The final two ties of the last round were good ones

The Wedding Present 16  Pulp 19
Lightning Seeds 13 Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 23

That’s us down to the final eight teams, and from now on it’s just one match up per week so that you can have as much time as you like, or need, to deliberate.  I’m also pleased to say that jimdoes is taking over responsibility for penning the quarter final ties over the next four Saturdays.  I’ve kind of exhausted my ideas on how to present the match-ups and he’s come up with something a bit different…..

Before jimdoes turns his attention to the first tie, I want to announce that The Smiths have been reinstated.  The original decision wasn’t an easy one and it was made with a heavy heart, thinking that the chances of Marr, Rourke and Joyce would be ruined by the absence of the singer.  Morrissey has been absent from the past two ties, and in most football tournaments, it is a two match ban which is applied for misedemeanours, and so it feels right that the Mancs have a full squad restored.  They are likely to need it….and with that comment I’m handing over to jimdoes to guide you through this week’s match-up.


I’m going to try something a little different with the quarter finals – JC has been great at sharing routes to the quarter finals, so we all know what perilously difficult journeys our teams have faced. I’m not even going to make any more tenacious links to football – most of the bands left are old favourites that I’m sure everyone likes and has history with in some way – and that’s what I’m going to talk about for each of the match ups – my history with each band.


Match 1

The Smiths v Billy Bragg

Still Ill (from The Smiths, 1984) v Levi Stubbs’ Tears (from Talking With The Taxman About Poetry, 1986)

Her name was Amanda – she was the first person to ever play me the Smiths and she was the first girl I ever kissed. I was a little late coming to both if I’m honest but I was certainly enthusiastic. Anyway, The Queen Is Dead had just come out (I’d almost bought Hatful of Hollow a few years earlier but I got a signed (!) Thompson Twins album from HMV instead) – and we’d listen to it in her bedroom while I hoped that her parents wouldn’t come home. I guess it was Morrissey that told me that Some Girls are Bigger Than Others as I didn’t have anything to compare Amanda’s charms to. We went to see them live a couple of times as I came to grips with their back catalogue – the first time I heard Still Ill was at Brixton Academy. Amanda and I split up around the time that Strangeways came out and The Smiths split. The two events were unconnected – it was a fairly short-lived romance but my love for the Smiths continued. I wore my t-shirt with pride (the Shoplifters Elvis one) and my next two girlfriends were the result of conversations at parties while I was wearing it. At the time they were my favourite EVER band – but I haven’t listened to an album all the way through in years.

Amanda and I would also listen to Billy Bragg in her room – Talking To The Taxman About Poetry. It’s safe to say that Billy Bragg is no Barry White but it worked for us. I first heard Billy Bragg the year before when he appeared on Top Of The Pops singing live (which was unheard of at the time) – Between The Wars – it was such a contrast to my usual Top Of The Pops diet of chart hits from the mid 80s. I went out and bought the single (pay no more than one pound and twenty-five pence) and used to play it on the stereo in my living room to annoy my parents. I didn’t have my own record player till I was 18 so the only place I could listen to music was the living room, mostly on headphones – always competing with my sister and her Whitney Houston albums. Shortly after this I was besotted with Kirsty MacColl when I heard A New England – not realising at first that this was a cover version. Anyway, Billy Bragg has been one of those singers that’s always been there, someone to sing along to but not someone I listen to all that often now. I only got to see him for the first time a few years ago at Glastonbury and he didn’t let me down playing Levi Stubbs Tears during his set.

Happy deliberating.  Votes must be in by Friday 8 June at 10pm.



This will be the last of the half time reports as the ties from the quarter-finals will feature individual match-ups and it will be easy enough to keep track of the scores via the comments button….but having said that, I’m likely to give updates at the foot of some of the scheduled non World Cup posts.

Before turning to the HTs, I thought it would be worth looking back over all the games played thus far and see how often the outcome I was hoping for actually prevailed:-

Preliminary Round : 0/1
1st Round : Week 1 13/16
1st Round : Week 2 : 12/16
1st Round : Week 3 : 10/16
1st Round : Week 4 : 10/16
2nd Round : 1st Half : 10/16
2nd Round : 2nd Half : 13/16
3rd Round : 12/16
4th Round : 3/6…and based on the HT scores….likely to be 4/8.

Also worth mentioning that more than half of the teams still left in the competition would have been eliminated at some previous point if I wasn’t a democrat….

And finally….here are your half time scores.

The Wedding Present 12 v Pulp 16
(Dalliance v This Is Hardcore)

(NB….early on Pulp had a 10 point lead in this one….)

Lightning Seeds 11 v Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 19
(Lucky You v Brand New Friend)

Half time entertainment…from more than 50 years ago:-


and here’s a wonderful tune that I felt like playing today; no reason other than I think you’ll enjoy it:-

mp3 : Ballboy – Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue

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




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.