Thursday, 11 December 2008

Which Christmas compilation album has the best songs?

It's been months since my last update so I figured I’d go festive. I've set out to find the ultimate Christmas pop and cheese compilation album. There are some songs that must be on the ultimate compilation album and so I’ve merged the worlds of Christmas, cheese and my inherent geekness to create a table of where you'll find them. The album that gets the most ticks in the right places wins the Maverick Christmas compilation award.

Now the list of songs I’m choosing are completely subjective but to attempt to give it a vague basis I’ll start with the first Christmas album I ever listened to, 1985's original "Now - The Christmas Album". To this I’ll add a number of more recent classics and a couple of forgotten pop treasures (helped by this list of 100 top Christmas songs).

I have deliberately left off most of the early 'classics' such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams etc as they tend to be on classic Christmas albums rather than pop ones anyway (with the notable exception of the great Bing). Try "Christmas With The Rat Pack" for that sort of thing. Anything else left off there's probably a damn good reason, feel free to argue with me...

The albums I’ll be comparing are as follows. They're mostly 2008 (they all get re-released every year) but i've also chucked in a few almost identical ones from other years just to see how they compare. Most of the images link through to their listing on Amazon.

Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album1. Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album
Released: 1985
Label: Virgin/EMI
Format: Double LP
As mentioned above, my original Christmas album that I own on a slightly battered double LP. It also has the dubious honour of being the only album containing Garry Glitter's Another Rock N' Roll Christmas or Queen's Thank God It's Christmas - very different reasons why. You'll find all the Now albums also don't contain any traditional Christmas carols sung by a choir (although they do if sung by a pop star or crooner).

Now That's What I Call Xmas2. Now That's What I Call Xmas
Released: 2008
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 3CD
The latest version of the classic Now series, will it stack up to 1985's cheesefest? As you'll find with most of the multi CD albums, they do have a selection of classics but also are full of lots and lots of rubbish Christmas pop stocking fillers that really should be burnt.

Now Xmas: Massive Christmas Hits3. Now XMAS: Massive Christmas Hits
Released: 2005
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 1CD
The 2005 Now compilation. The only other compilation i own after the 1985 double LP. I do think the original Now logo was a lot funkier.

Christmas Hits - 2008 release4. Christmas Hits
Released: 2008
Label: SonyBMG
Format: 4CD
The second biggest compilation of them all with a bumper 84 tracks. However the last CD of this is carols sung by a variety of cathedral choirs.

Christmas Hits - 2006 release5. Christmas Hits
Released 2006
Label BMG TV
Format 3CD
The 2006 version of the Christmas Hits, doesn't have the 4th CD of carols. The 3 CDs it does have aren't identical to the 2008 one either (although it does have much of the same stuff).

101 Christmas Songs6. 101 Christmas Songs
Released 2008
Label EMI
Format 4CD
The biggest compilation of them all with, you guessed it, 101 tunes (I counted). This also has a selection of carols sung by a choir, clearly there are only enough Christmas pop songs to ever fill 3 CDs

The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever7. The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever
Released 2007
Label EMI/Virgin
Format 2CD
As far as i can tell they haven't re-released this album this year so i'm using the most recent - last year's. Also has a few carols

Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? (1984)XX

Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayXXX

Slade - Merry Xmas EverybodyXXX

Wham! - Last ChristmasX

Elton John - Step Into ChristmasXXX

Mike Oldfield - In Dulce JubiloXXX

Gary Glitter - Another Rock N' Roll ChristmasX

Paul McCartney - Wonderful ChristmastimeXXX

Shakin' Stevens - Blue ChristmasX


John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)XXX

Greg Lake - I Believe in Father ChristmasXXX
Chris de Burgh - A Spaceman Came TravellingXXX

Jona Lewie - Stop The CavalryXXXXXXX
The Beach Boys - Little Saint NickXXX

Queen - Thank God It's ChristmasX

Mud - Lonely This ChristmasXX

Johnny Mathis - When a Child is Born (Soleado)X


Bing Crosby - White ChristmasXXX

Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York

Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

Michael Ball - Driving Home For Christmas

Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas


Cliff Richard - Mistletoe and Wine

Aled Jones - Walking In The Air

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas


Bing Crosby & David Bowie - Little Drummer Boy

Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone



So, to summarize this year's Now and last year's Best Christmas Album in the World Ever seem to be the most comprehensive. Both miss absolute classics though, the 2008 Now album not having Wham! and Best Christmas Album in the World Ever not having the Pogues (neither have Maria Carey). However if you accept that you'll have to download a couple of your faves on their own these are the best bet.

Christmas Hits fails to have most of the 70s or 80s classics while 101 Christmas Songs wins the prize for being the worst. Jona Lewie fans can at least rejoice that they could buy any of the 7 albums, dub a dub a dum dum .

So the Maverick Christmas Compilation award goes to 2008's Now That's What I Call Xmas. The fact that it doesn't have Wham! should never be a problem for cheesy music lovers as you all already own Wham! - The Final (their greatest hits), and if you don't, you should. Merry Christmas Everyone.

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Cure - 4:13 Dream album review

This makes it into my top ten Cure albums (beating Wild Mood Swings, The Cure and The Top) and one that I’m sure will just get better the more I hear it - as with most Cure albums - 1980's Seventeen Seconds is still improving with each listen.
The Cure - 4:13 Dream
4:13 Dream - The Cure
Buy on Amazon

Favourite album track - 7. The Hungry Ghost
Favourite single(s) - 9. The Perfect Boy & 11. Sleep When I'm Dead (I can't decide!)

Underneath The Stars - The album kicks off with the atmospheric "Underneath The Stars" which sounds like something straight off of 1989's Disintegration. The echoey guitars, and the slow but strong drum beat remind me of Plainsong, Last Dance and Prayers For Rain while the wind chime sounding bells could almost be a sample straight from Pictures Of You. It also follows a similar balance of vocal to music as the Disintegration album tracks, with the vocal not leading the song but almost sounding like an extra instrument - this is in stark contrast to some of the more vocal led singles like Sleep When I'm Dead. Towards the end of the song it also features the reverbing guitar melody that I haven't heard since Wish, I’m glad it's back.

The Only One - described in many reviews as the 'back to the classic Cure pop single'. No chance! This is as far removed from Close To Me, The Lovecats, Friday I'm In Love and In Between Days (which I consider Cure pop) as the first track was. It's certainly upbeat but it's very much in the vein of the recent Cure singles off the previous album (The Cure) such as Taking Off. This one needs a few more listens before I really know whether I like it or I just consider it a poor imitation of Taking Off. I do love the final lyrics of the song though "Oh I love, Oh I love, Oh I love, What you do to me."

The Reasons Why - The last Cure song to have a first line as good as this was the first track on Pornography - One Hundred Years - that led you straight into the album with "It doesn't matter if we all die". Robert's clearly lost his worldly distress and is far more self focussed penning the classic, "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide" - well that's kind of him. If Underneath The Stars reminded me that Robert hadn't lost his knack at poignant lyrics, this track reminds me that he's still got a (sick) sense of humour, I love it.

Freakshow - The weakest single and weakest live performance if you believe all the talk on blogs. I must admit that when I saw this live back in March I decided beer was more interesting and went to the bar after the first couple of verses but it's getting better. I remember first listening to Wild Mood Swings and thinking 'What the f*ck?!' and that album has grown on me over 10 years. It's possible however that this single will be moved to the back of my Cure single collection next to Wrong Number.

Sirensong - Unlike the previous four tracks I can't compare this to previous Cure. It's very different sounding and lyrically to anything that's gone before. I really hope the Cure keep exploring different avenues in their music if they make any more albums. It was for this reason that I loved Bloodflowers which I felt was quite a change from the usual when it was released.

The Real Snow White - This bored me. Although I do like the amusingly dubious lyrics, "You're not the real Snow White, The real Snow White is on my knee, I didn't need to get ID, It's simply minimum height, And getting all dressed up, In seven ways to please, Yeah."

The Hungry Ghost - At this early stage (on my 4th listen to the album!) this is the stand out track on the album for me. It's got everything I love about the Cure, it's full of screamingly vivid lyrics, every verse runs off into the distance on the back of a foot tapping rhythm and the guitar takes off through every chorus. I really want to hear this track live.

Switch - The beginning of Switch reminds you Smith is a Hendrix fan. A rocking track throughout, but that intro is the best bit.

The Perfect Boy - I've become a huge fan of the Fall Out Boy remix of this on the Hypnagogic States EP as it turns a great single into a tune that fits well into a DJ night dance mix. The first bars of the remix also bear a striking resemblance to the equally good in a DJ set, Valerie cover by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. Anyway as a result I listen to this original track and keep thinking how I prefer the remix. I want to force myself to like this partly because I love The Perfect Girl from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me even though this sounds nothing like it - not a great reason but I feel like The Perfect Girl and The Perfect Boy must go together. Presumably forming The Perfect Couple?

This. Here and Now. With You - Urgh, not sure about this one. There are always a few album tracks that you feel like skipping. I often find with these that they then become my favourite tracks on the album a couple of years on. So watch this space.

Sleep When I'm Dead - A bit like Sirensong in that I loved this single for the fact it seems to take the Cure down a different path to what you'd usually expect. I can't imagine this on Head on the Door at all - the album this was apparently originally written for. Pity there are no studio demos of this track kicking about from 1985 so we can do a then and now comparison. The guitars do have a nice Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me feel to them - think Shiver and Shake.

The Scream - Great things often begin with a 'the' - The Cure, The Kiss, The Snakepit, The Lovecats, The Head on the Door, The Blood, The Baby Screams, The Drowning Man... And this adds to the album the angry, shouting, standing on the roof of a church howling at the moon song that we all know Robert Smith has in him. So much better than the Michael / Janet Jackson song of the same name (sorry).

It's Over - Get it? Jason Cooper has excelled himself on the final tune of the album. The drums and the bass completely drive this song and hold their own against the wall of sound guitars and breakneck vocal. The song finishes with the lyrics "Oh, I can't do this anymore, No, I can't do this anymore", which I hope isn't a reference to this being a last Cure album. I doubt it, as Robert himself has said he'll continue doing what he enjoys and at the moment that's the Cure. Plus I remember feeling the same in 2000 when listening to the 39 lyrics on Bloodflowers, "The fire is almost out and there's nothing left to burn..." Well you're still burning Bob, long may it continue.

The only thing that's missing from this album? - Trumpets! Come on Bob, you know you love trumpets, give us a single with trumpets, lots of them.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A-Ha - Take On Me literal song remake video

Somebody forwarded me on this YouTube video last week [update: video now removed from YouTube but available on funnyordie, embedded at end of post]. YouTuber DustoMcNeato has taken the original A-Ha video, changed all the lyrics to reflect what's happening in the song and resung it. Similar idea to the whole Sweding thing in Be Kind Rewind but with 80s cheese. Genius!

Here's the first couple of verses below, unfortunately they don't use the rhyming line 'Take On Me, Literally' that i've just made up, they've missed a trick there, so i'll use it myself. ;)

Take On Me, Literally

Reading a book
Lady brings a new cup of coffee
Peek in the window
She would rather keep on reading
Look at the frame
There's a handsome guy inside this comic

Close up eyes
Hand comes out
Sketchy arm
Grab the hand

So now your inside
Everything's drawn and super 80s
Lots of squiggly lines
When i stand her it makes me human
I'm handsome either way
You you like it that i'm flirting with you

Come to me
Magic frame
Sing to you
Band montage!
Take On Me, Original

We're talking away
I don't know what, I'm to say
I'll say it anyway
Today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for your love, OK?

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
In a day or two

So needless to say
I'm odds and ends, but that's me
Stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is OK
Say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
In a day or two

Anyway enough of this, watch the video if you haven't already.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Top 10 drum intros of ALL TIME!

My top 10 songs with fantastic drum intros. This is a bit different to most of these top 10 drum intro songs on the web - I’ve gone specifically just for songs that feature the drums CRASHING in at the beginning of the song, however briefly.

1. The Cure - Why Can't I Be You
2. Van Halen - Hot For Teacher
3. Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick
4. The Cure - In Between Days
5. Led Zeppelin - Rock & Roll
6. Spin Doctors - Two Princes
7. Sweet - Ballroom Blitz
8. Lenny Kravitz - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
9. Toto - Rosanna
10. Blur - Song 2

This all started a few days ago when I was doing my review of Boyfriend by Alphabeat. A song that although not quite worthy of this top ten does feature a good strong drum intro. As a drummer (not a good one, I haven't played regularly in years!) I’ve got a particular love of good drumming and songs with good drum solos. I've also probably listened to many songs I don't really like purely for the drumming, Los Endos by Genesis springs to mind.

There are a few exceptions from the list because they didn't CRASH in as I would like, plus my list started as a top 19 so I needed to trim. Lost in the pruning was the excellent My Sharona (not quite ridiculous enough intro) and the mind blowing Money for Nothing (doesn't crash in and more of a genuine solo than just an intro).

I make no excuse for the Cure appearing twice, they don't appear in top tens enough!

While looking for these tunes I also came across some that didn't meet my strict criteria because they start with a vocal or spoken word, therefore I’ve made another table.

Top 3 tunes with drums crashing in immediately after a brief vocal / spoken lyric:
1. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty)
2. The Offspring - Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)
3. The Bloodhound Gang - The Bad Touch

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Alphabeat - Boyfriend single review

I discovered this track in a way I’ve never discovered a track before. No it's nothing strange, weird or dodgy I just saw the video on the Hits and was hooked on this delicious slice of europop.

This is an alternate video i think, the original one was different.

The Hits TV logo
RIP The Hits
Now I know you may be thinking that sounds like a fairly regular and normal way to find a track but I rarely watch the Hits, and when I do it's because I see 'top 20 of the eighties'. If I see 'the UK top 20 rundown' in the TV listing I run a mile. Also I’ve had so many appalling accidents where I’ve flicked over and found myself watching 'Boyzone's favourite 50 ballads' or 'Westlife's favourite 50 ballads' that I now subconsciously skip Freeview channel 18. I've just this second done a quick Google search for the channel number and I’ve now discovered it's no longer called the Hits but 4 Music so maybe I can give it another go... Well that means I can confidently say I discovered this track in a way I never will again.

Any track that crashes in with a drum beat has my attention, The Cure's Why Can't I Be You, Money For Nothing, Van Halen's Hot For Teacher, in fact I got so carried away with this line of thought that I went off and wrote a post purely about great tunes that begin with drums crashing in.

A pack of 10 TDK FE90 cassettes
My favourite Christmas present of the 90s
The hundreds of cassette tapes in the video bring back fond memories of the TDK FE 90 that you could buy in packs of 10 for next to nothing in HMV. When it takes a vicious twist and the hot dancers are wrapped in the cassette tape at the end i'm slightly disturbed though.

After this you have the cute little voice and it's all the sort of fun that jumps straight into any good dance floor. In fact I think I’m getting a bit of a crush on Stine Bramsen's voice, much like I did a few years ago on the voice of Sarah Nixey, the singer in Black Box Recorder.

The similarities with Black Box Recorder don't end there for me unfortunately. My vocal love affair was solely restricted to Facts Of Life by Black Box Recorder, I didn't like any of their subsequent releases. I've just listened to all of Alphabeat's single releases from their self titled debut album and none have caught my ear, I think I might just have to own the single and move on..

I hope they surprise me and release another great tune like this one especially if it's got a big drum beat at the beginning.

Single released August 2008
UK chart position: 49 (So far, downloads only. Physical release 25th Aug)
Original album: This Is Alphabeat \ Buy on Amazon
More info: Wikipedia \ Lyrics \ Official site \ Anders SG interview

Where i have it:
I don't! But will visit iTunes tonight. I'm not quite excited enough to buy the album...

UPDATE: I've since heard their other single 'Fascination' numerous times, have it solidly stuck in my head and have downloaded it. Alphabeat, I take it back, i'm a fan.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Avalanches (Wham! vs. Digitalism) - Ray of Zdarlight single review

The Avalanches have remixed this Wham! hidden classic, Ray of Sunshine, with some top quality German Electro house, Digitalism's Zdarlight, and the result is a glorious dance floor filler that still has George Michael on lead vocals, thank god for that.

This song is very elusive, the two pages on don't seem to work and i can't find a physical release but it is on the Avalanches website apparently (you have to sign in). So for your enjoyment i've given it a video mash up with the original Zdarlight video and a Wham! video of them playing football in China (which had the original Ray of Sunshine over the top).

Me with the Wham! Fantastic LP
Me with my new Wham! LP
This song entered my life last week when a lovely lady found the original Wham! Fantastic LP in a charity shop and kindly bought it for me - it cost £2, who needs Ebay?! I do have this album kicking around on cassette somewhere but haven't listened to it in years. The only Wham i have these days is on CD - The Final and the Best Of.

So i gently placed the album on the record player and slowly brought down the needle on the cheese. I jumped straight to the album tracks that i'd forgotton about and I listened to the groovy and addictive Ray of Sunshine. The first line of the chorus has been going round in my head for days:
You wake up in the morning with the bass line.
And it was when double checking these lyrics online that i stumbled across Ray of Zdarlight.

One of my cheese hobbies has always been trying to find good remixes of Wham! songs. This is because Wham! songs are so great to dance too but they are also intensly cheesy. Sometimes, well most of the time, playing any Wham! at a reasonably trendy party is just one step too far. I can maybe get away with Club Tropicana or some Duran Duran but unless it's a wedding or a pub full of Aussies and Kiwis it's difficult to get the crowd to love Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Which is sad (in many ways) because George Michael knows how to write a good rhythm and kicking bass line.

This remix very simply puts the cheese that is Wham! over the top of the funky electro of Digitalism and produces a dance tune with an edge of 80s and a licence to be played in the trendiest of clubs, maybe. I love it.

Single released online only January 2007
Album: Maybe on the rumoured second Avalanches album?
More info: Digitalism MySpace \ Wham! lyrics

Where i have it:
MP3 found on internet. If it appears on a CD be sure to let me know.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Lene Lovich - Lucky Number single review

A quirky punk / new wave song from 1978. Amazingly fresh sounding considering this was first released on the Stiff record label 30 years ago. In fact the only part of this song that really makes me think 70s is Lene Lovich's vocals which are reminiscent of punk girl group The Slits but maybe with less shouting and a drop of Kate Bush. Listen to Lucky Number on Last FM.

Lucky Number was originally the B-side to Lovich's version of I Think We're Alone Now (listen to the Lene Lovich version on Last FM), made famous in the 80s by Tiffany. This single was originally just a demo although was also released as a mail order only single.

After the release of her debut album Stateless the following year, Lucky Number finally made it to the A-side and got its own release. In fact there was a complete switcheroo on the French 12" which featured I Think We're Alone Now on the B-side.

My favourite line of the whole song is and i quote:

"Something tells me Lucky Number's gonna be oweoweoweoweoweowe..."

Yes she really does say that, no phonetics needed. In fact a line that apparently (according to this excellent biog and interview) caused the record label boss to say, "That's the chorus?"

The little guitar riffs throughout this song are so addictive and ripe for sampling. There's also a Slavic Dance Version out there which sounds identical for the first 3 minutes before repeating itself for another two along with some classic 80s synth sounds.

Think of playing this in a set with some Banshees, some Cure and maybe early Spandau Ballet for a proper early 80s goth down.

Single released February 1979
UK chart position: 3
Original album: Stateless \ Buy on Amazon
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics \ Official site

Where i have it:
Track 3, Disc 8, Greatest Hits of the 80s - Album review \ Buy on Amazon

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Glass Tiger - Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) single review

Glass Tiger, what a name! Makes you think of glam 80s rock bands with big hair, amps that go up to 11 and groupies in every city. Well mix this image with Wham! and you get the Glass Tiger we're talking about here. A quick Google image search brings up a number of fantastic images, including one with an unglazed tiger. Actually i've just watched the music video -maybe 80% Wham! : 10% Rod Stewart : 10% glam rock. Listen on
Glass Tiger posing with a tiger
This tiger is not made of glass,
it is real.

Not to be confused with the Simple Minds classic Don't You (Forget About Me), which is similar only by its obvious 80s-ness and use of brackets in the song title. A great dance floor tune it's the bass line that hooks me into this tune - simple repetitive notes that just go slowly up and down the scales. Maybe not quite in the same league as the kings of the bass line such as Another One Bites the Dust and Blue Monday but deserving of its place in my top 100 tunes with a good bass line (a post for another day).

This Canadian rock band were originally called Tokyo at a time when everyone wanted an oriental name, think Japan, China Crisis, Asia, Wang Chung and Turning Japanese, China Girl, China in Your Hand, One Night in Bangkok, Kashmir (I could continue, i won't) so clearly changed their name to avoid any confusion. Although big cats were popular in the 80s too - Def Leppard.

I had a quick look at the credits for this tune and for the second time this weekend i find i've been ambushed by Bryan Adams without realising it, the Canadian crooner sings backing vocals on this track. The first time he snuck up on me was yesterday as i listened to Mötley Crüe's Dr Feelgood album and found him also doing backing vocals on the track Sticky Sweet. But don't let Robin Hood's little helper take anything away from what is a classic 80s rock tune that needs to be getting more airplay (and air guitaring) on dance floors.

Single released October 1986
UK chart position: 29
Original album: Thin Red Line \ Buy on Amazon
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics \ Official site

Where i have it:
Track 6, Disc 6, Greatest Hits of the 80s - Album review \ Buy on Amazon

Picture borrowed from this slightly bizarre animal photographing / training website.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle - Diamond Lights lyrics

Following are the lyrics to that 80s classic by Glenn & Chris (known to most of us as England and Spurs footballers Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle).

After scouring the internet for the lyrics for my Diamond Lights single review i was shocked that i couldn't find them. So i've rectified this travesty and here they are in all their glory.

Diamond Lights lyrics
Artist: Glenn & Chris (Hoddle & Waddle)

Eyes that freeze like ice
Cold electric blue those diamond lights
You were hard as stone
Solid stone, for me

The colours change rearrange my life
Can't explain so afraid tonight

Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always want you
Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always need you
Oh darling

Diamond, diamond lights

Standing in the rain
Cold electric sky no diamond lights
Now i'm on my own
So alone, oh darling

The colours change rearrange my life
Can't explain so afraid tonight

Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always want you
Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always need you
Oh darling

Instrumental: Rocking guitar solo!

Diamond lights cold as ice to me (cold as ice to me)
Diamond lights cold as ice to me

Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always want you
Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always need you

Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always want you
Hoddle: Darling i love you / Waddle: My diamond lights
I'll always need you

Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle - Diamond Lights single review

Diamond Lights was one of the cheesiest songs ever released partly due to the fact that it was sung on Top of the Pops by two professional footballers with 80s-tastic mullets and big power suits with rolled up sleeves.
Mars poll of top worst songs:

C4 100 worst pop records:

Metro Top 10 worst sport songs:

Numerous other random polls:
Well up there

The perpetrators of what many will call the worst tune of all time are none other than England 'legends' Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle of course. So bad in fact that it didn't even justify a Wikipedia article or a page of lyrics on ANY of the millions of lyric sites - the link below is to a Wikipedia article I hastily made yesterday and i've written out the lyrics myself (loser).

Now why have i even bothered to review this? Surely i must want this blog to retain a smidgen of integrity?

Well the story began in March of this year, where, as a joke, i played Diamond Lights at a party in order to hopefully get a laugh and a couple of lunatics to pretend to dance like the aforemention sultans (or suntans?) of cool known for the purposes of this single as 'Glenn & Chris'.

What shocked me more than Glenn Hoddle's solo in the middle of the song ("Darling i love you! I will take care of you..."), was the fact that no-one noticed! Admittedly i was doing a set of 80s song but it moulded seamlessly into my set. In fact some people nonchalantly shuffled their feet in time.

Forgetting who sings this and trying to erase the image of the top of the pops performance from your mind, the tune itself sounds like any other classic 80s pop tune ticking all of the following boxes:
  • Drum machine
  • Ridiculous electric guitar solo
  • Singalong chorus
  • Drummer with a moustache
  • Spinning coloured lights
  • Smoke machine
Perhaps that was why nobody left the party? Anyway, this tune is now cemented firmly in my 80s DJ set. I challenge all of you out there to try and slip it into your sets without anyone noticing. Please note I won't take any responsibility for what may happen.

Excitingly Diamond Lights could well be making a comeback in the form of a cover by indie band and Spurs fans the Klaxons. There's been no new news on this for 6 months though so either it's a long recording process or they've realised the damage they might cause - originals are always the best.


Single released April 1987
UK chart position: 12
Original album: Glenn & Chris do Pink Floyd and other rock legends
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics \ Chris Waddle interview

Where i have it:
Funnily enough i downloaded it from iTunes, it doesn't often appear on classic 80s compilation CDs

Update: I've just been informed by gZa that Glenn & Chris reformed for the follow up single, 'It's Goodbye'. Is it me or does that guitar intro sound a bit like the Top Gun theme tune?

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes single review

Really funky electronic pop tune released by Kim Carnes in 1981. It was a cover of a 1974 song by Jackie DeShannon. Listen on

Now I'd had this tune for the past 7 years without properly listening to it. It was only after I'd bought and been listening to the 2004 Mylo album, Destroy Rock & Roll which contains a sample of the song in the tune In My Arms that i finally pricked my ears up when the original was randomly selected on my iPod.

The reworking Mylo gave this tune is actually reminiscent of the reworking he gave Miami Sound Machine's Dr. Beat in the single Doctor Pressure. If you listen to both the original and Mylo version side by side the original just sounds less polished or crisp (less produced even), and also it's slower - that's NOT a bad thing by the way.

To repeat an old cliche the originals often have more character - a bit like the fable that songs always have more character when played on vinyl (I'm not too convinced about that after growing up with CDs).

Anyway back to the Carnes song this floats beautifully into a chilled DJ set and although it's distinctly 80s sounding it certainly isn't cheesy.

The lyrics talk about a beautiful, feisty woman. Particularly eyebrow raising lyrics include, "She'll let you take her home, It whets her appetite, She'll lay you on her throne". ;)
The famous cigarette scene from Now, Voyager with Paul Henreid and Bette Davis
"Deshannon once said that she had been moved to write this evocative portrait of a teasing woman after seeing smitten actor Paul Henreid lighting cigarettes for Bette Davis near the end of the classic film Now, Voyager" (from Audio Insider).

Don't let the fact that this scene is probably one of the cheesiest and well known of 1940s romantic cinema take anything away from the lyrics which are certainly not as contrived as this scene is!

Another interesting fact i discovered about this song is that Kim Carnes actually developed a friendship with Bette Davis after releasing this song. I wonder if the same is true for Bananarama and Robert De Niro or is he still waiting? (sorry)
Robert Smith and Bette Davis
Hilariously, while researching for this post i also discovered the following post about the great Robert Smith also having Bette Davis Eyes.

Single released May 1981
UK chart position: 10
Original album: Mistaken Identity
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics

Where i have it:
Track 6, Disc 1, Greatest Hits of the 80s - Album review \ Buy on Amazon

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Greatest Hits Of The 80's (8 CD Box) album review

No less than 144 lesser known tracks from throughout the 1980s. OK, there are a few big hits on here such as Spandau Ballet's True, Ultravox's Vienna, Blondie's Atomic, Duran Duran's Girls On Film to name a few, but my love of this mega 80s multi CD box set are all the tunes that you won't find on every other 80s compilation album around.

If you see a name you know on this album the tune listed will likely NOT be the one you first thought of.

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (not Wuthering Heights)
Dexy's Midnight Runners - Geno (not Come On Eileen)

The tracks are a mix of popular bands, who have contributed far more than their fair share of tracks: Culture Club (5 songs), Ultravox (4 songs), Duran Duran (4 songs); novelty songs such as Geil, Holiday Rap and Star Trekkin'; more one hit wonders than you can shake a rubiks cube at, Papa Chico, Tarzan Boy, Save Your Love and a selection of other tracks that peppered the top 40 (and further out) in the decade of my birth.

If you have a large collection of popular 80s tunes, this will likely fill many of the holes without having to resort to buying Eddy Grant's or Kajagoogoo's albums.

Released November 1998, 8 CD Box set
Buy on Amazon

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. No Doubt About It - Hot Chocolate
2. More Than I Can Say - Leo Sayer
3. Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie
4. Stars on 45: Stars on 45/Venus/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I'll Be Back/Drive - Stars on 45
5. Kids in America - Kim Wilde
6. Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes - Single review
7. Rain in May - Max Werner
8. Morning Train (Nine to Five) - Sheena Easton
9. Papa Chico - Tony Esposito
10. We Just - Moses
11. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me - Culture Club
12. Hymn - Ultravox
13. Too Shy - Kajagoogoo
14. Whole of the Moon - The Waterboys
15. Breakaway - Tracey Ullman
16. Imagination - Belouis Some
17. Centerfold - J. Geils Band
18. Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves

Disc: 2
1. True - Spandau Ballet
2. Tide Is High - Blondie
3. Save Your Love - Renee & Renato
4. Sunshine Reggae - Laid Back
5. I Like Chopin - Gazebo
6. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
7. This Is Not a Love Song - Public Image Ltd.
8. Only You - Flying Pickets
9. Star Trekkin' - Firm
10. Love Is a Battlefield
11. Reflex - Duran Duran
12. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes - Ultravox
13. Letter from America - The Proclaimers
14. Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now - Samantha Fox
15. Dictator - Centerfold
16. Walking in the Air - Aled Jones
17. Hot in the City - Billy Idol
18. Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant

Disc: 3
1. Such a Shame - Talk Talk
2. Eyes Without a Face - Billy Idol
3. Never Ending Story - Limahl
4. Wild Boys - Duran Duran
5. We Belong - Pat Benatar
6. Walk in the Park - Nick Straker Band
7. Solid - Ashford & Simpson
8. Road to Nowhere - Talking Heads
9. Let's All Chant - Michael Zager Band
10. Nineteen - Paul Hardcastle
11. Carribean Queen (No More Love on the Run) - Billy Ocean
12. Kayleigh - Marillion
13. Maria Magdalena - Sandra
14. Running up That Hill - Kate Bush
15. If I Was - Midge Ure
16. Sexy Eyes - Dr. Hook
17. Girl Crazy - Hot Chocolate
18. Big Apple - Kajagoogoo

Disc: 4
1. Good Heart - Feargal Sharkey
2. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) - Samantha Fox
3. In the Heat of the Night - Sandra
4. When the Going Gets Tough - Billy Ocean
5. Human - The Human League
6. (I Just) Died in Your Arms - Cutting Crew
7. Gold - Spandau Ballet
8. Everything I Own - Boy George
9. Living in a Box - Living in a Box
10. Sweet Sixteen - Billy Idol
11. Shattered Dreams - Johnny Hates Jazz
12. China in Your Hand - T'Pau
13. Love Changes (Everything) - Climie Fisher
14. Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
15. Round and Round - Jaki Graham
16. Cambodia - Kim Wilde
17. Don't Waste My Time - Paul Hardcastle
18. I Scare Myself - Thomas Dolby

Disc: 5
1. Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend) - Mel & Kim
2. I Need You - BVSMP
3. Tarzan Boy - Baltimora
4. Geil - Bruce & Bongo - Single review
5. Holiday Rap - DJ Sven, MC Miker G
6. Sata Lucia by Night - George Baker Selection
7. If Only I Could - Sydney Youngblood
8. Real Thing - Jellybean
9. Respect - Adeva
10. Rich in Paradise - F.P.I. Project
11. Disco Band - Scotch
12. What Have I Done for You Lately - King Mc
13. I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
14. Time (Clock of the Heart) - Culture Club
15. Geno - Dexys Midnight Runners
16. Mated - Jaki Graham, David Grant
17. We Close Our Eyes - Go West
18. Hit Mix: Happy Station/Color My Love/Baila Bolero/Give Me Your Love - Fun Fun

Disc: 6
1. Atomic - Blondie
2. Reckless - Afrika Bambaataa, UB40
3. Heart and Soul - T'Pau
4. Missing You - John Waite
5. Comin' on Strong - Broken English
6. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) - Glass Tiger - single review
7. Mony Mony - Amazulu
8. Let's Go All the Way - Sly Fox
9. Together We Are Beautiful - Fern Kinney
10. I Am the Beat - Look, The Look
11. Gimme Hope Jo'anna - Eddy Grant
12. Harder I Try - Brother Beyond
13. Hyperactive! - Thomas Dolby
14. Victims - Culture Club
15. Temptation - Heaven 17
16. Chequered Love - Kim Wilde
17. Respectable - Mel & Kim
18. Turn to Gold - David Austin

Disc: 7
1. Sunglasses - Tracey Ullman
2. All Stood Still - Ultravox
3. Save a Prayer - Duran Duran
4. Wishful Thinking - China Crisis
5. Classic - Adrian Gurvitz
6. Power of Love - Huey Lewis & the News
7. It Started With a Kiss - Hot Chocolate
8. On the Beat - The B.B. & Q. Band
9. Call Me - Blondie
10. I Don't Wanna Dance - Eddy Grant
11. Set Me Free - Jaki Graham
12. I Want to Wake Up With You
13. Freeze-Frame - J. Geils Band
14. We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off - Jermaine Stewart
15. French Kissin' in the USA - Debbie Harry
16. Johnny B. Goode - Peter Tosh
17. Free Nelson Mandela - The Special A.K.A.
18. Golden Brown - The Stranglers

Disc: 8
1. Slippery People [Live] - Talking Heads
2. Hey Little Girl - Icehouse - single review
3. Lucky Number - Lene Lovich - single review
4. Some Like It Hot - The Power Station
5. C'est la Vie - Robbie Nevil
6. Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On) - Spandau Ballet
7. Girls on Film - Duran Duran
8. Senses Working Overtime - XTC
9. Ooh to Be Ah - Kajagoogoo
10. Hip to Be Square - Huey Lewis & the News
11. Vienna - Ultravox
12. Tonight I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack
13. Lavender - Marillion
14. Lunatic - Gazebo
15. Room in Your Heart - Living in a Box
16. Love Don't Live Here Anymore - Jimmy Nail
17. Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - Jaki Graham, David Grant
18. Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake) - Freddie Jackson

Bruce & Bongo - Geil single review

An out and out novely record about a German word meaning 'cool' or 'horny'. It flew to somewhere lower than 40 in the UK charts (although topped the charts in Austria and Germany apparently) in April 1986 and featured a stuttering vocal including a fantastic verse based on a tennis match about Boris Becker.

Now you'd think that this was the work of two crazy central Europeans but no, it was the work of two mad haired Englishmen called Bruce Hammond and Douglas Wilgrove (Bongo). You can see them in all their glory in the video below.

A great tune for all the wrong reasons, maybe good at any post-Wimbledon parties.

Single released April 1986
Original album: The Geil Album
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics \ The Geil Album

Where i have it:
Track 4, Disc 5, Greatest Hits of the 80s - Album review \ Buy on Amazon