Rearranging the Flowers – A Pointless Whodunnit with musical interludes and 7 chapters – #1

(So, I’m going to see how this goes down….Take notes, you might need them later….But let me introduce something that I probably won’t ever do again – something which I think is a first for a music blog – a murder mystery with musical interludes.   Yes.  You read that right.)

I was stuck on the church roof when I first heard the news. 

Now, I know what you are thinking.  It is one of two things.  Either you are looking back at the first line of this and wondering what news I had heard.  Or you are wondering what I am doing on the church roof in the first place.  Or you might be one of these people who think ahead and right now you are thinking about both things, why is he on the church roof and is it connected to the news that he had just heard?

Let me try to explain. 

Long Story Short – Taylor Swift (2020, self released, Taken from ‘evermore’)

The reason I am on the roof is because Dave the church caretaker had asked me to go up there and sort the concrete on a couple of loose bricks from the turret.  It is a ten minute job at best and as Dave the church caretaker has a heart problem he can’t possibly climb up all the steps and carry a bucket of concrete at the same time so he asked me to do it.

Dave’s Song – Whitney (2016, Secretly Canadian Records, Taken from ‘Light Upon The Lake’)

Although of course the real reason that I am stuck on the church roof is because the door slammed behind me and rather stupidly it only opens from the inside.   The vicar definitely told me before I went up the tower steps to make sure that I wedged the door open with the handily placed rock, because due to a dodgy builder from the 17th century – the door only opens one way and despite him telling me this little more than 15 minutes ago.  I still forgot.   I stepped up on to the tower roof, took a deep breath. (You know a proper lung full), of the clean countryside air, stretched my arms up over my head, took in the view and then cursed as the wind blew the door shut behind me. It felt odd cursing on a church roof, but right now I have no sensible way of getting down.

God! Show Me Magic – Super Furry Animals (1996, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Fuzzy Logic’)

I also realised two other things up there on the tower roof, well three if you include the fact that sky to the west had gone a very dark colour and it looked like it was going to absolutely chuck it down.  Firstly, my phone, was in my bag, and my bag was down in the church office or the vestibule as I think it’s correctly called.  I had obviously just shrugged when the door slammed and thought I’ll just call Dave, he’ll help get the vicar to open the door, but I can’t do that now.  The second thing was that this concrete was rapidly going off so I might as well sort the brick problem out.  The vicar was bound to come and check on me if I am not back in an hour because he wants me gone by three as he has to take a Bible Class and needs ‘total quiet’ for that.

What Took You So Long? – Courteeners (2008, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘St Jude’)

Of course, literally everyone in the village, with the possible exception of Mr Figgis from Oak Cottage, knows that in reality the vicars Bible Class usually consists of him and Mrs Figgis from Oak Cottage going at it like a couple of springtime rabbits in the vestibule whilst the flower arrangers’ fuss about with the hydrangeas in the main church. 

Springtime – Leatherface (1991, Roughneck Records, Taken from ‘Mush’)

But surprisingly enough that isn’t the news that I heard whilst stuck on the church tower roof.  That  news I heard just as I set the second concrete brick back onto the turret.  It came from inside the church via a small air vent that pumps out onto the tower roof.  It was a Kevin’s voice, he is one of the flower arrrangers.  I knew it was him because of his Cockney accent, even though he tells everyone he is from Whitley Bay.  It was clear as anything and it sounds like he was talking to someone else.

“It’s done.  She’s dead.  I poisoned her just like you said”.

The Great One Word Title Countdown – The Didn’t Quite Make It List #2

I was going to feature six songs today.  But a strange quirk of fate, one of the songs is due to be posted tomorrow as part of the ‘Nearly Perfect Album’ series and we can’t have the same song two days running, that would make us the blog version of Dave.  It is ‘Miniskirt’ by Canadian trip hoppers Braids in case anyone doesn’t like cliffhangers and won’t sleep tonight due to nervous excitement.

Anyway, lets start today with a rolling bass line, airy chimes and heavy techno synths and another track I expected to do much better than it did.

Pyramid – Four Tet (2011, Text Records, Taken from ‘Pink’)

I said yesterday that most of the songs that bubbled just outside the Top 100 appeared only once in all the returned votes.  That much is true with the exception of this next track.  ‘Depreston’ by Courtney Barnett featured in three Top 30’s, sadly for Courtney it was ranked 25 or under in all of them.  Meaning that despite being in more Top 30’s than most of the records list from 75 – 100 it didn’t score many points, making it the unfortunate winner of the Most Popular Unsuccessful Record in the Countdown Award.  Some of the other awards on offer in this series are  “Most Marmite Record” – for the track that people either seem to love or hate, “Song that Appears in the Most Top 30s” – which is not strangely the record that topped the list at the end of the voting and Most Psychic Jury Member – one of our jury successfully predicted 17 of the Top 20….But not quite in the right order, that would have been just too damn scary.

Depreston – Courtney Barnett (2015, Mom + Pop Records, Taken from ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit’)

Anyone out there remember Grand Theft Auto III, the groundbreakingly violent crime game on Playstation 2?  One of the tasks in the second bit of the game was to run around the city reaching various ringing telephones before the timer ran out.  It was clearly inspired pastiche by the classic Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry, which was of course scored by Lalo Schifrin.  Another game that leaned heavily on a Schifrin scored film was the ‘Driver’ series, which took its inspiration from Bullitt.  The theme of which is just a remarkable piece of work and very early crept into this Top 100

Bullitt (Main Theme) – Lalo Schifrin (1969, Warner Bros Records, Taken from ‘Bullitt Soundtrack’)

Next Up a track I featured a few weeks ago in the Nearly Perfect Album Series, and one that has done so badly its almost feels criminally neglected.  Unbelievably its ‘Demons’ by Super Furry Animals and it’s still a tremendous few minutes of indie brilliance.

Demons – Super Furry Animals (1997, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Radiator’)

Next up Boards of Canada, the first thing that you should all know about them is that they are not from Canada (although they did live there, whilst there dad helped build an ice hockey stadium) and are not boards either.  They are in fact two brothers from the east coast of Scotland, who in the late nineties ripped up the Electronica Rule book when they unleashed their landmark ‘Music Has the Right to Children’ album. 

Roygbiv – Boards of Canada (1998, Warp Records, Taken ‘Music has the Right to Children’)

And that completes the round up of all the tracks of note that didn’t make the Top 100.  On Monday, we start to countdown…

It’s Monday, Let’s Swear – #17

The Man Don’t Give a Fuck – Super Furry Animals (1996, Creation Records)

As per yesterday, this is going to be the last sweary Monday track for a little while.  It has been a series which at times has been puerile (The Teenagers), downright disgusting (Azaliea Banks), thought provoking (Eels) and disturbing (Primal Scream) but has always started the week off with some decent swearing.

There is a reason for putting this series on hold.  All will be explained from next Monday, which if my maths is correct will be June 27th.  Anyway before that let’s have one final good old swear.  ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ was the inspiration to this series – well that and the entire back catalogue of Anal C____.  It is probably the finest sweary song in existence.

Around ten years ago, possibly longer, I was waiting for a bus in Exeter City Centre.  Across the road from the bus stop was a pedestrian area where a guy with a guitar, a small amp and a mike had been playing a few songs.  He wasn’t bad but he also wasn’t very good.  My bus appeared to be no in rush so I sat and watched the chap, about two minutes later a couple of security guards start talking to him, they are the security guards from the nearby posh jewellery shop and they seem to have taken offence at chappie’s second rate Beatles covers.  There is some finger pointing and chappie then just shrugs his shoulders and launches into ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  The guards walk off.  As soon as they have gone, chappie segues, not quite seamlessly into a verse of ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’.  It is subvertly brilliant in a not very brilliant sort of way, and as my bus rolls in, almost perfectly timed, I nip over and shove a couple of quid in his hat. 

The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (Live) – Super Furry Animals (1996, Creation Records)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash –  The Rolling Stones (1968, Decca Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums – #24

Radiator – Super Furry Animals

Demons – Super Furry Animals (1997, Creation Records)

Is this the first record in this series that is on Creation Records?  I think it might be, it’s definitely not the last that much I do know (and I might do a whole month dedicated to Creation Records releases soon).  Anyway before that, let’s talk about ‘Radiator’ the brilliant, relentless second studio album from the Super Furry Animals.  It is an album that I think moves away from the strange slightly skewed version of Britpop that their first album ‘Fuzzy Logic’ delivered and is more an album steeped in experimental pop sounds and dalliances with some seriously distorted techno.  It is also an album brimming with confidence and exceptional lyrics.

None more so than in the single ‘Hermann loves Pauline’ which is essentially about Albert Einstein’s parents, but takes on an acid laden path via Ernesto Guevera and Marie Curie (“Ha, French BREAD!!)

Hermann Loves Pauline – Super Furry Animals (1997, Creation Records)

There are so many highlights on this record, you could of course just talk about the other singles on it, the swooping country brass tinged, smoke flavoured ballad that is ‘Demons’.  Or the wonderfully dysfunctional leftfield indie pop of ‘Play It Cool’.

If ‘Demons’ had been released in the Britpop era it would have catapulted the band from being ‘popular’ to instant megastars, only for the band to have driven all over that status in their bright blue techno tank a few months later.  

Wonderful as all that is, it is the last three songs on ‘Radiator’ that pushes it from being a simply brilliant album to one that is nearly perfect.  It is during these three songs that you see all the ideas that the band have blending together, ideas that seemingly grew into other songs for other albums.  The slow burning but brilliant ‘Down A Different River’ is a song that reflects on a cocaine misadventure, it blends lofi Americana with the merest hint of electronica and its utterly captivating

Down A Different River – Super Furry Animals (1997, Creation Records)

The album closes with a massive sing along, the chest puffing, fist raising epic that is ‘Mountain People’.  A song that if the Welsh Assembly had any sense, they would lobby whoever they need to in order to make it the Welsh National Anthem as soon as possible.  Although the musical breakdown at the end, which features all manner of electronic spluttering, relentless out of sorts drum beats and mangled bleeps, (all of it totally unexpected) might prove awkward at future sporting events. 

Mountain People – Super Furry Animals (1997, Creation Records)

Music Found in Charity Shops – #6

Rings Around the World – Super Furry Animals

Bought from British Heart Foundation – Newton Abbot for £1.99

Sadly, the CD didn’t also contain a copy of the interactive DVD that was also released at the same time as ‘Rings Around the World’.  That featured 13 specially made films each one accompanying one of the tracks on the album.  It was basically 60 minutes of space age nonsense, pot smoking lunacy and some explosions if memory serves me rightly.  Kind of like a Cheech and Chong movie for the 2000s. 

‘Rings Around the World’ is the bands fifth album, and as you would expect, none of it is conventional.  You get strings, Vocoder style vocals, electronic gizmo gadgets, digitalised drum beats, explosive guitars and techno blasts that sound a lot like the sort of noise that you would hear on Warp records. Take these two for instance

No Sympathy – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

Juxtaposed with U – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

‘No Sympathy’ clocks in at over seven minutes, during which Gruff Rhys tells us that somebody “deserves to die” over the backdrop of an acoustic guitar and some very gentle drums.  Then just as you think its going to end, it turns into a full on techno stomp.  Its marvellous.

Meanwhile, ‘Juxatopsed with U’ a single that we are all probably accustomed too by now, cleverly manages to fuse a wonderfully soppy ballad with Daft Punk style robot vocals and in doing so, creates an almost perfectly wonky pop song.

Its not all leftfield genius though, track five for instance is a baffling as it is irritating.  Its called ‘Receptacle for the Respectable’, which is a track that is crafted around the sound of Paul McCartney eating carrots and celery (and he is credited as such in the sleeve notes).  Macca would have been better off making a soup out of his carrots instead of wasting his time there.

Receptacle for the Respectable – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

But the band save the best track until the very end, ‘Fragile Happiness’ which has fast become one of my favourite Super Furry Animals tracks, it short but devastatingly beautiful.  It contains no gizmo gadgets, no strings or digitalised drum beats, just a falsetto vocal and some whistling. 

Fragile Happiness – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)