Jun 10, 2021

Cover me bad: Flow Coma by 808 State

Cover Me Bad: Flow Coma by 808 State

Dear reader,

This is the blog police. It has come to our attention that there has been suspicious activity on this Blogger account for the past five days, masquerading as a blog series called Cover Me Bad.

The conceit of the series is that the writer and performer Fat Roland thinks he's brilliant at creating cover versions of electronic music tracks. The 'joke', and we use that word loosely, is that he's really bad at it, and each blog post ends in a stream of idiocy.

According to the Weblogs Policing Act 2005, this is really bad blogging. Let's use an example.

Artist: 808 State
Track: Flow Coma
Year: 1988
Reviews: [Mr Roland would then insert a genuine review here, but make it look like nonsense]

He would always print something like that. It is alleged this is a random song choice, picked from his record collection. We have evidence to believe the decision is actually more half-hearted, plucked carelessly from thin air. He clearly is not researching his blog posts.

He would then take elements of the track, in 808 State's the case the dirty acid and the skippy snares, and then imagine how he would mimic the sounds. However, instead of a serious tutorial on Ableton or similar music-making equipment, he usually resorts to bad puns or forced literalism. 

For example, taking the dirty acid and the skippy snares, he would have then talked about getting some actual acid and putting dirt on it, or placing a snare drum in a skip.

This is, at best, lazy writing and, at worst, a crime against blogging. The evidence is written in black and white.

In a recent post, Mr Roland pretended to have a conversation with his own blog, thereby breaking the structure of the Cover Me Bad blog series. This was a particularly heinous crime and we hope he doesn't do this again.

The reader is advised not to have any contact with Fat Roland's blog, otherwise the reader will be charged with accessory to poor interneting.

Yours sincerely,

The Blog Police, 999 Letsbe Crescent (near Letsbe Avenue), Blogford, Bloggington, Greater Bloggery.

Jun 9, 2021

Cover me bad: Eggshell by Autechre

Cover me bad: Eggshell

Nope. Not doing it.

Ah, go on.

I can't keep ruining my blog like this. The previous days' posts have just been embarrassing.

It's what your public want.

No it's not. I've seen the visitor stats. The whole website's tanking. I've lost 20 followers on Twitter.

Just a little one. Go on. Do it.

Absolutely not.

Artist: Autechre
Track: Eggshell
Year: 1993
Reviews: "Muestra el lado más minimalista y bailable del trabajo." 4.5-star Rate Your Music review 

Look, you can insert that text, but I am absolutely not doing one of my parody cover version blog posts.

But it's Autechre. You love Autechre.

Yes, and that's one of their best early tracks. Weirdly euphoric despite being all wibbly and downbeat. That's why I don't want to do a cover version.

Is it because you're not good at doing cover versions?

Shut up. I'm brilliant at cover versions, me. That's why I'm setting up a cover version band-- wait, no. You nearly got me. I am NOT doing this.

How would you make the main tingly keyboard line?

Nope. Not going there.

The smoky IDM chords? Maybe get some smoke?

Stop it. I'm not playing along.

The crunchy percussion? Perhaps get something crunchy, like crisps, autumn leaves or fried chicken.

That's done it. I'm switching you off.

What? You can't switch a blog off. It's not possible.

Yes it is. Stay still. There's a switch here somewhere. Is it round the back?

GET OFF MY BUM.

Do you promise to behave? Stop all this 'Cover me bad' nonsense? It was a vague idea that turned out confusing and bad.

Okay. I'll stop.

Promise?

Pinky promise.

Good.

...

Artist:Aqua
Track: Barbie Girl
Year: 1997 
Reviews: "Garbage!" 1-star Amazon review

AAAAAAARGH! 


Jun 8, 2021

Cover me bad: De-Orbit by Speedy J

Cover Me Bad: De-orbit

Look, can everyone just get off my back?

I've accidentally ruined by blog. For the past three days, I've got caught in a daily loop of (a) pretending that I'm making cover versions of other songs and (b) then posting one of my favourite electronic music tracks and being silly about it.

If I post one more stupid blog post about covering a song then not actually taking it seriously, this blog is finished. You're all hating it: you've made that much clear. Just leave me alone. This has to end.

No more stupid 'Cover me bad' blog posts. 

It. 

Stops. 

Here.

Artist: Speedy J
Track: De-Orbit
Year: 1991
Reviews: "Spine shivering" 4-star Discogs review 

Oh crap.

This is perhaps the only track I love that has, at its centre, a Kool & the Gang sample. It's the breakbeat that persists throughout the track. Sigh. Are we really doing this? Alright then...

To do a cover version of De-Orbit, I'd kidnap Kool & the Gang and make them perform for me under duress. If they don't cooperate, then I'd threaten to withhold their comfort blankets / Gameboys / Pot Noodles / crochet sets / whatever gets them through the day.

There's a squeaky square wave keyboard motif that sounds like a guinea pig having a tantrum during a game of Monopoly. So I'd have a guinea pig. And a game of Monopoly.

Look, I said I would stop doing this. It's demeaning. No-one wants to read this.

There are warm pads adding rich melody in the background that sound like a whale quietly appreciating Water Lilies by the impressionist artist Monet. So I'd use a whale. And I'd get that painting from wherever they keep Monet paintings.

This blog used to matter. It won two awards eleven years ago. That MEANS something, y'know.

As the track fades out, there's some DJ-scratch style detuning going on. The effect is something akin to a malfunctioning laser in a science fiction film. So, er, I'd get Fatboy Slim and detune him. And get a laser. From a film.

Look, I don't know. It's a classic track and nobody should be doing a cover version of it. This whole thing is ridiculous.

Never again. There will definitely not be another stupid 'Cover me bad' blog post tomorrow. Definitely not.

*looks to camera*


Jun 7, 2021

Cover me bad: Chime by Orbital

Cover Me Bad: Chime

I have to make a huge apology. For the last couple of days on this blog, I have pretended to launch a covers band. I then spooled off a load of nonsense about whisks, washing machines and constipated cows. I am sorry to everyone I disappointed.

Please do not read the last two blog posts. They were a waste of valuable internet resources.

Let's take this seriously. I'm going to write a proper cover version, with proper instruments, and people are going to respect me as a musician. Let's choose a random song from my record collection.

Artist: Orbital
Track: Chime
Year: 1989
Reviews: "What a tune!" 5-star Amazon review (I genuinely couldn't find a comedically bad Amazon review)

Bells. We're going to need lots of bells.

Tubular Bells. Cowbells. Church bells. Anything that goes clang.

Kettle bells, which I don't think are real bells, but are the kind of things weightlifters lift up to show people they can lift things off the ground. I want those kind of bells.

Bell's whisky. I need to drink as much Bell's whisky as possible even though I read a booklet once that said blends aren't as good as single malts and I never learnt why but I remembered it so I could sound intelligent when I talked about whisky.

The TV programme Saved By The Bell. Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone even though it was probably one of those urban myths where he got the credit but the telephone was actually invented by Ainsley Harriott or something. 

Ali Campbell from UB40! He's a bell. A camp bell. I'll have him as well. While I'm at it, I'll have David Bellamy, the Scottish band The Bluebells. And Belle and Sebastian. Actually, I'm not that bothered about Belle and Sebastian.

I think that's going to sound lovely. Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “without music, life would be a mistake.” My beautiful cover version of Chime by Orbital, with its infinite cacophony of bells, finally gives Nietzsche's statement true meaning.

Chime has got bells in, right? I can't remember.

Told you I was going to take this seriously.

Jun 6, 2021

Cover me bad: Block Rockin' Beats by the Chemical Brothers

Cover Me Bad: Block Rockin' Beats

Yesterday, I decided to form a cover band. It didn't go well. I've literally had billions of messages accusing me of cruelty to the clergy. So ignore yesterday's blog post. I've decided to try again, properly this time.

I still reckon I could pick any random track in my record collection, and I could perform a brilliant cover version. I am, famously, as talented as Mozart at doing music things, with the added bonus that I can play the kazoo way better than him.

So let's pick a tune and see how we go. I've got my record box in front of me, wedged between my thighs. Eyes closed. Let's choose!

Artist: Chemical Brothers
Track: Block Rockin' Beats
Year: 1997
Reviews: "One, two, three, goodbye!" 1-star Amazon review translated from Spanish

Crikes. This is a tough one. The first thing to note about Block Rockin' Beats is the really tight drum rhythm. They sampled this from a Bernard Purdie drum solo, so I suppose I could sample something as well. Let me just fill my washing machine with coat hangers and put it on fast spin. There we go. A lovely sound.

The next main thing is the screechy sirens bit. Sounds like constipated horses alarmed at a particularly aggressive cow. I haven't got a horse or a cow. Can you buy them off of the internet? Crikes, there's one website that says people drug horses at auctions so they appear calm. Nope, I'm not buying a horse. Let's compromise. Let's find a cow, get it constipated, and wait until it makes a noise. From either end. Sorted.

The final main bit of the song is the voice that goes "Back with another one of those block rockin' beats." Apparently this is a sample of Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D, who narrated Aqua Teen Hunger Force and played a big part in inventing gangsta rap. Simple. All I need to do is become a gangsta rapper, and I've completed my cover version of Block Rockin' Beats,

A Gangsta Rap
by Fat Roland

Roland Fatty Fats is bustin' down your door
So back up otherwise I'll, erm, do a poo on your floor
Gimme the microphone and make sure it's plugged in
Compton and Long Beach, they are places I've never bin
Dibbly bop a-wah-wah-woo
Insert something about g-thangs, although I'm not quite sure what they are
Put a glock on your, um, AK-47
And then put it back again because you don't know where it's been
Inglewooooood!

So there you go. That's my Chemical Brothers cover version done. Got a bit side-tracked there with rapping a different song, but let's not question the artistic process.

Please send complaints to the usual address.

Jun 5, 2021

Cover me bad: Are We Here? by Orbital

Cover me bad: Are We Here?

I've decided to form a cover band.

Ages ago, I found a bunch of tribute band flyers in a pub. Among them were Korn Again. Guns Or Roses. U2-2. Bon Giovi and Slipnowt. The latter being from Yorkshire, I presume.

Tribute bands are the extremists of the cover band world. Committed to one particular act, one particular musical backlist. You can't stray if you're a tribute band. Perhaps a Busted tribute band called Busted Flush could get away with a McFly track or two, but you have to stay within your own chosen discography.

Not so for other cover bands. You know the kind. They play every Tuesday night in the back room of the Duck & Testicles, with the same old playlist. Achy Breaky Heart, Simply The Best, Knocking On Heaven's Door. They'll play anything that gets someone's foot tapping over a warm pint of John Smith's. Instead of going balls deep into a single act's oeuvre, their repertoire is wide and shallow, like a puddle or similar spillage.

You know what? I can do this. Let's dive into my pile of gramophone records and choose a song at random. I bet you ten billion pounds I could do an ace cover version of any song. Okay. I'm flipping through now. Eyes closed. Here we go!

Artist: Orbital
Track: Are We Here?
Year: 1994
Reviews: "Hasn't grabbed me yet." 1-star Amazon review

Oh. Right. I was hoping for My Way or something. We can work with this, don't worry.

The first main element are the questioning vocals. Some bloke waffles on asking questions, as if they're bugging a woman on Twitter. Are we here? Are we unique? What does God say? I'd recreate this by kidnapping a vicar and make them read a sermon under duress.

Then there's the drum and bass-y stuff. Easy. Set up an obstacle course of kitchen implements on the hill near my house. Whisks, toasters, knives, that kind of thing. Anything metallic that will make a clattery noise when hit. Put the vicar on roller skates, and as soon as they starts their sermon, give 'em a good push down the hill.

And finally, the other thing about Are We Here? is that it's long. So once the vicar has rolled to a stop, their battered body embedded with various kitchen gadgets, yank them back uphill with a rope and start all over again. It'll be like Sisyphus with his boulder but, y'know, not that at all.

Like I said, I can do an ace cover version of any song, and I've just totally proved it. You now owe me ten billion pounds.

Who said blogging doesn't pay?

May 31, 2021

This is not an interview

Hello, Fat Roland. Thanks for joining us.

My pleasure. I've always wanted to appear on this talk show.

It's not a talk show. Tell us what you've been up to this month.

I've been busy. I was the venue keyholder for a polling station. I went to the cinema for the first time in ages. I saw Judas And The Black Messiah, which was great. I bought a Playstation 4, long after it was cool to buy one. A chat show, then? Is it a chat show.

Nope. Is it right you had a gig? With a socially distanced audience?

Game show?

Just answer the question.

Yes, I had a wonderful time at Making Waves: Queer Edition, a cabaret night for Pride In Trafford. I did some silly cartoon things that involved gay pop anthems, a comedy strip tease and an unexpected Annie Lennox.

That must have been strange, being in a room with an audience.

Not at all: it was lovely. I'm going to guess reality show. Quiz show? I'm not sure what other kinds of shows have interviews like this.

Did you have to put much work into the performance?

Tonnes. That's why I've not blogged much.

What's a blog?

I'll explain later. There was quite a bit of new material so I spent a lot of time on props and making new music. And just the basic writing, of course, which takes forever. What with me being an artiste and all.

Erm. I suppose. And do you have lots more gigs coming up?

Is this a roast? Like they do in America? I've heard about those.

No, it's not a roast.

Oh. I'll answer the question, then. I don't have much in the pipeline. I'll be doing the Sunday Assembly on June 27th. I'd love to be booked for more stuff, performing and compering, but there aren't that many things going on just yet. Things will get busier as we continue this rocky road out of lockdown.

It's a soap opera.

What?

It's not a a talk show or a game show or a roast. It's a soap opera.

I don't...

This isn't an interview. It's a script for a soap opera.

That doesn't even make any sense. In form or content. It's clearly a question and answer session.

Yes. Like a melodrama. You're the hen pecked husband, I'm the wronged wife looking for revenge.

That sounds terrible. I'd like to go now, please.

Thanks for joining us, Fat Roland. Have you anything you'd like to plug?

Yeah. Your face. WITH MY FIST.

Ha ha ha! Brilliant roast.

What?!

May 7, 2021

Noel Gallagher: mask-avoiding shopper and... Record Store Day Ambassador?!

Record Store Day and Noel Gallagher

Record Store Day is amazing. In an era when record shops should be crumbling to dust, Record Store Day has helped record shops not only retain customers, but turn them into destinations worth cueing for. Like Boxing Day sales, butchers at Christmas, or donkey rides.

So whatever I'm about to say, you need to bear that in mind. Record Store Day is a wonderful thing. Yes, vinyl is so expensive, it would be cheaper to make them out of diamond-encrusted mortgages, but it is still a fantastic project and long may it thrive.

Earlier this week, Record Store Day UK announced Noel Gallagher as their official ambassador. The announcement was accompanied by a video of Noel praising Sifters Records, where I bought my first ever seven-inch singles. And yes, as it says in Shakermaker, I would have been just 16 when Mr Sifter sold me those songs. 

So yeah, I get it. Noel. Record shops. Makes sense.

However, Noel has been a naughty boy during the pandemic. Last year, he took against face coverings, wibbling something about liberties and not being able to catch the virus, and eventually getting challenged in a supermarket for not wearing a mask. "It’s not a law," he said about the, er, law. Why is this such a mantra for so many older men?

I had a moan on Twitter (hey, I'm an older man too) saying that mask avoiding puts all retailers and shoppers at risk, which it does, and this decision to appoint a 'mask denier' should be reversed immediately.

I also wrote an email. For the sake of transparency, and to show off the fact that I know how emails work, here's the text. I got a quick response from Record Store Day, or rather the Entertainment Retailers Association, the organisation that drives RSD. Their reply follows my email below.

Hello Record Store Day pals,

I’m writing to ask you to reconsider appointing Noel Gallagher as ambassador for Record Store Day.

Following a difficult year for high street shops, Record Store Day will play a more important role than ever in restoring activity to indie record stores. Appointing inspiring and characterful ambassadors is a great way to promote publicity for the project.

However, Noel Gallagher is an insensitive choice at best, and an irresponsible choice at worst. He received widespread publicity for his refusal to wear a face covering as a mitigation against Covid-19. “They’re pointless,” he said, railing against the removal of liberties and referring to mask-wearing podcaster Matt Morgan as a “cowardly germophobe”. This is despite clear scientific evidence that, alongside other measures, mask wearing helps to protect ourselves and others from the virus.

Opening up a high street shop presents an instant Covid-19 danger to customer-facing staff. Mask avoiding puts all retailers and shoppers at risk, and choosing Gallagher as the ambassador for RSD legitimises dangerously complacent views and puts at risk those people that will be working and shopping to make Record Store Day a success.

Ethical considerations are part of the DNA of Record Store Day, whether it’s supporting high street shops, promoting War Child or raising donations for the AAPI Community Fund. This appointment undermines the image and ethos of your organisation.

At least you didn’t appoint Ian Brown.

Please, for the sake of RSD fans, customers and retailers, reverse your decision to make Noel Gallagher as Record Store Day ambassador.

That's alright, isn't it? Covered my points, didn't waffle too much, didn't say 'bum' or 'willy'.

Here is the reply from the Record Store Day people.

Hi Roland,

Thanks for contacting us about this.

I appreciate your concerns and have contacted Noel Gallagher’s team about this issue.

As background, the record stores chose Noel Gallagher as their ambassador as he has a long and celebrated history of supporting them and their businesses. He has taken part in RSD many times with special and thoughtful releases that so many of their customers love. What is important for RSD is that he shares their love of vinyl and independent shops, and for that reason RSD do not believe it is appropriate to reconsider his involvement as our ambassador.

However, we have been reassured that Noel won’t be making any other comments about it whilst he is an RSD ambassador. 

We know just how hard every single RSD shop has worked to keep their customers safe throughout last year’s 3 Drop events and Black Friday and are confident this will not impact on any of the official social distancing rules in place.  All our shops enforce mask wearing for all their customers.

Thanks again for your email and for supporting your local record stores.

No doubt written through gritted teeth, but a very cordial response. That's enough for me. They've made their point, and I'm not going to labour mine: it's not as if they're toasting puppies over a burning orphanage. OR ARE THEY? No. No, they're not.

I have some take-aways from this.

1. The record stores chose Noel as their ambassador. This pretty much deflates my argument with one sharp prick. My worry was the message it sends about mask-wearing in record shops, but if the shops ain't bothered, then why am I moaning.

2. Noel has been told to shut up about not wearing face coverings. This is brilliant news, and should ensure he sends the right signals as RSD ambassador. And if he suddenly goes all David Icke, they can fire him from the role, preferably out of a cannon.

3. Noel's love for record shops is far more important to RSD than his skriking about masks. This is another indication, echoed in my last post about plague ravers, that there are many people in the music industry far less vexed by viral risks than me.

That last point rankles the most. As we move into Covid 2.0, learning to live alongside this new element of our lives, mask-avoiders and plague rave DJs will thrive without consequence of their previous statements or actions. That somehow seems wrong.

Record Store Day is amazing. Remember that bit? It's still true. And when next I go to an indie record shop, I'll trust their Covid precautions, if indeed they're still required by then. However if Noel Gallagher walks in, I'm pouncing on him and sellotaping album sleeves on his face. It's for your own good, Noel.

Further Fats: Glastonbury's got 99 bands, and Jay Z should be one of them (2008)

Further Fats: The Battle of Britpop – the dullest beef in the history of beefs (2020)