Late Night Stargazing

I’ve been meaning to post this cover of The Foundations classic for ages.

Because it’s properly gorgeous:

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Alison Krauss & Union Station – Baby Now That I’ve Found You

Perhaps best known here in the UK for a couple of songs which cropped up on the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Krauss has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been listening to her 2017 Windy City album a lot recently. Doubtless something from it will pop up here sooner or later.

More soon.

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Bad News Comes in Threes

When, at the end of January, I first posted about my best friend Llyr’s passing, it attracted many lovely comments.

Something happened last week which reminded me of one them, which JTFL (that’s Johnny the Friendly Lawyer to you and me) had posted: “Oh, man. It really pours.”

For just as I thought my year couldn’t get any shittier, a letter from the letting agency I rent my flat through landed on my doormat.

This is what it said:

Please find enclosed an official notice confirming that possession will be required at the end of the notice period.”

The notice informed me I had two months in which to find somewhere else to live and, somehow magically, conjure up a deposit/bond for the new place.

I believe the phrase is: Oh. Fuck.

Some background info: last year, after six years of me not exactly complaining about cracks in the walls and ceiling, but certainly mentioning it to the letting agency I rent through, suddenly something happened. The matter was referred to the landlord’s buildings insurers, who did some testing, identified the issue and rectified it.

They now wished to come into my flat, do whatever repairs were required, and then redecorate.

This is quite an unusual situation for a tenant; usually any redecoration happens between tenancies, but here was an insurance company offering to redecorate whilst a tenant was in situ.

Obviously, I wanted to assist, and it was agreed that I would vacate the flat for a short period, roughly two weeks, whilst the works were done. All of my worldly belongings would be placed into storage, and I would be placed in a Travelodge or similar for the duration.

Inconvenient though it was, I was on board with this. To be honest, I was looking forward to an Alan Partridge “Big Plate” kind of scenario.

So I started packing all of my stuff away.

And then I was admitted to hospital, and everything ground to a halt.

As regular readers will know, since my discharge from hospital, I’ve been experiencing pain and loss of strength in my arms, and pain and loss of grip/function in my hands. Investigations into this are ongoing (I had a PET scan this week), but this prevented me from continuing to pack my stuff away.

Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve noticed a real improvement. I can open some bottles and jars which I couldn’t before. I have to take fewer painkillers. I’m gradually increasing my hours at work. There’s an upwards trajectory.

What I should have done was notify the letting agents/the landlord of my current condition, but I didn’t.

Hence the repossession notice.

I understand why it happened: they thought I wasn’t playing ball anymore, so decided the only way to progress matters (and get the insurers to pay for the repairs and redecoration) was to get me out.

A flurry of emails ensued, including one where I explained all that most of you have read on these pages recently about my ill-health, apologising profusely for failing to keep them in the loop.

And then, thankfully, the much-welcomed news came through: the landlord would revoke the repossession notice (not said, but implicit: as long as I played ball with the redecoration stuff).

So, I’m going nowhere (except to the delights of a Travel Tavern, somewhere in my locality, taking my big plate with me).

Phew. Bullet dodged.

This song springs to mind:

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Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Which, of course, I only know of because of this cover version:

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The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

Although this one springs to mind too:

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Therapy? – Nowhere

I am, of course, mindful, that had my email appeal not been succesful, then this, absolutely wonderful, long-forgotten song would have been a far more appropriate tune:

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Lodger – I’m Leaving

I’ve been trying to find a reason to post that for ages, without tarring it with the Brexit brush. Result!

When I found out that my persuasive skills had prevailed, I called my parents, who were obviously on notice of the situation. My mother seemed unsurprised; when I was growing up she had to deal with many pointless arguments with me, insufferable teenager that I was. Not just a bit like, but a lot like this:

I emailed the insurers on Wednesday, inviting them to call or email me so matters could progress. No reply as of yet.

More soon.

Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba

This song very nearly made an appearance last week in the brief Back to School series I did, but I couldn’t decide which version to post, so I figured I’d leave it til another day.

Today’s the day.

But which version to post?

Don’t make me choose which version I like more. Let’s have both.

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The Kinks – David Watts

And okay, apparently it’s Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa rather than Ba Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba Ba Ba, but it’s close enough and I’m pretty sure that both Davies and Weller slip a couple of Ba Ba Ba’s in.

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The Jam – David Watts

I think every school year has a David Watts. The one in my year was called Robbie. He was the captain of the team, and I was lucky if I made the becnh. All of the girls in the neighbourhood did indeed want to go out with him, whilst refusing to touch me with a barge-pole, no matter how much money I offered them.

I definitely wanted to be him.

And then he joined the army, and suddenly I didn’t want to be him so much anymore.

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #19

Toronto: not just in Canada, but from Canada.

I refer, of course, to the band Toronto, who, having formed in Toronto, must have spent a really long time at the whiteboard, blue-sky thinking, before they came up with the moniker they chose for their band.

This is by them, a prime slice of early 80s US MOR rock, which reached the giddy heights of #5 in the Canadian charts, #77 in the US charts, and absolutely nowhere in any other chart in the world ever. Don’t let that put you off though:

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Toronto – Your Daddy Don’t Know

There’s a better version of that though, from a film I’ve never seen. I suspect from what I have seen and heard about it, Fubar: The Movie is a sort of Canadian slacker Spinal Tap meets Bill & Ted type affair. And why would I want to watch that when I can watch This is Spinal Tap itself, or the actual Bill & Ted films?

But this version is faster, punchier and meatier than the original:

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The New Pornographers – Your Daddy Don’t Know

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version

Today’s lesson: be Beck, and rope a load of your mates in to record tributes of certain albums you love. Record the whole thing in one day. Job’s a good ‘un.

Let me explain. Back in 2009, Beck set about his new project, Beck’s Record Club, the idea being that he would gather together an ever-changing group of musicians, charged with recording a new version of an entire classic album within 24 hours. Yes, it does sound like it has Nick Knowles written all over it, doesn’t it?

As far as I can establish, they got through five albums, all of which were download only for a short period of time (i.e. I can’t find them to download or purchase anywhere now – I’m happy to be corrected on this, of course!). Those five albums were: The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence’s Oar (nope, me neither), Yanni’s Yanni Live at the Acropolis (ditto), and INXS’s Kick.

The musician’s for the first four of those included Nigel Godrich (who is perhaps better known as a producer, particularly associated with Radiohead), Binki Shapiro (from Brazilian/American rock supergroup (it says here) Little Joy), Will Berman, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, Leslie Feist, all of Wilco, actor Giovanni Ribisi (Phoebe’s brother in Friends, Scarlett Johannsen’s mostly absent husband in Lost in Translation, to name just two places you’ll probably know him from), and Devendra Banhart and Thurston Moore, who I will assume need no further introduction.

As you can imagine, with the time constraints imposed, coupled with an ever-revolving line-up that would have made Mark E Smith jealous, the songs are often a tad on the ramshackle side, including much of the album today’s choice is taken from.

But not this track. Featuring Anne Clark on vocals, who is now much better know these days as St Vincent, this is their take on Never Tear Us Apart:

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Beck’s Record Club – Never Tear Us Apart

And this, for compare and contrast purposes, is the original:

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INXS – Never Tear Us Apart

Doubtless, we’ll be returning to this project some time again in the future.

In other words: more soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

Nope, I’m not done grieving yet.

I’ve often said that the version of a song that you hear first is the version that you prefer, even if it transpires that the consensus of agreement is that the original is far better.

But here’s another way that you can tell that a cover version is better then the original: when the cover is so befitting a certain band’s style, that you don’t realise it’s a cover version until twenty odd years later.

Such was my experience with today’s tune.

There’s nothing wrong with the original. It’s just not by The Fall.

By way of evidence, here’s the original:

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The Other Half – Mr. Pharmacist

And here’s the cover version:

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The Fall – Mr Pharmacist

Told you so.

More soon-ah.

How To Do a Cover Version

Three versions of the same song this morning.

Firstly, as mentioned in “God Gave Us Life”, the opening track from the original vinyl release of a Half Man Half Biscuit album I featured on these pages recently (admittedly, I didn’t post the song in question), there she is, in a litany that also includes Una Stubbs, Little and Large, Keith Harris, Wendy Craig, Thora Hird and Lionel Blair: “He also gave us Eartha Kitt.”

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Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby

And here’s a cover version from a few years ago, by everyone favourite twinkly absinthe-representing Australian popstress:

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Kylie Minogue – Santa Baby

But Queen of Cover versions for today is provided by none other than…well, let me just say that a few months ago, in a post I wrote which mentioned them, long-time friend of the blog, The Robster (of Is This The Life? fame) wrote: “Nothing beats The Muppets. Nothing.” And this proves that:

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Miss Piggy – Santa Baby

And since I mentioned them earlier, now is perhaps an appropriate time to launch my Christmas Appeal for 2017.

Yes, a donation of just £1.00 can buy Sid and Eddie their own Christmas jumpers:

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No, you’re right, once you’ve seen that, you can’t unsee it, can you?

You’re welcome.

More soon.