Heard It On Film

Let me take you back. It’s 1997, and I’m smitten with the films of Danny Boyle.

Admittedly, at this point, there had only been two that he had directed (although he did crop up as Executive Producer on the¬†massively under-rated¬†“Twin Town” in 1997) – 1994’s “Shallow Grave” and, of course 1996’s “Trainspotting” – but if you’ve seen any of those – and if you haven’t, what are you doing here, go watch them immediately – then you’ll probably agree with me that they are great, great films.

And not just for the plots, or the ground-breaking artistic visionary style of the films,¬†but also for the soundtracks. Those films came out at around the same time as Tarantino’s first couple of movies, “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”, two films where the soundtrack played such an important role, it was¬†virtually an extra cast member.

Boyle’s movies are similarly blessed, and so it was that by the time of his third film, “A Life Less Ordinary”, acts were queuing up to contribute to the soundtrack: The Prodigy,¬†Faithless,¬†Sneaker Pimps, Alabama 3, some chap called Elvis Presley (although I suspect he may not have been queuing in person), The Cardigans, Underworld (of course) all appear.

It’s by far and away the best thing about the film which is not Boyle’s finest moments, but when the bar had been set so high by what has come before, you can forgive the odd blip.

And speaking of odd blips, here’s a song which first saw the light of day as part of that soundtrack, although it later got released as an edited single, and cropped up again on the deluxe reissue of “Odelay”. It’s also probably my favourite song in Beck’s marvellously varied back catalogue:

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Beck – Deadweight

“Deadweight” was nominated for Best Song from a Movie at the 1998 MTV Movie Awards.¬†It lost out to Will “Wicky Wicky Wild”¬†Smith’s godawful¬†“Men in Black”.

I know. Go figure, right?

There’s two other truly great tracks on there; firstly a different, more electronica¬†version of R.E.M.’s “Leave” than that which appears on their 1996 album “New Adventures in Hi-Fi”, which hinted at the direction they’d be taking soon, when drummer Bill Berry quit the band (starting the sad decline of the band over the next few albums):

R.E.M. – Leave

…and not forgetting the wonderful title track performed by Ash, displaying the talents of new member Charlotte Hatherley for the first time:

Ash – A Life Less Ordinary

Corking.

More soon.

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The Chain #5

Afternoon, link fans!

Happy to report that a steady number of suggestions to follow Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” were received this week (by which I mean the same as last week:¬†two), both of which¬†take us¬†in directions I anticipated, albeit not the tunes I expected.

But first, some admin. I had a message from Dave a.k.a. The Great Gog who said:

“The original reasons for links are available online (or at least they were around eighteen months ago when I last looked) on an archived Radio 2 page from when Radcliffe and Maconie were on that station, but I guess that would be cheating.”

Well, Dave, yes it would, but it would also help us clarify why the official suggestion was made. So, I’ve had a peek – and I swear, I have resisted the temptation to look at the next record in the chain or how they got there – and can confirm the following:

  1. I was right about the link between Booker T and Otis Redding
  2. George was right about the link between Otis Redding and Lynyrd Skynyrd, which for those of you who haven’t read the comments is that Otis Redding died in a plane crash, as did¬†several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The other bit of admin I need to sort was prompted by George who asked:

“Am I allowed to make another chain suggestion?”

So, let’s clear this up. I’m always happy to get messages from any of you, especially when it’s suggesting songs that you think I might like, or a suggestion for something to post, or hopefully both (Cath – I’ll be getting to that one you sent me months ago¬†soon, honest!). Plus, since George no longer blogs (unless I’m missing something…) it’s a delight to hear from him; as I’ve mentioned before, I used to absolutely love his old blog and the blogosphere (I hate that term, by the way) is a poorer place without him contributing to it, so I’m proud that he reads this and wants to chip in. I kinda feel like his surrogate blogger…!

Anyway, this is starting to sound like I’ve had¬† few too many drinks and am about to verge into slurry “You’re my best mate, you are” territory, so I’ll delay no further.

Here’s George’s suggestion:

“Lynyrd Skynyrd were named after a PE teacher; track 2 on Elton John‚Äôs album Don‚Äôt Shoot Me I‚Äôm only The Piano Player (an album I have, by the way) is ‚ÄúTeacher I Need You‚ÄĚ.”

Not a song I was familiar with, as it goes, but that shouldn’t stop me, in fact one of the things I’m enjoying about this thread – and, for that matter, the actual Chain feature on Radcliffe & Maconie’s show – is that it introduces me to “new” stuff ( can I legitimately refer to a song released in 1973 as “new”, I wonder? Yes, if it’s new to me, I unwonder.), so here it is:

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Elton John – Teacher, I Need You

S’alright, that, innit? I mean, it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”, and then I’d have had all sorts of editorial issues to address…

Anyway, cheers for that George, keep those suggestions coming.

(Yes, checked. Nothing litigious or injunction breaking there. Continue – Legal Ed.)

The other suggestion was from the aforementioned Dave/The Great Gog who wrote:

“My suggestion would be linking the Len from the group name to a Len in a song title and an excuse to listen to The Auteurs‚Äô ‚ÄúLenny Valentino‚ÄĚ.”

Oh Dave, what a great choice.

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The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino

I have two recommendations on the back of that:

  1. If you haven’t already, then go read Auteurs main man Luke Haines’¬†brilliant book “Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall”. Essential reading. Buy it here. (Actually, if you can buy it anywhere other than Amazon, like from someone who pays their taxes, please do.)
  2. Follow him on Twitter to see what an entertainingly cantankerous old sod he is: @LukeHaines_News

It occurred to me that other than tracking down and posting the suggested songs, I haven’t really contributed much to this thread myself so far, and that’s not what you all pay your money for (You have all paid your Dubious Taste Subscription Fees, right…?)

So during the week¬†I thought of a couple of songs which could link to the Lynyrd Skynyrd one, and funnily enough, they’re along the same lines as both George and Dave’s suggestions.

First, going with¬†Dave’s “Len” suggestion, here’s one hit wonders and butter tart (whatever they are)¬†enthusiasts Len:

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Len – Steal My Sunshine

Dunno what it is about that tune, but it always raises a smile on these old grizzle-chops.

The other suggestion I had was by a band that long-term readers will remember I enthused about some time ago as the act that guided me away from listening to Shakin’ Stevens when I was a nipper.

As you will probably know, former great record writer, terrible actor, commendable environmentalist and all-round pretentious prick Sting (your name’s Gordon, Sting, admit it!) used to be a teacher, amongst other things: less famously, he was also a bus conductor, a building labourer,¬† a tantric lover (not a fighter)¬†and a tax officer, which gives us another well founded reason to hate him.

He also wrote this, one of the greatest break-up records ever:

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¬†The Police – Can’t Stand Losing You

Which leads me, finally, to the next record in the official Chain:

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5. Ash – Girl from Mars

So, ladies and gentleman, your suggestions via the Comments function (at the bottom of the page) please for a) the reason the official Chain went from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” to Ash’s “Girl From Mars”, and b) any record you’d like me to post which you can link to “Girl From Mars” by Ash, along with the explanation of the connection.

Same time next week?

S’not as catchy as “More soon” that, is it?

More soon.

The Return of Friday Night Music Club

It’s Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK, which can mean only one thing: being stuck in the house, watching television, whilst the rain buckets down outside until it’s time to go back to work again on Tuesday.

Which leads me onto the theme for this week, and for the next couple of weeks: 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.

Catchy, eh?

With a sub-title that long, you can’t really be all that surprised to learn that this one is going to take more than one week to get through….

And where better to start than here:

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232. The Rezillos – Top Of The Pops

Released in 1978, and peaking in the UK chart at 17, this new wave classic earned the group an appearance on the very show that the lyrics so roundly criticise. There’s an interesting bit of pop history about the line up too: each band member had a stage name and one, Jo Calles (a.k.a. Luke Warm), after the group split up in late 1978, went on to form Shake with, amongst others, Troy Tate, a name many of you will recognise partly from him later appearing in Julian Cope’s band Teardrop Explodes, and many more will recognise as the producer of the original cut of The Smiths’ debut album, which was ditched in favour of the mix provided by John Porter. After Shake split, Callis went on to join Human League, just in time to co-write their classic “Don’t You Want Me”. There you go, don’t say you never learn anything around here.

And just to prove that The Rezillos “Top of the Pops” was neither the actual theme nor a cover of the theme to the show in question (see, I’ve already heavily edited this subtitle), get your laughing gear around this little montage:

Moving on, here’s one of my favourite singles from the mid-90s “Britpop” era:

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233. Ash – Kung Fu

The title is lifted not just from the erroneously used term for Chinese martial arts (the original meaning is any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete – see, entertaining and informative, me), but also the American TV series which ran from 1972 – 1975, and starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk called Kwai Chang Caine. The part was originally intended for some chap called Bruce Lee, only for the TV studios to duck out of casting an Asian and cast non-Asian Carradine instead. The 70s, eh? Gotta love ’em.

Having spent much of his subsequent life appearing in frankly duff straight to video B-movies such as Deathrace 2000, Safari 3000, and Night Rhythms, Carradine’s career was going through something of a renaissance following his appearance in Tarantino’s 2004 “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2”, At least it was, until 2009 when he died suddenly in a hotel room in Thailand, apparently killed by the same thing as allegedly killed Michael Hutchence: the old “erotic asphyxiation” routine, which I shall not be demonstrating for you any time soon.

Here’s the title credits, featuring not just David Carradine, but Keith too:

But there’s another popular culture moment involved with the Ash single: the sleeve, which captures that moment back in 1995 when Manchester United’s Eric Cantona, having just been sent off during a match against Crystal Palace, got ever so slightly upset by some comments from the crowd:

This, inevitably, led to a lengthy ban from the game for Cantona, and to this very brief press conference statement which I often see people describe as being confusing:

Now, I do not claim to be a man blessed with profound intellect, but that’s not really that hard to understand, is it?

Anyway, on May 21st 2016, Manchester United and Crystal Palace will meet each other in this year’s FA Cup Final, and there’s the teensiest part of me that hopes one of the participants decides to re-enact the Cantona moment. My money’s on Palace boss Alan Pardew, whose got a bit of form in the losing his rag stakes. Him, or United’s Marouane Fellaini, who I’m sure you could wind up pretty easily if you asked him when the new series of Saved By the Bell is going to start enough times.

But I digress. Some more Britpop tuneage next:

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234. Sleeper – Sale of the Century

Sleeper will feature many more times on these here pages, so we’ll jump straight to the TV show from whence the title is ripped:

I bet there’s quite a few people my age and older who went a tad misty-eyed at the sight of Anglia Television’s silver knight at the start of the clip.

But, oh! Times have certainly changed in the world of TV game shows, haven’t they?

That’s broadcasting stalwart Nicholas Parsons doing the hosting duties; he can still be heard hosting Radio 4’s wonderful parlour game/panel show “Just A Minute”, and, at the age of 92 as I write this, he seems to be in possession of just as many of his faculties now as he was back then. Take that in whatever way you wish.

But Sale of the Century has a dark secret. For it was here that the Dark Overlord himself made his first TV appearance:

So, y’know, cheers for that Anglia Television.

In 1975, David Bowie released “Young Americans”; you don’t need me to tell you what an incredible album that is, or to tell you that this was one of the singles lifted from it:

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235. David Bowie – Fame

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat by me, since the Bowie single pre-dates the 1980 Alan Parker directed movie of the same name by five years:

…and the 1982 TV series by the same name by seven years:

…but any excuse to post a bit of Bowie, eh?

It also gives me the excuse to link to this 24 carat cheese nugget:

Bruno was no singer, was he?

In 1969, the BBC launched a show about holiday destinations, called “Holiday ’69”. (Stop it…..!!). The show ran until 2007, but in the 1990s, they dropped the year from the title, making it just plain old “Holiday”. Which is lucky, as surprisingly Madonna never recorded a song called “Holiday ’69” (she left that kind of grubbiness to Bryan Adams):

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236. Madonna – Holiday

Back when I was at college, there was a quiz held in the Students’ Union every other Tuesday which a couple of mates and I used to regularly enter (and which I ended up hosting). The Students Union had invested in a karaoke machine – quite the new-fangled gadget at the arse-end of the 1980s – but were struggling to come up with occasions on which it could be used. So, at the end of each round of the quiz, it was decided that one member from the team with – now, I want to say the highest, but in reality, it was probably the lowest – score was invited up on stage to perform a song of the host’s choice.

My fellow team-mates were considerably less stage-shy than I, so on the two occasions that one of us had to go on stage, it was me that bowed to public pressure. The relevance of this is that on one of these occasions, it was Madonna’s “Holiday” that I was obliged to perform (on the other occasion, it was The Police’s “Walking On The Moon”, just in case you’re interested). I delivered both in a dead-pan, spoken style, a la Ted Chippington.

“Who’s Ted Chippington?” I hear you ask.

This is Ted Chippington:

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Ted Chippington – The Wanderer

“Oh THAT Ted Chippington”, I hear you reply, looking none-the-wiser.

Don’t worry yourself about him now, he’ll crop up again on these pages in a lot more depth at some point or another.

So, with the BBC having a show about potential holiday destinations – which, if memory serves me right from my younger days, seemed to feature a pleasing amount of footage of continental topless beaches – ITV decided to get in on the act with a rival show, called “Wish You Were Here?”. We know a song about that too, don’t we?

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237. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Ok time to wrap things up for this week, and here’s the finest example of a song having the same name as a TV show, but this is another cheat by me as it is clearly named after and references the show in question. But it gives me a chance to play some Divine Comedy, and a lesser known track by them too:

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238. The Divine Comedy – Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World

And just so you know that neither me nor The Divine Comedy main-man Neil Hannon are losing our marbles:

That’ll do you for this week.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

For the past seven days, I have been picking out songs for this week’s Friday Night shenanigans, popping them into an order that felt right, and trying to think of something vaguely amusing to say about them.

But then on Thursday, I got some news which made me change this week’s theme entirely.

So, here are this¬†week’s tunes; the tunes I intended to post this week would be next week, but I have next week’s planned already, so the original ones from this week won’t feature next week, but the week after that,¬†unless anything happens in the next couple of weeks that makes this week’s get postponed for another week.

Everybody clear about that?

Ok, so this week’s theme is…well, let’s see if you can work it out.¬†And please don’t write in, it’s just for fun. Nor is it¬†particularly tricky.

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177. Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride

In case you were wondering, this is not the version used on the “Reservoir Dogs” soundtrack;¬†that’s a cover version¬†recorded by¬†Nashville ¬†group “Bedlam” who certainly sound scary, don’t they readers? I bet they have a “You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here, But It Helps!” sign on their studio wall.

By the way, have you ever noticed Рand I do not claim to be the first person to have ever pointed this out Рthat the traditional depiction of a magic carpet, is not a carpet, but a rug?

Look:

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That’s a rug, that is. It’s got tassles on the corners!

Mind you, apart from the historical precedent that had been set,  I can see why Disney continued to refer to it as a carpet in their 1992 film Aladdin: too many references to rugs might have put Elton John off writing the songs for The Lion King.

Now who are these shifty looking chaps peeking out from¬†behind some trees? It’s only blimming 60s rock pioneers and runners-up in the 1968 “World’s Worst Hide¬†‘n’ Seekers”¬†Creedence Clearwater Revival, that’s who:

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178. Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Put a Spell on You

Have you got it yet? Okay, well let’s have another tune then. You’ll like this one. Not a lot, but you’ll like it. Here’s another load of hunks:

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179. Focus – Hocus Pocus

Yes, that was some proper yodelling you just heard there.

When I used to go clubbing, a mate of mine was into his progressive house music big time. At some point or another he heard the term “progressive rock” and was curious, so he asked me if I knew any bands he should check out. I mentioned “Yes” and “E.L.P.” which drew a blank look. Well, Dum Dum, if you’re reading this, that was prog 1970s style. I do hope you didn’t waste any money.

Moving on to 1982 now, and a song which I seem to remember used to get this 12 year old boy a little bit hot and bothered when the video came on Top of The Pops:

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180. The Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra

Looking at it now, I have no idea why:

I think it’s the line about “silk and satin, leather and lace, black panties with an angel’s face” that made me blush so. And if you think that’s rather lame, you should have seen the state I was in a year earlier when this was a hit:

Girls did not look like that in my class, that’s for sure. I might have turned up a bit more often if they had.

Anyway, I digress. The more astute of you will have noticed a magical theme through the songs so far, and that’s because here in the UK, 2016 claimed another celebrity from my childhood with the death of TV magician Paul Daniels.

When I was a kid in the late 1970s and early 1980s Daniels was everywhere: he had his own magic show on BBC1; hosted several game shows, and even had a children’s show called “Wizbit”.

It struck me recently, in a particularly dark moment, that one of the reasons so many popular entertainers from my youth have died recently is because I’m no spring chicken anymore either, and since they were generally about 30 years older than me back then…well, it’s hardly surprising. Yeh, I know, bleak, right?

Anyway, in his later, post-regular-TV-appearance years, Daniels became a bit of a figure of fun, a relic of those light entertainment shows from the period which had been banished from the TV listings by alternative comedy, by satellite and cable, by the mass media’s¬†lustful craving for something a little saucier than he and the lovely Debbie Magee could ever produce. I always found that a little sad and distasteful, especially as he always seemed to take it all on the chin, and even play up to it to a degree. He’d made his fortune and got out¬†while the going was good, what did he care?

But I come here not to bury him but to praise him.¬†He always seemed a good egg to me (although it was pretty funny when he was hospitalised after Sooty hit him in the face with a pizza. True story. Shouldn’t laugh but…could an anecdote be any more 70s children’s entertainment?)¬†and he was a genuine influence on my life, albeit briefly; I tried to take up magic in my youth, buying a pack of Paul Daniels Playing Cards and a book of card tricks, which I think I gave up on after a couple of weeks of realising I couldn’t even shuffle the bloody things properly.

So when the news of his death broke on Thursday, I was genuinely saddened and decided to dedicate tonight’s Music Club to him, and dig out a few tunes with a somewhat¬†magical quality.

And here we are. Shall we continue?

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181. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic

Surely, somewhere, there must be a 60s-themed¬†bistro called “The Lovin’ Spoonful”, right?

I’m absolutely gutted that I posted Super Furry Animals “God Show Me Magic” on here a couple of weeks ago, or that would be in this list. As it is, here’s a couple that I can’t really avoid posting:

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182. Queen – A Kind Of Magic

From one of their most commercially successful albums, which, coincidentally, was released the year after their iconic performance at Live Aid (I’m sure those two facts are in no way linked) this to my mind marked the end of Queen’s final purple patch. The next album, although yielding a Number One single in “Innuendo”, also saw them writing songs about being an Invisible Man (something it’s very hard to imagine Freddie Mercury ever being – and yes I know Roger Taylor penned that one, no need to tell me) and twatting about on top of steam trains at the Nene Valley Railway (near my childhood home) in the “Breakthru” video. Mind you, they probably had more pressing matters on their minds at the time…

Ok, here’s another one I can’t really avoid:

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183. Take That – Could It Be Magic

Count yourself lucky I didn’t post the Barry Manilow version.

Time for a factoid: did you know Manilow nicked the chord progression for this from Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20? Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Maybe he didn’t write the songs that make the whole world sing after all.

One more blindingly obvious one:

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184. Pilot – Magic

What finer recommendation do you need for a song than that it was included on the soundtrack of “Happy Gilmore”? So I’m told, anyway. I wouldn’t know. Never seen it. Might be a very funny film, though I somewhat doubt it.

“Happy Gilmore” stars Adam Sandler, so I will never watch it. My default setting when it comes to Sandler is “Avoid”.

Though I have seen “The Wedding Singer”, but that had Billy Idol in it, which just about saved it.

Something a tad more contemporary now. From¬†their third album “Bruiser”, and the main track¬† on their 2010 “Kusama EP”, the much under-rated:

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185. The Duke Spirit – Everybody’s Under Your Spell

That’s pretty bloody great, isn’t it? The greatest thing to come out of Cheltenham, easily surpassing “The Races” and¬†the recent lower league footballers pissing into a pint glass and pouring it over a balcony controversy. Worst apology ever, by the way.

The Duke Spirit’s fourth album “Kin” is out in April, and I cannot wait. But I’ll have to. Stay with me til then, won’t you?

In 2007, frustrated by their record label’s decision to basically ignore their “Twilight of the Innocents” album, Ash started describing it as their “final album” and made it known that henceforth¬†they would be eschewing the album format. This sparked many a rumour that the band was about to split; instead they began releasing a series of singles, a new one every fortnight between October 2009 until¬†September 2010 on 7″ vinyl and¬†digital download only. That’s 26 singles in total (take that, The Wedding Present, with your feeble 12 singles in one year!), one for each letter of the alphabet, hence the whole lot being released on two…erm…albums, pithily¬†called “A- Z Series Volumes 1 & 2”.

This was the first, and watch out, it has one fuck of a bassline:

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186. Ash – Return of White Rabbit

Scooting along now:

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187. The Magic Numbers – Forever Lost

I was hoping to track down a clip of when they walked off Top of the Pops after host Richard Bacon introduced them as a band that had been¬†put in a “fat melting pot of talent”, but apparently it was in the rehearsals so there is no footage. Ho hum.¬†¬†Bacon is said to have tried to apologise and claimed he was¬†referring to their status, not their appearance. Course you were, Richard. Course you were. And you only did the one line of coke too, right?

Next, a band who’ve never really made it big over here in the UK, which is a shame, for they made some really great power pop records in their time. This is from their 1977 album “In Color” (that’s not a typo, they’re American, that’s how they spell “colour”):

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188. Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me

As usual, I seem to have gone on a bit longer than I intended again, so just two more to go.

I was going to post Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s “Magician’s Assistant” but then I listened to it and remembered just how depressing it is, being about self-harm and suicide and all, so I decided against it. But the mere allusion (or should that be “illusion”? Ha, see what I did there?)¬†to the lovely Debbie McGee allows me to post this classic TV moment:

And yes, that’s Peter Hook playing the walk-on music.

Hands up who want to hear Kelis? Very well. This is from her third album “Tasty”, the follow-up¬†single to 2003’s “Milkshake”, when she was in full-on saucepot mode:

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189. Kelis – Trick Me

And if my recollection is correct, then chapeau to legendary pork-swordsman Jamie Theakston…

Finally, we go out where we came in:

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190. Mighty Dub Katz – Magic Carpet Ride

…who as I’m sure you know is actually Norman Cook in one of his many chart-busting guises.

And that’s yer lot, as they say.

Next Friday night I’ll be watching Underworld at The Roundhouse; it’ll be the first time I’ve ever managed to see them (quite how I’ve avoided them all these years is beyond me), so next week expect to see me trying to pretend I know something about dance music, other than¬†tunes which I got out of my tree to back¬†in my clubbing days.

Or to put it another way: More soon.

It’s Chriiiistmas!!!

So I took last night off. Can’t have you getting used to me posting every day, now can we?

Anyway, last night was my night to get all my Christmas wrapping done. Another job ticked off the list.

Now, where were we?

Oh yes, we finished off the last little instalment with Run DMC.

Which means there’s only one place for us to start today’s batch of Christmas tunes:

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The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

Obligatory tenuous link/terrible joke out of the way, I thought the rest of the posts today could be cover versions of Christmas songs.

Now I’m not saying these are better than the originals, just…well, y’know…they’re not the originals.

First up, one that I can guarantee is 100% Linda-free:

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The Shins – Wonderful Christmastime

Now, what would Christmas be, without the omniprescent turkey necked arm-waving God botherer that is Sir Cliff? Well, stick around and you’ll find out. Here’s a cover of one of his festive hits, which as far as I can make out has never been commercially released (hence the absence of a sleeve):

Idlewild – Mistletoe & Wine

Next up, masters of the slightly odd yet distinctive cover version, I give you (guaranteed Yoko-less, thankfully):

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The Polyphonic Spree- Happy Xmas (War is Over)

I was reading the other day about Andy Park, self-styled “Mr Christmas” who claims to celebrate Christmas every day. Between 1993 and 2001 (when he was told by his doctor to stop being such a bloody arse) he claims to have eaten a turkey sandwich and mice pies for breakfast every day (hang on – if he’s eating turkey sandwiches, then surely he should be calling himself Mr Boxing Day?), then goes to work (in a grotto, presumably), returning to eat a full roast turkey dinner, then watching a recording of the Queen’s speech whilst imbibing a glass of sherry. In 2006, Park claimed that he had eaten: 4,380 turkeys, 87,600 mince pies, 2,190 pints of gravy, 26,280 roast potatoes, 30,660 stuffing balls, 4,380 bottles of champagne, 4,380 bottles of sherry and 5,000 bottles of wine.

He had also sent himself 235,500 Christmas cards. Yes, sent himself.

I think it’s fair to say that Andy Park needs to get out more. Except he probably can’t, the ginormous gutted gluttonous twat.

Anyway, many of his claims just so happened to be made at round about the same time as he just so happened to be releasing a single called “It’s Christmas Every Day”, so most of what I have just written is probably just self-promoting guff. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the video featured Cliff-wannabe and former Radio 1 DJ (no, not that one. Or that one) and purveyor of jaw-droppingly dreadful “UKIP Calypso”, Mike Read.

Anyway, Mr So-Called-Christmas, it isn’t Christmas Every Day, because if it was then Ash wouldn’t have been able to do this:

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Ash – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Oh go on then, I’ll let you have a gander at the original of that one:

I wonder if there is a direct correlation between the increase in the number of songs which feature children, or children’s choirs, appearing on Top of the Pops, and the decline in religious belief and faith. I ask simply because if you were an 8 year-old trapped in a television studio with Jimmy Savile, I think you’d fairly quickly come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist.

Anyway, I digress.

Something a little more traditional next. Here’s Weezer, giving a Christmas carol the Weezer treatment, by which I mean making it sound like Weezer:

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Weezer – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Just needs the occasional “woo-hoo” to make it sound almost identical to their ace “Buddy Holly” single. And I suppose since there’s mention of Holly there gives me a good enough excuse to play the not in the least bit Christmassy video:

Next, two versions of the same song. First up, a group who will forever be known as Jimmy Eats Cock round my way, and I think there are possibly only two people who read this blog occasionally who will remember why. Happy Christmas to both of you.

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Jimmy Eat World – Last Christmas

Next, well it’s credited as being by the group that he has fronted for the what will be thirty years come 2016, appearing as it does on their B-sides and Rareties compilation “Lipstick Traces”. But if my memory serves me correctly, it was actually recorded during a performance in the studio bar on “TFI Friday” (don’t get me started….) by a solo James Dean Bradfield:

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Manic Street Preachers – Last Christmas (live)

Regular readers will know that I spent a good few years living in Wales, and that last one has me pining for the valleys. So I’ll wrap things up with something undisputedly Welsh and Christmassy:

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The Massed Male Choirs of Treorchy, Morriston Orpheus & Pontarddulais With The Band Of The Welsh Guards – Deck the Halls

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For…. (Part 3)

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Mention Glastonbury to anyone who’s never been, and they will say one or both of the following two things:

1) they will make some reference to you, and everyone else who has ever been to Glastonbury, being a drug taking hippy,

2) they will say something about how crappy the weather always is.

Neither of these things are, of course, entirely true.

You may have noticed that in my last two posts, whilst I haven’t exactly banished the spectre of Glastonbury as¬†a haven for spliff-puffing,¬†pill popping¬†longhairs (it isn’t, though there is a fair bit of hippyness going on)¬†I have tried to shy away from mentioning the weather, partly because it’s so damned predictably English to talk about the weather, but mostly because on the whole it wasn’t too bad in 2003 and 2004.

In fact, I came away from Glastonbury 2004 with quite the tan, mostly because I’d lost my cap on pretty much the first day, and hadn’t bothered applying any sun cream for the rest of the weekend.¬†On my first day back in work afterwards, I was met with a couple of “Fucking hell, where did you go on holiday?”s, although this was probably because my bald bonce had burned so badly I was quite literally able to peel a whole layer of skin off in one go, leaving me with what appeared to be a swimming cap made of my own skin, like some macabre tribute to Duncan Goodhew made by Hannibal Lecter.

So that was the look I was rocking post Glasto 2004:¬†draw a line through the middle of my forehead and I was bright sore¬†pink above it and¬†tanned brown below.¬†I must have looked like I was going to a fancy dress party, had taken it waaaaay too seriously, and was going as a¬†Big Dog’s Cock.

But I digress. There’s really no getting away from it, the weather at Glastonbury 2005 was terrible. We (a considerably smaller posse this time, but I really have lost track of who was there this year) arrived on the Wednesday of our hat-trick year, pitched up and wandered round, and the weather was gorgeous, no sign at all of the quite literal storms to come. This continued through Thursday, and by Thursday evening we were all beginning to believe that we were about to experience that most rare of things: a sunny Glastonbury festival.

No such luck. On Thursday night/Friday morning, the rain came down. And down. And down. Camp sites were flooded, tents and their belongings swept away. Proceedings at the Pyramid were delayed starting due to flooding, with the first two acts, Adj√°gas, and The Subways having to bow to the storm and the threat of electrocution.

When I was researching (alright, trying to jog my memory) about the 2005 festival, I came across this on YouTube, footage taken by a festival goer showing before, during and after the storm. It kinda has the feeling of one of those camcorder horror films¬†like Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that were all the rage a few years ago; for the 1:40 seconds at the start you just know something terrible is going to happen and then…boom!

Still, at least there wasn’t a repeat of the Infamous 1998 Flooded Dance Tent Incident….You couldn’t make that…er…shit up.

But something happens when the Glastonbury Festival is hit by extreme weather. All the festival goers seem to come together in defiance, determined to have a good time no matter what the skies may throw at them, and assuming that your tents survived the deluge that’s about all you can do: chuck a waterproof on, decide “Aww, fuck it”, neck some scrumpy, and soldier on. That’s British Bulldog Blitz Bravado, right there.

Anyway, tracking down footage of some of the acts playing in 2005 proved rather difficult, presumably because most of the TV companies covering the event decided to follow the example of the Pyramid on Friday morning and elected not to risk electrocution by filming much bar the headliners.

As a result, I have nothing to offer you in respect of Editors on The Other Stage on the Friday morning, after which we trudged over to the newly named John Peel Stage to catch Maximo Park. We didn’t manage to see them, but we did manage to stand outside the rammed tent and hear them, a bit. You can get a better idea of how they were here.

Next it was over to The Pyramid to see the legend that is Elvis Costello. Sometime in the late 1980s I’d picked up a copy of his “The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)” album. This was back in the days when people released a “Best Of..” album when they had established themselves, and had a wide body of work to choose from and show off about, rather than after two or three albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in to sucker you into buying it. I’m with Dave Gorman on this one. (Hopefully, that link should take you to a rather brilliant analysis of the content of Scouting For Girls’ Greatest Hits album. Scroll up to the start of the chapter if it works. If it doesn’t, then buy the book from which it’s lifted “Too Much Information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think” here)

It would seem that the British Bulldog Blitz Bravado spirit hadn’t quite kicked in yet; much as I loved his set, Elvis went on record saying it was “fucking dreadful”¬†and pledged never to play in the UK again¬†(a threat he has, thankfully, reneged on since, returning to the festival in 2013, sporting, it has to be said, a rather natty hat)

Here’s him doing sticky Valentine¬†unrequited love classic Alison, and segueing into something by some other chap also called Elvis. Not sure what happened to him.

Next up, Doves. Not much to say here, other than I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Their slightly brooding but captivating sound certainly seemed to sum up how everyone was feeling as the weather resolutely refused to improve.

Next, The Killers. Promoting their first album, the aptly titled Hot Fuss, they were much anticipated by all that had not yet seen them. I, and most of our gang, being super-cool indie kids,¬†had already seen them, headlining¬†the NME Awards Tour earlier that year, with support from (and get this): Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and Kaiser Chiefs. Now THAT’S a line-up.

We’d decided they were okay enough to warrant us sticking¬†around and to watch them again, though this decision had more to do with the mud underfoot and the fact that The White Stripes were on next as headliners than any particular desire to watch The Killers again. That said, they put on a pretty good show, opening with my personal favourite by them, Somebody Told Me, followed by Jenny Was A Friend of Mine¬†(a song which, to this day, my friends and I are unable to say the title of without doing it in that ridiculous yelp Brandon Flowers does when introducing it here), before rounding off things with the song that has perhaps the most cringe-worthy rhyming couplet ever in it All These Things That I Have Done¬†The reaction of people to this song baffles me to this day, all eyes closed, hands and lighters in the air like it actually means something. I’m with Bill Bailey on this one.

Much like Adam Buxton in Commentary Corner, I can’t resist looking at the comments left under a clip on YouTube, and some of the screaming outrage on show under the clip of Mr Bailey, left¬†by Killers fans, is the internet version of those earnestly singing along to utter claptrap. Like Daniel Pacheco, for example, who says “The phrase in context of the song makes perfect sense. Hell even taken out of context it makes perfect sense. Bill Bailey is obviously retarded”. Well, no, Daniel, it does not, and I note that you haven’t actually gone as far as to explain why you think it makes sense. I would challenge him to expand on his theory via the YouTube comments, but I won’t, partly because I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing, but mostly because I’m not a masturbating fourteen year old. Sighs…I wish….

Anyway, The White Stripes are next, and they do their thing, which is Jack tossing off some awesome riffs whilst Meg just twats the fuck out of her drums, the two seemingly bearing no relation to each other, yet somehow working brilliantly at the same time. We get every White Stripes song you could wish for: Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, My Doorbell, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and, of course, Seven Nation Army¬†to name but a few that anyone has actually heard of.

So ended Friday, and off to our tents we all trudged (eventually), hoping Saturday would be a little drier.

It was, but not much. No more floods, thankfully, but still not exactly flip-flop weather.

My day was spent flitting between The Other Stage and The Pyramid. Apparently Goldie Lookin’ Chain played The Pyramid on Saturday morning, and a tiny part of me wonders if this is where my confusion with them playing in 2004 comes from, but a larger part of me remains fairly sure the line up was as I remember. Anyway, I couldn’t find any footage of them in 2005, so I guess I’ll never know.

Next up: Kaiser Chiefs. As already mentioned, we’d caught them on the NME Tour earlier that year, and until that night I’d been totally non-plussed by everything I’d heard from them. But that night they completely blew me away: they were first on the bill, started their set off with a blistering rendition of¬† “Na Na Na Na Na”, took no prisoners after that, and to my mind utterly upstaged all the acts that came after them.

Their set at Glastonbury followed pretty much the same pattern, and whilst The Pyramid Stage is a¬†rather different proposition to Cardiff University’s Great Hall, they still were pretty darn good. Here’s two out¬†of the three of their early singles that have the trademark¬†“Whooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh” in them: Oh My God and, of course, I Predict a Riot.

Next on The Pyramid, Ash. It’s incredible to think that they were still in their late-twenties by 2005; they seemed to have been around for ever, churning out indie classic after indie classic for ten years or so. They don’t need any more introduction, so here’s A Life Less Ordinary and Burn Baby Burn.

Back over to The Other Stage now for the obligatory Echo & The Bunnymen set, The Killing Moon being an obvious high-light, closely followed by Interpol.

Interpol are one of those bands that seemed to have made¬†one awesome album (Antics, for the record) and several kind of okay ones. Luckily, they were promoting said album in 2005, so we got Slow Hands and Evil (I’ve never seen them since, but I imagine they’re staples of every set).

Who’s on next? Wait…is that….Fuck, run!! Head for the hills!! It’s Kasabian!!!

Luckily, over at The Pyramid there was New Order, back in the days when they were still speaking to each other, kind of, occasionally, if they had to. This was a proper tear through their back catalogue, plus a couple from their slightly iffy new album, so we got some Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, of course), some classic New Order (Temptation) and Keith Bloody Allen, coming onstage riding a pantomime horse,¬†comic genius that¬†he is,¬†so he could¬†“join in” on World In Motion.

Choice of Saturday night headliners had been a bit of a quandary for me this year. 90% of our group elected to watch Razorlight on The Other Stage; promoting their one half decent album (Up All Night) they were probably the wise choice. However, one of the group really wanted to go to The Pyramid and watch…Coldplay. Somewhat bashful after how rude I was to the girl the previous year who wanted to watch Muse rather¬†than Orbital, I think I decided I needed to do something to¬†sort my karma out (now there’s some hippy bullshit, right there).

So, I volunteered – yes, volunteered!! – to go watch Coldplay with my buddy. Now that’s friendship.

They couldn’t be that bad, now could they? I reasoned.

Oh, but yes they could.

I can honestly say that I have never been so deathly bored at a gig in all my life. The one highlight, if you can call it that, was their cover of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, played as attribute to Kylie, who had to pull out of doing the headline slot on Sunday due to fairly well-publicised health problems.

Needless to say, they turn one of the finest pop records of the 21st century into a dull dirge. Oh and Chris, don’t give up the day job for comedy.

People, if you buy Coldplay records, CDs or MP3s, or go to their gigs, or buy their¬†T-shirts, then please stop. You’re just encouraging the morose posho dullards.

Sunday arrived, and the weather didn’t seem to be showing any sign of improvement. And then Brian Wilson played The Pyramid, and suddenly everything was alright with the world, for,¬†just like¬†during Belle & Sebastian’s set the year before, the sun suddenly came out to play, only this time we had Surfin’ USA, California Girls and a whole host of other Beach Boy-tastic tunes rather than wry Scottish indie pop songs about someone called Judy dreaming about horses to celebrate to. I have deliberately not posted a link to film footage of the set, partly because I again¬†struggled to find much of decent quality, but mostly because if I had, you would have to watch Brian looking…well, let’s just say he didn’t really seem to be fully aware of where he was, what was going on, and what he was doing, for the majority of the set. But no matter, Glastonbury loved him for bringing the California sun with him.

Next up: Garbage. I don’t mind a bit of Garbage, and actually met lead singer Shirley Manson many years ago when she was backing singer in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (CLANG! – the sound of a name drop there). Actually, she won’t remember it (nor should she) and I certainly don’t. I’ll explain this some other time. Needless to say, there is no gossip for you to get your teeth into.

Garbage were here in support of their fourth album, “Bleed Like Me”; an album that I would struggle and fail to name a single song from, much the same as with their third album, whatever that was called. Thankfully, they knew what to do in a festival atmosphere, so we got the decent singles from their first two (good) albums: Stupid Girl, Push It, and the apt-if-only-you’d-been-on-stage-a-couple-of-hours-earlier Only Happen When It Rains

Next: Primal Scream. I love a bit of Gillespie, Innes and Co., and now the sun was out, and about to go down again, I, along with probably about 85% of the rest of the crowd wanted a set of sunny-Screamedlica songs to compliment our new found joy and dryness. The signs were good when the into music was the chorus of the single version of “Come Together”, but The Scream don’t really “do” what you expect, so instead of summery dance records, we got their Kraut-rock set, which was fine, they were still fantastic, just not what most of wanted, I think.¬†They started by launching¬†into a blistering version of Accelerator¬†before ending up with Movin’ On Up¬†via Swastika Eyes¬†.

I say “ending up”, but anyone who was there, or watched it on television, will know that their set didn’t end after Movin’ On Up. Well not straight afterwards. Bobby was clearly not impressed that Basement Jaxx were now headlining the Sunday night in place of Kylie, and decided that he wanted to a) berate the crowd, and b)¬†play another song. Some of his taunts are just priceless (“Do you wanna dance? Yeh?? Well you should’ve been here fifteen fucking years ago”). This, I have decided, was definitely¬†aimed at me and the rest of the Screamadelica crowd. He had a point.

So, on to Basement Jaxx. You’ll recall that many of my fellow festivalees had chosen them over Paul McCartney¬†the previous¬†year, and whilst I have no regrets about seeing the former mop-top, I have to admit the Jaxx were incredible, giving Glastonbury the dance Bobby refused to and Kylie would have done.

Again, for some reason, footage seems to be in short supply; here’s U Don’t Know Me¬†from Glastonbury, and Oh My Gosh, which isn’t, despite it being the first time I ever heard it, and it became possibly my favourite song by Basement Jaxx.

Oh My Gosh was a new track on Basement Jaxx’s “The Singles” album. Which I bought. What does that say about me, Mr Gorman?