Sunday, August 31, 2008

BRYN !!!!!!

Have decided that Bryn Christopher, the next-big-soul-singer-to-come-out-of-the-UK, is rather fab indeed. Not only is his "Smilin'" single amazing, I also had a listen to his debut single "The Quest" which was quite extraordinary indeed. He has an incredible voice, as I said in a previous post it's very reminiscent of Terence Trent D'Arby, who back in the day was the next-big-soul-singer etc etc.

What's great about him is that he is not going down that well-worn r'n'b route (which has previously been travelled by the likes of Craig David, and currently being travelled by Taio Cruz) but instead he's going a bit further back into musical history for his influences. I'm happy that Bryn is doing something very different to the boring, formula, interchangeable r'n'b which is all over the charts at the moment. He's got such a distinctive voice which is too good for that style.
Oh, and not only is his music great but he is very easy on the eye too - he looks so good in that white suit in the "Smilin'" video and I just had to post a couple of screencaps here :))

Album Review: "The Script" - The Script

Vacancy: for radio-friendly pop act which will appeal to everyone from the trendy kids to the kind of people who only buy their albums in Tesco.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Script. Vacancy now filled.

In recent weeks, this Irish trio who call their music ‘Celtic soul’ have taken the UK charts by storm. This debut album has gone to no.1 in the album charts, whilst second single "The Man Who Can’t Be Moved" has been kept off the top by that Katy Perry tripe.

The band are no overnight success, as they have significant experience as producers and session musicians.

Debut single "We Cry" opens the album, and I still have a love-hate relationship with this song, sometimes I like it and sometimes it completely annoys me. You can’t deny that "The Man Who Can’t Be Moved" is a smashing little song, with well-thought-out lyrics that tell an interesting story.

I read a recent interview with The Script in which they said that their name reflects their emphasis on good songwriting and storytelling. I’d agree that they’ve put a lot of work into the songs on this album, which is a very strong and confident debut indeed. There are also other potential singles - the album’s standout track "Before The Worst", and "The End Where I Begin".

You can’t really pigeonhole The Script, one minute they’re pop, then they’re rock, then they’ve got these little hiphop moments and then they just go into nice ballad mode (two goodies at the end: "I’m Yours" and "Anybody There") They even manage to be just a little subversive at times: "If You See Kay" (say that song title, see what I mean).

I like this album a lot, but that’s the problem I have with it. The whole thing sounds as if it’s been ruthlessly designed for world domination. There’s just something a bit sinister about it all. Or maybe it’s just because they’re ridiculously talented, I don’t know.

Even lead singer Danny’s vocals are a bit Sting-meets-Adam Levine, lending some familiarity to the songs which are a pick ‘n’mix of different musical styles to appeal to everyone. Sometimes it sounds like the kind of music which would soundtrack something like "Grey’s Anatomy" (but it’s all a million times better than "Chasing Cars"!!).

The Script will probably be the world’s next biggest new band, and I wouldn’t be surprised as this is an album designed to appeal to a massive worldwide audience. New Maroon 5, anyone? They just need to make sure that they sustain the quality and success of this album if they are to have a long career. In the meantime, world superstardom beckons if this great debut is anything to go by. (8 out of 10)

Album Review: "Lessons To Be Learned" - Gabriella Cilmi

Conventional pop wisdom dictates that if you find a superstar one year, expect the next year to be full of clones. It was inevitable that following the phenomenal success of Amy Winehouse, we would then be bombarded with a number of females-with-voices this year. The biggest successes so far have been Duffy and Adele; and now the Aussies have got in on the act and exported their very own contender.

What sets Gabriella Cilmi apart from the others is her very young age - she’s only 16 years old, which would suggest that you’d expect her to sound more like Amy Diamond than Amy Winehouse. That’s until you hear her sing - she’s got the voice of someone twice, maybe three times her age!

Debut single "Sweet About Me" feels like it’s been around for ever, and was a real ‘sleeper’ hit as it took so long to climb the UK singles chart. Even now, five months later, it’s still in the top 20 and no doubt was helped along by featuring in a TV ad for deodorant.

Although "Lessons To Be Learned", Gabriella’s debut album is no "Back To Black", it’s a fine debut which has a few potential hit singles in there. I’d say it was an album of two halves - the first half containing the most commercial material. The excellent second single "Save The Lies" - a funky, feisty stomper vocally reminiscent of Anastacia - opens the album and is a very good place to start.

"Sanctuary" has a Bacharach-style backbeat, whilst atmospheric ballad "Einstein" is very nice and the chorus sounds very like something Girls Aloud might do. This could maybe be explained by the involvement on this album of everyone’s favourite pop production team, Xenomania. This is also a very good incentive to check the album out. Girls Aloud fans should also have a listen to "Don’t Want To Go To Bed Now" - this really sounds like something they would record! (I began to wonder if Ms Cilmi was some kind of vocal chameleon, who could be Amy Winehouse one minute, Anastacia the next, then Nadine...?)

For some reason, I wish someone would do a remix of "Don’t Want To Go To Bed Now" and add some Adam and the Ants-style double drums. Maybe someone somewhere could do a mash-up???

"Got No Place To Go" to these ears screams potential single. I only hope they don’t release her cover of "Echo Beach" which, OK as it is, adds nothing to the perfectly classic Martha and the Muffins original. (Did this have something to do with that ITV soap "Echo Beach"? Which, incidentally, isn’t being recommissioned. Quelle surprise.) "Messy" is catchy but a little annoying.

I’ve read interviews with Gabriella Cilmi which refer to her own personal musical tastes being more rock/blues than pop, and perhaps some of the later songs are more in the style that she would prefer to record. I remember in one interview she referred to having to "compromise" over some of the song choices on her debut.

So I’d guess that songs like "Terrifying", "Awkward Game" and "Sit In The Blues" are more representative of the direction she would want to go in. She wants to prove that she has more substance than the average pop singer, but only time will tell if she will be allowed to develop into the artist that she wants to become and find her own distinctive musical identity. In the meantime, "Lessons To Be Learned" is a debut album which she should be very proud of. (7 out of 10)

The 1000th Post!!!!!!!!!

In the immortal words of the great philosopher Homer (Simpson) : "Woo-hoo"!!!!!!

1000 posts eh! Almost a year and a half since I started my blogging journey and here we are 1000 posts later. It's been great fun. During that time were prolific periods of over-blogging (summer-autumn 2007); there were periods of writer's block (summer 2008). Recent weeks have not been the best of times, and there have been occasions when I questioned whether to continue with the blogging adventure. But... even in the darkest days blogging remains the best therapy, and being a blogger means never having to say you've got nothing to say.

So onwards to infinity (or at least another 1000 posts) and beyond. As another great (Swedish hip hop) philosopher Adam Tensta might have said, 'that's my blog and I can't take it off".

Thanks again to all of you who've ever visited, whether deliberately or by chance, you're all welcome to my world. Keep on visiting! Your comments are always welcome so don't be shy, if you come across this blog then please say hello!

Retro Saturday: The Connells

Possibly one of the most significant European hits of 1995, and the ultimate holiday song. The one that seems to follow me on my twice-annual jaunts across the continent. Every time I turn on the radio in a different country, there it is, reassuring me that I am in continental Europe, and continental Europe will always love this song.

"74-75" is a timeless, strong, memorable hit song which will never grow old. I know nothing more about this band, nor what they have done since, but if you have to live off a classic song then make it this one.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Retro Saturday: The Montrose Avenue

What was my favourite album of 1998?

"Thirty Days Out" by The Montrose Avenue.

This band is possibly one of the most underrated British bands of the last, well, 10 years anyway. They existed between 1996 and 1999 and I discovered them thanks to Chris Evans regularly featuring their brilliant single "Where Do I Stand" on his radio show at that time, and I bought their fantastic debut album "Thirty Days Out" the first week it was released.

Influenced by close-harmony jangly guitar acts like Crosby Stills and Nash and The Byrds, which is a good place to start.

They are now defunct, but live on at their MySpace page at where you can find songs like the wonderful "Start Again" and "Where Do I Stand" and "Yesterday's Return" and "She's Looking For Me" and .....oh just go there and enjoy them for yourselves.

Retro Saturday: Thomas Dolby

Real name Thomas Robertson, best known for loopy hits like "She Blinded Me With Science" and "Hyperactive" but those of us who paid closer attention to this talented artist’s career would remember tracks like the fantastic "Airwaves" which had a lot more depth, quality and sensitivity.

Find "Airwaves" at

Later on there was "I Love You Goodbye" which had a little Bruce Hornsby piano-vibe to it and the lyrics unravelled an evocative and interesting story:

Retro Saturday: ABC

As you know, my weekly musical flashbacks usually tend towards the more obscure end of things but after watching tonight’s "Pop Britannia" on BBC-2, I leapt off the sofa and exclaimed: "I MUST FEATURE ABC ON RETRO SATURDAY!!!"

"Poison Arrow" is just my most favourite ABC song ever - it tells a story and it’s immaculately produced by the brilliant Trevor Horn who is also one of the best producers of all time. This song is now 26 years old but has never sounded dated to me: it still sounds as fresh as the day I first heard it. Enjoy the mighty Martin Fry and his gold suit at

Friday, August 29, 2008

This weekend....

...OK I'm promising nothing as every time I promise something I don't deliver, but one certainty for this weekend is (big fanfare and drum roll) my 1000th post!!

Otherwise I'll just go with the flow and time permitting, I should post some charts updates and a couple of album reviews, and a bit of the old Retro Saturday too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Melodifestivalen 2009: new rules and controversy already

It was announced this week that next year’s MF format will be revamped following recent poor results at ESC.

So, in comes an international jury who will be responsible for selecting an extra song to the final, and they will be able to vote in the final along with the other juries from across Sweden. They could turn out to have the casting vote.

There will be 8 people allowed on stage instead of six, and no requirement for backing singers as pre-recorded backing vocals will be allowed. What next - miming to playback?

Most controversially, the ‘duels’ which were such a big hit at Andra Chansen will now be introduced in each semi final, as the top four songs from each week will then go head to head in two duels (1st vs 4th, 2nd vs 3rd) and the top two songs from the duels go forward to the final with the other two to Andra Chansen. This rule was attacked by E-Type in an Aftonbladet feature. E-type (with The Poodles) himself lost out to Sibel in one of 2008's Andra Chansen duels.

Ironically, the man responsible for implementing the new rules to ensure that Sweden does better at Eurovision is head honcho of MF Christer Bjorkman who himself had one of Sweden’s worst results ever back in 1992!!! Now who can give me a sentence with the words pot, kettle, and black....?

Above: Christer Bjorkman (photo courtesy of : the new rules are his idea, so blame him if it all goes wrong next year! Still, "i morgon är en annan dag...."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Idol Sweden's class of 2007 revisited

We know what happened to Marie, and Amanda, and even Matthias - but what of last year's other finalists Christoffer, Gathania, Andreas and Sam? The answers are at TV4’s website ( which has caught up with the class of 2007. Above: Christoffer Hiding - photo courtesy of
My favourite of last year, Christoffer Hiding, is writing soul-flavoured pop music and trying to get a record deal and hopes to have his material released in Spring 2009. I previously mentioned on here that he's got a MySpace and you can catch up with his music over at

Gathania Holmgren is working on some dance music with the producers and dancers from Sunblock (of "I’ll Be Ready" and "Baby Baby" fame) and hopes to release a single in the autumn.

Third-placed Andreas Sjöberg is in a similar position to Christoffer: he wants to release his music, but he hasn’t found the right record company yet to release it. He does plan to release a single soon though - and he wants to compete in Melodifestivalen!!

Finally, Sam Hagberth is releasing his single "Something Real" which is described as a love ballad and he’ll see how that goes before releasing anything else. Sam is best friends with Andreas - maybe they should form a duo and double their chances of getting material released?

What all this proves is that although the finalists are still pursuing music careers of some kind, "Idol" is not always a passport to instant success or - most importantly - a record deal. As the years go on, every series brings a new crop of would-be stars but the returns are diminishing more and more, whilst previous finalists can struggle to maintain any kind of longevity in their careers. Fingers crossed that this season will provide some genuine talent which will get its due reward. And even if it is only 15 minutes of fame, well at least they can say they’ve had their 15 minutes. Trouble is, these days everyone wants that quarter of an hour and then some :))))

Monday, August 25, 2008

Countdown to Nice: three weeks to go

Time is rushing by soooo fast! Yes it's only three weeks until I head off to the Cote d'Azur with my faithful travelling companion, who, as ever, has organised his pre-holiday routine with military precision.

So it's time for a to-do list:

1. Need a refresher crash-course in French - here I go again with the Michel Thomas tape (his language-learning method is absolutely wonderful and I recommend it to everyone!)

2. Lose a bit more weight - I'm getting there, had hoped to reach target weight by now but only 6lbs off the target so not too far to go. Setting myself extremely realistic goal to lose 2lbs in next three weeks. Will resume home-aerobics tonight with the help of my iPod dance playlist: the play count for Booty Luv and Fedde Le Grand is about to soar once more... :)))

Sunday, August 24, 2008

French Albums Roundup

Can it really be 30 years since Laurent Voulzy’s legendary French hit "Rockollection"? This was a song incorporating some of Voulzy’s favourite old hits, and you could say it was a forerunner of the hugely popular early 80s "Stars On 45" hit medleys.

Laurent Voulzy has felt the need to celebrate this anniversary with a new album entitled "Recollection". This takes the "Rockollection" theme right across the album with some very interesting results. Voulzy has always been one of my favourite French singer-songwriters over the years and once again he’s collaborated with songwriting partner Alain Souchon on this mix of the old and the new.

Delighted to see the release of Star Academy 7 winner Quentin Mosimann’s debut CD "Duel" which has a very original format - one CD of his jazzy/swing-style interpretations, the other has some great dance remixes which I prefer. Sadly, his Peter Cincotti/David Guetta collaboration on "Love Is Gone" which was so brilliantly featured in Star Academy, is missing from this collection - but there are some very intriguing cover version choices - Talk Talk’s "Such a Shame" and French classics such as "Cargo de Nuit", "C’est La Ouate" and "Mise Au Point". I don’t know how well this CD will do in France, but congratulations to Quentin for doing something so brave and different with his first album.

Mathieu Edward has also released his debut CD: "Entre Toi et Moi" is in that very popular r’n’b style and this is surprisingly quite nice as I hadn’t really rated him before. It includes "Comme Avant" a duet with Sheryfa Luna, whom I also quite like. The album made the top 10 of the French album chart, which isn’t too bad for a Star Academy runner-up.

Matt Pokora’s third album, "MP3" has now completely dropped out of the French album chart, I could only attribute this to the French record-buying public not being too excited about their version of Justin Timberlake going and making an album in the English language. I still love "Dangerous" though - expect to see that doing well in my end-of-year chart.

Being "Mrs President" in France hasn’t stopped Carla Bruni from continuing her recording career: "Comme si de rien n'était" is her latest album and guess what, she’s gone all thrash metal on us!! Only kidding folks, Madame Sarkozy’s back with the same mix of introspective acoustic/jazzy tunes which made her debut "Quelqu’un m’a dit" such a big hit a few years ago. It’s not really my kind of music, but she seems to have cornered this market in France and her elevated status as France’s First Lady will ensure worldwide success - I even saw this CD in my local record shop last week!

I wasn’t really aware of Renan Luce but I understand he’s become very popular in France over the last couple of years. He’s yet another performer in that 'new French chanson' Benabar/Vincent Delerm style, and sometimes I think he sounds like Raphael. His album "Repenti" hit the charts 2 years ago and is still in the top 20. Again not my style, but it could be a lot worse.

I guess "Best of Sinclair" by Sinclair is only out to fulfil some kind of contractual obligation, as he's already had a similar compilation ("Comme Je Suis", once of my Christmas presents in 2004 from faithful travelling companion, no less!!) but this one is a bit of a mixed bag, including stuff from the "Mon Idole" soundtrack whilst leaving out the likes of "Un Jour" and "Sur Le Vif". Now can we have some new material (please please please??)

(album cover photos courtesy of

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: July-August 2008

Not too much to review this month, which is mainly a combination of turbulent personal circumstances and..well, just rotten telly.

I have never known TV to be so bad as it is now. And I’m not just being nostalgic, but the fact remains that the quality of television, no matter what channel, is going downhill faster than Usain Bolt on skis. I wonder if this is an irreversible trend?
Above: Boys from the Blackstuff - photo courtesy of

One television show which brought that home to me was the first in BBC-4’s short "Liverpool On The Box" season to celebrate Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. This programme took a frank and enjoyable look at how the city has been portrayed by television over the years. One of the most significant TV dramas of my lifetime was set in Liverpool. People of a certain age will remember the BBC’s "Boys From The Blackstuff", Alan Bleasdale’s extraordinary well-written and well-acted series about how unemployment affected a group of men’s lives in the early 1980s. "Blackstuff" did not pull any punches and still looks as powerful today as it was then. Seeing clips on this programme made me realise just how far British drama has fallen and failed over recent years, now taking the easy option of making dull police/forensic/medical/action series often built around a (questionably) bankable leading star. In the words of the character memorably portrayed by Julie Walters in "Blackstuff" - British TV drama needs to "fight back!"

Even "Brookside" in its heyday, before it too lost its way, tackled tough issues which other soaps were too scared to even consider. Now soaps are sensationalist for the sake of it, but ultimately empty and heartless, even though I watch them. They are going through the motions and, maybe, so am I.

(Above: House of Saddam - photo courtesy of

One decent drama just ended was "House of Saddam" (BBC-2, Wednesdays) which began with the rise of the Iraqi leader and ended with his execution in 2006. Very watchable, although some hilariously dodgy dialogue along the way: did evil son Uday really say "Hasta la vista, baby" whilst pointing a gun at someone???

I am very sad that this week will see the last episode of the rather wonderful "Six Degrees" (ITV, Wednesdays), one of those American series which, and I really can’t understand why, only got one series to prove itself. As it went on the series spun a very intriguing web, weaving all the characters together until each began working in different ways for the same big-boss-man. Just hope there’s a happy ending!

If you’ve got Sky TV, you’ll probably page-up and page-down through the EPG to find something to watch and bypass many of those strange little channels along the way, never pausing to watch what’s actually on them. I was intrigued to see "Mike Read’s Pop Quiz" on a channel called Red, which I’d never seen before. I thought this might be re-runs of his 1980s Saturday night show when various bands battled it out to show off their pop knowledge. Nope - it’s new, and it’s....dare I say it, ahem, ‘low budget’, in the extreme. With no big prizes on offer! (Come to think of it, no prizes at all). Teams of ordinary people being asked rather difficult pop quiz questions is ok by me though. It's due to finish soon - I wonder if there will be another series as this could become cult viewing!!!
On paper, "Diet on the Dancefloor" (Living, Tuesdays) must have sounded like a good idea, blending the glamour of "Strictly Come Dancing" with the ruthless competition of "The Biggest Loser" but sadly I found the end result rather cheap, low-budget and tacky. It didn’t help throwing in the now-too-familiar reality sob-stories and crying scenes either. Sorry but my well of sympathy has run dry...! I don’t know why previous Strictly winners Matthew Cutler and Karen Hardy got involved in this, and probably if they watched it back they’d be wondering too.

Goodbye to The Hits, hello to 4 Music. This new music channel has had plenty publicity, but if I see a music channel I actually want music videos, not "Shipwrecked" which if I’m right is some reality rubbish with beautiful people in bikinis and trunks, or "Big Brother" which is just some reality rubbish with...ugh. Anyway I will miss The Hits because along with The Box and Bubble Hits, it was the only channel actually showing new-ish pop stuff, rather than the hideous wall to wall identikit r’n’b infecting every other channel in the Sky music channel line-up. I can only hope that there’ll be something good in-between the non-music shows on 4 Music, at least they’re planning to show Channel 4 stuff like "Transmission" and "The Album Chart Show" which are never on at a suitable time for me to watch.

There are lots of cookery shows on TV, some I watch, some I don’t. I’ve got a lot of time for Dave and Si, the Hairy Bikers, as they are quite funny and take a lighthearted approach to cookery. Their shows are also good travelogues as well as a cookery lesson. Now they’re back - as "The Hairy Bakers" (BBC-2, Mondays) in their quest to get Britain baking. The result is a very entertaining way to pass half an hour and I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

Swedish Idol on the way back...

Only 10 days, 18 hours and 32 minutes to go.

Till Swedish Idol returns on TV4....

...YAY!!!! Roll on 3 September!!!

Retro Saturday: Army of Lovers

Can't believe I haven't featured them till now!!

The mega-genius that is Alexander Bard first came to my attention with this unique musical combo, who were completely overlooked in the UK - apart from those of us who recognise real musical talent of course!

Why not have a bit of "Obsession":

Retro Saturday: London Boys

I'm in this late 80s vibe tonight. So let's have some London Boys then. This duo - Dennis and Edem - produced some anthemic hi-NRG disco hits, with a distinctive Europop vibe. Their biggest hits in the UK were "Requiem" and "London Nights". Their story had a very tragic ending as Dennis and Edem were killed in a car crash.

Their music lives on though: "Requiem":
and a TOTP performance of "London Nights"

Retro Saturday: The Blessing

From 1991 here is "Highway 5", another song I remember from "The Chart Show". The singer wasn't the most appealing frontman, and the video is sooooo dated, but I always liked his voice and this song.

Retro Saturday: Ellis Beggs and Howard

I have been wanting to feature this for ages and ages but had no luck finding it till tonight.

One of the best things about the late 80s was The Chart Show - unmissable viewing on ITV on Saturday mornings. Apart from the various charts it also featured a number of new releases, many of which failed to make the charts but inevitably found a place in my heart and, well, still do.

Be warned: being the 80s there is lots of big hair in the video for the fabulous "Bad Times" here at

The Beggs in Ellis, Beggs and Howard was none other than Kajagoogoo's Nick Beggs, but by that time his unique hairstyle from the "Too Shy" days was long gone, but he is, well, in need of a haircut....anyway, enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Retro Saturday: Deborah Sasson

OK so here we go with some more nostalgia.

"Passion and Pain" was a little 80s electro stomper from Deborah Sasson, whom I knew nothing about neither then nor now, but I liked the song anyway. A bit of delving revealed that Ms Sasson actually was an opera singer! "Passion and Pain" is at:

Thursday, August 21, 2008


...for the lack of posts, things still not really 'normal', been very hectic and what spare time I have these days is devoted to watching a certain big sporting event going on just now!

Should hopefully do some posts on Saturday/Sunday as I'm having some catch-up 'me time' this weekend.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Retro Saturday: McAlmont & Butler

David McAlmont is one of this country's most underrated singers and his collaboration with ex-Suede man Bernard Butler provided some great music in the 1990s - notably "Yes" which was one of my favourite songs of 1995 if I remember correctly. Here it is. A totally wonderful timeless song.

Also here is the later "Bring It Back" which was rather fab as well.

Reasons to be Cheerful: Autumn 2008

Since 'Summer' effectively passed me by, I'm now looking forward to the latter half of 2008 and all the musical goodies that will/may bring:

Will Young - First single "Changes" from his new album. It's got a bit of the James Morrison about it, but that's not really too bad, although it's no "Leave Right Now" or "Your Game" either.

Fibes! Oh Fibes! - third album expected towards the end of 2008, should include the delightful catchy pop of "Love Child" which is currently over at their MySpace (

Sebastian Karlsson - over at his MySpace ( he reports that the first single from his third album is due in a month's time. The new album has also been mixed so it shouldn't be too long till it's hitting record stores.

Måns Zelmerlöw - he's no longer appearing in the stage version of "Footloose" - replaced by none other than Brolle - and his second album is due towards the end of 2008.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Retro Saturday: Dubstar

Another band I was thinking about this week, from about 1996-97 if I remember rightly so they qualify for my little retro section....particularly fond memories of the excellent "No More Talk" which is just a lovely little electro-pop tune with sweet vocals from Sarah Blackwood:

If you are looking for a completely classy pop song then "Stars" may just fit the bill:

Retro Saturday: If?

"Saturday's Angels" was an absolute indie-dance-crossover classic from the early 90s - and sadly a forgotten treat which was ignored by radio outwith the usual night-time Radio 1 slot. In the absence of a video someone's put some images to the music so find out what you've been missing at and it still sounds absolutely fantastic all these years later.

Retro Saturday: Fuzzbox

AKA We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It, much beloved of the John Peel show. Their version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is indeed a joy, but in the absence of that on YouTube then here are their two biggest hit singles in the UK, by which time their image and musical sound had been polished beyond recognition:

The Thunderbirds-themed electropop of "International Rescue" :

...and its follow-up "Pink Sunshine":

Retro Saturday: The Bureau

The Bureau was formed by a few original members of Dexy's Midnight Runners, who split from the band after personality clashes with main man Kevin Rowland.

In 1981 they released the excellent "Only For Sheep" which I rushed out to my local record store to buy, and I'm happy to say I still own this single.

I recently read that The Bureau are the latest band to get on the comeback trail, so in preparation for that why not give your memory a welcome jog of "Only For Sheep" at

X Factor = Phixx???

Believe me, I tried.

Yes, I tried to give "The X Factor" another go. Series 5 (am I right??) started with the usual auditions and, well, it was just same-old, same-old:

Sob stories - check:
Gratuitous performance of "Fields of Gold" - check:
Editing of 'isn't this bonkers?' facial expressions by the judges: check.

I only watch "The X Factor" for the rubbish/deluded contestants so a great big YAY! for Ant and Seb, Wales' answer to Peter Andre. They did, indeed, rule.

The ritual humiliation of Nikk-don't-mention-that-I-was-in-Phixx-but-I-sing-in-working-mens-clubs-Mager, ex of the same "Popstars: The Rivals" which catapulted Cheryl-then-Tweedy to stardom, looked sooooo staged. Cue the first walk-off moment of the series, as Mrs Cole decided she couldn't judge him. I thought it was quite sad actually, as he wasn't the worst, but he was clearly set up to fail.

Can I just say one thing: I liked Phixx.

In case you aren't aware of this boyband, they were the "Popstars: The Rivals" contestants who didn't make it into One True Voice. In Liberty X style, they formed their own band and made some rather fab singles so what better reason than to feature them tonight!

"Hold On Me":
"Love Revolution":
"Strange Love":

Friday, August 15, 2008

YouTube is back!

I've got YouTube working again, how I don't know as I never did anything to it!!


This coming week...

...I'm finally hoping to resume some kind of normal service on here - as things have been anything BUT normal in this blogger's life over recent weeks - but now (finally, fingers crossed) look to be picking up.

The main thing I need to do is get YouTube back in my life as I couldn't reinstall Flash player last weekend. Assuming this gets sorted, Retro Saturday should be back.

Planning to do a couple of charts updates and also take a look at some recent French album releases.

Who knows...maybe even a TV review and some Olympic stuff as well.

I'm hoping to be busy over at Planet Salem this week too, as the object of that blog's affection has a couple of gigs this weekend.

Roll on this weekend!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

UK Charts Update

There is something seriously rotten in the top 40, when the trashy, contrived, 'oh aren't I shocking?' "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry gets to no.1 in the chart, (and knock Kid Rock off no. 1), whilst The Verve's great comeback single "Love Is Noise" can only get to no.5.

I suppose the only consolation is that this week's no.1 has got one-hit-wonder written all over it, but why are the charts all over Europe falling for this tedious publicity seeker?

Elsewhere, I'm happy to see that The Script have made top 5 with their second hit "The Man Who Can't Be Moved", but just who is buying that awful "5 Years Time" by Noah and the Whale? It reminds me of that "JCB Song" from a couple of years ago. Yes, that bad.

I do fear for the chart success of Gabriella Cilmi and Sam Sparro's follow-up singles to "Sweet About Me" and "Black and Gold" respectively, as these songs are still in the top 30 after all this time and "Save The Lies" and "21st Century Life" will probably be neglected as a result.

The top 40 chart has become ridiculously stagnant, with songs hanging around for several months at a time. I'm not suggesting we go back to the old days when a song went straight in at no.1 and then disappeared in a fortnight, but the UK chart is now very stale indeed and something needs to be done to put some life back into it. Any suggestions?

Can anyone tell me....

...when Star Academy 8 is due to start?

I've looked everywhere for this info, but so far it's been a fruitless search.


Am just about to scream!!

I still can't get access to YouTube because I need to download updated version of Flash player, but when I try to do this I'm getting thrown out.


No Retro Saturday this week :(

Having a few technical problems, need to upgrade some software which is stubbornly refusing to co-operate tonight ("Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close..." so it looks like an early night for your humble blogger. Will try again to sort this tomorrow. Fingers crossed :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This week's playlist: there's only one me in the galaxy

The World Should Revolve Around Me - Little Jackie: hit hit hit written all over it. What a great pop tune! I think I like this because the backing track also reminds me of Snook's "Kommer Ifrån" which can only be a good thing.
They Said I Said - SugaRush Beat Company: extremely catchy soul-pop. Lead vocals from Ida Corr, (of "Let Me Think About It" fame) who we've featured on here before.
Smilin' - Bryn Christopher: I'm very excited about this new British soul talent if this is anything to go by. This boy is channelling Terence Trent D'Arby here, and again (for those of us of a certain age) that can only be a good thing.
Last Goodbye - Avenue: it took me a while to get into this, but I eventually decided I like it. Modern boyband style. Did Swedes/Norwegians write this? Sounds like it, (that's a compliment by the way).
Save The Lies - Gabriella Cilmi: dare I say I like this even more than "Sweet About Me"? Anastacia-esque. Ridiculously young Aussie supertalent.
Beggin' - Madcon: I still like this, and hope that all those plays on 'The Box' will bring it to people's attention and result in a top 40 placing.
All Summer Long - Kid Rock: OK I'll admit it - I love this! Great use of the "Werewolves of London" sample, and the result is an effortless summer song. I wish there were more of them around.
When You Touch Me - Freemasons: its UK chart stay was inexplicably brief, but I'm still greatly enjoying this track.
Love Is Noise - The Verve: I'm also still enjoying this, many are annoyed by the repetitive whoo-hoos in the background but I happen to like them!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Not long now till the Olympics start.

OK, I'll get this out of the way first: I didn't understand it at the time it was announced, and all these years later I still don't understand why the IOC awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing.

But they did, and there's not much we can do about it now. The knives are already out, with some critics branding it a flop before it's even started. Time will tell if they were right.

I've always loved the Olympic Games since I was a child - Munich 1972 was the first one I remember, (sadly for all the wrong reasons) and each four-yearly event after that has its own special memories for me, with only the Atlanta 1996 Games being the most forgettable for me. Maybe it's my age, I don't know, but two of the most special Games for me were Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, despite both hit by retaliating boycotts, they still managed to produce some amazing sporting memories.

I said at the time that it would take a lot to top Sydney 2000, which (IMHO) put on the best opening and closing ceremonies I've ever seen, so Beijing's got a lot to live up to.

I'm not patriotic in any way, but it would be quite nice if Team GB could pick up the odd medal or two. I'll be cheering them on in the cycling and athletics anyway, although I'm not so keen on those equestrian and shooting things! It's been an incredibly low-key build up over here, with more media attention being focused on the political aspects of the Games, and the health hazards of the smog than how many medals we'll win. A far cry from the golden age of the 1980s and early 1990s when British athletes were never far from the medals podium. (My favourite event back then was the 400m individual and relay races, and that probably had everything to do with Roger Black...!)

Anyway - good luck to all the athletes from all the competing nations big and small, and hope that it will be a Games to remember. Over to you, Beijing...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

She's finally home.

Mum is now out of hospital after her (unexpected) midweek operation.

I'm soooooo happy to have her back!! And she's happy to be home too, although still in a lot of pain and this op has also had a considerable (temporary) impact on her mobility. Still, you can't keep her down for long :))

Making a spectacle of myself.

They are new, and they are mine all mine.

I'm normally rather understated and reserved in my tastes, but if I'm due some kind of midlife crisis then it should begin with buying great big Posh-type sunglasses for all my adventures abroad :)))

Allsång review? OK, let's not bother and just have some BWO screencaps instead.

These are from last Tuesday's show in which Martin, Marina and Alexander performed "The Bells of Freedom". Martin looked rather yummy in that red shirt :)))

Head on over to and follow the link to the show on SVT Play, where you can find BWO about 4 minutes into the show.

Swedish Charts Update

I'm not too excited by the Swedish Topplistan this week. "Pick Me Up" by Emilia De Poret - who I know nothing about apart from the fact that she had a blog on Aftonbladet's website - is no.1 but I'd describe this as a rather unspectacular slice of r'n'b pop, a genre which (IMHO) frankly is beyond boring at the moment. This track knocked Takida's excellent "Curly Sue" off the top spot. Now, that song has been around for ever (OK then, 34 weeks in the Topplistan) and its staying power may just go on and on.

Sebastian Krantz who was on "Talang" is at no. 3 with "Du Och Jag". Again this doesn't really do anything for me.

After all the football songs in the charts, make way for the official Swedish Olympics song - "Raise The Banner" by The Poodles, well, this is very Poodle-esque and isn't any kind of departure from their normal style. It could be worse though - it could be "Supergirl" by Ellinor, who I reckon they are trying to market as a new Amy Diamond. As if one isn't enough!!

"Hot Summer Night" by Sir Duke is yet more of that effortless conveyer-belt pop which the Swedes can produce in their sleep. After her "Allsang" appearance the eccentric Miss Li has enjoyed chart success with "Oh Boy" but this is now slipping down the chart.

Retro Saturday: Bocca Juniors

And finally, tonight, 'legendary' doesn't even begin to describe "Raise". Anyone with a remote interest in that 1990 crossover indie-dance sound will probably know and love this. Produced by Heller, Farley and Weatherall, if that means anything to you. But even if it doesn't, it's never too late to join the party:

Retro Saturday: KLF

I could have chosen any KLF track tonight - they are all unspeakably wonderful but for some reason I chose to ignore the obvious hits and bring you the slightly more obscure "Kylie Said To Jason" which manages to combine a very commercial Stock-Aitken-Waterman parody with nonsensical rap and some rave influences in there too. What I would give for something as good as this in the top 40 today!

Retro Saturday: Way of the West

After 1981's "Don't Say That's Just For White Boys" and "See You Shake" came "Drum" from 1982, which again got lots of 'night-time Radio 1' airplay but was overlooked everywhere else. Thankfully there is the fairy godmother that is YouTube to revive long-lost forgotten tracks such as this at

Retro Saturday: Stefan Raab

OK I'm just having a little fun now .... where would we be on this blog without a little ESC nonsense from time to time. I had the iPod on shuffle this week and this song came up a couple of times which made me think, "hey, I should put this on Retro Saturday one of these weeks". Classic parody which works and then some. "I am so curious/I just wanna know what you there have". Admitting you like this probably means you have no credibility, but hey, credibility was overrated anyway. Find Stefan and the gang rocking Globen in 2000 at

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Retro Saturday: The Beloved

Can it really be 18 years since "Hello"??? anyway the chorus is basically a list of various famous/cult people/objects and is either a lyrical delight or just....a list of various famous people etc....anyway you can make your own mind up at

Also have a listen to "The Sun Rising" - a dance classic from 1989 at

Retro Saturday: Blur

A bit unfortunate that people have forgotten Blur's relatively early work and only really think of "Parklife" and the whole Blur vs Oasis thing.

So tonight I'd like to focus on three Blur songs which I like.

1. "For Tomorrow":

2. "Bang":

3. "Popscene":

(Oh and by the way, by the time of the Blur vs Oasis media-fabricated 'war' I was firmly in the Oasis camp, although I still rate the "Parklife" album and latterly "Coffee and TV" and "Out of Time" are also rather wonderful as well).