Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spotify Playlist

I've created a Spotify playlist of all the tracks from the covers CD for those of you with Spotify. There's actually one track missing as I couldn't find it on Spotify, so I've replaced it with another cover of the same song.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Radiohead Cover

Prompted either by the fact that I waited until the CD was out before I mentioned it, or upon hearing a Radiohead cover when the CD came out (who can say), I feel the need to share with you my very own version of a Radiohead song. I say my very own, but the drums and bass are created electronically from a MIDI file that some generous internet person created.

The guitars and singing are (unfortunately) me. It was done several years ago, and I know the singing is a little bit out in places, so when you cringe, do so knowing that I know that you know that it's cringeworthy in places.

Having been so disingenuous towards myself, I will add that actually I quite like it and enjoy listening to it.

Co7ers - Track Listing

Well, the wait is over, and CD 7 'Co7ers' is out. So, to recap, 11 contributors, 22 songs - looks a lot like two each, at least one of which has to be a cover.

1 Baby I Don't Care Tranvision Vamp
2 Beacause the Night Patti Smith
3 Dallas Johnny Winter
4 Dear Prudence Siouxsie and the Banshees
5 Fake Plastic Trees Show of Hands
6 Gagarin Public Service Broadcasting
7 God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get) El Perro del Mar
8 Hallelujah Rufus Wainright
9 Hounds of Love The Future Heads
10 Love Spreads The Stone Roses
11 Message In A Bottle Machine Head
12 Nowhere To Go Hurricane Love
13 Our Lips Are Sealed Fun Boy Three
14 Pleasant Valley Sunday The Wedding Present
15 Respect Aretha Franklin
16 Smooth Criminal Alien Ant Farm
17 Statesboro Blues Allman Brothers
18 Strange Brew Cream
19 Swords of a Thousand Men The Real McKenzies
20 Thank You For The Days Luke Kelly
21 We Gotta Get Out Of This Place Space
22 Your Ghost Kristin Hersh

It's a cracking CD as far as I'm concerned, so well done to all.

I will save any writing about the tracks until people have had a guess at who put what on - and it looks like we have quite a long time to deliberate as votes have to be in for Friday 24th April.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cover Consideration ...

OK, maybe there's one track I gave serious consideration to and I'm fairly safe to talk about because I'm pretty sure that no-one will have put it on, and there's a bit of a story behind it.

Many years ago, you may recall Mike Flowers Pops doing a retro version of 'Wonderwall'. I think Chris Evans may have pretended for a while that it was the original that Oasis had covered. Anyway, it was really good - one of the few CD singles I ever bought. Actually, that makes me think ... I also bought Rolf Harris doing a cover of Stairway to Heaven as a CD single: maybe I need to re-evaluate my belief that I don't really go for comedy songs. As for Rolf Harris, well ...

Anyway, I digress, I once heard a song on the radio and I remember exactly where I was, it was sitting in a parked car in Tonbridge, roughly here:

We were away with work back in the days when I used to go out inspecting rails. Amyway, a song came on the radio and it didn't really get much attention at first, but there was something familiar about it - upon closer listening, it turned out to be a version of 'Last Nite' by The Strokes. I think I had the Mike Flowers thing in mind and wondered if it wasn't an original that The Strokes had ended up covering as it had a bit of a retro feel to it. For some reason, I never caught the information about it - maybe they'd announced it before it came on. However, the track stuck with me and I tried on many occasions to track it down (if you'll excuse the pun) but with no success ... until recently that is.

I spent quite a long time on Spotify browsing various covers when considering my selection for this next CD and came across this ...

Hurrah! At last I'd found it. And it was a cover ... two years after The Strokes version.

I am now wondering why on earth I didn't select it for the CD - it's a cracking version and I bet no-one's heard it before. Ah! How ironic - I'm playing the track in iTunes now and notice it's from an album called 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'.

7th CD - Discussions

So, there was another meeting of the CD Consortium governing body which overlaps largely with the attendees of the traditional and immutable First Thursday session held in the local pub.

Anyway the subject of a theme for the next CD was raised, and the first big decision to make was 'Shall we have a theme or not?'. After much debate, a decision was finally avoided, but at some point in the conversation, the idea of having one themed track and one free-choice track was suggested. This was then circulated to members in an email and, insofar as one is able to tell from a limited number of replies, there was general agreement that this was a good idea.

The next big decision was then, 'What should the theme be?' and a stream of suggestions from one particular member was circulated, and by some means or other the theme of 'Cover Versions' was agreed upon.

So there we have it - the genesis of CD 7 'Co7ers'.

The 11 of us have 7 minutes seconds each. We must submit one cover track, and if there are any minutes left over, we can use them for a second 'free-choice' track.

I understand that all the submissions are now in - less than a single week after the deadline, so that's a great effort.

I am fighting the urge to write about my particular selection process so as to not give anything away about what my tracks are. I suspect that there are some people who still enjoy the aspect of guessing who selected which tracks; I know that some are less interested.

Anyway, the next CD is now being awaited with great relish ... bring it on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

VIctuals - Track Listing

OK - so there followed another ad hoc meeting of the CD Consortium committee (a few of us met in the pub) and the topic of themes was again discussed. Were they a good thing? Well some seemed to favour the theme because otherwise, the choice of potential tracks was too overwhelming, and others seemed to prefer the freedom to share what they liked. Anyway, we decided to go with a theme, and for some reason, the theme of 'Food' was agreed upon.

Oh - we welcomed another new contributor - so 11 of us with 7 minutes and 16 seconds each.

Following the recent trend of sneaking the Roman numerals for the sequential number of the CD into the title, 'VIctuals' was hit upon by myself. I felt quite pleased with this until I realised that I didn't know how to pronounce the word. For me, it proved to be one of those words you only come across in written form, or if you hear it you ever, you don't associate it with the written form. I had a similar thing with albeit - to me it was pronounced 'Al-Bite' and I knew what it meant. I also knew the phrase 'all-be-it'. Lictual did I know that it is actually pronounced 'vittal'.

Anyway, the tracks ...

1 Breakfast At Tiffany's Deep Blue Something
2 Imitation Of Life R.E.M.
3 Ice Ice Baby Vanilla Ice
4 Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) My Chemical Romance
5 Bran Flakes Snuff
6 Mexican Wine Fountains Of Wayne
7 Mood Bomb Superfood
8 Digsy's Dinner Oasis
9 Deus The Sugarcubes
10 The World Turned Upside Down Dick Gaughan
11 Tangerine Led Zeppelin
12 Change Blind Melon
13 Nando's The Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican
14 Romeo And Juliet Dire Straits
15 Chocolate Girl Deacon Blue
16 Boilin' Pot J.J. Cale
17 White Winter Hymnal Fleet Foxes
18 I Can't Go Back To Savoury Now John Shuttleworth
19 Addicted To Spuds Weird Al Yankovic
20 Chocolate Salty Balls South Park - Chef
21 One Meat Ball Ry Cooder
22 Peaches Presidents of the United States Of America
23 First Date Blink 182
24 I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones) Hoosier Hot Shots

Now, what is it about food that draws people to 'comedy' tracks?

OK - so the Gold, Silver and Bronze tracks were 'The World Turned Upside Down', 'I Can't Go Back To Savoury Now' and 'Mexican Wine' with the wooden spoon going to 'Bran Flakes'.

My particular tracks on this CD were 'Na na na etc.', and 'Mood Bomb'

'Na na na' - I just like it.

'Mood Bomb' - I was using my wife's car for work one week and this was 'single of the week' - I heard it a couple of times and loved it, and again was convinced it was going to win everyone over. Not so.

TraVel - Track Listing

Well this time, we went for the idea of a theme full on, and were asked to contribute songs based on the theme of travel. It was left to individuals to interpret this as best they saw fit.

Two more contributors were also introduced, leading to a grand total of 8 minutes each.

It may have been this CD, it may have been the previous one, but a new scoring model was introduced. This time, contributors had to award a Eurovision style score to the favourite tracks - hence handing out 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 accordingly (but not for their own tracks).

This project was probably one of the longest from conception through to completion that we've had, and a tactical transfer of responsibility was required to bring it to completion.

1 I'm Mandy Fly Me 10CC
2 The Day We Caught The Train Ocean Colour Scene
3 The Passenger Iggy Pop
4 Michiko Sultans of Ping FC
5 Sally MacLennane The Pogues
6 Kill The Fun Haley Bonar
7 Traintime [Live] Cream
8 We All Went Down With The Ship Ed Harcourt
9 The Outdoor Type Lemonheads
10 Philadelphia Standard Fare
11 Crosstown Traffic Jimi Hendrix
12 Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel Barenaked Ladies
13 Urge For Going Joni Mitchell
14 Red Hill Mining Town U2
15 Reservoir Metronomy
16 American Interior Gruff Rhys
17 Hold On We're Going Home Drake
18 Parachutes Coldplay
19 Telephone Call From Istanbul Tom Waits
20 Road To Hell Chris Rea
21 Crazy Train Ozzy Osbourne

The Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for best tracks went to: 'The Outdoor Type', 'Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel', and 'Urge For Going'. 'Hold On We're Going Home' scooped the wooden spoon.

My particular tracks were 'Kill The Fun' and 'We All Went Down With The Ship'

'Kill The Fun' was one of those serendipitous findings - I was travelling back from football, discussing the current CD project with the guy hosting the project this time round (let's call him Meil), and listening to 6 Music as I was in my wife's car for once, and this song came on. I loved it instantly, and caught the word 'travelling' in one of the verses. The decision was made there and then - and then came along a familiar problem. How to get hold of the bloomin' thing. It wasn't available in this country. It was available as a download from their website, in the States. Well I just bit the bullet and bought a copy through their website even though I wasn't in the States, and the download code was emailed to me accordingly. Phew. Another track I was convinced would win - I was sure it had universal appeal. It came one point behind the 'Bronze' position. Oh well.

'We All Went Down To The Ship' is from and EP by Ed Harcourt that I found on Spotify - I love the EP, and I love this track, especially the chorus. I'm not too sure about the bass line in the verse - something not quite right about it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Michelle Shocked, The Live Experience!

OK, as hinted at in the previous post, a few words about Michelle Shocked. I saw her play a couple of times in Sheffield, which is saying something given that I'm not a huge gig-goer. Anyway that was all years ago. Whilst trying to get hold of 'Don't You Mess Around With My Little Sister', it became clear that Michelle doesn't allow her work on Spotify - which is entirely up to her. It also became apparent that she was due to play a gig in Sheffield ... AT THE GREYSTONES! Within walking distance! In a couple of months' time. Well I booked two tickets there and then. And then I did a bit more Googling.

It turned out that in the intervening years, Michelle had become a fundamentalist born-again Christian. Several people are. But it posed certain problems for her. Whilst in the past, she'd never stated that she was a lesbian, there was allegedly little doubt about her bi-sexual nature. This was something distinctly at odds with her new-found beliefs. Anyway, apparently, she had had something of a fall from grace. She was performing in California somewhere (to a very politically correct crowd), and something set her off on a rant against same sex marriage. The audience reacted angrily, many left, the gig was stopped by the management and the rest of the tour was cancelled. I think the media then leapt on this and she became a bit of a pariah. She then posted some very odd stuff on her web page about 'Truth vs Reality'. She also became an Internet troll against a reporter who had written an article about her. This is all a bit hazy now, but I believe that I read that she had started to have a go at an audience who had failed to appreciate some random improvised (weird) stuff that she decided to perform. Her Twitter following fell from many thousands to something like 37!!

All this odd behaviour from someone due to appear before me and my wife in an intimate setting a few weeks hence. Soon after though, the gig was cancelled.

Michelle has subsequently released an album audible only to dogs!

The Year Of The Horse - Track Listing

There was a slight departure from the formula for previous CDs in this instance, in that contributors could, if they so wished, choose a theme to link their tracks. Of course there was never anything in the rules to stop this for previous CDs, but the addition of a possible theme gave the act of choosing who put what songs on resemble a 'Wall' puzzle from 'Only Connect' with many possible connections being there.

This CD also saw the number of contributors rise to 6 - or 13 minutes and 20 seconds each.

1 Imigrant Song Led Zeppelin
2 I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor Arctic Monkeys
3 Avant Gardner Courtney Barnett
4 Don't You Mess Around With My Little Sister Michelle Shocked
5 Ripcord Radiohead
6 Both Sides Of The Story Phil Collins
7 Into The Light Peter Gabriel
8 (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing Field Music
9 Riptide Vance Joy
10 Hey! Wire Cud
11 Formed A Band Art Brut
12 500 Miles Proclaimers
13 I Don't Like Mondays Boomtown Rats
14 Spirit The Waterboys
15 Ballad Of An Ordinary Man Christie Moore
16 Tuesday Morning The Pogues
17 Les Enfants Celeste
18 Hindu Times Oasis
19 Staring At The Sun Rooster
20 A Thousand Trees Stereophonics
21 Royals Lorde
22 Cars Gary Numan
23 Colourspill I Monster

My particular tracks were 'Don't You Mess Around With My Little Sister', 'Hey! Wire' and 'Colourspill'. No link from me.

I was introduced to Michelle Shocked at university and having loved 'Short Sharp Shocked', was a little disappointed by the follow-up album 'Captain Swing', but 'Don't You Mess Around With My Little Sister' stood out as a cracking track demanding to be liked, despite my tendency towards indifference towards Rock 'n' Roll. There is a side-story to go with Michelle Shocked which will fill another post.

'Hey! Wire' was a favourite Cud track from my first years in Sheffield - another one I thought everyone would love, but was proved wrong.

'Colourspill' was heard as background music on a 'Dynamo' TV show. I'm not sure if I used Shazam or Googling of obscure lyrics, but managed to track it down in the end. The band turned out to be I Monster, and further research found them to be based in Nether Edge. This song was taken from an album of I Monster rarities - which probably makes it very rare indeed. Lovely trippy chorus.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

September 2013 - Wives' CD - Track Listing

1. The Life Of Riley The Lightning Seeds
2. A Thousand Years Christina Perri
3. That's Alright Laura Mvula
4. The Funny Bird Mercury Rev
5. Govinda Kula Shaker
6. Sixty Eight Guns The Alarm
7. How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep Bombay Bicycle Club
8. Prescilla Bat For Lashes
9. Where Is My Mind Sunday Girl
10. Maria Blondie
11. Step On The Happy Mondays
12. Gun Shy Grizzly Bear
13. Jump Aztec Camera
14. Three Babies Sinead O'Connor
15. Tonight These Streets Are Ours Richard Hawley
16. A Little Time The Beautiful South
17. Awkward Annie Kate Rusby
18. Always On My Mind The Pet Shop Boys
19. Unfinished Business White Lies
20. Gigantic The Pixies

I ended up personally preferring this CD to the folk-ridden 'Blokes' CD. It contained an excellent mix of new (to me) tracks and really enjoyable tracks from the past. 'That's Alright' lead me to buy (and be disappointed by the rest of) Laura Mvula's CD.

Funnily enough, 'A Thousand Years' features on both this and the 'Blokes' CD - although not contributed by the same family.

September 2013 - Blokes - Track Listing

September 2013 saw a new undertaking, and the wives of the existing contributors (all married men) were invited to contribute to their own CD, as an addition to the main CD.

The track list for the 'Blokes' CD is:

1 Also Sprach Zarathustra Richard Strauss
2 The Seventh Stranger Duran Duran
3 Devil In Your Shoes Shed Seven
4 Stay The Night Ghosts
5 Seek It Richard Hawley
6 1979 Smashing Pumpkins
7 Interlude I Alt-J
8 You’re Gorgeous Babybird
9 Kathy’s Song Simon & Garfunkel
10 So Good At Being In Trouble Unknown Mortal Orchestra
11 Once Was A Time I Thought Mamas And The Papas
12 Souter Creek Flook
13 Farewell Appalachia Stornoway
14 Son Of A Preacher Man Dusty Springfield
15 A Thousand Years Christina Perri
16 Older Band Of Horses
17 Homeward Bound Simon & Garfunkel
18 Shapeshifter Laura Veirs
19 Ode To Billy Joe Bobby Gentry
20 Why Waltz The Christians
21 Do It Again Camera Obscura
22 On My Way Back Home Again​ Band Of Horses

This CD is a bit of an anomaly, in that 'folk' tracks had seemed to fare well on earlier CDs in terms of collecting votes - people obviously had the same thought, and the number of 'folk' tracks chosen is remarkably high, distorting the feel of the whole CD somewhat.

My contributions were 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', 'Stay The Night', 'Interlude I', 'Once Was A Time I Thought', 'Farewell Appalachia' and 'Shapeshifter'.

'Also Sprach Zarathustra' just seemed like a fitting introduction.

'Stay The Night' - well again, this was once chosen by someone else for one of our departmental CDs and I absolutely love it - I can never help myself from tapping the steering wheel along to it (when alone in the car). It doesn't seem to be universally popular though. How very odd.

'Interlude I' - I added a couple of 1 minute snippets, this being one. I just like the singing and OCD being the subject matter (I think).

'Once Was A Time I Was' - also introduced to me via a Twitter colleague.

'Farewell Appalachia' is a beautiful song by Stornoway which embeds itself into a little more each time you listen to it. An interesting feature of the song is the intro which begins with a tap which turns out to be on the fourth beat of the bar and would make it difficult to come in to. Haunting.

'Shapeshifter' - last but not least. Another case of hearing a track on 6 music, loving it straight away and then trying to get hold of the album.

CD 2 - Vernal Solstice - Track Listing

In a welcome (to me) alteration to the tried and tested format, one of the other contributors (let's call him Meil) offered to host the CD so that I might be able to take part in the 'who put what on' element of it. The planned deadline of Spring Equinox slipped somewhat, and hence the Vernal Solstice CD was released in the summer.

1 Ace of Spades Motorhead
2 Rockaria! ELO
3 All the Time The Strokes
4 I Always Knew The Vaccines
5 Sovereign Light Café Keane
6 GMF John Grant
7 Half the World Away Oasis
8 The Ballad of Paul Tierney Lonely Tourist
9 The Queen & the Soldier Suzanne Vega
10 St Swithin’s Day Dubstar
11 King Chicago The Bible
12 Giorgio by Moroder Daft Punk
13 After Tonight UB40
14 Broken Promises New Order
15 OK Cafe Snowdune
16 San Francisco Foxygen
17 Butterflies & Hurricanes Muse
18 It’s All in My Mind Teenage Fan Club
19 I Believe REM
20 Woody Allen Allo Darlin’

My particular contributions to this CD were 'All The Time', 'I Always Knew', 'OK Cafe' and 'Butterflies & Hurricanes'.

'All The Time' was brand new at the time I contributed it - I heard it on 6 Music and loved it right away - it thus became one of the few tracks I've bought as a single (as the album hadn't yet been released).

'I Always Knew' - another track that bounces along with great energy and a feel good factor.

'OK Cafe' - well there's a bit of a story here. I heard this track listening to BBC Introducing on Radio Sheffield one evening. I loved the overall feel to it and made a mental note to find out what it was. A bit of digging around later, I found it on Soundcloud - it wasn't available on general release, or as a download - I messaged them to ask about getting hold of it and they confirmed it wasn't available to the public. Well - I have to confess to using various bits of software to create an MP3 from the Soundcloud feed. An added bonus was the fact that people wouldn't be able to Google or Shazam the track as it had such an obscure source. Another added point of interest is that it is about a cafe I drive past pretty much every day on the way to work - situated on Abbeydale Road.

'Butterflies & Hurricanes' - Muse are one of my favourite bands, and this is my favourite of their tracks. I love the piano towards the end.

CD 1 Track Listing

I don't think the first CD of the current consortium had a title as such, but the track listing is:

1 The Infanta The Decemberists
2 Fast Fuse Kasabian
3 Lightning Bolt Jake Bugg
4 Heartbeats Jose Gonzalez
5 Heart Of A Saturday Night Tom Waits
6 It Started With A Kiss Hot Chocolate
7 My Black Pages The Byrds
8 Default Django Django
9 Won’t Get Fooled Again The Who
10 Mountain Sound Of Monsters And Men
11 The Drugs Don’t Work The Verve
12 Two Step Dave Matthews Band
13 Mr Clean The Jam
14 Wrecking Ball Call The Doctor
15 Louder Than A Bomb Public Enemy
16 Turkey Song The Damned
17 The Lee Shore Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
18 It’s Only Life The Shins
19 Get Together The Youngbloods
20 For What It’s Worth Buffalo Springfield

My tracks on this CD being The Infanta, Heart Of A Saturday Night, and Two Step.

The Decemberists were introduced to me through the Twitter compilation CD - I loved 'We Both Go Down Together' as a track, and so bought the album and found 'The Infanta' - great opener if I do say so myself.

'Heart Of A Saturday Night' has been a favourite ever since I was introduced to Tom Waits as a 17 year old. I love the gentle tap tap rhythm and the laid back double bass - if it wasn't for the bass line, then this song wouldn't have half the appeal that it does (to me anyway).

'Two Step' was also introduced to me via a Twitter colleague - we just got talking about music on Twitter, and she told me a few of her favourite tracks, one of which was this. I think it is the over all feel and energy of the track which appeals.

The Transition To The Current Consortium

The Departmental CD ran for 10 years or so with titles such as 'The Odd Collection', 'The Odder Collection', 'The Ultimate Odd Collection Volume II' etc. and whilst people always enjoyed receiving the completed disc, the enthusiasm in participating slipped somewhat in terms of getting contributions in on time, actually listening to the finished CD, and getting voting forms in on time. So, I decided it was time to try other avenues and introduced the CD to the card school I play in at work. This spawned a couple of efforts, but again suffered from a couple of indifferent contributors. I even tried the project with a bunch of Twitter friends.

Eventually, I decided to start the thing off again with people who were enthusiastic about the idea of sharing music, and the current consortium was formed - initially with an elite group of five people. There are now 11 contributors, and others expressing an interest in joining in, but the space on a CD is limited to 80 minutes, which equates to 7 minutes and 16 seconds each.

The Start Of It All

Many years ago, I introduced an annual collaborative CD into the department at work. The idea was that the 10 of us would choose around 8 minutes' worth of music and contribute it to a 'Mix CD'. This proved to be a popular thing, and was much anticipated around Christmas time. I also used to go to the trouble of producing a cover, inlay and booklet, normally as a shoddily executed pastiche of an existing album cover featuring pictures of ourselves in place of the original protagonists. For example we reconstituted the Band On The Run scene outside a building at work, or became the faces on Mount Rushmore.

Anyway, the idea evolved a little, and soon a scoring system was introduced. Contributions were kept secret, and contributors had to guess what the songs were, and who had put them on. A simple ranking system for the tracks was then introduced, and contributors had to select their three favourite tracks and their least favourite.

The wide range in characters involved and hence the wide selection of musical tastes produced some very interesting compilations, and it was often a challenge to make them into some form of coherent whole. It was a great way of being introduced to new music, and I discovered several firm favourites I might never have come across otherwise.