Life New Music

Song For A Friend

A particular highlight from last year was the Pet Shop Boys’ Electric album, a fine record chock full of the kind of spot-on English synth-pop wizardry that Messrs. Lowe and Tennant present us with on a very regular basis.

An old friend of mine would have really enjoyed Love Is A Bourgeois Construct .. he was always very enthusiastic about the films of Peter Greenaway and the music of Michael Nyman. Nyman’s Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds from The Draughtsman’s Contract is the sample the PSBs worked into the song.

I say ‘would have enjoyed’, because my friend is no longer with us. He was a Scot, born in the 50s, who spent a large part of his childhood isolated due to illness, and as I understand quite solitary until he went to secondary school. I met him in the early 80s when I started work at the same company, and we became good friends. He came out a few years later. Some of his family accepted his choice and supported him but his father and sister didn’t. The torment eventually led to him taking his own life in 2005.

Through the 90s and early 00s, we worked in different places and didn’t meet up as often – when we did, we caught up, visited some favourite haunts and talked about the old days, with no pressure, and maybe that was a little bit of an escape from what he was going through. I knew he was under stress, and I hope I helped a little by being a friend. He was a fine fellow, and this song will now always remind me of him.

New Music

At Home With King Of Limbs

Pre-order, wait until Saturday, log in, press the download button..

..and hey presto, here’s the new Radiohead album, following the virtual trip home from the record shop. Anticipation at a peak, it’s time for the first listen, track-by-track. Let’s put the word atmosphere to one side before we begin.

Shuffling samples, drum and bass-led.. ah, here’s Thom pulling it all together. Pretty. This wasn’t written, it evolved.

Morning Mr Magpie
A guitar riff scuttles. Quiet funk and a terrific sinuous bassline. Fade. Mean Mr Mustard it’s not.

Little By Little
Trying to resist using the word motorik, but I can’t. That’s three tracks of intriguing rhythms. Plucked riffs as Thom croons and gets a little cheeky.

OK, let’s get further out there. Vocal and instrumental samples fade in and out. Tape loops across the studio. A relationship-breaker if played on repeat. One for Radio 2? Maybe not.

Lotus Flower
Some say Thom sounds like Prince. Hmm. Lyrics wrap round the song structure like honeysuckle.  Here’s the video, see for yourself.

Break for cup of tea and quick game of Mousetrap.

The classic,  right here. Beautiful. A liquid production, glorious piano and strings fade in. Must see that one in live performance.

Give Up The Ghost
Pastoral feel, over the first few bars, and in comes Thom, swathed in effects. Lovely acoustic moods from Jonny. Is this Radiohead?

Phil kicks out another spattering rhythm. Thom’s lost in the effects, it’s almost a suggestion of a vocal, voice as instrument. Beautiful.


No big crunchy Jonny moments for you Bends fans, but you know in your heart of hearts: that was then, this is Radiohead now. King of Limbs feels slighter, moodier, more soulful and certainly more understated than In Rainbows, but I am just as immediately captivated by it. Depth and intrigue.

Press play. Again. And again.

Books New Music

Me, Cheeta

If you have a hankering for a rollicking tell-all tale of movie star excess, sex, violence, kidnap and bananas.. knuckle down to your local library (makes so much sense in these cash-strapped times) and badger them to get you a copy of ‘Me, Cheeta’, the autobiography of the world’s most famous chimpanzee, still going at the age of 76. Cheeta has a lot to say about Tarzan co-stars Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan, the Hollywood movie machine, and much much more. Don’t be tempted to have a glass of something while reading it though.. you’ll be snorting it down your nose at the sheer preposterousness of the cheeky chimp’s litigious revelations.. if Marlene Dietrich was “one of the good Germans”, says Cheeta, “then the bad ones must be absolutely f*****g terrifying”. Maureen O’Hara inimitable? Not according to our simian raconteur: “Maureen was in reality highly imitable. I myself can do a reasonable Maureen O’Hara by simply screeching as loudly as I can and flinging my excrement around.”. Ouch!

Salacious, foul-mouthed and entertaining. Yep. Go on, check it out, you know it makes sense.

And now that we’ve established a theme, I’m looking forward to checking out more of Leader Cheetah.. I recently pricked up my ears at their Arizona-by-way-of-Adelaide take on alt-country.. Australiana, maybe? Damn fine stuff, whatever: