The Chain #15

Blimey, loads of suggestions to get through this week. More first-time contributors, some returning friends, and above all, some bloody great tunes, 80% of which I’d never even heard before, let alone owned copies of. So it’s been a fun old week, trying to track down the bloody things, with varying degrees of success.

First up this week is George. George would like us to know two things. Firstly, he was first, and second his record is the best thing that will be suggested this week:

“It’s a bit unfair to be the first to post because I have a link to one of the 5 best songs ever made. Sorry to the others, your choices can’t touch this. Dirty Old Town was written by Ewan MacColl, whose father was called William (MacColl), and William just happens to be the first name of the bloke who wrote Jungle Rock. William M. Mizell is better known as Hank Mizell.”

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Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock

Next up, and straight to the point, here’s Charity Chic:

“Ewan’s father may have been William but his daughter was Kirsty. So In These Shoes? please” (See that? “Please”. I mean, there was always going to be a tune by Kirsty in this post, but a little manners go a long way.”)

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15. Kirsty MacColl – In These Shoes?

It’s a big Chain “Welcome Back!” to What’s It All About, Alfie? who writes:

“Dirty Old Town was by The Pogues fronted by Shane MacGowan and Shane has just got himself a brand new set of fine gnashers – The DJ/Actor Goldie also has a fine set of golden gnashers and appeared in the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough which was also the name of the title track by Garbage (fronted by another Scottish “lady” Shirley Manson) – one of my favourite Bond themes ever.”

You’re definitely getting the hang of this.

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Garbage – The World Is Not Enough

And now, it’s a big Chain “Welcome!” to S-WC, who co-writes the fecking wondrous When You Can’t Remember Anything and who was also partly responsible for one of the most entertaining series of posts I’ve read this year over at JC’s the Vinyl Villain: The £20 Challenge. Anyway, here are his suggestions. Yes, that’s right. Suggestions. As in plural.

“I’m currently in the Medway Towns, one of which is Chatham, which is a (very) dirty old town. Chatham is the birthplace, home and stomping ground of one Wild Billy Childish. So how about ‘Troubled Mind’ from his band The Buff Medways.”

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 The Buff Medways – Troubled Mind

“Or Chatham is a dirty old town, that is part of Medway, The Buff Medways are also a type of chicken, Chickens lay eggs which leads us to Tom Waits’ ‘Eggs and a Sausage’…”

The phrase “like a duck to water” springs to mind.

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Tom Waits – Eggs And Sausage (In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson)

Next, another big Chain “Welcome!” to Dirk who writes the also wonderful sexyloser blog, who contributes this (pay attention now – Dirk has kindly presented his suggestion in bullet-point format):

“This, of course, is an easy task and the answer should be clear to anyone:

– as we all know the dirtiest town in the world is Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Have a look at an according Forbes list if you don’t believe me

– as we all know as well Baku’s probably most famous son is Garry Kasparov. Have a look at Wikipedia if you still disbelieve me

– again, as we all know, ole’ Garry was rather a fine chessplayer, so fine in fact that he was World Champion back in 1986. Again, Wikipedia will be able to confirm this to you

– almost finally, you’d be relieved to hear – 1986 is the very same year that Eton Crop released their groundbreaking ‘Yes Please, Bob’ mini album on Megadisc in the Netherlands

– and track # 5 was, and still is, I would think, called “Chessplayers Are Good Blokes”

So, there can only be one conclusion for the correct tune to follow The Pogues’ Dirty Old Town’: Eton Crop’s ‘Chessplayers Are Good Blokes’, I’m sure you’ll agree, don’t you?”

Well, no actually. There’s no “one” correct tune, Dirk, as these are all perfectly great suggestions (and still more to come). I think we can all agree that your inaugural suggestion wins this weeks “Comment Showboating” Award though:

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 Eton Crop – Chessplayers Are Good Blokes

But, brace yourself folks, we’re about to get all cultured on yo’asses.

Here’s The Swede:

“The song ‘Dirty Old Town’ was originally written by Ewan MacColl for use in his 1951 play ‘Landscape With Chimneys’. MacColl wrote (or co-wrote) a total of 18 dramatic works for the stage, including, in the early 1940’s, an adaptation of Molière’s ‘Flying Doctor’. In 1978 Hawkwind, working under the guise of Hawklords, released ’25 Years On’, a very good punk/new wave influenced LP, which included a track called ‘Flying Doctor’.

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 Hawklords – Flying Doctor

Next it’s another big Chain “Welcome Back!” to Marie, who has a new, interesting approach to submitting a link, which is to pick up on something one of you has suggested, and take it a step in a different direction:

“The Swede’s entry immediately brought to mind Judy Collins’ version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Time Passes Slowly’. It had been written for “Scratch”, a play by Archibald MacLeish, loosely based on a short story called “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benét.”

Cultured, see.

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Judy Collins – Time Passes Slowly

And yet another big Chain “Welcome Back!”to Kay, who has picked up on the fact that a couple of weeks ago Swiss Adam sneaked a second choice through by picking a song by a band I love (Half Man Half Biscuit, on that occasion), and has guaranteed my posting her suggestion by selecting one by a band I love even more:

“I must admit I hadn’t heard dirty old town before, so listened to it and then found out it was written about Salford. So my link is The Smiths – “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, due to the photo of The Smiths outside Salford Lads Club on The Queen is Dead album (inside sleeve I think) [inner gatefold of the original vinyl – Pedantic Ed] and Salford is a bit of a dirty old town (well it was when I lived there).”

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The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again

And finally, here’s The Great Gog:

“As a Mancunian, I was aware of the Salford connection and immediately thought of the highly irritating Salford Jets and Who You Looking At?”

I was intrigued. It’s not often you get someone suggest I post a song by a band they describe as “highly irritating”.

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Salford Jets – Who You Looking At?

I take your point, GG.

Also that one was a right bugger to find a decent copy of.

My turn! And a link which I’m surprised none of you came up with.

“Dirty Old Town” was on The Pogues second album, “Rum Sodomy & The Lash”, which was produced by one Declan MacManus, who is better known as Elvis Costello. In 2008, Costello appeared on Fall Out Boy’s album “Folie à Deux”, providing vocals on the track “What a Catch, Donnie”.

Here’s the one song by Fall Out Boy that I own and quite like:

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Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down

But, what was the official song that linked to “Dirty Old Town”? Well, we’ve already had it. Yup, look up there, at the Kirsty MacColl track that Charity Chic suggested and you’ll see a little “15” in the link. So – bonus points to CC!

So, you know what to do now. Have a wee think. Or a wee and a think. Then, when you’ve finished (and washed your hands) send your suggestions via the Comments section at the bottom, for songs which link to Kirsty MacColl’s “In These Shoes?”

More soon.

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Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For…. (Part 3)

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Mention Glastonbury to anyone who’s never been, and they will say one or both of the following two things:

1) they will make some reference to you, and everyone else who has ever been to Glastonbury, being a drug taking hippy,

2) they will say something about how crappy the weather always is.

Neither of these things are, of course, entirely true.

You may have noticed that in my last two posts, whilst I haven’t exactly banished the spectre of Glastonbury as a haven for spliff-puffing, pill popping longhairs (it isn’t, though there is a fair bit of hippyness going on) I have tried to shy away from mentioning the weather, partly because it’s so damned predictably English to talk about the weather, but mostly because on the whole it wasn’t too bad in 2003 and 2004.

In fact, I came away from Glastonbury 2004 with quite the tan, mostly because I’d lost my cap on pretty much the first day, and hadn’t bothered applying any sun cream for the rest of the weekend. On my first day back in work afterwards, I was met with a couple of “Fucking hell, where did you go on holiday?”s, although this was probably because my bald bonce had burned so badly I was quite literally able to peel a whole layer of skin off in one go, leaving me with what appeared to be a swimming cap made of my own skin, like some macabre tribute to Duncan Goodhew made by Hannibal Lecter.

So that was the look I was rocking post Glasto 2004: draw a line through the middle of my forehead and I was bright sore pink above it and tanned brown below. I must have looked like I was going to a fancy dress party, had taken it waaaaay too seriously, and was going as a Big Dog’s Cock.

But I digress. There’s really no getting away from it, the weather at Glastonbury 2005 was terrible. We (a considerably smaller posse this time, but I really have lost track of who was there this year) arrived on the Wednesday of our hat-trick year, pitched up and wandered round, and the weather was gorgeous, no sign at all of the quite literal storms to come. This continued through Thursday, and by Thursday evening we were all beginning to believe that we were about to experience that most rare of things: a sunny Glastonbury festival.

No such luck. On Thursday night/Friday morning, the rain came down. And down. And down. Camp sites were flooded, tents and their belongings swept away. Proceedings at the Pyramid were delayed starting due to flooding, with the first two acts, Adjágas, and The Subways having to bow to the storm and the threat of electrocution.

When I was researching (alright, trying to jog my memory) about the 2005 festival, I came across this on YouTube, footage taken by a festival goer showing before, during and after the storm. It kinda has the feeling of one of those camcorder horror films like Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that were all the rage a few years ago; for the 1:40 seconds at the start you just know something terrible is going to happen and then…boom!

Still, at least there wasn’t a repeat of the Infamous 1998 Flooded Dance Tent Incident….You couldn’t make that…er…shit up.

But something happens when the Glastonbury Festival is hit by extreme weather. All the festival goers seem to come together in defiance, determined to have a good time no matter what the skies may throw at them, and assuming that your tents survived the deluge that’s about all you can do: chuck a waterproof on, decide “Aww, fuck it”, neck some scrumpy, and soldier on. That’s British Bulldog Blitz Bravado, right there.

Anyway, tracking down footage of some of the acts playing in 2005 proved rather difficult, presumably because most of the TV companies covering the event decided to follow the example of the Pyramid on Friday morning and elected not to risk electrocution by filming much bar the headliners.

As a result, I have nothing to offer you in respect of Editors on The Other Stage on the Friday morning, after which we trudged over to the newly named John Peel Stage to catch Maximo Park. We didn’t manage to see them, but we did manage to stand outside the rammed tent and hear them, a bit. You can get a better idea of how they were here.

Next it was over to The Pyramid to see the legend that is Elvis Costello. Sometime in the late 1980s I’d picked up a copy of his “The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)” album. This was back in the days when people released a “Best Of..” album when they had established themselves, and had a wide body of work to choose from and show off about, rather than after two or three albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in to sucker you into buying it. I’m with Dave Gorman on this one. (Hopefully, that link should take you to a rather brilliant analysis of the content of Scouting For Girls’ Greatest Hits album. Scroll up to the start of the chapter if it works. If it doesn’t, then buy the book from which it’s lifted “Too Much Information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think” here)

It would seem that the British Bulldog Blitz Bravado spirit hadn’t quite kicked in yet; much as I loved his set, Elvis went on record saying it was “fucking dreadful” and pledged never to play in the UK again (a threat he has, thankfully, reneged on since, returning to the festival in 2013, sporting, it has to be said, a rather natty hat)

Here’s him doing sticky Valentine unrequited love classic Alison, and segueing into something by some other chap also called Elvis. Not sure what happened to him.

Next up, Doves. Not much to say here, other than I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Their slightly brooding but captivating sound certainly seemed to sum up how everyone was feeling as the weather resolutely refused to improve.

Next, The Killers. Promoting their first album, the aptly titled Hot Fuss, they were much anticipated by all that had not yet seen them. I, and most of our gang, being super-cool indie kids, had already seen them, headlining the NME Awards Tour earlier that year, with support from (and get this): Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and Kaiser Chiefs. Now THAT’S a line-up.

We’d decided they were okay enough to warrant us sticking around and to watch them again, though this decision had more to do with the mud underfoot and the fact that The White Stripes were on next as headliners than any particular desire to watch The Killers again. That said, they put on a pretty good show, opening with my personal favourite by them, Somebody Told Me, followed by Jenny Was A Friend of Mine (a song which, to this day, my friends and I are unable to say the title of without doing it in that ridiculous yelp Brandon Flowers does when introducing it here), before rounding off things with the song that has perhaps the most cringe-worthy rhyming couplet ever in it All These Things That I Have Done The reaction of people to this song baffles me to this day, all eyes closed, hands and lighters in the air like it actually means something. I’m with Bill Bailey on this one.

Much like Adam Buxton in Commentary Corner, I can’t resist looking at the comments left under a clip on YouTube, and some of the screaming outrage on show under the clip of Mr Bailey, left by Killers fans, is the internet version of those earnestly singing along to utter claptrap. Like Daniel Pacheco, for example, who says “The phrase in context of the song makes perfect sense. Hell even taken out of context it makes perfect sense. Bill Bailey is obviously retarded”. Well, no, Daniel, it does not, and I note that you haven’t actually gone as far as to explain why you think it makes sense. I would challenge him to expand on his theory via the YouTube comments, but I won’t, partly because I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing, but mostly because I’m not a masturbating fourteen year old. Sighs…I wish….

Anyway, The White Stripes are next, and they do their thing, which is Jack tossing off some awesome riffs whilst Meg just twats the fuck out of her drums, the two seemingly bearing no relation to each other, yet somehow working brilliantly at the same time. We get every White Stripes song you could wish for: Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, My Doorbell, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and, of course, Seven Nation Army to name but a few that anyone has actually heard of.

So ended Friday, and off to our tents we all trudged (eventually), hoping Saturday would be a little drier.

It was, but not much. No more floods, thankfully, but still not exactly flip-flop weather.

My day was spent flitting between The Other Stage and The Pyramid. Apparently Goldie Lookin’ Chain played The Pyramid on Saturday morning, and a tiny part of me wonders if this is where my confusion with them playing in 2004 comes from, but a larger part of me remains fairly sure the line up was as I remember. Anyway, I couldn’t find any footage of them in 2005, so I guess I’ll never know.

Next up: Kaiser Chiefs. As already mentioned, we’d caught them on the NME Tour earlier that year, and until that night I’d been totally non-plussed by everything I’d heard from them. But that night they completely blew me away: they were first on the bill, started their set off with a blistering rendition of  “Na Na Na Na Na”, took no prisoners after that, and to my mind utterly upstaged all the acts that came after them.

Their set at Glastonbury followed pretty much the same pattern, and whilst The Pyramid Stage is a rather different proposition to Cardiff University’s Great Hall, they still were pretty darn good. Here’s two out of the three of their early singles that have the trademark “Whooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh” in them: Oh My God and, of course, I Predict a Riot.

Next on The Pyramid, Ash. It’s incredible to think that they were still in their late-twenties by 2005; they seemed to have been around for ever, churning out indie classic after indie classic for ten years or so. They don’t need any more introduction, so here’s A Life Less Ordinary and Burn Baby Burn.

Back over to The Other Stage now for the obligatory Echo & The Bunnymen set, The Killing Moon being an obvious high-light, closely followed by Interpol.

Interpol are one of those bands that seemed to have made one awesome album (Antics, for the record) and several kind of okay ones. Luckily, they were promoting said album in 2005, so we got Slow Hands and Evil (I’ve never seen them since, but I imagine they’re staples of every set).

Who’s on next? Wait…is that….Fuck, run!! Head for the hills!! It’s Kasabian!!!

Luckily, over at The Pyramid there was New Order, back in the days when they were still speaking to each other, kind of, occasionally, if they had to. This was a proper tear through their back catalogue, plus a couple from their slightly iffy new album, so we got some Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, of course), some classic New Order (Temptation) and Keith Bloody Allen, coming onstage riding a pantomime horse, comic genius that he is, so he could “join in” on World In Motion.

Choice of Saturday night headliners had been a bit of a quandary for me this year. 90% of our group elected to watch Razorlight on The Other Stage; promoting their one half decent album (Up All Night) they were probably the wise choice. However, one of the group really wanted to go to The Pyramid and watch…Coldplay. Somewhat bashful after how rude I was to the girl the previous year who wanted to watch Muse rather than Orbital, I think I decided I needed to do something to sort my karma out (now there’s some hippy bullshit, right there).

So, I volunteered – yes, volunteered!! – to go watch Coldplay with my buddy. Now that’s friendship.

They couldn’t be that bad, now could they? I reasoned.

Oh, but yes they could.

I can honestly say that I have never been so deathly bored at a gig in all my life. The one highlight, if you can call it that, was their cover of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, played as attribute to Kylie, who had to pull out of doing the headline slot on Sunday due to fairly well-publicised health problems.

Needless to say, they turn one of the finest pop records of the 21st century into a dull dirge. Oh and Chris, don’t give up the day job for comedy.

People, if you buy Coldplay records, CDs or MP3s, or go to their gigs, or buy their T-shirts, then please stop. You’re just encouraging the morose posho dullards.

Sunday arrived, and the weather didn’t seem to be showing any sign of improvement. And then Brian Wilson played The Pyramid, and suddenly everything was alright with the world, for, just like during Belle & Sebastian’s set the year before, the sun suddenly came out to play, only this time we had Surfin’ USA, California Girls and a whole host of other Beach Boy-tastic tunes rather than wry Scottish indie pop songs about someone called Judy dreaming about horses to celebrate to. I have deliberately not posted a link to film footage of the set, partly because I again struggled to find much of decent quality, but mostly because if I had, you would have to watch Brian looking…well, let’s just say he didn’t really seem to be fully aware of where he was, what was going on, and what he was doing, for the majority of the set. But no matter, Glastonbury loved him for bringing the California sun with him.

Next up: Garbage. I don’t mind a bit of Garbage, and actually met lead singer Shirley Manson many years ago when she was backing singer in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (CLANG! – the sound of a name drop there). Actually, she won’t remember it (nor should she) and I certainly don’t. I’ll explain this some other time. Needless to say, there is no gossip for you to get your teeth into.

Garbage were here in support of their fourth album, “Bleed Like Me”; an album that I would struggle and fail to name a single song from, much the same as with their third album, whatever that was called. Thankfully, they knew what to do in a festival atmosphere, so we got the decent singles from their first two (good) albums: Stupid Girl, Push It, and the apt-if-only-you’d-been-on-stage-a-couple-of-hours-earlier Only Happen When It Rains

Next: Primal Scream. I love a bit of Gillespie, Innes and Co., and now the sun was out, and about to go down again, I, along with probably about 85% of the rest of the crowd wanted a set of sunny-Screamedlica songs to compliment our new found joy and dryness. The signs were good when the into music was the chorus of the single version of “Come Together”, but The Scream don’t really “do” what you expect, so instead of summery dance records, we got their Kraut-rock set, which was fine, they were still fantastic, just not what most of wanted, I think. They started by launching into a blistering version of Accelerator before ending up with Movin’ On Up via Swastika Eyes .

I say “ending up”, but anyone who was there, or watched it on television, will know that their set didn’t end after Movin’ On Up. Well not straight afterwards. Bobby was clearly not impressed that Basement Jaxx were now headlining the Sunday night in place of Kylie, and decided that he wanted to a) berate the crowd, and b) play another song. Some of his taunts are just priceless (“Do you wanna dance? Yeh?? Well you should’ve been here fifteen fucking years ago”). This, I have decided, was definitely aimed at me and the rest of the Screamadelica crowd. He had a point.

So, on to Basement Jaxx. You’ll recall that many of my fellow festivalees had chosen them over Paul McCartney the previous year, and whilst I have no regrets about seeing the former mop-top, I have to admit the Jaxx were incredible, giving Glastonbury the dance Bobby refused to and Kylie would have done.

Again, for some reason, footage seems to be in short supply; here’s U Don’t Know Me from Glastonbury, and Oh My Gosh, which isn’t, despite it being the first time I ever heard it, and it became possibly my favourite song by Basement Jaxx.

Oh My Gosh was a new track on Basement Jaxx’s “The Singles” album. Which I bought. What does that say about me, Mr Gorman?