Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Your call is important to us...

I, like many people in the modern world, love music. I have been pretty much obsessed with the mathematically explainable way my brain interprets certain frequencies since I can remember. The first record my Mum bought because I pestered her into it was the Culture Club album with Karma Chamelion on it (Sadly this record perished before my 5th birthday as it was left in direct sunlight and got warped.) and since then I have been crazy about those funny bits of black plastic we call records.

However, there is one type of music which I loathe and that is HOLD music. You know, the music you get played whilst waiting on a call centre operator to answer. Its crimes are numerous: repetative; often badly made; constantly interupted by some voice telling you you are in a queue (AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW!) and worst of all, tinnier than the Tin Woodsman's toenail clippings.
Sometimes though it's not so bad; some call centres have put a little thought into it, realising that the hell that is waiting can be alieviated somewhat.
So whilst on the phone today, I decided to have the inaugural

Official Wrong Island Call Centre Hold Music Championships™.

Call centres around the country, NAY...THE GLOBE, will be be selected and audited on the following criteria:

1. Style of Music and relevance to the type of business
2. Repetativity (I don't know if that's actually a word.)
3. Time between announcements
4. Relevance of announcements
5. Boredom factor
6. Tinniness

The scores will be totted up (in my head) and an overall score will be posted out of 12.
The winner will be awarded the no doubt soon-to-be sought after title of Wrong Island Best Call Centre Hold Music Champion 2011.

May the least annoying cunts win!

First up, from East Kilbride in Scotland it's

Centre One Tax Office (part of HMRC)!

So the hold music here is pretty dreadful. Three different loops being switched between every 20 seconds or so. It's not unlike listening to a 19 year old DJ with ADHD and a newly torrented copy of Traktor playing three loops from The Greatest Hits of General MIDI.
One loop is a picked guitar thing, another sounds like a duck getting squashed and the other so stultifyingly dull that I've forgotten what it sounds like. No matter though because it'll be back on in 40 second or so. Joy unbridled.
Mind you, saying as some people will be ringing up to find out that they have a tax refund due, the Government probably commissioned someone to make the music as brain melting as possible so that you don't hold on long enough to actually get through. God forbit anyone ringing up to find they've not paid enough though. Mind you, would the Taxman care? Of course not, the utter bastard.

Overall rating: This is pretty bad and I can't imagine anyone having a hold 'experience' worse. The music might well be designed to put you off so I suppose it should get points for relevancy but otherwise, there's nothing redeeming about this except the lure of a tax refund so I'm giving them 3 out of 12

Recommended replacement music: Taxman by The Beatles or perhaps Money by Pink Floyd

Our next contestant hails from the lovely city of Glasgow....give a warm welcome to:

Direct Line Insurance
First impressions are good. The initial music sounds like Santo & Johnny. Nice and relaxing and doesn't sound so bad being tinny.
After getting the call answered and asking the operative on the line a few questions that I know I'll be put on hold for, I am greeted with the strains of 'Love and Marriage', best known to me and most people my age as the theme tune to Married With Children. I melt away into nostalgic daydreams of Peggy Bundy tossing my salad, quite happy to hold on. Next up is They Can't Take That Away From Me as sung by Ol' Blue Eyes himself.
This choice of big band classics works very well as hold music; inoffensive, friendly, jocular. All things one wants to hear before a nasal Scotsman tells you how much it'd be to insure a 25 year old female learner driver for 3 months.

In addition to the excellent music choice, the announcements are different ever time and often informative.
Why no, I didn't know that if an uninsured driver hits me that Direct Line will cover the excess. And my No-Claims won't be affected? Why, I'm really learning here.

Overall rating: these guys have put a bit of thought into the hold reel here. With the possible exception of the music not really having anything to do with cars or insurance, they have really hit it on the head.
10 out of 12

Recommended replacement music: Warm Leatherette by The Normal, Baby You Can Drive My Car, something by INXS, High Risk Insurance by Ramones, Take Good Care Of My Baby by Bobby Vee

Contestant number three, representing the North East of England, it's mobile telephone company


Oh takes forever to actually get to some music here. Far too many button presses and questions. Don't they realise there's a Championship at stake here?!
Finally, when I get through, the music is pretty bad. Tinny as fuck pop music from the last five years. Eek.
Thankfully and, if I'm honest, unusually for Orange the call is answered quickly and I am soon greeted with the lovely voice of a Geordie. Having a call centre in the N.E. of England is a pretty good move as that soft, lilting accent is so soothing that the operative could tell you that it turns out that your phone actually is giving you brain cancer and you'd still be pretty cool about it.
They should really replace the music they have got with one of the middle aged women that seem to make up 90% of the staff telling a nice story. Though your brain might get confused and think it's a bed-time story and you might miss the call due to having a nice nap. They should definitely replace the 'sexy' voiced southerner that does the voice of the answerphone on Orange. She gets on my tits.

Overall rating: The music is pish but the operatives are so nice, i'm going to give them an extra point so they get 8.

Recommended Replacement Music: Eberhard Schoener Feat. Sting - Why Don't You Answer
Not only for the Sting-north East connection but also because every other time I've rang orange, it's taken the best part of half an hour to get through.

The first heat is over and we have some strong contenders here. Feel free to email in with any suggestions for companies I should be checking out.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Lime were one of those oddities that the 70s and 80s threw up which you probably wouldn't find today. A slightly odd-looking man-and-wife band (Though they used a more attractive couple to appear as them in public.) who sold records by the millions. And just to add to the weirdness, they were call Denis and Denise.

They are probably best known these days for the Italo track 'On the Grid' which sounds very much like it had an influence on the music made by New Order around the same time. This was certainly the first track by them that I'd heard and it fits in nicely with lots of different genres of dance.

For me though, the better stuff (and I'm using "better" in a very subjective way here as I'm sure some people will think I've lost the plot) is in the sometimes over-blown songs they released such as 'I Don't Want to Lose You' and the totally over the top 'Babe, We're Going To Love Tonight'.
The latter track is a hyper-fast fusion of Hi-NRG and Italo with vocals that sound like they are channelling AM rock-pomp and Kate Bush. Check out the video to see what I mean by "slightly odd looking".

I played "Babe..." at the last Wrong Island and the crowd really went for it, which I was quite surprised by if I'm honest. I thought it would be the wrong side of OTT and the floor would clear.
Another thing that attracts me to these records is the real sense of cohesion that runs across all the releases not just in terms of music but also the artwork on the sleeves. Very 80s but very futuristic at the same time. Or at least what they thought futuristic would look like in the 80s. Anyway, the nice bright colours and 2000A.D. style art catch my eye which also makes them very hard to miss when yr out digging in second hand shops.

...and just in case you haven't had enough yet, someone's done a nice mega-mix of lots of Lime stuff here

Monday, 10 January 2011

Larry's Track of 2010.

Sooo just about recovered from new year celebrations and finally I get round to posting my first contribution to our new blog.
Always find it pretty tough trying to pick one track from a whole year worth of great music being released and this year has certainly been no exception.
I wouldn't say there is ever one track to out do them all, I like loads of different tracks for different reasons. However there is one particular young man who has been killing it with every new release and remix he touches, yes it's the man(boy) Ramadan. David Kennedy aka Ramadanman / Pearson Sound, has really come into his own over the last year or so with every new record seeming to trump the one before. So it only felt right that my track of 2010 would have to be one of his. Choosing my favourite has also been tricky. However the one that did it for me the most was his latest release "Blanked" on his own imprint Hessle Audio under the Pearson Sound guise. He combines his trademark bass heavy production and tight percussion drum patterns with a stunning midway synth drop that does the damage in the club and moves me at the same time.
David Kennedy, 2010 was your year and "Blanked" is my choice cut of 2010. Can't wait to hear more from this kid in 2011..

Monday, 3 January 2011

Wrong Island do Luckyme mixtape.

Our good pals at Luckyme asked us to do a mixtape for their excellent series of podcasts ages ago. We took forever to get our arses in gear and do it. We then forgot all about it and thought maybe they didn't like it, so it was a great surprise to get this on the feed today.

It's a bit more downtempo than what we'd do at our parties. Maybe the sort of thing you might hear in the first hour; bit of post-dubstep or funky or whatever it's called this week alongside some old boogie records and stuff you might like to hear at a roller-disco if they still happened.

The only problem was that after a very long festive period, what they'd written about us was so lovely that I got a bit emotional. Time for some Horlicks and two days in bed with a book maybe?

Wrong Island Luckyme Mixtape

First footing & tune of 2010 (teamy)

Happy new year everyone. Hope you have a wonderful 2011, filled with much joy and loveliness.

Around this time it's traditional to do some sort of list of the top tunes of the previous year, which often leaves me a bit lost as for the last few years I hardly ever went off doing crazy things like buying new records;
at our Wrong Island parties, Larry is much more the one to be found playing the new stuff while I back it up with all the 'new' old records I have found whilst getting my fingers dusty from flicking thru piles of records in second hand shops or charity places.

That said, after a little bit of thinking I have realised that there was one record which didn't leave my record bag from the moment I bought it this year. It's called 'No Worries' by Butch and came out on Cecille Records sometime in 2010.
It's a jacking house thing that really reminds me of the sort of stuff I was mad about circa 1999 like Roulé and Crydamoure which I had a bit of a reminiscence about last year.
It's got a really good build up to a BIG bass drop but without feeling like it's following a traditional structure.

I'm going to stop talking about it and just link it. Turn it up LOUD. (on a stereo, not yr laptop speakers...)