Tonight’s mix is not the one I had planned to post.
The one I had prepared was a little too upbeat for such a momentous weekend; whilst I personally won’t be joining in the nation’s mouring, I didn’t want to disrespect those that are.
And so I decided to create a mix “on the fly”; I decided what the first and last track would be, and then started recording as I journeyed from one to the other.
I tell you this instead of offering sleeve notes, as there will doubtless be those who think some of my selections are….disrespectful. That wasn’t the intention. The intention was simply to pick tunes which sounded good next to each other – any which may seem to have been chosen as some sort of comment on any recent high profile passings are entirely coincidental.
So let’s crack on, shall we?
(By the way, because this mix is just shy of 2 hours, Google Drive can’t cope and won’t let me upload it, so the link below takes you to my old Soundcloud account. Hope it works ok!)
It’s only Friday again, and, even though it’s not actually a Bank Holiday weekend, there’s plenty to celebrate, with the Tories taking an absolute shoeing at yesterday’s local election results, losing hundreds of seats across the country.
Sure, these were local elections rather than a General one, so many of these can probably be seen as ‘protest votes’, a fact that did not escape the attention of Conservative candidates in some regions, who resorted to having their party name listed as “Local Conservatives” on the ballot paper, in an effort to distance themselves from the bunch of crooks, wasters and philanderers currently in Government…
…but there’s been so little to be happy rather than angry about for a good while now, tonight’s mix – entirely non-political, in case you were concerned – lands at just the right time.
For tonight sees the posting of the second and final part of the previously-available-as-one-long-mix which I only made available via Soundcloud (an experiment I soon got bored of), and it’s a beauty. There have been some tweaks in the running order since it’s last incarnation, as well as some changes in the songs included, but it gives y’all the chance to shake your booty to some top-notch pop records.
If I may pinch a title from Drew at the much missed Across the Kitchen Table blog: “It’s Friday….Let’s Dance”! (And if dancing on a Friday night is good enough for Drew and The Dude, then it’s good enough for you too):
Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (and there are a few, sorry!); any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine (and this last bit is especially relevant, for when I say “some top-notch pop records” I mean there’s some cheesy-but-great 70s and 80s stuff in this one…I stand by their inclusion, 100%. You trust me by now, right? Right…..???)
Regular visitors to my Friday night slot (stop it….!) will probably have noticed a few things that I like to do with the mixes I put together and post here (I’m talking the self-contained, meant-to-be-listened-to-as-a-whole mixes, not one of the ones I’ve recently split down into hour-long mixes).
Firstly, I like the first tune to be a definite opener; not necessarily one which sets the tone and style for the rest of the mix, but one which can easily be recognised as a curtain-raiser. See Tonight You Belong To Me by Patience and Prudence from Vol 1; I Dig Rock’n’Roll Music by Peter, Paul & Mary from Vol 2; Rudy, A Message To You by The Specials from Vol 3; Serious Drugs by BMX Bandits from Vol 4; R.E.M.’s Daysleeper from Vol 5…you get the idea.
Secondly, I love placing songs next to each other which shouldn’t really be there, songs which you would never have thought to play alongside each other but which somehow work (I think/hope).
Thirdly, I do love to slip in a tune which makes the listener think: ‘Blimey, I’ve not heard this for ages’ or ‘Cor, I’d forgotten all about this!’ (Not that anyone really says ‘Cor’ or ‘Blimey’ outside of a Carry On film anymore.)
Fourthly, end on something magnificent, just like you would want any gig or DJ set you went to in real life to do. Go out on a high, always leave ’em wanting more etc etc.
You’ll find examples of all four of these character traits on tonight’s brand new shiny mix, so let’s get the admin out of the way and crack right on, shall we?
Admin Part 1: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (I counted two when I listened back to this one); any mis-timed mixes are down to me (there’s one that’s a bit clunky here, I’m afraid; all record selections are mine (you’d better believe it, baby).
Admin Part 2: two of the tunes featuring this week contain some effin’ and jeffin’. One of those two contains a lot. Therefore this warning is most definitely required this week:
The UK Compensation Act 2006 makes it clear that an apology is not equivalent to an admission of liability.
This means that if, heaven forbid, you are involved in a road traffic collision – not an accident, as that implies, as Howard Jones once said, no-one is to blame, and in road traffic collisions at least one person is to blame – you can say “I’m sorry” and it cannot be interpreted as you saying “I’m sorry for what has happened, it’s all my fault.”
In my line of work, I see this a lot. “Your driver admitted liability!”, solicitors and insurance companies will say in open correspondence. “No they didn’t, they said they were sorry, which is not the same thing,” is my usual response.
You’ll have noticed over the past ten, fifteen years, maybe longer, this has crossed over into the public realm, and specifically into politics. Ministers caught with their trousers down, or who have said something obviously heart-felt but off script, will usually issue one of those “I’m sorry if…” statements. “I’m sorry if my words caused offence” is how it goes, and we all know that if they could, they would add: “But I do really think that the working class are scum and I don’t see why we should feed their children whilst their parents are staying home during the lockdown we’ve finally implemented. It’s not my fault if they don’t have savings, or friends who work in finance, or land, or rich parents.”
On Tuesday, as the UK hit 100,000 Covid-related deaths (top of the league! Woo-hoo! Go Yoo-Kay! They told us that post-Brexit we’d be the best, and they were right!) we were treated to an early evening press conference from the Prime Minister.
This is how the red tops chose to report it the following day:
Aw, poor old man of the people Boris Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. So very very sorry, but none of this is his fault.
Did you spot it? That’s right: Johnson didn’t just say that he was sorry. He said that he was “deeply sorry for every life that has been lost”.
And then he continued, saying that “as Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done. What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could and continue to do everything that we can to minimise loss of life and minimise suffering.”
Which takes it out of the protection provided under the parameters set down under the UK Compensation Act 2006. He accepts responsibility: not the Government. Him.
Right there you have an unequivocal admission of liability. Get on the phone to those no win-no fee solicitors if you’ve lost a loved one as a result of Covid-19. Name Johnson, not the Government, as the Defendant. Just imagine: 100,000 law suits against him.
And if you need evidence of his ineptitude, feel free to use this rather handy chronology of the early days of the pandemic, courtesy of those chaps at Led by Donkeys:
For the sake of completeness and impartiality, there is mention in that clip of Johnson endeavouring to reach a divorce settlement with his estranged wife. It omits to mention that she was being treated for cancer when Johnson started being unfaithful to her, with his current partner and mother of at least one of his children, Carrie Symonds. You’re welcome.
That clip only goes up to May 2020, so here’s the edited highlights of the Government – and thus, by his own admission Johnson’s – decisions since then which haven’t exactly helped with “flattening the curve” either:
“Eat Out to Help Out”
Closing our borders a mere ten months after the pandemic started
Permitting families to mix over Christmas, and then
Yes, I know the titles implies this should be getting posted later today, but let me explain.
Today it’s Children in Need night in the UK, and that can mean only one thing: nothing to watch on TV, unless newsreaders performing poorly choreographed dance routines floats your boat.
It’s a worthy cause, don’t get me wrong, but once you’ve dipped your hand in your pocket, as I’m sure you undoubtedly will, there’s really no need to carry on watching.
Personally, I think they would make loads more money if, once you’d contributed, your TV programmes went back to the normal schedules. The whole thing could be over and done with in half an hour or so.
Anyway, I thought I’d help out with your evening entertainment after you’ve done your charitable duty, by giving you a top mix of tunes to while away a couple of hours. So here you go, just shy of 140 minutes of tunes to bop around your kitchen to and suffice it to say, it’s a real mixed bag, covering the contemporary to the antiquated, the oft-impersonated to the never-bettered, the cherished to the forgotten, the much loved to the…erm…not loved so much. You’ll see.
But – and I mean this most sincerely folks – I love every record included in this mix. Yes, even that one. And that one. And definitely that one. Yes! This mix includes (at least) three acts generally considered to be among the naffest of if not the late 1970s, then ever. But I’d invite you to give them a go with a fresh pair of ears: kitsch, maybe, but loosen up, you might find you quite like them too (NB: I would recommend having a few drinks to truly accomplish this turnaround in opinion. Also, there’s a fair bit of effin’ & jeffin’ on some of these, so if you have kids a) hard luck, and b) put them to bed before playing this, or you’ll have to explain to them exactly what Fiddy is getting up to in “da” club, or worse, just what is going on on the Cansei de Ser Sexy record).
And when I say “mix”, I don’t mean anything has been beat-matched, or scratched, or whatever the cool name for mixing is these days: we’re in purely fade-in/fade-out territory here.
(There are, of course, a couple of technical glitches, by the way. Sorry, but I didn’t have time to go back and re-record the whole mix to get rid of them. I would have done, had the mixing software I have not crashed when I was on the penultimate tune the first time around, forcing me to go back and start all over again. Hope they don’t spoil things – look on the positive side: they will, at the very least, give you that real club feeling as you spin round to face the DJ/your sound system and call him/it whatever rude name you plump for.)
Last time I did one of these, I put the songs on Spotify, only to find they didn’t have many of the songs anyway, so I’ve not renewed my free trial subscription with them (until next time they offer it to me); instead you should (if I’ve done it right…) be able to stream it via Soundcloud here, or you can just download or stream it from the Dubious Taste vaults here (as a WAV file), which should play just fine on iTunes or Windows Media Player.
To make it as close to a “going out” experience as you can, I’d recommend playing it from one of those two sources, rather than scrolling down here to see what I’ve included. You wouldn’t approach a DJ in a club and ask him what he intended to play for the next couple of hours, now would you? No.
But if you must, here you go, 34 songs, in the same running order as on the mix, and without any of my usual snarky comments. As with most of my mixes, its starts innocuously enough….
Oh and one more thing, you can donate to Children in Need here. Do it quickly, before the dancing newsreaders come on.
Yes, like a toddler who has just finished doing his business but doesn’t know how to wipe his own bottom yet, I stand before you, poking my arse in your general direction, innocent eyes pleading for assistance (I must say, this analogy works loads more than I expected it to), and announcing: The Chain is back!
Yes, I thought I’d have been a bit more prolific in writing these during “lockdown” too. What do you want me to say? I’m not Cher, I can’t turn back time.
Truth be told I’ve got a little too involved with two things recently: firstly, trimming down duplicate songs on my iTunes which prevent me from updating my iPod with anything I’ve acquired in the last twelve months or so; and secondly a DJ-mixing app which I’m determined to get to grips with so you can have some proper mixes by yours truly (which I’m sure you’re absolutely crying out for).
That aside, I’ll start with a recap: last time out, we were left with this as our source record:
Ordinarily, the easiest way to come up with a suggestion is to link to any of the words in the title or the artiste (this isn’t a criticism, it’s how I come up with about 90% of my own suggestions), but when you’ve only got three words to work with, it makes things tricky, and some serious creativity (by which I mean showboating) is needed.
So, in terms of a running order this time around, I thought I’d work through the suggestions which link to Donovan, then to Mellow, then to Yellow, and then we’ll all crash back onto our beds as we climax with those that have drilled down a little deeper, so to speak.
But first: a spoiler. Well, two actually. Firstly, nobody suggested the next record in the actual Chain this time around, and secondly there is no Showboater of the Week award this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great records about to cross your path, ingeneously reached, but nothing quite point-worthy (Does anyone know where George, the Undisputed King of Showboating, is, by the way?).
There is most definitely a Worst Record of the Week award. In fact, it’s arguably the worst record I’ve ever posted, and I’ve posted The Wurzels before now (and will do again!).
OK, so let’s kick off with the Donovan related stuff. And where better to start than with something from Rol of My Top Ten fame who seems to have become my standard person to start with, even if his first suggestion this time around was somewhat confrontational:
“Do we also lose points if we mention Jason Donovan? Surely history has been kinder to him that Coldplay?”
I should explain. I signed off the last edition of The Chain with the words: “Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.” This was intended not so much as a slur against the band, even though I do think they’re absolute dog-shit (through-gritted teeth: with a couple of admittedly decent songs in their back catalogue that they’ve inadvertently stumbled upon).
Besides, I was rather surprised at Rol’s reticence to suggest a bit of Jason Donovan, given that many years ago, noting my “There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” tagline, he had reached out to me for a bit of support in justifying…I won’t say his love of, nor admiration, but…the fact that he quite liked some records by Erinsborough’s second finest pop star (and no, Stefan Dennis is not the first). I duly responded with a post explaining why liking Jason Donovan records is perfectly acceptable, which, since I seem to be a little short of clips and funnies this time out, included this:
Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing, Rol was placated by me saying I’d happily post something by the definitely-not-lemon-juice-haired-Aussie wonder, so here we go. And a further explanatory word from Rol:
“I do remember thinking Too Many Broken Hearts was a half decent pop song, even at the time (and I generally hated everything SAW did). Plus, I saw Jason in the War of the Worlds stage show a few years ago and he was much better than Marti Pellow.
And before you ask: no, that’s not the worst record of the week. Not by a long chalk. (Is that a phrase? ‘Tis now.)
So, who else came up with a suggestion to the word Donovan? Well, now’s the time for the fevered mind that is Rigid Digit (the man responsible for all that appears on Stuff & Nonsense), to step up to the plate with his first suggestion, which whilst it links to the Donovan name, gives us a good steer as to the waters we may well find ourselves paddling in later:
“Donovan could’ve become Father-in-Law to a Mr S Ryder from Manchester.
His daughter Oriole shacked up with Shaun, and gave birth to one of his (many) daughters.
And if it wasn’t Shaun, then Donovan’s other daughter was knocking about with Paul Ryder.
The Happy Mondays had the song “Donovan” on Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches (which also samples a bit of Sunshine Superman).
Ok, that’ll do for Donovan/Jason Donovan links. Let’s move on to links to the word Mellow. And it’s back to Rol, who, still somewhat reticent and tail between his legs for the Jason Donovan situation, came back with this as a very strong contender:
“Mellow Birds was a particularly rank brand of Instant Coffee that was popular when we were growing up and therefore became my first experience of coffee… which I promptly decided I didn’t like much and stuck to tea. It took me years to try coffee again and see the error of my ways.
Anyway, here are two songs that link vaguely to that….”
I imagine you will all know that McCartney was due to headline on the Saturday night at Glastonbury this year, until bloody Covid-19 ruined everything. Not that I had a ticket, mind. But as previously mentioned elsewhere on these pages, I was fortunate enough to see him there when he headlined in 2004. He played Blackbird that night, I thought at about the second or third song, but trusty songlist.fm tells me it was tenth in the set. Either way, I remember it as we all sang along, realising what a special set I was watching.
Indulge me for a moment:
Apart from all the deaths and distrust that Covid-19 has brought, I think it’s important that we remember and recognise the cultural impact too.
Anyway, where next?
Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we’re still on the section where we’re looking at songs which link to the word Mellow, so what else have we got?
Over to the phoenix from the flames that is The Robster, who I’m sure we can all agree we’re delighted to see has been coaxed out of semi-retirement to start posting again over at Is This The Life which currently has an angry but sad tribute to the man who wrote the song the blog is named after, Tim Smith of Cardiacs. I urge you to read it it, and if you don’t know the music of Cardiacs, follow The Robster’s suggestions. He knows his stuff.
As you will see shortly, Rob has done that age-old trick of mentioning but not really suggesting songs, knowing full well that I won’t be able to resist and will end up posting everything he utters. That was at the end of the line of a series of “Well, there’s this…but no…or this…but nah…” mentions which, true to form, will pop up later. (This is not a criticism, by the way.)
Next up is Swiss Adam from bagging area; now to be fair, this is the third of his suggestions (the others will be along shortly), hence it’s brevity:
“Mellow Gold, Beck. He’s a loser baby so why don’t you kill him?”
There’s another reason I’ve posted that next, and that’s because I figured we could all do with a ruddy good sing-a-long. I’m right, right?
Actually, that’s the first time I’ve listened to that in God knows how many years, and I had a flash-back to singing it at junior school. I, ever desperate to get a laugh out of my friends, would perform the call-back bits in the final verse, paper-and-comb-in-mouth voice and all. I remember our headmaster, face knotted in fury, stalking along the lines of children, trying to locate the source of some unexpected joy, which was not of course permitted. He never caught me (for that). But looking back, what a desperate for attention little squirt I was back then, says the man who writes a music blog in his 50s, as if he’s changed.
Over now to PhonicPat“Here we go, linking the yellow I’ve gone for a a cautionary tale for everybody…”
…because ‘if yellow is mellow…’ and it is a great song.“
Indeed it is, and one filled with memories for me, for it was a song we used to perform in the band I was in at college. We loved it for it was easy to learn: three chords, a drumfill and lots of thrashing our instruments within an inch of their lives. I tried to explain that most Quo records met at least two of those criteria, but my protestations fell on ironically deaf ears.
I mention this now because there exists some recordings of us playing live, done through the mixing desk and they are, without question, hilarious, for all the wrong, unintended reasons. I’m hopeful that the lead singer can locate said tapes so I can convert them to mp3s to post here, and we can all have a jolly good laugh. Watch this space.
Carrying on with the Yellow theme for now, and I’ll hand you back to Nathan, who has a couple of ideas in this area:
“…McCartney/Beatles connection…Yellow connection…vague drug reference a la “Mellow Yellow”…a three-fer?
I admire your enthusiasm Nathan, but sorry, no. The source record isn’t by McCartney or The Beatles, and as for the drug reference, well, we’ll come to that soon enough.
In the meantime, you’ll recall I mentioned earlier The Robster’s cunning plan where he names a lot of records that he isn’t suggesting, knowing full well I won’t be able to resist posting all of them. Time to revisit. Brace yourself, for here we go:
“Where do I start with this one? Yellow? Too easy..:”
I’ve deliberately not picked the original of that one. Click the link and you’ll see why (it’s beautiful). And I don’t just mean because it’s not the Counting Crows version.
Anyway, as you were Robster:
” ‘…Yellow Submarine…’ ” (We’ve had that!) “…I could go on. And on and on…” (I know, I’ve read your blog (just kidding!) received emails from you extolling the virtues of Newport Town FC). “So one that some people might not know is…”
But The Robster hasn’t finished yet. Oh no. Here he comes with his link to Donovan, which should have featured ages ago but I can’t be bothered with going back and putting it in its rightful place.
Go on then Robbo, fill yer boots:
“I’m going back to brilliant cartoons. Donovan once played himself in an episode of Futurama, which has a character called Fry. The wonderful Stephen Fry (credited as Prof. Joseph Yupik) lent his voice to the title track of (the even more wonderful) Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow album.”
Yes, it’s almost August, but here’s a song about snow:
Which, fortuitously, leads me nicely onto the final category: all things Donovan-trivia related and associated rudeness.
But before we go there, a couple of the more obtuse suggestions. The Chain Gang may remember that for the past two episodes, The Great Gog has been obsessed with the county of Hampshire. Now, he has a new fixation:
“We move now to Hampstead. The Mellow Yellow album features a track entitled Hampstead Incident. I can think of only two other songs that include this part of North London in their titles:
“(Released in 1987 and 1988 respectively – clearly a time when this area was inspiring Britain’s songwriters)”
Wise words, great mate.
Back then, before the final push, to Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:
“Husker Du, legendary indie punk pioneers covered a Donovan song, Sunshine Superman in 1983. In fairly breakneck style. I’ve just scrolled up and seen another reference to that song but not the Du’s cover. They also covered the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show…which is ace but doesn’t really link to mellow or yellow.“
Yeh, but it’s the kind of almost showboating that I mentioned earlier, so I’ll allow it:
I think we left Rigid Digit mid-flow a little earlier, so perhaps we should check back in on him:
” ‘…Pills…” is probably the Mondays high point – it’s a bit of a mess after that, and the next album was a bit a a damp squib. They had it, they lost it, and Tony Wilson probably thought it was great art to fail in this manner (and drag his record company down with them). But … Shaun returned with Black Grape proving he still had it (not sure he’s got “it” now – he’s already been on the Help I’m Stuck In The Jungle, Can I Have A Career? thing on ITV, and is probably second or third reserve for a place on The One Show sofa)..”
You haven’t watched him and Bez on Celebrity Gogglabox, I’m guessing. In case there was any doubt, Bez is shown to not be the sharpest tool in the box. Not that there was much debate in this area beforehand. This is a man who is so simple he managed to get himself disqualified for cheating on Celebrity Bargain Hunt. Sadly, we will never know if he’s like he is now because of the vast amount of drugs he took in the (I hate to narrow it down, but let’s say) late 1980s to early/mid 1990s. I think we can hazard a guess. As for Shaun, for a man who claims to have given everything up, his face is a very odd shade of bright pink. It’s almost like he’s self-glazing. Neither know how to complete a sentence without liberal use of the F-word. Not that I object to this, but come on guys, just one phrase without it, please.
Before we go any further, some background knowledge which you will need to have if what’s to follow is going to make any kind of sense. So have a read of this, which I have pilfered from wiki:
The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes, accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumour three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: “it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies’ vibrators.”
So, to be clear, I have allowed songs which relate to the smoking of illicit substances as that is generally, if inaccurately, assumed to be what the song is about, but none can acquire points. Sadly, since my Mother will be reading this and I’ll have to look her in the eye again at some point, I also have to include any suggestions linked to Lady Love Toys too.
Let’s tantrically wait a while before we submit to the buzzing suggestions which involve items of self pleasure, and we’ll hear from long time-blog faithful, but (I think) first time Chain contributor, Lynchie Fae Enburdeeen:
“Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” includes the verse:
“Electrical banana Is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana Is bound to be the very next phase”
Which leads me on to the greatest marijuana songs ever written – performed by the fabulous twin lead guitar band Man, who would occasionally perform this song with a full Welsh male voice choir.
I had, and still have, no idea if it’s true that that’s Saffron or not. It doesn’t sound like her to me. But I’m letting it in with no fact-checking because if it’s not true, then it deserves admission just for the balls-out nerve of making such a claim up.
But whilst we’re on the subject of Saffron, here’s Nathan again:
How about Saffron – singer for Republica…Republica doing…:
“During these days of lockdown I’ve been threatening to get my guitar down from the loft and serenade the neighbours. Problem is I only ever got to song number two in my “Teach Yourself Guitar” book, which was (I’ll get to the point trust me) Catch The Wind by Donovan. For years I used to mix up that song and his other one Colours, to come up with Colours Of The Wind which is an entirely different affair from the Disney film Pocahontas, but the next song certainly won’t be that one.
As a follow up I’m going to go for Worst Song suggestion – Donovan also recorded Sunshine Superman. Superman was the name of a novelty record by Black Lace which had been originally recorded by two Italians with the title Gioca Jouer. To quote from wiki: ‘The song featured a number of dance gestures that acted out the lyrics – including sleeping, waving, hitching a ride, sneezing, walking, swimming, skiing, spraying deodorant, sounding a horn, ringing a bell, flexing muscles as a “Macho Man”, making the letters “OK”, blowing kisses, combing and flying like Superman.‘”
Brace yourself. This is unspeakably awful, and fully deserving of the only points I’m dishing out this time for Worst Record:
…which was selected because Donovan and Bono share a birthday.
I know. Rubbish, right?
Anyway, you know the drill: submit your suggestions for songs that link to Beuatiful Day by U2 via the Comments section below, or by email to email@example.com and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.
The other film I watched the other day was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
If ever I was asked to compile my favourite films, this would be right up there, jostling for top spot.
It stars Jim Carrey – no, don’t be put off, he’s in Truman Show rather than Ace Ventura mode, so there’s almost zero comedy gurning – and Kate Winslet (ably supported by the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Mark Ruffalo), both of them putting in to my mind their finest performances.
I imagine most of you have seen this film, but just in case, here’s the synopsis from Imdb:
“When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.”
Short, but sweet, that, innit?
It’s a little more complex than that, and is told in a fractious sort-of-flashback Memento-style, which means you really have to pay attention. But to flesh it out a little more without giving too much away, Joel (Carrey) learns that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) has had said medical procedure to remove all trace of his existence from her memory, and so he decides to have the same procedure to remove her from his. Needless to say, all does not go to plan…
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish your love of a film or a song or whatever from where you were in your life when you first encountered it. It’s why so many people my age love The Smiths, for example, because we recognise how those songs spoke to us as lonely, bedroom-bound adolescents; or The Stone Roses first album, because it reminds us of our first flush of adult (albeit it at University) life. They caught us at just the right moment so as to leave an indelible mark.
And so it is with Eternal Sunshine…, for much as I love the film anyway, whenever I watch it, and whenever I hear today’s song which is on the soundtrack, I’m immediately transported back to when I first saw it.
I was still living in the flat of filth with Llŷr, and his younger sister Sian was sofa-surfing at ours. She was still plugging gamefully away as I recall, trying to catch a break acting, but at the time was “between jobs”, working in a bar down in Cardiff Bay.
Although she’d been living with us for a couple of weeks, I didn’t really know Sian. Up until then, Llŷr was around whenever she was at home, and every evening the two of them would be sitting on the sofa/her bed, fighting and laughing and riffing off each other and reminding each of “…that time when…”; I loved watching the two of them do that brother and sister thing, winding each other up even though it was perfectly obvious they absolutely thought the world of each other.
We’d met a couple of times before; the first time she denies all knowledge of, the second time she was meeting Llŷr for lunch and I happened to bump into them. Llŷr told me afterwards (so, open to challenge in a Gene fanclub membership kinda way) that she had asked who I was and he was incredulous that (given we’d met before) he’d had to explain that I was his flatmate.
Anyway, it was a Friday afternoon, and so it could be that this was just two days before Llŷr had his first ‘episode’. Sian had the day off, and no plans; I subscribed to Netflix-forerunner Love Film! – where you rented movies on DVD online and they were posted out to you – had just received Eternal Sunshine… and decided to take an impromptu day off work to watch it.
We sat in absolute silence throughout – yeh, I know me being quiet! – and both had to have a little moment after it had finished to compose ourselves. (I’m an absolute sap when it comes to this sort of thing; if something stokes that reaction in me, you’ll often catch me avoiding your gaze, looking out of the window, pretending I have something in my eye. I still well up at the final episode of Friends, for Christ’s sake).
I think Sian spoke first: “Wow”. Which seemed to sum it up pretty well.
And to cap it all, this is on the soundtrack; a cover version, granted, of a record from 1980 by The Korgis – but one which, whilst not exactly straying from the original, absolutely smashes it out of the park:
Oooh. Someone’s new haircut makes him look smart, doesn’t it?
It’s the sort of haircut you get when you’re hoping for a promotion. Or when you’re trying to impress the Judge in a divorce hearing. Or when you’re about to start banging the drum for driving your country over a cliff so you and your tax avoiding hedge fund mates can make some quick bucks.
For here we are, a week later, and The Chain is back! Back!! Back!!! (again) for another instalment.
Truth be told, I was totally blown away by the response I received to last week’s edition, so blown away that I almost went full on Sally Field. So y’know, cheers.
I’m also delighted that not only have a couple of old Chain Gang friends chipped in this week, but we also have three new members to welcome aboard.
Before we go any further though, some admin, and I need to add a new rule to the ten I posted last week, namely this:
11. The same artist can feature twice in the same week, but only if suggested by different people. In other words, if you suggest two songs by the same act, I’ll ask you to just pick one of them; if you don’t reply, I’ll pick for one for you.
Actually, this is an old rule that I forgot to include last week. One of you nearly came a cropper with this one, but just about managed to dodge the bullet. You’ll see what I mean.
Ok, so we have 49 new songs (count ’em!) and over three and a half hours worth of tunes to get through this week, and there’s some real treats, including a couple of acts I was surprised to find featuring in The Chain for the first time, some commercially unreleased live stuff, a couple of songs which have featured here before under different guises, a couple of real rarities (I think), a contender for Worst Record In The History of Everything Ever, and – and I mention this now to introduce some totally unneccessary tension and excitement into proceedings – one of you correctly guessed the next record in the Official Chain.
So let’s kick things off with a reminder of the last source song, that is the song that you were all providing suggestions to this week:
And where better to start than with a new member of The Chain Gang? Ladies and Gentleman, please rattle your manacles and give a warm welcome to GMFree:
“The most obvious songs that I thought of first were ‘God Only Knows’ by James…”
Now, in the same way that I think if you’re going to cover a song you should try and do something interesting with it, by the same token I think that if you’re going to write a song and give it the same name as universally loved classic, then it is undoubtedly going to be compared to said song, so you’d better make sure yours is good….
“‘God Only Knows’? So what does he know? Well, he knows it’s true, obviously … so I’ll go for Teenage Fanclub”
Now, strictly speaking, I should be disallowing this suggestion, because this song has featured on The Chain before, back in edition #32, to be precise. However, I’m going to allow it this week for three reasons: firstly, it ws me who suggested it last time; secondly, I posted a Peel Sessions version last time and this time I’m posting the original, and thirdly, because last time it featured I had changed one word in the title from “God” to “Gourd” so that it linked to the source record (XTC’s “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”, in case you’re interested).
We’re into not commercially released stuff with that one, as far as I know. Any chance to feature Beck, and moreover Union Chapel, my favourite venue in London, will be gratefully seized.
Next up, it’s over to The Beard, who provides one of his usual interesting links:
“God Only Knows is featured in the film Boogie Nights. The film centres around the supremely endowed Dirk Diggler, played by Mark Wahlberg. He also starred in ‘Four Brothers’ which is pretty much a remake of the John Wayne driven western ‘The Sons Of Katie Elder’. John Wayne? Motherfuck him as said Public Enemy on Fight The Power.”
Speaking of John Wayne, he also starred in the original release of ‘True Grit’ along with the next artist. Over to you, Alyson (of What’s It All About?):
“In light of [last] Tuesday’s sad news of the death of Glen Campbell, and the fact he stood in for Brian Wilson in 1964 as a Beach Boy, I am reminded of his song ‘Galveston’ which always makes me think of a beach because of the following lines:
‘I still hear your sea waves crashing While I watch the cannons flashing I clean my gun And dream of Galveston.’
I know we’ll all have heard it a lot over the last couple of days but I never tire of these songs of his.”
To be fair, Galveston is one of a clutch of Campbell’s records that I don’t think many of us will get tired of hearing:
And so we seem to have made the seamless move from songs which reference ‘God Only Knows’, to songs which link to members, full or part time, of The Beach Boys. So what next?
George has the answer:
“Can I propose a third song that is really, really shit?” he asks.
Yes, I know you haven’t heard his first two suggestions yet. I choose the order the songs feature in, and I want to post his third (really, really shit) suggestion first.
As I pointed out to George in the Comments to last week’s edition, he doesn’t normally ask permission.
“It’s by Wilson Phillips…….one of whom is a relation of a Beach Boy…….and the song is ‘Hold On’. But feel free to disqualify it because it is simply too dreadful.”
George is fully aware that a record being dreadful, or shit, or shittily dreadful, is not enough to preclude it from The Chain. For here, we embrace the dreadfully shit (by which I categorically do not mean Donald J Trump, who we try to keep at arms length at the very least).
And besides, I’ve listened to this – and all of the suggestions – a lot over the last week, and I’ve grown to quite like this:
“God Only Knows”, of course, features on The Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds”, so how about a couple of suggestions which link to that? Step forwards The Great Gog, who I see has now got as far as starting his own blog, but hasn’t yet got round to writing anything on it just yet. He’s probably got far more important things to be getting on with, like suggesting this kind of thing:
“I’ll go with the fact that ‘God Only Knows’ features on the album Pet Sounds. This album also features a track called ‘Caroline, No’. Whenever I spot this on the album, I always think of the similarly titled Talk Talk track, ‘Does Caroline Know?’ – not surprising really as I owned the ‘It’s My Life’ album some time before I acquired Pet Sounds.”
‘Pet Sounds’ is one of those albums, I think – or at least it is to me – that I knew what a great album it is long before I actually got round to listening to it, let alone owning a copy. I don’t think I actually heard ‘Pet Sounds’ until I was in my late twenties, but I remember in my early twenties having a very long discussion in the pub one night with one of my friend’s younger brother’s friends about how amazing it is, without him realising I’d never heard it. Hold the front page: Jez is a complete bullshitter shocker!
“So many gods to choose from… luckily I don’t own anything by Hermes House Band, so you’re spared that. Instead, let’s go for the god to whom I am most frequently compared (admittedly in the form “you’re no…”) and some proper old-school house: ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis.”
Shame about the Hermes House Band; I’ve got loads of gags about the Hermes parcel delivery service all lined up and ready to go.
Who else haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, The Robster from Is This The Life?, I wonder what he’s got to offer?
“If we’re going down the God route though, and with God supposedly living in Heaven or some such mythical place, I offer Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the title track of their seminal second album ‘Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…’.”
I’ll tell you who else hasn’t chipped in yet: Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, that’s who:
“Sorry to disappoint you but there is noGod,” he blasphemes, “so…”
Hold up, what did you just say?
“Sorry to disappoint you but there is noGod…”
Pray, do continue.
‘No Gods (and Precious Few Heroes)’ by Dick Gaughan, please. JC recently posted a goose-bump inducing live version which is the one to feature”
And it’s JC’s legendary place that I visited to find the specific version CC was after, so it would be rude of me not to attribute credit where credit’s due and provide a link to his site The (New) Vinyl Villain (although if you visit me here, then I’d be really surprised if you didn’t already visit JC).
Although, admittedly, it’s not the best quality recording, and you kind of didn’t really suggest that one anyway, so for one time only I’m going to allow you to suggest a different song by the same artist:
And we’ll stay with GMFree for a moment longer, if we may:
“I had a habit on the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything series to mention the great Stephen Jones almost every time, here are two from him…”
Wait a minute, what did I just say about ‘for one time only’…?
But this is the bullet-dodging suggestion I mentioned earlier, for the first of these two suggestions is by Stephen Jones recording under the name TrUcKeR and the other one…erm…isn’t (that one will be along in a bit, if you care to hang around long enough):
Is it okay if I like the sleeve of that more than I like the actual track….?
Now when I posted the Public Enemy track earlier, I deliberately avoided commenting on how sad it is that a record released in 1989 about black oppression felt as relevant today as it did back then. And that’s because I knew that one of you was going to make precisely that point about a record released a lot earlier than that. So, abramson60, the stage is yours:
“I’ve been listening to a lot of Nina Simone of late so taking the God road ‘Mississippi Goddam’, a song that is sadly still relevant today when we see what happened in Charlottesville [at the weekend] and it was only last week the UK police released the appalling hate crime figures.”
“…the original version…actually prefer the Kiss version, but they don’t sing the verse about Cliff. Dunno why.”
I would imagine it’s because most of Kiss’ fanbase would have no idea who Cliff is, the heathens.
Anyway, I agree with you about preferring the Kiss version, but I do really like the Argent version too, although every time I’ve heard it my little ears have pricked up as I thought something by Focus had come up on shuffle for me.
We’ll come back to Rol’s second suggestion in a bit.
That’s all the God suggestions done. Next we have a song about Jesus, but I think we need some sort of bridging song, just to reinforce the link here. This’ll do the trick:
For the uninitiated, Mr Rossiter was the lead singer of Gene (who I adore) and I cannot recommend the album that track comes from (‘The Defenestration of Saint Martin’, in case you can’t make it out from the image above) highly enough. An over-looked gem, in my opinion. Seek, and ye shall find.
Which leads us on to God’s greatest adversary, and we’re heading back to GMFree’s seemingly never-ending list of suggestions, which is for this:
Now GMFree mentioned the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a little earlier, and regular visitors to these shores will know that the writers of that now deceased blog, SWC and Badger, often contributed here. So I was delighted when SWC got in touch to make some suggestions again this week, although the first one he doesn’t really suggest, more wonders out loud about it, which he knows full well is too much for me to resist:
“I need to decide whether to go down the beach route the boy route or the God route. I thinking if ‘God Only Knows’ then perhaps ‘Better the Devil You Know’ but I may change my mind.”
Too late! And count yourself lucky I picked this one and not the song of the same name by professional Scouser Sonia:
Now many of you will recognise KC from her posts on SWC and Badger’s site; she was, if I recall correctly, a relative newcomer to writing and her posts were really rather excellent, so it’s a shame she no longer has a platform to show off her talents. So KC: if you want to continue to write, and haven’t had any other offers to do so elsewhere, drop me an email, you’d be more than welcome to contribute here. Just until the boys get bored and resurrect WYCRA, of course.
God…Lord…Jesus…Lucifer…all suggestions of Biblical proportions. Which leads me back to Rol for his second suggestion, which is this “…because it’s ace.” Have you and Martin been copying each other’s superlatives? You have, haven’t you? You’ve both let me down, you’ve let the class down, but most all you’ve let yourselves down.
Good job both of your ace suggestions really are ace:
And as you can see, that features on an album called ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ which makes that a Double-Linker. Points!
So, having exhausted those suggestions too, let’s have a look at some Boys. And one of you got very excited at the prospect. Hello Kay, who shortly after posting her suggestions, sent me a text to say she was worried it made her sound like, and I quote “a right creepy perv”.
See what you think, readers:
“I’m going for the theme boys – so many to choose from. Maybe….”
Nothing pervy about a woman of a certain age liking her boys wild and bad. And from the 1980s.
“…but I suppose I should go with the first song I thought of which linked to the Beach Boys and that’s…”
Brace yourself everybody. It’s Worst Record of the Week time, and if this isn’t one of the Worst Records in the History of Everything Ever, then I’d like to know what is. No scrub that, I really wouldn’t.
In case you’re interested, that’s the other song which has featured on The Chain before, but then it was performed by Ronnie Spector and came from the very same EP as the one BabyLotti suggested earlier.
Let’s have GMFree’s last suggestion, the other one by Stephen Jones, which you’ll recall I’m allowing because he released it under his Baby Bird moniker, as opposed to the TrUcKeR of the earlier suggestion:
Which, cheese or not, is also ace. And it gives me the chance to post this, my final suggestion of the week. And it may seem an odd one to go to, but some of you will have spotted the reason for the link when listening to that last tune:
Seriously, think of how many albums the Ramones have released, and how many songs of about two minutes that means they’ve recorded. This is the 41st edition of The Chain. How did we get this far without them cropping up?
Which leads me to the final suggestion of the week. Which just so happens to be next song in the Official Chain.
Here’s their link:
“From the Boys on the Beach to…”
And here’s ours, as penned by KC in this Sunshine Strand:
“If Badger was here he would agree that the greatest song to feature beaches either in the band title or the song title is…”
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:
“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):