The Chain #37

“Sunday, Sunday here again in tidy attire
You read the colour supplement, the TV guide…”

Well, you can now add “The Chain” to the list of things to read on a Sunday, although events have rather caught up with me, meaning that it will be a race against the clock for me to get this finished by the end of the day.

We ended The Chain #36 with “Hyperactive!” by Thomas Dolby and the usual request for your suggestions for songs that can be linked to that tune. Let’s see what you came up with.

First, a batch of songs which link to “Hyperactive!” the song, and “Hyperactive!” the physical state, first amongst them being submitted by Rol from My Top Ten:

“‘Hyperactive!’ begins with a psychiatrist asking Dolby to “Tell me about your childhood.” So my first choice is…”

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Black Box Recorder – Child Psychology

Which allows me to blow the dust off of my Chain Catchphrase early doors this week. So, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Radio Edit)

A few weeks ago, Babylotti got in touch to put me on notice that he was looking to suggest a song which he thought it would be impossible for me to locate a copy of. This week is the week he put that into practice:

“Okay so starting off with the Hyperactive link, it reminds me of another 80s songster, Alexei Sayle. He had a hit with ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ (not the link yet) [which is lucky, as it’s featured before, so I’d have had to disqualify it] in the charts at the exact same time as ‘Hyperactive!’, [I’ve checked this, and it is correct: 26/02/84, ‘Hyperactive!’ was at #29 on it’s way down from #17, whilst ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ was at #35 on it’s way to the giddy heights of #15]  but in 1982 he released a single as the Albanian World Cup Squad, ‘Albania! Albania!’ (as threatened/promised!). With a chorus quite reminiscent of the Blackadder theme tune, I first heard it on the Anne Nightingale show back then, had been after it ever since.”

One of the rules here at The Chain is that if you suggest a song then you must be able to supply a copy of it in the event that I don’t already own it, or am unable to source it. This has happened 4 or 5 times since we started, and you won’t be surprised to learn than I couldn’t find this one. I had been prepared for this, as Babylotti previously advised me that as far as he was aware, it was only available on one website.

That website, he revealed, was his Soundcloud page. Should be easy enough to find, I thought, typing the words “babylotti” and “soundcloud” into Google. Did it find babylotti’s Soundcloud page? Did it heck. But what it did reveal is that some chap called Rick Shide has been reposting The Chain verbatim for a few months now on something called ‘Inoreader’.

Let’s all give Rick a wave, shall we?

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Hi Rick!

I’m sure you’re all as flattered as I am.

Anyway, to babylotti’s suggestion, which he ended up adding to his own blog, Livin’ Out Rock’n’Roll in order that you can all hear it today. I have to admit, it is pretty funny:

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The Albanian World Cup Squad – Albania Albania!

Babylotti then goes off at a bit of tangent, which is fine, as long as it’s justifiable, and his next two suggestions are, linking to “Hyperactive!” via the aforementioned Alexei Sayle record:

“I’ll then stay with the football theme and choose the song from when New Order ruled the world, World in Motion. The greatest football song ever, and that’s coming from a Republic of Ireland supporter…”

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New Order – World In Motion

Of course, one of the highlights of that record is the rap performed by John Barnes, and let’s be honest, other than that goal against Brazil, it was probably the most impressive thing he ever did in an England shirt.

Caught up on the tube in August last year, Barnes was kind enough to treat his fellow travellers with an impromptu rendition:

“And my last one,” babylotti rounds off, “which always reminds me of Goal of the Month:”

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The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

It wasn’t just the song title “Hyperactive!” that was linked to; many others linked to Hyperactive the condition.

Over now to Jules from Music From Magazines. In case you have any issues deciphering Jules’ contributions, as I did this week, please note something he said in a Comments Conversation we had yesterday:

“Please check the time I posted this , music from mags rules are only post in pubs…”

A fine rule, which I may have to bring in as mandatory…

Anyway, here’s Jules’ first suggestion:

“A Hyperactive Thomas can cause many problems, so let’s get it out the system and try Ivor Biggun and….”

Stop right there. Let me just slap one of these labels on this one:

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Although, it’s hardly needed, you can pretty much get the gist from the sleeve, the artist (I use that term most misguidedly) and song title:

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Ivor Biggun – I’m A Wanker

Ivor Biggun is a the “comic” creation of Doc Cox, who some of you may remember from his stint as one of the co-hosts of consumer show “That’s Life!”, a show spoofed here by the “Not The Nine O’Clock News” team (albeit, in pre-Cox days):

Thankfully, The Robster from Is This The Life? is here to de-smut proceedings:

“If you are hyperactive, some, or all, of your senses are working overtime so at the risk of requesting something that’s been used before….”

I must admit, I thought it had too, but nope!

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XTC – Senses Working Overtime

A couple more suggestions from me now. A quick browse through my thesaurus tells me that synonyms of the word “Hyperactive” are “Over Excited”, so….

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The Housemartins – Five Get Over Excited

…and “Excitable”, so…

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Amazulu – Excitable

If you ever need to investigate whether there was a link between increased illegal drug use (non-contraceptive) and teenage pregnancies in the 1980s, then you could probably cite this record, for gleefully announcing over a summery, steel drum tune that the lead singer is “drowning in amphetamines” and, even more irresponsibly, that “I don’t care if you get me into trouble”. Yours faithfully, Outraged, Tunbridge Wells.

Finally in this first batch, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who, like me, went to see ‘T2 Trainspotting’ this week and, like me, bloody loved it. That’s a recommendation, by the way.

“Ian Watkins from the group Steps was always called “H” which was short for Hyperactive – If you’ve ever seen him being interviewed on telly (no I wouldn’t admit to it either) you will know why. The song of theirs that I’m going to choose is…”

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Steps – Tragedy

That’s not quite what I first thought the “H” stood for, if I’m honest…

Regular visitors to these pages will know that each week one suggestion is crowned “Worst Record of the Week”. Unbelievably, this week that record is not by Steps.

Moving on, and several of you provided links to Mr Dolby himself; here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense with one of them:

“Thomas Dolby was in The Camera Club (a band, not a photographic society) with Bruce Woolley.  Bruce Woolley was co-writer (with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, the song which epitomises all things 80s (even though it was released in 1979).

Many earholes have agreed that the Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club version is superior.”

Let’s find out, shall we?

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Bruce Woolley – Video Killed The Radio Star

Over to Walter from a few good times in my life:

“Thomas Dolby wrote ‘New Toy’ by Lene Lovich a song that was played often long long years ago”.

Not be my, it wasn’t: other than her totally ace/bonkers (delete as applicable) Stiff release “Lucky Number” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything else by her:

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Lene Lovich – New Toy

Okay, now I have.

The first suggestion we received this week was from The Great Gog, whose nominated track leads us rather nicely into the next batch of similarly-themed-suggestions:

“A fairly straightforward double-link springs to mind immediately. Thomas Dolby was involved in the production of Prefab Sprout’s ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ album (although duties were shared out on that one). That album just happens to include another song with an exclamation mark at the end of the titles, so “Hey Manhattan!” it is.”

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Prefab Sprout – Hey Manhattan!

Yes, The Great Gog was not the only person to suggest a song on the basis that it, or the performing artist, had an exclamation mark in the name somewhere.

Welcome to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything with a swift three in a row followed by a mic drop:

“Hyperactive has an ! at the end of it. This I think also adorns the cover of “Enough is Enough” by Chumbawamba…”

It does:

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Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation – Enough Is Enough

“If it doesn’t then I will go for ‘Hyper Enough’ by Superchunk…”

Well, it does, but I’ll allow this on the basis that, well, because it’s Superchunk:

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Superchunk – Hyper Enough

“Or continuing the ! theme ‘Annihilate Now!’ By Idlewild.”

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Idlewild – Annihilate Now!

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Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, who suggests a song by a band who are very dear to me indeed:

“Hyperactive has an exclamation mark at the end. Mid-80s twee-merchants The Chesterfields used to use an inverted exclamation mark as the “i” in their name, so how about ‘Ask Johnny Dee’ by The Chesterfields? Or maybe that should be The Chesterf¡elds…”

Taken from their jingly-jangly guitar lost classic “Kettle”, an album which came out in 1987 on the oft-overlooked Subway Records label; I recently placed it in a “Top 1o albums which have stayed with me” Facebook round-robin thing.

I’d completely forgotten about the ! in their name, and I have to say I’m bloody delighted to have the chance to post a song by them, even if they are very much “of their time”.

Oh but before I do, a clarification from Martin:

“On closer inspection, the exclamation mark in The Chesterfields wasn’t inverted, just normal i.e. The Chesterf!elds.”

It’s still in.

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The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee

Last of the Exclamation Marks now, and another of my suggestions. In all honesty, when the first song linked by the exclamantion mark came in, I thought there would be no way that somebody wouldn’t suggest something by this lot.

If you don’t know this band, but like “House of Jealous Lovers”-era The Rapture, then I’d heartily recommend you give this a spin, if for no other reason than it’s prowling Slits “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”-esque bass line:

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!!! – Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)

Okay, on to other Thomas’s now, and back to The Great Gog:

“Around the time that Mr. Dolby was first active musically, there was another keyboard player called Thomas releasing records, albeit with less commercial success – Thomas Leer. Mr. Leer later went on to be part of Act, who had a minor hit with ‘Snobbery & Decay’.”

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Act – Snobbery & Decay

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this, featuring Claudi Brücken, who was also in Act:

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Propaganda – Duel

Also hailing from the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog, here’s Badger:

“From Thomas Dolby to a Thomas who actually quite good – Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk and the click tastic ‘Giorgio by Morodor’.”

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Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder

“My second choice,” continues Badger, “is ‘Thomas the Fib’ by much missed dancey jazz pioneers Red Snapper from their excellent ‘Prince Blimey’ album. Prince Blimey being the bastard son of Prince William and Katie Price from their ill advised affair of 2001. That was exposed by the Daily Mirror after Wills was seen leaving a kebab shop at 3 in the morning and letting himself into the back door of Price’s Penge Maisonette.” [Can we insert the word ‘allegedly’ in that at least once and preferably several times please? – Legal Ed]

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Red Snapper – Thomas the Fib

Right, you know who this week’s instalment of The Chain is missing? George, that’s who. Up you step, George:

“From Thomas (Dolby) to the diminutive Tommy, which could lead to any number of tracks from a double by The Who, but won’t, but does lead to Eric Clapton who performed Eyesight to the Blind in the film Tommy (I went with my mum to see that film).. Sonny Boy Williams (the second one) does the original”

I’m assuming it’s the original version that you want:

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Sonny Boy Williamson II – Eyesight to the Blind

Now, remember earlier that Jules revealed that he only ever posts when in the pub? Here’s another one from him, which he submitted after I had asked what on earth he was dribbling on about in two of his other suggestions (one of which i still don’t understand):

“St Thomas supported Lambchop at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth some years back, as the encore started we had to go to get the last ferry home. And the song a cover of The Stranglers “(Get a) Grip (of Yourself)’.”

Some admin, from me: the St Thomas referred to does not imply that Thomas Dolby has received some kind ecclesiastical sanctity; it is the performing name of one Thomas Hansen. Also, the cover isn’t by St Thomas, it’s by Lambchop, a live version of which appears on their “Rainer on my Parade” album, but I’m posting the studio version.

Some admin from Jules: “This [choice] is not a reference to my previous ‘I’m a Wanker’ suggestion.”

If you say so, Jules, if you say so…

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Lambchop – Grip

Two more categories to go now, and unsurprisingly, many of you linked to Thomas Dolby’s surname, and the technical side of sound reproduction.

I’ll let Martin explain:

“Dolby, as anyone of a certain vintage (i.e. all of us) knows, is the de facto tape hiss reduction technology. Dolby-B was most common. Dolby-C less so – better hiss reduction but too much loss of treble. Dolby-S came knocking just as tape succumbed to burning your own CDs instead, but it was brilliant! Especially if recording on a good quality metal tape (TDK MA90 or, better still, Sony Metal-XR)… sorry, turning into a hi-fi geek. The suggestion. So for me, Dolby makes me think “S” and hence, unfortunately, S-Express and ‘Theme From S-Express’. Not something I’m desperate to hear again…”

Long-term readers will know that some time ago I ran a very short-lived thread about the samples used on certain records, and ran one post which looked at exactly this tune. You can read it again here (not sure if the links are still active, let me know if not).

Anyway, here’s S’Express:

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S’Express – Theme From S’Express

Next to chip in is Michael, who suggests the sort of tune that Dirk normally does:

“Thomas Dolby > Alternative TV. Dolby as noise reduction, most TVs today have Dolby. I guess Action Time and Vision kind of sounds hyperactive.”

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Alternative TV – Action Time Vision

Before we go any further, a suggestion of a different sort. As mentioned earlier, one of the rules here is that we don’t play the same tune twice (unless the first time it was played it was because it featuring in The Official Chain, rather than being suggested by one of us). When you leave your Comment/Suggestion, you should have the option of ticking a little box which lets you know if anyone replies to your Comment – please tick this, for in the event of me being unable to source the song, or in case I need you to clarify your suggestion, or, as happened here, you suggested something that had already featured, it makes it a lot easier for me to get in touch with you. Thanks.

So, back to Rigid Digit:

“Spinal Tap reference time:

 When discussing the failure of their new album (‘Smell The Glove’), Jeanine Pettibone (David St Hubbins’ girlfriend) stated that the problem with the album was that “You can’t do Heavy Metal in DOBLY”

Suggested track: ‘Stonehenge’.”

Which we’ve had before (#32). So, in the absence of a response from Rigid to my request for an alternative suggestion, I’ve, er, plumped for this one:

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Spinal Tap – Big Bottom

Back to George now, who picks up the Dolby theme and runs with it, followed, it has to be said, by more than one of us:

“The Dolby system on tapes was to reduce hiss. Something else that makes a hiss is a snake, hence the track ‘Long Snake Moan’ by P J Harvey”

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PJ Harvey – Long Snake Moan

“See how I didn’t choose Union Of The Snake by Duran Duran…?” George signs off.

What, this?

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Duran Duran – Union of the Snake

A joint suggestion now, for The Swede of Unthought of, though, somehow nominated a tune that was on my not-so-shortlist, which he very graciously said he’d step aside and let me nominate. However, a better idea, I think is if we jointly suggest this and then both have another go at a snake related tune.

Over to you then, Swede:

“As George so rightly pointed out the Dolby system was developed in part to reduce tape hiss. Another thing that hisses is of course a snake, so let’s have ‘The Snake’ by Al Wilson.”

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Al Wilson – The Snake

Bloody great, that, isn’t it?

Ok, so The Swede’s extra suggestion goes thusly:

“I’ll suggest ‘Snakes and Snakes’ by Bell X1, an old favourite tune of both me and Mrs S.”

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Bell X1 – Snakes and Snakes

Ah. Well that pretty much beats my alternative snake song, which features a snake, the arch nemesis of the titular character, called Hissing Sid:

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Keith Michell – Captain Beaky

Nope, that’s not the worst record of the week either.

Some of you knew that Thomas Dolby was heavily involved in the development of ringtones; Rigid Digit says that he “…invented the Nokia Ring Tone (cue oversized mobile phone a la Trigger Happy TV: “HELLO!, I’m on the Internet. It’s very boring (mostly, but there are some places worth visiting – honest!)”

In case the reference to oversized mobile phones means nothing to you, Rigid refers to this:

..which prompted babylotti to pipe up:

“You’d almost want to go with Mario Piu’s Library there, it samples Dom Joly’s favourite phrase.”

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Mario Piu – Library

Quite an uninspring bit of cover art, that, isn’t it. Let me see if I can find a more appropriate library related picture…

*rummages around*

Ah yes, this seems about right:

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Anyway, where were we? Ringtones, that’s where. And here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad with, without even the merest shadow of a doubt, the Worst Recod of the Week, by a country mile:

“Thomas Dolby went on to basically invent polyphonic ringtones. I therefore suggest this week’s worst record, ‘Axel F’ by Crazy Frog, on the grounds that it’s Thomas Dolby’s fault. I dimly recall there were some further, possibly even worse, follow-ups, but I think Axel F will suffice to remind us of the evil that Thomas Dolby has visited upon the world. His crimes must never be forgotten.”

It’s alright for you lot, you don’t have to listen to it, like I do when I check the copy I *ahem* aquired is clear and has uploaded okay.

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Crazy Frog – Axel F

I once berated a guy I worked with for having that as his ringtone.

As I mentioned when Alex posted that, the one redeeming feature of that record is, if my memory serves, that it stopped Coldplay from getting their first ever number one single.

Speaking of Coldplay, a suggestion from Charity Chic of Charity Chic Music fame:

“Thomas Dolby had the look of a mad scientist and indeed did ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. So, ‘The Scientist’ please – not the Coldplay original but rather the Willie Nelson cover.  If you can only find the original please don’t bother.”

Always a pleasure to deny Coldplay twice in one post.

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Willie Nelson – The Scientist

“Failing that, E=MC2”, CC adds.

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Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2

Just two more suggestions to go now; penultimately, back to The Robster:

“The quirky scientist Dr Magnus Pyke guested on another of Thomas Dolby’s hits ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. In his Wikipedia entry, it claims one of the many books he’s written is ‘Tricky and Portishead and Other Stonehead Bristol Sounds of the Future.’ I have seen references of this come up occasionally in other places, but have never actually managed to track down any credible suggestion that such a book even exists. However, it’s a fantastic thought that Dr Pyke would have written such a thing, so I’m also going to suggest some things links with my other suggestion: Tricky’s cover of XTC’s ‘Dear God’.”

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Tricky – Dear God

Which would be where we’d leave it, but one last peek into the pub to see what Jules has been up to leads to something about him being too old to be in a fight, about Donald Trump, an admission that the one suggestion I still don’t follow “…still makes not a lot sense…”, that I should “…ignore previous drunken ramblings…” and most pertinently that “…I needed some Billy Bragg…”

So, as a one off, while I’m not at all sure how this links to the source record, I’ll assume that somewhere there is a link buried deep in Jules inner psyche, play it, and leave it at that. It is rather fine, as relevant today as when Woody Guthrie first penned the lyrics:

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Billy Bragg & Wilco – All You Fascists

Woody Guthrie died in 1967.

And so to the next song in The Official Chain, and once again, once of you was mightily close, getting the right band, the right link, but the wrong song.

Here’s the link:

“…Thomas Dolby produced an album by Prefab Sprout…”

Here’s the song:

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37. Prefab Sprout – Bonny

Here’s some Bonus Points for The Great Gog for proving Meat Loaf right when he sang “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”.

And here’s a request for your suggestions for songs which link to “Bonny” by Prefab Sprout, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for next Sunday’s edition (by which I mean, by Saturday night, please!)

More soon.

This Is Pop #2

I’ve never really been all that bothered about Katy Perry.

Didn’t really care that she’d kissed a girl, much less whether or not she liked it. I  yawned with indifference when she duetted with Snoop Dogg on “California Gurls” (and probably would have moaned about the spelling of “Gurls” too, had it not been for Big Star’s “September Gurls”), or with Kanye West on “E.T.”. I shrugged with disinterest when she married Russell Brand, turned over the page of the celebrity gossip column when I learned they had split.

Then one day, I read that Miss Perry had brought forward the release date of her single “Roar” to September 1st 2013, which just so happened to mean it was coming out in the same week as Lady Gaga’s “Applause” (I swear I remember reading this, although everywhere I have looked when fact-checking this article contradicts my memory; “Applause” first charted in the UK on 24th August 2013). Anyway, I remember thinking this might be the latest instalment in those famous pop rivalries that crop up every now and then, a la Beatles v Stones, Blur v Oasis.

I’d briefly quite liked Lady Gaga when I heard her first album, which I’d stumbled across long in advance of her becoming the international icon she is now, courtesy of a blog that has long since perished, and which to my eternal shame I’ve forgotten the name of. But like the shallow idiot I can be sometimes, I’d quickly gone off Lady Gaga when she got famous, not because she got famous, more because I was just sick of hearing about her and her bloody meat dress.

But the article piqued my interest; I mean, what if I liked Katy Perry’s “Roar”, but I also liked Lady Gaga’s “Applause”, how would I know which was best? There was only one way to find out…

Listen to them both and make an informed decision, of course.

Secretly, I had already decided that Gaga would undoubtedly triumph, she was the undisputed (current) Queen of Pop, right?

Wrong!

“Roar” is an absolutely monster of a record, a perfect piece of pop, full of pomp, positivity, determination and defiance in equal measures. So there:

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Katy Perry – Roar

Ah, you may as well hear the Lady Gaga tune too:

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Lady Gaga – Applause

I mean, s’alright but it’s no “Poker Face”, is it?

“Applause” peaked at Number 5 in the UK chart; “Roar” made Number One and stayed in the Top 100 for 49 weeks. It was the first time in years I’d liked, or even knew, a record that got to Number One.

More soon (and there’s a clue somewhere in all of that as to where we’re going next week).

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, an absolute classic Country song.

I mean, it must be a classic, just look at all the folks who have recorded versions of it over the years:

Guy Mitchell, George Jones, Leroy van Dyke, Kitty Wells, Jack Reno, Johnny Tillotson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dwight Yoakhan, Martina McBride, Rosanne Cash, Connie Francis, The Playtones, Buck Owens, and most recently Sean Spicer (featuring a DJ Trump on really small handclaps) who categorically made the very best version, released on Bowling Green records, which sold several gazillion copies, which is the best amount to sell, more than any other record has ever sold ever, and don’t let the press or the media tell you any different.

Putting biting satirical comment aside for a moment, here’s the first version ever released, in 1959, by Ray Price, just months before Guy Mitchell released it, also in 1959 when it made #1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Price’s version made #2 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart:

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Ray Price – Heartaches by the Number

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Although she’s arguably better known these days for the three albums she released with former Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan, Isobel Campbell first crossed the collective radar as a member of Scottish indie-popsters Belle & Sebastian.

For my money, Belle & Sebastian, whilst still occasionally wonderful, just haven’t been as consistently great since Isobel left.

I always thought she was criminally underused when she was in Belle & Sebastian; she didn’t sing lead vocals on a track until their Brit Awards busting third album, the  “The Boy with the Arab Strap”, and then once more on the follow up, “Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant”, which is probably my favourite album by them.

There’s something about both songs – and that something is undeniably Isobel’s frail, winsome, folky voice – which makes them stand out from the rest of the tracks on those two albums.

It’s the song that she sings on “Fold Your Hands…” that we’re visiting for our weekly dose of late night loveliness tonight:

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Belle & Sebastian – Family Tree

 More soon.