Some of the subject matter has been a tad on the heavy side round here recently – (alleged) rape, the exam result travesty (now thankfully rectified), the asylum seeker “crisis”, my impending colonoscopy – so I figured today I’d just post something dumb and fun.
Before I do, a big thank you to all that got in touch with good luck messages about the procedure I underwent this week. As always, I was blown away by how many of you took the time to get in touch. You know me, I will be providing you with a post which provides a lot more detail than you probably wish to know at some point. I’ll try to make it obvious so that the more squeamish amongst you don’t read it.
I’m going to be spending much of this weekend writing the next part of The Chain, with a view to posting it next weekend, so if you haven’t submitted your suggestion yet, get a scoot on if you want it to be included. To refresh your memory, the source record is, God help us, Beautiful Day by U2: submit your suggestions via the Comments page here or, if you must, by email to email@example.com
This morning, though, a Chain-lite post: three songs linked by nothing other than their song title and this chap:
As mentioned in a recent post, I first became aware of the first band a few years before many others in the UK did, thanks to my brother returning from America with a copy of their 1983 Pyromania album for me. To the rest of the UK (except, presumably, the residents of Sheffield) they were ‘that band nobody over here has ever heard of, but are massive in America, apparently’.
By the time 1987 rolled around, they were now known as ‘that band nobody over here has ever heard of, but are massive in America, apparently, and have a one-armed drummer.’ For that four-year hiatus was due to drummer Rick Allen losing his left arm in a road traffic accident and, commendably, the rest of the band waited for him not only to complete his rehab, but also to invent a whole new drum system which allowed him to continue to play, minus one limb.
So this was their first single on their return, and whilst none of their previous singles has troubled the UK Top 40, this reached #6:
Little did we know they would go to release such preposterously-titled singles as Let’s Get Rocked! and Pour Some Sugar On Me….both of which test my “There’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure” philosophy to knicker-elastic twanging point. But love ’em I do. Sue me.
Fast forward a good few years. It is 2003 and I am at my first ever Glastonbury festival. Headlining the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night are my idols, R.E.M.
At this point, we are unaware of what an utter dogturd of a record 2004’s Around The Sun would turn out to be. The band play a blistering set with *gulp* some new songs they want to try out.
Look, I understand the reason that bands do this. The songs are a work in progress, and they want to gauge the audience reaction, and decide which ones need a little more work. The problem is, the audience reaction on hearing these new songs for the first time is generally polite applause, the underlying subtext being: Now play something we know. The band learns nothing from us. I begrudge bands doing this less if it happens at a gig where it is just them that are playing, to hardcore fans who who’ve paid to see them, but when they’re headlining a festival? C’mon, we just wanna hear the hits.
The set is mercifully free of much new stuff; there’s just Final Straw – which appears in the encore – and which makes the cut for the aforementioned Around The Sun album, and Animal, performed fourth on the night, and which is conspicuous by its absence from the forthcoming, not very good, album.
It does, however, get released as a single in 2004, in advance of the album it will not appear on. The British record-buying public is indifferent, shrugs, and it reaches #33.
I’m not saying it’s bad record, but it is, to these ears, the sound of a band floundering, trying to recapture past glories, and not quite managing it:
Thank Goodness for that “New Mix” (of a record which has never been released before)!
It is here that I expect The Robster to pop up and correct me by pointing out a different version appears on the 2003 compilation In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003…
Anyway, moving on….
Thirdly, finally, this, a record I first heard on a 2012 mix album by Annie Mac called, wittily, Annie Mac Presents…
Yes, this is what I’ve been building up to, and yes, this is such a great record, all boinging basslines and sing-a-long chorus. Plus, it’s nice to hear from an act with a double I in their name. I can’t think of another. Except Piink Floyd and Iiron Maiden and they don’t count for obvious reasons (I’m convinced there’s a better joke in there somewhere, but I’m buggered if I can find it).
There. That’s caught you all out. The Chain on a Wednesday morning.
Don’t get used to this. I’m at a work conference this afternoon and won’t get back until late, so I figured if I didn’t get it done before then, it’d end up being another week before it appeared. So, I started writing it earlier than usual (but still a week late, if you’re being ungratefully picky).
Anyway, we’ve lots to get through this week – 63 new suggestions in total – and so, as has become usual, we’ll start off with a reminder of the source record for the week:
Yet again, one of you correctly guessed the next song in The Chain, but we’ll come to that later. Or, more specifically, at the end.
But first, where to begin? Link-wise, I can think of no finer place than with therobster from Is This The Life? although, as you will see, the first tune of the week can only be partly credited to him:
“I’ve gone down the ‘intentionally misspelled animal-related band name’ route. How about some Def Leppard? No…?”
Yes! But with no actual one-armed suggestions forthcoming from the robster, in stepped Rol from My Top Ten:
“If therobster isn’t going to suggest one, can I suggest…”
Now, just in case any of you were planning on pulling me up on using that sleeve, let me explain. RCA Records bosses told the band that they would not release the song with the title “Randy Scouse Git” (which, incidentally, is taken from 1960s sitcom “‘Til Death Us Do Part”), and demanded they gave it an alternate title. “Okay”, said drummer/singer Mickey Dolenz, “‘Alternate Title’ it is.”
Here’s another band that fits nicely into the category:
(NB. I tried to track down a video clip of just the Partridge – Kraftwerk introduction, sadly to no avail. But imagine my surprise when typing the words “alan partridge introduces kraftwerk” into Google to find that the fourth link it offers is to…The Chain #28!)
But I digress. GMFree seizes the opportunity to do the old Chain link one-two shuffle:
“Which leads me to my [next] suggestion with the recent death of Holger Czukay…”
Ah yes, Apple Records. Alex G picks this up and runs with it:
“‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous 1968 LP, their first on their own Apple Records imprint. So from one artist-owned label named after a fruit, to another: Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records. I do wonder whether the Beatles got the idea from him, though nobody else seems to think so. Anyway, let’s go for Ray Charles’ version of…”
And the bloke leaning over my shoulder at the bar is called Dave, amongst other things
So let’s switch on the Magimix ™ and see what delight we get
………… and the winner is
David Soul ‘Silver Lady'”
Much as I love that record, it’s featured before, way back in The Chain #8, and as such has to be disqualified. But since GMFree has done the old Chain link one-two shuffle, I suggested Julian might want to follow suit. So, since, he’d got to David Soul, perhaps one of his other songs? Nope. That’s too straight-forward for our Julian:
“David Soul starred in a short lived TV show called ‘Casablanca’, so how about…”
Having valiantly chipped in to assist therobster earlier, Rol’s back with a suggestion all his own doing:
“‘Martha My Dear’ is from The White Album. Another band who released a ‘White Album’ (following on from their Blue, Green and Red albums… even though all of them were actually just eponymous) were Weezer. From that, I’ll suggest…”
Do any other White albums spring to mind? Well, no, although there is, of course “The Whitey Album”, by Sonic Youth off-shoot Ciccone Youth (I really thought this would get suggested, especially as I posted a track from it in a recent post).
“It occurred to me that The Beatles ‘White Album’ reminds me of Mr Barry White…I can’t find any dog-related [this will get explained soon – Ed] Barry songs or ones about a girl called Martha [I think we pretty much used them all up last time – Ed] so it’ll have to be the next most appropriate for this place:”
Now, all this white stuff is all well and good, but let me draw all of your attention back to something Alex G said earlier: ‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous1968 LP…” And he’s quite right: the album in question is colloquially known as ‘The White Album’ but it’s actually, officially, called ‘The Beatles’.
Which takes us back to George, who suggests a new category: “…the ‘eponymous album that wasn’t a debut’ route.” And specifically he suggest this, from Blur’s 1997 album, the fifth that they released:
I must say, this is my favourite link of all that were suggested this time. It had never occurred to me before that most acts, when releasing an eponymous album, made it their debut, presumably to double the impact of their name, get it “out there” as a recognisable brand. So I did a little digging and found these acts also released eponymous albums, but not first time around:
Yes, everyone calls their fifth album “The Black Album”, but it’s not called that, it’s called ‘Metallica’.
And at the other end of the musical spectrum, this lots’ first album was 1973’s “Ring Ring”, but it wasn’t until two years later, when they released their third album, that they released an album called…well, you can figure the rest of that sentence out for yourselves:
Now, remember how in her suggestion Alyson mentioned something about dogs in songs? Well that’s where we’re going next and here’s Dirk from sexyloser to explain why:
“..the title ‘Martha My Dear’ was inspired by McCartney’s Old English Sheepdog, named Martha.”
Which leads us nicely into a whole batch of songs about dogs. Sort of. But before we get to Dirk’s suggestion, here’s The Great Gog, awake at 02:31am and thinking about dogs:
“All this talk of Martha has me thinking of my one of my sister’s dogs, which goes by that moniker. Martha is a spaniel, no idea what type of spaniel though. One type is a cocker spaniel which immediately led me to thinking of…”
“Another famous Old English Sheepdog was Alfie, who starred in ‘Serpico’, so – of course – did Al Pacino. And Al Pacino will always be remembered – at least in my household – not for Serpico, but a) [for the sex scene he had with the fabulous Ellen Barkin in] ‘Sea Of Love’, the film being named after a single by Phil Phillips from 1959. I prefer The Heptones’ version from 1968 though, also we don’t have enough Rocksteady on ‘The Chain’, I’m sure you’ll agree!”
Sorry, I stopped paying attention at the mention of Ellen Barkin. (I was wondering you were linking to her surname)
“We could also have something by Blondie as well…‘cos contrary to what everyone thinks, the band didn’t choose their name because Debbie Harry was blonde, no, they named themselves after Adolf Hitler’s German Shepherd, Blondi (the ‘i’ – ending was generally regarded as being too uncommon for American ears, so much so that the ‘-e’ was added)!”
Which is good enough for me. Here’s the Blondie track Dirk suggested:
Ok, brace yourself. It’s time for the undisputed Worst Record of the Week award, and to present the award here’s all round nice guy and not a white supremacist enabler at all, Sean Spicer accept the award and explain what the hell he was thinking when he sent me this suggestion is Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense:
“…sticking firmly to the Dogs route (and a contender for Worst Record Of The Week)…”
Not just a contender, Rigid, but so nailed on The Worst Record Of The Week that nobody else even bothered to try to think of any more because this was so obviously unbeatable.
But first some context.
The song is about Barbara Woodhouse, a dog trainer who found celebrity status in the UK in the late 1970s/early 1980s, back when celebrities were required to have some semblance of talent (see also celebrity steeplejack Fred Dibnah). Here’s a clip to give you an idea:
And here she is, interviewing William Shatner, teaching his dogs a thing or two, and then revealing a little too much about her bedtime habits for my liking:
And here’s Rigid’s suggestion. Remember: in the world of The Barron Knights, a man putting on a ladies voice = funny:
And here’s two actual funny women, Rebecca Front and Joanna Scanlon, parodying Ms Woodhouse directly and subtly:
I’ll leave the last word on that Barron Knights song to Charity Chic who quipped:
“I think you missed an H out of the title.”
Rigid then goes on to mention the Dogs d’Amour, but doesn’t actually suggest a record by them. Luckily for us him, babylotti steps in with three suggestions by the band; I’ve picked the one he cited as his favourite. Because I’m nice like that.
I must say I always get the Dogs d’Amour mixed up with The Quireboys. Were they around at the same time? (NB: This is a rhetorical question, the type where instead of already knowing the answer, I already know that I don’t really care.)
So let’s have some more doggy-do’s, and one which I was surprised nobody else suggested. A song which is famously about a dog, although the name in the title was changed from ‘Brandy’ in the first draft (who sounds more like a stripper than a dog, if I’m honest) to:
(I was going to post a Buzzcocks tune and had settled for the (s)punky little burst that is ‘Orgasm Addict’, until I realised how that might look when played after the previous two songs…)
Time for another one that I was surprised nobody else came up with. The original version has featured on The Chain before, so I would have had to disqualify it. But, as with the helping hand I tried to give Julian earlier, had the original been suggested than I would doubtless have given you a nudge towards this:
Their record label initially refused to release that, on the grounds that it was trying just a bit too hard to sound like The Small Faces. Harsh, but fair.
But as Rigid astutely concludes:
“There ain’t many songs whose last words are: ‘lovely buttocks'”
A fair point, well made. But just think of the songs which could be improved by the inclusion of those words. “God Save The Queen” springs to mind.
Speaking of which…
Often, the suggestions link from one song to another by way of one word in the title. But there wasn’t much to work on here, just three words, and one of them, Martha, was pretty much done to death last time. But there was one more song to link to that name, from Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area:
“I have a niece called Martha. Her Mum, my sister, was born in June 1977. My parents sometimes say that if she’d been born on the Queen’s jubilee day they’d have called her Jubilee. At least I think they’re joking. So [this] seems an appropriate link (Pistols obvs).”
So, where to start with this little lot. Well, let’s split them down into songs which feature the word “Dear” in the title (or prominently elsewhere in the lyrics) and, first, songs which can in some way be linked to Deer.
And, after missing last times linkage, it’s a warm welcome back to SWC, who proffers this:
(Except it’s not really the Sex Pistols, is it? It’s got Eddie Tudor-Pole on lead vocals for a start. And it’s from ‘The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle’. And it’s title and that picture are clearly meant to shock, but it’s shocking for the sake of being shocking. Not cool.)
But no, Julian was in fact going here:
“Ok it’s the rain song from Bambi”.
This caused a little confusion at Chain HQ, as the song that Julian actually wanted was this:
I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Blade Runner. Sacrilege, I know. But it’s one of those films that everybody bangs on to me about how amazing it is that it can never live up to expectations. I guess I’d better rectify that before the new one comes out later this year, right?
Over to babylotti now, who suggests these two:
“[I’m] going to fall back on Marvin Gaye’s divorce settlement album, ‘Here My Dear’, with obvious reference to Martha my dear….I’ll suggest the title track rather than any of the singles.”
Martin from New Amusements snuck his suggestion under the wire just in time:
“Keith Moon used to call everybody “Dear Boy” and he did a pretty fair cover of Beatles track ‘In My Life’ for his lone solo album ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ (even if it was played with too straight a bat). Anyway, a double-linker!”
Time for C from Sun Dried Sparrows tune now, and this is an example of me saving the best ’til (almost) last; I think this is my favourite song by this lot. I love a good bracket (see?)
“I went down the ‘dear’ route too and another song whose title ends in the word ‘dear’ (there can’t be many, surely?). “Dear” is such a charming, old-fashioned word, I always thought it sounded a bit out of place for Blondie to use it but I love that they do. So I’d like to suggest…”
Now, when the suggestions start coming in, I will often have a little bet with myself as to who I think will suggest what. I’m rarely right, of course. For example, this week I was sure that Dirk would suggest this:
…which, given it’s a cover of a song from The Beatles’ “White Album” and features the word “Dear” is unquestionably a double-linker (Points!!).
And I wouldn’t be so sure about neither of your suggestions being right, CC, for you’re right on the money with your second one. The official link is, quite simply “From one Dear to another…” and the next record in The Official Chain is this:
I’d forgotten how great that record is too, as it goes.
So, CC, congratulations. A huge bag of non-existent points is winging its way to you. Hopefully that makes up for The Chain making you late for work last time. And today, too.
Ok, you know what happens now. This is the bit where I invite your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “There, There, My Dear” by Dexys Midnight Runners, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Who knows when that might be.
Before we get going a disclaimer: if I seem a little distracted tonight, it’s because I’m trying to accomplish that task that so many (men) find difficult – multi-tasking. For tonight, whilst writing this, I am also watching Spurs in the Champions League. So, if my demeanour takes a turn for the worst towards the end, you’ll know why. (As you can see, I’m full of optimism….).
So, to business: last week I left you with “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and asked for your suggestions for songs to link to it, and, as usual, you’ve not let me down with the standard of suggestion or level of link.
As is often the case, the majority of the suggestions fell into the same categories, and this time there were four
Links to the names of members of the bands
Links to the word “Animal(s)”
Links to the word “House”
Links to…erm…the oldest profession in the world.
There are a few others which we’ll sprinkle liberally throughout the post too.
Band Members Names
Now, you’ll remember that the reason we’re looking at “The House of the Rising Sun” was because one of the members of the band was Chas Chandler, who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix, the subject of last week’s post, so it only seems right that we start with a Chas related record.
Also, there wasn’t that much in the way of cheese last week; this redresses that immediately.
Over to you, Charity Chic (who is going to be annoyed that I have already started one sentence with the word “So”):
“Let’s get the cheesy one out the way at the start – Chas ‘n’ Dave with Snooker Loopy”:
“John Steel of The Animals met Alan Price in Byker. Byker Grove was a TV programme that gave us Ant and Dec…but we’ve already had Ant and Dec….I’ll start again…”
And have a word with yourself while you’re at it, George. It was PJ and Duncan we previously featured, and as we all know, they were completely different to Ant and Dec. One of them had been tragically blinded in a bizarre paintballing accident, for a start. (“Bizarre Paintballing Accident” sounds like a suggestion from a random “New Order/Half Man Half Biscuit/Elvis Costello” title generator, doesn’t it? Actually, thinking about it, that joke works just as well with the words “New Order” and “Elvis Costello” removed from it.)
Time for my first suggestion of the week. Alan Price appeared in, and composed the music for, “O Lucky Man!”, a 1973 film directed by Lindsay Anderson. Five years earlier, Anderson released arguably his most iconic film, “if….” which is also the name of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, but is also the name of a single culminates in a glorious sing-a-long, probably my favourite song by The Bluetones, who make their hat-trick appearance here on The Chain.
Last one for our linking band members names, and here’s The Beard:
“Alan Price had success after leaving The Animals with Simon Smith and The Amazing Dancing Bear which was also covered by The Muppets on their debut album.”
It was, and I very nearly posted their version (it’s by Scooter, which would have led to a lot of very disappointed fans of the German dance band accidentally stumbling across this place), but the Muppets will be making an appearance later, so we’ll pass on that.
Besides, I don’t think that’s the record our Bearded Buddy was looking to nominate, as he continues:
“Animal was, of course, the drum bashing Muppet. A similar sounding drummer is Philthy Animal Taylor from Motörhead. Their single No Class is in fact pure class.“
Which leads us rather nicely onto the next category, but before we go there: we’ve all seen over the years boy bands exploit their innocent fan base by releasing a single which featured a different member of the band on the cover? Well, who knew that such acts weren’t just restricted to the teen market….?:
Time to sprinkle a little uncategorisable magic dust. And some more shameless nicking of ideas.
I’ll let The Great Gog, who suggested it, take over:
“The Animals also recorded We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, which was covered by (lovable?) 90s Scousers, Space. A couple of decades earlier, a French band of the same name came to our attention with the then futuristic-sounding Magic Fly.”
Take a look at that sleeve. Remind you of anyone? Seems a little bit daft, a little bit punk to me. And there was me thinking Daft Punk were ground-breaking, and it turns out they’re just rehashing ideas from their fellow countrymen from the 1970s. Luckily, very few of the UK’s current pop stars follow suit, or most of them would be in prison. Maybe that should be unluckily…
By the way, that suggestion continues a trend which I’ve encountered a couple of times since I started hosting The Chain, and which Alyson identified following my Halloween night post, a condition known as “Oh so that’s what that record’s called”. (see also “House of the King” by Focus and another one that I’ve forgotten already.)
Speaking of Focus, that hasn’t been an issue for me so far, it’s 0-0 at half time, in case you’re interested.
Last one before we start looking at the sings in the Animal(s) category, and here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:
“Japan is known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Melt-Banana is a Japanese band who have quite a few songs that mention animals. They once released a compilation called 13 Hedgehogs which included tracks called Iguana In Trouble, Turtle vs. Bunny (Who One?) and Pig To Dog. But I’m going for the fabulously-titled Bird-Like Monkey in Cave, Singing in Drops, basically because it’s the only one of the above that breaches the 2-minute mark. (There’s also Bird-Like Monky Part 2 on the same album if you prefer – it’s just seven seconds long and for that reason might be a little more bearable for those with tender ears…)”
Regular readers will know I love Japanese bands like Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then. So when The Robster suggested this lot, who I’d never heard of before, I was positively moist with anticipation:
Let’s move on to some Animal based fun. Not that kind of fun. Purely aural fun. Not that kind of aural fun either, you mucky lot.
You’ll remember that last week I had to disqualify one suggestion because, well, as far as I could establish, it was wrong. I was disappointed, as the link led to one of my favourite cover versions. I’m delighted to report that Swiss Adam from Bagging Area has taken up the challenge:
“The Animals are named after our four legged friends. On the cover of The Rockingbirds’ ‘Gradually Learning’ 12″ single the guitarist (who also plays with Edwyn Collins) is riding a horse (which is of course an animal). The Rockingbirds covered Right Said Fred’s Deeply Dippy….”
“Eric Burdon always looked grumpy whenever I saw him perform or in photographs. Decided it was maybe because he was also moonlighting as an ironmonger (the jackets in the HOTSR cover are just like those worn in our local shop when I was a youngster). Whenever your dad asked them for anything in the shop it was never on a shelf and they always had to go upstairs to the storeroom for it. Led me to thinking of Upstairs at Eric’s by Yazoo and I think my favourite from that album was Don’t Go.”
For our American readers, that’s Yazz to you, which must have been very confusing when the other Yazz and her Plastic Population appeared a few years later.
Hold up, The Robster’s back, and he’s only going to suggest something else by Melt-Banana….:
“I’ve reassessed my choice of Melt-Banana track and thought maybe we should have something that vaguely resembles a song. Which led me to another compilation the band released called Return Of 13 Hedgehogs. It contained their cover of Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’. Certainly a mite more tuneful than ‘Bird-Like Monkey…’”
Remember earlier when I said I liked Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then? Well it turns out that Melt-Banana do too, it’s just they’ve stumbled over one that isn’t one of their own:
It’s funny how the menfolk who make suggestions here tend to feign ignorance when it comes to “being told” what kind of house is being described in The House of the Rising Sun. Take Dirk for example:
“Alright, apparently [see? – Ed] said house in the song really seems to be a brothel, a bagnio, a bordello, or, if you’d rather, a whorehouse. And this reminds me of Wreckless Eric’s ‘Semaphore Signals’. “Why’s this?”, you might be asking yourself – and quite rightly so! The truth of the matter is that for years and years I misheard the lyrics of ‘Semaphore Signals’ a little bit (blame it on my poor English, but hey – could you Englanders sing along to all of Tocotronic’s fantastic debut album? Nah, I bet your German is not good enough, right? I can though!). Either way, it was an embarrassing moment when I finally found out, albeit 15 years or so too late, that Eric says in the chorus “Messages of love down to her house” and not “Messages of love from the whorehouse”.
Still, he should have done. Perhaps. ‘Cos, whenever the tune comes up in the car when I’m on me way to work in the morning these days, I have a picture in my brain of half naked hookers waving little flags … and it always brings a stupid grin to my face!
P.S.: the Peel-Session version is marginally better than the album version.”
Mental note to self: stay off of the autobahn in the morning.
Here’s the Peel Session version, complete with a sleeve where Wreckless Eric’s name has inexplicably been mis-spelt (it’s entirely possible it’s a different Wreckless Erik, but there’s can’t be two, can there?):
“The fact that in this house the oldest profession was practiced it leads me to two songs about prostitution.” There. He’s said it. “First was Blondie’s X-Offender where she first played with her sexual attitude in front of the band.”
“The other one is ‘Killer Queen’ by Queen. Mercury made no bones about the song’s meaning, explaining, ‘It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation on it’.”
We don’t really need to bother, now you’ve told us, do we Freddie?
Elvis Costello – Love For Sale (or the Nina Simone version, if you prefer). Cole Porter rules.”
Now. I have looked everywhere for a copy of Nina Simone performing “Love for Sale”. I can’t find it, or any reference it. But rather than disqualifying a suggestion for the second week running, and in the unlikely event that you may have just got them mixed up somehow, you can have Billie Holliday’s version instead:
Which just about wraps it up for the prostitution related songs, except, well just in case you don’t get the Sting reference, I found this when I was trying to track down the Nina Simone version of Love for Sale:
Now, I have no idea who Idina Menzel is, or rather I didn’t until I decided to add her to this post. She’s an actress, best know for appearing in “Glee” and more recently for being Queen Elsa in “Frozen” which apparently means it is her that sings that “Let it Go” song which seems to get referenced everywhere these days, but which I’ve never heard, nor do I ever want to, thanks very much.
Anyway, the reason I’ve included her version is for the audience reaction, which at the start of “Love for Sale”, a Cole Porter composition, is absolutely nothing, before a smattering of applause and whooping (it’s recorded in America) welcomes the second line of “Roxanne”, like the crowd have been stirred from their slumber by something they kinda recognise.
Oh, wait. I have one more song from this theme. As regular readers know, I love this band, particularly their early stuff, and this is a song which is right up there amongst my favourite ever tunes by them. Wikipedia says the song “concerns a young man’s encounter with a prostitute”, which explains why they called it “Mystery Song”. Although “Song Concerning a Young Man’s Encounter with a Prostitute” would have been a great title too, should Colorblind James Experience ever decide to cover it.
Anyway, put simply, this rocks, it rocks more than anything else on this page. So there.
Incidentally, there’s a vaguely amusing story behind that song. That came out in 1976, when the band were at the height of their fame, and also well on the road to the drug addiction which made lead singer Francis Rossi’s septum fall out. When they were in the studio working on their “Blue For You” album, Rossi laced Rick Parfitt’s cup of tea with “an inordinate amount” of speed, not expecting him to drink it. You can work out how the rest of the story goes: he drank the lot, oblivious to the contents, began playing this riff and continued to do so until the rest of them left the studio, leaving him in there all night. On their return the following day, he was still sitting in the same place, playing the same riff, some twelve hours later. “I just couldn’t go wrong,” Parfitt recalls, “everywhere my fingers went on the fretboard it sounded fantastic.” Drugs, see kids. Don’t do them. Especially speed. Anyone who has read my article about what happened at Glastonbury the year I found a bag of the stuff will know I know exactly what I’m talking about.
Okay we’re on the home straight now, just some more sprinkles of magic dust to go, and to start off this final section, can we all give a very warm Chain Gang welcome to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense (and anyone with a picture of Rigsby as their avatar is alright by me):
“Approaching his 50th Birthday, John Otway asked his fans for a second hit single to follow 1977s “Really Free”. The chosen track – Bunsen Burner – nicked the music from Disco Inferno, and Otway fashioned a lyric after helping with his daughters chemistry homework. The link to House Of The Rising Sun? HOTRS was the B-Side (or second track on CD single) – the track featured 900 fans (all credited on the record sleeve) in a glorious ‘call and response'”
“Can I have another go, please? Ta. Be warned, this one is more than a little convoluted…”
Excellent. The Beard’s links are becoming my favourite links here each week, if not for the songs, then the reason he gives. As close to Comment Showboating as anyone has managed this week (apart from my quite brilliant even if I do say so myself link to The Bluetones). Time for the rest of you to up your game, I think.
“The Rising Sun is a pub on Beverley Road in Hull. Grafton Street is a thoroughfare, one end of which comes out on Beverley Road. Down Grafton Street is The Grafton, the pub where the video for Happy Hour by The Housemartins was filmed. Phill Jupitus appears in the video. He was also a captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks to form Magazine. A Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine is fanruddytastic.”
And that would be that, had The Beard’s suggestion not prompted a couple of further ideas from Rol, which I’ll allow, as they’re the next step on a couple of references The Beard makes. Plus, Rol is as brief as brief can be (although, just to be contrary, I’m posting them in the different order to suggested, just because his first suggestion sounds more like an end of the show track than his second to me):
So whilst I was busy buying godawful records by members of The Quo, at the same time I was racking up some unintentional points with Britannia Music.
Long-term readers may remember that I mentioned this particular company once before. In the mid-1980s, anytime you opened a weekend newspaper, a leaflet would invariably fall out, advertising Britannia’s 3 for £20 introductory offer, which I have to admit this teenage brain fell for.
Having succumbed, they would send you a booklet every month, detailing all of their wares (of which you had to buy a certain amount within a certain amount of time or…well, actually, as these were the days where you paid for any postal purchases by cheque, I’m not sure what the “or..” was. They’d tell my parents??) and bigging up their Album of The Month.
And here’s where the real money-spinner was for them: they just assumed that you would want to buy the Album of the Month. If you didn’t, you had to tick a box on a form and post it back to them by a certain date. Miss that cut off point, and suddenly you were the proud owner of…well, you’ll see.
You know me by now. I ended up with some stuff that I would not have ordinarily bought. Like this:
Both of these inadvertent purchases would, in the fullness of time, actually prove their worth. I’ll explain that later.
So that’s my excuse for owning those. I have no such excuse, nor do I think I need one, for owning this:
…which I intentionally bought, not so that I owned any of their guitars-as-bagpipes records (if you don’t know what I mean by that, then go YouTube “In a Big Country”), but so that I owned this, which I still adore to this day (and I don’t care what you think):
…a collection of tracks by bands who had played at Live Aid, mostly because, if memory serves, it was only £1.99, but also because it contained this (and again, I don’t care what you think about me liking this either):
Has there been a greater record written about a shooting spree at a school? I think not, and let’s face it, there’s been plenty of opportunities for somebody to have a go at writing one.
But wait. Here comes the good bit.
Yet again, I can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by giving you this brilliant piece of Japanese pop, which samples the piano bit at the start of “…Mondays” (and, whilst we’re at it, the German bit from the start of “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” by The Offspring, which in turn was sampling Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” which…heck, we could be here all day if I carry on). (By the way, you should watch the Def Leppard video, it is unintentionally, bum-wigglingly, hilarious. Spinal Tap was spot on.)
Anyway, if you only click one link on this blog, I urge you to make it this one. You won’t regret it:
Ok. So. Here we go. 1984. The year I have to try and wax lyrical about. And as you will have guessed from my intro to the last post, a year I’ve been struggling with.
Let me add some context.
1984. The year that Thatcher won her second General Election, I think it’s fair to say (though it sticks in my throat) trouncing Labour’s Michael Foot. Foot did not look like your common-or-garden politician, and was a true left-winger (and I don’t mean in the Ryan Giggs kind of way. And when. I make a reference to Ryan Giggs, I don’t mean in that kind of way, either. Well not on this occasion, anyway). Foot is as relevant today as he ever was, for he is the current yard-stick for those who want to keep the Labour Party in the centre ground – which they so shamefully currently occupy – rather than on the left, where they should be, by making comparisons between his annihalation in this General Election and that which, they say, awaits the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn wins (they’re wrong). And whilst I’m at it: Tony Blair, keep your fecking nose out. You led us into an illegal war and now milk the after-dinner speech circuit for all its worth. You are a Tory in everything but name. Your opinion means nothing.
Ahem. Off my chest now. Where were we? Oh yes..:
1984. The year the Miners Strike started. I’m going to assume you know at least something about this. If you don’t, well a) you’re annoyingly young, and b) may I suggest a bloody tidy jumping on point is to watch the excellent “Pride” (It has Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Dominic West in it, the latter with a fabulous 80s haircut. What more can you want from a film??) Just watching those two clips makes me want to watch it again. Hope it does you too.
1984. The year of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I wish I could put my hand on my heart and say I bought any of their records at the time – particularly “Relax” and “Two Tribes“, but I didn’t. However, I did stand back, watch and admire the way they capitalised on the whole Mike Read situation (he was playing “Relax” one morning, and took it off, mid-record, branding it “obscene”). And if there’s one thing we now know, it’s that Mike Read is the very epitome of rational thought. (I give you two words: UKIPCalypso) (For Gawd’s sake, sense my tone…)
1984. The year of Band Aid, when a group of “current” (has Jody Watley ever been current???) pop stars (has Jody Watley ever been a pop star?????) were pulled together by ex-Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and current-if-knackered (see, this is where I start to doubt my own sanity. In the video for “Love’s Great Adventure”, there was definitely a bit where Midge asks the film crew to stop while he has a breather. Right? Right????) Ultravox frontman Midge Ure to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in an effort to help starving millions in Ethiopia, after seeing Michael Buerk‘s report on the news, a record which everybody in the UK seemed to buy, and which you know, so I won’t bother posting a link to it here.
Which seems a convenient jumping off point for not the first record I bought in 1984, but the record which somehow got attached to the whole Band Aid campaign, seemingly solely because of the lines “You can’t go on, thinking nothing’s wrong”.
I’m sure they were delighted, or at least pretended to be, when “Drive” got re-released with “all proceeds” going to the Band Aid charity. And was a bigger hit than it was the first time around (I think…)
Me? I cannot hear this song without thinking of one thing, and sadly that one thing I can find no reference to anywhere on t’internet, other than one other person insisting it happened: Kevin Webster, drunk, singing an a capella version of it on Coronation Street. Seriously, you have no idea how much I wish I could post a link to it right here. Feel free to tell me you remember it too.
Ok, here’s a confessional Guilty Pleasure (No, there is no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure!!) record. Please bear in mind that in 1984 I was just 15 and didn’t know any better, and if I did, I thought it involved Status Quo, so you can choose which is worse:
In my defence, in 1984 we knew very little about Phil Collins. All we had to go on was that he used to be/still was in Genesis, popped up with alarming regularity on Swap Shop or Saturday Superstore or whatever incarnation of Saturday morning TV on the BBC was on (regularly enough to make you think he was the new BA Robertson) and had a fairly succesful solo career doing Diana Ross covers. We did not know that “Sussudio” – the song with the most 80s bassline in the world. Ever…! – would earn extra brownie points for being mentioned (ironically, I think/hope) in American Psycho. We had no idea he was such a douchebag he would fax his wife to thrash out details of their divorce. But props for the use of a very 80s mode of communication. Nor did we know that that gorilla would boff the heck out of some drums on that Cadbury’s advert. It was just Phil Collins. He seemed harmless enough.
I cannot hear this song without thinking of the (slightly amended) “He’s a greasy lover…” introduction Mark Lamarr used to get on Shooting Stars, and which again, I can find no evidence of. So to make up for that, here’s him – at the end of the clip, and sadly cut short – doing “Mr Boombastic” on said kind-of-game show.
The other thing I remember most about owning this single is that shortly after purchase, a blob of what appeared to be raspberry jam appeared on the front cover, which I have never been able to explain (I’m more of a blackcurrant man, myself), and which frankly made storing my 7″ singles a bit of a nightmare from hereon in. Unable to remove the saccahrine splodge, I had to proceed to select which single I liked least and place that next to this in my ever growing singles box.
This is what you come here for, right? Anecdotes about singles I’ve absent-mindedly spilled preservatives on….? No….?
OK, well how about I give you the top two candidates to be the bread around the Phil Collins jam sandwich? Yeh, see? Now you’re interested, right? (Although the idea of a “Phil Collins sandwich” is kind of ewwwwwwwwwwww-y….)
Well, it must have been in 1984 that I abandoned any pretence of just buying records that I liked, and, in a fairly obvious attempt to ingratiate myself to members of the opposite sex, I started buying records that they liked, and which I hoped they would like me for also buying. What a dasterdly master-plan. That is the only explanation I have for the inclusion of the next two records:
I Know, I know. There’s no excuse is there? It’s not as if this is a single from his famous, but still not actually very good, “Human Racing” album. I have always found this to be an utterly ludicrous record, with clunky 6th form, Tolkien-esque nerdo lyrics like this (trust me, I’m doing this so you don’t have to click that last link) :
“Near a tree by a river There’s a hole in the ground Where an old man of Aran Goes around and around And his mind is a beacon In the veil of the night For a strange kind of fashion There’s a wrong and a right But he’ll never, never fight over you”
Yes. I bought this. Actually, I think I stole it from a reputable vendor of 7″ singles no longer with us. but either way, I possessed a copy, and the only justification I can think of, other than trying to impress girls (it didn’t work, by the way; they all just assumed I was gay, I was later told) was that I hoped that with enough plays on Top of the Pops, Simon Le Bon might actually fucking drown whilst tied to a windmill in that video.
Which leads me on to the other two significant episodes in my pop history which just so happened to occur in 1984.
Firstly, Britannia Music.
Anyone of a certain age will remember Britannia Music: firstly, because The Brits are named after them (like that’s a recommendation….) and secondly because in the 1980s you could not open a magazine without a “3 for £10” introductory offer falling out into your lap. And I fell for it.
Here was the deal: you could pick 3 albums and have them for £10; then you stayed as a member for as long as you liked, but had to purchase at least one album a month. And to help you keep your end of the contractual bargain, they would send you a little brochure each month, telling of their wares, and featuring an “Album of the Month”. If you didn’t want the “Album of the Month”, you had to tick a box on a form and send it back to them, pronto. Otherwise you got lumbered with whatever their Album of the Month was and had to pay for the privilege. I was often a little tardy, and consequently ended up with a lot of records I really didn’t want, more of which later. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, what this did do was allow me to indulge in my love of Greatest Hits albums, which led me to buy the next three:
I can’t pretend this song is the reason why I bought this album – that distinction has to go to either “I Only Want To Be With You” or “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” But if I absolutely had to name my favourite 10 songs ever, “I Close My Eyes…” would be right in there, an absolute gem, all slow building breathiness followed by more glorious camp strings than a cub scout jamboree.
See, “electronic” music had at least crossed my radar, not that I would describe this as falling in that genre. But, as I’m sure you know, chicken-rearing Alison (a remembered Smash Hits fact, that) had been one half of Yazoo with Vince Clarke, ex-of Depeche Mode, soon-to-be of Erasure, and in-between jointly responsible for this. So, y’know, it wasn’t all about the guitars with me, even back then. Just mostly.
Invisible was the third single from the album, and I could have just as easily posted “All Cried Out”, but Invisible deftly sums up my appeal to the opposite sex at this point in my life. And for much of it afterwards, if I’m being honest. Which I am, of course.
As I write this now, I’m suddenly struck with how I much I love songs about either failed or unrequited love. It’s an empathy thing, I think. It would also explain why, two years earlier, in an example of what can only be described as the most optimistic thinking ever, I had told my best friend that when the situation arose that I had to finish with a girlfriend, I would simply quote the lyrics to this song to her: Chas. Dave.
Anyway, the second significant episode was my brother going to stay with relatives in America, and coming back tooled up with loads of records popular in The States but which had no impact on this side of the pond. Records which I listened to with growing interest:
He also bought me this, a band I assumed were American, but turned out to be from Sheffield. A band who had a drummer with one arm. (Actually, he still had two arms when this album was recorded; it was when their next album, “Hysteria”, post arm-loss, came out in 1987 that they went truly stratospheric). But I was there first, UK rock fans. Although I’m not so sure this is something to be proud of..
But of all the records my brother brought back from the U S of A with him, there was one band that I totally fell for: The Go-Go’s. Featuring Belinda Carlisle and Jan Wiedlin, they became my pop star crushes to supercede Debbie Harry, five girls who so Google tells me, were the recipents of the 2,444th star on the LA Walk of Fame. Should have got there earlier, ladies. If only you didn’t take so long getting ready, eh lads?
And finally on a Go-Go’s theme, allow me to nudge you in the direction of “Freedom of Choice”, an album of punk and new wave covers including Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth and this, by Redd Kross, a band whose own output I’m not a fan of, but by God they know how to knock out a cover version: