heard on the wire

Remember the lesson of Take That

In my previous musical musing, I dismissed a swathe of musical royalty whose undoubted accomplishments sit uncomfortably in my ears. Now I’m turning my attention to artists cherished by many but which I generally scorn or at best tolerate: Abba, ELO, the Scissor Sisters and Take That.

My response to hearing these four ranges from irritation to outright hostility, but as is usually the case in our dialectical world, things are never that simple. Each, in their own small way, has something to offer even the most belligerent.

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Chicken with bacon, sage and onions


I’m not quite sure how I came upon this method for cooking chicken pieces, but I’m very glad I did. It’s not particularly quick — though much faster than roasting a whole bird — but it is easy and delicious.

You will need a pan that can go into the oven, or a casserole dish that can sit on the hob.

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I want to be in a band when I get to heaven

A recent discussion on Twitter today about the relative merits, or otherwise, of The Verve and Radiohead led me to thinking about other critically or commercially acclaimed bands whose appeal is entirely lost on me.

The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, The Who, David Bowie and Pink Floyd, to mention just a few, excite me about as much as a ready meal. It’s not that I don’t think they’re great artists — clearly they are — I just don’t like them.

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Hurrying to the spoil, he has made haste to the plunder

It’s been a while since this blog featured anything by the greatest band of all time and a rainy afternoon in Brussels is as good a time as any to put that right.

Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division’s first LP, a magnificent work that has arguable only ever been bettered by the band’s magnum opus, Closer. It contains the greatest song of all time, New Dawn Fades, as well as the astounding Day of the Lords and Shadowplay.

By name and by nature, the latter tends to overshadow the subsequent track, but Wilderness is one of the band’s great understated moments, complete with one of Ian Curtis’s most brutal, laid-bare lyrics.

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John Peel is not enough

John Peel

In 2004, CLSM produced and released the single John Peel (Is Not Enough). The lyrical content of the track expressed the dismay that John Peel was the only BBC Radio 1 DJ to play hard dance music as part of his show. The track and further remixes were not only big hits in the clubs but the name of the track was used for a BBC one-off show featuring John Peel showcasing modern Hardcore music — a BBC radio first at the time.

The record sparked a campaign including the biggest petition at the time on the BBC’s own iCan site. The success of the petition and communication resulted in meetings with Radio 1. In 2005, DJ Kutski was given a monthly show on rotation with other DJs. In October 2008, Kutski was given a weekly show on Radio 1, drawing the ‘John Peel campaign’ to a successful conclusion.¹

Which just goes to show you can’t trust Wikipedia, the record was released in 2003².

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An Easter salad

Easter salad

Belgians do like their vegetables on the pale side. Whether it’s the ubiquitous, all-year-round chicon, witloof in Flemish, or, in spring, white asparagus.

With a more delicate flavour than its green cousin, white asparagus does not stand up well to prolonged cooking. Better to blanche it in boiling water until just tender, then cool rapidly in a bowl of iced water, before seasoning with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt crystals.

Otherwise this salad is as you see it, the skinned tomatoes dressed with torn basil, the eggs boiled until the yolk has just set (six minutes, using Delia’s method), torn San Daniele ham and a few watercress sprigs, all finished with sea salt and olive oil.

Bon appetit.

I prefer the cherry

According to my good friend @L0fth0use, today is Remix Thursday, which would normally send me scurrying for the fast forward button.

Remixes, more often than not, are a surefire way of making a record sound worse. Though New Order spent the best part of 20 years trying to prove me wrong, I remain convinced that handing a carefully crafted record over to a producer or DJ to do with what they will is a recipe for shite.

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Is this the blues I’m singing?

The Gallagher brothers have been responsible for so much ordinary music in the past 15 years or so that it’s easy to forget that for a brief, heady time, Oasis were the future of English rock ’n’ roll. Unfortunately that future was one of “more of the same” but for a brief period they bestrode the musical stratosphere.

That brief period was the week running up to christmas 1994, between the releases of the band’s first LP, the uneven but at times mightily impressive Definitely Maybe, and its more commercial and hugely successful sequel, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?.

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Let’s run away and join the circus


This photo was inspired by my good cyber friend, Bitrot, aka @pigonwheels, with a nod to Andreas Gursky. It reminds me of summer evenings in Switzerland, staring at the blue sky, watching the birds and waiting for the spectacular storms to circle in from the north and west, but could have been taken almost anywhere.

I’m glad that I didn’t title the picture; somehow IMG_0009 seems apt. It’s a name that hangs on doubtless tens of thousands of digital pics, as anonymous and ubiquitous as the image itself.

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heard on the wire 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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