Say what you like about the bloody Corona virus, it does have its plus points.
For example, tonight is Halloween, and can you hear that noise? No? That’s because there isn’t any: there has been not one knock at my door from a bunch of kids who’ve made minimal effort with the idea of fancy dress, thrusting open bags out imploring me to furnish them with sweets.
I say this like I ever answer my front door. Of course I don’t: that’s what my downstairs neighbours are for.
The Government even issued advice this week, as the prime minister’s official spokesman, when asked about the prospect of trick or treating being banned this year, clearly read from a card which said: “The rules are those which apply to household mixing in general. And what that means in practice is, if you’re in a ‘Very High’ alert level then you cannot mix with other households indoors or in private outdoor spaces. “If you’re in a ‘High’ COVID alert level then the rule of six applies in private gardens and outdoor spaces but households must not mix indoors. And in terms of the ‘Medium’ alert level, you can meet indoors and outdoors in groups of no more than six people. The rules are there for all circumstances and people will have to use their common sense in ensuring they are following the rules.”
You’ll notice that mention of “common sense”, and we all know what that means. It means: “If Dominic Cummings happens to get photographed knocking on doors and trying to relieve good, honest, hard working, decent British folk of the contents of their last packet of Fangtastic, then that’s perfectly fine, he’s just using his common sense like any parent would.”
But I digress.
Don’t get me wrong, for whilst Halloween and the “tradition” of Trick or Treating really pisses me off, it wasn’t always thus. I spent my first few formative years living in the USA where it was a huge communal event. Remember the Trick or Treating scene from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial? This one:
Well, that’s pretty much how I remember it (although, one can never really be sure if that’s because I’ve seen that movie so many times, or whether I do actually remember it).
When I returned to the UK in the early 70s, I found that Trick or Treating simply wasn’t a thing. Nobody did it over here. Consequently, my excellent Spiderman suit got put in a box and shoved up into the attic, never to to see the light of day again.
I’m not sure precisely when it happened, but over the years, it’s an American tradition which we’ve readily adopted, like Black Friday and disliking immigrants.
Aren’t we sending kids a very mixed message with Trick or Treating though? Every other day of the year, parents teach their kids not to talk to strangers and definitely never take any sweets off them for fear of what might happen if they do, and then for one night of the year, they are encouraged to knock on total strangers’ doors and demand that they be given confectionary, permitted to make threats about what might happen if they don’t. It’s like Deliveroo for paedophiles.
I heard my favourite Halloween/dressing up story on a very old edition of QI. The question was: Why did the Haslemere Home for the Elderly close down? And the answer was this: Because of a series of bizarre endings for its inhabitants…
In September 1960, a male inhabitant of the Haslemere Home for the Elderly in Great Yarmouth died of a cardiac arrest after fellow resident, 81-year-old Gladys Elton, performed a striptease. Five more of the residents were consequently treated for shock.
Hold on, I’m getting to the point.
A year later, there were three more deaths at the same home after one of the patients, 87-year-old Harry Meadows, dressed up as the Grim Reaper and peered through the window brandishing a scythe. This incident closed down the home.
I like the sound of Harry.
Which leads me here. They were a bit late with their advice, to be honest:
I mentioned in passing a while ago that it’s hard to have one of my Saturday morning rants sometimes, because satirical behemoths Have I Got News For You (BBC1) and The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4) have already aired and I worry that I may be accused of stealing someone’s point, or worse, their joke.
So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve not yet listened to this week’s edition of The News Quiz, but I have watched this week’s edition of Have I Got News For You and my heart sank when one of the panellists made exactly the same point as I intended to make in this post. I’ll let you know when I get to it.
Other than the continuingly inept handling of the Covid crisis, the big story over the past couple of weeks has been Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to ensure that whilst the crisis continues, he’d rather children whose parents were unable to work because of the crisis didn’t starve. Of course, that ethic extends to all children, but the main thrust is those whose families are directly affected by Covid in terms of their ability to work.
Mistake number one by the Government: having acquiesced to his previous campaign, they awarded him an MBE thinking that would be enough to make him go away. But here he still is, being a pain and asking for more.
Quite right too: we’re nowhere near beating Covid, more and more areas are being pushed into Tier 3 restrictions and things are not getting any easier for a lot of people.
And yet: his proposal to extend the free school meals provision for those on Universal Credit or equivalent into half-terms and the Christmas holidays was backed by a Labour motion, which called for the scheme to be extended even longer, into school holidays until Easter 2021. It was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – a majority of 61.
I imagine those “up North” who lent the Conservatives their vote at the last election, only to see their local areas dealt with entirely differently to, say, us in That London, are really pleased with their decision and will be doing so again next time around.
By way of justification for voting down a bill which seems such a no-brainer to vote for, a whole stream of Tory MPs we’ve never heard of before were pushed in front of TV cameras to justify the Goverment’s position, and pretty much all of them gave this as the reason: parents have to learn to feed their children without the Government’s help. They should learn to not rely on hand-outs and freebies.
Mistake number two by the Government: don’t double down on a decision which in effect says: poor children can starve for all we care.
And this is where my point chimes with a panellist on Have I Got News For You and I have to say I was most surprised the panellist in question was Tory peer Baroness Warsi.
For MPs have a subsidised bar and restaurant within the Houses of Parliament. And to clarify what that means: MPs get to eat and drink cheaply, and we pay the balance. I’m sure they’re all demanding to pay full price in there. Or maybe not, given the situation with the MPs pay rise.
It was recently announced that ministers will still get the MPs’ pay rise along with all members of the House of Commons, but they will not receive any increase on the separate salary they receive on top as members of the government.
The annual rise for MPs is based on a comparison with public sector pay and is subject to a consultation process which ends in November, with a final decision expected the following month and the rise taking effect from April 2021.
On top of their MP’s pay of almost £82,000, ministers receive separate government salaries worth £75,440 for the prime minister, £67,505 for secretaries of state and between £22,375 and £31,680 for lower-ranking ministers.
Recently, it was leaked that Boris was “struggling to survive” on such a meagre income. Perhaps the CSA have finally caught up with him for all those children he’s somehow managed to father. Whatever, my heart bleeds for the poor man, getting paid all that money to do a job he can’t do.
But this goes further than that. You’ll doubtless recall the expenses scandal from 2009 – do you think that has stopped entirely? Or that MPs no longer accept (and declare) any freebies that come their way? Really, if you follow the logic of their argument through, then they should learn to live without these gratuities, right?
Well, as it happens, the 322 Conservative MPs who voted against extending Free School Meals during holidays have themselves accepted £130,780.72 of “declarable” free hospitality during the last (pandemic hit) year. So we have a classic case of “do as I say, but not as I do”.
For example: the Conservative MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she happily accepted £494.23 worth of complimentary pizza for a party.
For example: the Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, Helen Grant, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she accepted £500.00 worth of complimentary food and drink for a party of 50 people.
For example: the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, Sajid Javid, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet he received £713.70 worth of complimentary wine.
For example: Anthony Mangnall, Conservative Member of Parliament for Totnes and South Devon, and Darren Henry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 yet received, respectively, £3000 to assist with living costs and £2850 to assist with rent in his constituency.
For example (a bit more high-profile this one): Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, but accepted £2340.00 hospitality from Manchester City and the FA.
I could go on, but I may as well just direct you to @grumpyfactcheck on Twitter who provided all of those stats which I’ve used without their permission (I don’t think they’ll mind) and who has posted many, many more examples of Tory hypocrisy.
All these MPs who quite literally have learned to rely on hand-outs and freebies.
And this is the thing, and it goes back to the whole Cummings driving to Durham and then for a two hour jaunt to check his eyesight: we all know there’s one rule for the toffs and one rule for the oiks, and most of the time, though we might shout about it and stamp a bit every now and then, we just accept that’s the way things are.
But in the dangerous, scary times we find ourselves in now, and as the Government vacuously trumpets that “we’re all in this together”, wouldn’t it be nice if just for a second we might think that’s true?
Some songs, the first of which I dedicate to every Conservative MP who voted the bill down but has accepted any freebie or gratuity:
I have a solution to all of this, and I’m with Lemmy (RIP) on this one:
Imagine the crackling on Boris. Yummy.
I don’t know what else to say except that this is the next song on the Mixing Pop and Politics mix-tape I’ve mentioned before, and right now it seems a better idea than at any time before:
As the dark nights are drawing in (and my humour is as black as them), I suddenly find myself with a little more time on my hands of an evening, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, now the Champions League has restarted and there are no teams worth watching competing in it this year (don’t message me!).
And so it is to the tellybox I turn for solace and companionship, and last night I ventured on to Netflix and watched a film called Juliet, Naked.
It’s not that sort of a film, in case you were wondering. I’d hardly announce it to the world if it were.
No, Juliet, Naked is the latest Nick Hornby book to be adapted into a film. Or rather, I think it’s the latest, there may have been another once made since, if I’m honest, I haven’t checked.
I’d read the book a few years ago, could remember thinking it was okay and could sort of remember the basic premise of the plot, but couldn’t recall any of the finer details or how the book ended.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about it: “Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie (the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan) and her unlikely transatlantic romance with once revered, now faded, singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, who also happens to be the subject of Duncan’s musical obsession.“
Just to clear up the title: Crowe’s most famous release was a break-up album called Juliet, but shortly after its release twenty years earlier, he suddenly disappeared from the limelight, to where and to do what nobody quite knows. But in one little corner of the internet, there is a blog and a forum, run by Duncan; Duncan considers Juliet to be the greatest record ever made and is obsessed by Crowe, or more specifically with talking on line with other devotees about what might have happened to him.
And then one day, a CD arrives in the post, with the words Juliet, Naked marker-penned onto it, and an unsigned note explaining that the CD contains the demo versions of Juliet, which the sender thinks Duncan would probably enjoy hearing.
I’ll go no further for fear of spoilers.
The cast is pretty good: Rose Byrne as Annie, Ethan Hawke as the washed up Crowe, Chris O’Dowd is Duncan. We’re in safe hands here, you feel.
I’ve generally quite enjoyed the film adaptations of Hornby’s books: Fever Pitch would be great if it wasn’t about Arsenal; High Fidelity is, of course, wonderful; About a Boy stands the test of time if you leave it a couple of years in between viewing rather than catching it every time it auto-repeats on whichever of the ITV channels it’s most recently landed on; A Long Way Down was pretty good if rather over-looked.
Usually, they also have a pretty good soundtrack too, and since I found out that the film was directed by Jesse Peretz, who used to be the bass player in the Lemonheads, I was hopeful the same would be true of this movie.
Juliet, Naked does not have a great soundtrack. The problem is that much of the music included is tracks from either the Juliet album or the Juliet, Naked demos; imagine that High Fidelity‘s soundtrack was 99% comprised of Marie deSalle’s own compositions, and you’ll understand why when the film ended, I was not filled with a sudden urge to track down a copy of the soundtrack. Needless to say, were it real, I would not have been a regular visitor to Duncan’s website.
And what’s the film like? Well, it’s okay. It’s not earth-shatteringly brilliant; there are no real surprises. It’s like many rom-coms: a tad on the predictable side, a couple of good jokes, but it feels like it has to have a component – in this case, as with most other Hornby adaptations, a nerdy obsession with music – that the male half of a relationship can identify with/put up with for an hour and forty minutes to get two bums enticed onto cinema seats. 6.5 out of 10.
That said, it (almost concludes) with a moving musical moment (again, in the same way as so many Hornby adaptations do) when Crowe, who hasn’t performed live in twenty years, is cajoled into doing so, and performs a song which is a call-back to an earlier scene in the film where two of the cast are walking through the location named in the song, and reference to the song in question is made (at which point, you just now it’s going to feature later on in the film. I wrote about this phenomenon back here if you’re interested).
I like to think I’ve been fairly upbeat through all the tedium and horror that 2020 has thrown at us, but after hearing the song, I felt a real melancholy as I realised that right at that moment there wasn’t millions of people swarming like flies around the underground; that the modern equivalent of Terry and Julie weren’t meeting there every Friday night, and that they probably won’t be for a good while yet.
And so I reached for not the original version of the song – that would have just been rubbing salt into the wounds of Crowe’s interpretation – but instead to this version, performed by Ray Davies, with the help of The Crouch End Festival Chorus:
I mean, it’s not a patch on the original, but it made me feel a bit better.
Sunday 25th October was, of course, the anniversary of the death of John Peel, back in 2004.
He spoke once about his own mortality: “I definitely want to be buried, although not yet…I should have a mile or two left in me, but I do want the children to be able to stand solemnly at my graveside and think lovely thoughts along the lines of ‘Get out of that one, you swine’, which they won’t be able to do if I’ve been cremated”
I would think there are few people who don’t know that his favourite records was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, perhaps fewer that know the opening lines from it – “Teenage dreams, so hard to beat” – are etched onto his gravestone.
Sadly, since it clocks in a smidgeon over the two minute mark, Teenage Kicks is just too long to feature here. So instead, as promised when I last featured a track from the album where Teenage Kicks first appeared, here are all the ones from their debut which are sub-two minutes, with the exception of Here Comes The Summer which doesn’t seem all that appropriate at the moment:
Making mixtapes as I grew up, I cannot even begin to contemplate the amount of times one of those was squeezed in at the very end of a C90, even the sounds-like-a-demo-and-clocks-in-at-less-than-a-minute Casbah Rock which, despite those apparent shortcomings, and being the worst of the five songs featured here, is still the best song ever written with the word ‘Casbah’ in the title. And yes, I am including that one.
So, with the clocks having gone back one hour here in the UK, giving an extra hour of light at the end of the day, and therefore an hour more of darkness in the morning, I figured today more than any other day, an upbeat sunny record was required.
I reckon I’ve found it, The Pogues’ eulogy to reasonably-priced motor cars and top-shelf smut [has this been checked? – Ed]:
I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)
Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.
(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.
Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.
OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:
As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).
Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:
“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:“
Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:
But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.
Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:
“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”
Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:
I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.
Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”
…which is bound to lighten the mood.
Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:
“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”
I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:
..and this (just Rigid Digit now):
and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):
Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:
Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:
See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:
Mostly because Joey did it too:
But I digress, again.
Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):
…and here’s the song they are referencing:
To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:
So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.
Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:
“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”
“…which is great and you know it is really.”
Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.
“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).“
I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:
Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):
Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”
And Pat isn’t finished there:
“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):
Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.
In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?
Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?
Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:
“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”
And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”
Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:
What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.
No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:
Genius pop music. And I mean that.
Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:
Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.
The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”
It sure is:
Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:
I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.
Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”
Too late, you’ve said it now.
Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:
Peelie would be proud.
How do you follow that? With this:
Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”
Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:
“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)
He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.
I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:
And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:
…to an often overlooked gem:
…and the never to be forgotten:
A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:
And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:
…which almost inevitably leads us here:…
…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:
And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:
I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.
But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:
And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.
Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich. Everybody talk about…:“
“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”
Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:
Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:
“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:
I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:
Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.
“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)
For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.
Yeh, I know. Dry subject.
What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.
Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:
This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:
In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.
“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:
But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:
“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”
What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.
Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:
Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:
“David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise. So the link is obviously:”
…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:
Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:
Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:
It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:
Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:
“…a small city, dark in the day time…”
…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:
And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:
“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:
Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!
One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):
Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:
“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:
That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.
You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:
New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:
When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:
Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:
Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.
Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:
Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:
“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”
Leading him here:
And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:
Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:
And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:
But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:
And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:
“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”
Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:
And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.
Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…“
Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Blimey. It’s been a while since I wrote one of these too.
This was the second single by a band I love, and who, in the mid-to-late 90s released a whole load of really great, catchy, hell I’m going to say it Britpoppy singles.
Are You Blue or Are You Blind? came out in 1995 and was their first Top 40 hit, peaking at #35. Incredibly, it doesn’t feature at all on their debut album, Expecting to Fly, although the follow-up single, Bluetonic, and the re-released breakthrough smash Slight Return both do. As such, it’s an often forgotten early single, which is a shame, because this is a barn-storming way to start your weekend, and no mistake:
Writing yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that I used to write a counter-weight series, where I featured bloody awful versions of great records. Checking back, it transpires that I haven’t posted one since December 2017, which at least shows that I’ve been faithful to my mother’s advice that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
Time to rectify that.
In 1972, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood released their Did You Ever? album, and this was the title track:
A bona fide classic, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Which leads me here, and may the Good Lord have mercy on my soul for what I am about to post.
Linda Martin, says Wiki, is “…a singer and television presenter from Northern Ireland…best known in Europe as the winner of the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Why Me?”, and in Ireland as a member of the 1970s/1980s band Chips.”
Mick McCarthy, on the other hand, is an ex-footballer who played for Barnsley, Manchester City, Celtic, Lyon and finally Millwall between the late 70s and the early 90s. He went on to manage Millwall and then, as is the natural progression for men born in Yorkshire, the Republic of Ireland.
He’s probably best known for having a spat with RoI captain Roy Keane on the eve of the 2002 World Cup finals which ended up with Keane and McCarthy squaring up to each other, Keane allegedly shouting (apologies in advance for the effing and jeffing): “You’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. I’ve got no respect for you. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.” before either walking out of, or being expelled from, the squad, depending on whose account of events you wish to believe. Classic Keano.
That, and for being startled by, as Young Disciples sang (though I expect it wasn’t about Big Mick), apparently nothin’:
Anyway, in 1991, the stars aligned and Mick & Linda joined forces to cover Did You Ever? and, just like Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, when they met, it was murder: