Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba*

*Now expanded to include La La La’s, Do-be-do-be-do’s, Na Na Na Na Na’s and all points in between.

Ask most people to name their favourite T. Rex tune, and they will usually plump for any one of the following: Telegram Sam, Get It On, Debora, Ride a White Swan, 20th Century Boy, Jeepster or Children of the Revolution.

But not this star cat, oh no.

My favourite T. Rex tune was their first ever UK #1 single, but, for some reason it always seems to get overlooked when people posit on the band’s success. It was the first ever record I heard by them, and the person responsible for playing it to me was (at the time) Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn.

He didn’t play it just to me, of course. It was on his radio show, and this would have been in the late 1970s, so as I was approaching my tenth birthday. I was in my bedroom, listening to the radio, when Tony introduced a record with the following words (not verbatim):

“I remember when this first came out in 1971, I played it on the Breakfast Show and when it had finished, I realised that I liked it so much I just had to hear it again. And I thought the listeners must have thought the same thing, so I played it to them again.”

This caught my attention. I may even have put down whichever Dr Who book I was reading at the time (probably Dr Who and The Loch Ness Monster, I read that one a lot. It’s the best one: it has Zygons in it) and listened.

And now whenever I hear the song in question, I am back in my room, listening to it for the first time, and thinking that, even though it had come out seven or eight years earlier, it was quite unlike anything my eight or nine year old ears had heard before.

See, you’re never too old to learn.

Anyway, this is the song, just shy of five minutes of what we would come to know as Marc Bolan’s lyrical style (rhyming couplets which don’t generally don’t really seem to mean anything), and which then pulls the same stunt as The Beatles did on the coda of Hey Jude, only swapping the Na Na Na‘s for some La La La‘s until the fade:

T. Rex – Hot Love

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

More inspiration from Twitter this morning, as last week somebody posted a bloopers clip from a TV show, which featured this morning’s upbeat beauty.

It’s a song and a clip I shared on here many moons ago, but I figured that my posts have become so infrequent most people have lost interest by now and wandered off elsewhere, so a little recycling won’t hurt anyone.

The TV show in question is Peter Kay’s Car Share and the clip features Peter Kay as John Redmond, Sian Gibson as Kayleigh Kitson, and Reece Shearsmith as “Stinky” Ray. John and Kayleigh’s usual car-share drive to the supermarket where they work has been disrupted on this occasion, firstly by Kayleigh’s honking hangover, and then by “Stinky” Ray – so-called because he works on the fish counter at the supermarket – who blags a lift from them when his bus is late.

A song comes on the radio which Ray insists is turned up so he can sing-a-long, the joke being that he doesn’t actually know the words and makes them up.

Given the show’s loose, improvisational format, Kay and Gibson have no idea what Shearsmith is going to come out with, and you can see the moment when Shearsmith realises that Kay and Gibson are both cracking up at him and he starts to deliberately mess about and try to make them laugh, like a Sunny-D’d up kid trying to impress his parents on a long boring drive:

And here’s the song in question, and if you watch the clip first, I defy you not to sing “lyrical dance-flap” at the appropriate moments:

Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

And so, emboldened by one of the acts who featured on BBC4’s One Hit Wonders show which aired (again) on Friday night, I wonder how I’ve managed to miss this in my series of songs where banal lyrics appear.

I always found this a somewhat menacing act, a German skinhead monotones the lyrics, seemingly disassociated from it and society. He looked the kind of bored psychopath you would not wish to meet in a dark alleyway, and frankly the TOTP audience’s unfettered acceptance of them did not fill me with confidence:

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

Back to my occasional series where I feature a song which have some non-sensical half-lyrics somewhere in them this morning, be they the eponymous Ba Ba Ba’s, or maybe some La La La La’s, perhaps a sprinkling of Do-De-Do-Do’s, or if you’re really lucky some lesser spotted Bum-Titty-Bums,

Until yesterday, I’d never really noticed the use of such vernacular on this song, but, fully masked and latex-gloved up, waiting for the bus back from doing the weekly shop, it came on my iPod, and it caught my ear this time.

But it does beg the question: hands up who wants to hear some Jools Holland this morning? And I totally appreciate that for most of you, that’s going to invoke the same reaction as Rik asking:

But what if I were to tell you that Jools isn’t in Hootenanny mode….?

…and he’s not in Boogie-Woogie mode either..?

That’s better.

Here you go then: the album version of a truly great song by a band that almost prevented The Smiths from forming:

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

With the news last week that students will be allowed out of their halls of residence at Christmas, this seemed an appropriate record to feature.

If there has been a better, funnier, wittier, more astute and well observed song about the joys of public transport in the UK than this, then I’m yet to hear it:

If the travel company in question hasn’t embraced that and used it in an advert (and I have a vague memory that they may have done), then they’ve definitely missed a trick. It may be taking the piss, but it’s done, I think, with warmth and affection.

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

As mentioned a couple of times recently when adding to this series, I’m expanding it to not only feature songs which – and bear with me, this gets quite complicated – include a vocal which goes Ba Ba Ba…, but also Do Do Do or La La La, and, frankly, any other nonsense sounds singers make when they can’t be bothered to write proper lyrics.

I’m being facetious here, of course, because I recognise that sometimes – no, often – it’s the inclusion of that bit of gibberish which pushes a record over the line between a ‘not bad pop record’- and they’re all pop records – into the ‘ruddy marvellous pop record’ territory.

Last Monday, Martin from New Amusements left me a very nice comment, that one of the songs I’d posted that day had given him “Quite the Proustian rush”, and it occurred to me that’s pretty much what I do here these days: think of reasons to post records I love which, with a bit of luck, will stir a memory in anyone reading it too.

Which leads me to today’s selection. A song which reminds of girls I was at school with.

You won’t be too surprised to learn, I think, that I was not a fan of Duran Duran when they were at the height of their powers back in the 1980s. They were, to these rock-infatuated ears, most definitely “a girls’ band”, by which I mean: liked by hysterical teenage girls. And generally, these were girls that I was too terrified to approach at the school disco.

It wasn’t until several years later that I realised that pop bands that girls like more often than not made ruddy marvellous pop songs.

Pop songs like this:

If you can get through that without singing along to the Do-Do-Do bits, I fear this place might not be the blog for you. You need to up your game a bit, mate.

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

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:

More soon.

PS – Happy Birthday, Hel xx

Sunday Morning Coming Down

There are plenty of novelty Country records and cover versions knocking around which I wouldn’t dream of wasting your time with.

But this one is rather fine, so I will.

Back in 1992, Heavenly Records released an EP, all proceeds from which went to the Terence Higgins Trust, and which featured three bands from the label’s roster performing a cover version each of three singles by British pop act Right Said Fred.

Ask people what Right Said Fred’s only #1 single in the UK was, and chances are they’ll say that it was I’m Too Sexy. It wasn’t, of course, for that single had the misfortune of being out at the same time as Bryan Adams’ power ballad bohemoth Everything I Do (I Do It For You), which spent sixteen consecutive weeks at #1, six of which were spent keeping I’m Too Sexy at #2 (which in itself is a record they jointly share with Father Abraham and the Smurfs’ The Smurf Song which was kept off the UK #1 spot – mercifully – by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John’s You’re The One That I Want in 1977).

As you would expect, I’m Too Sexy features on The Fred EP, performed by Saint Etienne, a band I adore, but whose cover versions I approach with an air of caution. Have you ever heard their version of Bowie’s Absolute Beginners? It’s probably my favourite Bowie song, and so when I saw the Etienne boys and girl had covered it I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to hear it in all it’s undoubtedly glorious kitschness, only to be massively disappointed when I finally tracked it down.

The same is true here; s’alright. Not great. Bit of a let down, if I’m honest.

The second track which features is not-very-fondly-remembered Fred hit Don’t Talk, Just Kiss performed by the rarely-remembered-at-all Flowered Up. When I say “not very fondly remembered”, everything’s relative. It’s not as cringeworthy as You’re My Mate, which is possibly one of the worst records ever released by the polished domes of RSF, but ever.

And when I describe Flowered Up as “rarely remembered” I say that with a huge amount of sadness, for I have an enormous amount of affection for them.

But if you happened to listen to Steve Lamacq’s show on 6Music on Thursday this week, when he dropped their ruddy fantastic It’s On, in all it’s pan pipe and what-it-would-sound-like-if-Shaun-Ryder-was-a-Cockney glory, and heard the largely dismissive response it got from his listeners, you may question my judgement.

Anyway, their cover here is absolutely stonkingly great, but it’s not Country so it’s not in.

Which leaves me with, you’ll be pleased to hear, today’s tune.

Give it a couple of goes, and you’ll realise that The Rockingbirds have really taken Right Said Fred’s only #1 single and made it their own:

The Rockingbirds – Deeply Dippy

See? Bloody magnificent.

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

Today, I’ll be straying into the land of La La La, rather than the usual Ba Ba Ba’s you find in this occasional series. And with good reason.

For yesterday, the terribly sad news came that Tim Brooke-Taylor had died due to Covid-19.

Growing up in the 1970s, Tim was, along with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, an absolute hero of mine, for he was one of The Goodies.

You will often hear people say that ground-breaking, anarchic, anti-establishment comedy started with the likes of Not The 9 O’Clock News, or Spitting Image, or The Young Ones. But they’d be wrong, for the irreverance and disregard for form came a few years earlier with the hirsute threesome.

And just like The Young Ones did a few years later, The Goodies exploited their popularity by releasing a few singles, one of which I had bought for me, and which got played a lot, probably long before I was aware of the original:

The Goodies – Wild Thing

Althugh this was probably their best known contribution to the charts, a send-up of dance crazes like The Funky Chicken:

The Goodies – The Funky Gibbon

And I haven’t even mentioned this:

I was switched on to The Goodies because I used to listen to repeats of I’m Sorry, I’ll Say That Again when I was a kid; a radio sketch show predominantly featuring Tim with John Cleese and fellow Goodie Grame Garden, amongst others.

More recently, I had reconnected with Tim via his regular appearances on I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, the anti-panel panel show, now hosted by Jack Dee and which I cannot recommend you listen to enough, next time it crops up on the BBC Sounds app (which, given yesterday’s sad news, cannot happen quickly enough).

One of the many absolute highlights of the show – apart from the deeply unfathomable (and deliberately so) Mornington Crescent round – is the round where contestants are asked to sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of a completely different one.

Here’s an example, Tim singing The Smiths’ Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiny Tim’s Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips:

He’ll be sadly missed round these parts: rest in peas, Tim.

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

Okay, so there’s been a couple of weeks of not very much happening round these parts, whilst I got all old and decrepit and…erm…oh yes! forgetful and stuff, time to get the show back on the road.

Did you ever instinctively do something, and then, when you’d had a moment to pause, reflect and analyse, realised it didn’t exactly show you in a good light?

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when me and my old mate Richie went to a gig at The 100 Club. (I will get round to writing something about the gig itself at some point, I promise. Like you care.)

Anyway, knowing there were four acts on that night, at least three of which we wanted to see, we arrived at the venue at 7pm, the advertised doors time, only to be met by a shaven headed doorman, fag in gob, who told us in no uncertain terms that the doors would not be opening until 7:30 and we should form an orderly queue on the pavement if we knew what was good for us.

There was one other bloke waiting, so we insisted he stood at the front of the line, Richie and I behind him. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another couple: he was clearly a bit of a muso and wanted everyone to know it. His wife (I assume) asked who it was they were going to see, and he replied “The Chesterfields. They released an album called Kettle in the 1980s which I have the original pressing of on vinyl”.

I leaned into Richie and whispered “Yeh, like it ever got a second pressing…” Richie giggled.

As we waited it became clear that she was much more interested in popping into the Boots store next door and reporting back on where they keep the tissues than in going to a gig.

7:30 came and went, and eventually we were allowed in. If you’ve never been to The 100 Club, it’s a wonderfully grubby venue, steeped in counter culture and musical history. There’s a reason why on I, Ludicrous‘ magnificent Preposterous Tales Ken refers to seeing the Sex Pistols play there. Put it this way: Richie slipped off to the Gents and came back, marvelling that they were “a work of art”. He even took a photo (thankfully nobody else was in there, or there may have been trouble):

There’s so many questions here: why does one toilet have a lid but the other doesn’t? Is it okay to leave the seat up in the Gents? And most importantly, does that partially obscured bit of graffiti at the top say Borrowed Time or Borrowed Tim? I really hope it’s the latter.

Inside the main venue, there is a bar at each end of the room, with the stage in between. It’s one of those glorious stages which are only about knee-high, so you can get really close to the act. On this occasion, to the right is a set of DJ decks, and then a few tables and chairs have been set out, either side of the stage.

Richie heads to the bar, I grab a table over to the left of the stage. Shortly after Richie arrives with the beers, the couple from the queue, predictably, come and sit on the table to our left, which is slightly in front of us.

Between acts, there is a DJ (hence the decks) who plays a dazzling array of much loved and much forgotten jangly indie classics from the era from whence the bands had come to see had founded there reputation. We get some Orange Juice, some early Wedding Present, and this:

The June Brides – Every Conversation

Ok, so technically it’s Na Na Na’s rather than Ba Ba Ba’s: I’m expanding the catchment area, that ok with you?

And then it happens.

A song comes on, and I see the bloke from the couple on the next table get his phone out and try to Shazam it.

For those unfamiliar with the app, imagine that you’re out and about, hear a tune you like but don’t know what it is and don’t want to betray your ignorance by asking somebody. Shazam is an app where you can play it a short snippet of a song and it will (usually) tell you who/what it is. Old school readers may remember, before smart phones and apps became a thing, you could type 2580 into your phone, hold it up, and get a text telling you what you were listening to.

But, as The 100 Club is subterranean, the guy’s phone couldn’t connect.

I know what this song is, I thought. I can help.

And so I leant – no, more accurately, lunged – across Richie, and tapped the bloke on his arm.

“Are you trying to work out what this is?” I asked, pointing upwards in what is the universally accepted hand signal for “this thing what we can hear”.

“Yes,” he replied, “but I can’t Shazam it.”

“Shazam won’t help you with this, my friend” I said, “but I can.” You know, like how people in adverts for stain removers talk.

For a moment, I imagined myself in a tight spandex suit and cape, swooping in to assist a befuddled musical inquisitor with their fruitless quest. “I am Obscure Tune Man and only I can assist you in your quest to identify jingly jangly guitar tunes from the late 1980s which nobody bought at the time!”

“It’s…”

The Brilliant Corners – Brian Rix

“Ah yes,” said the gent, “The Brilliant Corners! Of course! Thank you, I saw them back in 1988 or 89….”

Course you did mate. (That’s preposterous.)

And as I sat back in my chair, I realised just how needy I had just made myself look, so keen to show off, so desperate to bestow my knowledge on others.

How rather pathetic I looked.

Anyway, welcome to my blog.

More soon.