Six Damn Fine Degrees #112: String Quartet Kraftwerk

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Robots It was their cover of Robots I first heard. I can’t exactly remember on what radio show. An evening show in 1992, no doubt, as I sat in my teenage bedroom pretending to do homework. I was fascinated by this reimagining and resolved to wait till the end to learn the name of the artist – The Balanescu Quartet.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #108: Stealing Sheep

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

I’ve seen a lot of bands live. It’s a perk of living in London. There’s a vast range of venues, from the small and beautiful to the vast and, well, not-so-beautiful. It’s also a pretty essential location whenever artists want to tour. At some point on their schedule, they’ll get a gig in at the capital. This also means that I can see the bands and performers I like multiple times, seeing how they grow and develop.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #103: Occupants of Interplanetary (Most Extraordinary) Craft

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

People don’t seem to get abducted by aliens anymore. Or, at least, if they still are being abducted we don’t get to hear about it. Because one of the strongest memories of my youth was the fact that, like Quicksand and Rabies, Alien Abduction was an ever-present danger. Indeed the whole idea that the Earth was being visited by Extra-Terrestrials was supported by so much anecdotal evidence that it seemed inevitable that they just had to be out there and it would all soon be revealed.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #97: The Divine Comedy, Liberation and Promenade

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

In 1993, The Divine Comedy released their album Liberation. While, technically speaking, not the first Divine Comedy album, it marked the first release where musician Neil Hannon effectively operated as the band. He wrote, arranged and performed all the songs, with the help of a handful of musicians providing percussion and strings, and William Wordsworth providing a lyrical assist on the album’s final track “Lucy”.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #89: Fred & Ginger in Carefree

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

They don’t make ’em like they used to. It’s a familiar refrain when people talk about old movies, to the point of being a cliche. Frequently it’s trotted out by rose-tinted nostalgics who want to decry that modern films aren’t as good as they were in their day. But it can also apply when you watch a film from yesterday that has a plot that, for strikingly obvious reasons, you couldn’t – and definitely shouldn’t – tell now.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #85: Give My Regards To Broad Street

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

When I was young I bought my pop music on Cassette. If you made a bit of money on your birthday you could head to the shops and buy yourself an album. (If you’d really cleaned up with the relatives you could get two.) The only vinyl player we had in the house was very much off-limits to the children, mainly the domain of curious spoken word affairs that the grown-ups found funny. Although they had covers that tended to give me nightmares.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #80: One Does Not Simply Fly Into Mordor

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

“Mount Doom” by Pete McKinstry

“Why didn’t they just send the Eagles to drop the Ring into Mount Doom?”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #76: Tales From Viking Times

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

As a kid, I was a massive fan of listening to stories on cassettes. Far more so than music. Music cassettes inevitably had those tracks you wanted to skip past, leading to fiddling attempts to fast forward the right amount (…and miss it and go back and overly compensate going back and so try to jump forward and – uh-oh, I think the tape is chewed up now). Whereas a good story tape was immersive. You were there for the ride for at least the rest of the side.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #72: The Wrong Poirot

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

In the early ‘70s, a British film studio hoping to make a global success decided to tap into one of the nation’s most famous exports: Agatha Christie. When it came to which of her works they would adapt, they opted for Murder On The Orient Express – a story that would allow for an exotic (if relatively cheap) location and a large cast that could be filled with bankable stars. Audiences, they hoped, would head to the cinemas thanks to the name of the author and the likes of Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Perkins.

The formula worked. The film was a huge hit, a commercial triumph topping the US box office. It also enjoyed great reviews, with critics praising Sidney Lumet’s stately direction and the strength of the adaptation. Indeed both audiences and critics seemed to mention just one flaw with the film: Albert Finney as Poirot.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #66: Kapitän Kirk 

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

As someone who is always trying to improve their German, without actually doing the hard slog of sitting down with an exercise book and learning all the correct genders for nouns or what on Earth is going on with prepositions (seriously – what is going on there?), I have discovered a dubious easier alternative: popular culture.

Or more specifically, popular culture dubbed into German. If there’s a big movie coming out that looks not brilliant, just a bit meh – then I try to watch it first in German. Actual complicated drama series are beyond my talents. I won’t understand enough to follow the plot. But Godzilla: King of The Monsters? I’m there! (Ich bin dort?)

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