Friday Night Music Club

Today is Andrew’s birthday. Andrew is¬†my older/only brother.

For once I don’t have to take international time-zones into consideration to ensure that he¬†reads my birthday wishes¬†on the right day,¬†for this year he’s home from India and back in the UK for a couple of weeks.

To mark the occasion, I’m travelling up to my folks for the weekend, and to inevitably spend Saturday night sitting up and drinking Jack Daniels with him.¬†Often when I go home, I’ll prepare a playlist of stuff to listen to, but often this has to take into consideration what the ‘rents will put up with having to listen to. So I thought this week, I’d post a few songs here which remind me of my Big Bro because…well, he bought (most of) them when we were kids.

As I was choosing the songs to play tonight, it occurred to me that my musical evolution followed a pretty similar path to his. This is hardly surprising since I used to listen to his records in that period before I started buying my own on a regular basis. We both had: a dodgy rock stage, a dodgy pop phase, followed by some semblance of redemption by way of liking something approaching decent indie records (although he had more than a passing Goth phase too).

I’ve talked about some of the records from our shared past before, here and he even wrote about the songs he bought when he was younger here. I’ve tried to avoid the songs played on those posts and focus on the…less cool stuff. For a start, anyway.

(By the way: my file sharing service Cut Pi, seems to be becoming increasingly erratic, and doesn’t seem to recognise some of the mp3s as being mp3s. It’s been doing this for a while and I can’t work out why. Upshot is, some of the links are shared via Zippyshare. Hope they work okay. And George – you got your wish.)

So let’s break these into the aforementioned three sections.

The Rock Stage

Of course, he had bought AC/DC’s¬†seminal 1980 “Back in Black” album, (and later owned copies of “Let There Be Rock” and “If You Want Blood…You Got It!” (an album title I always thought would have been better suited to Kiss or Alice Cooper)¬†but I imagine you all know pretty much every song from that album, so I’ve plumped for this from their 1981 release, which pretty much sums up us at the time, the band, and how the start of tonight’s post is going to go:

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337. AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Shortly after we moved into what became the family home throughout our childhood (mid-1970s), our parents converted a part of the loft into what they christened “The Playroom” – which was fine whilst we were kids, when it housed Andrew’s model train set and my Dr Who toys,¬†but a little embarrassing, in the way that teenagers find everything embarrassing, when they would suggest we took any¬†friends who called round up to The Playroom, which by our teens¬†housed¬†a sofa, a¬†TV and a record player.

At first, the record player was one of those old ones, with the arm that came across and held your next record on the spindle whilst the current record played underneath. But soon, Andrew had saved enough cash up to purchase his first stereo system, one of those with a radio, twin tape deck, a space for records to be stored, a silver beast housed in a teak cabinet with a glass door to the front.

This next album made regular appearances on both turntables; I preferred the album’s title tracks, whilst Andrew¬†always loved this one, ironically, I like to think, given he spent 20-odd years in the RAF:

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338. Black Sabbath – War Pigs

Next, a song which he didn’t buy, but every time I hear it I am reminded of those formative years spent listening to records, and in particular one Thursday evening when we had been banished upstairs to watch Top of the Pops, on which this record appeared, and which led to the pair of us leaping up from the sofa and frantically playing air-guitar, in full on foot-on the monitor mode:

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339. Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills

The reason I think I remember that is because it was probably a turning point, where we both admitted to liking the same records as each other. Up until then, we hated, or pretended to, each other’s musical choices – dammit, we pretended to hate each other (that’s what siblings did when they were that age, right?), having many a play fight which spilt over into full on physical violence, as the snooker¬†cue that I broke over his back once attests (Look, he was bigger than me, I was fully entitled to come tooled up, okay?). As does the broken violin bow we had argued over a few years earlier when we had both found ourselves learning the instrument at Junior School. (I know, I know – fights involving violin bows: it’s not exactly “Angela’s Ashes”, is it…?)

(As an aside: my friends Hel and Llyr went to the Reading Festival in 2005 when Iron Maiden head-lined. They watched them, and afterwards reported that the section of the crowd they were in were distinctly non-plussed by the veteran rockers. Lead warbler Bruce Dickinson, attempting to whip the crowd up into a frenzy would call “Do you remember this one…?”; the crown responded as one “Nope!”)

Particularly indicative of our love/hate relationship came one Saturday night in, I guess, the early 80s. Saturday nights¬†were a family night, which we would spend playing records from my Dad’s record collection. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, Dad’s taste is predominantly Country records, but there was/is diversity there: he likes a bit of jazz, some folk, some classical. There was a series of classical albums that he owned, a spin off from a BBC radio programme, called “The World of Your Hundred Best Tunes” (a name I toyed with giving this very blog, until I realised there may be copyright issues). We were categorically not allowed to bring our own records down to play. But my brother figured out a way round this, and got one song – a cover version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the next band from their “Difficult to Cure” album – played. So offended was I that he had been allowed to have one of his songs played, but I hadn’t (as I had no rock covers of classical records) I spent the entirety of the song under the dining room table, kicking and screaming about “how unfair” it was. (“So Unfair” was, I’m reliably informed, mostly anytime my parents watch any Harry Enfield sketch involving Kevin & Perry, practically my catchphrase when I was a teenager. This was just me warming up, I reckon)

Obviously, I’ve mellowed with age. But I’m still not playing “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince unless someone comes up with a bloody good reason to. And I mean bloody good.

Anyway, I’m not playing the Beethoven cover either; since they’re unlikely to feature again (more than once more) on these pages, I thought I’d plump for the big single from the same album:

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340. Rainbow – I Surrender

Rainbow were, of course, one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Deep Purple, another band that we begrudgingly admitted to having a shared passion for back then. Again, Big Bro’s record collection featured several of their albums, but the first I recall seeing – and to this day, the only one I’ve ever purchased myself (Cheers Fopp (Cardiff¬† branch) and your ¬£2.00 shelf!)¬†– was a compilation album called “Deepest Purple”, from which this one is lifted:

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341. Deep Purple – Woman from Tokyo [Single Edit]

And you’ll be relieved to hear, that’s the end of the Rock Stage…

The Pop Phase

…and perhaps less relieved when you see what comes next.

Luckily for you, I’ve talked before – here – about the fact that we both mysteriously somehow came to own our own copies of Billy Joel’s “An innocent Man” album, so I’ll spare you that.

Ditto, I’ve previously posted – here – the two songs from Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” album, which he also owned that are any good (and I’m not going to post “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as it annoys me even more than the aforementioned “Summertime”)

But here’s a song by a band I’ve never really liked but – and I can say this without fear of correction, as he denies remembering anything from our childhood – I’m pretty sure Andrew joined the fan-club of:

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342. Thompson Twins – Doctor Doctor

Twins, see? And there were three of them. Pfffffft. Funny guys (and a girl). (They were named after the characters from the Tintin cartoons, as everyone knows – The Ed)

Moving swiftly on, to a song which I had completely forgotten about until Brian over at Linear Tracking Lives! posted it a month or so in his wonderful alphabetical trawl through his own record-buying history.

Lifted from her “The Drum is Everything”, much was expected of Carmel and her brand of smoky, jazzy pop, but she feel by the wayside shortly after this was released (although I did pick up one of the singles from the follow-up album, which I’ll feature soon enough, and which utterly tanked):

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343. Carmel – More, More, More

I should at this point talk about the records by groups like The Go-Go’s which he brought back from a summer in America staying with relatives, working on their blueberry farm. Instead, I’m going to post something from an album which contains another of my most disliked pop songs ever by another group I was fairly indifferent to for much of their existence, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see did have some decent pop tunes, particularly in their early 80s¬†synth-pop phase.

But the album Andrew bought by Eurythmics – “Be Yourself Tonight” – does not come from that period. It comes from their just-after-the-synth-pop-phase, and from an album which brought their only UK Number 1, the aforementioned disliked pop song “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (It’s the over-singing that does my head in). The album spawned two other hits: “Would I Lie To You?”, which I posted recently, and this one, which I’d completely forgotten about until I came to write this, gave it a listen, and decided it’s not too bad at all:

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344. Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)

But there was one band from his pop period who loomed large. I believe they were the first band he ever saw live (albeit supporting The Police), and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a band I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for too:

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345. The Alarm – Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?

It was The Alarm more than any other band, I think, that focused my brother’s attentions on records which were…well, let’s say more critically acclaimed shall we?

But first, two more bands that I remember compilation albums appearing amongst his burgeoning record collection. Neither need any introduction:

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346. The Rolling Stones – Get Off Of My Cloud

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347. The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

I don’t recall which of these albums first surfaced on The Playroom’s record decks (ha! like it was anyway near as cool in there as that sounds), what I do know is that a) I have recently bought both of these albums on vinyl myself, and b) shortly after The Jam album appeared I remember laughing at my brother for wearing white socks, the only mod accessory one could get away with at our school. Still, at least he didn’t steal them, of if he did, he wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Ahem.

But these were the first shoots of liking more credible records, for very soon, we were fully into stage three, where he has resided ever since.

The Road to Redemption

There’s only one place to start. The Alarm’s haircuts may have influenced his for many years afterwards, when he could get away with it, but it was the dress sense and image of one of the Sex Pistols that most captured his imagination. He was told many times that he looked like this sneerer, which I’m pretty sure always thrilled him, however indifferent he may have appeared to look.

It’s credited to Sex Pistols, but make no mistake, released in 1978 as the band were imploding, this is a Sid Vicious record in everything but name:

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348. Sex Pistols – My Way

And so, with his black hair sprayed vertically, skinny black jeans with black studded belt and black winkle-pickers or occasionally cowboy boots (which, if memory serves, were brown when he bought them, unable to source a black pair, and which he spent several hours glossing over with a tub of Kiwi black polish and an oily rag), there was only one place he was going to go next:

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349. The Sisters of Mercy – Alice

And of course, this lot, who we are both unified in our admiration of, so it seems appropriate this song occupies the 350th slot in this section:

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350. The Jesus & Mary Chain – You Trip Me Up

He also bought the one and only album by this next lot, who I mention because I cannot hear it without thinking of the summer I spent as an underage drinker, hanging out with him and his mates Rob and Phil, driving round Cambridgeshire’s¬†village pubs, where no-one knew our names, pubs like The Barnwell Mill, which had a massive juke box, and¬†only one record they liked upon it. Once they realised that it didn’t differentiate between the same song having been selected twice by different people, they realised they could have hours of fun, by simply playing this, over and over and over and over and over again, often leaving after they’d heard it once, leaving the rest of the drinkers to sup their way through it another 17 times:

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351. Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Love Missile F1-11

Gradually, our musical tastes have pretty much merged. At no time was this more apparent than when I was at Sixth Form, between 1986 and 1988. As I mentioned recently, on a nightly basis  I found myself preparing mixtapes to play in the Sixth Form common room the following day, and there was one album which Andrew had bought which was invaluable for that. For he is the only person I know to have bought the legendary NME C86 album when it came out (admittedly, he bought the vinyl version, not the original cassette only version, but props are still due).

This band featured on the album in question, but not with this song, which he both realised we loved within the last few years, when discussing how much the much-missed The Long Blondes reminded us of them:

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352. The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

In 1997, our paths crossed back at our folks house, and, presumably after they’d gone to bed we were either playing records, or more likely watching a music TV channel, this came on. I’d not seen him so enthused for some years (actually, I’d probably not seen him for years), and he proclaimed this “the new punk”:

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353. The Prodigy – Firestarter

At which point, I’d better draw things to a close. If I don’t, it won’t be his birthday anymore by the time¬†I post this.

So, one last one, by a band I remember him going to see towards the start of their career, and telling me afterwards how he’d been to see a band who used bashing-themselves-on- the-head-with-a-metal-tea-tray as a percussion instrument. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get an airing tomorrow night:

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354. The Pogues – Boys From the County Hell

Happy Birthday Bro. See you tomorrow. I’ll bring the Jack Daniels.

And to the rest of you – well, as I’m away, it’ll be a little quiet around here for the next couple of days, certainly not as busy as it normally is of a weekend. If I have time to write them before I set off tomorrow, there will be a Late Night Stargazing and a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but no promises. Otherwise, The Chain will return on Monday, so you’ve got another couple of days to get your suggestions in if you haven’t done so already.

Til then, have a fab weekend.

Oh, and More Soon, obviously.

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Friday Night Music Club

This was supposed to be the last part of this ‚ÄúSongs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question‚ÄĚ theme, but I’ve thought of enough additional ones to drag it out for another week after this. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

So, we’ll kick things off with what seems to be the obligatory dollop of Britpop:

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246. The Boo Radleys – It’s Lulu

…the title of which is of course lifted from the TV show of the same name (obviously, hence it’s inclusion here. Do try and keep up, will you..?) as Scottish elf Lulu’s 1970s Saturday night spectacular (Disclaimer: the request for you to vote for Lulu to win a Brit award is nothing to do with me):

But whenever I hear the name Lulu, it’s not the Bee Gee-banging, Freemans catalogue saleswoman that first springs to my mind. No, it’s the character played by Kathy Burke in “Harry Enfield & Chums”:

Not the funniest clip in the world, I grant you, but you get the giste.

National Treasure-in-waiting Kathy’s had quite an increase in her online presence recently; she’s joined Twitter (if you like a good swear – and a good laugh – give her a follow @KathyBurke ), and has been interviewed by Adam Buxton on his wonderful podcast (which you can listen to here) and on Scroobius Pip’s fascinating Distraction Pieces podcast (which you can listen to here). Both are highly recommended.

Plus, Kathy’s in this, which I’d completely forgotten about until writing this post:

And she also declared her admiration for the lyrics of the bequiffed one when she appeared on Room 101 (go to 25:38 for the relevant bit):

And whilst she’s a highly regarded theatre producer these days, it is for this character and sketch that she is perhaps mostly fondly remembered:

Why am I banging on about Kathy Burke?, I hear you ask. Well, because of the sitcom she starred in which was named after this, that’s why:

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247. ABBA – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

Well, it is Eurovision weekend, after all. Can’t really not mention them somewhere, can I?

Now. Regular readers will know that I have often cited my older brother (hello!) as a major influence on my music tastes. As I’m a couple of years younger than him, and although later life has brought some kind of parity, when we were kids I always seemed to be a lagging behind in terms of records that we bought. Consequently for much of our youth I would have rather died than actually admit to liking anything he did: when he liked rock music, I was still into Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Stevens; by the time I’d started listening to Deep Purple, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, he had moved onto The Rolling Stones and The Jam, and had come back from America with his brace of albums by The Go-Go’s amongst other things; by the time I’d moved onto them, he was going Goth. You get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I mention this now is that I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a series of posts where I highlight records which he bought but which he probably would rather I didn’t remember him having, and of which he will doubtless deny all knowledge.

Like this one (oh, yes you did!):

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248. Eurythmics – Would I Lie To You?

This was the lead single and opening track from their fourth studio album, 1985’s “Be Yourself Tonight”, (which he bought), the second single from it being their only UK Number 1, “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”, which is possibly one of my least favourite records ever, due to the ridiculous amount of over-signing which characterises it. I’m not going to post it, because I hate it so much.

His purchase of this album, though, does demonstrate another family trait which we both seem to have: not getting into bands until they’re past their best. By the time this came out, Eurythmics had all but ditched the electronic sound which informed their earlier finer moments, such as singles like “Love is a Stranger”, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made This)”, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Here Comes The Rain Again”, all released just a year or so earlier.

As for the TV show it links to, it’s a comedic update of “Call My Bluff”, a parlour game if you will. For those of you outside the UK who’ve never seen it, the premise is this: two teams of three play against each other. One player reads out a card containing a statement about something they must claim to do or have done; members of the opposing team question them and try to work out if they’re telling the truth or not. To make things more interesting, as they say, they have never seen the card before, which means if it’s a lie, their quick-wittedness and ability to lie is closely scrutinised.

Here are some of my favourite moments from the show. First, Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges tries to convince his opponents that he once bought a horse by mistake:

Secondly, Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert explains how he once paid for some tapas with a Nissan Micra (this is the complete episode so feel free to skip forward to 24:18 for Rhod’s yarn):

Of course, the game is made even harder when you have the likes of the brilliant Bob Mortimer, who seems to be talking utter nonsense most of the time, on:

There is of course another famous song with the same name, another song that I’m not overly fond of, but in a spirit of both diversity and transparency, here’s the inexplicable  winner of three Ivor Novello Awards in 1992, for Best Contemporary Song, Best Selling Song and International Hit of the Year :

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249. Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You?

Every show I’ve mentioned so far this week has been broadcast on the BBC, so let’s change channels.

Between 1999 and 2006, ITV showed a drama series which I never watched, partly because it seemed to be a rip-off, albeit one with considerably higher production values, of Australian soap and late-night student/stoner favourite “Prisoner: Cell Block H”, and without a character with as great a name as “Vinegar Tits Vera”, but mostly because…well, it was on ITV, which is usually enough to put me right off.

Set in Larkhall, a fictional South London women’s prison, by which I mean a women’s prison in South London, not a prison for South London women (although now I think about it….), I speak of course of:

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250. Donna Summer – Bad Girls

And whilst we’re on prisoners, here’s The Clash with the B-Side of their single “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”:

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251. The Clash – The Prisoner

…which of course shares it’s name with the iconic, if mind-bending (read: weird), 1960s show starring Patrick McGoohan. Here’s the original opening sequence, which doesn’t half seem to go on:

One TV detective who was responsible for making a lot of people prisoners over the 69 episodes he starred (see what I did there? I really don’t just throw this together, you know), was Columbo.

In 2008, The Verve released their fourth album, the much anticipated follow-up to 1997’s critically acclaimed, multi-million selling “Urban Hymns”. However, “Forth”, for that was the witty moniker it received, was under-whelming at best, but did contain this:

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252. The Verve – Columbo

A few years ago, I was working for a motor insurance company, and was asked if I could come up with any incentive schemes to get the best out of the staff. Some of the claims we dealt with were theft-related, and which required a telephone interview of the policyholder. I, along with pretty much all of my colleagues, hated doing these, so I suggested that my employers should try to find a way to make these a less arduous task for us. To do this, I suggested a monthly cash prize for whoever used the phrase “Oh, there’s just one more thing …” at the end of the interview most often in the month,  just as the interviewee thought their ordeal was over,  presenting them with a killer question, catching them off guard.

The didn’t go for it. The fools. Perhaps I should have suggested a hand lion.

Ok, last one for this week.

I’ve always loved songs which tell a story, which explains why I like those old Country stars like Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Tom T. Hall so much, as well as folks like Ray Davies, Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, Nick Cave, Bruce Springsteen, and it’s to the latter that we turn to round things off.

The title track from his 1980 double-album of the same name, this is just wonderful:

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253. Bruce Springsteen – The River

And the link? In 1988, and running for just one series (it was THAT good) was a romantic comedy starring twinkly-eyed 70s heart-throb David Essex as lovable, Cockney, ex-convict (aren’t they all…?) Davey Jackson.

Nope, me neither.

More soon.