Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #16

Time to relax and enjoy more of the joys of vinyl!  Yes, it’s another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub, where I spend an evening playing through my stack of 7 inch records.  No skipping, no choosing anything out of order – just A then B side and make the most of it.

With the aid of some alcoholic beverages, of course!

In this edition, there’s another eclectic mix of songs from artists of various genres – including some absolute bangers.  Let’s go!

  1. Madness – “One Step Beyond” / “Mistakes”
  2. Bad Company – “Rock’n’Roll Fantasy” / ” Crazy Circles”
  3. Rick James – “Dance Wit Me (Part 1)” / “Dance Wit Me (Part 2)”
  4. INXS – “Taste It” / “Light the Planet”
  5. ZZ Top – “Legs” / “Bad Girl”
  6. Landscape – “Einstein A Go-Go” / “New Religion”
  7. Billy Idol – “Mony Mony” / “Shakin’ All Over (Live)”
  8. Fine Young Cannibals – “Johnny Come Home” / “Good Times and Bad”
  9. James Brown – “Living in America” / Vince DiCola – “Farewell”
  10. The Sweet – “Teenage Rampage” / “Own Up, Take a Look at Yourself”
  11. Sham 69 – “Hersham Boys” / “I Don’t Wanna” / “Tell us the Truth”
  12. Judas Priest – “Take On the World” / “Starbreaker”
  13. Stray Cats – “Rock This Town” / “You Can’t Hurry Love”
  14. Madam X – “High in High School” / “Metal in my Veins”
  15. Wings – “Live and Let Die” / “I Lie Around”
  16. The Beach Boys – “Do It Again” / “Wake the World”
  17. The Joan Collins Fan Club – “Leader of the Pack” / “Jacques”
  18. Elton John – “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” / “Jack Rabbit” / “Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again”
  19. Lee Marvin – “Wand’rin’ Star” / Clint Eastwood – “I Talk to the Trees”
  20. Suzi Quatro – “Can the Can” / “Ain’t You Somethin’ Honey”
  21. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus” / “Jane B.”
  22. Bee Gees – “Tragedy” / “Until”

And there you have it!  A great collection of tunes and a fun night.  My favourite Bond theme, plus a load of class artists including The Beach Boys, Elton John, Billy Idol, Bad Company, Madness, James Brown and more.

No idea who Madam X are, that was a 20p find and I bought it on the strength of the cover.  Turned out to be dodgy 80s metal, unsurprisingly.  It was quite good.

Bonus points to any reader who can tell me: who was the Joan Collins Fan Club?

Stay tuned for more Singles Nights soon – I’ve still got a heck of a lot of vinyl to play through…

NB: The Fine Young Cannibals track was inside an Alarm sleeve.  I thought I’d picked up “Spirit of ’76” for 20p in a charity shop, but no such luck: it was FYC instead.  Such are the perils I encounter.  On a happy note though, the FYC tune was a belter.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #15

Hey folks!  How’s isolation going?  These are strange times indeed.  I hope all of you are safe and well.

I don’t know about you, but spinning wax is a great way to spend a long evening whilst in lockdown.  As regular readers will know, I often play through my stack of recently acquired 7 inch vinyl as a way to unwind.  With a few wee drinkie-poohs, of course.

What happens with Singles Night is this: I have a pile of records, all 7″ singles, that I haven’t played yet.  I play them all in order, A side then B side.  Then I list them here, in case anyone out there is as sad as me and thinks that lists like this are fascinating.

Here we go with the latest batch:

  1. Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing” / “Had a Dad (Demo)”
  2. Boney M – “Ma Baker” / “Still I’m Sad”
  3. Madness – “The Return of the Las Palmas 7” / “That’s the Way to do it”
  4. Bon Jovi – “Livin’ on a Prayer” / “Wild in the Streets”
  5. Rainbow – “Since You Been Gone” / “Bad Girl”
  6. The Zombies – “She’s Not There” / “You Make Me Feel Good”
  7. Ace Frehley – “New York Groove” / “Snow Blind”
  8. Slade – “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” / “Man Who Speaks Evil”
  9. Pink Floyd – “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” / “One of My Turns”
  10. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” / “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to be”
  11. Toyah – “Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard)” / “Laughing with the Fools”
  12. Thin Lizzy – “China Town (Live)” / “Got to Give it up (Live)”
  13. The Stranglers – “Thrown Away” / “Top Secret”
  14. U2 – “All I Want is You” / “Unchained Melody”
  15. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Commotion” / “Green River”
  16. The Sweet – “Wig-Wam Bam” / “New York Connection”
  17. The Flying Lizards – “Money” / “Money B”
  18. The Beatles – “We Can Work it Out” / “Day Tripper”
  19. Generation X – “Your Generation” / “Day by Day”
  20. Ash – “Angel Interceptor” / “Eternal” / “Give Me Some Truth”
  21. Marc Bolan & T-Rex – “Teenage Dream” / “Satisfaction Pony”

Well that was one of the best – and rockingest – Singles Nights ever.  I doubt we’ll see that amount of awesome rock again in a hurry.  Don’t forget, readers – I don’t choose the songs to play, it’s just whatever’s next in the pile.

Jane’s Addiction are one of my favourite bands ever.  Plus there were classic tracks from Rainbow, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy.  My favourite U2 song and one of my favourite Beatles songs.  Some punk, some new wave, and a more recent tune from Ash.

A special mention to Slade’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, which was UK Number 1 when I was born.

A great selection.  I’ll see you soon for another Singles Night!

Sweet – Gig Review

Sweet + Novatines

Wednesday 11th December 2019

Buckley Tivoli

What could be better at this time of year than a bit of proper, 1970’s glam rock?  Sweet never had a world conquering Crimbo hit like Slade, but they did have a ton of mega singles that are totally inextricable from the days of seventies glam.  After missing the band when they played Buckley Tivoli last year, I wanted to make sure I was there this time around.

Support band The Novatines seemed like a decent hard rock proposition, however I arrived late and missed the bulk of their set.  Worthwhile checking out another time though.

Andy Scott is the only remaining member from this version of Sweet’s classic line-up.  He’s a local lad – well, Wrexham is just a few miles away – so it’s nice to see him and the band on near enough home ground.  Andy Scott is also a bona fide rock god: his guitar playing is exceptional; the trademark high pitched backing vocals are ball-squeezingly present and correct; his banter funny and his charisma epic.  He’s the real deal.

The rest of the band are a fine bunch of musicians, and together they smash out both the bubblegum pop hits and the rockier tracks.  It’s this combination of pop sensibilities and rock skills that have made Sweet inspirational for generations of music fans.

Starting off with one of my absolute favourite tracks, “Action”, it’s clear that this is going to be a night of delivering the goods.  The set features all the obvious gems: “Hellraiser”, “The Six Teens”, “Sweet F.A.”, “Wig Wam Bam” and “Little Willy” before closing with another personal fave, “Fox on the Run”.

Everything is performed brilliantly, and the audience clearly love every second.  It’s also nice to note that I’m in the younger age range at this particular gig!

Finally, the band return for an encore of “Blockbuster” and “Ballroom Blitz” – two songs that are really no surprise, but could not be left out.  No way, Jose – there’s have been a blitz at the Tivoli Ballrooms had they been omitted.

So a rare Wednesday night out at a gig for me, but well worth the effort.  Some may find Sweet too lightweight in an era that gave us Alice Cooper and Bowie; I thoroughly enjoyed it.  A solid band of fantastic musicians performing well loved (and under rated) songs.

This is one Sweet I’d like a second helping of.  I’ve definitely got a Sweet tooth.  And so on.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #6

Welcome to another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub with your host, Platinum Al!

As previous, I spent the evening listening to a stack of 45 rpm singles that I’d acquired over time from several sources.  Whilst imbibing some fine alcohol.  The following is a list of those singles, A and B sides listened to in order.

There are some particularly sweet slabs of vinyl in this edition.  As always, however, we’re never too far away from some rank cheese…

  1. INXS – “The Gift” / “The Gift (Extended Mix)”
  2. Sweet – “Action” / “Sweet F.A.”
  3. Rod Stewart – “Reason to Believe” / “Maggie May”
  4. The KLF – “America: What Time is Love?” / “America No More”
  5. ABBA – “Mamma Mia” / “Tropical Loveland”
  6. Elvis Presley – “Trouble” / “Young Dreams” / “Crawfish” / “Dixieland Rock”
  7. Cream – “Strange Brew” / “Tales of Brave Ulysses”
  8. Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy” / “I’m Too Sexy (Instrumental)”
  9. Anthrax – “Indians” / “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” / “Taint”
  10. The Stranglers – “All Day and All of the Night” / “Viva Vlad!”
  11. W.A.S.P. – “I Don’t Need No Doctor” / “Widowmaker”
  12. Beastie Boys – “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” / “Time to Get Ill”
  13. Iron Maiden – “The Clairvoyant” / “The Prisoner”
  14. AC/DC – “Let’s Get It Up” / “Back in Black”
  15. Yes – “Into the Lens” / “Does It Really Happen?”
  16. Marillion – “Incommunicado” / “Going Under”
  17. Kim Wilde – “Cambodia” / Watching for Shapes”
  18. The Beatles – “Day Tripper” / “We Can Work It Out”
  19. The Spencer Davis Group – “Keep On Running” / “Somebody Help Me” / “Every Little Bit Hurts” / “I’m a Man” / “Gimme Some Lovin'”
  20. Booker T and the M.G.s – “Time is Tight” / “Hang ‘Em High”
  21. The Byrds – “Mr Tambourine Man” / “I Knew I’d Want You”
  22. The Skids – “Circus Games” / “Onedecree”
  23. Manuel & The Music of the Mountains – “The Portugese Washer Women” / “Never on Sunday”

Note: the B-side of the Anthrax single is actually their track “Imitation of Life”. 

I’m mighty proud of that selection.  Not that I had anything to do with it, the choice was random – I just took whatever disc was top of the pile and made my way through.

But what a bunch of scorchers!  One of my favourite Beatles tracks; Cream; Booker T; some classic metal and the Beastie Boys.  It doesn’t get better than that.

Or rather, it won’t.  Most of the rest of the pile of 7″ singles isn’t up to that quality…

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #5

It’s been a while, but time to work through that stack of 7″ singles again.  I had a few beers and listened to the tunes in my collection – good and bad – in order, both sides.

There have been a few stinkers in previous editions.  This week, however, the good outweighed the cheesy for once.  Just about.

Here we go:

  1. Jimmy Barnes & INXS – “Good Times” / “Love is Enough”
  2. Tubeway Army – “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” / “We Are So Fragile?”
  3. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid” / “Snow Blind”
  4. Rod Stewart – “Sailing” / “Stone Cold Sober”
  5. The KLF – “Justified and Ancient: Stand by the Jams” / “Justified and Ancient: The White Room Version”
  6. Bobby Gentry – “Ode to Billy Joe” / “Mississippi Delta”
  7. Sweet – “Fox on the Run” / Miss Demeanor”
  8. Generation X – “Ready Steady Go” / “No No No”
  9. Atomic Rooster – “Devil’s Answer” / “Tomorrow Night”
  10. Blondie – “Call Me” / “Call Me (Instrumental)”
  11. The Incredible Bongo Band – “Bongo Rock” / “Bongolia”
  12. All About Eve – “What Kind of Fool” / “Gold and Silver”
  13. Level 42 – “Something About You” / “Coup D’Etat (Version)”
  14. Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Me and My Shadow” / “At a Perfume Counter” / “Frenesi” / “Mamselle”
  15. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass – “Casino Royale” / “The Wall Street Rag”
  16. ABBA – “Does Your Mother Know” / “Kisses of Fire”
  17. Hank Williams – “Honky Tonkin'”/ “Howlin’ at the Moon” / “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time” / “You’d Better Keep it on Your Mind”
  18. The Rolling Stones – “19th Nervous Breakdown” / “As Tears Go By”

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #4

Yes, it’s that time again – a playlist of 45rpm singles that have provided me with an evenings entertainment.

I have a stack of 7″ records that haven’t been listened and filed away yet.  So I spend a night listening to them, both sides, in order.

As you can imagine, there are some dodgy songs in amongst the good stuff.  And this week, there are some corkers.  However, the rules are: the songs MUST be listened to.  I own them, so I must be responsible!

Here’s the list:

  1. Joe Dolce – “Shaddap You Face” / “Ain’t No Hurry”
  2. Sinitta – “Shame Shame Shame” / “Maybe Someday”
  3. The Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” / “Rainbow Ride”
  4. Rod Stewart – “Angel” / “What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)”
  5. Kate Bush – “Babooshka” / “Ran Tan Waltz”
  6. Tom Jones – “Help Yourself” / “Day by Day” / “Delilah” / “Smile”
  7. Bananarama – “Love in the First Degree” / “Mr Sleaze”
  8. The Timelords – “Doctorin’ the Tardis” / “Doctorin’ the Tardis”
  9. Pig Bag  – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag” / “The Backside”
  10. Blondie – “Union City Blue” / “Living in the Real World”
  11. The Sweet – “Hell Raiser” / “Burning”
  12. The Who – “I’m a Boy” / “In the City”
  13. Depeche Mode – “Enjoy the Silence” / “Memphisto”
  14. Free – “My Brother Jake” / “Only My Soul”
  15. Nazareth – “Love Hurts” / “This Flight Tonight” / “Broken Down Angel” / “Hair of the Dog”
  16. Lalo Schifrin – “Jaws” / “Quiet Village”
  17. Rainbow – “I Surrender” / “Vielleicht Das Nachster Zeit (Maybe Next Time)”

Horrible Histories Playlist

My daughter Eloise had her 8th birthday last weekend.  At the moment, she’s a big fan of the BBC children’s TV series, Horrible Histories, and requested a party based on that theme.

If you’re not familiar with Horrible Histories, let me tell you it’s well worth checking it.  Both funny and informative, the show makes history appeal to kids (and adults) by illuminating some unusual – and sometimes gross – facts from various periods throughout the past.

We’ve all become big fans in our house, actually.  So the party was going to be fun – everyone could dress up as historical characters and entertainment geared to the theme.

Only one thing remained – some music suitable for days gone by.  Not having much music in my collection that was actually from previous ages, I had to dig out some tunes that could fit the bill.  Here’s what I came up with…

  1. Hanna-Barbera – “(Meet) The Flintstones [Main Title]”
  2. The Bangles – “Walk Like an Egyptian”
  3. Mikis Theodorakis – “Zorbas”
  4. Iron Maiden – “Alexander the Great”
  5. ABBA – “Waterloo”
  6. Chuck Berry – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  7. Boney M. – “Rasputin”
  8. Clutch – “Abraham Lincoln”
  9. Trio Guadalajara – “La Bamba”
  10. De Danaan – “The Cameronian Reel/The Doon Reel”
  11. Iron Maiden – “Ghengis Khan”
  12. Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa – “El Jarbe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance)”
  13. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers – “Egyptian Reggae”
  14. Madness – “Night Boat to Cairo” 
  15. Sweet – “Alexander Graham Bell”
  16. Rodrigo Y Gabriela – “Vikingman”
  17. Iron Maiden – “Invaders”
  18. The Kinks – “Victoria”
  19. Boney M. – “Ma Baker”
  20. Sweet – “Wig Wam Bam”
  21. Mikis Theodorakis – “Varka Sto Gialo”
  22. Bananarama – “Venus”
  23. Tom Jones – “Delilah”
  24. The Beatles – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  25. Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”
  26. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – “The Raiders March”
  27. Eric Rogers – “Carry On Cleo”
  28. Eric Rogers – “Carry On Up the Khyber”

Ok, so some of those tracks are less scraping the barrell and more like digging the dust on an archaeological dig, but it did the job.  Basically, without Iron Maiden I’d have been screwed…

Hanky Panky in Chester

Hanky Panky Pancakes, Chester 

Not that type of hanky panky, you bunch of deviants.  I’m talking about a great new pancake emporium in the city of Chester.  It’s a laid back, homely place with literally tons of tasty grub – all featuring pancakes in some form or other.

The Platinum family visited Hanky Panky pancakes recently whilst on a day trip to Chester.  If you know the town centre at all, you’ll know Commonhall Street.  For the uninitiated, it’s tucked away off Upper Bridge Street, but very easy to find.

We popped in for a mid afternoon break, and were happy to find a novel and delicious base for a spot of nourishment.

Basically, at Hanky Panky anything you can think of related to pancakes will be found.  Different types of pancakes, served either savoury or sweet – your choice.

On this visit, it was mid afternoon so I opted for something sweet: the amazing Rocky Road.  This consisted of pancakes adorned with chocolate chips, marshmallows, rocky road ice cream and chocolate sauce.  As an irredeemable choc fiend, this was pure ecstasy!

I enjoyed a Fentimans Cherry Tree cola with my treat, which was very good.

The rest of the family also enjoyed sweet pancake joy, though I can’t remember what they ordered.  Mine was the best, anyway.

Our trip to Hanky Panky was really appreciated by all of us.  We hope to make another trip soon – maybe next time I’ll go earlier and opt for a savoury choice.  The “El Matador” (chorizo and sun dried tomatoes) sounds incredible.

All in all, recommended for a different family treat food-wise in Chester, that you’ll want to visit again.

Hanky Panky Pancakes, 20 Commonhall Street, Chester CH1 2BJ.

01244 319225

The Hanky Panky website is here.

The Great British Choc Off

Which is best – Cadbury Dairy Milk or Galaxy?

Chocoholics rejoice – for one of the greatest chocolate guzzling times of the year is nearly upon us.  For verily, we shall gorge upon the delicious brown confection till we are fit to burst.

But the age old question still stands: what is best, Cadbury or Galaxy chocolate?

I have been plagued by this conundrum for many a long year, until finally deciding to put this to a scientific test.  So I engaged the help of colleagues in a quantifiable research scenario that would answer the problem definitively.

Now in this particular test, to reduce the amount of variables, I dictated that the subjects were to compare only Cadbury Dairy Milk and Galaxy chocolate bars.  None of this Fruit & Nut/Caramel/Cookies and Cream/Ripple deviousness – this was to be a pure Choc Off between the staple brands.

Though to be fair, those variations are damn fine (except for Fruit & Nut, which is an evil mutation).

So I ask again:

Which do you prefer: Cadbury Dairy Milk or Galaxy chocolate? 

Here are the results from my stringently selected test group:

Galaxy was chosen by: Karen, Kirsty, Claire, Hannah, Bridget, Liam, Laura and myself.

Cadbury was chosen by: Joey, Steve, Simon, Pete, Dan, James, Dave, Wayne, Paul, Chris, Helen and Anne-Marie.

So the evidence proves that Cadbury chocolate is the more popular choice over Galaxy., with 12 votes to 8.

Some interesting data is revealed in this test.  For example, those favouring Galaxy were mostly (but not exclusively) female, with the reverse true for Cadbury.  Of course, this could just mean that the more amateur choc fans are largely male, choosing the Cadbury option…

Either way, my investigation revealed that Cadbury was the victor.  I’ll have to conduct further tests.

Disclaimer: although I voted Galaxy, I’d like to point out that I am a fan of Cadbury chocolate too.  It’s a very tough decision to make.  It’s not like I’d turn down Dairy Milk!  Or any chocolate for that matter.  That ain’t gonna happen.

Thanks to my ever reliable colleagues for their opinions in this research.  Next time: what’s the correct pronunciation of “scone”?

All Hail The Twinkie

twinkie

When I first went to the United States of America, I had a mission.  I was 27 years old and had never eaten a Twinkie.  In fact, I’d never even seen one.  Twinkies, though they are a definitive piece of American snacking, were unavailable in the UK.  So on day one of my first US trip, I went to a supermarket and found the Hostess snacks section.  Finally, I was able to experience the wonder of the Twinkie.

You may wonder why this was such a big deal.  Especially if you’re American.

I had been fascinated by this “golden sponge cake” since my childhood days, when I voraciously read every Marvel comic book I could get my hands on.  Between the thrilling tales of Spiderman, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four (amongst others) were numerous adverts for American products that fascinated my young mind.  X-Ray Specs; Sea Monkeys; t-shirts and posters for KISS, Evel Knievel and Farrah Fawcett.  I had no idea what these things were, there was nothing like them in my world.  This pop culture ephemera were tantalising clues to the world I saw on television and in films. P_20140816_141833

Also advertised within the pages of these comic book master pieces were adverts for Hostess snack foods.  There were fruit pies, cup cakes, and of course Twinkies.

These ads featured Marvel superheroes defeating the villains with the aid of snack food items.  A short one page comic strip told how the hero would be able to distract the bad guys with the treats and save the day.  The plots were somewhat random mini stories that shoe horned the products in any way they could.  My mind absorbed it all.  Of course, there were ads in DC comics too, featuring their stable of characters.  You couldn’t escape Hostess snacks anywhere in comic land.

P_20151204_175209

A typical Twinkie comic advert

Add in the fact that these cakes have been featured in films and television as well, and you have a pop culture phenomenon.  Twinkies are featured in Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Zombieland, as well as many others.  One of my favourite examples is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, where the villain – whose touch decays everything – finds the only food he can hold without it crumbling to dust is a Twinkie.  A nice reference to the old comic ads, there – and the urban myth of Twinkies being imperishable!

But what is a Twinkie?  It’s basically a sponge finger cake, with a creamy filling.  As I found out when I first ate one, they’re not that amazing really.  In fact I was a little under whelmed.  Mr Kipling this ain’t.  But then Mr Kipling didn’t stop Galactus from devouring the planet with a Bakewell tart.

Nowadays you can find Twinkies on sale in the UK, and in various forms too. Along with the original variety, I’ve tried banana; and chocolate is available too.  All easily found in your local B&M store, and a lot cheaper than the speciality American sweet shops that sell boxes for £13 (more like £3).

They’re good, but not the most delicious of cakes.  However the Twinkie is without equal in the realms of popular culture.  At least for those, like me, raised on American superhero comics.  Twinkies are still an exotic treat, to be enjoyed with a wry smile and fond memories of those old comics. P_20151122_153035

There are some great examples of Hostess adverts in comic books here.

The Hostess cakes website is here.

More Hostess foods soon!