Yes, I know this is where I usually post a Short Song. (That’s my definition of “usually” by the way, I could just have easily have written the phrase “when I can be arsed”.)
And no, I didn’t forget to post today’s song on Sunday morning, where Country tunes usually reside round these parts.
No, this is a song which I’ve loved for many years, and whilst musically it sits in the Sunday morning slot, lyrically it can only really be posted here, on a Tuesday morning.
Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning, the opening track from Cowboy Junkies’ third album, 1990’s The Caution Horses, is a beautiful, sad, but ultimately empowering story of a woman who is, at first glace, getting used to a return to single-dom.
She lists the things she used to blame her ex for, but which still keep happening even though they’ve gone (“Guess you forgot to close the blinds last night. Oh, that’s right. It was me.”), the things she misses (…the smell of black coffee in the morning, the sound of water splashing all over the bathroom, the kiss that you would give me even though I was sleeping, but I kind of like the feel of this extra few feet in my bed…”), and the things she now feels free to do which she couldn’t before (“…Maybe tonight it’s a movie, with plenty of room for elbows and knees, a bag of popcorn all to myself. Black and white, with a strong female lead. And if I don’t like it: no debate, I’ll leave.”)
At the song’s bridge, we find our strong female lead floundering (“Here comes that feeling that I’d forgotten, how strange these streets feel when you’re alone on them: each pair of eyes just filled with suggestion. So I lower my head, make a beeline for home, seething inside”) before, safely ensconced back at home, she reflects once more – we get a repetition of the blinds being left open, the extra space in her bed.
It is, as described so far, the opposite of ABBA’s finest moment, The Day Before You Came. In that song, Agnetha describes the mundanity of her life on, as the song title pretty much gives away, the day before she met a significant somebody for the first time. But the reason I think that record is so brilliant, is because you’re never quite sure whether the person she met (and who presumably is no longer part of her life, hence the reflection) has been a good or a bad part of her life, nothing is given away. Yet the song is so melancholic – so anti-ABBA, if you like – that you can’t help thinking that she actually rues the day she met the titular You.
I wasn’t going to post this, because it most definitely does not sit in a Sunday morning Country slot even if it has been moved to a Tuesday, but I think if I’m going to make the comparison you should be able to hear them both without having to go off searching:
Incidentally, in what way is that an appropriate sleeve for that record? The Day Before You Came is an unexpectedly mournful slice of early-80s electronica, which is in no way appropriately represented by badly cut-and-pasted smiling headshots and a pink disco light.
I’m reminded of a section from my favourite ever episode of the much-missed Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, which aired on the TV channel Dave for a few years. Dave (the channel) is more renowned for showing repeats than making original content, but when it does stray into the realms of producing new content, it has had some success (Modern Life... being an example, along with the consistently hilarious Taskmaster, which has now been sold to Channel 4). I read today that the BBC has announced that, since they haven’t been able to make any new programmes since the Covid-19 lockdown, they’re now starting to run out of repeats to show. They should perhaps take a leaf out of Dave (the channel)’s book, and just keep pumping out old episodes of QI, Have I Got News For You and Top Gear rather than draw attention to it. Besides, there must be heaps of old BBC dramas which haven’t had a re-airing, even on the BBC iPlayer. The Buddha of Suburbia, for example, or TuttiFrutti. Some of the old Dennis Potter’s like The Singing Detective, Pennies From Heaven or even Blackeyes. Or some of the old Hancocks, Steptoe & Sons, The Likely Lads, Monty Python for Gawd’s sake. Anything must be better than showing Peter Crouch’s Save Our Summer on Saturday night and then repeating it two days later, surely?
But back to Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish. This is probably my favourite episode of that show; the bit I’m referring to comes in at around the 07:24 mark, where he discusses inappropriate magazine covers. You might want to watch it from the start to give it some context, and if you happen to have 45 minutes to spare I’d thoroughly recommend you watch the whole episode:
But I digress.
Whilst The Day Before You Came and Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning appear to be the same song written at different ends of a relationship, The Day… keeps you guessing about what happened next, but Sun Comes Up most definitely alludes to something bad having happened, not just in the final lines where the singer reminds herself “…there are some things that can never be forgiven…”, but in a middle section where she pops out of her house to buy breakfast from Jenny’s.
“She’s got a black eye this morning, ‘Jen how’d ya get it? ‘ She says, ‘Last night, Bobby got a little bit outof hand’.”
It’s tossed away like this is a normal occurance in the lives of Jenny and Bobby, and that’s what makes it stand out: the utter mundanity of the long-term abuse that Jenny has suffered at the hands of her partner.
So when that “…there are some things that can never be forgiven…” line comes in at the end, although it hints at something dark, you kind of feel a little cheer being supressed when our strong female lead quickly reminds herself that she kinda likes the extra few feet of room she now has in her bed.
And I mention this now, in the wake of my recent ranty post about the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions because….well, my own, purely selfish, preference would be that restrictions shouldn’t be eased until we’ve beaten the virus, not when we’ve nearly beaten it. And that might seem closer at the moment than it did both globally and nationally, but we’re not there yet. South Africa now has over 100,000 infections, the highest on the continent; Brazil has passed 50,000 deaths, whilst in the United States (where two more members of President Trump’s staff who attended the campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, which from the photos and footage I’ve seen seems to be 50% of attendees) the death toll has passed 120,000. Global cases have reached 9 million, not least because our own border checks are so pathetically insufficient that we allowed two infected UK citizens to travel to New Zealand. Truly, we are the Plague Rats of the world.
But I also acknowledged in that post that getting the balance right between starting to get back to normal and maintaining public safety is difficult,and certainly not one I’d like to be responsible for.
This dilemma is made all the tougher when you consider that during the pandemic crisis, there’s been a 20% global increase in reported domestic abuse. The UN have described it as “the shadow pandemic”. In April, it was announced that in the UK alone there had been a shocking 49% increase in calls to national domestic abuse helplines, where the abused were literally trapped at home with their abuser.
If you’re in the UK and have been or continue to be affected by domestic abuse, please reach out to somebody. And if you don’t feel able to reach out to someone you know personally, then perhaps consider some of the people you can find here: Information and Support: Domestic Abuse.
14 years later, Erasure released a 4-track EP called ABBA-esque; whilst the EP contained three other covers (Lay All Your Love on Me, SOS, and Voulez-Vous), it was their version of Take A Chance… which attracted the lion’s share of airplay, not least because of the gloriously camp video which accompanied it:
The EP romped to #1 in the UK, the band’s first single to do so, and stayed there for a five week stretch.
But you know that’s not really where I’m going with this, right?
For that’s not the greatest version of that song, oh no.
The greatest version – for entirely different reasons – was never released as a single anywhere in the world.
It first aired on BBC2 in the UK on 30th September 1994, as part of an ABBA medley, sung by an ABBA-obsessed chat-show host, duetting with a guest, with the musical accompanyment provided by a soon-to-be-sacked-and-then-begrudgingly-reinstated conductor and his band with an ever changing name.
Complete with introduction, here’s one of the funniest of oh-so-many funny moments given to us by Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge:
This only managed to get to No. 32 in the UK charts back in 1982, and proved to be pretty much the final swansong of a band who it can be argued to have been one of the most succesful ever.
Subsequently, it’s achieved some much belated recognition; in 2010 on a show entitled “The Nation’s Favourite ABBA Song”, where viewers of ITV were invited to vote for, erm, their favourite ABBA song, this came third, proof that ITV viewers are idiots for only placing it there and not higher.
Ostensibly, this is simply a song where Agnetha recounts the events of her drab life on the day before “You” came into her life, but there’s something more to it than that. What is never made clear is whether the arrival of “You” is a good or a bad thing, but there’s a gloomy atmosphere here, a pervading sense of foreboding that makes you think maybe everything is not about to go well, that she rues the day that “You” arrived in her life.
In 1984, Blancmange released their cover version and ironically it also proved to be their last Top 40 UK hit. It’s a slightly more uptempo version, but no less sinister sounding for it, Neil Arthur’s deep vocals adding a different weight to the mournful tone of the song. And quite why they felt the need to change the author of the book read by the singer from Marilyn French to Barbara Cartland is beyond me. Perhaps they didn’t think anyone would know who Marilyn French was, but I think her inclusion in the original to be significant, since she mostly wrote feminist text.
As the late great Sir David Frost would have said had he been hosting it, rather than faffing about interviewing Richard Nixon, or popping through the keyhole with a bloke who makes pasta sauce: Hello, Good Evening, and Welcome to the latest instalment in the series of posts known as The Chain.
We ended last week with “Up on Cripple Creek” by The Band, and I set you all three challenges:
Come up with your usual high standard of suggestions for songs which link to that record;
See if any of you could come up with a song worse than the one I had thought of, or failing that, the actual one I was thinking of;
I didn’t actually write this, but I think we were all hoping for some suggestions to lift the post-election blues.
And, as I hoped, you did not disappoint.
As usual, you can break down this week’s suggestions into various categories, so here we go with the first of those groups, which picked up on the fact that many of The Band hailed from the country who experienced some technical difficulties last week when the website which facilitates people applying to emigrate to their fine land crashed due to the amount of traffic it received after Trump won the election: Canada.
First out of the traps was George, determined to dazzle us with his knowledge of terrible records:
“Worst Record In The Chain challenge accepted! [see..?] The Band were mostly from Canada. And also from Canada were a group called Sway, who covered Ottawan’s ‘Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)’, and if you thought that the original was bad, just listen to that cover.”
As it goes, I don’t think the original is that bad. Of it’s time, yes. As for the cover George has nominated though, well…he has a point. Also of it’s time, that time being when it was acceptable to churn out cheesy versions of old tunes, i.e. the late 80s. I’m looking at you, Stock Aitken and Waterman. And you can piss off as well, Cowell:
As an aside, you’d think that if you were going down the Canadian route, then simply suggesting something by Ottawan would be sufficient, what with Ottawa being the capital of Canada and everything. But no: it turns out Ottawan were not actually Ottawan at all; they were founded by French record producers Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger and fronted by Caribbean-born Jean Patrick Baptiste and Annette, who apparently is so famous as not to require a surname. Such things are for mere mortals like you and I.
Much as he might be keen to win the coveted crown of “Worst Record of the Week” (you haven’t, by the way George. Not even close), George is also keen to make a more credible suggestion, also tip-toeing his way along the Canadian route:
“And from that absolute piece of nonsense to something simply awesome, as The Swede will undoubtedly agree. Sticking with the Canada link, there’s a Canadian ballad dating from ca. 1839 called ‘Canadee-i-o’ which is on the Nic Jones’ album Penguin Eggs.”
Just in case you’re worried we’re about to move into (or remain in, depending on your thoughts on Mr Cohen) gloomy territory, we’ll move on to the next group now, which is songs which relate to the Creek in the Cripple Creek, and to get things moving on that front, here’s babylotti:
“The word ‘Creek’ inspires two songs from me, both ones I originally heard/taped off John Peel. The Fall, with Cruisers Creek probably my first or second memorable encounter with the band…”
Oh, and just in case you’re interested, this is Peggy Mount:
Which in no way should be considered a neat segue to Charity Chic and his first suggestion of the week:
“Husband and wife Marc Olsen and Victoria Williams appeared together as part of The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers. Prior to this and whilst still a Jayhawk, Olsen penned a song ‘Miss Williams’ Guitar’ for his beau.”
Over to Badger now, who, unselfish chap that he is, nominates a band that his buddy SWC loves (as does he, it has to be said, and, after they posted them over at their When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a month or so ago and I went out and snaffled me their back catalogue, so do I):
“Saddle Creek is the next town up the Nebraska river after Cripple Creek and Saddle Creek Records house the totally wonderful Hop Along whose ‘Painted Shut’ was the second best album released last year. So to celebrate that let’s have ‘Waitress’ by them.”
“And…Up On Cripple Creek is about a girl called Bessie, so I also suggest ‘You Stand Here’ by Dressy Bessy (which does sound very much like Inbetweener by Sleeper to me… linking back a few weeks on The Chain… which might get messy: what happens if we cross links?)”
You need to ask? It’s like when streams cross, Rol:
Dunno about you, but I’m definitely imagining that’s Trump Tower and that two certain non-politicians are stuck in a gold lift.
PS – that reminds me more of Belly than anyone else. I think. Can’t quite put my finger on it, to be honest. Maybe The Breeders circa “Pod”. Either way, it gets a thumbs up from me.
Time for a big Chain Gang welcome now to first time contributor Lynchie, who writes:
“Am I being too stupid to suggest Buffy Sainte Marie playing mouthbow and singing “Cripple Creek” LIVE?”
Lynchie, no suggestion is too stupid for these pages, and yours is far from stupid. Plus, you were kind enough to post a link to the clip you were referring to in the Comments (I’ll not post it again here, but if you want it you can find it back on The Chain #28).
Instead, here’s the version you mention in glorious sound-only format:
Ok, on then to the third group: The Band and it’s members.
But first, I love a good Factoid, and Alyson supplies a belter this week, even if she can’t quite remember the nuts and bolts of it:
“Discovered recently when I posted a video clip of One Of Us by ABBA that Agnetha got custody of the “Music from Big Pink” album by The Band, when she and Bjorn (or was it Benny) went their separate ways. Won’t take credit for spotting this – it was another chain ganger whom I won’t embarrass by naming – but that will be my suggestion for this week!”
So here for Alyson and The Swede (ooops!), is a bit of ABBA:
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking a bit of ABBA. One of the many purchases I made from Britannia music back in the 1980s was their Greatest Hits Volume 2, which I still own, long after much of my own vinyl has been sold, stolen or donated to charity shops. In fact, “One of Us” is taken from their final studio album “The Visitors”, a vinyl copy of which I have very happy memories of, not so much for the record itself, but for it’s sleeve. I’ll cryptically say no more than that for now, but at least one person reading this will know what I’m referring to, and they’ll have just spat their coffee all over the place in surprise. I’ll explain some other time.
In the meantime, here’s The Swede. Look innocent everybody, like we don’t know his little secret.
Oh hi, Swede. Us? Talking about you? Noooo, course not.
We’re on to links to The Band, and band members of The Band. Any suggestions?
“Robbie Robertson of The Band mentored Jesse Winchester’s early career, even producing his first LP in 1970. I’ll choose a much later track by Jesse though, ‘Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding’ from 2009’s ‘Love Filling Station’. “
I’ve never heard that before. It is properly gorgeous. The Swede: thank you for bringing that into my life.
“There’s a YouTube clip of Jesse performing the song on Elvis Costello’s American TV show that I’d defy anyone to get through without serious lip-quivering” The Swede adds. He’s not wrong:
That voice has no right to be coming out of that face. Just incredible.
Until I heard that, had you mentioned the word “Winchester” to me my reference point would have been this:
I think this might actually be a decent plan to escape the world right now, as it goes.
Back at the start of October, I wrote a post about how “Labour of Love” by Hue and Cry always took me back to a certain bar that we used to frequent in Peterborough when I was at Sixth Form, the name of which I couldn’t recall. My old mate Richie got in touch with a list of bars it could’ve been, and he nailed it first time: Miss Pears. A terrible name for a bar, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m sure you’ll all sleep well tonight knowing that.
I mention this because the next song also reminds me of the same place; they had a TV which seemed to have the video for this eternally playing on a loop.
The Robster provides three suggestions “that don’t need much explaining”, and this was one of them, a double linker since there’s a water link in it too:
I always thought Robbie Robertson was one of those made-up joke names, like Boaty McBoatface. Seems I was wrong.
The Robbie Roberston suggestions don’t stop there. Here’s The Beard:
“The Band’s Robbie Robertson has worked with Martin Scorsese on the soundtracks to several of his films. One such collaboration was Casino. Las Vegas, in particular The Strip, is renowned for it’s casinos. Slightly off The Strip is a shiny gold hotel emblazoned with the name of an arsehole. Despite said arsehole’s bigoted views and alleged improprieties he is on the cusp of taking over as the King of the Jungle. With hopes of a Sam Allardyce style rapid fall from grace in mind, it has to be Impeach The President by The Honey Drippers.”
The verse to that has a touch of “Yellow River” about it, doesn’t it? Wait a minute…river…creek…oh go on then. And as this week sees the 25th anniversary of their break-through album “Out of Time”, here’s R.E.M. doing a cover of the old Christie hit:
“…or: The Band => Banned => Banned Records. Or in this case, a record that was banned by it’s creator when he discovered what the title actually meant. Is Cliff Richard and “Honky Tonk Angel” waiting in the wings?”
Ok so THAT has to be the worst record of the week, surely?
Nope. But Rigid, you are about to find out how close you came to guessing the song that I was thinking off. In fact, with SWC you jointly nudge even closer to it. I’ll let SWC explain:
“The Banned were the name of the pub band in Eastenders which featured Sharon and Kelvin on vocals. The British public took them to their hearts and sent their one and only single in to the higher parts of the top 20. Sadly I forget what it was called. But it is a contender for the worst record of the week.”
“Something Outta Nothing” blurts out Rigid, with scant regard for his public perception.
Oooh, you’re both so unbelievably close…!
The record I was thinking of, and undisputed Worst Record of the Week was“Something Outta Nothing” but when it got released as a single they didn’t release it under the moniker ‘The Banned’, they released it as…well, sounding like a song that Samantha Fox rejected for being “too shit”, they released it as this:
Need some help stopping your ears bleeding? Here’s The Robster with another of his brief, self-explanatory songs, one of my favourite records of all time, by one of the most under-rated indie bands of all time:
Before we move on to the final grouping, which is songs which link to the word “Cripple” – a category I’m sure we’re all approaching with nothing short of nervous trepidation – here’s Walter:
“The B-side of the record is ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’. It became an anthem of America’s southern pride. That leads me to another song showing southern pride. So let me suggest Lynyrd Skynyrd with Sweet Home Alabama.”
This has actually featured before on The Chain – don’t let those streams cross!! – way back on the Chain #4. I’m allowing it’s inclusion this week because it wasn’t suggested by one of the Chain Gangers (at that point, there was only me, George and Charity Chic), it was the next link in The (Official) Chain, and because in those days I would ask for suggestions as to what the link was, as well as suggesting alternative links. So, as a testament to how this little corner of ours has grown and changed (for the better, I think), here you go:
No, no, I’m not crying, just got something in my eye, s’all….
We’ll ignore the fact that, unsurprisingly, Trump won 62% of the vote in Barmy ‘Bama.
Last week, I made a joke. I don’t know if you spotted it. I said that regular contributor Dirk“…has a different way of dealing the idea of linking records together. Whilst the rest of us ponder the staple tune and think of songs to link to it, Dirk seems to decide on what record he wants to hear then just make up any old stuff to get to it.”
Now Dirk took that in the spirit it was intended, although when I first read his suggestion this week, I wasn’t so sure:
“…if that…were even HALFWAY true, I’d by now have invented an interesting tale which leads to Intense Degree’s “He Was The Ukulele Player For Dr. Eugene’s Travelling Folk Show Band” just because it has “band” in the title …. and because I’d like to hear it again!”
Having just popped over to Dirk’s place I see that he has kindly posted the whole of the Colorblind James Experience’s second album, which I’ve never heard, and which I shall be returning to pillage and leave a nice comment shortly, so I figured I owed him a favour:
Not really my cup of tea that. In fact, the kindest way I can describe it is “mercifully short”. Still, each to their own and all that. S’not all about me, now is it?
Anyway, Dirk does continue to make an actual suggestion:
“…instead I took the complicated route and found something linked to “Cripple” (not many of you will do THAT, I’d have thought): The Crippled Pilgrims and ‘Black And White’: a mighty tune off their 1984 debut MiniAlbum … which I haven’t listened to for quite a while … admittedly, so …”
“Eagulls released the imaginatively titled EP a few years back. The fourth track was called Cripple Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. But the best track on the episode was Moulting. And if that’s the correct link then I’ll run through Exeter tomorrow wearing just a feather boa and a pair of wellingtons.”
Regular Chain Gangers will know that when I insert the number of The Chain we’re at as part of the mp3 link, it can mean only one thing: that is the contributor has correctly guessed the next song in The (Official) Chain, has won some bonus points, and on this occasion gets an all expenses trip to Exeter!
Does anyone have any wellies SWC can borrow tomorrow?
Of course, on this occasion, I’m just winding you up. Of course that isn’t the next record. I don’t think it had even been released when The (Official) Chain was at this stage.
We’re nearly there though.
Just one more to go. And it wasn’t just The Robster and SWC who came up with a song linked to “Cripple”, yours truly did too. This is from the first album that I ever bought on CD, (purchasing it at the same time as The Housemartins ‘London 0 Hull 4’, in case you’re interested):
Now I don’t know about you, but when I find out what the source record is each week – and I genuinely don’t look until I start writing the post – the first thing I do is go to my iTunes (other music and multi-media playing devices are available), type in some of the words from the song title, or from the album it features on, and see what I already have which might be of use. This week, it gave me that record, The Fall record that babylotti suggested, the Buffy Sainte Marie record that Lynchie suggested, and one other, which just so happens to be the real next link in The Chain. And you’re all going to wish you hadn’t shot your bolt with your links to Creeks, Cripples, and Water this week.
Here’s the link:
“…Neil Young wrote a song called ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’, from the ‘After the Goldrush’ album…”
All that’s left for me to do this week is invite your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Cripple Creek Ferry” by Neil Young, via the Comments section below, along with your usual brief descriptions as to what links the two records together.
You’ll recall there was no Friday Night Music Club last week, on account of me being too preoccupied with my fruitless efforts to get my new phone to work.
You’ll all be delighted to learn that I’ve got it sorted now. Just one ultimately embarrassing contact with my tax-avoiding network provider later, where they pointed out my Sim card wasn’t working because I hadn’t requested that they activate it yet, and I was up and running.
You’ll all be slightly less delighted to hear that in the interim period, I started thinking about songs which involved telephones or telephone calls. It occurred to me that there weren’t very many happy songs involving telephones: they all seemed to involve hoping someone would call, or someone not answering/pretending not to be home, or leaving messages on answering machines (that’s voicemail to you youngsters).
Before I knew it, I’d compiled a little playlist involving such songs, which I’m going to foist upon you all tonight.
Before we go any further though, my normal file sharing service is apparently having “internal issues” which is preventing me from uploading any of today’s songs. Maybe it’s some kind of protest at my selection, I dunno. So for tonight, we’re off back to the service I first used when I started writing this, Box. Hopefully, none of you will have any issues with playing or downloading (for evaluation purposes only, of course), but if you do, let me know and I’ll try and sort out a different link.
** ALL LINKS NOW AMENDED (I hope) **
OK, so, admin out of the way, to kick things off, here’s that there ABBA lot, with what is as close to an upbeat sounding song about telephones as I came across, where Agnetha, or maybe Frida, or maybe both, are pondering why their other half has not called them. Quite why they don’t just ask them – one of them is playing the guitar, the other the keyboard on the song they’re singing, after all – is beyond me:
Feargal – perhaps the reason she hasn’t used it, is because judging by the sleeve of the single, you appear to have given her the record’s catalogue number, rather than your actual telephone number. A schoolboy error.
ABBA and The Undertones are not alone in bemoaning the lack of contact from a potential beau. Here’s Macy Gray (remember her??):
Macy – at the risk of this turning into one long Agony Aunt page, I suspect that the reason you didn’t get a second date here is because according to the above, you have also confessed to admitting murder. If I’m honest, I’d probably think twice about getting back in touch if I knew that.
Some people, rather than simply sitting around moping about the fact their phone hasn’t rung, take matters into their own hands, and start hassling those they consider accountable:
Although, frankly, if a simple call to the operator makes you wonder whether they might be a more suitable life partner, I’d say that suggested you weren’t all that committed to idea of remaining with the person you were trying to call in the first place.
Now, I don’t wish to appear unsympathetic or unkind, but is it just me that thinks most of these people should be taking a hint?
Take Rialto, for example, who seem to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the absence of a reply:
All of this missed call, calls not being answered mullarkey could easily be avoided, and the hint taken a lot earlier, if some of these people moved off Pay As You Go and invested in a phone with a voicemail. Like Little Mix (and Missy Elliott), for example:
The chorus of “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” is, of course, directly lifted from…no, sorry. I can’t bring myself to post it.
Instead, consider this: sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason why someone might not answer the phone. Here’s Paul Evans with your obligatory “Blimey, I’d forgotten all about that” record of the week:
Now, I love a good bracket as much as the next man. Unless that man is in a dress and called Hinge. But surely the (The Telephone Answering Machine Song) is the most superfluous addition to a song title ever. Firstly, I don’t think anyone has ever referred to them as Telephone Answering Machines. Secondly, it implies that listeners are too stupid to understand that’s what’s going on in the song and need to be reminded. Thirdly, while the answering machine theme is predominant throughout the song, surely if you’re going to treat your average record buying public as idiots, you may as well call it “Hello, This is Joannie (The One About The Girl Who Doesn’t Answer The Phone Because She’s Dead)”.
Look: when George “Shadow” Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich wrote The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack”, they didn’t feel the need to pop the words (The One Where She’s Going Out With A Wrong ‘Un Who Gets Killed While Riding His Motorcycle) on the end of the title, with good reason.
Plus: if we are to believe Paul Evans, he got drunk with Joannie, had an argument, let her drive home, and in between attempts to call her the next morning, wrote a glib ditty about how he couldn’t get through, finds out she’s dead, finishes the song off, and bemoans the fact that never again would he be able to kiss her “funny face”. Joannie sounds well off out of it, if you ask me.
And he looks like a grumpy Peter Powell.
Now then, question time. What’s worse than the following: not being called, being called too much, getting through to an answerphone, or your partner being killed before they can answer the phone?
Answer: being David Gedge, that’s what. Poor old lovelorn David is trying to call his girlfriend, and he gets through…to her sister, who, much to his humiliation, pretends she’s not home when she clearly is:
This was supposed to be the last part of this “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, but I’ve thought of enough additional ones to drag it out for another week after this. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
So, we’ll kick things off with what seems to be the obligatory dollop of Britpop:
…the title of which is of course lifted from the TV show of the same name (obviously, hence it’s inclusion here. Do try and keep up, will you..?) as Scottish elf Lulu’s 1970s Saturday night spectacular (Disclaimer: the request for you to vote for Lulu to win a Brit award is nothing to do with me):
But whenever I hear the name Lulu, it’s not the Bee Gee-banging, Freemans catalogue saleswoman that first springs to my mind. No, it’s the character played by Kathy Burke in “Harry Enfield & Chums”:
Not the funniest clip in the world, I grant you, but you get the giste.
National Treasure-in-waiting Kathy’s had quite an increase in her online presence recently; she’s joined Twitter (if you like a good swear – and a good laugh – give her a follow @KathyBurke ), and has been interviewed by Adam Buxton on his wonderful podcast (which you can listen to here) and on Scroobius Pip’s fascinating Distraction Pieces podcast (which you can listen to here). Both are highly recommended.
Plus, Kathy’s in this, which I’d completely forgotten about until writing this post:
And she also declared her admiration for the lyrics of the bequiffed one when she appeared on Room 101 (go to 25:38 for the relevant bit):
And whilst she’s a highly regarded theatre producer these days, it is for this character and sketch that she is perhaps mostly fondly remembered:
Why am I banging on about Kathy Burke?, I hear you ask. Well, because of the sitcom she starred in which was named after this, that’s why:
Well, it is Eurovision weekend, after all. Can’t really not mention them somewhere, can I?
Now. Regular readers will know that I have often cited my older brother (hello!) as a major influence on my music tastes. As I’m a couple of years younger than him, and although later life has brought some kind of parity, when we were kids I always seemed to be a lagging behind in terms of records that we bought. Consequently for much of our youth I would have rather died than actually admit to liking anything he did: when he liked rock music, I was still into Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Stevens; by the time I’d started listening to Deep Purple, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, he had moved onto The Rolling Stones and The Jam, and had come back from America with his brace of albums by The Go-Go’s amongst other things; by the time I’d moved onto them, he was going Goth. You get the idea.
Anyway, the reason I mention this now is that I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a series of posts where I highlight records which he bought but which he probably would rather I didn’t remember him having, and of which he will doubtless deny all knowledge.
This was the lead single and opening track from their fourth studio album, 1985’s “Be Yourself Tonight”, (which he bought), the second single from it being their only UK Number 1, “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”, which is possibly one of my least favourite records ever, due to the ridiculous amount of over-signing which characterises it. I’m not going to post it, because I hate it so much.
His purchase of this album, though, does demonstrate another family trait which we both seem to have: not getting into bands until they’re past their best. By the time this came out, Eurythmics had all but ditched the electronic sound which informed their earlier finer moments, such as singles like “Love is a Stranger”, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made This)”, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Here Comes The Rain Again”, all released just a year or so earlier.
As for the TV show it links to, it’s a comedic update of “Call My Bluff”, a parlour game if you will. For those of you outside the UK who’ve never seen it, the premise is this: two teams of three play against each other. One player reads out a card containing a statement about something they must claim to do or have done; members of the opposing team question them and try to work out if they’re telling the truth or not. To make things more interesting, as they say, they have never seen the card before, which means if it’s a lie, their quick-wittedness and ability to lie is closely scrutinised.
Here are some of my favourite moments from the show. First, Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges tries to convince his opponents that he once bought a horse by mistake:
Secondly, Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert explains how he once paid for some tapas with a Nissan Micra (this is the complete episode so feel free to skip forward to 24:18 for Rhod’s yarn):
Of course, the game is made even harder when you have the likes of the brilliant Bob Mortimer, who seems to be talking utter nonsense most of the time, on:
There is of course another famous song with the same name, another song that I’m not overly fond of, but in a spirit of both diversity and transparency, here’s the inexplicable winner of three Ivor Novello Awards in 1992, for Best Contemporary Song, Best Selling Song and International Hit of the Year :
Every show I’ve mentioned so far this week has been broadcast on the BBC, so let’s change channels.
Between 1999 and 2006, ITV showed a drama series which I never watched, partly because it seemed to be a rip-off, albeit one with considerably higher production values, of Australian soap and late-night student/stoner favourite “Prisoner: Cell Block H”, and without a character with as great a name as “Vinegar Tits Vera”, but mostly because…well, it was on ITV, which is usually enough to put me right off.
Set in Larkhall, a fictional South London women’s prison, by which I mean a women’s prison in South London, not a prison for South London women (although now I think about it….), I speak of course of:
…which of course shares it’s name with the iconic, if mind-bending (read: weird), 1960s show starring Patrick McGoohan. Here’s the original opening sequence, which doesn’t half seem to go on:
One TV detective who was responsible for making a lot of people prisoners over the 69 episodes he starred (see what I did there? I really don’t just throw this together, you know), was Columbo.
In 2008, The Verve released their fourth album, the much anticipated follow-up to 1997’s critically acclaimed, multi-million selling “Urban Hymns”. However, “Forth”, for that was the witty moniker it received, was under-whelming at best, but did contain this:
A few years ago, I was working for a motor insurance company, and was asked if I could come up with any incentive schemes to get the best out of the staff. Some of the claims we dealt with were theft-related, and which required a telephone interview of the policyholder. I, along with pretty much all of my colleagues, hated doing these, so I suggested that my employers should try to find a way to make these a less arduous task for us. To do this, I suggested a monthly cash prize for whoever used the phrase “Oh, there’s just one more thing …” at the end of the interview most often in the month, just as the interviewee thought their ordeal was over, presenting them with a killer question, catching them off guard.
The didn’t go for it. The fools. Perhaps I should have suggested a hand lion.
Ok, last one for this week.
I’ve always loved songs which tell a story, which explains why I like those old Country stars like Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Tom T. Hall so much, as well as folks like Ray Davies, Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, Nick Cave, Bruce Springsteen, and it’s to the latter that we turn to round things off.
The title track from his 1980 double-album of the same name, this is just wonderful:
And the link? In 1988, and running for just one series (it was THAT good) was a romantic comedy starring twinkly-eyed 70s heart-throb David Essex as lovable, Cockney, ex-convict (aren’t they all…?) Davey Jackson.