No Such Thing As A Guilty Pleasure

Hello.

Before I go any further, many thanks to all that got in touch to wish me well after I mentioned last week that I was struggling. Sorry for the absence of responses or “likes” to the Comments, but, to compound my misery, I managed to lose my phone last weekend, so wasn’t getting the usual message alerts that the App provides. Coupled with that, I had decided that perhaps being chained to a laptop all day in my flat – my work one during the day, my own out of hours – probably wasn’t doing my mental health much good, so I made a conscious effort not to even turn my laptop on all week.

It seems to have worked, I feel better: not 100%, but getting there. But I didn’t want any of you kind enough to have sent me messages of support to think that they weren’t appreciated, because they definitely were, when I finally read them. So thank you all.

During my week of abstinence, it occurred to me that I haven’t really fulfilled the original remit of the blog for some time – “a confessional trawl through my record buying history…where there’s no such thing as guilty pleasure”– so I figured I should maybe redress that a bit.

As far as I’m concerned, a “guilty pleasure” is a particular song which some consider to be naff or embarrassing to admit to liking, or a song by an artist viewed in the same way. I’d like to say it’s a position that I’ve never subscribed to, but that wouldn’t be entirely true.

What I think would be a fairer description would be that when I first started buying records, they were what most would consider to be “guilty pleasures”, but I was too young to know or to care. As I moved into my teens, I developed a love of rock music, and, as I have documented far too often on these pages, of Status Quo in particular, with whom I was, no doubt about it, utterly obsessed.

As an illustration, just after I moved to London and started house-sharing with Hel, the topic of what our Mastermind specialist subject would be came up. Without hesitation, I selected “The singles of Status Quo, 1967 – 1987” and, as luck would have it, she owned a copy of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles, so she decided to test me.

Suffice it to say, by the end of her cross examination, she would have been perfectly entitled to ask me to move out again, so nerdily accurate were my answers.

I’m not suggesting my development is unique or unusual, by the way; we all had (un)healthy obsessions with singers or bands in our teenage years, didn’t we? Swap the words ‘Status Quo’ for the words ‘Duran Duran’ or ‘Prince’ or ‘Nik Kershaw’ or ‘Keith Harris and Orville’ and I’m sure many of you will find yourselves looking into the same mirror.

I also began to like and purchase more ‘charty’ records, but at the same time, aided by a membership of Britannia Music, I began to investigate older, more established artists, usually songs I’d heard on Radio 2, which was my parents’ radio station of choice. Terry Wogan has a lot to answer for, and I don’t just mean his version of The Floral Dance (a copy of which resided in our house, though I’m not sure anybody ever accepted responsibility for bringing it in to our home).

And so, aided by Wogan’s breakfast-time picks, and with easier access to purchasing records via Britannia Music, I started buying records by the likes of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Dusty Springfield, Little Richard, The Doors, Elvis Presley, The Kinks, and, inevitably, The Beatles – none of which my peers would have considered to be “cool” records to listen to, let alone own.

I’m not a fan of tribalism, and see no reason to swear allegiance to one band over another, but if absolutely pressed, I’d pick Blur over Oasis, and The Beatles over The Rolling Stones every time. Contentious, I know. But I’ve bought many records by all four over the years, and I’ve never understood why you had to be “for” one and “against” the other. They’ve all released songs which are, at best, great: why deny yourself the pleasure of listening to songs by the act you’re not supposed to like? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Anyway, by the time I arrived at 6th Form, where I properly immersed myself in what was then called “indie” music, I had a fair old collection of vinyl building up at home. Any trip into Town would only be considered successfully completed when I returned home with a clutch of new vinyl purchases tucked under my arm, sleeve notes read greedily on the bus home. At home I’d head straight for the record player, brushing past my mother, who would, without fail, roll her eyes and mutter something about money burning a hole in my pocket.

There was a battered old stereo in the 6th Form Common room, which I soon commandeered, compiling a new mixtape every couple of days or so, an evening spent, headphones on, hunched over the pause button on my Dad’s far superior midi stereo system, but only when I’d completed my homework *coughs* honest.

And because of all of those purchases, I was able to provide a new mix-tape with a revolving roster of current hits, mixed in with the classics, along with some new indie band who I was tipping for great things, much as I try to do with the occasional mix I post here. I wish I’d kept some of them.

All that changed when I went to college. Here was a chance to reinvent oneself, to create an identity, and I went for “indie kid circa 1988” big time. I would only buy records considered to be cool, and I would dress like (I thought) an indie kid should. Thankfully very few photos exist, but for a couple of years my uniform would always include a tatty cardigan, a band T-shirt, a pair of baseball boots, jeans (obviously) and – get this – a black cap. By 1990 the cap had all but disappeared, as I started wearing hoodies and – yikes – a pair of dungarees, as my (indie) DJ’ing activities increased at the same time as Madchester (which I embraced) and acid house (which, regrettably, I did not) exploded.

And so it was for several years (the record buying, not the dress sense), I would only buy what I thought were “cool” “indie” records, and, as I’ve written here many times, it wasn’t until I met my now no-longer-with-us best friend/little brother/kindred spirit Llŷr that I was reminded that it doesn’t matter whether anybody else likes what you like. Plough your own furrow, like what you like and be happy. And so I learned to love pop music and all things naff again.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, last night I watched a concert by an artist that I bought records by back when I was a teenager, who has, I think, never been considered cool, always considered a guilty pleasure, or at the very least someone liked by the “older generation”, which I have to admit I’m now part of, in the eyes of those pesky nowadays teenagers, at least.

The show was recorded over two nights in New York’s Shea Stadium back in 2008, just before it was demolished, was broadcast on Sky Arts, and is available to stream on NOWTV (although you really have to look for it); it’s 2 hours 21 minutes of fantastic showmanship, incredible technical musicianship, the occasional guest appearance (in order of descending impressiveness: Tony Bennet, Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Garth Brooks) and the most amazing percussionist in Crystal Taliefero (introduced to the crowd as “…on percussion…and on vocals…and on saxophone…and harmonica…and guitar…and everything else on the fricking stage, you name it”) – even if you don’t like the headline act’s music, it’s worth watching just for her: she looks gorgeous and cool as fuck, with a fantastic afro and unbridled energy. She’s amazing, even if you don’t think Billy Joel is.

And that’s who I’m talking about: Billy Joel. Never in his career has he been considered “cool”, but nevertheless some of his songs used to pop up on my 6th form mixtapes, and many of his songs are not skipped over when they pop up on shuffle now.

To this day, I will defend this as being a truly great pop single (and I know it was, because Llŷr agreed with me):

Personally, I’ve always loved this one too, delivering a message which I must have absorbed somewhere along the line:

I think it’s the steadfast refusal to call it “Rock’n’Roll” that holds part of the appeal for me there.

Sadly, neither of these get performed in the aforementioned Shea Stadium gig, but then neither does Uptown Girl, which, given it was his last UK #1 and it’s awful (as is any song which Westlife feels worthy of a cover) is both a surprise and a blessed relief.

Although, this would perhaps be one of my few criticisms of the show: not enough of the hits. Early doors, Joel feels the need to explain that he’s about to perform an album track, and which album it’s from. But given that the crowd, all baying Noo Yawker Karens, more concerned with being seen to be there than actually enjoying the night or, heaven forbid, being fans, don’t seem to recognise any of the songs until he starts singing, missing the very obvious signature piano-flourish which identifies each of his songs, perhaps that doesn’t matter so much. To be honest, it was kind of nice to hear some songs I’d either not heard in ages or had never heard before – but in my book, for this sort of massive gig, it should be: play the hits, keep the bums off the seats.

Not that all of Joel’s hits are booty-shakers, of course. This single, which I adore, gets an outing:

What I love about that song is that it can be interpreted in two very opposite ways: one, a rather lovely description of the woman he loves and why he loves her, or two, a list of the things that really annoy him about his partner, which borders on the misogynistic (I prefer the first explanation, by the way – but just listen to some of those lyrics, there’s some venom there).

This absolute belter does get an airing, and if you can’t empathise with the lead character on this record then I’m not sure you’ve lived. You certainly haven’t met some of the people I have:

Last one, and it’s his signature tune, where he assumes the persona of a guy playing piano in a bar, a job he actually did before he got famous, an authenticity which Tom Waits can only hope for. This is, rightly, hailed as a masterpiece of bar-room observation and storytelling, even if he does look like every midwife’s almost-sufficiently-dilated nightmare on the album sleeve:

Joel is the consummate performer, perhaps at his best when perched on a piano stool. He knows how to work a crowd, how to stir YOO ESS AYY patriotism in a non-jingoistic way. Although, he does strap on a guitar for We Didn’t Start The Fire, and manages to look like David Brent trying to emulate Pete Townsend’s whirlwind style of playing.

He is, like it or not, America’s Elton John, but without the extravagant clothing, the coke habit, the hair transplant. Plus, he writes all his songs, not just half of them, which makes him…I dunno…better….?

I’m not sure if looking like a red-faced sweaty bloodhound about to explode like a hotdog in a microwave, as he does through much of the Shea Stadium show, is a preferable look, mind.

So, to summarise: I’m feeling better and I like Billy Joel. Join me.

More soon.

The Chain #49

I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)

Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.

(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.

Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.

OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:

As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).

Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:

“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:

Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:

But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.

Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:

“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”

Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:

I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.

Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”

…which is bound to lighten the mood.

Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:

“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”

Phew!

I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:

..and this (just Rigid Digit now):

and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):

and this:

Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:

Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:

See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:

Mostly because Joey did it too:

But I digress, again.

Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):

…and here’s the song they are referencing:

To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:

So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.

Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:

“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”

“…which is great and you know it is really.”

Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.

“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).

I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:

Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):

Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”

and

and

And Pat isn’t finished there:

“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):

Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.

In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?

Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?

Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:

“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”

And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”

Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.

Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:

What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.

No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:

Genius pop music. And I mean that.

Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:

and

Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.

The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”

It sure is:

Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:

I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.

Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”

Too late, you’ve said it now.

Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:

Peelie would be proud.

How do you follow that? With this:

Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”

Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:

“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)

He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.

I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:

And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:

…to an often overlooked gem:

…and the never to be forgotten:

A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:

And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:

…which almost inevitably leads us here:…

…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:

And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:

I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.

But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:

And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.

Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich.  Everybody talk about…:

“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”

…and…

Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:

Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:

“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:

I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:

Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.

“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)

For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.

Yeh, I know. Dry subject.

What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.

Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:

This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:

In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.

“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:

But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:

“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”

What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.

Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:

Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:

David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise.  So the link is obviously:”

…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:

Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:

Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:

It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:

Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:

“…a small city, dark in the day time…”

…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:

And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:

“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:

Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!

One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):

Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:

“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:

That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.

You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:

New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:

When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:

Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:

Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.

Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:

Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:

“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”

Leading him here:

And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:

Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:

And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:

But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:

And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:

“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”

Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:

And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.

Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…

Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com

More soon.

Say What?

The other thing about baffling lyrics, is that sometimes you’re just astounded by the sheer audacity of the songwriter who has

a) having written them

b) tried them out and

c) then thought: “Yeh, that’s totally appropriate” and left them in.

Today’s song is one which I’ve had thrust into my virtual world ever since the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral the other week.

In that context, it’s probably fine – a Gallic “we didn’t do it” shrug.

But buried amongst the “wants to be Subterranean Homesick Blues or at the very least It’s The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” lyrics of this song there lies an absolute gem of a “Sorry, what did he just say?” moment.

Look, there’s the sleeve, all “I am front page news and I have a message”, all self-important pomposity.

Which would be fine, in a 20th century history lesson kind of way, which the song essentially is.

But then, come the words which make Bono’s “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” on Do They Know It’s Christmas? seem positively humanitarian.

I should give some background for my mentioning it: this is a song and a lyric which Hel and I always thought to be hilariously inappropriate, to the extent that whenever one of us hears it and the other isn’t there to bask in it’s iffy-glory, the one feels compelled to let the other one know a moment is happening.

Hence one night last week I got a series of texts from Hel, telling me that the DJ in wherever she was had just played this, and that nobody else enjoyed her singing along with mucho gusto to the line in question.

My take home message: everyone misses living with me at some point.

Alogether now:

“CHILDREN OF THALIDOMIDE!!”

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Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire

Ouch.

More soon.

 

The Chain #41

Never let it be said I’m not a man of my word.

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:

20140211-18431840. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

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….

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James – God Only Knows

“…and….” Whoa there, GM! We’ve not finished with the songs also called “God Only Knows”.

Over to you The Swede (of Unthought of, though, somehow):

“From ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys to…..’God Only Knows’ by Joe Henry – same title, different song, fortunately a quite lovely one.”

He’s not wrong, you know:

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Joe Henry – God Only Knows

Now to the first of my oh so many suggestions this week. Imagine Yoda is reciting the name of the source song, he’d probably refer to it like this:

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Young Fathers (feat. Leith Congregational Choir) – Only God Knows

Time for Dirk of sexyloser fame to contribute:

“‘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).

In other words, this is totally fine:

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Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True

What else does God know? Let’s ask David Bowie, who has probably found out whether he was right by now:

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David Bowie – God Knows I’m Good

That song title in no way references my Gourd pun earlier, by the way.

Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, and he’s going all deep and meaningful on us:

“‘God Only Knows’ has one of the most honest first lines in songwriting history, I’ll throw in ‘Honesty’ by Billy Joel.”

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Billy Joel – Honesty

Ok GM, the floor’s yours again:

“…and ‘Lord Only Knows’ by Beck, there is a great version from his Union Chapel show in 2003 which includes harmonica and merges into Hot In Here (Herre !?) in a way only Beck can do.”

You mean this, I presume:

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Beck – Lord Only Knows & Hot In Here (Live at Union Chapel)

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.”

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Public Enemy – 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:

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Glen Campbell – Galveston

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:

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Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Actually, two of Wilson Phillips are the daughters of Brian Wilson; I expected someone would suggest a record by the parents of the third member, but nobody did, so I may as well:

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The Mamas & The Papas – Creeque Alley

“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!

Anyway, here’s your suggestion:

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Talk Talk – Does Caroline Know?

Mention ‘Caroline, No’ and I can’t resist posting this:

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Kaiser Chiefs – Caroline, Yes

Bet you all thought I was going to post some Quo then, didn’t you?

Nah.

Oh wait, what’s this?

God Only Knows how utterly predictable I am.

Although it does mean I can post this….

A change of pace now, and here’s Jules from Music From Magazines who I think now feels obliged to suggest something by Lambchop every time:

“‘The Book I Haven’t Read’ (Live Version) from a tour CD titled Pet Sounds suck” by Lambchop.”

This, then, would be one them there rarities I mentioned earlier:

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Lambchop – The Book I Haven’t Read (Live Version)

Next up is BabyLotti:

“I’ve got to link to the best cover of one of The Beach Boys’ songs I’ve ever heard, Don’t worry baby by Ronnie Spector from the She Talks To Rainbows EP. Produced by no less than Joey Ramone”

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Ronnie Spector – Don’t Worry Baby

It’s pretty hard to top that, to be fair, so let’s move on to a new batch of songs, and here’s all the God-bothering suggestions you came up with.

First out of the bag is Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“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.

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Adonis – No Way Back

The rest of you stick to referencing songs with ‘God’ in the title, so let’s work our way through them.

First up, a song which we featured a cover by Tricky of back on The Chain #37. Nevertheless, it’s the original version suggested by Martin of New Amusements so it’s in:

“Going the God route, with ‘Dear God’ by XTC…” 

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XTC – Dear God

“…and…” Whoa there, Martin! We’ve not finished with the songs that have God in the title.

First, we’re going back to The Swede for his second suggestion of the week, “…another divine link of a slightly more irreverent nature…” as he quite rightly puts it:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – God Gave Us Life

If any of our overseas readers would like to know who any of the people mentioned in that song are, feel free to email me, or, preferably, Google them.

Time to welcome aboard the latest member of The Chain Gang now, so Ladies and Gentleman, please click your pickaxes together and give a warm welcome to C from Sun Dried Sparrows:

“‘God Only Knows’ made me think of God, not something I do very often, for I am faithless. And then I thought of….”:

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Faithless – God Is A DJ

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…’.”

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Antennas To Heaven

Remember when I said there was over three and a half hours worth of tunes this week? Well that’s almost twenty minutes of them, right there. I’d pop the kettle on if I were you.

Ok, so if we’re on songs that feature God in the title and feature an exclamation mark somewhere, then it would be terribly remiss of me not to post this:

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Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

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 no God,” he blasphemes, “so…”

Hold up, what did you just say?

“Sorry to disappoint you but there is no God…”

Thought so.

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).

Here’s the tune:

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Dick Gaughan – No Gods And Precious Few Heroes (Live)

Quite some time ago, or so it seems, I left GMFree hanging with their second suggestion, so it’s probably about time we went back and checked on them.

“I wanted to include The God Machine with the KLF cover ‘What Time is Love” but I don’t own a copy…”

You do now:

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The God Machine  – What Time is Love

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:

“…so will offer the equally heavy ‘She Said'”:

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The God Machine – She Said

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):

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TrUcKeR – God is a Dead Trucker Driving to Heaven

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.”

So, no jokes here. Just Miss Nina Simone.

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Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam

Now, here we are, linking to songs about God, and not one of you has suggested anything by the Reverend Cliff Richard yet. The closest we get is this, from Rol of My Top Ten:

OK, my two suggestions will be as follows…

1. A song with the following lyrics…

No it’s never too late to change your mind
Don’t step on snails, don’t climb in trees,
Love Cliff Richard but please don’t tease
It’s never too late to change your mind

Thereby giving you your Cliff Richard fix even if nobody suggests him this time. Cliff and God go together, after all.

That’s…”

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Argent – God Gave Rock And Roll To You

“…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:

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Giorgio Moroder – Son Of My Father

And so to Jesus, and, more specifically, to Martin of New Amusements again. Martin’s not the Messiah, but he knows another Martin who thinks they must be.

“And the son of God route with…”

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Martin Rossiter – I Must Be Jesus

“…because it’s ace.”

He’s right, you know.

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:

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Tori Amos – Father Lucifer

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:

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Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know

Which leads us nicely on to our third new member of the Chain Gang. Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please be upstanding and straighten out your natty suits with arrows on them for KC:

I’d like to suggest ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ by Danish wunderkind iceage and I’ll apologise for the use of the word wunderkind, that was how SWC described them to me.”

That’s the way to do things: if in doubt, blame SWC.

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Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite

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:

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Nickie Lee – The Ten Commandments Of Man

Okay, so having covered the ‘God’ aspect of ‘God Only Knows’, perhaps it’s time to focus on links to one of the other two words in the title, namely ‘Knows’. Here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense

“The Beach Boys tell us that ‘God Only Know’s, but Robert Plant asserts that ‘Heaven Knows’ (which is arguably the same thing?)”

Arguably, but it’s getting late.

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Robert Plant – Heaven Knows

Now as a die-hard fan of The Smiths, mention of a song title that starts with the words “Heaven Knows” sets by clogged up heart beating a little bit faster, for it gives me an excuse to post this:

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Sandie Shaw – Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now

Ha ha, fooled you!

Sorry, Rigid, you were saying?

“Marillion then confirm the original statement by saying…”

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Marillion – He Knows You Know

Time to dust off my Chain Catchphrase. Well, if you’re suggesting that, then – altogether now – I’m suggesting this:

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Goldie Lookin Chain – You Knows I Loves You

Moving swiftly on, a couple of you, taking the Boys from The Beach Boys, decided to flip it over to the fairer sex. Here’s George:

“I was going to suggest ‘Girls Girls Girls’ by Sailor but I changed my mind….”

Good job you did, for I’d definitely have to disqualify that one, as it featured in The Chain #35

So, have another go: “…going from Boys to Girls, and The Moments song ‘Girls'”.

Now, every version of that song that I could find credits it to The Moments & The Whatnauts, so I’m hoping this is the tune you were after:

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The Moments & The Whatnauts – Girls

And here’s SWC with an actual, proper suggestion, and it’s no coincidence that I first heard this song because of a post on When You Can’t Remember Anything:

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Girls – Vomit

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….” 

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Duran Duran – The Wild Boys

“…or…”

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Wham! – Bad Boys

“…(I am of a certain age)…”

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.

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Sabrina – Boys (Summertime Love)

Quick, somebody else suggest something. GMFree, you must have a few hundred more up your sleeve, surely?

“Thinking about a link to Beach and Boys lead me to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by The Cure included on Standing On a Beach comp, along with the b-side ‘The Exploding Boy’.”

I’ve warned you about this already….

I’ll pick the more unknown one of those two, which featured on the B-Side of the band’s wonderful “In Between Days” single:

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The Cure – The Exploding Boy

Which leads us nicely on to our last cluster of tunes, which relate to the Beach in The Beach Boys. Here’s George for his final suggestion:

“…from Beach to Sand, and…”

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Giant Sand – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

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:

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Baby Bird – Aluminium Beach

Over to SWC for his second suggestion now:

“For the beach link I’m going to say ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints as it’s on the soundtrack to the film ‘The Beach’.”

And because it’s ace, as Rol and Martin might say. (Because it is.)

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All Saints – Pure Shores

Let’s see what else Alyson has conjured up on the beach theme next:

“The other song that came to mind straight away was this one, pure cheese…from back in the early ’70s when this kind of thing was all over the airwaves!”

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The First Class – Beach Baby

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:

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Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday

Did you spot it, readers?

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, beaches.

This, then, The Robster’s final suggestion:

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Kirsty MacColl – He’s On The Beach

Isn’t that ace too? We went through a phase a while ago of having a record by Kirsty pretty much every week on the Chain, but that’s the first time she’s featured in ages. Sort it out folks.

And from an artist who used to feature regularly to the band I was surprised has never featured before, so many thanks to abramson60 for rectifying that with this absolute belter:

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Ramones – Rockaway Beach

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…” 

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41. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach

Congratulations, KC! Points to the New Girl! The rest of you: hang your heads in shame, she’s tucked you all right up there.

So, all that leaves me to do is to thank you all again for the love you’ve shown The Chain, for your awesome (and ace) suggestions, and to ask you to do it all over again.

Your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Echo Beach” by Martha and The Muffins, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

More soon.

The Chain #31

Okay, okay, I’m a little later than usual. My apologies. I seem to have developed some kind of Chain Tourette’s Syndrome this week, incapable of resisting posting an additional link or splurging out another suggestion. You’ll see.

Last week we ended with “Live Forever” by Oasis, and it’s fair to say the Mancunian siblings caused quite the difference in opinions between you, with some voicing “By and large and on the whole, all things considered… Oasis can piss off” and others “Can I start by saying that I bloody love Oasis?”

As usual, suggestions came from one of several broad categories, but where to start?

At the beginning, seems as good a place as any. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area to kick things off:

“Johnny Marr springs to mind (shared manager, guitar given by Johnny to Noel on which he wrote that song I think). Johnny Marr’s solo song ‘Upstarts’ from a couple of years ago was splendid, a comeback. And even though I don’t much like ’em, Oasis were upstarts for a while.”

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Johnny Marr – Upstarts

You can add the fact that Noel Gallagher joined Johnny on stage when I saw him at the Brixton Academy last year to that list of connections too, if you like.

Let’s use collaborations as the starting point to kick on with, and a second suggestion from Swiss Adam:

“Oasis recorded a song with another Johnny. Johnny Depp. Who was attached to Vanessa Paradis who had a hit with the strangely alright ‘Joe Le Taxi’.”

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Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Those of you who read the Comments section will know that prompted a big fat “Did they??” from Yours Truly. In fact, it turns out everyone’s favourite begrudgingly apologetic dog smuggler recorded with them twice, on “Fade In-Out” from “Be Here Now”, and on “Fade Away (Warchild Version)” from the 1995 “Help!” compilation album. In fact, anything with the word “Fade” in the title, and Depp was all over it like a tramp on chips.

He also, of course, plays guitar on this:

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Shane MacGowan & the Popes – That Woman’s Got Me Drinking

But I digress; back to Swiss Adam for his hat-trick of collaboration suggestions (even though his first one wasn’t really one):

“John Squire played with the Burnage numpties at Knebworth. And John Squire was in the Stone Roses without whom Oasis would never have existed. They could also never have written anything as trippy and light as Elephant Stone.”

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The Stone Roses – Elephant Stone

Continuing the theme, let’s shift from people who have played with Oasis, to acts that have featured one of the band (okay, let’s face it, Liam or Noel). Over to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Live Forever is considered by many as Liam’s greatest vocal recording. Although that’s harsh on ‘Little James’. Anyway Liam also contributes vocals to Echo and the Bunnymen’s wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. The irony of that was probably lost in him.”

Wonderful is damning this record with faint praise; I often dread a band I love reforming and releasing their new material, but Echo & The Bunnymen proved the exception to the rule with this:

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

And of course, with “Forever” in the title, we have a double-linker! We’ll come back to more with a similar (okay, identical) link later on.

The mere mention of Liam gives me the opportunity to post this, from the “Live Forever” Britpop documentary, my favourite ever interview clip involving him, where he is asked if he feels he has an androgynous quality about him:

Anyway, another suggestion from me, this time featuring the other one-eyebrowed wonder. Noel Gallagher teamed up with The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando to record – but never officially release (hence the absence of a proper sleeve and the somewhat shonky sound quality) – this:

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Noel Gallagher & Evan Dando – Purple Parallelogram

What? There were people in Oasis other than Liam and Noel you say? Over to Rigid Digit from Stuff and Nonsense:

“Oasis’ bass player Paul McGuigan co-authored (with Paolo Hewitt) a book called ‘The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw’ about ex Reading and Cardiff City player Robin Friday.

A picture of Robin Friday “flicking the V” at the Luton Town goalkeeper was used on the cover of the Super Furry Animals ‘The Man Don’t Give A F**k'”

He certainly was:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

And, since I’m going to see them next Friday at The Roundhouse perform not only their brilliant debut album “Fuzzy Logic” but also their even better follow-up album “Radiator”, here’s a bonus, a tune I’ve posted before, their epic 22:30 minute long live version from the Hammersmith Apollo, complete with Cian Ciaran’s techno wig out section:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give a Fuck (Live Hammersmith Apollo)

Before I start posting nothing but Super Furry Animals records, it’s time for The Beard to perform an intervention:

“Oasis’ touring keyboardist was Jay Darlington from Britpop no-marks Kula Shaker [Don’t worry folks, he’s not going there]. Their lead singer Crispin Mills was the son of actress Hayley Mills. She starred in the film ‘Tiger Bay’ (alongside, I think, Sir John Mills?) [Correct!]. ‘Tiger Bay’ is also the name of Saint Etienne’s third album. ‘Like A Motorway’ from this album, please.”

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Saint Etienne – Like A Motorway

As usual, competition has been hot this week to come up with the Worst Record of the Week, and here’s The Great Gog with the first, which not only links to the Gallagher brothers, but also to the football team mentioned in The Official Chain link which led us here:

“…the brothers Gallagher support a certain team who are still in the Champions League (sorry, couldn’t resist!)…[*cough* 2-0, 2nd October 2016]…so, the ditty supposedly sung by the early ’70’s City squad, “The Boys In Blue” – although I can’t imagine that the likes of Franny Lee would have been that good at holding a tune.”

No need to imagine, GG, here they are, and let’s just say Franny was no Ossie Ardiles, either on the pitch or in the studio:

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Manchester City FC – Boys in Blue

I’ll be honest, I only posted that so I could bring your attention to the song-writing credits, which will probably seem familiar to many of you. Yes, Godley, Crème and Gouldman – three fifths of 10cc. The muso-nerds amongst you will know that 10cc get their name from the average male ejaculate. 10cc formed in 1972, the same year as “Boys in Blue” was released. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but you don’t need me to do it, you can fill in the wanks blanks.

Anyway, back to you GG:

“Also, there is of course, “Blue Moon” – of which there have been many versions, but as an early contender for Worst Song Of The Week, I’ll plump for Showaddywaddy’s version.”

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Showaddywaddy – Blue Moon

You have to feel a bit sorry for Showaddywaddy, surely the most unintentional casualty of the whole Operation Yew tree thing, for who amongst us didn’t used  to enjoy saying their name in the voice of a certain, dead, disgraced, BBC DJ, TV presenter and paedophile? And now even that simple joy has been taken away from us. I bet Eric Bristow does that impression still. (See, I’m nothing if not topical!)

Something a little more straight forward and less contentious next: here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Until I come up with something obscure I’ll go for an obvious one: ‘Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Mulduar’.”

As it happens, CC wasn’t the only one to suggest this record; step forward Kuttowski from A few good times in my life:

“The first thing that came on my mind was a song by Maria Muldaur. Midnight At The Oasis is one of these songs that accompanied me during the last decades. I really can’t explain why I can’t get this little folk/jazz tune out of my mind. Probably because it is just a good song.”

And here it is:

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Maria Muldaur – Midnight At The Oasis

Now, the more astute among you will have noticed a couple of references to Liam and Noel Gallagher so far. Here’s George to explain the link between these two fine gentlemen with the same surname:

“Oasis had the Gallagher brothers in them. And there are a plethora of bands that have brothers , so I will suggest Creedence Clearwater Revival (who featured two Fogertys) and ‘Born On The Bayou’.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou

Oooh- bands with siblings in them, can I play? Please pwetty please?

It seems to me that Scotland has more than its’ fair share of bloody marvellous musical talent, and quite a few music bloggers too, many of whom visit these pages, so this one’s for you, a much overlooked (until that bloody awful musical came out a few years ago; other than featuring the music of The Proclaimers, it has little to recommend it) and rather lovely tune:

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The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith

And, well, if we’re going to have one Scottish band with a couple of brothers called Reid, we’d better have the other one too (PS. Neil Reid was not one of them):

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Cherry Came Too

Okay. Brace yourself. Here’s George with the winner of this week’s Worst Record of the Week award.

“Going from the Gallagher Brother to two sisters, those two in the Cheeky Girls (one of them married Lembit Opik) and, having consulted with my partner, their most famous song is called Cheeky Song, which I’ve just played. It’s rubbish.”

I do love the way that George always pretends not to know anything about his suggestions for Worst Record of The Week and tries to shift the blame over to his other half. We all know the truth, George, you’re fooling nobody.

Thank god neither of you have heard of Jedward, s’all I can say.

Oh, and a slight correction; Lembit Opik didn’t marry one of the Cheeky Girls, they were engaged but split up in 2008 after a “difficult period” in the relationship, which I think we can interpret as meaning “when he slept with the wrong sister”.

So, here’s what I’m sure will be the least clicked link of the week. I, on the other hand have had to listen to that more times when writing this blog than I had ever had the misfortune to hear it before (Twice).

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The Cheeky Girls – Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)

Look! There’s a Christmas Remix!! If you’re all very good boys and girls, I’ll see if I can find that and post it nearer the 25th. I bet it has some sleigh bells and probably a joke about pulling a Christmas Cracker.

Let’s get out of here, and have some simple songs which link to the word “Live”, the word “Forever”, or some derivative of either.

Time, then, to give the customary very warm Chain Gang welcome to first time contributor Martin from New Amusements (is that a Gene reference I espy, Martin…?):

“I’m going with living forever… having tinkered with synonyms (eternal and immortal) and come to unsatisfactory dead ends (anything by, er, Eternal, and Immortals by Fall Out Boy), I have instead decided to opt for the words “Electric word, life. It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time.”

In other words, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. Doubly fitting, as those Gallagher boys have been known to go crazy on the odd occasion…”

A classy suggestion, and just what the Doctor order after George let those pesky cheeky-ettes in:

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Prince & The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy

Whilst we’re on lyrical references, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“Oasis claim they’re gonna live forever. Irene Cara claimed likewise on “Fame”. To be fair to all involved, they’re not wrong *yet*.”

There’s still another month left of 2016, Alex. Plenty of time yet.

On the day or so before I write The Chain, I upload all of the songs onto a playlist on my iPod, and give them a listen as I commute to and from work, the idea being that a) I can check all of the mp3s sound okay, b) can get a rough idea of the running order, and c) hope I can think of something interesting or amusing to write about each tune. As I got to off the bus and walked to the office this morning, this tune came on:

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Irene Cara – Fame

I have to say, it put me in a really good mood for the start of the day. You should try it. The only disappointing thing about it was that when I got to the office, not one person was wearing a leotard or leggings, Doris wasn’t squawking “Hi Fidelity” by the water cooler, nor was Bruno attempting to play the photocopier like a piano. Still, can’t have everything.

Back, now, to The Great Gog, who before he started regaling us with Manchester City related awfulness, did actually suggest this:

“My first thought was to suggest another song with the words ‘live’ and ‘forever’ in the title: OMD – ‘(Forever) Live And Die’.”

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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Forever Live and Die

Next, as Mark Morrison almost once said, it’s the Return of the Badger:

“But having gone down the forever route…other things can be forever as well. Like Polymers according to Future of the Left….”

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Future of the Left – Polymers Are Forever

“…and fucking if you listen to Babyshambles.” Which I don’t as a rule, but then I’ve listened to The Cheeky Girls twice, I may as well give Babyshambles a whirl:

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Babyshambles – Fuck Forever

Remember earlier we were talking about Oasis records that Johnny Depp had played on? Well here’s fun: that Warchild version of “Fade Away” also featured one time Pete Doherty muse Kate Moss giving it the full Linda McCartey on tambourine. What are the odds, eh?

Here’s George, who doesn’t seem even remotely apologetic for making me/us listen to The Cheeky Girls:

“…on the forever link, what about ‘Forever Came Today’ by Diana Ross and The Supremes?”

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Diana Ross & The Supremes – Forever Came Today

Time for some input from the fairer sex: here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“Ok so The Cheeky Girls song may get the prize for the worst record of the week [there’s no “may” about it, it does] but here is another contender. “Forever and Ever” by that hirsute Greek, Demis Roussos. I always thought Neil Diamond (my choice from last week) was a very hirsute man back in the day with all that exposed chest hair, but nothing on Mr Roussos. Come to think of it the Gallagher Brothers are quite hirsute in the eyebrow department, them having only one an’ all. A double-link and a pattern forming here for me relating to hairy men!”

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Demis Roussos – Forever and Ever

Next to return for a second, and indeed a third, suggestion is kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a live album by Bob Marley from back in 1980. So I suggest Burnin’ and Lootin’”

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – Burnin’ and Lootin’

More from Kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a documentary about the rise and fall of Brit Pop from the mid 90’s to their end. Pulp’s Common People with it’s wonderful lyrics became a signature to Brit Pop.”

Indeed, to my mind the anthem of Britpop, and a song kept from reaching Number One by Robson and Jerome, who also kept Oasis’s “Wonderwall” from the top slot.

Here’s the full length version from “Different Class”:

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Pulp – Common People

Time to hand over to Rol from My Top Ten for his musings of the week:

“First thought: Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?

Which, if the question referred to the Oasis song, would lead to a resounding “Not me!” I appreciate that some people might feel the same about Queen, but quite frankly they would be, at best, misguided.”

I told you Oasis divided opinions, didn’t I?

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Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever

I’m not sure if it’s distasteful, ironic or entirely appropriate that this is posted just as we pass the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death, but since I know Rol is a big fan of Queen (as opposed to a fan of big queens) I’ll go with the latter.

“‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ comes from the soundtrack of the movie Highlander, which leads me naturally to a lovely early Billy Joel song called ‘Summer, Highland Falls.’ Hey, if we can show Neil Diamond love, Billy must get his too.”

A debate for another day, I think, but certainly one I’ll be backing you up on (up to a point):

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Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls

Now, amongst that, you mentioned Neil Diamond, didn’t you? Over to Charity Chic again:

“The by now obligatory Neil Diamond moment – ‘Forever in Blue Jeans'”:

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Neil Diamond – Forever in Blue Jeans

Phenomenal bit of work there, artist responsible for the design of the single sleeve.

“What’s next on the list?”

“Something called “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond. Any ideas?”

“How about we just stick his face on some denim?”

“Perfect. Fancy a pint?”

Now this song reminds me of someone, a former flatmate of mine and Hel’s. This was his favourite record by Diamond. I mean, it’s okay but it’s no “I Am…I Said”, is it? Hell, it’s not even “Cracklin’ Rosie” or “Beautiful Noise”. This is one of the perils of house-sharing these days; you can interview them as much as you like, but you never know what people are really like until they move in. This guy was priceless.

He survived on a diet of pizza and pasta on alternating days, then tried to take the piss out of me for eating liking foreign food because I was eating Mexican one evening. His idea of eating pasta was to boil some water, add pasta, drain then add nothing but tomato ketchup. Once, he realised he had put too much water in the saucepan, so decided to empty some out – into the kitchen bin, rather than into the sink. He would eat packets of crisps and just drop the empty packets on the floor. We once found a half devoured bag of Doritos next to the toilet. A toilet which he refused to lift the seat of when he peed, and which he refused to flush before he left to go to work (after we had) of a morning, leaving a gorgeous odour to greet the first person home. He made several unwelcome passes at Hel, and made up an entirely fictitious girlfriend who he claimed worked on a leading TV soap opera, even though we did know someone who worked on the same show who categorically told us the girl didn’t exist. Oh, and he did a runner from the house in the middle of the day when we were at work, leaving me and Hel to cover his share of the household bills, and I suspect, liberating a large chunk of my vinyl – including all of The Smiths original Rough Trade album releases – as he went.

All of which might just about be forgivable were it not for one thing: he liked Kasabian.

Every possible opportunity he had, he would bang on about how awesome they were, and when one of their albums, I forget which, the one where they try and sound like Oasis meets the Stones meets “Rocks”-era Primal Scream probably, like that narrows it down, was voted Album of the Year by Q magazine, he bought a copy (of the magazine), and kept leaving it around the house, open at the relevant page, like we were going to go “Oh, well if Q says it’s the Album of the Year….”

And if it wasn’t Kasabian, it was bloody Mumford & Sons. I rest my case.

I mention all of this now, because one day he burst into the house, breathless with excitement, gushing “Jez…Jez…have you heard of Longpigs? Best…Britpop band…ever!”

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Longpigs first album, “The Sun is Often Out”. And they gave us Richard Hawley, so for that we are of course grateful In fact, I can’t believe I’ve never posted anything by him – I’ll rectify that over the weekend.

But best Britpop band ever? C’mon…

Anyway, that leads me, in a very roundabout way indeed, to what I think is their finest moment. For if you do Live Forever, then surely it could be said that you go on and on…

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Longpigs – On and On

Ahem. Where were we?

Ah yes, back to Rol, I think:

“Final thought, on the subject of living forever (unless I have another thought)…

Ryan Adams (no B) – ‘Note To Self: Don’t Die’ …would be good advice for any budding immortals.”

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Ryan Adams – Note to Self Don’t Die

Another inadvertent double-linker there, as Mr B-less Adams also once covered Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, as did this lot:

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The Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

Remember when Worst Record of the Week used to be about posting the Cheesiest Record of the Week? Well, that would win, even if it’s deliberately so.

And, just take a look at that Radio 1 sticker that proudly adorns the front. It reads: “As First Heard on the Kevin Greening Show”. Surely I’m not alone in furrowing my brow and saying, “Sorry, who??” Perhaps his career was cut short precisely because it was his show that first played that.

Hang on, Rol’s thought of something else. Having convinced himself not to suggest something by Gallagher and Lyle, he came back with this:

“Oh, I just had a thought about the Gallagher & Lyle route that would lead to a semi-respectable song.

Gallagher & Lyle reminds me of Tate & Lyle.

Tate & Lyle make sugar.

So… Sugar – ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind'”

“Semi-respectable”?? That’s a fine record, and no mistake:

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Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind

“Please post the video so everyone can laugh at Bob Mould’s cardigan,” Rol concludes.

Okay, but I’m rather a partial to a nice cardy, so no sniggering:

Now, who haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

The B Side to ‘Live Forever’ was ‘Up in the Sky’ which is where according to Sugar you would find the City of Armenia.”

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Sugar – Armenia City in the Sky

…which is a cover of The Who track from “The Who Sell Out” of course. And Oasis covered The Who’s “My Generation” on their live album “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down”. This week, more than any, we seem to be going round in circles and finding additional links.

“Alternatively,” SWC continues, “the complete opposite of live forever would be dying young so we could have ‘All Die Young’ by much missed Smith Westerns.”

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Smith Westerns – All Die Young

Or, for that matter, this, from the second Blondie album I ever bought as a kid (after I got “Best of Blondie”, but before “Parallel Lines”):

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Blondie – Die Young Stay Pretty

And one more from SWC:

“Live Forever was apparently inspired by ‘Shine a Light’ by The Rolling Stones so we could have that.”

Sure could:

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The Rolling Stones – Shine a Light

Next up, its The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“I’ll make a simple jump from Oasis to fellow Creation recording artists Swervedriver – ‘Rave Down’ please!”

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Swervedriver – Rave Down

I had totally forgotten how good that is, like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Doves.

Last suggestion of the week, and I’ve deliberately kept this one back til last. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of The Robster from Is This the Life? to wrap things up:

“Pre-Oasis, Noel Gallagher was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets. Post-Oasis, he formed the High Flying Birds. Therefore I offer ‘Flying Like A Bird’ from Inspiral Carpets’ self-titled comeback album from 2014. I’d also like to dedicate it to their drummer Craig Gill who passed away last week.”

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Inspiral Carpets – Flying Like a Bird

On which poignant note, all that is left for me to do is the admin bit. Here’s the link to the next record in The Official Chain, an underwhelming link as is so often the case, but a great record:

“Oasis used a leisure centre in Swindon as inspiration for their band name. Also from Swindon were…”

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31. XTC – The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead

You know the drill by now; your suggestions for records that link to “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, along with a brief description as to how you got from one to the other, via the Comments section below.

See you next week, Chain Gang!

(More soon).

1985 And All That (May – July)

Let me make something perfectly clear: whilst 1985 was definitely a transitional year for me in terms of the sort of records I was buying, I certainly hadn’t yet cracked this thing called “cool” yet. This will become self-evident when you consider the next batch of 45s and 33s that found their way into my life and onto my turntable.

That said, given the idea behind this blog stems from the book and film “High Fidelity” it seems apt to start this section off with a single I bought which later popped up on the soundtrack to the latter.

220px-Walkingonsunshine Katrina & The Waves – Walking on Sunshine

How I wish I could say that I bought this identically-titled and much cooler tune from a couple of years earlier. But I didn’t. Ho hum. Forget I ever mentioned it.

In one of my earlier posts here, I talked about Andy’s Records, a semi-independent record store (there was a chain of about four shops dotted around East Anglia/East Midlands) which had a basement dedicated to second hand vinyl, and I find myself being drawn downstairs more and more often, sometimes spending hours flicking through the racks in the desperate search for some hidden nugget that some other poor fool had castaway.

Putting aside the term “hidden nugget” and its connotation of being linked to an unearthed gem for a moment, it was here that I picked up the next (non-Quo) album to be added to my growing collection, an album my brother had owned (yeh, that’s right: I know you’re reading this and if I’m going down I’m taking you with me!) and which I inexplicably decided I wanted a copy of too. And who can blame me? Oh yes, anyone else who ever heard “An Innocent Man” by Billy Joel could. For that’s what it was. In 1983, “An Innocent Man” was huge, spawning hit after hit after hit. Buying it at the time might be just about excusable, but two years later? I’m not so sure.

Anyway, rules is rules, so here’s a single from “An Innocent Man” which I have to admit I do still have a bit of a soft spot for:

51ozwZ1Ke-L Billy Joel – Tell Her About It

Actually, I’m being a bit disingenuous here: there are plenty of songs by Joel which I have a soft spot for, not least this, a song I hated at the time, but which became a firm favourite of the Friday Night Music Club, Hel and I often collapsing in fits of giggles after drunkenly squawking the line “children of thalidomide” into each other’s face (if we missed it, we would start the song again) – not that kids born with disabilities is in any way funny just…y’know, props to the guy for weaving that lyric into a hit record.

Andy’s Records also provided me with another album which I bought purely to fill in some gaps in my “classic rock” compendium, a compilation album called “Formula 30”. Check out the track listing here. If anyone can explain to me the concept behind the title of this album, I’d be delighted. The “30” clearly refers to the number of tracks, but the “Formula”? And the band names scrawled on a classroom blackboard? Are we equating classic rock with scientific theories…?

*Shrugs* I dunno…

Anyway, “Formula 30” gave me my first taste of a band that I would soon become moderately obsessed with, further proof (if proof were needed) that I definitely had not got the hang of this thing called “cool” yet:

R-903957-1176299751_jpeg Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing

I’m putting my love (there, I said it) of this record down to my burgeoning desire to better my guitar playing. By this point, I had become relatively competent (even if I do say so myself), and would spend hours upstairs trying to master every little lick, with varying degrees of success. My parents tell me that the moment I got home from school every day, I would race upstairs to get my fix, plug my guitar in, put a record on and play along at maximum volume. The record was my backing band, and I was the lead singer and guitarist, practicing my rock star foot-on-monitor poses for all I was worth. My apologies to the neighbours.

(Of course, any mention of “Sultans of Swing” starts the synapses in my brain sparking, and leads me inevitably to mention this lot. Glorious.)

But for every song on “Formula 30” by Dire Straits, Free or The Moody Blues that decreased my cool rating, there was one which added a gold star, and if you’ve taken the time to check out the album’s track-listing, you will have spotted which band who feature twice on it I can attribute two stars to:

R-903957-1176299751_jpeg Roxy Music – Virginia Plain

Seriously, in the canon of great debut singles, that must rate pretty highly.

And of course, noting the 11th track on the album (or Side Two, Track Three as vinyl-heads may prefer) I can’t let the chance to post this slide.

And the horror of some of the records I picked up in Andy’s Records doesn’t end with “Formula 30”. Oh no. Around this time, my mother commented that money seemed to burn a hole in my pocket: no sooner did I have some, than I was pleading for a lift into town so I could go browsing in Andy’s Records second hand emporium.  What other explanation, apart from a rush of blood to the head, or temporary insanity, can there be for the purchase of this album:

Genesis83 Genesis – That’s All

Yes, not content with having bought Phil Collins & Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover” a year earlier, I found myself parting with my hard-earned for this abomination. The only solace I can glean from this purchase is that at least I picked it up second-hand and so I wasn’t further lining the pocket of Mr Collins. (In 1992, Phil Collins was attributed with a quote that he would leave the country if Labour won the election. Questioned on this later, whilst neither confirming or denying he said it, Collins admitted that he certainly did not want most of his income taken. He said this from his home in the tax haven country of Switzerland. This album contains a song called “Illegal Alien”. Go figure. And let’s not forget him faxing his soon to be ex-wife over their impending divorce. What a guy.)

Think anything I’ve posted so far qualifies as the most embarrassing record I bought in this chunk of 1985? You’re wrong. Much worse was still to come.

But not just yet.

On to slightly more contemporary (for the time) records. Next up, less controversially titled than “Black Man Ray”, but no less baffling lyrically:

China-Crisis-King-In-A-Catholi-116069 China Crisis – King in a Catholic Style

When writing this post, I did some research into what this record is actually about. All I managed to find was this post on one of those song lyric websites:

“The song has such strong political overtones, although not as well executed as some bands for making political statements.
Still, fairly insightful lyrics, a catchy beat, what more can you ask?”

Yeh, thanks for that.

And just what is going on in that record sleeve? *Shrugs* I dunno…. (Have I got a new catchphrase here…?)

Next up, an album which came out in early 1985 but which I held off buying until now: “Songs From The Big Chair” by Tears for Fears. A couple of years earlier, they had been one of the bands that the cool kids were into. Of course, me being me, I arrived to the party late. Better known for huge singles “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, “Shout” and the frankly rather wonderful “Head Over Heels”, the next song was released at the arse-end of 1984, the first single to be lifted from the album, and is somewhat overlooked when compared with that list of smasheroos from the album:

Tears_for_Fears_Songs_from_the_Big_Chair Tears for Fears – Mother’s Talk

All funky bass and synth-stabs, I’m not sure it’s possible for a song to sound any more 80s than that.

Next this:

billy_idol__white_wedding Billy Idol -White Wedding

Seriously, you don’t need me to tell you about this record do you? Thought not.

The next one takes some explaining. Drum roll…for it is time for the award for the “Undisputed Worst Record of This Post”, which hands down goes to:

jimmy-nail-love-dont-live-here-anymore-virgin-2 Jimmy Nail – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

I know. What the fuck was I thinking? Well, I’m afraid I have no justification for this whatsoever. At the time I did, and it’s time for the obligatory Quo mention. At the time, I was under the impression that Rick Parfitt played guitar on the record. Now, as I am forced to admit I actually paid money for this soulless slaying of the Rose Royce classic, I can find no evidence to support this. Roger Taylor from Queen? He’s certainly there. But Parfitt? Well he’s in the video …soo…

Anyway, this is indicative of just how all-consuming my obsession with the Quo had become. If only there had been such things as Quo-patches (and not the sort I had sewn into my denim jacket) to help wean me off all things heads-down-no-nonsense-boogie-esque. Don’t worry, I snap out of it soon enough.

Now. An apology. The original intention of this blog was to a) chronicle every record I bought in the order that I bought them, and b) provide an anecdote related to the purchase of said record, where possible. Regular, patient readers (patients…?) will have noticed that this latter point has rather fallen by the wayside somewhat recently. Truth be told, much as I’d like to believe that everything I do will be of endless fascination to everyone else (I’m hoping you sense the tongue-firmly-in-cheek tone of that last statement), as I’ve worked my way through all of the records, I’ve realised that there simply aren’t as many funny things to tell you about as I had hoped. So, sorry that this has become a bit “and then I bought this…” recently.

1985, however, gives me plenty to tell you about. Or So Much Thing To Say, as Lenny Henry would quip. Not necessarily linked directly to record purchases, but still snapshots of where I was at at the time. Sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

See, 1985 sees the start and equally swift end to my career as a petty criminal. (I say end, but in fact I had two further run-ins with “the law”, once for riding pillion on a motorbike without a helmet, the other for singing as I walked down the fast lane of the A470 at 3am in the morning singing.)

First, some back info. In 1984, some of my mates from school had gone on a fortnight’s trip to Sweden with the school’s Canoe Club. (Every school had a Canoe Club, right…?). They had returned with tales of high jinx and hot girls, so when the Canoe Club announced they were going to do a similar trip to Norway in 1985, I signed up.

Shortly before the trip, a friend (who had best stay anonymous for legal reasons – let’s call him Pete) and I went into town to pick up a few provisions for our holiday. At this point, we had every intention of paying for them, but once in Boots the Chemist looking to purchase a battery for my pocket torch, Pete whispered in my ear “Nick it! Nick it!“. The next thing I knew, the battery was safely deposited in my pocket and we were skedaddling from the scene of the crime sharpish.

I know. Crime of the century, right? Eat your heart out Ronnie Biggs!

Flush from our successful pilfering debut, next on the shopping list was socks. Not just any socks, for this was the 1980s. Oh no. White socks were the order of the day. In fact, they were probably already unfashionable by 1985, but that was me, late again. And so to Littlewoods, an online vendor these days, but back then a reputable high street chain-store. Littlewoods was situated over two floors in Peterborough’s Queensgate arcade, the first floor of which offered several vantage points from which you could look down (and throw things) onto the shoppers below. One such spot was immediately outside Littlewoods.

Pete and I entered on the ground floor, collected the bounty that was a four-pack of gleaming white socks, before making our way upstairs, me via the escalator, Pete by way of the adjacent staircase. It was here, where I thought I could not be spotted, that the socks got dropped into my bag.

On exiting the shop, we stopped to lean nonchalantly against the railing, and it was then that over Pete’s shoulder I spotted a bloke who seemed to be trying to draw my attention to something without making it obvious he was doing so. Turning, I was confronted with two security guards, who launched into the “we have reason to believe you have items in your bag which you have not paid for” speech, and I was invited to accompany them to their office. They turned to Pete and told him that as he wasn’t actually with me at the point of theft, he was free to go, unless he wanted to come too, an offer which he politely declined before fucking right off. Cheers, mate.

Pete and I were actually supposed to meet his parents for lunch that day, about half an hour after I was nicked. He went, and had to spend the entire time pretending that we had got separated in the sprawling metropolis that is Peterborough, and he had no idea where I was. Had it happened now, of course, they would have just called my mobile (which would have been confiscated, and the police would assume that all the calls were from disappointed punters trying to work out where the stolen goods they’d ordered were).

Back in the store, meanwhile, I found myself standing like a naughty school boy (which of course was exactly what I was) in front of the manager. After a brief interrogation, wherein I apologised profusely for my moment of madness (copyright Richard Madeley, Winona Ryder et al) and offered to pay for the contraband (he declined), he instructed the security guards to call the police. He then left, leaving me sitting with my head in my hands, pretending to cry whilst peeking through my fingers to see if the security guard’s heart would melt at my histrionics. It didn’t of course: he remained with his hand on the door handle, as if I was likely to try and make a run for it.

The police duly arrived, about six of them – clearly they considered me to be a major catch – and proceeded to escort me through Queensgate, me surrounded by coppers, like a celebrity with his entourage and security. I was then bundled into the back of a police van and driven off to the local police station. Clearly they were making an example of me, and at the same time, scaring enough shit out of me to make sure I never went shop-lifting again. (It worked).

Once at the station, you have