All posts by Mr Ben Groom

Blogger, human and occasional idiot

Now That’s What I Call Music 57

 

Released-  5th April 2004

Music History

 

Me History

 

If I had to save one track from this album, which this time around feels like asking me which of my children I’d want to survive, that track would be… 

Track by Track Breakdown

Britney Spears – “Toxic”

Easily her best single. The syncopated beats and screeching violins and frankly how rudely she says ‘I think I’m ready now’ towards the end (for shame). Can’t not dance to this.

Kelis –
“Milkshake”

What a double to start! I don’t know what there is new to say here, so just put this on and appreciate!

Jamelia
 – “Thank You”

Very odd backing. Wonky. But actually a great song. Touching.


Kylie Minogue –
“Red Blooded Woman”

One of those moments when her star is on the fade again sadly. To be honest, she’ll bounce back. It’s what she does.

Justin Timberlake – “I’m Lovin’ It”

In an otherwise wonderful solo career, writing the McDonald’s jingle is probably his lowest moment.


Enrique Iglesias featuring Kelis –
“Not In Love”

It’s okay. Annoying that he got Kelis on but it just sounds like every other Enrique Iglesias song. And steals a line from 10cc.


The Black Eyed Peas –
“Shut Up”

Not entirely terrible. But I reckon a better song with this title will come out in 12 years or so.


2 Play featuring Raghav –
“So Confused”

The limpest use of a good danceable beat I have ever heard. Even Sean Paul would refuse to guest on this.


Beenie Man featuring Ms Thing and Shawanna
 – “Dude”

He’s a horrible man, but I can’t help but enjoy his music. Bounces along at a great clip.

Peter Andre – “Mysterious Girl”

I reviewed this back on 1996’s Now 34 and I’ll be damned if I’m listening to it again. So this is what I said:
Famous for this song and marrying the plastics and retardation magnate Jordan. I can’t work out which is worse. This song is liked ironically by the sort of man who thinks unwanted groping is just ‘bantz’. That’s how bad it is.


DJ Casper –
“Cha Cha Slide”

No matter how basic EDM is, it could never stoop down to this, which is basically outtakes from an exercise tape over a beat. Or Agadoo without the charm.


Girls Aloud –
“Jump”

Cover of the Pointer Sisters, which adds nothing new – to its credit!


Boogie Pimps –
“Somebody to Love”

Enjoyable update of the Jefferson Airplane classic. Face it, the original wasn’t as danceable!


Atomic Kitten featuring Kool & the Gang – 
“Ladies’ Night”

They can’t quite drain all the funk from the original. But good lord can we all just agree to sent £3 a month so Kool and his gang don’t have to debase themselves this way?

Emma – “I’ll Be There”

I feel like I might have missed out on a great fake 60s album by Baby Spice here. A great low budget Dusty Springfield pastiche here, complete with multiple key changes.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor “I Won’t Change You”
Scissor Sisters “Comfortably Numb”
Deepest Blue “Give It Away”
LMC vs U2 “Take Me to the Clouds Above”
Special D. “Come with Me”
Ultrabeat “Feelin’ Fine”
Motorcycle “As the Rush Comes”
Ferry Corsten “Rock Your Body Rock”
Will Young “Leave Right Now”
Katie Melua “The Closest Thing to Crazy”
Norah Jones “Sunrise”
Blue “Breathe Easy”
Kelly Osbourne featuring Ozzy Osbourne “Changes”
Blink-182 “I Miss You”
Busted “Who’s David?”
Fountains of Wayne “Stacy’s Mom”
Franz Ferdinand “Take Me Out”
Alistair Griffin “Bring It On”
Sugababes “Too Lost in You”
VS “Love You Like Mad”
Joss Stone “Fell in Love with a Boy”
FYA featuring Smujji “Must Be Love”
N.E.R.D “She Wants to Move”
Jamie Cullum “Frontin'” (Live)
Keane “Somewhere Only We Know”
Snow Patrol “Run”
Alex Parks “Maybe That’s What It Takes”
Ronan Keating “She Believes (In Me)”
Michelle McManus “All This Time”

 

Final Verdict

out of 44.

https://open.spotify.com/user/

This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.

I gave a speech

Pretty much what I said above… I gave a speech at a college in West Bromwich this week. It was about politics in general and the green party. I figured I’d blog it, as i worked quite hard on it by my standards.

Here it is:

Afternoon. My name’s Ben, and I’m the coordinator of Sandwell Green Party, and I’m here today with Rob, who is the chair of the West Midlands Green Party, and so is annoyingly more important, smarter and better looking than me. My job basically means I organise what we do locally, and do all the jobs nobody else wants to do. We’ll get onto this in the Q and A, if you’re interested, but doing a lot of work for the Green Party for no money has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
I’ll be kicking off, talking about the scale of the problems we face, and some of the high level solutions to this, then Rob will take over and talk about some of the more detailed solutions we think might solve problems here.
And thank you for choosing to spend your lunchtime listening to us. I am just about young enough that I remember being at college, and I’m not sure I was quite as mature and diligent as you. Well… I’m certain I wasn’t, and I’m more than a little jealous of the better future you’ll have ahead of you for it.
Except… I’m not confident you’ll have a better future. You’re a generation who, if lucky enough to go to uni, will leave with an average £44,000 of debt. You may have to grow up never owning your own home. You’ll pay a small fortune for a sandwich – well, even more of a fortune, I’ve eaten in a Starbucks too – because intensive farming will have rendered our land unfarmable, and besides, we all voted to close our borders to anyone who might actually work on our farms anyway. And that’s before I even to get to the Greens specialist subject of climate change, and the devastation it will cause if we don’t address this LAST WEEK!
By the way, don’t worry – I’m not going to stay this gloomy for the full 40 minutes. But I kind of feel that we need to point out the huge challenges that face us. These challenges are here for a few reasons, which I would like to outline before we get to the less miserable bit. Because I’d like to say here that there are answers. There aren’t easy answers, unless you want to blame someone who doesn’t share your skin colour or religion, but there are answers, and that’s what inspires me to do what I do.
So, why are we in the mess we’re in?
The main answer I have is our system rewards short term thinking. All the problems above started, at the very least, before you were born. Some of them before I was. Some of the BEFORE EVEN YOUR TUTORS WERE BORN. Pollution started in the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century. House prices started going stupid in the 1980’s. Free university ended in the late 1990’s – it did me over too!
Our system is such that it doesn’t pay for our MPs to think of the consequences of their policies. Our media sees a problem and wants it solved yesterday, and politicians agree to this, rarely, if ever, thinking of the long term consequences of acting too quickly.
And the causes of this go back even further. We haven’t seriously reformed our political system since the 17th century. And don’t get me wrong… it was brilliant then. But since then, pretty much every country, save for maybe North Korea has overtaken us. The House of Lords, which is completely unelected, is the second largest government chamber in the world, after Communist China.
Our antiquated first past the post system means that the Conservatives only need 35,000 votes to win a seat, Labour need 40,000, Lib Dems 300,000, and Greens over 1,000,000. And yet we have it better than UKIP, who got one seat for nearly 4m votes. Whatever your feelings about Mr Farage, that isn’t fair. Power is kept amongst a select few, making them unaccountable, and significantly more vulnerable to corruption.
To move this closer to our own doorstep – do any of you know the make up of our local council?  Of 72 seats, 71 are held by Labour. Regardless of how you feel about them, they hold 97% of the seats, despite only getting 58% of the votes . This means the views of two out of every five people who vote in Sandwell don’t count, and nobody represents them.
And the combination of these two things means that politicians play only to win. We only elect one chamber, and that only once every five years. As a result, politicians will say pretty much anything to get in at election time – it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work, because by the time it breaks, there will have been another election, and a whole new bunch of short term promises to keep or break. Most other countries – even America, the land of the Trump, have two chambers, and staggered elections so that this isn’t completely changed every five years, and there is at least some long term thinking.
Even more countries across Europe have a much fairer form of democracy, normally a form of Proportional Representation. I know I’m talking to smart people here , but I’ll very quickly explain that PR awards seats based on vote share, so that all votes, or at least most votes count. If the Angry As Hell At Adults For Not Getting That We’re Old Enough To Set Our Own Rules, Now Stop Ruining My Life Mum Party gets 30% of the vote, they’ll get 30% of the say in Government. This means more people’s views get represented. It means smaller groups don’t get ignored. And that’s brilliant.
Better still, it makes it a lot more likely that every law gets properly challenged – when you create a fake majority, they can essentially pass any law they like, irrespective of how stupid it is. This is how we end up with poorly planned policies and pointless wars. By making larger parties rely on other parties to pass laws, they iron out the sort of short term thinking that has led to so many of our problems today. It’s of little surprise, to me at least, that Germany has one of the strongest economies (and best rent prices) in Europe, and also has a proportional system.
None of this has destroyed our country. Yet. We are still one of the world’s leading democracies. But we have fallen three places in the Global Democracy rankings in recent years. We’ve taken a huge risk in leaving the EU (I’m not discussing the rights and wrongs of this here. I only have 15 minutes) and our democracy will now have to stand alone. With the problems I have listed above, we will surely sink unless we take action now. And to do this, we will need practical LONG TERM solutions.
Finally, and I almost don’t want to say this – because it feels like I’m saying what you want to hear – but we believe that you should have the vote from 16. Any decision politicians make are going to affect you more than they’re going to affect me, and a lot more than they’ll affect you’re Nan, so why shouldn’t you have a say? Simply put, you can join the army, you can have a kid, you can get a job and pay tax. Surely you should have a say in what happens when you do those things?
I suppose the main thing all of this has in common, is that our system is built so that those who have power do everything they can to hold onto that power. This is the main problem anyone who wants change faces. But this is also where the solution lies.
Because we do actually live in a democracy. And that means that people have the final say. When I joined the Green Party, a bit over two years ago, I didn’t think I could change anything. I just thought I’d pay membership once a year, and hope that paid for someone else to do some work.
Then I went to a meeting, and everyone was nice. Then someone convinced me to leaflet. Then to run for election (I lost), then to manage our local elections, to help on campaigns for renter’s rights, refugees, clean energy…
I quickly realised that if you get up and just do a little work in your spare time (I do have an actual job outside this) you can actually make real change happen. I had the good luck to meet our previous leader, Natalie Bennett, and she said what is probably the most powerful thing that sums up why I’ve found this work so rewarding. She said that there is one big lie that lets things go wrong. And that is that politics is something that’s done to you. And this isn’t true. Politics is something YOU DO.
I’d go so far as to say it’s your job as a citizen to do it. A small group of well organised people getting out there and trying to change things, can change things. Almost every good change through history from the abolition of slavery to breaking Trump’s travel ban most likely started with a few people, in a room, saying… “Wow… this looks difficult… LET’S DO IT ANYWAY. (I know that’s how the Trump one happened, the activists behind it have given interviews).
So if you take one thing from my bit today, it’s that if you see an injustice, a problem, anything that irks you… you’re probably the right person to fix it. Politics isn’t for any one group of people, and you aren’t excluded from it. And if giving up my lunch break to chat to you today gets even one of you out there deciding to change things… Well… It’ll be worth the cost of that overpriced Starbucks sarnie.
Now, I will be the first person to say that you should never trust an adult who is sure they know the answers. However, I believe we have a strong set of possible solutions to the problems facing us today, in the policies that we in the Green Party fight over every conference. So I would like to hand over to Rob now, who will talk to you about these.

Churros

Because it’s Sunday and you have the luxury of trying something new, and because not enough places serve them in my native Birmingham (though shout out to Bodega and Digbeth Dining Club, both places have given me fine ones).

This is a recipe which is much easier with two, as you have to pipe them and cut them off carefully to avoid splashing hot oil everywhere. So a shout out to my lovely girlfriend Rosie too.

Delicious on their own, even better with a strong cup of coffee and some chocolate sauce.

Ingredients

  • 250ml water
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 140g plain flour
  • 1l vegetable/rapeseed oil
  • Another 100g caster sugar on a plate for dusting
  • A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Essential equipment – a piping bag with the toothy nozzle (that’s a technical term, honest) and a deep sided pan capable of comfortably holding the oil.

Method

Firstly, make the dough. Add the water, sugar, salt and two tablespoons of oil to a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring till it all mixes.

Remove from the heat, and add the flour a little at a time till you have a stodgy dough and the flour is used up. Leave to cool a little, then put it in the piping bag.

Heat the remaining oil in your large deep sided pan – if you have the luxury of a deep fat fryer, it should be set to 190c. If not, ot should be bubbling. Squeeze out long strands of the dough for a bag, and cut off at around 5cm. MAKE SURE YOU ARE AS CLOSE TO THE OIL AS POSSIBLE. I mean, it’s fine, but splashed oil at double boiling point is liable to make you swear.

When they turn golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the plate of sugar for dusting. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

If you wish, sprinkle over a little cinnamon, and eat. Heaven.

Episode 26: Manchester Vs Merseyside

I mentioned when I started that I do a football podcast now, which in part is the reason I’m so poor at updating this blog. This episode covers the pointlessness of kitchen roll, 90’s legends Trev and Simon, and of course last weekend’s football. Give it a try. I have a nice voice. Like David Baddiel with a blocked nose.

Mid Table Matters

After an unplanned week off, MTM is back to discuss the best team on Merseyside’s win over troubled looking Guardiola’s Man City team and another draw between fierce rivals United and Liverpool.

An Iwobi inspired Arsenal heap more misery on the Swans and Chelsea and West Ham look better without their sulky stars.

There’s all the usual extras; the Millwall Minute, Exeter Second, Poem and quiz, and at the very end, a little treat for all those who remember Saturday morning children’s telly with fondness. So, join in and swing your pants.

Listen here:

Or download from here: https://midtablematters.podbean.com/e/episode-26-manchester-vs-merseyside/

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Okonomiyaki

Well. It’s been about a year since I put a recipe up. Here is a recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake dish, apparently meaning ‘whatever you like’. I’ve gone moderately sane here.

Okonomiyaki 

Ingredients

  • 100g flour
  • 4 or 5 eggs
  • 1/4tsp baking powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a white cabbage
  • 4 spring onions
  • Pork belly (optional)
  • Okonomiyaki sauce and kewpie mayonnaise… Or;
  • A 50/50 mix of brown sauce and Worcester sauce and regular mayonnaise 

Method

If you’re cooking pork belly, chop it up fine and lightly fry it for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

Beat together the flour, eggs, baking powder, salt and pepper till you have a smooth batter.

Chop up the spring onion and shred the lettuce. Beat this (and the pork belly if you’re having it) into the batter mix.

In a small pan over a lowish temperature, spoon in the mixture to make a pancake about an inch high. Push in the edges as you go, and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Then you need to flip it. Probably easiest to turn the pan over onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan.

Give it another five minutes then serve it. If you can, put the sauce and mayo in a crisscross fashion. It looks nice. Not essential though.

Eat up!

Lucas, Bartley and Womack: The Future of the Green Party

2 2 4 Politics

Last weekend saw the Green Party of England and Wales’ autumn conference, and the formal announcement of the Green Party’s new leadership team – Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley as joint-leaders, and Amelia Womack as Deputy Leader.

Lucas and Bartley’s victory was not a surprise, but perhaps the size of their victory was (87.7% of the vote, 81% clear of their nearest rival). This is despite some displeasure at the manner of the announcement they’d be standing (an article in the Guardian the day before formal nominations opened). Lucas had previously suggested she may continue with the decision she made in 2012 – to step aside from the leadership so that, among other benefits, more faces could make a name for themselves, and build a national reputation. Deputy Leaders Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali among those suggested as possible candidates, as well as MEP Molly Scott-Cato.

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Mid Table Matters Podcast Episode 1

 

So. This is a podcast I have the honour of chairing. And this is our first episode. I’m quite enjoying doing it, and hope it fills the gap in the market where Radio 4 lacks a programme like this.

If anyone from Radio 4 is listening, our rates are reasonable..

Episode 1 is here! We review the first round of Euro 2016 games and look ahead to the rest of the tournament.   Listen here: Or download from here:   We’ll be back on Saturday……

Source: Mid Table Matters Podcast Episode 1

Savoury Summer Tart

Hi.

Been a while.

I’d explain but my life isn’t really the point of this blog. Here are some pictures of other foods I’ve made while I’ve been away though.

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Cajun Chicken and Noodle Salad
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Duck a la Cerise with Creamy Spinach
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Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Slaw
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A Vegan Feast for the Green Party, including a Root Veg Stew, Pine Nut Cous Cous and Vegan Cookies

Here’s a new thing!

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It’s a really simple summery tart. Takes about 50 minutes, and it’s just plain delicious. Rich Mediterranean flavours, creamy goat cheese, blooming simple.

Ingredients

  • A 30cm by 30cm square of puff pastry (bought, because I’ve been busy)
  • An onion
  • 50g pancetta
  • Pesto
  • About 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A good lump of goat’s cheese

Method

Chop the onion into about 8 or 10 big wedges, and throw into a frying pan on the lowest heat on the smallest hob with a dash of oil. Throw the pancetta in too. Leave it in the pan for about half an hour, until the onions are translucent and lovely.

Lay the puff pastry on a baking sheet and spread a layer of pesto all over, leaving about a centimeter at the edge. Preheat the oven to 220c.

Dot the halved tomatoes around, and crumble the goat’s cheese over. Wait for the onions to be done. When they are, layer over the onions and pancetta.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes then enjoy! Obviously let it cool down a bit first. Hot tomato burns. A lot. I know this.

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Now That’s What I Call Music 56

220px-Now_56

Released-  17th November 2003

Music History

 Not a whole lot. Michael Jackson releases a best of, and to promote it, gets arrested for interfering with kids…AGAIN. Mick Jagger shows us his rebellious side by accepting a knighthood.

Me History

Probably playing a lot of gigs, drinking a lot, not doing a good job of studying. Hopeless 19 year old stuff. My memory is a bit fuzzy round here. Maybe if I can find my old MySpace it’ll clear things up.

If I had to save one track from this album and the remainder had to be comic relief on an X Factor rip off (looking at you Will.I.Am) that track would be… heavy on the handicaps.

Track by Track Breakdown

The Black Eyed Peas – “Where Is the Love?”

The perfect crossover point between the serious hip hop act responsible for Joints and Jams and the pop act to blame for Boom Boom Pow. So good, but also a little sad.

Rachel Stevens – “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex”

Fantastically jangly flamenco guitars and driving rhythms. Just a shame it was her only decent single.


Kylie Minogue  – “Slow”

Hated it at the time, but it actually has a real woozy charm listening back.

Blue – “Guilty”

I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit, enough to know loving you isn’t a crime. But this cliché wrapped in acoustic guitars is under article 6 of the Geneva Convention.

Fatman Scoop featuring The Crooklyn Clan – “Be Faithful”

Literally just a guy shouting over Chic Cheer. But in its favour, what’s wrong with a guy shouting over Chic Cheer?

Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z – “Crazy in Love”

While she’s put out some absolute classics since, has Beyoncé ever managed to outdo this track in 13 years? I’m not sure.

Sugababes – “Hole in the Head”

Sugababes can do no wrong at this point. Not quite at the point where they get rid of every original member. 

Liberty X“Jumpin'”

It hasn’t aged well, but it does have a pleasing sinister streak behind the inane lyrics. Sleazy and with a great low slung feel.

Jamelia –  “Superstar”

I can’t remember if it’s true that this was written by Chris Martin from Coldplay. If so, he’s wasted on his own records. This is class.


Lumidee  – “Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)”

Damn there was some good R&B in 03. Eerieist song to feature handicaps ever.

Stacie Orrico  – “Stuck”

Nice opening verse, but the wheels come off as soon as the cheesy guitar chorus kicks in. Disappointing waste of a half good song.

Lemar – “Dance (With U)”

Could totally be an 80’s soul jam. Just not an especially good one.

Javine  – “Surrender (Your Love)”

A bad wedding band trying to do Chic. Two Chic references in one article. Oh well.

Emma  – “Maybe”

This might actually be my favourite solo Spice Girls single. Great sun dappled 60’s vibe.


S Club 8 – “Sundown”

Still making my stomach crawl with its Jonathan Kinginess. But probably the best song they’ve done. Not that there’s much competition.

Ultrabeat – “Pretty Green Eyes”

Really standard dance. Worst of all the build up to the break is great then just… Goes nowhere.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor –“Mixed Up World”

Very of the moment. Sounds exactly like pop in about 03. Fails as a result of its lack of innovation or soul. Corporate pop.

Phixx –  “Hold On Me”

It’s terrible, but the synthesiser sounds a lot like The King of Rock and Roll by Prefab Sprout, which makes me happy.

D-Side – “Invisible”

The irony of the band name being that even if records HAD four sides, this still wouldn’t justify inclusion.

Louise  – “Pandora’s Kiss”

The verse is genuinely promising, a jerky, bleepy, Neptunes inspired thing. But the wheels fall off at the chorus. 

Girls Aloud – “Life Got Cold”

Certainly not one of their greats, but I think a mark of their quality is that even filler like this is still pretty good.

Atomic Kitten –  “If You Come to Me”

You’re nothing without Kerry Katona.

Elton John – “Are You Ready for Love”

Terrible remix of what was never one of his great songs anyway. A big fat meh.

Justin Timberlake – “Rock Your Body”

Absolutely great. But then all his singles are aren’t they? Love the little faux beatbox ending…


Robbie Williams –  “Something Beautiful”

He’s done. It’s not bad, but his spark has gone out. Whatever magic touch he had has gone.

Nickelback – “Someday”

There’s a funny meme going round that says ‘Blaming all Muslims for terrorism is like blaming all musicians for Nickelback.’ It’s funny because it’s true and their music is probably as bad as terrorism.

Busted  – “Sleeping with the Light On”

I listened to a podcast with… Possibly Matt from Busted the other day. He seemed so genuine about his love of pop and that that was his intention all along. They were very good at it. This song is pretty bland though.

Mark Owen – “Four Minute Warning”

I thought I was being clever and ironic liking this as a 19 year old. Problem is its actually good, which in hindsight must have made me look a bit of a bellpiece.

Amy Studt – “Under the Thumb”

Bravely attempting a reggae resurgence. Bravely swinging and missing.

Texas featuring Kardinal Offishall –       ‘Carnival Girl

Kardinal Offishall is the only thing that stopped me from stopping after a minute. He doesn’t save it, but he at least stopped me from breaking anything.

50 Cent featuring Nate Dogg – “21 Questions”

Cracks already appearing in 50 Cent’s limited skills. But the joy of Nate Dogg’s somnambulistic voice is never in doubt. Still miss hearing him on a joint.

Ashanti – “Rock wit U (Awww Baby)”

Not bad. Much of a mid noughties R&B muchness.

Joe Budden  – “Pump It Up”

If it’s not on your pre drinks playlist then you’re doing it all wrong. Although the rohypnol line makes me actively dislike him as a human being.

Jaimeson –  “Complete”

Smooth sounding, then jumps in with a great breakbeat. Needs a little more change to be truly good, but an alright effort.

Lisa Scott-Lee“Too Far Gone”

I get the impression of a writers room throwing around every au courant idea they can think of and shouting ‘Why is nothing working!’.

Angel City featuring Lara McAllen –     “Love Me Right (Oh Sheila)”

Dull dull dull.

Richard X featuring Kelis – “Finest Dreams”

Both Richard X and Kelis are masters of this sleazy, wonky sounding electro R&B. I can only assume The Weeknd was paying close attention.

Rishi Rich Project featuring Jay Sean and Juggy D –  “Dance with You”

I forgot about the whole Panjabi thing in hip hop at this time. Love it. 


UB40 featuring The United Colours of Sound – “Swing Low”

On the one hand this is a terrible version of the song. On the other, Johnny Wilkinson, dying minutes, beating an Australia side with the ref in their pocket, taking home the World Cup.

Starsailor –  “Silence Is Easy”

I remember really liking their first single, Fever. But they never really moved forward from there sadly.

Stereophonics –   “Maybe Tomorrow”

Album to album is a downward trajectory for these guys. Loved the first, liked the second, indifferent to the third. And it gets worse.

Daniel Bedingfield –  “Never Gonna Leave Your Side”

He’s gone back to the gentle, moving ballad well. It’s getting dry, sadly.

Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules – “Mad World”

This, and Dornie Darko, the film this lovely, plaintive Tears For Fears cover is taken from were both overhyped at the time, but with 13 years mellowing… They’re both rather lovely, aren’t they?

 https://youtu.be/4N3N1MlvVc4

Final Verdict

22 out of 43 or a passable 51%.

This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.

Not as good as my Mum’s Fish Pie

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When I was in Australia, I got really homesick one day, and made this fish pie. It’s nowhere near as good as my Mum’s, but it’s near enough to make me feel 6 years old again, in our old house, on a cold day, snacking on fish in an unctuous sauce, and the creamy potato.

Hopefully my Mum will read this and give me her recipe, but it’s that good I’m fairly sure it’s only ever handed down the female line, and then only on their death beds. It’s that good.

Edit- My Mum let me know- apparently it’s pretty close! I forgot to include a sliced up boiled egg or two along with the fish, which in hindsight was one of my favourite bits!!!

This is merely comforting and tasty.

Ingredients

  • A mix of salmon, haddock, white fish, prawns… about 500g
  • 750g potatoes, peeled
  • 400ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • A leek
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • 25g parmesan
  • 1tsp mustard
  • Vegetables- about 2 handfuls of peas, sweetcorn, green beans, broccoli. Your call here.
  • Cheddar cheese, to top

Method

Stick the spuds on boil. About 20 minutes, or until the spuds are falling apart.

While they boil, put the butter and the chopped leek into a pan over a very low heat. As the butter melts, add the flour, stirring vigorously, in about 4 small measures. This should coat the leeks, as they cook, in a kind of stealth roux.

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Add the milk, bit by bit, stirring thoroughly then cook out on a slightly higher temperature for about 5 minutes, till thickened. Take off the heat, and stir in the parmesan, chives, fish, parsley and veg, and transfer to an oven proof dish.

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Preheat the oven to 185c. When the potatoes are done, mash them up with some butter and milk. Spread all over the top of the fish mix, put some nice lines in with a fork (this helps crisp the top up) then put a layer of cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes or so. Let it cool on the side for 5 minutes then scoff it greedily.

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