Never Trust Kelvin MacKenzie

One of the down-sides of my being a predominantly weekend-based blogger, is that when stuff of significance happens mid-week I’m a bit rubbish at reacting.

By now, every one in the UK knows what we’ve always known: that the¬†deaths of 96 football fans¬†at Hillsborough in 1989, 27 years ago, were “unlawful”.

I’m not going to comment on that. You don’t need me to. You can just watch this:

What I am going to comment on is Kelvin MacKenzie’s response to the jury’s decision.

In case you don’t know who Kelvin MacKenzie is,¬†let me enlighten you. At the time of Hillsborough, he was the editor of The Sun newspaper, which, again in case you are unaware, is owned by the same company which owns The Times, The Sunday Times, and, until recently when it was found to have illegally hacked phones and was¬† forced to close, the News of the World. Yes, that’s right, News International, owned by one Rupert Murdoch.

Here’s the front pages of The Times and The Sun on the day after the verdict was announced:

The day after

Notice anything missing from them?

Back in 1989, in the immediate aftermath of¬†Hillsborough, MacKenzie signed off stories that claimed¬†some Liverpool fans urinated on police and¬†picked the pockets of the dead. They were printed under the headline banner: “The Truth”.

Only they weren’t the truth. Those claims were found to be entirely without foundation and the product of a smear campaign designed to shift the blame from authority onto victims. A smear campaign orchestrated by the police. And claims which MacKenzie did nothing to investigate or even check, preferring to just accept – and print – what the police were telling them. The earliest example we have of the cosy relationship between News International and the police, right there.

But now, post jury decision, he tries to position himself as a victim, that he was hood-winked into printing those lies.

Poor old Kelvin. How hard his life must be, knowing he has lost precisely none of his relatives due to the incompetence of the police officers he actively sought to defend at the time.

There’s only one song to play:

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Billy Bragg – Never Buy the Sun

Well, actually, there’s two. I was saving this for a “Same Title, Different Song” post, but this is way more important:

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The Housemartins – Freedom

More soon.

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All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended #8

Okay, I know I said I was through with the Prince posts, but indulge me for a moment with just one more.

Many years ago, when we first met, long before I moved to London and we¬†shared a flat, Hel and I got to talking about Prince. Her knowledge of the great man far outweighed mine;¬†I had to profess that I pretty much knew his singles from When Doves Cry onwards but that, bar “Purple Rain” and “Sign O’The Times”, I was fairly¬†ignorant as to the quality of his albums.

Shortly afterwards, a C90 cassette (yes, that’s how long ago it was) landed with me, full of Prince tracks, pointing me in the right direction, a guide which allowed me to go off and explore for myself.

The track in this post was included, and Hel was most insistent that if I listened to nothing else, I had to hear this one.

Fast forward a good few years. When the news broke of his sudden death last week, this was the first song that sprang to my mind, as my Twitter feed will attest: the title seemed to comment perfectly on his death, and the timing of it. If ever there was an appropriate month for him to leave us, it was April.

And then, after weeks of perfectly pleasant, slightly warmer weather than usual for this time of year (but let’s not get into the whole global warming thing¬†right now), it seemed that¬†the weather in certain parts of the UK thought it should be paying tribute to the great man too.

Suddenly, there were reports of incoming blizzards and snow storms, almost as if the weather knew what I was thinking, knew the record I had in mind, knew that Prince had died.

Which is ridiculous, of course.

But it would be remiss of me not to post this:

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Prince & The Revolution – Sometimes It Snows In April

More soon.

1985 and all that

My brother picked me up from the train station nearest my folks last weekend.¬† I managed to fold myself into his car (a Lotus of some sort, not conducive to men of my girth and rotundity trying to enter it) and was greeted by the sounds of The Wedding Present’s “George Best” album playing on the in-car sound system.

“I have to thank you”, he said, after we’d completed our ‘hello’s, “because you’ve talked about this album so much on your blog, that I realised I’d never actually owned a copy and so I went and got it, and it’s fantastic.”

You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear my older brother, from whom I learned so much in terms of musical taste, be it Deep Purple, AC/DC, The Go-Go’s,¬†Rick Springfield or The Jesus & Mary Chain –¬†a mixed bag, it’d be fair to say¬†–¬†say these words. Frankly, the fact that¬†I’ve made one person go out and buy an album that I love, by a band that I love, fills me with pride. For it to be my older brother, then, well….then my work here is done.

I’m not stopping yet though. Not until somebody admits to buying a Quo album anyway.

So I’ll be here¬†a good while longer yet.

We had stopped on the way home, realising our parents’ house would be bereft of Jack Daniels (both of our tipple of choice), landing on a Co-Op where you had to ask the girl behind the counter for such an outrageously stealable¬†drink.

I approached the counter. “Bottle of Jack Daniels, please” I ventured.

“Large or small?” the girl asked.

“You’ve noticed there’s two of us, right?” my brother pointed out.

“Large it is then” said the girl.

We spent last Saturday night going through family photos, recounting stories and picking out ones that we wanted copies of. Whilst drinking, obviously.

As the night progressed, my Mum went to bed, but my Dad, brother and I continued chatting and drinking into the wee small hours, as we often do. We all manage to get together rarely, once a year at or around Christmas if we’re lucky, but both me and my brother being home for either of my parents’ birthdays is a real rarity. The songs which reflected our youth (Cash, Kristofferson, Donegan, etc.) played in the background. We paused to sing-a-long to “Me and Bobby McGee”, as is traditional in our house.

The subject of this here blog came up. We’d mentioned it to my Dad at Christmas, but he’d never managed to work out how to access it. I explained it to him again, and again explained the main thrust behind the blog: that I would catalogue every record I ever bought in order, but I would also try to highlight records which others consider to be guilty pleasures, but which I don’t believe should be classed as such.

My brother pointed out that I have been spectacularly rubbish at fulfilling the first part of that two-pronged remit recently; I retorted¬†that it’s really tricky to write about stuff you bought 30 years ago,¬†haven’t listened to since, and have to track down a postable version of. He said I should just get on with it, get the shit records out of the way, because he knew we were very close to the point where I started liking good records. Which was a bit rich, given his musical influence on me, but there you go.

Which leads me to today’s post, which is a double whammy: the next record that I bought in 1985¬†and one that should not be classed as guilty pleasure.

Nope, it’s no good, I can’t say that last bit and keep a straight face.

You remember a while ago, I said such was my Quo obsession in my early to mid-teens that¬†I bought Jimmy Nail’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” purely on the strength that I’d heard that Rick Parfitt played guitar on it? Well, I didn’t stop there. The same applies here, except there was no room for misunderstanding. As they appeared on the “Wogan” (RIP) show¬†performing it, I knew that I had to own it, no matter how terrible a record it was.

I helped this to the giddy heights of Number 54 in the UK charts. No need to thank me.

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Francis Rossi & Bernard Frost – Modern Romance (I Want To Fall In Love Again)

By way of an explanation¬†(but not a justification)¬†Francis Rossi (OBE, no less) is the lead singer of The Quo, and Bernard Frost for a time, at the turn of the 1970s into the 1980s, was his song-writing partner. They made an album together in the band’s¬†“inactive period” in late 1984 –¬†1985; an album¬†which never saw the light of day, the reasons for which will become perfectly apparent if you listen to that single.

To balance things out (slightly), around the same time, I also bought this:

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a-ha – Take On Me

This was bought on the back of a trip to Norway, not because of any particular affinity to leather wrist bracelets, and of course seeing the ground-breaking video, which I may as well post here in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from the first of the two songs I’ve posted here today:

More soon. Better soon. No really, I promise.

The Return of Friday Night Music Club

It’s Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK, which can mean only one thing: being stuck in the house, watching television, whilst the rain buckets down outside until it’s time to go back to work again on Tuesday.

Which leads me onto the theme for this week, and for the next couple of weeks: Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question.

Catchy, eh?

With a sub-title that long, you can’t really be all that surprised to learn that this one is going to take more than one week to get through….

And where better to start than here:

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232. The Rezillos – Top Of The Pops

Released in 1978, and peaking in the UK chart at 17, this new wave classic earned the group an appearance on the very show that the lyrics so roundly criticise. There’s an interesting bit of pop history about the line up too: each band member had a stage name and one, Jo Calles (a.k.a. Luke Warm), after the group split up in late 1978, went on to form Shake with, amongst others, Troy Tate, a name many of you will recognise partly from him later appearing in Julian Cope’s band Teardrop Explodes, and many more will recognise as the producer of the original cut of The Smiths’ debut album, which was ditched in favour of the mix provided by John Porter. After Shake split, Callis went on to join Human League, just in time to co-write their classic “Don’t You Want Me”. There you go, don’t say you never learn anything around here.

And just to prove that The Rezillos “Top of the Pops” was neither the actual theme nor a cover of the theme to the show in question (see, I’ve already heavily edited this subtitle), get your laughing gear around this little montage:

Moving on, here’s one of my favourite singles from the mid-90s “Britpop” era:

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233. Ash – Kung Fu

The title is lifted not just from the erroneously used term for Chinese martial arts (the original meaning is any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete – see, entertaining and informative, me), but also the American TV series which ran from 1972 – 1975, and starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk called Kwai Chang Caine. The part was originally intended for some chap called Bruce Lee, only for the TV studios to duck out of casting an Asian and cast non-Asian Carradine instead. The 70s, eh? Gotta love ’em.

Having spent much of his subsequent life appearing in frankly duff straight to video B-movies such as Deathrace 2000, Safari 3000, and Night Rhythms, Carradine’s career was going through something of a renaissance following his appearance in Tarantino’s 2004 “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2”, At least it was, until 2009 when he died suddenly in a hotel room in Thailand, apparently killed by the same thing as allegedly killed Michael Hutchence: the old “erotic asphyxiation” routine, which I shall not be demonstrating for you any time soon.

Here’s the title credits, featuring not just David Carradine, but Keith too:

But there’s another popular culture moment involved with the Ash single: the sleeve, which captures that moment back in 1995 when Manchester United’s Eric Cantona, having just been sent off during a match against Crystal Palace, got ever so slightly upset by some comments from the crowd:

This, inevitably, led to a lengthy ban from the game for Cantona, and to this very brief press conference statement which I often see people describe as being confusing:

Now, I do not claim to be a man blessed with profound intellect, but that’s not really that hard to understand, is it?

Anyway, on May 21st 2016, Manchester United and Crystal Palace will meet each other in this year’s FA Cup Final, and there’s the teensiest part of me that hopes one of the participants decides to re-enact the Cantona moment. My money’s on Palace boss Alan Pardew, whose got a bit of form in the losing his rag stakes. Him, or United’s Marouane Fellaini, who I’m sure you could wind up pretty easily if you asked him when the new series of Saved By the Bell is going to start enough times.

But I digress. Some more Britpop tuneage next:

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234. Sleeper – Sale of the Century

Sleeper will feature many more times on these here pages, so we’ll jump straight to the TV show from whence the title is ripped:

I bet there’s quite a few people my age and older who went a tad misty-eyed at the sight of Anglia Television’s silver knight at the start of the clip.

But, oh! Times have certainly changed in the world of TV game shows, haven’t they?

That’s broadcasting stalwart Nicholas Parsons doing the hosting duties; he can still be heard hosting Radio 4’s wonderful parlour game/panel show “Just A Minute”, and, at the age of 92 as I write this, he seems to be in possession of just as many of his faculties now as he was back then. Take that in whatever way you wish.

But Sale of the Century has a dark secret. For it was here that the Dark Overlord himself made his first TV appearance:

So, y’know, cheers for that Anglia Television.

In 1975, David Bowie released “Young Americans”; you don’t need me to tell you what an incredible album that is, or to tell you that this was one of the singles lifted from it:

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235. David Bowie – Fame

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat by me, since the Bowie single pre-dates the 1980 Alan Parker directed movie of the same name by five years:

…and the 1982 TV series by the same name by seven years:

…but any excuse to post a bit of Bowie, eh?

It also gives me the excuse to link to this 24 carat cheese nugget:

Bruno was no singer, was he?

In 1969, the BBC launched a show about holiday destinations, called “Holiday ’69”. (Stop it…..!!). The show ran until 2007, but in the 1990s, they dropped the year from the title, making it just plain old “Holiday”. Which is lucky, as surprisingly Madonna never recorded a song called “Holiday ’69” (she left that kind of grubbiness to Bryan Adams):

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236. Madonna – Holiday

Back when I was at college, there was a quiz held in the Students’ Union every other Tuesday which a couple of mates and I used to regularly enter (and which I ended up hosting). The Students Union had invested in a karaoke machine – quite the new-fangled gadget at the arse-end of the 1980s – but were struggling to come up with occasions on which it could be used. So, at the end of each round of the quiz, it was decided that one member from the team with – now, I want to say the highest, but in reality, it was probably the lowest – score was invited up on stage to perform a song of the host’s choice.

My fellow team-mates were considerably less stage-shy than I, so on the two occasions that one of us had to go on stage, it was me that bowed to public pressure. The relevance of this is that on one of these occasions, it was Madonna’s “Holiday” that I was obliged to perform (on the other occasion, it was The Police’s “Walking On The Moon”, just in case you’re interested). I delivered both in a dead-pan, spoken style, a la Ted Chippington.

“Who’s Ted Chippington?” I hear you ask.

This is Ted Chippington:

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Ted Chippington – The Wanderer

“Oh THAT Ted Chippington”, I hear you reply, looking none-the-wiser.

Don’t worry yourself about him now, he’ll crop up again on these pages in a lot more depth at some point or another.

So, with the BBC having a show about potential holiday destinations – which, if memory serves me right from my younger days, seemed to feature a pleasing amount of footage of continental topless beaches – ITV decided to get in on the act with a rival show, called “Wish You Were Here?”. We know a song about that too, don’t we?

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237. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Ok time to wrap things up for this week, and here’s the finest example of a song having the same name as a TV show, but this is another cheat by me as it is clearly named after and references the show in question. But it gives me a chance to play some Divine Comedy, and a lesser known track by them too:

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238. The Divine Comedy – Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World

And just so you know that neither me nor The Divine Comedy main-man Neil Hannon are losing our marbles:

That’ll do you for this week.

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

Ok to back to something approaching normality.

I spent the weekend up visiting my folks to mark my Dad’s birthday on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, although I probably – no, undoubtedly – would never have admitted it at the time, his record collection has proved to be a massive influence on my own musical tastes over the years.

Pretty much every country¬†record I’ve ever posted here, and in particular most of the stuff I’ve posted recently in my Sunday Morning thread, I first heard via my Dad’s record collection. But there’s another chap, non-country,¬†who my Dad loves, who I previously wrote about here: one Lonnie Donegan.

There was a fairly decent documentary on ITV, of all places, the other week which if you didn’t catch I’d urge you to see if it’s still available on their On Demand service. I mean, you can tell it was an ITV production because they felt the need to have it presented by one of the actors¬†from Downton Abbey, but he makes a pretty good fist of it, including interviews with both the remaining Beatles (including one with Ringo Starr which he manages to get through whilst preventing¬†Starr from waffling on about peace and love), Roger Daltrey and, surprisingly,¬†Jack White. Now if that’s not a recommendation…

White explains how many of Donegan’s songs were American folk songs, and, as proof if proof were needed, today’s selection was first recorded back in 1924, and in between then and Donegan recording it in 1957, such luminaries as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, to name just two,¬†cut versions of it too.

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Lonnie Donegan – Cumberland Gap

In 1992, to mark the 40th anniversary of their first publication, the NME released a three-CD compilation album, “Ruby Trax”¬†where they invited current bands featuring on their pages to record a cover version of a record which had reached Number One in the UK charts during those 40 years.

Ruby Trax is probably best know for having spawned this, by the Manic Street Preachers, a balls-out rock version of “Suicide is Painless (Theme from M*A*S*H*)”, which became the bands first Top 10 hit:

The song was released as a double ‘A’ side in the UK, with Fatima Mansions’ frankly rather¬†weird version of Bryan Adams chart-clogger ¬†“(Everything I Do) I Do it for You” on t’other side:

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Fatima Mansions – (Everything I Do) I Do it for You

If you’re hearing that for the first time, you’ll not be overly surprised to learn that was the only time that Fatima Mansions came even close to bothering the UK Top 10 (although they did release a few belters, which I’ll deal with some other time).

But elsewhere on the Ruby Trax album, was this version of “Cumberland Gap”, provided by stalwarts of this section The Wedding Present:

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The Wedding Present – Cumberland Gap

And, just to make this all nice and circular, it was Wedding Present main man David Gedge’s birthday on Saturday, the same day as my Dad’s. Coincidence? Well, yes, obviously. What are you suggesting….?

More soon.

All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended #7

Ok, last one of these, then we’ll get back to business as usual.

To round things off, a song which as far as I’m aware – and I’m sure one of you will correct me if I’m wrong – Prince never actually released himself. Yes, he recorded a version of it for Apollonia 6’s eponymous album, but it got bumped in favour of more fruity, dammit more Princey sounding songs like “Sex Shooter” and “Oo She She Wa Wa”. Perhaps now he’s gone, the Prince vaults will be opened and…jeez, can you imagine how much stuff is in there???

Despite him never having released his own version, there’s no denying Manic Monday is¬†a bloody great pop record though. So, I offer this to you kindred spirits who perhaps hit that snooze button a couple of times more than you should on a Monday morning:

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The Bangles – Manic Monday

Oh, and links are now added to the last two posts. Fill yer boots.

More soon.

All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended #6

Who wants some rawk’n’roll to get their Monday morning off with a bang?

Here’s a song which attracted the attention of Tipper Gore and the PMRC when it was originally released as part of the “Purple Rain” soundtrack, covered by a band who were supposed to be headlining Glastonbury last year until lead guitar thumper Dave Grohl went and broke his leg when he fell off stage. I can’t help thinking such trivialities wouldn’t have stopped Prince, who seems to have been rumoured to be playing there for as long as I can remember. Ah well, rumour no more.

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Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki

This year’s Glastonbury headliners are Adele and Coldplay, which is almost the same as the Foo Fighters, right?

And here’s the immaculately rude original:

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Prince & The Revolution – Darling Nikki

By the way, it’s no coincidence that he called his band The Revolution.

More soon.