The Little Drummer Boy

If ever a record had a punctum, this has to be it.  It’s a good song, not a great song, but it is lifted into a new dimension simply because of that drum fill we all know and love.  Probably.

I wouldn’t admit to being a fan of Phil Collins’s work as a solo artist, but there is no denying that In The Air Tonight still does the old goosebump thing on my arms and legs when the little cheeky chappie launches into the drums.  I am a fan of Phil Collins the drummer, especially when he was the drummer in Genesis before he became the drummer and singer.  For me, PC has (or had) such a relaxed, loose style, he always appeared to be at one with his kit, working with it, rather than fighting it or giving it a good battering.  His energy was less obvious than some of the more aggressive drummers, but he seemed to have a kind of lazy mastery of the art.  It’s not that he made a different sound, as such, but rather that he seemed to do so with finesse.  Not something you’d usually associate with a rock drummer, I’d argue.  There are many Genesis tracks in which the Collins drum fill is the part I listen for most attentively.  No, I probably can’t identify them off the top of my head, but once a track starts, I know one is going to come and I wait for the moment, maybe even re-winding the tune to enjoy it one more time.

The video is not too bad, but some of the film of the live performances of the song are less palatable.  Reaching the drum-kit just in time smacks of rather too much cheese for my taste, although it’s still good to see how that noise was created.

As I was looking for the video, I came across other bits and pieces.  Well worth a look to perhaps get a flavour of what I am trying to describe above.

I guess Mr Collins made a few bob from Cadbury’s following their appropriation of the tune.  Good luck to him.

Earlier today, I heard a clip of a tune from a band introduced to me by a good friend at university, so I shall seek out my favourite of theirs for tomorrow.  An American band with (if you are an English English speaker) a name which means something different in American, although they haven’t messed around with the spelling.

Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick

I’ve never played a musical instrument, not even a recorder as a kid at school.  I always figured that the only thing I’d like to play was the drums.  I couldn’t face the thought of cutting my fingers on guitar strings and a piano-style keyboard always seemed to difficult to fathom.  Why are they all black or white with nothing on them to give a clue as to what not might lurk beneath?  In 1973, a single based around a drummer doing his thing was a revelation; drums could be more than something going on in the background.

I don’t know much about Cozy Powell, and it’s not a name that crops up too often these days.  I know he died relatively young several years ago, after a career working with a number of major bands.  While it’s not the greatest drumming I’ve heard, I still want to have this recording in here as a reminder of the time when I recognised that a bit of percussion could be lifted to a different level in a pop record.

There has been much debate about the best rock drummers and few would argue against the likes of Moon and Bonham and Grohl and Baker and Copeland, among others, but I have to stick with my favourite for my next choice.  He became successful as a solo artist, and has since become a figure of ridicule, rather unfairly, in my view.  Many of his records may not be to my taste, but that’s no reason to ignore his earlier work.  I have a craving for chocolate just now.  Good night.

One Little Indian

Siouxsie Sioux.  What a name, eh?  There were many contenders for best name from the punk era – think Poly Styrene, Sid Vicious, Jet Black, Rat Scabies, Adam Ant (yes, he was punk before turning into that pirate bloke) – but, come on… Siouxie Sioux?!  Brilliant.  When you listen to her and the Banshees, it’s apparent that they were better than punk, really.  They had great pop tunes and I especially like the production on this particular track.  I’ve not highlighted a punctum lately, but the drumming in this (at 1:40, then at the very end) is very definitely what I would term the punctum.  Punktum?  (Sory, if I’ve used that line before.)  It’s a good song, then it becomes a great song thanks to that thumping drum break and ending.  Ooh, I do like a good bit of percussion on a pop record.

As it happens, One Little Indian is the name of Bjork’s record company.  I really should add a Bjork track, but I’d already decided that I want to continue with another favourite bit of drumming from a man whose name I’ve not heard for years.

Japan and China

I think this is a rather clever combination of West and East, managing to be both a great pop song while infusing what seem to me to be unmistakably Chinese sounds. Perhaps not, but I like to think so.  David Sylvian’s voice is like no other, so it’s worth a listen for that alone, with the added bonus of that drum break at around 2:20.  I have to admit that I couldn’t place this tune in my musical timeline – there is nothing I can associate with when this was in the charts – and I was alarmed to learn that it dates from 1981.  I’d have bet late eighties, and yet it still doesn’t feel dated.  Mr Sylvian’s hairstyle, however, is a bit of a giveaway.  Shocking.

I can’t help but be drawn to my next choice.  A punk queen (is that possible?) with a marvellous name who sang about a Chinese Takeaway, but a song with another memorable piece of drumming.

Mark and the Boy Lard

I think I need something daft like this to lift my spirits from time to time.  I have a real affection for Radcliffe and Riley; their show on Radio 1 was in a league of its own and I was rather upset when it came to an end.  As well as bringing some half decent records, their daily shenanigans often brought a smile to my lips, if not a chuckle or a guffaw.  I don’t suppose you’d want to listen to The Shire Horses all day, but a quick blast every now and then won’t do you any harm.  I forget who did the original song on which this is based, but I hope they liked it.

I just love the fact that they had an album called Our Kid Eh.  (If you don’t know, Radiohead released an album called Kid A).

We’ve been looking at buying a new car.  Word is that it’s best to go for one from a Japanese company, which seems logical.  By chance, a track by the band named after that country was on the radio a few minutes ago, so I’m going to track down my own favourite of theirs for tomorrow’s installment.

Inspira L Carpets

I don’t know if I remember seeing this on Top of the Pops, or if I just think I remember, as it’s a bit of film I’ve seen several times since.  It’s kind of up there with Cameo doing Word Up  – you know, when the singer wore the red cod-piece – as the very sight of Mark (E) Smith on the television, especially on the BBC, was pretty special.  He looks like he’s just stepped out of the local boozer.  The Inspiral Carpets are rather underrated, in my view, and are perhaps best known for being the band for which Noel Gallagher was a roadie before he found fame in some dodgy Beatles cover band.  They have a real classic tune in Dragging Me Down, so check back later in the year and I’m sure it will appear sooner or later.

Sorry about the few seconds of Bolton at the start, but what a contrast!  I’m not really sure that Simon Mayo knew what to make of it.

Here’s a clip I stumbled across when the Youtube clip finished, featuring the old curmudgeon, but also a very young, largely silent Marc Riley.  Classic.

After Smith and Riley, let’s have some Riley and Radcliffe.


The All-Important Middle Initial

I’m not sure there is anything sensible to write about The Fall.  They simply defy categorisation and convention.  Famously, a favourite of Peel, so I must have been listening to them for years, although I’d be hard-pressed to name more than a handful of their songs, to be honest.

Frankly, I’m rather grumpy when it comes to the middle initial in a name.  Richard E Grant, Samuel L Jackson, William G Stewart, among others.  Pretentious, innit?  I can just about forgive Mark E, since Mark Smith is going to be a pretty common name, so perhaps he needs to distinguish himself from the masses?

This is probably a good example of a relatively accessible recording, although they’ve also done covers of Victoria and Lost in Music among many others.  Mr Smith’s delivery remains a thing of wonder, but I don’t know that I’d want to listen to him all day.

He made a guest appearance on another tune I rather like, so come back for more, tomorrow.

Cool? Er…

I’m pretty certain the album from which this single came is the only album I have ever bought on the day of its release.  I really was that keen to get my hands on it having heard Hey Dude it on the radio and having seen them on Top of the Pops and thinking that this was my kind of band.  I still reckon this is a fantastic single and there are other tracks on the album (K) which hold their own, even though history hasn’t really been kind that kind to them.  Nor have the critics, for that matter.

This is a top tune.  It’s been my earworm all day having found the video link this morning.  I must say that this is not my kind of video.  Far too many jump cuts.  Video directors.  Please. Stop. Doing. This.


Okay, it’s late now, but I had to look.  Here’s that Top of the Pops appearance.  Much better than the video, but a rubbish ending.

Next, I’m going to bring you a real Peel favourite.  A band with an interesting front-man.  In fact, he’s the only constant, as far as I know.


Remember Windows 95?

I’m really losing the plot.  Missed another deadline, although I do have a really good excuse.  Honest.

We went to Kaohsiung for the weekend and returned late yesterday evening.  The plan was to get home and add this post, but the drive home was so stressful, I didn’t have sufficient brain power to even turn on my laptop.  I’ve commented on the driving here elsewhere, but the lunatics were really out in force last night.  I simply do not understand what is going on in the mind of the average road user here.  I realise that there is bugger all I can do about it, but stay tuned… I’m gonna try asking some questions.  I need to catch up on some work first, but I now have some ideas.

Today’s tune comes from another of those bands about which I know very little.  If you are old enough, you may remember that on the Windows 95 disc(s), there were a couple of songs (for some reason).  One was Edie Brickell; the other was Weezer doing Buddy Holly, with that lovely video somehow set in an episode of Happy Days.  Hey!  A great tune, but I like this better.  As it happens, last night I probably could have done with one of what these chaps are singing about, but that’s another story.

Later, I’m coming back with a single from a band that shone brightly for a short while in the mid to late nineties.  Now (and maybe even then) they seem to be regarded as a bit of a joke, or not very cool – or perhaps Kule, but it’s difficult not to appreciate their musicianship.

Sunday Best

I do have a Black Sabbath CD somewhere in my collection, but it’s one of those ‘best of’ efforts, if I remember correctly.  I can’t say I’m a real fan of Ozzy and Co., but this is one of those records that hits all the right buttons.  I came to love this during my very first job.  I used to be a petrol pump attendant, earning the princely sum of £1 per hour, and the bloke I shared the office/booth with had Sabbath on repeat on his ghetto blaster (or whatever they were called in those days).  I remember drinking cheap coffee and treating myself to a two-finger Kit-Kat if I got peckish.  Wow!  See how certain records remind us of bizarre details?  I wouldn’t call those happy days, cycling to work in winter at the crack of dawn and taking home 23 quid a week, but at least there was music to keep us going.  And Kit-Kats.

Now, that’s a video I’ve never seen.  Mr Osbourne wasn’t exactly animated, was he?

Talk of happy days takes me to a band who did a Happy Days video, but not that particular tune.