Like some sort of wireless Don Bradman I strode to the radio crease a few weeks ago and edged my way past 300. This means that if you listened to all editions of Selection Box in a row without any interruption you’d be aurally imbibing me talking in between records for over 12 days without sleep. In other words, you’d be a ruddy idiot.
Yes, well done, do a joke about the colour of his eyes then use a black & white photo. Idiot.
In case you’ve been hiding under a glam rock for the last few months you can’t have helped but notice that music journalists and highly-successful BCB disc jockeys with up to 3 listeners alike have been getting into something of a froth with regards to the new album by a young man from South London. The Next Day, David Bowie’s first album since Reality in 2003 was released this week following something of a biscuit game by the great and the good among musos, among whom The Independent‘s Andy Gill referred to the new Jones long-player as “The greatest comeback ever.” Clearly the likes of Greg LeMond, Bobby Ewing, and, this week, FC Barcelona have something of a claim themselves to this title, but to argue whose was the best is a pointless task partly because it is a largely meaningless phrase and partly because I’m not entirely sure what a “comeback”, in musical terms, actually is. To comeback to something you surely have to have indicated that you were, by choice or by default, stopping doing whatever it was that you were doing in the first place. I recall no such suggestion from The Thin White Pensioner. Admittedly, 10 years between albums is something of a significant gap – particularly for someone who not only released 14 albums in 13 years between 1967 and 1980, but some of those albums were the most influential records of all time. A couple of the records after were a right load of old pelt as well, but we’ll skirt over that. However, for whatever reason our pop idols are more pop idle than they used to be – whereas releasing two albums in a year was not uncommon in the 1960s and 1970s, we think little now of artists taking 3 or 4 years between releases, which really begs the question as to why they aren’t generally a good deal better than they were 30 years ago. Continue reading →
Not only do rats spread disease, they also saved TVam, which was far worse.
Having avoided fully referring to BCB’s Studio 4 as a sea-faring vessel I now find that the metaphor would be rather useful not in only that, as a committed land-lubber (again in not in literal terms, though I can’t pretend I’m especially taken with sailing), I’m set to leg it from the aforementioned craft but also because a water rodent theme briefly developed on this week’s Selection Box. Whilst I am not a rat, and indeed Studio 4 is presumably built upon sound foundations and therefore I’m unlikely to disappear into a sink hole like that poor fellow in America, there does seem to be a varmint of a metaphor just sat there waiting to be smacked by my rolled-up newspaper.
Anyway, I appear to be drowning in metaphors. Metaphorically. As featured on this week’s programme, here’s some actual Rats, but not actual rats, courtesy of that there YouTube what all the kids are talking about now whilst they play with their yo-yos and trade Garbage Pail Kids cards.
For reasons far too dull and footling for even me to remember, this week’s Selection Box was recorded in Studio 4 of BCB instead of it’s regular home two doors away in Studio 2. Much like its Thunderbird of the same numeral, Studio 4 is something of a minor player in the BCB cannon compared to the all-important live broadcast hypersonic variable-sweep wing rocket plane of Studio 1, the heavy supersonic VTOL carrier lifting body aircraft that is Studio 2 and the re-usable, vertically-launched single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft we affectionately know as Studio 3. It’d be a stretch of an already tenuous metaphor to suggest it is a small utility submersible for underwater rescue, but, to flick to a barely more relevant simile, using Studio 4 instead of one of the other recording holes is like suddenly trying to use a Commodore 64 joystick to play Fifa when you’re used to the Duashock 3 controller.
In basic terms, the controls are different. In basic terms, it’s basic. Whilst to a novice the myriad of fiddly knobs, light-emitting diodes and push-me-pull-you faders may look more daunting than a desk with an abacus and a twisty crank, when you are used to the former you know how it works and, more to the point, how to correct something if it goes wrong. If you have nothing more than an on / off switch and a big red button that says, “DO NOT PRESS” on it then finding a way of piloting the vessel away from the big broadcasting black hole you’re about to get sucked into is more problematic. And thus it was that I fully expected disaster to befall the programme this week with every given push of a button or slide of a fader. Save for an odd moment a few records in, where my voice seems to appear mid-sentence for reasons I’m still not entirely clear of, I seem to have come out of my Studio 4 journey unscathed, which makes me blase for next week when I am in there again and will, therefore, no doubt end up die screaming as I plough the ruddy thing at full pelt into the hot burning sun.
Anyway, a quick bit of housekeeping is required on here before I get onto the weighty subject of the playlist, namely that the show this week began with Local Natives and you can still hear the interview I conducted with them at Leeds Festival on this ‘ere Soundcloud wotsit here. You can even download it should you be so very inclined – simply click on the arrow on the player and save it as you feel appropriate.
Ugh. Every now and again a show ends up being an unmitigated disaster for no readily apparent reason. The brain fails in basic cogent thought and even when there is a flicker of something approaching intelligent air-filler the lip-enhanced hole in the middle of my face fails to express this appropriately and it just comes out as bibblebibblebibblebibblebibblebibblebibble.
Sadly, this week’s Selection Box was one such show. I can only apologise. Oh, and boil my neck in pot of heated fat as a form of self-flaggelation.
Thankfully there was the usual helping of delicious musical morcels to punctuate the flailing jibbering idiot, including a Thanking Your Kind Indulgence from Kraftwerk – who completed their residency at Tate Modern this week. What better antidote to an incoherent disc jockey could there be than a 7-minute display of minimalist German efficiency.
Here be the full playlist. I’m off to cry big wet tears until next week’s show.
As many a dull, spawn-of-their-loins-obsessed parent will tell you, having a child can present a different perspective on the ways in which the World works from time to time. This has a peculiar way of manifesting itself now and again, such as, just for example, discovering that those irritating adverts on YouTube can serve a genuinely beneficial sociological function.
Of course it serves us ruddy well right for trying to watch something for nothing that we have to sit through up to a whole five seconds of an advertisement before we can view whatever 5-minute load of pelt we’re wanting to stream, but this does not stop us finding the 8%-of-a-minute commercial for arse hair removal something of an irritant. However, when your choice of viewing is an episode of Fireman Sam, selected by your 3 year old son, and the advert is for the new album by Villagers there is clearly something of a benefit to them. This is particularly true when 24 hours later said child expects to see the same advert again and asks for it, and then spends much of the week singing Villagers around the house.
Thus it was that we added Villagers to the list of Good Things that he has now shown a genuine postive interest in, which includes Talking Heads, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Spirit of Eden period Talk Talk and Diana Rigg-era episodes of The Avengers. Parenting isn’t a competition, but I’ve definitely won.
Enough of this Look At Me I Procreated guff, here’s what I went and gone done played this week:
Nothing says Folk more than a set of welding goggles
Last Wednesday was a good evening for Kris Drever. Â At virtually the same moment he was stood on stage, towering over his Lau bandmates Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke as they picked up the Radio 2 Folk Award for Band of the Year, he was also treated to an even more thrilling achievement in that his solo recording of Harvest Gypsies, from the album Blackwater, was the opening track to Selection Box. Â I dare say that life will never quite be so exciting for him again.
I did suffix the track by saying that it was one of my favourite records of the last five years, then suggested that it may well be older than that. In doing so I have made myself right and wrong simultaneously as it is in fact an astonishing 7 years since said offering was released. Â No matter, though, because I’ll just readjust my hypothetical lists and declare that it is one of the best records of the last seven years.
I think we can safely assume that time travel is impossible (which is a shame, because I’ve already written this entire thing once and then accidentally irretrievably deleted it [although admittedly this would be footling use of such a powerful tool - shall I stop the Holocaust? No, I'll undelete the BCB piece I wrote and lost which was largely about myself. Still Marty McFly didn't do much more than make his family rich and everyone seems to love him]) so I think I can be forgiven for failing to play David Bowie on last week’s show. As I have previously explained, the cunning fox sent his new single Where Are We Now? out into the World just a few hours after I had recorded my show. Still, it provided a perfect opener for this week’s Selection Box. What is more remiss of me is the fact that the 70th birthday of arguably the greatest ever pop singer, Noel Scott Engel aka Scott Walker (anyone now yelling “Frank Sinatra!” at their computer can go and shove it up their badger. I’ve never understood the fuss over Ol’ Short Arse and never will), passed me by on the very day my first show in the new timeslot was broadcast.
Whilst I would always maintain that some of the greatest vocalists of all time are people who cannot actually sing (Mark E. Smith being a primary and quite astonishingly brilliant atonal example) when hearing Walker open his trap and, indeed, his throat I feel the pressing need to point people at the speakers and say, THAT is how you sing. I can’t imagine anything I’d like to see less than a guest appearance from Scott Walker on The X Factor, but if such a thing took place at least the result might be that the long queue of neat-haircutted chicken-in-a-basket warblers might just nudge each other and say, “Come on, we may as well go home.”
Not that such a thing is likely, of course, because these days Walker’s output couldn’t be further removed from the conveyor belt claptrap offered by ITV’s flagship God-it-goes-on-forever entertainment piece. Indeed is hard to think of another successful artist who has moved as far leftfield as Scott Walker. I cannot help but applaud any bloody-minded artist who is determined to challenge their own boundaries, experiment with new sounds and seek to explore untrodden avenues, and to hell with shifting units and keeping the bank balance high enough to afford another swimming pool in the back of a stretch Hummer. However, that’s not to say this necessarily results in a more rewarding output because, as much as I love music that takes you somewhere you’ve never been before, I must confess that some of Scott Walker’s more experimental material leaves me rather cold – indeed parts of his 2006 album The Drift were frankly unlistenable. When his new album Bish Bosch was released last month I was, therefore, left with a ummm ahh hesitation as to whether I actually wanted to hear it, let alone buy it. However, I have decided that hard-earned brass must be shelled out as the wares from the album I have heard thus far have been really rather splendid.
This includes the extraordinary Epizootics – which featured in this week’s Selection Box as our long track for the Thanking Your Kind Indulgence section of the show – a 10-minute brooding stew of tribal drums, a malevolent squealing three-note trumpet motif and Walker’s haunting vocal with the added bonus of hearing our hero intoning that we should “take that accidentally in the bollocks for a start.” What’s not to like, frankly?
Quite frankly, I find it hard to criticise David Bowie in any way. As I outlined last year in my 65th birthday love letter to him, even the dreadful offerings of Tin Machine and the Tonight album serve a vital public service in making us all feel a bit less inadequate that we are not David Bowie and he is. Â However, I am mildly miffed that His Nibs Jones saw fit to release his first single (though not strictly his first new material as the popular press seem intent on telling us) in 10 years a mere 10 hours after I had recorded this week’s show – the first in the new time slot of 9pm on a Wednesday – therefore leaving my hour’s offering notably shy of Where Are We Now. Â He could have told me first. Â Thanks a bundle, Dave – and I call you Dave knowing full well that you don’t like people calling you Dave, just as I come out in hives whenever anyone refers to me as “Pat”. Â Eugh.
Show up at Glastonbury in June and I’ll consider letting you off. Â And indeed I’ll call you “David” again.
For those of you still stuck with your head in an ignorance bucket, here’s Bowie’s rather lovely comeback offering:
And here’s the Bowieless playlist for this week’s show:
Experts say that moving house can be almost as stressful as moving house.
The majority of you have probably polished off your selection boxes sometime mid-last week (leaving the Jelly Tots as a slightly crap last treat if you’re anything like me. Do they still even do Jelly Tots? Who cares, it has nothing to do with this, press on…) but for some of us a Selection Box, like a dog, is for life and not just for Christmas. Not that I have a dog. I didn’t get a choccie selection box either, but that is by the by.
My Selection Box has been a midnight feast for the past five and a half years, but as from this week any late night gorging will come to an end and will instead be taken with a post-meal coffee. In other words, and to stop talking in tortured metaphors at last, Selection Box is now set to be primetime fare as it moves to its new slot at 9pm on Wednesdays. The glamour. For those of you loathe to replace the sultry tones of BCB’s resident five tissue fantasy Laura Rawlings for that of an utter divot, Laura’s commitments with a high-fallutin’ rival broadcaster have sadly taken her time away from these shores somewhat, though her BCB Sessions show will still be a going concern once a month on a Sunday, starting on 20 January.
Here’s what I played on what turned out to be my last midnight show: