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 Llŷr and his answer was this:
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:
Right, you can all stop checking the time, here it is, three weeks late, but that’s better than another super-long hiatus, surely?
More mega than a fleet of MegaBuses, yes! It’s time to check the buffering capabilities of your hardware and internet provider as we launch into the latest instalment of The Chain.
And what a selection we have for you this week!
But before we get started, some admin. The more observant of you will have spotted a new page link over there on the left entitled “The Chain – The Rules”. You’ll never guess what you see if you click that!
I mention this because there would have been a couple of disqualifications this week for (unintentional) breaches of the rules; luckily one of the transgressors realised and suggested an alternative link.
The easiest rule to break is suggesting a song which has already featured, and I appreciate with around 1000 songs having featured so far this can be somewhat tricky to keep up with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing up a definitive list of every song which has featured so far, but until I’ve got round to finishing that (and writing The actual Chain takes up a fair bit of time when I could be doing that), if you want to check your options are:
1) Read every previous edition of The Chain (bit time consuming that one)
2) Check the Tags down the left-hand side; if the act you wish to suggest is not listed there, then you’re fine (assuming I remembered to add them, of course). If it is listed, click their name and you’ll be taken to every page that a song by them has featured on and you can check that way.
3) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check and get back to you.
OK, admin over, let’s remind ourselves of the source record for this week:
The biggest source of linkage this week was the “Echo” part of the song title, so let’s get cracking with one of mine. Since an echo is something happening again, this seems to be an appropriate place to start:
So, who else provided echo-based suggestions? Well, here’s Alex G of the temporarily (I hope) dormant We Will Have Salad to provide not just a suggestion, but also a definition of “echo”, which saves me the bother of having to copy and paste something from an online dictionary to justify some of the other suggestions I’ve come up with:
“… an echo is an acoustic phenomenon caused by sound bouncing off walls. And ceilings. And other things. But it’s the first one which concerns us here, because it leads me to suggest….”
Unsurprisingly, several of you (well, five actually) proposed records by Echo & The Bunnymen, so we may as well get one of those out of the way next, and it’s over to Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame, with his second suggestion. (No, you haven’t blinked and missed his first, that’s coming in a while. It’s called editing.)
“Echo and the Bunnymen…sang ‘Silver (Tidal Wave)’, a beach connection there too.”
Yes indeed, that’s your first – of many, it has to be said – double linkers of the week right there. Points!
Next to one of several songs this week that I had never heard of before the suggestions came flooding in, this one courtesy of The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposed this by Cavern of Anti-Matter who, for the uninitiated (i.e. me), are Joe Dilworth and Tim Gane, formerly of Stereolab, possibly one of the most missed and most under-rated (if that’s not a contradiction, and if it is, I’m sure it’s one which would please them immensely) bands of the last twenty years or so:
I like that. A lot. Thanks for nudging it under my nose, Swede.
Which leads us quite nicely onto another suggestion by Alex G:
“When they recorded ‘Echo Beach’, Martha And The Muffins’ drummer was one Tim Gane. Another Tim Gane was more famously (not *much* more famously, I admit) the lead guitarist of McCarthy and Stereolab. [I just told them that – Ed] So I’ll go for….”
“…double link there if I’m not mistaken…” pleads Alyson. Hmmm…Echo, yes…Seas -> Beach…what do you reckon, Chain Gangers? Oh go on then: Points!
I first posted that song way back in August 2015, accompanied by a retelling of one of the many faux pas I’ve committed over the years. Since some of you may not have frequented these pages that long ago, indulge me for a moment whilst I relate this one, which took place circa 1984, as I waited for the school bus and found myself chatting to one of the “cool kids” at school. He liked cool music (i.e. not Quo) and during this conversation he extolled the virtues of ‘Seven Seas’. My response, a rather pathetic and, as it transpired, ill-judged, attempt to ingratiate myself, was to talk at length about the lead singer fire-eating on Top of the Pops and how impressive he was. I realised mid-flow that my conversation piece was attracting some quizzical looks. And that was because I had completely mis-heard him. When he had said ‘Seven Seas’, I had thought he had said this song title:
Not cool, just…not.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, here’s Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life with the scecond song this week that I’ve never heard before. Over to you Walter:
“They might be forgotten but this song is still worth to listen to sometimes…”
Actually, that was Walter’s second suggestion. His first was for an Echo & The Bunnymen track, and I think enough time has passed since the last one to allow me to post his, which needs no introduction:
Which leads us on to a very brief sub-category, those of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves. This is by far my favourite category of the week. You’ll see why. Julian from Music from Magazines suggested this, which probably doesn’t need any further explanation:
The Quo, there, demonstrating on the record sleeve their renowned empathy for the Black Power movement.
And that brings to an end that sub-category of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves.
You know what I haven’t said for a while? I haven’t said the words: “And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by *insert name of Chain Gang member here*“. I feel an overwhelming need to say it again. But not just yet. I’ll wait til I’m asked.
And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by Dirk from sexyloser with the closest we’ve had to a Showboating Suggestion so far:
“Nominated to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches back in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was Burundi’s coast fronting Lake Tanganyika: if you’ve never been there, you really have missed a treat, I can tell you!
So obviously the correct link can only be Echo & The Burundimen (yes, it’s the Bunnymen in disguise, but still I haven’t made that [name] up, just listen to McCulloch’s intro!) and ‘Zimbo’, the 1982 Shepton Mallet live version though!”
And that does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…
Except, you’ll recall that I mentioned five of you had suggested songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and so far we’ve only had four. Well, GMFree suggested their rather wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ but then ploughed through the entire history of suggestions in The Chain and retracted that on the grounds that it had featured back in #31 so I wouldn’t have been able to allow it. (Oh, and whilst I’m on songs I couldn’t allow – Lynchiefromab, if you check the Comments in the last Chain, you’ll see that I wasn’t sure if yours were suggestions or just recommendations; if the latter then, thank you, and you’re right, but if the former than I couldn’t allow either of them as they contravene rule No. 6: “Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re cleverer than that.” And I know that you are. Sorry!) However, GMFree did propose a different Echo & The Bunnymen track, a cover version, but suggested that I might post the original instead, since the performers have never featured in The Chain before.
In case you’ve no idea what Jules is blethering on about, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the best known stage name of Will Oldham, but he has also recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. As you know, I prefer it if there’s only one suggestion per person for the same band, but since these two versions are so different, and since they were recorded under different monikers, and since I allowed GMFree to suggest more than one tune by Steven Jones last week for the same reason, I guess I’ll have to let it slide this time.
Speaking of GMFree and Steven Jones:
“Mentioning Mr Jones is too easy on this occasion as Babybird was signed to the Echo label, instead I’ll just suggest one track from his 27th (!) album as Black Reindeer…available through Bandcamp.”
Now, I wouldn’t normally buy a track specifically for The Chain, preferring the suggester to provide me with a copy, but I was intrigued by that title so I downloaded that song from the band’s Bandcamp page, as recommended. And shortly afterwards, I got an email from Steven Jones which read: “Ooh a bit topical that purchase Sx”. Which was nice. So I’ll not complain about being out of pocket. This time.
You’d have to have had your head buried in the (beach) sand to not understand what he was referring to, and as it happens, this was not the only track which referenced the forthcoming apocalypse.
“‘Echo Beach’ puts me in mind of the 1959 film ‘On the Beach’, which depicts the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war. (Not a surprising image, considering the current state of affairs, I suppose.) The film stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel. Anyway, as I’ll use any excuse to post some black gospel quartet music, my selection is the 1950 ‘a capella’ version of…”
Well, bar that last little excursion, we appear to not only be in nuclear war related territory – cheerful! – but also Beach related, so let’s have some more of those. And since that last song contains the lyric “Hello New Order!”, it seems appropriate for us to go back and find out what Swiss Adam’s other suggestion was:
“‘Echo Beach’ takes me to the remixed version of Blue Monday from its b-side in ’83…”
So, having exhausted all of the suggestions about echoes, beaches and, of course, Nazis and impending nuclear doom, we’ll move onto something a lot nicer. Back to Martin who suggests this as a double linker:
Which leads me onto this, a track lifted from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time one of those tribute albums, which were all the rage once upon a time, and which could (typically) be a little on the patchy side (and this one really is patchy).
In case you’re wondering what that’s doing there, give it a listen partly as there’s an extra verse, not in the original, which links to Martin’s last choice, but mostly because it’s an utterly wigged-out mental cover version.
And whilst we’re still on chocolate cake, it’s about time I posted another clip:
Right, that’s Muffins pretty much covered, right?
Well, actually, not quite. Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:
“Muffin was a Mule and a Mule is sort of like an Ass… though very slightly different.” Which brings us to, rather rudely:
Let’s have some Echo Beach/Martha and the Muffins facts to raise the tone a little.
Fact One: Martha and the Muffins are Canadian.
“Plenty of Canadian bands/artist to choose from,” chips in Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense, “including: Rush (but who has time to listen to the whole of Side 1 of ‘2112’?), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. All too obvious, but this bunch of Canadian one-hit wonders…:”
“Did you know,” pipes up George, inadvertently providing Fact Two, “that Echo Beach has been voted the 35th greatest Canadian song of all time? The greatest song is the execrable song ‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian and Sylvia, which must surely get the Worst Song vote.”
Well, I’ll happily do that George, although you realise that would mean you’d have to agree the Chas & Dave record is better…? Along with two other songs yet to feature that we all know you’ll hate….?
Four strong winds, you say? Here’s four in varying levels of strength.
The ease and squeeze:
2. The Pant Ripper (a classic):
3. The Preposterously Executed:
and 4. The Accidental Decongestant:
Right, that’s…erm…got that out of my system. More factoids please!
Fact Three, courtesy of babylotti:
“‘Echo Beach’ was released in 1980 on DinDisc records, another record that was released in 1980 on Dindisc records, and one that I still have (okay, it was a re-release in 1980, but that’s the one I have) is…:
Before we get on to the final category, time for those two songs which George won’t like, the first of which is suggested by Alyson, and I think this one wins the award for Comment Showboat of the week (or have I already awarded that? I don’t know, I’m tired…). George, sorry, I was going to leave these two till last to make it easier for you to ignore them, but thematically they kind of need to be posted earlier.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s suggestion:
“Martha’s Vineyard is actually a small island off the State of Massachusetts. It faces out onto the Atlantic and it’s where they filmed ‘Jaws’. The fake shark they used for the movie was given the name Bruce.” Which leads us to:
And so on to the final category, songs which link to Martha. And we’ll start off with my own double-linker for the week.
There’s a well known phrase in certain communities: “Is he Arthur or Martha?”. Well, here’s an Arthur, Arthur Lee to be precise, and he and his band are going to sing a Love-Lee song which has an Echo/Repeat/Again link too. Points please!
“First thought – got Martha on my mind now so I’d like to offer one of those songs that surely everybody knows and surely everybody likes? What better time for an office clerk with a very boring job to go down to Echo Beach than during a heatwave, too?”
Next up on the oche is The Robster from Is This The Life? Now, a few weeks ago, Rob announced that he was thinking about stopping writing his blog as he was feeling devoid of inspiration and was just going through the motions. I’ve often felt the same about this place, and I know others in our little blogging community have too. You may not know that Rob lives not a million miles away from where I used to in South Wales, and I love his blog for it keeps me in touch with what’s going on down in and around my old stomping ground so I’m delighted that he’s decided – for now – to keep going, albeit with less frequent posts.
I mention all this not to put any unintentional pressure on him to carry on, but because having cut back on his posts he seems to have gone a bit stir crazy, suggesting “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group on the basis that Martha & The Muffins were an all-male band. Getting confused by that whole “Arthur or Martha” issue there, I think.
To be fair, Rob did correct himself almost immediately (with a little help from Alex G, who I can confirm is not a qualified doctor, but is a very keen enthusiast), and redeemed himself by suggesting this, another of the records I’d never heard before, and which I’m really quite pleased that I have now. And it’s a double pointer, featuring as it does a Martha and “two items you might see at a beach”:
Time for Abramson60 next, who…erm…echoes some of the sentiments raised earlier:
“Looks like things are getting worse and worse US of A side, can it really get any worse? My suggestion this week could well be aimed at that excuse for a human being, Trump. No need to explain the link?”
Nope, but this young lady certainly needs to wash her potty-mouth out with soap and water:
Another from Alex G now, who suggests “…a lovely song which is never played on the radio because if it was, everybody would stop what they were doing to listen, at a cost to the UK economy of several squillion pounds.”
I agree, it is a lovely song, although I suspect were it played more often, people would stop what they were doing to remember when – and I’m sorry to bring it up again (I’m not in the least bit sorry, as it goes) – this happened:
More from Rol next, who suggests this next song on the grounds that a) it has the word “Martha” in the title, b) it doesn’t have any other words in the title, and c) he “…can’t believe nobody’s suggested it yet…”
And the presidential links don’t end there, for there was also of course Martha Jefferson, wife to Thomas, who became 3rd President of The United States in 1801. Martha would have been the third First Lady, had she not rather inconveniently died in 1782. Anyway, this Martha leads me to this ground-breaking house record from 1986:
And the other is…well, Mrs GMFree was not alone in suggesting it, for it was also proposed by Rigid Digit (and I thought one other person too, but I’m buggered if I can spot who it was now. If you suggested it and I have omitted to credit you, make yourself known and I’ll amend this bit).
Which means that for the first time ever, we have two people correctly guessing the next record in The Official Chain, which, with the simple explanation of “From one Martha to another…” is this:
So to wrap things up, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Whenever that might be.
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 naïve 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:
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.
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?”
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 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.
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:
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…
…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”
(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!”
“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:
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.
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:
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:
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.”
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.
But I digress; back to Swiss Adam for his hat-trick of collaboration suggestions (even though his first one wasn’t really one):
“John Squire played with the Burnage numpties at Knebworth. And John Squire was in the Stone Roses without whom Oasis would never have existed. They could also never have written anything as trippy and light as Elephant Stone.”
Continuing the theme, let’s shift from people who have played with Oasis, to acts that have featured one of the band (okay, let’s face it, Liam or Noel). Over to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything:
“Live Forever is considered by many as Liam’s greatest vocal recording. Although that’s harsh on ‘Little James’. Anyway Liam also contributes vocals to Echo and the Bunnymen’s wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. The irony of that was probably lost in him.”
Wonderful is damning this record with faint praise; I often dread a band I love reforming and releasing their new material, but Echo & The Bunnymen proved the exception to the rule with this:
And of course, with “Forever” in the title, we have a double-linker! We’ll come back to more with a similar (okay, identical) link later on.
The mere mention of Liam gives me the opportunity to post this, from the “Live Forever” Britpop documentary, my favourite ever interview clip involving him, where he is asked if he feels he has an androgynous quality about him:
Anyway, another suggestion from me, this time featuring the other one-eyebrowed wonder. Noel Gallagher teamed up with The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando to record – but never officially release (hence the absence of a proper sleeve and the somewhat shonky sound quality) – this:
And, since I’m going to see them next Friday at The Roundhouse perform not only their brilliant debut album “Fuzzy Logic” but also their even better follow-up album “Radiator”, here’s a bonus, a tune I’ve posted before, their epic 22:30 minute long live version from the Hammersmith Apollo, complete with Cian Ciaran’s techno wig out section:
Before I start posting nothing but Super Furry Animals records, it’s time for The Beard to perform an intervention:
“Oasis’ touring keyboardist was Jay Darlington from Britpop no-marks Kula Shaker [Don’t worry folks, he’s not going there]. Their lead singer Crispin Mills was the son of actress Hayley Mills. She starred in the film ‘Tiger Bay’ (alongside, I think, Sir John Mills?) [Correct!]. ‘Tiger Bay’ is also the name of Saint Etienne’s third album. ‘Like A Motorway’ from this album, please.”
As usual, competition has been hot this week to come up with the Worst Record of the Week, and here’s The Great Gog with the first, which not only links to the Gallagher brothers, but also to the football team mentioned in The Official Chain link which led us here:
“…the brothers Gallagher support a certain team who are still in the Champions League (sorry, couldn’t resist!)…[*cough* 2-0, 2nd October 2016]…so, the ditty supposedly sung by the early ’70’s City squad, “The Boys In Blue” – although I can’t imagine that the likes of Franny Lee would have been that good at holding a tune.”
No need to imagine, GG, here they are, and let’s just say Franny was no Ossie Ardiles, either on the pitch or in the studio:
I’ll be honest, I only posted that so I could bring your attention to the song-writing credits, which will probably seem familiar to many of you. Yes, Godley, Crème and Gouldman – three fifths of 10cc. The muso-nerds amongst you will know that 10cc get their name from the average male ejaculate. 10cc formed in 1972, the same year as “Boys in Blue” was released. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but you don’t need me to do it, you can fill in the wanks blanks.
Anyway, back to you GG:
“Also, there is of course, “Blue Moon” – of which there have been many versions, but as an early contender for Worst Song Of The Week, I’ll plump for Showaddywaddy’s version.”
You have to feel a bit sorry for Showaddywaddy, surely the most unintentional casualty of the whole Operation Yew tree thing, for who amongst us didn’t used to enjoy saying their name in the voice of a certain, dead, disgraced, BBC DJ, TV presenter and paedophile? And now even that simple joy has been taken away from us. I bet Eric Bristow does that impression still. (See, I’m nothing if not topical!)
Something a little more straight forward and less contentious next: here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:
“Until I come up with something obscure I’ll go for an obvious one: ‘Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Mulduar’.”
“The first thing that came on my mind was a song by Maria Muldaur. Midnight At The Oasis is one of these songs that accompanied me during the last decades. I really can’t explain why I can’t get this little folk/jazz tune out of my mind. Probably because it is just a good song.”
Oooh- bands with siblings in them, can I play? Please pwetty please?
It seems to me that Scotland has more than its’ fair share of bloody marvellous musical talent, and quite a few music bloggers too, many of whom visit these pages, so this one’s for you, a much overlooked (until that bloody awful musical came out a few years ago; other than featuring the music of The Proclaimers, it has little to recommend it) and rather lovely tune:
Okay. Brace yourself. Here’s George with the winner of this week’s Worst Record of the Week award.
“Going from the Gallagher Brother to two sisters, those two in the Cheeky Girls (one of them married Lembit Opik) and, having consulted with my partner, their most famous song is called Cheeky Song, which I’ve just played. It’s rubbish.”
I do love the way that George always pretends not to know anything about his suggestions for Worst Record of The Week and tries to shift the blame over to his other half. We all know the truth, George, you’re fooling nobody.
Thank god neither of you have heard of Jedward, s’all I can say.
Oh, and a slight correction; Lembit Opik didn’t marry one of the Cheeky Girls, they were engaged but split up in 2008 after a “difficult period” in the relationship, which I think we can interpret as meaning “when he slept with the wrong sister”.
So, here’s what I’m sure will be the least clicked link of the week. I, on the other hand have had to listen to that more times when writing this blog than I had ever had the misfortune to hear it before (Twice).
Look! There’s a Christmas Remix!! If you’re all very good boys and girls, I’ll see if I can find that and post it nearer the 25th. I bet it has some sleigh bells and probably a joke about pulling a Christmas Cracker.
Let’s get out of here, and have some simple songs which link to the word “Live”, the word “Forever”, or some derivative of either.
Time, then, to give the customary very warm Chain Gang welcome to first time contributor Martin from New Amusements (is that a Gene reference I espy, Martin…?):
“I’m going with living forever… having tinkered with synonyms (eternal and immortal) and come to unsatisfactory dead ends (anything by, er, Eternal, and Immortals by Fall Out Boy), I have instead decided to opt for the words “Electric word, life. It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time.”
In other words, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. Doubly fitting, as those Gallagher boys have been known to go crazy on the odd occasion…”
A classy suggestion, and just what the Doctor order after George let those pesky cheeky-ettes in:
“Oasis claim they’re gonna live forever. Irene Cara claimed likewise on “Fame”. To be fair to all involved, they’re not wrong *yet*.”
There’s still another month left of 2016, Alex. Plenty of time yet.
On the day or so before I write The Chain, I upload all of the songs onto a playlist on my iPod, and give them a listen as I commute to and from work, the idea being that a) I can check all of the mp3s sound okay, b) can get a rough idea of the running order, and c) hope I can think of something interesting or amusing to write about each tune. As I got to off the bus and walked to the office this morning, this tune came on:
I have to say, it put me in a really good mood for the start of the day. You should try it. The only disappointing thing about it was that when I got to the office, not one person was wearing a leotard or leggings, Doris wasn’t squawking “Hi Fidelity” by the water cooler, nor was Bruno attempting to play the photocopier like a piano. Still, can’t have everything.
Back, now, to The Great Gog, who before he started regaling us with Manchester City related awfulness, did actually suggest this:
“My first thought was to suggest another song with the words ‘live’ and ‘forever’ in the title: OMD – ‘(Forever) Live And Die’.”
Remember earlier we were talking about Oasis records that Johnny Depp had played on? Well here’s fun: that Warchild version of “Fade Away” also featured one time Pete Doherty muse Kate Moss giving it the full Linda McCartey on tambourine. What are the odds, eh?
Here’s George, who doesn’t seem even remotely apologetic for making me/us listen to The Cheeky Girls:
“…on the forever link, what about ‘Forever Came Today’ by Diana Ross and The Supremes?”
“Ok so The Cheeky Girls song may get the prize for the worst record of the week [there’s no “may” about it, it does] but here is another contender. “Forever and Ever” by that hirsute Greek, Demis Roussos. I always thought Neil Diamond (my choice from last week) was a very hirsute man back in the day with all that exposed chest hair, but nothing on Mr Roussos. Come to think of it the Gallagher Brothers are quite hirsute in the eyebrow department, them having only one an’ all. A double-link and a pattern forming here for me relating to hairy men!”
Time to hand over to Rol from My Top Ten for his musings of the week:
“First thought: Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?
Which, if the question referred to the Oasis song, would lead to a resounding “Not me!” I appreciate that some people might feel the same about Queen, but quite frankly they would be, at best, misguided.”
I’m not sure if it’s distasteful, ironic or entirely appropriate that this is posted just as we pass the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death, but since I know Rol is a big fan of Queen (as opposed to a fan of big queens) I’ll go with the latter.
“‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ comes from the soundtrack of the movie Highlander, which leads me naturally to a lovely early Billy Joel song called ‘Summer, Highland Falls.’ Hey, if we can show Neil Diamond love, Billy must get his too.”
A debate for another day, I think, but certainly one I’ll be backing you up on (up to a point):
Phenomenal bit of work there, artist responsible for the design of the single sleeve.
“What’s next on the list?”
“Something called “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond. Any ideas?”
“How about we just stick his face on some denim?”
“Perfect. Fancy a pint?”
Now this song reminds me of someone, a former flatmate of mine and Hel’s. This was his favourite record by Diamond. I mean, it’s okay but it’s no “I Am…I Said”, is it? Hell, it’s not even “Cracklin’ Rosie” or “Beautiful Noise”. This is one of the perils of house-sharing these days; you can interview them as much as you like, but you never know what people are really like until they move in. This guy was priceless.
He survived on a diet of pizza and pasta on alternating days, then tried to take the piss out of me for eating liking foreign food because I was eating Mexican one evening. His idea of eating pasta was to boil some water, add pasta, drain then add nothing but tomato ketchup. Once, he realised he had put too much water in the saucepan, so decided to empty some out – into the kitchen bin, rather than into the sink. He would eat packets of crisps and just drop the empty packets on the floor. We once found a half devoured bag of Doritos next to the toilet. A toilet which he refused to lift the seat of when he peed, and which he refused to flush before he left to go to work (after we had) of a morning, leaving a gorgeous odour to greet the first person home. He made several unwelcome passes at Hel, and made up an entirely fictitious girlfriend who he claimed worked on a leading TV soap opera, even though we did know someone who worked on the same show who categorically told us the girl didn’t exist. Oh, and he did a runner from the house in the middle of the day when we were at work, leaving me and Hel to cover his share of the household bills, and I suspect, liberating a large chunk of my vinyl – including all of The Smiths original Rough Trade album releases – as he went.
All of which might just about be forgivable were it not for one thing: he liked Kasabian.
Every possible opportunity he had, he would bang on about how awesome they were, and when one of their albums, I forget which, the one where they try and sound like Oasis meets the Stones meets “Rocks”-era Primal Scream probably, like that narrows it down, was voted Album of the Year by Q magazine, he bought a copy (of the magazine), and kept leaving it around the house, open at the relevant page, like we were going to go “Oh, well if Q says it’s the Album of the Year….”
And if it wasn’t Kasabian, it was bloody Mumford & Sons. I rest my case.
I mention all of this now, because one day he burst into the house, breathless with excitement, gushing “Jez…Jez…have you heard of Longpigs? Best…Britpop band…ever!”
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Longpigs first album, “The Sun is Often Out”. And they gave us Richard Hawley, so for that we are of course grateful In fact, I can’t believe I’ve never posted anything by him – I’ll rectify that over the weekend.
But best Britpop band ever? C’mon…
Anyway, that leads me, in a very roundabout way indeed, to what I think is their finest moment. For if you do Live Forever, then surely it could be said that you go on and on…
Remember when Worst Record of the Week used to be about posting the Cheesiest Record of the Week? Well, that would win, even if it’s deliberately so.
And, just take a look at that Radio 1 sticker that proudly adorns the front. It reads: “As First Heard on the Kevin Greening Show”. Surely I’m not alone in furrowing my brow and saying, “Sorry, who??” Perhaps his career was cut short precisely because it was his show that first played that.
Hang on, Rol’s thought of something else. Having convinced himself not to suggest something by Gallagher and Lyle, he came back with this:
“Oh, I just had a thought about the Gallagher & Lyle route that would lead to a semi-respectable song.
Gallagher & Lyle reminds me of Tate & Lyle.
Tate & Lyle make sugar.
So… Sugar – ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind'”
“Semi-respectable”?? That’s a fine record, and no mistake:
…which is a cover of The Who track from “The Who Sell Out” of course. And Oasis covered The Who’s “My Generation” on their live album “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down”. This week, more than any, we seem to be going round in circles and finding additional links.
“Alternatively,” SWC continues, “the complete opposite of live forever would be dying young so we could have ‘All Die Young’ by much missed Smith Westerns.”
I had totally forgotten how good that is, like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Doves.
Last suggestion of the week, and I’ve deliberately kept this one back til last. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of The Robster from Is This the Life? to wrap things up:
“Pre-Oasis, Noel Gallagher was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets. Post-Oasis, he formed the High Flying Birds. Therefore I offer ‘Flying Like A Bird’ from Inspiral Carpets’ self-titled comeback album from 2014. I’d also like to dedicate it to their drummer Craig Gill who passed away last week.”
You know the drill by now; your suggestions for records that link to “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, along with a brief description as to how you got from one to the other, via the Comments section below.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it can’t have escaped your attention that the Olympics start officially later tonight (if you count the opening ceremony as it starting) or tomorrow (if you count it as starting when the competitions actually do).
Of course, whichever opinion you subscribe to, you’re wrong, for the Olympic football tournament started two days ago, but since this is generally being ignored here in the UK as Team GB didn’t qualify (did we even try…? Couldn’t have been a more humiliating experience than Euro 2016 was, I guess), you can be forgiven for that.
Anyway, pack me a lunchbox and call me Linford, I’ve only gone and done us a Friday Night Olympic playlist. Try to contain your joy.
So here goes, 12 songs which are (very) (tenuously) linked to the Olympics. And no sign of that bloody Spandau Ballet record anywhere.
First up, no surprise that I’ve managed to crowbar this lot in:
Next, a song which is actually about a motor race, which means it isn’t a race that appears in the Olympics (I think. I dunno. I haven’t checked), but the theme is roughly the same. Plus, I’ve not heard it for ages:
Mention the name “Queen” and one other band springs to mind, a band who famously had a song which actually mentions an actual Olympic sport, albeit somewhat colloquially, in the title. But I’m not playing Queen tonight; instead this rowdy lot:
In 2012, on the night of the opening ceremony, I was at a works party. The party had nothing to do with the Olympics, and was held in the beer garden of a local pub, whilst TV screens in the bar showed the opening proceedings. I have to admit, in the run up to the games, I was firmly in the “We’re going to make a right pig’s ear of this” camp, and had little to no intention of watching any of the games. However, the appointment of Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Slumdog Millionaire fame, to direct the opening ceremony piqued my interest, and every time I went to the bar – which was often – I found myself watching the television, bordering on the entranced.
I got home later that night, found it on the BBC iPlayer, and watched it right through.
The next morning, I woke up on the sofa, my television on stand-by, and watched it again/properly. I hadn’t been mistaken. It was bloody amazing.
Soon after the Games finished, I bought a copy of the DVD box-set. The first disc contains the opening ceremony, the other two the highlights of the games. The first is possibly the most watched DVD that I own. The other two haven’t even been out of the box.
Why is this relevant? Well, the other night I had a text from Hel, asking if I’d watched the BBC documentary about the making of the ceremony. I hadn’t, and sat down to watch it the following night.
For the next couple of hours, I was transfixed, in exactly the same way as when I first watched the actual opening ceremony. The documentary, part of Alan Yentob’s “Imagine” series, contains behind the scenes footage, including the teaching of all the thousands of volunteers, some of whom had to learn to dance, others to drum; it has interviews not just with all the main creative players (Boyle himself, Underworld’s Rick Smith who was the musical director, etc. etc.) but also with several of the volunteers, some of whom have moving stories to tell about why they were there, and what happened to them on the night and as they trained for it. For example, in the “Saturday Night/Music” sequence, which tells the story of a boy and a girl meeting on a night out: I had assumed that both of them were trained actors/dancers. But no: both just normal kids, who’d volunteered to take part, and had been picked from the masses to play a major role in the event.
But there was one scene which stuck in my mind, filmed in the tunnel where the volunteers involved in the aforementioned sequence were waiting to enter the stadium. Out there, the Sugababes’ “Push The Button” is playing; in the tunnel, they are going mental, all bouncing up and down with excitement, singing along and cheering…it’s wonderful to behold. If you have chance to watch it, I urge you to do so. You won’t be disappointed.
So, that’s why the Sugababes are here. They’ve probably changed line-up about seven times since I started writing that, mind (obligatory Sugababes revolving line-up joke, there).
Back to a song which I don’t really think can be criticised for being included in a playlist on an Olympics theme:
And so to round things off, a song from my favourite album by this band (a controversial choice, I believe), which I dedicate to every athlete from every nation taking part. May you hear yours many times over the next few weeks.
That’s better. A prime slice of Davies storytelling and no mistake.
Next up, released way back in 20-God-that-makes-me-feel-old-07, and for my money one of the greatest indie singles of the last ten years. Recorded by exclamation mark afficonados and unquestionably the greatest non-Welsh band to come out of Welsh capital Cardiff (the band members all met at the fine city’s university, but none are actually Welsh), here with the original release of the single (the version on their debut “Hold On Now Youngster…” album being slightly longer and slower) which you can find on their “Sticking Fingers In Sockets” EP:
If that doesn’t have you bouncing round your humble abode then you have not an ounce of grooviness about you.
There’s so much to love about “You! Me! Dancing!”: the outright unfettred youthful exuberance; the slow build up; the hand-claps. And some of the smartest yet twee-ist lyrics you’ll ever hear to boot. This, from the climax of the record – for that’s what it is, a climax – where the lyrics are spoken rather than sung:
“And I always get confused Because in supermarkets they turn the lights off when they want you to leave But in discos they turn them on…
..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.”
(I can vouch for this. For many years when I lived in Cardiff, my walk home was via the front of City Hall, which is graced with some beautiful fountains, and by God they look tempting when you’re staggering back at 4am under the influence of various substances, even if they are switched off at that time. This record gave me permission to do it. Still never had the nerve though.)
“We’re undeveloped, we’re ignorant, we’re stupid, but we’re happy”. There’s my epitaph, right there.
Anyway, if you ever, ever get chance to go see Los Campesinos! live, treat yourself and go, you won’t be disappointed.
Next up a band whose debut album I bought on the strength of the review in Metro, the daily free-tabloid so beloved of eye-contact-avoiding commuters. Not, I should stress, because the quality of the review was in any way illuminating, just simply because I liked the name of the band and the album in question. So, here from their “In Our Space Hero Suits” album it’s:
I’ve gone a bit quiet on my “From Leeds With Love” thread for a couple of weeks (again); I’d love to say this was totally planned so that I could justify posting a song by The Wedding Present here, but that’d be a total lie, I just haven’t got round to writing one.
So, here’s The Wedding Present, with the second of twelve 7″ singles they released in 1992:
Say the name Leif Garrett to me, and two things pop into my head; firstly I seem to remember him wearing the most ludicrously tight red leather trousers – not a good look, ever – and secondly, for a while he seemed to pop up every other week on The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, the BBC’s Saturday morning live kids TV show which ran from 1976 and 1982. That is, he popped up on the weeks that the “special” “musical” guest wasn’t ironing-board-chinned talent-vacuum B.A. Robertson, anyway.
Garrett was quite the teen pin-up for a while, although this never really translated into record sales, either in his homeland in The US of A or here in the UK. They bloody loved him in Germany and Australia though. Read into that what you will.
Should you be so inclined to go and purchase his Greatest Hits album – and I see no reason why you would want to do that, since I’ve just given you the only thing approaching a decent song he ever made, so you can see just how far short of the mark the rest of his songs fall – but if you are so inclined, then please do. It’s entitled “The Leif Garrett Collection (1977-80)” which gives you some idea of his shelf life. It doesn’t however, give you any indication of just how long he outstayed his welcome by.
Moving on, and here’s one of them there mash-up songs. It’s in disguise though, as you can tell by the title. I had no idea I owned this until it came up on my iPod the other day, so I can only think that I must have obtained it from one of my peers out there in the blogosphere. So…er…thanks. I think.
See, what they’ve done there? They’ve taken Liquid Gold’s super-cheesy 1980s UK disco hit “Dance Yourself Dizzy”, slowed it down a bit, and thrown Yomanda’s super-cheesy 1999 club smash “Synths and Strings” over the top of it.
I have a bit of a soft spot for both of these tunes, “Dance Yourself Dizzy” because it reminds me of being a kid, and “Synths and Strings” because I was once in a bar in Cardiff where I found an acquaintance of mine (a bloke called Nigel who used to run the quiz night in my local pub) was DJing. He was dropping some naff records – it was that kind of a bar – so I approached him and asked if, since he was playing such piss-poor records, if he would mind dropping a bit of Yomanda for me.
He gave me a right look and said “My records might be cheesy, but I draw the line at ‘Synths and Strings’ “
Anyway, that mash-up doesn’t really work in my book but who am I to judge, so here’s the video of the Yomanda tune, posted for no other reasons than for comparison purposes, and certainly nothing to do with the plentiful shots of ladies in short skirts, nosireebob:
Right, just time for one more. I’m intentionally trying to keep things brief this week, and not bang on as much as I have here recently. Please don’t moan, I’ve had a very busy week and frankly I’m knackered.
So here, without any need for further introduction, explanation, deviation or hesitation, but plenty of repetition, is super cool French duo Justice: