Rearranging The Flowers – A Pointless Whodunnit with musical interludes and 7 chapters – #5

(In which our hero has a good idea or so he thinks)

Five years ago I got made redundant from a firm of builders that I had worked for since I was about nineteen.  Seemingly thrust onto life’s scrapheap at the relatively young age of 43 I decided to start my own business and since then I have never looked back.  Since the pandemic I have been able to scale things back a bit and I am now pretty much the man to call in this village and three neighbouring villages if you need something fixing – there are not many kitchens in a five mile radius that I haven’t fitted cupboards into or patios that I haven’t helped lay.  One old lady paid me £200 last Christmas to build her a table that her granddaughter can build Lego on. 

Busy Earnin’- Jungle (2014, XL Recording, Taken from ‘Jungle’)

It was about five minutes after Mrs Checkley told us all that Angela Finch was staying with her sister that I had my first brilliant idea (well I thought it was brilliant).  The fuss of the broken vase and the possible missing person had, if you excuse the term, died down a bit. Taking my cue I asked Kevin, who, was unusually quiet, a question.

Plan A – Letters & Colours (2007, Mother Tongue Records, Taken from ‘Gaunt’ Single)

“Kev” I said, trying to appeal to his chirpy London demeanour, “A few weeks ago, Angela asked me if I could fix a cupboard in her kitchen for her, I said I’d do this week.  Do you mind if I do it when you pop round to feed the cats?  Shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes, it was just a bracket that needed rehinging.”

Silence.  So I continued.

“Or you could just give me the key and I can go and do it now, its on the way home after all, I’ll drop the key back when I’m done. Be nice for her for it to be done when she gets home.  Her tins of rice pudding keeps falling out of the door you see”.

I’m usually a rubbish liar but I think I’d sounded pretty convincing, almost as convincing as Mrs Checkley I would say. Although I might have been pushing it a bit with the rice pudding.  Angela Finch would make her own rice pudding for sure.

Lies – Deap Vally (2013, Island Records, Taken from ‘Sistronix’)

Kevin stops sweeping the floor and, after the briefest of glances across to Mrs Checkley, who I am absolutely sure nodded her head, reaches into his pocket, and produces a set of keys.  They are dangling off a pink dinosaur keyring which has ‘Dinosaur World’ stamped on its belly. 

“Can you drop them back to me before 7 tonight please, as the cats will want their dinner”,

and with that he lobs the keys through the air and fall on the pew next to me with a clunk and I pick them up and literally run out of the church.

Don’t Look Back – Teenage Fanclub (1995, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Grand Prix’)

I went the long way round to Angela’s house, and I parked my van in yard by the farmers barn, phoned my wife to tell her where I was (in case I never returned) and then walked the couple of hundred metres down to Angela’s house.  I stopped twice to check that I wasn’t being followed by Kevin or Mrs Checkley and then let myself in the back door.  

The first thing that greeted me was Matthew, one of the cats, a big noisy brown shorthaired who leapt off a sideboard and meowed loudly at my feet and scared the life out of me.  I gave him a quick stroke, popped my bag down on the floor, and told myself that despite not knowing Angela’s sister name I should look for an address book.

Where Do I Begin? – Chemical Brothers (1997, Freestyle Dust, Taken from ‘Exit Planet Dust’)

I walked into the small sitting room, there was a big bookshelf on the wall by the door and a wall cupboard containing crockery and a series of framed photos on my left.  I had just picked up a photo of Angela with her arms around two small children when the phone on the table behind me rang.

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #5 (1995)

The second year of my editing of the music pages of the student paper allowed me to expand my end of year top ten to a top thirty of both singles and albums.  I won’t go into details because most of it was garbage (and number 24 actually was Garbage) but suffice to say it was an eclectic mix of indie, hip hop, trip hop, techno, house and electronica.  It drew criticism.  A female wrote in and called me a misogynist because I had apparently put a song that glorified domestic violence at Number One, whilst a chap called Simon called me an idiot for leaving out ‘Alright’ by Supergrass. Swings and Roundabouts.  Simon if you are reading, ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, is shite and so are you.

We Don’t Need Nobody Else – Whipping Boy (1995, Sony Records, Taken from ‘Heartworm’)

‘We Don’t Need Anybody Else’ doesn’t quite glorify domestic violence (although, you could argue it has a funny way of showng it) but rather looks at the unhealthy and complex relationships that can escalate with unpredictable consequences.  Yes it has that lyric “I hit you for the first time today….Christ we weren’t even fighting…” and everything that it seems to indicate but it is so much more that line.  The intensity of the lyrics as they are delivered and the way the music explodes around it, is, and remains, staggering.

Most people argued that the song at number two should have been number one and in retrospect they were probably right as it was this: –

Common People – Pulp (1995, Island Records, Taken from ‘Different Class’) and it is still quite simply one of the greatest songs by any band anywhere in the history of music.  It doesn’t sound it but ‘Common People’ is actually quite a political song because underneath those irresistible hooks is anger at those who identify as working class to try and be more authentic.  It is a record that defined a generation.

Elsewhere in the Top Ten were tracks by the likes of Oasis (‘Some Might Say’ at Number 9), Radiohead (‘High & Dry’ at Number 8), Black Grape (‘Reverend Black Grape’ at Number 6) and Ash (‘Girl From Mars’ at Number 4). The rest of the top ten were tracks where a guitar could barely be heard.  At Number Three for instance was this :-

No Government – Nicolette (1995, Shut Up and Dance, Taken from ‘Now is Early’) which despite being released three years earlier got a well deserved re-released and was something I described as “Majestic jazz infused magnificence”.  Which of course it is, but its also full of laid back breakbeats and Eartha Kitt style vocals.  It still sounds marvellous today as well.

At Number five was a track that ushered in the next big scene to emerge out the dying embers of Britpop,  At first the press called it Amyl House, and then after several of the main acts starting hanging out with indie pop stars it morphed into Britbeat but that was terrible and so in a hail of trumpets, 303s and arpeggiators, the NME proudly invented ‘Big Beat’ in homage to the colossal beats that Fatboy Slim threw into a series of remixes of indie pop classics.  Me, I put it a bit more simply when I made ‘Leave Home’ a single of the week.

 “Throw out your Suede records you sad indie losers and dance like bastards to this instead

Leave Home – Chemical Brothers (1995, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Exit Planet Dust’)

Finally at Number Ten, a record that I still love today. 

Release Yo’ Delf – Method Man (1995, Def Jam Records, Taken from ‘Tical’) – it was the first in a hip hop triple header, at eleven was Gangsta’s Paradise and at twelve ‘Criminology’ be Raekwon.

The One Word Countdown – #50

Welcome to the best ten weeks of your life….

Number 50

Go – Moby (1991, Rough Trade Records Taken from ‘Moby’)

Points 82

In 2000, I saw Moby at Glastonbury – he was the second headliner on The Other Stage, and he ended his set with a mammoth version of ‘Go’ as the sun started to set and the first lights of dusk twinkled into life, it filled the entire arena and it was incredible. 

What wasn’t incredible was the mad scramble to get out of the arena and hot foot it across the farm in time to see The Chemical Brothers tear up the Main Stage.  The main problem was that everyone (or nearly everyone) who was in the Main Arena was heading to the Other Stage to see Nine Inch Nails (having previously been rocking out to Nickelback or someone just as awful) and everyone (or nearly everyone) who was in the Other Stage area was heading the other way.  It isn’t the first time rock and rave have clashed but I have to say the Klaxons did it far it better.

‘Go’ originally surfaced as B side to Moby’s debut single ‘Mobility’ and was almost left buried, unloved, and unplayed as just that.  But a year or so later he decided to make an alternative version of the song built around a sample from Twin Peaks (and in particular from Angelo Badalamenti’s ‘Lauras Theme’) and that got picked up and released as a single and it kind of made Moby’s career.  It went top Ten in the UK. 

It’s a great record, those eerie Twin Peaks strings at the start that lead into a feast of clashing beats which quickly kick in alongside the sampled vocals (which I think came courtesy of Jocelyn Brown) and relentless breakbeats.

Of course, ‘Go’ isn’t the only Moby song that has a One Word Title.  I very nearly went for this

Porcelain – Moby (1999, Mute Records, Taken from ‘Play) but of course you could have this too

Hymn – Moby (1994, Mute Records, Taken from ‘Everything Is Wrong’)

But I think I made the right choice.  There were also a couple of other songs named ‘Go’ that were also briefly under consideration for the longlist but both were eliminated for other tracks by the same acts.

Go – Public Service Broadcasting (2015, Test Card Recordings, Taken from ‘The Race for Space’)  – bit of a spoiler – Public Service Broadcasting haven’t featured on this rundown yet….unlike this lot who peaked at number 107.

Go – Chemical Brothers (2015, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Born in the Echoes’)

The Great One Word Title Countdown – The Didn’t Quite Make It List #1

Here – Pavement (1990, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Slanted & Enchanted)

Today and tomorrow will celebrate the 11 songs that didn’t quite make it into the Top 100, songs for sole reason that they simply didn’t get enough points. They are songs that are, unlike yesterday’s offerings, at least loved by someone.   Each of the songs listed today, only get one vote and then it was quite low down in the Top 30.  For what its worth I fully expected all five of these to feature much higher up the chart.

The first song is ‘Here’ by Pavement.  Which for the record is one of the best songs on one of the best albums ever made, and had I not opened up this nonsense to all and sundry would have probably been in the Top Ten.  Talking of probably being in the Top Ten, here’s Daft Punk.

Contact – Daft Punk (2013, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘Random Access Memories’)

 ‘Contact’ is incredible, a six minute long techno blast that samples Gene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the moon.   For those of you who care about this sort of thing, the last sentence spoken by a human on the moon was this genuinely “Let’s get this mother out of here”.  

Talking of mothers and samples and Daft Punk for that matter, here’s Ye.

Stronger – Kanye West (2007, Def Jam Records, Taken from ‘Graduation’)

Ye may not have made the Top 100 but the fact that he scored more points than Pavement, LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk combined irks me in a way that I can’t explain. 

Mannequin – Wire (1977, Harvest Records, Taken from ‘Pink Flag’)

What I also can’t explain is why it took me so long to fall for the erm, wiry charms of Wire.  Twenty seven years ago, a guy I knew gave me a copy of ‘Pink Flag’ as a present.  I think I may have listened to it two or three times before placing it in a box and forgetting about it.  Six months ago after listening to a Chumbawamba cover version of ‘Mannequin’ I revisited ‘Pink Flag’ and its extraordinarily good.

Finally for today we have Chemical Brothers, again an act I expect to do very well – maybe I chose the wrong song for them, although I’m struggling to think of a better one word song for them that this epic blend of big beats and hip hop

Galvanise – Chemical Brothers (2004, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Push the Button’)