Dec 3, 2020

THIS is the day that music died (repeat to fade)

Chas and Dave

The day that music died is 3rd February 1959, when Buddy Holly's plane crashed in bad weather, the phrase later being immortalised in Don McLean's American Pie.

That is guff, of course. The day that music actually died was an entirely different day. If you don't believe, look at my totally true and reliable Twitter feed.

Here are some days that music died, as tweeted by me.

22nd September 2009

The day that Chas and Dave split. Dave had found gigging too much, with Chas, who died in 2018, explaining that Dave "has horses and he loves driving them round his grounds and painting gypsy wagons, which he's very good at, so I don't think he'll miss the gigging."

29th October 2011

The day that Jimmy Savile died. Oh dear. In my defence, the allegations against horrendous man didn't appear for a while after his death. Everyone knew he was dodgy, but none of us took him seriously because he seemed truly ridiculous. Crumbs.

31st October 2015

On Halloween 2015, frizzy saxophonist Kenny G announced his intention to play the longest sax note ever while on a flight. He'd previously played an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds, which is a lot of E-flat. Although his record was since broken, there's no evidence of Mr G succeeding in his in-flight blow job, and apparently Guinness World Records aren't bothered about it anymore.

11th September 2018

The day that the terrible Steve Brookstein deleted his terrible Twitter feed. I think his account was restored: I don't know and I can't be bothered to check. A jazz Twitter account took my tweet at face value and invited me to a Brookstein gig in Cobham. I didn't go.

28th September 2018

The day that a Bargain Hunt auction was artificially inflated by Bez's girlfriend sneaking in bids as a ringer. "“My girlfriend thought she was helping out," said Bez, whose plan forced the programme to be reshot. As I've told many a fellow clubber at three in the morning, if you can't trust the Happy Mondays, who can you trust?

11th December 2019

The day Ed Sheeran was announced as artist of the decade by the Official Charts Company. This was based on record sales, which seems a narrow way of judging these things. How much banging techno did he make? How many Fat Roland dance moves did he adopt? How much effusive praise has he left in the comments section of this blog? I shall be writing to the Official Charts Company to complain.

25th June 2020

The 21st anniversary of Vengaboys' Boom Boom Boom Boom!! getting to UK number one. Not the event itself, but the 21st anniversary of the event. No, not even I have figured this one out.

2nd December 2020

My choice of Nathan Fake's Blizzards losing out in Picky B*stard's Albums Of The Year tournament. At the time of writing, its vote share has doubled, but it doesn't look hopeful. This is despite me praising its "rhythms rising from the foundations of the clubs we no longer go to" (read my article here). I think we can all agree that me not doing well in a competition is definitely the day that music died, making it comparable to the loss of legendary musicians in a devastating plane crash. Jeez. That's the worst thing I've written since Savile.

And finally... Never?

D'you know, I'm beginning to think that music's still alive. Check its pulse. If the blood's flowing at the same tempo as Chas and Dave's Rabbit, there's hope for us all.

Further Fats: The day Tyondai 'TyBo' Braxton retreated from Battles (2010)

Further Fats: The day Engeljames Blunterdinck representing us in the European debt crisis (2012)

Further Fats: The day Maroon 5 finally got a UK number one single after eight years of trying (2015)

Nov 30, 2020

Strap in (to the ejector seat): The F1 Losers League is back

Hamilton and Ricciardo

Formula One. It's not why you visit this website. So if you are only interested in my usual topics of electronic music, pop culture, cool dance moves, sick skateboard tricks and how to make a lifesize sculpture of Ronan Keating using only cardboard, sellotape and dozen dead octopuses, then move on.

However, if you are in interested in Formula One, then you might want to enter a fantasy league I am reviving for 2021.

The F1 Losers League is a competition in which you set up the WORST possible Formula One team, and gain points for your team choices doing badly in the real world of F1. The front of the grid may often be predictable, so instead we're celebrating the stragglers and the strugglers further down the field.

It works like this: You pick three drivers and a constructor. You earn points from retirements and rubbish performance. You manipulate those points in the repair shop through gimmicks such as DRS (which in our case stands for "Double Race Score") and Ejector Seats.

It's free to enter. This also means you don't win anything, other than an ability to spot total losers, and a vague worry that it takes one to know one.

If you want to take part, you don't have to do anything just now. However, you could set a reminder by registering your interest in the League.

Okay. Back to the usual content. *draws complicated diagram to show how you can make tentacles look like nipples*

Further Fats: In the next 24 hours, formula one will be changed forever (2012)

Nov 29, 2020

Revealed! This year's total hottest contenders for the Christmas Number one

EMF and the Paul brothers

The battle for the 2020 Christmas number one single is hotting up.

For the last 52 years, the festive chart-topper has been a charity single about cheese and onion pasties, apart from that one time a Facebook campaign put a gif of Eddie Murphy tapping his head at number one. What about this year? 

Right here, on this page, I can exclusively reveal the eight singles that are vying for this year's ultimate festive first place.

Jess Glynne: Lonely This Christmas
The all-conquering Clean Bandit collaborator hopes to tune into the melancholic side of Christmas with this Elvis Presley classic. The song will be played at half-speed with a gentle folk backing, while Glynne will be laying down her vocals in the chinos department of a burned-down BHS. The cover design will be a sad-face emoji with just a hint of a wink.

Liam Gallagher's Low Slung Birds: Standing On The Shoulders Of Santa
This interminable dirge will feel very much like the non-week between Christmas and New Year, with the over-produced guitars engendering a sense of pointlessness in all who listen. The video will feature Michael Smiley from Spaced being a cheeky chappy before falling into a Victorian sewer and being made to eat his bowler hat. Liam will pronounce "Christmas" as "Chris-me-yaaaass".

Russ Abbott: A Potato
This cheery comedy legend racked up millions of YouTube hits from an old quiz show clip of him singing a silly song about a raw potato. To entertain families during lockdown, he revived the song by video-duetting with many famous people such as Bella Emberg, Prince Andrew and Pol Pot. As a result, potatoes sold out on supermarket shelves across the UK and people had to use toilet roll instead.

The Paul Brothers feat. EMF: Let's All Come Together, Bitches
YouTube superstars Jake and Not-Jake Paul will spend the Christmas season spitting into people's faces, pulling down skirts and laughing at funerals. YouTube will validate their behaviour by not poking them in the eye with a stick. The Pauls will put no effort into their Christmas single, which will be written and recorded in its entirety by EMF. The Gloucestershire popsters didn't want to do it, but it's been a while since Unbelievable and they need the money.

Cat Bin Lady: Drop It Like It's Hot
Although vilified first time round, Cat Bin Lady had an unlikely surge in popularity this year when video remixer Mini-Disc Man made a supercut of her binning a cat set to an old Snoop Dogg track. To offset this yuletide's many feline deaths from inevitable copycat pussycat trashcannings, all profits from this single will go to the Wheelie Bin Protection League.

Robbie Williams: Hello?
This comprises seven hours of Robbie Williams stuck inside a chimney going "hello? hello? anyone?" over and over again, before succumbing to a lack of oxygen and, one day, falling as bones into an open grate while an unsuspecting family celebrates Hanukkah. Not his greatest work, but a damn sight better than his video for Rock DJ.

Various artists: Screams from the void
This is not a song. It is the sound you have been hearing in your brain throughout 2020. You've been humming 'Jingle Bells' to yourself to drown out the noise. When Santa arrives he will devour the saucer of mince pies you left out for him with his seventeen tongues, and then his reindeers will start screeching, the terrible cacophony consuming all known energy and light. Also your fairy lights will stop working, revealing your Christmas tree to be little more than a purloined slab of forestry left to rot inside a house.

Kirsty McColl: F*** You, You W****ing B***boy F**** 
Not one for kowtowing to woke culture, McColl's archive recording says what we've all been thinkin— (that's enough - ed)

Further Fats: Live blog – Rage Against The Machine versus a small boy with white teeth (2009)

Further Fats: Fat Roland's Christmas message – just like the Queen's but with more poopy baubles (2019)

We are the music breakers: You Got The Love

You Got The Love record covers

In 1991, Candi Staton's You Got The Love got to number four in the UK charts. You know the track because as soon as it opens with her "sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in air", everyone looks at everyone else and shouts "tuuuune!"

I never realised at the time, but this was probably my first introduction to Frankie Knuckles, the 1991 hit being a bootleg of a Staton acapella set over Knuckles' track Your Love, itself a beefed up mix of the Jamie Principle original.

That's not the reason why I'm writing this blog post. Fast forward to 1997, and a giddy remix of You Got The Love got to number 3 in the charts, surpassing the original. This Now Voyager version, all chunky breaks and happy piano, was a cracker. I was so excited about this new mix that I rushed into town to get a copy on vinyl.

There's something you need to know about me. I am an idiot. I have a spectacular knack at fouling things up. That's not to say that my purchase of this thrilling new remix didn't mostly succeed: the bus into town did not fall off a cliff, the shop assistant in HMV was fully clothed, and the record didn't turn into a pumpkin before I got home.

I turn on my record player. I take the record out of the sleeve. I fumble. The disc catches the corner of the record player. A side of the record shatters, a big triangular shard falling onto the floor. My purchase is ruined before I've played a note.

In those days, of course, it's not as if I could jump onto Spotify or look up the track on YouTube. We didn't have home internet back then. We only had books and newspapers and gruel. We didn't even have Channel 5, if you can imagine such a state of affairs.

I can still picture myself holding the record for a short while in disbelief at the stupid thing I had just done. It was barely a tap. Maybe it would still play? Can I go back into town and get another one? What do I do now? Is the next six minutes of silence somehow a judgement on my ability to mess things up?

And so now, whenever those lyrics begin – "sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, I know I can count on you" – I turn to people and say "tune" but I also think of that simple mistake. I also think of my ability not to take these small things too seriously: I'm at peace with my idiocy.

As Candi herself says:

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then something something something, the sound of a needle scraping
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Buyer beware: this man's an idiot (2010)

Further Fats: A creative meltdown means horrible bowls and don't you forget it (2012)

Nov 17, 2020

Daft Punk not living up to either part of their name

Daft Punk

I love this photograph of mid-1990s Daft Punk.

They look like they're about to record a cool skateboard fails video but their mate with the camcorder hasn't turned up yet.

They look like an N*Sync tribute act just after the other band members quit.

Guy-Manuel looks like he's asking for his ball back, and Thomas is so over with Guy-Manuel always kicking the ball into other people's gardens.

They look like they're filming a Breakfast Club sequel. Or if you squint, they could be a pre-pubescent Jay and Silent Bob.

They look like they've just finished a particularly coordinated graffiti session in which they perfected the logos of Sun Records, Motown and, right at the edge of frame, the Beatles.

They look like, and is final, two unassuming DJs who had just knocked out one of the most revolutionary debut albums in dance music history. I mean, wowsers, I know this is stating the obvious 25 years too late, but how damn good was Homework?

Whatever they look like here, they are neither daft nor punk. And I quite like it.

Shortly after this picture was taken, the pair had their veins replaced with iron tubing in their first transition into all-conquering robots. You can see more pre-helmet Daft Punk pics at Daft Bootlegs, which includes Thomas wearing a Back To The Future t-shirt at Manchester's Bugged Out.

Thomas Bangalter in 1997

Oct 30, 2020

The most Halloweeny music acts ever

Bjork being scary

It's Halloween. 

Since I can't do my usual trick or treating dressed as a bat panda, the most frightening creature known to humankind, I'm going to have to entertain myself with this instead. 

Here are my top thousand million scary music acts (or fewer if I run out of ideas). 

  • Boards of Canadaaargh 
  • Spice Ghouls 
  • Pop Will Trick or Treat Itself
  • Lady Gagaaaargh 
  • Calvin Hair-raise
  • Ghoul Scott Heron
  • Tears for Fears (actual fears)
  • Venetian Scares 
  • Rihanaaargh
  • Cardi (Zom)B
  • Fright Said Fred
  • Bjeeeek! 
  • Matt and Spook Goss
  • Chemical Brothers (broth as in witch's broth) 
  • Adam and the Ants (actual ants)
  • A-haaargh 
  • S-Express (the S stands for Scary) 
  • Lemonster Jelly
  • Ca-boo-ret Voltaire
  • Bananaramaaargh
  • S Club 7 (the S stands for Scarier) 
  • Aaargh-phex Twin
  • Smashing Pumpkins (it's a pumpkin, the kind you use at Halloween) 
  • Enyaaargh
  • The Rolling (grave) Stones (suggested by @AcidGrandads)

I'm getting paid by the word, right? Hello? Anyone there? 


Oct 28, 2020

17 Fat Roland tweets as recommended by Fat Roland

Three Twitter birds

Hey Fat Roland, how do you come up with fresh blog content 16 years after starting your blog?

Thanks for asking, lovely reader. I guess I'm just extremely creative and very clever in the brain department. Also, you can just copy a load of recent tweets, dump them into a blog post and pretend it's brand new content. Result!

17 Fat Roland tweets as recommended by Fat Roland

1. Ageing
A month ago, I turned 47, so I really think it's time I started taking things more seriously. *draws the concept of existential trousers playing Twister with a sausage*

2. Politics
Ben Bradley? Ben BADLY more like!!!!! Yes? That's good, right? Please tip this tweet five pounds.

3. Time
Clogs go back tonight. Also: espadrilles go forward and tennis racket snowshoes go sideways.

4. Warning
Comrades, there's a storm coming. THERE IS A STORM COMING. Sorry, not storm. Snail. There's a snail coming. It's just over there. Look at its cute ikkle face

5. Animal
Fox making a right old racket outside my window. Went outside and read it my writing until it fell into a deep coma. Winner = ME.

6. Song
Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes /
Knees and toes and knees and toes, knees and toes /
Toes and toes and toes toes toes toes toes toes /
Toes toes toes toes toes toes TOESTOES TOESTOESTOES.
(Millipede version.)

7. Covidiot (Ian Brown)
Ian Brown crashes into the ceiling. His phone stays zipped in his Kappa jacket as he bangs into rooves, treetops, seagulls. If only I believed in gravity, says Ian Brown, knocking a helicopter for six. Every collision, an accidental pocket tweet, each more absurd than the last.

8. Planning
I just used "Let's dip our Poe in the water" in a Zoom meeting about a new poetry project. #winning

9. Success
I'm happy to announce that I have received £15 billion in government support just for being a great guy.

10. English
I'm sorry to be a grammar pedant, but the apostrophe goes AFTER the umlaut and BEFORE the white space indicating the cold nothing of eternity.

11. Stance
I'm sorry to say, but I am thoroughly Anti-Vax. I much prefer Henrys and their little smiling face!!1!!!]!

12. More politics
I would be a terrible shame if Trump's head fell off and his willy exploded and his knees turned into ants. Just saying. JUST SAYING.

13. Nature
I've just been for a walk in the park and I'm very sorry to tell you the trees are a mess. The leaves have gone the wrong colour and they're dropping off the branches like old scabs. Sad.

14. Dream
Last night I dreamt I bought some pitta bread then I ate the pitta bread so I bought more pitta bread. Sorry, not pitta bread. Hamsters. I meant hamsters.

15. Internet
Last night I was browsing videos of cats destroying model railway sets and ended up watching the whole of Duel.

16. Covidiot (me)
New Covid restrictions:
- Legs must stay two metres apart
- Do not socialise with own face when looking into mirror
- Brain must not be used after 10pm
- Please ensure your home stays home even when homing from home
- Goves are now illegal

17. Oh dear
Wrong Said Fred. Geddit?! Huh? GEDDIT?!?!? Hello? Hello? Anyone? Sigh.

Oct 20, 2020

Blog-rolling back the years: my 2010 writing awards

It's a full decade since I won the Manchester Blog Awards, the world's most prestigious accolade after the Booker Prize, the Nobel Prize and the Darwin Award.

The story goes like this. I gave up my telly to allow more time on this blog. Better writing, a more frequent posting schedule, a few design bells and whistles. Less than a year later, I won at the blog awards. The resulting networking, fizzed with euphoria, cemented a bunch of new friendships that led me into a life of writing and performance. The win was a big kick up my ego's bum.

I won the category of Best Writing and then jointly-won the overall Best In Show prize (shout out to my co-winner Love Levenshulme). I was an extremely happy puppy. According to this account of my win ten years ago, in my acceptance speeches I apologised to James Blunt and namechecked Venetian Snares.

On the back of that night, I ended up prancing around Manchester's spoken word open mic scene with increasingly ambitious and silly props. This led to three Edinburgh Fringe shows and a crazily fun theatre commission from the Lowry Theatre. I produced two collections of my own short stories, and co-edited a third with a bunch of writing friends. I ended up hosting a leading spoken word night and, ultimately, the wacky world of literature events became my main source of income.

I'll forever be grateful for my blog awards win: I cannot overstate how much confidence it gave me, almost as if I needed that permission to take my creativity seriously. I'm also grateful to Caribou's Sun for being the anthem for my drunken celebrations that night. Listen to the radio edit of Sun below.

Here I am a full ten years later, and life couldn't be more different in a Covid-curtailed 2020. I've spent seven months cancelling literature events and spending an awful amount of time not seeing those friends who'd made the last decade so amazing. No shows, no silliness, no props. Just me sitting in a dark room writing this, my 1,394th blog post, reminiscing about the good old days when men were men, sheep were sheep, and blogs had readers.

I'm not sad, though. The elapsed time means nothing because the feelings are still so immediate in my mind: the announcement shocking me so much it felt like an arrow to the forehead, walking up to the stage in slow motion while trying not to fall over, the awkwardness of the unprepared speech, and that woozy drunken glow for a long time afterwards. And a whole decade of amazing collaborations and friendships. Proper grand.

Sun, sun, sun, sun...

Further Fats: Hammer time for Fatty Bumchops – how to blog properly (2011)

Further Fats: Blogging highlights 2004-2014 (2014)