The Beetley Barkers

As you will know from reading my blog, Beetley is a great place for dog owners to live. The nearby Beetley River Meadows and Hoe Rough provide the opportunity for enjoyable dog walks on your doorstep, and as well as those places, there are nearby woodlands, the large recreation field, and Beetley Common, all within a short walk.

In the last couple of years, more and more people with dogs have moved to the area, attracted by the abundance of carefree walks. This has led to a huge increase in the number of dogs locally, with dog ownership in our road alone approaching 50% of all the houses. In addition, this area has been featured on Facebook, attracting dog walkers from as far away as twenty miles. As a dog owner myself, I naturally see the attraction.

However, some of our neighbours seem to believe that their dogs should just roam outside in their gardens, rather than be inside the house with their owners. So, from very early in the morning, until quite late in the evening, many dogs can be heard yapping and barking constantly. They are either barking to ask to be let in, or because they are responding to the barking of other dogs nearby. As a result, we no longer need an alarm clock, in order to be roused from our slumbers. The barking of the dogs is our wake-up call, whether we want it, or not.

On some mornings, this is well before 6 am. It goes something like this.

First dog. Low woof. Repeat.
Second dog. Loud WOOF WOOF WOOF.
First dog. Louder WOOF in reply.
Third (and smaller) dog. YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP.
Fourth dog. Much louder and deeper WOOOOFFF from some distance away.
Fifth dog, somewhere across the road. WOOF woof woof. WOOF WOOF.

This morning cacophony continues until the owners presumably tire of it themselves, and let the dogs back in. Our own dog, Ollie, doesn’t join in. He rarely barks, unless someone comes up the side of the house.

So, we are awake from whatever time these dogs start, with no chance of getting back to sleep, seven days a week. The former peace we enjoyed in Beetley, now shattered by inconsiderate people, with no idea how to control their dogs. Thanks for that.

If you want to get a guaranteed alarm sound that you will never sleep through, try this one.

A few days off

After my recent hectic challenges, and a couple of angry rants, I am taking a few days off, to do some personal stuff over the weekend. So if I don’t get to respond to your emails and comments after Friday, don’t worry.

Back soon! Best wishes to you all. Pete.

Films or Music? : A conclusion

Now I have come to the end of my Musical A-Z, it’s time to give some thought to the process, and to compare it with my recent Film Challenge. Despite not publishing a post every day, I got through the music choices very quickly, with two letters a day on occasion.

The engagement on this challenge was great. I got a lot of feedback about my own choices, as well as a huge number of selections from those who left comments. Some kept it up through the whole alphabet, whilst others popped in and out, depending on the letter.

I was introduced to a fair number of singers and groups that I had never heard of, as well as being able to feature many songs or recording artists previously unknown to some readers. Thanks to You Tube, I rarely had to leave out a choice because I was unable to find a copy of the song. These posts were also faster to write up than the film posts, as much less research was required. As with the film posts, some letters were more popular than others, with a general fall off as the alphabet progressed, followed by a spike in views and comments for those letters with more options.

These challenges are enjoyable to do, as long as you are a fan of the content of course. Courtesy of the Internet, Wikipedia, and fan-based sites, it is easy to find out almost anything about singers or groups, as well as individual songs. I cannot imagine anyone being able to do this offline, without a whole library at their disposal, alongside a vast music or film collection.

So, which was the most popular, Film or Music?

Despite many of those commenting appearing on both challenges, Film was by far the most successful, in terms of readership and overall engagement. Film attracted almost three times as many daily views, and ten times as many new followers. Even during the Musical A-Z comments were still coming in on the Film Challenge, as well as ‘likes’ and follows based on those film posts.

It is far from scientific I confess, but as far as this blog is concerned, Film rules!

Thanks once again to everyone who played along with both challenges. They would never have worked, without your support.

A Musical A-Z: Z

The final letter of this musical journey down the alphabet. It’s been fun, and I have really enjoyed having everyone playing along with their choices and suggestions, as well as revisiting many of the favourite sounds from a lifetime of enjoying music. ‘Z’ has some options, so please do your best to play along in the last of this series. Any song, album, band, or artist, as long as the name begins with ‘Z’.

I will start off with more from the marvellous David Bowie. I really couldn’t leave out this classic song from his brilliant career.
Ziggy Stardust

Not usually my type of thing, but the success of the Irish rock band The Cranberries is undeniable. The lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, has a great tone, and an amazingly powerful voice. As a bonus, she also sings with an Irish accent, instead of an American one. Not only that, they had a big hit with a song that starts with ‘Z’!

Two men with huge beards, and a third who is clean shaven. Fun videos, and guitar rock. Yes, I am talking about ZZ Top, and this is the only song of theirs I ever really liked. Mainly because of the video, to be honest.
Gimme All Your Lovin’

As promised, the original version of the song ‘Valerie’, from The Zutons. I still prefer Mark Ronson and Amy’s cover, but you knew that. This is very good though.

The rest of this post is dedicated to one of my favourite recording artists of all time, and fortunately, one whose surname begins with a ‘Z’. Consider these next songs to be an amalgamated top pick for today, and for those of you who do not like Frank Zappa, look away now. Consummate musician, insanely clever lyricist, and all-round funny man too, I could write a whole series of posts on his work. But I won’t, so don’t worry. To start off, here is the the song about a dental floss bush, and that pygmy pony.

I never thought I would see hear the words ‘rancid poncho’ in a song. But I did, and I loved it.
Camarillo Brillo

I will end on a short one, and a real personal favourite. Now I’m off, to knock all the jockeys off the rich people’s lawns.
Uncle Remus

Thanks again for all your efforts, I will be publishing an appraisal of these alphabet challenges after this.

A Musical A-Z: Y

After the problems with ‘X’, ‘Y’ is a breeze. More a case of what to leave out this time. Please play along. Any song, album, artist, or band. As long as the name begins with ‘Y’.

This is a 1998 song from the American Indie band, New Radicals. As far as I know, it was a definite one hit wonder, but what a hit it was! I loved this song back then, even though I never actually bought the album it came from. I still play it on You Tube, at least once a week. It cheers me up, no end.
And as well as that, it’s a truly great pop song. At least I think so.
You Get What You Give

The Lovin’ Spoonful, with the glorious lead vocals of John Sebastian, were one of the great sounds of the 1960s. Their big hit, ‘Do You Believe In Magic’, is one of my favourite songs of all time. Most of us will also remember that summer anthem, ‘Summer In The City’ too. Fortunately, they have an equally good song that begins with a ‘Y’. Back to that Summer Of Love, on a cloud…
You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice

English singer-songwriter James Morrison had a huge hit with his debut album in 2006, and won a Brit Award for this single from that. He went on to have another huge hit, a duet with Nelly Furtado, and wrote many songs performed by other artists. Still performing and recording now, here’s that award-winning song. Great stuff!
You Give Me Something.

British duo Yazoo consisted of singer Alison Moyet, and musician Vince Clarke. Vince went on to form the successful band Erasure, and Alison has enjoyed a popular solo career. Back in 1982, they released this song, showcasing her powerful voice, and his talent for electronic pop music. It was a big hit, big enough to launch two careers. Alison’s voice is just great!
Only You

I couldn’t let ‘Y’ go by without featuring one of my favourite songs from the American group, The Young Rascals. Despite being released in 1967, this song is as fresh today as it ever was. A real timeless classic. Just lay your head back, and drift away.

Bernard Butler used to be in the British band Suede. He later teamed up with singer Mark McAlmont and recorded this quite wonderful song, in 1995. They had some other hits, but nothing came close to this cleverly-constructed orchestral classic.

I loved this song back in 1994. British singer Des’ree had a short lived career, with only three hits in the UK, and one in the US. But she made some great songs, and they hung around in the charts for months at a time. You might think you have never heard of her. Listen to this, and think again.
You Gotta Be

My top pick today is a song that everybody knows. But this is the original version, by the wonderfully talented woman who wrote it. Now associated with other powerful female solo singers, just forget all of them, and relish the original. From one of the best albums ever released, Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’, in 1971.
You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

‘Y’ is huge So off you go, and enjoy yourselves.

A Musical A-Z: X

The dreaded ‘X’. Perhaps if I lived in Albania, I might have more choices? I did have a top pick from the start though, and it looked like it might be the only entry. I have left you some popular songs, and a film soundtrack, to comment on. If you can think of them.
Please (try to) play along. Any song, artist, album, or band, as long as there is an ‘X’ in there somewhere.

London Indie trio The xx have been around the scene since the release of their debut album in 2009. They have a big following, and have received a lot of critical acclaim. The throaty vocals of female singer Romy Madely Croft stood out for me when I first heard them, and the group’s unusual sound continues to grow on me.

I wouldn’t usually feature British punk band X-Ray Spex, but I wanted to have at least three songs in this letter. The rather abrasive lead singer Poly Styrene was a matter of taste, to be sure, and the harsh Punk sound may have been popular at the time, but perhaps fails to endure. Despite that, it has some historical merit, especially since that same singer died in 2011, aged just 53. I suppose you had to be there, and to be of a certain age.
World turned dayglo

English band XTC were responsible for some clever and catchy songs during their short burst of fame in the late 1970s. They managed to keep going until 2006, but never had any major chart success after the 1980s. This song is my top pick for today. I always liked it. Very English, and very pertinent too.
Making Plans For Nigel

Just scraped through with ‘X’. Glad to see the back of that letter!

A Musical A-Z : W

Getting ever closer to the dreaded ‘X’. That will be a short post! But ‘W’ has lots to offer, so please play along. Any band, song, artist, or album. As long as the name begins with ‘W’. (And in case you were wondering, I am leaving you The Who. 🙂 )

Saved this one for today, right from the start. Another solo British female singer, one who can really belt out a song. Welsh songstress Duffy leapt to fame with her first album release ‘Rockferry’, in 2008. It sold millions of copies, won a Grammy, and three Brit awards. I thought it was one of the best debut albums I had ever heard, showcasing a varied talent from the young woman. Then her second album missed the point completely, and she all but disappeared. She popped up in the Tom Hardy film, ‘Legend’, playing the singer Timi Yuro, but has done little else. Here she is, with a big ballad. I love this song, what a chorus!
Warwick Avenue

Tina Turner had to feature in ‘W’. This legendary soul singer has enjoyed a long and respected career, despite a rocky start at the hands of her husband, Ike. Although some of her biggest hits show an occasional tendency to shouting, I know she has a great voice behind all that. And here’s a good example.
What’s Love Got To Do With It

Spiky-haired British singer Howard Jones was very popular here at one time. Between 1983 and 1986, he had five top ten records, and a number one album. He is still working in music, and last toured in 2016. This was one of his best.
What Is Love

Around the same time as Howard, the much better-looking Nik Kershaw enjoyed chart success too, as well as a big following from the ladies. He had spiky hair as well, but he combed it better. He is still around, and working in music. But he has much less hair. (Don’t we all?) This was a massive hit in the UK.
Wouldn’t It Be Good

I have written about the British band Oasis before. I don’t like them as people, and cannot stand to watch them, or hear them interviewed. But their impact on the UK music scene is the stuff of legend, and Noel really does write some excellent songs, even if he thinks he is the reincarnation of The Beatles. As I like to be honest and truthful, and give credit when it is due, here is a truly wonderful song from that group.

You may not remember Wild Cherry, but I am guessing you will know this song from 1976. Their only hit, by a Rock band that embraced Funk and Disco, just the once. Can’t keep my feet still!
Play That Funky Music

Wilson Phillips has an amazing pedigree. Daughters of Brian Wilson, from The Beach Boys, and daughter of Michelle Phillips, from The Mamas and Papas. These three girls didn’t really have to do much to get attention, but they could really sing. This track has become something of a cliche now, and known by everyone. But listen to it carefully again, and remember just how good it is.
Hold On

That leads me nicely onto my top choice for ‘W’. From the Dad of the Wilson girls, and the rest of the Beach Boys, another example of perfect harmony. From the 1966 album, ‘Pet Sounds’.
Wouldn’t it be nice