Song, by Toad

Posts tagged half man half biscuit


Toadcast #237 – The Chucklecast

This podcast, I suppose I am going to have to accept from the start, really isn’t going to be for everyone, is it.  There is plenty of music in here, but not all that much which would make it onto a regular Toadcast.

Mixed in with those few more traditional tunes is a little musical comedy, a genre with which I have a very patchy relationship indeed, and also some outright stand-up. It’s the Edinburgh Festival and some friends and I were talking about how we generally avoid the whole boiling pot of shit, but that there were some comedians we would make an effort to see nevertheless.

Because, with the exception of Stewart Lee, I don’t have any of their stuff this isn’t about people I may or may not see here in August just some stuff by comedians I happen to a/ like and b/ happen to have handy (because I am lazy).  So it may not be the usual cutting edge hipster tunefest, but it’s still a very good podcast if you’re into this sort of shit.  Plus it’s a nice change.  So deal with it.

Direct download: Toadcast #237 – The Chucklecast

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01. Richard Cheese – Rape Me (00.22)
02. Doug Anthony Allstars – If You’re Happy/Waco (05.09)
03. David Cross – Certain Leaders In Government Look Or Act Like Certain Pop Culture References! (08.14)
04. Phil Ochs – Talking Cuban Crisis (14.54)
05. Doug Anthony Allstars – Gilbert & Sullivan (17.36)
06. Half Man Half Biscuit – Surging Out of Convalescence (19.03)
07. Animaniacs – International Friendship Song (26.15)
08. Bill Hicks – Dinosaurs in the Bible (29.17)
09. Doug Anthony Allstars – Gilbert & Sullivan 2 (35.06)
10. David Cross – Women, Please Rinse Off Your Vagina and Anus (36.17)
11. Richard Cheese – Milkshake (43.36)
12. Jeff Foxworthy – Redneck Games (46.20)
13. Doug Anthony Allstars – Gilbert & Sullivan 3 (49.57)
14. Me First & the Gimme Gimmes – Stand By Your Man (51.35)
15. Inspector Tapehead – I am Your Pedigree (54.49)
16. Tim Minchin – Pope Song (1.00.26)
17. Stewart Lee – Top Gear (1.02.41)


Friday is on the Train

Yep, I am off down to London to schmooze like a lickspittle get plastered and see some excellent bands.  And to catch up with one of my best and oldest friends.  Good times. And to watch the Champions League final.  Possibly slightly less good times.

I am running the gauntlet of the British Rail ticketing system as well.  For those who aren’t familiar with this particular challenge, in the UK they try and make it as difficult as possible for you to buy a/ the cheap tickets which they advertise so aggressively (£35 London-Edinburgh return, aye right!) or b/ the actual, right ticket for the train you happen to take.

I went on the website and specifically selected the 08:30 train, which is the one I am on, but when I collected my tickets they said ‘Off-peak Return’ on them, and I am highly dubious about any service leaving at 08:30 in the morning being classified as ‘off-peak’. And if I’m wrong presumably they will try and force me to buy a ‘full price’ single (i.e. about £300, instead of the £114 return I actually bought).  Ah well, I’ve had this argument before, so I suppose I can have it again if need be.

Anyhow, since the demise of the humble dining car (actually, balls to humble, I always preferred the more ostentatious dining cars) I see train journeys as things to tolerate rather than enjoy.  Mrs. Toad and I used to very much enjoy getting quietly pickled in the dining car as the Northumberland countryside rolled past the window, and somehow a little bag of goodies from Marks & Spencer at the station doesn’t quite make up for its loss.

1. Where, other than where you currently live, do you have the most friends.
2. How old were you when you met your oldest (non-blood relative) friend.
3. Least glamorous place you’ve ever travelled for business.
4. How many cups of grey, watery meeting coffee can you have before your bladder commits suicide?
5. What’s the highest proportion of fun to business you have ever achieved on what is nominally a business trip?

This week’s five songs ar… oh just look at the titles, you don’t need me to tell you I just searched for ‘train’ in my iTunes library and just lazily slapped up any old five from the results do you?

Tom Waits – Train Song 

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Time Flies By (When You’re the Driver of a Train)

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Hem – Betting on Trains

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The Divine Comedy – Europe By Train

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Billy Bragg – Train Train

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Toadcast #91 – The Metalcast


Well the Funkcast was probably about as gentle a ‘tell me about this genre’ podcast as you’re likely to get.  This, on the other hand, is not gentle.  I suppose it was never likely to be – there’s only so gentle an introduction you can give to this kind of music.

Basically, I was becoming increasingly curious about the number of alt-folkies I know who come from heavy metal backgrounds.  Loads of my friends here who I know because we all listen to indie rock or alternative folk or all sorts of things inbetween seem to have been really into metal when they were young.  This doesn’t entirely make sense to me because I see very little connection between the two kinds of music, and for so many people to have made that transition it must be a strong connection.

Then, of course, it turns out that loads of people whose music I listen to – alt-folk, once again – also grew up listening to metal.  The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie and, more locally, Dan from Withered Hand and Neil from Meursault.  So, having been round at the house doing artwork for their single releases I asked the Neil and Chris from Meursault and Matthew who helps out with the label to put together a metal podcast.  It might not be quite as pleasant to cook your bacon sandwiches to on Sunday afternoon, but erm, well I never made any promises with these bloody podcasts anyway – just deal with it, we’ll probably be back to the alt-folk next week.

Toadcast #91 – The Metalcast

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01. Half Man Half Biscuit – Vatican Broadside (0.00)
02. Withered Hand – Takeaway Food (05.03)
03. AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie (13.17)
04. Slayer – Jesus Saves (17.25)
05. Mount Eerie – Wind’s Dark Poem (24.21)
06. Nirvana – School (35.13)
07. Dinosaur Jr. – On the Way (37.50)
08. Lightning Bolt – Ride the Sky (42.59)
09. Richard Cheese – Rape Me (47.47)
10. Children of Bodom – The Trooper (53.50)
11. Meshuggah – Autonomy Lost (57.05)
12. The Mountain Goats – No Children (62.01)
13. Anal Cunt – You’re Old (Fuck You) (73.27)


The Toad! Talking Pish! On the Internet!  Imagine!

I know, it’s a shocking thought, isn’t it – the idea of me spouting tedious garbage on the World Wide Superhighways in the faint expectation that anyone might take the time to listen.  Anyhow, recently I have been involved in two such enterprises, both eminently listenable, but for entirely different reasons.

Firstly, I made my debut appearance on Hype Machine Radio this month, talking about Julian Plenti.  Given that Hype Radio is supposed to be at least loosely related to their charts I think the chances of my making regular appearances on this thing are pretty slim, although I’d love the chance to go on and slag off The XX, who are fucking dismal, but I’m not sure that faux-hipster sneering is quite what they intend to be about so that chance probably won’t come my way.

Anyhow, the episode I am on is September 2009, which is currently at the top of this page, here.  My friend Dev who runs Hype Radio and comments here from time to time was drinking whisky the other night and was not impressed with his tipple.  He emailed me this plea for help:

I am currently sipping a single malt from Islay, the maker is Bowmore (clearly a mass producer posing as a small producer) and it kinda sucks.  Wine is really my thing these days (or, you know, beer, or margarita, or gin & tonic, of course, depending on the occasion) but I have been every so slowly endeavo(u)ring to develop my Scotch palette over the years… and this stuff sucks.  You have any favorites?

My personal favourite is Laphroaig, but I am so new to whisky that I’m in no position to offer advice or suggestions at all, so I thought I might throw this one open to the readers.  And Dev is a nice guy, so don’t offering the poor man cleaning products just for fun.  Suggestions in the comments, please.

And secondly, do you all listen to the Contrast Podcast?  Well if you don’t, you should.  Every week for the last 180-plus weeks Tim has put together a podcast assembled from songs and intros emailed in from music people around the world, all centred on an ever-changing theme.

I chipped in two weeks ago on the topic of darts, not because I know any songs about darts, but because I know one which mentions them somewhat tangentially and also contains the stupendous line ‘Is your child hyperactive, or is he perhaps a twat?’ which is, in its supremely brilliant delivery as much as its rather brutally hilarious content, one of the funniest things I have ever heard in a song anywhere, ever.

Half Man Half Biscuit – Surging Out of Convalescence

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Rye Whisky (I know, I know, he doesn’t want a rye, but I like this song so fuck off.)

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Toadcast #57 – Production Values


After a week spent debating it, how about a podcast embodying the discussions we’ve been having about production values I thought a podcast which sort of pulls all the disagreements and moans and whingeing and so on into one big mp3 of joy would be a good idea.

So we’ve got some Big Production, some demo scratchy stuff and a few bands who have dabbled with both.  I fart on about production values as if I have the faintest idea what I’m talking about, which of course I don’t.

I’m not sure how well it works as a playlist – it might be a bit disjointed – but in general I like it.  I like the debate in general, I like the thought process we’ve all gone through together this week, and in general, by association, I like this podcast.

Toadcast #57 – Production Values

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01. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA (Original Nebraska Sessions Demo Version) (04.31)
02. Radiohead – Everything in its Right Place (11.13)
03. Enfant Bastard – Vessel (20.19)
04. Half Man Half Biscuit – 1966 and All That (22.37)
05. U2 – Red Hill Mining Town (29.56)
06. Snow Patrol – Last Ever Lone Gunman (37.40)
07. The Divine Comedy – Life on Earth (42.10)
08. Yann Tiersen – Geronimo (Black Session w. Neil Hannon) (46.07 )
09. The Wave Pictures – A Long Way Away From Me (53.34)
10. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, 1975) (57.35)


Toadcast #33 – The Popecast


Fear not, this isn’t quite as horribly overbearing as it could have been. The ranting is actually fairly under control, and the self-important pontificating not quite as reckless as it could so easily have been, partly because I wasn’t quite as liberal with the gin as I have been in the past.

The reason it’s called the Popecast is because of this amazing little story about Catholics in the States issuing death threats to a kid who took a communion wafer out of the church with him.  The hilarious PZ Myers then got involved, threatening to show them what real desecration would look like, and the pandemonium reached all new levels of shrillness.

The thing that really got my goat about all this was not so much that Catholics took offence, but more the level of the hysteria and the language of persecution.  It was honestly described as kidnapping and as a hate crime by various loonies, and there was nothing like enough ‘Oh fucking grow up and get the fuck over it’ being said.  People seem to be seeking all sorts of odd legal protections for their crazy superstitions these days, and I am flabberghasted that a particular kind of idea is being so fucking mollycoddled as to be deemed immune from criticism and contempt.  Come on, people, fuck your religious convictions and learn to deal with the fact that most of the planet thinks they’re crazy – and that applies to atheists as well.

Anyhow, I promise this doesn’t take over too much of the podcast, and that the music is given plenty of space to breathe.

Toadcast #33 – The Popecast

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01. Half Man Half Biscuit – Vatican Broadside (00.07)
02. Beck – Profanity Prayers (02.27)
03. Punch & the Apostles – Nouveau Gypsy (10.20)
04. I Said Yes – The Town Crier (15.07)
05. Albert Hammond Jr. – GFC (20.47)
06. Bonnie Prince Billy – So Everyone (23.51)
07. Tom Lehrer – Vatican Rag (33.53)
08. The Savings & Loan – Catholic Boys in the Rain (37.12)
09. Derek Meins – The Gin Song (42.57)
10. Holly Golightly & the Broke-Offs – Devil Do (48.47)
11. Ghostkeeper – Solid Gold (56.02)
12. Forest Fire – Fortune Teller (60.44)
13. Silver Jews – Strange Victory, Strange Defeat (70.22)
14. Sparrow & the Workshop – Magic Tricks (77.55)
15. The Just Joans – Hey Boy, You’re Oh So Sensitive (79.43)
16. Roy Zimmerman – Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual (85.41)
17. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Evening Mass (97.16)

And just for the fun, here are the two silly songs for you to download:
Tom Lehrer – Vatican Rag

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Roy Zimmerman – Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual

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Bad Manners & Half Man Half Biscuit


No, not the novelty ska act, but yes, definitely the consummate indie smart-arses from the Wirral. I’ve been battering through new music a bit much recently, so today there will be no newness at all, just some Billy Bragg (previous post), some stuff from the brilliant HMHB and later tonight some vintage indie from the C86 era that is being talked about so very much at the moment.

So how did Half Man Half Biscuit pop into my head then, and what’s all this bad manners business about? Well a day or so ago I received the following email from a gentleman called Ellis:

more half man half biscuit on project playlist.
hows about some fred titmus.

All of which is rather jolly, but that’s all he wrote. Project Playlist is yet another new music blog aggregator which is, in my opinion at least, still well behind the venerable Hype Machine in terms of usability and function. Mind you, they link directly to posts and I’ve been getting a slowly but steadily increasing trickle of traffic from them recently, so good luck to ’em.

But to come from an aggregator, as opposed to being a reader, and send such a cursory, demanding email without so much as an introduction is, well, just uncouth really don’t you think? Seriously, I know this is teh internetz, but I always think that sort of fundamental lack of basic manners is a little bit sad really – it just seems to lack self-respect as much as anything else.

Anyway, idle chatter aside, I thought why not. I love Half Man Half Biscuit and I haven’t played their stuff on this site for ages. For those who don’t know them, Half Man Half Biscuit were formed around the birth of indie in the early eighties and are still going strong today. They border on being a novelty act at times because barely a song goes by without an outright laugh, and some of the lyrical juxtapositions and genuinely surreal. That said, they write brilliant tunes, so there’s no denying their merit as a proper band and, as Mrs. Toad said on a recent podcast, they really should be employed by a demographics think tank as they have an amazing talent for absolutely nailing the banal vacuity of all sorts of boring, ordinary people and their boring, ordinary lives. Genius, genius, genius!

Half Man Half Biscuit – Fuckin’ ‘ell, It’s Fred Titmus Ellis, you’re welcome.
Half Man Half Biscuit – 1966 & All That One of their all-time classics.
Half Man Half Biscuit – On Passing Lilac Urine “I’m Slim Shady I’m the real Slim Shady, all the other Slim Shadys have gone to play tennis.”
Half Man Half Biscuit – Twydale’s Lament “Gouranga Gouranga! Yes I’ll be happy, when you’ve been arrested for defacing the bridge.”

Buy their albums on Amazon.


Toadcast #21 – The Lurvecast

Toad Valentine

Greetings and Happy Valentine’s day my little Toadlings. Wait, what’s that? You hate Valentine’s Day? Loathe it in fact? Would dearly love to nuke fucking Hallmark and every last shitty little shop peddling their tawdry baubles and meaningless rubbish that serve no purpose other than to defile the pure concept of true love and disrespect the dignity of the un-mated?

Good. Me too. In fact, us too, for the wildly popular (grumble, sulk) Mrs. Toad is back to do the great Valentine’s anti-podcast with me. To bitch and moan, to get side-tracked, to ramble and to poke pointed sticks in the side of the great marketing behemoth that the most shallow and meaningless of public celebrations has become. If you do not like Valentine’s Day very much, then this is the place to be.

Toadcast #21 – The Lurvecast

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01. Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (00.23)
02. The Velvet Underground – Femme Fatale (08.06)
03. The Raveonettes – Little Animal (10.57)
04. R.E.M. – The One I Love (13.57)
05. Half-Man Half-Biscuit – Paintball’s Coming Home (20.54)
06. The Pierces – Boring (25.43)
07. (The Real) Tuesday Weld – Terminally Ambivalent Over You (31.03)
08. Shane MacGowan & the Popes – Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway (34.41)
09. The Wave Pictures – When I Leave You For Somebody Else (38.30)
10. Pulp – Pink Glove (45.33)
11. The Raincoats – Don’t Be Mean (50.15)
12. Rufus Wainright – One Man Guy (59.34)
13. William Shatner – Ideal Woman (66.34)
14. The Sequins – Nobody Dreams About Me (71.45)
15. The Smiths – Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (77.31)
16. The Walkmen – Don’t Forget Me (82.58)


American Politics, Tom Cruise & Superstitious Nonsense


A couple of weeks ago there was a bit of a stir on the teh internetz when some truly comical videos leaked from behind the sealed doors of Scientology. One was of Tom Cruise in a promotional video of some sort, and the other was of his acceptance speech on received an award for valour. Quite how one wins an award for valour when one’s personal achievements basically involve exploiting the insecurities of the gullible for astronomical quantities of cash is a little beyond me, but valour it was.

I have nothing against these videos. They are hilarious, and they show up Scientology for the brilliantly ludicrous nonsense that it is. They also offer an unparalleled opportunity to have a bloody good snigger at one of the most deluded loons since Michael Jackson giving free reign to a brilliantly vainglorious Messiah Complex. In other words, it makes them all look like twats, and it’s great. Is religious belief, something we think to be so profound and important, really such a trivial phenomenon that it can be generated by something this blatantly idiotic in such a short space of time? Splendidly, the answer appears to be ‘yes’.

And then I thought about the American elections, because religion is at the fore like never before. It reflects very, very badly on the American population as a whole that it would actually be impossible for a declared atheist to be elected president of their country. In fact, people have been falling so desperately over themselves to declare the depth of their religious convictions, whatever they might be, that something has managed to slip quite neatly through the net: Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I know this has generated plenty of discussion in the United States, so to say that it has escaped scrutiny is a little false, but it has been the wrong kind of scrutiny. People have questioned him on his beliefs and he has declared them immune to political examination and exempt from debate.

What far too few have pointed out is that they are fucking insane. And this is where Scientology comes in. I doubt anyone would have any issue with mocking Scientologists for the basic silliness of their beliefs. Aliens, volcanoes – I mean it’s just hilariously infantile. So infantile, to be honest, that it borders on being a learning disability. But Mormonism is no more than a slightly older version of something equally foolish: it centres around the self-declared deification of a certain Mr. Joseph Smith almost two-hundred years ago. It’s just as preposterous, but that hundred years or so has been enough to remove it from the sort of entirely justified derision that Scientologists have to put up with, to the sort of beliefs from whose questioning Mitt Romney can declare immunity due to religion. He thinks it is wrong to ask questions such as why his church permits polygamy and only changed its stance that interracial marriages were forbidden by god as recently as 1978. While, presumably, he was a living, practising Mormon.

So how old does a cult have to be before it is sanctified as a religion? Or is it a question of numbers? Ultimately, I reckon that Christianity will have to embrace and legitimise Scientology as a proper faith, rather than a joke. Why? Because they are qualitatively identical. All religions basically rely on a belief in magic – on believing in the occurrence of events which, judging from all the physical evidence we have before us on this planet, are impossible. It is about faith, not evidence, that is the fundamental tenet of the entire concept. The Christians will have to accept Scientology because there is no argument that can refute it that would no apply equally to their own superstitions*. That is why they have to accept the equally silly Mormonism.

Their mutual enemy is reason and evidence, and ultimately that will bring them together. For what are the Abrahamic religions more than an equally magical set of stories that have only achieved their exalted status in our society by dint of age and weight of numbers – they are in no substantive way different from Scientology. I watch Obama furiously professing his Christianity, Romney babbling on about Mormonism and Cruise doing a wonderful impression of Tony Blair’s demon eyes and I honestly can’t can’t see much difference.

Of course, the biggest problem with accepting religion into political discourse is not one based on the atheism, it is based on plurality. A leader has no place making ostentatious public displays of their beliefs not because they should be ashamed of them or that they are wrong, but because they are supposed to represent all of us. Declaring something a religious belief and hence inviolate terminates debate, and debate is democracy. Beliefs have no place in political debate precisely because there are too many of them. Faith can justify anything, no matter how stupid, be it the stoning to death of rape victims for adultery or the existence of alien souls in mystical volcanoes. Reason and premise, argument and evidence are the only bases on which to debate and conduct goverment.

Otherwise we will end up with a fucking Scientologist in charge one of these days – probably bewilderingly soon, actually. Go watch Battlefield fucking Earth and tell those fuckwits in the primaries to fucking well keep their faith to themselves in future.

Bob Dylan – With God on Our Side
Willard Grant Conspiracy – Evening Mass
Half Man Half Biscuit – God Gave Us Life
Crash Test Dummies – God Shuffled His Feet Yes, I actually do like this song, so fuck you.

*Unless of course any documentary evidence comes to light supporting the oft-repeated rumour that Scientology was born of a bet made between founder L. Ron Hubbard and Arthur C. Clarke some fifty years ago. That might change matters, as well as being hilariously funny.


Today, I AM Indie!

Dukla Prague Away Kit

Yes indeed, today I am the archetypal indie-kid.  The late 80s/early 90s student in a retro sports top with a big chunky cardy and trainers.  The only thing that betrays the fact that this is 2007 and not 1991 is the fact that the trainers are Converse, which weren’t all that popular back then, and the fact that I do not have an embarrassing first ever attempt to grow a goatee beard dangling from my chin.

The reason for all this?  Well, we have yet to get our wardrobe sorted out so for the moment I am dressing out of my sports bag, which is where my shitty old t-shirts go to die.  There are exceptions though.  I have a United shirt to play football in, and I also have the one I’m wearing now.  I can almost taste the breathless anticipation, so I’ll put you out of your misery – I am wearing my Dukla Prague away kit, O yes indeed!  I only ever use it for playing football in, so this is the first time it’s ever had a social outing, and I am feeling very much like my seventeen-year-old self all of a sudden.

Bit early for the 90s revival I fear, but who knows.  Inspiral Carpets, The Wonderstuff, Ned’s, Levellers and all the rest of them will one day be welcomed back with open arms, no matter how painful we think they are nowadays.

For those of you who don’t know Half Man Half Biscuit, shame on you.  This song encapsulates so much about a British childhood, such as that experienced by the likes of Adrian Mole for example, that anyone from these shores over the age of thirty will love every last line of it.  And how did I get into Half Man Half Biscuit myself, given my foreign upbringing?  I searched Napster for something by Billy Bragg and I downloaded a mis-labelled copy of 1966 and All That and was captivated.  And for those of you who haven’t read the book on whose title the name of that song is a play, shame on you.  Buy it here, and thank me later.

I’ve gone and posted another fucking Christmas song haven’t I.  Bloody hell.  Honestly, I didn’t mean to, I really am wearing my Dukla Prague away kit.

Half Man Half Biscuit – All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit
Half Man Half Biscuit – 1966 and All That

Buy HMHB albums from Amazon.