The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of Hicksdesign.

Troika #13: Oooph!

Troika #13: Oooph!

Graham Fellows has already appeared on Troika in his ‘Brian Appleton’ guise, but he’s most known for the Yahama-driven genius of versatile singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. You may have heard classics like ‘Pigeons in Flight’ and ‘Y Reg’, but if you’ve never come across him before, here’s your first taster!

Graham came up with this character while working for Chappell Music in the 80s. Some demo tapes were sent in that inspired the music style, and the voice and mannerisms were based on people he knew in Sheffield. As well touring and recording as John, he has a Radio 4 show ‘The Shuttleworths’, on which he performs all the voices: his Wife Mary and her friend Joan Chitty, daughter Karen and son Darren, and not forgetting next door neighbour and sole agent Ken Worthington.

There’s a lovely innocence to the character and the humour is very gentle – the rudest he’s ever been is a song called ‘Eggs and Gammon’, which is about flatulence. I’m sure Mr Fellows will get sick of doing John (he may already be at the point) but I’ll always be a big fan!

  1. Mutiny over the Bounty
    Mars of Slough! You’ve really done it now! John was so horrified when they stopped putting a cardboard tray in the Bounty, losing vital protection. John’s finest protest song.
  2. Two Margarines
    We’ve all been there – two tubs of margarine (or low fat spread) in the fridge, one should be the ‘current’ and the other is the ‘backup’. But what happens when both are open? Two on the go?! It’s a nightmare scenario!
  3. I can’t go back to savoury now
    A melancholy ballad about starting to eat pudding, and then realising that there is still main course available. You can’t go back! This is one I regularly sing to the family. In fact, its my ringtone.

For more information on John Shuttleworth, visit his official website

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #13: Oooph! as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #12: Le Tour!

Troika #12: Le Tour!

I had planned a different Troika for #12, but I was so late getting it ready, I was going to miss the fact that the Tour de France starts this weekend! So that will become #13, and here is my rather hurried tribute to the annual cycling pantomime that is the Tour!

  1. ‘Tour de France’ by Alexis Roche
    This one is apparently a bit rude, but it’s in French.
  2. ‘Tour de France’ by Benôit Charest
    From the fantastic Belleville Rendezvous soundtrack.
  3. ‘Tour de France’ by Señor Coconut
    As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t abide Kraftwerks’ ‘Tour de France’, but this is a cover version I can really get behind!

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #12: Le Tour! as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #11: All about the Bassists

Troika #11: All about the Bassists

Hello peoples! This Troika is all about the bassists!

Squarepusher (real name Tom Jenkinson) is mad multi-instrumentalist as well as mentalist. His music swerves from smooth electronica jazz to drum and bass, to (quite frankly) an unlistenable avant-garde load of bobbins. Mostly its somewhere in the middle! There is even an album ‘Solo Electric Bass’ that does what it says on the tin, but it’s in tracks like Hello Meow that I really enjoy his bass playing. Particularly that bass solo!

Les Claypool of Primus is one of those musicians that took the bass into weirder territory. I’d thought all slap bass sounded like Level 42 until I heard him play. He made sounds with that bass that I never thought possible, and raised it from being a ‘hidden at the side’ role in a band to the main instrument. So much so, he was the one that really inspired to want to be a bassist. I never stuck at it, but I still like Primus.

I couldn’t do this list without Flea, and while I could’ve played something lesser known like Atoms for Peace (a collaboration with Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich), I’ve gone for an overplayed, you’ve heard it jillions of times already Red Hot Chilli Peppers song, By the Way. Because its great.

  1. ‘Hello Meow’ – Squarepusher
  2. ‘Jerry was a race car driver’ – Primus
  3. ‘By the Way’ – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

This was one of the hardest Troika’s to do, in terms of all the ones I left out. I could’ve included Jaco Pastorius, Paul McCartney, Melissa Auf de Maur, Steve Lawson to name but a few. They may be on future podcasts though :)

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #11: All about the Bassists as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #10: For Leigh

Troika #10: For Leigh

Eighteen years ago, I sold my car! It was a bright yellow early 70’s VW Beetle with Empi5 alloy rims (that might mean something to some people). I loved that car, but the long commute I was doing convinced me that I needed something that used less fuel, and went wrong less.

I was working for a charity in Leicester at the time, and through a colleague I heard that an ex-employee called Leigh was looking for a beetle. She was living in Oxford, and I was in Leamington Spa. Leigh came up to see it, and when she drove it away I realised I was sad, but not for losing the beetle. I had to see her again. Friends joked at the time I “just wanted my old car back”, but I’d met someone really special, and was bowled over. We married before a year was out :)

This Troika is all about songs that evoke that special time – May 1997. Meeting Leigh and those first few dates in Oxford.

  1. ‘Step into my World’ – Hurricane #1
    A week before I met Leigh, ‘Step into my World’ was being played a lot on Radio 1. Hurricane #1 was a new band formed by Andy Bell from Ride, who had split the previous year. I loved this single, especially the last half which is just Andy’s guitar, and played it to death. Then, on my first date with Leigh, she asked if I’d heard of Hurricane #1. Turns out she was good friends with Andys parents who lived around the corner! We got to meet Andy not long after, and I was typically star struck and didn’t have much to say for myself, and Richard and Rachel are the most lovely people you could ever hope to meet.
  2. ‘Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence’ – Ren and Stimpy
    When I talked with Leigh about which songs remind her when we met, the first and last choices here were the obvious ones. The other one could’ve been Prefab Sprout (we were both fans), something from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack (like the cute ‘Little Star’ by Stina Nordenstam). However one of the first things that came to mind was the answerphone message I had at the time, which is this little warning ditty from Ren and Stimpy.
  3. ‘No Surprises’ – Radiohead
    We were together just two weeks when Radiohead’s seminal ‘OK Computer’ was released. I remember the Headington roundabout had a huge vinyl banner advert with Stanley Donwood’s album art on it, and I was desperate to steal it! I’m sure many of you will have heard this song a jillion times, but like ‘Step into World’ it evokes a very particular, and special time in my life.

This one’s for you Leigh!

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #10: For Leigh as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #9: For Mum

Troika #9: For Mum

This coming Sunday is three years since my mum died, so I wanted to dedicate this ninth episode of Troika to her memory!

  1. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ – The Beatles
    I grew up in a house with classical music. My dad would only ever allow Radio 3 on, and I was in my early teens before we were allowed to watch Top of the Pops. While mum didn’t talk about music particularly, she liked the Beatles and Paul McCartney’s solo work and it was her that introduced me to the Magical Mystery Tour period. ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’ were here favourite songs.
  2. ‘Ukelele Lady’ – Peter Sellers & The Temperance Seven
    One deviation from classical in my dads record collection was a selection of Peter Sellers LPs, and this lovely bit of whimsy was one that my mum and I used to sing together.
  3. ‘The Lark Ascending’ – Ralph Vaughan Williams
    We played Vaughn Williams musical interpretation of the George Meredith poem about a Skylark at mums funeral. It was another favourite of mums and a fitting, if rather tearjerking, tribute. Still find it a hard one to listen to, but its a truly beautiful piece of music.
  4. ‘Dear Friends’ – Elbow
    Finally, because its my podcast and I can cheat if I want to, there’s one more ;)
    I thought hard about which one I cut to make a proper trio but I felt I couldn’t leave any of them out. If there was one song that en up the grieving process after the funeral, it was this one. “You are with me today. You are here are in my head, in my heart”.

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #9: For Mum as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

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