Sunday, November 09, 2008

Small Pictures

Small Pictures continues to provide internet, mobile and broadcast audiences with cool and interesting projects to delight and entertain in the realms of video, audio and interactive contemporary culture.


The Small Pictures blog is here.

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Come On England: The Roars

Purchase online via Paypal.

Music Style: Various: Indie / Dance / Rock

Over The Moon: The Roars, backed by Eoin Clarke's The Music Community, have produced a half-decent song here, well constructed and professionally produced with a lowest-common-denominator catchy chorus and a very London English-accented vocal. "Now we've got the talents.. and we've got the dream team.. and this time we'll make it all the way-ee-ay-ee-ay" sings either Bob Grant or Jamie Ledwith, we aren't sure which. Neither are we sure whether any of the profits are donated to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, although a prominent badge on the site thanks them.. for supplying homeless animals? Hilarious and extremely tacky low-budget video features semi-naked footballer glamour models playing footie in a park and drinking champagne in a jacuzzi with the lead singer.

Sick As A Parrot: The producers don't seem - like Sven - to be able to make their mind up which system they are playing, so there are three quite different mixes available of the same song, which smacks of indecisiveness and a lack of tactical nouse. They may indeed have the talent and the dream team, but - like England - they barely scrape through and will almost certainly be knocked out as soon as they meet serious opposition.

Terrace Appeal: 5/10

Monday, June 26, 2006

Synching for England: Athletico Spray 06

Available to download now.

Music Style: House / Powerpop

Over The Moon: This year's Eurovision hopeful Daz Sampson may not have tried his luck at a World Cup song but that hasn't stopped his long time collaborator John Matthews having a go with his band Spray – renamed Athletico Spray 06 for the occasion. However, this is no straightforward England Anthem, but an ironic send-up of footie anthems illustrated throughout with lyrics such as "The passion and pride you feel supporting the team, Is quite tricky to evoke with such a strict rhyming scheme, So here's an enigmatic gesture hinting "go all the way", With some power chords that they can use on Match Of The Day".

Sick As A Parrot: In the vein of some of the ironic Eurovision entries this year and musically Synching for England wouldn't sound out of place in Eurovision either. It's an interesting idea but tries to be too clever. There are obvious "cash-in" England Anthems that deserve to be sent up, but there are also some damn fine efforts out there which are genuine, heartfelt and really very good. This is not one of them - it is spectacularly awful on all fronts.

Terrace Appeal: 3/10

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lions Roar: Kamikaze Valentines

Available now to download. 20% of all profits go to The Doves House Hospice.

Musical Style: Classic guitar-led indie rock with a retro feel.

Over The Moon: One glance at recently formed Hull band Kamikaze Valentines will tell you that have the look and the haircuts, but more importantly they have the sound too. Lion's Roar is a great little song that gets lodged in your head within a couple of listens, with definite touches of the Kinks and even Primal Scream at their rockiest. This song would probably be chart-fodder in its own right, but the footie theme is kept running by background chants of "England" throughout.

Sick As A Parrot: Lion's Roar rocks out a little too much for the terraces since there's never enough room to air-guitar comfortably in a full capacity crowd. As an England anthem this one is weak lyrically, conveying enthusiasm and pride more then telling the listener anything about England.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dribbling All Over The World: The Five Lions

Available online to download.

Musical Style: Rock / Pop.

Over The Moon: A pretty decent cover of Status Quo’s legendary Rock anthem “Rocking All Over The World”, this song is both an England Anthem and a marketing tool for creator Duncan Naylor’s own invention the Dribble Mat – a World Cup-themed toilet mat that no self-respecting footie fan can live without. The song resulted from a bet that, for £500, Duncan could write and record a footie song that would play the opposition off the pitch. On a tight budget pulling a zillion pub favours, Duncan and the rest of the Five Lions belted out cover of the Quo’s classic hit with the lyrics very artfully adapted to fit the occasion. The song has apparently already gained overwhelming responses from Hallam FM. Duncan also picks up points for sending in this hilarious joke:

A German family head out one Saturday to do some shopping. While in the sports shop the son picks up an England football shirt and says to his sister, "I've decided to be an England supporter and I would like this for my birthday."

His big sister is outraged by this and promptly whacks him round the head and says, "Go talk to your mother." So off goes the little lad with the white and red football shirt in hand and finds his mother. "Mum?"
"Yes son?" "I've decided I'm going to be an England supporter and I would like this shirt for my birthday". The mother is outraged at this, promptly whacks him around the head twice and says, "Go talk to your father." Off he goes with the football shirt in hand and finds his father. "Dad?" "Yes son?" "I've decided I'm going to be an England supporter and I would like this shirt for my birthday." The father is outraged and promptly whacks his son around the head 4 times and says:
"No son of mine is ever going to be seen in THAT!" About half an hour later they're all back in the car and heading towards home. The father turns to his son and says; "Son, I hope you've learned something today?"

The son says, "Yes dad I have." "Good son, what is it?" The son replies, "I've only been an England supporter for an hour and already I hate you German Bastards!"


Sick As A Parrot: Not at all piss-poor, but the version available online clearly isn’t the finished article, as the song is due to be mastered by the Ministry of Sound. Meanwhile the production on Dribbling All Over The World is the obvious casualty of the shortage of both cash and time, as the muffled result sounds as if it’s being sung and played from under a huge pile of dribble mats.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Monday, June 19, 2006

It’s Time For England: The JK Krew

It's Time For England is available now on the Dance Asia label with profits raised going to The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and Unicef.

Musical Style: Pop / Disco - Reworked modern Bollywood hit.

Over The Moon: The JK Krew have added a completely new dimension to the England Anthem by bringing the sound of Bollywood to the terraces. Dance teacher Jay Kumar decided to write his own World Cup song after finding many of the unofficial anthems sent in national radio stations weren't inspiring enough. A family discussion resulted in Jay and DJ/producer Milind Kadam adapting popular song It's the time to Disco from the Bollywood hit film Kal Ho Naa Ho, to create a rich, triumphant and unique sound for an England Anthem. Bursting at the seams with optimism this lively song would be a great soundtrack to a euphoric post-victory party.

Sick As A Parrot: It's Time For England ventures too far into the realms of high-energy pop / disco to really take off as a classic England Anthem. The lyrics suffer from being too generic.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Friday, June 16, 2006

Handbags: Angry Kid And The Flaming Choppers

Released on Cargo Records - download online.

Musical Style: Comedy Hip-Hop / Electronica.

Over The Moon: Angry Kid, for anyone who doesn't know, is an animated 12 year old brat with attitude created by Darren Walsh at Aardman Animations and is more risqué then more famous characters such as Wallace and Gromit. The backing track to Handbags is laid back and likable but by far the best thing about the song is the witty and ever so slightly naughty lyrics which are packed with clever parodies of Motty-style commentaries and general footie observations. Not really an England Anthem but it stands out as good sound and a refreshingly original song rather then a re-work or cover version also it’s definitely worth a listen if you fancy a bit of a laugh.

Sick As A Parrot: A novelty song rather then an England Anthem and it doesn't lend itself to singing on the terraces.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Name On The Cup: The Trophy Boyz

Name On The Cup: The Trophy Boyz

Available to now to download.

Musical Style: Pop / Indie

Over The Moon: Footie anthems are already well-charted territory for the Trophy Boyz, since they've already had a Top 40 hit last year with a single called Du the Dudek inspired by Liverpool's European Cup success. Name on the Cup is a classy feel-good England Anthem, is perfect for building that pre-match excitement in the same way as Three Lions. Any England fan will relate to the tales of England's highs and lows told in the well-crafted lyrics. A high-standard song that has already been chosen by both Mercury FM and Severn Sound as their official World Cup Anthem. On a grander scale this could really be a winner.

Sick As A Parrot: The only thing holding this one back is that the overall sound, production and profile aren't quite on a par with the quality of the song itself.

Terrace Appeal: 9/10

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Savva Nuvva [The Lions Roar] : English Pride

Available to buy on Eberwon records or to download online.

Musical Style: Pop-Punk

Over The Moon: The pop-punk style seems to work quite well in World Cup songs, and Savva Nuvva (beer, obviously) begins quite low key but launches into a lively, punchy number that lifts the spirits and creates the sort of winning atmosphere that you'd hope to see in any footie-watching pub. English Pride are four lads who love beer and footie and aim to bring inspiration and comfort to the humble English football supporter, and this is exactly the message in lyrics such as "This time England won't choke, and we won't be the joke, victory's oh so near, England are here, savva nuvva beer" This is a good, well-worked out song that does exactly what it says on the tin.

Sick As A Parrot: The vocal delivery and overall production could both do with a "cookeen" lift.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It Was Our Idea, Football Was Our Idea: The Pub Landlord

Available now to download.

Musical Style: Comedy chant backed with Bridge Over The River Kwai-style whistling.

Over The Moon: The title says it all; it really doesn't matter how England do in the World Cup because we invented football in the first place. Al Murray's comic alter ego the Pub Landlord is a stereotypical little Englander in the vein of Alf Garnett, and so the main theme of the song is very much in character, albeit surprisingly restrained towards our fellow competitors. As comedy songs go, this one is actually rather good. The lyrics won't have you crying with laughter but they will make you grin at times with a refreshing take on England's 40 year World Cup 'glitch', maintaining that "all this lot have got a shot but I think it's fair to say if we didn’t let them win now and then they wouldn’t want to play." The track is entertainingly easy on the ears and irresistibly sing-a-long, and the best bit of all is that it you can keep singing it regardless of the outcome because
"Who cares about the final score? It was us that thought it up."

Sick As A Parrot: This one might be a bit too sarcastic and pessimistic for some of the England faithful, and it could be argued that it's more opportunistic than anything to do with a true passion for football; but then again Marco Antonio Rodríguez shouldn't be the only comedian in this World Cup.

Terrace Appeal: 8/10

Monday, June 12, 2006

What’s The Bobby Moore?: What’s the Bobby Moore?

What’s The Bobby Moore? is available online.

Musical Style: A guitar-driven cockernee-style pub singalong with de-tuned chorus and handclaps.

Over The Moon: This year there are so many different England Anthems in so many different musical styles that it's almost comforting when a good old traditional footie anthem such as What’s The Bobby Moore? turns up. Bobby Moore, as all students of Cockney Rhyming Slang know, means SCORE. Once again the creator of this song is something of a publicity-shy enigma, but it’s a fair song, and you can picture the England squad of yesteryear on Top of the Pops, waving their England scarves above their heads, going "tra-la-la-la!" like footballers always do.

Sick As A Parrot: The current England team wouldn’t actually be seen dead waving their scarves above their heads on Top of the Pops, unless they matched their Gucci shirts and shoes or were part of a carefully constructed sponsorship deal. The musical plod and the cockney 'barraboy' vocals make you realise how far things have moved on since the heyday of this kind of Anthem, which wouldn't be out of place in a football remake of Oliver!

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Friday, June 09, 2006

Super England: Super England

Super England was released on 5th June on Gold Mansion Records.

Musical Style: Hybrid Pop. Chant / Lyrical Rap, with Drum machine and Bugle.

Over the Moon: There’s no doubt that the guys behind Super England are passionate about England. Who they are remains a bit of a mystery but their enthusiastic belief in England is oozing out of this song. Their insane eccentricity and self-belief says something very, very true about the nature of English (as opposed to British) patriotism. Without the Scots to berate them, the Irish to beat them at horseracing, and the Welsh to take the piss, like English men the length and breadth of England, "Super England" have assumed a confidence out of all proportion to their actual talent and chances of success. They score points for sheer bravado, if nothing else.

Sick As A Parrot: Super England claim that if you give this song a few listens you’ll love it - but that hasn’t happened yet. The chant is as plodding and repetitive as the drum machine, and the frequent bugle blasts quickly become irritating to the point of shouting "Please! No! Or I'll take it away!"

Terrace Appeal: 3/10

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann: ToneDef Allstars

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann: ToneDef Allstars

Available now on ToneDef records or to download online, 10p from every sale is donated to the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

Musical Style: It’s the Dad's Army theme tune again mostly unchanged except for a little rapping and re-worked lyrics.

Over The Moon: Here’s another World Cup song clash. Both the ToneDef Allstars and The Svenga Boys (reviewed previously) have recognised that there’s plenty of comic potential in adapting the Dad's Army theme for this World Cup. The Svenga Boys had to hastily rework their own version to avoid copyright infringement. The ToneDef Allstars, however, appear to have all their papers in order, undoubtedly helped by the fact that the song has was chosen by Sun readers to become the paper’s official England Anthem and it features a media-friendly assemblage of bona fide English icons: England World Cup legends Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, as well as Bill Pertwee from the original series and Big Frank Bruno - just for the hell of it.

The song, produced by nightclub promoter Ben Gray and his friend Al Siesta, is well written and entertaining, with the clever jokes and lyrics raising a few titters; "didn’t you know Guv, it’s Wayne’s World Cup". A good, familiar sing-a-long song sung by a well-loved group of stars, raising money for an excellent charity which is very close to many an England fan’s heart.

Sick As A Parrot: Sir Geoff, Martin, Bill & Frank are definitely "Allstars", and, from the sound of the vocals, definitely tone deaf. It's obvious charms fade rapidly on the vocalists' utterly unmusical tunelessness from which all the hype cannot rescue the song. Success guaranteed, but this largely due to the warm place the original Bud Flanagan theme occupies in the nation's heart. Will be remembered with a grimace.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

We Are England: Ricky

We Are England is released on 12th June on Beatcrazy. All profits go to the NSPCC.

Musical Style: Indie ballad

Over The Moon: No, it’s not Frank Butcher’s Mensaphobic offspring, Ricky are four bright young things from Portsmouth who have been making well received indie music since 2001 and, as their self-funded debut album demonstrates, they certainly don’t do things by halves. We Are England is a good solid song and this too was a real labour of love for these lads since it involved them touring round England for 9 months recording the chants of around sixty thousand kids for the backing track.

Sick As A Parrot: A perfect England football anthem is upbeat and optimistic, catchy as a cold in an old folk’s home and above all the sort of thing that you can sing your lungs out, letting your team know you’re there with them for every touch of the ball.. but We Are England is far too downbeat, sounding more like the band want to take the England team out for a romantic dinner rather then set the terraces alight.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Route 66: Sidney Hawker & the Hurricanes

Available online.

Musical Style: 60s-style Rock / Pop.

Over The Moon: This is a real little gem of a song that takes its inspiration musically and lyrically from England's magnificent (and soon to be repeated) victory of '66. An endangered species, this song appears to be only available in the deep dark depths of myspace and therefore most likely doomed to be an also-ran. The true identity of Sidney Hawker and the Hurricanes remains something of a mystery, but if their raucous Small Faces-lite England Anthem Route 66 is anything to go by then we can probably believe the lyrics "We are England, we are number one, We all love it, we're just havin fun." And it really is a lot of fun.

Sick As A Parrot: It's not technically that brilliant in a practically-falling-apart-at-the-seams kind of way.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Monday, June 05, 2006

We Are The Champions (Ding a Dang Dong): Crazy Frog

Released on Gusto Records on 5th June.

Musical Style: Queen's anthemic classic is given a typical Crazy Frog Euro House overhaul.

Over The Moon: The Crazy Frog might be an inexplicable phenomenon to many, but there are obviously people who still love it, hence it's continued success. So if you're one of those people, and you're also a big England fan then you might well be happy enough with this release to download it as your latest ringtone. Although the song is a re-working of the classic Queen hit, with the Crazy Frog sound it doesn't lend itself to a football anthem in the traditional sing-a-long sense, but nonetheless this one might prove popular, particularly with kids or idiots.

Sick As A Parrot: Yet another awful release from the VERY annoying thing that should just be put out to grass rather than put on the pitch. It really doesn't matter what song the people behind Crazy Frog release and for what occasion - you already know what it sounds like without ever needing to hear it, and you know that you will hear it regardless of whether you want to or not. Then there's the fact that the Crazy Frog "himself" supposedly records his music in Germany, leaving the nagging feeling that this is either "payback" time for all the German jibes or, more likely, that the release has more to do with a corporate World domination campaign than England's World Cup campaign. If you hear this ringing on somebody's mobile phone, the kind, compassionate, sane thing to do would be fling it into the nearest pond.

Terrace Appeal: 2/10

We’re England (Tom Hark): TalkSPORT Allstars

Released on Monday 5th June on BMG.

Musical Style: Ska. Reworking of the Piranhas’ classic Tom Hark.

Over The Moon: As England Anthems go this one is already has a winning formula. Firstly, it’s a reworking of the Piranhas’ classic 80s hit, which, you may remember, was an irrepressibly upbeat song adapted from an old Ska tune originally recorded in 1953 by the curiously named Elias And His Zig Zag Jive Flutes. Secondly, the tune already has history as a terrace chant, having been adopted and adapted by fans from numerous clubs since forever. Thirdly, the TalkSPORT presenters have already appeared on one of the biggest selling England songs of all time; 4-4-2’s Come on England which entered the charts at No. 2 in 2004. We’re England features the dulcet tones of a host of TalkSPORT luminaries such as Rodney Marsh, Micky Quinn and James Whale, and the re-worked lyrics are as good, if not better, then the original ones.

Sick As A Parrot: The calibre of the vocalists - James Whale does his best not to completely massacre this ace tune... but he's James Whale, so he is at a disadvantage to begin with. Clever this - perhaps just a tad too clever...

Terrace Appeal: 8/10

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Highest High: Adam Bostock

The Highest High is available to buy from www.matchboxrecordings.co.uk

Musical Style: Indie / Britpop style guitar anthem with nice Hammond organ.

Over The Moon: The Highest High, as its name suggests, is lyrically an exceptionally optimistic England Anthem, which has been described as "bouncy, sing-a-long and melodic" and "compared to Robbie Williams singing a Lightening Seeds song backed by The Doors". Out of those comparisons only the Lightning Seeds likeness really rings trues; nonetheless it’s certainly a likeable track that manages to get under your skin. The song was written by musician and producer David Oliver although he graciously sidesteps the title credits in favour of singer Adam Bostock from Bristol Indie rockers Saturdays and Sundays.

Sick As A Parrot: The music and the vocal delivery don’t quite live up to the optimistic lift of the lyrics.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

England Are Jolly Dee: Neil and Christine Hamilton

Available now to download at www.audioville.co.uk.

Musical Style: Pop with a Rock edge. Heavy on the guitars.

Over The Moon: A couple of months ago if you’d put a bet on as to the least likely England Anthem release, you may have got pretty good odds on Neil and Christine Hamilton; then again maybe not since the publicity-hungry couple have already demonstrated time and time again that they’ll do just about anything to stretch their allotted 15 minutes of fame into an hour. To be fair to them, the Hamiltons are more than prepared to have a laugh at their own expense and this is evident from the lyrics which read like the (Posh) Dummies Guide to Football. Musically England Are Jolly Dee is better then might be expected and even a little catchy in a Eurovision kind of way and is already getting a fair bit of airplay.

Sick As A Parrot: Even with their tongues firmly in their cheeks the Hamiltons still manage to live up to their political past by putting their feet firmly in their mouths; for an example you need look no further than the first verse: "There is a team who we call England, 'Cause they're all from this pleasant land, They all play a game called Football, You have to kick not use your hand, It's watched by people on their tellies, With nylon shirts and big beer bellies." The vocal talents of Neil and Christine are unsurprisingly awful.

Terrace Appeal: 4/10

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

England, My England: Dead Poets Society

England, My England is released on 5th July by Scott More Records.

Musical Style: Rock / Pop chant with a snippet of "Jerusalem" as the intro and frequent rousing bugles.

Over The Moon: The first thing you’d probably notice about the Dead Poet’s Society is that the bass player is none other than ex Radio 1 DJ Mike Read. The group apparently makes a habit of setting the words of dead poets to music, and that is exactly what they have done with England, My England. The original verse entitled Pro Rege Nostro was written by the 19th century by poet, critic and editor, William Ernest Henley, and became popular during the First World War for inspiring patriotism. This then is precisely the reasoning behind the band releasing the song as an England Anthem.

Sick As A Parrot: This song is getting a fair bit of media attention but it really fails to hit the mark. Vocalist Elliott Frisby has an undoubtedly beautiful voice, but his angelic tones and the formal Victorian lyrics make this sound more like something you’d hear sung by a Christian rock band on Songs of Praise than a football anthem.

Terrace Appeal: 3/10

Dare to Dream: Chant England

Dare To Dream is available now to download from chantengland.com

Musical Style: A bit of everything prog vocals, synth pop, drum & bass.

Over The Moon: Dare To Dream is a very refreshing take on an England Anthem, as Chant England’s influences are spread far and wide, reflecting the diversity of both England players and supporters rather than sticking to the tried and tested formula of the football chant. The track was written by musician & producer Davey Pollitt, who is a member of soul/funk outfit Metis and has worked with Imogen Heap, Sophie Ellis Bextor & Seal. Chant England are no strangers to the England song having released garage/raga anthem "Gonna Be Goals" for Euro 2004.

Sick As A Parrot: As England songs go, this is too laid back and melodic to be the type of song that’ll have the crowds up on their feet and singing in unison. Better suited as incidental music on Match of the Day.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Pride Of A Nation: HJ21

Pride Of A Nation is available to download now at www.prideofanation.co.uk. 50p from each download is donated to the Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign.

Musical Style: Anthemic Rock / Power Pop.

Over The Moon: Pride Of A Nation is the brainchild of HJ21’s vocalist and songwriter Matt Fielder who was deeply impressed by the courage of the cancer patients he came into contact with through regular guest appearances on Radio Marsden. Matt wanted to do something positive for the hospital and its patients, and being a keen football fan, decided to record an England song with his band in aid of the Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign. This standard Rock track has competent lyrics that give a firm message of support for England and were inspired by a young patient who reminded Matt what it was like to be a 9 year old dreaming of England glory and the ultimate disappointment realized when the team failed to qualify for the ’74 World Cup. Has been adopted by the England Supporters Club so it's in with a chance of terrace exposure.

Sick As A Parrot: The vocals occasionally get a bit lost in the production.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hi Ho Come On England: John Leyton & The Orients

Hi Ho Come On England is available now on Crash Records.

Musical Style: A rewrite of the classic hit Hi Ho Silver Lining with a sing-along Ska chorus.

Over The Moon: There are some very unlikely collaborations amongst this years crop of England Anthems and this one is no exception. Hi Ho Silver Lining, the song originally written by Clauss Ogermann and made famous by Jeff Beck, has been reworked here by TV sports presenter Andy Gilson and Bad Manners saxophonist Chris Kane, and sung by 60s icon John Leyton. However, there does at least seem to be some method in the madness since Bad Manners had already covered the original tune on their 2001 album Ska Party and the chorus works very well with a sunny Ska sax setting the pace. The new lyrics, delivered by actor and singer Leyton, best known for his Number 1 hit "Johnny Remember Me", are reasonably well worked into the tune and take the form of a cheerful call to arms to England fans to "Keep the flag of England flying".

Sick As A Parrot: This one is a bit lack-lustre; John Leyton’s vocals somehow fail to inspire excitement or passion.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hansen’s Eyebrows: The Turnstiles feat. MC Jabber

Hansen’s Eyebrows is currently available for download and helps support the Marina Dalglish Appeal.

Musical Style: A military march / Bavarian-style folk tune backed with a pub crowd, a brass band and a rapper.

Over The Moon: An England Anthem with a difference, since it’s written in tribute to everyone’s favourite dour pundit’s eyebrows. Barrie Barlow (that’s Barriemore Barlow, one time drummer with prog legends Jethro Tull, not Gary, the big lad from Take That), who penned the lyrics explains "I'm a big fan of Alan's and the song is very endearing. I got the idea after watching Match of the Day - I couldn't believe the places his eyebrows go!" The lyrics do raise an effortless smile, particularly the first verse and chorus: "Sir Ramsey was the kid, Sir Bobby nearly did. We've had the Turnip, now we've got the Swede. Well we all got different teams, football hopes and Dreams, But there's one thing we're all agreed....Hansen's eyebrows they go up and down, they go Uuuuup, they go Down....Hansen's eyebrows they go up and down, they go Uuuuup, they go Down Down Down." Barrie’s observations have struck a chord since the song has already been voted best World Cup song and funniest lyrics in a BBC poll. Topped off with a fine rap from from MC Jabber, this is definitely a one of the quirkiest and most original songs to be penned for this year's World Cup, and could go all the way.

Sick As A Parrot: Melody could be a tad stronger; the bass drum is annoyingly repetitive.

Terrace Appeal: 9/10

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One Dream: Bez feat. Monica Ward and Domino Bones

Released through Dream On Records and www.moyst.com on 19th June 2006

Musical Style: Jangly guitar Indie anthem.

Over The Moon: Former Happy Monday and Celebrity Big Brother Bez has recorded this uplifting, easy-going England Anthem with backing from his new band Domino Bones, including former members of the Bodines, the Boo Radleys and Black Grape. Despite Bez’s dubious vocal talents and a fairly average production, it’s not a bad little tune. The emphasis here is on producing a positive England Anthem. Reasonable lyrics, Bez’s own unique Mancunian drawl harmonized with great backing vocals from Monica Ward. As Bez himself points out: "It’s good fun and it’s politically correct as well — there’s no mention of the Germans!"

Sick As A Parrot: The line "England’s coming home with Jules Rimet" might rhyme with "victory" but surely even Bez, as a self confessed massive football fan, remembers that the Jules Rimet Trophy went home with Brazil permanently in 1970. Any notion of lyrical rhyme seems to have disappeared towards the end of the track.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

England: British Whale

England is available to buy from 12 July on Atlantic Records.

Musical Style: 70s-style Synth Rock meets traditional football chant.

Over The Moon: Under his solo guise British Whale, Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins’ second release is an England Anthem true to his own unique style. It sounds a bit like what might have resulted if Queen had shared a studio with The Squad back in the 1974. Hawkins wrote the song as an ironic statement of national pride in response to the political correctness that he feels is undermining England’s bid for World Cup glory. So it’s no surprise then that the lyrics make one or two references to the World Wars, for example the verse "Football will be our only weapon, Skill and power will be our only shield, We fought them on the beaches, Now we'll play them on the field, And once again the world will surely yield." Of course, England isn’t the only England Anthem to "mention the war", and anybody who has ever heard the Darkness, like them or loathe them, knows that he’s only having a bit of fun.

Sick As A Parrot: The chorus of England is most likely to cause a bit of a stir. It’s is a little less colourful than the verses having only one lyric, the word "England", repeated a number of times; however keen Grand Prix fans might just recognise the tune behind the lyric since it is the German National Anthem. If you’ve listened to the Darkness, but never "got" or for that matter wanted to "get" the joke, then this one isn’t for you.

Terrace Appeal: 7/10

Monday, May 22, 2006

(Is This The Way To) The World Cup: Tony Christie

Released 29th May on Gut Records.

Musical Style: An update of the Easy Listening "classic" (Is This The Way To) Amarillo with a new title and freshly penned lyrics but otherwise untouched.

Over The Moon: After selling albums into the millions in the 70s, Tony Christie’s career hit a bit of a lull, reviving briefly in 1999 due to his vocals on the All Seeing I’s Walk like a Panther, and finally being resurrected by Peter Kay’s comedy series Phoenix Nights. Few could have predicted the success of the re-release of Christie’s classic hit (Is This The Way To) Amarillo last year, in aid of Comic Relief. The single, featuring Peter Kay, stayed at the top of the chart for 7 weeks and Christie became a household name once again. Now the song, originally written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, has been given a re-write to become an England Anthem. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time and, in truth, it probably was. The song is almost painfully uplifting and infectious so even if you really want to hate it, it’s difficult to do so, and despite the tenuously adapted lyrics the chorus somehow bewitches you into singing along at the top of your voice. This time around it might not match last year’s marathon chart success, but it’s already being championed by Radio 1’s Chris Moyles, so there’s no getting away from it; you’ll be hearing an awful lot of this version.

Sick As A Parrot: This has to be the cheesiest England Anthem out at the moment. The lyrics are truly dreadful and there’s the nagging feeling that the brains behind this re-write are getting away with murder. If this was the last song you ever wanted to hear again after its almost constant airplay last year, then it might be a good time to book a cruise down the Amazon.

Terrace Appeal: 6/10

Friday, May 19, 2006

Once, Before I Die: Chris Shendo

Chris Shendo’s Once, Before I Die is available now on Rhapsody Island Records.

Musical Style: Acoustic guitar ballad.

Over The Moon: On a positive note all profits raised from the £3 price of Chris Shendo’s Once, Before I Die go to Sports Relief. Behind his comedy name Chris’s identity remains something of a mystery but this is said to be his debut release and his record company Rhapsody Island have apparently been inundated with emails from fans of the song who, like Chris, would love to see England lift the World Cup at least once in their lifetime.

Sick As A Parrot: One glance at the title of this song sets the tone - it’s bleak, downbeat, downright pessimistic and, quite frankly, bloody miserable. As much as it reflects the frustrations of thousands of England fans too young to remember ’66, there is something quite disturbing in the fact that it was written by a 35 year old, and sung like a grumpy old man. The chorus resembles Brian and Michael’s Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Mind you, that made it to Number 1, so you never know.

Terrace Appeal: 3/10

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stan’s World Cup Song: Stan Boardman

Stan’s World Cup Song is available from 29th May on Harkit Records.

Musical Style: Set to the tune of She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain, with a bit of Rule Britannia and the Dambusters theme, backed with a banjo straight out of Deliverance.

Over The Moon: Stan Boardman is a life-long Liverpool fan, and long before making his name in comedy his ambition was to play for his beloved club, but a short playing career convinced him he wasn’t quite cut out for the professional game. Nowadays it’s easy to forget how often Stan appeared on our screens in the 70s and 80s telling jokes about “the Jerrmans”, so all things considered, it’s only natural for him to throw his hat into the ring with his own World Cup song. Despite the unimaginative title of Stan’s World Cup Song his lyrics are well rhymed right down to the inevitable chorus “Singing aye aye yippy, the Germans bombed our chippy” even though they don’t raise more then the occasional tight-lipped smile.

Sick As A Parrot: This song is more reminiscent of the sort of thing you’d hear sung on a pensioners’ coach trip to Blackpool than an England Anthem. The comedy has as much bite as a toothless chihuahua.

Terrace Appeal: 5/10

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hurry Up England: Jimmy Pursey

Hurry up England is released on 12th June. All funds raised go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Musical Style: Pure Punk Rock, true to Hurry up Harry for the most part, updated with new lyrics, more shouting and Graham Coxon’s guitar replacing the original keyboard.

Over The Moon: Following on from the Hurry up England controversy, it has to be said that vocally Jimmy Pursey’s version outstrips the competitors. His voice sound a little age-worn, but it’s still Punk Rock, as is the suitably raw production by Steven Street. Even as a rumour this song was causing ripples of delight amongst Sham 69 fans old and new, and, although it appears to be surprisingly under-marketed, with Pursey’s legendary status and Virgin Radio’s backing it will, rightly or wrongly, most likely eclipse the other two versions.

Sick As A Parrot: The reworked lyrics are probably the only real let down here since players are just given the standard roll-call.

Terrace Appeal: 8/10

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hurry Up England: Motty’s Sheepskin

Motty’s Sheepskin’s version of Hurry up England is out on Cadiz Records. All proceeds go to Cancer Relief.

Musical Style: A stylish, well produced reworking of the punk classic Hurry up Harry. Well-crafted lyrics, growling Pursey-esq vocals and a bar room piano.

Over The Moon: Not only does there seem to be more England Anthems then ever before this time around, there’s even a bit of controversy thrown in for good measure. According to Motty’s Sheepskin’s website, the very strange tale of Hurry up England goes like this: The band from Romford, who reworked the Vapours Turning Japanese for the last World Cup, approached Jimmy Pursey asking his blessing to revamp the legendary Sham 69 tune Hurry up Harry as a charity England Anthem. Jimmy agreed, but only days later Virgin Radio played the single that they are touting as the People’s Anthem; Hurry up England by none other then Jimmy Pursey. Although disheartened, the band decided to put out their version anyway. A statement on the Official Sham 69 site however disputes this, saying that although the band did approach Jimmy about the song they already knew he had this song in the pipeline and had asked permission to revamp it but made no mention of doing the song as a World Cup Anthem. To add to the confusion, another band, Jump in the Woods, have also released a reworked version of the song under the title Come on England. Since Mulder and Scully have gone their separate ways and we may never get to the bottom of this mysterious tale, so we are left to judge the different versions on their own individual merits. The most distinguishing feature of all three is the difference in the lyrics. For me, Motty’s Sheepskin have produced a great version of the song, with strong lyrics and the familiar sounds of the pub mixed in which manages to convey the a real sense that if you’re not at the the game itself then "..it always feels better with an ice cold beer!"

Sick As A Parrot: This one lacks some of the raw edge of the original song and of Jimmy Pursey’s remake.

Terrace Appeal: 8/10

Monday, May 15, 2006

Stand Up 4 England: Koopa

Stand Up 4 England is out on 5th June on Mad Cow Records.

Musical Style: Upbeat, punchy Pop-Punk with the obligatory stupid haircuts. Catchy, patriotic lyrics sung in distinctive Essex tones.

Over The Moon: If Blink 182 came from Essex and wrote an England song, then it might well sound like Stand Up 4 England. Koopa have given the footie anthem the pop-punk treatment but they’ve kept a distinctly English style, and have already gained the support of the Official England Supporters Association. The three boys from Colchester tasted chart success with their first single last November and are looking good for another hit with this energetic, good old-fashioned fun song. The single, which is raising money for Barnados, came about when Koopa’s manager met Paul Baker from the TV programme Fash FC in a North London cafe. The result is a patriotic, optimistic song with a celebrity-studded video that gets in your head and rattles around there until you find yourself singing it in the shower.

Sick As A Parrot: This one may be more for the kids and comes across as a little more manufactured then heartfelt.

Terrace Apeal: 8/10