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:
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?”) 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:
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:
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:
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 – both aged 13 – had 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 “Léon“ 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:
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 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”.
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.
Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.
Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.
FX: The door slams shut.
Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?
Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.
Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”
Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.
Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.
FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.
An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.
Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!
Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.
Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.
So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.
The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.
The only rules are:
No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it)
Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?
That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.
Okay, that’s the admin done. Last time out, the source record was “The Universal” by Blur; personally, I found this a really tricky one to link to, especially as I have to wait and see what’s left after you guys have nominated all the good ones. Ho hum, such is life.
So, here we go then, and as usual, we’ll bracket them into several fairly broad categories and, as usual, we’ll probably wander off on a couple of tangents along the way.
Of course, CC was not alone in suggesting a link to something of Universal appeal; Dirk from sexyloser proffered thusly:
“…because not enough good German music is being featured on these pages, I’d like to link to Die Sterne – ‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ from 1994 …. which in fact is a mighty record indeed!”
I was going to make a rather unkind joke about the phrase “good German music” being an oxymoron, but then I listened to Dirk’s suggestion and have to agree, it is mighty fine (even if I have not one clue as to what it’s about, although Google Translate, which is never wrong, obviously, tells me that a Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher ):
From the Universal links, it’s one small step to the universe, and space in general, and to our second new member of The Chain Gang of the week, abramson60, the 60th from the very noble Abramson family, as Adam Buxton would say:
Anyway, abramson60 has certainly got the hang of how to make sure you get lots of tunes played here: list of a load of songs he’d considered before finally plumping for a completely different one. I, of course, cannot resist:
“Universe would automatically take me down the space road, so you could have….”
“…not forgetting that he went on to become the nation’s favourite spaced out artist.”
But, “…sticking with universe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had long lasting and profound influence on the somewhat naive 16 year old me who first saw the film at the tail end of the 70’s. So my pick is ‘I’m Going Home’, not quite sure where to but somewhere in the outer reaches of space.” I’m not sure I quite follow the link there, but as it’s your first visit, I’ll let it slide this time:
Next up, Martin from New Amusements, who takes the “list a load of songs then pick a completely different one as their choice” approach adopted by abramson60 and combines it with Rigid Digit’s focus on the song’s lyrics:
“The Universal includes a line about ‘satellites in every home’ so we could go with that, enabling…”
If I could just butt in for a moment, I can’t hear that record without thinking of this record (and vice versa) since I can’t help but think that while it’s not a straight-out sample, the synth melody line, owes more than a little debto the old instrumental Martin suggests:
Martin’s actual choice will follow in a moment, but props where props are due, the category it falls into was first suggested by The Robster from Is This The Life? (well, actually, it was first mentioned by Rigid Digit last week time)
“My link comes in the form of British Gas adverts. The Universal was, as you point out, used in an ad campaign for British Gas. So was ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston, which despite ticking all the middle-of-the-road 70s AOR boxes, is a damn fine tune and one I always find myself playing air guitar to. True!”
It may well be, but unfortunately that’s featured in The Chain before, so, as per the rules above, I can’t allow it this week. Sorry!
Tell you what, have another go:
“Another gem from the British Gas archive is the wonderful ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass which cannot fail to give everyone a lift on a Monday morning.”
Back to Martin again: “…let’s go down the route of the Blur track’s British Gas-based ubiquity, all the excuse we need to have ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones, since that tells us ‘it’s a gas, gas, gas.'”
After those words from our sponsors, back to The Great Gog:
“‘The Great Escape album’ from which The Universal is taken also includes a song called ‘Top Man’. When I was younger (and a little less Great) I used to venture into Manchester and frequent a store of that name, and occasionally even buy something. Having done this, my then-significant other would drag me to where she wanted to buy stuff – Chelsea Girl. Obviously the title of a song by Simple Minds…”
“…so,” Rol continues, “I’ll point us towards the character of Seymour in the movie ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and suggest the song ‘Feed Me, Seymour’ as sung by the killer plant Audrey II (aka Levi Stubbs from The Four Tops).”
You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.
I’ve got Snuff covering that too somewhere, but let’s not overdo it, eh? That would take us over the 2 minutes of Snuff records mark, which would never do.
Any more, abramson60?
“Having said all of that I would much prefer to offer up Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations (any brownie points for extra long band names?) [Nope – Ed] and Hazy Lazy Hologram, link being obvious and in hazy, and everyone loves drug induced music, don’t they?”
And what of the individual members of Blur, there must be some links there, right?
Guess what, here’s abramson60. Again.
“Blur’s singer is Damon Albarn who is the son of Keith Albarn, who once managed Soft Machine, whose drummer Robert Wyatt went onto have a solo career, recording ‘Shipbuilding’ which as we all know was written by Elvis Costello, who took part in the Red Wedge tours along side Billy Bragg. So my suggestion has to be ‘Valentine’s Day Is Over’.”
I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I had no idea of the Albarn connection to Soft Machine, and secondly, abramson60 did suggest this back on February 15th, which makes his choice of Billy track a little more understandable.
Speaking of George, he’s been rather quiet so far this week, so here’s the first of his suggestions:
“Damon Albarn was/is also in a band called Gorillaz, and gorillas are in a branch of primates, as are monkeys, leading to ‘Monkey On My Back’ by The Triffids (from the Field of Glass EP). I think the song is not actually about monkeys.”
(My apologies, by the way: I realised I’ve misnamed the mp3 as Toots and The Maytals, rather than just The Maytals, but I really can’t be arsed with changing it.)
The Great Gog’s back again:
“I did have one more up my sleeve, but left it in case anyone else came up with it – they haven’t , so here goes. Blur’s lead singer is D. Albarn. Shuffling one of those letters to the left a bit allows me to type Dr. Alban, the early 90’s hitmaker who made such a lasting impression on me that I can only recall one of his tunes…”
“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”
I may aswell chuck one in to the Alex-mix. When he isn’t making cheese, or being in Blur, he’s also popped up in some questionable novelty acts, most famously with Fat Les, but also in Wig Wam, a truly awful project that I’m not going to offend your ears by playing. His partner-in-crime there, though, was one Alison Clarkson aka Betty Boo:
But since all the rest of the band are getting at least two songs, we may as well have one of his singles. Friends of mine will attest that every time we’ve heard thisplayed out, I always point out that the intro sounds a lot like “Into the Valley” by Skids (Since nobody has ever agreed with me on this point, I’d post it so you could compare, but as it’s already featured on The Chain once before, I can’t. Who made these stupid rules up anyway??):
Which just leaves drummer Dave Rowntree, and a suggestion by The Beard:
“He shares his surname with the confectioners Rowntree. They are based in York and created the KitKat. York City’s Bootham Crescent ground was for a period renamed KitKat Crescent. ‘Crystal Crescent’ is a track by Primal Scream amd nothing to do with chocolate or the city of York.”
Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:
“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”
So, all that laves me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Small Faces, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.
Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?
I received a really lovely couple of emails from long-time viewer George this week.
George and I have been in touch for many months now, since I was first unable to source a track for The Chain which he helped me out with. Since then, we’ve exchanged emails every now and then, often talking about politics or current affairs, but more often than not, about music.
The first email I got from him this week advised me that he had ordered a copy of an album I’ve featured a couple of times before here; the second was telling me it had arrived, he was listening to it and loving it, and thanking me for bringing it to his attention.
I replied that since I knew of the record because my dad owned a copy when I was a kid, it should be him George thanked, and that I’d pass on his thanks to him.
Which I did yesterday, and he seemed pretty chuffed that someone else had bought an album as an indirect result of him purchasing it forty-odd years ago.
So I figured it would be appropriate to post something else from the album in question. Perhaps the most well-known version of today’s track is performed by The Whites and appears on the soundtrack of the Coen brothers’ 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, and is a song recorded many times by the Carter family dynasty – in fact, it’s practically The Carter Family’s theme tune. A.P. Carter’s tombstone even has a gold record of the song embedded in it.
Here’s the version from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” triple album, complete with explanatory introduction by none other than Mother Maybelle Carter:
Mention of The Jesus & Mary Chain in the post yesterday, drew me to their much maligned 1993 almost-acoustic album “Stoned & Dethroned”.
It’s an album that I’ve always really liked, and have never really understood those who sneer or turn their nose up at it. Granted, it’s no “Psychocandy”, in fact it’s no “Darklands” either. But it definitely has its moments.