Tuesday Short Song

It is not Christmas week, regardless of whatever your calendar might tell you.

We’re carrying on regardless here at Dubious Towers.

And here’s a sub-two minutes song by a band unlikely to ever release a Christmas record, so we’re on fairly safe ground. Radiohead are no Cliff Richard, they’re not even Shakin’ Stevens. But then who is?

This is from their 2003 Hail to the Thief album:

I’ll await someone sending me a message telling me that Thom Yorke duetted with Perry Como on a version of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday with interest.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

My friend Mark is a massive fan of Guided by Voices, a band I’ve never really got to grips with.

I think perhaps it’s the daunting amount of material there is to get acquainted with, for GBV are prolific if nothing else, having released 30 studio albums, 2 live albums, 12 compilation albums, 7 video albums, and 6 box sets since their debut back in 1987, and that’s before we’ve even got on to how many singles and EPs they’ve released in that time. They make The Fall seem like The Stone Roses.

Whenever the time to write this series rolls around, I always imagine Mark shouting at me into the void because once again, I’ve overlooked GBV, who do have a habit for knocking out some super short songs.

Well, howl no longer Mark, here you go. This is lifted from their 1995 album Alien Lanes:

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

She’s gone on to bigger and better things since today’s track appeared on her 2009 Actor album – her last two albums, St Vincent and Masseducation are worth forty minutes or so of anyone’s time – but this little nugget from the aforementioned album certainly shows you the potential and where she was heading, if not visually, then perhaps sonically:

And if you’re not convinced, she shares a name with a pretty good Bill Murray film. That should sway you.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

On Friday night, I received a Whatsapp message from my brother which read: “FYI this just came up in conversation, and I thought you might be interested in how long it is?”

Wash your minds out: we may be competitive, but not in that way, thank you very much.

Within the message was a link to this record:

If you ever find yourself in a conversation about who the most influential artists have been in the world of popular music, and the person you’re talking to offers the names The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, walk away, or enjoy belittling them, for they know nothing.

The Stones regularly cite old blues artists as influential, whilst The Beatles – and countless others around the same time – would name skiffle bands and artists, such as Lonnie Donegan.

Lonnie’s influence simply cannot be underestimated, if not in the musical style of those who adored him, but in the simple fact that he inspired so many to learn to play instruments. Skiffle in the 1950s was the same as Punk in the 1970s, it had its own DIY ethic, impacting on so many, guiding them to pick up, or even construct, their own rudimentary instruments. The (double) bass was a wooden box with a mop handle and a string attached, for Gawd’s sake. And Lonnie was at the forefront of this revolution.

In 1992, to mark 40 years of their publication, the NME released a triple CD where current (at the time) indie acts were asked to record a cover version of a #1 that meant something to them. It’s a bit of disappointment overall, to be honest, but one band stepped up to the plate to pay homage to Lonnie, and thankfully that band was The Wedding Present and when you hear this, everything I’ve just said will make sense. And in true Weddoes style, they rattle through it even faster than Lonnie did:

If that doesn’t persuade my Dad to listen to The Wedding Present, then nothing will.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

When I’d finished compiling the Friday Night Music Club mix you haven’t bothered listening to, I was a bit annoyed to see I’d included a Pixies record which was less than 2 minutes long, and which I therefore should probably have featured here instead.

Fortuitously, I have a back up:

Phew!

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

Dipping into the pile of records marked “How on Earth Have This Lot Not Featured in This Series Before?”, a band who have a frustrating amount of records that clock in at just over the two-minute mark, but, thankfully, have a whole load more whose chests hit the tape with time to spare.

They don’t need any introduction, for they are the Ramones:

If you can get through that without at the very least considering pogo-ing around the room, I fear this place might not be the blog for you. You need to up your game a bit, mate.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

Frankly, I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid posting this song here already.

Originally tucked away on the B-Side of their William, It Was Really Nothing (2:11 and thus just too long to feature here) single, I remember Bobby Bluebell mentioning it in Smash Hits when he made it single of the week.

I’m paraphrasing Bobby’s review now, but this does what it has to do, says what it has to say, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, and then leaves, beautifully.

For sure, it’s one of many jewels in their crown:

Just magnificent.

And this can be construed as a message to our voting friends over in the USA today, too.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

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:

The Undertones – I Gotta Getta

The Undertones – Wrong Way

The Undertones – Billy’s Third

The Undertones – She’s A Run Around

The Undertones – Casbah Rock

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.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

More ‘importing stuff to my iTunes’ discoveries for you this morning.

2019 – remember then? When all we had to worry about was Brexit and Trump? – saw the release of Best of Billy Bragg at the BBC – 38 tracks by the man himself lifted from various sessions between 1983 and 2019.

I imagine there’s a lot more than 38 tracks nestling in the archive, but this will do us for now. Each song is significantly different to the version we’re familiar with – the addition (or removal) of Dave “Woody” Woodhead on trumpet here, a topically mangled lyric there – so as to make it compulsory listening for any life-long fan such as I.

And of course, amongst those 38 tracks, there’s at least one which clocks in under the two minute mark:

Billy Bragg – The Busy Girl Buys Beauty

(Janice Long Paris Theatre, London Live, October 1999)

If you’re a fan of the Bard from Barking – and why wouldn’t you be? – this is an essential purchase.

More soon.