Friday Night Music Club

For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.

I’ve worked it out.

Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.

Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.

See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.

So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.

I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.

So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.

It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.

As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!

One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.

Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.

I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.

Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.

For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.

More soon.

Be Llyrious

When LlÅ·r was first admitted and then detained in hospital, I knew boredom would soon take a hold. So I went and bought him one of them there hand-held Nintendo gaming things to help him while away the hours.

He was really happy when I gave it to him; when I visited the next day, less so.

“The nurse confiscated it,” he told me. “Apparently playing it increases the likelihood of me having another seizure.”

Ah well. The best laid plans, and all that.

“You could bring my mp3 player in though…?” he suggested/asked.

I was half surprised that he didn’t already have it, joined at the hip as they had seemed to be.

You’ll note that I don’t say iPod there, as LlÅ·r refused to accept, as I had meekly submitted, that via Apple Inc. was the best way to listen to music on the go. What LlÅ·r had was most definitely not an iPod.

I brought it in for him the next day, and before we’d even got through the formalities, he was greedily popping the earphones in.

“Jez, you have to hear this album,” he said, not proffering me an earphone so I could share in his delight.

Even then, in hospital and just diagnosed with cancer, he couldn’t switch off.

Later, he would regale me about the time he saw them at the Reading Festival, in a tent full of delirious fans, but I can’t quite recall if that was before or after he got ill. Probably after.

‘This lot’ were Arcade Fire, and the album in question was Funeral.

And now, whenever I hear them, or specifically anything from that album, I think of him.

Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)

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.