I’m almost definitely not too young to be a fan of The Proclaimers

Friday 6 November, 2015

Many moons ago, back when this blog was in it’s infancy, back when I really didn’t know what I was doing, back when I had a desk, I wrote a blog asking “Am I Too Young To Be A Fan Of The Proclaimers?”.

I wrote how, over the space of ten years, hearing one little song when I was younger turned into a “I Must Hear Every One Of Their Songs” things. I mentioned how, in the days of Yahoo Videos, they introduced, or re-introduced me, to more songs by The Proclaimers, other than 500 Miles and Letter From America that I already knew.

I said that I would love to see these guys live, that it would be a dream come true. And I thanked Charlie and Craig for existing. It was a blog that came from lamenting over the fact that, once again, I was late to the Good Music Ball and could hardly find Proclaimers fans, let alone ones under the age of 40. I’d had that with the Beatles, then it was New Order, and then it was The Proclaimers.

Since writing that blog, one small detail came about that I’m going to expand on: I said in that blog that I knew 500 Miles (I’m going to be) by the time I was 12. Here’s a fun little fact my Mum shared with me sometime after I wrote that blog: I was about six when I first became obsessed with that song. A film called Benny and Joon was released in 1993 and that song was in the soundtrack – Probably the biggest song in the soundtrack, and for a lot of Americans, the first time they’d heard of The Proclaimers. And because it became a hit, cable music channels started playing the “soundtrack” version of the music video. And I loved it! And later, after we lost cable and got it back again, it was on the Magic Music Video channel all the time as well. I could probably name all of the music videos they showed, actually, they seemed to have a small playlist, and an even smaller one at Christmas.

Anyway. What am I really getting at? I’ll tell you what I’m getting at.

A couple of weeks ago, The Proclaimers were in Liverpool. As soon as tickets were announced earlier this year, I got tickets. And I prayed to the gods of music* that I wouldn’t be struck down ill and prevented from seeing another band I’d die happy for seeing, yet again*. It must have worked, or the maybe it was the flu jab, because I actually got to see The Proclaimers.

And they were amazing! I mean, they were just so good! It was, in all senses of the phrase, a dream come true.

On the topic of the age thing, from my view from the wheelchair seats, all I could see were middle aged people, and some young children who’d come with their parents. Whenever they sung their songs from the 80s, the whole place went wild, so I got the impression these were people who were fans from when those songs were originally released. But you know what? Just because I was younger didn’t make me a lesser fan than anyone else. Not that anyone said anything, and not that I was really concerned about it, but my heart flew when they sung their original songs too.

And hey, talking economically, the wheelchair seats are, well, amongst what you might consider the more expensive seats and might possibly be out of the price range of people my age (I have no idea what the prices of non-wheelchair seats are!), so for all I know, people my age where a bit further up, further back… For all I know. (What do I know? I know nothing. Sorry)

Back to Charlie and Craig Reid and their band of merry men. I have four favourite songs, and they sung all four. Letter From America, Let’s Get Married, Then I Met You and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues. I also consider two songs such classics that it doesn’t matter if they’re anyone’s favourites or not, they’re too good, too well written, too well composed to not like them on any level. They are of course Cap In Hand and Sunshine on Leith. I of course like I’m Gonna Be and I’m On My Way also, but they’re also so big and so well known, it goes without saying.

I thought the night was going to end without Joyful Kilmarnock Blues. I’ve found, from noseying around the internet, it’s not one of the big fan favourites. It’s one of the obscure ones. So it’s no exaggeration when I say I almost propelled out of my seat from excitement when the song started. Was it? Could it be…? Holy Moly, it was!

It’s my second favourite song, and it was amazing to see and hear it performed live.

They were on key the whole night. And I’m not just saying that. These are intelligent men, here. I’ve heard a few bands try and recreate their younger years and fail miserably, and I’ve been honest about it to the point of offending people. The Proclaimers, though, they lowered the notes they knew they couldn’t reach, and the ones they did aim for, they hit the mark beautifully. Maybe they paced themselves. Maybe they lowered some notes in a bid to not exhaust their vocal chords, for the times that going higher was very much needed. Maybe they just fancied singing it differently for a different effect – There’s a hell of a lot of difference between the sound a recording can give you, to the acoustics in a live venue being heard by thousands of people.

They changed the pace of Can in Hand, and that was the only thing that only unsettled me a bit. I’m not saying it was bad, it’s just… well, a thing with me. Unsettling. An effect I couldn’t quite get to grips with. It’s a thing. Never mind.

But everything else was just perfect. It was such a good night.

And do you know what? I finally know Who is who! HALLELUJAH! Charlie talked about Sean (The song) being written, and how he and Craig wrote it together. By process of elimination, if the one in front of the drums is Craig, then the one in front of the mic was Charlie. I’ve cracked and now I can die a happy woman (Though hopefully not for a long time).

As far as access is concerned, I went in a bigger lift this time (That will probably make sense after I post another review, which is coming soon), but the view remained perfect. I couldn’t ask for more. Well, I could, but I highly doubt the Philharmonic will ever sell twixes, and asking the band to stand right in front of the wheelchair seats and address a whole song to me would just be unreasonable…. right? I’d have more luck on the twixes!)

Next Proclaimers related post will be the review of Sunshine On Leith, which has been almost finished for over a year now. Did I mention the desk problem?


Shake the dust off, I’m back!

Wednesday 10 October, 2012

Hello, A Failed Journalist here and I am now officially announcing my hiatus Over!

Yeah, yeah, don’t all cheer at once. I had a tedious task to do, but it’s finally done and now I can get back to business being a twenty-something Failed Journalist.

First of all, I haven’t done much with the place since I moved everything over here, so I’ll be checking to make sure it looks good everywhere and that nothing’s broken, all links and settings are polished and doing their job. I’ll be making a page about my self-inflicted LoveFilm Watch and Review Challenge, and then McFly have released a biography called “Unsaid Things”, so I’ll be writing about that, and then Asexuality Awareness Week is sort of back… and that’s just all in October!

So, yeah, Watch This Space as they say.

Thank you for reading!

-AFJ-


Another Dream That Never Came True

Monday 6 February, 2012

When I was about seven, I wanted to play the violin.

I’d always liked the sound of the violin, I liked the way they looked and I thought they were a lot more impressive than a guitar. Which is saying something, because I was pretty fascinated by my Dad’s guitar.

And even though I kept saying that I wanted to play the Violin, I think initially my Mum brushed it off as a flighting fancy. I was a hyperactive whirl wind of a child, and I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to be when I was older. I got bored with games quickly and I would flit from one thing to the other and back again to keep myself constantly entertained.

I’d be lying if I said I’d completely grown out of that now, but some of that still remains. I do constantly need something to do and I still flit from one thing to another.

Anyway, so, my Mum said no. She used to play the Violin when she was at school and she hated it. There were, of course, other reasons as to why she wouldn’t allow me to try and learn the violin.

First and foremost, they’re very expensive instruments and we were a very poor family. Some people say they’re poor and yet they can afford a car and the petrol costs on top. We couldn’t. We’ve never had a car, and if by some miracle we did, we wouldn’t have had the petrol money for it. We were really properly council housing and walking everywhere kind of poor.

So an expensive instrument I could potentially lose interest in? Not the wisest of investments. Expensive Instrument that would require expensive lessons to learn, in order to keep interest and motivation to play said instrument? A slightly better investment but even more out of our budget.

Of course, the biggest and most important reason my Mum had for not letting me have a violin, learn to play a violin, try and get some sort of really cheap deal going so that I could have a future in playing the voilin somewhat professionally so that the initial costs might pay off one day?

My disability. Which is why I can’t take it up now, even though I’d really like to.

Holding a violin for most children is awkward, but eventually bodies adapt, muscles build and tiring arms would stop being a problem. Between my back, my ill-proportioned body and my inability to sit comfortably on your average chair, it would have been a struggle to keep hold of a violin long enough to build up some sort of tolerance.

The older that I’ve got, the worse my body’s got. Sad, but true.

But I just wish I’d have gotten a chance to just try. I wish my primary school had had a violin in the instrument trolley, in amongst the rainsticks, xylophones, bongos, tambourines, triangles, maracas and other instruments that I don’t know the name of.

I remember being given a variety of instruments that needed to go on my knees, except they needed two hands to be played but I didn’t have a good way to sit on a chair that would have stopped the instrument from slipping out of place. I refused to play any wind instruments cos I was a germophobe, and I never saw them wash the mouth pieces. I didn’t even drink out of the same cup as my brother at home, I wasn’t going to share a musical instrument that had been emerged in someone else’s mouth.

So that left me with instruments I had to shake, twirl, spin or flick. Not exactly a set of instruments that you’d find a demand of in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

And I listen to music today with violins in, in fact I go out of my way to buy violin-based music, and I’m just as mesmerised. And it takes me back to when I was seven and wanting a violin. I can’t help but feel cheated out of something.

At least I could play the guitar, had a shot of the drums and gave the keyboard a go. The Violin has always been out of my reach.

And of course people have turned around to me and said I should give the Violin a go anyway. I feel like these people are living in a dream-zone. I can’t spend £500 on a semi-decent instrument, a further £100 on what I’m led to believe would be a low-quality bow, and all the extra expenses of polishes, resins, cleaning materials, strings on top on a whim, to see how well, or how badly, I’d be able to cope in learning to try and play the violin.

The problem is this new polar opposite attitude some people have towards disabilities. It is the exact opposite situation to where we were all ignored and considered useless. No, this new attitude brings a blindness to disability in such a way it’s just as harmful, in the hands of the wrong people. So what if I have a back that collapsed and nerve damage down my right arm! Stephen Hawking has a form of Motor Neuron Disease and he’s still giving life a go!*

Yes, it’s all wonderful that people have faith in us disabled people these days to be on par with the rest of society, now that we have the Equal Opportunities Movement. There’s practically no good reason, in these people with these opinion’s minds, for anyone with a disability to not at least try.

Except sometimes disabilities do actually impose physical impossibilities and do actually hold us back in life, in some circumstances; and holding a violin well and truly comfortable enough to play one song probably is one of them. It would be a large waste of money, that quite frankly needs to go elsewhere, just to see.

And I’m out of any situation now that might land a free one in my lap for an hour, like a good school could have done. I could have even had a chance in high school had we been able to afford some sort of private music lessons. There were school-stock violins in the music cupboard, for people learning through the private music lessons but weren’t at an advanced stage enough to justify having their own (way-more-expensive-and-less-warped) instrument.

Ah, I’m feeling wistful. It’s all a shame, and it’s all very annoying. It would have been nice to try, that’s all.

 On the other hand, because I can’t bare to end this blog on a bad note (Oh no, was that a pun!?), maybe it is better to have never loved at all than to have loved and lost the knowledge and experience of holding a violin and actually playing it. Even badly. Like with my beloved Guitar.

*Something which has actually been said to me.


Busted: 2002 – 2005

Saturday 14 January, 2012

Seven years ago today, the hearts of many teenages and teenie-boppers alike were left broken and shattered by the terrible news of Busted’s break up.

Jesus. That was seven years ago? That’s almost ten years! I was at 6th form College when they broke up.
…This train of thought makes me feel old. Let’s get back on track.

Yes. The split up of Busted. Britain’s number one boyband that was bringing back the instruments back to the pop charts. Came to an end because of what’s since been revealed as tension in the band between members Charlie and James, with the artist-formally-known-as Matty Jay caught in the middle.

I’ll be honest, I was a huge fan of Busted when they first released What I Go To School For, but by the time they split up, I was finding their teeny-bopper pop appeal unbearable. Thunderbirds Are Go, for example, is worlds away from Year 3000, Sleeping With The Lights on and even Crashed The Wedding. And apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

If what has been said is to be believed (consistency is a muddled game of He Said, He Said) then that’s exactly what caused the tension in the band in the first place. Charlie hated the “pop shit”. So much so, I don’t even think he liked Busted’s better songs.
Now, seven years on, Charlie is the front man to Fightstar, and a solo artist. When you listen to the songs he’s written since leaving Busted, you can understand why he was so frustrated with Busted’s overall sound, and you can actually tell which Busted songs Charlie managed to get involved with.

A couple of years ago, I was on a forum when Fightstar were doing a live forum chat. I asked three questions which were along the lines of this:

1) Are you free to be as progressive as you like, or do you still have to work within marketable limitations?

2) What venues would you most like to play?

3) Do you still face the post-Busted fan feedback? For example, the positive of widening old busted fans genre horizons vs the negative of those who still compare Fightstar to Busted?

I didn’t think I’d get any answers. It wasn’t as insane as some life forum chats, but the thread was very busy by their standards and the forum was struggling to stay afloat with in ratio page loads and extra refreshes. I especially wasn’t really fussed on that last question, but so many other people were talking about influences and future plans without mentioning Busted that I thought, why not! In my eyes, Busted was a starting point in it’s own way.

That was the only question of mine which got an answer. Omar, Fightstar’s lovely, lovely drummer answered it with basically this:

People who still compare Busted and Fightstar need to stop living in the past. Fightstar is different and they’re uncomparable now for various reasons.


He’s right, of course. But there’s one thing I’d like to say in reply to that answer, and it’s not to cause an argument, just to share an opinion…

Would Fightstar be as good, involve all the people it involves, even have the name they do, if it weren’t for Charlie’s desperation at that exact time and place to do something better, more fulfilling for him, than Busted?

And that’s all I’m going to say about Fightstar. I’d hate for it to appear as though I am not a fan. I am. I’ve even seen them live!

James Bourne, then. What’s he upto? Well, there was Son of Dork for a while. They ended in a spectacular fashion… Then he was a touring solo artist, which I think went well, but I didn’t see him, nobody I know went to see him so it’s a bit like that old Tree in a Forest situation. Was there any impact?

There were rumours of a Matt/James Busted Revival, but that didn’t happen… It might happen in the future but I’m not convinced.

And now… James Bourne has written a musical. I’ll be honest, I had no idea about it until The-Artist-Formally-Known-as Matty Jay retweeted a tweet from James about it.

From what I’ve read up about it, it’s based on Son of Dork’s album “Welcome To Loserville”, about a teenager called Michael Dork who is bullied for being a social outcast in a very Stereotypical Americanised Way and wants to leave his home town for greener pastures. Then he meets the girl of his dreams and decides he wants to stay.

It sounds like Wizard of Oz meets Back to the Future and Napoleon Dynamite with just a hint of lemon Problem Child.

I’m amazed and befuddled at the same time. He makes it hard to admit that he was twice my favourite member of Busted because of the arrogance that sometimes shows through when he plays the Blame Game but at the same time, he’s just written a musical that makes references to either classic 80s/90s films or films which reference the classic.80s/90s films.

And then there’s The-Artist-formally-known-as Matty Jay. He is now known as Matt Willis, which is his real surname. I’ve never figured out why he went by the name of Matty Jay in the Busted days. It might forever remain a mystery.

He is doing ridiculously well for himself! He was in the jungle a few years ago, he cleaned up his act when his drinking got a bit out of hand, he is happily married with two children and, and! He has a career in acting in West End Musicals.

That’s why I’m not convinced there’ll be a Two-Man Busted Revival. Matt might still have love for the (good) Busted days and want the chance to sing the music again, but he has a wonderful career and he seems pretty happy with it. It would be more of a step backwards, surely, to try and recreate something which can’t actually be recreated to the exact.

James might find Busted to be better without Charlie, but to follow it through might seem more like a gloating parade than a celebration of the music they once produced. More importantly, would the fans want to listen to Busted without Charlie? They broke up instead of carrying on back in 2005 because they said the three of them Were Busted. Going on without Charlie would be out of the question.

What would have changed? Time healing wounds? Water under the bridge settled? Or a sea of jealousy sparking James to try and show Charlie exactly what he’d be missing should Busted2 hit all the right marks?

Seven years on and it feels like James Bourne could still be setting himself up for the same recipe for disaster.

Of course, ruling out a Busted Revival doesn’t mean them working together in some way is impossible or implausible. Think about it: James has written a musical.

Matt acts in Musicals.

Matt might act in James’s musical.

Yeah… They’ve come a long way in seven years (some a longer way than others…) And I hope they continue to be successful over the next lot of seven years, and more. I can’t begrudge them all for moving on to bigger and better things when it makes them happy.


Why I am Not a McPioneer

Tuesday 22 March, 2011

I, The Wonderful Unknown Person of The Internets, am a fan of McFly. I would even go as far to say that I’m a “McFly Fan”. I have somewhat of an addictive personality and end up buried deep in trivia of any random thing I may be attached to at any given time, and because I’m so darn sentimental, usually these things stick with me as I go.

Like the time I was completely obsessed with the Age of Sail and The Historical Docks of Liverpool. I may not be completely obsessed with it anymore, but all the stuff I found out about that time is tucked away in a compartment of my brain, filed under “Age of Sail Trivia of 1996”. Not to be confused with the information contained in the sub-folders named “Age of Sail Trivia of 2005” and/or “Age of Sail Trivia 2010/11”.

I was going somewhere with this… Ah, yes. McFly. A marvelous band and the closest thing I’m sure my generation will ever get to The Beatles. Until they went and changed their sound, and left me somewhat disillusioned and disappointed. Luckily for them, my negative opinions and nay-saying is drowned out by the copious amount of fans loving their ~new sound~ and flinging their knickers at them.

I’m not mad, or bitter, just disappointed. I don’t think this is what Chuck Berry was expecting. But you say any kind of negative opinion on this to other fans and you’re met with either non-confrontational disagreement or down right confrontational disagreement. I’ve not given the new direction a fair enough chance? I’m pretty sure I have. Excuse me if I generally don’t like that style of music. It’s not an anti-“new direction” based opinion, it’s an anti-“that style of music” based opinion. I’m not a fan of JLS, Blue or Taio Cruz either.

I don’t want them to progress to bigger, better things? Pish Posh! What sort of fan would I be if that was the case? I actually think this is a step back for them. A Different thing, yes, but Bigger and Better? When Tom actually wrote “She Falls Asleep” all by himself? There’s something limited-sounding about the production of their recorded songs, and it sounds like there’s something missing when they sing live. And I hate to say this, but whenever I’ve seen them sing live lately on TV shows and what have you, it sounds like they can’t hold their notes anymore.

This new direction, new sound, new look of McFly is not the McFly that I became a fan of. Yes, it’s true of me that I don’t like change or accept it very well, but I’ve handled every other change they’ve been through since I became a fan. This is a question of musical taste, so until they start to resemble the band I got into, I’m afraid i’ll have to be a life-long fan from the sidelines. This latest stuff hasn’t changed my opinion of the old stuff, after all.

But this still doesn’t get to the bottom of why I’m actually not a “Pioneer” either. You’d think a hardcore fan like me, who has never met the band, would jump at the chance to be a tip-top fan who get V.I.P treatment for queuing and seating. Well, no, not really. First of all, ticket prices have increased. I’m not saying this is Their Fault, but tickets already cost a pretty penny, and then when you add the travel, possibly accommodation and then the food and merchandise on top of it, I’m already paying more than I should for a few hours of bliss.

And I’m sorry, but paying any extra for perks I won’t even enjoy would be ridiculous and against my principles. I’m in a wheelchair, I need wheelchair seating, what use would priority seating be for me? Also being in a wheelchair means my queuing experience is messed with as it is, a majority percentage of fans are pioneers so I’d be going from one ridiculous crushing queue to another and still taken out of the queue for my own safety. At least now with the majority of fans getting their own queue, I’m more safe in the normal queue outside with the non-pioneers. All 10 of us.

And last but not least, I just shouldn’t have to pay more to get the average experience of a fan. Since this Pioneer/Members of McFly.com started, every perk has gone to them. Not just first and fore-most because they’re the V.I.Ps, I mean nearly Every extra has gone on the website and everywhere else directs you to the website. Video chats, self-produced interviews, competitions and whatever else, all only accessible if you are a Pioneer. If you’re Not a Pioneer, the reply is “Why aren’t you?” not “Not to worry, you’ll get these eventually.” And I disagree with that.

Not being a Pioneer doesn’t make me less of a fan. The dislike of their music might make me less of a fan, the distance from ~the fandom life~ might make me less of a fan, but not “Not paying for extras on top of an already expensive hobby”. Anyone who has that opinion is welcome to it, but my opinion of those with that opinion isn’t a very good one. In fact I’d go as far as saying that those with that opinion are probably the same kind of people who I went to school with, who took pride in their parents buying from Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and thought little of those of us with a cupboard full of Kwik-Save’s No Frills products.

I just hope the band members don’t have that opinion, otherwise I’ll be left feeling more than Disappointment in their New Sound Direction.


Am I Too Young to be a Fan of The Proclaimers?

Sunday 23 January, 2011

As I’ve said before, or at least inferred it, I don’t change over the years. I just take how I used to be and add to it as I go along. My life is one big collection of everything I’ve ever been in to.

One of these things are The Proclaimers. Charlie and Craig Reid. I can’t tell them apart, and I didn’t hear much of their music, but the music I did hear, I knew and I loved. Lots.

I was maybe twelve when I really knew 500 Miles. And whilst it wasn’t one of my “Oh My God – Head Buzzing!” songs, it was up there. It’s one of those songs where you’re either lame for knowing all the words to, or you’re really awesome, and I’ve been both.

The second song I got to know was, naturally, Letter from America. My dad would go on about the random ill-fitting rhyming of America with Canada. I disagreed, I thought it was done quite well. I didn’t even know there was a political meaning to it until three years ago!

The third and fourth songs come hand in hand because of the little story that accompanies it. I’m On My Way and Don’t Turn Out Like Your Mother. I don’t know whether I already knew of the songs or not, but I don’t think i’d have had any way of knowing about these songs if it weren’t for I’m On My Way being on the Shrek soundtrack. So I’m guessing it was the constant play on the radio that caught my attention. From there, I had to listen to it all the time and 500 Miles, and Letter from America altogether and I used the Yahoo music video service to watch it. It was never something to depend on but it was great for the purpose at the time. Sometimes the next video was something unrelated, sometimes it was related by sounds-like bands, sometimes it was another song by the same band that you’d already listened to.

One day when I was listening to I’m On My Way, the next track started with a very low voice saying “I’m a grown man, I’m over 21. I’ve got an ugly face but I have a lot of fun”. It wasn’t The Proclaimers, which was made very obvious when the voice cut out, there was a suspended chord for a few seconds to fill the air and then BAM, heavy death metal bursting into my earphones. I still to this day don’t really know what that was about, other than a heavy death metal cover of Don’t Turn Out Like Your Mother.

I didn’t think about it for a while, but I had to Google it eventually because those two lines about being ugly stuck with me. Low and behold, I found The Proclaimer’s did a song with those lyrics.

Recently, thanks to Spotify, I’m able to listen to any and all available songs by The Proclaimers whilst I save up the funds to buy all of their albums. The songs remind me of when I first listened to them, other times I listened to them, special times I listened to them, how I felt, how they cheered me up, where I was and why and how I came to listen to them.

They’re very underrated. They’re very political, which I didn’t even realise until a while ago when I read about it all. But you know what? Come rain or shine, these guys have music for all occasions. They’re perfect for post-midnight blues, too.

I would love to see these guys live. It would be a dream come true. And hopefully saying that won’t jinx them in any way, because the last time I said that about a band, they broke up a week later. (Sorry, The Calling!)

So, thank you, Charlie and Craig for existing and giving us all this amazing music. I may have been too young when you first released your biggest hits, but I’ve been on board for 10 years now. That’s got to count for something!