The Chain #11

Afternoon all.

So, I  left you last week with “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts and asked you to suggest songs that linked to it. (It’s my new catchphrase, shush!)

Okay, first the admin. The link between Bruce Springsteen and “I’ll Be There For You” was that Courtney Cox – Monica from Friends to which the latter is the theme tune – appeared in Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” video, as a plucked-from-the-audience-hottie who gets to dance on stage with The Boss himself, regardless of how excruciatingly 80s that might look. What are the odds of that happening? Totally spontaneous, and not at all bought and paid for, naturellement.

I say naturellement, for unlike the England football team, we’re in France for much of this week.

As I did last week, I’ll post the suggestions as they were received. I mentioned in an intervening post there was a fair bit of mind changing/dual suggestions going on this week. For the record, as long as I don’t get swamped (which seems unlikely) I’ll try to post all suggestions, irrespective of whether you’ve already suggested something. This does not give you carte blanche to bombard me with multiple ideas (You know who I’m looking at).

You won’t be surprised to learn that all of today’s suggestions focus on the Rembrandts rather than the “I’ll Be There For You”, opening up many possibilities in respect of art and artists as it did.

So, here we go, first up is The Swede, who managed to beat George out of the traps for once.

“Rembrandt’s old gaff, now known more formally as the Rembrandt House Museum, is located in Amsterdam. So, keeping it simple and straightforward, how about spinning David Bowie’s interpretation of Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’?”

Deal. As I mentioned in my response, I’ve been meaning to post some Brel for a while now, but would probably have plumped for a really obvious Scott Walker cover. But since very little Bowie has been posted in the blogosphere this year (!), here’s his BBC recording version, with a bit of a certain Mr John Ravenscroft at the end, just because it’s always great to hear his voice (and because I have no idea how to edit MP3s):

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David Bowie – Amsterdam

And yes, I’m well aware Amsterdam isn’t in France, before you all start.

Okay, there’s been much kidding around in the Comments since I started doijg this thread about “Showboating”. It’s a term of endearment, of admiration, for a particularly fine example of getting from one song to another. If I, or anyone else, says you’re Comment Showboating, it’s the equivalent of us applauding your choice and how you got there.

Here’s a prime bit of showboating from the Great Gog:

“Takes deep breath…

Obviously, Rembrandt was a famous painter, one of his works being 1632’s “Self portrait as a burger”. Although this meant burger in another sense, I found myself imagining a painting with Rembrandt placing himself between two halves of a seeded bun. One organisation famous for placing burgers in seeded buns is McDonald’s.

Michael McDonald was a member of The Doobie Brothers, so perhaps one of theirs, but which? Linking back to the Friends theme, many would consider Jesus as a friend, so “Jesus Is Just Alright”, it is. This appears on the Toulouse Street album, and by an amazing coincidence, Toulouse-Lautrec was also a famous painter!

I’m off for a lie-down now as my brain is beginning to hurt.”

Okay, two things. Firstly, The Great Gog has a very odd imagination. And secondly, I’ll admit, I had to check this. Burger as opposed to Berger? The Great Gog was, needless to say, correct.

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The Doobie Brothers – Jesus is Just Alright

Just like the Marillion sleeve in my post from yesterday, that’s a really odd sleeve isn’t it? Every one of them seems to be saying, in a Southern drawl, reminiscent of that scene in Deliverance: “Yeh, my sister is pretty, ain’t she?”

I have to admit, my knowledge of the Doobies output pretty much began and ended with “Long Train Runnin'”, but that’s pretty good isn’t it. Must investigate further. Cheers, TGG.

Next up, here’s Charity Chic:

“I’m going to jump on the back of the excellent comment from the Great Gog with Goodbye Toulouse from The Stranglers.”

For those of you unfamiliar with The Stranglers output, that’s from their “Rattus Norvegicus” album, and it sounds like this:

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The Stranglers – Goodbye Toulouse

A few years ago, I was working for an Insurance company. My phone rang and it was one of our customers calling to report a little bump he’d been in.

I took their policy number and loaded their details up on my screen. There was something familiar about the name.

“Can I confirm your name, please?” I asked.

“Burnel,” came the response.

It can’t be, can it? I thought.

“First name and date of birth?”

“Jean-Jacques and (I’ll leave this bit blank)”.

Jesus, it was.

I spent the rest of the conversation trying to think of a way to let JJ know that a) I knew who he was, and b) that I bloody love The Stranglers. But I couldn’t find an “in”. The moment passed, the call ended.

I removed my headset, and announced to my colleagues “That was Jean-Jacques Burnel!”

Not a flicker.

“From The Stranglers!”

More “couldn’t give less of a shit” noises and glances.

Still, made my day. I almost wish he’d dangled me out of a window by my ankles.

But, I digress. Here’s The Great Gog again:

“You’ve jogged my memory of a single from Radio Africa hitmakers, Latin Quarter, simply titled Toulouse. Slightly annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of that one just over 24 hours ago.”

The only song I know by Latin Quarter is “Radio Africa”, and it’s not a song I’m overly fond of, so I approached this with some trepidation:

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Latin Quarter – Toulouse

At this point, George arrived:

“One of The Rembrandts is Danny Wilde. Who was born in MAINE. And MAINE Road used to be where Mancheter City played, and Joe Hart is their goalie, leading us to another Joe, Joe Tex, who sang Buying A Book”

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Spurs had a goal keeper called Erik Thorstvedt who we affectionately named “Butterfingers”. After his ricks against Wales and Iceland, I think Hart has taken over ownership of the name. Quite how long he’ll stay at Man City if he carries on doing the same remains to be seen, but for now, the link stands:

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Joe Tex – Buying a Book

And that’s your lot for this week.

Oh, wait. Here’s George again.

“Can I have another go? In my defence I can link to an absolutely outstanding song.”

To be fair, pretty much every song George suggests is absolutely outstanding, so I told him to carry right on.

“The song I’ll Be There for You was co-written by Allee Willis. Who grew up in Detroit, Michigan. as did a certain Denise Nicholas. Who? Well she married Bill Withers, who gave us the outstanding I Can’t Write Left Handed (and the best version is on the Live At Carnegie Hall album).”

Which I think is this version (I own it on a compilation album, where it doesn’t stipulate where it was recorded):

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Bill Withers – I Can’t Write Left Handed

George, if that’s not the version you were after, my apologies. Either way, it’s right up there with “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” in terms of anti-war sentiment, although the latter edges it in terms of numbers of limbs lost. Not that I’m proposing that should be the way we judge records, you understand. Otherwise I’d have to crown “Jake the Peg” as the greatest record ever, which it clearly isn’t.

Please note, I have resisted doing the duck in a microwave joke. Kind of.

And just in case you’ve never heard that before (the song, not the joke) but think something about it seems familiar, it may be because of this:

As for my suggestion? Well, it turns out that mine was fairly close to the one chosen in that there real life thing. I also went for an artist, but a different one, and to a song from an album that many people mistakenly call “Andy Warhol” or “The One With The Banana On the Front”:

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The Velvet Underground – Femme Fatale

And here, in a rather pleasing, circular, all loose ends tied up kind of way, is the official selection:

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David Bowie – Andy Warhol

So, roll up, roll up, your suggestions please for tunes to play next week that link to “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie. Please send them via the Comments section below explaining how you have got from that record to yours.

Or, if you can do it in 140 characters or less, tweet me @jezbionic.

Or, if you’re one of the lucky people who have my email or mobile number and want to keep your submission private (until next Sunday), then you can use those methods to. And we really should do lunch sometime, it’s been ages.

I already know my suggestion for next week. I wonder if any of you will be like-minded. I can think of at least one person, a very dear friend, who I know reads this and who I would be absolutely staggered if they haven’t chosen something along the same lines as me.

I’m not sure that last sentence makes grammatical sense, but you get the gist.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A few posts ago, I mentioned Spillers Records in Cardiff, and this morning’s selection comes from an album I picked up there when I was at college, I think one of the first CDs that I ever purchased there. Definitely not the first, for that honour went to a compilation CD I bought which included a song by today’s artiste, and which prompted me to buy what I thought was the source album.

I went through a phase in my late teens/early twenties where I would buy compilation albums that contained a couple of tracks by bands I liked, figuring that the remainder of the songs would be of a similar ilk, I’d maybe unearth a new band and could start to investigate more of their stuff. Method in my madness, see?

So, one day I strode from Spillers, the proud owner of a compilation CD called “CD88”, in a blatant call-back to the NME C86 cassette released two years earlier. I’d bought it because it had songs by The Wedding Present, The Soup Dragons and Half Man Half Biscuit on it, and bar a couple of exceptions, all were cut from roughly the same Indie cloth.

One of those exceptions was the track by today’s artist, and her track stuck out, not quite like the proverbial sore thumb, for that would imply something unpleasant. The song in question was “Fog Town” by Michelle Shocked, which turned out to be lifted from her recorded-on-a-Sony-Walkman debut album (I had no idea you could record stuff on a Walkman. Did anyone else have one you could record stuff on?), “Texas Campfire Tapes”.

So the next thing I purchased from Spillers Records was her sophomore album (that’s what music journalists call a second album, right?) “Short Sharp Shocked”, which contained an altogether rockier version of “Fog Town” as a bonus track (hence my confusion at the time), but more importantly it contained this little beauty:

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Michelle Shocked – Anchorage

‘Anchorage’ tells the bitter-sweet tale of Michelle exchanging letters with her old friend for the first time in a couple of years, finding that she’s moved from Texas to Alaska, that their circumstances have changed, that they have very little in common anymore bar shared memories. You come away from it feeling that both are a little jealous of the other’s lifestyle; Michelle of her friend’s family life and domesticity, her friend of Michelle’s free spiritedness (is that a word?). You also get the feeling that this will be the last contact between them (this is pre-Facebook days, pre-Friends Reunited, even, when staying in touch with old friends was such a hassle. I know, I’ve lost plenty of them.)

Whilst I was at college, my Dad got made redundant from the job he’d been in for twenty-plus years. He retrained as a driving instructor and, since I’d managed to fail my test first time around (when he hadn’t taught me), whenever I was home from college he would give me lessons. We looked on it as a reciprocal deal, I think (and an opportunity to have a sneaky cigarette): he was teaching me, and at the same time he was learning how to teach someone. Luckily, our hourly rates cancelled each other out.

Once, he suggested that I drive part of the leg from our family home in Cambridgeshire, down to South Wales, where I was at college. I agreed on the proviso that his rule that the driver chooses the music still applied. I could tell he didn’t look keen, worried about what horrors I might unleash, but he reluctantly agreed.

When it got to my turn to drive, I slipped a cassette of “Short Sharp Shocked” into the cassette player, and watched as Dad’s body tensed up, not at the standard of my driving (I was still in neutral, quite the feat as you approach the toll booths on the Severn Bridge), but in anticipation as to what I was going to subject him to.

Two songs in and he’d relaxed.

“What is this we’re listening to?” he finally enquired.

“Surprised you don’t recognise it”, I replied, “I gave you a copy of this album a few months ago.”

“He won’t have listened to that unless you told him it sounded like this,” my Mum sagely advised from the back seat.

Nowadays, we have a system: if I post something he’d like anywhere other than in this thread, I have to send him a text to tell him there’s a song he’d probably like. It saves there being a repeat incident of him “accidentally” attempting to watch the uncensored “Girls on Film” video I posted the other week.

Anyway, safe ground here Dad. You’ll like this one. That’s if you don’t remember it, of course.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I’ve mentioned Evan Dando a few times on these pages recently, but featured very little by him, so here he is for your aural delectation, providing the guest vocal on a track by Craig Armstrong from his “As If To Nothing” album:

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Craig Armstrong (with Evan Dando)  – Wake Up In New York

I should stress that this is not the sort of thing that Dando is best known for being involved with; it is however a quite lovely snapshot of the sort of pieces that Armstrong has composed for film scores as wide-ranging as “Plunkett & MacLeane”, “Love Actually”, “Ray” (for which he won the Grammy for Best Original Score), “Fever Pitch” and “The Great Gatsby”, to name just a few.

More soon.