Music Monday: I’d Do Anything For Love…

We’ve done instrumental funk. We’ve done Franco-Brasilian-Bolivian dance. We’ve done what ever the heck Army of Lovers is. We’ve done German punk. Time for a bit of good old fashioned operatic rock, I think!

Meat Loaf is another artist I can thank MTV Europe for getting into. While my father owned the original Bat Out of Hell album, I don’t recall ever hearing him play it, so the bombast and blast of I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) was a thrill when it was unleashed in the summer of 1993 and it was love-at-first-listen. I’ve said before that I love a really good, layered bit of production and this is a song that has that in absolute spades. I think Jim Steinman never met a piece of music that he couldn’t add an extra layer to and Meat Loaf’s vocals were awe inspiring and the whole combination was off the charts.

And then there was the music video, which was another level again. A full-on mini movie that’s almost as OTT as Army of Lovers’ video in some senses, but it goes with the larger-than-life character that is Meat Loaf.

And as one final, added, bonus: boy is it ever fun to just belt it out as loud and dramatically as you can – though maybe don’t do it while you’re stuck in a traffic jam with the car windows rolled down…

The summer fun playlist can be found on Spotify here.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Music Monday: Kauf Mich

This is another of the good-kind-of-weird I got from MTV Europe

On one level, it’s a fun pop-punk song from a band with a ridiculous name (Die Toten Hosen – literally, the Dead Trousers!). Given grunge was all the rage when it was released, it was perhaps a bit of a throwback, or perhaps it was a bit ahead of its time, prefiguring the bands like Blink 182 at the end of the 90s. Either way, if you don’t speak German, it’s a fun bit of music and not much more than that.

If you do speak German, however, there’s a second layer, which is a bit of biting satire on consumerism. Politics? In my punk music? It’s more likely than you think, even in German! The title literally means Buy Me and the whole song is about the constant pressure to buy stuff that you probably don’t need but if you buy it you’ll be in the ‘in crew’. It’s smart, it’s sharp, it’s memorable and it’s just the tip of a very sharply observed album that also features several punts at right-wing extremism (amongst other things).

It’s a song that made me giggle first, then it made me think. And almost thirty years later, it’s still making me think.

The summer fun playlist can be found on Spotify here.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Music Monday: Crucified

In my teens, I was in music heaven. I’d discovered MTV Europe and it had opened my eyes (and ears) to a lot of new experiences. It introduced me (or reintroduced me) to a lot of bands and singers whose music I’d enjoyed as a youngster without necessarily knowing who’d done it and it introduced me to a lot more than just the UK Top 40. Often, this wasn’t actually a good thing (I was, regretably, aware of the Macarena before it hit big in the UK), but sometimes I got the really good kind of weird.

And you don’t get much weirder than this track. It’s by a Sweedish group called Army of Lovers (the group’s name is a reference to a German gay rights documentary) and, musically, it is as pure a snapshot of early 1990s Euro Dance music as you’re going to get…

…and then you get to the lyrics and the music video and things start to get weird.

The lyrics are cod-profound (“I’ve seen the deepest darkness/And wrestled with gods/Ride the noble harness/Raining cats and dogs”) with the verses done as a sort of rap/sort of talking blues while the chorus is a full-on gospel-esque.

The music video, though, takes it aaaaaaaaaaaall to eleven. Actually, it probably takes it to eleventy billion and one because it is pure, fabulous, OTT, risquĂ© bonkers. I mean, I’m talking playing the violin with a sheathed sword levels of bonkers.

It is a slice of utterly glorious camp and by the time you realise it is as mad as you think it is, the music (which is as catchy and hooky as only early 90s Euro dance could be) has earwormed you and you’re humming it for days.

I love it.

Should you want to see the video, you can find that here

The summer fun playlist can be found on Spotify here.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Friday Fiction: Waking Up

Ambition is a slippery thing, particularly when you’re a young child. Do you aspire to win gold at the Olympics or is it your parent/guardian telling you you do? Are you the one who wants to go to the Royal Ballet School or is it the dream of someone else and you’re living it for them? Are you doing the training because that’s what you want to do or because you’ve been threatened with punishment if you don’t?And what happens when you achieve your goal only to realise it was never your goal in the first place?

It’s that last question that was the starting point for this story.

Read Waking Up

Happy reading 🙂

Music Monday: Lambada

Confession: I love to dance. Ever since I was a wee tiny tot, put the right music on and I will move to it. At times in my life I’ve studied ballet and tap (alas, my enthusiasm probably exceeds my talent there) and dabbled with other forms (Zumba’s taught me the basics of all kinds of dance) but the most fun is still to just put on the music and dance like there’s no-one watching!

And that brings me to this week’s Summer Fun entry. It’s not uncontroversial: the track I’ve picked was plagiarised by a French entrepreneur, from a Bolivian melody, played by Senegalese musicians and sung in Portuguese (got that? Good…) while the style of dance the Lambada dance evolved from, carimbĂł, was also known as the forbidden dance for its sensual movements! It’s possibly not quite what your eleven year old daughter perhaps should be dancing along to…

But I was, and did, at a dance summer school. (The same summer school also taught me how to ride a unicycle and various diablo tricks [can’t do the former any more; haven’t tried the latter in a long time!])

As a child it represented fun and the one dance where having a rear end was not actually a hinderance (!) and I adored it just for that. As an adult, it reminds me of one of my most enjoyable summer activities. I may not have been destined for the Royal Ballet or Broadway but good grief, dancing was fun!

On a final note, given the plagiarism (a case which the original Bolivian musicians won), it’s perhaps amusing to note that things have come full-circle. There’s a local panpipe player of Bolivian descent who plays this track as part of their repertoire.

The summer fun playlist can be found on Spotify here.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

August and Everything After

After several months of utter chaos and carnage, August has arrived, bringing with it roughly five weeks where I have nothing much on, either personally or professisonally, which means I can draw a breath and catch up with myself.

Well, that’s the theory, at least…

That build up might suggest there’s not a lot to catch you guys up on, but there’s a few little bits, so here we go.

First up, Friday Fiction. I’ve been on a bit of a short story spree, having completed two brand new short stories and got roughly a third of the way into a third. One of the completed stories is a piece of back story for Ved’ma, so that will go up later in the year. The second completed story, Waking Up, will appear next week. The third story, The Show Must Go On, is aimed to be next month’s Friday Fiction – but if I get it finished quicker than that, you may just get a bonus this month instead! I’ve also got a few ideas for more, including a second short story connected to Ved’ma. That one will be less plot-relevant, but will feature a character who gets her debut in Ved’ma so it probably won’t be posted before Ved’ma comes out. Probably…!

On the Ved’ma front, I’ve got a lot of work still to do to get a draft pulled together, but the holes are shrinking (slowly) and I’ve had a major break through in terms of resolving one of my remaining plot issues this week. Hopefully, given this is a quiet month (and assuming that I haven’t jinxed myself, of course!), I’ll be able to largely wrap things up and start getting stuff across to my editor (hi J!). I’m also starting to think about cover art (hi S!) – though I probably won’t actually start on that this month. (Really do need to get that draft together first!)

Sage has made a small amount of progress…mostly in that I’ve removed stuff that no longer fits thanks to Cambiante and Ved’ma. That’s the price you pay for writing stuff out of sequence and adding in things that weren’t in the plan *cough*Cambiante*cough*. I’ll probably have to do another run through as Ved’ma’s draft wraps up.

Book 6 has also inched forwards. This week (see, I said August was my calm month!), I’ve had a few ideas and breakthroughs about the epic climax (I mean, it’s book 6 of a 5 book series; it’s got to be epic to wrap up everything and be a satisfying conclusion to it all) in terms of what needs to happen and where and, just as importantly, who is where, given that by the climax I’m going to be juggling upwards of 30 characters of varying levels of importance! (Yes, yes I do in fact have a score card for this – while I can keep quite a lot of balls in the air, mentally speaking, 30+ characters is definitly a challenge too far.) The real trick with a cast that big will be making sure that each character used has a solid reason for being in that position – because if it’s hard as a writer to juggle that many characters, it’s even worse as a reader.

And given the cast size, you can assume that there will be more Elsehere-related short stories between now and book 6’s release so that I can flesh out a few more of the characters. In an ideal world, I’d get each and every character into a decent sized role in the first five books but that’s not been entirely possible, so short stories it is…unless I get a particularly juicy idea, of course! I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of more Elsehere books, given that I have such a big cast and I have the whole of human history at my disposal and there are so many fascinating periods to play with. So watch this space!

Finally, Monday saw the launch of my summer fun music feature for Monday Music. There’s six posts in total, featuring six very (very!) different pieces of music that I associate with summer. One way or another, at least!

So there we go.

Happy reading 🙂

Music Monday: Soul Limbo

Kicking off August’s Summer Fun selection for Music Monday is a piece of music that is the first one that comes to my mind the moment you say summer.

Soul Limbo by Booker T. & the M. G.’s 1968 track from the album of the same name is the sound that herralded the start of every day’s play during the international cricket summer and is a piece of music that I probably learned before I learned God Save the Queen! Even now, though the cricket’s been off BBC TV since the end of 1998, it still evokes the warm welcome to the start of a day’s play (or a day’s rain – we are talking the British summer, after all…), helped, in part, because when the TV broadcast went dark, Test Match Special picked it up.

Channel 4 may have used Mambo No.5 and Sky have used various versions of the 10cc song Dreadlock Holiday (with it’s chorus of “We don’t like cricket, oh no, we love it, oh year”) but Soul Limbo is still the sound of cricket for me and perhaps it always will be.

The music itself is a funky jazz-like instrumental track with plenty of variations, a marimba solo and plenty of laid-back charm. It’s carefree and fun and I just love it.

The summer fun playlist can be found on Spotify here.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!