A Month all about Names – #13 – Jack

Glass Smash Jack – EMF (1995, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Cha Cha Cha’)

Let’s rewind the clocks today to 1995 and listen to ‘Cha Cha Cha’ the third studio album by EMF and look in particular to the last track, ‘Glass Smash Jack’.  Right at the start, you can clearly hear Stephen Fry introduce the song in his best General Melchett voice before EMF come in with their trademark half shouty sing/speak tracks that is accompanied by some crashing guitars, thumping drums and jerky synth sounds. 

With about two minutes left, the guitars stop crashing and the drums stop thumping and all that is left are little sampled bleeps and stuff and suddenly rather unexpectedly the voice of Stephen Fry then begins to read a poem of sorts, it kind of sounds like Fry is reading it in time to the music.  Then it all dies down and that is that.  It will never be a question in any pub music quiz that I go to but should it ever come up, the answer to the question “Who is the last person to speak on the third EMF album?” is Stephen Fry, the erstwhile semi reclusive comedian and actor and renowned hater of singing (he famously said in interview that he has a voice like a drain and will rarely, if ever, sing  in public – although saying that he does it all the time on ‘I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue’)

It of course begs the question.  How on earth did EMF or their people for that matter persuade Stephen Fry to guest on their third album?  In 1995, Fry would have been a big star, it was just before he made the film ‘Wilde’ but he would have been well known to fans of Blackadder or A bit of Fry and Laurie (talking of which the sketch in which Fry and Laurie send up Countdown remains to this day the funniest thing that BBC 2 has ever shown).  The mind well and truly boggles.  It is without doubt one of the most bizarre cameos in musical history.

Loads of tracks in the music library that have ‘Jack’ in the title, here are a four of them, starting with Parquet Courts Tribute band Bodega and the tremendous ‘Jack In Titanic’, which is taken from their also tremendous debut album ‘Endless Scroll’.

Jack In Titanic – Bodega (2018, What’s Your Rupture? Records, Taken from ‘Endless Scroll’)

Next up, some early Ash

Jack Names The Planets – Ash  (1994, Homegrown Records, Taken from ‘Trailer’) – when Ash first burst on the scene, nearly 30 years ago (and that will make some of you feel utterly ancient, the fact that Tim Wheeler is 45 years old worries me deeply, because it means I am nearly 50) they were one of the most exciting bands to have emerged in years.

Next up, some very early Mark E Smith

Fiery Jack – The Fall (1979, Step-forward Records, Taken from ‘Dragnet’) – which was according to Sounds magazine, the sound of The Fall jumping head first into the world of rockabilly.  They also said it was ‘practically perfect’, which it isn’t, although it is very good in a typically ramshackle way.

Next up, bringing it full circle, we will end with another Stephen

Amberjack – Stephen Malkmus (2020, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Traditional Techniques’) – which sees rocks greatest Stephen (yes he is, face facts, other Stephen’s, and you never know that might actually be a series on day – ‘Stephens in Rock’) embrace folk music and do it remarkably well.

On Monday Diane who may well cruise down Rober Street

A Month all about Names – #5 – Charlie

Good Grief Charlie Brown – Carter USM (1990, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘101 Damnations’)

This week wasn’t supposed to be all about cartoon characters, it just seems to have turned out that way (so far).   Anyway, Charlie Brown is, for those of you who live under rocks, the hero (is he a hero, or a bit of a loser?) of the comic strip ‘Peanuts’ that has graced various media outlets since November 1950.  When he was first introduced Charlie Brown was four years old.  He made it to his eighth birthday by 1963 and has stayed that age ever since.   He is of course the owner of Snoopy, a white beagle who is prone to wearing sunglasses and being associated with TShirts that suggest that a dog wearing shades is just about the pinnacle of being cool.  Is not cool, it is just cruel and Charlie Brown should probably be banned from keeping pets if he is going to just plonk shades on their face and let them wander off willy nilly. 

He is also the worst baseball coach in the history of baseball coaches.  If no one minds I’ll skirt over the fact that Coldplay also have a song called ‘Charlie Brown’ – I’ve listened to it so that you don’t have to – and its garbage, you can thank me later.

‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown’ is a track from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine’s debut album ‘101 Damnations’.  It is a sort of play on the fact that “Good Grief” was Charlie Brown’s catchphrase and the inevitable cartoon series usually ended each episode with him saying it after some form of comedic event had unfurled hilariously.

‘101 Damnations’ is a strange beast, because unlike its successor, the quintessential, nearly perfect ’30 Something’, it hasn’t aged that well and its nowhere near as much fun.  It’s also not as polished as ‘1992: The Love Album’ but it doesn’t matter hugely because it still has something of a naïve, DIY charm and it still contains songs of such anthemic quality that you can pogo yourself stupid to them in your lounge and not feel remotely self conscious about it. 

There is a whole host of Charlie (and various differently spelt versions of that) songs in my music library.  Here are just three.  The first two are from different ends of the indie pop spectrum.  Colour TV’s ‘Charlie’ is an absolute indie pop monster.  The sort of track that just nibbles away at your earbuds quietly until you find yourself humming it for the next three days.  It is all kinds of brilliant but I’ve told you all that before.  

Charlie – Colour TV (2021, Tip Top Recordings, Taken from ‘Is That You’)

The second one is from New York’s Bodega and it is a deeply personal sort of track about a friend who drowned.  There are poignant lyrics about a body being “covered in leaves” and it ends with the sound of someone coughing and the gentle lapping of waves against a shore.  Its marvellous.

Charlie – Bodega (2018, What’s Your Rupture Records, Taken from ‘Endless Scroll’)

And finally one from the alternative spelling crowd, its controversial, public information advert sampling, rave behemoth ‘Charly’ by the Prodigy.  It comes from a time before they went all heavy rave metal and still wore stupid hats and did gigs in abandoned warehouses on rural Essex industrial estates.   It’s infuriatingly brilliant and is considered now by many to one of electronic music defining moments. 

Charly (Alleycat Remix) – Prodigy (1991, XL Records, Taken from ‘Experience’)

Up Next Jasper, but outside it will still be Wednesday.

The No Badger Required End of Year Countdown – #4 – Best Tracks Numbers 25 – 21

Welcome to week four of the No Badger Required end of year tracks of the year countdown. We start this week in Brooklyn, New York with a track that I heard for the first time about a week before the qualifying cut off date occurred.

Earth Worship – Rubblebucket (2022, Grand Jury Records, Taken from ‘Earth Worship’)

Rubblebucket have been around for years, but before last week I had never heard a single second of their music.  I have arrived very very late to this particular party.  Which by the way, is a party that you should get involved with because its an insane sort of affair that is way better than any party that you’ve ever been invited to.   ‘Earth Worship’ is the title track from the bands sixth album (also called ‘Earth Worship’) and it sounds like the best bits of MGMT with Karen O thrown in on vocals.  It is extraordinarily good.

Talking of extraordinarily good things from Brooklyn, New York, here’s Widowspeak.

Everything is Simple – Widowspeak (2022, Captured Tracks Records, Taken from ‘The Jacket’)

It is really hard to not adore Widowspeak.  Their music is quietly confident and is full of knowing nods to acts like Yo La Tengo and Cat Power.  The music is breezy and laid back and they drift dreamily along splendidly.  ‘Everything is Simple’ is just wonderful a soulful indie track that musically is hanging delicately by a thread but it never feels like collapsing as it is caressed by the soothing vocals of singer Molly Hamilton.  Tremendous.

Talking of tremendous things from Brooklyn, New York, here’s Bodega.

Statuette on the Console – Bodega (2022, What’s Your Rupture?, Taken from ‘Broken Equipment’)

Bodega, for those of you in the dark make music that sits somewhere in the middle of the space left next to The Fall and just to the side of Parquet Courts.  There is also I think a heavy disco influence on display as well.  ‘Statuette on the Console’ is one of several tracks on the second album that is sung by the bands second singer Nikki Belfiglo and what makes it stands out is the way she instantly switches from singing to full on Karen O (second mention in three paragraphs) wailing is something to behold.

Talking of things to behold, here’s London’s The Big Moon

Trouble – The Big Moon (2022, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Here is Everything’)

I saw the Big Moon about five years ago, when they were barely out of their teens.  They threw themselves around the stage with brilliantly urgent songs about drinking and partying.  Then Covid hit and earlier this year the band returned with songs that still have their urgency and their upbeat energy.  Now however the songs aren’t about drinking and that but they are about motherhood, and they are about the difficulty some women have with breastfeeding and they are even more brilliant because of it.

Finally, lets head up to Manchester for some good old fashioned torch song indie

Ghosts – Hollows (2022, Unknown Label, Single)

I know very little about Hollows, I know that they are from Manchester and that they make stunning indie rock.  It has soaring guitars that scream, it has vocals that shout, they make songs with chorus’ so insanely vibrant and busy that sees everything fighting for your attention.  Absolutely brilliant.

Kids, Eh – #2

Welcome to the second instalment of the series in which I let my daughter review some records.  I say review, what she normally does is critique an entire bands career more accurately in a sentence lasting about six words than I can in several hundred.   I took my own advice and created a small playlist of songs that I really like and suspect that she might not care for so much.  Before we start we write down three questions which we have to fill in as the songs plays they are: –

1) Do You Like the Song?

2) What Mark do you give it out of Ten?

3) Anything Else you want to say about it.

So without further ado, lets start here.

Classic Self Doubt – OhBoy! (2015, Alcopop Records)

OhBoy! who were an indie pop band from Northamptonshire who released a series of decent records between 2013 and 2017.  They split up in 2017 because they couldn’t finish an album.  I tell my daughter my answer to question one, which is, that I think ‘Classic Self Doubt’ is an excellent four minutes of indie pop. 

My daughter is less impressed and screws her nose up and tells me that “I don’t like his voice”, apparently “Its too whiny and shouty.  I do like the drumming though”. She gives it 5 out of ten, (just for the drumming) which makes it for the time being at least the joint highest scoring song ever on Kids, Eh.  She quickly adds that she doesn’t know why “he is singing about tomatoes”. 

I look at her and say I didn’t hear anything about tomatoes.  This is because I apparently ‘am not listening properly’

Next Up

How Did This Happen? – Bodega (2018, What’s Your Rupture Records)

Bodega are, it says here, an American punk band from New York.  I don’t think they are a punk band, more a post punk art rock band.  I try to explain to my daughter what that means exactly, but I’m not sure I understand it myself.  Anyway, she likes this because she asked if we can play it again when it finished. 

I peak over her shoulder and she has written 7 on the piece of paper, which is crossed out and replaced with an ‘8’, a score that is unheard of on Kids, Eh!.  “This is really good, its very bouncy and I like that it has more than one person singing on it, because the man is a bit rubbish, also its good because it mentions toucans and I wrote a poem about them the other day at school, we also never found out what did happen”.  I’m not sure it does mention toucans I say and then she sings the chorus.

Toucan on one shoulder…” long pause…”….Cheese Burger Sauce on the other….” And then she descends into giggles.

Turns out she is right about me not listening properly.


Sleep Forever – Crocodiles (2010, Fat Possum Records)

“Why would they want to sleep forever, they’ll miss the new series of Mallory Towers?” Is the question that meets this introduction of this song.  I nod my head and agree, it would be a bit daft, I say.  Crocodiles are a Jesus and Mary Chain obsessed shoegaze band from San Diego (“Like Carmen” my daughter chips in homage to the baddie bashing superhero Carmen SanDiego) who make droney space rock in the desert. ‘Sleep Forever’ was the first single from their second album, which is also called ‘Sleep Forever’, to which my daughter asks “Did they run out of names?”.  This is not going well for Crocodiles.

“Its too moany and I can’t hear what he is singing” she grumbles crossly.  “Is he being all lovey dovey, she’ll never fall in love with him if he just whispers all the time” she reasons rather more sensibly than other more experienced agony aunts would.  She writes a four next to the song in her pad and tells me to write that a band called Crocodiles, should at least sing about crocodiles.

All of which perfect sense making means that Bodega are this weeks champions.