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 ‚Äô88 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 ‚ÄúCities‚ÄĚ immediately brought forth [this]…It‚Äôs OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you‚Äôre 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‚Äôm just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is‚Ķ..:”

…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‚Ķ not going off ‚ÄúCities‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôm more of an ‚ÄėI Am, I Feel‚Äô kinda guy, as it goes, but that‚Äôs enough about why I can‚Äôt 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 ‚Äď namely the theme tune to children‚Äôs TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00‚Äôs).

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‚Äôve 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‚Ķ which is a Phobia‚Ķ which is a song by Flowered Up”

It sure is:

Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn‚Äôt 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‚Ķ”

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‚Ķ)

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôd be suggesting about 4 million songs and you‚Äôd hate me more than I‚Äôd 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 ‚Äėlots of rich people‚Äô‚Ķ.” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B‚Äôham, 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 F√©in 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äô 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: ‚Äėhome of Elvis and the ancient Greeks‚Äô”

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‚Ķ 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.

Omnishambles Un-United

*Sighs*

Oh, where to start?

I think I’ve banged on enough about the EU Referendum, for now at least.

But, before I stop…here’s an “at the time of writing” overview of¬†the¬†present situation:

On Sunday, Ian Duncan Smith appeared on the Andrew Marr show, and claimed that the Leave campaign had “never said” that the oft-cited ¬£350 million a week the UK would save by leaving the EU would be given to the NHS

Coincidentally, the official Leave campaign has now wiped almost its entire website from the internet¬†in an effort to stop any more of these pesky lies, which they definitely didn’t make, being uncovered.

Thing is, they forgot one teensy thing:

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Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies

Because over the weekend, this picture became one of the most shared images on social media platforms:

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Mmm-hmm. So, no. Course they didn’t promise that at all, did they?

Chancellor George Osbourne has announced that taxes will need to be raised and public services cut – still further –¬†as a result of the Referendum result. I’ll start clearing my desk.

Boris Johnson, surely the most high profile champion of the Leave campaign, couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the House of Commons for the first meeting of Parliament since the result.

Despite this, Rupert Murdoch has announced that Boris Johnson would be his preference for the new leader of the Conservative Party/Prime Minister, which is no surprise, given this pre-referendum quote from the Evening Standard:

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Meanwhile, reported incidents of racist abuse in the UK have increased¬†by 57% since Friday. Which is good, because that finally puts to bed the myth that¬†there were any¬†racist elements involved in some – not all – people’s¬†pro-Leave vote (sense the tone).

The Conservative Party is in utter disarray, divided on what to do next in the Brexit process, as Cameron stands down and the in-house fighting about who will succeed him starts. Ordinarily,¬†this would normally make me very happy indeed, a silver lining to the dark clouds that seem to hovering over the UK at the moment, like they think we’re¬†Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories.

Time for strong, effective opposition then. Nuh-huh.¬†For mere days after the result, the Labour Party decided to press the self-destruct button, firstly¬†with a whole raft of high profile resignations¬†¬†and the occasional sacking from the Shadow Cabinet,¬†followed by¬†an overwhelming¬†vote of no confidence against leader Jeremy Corbyn¬†by Labour MPs. Labour have decided that instead of¬†seizing the moment, they’d rather implode instead.

Harold Wilson was right, it seems: a week really is a long time in politics.

The main thrust, as far as I can see, for this uprising is that Labour MPs felt that Corbyn wasn’t high-profile enough in his backing of the Remain campaign, and to an extent, they have a point. But when the whole of the British media pretty much ignored him, preferring to focus on the likes of Cameron, Johnson and Farage instead, who lie better give much ‘better’ soundbites, what was he supposed to do?

Earlier this month, Angela Eagle, Labour MP – now one of the dissenting MPs arguing Corbyn should go for exactly the reasons I’ve just cited –¬†said this:

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I knew what his position was – that he thought there¬†EU was far from perfect, but felt the best way to work for change was from within, not outside, of it – and it seems to me that such a position would have resonated with a great many voters, had the media actually taken the time to report it. Which they didn’t because it wasn’t in their interests to do so.

But that’s all a smokescreen: Labour MPs have been dissatisfied with Corbyn from the moment he was voted in by the swelling ranks of the Labour Party not 12 months ago. They think that having a left-wing leader is a step away from the more central/right politics implemented by Tony Blair and his ilk which brought them to¬†power in 1997.

They seem to have missed the point that many Labour Party members voted for Corbyn for precisely the reason that he doesn’t play the game, that he doesn’t bow to the press, that¬†he offers an ideological alternative to the other main parties. And whilst I have seen quite a few high-profile Labour voters, with¬†admittedly heavy hearts, say that in the face of such opposition from within his own party, perhaps it is time for him to stand down, I’m not sure it’s that straight-forwards. I saw one poll earlier which indicated that if there was to be another Labour leadership vote, then Corbyn would still get 68% of the vote. Which would leave us, and him, almost exactly where he is now: in a totally unworkable position.

When the last Labour leadership vote happened, I made the point on these very pages that whilst I broadly backed him as a candidate, I worried that Corbyn might turn out to be another Michael Foot, who led the Labour Party from 1980 – 1983, just after Thatcher swept to power, a man much admired for his left-wing principles and rhetoric, but a man who was consistently derided by the media, and who turned out to be utterly unelectable. Which seems to be exactly where we are now.¬†I hate being right sometimes (that’s right with a small ‘r’, as in correct, as opposed to with a capital ‘R’, which isn’t).

talking-heads-road-to-nowhere-emi-4

Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

In a little under two weeks, the Chilcot Report, which for years has been investigating whether or not Blair took us into an illegal war in Iraq – a political rhetorical question if ever there was one –¬†is due to be published. One has to wonder about the wisdom of attempting to realign the party with Blair’s ideals right now.

Enough, already. No more. This is doing nothing for my blood pressure.

Luckily, I have something else to be pissed off about.

On Monday night, I, like many other English football fans, settled down to watch England play Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, currently being held in France.

I hadn’t expected England to win the tournament. I hadn’t expected them to progress any further than the quarter finals, if they even managed to get that far.

But I really¬†hadn’t expected what happened on Monday night to take place.

Whilst nobody thought the game was going to be easy, I, and many others, thought that on paper, England should progress: they have a team packed with young, fast, highly talented, highly paid players from what is supposedly the best league in the world, compared with Iceland, a team of part-timers and, with the odd exception, lower league players, from a country with a population roughly the same as Croyden, playing in a tournament for the very first time.

But we all know that saying about the game not being played on paper, right?

After 4 minutes, England took a 1-0 lead, and the nation seemed finally to be about to have something to collectively smile about.

Needless to say, it didn’t last long.

After 6 minutes, it was 1-1. After 18 minutes, it was 1-2. And so it stayed for the rest of the game, with the England players abjectly failing to play as if they’d ever met before, let alone having worked, played and trained together for the past month. It was a spineless,¬†humiliating¬†exit.

Iceland deserved to win. They played better, fought harder, wanted it more, had a system the players understood and knew how to implement – dammit, had a system! The opposite of the England team, in other words.

You have to question not just the tactical naivety of England Manager Roy Hodgson, but also his selection. It was apparent that with our full backs not managing to get up the pitch, that we had no width. Look to the bench for a winger to bring on then Рooops! None there.

Before the tournament, Hodgson had insisted that his squad selections would be based on who was in form: those who were, would be in, those who weren’t, would not. Which makes his decision – and I say this not because one is a former Spurs player and the other is a current Arsenal player – to leave winger Andros Townsend (on fire for Newcastle at the end of the season, despite them ultimately getting relegated) at home, and take Jack Wilshere, who had played just 141 minutes of competitive football all season, all the more inexplicable. And then to bring Wilshere on for the second half instead of, say, Adam Lallana, who’d been one of England’s best players up until then….grrrrrrrrr!!!

(I appreciate that one of the things that makes football such a beautiful game is that every fan has an opinion. Whilst we may not agree about the EU – although I know very many who visit here do, and thank you for all of your kind messages, by the way –¬†I bet there’s very little I’ve just written that any England fan disagrees with.)

Moments after the final whistle, England manager Roy Hodgson resigned. Although…since his contract expired at the end of England’s involvement in Euro 2016, I’m not sure it can technically be called a resignation – he was already out of the job.

In his remarkably quickly written ‘resignation’ speech – it seems the only tactic he was sure of was that he would be getting his coat after the final match – Hodgson said the team had been “fantastic” and had “done everything that was asked of them”. Which begs the question – what were they asked to do??

I wasn’t going to write about this. But then I had a text from my Dad, suggesting a song, which I couldn’t resist. The irony of it being by a Welsh woman is not lost on me:

bonnie_tyler-lost_in_france_s_1

Bonnie Tyler – Lost in France

Cheers, Dad.

I hope I’m not jinxing them, but good luck to Wales this Friday. You have my full support, and we all know how well that usually works out, right?

Hopefully, I won’t be posting “It’s a Heartache” come Friday night/Saturday morning.

More soon.

Early 80s Pop Perfection (kinda)

Ok, so perhaps I should have warned you that things would get worse before they got better. Perhaps I should rename this blog “The Austerity Measures”.

Anyway, it is now 1981. In the three years since the purchase of Darts, whilst I haven’t bought any more records, I’ve immersed myself in my Father’s record collection (predominantly Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson albums), as well as borrowing albums from my relatives (The¬†Beatles Red and Blue albums and The Life of Brian soundtrack. Read into that what you will). I’d also developed a taste for recording songs from the radio, and used to prepare a new tape each week, which I’d force¬†the family to listen to in the car as we drove to visit my grandparents on a Saturday afternoon.

But in 1981 I found my first two obsessions with pop music. The first: Shakin’ Stevens. With the benefit of hindsight, I can probably look back at my love for the snake-hipped Welshman as a continuation of my interest in those doo-woppy records a la Darts from the first post. But this was an obsession alright. I perfected the dance. I sat perched in front of the TV every Thursday waiting to hear his latest song on Top of the Pops (and, like it or not, he was¬†always on there). I even had a Shaky patch sewn into my Parka coat (but under the hood, so nobody could see it, until I stupidly hung it up by the hood and had the piss mercilessly ripped out of me by my mates at school).

The second: Bucks Fizz. I adored Making¬†Your Mind Up,¬†their Eurovision winner, so much that I sat hunched over my tape recorder, ready to pounce, until I’d filled up one entire¬†side of a C90 cassette¬†with¬†it just on repeat, over and over again, for 45 minutes. I must have driven my parents to distraction playing that. I think this was probably my first real awakening of “those” kind of thoughts, teenage boy hormones which had been bubbling below the surface since I first clapped eyes on Debbie Harry a couple of years earlier. And here were two blow-dried guys whipping the skirts off two blonde girls, to reveal much shorter skirts and a whole lot more leg. Frankly, you could keep Cheryl Baker, it was all about Jay Aston for me. That’s her¬†in the rather fetching white blouse on the record cover down there. Phewwww-ee, yes please mama.

These two songs feature in the same post as I bought them at the same time, from the same store, and were the first records I ever bought. Again, as with Darts, not a record store, but rather the record section of a supermarket my mother dragged me round a couple of times a month, called Rainbow, just outside Peterborough. Me wandering off to browse through the racks either here or in the newsagent nearby in the shopping arcade, John Menzies, if memory serves my correctly, became a regular occurrence from now on.

On this particular Saturday morning, I was desperate to buy something rather than just window shop as there was to be a disco, as they were still called back then, to be held that evening in the local village hall. Thrillingly, the disco was called “Jungle Boogie”; even more thrillingly it had been made known that the DJ would play any records that solitary¬†groovers such as I cared to bring¬†with them, and I was desperate for a piece of that action (see what I did there?). The two singles in today’s post were my weapons of choice.

Bear in mind 1981 was a time when great things were happening in the world of pop. Adam and the Ants were at the height of their powers. Human League’s “Dare” was about to hit the shops. The Specials had just had “Ghost Town” at Number One. There were so many records I could have bought that would have¬†made me appear¬†impossibly cool. Instead what do I buy? Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Fuckin’ Stevens, that’s what.

The night was memorable for two reasons: Natalie, an older girl from the secondary school I had just begun to attend, told me I was a pretty good dancer, and my heart swelled with pride, only to be punctured again moments later when I had to leave the village hall, unplayed 7″ singles tucked under my arm, after the DJ had refused to play them since they were “fucking shit, mate”.

See if you agree:

Green Door

Shakin’ Stevens – Green Door

andBucks Fizz

Bucks Fizz – Piece of the Action

PS¬† (1)¬†– I’ll admit it: I still think Piece of the Action is a cracking piece of early¬†80s pop, and it always brings a smile to my face when I hear it. Partly because of Natalie; mostly because of Jay. Oh Jay. Sigh.

PS (2) – Shaky, not so much.

More soon.