Enopolis – The Initial Conversation

© Eno, The Green Standard

The year is 2028… Wait, actually; what led to this year, many dozens of months prior, was a period of societal turbulence, related to the policies of those formerly in power. Having taken what was once known as the ‘United Kingdom’ off-piste; their ineptitude in administration, gluttonous mismanagement of the economy and persistent attempts at fostering division gradually turned an apathetic populace against them. Authority withering into disrepair, the ‘Ancien Régime’ stood little chance against the seething mob. Clamouring for new leadership, free from the decadence and limitations of the past, one man heeded the call of the masses. 

Straight away, he got to work, and before long rectified the mischief. The formality of title occurs not with he, whom goes only by the given name and only… the name given. A return to the year of relevance; Vincent is a fellow who, as of late, has been in a coma. Awoken, the society once familiar has long since departed. Numbed with aesthesia and greeted by alienation; he has little grasp on where the tide has swept… with value and purpose each an axis disparate. A figure stands at his side… a doctor, an erstwhile friend, the unassuming harbinger…? Blurred perception receding, an ID tag sighting and a room adorned with ornamental oddities: it looks as though ‘Bill’ is about to say something…

Bill: Ahoy there!  

Vincent: (No response)

Bill: You look well; I suppose you want an explanation?

Vincent: (Looks around cautiously) I don’t even… What…!? The decorum…? That light shining through…? An aged strobe-light…? or just another delusion? (In reference to a colour-shifting light source coming through the window, adjacent to his bed)

Bill: Oh, that’s just another one of those society-scaled generative art installations…

Vincent: Gener…

Bill: I’ll explain, you recall what Brian did for that hospital in Brighton, earlier in the century? Well, now the idyllic luminosity stretches beyond the 4 capacity room, and into the urban cityscape, far grander in scope. Its presence; placating and ever-changing, is here to reassure us Enonians we aren’t blunted ants tarred in the hierarchical pick & mix of before, but relevant entities within a dynamic ecosystem, free from the axe-job of Social Darwinism…!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is educating-brian.png

Vincent: Brian?

Bill: Oh…? (Slight look of pity) Haven’t you a clue? E…N…O? You know from Roxy Music.

Vincent: (Squints eyes) I recall his production work on that Coldplay album…

Bill: (Nods head) Well, he’s moved onto bigger things, leadership namely.

Vincent: Political?

Bill: You bet, a benevolent dictator of sorts… bit of an oxymoron I know, but in this case he’s the Crisp McCoy! 

Vincent: You’re taking the piss aren’t you?

Bill: Not at all, not at all… You remember all that austerity bollocks; the unemployment, the rising cost of living, the proliferation of poverty, rampant corruption, reactionary-on-deck no.1, reactionary-on-deck no.2…? Well, to simplify things… that all got cast into a giant sinkhole, courtesy of our untitled-in-chief… (Proceeds to smile) 

Vincent: (Gasping for air) Ho… how!?

Bill: (laughs) This sachet of wonder! (Proceeds to drop a pack of cards on the bedside table… they read ‘Oblique Strategies’)

Vincent: (Slumps into his bed) Oh boy…

(A mechanical clock, peculiar in design yet musical in chime… chimes, causing momentary silence)

Bill: (While offering a cup of tea, mug tastefully… bespoke) But the inception Vincent, but the inception…

Vincent: (Collects his thoughts, after observing the clock) What about education? I suppose we’re gonna be whizzing around on egg chairs equipped with florescent wheels, while the professor does some eyeliner?

Bill: (Smirks) Good question my friend, allow me to explain; Brian’s experiences at Winchester College of Art in the late 1960’s had a lasting impact on his worldview. Ironing out a new curriculum from the ground-up with his old tutor, Tom Philips, they have completely broken off from the inadequacies of the past… you know that OFSTED-led tripe? Well, SCENIUS now… SCENIUS tomorrow… and while we’re still on the subject (Bangs fist on the bedside table), SCENIUS for long duration!!! (Regains composure, and continues) They also borrowed from the Finnish system: children are now encouraged to be themselves and focus on what actually interests them. No longer are they cajoled into the generational sausage-maker of that ‘honest vocation’ crap, which seemed only effective at producing unwitting salarymen out of what were once… fledgling minds. (Clenches fist in the air) So far it’s been a gigantic success; I can show you some statistics if you’d li…

Vincent: (Interrupting) Another topic please!

Bill: Sure thing (unclenches fist)… Going back to your eyeliner remark, you recall the discourse about transgender people and the issues they faced from certain elements against their integration into the general fold?

Vincent: (Attentive) Go on…

Bill: Well, owing to Brian’s gender-bending antics in the 70’s, it indirectly afforded him a few qualifications in understanding the plight of the LGBTQ community… plus, his experiences as an ageing man with a lack of hair has…

Vincent: …created a mutual understanding between both gammon and… gammon-not?

Bill: Couldn’t have put it better myself Vince!        

Vincent: (Whispers to himself) He really is the Third Uncle…

Bill: (Inquisitive) What’s that?

Vincent: (Slightly perturbed) Nothing, do continue…

Bill: Hmmm… (Scratches chin) Where next might we traverse…?

(15 seconds elapse)

Vincent: (Breaks the impasse) What of foreign policy? Has the international climate changed that much?

Bill: (Nods with satisfaction) Aha! Brian’s stance against human rights abuses, notably with regard to the Israeli Occupied Territories, has prompted him to break off and embargo all who violate the rights of their own citizens. Other countries followed suit and within months the Likud’s grip on power collapsed.

Vincent: So?

Bill: Odd coincidences aside… an appropriate settlement is now being negotiated, after nearly 80 years, peace is at hand! 

Vincent: Whoa… (Hint of suspicion) As great as this all seems… there has to be a cost to all this…? (Thinking cap attached) Surely anyone with that kind of authority would succumb to… what was the word… ah, megalomania…? As certain “case studies” have indicated?

Bill: (Passively acknowledges) Ah the Cult of Personality thing…? Well to be honest, the only aspects I can think of are… the construction projects he favours, as you have already seen, (whispers) slightly… Yet, the employment opportunities generated from this construction boom and the benefits subsequent… have played a big part in the economy’s defibrillation! In turn, the supply & demand situation buoyed, stabilising the prices of commercial goods and public necessities… which, unbeknownst to you, plagued the preceding ‘system’… To take an objective viewpoint (doesn’t take an objective viewpoint), even if society continues to be moulded in Brian’s image, who cares? Taste will always triumph over practicality! (Looks up at the ceiling momentarily)

Vincent: (Visibly perplexed) …Over practicality? I don’t recall any proponents of that idea? Maybe IT IS time I see those statistics…? 

Bill: (Looks back at his friend) Yeah… gains and losses or something (waves left hand dismissively)… Anyway, to wrap up this subject, don’t expect to see any gaudy statues or 50ft by 70ft posters portraying Brian as yet another striped-sash strongman, for he is not… Although, I hope you don’t mind hearing more of his ever-expanding discography? Take for instance my earlier train journey; they played the entirety of No Pussyfooting through the speakers, surround sound…!

Vincent: (He flinches… followed by faux-enthusiasm) Oh goody, should I expect to hear ‘After The Heat’ while I’m out shopping for garden ornaments? Or maybe his co-credits on David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, as I skip about on a narrow-boat I’ve just stolen!?

Bill: (Appears unsure) That’s entirely possible, although predictability has never been a word I would dare associate with a man… such as Brian…

Vincent: (Ponders what next to discuss) Slogan…eering… That Scenius thing you were oddly raving about earlier, that’s taken central fiddle?

Bill: Just a bit… Communities are once again being subsidised… and the aspirants of that god awful Neoliberalism ‘experiment’ are being rightly penalised for their former exploitation. Remember Richard Branson? Well, the bearded prick’s assets have been expropriated; take Necker Island for instance, its only purpose now is to house in-transit refugees fleeing from what was once the United States. Even Brian’s old chum, Bono, whom thought he could get off easy owing to their past working relationship, has been made to pay his fair share in tax… for wise-man Brian makes no distinction, friend or stranger. 

Vincent: America’s no more?

Bill: Balkanised, some parts are better off than others…

Vincent: Huh, well… (Sense of satisfaction) Sayonara, Uncle Sam! (Laughs)

Bill: Seems there wasn’t a particular care for that… Laissez-faire! (Joins in on the laughter)

(Laughter ceases after 30 seconds)

Vincent: So… would it be correct to assume Branson and Bono are toiling in a cobalt mine somewhere…? Perhaps shackled together by-foot, as they pickaxe the earth to help fuel the Eno-Bahn or whatever next is on the construction roster?

Bill: Not quite, reprisals and score-settling of that nature would conflict with the tenants and teachings of Brian…

Vincent: (Tilts head) And what might that be? Thou shan’t slapeth thy head? 

(The clock chimes yet again, its Geneva wheels gyrating as ever)

Bill: (Turns to look out of the window) Musings like altruism and egalitarianism were just the ‘speak of the turtleneck folk’ some decades prior, but now, via the Big Here Initiative, they are inveterate to our society, by order of the Eno! (Looks around nervously, before resuming his previous position)

© Eno, obvs

Vincent: (Detached) Swell… I presume Stoicism has been deemed obsolete, owing to the damaging effects it can have on one’s mental health?

Bill: (Turns away from the window, visibly humoured) Been consulting EBSCO while on the drip, eh Vince?  

Vincent: (Inverted smile) But a measured hypothesis, Bill…

Bill: (Visibly impressed) You know, scholarly types are in much demand nowadays… getting your foot in the cupboard would be an easy triumph, I’m sure…        

Vincent: That’s a new one (Snorts)… Actually, what about law and order? How could that old hippie understand such a concept? 

Bill: Well, rather than brutalising his subjects with batons and tear gas, Brian has made rehabilitation and fairness the norm. His vocal criticism of the former United States’ prison system, ya know; lobbyists bending legislation, inmates as penal labour and… the general shoddiness of the whole thing have compelled him away from coat-tailing the stars-and-stripes, as was the norm prior…

Vincent: (Briefly does jazz hands) Most riveting… err, how’s the field of invention looking… any quantum leaps there, during my comatose absence? Permanent hair restoration…? Speech recognition software for pigeons?

Bill: Ah, the technological angle… Well, Eno’s… (Pauses, then clears throat) Forgive me, Brian’s retrospection on the Manhattan Project, you know, what birthed nuclear weapons… Was summed up by him as brilliant in what could be achieved by humanity’s collective efforts, albeit for entirely the wrong reason! Being the egghead he is, Brian has put the entire scientific potential of our nation to work, away from the capital-drainage of that research & development shit, which he always much despised. Investments are now being directed towards things relevant to progress… cures for diseases still ravishing the modern world for instance. How do you think you recovered?    

Vincent: Huh? (Walks over to the mirror and examines where his wounds once were… not a trace)

Bill: (Winks with a thumbs up) 

Vincent: (Pleasantly surprised) I’d buy that for a Brian…

Bill: (Agreeable) You certainly would… (Briefly glances at the clock) Right then, you’ve probably heard enough talk of our bald-headed saviour, go and get yourself ready and we’ll hop on the ENO // RAIL… it makes those old bullet trains look like foil-wrapped rolling pins!

Vincent: (Unsurprised) Nice… how did our Brian manage that?

Bill: (Playfully points at his friend) I believe… (pointing ceases) it had something to do with… an oversized living room, a few soldering irons… and quite possibly a set or ten of those Hornby Railway carriages, not to scale of course (half smiles).

(Abrupt freeze-frame on the Clock)

© Eno and the gang…

If You Want A Boxer: Music Videos, Boxing Rings, And Me

©  Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal

By Nathan Bailey

When was the last time you watched a music video? And I don’t mean rolling your eyes across a few shots on your way down to the murky depths of an instagram doom-scroll or willfully ignoring those background spotify vignettes,  I mean properly sitting down and watching one, on your telly and everything. Before expensively produced and choreographed music videos were the domain of internet breaking american megastars alone, every great song needed a great video to go with it. Recently, I was having a drunken reminisce with a friend about the lost days of that golden era. Those sunday afternoons round your mate’s who had sky telly, flicking through the likes of MTV, VH1, and if mother had been particularly pernicious about you not doing your homework that week, a bit of Kerrang and Scuzz. During this nostalgia trip, we came to a startling conclusion. “Hang on a minute”, my friend exclaimed. “Isn’t it weird how like, basically all music videos had boxing in them?”. I searched my feelings and I knew this to be true. We were onto something. I rushed over towards my laptop, eager to connect these dots and reveal a grave secret to the world. This must’ve been what it felt like when they cracked the enigma codes during the war. 

Unfortunately, after an extensive fifteen minutes of research we found that actually quite a lot of old music videos had very little to do with boxing, some not at all. This may be from a position of hindsight, but it appears that the music video directors of ten or fifteen years ago were attempting complex satires of western culture’s infatuation with the oversexualisation of young women. Whatever great artistic visions led to the sweeping use of under-dressed female extras in earlier eras, the answers have unfortunately been lost to the annals of history. One thing we did find out for definite, one thing they can never take away from us. That thing is that some music videos definitely are about boxing. Quite a fair few indeed. What are they like you ask? Have no fear. In the words of our late Field Commander Cohen, let me step into the ring for you, as we go on a voyage through some of the most about boxingest videos of all time.

Dappy – No Regrets

This video captures so perfectly the over produced, over Americanized, totally catered to being on MTV aesthetics that I pictured in my head when looking back at the boxing music video canon. The actual plot per se seems to have very little to do with Dappy, looking more like a narrative straight out of grand theft auto – cue angry young men, lowriders, and LA skylines. One boy chooses not the path of street violence, but instead the path of reasonably socially acceptable pay-per-view violence. In this he becomes a man. That man then boxes his way out of the doldrums and presumably into a cultural and socio economic elite that us mere mortals can only dream of. This is a boy-done-good. A hero’s tale. A new bildungsroman for whatever generation we were in 2011. This is the American Dream. Come to think of it, this has everything to do with Dappy. Clearly, this film is an autobiographical metaphor for a young british rapper trying to conquer the big one and forge a lucrative stateside solo career post N-Dubz. As no one has seen or heard from Dappy in years, I can only assume he was successful, and this very minute is on the top of some Californian highrise, gun-fingers proudly aloft.

In terms of lyrical content, the boxing connection is vague, and other than Dappy “painting a picture of a fighter” and having “the heart of a winner”, any ringside colloquialism is pretty much non-existent. Not too get sidetracked but he does also claim, and I quote – “I am Kurt Cobain”, so double points for that. Also name-dropped by Dappy are Chris Brown, Michael Caine, Frank Gallagher off of Shameless, Marty Mcfly, and Richard Branson. Which is weirdly like that dream you once had isn’t it? Don’t say you can’t remember it. I think we shall leave this one with the words of youtube commenter Victoria Carolyne – ‘Respect to Dappy for using his talent to make this masterpiece’. Victoria, I agree.

LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Dappy is not the first rapper to seek some equivalence with the world of prize fighting. Particularly in american hip-hop, the relationship to boxing is a long and fruitful one. So where to start? In a moment of doubt we have turned and not for the first time, to LL Cool J. three simple reasons. firstly, It’s a fairly old tune. Secondly,  It. bangs. And lastly, there’s rather a lot of boxing credence here. The machismo coloured, adversarial nature of even the first line ( Cool J daring you not to ‘call it a comeback’) befits the ring setting. We remain in the ring with Cool for the whole thing, taking a poetic pummeling as he spills synonyms and sibilance over the mat like bits of blood and bottom lip. Thankfully, after nearly five minutes someone throws in the towel for you. You would think so too, in this time LL does inform you he’s gonna knock you out a cool (HA!) 32 times. 

However this isn’t just one man boasting about his prowess for violence. Obviously Cool J’s thirst for blood speaks for itself. Don’t know if you remember but this is the fella that in Deep Blue Sea (1999) kills a genetically engineered super-shark. with just a crucifix. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is the relationship between boxing and hip hop is persistent. Possibly no figure exemplifies this better than the man Cool just so happens to namedrop here himself – a certain Muhammad Ali. The influence that makes him such a resonant figure in this neck of the woods is not just his status as an inspirational civil rights leader and icon for black America. This is the man they called the Louisville Lip after all, a wit, a wordsmith, and a self declared poet in his. Practically inventing the art of trash talk, Ali often outthought and outfought his opponents in a war of words before a bell had rung. Another great example of Ali’s shadow ranging across the music world is on The Fugees track Rumble In The Jungle, also featuring A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes. It is well worth a listen (and it’s boxing heavy video is naturally, well worth a watch).

In some ways the boxing/hip-hop relationship came full circle in the early noughties, with well known boomer rapper Eminem’s feature film 8 Mile. the plot was a standard of the sports film genre, but with… battle-rappers?! From the films soundtrack we got the chart topping single Lose Yourself, a song that has blared over a thousand fight night walkouts, and (pub quiz time) won a chuffing oscar. 

Tears For Fears – Woman in Chains

Not a great deal of boxing action in this one to be honest but it is the most eighties song ever. No really, Phil Collins is on the drums. Phil Monkey Choccy Advert Collins. It has to be on here. The video lives up to the song, in being very VERY eighties. The Black and white montage of this archetypal prom king and queen couple drifts seamlessly into the wine bar bass lines, until they become one. Initially, the moody shots of this relationship looks to be a beautiful and  subtle message on the fetishization and commodification of the aesthetics of both male and female bodies in different forms. Our queen is a stripper, our king, an athlete. However the relationship takes a darker turn. There is more than a tinge of domestic violence to the scenes, and a heavy dose of some fairly toxic masculinity – boxer pushes girlfriend, cries, runs off and twats a fence. The couple’s reconciliation at the end of the video troubles the viewer, leaving us in morally a more grey place than the song itself, which was hailed as a feminist anthem in it’s day. Again, I’m taking that as a conscious artistic decision on the part of the director. Perhaps this was not the intention but I would still want to give the makers of this video the benefit of the doubt , as if there is a worse medium for social commentary than an eighties power ballad, then it could only be the music video for an eighties power ballad. 

Lastly, if you’re thinking this is too loose of a connection to be considered amongst the pantheon of great boxing music videos, then look at our male lead having his Of Mice and Men moment with the pigeon in the final scenes and tell me you don’t immediately think of those strange pictures of Iron Mike Tyson admiring his pet doves.

Maroon 5  – One More Night

No, not just because he’s got a bit of a punchable look about him. This video has more of a narrative structure than the older videos. Although a lot of it is Adam ‘Maroon 1’ Levine stalking around in a white vest looking like the worst casting choice imaginable for a Raging Bull reboot. Maybe I’m thinking too much into this but the cinematography gives a half nod to the Scorsese classic. we couldn’t get quite all the way to the golden age of Hollywood style mythical black and white of the film, but we do get a kind of sad, cigarette packet photo grey. We must give this video credit, it’s very much about boxing. He trains, he runs, he holds a small child. After all that he not only fights but bloody wins a boxing match. I think also his girlfriend leaves him for some reason. Poor adam.

On second thoughts, not poor Adam. He was an arse to Keria Knightley in Begin Again. How could you be in a film with James Corden and still come out as the biggest wazzock. Plus the actual song sounds like that copyright free music that people use for youtube tutorials on how to change bike tyres. I’m glad your boxing wife left you.

Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal

I believe it was Albert Camus who once said that a true masterpiece does not reveal everything. Let’s start by looking at what this masterpiece does reveal to us. That’s right, a big, grey, bouncy, boxing ring. I know it may look like perhaps the bass player has a penchant for world wrestling entertainment, but that is a boxing ring and there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. Other than that this video leaves us only questions. What’s with the japanese kids? How did they do that lean? I get the body popping kid with a mask on is an MJ nose job reference but bloody hell! Watching in 2021 it’s a bit nostradamus isn’t it? And just what on this good earth is going on with the singer’s hair? If you want answers to any of these questions then you have come to the wrong place. All I can tell you is that it’s got a boxing ring in it, and this makes it the best boxing music video of all time. This is the crest of the great wave. Nothing can beat this. Every single one of you will get to the bit where the tune stops and he vaults onto that car thinking the exact same thing –  they don’t make ‘em like this anymore do they. Another big question, why don’t they make them like this anymore? And those big questions my friends, aren’t they what Nu-Metal was all about? This one at least, we know the answer to (that answer is yes).

The Birth of Taste: The Albums of My Childhood

Hannah’s parents back in t’day. Such a gorgeous picture!!! – Editor

By Hannah Ogden

Like most other girls my age, as a pre-teen I had a particular affection for Simon Cowell golden boys One Direction, and whilst they still hold a special place in my heart and their lyrics seared into my brain forever, times change. But as I twirled around my poster-clad room to ‘Gotta Be You’, downstairs my parents were re-living their early 20’s vicariously through their seemingly endless boxes of CDs. Many an evening would me and my sister spend manically dancing around our living room in our vests and pants to Dad’s own mix of rave anthems (or ‘bong dong’ music, as was penned on the CD). Without realising it, my own future excellent music taste was being moulded by a combination of relentless nostalgia and genuinely good music. I will be forever grateful to my mum and Dad and their persistence to show me that music is more than five floppy haired heartthrobs (apart from Harry Styles, the very essence of good taste). The following is a carefully curated list of 10 albums- in no particular order- I believe have done the most towards shaping me into the woman I am today. 

The Bends (album) - Wikipedia

  1. Radiohead- The Bends

What better place to begin discussing albums of my childhood than with an album which I see as the fifth member of the Ogden family. My bleach blonde alcoholic older brother, The Bends. Over the years, Radiohead would become a collective obsession of my entire family, specifically my mum who discovered a Facebook group of likeminded middle-aged alternatives and became something of an obsessive. By no means do I believe this to be Radiohead’s best album. For me, their best work comes in the form of In Rainbows, but I am merely here to reminisce rather than to criticise so before I Anthony Fantano myself and start a riot with the Radiohead purists, I will press on. I can’t remember the first time I heard this album, because it’s always just felt like it was part of me. It was always on in the house, in the car, in the garage, coming from Mum’s iPad, by now it’s part of the Ogden DNA. I remember Mum telling me once that ‘High and Dry’ always reminds her of Dad, specifically the lyrics ‘Flying on your motorcycle, watching all the ground beneath you drop’ simply because of his love of motorbikes. Associations don’t have to be that deep do they. 

Demon Days - Wikipedia

  1. Gorillaz- Demon Days

Another big one for my family. I didn’t like Gorillaz at first. I thought they were weird and that my dad overplayed them. I didn’t like the idea of an animated band, I wanted eye candy. But as I grew older, found my own way sonically and figured out that, yes that is the nation’s favourite Damon Albarn supplying the vocals for empty eyed cartoon 2D, I grew to really appreciate them. I don’t claim to know the most about Gorillaz, as it was always my dad and my sister who were the fans of the family, but this album is certainly my favourite of their discography, and easily their most iconic. As with Radiohead, this is a band that I genuinely enjoy in my own time, not just because of my family. This album has all the big uns, ‘Feel Good Inc.’, ‘DARE’ and ‘Dirty Harry’? A veritable feast of tunes. So far so good Mum and Dad.

  1. The Prodigy- The Fat of the Land

Enter the chaos of my dad’s musical past. As a youngster, my dad was, for lack of better words, a little shit. Being chased by the police, setting fire to your hands and knocking out your front teeth was all a day in the life for a young Ashleigh Ogden. No better album soundtracks how I envision my Father’s raucous teenage years than this. Admittedly, The Prodigy’s 2009 ‘Invaders Must Die’ was a more frequent fixture in my household but in my opinion, this is infinitely better. This album encapsulates what people associate with The Prodigy; a cacophonous combination of classic punk, 90s rave and Keith Flint, god rest his soul. As with Gorillaz, I really wasn’t keen on The Prodigy, but I’ve always secretly enjoyed ‘Breathe’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and ‘Firestarter’, the latter being a very appropriate song for my dad, a self-professed casual pyromaniac.

  1. Trainspotting (Soundtrack)

Unlike the other albums on this list, it wasn’t so much the music that drew me in, that came later; because ever since I can remember, I’ve developed extremely intense, albeit fleeting, fixations with weirdly specific things. Currently it’s 1996 Brian Molko. Before that it was regency undergarments. But one of the very first was the cover of my parents’ Trainspotting soundtrack CD. When I was alone, I would pull it out from the stack of CDs and literally just look at it. I think what drew me in was the fact that I wasn’t allowed. Trainspotting was an absolute no go for baby me (for the obvious reasons) so naturally, I wanted to know more. It was only when I turned 16 and anticipating the release of Trainspotting 2 that curiosity got the better of me and I finally saw what is now one of my favourite films. Like any teenager who watches Trainspotting, both the film and its soundtrack instantly became the basis on which I formed my personality for the next year (excluding the use of hard drugs).

How Dare You! (album) - Wikipedia

  1. 10cc- How Dare You!

This offering comes from my maternal side- a part of my family with a vibrant musical history, beginning with my Grandad Mike. In the 60s, together with three of his mates, he formed Purple Haze (no prize for guessing inspiration) which would later become Beggars Farm (again, no prizes) and eventually, The Alligators, whom he was still gigging with until about two years ago. His musical gifts to my mum manifest themselves mostly in narrative song writing, more specifically the penning’s of Paul McCartney (‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘She’s Leaving Home’) and tongue-in-cheek art rockers 10cc’s ‘I’m Mandy, Fly Me’; a tall tale about fictional flight stewardess Mandy and a dramatic plane crash where she becomes the saviour of the song’s subject before mysteriously vanishing. Very prog I know. I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of progressive rock, I don’t even think Mum is either, but we both have this association with 10cc that cross boundaries of genre. 

Protection (Massive Attack album) - Wikipedia

  1. Massive Attack- Protection

When I was growing up, there were always four or five albums that I remember always being played on long car journeys; Justified by Justin Timberlake, Supernature by Goldfrapp, Plastic Beach by Gorillaz and Massive Attack’s 1994 Protection. Massive Attack is a major player in my musical upbringing. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the songs on this album, but after years of melodic brainwashing, it’s difficult not to catch me humming along. As you’ll come to see, both my parents have an affinity for trip hop and now I do too. It is one of the more top tier genres, both technically and audibly. With its laid-back approach to dance beats, combined with emotive lyricism and the occasional addition of sweeping strings, trip hop is exactly what I want from music sometimes.

Hot Fuss - Wikipedia

  1. The Killers- Hot Fuss

Compared to my other album choices, this isn’t one that was a frequent member of the ‘heard it all the time’ list. This exclusively appeared at family BBQs, and that’s all I remember it for. Many who hear this album and its singles are immediately transported to a sticky nightclub packed to the rafters with Liam Frey wannabes quaffing Red Stripe by the litre, but not me. I’m reminded of hot summer evenings, ‘Glamourous Indie Rock & Roll’ flowing through open windows and filling our back garden whilst Dad grills up another ‘kiddie burger’ for me and my sister, birds tweeting in the trees and Mum in her summer dress sorting the side dishes in the kitchen. And for the record, I fucking loathe ‘Mr Brightside’.

Ska Is The Limit: Amazon.co.uk: Music

  1. Various- Ska Is the Limit

If there’s one thing my parents love, it’s a compilation album. There was a hell of a lot of them around the house when I was growing up. We had 1 by The Beatles, The Best of Radiohead and of course, when I was given The Sound of the Smiths a few Christmases ago, that went straight in the car. Say what you want about compilation albums, I don’t mind them. They work well for people like my parents who wanted a range of music before the era of playlists. While I was writing this, I had a listen back to the album and I cannot remember any of the songs that aren’t by either The Specials, The Selecter or Fun Boy Three. Dad clearly had his favourites; I don’t know why he didn’t just buy their album.

Mezzanine (album) - Wikipedia

  1. Massive Attack- Mezzanine

I’ve saved the final two spots on this list for two very special albums, both in my heart and the hearts of my parents. Massive Attack have already made an appearance on this list, but I wasn’t about to skip past this absolute tour de force of an album. Massive Attack take everything they have learnt from Blue Lines and Protection and fuse it with a dark and sensual energy to create a sound that endures. If Mezzanine were a woman, she’d be the one at the party dressed in black and stood in the corner by herself because everyone else is too intimidated to speak to her. She’d be the spot-lit femme fatale smoking a cigarette in a 40s noir flick. Despite being yet another album played on repeat by my parents, even to this day, none of us are sick of it. Mum and Dad even went to see them live on the 20th anniversary of Mezzanine. I will be eternally jealous.

Portishead: Dummy Album Review | Pitchfork

  1. Portishead- Dummy

We find ourselves at number 10 of this eclectic assortment, and what a ride it’s been. Thank you for sticking with me. Wrapping up my list is fellow trip hop pioneers Portishead and their debut album Dummy, Mezzanine’s blonde and equally sexy cousin. Another car journey favourite of my family and easily one of my favourite albums of all time. As with Mezzanine, my parents are still as in love with Dummy as they ever were, because that sound is so timeless. The combined element of nostalgia with futuristic effects, particularly in songs like ‘Strangers’ and ‘Numb’, is what keeps Portishead in the mind of the listener. It combines my parent’s taste in music perfectly. For my dad, it offers succulent basslines and an occasional nod to classic breakbeats, whilst also remaining chilled out enough for driving to work, and for my mum it rewards the eery-sweet vocals of Beth Gibbons, akin to PJ Harvey and frequent Massive Attack collaborator Tracy Thorn. With all these elements rolled into 49 minutes of auditory pleasure, its easy to see how it’s stood the test of time with my family.

All album covers used in this article were sourced from Wikipedia.

ALBUM REVIEW: Cave’s Confusing ‘Carnage’ Is, Well… Carnage

© Rolling Stone

By Neve Robinson

I love Nick Cave. No, I mean it. I love Nick Cave. That should be abundantly clear to anyone who knows me by now, the amount that I go on about the baritone beast of Bad Seeds fame. Some of his songs are the most special songs in the world to me. In my teenage years, I’d spend hours curled up on my box-room bed blasting The Boatman’s Call, lamenting with the Goth God that people just, truly, Ain’t No Good. I love his writing – see The Sickbag Song, in which his words weave webs of sheer narrative bliss. I love his ambitious collaborations, such as that of fellow Australian crooner Kyle Minogue Where The Wild Roses Grow, with its John Everett Millais music video aesthetic and strange synergy between the two most unique of talents. I think I love most of all his personality, or rather what I gather from it from his appearances in interviews and films like the 2007 epic western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and, of course, Oscar-robbed oligarch of animated excellence Shrek 2. Let’s excuse his recent comments in regards to a certain (rightly) shunned Smiths vocalist, and chalk it down to Cave’s age, just this once please. Because Cave oozes a distinct humility that is especially likeable due to the sheer amount of his creative successes. I have to admit, if that were me, I would be absolutely lauding my talent over everybody. No way I would be hiding my light under bushel. That light would be shining like a lighthouse, baby. So that’s why it is particularly disappointing for me to have to impart some honesty in regards to Mr Cave here, when I tell you that his recent February release, Carnage in collaboration with Warren Ellis, let me down somewhat. I did like it. But I didn’t love it, and I so wanted to. While I don’t deny the genius and usual comedic flair that Cave injects into all of his projects that this one is no exception to, I do question whether this is really just an album of Ghosteen rejects. Most of all, I question what direction is best next for Nick Cave.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely still doted on this record. His mesmerising quality has not been totally lost, worry not. Some tracks did remind me of the theatrical twists and turns of 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, which I liked greatly. White Elephant for me was, definitely, the standout track from the record. Firstly, for it’s lyrics –“I am a Botticelli Venus with a penis riding an enormous scalloped fan” isn’t really the sort of lyric that you forget in any hurry. The threat of “shooting me in the f*ckin’ face if [I] come around here” is quite the deterrent from Cave and his Elephant-tear ammo-filled gun, let me tell you. Secondly, in terms of its technical composition, which is where Ellis’ collaboration choice truly shines – he’s a jack of all trades. He is a master of all instruments, and many wind instruments that I’m not actually sure of are at play in this record. It’s very typically Grinderman, which from Ellis, we can of course expect. But most strikingly his skills sparkle when you consider how many of the tracks sound akin to film scores, with the use of strings. Ellis is known for his scores to Mustang and War Machine. With softer songs like Lavender Fields and the achingly beautiful Albuquerque, which made me want to wail for all of the things that I haven’t yet shed tears over, the piano and strings truly evoke the tragic ending of a black-and-white film that I’ve just made up in my head during the 3:57 minutes I was lucky to be listening to it. Carnage is chaotic, but gorgeously so. It’s surreal. It’s senseless. It’s…like everything Cave does. Special, like I mentioned earlier. Cave feels like your closest friend in the world when you listen to him sing. Not many artists can do that, really. Not many artists are anywhere near in the same league as Nick Cave, really.

But this does not mean that it remains completely unscathed by criticism. Despite there only being eight tracks present on the EP, some certainly felt a bit…rushed. Hand of God, supposedly the lead from the record, is probably my least favourite of it. I found it a bit dreary, and in truth, almost as though Cave was parodying himself. It was far too familiar to so much of his previous back catalogue. It also lacked originality in some senses in that it all seemed very Eno-esque. I was reminded even of some of Eno’s ambient works as I listened to this record, the reflective tracks heavy in piano and less reliant on vocals driving the songs forward. It just didn’t really have that spark that Ghosteen certainly possessed.

I just worry really, that as the years go on, all Cave seems to offer us is content – and perhaps an oversaturation of it at that. Cave consistently churns out record after record. On the one hand, this is testament to his incredible creativity that he seemingly struggles to rein in at times. It seems to burst from the very seams of his brains and shoot right out of every one of his senses. On the other hand, the argument of quality over content could certainly be applied here, as a few of his records I have listened to have felt like excuses to ram records out rather than to actually carefully craft meaningful music. Across his work with The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, his solo stuff and his soundtracks, Cave has released 30+ records. More than half, particularly in more recent years, have been a bit ‘meh’. It pains me to say it, as I idolise the man, but I can’t help but wish that he would perhaps go in a different direction with his next work. It’s all well and good collaborating for a fresh sound, but that can’t be achieved when it’s being done with somebody you have worked with for literal years – a former bandmate like Ellis. I want Cave to flex his creative prowess and think a bit more out of the box. He is the best when he is at his most random. If you hear of a collaboration or project that Cave is planning and think, hmm, that’ll be a bit weird, won’t it? then you can guarantee that that will be his next magnum opus.

So. In short? The record was chaotic. It meant a lot, while all at once not really meaning anything. It was a mish-mash of ideas and genres, some of which paid off, whilst others needed a bit more close careful attention and preening to. Here’s hoping that Cave’s next album gives us something a little bit different. Maybe a musical makeover is required for our favourite Aussie. Regardless, Cave still remains one of my favourite humans, and the undeniable King of Black Suit Jackets. I just wish he’d do another Kylie collab. Can’t Get Red Right Hand Out Of My Head, anyone?

© Happy Mag

Listen to Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ new album, Carnage, below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

My Case In Defense Of Wings

By God, did Mr McCartney love his wife…

©1973, back sleeve of Band on the Run

By Neve Robinson

“Wings – they’re only the band the Beatles could have been!” Ah, the immortal words of Alan Partridge. And how true these words spoken were, by the most righteous of prophets. All joking aside, there is a clear mission statement for this hastily 3AM penned article, and it is this – dear reader, by the end of it, I want you to be as convinced as I am of Wings’ musical genius. Paul and Linda McCartney’s post-Beatle brainchild has apparently long been considered, well, a bit…uncool to like. I remember a long time ago now – four score and seven years ago, to quote a certain Mr Lincoln (not as a trustworthy source as Partridge, I’m aware) when I was seeing a gentleman in a markedly romantic fashion. We had a fiery, vicious debate that genuinely ended in what I can only describe from my end as unbridled rage. And why, you ask? Because the fella in question had the gall to remark these terrible words: “Paul McCartney is a wet-wipe.” I took personal offence to this statement. To disregard some of the most romantic, catchy hooks and loving lyrics of Mr McCartney and his winged vehicle is to disregard some serious, serious tuneage. I can understand Temporary Secretary hate (and, come to think of it, a fair chunk of McCartney II disdain also). But you cross the line with Wings. There’s a myriad of reasons why I will defend Wings to the death. Here’s a few, splayed out in a lovely parade of paragraphs for you. By the end of this, if you’re not convinced of Wings’ genius, well. I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll have to banish you to the same dungeon of oblivion that said gentleman was banished to.

Wet-wipe. Wet. Wipe. Hmm. Hmm. Let’s analyse that assertion, shall we? I suppose on face value, wet-wipe just sort of means a bit soft and sensitive, but in a cringey sense. But in reality – what is cringey about being open emotionally with your lyrics, and singing about something other than the rock-n-roll cliche norm of smashing drugs and fornicating en-masse with stunning seventies maidens? Surely there’s something markedly sweet and refreshing about hearing a man sing just about how much he loves his wife, really? After all, it’s worked for Robert Smith thus far, hasn’t it. In 1976’s Silly Love Songs, Paul muses,”Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs / and what’s wrong with that / I’d like to know?” And here, Paul demonstrates my point exactly. Paul is mocking what critics and John Lennon himself had long dismissed him as – just a songwriter who wrote solely “sentimental slush”. Check out what Paul said to Billboard of this song back in ’76:

“But over the years people have said, ‘Aw, he sings love songs, he writes love songs, he’s so soppy at times.’ I thought, Well, I know what they mean, but, people have been doing love songs forever. I like ’em, other people like ’em, and there’s a lot of people I love — I’m lucky enough to have that in my life. So the idea was that “you” may call them silly, but what’s wrong with that?

The song was, in a way, to answer people who just accuse me of being soppy. The nice payoff now is that a lot of the people I meet who are at the age where they’ve just got a couple of kids and have grown up a bit, settling down, they’ll say to me, ‘I thought you were really soppy for years, but I get it now! I see what you were doing!'”

And well…he’s right. What is wrong with ‘silly’ love songs? What is wrong with being so full to the seams of love that you can’t help but let it spill out through your vocal chords now and then? If being a romantic qualifies one to be a wet-wipe then I suppose Shakespeare was a wet-wipe? And the Brontes must have been bonafide wetties by that definition. Don’t even get me started on penguins, man. They have the same bird (no pun intended!) forever, and mate together for life. Cringe, right?! I think one really just really needs to reevaluate their cynicism towards the easy-listening group by assessing whether this ties into their opinion of love as a whole. The newly-dumpeds, the scorned and spurneds, the perpetually single of us. We may indeed be tempted to sh*t all over a band that celebrate and unabashedly love love. But even as someone who at this point is certainly disillusioned by the notion of romance, I can recognise the beauty of it flourishing in others. I acknowledge the happiness that it and sentiments of it inspire in others, especially through a variety of art-forms. Why wouldn’t I want other people to be joyful? I think not liking Wings is a you problem, frankly.

Where does this ingrained dislike of Macca come from, particularly from Beatles fans?! Well, I have a hypothesis of sorts. I really do feel that, especially post-Beatlemania, there’s a strange hyper-masculinity that has developed to idolising John Lennon in favour of shunning the more sensitive, softer songs by Paul McCartney. This isn’t a criticism of the song-writing of Lennon by any means. He was, though questionable of character, an exemplary songwriter and cool cat. However, it seems to me that the Dark Fruits-brandishing, football and Oasis-admiring, Abbey Road-worshipping side of Beatles fans seem to build themselves on Lennon in a way. Certainly, he isn’t ‘cringe’ by any means, and is arguably the ‘cooler’ character – whatever cool is. But it worries me how ingrained in misogyny a lot of his songs and his personal behaviour (in regards to both Cynthia Lennon and Yoko Ono) were. It worries me that this subtle degradation of women is something that resonates with younger male fans and has since the sixties. On Beatles records particularly there’s a stark difference in the songs that he vocalises on and McCartney’s songs – even in terms of his love songs. For example, compare a batch of McCartney vocal heavy songs: Blackbird, Hide Your Love Away, Michelle. Compare these to the experimental, brash, semi-obnoxious (but nonetheless tunes) of Lennon: Getting Better, Come Together, Yer Blues. The harshness in his voice is palpable in comparison to the gentle warble of Paul. Lennon’s lyrics – particularly in his solo foray – glorify predominantly the abuse and use of women sexually, heavy drug use and criticism of war and violence (despite having no issue inflicting this onto his own wives domestically, but I digress). As I say, this hero-worshipping of Lennon worries me in relation to its effect on his younger, impressionable listeners. Since when did being loving, sweet and respectful of women become ‘uncool’ and ‘undesirable’? So what if Lennon never would have done deeply cringe eighties ventures like McCartney’s duet with Stevie Wonder (linked below…dear God, need I say more.) I’d argue the lyrics and persona of McCartney and Wings as a whole is far more of moral depth, quality and general goodness than any project of narcissism Lennon ever churned out.

Okay, I realise that’s quite a harsh condemnation of Lennon. I do enjoy his music, honestly. I just do not enjoy the Wings slander, and I’ll argue for their case in any way possible – especially if that means critiquing the bizarre masculine paladin-ism of one John Lennon. I sincerely dislike the notion that music has to be deemed ‘cool’ to be likeable. I know plenty of cool people who like Wings, thank you – my housemates Mae and Josh are fellow ardent fans of the Band on the Run, as is my friend Mof (undeniably one of the grooviest gents I’ve ever known), who likes them a lot. Well, a real lot. Check his tattoo out, by Kurt Mitchell. Tell me that isn’t gnarly, or whatever the kids are saying these days…

On a technical level though, and in wider terms of their musicianship, how can anyone defy their talent? I normally feel music and music taste is completely subjective, but in regards to Wings (who I care for in almost a maternal, protective sense) I don’t think it is even up for discussion. They are excellent, fact. They dabble in so many genres: pop, classic rock, blues, even bordering on the operatic in tracks like Live and Let Die. The complexity and showmanship that go into each of their songs is incredibly admirable. I had the pleasure of bearing witness to McCartney live in 2018, when I went to go and see him at the O2. He did a mixture of Beatles, stuff from Ram, and Wings. I remember being so struck at the time by just how many incredible songs Wings have made that I didn’t even know were by them. I particularly enjoyed when he introduced Let ‘Em In as the ‘Postcode Lottery song’ – but also realised that this is perhaps why people don’t really find Wings very, ahem, cool.

To conclude and summarize my essay-structured argument, I’ve left below a link to one of the best compilations of all time, Wings Greatest. A man in a record shop once gave me this for free because reportedly ‘nobody was going to buy it, anyway’. I can’t understand why. From Hi, Hi, Hi to Jet, every song on this is magical in its own way. I implore you, those still remaining unconvinced, to listen to this and deny their genius in any respect. Just because living on a farm in the Mull of Kintyre, knitting jumpers and raising animals for pleasure rather than sustenance, isn’t very rock ‘n’roll, it doesn’t mean that Wings are. The fact that Paul remains unabashedly his lovely self, and the fact that oozes through these sunshine songs, makes Wings all the more likeable to me. I hope you leave this article a bonafide Wings aficionado; and if not, I want to know why not. Come on, I haven’t got all day.

(I think I’ve put more work into this than I have ever put into a piece of university work. Is that bad? Oh, well. For Paul, anything…)

A Discourse Loosely Involving Ian Astbury

© Pinterest

By Angus C.Rolland

Ah… to comment on a YouTube video, forget about it entirely in the 2/3 years since and suddenly get a *reminder* about it but a few days ago… in the packaging of a reply, combative in nature. The video in question was a live performance of The Cult playing their track ‘Nirvana’ on Bliss, some long defunct TV show. Now, let us examine the comment that started this saga, the reply that provoked a crossing of keyboards and perhaps even dissect the causality of what this represents in the grand portrait of affairs.

To explain, when I mean ‘anime villain phase’; The Cult were a band that had a great thing going on their first 2 LPs, Dreamtime & Love. They were a kind of fusion of the whole punk-cravat-post scene, with a clear homage to the classical (rock) soloing of the late-60s/early 70s, something I imagine would have been sacrilege to attempt in the eyes of the more puritanical of stud-fiends. I’m not alone in regarding this earlier material as being both artistically superior and generally much more consistent than their unfortunate transition to the commercial viabilities (thanks Rick Rubin) the LA cock-rock thing granted them. As expected, it was only a matter of time before they become something of a joke by trend-tailing themselves into the gutter, courtesy of the Nevermind-led crusade that swiftly put them and the rest of the spandex-ilk to the sword. Anyway, the reply, by a fellow (re)named “Geoff Rodgers”, laid bare his hostility towards the medium of Japanimation… and quite possibly to I?

Never one to shrug off an exchange fraught with little-to-no danger, and a general desire to provoke “Geoff” into an incandescent stupor, I countered that he ought to try just a little harder! Ignorant to my scheming, he took the bait, as though he were farmer being (falsely) informed someone was uprooting his crops and flogging them at a local market, price heightened. He dished me a comeback, albeit a little on the ordinary side… not quite the catch of, let’s say encircling the German 6th Army, but it’ll do for the time being. On a tactical level, only an idiot would reciprocate with further spewing.

Instead, I undertook the principle of taking the cycle lane (favourable terrain*) over the motorway, where the perils of velocity dictate! Continuing to irk my conversational assailant through my own interpretation of sophistry, I slowly began to whittle down his decision-making capacity. If all went well, I would (soon?) be able to snatch the initiative away from him; his hopes of a swift, outright victory crumbling before his bewildered eyes, minute-by-minute.

Overconfident, I took pity on his (apparent*) fruitless struggle. Offering him a reprieve, I quoted from Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, specifically from a character that happened to be the ‘Anime Villain’ of that story, the very thing he feared. His terse, almost neutral acknowledgement appeared to indicate a sense of fatigue, the classic ‘bitten off more than he could chew’ realisation… just right for the table of negotiation.

Softening to something a little more conciliatory, I wished him well in all his endeavours, grand and not. Never a man to stamp down on an opponent’s aspirations, I sort to display to him the idea of magnanimity had not been lost in this plutocratic free-for-all we call the present. Yet, it seemed he wanted no such truce…? Puzzled, I attempted a deconstruction; where could his motivations lie? Was he intent on going down with his ship? Could his antagonism toward me be a deep-routed thing? Might his socio-economic background, opaque to I, have played a part in his ‘rationale’? Perhaps he only liked The Cult from their 1987-period onwards, and was just looking for trouble by visiting the comment section of their earlier, pre-1987 material? Had the tables been turned without me even knowing? Just… who… is… “Geoff Rodgers”!? Your guess is as good as mine.

Attempting to make sense of his increasingly disagreeable tone, I cited a theory of the late Mr Huxley. Whether or not he was familiar with the Mind-At-Large concept or even the hallucinogenic wonders of trouser creases was… irrelevant, his curt reply, as though quoting that ‘root beer’ scene from Reefer Madness, was enough to indicate where his true values lay. What’s that? A hypothesis you say? Hmm… The only ‘antipodes’ he appears to be sailing towards… would have to be… (*unfortunate curtain call*) the fringe-right of conventional political thought; aligning him (no doubt) with the likes of the extrajudicial deaths-squads of Rio De Janeiro, the white-robed Clerics of Riyadh and… of course, the ever-nefarious Piers Morgan. 

In a futile attempt to appeal to his better angels, I tried to get him to shake off the scourge of his dangerous beliefs. Alas, I received no further correspondence… my measured diplomacy no match for his past-glorifying, delusional fantasies.

Now, if I may address our mercurial pariah directly, as a last resort –

Angus: “Geoff”, if I dare presume first-name basis… should you still be lucid enough to read these words, I implore you to do the right (not that!) thing and cease with your latent misdeeds. Laugh if you want, a warning such as this might seem innocuous to you, and the other ‘residents’ of that particular… ideological tree-house, but… as the saying goes, ‘the cat is out of the bag’. And with that; I offer you a rope away from your tendencies, with these parting words: less of the jingo, and more of… the Ringo.

Rockstars And The Rainbow Connection: Some of The Best Musical Appearances on The Muppet Show

© The Muppet Show, 1980

By Neve Robinson

Ah, The Muppet Show. Beloved by everyone from the freshest of flowers to those in the same age bracket as Statler and Waldorf, The Muppets have a strangely appealing quality that spans across well – everyone, really. It’s no surprise then, that from the 1976-1981 original run of the show to even modern Muppet iterations today, even the most golden of musical glitterati couldn’t resist getting involved with the fuzzy friends. Having been host to the likes of Dave Grohl, Charles Aznavour, Harry Belafonte and Weezer, the puppets have performed alongside a smorgasbord of incredible and random guests over the years. Here’s a few of the best fabulously bizarre moments that two entertainment worlds collided over, erm, frog and pig puppets.

Elton John

In 1977, the bonafide king of glam rock and all things fabulously flamboyant graced The Muppet Show stage by playing his classic croon Crocodile Rock in- you guessed it – a swamp filled with crocodiles. In Kermit’s best-selling tell-all autobiography (the greatest autobiography since the likes of Nelson Mandela’s, arguably)  Before You Leap, Kermit states that his mother booked Elton John into the local theatre. While there, Kermit’s mother of course introduced John to the crocodile that inspired “Crocodile Rock.” I think Bernie Taupin was probably in that swamp too, you know. Why didn’t The Electric Mayhem play on more John records?

Joan Jett

Punk princess Joan Jett of The Runaways and The Blackhearts fame produced probably her greatest musical offering yet (and from a legend like her, that’s saying something) when she collaborated with The Muppets in 2016 to sing Bad Reputation. When Miss Piggy suffers a scandalous wardrobe malfunction, the network that The Muppets are represented by is outraged, and Piggy is forced to question everything she stands for. By the end of the episode, Jett helps Piggy remember her worth and empowers her – who cares if the public sees your pig tail, right? And who better to teach Miss Piggy to not give a f*ck than the queen of not giving a f*ck herself. #UnveilTheTail, man.

Debbie Harry

It’s hard to think of anything cooler and more iconic than Blondie bombshell Deborah Harry. But then I remembered that she dueted with Kermit The Frog in 1980, and the result was glorious. Beyond glorious. Here she is singing a favourite childhood song of mine and millions of others, The Rainbow Connection, but she also sang her own classics like Call Me and One Way Or Another. In the episode, Kermit’s unbearably cute nephew Robin’s Scout Troop visit the show and ask Debbie for her help in earning their “punk merit badges”. I’m still hoping to earn mine one day…

Alice Cooper

Make no mistake, there is nothing more shock-rock in the world than erm, singing puppets. Alice Cooper proved this point in his 1978 Muppet Show appearance, claiming to be an agent of the Devil and a Faustian character trying to strike a deal with The Muppets for their souls. After all, I think we can all agree that Kermit has much more soul, personality and good morals than most living souls these days. I can understand why Cooper fancied pinching our favourite Amphibian-American’s. Here he is performing School’s Out. I bet headteacher Sam The Eagle feels a right daft sod now.

Arlo Guthrie

1979 saw son of Woody, folk star Arlo Guthrie, play some of his greatest hits on a farm-themed Muppet stage (mainly from his 1976 record, Amigo). Normally, Guthrie would lend his voice to songs of human rights struggles and social justice ballads. I’d argue that the plight of The Swedish Chef looking for something to cook for a family meal other than his chicken counterparts is…sort of a social issue. Starvation? Maybe? I don’t know if these puppets even have digestive systems, but I digress.

Paul Simon

Paul Simon is arguably the cutest human on Earth. That’s just a fact. So what could be more wholesome than our sunshiney king singing with the cutest puppets on earth?! 1980 blessed us with an episode dedicated to the Simon & Garfunkel folk trailblazer, as he helped Gonzo learn to improve on his songwriting. Though personally, I find Gonzo’s lyricism quite inspiring. “For youuu… I’d wash my hair with stinky glue, I’d fry my legs and eat them too, I’d put a spider in my shoe — for yoouuuu!” I hope one day someone writes a song for me that’s so rich with romantic sentiment.

Johnny Cash

Probably one of the most famous Muppets guests, in 1980 a country-themed episode played host to the iconic Johnny Cash. Cash dueted with Rowlf the dog in Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog, a song surprisingly not written just for the purpose of singing one day an anthropomorphic hound, but rather actually performed live at the famous Folsom Prison concert by Cash. Rowlf ended up taking great offence to the lyrics within, though Cash assured him it was in jest. I think Cash’s greatest beef was probably with a puppet dog, you know. He was a fairly agreeable guy by all accounts. Well, unless you’re Waylon Jennings of The Highway Man. If you’re interested…


Muppets Tonight treated us to a 1997 cameo from the dearly missed Prince, and what a cameo that it was. He was known as his symbol at this time, so he’s referred to chiefly as ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’. Behold, as TAFKAP creates a song made from the Commissary menu of the hotel he’s staying in. Not sure why he plumps for this rather than Raspberry Sorbet, but I’m not complaining; this is a bonafide banger.

Dolly Parton

Good golly, Miss Dolly! Now here is a Muppet icon in her own right. Dolly Parton is the definition of a country legend (and, of course, an inspiration to the equally pink and fabulous blonde bombshell Miss Piggy herself). Muppet Magazine, a respected publication on a par with the one you are currently privy to, crowned Ms Parton an Honorary Muppet in 1986. She has collaborated with the Muppets many times, most recently in 2012 singing Islands In The Stream with Kermit as her Kenny Rogers. I’ve attached a clip from the 1987 Dolly show, so technically this isn’t a Muppets appearance. But it’s far too iconic to not include. I think Dolly and Kermit make quite the fetching couple, don’t you?

David Byrne

Okay, okay, so this isn’t quite a cameo as such. Talking Heads frontman Byrne isn’t present – or is he? Listen, it would be so wrong of me to not finish on this gem. I’m not going to explain this 1980 classic video; some art is better appreciated as is, you know? Besides, you’d only tell me to stop making sense, anyway. If you know, you know.

HALF-HOUR HUMDINGERS: 10 Albums To Soundtrack Your 30 Minute Makeover

© Nick Drake, 1973, who might make a lovely little appearance on this list…

By Alex Lamont

You’ve eaten your bowl of spaghetti, you’ve scrubbed the mundane daily dust from your hard-worked hands, and your half hour power nap is slept away. The big night looms large up ahead. All that’s missing? The tunes. The tried and trusted “BANGERS” playlist just won’t cut it today, you’re in the mood for real music, man, word food for your incoming encounters. 

Here’s ten albums under 30 minutes for when time is of the essence and this niche situation is your blissful reality.

10. Come On Pilgrim by Pixies

© Pixies

The princes and princesses of the 80s and 90s garagey-punk scene delivered a little package of magic in their 1987 debut Come On Pilgrim which will keep you feeling cool all day. There are some real highlights of the Pixies catalogue stored in this 20-minute thrill, including the infectiously optimistic sounding Holiday Song (ignoring the lyrics just for tonight), the Lou Reed lover’s I’ve Been Tired, and banging opener Caribou. You might even have time to throw another album on after too! It must be your lucky day…

9. Camera by Chromatics

© Italians Do It Better

Italians Do It Better’s poster child Chromatics are second to none in providing that ethereal feeling of perfectly balanced headiness and hope. This collection of tracks along with their alternate mixes and versions will help you float your way through the world with a new sense of purpose, sheening your moonlit surroundings in an enticing glow of optimism. Title-track Camera is a fitting introduction to a 24-minute soundtrack of dreaming, while Magazine moulds itself into an electronic 80’s anthem. And when the originals are over you can bookend your night with the instrumentals.

8. Pottymouth by Bratmobile

© Bratmobile

The punk landscape is full to its grimy brim with short flashes of electric brilliance, and this entry arrives and departs just in time to rile you up and send you on your rebellious way. Bratmobile’s Pottymouth is a criminally overlooked bright spot in the confusing 90’s soundscapes, going hard where it needs to and kicking arse while doing it. Cherry Bomb more than matches The Runaways’ original classic, while Panik and Richard growl and groan attitude. 

7. I’m New Here by Gil Scott-Heron

© Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron has one of those once-in-a-lifetime voices that sulks and soothes with its gruff comfort. Combining soul and spoken word, Scott-Heron delivered a beautiful collection of poetry in his first release after sixteen years, all in a concise 15-song 28-minute album, remixed some years later by Makaya McCraven in a fitting posthumous release.  Rich with heart and experience, I’m New Here is an invaluable staple in the Gil Scott-Heron discography.

6. Bestial Burden by Pharmakon

© Pharmakon

Bestial Burden lingers patiently amongst the shadows, its sleek, oily fingers of intoxication pulling back your hair as the end-of-night retching grips tightly to your shoulders, shaking through to your very soul.

In other words, this industrial nightmare may better soundtrack your late-night lavatory visits than your pre-drinks, but worry not! Nightmares don’t last forever…! Only 28 minutes… (Minus the bonus track)…

5. Aretha Now by Aretha Franklin

©Aretha Franklin

Not every night needs bear such a pessimistic outcome though surely? Legendary Aretha Franklin provides the soul food for when you’re feeling lucky, looking sexy and planning a sleepless night. Franklins version of  I Say a Little Prayer is a strong contender for the best song of all time and joins a whole host of worthy company. And hey, if the night doesn’t reach the dizzy, expected heights; just play it alone and fall in love with yourself. Just make sure you took Pharmakon off the queue…

4. RINA by Rina Sawayama 

©Rina Sawayama

Its follow-up predecessor might have received the wider acclaim, but Sawayama’s debut certainly holds its own as a party warm up. RINA is a spotless 24-minutes of primo pop, and it just sounds like an album which could reappear again twenty years from now as a classic. Ordinary Superstar is a doorway into a whole world of perfectly produced joy, and by the time Cyber Stockholm Syndrome hits, you’ll be bursting at the seams in anticipation for the wonders of the night.

3. My Dear Melancholy, by The Weeknd

©The Weeknd

Some might say that it would be wrong to party to an album constructed in a time so evidently difficult for its creator. To those people, I challenge you to listen to I Was Never there‘s incredible beat switch and insist that those aren’t tears of appreciation, rather than sadness. My Dear Melancholy, is undeniably heart-breaking, but it’s so damn good that it can play out just as effectively as an orgasmic climax of sound. I mean Privilege? Whew.

2. Sweet Princess by Dry Cleaning 

©Dry Cleaning

Yeah yeah, I see the ‘EP’ on the album cover, but you’ve read this far, and I haven’t steered you wrong yet have I? I know Pharmakon was cutting it a bit fine, but I promise Sweet Princess is worth it. 21 minutes of spoken word that feels like its coming from your own mouth accompanying jagged post-punk riffs sounds like a good deal to me. A love letter to Meghan Markle and a critique of the party you’re about to attend sounds pretty convincing to me…

1. Pink Moon by Nick Drake

©Nick Drake

I don’t think too much can be said about Pink Moon that hasn’t already been summarised by our universal accepting of its perfection. Whether you’re in your introspective, pre-party mood, or arriving home drunk and defeated, Nick Drake is on hand to wrap his arms around you in a comforting, audible hug. Which Will is in my eyes Drake’s best work, and it would be quite impossible to leave Pink Moon off this list. 

Sounds From The Other City ’18: Recollections and Observations

In the wake of the recent news of lockdown restrictions (supposedly) lifting by summer, Angus Rolland gives us a fond look back at the festival experience – well, what he can recall of it, anyway…

By Angus C. Rolland

Declining an offer of free entry to a live improvisation, featuring a temp paisley retinue at the Chameleon Arts Cafe (quite the steal I hear), I opted instead to purchase a ticket of entry for the festival in question. My relative proximity (visiting, not living) towards Salford, the titular ‘Other City’, proved decisive in my (momentary) deliberation. The day fit the ideal of being outdoors, with the queues plentiful and the logistics respectable. In venues all over, a spectrum of performers obscure and not did the predictable thing. 

Yet… oddly enough, what provoked my memory of this receding event was not a stagger-some performance (of which there were a quantity) or a o’Man’o’Pint being unceremoniously escorted from the premises, owing to preceding (bacchanalian) behavioural patterns… It was a picture I took of that day (see above), which just so happened to be in the month of just 3 letters. Upon tripping (clicking*) on it within my documents folder, I couldn’t help but think allegorically; the apex-ed few, the ‘captain’s at the helm’ of this much-disdained cylinder represented, to me at least, a societal commandeering. These tins-on-deck (barring the Lucozade) could be applied to any edifice of authority, be it government or sleazy record executive, for all below, in spite of their numerical superiority, looked but trash-designate in comparison. The denizens inside, the ‘fellow travellers’, could perhaps be afforded certain benefits and stabilities… though remember, subordinate to the arbitrary whim of the upper caste, they remain. As for the urchins beneath, the ‘peons’, seemingly they appear disallowed to reside within. Languishing at the gates, they are compelled to congregate further and further away from the placidity of roof and wall, and into the peripheral of uncertainty… for all lodgings were taken. 

The rubbishing of hierarchical structures aside, I now move to anecdote the security apparatus; staffed largely by student volunteers unintimidating in disposition, with a smaller cadre of bouncers guarding such sites of importance as the performer’s cafeteria, and the odd *staff only* door, varying in paintwork and wooden sourcing. Passing through the various ‘checkpoints’ clustered about; the standard protocol of bag searching was in place. The implication of this was that attempting to smuggle alcohol, external in origin, into this parameter of fanfare was predictably… verboten. I offset this by (superficially) covering the contraband with clothing and/or leaflets relevant to the ongoing day. Usually it worked, for the auxiliaries lacked both the incentive and vocational doctrine to perceive my economic subversion. Yet, for the stoic guardsman I had to do something a little different… for this event was but one of many in their distinguished service record. I didn’t wear a particularly baggy jumper that day, so the obvious scheme of stuffing all the tins into the back of it was out of the question. Recalling the concept of dead-drops, I hid the majority of them in a hedge, while keeping one at hand, albeit concealed. Passing through these checkpoints with frequency (you know how it is with the timetable) eventually lulled them into a false sense of security, with the general assumption being that since it was empty before, it must be empty now… I traversed unopposed!

Darkness brought about a new dimension to the whole scenario, as did my fatigue from 4 days of consumption, with the orange lighting emitting from an adjacent takeaway giving me moderate cause to dislike the notion of artificial illumination. In cooperation with my bandana, I tied an inflatable bird to my head, as though I myself had been commandeered. Whether or not it remained on my head with regard to longevity mattered not; it was this act of individuality, this… executive decision… the most arbitrary of whims even, that I placed this item, almost salmon in colouring, on one’s (very own) noggin. I dare not fathom what could have been, had I been the one at the wheel of society’s course, or conversely a tenant in that infernal peripheral. Sometime later (maybe a year?), bandana and faux-Flamingo long since departed, I heard that the organisers of the aforementioned spectacle had curtailed its size? So, the event in question, one that had ended nearly 3 years ago… laden with capital-dispensing consumers (people, not cans*) and capital-inducing performers… had passed by its zenith (Sunday, 36th of April, 2018 AD) and would be right-sizing itself, much like the book-cooking theme park administrators of old, from now… on? Well, what went wrong?

(The aforementioned flamingo headgear)

Angus: I have no idea, but I suspect it’s monetary in reasoning.

All-Party Parliamentary report warns UK nightlife industry faces “EXTINCTION”

That’s right, we do proper news and that too sometimes….

© YES Manchester, 2020

By Josh Loynes

A new report into the effects of COVID-19 on UK nightlife has found that the industry could face “extinction” without urgent and immediate intervention.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) made up of 40 MP’s have predicted that without increased government support for the country’s struggling nightlife sector, city centres will be left resembling “ghost towns”.

The findings of the report are based on a survey of around 20,000 industry figures, including employers, freelancers and consumers. 

The report was led by Jeff Smith MP, who commented “Our findings today reveal this industry is on its knees, in desperate need of additional support from the government and a concrete plan for reopening. Without these interventions, many of these viable businesses will go under, leaving city and town centres resembling ghost towns. If the government is serious about its ‘levelling up’ agenda it must act now to save this sector and avoid untold damage to the social fabric of this country.”

Key findings of that survey include the revelation that 78 per cent of all employees in the sector had at some point been on furlough, while 85 per cent of people working in the night-time economy are considering completely leaving the industry.

The report also suggests a number of measures the government can take to help, including extending the furlough scheme until businesses can operate freely and without restrictions, as well as producing a “roadmap” for reopening late night venues based on the vaccination programme and mass testing, and providing a government-backed insurance scheme and a solution to spiralling commercial rent debt (The Government has already placed a freeze on the eviction of commercial tenants, but this is currently only in place until 31st March 2021).

Commenting on the report, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said “From artists to engineers, bar staff to security, and production to promoters — they have shown great resilience in the face of adversity. But resilience only gets you so far without the required support. We need more assistance and a detailed plan for reopening now. Otherwise, much of what defines a night out in the UK will be lost forever.”

The full report, including testimonies from many involved in the survey, can be found at the link below.

Editor’s Note: Proper scary this, innit?