This morning’s selection was a real no- brainer; it’s the song which gives the usual Sunday morning series it’s name.
But there’s another reason; the original of this song is one of my Dad’s favourite records, and today marks four weeks since he was admitted to hospital following his fall at home. And four weeks later, that’s where he remains.
Actually, that’s not strictly true, since this week he was transferred to a different hospital where he can receive treatment from a more specialised unit for one of the issues which has been identified. (Obviously, I’m not going to go into details here.)
This is a live version, taken from a recording of a 2013 concert at Union Chapel in North London, one of my favourite venues. Coincidentally, it as also recorded on my birthday, and so I can only assume it was before I joined their mailing list or I would have tried my damndest to have been there.
I haven’t really posted much Kris Kristofferson since his rather underwhelming appearance at Glastonbury a couple of years ago, when he seemed confusedabout where he was, what he was doing there, what song he was supposed to be singing, what the words were to it, each song just sort of tailing off rather than reaching any definite ending.
I went to see Kristofferson play in Bristol a few years before this 2013 gig, and really enjoyed what I saw, although I had to leave early (a long story, which I’ve gone into before on these pages sometime, so won’t bore you with it again). I’d reported back Dad that the gig had been alright, and so, when Kristofferson next came to the UK, off he went, Mum in tow.
I think it was on this 2013 tour that they saw him, but their experience was closer to the disappointing Glastonbury performance than to the one I has been to, however it led to one of Dad’s proudest moments when he called from the audience to prompt Kristofferson with the words “…someone frying chicken!” when he floundered at one particular moment.
Thankfully, although I have no idea how many takes it took, he just about manages to get through it unassisted here:
Regular readers may recall that a while ago I mentioned that a couple of my friends have had some mental health issues -as have I, in the past (hopefully) – and that I was happy that both felt they could talk about their issues with me.
Shortly after that, one of them contacted me to say that they had been reading *gestures with an air of futility around me* this thing that I do, and had been taking the time to listen to the songs I post. One had particularly impressed them, by Teenage Fanclub, and they confessed to me that they had always been baffled by my allegiance to them, but thought that they may have got them mixed up with The Boo Radleys, who they really didn’t like.
There are many differences between The Boo Radleys and Teenage Fanclub; not least, the worst thing that can happen to you whilst wearing a Boo Radleys T-Shirt is someone might mistakenly think you a fan of Harper Lee’s works; wearing a Teenage Fanclub T-Shirt, on the other hand, can get you banned from various parks and playgrounds.
Anyway, I tried to explain to them that they had the wrong opinion of The Boos, thinking that it might be based on their Britpoptastic breakfast show staple Wake Up Boo! This was not, I said, in the slightest bit indicative of their early work, and I promised I would post something more in keeping soon.
And so here we are, with a single from their magnificent Giant Steps album; like several others in this series, rather than being quiet, introspective, acoustic or bleepy, this falls just about in the “great cacophany of noise” bracket:
When the story of indie pop is written (if it hasn’t already been done) then The Brilliant Corners will be, in my mind, one of the most unjustly overlooked bands not to be mentioned.
Certainly, along with bands like The Chesterfields, they were pivotal in me breaking free from the shackles of “chart” music and listening to something just ever-so-slightly off the radar.
Their 1988 album Somebody Up There Likes Me is a lost jewel, packed as it is with witty (sometimes rude) observational lyrics about life on the breadlines, great pop hooks, parping brass and achingly cool (if slightly flat) vocals.
Technically – *technically* – I don’t need to write another one of these now. To the housebound and diary blind, simply refer back to this post for the next few days. I’m sure you can work things out from there.
As the lockdown continues, I had this vague idea that I’d start writing about my favourite albums, or all of the albums by my favourite bands (not Quo, don’t fret, although……..nah), and whilst I toy with that idea, and how to try to do it differently to people who have mused on the same topic before (presumably writing about their favourite albums rather than mine), I remembered a bit of live footage which I used to have on videotape of one of those bands performing songs from one of those albums.
And it occured to me that other than their debut album, released in 1983, but which didn’t even begin to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my radar until five or six years later, I own absolutely nothing else by them, despite them releasing their tenth album in 2019.
Even then, when I say “own” it took me an awfully long time to actually purchase a copy on CD; I picked that up in Cardiff’s Fopp, and that didn’t open until 2004, having survived with a copy on an old C60 cassette tape from 1989 until then. I was, it’s safe to say, long overdue in investing in a copy.
I speak, by the way, of Violent Femmes’ peerless debut album.
I’ve mentioned it before on these pages, but it’s one of those rare albums with not one duff track on it, each one an absolute pearl.
So how comes I’ve never bought anything else by them?
Well, I’d like to tell you that it was because I’d listened to some of their other releases and just not been fussed, that nothing they did could ever live up to that first record, and so I’d rather my opinion of them remained unblemished.
That’s close to the truth, but still not quite true. I think that, sadly, that first record reminds me of someone.
In my first year at college, before I started actually DJ’ing at it, I would regularly attend the bi-weekly Indie night, Funk Off (terrible name) and it was there, the first time I went, that I bumped into two girls who I recognised as being on my course. They recognised me too, and over the next few terms we got to become really good mates, sitting together in lectures and bars alike. They would always come and sit with me and my male friends at Funk Off, to the point where the boys would refer to me as “Jez MP”, the MP standing for Magic Penis. (Pure jealousy, of course: all this actually meant was that I knew some girls and they were unable to even speak to any.)
Anyway, as was my want when I was that age, I became moderately obsessed with one of them, and it was reciprocated to an extent; after a night out, she and I would retire to my room in the halls of residence, put a record on, turn the lights off and lay on the bed listening and smoking.
Nothing ever happened, for I knew I was firmly in the friend zone, and that any kind of move would not be appreciated. Which was lucky, as I had zero moves in my repertiore.
Come the summer holidays, and I was back at home when I was summoned one evening by my mother to the telephone in the hall. That’s where phones lived back in those days: out of the living room so nobody has to be disturbed by your bellowing conversation.
There was a girl on the phone for me – which seemed to surprise my mother more than me – and when I picked up, it was her, the subject of my unrequited obsession.
“I’ve just heard this record, and I had to call you because you’re going to love it,” she said, disregarding the tradition of saying “Hello” at the start of a conversation.
And then she proceeded to play the Violent Femmes’ first album down the phone to me, like my own personal Dial-a-Disc. When the first side finished, I could picture her – as I can now – cradling the receiver under her chin as she flipped the record over and let side two start.
Neither of us spoke throughout and when it finished she did the equivalent of rolling over and falling asleep: she just said: “Amazing, isn’t it? Better go, this is my parents’ phone” and hung up, leaving me to sit dazed trying to work out how I could sneak the equivalent of a post-coital cigarette without my parents noticing.
When term-time came around again, she thrust the aforementioned C60 into my hands the first time we met up again.
That’s what you want in a partner, isn’t it? Someone who hears something, thinks of you, and makes damn sure you know about it.
And that’s why I don’t think I have ever bought another record by the Violent Femmes: for nothing could be as perfect, so unexpected, so welcome, as my introduction to them.
Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes is a masterpiece, choc-a-bloc full with catchy tunes, sing-a-long lyrics, teenage angst, enough rude words as to offend your parents’ ears, and all played on acoustic instruments which would inspire wanna-be musicians to learn to play their songs. I rarely give money to buskers, but if ever I hear one playing Add It Up I will literally empty my wallet into their flat cap.
So here are my favourite songs from that album; like I say there isn’t a duff tune amongst the ten, so it’s quite tricky to just pick four or five out, but I’ll give it a go:
Which brings me to that live footage I mentioned earlier. Recorded at London’s Lyceum Theatre back in 1984, broadcast in the wee small hours on regional TV, this is Violent Femmes performing the opening salvo from that album, and demonstrating why, if you’re filming your own gig, it’s essential that you make sure the cameraman is a fan:
There’s something about that sleeve which made me hope that Mrs Thursday might turn out to be somehow linked to Mrs Jones. You know Mrs Jones, right? No, not she of Billy Paul’s Me & Mrs Jones fame. I mean the Mrs Jones name-checked in one of the finest rhyming couplets ever commited to vinyl:
Here we all are, sitting in rainbow
“Cor blimey, hello Mrs Jones! How’s your Bert’s lumbago?”
Until I got bored with writing a post a day a couple of weeks ago, Wednesday had developed into the place where I posted something “new”.
By “new” I generally mean an act that are new and up-and-coming, but today something new by a band who have been around for a while, but who I’d never heard of until this:
To me, a mark of a great record is when you hear the intro and mis-recognise it, believing it to be one record, but turns out to be something just as good, if not better, and you find that you’re not disappointed to be hearing a different song to the one you had anticipated.
For every time that Felony has cropped up on the radio recently, just for a few seconds my heart soars as I think they are about to play Spanky Wilson’s utterly wonderful version of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love.
But even though it turns out they’re not, and even though I love a bit of Spanky (stop sniggering at the back please!) I think I’m just as happy, if not more so, to be hearing The Allergies.
I mentioned in my post on Friday how I had read a lot of people saying how they were losing track of what day it is in these ‘lockdown’ times of ours.
I’m not entirely sure why they can’t just look at their phones to find out, but here we are.
Finally, I can genuinely say, hand on heart, that I’m ‘giving something back’.
For I can help with this. Not all superheroes wear capes.
So everyday this week, there will be a solid way for you to remember what day it is along with any of my usual stuff that I can be arsed to write (which, judging by the last couple of weeks, won’t be much).
Off we go then, and in case you’re still not entirely sure, today is Monday:
There are a few bands who take popular pop or rock songs and cover them in a country or bluegrass manner, Hayseed Dixis being the most famous. As one might expect with such projects, they often have very mixed results.
Here’s one by The Twang, lifted from AC/DC’s legendary Back in Black album. As I say, ordinarily I approach such things with great caution, but this is not bad at all:
If you’re struggling with the whole ‘lockdown’, then a tip for you: rather than having the mindset that you have been ordered to stay at home, try to convince yourself that it was entirely your idea in the first place.
To assist, here’s 70s dreamboat David Soul, although I suspect he has more than binge-watching the latest Scandi-noir drama on Netflix on his smutty mind:
There’s something rather puzzling about the dots after the the title of the B-Side of that, isn’t there? Is it supposed to be an open-ended statement for us to complete? (“Mary’s Fancy…” what? David? Pants?) Or perhaps it’s two drag queens chatting as Mary, of whom they do not approve, totters past.
Yeh, you’re right: I need to get out more. I’m trying not think about it. Have you not been paying attention?
Tucked away in those chart positions mentioned in my last post was one other single which didn’t quite make it to the #1 slot. But serendipitous times decree that the driving force behind said record and band, Dave Greenfield, also passed away this week.
The single in question was this, by far their biggest hit and the one most will remember them by, many blissfully ignorant that it’s a song about heroin addiction:
I never quite understood why The Stranglers got lumped in with the punk scene, they never seemed to fit there to me. For a start, they all seemed a little bit too old and educated. Lyrically, I get it, especially as another of their greats, No More Heroes, invokes revolutionary vibes. But other than that…nah.
But I loved The Stranglers; when I hit my teens The Collection 1977 -1982 was rarely off my turntable (me and my Greatest Hits fetish again), most notably this, which shows off Greenfield’s amazing keyboard technique, and which must surely make Clint Boon hang his head:
If you had asked me, twenty five years ago, who Florian Schneider was, I would have shrugged and told you I had no idea.
If you then went on to tell me that you were from the future (bear with me) and that the fifty year old me was really quite saddened to hear that he had died, I would probably have called the (time) police.
But such is life and death; for this week I was indeed saddened to hear of the passing of somebody who can truly be described as a musical innovator.
For Florian was a founder member of Kraftwerk, the German minimalist electro band. Moreover, he’s the one from the band that you recognise.
Describing Kraftwerk as a band doesn’t seem right somehow.
Pioneers. That’s better. For that’s what they were.
There are few artistes that you can confidently say changed the way music is produced, listened to and appreciated, but Kraftwerk unquestionably fall into that bracket.
I first encountered them, as I imagine so many others did, when this single went to #1 in the UK charts back in 1982:
At the time, I remember being baffled that this weird sounding thing had knocked Shaky’s Oh Julie off the number one spot. Back in the days when singles didn’t just go straight in at #1, it lumbered its’ way up the charts in a fashion that just doesn’t happen now (I guess: I can’t remember when I last checked in on The Charts,but that seemed to be how it was happening last time I looked). It spent just one week at the peak, replaced by The Jam’s Town Called Malice.
The even weirder thing about The Model was that the week before it hit the top slot, it had gone down from #2 to #3. This sort of resurrection simply never happened; once a record had hit its peak, that was it, done and dusted. Off down the charts you pop. (It was kept off #1 the first time around by Bucks Fizz’s The Land of Make Believe.)
But something about this Germanic foursome’s record buying public refused to give in.
I’m not sure when things finally clicked and I ‘got’ Kraftwerk. I guess it was sometime on the 1990s, or possibly even the early 2000s. I suspect it may have been when I finally got my hands on a copy of the NME 40th anniversary album Ruby Trax – where contemporary acts of the day were invited to record a cover version of a song which had been a #1 single – heard Ride cover The Model, and thought a) That sounds nothing like Ride; b) that’s really great but is it really that different from the original? and c) What have I been missing all these years?
I do know that I was desperate to see them on their 2005 Minimum/Maximum tour, but didn’t manage to get there for some reason or other. Probably financial, as I would think tickets for a Kraftwerk gig were prohibitavly, and justifiably, expensive.
So here, to mark Florian’s passing is footage from that tour. Clear some me-time in your diary and watch this, two hours of minimalistic magic (m)electronica:
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read people complaining a tedious number of numerous times on social media how, as we continue to stumble our way through ‘lockdown’, they find they are losing track of what day it is.
And just to cause more confusion, today, a Friday, is also, technically the May Day Bank Holiday Monday.
That’s right, Friday is the new Monday.
But worry not – this does not mean that immediately you think you’ve finished one week, the next sodding one starts. No, rest easy, weekends have not been cancelled. Not yet, anyway.
Many moons ago, probably when the Government thought they might need to rustle up some more jingoistic nationalism and Blitz spirit as the no-Deal Brexit they crave edges ever nearer (no, you’re right, I haven’t mentioned it for a while, have I?), some yahoo in a salmon shirt popped open their filofax and noticed that May Day – the Bank Holiday which traditionally falls on the first Monday of May – was due to take place on the Monday just gone, and that Victory in Europe Day (or VE Day) was today, the 8th May, and they wanted that to be a Bank Holiday for the nation too.
Actually, “too” isn’t quite right, for what they actually decided was that us oiks didn’t deserve to have two days off in the same week, so today became May Day instead.
If memory serves, the announcement was garnished with some florid explanation about how the economy couldn’t possibly withstand the idea of the majority of us taking two days off work in the same week. I’m sure, now that any public places where folks might want to gather to celebrate is closed, public gatherings cancelled, we’re all banned from standing within 6 feet of each other, and the Goverment is supposed to be furloughing thousands of businesses to keep them afloat, the irony of that decision isn’t lost on whoever made it. Could’ve let us have both and it wouldn’t have made a jot of a difference, would it?
I don’t want you to get the idea, however, that I don’t think VE Day should be celebrated, far from it. I think it is important that landmark military successes in our proud history are remembered. Plus, I have relatives who served in the armed forces (yes, I appreciate that does sound a little bit too close to “But! Some of my best friends are black/gay/Liberal Democrats…”) and I wouldn’t want them or any of their brothers-in-arms to think their work was not appreciated by yours truly.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to post Dire Straits’s Brothers in Arms.
I sort of remember having a lovely time attending VE celebrations in Cardiff Park many years ago, probably when it was the 50th anniversary.
I say “sort of” remember because I was, predictably, absolutely twatted.
I remember thinking how pleased all the drunks who usually lolled about in the park would be that several hundred chairs had suddenly been provided for them. Even more so that on this day they had something to sing-a-long with, rather than indulging in their second favourite past-time (third if you count sniffing industrial strength adhesives from brown paper bags, fourth if you count laying on your back zonked out on a combination of UHU and White Lightning) of just making up songs on the spot and singing them at anyone who cared to listen and a lot more people who didn’t.
For if memory serves, there was a real smorgasboard of entertainment laid on for us that day: an orchestra zipped through a selection of wartime hits, there was some opera, and I think Michael Ball probably sang. He has a tendency of turning up and doing that, whether he’s asked to or not.
And a bit of Ball is like catnip to your not-so-average sunburned Park drunk (“O! Mikey! Do Love Changes Everything, I fecking loves that one I does!”)
Anyway, to mark the day in my own sweet way, I give you this:
Towards the end of 2019, a quite intriguing record was released, featuring not one, not two, not three…ok, I’ll cut to the quick…but five generations of the legendary Carter Family.
The material included here comes from unreleased tracks by Mother Maybelle’s daughters June, Helen, and Anita, as well as a home recorded tape from the 1960s used by family members to share news among themselves.
The result is that members of the fifth generation are heard with their great-great grandparents as recordings on which original Carter Family members appear are seamlessly blended with contributions from later generations.
The results are a bit special; do yourself a favour and have a listen:
There’s a reason for that – and no, in case you’re concerned, it isn’t related to my Dad’s health (although at the time of writing he is still in hospital).
This is one of those posts which I’ve started writing and have no idea where it’s going, so bear with me.
I had a long chat on the phone the other day, and during that conversation the person I was chatting to mentioned they read this, and asked me how my stats were.
It was a trick question, for I had previously told them that I wasn’t interested in how many views or visitors this place has had anymore. And yet I was able to answer quite precisely. Which meant I was getting too fixated on that aspect of blogging, the chasing of numbers. And so I took some time out.
Saturday mornings, though, is almost traditionally where I have a rant about whatever’s going on in the world that yanks my chain. It used to be Brexit, but now it’s Covid-19, or more specifically the Government’s handling of it.
“Now is not the time to be apportioning blame!” howl the gammon-faced who habitually do just that. “Now is the time to come together to defeat the common enemy” they scream in a rare moment of lucidity, attempting to evoke some kind of Blitz-spirit, even though World War 2 and the current crisis are in no way comparable.
Ok. I won’t then. But let me know when it is okay to criticise the Government’s handling of the pandemic crisis and I’ll happily chip in. It’s clearly not the day when they missed their target of 100,00 tests a day by the end of April (goal posts moved: that was what the pledge was, but now it’s to have the capacity to test rather than to actually test).
And that’s why I’m slightly reticent about writing a political post today, for satirical behemoths – BBC1’s Have I Got News For You and BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz – have both aired; I’ve watched/listened to them both, so I worry I may be inavertently nicking a gag or a point from one of the more famous participants.
But the Goverment’s position – that they had achieved or nearly achieved the target – is just laughable. For the stats they announced failed to take into account those who were tested more than once, and included testing kits which had been posted out, rather than those which had actually been returned and tested.
The adjusted figures I have seen suggest a figure of around 714,000 per day was actually being tested. And that’s fine, that’s good: that’s better than 713,000 per day.
But here’s the problem: we don’t believe politicians any more. I mean, you only have to look at who our Prime Minister is to see that’s true. Nobody believes a word that Boris says, because it’s Boris and we all know his history as a liar, a serial philanderer, a bully, a Brexit flip-flopper until the moment suited him, and the most shamefully incompetent and yet self-promoting Mayor of London in history (OK, for the latter part I’ll give you Dick Whittington: say what you like about BoJo, he hasn’t got a pantomime named after him. Unless you count the Cabinet, of course. Boom! Satire! ) and yet we – and by we, I do not mean me – voted the tousle-haired absentee Latin-quoting shagger into office.
It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Janet Street-Porter, but I saw this the otherday and found myself nodding in consensual confirmation:
I mean, she’s right, isn’t she?
We may have a bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, absentee numb-nut in charge, but at least we don’t have this bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, (golfing) absentee numb-nut in charge:
I *love* the way he has to clarify the word “doctor” by prefixing it with the word “medical”. You know, like all those other kinds of non-medical doctors you might ask about this kind of thing.
The day after that press conference, there was a spike in the amount of people admitted to hospital in the US, having injected themselves with bleach in the hope of ridding themselves of any virus potentially coursing through their neanderthal veins. Cue the POTUS back-pedalling and claiming he was “being sarcastic” when he suggested it. Of course you were, Donny.
See, perhaps when you say something sarcastic that is no more ludicrous than many other things you say, you need to make it a bit more obvious that it wasn’t an instruction:
A thought: if someone is so stupid as to think that by injecting disinfectant directly into them is a good idea – and by which I actually mean not only believing but acting upon anything Trump says – aren’t these exactly the braying yee-haw rednecks we should celebrate being removed from the gene pool? (And a big hello to all my American readers!)
That’s why Trump back-tracked: not through any concern or remorse for people self-harming as a result of his *coughs* sarcastic words, but because he realised that only his supporters would be dumb enough to do it, and dead people can’t vote him back in. Although he’d probably find a way to allow it. As long as they weren’t black, obviously.
But I’m not talking about any of that today. (Yes, that was me not talking about it. Welcome to my world.)
Instead, let me take you back to November 2019, when regular readers may recall I had to decant from my flat into temporary accommodation in a Travelodge whilst some anti-subsidence works were done to my residence.
I always promised I would write about my time in this Partridge-esque setting, but truth be told nothing much happened which deserved comment. There was no breakfast and so no Big Plate – sorry, there was breakfast but it was “breakfast on the go”, so a scrambled egg bagel, a coffee and a fruity muffin (stop it!) all for the princely sum of £5.25 per day and nowhere to sit and eat it, so I declined it every day – and other than my key not working every now and then (actually, more now and also then), there was nothing much to report.
Look. Here’s the view from my room; this as exciting as my time there got:
Beautiful, right? If that’s not inspiring, then I don’t know what is.
When I finally returned to my flat, I found that the workmen had literally done as little as possible. They had started painting my kitchen, but gone no further than painting the borders. They had been instructed to obtain new lampshades for the Big Lights in the living room and bedroom, but had elected to just swap them in the hope nobody would notice. They installed a new curtain rail and curtain which left about six inches between bottom of curtain and bottom of one window. They didn’t bother covering anything when painting the rooms, so now my belongings – a fridge/freezer, a coffee machine to name but two – have paint spattered on them, as does the bathroom and kitchen floor.
Along with the spattered paint, several clues had been left throughout the flat to confirm they had ever even been there: numerous fag ends tossed on the floor; paint on the windows – not just close to the window frames, but sloshed across the pane like blood at a crime scene; sandpaper, paint and rolling trays nonchalantly left on top of the cooker, a box of black rubber gloves left on the mantlepiece.
Truth be told, that box of black rubber has subsequently saved me a couple of quid, since for the last month or so, the wearing of latex gloves has been demanded whenever leaving the boundaries of my residence.
Keen to observe goverment directives, (when they finally came) I ordered a surgical face mask, and was delighted when it arrived, for finally I could go outside without attracting the sort of glances usually reserved for serial killers and sexual deviants (I imagine).
Which was ironic for now I actually looked like a serial killer. Rocking the black latex gloves and surgical mouth-mask look gave me the appearance of popular 80s murderer Denis Nilson; whenever I ventured out I felt like I was en route to a serial killer-themed party.
Plus, I also found that every breath from my Covid-19 defiant, mask-covered mouth and nose caused my glasses to steam up. Any spectacles wearer who has walked into a crowded pub on a winter evening will know what I mean. Faced with the choice of inadvertently passing on a virus I don’t think I have or accidentally walking out into the middle of the road and the path of an oncoming bus, I chose the former.
And let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, that if there’s one thing worse than the disapproving looks you get for not wearing a surgical mask at all in public during pandemic times, it’s the looks you get for obviously having a mask but electing to wear it slung casually loose around your neck, rather than in place in front of your wheezing breath orifices.
I’m reminded of Rhod Gilbert’s encounter with the travelling chef on a train:
Time for an appropriate tune: Tina Turner’s Steamy Windows springs to mind, but I bloody hate that song, so instead, this:
Unusually, the album version is shorter than the single version; I was going to prove this by posting the video too, but there are a couple of sequences where young ladies’ clothes are blown off by the electric guitar playing of band frontman Jesse Hughes. It’s all a bit Benny Hill, nobody needs to see that, I thought. Although, to be fair, Hughes’ fretwork does also blow the clothes of pretty much everyone in the video, including Homme and Black too.
So instead, here’s a half-naked Jack Black performing his very graceful Quarantine Dance, which should keep you happy for the time being:
Whilst I’m trying to stay positive and upbeat – at here, at least – in the face of all that’s going on (global pandemics, parents in hospital, not being able to go out in the annoyingly glorious good weather), today was always going to be a difficult day for me and my friends.
Because today would have been Llŷr’s birthday, and so he’s on my mind even more so than usual.
I mean, I still think about him every day; sometimes, accidentally, I manage to forget he’s gone, or my brain tricks me into thinking he hasn’t, and then it hits me again when I remember, usually brought on by watching something on TV which sparks the memory.
Yesterday I sat and watched all of the second series of Ricky Gervais’s Netflix sitcom After Life, which probably wasn’t the smartest move, dealing as it does with the aftermath of Gervais’ character’s wife death from cancer.
It has it’s funny moments, although as with much of his comedy, it relies rather too much on trying to be shocking, or the use of the c-bomb. Some of the dialogue is a bit clunky, topics launched into with no build-up or introduction. But every now and then there are some truly heart-wrenching and spot-on observations about death, loss and bereavement that I found myself holding back at least one massive blub per episode.
One thing which I did like about it was the casting of two characters in particular, one a returning character from series one, the other newly introduced this series. I’ll not give any spoilers, but the two actors in question appeared in a sitcom as neighbours back in the 80s, where they flirted a lot despite one being married, and much to to her husband’s paranoid dismay. To reveal which sitcom I’m referring to would in itself be a spoiler, so I won’t, but if you’re a fan of British comedy then I’m pretty sure you’ll know what/who I’m talking about.
That 80s sitcom was one of Llŷr’s favourites; he bought the box-set and I would often walk into the liing room and find him doubled-up on the sofa in a fit of giggles watching it.
The Office, the series which shot Gervais to fame, first aired when we were living in the flat of filth, and I remember us tuning in to watch it. Later, it was revealed that many people had watched it not realising it was a sitcom, but we knew what we were buying into.
When I wrote the post just after Llŷr had passed, I mentioned the mass of videos containing clips and full shows he had recorded; there was one show which was probably buried amongst it, but which I’d never seen or even heard of before, not until one day when we were visiting our friend Mark and the show came up in conversation. The next thing I knew we were watching hours of the stuff that Mark had on tape.
I speak of Sky Star Search, a TV talent show hosted by Keith Chegwin (thankfully fully clothed), and judged by a rolling list of UK celebrities from the 80s and earlier: Cleo Rocos, Melvyn Hayes, Sheila Ferguson, Stan Boardman, Rusty Lee, Derek Nimmo, Bernard Manning, Paul King…
You get the idea of the calibre of the show, I think, from that roll-call. As for the contestants who appeared: imagine the early rounds of The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, the rounds where the truly terrible appear. And then imagine the contestants who were too awful to even make that round.
Actually, don’t just imagine: here’s some clips showing the standard of the contestants (and judges) who appeared:
…not forgetting this absolute classic, which for a while you watch and wonder if this is a Tommy Cooper riff, the awful magician act made funny:
And then those classic words:
“Robert, do you want a hand?”
“They’ve tied it too tight….”
A few months ago, was just after the anniversary of his passing, Mark and I were having a text conversation about Llŷr, part of which, with Mark’s permission, is here:
Mark and Llŷr DJ’d together once, in a bar the salubrious Splott area of Cardiff. It was a birthday party of someone Mark knew, I think. But it was in a bar, so I got there early enough to sneakily grab a table and get drunk offer moral support.
Here’s two of the records that I remember them playing that night; I’m not 100% sure who played which, but I could have a pretty good guess.
There was this, a favourite of mine and Llŷr’s (and probably Mark’s too; he came to see SFA a few times with us), often posted on these pages, complete with end-of-bridge to air-drum along to:
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank all of you who were kind enough to leave birthday and get well soon wishes to my Dad on Thursday. He’s asked me to pass on his thanks too, and described it as “…all a bit overwhelming, to be honest”.
As I write this, he’s still in hospital, although we’re hoping that he’ll be discharged if not today, then soon.
In the meantime, another song from the rich mine that is “Songs Which Can Only Be Country Records”.
It’s very important that I say a few things about today’s choice: firstly, released in 1965, today’s tune bucks the trend slightly in this category in that the title doesn’t quite reveal the full story, not in the same way as the previously featured You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly, and How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away? do. In an ideal world, it would have the next words in the song after the title – It’s Like Having You Around – included within the title. Put them in brackets if you like, Billy, but don’t give us half a joke title, man!
Secondly, don’t be fooled by the title, it’s quite the jaunty little number.
Thirdly, whether you elect to refer to today’s selection with or without those five extra words, my decision to post this today should in no way be inferred as any comment as to how my parents have been for the past week.
By which I mean announcing that you like this type of music but not that type. It’s never made any sense to me: why write off a whole music genre when there might, just might, be one or two records lurking in there that will float your boat?
The whole point of music is that’s it’s subjective, that no two people like exactly the same records, that there may be overlaps on the Venn Diagram but no two circles are perfectly aligned.
So generally, when asked to pin my colours to the mast, I’m reluctant to, partly for the reason above, but also because I’m aware that the “only guitar-based records are good” policy I pursued when I was younger led me to missing out on so much.
Looking back, I was still wary of announcing my position in any dispute even back then, although that was probably more to do with trying to avoid looking an idiot in front of my peers than anything else.
For example: why do I have to choose between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones? I don’t like them equally, but to have to choose between the two just seemed ridiculous.
Similarly, in the 1990s at the height of Britpop you had to be either Blur or Oasis. “Why?” I would ask anyone who pressed me. And, on the rare occasion when an answer was proffered it was invariably something along the lines of they very lame: “Because you have to!”
Erm, no I don’t. I liked some Oasis records, but a heck of a lot more Blur records. But I wasn’t going to stop listening to or buying one or the other through some misguided notion of faithfulness.
One way you can tell which of the two band were better is by looking at the output of the main figures after the band’s split:
Today, more new(ish) music (new to these ears anyway) which I’ve heard whilst working from home.
Jetta first received recognition in 2013 when her song “Feels Like Coming Home” was chosen as the soundtrack for the Google Zeitgeist 2013 – Year In Review (whatever that means) which gained more than 33 million views.
On no account should Jetta be confused with a certain model of car produced by Volkswagen: she is from Liverpool and comes in two and four-door saloon/sedan versions, and five-door wagon/estate versions – all as four or five seaters. Oh, hang on a minute…I see what’s happened here…
Ignore my rubbish jokes, and listen to this, which reminds me of SBTRKT and Little Dragon, both of whom you should also like if you have any sense:
On Easter weekend, I mentioned how, because of “the lockdown” it would be odd that I wouldn’t be travelling to visit my parents, which my brother and I do pretty much every year, not for any religious reasons, more for it being a long weekend and, crucially, generally around the time of my Dad’s birthday.
You can keep your St George’s Day celebrations today, your William Shakespeare was born and (because he couldn’t handle his beer) also died on this day, for this year, today, is my Dad’s 80th birthday, which probably would have warranted a second visit.
Before lockdown, when pressed as to what he wanted to do to mark his milestone, he insisted that he didn’t want any fuss. Which was lucky, because he’s not going to get any this year – at least not via close contact with any of his family, anyway.
And that includes my Mum, because this year, he isn’t going to be spending his birthday at home. Oh no. He’s in hospital, recovering from an operation.
On Sunday, my Mum called. This is not a common occurance. (Actually, that’s not strictly true. My brother and I have set times on set days that we call them to have a weekly catch-up, and if you’re as much as five minutes late, your phone will start ringing as the enquiries as to why you haven’t called yet begin. “I took a little longer in the toilet than expected, Mum. Shall I take the phone in with me next time?”)
Anyway, Sunday is not my day to speak to them, so I feared something was wrong. And it transpired that as he was cooking his breakfast that morning, he had inexpicably fallen over. He couldn’t get up again by himself, and my Mum, who is probably about half the size of him and has just had a hip-replacement operation herself, couldn’t manage it either. An ambulance was called, and off he went to hospital where a diagnosis of an acute fracture of the femur was given.
I don’t know, some people will do anything to get out of the house during lockdown.
Unless he has made a miraculous recovery, that’s where he will remain throughout his birthday.
So since I won’t be able to see him to wish him a Happy Birthday – or rather, as happy a birthday as it’s possible to have laid up in a hospital bed – I thought I’d share a memory, which looking back now, probably had a lot to do with my obsession with music later in life.
Growing up, evening meals at our house during the week were always taken at the table in the kitchen, but often Saturday’s evening meal (if there was nothing on TV, in which case it was eaten off trays on our laps in the living room) and definitely Sunday lunch, were served in the dining room.
Which makes our house sound remarkably grand, but it wasn’t really. I mean, it was a decent sized gaff; not long after we moved in in the mid-70s we had a loft conversion done at the front and an extension built at the back, and it was in the latter that the dining room was situated.
Here’s a photo of the old place, which just so happens to be my brother and I’s favourite picture of Dad, fag in hand, leaning nonchanlantly against the back of what we think was his first ever company car (a Vauxhall Cavalier – there’s posh!):
Anyway, after we’d finished eating on a Saturday night, we’d remain sat around the table, picking records to play from his collection. It’s a tradition which remains to this day when the family meets up, although these days tunes are played via an iPhone and bluetooth speaker rather than from his hi-fi system.
Inevitably, since my brother and I were forbidden from bringing any of our records downstairs – he’s not daft, he’d heard enough Quo blaring from upstairs as I tried to play my guitar along whilst simultaneously trying to perfect my ‘foot-on-monitor-rock-god’ pose to know that he needed to subject himself to no more – the same records would get picked every week, to the point where, after a few weeks I started compiling a chart.
Because generally the same records got picked every week, it wasn’t the most exciting chart to read, I’ll grant you. There was no Beatles v The Stones, no Blur v Oasis.
But one rivalry did spark up, oddly between two records by the same artist.
And that was because Dad would always pick the same record by this artist, and, after a fashion, so would I.
You know when you were a kid and, if you had a sibling, you would both be charged with doing the washing and drying up every now and again? And how the one doing the washing-up would often lay down a challenge: “I bet I’ll finish first”? And the dryer-upper would rise to the challenge, hurriedly drying each pot, plate and pan, blissfully ignorant that the washer-up had to finish before the dryer-up because that’s the order that things get finished in? I say this like it’s a rhetorical question, but this definitely happened in our house, and no I wasn’t the one doing the washing-up.
The same principle applied here: having compiled the chart and established that Dad’s weekly selection was miles ahead, I started picking the same record every week, determined to catch him up, hoping that he would forget to play the resolute Number One. And of course, every week, after I’d played my choice, Dad – and he might let me think he’d forgotten for a record or two afterwards – would play his choice and I’d have a bit of a sulk and would vow to return the following week, surely to be triumphant when next we would joust.
When I mention the name of this artist, a couple of his best known records will spring to mind, and don’t get me wrong, they’re great, great records, but a bit…I dunno…’comedy’. The record I used to choose every week pretty much fell into this category, but the one Dad chose most certainly did not.
They’re both by an artist who is often cited as an influence by bands and musicians who came through in the late 50s and early 60s: as well as having an effect on the likes of The Beatles and Jimmy Page, in the 70s he released an album where his backing band comprised of Elton John, Ronnie Wood, Brian May and Ringo Starr. He later toured with Van Morrison, which displays far greater levels of tolerance than perhaps he had previously been credited. The Wedding Present have recorded a cover version of one of his songs. There’s doubtless many more who would cite him.
I speak, of course, of Lonnie Donegan, who I found out when researching this, died in my home town of Peterborough. It has that effect on people.
It’s a shame that he is mostly remembered for his ‘novelty’ records, for “My Old Man’s a Dustman” and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” and this, the record which I chose every week:
I don’t think he would argue too much if I said that was his favourite record.
And after today, annoyingly, it still remains top of the charts.
Dad: I know this might sound weird given where you are, but happy birthday. I’m so sorry that we can’t be with you today. When all of this is over, and you’re allowed home, and we’re allowed to visit, we’ll have a bloody good drink. Deal?
And if any of you are nice enough to want to wish him a happy birthday too, there’s always the Comments, and, rather than calling him Jez’s Dad, his name’s Den. That would be quite a lovely thing for you to do.
At least so I thought; do you remember a few years ago, The Third Degree released a cover of Duffy’s Mercy, and it sounded so authentic many thought it was the original and Duffy’s version was a cover? Well, I was reminded of those records the other day when I heard this from the Dap-Dippin’ with… album:
I was sort of familiar with some of the late Miss Jones’ work (they have featured on these pages before), and if I’m not mistaken, the Dap-Kings also used to perform and record with Amy Winehouse, but somehow this particular gem had escaped me.
What I did know about Jones was that she had a reputation for producing barn-storming cover versions, and this is just one from her canon. For the sake of clarity, Dip-Dappin’ with… came out in 2002, so Jackson’s version is definitely the original.
Although, were he still around, Prince would apparently disagree with me…
Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday; I could have sworn I wrote something over the weekend to feature in the usual I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, but apparently not. I think I decided after writing The Chain that I just couldn’t be bothered, which, given the supposed inspirational, motivational theme of the series is a tad ironic.
Anyway, I’ll try to combine the two, with this rollicking opening track from one of my favourite records ever. The title, however, may be a little inappropriate for these times, but since it clocks in at a mere 1:47 it’s perfect for here, and allows us to look forward to the day when we’re allowed out to have any kind of stroll at all, be it of the Rockin’ or just Plain variety.
Imagine it’s January 10th and you’re about to send an email. Do you still include that bit where you wish the recipient all the best for the coming year?
Similarly, I long for the days when I don’t have to start every email I send with the phrase Hope you and yours are keeping safe and well (or some varient thereof).
I mean, I do hope they are. Mostly. Okay, occasionally. (Never.)
I’m trying to keep things round here as upbeat as possible. You’ve probably noticed.
So whilst the album title that today’s tune is lifted from could be considered ironic in these days of lockdown, or at the very least read with a world-weary sigh, here’s a song which doesn’t try to pretend to be anything other than a dumb, fun trip down Yee-Haw lane:
I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that there’s nothing which can’t be improved by the addition of The Muppets.
Doctors and nurses may not have sufficient, or even the right kind of, PPE to be able to protect themselves from the virus while they work, but give them a furry puppet with ping pong balls for eyes, and maybe they’ll be ok?
In the same way that Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way has been culturally reassessed over the past few years (it’s a great record, always has been), so some other pop records from the same period should rightly be reappraised.
I got quite excited the other day, when I went into my Drafts folder and saw this title.
“Zut alors!” I exclaimed, thinking that I must have at the very least started writing the next installment of The Chain. And that I was French or German or whatever that language is.
But no, my laziness and ineptitude was laid out there before me, for all I had done was write the title, and that was it. Classic me, if my deadline nightmares are anything to go by.
Anyway, hello, and welcome back to the latest in what is turning out to be an increasingly infuriating occasional series: The Chain.
But at least it’s here, right? We all need distractions and things to think about at the moment, things to fill the time, and surely there’s no finer way to spend some time than reading what folks from all around the world can link to one particular song. It’s what Covid-19 was invented for, surely.
A brief reminder for those new to the shnizz we get up to here: we’re working our way through the songs played on The Chain section of Radcliffe & Maconie’s 6Music show, coming up with alternative suggestions, and listening to them all instead of just the one (Mrs Wembley). 80s sitcom gag, there, to help you acclimatise to the level of writing you can expect should you venture further.
I used to write these once a week, but then couldn’t be arsed lacked inspiration for a year or so, brought it back and suddenly find myself wondering where the days/weeks have gone and how it’s got to the point where I really should have written it by now has arrived.
Anyway, blah blah blah poor old me….let’s be off.
This episode, just to be different, we’re not going to start with the source record from last time. Well not quite, anyway.
No, instead, we’re going start with the first part of one of Rol from My Top Ten‘s suggestions:
The album version of Tubthumping opens with an inspirational quote from the great Pete Postlethwaite, taken from the movie ‘Brassed Off’…
Dammit, it’s done my head in for years trying to remember where I recognised that from! Cheers, Rol!
Before we go any further with Rol’s suggestion, I’ll hand you over to one of the two people who insist on emailing me (which is fine, by the way) their suggestions rather than popping them in the Comments section:
You may recall that last time out The Great Gog got a little obsessed with the county of Hampshire. And rightly so: if Hampshire had a church steeple with a 123-metre spire, then them pesky Ruskies would be queuing up to smear Novochok all over it and any corporate Italian restaurant chain in the immediate vicinity (I’m nothing if not topical).
Anyway, things don’t appear to have changed much in the Land of the Gog:
The album containing Tubthumping is Tubthumper.
Thumper is a rabbit in the animated film Bambi.
There are lots of cartoon rabbits in the animated film Watership Down.
Watership Down is set in some Hampshire fields – which could take us all the way back…
Is it too early to be handing out points for Comments Showboating? I think not: POINTS!
By the way, I’m not going to post the Points Table every time I write one of these, as nothing much will change from one post to another. It’d be like looking at any sports league table over the past four weeks. I’ll update things and do it every couple of posts or so.
Or…The Great Gog continues…stretching the link to breaking point (You’re by no means the worst cuplrit, fill your boots)…given my ramblings above…[this] would seem appropriate:
Next up, over to The Robster from the annoyingly still dormant Is This the Life blog who offers this:
All I could come up with is Get Up by R.E.M. but I’m sure I can come up with something else given time. Probably got, what, 18 months before the next installment? which is a bit rich, coming from the man who only posts anything at the end of the year. Go on click that link to his blog, let’s see if we can’t get him back in action. Your country needs you, Rob!
I posted the album version of this song not so long ago in my I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, so here’s a slightly different version, a live one, which pops up as one of the bonus tracks on the Collector’s Edition of the Shiny Happy People CD single.
But since the band themselves have practically disowned that single (guitarist Peter Buck once described it as “relentlessly upbeat” and also said “If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing”) maybe we should too; it’s notable for it’s absence from many of the Greatest Hits compilations, despite it being their =4th biggest hit in the UK (after, in reverse order: Leaving New York (#5), E-Bow The Letter (#4) and The Great Beyond (#3))
They weren’t so embarrased by it that they declined to do this, though (and who could blame them: would you turn down the chance to appear with the Muppets on Sesame Street???)
I love that the female vocalist is a Muppet who looks like Kate Pierson from The B-52s who, as you all know, provided the additional vocals on the single.
But I digress: this version is neither the album version nor the tucked-away-on-a-limited-edition-CD single version, but one I *coughs* obtained from a long gone and much missed blog called (I think…) The Independence of Tractors (long-time bloggers and blog followers may be able to jog my memory….I’m thinking of featuring this soon and would like to accredit, so if anyone has any info….y’know….), who once posted the whole of the band’s Tourfilm DVD as a series of mp3s:
I got a bit worried when you mentioned Jarvis and his controversial stunt at the Brits as I remember whose expense it was at. But no, it was our friendly water boys who if I remember correctly soaked Two Jags Prescott. Sticking to my Scottish band theme I’m therefore going to go with The Waterboys for the next link and sticking with my “water” theme in this comments box, the song….
Since we’re on Prescott, indulge me for a moment with my two favourite clips involving him. The first isn’t really about him, but it is from a documentary he made back in 2008 called Prescott – The Class System And Me:
I guarantee you, she voted Brexit.
And then there’s this notorious clip:
In his defence: a) what would you do if someone chucked an egg at you? and b) later (admittedly when he’d had time to get someone else to write a witty response think of something clever to say, he came up with this: “Well, Tony Blair asked me to go out and connect with the electorate….”
Anyway, that leads me to my next suggestion of the week:
Over now to Martin from New Amusements who proffers this Prescott related…um… jewel, I guess:
Like George, I’m going with a John Prescott connection, but hope to craft mine into a Double Linker. Yes, Danbert Nobacon once up-ended an ice-bucket over John Prescott at the Brits, but John Prescott was also memorably once replaced on ‘Have I Got News For You’ with a tub of lard, so I can surely claim a double link to Tubthumping for anything lard-related, so I’ll pitch:
He’s not done yet: …which, lest we forget, featured Marc “Lard” Riley. Since this is also about drinking, much like Chumbawumba’s chorus, could this be a Triple Linker? And maybe a point for worst suggestion of the week?
I don’t think I can refuse, can I, dear reader? It’s unquestionably the worst record of the week (POINT!) and he has managed to get a triple link out of this, the first time this has happened as far as I can recall (Ermmmm…points, I guess….).
I think we need to cleanse our palate a little, and remind ourselves that Martin could easily have dodged the sub-Barron Knights tosh that is The Shirehorses by referencing it and then directing us to this:
If that’s not a double-linker, than I don’t know what is.
Well, yes, Yes it is. POINTS!
Anyway, for continuity purposes, take a step back. If You Tolerate This… was the band’s first #1 single in the UK (I’m sure this can all be traced back to a shared cheese salad…) and it contains the line “Well, if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists”, which leads me to another draft post of mine which I never got round to finishing. And neither Chas nor Dave are anywhere in sight.
This one even had a semi-clever title: “You’re Not The One For Me, Fascist”.
I’ll hand over to the ever wonderful Charity Chic to explain:
Chumbawumba recorded a song with Credit to the Nation called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’…
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow a suggestion which was simply “X recorded the source record, and they also recorded this”, but since this was a collaboration with the frankly quite marvellous Credit to the Nation, I’ll let it slide.
Plus: Charity Chic has a point to make:
….Morrissey (who may or may not be a Nazi) – he continues (“Not my words, the words of Top Gear car magazine!”) had a song called:
…And he is a bit of a tub these days who could probably do with a good thumping…Charity Chic signs off.
Just in case you’re not sure what CC is banging on about, or on which side of the fence you should be sitting when it comes to the whole “Is Morrissey a racist?” question, well I’ll leave you to make your own mind up.
And here to help you is a picture of him performing live on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:
And here’s a close-up of the badge he’s wearing on his lapel:
In case you’re not familiar with it, and I hope you’re not, that is a For Britain badge.
For Britain are not nice people.
Oh my, indeed.
Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to Morrissey, which you are welcome to adopt: yes, when he was in The Smiths he made some inflammatory comments in interviews, but none of them leaked into his lyrics. Since The Smiths split and he went solo, they have. Regularly.
So: The Smiths – fine to still express love and admiration; Morrissey solo – tread carefully.
Which leads me to a suggestion from Jules of Music From Magazines fame, which *checks notes* I’m disqualifying becuase *checks notes*…well, I’m not sure why to be honest, but I am and that’s that:
Carrying on with the high five, Mel Brooks ‘Hitler Rap’
Ah now, I remember; in response to Charity Chic’s anti-Moz post, Jules responded: A high five for that and I don’t think that’s enough to allow it.
Yes, I am a strict Taskmaster, and yes, Greg Davies, watch your back!
What else have you got, Jules?
As I am a tad partial to a cider drink or eight anything I suggest at closing time will make sense….
Well, long time readers of The Chain will know that certain things crop up repeatedly. For sure is eggs is eggs, someone will suggest either a record by The Clash or Bruce Springsteen just to annoy George, and Jules will suggest something by Lambchop.
No, not that Lambchop….
So let’s unclasp the shackles and let Jules free; I have to say that I almost rejected all that you are about to enjoy, until I thought about his first suggestion a little harder:
Any crossword fan would see the anagram “wham bam Cuba” and the country’s name was nailed by the Gibson Brothers:
Now, let’s be honest: every time we’re unlucky enough to hear that, all we can really think of is this:
…Dave Grohl left the drum stool, strapped on a guitar and became Mr Foo…which sounds like a George Formby record (“Oh Mr Foo, what shall I do…? A niche joke, I know), but I’ve gone off at enough tangents, so we’ll leave that.
This song has featured in The Chain before so strictly speaking should be disqualified, but looking back I see that both this and The Rezillos version were suggsted at the same time, and, unable to choose between the two, I posted both. So I’ll let this slide too…but only so I can post my favourite record about somebody getting their head kicked in:
…link being Chumbawamba covered this on the “Fuck EMI” compilation.
Which leads me back to The Robster, who hasn’t quite had the eighteen months he ribbed me with earlier to think things over, but nonetheless has returned with this:
I remember when Tubthumping came out, it was released on EMI *shock-horror* a filthy major label. The band was deluged with accusations of selling out and going back on its DIY ethos. But one of the reasons they signed to EMI was because previous label One Little Indian rejected the ‘Tubthumper’ album as they didn’t like its sound. The band subsequently signed to EMI as “…experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn’t have the evil symbolic significance of EMI but they were completely motivated by profit. Our position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we’d battle for a contract where we still had autonomy.”
So to that end, I’m offering up…a song about the music industry’s obsession with making moolah with little regard for the art:
We’re on the home stretch now, I promise. And with the finish line in sight, the baton is thrust into Alex G’s hand:
Of course, a song about a man who drinks a whiskey drink, a cider drink, a lager drink AND a vodka drink naturally leads us to Shane MacGowan. I suppose any song would do, but just to keep the theme going, it may as well be…
What Alex G omits to mention is that That Woman’s Got Me Drinking features the guitar work of one Mr Johnny Depp. When he’s not acting in the latest Tim Burton movie, or appearing in an advert for something smelly, or getting stopped at the border of an antipodean country trying to smuggle dogs across and subsequently being forced to make an apologetic if half-arsed video rather than go to jail, or defending himself against allegations of domestic abuse for that matter, there’s nothing Mr Depp likes more than to pop up in unexpected places:
Where were we?
Ah yes, booze related songs. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of these. Let me chuck one into the mix:
Two famous song titles are more or less quoted in the lyrics of ‘Tubthumping’ – the first one being ‘Danny Boy’, which, as we all know, is the Anthem of Northern Ireland. And what is the finest thing Northern Ireland ever produced, apart from ships (minus the Titanic. Obviously)?
Alas it’s not [I know] (although, Jez, nevertheless this should be a good excuse to include said tune in your essay straightaway), because, as I said, another song is being mentionedand that is ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’. Yes, I have noticed that Chumbawamba omit the ‘Argentina’ – bit (and replace it by ‘next door neighbour’). But this is purely for copyright infringement reasons, I’m sure.
Now, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is a song done by Julie Covington back in 1976. But only (freaks like) you and me know this. And Wikipedia. To the wider public another version is much better known, and that’s the one by Madonna from 1997.
So the link, no question about that, is, to my great dismay (because I would have LOVED to see my other option), Madonna’s version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’.
I mean, love ya for trying and all that, but it isn’t the link, and frankly Covington’s version pisses all over Madonna’s attempt, so Dirk: you shall (metaphorically) go to the (metaphorical) ball!
Brassed Off was on Film 4 the other night. It remains a thing of beauty. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, and have a couple of hours to kill (which, I think I’m safe in saying we all do at the moment) then you could do a lot worse than spend them watching this: it’s up to stream on the C4 app All4.
And that leaves just one thing: the unveiling of the next link in The Chain, and trust me, had anybody got this I would have been suspicious.
Here’s the official link from Tubthumping to the next record:
[Tubthumping] was once sung by Homer Simpson of cartoon fame. He also sang:
Your suggestions then, please, along with your explanation of how your suggestion links to Mellow Yellow by Donovan, via the Comments section below or, if you must, by email to email@example.com.
Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.
And one which involves a clever play on words or a pun inevitably has me applauding with admiration.
This is definitely not a new series, but this, which contains an absolute belter, came up on my shuffle the other day, and frankly I needed an excuse to post it, so here we are.
And yes, I know the phrase I’m referring to is a play on words rather than a pun, but I needed a snappy title. Deal with it.
I’m more of a fan of Lily Allen as a person than I am as a musician, as it goes, but that belies the fact that she has come up with some absolutely great pop tunes, particularly on her first two albums, Alright, Still and It’s Not Me, It’s You.
This was the lead single from her second album, It’s Not Me… and it’s really rather fine, dealing as it does with her sudden promotion into the spotlight and all the problems that brings with it, the reputation she had, deserved or not.
Oh by the way, that Parental Advisory label you can see on the cover is there for a reason; if you’re unlucky enough to be self-isolating and have kids to consider, then maybe wait until they’re out of earshot before playing this (I wish the label warned of “Effing and Jeffing” but sadly I don’t make the rules):
In a rare example of me being ahead of the curve, I’d not only heard of but had seen Manic Street Preachers a good while before they got anywhere near being famous.
For they had played as a support act at a gig we put on at the Students’ Union.
This was in the year before I became Social Secretary, and so I had nothing to do with them being booked.
And I can’t pretend I was in slightest bit enamoured with them when they did play; I can’t put my finger on quite how I came to this opinion, but I was pretty sure that at least 50% of the four-piece band were miming.
A few months later, when I had taken up my elected post, I was told that we had the chance to book them again.
“Absolutely not”, I said. “They were awful last time they played here, and I can’t see them having got any better.”
Oh, how wrong can a man be.
The Entertainments Manager, who had the final say over who got booked and who did not, decided – rightly, wisely – to ignore my input.
And so, the Friday night they were booked to headline (I say headline, obviously my indie disco was the main draw) rolled around, and as the crew set up, I was charged with looking after the talent, and on this occasion this meant taking them to the college refectory for some food.
We queued with the rest of the students, the band fitting in pretty well to be fair, and then we sat, the four of them with their bordering-on inedable meals in front of them.
Richey noticed I didn’t have any food. “Why aren’t you eating?” he asked.
“Budget doesn’t extend to me, just you chaps,” I replied.
“Have you eaten today?” (I was a lot thinner then than I am these days, or he probably wouldn’t have asked.)
“No, I’ll get a bag of chips on the way home.”
He pushed his plate into the middle of the table.
“Here, have some of mine”, he said, and so it was that I shared a cheese salad with Richey Manic. (Sharing a Cheese Salad with Richey Manic so nearly ended up being the name of this blog.)
This in no way colours my reappraisel of them when they played that night, but everything clicked and fell into place, I suddenly got them. And if they had been miming the first time, they definitely weren’t miming now.
In the years after, when I was working in retail in Cardiff, I sold Nicky Wire the entire Echo & The Bunnymen back-catalogue, and James Dean Bradfield some athlete’s foot powder (in different shops, of course).
But I never again crossed paths with Richey, who went missing a few years later in 1995, never to be found again. He was pronounced “presumed dead” in 2008.
Motorcycle Emptiness remains their finest moment, but for my money this remains them at their most angry, visceral and magnificent. Lyrics all by Richey (I think!):
Today, I’ll be straying into the land of La La La, rather than the usual Ba Ba Ba’s you find in this occasional series. And with good reason.
For yesterday, the terribly sad news came that Tim Brooke-Taylor had died due to Covid-19.
Growing up in the 1970s, Tim was, along with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, an absolute hero of mine, for he was one of The Goodies.
You will often hear people say that ground-breaking, anarchic, anti-establishment comedy started with the likes of Not The 9 O’Clock News, or Spitting Image, or The Young Ones. But they’d be wrong, for the irreverance and disregard for form came a few years earlier with the hirsute threesome.
And just like The Young Ones did a few years later, The Goodies exploited their popularity by releasing a few singles, one of which I had bought for me, and which got played a lot, probably long before I was aware of the original:
I was switched on to The Goodies because I used to listen to repeats of I’m Sorry, I’ll Say That Again when I was a kid; a radio sketch show predominantly featuring Tim with John Cleese and fellow Goodie Grame Garden, amongst others.
More recently, I had reconnected with Tim via his regular appearances on I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, the anti-panel panel show, now hosted by Jack Dee and which I cannot recommend you listen to enough, next time it crops up on the BBC Sounds app (which, given yesterday’s sad news, cannot happen quickly enough).
One of the many absolute highlights of the show – apart from the deeply unfathomable (and deliberately so) Mornington Crescent round – is the round where contestants are asked to sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of a completely different one.
Here’s an example, Tim singing The Smiths’ Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiny Tim’s Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips:
He’ll be sadly missed round these parts: rest in peas, Tim.
Technically, since the purpose of this series is to give us all impetus to get up and out of bed at the start of another working week, there’s no need for me to write one of these today, Bank Holiday Monday as it is.
But those of us lucky enough to be a) working from home and b) not considered to be a key worker, there’s no rush today.
(By key worker I don’t just mean those working in the NHS – I mean them, of course, just not just them – I mean all those who are continuing to work throughout the current corona-crisis: our retail workers, stocking the shelves and then apologising when they’ve run out of bread, pasta, rice, toilet roll (although, is it just me, or have things been getting better on this front recently?); or postmen and women, diligently delivering all the crap we’ve bought online when bored/drunk/delete as applicable; our refuse workers, carrying away all of the packaging which encases the stuff we’ve bought etc etc etc.)
So, today, a balls-out 70s classic, guaranteed to make you want to shake your booty.
Ok, so it’s lyrically “of it’s time” and most definitely not on point with the whole #MeToo movement.
And strictly speaking, it’s a late night song. Well, it is for me anyway.
Back when I lived in Cardiff, I would often frequent Barfly on either a Friday or a Saturday night, a teensy tiny little indie venue, downstairs in a place opposite the castle that stayed open until or 2 or 3 in the morning. I’ve no idea if it’s still there or not, but I loved going there. Often there would be a band on, and I saw many wonderful acts there: Young Knives, The Dears, Graham Coxon, Cud, (ahem) Jet. Loads more that I can’t recall right now. (But yeh, I did remember Jet. Suck it up.)
Anyway, obviously there was the obligatory indie disco when bands weren’t playing, and, as the night went on and the club emptied I would inevitably sidle up to the DJ and ask him if he had his last record of the night sorted yet. He, equally inevitably, would look at me totally non-plussed and tell me he hadn’t. He didn’t need to ask what I was going to suggest, not because he knew what it would be, just that there was a request coming.
“Well, can I make a suggestion….?” I would proffer, and since by this time the venue had practically emptied, leaving just me, a couple of bearded alcoholics propping up the bar and taking full advantage of the late-night serving, and a gaggle of goths at the back of the room, none of whom were likely to dance, he would (inevitably, wearily) say: “Go on….”.
And I would suggest this record, and he’d play it, and I’d spend the last 4:40 seconds of my night out (excluding walking home or trying to flag a taxi down time), whirling around an otherwise empty dancefloor, trotting out every rock’n’roll trope you could name.
It’s a song which has more false endings than the bloopers reel on Smokey and the Bandit, so a new homage would commence with each: Pete Townsend’s helicopter whirl? Check. Chuck Berry’s duck-walk? Check. Quo’s legs astride heads down head-bang? Check. Morrissey’s finger-holding-hearing-aid-in-ear-whilst-brandishing-imaginary-gladioli? Check.
Well, on Sunday, The Queen addressed the nation. 24 million people watched.
I wasn’t one of them. Not a big fan of the Royals, me.
I want to make it perfectly clear that, having read the transcript of her message, I have no problem with it. (This is merely an opening clause, bear with me.)
Turns out I didn’t need to watch it, because both the mainstream and social media were all over this. It was a timely reminder, it seems, on a weekend when various parks were closed because people weren’t using them in line with the current rules.
The current rules are not complicated: the parks – presently – are there for people to get their daily permitted exercise, provided they socially distance themselves from others doing the same thing.
So, if you decided to go and have a picnic or sunbathe: you’re a dick and you’ve spoiled it for everybody.
Speaking of dicks, later that evening it was announced that Boris Johnson had been admitted to hospital with the coronavirus. And suddenly, my timeline on Twitter was awash with people wishing him well, hoping and praying for a speedy recovery.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish the man dead. But this is the same man who only weeks ago was boasting about visiting hospitals and shaking hands with coronavirus sufferers, willy-wanging about how he wouldn’t stop doing this; who implemented a plan of allowing the virus to spread through the country so that we could develop “herd immunity”.
A policy which leads us here, to where we are today (I’m writing this on Friday, so this will have changed in the interim), with 65,077 confirmed cases, of which 7,978 have died.
I’m not claiming that all of those deaths were avoidable, but some of them definitely were.
And then we were asked to #clapforBoris, a most unfortunate hashtag, given his legendary if unfathomable reputation as a pork swordsman.
I don’t know of anyone who did this; the only footage I’ve seen was on The Telegraph website, depicting folks clapping and cheering, which turned out to have been filmed two weeks earlier, actually depicting folks clapping and cheering the NHS.
So, no: I don’t wish Boris dead. But I’m definitely not going to applaud the venereal old warthog, and I certainly wouldn’t shed a tear if he died as a result.
Oh no, wait: maybe there would be some tears, because it seems that if Boris did croak, Dominic Raab would be in charge.
That’s Dominic Raab, he of restricted understanding, who announced that he didn’t fully understand that the UK is an island, that Dover is a port, and that France is our nearest trading partner.
There’s so much to say about how thick Raab is, but I’ll let the master of takedowns do it:
Anyway, in Boris’ enforced absence, Raab has been hosting the daily updates, and – credit where credit’s due – has been championing the work of our keyworkers, the NHS staff on the frontline.
Have they got proper PPE yet? Or enough ventilators? I’m not sure. Probably not. But champion them he did.
Many of them the very people that Priti Patel wants to have removed from the country.
Ah, Priti Patel. I should add something about all that the Home Secretary has said or done in the past few weeks, but she hasn’t been seen for ages. Just what you need at a moment of national crisis. But as I write this, she seems to have re-emerged, giving a speech about how the police should just chill out a bit.
And then there’s Matt Hancock. Matt Hancock is such a mouth-breather I’m surpised he isn’t hoovering up all the Covid-19 droplets on his own. In a “Who looks the most gormless?” competition, he would potentially only be beaten by former snooker player Neil Foulds. Or Baldrick.
Schnozzeling up all the bad droplets would be a good thing here: we already know he has super-human qualities, given that he self-isolated for just three days – in direct contravention of the Government’s policy – after he began displaying some of the virus related symptoms.
But anyway, Hancock popped up at the start of the week moaning about how much professional footballers are paid, and saying that they should be contributing more to help the NHS.
Now I don’t disagree that professional footballers are paid way too much, but – Thatcherites take note – the market is what the market is. But they’re a bit of an eaasy target here. Why single them out and ignore…oh, just off the top of my head…Google, Amazon, Starbucks and Vodafone, all of whom avoid paying billions into the public coffers, or any of the billionaires who donate to the Conservative party? It seems spectacularly selective at best.
And let’s not forget that Hancock also said this week that now is not the time discuss increasing health workers’ pay. Actually, now is exactly the right time to discuss it. And this was particularly rich, given that MPs were told they could claim an additional £10,000 in expenses for working from home. I’ve been working from home for almost three weeks, where’s my extra ten grand?
Which brings me back to Our Liz. (See? I told you to bear with me.)
Why is the Royal Family not taking a hit here? The monarchy cost British taxpayers £67m during 2018-19, a 41% increase on the previous financial year.
They won’t be travelling abroad much, if at all, in 2020. There’s a saving there, right?
Two of them, and their child, have just renounced their position, moved to Canada and been told they will no longer receive payouts from the public purse. So what’s happening to that money?
And is Prince Andrew still getting his full whack, despite everything? I know his birthday party was cancelled, bless him – there was a balloon sculptor booked and that’s his favourite – but are we still funding the (alleged) paedophile? Is Woking branch of Pizza Express that close to bankruptcy we have to make sure he can visit there as often as possible?
But they bring in so much revenue through tourists, is the usual defence that gets trotted out in such arguments. Not this year, they won’t.
We should be getting some money back off them, surely?
So forgive me if, when I read the words of the Queen’s broadcast to the nation, where she evokes the Blitz spirit, and asks us all to come together and act appropriately to overcome the common enemy, and then I read how wonderful her speech was received, I just think of this.
It may have escaped your attention, in these weird days of self-isolation and lockdown, that it’s Easter Weekend, news that would normally be greeted with great joy since it hails every working person’s favourite type of weekend: the four day one.
But not this year.
I’ve been working from home for the past couple of weeks, and all this means is that in the same way that I wouldn’t normally go to the office until Tuesday, this year I don’t have to go to my living room for the same period.
Which will make this weekend seem even longer than it will already feel.
Some other traditions won’t be observed this year; for example, ordinarily I would go and spend the weekend with my parents, but that’s off the menu now. Easter usually falls close to my Dad’s birthday – it doesn’t this year, but I doubt I’ll be able to visit him when it does happen later in the month, and this is particularly frustrating this year, as he celebrates a significant milestone this year. More of this a little nearer the time.
In the meantime, one tradition which lives on: that I post this song every Good Friday.
In the late 80s, around about the same time as The Smiths split up, major record labels began to look around for the next big thing.
And when they found an act that was getting any sort of traction with “the kids”, they signed them up, shoved them into a studio and got them to churn out an album that was nowhere near as good as they had been when they were on a teeny little indie label.
At least, that’s how it seemed to us at the time; these bands had sold out, taken the corporate dollar, and everything they would release from that point had no artistic value whatsoever.
I can look back now and see just how naive that viewpoint was: what band, when the majors came calling, wouldn’t shake their hand? Of course you would. You don’t know how long your shelf life is, so take the cash whilst it’s there, and hope your contract is good enough that you don’t have to pay everything back to them.
That said, there is definitely a correlation between acts who were blazing a trail on the Indie Scene back then, and their output after they got signed up, and rushed into a glossier, shinier world of ‘product’.
Which begs the question: did they become shit because they signed to a major, or did they only really have a couple of good songs in the first place?
A case in point: this, with it’s Sisters of Mercy-esque sleeve (they sound nothing like them, by the way) is excellent, but I can’t find anything after this worthy of note, which is a shame, because this is so great. Imagine early Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes having a jam and then turn it up to 11. Or save your imagination for other things and just listen to it:
I don’t need to explain why I’m posting this, do I? It’s probably best I don’t, as I don’t think you really just want to read a long list of expletives.
Perhaps if we tweaked the song a little, then I wouldn’t need to explain. How about these suggestions:
– Change the part of the title in brackets to Dom’s Tune
– Change the lyrics from “30 miles or more” to “276 miles or more”
– Add an extra verse to mention Durham and that he drove there without stopping but can’t remember how many times he stopped on the return journey
– And maybe add one more verse to explain he is a man who reacts to his instincts, and that, even though everyone else says that he did, he definitely didn’t break the law
– Then perhaps have Boris – like when the small kid sticks his head out from behind school bully to viciously snarl “Yeh!” at a victim – could pop on some backing vocals to explain that Dom is blameless, that one has to react to your instincts, even if that involves breaking the law, which he definitely hadn’t done, and even though even The Daily Mail is refusing to support him on this, we should all continue to the follow the rules in exactly the same way that he had – sorry! – hadn’t – sorry! had
Maybe then you’d know exactly to which Governmental outrage I was referring. Like you didn’t already.
I don’t think this story is going away anytime soon. There is a growing discontent at the Government’s handling of the pandemic crisis handling in general, and of Cummings – and the unwavering, if misplaced, support he continues to receive from Johnson – specifically. And that interview with Cummings is not going to be the end to it that they hope it will be, given that it was straight out of Prince Andrew’s book of succesful interview techniques “Don’t Worry, I’ve Got This!”
For a more detailed, sensible, review of matters before tonight’s broadcast, I would recommend you read the thread by writer and commentator on law and policy David Allen Green, which you can access here:
Apparently, there is to be a written statement released after the Cummings interview, and we can expect David to forensically every word. Watch that space.
This morning an undisputed classic for you delictation.
It’s a song often covered, to the point where I would struggle to say whose version I prefer. If pushed, I would probably plump for Dean Martin’s, but this version could easily push his into second on a good day. I think it’s the slightly wonky xylophone which does it for me:
Has enough time passed since his creepy memoir to post something by Moby again yet?
What if I post a remix of one of his tunes by the magnificent Vitalic then?
Yeh, ok then, I suppose.
I was reminded of Vitalic when Craig Charles played a track from the brilliant OK Cowboy album on his suprisingly good 6Music show earlier this week. I’ve generally been put off listening to his show because Charles reminds me of not-very-good (controversial, I know) sci-fi-sitcom Red Dwarf, and for providing the commentary on the early episodes of Takeshi’s Castle, back when it was fresh and excrutiating and funny and painful to watch. Surprisingly, the show’s decline seemed to correspond with Charles leaving, and perhaps a small part of me has never forgiven him for that.
Anyway, his current drive-time show on 6Music is well worth a listen, as he doesn’t just play the funk and sould with which he is more usually associated (in my mind, anyway).
And long before he was making records which seemed to sountrack every car advert on the planet, Moby was making bangers like this:
First things first: sorry it’s been a bit quiet round these parts this week. I had some broadband issues last week (by which I mean, I had no broadband last weekend) which meant I wasn’t able to write the usual splurge of posts to last a week that I normally do on a Friday night.
It also meant that, as I’m working from home at the moment, I wasn’t able to do that either. And rather than take the time I was off-grid as unpaid or annual leave, it was agreed I could just make up the time, which is what I’ve been doing for the rest of the week.
Anyway, normality restored (I haven’t made up all the time yet, but there are fewer hours for me to claw back), I wanted to start off with a specific apology to my old mate, Martin.
Regular readers may recall that, having left Wales over ten years ago now, I reconnected with Martin at Llŷr’s memorial service (Note: NOT a wake) last year, and I’ve mentioned before how happy I was that that had happened.
It’s a funny thing, as without really thinking about it, I think he and I viewed each other in much the same way: as Llŷr’s mate. But we’ve both come to realise since Llŷr passed that we have an awful lot in common, to the point where I regret that we didn’t spend more time in each others’ company before geography became an issue.
See, I think Martin and I are cut from the same cloth (and thinking about it, that’s probably why Llŷr was friends with both of us): we share a sense of humour; we both support (different) football teams who are constant only in their delivery of disappointment; we like (mostly) the same records and now happily swap recommendations; we both like a drink (generally my Friday night writing is…interrupted isn’t the right word…enhanced by a message from Martin in the wee small hours, as under the influence as me, leading to a text conversation about the merits of anything from Withnail & I to the use of the slide guitar in country records).
So while my broadband was playing funny buggers last weekend, I got a message from Martin, with a link to a song which he described as “a guilty pleasure”. This one:
If I were to be really pushed, I’d probably plump for Cash’s version, but that is probably down to the context of the recording, the scratchy vocal, like he felt compelled to get the songs featured in the American Recordings series out while he still had time, the breath and the capability to do so.
But it’s a really close call.
Anyway, Martin: sorry if my response seemed a little curt. It certainly wasn’t meant to be.
As an aside, there’s something about If I Could Read Your Mind which always reminds me of this next song. I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on it, but I think that somewhere there must be a snatchette of melody which corresponds between the two: