Cover Girl

It always makes me smile at how quickly a song becomes ‘uncool’ as soon as I begin to sing or hum it in front of my children or their friends.

I have lost count of how many times my son has asked ”Mum, how do you know this song?” only for me to respond with a chuckle “this song is older than I am” or “I loved this song when I was your age” or something age-revealingly similar.

This then inevitably triggers a discussion around whether a cover version can ever be better than the original. I have a friend who strongly believes that this is not possible despite some really compelling suggestions from me (I discovered my love of a decent cover version a long time ago).

As a child of the late 80’s early 90s, I grew up in an era where cover versions were probably more popular than they had ever been. It was commonplace to hear the most recent commercial pop ‘robot’ churn out a 60s or 70’s classic in order to appeal to the mums and dads and encourage them to add the 7” to their shopping basket in Woolworths on a Saturday afternoon. Think Kylie’s Locomotion or Big Fun’s (Big who?) Blame it on the Boogie, Pat and Mick’s rendition of Gonzalez disco classic ‘I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet’ and let’s not mention (or let’s but very briefly) ‘I only Want to be With You’ by singing sensation Sam Fox (just why??)

Although I’m not denying how popular this Hit Factory was, to me personally, it only served as an insight into the originals. As geeky as it may sound, I loved discovering original and indeed alternative versions of songs, and still do.

There was a 90’s Italian dance act called Blackbox who controversially used unauthorised vocals on their massive number one hit ‘Ride on Time’. Off the back of this and possibly maybe one more single, they released an album which included the song ‘Fantasy’. I somehow stumbled across this and was hooked by the tune and lyrics before finding out (probably by my big sister but I can’t quite remember) that it was actually a cover version of an Earth, Wind & Fire track. This led to what could possibly now be described as an infatuation but definitely a fascination with the band and a long term love affair with Disco.

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In a similar vein, I discovered Jimmy Cliff by the virtue of UB40’s ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ as well as recognising the joy of Diana Ross (and the Supremes) via Phil Collins (You Can’t Hurry Love). I also founded my obsession with hip-hop and Grandmaster Flash whilst listening to Duran Duran attempting ‘White Lines’ (huge Duran Duran fan but even they have their limits!)

Although I would probably describe the above as examples of the original being the clear winner, back to my original point – I do believe there are occasions where the opposite is true.

Take Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’. Don’t get me wrong – they are undoubtedly a talented duo but… The Bangles version in 1987 (I think for a film soundtrack) is edgier, grittier and just simply better (in my humble opinion because let’s face it – this is all simply my opinion).

Anyone who knows me will concur that I am a huge Blondie fan therefore it may be slightly impartial of me to submit their version of ‘The Tide is High’ as another example – but I am because it is!

 

The Beatles hold the record for the most covered songs of all time, with four out of the top ten being theirs (not including Lennon’s ‘Imagine’). Number one is surprisingly Eleanor Rigby although it’s disputed to be Yesterday by some sources. However, my favourite Beatles cover and indeed another demonstration of my crush on female Rock chicks is Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Dear Prudence’.

siouxsie_sioux__the_painted_bird_1_by_darkasterial_vision-d4wb58j

This is a topic that will never go away – it makes for great pub conversation and there’s no right or wrong but I am definitely in the camp that believes that good can always come from bad. For every Tragedy there’s some Night Fever.

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What is Adventure Science? — Adventure Science

Welcome to our first ever post. Adventure Science is a new project for us (although it has been a bit of a brainchild in the making for quite a while, we’ve only recently ‘gone public’!) Our idea here is to simply create an interactive portal where we can share all our experiences together with you, and create a melting pot of ideas surrounding all things science, so that you can then pass it on, and continue the adventure at home or in the classroom.

via What is Adventure Science? — Adventure Science

Happy New Year

The Rise & Fall of…

After taking a long (undeserved) break, I have finally picked up a pen again – yes I do hand write to an extent in advance. I would like to say it helps with sanity checking the grammar and punctuation etc but I fear not.

As the eve of 2017 approaches (it’s currently December 29th), and the post Christmas lull is in its full glory, I find myself, as many others, reflecting on the last 12 months and acquiescing that it’s been an unprecedented year in many ways.

My introduction to 2016 was unorthodox to start – with a live broadcast message from the International Space Station courtesy of Tim Peake. It was a fascinating event and I loved following his mission this year. Way back in January however, little did I know what the following 365 days were going to entail. It’s been a whirlwind of political revelations and bewilderment on a global scale. We have witnessed sporting phenomena and an extraordinary wealth of home-grown talent via Team GB at the Rio Olympics, Wales’ incredible performance at the Euros (yes, I’m still going on about it), not to mention Andy Murray’s home run of achievements this year among just a few.

In other news, however, it’s also been an unprecedented year for mourning the loss of an unrivalled amount of personalities and public figures. I’m not going to dwell on a list that we’re all aware of and saddened by. What I have noticed though is that we’re not creating musical legends like before.

2016-deaths-blog-4-dec-2016

I may be wrong here and it’s well worth a discussion over a pint but in my humble opinion, the most recent generation of musicians are a new breed and don’t appear to have the longevity and personal character traits that we’ve witnessed in the likes of Prince, George Michael or David Bowie.

It may be that it’s too early to tell or it may be that I’m right and circumstances prove that creating legends is a thing of the past. This could be down to the fact that music is so readily available and disposable today, the space is more crowded, consumers become fickle and less invested in an artist which, in turn, means focus is almost exclusively on the music. We’re less about associating artists with a certain look or style and more about just appreciating the sound.

For example, Michael Jackson will always be remembered for the ‘Moonwalk’, the Thriller video and the white glove (among other things). Madonna’s iconic cone bra, Vogue routine and reams of bangles. Prince’s purple obsession, his weird ‘Symbol’ phase and overall deliberate elusiveness, and then of course there was the King of reinvention himself, Ziggy Stardust. I can’t think of any current artist that holds the same kind of standing. The closest I can think of is Lady GaGa but even then, I’m not convinced she’s at ‘icon’ status (no offence to her!).

I may be way off the mark here and I may well be speaking out of turn but I’m simply voicing my view for what it’s worth.

I’m unlikely to lose sleep over the matter but it’s definitely a topic to put on the pub conversation list!

#2016Over

#Happynewyear

What’s Going On

I honestly don’t know where to start here it’s been a busy couple of weeks.

Portugal won the Euros for the first time (well done to them), Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time (massive congratulations to him), the UK have voted to exit the EU, Theresa May has become the new British Prime Minister and in turn has totally overturned the Cabinet, and Pokemon is taking over the world… I wonder whether Marvin Gaye predicted quite such chaos. What a difference a fortnight makes…

MarvinGayeWhat'sGoingOnalbumcover

Despite having my own views on all of the above (not surprising!), I’m genuinely quite exhausted by all the goings on at the moment. In addition, there have been some really truly horrific events recently around the world and there seems to be no rhyme or reason, resolve or solution which I find deeply depressing.

Let’s lighten the mood before I start ranting…it’s summer! The kids have broken up from school and I, in my usual disorganised chaotic world, am ‘winging it’ for six weeks. Begging, borrowing and stealing (not literally) favours and child care opportunities!

I have, however, just spent a fabulous weekend with my family. It’s an annual event to celebrate summer as well as Little Legs’ birthday where my nearest and dearest congregate at my home for a long weekend of eating, drinking, celebrating, and not to forget,  what has now become one of the most prestigious events in our family calendar (almost worthy of a Christmas round-Robin style newsletter… I said almost!) an uber-competitive family game of rounders at our local park. Each year the rules get tighter, the match gets longer and the disagreements get louder but evermore tedious. This year was no disappointment as child no.1 lays out the law of rounders according to an 11 year old. “No back-bats”, “three hit max”, “one-chance rule” as well as the addition of ‘half-rounders’ now being a thing!?

WE EVEN HAVE A TROPHY…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy competition and I absolutely agree with those that endorse a winning attitude to sport (and beyond). However, I also believe that this kind of outlook should be reserved for an environment where those taking part are at least on a relatively equal matching. Not where there is a mish-mash (yes I just referred to my family as a mish-mash!) of ages, abilities, not to mention a very wide spectrum of ‘enthusiasm’ involved. I’m genuinely lobbying for a handicap system to be introduced before next year’s event.

So. needless to say, child no.1, who spent more time establishing and enforcing the rule book than actually enjoying some quality family time ended up NOT WINNING (he came second but according to his own precedent and personal mantra – “There’s only one winner & one trophy”). This, inevitably concluded in a massive sulk, which in turn, resulted in other family members (most notably, younger sibling) prodding the metaphorical bear and making the situation worse. Taid (Welsh for grandad) now took it upon himself to step in and attempt to ‘talk’ to the sulky one with some wise platitudes along the lines of “It’s the taking part that counts” and “attitude is what makes a winner” Zzzzzz….

NOW – I have remained relatively quiet so far. However, I have two strong opinions that I have been desperately trying to push to the back of my head but the more the situation spirals, the harder I find it to keep quiet and there she goes.

Number one – “Son, get a grip, you didn’t win, you came second, it was a fair match, get over yourself and stop sulking. Don’t ruin the rest of the day for yourself or anyone else – you’re not a selfish person and what’s done is done.”      #ItIsWhatItIs

Number two – “Dad, I appreciate your input and the fact that you care and enjoy your grandkids. However, I’m not convinced it’s your place to discipline here. You’re dealing with a situation in a way that I don’t agree with. I would prefer you ignore him, don’t try and reason with him or humour him, I know him better than you do and it’s my job to parent him.”      #AWKWARD

Are you keeping up here?… So far, I have offended my Dad, my Dad has infuriated my son, my daughter is winding everyone up, and my son is just simply P’d off with everyone and everything (including most recently his bike as he gives it a massive kick and hurts his foot in the process but a combination of pride and shame dismisses any  show of emotion). My sister tries to intervene in her usual lovely diplomatic way but is quickly shot down for her efforts and my niece is very VERY wisely keeping out of everything – whether it’s intentional or not is unclear as she has had her head buried in her phone throughout the whole event so could either be a strategic move on her behalf or simply that she’s oblivious to the whole episode (either way, she’s playing by far the most sensible game whether it’s deliberate or not!).

Anyway, to roundup, I have no moral message or lesson here for anyone but it’s always good to have a little rant. I have, however, hopefully gained a little personal perspective on life. Following on from my introduction on how crazy our planet is currently, and although I’m sure there are better ways of resolving the world’s political dissent and the hostility and conflict of some countries than any existing methods, I am also pretty certain that a ‘friendly’ game of rounders isn’t the way forward for world peace!

 

#MotherMother

#What’sGoingOn

#Euro2016

#Brexit

#PokemonGo

#HappyFamilies

 

 

Sophomore

Sophomore

Surprisingly (more so for me than anyone), I’m back for a second instalment.

I genuinely believed my first blog would also be my last one as it was more of a ‘bucket list’ box to tick than anything else. However, the reaction I received was both positive and encouraging so I’ve decided to keep going – be careful what you wish for oh friends of mine!

The most challenging part is determining what I should write about. As I started off with no real plan or direction, it’s now tricky to find a theme. As the title suggests, I’m already suffering from ‘DSAS’ (Difficult Second Album Syndrome).

Do I need a theme? Am I risking sacrificing creativity for contrived consistency? I’m not convinced I have a massive amount of creativity as it is, so I’m making an executive decision to be erratic and unpredictable (anyone who knows me well will see the irony in this predictability). I’ve never really been a fan of convention. In fact I recall my school History teacher during one parent’s evening (in a very transparent effort to be diplomatic), describing me as ‘bohemian’ to my puzzled Mum. Although I’m not convinced it was meant as a compliment, I’ve embraced it ever since.

 

Ok, well having established what I’m NOT going to talk about, I guess I should really decide what I AM going to waffle on about for the next few minutes…

So… you would have to have been living on the moon for the last 6 months to not notice we are on the verge of national referendum here in the UK. It’s definitely been one of the most interesting debates in a long time with more people seemingly taking an interest and having an opinion than a standard political party election.

Although I consider myself relatively well informed, I am by no means an expert in the implications of our nation either opting to stay in or leaving the European Union this week.

Having spent the last few weeks engaging in different levels of pub conversation, detailed discussions with friends, family and colleagues, watching and listening to anyone that’s been offered a media platform, it still remains a bit of a mystery as to whether we would really be better off on our own.  We have ‘political’ experts, financial experts, culture experts, legal experts, representatives from the NHS, the education system, the banks not to mention non-EU global personalities offering their penny’s worth. I’ve never known an issue to cause so much debate and consideration and a nation to be so animated and vocal. Moreover, the split itself is interesting as it’s not the conventional Left Vs Right. Cameron and Corbyn are both advocates of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign (albeit for different reasons) which sets a precedent and throws any party allegiance one may have forged with either leader out the window.

To anyone who has asked where my allegiance lies, my answer has been the same all the way through the campaign and remains so. As with any subject that I’m not 100% certain about all the facts, I look to my peers and influencers. People who I consider experts in the field or simply people I genuinely value their opinions, beliefs and perspectives. In this instance, I’ve listened to a host of musicians, comedians, sports personalities, actors, politicians as well as friends and acquaintances  whose personal or professional lives may be influenced by the decision, and have valid concerns regarding the outcome.

Although I am technically still on the fence, I can honestly say that I am yet to meet or listen to ANYONE who has a coherent and logical argument as to why we should upset the apple cart.

I started this piece by highlighting some of my personality traits as being unpredictable and unconventional. However, on this occasion I think I’m opting to be a creature of habit (how very unorthodox of me!). In my view, Europe’s not broken (I’m not disputing it may be a little cracked and damaged), and doesn’t require fixing just yet.

 

To round up my personal thoughts on the matter – I quite enjoy being part of a bigger nation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Welsh girl first and foremost, but I also live in England, work in England, have English friends and family, speak English and rely on English media for most of my entertainment and information. For this reason among others, I am also a proud Brit. I love the idea of a nation that is culturally varied and fiercely competitive, but remains united when it matters. So, I extend this notion furthermore to Europe. We’re only divided by superficial stuff, underneath the languages, religions and heritages we’re fundamentally all the same and most of us desire and aspire to the same things (sometimes divided in opinion on how best to achieve these things granted). Therefore to me it’s simply a case of safety and strength in numbers, United we stand, divided we fall, and all that jazz…

 

On a final note, whilst on the subject of national pride (of course I’m going to mention it!!) – NICE ONE WALES!!! ALLEZ LES ROUGE!!! #Euro2016Wales #TogetherStronger

 

http://www.strongerin.co.uk

http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org

Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?

SO… this is my first personal blog. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a while but always thought I was a little too dull to be honest… who wants to read about what I get up to and my opinions on life?! (It turns out at least two people, although I suspect they’re only being polite as one is a best friend and one is a voice in my head).

I have two voices in my head as do most of us (don’t you?!). One is the ‘half full’ positive outlook, life’s too short, cliché-ridden one. The other is a darker, more sinister version that thankfully doesn’t speak as much but, when she does I do tend to listen. She’s the one that questions my actions, assures me that things AREN’T always going to be alright, tells me bad things happen to good people but nevertheless keeps me grounded in a strange kind of way. I need both these voices in order to maintain a level of sanity. Half full + Half empty = a pragmatic outlook on life.

So.. who am I? Why keep reading?

Well I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a frustrated musician, a marketing ‘expert’, a Newcastle United fan. I’m also a very keen, albeit unofficial ambassador for: Welsh rugby, honesty, having truly dependable friends, and all things yellow… not necessarily in that order.

This initial piece is going to be a brief biography of me with the intention of tackling other, more interesting subjects once this is an established format if there is indeed an appetite to read on.

Although it’s impossible for me to be objective, I adore my children – they really are quite awesome. I don’t want to make this a blog about a single mum, filled with amazing quotes and anecdotes about her kids. Suffice to say, I love them both and would gladly throw myself in front of a bus for them if needed and they never fail to make me proud and happy.

Moving on… one of my biggest passions in life is music. There are certain mainstream artists and bands that I can listen to and argue their virtues forever and a day, and all my logic goes out the window with regards to listening to anyone else’s opinion (if it’s not the same as mine). Pop royalty such as Madonna, Kylie, Queen, Bowie, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Stones, ELO, Blondie, Abba and Michael Jackson are all part of my DNA.

However, the above is a very common medley for many of my generation. What sets us aside and differentiates us from our friends and peers is the additional combination of  genres, influences and individual characters, lyrics, rifts, memories and experiences,  that have that extra, personal influence on us and that makes the soundtracks to our lives unique. For example, the fact that I grew up with an older sibling meant I have been heavily influenced by the sounds of Tamla Motown and the original 1970’s New York disco vibe. This led to a fascination and an urge to learn all about the post-hippie movement and the political catalysts such as the Stonewall Riots .

Stonewall

I was fortunate enough to be raised by a family that had strong contemporary political views. In an era where privatisation was the fashion and trade unions had never been so evident, I spent many weekends as a child struggling to cling onto massive banner poles whilst parading down various high streets around the country campaigning for nuclear disarmament, women’s rights, gay & lesbian rights, anti-apartheid. I use the term ‘campaigning’ in the very loosest sense – to be perfectly honest, at the tender age of seven I wasn’t really ‘getting it’ and my spectrum of morality was very limited.

My Mum was a very wise lady (sadly she’s no longer with us but I will save that subject for a future blog). I lost count very quickly of the times she insisted on how I would be “grateful when I’m older”. So for all those demonstrations attended along with a plethora of piano lessons, ballet lessons, choir practises and other activities that just seemed to increasingly get in the way of my social life as I grew older (grew older = discovered boys), I now find myself grudingly grateful and annoyingly telling my own kids how they will be ‘grateful when they’re older”. #MumsAlwaysRight!

This has been a bit of an introductory brain dump mostly to satisfy a selfish itch. I hope someone somewhere finds it and appreciates my virgin effort attempt at being interesting in print!

Episode… or is it a chapter? Either way, the next instalment is pending.

Thank you for taking the time.

R