Shortly after Llŷr passed away in 2019, I wrote what I guess you could call my eulogy to him (although I’m sure he would have loved to have read it for himself, I’m equally sure he would have thought it a tad premature had I written it any sooner). I wrote these words:
“See that “There’s No Such Thing As A Guilty Pleasure” tagline? It simply wouldn’t be there were it not for Llŷr.
I’ll go further. Without that little seed sown, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.”
And now I’ll go further still, for it was Llŷr who first introduced me to the wonderful world of music blogs. He knew how much I loved a good cover version (the ratio of How To Do A Cover Version posts here against the number of How Not To Do A Cover Version is testament to this) so he sent me a link to a blog, now also sadly deceased, which featured nothing but cover versions. And then he directed me to the sidebar, to the list of other music blogs, and that was me off, following numerous other blogs. Friends: always check the sidebar, for although mine is woefully in need of an update, you’ll find some lovely surprises there.
Anyway, when I was younger, as soon as I got home from school, the first thing I would do would be to run upstairs, plug my guitar in and play VERY LOUDLY for half an hour or so. My mum used to describe it as me “getting my fix”, and for a time that’s how blogs grabbed me too. The moment I got home from work, I disappeared into my room, fired up my PC and spent a good couple of hours roaming around various blogs, seeking out tracks I’d loved and lost over the years, before finally emerging, gushing to Llŷr about what my haul for the day included. He would nod, offer the occasional “that’s cool”, the even more occasional “I don’t think I know that…”, which was usually reserved for some late 80s jingly-jangly twee-pop record.
Although I would undoubtedly have loved them anyway, my love for cover versions manifested itself in a love of what I guess many would consider to be a joke band: Goldie Lookin Chain.
You won’t be surprised to hear that, after Super Furry Animals, they are probably the band that Llŷr and I saw the most together.
I will always remember that on my birthday one year, we found that Super Furries were playing in Port Talbot, with GLC supporting them. Llŷr got a group of us together, hired a minibus and driver, and we set off to the gig. At the venue, a sports centre, if I recall correctly, and a few beers down, I popped to the gents, only to find it absolutely rammed, queue out the door. As I returned, Llŷr spotted my face, white in shock.
“You alright, Jez?”
“Just been to the bogs. It was rammo. I never thought I’d see three men sharing…”
“A cubicle? Probably not pissing, Jez”
“No, not a cubicle…”
“No….three men pissing into the same sink.”
“Welcome to Port Talbot!” Llŷr said raising a bottle (of beer) in my direction.
I can see why many people consider GLC to be a joke band – they’ve never released a serious record in their lives, and pretty much all of their songs are about being chavs from Newport, and/or (usually and) about smoking draw – but to dismiss them as “just” a joke band is a mistake, for in my book they are so much more than that. For a start, they clearly know their stuff – their musical references and samples are always spot-on – and are proficient hip-hop musicians and rappers in their own right. Yes, the individual members may have comedy names (Two Hats remains my favourite – say it quickly and you’ll see why) but that shouldn’t denigrate from how good they are.
For me, their songs fall into three categories:
1 – funny song which features a sample or samples I don’t recognise
2 – a funny song which features a sample or samples I do recognise – see Your Missus Is A Nutter (which samples – appropriately – Serge Gainsbourg’s Cannabis – and which they controversially performed before a Wales v England football match in 2005, dedicating it to “our old friend Victoria Beckham”, who seemed to see the funny side, to be fair); Your Mother’s Got a Penis (which samples Eric Clapton’s Behind The Mask); Charm School which features the Grange Hill Theme Tune
3 – a funny song which is a straight-up parody of another song, and includes a play-on-words on the original song title. I call these, with affection, their Barron Knights tracks.
One day, as they often did, a Llŷr-curated mix-CD was thrust into my hands. It contained two of the latter type of GLC tracks, neither of which, as far as I can make out, have ever had official releases. (The second has featured on these pages before, though.)
They still make me laugh whenever I hear them; more importantly, they remind me of Llŷr.
Oh, and of course, there’s a fair amount of effing and jeffing, so please don’t listen to these if you get offended by rude words.
So, here’s the original:
Gruff Rhys – Candylion
And the GLC spoof:
Goldie Lookin Chain – I’m Not Lying
And, at the risk of repeating myself, here’s the original:
Nelly Furtado – Maneater
And the GLC spoof:
Goldie Lookin Chain – Nan Rita
And that would be the end of that, were it not for the fact that when I was trying to find out whether or not the two tracks featured had received an official release or not, I stumbled across another GLC track which samples one of Llŷr’s favourite records.
Since I’ve never heard it before, I can only assume he hadn’t either, because no two ways about it, he would have told me about this:
Cliff Richard – Devil Woman
And the GLC version:
Goldie Lookin Chain – Devil Woman
He’d have bloody loved that.
Happy Birthday dude. Love ya, miss ya, always.