Day Two of our festive countdown, then, and we’re going to showcase one of the best Christmas tunes ever made. Picture the scene: it’s 1981, and this new-fangled thing called ‘rap’ is all over the place. You’re the new-wave post-punk outfit The Waitresses. How do you react? By releasing a yuletide song titled ‘Christmas Wrapping’ of course, in which awesomely cool (and much-missed) frontwoman Patty Donahue narrates the story of a very mundane holiday season – with, naturally, a happy ending to round things off. Enjoy!
Music fans come in all shapes and sizes - from casual listeners to full-on, expert aficiandos. Somewhere towards the latter end of this scale is the collector: a fan whose love for a particular artist or band is so great, they feel the need to get their hands on every single related object, from autographs to t-shirts to deluxe 247-set DVDs. The items we’ve uncovered below, however, would surely appeal to only the most dedicated of followers. Let’s take a look at the 5 strangest items of music memorabilia …
5. KISS coffins
What’s the ultimate statement of fandom? Why, carrying on your love of Gene Simmons into the afterlife, that’s what. Now – with the help of the Kiss Kasket – you can rest comfortably (forever) in the knowledge that not even death can stop you rockin’.
4. Thom Yorke’s toenails
Radiohead’s brand of post-millenial angst fused with progressive electronica strikes a (heavily distorted) chord with a lot of people. Not sure how many of them feel such an affinity that they’d like to get hold of Thom Yorke’s toe clippings, though. To the guy who raided Yorke’s dressing room a couple of years back, then put the aforementioned clippings for sale on the internet: good luck finding a buyer.
3. Elvis’s pill bottle
Pay tribute to the King by reliving his classic prescriptions – including this one for Benadryl, an anithistamine with sedative effects. Someone liked this so much they bought it for $800 in 2009.
2. Mogwai pacemaker
Scottish post-rock masterminds Mogwai (if you haven’t heard their stuff, check it out now) decided to sell a unique piece of memorabilia in 2007, in order to help out the British Heart Foundation. The very appropriate item itself: the pacemaker of drummer Martin Bulloch.
1. Britney’s hair
In 2007, a trouble Britney Spears walked into a salon and insisted that all her hair be shaved off. The shorn locks were then gathered up by wily staff and placed on eBay. The sale was later cancelled (presuambly because it’s, y’know, a bit exploitative) … but not before it reached a bidding price of one million dollars.
We’ve written before about the best hidden tracks that lie tucked away in your music collection, but now we’re going one step further: there are some downright incredible things that certain creative-types have tucked away amidst albums you once thought were familiar. Want to join us as we take a look at some of them? Let’s go …
5. Aphex Twin – hidden images
Aphex Twin – Richard D. James to his friends – has always maintained a reputation for being a little eccentric. His endeavours on the Windowlicker EP set a whole new standard for creepiness, however. By utilising a spectrograph and playing the right track at the right moment, you get this:
4. Mike Oldfield – secret swearing
Everyone knows Mike Oldfield as the mastermind behind ‘Tubular Bells’, the pioneering electro-prog album which both birthed the theme to The Exorcist and made Richard Branson’s Virgin Records a massive success story. Mike and Rick never did quite see eye to eye after that, however. Sick of ongoing label intervention, Mike slipped a morse code message into his album Amarok. 48 minutes in …
… is the message ‘F**k Off RB’. Nice.
3. The Flaming Lips – secret message
Got a CD copy of the Flaming Lips classic ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’? Take it apart and look at the inside of the right spine. You should come across a cheeky hidden message which reads “You Have Found The Secret Message, Do You Have too Much Time on Your Hands? …Let it Go.” At which point, you should find something better to do – like listening to the album itself, which is awesome.
2. Pink Floyd – backwards chatter
Backwards messages are a staple ‘hidden’ item in the music world, but – as with so many other things – no-one pulled it off with the same weird uniqueness as Pink Floyd. Play a section of ‘Empty Spaces’ from ‘The Wall’ in reverse, and this is what you get:
In case you couldn’t make it out, the band congratulate the listener upon finding the message, before being interrupted by a phone call …
1. Radiohead – two masterpieces in one
Now this … this is special. You know ‘OK Computer’ and ‘In Rainbows’, those two seminal Radiohead albums that have enriched your life over the years? Well, guess what? Go on, guess.
There’s a hidden album in them both.
Released ten years apart, you can stagger the playing order of both albums to create a cohesive listening experience. Create a playlist. Begin with ‘Airbag’ (track one of OK Computer), then fade over to ’15 Step’ (track one of In Rainbows). Keep fading back and forth between albums between tracks and something incredible emerges – these two albums seem designed to complement each other. Not just in a ‘nice coincidence’ sort of way – in a ‘these songs drift perfectly from one to the other in complete connection’ sort of way.
Argument rages as to whether this was intentional or just a happy accident. Either way, it’s an intriguing listen.
‘Coolness’ can be such a fickle concept sometimes. One minute you’re the toast of Pitchfork, the next you’re being slated on a million message boards for ‘selling out’ or mysteriously losing whatever touch you had in the first place. It’s never been quite clear who decides on what’s ‘cool’ or not (our god-like cultural overlords, perhaps, plotting the rise and fall of pop-culture from a volcano fortress somewhere in the mid-Pacific), but the rules of the game seem genuinely unfair a lot of the time. Here’s a look, then, at some of the acts whose talents have often been overlooked simply because they’re so ‘uncool’ …
5. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Boring, trad-heavy, MOR dadrock, right? WRONG. Petty’s ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation is pretty much a masterclass in songwriting, and all the hip sneering in the world ain’t gonna change that.
Okay, so they’re lyrically simplistic and Chris Martin can be a bit whiny, but let’s not pretend that they don’t write great tunes.
Bono’s constant sanctimony and messiah-complex can be wearisome, true – a fair trade-off for three decades of killer songs, one might argue, however.
2. The Pretenders
‘I’ll Stand By You’ might have been overplayed on a million romantic-drama trailers, but if you don’t like ‘Brass In Pocket’ then you may well have no soul.
1. Bruce Springsteen
One of the finest singer-songwriters in history has bizarrely found himself labelled ‘middle-of-the-road’ and ‘leaden’ by a legion of try-too-hard cool kids. Who should stop it.
Let’s say you’re last on the bill at a Battle Of The Bands. You know your songs are great, but what you really need to do is make an impression. You need certain elements of your stage performance to resonate with the audience; grasp their imagination like no-one else has. How? Well, by using the weirdest instrument you can find, of course. Here’s a quick rundown of five likely candidates that will have the crowd muttering ‘what the hell is that?’ in unison …
5. The Tesla Coil
Up until now you’re probably most familar with the Tesla Coil as the subject of a particularly boring science lesson. From this moment on, you’ll remember it as an incredibly awesome way of playing the ‘Ghostbusters’ theme with pure electricity.
Many a fight breaks out in the BAMM.tv office when it comes to the ‘who gets to ride the segway on their lunch break’ debate. Not the most blistering of confrontations, sure, but such arguments can’t help but make us think about some of the more epic feuds in the scrap-happy world of rock and roll. Here’s a look at five of the ‘best’ …
5. Jarvis Cocker vs Michael Jackson
Possibly the last time anything even remotely exciting happened at annual blandfest The Brit Awards – in 1996, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker grew tired of Michael Jackson’s messianic posturing during a performance of ‘Earth Song’, and proceeded to mimic the time-honored tradition of ‘farting in his general direction.’ Arrest and subsequent media frenzy ensued.
4. Jay Z vs Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher is not impressed with the fact that hip-hop megastar Jay-Z has been booked for (traditionally guitar-led) UK festival Glastonbury. Gallagher states this on several high-profile occasions. Jay-Z responds by emerging onstage to a sneering version of Gallagher’s ballad ‘Wonderwall’, thereby stepping the rivalry up a notch.
3. Courtney Love vs Dave Grohl
Where to start? Walking issue-magnet Courtney Love has long voiced her disdain for the ex-bandmate of her late husband Kurt Cobain, claiming – among other things – that Grohl has no legal stake in any of Nirvana’s creative output. Grohl maintained his image as the ‘nicest guy in rock’ by staying silent in public, commenting only via songs like ‘Let It Die’ (above).
2. Dandy Warhols vs Anton Newcombe
A rivalry so lengthy and intense it fuelled ‘Dig’, an entire documentary feature. While the Dandy Warhols are not known for being shrinking violets, their number one competitor Anton Newcombe (whose group The Brian Jonestown Massacre were tipped as being as big as the Dandies) is a full-on whirlwind of animosity and drama-queen tantrum.
1. Megadeth vs Metallica
After being kicked out of Metallica, Dave Mustaine went on to form Megadeth – one of the biggest, most successful, iconic metal bands in the world. It’s very telling that – despite this achievement – his resentment towards his former bandmates simmered nicely for the best part of two decades …
Some bands are just too good to actually exist – should their awesomeness manifest itself in the real world, chances are the very fabric of reality could collapse in on itself. Maybe. Probably. Look, we haven’t researched the scientific logistics of the whole thing. We’re not Stephen Hawking, you know.
Take our hand (come on, its still not summer yet, you could use the body warmth) and join us for a rundown of the Top 5 Greatest Fictional Bands in history …
(Note: we decided not to include Spinal Tap in this list, because that would possibly be the most obvious thing ever, and we’re nothing if not contrary).
5. Wyld Stallyns – ‘Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure’
Okay, so they can’t actually play (despite a plot device in which their future songwriting skills help unite the planet in peace) but we’ll be damned if an evening at a Bill and Ted gig wouldn’t be the best party this side of 1988.
4. The Soggy Bottom Boys – ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’
George Clooney gets in touch with his bluesgrass side – with remarkable singalong results – in The Coen Brothers’ 2000 comedy masterwork.
3. Three Times One Minus One – ‘Mr Show’
Hilariously bad spoof act from comic geniuses David Cross and Bob Odenkirk (whose TV comeback in recent years has seen him killing it in ‘Breaking Bad’). If these guys actually existed, there’s no doubt that even whistling one of their tunes would get you laid in a heartbeat.
2. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – ‘The Muppet Show’
Our furry friends rock out to the utmost.
1. The Commitments – ‘The Commitments’
Often regarded as the best Irish film of all time, it’s very telling that the producers placed musical ability at the top of their casting wish-list. They wished, and they most certainly got it.