Which Reminds Me…

…is the new name for the “Apropos of Nothing” thread, which I’ve felt slightly disingenuous about using for a while now, since pretty much every time I’ve posted something in there, it’s because I’ve been reminded of whatever I’m posting, usually by something else I’ve posted recently.

Such is the case today.

Dutch band (seriously, I seem to have gone all EU over the past few posts; that’s Dutch, Austrian and Slovenian acts I’ve featured recently. Still, I suppose it is Eurovision next weekend, so perhaps I should make the effort…) Shocking Blue are perhaps best known for this song from 1970, which sounds like a cross between ? & the Mysterons’ “96 Tears” and The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”:

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Shocking Blue – Venus

The song became a hit again in 1986 when Banarama, assisted by the seemingly unstoppable PWL production label, released this cover of it:

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Bananarama – Venus

Every teenage lad growing up in the UK in the 1980s fancied one of Bananarama, and my teenage crush (one of many, obviously) was on Keren (the one in the middle). She, however, only had eyes for talented guys like her long term partner, Andrew Ridgeley. Otherwise, I’d have stood a chance, obviously. Ridgeley, in case you’re wondering, is, of course, better known for being the half of Wham! that wasn’t George Michael. Shuttlecocks ahoy!

A couple of years later, in 1990, the song was a hit again, this time a practically instrumental version, released by dance producers The BHF (which I thought was a Roald Dahl story, but which apparently stands for Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) under the slightly catchier – but only slightly, mind – moniker of Don Pablo’s Animals:

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Don Pablo’s Animals – Venus (The Piano Mix)

Rumours that they decided not to release the single under the name The BHF because it was a little too similar to BHS and they were worried in case “Sir” Philip Green bought them, asset stripped them and then sold them for £1, leaving the British taxpayer to pick up the bill for the £400 million shortfall on the pension fund, are completely unfounded.

However, it wasn’t just cheesy pop acts and dance remixers who fell under the spell of Shocking Blue. Here, from their 1969 “At Home” album is a song which will be familiar to many plaid-shirted grungesters:

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 Shocking Blue – Love Buzz

..and here is a version by a slightly more famous band, but who at the time were yet to turn into the genre-defining behemoth they soon became:

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Nirvana – Love Buzz

But all of this is just the amuse bouche for the main reason I’m writing this post. From 1968, and sounding like Grace Slick’s slightly deranged sister, the truly magnificent:

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Shocking Blue – Send Me A Postcard

If you don’t like that, then I’m afraid we cannot be friends. Well, we can, but I will always be slightly suspicious of you.

Just sayin’.

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

I’ve had this one sitting ready to post for a while now, so since the first band have a new, rather fine (from what I’ve heard of it so far), album out (“Helter Seltzer”) I thought now might be quite a good time to finally post it.

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We Are Scientists – After Hours

Hel and I would often try and play this as our last record, particularly when we DJ’d in bars, in the hope that the bar staff would take the hint and keep the bar open a little longer (even more so if we were being paid in booze as long as the bar was open). I think it only ever actually worked once, in the now sadly defunct “Mucky Pup” bar in Islington. Although our playing little known 60s belter “Send Me a Postcard” by Shocking Blue when we knew the landlord/owner was a massive fan probably helped. It certainly helped us get some free Jagerbombs.

The Velvet Underground, of course, did a song by the same name, the final track on their eponymously-titled third album, which categorically should not be confused with the “The Velvet Underground & Nico” album (the one with Andy Warhol’s banana on the sleeve). It’s a cute little acoustic number, not particularly indicative of their normal sound, and featuring drummer Moe Tucker on lead vocals:

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The Velvet Underground – After Hours

I first encountered this song when at the greatest gig I ever went to: R.E.M. at the Newport Centre, May 18th 1989, when they were promoting their Green album. Here’s the set-list from that night; fans of the band (and those who are familiar with the venue) will understand just why, approaching 30 years and many, many other gigs later, it remains the greatest gig I ever went to. I’ll talk about it in more detail at some point soon; until then, since I haven’t posted anything by them for a while, lifted from the Tourfilm live video which got released shortly afterwards, here’s R.E.M. covering (and forgetting the words to) The Velvet Underground’s After Hours:

More soon.

How To Do A Cover Version

Recently, I stated that I didn’t really like posting live versions of tracks, since they were, generally, of a lesser sound quality than the studio version of the same song.

Since then, I’ve posted live versions of two songs, and after the first one, I suddenly found that I had the first song from this post annoyingly lodged in my brain. And so I figured if I was going to have to suffer, then so should you.

Okay, brace yourself. This is truly awful.

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Opus – Live Is Life

Surprisingly, considering it made Number 6 in the UK Charts (!!!!) it doesn’t appear on any of those Now! albums I recently got my hands on, so, and I want to make this very clear, this is not a song that I owned until I actively sought it out to post here.

What it does do is provide me with an excuse to post this clip of Chief Cocaine Schnozzler, King Mullet-wearing hand-ball player Diego Maradona doing his pre-match warm-up routine when Live is Life comes on the stadium tannoy:

That’s pretty great, I just wish it was to a better record. And he really should learn to tie his laces up, that’s just asking for trouble.

And, whilst we’re on Maradona, a quick trivia question: which is the only English team that he has ever played for?

That’s right, Tottenham Hotspur. And here’s the proof:

This was of course, before the 1986 World Cup and the whole Hand of God incident which saw Argentina knock England out of the competition.

Oh yeh, well done Leicester, by the way. Chuffed for you.

Anyway, on to the cover version, and I’ll be honest, I umm’d and ahh’d about whether to post this in the “How To Do…” or the “How Not To Do….” thread, before deciding that nothing could be as bad as the original, and thus plumping to house it here.

Now, if you’re a Slovenian avant-garde band and you absolutely have to do a cover version of “Live is Life” – and they by no means absolutely had to do one – then the only way to do it is to turn it into what sounds like the National Anthem of one of the countries trapped behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Which is lucky, because that’s exactly what Slovenian avant-garde band Laibach did:

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Laibach – Opus Dei (Life is Life)

More soon.

The Chain #4

When we last visited these shores, I posted the third song from Radcliffe & Maconie’s “The Chain” – officially the longest listener-generated thematically linked sequence of musically based items on the radio, and that song was Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, after which I invited y’all to make your suggestions for a record that could follow that in our list.

And I’m delighted to report that there was a real upward trend in suggestions, a 100% uplift if you will. Yes, that’s right, this time I got two suggestions.

Strictly speaking, I should choose just one of them, but that seems rather churlish, so I thought I’d post both.

First, Charity Chic suggested “Otis Redding to Noel Redding to Jimi Hendrix?” which very kindly  leaves the onus on me to select a Hendrix track to bedazzle you all with. Now I don’t claim to be the biggest Hendrix fan in the world, so I figured I’d just post what is probably my favourite track of his.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Crosstown Traffic

If you fancy seeing what sort of stuff Charity posts on a regular basis (and I would recommend that you do), you can pay him a visit by clicking here. (I could have sworn there was a permanent link to his site in the sidebar, but it seems not. Apologies CC old chap, consider that rectified!) (along with several other regular commenters’ blogs)

The other suggestion I received was from George, who I only very recently learned was the author of a very fine and now defunct and much missed blog I name-checked here a couple of weeks ago, “Jim McLean’s Rabbit”. His suggestion is very smart, so smart that a) I don’t fully understand it, and b) it led me to describe it as “comment showboating”, which was meant as a compliment, though I’m not sure if that’s how it came across.

Anyway, here’s George’s suggestion: “What about Dock of The Bay to The Bay City Rollers, originally known as The Saxons, to Sky Saxon, to The Seeds, and their single Can’t Seem to Make You Mine?”

I don’t need any second bidding to post this psych-garage growler, so George, cheers for the suggestion, keep them coming! Oh, and happy planting!

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The Seeds – Can’t Seem to Make You Mine

Okay, so that’s our suggestions dealt with, but what is the next official record in The Chain, I don’t hear you excitedly clamour.

Well, it’s this, and I have to say I have no idea what the connection between it and the Otis Redding record may be:

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4. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

So, suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that can feature next in Our Chain, which links to “Sweet Home Alabama”, and if you could explain the link too, as the contributors have done so far, that’d be great.

Oh, and if anyone out there can explain the connection between Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, I’d be ever so grateful if you could fill me in, as it’s really starting to get on my tits now.

More soon.