A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN
Steve McLean has been a long time friend of the blog, having contributed a few guest postings over the years, including his take on The Last Temptation of Elvis compilation album, an ICA on Chuck Mosley, an appreciation of the Marc & Lard radio show and around this time last year, a two-part piece which paid tribute to musical theatre. Oh, and he’s also a huge fan of Butcher Boy.
He makes a living (in part) from stand-up comedy, and, with the month of August coming around, he and many others will be making his way to Edinburgh in search of an audience. I’ve been to a couple of Steve’s previous shows and been thoroughly entertained, and was therefore more than happy to say ‘Hell, Yes’, when he asked if he could use TVV to give the show a plug. Here he is…..
Sci fi and music go together. From 50s rockabilly in early B-movies to the cracking use of the guitar solo from November Rain in the latest Thor film. It you haven’t seen it, then it goes like this – Slow-motion Chris Hemsworth, a sackful of CGI, big riff from Slash and BOOM! A billion at the box office. Directing these days, eh? A Piece of piss. Anyone with a laptop can do it.
Sooooo, since my latest Edinburgh Fringe show is all about Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Barbie dolls (yeah I know, it’s gonna be a tough sell this year) I thought I’d scrape together a playlist of cool Sci-Fi songs. There’s a no Bowie rule as that would be too easy on account of him being an actual alien. There’s also no Dungeons and Dragons bullshit from the likes of Yes or King Crimson because it’s wank and you can pretty trace all incel culture back to it (I don’t know if that’s true, I just made it up on the spot but the more I think about it the more it seems plausible).
”Hey Stuart Murdoch, how did you come up with that great piano riff on The Boy With The Arab Strap?” He’ll never tell, the man is a genius. Unrelated to that listen to this great pub-rock keyboard work-out from McCartney. Paul is creating an MCU mash up years ahead of Kevin Feige but It’s a strange trio to choose to sing about. Magneto is, of course, a well-known big hitter among the fans but the other two geezers? You’d be forgiven for thinking they were just made up for the song, but both are bona fide comic book villains. They’ll probably get a Disney plus series made about them. Eventually everyone gets a Disney plus series made about them. Magneto famously got his name when writer Stan Lee was having an ice cream couldn’t chose between a Magnum and a Cornetto. He was originally going to be called Cornettnum (look it up). Can you believe this was a B-side? Stan Lee himself said the song was great. It is. Nice one Stuart MurCartney.
Oh, and it’s a song that features Jimmy McCulloch, from Dumbarton. He was the greatest of The Wings. (Note from JC…..Steve, although London-based for many years, is from Dumbarton, a town some 25 minutes by train to the west of Glasgow, on the north bank of the River Clyde)
This song isn’t about sex. It’s about being a Vampire. Watch the video and defend your virginity at all costs, except from Vampires they’re sexy as fuck and you’re only human (for now, at least). Sugababes had a habit of banging out amazing pop singles. No one out there was saying ‘oh I wonder what their new album is like’ but when it came to the top 40, regardless of their line up, they always seemed to nail it. Like a 2000s version of Supremes but with more WKD. The main sample in this is from Gary Numan‘s Are ”Friends” Electric, which is already pretty damn Sci-Fi. Numan is another one who might be an alien. The original is corking but this is so much better, even Gary thought so. Sci-Fi-tinged-vampire-sex-grit is a phrase you’d expect from something out of the demo section of the NME, not a manufactured girl group (Note for younger readers: The NME was a thing that nobody liked but were compelled to purchase until the internet came along and saved us 75p a week. To be honest most of us would still buy it if it was brought back on inky black and white sheets and featured an interview with Gedge every third issue). The Sugacubes were fucking boss.
This song is one of the reasons that Bernie Leadon chose to leave the Eagles (the other being that working with cunts is really hard, just ask Stills, Nash and Young or John Deacon). You don’t get many bluegrass instrumental space odysseys and that’s probably a good thing. It goes a touch prog but not enough to get on your tits. Best known as the theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’d say ‘I betcha didn’t know this was the Eagles’ but you probably did.
The early 1980s were the ruin of many of a 1970s rocker. Heroin, pills and Jack Daniels had been replaced by cocaine, speed and Tequila Sunrises. The hairy dinosaurs had to find some way to survive until 1985 when hairspray and Bruce Fairbairn would save their careers. Led Zep fans be glad your boys didn’t make it or they’d have recorded their own Dude Looks Like A Lady (search your feelings, deep down you know it’s true).
Alice was different though. He’d already navigated the trappings of the psych scene into solid 70s rockers with massive hits and then into a solo star. During his sober periods he wasn’t oblivious to the changes going on around him and realised he had to jump ship, at least for a short while. It’s a pity this wasn’t a bigger hit because I’d have loved to have seen more cyber-goth Cooper rather than the Rocky Horror tribute act he went on to become.
While there’s a definite vibe of aping the electropop of the day, it’s done with love and you can tell Cooper is a fan of the genre. It’s engulfed in Orwell vibes but since the Coop was a bit of an 80s Reaganist, maybe he’s coming from another angle? ‘We destroyed the government, we’re destroying time, no more problems in our way’ Is he perhaps saying we need the enemies of society to rail against or we ourselves become the enemy? No. He’s not. It’s just a song and I’ve just put more thought into the lyrics than the writer David Carron did. Still a banger though.
I always thought of TMBG as R.E.M.’s goofy but more fun little brother. They’ve got some proper Sci-Fi cred, if that’s not an oxymoron. Not only is this song from the album Apollo 18 released in 1992, the duo were also declared the official band of the International Space Year (International Women’s / Men’s Day is taking quite an ego bruising here. Space gets a whole year! FUCK YOU HUMANS). This song should have been a single, but they chose to release a version of the Lion Sleeps Tonight instead. The lion in that song is not in the jungle but in a spaceship. It’s on brand but it was still a fucking terrible choice when they had this riffing bad boy ready to go. They once released a version of Istanbul (Not Constantinople) as a single and no one told them to mark it, so what do you expect? Check out their kids album about science.
Peak Sci-Fi music. The 50s B-movie vibes I mentioned earlier, the Peter Gunn guitar, the boops, beeps and the beehives. Everything about this is stellar… interstellar! The B-52s flirted with Sci-Fi throughout their career songs like 52 Miles West of Venus, There’s a Moon in the Sky or Cosmic Thing. The B-52s are the ultimate Sci-Fi party band, when the our robot overlords finally rise up and take over I feel they’ll go easy on the B-52s. Even robots like to party.
What could be better than the Blake’s 7 theme? The Blake’s 7 theme in a Disco style! This is tune is GROOVIE AF! It tries to repeat the same trick that Meco had with their disco version of the Star Wars theme. The problem of course was the while Star Wars was watched by gazillions worldwide and captured the imagination of children everywhere, Blake’s 7 was watched by a few dozen and captured the imagination of the kids who had grown out of Doctor Who but weren’t quite old enough to smoke. Tough market to sell to. Add to this, disco music was well on its way to bankrupting the music industry (seriously, read this wiki entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#Impact_on_music_industry) Could the disco version of Blake’s 7 have saved the genre? We’ll never know, but almost certainly yes. Battle of the Loves: Geoff > Mike.
My latest Edinburgh Fringe show is called Action Figure Archive, Volume 2, WTF! It’s on at 3pm every day in Roti on the South Bridge (except Tuesdays). It’s free so if you’re visiting the Fringe and need someone to get out of the rain then I’m your guy.
As I mentioned earlier, Steve’s shows are a good laugh, albeit you better be prepared for audience participation. It’s part of the Free Fringe and so there’s no stupidly priced admission (+ booking fee!!), and in typical traition of the buskers, you can just put some money into a hat at the end of the show.
Here’s a link to all the details
And feel free when you put your money in the hat to tell Steve that you came along after reading about it on TVV.