Sunday Morning Coming Down (That Summer Feeling #19)

If you want a happy, summery, slightly cheesy, Country record, there’s really only one person to turn to:

john-denver-id-rather-be-a-cowboy-ladys-chain-rca

John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulders

Don’t forget the after sun.

More soon.

Advertisements

Friday Night Music Club

Hello!

I’ve been struggling all week to come up with anything to play this week. And then, tonight, Friday, a day later than I usually start writing these posts, on my way home from work I found myself¬†thinking about how the way that I get to hear about new music has changed so much.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much reliant on my blogging chums to flag new stuff to me; bar Jools Holland’s “Later…” there’s next to no music television programmes on in the UK these days (Friday night BBC4 documentaries excepted); or occasionally a friend will text, tweet¬†or email me¬†to ask if I’ve heard of someone or other, or to see if I want to go see someone I’ve never heard of live (the answer’s generally yes, as long as a) I’m not skint; b)¬†I can track down at least one song that I like by the suggested act, and c)¬†whether or not I value the opinion of the person asking or not).

When I was a kid, new music did not appear on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. Songs that were already hits appeared on Top of the Pops. And I had no idea what the Old Grey Whistle Test was, and would probably would have avoided it even if I did.

No, when I was growing up the only way I heard anything new was via the radio.

And that gave me an idea for tonight’s post. Four words to strike fear into the heart of any of you who endured my recent run of TV show titled posts. To misquote Martin Luther King: “I have a theme..”

Radio.

So I got home, cranked the laptop up, opened iTunes and typed “Radio” into the search window.

427 songs were suggested.

Jesus, this thread is going to finish me off, I thought.

But fear not: by the time I’d eliminated all the songs I have by TV on the Radio, or by Radiohead, or were on a¬†rather fine Radio Soulwax mix I downloaded recently,¬†or any that were on the list because they were the Radio Edit of a single, I was down to a much more¬†palatable amount.

So, let’s crack on, shall we?

And what better place to start than with this stone cold classic:

ClassicTracks_05-1109

273. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe (Original Hib Tone Version)

I’ve had a life-long love affair with R.E.M. Well, not quite life-long. I wish I could say I bought this when it first came out, but no. I first heard it on the third¬†R.E.M. album I ever bought, a Best of (regular readers will perhaps be surprised to learn it wasn’t the first record I ever bought by the band) called “Eponymous”.

Radio Free Europe¬†first came out in 1981, the band’s first¬†single, later¬†resurfacing as the opening track on their debut album “Murmur” two years later. I didn’t buy anything by the band until 1987’s “Document”, four years and five albums later, but I’d still like to think I was a little ahead of the majority of the pack here in the UK, where most were unaware of them until 1988’s “Green” album, interest growing somewhat by the time 1991’s “Out of Time” came out, and hitting absolute peak with 1992’s flawless “Automatic For The People”.

In the summer of 1989, I somehow found myself¬†at quite a posh garden party, full of young darlings, public school types, who had been quite astonished that I didn’t know I was supposed to kiss the proffered hand of a young lady I was introduced to. Yes, THAT posh. (I shook it, an act which was greeted by quite the round of disbelieving guffaws.)

Anyway, feeling ever so-slightly out of place, I proceeded to get phenomenally pissed, and wandered into a barn where a DJ was trying had to tempt the fops onto the dancefloor. He played R.E.M.’s “Orange Crush” from their Green album, which pleased me (not enough to dance, mind), that was until the DJ took to the microphone and said: “That was R.E.M. a new, up and coming band from the U.S.of A.”

I couldn’t take it, marched over and started to berate him about how they were neither new nor up and coming, how they’d been around for years,¬†how that track was from their sixth album and how that was the sort of thing he¬†really should know¬†if he was going to make it in the cut-throat world of¬†DJ’ing, quietly omitting to mention¬†that I’d only been a fan since the album before.

Musical snobbery, eh? Never gets you anywhere. Oh, what do you philistines know, anyway?

Moving on to 1993, and another of my favourite bands:

teenage-fanclub-radio-creation

274. Teenage Fanclub – Radio

I don’t have much to say about this, apart from it being the lead single from their “Thirteen” album, that it’s a quite¬†magnificent single from a quite magnificent album, which, for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever really understand, saw the band completely fail to capitalise on their break-through album “Bandwagonesque”. If you don’t own them, kids, go get ’em. Or, if you hang around here long enough, I’ll probably end up posting every song from them both sooner or later.

Moving on to another artist whose work I’ve admired for a great many years:

Radio Radio Front

275. Elvis Costello – Radio, Radio

This is from 1978, when Mr McManus was at his snarling best, so much so that following an appearance on US show Saturday Night Live in 1977, he found himself banned from appearing again.

Here’s the story: The Sex Pistols were booked to appear on the show, but for one reason or another – reportedly, a lack of visas – they couldn’t make it and Elvis and his band The Attractions were roped in. His record company wanted them to perform their current UK¬†single “Less Than Zero”¬†– which was about Oswald Moseley, leader of the fascist movement in the UK – but Costello was less keen, thinking the song wasn’t exactly going to resonate with an American¬†audience.

So Costello took the stage, started to play “Less Than Zero” before calling proceedings to a halt a few bars in, announcing “I‚Äôm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there‚Äôs no reason to do this song here” before launching into “Radio Radio” instead.

Going so far off message was not appreciated by the powers that be; he wasn’t invited back until 1989. He did, later, however reference it on the 25th Anniversary Show, when, as Beastie Boys were just getting going on “Sabotage”, this happened:

Wow.

Where do you go to top that? Well, you can’t, but I know someone who’ll give it a bloody good go:

wonderstuff_radioassk_101b

276. The Wonder Stuff – Radio Ass Kiss

Ironically, this track, written by popular rhyming slang Miles Hunt, was only ever released as a single in the US, and not here in the¬†UK, where it remained just another track from their second, not-quite-as-good-as-their-first¬†album “Hup!”. Quite how they got away with lines like “Bugger the plugger” is beyond me. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised:¬†many years ago I saw¬†Phil Collins being interviewed after he had appeared in US hit TV show “Miami Vice”. Collins related how when he attended the script run through, he’d found that his character repeatedly used the phrase “wanker”, and Collins asked¬†the producers if they knew what it meant.

“Sure,” came the response, “it’s¬†English slang for¬†‘idiot’, right?”

Fortuitously, there was nobody better qualified than Collins to enlighten them as to the true meaning.

One of the other acts who were approached to appear on Saturday Night Live on that night Costello so infuriated the TV bosses, were this next lot. They declined the invitation, giving this as their explanation: “We don‚Äôt substitute for anybody.” Bonus cool points.

ramones-do-you-remember-rock-n-roll-radio

277. Ramones – Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?

Well, yes, Joey, Johnny, Tommy, Dee Dee, I do, which is why I’m writing this post.

You don’t need me to tell you about the Ramones, now do you? Thought not.

One person whose music is perhaps as far away from the Ramones and Rock’n’Roll Radio as can be is the next chap:

lp-john-denver-windsong-7981-MLB5308279995_102013-F

278. John Denver – Late Nite Radio

Denver is probably best known over here for a) Annie’s Song, b) looking like the Milky Bar Kid, c) his love of the Rocky Mountains, and d) his love of flying. Sadly,¬†he failed to survive the occasion when he inadvertently combined those last two by crashing his plane into one of them.

Time for a musical interlude. Not that I’m saying what you’ve had so far wasn’t musical, just…this sounds like a musical interlude. And that’s a good thing. Particularly when it’s provided by a band who most people only know for one song, and that a remixed version of it, and even more so when to the best of my knowledge, this sounds like nothing else they’ve ever done:

MI0003829011

279. Cornershop – Kalluri’s Radio (Version)

And we’re back in the room.

Next up, a song which first came to my attention via a compilation¬†album called “The Trip: Created¬†by Saint Etienne”. It’s crammed full of Northern Soul, down-tempo numbers, lost and obscure nuggets from the 60s and 70s; if you’ve never heard it then I urge you to track down a copy.

I say it’s created by Saint Etienne, it’s more likely to just be Etienne stalwart and fountain of all pop knowledge¬†Bob Stanley that compiled it.¬†Bob once was kind enough to retweet a link to these pages once, so I reckon I owe him a name-check.

In the real world, knowing that a member of Saint Etienne had read one of my posts would earn me extra bonus points; alas it was predominantly about Bucks Fizz with a healthy portion of Shakin’ Stevens, so I reckon I’m probably in cool point deficit now. Ho hum.

But I digress. This is Douglas Dillard, banjo player (banjoist? banjoer?) and founder member of bluegrass outfit The Dillards, and Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark, singer, songwriter,¬†guitarist¬† and founder member of The Byrds.

Together, they came together under the inspired name of:

doug-dillard-and-gene-clark-the-radio-song-am

280. Doug Dillard & Gene Clark – The Radio Song

Two to go now, and it’s time for some 2 Tone ska. I don’t feature nearly enough of this kind of stuff on¬†these pages, which some of you poor misguided fools may consider a blessing, so here’s an absolute belter to rectify that:

Onmyradio

281. The Selecter – On My Radio

And so to the last one for tonight, and any post about songs with the word Radio in the title, inspired by my musings on how I rarely listen to the radio these days (6music at the weekends aside, and particularly former Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan’s show of a Saturday morning, which is simply unmissable), would not be complete without this polished gem (it features and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it was never going to be anything but polished, now was it?):

The-Buggles-Video-Killed

282. The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star

What’s extraordinary about that record is that although it’s written from¬†a future perspective, it was actually first released in 1977 (by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club), before music videos were anywhere near the peak they would become. MTV wouldn’t even be launched for another four years, yet all that the song prophesizes –¬†how polish, image, self-promotion,¬†glamour and glitz would become the prevalent (X) factor, as opposed to, y’know, how good you are and what you sound like – has pretty much come true.

Which is a fairly bleak way to wrap things up, but there you go.

More soon.

How Not to Do A Cover Version

One day, after I finally finished college, I bumped into the Entertainments Manager that I worked with when I was Social Secretary. He¬†was having a bit of a problem finding a DJ to play on one of the nights that I used to do:¬† a retro-80s night that me and my mate Darran used to do every other Thursday night, which we’d started as far back as 1990 (we knew that nostalgia was going to be a winner).

For one reason or another, one of the usual DJs wasn’t able to do the night one week, and nobody seemed willing to step up to the plate. The Ents Manager thought that bumping into me was a sign, and so he asked me if I’d be willing to step in for the night.

We’d had quite a fractious relationship when we worked together, me and this chap, (more of that another time) and so¬†I was really quite tempted to tell him to do one. But then, after consulting my “Big Book of Cliches”, I figured that a lot of water had passed under the bridge, that time was a great healer, and that I’d be the bigger man if I accepted his outstretched hand and helped him out. So I agreed.

Before we go any further, and although it’s of absolutely no relevance here, let me explain why I refer to it as “college” whereas most people would call it “going to Uni”.

It’s because I didn’t go to a University.

But the type of educational establishment that I attended to get my degree in “Bugger All Use” Studies no longer exists, so it’s easier to refer to it by a generic “college” than to explain every time I want to mention it.

See, I finished my ‘A’ Levels in 1988, when Polytechnics still existed. For the uninitiated, these were basically scummier versions of Universities; they swept up the likes of me who had kind of done okay in their A Levels, but nothing spectacular, and who weren’t ready to go and get a job yet, but who weren’t considered bright enough to be bothering Universities.

In 1992, the year I graduated, educational system¬†reforms kicked in, which led to all of the Polytechnics being permitted to attain University status, which of course they all did, changing their name and rebranding like nobody’s business. My Degree Certificate, if I had the faintest idea where it was, was issued by “The Polytechnic of Wales”, which these days is “University of Glamorgan”, which¬†seems to be¬†part of, or maybe even the¬†same thing¬†as¬†the “University of South Wales”.¬†¬†The fact I can’t¬†work that out explains why I ended up at a Polytechnic. (When writing this, I’ve just visited their website, where there’s an aerial tour of the place – fuck me, they’ve spent some cash on it since I left!!)

Anyway, this Thursday night I rocked up at the Student’s Union club (which was named “Shafts” in some sort of deference to the mining community that surrounded it) and took my place in the DJ booth, where I met my co-DJ for the night, whose name, I think, was Pete. For the purposes of narrative, that was definitely his name.

Pete was a mad Manchester United fan. I don’t mean he was clinically insane, I mean mad as in avid, keen, staunch. It transpired that he wasn’t particularly happy to be DJing that night either, as it was the anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster which had taken the lives of so many of the Busby Babes back in 1958.

Despite this, Pete was fairly buoyant. He told me that he had just got a deal to release an album of Man Utd related songs and chants which he claimed to have had a part in creating.

He was particularly proud of one of these , his chest puffing out with pride as he explained it to me. I had to disguise my horror. To my mind, he had butchered a song of which I was not overly fond, but still….

Here’s the original:

john-denver-with-fat-city-take-me-home-country-roads-rca-2

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

And here¬†the¬†“Pete” version.¬†It is so awful, I am not prepared to post an mp3 of it (also, having trawled the internet for ages, I can find nobody who officially wants to take responsibility for either the creating or the recording of this horror):

Just like the line¬†“I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” from The Killers’ “All These Things That I Have Done” really doesn’t work (it’s spelt “soldier”, not¬†“souldier”, numb-nuts!), this just grates.

There isn’t an area called “United” to correspond with the “Country” from the original. There are no United Roads. Frankly, if you can’t be arsed¬†to think of a lyric that includes the M6 then you really shouldn’t be bothering.

Actually, since most Man Utd fans live in Surrey, they would need to include the A317, the A320, the M25 and the M1 too. And then the scanning would just be all over the shop.

And even worse, whenever I hear the original, as I did earlier today, prompting this post, what little pleasure I may gain from it is taken away from me by the memory of this aberration.

Pete, wherever and whoever you are, I hate you.

And before anyone has a pop, this has nothing to do with me not being a United fan. I’ve always found Man Utd to be a hugely entertaining football team, especially¬†over the last couple season or three, when they’ve been highly amusing.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

No normal post this week; I’ve been staring at the list of records I bought in 1984 trying to seek inspiration, but have not, as yet, been able to come up with anything of interest to say about any of them. Also, I didn’t have¬†a drink last night. I’m sure these two things aren’t related.

So, it’s Sunday morning, and all is well with the world: the weather was glorious yesterday, the Football season has started here in the UK (with a loss for Spurs, but you can’t have everything), and England have just absolutely tonked the Aussies for the second match in succession to regain the Ashes – and if there is a better sight in sport than the look of shock and delight on Stuart Broad’s face when Ben Stokes takes that amazing catch then I’m yet to see it.¬†I could watch that clip on a loop for a very long time before I started to get bored of it.

So anyway, I thought since the weather is threatening to be rather fine again today, I’d make this week’s Sunday Morning selection have a summery feel to them:

Betty-Boo-Let-Me-Take-You-T-105702

Betty Boo – Let Me Take You There¬†To say Alison Clarkson (for it is she)¬†has had a mixed¬†career in pop music is an understatement: originally a member of hip-hop group She Rockers, she toured The States supporting Public Enemy, and had an all-too¬†brief solo career under the alter-ego of Betty Boo, releasing the¬†rather wonderful¬†“Hey DJ (I Can’t Dance)”¬†The Beatmasters, the second video for which launched her uber-foxy Betty Boop meets Barbarella image, followed by the killer tracks “Doin’ The Do” and best of¬†all “Where Are You Baby?“, which if you don’t like, you are officially dead inside. ¬†Betty Boo’s short lived time on pop’s shelf of wanted goods¬†ended as suddenly as it began¬†around the time “Let Me Take You There” came out, when she was accused¬†of miming at a gig in, if memory serves me right, Australia. Later cited as the influence behind the Spice Girls, she wrote “Pure and Simple”, which was recorded by Hear’Say, winners of the reality show Popstars, the fore-runner to the X-Factor, and the video for which appears to show the band lighting their own farts. She’s also written for Girls Aloud (“Love Bomb” apparently. Nope, me neither), Louise, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and…er…The Tweenies, as well as making the frankly rather odd “WigWam” with Blur’s Alex James, a song which has not improved with age. She’s also provided guest vocals on a record by The Feeling so…y’know…a career with as many highs as lows, I think it’s a fair to say.

Like it? Buy it here.

Don_Henley_-_Boys_of_Summer_cover

Don Henley – The Boys of Summer

In the mid-1980s, it seemed there were former members of The Eagles everywhere; Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On” was featured on the sound track to Beverley Hills Cop, Don Henley released this corker and…erm….does anyone even know who the other members of The Eagles¬†were…?

Like it? Buy it here.

614qh14ECnL

John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulders

A typically schmaltzy offering on which¬†the Milky Bar Kid lookalike and country music’s most famous pilot (well, now ex-pilot, actually….)¬†advises us that “Sunshine on my shoulders always gets me high”. On one of his more famous records, which bizarrely got embroiled in the whole Tipper Gore/Judas Priest/DMCA court case back in the 90s, he describes getting a “Rocky Mountain High“. One suspects Denver thinks “getting high” is the same as “being happy”. Either that or he had a phenomenal dealer.

Like it? Buy it here.

Sundays-Summertime-97565

The Sundays – Summertime

I’m not going to talk too much about these late-80s/early-90s indie jingle-janglers and John Peels’ Festive 50 toppers (though not with this song) as they’ll feature later elsewhere on this blog. Calling a song Summertime leads to an almost¬†inevitable¬†comparison to the Gershwin-written Ella Fitzgerald classic (see?) and it would be wrong to do so (sorry!) for¬†The Sundays’ Summertime¬†is a) a completely different song, and b) simply wonderful in its own sweet way.

Like it? Buy it here.

Weezer_-_Green_Album

Weezer – Island In the Sun

If have a theory about Weezer and it is this: you only need to bother listening to their albums with a colour in the title. Check out the evidence: Blue Album – includes Buddy Holly and Undone (The Sweater Song); Green Album – contains Hash Pipe and Island In the Sun; Red Album – includes Pork and Beans

Now ask yourself: what other Weezer singles are worth listening to?

Like it? Buy it here.