Which Reminds Me…

…is the new name for the “Apropos of Nothing” thread, which I’ve felt slightly disingenuous about using for¬†a while now, since¬†pretty much every time I’ve posted something in there, it’s because I’ve been reminded of whatever I’m posting, usually by something else I’ve posted recently.

Such is the case today.

Dutch band (seriously, I seem to have gone all EU over the past few posts; that’s Dutch, Austrian and Slovenian acts I’ve featured recently. Still, I suppose it is Eurovision next weekend, so perhaps I should make the effort…) Shocking Blue are perhaps best known for this song from 1970, which sounds like a¬†cross between ? & the Mysterons’ “96 Tears” and The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”:

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Shocking Blue – Venus

The song became a hit again in 1986 when Banarama, assisted by the seemingly unstoppable PWL production label, released this cover of it:

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Bananarama – Venus

Every teenage lad growing up in the UK in the 1980s fancied one of Bananarama, and my teenage crush (one of many, obviously)¬†was on¬†Keren (the one in the middle). She, however, only had eyes¬†for talented guys like her long term partner, Andrew Ridgeley. Otherwise, I’d have stood a chance, obviously. Ridgeley, in case you’re wondering,¬†is, of course, better known for being the half of Wham! that wasn’t George Michael. Shuttlecocks ahoy!

A couple of years later, in 1990, the song was a hit again, this time a practically instrumental version, released by dance producers The BHF (which I thought was a Roald Dahl story, but which apparently stands for Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) under the slightly catchier¬†–¬†but only slightly, mind¬†–¬†moniker of Don Pablo’s Animals:

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Don Pablo’s Animals – Venus (The Piano Mix)

Rumours that they decided not to release the single under the name The BHF because it was a little too similar to BHS and they were worried in case “Sir” Philip Green bought them, asset stripped them and then sold them for ¬£1, leaving the British taxpayer to pick up the bill for the ¬£400 million shortfall on the pension fund, are completely unfounded.

However, it wasn’t just cheesy pop acts and dance remixers who fell under the spell of Shocking Blue. Here, from their 1969 “At Home” album is a song which will be familiar to many plaid-shirted grungesters:

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 Shocking Blue РLove Buzz

..and here is a version by a slightly more famous band, but who at the time were yet to turn into the genre-defining behemoth they soon became:

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Nirvana – Love Buzz

But all of this is just the amuse bouche for the main reason I’m writing this post. From¬†1968, and sounding like Grace Slick’s slightly deranged sister,¬†the truly magnificent:

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Shocking Blue – Send Me A Postcard

If you don’t like that, then I’m afraid we cannot be friends. Well, we can, but I will always be slightly suspicious of you.

Just sayin’.

More soon.

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Same Title, Different Song

I’ve had this one sitting ready to post for a while now, so since the first band have a new, rather fine (from what I’ve heard of it so far),¬†album out (“Helter Seltzer”) I thought now might be quite a good time to finally post it.

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We Are Scientists – After Hours

Hel and I would often try and play this as our last record, particularly when we DJ’d¬†in bars, in the hope that the bar staff would take the hint and keep the bar open a little longer (even more so if we were being paid in booze as long as the bar was open). I think it only ever actually worked once, in the now sadly defunct “Mucky Pup” bar in Islington. Although our playing little known 60s belter “Send Me a Postcard” by Shocking Blue when we knew the landlord/owner was a massive fan probably helped. It certainly helped us get some free Jagerbombs.

The Velvet Underground, of course,¬†did a song by the same name, the final track on their eponymously-titled third album, which categorically should not be confused with the “The Velvet Underground & Nico” album (the one with Andy Warhol’s banana on the sleeve). It’s a cute little acoustic number, not particularly indicative of their normal sound, and featuring drummer Moe Tucker on lead vocals:

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The Velvet Underground – After Hours

I first encountered this song when at the greatest gig I ever went to: R.E.M. at the Newport Centre, May 18th 1989, when they were promoting their Green album. Here’s the set-list from that night; fans of the band (and those who are familiar with the venue) will understand¬†just why, approaching 30 years and many, many¬†other gigs later, it remains the greatest gig I ever went to. I’ll talk about it in more detail at some point soon; until then, since I haven’t posted anything by them for a while, lifted from the Tourfilm live video which got released shortly afterwards, here’s R.E.M. covering (and forgetting the words to)¬†The Velvet Underground’s After Hours:

More soon.

How To Do A Cover Version

Recently, I stated that I didn’t really like posting live versions of tracks, since they were, generally, of a lesser sound quality than the studio version of the same song.

Since then, I’ve posted live versions of two songs, and after the first one, I suddenly found that I had the first song from this post annoyingly lodged in my brain. And so I figured if I was going to have to suffer, then so should you.

Okay, brace yourself. This is truly awful.

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Opus – Live Is Life

Surprisingly, considering it made Number 6 in the UK Charts (!!!!) it doesn’t appear on any of those Now! albums I recently got my hands on, so, and I want to make this very clear, this is not a song that I owned until I actively sought it out to post here.

What it does do is provide me with an excuse to post this clip of Chief Cocaine Schnozzler, King Mullet-wearing hand-ball player Diego Maradona doing his pre-match warm-up routine when Live is Life comes on the stadium tannoy:

That’s pretty great, I just wish it was to a better record. And he really should learn to tie his laces up, that’s just asking for trouble.

And, whilst we’re on Maradona, a quick trivia question: which is the only English team that he has ever played for?

That’s right, Tottenham Hotspur. And here’s the proof:

This was of course, before the 1986 World Cup and the whole Hand of God incident which saw Argentina knock England out of the competition.

Oh yeh, well done Leicester, by the way. Chuffed for you.

Anyway, on to the cover version, and I’ll be honest, I umm’d and ahh’d about whether to post this in the “How To Do…” or the “How Not To Do….” thread, before deciding that nothing could be as bad as the original, and thus plumping to house it here.

Now, if you’re a Slovenian avant-garde band and you absolutely have to do a cover version of “Live is Life” – and they by no means absolutely had to do one – then the only way to do it is to turn it into what sounds like the National Anthem of one of the countries trapped behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Which is lucky, because that’s exactly what Slovenian avant-garde band Laibach did:

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Laibach – Opus Dei (Life is Life)

More soon.

The Chain #4

When we last visited these shores, I posted the third song from Radcliffe & Maconie’s “The Chain” – officially the longest listener-generated thematically linked sequence of musically based items on the radio, and that song was Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, after which I invited y’all to make your suggestions for a record that could follow that in our list.

And I’m delighted to report that there was a real upward trend in suggestions, a 100% uplift if you will. Yes, that’s right, this time I got two suggestions.

Strictly speaking, I should choose just one of them, but that seems rather churlish, so I thought I’d post both.

First, Charity Chic suggested “Otis Redding to Noel Redding to Jimi Hendrix?” which very kindly  leaves the onus on me to select a Hendrix track to bedazzle you all with. Now I don’t claim to be the biggest Hendrix fan in the world, so I figured I’d just post what is probably my favourite track of his.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Crosstown Traffic

If you fancy seeing what sort of stuff Charity posts on a regular basis (and I would recommend that you do), you can pay him a visit by clicking here. (I could have sworn there was a permanent link to his site in the sidebar, but it seems not. Apologies CC old chap, consider that rectified!) (along with several other regular commenters’ blogs)

The other suggestion I received was from George, who I only very recently learned was the author of a very fine and now defunct and much missed blog I name-checked here a couple of weeks ago, “Jim McLean’s Rabbit”. His suggestion is very smart, so smart that a) I don’t fully understand it, and b) it led me to describe it as “comment showboating”, which was meant as a compliment, though I’m not sure if that’s how it came across.

Anyway, here’s George’s suggestion: “What about Dock of The Bay to The Bay City Rollers, originally known as The Saxons, to Sky Saxon, to The Seeds, and their single Can‚Äôt Seem to Make You Mine?”

I don’t need any second bidding to post this psych-garage growler, so George, cheers for the suggestion, keep them coming! Oh, and happy planting!

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The Seeds – Can’t Seem to Make You Mine

Okay, so that’s our suggestions dealt with, but what is the next official record in The Chain, I don’t hear you excitedly clamour.

Well, it’s this, and I have to say I have no idea what the connection between it and the Otis Redding record may be:

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4. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

So, suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that can feature next in Our Chain, which links to “Sweet Home Alabama”, and if you could explain the link too, as the contributors have done so far, that’d be great.

Oh, and if anyone out there can explain the connection between Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, I’d be ever so grateful if you could fill me in, as it’s really starting to get on my tits now.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Hope you’ve all had a good week.

Let’s crack straight on with the next part of the snappily-titled “Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune¬†Of The Programme In Question” theme.

First up, as I was flicking through the channels the other night, I saw an advert for a new show on E4, not a channel I visit often, which, according to IMDb¬†is¬†a spin-off from a movie franchise I’ve never seen nor, having read the synopsis, do I ever intend to see. Still it gives me the excuse to play this belter from 1988:

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239. Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

This was lifted from Wiedlin’s second solo album after The Go-Go’s split (the first time), and was her only solo UK Top 40 hit, making an appearance in BBC1’s Peter Kay’s Car Share. She’s also an actor, appearing as Joan of Arc in Bill¬†& Ted’s Excellent Adventure amongst other things.

But it’s as the main song-writer in The Go-Go’s, along with Belinda Carlisle, that’s she’s best known, although they remain a very much under-valued band on this side of the pond. They only ever cracked the UK Top 40 once, and that was when they reformed in 2004, when “Has The Whole World Lost It’s Head?” crept up to Number 29. Here’s them performing it on The Late Show:

I’ve touched on The Go-Go’s before when discussing albums my brother brought back from his trip to stay with family in the United States in the early 1980s, and they will feature again here very soon, so I’ll move on.

HAIM are a band who have recently made the breakthrough over here; I say recently, their debut album “Days Are Gone” came out in 2013 and the next track was the fourth single to be lifted from it.

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240. HAIM – The Wire

A few years ago, my brother leant me the box-set of The Wire TV show, a US show which many had touted as being the greatest TV show ever at the time of its airing. In case you’ve never seen it, here’s Charlie Brooker to explain:

This was my first experience of binge-watching, spending many nights checking the time and thinking I could squeeze one more episode in before bed.

There were five seasons of the show (I’ll concede to referring to them as seasons rather than series as it’s a US show), and the opening theme tune was “Way Down in the Hole”, a track written by Tom Waits and lifted from his 1987 album¬†Franks Wild Years (not to be confused with the song “Frank’s Wild Years” on Wait’s 1983 album “Swordfishtrombones”. Each season uses a different recording and a different opening sequence, with the theme being performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama,¬†The Neville Brothers, DoMaje, Steve Earle and Tom Waits himself.

And here they all are:

Moving on: Banderas are one of those bands that I always thought were called The Banderas. That is, until their name popped into my head when thinking of songs to post here and I tried to do some research on them.

Here’s what I found out: they were a female music due from the 1990s (which I knew); they were an off-shoot from The Communards (which I didn’t know, although it kind of rings a bell from somewhere), featuring Communards backing singer¬†Sally Herbert and shaven headed Caroline Buckley (which I partly knew: I remembered the shaved head part. You know, the important detail.¬†This was the early 1990s, tough, and by now we had all seen Sinead O’Connor and such things no longer shocked us); and they are best well-known for this:

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241. Banderas – This Is Your Life (Original Mix)

This shares a name with the long-running UK TV show which featured a celebrity (affectionately referred to as “the victim”) being surprised by the host, invited into a TV studio to be taken through the contents of The Big Red Book,¬†and reintroduced to significant people from their past who would drop in, share a generally rather dull anecdote about the celebrity subject, before taking a seat alongside them if they were family, or opposite them if they weren’t.¬†I often imagined that after they had recounted¬†their uninteresting story from the past, the guest would sit in the chairs opposite, glowering at the celebrity, who probably owed them money, and that after the end credits it all kicked off, family against non-family.

Largely the¬†show was broadcast live, which meant that the newspapers weren’t able to advertise who the “victim” was. Oddly, this seemed to only add to the excitement, millions tuning in for at least the first couple of minutes¬†to see who was going to be on. Non-celebrities were often the subject too, but nobody ever watched them.¬† (“Who is it this week, Ron?” “Some bloke who was the youngest serving group captain in the RAF.” “Oh. Have you got the remote control?”)

The shows stopped being shown live in 1983 after boxer Alan Minter, surely the Shaun Ryder of the 1980s, couldn’t stop swearing during his episode.

Here’s the iconic, very 60s, theme tune:

Next up, some more Britpop era tunes, and a song which could quite easily have featured in my “How To Do a Cover Version” thread.

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242. Saint Etienne – Who Do You Think You Are?

Nope, I had no idea it was a cover version either. But, whilst scouring t’internet trying to think of smart-arse things to say, I find that it’s actually the fourth version to see the light of day. (In all honesty, the other three are a bit samey, so you could spare yourself a lot of time and just listen to one of them then agree with me that the Saint Etienne version is head and shoulders above them all.)

Written by Des Dyer and Chris Scott, it first saw the light of day in December 1973 when it was released by Candlewick Green (presumably there were copyright issues with being called Camberwick Green):

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Candlewick Green – Who Do You Think You Are?

Then in 1974, Dyer and Scott released it themselves under the name Jigsaw on their album “I’ve Seen The Film, I’ve Read The Book” (there was no T-Shirt for them to buy):

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Jigsaw – Who Do You Think You Are?

Also in 1974, Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, deciding the¬†Who Do You Think You Are? market wasn’t quite saturated enough, released their own version, which itself was a follow-up to their cover version of Paper Lace’s “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”:

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Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods – Who Do You Think You Are?

But I digress. Who Do You Think You Are? is, of course, also a British genealogy documentary series which has aired on the BBC (initially on BBC2, but on BBC1 from series 3 onwards) since 2004, and in which a celebrity tries to make it look as if they are tracing their family tree themselves rather than just going where the programme makers tell them to, talking to whomever they are told to, whilst blowing fake dust from thick weighty tomes on cue.

Keeping with the Britpop bands asking question subtheme, a song by a band that I think are truly under-rated, many declaring them to be Smiths-lite, a comparison I always thought most unfair. JC wrote about this single a little while ago over on his blog, here, so I won’t dwell on how majestic this song is. Here, just to give you something¬†a little different, is a live version, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall:

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243. Gene – Where Are They Now? (Live At The Royal Albert Hall)

Trying to research the TV show of the same name has driven me a little bit crackers. My recollection is that it was a show in the late 1970/early 1980s, hosted by former Juke Box Jury presenter and BBC stalwart David Jacobs, where he interviewed someone who had once been in the limelight and found out, well, what they were doing now. He also used to pop up on The Kenny Everett Show, mournfully state the name of the show whilst looking straight into camera, before disappearing again. But can I find any evidence of these things anywhere? Nope. The only¬†mention I can find of either¬†is in this on the BBC website. So, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

One I can provide you with evidence of, however,¬†is Razzmatazz, a music based children’s television programme which ran on ITV¬†between¬†1981 and¬†1987. I suppose you could say it was a kid’s version of Top of the Pops, or perhaps more accurately as ITV’s version of Cheggers Plays Pop, but, crucially,¬†without Keith Chegwin.

Here’s the theme tune (although it will probably try and tell you the link has expired; it’s still there you just have to look around for it a bit), and more interestingly, here’s a very young Kirsty MacColl appearing on it:

And, quick, before I start getting all miserable about Kirsty not being around anymore, here’s a just-before-they-went-massive Pulp:

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244. Pulp – Razzmatazz

Released in February 1993, this was their final release on Gift Records, and it reached the giddy heights of number 80 in the UK charts. But it was very much laying the foundations for what was about to come: follow-up single “Lipgloss” made number 50;¬†“Do You Remember the First Time?” got to number 33 the following year, closely followed by “The Sisters EP” (number 19) and then…well, the rest is history.

So, to the last one for tonight, and to make things circular, a song with the same name as a TV series penned by Charlie Brooker, released by Canadian collective (they’re all collectives in Canada, have you noticed? Never bands, all collectives) Arcade Fire:

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245. Arcade Fire – Black Mirror

If you like your TV drama dark and a little disturbing, then I urge you to track some of Brooker’s TV shows down. The only one currently available on Channel 4’s On Demand Service, All 4, is the last one produced for the channel, “White Christmas”, which you can watch here. Sadly, there’s no sign of the first and most infamous episode, “The National Anthem” which first aired in 2011, and telling the story of the kidnap of a (fictional) princess, and the subsequent¬†ransom demand being that¬†(fictional) Prime Minister Michael Callow¬†must have sexual intercourse with a pig¬†on live national television.¬†The episode gained notoriety in 2015 when…well, I’ll let Brooker himself explain:

That’ll do you.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I mentioned I little while ago (I think) that I’d received one of those Facebook things, where you are invited to provide a list about a certain topic, and then forward it to friends and invite them to create their own list. Sounds fun, right?

Actually, I received the same request twice: list 12 albums which have “stayed with you”, or,¬†put another¬†way, list¬†12 albums you bought when you¬†were younger that you still listen to regularly now.

The album from which this morning’s song is taken was on my list, which makes it even more surprising that¬†I’ve managed to get this far in to writing this blog without ever posting anything by The Lemonheads.

So, let me put that right by posting this track from the slacker-rock, alt country classic that is The Lemonheads’ (or just Lemonheads, as they were at this point) “It’s a Shame About Ray” album:

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The Lemonheads – Hannah & Gabi

If you’re unfamiliar with The Lemonheads,¬†main man Evan Dando makes no bones about Gram Parsons being a huge influence, so if you like Parsons, you’ll definitely like that.

More soon.

Never Trust Kelvin MacKenzie

One of the down-sides of my being a predominantly weekend-based blogger, is that when stuff of significance happens mid-week I’m a bit rubbish at reacting.

By now, every one in the UK knows what we’ve always known: that the¬†deaths of 96 football fans¬†at Hillsborough in 1989, 27 years ago, were “unlawful”.

I’m not going to comment on that. You don’t need me to. You can just watch this:

What I am going to comment on is Kelvin MacKenzie’s response to the jury’s decision.

In case you don’t know who Kelvin MacKenzie is,¬†let me enlighten you. At the time of Hillsborough, he was the editor of The Sun newspaper, which, again in case you are unaware, is owned by the same company which owns The Times, The Sunday Times, and, until recently when it was found to have illegally hacked phones and was¬† forced to close, the News of the World. Yes, that’s right, News International, owned by one Rupert Murdoch.

Here’s the front pages of The Times and The Sun on the day after the verdict was announced:

The day after

Notice anything missing from them?

Back in 1989, in the immediate aftermath of¬†Hillsborough, MacKenzie signed off stories that claimed¬†some Liverpool fans urinated on police and¬†picked the pockets of the dead. They were printed under the headline banner: “The Truth”.

Only they weren’t the truth. Those claims were found to be entirely without foundation and the product of a smear campaign designed to shift the blame from authority onto victims. A smear campaign orchestrated by the police. And claims which MacKenzie did nothing to investigate or even check, preferring to just accept – and print – what the police were telling them. The earliest example we have of the cosy relationship between News International and the police, right there.

But now, post jury decision, he tries to position himself as a victim, that he was hood-winked into printing those lies.

Poor old Kelvin. How hard his life must be, knowing he has lost precisely none of his relatives due to the incompetence of the police officers he actively sought to defend at the time.

There’s only one song to play:

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Billy Bragg – Never Buy the Sun

Well, actually, there’s two. I was saving this for a “Same Title, Different Song” post, but this is way more important:

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The Housemartins – Freedom

More soon.