May as well deal with the formalities of last week’s embarrassingly one-sided ties :-.

Echo & The Bunnymen 23 Butcher Boy 4
The Jam 23 The Jesus and Mary Chain 4

Here’s the final two ties of this round after which it gets really serious.  After this, you’ll only have one tie per week to consider and vote on….all the way through to the final in late July.

Match 7

The Wedding Present v Pulp

Two northern powerhouses go toe-to-toe.  Gedge v Cocker is worthy of the final itself and it will be very interesting to see what you all make of it, especially as the two songs coming up today come from albums which have been known to divide fans as they deviated somewhat from the tried, tested and trusted.

Here’s the facts thus far.

The Wedding Present strolled through the first round with Always The Quiet One ensuring a comprehensive hammering of Deacon Blue, following which  they have arguably had the ties of the past two rounds against Magazine (Kennedy v Shot By Both Sides) and Orange Juice….indeed the latter had to go to a replay as Edwyn & co had fielded an ineligible songs and TWP made the most of the reprieve.  My Favourite Dress (live) had been soundly beaten by Felicity, but the studio version of the former romped home against Falling and Laughing.

Pulp had a tough assignment in the first round but Pink Glove proved to be resilient enough to see off Kathleen by Tindersticks – my own thoughts being in that instance that many voted for the band rather than the song.  Next time out, Common People was aired leading to a ritual slaughtering of LambchopThe Fear was aired last time out and proved to strike that emotion into the heart of Pavement who ended up lying dazed and confused by the side of the road.

Dalliance (from Seamonsters, 1991) v This Is Hardcore (from This Is Hardcore, 1998)

From ICA #7….

A stunning and unexpected wall of sound that took the band to a whole new level in terms of fanbase and out of the realms of mere indie-pop. David Gedge doesn’t write 3 minute pop or rock songs; instead we often get mini soap-operas set to magical tunes. This is a real tear-jerker. Listen to it drunk and think about someone who once broke your heart. I dare you not to think of them and then say you weren’t fighting back the tears, whether of anger or sadness.

From ICA #32…courtesy of Tim Badger….

Clocking in at over six minutes, this is a sordid tale of secrets buried in PVC raincoats. Its sounds indescribably sinister. It s adopts a late night vibe and a raft of distorted guitar riffs that eventually gives way to strings and sounds so utterly dejected. One of the saddest Pulp songs around and probably the closest thing that geeks have to ‘Sexual Healing’.

Match 8

Lightning Seeds v Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

Two masters of the three-minute pop singles go toe-to-toe.  And, as it turns out, songs which were released as 45s are being fielded – one got to #15 at the second time of asking in 1995 while the other had reached #19 a decade previously

Here’s the facts thus far.

Lightning Seeds have avoided all the big guns to this stage, with Gemma Ray, Big Audio Dynamite and Saint Etienne all being seen off, albeit the winning margins have been gradually decreasing.  The original ICA was packed with singles and thus far You Showed Me, Pure and The Life of Riley have been aired.  Will this round be too big a step up?

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions have had a similar type of run early on with The Pipettes and Arab Strap being seen off but last time out there was a tough looking tie against Edwyn Collins but the result proved to be fairly decisive.  Forest Fire, Mister Malcontent and Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken have already been used, so it will be a test of the depth of the squad as we get to these latter stages.

Lucky You (single and from Jollification, 1995) v Brand New Friend (long version) (single and from Easy Pieces, 1985)

I penned both ICAs. This was #11:-

There were many who ridiculed Lloyd for the amount of aforementioned name dropping on the debut album and I’m convinced that the introduction of Jesus into the opening line of the first track off the second LP was him thumbing his nose or flicking the Vs at said critics. This is such a wonderful piece of pop music and it has aged as beautifully and smoothly as a classic malt whisky. This version is taken from the 12″ single release.

And from #135

Ian Broudie had enjoyed working with Terry Hall over an extended period of time, going back to producing The Colourfield as far back as 1984. In the early 90s, they co-wrote a number of songs for the Sense LP, including the title track, that was purloined for Home, the first solo album Terry Hall released under his own name in 1994. An album that was produced by…..yup…..Ian Broudie and which featured songs co-written with the likes of Craig Gannon, Andy Partridge, Nick Heyward and Damon Albarn.

And while they were in the studio making this solo LP, Broudie and Hall found time to compose this classic Lightning Seeds single, the one that would be the first lifted from Jollification that took the band back into the Top 20 for the first time since the debut single. (editor’s note…..not quite true as it had only reached #43 on first release….)

Happy deliberating.  Votes must be in by Friday 1 June at 10pm.



Here’s a song with a title that captures perfectly the Bunnymen over Butcher Boy:-

mp3 : The Popguns – Landslide

Here’s a song with a title that captures perfectly The Jam over the Mary Chain:-

mp3 : Dead Hope – Landslide

Both ties, even at this early stage, are forgeone conclusions.  I think, however, that at least one of next week’s match-ups will be tasty.  Tune in on Saturday to learn what I’m talking about.

In the meantime, tomorrow sees the start of a three-day guest mini-series which may well fascinate a number of you.


PS : Both of the above tunes come very highly recommended.

PPS : For some reason or other, a comment….nay, it’s more akin to a desperate plea from the heart….. ended up in the Spam box rather than being published last week.  I found it while doing a bit of clearing up last night.  It’s from Adam in the Bagging Area, and he offered this up on Thursday 16 May:-

“Can The Robster please note never to compare The Clash to Man City ever again please.

Thank you”



Bit of a non-event this week…..but again, huge thanks those of you who took the time to vote and to comment.  Micky’s usual e-mail vote contained this gem re BB v HMHB….

This is like asking if I prefer a bag of crisps with a pint in the pub or a pie & Bovril at a football match.  How do you compare?

He, in the end, went for the whimsical and witty musings of the blokes from Birkenhead, but he’ll be left disappointed that it is the singular bloke from Barking who has prevailed.

The Smiths 24  The Police 7
Billy Bragg 25 Half Man Half Biscuit 12

They now join The Housemartins and The Clash in the quarter-finals.  I can also reveal that The Smiths are the subject of an appeal in that their frontman, having now served a two-game suspension , should be allowed to rejoin the squad.   The organising committee will deliberate over the coming days and the verdict announced at the time the QF draw is revealed.

Here’s what now awaits your deliberations this week.  Couple of crackers IMHO.

Match 5

Echo & The Bunnymen v Butcher Boy

While many might have made a safe prediction that the Scousers would have progressed to this stage, it would have been a brave person to tip that the Scottish posters would have been their opponents, still in the competition when so many huge names have fallen by the wayside.  But that’s the nature of an unseeded and totally random knockout competition for you.

The Cutter, Zimbo and The Killing Moon have been fielded by Mac & co. to see off the differing challenges of Leonard Cohen, Everything But The Girl and The Durutti Column.  The first and third of those songs scored very heavily, evidence that this is free-scoring side more than capable of lifting the trophy as long as they don’t get too cocky.

On a personal note, I’m thrilled for John & co. to be given the chance to take on the really big guns. They had an easy win in Round 1 against The Magnetic Fields, since when they have squeaked through against Martin Stephenson and Wire by just two and three points respectively.  Can they now deliver a result of giant-killing proportions?

There Is No One Who Can Tell Where You’ve Been (from Profit In Your Poetry, 2007) v A Promise (from Heaven Up Here, 1981)

It was ICA #17 for Butcher Boy and here’s what I wrote at the time:-

A tune that is played more than any other within Villain Towers as I’ve taken its first thirty seconds and turned them into a customised ringtone for my mobile phone. All those influences that the early reviewers pinpointed (The Smiths, Tindersticks, Felt, Belle & Sebastian, R.E.M. and Go-Betweens )  can be heard in its perfect two and a half minutes. It’s also evidence that John is a fine singer although he personally considers that he is merely OK….but what it does highlight is just how talented he is as a musical arranger.

ICA #41 for Echo & The Bunnymen, with these words typed at 35,000 feet as I winged by way towards Toronto:-

If Postcard could claim to be the Sound of Young Scotland then those who came to prominence through Zoo Records are entitled to claim the same crown for Young Liverpool. This particular single could easily have been written and recorded by Wylie, Cope or The Wild Swans and it would have been equally majestic. Will Sargeant teased a ridiculous amount of stunning sounds from his guitar over these damn near perfect four minutes.

Interesting that I used the word ‘perfect’ on each occasion.

Match 6

The Jam v The Jesus & Mary Chain

Two more sides who are capable, on their day, of fielding a song which would defeat any opponent. This is a very tasty tie to savour but it is worth remembering that the home side are completely reliant on album tracks as the ICA deliberately precluded any singles or b-sides as they had all just been featured in a long-running series.

Here’s the facts thus far.

Happy Together saw a 34-10 result against T.Rex
Billy Hunt delivered a 37-6 thumping to The Detroit Cobras
Thick As Thieves brought a 35-6 win over Daft Punk.

The results demonstrate that The Jam have been in glorious free-scoring form, but there’s something of a case that the sides thay have faced have been of lower-division standard.

Turning to their opponents….

Reverence resulted in a 33-11 triumph over The Wondermints
Boyfriend’s Dead was far too good for Rod Stewart, with a 30-6 outcome.
Never Understand proved more than enough for a 25-16 win over The The

The first two games showed they were just as free scoring, but again there’s an argument to be had about the quality of their opponents.  They showed no mercy last time out, winning much easier than some had imagined when the draw came out.

Saturday’s Kids (from Setting Sons, 1979) v Guitarman (from Speed of Sound, 1994)

I wrote ICA #52 for the home side:-

A paean to growing up in a working-class household.

At 16, I had no idea what the line ‘stains on the seats – in the back of course’ was all about. Nor did I know who smoked Capstan Non-Filters (Embassy Regal? yup….that was my dad’s choice of habit) and for Selsey Bill and Bracklesam Bay you would have had to substitute places a little nearer home or insert Blackpool which around half of Glasgow seemed to migrate to in the last two weeks in July back in the mid-70s. Otherwise it was a song that resonated with me and even now I can recite every single word of the lyric. But I do accept that, with its descriptions of things that aren’t part of modern society then it’s a lyric very much of its time and so probably won’t resonate much with today’s kids….except perhaps the bit about hating the system. Some things just never change.

It was SWC who put together ICA #94 with the most wonderfully funny pre-amble (you should click on it the link over on the right hand side and remind yourself of it):-

I wanted to include a cover version, simply because the Marychain did a few, mainly old Blues rock numbers from the 60s, and this I think was the best one. I also recommend their version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ because the absolutely crush it, but for me the bit where Reid goes ‘Show ‘em sonnnn’ is bloody marvellous.

Happy listening.  Votes must be in by Friday 25 May at 10pm.



Feels a bit like after the Lord Mayor’s show this week

I thought that was a very astute comment from Friend of Rachel Worth having to deliberate on two matches which don’t really come close to that  offered via last week’s titanic battle between New Order and The Clash…and yes, there does seem to be an inevitablity about the latter’s march to glory which is reminiscent of German football sides in World Cups.  But they still have three games they have to win if they are to take the title and there are some very tricky opponents that are lying in wait….

It’s also astute in that the scoring at half-time is lower than any other week that the tournament has been running, which indicates a bit of readership fatigue and/or a lack of interest in these particular match-ups which are seemingly leaning to particular outcomes in that:-

(a) Sting and his crew are almost certainly bowing out, thus forcing me to be imaginative again when the Smiths-lite crew take to the field in the quarter-finals: and

(b) the bard of Barking is nosing it at the moment.

Half time scores

MarrRourkeJoyce 16 v The Police 2
Hippychick v Next To You (live)

Billy Bragg 16 v Half Man Half Biscuit 5
Love Gets Dangerous (Peel Session) v Totness Bickering Fair

Here’s your half-time entertainment courtesy of the fans of Celtic FC:-

mp3 : Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough



I’m not mucking about this week……I’ll just say that the second of the ties swung back and forth a fair bit.

OMD 9  The Housemartins 32
New Order 20 The Clash 23

I think The Clash must now be overwhelming favourities to the lift the trophy….

So that’s two sides into the the last eight….six more to join them over the next three weeks, with two more ties now put before you for consideration.

Match 3

MarrJoyceRourke v The Police

I groaned when this match-up was revealed….in the knowledge that the brickbats will fly no matter the outcome.

Here’s the facts thus far.

MarrJoyceRourke have, technically, only had one win in the tournament, with a win over Ride having gotten them their place in the last 32 after The Smiths had seen off Mission of Burma and Husker Du.

How Soon Is Now? was supposed to be getting used today, but will instead be represented by Hippychick, a hit single in 1990 by Soho, a pop act consisting of the sisters Jacqui and Pauline Cuff together with Timothy London. The song features a sample from The Smiths’ song sequenced over a Soul II Soul rhythm.

Their opponents have been fielding some great singles to see off Captain Beefheart, The Stranglers and Pete Wylie but seem to be taking gamble in this round with a live track which is a bit rough’n’ready.

Hippychick (single 1991) v Next To You (from Propaganda, 1987)

Here’s what I said in ICA#59 about The Police:-

The opening song on the band’s debut album was always one of their most popular; Sting would include it within his solo sets while it has also been given the cover version treatment by a number of other acts including Foo Fighters. It is that unusual beast from the new wave era – an unashamed love song. Such was my desire to get everything by the band back in the days that I bought an import LP called Propaganda in late 1979 as it contained two live tracks recorded earlier in the year at the Bottom Line club in New York. Next To You was the second of those tracks and quickly established itself as my favoured version.

Match 4

Billy Bragg (2) v Half Man Half Biscuit

I groaned when this match-up was revealed….in the knowledge that the brickbats will fly no matter the outcome….I think most of you would have been happier if these two had separately drawn the two above….

Here’s the facts thus far.

Billy Bragg has had a decidely mixed bag of opponents in The Faces, The Pixies and Prefab Sprout, coming through without really being tested much, albeit he’s taken no chances by fielding St Swithin’s Day, Tank Park Salute and Greetings to the New Brunette.  This tie, no matter what his opponents throw out there, is a whole new challenge for the Bard of Barking.

HMHB have the skills to go all the way and have already seen off tough oppostion in Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Trash Can Sinatras and XTC thanks to the use of 1966 And All That, National Shite Day and Joy Division Oven Gloves. Like today’s opponent, they have two separate ICAs from which songs can randomly be selected…. much is going to depend on the coin and dice combos.

Love Gets Dangerous (Peel Session, 1983) v Totnes Bickering Fair (from C.S.I. Ambleside, 2008)

It turned out that I was responsible for both ICAs. Here’s the double-skinny:-

The first time I saw Billy was on the street during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the days when he had the amp strapped to back so that he could set up when and where he liked busker style. He played four or five tunes and attracted a huge audience. This was one of the tunes that day and I’ve gone for the Peel version as it comes closest to catching that particular performance that day. Falling in love is indeed very very scary.

Twenty plus years on from the debut material and they still have the ability to make me laugh out loud with brilliant lyrics. New age mum has divorced ordinary bloke dad….but he will use the kids to get his revenge!! Not once…but twice!!!!   And the closing line of the song….while having nothing to do with the rest of the lyric…is just observational comedy of the highest quality..

Happy deliberating.  Votes must be in by Friday 18 May at 10pm.


PS….I spent much of yesterday in a daze – as and indeed I had the the previous two days – from the initial disappearance and then the sad but expected confirmation that Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit had taken his own life.  I have said a few initial words on Facebook and I do hope to expand on these in an expanded piece on this blog over the coming days.


It’s been very interesting thus far that the vast majority of folk have cast their votes early doors and very few of the half-time leads have been overturned. I wonder if anything will change now that we are down to two matches per weel.

The match-ups from now on have the potential to put folk in a dilemma, as typified by this from Swiss Adam:-

“how the fuck am I supposed to pick between my beloved New Order and one of their greatest moments and my equally beloved Clash, the greatest band to walk the face of planet Earth?”

In the end, he did make a pick….which is more than some have been able to do!!!….and went for Janie Jones.

Half time scores

OMD 5 v The Housemartins 22
Forever Live and Die v Build

New Order 13 v The Clash 17
True Faith v Janie Jones

Still all to play for in the second half??

Here’s your half-time entertainment courtesy of the fans of Motherwell FC:-

No mp3 today….well not of the above song anyway. Instead, here’s one that I aired every week as the teams took to the field during the past season in my role of matchday DJ/announcer at Raith Rovers….

mp3 : Bowie/Jagger – Dancing In The Streets

It’s a tradition……..although next season I’m intending to revert to the original version of the song.

Remember….if you haven’t vote yet, you have until 10pm this coming Friday.




The incompetency of the bureaucrats (i.e me!!) meant five ties had to be decided before we knew the make-up of the final 16.

Orange Juice 10  The Wedding Present 22
The Smiths 25 Ride 14
The Jam 35 Daft Punk 6
Billy Bragg 26 Prefab Sprout 15
Edwyn Collins 16 Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 25

Gedge & co really made the most of their reprieve and it was double heartbreak for Edwyn as he was well beaten in the end in the final match of Round 3.

The draw has taken place for Round 4. It’s known only to myself and jimdoes and now that we are at the nitty-gritty part of the competition with just two matches per week being featured, we have rescheduled some of the ties away from the order they were drawn in so that each week features at least one potential mind-blowing blockbuster. TV companies the world over pick and choose their games, so why should we be different??

Match 1

OMD v The Housemartins

A tie which provides the opportunity for one of the perhaps less-fancied sides to progress to the quarter finals.

Here’s the facts thus far.

OMD have seen off Super Furry Animals, The Stone Roses and The Charlatans, but in doing so have already fielded two their best-known and popular tracks in Enola Gay and Messages.

The Housemartins have beaten Gene, Julian Cope and Talking Heads…they’ve fielded quality songs but some of their biggest and best-known hits are sitting in reserve,

Forever Live and Die (from The Pacific Age, 1986) v Build (from The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death, 1987)

rhetor was the composer of ICA #33 on OMD. He had this to say about the song appearing this time round…

One of my favourite OMD tracks, in fact, as for some reason I can’t get enough of the soaring vocals of the line in the chorus, with its sudden descent into the title, “I never know, I never know, I never know, I never know why…Forever Live and Die”. Maybe it’s just me…

I was responsible for OCA #111 on The Housemartins. I said this at the time:-

Some of the social messages could get lost amidst the jaunty upbeat tunes for which the band were most famed. Not so when they slowed things right down. New homes, new roads, new infrastructure right across green countryside at a time when traditional communities in poorer parts of the country were crying out for support and investment to recover. Environmental and economic madness.

Match 2

New Order v The Clash

A tie which will eliminate one of the favourites.

Here’s the facts thus far.

New Order have had a crazy run of matches against LCD Soundsystem, The Go-Betweens and The Fall. They have three ICAs to choose from which does offer an extensive number of songs but there are also a few unusual remixes capable of turning up. They may regret (pun intended) having already used up Age of Consent and Blue Monday….

The Clash have also had a tough set of match-ups in recent rounds; MGMT was reasonably straight-forward enough and didn’t really need White Man (In Hammersmith Palais) to overcome the opposition; R.E.M. and The Velvet Underground were tougher asks but the use of both sides of the London Calling single may have left them weak…

True Faith (single, 1987) v Janie Jones (from The Clash, 1977)

I’m responsible for both ICAs. Here’s the double-skinny:-

The sheer brilliance and crossover appeal of this record can be seen from the fact that it reached #4 in the UK when, other than Blue Monday and Confusion (both of which sold well with dance fans), the band had struggled to make much of impact sales wise in the single market. True Faith is an extraordinary record that admittedly benefits from the input of uber-producer Stephen Hague who had previously helped to refine the sounds of Pet Shop Boys in a way that maintained their credibility while making them huge pop stars. But there is evidence that the song itself is a belter as seen by the fact that it was given an extensive indie dance remix by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne in 1994 and that version of True Faith also went Top 10 in the UK.

There are so many great songs that are incredibly worthy of inclusion on this particular ten-track effort. I’ve changed my mind more than a few times about things but I’ve never dreamt of leaving off Janie Jones. It’s a two-minute burst of high-tempo energy which just never lets up and, in what is now approaching 40 years, has never once failed to get me singing along. I also love how the band didn’t try to hide the fact that, at this stage, Paul Simonon wasn’t the greatest of bass guitarists but somehow his one-note contribution helps make the chorus so memorable.

Happy deliberating.  Votes must be in by Friday 11 May at 10pm.