Combining O, for the A to Z Challenge, with my normal Monday music-related ‘Rock Notes’, we are drawn ineluctably to the simple yet potent phrase ‘One, Two, Three, Four’.

The count-off – “Fellas, can I count it off?” – has on occasion been elevated to a special place of importance within records (James Brown’s Sex Machine, as quoted above). Many variants have occurred down the years. ‘Five, six seven, eight’. Mixing it up linguistically, with ‘Uno, dos, tres, cuatro,’ as used by the divine S’Express, for s’example. ‘Uno, dos, tres, catorce,’ U2 not only mixing it up linguistically but numerically, with the ’14’ signifying the precise number of people who heard that song’s count-off and didn’t hate it.

However, none of these start with O, and so today that means that we have to turn, of course, to the undisputed President of Count-Offs; Count Offula: the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Not just one but TWO count-offs. OK, the ‘four’ seems a little lost in the flood, but, y’know, you have to be able to really count to take such liberties. The count-off before the final verse (“The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive…”), every single time I hear this song in any context, causes me extensive goosebumps. Hey ho, rock n roll, deliver me from nowhere.

You too can learn the way of the count-off. Here’s a Springsteen tutorial.

‘Hut! Hoo! Hee! Hoa!’

B is for Bruce.

The Birthday Book has this quotation:
“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.”
– Robert Herrick

This sparked – HA! –  me thinking of Bruce Springsteen’s immortal Dancing in the Dark, and then – of course – his back catalogue rendered in 17th Century styles (‘This tale/a vale/does hail:/Ah me!/Mary,/the lea…’ ‘Upon Mary’s Dress’,  ‘To the Bootleggers, To Roll of their Tapes’, etc).

Then Bruce popped up in the news, dancing with his mum at a gig. I’ve thought he’s awesome since I was 9, and he’s still here, still going, still awesome.

Some more Springsteen to close below. Just need to mention that this post was almost set for yesterday, April 1st. I had a riff on the REM lyric (End of the world as we know it), apparently inspired by a dream about being at a party where everyone had the initials LB:

Leonard Bernstein,
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!

Right? Right. Except in my April Fool’s conceit of getting the letters wrong, and it not being true, it was people called BS – Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Sterling, Ben Stiller, Bill Stewart…)

Ultimately I decided against it, partly on the grounds of becoming personally confused by the concept (“So, is this going to be the actual A to Z post, or just a joke post?”), and mostly because I just wanted it to be all Bruce S.s… then it was pretty much straight away all Bruce.

K-Bruce, my FM station. “All Bruce! All the time!”

And a 1, a 2, a 1, 2, 3, 4.

Today I received the FX pedal from Online Second Hand Purchase Site. The missing piece of the guitar set-up. Now officially ready to rock.


Here’s the pedal, an MXR M78:


Station. The manual revealed Dunlop/MXR employs copy writers with a dry little sense of humour. I can’t wait to get it plugged in and sample the ’90s alternative sound – Smells Like Flannel Angst’.

If there’s one guitar sound from 1978 I always wanted to replicate, it would be this one:

[Cut to me sausage fingering my way through the solo to ‘Teen Spirit’]

To be continued. Meanwhile, be excellent to yourselves… (Diddly-iddly-eee!)

Hello pop pickers!

Our belov’d daughter began toddling about around the end of last year. She’s taking delight in exploration, seeing which items respond to chewing, folding, tearing, clambering. She is a great help in moving objects from one part of a room to another part of the room, or occasionally a different room. Items that need storing safely can be found in the bin with ease.

She also likes to dance, frugging enthusiastically to a selection of styles, from the radio and other recorded media.

Our front room has some shelves of records. Not a vast collection, but quality not quantity, etc.


Astute readers might have seen where this is heading…

For, indeed, among the toddling one’s newest amusements (hers and ours) is to pick a particular platter from the shelves and convey it to the turntable across the room, ready to be played. I mean, I’m not making any claims that she’s the new Grand Mixer DXT, just to be clear about the little indigo snowflake. There’re probably quite a few interpretations of the successful methods of selection – random, slippy sleeves, so on – and there’s a fair bit of dropping the disks en route… She has at least got the whole ‘records -> record player’ thing down. Give a doting dad that much.

Last weekend’s choices:

They Might Be Giants – Lincoln


A fine collection, featuring fantastic tunes with deft lyrics, such as Ana Ng (“I don’t want the world, I just want your half.”) and the devastating They’ll Need A Crane (“There’s a restaurant we should check out where the other nightmare people like to go – I mean nice people, baby wait, I didn’t mean to say nightmare.” GENIUS.)

It also has the creepy also genius of Where Your Eyes Don’t Go (“You’re free to come and go or talk like Kurtis Blow but there’s a pair of eyes in back of your head.”)

In the same session, our DJ picked out Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love, and made her way over to the turntable. That’s my girl!


(“I got something on my mind/that sets me walking straight and proud/and I want all the time/all that heaven will allow.”)

I promise this is a relatively recent innovation, and I’m not withholding hundreds of selections of a rogue Mike Love album, sort of like those incredible basketball shots on YouTube that take 354,000 goes before finally coming off. She did have a bit of an eye for a terrible Dolly Parton LP for a short while, although I suspect that was all about the mem-mems.


The possibility of capturing all this DJ action on film has occurred to me, but a) there’s the awareness it’d be a bit ‘You’ve Been Framed’ cheesy and b) it’d have to be done super sneakily anyway because she’s moving faster and faster by the day. It’ll be Anthrax, Motorhead and Squarepusher before we know it.

Anyway – keep it locked on Toddler FM for more hand-selected classic vinyl sounds!

Station ident: DJ Little Pumpkin, now being picked up.

I wasn’t kidding when I suggested that Civilization II was a menace to one’s productivity (which is down, so I suggest building a Factory). It has now been uninstalled, and normal life can resume. Let us never speak of it again.

Friday last, 22nd June 2012, to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, UK, to watch Bruce Spingsteen and the E Street Band.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the high esteem in which I hold The Boss. You might wish to cast an eye over this post, part of the interminable “25 albums that changed my life” series, on Born in the USA or the one about The Big Man, the late Clarence Clemons. If you’re on the Mortal Bath homepage, you could also click on the ‘hey ho rock n roll deliver me from nowhere’ tag, a Bruce quote that serves as one of my enduring prayers.

We arrived in a moderate fluster about five minutes after he was supposed to start, realised he hadn’t, sauntered in, grabbed a beer, made our way down to the pitch, looked around a bit and then he came on pretty much immediately. Timing’s everything. Venuewise, the stadium is a big prefab-looking number, everything one might expect from a building sponsored by an airline, with all the warm permanence of a concession stand in a Departure Lounge. Nice lines, just a bit plastic-looking.

Bruce, and the E Street Band, are more durable. With a combined age of about 10,500, they still played for pretty much three and a half hours. This is standard – they managed four and a half at a gig in Madrid. Watching the BBC’s Hackney Weekend festival footage over the weekend after, I was hard pushed to name more than about three artists that might be capable of or inclined to doing the same thing. Different ball parks, perhaps different leagues, perhaps not even the same sports.

Ah, look, anyway, Bruce was great. Sincerely uplifting, as a collective experience and as a personal experience. I couldn’t believe no one else around me was as excited that they played The E Street Shuffle!

Maybe they were, they just didn’t shriek with joy and do the Snoopy dance for 10 minutes.

The only thing I can add to any of this is a couple of clips, 20 minutes of performance, filmed by YouTube users LucyMearns and Outrightunlawful – thanks to whom for their sterling work. It’s all here: crowd dancing, James Brown-esque faux-fatigue, panto cameo by Miami Steve and his Magic Sponge, triumphant shirt removal, beautifully judged tribute to Clarence… oh, and two pretty amazing songs.

“Bootleggers! Roll your tapes!”

…and Hey ho, rock n roll! Delivering us from nowhere.

Caveat: it is not without wariness that I appropriate song lyrics, movie quotes & titles. To an extent, all word juggling is a weird sort of magical allusion. And it comes about that some words which seem piddling and insignificant or irrelevant lead me through to different areas of understanding. My understanding of the universe I’m in has been partly shaped through different authors, musicians, groups, soloists, films… emotions affected, nuance added to emotion, pictures sharpened or obscured. They all make as much sense as each other in different ways. Shots trombone: I find I catch sight of myself imitating in crazy mirrors, strutting or bent sinister in 5D. There are always further reflections to be found, and one might never be able to account for all the implications. Crazy mirrors…

You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t, rise above.

Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of love

‘Ten years asleep’ is, however, not a Bruce lyric. It’s a song by Kingmaker. Kingmaker was a pre-Britpop band from Kingston upon Hull, chewed up and stuck flat to the pavement by the mid-1990s. I saw them support The Wonder Stuff in 1991, 20 years ago this December. They were not a bad band. Paul D. Heaton, of The Beautiful South, and also a Kingston-upon-Hullion, saw them as middle-class chancers from suburban castles. I would tend to agree that there was an element of the student/indie disco irritant about them, but what their address has to do with anything is beside the by. Perhaps a similar gleam of clever-clever bitterness momentarily threatened Heaton’s industry.

True Pop Anecdote: a personal experience of Paul Heaton. I was working in a hotel bar in 1994, serving him a gin & tonic with Becks chaser at 10.30am, and he invited me out for a drink with him and pals when I finished. I arrived at Bairds Bar in the Gallowgate around 14.00 in time to see him being carried out, paralytic, by two of the crew. My pints of lager were supped with a more together companion of his. Make what you will of that metaphor for the working-class artistic burden.

Anyway, I remember reading that the Kingmaker song ‘Ten Years Asleep’ was written as a comment on the preceding decade of Conservative government, the co-opting of 1970s punks into The MANagement, the gleeful abandonment of a society identified as non-existent by Mrs Thatcher, the triumph of the brutes. ‘Don’t pretend to care when you don’t care,’ it suggested that lamentations were meaningless if a society was just going through the motions, if complicity was commonplace.

Of course, of course, the point is, I was reminded of this track by hearing and reading nothing all week but ‘ten years on’ themed pieces. The ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the USA, specifically the passenger jets flown into the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon, as well as the loss of a flight presumed headed for the White House. I haven’t wanted to join in the mass of commentary, of remembrance and application of meaning and justification. This is partly because I have communicated my thoughts in other places over the years since then, in anti-war pamphlets, blogs and such. It is partly because I thought it would be superfluous. What can I add?

It was a fucking shame, excuse my Anglo Saxon, that so many people died, it always is a shame, as it is a shame that so many more thousands have died since in wars fought to no good purpose but for national leaders to be seen to be doing something about something about which nothing can be done, not by perpetual war.

I said this on the day in 2001, in fact, and I recall because I wrote it down: ‘There’ll be a horrible bloody revenge attack on someone, when they could be turning the other cheek.’ Rising above. By which I meant not doing nothing, but inviting dialogue, finding out why and what for and what could be done to stop it. Perhaps spending military budget money on building bridges, I mean, actual bridges, or schools, perhaps, perhaps getting into actually unbelievable levels of debt doing nice stuff, for example.

However, there was no cheek turning, just a continuation of the previous decades’ posturing and out of focus ideologies. Hearing G.W. Bush today talking about God, as if it helps give him gravity, and Blair in a BBC interview surfacing to offer the demented view that his foreign policy actions have had no impact on people worldwide… I wonder about that failure of logic, the absence of even a smidgen of understanding of words meaning peace, hope, love, the same as I wonder about any people who try to justify murder and vicious attack. I wonder… well, I read somewhere – I am having trouble sourcing the quote – that Christopher Hitchens, who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, criticised those opposing the wars as the kind of people who, on discovering a poisonous snake in their child’s room, would first call People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). I like to think of myself as the kind of person who would not respond to such a discovery by setting fire to the rest of the house.

It is unfortunate that these are the first things that come to my mind, that this is a world that’s been ten years asleep, having nightmares of planes slamming into buildings and war without end, bitterness without resolution, people believing everything that people tell them about what must be done, that things must be done, that people must be told. I think this is part of the reason why I have become a teacher. I wanted to encourage people to think for their selves, to understand and to question words, so the people that want to burn down the house cannot sustain forever a monopoly on running things.

All I can add today: peace.

Dismal news very early this morning on the passing of Clarence Clemons.

I would say ‘Rest in Peace’, but I think a heart-breaking, earth-quaking, string-raking, noise-making send off would be more appropriate. Today I have been enjoying repeated goosebumps at the sax breaks in Prove It All Night, Badlands, Born to Run, 10th Avenue Freeze Out, Jungleland, etc, etc, etc, and being thankful I got to see the Big Man performing with the E-Street Band twice.

As I noted in a very early post (and I will complete that project, swear down):

My favourite song on ‘Born in the USA’ is No Surrender, which might neatly encapsulate my feelings about music in general: ‘We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school.’ 1-2-3-4!

To which I add that although I’m pretty sure I never learned about the Dreikaiserbund from a three minute record, since I first heard them I *understood* Miami Steve, Bruce and Clarence as some sort of mystic trinity, three kings bringing rock gifts from afar to personally save me. I tip my hat.

    This is part of an expansion on a ’25 albums that changed your life’ thread that some people were doing on Facebook. I posted the original list knowing that I would be self-compelled eventually to explain what led to the inclusion of particular albums… Halfway through writing, it seemed like the most atrocious bit of self-indulgent twattery, as of that supreme wittering lister Nick Hornby, but then it occurred to me that I wasn’t actually that bothered about being derivative, as he’s essentially wrong about all the music that he discusses in 31 Songs, particularly Teenage Fanclub, and particularly because he was merely one foaming droplet on a cresting, some might say crashing, wave of pop academia from the late 20th Century.

    Anyway, that bit of absurd pretzel-argued self-examination/ justification concluded, I pressed on, in the knowledge that writing about music you love is fine of itself, if anything is worth writing about. I was quite tickled by some of the ideas and memories that stirred while I was compiling the list. They seemed, at least partially, worth writing about. Either that or you can read the whole list and substitute the word ‘arse’ for the noun of your choice in the title.

The first five albums on a mainly chronological (order of first encounter) list:

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Born in the USA

Arse in the USAI think this was the first album I ever got hold of, a Christmas tape present for nine year old me. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s (note Springsteenish confessional aside tone throughout), this album and me connected. This was because it represented America, the home of The A-Team, burgers, Superman, rock ‘n’ roll, the Fonz, Knight Rider, and the promise of future dreams and mysteries – movies and music, cars and girls, highways stretching sea to shining sea.
I loved the songs, the guitars and sax and vocals, pianos and drums, the audible camaraderie of the musicians, and the adult themes of love, friendship and longing. Years later, as I matured and politics, awareness and real life intruded, it became possible and appropriate to hear the regret, the bitterness and the dismay at opportunities slipping away, or perhaps never having been presented, the way friendships (“Buon viaggio mi fratelli, Little Steven”, from the sleeve) can change, dwindle.

Springsteen is far more complex than a lot of people give him any credit for. Anyone who still thinks title song ‘Born in the USA’ is dumb-ass patriotic has never listened to it. It is Unbelievably Shitting Angry. The easily-parodied rasp of Springsteen is part of a deliberate, full tilt howl against the narrator’s American nightmare. The protagonists in the songs are convicts, unemployed construction workers, ex-marines, people whose love affairs have gone wrong, people tied to their past. The locales are sun blasted highways in the shadows of prisons, refineries, railroads, slowly-expiring small towns full of whitewashed windows and vacant stores.

Yet this was baseball-capped-off with big singles covered in synths, huge stadia appearances and rippling biceps, from a formerly skinny beardy pup (I later came to note). Use of Steroids America, perhaps, like the contemporaneous Rocky IV. The glossy, shop window jeans covered album was in stark contrast to the dark, dark ‘Nebraska’, (again, this came later, and is a bit of an in joke with some of my pals, who I tease for owning the only Bruce Springsteen record hipsters like). Nebraska was downbeat and done mainly by Bruce on a 4-track, but it was written at the same time as Born in the USA and, so Bruce lore has it, was nearly given the hard rock treatment instead.

Instead, we got the full Sousa marching band version, Rushmore buttocks in Levi’s, signifiers of Bruce presenting his entire ass to the world to kiss or kick for what he was about to deliver. Then, indeed, Springsteen seemed to bestride the world like a denim-clad colossus for a number of years. I said to a pal of mine in the early nineties, ‘How can you not like the Boss?’, to which he rejoined dryly ‘Yeah, have you ever had a boss you liked?’ ‘Born in the USA’ had become a millstone, onerous, something that people associated, perhaps erroneously, with all things Amerikkka.

It was definitely something that sent Springsteen, I think it can be convincingly argued, into a familiar artistic long, dark teatime of the soul. He sacked his mates in the E-Street Band and went it alone, popping out a few albums of slender worth. Happily, for those of us who still care, Bruce is reborn… reuniting with the E-Street Band, responding to the symbolic death of New York that took place on 11th September 2001 (which definitively vanquished the persona of the American entrepreneurial chancer, getting by with a smile and ‘$200’, portrayed on ‘Darlington County’: “Girl you’re looking at two big spenders; why, the world don’t know what me and Wayne might do. Our Pas each own one of the World Trade Centers, for a kiss and a smile I’ll give mine all to you…”, a song illustrating that even at his most populist, Bruce is slyly digging around weightier themes than cars and girls…)

He is now, if you will, the Asbury Phoenix, stepping up in front of a sooty flag to rock ‘n’ roll, yes, and flog albums, but also to talk, confessional-style, about the USA, and ‘things that are happening here that should not happen here’, just as he does all over this album. My favourite song on ‘Born in the USA’ is No Surrender, which might neatly encapsulate my feelings about music in general: ‘We learned more from a three miniute record than we ever learned in school.’ 1-2-3-4!

2. Status Quo – 12 Gold Bars

12 gold arsesJust to get this out of the way early, compilation albums are perfectly acceptable for this kind of exercise. It’s ‘albums that changed your life’, and this was one. SO! A double tape, which I got the same Christmas as ‘Born in the USA’, and similarly played till the batteries ran down repeatedly. Some comedian once noted that it’s impossible to listen to a Quo song without tapping your foot or nodding your head. The urge to play air chords, head down down banging, becomes overwhelming. Making guitars sound like motorbikes revving, feel like greasy denim and smell like burger vans, some kind of distorted Telecaster-induced synaesthesia. I loved it, and love it. Even now the intro to ‘Down Down’ is irresistible.

Although the Quo has long since been a lamentable joke – horrific Jive Bunny medleys, songs with Manchester United, tours with the nineteenth nervous knock-off of the Beach Boys – Volume 1 in particular of 12 Gold Bars captures a pop band that played harder and with more relentless neck straining than anyone else of the era. Check out any of their live footage from the 1970s – it’s awesome. The hair and guitars made me acquire both, eventually. Now witness the sad demise of Francis Rossi’s ponytail, a Hemingway-ish cutting of the corta – it all seems such a waste, a loss of an era.

Yet perhaps they knew they were past it when they opened Live Aid, looking back… but my nostalgia is for something that happened before I was even born. They may still be rocking it live, but sometimes it’s best left… unresolved, really. Instead, consider the biker sulphate days. A scarf fluttering in the wind above a denim jacket, somewhere in the Midlands, slightly battered British road movie of mullets, motel quickies, fried breakfasts and the momentary freedom of the B-Road, a battered copy of Mayfair, little ladies and wandering guys, head down boogie.

My actual favourite Quo song of all time, possibly, is ‘Paper plane’.

3. Simon & Garfunkel – Greatest hits

Greatest_arsesWhen I was a young ‘un, we (the family, my mum, my dad, my sister and me) went on a number of holidays round Britain, for t’was the time before cheap flights. We had one venture to Devon, which was additionally hilarious because everyone in the hotel when we got there had booked because of an advert in the Mail on Sunday, and everyone was – uniformly – disappointed that the deluxe establishment with sea views, pool, sauna, award-winning chef, etc, turned out to be a bit of a run-down, sea views obscured by rain, half-finished sauna in the back garden complex; a menu-featuring-crème-brulée-for-dessert-every-night-because-no-one-wanted-to-eat-it shithole.

The entertainment during most of what I recall as a mainly rainy holiday consisted of me reading The Man With the Golden Gun (another first) and my dad testing me on my memory of the events therein by asking me – I note, with retrospective amusement, very dry – questions such as ‘What was the food on offer at number 3½ Love Lane?’ (3½ Love Lane being a brothel and Ian Fleming being the master of subtlety that he is, the answer was of course ‘Hot Cock Soup Daily’); playing an original Space Invaders table game; snooker on a full size table; saunas, a bit of swimming… and occasional fantastic trips to castles on wild and rocky promontories (which resolutely unDevonian locations definitively illustrate how memory might fool one into thinking that James Bond’s secretary was Crème Brulée).

Anyway, there I was in the middle of a pool in the middle of the week in the middle of Devon, having jumped in after a sauna. I was floating face down with a snorkel on, chilling out, by which I mean ‘actually chilling’; it must have been about 2˚ in the pool, and freezing rain also, and just kind of letting the entire world fade away, also for one of the first times… When I related this extraordinary satisfying feeling of seclusion to my dad, he merely hummed/sang the mysterious phrase ‘Hello darkness, my old friend’ at me.

Later, I managed to get him to elaborate. He told me there was this great film from the 1960s where the hero is just floating in a pool, letting the entire world fade away from him… and there was this exotic sounding duo, Simon & Garfunkel, who were singing over it.
When we finally got home, I stuck on the record as instructed and there you have it.

Every other song is great, and little Polaroids of someone else’s life now juxtaposed all Wonder Yearsish with mine. 59th Street Bridge Song is cute as buttons; America, utterly romantic living through and becoming disillusioned with the Beat experience (echoes of Ben and Elaine on the back of the bus at the end of The Graduate); The Boxer… Scarborough Fair. I’ve always had a soft spot for Kathy’s Song, which has my favourite Paul Simon lyric in it: ‘And the song I was writing is left undone./ I don’t know why I spend my time/writing songs I can’t believe/with words that tear and strain to rhyme’. The very same sentiment stops me from writing most of the time. An album of preposterous hair, one of a number of beautiful, melancholy teenage enthusiasms. (I still have my books and my poetry to protect me).

4. Beastie Boys – License to ill

License to ArseI was, dear reader, a bit of a young conservative. Those who know the effing and ceeing me now may be surprised – or not at all – to learn that I was very polite and reserved. Musically and socially, I found myself suspicious of stuff that seemed to be ‘offensive’ – and to what, I had no idea – or, and I’m thinking more of music here, obviously, not based on guitar rock or lyrically-sensitive folk stylings. When the Beastie Boys started their career, I was privy only to the tabloid version of their reality, which was full of outrage concerning their willingness to swear at cripples, their total nastiness.

Part of this was just entering teenagerhood and forming your own opinions instead of receiving them, of course. The Daily Mirror ran this kind of campaign against them which, looking back at that and the shock! horror! dirty rap lyrics! tenor of virually all the press in the mid-eighties was of course reactionary and uninformed. Ah – that’d be what was sparking the offence. Syd Barrett and me, man – yearning for the piper.

ANYWAY, the Beasties. Actually reading about them in proper music press, hearing tracks blasting through open windows at the youth club – well, when I finally got a tape off a mate, it KICKED MY TWAT IN. It was nothing I had ever heard. From incredible opening (the drums on cataclysmic opening track Rhymin and Stealin are sampled off ‘When the levee breaks’ by Led Zeppelin, and, I learn while researching this, the guitars are ‘Sweet Leaf’ by Black Sabbath and there’s a snippet of The Clash’s ‘I fought the law’, which simply piles genius on existing genius as far as I’m concerned) through guitar screaming rock/rap anthems (screaming rock guitar filled in by Def Jam label mate Kerry King from Slayer) through some actually high quality funky jams pre-dating the Paul’s Boutique/Ill Communication respectability, overlooked in the sensational headlines and VW badge pinching. (I did indeed help myself to a VW badge, but never wore it, thank fuck).

There is more sophisticated hip hop and rap, edgier punk, classier rhyming, more lascivious cartoon mysogyny, but look – I was 13. Youth totems, for this youth anyway – first hangovers, best porno mags, stupidly improbable cowboy stories that might encourage people to steal shit for laughs… I think it can be best summed up with the deathless line ‘yo ho ho and a pint of Brass Monkey/and when my girlie shakes her hips, she sure gets funky’.

5. Meatloaf – Bat out of hell

Arse Out of HellWell, now. This is part of a ‘tapes in the car’ duo, to be continued in ‘5×5, part two’. Basically, dad had about three tapes in the car, which I won’t spoil by naming them early. They were played countless times on road trips and moving luggage between Yorkshire and Glasgow where I was living. This is yet another album from the year I was born, and I am glad that an auspicious era of music commenced with my arrival.

The opening bars of the title track are a throttle-opening gargle of anticipation, the overture to what becomes a cartoon epic, like ‘What’s opera, doc?’ In fact, if anyone ever wants to get Warner Bros on to making an adaptation of the whole album with Looney Tunes characters (“I can see a-pee, a-pee, a-pee, a-Paradise by the d-a-dashboard light.”) I for one would chip in a couple of quid to get the ball rolling. If the people of the Status Quo road movie inevitably went back to Wakefield to work in the Morrison’s and the chippie, this was an all-American Easy Rider motorbike trip from which no return was ever to be possible.

Jim Steinman, like the ludicrous hero on the cover, revs hell for leather on a silver black phantom bike of creative exaggeration, taking the essences of rock n roll and pastiching and parading them with pride, some daft banner billowing from the pillion. American Graffiti cars driving by the amusement parks – not only does Steinman parody Springsteen’s contemporary obsession with engines, stolen teenage kisses under the boardwalk and pulling out of Loserville in a gasoline haze, but he has the temerity to use the same drummer and pianist to do it. It’s awesome. The album is an overdone hamburger with everything on it – baseball, vaudeville, ridiculous intros, the best bumper sticker titles in existence, a grandiose deconstruction and reconstruction of USA, rock opera, Spector production values, adolescent preoccupations, greased hair, Greased Lightnin, daring to have stupid widescreen dreams, popcorn, guitars, outrageous shades and net curtains in front of wind machines. Jim, Meat and Ellen Foley are Andrew WK’s parents.

If one has to pick a track, I would say that You took the words right out of my mouth’ is the complete song, although the last three minutes of ‘Paradise by the dashboard light’ is the funniest and saddest end to a song, in the world, possibly of all time, today.

Coming up in part two… More Paul Simon, then we’re into the punk and metal years! [Steve Wright smug voiceover, run credits.]