Doctorin’ The Tardis

  

Fifty three years ago, around 5:15pm, the first episode of the longest running science fiction series on television was aired – but overshadowed by the JFK assassination the day before. The Unearthly Child was the first of currently 826 episodes and 263 stories. Admittedly there was a big break between 1989 and 2005 with only a TV pilot aired and the series rejected in 1996. 

When I was old enough to be aware of the show it was the tail end of the 70’s and I had to sit through – what at the time I considered boring – the football results on a Saturday tea time as my dad checked his pools coupon. The enigmatic Tom Baker was, and still is, my Doctor. In the era before video recorders were a household item and satellite, cable and TiVo were pure science fiction, my family were glued to the goggle box for 25 minutes throughout the autumn and winter months. It was never repeated (to my knowledge as a six year old) and it took at least a month to finish the story arc. 

Over the years the rogue Time Lord has been name dropped in many other TV series’ and films whether it’s The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Rugrats or Stein’s Gate. I’m not aware of any other song as a tribute or a parody to the show, bedsides this video on offer here. Iron Maiden have featured the famous blue box on at least two pieces of art work. There’s one “hidden” on the bands Somewhere In Time album sleeve and one of their fan club shirt designs revolves around the bands mascot Eddie trying to pluck the TARDIS out of the air. 

The Timelords released this mash up novelty single in 1988. It was the only release by the band and it combines the classic Doctor Who theme with Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Parts 1 and 2 and Blockbuster! from British glam rockers Sweet. The track was an intentional and successful attempt to write a song and get it to number one in the UK singles chart. It was released after a self imposed recording hiatus by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty – better known as the KLF. 

Happy birthday to the Doctor and roll on Christmas Day for story 264, which is hopefully better than most Christmas specials in recent years. It’s been a long twelve months with no new DW fix. 

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Relax 

  

Taking a delve back into my pre metal days here’s a track from the band that surprisingly (I think) I could pin point the beginning of my love (or obsession?) for record collecting, or buying in general. The only records I had prior to this were some inherited albums from relatives. One was an album of Star Wars music and the other was Doctor Who’s Genesis of the Daleks story on vinyl – which I recently had to repurchase! 

I most definitely didn’t buy Welcome to the Pleasuredome on its release date, or anywhere near, but I’m pretty sure the tape version of the album was the first original music release that I had in my possession. I can’t recall where I got it from, but I remember vividly having it during a Cubs trek in the mid 80’s when we encountered Peggy’s Bank and I was playing it on my personal stereo that I think was an Akai or Aiwa branded machine, rather than the more glamorous and famous Sony Walkman. 

Later on I purchased the album on vinyl around Christmas 1986 and for reason still unknown to me to this day I  promptly stuck a Miami Dolphins sticker on the front of it. In the years following I’ve got the album on compact disc and I’ve had this track on 7″ vinyl, a 12″ picture disc and a reissued CD. 

I don’t know if it’s me being naïve or just stupid, but 33 years after it was banned by the BBC I still don’t know why. Maybe the banning of it made it exciting and dangerous for a 12 year old to own? Possibly it was my friends, or the neighbourhood kids I hung around with at the time, we’re all that bit older. 

Compared to some songs that have reached the upper echelons of the UK charts there have been songs much more controversial and obscene. Thanks to that ban though it has made this track the seventh best seller in British chart history with sales in excess of two million singles. If they’d banned the song solely for pre watershed TV consumption with the infamous video below then I could have understood that. 

Originally the single was released in November 1983. After an appearance on prime time TV show Top of the Pops the track shot up the charts. A week later a Radio 1 DJ expressed his dislike for it prior to a daytime BBC ban. Two weeks later it finally hit the summit and remained there for five more weeks whilst banned. Controversy sells. 

Take On Me

  

For almost the last nineteen years my working day revolves around driving a van. So far in that time I’m yet to have a vehicle with any capability to play my 2,000 plus tracks stored on my iPhone through the inbuilt stereo. I’ve got a load of CD’s stashed in the groove box that I’ve gone through numerous times, so I just end up listening to the radio. I listen to a local radio station early doors as they play no music until 9am then chop and change as the FM signal strength dictates. 

At 9 they have the staple local radio feature of guess the year, renamed differently here and there but essentially the same thing. This morning was 1985 so that’s spoilt that for you then! They actually played some half decent stuff from the 52 week period which got me thinking to my musical life before I bowed down to the altar of metal. Unbelievably I wasn’t born with heavy metal pre loaded into my cerebellum. 

Over the course of almost twelve months I’ve posted a few pop songs from my pre teen years, so I thought I’d dial down on the speed and aggression that has been on display lately and reminisce of a bygone era. 

First up one of the songs that was featured on the radio today, Take On Me by Norwegian trio A-ha. It reached number two in the UK charts in 1985 on its second release, this song is taken from their debut album Hunting High and Low. This sub four minutes of synth-pop is backed up by one of the most iconic music videos of the era. I’m sure most people have seen the comic book drawings coming to life and manoeuvring people between its pages and the real world with the use of rotoscoping – a combination of live action and animation. 

In my early days of my first year at high school in 1985 when I was nearly 13, I knew a boy in what was then the second year through a cub and scout pack I was associated with. I don’t think I owned any music then and one lunch time we went to his house and he was going to knock up a mix tape and this track was going to be on it. To try and save time he was going to press record and fast forward on the tape player and play the 7″ single at a faster speed. Needless to say I’m still waiting for that tape! Thirty one years later though and in the safe, solitary confines of my van I still sing along (badly) and try (and fail) to hit Morten Harket’s high notes. 

A-ha are my go to answer when the topic of band member longevity is brought up in conversation on the way to a show. Can you name any bands that have been together for say fifteen years and still have the same line up from day one? The only two I can think of are these guys and London hardcore band Knuckledust. It’s a harder task than you suspect.

Star Trekkin’

  

September 8th 1966 saw the crew of NCC-1701 making their first appearance on the NBC network in the United States. Originally it only ran for three seasons before fan power brought back captain James Tiberius Kirk and company back for a movie in 1979. 

In the intervening five decades we’ve had 13 different movies and a further four crews with a fifth due in 2017. I’ve never been a massive Star Trek fan, but I’ve probably watched most, if not all, of the original 79 episodes over the years – and people say some of the sets and aliens in the archetypal British TV sci-fi series Doctor Who were poor! I’m more of a fan of the second incarnation The Next Generation, mainly because it aired on UK TV when I was more aware of all things science fiction and it filled a gap when the BBC pulled the long running Doctor Who from our screens for a brief hiatus in December 1989. 

I hadn’t heard this song for such a long time until it was played on Radio 2 earlier today thanks to the golden anniversary of Star Trek. Star Trekkin’ is one of those songs that I can vividly remember where I heard it for the first time. I was sitting in my friends dad’s car waiting to get off the car park after attending an air show at Cosford RAF base. It was like car crash music, so bad you couldn’t turn it off. Then the video followed…

The Firm were a parody band who had a few comedic “hits” during the 1980’s. This single eventually hit the top of the singles chart for a pair of weeks in June 1987. Oh how us Brits like a comedy song!

Also, they are not to be confused with The Firm who were a much more serious band active for a few years in the mid 80’s consisting of Tony Franklin, Chris Slade, Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page who might have played in such bands as Blue Murder, AC/DC, Free, Queen and Led Zeppelin – so no household names there then. 

Happy birthday to Star Trek and don’t forget – you’ll never be as old as the battered up blue police box that was tucked away in the scrap yard at 76 Trotters Lane, and you’ll never take that away from us. 

   

Woke Up This Morning

Well today’s events didn’t go as planned, due to a perceived lack of interest from the others I was due to be out with today. So instead of attending the Wales Comic Con in Wrexham I’m spending the day trapped inside the four walls of my house watching odd bits of TV programmes, lots of people running around London and meaningless football games, whilst it’s dull and rainy outside.

So let’s do an iPod shuffle….

First song to play from the library is Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3 (or A3 as they are known in the States). It took me a while to think why I even have this song in my iTunes library, then it clicked. The song was used in the Sopranos TV series. I watch probably too much TV when I’m home, but it keeps me out of mischief. I’m still to get into the Sopranos, I got a DVD set of series 1 what seems like years ago, but so far I’ve not progressed past episode 1.

Alabama 3 are a band I know nothing about. Until I had a quick look on Wikipedia I didn’t even know they were from London, I just assumed they must be American, probably from the state of Alabama somewhere. For a band that have been knocking around for a surprising 21 years they’ve not even troubled the UK singles charts. It’s the only song of theirs on my device and I’d be highly surprised if I had the whole album on the PC.

The Shazam app is the second most used app on my phone when I’m watching television after IMDB. The IMDB app is especially handy when you have those “that face looks familiar” moments when you are watching a film it TV show, or Wikipedia if it happens to include “celebrities”. I might hear a song that sounds good, hit rewind open up Shazam and hey presto there’s a new song to track down.

Revenge

Al Jourgensen has been fronting Chicago based band Ministry since the early 1980’s. Last week the band announced another brief UK visit in the summer. So what do you do in the meantime? You listen to some classic Ministry.

Before their farewell tours and prior to Jesus building their hot rod there was the industrial stylings of The Land of Rape and Honey and Twitch. But even before that there was the bands Synthpop era! Yes, the industrial heavy metal titans once sounded like some of the British New Wave bands like New Order, Thompson Twins and Depeche Mode.

I believe this has been wiped from Jourgensen’s memory banks and described as “an abortion”. I’m sure I’m not the only who’s done this, but I brought the CD of With Sympathy by mistake. I’d got the three studio albums prior to the bands 1992 break through release Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs – to give it its full title.

I came across the With Sympathy CD at a local record fair. It said Ministry on it, and I didn’t have it. In the days before you could preview things on Spotify I handed over my cash and took it home. I was in for a bit of a shock when I pressed play and thought I’d got some kind of miss pressing. It never grew on me at the time and I don’t think I even have the disc any longer.

I came across this video whilst I was looking for some “earlier” Ministry videos to post here. I like this album a lot more now than I did when I originally got hold of the CD. I daren’t look how much it could be worth now, hopefully nothing. I’ll rectify this post in the very near future with something pre Psalm 69.


R.I.P. David Bowie

More bad news broke this morning of the passing of David Bowie who’d been suffering privately with cancer for 18 months. It really is bizarre that 47 years after first putting people on the moon we are still no closer to finding a cure for cancer.

Like so many artists around before I was born, or plying their trade while I was young, I’m a bit hit and miss with their bodies of work.

I remember hearing Bowie’s stuff on the radio when the charts were all I knew. An abiding memory is probably from Top Of The Pops and that dire outfit he wore for the video when he did Dancing In The Street with Mick Jagger. When satellite TV came into the house I probably saw more from him on MTV and the “gold” style music channels. From his 111 singles the only track I own a physical version of would be his collaboration with Queen on 1981’s Under Pressure.

Over relative recent years, and as mentioned before in the blog, with the easier accessibility of owning odd songs by artists, I probably have a couple of dozen of his songs in my library that I’ve either picked up on from listening to the radio or connected with via other media, such as Life On Mars? being used in the TV programme of the same name.

One thing that Bowie’s passing has shown compared to that of Lemmy’s less than a fortnight ago is how the metal scene is so insular and we, as metal fans, think it is much bigger and important scene than we’d like to believe. Today’s news in comparison has been like a member to royalty passing. Constant reporting on news channels – rather than a token mention, a special programme on the BBC looking at the life of David Bowie within 12 hours of the news breaking and many more varied and prominent people paying tribute – they’ve even questioned Premier League football manager about his career.

Here’s probably my favourite Bowie tune, Let’s Dance from the album of the same name.