Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sherlock... Something's coming. 2017.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Morning Dew

This week in 1967 Episode Six (with Ian Gillan later of Deep Purple) were in the Radio London Top 20. In a great week for music, the chart also included The Troggs' Night In The Long Grass, Pink Floyd's See Emily Play, The Monkees' Alternate Title, The Turtles' She'd Rather be With Me and Cream's Strange Brew. One of my all-time favourites,So Much for Mary by Jon was at its peak of 28.

What a great time to be a teenager!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bobby Darin sings Clementine live.

Have to smile at this 1960 performance by the very talented Bobby Darin.

His #1 hit song, "Mack the Knife", had a strange connection with the number "59": it was the 59th #1 single of the rock era, it entered the Billboard charts at #59, and was the second biggest-selling record of 1959.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016. The Top 10.

Tonight we'll find out whether Moscow has won the battle for Eurovision. Big Red has certainly thrown a huge amount of effort and one of its best stars into this thing. They really do mean business, and probably feel pretty hard done by after last year when they would have won had some juries not changed the numbers at the last moment.

Russia and Australia start the favourites bu quite a margin by I shall be brave and say that neither will win. I just have a feeling that the efforts and obvious attempts to appeal to everyone by Russia could backfire and make way for a simpler and more West-friendly nation. Australians may be super supporters of the whole Eurovision thing but, really, there should be a rule that says Australia can join in but we're not letting someone from a totally different part of the planet win. Dami Im is lovely, a super singer and demonstrates the power of make-up superbly but we already give South Korea a massive load of money with all the products we buy that they make without adding support for their recent emigrant to the pot. I am also a bit bothered by her odd sequencing of the lyrics. Paul Simon would definitely not approve, either, and I am a big fan of the guy.

So who will win?

This really is quite an odd year with no particularly good songs so I believe it will be a close-run affair. Here are my predictions, which, as always I have backed with cash at Betfair.

10 United Kingdom

Yes, I reckon the boys will make it this year. There's no-one vaguely like them and they have quite an appeal that our previous years' entries have not had. The singles selling well abroad too. But not that well.

9 Israel

If he gets things right, this guy could put on one of the better performances although I accept that Israel is not everyone's favourite nation, which is why I'm leaving him at 9. A worthy track, well-produced and the guy makes up each performance as he goes so it is very natural.

8 The Netherlands

Last year they nearly made it with their gentle strum-along song. This is pretty similar and is just a pleasant number with a nice guy singing with his band backing him. It doesn't do a great deal or make you want to go and buy it tomorrow but there is a certain charm about the track and the lead singer is a super performer who shouldn't put a step wrong. he;s been great i rehearsals all the way so far.

7 Cyprus

This is a bit of a long shot but this is a group that is unlike the rest of the crowd. Looking at how well The Disturbed have done recently then there may be some who vote for this band who rock along nicely with what is quite a catchy number. Their performances have been complicated and not that brilliant i some rehearsals but if they get it right there's a chance they'll be up there.

6 Australia

Dami Im will endear herself to lots and lots of fans I am sure and her dress and make-up and singing will be flawless. It's just a poor song in my view and, as I said before, Australia is a lovely country but it isn't in Europe. She will get enough votes to make the Top 10, though, easily.

5 France

This has been a huge hit across Europe and deservedly so as it is a good little pop song. It'll do well and many have predicted that it will win. I just have a feeling that it is almost too obvious with its ooo-ooo-ooo bits. The guy has also been missing quite a lot of notes in practice and relying on backing singers. he may do better than this but not a great deal worse.

4 Russia

After all their effort they will have to come close to the top. Sergei is a great singer, hardly ever puts a note wrong and also has a very difficult set of moves to do, with a tremendously impressive backscreen to work with as well. It's just, well, all a bit much. Russia will, though, get support and bags of votes from all their friends - and there are plenty, but not quite as many as before.

3 Italy

I think this is the best song of the evening and the singer is superb in terms of reaching the right notes and her delivery generally. She lacks a bit of personality which is a shame and she will need to smile and appeal a bit more than she has done so far to make this position but I feel there is much love for Italy and hope they do reach this position, or maybe even take the crown.

2 Ukraine

Controversial, this one. I may be completely wrong. The singer has written this herself and it breaks almost all the normal Eurovision 'How To Win' Book rules but that may even be in its favour. I don't understand all the lyrics or the history but suffice it to say she is unlikely to get any votes from Russia. If the singer manages to reach all the notes she has done in most rehearsals then this could be amazing. if she wails instead then I'll be very wrong and regret asking you to listen to it. Because it is so political, I fear that many voters will shy away from giving Ukraine the douze points and prevent her wining but I do expect to see her in the Top Ten.

1 Sweden

I am going for the double for Sweden. The song is not brilliant and the singer a bit bland but he is about the only modern thing on the menu apart from Justin Timerberlake and the Lithuanian guy. Hmm, maybe I should have backed the Lithuanian guy. No, Sweden are the only Scandinavian nation left in this thing this year which is remarkable but also likely to produce quite a few heavy points from their neighbours of whom there are plenty who have no-one else to vote for.

My personal favourites this year have been Austria and Croatia but, despite them both being well-produced numbers, the performers have been a little unreliable in rehearsals and the tracks are probably a bit old-fashioned for a 2016 contest.

Apart from Lithuanian's young fellow, the other two to look out for, each of whom could make the Top if they get things right and some others don't, are Malta's Ira and Armenia's Iveta. Both excellent singers with decent numbers who ought to be in the Top 10, if not the Top 5. One of them may, indeed, replace Italy and come fairly high but there may be some splitting of votes for dark-haired ballad singers this year and I shalls tick with Italy winning that particular battle.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Russia Crash but Armenia Impress at Rehearsal Day 1

The first day of rehearsals seems to have had an impact on some of the views as to who will do well on the Big Night. Russia, the major favourites since the start, had a difficult day. The staging seems so complex and requires all sorts of manoeuvres by the singer, few of which actually succeeded today. Having said that, Russia are renowned for not giving up and will, I am sure, put every conceivable effort into make things go perfectly on the night. For that reason, they may have broader odds now and, for the first time, France are 1st equal but they do remain at the top.

The young lady from Armenia got the only real appreciative applause from the various people watching, a sort of press gallery plus hangers-on and relatives I suppose. That does say something, though, and I get the feeling she impressed everyone. Armenia has been in the Top 10 for weeks already. This put her in the Top 5 for the first time.

The Netherlands and Hungary had a reasonable day but didn't do enough to move their odds much. They have each been consistently between 14 and 18 and seem to be around there still, Hungary climbing a few places but there are still 14 higher.

Croatia is the big disappointment for me so far. Once as high as 3rd, they are now 23rd. I can only assume that the singer simply isn't doing a good job at all. Or that expectations were way too high at the outset. Indeed, Croatia would,as the betting stands at the time of writing, not get through the Semi Final. There would be some recompense in that would mean Austria, another of my own favourites, would get through in their place. Group 1 is a tough one this year.

Although several others also rehearsed they are pretty unlikely to get very far so I won't bother with their reviews at this time. There is always some strange freak event that puts through a really bad act from the Semi Finals and I can comment at that time if and when it happens! For now, suffice it to say that San Marino, Moldova, Greece didn't exactly move from their 1000-1 odds and Finland, at 800-1 stay pretty much out there too!!

One surprise beneficiary of the misfortune of others seems to be our UK boys who have not only made the Top 20 but reached the dizzy heights of 18th equal! They are the only act who have closed odds so significantly as the chart above shows. It does also show, however, that they have not exactly wobbled much further down since mid-April. I still think they'll make it a fair bit higher. But then I always do overrate UK's chances.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eurovision Update

With just a few weeks to go now, an update on the competing nations seems in order. Things have largely settled down as we await the first live performances, which is when we'll be most likely to see some changes as great recording artists just don't sparkle on stage or something that didn't catch our imagination suddenly erupts with the personality of the singer.

At the moment there are 6 groups. I've given them names. 

The Leaders

Since the outset, Russia has been in the top 2 and is now firmly established in the top spot with France a close second. France has closed in over the weeks, mainly due to the personality of the guy singing and his single has been very popular across much of Europe.

The Drifters

Sweden and Australia were both hot favourites in the Top 3 from the start. Sweden had a cool young lad doing something a bit different and Sweden just have that incredible enthusiasm for this competition and put so much effort and thought into the selection process that they almost have to do well every year. S it happens, though, the rather dreary performance has sagged to date and, whilst still with respectable chances of winning, it is not seen as likely now. He will need to find some magic in rehearsals and on the night to restore their previous threat to Russia. Australia have chosen the impressive Dami Im to represent them in their second effort to play the European game. We like Australia and Australians but, seriously. what are they doing in this competition? It messes up the whole affair, not just because they have a great singer who will steal loads of votes from others but also they simply aren't in Europe and already have their own similar show in that part of the globe. They simply cannot be allowed to win. Luckily, Dami has not got the best of tracks. Sound Of Silence is not the cool Paul Simon number but an oddly phrased ballad. It's good but not that good and even a bit annoying in places. They'll come 4th.

The Tenners

Not tenors as they're mostly female. No, these are entries that will almost certainly make the Top Ten or thereabouts, just not very high up the Top Ten. They'll probably come 5th to 15th. There is Ukraine, a remarkably good singer with a protest song that will not get them 12 points from Russia. She will not win as that would be too controversial but Ukraine always gets plenty of votes in this competition, whatever they do. Ukraine is joined in this group by several other contenders to this 5-15 area: Serbia have a serious lady and they're good at serious ladies. I don't think the track has a chance but quite a few others do for some reason. They seem to lead the Balkan ladies vote at things stand. Malta have a serious lady too but she is a little more modern and has a Carrie Underwood flavour which can do her no harm at all and may even propel her near the top of this lot. Voters do like Malta too. They don't have to think too much about voting for Malta. Armenia will get most of the small ex-Soviet state votes with their fairly harmless but not particularly inspiring entry. people like the small countries and an average song from a small country does better than a crappy song from a big country. Armenia tried to make theirs catchy but it really didn't work very well. Bulgaria could be the stars of the show with a little pop star performing for them. The song is pretty unexceptional but the singer is popular and should be confident on stage and appeal to the younger set who haven't got a great deal to vote for this year. Last of the six is a bloke representing Latvia. he has a catchy little ditty which will do well and probably come 6th as Latvia seem friendly to almost everyone, spanning Balkans as well as ex-Soviet lakes of voters.

The Undecided

Italy and the Czech Republic seem unable to decide which group they're in. Italy looks and sounds like a Top 10 act but doesn't seem to be able to hold its support as well as the Tenners, with whom they should belong. they'll probably come 10th at the end of the day but will oscillate up and down a lot between now and then. Czech Republic shouldn't really be in the final as their track is neither inspiring nor likely to get many votes but, somehow, they've garnered support from somewhere and have to be taken seriously. If they qualify and put on a good act then they may get enough average votes to make 15th. I am adding Croatia to this group too, although as I write they are predicted to be with The Others. That is because the song is excellent and has most of the qualities and features needed for Eurovision. At one point Croatia were sitting very pretty in 3rd place behind Sweden and Russia, well ahead of Australia too. Something has gone wrong for them in the meantime, however, as they've drifted out and out since. I had them as a winner at one point. I still think they'll be runner-up - if Nina can perform well.

The Chancers

Poland, Netherlands and Spain are each quite different but are in a little band of nations that could either win this thing or disappear completely with half a dozen votes. Poland have a singer that looks like someone out of The Feeling or The Darkness, I can never figure out which. He warbles and looks pretty unique and will either appeal greatly and get lots of votes or do nothing much at all. The Netherlands have this thing about bubbling along innocently before competitions and then on the night suddenly looking like they might win and often come in the top few and nearly steal the crown. This year could be like that again with a gentle number that rumbles along nicely and, depending on how they perform on the night, will either be up there at No.2 or down there at No. 22. Spain have an immensely catchy number - a real Euro treat if you can get past the first bit which isn't so good. If you can't then this will bomb badly. If the girl performer can get it across then it could even win the whole thing.

The Others

Here is a group of contrasts as there's Germany and United Kingdom who are guaranteed a place and several others who really look a bit vulnerable and may not make it through the Semis, like Cyprus, Hungary, Austria, Iceland and Belgium. Maybe Israel too. Germany and UK both have very good tracks but who knows how well their performers will perform on the night? With phenomenally good presence, either could surprise us and threaten the favourites but, with odds of several hundred to one at the moment it seems unlikely. Cyprus have a pretty cool rock track, one of f=very few that are likely to make it through this year. For that reason alone they may get a lot of support, being the only place for that type of fan's votes. Expect them to be right up there if all goes well for them on the night. Hungary, Belgium and Israel can safely be ignored this year but may just scrape through to the Final so we have to mention them. Iceland deserve a mention as they have the most spectacular backscreen show this year. They may not qualify but if they do make it through they'll be a surprise too as I think the audience will react favourably and they'll get a slew of reasonable level votes from across the board. Austria is another country that may not actually make it through and that would be a shame as they have a delightful number and another smart backscreen show. It's trippy and sixties but gently fascinating and the girl is very watchable. I hope she gets a chance but fear she might not.

There is, of course, a seventh group: The Strugglers! These are the nations who seem to be struggling even to qualify. This includes Norway, Denmark and Greece who usually do pretty well and Ireland, who haven't been so great recently but are still a nation to be reckoned with in terms of past success and song-writing ability. To be honest, none seem to deserve better this year, though, with distinctly average tracks that are not going to inspire anyone very much. the only exception could be the Federal Yugoslav  Republic of Macedonia. They have a good singer and a passionate song that I feel should be in the Final. Maybe they're out at 1000-1 for political reasons.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Just found this really good live version by the incomparable Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.

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