Monday, June 29, 2009

Behind the Music #2: Black Sabbath - "Iron Man"

If there's one thing your average rocker hates, it's wasting time. So, whenever John Q. Rockstar has been forced to read a book, either by stentorian schoolmasters or in order to impress a lass, the least he can do is to lift the plot wholesale and make it into a song.

The "novel plot as lyrics" tradition is a long and glorious one that includes The Cure's "Killing an Arab" (Camus' "The Outsider), The Manics "Patrick Bateman" (American Psycho) and 2 Live Crew's "Get me Some Muthafucking Madeleines, Ho" (Proust's "In Search of Lost Time"). However, there is one such song that stands alone, the big daddy, the big cheese, the big bopper of the genre.

The song is "Iron Man" by Black Country bat-munchers Black Sabbath. Ozzie, Geezer, Ricky Villa and aal the lads have taken elements of "The Iron Man", Ted Hughes' story of an alienated ferrous fellow, added a dash of bairn's comic superhero "Iron Man" and just enough original ideas to avoid a troublesome lawsuit and created a "heavy metal" classic.

We all know it, we all love it. But pay close attention, if you will, for one moment to certain key lyrics from said song.

"Heavy boots of lead
fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!"

Heavy boots of lead, sir? Doesn't being constructed from iron make you feel tough and intimidating enough? Surely the potential victims of an iron man would be filled with plenty of dread even if he was barefoot. Why not go the whole hog and don the weighty bomber jacket of titanium and the hefty knuckledusters of brass? A person of a more psychoanalytical bent than I might suggest that old Iron Man is over-compensating for some other form of inadequacy, with his big, intimidating metal boots.

Could it be that the big, aggressive avenging man-machine can't get his tiny little metal winky up? Iron Man? Soft Cock, more like!

"Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads"

A feeling not unfamiliar to anyone who has seen the lights come on at Buffalo Joe's or similar late night gin parlour, having singularly failed to get a grip of anyone. One can understand Iron Man's chagrin at his predicament. However, you, like I, would not resort to the heavy lead boot course of action. Possibly you would roll your eyes and mutter uncomplimentary remarks regarding the opposite sex, before adjourning to the kebab shop.

Any passer-by observing your demeanour and pondering "Is he alive or dead? Has he thoughts within his head?" would probably conclude that yes, he is alive and the thoughts within his head seem to be focused mainly on the prospect of extra onions and chilli sauce, and maybe one off the wrist when he gets home. Not a notion of "vengeance from the grave" nor the merest hint of killing the people he once saved.

"Now the time is here
for Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved"

Clearly, Iron Man feels he has a grievance against humanity. He did, after all, travel through time to try to save mankind, and with what reward? To be turned to steel (in a great magnetic field, no less) and generally ignored, left to rust in a corner, unwanted and unloved. A situation guaranteed to cause the iron to enter the soul, yes?

However, what it boils down to is this: Iron Man, we accept we were wrong to neglect you. You made great sacrifices on our behalf and it was remiss of us treat you so badly. But come on now, play the game, there's a good chap. Nobody deserves a right shoeing from someone with iron legs and feet clad in heavy leaden

That's just nasty.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Behind the Music #1: Deacon Blue - "Dignity"

A new regular feature on the 'blog, we take you beyond the surface of popular music chart-toppers and let you in on what's really shaking.

Deacon Blue, what? Back in the eighties we all knew them, we all loved them, with their scotch blue-eyed soul anthems and that. There was gap-toothed crooner Ricky Ross, the cute little woman and, erm, some other fellers who stood at the back.

What times to be alive.

Their masterpiece, the crowning jewel in their bejewelled crown is of course their 1987 flop, 1988 hit and 1994 so-so selling single "Dignity". In this song, singer Ross tells us about a Glaswegian Council worker who "harbours" a dream of one day owning a dinghy, which he intends to call "Dignity". Said purchase is apparently to be funded by "the money in his kitty".

The "ship called Dignity" this fellow intends to buy is often seen as representing a metaphor for the dignity of manual labour and the song is seen as a rallying cry of the working class who, in 1987, were getting rather the thin end of things, courtesy of Mrs Thatcher's Conservative Party.

Now this is all will and grace, but to this reporter the whole story smells a bit fishy. For a start, who dreams about buying a fucking dinghy? No-one, that's who.

Secondly, dinghies aren't that expensive to buy anyway, just supposing this bluff, contrary Council employee did have such a dream.
This website has a nice one for under four hundred quid. Twenty years ago they'd have been even cheaper. Now, if this grumpy old bugger, in a forty year working career hadn't been able to scrape together, let us say, two hundred quid, then my monkey's uncle is a Dutchman.

Shit or get off the pot, Jock. Go buy your dinghy if you're going to.

However, since the point remains that nobody dreams of owning a dinghy, the possibility exists that the real-life Waste Management professional was, in the Caledonian manner, ripping the pish out of the eager-eyed, gap-toothed faux-soul singer. Spinning him a yarn, if you will.

One imagines him getting a good old laugh every time the song is played on the radio, which in Scotland is probably about three times a day. You can picture Big Jock and his little mate Wee Tam, sitting around smoking a relaxing Regal and listening to the radio, on company time of course, and on comes Ricky and the gang.

BJ: Och, it's mah pal Ricky and his wee song aboot the dinghy, the noo!
WT: Yon daft laddie with the front teeth that werenie getting oan with each other?
BJ: Aye, that fucking wee radge. Ah got him guid and proper there, eh boy? Swallowed the bloody lot, he did, the floppy-haired young loon. Ship called dignity? In a bonobo's bawbag, more like!
WT: Good one, big man? Shall we be shootin' up this bonny wee batch of skag the noo?

And so the day wears on.

Ladies and gentlemen, I commend to you "Ship Called Dignity" by The Deacon Blues. God bless her and all who sail in her.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ins and Outs: June '09

Hey you! Martial arts fan. Do you know your Kim Kashardian from your him from Kasabian? Can you successfully tell your Claire Grogan from your Piers Morgan? Your Andres Iniesta from your back issues of "Fiesta"?

In your hole you can.

You struggle to end up facing the right way on the toilet and well you know it. Fortunately, the Committee of the nitty-gritty that look pretty in the city will divert you from the Way of the Fool and put you squarely on the Road to Wellville.

L and G, Ins and Outs am here!


Spending a sunny Sunday afternoon indoors, watching YouTube clips of "The Hit Man and Her".
Feeling optimistic that the weather may soon be sufficiently temperate to allow one to eschew the winceyette nightclothes.
Making numerous references to "cojones", pronouncing it "coe-jones" rather than the more orthodox "coe-ho-nays".
Armand Van Helden.
Including several dubious claims in your business promotional literature, notably that your products are "hotter than a set of twin babies, in the back of a Mercedes, when the temperature's up in the mid-80s".
Five on the top, three on the back and sides.
Describing your state of pre-match tension as feeling "like a cat shitting hot tin bricks".
In the pub after five-a-side, assuring your companion that "dear boy, you marshaled the back line like a young Klaus Augenthaler".
Colonel Mike Bumgarner.
Golfing while wearing shorts. Yes, one may look like Don Estelle, but the absence of bawbag stickiness is a positive boon.
Feeling chipper all day after being told by a colleague that your new tie makes you look a little like the Rt Hon Michael Ancram.
Between you and your beloved, always coyly referring to anal sex as "the road less travelled".
Intimating that a dreadful mate's anecdote is failing to grip by humming a few bars of "Go tell it on the mountain" under one's breath, gradually increasing the volume until their final lame payoff is met with an Otis Redding-style roar.
Eating plenty of fish.
Listening to Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" in the back of a Hummer with a plumber and a drummer.
Addressing tradesmen and shop proprietors as "My good man".
On being asked by one of your younger acquaintances if you like Holly Oakes, smilingly informing them that you've never met the lass.
Being laid low by hubris.
Always rooting for the Crimson Haybaler on "Wacky Races". That Peter Perfect can stick his cock'n'balls-shaped car where the sun don't shine.
The Western Lowland Gorilla, or to use the scientific name Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla.


Misguided schmucks suffering from Betty Wright/Jean Knight confusion.
Putting out piss and calling it shit.
Being unable to decide who is the better Ranks; Cutty or Shabba.
Forever going on about your impending Hoseasons boating holiday in Belgium.
Petr Cech's sweaty neck. It's that daft hat.
Anybody who imagines they are being amusing by using the word "simples".
The Phil Brown Karaoke Roadshow.
Loafers, Harry Ramps and assorted methylated spirit enthusiasts, taking up bench space required by real people.
Attempting to engage the fellow who has come to collect your electoral form in a debate over the relative merits of French and English mustard, but suspecting he's not really arsed.
Whoopi Goldberg's sense of trepidation as Patrick Swayze's health worsens.
"Robbo" Robson's 'blog on the BBC website. Now, the Committee know low-quality bloggage like the back of their collective hand, but that cornhole takes the biscuit. And not a very good biscuit. A Lidl own-brand Rich Tea, maybe. That's been dipped in dog shit.
Scratching a thoughtful groin while half-heartedly wondering if they still make "Pop Tarts".
Regretfully informing a close friend that you won't be able to make the christening of their first-born after all, as you have just taken delivery of "Weapons of Ass Destruction 3" on Blu-Ray and, consequently, won't be venturing out much this month.
Swine Flu. Shite Flu, more like!
Impertinent journalists, sticking their neb into the financial affairs of hard-working public servants, who do a marvellous job.
Meeting the vicar in the street and replying, perhaps a little too candidly, to his request as to your well-being "Shee-it, Reverend. I'm sweating like a fat dog's balls, here."
That whole Susan Boyle shiznit. Ugly chicks singing show tunes? Two words, my friend: Amateur Dramatics. Two more: Drag Artistes.
Being on increasingly strong medication "for your nerves" as a direct result of the break-up of Peter and Katie's marriage.
Parachute payments. The greedy sods are claiming for parachutes as well, are they? (Basil Brush writes: "Boom boom!")
Any use of the word "holibobs" when referring to one's vacation plans.