Happy 50th, Shit Elvis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

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

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

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

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

But I also remember the night that changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gene – Fill Her Up

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

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

I buckled up.

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

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

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

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

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Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

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

And then there was the Space Dust.

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

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

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

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

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

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Manic Street Preachers – Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier

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

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

Until…

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

She shook the pint glass.

“You see my show?” she said.

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

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

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

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

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The Cramps – Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs

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

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

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The Vines – Ride

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

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

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

I got some funny looks in that bar.

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

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Roxy Music – Do The Strand

…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

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

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

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

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

Including the groom.

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

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

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

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

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

“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”

Silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender

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

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

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

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

Big mistake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He would have easily caught me if I tried.

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

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

All your fault, Big Brother.

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

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

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The Pogues – Lullaby of London

…although perhaps, this is more appropriate:

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Terry Scott – My Brother

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

More soon.

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The Chain #29

As the late great Sir David Frost would have said had he been hosting it, rather than faffing about interviewing Richard Nixon, or popping through the keyhole with a bloke who makes pasta sauce: Hello, Good Evening, and Welcome to the latest instalment in the series of posts known as The Chain.

We ended last week with “Up on Cripple Creek” by The Band, and I set you all three challenges:

  1. Come up with your usual high standard of suggestions for songs which link to that record;
  2. See if any of you could come up with a song worse than the one I had thought of, or failing that, the actual one I was thinking of;
  3. I didn’t actually write this, but I think we were all hoping for some suggestions to lift the post-election blues.

And, as I hoped, you did not disappoint.

As usual, you can break down this week’s suggestions into various categories, so here we go with the first of those groups, which picked up on the fact that many of The Band hailed from the country who experienced some technical difficulties last week when the website which facilitates people applying to emigrate to their fine land crashed due to the amount of traffic it received after Trump won the election: Canada.

First out of the traps was George, determined to dazzle us with his knowledge of terrible records:

“Worst Record In The Chain challenge accepted! [see..?] The Band were mostly from Canada. And also from Canada were a group called Sway, who covered Ottawan’s ‘Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)’, and if you thought that the original was bad, just listen to that cover.”

As it goes, I don’t think the original is that bad. Of it’s time, yes. As for the cover George has nominated though, well…he has a point. Also of it’s time, that time being when it was acceptable to churn out cheesy versions of old tunes, i.e. the late 80s. I’m looking at you, Stock Aitken and Waterman. And you can piss off as well, Cowell:

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Sway – Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)

As an aside, you’d think that if you were going down the Canadian route, then simply suggesting something by Ottawan would be sufficient, what with Ottawa being the capital of Canada and everything. But no: it turns out Ottawan were not actually Ottawan at all; they were founded by French record producers Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger and fronted by Caribbean-born Jean Patrick Baptiste and Annette, who apparently is so famous as not to require a surname. Such things are for mere mortals like you and I.

Much as he might be keen to win the coveted crown of “Worst Record of the Week” (you haven’t, by the way George. Not even close), George is also keen to make a more credible suggestion, also tip-toeing his way along the Canadian route:

“And from that absolute piece of nonsense to something simply awesome, as The Swede will undoubtedly agree. Sticking with the Canada link, there’s a Canadian ballad dating from ca. 1839 called ‘Canadee-i-o’ which is on the Nic Jones’ album Penguin Eggs.”

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Nic Jones – Canadee-i-o

Adding to the list of Canadian based suggestions comes Rol with a not entirely unpredictable choice (I mean that in a nice way, of course):

“Leonard Cohen was also Canadian. Take your pick… most of his songs are scarily prescient right now.

Death Of A Ladies’ Man will do if you don’t want to choose yourself.”

I’d be here all day trying to decide if I did.

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Leonard Cohen – Death Of Ladies’ Man

Just in case you’re worried we’re about to move into (or remain in, depending on your thoughts on Mr Cohen) gloomy territory, we’ll move on to the next group now, which is songs which relate to the Creek in the Cripple Creek, and to get things moving on that front, here’s babylotti:

“The word ‘Creek’ inspires two songs from me, both ones I originally heard/taped off John Peel. The Fall, with Cruisers Creek probably my first or second memorable encounter with the band…”

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The Fall – Cruisers Creek

“… and another Peel favourite, Half Man Half Biscuit’s ‘I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)’ with it’s classic opening verse:

‘Me girlfriend looks like Peggy Mount, what am I supposed to do?

I’m up the creek and never mind the paddle boy, I haven’t even got a canoe”.

Genius.

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Half Man Half Biscuit – I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)

Pure class.

Oh, and just in case you’re interested, this is Peggy Mount:

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Which in no way should be considered a neat segue to Charity Chic and his first suggestion of the week:

“Husband and wife Marc Olsen and Victoria Williams appeared together as part of The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers. Prior to this and whilst still a Jayhawk, Olsen penned a song ‘Miss Williams’ Guitar’ for his beau.”

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The Jayhawks – Miss Williams’ Guitar

Over to Badger now, who, unselfish chap that he is, nominates a band that his buddy SWC loves (as does he, it has to be said, and, after they posted them over at their When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a month or so ago and I went out and snaffled me their back catalogue, so do I):

“Saddle Creek is the next town up the Nebraska river after Cripple Creek and Saddle Creek Records house the totally wonderful Hop Along whose ‘Painted Shut’ was the second best album released last year. So to celebrate that let’s have ‘Waitress’ by them.”

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Hop Along – Waitress

Here’s Rol again:

“Can I suggest Shit Creek by The Icicle Works…? Seems very appropriate this week.”

Doesn’t it just?

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The Icicle Works – Shit Creek

“And…Up On Cripple Creek is about a girl called Bessie, so I also suggest ‘You Stand Here’ by Dressy Bessy (which does sound very much like Inbetweener by Sleeper to me… linking back a few weeks on The Chain… which might get messy: what happens if we cross links?)”

You need to ask? It’s like when streams cross, Rol:

Dunno about you, but I’m definitely imagining that’s Trump Tower and that two certain non-politicians are stuck in a gold lift.

Anyway, you suggested a tune, didn’t you?

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Dressy Bessy – You Stand Here

PS – that reminds me more of Belly than anyone else. I think. Can’t quite put my finger on it, to be honest. Maybe The Breeders circa “Pod”. Either way, it gets a thumbs up from me.

Time for a big Chain Gang welcome now to first time contributor Lynchie, who writes:

“Am I being too stupid to suggest Buffy Sainte Marie playing mouthbow and singing “Cripple Creek” LIVE?”

Lynchie, no suggestion is too stupid for these pages, and yours is far from stupid. Plus, you were kind enough to post a link to the clip you were referring to in the Comments (I’ll not post it again here, but if you want it you can find it back on The Chain #28).

Instead, here’s the version you mention in glorious sound-only format:

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Buffy Sainte-Marie – Cripple Creek (Live)

Suggestions weren’t just restricted to Creek related, mind; a few nominated songs with a more watery flavour. Take Kay, for example:

“I have two which both link creek with river/water etc. A bit literal, but there you go….First of all the wonderful PJ Harvey – ‘Down by the Water'”

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PJ Harvey – Down by the Water

“…and secondly Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave – ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’. A really dark record for a really dark day.”

No prizes for guessing on which day Kay suggested those, eh readers?

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (ft. Kylie Minogue) – Where The Wild Roses Grow

About time I joined in the water sports, I think (Stop it…). Who fancies some a capella fun?

Lifted from the soundtrack of the truly wonderful Coen Brothers movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, here’s Alison Krauss:

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Alison Krauss – Down To The River To Pray

Ok, on then to the third group: The Band and it’s members.

But first, I love a good Factoid, and Alyson supplies a belter this week, even if she can’t quite remember the nuts and bolts of it:

“Discovered recently when I posted a video clip of One Of Us by ABBA that Agnetha got custody of the “Music from Big Pink” album by The Band, when she and Bjorn (or was it Benny) went their separate ways. Won’t take credit for spotting this – it was another chain ganger whom I won’t embarrass by naming – but that will be my suggestion for this week!”

So here for Alyson and The Swede (ooops!), is a bit of ABBA:

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ABBA – One of Us

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking a bit of ABBA. One of the many purchases I made from Britannia music back in the 1980s was their Greatest Hits Volume 2, which I still own, long after much of my own vinyl has been sold, stolen or donated to charity shops. In fact, “One of Us” is taken from their final studio album “The Visitors”, a vinyl copy of which I have very happy memories of, not so much for the record itself, but for it’s sleeve. I’ll cryptically say no more than that for now, but at least one person reading this will know what I’m referring to, and they’ll have just spat their coffee all over the place in surprise. I’ll explain some other time.

In the meantime, here’s The Swede. Look innocent everybody, like we don’t know his little secret.

Oh hi, Swede. Us? Talking about you? Noooo, course not.

We’re on to links to The Band, and band members of The Band. Any suggestions?

“Robbie Robertson of The Band mentored Jesse Winchester’s early career, even producing his first LP in 1970. I’ll choose a much later track by Jesse though, ‘Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding’ from 2009’s ‘Love Filling Station’. “

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Jesse Winchester – Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding

I’ve never heard that before. It is properly gorgeous. The Swede: thank you for bringing that into my life.

“There’s a YouTube clip of Jesse performing the song on Elvis Costello’s American TV show that I’d defy anyone to get through without serious lip-quivering” The Swede adds. He’s not wrong:

That voice has no right to be coming out of that face. Just incredible.

Until I heard that, had you mentioned the word “Winchester” to me my reference point would have been this:

I think this might actually be a decent plan to escape the world right now, as it goes.

Back at the start of October, I wrote a post about how “Labour of Love” by Hue and Cry always took me back to a certain bar that we used to frequent in Peterborough when I was at Sixth Form, the name of which I couldn’t recall. My old mate Richie got in touch with a list of bars it could’ve been, and he nailed it first time: Miss Pears. A terrible name for a bar, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m sure you’ll all sleep well tonight knowing that.

I mention this because the next song also reminds me of the same place; they had a TV which seemed to have the video for this eternally playing on a loop.

The Robster provides three suggestions “that don’t need much explaining”, and this was one of them, a double linker since there’s a water link in it too:

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Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River

I always thought Robbie Robertson was one of those made-up joke names, like Boaty McBoatface. Seems I was wrong.

The Robbie Roberston suggestions don’t stop there. Here’s The Beard:

“The Band’s Robbie Robertson has worked with Martin Scorsese on the soundtracks to several of his films. One such collaboration was Casino. Las Vegas, in particular The Strip, is renowned for it’s casinos. Slightly off The Strip is a shiny gold hotel emblazoned with the name of an arsehole. Despite said arsehole’s bigoted views and alleged improprieties he is on the cusp of taking over as the King of the Jungle. With hopes of a Sam Allardyce style rapid fall from grace in mind, it has to be Impeach The President by The Honey Drippers.”

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The Honey Drippers – Impeach The President

“Or if that’s too grim a link for something as joyous as The Chain, Love Is The Drug by Roxy Music….”

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Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug

“…or Devo’s cover of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, both of which are on the soundtrack to the aforementioned Casino”

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Devo – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

There was more than one person in The Band, by the way, as Charity Chic explains:

“Garth Hudson played with his organ in The Band [I said stop it….!] You can cross a creek via a ford. Therefore Hudson Ford with Burn Baby Burn please”

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Hudson Ford – Burn Baby Burn

The verse to that has a touch of “Yellow River” about it, doesn’t it? Wait a minute…river…creek…oh go on then. And as this week sees the 25th anniversary of their break-through album “Out of Time”, here’s R.E.M. doing a cover of the old Christie hit:

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R.E.M. – Yellow River

But undisputed king of suggestions to link to The Band this week is undoubtedly Rigid Digit:

“Lets do this literally: The Band can be alternatively spelt as The Banned, hence the 1970s punk cash-in “Little Girl” must be next up…”

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 The Banned – Little Girl

“…or: The Band => Banned => Banned Records. Or in this case, a record that was banned by it’s creator when he discovered what the title actually meant. Is Cliff Richard and “Honky Tonk Angel” waiting in the wings?”

Well, it is now:

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Cliff Richard – Honky Tonk Angel

Which must be the worst record of the week, right?

Wrong. For our Rigid friend has another suggestion:

“…or:  The Banned was the name of the made-up band on Eastenders. One of the group left and scored a massive hit with a piano-tinkly ballad. Could it be Nick Berry with ‘Every Loser Wins’..?”

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Nick Berry – Every Loser Wins

Ok so THAT has to be the worst record of the week, surely?

Nope. But Rigid, you are about to find out how close you came to guessing the song that I was thinking off. In fact, with SWC you jointly nudge even closer to it. I’ll let SWC explain:

“The Banned were the name of the pub band in Eastenders which featured Sharon and Kelvin on vocals. The British public took them to their hearts and sent their one and only single in to the higher parts of the top 20. Sadly I forget what it was called. But it is a contender for the worst record of the week.”

“Something Outta Nothing” blurts out Rigid, with scant regard for his public perception.

Oooh, you’re both so unbelievably close…!

The record I was thinking of, and undisputed Worst Record of the Week was “Something Outta Nothing” but when it got released as a single they didn’t release it under the moniker ‘The Banned’, they released it as…well, sounding like a song that Samantha Fox rejected for being “too shit”, they released it as this:

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Letitia Dean & Paul Medford – Something Outta Nothing

No, I don’t have any shame, since you ask.

Need some help stopping your ears bleeding? Here’s The Robster with another of his brief, self-explanatory songs, one of my favourite records of all time, by one of the most under-rated indie bands of all time:

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Felt – Ballad Of The Band

A little more The Band-related shenanigans now from The Great Gog:

“The Band also recorded as song called The Weight, so I immediately thought of a song title which is itself a weight – ‘4st 7lb’ from Manic Street Preachers.”

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Manic Street Preachers – 4st 7lb

“I did also think of ’78 Stone Wobble’ by Gomez” The Great Gog continues, “which could technically be referencing a weight, but may well be concerning itself with something else altogether”

You’ve got me scratching my head there. Am I missing something? What else could it refer to…?

No matter, it’s bloody great so it’s bloody in:

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Gomez – 78 Stone Wobble

Before we move on to the final grouping, which is songs which link to the word “Cripple” – a category I’m sure we’re all approaching with nothing short of nervous trepidation – here’s Walter:

“The B-side of the record is ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’. It became an anthem of America’s southern pride. That leads me to another song showing southern pride. So let me suggest Lynyrd Skynyrd with Sweet Home Alabama.”

This has actually featured before on The Chain – don’t let those streams cross!! – way back on the Chain #4. I’m allowing it’s inclusion this week because it wasn’t suggested by one of the Chain Gangers (at that point, there was only me, George and Charity Chic), it was the next link in The (Official) Chain, and because in those days I would ask for suggestions as to what the link was, as well as suggesting alternative links. So, as a testament to how this little corner of ours has grown and changed (for the better, I think), here you go:

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

No, no, I’m not crying, just got something in my eye, s’all….

We’ll ignore the fact that, unsurprisingly, Trump won 62% of the vote in Barmy ‘Bama.

Last week, I made a joke. I don’t know if you spotted it. I said that regular contributor Dirk “…has a different way of dealing the idea of linking records together. Whilst the rest of us ponder the staple tune and think of songs to link to it, Dirk seems to decide on what record he wants to hear then just make up any old stuff to get to it.”

Now Dirk took that in the spirit it was intended, although when I first read his suggestion this week, I wasn’t so sure:

“…if that…were even HALFWAY true, I’d by now have invented an interesting tale which leads to Intense Degree’s “He Was The Ukulele Player For Dr. Eugene’s Travelling Folk Show Band” just because it has “band” in the title …. and because I’d like to hear it again!”

Having just popped over to Dirk’s place I see that he has kindly posted the whole of the Colorblind James Experience’s second album, which I’ve never heard, and which I shall be returning to pillage and leave a nice comment shortly, so I figured I owed him a favour:

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Intense Degree – He Was The Ukulele Player For Doctor Eugene’s Travelling Folk Show Band

Not really my cup of tea that. In fact, the kindest way I can describe it is “mercifully short”. Still, each to their own and all that. S’not all about me, now is it?

Anyway, Dirk does continue to make an actual suggestion:

“…instead I took the complicated route and found something linked to “Cripple” (not many of you will do THAT, I’d have thought): The Crippled Pilgrims and ‘Black And White’: a mighty tune off their 1984 debut MiniAlbum … which I haven’t listened to for quite a while … admittedly, so …”

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But as for not many linking to “Cripple”, well, sure, not many, but some. Step forwards, The Robster with another of his suggestions that “don’t need much explaining”:

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Antony And The Johnsons – Cripple And The Starfish

Not just The Robster, either. Step forwards SWC:

“Eagulls released the imaginatively titled EP a few years back. The fourth track was called Cripple Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. But the best track on the episode was Moulting. And if that’s the correct link then I’ll run through Exeter tomorrow wearing just a feather boa and a pair of wellingtons.”

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29. Eagulls – Moulting

Regular Chain Gangers will know that when I insert the number of The Chain we’re at as part of the mp3 link, it can mean only one thing: that is the contributor has correctly guessed the next song in The (Official) Chain, has won some bonus points, and on this occasion gets an all expenses trip to Exeter!

Does anyone have any wellies SWC can borrow tomorrow?

Of course, on this occasion, I’m just winding you up. Of course that isn’t the next record. I don’t think it had even been released when The (Official) Chain was at this stage.

We’re nearly there though.

Just one more to go. And it wasn’t just The Robster and SWC who came up with a song linked to “Cripple”, yours truly did too. This is from the first album that I ever bought on CD, (purchasing it at the same time as The Housemartins ‘London 0 Hull 4’, in case you’re interested):

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John Lennon – Crippled Inside

Now I don’t know about you, but when I find out what the source record is each week – and I genuinely don’t look until I start writing the post – the first thing I do is go to my iTunes (other music and multi-media playing devices are available), type in some of the words from the song title, or from the album it features on, and see what I already have which might be of use. This week, it gave me that record, The Fall record that babylotti suggested, the Buffy Sainte Marie record that Lynchie suggested, and one other, which just so happens to be the real next link in The Chain. And you’re all going to wish you hadn’t shot your bolt with your links to Creeks, Cripples, and Water this week.

Here’s the link:

“…Neil Young wrote a song called ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’, from the ‘After the Goldrush’ album…”

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29. Neil Young – Cripple Creek Ferry

All that’s left for me to do this week is invite your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Cripple Creek Ferry” by Neil Young, via the Comments section below, along with your usual brief descriptions as to what links the two records together.

See you next week folks.

More soon.