The Chain #6

Hello, good morning and welcome.

I have to say this is rapidly turning into my favourite thread of the week, and just to refresh memories/fill in newcomers, this is where we play the next record from 6Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie’s “The Chain” and invite your suggestions for what you would like to hear next that links to that record (along with an explanation of the link). And then cross our fingers that I already own it or can track down a copy. Oh, and if you want to have a guess at how the songs were linked on the radio show, feel free.

So, we left you last week with “Girl From Mars” by Ash, and we have two great, great suggestions, both of which link to the same band.

First up is George, who wrote:

Right. Here goes for Comment Showboating. I’ve got a link from Ash to The Fall. You’ll like this. The Ash album from which Girl From Mars comes is 1977. If you add up the digits of 1977 you get 24. And in the number 24, the “2” is next to the “4”. So you could say the “2” is by the “4”. Or 2 by 4. Track 2, side 1 from The Wonderful And Frightening World Of… by the Fall is 2×4.

Okay, two things to say about this. Firstly, and I think George knows this, I love Comment Showboating, particularly on this thread. So, please, if you’re going to make a suggestion, fill your boots, make it as convoluted as you like.

Secondly, George: that is just one of the most brilliant links I’ve ever read. How can I resist? (Clue: I can’t) Here’s the version lifted from the 6 CD opus that is The Fall’s Complete Peel Sessions:


The Fall – 2 x 4 (Peel Session)

Moving on to Dave aka The Great Gog who sent me this:

“Sticking with the planet / young female theme – there is “A Mercury Girl” by Cleaners From Venus (from 1987 album Going To England). Giles Smith from the band became a journalist and wrote an excellent book entitled Lost In Music. I believe that some sisters had a hit with a song of that title and of course, The Fall interpreted it in their own way on The Infotainment Scan. So there you go – a convoluted link and another excuse to post something from Mark E. Smith & co.”

Which gives me, albeit inadvertently, not one but two songs to post:


The Cleaners From Venus – A Mercury Girl

and, of course:


The Fall – Lost in Music

It is taking every fibre in my being to resist the temptation to just post a load of covers The Fall have done now.

Instead, since yesterday was both the Scottish and English Cup Finals, I have an excuse to post this, the most surreal bit of Grandstanding-ah! you’ll ever see:

Look at that, Villa fans. You used to win games!!

As for my suggestion, well I would have plumped for this (already posted in my Friday Night Music Club strand) and I would hope the link from Ash’s Girl From Mars to this is fairly self-explanatory:


The Undertones – More Songs About Chocolate and Girls

But here is where the licence-paying BBC listening public went next:


6. KT Tunstall – Black Horse And The Cherry Tree

And the reasoning? “An ash is a type of tree. So is a cherry…”

Which, bearing in mind our suggestions, is a bit shit really, isn’t it?

So, ladies and gents, your suggestions please about what record you’d like me to post that links to KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Please leave your suggestions – and how you got to it – in the Comments box down below, and feel free to make it as Commenty McShowboatface or as simple and straight-forward as you like.

Oh, and George and Dave – loving your work, keep it up chaps. S’much appreciated.

More soon.

(Un)Happy Birthday


I bought a jacket like that when I was at college.

For this, and many other fashion faux-pas for which you were responsible (I can never return to that florist), Happy Birthday Steven Patrick.

Oh, and the songs. Best not forget the songs.


Morrissey – Will Never Marry

Now please stop saying how much you like UKIP, will you? Such a silly boy…

More soon.


Just Dandy

So The Dandy Warhols were not just good last night, they were astoundingly good. The sort of gig you come away from kicking yourself for not knowing more of their songs so you could have enjoyed it even more.

Other than that, just one downside: Electric Ballroom, if you’re going to insist a set is finished by 10pm on a Saturday night(!!), how about advertising “on stage” times, so the ticket buying public don’t turn up at 8:20pm and find the act they’ve paid to see already on stage? We’d have happily turned up earlier and spent our money buying your beer rather than that of a local pub if we’d known.

In other words, we missed the start, and without checking, I have no idea whether they played “Get Off” or not.

Which I just have. Bugger. Stroppy Tweet sent to the venue.

Highlights? Plenty of them.

From Courtney Taylor’s solo rendition of “Everyday Should be a Holiday” which prompted the best crowd singing I’ve heard since watching Evan Dando soldier on to play an acoustic version of “Big Gay Heart” after the sound system conked out mid-gig at the Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, through a boisterous rendition of “Bohemian Like You” via awesome takes on “I Love You” and “We Used To Be Friends”.

But for my money the show-stopper was this, which I’ve posted before, but it’s so good I make no apologies for giving it a much deserved second airing:


The Dandy Warhols – Godless

There was no brass section with the band last night; instead the trumpet line was provided by the drummer – and the crowd – “parp-parp-parp”ing along in full voice.

Just glorious.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

In many ways, the story of Townes Van Zandt is your archetypal story of a country singer: critically acclaimed but commercially unappreciated during his own life-time, battling with the 3-D demons (drink, drugs, depression), of near misses and “What If…?”s.

Born in 1944, he was inspired by seeing Elvis Presley’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan show in 1956, and got his first guitar for Christmas the same year. Years later, he told an interviewer “I just thought that Elvis had all the money in the world, all the Cadillacs and all the girls, and all he did was play the guitar and sing. That made a big impression on me.”

An above average student, he won a place at the University of Colarado at Boulder in 1962, but a year later his parents had to stage an intervention due to his binge drinking and episodes of depression. He was diagnosed with manic depression and was given a three month course of Insulin Shock Therapy (a form of psychiatric treatment where patients are repeatedly injected with large doses of insulin in order to induce daily comas over several weeks) which wiped his long-term memory.

By 1968, he had moved to Nashville and won himself a record contract, and became a prolific recording artist, releasing six albums by 1973 – none of which were successful – but he did earn himself a  small and devoted fanbase, amongst which was one Bob Dylan. Dylan repeatedly asked Van Zandt to write with him. Van Zandt, though, didn’t care for Dylan’s fame and celebrity – he had forgotten why he admired Elvis, it seems – and repeatedly declined the invitations.

He had a prominent role in “Heartworn Highways”, a documentary looking at folk and country music singer-songwriters, which was filmed at the end of 1975/start of 1976. But his prominent role was filmed at his run-down trailer home and showed him drinking straight whiskey at noon (he was a full blown alcoholic/all round addict by now) and playing around with guns. The film didn’t get theatrically released until 1981.

His recording career was effectively over by then; he released nothing from 1979 until 1987.

Some brief chances of redemption arose in the late 1980s/early 1990s; he finally met Dylan, but instead of writing with him, he played some songs for him. And in 1990, he toured with and opened for The Cowboy Junkies, which exposed his music to a whole new generation of audience.

He married three times, and around 1993 he and his third wife, Jeanene, separated, but not before she persuaded him to  sign over the publishing rights of his entire back catalogue and recording royalties to her and their children. Townes’s only source of income after this was money received from concerts, and often he would visit Jeanene and the kids straight after the gig and empty his pockets out for them.

They divorced a year later, at which point all of his worldly possessions amounted to a car, a motorcycle and a 22 foot boat.

He had been fortunate to get to 1993 with his legacy intact though: he struggled with is addiction to alcohol and drugs throughout his adult life, often performing so drunk that he forgot the words to his songs. At one point, his heroin habit was so intense that he offered the publishing rights to all of the songs on each of his first four albums to Kevin Eggers, his manager, for $20.00. At various points, his friends saw him shoot up not just heroin, but also cocaine, vodka, and a rum and Coke. By 1982, he was drinking a pint of vodka a day.

Mid-December 1996, and the end was nigh. He fractured his hip following a fall down some concrete stairs, but refused medical treatment for several days before finally acquiescing, undergoing surgery several days later on December 31st. Doctors wanted to keep Van Zandt in hospital to recuperate and detoxify, but Jeanene – with whom he had stayed close – insisted that one of Townes’ previous rehab doctors had told her detoxing could kill him. Against the advice of the doctors, she discharged him from hospital the same day. They had not even got to her car when he started experience withdrawal symptoms: her solution was to give him a flask of vodka.

He died in the early hours of January 1st 1997, his death sparking a legal battle between his Jeanene and Eggers, after the latter released fourteen albums of both new and previously unreleased material by the singer, all without consent of his estate, and claimed 50% ownership of 80 of his songs.

Cheerful, eh?

But it’s not all bleak. Before his death, his songs had been covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Merle Haggard. Steve Earle considered him his mentor and once pronounced him “the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that”.

Since his death, he has been cited as an influence and an inspiration not just by Dylan, Earle, Nelson, Haggard and Harris, but by artists like Neil Young, Lyle Lovett, Nancy Griffiths, Devendra Banhart, Norah Jones, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon), Laura Marling, Stuart A. Staples (Tindersticks), Evan Dando and Frank Turner.

Since he died, his songs have featured in films like “In Bruges”, “Crazy Heart”, “Cavalry”, “Leaves of Grass”, and “Seven Psychopaths” and in TV shows such as “Breaking Bad”, “Deadwood”, “Six Feet Under” and “True Detective”. In 2004 “Be Here To Love Me”, a film chronicling his life and musical career was released to critical acclaim – so he must have been doing something right.

Find out for yourself:


Townes Van Zandt – I’ll Be Here In The Morning

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

One of the things I love about doing this blog, is that every now and again someone sends me a message saying something along the lines of “That reminds me of…” or “Well, if you like that, then you’ll love this…”

Such is the case with tonight’s post.

Until I had a message from my mate Cath, I’d never heard of Bill Callahan, although I had heard of, but not anything by, Smog, the name he often records under.

So, anyway, some time ago, Cath got in touch and asked me if I knew tonight’s tune; I confessed I didn’t, so I checked it out and she was right, it’s rather fine. Perfect for late night jiggery-pokery.

From his 2007 “Woke on a Whaleheart” album, have a listen to this:


Bill Callahan – Diamond Dancer

Cath: although you can’t see me (you did take that webcam out of my bathroom, right??), I’m raising a glass to you for that one. Cheers!

More soon.