EV 1558 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1558 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1558 (Hints)

Name That Tune by X-Type

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This is X-Type’s sixth EV crossword. His generous cluing style and use of familiar language will give a speedy solve to old hands and be a pleasure to solve for newcomers to the advanced thematic cryptics. This would be a great one to encourage new solvers.

Preamble:  NAME THAT TUNE to be highlighted in the grid, behaving in a manner befitting its title. The unclued entries making up the top row composed the song. The album from which the song is taken is the other unclued entry. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

It was clear to us that having unclued lights in the first two rows of the crossword meant that we needed to initially focus on the down clues, 1 to 10. Very helpful letters that appeared in those quickly led us to the theme and to an old favourite. The relatively unusual dimensions of the grid will prompt solvers where to look for the letters that must be highlighted.


19a          This used to be a measure of Russia’s dire hard rains (6)
We’ve noticed before that X-Type likes his anagrams. Here he has combined an anagram and a one-letter abbreviation

25a         Paint second-rate gemstones (4)
The underlined definition will help here. The word was new to us.

36a         Someone who could get a pain in the neck if they’re not careful (14)
There’s just a rather amusing cryptic definition here to a word that has a hyphen (5-9).

37a         Large mussel in Shetland – that’s cool – by dab swimming (9)
You are unlikely to know this hyphenated term that comes originally from the Gaelic. However, X-Type is clearly aware of that and has spelled the name of the mussel out for us.

38a         She is holding little Nathaniel and handle of manual mower (6)
Again X-Type’s clue for an unusual word is generous.


1d          A Shangri-la river I avoided produced such snakes (8)
‘Produced’ prompts us to another anagram and we clearly need to find two letters to remove from the potential material to get the snakes.

5d          Portion of drink, it’s said (4)
All the letters of this solution will probably appear when you have spotted the tune and its composers (with those you will already have in the grid). We are clearly being told that it is a homophone for a drink. The name of the drink is more familiar to us than the term for the ‘portion’.

6d           Clubs, spades, petrol in LA: something used to control riots? (5, two words)
The suggestion that the LA police are wielding clubs and spades and hurling ‘petrol’ had us smiling but, of course, we were being given the ‘three words’ – if letters count as words..

15d          Fellow after money, in the past, for old sorts of fish (8)
Our hints are selecting the less-familiar solution words. Here the ‘fellow’ who follows a casual  word for money is frequently used in crosswords – the ‘old sorts of fish’ less so.

16d          Mineral obtained from processed lime and tin, with energy input (8)
Rather odd chemistry in this surface-reading but the clue clearly tells us what the three elements of the mineral are.

30d         Catch one of thematic pair, by the sound of it (4)
If you are still hunting for the thematic composers, there is a huge hint in this homophone, three letters of which are not in unches.

32d         50% of coppers taking oxygen for this dance (4)
You simply have to remove the last 50% of the six-letter ‘coppers’ and add the oxygen to get a term for a gypsy dance.

It is a pleasure to have a relatively gentle solve from time to time, especially one that has us singing for a while afterwards. We particularly liked the way the song was thematically represented. Solvers must remember to do that highighting – probably in an appropriate colour.

Do please send in your entry and add your comments here and to the setters’ blogs that are appearing on Big Dave’s site on Thursdays and to the detailed blogs that also appear on Thursdays on  fifteensquared.

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12 comments on “EV 1558 (Hints)
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  1. That’s the first one I’ve finished before lunch! Very generous clues and the placement of thematic material both helped; only 15d required any head-scratching.
    It was fun while it lasted so thanks to X-type and the Numpties.

    1. That’s the first one I’ve finished … never mind the ‘before lunch’! Yes, some lovely clues today and encouraging to get to the end of one of these just using the internet (I don’t have a Chambers). I have the vinyl album too.

  2. This was a canter, rather than a can’t-er with lots of smile-raising clues but I would take issue with The Numpties about the letters in 5d, unless they have found a different tune…

  3. Finished this without recourse to the hints…..I think a first for me.

    Thanks to the setter for making me happy and to the Numpties for confirming my answers.

  4. This is the very first time that I heve even looked at an Enigmatic Variation crossword and how glad I am that I chose to have a go at it this morning (Monday) Great fun, some new words learned and a joy to solve. 37 across I am familiar with, but I have alway known it to be spelt slightly differently – with the 4th & 5th letters not the two required in the answer. There is Shetland band with the same name – that’s how I first got to know the word. Thanks to X-Type for a fun puzzle and to the Numpties.

    1. A song title 15 letters long that’s neither in a straight line nor reading in the conventional way. Hope that’s not too cryptic!

      1. I couldn’t have put it better myself. If you have solved the identity of the composers and also got the title of the album, then look at the track listing and see if anything causes the penny to drop!😁

      2. Many thanks. I thought I had followed every letter sequence several times over but it seems I was distracted by the letters of some of those words occurring in proximity elsewhere.

  5. I solved my first ever Ev, I needed help, thank you The Numpties! I can stroke this one off my bucket list, looking forward to the next challenge, but the preamble still scares me when I read it.

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