I didn’t really expect to revisit the output of one Stewart Godard aka Adam Ant so soon after starting this thread, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
On Saturday night, when I was out enjoying some gorgeous nosh, a friend and occasional reader of these pages and I got chatting about the reruns on Top of the Pops I mentioned the other day.
He’s a little younger than I am, though not as much as he claims, and we were talking, amongst other things, about which editions we could actually remember seeing.
I do have a vague recollection of seeing Sparks, mainly because Ron Mael’s curious moustache and death stare, though I wold struggle to say which song I saw them perform.
But when one of the editions I did remember when got reshown, I found myself bellowing “Yes! Four stages Adam!”
Which sounds like some kind of recovery plan, but in reality refers to the time that Adam Ant performed today’s tune – which never gets played out, and I have no idea why, because it’s such an absolute gem – and practically was given free reign of the Top of the Pops studio.
And here, if you’re interested, is that multi-stage performance on Top of the Pops:
Kudos to the Top of the Pops producers for recognising a genuine pop star and allowing him to do what he wants, even if it is a bit Benny Hill in places, and does feature Adam frankly not being arsed to lip-sync at one point, and also allowing him to display his proficiency on the polystyrene crumbling column as an instrument.
But still, “Goody Two Shoes” is one hell of a record: a blistering assault on the media’s obsession with digging up the dirt on the famous and successful. Oh, how so very little changes.
Second of my new threads for the week now, and here is where I want to expand on the whole “there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” ethos which is supposed to pervade this palace that I have built. It’s also the thread which is most likely to shatter what little is left of my credibility.
But first, I want to draw on a couple of things my blogging peers have written. Firstly, to Rol at My Top Ten‘s tagline: “Irk the Musos!”, and secondly to something Alyson said recently over at What’s It All About, Alfie?: “It seems you should never be dismissive of any genre of music as one day you may suddenly just “get it” and you have a great new world to explore.”
This is a life-long philosophy of mine. I always hate it when I meet someone for the first time and as an ice-breaker they ask “What kind of music do you like?” because I always want to answer “Don’t try to pigeon-hole me, I like music. Not all musics, but lots of musics,” but figure I’ll sound like a bit of an idiot, so end up saying something even more excruciating, like “Oh you know, I guess I’d be called an Indie kid if I was 30 years younger.”
An example: I don’t really like reggae music. It’s fine, I can listen to it, it’s not a race thing, I understand the importance of it, it just doesn’t float my boat, doesn’t grease my wheels or whatever analogy you might choose. I still post reggae tunes when suggested in The Chain, because whilst broadly I’m not a fan of the genre, every now and then I’ll hear a tune and think: “Actually, that’s bloody brilliant.” (N.B. none of the tunes that have made me think that were by cod-white Brummies UB40)
And the same applies to any genre: there’s some songs I, we, you, like, and some that I, we you, don’t. Don’t ever dismiss, because undoubtedly you will be the one to miss out.
Which brings me here, to this second new thread of the week, where I unashamedly nail my colours to the mast and say: this is a pop record, and I really like it.
The thing with pop music is that it’s not supposed to remain popular, fashionable, or current, it is, by its very definition, transient, here today and gone tomorrow. And there’s nothing wrong with finding glee in a pop record that a few weeks later is no longer the flavour of the month.
And so, to Girls Aloud. I like some Girls Aloud records. Actually, I like quite a lot of Girls Aloud records. There. I’ve said it.
And I like them because they are brilliant pop records.
Many of you will disagree, and you’re not wrong to, but I’m not wrong to like them either. Subjectivity, that’s where we are.
This is the second Girls Aloud single, and the first thing I ever bought by them. Lyrically, tt’s a mighty, anti-authoritarian “Don’t tell me what to do!”; musically, it obviously references “My Sharona” by The Knack, which just makes it even better in my opinion.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start extolling the virtues of Saturday Night ITV scheduling, but when they get it right, as they did here, with Girls Aloud (and I’m struggling to think of another “product” from that particular farm this applies to) it can be magnificent.
Girls Aloud will feature again in this thread, because like it or not, they made more than one ace pop record, so I’d suggest you either get used to it, or just don’t come visit on a Thursday.
It occurred to me quite a long time ago that any song which featured handclaps, finger clicks or whistling was by default a happy, upbeat cheerful song.
So I have decided to test this theory, and post songs here which feature one or more of the above.
Happy, upbeat and cheerful is of course what we’re aiming for, in the face of all this absurd adversity the real world represents. Don’t get me started. I’m barely keeping a lid on it at the moment.
And I’m doing this on a Tuesday because Tuesday’s are almost as horrible as Mondays; if not blue, then certainly a deeper shade of cobalt.
I say all of this, and yet the first tune I’m posting doesn’t particularly make me feel happy, upbeat or cheerful. But, crucially, the name of the band does. Besides, what we’re going to do here is make you a playlist to put a spring in your step, so consider this very much the intro track:
It occurred to me that I seem to have inadvertently come up with three phrases that I use pretty regularly here, catchphrases if you will.
There’s “More Soon” which I sign of every post with (and, to be honest, I wish I’d thought of something better than that).
There’s “Well if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this” which occurs at least once a week on The Chain.
And then there’s “And this record seems rather appropriate.”
Having had a spell of January blues, writer’s block, call it what you will, and now being all back, back BACK!! (and with a couple of new threads that I hope to launch this week), well, this record seems rather appropriate:
Sometimes, knowing that there are those who read this who know far more about Country music than I, I struggle to think of a decent tune to pick to play here. And sometimes, one just falls into my lap.
Last night, I was out with friends to celebrate my mate Neil’s 40th birthday. We met for cocktails in Central London, then headed over to Denmark Street in Soho for some frankly wonderful Thai food at The Smoking Goat.
As I was walking from the tube to meet them, my on-shuffle iPod decided to give me The Pogues’ “Rainy Night in Soho” to listen to; I love those serendipitous moments when your mp3 player of choice decides to give you something absolutely perfect for the moment. I knew right then that the night was going to be a good one.
Actually, I knew long before that: Neil is a bit of gastro connoisseur, so when he says the food or drink at a place is good, then I’m always more than happy to accept that recommendation. And he is never wrong.
Anyway, the food was just incredible, the staff lovely and friendly, our waitress simply unflappable, and the music…was perplexing me for a while. It was a very busy restaurant, so I couldn’t really hear it, but I was pretty sure I’d heard “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges getting played.
The night wore on, the place emptied, I could hear the music better, and my suspicions were confirmed: we were indeed being treated to The Stooges album. That ended, I wasn’t really paying attention to what came on next, before someone said “What’s this playing now? I really like this.”
I cocked an ear. I could hear a bit of guitar, maybe a violin, but no vocal.
“Why don’t you Shazam it?” I suggested. I’m going to assume you know what that means, if not please ask.
“Good idea,” she said, reaching for her handbag to retrieve her phone.
The unflappable waitress had heard us. “I’ll go get the album sleeve for you if you like?”
“That’d be great,” I said (the words “album sleeve” had piqued my interest), and whilst she disappeared to get it, a conversation began about a quiz night someone knows where you have to race against Shazam to identify a song.
At which point, I caught a bit of vocal.
“Sounds like Gram Parsons to me,” I offered. Ten seconds later, the waitress appeared clutching the vinyl sleeve of “Grievous Angel”.
I’ve been watching the reruns of the 80s Top of the Pops since they first started airing on BBC4 for quite a while now and absolutely love them. It’s a great little trip down nostalgia road, and, if I’m honest, gives me a nudge in the direction of certain songs that appear here at some time or another.
There’s also the added bonus of the occasional appearances of John Peel hosting it, of course, coming across as your slightly put-upon grumpy uncle with his deprecating wit and withering intros.
When they first started rerunning the shows, there was one a week and it was shown on the same week anniversary of it having aired, which was something I loved: that this was what I was watching exactly twenty-five years ago. Of course, the shows got all out of sync for a while, as certain editions hosted by certain former Radio 1 DJs, weren’t able to be re-broadcast for fairly obvious reasons. They seem to have got it sorted out again now, and the shows appear to be pretty much in time with their anniversary, but for most of 2016, while I still tuned in, I found myself irritated that it didn’t quite work, that they showed a Christmas edition in the middle of the year. This struck me as being easy enough to resolve – just hold back a few episodes, or play an extra couple, until they lined up again. I began to wonder if maybe this was some kind of OCD I had developed where my enjoyment of a repeat was tarnished simply because the edition they showed in the final week of August 2016 wasn’t the same edition as they showed in the final week of August 1980.
I mention all this now, because today, January 27th 2017, is a very special day. It is the day that a film gets released which is the sequel to an era-defining film from 1996. And much as I loved that film, and much as I fully intend to go and see the new one, I feel a little niggle that whilst it is set twenty years on, it has come out just slightly later than the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first film. I feel safe mentioning this now, because I saw the film’s director, Danny Boyle, being interviewed the other day, and he said he was a bit disappointed they hadn’t quite got it out in time too.
I speak of course, of this:
I should stress that this is the only thing that irks me about the sequel. What I do find immensely promising is the fact that this almost happened ten years ago, but all parties agreed that the script then wasn’t quite good enough. Since all of the surviving originals and director are on board now, this gives me hope that “T2: Trainspotting” will be something a bit special.
I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about going to see this, to catch up with Renton, Spud, Sickboy and Begbie after all this time. The movie is loosely – very loosely, from what I’ve heard – based on Irvine Welsh’s follow-up novel “Porno”, which I really enjoyed, although I seem to be in a minority there. Part of me rather wishes they had actually called the movie “Porno” just so I could make a joke about going to a cinema to watch a Porno, but you can’t have everything I guess.
Not only was the original movie a quite brilliant, ground-breaking film (they showed it on TV the other night, and I found myself dragging myself to bed at 2am having promised my self I was only going to watch five minutes), it also had an era-defining soundtrack album (actually, it had two, but the second one really wasn’t a patch on the first), and for around six or seven months in 1996, pretty much every one had a copy of it.
You’ll all know it, of course; kicking off with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and featuring Underworld’s breakout hit “Born Slippy (NUXX)” it was an album which, with the benefit of hindsight, did more to make me start listening to dance music than anything else. Except ecstacy a few years later, of course, but that’s another story for another day.
Chief among the dance tracks on the album which caught my ear was this one, and to this day I find a massive grin spread over my face when I hear it.
If “T2: Trainspotting” is half as good as the original – and the reviews I’ve seen so far seem to agree it is at least that – then I know I’m going to love it. It’s pencilled in for me to go and see next week. I seem to have Wednesday evening free. I cannot wait.
And we’re back! Back! BACK!! (obligatory Smash Hits reference for you there.)
Here we go with another dose of interactive blogging; you all know how this works by now, so we’ll crack straight on.
Last…erm…time, we left you with “C30 C60 C90” by Bow Wow Wow and the usual plea for your suggestions for songs that can be linked to that tune.
Younger readers may not know what the C30 etc in that title stands for, so allow me to explain in a slightly patronising tone.
Many years ago, music as we know it today did not exist. MP3s was the name of a robot from Star Wars (probably); the term “streaming” meant that water, or some other liquid, was flooding out of something.
Back in those dark days, us old timers listened to music via the radio, (sometimes referred to as the wireless, but let’s not go there or things will get really complicated), or cassette tapes. These could either be purchased pre-recorded, or blank, onto which we would record the vinyl records (some naughty people recorded songs from the radio, which is definitely not okay, as we will find out), and these cassette tapes were then played on cassette players or, later, on portable devices called a Walkman. The length of the blank tape varied, and the 30 signified you could record thirty minutes of music onto it, the 60 held sixty minutes, and so on.
I mention all of this to save any puzzled looks when we start going through the suggestions, for many of them refer to that medium of music presentation.
“C30 C60 C90 refers to taped music [okay, you’ve put that a lot more succinctly than I just did…] – you can tape to tape and in days gone by this would be in the form to reel to reel tapes. So Reel to Reel by Simple Minds from when they were good please.”
“From when they were good”, eh? Well, that certainly narrows things down quite a bit:
That Mad Stuntman, he really was quite mad, wasn’t he? Textbook lunacy, there. Lovely stuff.
Over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense who ventures: “Can I get away with 3 suggestions in one comment?” You can, but I will of course break them up into three separate suggestions and post them all out of sequence and context.
“1) C30, C60, C90 – all variants of the most portable music delivery method [Can you all stop putting that more succinctly than I did please?] Now all you need is something to play them on whilst on the move. Aah .. the Walkman – which leads (in my mind) to a roller-skating Cliff Richard in the video for Wired For Sound.”
It’s the stuff of dreams, if you’ve eaten far too much cheese before bedtime, that video:
That bit when he’s driving…does it remind you of anyone….?
May not make the midnight deadline now, as I have literally just watched that about ten times.
Anyway here, for anyone who may want to listen to it and be reminded of all that lycra again, is the single:
“I remember well dancing to Go Wild In The Country by Bow Wow Wow back in the day (Mr WIAA,A?’s predecessor and I used to do a bit of show-dancing to that one) but another song about being In The Country (but not being wild) was by Sir Cliff & The Shadows back in 1966. Sir Cliff is also a great tennis fan and although this is tenuous, Annabel Croft was our British female no. 1 for a while and the lead singer with Bow Wow Wow was also called Annabel(la) so a double link.”
They’re a band that have managed to pretty much pass me by, are Tapes ‘n Tapes. I remember reading about them, but never actually hearing anything by them. I think I was put off by the missing apostrophe from the other side of ‘n. Time for me to investigate some more, I think.
“C30, C60 & C90 were all commercially available cassette tape lengths [Ahem…! What did I just say….?] (as was C120, but who used those?) [Erm….] and the Bow Wow Wow song in question was the first ever cassette single. Pete Murphy of Bauhaus famously appeared in a TV advert for Maxell cassette tapes, so I’ll go for ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’”
Brace yourself now, as we are about to step into the nerdy world of which cassette tape was our weapon of choice back in the day. Welcome back, Alyson:
“The tapes of choice for me were usually made by Philips which was a Dutch company and 2 Unlimited were Dutch…… Oh no, did that link last week time.
Include another L in Philips and you have the surname of half of the members of The Mamas & the Papas and I don’t know about you but “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day, I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A., California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.” Yes it’s a bit of California Dreamin’ from me.”
And here’s Dirk from Sexyloser to chuck his thoughts on the matter in:
“For me it always had to be BASF cassettes, they really were the best. Although, somehow, they smelled rather disgusting, strangely enough ….”
They say the olfactory sense is the most powerful in terms of invoking childhood memories, so let’s see what that little sniff and scratch session has brought back to Dirk’s mind:
“I was thinking about other famous people with a nice mohawk (‘cos that’s what always impressed me mightily when looking at Annabella [of Bow Wow Wow] back then … that and her figure, of course … I always thought she was smoking hot! Still admire her today, to be brutally honest! Perhaps I should be careful these days when saying such things, bearing in mind she was only 13 or 14 when the first singles came out, and I don’t want to end up being the one with the paedophiliac stamp in future posts of The Chain! Then again she’s two years older than me, but does this fact legalize my continiuing adoration? Interesting subject, once you think about it …”
You do realise you’re talking out loud, don’t you Dirk? Reign it in, old chap.
But before you do, here’s Martin to add a little background to Dirk’s ramblings:
“Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow was famously photographed for the album sleeve art with not too many clothes on, despite being a minor. Cue tabloid frenzy and a visit from Scotland Yard for Malcolm McLaren. And on that basis, I’ll make my suggestion, an ode to being sure she’s old enough…”
Back to Dirk, who hopefully has had time to have a cold shower. Dirk, fancy picking up where you left off, and maybe coming up with something which not only links to the subject record, but also to Martin’s suggestion?
“Famous people with a mohawk are Mr. T out of the A-Team of course, but also Robert de Niro as Travis Bickle in ‘Taxi Driver’, which gives me a fine opportunity to annoy George (again) and link to The Clash and ‘Red Angel Dragnet’ [because it features several lines of dialogue lifted from the film]“
Back to SWC now, with his second choice, and his second choice by someone who has passed me by, mostly because I’ve always viewed him as a Billy Bragg wannabe, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we’ve already got one Billy Bragg, so…
Anyway, having listened to this, I may have to reassess.
We’re almost at the end of the Tape links, here’s Dirk with one more, no build-up, no pre-amble, just introduced by the words: “Clever, eh? But this happens when you remember every old shit no-one else knew all along!):
“One of the best uses of tape in a promo video was of course in “America What Time Is Love?” By The KLF.”
It took me ages to work out what he meant. See if you can spot the reference:
Jules will be back shortly with some actual suggestions. Some of which I may even allow.
I haven’t suggested anything for a while. Feeling a bit left out actually. So how about I wrap up the Tape section with one of mine?
Every now and then, post The Chain, I get an email from George, telling me how much he loves a song that I’ve posted. They are always the songs that I least expect him to like, which is a mark of the man. George, I mention this because, going off some of the previous ones you’ve told me you enjoyed, you’ll love this, if you don’t know it already (though I would imagine you do).
Tidying off the tape section with another Reel song, here’s The Chemical Brothers:
Oh and George: next time you email me, there’s no need to attach the video clip of you dancing round your kitchen. But if you must, please can you be wearing some trousers next time? Or at least some underwear. Thank you.
Okay, before we move on to the next batch of links, a couple of random ones. First up, is Alex G from We Will Have Salad:
“Let’s play Chain Letters! Take Bow Wow Wow, change a letter, and you get Bow Wow Now, which is a song by Dubstar”
Quite a short game, really, that, wasn’t it? I suggest you work on a second draft before submitting it to one of the major TV channels. Although, stick the word ‘Celebrity’ at the start of it, and Channel 5 would probably be interested in it right now:
One of the other recurring themes that came up after last week’s time’s source record, was home taping, the hobby/habit/thriftiness/call it what you will that so many of us of a certain age indulged in in our youth, sitting hunched and “hovering over the Pause & Record buttons on your knackered old tape recorder when the Top 40 was on a Sunday evening…cursing when you accidentally taped even the briefest snippet of Bruno Brookes…” as I once described it elsewhere on these pages.
This was known as piracy, which led two of the Chain Gang to come up with suggestions.
“One thing immediately comes to mind, and it’s a double-linker! C30, C60, C90 Go! was a song about taping music off the radio – music piracy. The pirate skull and crossbones flag was called the Jolly Roger. Bow Wow Wow consisted of ex-members of Adam And The Ants, also formerly managed by McLaren. Adam banded together a new bunch of Ants and modelled himself as some kind of glam-punk pirate, recording a song called ‘Jolly Roger’ on the album ‘Kings of The Wild Frontier’.”
And then came The Great Gog, who I am used to receiving a suggestion from at around 3am the morning after I post The Chain. This time, he has a rather unique way of coming up with a suggestion:
“Like Robster, I started thinking of piracy, in particular the old cassette and crossbones logo that used to adorn many an album cover back in the early eighties. “Home Taping Is Killing Music – And It’s Illegal”, that one. This set me wondering how quickly I’d find one of these if I were to randomly pull out a few records from my vinyl collection. Around a minute or so as it turned out. The Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut LP was the album in question. Did any particular track lend itself to The Chain? Well, much home taping was done from the good old wireless, so a case could be made for “Blacks/Radio”. Of course, I’m now wide awake listening to said album through headphones when I should be sleeping like the more sensible members of my family…”
Mention of the ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ campaign reminded me of this alternate logo, which always made me chuckle, and which at least one other blogger used to use on their website. Can’t remember who, suspect it may have been Dirk, but wouldn’t want to swear to it:
I had that made up into a couple of t-shirts (for myself), so I probably owe somebody something for that blatant copyright breach. Ah well. Join the queue.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Home Taping is Killing Music thing. Here’s Rigid Digit with the second of his suggestions:
“2) Fuelling the Home Taping Is Killing Music campaign, the cassette single of C30, C60, C90 … Go had a blank side – this also led to the band parting company with EMI. The logo was used in the back of Venom’s Black Metal album with the words ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music… So are Venom’…Venom have a place in my ears, but if I’m honest, they really aren’t that great…”
Don’t start backing down before we’ve even played it, Rigid!
So, here’s some words I never thought I’d type. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Venom:
It won’t have escaped your attention that musically that’s based on this:
My two favourite bits on that song are when Cyndi Lauper comes on and kicks some ass (vocally), and (long term readers and friends, forgive me for making this joke yet again), the bit where Bob Dylan does his impression of Cartman from South Park.
But I digress, yet again.
Having allowed Rigid’s three suggestions to appear almost uninterrupted and in sequence, I’m going to break with tradition and allow the same thing to happen with babylotti’s.
But first, round our way, whenever someone name drops, we tend to shout the word “Clang!” It is often bawled at me when I start regaling people with stories of all the bands and comedians, some on the way up, some on the way down, some going absolutely no further, that I worked with, albeit usually only for one night, back at the end of the 1980s/start of the 1990s. I mention this now, apropos of nothing.
Over to you, babylotti:
“Being from Coventry the thought of bootleg tapes immediately brings to mind my first serious music love, Ska. Or Two Tone Ska as it’s become known as. So my first suggestion is Gangsters by The Specials with the line ‘Why must you record all my phone calls…’ [I’ve had the privilege of playing as drummer with several members of the band since]…”
“…My next suggestion is staying with the same scene & to suggest The Selecter & On my radio, the 1991 version is better IMO. And I’m proud to say I actually deputised as their keyboard player for one gig, a very happy moment!”
To the dogs! And one from me, from an album that I’ve had for a while, but never really given it much of a chance; not sure why, probably partly because I’d not been fussed about their last one, partly because with Hooky gone I didn’t think they’d sound anywhere near as good, despite the decent reviews the album got.
But then the other night, the Iggy Pop growled his way out of my speakers on a tune I didn’t recognise. This one:
When we were kids, although I have no recollection of my brother going to stay in Germany (and I know I definitely didn’t, I tend to remember that kind of stuff), we played host for a couple of weeks to a German exchange student by the name of Ralph. And of course, part of the task of having a foreign exchange student is to teach them about the British way of life, sample our culture, teach a little history even.
It was only years later that it occurred to me that perhaps there were less inappropriate, more tactful places of interest that we could have taken a young German lad, away from his family for the first time, than the Duxford Imperial War Museum, which has, amongst many other things, a permanent Battle of Britain exhibition.
Second Ralph story isn’t really a story, but everyone who knows me knows that having featured a song by Ralph McTell, I simply cannot resist posting this:
Over to Jules, again, who is now in full on pun mood:
“Been feeling a bit ruff lately so I thought I was barking up the wrong tree with the cassette link until I did my sums
I don’t know if this particular story crossed your radar a couple of years ago, but it’s a prime example of why television interviewers, like barristers, should never ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. Especially when you’re interviewing a Welsh farmer who has recently met Mr Dogg, and who drops da bomb at around 01:18 on this clip:
Here’s Jules with…a less successful suggestion:
“Oh! As mentioned many times Bow Wow Wow lead’s to dogs which are canine….. Sounds like K9 to me the robot dog in Dr Who
Put all the ingredients [including the earlier KLF reference] into the blender and simmer for a while and one gets
The Timelords’ ‘Doctorin’ The House’.”
Apologies Jules, but I can’t allow that one as it’s featured on The Chain before (The Chain #28, to be precise, before you started frequenting these pages, I think), and is therefore now off limits.
When I get time, I’ll set up a page listing everything we’ve posted here so far. Might take me a little while as we’re fast approaching the 800 mark, mind, but it will happen sooner or later, as I do hate having to disqualify a perfectly good suggestion on these grounds.
So, we’ve done dogs, but what about dog noises?
“Bow Wow Wow is the noise a dog makes, as described by a child… who might describe said dog as a doggy… hence:
“Twee but terrible,” he continues, before going on to suggest what is unquestionably the Worst Record of The Week. “So how about the noise that dog makes? In which case, “Ruff Mix” by Wonderdog, in which sampled barks are used for lyrics?
“Fascinating (debatable) fact,” Martin adds, “the human voice of Wonderdog, in promo appearances, was none other than Simon Cowell in a dog suit – mindboggling and depressing in equal measure. Also twee but terrible.”
If only he’d stayed there, eh readers?
Two songs to go, and it’s at this point that I suddenly realise I haven’t sorted out the next song in The Official Chain which we’re all trying to either guess, or better. Bit of an oversight by me that.
I’ll leave you in Rol’s capable hands whilst I sort that out. Rol, it’s all yours, and try to pad it out a bit, will you?
“If you want a link that requires (a little) explanation, then…Bow Wow Wow is the sound of a dog barking, so…”
Before we have the final record, can I just say that all that up there that you’ve just read, that’s why I love doing this, and that’s why I don’t want to introduce any maximum suggestions per person. For where else would you hear Bauhaus, Snoop Dogg, The Pooh Sticks, Wonder Dog and King Crimson in the same post, other than here at The Chain?
Apart from on Charles Manson’s record player, of course.
So, to the official tune, and some of you got within a whisker of the link, if not the actual tune:
“C30/C60/C90 – types of cassettes. Cassettes were made by Dolby…”
So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link to Thomas Dolby’s “Hyperactive!”, along with your explanation on the links you propose.
And don’t forget, we’re moving to Sunday as of next post, so the next edition of The Chain will be with you the first weekend in February. Feel free to make your submissions as early as you like though.
Here we are, in the last full week of January 2017, and so far we’ve only had one edition of “the best thing on the internet” ™ (not my words, the words of Top Gear magazine more than one you kind folks) so far this year: The Chain.
Truth be told, I’ve been finding it quite hard to get myself motivated to write it. I’m not sure if this is a case of the January blues. I think not.
I think it’s to do with the amount of work it takes (and yes, I know I always say that I just host The Chain, but since most of you write or have written blogs yourselves, I think a lot of you recognised that as utter bullshit false modesty.)
Maybe if I talk you through the process of how it is (normally) created, you’ll get the idea.
Wednesday: between 23:30 and midnight, post the latest instalment.
Thursday & Friday: erm, not a lot happens here, move on.
Saturday, Sunday & Monday: start sourcing all of the songs suggested so far that I don’t already own.
Tuesday: source all of the cover art, and any outstanding suggestions. Try and make some sort of narrative sense out of the songs, so that it’s not just “SWC suggested this:” and “George came up with this:” Try to think of some clips to include, as well as my own suggestions. Place all the songs on a playlist on my iPod.
Wednesday: listen to the playlist on the way to and from work, trying desperately to think of something, hopefully something funny or at least mildly amusing, to say about some of them. Get home. Start writing. Finish sometime between 23:30 and midnight, publish, eat.
Now I don’t want to sound all ungrateful, because I’m deeply touched that you all stop by here, read what I have written, leave kind comments and superb suggestions for the next edition. But frankly, last week I found myself approaching Monday night with a certain amount of…not dread, more apathy. The same on Tuesday. And again on Wednesday.
See, I spend my entire working day, as I’m sure many of you do, sitting in front of a computer screen and sometimes the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is to spend another five or six hours in front of another one.
I’m not having a pop here, by the way; lawd knows that I encourage you all to make multiple suggestions, sometimes posting the ones you mention in passing even if you have specifically stated it’s not your actual suggestion. I’ve always wanted this place to be an interactive blog, so I’m certainly not complaining now that The Chain is exactly that.
But, in short, something had to give, and unfortunately for the past couple of weeks, that’s been The Chain. And for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been mulling over what to do about it.
Here’s the options as I see them:
Limit the amount of suggestions to two per person. I’m not doing this. Apart from what I’ve just written, I genuinely love seeing the stepping stones of your thought processes as you skip from one tune to another. So we can rule that out.
For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t actually start writing The Chain until all the suggestions are in, so perhaps instead of giving you seven days, we could make it five. I’m not doing this, as I think it would exclude some of you who, having posted something earlier in the week, suddenly come up with an absolute blinder at the nth hour. So we can rule that out.
Make The Chain a fortnightly post. Nah, I don’t like that either, as it just means I’ll have two week’s worth of tunes to write come Wednesday night. Next.
I can knock it on the head now, quit while I’m ahead.
Hmm. I have always said that once writing not just The Chain but this blog in general becomes a chore, then it’s time to stop doing it.
So, fellow Chain Gangers, it is with a very heavy heart that I announce that tomorrow’s edition of The Chain, the 36th edition, will be the last.
…To be posted on a Wednesday.
Instead, after tomorrow we’ll be moving to a Sunday. This will give me the whole weekend (assuming my hectic playboy lifestyle allows it) to tinker around writing it, rather than trying to cram it all into a five hour space I don’t really have spare. Also, it means I should have more time to write about other stuff during the week, and read some of your excellent blogs, which I am very, very behind on.
Hope that all meets with your agreement?
And just in case it does turn out that it’s just a case of the January blues, I intend to listen to this anytime I can’t be arsed with writing:
So there I was, trying to decide what song I would post this week, on our visit to that perfect Indie Disco where songs which don’t normally get played “out” get a spin.
I had alighted on one and was mulling over what to write about it, when the phrase “…a keyboard that would make Clint Boon swoon…” came to mind to describe it. Which made me think that perhaps there was a more appropriate band I should focus on this week instead.
Yes that’s right, none other than The Clint Boon Experience the Inspiral Carpets.
Very much a “singles band”, I think, and much played back in the day (by which I mean, when I started DJ’ing at college, circa 1989), the Inspirals, along with bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and The Charlatans, very much saved my bacon. When I first started DJ’ing (I wrote about that here, in case you care to catch up), for the first few months my co-DJ Danny and I realised that perhaps the appetite for an Indie Night just wasn’t there amongst our fellow students.
See, this was a time when post-Smiths “indie music” wasn’t the bankable commodity it became after Britpop followed Grunge followed Shoegaze followed Madchester, and that time just happened to coincide with when we took over the fortnightly indie night. For the first couple of months, to say we struggled to break even most weeks was an understatement. The venue we played in had a capacity of 400, and often we would struggle to get anywhere near the treble-figure mark attending. There was talk of the night being axed altogether, and Danny and I scratched our heads as to what we could do to save it. We certainly didn’t want to go down in Students Union history as being the guys who killed the only alternative music night.
And then we got lucky. Suddenly this new sound, this distinctive baggy, Madchester groove, started getting more airplay on the radio, and before we knew it, the “kids” were suddenly asking us for us to play all these new bands predominantly from the North West, sometimes bringing us records to play, all turning up to our night wearing flared trousers and hooded tops, keen to look cool and show off their Bez dance, if those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
Danny and I seized the moment with both hands, which is four hands if you think about it, seeking out and playing more and more of this stuff: Northside, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, The Mock Turtles…and then the existing indie bands, your Primal Screams, your Soup Dragons, started releasing their own brand of indie/dance crossover and having…bloody hell, what’s this..?…hits! Suddenly, our little indie night was the place to be seen every other Tuesday night, and before we knew it Danny and I achieved a very low level of fame, hosts of “that night where they play the cool stuff” before the more commercial Saturday Night DJ’s had sunk their teeth into them.
Inspiral Carpets were very much a “must-play” band for us back then; but if you hear them played out these days, I guarantee you it will probably be either “Dragging Me Down” or “Saturn 5” which has the dust blown off its grooves; fine singles both, but it’s in the direction of an earlier, less polished, single that I want to lovingly prod you.
Actually, no, make that two singles: for when I decided it would be the Inspirals that would feature here this week, I couldn’t make up my mind which of two to post. So here you go, have them both, because they are both absolute corkers.
Firstly, a song which, when Hel and I used to share a flat, we would sing whenever watching ‘Match of the Day’ and a certain ex-Man City and Everton forward would get a mention: