smithsocksimon

Shoot ’em in the back now

Harry Styles Ramones t-shirt

I harbour too many irrational prejudices. Really, why do vegetarians, tattoos, comfortable shoes, unpolished shoes, men in hoodies, comic books (as opposed to comics), ill-fitting jeans and DSLRs in the hands of amateurs annoy me so much?

The presence of any of them neither inconveniences me nor otherwise diminishes the quality of my life, but still…

I’m learning to control my pique and hide my distaste, but it’s not easy. And it’s most difficult when I see a Ramones t-shirt.

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Why d’you feel the need to rant and rave?

Polish postage stamps

Dear John Peel,

Nothing pleases me more, really, than to get a letter from a real fan and here’s—it would be embarrassing to him to give his full name—but Anthony of Finchley.

And he says, “For me, your programme achieves the dubious accolade of being just about the worst music programme I’ve ever heard. What a horrible, brain-jarring, nerve-rending load of pish. Is this the cream of the crop? Is this the best there is? Have you ever heard of the term ‘beauty’ or how about ‘joyfull’ or try ‘uplifting’? An awful, awful programme.”

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Slam dance the cosmopolis

Airline

Some bands go on and on, churning out record after record, selling millions, flying the world in private jets, filling stadiums. Others go quietly about their business, putting smiles on the faces of the few lucky enough to hear their music. These aren’t the bands you’ll hear on daytime radio—you’re lucky to hear them on nighttime radio these days—and who’ll never to get to join Jools for the jam sketch.

They may leave a substantial legacy, like the recently retired Ace Bushy Striptease, or they may just leave a handful of songs that can only leave us thinking what might have been.

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You complain about the mice, but you never clean your kitchen

Tappa Zukie

I like to think of the words in this blog as the equivalent of those little descriptions that you get when you buy a box of chocolates. They may tease, listing fillings and flavours; they may warn—beware of the praline; but they can only hint at the joys that lie beneath the surface of each morsel.

Life, you see, is a carefully curated blog post.

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Benfica still went through

Eusebio

There are worse ways of spending a Saturday than drinking beer in the sun with best friends. Especially when that takes place at a free music festival taking place in some of Newcastle’s best pubs, culminating in an underneath-the-arches performance by Martha.

Durham’s finest’s new LP, Counting Strong, is unquestionably one of the year’s best records and just happens to contain the track top of my Sisyphean list of songs that need to be blogged sometime soon.

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There’s a noise on the wire

Surveillance

There’s something essentially comforting about travelling the flatlands of the east of England by train, the apparently endless vistas broken only by pylons and cooling towers. It’s a landscape where the gentle triumphs over the majestic, where you’ll never hear a gasp of wonder but find, instead, the space and time to occasionally close your eyes and let your chosen music wash over and through you.

Unfortunately, the database on my iPod classic is corrupted, a catastrophe (of sorts—let’s retain a little perspective) that can’t be resolved until I can reunite it with its iTunes in a few hours’ time.

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I don’t know my elbow from my arse

Divide

It’s been almost 30 years since I last went into an English school classroom. From September I’ll be training to do it everyday, which means this blog may move from irregular to hiatus.

So while I still have both the time and the energy, what better subject could there be for a post than school itself, a recurring topic in the rock ’n’ pop canon, whether it’s Pink Floyd proving, however ironically, that a little education goes a long way or Alice Cooper tediously banging on about blowing school to pieces?

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I’m lost in a world of digital sound

Pronit

Metal music, in all its multifarious incarnations, is a strange beast, lurching from the unlistenable to the uninhabitable, from the incoherent to the, well, even more incoherent.

And it’s not something that bothers me too often; there’s only so much a tattoo-free, short-haired, undenimmed 40–something-year-old man can listen to. Then something like this comes along.

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The grapes that went ripe in the sun

Braun4

Four is the only number that has the same number of characters, in English, as its value, a fact so useless that it deserves to be in the opening paragraph of four’s Wikipedia entry—and with dodgy syntax to boot.

There are four gospels, four horsemen of the apocalypse, four elements and four books in James Ellroy’s LA Quartet. In cricket, contrast the elegance of a beautifully-timed four with the crudity of a six, while football gives us the balanced symmetry of the back four.

Rock ’n’ pop music couldn’t exist without four. It’s timing, it’s the audio controls on a hi-fi and it’s the classic line up: voice, guitar, bass and drums. There were four Beatles, four in the Clash, four in Joy Division and New Order, four Smiths (most of the time) and Four Tops.

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Everybody ready? Let’s go 1, 2, 3!

Lithium 3

This song means something
Every song means something

According to a Latin adage, everything that comes in threes is perfect. Two’s company, three’s a crowd, according to anyone trying to get rid of unwanted company.

All of which is little help when we assess the part that the number three has played in the history of rock ’n’ pop. Unlike one and two, it plays no part in the soundcheck and while most music fans can name a favourite chart topper or runner-up, few recall a beloved hit parade bronze medalist.

And rare is the drummer who counts one, two, three before launching into the next song. Unless four is “Go!”. Ado has three letters and without further of it…

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smithsocksimon is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.

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All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.