Rant

When politicians try to be funny, chances are they’re trying to distract you from something they’d rather you didn’t see. They’d much rather you cringe with embarrassment – or God help you, laugh – than ask serious questions of them.

So, with the number of Coronavirus casualties approaching the 120,00 mark, but with the roll-out of the vaccines seemingly beginning to have an effect, the last thing that the Government wants is for us to either remember how badly they have handled the virus for the past twelve months, or start focussing on the utterly shitty deal they agreed to Get Brexit Done.

Which led to this recent, particularly excruciating exchange in the House of Commons:

The question mentions Weetabix so many times, I did wonder if this was like that time Chris Packham tried to crowbar as many Smiths references into his Springwatch links:

…a trick he repeated with Cure songs:

But I digress. The asking of the Weetabix question in itself raised so many questions: for one, where has this apparently nationwide discussion, about whether baked beans should be eaten with Weetabix, been (pun not intended) taking place? Do you know anyone who has even considered eating the two together, let alone anyone who has decided to let their bizarre breakfast proclivities become known to anyone other than themselves?

To be clear, baked beans have no place in the same bowl as Weetabix. Fruit? Yoghurt? Milk? All fine. But baked beans: no. They belong in just two positions at breakfast time: either on toast, or as part of a great British full breakfast, preferably next to the sausages which are, of course, acting as a dam to keep them away from the eggs.

The second question that clip raises is why this MP is asking the question in the House of Commons at all. Well, the MP in question is Phillip Hollobone (stop sniggering at the back, please), Conservative Member of Parliament for Kettering since 2005. The Weetabix factory is within his constituency, and is a massive employer, so it’s good that he’s raising the profile of one of the businesses within the area he represents. Let’s have a look at some of the other things he has voted for and against.

In March 2015, following an expenses scandal relating to the former peer Lord Hanningfield (he was convicted of false accounting and sent to prison) Hollobone was one of just 4 MPs who voted against a Bill to increase the powers of the House of Lords to penalise peers who had broken the law and expel the worst offenders.

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes “fit for human habitation”. Hollobone was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment but who also – coincidentally, I’m sure – personally derived an income from renting out property.

The Conservative Government position was that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.

Heaven forbid they should introduce laws which might make a large section of the population’s life just a teensy bit more bearable, just in case it might cost them a few quid.

In March 2018, he joined three other Conservative backbench MPs in filibustering for three-and-a-half hours to prevent a bill by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, which aimed to reverse private sector involvement in the NHS, being heard. Lucas was left with just 17 minutes to present her bill, which was subsequently shelved without a vote.

Now, why would anyone wish to prevent a bill aimed at preventing the glorious NHS from falling into the hands of the private sector being heard….?

So don’t be fooled by Hollobone’s attempt at introducing a bit of levity to proceedings; he has nobody but his own best interests at heart. Which makes me wonder: why raise this utterly fatuous topic at all?

Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but things haven’t exactly been going swimmingly since the Brexit deal was done. What many businesses are finding is that, contrary to PM Johnson et al‘s assurances that post-deal trading with the EU would continue almost exactly as it did when we were in the EU, what is actually happening is that many companies are now so bound up in red tape and paperwork that their businesses are grinding to a halt.

It’s very tempting to turn your back on the fishing community, tell them they got what they deserved by voting Leave, and that had they just dug a little deeper rather than accepting the bullshit, bluster and rhetoric, they perhaps would have voted differently. But not here. These people deserve our sympathy, not our chiding. Blame the people who lied, not those who believed the lies.

Unless we’re talking about that scarecrow that owns Wetherspoons, who can just suck it up (with apologies to his employees).

The other sector currently facing red-tape issues post-Brexit are musicians. The paperwork now involved in a UK band wishing to tour and perform in the EU has multiplied excessively, and needs to be completed for every border they wish to cross. It turns out that the EU offered exemptions to the UK for UK acts wishing to tour within the EU, but this offer was declined by the UK negotiating team, in favour of striking a deal for the fisheries, who they also, ultimately, sold down the river.

With the advent of streaming, many bands find that the most lucrative way for them to earn money these days is by touring and performing live. Obviously, with Covid-related travel restrictions in place it is hard to gauge the worth to the UK economy, but, as a marker, in 2018 the UK music industry was worth £5.2 billion to the UK economy. That would probably be even more if Take That paid their taxes.

Obviously, many of the losses the industry have incurred over the past twelve months are Covid-related – I have tickets for gigs which I’ve lost count of the amount of times have now been bumped or cancelled – but the prospect of their earnings being curbed post-Covid doesn’t bode well.

£5.2 billion to an already faltering economy is priceless. I mean, just think how much of that Dido Harding and the rest of the Tory cronies could be awarded by way of untendered contracts. I feel for them, I really do.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that many examples have emerged where businesses have been advised by the Government that the best way for them to continue to trade with the EU as they did pre-Brexit is to relocate their business to an EU country. This includes the financial industry, who we were so desperate to keep, above and beyond anything else.

I can’t help but wonder if similar advice has been given to Weetabix, and that a deal was struck that they wouldn’t go public with this on the condition that Hollobone raised the profile of the wheaty biscuit manufacturer by asking a question in Parliament. I have nothing to substantiate this, I’m just thinking out loud.

The third question is: is Jacob Rees Mogg so posh that he doesn’t even know that it’s Beans Means Heinz, not Heinz Means Beans? Whoever crafted, if that’s the right words, his response to the Weetabix question did, however, get the first part of the advertising slogan right by quoting this: “A million housewives every day pick up a can of beans and say…”

Which leads me to a record which I was reminded of when I first heard that exchange:

Any excuse, right?

The problem I have with Rees Mogg, apart from the obvious, is that he’s ruined a song for me. And it’s not even his fault. Well, it is, kind of, for being such a posh ghoul, but what I mean is that it’s not his fault that any appearance of his which crosses my radar makes me think of this description of him:

More soon.

The Chain #16

Evening Link Fans!

You know how I said I had a lot to get through last week? Well this week, even more so.

But before we get cracking, and to kill off any semblance of suspense, I’ll tell you that none of you – including me – picked the official record in The Chain. In fact none of you – including me – went down the same route as the person who picked the official one, which when you read it, will have you slapping yourself in the face and saying “Of course!!! Why didn’t I think of that!!”

First out of the traps, so to speak, this week was Charity Chic, proving once and for all why the name of this blog is very appropriate indeed, for I must admit, it was a song which I owned, albeit on a 90s compilation CD I’d picked up for something else entirely, but which also contained his suggestion:

“Dundee Unite fans despairingly sing “You’ve only got one shoe” to the socially deprived fans of Glaswegian clubs. When Gordon Strachan was manager of Celtic he was known as Chesney after a small red headed boy on the soap opera Coronation Street.  So The One and Only by Chesney Hawkes please Jez.  It’s bound to be the winner.”

Yes, folks. This is really happening:

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Chesney Hawkes – The One and Only

It’s okay. It’s safe to come out now. The be-moled one has gone.

But hot on his heels, here’s S-WC from When You Can’t Remember Anything, who not content with giving us two suggestions in his first week, goes two better by giving us four this week. So, deep breath, here we go:

Shoes were made for walking which immediately gives you ‘Fools Gold’….”

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The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

(and yes, the full 09:53 version. Of course, the full 09:53 version. Why would anyone want to listen to the short version..??)

“…But it also gives you Nancy Sinatra as well…”

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Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

“…As you walk in shoes you may well gaze down at them. Which is called Shoegaze. So perhaps ‘Sight of You’ by the Pale Saints.

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Pale Saints – Sight of You

“…Although ultimately if you have Kirsty singing about one pair of shoes you really need another point of view so you have to go with Fucked Up and ‘The Other Shoe’. Argument over.”

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Fucked Up – The Other Shoe

Moving swiftly on before I make really bad joke about that, here’s bagging area with more multiple suggestion mullarky, the third of which is my favourite link of the week:

“The Charlatans walked with no shoes on ‘Tellin’ Stories’…”

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The Charlatans – With No Shoes

“…Run DMC’s shoes were their Adidas…”

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Run DMC – My Adidas

“…Keith Richards once said ‘I don’t remember much about making Exile On Main Street but I do remember I had this really cool pair of snakeskin shoes’. “Happy” off that album is a blast.”

Yes. Yes, it is:

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The Rolling Stones – Happy

Here’s George:

“I was thinking of suggesting this: the Kirsty MacColl track comes from the album Tropical Brainstorm, and Typically Tropical did that single Barbados in 1975.”

This one..?

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Typically Tropical – Barbados

But before George has chance to flood me with multiple suggestions, can we give a warm Chain welcome to The Badger, who co-authors the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog with S-WC, who…erm…floods me with multiple suggestions:

Whilst my esteemed colleague S-WC is probably right about Fucked Up, he should consider this: Kirsty MacColl famously covered ‘A New England’ by Sir Billy Bragg. Billy Bragg also sang about Shoeburyness in the classic A13. So you could go there…”

And we will, for I once got Janice Long to play that for me on her late night Radio 2 show, kicking off – and I know you’ll find it hard to believe I could be behind such a thing – an hour of themed songs about roads:

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Billy Bragg – A13, Trunk Road To The Sea

“…Kirsty also sang on The Wonder Stuff’s ‘Welcome to the Cheap Seats’ from the ‘Never Loved Elvis’ album….”

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The Wonder Stuff – Welcome To The Cheap Seats

“…Elvis also featured in the title of a Cud album ‘Elvis Belt’. Which contained the classic ‘Only a Prawn in Whitby’.”

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Cud – Only (A Prawn in Whitby)

Moving on…no, wait…George hadn’t finished it seems…

“Then I thought of this: one of the other tracks from the Tropical Brainstorm album is “Não Esperando” which is Portuguese for No Waiting (and I didn’t have to look that up!), and the “waiting” bit leads to, yes, one of the 5 best songs ever recorded, Jesus Is Waiting by Al Green, the last track on the Call Me album, and 5-and-a-half-minutes of absolute genius.”

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Al Green – Jesus Is Waiting

Next up is Alex G, author of the rather fantastic We Will Have Salad who is kind enough to give my Copy and Paste skills a bit of a break by just suggesting the one song:

“What would you find “In These Shoes?”. If you were a shoemaker, probably a last. And Bob Last was the man behind the legendary late-70s indie label Fast Product, which in its brief existence gave us the debut singles by The Human League (the only reason I know the word “sericulture”), The Mekons, Dead Kennedys and Gang Of Four. Nice one, Bob. My pick: the original Fast Product version of “Damaged Goods” by Gang of Four, which Mr Last also produced. And which is great.”

Yes.Yes, it is:

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Gang of Four – Damaged Goods

And here’s Marie, who rather wonderfully adds an element of creative writing into her suggestion:

“I imagined the title of Kirsty’s “In These Shoes?” as a response to an invite to a Northern Soul All-Nighter. When asked, “What’s wrong with them?”, she might have answered, “Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes) (by Major Lance.)”

One of the things I love about running this post (I can’t really claim to write it), is that often I’ll be introduced to a record I’ve never heard before, and which I instantly love. There’s a couple of tunes up there I was unfamiliar with, but my favourite of those this week goes to:

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Major Lance – Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes)

Next, the return of another who I think we can now safely call a regular contributor round these parts. Here’s What’s It All About Alfie?

“This Chain could grow arms and legs, but it’s feet we’re interested in this week as feet live in shoes. A pair of shoes has two soles and following Marie’s thinking, how about Soul ll Soul with Keep On Movin’ (in these shoes) – a bit of a “lady” choice but gives The Chain balance perhaps?”

When this came out in 1989, my girlfriend at the time bloody loved it (in fact, we met because of it; she asked me to play it when I was DJ’ing one night, which I did, despite not being all that fond of it myself (No guitars, see..) The following week, I kept an eye out for her arrival, waited for her to get herself a drink and take up a spot kind of near the dancefloor, and then proceeded to play it for her again. Bingo! The oldest trick in the DJ’s Handbook.) but it wasn’t until a good few years later that the penny finally dropped with me about Soul II Soul and what an amazing record Club Classics Vol. One is:

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Soul II Soul (feat. Caron Wheeler) – Keep On Movin’

Three more to go, and here’s The Great Gog:

“I shall ignore all this talk of shoes and go with the fact that there is a chain of newsagents called McColl’s (yes, I know the spelling is ever so slightly different). Therefore I think that a song about a newsagent would be appropriate. I can think of no better such ditty (indeed I can think of no other, either) than In The Middle Of The Night from the debut album from Madness.” (Nope, me neither. The Jam’s “Man in a Corner Shop” is about the best I can come up with).

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Madness – In the Middle of the Night

Here’s The Swede, who picks up where George left off, linking to the title of the album from which “In These Shoes?” is taken:

“…‘Tropical Brainstorm’, which was co-produced by Dave Ruffy, drummer with The Ruts, one of the few groups of their time with the potential to rival The Clash in terms of passion and musical versatility. Certainly they were the only ‘punk’ band who got anywhere near The Clash when it came to reggae. ‘Give Youth a Chance’ is a good case in point.”

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The Ruts – Give Youth a Chance

Which brings us to the last of the suggestions from you guys and girls, and, since we started with a slice of cheese from Chesney, ending with another slice of cheese seems appropriate. I’ll let Kay explain:

“My suggestion is Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Just the thought of Kevin Bacon dancing angrily in a warehouse brings a smile to my face. Can’t remember if he’s dancing to footloose or some other gem in the warehouse – but what a scene!”

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Kenny Loggins – Footloose

Ok, cheese is a little unkind. I went to see that in the cinema when it came out in 1984, bloody loved it then, and bloody loved hearing it again now.

And, so to my choice. And mine is nowhere near as clever as all of yours (give yourselves a hearty pat on the back for another excellent week of suggestions, by the way). I’m giving you some breathy camp electro-clash-iness:

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Tiga – Shoes

All that’s left for me to do then is spark off a load of face-palms with the big reveal as to the identity of the official link:

“The late Kirsty MacColl’s former husband Steve Lillywhite produced Peter Gabriel’s third eponymous album…”

Grrr. How did none of us think of that??

Anyway, here’s the record they chose from said album:

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16. Peter Gabriel – I Don’t Remember

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments box below, for songs that link to Peter Gabriel’s “I Don’t Remember”, along with an explanation as to how you got there too please!

See y’all same time next week.

By which I mean: more soon.

The One and Only

You will recall last week I started this thread, a companion piece to the “Same Title, Different Song”, only now focusing on songs where the title was so obscure no such confusion could arise.

Last week I chose PJ Harvey’s “Sheela-Na-Gig”, and those of you who read the comments will have spotted that I was kindly corrected by Alex G on my speculation that there were no other songs with the same title.

And he was bloody right as well, although having listened to the identically named track by Nurse With Wound I can’t say I’m tempted to check out any more of their stuff:

So, let’s try that again then, shall we?

I’m pretty confident on this one:

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Cud – Only (A Prawn in Whitby)

Lifted from their debut album “When In Rome, Kill Me” the song is based on a chance encounter between the band’s manager and one Steven Patrick Morrissey in the titular North Yorkshire seaside town. Legendary vegetarian Mozzer was supposedly eating a prawn during the encounter. Yes, just the one. Or only the one, perhaps I should say.

The band have subsequently gone on record to confirm it wasn’t Morrissey, but a Morrissey look-a-like.

What is rather charming about this track is that on the album sleeve, the title is accompanied by the words “Better make this one a single.”

Which they did, in 1989. Whilst it didn’t trouble your common or garden UK Singles Charts, it did claim 15th spot in that year’s John Peel’s Festive Fifty, which is better in my book anyway.

More soon.