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Archive for the ‘Music – Songs’ Category

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John Kettley is a Weatherman – A Tribe of Toffs

Posted by Big Boo on July 3rd, 2009

A Tribe of ToffsIf you take a perusal of the songs I’ve featured in the Music – Songs category of this site you’ll soon realise that most, if not all, are novelty songs of some kind or another.  Part of the reason for this is that as a kid I was never really into music in a big way, and certainly wasn’t a fan of any one band in particular, so the songs which I tend to remember most vividly, perhaps regrettably, are the rather less serious ones.

Apology out of the way here’s todays whimsical offering – John Kettley is a Weatherman, by A Tribe Of Toffs.  This little ditty was released in 1988 and although many people will remember it even now it only actually made its way to number 21 in the UK charts.  The chorus lyrics were simple and straight to the point:-

John Kettley is a weatherman, a weatherman, a weatherman.

John Kettley is a weatherman, and so is Michael Fish.

The main verses went through a series of well known people at the time and a little something about them, such as Johnathan Ross collects moss (possible I guess?), Andy Crane has no brain and Simon Parkin is always larking.  Amusingly enough whilst Simon Parkin was a childrens TV presenter at the time of the record he is now, wait for it, a weatherman on ITV!

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Morris Minor and the Majors – Stutter Rap

Posted by Big Boo on April 20th, 2009

stutter rapStutter Rap was the only hit for comedy rap group Morris Minor and the Majors, a British parody of the Beastie Boys.  Where the Beastie Boys were famous for wearing the Volkswagen logo, unsurprising the singers of Stutter Rap favoured the rather more old fashioned (but quintisentially British) Morris Minor.

The song lyrics play heavily on the idea of trying to rap when you’re cursed with a stutter, and how difficult this is, and cleverly work in some well known lines from other songs in a twisted way, including the songs subtitle No Sleep Til Bedtime, which borrowed from the Beastie Boys, and the groan worthy line “he was going to chuck a bottle, he was going to chuck a can, chuck-a-can,chuck-a-chuck-a-chuck-a“.

The band members were Morris Minor, Rusty Wing and Phil Errup, better known as comedian Tony Hawks (no not the skateboarder – that’s Tony Hawk), Paul Boross and Phil Judge.  Tony Hawks wrote the song, and it’s B side track “Another Boring B Side“.  Ironically Tony started off as a song writer but didn’t do so well, so became a comedian and then struck gold with this song, which climbed the charts to number 4 in the UK and number 2 in Australia.

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Paul Hardcastle – 19

Posted by Big Boo on March 6th, 2009

19 paul hardcastle“19” by Paul Hardcastle is a track that everybody who was around in the 1980’s must surely recognise and remember. It was released in 1985 and took the UK chart by storm, staying at number one for 5 weeks. It also enjoyed a stint at the top of the charts in many other countries including Austria, Germany, Italy and New Zealand, and more besides.

The track consisted of a dance music backing which was overlaid with vocals provided by Peter Thomas, an American narrator of documentary TV shows. The vocals were in fact exactly that, the narration of a TV show about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, with a little electronic trickery applied to them. Thomas’ voice was sampled and played back in different ways by a synthesiser, allowing for words to change in pitch or have parts repeated, creating a kind of stuttering effect. How many of us have attempting to sing along by going N-n-n-nineteen I wonder.

Whilst Peter Thomas was initially against the song he relented and allowed it to be released, and just as well as not only was it a great song, it was also educational! Many people of my generation had heard of the Vietnam War, but didn’t really know much about it, especially those of us from Europe. The song does a good job of letting us know about the atrocities of that war, with the title, “19” coming from the average age of the soldiers that fought in Vietnam, which contrasts sharply to the average age of a World War II soldier, which was 26.

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M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume

Posted by Big Boo on February 11th, 2009

marrs pump up the volumeThe late eighties saw many pop records starting to use more electronic methods of music production over the more traditional methods of playing a musical instrument into a microphone.  Synthesisers, drum machines and music sequencers became common place and meant that people could now create music more easily, without having to spend years learning to play piano or guitar first.

Another new technique that was just beginning to find its feet was that of sound sampling.  This involved digitally grabbing a section of an existing song, perhaps a particular snatch of music or some lyrics, then using that sound in different ways by speeding it up or slowing it down, or repeating sections of it to give a stuttering effect.  Filters could also be applied to give the sound echos, make it sound robotic and much more.  These samples could then be strung together to make a whole new piece of music.

Pump Up The Volume was one of the first and most successful examples of the sound sampling method.  It was attributed to M|A|R|R|S which was a collaboration between two groups, A R Kane and Colourbox, who were both released on indie label 4AD.  Both groups had had the idea of releasing a more commercial dance record, as this style of music had yet to hit the mainstream, so the record label boss suggested the two groups work together to do this.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Posted by Big Boo on December 15th, 2008

In 1984 during the run up to the Christmas period one of the big stories on the TV news was that of the terrible famine that was taking place in Ethiopia.  All the pictures of starving children were seen by Bob Geldof who was so moved and angered about the situation that he decided to do something about it.

Bob started gathering together many of the pop stars of the day to record a song written by the Irish star of The Boomtown Rats.  Geldof’s criteria was that the acts had to be famous, in order to make as much impact as possible, and that they had to donate their talents free of charge.

One of the first stars on board was Midge Ure, who put music to Geldof’s lyrics, but the list grew to encompass such notables as Phil Collins, who played the drums on the record, Sting, Bono, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, David Bowie, Boy George, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet and many more.  Bowie and McCartney were not able to make the recording date so their recordings were dubbed on later, and Boy George had to jet over by Concorde to be at the recording!

The record went straight to number one in the UK charts when it was released on 29th November 1984 and stayed there for five weeks, being the UK Christmas top song.  The song was also rereleased the following year after the Live Aid concert.

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Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Posted by Big Boo on November 19th, 2008

Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood is the first song I can remember being banned, although as I’ve now found out it wasn’t quite as big as a ban as I thought it was, but more on that later.

The song was the debut single for Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and it topped the charts in the UK, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.  In the UK the song held the top spot for five weeks before dropping down the charts, but the release of the bands second single, Two Tribes, saw it climb again back up to the number two position whilst that song occupied the top spot.  The song went on to sell 1.9 million copies, making it today the 7th best selling single in the UK of all time.

The song spawned a fashion craze as well with the “Frankie Says Relax” T-Shirt, with big bold black letters on a plain white shirt similar in style to the Choose Life T-Shirts sported by fans of Wham!  In fact, you can still pick up such a shirt (artificially aged for good measure) at 80sTees.

So how did the song’s infamous ban by the BBC come about.  Well, the song was initially played on Top of the Pops on 5th January 1984 which helped it rise up the charts to number 6.  The following week Radio 1 DJ Mike Read aired his disgust for both the songs cover artwork and its lyrics, and refused to play the song.  The BBC itself also suffered from some raised eyebrows internally, and so the corporation decided to ban the song across all BBC channels, backing up Mike Read in the process.

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Cameo – Word Up

Posted by Big Boo on October 17th, 2008

Whilst idly channel hopping the other night I stopped for a while on VH1 because they had one of their themed compilation shows on, in this case it was a Top 40 Party Songs from the 1980s, or some such wording anyway.  Early on in the listing came one of those songs that everybody will instantly remember, Word Up, by Cameo.

Word Up is one of those songs that is instantly recognisable, mainly due to the fact that Larry Blackmon, founder and lead vocalist of the band, sang it in such a distinctive way.  His voice comes across sounding almost robotic, so I’m assuming it must have been going through some kind of filter in order to achieve this affect.  Either that or the tight lycra trousers and even tighter looking red plastic cod piece Larry wore in the video was responsible for the voice changing effect.

Cameo are an R&B band formed in 1974 under the name the New York City Players, which to my mind sounds more like a performance art group than a band!  In 1976 the band was renamed Cameo, amid fears that the old name might be confused with another group called Ohio Players.

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Ren̩e and Renato РSave Your Love

Posted by Big Boo on September 30th, 2008

If there’s one thing the 1980s had that seems to have been lost in more recent times its the really cheesey song, and they don’t come much cheesier than Save Your Love, the 1982 Christmas UK number one hit from classy duo Renee and Renato.  I’m not sure whether to be thankful or not that songs of this calibre no longer seem to be released.

As mentioned Save Your Love hit the top of the charts at Christmas, but it was actually released back in October of 1982 entering the charts at a less than auspicious 54 in the charts.  Somehow the song got discovered however and it rose up the charts both in the UK and The Netherlands and Norway, staying at the top of the British charts for no less than four weeks.

Renée (real name Hilary Lester) and Renato (full name Renato Pagliari) did release two other songs, Just One More Kiss and Jesus Loves Us All, but neither repeated their initial success and so Renée (sorry, Hilary) went back to her private life whilst Renato still sings aboard cruise ships and at his brothers Italian restaurant in Tamworth, Staffordshire, apparently.

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