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11 days til Christmas...

I am all flummoxed that my comments aren't working :( Boo you Blogger! However, it seems that it is not just me and is happening all across the land of blogsville. Hopefully it will get sorted soon, so please feel free to continue posting anonymously and just sign it with love. J'Ason D'Luv. (If that is you of course, and for one person reading this now it will be!) Anyway, mercifully I had lots of myspace messages, emails, some comments and even work emails today so I am back from the edge of communicado ignoramus. I even had two good morning phone messages from Mama Zapping – one quite disturbingly telling me how sexy Gary Barlow was on The Royal Variety Show. Oh my. I even had some quite pleasant work emails wishing me yuletide felicitations. Hurrah to the fact that there is only one week of work left before Christmas after tomorrow. And I think I may take next Friday off. Working that close to Christmas Day seems positively heathen…On with the post!!


Normally right about now, I would be writing about how great Guys and Dolls is (it was) and how Nigel Harman is sex on 2 legs (he was). Sadly that was all ruined and suddenly the best of times became the worst of times. it all started off so well...I was outside the Alex Theatre in Birmingham, gazing lovingly at Nige on the poster advertising that Guys and Dolls was opening that night. I was waiting patiently for the lovely Kirsty to arrive and was enjoying the blustering gale that was blowing me from pillar to post (and not in the good furtive under the duvet way!). Suddenly an excessive burst of wind whipped up a (mercifully empty) bin bag which then proceeded to hit me right in the face. I'd like to say I handled it with grace and ease, but instead i ran around screaming like a loon on loon tablets at a loon convention until some kindly old woman pulled if off my face (mmm slimy) and i realised it wasn't a blood sucking alien. Having humiliated myself in front of the quite long line of people waiting to get in, I slinked to my seat and buried my head in a picture of Nige in the programme. Behind us were a rowdy group of girls who were clearly looking forward to the Harmeister... except clearly not that much. As when it started they still carried on talking and laughing and getting their malteasers out of their purse and then dropping them on the floor and then yawning and saying it was boring and they couldn't hear properly. For 30 freaking minutes. When one of them said "oh god why are we here" i could take it no longer - i turned round and practically spat the words out "i think everyone is wondering that - you have done nothing but talk and laugh and chew with your mouths open and yawn and ruin it for everyone. It's like sitting in front of a bunch of socially retarded school girls. I've paid good money for these tickets and i didn't pay it to come and listen to you" To be fair I'm not proud of my outburst and particularly not proud of my socially retarded, but their biggest comeback was "we paid for the tickets too" and continued to grumble through to the break. When the break came they all filed out to go the bar, and one of them said they were sorry for talking but it wasn't polite to call them what i did. I kind of grunted and let it go. Several people went to complain to the ushers and asked them to be vigilant to the noise in the second part of the show.
They came back from the break where they had obviously all been talking about what i said and all 8 of them were well rowdy when they got back. "Which one of youse called us a retard". I had lost the will to live by this point so I as politely as I could explained that i didn't call them retards i said they were socially retarded and had ruined the first half for everyone around them. Then one of them said I wouldn't be so brave if 'er 'usband were around. I told her I frankly found it astounding that she had a husband and wouldn't be surprised if the poor hen pecked fool was currently packing his bags to make a quick getaway. Then the music started up and I clearly had aggravated the situation as they all then sat and yawned excessively and said they weren't allowed to talk! Then about 5 minutes in they all stood up and had an argument about whether they should leave or not (and still the ushers did nothing!). Ultimately they did decide to leave in a non quiet disorderly fashion. By then I was too aggravated to enjoy the show, although I have to say I know I would have enjoyed it because it very nearly did make me forget towards the end and seemed highly enjoyable. Curse those soulless witches!!
LINK: Purchase tickets for Guys and Dolls

The Royal Variety Performance is always a bit hit and miss, isn't it? You could end up with some dodgy of-the-moment fly by night act doing their best to pretend they belong (Peter and Jordan I mean you!) or you could have moments of inspired brilliance like last year when Catherine Tate asked the Queen if she was "bovvered". Marv. Luckily I taped this years so could fast forward through the dodgy bits and get to the good, the good, the great and the outstanding. The two goods were the cast of Sound of Music doing My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Mi. It seemed weird not having Julie Andrews singing it, but it's hard to screw up that musical so I still have high hopes. Also Jamelia joined Meatloaf (meatloaf and jam – ew?) to do the Cher bit of Dead Ringer for Love and proved that she is possibly the most relevant solo female singer in England right now. The great were my lovely take that doing a fairly straight forward version of Patience and a lovely performance of the classic Pray (above, part two here...)complete with choir and dodge dance moves. It was like being in 1994 (ie the music was glorious but Gary still can't dance)…


And then there was the cast of Wicked performing One Short Day and then Defying Gravity, complete with requisite flying bit. I'm not sure those two choices of songs would have made people who didn't know about it want to go and see it, but they certainly reminded me of how bloody amazing it is and I got goosebumps all over my body. Plus it was introduced by Adam Garcia and my senses can only take so many hunky men in one week – Adam, Nige, DazPerfect, etc… And I had no soulless witches behind to ruin it for me. Ruiners ;)

It's strange to think that two of my more preferred singer-songwriter albums of the early 00's were purchased on the same day on a whim after seeing adverts for them in the then god-like Heat magazine. I hadn't heard the music, I just felt like buying something that wasn't Steps, S Club or Blue for a change ;) The first was Nerina Pallot's Dear Frustrated Superstar (because I liked the title). The second, and subject of this post, was Tom Baxter's Feather and Stone (I can't really remember why). I do remember, however, wanting to find a male singer song-writer who wasn't as ubiquitous as David Gray or as depressing as Damien Rice. Tom fit the bill nicely, and obviously it didn't hurt that he was unconventionally quite rogue-ishly handsome too ;) Lead off single This Boy and follow up My Declaration did exactly what singles should do – showcase the style and content of it's parent album while providing a great tune for people to listen too. The sound is one of acoustic guitar with Tom's distinct vocal layering over the top of it to a pleasing effect. Songs like 'Don't Let Go' and 'A Day In Verona' are infused with emotion and passion – and boast piano melodies that are the underlying vehicle for Tom's voice. The songs flow together both musically and lyrically, with no filler, only strong memorable tunes. The biggest benefit from this album is that unlike many singer song-writers' work, it is quite a positive and uplifting set of songs, laced with the right amount of introspection for those brooding moments. Tom apparently is currently working on a second album, and is – hey! – touring with Nerina Pallot in January. Ruthiepoos and I are SO there…And God bless him, some guilt free downloads from his Tuscany sessions are still available on his website :)
LINK: Tom Baxter's myspace page/official home page
LINK: purchase Tom Baxter's Feather and Stone cd
LINK: Guilt free download "the Tuscany sessions" (4 tracks)
MP3: Tom Baxter – This Boy
MP3: Tom Baxter - Whole Of The Moon
I realised after typing up the majority of this bit that somehow a post about a comment Jamelia made about Leona X-Factor somehow turned into a post about Trey Lorenz. My mind has always worked in mysterious ways ;) So here is what I wrote… Apparently the X-Factor judges have taken offence at a comment Jamelia made about future winner Leona sounding like Mariah Carey circa 1990. The judges responded in typically mature manner from Sharon saying she didn't know who Jamelia was (she's the female singer who was able to sustain a career unlike your daughter, love!) to Simon saying she only had one hit (would that be Superstar? Or Thank You? Or See It Through A Boys Eyes? Or Something About You? Or Beware Of The Dog??) Personally I fail to see why this comment was considered an insult. Mariah circa 1990 was when I fell completely in love with her and she went on to produce such soul-pop classics as Vision of Love, Someday, Emotions and Make It Happen. It was just the right balance of pop sensibility mixed with old school soul emotion – before it got all tainted by hip hop and rap… One of Mariah's stand out tracks at that time was I'll Be There, a duet with Trey Lorenz. Trey was pretty much the male version of Mariah – he quickly knocked out a solo album that was filled with smooth silky pop-soul stylings such as Someone To Hold and Just To Be Close To You. He even had a quite lovely festive song on some compilation album. And then nothing. Perhaps this type of music was out of date and I wasn't moving with the times. I certainly moved on from Mariah, and even her Emancipation couldn't draw me back in. But suddenly Trey is back with his sophomore album, 14 years later! Mimi presents Mr Mista is an independent release that sounds like it was done on a budget…Mariah is featured on a couple of songs, but mainly in the background. Pieces is an almost duet that is a pretty good track but lacks the magic touch of Someone To Hold or I'll Be There. Where the album does shine is in it's insistence to bypass current craving for r'n'b to be totally hip hopped and rapped out. It is almost a tribute to the likes of Al Green and Bill Withers. There is a classic feel not seen today on many r'n'b hitmakers songs. Sometimes pop has to go backwards to move forwards, and if this is any indication, in terms of great soul classics, that is no bad thing…
LINK: Buy Trey Lorenz's Mr. Mista cd
MP3: Trey – Someone To Hold (featuring Mariah) (1992)
MP3: Trey – Just To Be Close To You (featuring Mariah) (1992)
MP3: Trey - My Younger Days (Christmas song)
MP3: Trey – Pieces (featuring Mariah) (2006)
BONUS MP3: Sam Moore – Only Make Believe (featuring Mariah) (2006)
As I was listening to Play's Christmas album on the way to work this morning on my lovely new archos, I started to wonder why I liked it a whole lot more than the technically better Girls Aloud Christmas effort. I mean, Girls Aloud effort sounds more recent, more relevant; it has more original songs on that are actually quite good; the cover is the most amazing cover on a festive album this side of Bette's Cool Yule. Yet Play is still better – and it's because they absolutely and totally embrace the concept of Christmas. It sounds fun and jolly and exciting to be at a Play Christmas party. With Girls Aloud there is always that feeling of being a bit aloof from it because actually it's not down with the slutty cool image to be doing this. Play have some disco-pop versions of Christmas faves like Sleigh Ride and As Long As There's Christmas, but mix it up with some fervent hymns like O Holy Night and songs that sound like they are in a 40s musical like Let it Snow. The shift between styles works well and only adds to the fun quota. I'm continually sad that Play no longer make music, but with perky stuff like this to look back on, it's a Christmas gift just to remember…
DOWNLOAD: The Play Christmas album zip
~ Arjan has the news that Pet Shop Boys are remixing the next Killers single Read My Mind. That should make D'Luv and XO happy. Plus he has some free downloads of Amy Winehouse songs. Whatever - i haven't forgiven her for describing something as "gay" (in a derogatory way) in Attitude. Silly cow.
~ Did anyone doubt that Jessica's run down of her favourite songs of the year would anything but the epitomy of eclectic pop cool?
~ We want to know how Rob(o)pop is coping with his mom staying over! Is it all cookie dough and braiding each other's hair? :) Hurry back Mr Pop!
~ Not one but two bloggers have perspectives on age today. The always elequoent Freddy details being in his 30s while the always adorable Dan examines his relatives getting older...
~ Sounds of Sweden have some great alternatives to all the english/american festive tunes floating around - on the day we chose to post Play! How serendipitous ;) We could kiss them in a platonic with tongues manner...
~ Xo has an aces post with some career advice for popstars. It makes my careers advice clinics look like a piece of crap ;) Sigh!
~ Happy Birthday to the sexalicious (probably) I'm always Right website. And it nearly always is ;) YAY!
~ Excellent commentary throughout an infuriating Daily Mail article about some silly old coots who want to be a lesbian couple. Or same as a lesbian couple. Or something. But can't Be. Because they are sisters. Read it! It's over at Dan's project!
~ Blogging can get very complicated when there are two excellent Dans and two lovely Jessicas. Poptastic Jessica has some news on the RBD album that i fell in love with in Gran Canaria and am so going to post about when I can find what i wrote about it!
~ Is it very wrong that I am loving the full band version of Nick Lachey's Resolution: Most fab. Ish. Anyway thanks to Johnny Li for that :)
~ Best songs of 2001 and 2002 over at the spinoff blog!
COMING SOON: a very ally christmas, my top 21 tunes of the week; new myspace talent; a cabaret boy band?!; some more should've beens; some more greatest hits done right; a perfect months in pop retrospecticus; Something Deb Gibson related; the zapping online christmas card and probably lots more...


  1. Anonymous said...
    You know you can't post something about Gareth without expecting me to comment on it ;) How little does he look in that video? His hair would get so much better in the next year or two. I think his cover of "Suspicious Minds" is pretty fun (well, on the album, at least...not so sure about this one--the dancers sure had a lot to do, though!). The McFly performance was great, though (I don't think I'd actually seen them perform live before)--they are such amazing musicians. It's so funny how you can date them by their hair, though--Tom's brown hair immediately gives it away! McFly and Gareth, and now Take That (who were adorable in that clip)--clearly, this is an event I'm going to have to pay more attention to!

    I really like the Tom Baxter songs (especially "This Boy")! And I'd never heard of him before.

    The gall of those girls! What were they thinking?!

    -PG (once again, as if it wasn't obvious :) )
    Rose said...
    I love that McFly performance, one of my favourites.

    I'm with you, how is Jamelia's comment an insult? Mariah was and still is amazing. I'm not a fan of Trey but I have heard his songs with Mariah. Did you know Pieces was meant to be released in 2000? I love Mariah's high notes but I can't stand them on 'It's Only Make Believe' Mariah sounds out of place on that song.

    Thanks for Play's Christmas CD
    Paul said...
    PPG - its best to just youtube it as there is a LOT of dross in the royal variety performances. The beauty is now you can look up who was on at the bbc website and youtube away. Hurrah. but yes, the that were just lovely. Pray is the perfect pop song! And i will have to zip Tom's album for you. It's great :) and yes! Those bloody girls - and even in the middle of the row the curse of blogger struck again as my mind thought " i should give you beasts my website address so you can feel my wrath verbally tomorrow as well!!" :)

    Rose - we love it when you call ;) It's weird that any comparison to early mariah is thought of as an insult. Oh you remind me of a female singer who went on to be hugely successful and sell millions of records. Take the burn! (or something - my street lingo isn't what it used to be!!)

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