August 28, 2017
Finally we have two map-stencils from the UK and dated 1976; I wasn't born then, but someone in England gave me 'em. The green one is something anyone who attended high school in Australia would recognize: it's a Mathaid 4, a maths template which we used in school back then. They are still being made, so I guess they're still being used in schools. As you can see, unlike my 35+ year old Helix stencils, Mathaids are not unbreakable. But if you wanted to draw parabolæ, bell curves or sine waves, look no further.
One more stationery post, then it's back to business!
August 11, 2017
Compilation: Smash Hits '95
Released: 1995 – Columbia / Sony Music Australia
Number of tracks: 20
Number one singles: 1 – "Back For Good" by Take That
Other top ten singles: 8
Best track: "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" by TISM (track 1)
Hidden gem: "Trick With A Knife" by Strawpeople
With a rather smart bowling-themed art conceit, Smash Hits '95 has the best opening track of every compilation I've heard (except Let's Do It 2), with a hit single by TISM – one of my favourite bands of all time. I wasn't a regular reader of Smash Hits magazine in 1995, but my sister was buying it and I'd occasionally read some of hers. I'm not sure if they ever covered TISM in their pages, but I'd like to think TISM's iconoclastic attitude appealed to Smash Hits' writers. So: does the rest of the comp live up to its brilliant opening selection?
Well, your response will vary according to your opinion of pop music in 1995. As per Smash Hits comps, there's plenty of dance tracks on offer. Dance, techno and rap offerings from Tokyo Ghetto Pussy, The Outhere Brothers and Corona keep up the energy level, then there's mid-tier offerings from Ini Kamoze, Interactive and Newton which are okay. And finally, some slow tempo tunes like "Put Yourself In My Place" by Kylie Minogue and the effortlessly cool "Evidence" by Faith No More.
There are two songs on here I'd never heard before which are really rather ace – "Fall" by Single Gun Theory and the Strawpeople track I've chosen as the hidden gem, because it's easily the third-best track on here. So if TISM was best, what was second best? Well, the Smash Hits gang have made the smart decision to end this comp with The Steppers' "Alice, Who The F..k Is Alice?" It's the clean (censored) version, but I don't really care; those bleeps are probably more hilarious than the version where you hear the swearing. Awesome. Any compilation that starts with "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix!" and ends with "Alice!...who the fuck is Alice!" will always stay in my good books.