Wind Yer Neck In, Wotsit Face

You probably know all of this already, but Sadiq Khan and Donald Trump are not exactly fans of each other’s work.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks in London on Saturday night, Khan, the Mayor of London, issued a statement which, amongst other things, contained the next two sentences, right next to each other, exactly as I have written them here:

“Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed.”

But cometh the hour cometh the orange buffoon let loose with a phone and a Twitter account, for soon Trump had tweeted this:

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Which isn’t quite what Khan had said, now is it?

Brace yourself, for I’m about to do something which I’ve never done before and am extremely unlikely to do again: I’m going to say something nice about Theresa May.

For earlier today, she said: “I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else – he’s doing a good job.”

Ok, that’s me being nice about her over. Because she had to be asked several times whether Trump had been right to criticise Khan, but she avoided the question on each occasion, which you have probably noticed she has rather a habit of doing (on the rare event where she allows herself to be placed in a position where people might ask her questions, that is). Only when the question was rephrased to ask whether there was anything which Trump could say which she would be prepared to criticise was her pro-Khan response teased from her.

Khan’s office, on the other hand, were a little more forthright in their response:

“He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police – including armed officers – on the streets.”

And Trump’s next move? This:

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In case you’re unclear, “MSM” isn’t Trump’s latest covefefe tiny handed typing error, it’s short-hand for “Mainstream Media”. So, in Trump’s mind, a) he was perfectly justified and correct to misinterpret Khan’s statement for his own nasty ends, b) that Khan had in some way back-tracked or climbed down from his first statement, and c) the mainstream media had somehow colluded with Khan to make it look like Trump had been wrong.

I started following Trump on Twitter a few months ago, because I couldn’t believe that some of the things I had read he had tweeted could possibly be true. Genuinely sorry to report that I’ve yet to read one that wasn’t.

And conversely, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that we can all read what he tweets and draw our own conclusions without the need for media, be it mainstream or otherwise, to spell it out for us. Since he seems to live in a bubble of constant amazement about things which are pretty obvious (“Nobody knew what a tough job being the President is….” – no Donald, we all knew that, it was just you that didn’t) where he has to have the simplest things explained to him by his advisors, it’s hardly surprising that he judges the rest of the world by his own stupid, ignorant standards.

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Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business

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David Bowie – Up The Hill Backwards

And you can jog on as well, Hopkins.

More soon.

The Chain #22

Evening Chain Gang!

So, so much to get through this week, so I’ll assume you all know what we do here, and will dive straight in.

Last week’s records was “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, and the suggestions for records that link to that came in thick and fast. Now, I know I swore off fiddling around with the order last week, but as it turned out, this week there were several suggestions which followed similar themes so I thought I’d try to group those together, interspersed with the remaining ones.

And so to kick things off this week, here’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow which just happened to be the first one I received:

“Louise Wener of Sleeper published an autobiography in 2010 entitled ‘Different For Girls’. ‘It’s Different For Girls’ is the title of a rather splendid Joe Jackson song.”

It most certainly is, and you need proof, here you are:

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Joe Jackson – It’s Different For Girls

Wener’s post-Sleeper career has largely been based upon her writing skills; not only has she written that aforementioned autobiography, but she’s written several works of fiction too. Which made me think of this record, which contains my favourite mop-top guitar riff:

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The Beatles – Paperback Writer

Having hit on the novel idea (see what I did there?) of featuring songs about authors, this one sprang to mind:

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Morrissey – Reader Meet Author

Don’t worry, it’s not all bout me this week! But “Reader Meet Author” leads us nicely on to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything‘s first nomination of the day:

“I once got stuck in a lift with Louise Wener AND the keyboardist from The Wannadies. There is no link here unless you want to post ‘Hit’ by The Wannadies, in all of its two minute brilliance?”

Of course I want to post that! It was going to feature in a future unrelated post, but I’m not adverse to posting the same song more than once, and I can always postpone that one:

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The Wannadies – Hit

Moving further away from Wener’s writing prowess and SWC’s stalker tendencies (I’m sure he’ll claim it was a work-related incident, though), here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“A sleeper is a train that transports you through the night – if you were to get a Midnight Train to Georgia like Gladys Knight and the Pips, chances are it would be a sleeper.”

Can’t fault your logic, there CC:

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Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia

Whenever I hear the name Gladys Knight & The Pips, I always think of Geordie adult comic Viz, to the snappily titled “The Viz Book of Crap Jokes: A Pitiful Array of Poor Quality Jokes from the pages of Viz” which I used to own but which seems to have got mislaid on one of my many house-moves over the years, and particularly to this, which young folks who’ve never had to use a public phone probably won’t understand:

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Now, can we all give a warm Chain Gang welcome to the first of many new contributors who’ve been in touch this week. Here, from his frankly quite wonderful blog Is This The Life? is The Robster:

“I was going to suggest It’s Different For Girls until Swede beat me to it. So instead I thought about Louise’s first novel ‘Goodnight Steve McQueen’ which led me to the Prefab Sprout album ‘Steve McQueen’. But I never liked Prefab Sprout (a heretical remark in some quarters, but I stand by it) [In which case, we’ll skip playing anything by them – Chain Ed]. “There was also a book she wrote called ‘Just For One Day’ about Britpop which is as good an excuse as you could ask for to include some Bowie.”

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David Bowie – Heroes

The Robster continues: “Then I went down the sleeping route: Sleep by Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be a good one, but you probably don’t want to post a 23-minute instrumental, do you?”

Challenge accepted!

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Sleep

“So I ended up plumping for The Dreaming by Kate Bush. ‘Cause you dream when you sleep, right?” he concludes.

And quite a lot of the time when I’m awake, if I’m perfectly honest.

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Kate Bush – The Dreaming

Okay folks, brace yourselves. It’s become a bit of a tradition here on The Chain that we feature at least one cringe-worthy song every week. Not because we necessarily like it, but because…well, did you ever hear that quote, which I had always thought was attributed to mountaineer Chris Bonnington, that goes “Q: Why do you want to climb that mountain? A: Because it’s there.”? (A quick internet search tells me that it was actually first said by George Mallory, an English schoolteacher and mountaineer, born 1886, died 1924 trying to errm….climb Mount Everest. Not so smug now, eh, Mallory, old bean?) I digress – it’s the same principal here. So, babylotti, why did you recommend this record? Because you could. Or, as you put it:

“Inbetweener conjures one song up for me immediately. It’s that excruciating dance scene in the Inbetweeners film where they ‘move’ across the dancefloor to ‘We No Speak Americano’ that’s my suggestion, right there. Sorry.

No need to apologise, babylotti!

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Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Americano (Radio Edit)

And just in case you don’t know the scene babylotti is referring to:

Which leads us rather neatly on to the next suggestion, and can we have a warm Chain Gang welcome to The Beard, who does not appear to be the biggest fan of the show which gave us such phrases as “Bus Stop Wankers!”, “Bum-der” and “Clunge” (I advertently described a cheesecake at a recent party as “looking a bit clungey”, not realising what that meant until the words were already out there. I am free to host the Great British Bake Off, in case anyone on C4 is interested).

Anyway, here’s The Beard’s suggestion:

“The plural of Inbetweener is Inbetweeners. The Inbetweeners was a mildly-amusing-but-quickly-lost-its-charm comedy. One of the protagonists was called Jay. A more famous Jay is Jam Master Jay. ‘Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)’ by his band, Run DMC, is ridiculously good.”

It certainly is:

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Run DMC – Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)

Since we’re on a rap/hip-hop vibe, here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“Literal link again: the only song I have in my collection with Sleeper in the title is Nightbus Sleepers by Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip. Not usually my bag, musically, but I love Scroobius Pip’s rambling rhymes”.

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Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Nightbus Sleepers

Seems a bit quiet around here without George this week, doesn’t it? Time to rectify that, with more of his Tottenham Hotspur links:

“Sleeper is a film by Woody Allen. Dave Allen was in the Gang of Four, leading to Dave Mackay of Tottenham Hotspur (their finest ever midfielder), leading to Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, and Ladytron.”

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Roxy Music – Ladytron

Time to welcome back Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?

“At the risk of looking as if I am stalking George by copying everything he comes up with (it’s all a coincidence honestly) [I knew it! You might call it stalking, we call it spying! – Chain Ed] my first thought was also that Woody Allen was in a film called Sleeper with one-time partner Diane Keaton, but we all know that Woody also had a long-term relationship with Mia Farrow. [Phew! I wondered where you might be going with that for a moment there. I was dusting off the word ‘allegedly’ ready for quick insertion – Legal Ed] Now Mia was once married to Frank Sinatra so I could go down that route but instead, in the interests of championing the Guilty Pleasure tagline yet again, I will go down another route. Ms Farrow starred in the excellent film Rosemary’s Baby and back in 1970 Edison Lighthouse did really well with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – I think the brackets are important!”

Anyone whose services as the resident pop nerdo boffin in pub quiz team will know how invaluable knowing where the brackets go in a pop song title is. My favourite one that catches people out is Heaven 17’s “…(And That’s No Lie)” which you’ll note quite literally has no words that aren’t in brackets.

Anyway, here’s 1970s not Guilty at all Pleasure:

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Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

Time for a warm welcome to the third of our new contributors this week, which comes from within Alyson’s sleeper cell humble abode:

Don’t know if my other half is allowed to join in but out of interest his suggestion probably falls into the Guilty Pleasure category also and it’s The Gambler by Kenny Rogers – The opening few lines being relevant to a) Sleeper trains b) Being too tired to sleep c) Railway lines are laid on sleepers.”

Tick, tick, tick, as The Hives once said, as did the nit nurse at my Junior School (although The Hives also added the word “Boom!”).

I’ve digressed again. Here’s King Kenny (no, not that one. Or that one. This one):

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Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

If you didn’t catch Kenny Rogers’ Sunday Afternoon Legends slot at Glastonbury back in 2013, you can see it here. Well worth a look, in my book.

Anyway, before I forget, a warm Chain Gang welcome to Alyson’s other half, Jamie.

Now, as they say, for something completely different, and to my final suggestion for this week. “Inbetweener” comes from Sleeper’s debut album, “Smart”. Smart is a word which has several different meanings: Well dressed (The Great Gog will expand on this in a moment); to be in pain (as in “Ouch, that smarts a bit”), or to be clever.

If you’re the opposite of clever, then you could easily be described as intellectually-challenged, or just plain stupid. That’s S-T-U-P-I-D:

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Sultans of Ping F.C. – Stupid Kid

Since I’ve just mentioned him, here’s The Great Gog:

“One can be said to be smart if one is wearing one’s Sunday best. Off the top of my head, the only song I can think of that references Sunday best is The Icicle Works’ “Who Do You Want For Your Love”, in its second line. And it’s a particular favourite of mine.”

Not one I was overly familiar with before getting your suggestion (I really don’t know how this one passed me by, to be honest), but it’s fast becoming one of mine too:

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The Icicle Works – Who Do You Want For Your Love?

A suggestion which coaxed The Swede back for a second stab:

“I’ve now got Elvis Costello’s ‘Sunday’s Best’ as an earworm, a song that’s as relevant today as it was in 1979, if not more so. It also contains the line ‘…Sleepy towns and sleeper trains….’, so can be designated a double-linker!”…

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Sunday’s Best

…which in turn caused ructions with The Great Gog’s working day:

“Whilst staring at an increasingly confusing spreadsheet at work, I’ve just remembered that Madness’ “Our House” makes mention of Sunday best. Needless to say, it is currently ear-worming…”

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Madness – Our House

Right, hold on chaps. Seems it’s you guys that are digressing now. Quick, we need another suggestion to break us out of this Chain Reaction.

Up to the plate steps Badger, also from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“I was once in the audience of Jools Holland, it was a Hootenanny special (filmed in August) but one of the acts there was Audioweb who performed their minor hit ‘Sleeper’ – they had more chart success with their ragga indie version of ‘Bankrobber’.”

As it’s a Clash cover, let’s dedicate this one to George:

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Audioweb – Bankrobber

“As my obligatory second option”, Badger continues,”another song on the debut Sleeper album was ‘Lady Love Your Countryside’ which was a slight piss-take of supposed political rebels S*M*A*S*H and their ‘feminist anthem’ ‘Lady Love Your C___’ who actually turned out to be posho college boys. Either way ‘I Want to (Kill Somebody)’ was a great three minutes of Tory baiting”:

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S*M*A*S*H* – (I Want to) Kill Somebody

Now, since Audioweb have been mentioned, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Sleeper was a song by mid 90s Manchester dub/rock/electronic and Audioweb, an actually pretty good piece of mid 90s music. The 12″ came with not 1, but 2, Andrew Weatherall mixes.”

Now these are mixes which I did not own. But fear not, I thought: Swiss is renowned for being a bit of a Weatherall nut, so I figured I’d just pop over to his blog, type Audioweb into the Search function, and get them from him, only to be met with the following message when I did:

“No posts matching the query: audioweb”

Gah!

Anyway, I managed to track down the following two mixes. I’ve no idea if one, or the other, or both for that matter, are in any way Weatherall related (although they both sound pretty similar to these ears…)

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Audioweb – Sleeper (Emissions No. 5)

Audioweb – Sleeper (Sleepless In Balham)

Okay, time for Comment Showboat of the week, which undoubtedly goes to Dirk from sexyloser. I’d get comfy, if I were you:

“A ‘sleeper’ these days is of course not only a person, who, like you and me do, goes to bed in the evening and, well, sleeps. No, a sleeper is a spy planted in advance for future use, but not currently active (not necessarily a terrorist, back in the golden days of the cold war we just had spies, you know, for younger readers, all harmless stuff!). This may be hard to believe, but fear not: there is a movie which might shows it all: ‘Salt’. In it, Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian sleeper agent and goes on the run to try to clear her name.

Now, as you might or might not know, Angelina Jolie announced that she and Brad Pitt go ‘different ways’ from now on, a divorce will come soon, I’m afraid. Very sorry to hear this, and I would just l.o.v.e. to help Angelina in those difficult times of misery, but I fear that Mrs Loser would have severe objections against my noble offerings. So, Angelina, the only advice I can give you currently, is to see your future positively and to sing along loudly to Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns’ ‘Free, Single And Disengaged’: a neat song indeed and, coincidently , my tip for this week’s ‘Chain’.

Ah, well …”

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Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns – Free, Single and Disengaged

PS – Angelina, if you’re reading this, there is no current Mrs Jez, and you seem exactly the sort of headcase that some of my ex-girlfriends were clearly readying me for. Call me, maybe?

Sticking with the Cold War/Spy angle, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“OK, other people have done railways and spies. So let’s combine the two, and what springs to my mind is James Bond getting into a bit of a scuffle in “From Russia With Love”. As it happens, I have a soft spot for Matt Monro, so let’s hear him singing the title song from said movie.”

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Matt Monro – From Russia With Love

You’d have to be pretty annoyed if you were Matt Monro. Your most famous record (as far as I know, feel free to provide alternatives) and you don’t even get to feature on the sleeve. Such is life.

Now a warm Chain Gang welcome back to Kay, who continues the theme:

“Sleeper made me think of a sleeper cell – cold war, John Le Carre novels, Russia etc ….then Russia made me think of Babushka by Kate Bush”:

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Kate Bush – Babooshka

Which just leaves us with George’s second suggestion, and for what I think is for the fourth time on the trot, it’s related to Tottenham Hotspur:

“In Sleeper, the singer was Louise Wener. Louise was/is the name of a pop-singer who is married to footballer Jamie Redknapp, son of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, who signed Dutch footballer Rafael van der Vaart. And speaking of things Dutch leads to prog-flute band Focus, and their song House of the King. a splendid pop prog song with flute-ing and hand-clapping.”

My knowledge of Focus, I thought, began and ended with “Hocus Pocus”, until I heard this and recognised it as the theme tune to Steve Coogan’s BBC comedy series “Saxondale”, so truly thanks for pointing me in its direction (don’t let the word “prog” put you off, George is right, this really is splendid):

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Focus – House Of The King

And that’s it for another week. Of course, none of us guessed the official link to the official record, which I’ll have to concede is a better link than usual, if still not a patch on any of ours:

“…From Sleeper – part of an earring – to a hit from Dutch band Golden Earring…”:

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22. Golden Earring – Radar Love

(Relax ladies: all of the members of Focus and Golden Earring are either married or dead).

So: let’s be having your nominations for records which link to “Radar Love” by Golden Earring”, along with your explanation of how you got to it, via the Comments section below, in time for me to source and write this by the same time next week.

See you then, Chainies!

(More soon)

The Chain #11

Afternoon all.

So, I  left you last week with “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts and asked you to suggest songs that linked to it. (It’s my new catchphrase, shush!)

Okay, first the admin. The link between Bruce Springsteen and “I’ll Be There For You” was that Courtney Cox – Monica from Friends to which the latter is the theme tune – appeared in Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” video, as a plucked-from-the-audience-hottie who gets to dance on stage with The Boss himself, regardless of how excruciatingly 80s that might look. What are the odds of that happening? Totally spontaneous, and not at all bought and paid for, naturellement.

I say naturellement, for unlike the England football team, we’re in France for much of this week.

As I did last week, I’ll post the suggestions as they were received. I mentioned in an intervening post there was a fair bit of mind changing/dual suggestions going on this week. For the record, as long as I don’t get swamped (which seems unlikely) I’ll try to post all suggestions, irrespective of whether you’ve already suggested something. This does not give you carte blanche to bombard me with multiple ideas (You know who I’m looking at).

You won’t be surprised to learn that all of today’s suggestions focus on the Rembrandts rather than the “I’ll Be There For You”, opening up many possibilities in respect of art and artists as it did.

So, here we go, first up is The Swede, who managed to beat George out of the traps for once.

“Rembrandt’s old gaff, now known more formally as the Rembrandt House Museum, is located in Amsterdam. So, keeping it simple and straightforward, how about spinning David Bowie’s interpretation of Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’?”

Deal. As I mentioned in my response, I’ve been meaning to post some Brel for a while now, but would probably have plumped for a really obvious Scott Walker cover. But since very little Bowie has been posted in the blogosphere this year (!), here’s his BBC recording version, with a bit of a certain Mr John Ravenscroft at the end, just because it’s always great to hear his voice (and because I have no idea how to edit MP3s):

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David Bowie – Amsterdam

And yes, I’m well aware Amsterdam isn’t in France, before you all start.

Okay, there’s been much kidding around in the Comments since I started doijg this thread about “Showboating”. It’s a term of endearment, of admiration, for a particularly fine example of getting from one song to another. If I, or anyone else, says you’re Comment Showboating, it’s the equivalent of us applauding your choice and how you got there.

Here’s a prime bit of showboating from the Great Gog:

“Takes deep breath…

Obviously, Rembrandt was a famous painter, one of his works being 1632’s “Self portrait as a burger”. Although this meant burger in another sense, I found myself imagining a painting with Rembrandt placing himself between two halves of a seeded bun. One organisation famous for placing burgers in seeded buns is McDonald’s.

Michael McDonald was a member of The Doobie Brothers, so perhaps one of theirs, but which? Linking back to the Friends theme, many would consider Jesus as a friend, so “Jesus Is Just Alright”, it is. This appears on the Toulouse Street album, and by an amazing coincidence, Toulouse-Lautrec was also a famous painter!

I’m off for a lie-down now as my brain is beginning to hurt.”

Okay, two things. Firstly, The Great Gog has a very odd imagination. And secondly, I’ll admit, I had to check this. Burger as opposed to Berger? The Great Gog was, needless to say, correct.

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The Doobie Brothers – Jesus is Just Alright

Just like the Marillion sleeve in my post from yesterday, that’s a really odd sleeve isn’t it? Every one of them seems to be saying, in a Southern drawl, reminiscent of that scene in Deliverance: “Yeh, my sister is pretty, ain’t she?”

I have to admit, my knowledge of the Doobies output pretty much began and ended with “Long Train Runnin'”, but that’s pretty good isn’t it. Must investigate further. Cheers, TGG.

Next up, here’s Charity Chic:

“I’m going to jump on the back of the excellent comment from the Great Gog with Goodbye Toulouse from The Stranglers.”

For those of you unfamiliar with The Stranglers output, that’s from their “Rattus Norvegicus” album, and it sounds like this:

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The Stranglers – Goodbye Toulouse

A few years ago, I was working for an Insurance company. My phone rang and it was one of our customers calling to report a little bump he’d been in.

I took their policy number and loaded their details up on my screen. There was something familiar about the name.

“Can I confirm your name, please?” I asked.

“Burnel,” came the response.

It can’t be, can it? I thought.

“First name and date of birth?”

“Jean-Jacques and (I’ll leave this bit blank)”.

Jesus, it was.

I spent the rest of the conversation trying to think of a way to let JJ know that a) I knew who he was, and b) that I bloody love The Stranglers. But I couldn’t find an “in”. The moment passed, the call ended.

I removed my headset, and announced to my colleagues “That was Jean-Jacques Burnel!”

Not a flicker.

“From The Stranglers!”

More “couldn’t give less of a shit” noises and glances.

Still, made my day. I almost wish he’d dangled me out of a window by my ankles.

But, I digress. Here’s The Great Gog again:

“You’ve jogged my memory of a single from Radio Africa hitmakers, Latin Quarter, simply titled Toulouse. Slightly annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of that one just over 24 hours ago.”

The only song I know by Latin Quarter is “Radio Africa”, and it’s not a song I’m overly fond of, so I approached this with some trepidation:

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Latin Quarter – Toulouse

At this point, George arrived:

“One of The Rembrandts is Danny Wilde. Who was born in MAINE. And MAINE Road used to be where Mancheter City played, and Joe Hart is their goalie, leading us to another Joe, Joe Tex, who sang Buying A Book”

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Spurs had a goal keeper called Erik Thorstvedt who we affectionately named “Butterfingers”. After his ricks against Wales and Iceland, I think Hart has taken over ownership of the name. Quite how long he’ll stay at Man City if he carries on doing the same remains to be seen, but for now, the link stands:

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Joe Tex – Buying a Book

And that’s your lot for this week.

Oh, wait. Here’s George again.

“Can I have another go? In my defence I can link to an absolutely outstanding song.”

To be fair, pretty much every song George suggests is absolutely outstanding, so I told him to carry right on.

“The song I’ll Be There for You was co-written by Allee Willis. Who grew up in Detroit, Michigan. as did a certain Denise Nicholas. Who? Well she married Bill Withers, who gave us the outstanding I Can’t Write Left Handed (and the best version is on the Live At Carnegie Hall album).”

Which I think is this version (I own it on a compilation album, where it doesn’t stipulate where it was recorded):

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Bill Withers – I Can’t Write Left Handed

George, if that’s not the version you were after, my apologies. Either way, it’s right up there with “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” in terms of anti-war sentiment, although the latter edges it in terms of numbers of limbs lost. Not that I’m proposing that should be the way we judge records, you understand. Otherwise I’d have to crown “Jake the Peg” as the greatest record ever, which it clearly isn’t.

Please note, I have resisted doing the duck in a microwave joke. Kind of.

And just in case you’ve never heard that before (the song, not the joke) but think something about it seems familiar, it may be because of this:

As for my suggestion? Well, it turns out that mine was fairly close to the one chosen in that there real life thing. I also went for an artist, but a different one, and to a song from an album that many people mistakenly call “Andy Warhol” or “The One With The Banana On the Front”:

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The Velvet Underground – Femme Fatale

And here, in a rather pleasing, circular, all loose ends tied up kind of way, is the official selection:

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David Bowie – Andy Warhol

So, roll up, roll up, your suggestions please for tunes to play next week that link to “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie. Please send them via the Comments section below explaining how you have got from that record to yours.

Or, if you can do it in 140 characters or less, tweet me @jezbionic.

Or, if you’re one of the lucky people who have my email or mobile number and want to keep your submission private (until next Sunday), then you can use those methods to. And we really should do lunch sometime, it’s been ages.

I already know my suggestion for next week. I wonder if any of you will be like-minded. I can think of at least one person, a very dear friend, who I know reads this and who I would be absolutely staggered if they haven’t chosen something along the same lines as me.

I’m not sure that last sentence makes grammatical sense, but you get the gist.

More soon.

The Return of Friday Night Music Club

It’s Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK, which can mean only one thing: being stuck in the house, watching television, whilst the rain buckets down outside until it’s time to go back to work again on Tuesday.

Which leads me onto the theme for this week, and for the next couple of weeks: Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question.

Catchy, eh?

With a sub-title that long, you can’t really be all that surprised to learn that this one is going to take more than one week to get through….

And where better to start than here:

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232. The Rezillos – Top Of The Pops

Released in 1978, and peaking in the UK chart at 17, this new wave classic earned the group an appearance on the very show that the lyrics so roundly criticise. There’s an interesting bit of pop history about the line up too: each band member had a stage name and one, Jo Calles (a.k.a. Luke Warm), after the group split up in late 1978, went on to form Shake with, amongst others, Troy Tate, a name many of you will recognise partly from him later appearing in Julian Cope’s band Teardrop Explodes, and many more will recognise as the producer of the original cut of The Smiths’ debut album, which was ditched in favour of the mix provided by John Porter. After Shake split, Callis went on to join Human League, just in time to co-write their classic “Don’t You Want Me”. There you go, don’t say you never learn anything around here.

And just to prove that The Rezillos “Top of the Pops” was neither the actual theme nor a cover of the theme to the show in question (see, I’ve already heavily edited this subtitle), get your laughing gear around this little montage:

Moving on, here’s one of my favourite singles from the mid-90s “Britpop” era:

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233. Ash – Kung Fu

The title is lifted not just from the erroneously used term for Chinese martial arts (the original meaning is any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete – see, entertaining and informative, me), but also the American TV series which ran from 1972 – 1975, and starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk called Kwai Chang Caine. The part was originally intended for some chap called Bruce Lee, only for the TV studios to duck out of casting an Asian and cast non-Asian Carradine instead. The 70s, eh? Gotta love ’em.

Having spent much of his subsequent life appearing in frankly duff straight to video B-movies such as Deathrace 2000, Safari 3000, and Night Rhythms, Carradine’s career was going through something of a renaissance following his appearance in Tarantino’s 2004 “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2”, At least it was, until 2009 when he died suddenly in a hotel room in Thailand, apparently killed by the same thing as allegedly killed Michael Hutchence: the old “erotic asphyxiation” routine, which I shall not be demonstrating for you any time soon.

Here’s the title credits, featuring not just David Carradine, but Keith too:

But there’s another popular culture moment involved with the Ash single: the sleeve, which captures that moment back in 1995 when Manchester United’s Eric Cantona, having just been sent off during a match against Crystal Palace, got ever so slightly upset by some comments from the crowd:

This, inevitably, led to a lengthy ban from the game for Cantona, and to this very brief press conference statement which I often see people describe as being confusing:

Now, I do not claim to be a man blessed with profound intellect, but that’s not really that hard to understand, is it?

Anyway, on May 21st 2016, Manchester United and Crystal Palace will meet each other in this year’s FA Cup Final, and there’s the teensiest part of me that hopes one of the participants decides to re-enact the Cantona moment. My money’s on Palace boss Alan Pardew, whose got a bit of form in the losing his rag stakes. Him, or United’s Marouane Fellaini, who I’m sure you could wind up pretty easily if you asked him when the new series of Saved By the Bell is going to start enough times.

But I digress. Some more Britpop tuneage next:

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234. Sleeper – Sale of the Century

Sleeper will feature many more times on these here pages, so we’ll jump straight to the TV show from whence the title is ripped:

I bet there’s quite a few people my age and older who went a tad misty-eyed at the sight of Anglia Television’s silver knight at the start of the clip.

But, oh! Times have certainly changed in the world of TV game shows, haven’t they?

That’s broadcasting stalwart Nicholas Parsons doing the hosting duties; he can still be heard hosting Radio 4’s wonderful parlour game/panel show “Just A Minute”, and, at the age of 92 as I write this, he seems to be in possession of just as many of his faculties now as he was back then. Take that in whatever way you wish.

But Sale of the Century has a dark secret. For it was here that the Dark Overlord himself made his first TV appearance:

So, y’know, cheers for that Anglia Television.

In 1975, David Bowie released “Young Americans”; you don’t need me to tell you what an incredible album that is, or to tell you that this was one of the singles lifted from it:

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235. David Bowie – Fame

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat by me, since the Bowie single pre-dates the 1980 Alan Parker directed movie of the same name by five years:

…and the 1982 TV series by the same name by seven years:

…but any excuse to post a bit of Bowie, eh?

It also gives me the excuse to link to this 24 carat cheese nugget:

Bruno was no singer, was he?

In 1969, the BBC launched a show about holiday destinations, called “Holiday ’69”. (Stop it…..!!). The show ran until 2007, but in the 1990s, they dropped the year from the title, making it just plain old “Holiday”. Which is lucky, as surprisingly Madonna never recorded a song called “Holiday ’69” (she left that kind of grubbiness to Bryan Adams):

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236. Madonna – Holiday

Back when I was at college, there was a quiz held in the Students’ Union every other Tuesday which a couple of mates and I used to regularly enter (and which I ended up hosting). The Students Union had invested in a karaoke machine – quite the new-fangled gadget at the arse-end of the 1980s – but were struggling to come up with occasions on which it could be used. So, at the end of each round of the quiz, it was decided that one member from the team with – now, I want to say the highest, but in reality, it was probably the lowest – score was invited up on stage to perform a song of the host’s choice.

My fellow team-mates were considerably less stage-shy than I, so on the two occasions that one of us had to go on stage, it was me that bowed to public pressure. The relevance of this is that on one of these occasions, it was Madonna’s “Holiday” that I was obliged to perform (on the other occasion, it was The Police’s “Walking On The Moon”, just in case you’re interested). I delivered both in a dead-pan, spoken style, a la Ted Chippington.

“Who’s Ted Chippington?” I hear you ask.

This is Ted Chippington:

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Ted Chippington – The Wanderer

“Oh THAT Ted Chippington”, I hear you reply, looking none-the-wiser.

Don’t worry yourself about him now, he’ll crop up again on these pages in a lot more depth at some point or another.

So, with the BBC having a show about potential holiday destinations – which, if memory serves me right from my younger days, seemed to feature a pleasing amount of footage of continental topless beaches – ITV decided to get in on the act with a rival show, called “Wish You Were Here?”. We know a song about that too, don’t we?

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237. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Ok time to wrap things up for this week, and here’s the finest example of a song having the same name as a TV show, but this is another cheat by me as it is clearly named after and references the show in question. But it gives me a chance to play some Divine Comedy, and a lesser known track by them too:

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238. The Divine Comedy – Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World

And just so you know that neither me nor The Divine Comedy main-man Neil Hannon are losing our marbles:

That’ll do you for this week.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

If anything good at all has come from the death of David Bowie, then it has been that I – and doubtless many others – have spent the last couple of months revisiting his material, or in the case of today’s post, discovering new stuff he did.

VH1 was a music channel which was supposed to act as an alternative to the more youth-orientated MTV (this was, of course, back in the days when MTV used to play nothing but music videos, rather than the never-ending stream of reality TV shows it splurges out these days).

And whilst MTV had their “Unplugged” show, VH1 had “Storytellers”. The concept was both similar and simple: established artists were invited to play some songs from their back catalogue in front of a live studio audience, and in between songs regale them with anecdotes about the song and how it came into being.

In 1999, it was Bowie’s turn, and the results can be found on the CD release that finally got released 10 years later. It’s fair to say that Bowie takes the story-telling aspect of the show rather seriously, as you can tell from the version of “Rebel Rebel” that he gives here, even if that does mean the actual performance of the song, well I wouldn’t say it suffers exactly…:

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David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

Still, cracking anecdote, eh?

You can watch the whole show, albeit broken down into clips of each song, here:

More soon.

The Final Word(s)

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If you’re not all Bowied out by now, and would like to read some more of us blogger types letting out a howl of anguish at the loss we suffered this week, then I would urge you to go and visit JC over at The Vinyl Villain.

I’ve visited JC’s blog pretty much every day for the past…Oh God, for such a long time now that it doesn’t bear thinking about. So when I was thinking about starting this blog, I emailed him in the hope I’d get a few pointers, tips, advice, whatever crumbs might fall from the table. The replies I got from him were incredibly kind, helpful, encouraging and frankly, far above and beyond my expectations. I get a lot out of foisting the banal shit I write upon you, and I wouldn’t be doing it had he not taken the time to reply to me.

Without wishing to blow too much smoke up “there”, if Paul Weller is the Modfather, then JC is the Blogfather; I’ll venture that every music blog you will ever visit has a link to his site on it, and there’s a reason for that: he’s bloody good at it.

Anyway, JC has collated a load of his/my peers’ posts mourning the death of Bowie, and you can read them here, along with, of course, JC’s own words of wisdom.

And if you don’t want to read anymore Bowie posts, visit him anyway. I guarantee that if you like the kind of music I post about, you’ll adore his.

But…erm…you’ll come back and see me, right? Promise? Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye? Good. Off you pop then.

It is 2.30am, and I’m working my way through a bottle of rum (as you can probably tell) so doubtless there will be….More Soon.

 

 

Our Star Man

Woke up this morning, found out that David Bowie was dead. The opening lines to a blues song nobody wanted to write.

That’s how I heard the news today, oh boy. My alarm went off and as usual, I snoozed it for a while. Eventually, my hand snaked from under the covers, grappling with my DAB radio, turning it on to 6music.

They were playing a David Bowie record. “Ah,” I thought, “what a perfect way to start the week”, deciding I could lay in bed a few minutes longer to hear the song out.

It ended. Shaun Keaveny began to speak. His voice seemed somewhat subdued, sombre almost.

And then, those words. “This morning we’re paying tribute to David Bowie, following the sad news that he has passed away.”

I sat bolt upright in bed. “What???” I demanded of the radio.

Keaveny didn’t repeat it. Another Bowie record began.

The news was like a punch to the stomach, and like so many others, I have spent today in a bit of a daze.

As I write this, I’ve just finished watching the BBC 6 o’clock news. The lead story was about Bowie’s death. Such was the man’s significance, the item lasted 16 minutes of a 30 minute broadcast. ISIS can piss off for the day, nothing you could do to us would upset us as much as the loss we’ve suffered today.

So it struck me that, just as many others have felt compelled to, I had to write something in honour of the great man. Frankly, if I can think of nothing to say about the impact of Bowie, then I may as well pack away my laptop and give up on this blogging lark, tout suite.

As it happens, I had been working on a post which was supposed to have slotted into my series on 1985 where I talked about, amongst other things, the purchase of this record:

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Purchased on vinyl from that treasure trove of second hand records that was practically a second home for me in the mid-80s, the basement of Andy’s Records in Peterborough, this was the first Bowie record I ever bought.

I’ve mentioned before that when an established artist first caught my eye, I would buy a Greatest Hits album, decide which of the hits contained therein I liked most, find out which album they were on, and go buy that next.

With Bowie, I just knew that it didn’t matter which I bought first, whichever one it was would be amazing.

And so it was that I came to own 1972’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. It is a record which has rarely been off my turntable ever since.

And I was right. Totally amazing. As has every other record of his I have ever had the pleasure of owning or hearing.

Yes it has the hits which everyone knows: “Starman”, “Suffragette City” and of course “Ziggy Stardust” himself, but there’s one track that I was blissfully unaware of, and had no idea it had been a single, probably because it wasn’t released until two years later, it would seem by a record label impatient for a follow-up album. Listening to the album through for the first time, it was the swansong that that hit me the hardest:

David Bowie – Rock’n’Roll Suicide

It’s that show-stopping moment, the “You’re not alone!” followed by the fade-to-end: “Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful”

You’re not alone. You’re wonderful.

One of the many things I’ve seen and heard in the many, many eulogies that have been written about the great man today is reference not just to  his musical influence, but also to his style, his fashion sense, and to his “gender-bending”, for want of a better phrase, that he gave us permission to be who we want to be. For my money, those five words sum up the empowerment he offered.

You’re not alone. You’re wonderful.

And show-stopping seems an apt description, for we all know that what we embraced about Bowie was not just his music, but his creativity, his artistry, his showmanship.

His musical legacy, however, cannot be understated. There cannot be a single credible musician, and probably quite a few less credible ones, who do not owe at the very least a nod to the Thin White Duke. His music is so boundless, so other worldly, that it can be of no surprise that it influenced so many and touched so many more. Don’t believe me? Go to Twitter. Search the name David Bowie. See the out-pouring of grief on display there. I can’t remember anything like this since Diana died. And she never released a single anywhere near half as good as “The Laughing Gnome”, let alone “Rebel Rebel”, or “Fame”, or “Sound and Vision” or “Ashes to Ashes”, or…ok, I think you get the point.

As an example, here’s the same Bowie song being covered by two very different acts. Firstly, from their MTV Unplugged show, Nirvana’s version of The Man Who Sold The World:

and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Lulu’s version of the same song:

Nuff said.

I could go on and on about Bowie here, but there’s really no need. You know how important he was, or you wouldn’t be here reading this now.

So I’ll leave you with two songs.

First, a lingering shot at the start of the clip, starting at his boots and moving upwards to reveal the latest Bowie look which seemed to have been fashioned from a pair of my grandmother’s curtains, but my! How fabulously he had done it. Just: wow.

And secondly, one of his 80s tracks which I simply adore:

There really is a Starman waiting in the sky now.

Us mere mortals here on earth can never thank you enough. But I’ll try..

Thank you David. Sleep well, you beautiful man who fell to earth.