Whilst I’ve been off, I’ve had time to put together a whole load of these mixes, some of which need a bit of tweaking, all of which need to be written up. But I think there’s enough to keep you entertained on a weekly basis for a couple of months or so.
And so, with no futher ado, let’s crack on, shall we? Here comes a little over an hour of mostly indie geetar-based tuneage, with the occasional 60s, 70s & 80s banger thrown in for good measure, complete with sleeve notes of varying quality, to kick off your bank holiday weekend (if you’re in the UK, that is).
So, as this is the first edition of the Music Club for a couple of months, I figured it would be nice to kick things off with a nice welcoming tune and what more could be more welcoming than a song with five welcomes in the title?
This reached it’s highest position in the UK Charts on this day back in 1990. Unfortunately, that position was a not-exactly-lofty #82, which means that the band’s name should be considered somewhat ironic, given that pretty much nothing happened for them. Perhaps if they didn’t stick random fuel types at the end of their song titles for no apparent reason they may have tasted more success. I don’t know, but what I do know is that this is an absolute belter.
2. The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
Another get-up-and-go rock’n’roll classic, lifted from the craggy faced rock gods’ 1981 Tattoo You album, and is, let’s be honest, probably one of their last really great records.
3. Ash – Jesus Says
Ash’s debut album, 1977, released in 1996, is so packed-full of glorious riffs and catchy choruses, the follow-up was always going to suffer by comparison and struggle to better it. And such was the case with 1998’s Nu-Clear Sounds, but it did include two riotous singles, this being the first of them. Well worth a revisit.
4. The Primitives – Everything Shining Bright
*Sighs* Oh, Tracy. This is from the 12″ of Thru The Flowers, the first record I ever bought by the Coventry band, and, apart from the numerous compilations released to cover the first phase of their career, didn’t appear on any of their original material albums. It’s a frenetic glam rollicky ride and no mistake.
5. Blur – On Your Own
No need for any explanation here, I think. This is the third of four singles lifted from Blur’s reinvention album, 1997’s inspirationally titled Blur.
6. Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Racists Playboys
For quite a while now, I’ve stated on these pages that on the rare occasion that I decided to post something by Morrissey, I would only do so if combined with at the very least a passing comment on his unpleasant shift to the political extreme right. I think I’ve achieved that here. The annoying thing is that despite my distate at the man now, I do still really like a couple of his singles, such as this one, which it seems (and hopefully) is the closest we’ll ever get to a reunion of The Smiths, featuring as it does all of them bar Johnny Marr, who knew better than to ally himself to the bequiffed goose-stepper again.
7. Julian Cope – Spacehopper
He’s off his nut, isn’t he?
8. Bob Mould – See A Little Light
Happy memories of this tune from the formerHüsker Dü man with the unattractive surname. Back in my days DJ’ing the indie night at college, I would drop this one early doors, as I would often do with records I didn’t think were all that well known yet. The idea was to see if they gained any sort of reaction, and if they did, bump them up the playlist next time. One night, I was approached by two blokes, David and Nick, each of whom I subsequently house-shared with over the next few years.
“We heard you played Bob Mould last week…?” one of them said.
I confirmed this to be the case.
“Are you playing it again this week?” the other one (probably) asked.
“Can do, but nobody danced to it last week, so….”
They took the hint, and danced to it when I dropped it a couple of tunes later. They were the only two who did, mind. And so it remained a staple of the early section of the night for at least another couple of weeks, until David and Nick didn’t turn up and the dancing total dropped back to zero again.
Ho hum. It’s still a great record though.
9. Ian McCulloch – Proud to Fall
At the end of the 1990/91 academic year, when I was coming to the end of my tenure as Social Secretary at the Students’ Union, we put on the End of Year ball, hiring in a marquee, roulette wheels (and loads of other activities I can’t remember now) to make it the biggest event we had done to date. The big question was: what musical act should we book? We narrowed it down to two options: Pop Will Eat Itself or Echo & the Bunnymen. Whilst I thought the Poppies would be much more entertaining, they were also much more expensive, and we also figured more people would know more of the Bunnymen’s tunes, so it was them that we plumped for.
Unfortunately, we had forgotten that front Bunnyman Ian McCulloch was at this point, former front Bunnyman having jumped ship – temporarily, it later transpired – a couple of years earlier. The current Bunnymen incarnation were promoting their first (and only) album which didn’t feature McCulloch, a thoroughly dull and forgettable affair, and on the night of their gig, as the rain lashed down outside, they steadfastly refused to play any crowd pleasers from the band’s back catalogue, presumably because none of them could sing them like McCulloch could.
McCulloch, meanwhile, had embarked on a solo career, which kicked off with this little pearl. A long-forgotten gem.
10. James – What For?
I’ll not bang on too much about this one, but will merely direct you to SWC’s marvellous No Badger Required blog, where James finished in a respectable fifth place in his recent rundown of Rocks Greatest J’s. (Not that it matters, of course, but I swear I had completed this mix before SWC had reached #5 in his countdown and included this song in the post. And I couldn’t be arsed with redoing the whole thing just to include a different James tune. Besides, What For is truly great and deserves to be listened to more than just once every 15 years or so.)
11. Propaganda – Duel
I love this tune, and find it hard to believe that it only got to #21 in the UK charts back in 1995. A travesty. That is all.
12. P.P. Arnold – The First Cut Is The Deepest
An oft-covered classic (see Stewart, Crow, et al) but nobody comes close to P.P.’s version.
13. Eels – Novocaine For The Soul
Breakthrough hit for the consistently eclectic and brilliant E. A band that nobody needs to be directed to a particular album as an entry point into their back catalogue: they’re all either really good or really great. Go on, dive in. The water’s lovely.
14. Alanis Morissette – Head Over Feet
1995’s Jagged Little Pill was a huge record. You know this already. You also know that one of the other singles from the same album inspired this stand-up routine which is so famous it’s impossible to hear the song without being reminded of it:
Head Over Feet did not inspire a stand-up routine, as far as I know. It is a pretty great song though, and sits nicely in my sitting-down-to-have-a-bit-of-a-breather-and-a-sing-a-long section.
15. Space – Me and You Versus The World
I was reminded of this beauty when watching the recent – and suprisingly good, considering which channel it aired on – series about the Britpop-era on Channel 5, which I can heartily recommend you give a go if the weather is typically Bank Holiday-ish this weekend. Except you can’t, as they seem to have already removed it from the My 5 streaming service. Ah well, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
16. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)
Another tune that needs to introduction, so isn’t going to get one, other than this: RIP Wee Willie Harris, Britain’s “wild man of rock ‘n’ roll”, who passed away earlier today.
After having stated numerous times over the past few weeks that I try not to make these mixes themed, saving those for the occasional airing over at JC’s place, a themed mix is exactly what tonight’s is, although it’s a very loose theme that you may not have even noticed had I not been stupid enough to mention it.
I was thinking the other day about how I often bang on about when I started DJ’ing when I was at college, taking over the fortnightly Indie Disco at the beginning of my second year, which was way back in 1989. And I thought it might be rather nice to do a playlist of the sort of things we used to play, until the Madchester scene exploded and changed 80% of our playlist (for the better; the night was dying on its arse until we were saved by the lads and lasses in hoodies and massive flares).
So that’s what tonight’s mix is: a load of tunes from around the time when I started, some from a little earlier, some I must admit, from a little later. Also, I’ve tried to avoid some of the big hitters – so no Smiths, Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen. But I’ve tried to recreate how an hour of our Indie nights generally sounded back way back when.
Also, in a change to normal, instead of just giving you a tracklisting, I’ve added some sleeve notes for you. Cos I’m nice like that. I might carry that on, we’ll see.
I’ve kicked off with these two as a tip of the hat to the guy I first started DJ’ing with, a lad off my course named Danny Sweeney. He would always try to squeeze these in because “nobody else plays them”. Danny was sensible enough to stop DJing after a year so that he could focus on his course as it entered it’s final year; I was less sensible, stood for election for the post of Social Secretary, DJ’d loads more, and ended up having to retake my final year, adjudged to have failed the course because, although I passed all the exams and coursework, I hadn’t turned up to enough lectures. Not that I’m still bitter about it or anything, thirty years later, you understand.
3. The Darling Buds – Shame on You
Because of the size of the venue (400 capacity), we would often get little-at-the-time bands, on their way up. The Darling Buds played one Friday night; a day or so later I was talking to two blokes who were absolutely astounded that we’d had a band on who they saw on Going Live! (or whatever the Saturday morning live show on the BBC was called at the time) the next day.
The Darling Buds were one of a clutch of indie bands fronted by blonde female singers – see also The Primitives and Transvision Vamp. They were also the first band I ever met; my mate Keith and I being permitted access to the dressing room after the gig, where the band (and lead chanteuse Andrea in particular) studiously ignored us for about fifteen minutes until we sloped off with our tails between our legs.
4. The Wonder Stuff – Unbearable
Because the Indie night was not exactly the hottest ticket in town, you tended to notice and recognise most people there. And so it was that Keith and I took pity on one lad, who was always on his own. We invited him to join us, which he did. Soon afterwards, we realised why he was always alone: he was exceptionally dull. But now he thought we were his friends, so whenever we arrived he homed in on us like the world’s most boring missile. Burned into my memory is the time this tune, with lead Stuffie Miles Hunt at his sneering best, got played; we all danced, but Keith, unkindly in my opinion, kept singing the chorus in the lad’s general direction at first, and right in his face later. Fortunately, he just thought Keith really liked the song.
5. The Fall – Mr Pharmacist
Some big-hitters I just can’t leave out, and having mentioned Miles Hunt’s sneering, it seemed only right to post something by the late great Mark E. Smith, who seemed to have his upper lip permanently set to curl.
6. Sandkings – All’s Well With The World
Remember Babylon Zoo? Once upon a time, they had a few seconds of their record Spaceman used in a jeans advert, resulting in it being catapulted to the top of the charts, as was the way of the world back then. Problem was, the few seconds used in the ad were by far the best thing about the record, which swiftly descended into one of the dullest turgid drones ever to grace the charts at all, let alone the coveted #1 position. Well, this is the band that Babylon Zoo’s Jas Mann was in before he briefly found fame, and this is loads better than Spaceman. Around the time, many bands were trying to sound like either The Smiths or R.E.M.; this falls into the latter category.
7. Milltown Brothers – Never Come Down Again
Speaking of bands trying to sound like R.E.M., that was an allegation often levelled at this lot. I can kinda see what they meant, although it’s not a comparison I would have made myself. This is ace though, in an of-its-time way.
8. The Family Cat – Steamroller
Contains a really great loudQUIETloud section which is so good they repeat the trick later on, stretching out the elastic of the QUIET bit for so long that when it eventually twangs and the loud crashes back in again, the joyous rush it brings still gets me every time all these years later. Play it loud.
9. The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh
Okay, okay, another from a big hitter, but this is one of the extra tracks from the Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm 12″, each of which is an absolute belter, detailing, as Wedding Present songs so often did, relationships on the cusp of breaking, or which have just gone over the edge. Gedge at his bitterest best.
10. Kingmaker – When Lucy’s Down
Because those few people who actually remember Kingmaker generally remember them for Ten Years Asleep, and not for this little beauty. Which is rather sad.
11. That Petrol Emotion – Hey Venus
Because many people think that the former Undertones only ever had one decent tune (Big Decision), and they’re wrong because this is pretty great, if a little poppier, too.
12. The Waltones – Bold
The Waltones should have been huge. But having tip-toed to the very verge of being popular, Madchester happened and suddenly their brand of jangly indie pop had fallen down the pecking order. Them’s the breaks.
13. James – How Was It For You?
The song which, along with Come Home, laid the foundation for their less-folky, more-stadium sound, before Sit Down was re-released for the umpteenth time and became the smasheroo we all know and love/hate (delete as applicable).
14. Inspiral Carpets – She Comes In The Fall
Still stands the test of time this one, in my book. Also in my book: the Inspirals were one the best singles bands of the late 80s/early 90s. Moo!
15. The Motorcycle Boy – Big Rock Candy Mountain
Just as C86 darlings The Shop Assistants had tickled the fancy of indie tweesters up and down the land, lead singer Alex jumped ship and formed The Motorcycle Boy. This is by far the best thing they ever did.
16. The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure
Oh, Harriet *sighs*.
17. World Of Twist – She’s A Rainbow
Long before The Verve, and around the same time as Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine felt the wrath of Jagger and Richards legal team, World of Twist released this rather wonderful cover of the Stones’ classic. They were sensible enough to dodge the lawsuits by remembering to credit the wrinkly wonders as songwriters though.
Had I not posted several semi-relevant tunes last night, and had I had more time, then tonight’s playlist would probably have been on a Bye Bye Boris theme.
But I did, I don’t and so you can breathe a sigh of relief.
And instead of me revisiting playlists of old, trying to find one to whittle down into one-hour segments, here’s a completely new one for you.
This week, we kick off with a nostalgic trip back to school days care of The Darkness, followed by a whole bunch of really rather great indie tunes, stopping off at The Stone Roses, Wet Leg, Sisters of Mercy, calling in on long-forgotten gems by The Whip, Danielle Dax, Pale Saints and Adorable, before reaching our final destination and a quite beautiful and rousing climax courtesy of Gene.
And, as the voice-over guy on adverts used to say when they couldn’t be bothered with listing everything: much, much more.
Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine, all mine, you hear me?
Before I start this, I must declare an interest: many years ago, back when I was Entertainments Officer at college, we booked and I met Jo Brand. This would have been at the end of the 1980s/start of the 1990s, long before she was the national treasure she is now. She was utterly lovely, and went out into a room full of rugby top wearing neanderthals and totally owned it.
Anyway, Jo has been in the spotlight this week. In case you missed it, I’ll summarise the important points.
Earlier this week, the BBC aired a pre-recorded comedy programme on Radio 4 called Heresy. Brand was a guest on it, and during the course of the show, Brand said this:
“Certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?“
Cue social media melt down.
Here’s Piers Morgan, who of course had to throw his twat hat into the ring:
And of course Nigel Farage had to have his say too:
Yes. Yes I can, Nigel. Except I don’t have to imagine it, for you said this:
Just in case you can’t listen to that, that’s Nigel Farage saying that he would “don khakis” and “pick up a rifle” to defend Brexit.
There’s a difference between the two courses voiced. Brand: permanently scarred; Farage: shot dead. You can decide which is the more final of the two.
What I find most astounding is that the same people who are now apoleptic with rage at Brand’s comments are the same people who only weeks ago were defending UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin’s rape tweets at Labour MP Jess Phillips as “just a joke”.
You see, context is everything, and Brand’s comments have been taken right out of it.
Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
Farage’s comments (above) were at a political gathering of like-minded souls. Let’s put aside for a moment Farage’s previous comments about the Brexit vote having been won “without a shot having been fired”. Similarly, both his comments were made after one of his supporters quite literally shot a Labour MP in the face.
But it is, of course, hard to incite people to do what has already happened.
There was – and trust me, I’ve looked – no meaningful criticism from the right after Farage’s comments.
Now let’s look at Brand’s comments. First up, she’s a comedian, she’s not a politician. Ergo: things she says are not (always) meant to be taken seriously.
Secondly, and this was not reported as far as I have managed to find, after she had said “… why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?” she went on to say “Obviously I’m not suggesting anyone actually does this.”
Thirdly, again, context is everything. Brand’s comments were made in the context of a comedy show. Farage’s were made in the context of a political meeting. You understand the difference, right?
And fourthly, and I think most importantly, Brand was appearing on a show called Heresy. In case you’ve never heard it – and you should, Victoria Coren-Mitchell is the host, and if you ever need a stamp of quailty, Property of VC-M branded on the rump is as good as it gets – the premise of the show is that panellists “commit heresy” by defending an unpleasant or unpopular point of view.
And that’s what Brand was doing. Appearing on a panel show and playing along in the spirit intended.
So what Farage and Morgan et al are saying – along with all the other people who have never heard the programme or the quote in question – is that Brand should be punished (and make no mistake, the police were involved before realising how stupid this is) for answering a question on a comedy panel show in the manner she was contractually required to.
Some background: since he retired, my Dad has not only learnt to play the ukelele, he’s joined a local troupe, who gather together to learn songs and occasionally perform them to an actual audience. Once, they played on the back of a flat-bed lorry as it drove around various towns in their area. Perhaps not the best way to treat pensioners.
“Of course I know who James are,” I replied, wanting to add: ‘I’ve loads of their records and I used to own a long-sleeved white top with the word ‘Sit’ on the front and ‘Down’ on the arse.’
Back in the day, simply everyone owned a James top. If you owned the Come Home one, which had the word ‘Come’ on the front, and ‘Home’ on the back, you would undoubtedly be regaled with gags about how you had ‘Come’ on your shirt.
“So you know Sit Down then?”
I’m a bit confused by this conversation, truth be told. I can count my father’s previous forays into popular culture on approximately one finger. And when I say ‘popular culture’, I of course mean ‘anything from 1960 onwards’.
As it turned out, someone in his ukelele group – all in their 70s, at least – had suggested it as a song which they might perform.
I found this quite astounding, especially as he had previously told me that a group effort to play Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecillia had been blocked by one band member on the grounds that “making love in the afternoon with Cecilia”, only to find that when the singer got up to wash his face and then went back to bed somebody else stole had stolen their place, was obscene.
All of the other menfolk had shrugged whilst thinking how nice it would be to a) have been making love in the afternoon (or at all), and b) been able to have a nice sit down whilst somebody else had a go.
I may have inaccurately paraphrased their counter argument, there.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that my father can now play this on his ukelele, a song which I used to regularly play when I DJ’d at college, always accompanied by an instruction to kick anyone who sat down on the dancefloor when I played it (as they often did, bloody students). I assume my Dad’s group don’t do the same.
This is the original release – so not the one which was a hit, that took a few goes, much like Cecilia did, it seems – which I bought at the time and stupidly leant to somebody I subsequently haven’t seen for about thirty years:
And so onwards, or rather, backwards, to 1988, or maybe 1989, and to a compilation I picked up on cassette in Cardiff’s legendary Spillers Records.
I wasn’t really in the habit of buying cassettes, so I must have really wanted this, and can only assume that a vinyl or CD copy wasn’t available in the shop on the day I visited.
Also, looking at the track listing, I can’t see anyone on there that I was especially bothered with at the time. Maybe I bought this at around the time that I was just getting into either James or Inspiral Carpets, I dunno.
I suspect that the cover art had more to do with my compulsion to purchase there and then, for in 1988, I was obsessed with all things Smiths-related, and stone the crows if that isn’t either Morrissey or someone trying very hard to look like him right there on the cover:
Often with impulse buys such as these, I would listen to them a couple of times, and invariably decide that there was only one or two songs on them that I was particularly bothered about. However, I think because this was on cassette and therefore not so easy to skip to the next track if I disliked the one that was playing, in the way that it was with the vinyl or CD formats popular at the time, then I listened to it a lot and consequently came to love well over half of the 14 songs on here.
Let’s have a listen to the ones I liked and still like, shall we?
First up, a quirky band with a wacky name which I imagine they hoped, when announced, would elicit a positive response:
According to Wikipedia, they were once managed by then-journalist and Frank Sidebottom band member, now-author and screenwriter Jon Ronson. According to Google, there’s a band in Glasgow currently playing cover versions at weddings that is also called The Man From Delmonte. Looking at the photos and their set-lists on their website, I’m fairly confident they are not the same band.
This is the version with original singer Stephen Holt on vocals. It’s nowhere near as good as when the band re-recorded it with new singer Tom Hingley a few months later. Still worth a listen, though.
I know nothing about this next lot, other than their name seems to be a place in Netherlands, and that they released an EP called Time Flies, also in 1988. This isn’t on it; it reminds me a little bit of The Bodines’ Therese:
On now to a band who I own a few records by, and who I love (one of their singles – not this one – is one of my favourite records ever, and will feature here soon), and who I think had they held it together, could have been a pretty great Indie band of the time. Sadly, by the time they released their debut album in 1989, they seemed to have lost their way a little, and they split in 1990. Guitarist Rob Collins went on to join The Charlatans.
Next, another track by an artist that I can find very little about on t’internet, although I think I may have located her Twitter. If it is her, she seems to be a clinical psychologist now. The pop world’s loss is the world of science and medicine’s gain. I say loss, because this is rather great:
And so to a band who a few years later would release a single also called Sometimes. You know who this lot are without any further explanation. As the compilation came out in 1988, this when they were still quite folksy. I had probably heard their marvellous Strip-mine album around the same time; I definitely owned a copy of The Smiths’ version of What’s The World. Either would have been sufficient to prompt me to buy this.
I’m not sure I knew about Bradford when I bought this. Maybe I did, as Morrissey was waxing lyrical about their gorgeous single Skin Storm around this time, and my record collection from this period of my life is littered with records I bought simply because he had mentioned them in an interview somewhere. (Raymonde, anyone….?)
Another band who fall into the “could have been massive” category now; their big mistake was signing to a major label. As soon as they did – and, heavens above, had a hit single, how very, very dare they! – their credibility and appeal seemed to vanish. Shame.
I’ve listened to the next song God knows how many times over the years, and always thought the voice reminded me of someone, but have never been able to quite put my finger on it. And then, when writing this and performing the most basic of internet searches, I found out that it’s actually John Bramwell, in pre- I Am Kloot days. I think I’ll spend the rest of my days face-palming myself about that, because now, as I listen to it again, it’s bloody obvious it’s him.
And finally, to a band that I have a little story about. At the end of the 1988/89 academic year, I joined the Ents Team at university – aww, who am I kidding, it was a Polytechnic when I was there, changing to a University literally days after I graduated – and began DJ’ing. Often on a Friday night, we would showcase an up-and-coming band, and there would be a DJ in between the acts and then again after they’d all finished. I’d been dropping this next song regularly on the Indie Night I did, and so when the band were booked for one of the Friday night shows, it made sense for me to do the DJ’ing honours. (Plus, I got paid the same as if I did a whole night. Which was nice.)
We had a general rule of thumb that whilst we would play records by bands booked to appear in the future, we wouldn’t play their records on the night, just in case their live performance drew unfavourable comparisons.
So after they’d finished, I made my way to the Ents Office, which doubled up on gig nights as the band’s dressing room. Occasionally, audience members would queue up outside the dressing room door (which was right next to the stage) after the gig and ask if they could come backstage and meet them. Even more occasionally, they agreed.
The only person waiting was my mate Keith, and, since I had an AAA pass (there really wasn’t that many areas that I needed access to, to be honest), I told him to come in. The band were there, towelling themselves down, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, generally winding down.
“Great gig, lads!” I exclaimed.
They looked up, semi-gratefully, nodding, grunting a “Cheers mate” response.
“Shame you didn’t play Janice is Gone,” Keith enthused.
They all stopped what they were doing, turned to stare at him, mouths agape.
“You know Janice is Gone??” one said in an apparent state of shock.
“Yeh,” Keith continued, “Jez’s is always playing it.”
They all looked at me.
“Hello!” I said cheerfully, giving them a wave. “I’m Jez and I play Janice is Gone a lot. Usually goes down pretty well, too.”
I’ve never seen a group of guys look so incredulously excited.
“We’re playing the Students Union in Cardiff tomorrow. Want to come? We’ll stick you on the guest list?”
Keith and I joined them in excited incredulity. Put on the guest list by the band! This was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to these two 19 year old music nerds.
And so the next night, we rocked up to the front of the queue for The Hanging Gardens in Cardiff University’s Students Union, a much bigger venue then the one at our Polytechnic, but where they did much the same thing on a Saturday night as we did on a Friday.
“Hi, we’re on the guest list,” I said to the guy on the door, who got his clipboard out, found our names, and ushered us in. Already this was going brilliantly.
The band came on, and true to their word, played the song, and dedicated it to Keith and I, “their oldest fans”.
Here it is. It really is a cracking little record. The titular Janice is none other than Janice Long, and the song is about when (if I remember correctly) she was forced to leave her Radio 1 show because she was pregnant and unmarried. Generally, mostly, when I’ve played this to people since, they’ve wondered why the band didn’t carry on making songs this good.
After the gig, Keith and I went backstage again, congratulated the band and thanked them for playing Janice… It had gone down well, so they were pretty chuffed too, and said they’d think about keeping it in the set for a while. They gave us some beer from the rider (which was way more impressive than the one we’d provided them with the night before). After a while we all ventured out into the venue again, where an Indie Disco was in full swing.
I say this like we were part of their gang by now. We felt like we were, but looking back at it now, I can clearly see that we were just following them round, very occasionally exchanging words.
And then it all kicked off. The keyboard player got himself into a conversation, and then a disagreement, and then an argument, and then a fight, with one of the bouncers. The next thing we knew, he, along with the rest of the band, were being escorted from the premises. One of the bouncers looked at Keith and I. “Are you with them?”
“Who? Us??” we replied, butter-wouldn’t-melt expressions magically appearing. “No mate, we’re just students. That’s the band you’ve just thrown out. We were just standing near them.”
He shrugged and walked off.
Many bands on the way up say they can’t get arrested. The Milltown Brothers managed to get themselves chucked out of their own gig.
For here we are, a week later, and The Chain is back! Back!! Back!!! (again) for another instalment.
Truth be told, I was totally blown away by the response I received to last week’s edition, so blown away that I almost went full on Sally Field. So y’know, cheers.
I’m also delighted that not only have a couple of old Chain Gang friends chipped in this week, but we also have three new members to welcome aboard.
Before we go any further though, some admin, and I need to add a new rule to the ten I posted last week, namely this:
11. The same artist can feature twice in the same week, but only if suggested by different people. In other words, if you suggest two songs by the same act, I’ll ask you to just pick one of them; if you don’t reply, I’ll pick for one for you.
Actually, this is an old rule that I forgot to include last week. One of you nearly came a cropper with this one, but just about managed to dodge the bullet. You’ll see what I mean.
Ok, so we have 49 new songs (count ’em!) and over three and a half hours worth of tunes to get through this week, and there’s some real treats, including a couple of acts I was surprised to find featuring in The Chain for the first time, some commercially unreleased live stuff, a couple of songs which have featured here before under different guises, a couple of real rarities (I think), a contender for Worst Record In The History of Everything Ever, and – and I mention this now to introduce some totally unneccessary tension and excitement into proceedings – one of you correctly guessed the next record in the Official Chain.
So let’s kick things off with a reminder of the last source song, that is the song that you were all providing suggestions to this week:
And where better to start than with a new member of The Chain Gang? Ladies and Gentleman, please rattle your manacles and give a warm welcome to GMFree:
“The most obvious songs that I thought of first were ‘God Only Knows’ by James…”
Now, in the same way that I think if you’re going to cover a song you should try and do something interesting with it, by the same token I think that if you’re going to write a song and give it the same name as universally loved classic, then it is undoubtedly going to be compared to said song, so you’d better make sure yours is good….
“‘God Only Knows’? So what does he know? Well, he knows it’s true, obviously … so I’ll go for Teenage Fanclub”
Now, strictly speaking, I should be disallowing this suggestion, because this song has featured on The Chain before, back in edition #32, to be precise. However, I’m going to allow it this week for three reasons: firstly, it ws me who suggested it last time; secondly, I posted a Peel Sessions version last time and this time I’m posting the original, and thirdly, because last time it featured I had changed one word in the title from “God” to “Gourd” so that it linked to the source record (XTC’s “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”, in case you’re interested).
We’re into not commercially released stuff with that one, as far as I know. Any chance to feature Beck, and moreover Union Chapel, my favourite venue in London, will be gratefully seized.
Next up, it’s over to The Beard, who provides one of his usual interesting links:
“God Only Knows is featured in the film Boogie Nights. The film centres around the supremely endowed Dirk Diggler, played by Mark Wahlberg. He also starred in ‘Four Brothers’ which is pretty much a remake of the John Wayne driven western ‘The Sons Of Katie Elder’. John Wayne? Motherfuck him as said Public Enemy on Fight The Power.”
Speaking of John Wayne, he also starred in the original release of ‘True Grit’ along with the next artist. Over to you, Alyson (of What’s It All About?):
“In light of [last] Tuesday’s sad news of the death of Glen Campbell, and the fact he stood in for Brian Wilson in 1964 as a Beach Boy, I am reminded of his song ‘Galveston’ which always makes me think of a beach because of the following lines:
‘I still hear your sea waves crashing While I watch the cannons flashing I clean my gun And dream of Galveston.’
I know we’ll all have heard it a lot over the last couple of days but I never tire of these songs of his.”
To be fair, Galveston is one of a clutch of Campbell’s records that I don’t think many of us will get tired of hearing:
And so we seem to have made the seamless move from songs which reference ‘God Only Knows’, to songs which link to members, full or part time, of The Beach Boys. So what next?
George has the answer:
“Can I propose a third song that is really, really shit?” he asks.
Yes, I know you haven’t heard his first two suggestions yet. I choose the order the songs feature in, and I want to post his third (really, really shit) suggestion first.
As I pointed out to George in the Comments to last week’s edition, he doesn’t normally ask permission.
“It’s by Wilson Phillips…….one of whom is a relation of a Beach Boy…….and the song is ‘Hold On’. But feel free to disqualify it because it is simply too dreadful.”
George is fully aware that a record being dreadful, or shit, or shittily dreadful, is not enough to preclude it from The Chain. For here, we embrace the dreadfully shit (by which I categorically do not mean Donald J Trump, who we try to keep at arms length at the very least).
And besides, I’ve listened to this – and all of the suggestions – a lot over the last week, and I’ve grown to quite like this:
“God Only Knows”, of course, features on The Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds”, so how about a couple of suggestions which link to that? Step forwards The Great Gog, who I see has now got as far as starting his own blog, but hasn’t yet got round to writing anything on it just yet. He’s probably got far more important things to be getting on with, like suggesting this kind of thing:
“I’ll go with the fact that ‘God Only Knows’ features on the album Pet Sounds. This album also features a track called ‘Caroline, No’. Whenever I spot this on the album, I always think of the similarly titled Talk Talk track, ‘Does Caroline Know?’ – not surprising really as I owned the ‘It’s My Life’ album some time before I acquired Pet Sounds.”
‘Pet Sounds’ is one of those albums, I think – or at least it is to me – that I knew what a great album it is long before I actually got round to listening to it, let alone owning a copy. I don’t think I actually heard ‘Pet Sounds’ until I was in my late twenties, but I remember in my early twenties having a very long discussion in the pub one night with one of my friend’s younger brother’s friends about how amazing it is, without him realising I’d never heard it. Hold the front page: Jez is a complete bullshitter shocker!
“So many gods to choose from… luckily I don’t own anything by Hermes House Band, so you’re spared that. Instead, let’s go for the god to whom I am most frequently compared (admittedly in the form “you’re no…”) and some proper old-school house: ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis.”
Shame about the Hermes House Band; I’ve got loads of gags about the Hermes parcel delivery service all lined up and ready to go.
Who else haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, The Robster from Is This The Life?, I wonder what he’s got to offer?
“If we’re going down the God route though, and with God supposedly living in Heaven or some such mythical place, I offer Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the title track of their seminal second album ‘Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…’.”
I’ll tell you who else hasn’t chipped in yet: Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, that’s who:
“Sorry to disappoint you but there is noGod,” he blasphemes, “so…”
Hold up, what did you just say?
“Sorry to disappoint you but there is noGod…”
Pray, do continue.
‘No Gods (and Precious Few Heroes)’ by Dick Gaughan, please. JC recently posted a goose-bump inducing live version which is the one to feature”
And it’s JC’s legendary place that I visited to find the specific version CC was after, so it would be rude of me not to attribute credit where credit’s due and provide a link to his site The (New) Vinyl Villain (although if you visit me here, then I’d be really surprised if you didn’t already visit JC).
Although, admittedly, it’s not the best quality recording, and you kind of didn’t really suggest that one anyway, so for one time only I’m going to allow you to suggest a different song by the same artist:
And we’ll stay with GMFree for a moment longer, if we may:
“I had a habit on the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything series to mention the great Stephen Jones almost every time, here are two from him…”
Wait a minute, what did I just say about ‘for one time only’…?
But this is the bullet-dodging suggestion I mentioned earlier, for the first of these two suggestions is by Stephen Jones recording under the name TrUcKeR and the other one…erm…isn’t (that one will be along in a bit, if you care to hang around long enough):
Is it okay if I like the sleeve of that more than I like the actual track….?
Now when I posted the Public Enemy track earlier, I deliberately avoided commenting on how sad it is that a record released in 1989 about black oppression felt as relevant today as it did back then. And that’s because I knew that one of you was going to make precisely that point about a record released a lot earlier than that. So, abramson60, the stage is yours:
“I’ve been listening to a lot of Nina Simone of late so taking the God road ‘Mississippi Goddam’, a song that is sadly still relevant today when we see what happened in Charlottesville [at the weekend] and it was only last week the UK police released the appalling hate crime figures.”
“…the original version…actually prefer the Kiss version, but they don’t sing the verse about Cliff. Dunno why.”
I would imagine it’s because most of Kiss’ fanbase would have no idea who Cliff is, the heathens.
Anyway, I agree with you about preferring the Kiss version, but I do really like the Argent version too, although every time I’ve heard it my little ears have pricked up as I thought something by Focus had come up on shuffle for me.
We’ll come back to Rol’s second suggestion in a bit.
That’s all the God suggestions done. Next we have a song about Jesus, but I think we need some sort of bridging song, just to reinforce the link here. This’ll do the trick:
For the uninitiated, Mr Rossiter was the lead singer of Gene (who I adore) and I cannot recommend the album that track comes from (‘The Defenestration of Saint Martin’, in case you can’t make it out from the image above) highly enough. An over-looked gem, in my opinion. Seek, and ye shall find.
Which leads us on to God’s greatest adversary, and we’re heading back to GMFree’s seemingly never-ending list of suggestions, which is for this:
Now GMFree mentioned the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a little earlier, and regular visitors to these shores will know that the writers of that now deceased blog, SWC and Badger, often contributed here. So I was delighted when SWC got in touch to make some suggestions again this week, although the first one he doesn’t really suggest, more wonders out loud about it, which he knows full well is too much for me to resist:
“I need to decide whether to go down the beach route the boy route or the God route. I thinking if ‘God Only Knows’ then perhaps ‘Better the Devil You Know’ but I may change my mind.”
Too late! And count yourself lucky I picked this one and not the song of the same name by professional Scouser Sonia:
Now many of you will recognise KC from her posts on SWC and Badger’s site; she was, if I recall correctly, a relative newcomer to writing and her posts were really rather excellent, so it’s a shame she no longer has a platform to show off her talents. So KC: if you want to continue to write, and haven’t had any other offers to do so elsewhere, drop me an email, you’d be more than welcome to contribute here. Just until the boys get bored and resurrect WYCRA, of course.
God…Lord…Jesus…Lucifer…all suggestions of Biblical proportions. Which leads me back to Rol for his second suggestion, which is this “…because it’s ace.” Have you and Martin been copying each other’s superlatives? You have, haven’t you? You’ve both let me down, you’ve let the class down, but most all you’ve let yourselves down.
Good job both of your ace suggestions really are ace:
And as you can see, that features on an album called ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ which makes that a Double-Linker. Points!
So, having exhausted those suggestions too, let’s have a look at some Boys. And one of you got very excited at the prospect. Hello Kay, who shortly after posting her suggestions, sent me a text to say she was worried it made her sound like, and I quote “a right creepy perv”.
See what you think, readers:
“I’m going for the theme boys – so many to choose from. Maybe….”
Nothing pervy about a woman of a certain age liking her boys wild and bad. And from the 1980s.
“…but I suppose I should go with the first song I thought of which linked to the Beach Boys and that’s…”
Brace yourself everybody. It’s Worst Record of the Week time, and if this isn’t one of the Worst Records in the History of Everything Ever, then I’d like to know what is. No scrub that, I really wouldn’t.
In case you’re interested, that’s the other song which has featured on The Chain before, but then it was performed by Ronnie Spector and came from the very same EP as the one BabyLotti suggested earlier.
Let’s have GMFree’s last suggestion, the other one by Stephen Jones, which you’ll recall I’m allowing because he released it under his Baby Bird moniker, as opposed to the TrUcKeR of the earlier suggestion:
Which, cheese or not, is also ace. And it gives me the chance to post this, my final suggestion of the week. And it may seem an odd one to go to, but some of you will have spotted the reason for the link when listening to that last tune:
Seriously, think of how many albums the Ramones have released, and how many songs of about two minutes that means they’ve recorded. This is the 41st edition of The Chain. How did we get this far without them cropping up?
Which leads me to the final suggestion of the week. Which just so happens to be next song in the Official Chain.
Here’s their link:
“From the Boys on the Beach to…”
And here’s ours, as penned by KC in this Sunshine Strand:
“If Badger was here he would agree that the greatest song to feature beaches either in the band title or the song title is…”
Sometimes, you have to think not so much about what is said, than what is not said.
Last week, when Donald Trump, President of the country responsible for the production of the second highest amount of greenhouses gases in the world, announced he would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement – joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only attendees of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change not to sign it – the remaining signatories released statements condemning or expressing disappointment at the decision.
But one leader was notable by her absence from joining the chorus of disapproval. You guessed it: that strong and stable, “bloody difficult woman” Theresa May.
Of course, that’s not the only Trump-related subject she’s been notably quiet about, for, sadly, another opportunity to show some strength and leadership by speaking out against him very came very swiftly afterwards. For as the world queued up to not only show support for the UK in the wake of the third terrorist attack on our shores this year, but also to denounce Trump’s baseless criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, where was our Theresa?
Probably off thinking really hard about the Brexit negotiations again, I suppose.
I find it incredible to think that the Conservatives have run their election campaign focusing on the strength, stability and leadership qualities, hoping that by repeating sound-bite of the year “strong and stable” enough we’d eventually believe it. A bit like Kenny Craig, if you like.
“Kenny who?” I hear you ask? Kenny Craig. You know Kenny Craig, you just probably don’t know that’s his name.
This is Kenny Craig:
In the last few days, the issue of national security and policing levels has, unsurprisingly given result events, moved centre stage in the election campaign. After the Manchester bombing, a friend of mine, a police officer in London, posted this on Facebook (since I’m not sure whether or not he’s supposed to make political comments, I’ve edited it to remove his name):
It was a sentiment echoed on Sunday evening by Jeremy Corbyn:
“You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts. Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’”
That is a reference to a speech that May gave back in in 2015, when she was still the Home Secretary. I’ll hand over to James O’Brien of LBC to explain further:
May, of course, denies there have been cuts: “Since 2015…we have not cut the police but protected their budget….we have increased the number of armed police officers, improved co-operation between the police and specialist military units, and provided funding for an additional 1,900 officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.”
Former senior Metropolitan police officer Peter Kirkham begs to differ. In an interview with Sky News at the weekend, he said: “The police service is in crisis as a result of the cuts…We hear talk of extra police officers on the street. They’re not extra, they’re officers that have had their rare leave days cancelled, they’ve had their 12-hour shifts that are now done routinely extended into 16 hours.”
So that protected budget, those extra officers, are actually officers who are being forced to work longer shifts, and have less days off. They must be knackered. Which makes their eight-minute reaction time on Saturday night all the more amazing.
“Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, don’t look around the eyes, look into my eyes…”
But, other than bullshitting us about the cuts to our police services which she has overseen since she became Home Secretary and then Prime Minister, she has a plan to combat the rise in extremist terrorism, right? Sure she does. Here you go:
“While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country…We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”
Now, I’m not saying that’s not important, that she doesn’t have the semblance of a point there. But let’s counter-balance that with the report into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups commissioned by David Cameron when he was Prime Minister. The report was to be shown to Cameron and May, then Home Secretary. The report is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis.
Well, that’s brilliant, isn’t it? We just have a look at that report, see what it says about the funding, take action against those funding the terrorists, and we’re on the way to sorting this out, right?
Oh, except there’s just one thing. The Home Office have announced that the report won’t necessarily be published, because the contents may be “very sensitive”.
What could be sensitive about that?
On Monday, Lib Dem leader shed a little light on this for us when he wrote an article saying that the report should be published and that it: “…should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those such as Saudi Arabia that the government claims are our allies.”
Huh? “Embarassing conversations?” “Our allies?” What can he mean?
Oh wait a minute….
That was taken when May popped over to Saudi Arabia (in a rare moment when she wasn’t thinking about the Brexit negotiations, of course) to discuss our lucrative arms deals to the Saudis. At around that time, the Saudis were being roundly criticised by all and sundry as reports emerged of their bombs hitting schools, hospitals and wedding parties as it intervenes in the war in Yemen. And who sold them the bombs that killed the innocent civilians in those schools, hospitals and wedding parties? Yup, the good old UK. Fair makes your heart swell with pride, doesn’t it?
I mean, even America has stopped the supply of precision guided munitions to Saudi Arabia on the back of those reports. But us? Nah, we’ll carry on regardless, thanks.
So May happily sides with a nation that possibly gives financial and logistical support to ISIS, suppresses a report into just that, whilst telling us that we need to tackle extremism and denying that she has been responsible for the cuts in police numbers in the UK which undoubtedly leave us exposed.
And she refuses to condemn the words and actions of Donald J. Trump.
That’s two truly special relationships we have, right there.
So, before you pop off to vote tomorrow, you’ll have lots of questions to ask yourself. Make sure that one of them is this: who do you think really has the safety of the country at heart? Is it the party that has pledged to recruit an additional 10,000 police officers (even if they can’t remember how much it’s going to cost), or the party that has axed the police numbers over the past seven years whilst cutting arms deals with countries who are, in all probability, providing resources to those very people who seek to destroy our way of life?
All being well, I’ll be back later tonight with an overview of what the main parties are offering. I’m sure it will be a real laugh a minute.
I was watching “Broadchurch” the other week, and there was a scene, a flashback to a party, that caused my ears to prick up when I heard the song that was being played.
It was “Laid” by James, which, given the lyrics of that song, and the fact that the plot of the TV show is the investigation into a serious sexual assault, struck me as being a tad on the inappropriate side.
It occurred to me that “Laid” has become very much the go-to record for DJ’s wishing to play a song by James, but it hasn’t always been thus.
Prior to the success of “Laid”, you could bet your bottom dollar that “Sit Down” would be the preferred choice. Some of you may not be old enough to remember (who am I kidding?), but when “Sit Down” got played out, back when it made its way to No. 2 in the UK charts back in 1991, people – and by people, I mean students – would literally sit down on the dance floor. Which isn’t quite the reaction a DJ is hoping for, if I’m honest.
This used to happen every time I played “Sit Down” when I was DJ’ing at Uni; at first I wondered if it was some kind of protest against me playing it. Nope. Turns out that they thought they were being cool.
Well, I couldn’t be having that, not on my watch. So I brought this annoying trend to an abrupt halt, by playing it, and then putting up a message on the screens around the room, proclaiming “If anyone sits on the dance floor to this, you have my permission to kick them.”
The other way to avoid such misguided attempts to look cool, of course, was to simply play a different record by James; the “Gold Mother” album, whilst marking the band’s first steps away from their more folky original sound, was massive at the time, and offered a couple of alternative tunes which guaranteed the dancefloor would be filled by people of a vertical persuasion: the wonderful “Come Home” (the Flood mix, of course) and today’s choice: