So This Is Christmas…..


Without further ado lets kick off with one of the best Xmas songs to be released, it’s by an old friend of mine……yes all the way from the Wirral, it’s Halfman Half Biscuit

“It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” By Halfman Half Biscuit

Well, the baubles have been vigorously polished, the tree has been erected, the turkeys been roundly stuffed, and we await Santa’s heaving, bulging sack with bated breath. But meanwhile, away from the buxom snowcapped, twin peaked mountains of the magical “Land Of Double Entendre” and back in the real world, parents are preparing for their annual blitzkrieg in “Toys-R-Us” over this seasons “must have toy/gadget.” This is of course due to the fact that if little Johnny doesn’t get exactly what little Johnny has demanded, then the child who has yet to be acquainted with the word “no” or even the concept of compromise may well grow up to be psychologically damaged. (or worse, a solicitor ) It is against such a background that the corporate giants expertly manufacture this kind of hysteria. Huge advertising campaigns, involving the sort hyperbole Alistair Campbell could only dream of, are launched, which cleverly exploit parental guilt, the basic message being, if little Johnny doesn’t get this product you are a CRAP parent, a loathsome individual and you deserve to live a life of friendless, unremitting misery, forever haunted by your shameful neglect. With this in place they then deliberately undersource retail outlets of said product in the run up to Xmas, thus creating the kind of Seasonal pandemonium, that sees quite reasonable, educated people fighting over Nintendo WII’s in order to assuage their guilt. Meanwhile others are cramming their shopping trolleys to bursting point with ludicrous amounts of food that they quite frankly, could never eat, even if the entire population of Birmingham had been invited for Christmas dinner! But hey-ho, if nuclear war ever breaks out, let’s pray it’s over the Christmas period , as we, as a nation, will be well stocked ! It most certainly is “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” the season of goodwill and indeed the season to be jolly! So bollocks to all that negative humbug ! We love Christmas, and as the song says “It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” so let’s be thankful for all the positives, as we reflect on the year, and what Christmas means to us. It is also a chance to thank all the readers, musicians and contributors who have joined in and to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas.

As a seasonal treat we thought it would be fun to quiz some of our favourite artists and special friends, enabling them to share their thoughts on the festive season, how do they spend Christmas?… what do they love about it (or not) ?? and/or , what are their most cherished Christmas songs that warm the cockles of their hearts and induce a fierce and compelling desire to roast their chestnuts on an open fire.

Well, Christmas certainly has arrived early for Mr VP as one of his all time heroes ex- Lush legend Miki Berenyi agreed to share her favourite Christmas songs with us:-

MIKI : “Frosty the Snowman” featuring Angela McCluskey
from “The Rumor Mill’s Christmas On Clinton St.” charity album. Heard this very recently and knew nothing whatsoever about Angela McCluskey (that’s how out of touch I am). What a lovely voice! Also an excellent cause ( and a lovely video on YouTube (below)

“Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Crystals

“Both from the Phil Spector Christmas album – I’d pick every track but these 2 are my favourites. Genuinely the most HAPPY renditions of any Christmas songs EVER, this is a staple of our family Christmas and will induce dancing, singing and genreral whoops of delight from me, Moose and the kids.”

The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl “Fairytale of New York”

You’re a bum,You’re a punk, You’re an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed You scumbag, you maggot, You cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God its our last ! “Lyrics that just beg to be yelled out as you stagger home from the Christmas booze-up”

“Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses
“Reminds me of being a teenager – I think I was about 15 when it was out! I remember seeing the Waitresses on some music programme miming or whatever. I thought Patty Donahue looked so amazing – this giant leggy geeky thing in a mini skirt. Brilliant! Love the sweet love-story soap-opera story line, too.”

“Frosty The Snowman” Angela McClusky

Fairytale Of New York” The Pogues And Kirtsy McColl

James from The Hussy’s Top Xmas themed Songs are

1/ Come on Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance- Sufjan Stevens
2/ Snow plus Xmas- Pearlfishers
3/Santa Claus is Coming to Town- The Crystals
4/ I Was Born on Xmas Day- St Etienne
5/ The Wizzard One

“Come on Let’s Boogie To The Elf Dance”- Sufjan Stevens

For Yuki from Asobi Seksu it sounds like Christmas is a chance to rest
“I’m looking forward to wearing sweat pants and eating lots of food that is “bad” for you. Mostly this holiday, I’m looking forward to being in one place for an extended period of time. And in 2008- can’t wait to make a new album!”

Asobi Seksu have just released a fabulous reverb soaked festive cover of The Ramones “Merry Christmas ( I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight )”backed by the fantastic “New Year” get it here from One Little Indian Records

Rowena from Santa Dog describes her perfect Xmas thus ;

“It’s all about the food! Full on turkey, all the trimmings, flaming pudding, too much booze and sharing with those you love (aaahhh). Every other year we’re in Aberdeen and then it often snows – perfect. 2008 plans? To keep having fun and to get to Japan!”

And if you’ve ever wondered what Charlotte Hatherley gets up to at Christmas….apart from causing a near nationwide stampede at job centres in the rush to fill out those Santa Claus job application forms…..

Charlotte :” Every year I try to go to Sydney for Xmas where most of my family live (lucky bastards). I have Xmas on the beach drinking beer in the sweltering heat thinking how great it is to get out of London.”

Toby from The Duke Spirit will be full of Xmas Spirit and indeed possibly spirits !

“My parents live on the Isle Of Wight, so I like going to visit them for Xmas day. It feels like a cool adventure getting the train and boat down there. I’m a big Xmas fan. I love the excuse to cook huge meals, more food than you can eat, and drink for 3 days without feeling like an alcoholic. I like the suppressed childish excitement you can see in peoples eyes too. It’s a good time of year. 2008 The Duke Spirit start spreading their wings once again.–My hope for 2008 ?- to reap the rewards of 2007. It’s been a hard year but things can only get better.”

“Just Like Christmas” By Low

For Screaming Ballerina’s vocalist Laura Trouble its all about animal welfare, champagne and big eared farm boys !

“What I like about Xmas is lots of presents please. Christmas is good because i get to go home and see my beloved dogs (April and Ulie) (RIP Rosie and Scampy and Sooty) and cats (George and Oscar )and its the only time of year where my lunatic family get to be all together in a big ball off tinsel and fuzz and love. Watching Dad’s Army (“WHAT IS YOUR NAME , BOY? ….’Dont tell him Pike! ‘”….) and Black Adder “YOU SHOT MY SPECKLED JIM! “) is good . Throwing wrapping paper at the TV while my gran sleeps through the queens speech is bad. Going to the farm near my dads house to drink with all the inbred big eared locals and having to leave when some member of my family insults someone unintentionally- is bad but hilarious so its good. Getting over excited at 9 am and drinking so much champagne that i peak to soon and need a cat nap at 1pm – is bad. Eating a bloody nice xmas dinner – is good. Eating too much bloody nice xmas dinner – is bad and extremely uncomfortable. Listening to lots of music and wearing your slippers all day – is very good indeed. Fairy lights are the best invention in the world, so thats good, because they are EVERYWHERE . The apocaliptic blood bath that is 10 million turkeys getting slaughtered in the most in-humane way possible in an extremely short space of time – is very very bad.And makes me sad inside. But over all I do love Christmas, its a time for loving and giving and skipping and swaying and glowing and eating and shitting and singing and that my friends is a good thing.”
My fave xmas songs are

1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sinatra

2. Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

3 . “I Hope You All Die You Blood Hungry Carnivorous Christian Bastards”
– Laura Trouble (that’s a joke)

Merry Christmas Everybody -By Slade

And Beth Gibson from The Hot Puppies tells us about her stockings!

“What do I like best about Christmas?. Going home to my Mum and Dad’s and spending time with family and friends mainly. That’s the big bit! Then, singing Christmas carols, Christmas stockings full of bits you’ll find throughout the year that take you right back to Christmas, Christmas morning with “The Philadelphia Story” and Christmas evening eating too much chocolate! and the songs;
“Fairy Tale Of New York” The Pogues
“Oh Holy Night ”
And anything christmassy by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin!”

Christopher Seink Of Seinking Ships

“What Christmas means to me….
-24 hour marathons of “A Christmas Story”
-Avoiding the malls at all cost (shopping online)
-Spending time with loved ones
-Mastering the art of regifting”

Favorite Christmas tunes….
Skating (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Let It Snow
Feliz Navidad
Nutcracker- Op. 71: No. 2 March

“The Christmas Song” By The Raveonettes

Mr Von Pip, who having a birthday on Xmas Eve is rather fond of the festive season…” There are toooooo many great Xmas songs to mention , but here’s my top 10

1. Fairytale Of New York- the Pogues and Kirsty McColl
2. Merry Xmas From The Family – Jill Souble
3. It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas – Halfman Half Biscuit
4. Just Like Xmas – Low
5. Christmas Lullaby -Shane Mac Gowan
6. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
7. Donner And Blitzen – Badly Drawn Boy
8. Frosty The Snowman -The Cocteau Twins
9. All Alone On Christmas-Darlene Love
10. Same Old Christmas-Hilary Duff (!!)

And then theres the carols “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” “Silent Night” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”

And to this years festive releases:- as well as The Rumour Mills Christmas Charity Album mentioned by Miki which you can get HERE on I-tunes and Asobi Seksu’s single, there’s also Lucky Souls “Lips Are Unhappy” backed by an exclusive festive cover of “Lonely This Christmas” (all profits go to the War Child charity). Buy it here its only £0.40p !”

For films,well Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without “It’s A Wonderful Life” it is possibly my favourite film ever. Not only is it thoughtful, emotive, magical and Christmassy…it’s possibly the most subversive film ever made. George Bailey is on the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, and gets a chance to see what the world would be like if he’d never been born.”Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”“You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.” It appeals to me on every level, its humanity , its politics, it’s message, it really is so uplifting, people can make a difference, the little guy does matter! The good will out! The performance of Jimmy Stewart is incredible and it makes me cry-everytime! A perfect film! (sniffle)

All Alone On Christmas” By Darlene Love

Merry Christmas From The Family” By Jill Souble

Dogwood , who surely will one day be delivering the Christmas message to the nation, has this to say about the festive season :

“Hello Dogwood here, Settle down….

I don’t think Christmas has been Christmas since Andy Williams was forcibly removed from the schedules by the likes of Grade the Younger. Thank you Michael Grade, for reducing Christmas Day to an unceasing conveyor belt of Eastender ‘your gonna get yours’ storylines featuring nervous breakdowns, petty revenge, petty larceny, grand larceny, gay vengeance, straight vengeance, children coming out of the woodwork to unwitting parents, parents coming out of the closet to unwitting children – processed misery for the masses. Orwell would be proud. I’d like to sit down with my snowball and unshelled nuts and watch the afore-mentioned Williams or Como gad about in a sleigh against a filmed background of Aspen or some such place with a load of dolly birds in scanty Santa suits and white teeth. I can’t do that now because some idiot down at health and safety has decided that unshelled Brazil nuts represent too much of a litigation risk with the flying shell shrapnel that occurs when one applies their nutcracker.Back in Preston when I was a lad, Christmas would begin when Ma Dogwood would skin the tripe and allow us to mix the rendering pot whilst singing Industrial Revolution carols. My Dad, fresh from his Chartist meeting, would mix up a gin punch and serve them in a custard jug as we didn’t have any glassware. I would swig mine from a jam jar. Santa Claus would bring a variety of treats including a Satsuma, a root vegetable, a tin of pilchards, half a pound of cough candies, a box of matches and some woodbines. One year I got a scale size Anthony Eden whittled from driftwood. I still have him and he sits on top of my 4’ tinsel tree that I’ve had since 1968. Ipodman? I wouldn’t have known where to start lad.

As for my favourite Christmas songs, well:
Perry Como and Angie Dickinson – The twelve foods of Christmas. It starts off with ‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a de-licious chocolate éclair and climaxes with ’12 Artic rolls, 11 Jaffa Cakes, 10 Swiss Rolls, 9 Wagon Wheels, 8 Mince Pies, 7 Iceland Bannofee Kebabs, 6 Lidl Lincoln biccies, 5 Crepe Suzettes, 4 Crunchie Bars,3 Selection Boxes, 2 Tins of Roses and a de-licious chocolate eclair’

The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forget – Vera Lynn. This always reduces me to tears as I WAS that boy in 1952.

Perry Como – ‘A Christmas Dream’ from The Odessa File. I admire Jon Voight immensely.

Have a seasonal fest.”

“A Christmas Dream” By Perry Como

Monster Bobby’s Xmas Faves

1 “Poetry For The Winter” By Komon (free download here)
2 As Above
3 As Above
4. Little Saint Nick By The Beach Boys ( or is it Hanson?)
5 Mary’s Boy Child (?) Boney M

BOBBY: ” I think my two favourite artists at the moment are Boney M and Komon (god knows what that says about the direction for the next Pips album..!) ” (Pipettes in Boney M- direction shocker!!? 3 female singers and a dude called Bobby ???!!!;)-VP)

“Mary’s Boy Child” By Boney M

For Marcella Puppini its “all-a about-a da family, capiche?”

For me, Christmas is all about going back to Italy and spending time with my extended family. We are really lucky as we all get on really well, and even my parents, who’ve been divorced for 20 years, get together during the holidays for family dinners. Our Christmas lunch is an absurdly lavish affair: the silver cutlery and embroidered table cloth come out, and we have about 6 or 7 courses, of which the main one is a whole rosted leg of pork. Every year we hope for snow, but these days it doesn’t snow until the new year. When I was a kid we sometimes would get snowed in for a couple of days and read by the fireplace. I loved that. The Christmas song that we listen to every year is an italian one called “Un Natale da buttare via” – a Christmas to forget. It’s a really tragic song about being dumped on Christmas day and it has always appealed to my melodramatic side. And there’s another song that my father requests every year, which me and my sister have been singing since we were about 7. It’s another Italian one, and my dad makes us sing it from the garden as it’s about the baby Jesus being cold on Christmas day. Us Italians do love a bit of drama!!! That one always makes us giggle.It’s a wonderful life is also a staple, which we usually watch on Boxing day.

Nick Levine From Tack! Tack!Tack! tells us what he’ll be up to:-

“This Christmas I’ll be listening to the soundtrack of The Ghosts Of Oxford Street. I’ve had a cassette copy for years and finally managed to track down a CD of it earlier in the year. The Ghosts Of Oxford Street was a made for TV film/musical presented and written by Malcolm Mclaren about the history of Oxford Street. It features music by a whole array of peeps like Tom Jones, Kirsty MacColl, and true to form a pretty bad stab at a Stock, Aitken and Waterman techno style track by McLaren himself. To my knowledge it only aired once, in 1991. And its a great shame that it isn’t shown each and every Xmas as it would make a pleasant change from The Snowman.

The Ghosts Of Oxford Street (Sinead O Connor-Silent Night)


The final word however, with regard to the meaning of Christmas, I`ll leave to Eric Matthews who has been producing astonishing and innovative music for many years on the Sub Pop label and has worked with Tahiti 80, The Dandy Warhols, Ivy, Man of the Year, Elliott Smith, Paula Kelley, Pugwash, Volovan, and Bug 2000. 2007 has seen Eric as industrious as ever, which included working with Miki Berenyi and Christopher Sienk on the Seinking Ships album, due for relase next year .

“To me Christmas is a two fold thing. It is both a bizarre time where we I get all jazzed about spending stupid money on those closest to me and getting cool presents. But it is also an intensification of the general message of my religion. I think of Christ 300 days a year anyway but in this time it becomes more intense somehow. I surround myself in His glory and it really helps get me through.

3 songs: Christmastime Is Here, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and (from the hymnal) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.

Movies: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ben Hur, Groundhog’s Day, and Jesus Of Nazareth.”

Quote Of The Year

Monster Bobby after a recent Pipettes gig in NYC discussing Mr Von Pips dancing!

(Courtesy Of Dave Cromwell)

“Christmas Lullabye” By Shane MacGowan

Happy Xmas , we’ll leave you with a special Christmas verse, from Neal Zetter

“When The Music Ran Out”

I had a horrid nightmare about
On Christmas eve the music ran out
The radio had no sound
There was silence all around
The magic that made the melody
Was just a distant memory
A buried treasure underground
Lost and never to be found
When the music ran out

iPods were idle
CDs ceased – all blank
The notes were all stolen
From the musical bank
Concert halls stood empty
Discos deserted and dead
No more songs left to write
Or to stick in people’s heads
So they read
Books instead
When the music ran out

A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Were consigned to history
F-sharp, A-minor, B-flat too
All unemployed with nothing to do
Standing in a long dole queue
On that day
When there were no tunes left to play
They packed the instruments away
Coloured rainbows turned to grey
Rappers were wrecked
DJs in disarray
Buskers broken in dismay
Andy Von Pip said “I’m anything but ok”
When the music ran out

Whistlers couldn’t whistle
Dancers couldn’t dance
Hummingbirds that tried to hum
Didn’t have a chance…
But on Christmas morning I woke up from my dream
I could feel my heart beat
I began to tap my feet
I switched on my MP3
The best possible presents were waiting there for me
My ears enthralled in ecstasy
Screaming Ballerinas, Wedding Present, Clash and the Pipettes
Hot Puppies, Operator Please, Pulp, the Raveonettes
Long Blondes, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Charlotte Hatherley
Ladytron, Duke Spirit, Smiths and Morrissey,
Left me without a doubt
That there will NEVER be a day
(I’m sooooooo relieved to say)
When the music runs out

HAPPY CHRISTMAS-“It’s A Wonderful Life”

Festive Greetings !

“Everthing’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” By Eels



The VPME Review………. October 2007

“Let’s review some new singles ” the voices said
“Nor Arf ” I replied in my best Fluff Freeman voice . “But we need the finest minds in pop to get on board and give their wise and sagacious views on some hot new grooves pop pickers!” Sadly they where all booked up, but we did get together a panel of experts who know a thing or two about pop, some can even carry a tune !

The Panel

Laura Trouble – Captivating and lovely lead singer with one of The VPME’s favourite bands Screaming Ballerinas and co founder of the Dolly Rockers Club. Laura’s marvellous band can be found here

Mister Lion
– Officially the tallest illustrator and graphic designer living today in Britain, imagine if you will, Noel Coward crossed with Mark Kermode by way of a lamp post, that’s Mister Lion for ya! ” Marvel ” at the tall mans comic and sometimes disturbing creations here

Mikey Guitar
– Lead guitarist with hotly tipped Manchester based band Bauer. Rumour has it Johnny Marr has tried to master Mikey’s guitar riffs, but to no avail. Mikey loves giving things marks out of 10. Meet Bauer here

Fran – Hailing from Italy, Dame Frannington likes her music and regularly decrees what is good music and what is bad by use of her thumbs. Like a Roman Emperor really. Or The Fonz.

Elz – Has a liking for Scottish bands, she writes reviews and can often be found scouring the Internet for new and exciting music. Shes no fan of broad beans though. Or fruitcake.

– Oliver Gordon Dogwood, if you want to be familiar ,currently employed by Cheambeat Communications Radio to facilitate the late night show on Music Hall Memoires (formerly hosted by Fido Lomax until he went a little ga-ga and thought he was Sitting Bull). Give a firm virtual handshake to Dogwood here. (Settle Down)

Von Pip: Looks like a hard knock , but there’s a poet trapped in there somewhere

Spencer McGarry (Prononced McGuigan) – Spencer is singer and guitarist with Spencer McGarry Season, hes from Cardiff , which is why McGarry is pronounced McGuigan- I call that phonetic rebelliousness, still he’s a nice bloke and hes got some cracking songs here. He was late for the review, no harm done we all get hangovers. . Spencer is gigging with Pony Up soon, but I’m not jealous , no not one bit, not at all….

This Months Singles


FRAN : “I’ve got nothing bad to say about them. Each track of their latest record could be a single. Also, it’s very catchy. Therefore should be massive. But it’s not.”

“I’ve always thought that these furry fellows were as dull as shit, but this song surprised me, its like some sort of comedic Ramones-y Phil Spector 60s girl group cocktail and Gruff Rhys’ voice actually suits this romantic kind of thing. I love the massiveness of the drums and stuff. But I think they should have maybe chilled out on the chorus at the end of the song, its probably the weakest part and by the 1,000 000th time you hear it, you forget what you’ve been listening to. I had a screwdriver – to – temple moment by the 1000th time I had heard ‘Ru u u u u u un away……….’ thats what i did today…’, …….. aaaargh! “

“Now I don’t want to get all Hugh Scully about this but it sounds like a Shangri La’s 45 played at 16. It starts out promising but then goes all maudlin on you, like one of those bi-polar types, and like them it could do with pulling itself together. I understand that these chaps are at the ‘vanguard of the alternative Welsh rock scene’. The words ‘vanguard’ and ‘alternative’ conjure up bearded men in cords munching a nut roast citing poetry and I for one don’t want to visit that particular space thank you very much…………”

SPENCER : Mid paced fuzzy sound showcasing the thick effortless tones of Gruff’s s impeccable voice- he should get more credit as a singer. Personally I still hark for the experimentalism and excitement of Gorilla although I only say that because I know how astounding they can be- otherwise this song is fine.

MR LION : “Not only does this track have an enveloping, Phil Spectoresque aural texture that you can get lost in, it actually sounds every inch like an old girl-group record, with its spoken word introduction and longing vocals. It’s really a very different sound for the band, which I’m glad they’ve tried out on this track. But then I may be a bit biased; I can’t say anything bad about a laid-back Welshman who wears a Power Rangers helmet onstage. I like it.”

ELZ: “I thought I was going to really like this song when it started, but then it just… stayed the same. All the way through. What’s the point of that, really? Oh, hang on, it’s just got a bit different – nope, back again. I already feel like I’ve heard it five hundred times after three minutes. It’s got a nice tune, but I don’t want to give it a second listen. That said, I’ll probably love it tomorrow. I can already feel it working its way into my brain.”

MIKEY : “Be My Baby” sung by fuzzy welsh potheads. 8/10″

” Yeah its Ok, the Furries confuse me though, they can be great or just grate , there’s no in between. Apart from now. I reckon I`ll love it by tomorrow morning, but will I still respect it ?”

Song 2 FIGHT LIKE APES – Jake Summers

MR LION: “The vocalist puts me in mind of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, only a bit rougher around the edges. The keyboard and guitar sounds are interesting, although I have to admit I’m not sure if the static is intentional or a symptom of the myspace player. Gosh, she is angry, isn’t she? I’m not sure I approve of all the gratuitous cursing, but I suppose the young people express themselves that way these days. It’s not really my cup of tea, but they seem to have a lot of energy.”

SPENCER : Starts off reminding me of the vulnerability of Kimya Dawson when she sang with/as the MoldyPeaches, before introducing a more raucous, sonorous (sic) edge. The song itself goes off in unexpected directions (good drums) and makes me want to see them live. Aggressive without being boring. ( a bit Like Roy Keane ?-Ed . Always wanted to do that Ed thing )

VON PIP: “Yes indeedy I love this song, granted not what I’d listen to before bed whilst sipping my milky Horlicks, but for a Friday night rev up -perfect! It’s cheeky,brash and loud, yet with a soft tender underbelly, a bit like Tony Wilson, but obvioulsy with much more get up and go . Makes me want to leap around like a mad clown and throw buckets of glitter over policemen.”

MIKEY: Schuzzzy this time, not fuzzy. Overdrive that desk, baby. 6/10

FRAN: Not too bad, but not too great either, A bit too shouty for my liking.

ELZ: This isn’t my thing at all. I thought it might be, once I got past the beginning, but it turns out to not be at all. I enjoy melodies. The melody in this song is being hidden very well by their singer. Thumbs down.

Now settle down. I don’t know who Jake Summers is and I don’t know what he’s done to deserve such a relentless barrage of the senses and frankly life’s too short. All I can say is you must have done something bad my lad. It starts quite innocuously, a lass starts singing and then it gave me a headache. This may sound more acceptable in the hands (or mouth) of someone like Boney M, who could always do justice to quite bizarre concepts.

: I’m good friends with these gorgeous Irish monkeys, they are the funnest kids on the block and this song is actually a stroke of pure simple genius, it has everything, absolutley everything I could want in a song. The lyrics are witty, completely addictive and brilliant, from ‘hey you , get some grace, you’re like kentucky fried chicken but without the taste!’ to ‘hey baby I’m the bedroom king..I’m so sorry for breaking your ding-a-ling-a-ling!’ It gets me in some kind of orgasmic fit. The melodies glide around, there’s huge hurricanes of keyboards (there are NO guitars in this band! ) and goes from being totally crazy and rock n’ roll to bed wettingly heartfelt in a snap second . May Kay is a complete superstar, she performs this song with so much passion and should be an inspiration to all us frontmen/women out there, an amazing song. WOOHOOOO!

Song 3
TAKE THAT Rule The World

“The only band that can make Westlife sound like “System Of A Down.” But this music is vital, vital in the sense that we can educate our kids “Son, this what we call in the trade “a great big bag o’shite.” I could go on about how this corporate cobblers is a metaphor for all that is wrong with the capitalist system, but I won’t. What I will say is:- what’s all this nonsense about reinventing Take That as a force for good ? People waffle on citing “Shine” as if they’ve had some “Road to Damascus ” conversion and have realised that Take That are alight really. Well you’re not getting away with it, do you hear! “Shine” still sounded to me like Fatty Barlow trying to take a dump in a bus shelter in Congleton, “Shine” ? “Shite” more like. But it’s only a harmless pop song, albeit a big fat steaming pile of poo of a song and one that will sell shed loads. Yes it’s harmless.. nothing to GET WORKED UP ABOUT !”

LAURA : “Gary Barlow wants to ‘Ride On A Star’ with us if we ’stay by his side’, apparently. I might follow him around and see if he’s lying… I love the way they only give you 1minute of the song(on Myspace) to keep you on your toes, as if the second half isnt going to be exactly the same as the first half. I know this is a predictable thing to say but I cant believe that hundreds of thousands of people ACTUALLY buy this stuff…like actually hear this on the radio and say ‘that was so beautiful…they’re lovely fellas them…aren’t they…’ and then go out to Woolworths and buy it. Actually I can…. I guess they are people who only own 5 cds…(two of which are “Now.. 22″ and “Now… 24″). I saw a program about female Take That fans who convinced their fatherless children that their real fathers were members of Take That….. by pointing at Gary or Howard or whatever and saying ‘look! its daddy!’ I mean that is probably the most disturbing thing ever…..fuck a doodle doo. Anyway….survey says…..’shit sandwich.’

SPENCER: I saw old GB in Dublin Castle last month he looked match fit- The That are back! Alas the song fades out after the first chorus on their myspace (failure to understand modern marketing techniques by the majors- they’re loosing again) so I can’t hold a proper opinion- unless it is actually about 30 seconds long in which case I like it- epic production in a tiny space”

DOGWOOD: “Rule the world? The cry of every megalomaniac since the dawn of time and I suppose Take That are no different, although this sounds like something you’d hear at a Labour Party Conference as a soundtrack to Gordon Brown’s global ambitions. Like Brown, it’s tepid, insipid, bland and has as much chance of ruling the world as him calling an election today. Rhubarb.”

ELZ: “Mums across the planet must adore this song.”

“Bland bland sexy Marks and Spencers music for 37 year old ladies. with a bit of A-ha thrown in. 1/10″

FRAN: ” I never liked them, and this song isn’t going to change my mind. ‘Shine’ was better, anyway.” 😛

“Take That… well, they’re better than the Arctic Monkeys.If I can blot out the scars of my adolescence caused by these greasy catalogue models and look at this track objectively, I guess it’s a nice little ballad, when all’s said and done. The context may not be necessary, but it is quite telling that this is a movie theme, and although I shudder at the thought of Gary Barlow getting an Oscar, it’s probably worth noting that among all the worthless awards that are out there today, the Oscar for best music hasn’t been worth a dime since they gave one to Phil Collins. I digress. Since Shine came out, I’ve had to accept the truth that this group of blokes, who are still badly in need of haircuts, can actually turn out a nice little pop tune. The production is certainly not as hollow and heartless as it used to be in their heyday, which can only be a good thing.Loses points though, because myspace only offers the first verse and chorus before fading out. Hmph.”

Song 4 KINGS OF LEON Charmer

“This is about as charming as one of my Aunt Sandra’s love bites which she dishes out gratis to any poor sod who happens to be in the Arndale Centre. I must admit I was quite taken by the name – Kings of Leon, sounds quite regal but as soon as the caterwauling and screeching started it began to take me back to Jake Summers and I didn’t think I could face him twice in a day. Would appeal to a certain breed of psychotic teenager.”

ELZ: “Oh my god, STOP SCREAMING. Other than that… actually, I’m not sure there is an “other than that”. The screaming is just so distracting that I can’t concentrate on any good parts of the song. Okay, there was a nice intro. With no screaming. And this instrumental break with no screaming is also rather– oh, a scream.”

SPENCER: Now this is great- good melody,I like the barking. Also the drums don’t come in where you’d expect- sounds like the Pixies with some light Iron Maiden guitars- still can’t work out that bass- worth a few listens- also like the line about giving Karma to the farmer- they make it work- but it shouldn’t on paper.

: “Well, they’re mightily ticked off about something, aren’t they? I have to be honest, if I were telling the tale of a young lady who was something of a charmer, I may be able to inject a little joy into the crooning. But then, I am no minstrel, and these fellows are not serenading a fair damsel. This kind of attitude should be expected from a band whose top eight My Space friends appears to consist mainly of groupies, I suppose. Not for me, I have to say.”

“Isn’t their Myspace page “friends” supposed to be representative of the song “Fans” *consults solicitors over Mr Lions Kings Of Leon’s Fan Slur*. Anyway I truly loved Kings Of Leon’s “Youth And Young Manhood” a classic, but I don’t think anything they’ve done since has lived up to that. Somebody told me this was actually called “Chalmers” I was hoping for a tale about how Judith Chalmers was managing without her license fee funded holidays, but I fear I have been misled. I like the lazy drawling vocal,(Horlicks ? Pfft Toilet Duck please with a splash of Domestos , just to take the edge off it) and the scratchy guitars … but the scream keeps making me jump. Arrgh I’ve just split my hot Bovril all over my slacks!!! “

“My brother dates my sister and my uncle dates my sister and my cousin dates my sister and my sister dates me…good tune…but they’re a bit inbred yah…- 2 heads. 7.5/10″

FRAN: “Is it the samey “indie” that’s so in fashion nowadays? Yes it is. Do we need yet another Strokes soundalike?”

LAURA:” I love their new album, it’s so fucking cool. This song actually could be the Pixies, love the way its so stripped down and raw. It sounds like he’s singing through a blender after swigging paint stripper which is definitely a good thing. I really admire them for not over doing this song, its sexy and simple and great to jump around to when your over the limit. They have completely ripped off The Pixies on this though. Nevermind. It’s REALLY GOOD. “


LAURA :“I cant decide whether I love these little pixies or hate them. I really wanted to like them for some reason, maybe because they look so cute or something . After listening to this song about 13 times I realised these things:-….they remind me of the Sugababes …. if they were Swedish and could play guitars…. and they are probably going to be massive. The lyrics are a bit suspect at times in a kind of ‘we just made everything rhyme…’ kind of way, but it adds to the sweet charm of the song and although the vocal line is a bit unimaginative at times, the keyboards save the day with a tune that really infects. I can imagine 13 year old girls loving it, and I’m happier that they listen to this than the Sugababes. “

FRAN: “Great stuff, cannot wait to hear a full album. I heard someone saying ‘the new Pipettes’ : not quite, but great nonetheless.”

MIKEY: “The pippiest poppiest pop soppyness this side of the pip,pop Pipettes. 7/10″

SPENCER: “Some interesting out of synch keyboard sounds, don’t like the vocal a bit amercan teen series, like someone has kidnapped Brooke Hogan and tied her to Belle and Sebastian with the flu.”

“Along with Nick and Jason from Tack!Tack!Tack! I helped discover these young scamps under a cabbage leaf in The Anders Panders Garden of Pop . Yes, and we helped create a buzz using t’internet. So I am biased and therefore can only say, great wonky pop. Even better when you learn that the bands collective age is just 2 years old. Interesting fact ,”Hitten” means “The Hit”

ELZ: “Now, this is proper pop. I like the synthy-keyboardy bits in this, though I’m afraid the vocals are a little bit too similar to something I can’t put my finger on but apparently dislike, to really grab me. I can’t deny the danceability, though! And the chorus is just fab.”

” Now, there’s that joy I was after! The drums at the beginning almost made me believe I was about to get Pull Shapes by the Pipettes, which is never a bad thing. The upbeat tempo and happy key are quite deceptive, since the words are clearly quite melancholy and the message of the song seems to be one of longing for things to be different. I have less to say about this because I like it so much, but short of enthusing maniacally, I’ll just give it a simple thumbs-up.”

DOGWOOD: “Sounds like Dusty Springfield. So far so good. Goes a bit wonky but then recovers. That’s OK, we all have our wonky moments. They’re Swedish. Oh well. The lass singer is very pleasant on the ear and this is by far the best of the bunch. Yes, very pleasant I could imagine Daniel O’Donnell doing this although with a bit more of an Irish lilt like. A top of the pops for sure. I’d buy this and play it on my show I would. Settle down.”

And Finally A Video and Song – KYLIE ” TWO HEARTS”

-“Sassy Aussie Goldfrapp copysville. 4/10″

SPENCER: “What can I say? Kylie’s art belongs in the visual medium. This is a bit flat though with obvious falsetto added to give it a missing ‘something’. Kylie is in one of her perodically forgettable dips but don’t worry folks- she’ll get better ”

ELZ : “Reviewing a video, this takes me back… So, well…-this is a bit rubbish, isn’t it? It’s also very much a Madonna rip-off, the video at least. The song is intensely catchy, but the video looks like someone’s chucked Kylie in a blender with Blond Ambition Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and a little bit of Alison Goldfrapp to round things out. The song is already stuck in my head after a listen-and-a-half, so I imagine she’s got another hit on her hands, but I don’t think it’s her best.”

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear oh dear. Now I know this lass, not personally like but I am aware of celebrity status and I have to say that watching this video the words ‘trying too hard’ sprung to mind. Let’s be honest, she’s a nice lass who wants to be a bad girl, can’t quite pull it off and ends up looking like a stunt double for that loud mouthed American harridan Madonna. Don’t do it lass, go back to singing about lollipops and locomotions, or whatever it is that you do. The video is an unconvincing cacophony of lads in quifs, slightly odd looking boy/girls in make up. I’m no Noel Edmonds but even I know that this looks and sounds like a cheap Christmas bauble.

MR LION : My love of Kylie goes back a long way. While I admit there’s a bandwagon that got moving when Spinning Around was released, and also a sympathy embargo on anybody who has a harsh word to say about a woman who survived breast cancer, it’s worth noting that her career has been a rocky one and it’s something of an achievement to still warrant such positive attention after so long in the cold light of the music industry. I think this is a brilliant track and yet another welcome change in direction for both her sound and her image. I’m not naive enough to think that this is in anyway Ms Minogue’s own doing; I’m quite aware that there’s a multinational marketing machine behind her and a manufactured corporate image. With that in mind, the video really is an exercise in style, which isn’t always a bad thing in pop promos. The lady herself looks fantastic, as always, and I personally like the hair and makeup and costumes. It’s fairly unmemorable though, and I’m sure the song will live with me much longer than the video does. Thumbs up again then, and thank heavens this didn’t turn out to be a cover of that old Phil Collins song of the same name. Good grief, have I really mentioned him twice today?

FRAN: I like it when she tries something different from what she did in the past. (Then again, I’m one of the very few people who liked her ‘indie’ record from 1997. ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ and ‘Did It Again’ were fabulous. So underrated.) This one is a grower. A bit Goldfrapp-ish, both track and video.

Kyleeeee does rock! Err no…yet again Kylie does a Madonna…by reinventing herself and getting some more botox. Great outfits and stuff and it is a beautifully presented pop package but there always seems to be something desperate and contrived about Kylie, like there’s a bunch of other people telling her how and what to sing and what to wear (shock shock horror!) where as Madge is quite obviously the mastermind behind herself and is completely in control of EVERYTHING she does and will always do this kind of thing better. But who cares? its pop and the song is flawless in terms of production and is a safe bet for a number one. Maybe I’m just jealous of her black and silver catsuit……drool…………..

Crivins whoose just drooled on my head? ! I wonder if this is a very smart piece of marketing, Kylie to appear in Doc Who at Xmas “2 Hearts” ? clever! I often wonder what Ramsey Streets Harold Bishop would have made of young Charlene Mitchell’s sex kitten shenanigans. This is as smooth as a freshly buttered banister..with less emotional depth. Our Kylie’s never been a great singer, and her voice is as thin as newly strained cabbage water here, her actings passable but she’s no Meryl Streep either. Our Kylie remains ever popular though, I suppose because she seems like a nice person, I have more time for her than I do for the likes of that dreadful gurning cretin Robbie Williams, or other “musical products.” Sadly if I were to analyse the reason why I don’t mind Our Kylie too much it would probably reveal me to be as shallow a puddle in the Strzelecki Desert. Yes two words- “hot pants”, I can’t deny they can get most chaps hot and bothered. I really rather like the song but then again I was a fan of the original which I much prefer. Sadly Our Kylie doesn’t add much to it vocally, she has a tendency when doing covers to give the song a “Dementor’s Kiss” whereby she has an uncanny ability to extract all the joy, verve and life from the original … still thats never hindered “Pert cheeks” Minogue in the past- …will be huge..Have a listen to the original…2 Hearts by Kish Mauve

Much better I think

Well thanks to all the reviewers, Laura, Mr Lion, Fran, Elz, Mikey,Spencer and of course Dogwood it looks like Those Dancing Days is the winner this time round, I wonder what the readers opinions are …..until next time …keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars ….I’m off for a nice cup of a certain milky malted bedtime drink……..

( The VPME Review is sponsored by Horlicks and Bovril)

“What’s Interesting About Being Normal?” – Screaming Ballerinas Interview

“Crucify” By Screaming Ballerinas

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness inexplicanly thrust upon them by the NME . But rest assured SCREAMING BALLERINAS would not wilt under the pressure of being touted as “the next big thing”……Their Disco punk pop is just the ticket and exactly what the stale corporate indie rock scene needs right now. Screaming Ballerina look as good as they sound , and in the fabulously named Laura Trouble (or a ” Lorra Lorra Trouble” as Cilla would say) they have a singer whose crystal clear vocals manage to convey sweetness and menace in equal measure which should appeal to Indie kids and pop fans alike. A recent line up shake up has seen the addition of Anastasia Barker ( keyboards) and Ross Hammond (bass) joining Laura, Ollie Pound ( guitar) and David Flower(drums) . Their incendiary live performances are currently creating a huge industry buzz and it seems only a matter of time before they’re snapped up by a big label.

Some bands contrive to be cool, but few bands are as effortlessly cool as Screaming Ballerinas. We dispatched the quite obviously uncool Mr Von Pip to meet up with the young scamps and to ask one or tutu questions!

VP: How did you all meet?

OLLIE- I lose track… Laura and I met through the “Dolly Rockers Club” she ran with Eloise Define. We wanted to make a pop racket that we could dance to. The band that would be the Dolly Rockers ideal house band basically. David moved from Derby to be in the band, after Laura found him on myspace.

LAURA – David drove all the way down from Derby just to audition! My space was the middle man to how we met both him and Ross! Ross started out on keyboards then sold his keyboard to Stars(Ansastacia) when she took over! Ross is now bass player extrodinaire! I met Ollie through going out and stuff, I think it was before Dollys even started! Nambucca on Holloway Road was the culprit I reckon…which is where I met Stars too…..drinking and hugging and falling over alot!

ANASTASIA- Met Laura when she was dressed as a bunny/fluffy creature of some kind- on the dance floor of a mutual friend’s fancy dress birthday party at Nambucca a couple of years ago.. Well at least I think it was then…

DAVID- I met the band simply through asking for an audition via a bulletin I was sent on myspace! They liked what I could do and so asked me to join.

VP: Screaming Ballerinas is a great name , where did it come from ?

OLLIE- That was our mate Tara Starlet! We were talking about dance I think, not really sure – but the conversation got onto ballerinas somehow. We thought it at the same time I think – the image just popped into both our heads.

LAURA – When Ollie suggested it I was like “Don’t be fucking mad” but it is pretty genius and just suits us..

ANASTASIA- Tara Starlet came up with the name?? – didn’t know that. Love that girl.. Thanks Tara!

VP: When will you in a position to start releasing your songs for public consumption

LAURA- When we are ready for world domination you will Know! We are just exited about the new line up and getting the live thing and the songs nailed at the moment.

We’re already doing that I think – at the moment we just want people out there to know and love the songs. So, slowly but surely we’re getting them up on myspace for people to hear. we’re taking our time on each one, so that it doesn’t go up until we’re all happy with it. we’ done another 3 which are nearly ready – and should be up really soon.

VP : Is Indie music dead ! Has the current scene lost its ethics and become too corporate and mainstream ?

ROSS- In some ways maybe, Indie music is changing all the time anyway. What was indie in the 90’s is not the same as Indie now. We’re just trying to do something new.

LAURA- I don’t think there is a scene is there? Just loads of boring bands that sound exactly the same. Copying the Libertines or jumping on the new rave band wagon. But I don’t really care, all the more room for us….

OLLIE- What gets me is that we really don’t have stars anymore. Bowie looked like he was from another planet, and behaved like a star – you’ve got to be a bit arrogant and tread that fine line, but few people really do anymore. The Internet has made bands / people too accessible – and that weird desire that everyone has to be ‘really normal, actually’ is bollocks. What’s interesting about being normal?

ANASTACIA -I agree with Laura- the ‘Indie’ sound is ready to become a bit more adventurous. ‘Indie’ means independent- and I think some bands should take more notice of this.

DAVID- I ‘m not interested in any of it. Besides XX Teens and few other bands, I only really pay attention to metal and that’s going down the toilet too!

VP: You’ve got great tunes and you all look the part . Was your image carefully crafted or is this pretty much the way you all are ?

LAURA- I love dressing up so I would do that no matter what but luckily the rest of them are hotties anyway. Its not contrived at all…we didn’t have a meeting and discuss a ‘look’ or bring in a stylist or anything!

ROSS- It’s the way we are, we don’t dress up to rehearse or anything like that.

OLLIE – It is important that you look coordinated as a band, no matter how contrived some people might see that statement. (it should just be about the music innit?) – but thats rubbish – its about the whole package. Think about all the great bands, and whether its pronounced or not, the band has a dress code. Doesn’t have to be a uniform as such – but we tend to dress fairly similarly anyway –

ANASTACIA-Not carefully crafted at all- but Laura is definitely to thank for my new found skills of back combing my hair.

DAVID-I dress how I like, how I do everyday.

VP : What would you all say , individually , was the one song or moment in Pop that made you sit up and think “Yeah thats it thats what I want to do” and inspired you all to get into music?

LAURA- I remember watching my dads “Old Grey Whistle Test” video when I was 15 and jumping around with a TV remote control as a microphone to “Kid” by the Pretenders. Brit pop was also just this big shiny exciting world that i wanted to be a part of. Seeing Pulps video for ‘Common People’ for the first time also made me want to start a band.

ROSS- Brit pop, I saw a documentary about the Stone Roses, thought they were ridiculously cool.

OLLIE- For me it was probably Nirvana. I’d been into music hugely before – but seeing the way Kurt played guitar made me feel like I could do it as well.

ANASTACIA- For me- it’s Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins- there music is the sound track of my childhood, and I can confidently say that Thom Yorke and Billy Corgan are two of my heroes.

DAVID-Drumming was what got me into playing with bands. It was listening to “Nevermind” from the early age of ten that made me take up drums, that and being inspired by my best mate during my first year at secondary school. The funny thing is that nowadays I find Dave Grohl extremely overrated as a drummer. My heroes today would be Dave Lombardo, Vinnie Paul and the legendary Buddy Rich.

VP : Has the Internet been helpful in establishing a fan base , or is the power of the net exaggerated?

OLLIE- The nets pretty helpful with almost everything. I wonder how on earth bands promoted themselves before it at times!

ROSS-Myspace is unbelievable for plugging your band. Especially gigs, its the main form of networking for any band I would imagine. I wouldn’t be in the band if it weren’t for myspace.

DAVID- I’d say the net has certainly helped us to reach out to people. Myspace is a brilliant tool to use for checking out bands, everything you need is all on one page. It makes the need for the traditional website seem pointless now.

ANASTACIA- The Internet is so helpful to bands- it’s a way of distributing your music not only amongst your friends but around the world.

VP: Whats been your most memorable live performance so far ?

OLLIE- Bristol Academy supporting the Rakes was pretty special – the crowd was going nuts. Was amazing –

DAVID-For me it had to be our gig at the Birmingham Academy when we supported The Rakes on a few of their dates. We were confident and the crowd seemed to like it all!

Im just excited about the next chapter. with the new line up. Its a new band really…woo-hooo

ANASTACIA-I haven’t yet played a live show with the band since joining- but I can’t wait!

VP: Whats were the first singles you all bought as youngsters ( tell the tuth ! )

ROSS- Probably something by Will Smith, “Summer Time” maybe?

OLLIE- I’m honestly not that sure… I didn’t really buy singles when I was young, more often bought albums. I know the first album I bought was Queen’s innuendo on 12 inch. The first CD I bought was Supergrass “I Should Coco.” The first cassette was probably “Nevermind.” Single though – I’m gonna say the Longpigs “Lost Myself.” I bought it from Woolworths in Stourport.

LAURA- Probably “The Bart Man “or something. Ha ha. Or the “My Little Pony” soundtrack….

ANASTACIA- Honestly.. Either a Take That single, or a SpiceGirls single. They were every little girl’s favourite band at the time 🙂

DAVID-The first single I ever had was Oasis’s “Do You Know What I mean?”. I had it on tape format. I couldn’t afford to buy music before that time, otherwise my answer would have been Prodigy’s “Outta Space”!!!

VP: Whats planned for the rest of 2007 ?

OLLIE- A series of breath taking gigs with our new shiny fantastic line up!

DAVID- I guess we have to write more and more and gig in and out of london. It’s still early days for us and we’ve had a big lineup change recently, so we’ve got a lot of working to pressing on with.

VP : Sum up Screaming Ballerinas sound in five words …

ROSS –Dancey (if thats even a word), fast, pop, punk juicy goodness. xx

OLLIE – Music you can dance to

ANASTACIA- As good as it gets

DAVID- We don’t sound like Blondie

LAURA – A disco pop punk explosion


On Myspace

The Dolly Rockers Club


“Crucify” by Screaming Ballerinas

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