iPlayer (it's gone now)
8. Having group sex with Leapy Lee
9. RIP: Josie Jones
10. Kate Jackson is ready to return

These were released:

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer

Built To Spill - Untethered Moon

Passion Pit - Kindred

Download Kindred