The other reason I didn’t get The Chain finished this week was because on Wednesday night I stumbled upon a documentary that was really fantastic.
You know it was. It really, really was.
So fantastic, I watched it again on Thursday.
Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story tells the story of one of the UK’s greatest, most innovative yet unknown entertainers, his school years and his struggle to make it as a pop star (unsuccesfully, by and large), the almost accidental discovery of an alter-ego who gradually took over his whole life and brought him fame and fortune, the almost inevitable slide into drink and drugs addiction, the redemption, and then the tragic end.
I speak, of course, of none other than Frank Sidebottom, and his creator Chris Sievey.
The film really is fantastic, including previously unseen footage (mostly of the grainy home video type), interspersed with interviews from friends, family, wives, girlfriends, children, fans (both famous, such as Ross Noble, John Cooper Clarke and Johnny Vegas, and non-famous, which seems only right) and former band members, including Mark Radcliffe and Jon Ronson. Speaking of Ronson, if you were as underwhelmed as I was with the 2014 adaptation of his book Frank into film, well this is the real deal.
Here’s the trailer:
There’s so many funny moments in the film: from Frank falling off a chair when interviewing Keith Chegwin, followed by an interview with the utterly bemused David Soul (“Nobody’s ever asked me questions like this before…..”), through introducing Bros, at the height of their fame, in front of 55,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, described by Frank like this: “Hands up if you like Matt? ‘Yehhh’, they all went. Hands up if you like Luke? ‘Yehhh’, they all went. Hands up if you like Bros? ‘Yehhh’, they all went. Hands up if you’ve got Betamax? Total silence in Wembley Stadium.” (What makes that even funnier is that a) it’s true,and b) he even breaks the comedy Rule of Three and it’s still funny.) through to his son Harvey relating how, at the height of his addiction issues, Chris kept asking him what he wanted for Christmas to which his son kept replying “All I want is you.” And this is what he found waiting for him on Christmas morning:
See, I can relate a couple of high moments from the film without fear of spoiling it, because there are just so many laugh-out-loud bits, spoilers don’t even come into play.
I wish I owned more records by Sievey, or The Freshies, or Frank even.
I own this, the most famous record by The Freshies, but only on digital:
That’s such a great pop record, I think it might actually be criminal that it wasn’t a bigger hit than it was(n’t) back in the day.
I own a few bits and bobbins by Frank, again mostly on digital, but a couple of tracks on vinyl compilation albums I picked up back in the day.
I am fortunate though in that I once met and worked with Frank.
Back in my college days, Frank had been instrumental in me getting voted to the unenviable, inevitably course-failing, position of Social Secretary/Entertainments Officer. He didn’t know he’d been instrumental, of course, but he featured in some of my promotional material.
Back in 1990, when standing for office within the Students Union, you were given an allocation of promotional material you were permitted to use. This was, to the best of my memory, a pack of A4 paper with which we could do what we pleased as long as it didn’t offend anyone. My mate Keith and I set about cutting photographs of people from newspapers (and NME), photocopying them and then adding a speech bubble with the subject of the photo saying something supportive about me.
So, we had one of Bez from the Happy Mondays, in full maracas and Bez-dance-flow, with a speech bubble saying “Vote Jez” and a caption: “Bez Sez Vote Jez for Ents Prez.” And so a slogan was born, and it appeared on all of my campaign material.
I wish I’d kept some of these, but from memory there was one of Rude Kid from Viz Magazine, simply saying “He’s the dog’s bollocks”, with the slogan underneath; one of an unknown boy, sitting in a classroom, the only one looking backwards at the camera in a class of children all studiously working, and his speech bubble read: “Pssst! Vote Jez! Pass it on!!”; and then there was one of Frank, bright blue eyes (or they would’ve been, had we had access to a colour photo-coper) looking out with a bubble simply saying: “He’s absolute bobbins!” and the Vote Jez for Ents Prez slogan splashed across the bottom of the poster.
And yes, we were aware that not all of the speech bubbles were actually terribly complimentary, but that was part of the joke as far as we were concerened.
As you know from previous posts, I won the election. Comfortably, but let’s not get into that *cough landslide*.
A few months later we learned that Frank wsa going on tour, and we were offered him for a pretty reasonable price. At the time, we’d started a comedy night at the Student’s Union, and had some success with up-and-coming (at the time) acts like Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Jim Tavare, Hattie Hayridge, John Thompson, Rob Newman.
So we booked Frank for the comedy night, and that was a mistake. Not that we booked him, but that we booked him as a comedy act, rather than as a musical act – the difference being that for the comedy nights, we filled the floor with tables and chairs, to create a comedy club atmosphere. And, watching the documentary, I realise that was not the right environment to watch a raucous Frank show, as we – and he – found out.
He went down like the proverbial sack of do-do. Utter silence from the floor after every gag.
Frank Sidebottom is definitely one of those acts that you either got and loved, or didn’t get and hated. And that night it seemed I was the only one laughing. Which, when you’ve been involved in booking them, and charging people to see, is not a good look.
In the year I did the job, it was the only time anyone ever asked for their money back. Two girls accosted me as soon as he went off stage. I refused, pointing out they’d stayed right until the end. Had they stormed out after ten minutes, they may have had a case. (I bumped into them in a pub ten years or so later. They said hello and asked if I remembered them, and were astounded that I did. I ended up buying them both a drink to shut them up.)
Anyway, here’s one of the songs I do own on vinyl by Frank. I’ve posted it before, ages ago (sorry!) and it features on a compilation album called Bananas! which I bought around 1989/90-ish.
The record was released to raise funds against the introduction of ID cards for football fans, and had this as the closing song. Given the impending start of the football again south of the border, it seems about right to post it again now (although please excuse my shonky cropping of the album sleeve):
Anyway, I imagine the documentary is on Sky’s catch-up streaming facility which I don’t have (it’s not appeared on NOWTV’s yet), so keep an eye out for it and watch it if you can. You’ll either love it or hate it.
Been a while since I wrote one of these, but the news this week that there will no longer be a print version of the NME has spurred me into life.
I can’t really shed a tear for the NME moving to an online presence only; I haven’t read it for fifteen years or so, certainly haven’t bought it since Emo was a thing, and have never managed to pick up a free copy outside a tube station in London.
I did, however, purchase it semi-religiously from the late 1980s until the very late 1990s. Just like everyone has a Dr Who that is “theirs”, who resonates with their youth, so it is with the NME. I wish I could say that I bought it when Danny Baker et al were the scribes in residence, but my time involved the likes of Andrew Collins, Stuart Maconie, Stephen Dalton, Tom Hibbert, David Quantick, Barbara Ellen, Mary Anne Hobbs and Steve Lamacq. Looking at that list explains why I listen to BBC 6Music so much these days.
The NME was renowned for attaching the occasional cassette to the front cover; regrettably I was too late to grab a copy of the seminal C86 tape at the time, however I did go and purchase today’s selection, which was released in 1988 in conjunction with, and to raise funds for, Childline, a free 24-hour counselling service for children.
The Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father was released to mark the 21st anniversary of the original release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, and as I’m typing this, it seems just unbelievable that another thirty years have passed since then.
The idea was this: get current bands to record cover versions of every track on the album. And so it was that the tribute album was born.
As with many albums of this sort, it’s patchy to say the least. But here’s the tracks I like the most from it. And that one by Wet Wet Wet, which I include purely because it was released as a double ‘A’ side with Billy Bragg’s cover on the other side, which led to Simon Bates having to say on Top of the Pops, after the Wetx3s had mimed their smiley asses off, the following words: “That’s number one, and the other side is number one as well. Here’s Billy Bragg.”
Billy Bragg at #1 in the UK Charts. The stuff that dreams are made of.
A few years later, I was travelling somewhere (I forget where) with a friend who was a massive Beatles fan. He had asked me to put together a mix-tape for the journey, which for reasons that escape me now, I gave to him in advance of our trip to listen to. I included The Fall track, which he took exception to.
“Who the hell is that murdering A Day In The Life?”, he asked before I had clicked the seatbelt into place.
I looked at him, baffled, bemused.
“It’s The Fall. Obviously. It’s obviously The Fall. And they’ve not murdered it. They’ve Fall’ed it.”
I wonder if, after Mark E Smith’s death in January, he is claiming to have listened to The Fall since the late 80s. I know he occasionally reads this, so I’ll report back.
Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant, come to the Festive edition of The Chain!
I’ve been beset by technical issues this week, not just those which have delayed this by a day, but also the issues with several contributions mysteriously being marked as Spam and disappearing from the Comments section.
But, nevertheless here we are, with another mixed bag of your suggestions, linked to last week’s final record, “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake.
As usual, the suggestions can be split down into various categories – namely songs or artists which include the words or some derivative thereof, of “Nick”, “Drake, “Pink” or “Moon”. Surprisingly, almost none of you suggested anything which contained more than one link, so here’s one to get us started.
From “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd (who have a band member called Nick), here’s:
I set you all an additional challenge last week: since this week’s post would be available in Christmas week, I asked you to see if you could provide suggestions of a festive nature where possible, and some of you duly obliged.
Surprisingly, though, none of you suggested this, a song by a band so un-Christmassy I’ve always found this to be a slightly odd addition to their canon of work, let alone the fact that they released a whole album worth of this stuff:
So, over to you, but where to start? I suppose really, given that he has made more contributions this week than our most regular of readers have made since we started doing this, we should probably hear something from Rol of My Top Ten, right? Agreed.
“Another Nick busy at this time of year is St Nicholas better known as Santa Claus. When another Nick shuffles of this mortal coil he will almost certainly be canonized. Can we have The Man That I’ve Become from Dig My Mood an album by St Nick of Lowe please?”
Regular visitors will know that generally, each week, after I’ve received several suggestions, I get a comment from Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? bemoaning the fact that all of the songs she was going to suggest had already been made by co-Chain Gangers. It’s a bit like when the person on the third podium on ‘Pointless’ says that the person on the second podium had just taken their answer. Anyway, so imagine my delight when the very first comment I got this week was from Alyson:
“Time for sleep now, then work tomorrow, so will no doubt be late again with my suggestion…but before CC trumps me, it might involve Lily the Pink.”
Several hours passed. Article 50 was activated and nobody noticed. Civilizations rose and fell. And then, finally, this:
“Well, sleep, work and xmas shopping got in the way so 18 hours after my first comment, I have decided against Lily The Pink by The Scaffold…”
Oh no you don’t. You’re having it, whether you like it or not, young lady:
A few years ago, when I still shared a flat, I did my usual Friday night routine of doing a playlist to get drunk with my flatmates to; it included that Wire rune, followed by the next record. I had neglected to tell my new flatmates that it was a playlist they were listening to; they thought my iPod was incredible for knowing to play these two records together (along with a whole host of other songs which sounded like/had been ripped off (allegedly) from each other. Hmm…maybe there’s a new topic for me there….). What I mean to say is *ahem* *clears throat* *offers a cheeky wink to the audience*…Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:
Right. I suppose we’d better make some in-roads into this mountain sized pile of suggestions by Rol. Oh hang on, Alyson’s back:
“I have always thought that the multi-talented American singer Pink, and Sharon Watts from Eastenders, were dopplegangers and who did Sharon date for a while on that show – Yes it was “Nick” Berry who had a big hit with Every Loser Wins. (They don’t, every loser generally loses, but it worked well for him). A tenuous double link.”
Much as I’d love to post that, it has featured here before and the rule is that the only records we can feature twice are a) “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, and b) records which turn out to be the next record in The Official Chain which we’ve already had. Have another go.
“…perhaps Lily The Pink it will have to be, although just remembered that the brother of Mike McGear of The Scaffold was Paul McCartney whom I also seem to remember recorded a theme for the teatime soap “Crossroads” which Nick Drake’s sister, aforementioned Gabrielle, appeared in. Don’t know if theme tunes count as a suggestion but another double link.”
Well, we’ve featured the theme tune to Bergerac and Space:1999 here before, so I don’t see why not, especially when The Great Gog made reference to the same theme tune via a different link in his suggestion:
“There is Nick’s sister, Gabrielle, who starred in Crossroads at one time. The theme tune to Crossroads was written by Tony Hatch…”
It’s probably about time put a dent into Rol’s suggestions. No, really this time.
“I’m resisting the obvious Springsteen link from Alyson’s last suggestion as it’s Christmas and I don’t want to upset George” This would be most admirable, were it not for the fact that Springsteen wrote Pink Cadillac, but I’m sure George appreciates the sentiment.
“However, since no one else will dare suggest a song by the best damned pop star of the last 20 years, can I suggest ‘So What’ by Pink?”
The Chain would like to make it very clear that the views of Rol re: the best pop star of the last 20 years are not necessarily shared by the publishers of The Chain.
There’s something rather wonderful about hearing a seventy-year old Welsh woman proclaiming: “I’m comin’ up so you better you better get this party started”, isn’t there? Bear that in mind when your grannies farting herself to sleep in front of the television on Christmas Day.
Which reminds me: Christmas records, anyone?
Ah, here’s Julian from Music From Magazines, he seems the sort of cheery fellow bound to supply us with something festive. Which he will, but first, he’ll expand a little on the whole Gabrielle Drake thing. She rather seems to have set racing the hearts of several of the men of a certain age who contribute here:
“Nick Drake’s sister was Gabrielle Drake who was in the TV show UFO (any picture would be a Christmas gift for any man of a certain age [See? I told you so]), the heavy metal band UFO is not a gift.”
It’s okay, we’re not having anything by UFO. Although, had you actually suggested something by them, I would have been honour bound to post it. Oh and by the way, I am not posting a picture of Gabrielle Drake. If you’re reading this, you’re already connected to the internet, so you can find one yourself, you mucky sod. ()
Before you all go cranking open a spare browser to do exactly that, stick around folks, because if you piece together this little bit of connected thinking out loud, you get a rather fine example of Comment Showboating.
“On the other hand ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” by The Carpenters is a fine song written by the Canadian group Klaatu, a bunch of session musicians, who some folk thought were The Beatles.”
I’ve always thought that was a pretty odd, uncharacteristic record for The Carpenters to have recorded, had assumed it was a cover version, but had never actually thought about finding out for sure. Consequently, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard it.
By the way, many years ago, I was drafted into what turned out to be the winning team in a pub quiz. (There was a music round, and without wishing to sound immodest, I was often asked to join teams for pub quizzes which featured a music round). The prize was “A Tribute to The Carpenters”, which I had assumed was going to be a night of people performing cover versions of their many hits, but which actually turned out to be a selection of middle aged men displaying a rather fine range of bureaus and occasional tables they had made.
I digress. Back to Julian:
“A slight detour to the movies for the classic sci fi ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ starring Michel Rennie as the alien called ….Klaatu. A still from the film was used (with some editing) for the cover of Ringo Starr’s LP ‘Goodnight Vienna’.”
It’s okay, he’s going somewhere with this. Trust me.
And he’s not wrong you know. The original:
and the “Peace and Love! Peace and Love! No autographs! Peace and Love” rip off:
“Which of course leads on to Dora Bryan and ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle'”
Julian’s not quite done yet, and we’re most definitely not done with the Gabrielle Drake links just yet. Here’s Julian, ruining all that excellent Comment Showboating by suggesting the Worst Record of the Week:
“Back to Gabrielle Drake. The organisation that [Spoiler alert!! – Considerate Ed] will save the world in UFO is the Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization or SHADO which is only a short step, (or a W) to a truly crap Christmas song”:
“All this talk of Gabrielle Drake being in Crossroads but am I the only one who mainly remembers her from that 1970s Sunday Night drama set in the exciting world of haulage – ‘The Brothers’?” chips in Alyson. “So many links to bands/duos with Brothers in their name so won’t overload you and was really just looking for one that might have done a seasonal ditty but all I could find in my library was Count Basie & The Mills Brothers with ‘December’! (Goodness knows where that came from as can’t remember ever noticing it before.)”
More Drake-related shenanigans from The Beard now:
“Drake is a popular Canadian rapper. Another, much better, Canadian rapper is Abdominal. He is best known for his collaborations with DJ Format. When not hip-hopping Format makes spaced out funk as part of The Simonsound. ‘Tour De Mars’, their cover of Kraftwerk’s Tour De France, is almost as good as the original.”
And the Drake links just keep on coming. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:
“Nick Drake was related to Elizabethan sailor, privateer and adventurer, Francis Drake.[Has anyone checked this? – Ed] Francis Drake was a thorn in the side of the ‘King of Spain’, which is a song by Galaxie 500.”
“A drake is a male duck. Chuck Berry was famous for his ‘duck walk’ and he had a song called Havana Moon, first released in 1957, later re-recorded for the 1979 album Rock It. Interestingly, that was the last studio album Chuck released, but he has a new one lined up for 2017, the year he turns 91. Yes – 91. I wonder if he can still do the duck walk?”
I imagine if he can, it would be The Duck Walk sponsored by Stannah Stairlifts and Sanatogen Vital 50+.
Props for the Duck/Drake/Moon double-linker by the way, Rob.
A quick additional duck-link from Walter:
“I don’t think he can’t do the duck walk any more but I’m surprised that he will us give a new record at the age of 91 and I ask myself if Keith Richards will still be on the stage at this age. So Ducks Deluxe came to my mind with Who’s put the bump”
By which I think you mean this (and apologies, I could only find a live version, but it doesn’t sound like there’s many people in the audience, so it’s practically a live studio version):
Whilst we’re on ducks, a song which I remember from my childhood, which I haven’t been able to find a decent copy of, but did find this clip from TOTP2, which means it is top-and-tailed by Steve Wright, which makes it even worse than it already is:
It was around this point that the Comments went all wonky and some got deleted. As far as I can tell, this affected Charity Chic, who compensated by reposting his links over and over again until they worked, and SWC and Badger’s. If anyone else’s got lost, my apologies.
One that didn’t get lost, was this from Kay. In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you all know that Kay is not just a friend of mine, but also my boss, so you’ll forgive me for allowing her suggestions, irrespective of how terrible the record or tenuous the link she suggests. I can say this without fear of retribution because by the time she reads this, she’ll be at least halfway through the bottle of Chocolate Orange liqueur we bought her today. Delicious on Coco Pops, I’m…er…told.
“Nick Drake links to Drake, same name but then realised I didn’t really know any of Drake’s stuff. [I have just Googled him,and I’m none the wiser] So went the same way as The Robster and linked drake to male ducks, then realised I knew no songs that are linked to ducks [It’s going well this, isn’t it?] …. but [I sense a Eureka! moment is imminent] ducks live in ponds and frogs do too…so my choice is Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus’ ‘We All Stand Together’, which was the first record my sister brought.”
Or, as he is forever known Chez Jez: Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft. Some of you will understand the reference.
I’m going to avoid the lazy joke about that being Nigel Farage’s least favourite record since it contains a bunch of frogs suggesting unity. Although I appear to have just made it anyway.
By George, it’s George!
“Worst song of the week contender [Nuh-huh]. From Nick Drake to Ted Drake (the footballer) who played for Southampton (and Arsenal)., and was manager of Chelsea when they won their first league title in 1954/55. And born in Southampton, in 1955 (double chain link there!) was Howard Jones. Now, I could it leave it to Charity Chic to pick a Howard Jones track from his record shelves But I’m going for…”
By the way, as I’ve uploaded that I’ve realised that there’s about three minutes of silence at the end of it. Time constraints prevent me from editing it, but I may come back and do it later on, if anyone’s that fussed. What I mean is, when the song sounds like it has ended at around the 3:30 mark, it has: don’t sit around in silence on the off-chance something interesting might be about to happen, as it isn’t.
As I mentioned earlier, the glitches that meant some comments went AWOL seem to have affected Charity Chic, SWC and Badger’s. I think we got there in the end though, although what with SWC and Badger both posting from their excellent When You Can’t Remember Anything blog I’m not 100% sure that I’ve attributed the right song to the right chap this week. So, more apologies if I’ve messed it up.
So, I think this is SWC taking us, as he puts it, “down the pink route” now he’s “finished watching Gabrielle Drake’s finest moment ‘Commuter Husbands’ “
“The obvious link from here is to ‘Snooker Loopy’ by Chas ‘n’ Dave and The Matchroom Mob” which has featured before, so I can’t allow, I’m afraid, “But another song that features pink would be ‘Pink Glove’ by Pulp.”
From vomit to Martini. I don’t just throw this together you know.
Here’s babylotti with a hat-trick, starting with a pink connection, and ending with something festive:
“First of all, I can think of Fuzzbox (had they dropped the ‘We’ve Got a …& We Know How to Use It’ by then?) [Yes and no, is the answer: officially they were now just Fuzzbox, but as this was the first single they released under that moniker, the “We’ve Got…” part was snuck onto the record sleeve just in case there was any doubt as to who was responsible for it. There’d been quite a make over in between the ‘Bostin’ Steve Austin’ album and this, so you can’t really blame them – Ed]) and Pink Sunshine. Bostin’”
“Moon River is from the excellent 1961 movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Ten years earlier, one of Audrey’s first ever screen roles was as a “Cigarette Girl” in the movie Laughter In Paradise in which she appeared alongside another famous George… George Cole. That George would go on to become immortalised as Arfur Daley in the TV show Minder, and in 1983, he would release a Christmas single with his co-star Dennis (“write the theme tune, sing the theme tune”) Waterman.”
I wish I could say I didn’t actually already own this. I think this may over-take Sir Cliff in the Worst Record of the Week stakes:
And since we’ve landed on some Christmas songs again, here’s another suggestion from Rol:
“Can I add ‘Run With The Fox’ by Chris Squire & Alan White (roughly a quarter of Yes) because it contains a Christmas Moon, which isn’t pink but probably has fairy lights hanging from it. It might keep old proggies like The Swede happy… or not. “
And this is where it gets complicated. For at the end of their summary of the lost comments, posted by which of our fine friends I know not, was this:
“He also said something about Malcolm McLaren but I true to form can’t remember what.”
Later, this, again, author unconfirmed: “It was to do with ‘Duck Rock’.”
I sought clarification: “Was there a song from ‘Duck Rock’ you had in mind? If not, it’s going to be ‘Double Dutch’…”
The response, again author unconfirmed: “Well most of it is rubbish to be honest [Fair point]. I only thought of it because I saw a copy in a charity shop. Double Dutch is fine.”
But I felt a bit bad about…erm…badgering them into letting me play the track I like the most, so I persevered:
“Yeh, it’s that or ‘Buffalo Girls’ really isn’t? Your call, I have them both lined up ready to go. Which did you suggest in your original lost comment? We should go with that one, really.. “
No response, but to be fair, the boys have probably been swamped with comments and nice things being said about their frankly phenomenal final post (for now…?) over at When You Can’t Remember Anything. If you haven’t read it yet, do your self a favour: click that link and read something incredible. Advanced warning: you will undoubtedly shed a tear.
The reason I was trying to check whether or not one of them had suggested ‘Buffalo Gals’ (as I have subsequenty realised it’s actually called) was this. I never look at what the next record in the Official Chain is until I’ve finished sourcing all the tunes you suggested and thought of a few myself. Seems only fair that we have an even playing field, where I don’t know what the next record in The Chain is any more than you do. Besides, it’d just look plain fishy if I “guessed” right every week.
But when I did look to see what the next record in The Official Chain was, this is what I found:
“From Nick Drake to the following (which is on the ‘Duck Rock’ album)..”:
So, SWC, Badger, jointly as I have no idea which of you suggested Malcolm McLaren, and in honour of your bloody marvellous (please keep going, you’re too good at this to stop) blog, have some bonus points. Merry Christmas.
Okay. So. This is the last edition of The Chain for 2016. I’ll be taking next week off, bar a couple of pre-planned posts I have lined up. Due to the nature of it, I can’t really write The Chain in advance, obviously.
So, you have two weeks to get your suggestions to me, via the Comments section below, for songs which link to “Buffalo Gals” by Malcom McLaren, along with the usual explanation about how you got from record A to record B.
Oh and one more thing. I love doing this, and I’ve said it before and I really mean it – I just host it, the majority of the work is down to you lot and your quite brilliant suggestions. I’ve followed blogs for over ten years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across a blog that does what we do here at The Chain. Not me, we.
I cannot think of a single other blog where requests are invited and all are posted; where all is good-natured, pleasant and friendly and everyone accepts they may get a bit of a ribbing every now and then, and nobody objects, nobody trolls, nobody flounces off in a strop because I’ve said their record choice was terrible; where I’ve been introduced to God knows how many songs and artists that I would probably never have heard were we not doing this (and where I hope I’ve returned the favour a few times); and where we get the most incredibly diverse range of artists – just look at that Tag list underneath this!! 46 songs!! Where else would you get that?
What I’m trying to say is this: if you’ve ever made a suggestion here, thank you. You have helped make this place what it is.
Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Ordinarily, I start every post on The Chain by recapping what we do here, what record we’re linking to this week, and then say I’d better crack on as we’ve got loads to get through.
Now whilst it is true that we have got an awful lot of tunes this week, there’s not as many as perhaps there could be, and that’s because one of our regular Chain Gang contributors is conspicuous by his absence for a second week running and is, I hear, rather unwell. I mean, I haven’t actually been presented with a sick note excusing him from participating, but that’s what I hear.
So, Badger: get well soon mate, and this week’s post is dedicated to you.
Last week’s record was “Radio, Radio” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, a song which cropped up a couple of months ago on my Radio-themed “Friday Night Music Club” post, and so I was anticipating a few that I had chosen back then would resurface again here. Not a bit of it, which is either indicative of either the wide range of musical tastes you guys and girls cover, or of how many bad records I chose. Or both.
So to kick things off, one of my suggestions which didn’t quite make the cut when I was writing that “Friday Night…” post, mostly because it doesn’t have the word “Radio” in it’s title. But it seems an appropriate place for us to start:
“‘Radio Radio’ is taken from the LP ‘This Year’s Model’. If your car happens to be this year’s model (at least if it was registered in the UK between March & August), the age identifier portion of the number plate would be 16. In 1980 The Clash promoted the ‘London Calling’ LP with the 16 Tons Tour, every night of which would see the band walk on stage to ‘Sixteen Tons’ by Tennessee Ernie Ford.”
Actually, there’s a double link for that one, as it was the subject of a Facebook campaign to get it to Number 6 in the UK Singles charts in an effort to save the BBC’s radio station 6 Music. It actually managed to scale to the giddy heights of Number 56, but the station survived, thankfully.
Time to check back in with Dirk, whose next Clash/Radio song is, perhaps unsurprisingly:
Whenever someone mentions Capital Radio, I’m always reminded of one of their DJs, who also worked the decks on Radio 1 for a while: David ‘Kid’ Jensen. I am still allowed to mention him, aren’t I? He’s not one of the bad ones, right? Good. Then I can legitimately play this:
But enough of my suggestions (by which I mean, I’ll have some more later): time for Alex G, who this week writes his suggestion like this:
“The recent Edinburgh Fringe revival of 80s comedy show “Radio Active” has got me listening to the old shows again. One of the episodes is called “The Radio Radio Programme” and as usual it includes one of Phil Pope’s musical parodies, his target in that particular episode being “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. Not one of PP’s best efforts, but reason enough to suggest linking to the original “Sledgehammer” by the actual Peter Gabriel.”
I could, at this point, post that ground-breaking video, but we’ve all seen that, so instead I thought I’d take a step back and post a couple of Phil Pope’s better parodies. I think you’ll recognise his targets on both of these:
Alyson – and indeed her other half Jamie – will be back in a bit. When you see what one of them suggests, you’ll be wishing they had stopped at Quo.
In the meantime, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, who you may recall was very close to suggesting the official next record in the chain last week, and therefore almost bagged himself some invaluable (by which I mean of no value whatsoever) bonus points:
“From ‘Radio Radio’ to the excellent ‘Mexican Radio’ by Wall of Voodoo…”
“Suspect I won’t be troubling the scorers this week…” he sadly concludes.
You’re right, CC, you won’t. But you haven’t nominated the worst record of the week. Has he, Alyson?
Nor has The Beard, although he gave me a bit of a fright with the direction of this week’s suggestion:
“The lyrics to ‘Radio Radio’ make reference to late night listening. Circa 1992 I heard Annie Lennox played back to back in the small hours on Radio One, something that haunts me to this day. One of the songs played was Why. Why by Carly Simon is infinitely better.”
Deep breaths, everyone. We’re okay. He didn’t go there. The Annie Alarm remains untroubled.
Ordinarily, I might only allow one song by the same artist to be nominated by the one person, but I’m going to let it slide here for two reasons. Firstly, “Nobody Does It Better” is my favourite Bond theme ever (most of the time; sometimes it’s “Live and Let Die”). Secondly…well…have you ever seen the episode in the second series of “I’m Alan Partridge” where our late night radio host describes the opening sequence of “The Spy Who Loved Me”, to which “Nobody…” is the theme, as the VHS copy he intended to watch in his static home has been inadvertently taped over with “America’s Strongest Man”? And have you ever wondered how accurate his commentary is? Wonder no longer:
Speaking of songs that I wouldn’t normally allow, here’s The Great Gog:
“‘Radio Radio’ features the same word repeated in its title as does another ECATA ditty, ‘Party Party’ from the film of the same name. There are obviously lots of other examples of this type of song-titling, but that one seemed the most appropriate.”
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t allow a song by the same artist as the record we are linking to (not that it’s ever happened before, mind). On this occasion, you just get away with it on the grounds of the repetition of words theme.
In fact, you could also have this one, which I pointed out to Kay I was surprised she hadn’t suggested, given that’s it’s by her favourite group, that it has a title with the same word repeated in it, and even has the word ‘repetition’…erm…repeated quite a lot in it:
Right. Let me take a step back, survey the carnage, and see who I haven’t mentioned yet.
George. Of course, George.
“Older people than myself, such as Charity Chic and The Swede, might prefer to use the word wireless instead of radio. In the tv programme Not The Nine O’Clock News, they once did a song with the lyrics “On the road you must be brave and tireless, on the road you can listen to the wireless”. I think that song is called I Like Trucking.”
Close, George. My recollection is that on the show it was referred to as “I Like Trucking”, but when the cash-in accompanying album “Hedgehog Sandwich” was released, the title had been shortened to just “Trucking”:
“I have an entry first from the other half Jamie, who decided that if there are two radios the sound will be in stereo which led him to think of the Stereophonics who released a track called Vegas Two Times from their ‘Just Enough Education to Perform’ album. Bit of a double link with the “stereo” and the “two times” both relating to Radio Radio.”
What with me having lived in Wales for 20 years, at the time that the Stereophonics came to prominence, you could be forgiven for thinking I love them.
You’d be wrong though.
Did you ever have that thing happen to you, when you’re in the middle of a conversation and someone suddenly sticks their head round the corner, and says something which completely makes you lose your thread? Here’s Swiss Adam again, who’s located another unexpected item in his Bagging Area:
“I worked in the radio industry for 23 years of my life. Radio Radio is one of my all-time favourite songs because of the lines…
‘And the radio is in the hands Of such a lot of fools Trying to anaesthetize The way that you feel’
When I started working in radio, back in the late 80s, my ambition was to be a jock because then I’d get to pick my own music. A couple of years later, presenter choice was gone from local radio and my ambitions of being a DJ were over. I stayed in the industry for a further 20 years in other roles because it was an easy job and I got lots of freebies from the record library: basically, all the good stuff they wouldn’t ever play because it didn’t “test well” with the great unwashed.
All of which would usually lead me to suggest the same track I selected last week: Rex Bob Lowenstein by Mark Germino & The Sluggers. But as I already had that one, can I instead go with a very similar tale…”
“I have a chain that results in a Bruce Springsteen song…” he says, slightly curiously, given that on these very pages he has named Broooce as the other act, along with The Clash, that he dislikes.
Despite much encouragement, he declined to provide us with the link, declaring he would “rather stick pins in my eyes”, which seems a bit extreme. I’d recommend ear plugs as a far more effective way to avoid hearing something, George. You’re welcome.
Instead, he comes up with this:
“From Elvis Costello to Elvis Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins the actor) and from his album Ash Wednesday the song Ash Wednesday.”
A couple more folks returning from earlier now. Here’s The Robster:
“We got here by way of the name of Elvis Costello’s record label. There’a a reggae label called Easy Star Records that has a house band, The Easy Star All-Stars. Along with an astounding selection of guest vocalists, they’ve released a series of excellent tribute albums over the years, one of which was ‘Radiodread’, a reggae tribute to ‘OK Computer’ by Radiohead. I could suggest any number of songs from it (‘Lucky’ featuring the legendary Frankie Paul; ‘Let Down’ featuring the uber-legendary Toots & The Maytals), but I’m going to plump for ‘No Surprises’ featuring The Meditations.”
You may have noticed that it’s not just Badger who is conspicuous by his absence this week. Where has his When You Can’t Remember Anything… partner in crime S-WC got to? Well, he’s in the middle of moving house, but he did take time out from packing up boxes to suggest this:
“I don’t really have a lot of time to explain but my suggestion is ‘Radio Ladio’ by Metronomy.”
Okay, where next. Ah yes. Can’t really put this off any longer. Welcome back Alyson:
“I think I have probably come up with something that would win cheesiest song EVER in a poll of polls. Yes, from Elvis Costello to Abbott and Costello (the more mature chain-ganger will remember them) to Russ Abbot who had a mid ’80s hit with Atmosphere (as in he liked a party with one).”
Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time before I got round to posting this. There’s so much to make you cringe here: the reference to being “at the dancing party” – was that ever a thing?; the desperate attempt to be hip by referencing Frankie Goes to Hollywood; the frankly rather seedy looking video where Russ saunters through a nightclub full of dressed-for-the-80s bright young things, looking like the sort of person your mother used to warn you about.
You’ve never seen the video, you say? Then get your laughing gear round this:
See what they did there? It’s so disappointing that it doesn’t quite work.
Maybe it does if you do it the other way round?
Better. Much better.
Okay, to round things off this week, one last suggestion from me.
In 2006, Basement Jaxx released their fourth album “Crazy Itch Radio”, from which I’ve chosen this little beauty:
Which just leaves us with the small matter of what the official song in the link was. And normally I’m a little bit disparaging about the tune they select, not so much for the song, but for the reason it was suggested/selected.
But credit where credit’s due, this week’s is a double-linker:
“Elvis Costello sings on the Joni Mitchell covers album [A Tribute to Joni Mitchell]…” ..and although he doesn’t sing this one, the choice of Joni tune doubles up here:
Once upon a time, Virgin was known for being both a record label and chain of record stores, and not for owning trains which don’t run on time (apparently; I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding a Virgin…train), or providers of Murdoch-baiting TV packages and sporadic broadband. (I hate Murdoch with a passion, but my dislike deepened still further a couple of weeks ago when he suddenly decided to stop BT (who I’m with) from airing the Fox Channel, just as the current season of “The Walking Dead” started up again. Twat.)
Anyway, in 1980, The Freshies released this slice of rather ruddy wonderful DIY pop:
Never slow to miss an opportunity to self-promote, Virgin guru Richard Branson wasted no time in waiting 26 years until 2006 when he launched a search for the Girl in question, to mark the opening of a new Virgin Megastore in Manchester. The quest was unsuccessful; had he found her then he would doubtless have been pictured lifting the poor girl up, for this seems to be his default setting for publicity shots. Type the words “Richard Branson lifting” into Google images search, and you’ll see what I mean.
The more astute of you will know that The Freshies were formed and led by the much missed Chris Sievey, who later found fortune, of sorts, as Timperley’s finest son Frank Sidebottom.
I love the fact that after Sievey’s (and by extension, Frank’s) death in 2010, fans got together to raise £60,000 to commission a statue of Frank which now stands in Timperley in his memory. I knew nothing about it at the time; had I, then I would have happily contributed. You know I would. I really really would.
Here it is:
This, of course, gives me a little needed excuse to post some more Frank. In a week where we lost yet another from the ranks of popular music, it seems appropriate to share Frank’s contribution to the NME’s 1988 charity release to support Childline, “Sgt Pepper Knew My Father”, an album where acts of the day covered the whole of the George Martin produced “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.
BBC4 are currently re-airing some of the few remaining editions of Top of The Pops from 1981 which weren’t hosted by convicted or dead paedophiles, and earlier today I was catching up with a couple of the programmes I’d recently recorded. (I don’t Sky+. I object to Sky. I don’t see why I should give any of my money to Jerry Hall unless I can absolutely help it).
Anyway, a song came on which I quite liked, had never heard before, and so I made a note to track it down sometime.
This evening, as I prepared my evening meal (Chippy chips!) with my mp3 player on shuffle, the very same song came on. Turns out I already owned it and had no idea. Which bodes well for me writing about every record I ever bought, in the order I bought them.
And while I’m in a Fassbender kinda mood (I’m always up for a little bending of fass), here’s a similarly monikered chap from the soundtrack to the 2015 movie “Frank”, which as I’m sure you know is based on the lovely and brilliant Jon Ronson’s brief stint as keyboard player with the legend that was Frank Sidebottom:
Which I can categorically tell you sounds fuck all like Frank Sidebottom. You know it doesn’t, it really, really doesn’t.
By way of contrast, since it’s Saturday and therefore a football day, here, from the anti-ID card compilation album “Bananas!” released in 1989 is some of your actual Frank (and a very much uncredited but prominent Little Frank):
I bought this album back in the day, not because I particularly objected to the introduction of ID cards (though I did) but mostly because it has a few absolute corkers on it, including one which will forever feature in any Top 10 favourite records ever(!) list I’m ever asked to create.
Anyway, if you’d like to read up on the circumstances that prompted this compilation album coming into being, then I’d suggest going here: Bananas!
Now last night, you should have had a visit from a jolly old sod dressed in red and white. I do hope you kept your head under the covers and didn’t peek. The lead singer on the next track was clearly emotionally scarred by what he witnessed one Christmas Eve; what other excuse can there be for some of the things he (allegedly, make sure you say allegedly – Legal Editor) allegedly got up to in later life?
And if that vision wasn’t enough to screw the little fellow up, then having his brothers illustrate the indecent act by harmonising the words “Tickle! Tickle!” around him as he recounted what he witnessed certainly would.
Let’s move on, shall we?
One of my favourite Christmas Records featuring two of my favourite indie pop acts. A real Christmas bargain, a Buy One Get One Free deal if you will:
(See, I don’t just throw this shit together, you know)
And since I’ve just about managed to drag this back to the true meaning of Christmas, a song which isn’t particularly Christmassy, but the title is. There’s plenty of versions of this knocking about to choose from: Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Alexandra Burke to name but a few. Me, I’ve plumped for this one: