Songs of the Week 03.07.216

Presenting a new feature at the Virtual Hot Tub, my Songs of the Week.  Each week, I will pick five songs that I’ve enjoyed listening to over the last seven days, and share them here for your enjoyment.

Now I listen to probably hundreds of songs in any one week, so choosing just five won’t be easy.  Each track will have stood out for some reason or other – perhaps it was poignant, perhaps relating to something going on in my life.  Most likely it will just be a proper banging tune that I’ve loved.

This is intended to be a regular weekly feature, but we’ll see how that goes.  It’s not easy running this Virtual Hot Tub, you know.

Here’s the five for week ending 03/07/2016:

  1. Devo – Gut Feeling
  2. The Donnas – It’s On The Rocks
  3. The Doors – You’re Lost Little Girl
  4. Alice Cooper – Generation Landslide
  5. Cypress Hill – Can’t Get the Best of Me

There you go – five killer tracks.  No explanations necessary.  Unless the multitudes of readers want to know why songs are chosen, then I’ll reconsider.

For now – keep rockin’.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #4

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 2nd October 2015

For this month’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, I decided to have a theme for my set.  Although it was only early in the month of October, I decided to opt for a Halloween theme.  My music choices would have a horror element, or something dark and macabre.

If you’re not familiar with vinyl night, here’s the basic outline:

  • Hosted in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, turn up and play a fifteen minute set of songs – vinyl only, no CD’s, mp3s, tapes or anything else.
  • Put your name on the list and wait your turn, have a few drinks, listen to the collection of tunes played by other vinyl fans.
  • There are two turntables plus mixing equipment to play your set, plus assistance if you need technical help.

Adam was first up tonight, his set list went as follows:

  • Amen Corner – (If Paradise is) Half As Nice
  • Los Lobos – C’mon Let’s Go
  • Jim Steinman – Surf’s Up
  • Guns’n’Roses – You Could Be Mine

Then it was my turn…

Bobby “Boris” PIckett and the Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash

What better way to start than with this ghoulish classic?  I found this album a few months ago in a charity shop, and couldn’t believe my luck.  It was only a couple of quid, and worth the investment even though I don’t usually spend more than a pound!  This is of course the sixties gem that sound checks various monsters, with Pickett impersonating Karloff (and Lugosi too).  It’s great fun and essential for any Halloween party!

The Damned – Nasty

The first time I ever heard the Damned was when “Eloise” got to number 3 in the charts.  The second time was this fast paced, tongue in cheek ode to horror movies, on the brilliant Young Ones horror spoof episode “Nasty”.  The Damned appear and play this song in the Young Ones’ kitchen.  I was hooked straight away, saved up some money and bought an album with both tracks on it.  Given the exposure this song had, it constantly amazes me that “Nasty” was relegated to a B-side and hardly ever shows up on Damned compilation albums.  I’ve seen the band live more times than any other, but only saw this song performed for the first time a few weeks ago!  Anyway, the Damned are another essential for a Halloween theme.  Still a great song.

Danzig – Sistinas

Although not a horror related song as such, I couldn’t resist the chance to play something by the Dark Lord of rock himself, Danzig.  Instead of a more obvious bone rattling heavy rock number, I chose this incredible ballad that was hidden away on Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.  Glenn shows off his great vocal abilities here on a song that is more Roy Orbison than Black Sabbath.  Appropriately dark and wind swept, this is a morose beauty of a song.

The Misfits – Vampira

To be honest, I was spoiled for choices for a horror theme, there are tons of songs I could’ve played.  Despite risking a Glenn Danzig overdose, I just had to spin a Misfits song.  This band took the horror punk template established by the Damned, the Ramones and the Cramps and ran with it, off into a creepy cemetery populated by every 1950’s B-movie monster ever.  “Walk Among Us” is one of my favourite albums ever, and this short sharp song dedicated to proto Goth babe Vampira is one of their best.

So there you have it – another triumphant evening for Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  There were old songs, new songs, obscure and obvious songs.  There’s always something to make you go away and research another band, that’s the beauty of these nights.  My personal favourite was hearing “Gut Feeling” by Devo!  Already looking forward to the next one.  A theme?  We’ll see…

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all of the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

DVD Lucky Dip

So Ben the Swede was having a party at his house.  He’s returned from the Big Smoke and had actually found a house to live in, as opposed to a cardboard box.

Mike had been selling loads of “quality items” on Ebay and was now selling batches of DVDs.  Bundles of discs, twenty five or so, that he didn’t want anymore.  Some good titles too.

As a bit of a jape, the idea was proposed for Mike to bring a load of his DVDs to Ben’s to sell.  He brought a large bag containing fifty five films.  The proposal was: each of the party goers would pay one pound a go to try their luck in the Luck Dip bag.  No peaking; just reach your hand in and pick your prize at random.  Just like at the school fair when you were a kid.

Here’s what we won:

  • Ben – Resident Evil, Deliverance
  • Jamie – Role Models
  • Janet – Deja Vu, War of the Worlds
  • Rob – Star Trek: First Contact, Body of Lies
  • Terry – Romeo and Juliet
  • Natalie – Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Withnail & I
  • Me – Requiem for a Dream, Rambo: First Blood

All good fun, if you’re a nerd like me who likes films and buying junk.  Mike made quite a chunk of cash and still had plenty of discs to sell on Ebay.  There were a few great films picked up for next to nothing, and it added a fun little game to the house party.

There was a certain amount of tension when you paid your pound and were hoping to get a good film.  Sometimes we were lucky, sometimes not.

If you’re ever selling your DVD collection – or CDs, books whatever – why not try a Lucky Dip?  And don’t forget to invite me.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Halcyon Dreams

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head pub, Mold

Now here’s a fantastic idea: take along any vinyl records of your choice, and you get a fifteen minute slot to play whatever you like.  There’s a regular such evening at the end of every month at the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, North Wales.  It’s a great night’s entertainment combining music and, of course, beer.

I spent a little time raiding my vinyl collection and putting a playlist together.  Then my buddies and me travelled up to Mold.  The Queen’s Head is a pub like any other, but on these Bring Your Own Vinyl nights there’s a set up in the corner with two turntables, mixers etc, and people take turns to spin their wax.  No CDs, cassettes or any other funny business – just beautiful vinyl.

The variety of music to be heard is reassuringly eclectic, with examples from across various genres and ages.  It’s great fun, whether you take a turn on the decks or not – and you’re guaranteed to hear some old favourites or (even better) some new aural treats to research.

I’ve never used DJ equipment before, but no need to worry – the guys were very helpful in using the tech.  It’s quite fun, selecting your track and fading between decks, though I could do with more practice…

Here are the tunes I selected for my turn on the decks:

Ramones – I Just Want to Have Something to do

The lead track of the Ramones’ fourth album, Road to Ruin, this song features a great riff and lyrics of teenage boredom.  Though not considered their best record, I have a real soft spot for Road to Ruin and this song was a no-brainer.

Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire

An obvious Cash song to choose, but there was no way I wasn’t going to play something by this guy and Ring of Fire is always a popular choice.  The song that made me a fan of Johnny Cash.  This is off a random Best Of album that I picked up from a charity shop, and has a wild cover.

The Damned – Stranger on the Town

More punk rock, not that you’d know it – this song from their Strawberries album is some kind of 60’s psychedelic homage complete with brass section.  Possibly my favourite Damned song, the version I played was from The Light at the End of the Tunnel compilation (because it’s the first song on side 2, and easy to find…).

Beastie Boys – Sabrosa

I wanted some more variety for the last track, so went for this jazz funk masterpiece from the Hip Hop masters.  This funky instrumental is off Ill Communication, which I am very glad I have on vinyl!

Despite a few shaky moments with my DJ skills, the set seemed to go well and I really enjoyed it!

Dig out those vinyl albums kids – vinyl is back big time.  The Bring Your Own Vinyl night is an excellent concept – where can you go wrong with classic tunes and some beer?

The next night is on Friday 27th February 2015.

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Winter Rocks – Canada

Way back when I started this blog, the very first post in the Music section was about Scandinavian bands/artists.  I was inspired by the cold weather in early 2013 to listen to music from Scandinavia as a theme for the winter months.

Two years on and I needed another theme for this winter’s music homework.  So despite no (or very little) snow, I went with another northern country and chose Canada.

Now I’m sure that the summer weather in Canada is very nice, but without falling prey to stereotypes, the theme fits.  Plus there are loads of artists from that country to fill my playlist.

Here they are:

  • Alanis Morissette
  • Annihilator
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • Black Mountain
  • Bryan Adams
  • Cancer Bats
  • Cauldron
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • The Guess Who
  • Neil Young
  • Nickleback
  • Rush
  • Shania Twain
  • SNFU
  • Steppenwolf
  • Voivod

There you go: a fairly eclectic mix of everything from country to thrash metal.

My thanks to Matt Barnes, who introduced me to quite a few artists on this list (but not Shania or Alanis…).

Did I forget anyone?  Leave further Canadian music suggestions in a comment below.

Classic Albums

I was aiming to do one of these Classic Album posts every month.  This is February’s…  These posts are dedicated to the timeless, irreplaceable classics of my music collection.

2. Sex Pistols – “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”

By 1988 I was looking for something new, music wise.  I had trawled through loads of heavy metal, thrash metal and hardcore, and a lot of it was getting somewhat stale.  The next step to explore was looking like Motley Crue and WASP.  Luckily, something else came along instead.

I’d heard a Sex Pistols song on a late night rock show on the radio.  I’ve never been one to listen to the radio much.  However, when I heard “Anarchy in the UK”, I thought – that sounds great!  Guitars right up front screaming in your face and tons of energy.  The song stayed in my head and I considered saving up a few quid and making the Sex Pistols album my next purchase.  It would be quite a departure from a great deal of my other music; but with punk rock all over Thrasher magazine and skateboarding generally, it seemed the obvious choice. 136184.jpg SP

So I went into Penny Lane Records in Chester a couple of weeks later, and I bought the cassette.  The cassette!  Unbelievable.  One advantage was I had my Sony Walkman with me and could listen to it straight away.  What should I expect though?  My research had yielded a huge amount of scorn for the group – they couldn’t play, couldn’t sing, they were offensive.  Would the tape just be a horrid cacophony of unlistenable noise?  I pressed play.

I heard the jackboot march intro of first track “Holidays in the Sun” and then the music began.  Far from the despicable noise I’d been warned about, I found (much like “Anarchy…”) a sound that was thrilling, exciting, new.  It was rock music, but it was fast and intense and I knew this was what I had been looking for.

“Bodies” followed, and that song is even more exhilarating than the first.  A few rude words though, so don’t play this without headphones.  “God Save the Queen” was a total revelation – anti-establishment hatred wrapped up in the greatest rock riff ever.  Pure genius.  I’d never heard sentiments like that expressed in any form of popular culture before, and I loved it.  “Pretty Vacant” was actually very catchy, not in the least bit talentless noise.  And “Submission” was a change of pace – showing again that the Pistols were not one trick conmen.

Not all of “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is perfect.  I’ve never been a huge fan of “Seventeen”, for example.  Still that song is better than most bands manage in an entire career.

The music doesn’t sound shocking in this day and age, but lyrically we’re dealing with some raw stuff.  What a joy to behold in a Simon Cowell possessed world.

I ended up getting rid of the cassette and buying the album on vinyl later on.  I’ve still got it.  Of course, I then had the CD also.  I listened to it recently on my iPod and it still sounds fantastic.  Quite simply, every home should have a copy of this record.  “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is still, quite possibly, my favourite album of all time.  It opened my eyes (as well as ears) to something different.  It taught me that exploring music, even music that you might be concerned isn’t for you, will provide great results.

Don’t be afraid, try something new.  And listen to the Sex Pistols with the sound cranked up.  Because we still need to think differently, develop our own opinions, and be open minded.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is punk rock.

Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

  1. Holidays in the Sun
  2. Bodies
  3. No Feelings
  4. Liar
  5. God Save the Queen
  6. Problems
  7. Seventeen
  8. Anarchy in the UK
  9. Submission
  10. Pretty Vacant
  11. New York
  12. EMI

Best tracks: God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, Submission, Anarchy in the UK

Other cool points: one of the most iconic album covers of all time.

Buy this classic album here.

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash

Today I’m commemorating the birth of Johnny Cash, born 26th February 1932.

Below is a picture of some of my Cash memorabilia.  This includes vinyl albums, CDs, books and t-shirts.  That’s quite a few pieces I’ve collected over the years.  The music is timeless and will last longer than the items shown, however.

One more point: the black record sleeve you can make out at the bottom right of the photo is my first Cash album.  It was my grandmother’s originally, and became mine when she passed away – so it has a special place in my vinyl collection.  It’s a great record and introduced me to Johnny Cash’s music.  Cash1782131_10152355579718714_1063450036_n

Check out: JohnnyCash.com