Which Reminds Me…

Following on from yesterday’s post about songs which cram in as many words as possible, it would be remiss of me not to post this, the opening track from 1965’s “Bringing It All Back Home” album, a song jam-packed with some of Grizzly Bob’s finest blink-and-you-miss-’em lyrics:

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Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

Maybe not his finest moment, but there is if course an iconic clip from 1967’s “Don’t Look Back” that insists on being posted too:

More soon.

Hold It!

I can fully appreciate that regular readers may be waiting for two things to happen on these pages soon:

  1. I finally post another episode in The Chain, and
  2. I have a bit of a rant about the forthcoming election, where I nail my colours to the mast and wind up on the losing side yet again.

Fear not, both of these things will happen soon(ish).

In the meantime, something a little different, something relentlessly cheery to get us in the UK through the next six weeks or so (assuming the world lasts that long, of course).

During a recent recurrence of the illness I was struck down by a few weeks ago, I found myself scouring the BBC iPlayer for radio shows to lay in bed and listen to, and alighted upon “Alex Horne presents The Horne Section”.

You’ll know who Alex Horne is if you regularly watch Channel 4’s “8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown”, where he has appeared a few times in Dictionary Corner, or Dave’s “Taskmaster” on which he appears every week, acting as the foil to Greg Davies’ eponymous host, and as the referee to the ridiculous and pointless tasks set for the celebrity contestants to complete. There’s a new series starting shortly; if you’ve never seen it before (and even if you have seen it, for that matter) I would heartily recommend it .

Anyway, on this particular edition of  “Alex Horne presents The Horne Section” the guest was Danny Baker, another person who I admire greatly. If you’ve not read either of his autobiographies, you should give them a go, for they paint an extraordinary portrait of his youth in 1970s South London (turned into BBC sitcom “Cradle to Grave”, which was so good it coaxed Squeeze to reform to provide the theme tune), through getting a job in a record store frequented by Elton John (amongst others) to finding himself at the forefront of the punk DIY fanzine scene, and from there to his time as a journalist at the NME and ultimately on to the TV and radio personality he is nowadays.

Now Danny knows his music, but he’s not the sort of person I would necessarily expect to turn up on a radio show and sing, and make rather a good fist of it too, as it happens.

Which is probably due to his choice of song. Danny is renowned for his speed of tongue, and in his introduction to his selected song, he professes a love for songs which have a word for every syllable, and in particular certain songs from certain musicals.

Now this is where ordinarily our tastes would differ; I’ve never really been much of a fan of musicals, unable to suspend my disbelief to the extent that I can accept that a whole street would simultaneously start singing the same song whilst performing spontaneous, yet impeccably choreographed, dance routines.

Of course, take some songs out of the context of the musical and they can, and many do, stand alone. But today’s two selections – one, the songs chosen by Baker, the other by me – are superlative examples of songs from musicals which rattle along, twisting tongues and leaving you gasping for breath. Both are songs I remember from my youth, songs I grappled with the lyrical complexities and velocity of delivery.

First, Baker’s choice, from “Half a Sixpence” and performed by Tommy Steele:

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Tommy Steele – Flash Bang Wallop

And here, just to illustrate my point about the dancing, is  the (considerably longer) version from the film:

Now, I’ve never seen “Half a Sixpence”, but I have seen the musical the next film is from, many, many times; in fact I own a copy of it on DVD somewhere.

Moreover, when I was a young ‘un, we had a copy of the title track from the film on a 7″ single in the house – I assume bought to pacify either me or my brother at some point.

But it was the song on the B-Side which I was drawn to, and used to play, and attempt to sing a long to, incessantly:

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Dick Van Dyke – Me Ol’ Bam-Boo

“Have a go, mate!!”

Nope, still can’t manage it.

Oh, go on then, here’s the visuals too:

Given that Van Dyke is supposedly masquerading in this dance troupe to escape the attention of Arthur Mullard, whose hair he has just burnt off, he does manage to pick it all up – and take centre stage (why isn’t the leading man he has presumably ousted obviously trying to wrestle the limelight back?) – with remarkable ease…

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Of course, when I bemoaned the lack of good songs about Easter the other day, I was intentionally overlooking the wealth of songs which can be found in Country music.

This shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise, given the history of Country music is irrevocably entwined with that of Gospel music, so here’s a couple to enhance your Easter Sunday.

“Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)” is believed to have been composed by African-American slaves, for it can be traced back to 1899, to the source of many  such songs: William Eleazar Barton’s “Old Plantation Hymns”.

It’s also reported to be one of Mahatma Ghandi’s favourite songs.

So, y’know, what’s good from the source is good for the Ghandi.

(I know, it doesn’t quite work, that one, does it?)

Here’s the biggest star that Country music ever produced covering it:

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Johnny Cash – Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)

Cash was of course a deeply spiritual and religious man, so it’s no surprise either to find this standard nestling in his back catalogue:

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Johnny Cash – The Old Rugged Cross

I’m guessing that whoever drew that picture of Cash was probably the same person who designed the bust of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo which made the news recently. See if you can spot the difference… :

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More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Sticking with the religious theme of Easter weekend, here’s something from Jesus. Zola Jesus, to be precise.

Don’t let the slightly Dr Who monster-ness of the sleeve put you off tonight’s tune; “Sea Talk”, lifted from their 2010 album “Stridulum II” really reminds me of the Cocteau Twins:

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Zola Jesus – Sea Talk

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Shortly after I came up with the idea for what is now a hypothetical Indie night (just to recap: this was to play the songs by Indie acts which got forgotten in favour of more established dance floor fillers; indie music for the discerning palate, if you will) I  met up with my older brother.

We had a few drinks and discussed, first and foremost, music; we’re a long way down the road from when we were kids and we’d rather expose ourselves on the school bus than admit to liking the same music as our sibling.

In fact, for the past twenty five to thirty years or so, we’ve both given each other tips and nudges (and the occasional mp3 or burnt CD, which we later went on to purchase from a reputable dealer) about who we were listening to and who we thought the other would like.

Anyway, in this conversation, we started talking about bands who most people (and I don’t mean you, discerning reader, of course) hadn’t heard of, but who had obviously influenced an artist who was very much “of the moment”.

So I decided to extend the remit of the “I Am The Mouth” night (which has never happened) to include songs which had clearly made an impact on current acts.

And here are the two we were talking about. First, C86 stalwarts, The Shop Assistants:

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The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

and then, The Long Blondes:

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The Long Blondes – Once and Never Again

Hmmm. Now I listen to it again, that chord progression over the chorus reminds me of something else…

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The Smiths – I Want the One I Can’t Have

…which of course was borrowed for this Top Ten’er that I deftly avoided posting recently:

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The Housemartins – Happy Hour

More soon, don’t you know.

Initial Thoughts

Look at this – not just back, but back with a new thread!

Quite a long time ago, I thought I might start writing what will undoubtedly end up being a very sporadic, intermittent thread, featuring songs by artists with initials in their name, or songs featuring the same, or both. I must confess, this idea was kind of bubbling just below the surface for a while and then was nudged up above water level by whoever it was (The Beard, I think) that suggested “EMF” by EMF a while ago on The Chain (remember that…? Stick around….).

Last night, I realised that I have a picture of today’s artist hanging up in my flat, yet have never posted a single song by her (apart from in The Chain, where she’s featured once, suggested by yours truly). Time to rectify that, I think.

So here we are, with the first record in an occasional series, and I can think of no finer way to kick things off than with a song which was written by Cat Stevens, covered by the likes of Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow, and which Stevens himself released on his “New Masters” album in 1967 – shortly after today’s version was a hit.

Apparently, Stevens sold this song to today’s artiste for £30, which seems a fricking bargain, if you ask me. Her version was released first, and in my humble opinion, is the version which has never been bettered:

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P. P. Arnold – The First Cut is the Deepest

You know the drill by now: more soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #8

Right then. I’ve been a little quiet of late, sorry about that, but sometimes life catches up with you.

Some of you will recall that a couple of weeks ago I recommended a film on Netflix called “Whiplash”, and I know that at least one of you took that on board, watched it, and agreed with me.

So here’s another recommendation on the same service: “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”

I’ll be honest, I’d avoided it because of its title, it sounded a bit forlorn, too “It’s better to burn out than fade away”, but something made me give it a go the other night, and I’m happy to report that it was an hour and a half well spent.

Here’s the plot (no spoilers): Ruth (played by Melanie Lynskey – all through the film I was trying to work out where I knew her from. The answer: “Heavenly Creatures”, which she co-starred in with someone called Kate Winslett (I’ve no idea what happened to her) back in 1994), a socially awkward nursing assistant, returns home from a shift to find her house has been burgled. The police don’t seem to be overly interested, so she turns to a neighbour, Tony (Elijah Woods), who she had only previously encountered after his dog had shat on her lawn, for help, and the two set off on a cruise for justice.

I’ll say no more, other than if you enjoy a very dark comedy, you should give it a try.

Elijah Woods is an interesting one. He seems to have decided that he was going to make enough cash out of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy to start playing smaller, more interesting parts in more indie-ish productions. See also “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (one of the greatest films ever, in my book, despite Jim Carrey’s presence. Oh, and somebody called Winslett is in it too…) and he’s also in the Netflix adaptation of the much missed Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker…” follow up “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” (also worth a watch, from what I’ve seen so far).

Anyway, the other thing about “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” is the soundtrack, which veers from Echo & the Bunnymen, to country rock to doom rock (whatever that is) to hand-clap laden 50s doo-wop, like this:

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Judy & The Affections – Dum, Dum, De Dip

More soon.