Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s my least favourite day of the year today.

Mother’s Day.

Just kidding! Today is the day that the clocks go forward an hour here in the UK, meaning I get an hour less in bed.

Actually, that’s not true, and I’ve never really understood people who say that. Stay in bed for the same amount of time as usual, and let the hour be taken out of the rest of the day.

Anyway, it is also Mother’s Day, so here’s something appropriate which has featured here before, but when I started trying to think of an appropriate track to play on this Mother’s Day, I couldn’t get this, from the much missed Merle Haggard,¬†out of my head:

merle-haggard-and-the-strangers-mama-tried-1968-4

Merle Haggard & The Strangers – Mama Tried

More soon.

Advertisements

This Post Is About What You Think It’s About (Sort Of)

In my post earlier, I mentioned that I wasn’t going to comment on the events in London this week, and I stand by that.

But I will comment on those who use the events of Wednesday afternoon to push their agenda.

Shortly after the incident, Katie Hopkins was interviewed by that bastion of impartial disinformation, Fox News. In that interview, she described Londoners as being “cowed and afraid”.

Now I appreciate that this is a shooting fish in a barrel situation, but Katie Hopkins can fuck right off.

Londoners are neither cowed nor afraid. Aware, yes. Vigilant, most definitely. But cowed and afraid? Nonsense. I’m yet to speak to any resident of London who isn’t approaching their day-to-day life in exactly the same way as any resident of any other major city around the world, whether they have been subjected to a terrorist attack or not: with a resolute determination to carry on as normal.

Hopkins is nothing more than a failed reality TV contestant trying to make a name for herself by spouting the most vile bile she can. Open a dictionary to see what the definition of “knee-jerk” is, and there’s a picture of Hopkins (there isn’t, but there should be).

She lost a court case¬†recently for implying that the claimant, Jack Monroe, had defaced or vandalised war memorials.¬†(She sent him a Tweet which read: “Scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?‚ÄĚ) Monroe was awarded ¬£24,000 in damages.

But this wasn’t the first time Hopkins has been sued. In 2016, Mail Online was forced to pay ¬£150,000 to a Muslim family whom Hopkins had falsely accused of extremist links

All of which would be hilarious, had it had any semblance of effect on her.

There is of course, nothing overtly funny about any attack such as the one which took place on Wednesday; that said, there is humour – and truth – to be found in any situation, and props on this occasion goes to a tweet I saw shortly after the identity of the attacker had been announced:

Screenshot_20170325-083114 (2)

You can see how popular that was.

Farage was, of course, on air on LBC Radio on Wednesday night. I didn’t listen, I could imagine what he was saying. I’m sure (ahem)¬†that he oversaw a fair and reasoned debate. The only time I’ve ever listened to Farage on LBC was when he was interviewed by James O’Brien, who I now officially love,¬†in the run up to the Brexit referendum. This lasts just shy of 20 minutes, but is well worth your time:

I appreciate that I’m arguably adding to the problem with this post, but I don’t understand why Hopkins and Farage are still given the oxygen of publicity. Or any oxygen, for that matter.

Hopkins, Farage: prepare yourself for the worst than can happen to you. I’ve chosen a song from the early 1990s that seems appropriate:

114857816

Ugly Kid Joe – Everything About You

BAM! Eat music, motherlovers.

More soon.

This Post Is Not About What You Might Think It’s About

I live in London. Some stuff happened in London this week. You may have heard about it.

Whilst of course my thoughts and condolences go out to those that¬†lost friends, family, relations on Wednesday, I’m a firm believer in not giving the perpetrators the oxygen of publicity. Not that I think for a second that in a cave somewhere a member of so-called ISIS is charging up their camcorder whilst reading this and saying “The infidel is posting songs by popular Liverpudlian beat combo Echo & the Bunnymen in defiance of us!” Broadband and caves are not the happiest of bedfellows, for a start.

So whilst this morning’s songs may seem to be applicable to that situation, that’s purely coincidental. This post is not about that. Although, I would have absolutely no objections to you listening to today’s songs with current affairs in mind. I don’t control your thoughts, do what you like (within reason).

No, this is about a friend of mine who’s been having a bit of¬†a hard time of it recently. I won’t name names, but if they’re reading this, they’ll know who they are.

For you, two songs. First, this, the opening track from one of the greatest comeback albums ever released, and some words of wisdom from the real Fab Macca:

Bunnymen_dontletit1

Echo & The Bunnymen – Don’t Let It Get You Down

Oh, and this, from someone whose name came up in conversation on Friday, but modesty prevents me from saying why, and which I’ve posted before, a long, long time ago:

Teenage+Fanclub+Mellow+Doubt+453803

Teenage Fanclub – Some People Try to Fuck With You

Chin up.

More soon.

This Is Pop #7

Over the years, Sugababes, with their ever-changing line-up, which now consists of precisely none of the original members, have become the source of many a joke for precisely that reason. Since the line up has changed, Sugababes should no longer be called Sugababes, goes the argument.

I think that’s rather unfair. Nobody says¬†Arsenal shouldn’t be called Arsenal¬†anymore, just because it hasn’t got the same players as it had in 1886, do they? They might win more games if they did, mind (I know, I know: unwise words when the North London derby is on the horizon). No, any right minded football fan insists they should be called Woolwich, where the club was formed.

Anyway, formed in 1998, founder members Siobhan Donaghy and Mutya Buena Рboth aged 13 Рhad been signed by All Saints manager Ron Tom as solo acts, but met at a showcase and decided to work together. Buena invited her friend Keisha Buchanan to watch them rehearse one day, and Tom invited her to join the band, comparing the three of them to the United Colours of Benetton advertising campaign which was causing as much controversy as it could at the time.

Originally named the Sugarbabies, this was changed to Sugababes when they signed to London Records, to give them a more mature image. They had their first hit in 2000. Which makes them 15. I wonder: is it appropriate to foist the moniker “babes” on 15 year old girls?

I’m reminded of a routine by comedian Ed Byrne, who, believe it or not,¬†has done jokes which are not about Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”:

In 2001, Donaghy quit the band, and was replaced by former member of Atomic Kitten, Heidi Range. Of course, when looking for a new band member, your first port of call would naturally be someone who used to work with Kerry Katona.

To be fair, it seemed to work, for in 2002 the band enjoyed their first Number One single in the UK with the Gary Numan/Tubeway Army sampling cover of American R&B singer Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me”, and their second with the follow-up “Round, Round”. There’s a cracking Soulwax remix of that which I posted some time last year, so the link’s probably dead by now.¬†I’ll dig it out again sometime.

The next single was “Stronger”, written by the band along with a chap called Jony Rockstar. I suspect this may not be his real name.

A year later, they were back, with their third album, entitled “Three” (see what they did there…?), but not before they had released “Shape”, which sampled Sting’s “Shape of My Heart”. Critics were sneery about the sample, yet I don’t recall anyone complaining that 1994 classic movie L√©on was spoiled by having the Sting song played in its entirety¬†over the closing credits.

Buena left the band in 2005 and was replaced by Amelle Berrabah (you are keeping up with all of this, aren’t you?) leaving just Buchanan as the sole original member. Four years later, and with the band’s selling powers on the wane, she followed suit, being replaced by Jade Ewen who had represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest earlier that year¬†(we’ve been here before, I think…). She performed the Andrew Lloyd Webber¬†penned¬†“It’s My Time”, which it clearly wasn’t as she came fifth.

Sugababes, I’m surprised to learn, have not officially split up, although they haven’t released anything new since 2010. For some time the remaining members occasionally announced that they were either in the studio or working on new material, as if it were the sort of announcement that should be¬†immediately followed by a ticker-tape parade and the announcement of a public holiday.

But band members old and new have kept themselves busy: Mutya Buena appeared in, and walked out of, Celebrity Big Brother 6. She now owns¬†the rights to use the Sugababes name on paper, cardboard,¬†stationery and gift wrapping products, but crucially, not on any records. But you can’t move for Sugababes embossed paper, cardboard,¬†stationery and gift wrapping products can you, so it sounds to me like she got a pretty sweet deal.

Keisha Buchanan recorded 50 songs for¬†a solo album which never saw the light of day; in an interview she explained “there is no particular musical direction” which might explain why she wrote that many songs. Either that or she mistakenly thought she had joined The Magnetic Fields.

In 2012, it was reported that Range was going to join the Spice Girls, replacing Victoria Beckham, a rumour quickly scotched by Emma Bunton. Instead, she turned her attention to television, where she was to be a team captain on ITV1’s “Totally Senseless”, along with Brian Dowling and host Steve Jones. Ever heard of it? Me neither. Probably because¬†ITV ultimately declined to pick the show up.

Just let that sink in for a moment:¬†a show so bad that even ITV won’t air it.

I’m shocked – how could a show with such a glittering line-up of talent fail?

In 2013, she was first to be eliminated from the 8th series of Celebrity Masterchef, when she presented Greg Wallace with a Pop Tart.

In 2013, Jade Ewen was one of the celebrity contestants on¬†ITV1’s godawful diving show “Splash!”; she was the first to leave the show and revealed afterwards that she only did the show for the money. No shit, really?

Just let that sink in for a moment: “Totally Senseless” was considered by the powers that be at ITV to be worse than “Splash!”

In November 2015¬†Ewen announced that she had won the coveted role of Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin”, which is definitely a musical and definitely not a pantomime.

In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums named the Sugababes as the most successful female act of the 21st century. Yes, you read that correctly: the most successful female act in a century that was a whole six years old.

But enough of this sniping. Sugababes genuinely did make some bloody great pop records, and today’s choice is where it all began, back in 2000,with this, which has the¬†greasy¬†paw-prints of one Mr Rockstar all over, it if I’m not mistaken:

51uY2lSBvhL__SS500

Sugababes – Overload

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #6

Just as I was heading to bed the other night, I performed my obligatory sweep of the TV channels to see if there was anything worth staying up for; I stumbled across “A Taste of Honey”, the film adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s play, starring Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryant. I wisely decided staying up to watch it all was not a good idea, so hit record closely followed by the sack.

As I drifted off into sleepy bye byes, at that annoying moment when your body is all ready to drift off but your brain suddenly thinks of something liable to keep you awake for some considerable time if not dealt with properly, I recalled that Delaney had featured as the cover star of a single by a band I adore. In fact, she also featured on the sleeve of an imported double compilation album by them too.

I would expect approximately 99.9% of you will know where I’m going with this already. The other 00.1%, listen up.

Today’s song formed part of a release which, it seems, led to the end of one of the greatest bands not just of the 1980s, but ever; a band whose legacy as an influence was not really appreciated by many until some 10-15 years after they split.

I speak, of course, of The Smiths.

August 1987, and The Smiths were about to release what would be their last album of original, studio-recorded material, “Strangeways, Here We Come”. But first, the lead single, “Girlfriend in a Coma”; the 12″ and, lest we forget, the cass-single formats heralded two tracks which were not to be included on the album.

The three tracks, “Girlfriend…”, “I Keep Mine Hidden” and “Work is a Four Letter Word” almost seem to compete against each other to see which can be over quickest, weighing in with timings of 2:04, 1:59 and 2:48 respectively. I don’t mean that they seem rushed, far from it. They just seem, well, short.

Brevity of course was a feature the band understood very well. Take “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” which is just 1:53 long. That song is, simply, perfection. Anyone who thinks that “Please, Please…” suffers because of its duration fails to understand that the finest moments in life don’t last for long; you must cherish them, savour them, for soon they will be gone.

But I digress. One of those extra tracks, “Work is a Four Letter Word”, is often cited as being the reason The Smiths split. In an interview with Record Collector in 1992, Johnny Marr said: “‘Work Is A Four Letter Word’ I hated. That was the last straw, really. I didn’t form a group to perform Cilla Black songs. That was it, really.”

The final two singles the band released (“I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”)  soon followed, and it has just occurred to me that the additional tracks on those releases were all different versions of already established favourites: the Troy Tate produced version of “Pretty Girls Make Graves”, Peel Sessions of “Rusholme Ruffians”, “Nowhere Fast” and “William, It Was Really Nothing”, a live version of “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” (containing an extra verse, axed from the album version) , a live cover of “What’s The World”, a song by James.

That’s because, I now realise, “Work is a Four Letter Word” was recorded in the same session as “I Keep Mine Hidden” and as such today’s choice is the last ever original composition recorded by The Smiths:

the_smiths__girlfriend_in_a_coma_by_wedopix-d5dqj0v

The Smiths – I Keep Mine Hidden

The same 99.9% of you will know that the original vinyl releases of all (or if not all, most) of The Smiths records had a message etched into the run-out groove. The message on the B-Side of “Girlfriend in a Coma” reads: “And never more shall be so”.

In other words: Goodbye.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

All the links on yesterday’s long-overdue Chain to all things Blur made me realise they were yet to feature in this section.

Well, that makes today’s choice of record a no-brainer, since there is one early Blur single which is so overlooked that the band didn’t even bother to include it on their “Best of…” album.

Let me get something straight: “The Best of Blur” was not a “Best of..”, it was a Greatest Hits album, the¬†title chosen because¬†of it’s alliteration.

And how do I know it’s a Greatest Hits album? Because every track on it was a hit single, that’s how.

If it was a “Best of…” album then it would contain a smattering of album tracks. It would have “Tracy Jacks” on it for a start.

But no, today’s track was bumped in preference to the extremely shonky “Music is My Radar”, one of those “Exclusive New Tracks!” which have absolutely no right appearing on a “Best of…” compilation at all, especially not when it’s at the expense of one of the brighter highlights among many¬†highlights of a band.

I’m thinking, of course, of their fourth single, the one that bridges the gap between debut album “Leisure” and follow-up “Modern Life is Rubbish” whilst appearing on neither; of a single which criminally only peaked at number 32 in the UK charts in 1992.

I’m thinking, of course, of “Popscene”:

39541

Blur – Popscene

I don’t need to say anymore, do I?

Thought not.

More soon.