Saturday, 9 November 2013

Secret Agent Songs

In a historic week in which all three chief spies in the UK came out of the shadows and reported live on TV to Parliament, well I say live but there was a two-minute delay on the transmission which was a bit useless as people were live tweeting it - but anyway, I thought I'd do a chart of spy and secret-agent related songs.

Enjoy (in private, unless the NSA are listening in to your internet surfing).

1) Last Of The Secret Agents - Nancy Sinatra
Or James Bond goes jaunty country & western. Actually this is nothing of the sort, but a paean to her man who is a complete fantasist, but Nancy still stands by him

2) Secret Agent Man - Devo
Devo sounding more like Cabaret Voltaire here. Do you remember a time before music videos? Well Devo in the late 1970s were making quite disturbing ones and were way ahead of the trend. The keyboardist here looks like he's moonlighting from Doctor Who.

3) Espionage - Green Day
I never got the whole Green Day thing, but well here they are. It;s funny how most songs about spies/secret agents have the chugging rhythms that reference TV shows like "Dragnet"and of course the James Bond movie themes.

4) I-Spy - Beat Happening
... or they go a bit Oriental to suggest the exotic climes in which the spies work. I love Beat Happening and yet couldn't recall this song at all.

5) Double Agent - Rush
Rush appear far too many times in my charts, not because I particularly like them (punk rock saw an end to my flirtation with heavy rock), but because their song titles seem to chime with whatever zeitgeisty theme I happen to choose, to make a chart for, so props to them for that. This song is pretty dreck though!

6) The Spy (In The House Of Love) - The Doors
Named after an Anais Nin novel, Morrison again resorts to literature for his lyrical delivery. This one is sort of whiskey bar boogie. Musically the band were so damn good.

7) Spy Vs Spy - The Spinto Band
I remember casting around for some music to listen to and The Spinto Band came highly recommended. Too floppy and feeble for me, I didn't really get on with them though. I only dredged this from my recall because Spy Vs Spy echoed a Billy Bragg album title and I was ,uch more into him.

8) CIA Man - The Fugs
See what happens when you give some poets a bunch of musical instruments? All good fun really, I do wonder if one of my favourite bands were influenced by them both politically and musically in songs like "Big Stick".

9) Spy - They Might Be Giants
Here's a band I haven't featured in my charts before, so glad to welcome TMBG. Again that chugging rhythm albeit with a jazz vive over the top of it. I don't know, maybe the rhythm is to suggest a pursuit or something...

10) Surveillance - Clint Mansell
Now this one definitely breaks the mould compared to the others. No chugging rhythms, just a genuinely creepy sense behind the music. I've not seen the movie, but am tempted to track it down.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Short Story - Narcissus Denied

In a world without silver and glass, those with poor eyesight were selected out. Victims of predators, but also condemned to die as lonely hearts. 

For without silvered mirrors, lovers constantly asked their swains to construe their own unseen beauty for them. To trace their features with their fingers and relay a description of what lay beneath their pads. Love making with a running commentary. These verbal echo chambers, pinging back the co-ordinates of the heart by plotting the topography of the rest of the body. Reaffirmation of flesh through the word as much as the adoration by sinew and plasma. The connection was less the physical merging, more the establishing of an image in the mind of each partner of themselves.

Suitors gave air to what attracted them to their inamorata and gave generously. All became poets and lyricists as they gave vent to the full range of their imaginations, reaching for increasingly outlandish metaphors as they moved their lover’s hands over their own countenance. True love often exaggerated, sometimes it outright lied and fabricated. 

Moving in to steal a partner from a rival was often a case of offering a different and maybe more flattering or appealing portrayal of the paramour’s pulchritude. Flimsy fixities of self-images crumbled as they were effortlessly overwritten. Duels were fought with incongruously soft-edged verbal bouquets. The vanquished reeling away to brush up his verbal palette elsewhere. 

Without mirrors and with the quality of water too muddied to hold a sharp reflection, men were unshaven. Their visages partly covered up from delineation in word. Their faces remained opaque. Not so very different from our own world in many ways.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Music For the Sinful

The seven deadly sins. How many have been enshrined in song? Surely there's never been a song penned to sloth?

Here's my best stab at them for your delectation and indulgence!

NB There will be no U2 in this chart, as I don't think Bono was being ironic when he sung of pride and glory...

1) The Undertones - "The Sin Of Pride"
Good Catholic boys from Derry warble on about pride

2) Earth Wind & Fire - "Pride"
Pride in the costumes of soul funk yeah that sounds about right!

3) The Bug featuring Tipper Irie - "Angry"
Yep, they sound impressively angry, but not as much in The Bug track "Politician's and Paedophiles"

4) Public Enemy - "Prophets of Rage"
Actually I always thought with so much righteous anger behind them, Chuck D kept it respectful, while co-vocalist Flavor Flav was the clown in his delivery.

5) The Fall - "Eat Yourself Fitter"
I used to own this very video on Sony Betamax format. Yes The Fall have been making great music for THAT long!

6) Buckcherry - "Gluttony"
I didn't know about this band, but since they don't have Marianne Faithfull's "Gluttony" on YouTube I had to resort to this. Poor show. And do stop swearing, it's not big or clever or RRRRRRock

7)  Dizzee Rascal - "Money Money"
"Money money girls girls cash cash..." The history of rap is littered with male rap singers complaining about female gold diggers

8) Mos Def - "Sex, Love, Money"
More of the same

9) Rainbow - "Jealous Lover"
Sensitive heavy rock, whatever next?

10) Bill Withers - "Who Is He And What Is He To You?"
Good question, great song

11) Buzzcocks - "Just Lust"
Punk-pop at its finest

12) The The - "The Dogs Of Lust"
Funny, I remembered them as a synth band

13) Small Faces - "Lazy Sunday Afternoon"
Has there ever been a more English voice in rock & pop? It was this or The Kinks "Sunday Afternoon" - there really wasn't much to do in Britain in the 60s when the pubs were clsed for the Sabbath was there?

14) Charlatans - "Can't Get Out Of Bed"
It wasn't called the 'Shoegazing' movement in music for nothing you know. Shoegazing was what William Burroughs remembered from his heroin addiction, for hours on end apparently. He described it as boring...