Race Review: EMF 10k

So, the EMF 10k, which is always a memorable race.  I first signed up to do it in 2016, but then it turned out to be the wee bro’s wedding in Toronto the same weekend, and I obviously couldn’t be in two places at once, so I had to wait till 2017 before I could do this challenging race for the first time.

2017 certainly did not disappoint in terms of challenge –  the 30°C weather, almost unheard of for Edinburgh, took care of that.  This year was much more amenable with the temperature, and so not only did I take almost fifteen minutes off my time from last year, but I was only one minute and two seconds slower than the PB I set in Sunderland a fortnight ago.  That’s pretty good going considering the ridiculous elevation of the EMF 10k and its steep climb up Arthur’s Seat!

Geth was only about a minute off his Sunderland time as well, so we’re both pretty happy today.  Next up is the Blaydon Race in another fortnight’s time!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #45

Day 45 brings us to Now! #45, released on 17th April 2000.

April 2000
This is the way the world looked in April 2000. You can tell it’s the year 2000, because I was right at the start of my two-year ‘dress shirt over combat trousers’ phase. I’m guessing Gran Canaria still looks similar, but I’d have to revisit it to confirm. Anyone want to buy me a plane ticket?

Let’s see how chart music sounded now that we’d entered a new millennium.

Now! That's What I Call Music #45
Track 1: Gabrielle – Rise

The tune’s too boring for me – not keen on this one.

Track 2: Melanie C and Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes – Never Be The Same Again

Another gorgeous track from Melanie C – lovely tune, great atmosphere.  This was a real favourite of mine at the time.

Track 3: Craig David – Fill Me In

Great upbeat danceable track, but I do find the chorus a bit annoying.

Track 4: Britney Spears – Born To Make You Happy

Urgh, super saccharine!  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 5: Backstreet Boys – Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely

I shouldn’t like it, ’cause it’s a slow, saccharine ballad, but the instrumentals and atmosphere are great.

Track 6: Lene Marlin – Sitting Down Here

Too high-pitched and cheesy for me – no edge to it.

Track 7: Tom Jones and Stereophonics – Mama Told Me Not To Come

Great, energetic cover of the ’60s classic.  Really like this one.

Track 8: Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Anthemic song – it did get a bit overplayed at the time, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it.  Awesome singalong chorus.

Track 9: Geri Halliwell – Bag It Up

It’s a bit of a daft track, but I really like it.  Another fabulous singalong song.

Track 10: S Club 7 – You’re My Number One

Nice retro-tinged tune, but the vocals are pretty annoying.

Track 11: Aqua – Cartoon Heroes

Good atmosphere to the track – this one’s sort of interesting, and I find I quite like it.

Track 12: Vengaboys – Shalala Lala

Originally a Danish glam rock track from the early ’70s, fact fans!  Love that slightly chilled-out electro hook.

Track 13: Daphne & Celeste – Ooh Stick You

Hilariously awful then, hilariously awful now!  Classic Pop magazine tells me these two are making a comeback as well, if you can believe that!

Track 14: Atomic Kitten – See Ya

Generic, squeaky pop – pretty boring track.

Track 15: Madison Avenue – Don’t Call Me Baby

I’ve always quite liked this one – it’s got a nice edge and is very danceable.

Track 16: Martine McCutcheon – Love Me

Quite a nice tune, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 17: Steps – Say You’ll Be Mine

Solid pop track from Steps – there’s a nice atmosphere to this one.

Track 18: Honeyz – Won’t Take It Lying Down

Bit more interesting and edgy than previous Honeyz songs on these compilations – quite like this track.

Track 19: Precious – Rewind

Another atmospheric track with great instrumentals.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Montell Jordan – Get It On Tonite

Dull tune, but it’s got an okay beat.

Track 21: Fierce – Sweet Love 2K

Fairly pointless cover of the Anita Baker track.  Too slow for me, though the tune’s quite pretty.

Track 22: Boyzone – Every Day I Love You

Slow, saccharine, generic ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 23: Chicane and Bryan Adams – Don’t Give Up

Dance track, which sounds a bit odd with Bryan Adams’ vocals.  It’s not very interesting otherwise.

Track 24: Fragma – Toca’s Miracle

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Quite liked it at the time, find the chorus annoying now.

Track 25: Moloko – The Time Is Now

I’ve always liked this one – great atmosphere.

Track 26: Artful Dodger and Craig David – Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David.  This track’s a bit of a legendary one though, inspiring the Bo Selecta! TV series, so they couldn’t really have left it out.  It’s a bit repetitive for me, but it is a classic.

Track 27: DJ Luck & MC Neat – A Little Bit Of Luck

Interesting vocals, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 28: Sisqó – Thong Song

Awkward then, awkward and dated now.  Let’s gloss over this one.

Track 29: Jamelia and Beenie Man – Money

Nice epic operatic-style intro, good atmosphere.  Great track.

Track 30: Kelis – Caught Out There

Oh, it’s this one!  I always assumed it was called I Hate You So Much Right Now.  The verses are pretty dull, but it is nice and danceable.

Track 31: Artful Dodger and Romina Johnson – Movin’ Too Fast

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Artful Dodger.  Really, the Now! compilers should just have gone with Re-Rewind for Artful Dodger and Craig David and saved themselves a couple of slots (especially as the number of tracks on these compilations is starting to get a bit bloated now).

I like the nice tinkly instrumentals, but the vocals are fairly boring.

Track 32: Nu Generation – In Your Arms (Rescue Me)

I like the Rescue Me sample, but the rest of the stuff in this track is pretty poor – it’s largely a lot of strange special effects.

Track 33: Basement Jaxx – Bingo Bango

Oh, it’s this one!  Great Latin-tinged instrumental hook, quite like this track – very danceable.

Track 34: ATB – Killer 2000

Cover of the Adamski and Seal classic that samples bits of the original.  Utterly pointless – there’s nothing new here.

Track 35: Sash! – Adelante

Pretty tune on this dance track, but it’s fairly repetitive, and some of the instrumentals are a bit headache-inducing.

Track 36: Watergate – Heart Of Asia

Quite like the Eastern-inspired synthy bits – nice tune.

Track 37: Progress and The Boy Wunda – Everybody

Love that Papa Don’t Preach sample – the rest of the track is pretty uninspired though.

Track 38: Lock ‘N’ Load – Blow Ya Mind

No melody, irritating screechy noise-based lines.  Not keen.

Track 39: Precocious Brats and Kevin & Perry – Big Girl

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Bit of a messy mishmash of ’60s-inspired instrumentals and irritating vocal samples from Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke’s comedy characters.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 40: The Tamperer and Maya – Hammer To The Heart

Quite like the electro line on this one – shame the vocals are irritating and generic.

Track 41: Cuban Boys – C vs I

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Oh, it’s this one.  I hadn’t thought about this track for a long time, but the yodeling bit is still just as annoying as it was back in the day, even if it did spawn the singing hamster toy craze and provide great hilarity via novelty Christmas gifts for a couple of years.

Track 42: Robbie Williams – It’s Only Us

Nice tune, still sort of hanging off the back of Britpop.  Great singalong chorus too.

Track 43: Blink-182 – All The Small Things

Absolute classic piece of pop-punk.  I remember dancing to this on Millennium Eve – great times.

Track 44: Moby – Natural Blues

Great tune, but it’s a little repetitive for me.

Track 45: John Lennon – Imagine

This track periodically re-enters the charts, and has probably done so a good dozen times since Lennon’s death in 1980.  Surprisingly, this is the first time the Now! compilers have picked it up though.  It’s a classic tune – there’s not much else to say about it.

TV Review: Britain’s Fat Fight with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

In early 2017, I started seeing adverts for Newcastle Can shared by all my diet and fitness groups and in other places – Slimming World, parkrun, dance class, at my physio, in the doctor’s waiting room, on posters around town, etc.  I’ve been logging my weight loss on their website (I’ll log my final weight on there when I hit my Slimming World target – only half a pound to go!), and it’s been nice to contribute to the city effort!

As such, I was looking forward to the accompanying TV series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and I wasn’t disappointed – it was really great to see so much of Newcastle on the show, and it finally explained why there had been all these orange footprints around Central metro station a few months back.

As for the main discussion about obesity, it was interesting to hear the thoughts of different groups of people about ways of solving the problem, but I didn’t really feel there was anything said that I didn’t already know – although maybe that’s just because I’ve done so much reading on the subject over the last sixteen months since joining Slimming World.  The conversation with the government felt pretty unfinished as well, so I’m going to keep following the website and see if there’s ever any update on that (the cynic in me doubts it, but we’ll see!).

All in all a good watch, and I think it’s important to make more people aware of the issue through TV shows like this.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #44

Day 44, and Now! #44, which was released on 22nd November 1999.

November 1999
This is how the world looked in November 1999 (actually December, you know the drill). Apologies for the poor quality photo, but these are dodgy old TIF scans from the early ’00s! I need to dig out the originals and re-scan them. Technology marches on, and so does my sense of style (I got rid of that shapeless gold velvet thing a LONG time ago).  My parents had the cushions of those screamingly ’70s chairs re-covered in the ’00s, and they’re still in use.

Let’s see what was in the charts as we approached the end of the millennium.

Now! That's What I Call Music #44
Track 1: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

Loved it at the time, bought the single.  It’s pretty overplayed these days, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Track 2: Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much

I’ve always quite liked this one, and I love her daft leopard-print outfit in the video.

Track 3: Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)

The turn-of-the-millennium Latin pop craze was in full swing by this point, and so songs like this were huge.  I’ve always loved this one – the lyrics are great, and it’s really danceable.  I know it’s early on, but I’m going to make this my top wedding disco track of today.

Track 4: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)

I absolutely adored this one at the time, mainly because people were constantly singing it at me (I had, and still have in storage, a bright blue chenille cardigan that I wore constantly between 1998 and 2004 – you can see it in the picture for the Now! #40 review).  I still love the tune and the lyrics – great song.

Track 5: Steps – Tragedy

Daft, epic cover of the Bee Gees classic.  I can’t not mention the ludicrous video, which I must have seen a hundred times back in the day.

Track 6: Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino

Geri Halliwell hopping on board with the Latin craze.  I quite like this tune, and I always appreciate a bit of Spanish guitar.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – She’s The One

I shouldn’t like this ballad (and apparently Robbie Williams didn’t like it himself for quite a number of years), but I do actually really like the tune.  Not sure why, as it’s the kind of thing I’d normally find depressing.

Track 8: Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All

Cover of the country song.  I actually prefer this version, mainly ’cause it’s not country, but it’s still pretty cheesy and pedestrian.

Track 9: Melanie C – Northern Star

I had the Northern Star album and pretty much every track on it was a cracker – Melanie C’s solo stuff was far and away the best out of all the Spice Girls, and not just because she had the best voice.  This track is beautiful and melancholy, with an absolutely gorgeous atmosphere.

Track 10: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me

The tune’s pleasant enough, but I find the theme a bit twee and irritating.

Track 11: Texas – Summer Son

Really like this one – it’s one of my favourite Texas tracks.  Love the instrumentals, love the edgy atmosphere to the song.

Track 12: Moloko – Sing It Back

Great upbeat tune – I’ve always quite liked this track.  Happily nodding along.

Track 13: Bob Marley & The Wailers and Funkstar De Luxe – Sun Is Shining

Remix of the 1971 track that adds a slightly messy dance beat over the top.  Still a great tune though.

Track 14: Diana Ross – Not Over You Yet

Dance track with a good atmosphere and interesting instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Tina Turner – When The Heartache Is Over

I’ve always quite liked this tune, though it mainly reminds me of an episode of Ally McBeal in which Tina Turner featured at the time.

Track 16: Jamiroquai – Canned Heat

Really like this tune – one of my favourite Jamiroquai tracks – though before I became aware of the title, I always misheard the lyric as ‘candy in my heels‘ rather than ‘canned heat in my heels‘.

Track 17: Tom Jones and The Cardigans – Burning Down The House

I owned and loved the Reload duet album that Tom Jones did, and this was probably one of the best tracks on it.  Great tune, wonderful singalong chorus, excellent stuff.

Track 18: Bran Van 3000 – Drinking In LA

Always really liked this one, to the extent that on the one single occasion in my life I have gone drinking in LA (at LAX airport in 2012 while waiting for a connection) I made sure to photograph the moment just so I could caption it appropriately on Facebook.

Track 19: Supergrass – Moving

I find this one a bit depressing – it’s just kind of slow and drone-y.

Track 20: Phil Collins – You’ll Be In My Heart

Boring tune, and I don’t like the country-tinged guitar.

Track 21: R Kelly – If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time

Slow, irritating ballad.  Not my thing.

Track 22: Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up

Repeated artist alert!  This track’s a bit twee and cheesy, so really I think the Now! compilers should have just gone with Mi Chico Latino for this compilation.

Track 23: Tin Tin Out and Emma Bunton – What I Am

We’re certainly getting a lot of Spice Girls solo stuff at the moment.  This one is a fairly uninspired cover of the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians track from 1988.  It’s okay to nod along to.

Track 24: Martine McCutcheon – I’ve Got You

Boring ballad, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 25: Backstreet Boys – Larger Than Life

The track’s a great danceable song (especially that epic guitar solo!), and I always liked the Y2K-themed video.

Track 26: Jordan Knight – Give It To You

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Interesting fairground-y instrumental during the intro, and there’s a good atmosphere to this one.  There’s a lot going on, but I quite like it.

Track 27: Gabrielle – Sunshine

Nice tune, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 28: Honeyz – Never Let You Down

Slow, dull ballad, and I don’t like those.

Track 29: S Club 7 – S Club Party

Another irritating track from S Club 7, though there are some good singalong hooks if you’re in the right mood (approximately six or seven pints should do it).

Track 30: Lolly – Mickey

Pointless cover of the Toni Basil classic, with the only change being the more muddy and electro instrumentals.  Unlike with most pointless ’90s covers, I was actually aware of the original when this one came out, and I remember being totally confused about why someone would release a cover that was so similar, and why anyone would buy it (I did have a friend who actually bought it, though I won’t name and shame!).

Track 31: Ann Lee – 2 Times

Pretty, feelgood, interesting track – I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 32: Vengaboys – We’re Going To Ibiza!

It’s a fairly typical daft Vengaboys track, with the added major irritation that they don’t know how to pronounce ‘Ibiza’, so the lyric sounds like ‘whoa – we’re going to eat pizza‘.  Which is definitely something to get excited about, but maybe not to the point of releasing a song.

Track 33: Enrique Iglesias – Bailamos

Loved it at the time, requested an Enrique Iglesias album for Christmas off the back of loving this track (and then it turned out to be an earlier album that didn’t have this track on it.  Oh well).  Still a great tune.

Track 34: Shaft – (Mucho Mambo) Sway

Oh, it’s this one!  Great atmosphere, great Latin beat.  Good stuff.

Track 35: ATB – Don’t Stop!

ATB using a similar irritating instrumental hook to the one on their last track, 9PM (Till I Come).  Bored already.

Track 36: DJ Jean – The Launch

Annoying, repetitive hook.  Not keen.

Track 37: Groove Armada and Gram’ma Funk – I See You Baby [Fatboy Slim Radio Edit]

Classic dance track, great vocal hook.

Track 38: Wamdue Project – King Of My Castle

I’ve always found this one pretty interesting, mainly due to the utterly incomprehensible lyrics (she’s doing what with her trestle?).  Good tune too.

Track 39: Alice Deejay – Back In My Life

Irritating, repetitive vocals, generic dance backing track.  Never really liked this one.

Track 40: Alena – Turn It Around

Boring dance track, nothing good about it.

Track 41: Tina Cousins – Angel

Pretty vocals, but the track is otherwise very uninspired.

Track 42: Liquid Child – Diving Faces

The vocal sample is awful, but I quite like the electro hooks.

Phone Box Thursday: Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Today marks the first of a few Thursdays cataloguing the myriad phone boxes of the Grassmarket.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, 25th January 2016.

We’ll start with the one at the end of the street near where the gallows used to stand (see Wikipedia for info if you’re morbidly curious), which is accompanied by one of Edinburgh’s many police-boxes-that-have-been-turned-into-coffee-stands.

Red phone box
From a different angle. Fairly sunny for January!

It’s nice to see another part of the Old Town where the red phone boxes are still standing proud.  I suppose, compared to their surroundings, they’re practically brand new.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #43

Day 43 takes us to 19th July 1999 with the Now! compilations.

July 1999
This is the way the world looked in July 1999 (we’re still in the South of France, but this time it actually matches the release month). The weather was hot, the sea was beautiful, and I wish I had more opportunity to go back these days.

On with the summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #43
Track 1: Martine McCutcheon – Perfect Moment

Found it slow, dull and irritating at the time, and guess what?  I still do now.  I quite like Martine McCutcheon as an actor and presenter, but I’m not keen on her music.

Track 2: Boyzone – You Needed Me

So slow and saccharine it’s depressing.  Really dislike this one.

Track 3: Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way

Loved it at the time and bought the single.  It’s a bit cheesy for me nowadays, but I still quite like the tune.

Track 4: Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Annoyed by the tune then, annoyed by the tune now.  Quite like the video though.

Track 5: S Club 7 – Bring It All Back

Highly irritating tune.  I was never much of an S Club fan.

Track 6: Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom

Another daft theme from the Vengaboys.  Great tune though.

Track 7: ATB – 9PM (Till I Come)

I remember having a discussion on the way home from school with my mate Laura about this track.  She found it irritating because the vocal sample was ‘till I come‘ but the word ‘9PM’ was never spoken.  I suggested that maybe the instrumental hook was meant to represent ‘9PM’, and so for a brief while we had an in-joke of singing the tune to this track in lieu of saying ‘9PM’.  I guess it must have amused us at the time.

Despite all that, the tune’s not much to write home about, and I find the whole thing pretty dull nowadays.

Track 8: Phats & Small – Turn Around

Oh, it’s this one!  I’ve always quite liked this feelgood track – it’s very danceable.

Track 9: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

Really like that hook, but could do without the messy stop-start intro.

Track 10: Dina Carroll – Without Love

Generic dance beat, boring tune, headache-inducing overblown vocals on the chorus.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 11: Geri Halliwell – Look At Me

Geri Halliwell’s post-Spice Girls solo debut.  It’s alright (the video‘s better than the song) but she did much more interesting tracks later on.

Track 12: Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

It’s another one that reminds me of my mate Laura, as she had a lot of posters of Adam Rickitt.  I actually quite like the song – there’s a nice classic pop aspect to it.

Track 13: Lolly – Viva La Radio

Appalling, painfully high-pitched song with irritating lyrics, irritating verses, messy squeaky instrumentals, and infuriating spoken interjections.  Surprisingly, the tune on the chorus is actually okay.  If someone sampled that it might be quite good.

Track 14: Cartoons – Doodah

Daft dance version of the traditional children’s song.  There’s actually something I find quite endearing about it.

Track 15: Precious – Say It Again

This is one of those late ’90s tracks that sounds more like it came from the early ’90s.  It’s got a nice beat, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 16: Honeyz – Love Of A Lifetime

Pretty instrumentals, but the vocal line is very generic.

Track 17: 911 – Private Number

Cheesy, slow cover of the ’60s hit.  Not hugely keen on this.

Track 18: Culture Club – Your Kisses Are Charity

Another reggae-tinged song from Culture Club’s late ’90s era.  Nice tune, quite like it.

Track 19: Beverley Knight – Greatest Day

Not feeling this one – the tune is too messy for me.

Track 20: Melanie B – Word Up

Upbeat cover of the Cameo classic.  It doesn’t live up to the original, but I like the added harmonisation on the vocals.

Track 21: Fierce – Dayz Like That

The atmosphere’s okay, but on the whole it’s pretty bland and tuneless.

Track 22: Tina Cousins – Forever

Lovely tune on the vocals (when they’re not so high in the mix that they make my hearing aids squawk with feedback), but the backing track’s very generic.

Track 23: Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

And it’s yet another one that reminds me of my mate Laura, due to many hours in art class with her telling me how this song sounded like God speaking.  I’ve never thought it sounded like God, but I do like the spoken word monologue throughout the track.

Track 24: Texas – In Our Lifetime

Pleasant tune, but nothing special.

Track 25: New Radicals – You Get What You Give

Great singalong chorus, but I find the tune a bit repetitive.

Track 26: Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo

I’m normally not keen on Supergrass, but I do like this one – great vocal hook, and a bit of a ’60s throwback sound, which is no bad thing.

Track 27: Madness – Lovestruck

A welcome return to the charts for the recently-reformed Madness, with a song that’s just as jaunty as their stuff the early ’80s, with a bit of added edgy atmosphere.  Great track, really like this one.

Track 28: The Wiseguys – Ooh La La

Oh, it’s this one.  It’s okay, but there’s a good reason I hadn’t thought about it for many years – there’s just no melody, and the interesting spoken word hook isn’t enough to make up for that.

Track 29: The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl

It’s too repetitive for me, but I do like the ‘superstar DJ‘ vocal sample.

Track 30: Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now

Loved it at the time, bought the single.  Still really like it now – great tune, anthemic hook.

Track 31: Chicane and Maire Brennan – Saltwater

Lovely vocals from Maire Brennan (including a bit of a reprise from Theme From Harry’s Game), contributing to a great dance track.

Track 32: Bryan Adams – Cloud Number Nine

I remember this being reviewed on the Live & Kicking episode where Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston were leaving the show, and them being disappointed that it hadn’t come out a few years earlier so they could have used it as the theme tune for their ‘Cloud Nine’ feature.  Strange what you remember.

Anyway, I quite like the track – more than I did at the time, anyway.

Track 33: Blur – Coffee And TV

Great tune, awesome singalong chorus.  Everybody raves about the video, but I refuse to watch it ’cause it makes me sad.

Track 34: Cast – Beat Mama

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Better than most Cast tracks – at least it’s got a good upbeat tempo and chant-along chorus, even if the tune’s a bit uninspired.

Track 35: Stereophonics – Pick A Part That’s New

It’s another Stereophonics track where I find the vocals too droning and depressing.  I’m sure they did do better ones.

Track 36: Gomez – Bring It On

Interesting harmonisation on the intro, but after that it gets a bit messy for my liking.

Track 37: Semisonic – Secret Smile

Nice tune, nice atmosphere, great lyrics.  Really quite like this one.

Track 38: James – I Know What I’m Here For

Pleasant tune, great instrumentals.  Nice track.

Track 39: Yomanda – Synth And Strings

I guess it does what it says on the tin, but it’s not the nice melodious track you might expect from a name like that – it sounds quite nasty, to be honest.

Track 40: DJ Jurgen and Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone

Utterly depressing repetitive vocal hook – never been keen on this.

Track 41: Masters At Work and India – To Be In Love

There’s quite a nice ’70s vibe to this one, but I’m not loving the tune.

Recipe Wednesday: chili

For the last few weeks of trying to get to target at Slimming World, I’ve been advised to do a few SP days when I can, so I’ve been making chili again, which I haven’t done in a while.  It’s perfect for SP, which basically requires meals to be half ‘S’ foods (fruit ‘n’ veg) and half ‘P’ foods (protein).

Chili
My chili from last week. I promptly devoured it in the space of a couple of minutes – SP days make me pretty hungry.

I like this one ’cause it’s a kind of ‘dump everything in a pot and stir occasionally’ recipe.  Boil sliced carrots for about fifteen minutes; once they’re done, drain them and mix them in a large saucepan with chopped onions, two tins of chopped tomatoes, one tin of red kidney beans, one tin of lentils, one tin of chickpeas, a bag of Quorn mince, and a heaped teaspoon of hot chili powder.  Simmer on a low heat for about thirty minutes, adding water if the mixture gets too dry, and then serve with a Healthy Extra A portion of cheese of your choice (I like parmesan, but then I like parmesan with everything – cheddar would be more traditional).

I’m going to be making more of this next week when I do some SP days again!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #42

Day 42, and here we are on 29th March 1999, when Now! #42 was released.

March 1999
This is how the world looked in March 1999…well, sort of. Again, we sucked at taking pictures that spring, so here’s one from later in the summer. The South of France never really changes, but I don’t wear tacky fake Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts from tourist stalls anymore *cringe*

Let’s see what the hits were as we went into the final year of the ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #42
Track 1: Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough

I mentioned this in my review of Now! #7, when discussing the Billy Ocean original.  As I said there, the cover doesn’t do anything different, but it was the Comic Relief single for 1999, so it probably raised a lot of money.  Including mine, ’cause I bought the single.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: And the reason I bought the single is because I thought ‘hey, that’s a great song!’ without realising there was a much better original version.  Sigh.

Track 2: Steps – Better Best Forgotten

Quite liked it at the time, find it super irritating now.

Track 3: Cher – Believe

I don’t hate this as much as some people do – in fact, I quite like the tune – but it was really overplayed at the time, so I don’t think there was anybody who wasn’t sick of it.

Track 4: Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank Abba For The Music

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Medley of Abba songs performed at the Brit Awards 1999 by contemporary pop artists in tribute to Abba.  It was pretty cringeworthy at the time, and is even more so nineteen years later.

Track 5: Spice Girls – Goodbye

The Christmas number one from 1998, so it’s one of those ones that feels like it’s the wrong time of year for it.  Pretty track, though.

Track 6: Honeyz – End Of The Line

Like this tune, but the vocals aren’t really to my taste.

Track 7: Billie Piper – Honey To The Bee

Found it a bit dull at the time, but I quite like the tune nowadays.

Track 8: The Corrs – What Can I Do

Lovely tune, great instrumentals.  Big fan of this one.

Track 9: Emilia – Big Big World

Really liked it at the time, find it a bit saccharine now.  Still a nice tune.

Track 10: Tina Cousins – Killin’ Time

Epic-sounding dance track – really like this one.

Track 11: Vengaboys – We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)

Bit of a guilty pleasure, this one, ’cause I do love that singalong chorus (and I have a soft spot for anything with a daft bus theme).

Track 12: Cartoons – Witch Doctor

Dance cover of the ’50s classic.  Always quite liked this one.

Track 13: Ace Of Base – Always Have, Always Will

Jaunty track with a mid-century retro tinge.  Happily nodding along.

Track 14: Blockster – You Should Be

Dull dance track based around a sample of You Should Be Dancing.  It’s pretty uninspired.

Track 15: A+ – Enjoy Yourself

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I quite like the take on Beethoven’s Fifth, but the rap is a bit generic.

Track 16: Deetah – El Paradiso Rico

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I like the La Isla Bonita bit, but the rest of the track is pretty awful.

Track 17: Emmie – More Than This

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Fairly dull dance track.  The vocal is quite nice, but the rest of the track’s pretty uninspired.

Track 18: DJ Sakin – Protect Your Mind (For The Love Of A Princess)

Dance cover of James Horner’s For The Love Of A Princess from the Braveheart soundtrack.  It’s as awful as it sounds.

Track 19: Fool Boona – Popped

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

There’s a nice sample from Iggy Pop’s The Passenger in there somewhere, but it gets lost among a ridiculous amount of other stuff going on.  It’s just a big mess, unfortunately.

Track 20: Sash! – Colour The World

Nice tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 21: Justin – Over You

Slow and dull, and I find the vocal too high-pitched and annoying.

Track 22: Robbie Williams – Strong

Never been a fan of this one – I find the tune super irritating.

Track 23: Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

Classic rock track, really like this.  Love that singalong chorus.

Track 24: Fatboy Slim – Praise You

A classic!  Great dance track, love this one.

Track 25: Armand Van Helden and Duane Harden – U Don’t Know Me

Highly irritating intro.  Once the hook gets going, it’s sort of okay.

Track 26: Mr Oizo – Flat Beat

I had (in fact, I think I still have) the single of this one.  I don’t like it as much as I used to – it’s fairly tuneless.

Track 27: The Cardigans – Erase/Rewind

Another great rock track from the Cardigans.  Awesome tune.

Track 28: Stereophonics – Just Looking

Urgh, incredibly annoying and depressing chorus.  Don’t like this one at all.

Track 29: The All Seeing I and Tony Christie – Walk Like A Panther

I’ve always liked this track – great tune.

Track 30: The Divine Comedy – National Express

I normally like the Divine Comedy, but this is another one with an annoying chorus.  The verse is great though!

Track 31: Terrorvision – Tequila [Mint Royale Shot]

A classic, and it was a bit of an anthem for me and my friends at the time.  True fact: I drank my first shot of tequila while this song was playing, on Hogmanay 1999, Millennium Eve.  Good times.

Track 32: The Beautiful South – How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry?

It’s a nice tune, but as often happens with the Beautiful South, I find the theme a little awkward.

Track 33: Roxette – Wish I Could Fly

Lovely tune, solid as ever from Roxette – great atmosphere too.

Track 34: 911 – A Little Bit More

It was too cheesy for me at fourteen, so you can imagine what I think of it at thirty-three.  Just no.

Track 35: Dru Hill – These Are The Times

Slow, boring ballad with a forgettable tune, and you know what I think about those.

Track 36: Kele Le Roc – My Love

Another dull ballad.  Not keen on this at all.

Track 37: All Saints – War Of Nerves

Great atmosphere, but there’s a slight disharmony between the vocal and instrumental that gets on my nerves.

Track 38: Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Inkanyezi Nezazi (The Star And The Wiseman)

Nice a cappella track – lovely tune.

Track 39: Blur – Tender

Gorgeous tune, great lyrics – really like this one.

Track 40: Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

Classic ’60s track, re-released in tribute to Dusty Springfield, who had just passed away in March 1999.  Great song.

My highly festive heat pack

I’ve been back at the physio the last couple of weeks, due to a stiff neck caused by my less-than-optimal desk setup during my busy work period.  Ellie, my physio, has been using a heat pack on my neck, and suggested that I do the same in the evenings to help reduce the stiffness.

What this meant was that tonight I had to go digging through the Christmas decorations, ’cause the only heat pack I own is this wee guy:

Santa heat pack
Santa baby, just get rid of that muscle knot for me kthxbye.

I am pretty sure that the only other time I’ve actually microwaved the wheat bag inside and used him as a heat pack was also not at Christmas.  When it is Christmas, he’s just an extra decoration.

He does feel nice on my neck though.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #41

Day 41 brings us to Now! #41, which was released on 23rd November 1998.

November 1998
This is the way the world looked in November 1998…no it didn’t. Again, we don’t have any pictures from autumn 1998, so instead, you get this slightly cringeworthy one from January 1999 of me dressed up for a gangster-themed party. My hair was super curly then – it’s still curly but it calmed down a bit in the next couple of years.

Let’s see what might have been on the CD player at that party.

Now! That's What I Call Music #41
Track 1: Boyzone – No Matter What

It’s a bit slow and saccharine, but it is a nice tune.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Millennium

The tune is a bit dull, but there’s something quite pleasant about his one.

Track 3: The Beautiful South – Perfect 10

I’ve always been a bit mixed on this one – great tune, but for some reason I find the theme a bit depressing.

Track 4: U2 – Sweetest Thing

I’ve always quite liked this one, and the video‘s still great.

Track 5: Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved

This reminded me that I read in Classic Pop (my new favourite magazine – it’s basically like Smash Hits grew up and is now a middle-aged man) the other day that Culture Club have finally made up and got back together in order to go on tour and release that album that they made a few years back before the last bust-up.  As such, I’ve just ordered tickets, and I’m going to see them in November!  So excited.

This song is from the late ’90s reformation, and it’s quite a pleasant reggae track, but it’s not quite up there with the ’80s stuff for me.

Track 6: Ace Of Base – Life Is A Flower

Loved it at the time, still quite like it now.  Nice tune.

Track 7: Jennifer Paige – Crush

Lovely tune, classic chorus.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 8: Steps – Heartbeat

The annual music channel Christmas playlists have ensured that this is now a bona fide Christmas song, so it feels wrong in May.  Trying to put that aside, it’s a pretty daft, cheesy song, fairly standard for Steps.

Track 9: Honeyz – Finally Found

We return to the theme from yesterday, of tracks that were also featured on the Top of the Pops 1998 compilation, which I owned for some reason despite liking almost none of the songs on it.  This one has an annoying chorus and a boring theme.

Track 10: East 17 – Each Time

I like the instrumentals at the start, but the vocal is pretty uninspired.

Track 11: Kele Le Roc – Little Bit Of Lovin’

Overblown vocals, slow ballad, generic tune.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 12: Sweetbox – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

The Bach sample is nice, but the vocals over the top (both sung and rap) are pretty awful.

Track 13: UB40 – Come Back Darling

Fairly standard reggae track from UB40, except it’s got a sort of messy beat that I find a bit irritating.  Shame, ’cause the tune’s nice.

Track 14: Melanie B and Missy Elliott – I Want You Back

So-so effort from the Spice Girls’ Mel B for her first solo single.  The dull tune on the chorus does nothing for me, really…

Track 15: All Saints – Bootie Call

…and bizarrely, the dull tune on the chorus of this one is strongly reminiscent of it.  I’m also irritated by the theme.

Track 16: Aqua – Turn Back Time

Gorgeous tune, love this one.  Great song.

Track 17: Spice Girls – Too Much

The Now! compilers are a little late with this one, as it was the Christmas number one for 1997.  Still a nice tune, though, and possibly my favourite of the three consecutive Spice Girls Christmas number ones.

Track 18: Lutricia McNeal – Someone Loves You Honey

Super cheesy and irritating, but at least it attempts to bring back the sax solo, which was much neglected by this point of the ’90s.

Track 19: Lighthouse Family – Question Of Faith

Really nice tune, great atmosphere.  Good head-nodder.

Track 20: Phil Collins – True Colours

Laid-back cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic.  Interesting, slightly folky instrumentals, but it doesn’t quite have the rawness of the original.

Track 21: Janet Jackson – Every Time

Pretty song – quite like this one, even if the tune on the chorus does massively rip off Go West’s King Of Wishful Thinking.

Track 22: Billie Piper – Girlfriend

Annoyed by it at the time, annoyed by it now.  I remember taking the piss out of this one with mates at school using alternative lyrics, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

Track 23: 911 – More Than A Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the Bee Gees song, with the only real changes being some added tinkly instrumentals and the fact that it’s not sung in falsetto.  Meh.

Track 24: T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach

Well, it’s at least upfront.  Found it a bit awkward at the time – nowadays I just find it interesting as a ’90s musical artefact.

Track 25: The Tamperer and Maya – If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better

It’s pretty similar to their previous hit Feel It, except this time it samples Material Girl instead of Can You Feel It?  It’s okay, but there’s a reason it wasn’t as big a hit as the first one.

Track 26: Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I should be irritated by this one, but I do like that singalong hook.

Track 27: Vengaboys – Up And Down

I’ve always quite liked this one, although it’s not the most memorable of the Vengaboys’ tracks.

Track 28: Sash! and Shannon – Move Mania

The backing track is great, but I’m not keen on the vocals.

Track 29: Touch & Go – Would You…?

I like the instrumentals, and the vocal sample’s used quite well.  While it’s still not exactly innuendo, it’s not as in-your-face as Sex On The Beach (see above), and I actually quite like the track.

Track 30: The Corrs – Dreams [Tee’s Radio Mix]

Pretty, folky cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic.  Really like this one.

Track 31: The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

Great track!  Loved it at the time, love it now.  That guitar riff is gold.

Track 32: James – Sit Down ’98

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

We already had the original on Now! #20, but this version is different enough that I’m not going to moan about that.  It’s not different in a good way, though – it’s just really messy.

Track 33: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

I like the instrumental hook, but the rest of the track is pretty haphazard and irritating.

Track 34: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Falling In Love Again

It’s okay, but it sounds too similar to Save Tonight.  I prefer artists to diverge a bit more.

Track 35: Sheryl Crow – My Favourite Mistake

A bit repetitive, and it’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 36: Robbie Williams – No Regrets

Repeated artist alert!  I know Robbie Williams was having a lot of hits at the time, but that’s really no excuse.

The tune is lovely, and had I been the Now! compilers, I would have chosen this one over Millennium and given the extra slot to someone else.  I’ll remember that when I get round to building that time machine.

Track 37: Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Interesting, atmospheric cover of the Animals classic.  Quite like this one.

Track 38: Embrace – My Weakness Is None Of Your Business

It’s another depressing one from Embrace.  Droning vocals, slow tune, brings my mood right down.  Next one, please.

Track 39: Alisha’s Attic – The Incidentals

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice tune, but it’s a bit acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 40: Deetah – Relax

Pretty intro, but the instrumentals don’t really go with the rap.

Track 41: R Kelly and Keith Murray – Home Alone

Not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.  Not a fan.

Track 42: Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma

Dance-infused version of the traditional Irish song that I absolutely adored at the time – I bought the single and everything.  It’s still a guilty pleasure, but I do find it a bit daft nowadays!