Tuesday’s Short Song post featuring The Box Top’s The Letter prompted a comment from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said:
“Have you heard Al Green’s version? I think it’s tremendous. Some might disagree (they are of course wrong).”
I hadn’t, but this seemed a most serendipitous suggestion, given the Rev. Green also featured here on Saturday night, and so I decided to investigate.
He’s not wrong you know:
I’ll be honest, before The Box Top’s version ended up in the Short Song series, I had been flirting with the idea of including it in this series anyway, but not with The Rev. Green’s version as the alternative. There are so many versions to choose from, but one that I really love is by Ellie Greenwich.
You know Ellie Greenwich. No you do, I promise you. She either wrote or co-wrote such indisputable classics as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Crystals’ Da Doo Ron Ron, The Shangri-La’s’ Leader of the Pack, Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy (itself a cover version, but we’ll save that for another time, I think), and Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High…I could go on.
But in 1968 she released an album entitled, Ellie Greenwich Composes, Produces and Sings; a slightly disingenuous title given that she didn’t do any of these things on the original version. I’m probably doing her a dis-service there, for the style is very different to The Box Tops’ version, even more so than Al Green’s version, and so she may have either recomposed and/or produced this version, which she definitely sings on.
It couldn’t sound any more like it was auditioning for an Austin Powers movie if it tried, could it?
(Disclaimer: I have never seen any of the Austin Powers movies.)
You know how I said I had a lot to get through last week? Well this week, even more so.
But before we get cracking, and to kill off any semblance of suspense, I’ll tell you that none of you – including me – picked the official record in The Chain. In fact none of you – including me – went down the same route as the person who picked the official one, which when you read it, will have you slapping yourself in the face and saying “Of course!!! Why didn’t I think of that!!”
First out of the traps, so to speak, this week was Charity Chic, proving once and for all why the name of this blog is very appropriate indeed, for I must admit, it was a song which I owned, albeit on a 90s compilation CD I’d picked up for something else entirely, but which also contained his suggestion:
“Dundee Unite fans despairingly sing “You’ve only got one shoe” to the socially deprived fans of Glaswegian clubs. When Gordon Strachan was manager of Celtic he was known as Chesney after a small red headed boy on the soap opera Coronation Street. So The One and Only by Chesney Hawkes please Jez. It’s bound to be the winner.”
It’s okay. It’s safe to come out now. The be-moled one has gone.
But hot on his heels, here’s S-WC from When You Can’t Remember Anything, who not content with giving us two suggestions in his first week, goes two better by giving us four this week. So, deep breath, here we go:
“Shoes were made for walking which immediately gives you ‘Fools Gold’….”
But before George has chance to flood me with multiple suggestions, can we give a warm Chain welcome to The Badger, who co-authors the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog with S-WC, who…erm…floods me with multiple suggestions:
“Whilst my esteemed colleague S-WC is probably right about Fucked Up, he should consider this: Kirsty MacColl famously covered ‘A New England’ by Sir Billy Bragg. Billy Bragg also sang about Shoeburyness in the classic A13. So you could go there…”
And we will, for I once got Janice Long to play that for me on her late night Radio 2 show, kicking off – and I know you’ll find it hard to believe I could be behind such a thing – an hour of themed songs about roads:
Moving on…no, wait…George hadn’t finished it seems…
“Then I thought of this: one of the other tracks from the Tropical Brainstorm album is “Não Esperando” which is Portuguese for No Waiting (and I didn’t have to look that up!), and the “waiting” bit leads to, yes, one of the 5 best songs ever recorded, Jesus Is Waiting by Al Green, the last track on the Call Me album, and 5-and-a-half-minutes of absolute genius.”
Next up is Alex G, author of the rather fantastic We Will Have Salad who is kind enough to give my Copy and Paste skills a bit of a break by just suggesting the one song:
“What would you find “In These Shoes?”. If you were a shoemaker, probably a last. And Bob Last was the man behind the legendary late-70s indie label Fast Product, which in its brief existence gave us the debut singles by The Human League (the only reason I know the word “sericulture”), The Mekons, Dead Kennedys and Gang Of Four. Nice one, Bob. My pick: the original Fast Product version of “Damaged Goods” by Gang of Four, which Mr Last also produced. And which is great.”
And here’s Marie, who rather wonderfully adds an element of creative writing into her suggestion:
“I imagined the title of Kirsty’s “In These Shoes?” as a response to an invite to a Northern Soul All-Nighter. When asked, “What’s wrong with them?”, she might have answered, “Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes) (by Major Lance.)”
One of the things I love about running this post (I can’t really claim to write it), is that often I’ll be introduced to a record I’ve never heard before, and which I instantly love. There’s a couple of tunes up there I was unfamiliar with, but my favourite of those this week goes to:
Next, the return of another who I think we can now safely call a regular contributor round these parts. Here’s What’s It All About Alfie?
“This Chain could grow arms and legs, but it’s feet we’re interested in this week as feet live in shoes. A pair of shoes has two soles and following Marie’s thinking, how about Soul ll Soul with Keep On Movin’ (in these shoes) – a bit of a “lady” choice but gives The Chain balance perhaps?”
When this came out in 1989, my girlfriend at the time bloody loved it (in fact, we met because of it; she asked me to play it when I was DJ’ing one night, which I did, despite not being all that fond of it myself (No guitars, see..) The following week, I kept an eye out for her arrival, waited for her to get herself a drink and take up a spot kind of near the dancefloor, and then proceeded to play it for her again. Bingo! The oldest trick in the DJ’s Handbook.) but it wasn’t until a good few years later that the penny finally dropped with me about Soul II Soul and what an amazing record Club Classics Vol. One is:
“I shall ignore all this talk of shoes and go with the fact that there is a chain of newsagents called McColl’s (yes, I know the spelling is ever so slightly different). Therefore I think that a song about a newsagent would be appropriate. I can think of no better such ditty (indeed I can think of no other, either) than In The Middle Of The Night from the debut album from Madness.” (Nope, me neither. The Jam’s “Man in a Corner Shop” is about the best I can come up with).
Here’s The Swede, who picks up where George left off, linking to the title of the album from which “In These Shoes?” is taken:
“…‘Tropical Brainstorm’, which was co-produced by Dave Ruffy, drummer with The Ruts, one of the few groups of their time with the potential to rival The Clash in terms of passion and musical versatility. Certainly they were the only ‘punk’ band who got anywhere near The Clash when it came to reggae. ‘Give Youth a Chance’ is a good case in point.”
Which brings us to the last of the suggestions from you guys and girls, and, since we started with a slice of cheese from Chesney, ending with another slice of cheese seems appropriate. I’ll let Kay explain:
“My suggestion is Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Just the thought of Kevin Bacon dancing angrily in a warehouse brings a smile to my face. Can’t remember if he’s dancing to footloose or some other gem in the warehouse – but what a scene!”
Ok, cheese is a little unkind. I went to see that in the cinema when it came out in 1984, bloody loved it then, and bloody loved hearing it again now.
And, so to my choice. And mine is nowhere near as clever as all of yours (give yourselves a hearty pat on the back for another excellent week of suggestions, by the way). I’m giving you some breathy camp electro-clash-iness:
I wasn’t going to bang on about which way I’m going to vote, figuring that you can probably guess from my Election posts last year, or if you follow me on Twitter, which box my cross is going into.
But then a few things happened which made me reconsider.
Firstly, I re-listened to the tune, and realised that the lyrics “If I go there will be trouble, but if I stay it will be double” didn’t really convey my thoughts on the Referendum particularly accurately. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Secondly, the exact same song got posted over at “What’s It All About, Alfie?” earlier today, so I figured I needed to up my game a bity (no offence; I’ve only recently found this blog, and am very much enjoying it. You should check it out too). I also figured I could have spared myself a lot of time had I just remembered to post this a bit earlier in the day.
Thirdly, if we believe the polls (and Brexiters will never believe the Poles, unless they’re giving them a really cheap quote, in which case, they’re fine), it is very finely balanced between the Leave and the Remain camps. Some say Leave are marginally ahead, some say Remain are.
So, banging on it is then.
And let me pin my colours to the mast right from the start: I will be voting to Remain.
If you will also be voting to Remain, hello, you’re very welcome, stay as long as you like. Oh, I love your shoes!
If you have no intention of voting, or have not yet made up your mind, then stick around. Maybe something I say, or play, will strike a chord with you. You’re looking great, by the way; have you been working out?
But if you will definitely be voting to Leave, I’d recommend that you read no further. We’ll only fall out.
(Have they gone? Good, then I’ll begin)
So first, let’s talk about those of you who might be thinking of not voting. You should. You really should. This is one of the most important decisions that the British public has been asked in a very long time, and it may be the only time you get to have such a say.
So, if you can’t be bothered with voting, you don’t deserve a dedication, but you’re going to get one whether you like it or not:
I appreciate that this is not an easy decision, not as straight-forward as simply sticking with the political party you normally side with. Well, not for me it isn’t. I’ve voted the same way at every local, general or European election since I was able to vote, no matter how futile that vote may have seemed: I grew up in former Conservative Prime Minister John Major’s constituency, and the year that he got elected as PM I may as well have voted for Lord Buckethead, who was also standing against him.
But this time, the political lines are blurred. Whichever way I vote, I’m going to be agreeing with somebody who, essentially, I think is an utter cock.
I’m no fan of Cameron or Osbourne. But I’m buggered if I’m going to side with this motley crew of ne’er-do-wells (in no particular order of ne’er-do-well-ness): Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, George Galloway, Britain First, Rupert Murdoch, Katie Hopkins, David Icke, for fuck’s sake even Donald Trump! (If Motley Crue had to pick a side, I’d have found this whole process a lot easier, of course).
Boris Johnson: a man who spent eight years as the Mayor of London, eight years where I can think of not one positive thing that he contributed to making our capital city in any way safer or better. A man who pledged to end rough sleeping in London by 2012, but then ignored the fact that the figure had risen from 3,673 in 2009 to 7,500 in 2012. A man who ran up taxi bills of £4,698 in one year, including one for £237.00 for a seven mile journey. How is that even possible?? A man who thinks that shamelessly playing the buffoon endears him to us. A man who has positioned himself as the most ardent and prominent of Leave campaigners, yet who, just two weeks before announcing he would be supporting the Brexit camp, wrote this in his column in The Daily Telegraph:
“It is also true that the single market is of considerable value to many UK companies and consumers, and that leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty, while embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country – low skills, low social mobility, low investment etc – that have nothing to do with Europe.”
Or, in 2013 when he said this:
“Most of our problems are not caused by Brussels. My ideal world is: we’re there, we’re in the EU, trying to make it better.”
Bit of change of heart, eh? What could possibly have prompted that? The notion of taking over from David Cameron as the next leader of the Conservative Party, possibly the next Prime Minister, even? Johnson is without doubt a shameless charlatan, a career politician, who gives not two hoots about anyone other than himself.
Michael Gove: putting aside his immense popularity following his performance as Education Secretary – where the National Association of Head Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers all turned in votes of “No Confidence” against him – he’s had a phenomenal last couple of days of campaigning.
On Wednesday, he had to apologise for comparing economic experts’ – who probably know what they’re talking about, you’d think – warnings about leaving the European Union with the Nazis who denounced Albert Einstein in the 1930s.
On Tuesday, Gove announced that former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes was backing the Leave campaign, only for this to happen:
Yes, that’s John Barnes turning up on Sky News, of all places, to set the record straight. (Someone should tell him that Euro 2016 is happening in France, not South Africa, though.)
Nigel Farage: last year, there was a General Election. In that General Election, we all agreed on something: we did not want this man anywhere near our system of Government. He was soundly beaten in his constituency.
He hates the EU, does Nigel. Hates them so much, that he left the Conservative Party in a huff in 1992 because they signed the Maastricht Treaty. And guess what he did then? Yup, became an MEP. What’s an MEP, you may ask? An MEP is a Member of the European Parliament.
In 2009, Farage was asked what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999, he said this:
“It is a vast sum…I don’t know what the total amount is but – it must be pushing £2 million.”
Pretty happy with being in the EU then, wasn’t he?
Hardly a surprise then, that when asked, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal in April this year, if he was going to publish his tax returns – like David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and, yes, even Boris Johnson had done or pledged to do – Farage said:
“The answer from me is no. A big no.”
Strange that, eh?
And when about when he was an MEP? Surely, he fought tooth and nail for the rights of good, proud, honest British workers, right? Well, no, not exactly. During his time as an MEP, there were 38 votes on European fisheries policies, each one of which would have affected the British fishing industry. Farage voted just 9 times out of those 38 votes. Presumably the pubs were open when the other 29 took place, or perhaps he’d found an excellent tobacconist.
Farage, of course, is the leader of UKIP, a political party which prides itself on its stance against immigrants, coming over here, stealing jobs from good, proud, honest British workers. But let’s ignore the fact that Farage is a hypocrite, since he himself is of French descent, and is married to a German lady, who he also employs as his parliamentary secretary.
No, let’s focus instead on the downright lies and frankly racist comments he has made during this campaign. That he signed off on and stood in front of this poster campaign:
…ignoring the fact that that picture shows Syrian refugees – trying to escape ISIS – going from Slovenia into Croatia, not the UK. And that we have border controls.
The stuff about refugees and immigrants flooding the UK is not just a lie, it’s scaremongering of the worst kind.
And the biggest lie? This nonsense about us paying £350 million a week to the EU. Here’s the truth:
Coupled with that, there was the Leave claim that they would make £8 billion available for the NHS, which they said was supported by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Here’s what the IFS felt compelled to say in response:
And then there’s Britain First. Normally I would not waste my time discussing them. But this is worth mentioning: on June 13th, they posted this on their Facebook page:
Yes. Yes they did fight for a free Britain. For that picture is of the No. 310 RAF Squadron, formed in Duxford in 1940, and piloted by officers who escaped Czechoslovakia after the German occupation. They came over here, flying our planes and defending us against the Nazis…
You don’t need me to tell you why siding with the rest in that list – just to remind you, that’s George Galloway, Rupert Murdoch, Katie Hopkins, David Icke, Donald Trump to name but a few pre-Leavers – does not show you in a good light, do you?
That said, the whole campaign has, in my book, been utterly shameful, with neither the Brexit (God, I really hate that phrase) or the Remain camps covering themselves in glory. But it seems to me that the Leave campaign have been the most guilty of peddling lies.
Up until the week or so, the campaign had been, nasty, sordid, unpleasant. And then it took a truly nightmarish twist.
On Wednesday, Remain supporter and Labour MP Yvette Cooper received this Tweet:
He seems nice.
I imagine, Yvette Cooper gets trolled quite a lot on Twitter. Many people, especially women, in the limelight do, by idiots and cowards, taking a breather from tossing themselves off over the comments section in The Mail Online.
But given the events of 16th June 2016, there’s no room for this kind of stuff. There wasn’t before, truth be told.
On 16th June 2016 Labour MP Jo Cox, a Remain supporter and tireless campaigner for refugees and women’s rights, was murdered on her way to hold a surgery in her constituency. Shot, stabbed, and kicked as she lay dieing. A witness has reported that he heard the murderer shout either “Britain First” or “Put Britain First”.
And, although campaigning in the EU Referendum was suspended as a mark of respect for two days following the shocking events, when they resumed it wasn’t long before her death, and the possible reason for her death, took centre stage in the debate. Nigel Farage – who else? – claimed that David Cameron and George Osborne had tried to link her murder to the Leave campaign.
“I think there are Remain camp supporters out there who are using this to try to give the impression that this isolated horrific incident is somehow linked to arguments that have been made by myself or Michael Gove or anybody else in this campaign, and frankly that is wrong.”
Which of course, is something which could be levelled against me for mentioning it in this post. No: I’m merely reporting. Although, given the rhetoric the Leave campaign has used throughout, and which Britain First use as a matter of course, I’m not sure that you can totally disassociate yourself from a man who, when appearing in Court to face charges under the ‘terrorism protocol’ gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
Britain First of course, also tried to distance themselves from the alleged murderer, and some of their sympathisers tried to follow suit. With breath-taking results:
Chapeau, sir, chapeau.
Anyway, Cameron’s response was this:
“What I have been talking about in respect of Jo is what a wonderful human being and great politician and great campaigner she was….What everyone has been saying, and what I say again, is paying tribute not only to her but the values she lived by and epitomised in public life of tolerance, of service, of community. That’s what we are saying about her.”
All I will say is that Farage’s silence was noticeable after Jo’s widower, Brendan, gave this interview:
I’m not saying that Jo Cox was murdered because she was a Remain campaigner. It’s not that black or white. Very little is. I am saying that she was murdered because of her political views, which included a belief that we’ll be better off remaining in the EU. And her bereaved husband agrees.
But it doesn’t matter what I think. Not really. For much as the Leave campaigners have scoffed, stamped their feet, and feigned outrage at the mere suggestion that there could be a link between the person who murdered Jo Cox and their campaign, yesterday there was a memorial service for Jo in Trafalgar Square. And this happened:
That, in case you can’t make it out, is a plane carrying a banner which reads “Take Control #Vote Leave” which repeatedly flew over Trafalgar Square, just as Jo’s widower was giving a speech in her honour.
Words cannot express how tasteless that is.
Just to be clear: I’m not saying that all who support the Leave campaign are racists. But you can bet that every racist will vote Leave.
So today, please vote. It’s important. Think about not just which side you’re on, but whose side you’re on. And make the right decision, whatever you may think that is.