No prizes for guessing what song is going to feature tonight.
Yesterday it was announced that Charles Nicholas Hodges – the Chas of Chas & Dave – sadly passed away.
Regular readers will know that I’ve loved the duo since I was a kid, not just for their connections to my beloved Tottenham Hotspur FC, but for the run of fine, fun, verbally dextrous sing-a-long singles, especially those from the late 70s/early 80s. They never seemed to be off the TV in those days, appearing on every light entertainment show possible, from Tiswas to The Little & Large Show to Crackerjack (for which they also provided the theme tune).
When this came out in March 1982, I was 12 and I remember confiding to my best mate that should I ever have to break-up with a girlfriend, I’d simply quote the lyrics to this song to her. I still intend to.
There’s been a bit of a resurgence in their popularity over the past fifteen years, prompted largely by their appearance on 2003’s Jools Holland’s Hootenanny:
I was lucky enough to see them play three times, all after their revival in fortune. My favourite was the first time, when my mate Holmesy decided he wanted to go and see them play for his 30th birthday. The venue: London’s legendary 100 Club.
The booze flowed, the audience danced, swayed and sang, never with more heart than to tonight’s song.
If you have an hour spare, I’d totally recommend you watch this hour-long documentary, Last Orders, which came out in 2012 shortly after Dave announced he no longer wanted to tour, following the death of his wife:
Right, you can all stop checking the time, here it is, three weeks late, but that’s better than another super-long hiatus, surely?
More mega than a fleet of MegaBuses, yes! It’s time to check the buffering capabilities of your hardware and internet provider as we launch into the latest instalment of The Chain.
And what a selection we have for you this week!
But before we get started, some admin. The more observant of you will have spotted a new page link over there on the left entitled “The Chain – The Rules”. You’ll never guess what you see if you click that!
I mention this because there would have been a couple of disqualifications this week for (unintentional) breaches of the rules; luckily one of the transgressors realised and suggested an alternative link.
The easiest rule to break is suggesting a song which has already featured, and I appreciate with around 1000 songs having featured so far this can be somewhat tricky to keep up with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing up a definitive list of every song which has featured so far, but until I’ve got round to finishing that (and writing The actual Chain takes up a fair bit of time when I could be doing that), if you want to check your options are:
1) Read every previous edition of The Chain (bit time consuming that one)
2) Check the Tags down the left-hand side; if the act you wish to suggest is not listed there, then you’re fine (assuming I remembered to add them, of course). If it is listed, click their name and you’ll be taken to every page that a song by them has featured on and you can check that way.
3) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check and get back to you.
OK, admin over, let’s remind ourselves of the source record for this week:
The biggest source of linkage this week was the “Echo” part of the song title, so let’s get cracking with one of mine. Since an echo is something happening again, this seems to be an appropriate place to start:
So, who else provided echo-based suggestions? Well, here’s Alex G of the temporarily (I hope) dormant We Will Have Salad to provide not just a suggestion, but also a definition of “echo”, which saves me the bother of having to copy and paste something from an online dictionary to justify some of the other suggestions I’ve come up with:
“… an echo is an acoustic phenomenon caused by sound bouncing off walls. And ceilings. And other things. But it’s the first one which concerns us here, because it leads me to suggest….”
Unsurprisingly, several of you (well, five actually) proposed records by Echo & The Bunnymen, so we may as well get one of those out of the way next, and it’s over to Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame, with his second suggestion. (No, you haven’t blinked and missed his first, that’s coming in a while. It’s called editing.)
“Echo and the Bunnymen…sang ‘Silver (Tidal Wave)’, a beach connection there too.”
Yes indeed, that’s your first – of many, it has to be said – double linkers of the week right there. Points!
Next to one of several songs this week that I had never heard of before the suggestions came flooding in, this one courtesy of The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposed this by Cavern of Anti-Matter who, for the uninitiated (i.e. me), are Joe Dilworth and Tim Gane, formerly of Stereolab, possibly one of the most missed and most under-rated (if that’s not a contradiction, and if it is, I’m sure it’s one which would please them immensely) bands of the last twenty years or so:
I like that. A lot. Thanks for nudging it under my nose, Swede.
Which leads us quite nicely onto another suggestion by Alex G:
“When they recorded ‘Echo Beach’, Martha And The Muffins’ drummer was one Tim Gane. Another Tim Gane was more famously (not *much* more famously, I admit) the lead guitarist of McCarthy and Stereolab. [I just told them that – Ed] So I’ll go for….”
“…double link there if I’m not mistaken…” pleads Alyson. Hmmm…Echo, yes…Seas -> Beach…what do you reckon, Chain Gangers? Oh go on then: Points!
I first posted that song way back in August 2015, accompanied by a retelling of one of the many faux pas I’ve committed over the years. Since some of you may not have frequented these pages that long ago, indulge me for a moment whilst I relate this one, which took place circa 1984, as I waited for the school bus and found myself chatting to one of the “cool kids” at school. He liked cool music (i.e. not Quo) and during this conversation he extolled the virtues of ‘Seven Seas’. My response, a rather pathetic and, as it transpired, ill-judged, attempt to ingratiate myself, was to talk at length about the lead singer fire-eating on Top of the Pops and how impressive he was. I realised mid-flow that my conversation piece was attracting some quizzical looks. And that was because I had completely mis-heard him. When he had said ‘Seven Seas’, I had thought he had said this song title:
Not cool, just…not.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, here’s Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life with the scecond song this week that I’ve never heard before. Over to you Walter:
“They might be forgotten but this song is still worth to listen to sometimes…”
Actually, that was Walter’s second suggestion. His first was for an Echo & The Bunnymen track, and I think enough time has passed since the last one to allow me to post his, which needs no introduction:
Which leads us on to a very brief sub-category, those of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves. This is by far my favourite category of the week. You’ll see why. Julian from Music from Magazines suggested this, which probably doesn’t need any further explanation:
The Quo, there, demonstrating on the record sleeve their renowned empathy for the Black Power movement.
And that brings to an end that sub-category of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves.
You know what I haven’t said for a while? I haven’t said the words: “And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by *insert name of Chain Gang member here*“. I feel an overwhelming need to say it again. But not just yet. I’ll wait til I’m asked.
And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by Dirk from sexyloser with the closest we’ve had to a Showboating Suggestion so far:
“Nominated to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches back in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was Burundi’s coast fronting Lake Tanganyika: if you’ve never been there, you really have missed a treat, I can tell you!
So obviously the correct link can only be Echo & The Burundimen (yes, it’s the Bunnymen in disguise, but still I haven’t made that [name] up, just listen to McCulloch’s intro!) and ‘Zimbo’, the 1982 Shepton Mallet live version though!”
And that does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…
Except, you’ll recall that I mentioned five of you had suggested songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and so far we’ve only had four. Well, GMFree suggested their rather wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ but then ploughed through the entire history of suggestions in The Chain and retracted that on the grounds that it had featured back in #31 so I wouldn’t have been able to allow it. (Oh, and whilst I’m on songs I couldn’t allow – Lynchiefromab, if you check the Comments in the last Chain, you’ll see that I wasn’t sure if yours were suggestions or just recommendations; if the latter then, thank you, and you’re right, but if the former than I couldn’t allow either of them as they contravene rule No. 6: “Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re cleverer than that.” And I know that you are. Sorry!) However, GMFree did propose a different Echo & The Bunnymen track, a cover version, but suggested that I might post the original instead, since the performers have never featured in The Chain before.
In case you’ve no idea what Jules is blethering on about, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the best known stage name of Will Oldham, but he has also recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. As you know, I prefer it if there’s only one suggestion per person for the same band, but since these two versions are so different, and since they were recorded under different monikers, and since I allowed GMFree to suggest more than one tune by Steven Jones last week for the same reason, I guess I’ll have to let it slide this time.
Speaking of GMFree and Steven Jones:
“Mentioning Mr Jones is too easy on this occasion as Babybird was signed to the Echo label, instead I’ll just suggest one track from his 27th (!) album as Black Reindeer…available through Bandcamp.”
Now, I wouldn’t normally buy a track specifically for The Chain, preferring the suggester to provide me with a copy, but I was intrigued by that title so I downloaded that song from the band’s Bandcamp page, as recommended. And shortly afterwards, I got an email from Steven Jones which read: “Ooh a bit topical that purchase Sx”. Which was nice. So I’ll not complain about being out of pocket. This time.
You’d have to have had your head buried in the (beach) sand to not understand what he was referring to, and as it happens, this was not the only track which referenced the forthcoming apocalypse.
“‘Echo Beach’ puts me in mind of the 1959 film ‘On the Beach’, which depicts the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war. (Not a surprising image, considering the current state of affairs, I suppose.) The film stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel. Anyway, as I’ll use any excuse to post some black gospel quartet music, my selection is the 1950 ‘a capella’ version of…”
Well, bar that last little excursion, we appear to not only be in nuclear war related territory – cheerful! – but also Beach related, so let’s have some more of those. And since that last song contains the lyric “Hello New Order!”, it seems appropriate for us to go back and find out what Swiss Adam’s other suggestion was:
“‘Echo Beach’ takes me to the remixed version of Blue Monday from its b-side in ’83…”
So, having exhausted all of the suggestions about echoes, beaches and, of course, Nazis and impending nuclear doom, we’ll move onto something a lot nicer. Back to Martin who suggests this as a double linker:
Which leads me onto this, a track lifted from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time one of those tribute albums, which were all the rage once upon a time, and which could (typically) be a little on the patchy side (and this one really is patchy).
In case you’re wondering what that’s doing there, give it a listen partly as there’s an extra verse, not in the original, which links to Martin’s last choice, but mostly because it’s an utterly wigged-out mental cover version.
And whilst we’re still on chocolate cake, it’s about time I posted another clip:
Right, that’s Muffins pretty much covered, right?
Well, actually, not quite. Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:
“Muffin was a Mule and a Mule is sort of like an Ass… though very slightly different.” Which brings us to, rather rudely:
Let’s have some Echo Beach/Martha and the Muffins facts to raise the tone a little.
Fact One: Martha and the Muffins are Canadian.
“Plenty of Canadian bands/artist to choose from,” chips in Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense, “including: Rush (but who has time to listen to the whole of Side 1 of ‘2112’?), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. All too obvious, but this bunch of Canadian one-hit wonders…:”
“Did you know,” pipes up George, inadvertently providing Fact Two, “that Echo Beach has been voted the 35th greatest Canadian song of all time? The greatest song is the execrable song ‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian and Sylvia, which must surely get the Worst Song vote.”
Well, I’ll happily do that George, although you realise that would mean you’d have to agree the Chas & Dave record is better…? Along with two other songs yet to feature that we all know you’ll hate….?
Four strong winds, you say? Here’s four in varying levels of strength.
The ease and squeeze:
2. The Pant Ripper (a classic):
3. The Preposterously Executed:
and 4. The Accidental Decongestant:
Right, that’s…erm…got that out of my system. More factoids please!
Fact Three, courtesy of babylotti:
“‘Echo Beach’ was released in 1980 on DinDisc records, another record that was released in 1980 on Dindisc records, and one that I still have (okay, it was a re-release in 1980, but that’s the one I have) is…:
Before we get on to the final category, time for those two songs which George won’t like, the first of which is suggested by Alyson, and I think this one wins the award for Comment Showboat of the week (or have I already awarded that? I don’t know, I’m tired…). George, sorry, I was going to leave these two till last to make it easier for you to ignore them, but thematically they kind of need to be posted earlier.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s suggestion:
“Martha’s Vineyard is actually a small island off the State of Massachusetts. It faces out onto the Atlantic and it’s where they filmed ‘Jaws’. The fake shark they used for the movie was given the name Bruce.” Which leads us to:
And so on to the final category, songs which link to Martha. And we’ll start off with my own double-linker for the week.
There’s a well known phrase in certain communities: “Is he Arthur or Martha?”. Well, here’s an Arthur, Arthur Lee to be precise, and he and his band are going to sing a Love-Lee song which has an Echo/Repeat/Again link too. Points please!
“First thought – got Martha on my mind now so I’d like to offer one of those songs that surely everybody knows and surely everybody likes? What better time for an office clerk with a very boring job to go down to Echo Beach than during a heatwave, too?”
Next up on the oche is The Robster from Is This The Life? Now, a few weeks ago, Rob announced that he was thinking about stopping writing his blog as he was feeling devoid of inspiration and was just going through the motions. I’ve often felt the same about this place, and I know others in our little blogging community have too. You may not know that Rob lives not a million miles away from where I used to in South Wales, and I love his blog for it keeps me in touch with what’s going on down in and around my old stomping ground so I’m delighted that he’s decided – for now – to keep going, albeit with less frequent posts.
I mention all this not to put any unintentional pressure on him to carry on, but because having cut back on his posts he seems to have gone a bit stir crazy, suggesting “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group on the basis that Martha & The Muffins were an all-male band. Getting confused by that whole “Arthur or Martha” issue there, I think.
To be fair, Rob did correct himself almost immediately (with a little help from Alex G, who I can confirm is not a qualified doctor, but is a very keen enthusiast), and redeemed himself by suggesting this, another of the records I’d never heard before, and which I’m really quite pleased that I have now. And it’s a double pointer, featuring as it does a Martha and “two items you might see at a beach”:
Time for Abramson60 next, who…erm…echoes some of the sentiments raised earlier:
“Looks like things are getting worse and worse US of A side, can it really get any worse? My suggestion this week could well be aimed at that excuse for a human being, Trump. No need to explain the link?”
Nope, but this young lady certainly needs to wash her potty-mouth out with soap and water:
Another from Alex G now, who suggests “…a lovely song which is never played on the radio because if it was, everybody would stop what they were doing to listen, at a cost to the UK economy of several squillion pounds.”
I agree, it is a lovely song, although I suspect were it played more often, people would stop what they were doing to remember when – and I’m sorry to bring it up again (I’m not in the least bit sorry, as it goes) – this happened:
More from Rol next, who suggests this next song on the grounds that a) it has the word “Martha” in the title, b) it doesn’t have any other words in the title, and c) he “…can’t believe nobody’s suggested it yet…”
And the presidential links don’t end there, for there was also of course Martha Jefferson, wife to Thomas, who became 3rd President of The United States in 1801. Martha would have been the third First Lady, had she not rather inconveniently died in 1782. Anyway, this Martha leads me to this ground-breaking house record from 1986:
And the other is…well, Mrs GMFree was not alone in suggesting it, for it was also proposed by Rigid Digit (and I thought one other person too, but I’m buggered if I can spot who it was now. If you suggested it and I have omitted to credit you, make yourself known and I’ll amend this bit).
Which means that for the first time ever, we have two people correctly guessing the next record in The Official Chain, which, with the simple explanation of “From one Martha to another…” is this:
So to wrap things up, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Whenever that might be.
With the exception of our friends North of the Border, it’s a Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK this weekend, and from what I can gather, the weather is set to be uncharacteristically fine. No more perfect time to post a few more summer(y) records then, right?
The first one could easily have featured in the How To Do A Cover Version thread here, being a cover of a Vic Godard tune as it is (who knows, I may post the original and the other cover I own of it at some point). For now though, here’s Orange Juice:
Whatever happened to St Albans finest, Friendly Fires? Between 2008 and 2011, they seemed to be everywhere, every festival line-up had a mid-afternoon slot set aside for them and their brand of breathy alt-pop. Like this, for example:
Now a song which for those of you who follow The Chain thread we do here (and if you don’t, why not??), and specifically this weeks’ comments, will know that I, like Charity Chic, am unable to resist dedicating this to George:
And that’s why I never made it as a stand-up comedian.
The one Webb in question is Jimmy, the man responsible for such classics as “Galveston“, “Wichita Lineman” and “MacArthur Park“; the two Webbs are his sons, The Webb Brothers, and of course, bettering their father’s records is a tough ask. They’ve written a few decent songs, especially on their “Maroon” album. This one isn’t on that, and it’s okay I guess (and that’s why I never made it as a music critic either):
I have vague memories from when I was a kid of going on coach trips to the seaside, although I can’t recall quite who organised them (the scouts, possibly…?) or where we went (I imagine Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton, Skegness…all names so impossibly exotic as to make the mention of Margate pale in comparison). This next one tells the story of one such trip, of a young lad getting what I believe is called a knee-trembler behind the chalets. But it’s the description of the everyday beach life that really hits home here, which is only to be expected when you consider who its’ by:
To round things off for another week, here’s Super Furry Animals with some blissed out Welsh psych-rock loops and Beach Boys harmonies perfection lifted from their ninth studio album, “Dark Days/Light Years“:
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very short post – too short, so I’m told – in my “Which Reminds Me…” thread, about Kaiser Chiefs’ “Na Na Na Na Naa”.
That in turn has made me think about how songs with nonsensical titles have played quite a big part in the history of rock and pop, so I thought we’d have a look at some of them tonight.
But just like cafe’s feel obliged to write the words “Warning: Contents May Be Hot”, here’s an advance warning for you: this post contains songs of wildly varying quality. But that’s why you’re here, right? Right….?
So, let’s start with one of the greatest records ever:
Bears more than a passing similarity to his own “Tutti Frutti”, that is it…?
In 1986, presumably spurred on by his former Generation X frontman Billy Idol’s solo success, guitarist Bob “Derwood” Andrews formed Westworld. Named after the Yul Brinner movie, the band had two hit singles in 1987: a great one, “Sonic Boom Boy” which made Number 11 in the UK charts, and this not so great one, which made Number 37:
The follow-up single, “Where The Action Is” tanked even more, not even making the Top 40, and when their debut album met with a similarly indifferent response from the UK record buying public, the writing was on the wall for the band.
A few years ago, there was a rather wonderful sitcom on BBC3 called “Him and Her”. Starring Russell Tovey as Steve (the “Him”) and Sarah Solemani as Becky (the “Her”), a young couple living together in a flat where all of the action in the first three series’ took place. With able support from the likes of Joe Wilkinson, Camille Coduri and Kerry sister-of-Russell-Howard Howard, it’s a wonderfully understated show, with no laughter track or studio audience, full of awkward silences and knowing looks. If you haven’t ever seen, I would urge you to check out.
Here’s a clip:
I mention this now because the end credits had this playing over them:
“Him and Her” was written by Stefan Golaszewski, who some of you will know for being part of the comedy sketch group “Cowards”, along with the likes of Tim Key and Tom Basden. He also wrote the equally great “Mum” which is currently showing on BBC2 at 10:00pm on Friday nights, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re here reading this on a Friday night, right? Watch it, it’s great.
More TV related shenanigans now, and a tune which again is guaranteed to bring back some happy memories for those of us “of a certain age”:
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, when I was a kid in the 1970s, no Saturday morning was complete without watching The Banana Split Show, which would always be on at about 8am, whetting the appetite for the three and a bit hour feast of middle of the road, middle class niceness that was The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.
The Banana Splits were a fictional rock band comprised of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper (I wonder how he got his name….?) and Snorky, who were in essence, and sorry to shatter the illusion, four blokes in weird costumes.
Let’s not dwell to much on that one, eh? Instead, let me direct you this, a song which was just a bit too far ahead of the pack. Released in 1992, had it been three of four years later it would have been one of the great records of the Britpop era, by one of the most underrated acts, led by one of the most underrated musicians ever – Lawrence, formally of Felt, now of Go-Kart Mozart (unless he’s moved on again), then of Denim. As it was, it was largely, criminally, ignored by the majority of the Great British record buying public, the fools:
I’d hoped to be able to find their appearance on “Later…”, and it’s there on YouTube, but with even worse sound/video quality than that clip. It is rather amusing to read all the “This sounds like something from the 70s” slams in the Comments under that, written by people who really didn’t understand that that was the whole point.
Time for some more puppet-based fun now, but ignore what it says on the sleeve, and give credit where credit’s due:
Nope, you’re right. I can’t resist posting the video clip of that:
What’s not to love about that?
To some early 1980s German electro now, and a record which when I saw them perform it on Top of The Pops, the lead singer scared me like nothing else on that show had since Ron Mael had glowered down the camera lens in the 1970s:
Next to one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, cementing a place in my affections just after I’d grown bored of Shakin’ Stevens but before I’d discovered the joys of Status Quo, and, crucially, before I’d realised what a pretentious prick Sting was, and, even more crucially, before I’d ever seen him act.
From their 1980 album “Zenyatta Mondatta”, here’s:
And finally, you will have done very well to avoid knowing that the Euro 2016 tournament started tonight, with England’s first game on tomorrow. Now, there seems little point in me posting any football related songs – though I have loads – when you can go and pay Football and Music a visit, and find everything you ever wanted to hear, and quite a lot that you don’t (said with affection, I promise – the first comment I ever posted was on this website).
No, instead, I’m going to leave you with this song, because it mentions “Tottenham Hotspur, when they couldn’t get one in” in the lyrics.
It’s looking like there will be five Spurs players in England’s starting eleven tomorrow night. Some of them might even be lucky enough to get played in their preferred position.
I’ll be hoping that one of them, at least, manages to get one in.