New Book – Death x3 Stereo x3

Lulu Link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/ben-baker/death-death-death-stereo-stereo-stereo/paperback/product-24190788.html

Kindle / eBook Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VSHVG3W

Alternative Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/108615620X

Hello popfans! I’ve written a new book about the strange world of music and its out now! There’s interesting stories from the industry, reviews, features and more personal pieces about how my life has been affected by pop including my tips on how to be a non-superstar DJ, the time I appeared in a rock video and even my guide to the perfect funeral party! Its basically a musical version of my book from last year “Kill Your Television” and I’m incredibly proud of it.

Click here to download a 50+ page preview of the new book!

There’s articles on:

  • The biggest bands that never made the top ten;
  • Irish pop from a distinctly outside perspective;
  • The early days of Frank Sidebottom;
  • The UK’s top 25 drinking songs;
  • The best of Creation Records;
  • The mysterious majesty of Australian art rock lunatics TISM;
  • Suggs and Judge Dredd – a marriage made in the IsoCubes?;
  • Why Kenickie deserved better;
  • The least greatest Greatest Hits,
  • Bowie, The Beatles and Barry McGuigan!
  • Plus: Terrorvision, Zig and Zag, Foo Fighters, The Levellers, Fountains of Wayne, Smith and Jones, Feeder, Madness and even Welephant. And much more! So much more!

Don’t Lets Chart 117 – BOUNTY!

Ohhhh, how good is this? The “Don’t Lets Chart Summer Roadshow” is on the move again and this week visits definitely DEFINITELY Australia to talk all things Antipodean, but mostly funny place names, weird food and the most surreal episodes of Neighbours. It might be the daftest episode ever but also…the dumbest? We blame the heat….

If you would like to support our Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus extra clips and early access to episodes, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart  and thugs in the scallop industry are powerless to resist!  

Or if you just fancy throwing (the price of) a coffee in our faces: https://ko-fi.com/dontletschart

Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

Don’t Lets Chart 116 – Hedges Capers

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Woah dude, its a new episode of the “Don’t Lets Chart Summer Roadshow” and Ben and Phil are visiting “Mawkins, Indianus” – home to “Stangler Thongs” – which is legally different from anything on Netflix set in the mid 80s and about obsolete Americana. Although saying that, we do have lists on forgotten McDonalds characters, lost TV catchphrases and the ‘grot n gore’ best in VHS sales. Plus: nuggets with cowboy boots, Hillbilly John meets the devil, the real anniversary of the moon landing, delicious beaks, Dr Frankenstein loses his freaks, the tiresomeness of Punky Brewster, green milkshakes, the Demogorgon gets sassed, Tom Berenger‘s best one, talking bins, Grimace goes on “Who Do You Think You Are?”, a heated beast and Snarf’s bumhole. Plus much more! 

If you would like to support our Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus extra clips and early access to episodes, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

Or if you just fancy throwing (the price of) a coffee in our faces: https://ko-fi.com/dontletschart

Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

Fantasy Fuck All League

Despite my strongest desires and sporadic patches of effort, being in a band was never on the cards for me. I was too shy to get up and sing, instruments eluded me and a year of guitar lessons resulted in me knowing the basic chords to “Wonderwall”, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and “High” by Feeder. Not that it meant much good as me and my tutor quickly realised that my tiny sausage fingers were entirely ill-suited to plank spankery no matter how many digit-stretching exercises I tried. Which was one.

The fact came as a blow to me as my friends were also all learning instruments and would probably form a band and get to number one and I’d be stuck working in Our Price spitting on their CDs. “It should be me”, I’d cry!, “I was the one who wanted it most! I was the one who was obsessed with the charts in a way that would probably make a good book in the distant future!” I was so into music that I even devised a variant on fantasy football around choosing the perfect band based on their chart positions in the Kerrang! album chart. I found some of the pages for this recently (With apologies to bassists everywhere who apparently don’t exist…)

The basic rules are set. I think I charged a pound a player and got about 15 teams after pestering my friends enough. I used the Kerrang! album chart because it was a top 40 and it didnt change as quickly as the regular ones meaning more points could be acquired if you knew who had an album around the corner that was likely to do well. (Try to ignore the inexplicable ‘beards’ whimsy that was no doubt hilarious in 1996.)

Quite a decent overview of where rock was in 96/97 with lots of poppier stuff breaking through alongside the old hands. It might seem madness to charge a whole extra pound for Gary from Reef over Allowed Rock Hero Dave Grohl in the modern age but these were the times of “Yer Old”, “The One Off The Minidisc Advert” and “Place Your Hands Yes That Is The Title And Not Ha Ha Some Letters Like You Thought”. Also worth noting that Shannon Hoon had been dead a year by this point but the posthumous recordings were doing well, hence his inclusion.

Featuring the blistering research a Ben Baker product is now known for, you could get dibs on both “Bloke” from Aerosmith and “Flynn’s Mate” from Machine Head, two bands its fair to say I have very little love invested in. And it doesnt get much better for drummers…

All of Kerbdog for £2,50 each? Bargain! Sadly as much as I adored the Northern Irish rock trio, they never really broke through like they bloody deserved to with 1997’s “On The Turn”, still one of my favourite albums of all time. And yes, amazing as it may seem now, Kerrang! did offer a lot of coverage to Kula Shaker in those early days before they properly retreated up their own fundament. Although “Shower Your Love” is still pretty good if I’m honest. Sorry.

Did my love of rock and pop at the time mean I won the ten pound top prize at the end of term? No, apparently my friend Peter did, having invested in Metallica futures and high yield Bush stocks. Looking back I’m amazed I had both the desire and the time to do such a thing but also quite impressed. Now move aside, I’ve got a massive fur lined coat and a cigar to purchase. One of these days we’ll be a million hares!

A sample of this was taken from my next book “Death Death Death Stereo Stereo Stereo” available to buy in August. Check out my other books on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B079KSMVXK

Don’t Lets Chart 115 – The Worst Motown Trio Of All Time

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Framed for a crime they probably did commit, Ben and Phil are making melonade from rocks and dust by turning their six week community service into a summer roadshow just like all those people we’re not allowed to talk about anymore used to do on Radio One in the past!!!! Sadly, a matter of ankle tagging and house arrest means the first edition is coming from the less glamourous locale of Phil’s flat.  What would Smiley Miley say? Nothing you idiots, he’s locked in my basement. 

Plus: Taub. Always Taub.

If you would like to support our Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus extra clips and early access to episodes, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

Or if you just fancy throwing the price of a coffee in our faces: https://ko-fi.com/dontletschart

Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

The Best of Don’t Lets Chart (Volume One)

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The best of the first five episodes, plus a few bonus items for new listeners. 

Featuring: Why George Clooney shouldnt be allowed near your cat (or Meryl Streep), a wartime Bill Badger goes on the tube, wallpaper as a mid-morning snack, why the bullet catch trick is a horrible idea, greasy Furbies, the finest impressions of Yorkshiremen you will ever hear, Jamie Kennedy‘s experimental methods, the pathos of sugar, poisonous pop games, a bath with Kermit, being shot by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, playing with Inspector Gadget‘s arm squirter, the best worst sequels, Dick Dasterdly fails, a mannered respectful discussion on the life of Richard Nixon and, of course, Disney Cup. 

If you would like to support our new Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus early access to others, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

Or if you just fancy throwing the price of a coffee in our faces: https://ko-fi.com/dontletschart

Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

Don’t Lets Chart 114 – Chekhov’s Chicken

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It’s a five-alarm all out listener takeover episode as Ben and Phil hand the whole show over to you for questions, guest charts and comments, alongside special appearances by our friends at Round The Archives and Tim Worthington off of the Guardian. Plus: how we met and our earliest collaborations, eggs by phone, Phil’s best punk, horrible ITV comedy, how to play “Year Of The Cat”, the most appalling action figures, important crisp discussions, the best and worst sitcom movies are ranked, strange pet jokes, the highs and lows of Transformers, our best graphs, the top ten top tens, Eve Myles‘ unusual lunchtime kink and we learn if Phil has ever lost a shoe. Plus much more! And all not live from Glastonbury!

Everything we do is entirely based on your suggestions. So basically what we’re saying is if you don’t like it, it’s your fault. Sorry about that.

If you would like to support our new Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus early access to others, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

Or if you just fancy throwing the price of a coffee in our faces: https://ko-fi.com/dontletschart

Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

Madness In Mega City One

Due to Rebellion’s rather wonderful range of summer specials based on the old Fleetway / IPC back catalogue, I’m rediscovering my love for all things comic, not least 2000AD, a comic it took my younger mind a long time to get into the spirit of, especially when compared to the slightly more sedate sausage-snaffling and smacked slippers antics of DC Thomson characters. Even the slightly more chaotic characters couldn’t prepare me for the sheer amount of ideas going on in an average issue, not to mention some bafflement at the long-running sagas of the likes of Celtic warrior Slaine, batshit good vs. evil to the extremes battler Nemesis The Warlock and future robot soldier action in ABC Warriors.

Judge Dredd was always incredibly simple to understand though. There were bad guys and then there was Dredd. Occasionally you might agree with the reasons behind what the bad guys were doing  – its tough, after all, living in a future dystopian USA (now named Mega City One) where residents are crammed into “blocks” up to 50,000 at a time, all named after ridiculous famous types (real and fictional) – but you knew ultimately that in the end, they were still bad guys and Dredd was…Dredd. No contest. Justice always prevails. And if you knew all this and feel like you’re being told how to suck off your grandma’s eggs (NB: check phrase before publishing) then congratulations, five years into the Iso-Bins, you grud-sucking Bennett Beany wannabe.

Ultimately, whilst more outright comedic strips like Ace Trucking Co and DR & Quinch were my real entry point over into the ‘Greatest Comic in the Galaxy’ through reprints, one of the biggest influences on me becoming interested in 2000AD to begin with was none other than Suggs. No, not Mean Machine‘s beloved Sarah “Seven-Pound Sadie” Suggs but Suggs. Off of Night Fever. And the “Full House” advert (“and puzzles all for 40p!”) Oh and ska pop legends Madness, who were the first band I became absolutely obsessed with thanks to their fun easy-going singles that everyone in my family seemed to adore and were about to make a big comeback with the “Divine Madness” compilation and return of “It Must Be Love” to the top ten.

When reading one of the many articles heralding their return I learnt that Suggs and Chas Smash after the Madness split had done a one-off 2000AD themed single in the mid 80s. This combination threw me entirely – even when I learnt that the band had started its own Virgin Records sub-label “Zarjazz” in 1984 named after a term used in the comic by its fictional editor Tharg The Mighty to describe something excellent. When I saw the characters the pair were meant to be dressed as, I was even more confused…

“Mean Machine” and Fink Angel (the duo on the right of the above foursome) were two of the nasty low-down rotters that made up the Angel Gang, a family of variously mutated criminals that live in the post-apocalyptic Cursed Earth, distinguishable by, in turn, a dial on Mean’s forehead that controls his anger and a green skeletal look from a life spent living in holes away from the family home. So, how did that translate to the ex-Nutty Boy cosplayers? Well…

Personally, I think its surprisingly decent for 1985 (if a tad Wurzel Gummidge in Space) with Suggs quoted as saying “we wanted as much as possible to make it like the comic, not just a record by a couple of out-of-work pop stars” and even seemed to stand up to the stresses of performing. And boy, did they perform! A lot! Popping up on kids programmes all over, such as this truly strange “Saturday Starship” appearance…

As for the song itself, its a fun if not exactly Cursed Earth-shattering bit of electro pop with hip hop beats, brass and lots of catchphrase bellowing just about passing in places for rap. “We wanted to make an electro/hip-hop record like the ones we’d heard in the New York clubs”, Suggs told Smash Hits. Whilst you cant imagine the hippest denizens of NYC grooving down to the Judgin’ jives, its also nothing like their former band and had they made one of the oft-mooted Dredd movies in the 80s, it would’ve fit perfectly over the end credits.

There were other songs based in the big Meg, such as the slightly point-missing “I Am The Law” by The Human League from the massive “Dare” album, “Judge Y’Self” by the Manic Street Preachers (demoed for the movie but unfinished until 2003 due to 2000AD fan Richey‘s still unsolved disappearance) and the popular but dreadful Anthrax who wrote a song absolutely packed with knowledge about the strip but also filled it with lyrics like:

They call him Judge, his last name is Dredd
So break the law, and you may wind up dead
Truth and justice are what he’s fighting for
Judge Dredd the man, he is the law

Sadly “Mutants In Mega City One” was far from a (Chas) Smash, peaking at 50 in the charts on 16th February 1985 and staying in the top 75 for just four weeks. A disappointment after so much publicity – and no more so than in the pages of 2000AD itself which even permitted an exclusive Brian Bolland-painted cover of Dredd as the single artwork – but a noble endeavour entered into with full gusto by two men who clearly genuine fans of the thing they were promoting. As Smash said “For anyone who had any interest in the Marvel comics when they were young, they just didn’t change over the years. Nothing really happens….I think the very real appeal of 2000AD is that it turns everything upside down: heroes may die and things aren’t always as they seem“.

In today’s climate, where comics are mostly bags of toys tied to a licence and pop is Ed Sheeran dueting with Ed Sheeran in honour of the late Ed Sheeran, we could definitely use a little more of that uncertainty, experimentation and – dare I say it? – madness.

For more pop nonsense, try my music trivia collection ” Never Mind The Quizbooks: A Music Quiz Book For People Who Dont Like Music Quiz Books” in paperback here.

Don’t Lets Chart 113 – Crime Alert!

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Or “Congratulations! It’s A Knife!” Put yer hands up and drop the off-brand “Avengerists” action figure! Detectives Ben Baker and Phil Catterall are on the lookout for terrible toys from the past, street messers and sex type people doing naughty kissing and that. Why? Well, it’s summat to do between “Columbo” repeats, innit? 

Also: A Lady, Tim Allen funnies, bloody GoBots, dogs eating spaghetti, hugging a mutant chicken, the trouble with airplane toilets, knock off pogo balls, Hoo-Moon‘s arch enemy, free foundry hand-outs, Morrissey the Consumer Monkey, public speedboats, what makes an “Open All Hours relationship”, Oasis cassingles, the recalled Jo Brand action figure, the lie that 90s were over twenty years ago, Peter Falk sex and a tramp. With apologies to CheapShow for…well, they’ll find out.

If you would like to support our new Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus early access to others, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

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Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.

And listen to CheapShow here:  https://www.thecheapshow.co.uk/ 

Don’t Lets Chart 112 – The Answer Is Quavers

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Sunday, Sunday here again and…wait, we dont upload our new episodes on Sundays, do we? Aaahhhh, but we do. Presenting our mildly irrelevant move to Sundays for the forseeable future. In this week’s episode, Ben Baker and Phil Catterall attempt to provide the complete Lord’s Day experience from morning papers to the late night telly and most importantly of all: gravy. Plus: Bully’s special prize, Creme Egg record breakers, Michael Hordern is The Singing Detective, Gazza’s face, the correct words to the “Crazy Like A Fox” theme tune, we wear our Mushroom with Pride, an unwelcome IKEA food story, the “Days Like These” podcast, “some farts”, Lee and Herring as social enhancement, Aladdin wishes for all the gravy and rubber faced ribaldry as standard. Oh that Sunday sleep! 

If you would like to support our new Patreon from less than a pound a month and get an exclusive, not found anywhere else episode of “Don’t Lets Chart” plus early access to others, click here: https://www.patreon.com/dontletschart

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Visit the new Don’t Lets Chart Twitter feed: @dontletschart or visit us separately @benbakerbooks and @fil5000.