How To Do A Cover Version

And so the fug continues, lifting gradually.

I can’t be bothered with having a rant today, not even about the pitiful 1% pay rise given NHS workers in the budget this week, the same week as it was found that close to £37 billion has been wasted on the Track & Trace program, run by Tory peer Dido Harding (surely a coincidence, that) and it was also revealed that the Government had elected to settle the Priti Patel bullying case out of court, to the tune of £340,000.00 plus legal costs, all of which tells you everything you need to know about where governmental priorities lie.

Not that you’d know any of this from reading much of the press this week, who have been far more interested in trying to prove that Meghan Markle is a wrong ‘un. And it may well be the case that she is, in which case she married into the right family. I mean, it’s not like the Saxe-Coburg and Gothas Windsors are short of a few wrong ‘uns themselves, is it? Forgotten about Prince Andrew, have we?

But I’m not writing about any of that. For as the apathetic fug continues to refuse to completely leave me alone, I’ve had an appropriate song in my brain all week, a cover version, which I figured I’d post here this morning.

And then I realised I’d already written about it, albeit five years ago.

To simply repost what I wrote last time seems entirely in keeping with my lethargic state of mind, so, with absolutely no apologies whatsoever, here you go (and in case it’s clear from this, which it isn’t, this is a record I bought on 7″ single back in 1987):


Some would argue that if you’re going to do a cover version, you need to do radically rework it, so that to the untrained ear it sounds like something you wrote yourself.

Substitute the acoustic guitar on the original for an electric one on your track.

Upgrade the soft folky lilt of the original for a rip-roaring rollicking rock riff.

Maybe even shorten the title by, say, one vowel.

Trim out some of those rather unnecessary verses.

And then get Rick Rubin to produce it and pop it out on the uber-cool Def Jam label:

Now, here’s the original, performed by the evil ones from The Detectorists (Yes, I am going to keep making that reference until someone gets it).

I’ll leave you to decide which you prefer:

More soon. And maybe it’ll be something vaguely original.

This Is Pop! #14

I haven’t mentioned some of the TV shows and films I’ve watched recently for a while, so allow me to redress that.

Sex Education on Netflix is hilariously brilliant, if very rude (warning: the first few minutes of each episode features sex acts and noises which led me to turn the volume down each time, in case the neighbours thought I was watching actual porn); having recently got NOWTV, I’m almost at the end of the first season of True Detective, which is a real slow burner but suddenly combusts into life (I’m told the second and third series are nowhere near as good, so probably won’t bother); I’m persevering with Big Little Lies, which everyone tells me is amazing but just hasn’t ignited for me yet.

And then there’s king of the crop Succession, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Created by Jesse Armstrong, who was the co-creator of Peep Show (it’s not fair to compare the two, they’re such different beasts, both brilliant in their own way), the show tells the story of siblings jostling for position as heir to the throne of a mutli-million pound media company when the owner and creator almost has to retire due to ill-health.

Here’s the synopsis from Wiki: “Succession follows the Roy family, owners of media conglomerate Waystar Royco. The family patriarch, Logan Roy, has experienced a decline in health. His four children – removed oldest son Connor, power-hungry Kendall, irreverent Roman, and politically savvy Siobhan – all with varying degrees of connection to the company, begin to prepare for a future without their father, and each begins vying for prominence within the company.” Which is pretty much what I said.

If you happened to have also watched the recent documentary on BBC2 about the Murdoch family, you’ll have noted the similarities between the two, and it’s no big secret that Succession was loosely based on said family.

Why am I mentioning this in a post about pop music, I hear you ask. Well, because heavily involved in Succession is Lucy Prebble, who also wrote Diary of a Call Girl, which I can’t pretend I’ve watched, but who also wrote the wonderful I Hate Suzie, now streaming on NOWTV.

…Suzie sees Prebble reunited with actress Billie Piper, who starred in Diary… and also a Prebble-penned play The Effect, and tells the story of Suzie Pickles (Piper) as an actress whose life is thrown into turmoil when her phone is hacked and compromising photographs of her are leaked.

The writing is peerless, as are the performances, Piper putting in a real tour de force, which led me to reflect on her short-lived career as a popstar. (See? We got there in the end!)

She came to prominence as a fifteen year old in 1988, with her single Because We Want To which entered the charts at #1 making her the youngest artist to debut at number one, at age 15. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that The Sun did a countdown to her 16th birthday like they did with Charlotte Church and Emma Watson (bear with me on this clip, the relevant bit is brief and at around 4:10 if you want to skip through):

Anyway, I wasn’t all that fussed on much of Billie’s musical output, but I do love this:

Now, the reason I like that tune – and I really do – is not just because I think it’s a brilliant pop record – which I do – but because it reminds me of two other equally great pop records, one of which was released before, the other after, making Honey… a bridge between the two.

Here you go:

All Saints – Never Ever

and this:

Which of course gives me the opportunity to post the video and make the usual joke about how it looks like they’re lighting their farts in it:

Three for the price of one, all utter pop tunes that it’s fine to admit to liking. It’s been a while, but you’re welcome.

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1987

Ok, well, there’s no point in me pretending that I’m able to keep to my mission statement of posting all of the records I bought in the order I bought them.

I’ve realised I’ve missed loads out – often with good reason: I very much doubt (m)any of you would be the slightest bit interested in the glut of Status Quo records I bought as a teenager – so from hereon in, we’ll jump about a bit in this series.

Ok, that’s the admin done.

So. Regular readers will know how much I hate adverts, particularly ones which appropriate songs I love in an effort to try and draw those of us ‘of a certain age’ towards the product advertised. If you’re new here, go to the Categories drop down on the left and click S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) and you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, this means that I’m really happy that the weather has been so terrible here in the UK for the last week. Because I can laugh at the supermarkets trying to flog their wares by way of referencing barbeques we won’t be having, or the cosmetic companies banging on about whether we’re beach ready or not (I’m not, haven’t been for years and I suspect I never will be again).

And when I think this, I have to rein myself in, for I have a record lurking in my collection which shows that I too have fallen foul of the curse that is the British summer.

Now, I know that one of my tag-lines here is that “there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure”, and I firmly believe this. But I also believe that there’s also such a thing as a record which you own from which you derive no pleasure whatsoever.

And this is one of those.

Yes, I own it (I dare not check my box of 7″ singles, for I fear it might still be there).

I hate it.

Because it’s awful.

Bruce Willis – Under The Boardwalk

No, wait! Don’t you look at me like that! I can explain!!!

In 1987, every other night was spent fervently compiling mix-tapes to be played the following day in the sixth form common room. Homework? Schmomework!

Now, I knew that my own musical preference – jingly-jangly indie-schmindie – was not to everyone else’s taste and that my fellow students would indulge me, but only as long as they knew they would hear something they recognised every now and again. Something – I shudder as I write it – from “The Charts”.

And so to avoid the utter ignominy of having a mixtape ejected mid-flow, I bought some chart-bothering crowd pleasers.

Which is why I own(ed) this.

Please don’t judge me.

More (better, I promise) soon.

A History of Dubious Taste

Oh dear.

I seem to have been overtaken by BBC4’s reruns of Top of the Pops, which has managed to reach 1987 whilst I’ve been left floundering way back in 1986.

But then again, I don’t have Mike Smith (who refused permission for any shows he hosted to be re-aired, and then went and died before he could change his mind), or Dave Lee Travis or Jimmy Savile (whose episodes don’t get rerun for slightly more obvious reasons…) hosting this series, so…

Anway, to act as a balance to my other current series 50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish – where I feature songs that I didn’t buy when they came out, but now love – here’s one which I did buy, which I offer up as evidence that in my youth I didn’t just waste my pocket money on records by Shakin’ Stevens and Status Quo (although I did waste an awful lot of it on them).

I think I saw first this on The Chart Show when it was still on Channel 4 on a Friday evening, before it got shifted to ITV on a Saturday lunchtime.

I have a smattering of records by The Icicle Works, and I’ve always got the impression that they’re a band I should love a whole lot more than I do. Somehow, they never quite fully grabbed me, despite this absolute belter, with it’s crunching guitars and gloriously catchy chorus:


The Icicle Works – Understanding Jane

The 12″ contained two extra tracks, this one, also penned by Ian McNabb, with a dictinct Tom Waits-feel to the vocal delivery:

The Icicle Works – I Never Saw My Hometown ‘Til I Went Around The World

…and this really rather lovely Van Morrison cover:

The Icicle Works – Into The Mystic

More soon.

When The Scales Fell From My Eyes

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a clip of the opening moments of an interview which has been doing the rounds on social media this week, featuring The Cure’s Robert Smith, as the band were about to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

I was reminded of a conversation I had with my friends Gary and Meg when I stayed over at theirs the other weekend.

We were talking about encounters with famous people; I was saying that I generally wouldn’t approach them, as I figure they must get hassled by people enough without me adding to it. I prefer to catch their eye and give them an appreciative nod, maybe tweet them later so they understood I had been respecting their right to public privacy.

Gary’s view was that on such occasions it was perfectly okay to speak to them as you would probably never have the chance again – provided you were going to say something nice rather than confrontational.

Meg’s position was that in her line of work, she had encountered many celebrities and coming over all fangirl was definitely frowned upon.

We all had various examples of our actions to support our position; me: Al Murray (who clocked me as I waited for Gary and Meg outside a Teenage Fanclub gig, and who gave me a “Don’t you fucking dare” glare – not that I was going to – I tweeted him about it later and he was perfectly lovely), future Dr Whos Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi (independently of each other, and both just before they were announced as the next Dr Who, to the point where I wondered if any actor I encountered would be unveiled as the next TARDIS incumbant shortly afterwards): Smith caught my nod and gave me an appreciative smile in return, Capaldi sat opposite me on the tube, steadfastly refusing to make eye-contact with anyone, like most people do on public transport); Gary: George Martin, who he accosted in a theatre (at a Rolf Harris gig, of all places….this was some years ago, I should add) and got his autograph for his troubles; Meg: Jonathan Ross, Caitlin Moran, one of The Magic Numbers (I forget which one), and Robert Smith, amongst others.

And it was as she related her tale of not bothering Smith that she came out with a phrase which I thought was so brilliant, I asked her to repeat, and then clarify:

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith….

Me: Sorry, what?

Meg: I passed Robert Smith in a corridor at the BBC once, and he was dressed as Robert Smith…

Me: Sorry, what do you mean, ‘dressed as Robert Smith’?

Meg: You know, his hair was all over the place, loads of mascara, slightly wonky lipstick…

Me: But you’re describing Robert Smith to me. Are you saying he doesn’t always look like that?

Meg: Well, yes. He can’t look like that all the time, or he’d always be getting stopped. He must dress like Robert Smith out of The Cure only when he’s being Robert Smith out of The Cure, surely?

It was something which had never occured to me before, but the more I think about it, the more I think Meg’s probably right. Much as I’d like to imagine Robert Smith popping to the shops to buy some toilet roll dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, he probably doesn’t. He probably just wears the eyeliner and passes on the lipstick.

Me: That’s brilliant. You know I’m going to use that on my blog, right? Credit will be given, of course.

Meg: (utterly nonchalant about the epiphany I’d just had) Course you can.

I’m a man of my word.

Here’s a bloody great song by The Cure, featuring Robert Smith dressed as Robert Smith out of The Cure, one which I bought on 7″ back in 1987, and which still gets a spin every now and then:


The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?

More soon.

Friday Freedom Song

The repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC4 have reached October 1986, and as such are straying into the point when my record buying reached it’s absolute peak.

So, as many episodes are no longer able to be broadcast (as they were hosted by what we now know to be various unsavoury types, or by Mike Smith, who declined to approve any episodes he hosted be re-aired), I thought I’d better get in quick with this single, which dates back to February 1987.

This spent twelve weeks on the UK charts, but only managed to reach the giddy heights of #18 in all that time. The band were never heard from again.

Unless you’ve ever lived with me, in which case it will undoubtedly have found it’s way onto a playlist, mix-tape or CD somewhere along the line.

Because I still think this is an absolute belter, which should have been a much bigger hit than it was. Maybe it was the hat that did it for them:


The Rainmakers – Let My People Go-Go

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

I confess. I bought this, but with the benefit of hindsight I don’t think I bought it because i particularly liked the song.

No. For in 1986, I was a great big randy wannabe-Romeo, a smouldering volcano of hormones, likely to erupt at the merest female attention, who was utterly taken in by that video.

My logic was simple: buy a copy of the single, and I will have done my bit to ensure the video will be shown on Top of the Pops and/or The Chart Show that week.

Sad, really.


Robert Palmer – Addicted To Love

Just in case you have no idea which video I’m talking about (he says, by way of a rather pathetic justification for posting it), here it is:

Hard to believe that was practically the 80s equivalent of the Blurred Lines video, isn’t it?

Still, at least I can say that by the time Palmer tried exactly the same trick for his follow-up single I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On I wasn’t so easily taken in. I didn’t buy it. Mostly because, as I wrote here (links re-upped), I always felt it was a bit too sleazy old man in a nightclub for my liking.

That, and I’d had several cold showers by then.

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

When I first started writing this blog, the intention was to list every record I had ever bought in the order that I had bought them, to emulate this in some small way:

Nothing would be omitted, no matter how embarrassing the purchase may be (there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure!) – although this rule quickly fell by the wayside as it would have meant me talking about every Quo record I ever bought in my early to mid-teens – and trust me, I bought A LOT – which would have been tedious in the extreme for y’all.

But still, I figured, every song had a story, and whenever I hear them I’m transported back to a time in my life where there’d be something in the vicinity, some foolish venture or terribly amusing bon mot which might be worth imparting.

Turns out that’s not the case, which is why I haven’t written one of these since December last year.

In other words, there’s not much of a story to impart here either, to be honest.

Also, truth be told, I can’t remember what order I bought things in. Where I bought them, who I was with and what it reminds me of, yes – but when? Not a hope. Just because something came out in May 1986 – as today’s choice did – doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when I bought it.

In 1984, my older brother had bought today’s artist’s second album, The Drum is Everything, and I’d quite liked a couple of songs on it, enough to lead me to buy the first single from the follow-up album.

Neither album nor single were hits (the single peaked at #60 in the UK, the album The Falling got to #88) and it proved to be the last time that Carmel bothered the charts in the UK.

#60 is way to low for this to have got to, in my book.

See what you think:


Carmel – Sally

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

I honestly can’t recall what caused me to buy this album back in 1986.

It may have been that I heard something by this band on the John Peel show.

It may be that I’d heard the song of there’s which featured on the legendary C86 compilation album, which my brother owned.

Either way, it’s an album which I love to this day, by a band that I know invokes much love via the Comments section whenever I mention them.

Their sound may have become ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, more polished over the years, but they’ve remained instantly recognisable. You know when you’ve heard a song by Half Man Half Biscuit.

So here’s a selection of songs from the album in question, along with pictures to help younger readers get some idea of who the many celebrities name checked in them are.:


Half Man Half Biscuit – Fuckin’ ‘Ell It’s Fred Titmus




As featured:

Fred Titmus, England cricketer who lost four toes in a boating accident, and is still better than the absolute shower we’ve got playing in The Ashes at the moment.


Half Man Half Biscuit – 99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd



As featured:

Bob Todd, comedic actor, straight man to Spike Milligan and, more famously, Benny Hill.




Lesley Judd, co-presenter of BBC flagship childrens show Blue Peter, from the classic line-up of Judd, Singleton, Noakes & Purves





Half Man Half Biscuit – Time Flies By (When You’re The Driver Of A Train)


As featured: Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub, stars of animated TV show Trumpton. After the series ended, McGrew, Dibble and one of the Pugh boys made ends meet by stripping. (Are you sure about this? – Ed)


Half Man Half Biscuit – The Len Ganley Stance


As featured: Len Ganley, bequiffed snooker referee and style icon.





Half Man Half Biscuit – I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)


As featured: Jim Reeves, American country singer known as Gentleman Jim






Peggy Mount: English actor, probably best known for starring in sit-com “George & the Dragon” with Sid James. You can probably work out a) the basic plotline of every show, and b) which part she played.




Arctic Roll, popular pudding in the 1970s. This post would have appeared a lot sooner had I not decided to go and buy one the moment I saw this picture.



Shake n’ Vac, popular carpet freshener from the 1970s, when this advert set hearts a-racing:



and as covered by Snuff, here:


Snuff – Shake n’ Vac

And finally:

Half Man Half Biscuit – Reflections In A Flat


As featured:

Echo & the Bunnymen: Liverpudlian trench coat salesmen





Ali Bongo: children’s entertainer, good at contortionism






David Nixon: not as good as Ali Bongo



And I’m mightily relieved to have got through all of those, and realised I don’t appear to have pinched a single description from those presented on the back cover of the album, just about legible here:

il_570xN_1110292233_1b16 (2)

More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

Time for some more gut reactions, songs which spring to mind whenever I hear a word, phrase or a person’s name.

As discussed at way too much length last time out, many of these seem to stem from footballer’s names, and the first one this week is no exception.

Although I can’t really take credit (if that’s the right phrase…) for this one. I believe I heard it mentioned on an old TV show hosted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel called “Fantasy Football League”.

One of them (Frank, I think) announved that whenever he heard the surname of German midfielder Torsten Frings, he always thought of this song. And since then, I have too:


Nancy Sinatra & Dean Martin – Things…

They spent a lot of time, money and effort on that sleeve, didn’t they? I mean, they haven’t even bothered to fully crop Lee Hazlewood out of the photo of Nancy. Look:


Anyway, next up, a record that I actually bought on 7″ single back in 1986, for the sole purpose of putting it on a mix-tape to play in the sixth form common room (chucking a chart record on every now and then was my way of making sure any of the kids less cool than me (sense the ironic tone, by the way) wouldn’t complain that they didn’t know any of the songs being played. See how I suffered for my art?).

As with “Things…”, I may be misappropriating the source, but I have not actually heard the title of this next song since the day that Radio 1 (at the time) DJ Simon Mayo (I think) substituted it for the words “Womens’ Underwear”. I


Bon Jovi – Womens’ Underwear Livin’ On a Prayer

Which leads us nicely into, if not identical, then very similar territory. Last time out, I opened up the floor to any suggestions which you might have, and Charity Chic (of Charity Chic Music fame) proffered this:

“My surname is Boyd and my brother and I have been known to sing “The Boyds are Back in Town” on occasions (usually when alcohol has been consumed).”

boysrback_400x400 (2)

Thin Lizzy – The Boyds Boys Are Back In Town

I’ve got one of those too. In fact, I have two of them. These aren’t sung by my family and I, but at least once a year (on my birthday) this will spring to mind for one particular line contains a word which bears more than a passing resemblance to my surname (in fact, I’ve lost count of how many times people have thought it is my actual surname):


The Beautiful South – Let Love Speak Up Itself

Now, I’m not about to reveal my surname here, I’d like to retain some degree of anonymity (although any of you that don’t know me personally but do follow me on Twitter will already know it), but this should give you a bit more of a clue:


Fred Wedlock – Oldest Swinger in Town

Feel free to send any suggestions you might have (for songs to feature in this series, not for what my surname is) via the Comments section below.

More soon.