Sunday, 15 January 2017

My Robotic Skin is Bleeding / Screen Addiction : Beardyman and the Masters of Distraction

I'm writing this post as this song is being composed and performed live on the fly on BBC Radio 6 Music. This isn't 'hot off the press'. it's not even on the press, yet... but it's a robot song that's fresher than a fresh thing in fresher's week.

The premise is, listeners of Tom Robinson's Now Playing show send in titles to songs that don't exist and the superbly talented Beardyman and his band, the Masters of Distraction are making the songs up live, improvised and synthesised.

You can could listen to the entire show here... but they're only available for a month after broadcast. Beardyman's hour long live and improvised set is 60 minutes in and the song, My Robotic Skin is Bleeding / Screen Addiction is a 105 minutes in (that's about an hour and three-quarters in imperial). I'll also give a shout to Ben Oldham who suggested the 'robotic skin' half of the title and thus, inspired the robot theme of the song... great work Ben! :)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cybernetic Surgery : The Cybermen

Like Sheffield, Accrington is nestled in the foothills of the Pennines. Accrington is home to Accrington Stanley FC, the football club best known for being the football club that no one's ever heard of. It's also home to The Cybermen...

image from - used without permission
No not those Cybermen! These Cybermen...

Paul Milek (drums), Ian Dixon (bass, vocals), Roger Entwistle (guitar, vocals)

...they are from Accrington after all... not Mondas.

If it wasn't for Hawkwind, The Cybermen may never have formed but thankfully they did and the first song on their first EP was titled Cybernetic Surgery; recorded in '77 and released in '78. It's a punk influenced slice of 70s pub rock, written on the cheap, recorded on the cheap, released on the cheap and the cover was designed using letteraset and a photostat machine... and that's punk through and through. It's not about the spitting or the shouting, it's about the DIY approach; making music for the hell of it. Sadly the DIY approached spelled doom for The Cybermen when the 'unfortunate borrowing' of most of their equipment prevented them from continuing beyond 1979... and I guess the world just wasn't ready for a three piece acapella punk band from Accrington.

Thanks to for letting me plagiarise their information and borrow a photo. Further reading on The Cybermen can be found here... the free 'info pack' that came with their second EP is well worth a read.

Does anyone under the age of forty even know what a letteraset or photostat machine is? Answers on a postcard to PO Box 101, Cyberster, Cybershire. ...and don't forget to put your age.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Anorexic Robot : Fat Truckers

I've been wanting to post this particular song right from the beginning... but was prevented by only having it on MP3 and I couldn't be bothered to upload it to YouTube myself. There was a shaky handy-cam video of a performance of this particular robot song but its audio & video quality wasn't up to standard so it never got posted. Having recently found a new video on YouTube, the time has come to find out what happens when robot songs and eating disorders collide.

Fat Truckers hail from Sheffield, a northern city with an industrial heart and an unsurpassed musical provenance. The Human League, Pulp, Richard Hawley, Heaven 17, Tony Christie, Arctic Monkeys, Chakk, Cabaret Voltaire, Joe Cocker (and son Jarvis), I Monster, Living in a Box, All Seeing I, LFO and many more all hailed from these industrial foothills of the Pennines. Some were good, some were great and many still are... but Fat Truckers didn't enjoy the success or longevity of some of their better known contemporaries. They didn't seem to last very long at all. One LP plus three singles adds up to a non-hit wonder... but that is of no concern. I don't care about chart success or how big a band's back catalogue is. One decent tune with a robotic theme is my sole concern, and this robot song bangs and clanks with the best of 'em. Taken from the 2003 LP 'The First Fat Truckers Album is for Sale', it's Anorexic Robot by Fat Truckers.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Do The Robot : The Saints

It's All Saints Day so what better reason to post something by The Saints, the antipodean punk pioneers who's debut single was released in September '76, making them the first 'punk' group outside the USA to release a single. The Saints are still active and are hailed as a major influence on the punk genre.

Do the Robot (AKA International Robots) is taken from their 1978 LP 'Eternally Yours', although it does appear as a bonus track on one re-issue of their 1977 debut album '(I'm) Stranded'. This is proper punk, not that 'shock your granny' punk-pop that the Sex Pistols sold us... enjoy!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Death Orgy 9000 : Kaviar

Whilst I've been neglecting this blog for far too long, I've also managed to forget that a handful of readers have suggested some robot songs for me to post. This suggestion came from 'Anonymous' back in February, and since it's scary on several levels, it's an ideal robot song for Halloween.

Death Orgy 9000 is by Kaviar, a band fronted by Kevin Gilbert and is taken from one of several posthumous releases; The Kaviar Sessions (2002). Gilbert died in 1996 from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation which, without wanting to appear disrespectful, is a really silly way to die.
Don't try it at home kids... or anywhere else!

You may want to check out some other robot songs with a vague Halloween theme, or you may not.
If like me, you've nothing better to do, then have a look at my post from Halloween 2014 which features Black Sabbath, Bender and Bruce Haack.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Electric Barbarella : Duran Duran

The other day when posting the Hungry Like the Wolf parody song Cyborg 101, I wondered if Duran Duran's Electric Barbarella was on topic or not... so I perused the lyrics and you can guess the rest.

As most of you will know, Duran Duran took their name from the film Barbarella and as many may rightly assume, this song is another of their homages to that film. The lead role of Barbarella was played by Jane Fonda.. although she ain't no robot. However Duran Duran's Electric Barbarella is a bot... but it's a long way from my favourite Duran Duran song. It lacks their classic sound of funky bass and cutting guitar but its better than nothing, which is what I've been posting for most of this year.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Space Girl : Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

My ongoing quest for robot songs has thrown up more than a few surprises... but I didn't expect for one second that the great Ewan MacColl would be making an appearance. This song was co-written with Peggy Seeger (who I presume is on vocal duties) in 1952 for a short opera titled 'You're Only Young Once'. According my source, Space Girl parodies The Ghost Soldier Song which I cannot find but its a WWI song and therefore, undoubtedly grim. Space Girl also parodies 1940s sci-fi themes and has its robo-reference at the end of the first verse. It's a cracking tune but as a robot song, it's a bit tenuous so I wasn't sure whether to post it or not... but I did, I did, I did.

*The 1952 date could be wrong... one source says Space Girl was written in 1952, but another source says MacColl & Seeger began working (and loving) together in 1956. Either way, it's the first song I've dug up with a robot reference from the 50s and the second oldest on this blog.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Cyborg 101 : Bonecage

I'm quite fond of a parody song. I'm also quite fond of Duran Duran and have been wondering if their late 90s single Electric Barbarella counts as robot song or not... although admittedly, I haven't studied the lyrics for a definite robo-reference. I'm more of a Rio / Seven & the Ragged Tiger era Duranee and Hungry Like the Wolf was one of my favourites. Here, it's been reworked as an homage to the classic cyber-thriller Terminator and although a bit underwhelming... it is bang on topic so here it is, Bonecage's Terminator/Hungry Like the Wolf parody, Cyborg 101.

I won't leave it quite so long before my next post... but I've said that before, so who knows?
In the mean time, keep on robot-rocking!

Friday, 25 December 2015

Want You Gone : Jonathon Coulton

The first robot song I posted by Jonathan Coulton was titled Still Alive; his gloriously haunting contribution to the video game Portal... and it remains to be one of my all time favourite robot songs.

This final instalment of the hugely anticipated Jonathan Coultonathon is the song he contributed to Portal 2... Want You Gone, also sung by GLaDOS and is just as beautiful and haunting as Still Alive but with a hefty chunk of analogue synth programming thrown in for good measure.

Check out the Easter Egg in this post to hear my favourite version of Still Alive featuring vocals by Sara Quin and some ecstatic theramin playing by Dorit Chrysler... but only after you've given the wonderful Want You Gone a spin.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Future Soon : Jonathan Coulton

There's not much to say about this penultimate instalment of the 101 Songs About Robots 2015 Jonathan Coultonathon apart from the fact that Jonathan Coulton is still fantasising about having a girlfriend, possibly, one day, maybe [dream on]. Actually, I shouldn't be so flippant since for all I know, Mr C could at this very moment be cybernetically enhancing himself and building his own robot army, one laser at a time...

The Future Soon is the opening track on Jonathan Coulton's first EP titled 'Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow' and was released in 2004. From such humble beginnings, who'd have thought he'd have gone on to pen so many wonderful songs? Not just about robots but all sorts of things such as love, lobsters, monkeys, writing code, being a geek, having a beard and zombies. But this one's about robots.

Tune in tomorrow for the final blah blah blah blah of the Jonathan blahblahathon... oh go on... there's an Easter Egg in it for you!