Animal magnetism: a #13for2013 mixtape

One of the wonderful things about growing up in the ’80s was being a child of the mixtape age.

The CD player came out in 1985 but only posh people had one, so the rest of us made do with a melodic education in a 5 x 7 box.

So in homage to those days spent unpicking magnetic tape from tangled spools, I submit my animal-themed, albeit digital, mixtape, as challenged by my fellow blogger, GemStGem.

1) Stay Here and Take Care of the Chickens – The Wave Pictures

The Wave Pictures recently revealed at a gig that this track is inspired by the Humphrey Bogart film, The Enforcer. They mysteriously added the phrase, “Stay here and take care of the chickens,” could have any number of meanings, depending on who you imagine is saying it… Discuss.

2) I Wanna Be Your Dog – Iggy and the Stooges

In the video montage of my life, the years I spent picking myself up off the floors of dingy Manchester bars will have this as the backing track. And I always felt rough as a dog the next morning, so it seems fitting.

3) Pussyfooting – Fujiya and Miyagi

No, not the ambient album of a similar name by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, but a song by a trio of Brighton boys. Their songs rarely make sense, but their hypnotic style is a grower. See also: Cat Got Your Tongue, if you’re feline inclined (pun intended).

4) Hounds of Love – Kate Bush

A cross between a Twin Peaks outtake and a bad dream, the Hounds of Love video pulls off melodrama in a way only Kate Bush can. Crazy bitch.

5) What’s a Girl To Do? – Bat for Lashes

Not chosen for its ‘bat’ reference, but because Natasha Khan spends the video riding through a dark forest followed by bikers in animal masks. Perhaps she looked to Kate Bush for inspiration?

6) Gold Lion – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

According to Wikipedia, the song ‘Gold Lion’ was named after the two ‘Gold Lion’ awards won by an Adidas advert for which Karen O contributed vocals. I really hope this isn’t true cause because I really like this song and now it’s tainted with the brush of capitalism.

7) Elephants – Warpaint

There’s no mention of the word ‘elephant’ in this song except in the title, but some of the high notes are at a frequency only dolphins can hear, so it’s a double-mammal whammy in my book.

8) Wolf Like Me – TV on the Radio

At last, a song whose literal title reflects its lyrics. None of those metaphorical smart-arsey allusions, what we’re dealing with here is a man turning canine at the mercy of the moon. That being said, the lyric “writhing under your riding hood” crosses the line between literary and letchy.

9) Concrete Jungle – The Specials

Someone once had a habit of describing London to me as ‘’, which I always found a bit bizarre. Not because they were wrong, but because I’d never heard anyone say ‘dot com’ with sarcasm. Incidentally, The Specials do seem to be describing your average night out in Hackney, so maybe she wasn’t that far wrong.

10) White Elephant – Ladytron

Granted, not one of their best tracks. To make up for this I’m going to share a fact about the phrase “white elephant”, namely that it is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. Not to be confused with the phrase “elephant in the room”. Extra points for the animal masks in the video, which were a bonus I was unaware of until just now.

11) Urchin – She’s a Roller

I’m trying to win the Obscure Animal Award with this track. Urchin were together in the late 70s for about as long as it takes to say “lager shandy and a packet of crisps.” But before frontman Adrian Smith found a far more lucrative career in Iron Maiden, he was the brainchild of Urchin, and an urchin – according to the Oracle otherwise known as Google – is a medieval word for ‘hedgehog’.

12) Would You Like to Swing on a Star – Bing Crosby

On the surface, nothing to do with animals. But you’re wrong! It’s all about animals! Fans of Hudson Hawk will understand, Bruce Willis just wanted a cup of coffee…



Taking that ride to nowhere

And on the Sixth day, we sang Road to Nowhere

UNLESS you’re in the cast of Glee, it’s not often in life you get chance to make a literal song and dance, unless you’re a) in a band, or b) at a karaoke bar.

For the majority of us, it’s the latter. So it was  on a windy weekend in April that a rather large group of us gathered in Victoria Park to sing Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere, led by a tiger-clad dancer and boasting a finale punctuated with confetti canons.

The original plan to film at the bandstand was thwarted by a toddler’s birthday party. We couldn’t kindly ask a three-year-old to move along so we sat stuffing our faces with cured meats while our director wandered around hunting for an epiphany.

Plan B became apparent and we gathered for a vocal run through. Talented musical types produced instruments – drums, strings, clarinet, etc, while others bust out pitch perfect harmonies, leaving the lesser rehearsed among us mumbling the chorus at the back.

Groups of bemused onlookers stopped and stared. Luckily we weren’t pelted with rocks, but rewarded with a smattering of applause.  Who says London is heartless? Then it was onto the deceptively difficult task of singing and dancing simultaneously, which for the record, pop stars make look easy. It’s not.  

The final take was the product of an hour spent snaking across the grass in formation and trying to punch the air at the appropriate times.

By the time we’d filmed the final take, the sun was going down and we were all in desperate need of a pint. Even now, any mention of Road to Nowhere (understandably) tips some of us over the edge. 

But looking back on the video only prompts a rose-tinted ‘aw’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dir: Gregory Davenport
Cue cards: Harry Manley
Willing victims: Alice Flanagan, Cecilia Fage, Charlie Venables, Freddie Powys, Hannah Cartwright, Nick George, Huw John Sam, Jessica Moncrieff, John Patterson, Kim Jarrett, Licia Shirin Conn, Matthew Taylor, Owain Rees, Sami Fitz, Stef Davenport, Tabitha Wrathall, Lauren Potts