Yeah, afraid not lads
The debate has been raging for months and years and will go on literally until the end of time, but I’ve finally cracked it – I’ve compiled a list of the Top 20 Great British Bands of all time… according to me. It was a painful, emotional and often unnerving experience, as I watched groups that I adore trundle along the imaginary conveyor belt in my mind, only to clumsily fall off like overfilled cardboard boxes right at the very end. Amongst them The Rah Band who could boogie with the best of them at one point, Dexys Midnight Runners who were consistently excellent, Massive Attack who provided anthems for 1990s dope smokers, The Jam, The Smiths, New Order. Loose Ends. The Shadows. Average White Band. I secretly like Duran Duran and The Pasedenas. Even Wham! One of my guilty pleasures is Young Guns by Wham! I fucking love that track. But in the end I got there. You won’t find Coldplay, Keane, Radiohead, Blur or Oasis in this list. Basically because I don’t like those groups. Neither will you find Queen on account of me not standing them, which is unusual…
1. Small Faces
The greatest band of them all for so many reasons. They dressed in fine outfits made from continental thread, they weren’t alarmingly tall which is neither here nor there, but most importantly they made great tunes, made even better on account of Steve Marriott having the howliest British rock roar of all time. When Marriott eventually flounced off, they famously dropped the Small and employed a guy with a dreadful cough called Rod Stewart.
2. The Beatles
Everyone likes The Beatles. Everyone. Even people who go on about how much they hate The Beatles secretly get home every night and dance naked in front of a mirror to Twist and Shout or Hey Jude. They’re just really bloody excellent, even Ringo who had a foghorn voice and was hilariously considered the twelfth best drummer in the band. Both Revolver and Rubber Soul would make my all-time top 100 albums list. The below track, however, features on neither of those records.
3. The Specials
For those who don’t remember 2-Tone, it involved wearing clothes that were a touch too tight and running on the spot to reggae played a touch too fast. So in short, it was fucking amazing, and of the swathes of bands that bum rushed the charts this one was the best. Their presence here means there’s no room for Madness, The Selecter, or Bad Manners. Although there never would have been room for Bad Manners anyway. No offense.
4. The Kinks
The quintessential English band, that’s what everyone says about The Kinks. They’d sing about things like sipping a cup of tea and bonking the vicar’s wife, or about a buxom man-women they met in a seedy Soho coffee shop. All with a wry smile, a cheeky wink, and a fist punched into the crease in their forearm accompanied by a big chorus of “phwoooar look at the arse on that!”. Without them we wouldn’t have bands like Blur, which may or may not be a good thing. It would mean no almighty cheese prick Alex James. Yeah, perhaps we hate The Kinks. Actually no, we love them. Sorry.
5. Black Sabbath
Before he married a frumpy lady in a floor length Laura Ashley frock who was the opposite of his usual crumpet called Sharon Arden, Ozzy Osbourne was in a band called Black Sabbath, and they were really really fucking loud. So loud your ears would actually grow skin over them during the course of an album. So loud that voices in your head would start to exist just to tell them to stop. So loud that you wouldn’t hear an explosion unless it was actually in your face. So loud that they keep other heavy rock bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden and the Zep out of the top 20. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, because the Zep were AMAZING and should definitely be on this list. And yet they’re not.
6. The Rolling Stones
Old Rubber-Face and the girls have been around so long and now look so old and decrepit like a collection of line drawings wearing suits that it’s hard to remember that when they were younger they were great looking like hot European chicks and innovative like serious German scientists. They were dangerous innovators and over the years they have produced some outstanding music moments.
7. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Don’t be fooled by the strange pissing noises and the fact these guys look precisely like glue sniffers, they’re the real deal. They’re artistes, which is French for artists. They’re also Scotiche, which is French for Scottish. The below clip comes with an introduction from the original Pixie Geldof – Paula Yates.
As funk bands go, the US had it nailed, but Cymande could go toe to toe with any one of them in the 1970s. Formed in London in 1971, they’re still going, and if you listen to this stuff for long enough your trousers morph into flared jeans and some wicked sideburns just appear from nowhere.
9. The Who
If it’s a loud 1960s mod band with buckets of attitude you’re after, try The Who. If you’re looking for solid 1970s rock featuring a man who was separated at birth from Kevin Keegs, try The Who. In the mood for a rock opera?…. you’re probably starting to get the gist of this. Like it when songs start all teasingly slow and then suddenly feature aggressive guitar licks and mad drum skills? I’m doing it again aren’t I?
10. The Style Council
The debate will rage until the planet finally explodes itself on account of global warming, but who is better, The Jam or The Style Council? Both Paul Weller groups, they divide people. One were all jackets and haircuts, the other soft synths, a bit of sax, and men looking like they’d oiled up and recreated Brideshead Revisited. In my case, I like to take The Jam from October to March, then from April to September I prefer The Style Council. At the moment, I’m in an April kind of mood what with it actually being April, so you do the math(s).
11. The Coral
Merseyside has a great tradition in churning out fantastic pop groups, and these cheeky chappies follow in a great tradition that follows The Beatles, The Farm, The Boo Radley’s and Cast. Yes, most of the bands just mentioned are utter shit. That was the joke. These guys aren’t though, hence why they keep The Zutons, The Las and all manner of other floppy haircuts in tight jeans out of this line up.
12. Gang of Four
Time was when you could go for a job interview in a stuffy office working for THE MAN during the afternoon, then head off to perform your political socialist mantras on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the evening without bothering to change outfits. Above are post-punkers Gang of Four. A band that keeps Orange Juice, The Pop Group and Magazine out of the running for reasons of being ever so slightly better.
13. Soul II Soul
Jazzie B is the only human being who has ever dared to pick up a keyboard/guitar without looking like the world’s most stupid prick. Hence Soul II Soul keeps Young Disciples, Freeez, and Loose Ends out of the running. Just.
14. The Clash
Probably three of the greatest front men of all time stuck into a single band, Jones, Simonon and Strummer were like three Springsteens, only not quite so palatable in a good way. The Clash were also the pick of the 1970s British punk bands, so they keep The Damned and the Sex Pistols off the list.
15. Arctic Monkeys
Definitely the most current band on the list, Arctic Monkeys are continuing the trend of nifty bands coming out of the Northern city of Sheffield, which is famous for making steel and generally being an incredibly depressing place for everyone involved – ABC, Pulp, Heaven 17, The Human League. Of that lot, these guys are possibly the best. They can’t quite beat local legend Joe Cocker though. Not yet.
As a band, Aswad were far better than their international saccharine smash Don’t Turn Around would have you believe. An excellent, excellent reggae group, with an occasional singing drummer thrown in to boost them up to Warp Factor A Million on the Wicked-o-Metre. They keep UB40 out of the Top 20.
17. The Slits
Long before The Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, The Sundays, The Mondays, Little Mix and One Direction girl groups were already going super strong in the UK. Look at The Slits – below in 1979. Their lead singer Ari Up invented a revolutionary one-legged dance, which she’d occasionally practice in one of London’s many parks.
18. The Stone Roses
For a strange period in the 1990s, everyone thought it was cool to talk in a Manchester accent and walk around like a really arrogant version of Charlie Chaplin with their feet pointing in opposite directions. That was entirely thanks to the Madchester explosion that started when these guys detonated a pop-funk-dance-rock bomb and ended when the shaved gorillas in Oasis started throwing their weight around because they’d just that minute taken a bunch of coke. Oasis didn’t make the list.
19. Echo and the Bunnymen
Although as a child the bitter disappointment of not seeing a rabbit on guitar or a big brown hare on drums would have me shouting and throwing bricks at the TV whenever these guys were on Top of the Pops, you just can’t fault them as a band. They’ve got all the ingredients: a guy on guitar, someone singing, a bloke playing bass, a wild feral animal smashing around on the drums. They keep The Smiths and The Cure out of the running.
20. Public Image Ltd
Johhny Rotten’s second most famous band, but my favourite of the two – they had a slightly less shouty thing happening, and proved once and for all that Rotten really can’t sing. Not that it matters.
Now, after a week of carrot-dangling, we’re finally at the summit – celebrating the greatest UK Number One singles of all time. Each one is brilliant for a reason. The Kinks make the list for introducing the world to an early incarnation of rock music with “You Really Got Me“. Sinead O’Connor’s heartfelt rendition of a song written by Prince remains one of the most angry and emotional love songs of all time. The Rolling Stones had many decent smash hits, but “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” kicks all of them right in the underpants. “Billie Jean” makes the cut for not only being one of Jackson’s finest, but also because it’s one of his WEIRDEST – that people still dance enthusiastically to a song about an insane delusional fan is completely brilliant. The Beach Boys managed two UK Number One’s, the first of which, “Good Vibrations”, is a masterpiece of musical arrangement, and possibly the electro-theremin‘s finest hour. Paul Hardcastle managed to mix the dialogue from a documentary about post-traumatic stress disorder,“Vietnam Requiem”, with serious synthesizers to make a dance record with an ideology. “Ghost Town” by The Specials also veered into the pop charts waving a political flag, this time spookily condemning Thatcher’s Britain, and creating a truly eerie pop/reggae fusion. The Jam kept “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers off the top spot with Weller’s ode to Woking, which is also a great rock record to dance to – just watch “Billy Elliot” if you don’t believe us. Althea and Donna were a shock one week/one hit wonder back in 1978, thanks to some sterling work by the late, great John Peel – if there is such thing as a cult number one, then this is it. And The Beatles were always going to be sitting somewhere near the top, and, as it is, they snatched the crown with probably the greatest A/B side combination of them all – “Paperback Writer” and (the EVEN BETTER) “Rain”. Only two other A/B combos came into contention throughout the 40 – “Penny Lane”/”Strawberry Fields”, until we realised that it didn’t make it to the top of the charts, it peaked at Number 2. And “Start”/”Liza Radley” by The Jam. But, in the end, this one prevailed, whilst the other two didn’t. Hence, this is our best Top Ten ever. Enjoy…
1A. The Beatles, Paperback Writer (1966)
1B. The Beatles, Rain (1966)
2. Althea and Donna, Uptown Top Ranking (1978)
3. The Jam, A Town Called Malice (1982)
4. The Specials, Ghost Town (1981)
5. Paul Hardcastle, 19 (1985)
6. The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations (1966)
7. Michael Jackson, Billie Jean (1983)
8. The Rolling Stones, Satisfaction (1965)
9. Sinead O’Connor, Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)
10. The Kinks, You Really Got Me (1964)
And so to the second installment of our chart countdown, which features only top selling singles. The ones that smashed through the roof of the hit parade. You won’t find Pixie Lott here, sadly, because we have no idea what she/he sounds like. You will, however, be thrown into the past with some classic Beatles action. Plus Musical Youth (pictured), some melancholic folk music from Don McLean, the second greatest David Bowie single of all time, and Mark Morrison – that’s right, Mark Morrison. Often the victim of cruel jokes about being a great big lummox, let’s not forget that for a small window in 1996, he released one of the finest gangster R&B love songs ever written. Seriously, we genuinely love this record. Hence numbers 21-30 read like this…
21. The Beatles, She Loves You (1963)
22. Soft Cell, Tainted Love (1981)
23. David Bowie, Let’s Dance (1983)
24. The Jam, Going Underground (1980)
25. Gnarls Barkley, Crazy (2006)
26. Beats International, Dub Be Good To Me (1990)
27. Musical Youth, Pass The Dutchie (1982)
28. Don McLean, Vincent (1971)
29. Mark Morrison, Return of The Mack (1996)
30. Pet Shop Boys, West End Girls (1986)
Absolutely including this lot…
The big news is that John Lydon is reforming his old group Public Image Ltd to go on some kind of tour. And that got us to thinking. PiL was Lydon’s second successful stab at the big time with a band, but what other artists have been lucky enough to enjoy two days or more in the sunshine? We decided to come up with ten of the best, with the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets, The Raconteurs, Gorillaz and The Foo Fighters all falling at the final hurdle…
1. The Style Council
The Jam split up in 1982 and Weller formed The Style Council in 1983. Much to a lot of Jam fan’s disgust. Where were the spikey guitar riffs? Fuck me, is that a PIANO? The Style Council were much silkier and soulful. They wore lovely cardigans. It was picnic-pop, but totally brilliant. Weller’s finest hour?
2. The JB’s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, James Brown ploughed through backing band line ups – mainly because he was a massive soul bastard, and paid everyone in either punches or peanuts. The JB’s provided the sound for his golden period in the early 1970s, succeeding The Famous Flames, The James Brown Band, and The James Brown Orchestra. Bootsy Collins on bass, “Jabo” Starks on drums, Fred Wesley at the back tromboning. So to speak.
3. Public Image Ltd
Formed in 1978, almost directly after the Sex Pistols had imploded, PiL featured John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten), Keith Levene – once of The Clash – and Jah Wobble. Or, at least, the first line up did. Over the years, almost twenty thousand people could claim to have once been a member of PiL. You were probably in the band without realising it. Lydon’s best band.
4. Humble Pie
Small Faces were bloody excellent, Humble Pie weren’t too bad either – much rockier, intent on wooing audiences in America. They initially got together after Steve Marriott had failed to convince his Small Faces bandmates to allow Peter Frampton to join the group, so he flounced off and made Humble Pie instead. For the first half of the 1970s, they were a fantastic band, then Marriott went a little bit loco.
5. New Order
After Ian Curtis decided to dance weirdly into the eternal night in 1980, the Joy Division morphed into New Order – a far more oily band, replacing their office temp outfits for short shorts, and highlights in their hair. All three surviving members– Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris – stayed on board, with the addition of Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert on keyboard guitar. As anyone who reads massive textbooks about war well knows, the Joy Division was a reference to the prostitution wing of concentration camps during the Second World War, New Order was incorrectly seen to be taken from a quote in Mein Kampf. The band are not fascists.
Wings, though rather unfashionable to like, were actually a pretty decent band. Not, obviously, as good as The Beatles, but tracks like Maybe I’m Amazed and Live and Let Die would have been great additions to any Beatles back catalogue. In fact, the latter was produced by George Martin. They were also the only permanent band formed by any of The Beatles after the split, with McCartney leading the merry troupe for around ten years. He might even have been a Wing for longer than he was a Beatle. They enjoyed much chart success with Linda on backing vocals.
7. Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby was once of The Byrds, Stills was once of Buffalo Springfield, and Nash was once of The Hollies. All very successful, sometimes brilliant, pop groups. Hence, this was seen as something of a supergroup project when the three formed in 1968. And yet, they’re still going. Or, at least, on and off. They were so-named to prevent any of the bandmates stealing the name of the group should any of them decided to leave – a result of bitter experience in the cases of Crosby and Nash – and Neil Young would occasionally join in, making it Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Rather cleverly.
8. Lucy Pearl
Like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lucy Pearl was made up of three big names from successful R&B and hip hop groups. There was Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone!, Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. Originally D’Angelo was supposed to join in too, but some kind of commitment clash meant that he couldn’t. In the original formation, they only managed to squeeze out one album – in 2000 – but the good news is that it was a corker.
9. Big Audio Dynamite
After getting royally booted out of The Clash, Mick Jones shuffled around for a bit, then eventually formed Big Audio Dynamite with reggae/punk legend Don Letts in 1984. With Jones on lead vocals for once, they became known for mixing punk rock with reggae, hip hop, and whatever kind of genre they fancied with an impressive degree of success and innovation. Their biggest hit came with E=MC2 in 1986. Which isn’t featured below.
10. Gnarls Barkley
Both members of Gnarls Barkley have enjoyed musical success with other groups. Danger Mouse with the Damon Albarn cartoon vanity project Gorillaz, and Cee-Lo Green with the popular US rap group Goodie Mob – who were particularly popular in the 1990s thanks to their affiliation with Outkast, and the rise in popularity of raps from the Deep South. As Gnarls Barkley, everyone knows them for that great song about going bananas.
Hello, Miss Punchy
For those of you with appetites whetted but nowhere to sink your fangs, we have been doing odds and ends for the wonderful grown up gossip site Hecklerspray – which, by the way, we shall be guest editing later in the month, more on that nearer the time. This week, we decided to honour the approaching end of festival season by looking at some rather intriguing live performers. WARNING: Includes a Winehouse face jab.
Elsewhere in the world, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and if you missed out on reserving tickets for tomorrow’s sold out comedy show, we will be hosting another one on October 2nd. Come along to that one instead!
Barbara Bach, if you can’t remember, was a Bond girl who went on to marry Ringo Starr – the fourth best looking Beatle. Wow, what a dream for a girl. Deep sexual kisses from Roger Moore, and Ringo. Amazing. What could she possibly want for on this, her 62nd birthday? We talked long into the night about potential gift ideas, before it boiled down to a simple toss up between a bag of crystal meth, or a clip of her husband and his appalling singing voice. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Barbara Bach!
Drink Less, Miss Less
Bobbie Gentry – a woman – is turning 65 today. She was a really popular singer/songwriter in the 1960s, once even knocking Sgt Pepper off the top of the album charts in America. And, well, that’s all we know. It’s a rubbish day for birthdays, frankly. It was either her or Dick Van Dyke’s brother, Jerry. Pretty lame. Even so, we thought we’d get Bobbie a gift, so we all put hooded tops on and sat at the back of a bus whispering ideas to one another and occasionally glaring at people, until it boiled down to a toss up between a small bag of strawberries or a an anti-binge drinking video starring Lauren Laverne that a PR company wondered if we’d feature on the site. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Bobbie Gentry!
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
When it comes to the Lennon/McCartney debate, we rather unfashionably prefer Paul McCartney. That might be because our first ever single was Ebony and Ivory, it might be because he was the real genius in The Beatles. We just don’t know. Also rather unfashionably, we think that Wings were completely brilliant. Above is some proof of that.
The Beatles Cartoon, Paperback Writer
Ringo Starr – you know, of Beatles fame – turns 68 today, so he and Paul McCartney will presumably be getting together to drop acid and mime about the old times. And what old times they were, when four dirty little scamps in leather bondage gear suddenly took the music world by the throat and declared to God-fearing Americans that they were even more marvelous than Agamemnon and Moses put together. Or something like that. We don’t know, we’re making it up. We can’t remember the 60s, because we weren’t there. And we don’t mean that we were out of our minds, man. We mean that we weren’t born yet. Even so, we thought we’d get Ringo a gift, and it boiled down to a toss up between another ring, or a clip of an old cartoon. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Ringo!
Girl wears bikini in pool
When the plump-lipped mouth of fame kisses you, everything changes. It seems like only a few long years ago that Louis Walsh was the squealing thorn between Pete Waterman and Geri Halliwell’s roses on Popstars: The Rivals, a show which set out to find the next Beatles. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened when Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, George Harrison, Sarah Harding and Davey Jones walked through those studio doors and sang their little hearts out. They were all plump bearded women, hence, once the band was formed, they were immediately ordered to lose five stone each, wax their faces, and start working on their bikini bodies. Fast forward almost twenty years, and showbusiness desks all around London are steaming up as pictures of the girls land on their desks with unnerving regularity. Just yesterday, both Nadine and Cheryl were the focus of hysterical chit-chat in numerous VIP sections and shared toilet cubicles. Nadine, bless her, has been spotted sunning herself alongside giraffe-alike posho Lady Victoria Hervey. She’s wearing a bikini, which one showbiz reporter in particular seems to think is a wise summer choice.
Elsewhere in the world, Cheryl Cole left onlookers agog by wearing a dress so short that you could make out almost every last centimetre of her oily stick-thin legs. “They look great,” insists one journalist in particular, obviously confusing the words like pipe cleaners for the word great. And in non-Girls Aloud news, Jordan accidentally exited a taxi without showing the world her genitals.
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
Paul McCartney turns 67 today, and if anyone is walking proof that the lord giveth with one hand, and punches you in the stomach with the other, it’s Macca. The ups have included enormous success with his pop groups The Beatles and Wings. Massive downers have included frog choruses, bereavement, and a very bizarre one-legged nutcase, who took him to the cleaners. Hence, this year, we thought we’d get him a present, so we hit KFC for three boneless banquets, and we talked hard, before it boiled down to a toss up between one of those toy skateboards that you use with just your fingers, or a clip of one of the McCartney UP moments. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Macca!
Not including food products…
Copycatting – or, as some people call it, copydogging – is rife. If you write down a list of all of your favourite things – from foods, to films, to drinks, to songs, to clothes, to anything at all – they’re probably all total rip offs from something else. Pasta is one Italian man’s version of Chinese rice, whilst a gentleman’s shirt was originally modelled on the womanly blouses worn by buxom whores attracting incoming sailors. Even Scarface, yes Scarface, was a remake of another film called Scarface from 1932. Both great movies, by the way. And let’s not forget that Heinz Baked Beans have been ripped off and outbrillianted by Branston ones. Everything is a cover version. Everything. So, with that in mind, we peered at music, and deduced the four most impressive copydogs, as decided by us…
1. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends
Once in a while, The Beatles would throw Ringo a bone, and he’d get the chance to sing on an album. It was a move akin to Monet asking a hysterical four year old to finish off his lilies for him. It just never worked out. What Goes On (Rubber Soul), Yellow Submarine (Revolver), and then this on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – all the low points on great records. And yet, when Joe Cocker got his teeth into the song, it transformed into a gritty, rock-soul workout. Plus it reminds us of the brilliant Wonder Years. Here’s Ringo’s wrongo attempt…
2. The Clash, I Fought The Law
The Clash painted a snarling picture of spitting teens trying to put one over on the police, while the original – by The Crickets minus Buddy Holly, deceased – sounded more like a cheerful inmate regaling his jail buddies with something he’s just written in his cell. This, of course, making him a serious target for The Marys. Here’s that version…
3. Louie Louie, The Kingsmen
No doubt about it, The Kingsmen‘s version of Louie Louie is one of the greatest pop records ever made. The 1957 original, by Richard Berry, isn’t too bad either. It’s a doo-wap song about a Jamaican man explaining his love life to a bartender called Louie. It’s a far more docile affair…
4. Hey Joe, Jimi Hendrix
Fourth spot was a close call as ever, with some magnificent songs falling at the last minute – James Brown’s version of Think by The 5 Royales, Johnny Cash’s excellent cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Labelle doing Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones – but in the end, Hendrix just nicked it for Hey Joe. It was a hit for the garage rock band The Leaves just a year before Hendrix made it iconic in 1966. It was an extra close call, because The Leaves‘ version is almost just as excellent…
The Beatles, Don’t Let Me Down
Yes! Thursday! We adore Thursdays, because they’ve been recently declared – by us – the official day of love. A time for romance, snogging, and smearing handfuls of treacle into your lover’s soft thighs. Today, The Beatles explain how there’s a woman out there really watering their testicles. Yoko perhaps?
New Order, Temptation
The Jam or The Style Council? The Beatles or Wings? Small Faces or Humble Pie? These are debates that will rage for centuries to come. As will this one – Joy Division or New Order? Both exactly the same band, only one with a strange jerking lead singer, the other with an additional lady. Our vote goes to the latter.
Ananda Shankar, Streets of Calcutta
The excellent Indian Ravi Shankar turns 89 today, and he’s had quite a trip so far. He turned George Harrison into a pipe smoker of the highest order, and managed to sire Norah Jones while he was at it. Good for him. He is a wonderful sitar player. Hence we decided to get him a gift. We sat in an oblong and necked handfuls of psychedelic drugs to get in the mood, then discussions turned pretty weird. Orca – child of the wild stallion – blew a thought bubble insisting that Ravi needed to find the purple styrofoam road, while a whispering koala bear kept repeating the words “dental freshness” over and over again. It was an unusual night. In the end we settled on some trippy music by Ravi’s nephew, Ananda. Happy Birthday, Shankar!
The Coral, Dreaming of You
Of course, Merseyside has a great tradition in churning out fantastic pop groups, and this is one of the best since The Beatles. Above is their most catchy tune so far. Fabulous.
The Chiffons, He’s So Fine
Were he still with us, George Harrison would be turning 66 today. And what a 66 years! A member of The Beatles, a member of The Traveling Wilburys, some argue that he was the true genius. So, what to get such a marvelous pop star? We formed a think tank using flipcharts, and drew graphs and pictures of spiders webs long into the night, before it boiled down to a large glass of Vimto, or a song that he may remember from back in his My Sweet Lord days. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday, Mr Harrision!
This man does not count
There is an enormous difference between a film produced/executive produced by a pop star, and a film that stars them as well. Most of the latter category feature rap music’s force of nature, Will Smith – a man who will surely direct himself playing the parts of God and Jesus in the same film one day. We can hardly wait. But until that day comes, we’ve decided to quench our thirst by looking at some of the greatest films produced by people in the music industry. These are the ones we like best…
1. Repo Man
A totally weird/brilliant film, what makes this punk-fuelled tale of car reposession, drugs and aliens even more surreal is that it was produced by Mike Nesmith from The Monkees. It stars Emilio Estevez – possibly at his peak – and Harry Dean Stanton, who is one of our favourite actors ever. Probably our sixth favourite to be precise.
Sorry Collins, no room at the inn
It’s difficult to pinpoint the coolest area of a band. Is it around the frontman/woman? Or is it at the back with the mentalist thrashing around on the drums? One thing is for sure, wherever Phil Collins lays his hat, it isn’t there. And, Ringo couldn’t plump Lennon, Harrison, nor McCartney for cool points either. Some people, however, have managed to occupy the front of stage, and the back of house, and have sparkled in both areas. Here is a rundown of our favourite drummers-slash-singers…
1 Chaka Khan
We all knew that Chaka Khan was a whole hunk of woman, with a voice so sharp and funky that it could cut through concrete, but who knew she could play the drums excellently as well? The perfect wife.
The Beatles, I Feel Fine
What can you get the man who started up The Kinks for his 62nd birthday? He’s already got everything – kudos, respect, balanced chakras, a Ready Brek glow. We argued long into the night, on a bench in the snow – careful not to sleep in case the icy hand of death snaffled us as we snoozed. It boiled down to a toss up between an ironic t-shirt with one of the Mr. Men on it, or an interesting video clip of his old chart enemies, The Beatles, being particularly complacent during a performance. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Mr Bump!
Hey man, it’s some people pretending to be hippies
Nothing sticks in the craw more than missing out on a cool party. You might have been sick in bed, or perhaps you just weren’t invited. Still, don’t mope around whining, get on with your life, soldier. Let it go. And do not, under any circumstances, attempt to recreate the amazing party, because it definitely won’t be the same, and you’ll invariably end up looking like a plonker. Take the Summer of Love in 1967, for example. The Beatles were there from the start with their hairy sideboards and little spectacles, brandishing Sergeant Pepper. Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane all gave a kick-ass show at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival. And The Rolling Stones pretty much missed the lot. Sensing that they might have just failed to catch a very important flowery train, they hurriedly threw together this album, just in time for December 1967 – the winter of the Summer of Love, if you like. Awash with songs about crazy futuristic people, rainbows, and citadels, the cover shows the five band members dressed up like technicolor druids in a magical land – their way of saying “sorry we’re late world, we’ve been tripping on mushies… being as we’re far out and everything!” Unfortunately, as a statement of hippydom, it’s up there with putting on a bowler hat and telling the world you’re a cowboy. Unconvincing.
Enjoy one of the cuts from the record after the jump…
The Beatles, Rain
The Beatles were amazing, everyone knows that, and the above track is the flipside to Paperback Writer. It’s a great video, made even better by George Harrison kicking it off with a rather grand notion…
Oop, has someone been smoking pot?
Although Sgt Pepper is often hailed as The Beatles’ druggie 1960s masterpiece, Revolver and Rubber Soul were equally far out, and frankly, better albums. Most fans will probably argue long into the night over which one is their greatest record, so we’ll settle it right now. Rubber Soul is their best to listen to, but Revolver has a more impressive cover. Bosh! Done! Now, as for the sleeve, it was clearly the band’s way of telling the world that they were totally into their drugs now – just look how zany they are! Photographs are mixed with cartoons, John is emerging from George’s hair, Paul has a cartoon of George in his ear, and Ringo has a half-man-half-toon Paul lying down on his head. Bonkers. It’s all just too bloody trippy – the album cover equivalent of telling your parents that you want to be a dancer by coming down for dinner in a frilly pink tutu.
Hear some classic Revolver after the jump…
Can you guess who number one might be?
Don’t be frightened if you find yourself in Liverpool and someone comes up to you and starts snorting, hacking, clearing their throat, sniffing and coughing – it’s just their way of saying “hello”. What they’re actually doing is talking. It’s weird. Equally weird is that such strange and indecipherable speaking voices can make for totally amazing singing voices. We’re thinking of Elvis Costello, the guy with the hair from The Zutons, the young scientists in Atomic Kitten. And yet, sadly, none of those people made the cut. The best second best bands from Liverpool read like this: