Juke Box Jury – 12/02/18

After a couple of weeks, one of my verdicts has actually come to fruition. That Rudimental thing has reached the heady heights of Number Two in the charts, on the back of an appearance on The One Show last week. Shock! Horror!! I’ve received some feedback on this feature, and as a result, this is the first five track edition, and as a bonus feature, I will go back in time to look at a historical release, because I’m nice like that.

So, first up is a new single from one of those Girls Aloud lot. Yes, I had to google that before typing the sentence! She’s the Irish one, for those who care. ‘Girls On Fire’ is an upbeat number, probably one folks can sing along to, if they’re that way inclined. I am not. It’s not the worst song I’ve ever heard, I will be honest. But it’s not the best either. She’ll probably get some support on the back of her Girls Aloud history, but I’m only saying MAYBE.


Next up, ‘Good Man’ by Ne-Yo. He’s one of those R’n’B types. How did the acronym for Rhythm & Blues get hi-jacked by naff shite like this? It’s like when British Telecom was shortened to BT, and now you can’t call them British Telecom anymore, because that doesn’t support their global image. Ditto BP. Anyway, I digress. ‘Good Man’ is not very good, man. I’m sorry, it isn’t. But this Ne-Yo fella seems to have been quite successful with his brand of boring, so I shall take a punt and call this a HIT.


This is track number three. Last week, this would have been the end. Now it’s the mid-way point. ‘I Catch You’ by Lokki is a piano-led song that caught my attention just because of her name. There is also a lot of string embellishment going on. It’s not too bad. Lyrics are a bit of a puzzle though. But, as much as I find it bearable to listen to, it may not catch on with the masses, so I will go with a MISS.


The fourth single to face the jury (yes, I know, technically not a jury), is from Toni Braxton. ‘Long As I Live’ has fallen into that nasty trap of sounding like anybody. There is absolutely nothing about this song that stands out and makes you think “ah, this is that bird who wanted someone to unbreak her heart!” So, for that reason, I have to say that this is going to be another MISS. The song hasn’t even finished yet, and I’ve finished giving my harsh verdict.


So, on to the final single of the week. ‘The Man’ is by Goat Girl. An intriguing band name, isn’t it? Now, I’m not going to do all that patronising ‘girls with a guitar are quite good’ stuff, because there are a few girl guitar bands I can think of that were good. Kenickie. The Bangles. The Go-Go’s. And you can add Goat Girl to the list. Of all the tracks featured this week, this is by far my favourite. And the nod to the Beatles in the video also means they win me over visually as well as audibly. I want it to be a big, bastard hit, but I fear it will only get a cult following sufficient to make it a MAYBE.


And for this week’ classic tune, ‘Because You’re Mine’ by Mario Lanza. This was at Number Four this time in 1953, and this was the sort of music that was monopolising the embryonic early days of the charts.


Juke Box Jury – 05/02/18

I’m back for more punishment! After none of last week’s tracks made it into the Top 100, let’s hope for some luck with the tracks under the spotlight this week.

First up is a new track from eighties pop stalwarts, Eurasure. ‘Still It’s Not Over’ is not what I would call standard Eurasure, they’ve obviously matured over the intervening years, and I’ll be honest and say it’s bearable. Really. But, unfortunately, in the current market, it’s not chart fodder, and so, I am going to say it’s a MISS. Now, remind me to scour YouTube for old Eurasure videos…


Next in line for my suffering ears, it’s ‘Get It’ a big-name collaboration by the trio of Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland. If you like this sort of thing, then I’ll recommend it. For me, it sounds like something the producer really should have canned and asked them to try harder. Much harder. It’s just repetitive dirge. I actually think it’s complete shite and, by my calculations, will be a HIT!


The final entry in this week’s edition is ‘Wasted’ by Peking Duk. Now, I’ll admit I was drawn by the name – Peking Duk – and the cheeky dropping of the letter ‘C’. It’s just a disco-themed paean to getting drunk and naked with ‘you’. And drunk and naked. And drunk and naked. Ad nauseum. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s tongue in cheek, and intended to be a parody of something. As for having an impact on the charts? Not a fucking hope. MISS.


Which brings this week’s proceedings to an end. It has been suggested that I expand this format, and add some more meat to the bones. Head over to my facebook page here and have your say!!

Juke Box Jury – 29/01/18

After two of last weeks tracks hit the Top 100 (Kylie and the Rudimental thing), I’m back yet again to run my ear over some more potential dross.

First up is an unexpected collaboration between Sting and, well, Shaggy. I know! The mind boggles how these two came together, but ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ is quite a disappointment. Really. Which probably means it could well be a hit, but I will go with a MAYBE.


Next in line for a critical grilling is U2’s ‘Get Out Of Your Own Way (Afrojack Remix)’. I’ll be honest up front here. I don’t get why people love U2. They had a few good songs back in the eighties, but really, since The Joshua Tree, what have they really done? Sweet fuck all. I haven’t listened to the non-remixed version, and quite frankly have no intention to. Now I know the kids love a remix, but this one will fall on deaf ears. MISS. As I type this sentence, the crap is still going on…


Last up is ‘Nightclub’ by The Vaccines. I’ve heard of the Vaccines, but I’ve never heard them, if you know what I mean. If you were to reel off a list of their other songs, I’d look at you blankly and shrug my shoulders. They might be alright, if you like that sort of thing. I’m led to believe that some people do like ‘that sort of thing’, but I have to say this is a bit on the boring side. I’ll hedge my bets and go for a MAYBE.


That’s the end of this week’s jury. I hope you don’t put yourself through the aural hell that I did in the name of musical journalism. And I mean journalism in the loosest sense, of course…


That’s the end of this week’s thoughts

Juke Box Jury – 22/01/18

Not surprisingly, last weeks featured songs did absolutely sod all chart-wise, which actually makes me like them even more! Justin Timberlake is still in there from the week before, and there is another of his tracks in the new release list for this week. That’s the digital age for you, I suppose…

Anyway, on to this weeks featured tracks picked for your delectation. First up it’s good old Kylie Minogue and her song ‘Dancing’. Having listened to it, all I can say is that it could be anyone singing this song. There’s nothing about it that makes you immediately think ‘ah, that’s definitely Kylie.’ Which is a bit sad, but indicative of the way the music biz is nowadays. Will it be a hit? MAYBE.


Next up is ‘In My View’ by Young Fathers. This is a band that came to my attention thanks to the Trainspotting sequel. I’ve not really listened to them, because I didn’t really rate them. After this, nothing’s changed. For me, it’s a huge MISS. And this is after only getting through two minutes of a three and a half minute song.


Last up is one of those multiple collaboration pieces that everyone seems to love these days. ‘These Days’ is by someone called Rudimental, and featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen. Fuck knows who any of them are, or why they would want to team up and produce this drivel. Seriously. Where is the quality control these days?! See what I did there? Absolute dross. Which means that this is probably going to be a HIT.


Tune in next week to see if my ears have stopped bleeding…


Juke Box Jury – 15/01/18

Hello once again! Despite only one of the three tracks from last week making the top 100 – take a bow Mr Timberlake, who entered at number 15 – I’m back again to judge another three songs from the list of singles released this week.

First up is ‘Street Livin’ by the Black Eyed Peas. Methinks Mr I.Am and his mates have been listening to Public Enemy and N.W.A. for inspiration. It’s highly political and probably controversial, and likely to upset a lot of privileged white Americans. So for that reason, it should be a massive hit. But somehow I feel it might not find favour with the mindless drivel we seem to listen to these days, so I’ll go with a MAYBE.


Okay, the next song is ‘Deep Pockets’ from former Supergrass frontman, Gaz Coombes. His distinctive voice layers over a pulsating beat and slightly techno sound and is an absolute joy to behold. It’s a catchy nod-your-head-tap-your-foot tune that should do really well, and I want it to do really well, but I fear in the current climate of throwaway shite that is instantly forgettable, it could well be a MISS. I, however, will be making sure I get this song.


The final song of the week is from another proper group. Remember Franz Ferdinand? The band, not the ill-fated Austrian duke. Well, it seems they’re still going strong-ish, and still sounding the same. ‘Feel The Love Go’ could be ‘Take Me Out’ or ‘The Dark of the Matinee’. I don’t know if it’s just because of Alex Kapranos’ distinctive vocal sound, or the similar guitar sounds, but they really haven’t developed much musically. That’s not to say I don’t like it, on the contrary, I happened to like ‘Take Me Out’, and there is a little bit of something extra with the recording that hints at experimentation. It’s worth a listen if you liked Franz Ferdinand back in the day, but I am going to say it’s one for existing fans of the band and the era only so, with regards to the charts, it’s unfortunately another MISS.


And that’s that. It has truly pained me to give such gloomy chart predictions for three songs I’ve actually enjoyed listening to, but I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually. Who knows, I might be proved wrong…

The Specs ‘n’ Rugs Juke Box Jury

I was trying to find something to do as a new feature for 2018, and then while watching an old ‘Sounds of The Sixties’ show on the Yesterday channel, the idea hit me: I could revive the Juke Box Jury format here on these hallowed pages. And that is exactly what I intend to do. Except, instead of a jury, I will be Judge, Jury and Executioner *insert evil laugh here*. So, armed with the official chart website showing the weeks upcoming single releases, I will pick three tracks and give my honest opinion on them. I will even listen to them, no matter how much they make my ears bleed.

So, kicking off this brave venture, the first track is ‘If You Leave Me Now’ by Charlie Puth featuring Boyz II Men. First of all, I’ll admit I thought it might be a cover of the hit Chicago track, and by jove, I think it actually is! Either that or it was such a goddamned rip off, young Charlie realised that he would never get away with it and gave the original writer, Peter Cetera, a credit. Personally, I think it’s a poor effort. Like re-inventing the wheel, only changing the shape to a parallelogram. But unfortunately these days, they lap up this kind of shit, so I’ll say HIT. Now I’m going off to listen to the original…


Next up, another cover version. This time it’s ‘Vincent’ by James Blake. I know what you’re thinking, how can he possibly fuck this one up? It’s a Don McLean song. Everybody knows how it goes. To be fair, he plays it straight and true. Kudos, young man. Personally, and this will shock you, I could listen to this again. I’m not going to, but you get what I’m trying to say. HIT.


Last up this week, I’m going to go for something that sounds brand new. ‘Filthy’ by Justin trousersnake, sorry Timberlake. People like this guy, right? Now, in the video I’m struggling with those glasses. Is he wearing them ironically? My dad wore those in the eighties. And dancing robots? I got half way through this and already my mind was wandering – what will I have for lunch tomorrow? I’ve got another webinar to do as well. Oh, what was I doing? MAYBE. And that’s only ‘cos he’ll sell it on his name.


There you have it. I have listened to some new music. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to keep doing it every week.

The Dark Side of Christmas

For all the happy Christmases out there, unfortunately, there will be some people who aren’t so lucky. This is a story for those people…

Charlie sat down with Lorna in front of the television. The kids were in bed, and it was grown-up time. The coffee table was littered with empty mince pie cases and the open box of Celebrations was almost empty. He put his arm around her and pulled her in close.

“Have you eaten all those mince pies tonight?”

“Not all of them, no,” Lorna laughed, snuggling up to him. Charlie smelled her coconut-infused shampoo and felt hungry.

“I should hope not,” he murmured.

“What does that mean?” Lorna wondered.

“Well,” Charlie shrugged, playfully poking her midriff. “Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to eat for the sake of it. I’m just saying.”

“Okay, okay,” Lorna shifted slightly. “I’ll go easy.”


Lorna sat up and looked at Charlie.

“Shall I pop upstairs and slip into something a little more comfortable, and even more revealing?” She smiled and winked at him. Charlie looked at her and felt something stirring.

“God, yeah,” he grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Lorna chuckled and gave his groin a gentle grope. He watched her tiptoe sexily up the stairs.

“I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come,” she licked her lips and winked. Charlie nodded and stood up to clear the table of rubbish and crumbs. He took it into the kitchen and stuffed it into the bin. He went upstairs and hovered outside the bedroom window. From inside he heard Lorna shuffling around, so he coughed gently.

“A few more minutes,” came the call. Charlie nodded, and nipped into the bathroom for a wee. After washing his hands and cleaning his teeth, he checked on Dan and Kelly – who were both fast asleep – and as he approached the bedroom door, he heard Lorna’s voice bid him enter. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. Lorna lay on the bed, resplendent in a red basque with suspenders and black sheer stockings. Charlie grinned with a sex-hungry leer. He joined her on the bed and soon they were touching and kissing each other.

Later, as they lay naked in bed, Charlie was watching the football highlights on television. Lorna was snuggled up to him, her head resting on his chest. She raised her head and turned to look at him.

“Is everything alright?”

“Sure, why?” Charlie replied distractedly, his focus still firmly on the football.

“I don’t know,” she hesitated, “I just got the sense you weren’t ‘feeling it’ tonight.”

“Why’s that?” Charlie muttered.

“There wasn’t the same passion as usual,” Lorna pointed out.

“I don’t know what you’re getting at,” Charlie rolled his eyes. But she was right. He hadn’t quite felt the same tonight. He was on the horns of a dilemma. Should he be honest?

“Well, there’s a bit more of you to love these days.” He went for honesty. Brutal honesty.

“Huh?” Lorna looked at him confused.

“Well, you know, there’s a bit more Lorna to get to grips with this year.” He smiled and grabbed hold of her waist. “And as much as that basque is sexy, your little tummy sticking out takes away a little bit of the appeal.”

Lorna looked at him, confused, but now a little hurt.

“I’m sorry, I guess,” she stuttered. “I’ll try and lose some weight.”

Charlie nodded and smiled at her. He patted her shoulder and returned his attention to the football.

Lorna turned away and picked up her mobile phone. She was typing away with her fingers and thumbs and Charlie was distracted by the tapping.

“Can’t you turn off the key sounds? The tap-tap-tapping really gets on my wick.” Charlie snapped. “Who are you texting at this time of night anyway?”

“It’s only Carla,” Lorna told him.

“God,” Charlie rolled his eyes. “She’s such a two-faced cow.”

“What makes you say that?” Lorna wondered, her phone resting absent-mindedly in her palm.

“Well, the other day she was round, and I get the impression she doesn’t like your parenting.”

“Why? Lorna sat up and looked at him. There was a definite change in her demeanour. “What did she say?”

“Well,” Charlie sucked air through his teeth, “when you were giving Kelly that bottle of Coke, she said it wasn’t the sort of drink to give a six-year-old.” He looked at Lorna and tried to ignore her naked chest and concentrate on her face.

“She said that?” Lorna looked crestfallen.

“Yeah,” Charlie nodded. “Not just that. I’m pretty sure she tried to come on to me.”

“Yeah, right,” Lorna scoffed.

“Seriously. She groped my bum more than once in the pub last night.”

Lorna flung the duvet back and got up. She went over to the television and switched it off. She stood there, completely naked, hands on her hips, with a stern look on her face.

“This is not a joke,” she told him firmly.

“I’m not joking,” Charlie said.

“Right,” Lorna walked opened a drawer and pulled out a nightie. She put it on and came back to the bed. She snatched up her mobile phone and went downstairs. Charlie put his arms behind his back and sat back with his eyes closed. Carla was such a bore, and he hoped this would be the end of her.

The next morning was Christmas Eve. Charlie woke to find Lorna already up. He went downstairs and found her in the kitchen making breakfast. There was a plate of pancakes and croissants on the counter-top. Charlie picked up a pancake and popped it into his mouth. He stood behind her and reached his arms round her waist. He mockingly pretended that he couldn’t reach all the way round, resting his chin on her shoulder. Her skin felt wet, so Charlie stood up and turned her round to face him. Her face was blotchy and puffy round the eyes.

“What’s up?” He asked soothingly.

“Carla.” That was all she said.

“What about her?”

“I’m done with her.”

“How come?”

“She basically told me that you were turning me against her, and it was you that tried it on with her the other night.”

“Wow, what a lying bitch,” Charlie sneered. Inside his heart skipped a beat, and his stomach lurched a little. He knew that it was him that had tried to push his hand up her skirt at the bar while Lorna and Carla’s husband Tom sat at the table. He also knew that it was him who had basically told Carla that he was bored with Lorna, and wanted some excitement in his life. But he knew that driving a wedge between the two friends would only work in his favour. Lorna reached into her dressing-gown pocket and took her phone out, holding it out to him.

“Do you want to see what other rubbish she accused you of?”

Charlie looked into her eyes and summoned up all the emotion he could. “No,” he said, his voice strained with the forced emotion. “I don’t need to. I can see what it’s done to you.” He took the phone off her and put it into his own pocket. Before they could continue the conversation, there was a stomping of feet on the stairs and he could hear Dan and Kelly rushing through the lounge into the kitchen. In the hubbub, he snuck into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. He closed the toilet seat and sat down. He took out Lorna’s phone and quietly read through her text messages. Apart from Carla, there were some from her dad – boring father/daughter stuff; a few from her various work colleagues – again, work-related and boring. He then poked around her Facebook and Instagram apps. Checking out who had liked her posts, and then looking up these people. Mostly her friends and family. He then happened to look at her Snapchat. He didn’t even know she used Snapchat. He couldn’t really see much, but he was about to give up when there was an Instagram notification. Someone had liked a picture she had posted of the breakfast plate. He snooped on to the fella’s own profile. By the looks of it, he had been following Lorna for a while. Longer than he’d known her, in fact. It looked harmless enough. This guy was married and had his own family, but something about him made Charlie feel uneasy. With a quick tap, he ‘blocked’ this guy, so he couldn’t follow Lorna any more. He put the phone back in his pocket and returned to the family.

Once breakfast was done, Lorna took the kids out to see her dad, while Charlie stayed at home to wrap some last minute presents. He was busy wrapping when he felt a buzz in his trouser pocket. He reached in and pulled out Lorna’s phone. It was a message from Carla. He opened it up and read the message. It told Lorna that Charlie was bad news and she was better off without him. Charlie calmly deleted the message, and then scrolled through Lorna’s address book for Tom’s number. He then took out his own phone and typed a message to Tom, telling him that Carla had propositioned him more than once. Feeling satisfied, he returned to his wrapping.

Charlie was finishing the washing up, when Lorna’s phone buzzed again. He dried his hands and saw another message from Carla. This one was angry and confrontational. And it was good news. It told Lorna that as long as she was with Charlie, they wouldn’t be friends. With a smile, Charlie deleted the message and put the phone on the side. He returned to the washing up and whistled a happy tune.

It was late when Lorna returned with the kids. Charlie snatched the door open and hustled them inside.

“Where have you been?”

“To my dad’s,” Lorna told him. “You know where I’ve been,”

“All this time?”

“Why? I didn’t know there was a time limit.” Lorna was exasperated.

“There isn’t,” Charlie shrugged. He handed Lorna’s phone to her. “You left this behind.”

She took it from him and smiled.

“By the way, who’s this William fella?”

“William?” Lorna stopped suddenly, one arm still in her coat.

“Yeah. William,” Charlie replied icily calm.

“Just someone on Instagram.”

“Oh, right,” Charlie bobbed his head as if he understood. “So, why is he worried about you?”

“I don’t know,” Lorna hesitated.

“Have you known him long?”

“A while, I suppose.” Lorna shrugged dismissively.

“Longer than you’ve known me?” Charlie asked her.

“Probably, why?”

“No reason,” Charlie lied.

“No, come on,” Lorna pressed. “What’s up?”

“Well, it feels like all the sacrifices I make are for nothing.”

Lorna looked at him with a look of absolute confusion. “What sacrifices?”

“I sold my flat to move in here with you. I changed jobs so I could spend more time with you and less time on the road.”

“I thought you did it for love,” Lorna told him, her coat now fully off and being hung up.

“Love,” Charlie scoffed. “If you think so.”

Lorna looked at him with surprise.

“If you think looking after your children is something I do for love, then you are mistaken.”

Lorna leant against the radiator. She quickly pulled her hand away after realising how hot it was.

“Why are you saying this?”

“Because I’m sick of this relationship being one-way. I’m sick of your lies.”

Lorna pushed past him and went into the kitchen. Charlie followed her and found her opening another box of mince pies.

“I thought you were going to leave the food alone?” He sneered.

“Shut up,” Lorna cried. Her eyes looked up at the ceiling.

“Don’t talk to me like that,” Charlie snapped. He followed her gaze. “The kids are busy, they can’t hear us. Now I want to know about William.”

“There’s nothing to know,” Lorna assured him. Charlie moved closer, and she took a step back.

“Are you sure?” Charlie pressed closer.


“Well then, tell him to go away. He’s been sending you messages.”

Lorna took her phone and looked at it. Charlie stared at her expectantly. He watched as she quietly typed out a message and then put the phone away. He moved closer and put his arm around her.

“You know it makes sense.” Charlie soothed her. “Fancy a Christmas Eve drink?”

Lorna nodded and followed him into the lounge. She sat on the sofa and watched as Charlie poured out two glasses of wine. He handed one to Lorna and raised a glass to toast.

The kids were in bed, and the presents were under the tree. Charlie and Lorna were sat watching a sanitised for TV version of a stand up comedy show, and every now and then, Lorna would check her phone. After three or four instances, Charlie’s patience ran out.

“Who is that?”

“Nobody,” Lorna told him.

“Nobody seems quite persistant.” He reached over and snatched the phone from Lorna’s hand. He read the phone, while pushing Lorna’s arm away. It was William. “I thought you told him to leave you alone?”

“I did, honest,” Lorna assured him.

“Well he’s not getting the message, is he?”

“I can’t help that.”

“Turn your phone off.” Charlie held down the power switch and flung the phone away. Lorna winced as it landed on the hard floor with a crack. She stood up to retrieve it, but Charlie put his hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down. “Leave it.”


“I said, leave it,” Charlie dug his fingers into her shoulder.

“Ow,” Lorna yelped, “you’re hurting me. Stop it, you’re scaring me!”

“I’m scaring you?” Charlie sounded incredulous. “I haven’t even started.”

Lorna pushed his arm away, and hurriedly stood up. She went over to get her phone.

“If you turn that phone on, we’re done,” Charlie threatened her. She fixed him with a stern look and switched her phone on.

“I guess we’re done then.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? On Christmas Eve?”

“I don’t care. Get out.” There was an unusual tone to her voice. It was probably determination. Charlie stood up slowly and walked over to her. He raised his hand as if to strike her and stopped. Lorna was holding her phone screen towards him. She had dialled ‘999’ and her finger was hovering over the ‘call’ button. Charlie laughed and punched the phone out of her hand. He felt a searing pain in his knuckles and pulled his hand back to see lines of blood. The phone had been sent spinning under the dining table. Lorna took a step back, the determination replaced with genuine fear.

“You’re not even worth it,” he sneered. “Look at you, who would want you?”

“Please, get out of my house,” she whispered.

“With pleasure. You call me when you come to your senses.” Charlie calmly picked up his jacket and car keys and opened the front door. “Happy Christmas, you pathetic cow.” He slammed the door shut behind him and drove off.

Charlie spent Christmas with his parents, waiting for Lorna to come to her senses. Three days later, he got the call he was expecting.

“I’m sorry,” Lorna told him. “Please come home.”

“If that’s what you really want,” Charlie agreed, smiling to himself smugly. He hopped in the car and drove back to Lorna’s house.

He arrived to see a strange car on the drive. He went up to the front door and was about to simply open the door when he stopped. He rang the doorbell and waited to be welcomed back with open arms. He saw a shape coming to the front door and prepared himself for a heroes welcome. The door opened and Lorna stood there before him. Her face was pale and blotchy, her hair needed washing. She stood aside to allow him to enter. He bent over to kiss her, but she took another step back. Charlie shrugged.

“No kids?”

“They’re at my dad’s.”

“Some quality time together? Good thinking.”

“Thanks,” Lorna muttered quietly. Charlie noticed her eyes fixed on something behind him. He went to turn but before he could even get ninety degrees, there was a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. He staggered, completing the semi-circle and was met with a strangely familiar male face staring at him with steely determination.

“Who the fuck are you?” Charlie groaned in agony.

“Hello, Charlie,” the face said. “I’m your worst nightmare. Goodbye, Charlie,” it finished, and there was a metallic glint before Charlie felt another sharp pain in his stomach, and then he blacked out.