Fireball XL5

Another blast from my past, a song by Russell Crowe’s ex father in law, Don Spencer (in his younger days) and number 19 on my personal list of “31 songs”.

This TV show theme song was one of the first records my parents bought for me.


Musical Tastes of Fictional Characters

One thing I’m enjoying when I read Stephen Booth’s books is the occasional musical reference. It seems like his Detective Constable Ben Cooper (maybe even Booth himself?) shares my musical taste.

I think it was in Booth’s first book Black Dog* that Cooper listened to the Waterboys, and in the book I’m currently reading, Blind to the Bones, Cooper has borrowed another CD from my collection: Green Blade Rising by the Levellers.

Here’s a track from the album.

Ben Cooper poked around for a CD to play on the way back to Edendale in his Toyota. He found a recent Levellers album and was pleased by the title Green Blade Rising.

On the way out of the village, he noticed two men with a tractor and a length of rope near the pool in the river. Another man was standing in the water in PVC waders. He was already pretty well covered in duckweed as he struggled to attach the rope to one of the boards that floated on the surface of the pool.

‘Strange,’ said Cooper to himself. And he tapped his fingers to the Levellers as he drove out of Withens



see correction here

A Dedicated Man, Peter Robinson

In the second of Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series, the body of Harry Steadman,  a respected and widely liked local historian, is discovered partially buried beneath a dry stone wall.

Why would a man like that be murdered?


Alan Banks is convinced that the answer to the crime lies somewhere in the past, within the man’s close relationships, so digs into the histories of those who knew the victim best.

The start of this book suffers from the same issues I raised with Robinson’s first Banks book: an apparent breast fixation. In this case I found the descriptions in the first couple of pages more gratuitous than those in the previous book – where at least there was a relevance to them within the plot.

Fortunately the rest of the book doesn’t continue in that vein.

The case of  Steadman’s murder had enough twists and turns and unpredictability to make me want to keep reading. But the mystery isn’t the only appealing factor. I enjoy the continuing connection that books like this give to their leading characters.

An important part of Alan Banks’ character is his love of music, and the books have regular references to his eclectic tastes .

The video below is a rendition of a song that one of the book’s characters, a folk singer, performs at a pub concert attended by DCI Banks.


31 Songs – the overture

Number 17 isn`t really a song, although it does have a choral introduction provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

This version of the 1812 overture conducted by Eugene Ormandy was one of the most important pieces of music in my late teens to early 20s.

My first full time job was in a bank. I’d spend  most lunch breaks in my car with the seat reclined and my recording of this performance playing at high volume on the stereo. I’m sure that eventually I knew it so well that I didn’t really need to listen to it anymore, but could play it all in my head.

With a finale featuring real cannons and church bells – I`ve never heard a better version.



“31 Songs” Picking up pieces

In my previous posts I’ve tried to maintain a reasonably chronological record of significant songs from my past. But it’s inevitable that some would slip my memory and be omitted from that chronology.

Here I’ll try to fill some of the gaps. These two should have come between songs 2 and 3.

14) Partridge Family.

How do I pick one significant song from a TV show I liked in my early teens? I don’t recall which ones I like best back then. I used to sit beside the TV and try to record the songs on my dad’s old reel to reel recorder (it was a year or two until I got my own portable cassette recorder).

My memories have perhaps been muddied by my recent reintroduction to the series on DVD. I chose the song at the link because I think it would have appealed to me back then, particularly the guitar effect preceding the chorus.


15) Child in Time, Deep Purple.

A major leap in taste after the Partridge Family. I was introduced to Deep Purple through a High School music class where the teacher played their album Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and a former school friend from England who I was still writing to at the time had mentioned them in one of his letters. This song for some reason is one I remember most.

The following should come somewhere between song 5 and 6

16) Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush.

Like most people, this song was my introduction to Kate Bush one of the more original singers, songwriters and performers I’ve come across in “mainstream” music. Not my favourite song of hers, but probably the most significant. I’ve seen and heard some very dubious things written about Kate, her music and her voice, that probably say more about the “accusers” than the singer.