Monday, November 8, 2021


Duty bound to prop up this side of the atlantic, with candy, like movies and garbage, an americanism that has crept in and gained an increasing traction in the language over here. I feel I have to say we eat sweets, or, even, sweeties, when in need of a sugar kick. So, true to form, tapping 'sweet' into my i-tunes search, I anticipated reams of inspiration. Sadly, give or take this song, very little fitted the bill, even were I to turn a blind eye to the innumerable double entendres out there, as most of the sweetness and most of the honey referred to comes in a two legged form. Needing, thus, a quick reboot, and chocolate became my go-to. 

Courtesy disallows any discussion over the pros and cons of US versus UK in this confection, the age-old Hershey versus Cadbury, perhaps now academic that Cadbury, for chrissakes, are owned by the cheese paste magnate, Kraft. (The answer, by the way, is neither, my taste erring towards dark and interesting, the continental "plain" chocolate that actually bears some acquaintance with the cocoa bean.) So, with no further ado, here's a selection box of choccy treats, which I will deliver in the form of the once mighty Fry's Five Boys bar. This was a childhood treat in, admittedly, simpler times, a thin bar comprising 5 segments, each with a different boy at the different 5 stages of engagement therewith. Entitled Desperation, Pacification, Expectation, Acclamation and Realisation, the classic stages of how to bribe a small child. Once the most recognised bar in the world, it was launched in 1902, surviving until the late '70s, by which time it had become desperately low key and old hat. 


I Like Chocolate/Johnny and the Raindrops

Has anyone actually heard this monster before? Uncertain quite as to which demographic it was aimed toward, nonetheless it is so gallingly sickly as to deserve a place here. Johnny and the Raindrops, who "have been making music for children and their grown-ups since 2008", that quote giving away the game that they are in that small selection of bands for pre-school kids, like Australia's more famous Wiggles. (I'd love to say like They Might Be Giants, but I am aware their fans now come also in long trousers and are fiercely protective of the band and their oeuvre.)



An unusual piece from the Tindersticks canon. Unusual, in that it is spoken word, spoken with a voice that sounds normal and unmannered. The singing style of the vocalist, Stuart Staples, is not always so, with one of the, let's say, more curious timbres out there. Don't get me wrong, I adore the band, and his odd vocal style is a big part of that, this song somehow diminishing him a little, making him sound just a normal lad from Nottingham. The backing remains, of course, exquisitely characteristic, a mix twixt David Lynch soundtrack and european art-house film music. It is a long track; please bear with it. If you can't, well, skip to the end. With luck you will then want to hear the whole thing.


Chocolate Girl/Deacon Blue

The song that first endeared me to this ongoing Scottish institution. A terrific song from their debut album, the mere act of adding some sublime pedal steels ensured my interest and attention. I have written about them before, my belief maintained that their first work was their best, further albums never quite having quite the same hooks. But they play on, fairly big hitters, still, on the bigger UK indoor venue circuit: indeed, I caught them, if briefly, playing at  festival just this last summer. With a largely all the hits show, they had the audience lapping it all out of their hands. And, sure, they played this.


Chocolate Drops/Iggy Pop

A newer song, slightly, one of the highpoint of Mr Osterberg's 5 year old opus, Post Pop Depression. I like it, he coming on all over like a cross between his old mucker, David Bowie, and Mark Lanegan, the thoughtful use of chimes in the percussion department always a mood lifter in my house. It has intriguing lyrics, Pop's own, added to a riff album producer Josh Homme had had lying around for some few years. Basically a variation on the Monty Python song about looking on the bright side, here Pop muses on how, as you sink to the bottom, you become the top of that trajectory, inviting the then corollary that the brown stuff accumulating there might then become chocolate drops. Enticing stuff, eh? But it is a lovely little tune so, with that positivity in mind, who is to say the yellow snow isn't honey?


More Songs About Chocolate and Girls/The Undertones

I'm not sure whether this was written as a response to the Talking Heads' worthy sounding album, More Songs About Buildings and Food; I should check. (A: It came two years later and both bands were on the same label, so it seems a reasonable supposition.) No clever allegorical verbiage here, just a dumb yet smart ode to the simple pleasures of, um, chocolate and girls, sung in Feargal Sharkey's unmistakeable wobbly warble. At the end of this or any day, I am not sure if any of the greatest philosophers could put it better:

"Sit down, relax and cancel all other engagements
It’s never too late to enjoy dumb entertainment"

So, there you have it, 5 boys worth of chocolate. Before I finish, however, let me share with you the delight of discovery as to what the Scots Gaelic for candy turns out to be, sweeties being so integral in Scottish life and dentistry..... (Hint: try saying 'suiteas' aloud. And 'seòclaid' isn't heaven a million miles away, either!)