Friday Night Music Club

For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.

I’ve worked it out.

Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.

Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.

See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.

So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.

I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.

So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.

It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.

As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!

One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.

Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.

I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.

Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.

For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.

More soon.

The Chain #51

“Just one week off, please, one week where nothing happens to get my goat, one week where I can post something nice and positive of a Saturday morning. That’s all I ask,” I wrote last week.

A tap on the shoulder from my alter ego.

“There’s always The Chain, which you moved to a Saturday morning…”

Ohhhh yes. Totally forgot about that!

And so I revisited the last post I did in The Chain, and find it was so long ago – December 2020 – that I had the audacity to mention Spurs winning a game of kickball, which hasn’t aged at all well.

So, let’s pick up where we left off all those months ago, with the next record in The Chain that I invited suggestions for. This record:

The Coasters – Charlie Brown

OK, so you can probably guess where most of the suggestions stem from, but we’ll start off with a suggestion by George (not of ASDA).

“Two members of The Coasters used to be in The Robins, who’s best song, and this will undoubtedly be the best song on the next Chain, was Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Which was written by Leiber and Stoller.”

Undoubtedly (we’ll see….):

The Robins – Smokey Joe’s Cafe

So, slightly obscure link dispensed with, let’s address the elephant in the room. There are at least two Charlie Browns, the one in the Coasters song of the same name, and the one that we’re probably all more familiar with, from the Peanuts cartoon.

So let’s kick off properly with songs which reference Charlie Brown, and I’ll hand over to Hal, who explains and suggests thusly: Thirty years ago (30 years FFS
) Jim Bob & Fruit Bat released 101 Damnations which featured…:

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Good Grief Charlie Brown

Hal’s “FFS” is of course Young People Speak for “For Flip’s Sake” [Are you sure about this?- Ed], and is often used when one encounters an anniversary of an event considered to have occurred relatively recently, but which transpires to have actually been much earlier, thereby adding to our feelings of old age and past-it-ness. Don’t be fooled by Hal’s use of Young People Speak, for he is as old as we are, which is why he can conjure up such selections from hitherto forgotten bands such as Carter USM (as I believe the “kids” on “the” “street” refer to them these days, if they do at all).

Hal is to be celebrated for refusing to accept that thirty years have passed since that monumental occasion, oft referred to in history books, as the year of Our Lord 19 Hundred and Ninety, the year Carter USM released their debut album.

And he’s right to refuse to accept this, because as the album came out in January 1990, it’s actually 31 years now. Sorry, Hal!

Staying on the Charlie Brown link, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who not only suggests a song linked to our favourite wibble-mouthed cartoon character, he also introduces a much needed touch of class:

Echo and the Bunnymen’s Bring On The Dancing Horses covers Charlie Brown in its first 2 lines via Jimmy Brown and Charlie Clown


Jimmy Brown Made Of Stone

Charlie Clown No Way Home

Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses

But here’s Rigid Digit, dragging us back into Carter USM territory:

Carter USM’s Falling On A Bruise includes the line: “You win some and you lose some, you save nothing, nothing for a rainy day, You need your nutra-sweet daddy or some Peppermint Patty”

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Falling on a Bruise

Perhaps I should explain. Charlie Brown, as well as being the hapless character in The Coasters records, shares his name with a character in a cartoon written by Shultz called Peanuts.

Cue the next suggestion from Rigid Digit:

Ok, maybe not that Peanuts…

…or this one, suggested by Phonic Pat:

Warmduscher – Disco Peanuts

…but within the cartoon strip known as Peanuts, there are many characters who do have their names crop up in songs. Peppermint Patty is one of them, and here she is again, courtesy of TheRobster:

And then there’s Nobody Speak by DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels which includes the line “I walk Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Lucy / Put coke in the doobie roll moodies to smoke with Snoopy'”

DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels – Nobody Speak

Who else? Well, The Robster doesn’t stop there, trotting out a litany of characters:

Joni Mitchell – Woodstock

Lou Reed – Sally Can’t Dance

Incredibly, since they only made (if you’re feeling generous) two decent records ever, this lot appear for the second edition on the trot:

Hole – Violet

The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Thank you and good luck with your auditions, indeed.

The Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

There was also a band called Linus, continues TheRobster, but I don’t know much about them. Me neither, and I’m not going to do your research for you.

Another Peanuts character, picks up the Devonian, is Lucy Van Pelt, whose name was taken for a Japanese indiepop band, and then they had a trademark issue with whoever owned Peanuts after Charles Schultz died, so they changed it to Advantage Lucy instead. But from their days as Lucy Van Pelt, I’ll suggest:

Lucy Van Pelt – Hammock Waltz

Now when somebody describes a band as being “Japanese indiepop“, I had a pre-conceived idea of what they might sound like, but it was nothing like that. And that’s a good thing – my favourite “never heard of this lot before, must explore” record of the month.

And then there’s the eponymous Charlie Brown himself, or, as Phonic Pat deliberately mis-spells it to get it fit his next suggestion, Charly:

The Prodigy – Charly

Along with his already aired suggestion Rigid Digit also laid claim to some other records being linked, which weren’t (unless I were to allow pun-related tunes, which I might be minded to if we were a little short on the ground of suggestions, which we’re not), so I’m afraid Hang on Snoopy (because it’s Sloopy, not Snoopy) and Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger (because he admits to making up that the line “And so Sally can wait” was written after Noel Gallagher had been watching an episode of Charlie Brown), are both disqualified.

However, nothing wrong with his two Brown suggestions, even if he does claim that they are both related to Charlie’s non-existent siblings:

Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

and…

Frank Zappa – Bobby Brown Goes Down

Maybe Whitney would still be alive if that were true.

And here’s another Brown suggestion, courtesy of Phonic Pat:

The Pogues – A Pair Of Brown Eyes

Devonian is back, with this suggestion: As nobody’s said it yet, “Charlie Brown” is not the only hit song to make use of the hookline “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”. There’s also

Bloodhound Gang – Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me?

I imagine nobody else had suggested that because of the “impression” of a disabled person at the start of it.

Fortuitously, here’s The Great Gog to save us: The phrase “Why’s Everybody Always Picking On Me?” that features in Charlie Brown also appears in this:

The Rainmakers – Let My People Go-Go

I bloody love that record.

Finally, says Phonic Pat, somewhat presumptuously, but I like this suggestion a lot, so I’ll let it slide, linking the trombone sound the adults make in the Peanuts films, how about a trombone take on the Pixies?

Alice Donut – Where Is My Mind

Over to Stevie from Charity Chic now, who has two suggestions for us:

Best Coast – Boyfriend

and:

Coast to Coast – (Do) The Hucklebuck

Although I get the impression he’s not proud of the second choice, as he signs off with the words “I’ll get my coat.” No need, Stevie, really: all of those rock’n’roll and doo-wop records of the late 70s and early 80s were my introduction to pop music, and I have a soft spot for them all, from Shakin’ Stevens to The Stray Cats, from Coast to Coast to Rocky Sharpe and The Replays.

What Stevie has inadvertently done there is lead us seamlessly into those suggestions which consider the Coast aspect of the source record, and here’s The Great Gog with another couple:

I also wonder what type of Coaster the band were named after. A mat on which one places a drink, a person that lives by the sea or a fairground ride? Assuming the latter, we could have:

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Rollercoaster

I personally wouldn’t, GG continues, but you may want to include:

Ronan Keating – Life Is A Rollercoaster

God, that’s nauseating. Let’s cleanse the palate, sharpish:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Love Rollercoaster

and

Belle & Sebastian – The Rollercoaster Ride

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Crikey, he’s been a bit quiet with his own suggestions this time. And you’d be right. Those last two were mine, and so are all of the rest left to go, all of which are Coast-related. To say I picked up on that and ran with it would be an understatement. So strap yourselves in, here we go:

Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)

Laura Cantrell – Queen of the Coast

Maximo Park – The Coast Is Always Changing

Midfield General – Coastnoise (Dave Clarke remix)

Blood Orange – Champagne Coast

If I was still giving out points, I’d have to consider giving myself one for that double coast link as a double pointer.

Now, some parts of the coast have a beach, some have other geographical characteristics. Where there’s a beach, they tend to fall into two general categories: ones made up of pebbles:

Pebbles – Girlfriend

or stones, if you prefer:

The Rolling Stones – The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man

Seriously, if I was still giving out points, I’d have to consider giving myself one for that Stones/coast link as a double pointer.

And the second type of beach, after pebbles/stones? Why, a sandy shore, of course!

Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love

And close to some coast lines, you’ll find the occasional Cliff:

Cliff Richard and The Young Ones – Living Doll

Now, earlier this week it would have been the comic genius Rik Mayall’s birthday, so indulge me for a minute will you?

Thank you.

Here’s the moment from the final episode of The Young Ones where it all goes utterly utterly wrong:

Here’s the video for the song:

And here’s the gang performing it live for Comic Relief:

And best of all, here’s the speech Rik gave when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. If you’ve never seen this before, I’d heartily recommend you take ten minutes to watch it:

All that leaves me to do is to announce the source record for next time’s edition, and to express some sympathy to The Robster, who picked the wrong version of the right song:

Matthews Southern Comfort – Woodstock

Suggestions via the Comments section below please!

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write a series here called Friday Night Music Club.

Here is what I wrote way back in March 2015 to explain:

Friends of mine will tell you I love a themed mix tape or CD.

In my old flat, we used to have what we (ok, I) liked to call The Friday Night Music Club. This would involve us a) getting very drunk b) me shaving my head at some point c) listening to the latest CD mix I’d made (later, when I bought a sound system that allowed me to just plug my iPod in (other mp3 playing devices are available) these mixes got waaaay longer, and probably waaaaay more tedious for the listener) and d) ideally having a bit of a dance.

I’ve done mix tapes and CDs for friends and family all my life (but you already knew that, right?) but the idea here was to make a series of mix CDs which, when played in sequence, you could play at a house party and which would keep the night bubbling along nicely.

Actually, this is something I’d already tried a few years earlier. Friends of mine used to have the most excellent parties at their flat on Hilldrop Road, usually with a DJ playing, but on one occasion the DJ – and for that matter, their decks – couldn’t make it. In their absence I prepared a set of 11 CDs – about 15 hours – which, when played in sequence, took you from aperitifs and welcomers, to “go on have a bit of a dance”, through to off your nut party anthems, and then back down to sitting round talking nonsense about radishes until 6am.

Anyway, back to the Friday Night Music Club. Occasionally I’d make a theme out of the whole thing (hey, if Bob Dylan can do a radio show using the same format, I can do a mix CD, okay?) or do more than one CD and spread the theme out (there was once a 4 CD opus to a former flat mate which deserves a mention in passing) but more often than not the theme would occur to me in the middle of preparing it, and that’d be it
I’d be off
.

As an aside, I appear to have missed some fairly significant landmarks in the history of this place: my first ever post was in September 2013, and if you think my posts are sporadic now, bear in mind that my second post didn’t happen until a year later in 2014. Whatever, a belated 5th anniversary to me!

Anyway, it was when I became rather fixated on the theme rather than with just posting some songs which sound good when played together that I knocked the Friday Night Music Club series on the head.

Since there are now more of us are spending our Friday Nights at home, many of us getting drunk, I figured I would bring the series back for at least a one-off for you to use as your sountrack to your Zoom/Houseparty chats. There might be more, I’ve not decided yet.

Also, this, right here what you’re reading now, is my 1500th post, so I’d like to mark at least one of my landmark posts in a timely manner.

Ahem.

That’s better.

I figured we’d go back to where it all began, to the first few episodes of Friday Night Music Club, but now with fewer attempts to be clever/funny and just more songs to rock your end of the working (from home) week/kids are in bed celebrations.

Actually, I’d hoped to bring this to you last weekend, in time for the Bank Holiday, but time simply caught up with me, the bastard.

The initial intention was simply to repost those early “mixes”, with a few new songs thrown in here and there (and some brutally culled). But as I was working on it, it metemporphasised into something different, perhaps better described as a completely new mix of tunes, very loosely hung on the framework of the old ones, in an effort to reinvigorate them, poncey as that may sound.

If you’d prefer to just listen to this on Spotify, you can do here:

Friday Night Music Club Vol. 1

…although a word of warning: Spotify doesn’t have all of the songs in the playlist, so the only real way to enjoy this in it’s full…erm…glory is by ploughing through the links below.

Oh, and a second word of warning: there’s a fair bit of effin’ and jeffin’ on some of these, so perhaps not for those with young ears.

Hopefully, there will be something for everyone in here (there’s seventy tunes in just over five hours, so I bloody hope so!), so push back the sofa, get yourself a pint of White Russian (or whatever your weapon of choice is), dim the lights and turn up the volume. Let there be grooves. Let there be guitars. Let there be cheese. Let there be some surprises, some forgotten tunes and some old favourites. Let there be singing. Let there be dancing.

Tell you what: I’ll play a song or two by way of a little intro whilst you’re getting yourself sorted:

Patience & Prudence – Tonight You Belong To Me

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Lykke Li – Get Some

Richie Havens – Going Back To My Roots (Groove Armada Go North Remix)

Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug

Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

Jackson Sisters – Miracles

Chic – Good Times (Full-Length Version)

Double Trouble & Rebel MC – Street Tuff (Scar Radio Mix)

Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Sold Out Mix Edit)

Skee-Lo – I Wish

De La Soul – Me, Myself and I

N.W.A. – Express Yourself

Public Enemy – Fight The Power

Clinton – People Power In The Disco Hour

Shed 7 – Disco Down

Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

Cee Lo Green – Fuck You!

Janelle MonĂĄe – Dance Apocalyptic

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

Britney Spears – Toxic (Armand Van Helden Remix)

Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooooh

Icona Pop – I Love It [featuring Charli XCX]

Armand Van Helden – Koochy

Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Human League – Fascination

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Stellastarr* – My Coco

Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To

Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare

The Fall – Dead Beat Descendant

MaxĂŻmo Park – Our Velocity

Sports Team – Here’s The Thing

Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

Elastica – Stutter

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Spread Your Love

Sum 41 – In Too Deep

Good Charlotte – Girls & Boys

My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Ramones – Beat on the Brat

Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Talking Heads – Girlfriend Is Better

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Hong Kong Garden

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

The Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion

The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray (Original Mix)

Mory KantĂ© – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)

Underworld – Cowgirl (Bedrock Mix)

Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Dex & Jonesey’s Higher Stated Mix)

The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

Flowered Up – Weekender

Happy Mondays – W.F.L. [Think About the Future]

The Charlatans – The Only One I Know

Inspiral Carpets – Find Out Why

The Doors – Touch Me

divinyls – I Touch Myself

Yazoo – Don’t Go

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill

Echo & The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar (Way Out West Remix Edit)

LCD Soundsytem – All My Friends

Indeep – Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Primal Scream – Come Together (Terry Farley Remix)

The Bluetones – If


More soon.

Not Appropriate

The more astute amongst you will have noticed that my shtick these days is this: write about something, post a song which sort of links to the subject, to illustrate the point.

Looking back, I can see the birth of this idea comes from occasions when I felt totally inappropriate records were either played or suggested to be played.

Many UK folk will recall a series of adverts that Peter Kay did for a well known bitter, one of which dealt with this exact subject:

See, the art of avoiding the airing of an inappropriate song was something I was aware of from my mid-teens, and consequently I became if not obssessed, then hyper-aware, of when your intentions in playing a record could be misconstrued.

By way of example: I once was asked to do a mixtape for a friend, and in between me saying that I would, she had the misfortune to break up with her boyfriend.

Now, as any compulsive mixtape/playlist maker knows, the first draft is never the one that is gifted: there are many, many more drafts as you think of better records to include. But through all of the drafts, there was one song on the tape which I didn’t want to get rid off, because it’s a wonderful, wonderful record.

However, given recent developments, I worried that it might touch a nerve, and be considered a tad on the insensitive side.

So I figured I would ask LlĆ·r and his answer was this:

“I think you’re massively over-thinking things.”

This was the song in question:

Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

The song remained. No offence was taken (I think).

So where does this unfounded terror stem from?

Here: as a teenager I went to my cousin’s wedding. I was of roughly the same age as the bride’s younger brother, and so we sat together, me, him and one of his mates, when the latter announced to us that he wanted the DJ to play a certain record that he really liked.

Because he hadn’t thought about it.

And both my cousin and I tripped over each other in our efforts to stop him from approaching the DJ to ask for this, which we both told him was not a song that should be played at a wedding reception:

Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield

It’d be like playing Going Underground at a funeral or Something’s Burning at a cremation (not that many wakes have a DJ, just the cool ones, but you get the giste).

Quite a few years later, I was asked, along with a friend, to DJ at a friend’s wedding. We agreed, and my co-DJ told me that they really wanted to play the next record.

“We can’t play that,” I said firmly.

“Why not? It’s a great record!”

“Yes. Yes it is. But we can’t play it.”

I didn’t think it needed spelling out, but I was wrong.

After the second or third time I removed it from the deck, each time challenged as to the reason, I finally broke:

“Because our friend is marrying a rather wealthy banker, so this is not an appropriate record for us to play at their wedding.”

This one:

Kanye West (feat. Jamie Foxx) – Gold Digger

I’m right, right?

More soon.

The Chain #42

Right, you can all stop checking the time, here it is, three weeks late, but that’s better than another super-long hiatus, surely?

More mega than a fleet of MegaBuses, yes! It’s time to check the buffering capabilities of your hardware and internet provider as we launch into the latest instalment of The Chain.

And what a selection we have for you this week!

But before we get started, some admin. The more observant of you will have spotted a new page link over there on the left entitled “The Chain – The Rules”. You’ll never guess what you see if you click that!

I mention this because there would have been a couple of disqualifications this week for (unintentional) breaches of the rules; luckily one of the transgressors realised and suggested an alternative link.

The easiest rule to break is suggesting a song which has already featured, and I appreciate with around 1000 songs having featured so far this can be somewhat tricky to keep up with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing up a definitive list of every song which has featured so far, but until I’ve got round to finishing that (and writing The actual Chain takes up a fair bit of time when I could be doing that), if you want to check your options are:

1) Read every previous edition of The Chain (bit time consuming that one)

2) Check the Tags down the left-hand side; if the act you wish to suggest is not listed there, then you’re fine (assuming I remembered to add them, of course). If it is listed, click their name and you’ll be taken to every page that a song by them has featured on and you can check that way.

3) Email me at dubioustaste26@gmail.com and I’ll check and get back to you.

OK, admin over, let’s remind ourselves of the source record for this week:

echo

41. Martha & The Muffins – Echo Beach

The biggest source of linkage this week was the “Echo” part of the song title, so let’s get cracking with one of mine. Since an echo is something happening again, this seems to be an appropriate place to start:

whitesnake-here-i-go-again-usa-remix-emi

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

So, who else provided echo-based suggestions? Well, here’s Alex G of the temporarily (I hope) dormant We Will Have Salad to provide not just a suggestion, but also a definition of “echo”, which saves me the bother of having to copy and paste something from an online dictionary to justify some of the other suggestions I’ve come up with:

“… an echo is an acoustic phenomenon caused by sound bouncing off walls. And ceilings. And other things. But it’s the first one which concerns us here, because it leads me to suggest….”

R-1430717-1312589718_jpeg

Matthew Wilder – Bouncin’ Off The Walls

Unsurprisingly, several of you (well, five actually) proposed records by Echo & The Bunnymen, so we may as well get one of those out of the way next, and it’s over to Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame, with his second suggestion. (No, you haven’t blinked and missed his first, that’s coming in a while. It’s called editing.)

“Echo and the Bunnymen…sang ‘Silver (Tidal Wave)’, a beach connection there too.”

Yes indeed, that’s your first – of many, it has to be said – double linkers of the week right there. Points!

echo-and-the-bunnymen-silver-korova-3

Echo & The Bunnymen – Silver (Tidal Wave)

Next to one of several songs this week that I had never heard of before the suggestions came flooding in, this one courtesy of The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposed this by Cavern of Anti-Matter who, for the uninitiated (i.e. me), are Joe Dilworth and Tim Gane, formerly of Stereolab, possibly one of the most missed and most under-rated (if that’s not a contradiction, and if it is, I’m sure it’s one which would please them immensely) bands of the last twenty years or so:

cavern_of_anti_matter_lj_191115

Cavern of Anti-Matter – Echolalia

I like that. A lot. Thanks for nudging it under my nose, Swede.

Which leads us quite nicely onto another suggestion by Alex G:

“When they recorded ‘Echo Beach’, Martha And The Muffins’ drummer was one Tim Gane. Another Tim Gane was more famously (not *much* more famously, I admit) the lead guitarist of McCarthy and Stereolab. [I just told them that – Ed] So I’ll go for….”

McCarthy (2)

McCarthy – Should The Bible Be Banned?

And since that takes us back into 1980s indie territory, that makes it time for another Echo & The Bunnymen track, this one proposed by Alyson from What’s it All About?:

ECHO_&_THE_BUNNYMEN_SEVEN+SEAS-373603

Echo & The Bunnymen – Seven Seas

“…double link there if I’m not mistaken…” pleads Alyson. Hmmm…Echo, yes…Seas -> Beach…what do you reckon, Chain Gangers? Oh go on then: Points!

I first posted that song way back in August 2015, accompanied by a retelling of one of the many faux pas I’ve committed over the years. Since some of you may not have frequented these pages that long ago, indulge me for a moment whilst I relate this one, which took place circa 1984, as I waited for the school bus and found myself chatting to one of the “cool kids” at school. He liked cool music (i.e. not Quo) and during this conversation he extolled the virtues of ‘Seven Seas’. My response, a rather pathetic and, as it transpired, ill-judged, attempt to ingratiate myself, was to talk at length about the lead singer fire-eating on Top of the Pops and how impressive he was. I realised mid-flow that my conversation piece was attracting some quizzical looks. And that was because I had completely mis-heard him. When he had said ‘Seven Seas’, I had thought he had said this song title:

Not cool, just…not.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, here’s Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life with the scecond song this week that I’ve never heard before. Over to you Walter:

“They might be forgotten but this song is still worth to listen to sometimes…”

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Echosmith – Tell Her You Love Her

Actually, that was Walter’s second suggestion. His first was for an Echo & The Bunnymen track, and I think enough time has passed since the last one to allow me to post his, which needs no introduction:

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon

What with all of these songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and with ‘Echo’ meaning something happening again, or being repeated, you could say that we’re…

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Little Boots – Stuck on Repeat (Fake Blood Remix)

Now, a couple of you picked up on the Echo/Repeat/Again angle, but to explain how The Great Gog (who appears to still be doing DIY) got there, we’ll have to take a slight – but relevant – detour:

“Martha And The Muffins’ follow-up to ‘Echo Beach’ was called Saigon, the former name for a city in Vietnam whose new name I can’t accurately spell. This gives rise to…”

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Jimmy Cliff – Vietnam

“…and…”

Hold your horses, there GG. Or hold your gee-gees, there, GG. Time to unveil the old catchphrase for the first time this week.

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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They Might Be Giants – Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Right. As you were.

…and… “Paul Hardcastle’s oh-so-clever (well we thought so in 1985)…”

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Paul Hardcastle – 19

…and “on the theme of a city being named twice…”

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Gerard Kenny – New York, New York

Which leads us on to a very brief sub-category, those of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves. This is by far my favourite category of the week. You’ll see why. Julian from Music from Magazines suggested this, which probably doesn’t need any further explanation:

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Status Quo – Down Down

The Quo, there, demonstrating on the record sleeve their renowned empathy for the Black Power movement.

And that brings to an end that sub-category of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves.

You know what I haven’t said for a while? I haven’t said the words: “And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by *insert name of Chain Gang member here*“. I feel an overwhelming need to say it again. But not just yet. I’ll wait til I’m asked.

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Badly Drawn Boy – Say It Again

Oh okay then, if you insist.

And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by Dirk from sexyloser with the closest we’ve had to a Showboating Suggestion so far:

“Nominated to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches back in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was Burundi’s coast fronting Lake Tanganyika: if you’ve never been there, you really have missed a treat, I can tell you!

So obviously the correct link can only be Echo & The Burundimen (yes, it’s the Bunnymen in disguise, but still I haven’t made that [name] up, just listen to McCulloch’s intro!) and ‘Zimbo’, the 1982 Shepton Mallet live version though!”

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Zimbo (Live from Shepton Mallett with Burundi Drummers)

Which very nearly brings us to the end of the Echo section. Except…

Except I can’t believe nobody suggested anything by this lot. This is the first single I ever bought by them, before they’d properly found their feet and commercial success:

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Echobelly – Insomniac

And that does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…

Except, you’ll recall that I mentioned five of you had suggested songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and so far we’ve only had four. Well, GMFree suggested their rather wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ but then ploughed through the entire history of suggestions in The Chain and retracted that on the grounds that it had featured back in #31 so I wouldn’t have been able to allow it. (Oh, and whilst I’m on songs I couldn’t allow – Lynchiefromab, if you check the Comments in the last Chain, you’ll see that I wasn’t sure if yours were suggestions or just recommendations; if the latter then, thank you, and you’re right, but if the former than I couldn’t allow either of them as they contravene rule No. 6: “Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re cleverer than that.” And I know that you are. Sorry!) However, GMFree did propose a different Echo & The Bunnymen track, a cover version, but suggested that I might post the original instead, since the performers have never featured in The Chain before.

So I will:

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The Doors – People Are Strange

And that really does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…

Except, speaking of strange people, and making suggestions which kind of echo, here’s Jules again, and strangely he hasn’t proffered anything by Lambchop this week. Instead:

“Beach of course can remind one of….”

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 Palace – Gulf Shores

Nowt echo-y about that, I hear you say, assuming you’re trying to sound like a stereotypical Northern Englander. Carry on, Jules:

“Echo of course can remind one of…”

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Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Gulf Shores

“What a prankster.”

In case you’ve no idea what Jules is blethering on about, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the best known stage name of Will Oldham, but he has also recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. As you know, I prefer it if there’s only one suggestion per person for the same band, but since these two versions are so different, and since they were recorded under different monikers, and since I allowed GMFree to suggest more than one tune by Steven Jones last week for the same reason, I guess I’ll have to let it slide this time.

Speaking of GMFree and Steven Jones:

“Mentioning Mr Jones is too easy on this occasion as Babybird was signed to the Echo label, instead I’ll just suggest one track from his 27th (!) album as Black Reindeer…available through Bandcamp.”

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Black Reindeer – A Rusted Statue Of Liberty Crawls Out Onto A North Korean Beach

Now, I wouldn’t normally buy a track specifically for The Chain, preferring the suggester to provide me with a copy, but I was intrigued by that title so I downloaded that song from the band’s Bandcamp page, as recommended. And shortly afterwards, I got an email from Steven Jones which read: “Ooh a bit topical that purchase Sx”. Which was nice. So I’ll not complain about being out of pocket. This time.

You’d have to have had your head buried in the (beach) sand to not understand what he was referring to, and as it happens, this was not the only track which referenced the forthcoming apocalypse.

A warm welcome back to Marie from It’s All In The Groove

“‘Echo Beach’ puts me in mind of the 1959 film ‘On the Beach’, which depicts the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war. (Not a surprising image, considering the current state of affairs, I suppose.) The film stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel. Anyway, as I’ll use any excuse to post some black gospel quartet music, my selection is the 1950 ‘a capella’ version of…”

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The Pilgrim Travelers – Jesus Gonna Hit Like An Atom Bomb

Now we left Jules muttering away to himself about Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, let’s see if he’s finished:

“…His remake of his ‘I See a Darkness’ is also a cracking number…”

Nope, clearly not.

“…Trump saw a darkness (with no sunglasses) but had embraced it a long time ago…”

Erm, are we going anywhere with this….?

Seems we are:

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Mel Brooks – To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)

 Okay….

Well, bar that last little excursion, we appear to not only be in nuclear war related territory – cheerful! – but also Beach related, so let’s have some more of those. And since that last song contains the lyric “Hello New Order!”, it seems appropriate for us to go back and find out what Swiss Adam’s other suggestion was:

“‘Echo Beach’ takes me to the remixed version of Blue Monday from its b-side in ’83…”

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New Order – The Beach

Whilst we’re beach bound, here’s Martin from New Amusements:

“Since Echo Beach was “far away in time” I’ll also lob [this] into the mix:”

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Shakespear’s Sister – You’re History

Bet you’re expecting me to suggest something by The Smiths now, right? Close, but no cigar. Instead, the greatest song about a seaside resort (that isn’t Echo Beach, of course):

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Chas & Dave – Margate

Over to Kay next, who, in an uncharacteristicly rare moment of brevity, simply writes this:

“Echo beach = beach = seaside = candy floss = “

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The Stone Roses – (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister

So, having exhausted all of the suggestions about echoes, beaches and, of course, Nazis and impending nuclear doom, we’ll move onto something a lot nicer. Back to Martin who suggests this as a double linker:

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The Jam – Heat Wave

And the thinking behind this double-linker? Well, for a start, the original is by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (we’ll be coming back to some more Martha’s shortly), but also:

“…because you often get jam in the middle of a cake, and a muffin is a type of cake, so yes, I am making a blatant play for a double-linker (and The Jam’s version is, ahem, ace).”

Yes it is, and that’s a succesful double-linker play too. Points!

Do I need to get a shiny gameshow host jacket to wear whilst I write this, do you reckon?

But Martin’s not done there, oh no:

“Talking of muffins being a type of cake, I must also throw in [this] by Kiwi tunesmiths Crowded House:”

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Crowded House – Chocolate Cake

Which leads me onto this, a track lifted from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time one of those tribute albums, which were all the rage once upon a time, and which could (typically) be a little on the patchy side (and this one really is patchy).

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King Missile – Get Up

In case you’re wondering what that’s doing there, give it a listen partly as there’s an extra verse, not in the original, which links to Martin’s last choice, but mostly because it’s an utterly wigged-out mental cover version.

And whilst we’re still on chocolate cake, it’s about time I posted another clip:

Right, that’s Muffins pretty much covered, right?

Well, actually, not quite. Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“Muffin was a Mule and a Mule is sort of like an Ass
 though very slightly different.” Which brings us to, rather rudely:

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Denis Leary – Asshole (Uncensored Version)

Well, there’s really no need for language like that. Allow me to drag us out of the gutter with this Ass related tune:

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Groove Armada feat. Gram’ma Funk – I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim Radio Edit)

Okay, so that must be Muffins, Mules and Asses all covered, where next?

To Charity Chic of Charity Chic Music, that’s where:

“This week I am going to suggest a band Swiss Adam first encountered in a hungover state in Monorail records in Glasgow…”

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Breakfast Muff – Feast

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“Huh ahuh ahuh…he said ‘Muff’..ahuhhuh…”

“…and,” continues CC, “also on the Muff theme ‘Keep on Running’ by the Spencer Davis Group who had Muff Winwood as a member.”

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The Spencer Davis Group – Keep On Running

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“Huh ahuh ahuh…he said ‘Muff’ again…ahuhuh…”

Okay, okay, whilst we’re here, another one from Walter, “…a wonderful song by John Martyn…an all time fave of mine…”

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John Martyn – Big Muff

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Can everyone stop saying “Muff” please?

Let’s have some Echo Beach/Martha and the Muffins facts to raise the tone a little.

Fact One: Martha and the Muffins are Canadian.

“Plenty of Canadian bands/artist to choose from,” chips in Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense, “including: Rush (but who has time to listen to the whole of Side 1 of ‘2112’?), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. All too obvious, but this bunch of Canadian one-hit wonders…:”

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Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance

“Did you know,” pipes up George, inadvertently providing Fact Two, “that Echo Beach has been voted the 35th greatest Canadian song of all time? The greatest song is the execrable song ‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian and Sylvia, which must surely get the Worst Song vote.”

Well, I’ll happily do that George, although you realise that would mean you’d have to agree the Chas & Dave record is better…? Along with two other songs yet to feature that we all know you’ll hate….?

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Ian & Sylvia – Four Strong Winds

Four strong winds, you say? Here’s four in varying levels of strength.

  1. The ease and squeeze:

2. The Pant Ripper (a classic):

3. The Preposterously Executed:

and 4. The Accidental Decongestant:

Right, that’s…erm…got that out of my system. More factoids please!

Fact Three, courtesy of babylotti:

“‘Echo Beach’ was released in 1980 on DinDisc records, another record that was released in 1980 on Dindisc records, and one that I still have (okay, it was a re-release in 1980, but that’s the one I have) is…:

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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity

Before we get on to the final category, time for those two songs which George won’t like, the first of which is suggested by Alyson, and I think this one wins the award for Comment Showboat of the week (or have I already awarded that? I don’t know, I’m tired…). George, sorry, I was going to leave these two till last to make it easier for you to ignore them, but thematically they kind of need to be posted earlier.

Anyway, here’s Alyson’s suggestion:

“Martha’s Vineyard is actually a small island off the State of Massachusetts. It faces out onto the Atlantic and it’s where they filmed ‘Jaws’. The fake shark they used for the movie was given the name Bruce.” Which leads us to:

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Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City

“We now just need something from The Clash,” Alyson continues, “and order will be restored.”

Step forward abramson60, who obliges with this:

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The Clash – Charlie Don’t Surf

And so on to the final category, songs which link to Martha. And we’ll start off with my own double-linker for the week.

There’s a well known phrase in certain communities: “Is he Arthur or Martha?”. Well, here’s an Arthur, Arthur Lee to be precise, and he and his band are going to sing a Love-Lee song which has an Echo/Repeat/Again link too. Points please!

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Love – Alone Again Or

Who else has a Martha tune to suggest? C from Sun Dried Sparrows does:

“First thought – got Martha on my mind now so I’d like to offer one of those songs that surely everybody knows and surely everybody likes? What better time for an office clerk with a very boring job to go down to Echo Beach than during a heatwave, too?” 

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Martha & The Vandellas – Heat Wave

“(Also love the Who’s version)” C signs off. Yeh, me too, but we’ve already had this twice this week, so let’s save that one for another day.

Back to GMFree next, and a suggestion for  “…a song written as a tribute to Billy Corgan’s mother…:”

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The Smashing Pumpkins – For Martha

Next up on the oche is The Robster from Is This The Life? Now, a few weeks ago, Rob announced that he was thinking about stopping writing his blog as he was feeling devoid of inspiration and was just going through the motions. I’ve often felt the same about this place, and I know others in our little blogging community have too. You may not know that Rob lives not a million miles away from where I used to in South Wales, and I love his blog for it keeps me in touch with what’s going on down in and around my old stomping ground so I’m delighted that he’s decided – for now – to keep going, albeit with less frequent posts.

I mention all this not to put any unintentional pressure on him to carry on, but because having cut back on his posts he seems to have gone a bit stir crazy, suggesting “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group on the basis that Martha & The Muffins were an all-male band. Getting confused by that whole “Arthur or Martha” issue there, I think.

To be fair, Rob did correct himself almost immediately (with a little help from Alex G, who I can confirm is not a qualified doctor, but is  a very keen enthusiast), and redeemed himself by suggesting this, another of the records I’d never heard before, and which I’m really quite pleased that I have now. And it’s a double pointer, featuring as it does a Martha and “two items you might see at a beach”:

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Martha – Ice Cream and Sunscreen

Points!

“What does it matter anyway?” Rob offers by way of an explanation. “If Bowie taught us anything it’s that gender is irrelevant and merely a label.”

Speaking of Bowie, here’s GMFree again:

“Martha Mooke played in the string quartet on [Bowie’s]…”

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David Bowie – Time Will Crawl (MM Remix)

Back to The Swede again next:

“In May last year I concluded a post containing one of [his suggested artists’s] fine songs, by saying that I’d return to his music soon – a promise I’ve yet to keep. I must remedy that situation.”

And having heard this, I think I’ll be joining you to investigate further:

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Huw M – Martha a Mair

Time for Abramson60 next, who…erm…echoes some of the sentiments raised earlier:

“Looks like things are getting worse and worse US of A side, can it really get any worse? My suggestion this week could well be aimed at that excuse for a human being, Trump. No need to explain the link?”

Nope, but this young lady certainly needs to wash her potty-mouth out with soap and water:

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Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

Another from Alex G now, who suggests “…a lovely song which is never played on the radio because if it was, everybody would stop what they were doing to listen, at a cost to the UK economy of several squillion pounds.”

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All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

I agree, it is a lovely song, although I suspect were it played more often, people would stop what they were doing to remember when – and I’m sorry to bring it up again (I’m not in the least bit sorry, as it goes) – this happened:

More from Rol next, who suggests this next song on the grounds that a) it has the word “Martha” in the title, b) it doesn’t have any other words in the title, and c) he “…can’t believe nobody’s suggested it yet
”

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Tom Waits – Martha

George is back with another suggestion: “I’m hoping no one has suggested a link from Martha Johnson (that would be the Martha of Martha and the Muffins) to….:”

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Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black

*Insert obligatory Ali G joke here*

As it happens, George has sort of gone down a route I explored, only I sought out other famous Marthas and linked from there. And here’s what I came up with:

Firstly, this which features Martha Wash, who was one half of The Weather Girls, but you’ll forgive for not posting anything by them, I hope:

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Todd Terry – Something Goin’ On

Then there’s Martha Washington, the USA’s first First Lady, which leads me to this chap:

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The Ram Jam Band with Geno Washington – Shake Shake Senora

And the presidential links don’t end there, for there was also of course Martha Jefferson, wife to Thomas, who became 3rd President of The United States in 1801. Martha would have been the third First Lady, had she not rather inconveniently died in 1782. Anyway, this Martha leads me to this ground-breaking house record from 1986:

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Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body

Two to go until the big reveal, and here’s another one by Martha Wainwright, courtesy of Walter:

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Martha Wainwright – Jesus & Mary

And finally, back to GMFree, or rather, to Mrs GMFree, who gives two suggestions; this:

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Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Dancing in the Street

And the other is…well, Mrs GMFree was not alone in suggesting it, for it was also proposed by Rigid Digit (and I thought one other person too, but I’m buggered if I can spot who it was now. If you suggested it and I have omitted to credit you, make yourself known and I’ll amend this bit).

Which means that for the first time ever, we have two people correctly guessing the next record in The Official Chain, which, with the simple explanation of From one Martha to another…” is this:

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42. The Beatles – Martha My Dear

Points! Lots of them!!

So to wrap things up, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Whenever that might be.

More soon.

Happy 50th, Shit Elvis!

It’s almost four years since I started writing this blog.

I mention this not because I want recognition for the longevity of it – although it is a minor miracle that I haven’t got bored of it yet – but to make a point.

Which is that I really didn’t expect I’d still be writing it now. And sometimes, the fact that I am still going causes me a bit of a problem.

You see, as long term readers will know, I use this place not just to furnish you with (hopefully) entertaining bon mots and tunes I like and hope you do too, but to pass on my best wishes to friends and family when birthdays and moments of significance happen. Because, y’know, I’m too cheap to actually buy them a present or send a card – surely a mention and a tune on here is better than either of those things, right?

But, the thing is, the longer I write things here, the harder it becomes to write something new about the subject in question on their special day.

Take my brother, for example. He lives in India (for now, until the FEDs catch up with him) so we don’t see each other often, maybe once or twice a year. And so when he has a birthday, this is my medium for letting him know I’m thinking of him.

And when he hits a significant birthday, like he does today, his 50th birthday, I feel that I ought to pull out the stoppers and write something worthy of such an occasion.

But when I’ve written about him and the influence he has had on me and my music collection so many times already, what more is there to say?

Well, he often points out (when I mention somebody or something from our dim and distant past, or when it comes to our parents’ birthdays or wedding anniversaries, all of which I assume he would remember but email him to check),  ‘I’m the one in charge of remembering stuff’, so perhaps there’s quite a lot.

He’s probably my longest serving reader (I hate the word follower – I’m not the Messiah, I’m a very naughty boy, to misappropriate a famous quote), and if he isn’t then he’s certainly the family member who has been reading the guff I write here for the longest.

When he started reading this, he was very supportive; often I’d receive an email or a text from him telling me he liked what I’d written. He’s also the only person to so far accept my invitation to write a post for this place and have it published (I have a couple in reserve before the authors of those take offence). You can read that here, and I have re-upped the links should you wish to listen to any of the songs mentioned. It’s annoyingly good (although I did send him back to rewrite it at least once, a process that he rightly compared to being back in double English class); I’ve just re-read it and laughed quite a lot.

I first told him about this place in January 2015, when he and I went to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform their legendarily awesome “Psychocandy” album at The Troxy in East London. If there’s one band who will forever unify us, then it’s them: a band he loved when he was in his full-on Goth mode in the mid-80s, and a band that sweet naĂŻve young me tried to resist the allure of, but could not. So this seems to be an appropriate moment to have our first musical interlude:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

I bought the tickets for that gig as a present, but actually it was payback for him buying me two tickets to go and see Squeeze back in 1987, when they had just reformed with Jools “boogie woogie” Holland in the line-up, on the tour to promote their “Babylon and On” album. Which is a cue for another song, I think. But not from that album, because it’s not very good.

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

I’m painting this as a quite the harmonious relationship, aren’t I? It wasn’t always thus.

I don’t think he would argue much if I said that for quite a long time, when we were kids, we really didn’t like each other much, or rather liked each other only in that “You’re my brother so I have to like you” kind of way. We fought a lot. Our childhood is littered with stories about how we managed to break stuff whilst fighting, most notably a violin bow (we both somehow ended up trying to learn how to play the screeching instrument when we were in Junior School) and a few years later, a snooker cue, which I distinctly recall breaking when I twatted him with it across the small of his back. Trust me, he was asking for it.

But I also remember the night that changed.

We had been growing closer as we got older, and saw less of each other, which may not be coincidental; also he and his mates Rob and Phil had asked me to join them as representatives of their local pub in a Pool League. I was alright at pool at the time, indicative of a wasted childhood, although I would often try a ridiculously adventurous shot which would result in me accidentally potting the black. I don’t think I won a single game for them.

It was the journeys to the away matches that I loved, cruising round the sleepy backwaters of local villages, ‘Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy blasting from the car stereo – those trips probably did more to meld my musical tastes than anything else. I was in a gang, albeit a gang who were terrible at pool, and since they liked this kind of music it seemed appropriate that I should too.

I remember the night that we buried the hatchet, when no more snooker cues would be broken. It was his birthday, either his 19th or 20th, and we went to the local pub. We drank and chewed the fat, and on the short walk home he turned to me and said “You’re alright really, aren’t you?”

Which may not sound like much a of a compliment, but after ten years plus of battering each other, it was like the Good Friday talks writ small. And the feeling was mutual.

And since then, well, we’ve been friends. Which may not sound like much to most of you, but bearing in mind how much we fought when we were kids, and how infrequently we see each other, I’m pretty chuffed about.

As you will know if you’ve read that post he wrote, he joined the RAF at a young age, and remained in its loyal service, rising to the rank of Sergeant, until the early 2000s, when the offer of early retirement and a decent pay-off was too good to decline. And so it was that the family was invited to an RAF base in Lincolnshire to pay witness to him leaving the forces.

I say the family, but rules are quite archaic on an RAF base; women were not allowed into the hall where a set meal and a presentation took place to honour all that were leaving, so my Dad, my brother and I went and ate, drank and were merry for an afternoon, whilst Mum had to entertain herself elsewhere.

Afterwards, we retired to the Officer’s Mess, where my Mum was permitted to join in; and there was a further perk – a subsidised bar. Not a free bar, a subsidised one, so the drinks were ridiculously cheap: 50 pence (I think, though it may have been 20p) for whatever you wanted to drink, on the proviso that whenever you bought a drink, you bought the person serving you one too. Deal.

People who know me will be able to guess what happened next: a long afternoon and evening of drinking Jack Daniels and coke, a family trait, it turned out, as was commented on by many of my brother’s colleagues. I lost count of the amount of people I was introduced to who said something along the lines of “Oh Christ, does he drink as much of that stuff as you do?”

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Gene – Fill Her Up

The next day, in a severely hungover state, my Dad told me that he couldn’t believe how much my brother and I had drunk the night before: we had, apparently, drunk nothing but Jack Daniels from about five in the afternoon until chucking out time (and even then we moved on to a different bar) at a rate of a new double every fifteen minutes or so. “I saw them change the bottle at least six times”, he said, in a tone pitched somewhere between concern and awe.

And then there was my brother’s actual demob party. For years he had a yearning to do the Monopoly Challenge – to have a drink in a bar at every location listed on a standard UK Monopoly board in one afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, he invited me along, provided I brought my drinking trousers with me.

I buckled up.

And so it was that I travelled up from Cardiff to London one Saturday, met up with him and a bunch of his squaddie mates – the names of whom escape me, mostly (there was, I think, a Pete and a Jeff) for reasons which will become perfectly obvious if it hasn’t already – and at mid-day I was bundled into a stretch limo at Kings Cross Station that they had hired for the day.

See, it turns out that my brother wasn’t the only person in the world who wanted to play this drinking game on a grand scale. In fact, there are companies who run specific tours allowing the party to play this game, with a pre-determined route taking you to a bar at every stop on the board. The only difference is that the driver wants to take you to each destination according to whichever was nearest; we, however, instructed him that we had to do it sequentially, in order, even if that meant it would take longer than to do it the way the limo company wanted you to do it.

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

What I wanted to do now was post a song which links to every property on the Monopoly board as I recounted what happened in which bar, but that proved too arduos a task (plus, my memory is kind of fuzzy about the whole day, so a running commentary is simply out of the question). So instead, here’s a song related to the Jail square:

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Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

Safely ensconced in the bosom of my new-found drinking partners, I was plied with a flute glass filled with a mixture of Guinness and champagne. Sounds revolting, turns out it was alright.

And then there was the Space Dust.

You remember Space Dust, right? A powder you placed on your tongue which popped and pinged and fizzed. This stuff:

Spacedust

Except the decision was made that we could not consume the Space Dust in the traditional manner. Instead, if we wanted to have some then it had to be ingested nasally.

This sounded like a blast to me, with a couple of Guinness and Champagne combos sloshing around inside me. And so, rolled up twenty pound note at the ready, I gave it a go.

Such an anti-climax. Rather than fizzing and popping in my nose as I had hoped, it just kind of congealed and sat there, like a big lump of snot. Kids take note: drugs , don’t do ’em.

Oh, one more thing you need to know before I report on the events of the day: his squaddie mates had insisted he dressed as Elvis (Presley, not Costello), so for the entire day he was wearing a white jumpsuit, a pair of 70s sunglasses, and a wig which slowly deteriorated as the day progressed.

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Manic Street Preachers – Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier

And so, to Old Kent Road we went, then Whitechapel Road (to a bar which proudly advertised the fact that the Krays used to drink there) and so to The Angel Islington, and to a bar which I forget the name of, but which seemed to be a real old school boozer.

It was remarkably busy for that time of day; split into two rooms, the squaddies squeezed their way into the room next to where I was pinned; I could see through the doorway that it appeared to be very full, quite raucous, with all of the men – and it was only men – looking in the same direction. I assumed there must be some sport on the TV in that room, and focused my attention on my beer.

Until…

Until a naked Japanese woman thrust a pint glass with pound coins in it under my nose. At which point the penny dropped.

She shook the pint glass.

“You see my show?” she said.

“Erm…no…I didn’t…sorry…” I replied, trying desperately to maintain eye contact.

“But you see me now?” she said, and gestured past her neck level.

Now that’s cheating, I thought. I haven’t asked to be here, I’ve not asked to see you all nudey, and even if I had, I haven’t seen the traditional transitional clothes on-to-off sequence which generally is the thing men are willing to pay to see. All I’ve seen is a naked woman thrust a pint glass under my nose, and this was a regular sight at 3am on Caroline Street in Cardiff.

I made my excuses, downed my drink and went outside for a cigarette.

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The Cramps – Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs

Before I go any further, I would like to stress that no naked girls were harmed in the making of this post. One of the bevy of beauties who continually go-go dance in my flat did fall downstairs once, but that was entirely coincidental, and the man who lives in the flat below me was most appreciative.

Get to the Orange properties on the Monopoly board, as we did around 5pm-ish on the day, and you’re faced with a bit of a problem: there are no pubs or bars on Vine Street. We asked the driver what we should do, and he pointed us in the direction of a pizzeria, where, as long as you bought some food, you could also buy beer. The address of the place wasn’t on Vine Street, but half of the restaurant area looked out onto it. That’ll do, we thought, and several rounds of garlic bread later, we had another one ticked off. This seems appropriate:

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The Vines – Ride

By this time, bladders were full, so the concept of “Little Boy’s Wee” was introduced.

Worry not, we’re not about to go all Yew Tree on you.

Because we had reached the stage where most of us would be ready to visit the Gents, the jeopardy that was “Little Boy’s Wee”  was introduced. And that was this: if you went into the gents and encountered a fellow Monopoly member who wasn’t peeing like a little boy – that is, pants AND trousers around your ankles as you stood at the urinal, bare arse on display – then the next round was for the pee-er to get in.

I got some funny looks in that bar.

And so to the Red properties, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if that didn’t mean I post this…

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Roxy Music – Do The Strand

…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.

Trafalgar Square, on the other hand, was quite the opposite kettle of fish.

Our driver pulled up at Trafalgar Square, where we found the whole area was cordoned off. A stage, empty, stood at one end. Clearly, something was due to happen there in the next day or so. This, since my brother had decided he wanted to paddle in the fountains, was a problem.

We strutted up to the cordon, where we were greeted by a security guard.

“Sorry lads, no entry” he said, sort of firmly.

At which point, one of the squaddies – it may have been Pete, it may have been Jeff, it may have been one of the others – cocked a thumb in my brother’s direction. My brother, don’t forget, is dressed as 70s Elvis.

“Erm…but he’s the talent for tomorrow night,” he said. “This should have all been cleared. We’re just here to look the venue over and make sure it meets with the talent’s requirements.”

Unbelievably, the security guard, rather than phoning it in to check, just lifted the cordon and said “OK then, in you go.”

At which point, a man dressed as Elvis ran forwards, dived into the fountain, resurfaced and started telling everyone to “Come on in, the water’s lovely. Uh-huh-huh”

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Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

(The relevance of that record will become clear if you listen to the talkie bit at the end: “And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain, and that’s because it IS a good idea.”)

From out of nowhere, several more security guards arrived and escorted us back past the cordon. I heard one of them chastising the guard who had let us in: “They’re just a bunch of pissheads. One of them is dressed as a shit Elvis. Did you really think all thisis for a Shit Elvis that’s playing here tomorrow night??”

Mate, if you’re reading this and lost your job as a result of that, I’m really sorry.

And so on to a bar in the proximity of Trafalgar Square, a bar which we found had a basement room which was hired out for private functions, and on this particular Saturday was being used for a wedding reception.  A basement room with a woefully under-staffed bar, which meant that many of the guests came upstairs to the regular bar, where we were, to get served.

Including the groom.

Now putting aside for a moment the reason why the groom is having to buy his own drinks at his own wedding reception, what this meant was that he clapped eyes on my brother. Still dressed as Elvis, albeit as slightly bedraggled Elvis.

“My wife…my new wife…loves Elvis….” the groom announced.

We all nodded in consent. His new wife was wise. He had chosen well. Elvis was pretty good.

“You know what would make her special day even more special?” the groom continued.

We all looked at our shoes. We knew where this was going.

“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”

Silence.

“Would you do that for us, on the happiest day of our lives…?”

I looked at my brother. There’s no way he’ll agree to this, I thought.

And then a look came over his face. A look that said: this is something to tell my grandchildren about. The sort of thing that one day my younger brother will write about on the blog he hasn’t even thought about starting to write yet.

“Yes I will, Sir,” he said, appropriating the accent, “but I don’t know any Elvis songs all the way through.”

“That’s okay”, proffered Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies, “we’ll help you out.”

And so we were all ushered downstairs, to a very full room of wedding guests, who all stopped what they were doing as we walked in. Like that scene in “An American Werewolf in London” when they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb. That. This:

“Darling”, announced the groom, “fate brought us together, and fate has led this gentleman here tonight too!”

At which point, my brother, soaked to the skin in a white sequinned Elvis suit, wig drooping down so it was more like a centre parting than a quiff, broke into the opening lines of a song:

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Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender

And now imagine him stumbling over the words before the end of the second line, and his mates ploughing in to carry him to the end of the first verse, without the slightest whiff of a harmony being employed.

Except me. I had, I thought, wisely hung back from the group and therefore avoided any participation in the group “singing”.

Moving back upstairs, and separate from the group, and therefore vulnerable, like a gazelle picked off by a lioness, I was approached by a chap who asked if we were all in the forces.

I, in my drunken state, decided it was easier to say “Yes, we’re all in the RAF” than to try and explain that I had never been in any of the Forces, but that my acquantances were either in the RAF, just about to leave the RAF or had just left the RAF.

Big mistake.

The chap who has enquired, it transpired, had tried to get into the RAF, but failed, and he wanted to know a) why that might be (so we discussed his medical history), and b) as much technical detail about engines and wings and stuff (of which I know nothing) that I could muster in case he ever reapplied.

I managed twenty minutes of utter bullshit to this guy, only interupted by Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies butting in to tell my conversationalist friend what a guy I am and how if you got me started on the concept of inverted wingry, I’d never stop. Cheers, guys.

We finally made it to Mayfair, the final square on the Monopoly board. All that was open was a restaurant, so we all piled in there and ordered a victory drink at 23:55.

By this point, I knew I was done, so after finishing my final drink in a Mayfair restaurant, I sloped off to hail a taxi. All of the other guys were staying in a hotel, but I had asked Hel if I could utilise her sofa-bed for the night.

I fell into the back of a black cab, and, having provided the name of the road Hel lived on, I also offered these wise words:

“And yes, I am really pissed, and no I’m not from round here, but if you take the long way to her house, I will know and I will run off without paying.”

He would have easily caught me if I tried.

The cab dropped me off outside Hel’s flat, but instead of just going in, I wandered off (after paying him, of course).

Forty-five minutes later, I rang Hel to ask her why her flat had moved to a place I couldn’t find. She came out to collect me, and will often tell me now – after we shared a flat together for four years and regularly got very drunk together – that she has never seen me that drunk before or since.

All your fault, Big Brother.

Which just leaves me to think of a tune which appropriately ties this all together, and I’ve thought of two.

Firstly, since we all doubtless slept exceedingly well that night, this, by a band I first listened to because my big brother regaled me with stories of a wild gig of theirs he went to, where one of the band members kept bashing his own head with a tea-tray as a means of percussion:

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The Pogues – Lullaby of London

…although perhaps, this is more appropriate:

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Terry Scott – My Brother

Happy 50th Birthday to my lovely, lovely brother. May all of your Formula Ones be slightly less tedious than the last.

More soon.

This Post Is Not About What You Might Think It’s About

I live in London. Some stuff happened in London this week. You may have heard about it.

Whilst of course my thoughts and condolences go out to those that lost friends, family, relations on Wednesday, I’m a firm believer in not giving the perpetrators the oxygen of publicity. Not that I think for a second that in a cave somewhere a member of so-called ISIS is charging up their camcorder whilst reading this and saying “The infidel is posting songs by popular Liverpudlian beat combo Echo & the Bunnymen in defiance of us!” Broadband and caves are not the happiest of bedfellows, for a start.

So whilst this morning’s songs may seem to be applicable to that situation, that’s purely coincidental. This post is not about that. Although, I would have absolutely no objections to you listening to today’s songs with current affairs in mind. I don’t control your thoughts, do what you like (within reason).

No, this is about a friend of mine who’s been having a bit of a hard time of it recently. I won’t name names, but if they’re reading this, they’ll know who they are.

For you, two songs. First, this, the opening track from one of the greatest comeback albums ever released, and some words of wisdom from the real Fab Macca:

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Don’t Let It Get You Down

Oh, and this, from someone whose name came up in conversation on Friday, but modesty prevents me from saying why, and which I’ve posted before, a long, long time ago:

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Teenage Fanclub – Some People Try to Fuck With You

Chin up.

More soon.

The Chain #31

Okay, okay, I’m a little later than usual. My apologies. I seem to have developed some kind of Chain Tourette’s Syndrome this week, incapable of resisting posting an additional link or splurging out another suggestion. You’ll see.

Last week we ended with “Live Forever” by Oasis, and it’s fair to say the Mancunian siblings caused quite the difference in opinions between you, with some voicing “By and large and on the whole, all things considered
 Oasis can piss off” and others “Can I start by saying that I bloody love Oasis?”

As usual, suggestions came from one of several broad categories, but where to start?

At the beginning, seems as good a place as any. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area to kick things off:

“Johnny Marr springs to mind (shared manager, guitar given by Johnny to Noel on which he wrote that song I think). Johnny Marr’s solo song ‘Upstarts’ from a couple of years ago was splendid, a comeback. And even though I don’t much like ’em, Oasis were upstarts for a while.”

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Johnny Marr – Upstarts

You can add the fact that Noel Gallagher joined Johnny on stage when I saw him at the Brixton Academy last year to that list of connections too, if you like.

Let’s use collaborations as the starting point to kick on with, and a second suggestion from Swiss Adam:

“Oasis recorded a song with another Johnny. Johnny Depp. Who was attached to Vanessa Paradis who had a hit with the strangely alright ‘Joe Le Taxi’.”

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Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Those of you who read the Comments section will know that prompted a big fat “Did they??” from Yours Truly. In fact, it turns out everyone’s favourite begrudgingly apologetic dog smuggler recorded with them twice, on “Fade In-Out” from “Be Here Now”, and on “Fade Away (Warchild Version)” from the 1995 “Help!” compilation album. In fact, anything with the word “Fade” in the title, and Depp was all over it like a tramp on chips.

He also, of course, plays guitar on this:

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